Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Eats #2

Here is the second round of my Sunday eats and it's also the last one I did while living in the apartment for summer school. The food was pretty random as I was trying finish some of the things that my parents brought over from when they visited me. 

- Breakfast - 

Yogurt with oats, topped with pineapples and honey. 

- Lunch - 

Quinoa and Mandarin orange chicken from TJ's, Japanese Wakame salad, and a Hawaiian roll fresh from the oven. 
(Put my sweet Hawaiian roll in the oven for the first time and it was delicious!)

For dessert, I had a small bowl of Japanese sweet pumpkin soup.

- Snack -

Half a cup of tea with a bit of almond milk and cookies from TJ's

- Dinner - 

Leftover quinoa from lunch, steamed broccoli with black pepper, cherry tomatoes, Hawaiian roll, and homemade shaomai, which are Chinese dumplings filled with sticky rice, minced pork, and mushrooms (There are many different varieties and this one originates from Shanghai). 

Though the food was all very different and a little random, they were very yummy and satisfying :p

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Empties & almost empties review

Hi there! I'm typing this post up as I just got out of a nice and long shower after doing one of Blogilates workouts on Youtube. Tried the 5-minute ab workout for the first time and boy, was it intense!

Anyhoo, after I used up my bottle of Aveeno shave gel the other day, I thought I would do a quick review of it along with a few other products that are close to emptying out. I was thinking of saving the empties and do a collective review on all of them later, but I hoard enough things as it is that I think it's going to be hard to keep track of everything. So here are my thoughts on the things I've used up (and almost using up): 

First impression: Very gentle on the skin and has a light scent. It works into a creamy lather and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth. 
Product details: Helps you to shave less often and helps prevent nicks, cuts, and razor burns. It's gentle enough to use on sensitive skin. 
Final thoughts: While it didn't irritate or dry out my skin, I still managed to get a few razor burns from time to time. After multiple uses, I noticed that I didn't have to shave my legs as often as I used to. The hair on my legs seemed to have grown back slower and lighter. Though the same cannot be said about the armpit situation. 

First impression: A basic, travel size shower gel that has a refreshingly crisp and clean grapefruit scent. 
Product details: Soap-free, lather-rich, refreshing grapefruit scent 
Final thoughts: This tiny bottle is not worth the retailing price ($4). While I enjoyed the scent, the shower gel didn't stand out to me.

First impression: It made my hair feel light and soft. It has a flower scent that's not overwhelming at all. 
Product details: Formulated with honey and milk protein that strengthens and protects severely damaged hair. Leaves hair soft, elastic, and easy to manage. Gives limp and flat hair a light and bouncy feel.
Final thoughts: A quick hair profile ~~ I have naturally wavy thick hair with no split ends. ~~
With all the sun and heat damage my hair has gone through, I feel that this mask has really helped with keeping the ends of my hair hydrated and protected as they aren't as dull-looking as they used to be. Overall, it's a good moisturizing hair mask that leaves hair feeling extremely light and smooth.

I hope you have a warm and wonderful Labor Day weekend!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Feelin' Blue

It's been such a long time since I've treated myself to new nail polish, and even longer time since I've painted my nails. I was trying hard to limit myself on getting new nail polishes because I tend to go overboard with all of the never-ending pretty colors that they're always coming out with. But while I was in Forever 21 the other day, I gave in and picked up this nail polish in the warm blue color, called Stone Blue. This was definitely an impulsive buy and the fact that there was a student discount happening that day did not help haha. I've never tried Forever 21's nail polishes before, but at $2.80 a bottle, I thought why not. 

This is a nice transitioning color from summer to fall since the next season is right around the corner. (I wouldn't be surprised if the stores are stocking up on Halloween things right about now). The color's not showy, but it still has a very cool and chic look to it. I applied 2-3 coats and expected for it to chip easily after a few days. It's been over a week now and the nail polish is still looking pretty good with no major chips. This is impressive considering that I didn't use a base or top coat this time (anyone else guilty of this?). In terms of the quality, it's way better than the nail polishes I have from Claire's, and I would place it right below the drugstore brand nail polishes that I own - the ones from Maybelline and Sally Hansen. 

Forever 21's nail polish in Stone Blue left a great first impression on me. It's decent quality at an affordable price, how can I say no to that? 

What are some of your favorite nail polish colors for Fall?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beach, sand, and rocking rides

I've been looking forward to writing this post all day today because it is very different from the usual food and somewhat beauty posts that I normally do. This probably has to be one of my favorite posts to share! A big part of it has to do with the photos I've included because I think they captured my Saturday perfectly - clear sky, warm sand, and fun rides! 

