Saturday, November 28, 2009

Amazing Arepas- CARACAS Review

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating"  -Luciano Pavarotti

There are girls that pick at salads... and then there are girls that know the joy of eating.  I am one of the latter.  Of my many passions, food is an extremely important part of my life.  Growing up, I was the pickiest eater (my family still makes fun of me for only eating fried chicken) and meals were a chore to me.

At some point during my high school years, I became a foodie. I have tried food from all over the world, I love watching cooking shows, and I love finding new places to try and recommend.

The other day I went to Caracas- a Venezuelan Homemade Arepas restaurant.
First sign that it was good was there was a waiting list and we were on it~ (It is almost always a good sign when there is a line for food. The only time it's not a good sign is when it is a line of tourists... that's when you stay away).  After about a 10-15 min. wait, we were seated at our tables.

Caracas is definitely a hole-in-the-wall ~ people that go there go back and bring their friends.  It's not a fancy restaurant.  It is small, loud, and dark... jam-packed with people eating good food.  It's great.

They start by bringing you guacamole with Terra Chips (instead of the standard tortilla chips).  I  liked the guacamole because they don't put in a lot of cilantro (which i haaaaaaaaate) like most other places. 

Caracas is known for their Arepas- which is a bread made from corn (similar to a thick tortilla) and filled with lots of delicious goodness.  Now I LOOOOOOVE sandwiches (Crystal calls me "Joey" ... from Friends).  This isn't the typical sandwich...but they are sandwichesque nonetheless and they're FANTASTIC!

We started out with the Tequenos- fried white cheese sticks wrapped in wheat flour dough ($8.75).  These are not your mother's mozzarella sticks.  The bread, the cheese they use... combined with the sauce and it's pure cheesy goodness.  The portion is also surprisingly big...

We then ordered the Curiaras (a combo of 3 split arepas on a platter) ($22).  Angie and I ordered the La Popular set, which has the most traditional arepas.
* La de Pabellon has shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and sweet plantains.  It's a great mixture of salty and sweet
* La Reina Pepiada is a chunky chicken and avacado mix salad.  This one is cold and tastes like chicken salad with a punch.  It was nice to have something cold mixed with the warm arepas
* La Mulata has grilled white cheese with jalapenos, sauteed red peppers, fried sweet plantains, and black beans.  The spiciness combined with sweet is muy delicioso.

Oh, Most Importantly... the sauce they use is AWESOME!  Now, I am all about the sauce/condiments.  I like to say that I like food with my condiments.  When I asked Lance if they had Chimichurri sauce, he said the sauce here was a million times better... Now I don't know about that... but it comes pretty close if not equal...  There were times we had to wait for each other to finish using the sauce.  You can apparently buy the sauce... but don't quote me on that.

I also drank the Tinto de Verano ($7)- a drink that's similar to Sangria, but not as sweet.  Everyone else drank beer~ I don't drink beer, but I'm sure beer complements the arepas very well.  I thought the Tinto de Verano was very good... but then again... I'll drink almost anything with alcohol

They are all delicious and complement each other very well.. but my favorite was probably the La de Pabellon (Tracy and Lance also ordered this one too, so I think it's a good one to start with).  The arepas may look small... but it's like the little sandwich that could.  After the tequenos and 1.5 arepas... I was stuffed. But I ate it ALLL... which is quite a feat for me because I usually can't eat a lot at one meal.  Best part... Ang didn't finish one of her arepas so I was able to bring it home ( I live for leftovers!)

So, if you're looking for a low-key place with ambiance to eat lots of food for a good price... Check out Caracas at 91 East 7th Street (btwn 1st Avenue and Avenue A) and at 291 Grand Street (Between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street) in Brooklyn.

Caracas has been mentioned in The New York Times, NYMAG,  and a number of times in Time Out Magazine.

Click here for more info

"All sorrows are less with bread " -Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tarte Cheek Stain

I actually got this product a few years ago at a yoga event where they were giving out these babies for free.  It's one of the best freebies I've ever gotten (and you know I LOOOVE my freebies~ If it's free, it's for me!)
I have the colors FLUSH and BLUSHING BRIDE

The Tarte Cheek Stain comes in a circular push-up tube. It goes on very light, so you can layer to add more colors.
The product is a gel-like/ lip-balmy texture that is different from most. I like to actually stamp it onto the face and blend. You can also just rub some on with your fingertips and blend.

* It gives a very light and natural looking color.  It's great because you won't look too powdery, as blush can.  Instead, it gives you a very fresh and dewy look.
* It's great for everyday because you can just swipe, blend, and go!
* Another great thing is that it smells really good ~ They all have different fruity scents!

