Island Life

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It’s Thursday! It’s also my first day at work this week thanks to the long holiday weekend. I spent four glorious days taking in as much sun as possible while staying on beautiful Jeju. It was a heavenly weekend, and I returned home feeling relaxed and genuinely happy.

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Hotel view. I love having balconies. Sitting in the fresh air and taking in the sunshine.

My contract finishes up in about 5 months, and I will be moving out of the country shortly after. My future, as it currently stands, is quite uncertain. I’ll be deciding where I want to live next, what I want to do, and all other sorts of decisions will be made. Everything is up in the air, and for some people that can be exhilarating, but it does make me feel nervous. I always like having a bit of direction even if I don’t have everything planned out. But right now, at this moment, everything depends on several different things. It’s a bit complicated, and it has caused me a bit of stress.

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So it’s nice to get away every once in a while. It’s nice to escape to an island and not worry about anything for a few days. I spent a lot of the time on the beach, and I suddenly remembered how much I love the sea. Feeling the sand, the sun, and the saltwater was invigorating, and it put a lot of my worries at ease. Yes, I will have some big decisions to make in the coming months, but it’s important for me to remember to enjoy the present as well. Autumn has started here on the peninsula, and it’s my favorite season. I plan on taking advantage of every warm day and cool night as I can. 

Top Five Beauty

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I said in my last post that I’ve been laying off the makeup while my skin cleared up. Well, it worked! My skin is finally back to normal, and I’ve started my usual makeup routine again. It’s a fairly simple process, and takes me less than 5 minutes to do in the morning.

While my routine is quick and easy, I do experiment with different brands and products. I like trying out different textures from creams to liquids to powders, and I generally switch things up every few months. Here are 5 of the products that I currently use.

 

IMG_1976Makeup Forever HD Foundation – I really like this liquid foundation, and this is the second bottle I’ve gone through. That’s saying a lot because I only use a small amount so a bottle will last me a long while. I don’t remember when I bought this foundation first. I remember buying one of the lipsticks and not really liking it and being surprised by how much I liked the foundation. It goes on really evenly, and since foundation is the product I use the most, that’s really important for me.

Bobbi Brown BB Cream – This BB Cream I threw into my basket on a whim. Living in Korea, I’ve always been tempted to try out BB Cream as it’s wildly popular here. However, I’ve been told most skincare and makeup products contain bleach and are advertised as ‘whitening’. While I’ve never confirmed this personally, it’s not really a chance I’d like to take. So, while I was in America, I grabbed a tube. I got this one in Dark, which is a few shades too dark for my skin. I planned on using it to darken other foundations because it is quite thick. During the summer, I like to mix the Makeup Forever foundation and the Bobbi Brown BB Cream to an appropriate shade as I usually get darker as the summer goes on. It’s worked out really well!

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse - This product is a kind of a blast from the past for me. I remember really liking this product in high school, but then it became ‘cooler’ to use more name brand cosmetics like MAC. When I was browsing through a Boots in Ireland, I saw this product and had to buy it. It’s really light, and I like how I can easily spread it across my face using my (clean!) fingers. Since the summer has ended and I really haven’t gotten incredibly tan, I can use this color during the fall and into the winter if I want.

Bare Minerals Warmth- This is a product that I use quite rarely. Usually if I’m going out at night, I’ll dust a small amount across my entire face. I just find it adds a little extra something. Way back in the day, I purchased an entire set of Bare Minerals makeup. I wanted to try out powders instead of liquid, and I remember liking the products. However, I do prefer using mousses or liquids over powders. It’s just … to light? Anyway, I really liked the way Warmth elevated the look, and so I keep buying it for special occasions .

Bare Minerals Mineral Veil – I really love this product! I always give myself a fine dusting after I apply foundation. Always start with a primer and end with a veil. It just adds a finishing touch. I find that if I use too much it makes me look .. shimmery, but I usually tend to just give it a single swish across my face. I think I go between Original and Illuminating, and I do like them both equally.

 

So these are my top 5 favorites currently for my face. My personal preference for makeup has always been simple. Bold colors on the eyes or lips have always made me feel less confident, and so I take great stock in finding simple products that I love.  

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Face

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When I left for vacation, I didn’t want to pack one of the bulky face washes that I have at home so I decided to just pick something up at one of the many pharmacies around Paris.  Once I settled in, I chose a promising looking shop, asked the woman behind the counter for a recommendation for a face cleanser for sensitive skin, and made a selection. I ended up with a La Roche-Posay facial cleanser. 