Studying at a university that is only a short drive away from the beach boardwalk - the "World's Best Seaside Amusement Park" according to Amusement Today - definitely has its perks. Despite Santa Cruz being a relatively small and local town, it attracts quite a crowd all year round with its breathtaking ocean views, long scenic drives, and of course the well-known Beach Boardwalk. It's no doubt that summer is the busiest time of the year as families and friends come here for vacation. Since I've been staying here for summer school, this is the first time that I got the chance to get in on the excitement with all the tourists and such. It felt like I was on a mini-vacation myself. 

I remember the very first time that I came to the boardwalk was during the first week of my freshman year. And ever since then, I've been here so many times that I've lost count. Just last week, my friends from home came to visit and I brought them to the boardwalk. And a few days later, I came here again when my parents came to see me. Sure enough, I was back at the boardwalk this weekend when my friends invited me for a beach day! The weather's been really nice and I've been craving amusement park food so I couldn't say no. Plus I'm always down for some good company. At the end of the day and some sunburns later, I caught up with friends, played on the beach, and indulged in some amusement park food. It was all very laid-back and wonderful. 

I'm not sure why it took me this long to get a couple of decent shots of the boardwalk when I've been going to school here for more than three years now, but I finally got around to it this time around and wanted to share them here. The photos that I took are only bits and pieces of the boardwalk, but I hope you enjoy looking through them! Maybe it'll bring you a little bit of that summer vibe ☀︎ 

The view of the Santa Cruz Wharf from the beach

Now onto the rides....

One of the most popular rides at the Beach Boardwalk

 Sea Swings
Imagine the breathtaking views you get to see on that thing!

Spins at maximum speed. I think I'll pass..

A ferris wheel that spins backwards where you're in control of rocking the cage you're in.

The view of the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster from the boardwalk...

...and here's the spectacular view from the top

And finally, craving satisfied.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pasta Salad with Kale & Sweet Potatoes

How is summer almost over already? Even though I don't go back to school until the end of September, I'm still feeling a little sad because I know there are a lot of people who are returning to school this month. That summer vibe is slowly going away and next thing you know, it'll be fall time! Seriously, where has the time gone??
As summer comes to an end, I bring you a simple and colorful pasta salad that I like to put together for those nights when I don't want to bother with using the stove. Being the health fanatic that I sometimes am, I just want to mention that there's no added sugar or highly processed ingredients in this recipe. I think this is also great way to get all types of nutrients in one plate as experts suggest to include a wide variety of different colored foods in our diets.

Here's a very casual recipe - feel free to adjust it to your liking :)

Makes 3 servings

1 cup Penne pasta 
Handful of kale 
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes/yams
1/2 cup cherry Tomatoes
Vinegar or black pepper 

I started with the sweet potatoes because they take the longest to cook.
After preheating the oven to 400 degrees F., I washed the sweet potatoes under cold water, then stabbed them a couple of times with a fork and wrapped them loosely in foil. They were in the oven for about 50 minutes when the insides turned soft when poked with a knife.
For the kale, I bought washed, packaged ones from the store. In a pan set on high heat, I waited for the olive oil to warm up until I tossed in the kale. I cooked it for 10 minutes when the leaves shriveled up.
After cutting the sweet potatoes in cubes, I tossed it with the cooked pasta and kale. I sprinkled some black pepper or you could use vinegar to add more flavor. I let it cool and stored it in an airtight container in the fridge. They can be served right out of the fridge!

Let me know if you're going to give it a try!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Body Shop Review | A hit...and a miss

If you've been reading my review posts lately, you've probably noticed that a majority of the stuff are from The Body Shop. Maybe it's because I'm still a newbie when it comes to beauty things, but I always find myself going back to The Body Shop to look for products to try. I think it's their endless sales and promotions that keep reeling me in. Here are two of their "best-seller" products, Nutriganics Drops of Youth and Vitamin C Skin Boost that I'm going to review. One's a hit and one's a miss. 

It didn't take me 'till now to realize that Nutriganics Drops of Youth is actually an anti-aging serum that targets the first signs of aging. I think this just goes to show how clueless I am when it comes to beauty-related things, ah bare with me please haha. I do love to experiment and play around with new products however! 