The Tarte T5 Super Fruit Complex™ is a proprietary blend of the five most active superfruits: goji, açaí, maracuja, acerola, and pomegranate. The first blend of its kind, the T5 Super Fruit Complex™ is loaded with naturally occurring, antioxidant-rich nutrients, and vitamins that have been known to deliver refining, antiaging, and skin-restorative benefits with each application. It contains a natural fragrance and is free from preservatives, paraben, sulfate, phthalate, and mineral oil. Dermatologist-tested. 

In keeping with Tarte's eco-friendly efforts, they've partnered with Sambazon, creators of the Sustainable Açaí Project—an initiative to promote positive change in the Amazon Rainforest through forest conservation, improved living conditions, and educational opportunities through the sustainable management of the Açaí Palm tree. Açaí is an antioxidant-rich super fruit that helps fight free radicals, promotes cell regeneration, has known anti-inflammatory and skin softening properties, and combats premature signs of aging.  

There are 8 different colors and special editions at Sephora.
If you want add a little color to the face that looks pretty and natural, this is the product for you!

Retail Price: $30

Click here to order

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving- What Are You Thankful For?

 God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say "Thank You?"   -William A. Ward

Happy Thanksgiving Day everyone! 

I loooove Thanksgiving. Growing up, it was my favorite holiday because although I was a very picky eater as a child, Turkey Day at my aunt's was AWESOME.  We went all out~ Turkey, Stuffing, Ham, and Yams were my favorite.  Even then, I was all about eating the leftovers late at night!

Another year has come and I am reminded to think about all the things I have in my life~ Here are the things I am thankful for:
* My health (Physical/Mental)- I'm always tired, but overall, I'd say I'm very healthy.  Last year was hell, but I'm lucky to be in a good place in my life and still be able to be a generally happy and optimistic person
* My Family and Friends- I am really blessed to have the people I have in my life.
* A Job (3 to be exact)- At a time when people are getting laid off left and right, I'm really lucky to have work right now.  Even better- I get to work in Fashion and Beauty. I love what I do
* Living in America- Especially after going to Africa this summer, I truly appreciate all that we have in America
* Having a Christian foundation- I think if I didn't have God in my life... my life would be a lot worse. 
* My life- I have been able to experience sooooo many wonderful things in my life. I truly am blessed. I love my life.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you at a point in your life when nothing seems to be going right and there doesn't seem likes there's much... or anything... to be thankful for?

 One thing my dad said is that you're never guaranteed a tomorrow. If you're alive... you always have a chance to turn things around.  Even if situations can't change, your perspective and the way you approach things can always be changed for the better.
Hopefully, you can find things to be thankful for in your life.  If you can't, search a little harder. It's there.
Happy Thanksgiving~*

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
- Maria Robinson

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
- Albert Einstein

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Decleor Aromessence Baume

This is the only product that I have from Decleor, but I love it!  It comes in a jar and has an almost waxy/oily consistency.  This is a great product for people with dry skin.  You only need a little amount of product, and it'll make a big difference.  After a while, the product will sink into your skin, leaving it feeling more moisturized and with a dewy glow.

The balm comes in many different scents- I have the Ylang Ylang and although I don't really like the smell ( I don't really like heavy, musky scents) my clients are always saying they love the smell and ask what I am using on them. I also have the rose one I use on myself and I love the scent.

You can use this as a night time moisturizer (or else put it on early enough before you head out so it sinks in) or as an aromatherapy balm (Put on your pulse points- Behind your ears, On your neck, wrists, and decolletage).

The way I like to use this product is at the end of the makeover, I press the product into the cheeks to give a dewy look (can you tell that I'm all about the dewy glow?)  It takes away the over-powdered look and also adds moisture to the skin.

It's not cheap, but a little goes a long way. Balms away!  =)

Retail Price: $69

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gaga for Gaga

Lady Gaga- She came out of nowhere and has taken over the world.  Lady Gaga made a huge impact on the music scene in August 2008 with her album "The Fame" and keeps rocking with her new album "The Fame Monster"

I remember hearing the song "Just Dance" on the radio and thinking.. "Ooh, I like this song. It's really catchy!" It soon became the song I was waiting to hear on the radio.  After I saw the music video... it was done... I was officially in love. So much fabulous stimulus: The clothes, the makeup, the dancing,  the hot people writhing on the floor!!! What is all this fabulousness? "Where are my keys, I've lost my phone" ~OMG...This is a song just for me!!!
My favorite scenes:  When she walks in like she owns the room (and she does!), playing around with the disco ball, licking her finger to "Wish I could shut my playboy mouth",  and all her little dance moves before Colbie O'Donnis comes on. So cool.

That was the first song... then I heard the whole Fame album.  SUCH a great album.  This is another rare album where you can play all the songs through.  My favorites are Just Dance, Poker Face, Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say), and Boys Boys Boys!
I used to have Boy's Boy's Boy's as my ring tone during beauty school, and by the end of school , the girls were all humming and singing along! =)  It was my theme song of 2009.