La Roche-Posay - taken from the official website

La Roche-Posay – it looks so harmless, and apparently has gotten great reviews

A few days into the vacation, I dropped my moisturizer onto the bathroom floor, and it shattered. I hightailed it to the nearest Sephora because the water and weather had completely dried out my skin and I definitely couldn’t go without. I asked for a moisturizer that was fragrance-free and acceptable for sensitive skin and left with a Dior Hydra Life moisturizer.

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Hydra Life – It works pretty well, but I’m not even sure why I bought it. Less expensive brands have always suited me well.

By the time I got to Ireland, my skin had looked the worst it has been in years, maybe even since early high school. My skin was dry, and my cheeks and jawline were covered in rough bumps. Desperately hoping the reaction was from the face cleanser and not the moisturizer (it cost me 52 euros!), I ran to the nearest Lush and bought the ever trustworthy Angels on Bare Skin.

Angels on Bare Skin - The holy grail of face wash. It always leaves my skin feeling fresh and soft.

Angels on Bare Skin – The holy grail of face wash. It always leaves my skin feeling fresh and soft.

Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been using the moisturizer sparingly in combination with the one I had at home which I believe is a L’Oreal. I’ve been using those crazy looking Etude House face masks as a way to inject extra moisture into my skin. And lastly, I’ve been trying to give my skin a break and have stopped wearing makeup to work for a few days.

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Face Masks – I think I’ve used Bamboo, Olive, and Pearl so far.

My skin has always been hit or miss. I go months without a blemish, but when I do get them, they last for weeks and weeks at a time, and often scar even if I don’t touch them. And the scars last forever. In fact, I have a few on my forehead from blemishes I had last winter! So I try to treat my skin well. I drink loads of water and get a lot of sleep. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugars I eat and I rarely eat fried foods (I just don’t generally like them). I also have to be mindful of the products I use because some will randomly throw my ski into a frenzy, and so my skin care routine rarely changes. Let me know if you have any go to skin care tips.

 

Back To Reality

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It’s certainly been a while! Usually when I go on a vacation, I lug around my laptop and use it only about three or four times. This vacation, however, I decided to pack lightly and unplug for a little while.There is something to be said when I manage to pack for a 2+ week vacation without using a full sized suitcase. Although before I go patting myself on the back for being a savvy traveler, full disclosure: I DID pack seven pairs of shoes. 

Douce France cher pays de mon enfance... I don't remember anymore of the song lyrics..

Douce France cher pays de mon enfance… I don’t remember anymore of the song lyrics..

What started out as planning for a trip to Vietnam changed suddenly to a trip to France and Ireland. It’s a long story for another day perhaps. While I was bummed for not making it to Vietnam this time around, I can’t say I was too upset with Plan B. I mean, Paris? Dublin? Yes and yes please.

My mama's luggage. I think she might have brought about 70lbs too much! She's a big 'just in case' packer.

My mama’s luggage. I think she might have brought about 70lbs too much! She’s a big ‘just in case’ packer.

The first leg of the journey was to Paris where I met up with my mom. We stayed in a hotel near Invalides, which is actually relatively close to where I stayed during my time doing study abroad. It was a really nice area. I arrived pretty late at night, tired after the 13+ hour flight (and a layover!). That of course didn’t stop me from wandering around to find myself a baguette. After months of a bread-less existence, I was in heaven. So crusty. So soft. So perfect.

Late night demi baguette.

         Late night demi baguette.

Although I had spent some time in Paris before, this was the first trip for both my mother and my boyfriend, so we spent a lot of time visiting the usual suspects. Eiffel Tower? Check. Pere Lachaise? Check. Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Catacombs? Check, check, check, and check. Paris is a sprawling city, but the metro system is surprisingly easy to navigate. And while it does take a lot of time to get to and get into (hello lines!) many of these places, I did manage to take time to visit some of my favorite corners of the city that I loved when I was a student. The little park near my old apartment, the old church we visited during our art and architecture class, these were the places I knew I wanted to share with my loved ones.

Taken the day my mom arrived. We spent a lot of time walking around to beat the jetlag.

Taken the day my mom arrived. We spent a lot of time walking around to beat the jetlag.

Anyway, I’m feeling shockingly well considering I endured a 1.5 hour flight, a 4 hour layover, an 11 hour flight, a 3 hour train ride and a rather large time difference. Whenever I know there’s going to be a good chance of jetlag, I try to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine like the plague. If I’m arriving at night, I stay awake during the plane ride and power through the last few hours before I go to sleep. If I’m arriving in the morning, I try and sleep as much as I can on the plane and stay awake through the day. I do allow myself a short nap if I’m really struggling, but anything more than an hour tends to cause me to sleep poorly and wake up at 4am the next morning. Traveling across time zones is really difficult, but if I follow these tips, I usually feel fine the next day.

A little treat yo self for myself. Ladurée macarons. A bit pricey, but totally worth it.