I was very impressed by this serum when I first used it that I bought another one after finishing the first (note: this item no longer ships to California, can be purchased in stores only). It does exactly what it claims as it enhances surface skin condition, smoothes, and instantly moisturizes. For such a small bottle with a pretty big price tag, I mostly use it at night time after washing my face and it leaves my skin super soft, dewy, and fresh looking. On occasion, I would use it during the day to give my skin a fresher and healthier look. The serum has a light scent and unlike FAB's liquid serum (review here), it has a slightly thicker and goo-y consistency, making it easy to apply and massage onto my face. In terms of its anti-aging claims, I haven't noticed any major differences, but it has made my face look a lot brighter and smoother than it used to. 

This serum is an essential part of my daily skincare routine. It's gentle and non-drying while leaving my skin looking smooth and fresh. I would highly recommend this serum to those of you who have a dull/rough complexion. 

(P.S. You can usually get the product at a cheaper price than it originally retails with the sales & promotions that they always have going on!)

Now onto the one that was a miss...

I was really excited to try this because I was looking for something to help brighten my skin tone. After the first use however, my thought was that this small bottle was not worth the price. It claims to create instant smoothing radiance with a silky smooth finish and enhance your glow. But in actuality, this product did not work for me at all. Since it's slightly oily, I would use it in the mornings before I put on my moisturizer. It dispenses a tiny amount in one pump and it's more than enough to smooth over my entire face. Although it was an easy application as the formula glided on my skin and had a nice citrus scent, it really didn't do any more than that. The "glow" that it supposedly gives is from the light-reflecting specks in the formula, but I honestly did not see any brightening effects.

In short, the Vitamin C Skin Boost left my skin smooth and soft, but only temporary. At $27 a bottle, I would not be buying this again because I didn't see any long-term results. I think this would make a good base for makeup, but that's not really what I was looking for. 

I hope you found this review helpful and thank you for reading :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunday Eats #1

Now that I've been living on my own for over a month now, i've realized that food is the number one thing that i'm always thinking about. When i'm not eating, i'm thinking about what to eat for the next meal or next day, and when i am eating, i'm usually thinking about what to pack for lunch for work/school tomorrow. When i'm showering or just doing some things online, my mind would randomly drift to thinking about food and if there is anything to eat in the apartment. 

Being the indecisive person that i am, going grocery shopping takes me way longer than it should be. Trust me, you do not want to go food shopping with me because i will just stand in front of the yogurt or cereal aisle and think long and hard about what to get. There are just so many choices and i want to try everything! I've given up on making grocery lists because they never work for me. I always make last minute decisions once i'm at the store. Do you know anyone who's like that? 

If I want to cook a meal that is satisfying and going to give me plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week, i have to always plan ahead to prepare the ingredients. The first time i made chicken curry, it wasn't until the last minute that i found out i had to defrost the chicken breasts overnight in the fridge. That was a slight setback all right. Like i said, planning ahead is extremely important when it comes to making a home cooked meal. Oh gosh, look at me just rambling on. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start doing some life in a day, in this case, Sunday posts that are going to be all about the food that i ate on that day. Just wanted to share the healthy, not-so-healthy, and at-times-random meals that i eat on lazy Sundays!

- Breakfast -

I had oatmeal with banana, blueberries, raisins, with cinnamon and chia seeds sprinkled on top. I also made myself a cup of mocha with 1 tablespoon instant coffee + 2 tablespoons dark hot chocolate + almond milk. 

- Lunch -
I was at Trader Joe's the other day and grabbed these because i thought i would give it a try. The Mandarin Orange Chicken looked especially good when i was in the freezer aisle. I think i had a craving for meat that day. 

First off, the quinoa was really annoying to wash because the tiny grains easily slipped through my fingers when i was pouring out the dirty water. And for the price, it was not worth it. I won't be getting it again. On the other hand, the orange chicken was tender and very tasty! I think it was mostly the sauce that made me want to have more haha. It came with two mandarin orange ginger sauce packs that you can heat up in the microwave.

 Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, Mandarin orange chicken, and fried egg

 - Snack - 

Golden kiwi, blueberries, and grapes

- Dinner - 

This was where i got lazy...but hey ramen is essential when it comes to college eats. 

To help with my craving for something sweet after dinner, i had cereal with honey and cinnamon. 

(You can obviously tell that i put the most effort into my breakfast and everything just gradually starts going downhill from there.)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

DIY Summer Treats: Very Berry Smoothie

Of course I had to include a smoothie recipe for the DIY Summer Treats series!

❊ ❊ ❊

Serving: 1

1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana, frozen
1/3 cup pineapples, cubed
2 tablespoons greek yogurt 
1 cup coconut water