Why do I love Lady Gaga? Oh, Let me count the ways.
She's so different- Unless you're living in a cave, you must have seen some of her crazy outfits: her hair bows, the bubble dress (my favorite), her red lace outfit at the MTV VMAs, the sunglasses, the orbit outfit.
She has great music- The songs are all catchy.  And I feel like her music is different from most pop music.  Not only does she have good songs, she has a good voice.  You may not realize, but when you hear her sing, she has a lot of talent. Her singing voice reminds me of Christina Aguilera.
She's a good dancer/performer:  I love her dancing in "Just Dance", "Love Game", and "Bad Romance"  I went all the way down to Virginia to see her in concert... and it was worth the 5 hour drive. Lady Gaga puts on a show!!! 
She's over the top- To Me, Enough is Never Enough... and she seems to live the same way.  She takes things to the limit... and beyond!

Her  new album "The Fame Monster" is out on Monday November 23, 2009.  I don't normally buy c.d.'s (unless I lose them from the library!) but I had to go out and get this.  I was not disappointed.  There are only 8 tracks, but it's 8 tracks of awesomeness.  Very pop, dance, euro-popish electronic beats. The songs address fears~

Click here for an album sampler or below for the full songs:

Bad Romance- My favorite track.  I am playing it nonstop (to the chagrin of my roommate) but it's such a catchy song and the video is FABULOUS.
Alejandro- Another song I keep playing on repeat.
Monster- (Fear of Sex) I like this song cause I've met a lot of monsters this year  ;)
Speechless- (Fear of Loneliness)  An operatic ballad~ "So baby raise a glass to mend all the broken hearts of all my wrecked up friends"
Dance In The Dark-  (Fear of Death) A little reminiscent of Madonna's Vogue with the references~
Telephone- (Fear of Committment)  Duet w/ Beyonce (and so much better than Beyonce's song Video Phone)  I like it the more I hear it
Teeth- (Fear of the Truth) Sounds like a Native American dance... ish.  Scandalous lyrics( "Take a bite of my bad girl meat")

The songs are Amazing. She is Amazing. Go and get some Amazing in your life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


"There's the people you've known forever. Who like...know this way, that other people can't. Because they've seen you change; they've let you change"  
-My So-Called Life

I always say that I'm very lucky and have very good people in my life.  For all the talking that I do... I actually don't say "I Love You"  to people very much... And when people say "I Love You" to me... I like to respond with a smile and a  genuine "Thank You!"  ;)  So... even though I don't say it often, my friends know that I love them. This post is dedicated to them.

If you are a close friend of mine... you have a lot on your plate. I will be the first one to tell you that I'm not an easy person to have in your life... I come with a lot of baggage:
* I can be high maintenance and a little OCD about having things "Just Right" and "Perfect"
* I'm really clumsy, spill things, and can leave a mess wherever I go.
* I like getting things my way... and have a hard time hearing "No"
* I make myself at home wherever I am (which means I schlep all my stuff with me to my friends' apt. They make sure that it's gone when I leave... I've taken to hiding things when I have to)
* I somehow always get into the craziest situations... and if you're with me at the time...  you get into them too
* I am a crazy mess when I get frazzled.. My friends have gotten very good at calming me down (or ignoring me when there is no calming down)
* I'm like an 80 year old man... I repeat the same stories over and over...and I have a really bad memory, so I ask the same questions over and over
* I'm kind of like a hurricane.  I can cause chaos wherever I go~ and my friends are pretty low-key so their blood pressure can get really high when we're together
* I do a lot of things without thinking.... which can bring about negative consequences

My friends have been with me through thick and thin.  Most of my friends are friends I've known all my life (I don't know how they survived).
*They've been there through my snotty spoiled brat phase and my "It's my way or no way" stage (yes.. they are different)
* They've fed me ( I never have to worry about eating), clothed me (I am their personal salvation army), and sheltered me (Crystal/Tracy and London Susan on Upper West Side and Viv's apartment in Spanish Harlem)
* They've supported me with whatever I chose to do at the time~ from work (retail, teacher, cooking teacher, hostessing, secretary, and especially makeup artist!), where I go- London, Europe, Africa... to all the craziness that is my life
* They've lent an ear when I have to rant... and just sat with me when I can't bring myself to talk
* They risk their lives by riding in my car... (and when I'm in a rush... it CAN be a definite risk...)
* They've taken care of me when I drank past my limit (which has only happened a handful of times)  ;)
* They give me the insight that I can't see on my own, the advice I need to hear, and the encouragement ("Go For It") or discouragement ("No iRene.  That's crazy") that I need
* They've helped me through the death of my mother, my break up of a 6 year relationship, the remodeling of our house and apartment, 2 bouts of serious depression, and career changes

Most importantly...they accept me for who I am.
Thank You for being my friend and taking this journey with me.