A little treat yo self for myself. Ladurée macarons. A bit pricey, but totally worth it. You better believe I ate all of these that day.

I love learning new travel tips as they always make the journey much easier, so if you have any travel advice, please share it with me!

All I need in Paris at mealtime is some bread and some cheese. All day. Every day.

All I need in Paris at mealtime is some bread and some cheese. All day. Every day.

This City

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When I first moved to this country, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by my surroundings. There were so many sounds, smells, people, and bright lights that it made Manhattan seem like a quiet retreat. Over time, I’ve gotten used to the crowds, the neon, the loud music, and did I mention the crowds? From time to time though, I’ll stop and realize Wow this country is incredible. There’s never a shortage of things to do at literally any hour of the day (or night). This is what I got up to this weekend.

Prime real estate for people watching.

Prime real estate for people watching.

Monopoly is still fun! I also managed to put a hotel on Park Place and Boardwalk for the first time ever.

Monopoly is still fun! I also managed to put a hotel on Park Place and Boardwalk for the first time ever.

 

I love coffee shops. They’re usually open 24/7, and are multi-level. That’s 3 floors of coffee shop to kick back and relax in. Sometimes, there are also books to read, computers to use, or board games. This is why everyone I know is addicted to Settlers of Catan. I’m more of a Clue girl myself. This weekend, though, we played an intense game of Monopoly. Of course, there was no winner because in true Monopoly style, we gave up before the end.

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Underground City

Underground malls are pretty interesting. Korea is super tiny with a really large population. Since 70% of the country is made up of mountains, you can either build up or down. Koreans do both. There’s basically everything down there including clothes, shoes, food, cameras, jewelry, cell phones, souvenirs, and nail salons. I snapped this photo on my way to the subway. Yes, this is the mall located in the subway station. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.

A Work In Progress

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If I had to take a guess, I would say most people would describe themselves as “a work in progress”. I’m no different. While I like to believe I’m a fairly well adjusted person, there are a few things that are filed under my “needs improvement” list. “Make more lists” is also something I need to work on as I’m always forgetting things. So without further ado, here is a list of a few things I do that I probably shouldn’t..

  • I keep my dressers wildly disorganized.
  • I eat out way more often than I should.
  • I don’t have a go-to hair care routine.
  • Or a skin care routine.
  • I go to work with messy bed head more often than not.
  • I spend way too many working hours on Buzzfeed.
  • I’m constantly misplacing everything.
  • Big things (getting my purse stolen) don’t seem to bother me as much as the little things (forgetting to buy milk) which drive me mad.
  • I don’t take nearly enough photos.

At work - no makeup and some serious bed head. I've claimed messy hair as my 'thing', mostly out of laziness.

At work – no makeup and some serious bed head. I’ve claimed messy hair as my ‘thing’, mostly out of laziness.

Styled hair, but still no makeup. Baby steps, right?

Styled hair, but still no makeup. Baby steps, right?

Musical Morning

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When it comes to music, it’s often a struggle to get me to listen to something new. I tend to love a song deeply, listen to it over and over, get tired of it and stop listening, and then months or years later rediscover it and love it all over again. 

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A few of my friends and I would make mix CD’s for each other and exchange them, at first in person (in high school) and later by mail (in university). Yes, CD’s! It was a fun way of giving and receiving something physical, and not knowing what would play next. This is how I learned to love music from the likes of The Fratellis, Rocky Votolato, Trevor Hall, and Passion Pit. 

Before I moved to Korea, going to concerts was a much loved hobby of mine. Living less than 20 minutes from Manhattan worked to my advantage, and often times my friends and I would pile into a car and head to Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Upstate New York. We even trekked to Tennessee one year for Bonnaroo, It was a fun social activity and a means to discovering new music, not to mention the experience of hearing music in those settings. 644196_10200248480758001_1548284177_n

For the most part, Western bands don’t travel through Korea very often. I was lucky enough to catch a Ra Ra Riot show a few months ago, and last year went to Ansan Valley Rock Music Festival (which was cancelled this year), and every once and a great while a friend will recommend a band (last year it was Alt-J). However, these days I’ve been tasked with discovering new music on my own.

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Lately, I’ve really been loving Laura Marling. She’s incredibly talented and such a darling. Honestly, before I started listening to her own work, I only knew her from Noah & the Whale, the song The Water which she did with Johnny Flynn, and her past relationship with the lead singer from Mumford and Sons. I’m so glad I finally got to listen to her as I think she’s brilliant. I’m currently listening to a live version of I Was An Eagle.

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I can still remember watching the sunset over the Manhattan skyline here. It was magical.

 

What music are you loving lately? I’m constantly looking for recommendations.

A Furry Friend

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Growing up, I was a pretty shy child. I was quiet, didn’t speak out, and while I always had good friends, I also always needed a lot of alone time. Fortunately, I wasn’t really alone because there were always pets in the house, at least one but often more at any given time. 

Between my brothers and myself we’ve had dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, and fish.The first pet I remember was an orange cat named Spanky. I loved him so much, but the first pet I called my very own was a hamster. I insisted on naming her Magical Princess. (Cut me some slack, I was 4.)  

My parents' dog Lizzie (on the right) and her bff Cookie. I claim her as my own whenever I'm there.

My parents’ dog Lizzie (on the right) and her bff Cookie. I claim her as my own whenever I’m there.

Going away to university was my first taste of life without a pet. My roommates and I would always talk about getting a cat, but thankfully, we never actually got one. We could barely take care of ourselves; how would we manage to take care of an animal? Our apartment was messy enough as it was.

These days, I live alone. Alone alone. No roommates and no furry (or not so furry) friends. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s hard. There are few things better than cuddling with a cat or a pup in bed. It’s calming and reassuring having someone around 24/7, and I always view my pets as extended family. I did toy with the idea of getting a cat here in Korea, but ultimately decided against it. My studio is pretty cramped as is, and the 15+ hour trip home plus potential months of quarantine is simply too unfair for a pet to endure. 

Choco. In typical cat fashion Yes this menu is the perfect bed.

Choco. In typical cat fashion Yes this menu is the perfect bed.

I know it sounds silly, but growing up with pets around and then suddenly not having them is uncomfortable and strange. And since I can’t have a pet of my own, I’ve resorted to visiting any establishment that has a resident pet. My favorite place currently is an English Cafe in downtown Daegu. The owner is a lovely woman who has two precious kitties, Choco and Ouyou (Chocolate and Milk). As you can imagine, one is black and one is white. I die for them.

A Summer Treat

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A meal is not a meal without dessert. I always like to finish up with a sweet component as I think it rounds everything out. For me, dessert isn’t a ‘once in a while’ treat. 

In my mind there are two kinds of desserts. There’s light and refreshing (think sorbet, vanilla or some other light flavored ice cream and other fruity sweets) and there’s rich and indulgent  (think rich chocolate fudge or cake or creme brulee). Obviously, I tend to favor the latter category.

IMG_1603During the summer months, however, I tendto crave the lighter desserts. It’s so hot and humid that a rich decadent I-could-die-happily-after-this cake is just not as appealing. So during the more sweltering days, I tend to eat a lot of fruit and a lot of ice cream. 

This week, I went to a cafe called Sol Bing, and I had the best bingsu I’ve ever had. It was ice shaved incredibly fine topped with yogurt and sweet berries. It’s an incredibly light dessert, and it’s so cold and refreshing that it’s perfect for these unbearably hot summer days. I think I’ve found my new go to summer spot.

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I would have eaten this entire mountain alone. But don’t worry, I totally shared with a friend.

In America, I tend to live off of frozen yogurt, and it’s probably one of the things I miss the most. (Aside from bagels, cheese, and sandwiches) What are your favorite summer treats? How often do you eat in dessert? 

Only in Korea….

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Korea is an interesting place. It’s gone from one of the poorest nations in the world to one of the wealthiest. It’s got the fastest wifi, the most mobile phones, and everyone from toddlers to the elderly are tech obsessed. It’s a culture that’s based on Confucianism, work, friends, and family. In Manhattan, you can joke that there’s a coffee shop on every corner. In Korea, the reality is that there are three. Here are a few of my favorite things about Korea that are very typical of the culture.

Hostel entrance in Seoul, Korea.

Hostel entrance in Seoul, Korea.

Shoes Off

Before entering a home, you are supposed to remove your shoes. I work in a school, and everyone from the kindergartners to the principal puts on a second pair of ‘indoor shoes’. The same goes for many hostels and hotels.

Buy a drink, play with animals.

Buy a drink, play with animals.

Pet Cafes

I love pet cafes! Picture this, a spacious cafe with booths, lattes and smoothies, and dogs of all sizes playing everywhere. You can bring your own pooch or just sit and play with the numerous dogs owned by the cafe. Apparently a large number of these cafes rescue the dogs.

Downtown Daegu, Korea.

Downtown Daegu, Korea.

Drink Mascots

Drinking is a big part of Korean culture. So why not have mascots of beer and liquor running around the city?

I had to phone jail my 4th graders.

I had to phone jail my 4th graders.

Cell Phones

Korea is one of the most wired cities in the world. Everyone and their moms (and their kids) uses mobile phones. You get cell coverage everywhere from the mountains to the underground. The addiction is real.

Of course there is much more to the culture than just its quirks, but it’s these qualities that make the country so endearing. 

 

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