To all the people I am lucky enough to call a friend~ Here is a song dedicated to you~*

To the girls that have been with me through all the twists and turns of life:
Ang- We may be continents apart, but you'll always be near and dear to my heart
Crystal- The older sister I never had~ You're always watching out for me. 
Grace- We may fight like no other (although we HAVE gotten better over the years), but it's just because we're that close!
Susan-My wife. My BF. My Sister
Tracy- Though time spent may not be long, my love for you is always strong.
Viv- From our days bike riding around H.P, you've been there through it all.

You girls know me better than I know myself.  Without you, my life is incomplete ~*

A friend is someone to turn to when our spirits need a lift.
A friend is someone we treasure, for our friendship is a gift.
A friend is someone who fills our lives with beauty, joy, and grace.
And make the world we live in, a better and happier place.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return".
- Eden Ahbez

"Never shall I forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours."
- Ludwig van Beethoven 

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”
- Winnie the Pooh

"Even if we never talk again after tonight, please remember that I am forever changed by who you are and what you meant to me."  
- Chasing Amy

Saturday, November 21, 2009

C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve

I love love love my C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve.  It comes in a small tin that I carry everywhere with me.  You can use this baby everywhere... I use it on my lips, under my eyes and on my skin, as a hand lotion, as a makeshift hair gel, on my cuticles... on random dry spots (like elbows and ankles)...

C.O. Bigelow's famous Rose Salve has been a favorite since the early days, due to its ability to care for lips and beautify skin. Emulsified with extra-soothing rose extract, which helps ease irritation and condition the skin.

  • May be used on lips, face, cuticles, elbows, knees, chapped or very dry skin patches
  • Developed by Bigelow Chemists
  • Not tested on animals
 It smells great, it's not too greasy or too thick (like chapstick), it's cheap, and you can use it EVERYWHERE!  This is similar to the Smith's Rosebud Salve, but I use the C.O. Bigelow because I like the packaging better (although... they changed it... the new one stinks cause they're copying the Smith's... tsk tsk.. better to be original~)

Retail Price: $5.50

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love Love Lenka

I just saw Lenka's show at Mercury Lounge last week and she is soooo good. You may have seen her video "The Show" playing on VH1 last year  (it's sooo cute) and now they are playing her song "Trouble is a Friend" (She's a "You Oughta Know" feature) and you've probably heard her in the background of Grey's Anatomy and 90210.

I saw Lenka headlining for Missy Higgins about a year ago and Crystal and I fell in love.  She has such great catchy songs, they're pretty short (good for someone like me who has no attention span), she has a beautiful airy voice, she's quirky, and she is just so so cute on stage!

Lenka has such a beautiful voice and her songs have good lyrics about life and love... and they all sound happy.  It's hard to find c.d.'s that you can play the whole c.d. through cause all the tracks are great. This is one of them.  Take a listen and see what you think~*

Click here to see a montage of all her songs... or below to check them out individually.  (I recommend the first and last~!)

1. The Show- Her most famous song~ Just enjoy the show! (One of my favorite videos and songs!)
2. Bring Me Down- Love this song~ "I won't let this burden bring me down!"
3. Skipalong- One of my favorite songs from her~ I'm gonna skip along quite merrily!
4. Don't Let Me Fall- Such a cute love song....
5. Anything I'm Not- Sometimes you get sick of yourself... good song to listen to when you feel that way
6. Knock Knock- Another great love song
7. Dangerous and Sweet- Dance song about having hurt feelings
8.  Trouble is a Friend- Trouble is my friend   ;)
9.  Live Like You're Dying- Song that makes you think about your life and hopefully enjoy and appreciate it
10. Like a Song-  oohh... we don't really like this song.....  (sorry lenka)....but it's the only one
11. We Will Not Grow Old- Song about how you may grow older.. but you can still be young at heart

Lenka is an amazing talent that also seems to be an awesome person.  Show Lenka some love!  =)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Smashbox O-Glow and O-Gloss

I love Smashbox. Dean and Davis Factor (the great-grandsons of Max Factor) created this line a few years ago and they have made many great products over the years. These are two of my favorite.

O-Glow and O-Gloss are two products that are fabulous. I’ve always loved things that change from one form into another. O-Glow and O-Gloss starts out as a clear gel when you put it on your finger and instantly changes into a bright fuchsia pink on the lips and cheeks. It contains Goji Berry-C Complex and is “full of antioxidants”. All I know is that it’s really cool and gives a nice pink glow. For a more natural look, use just a tiny dab.

Intuitive Cheek Color With Goji Berry-C Complex™
What it is:
A naturally-pink hued gel cheek color.

What it is formulated to do:
Experience instant chemistry as you watch your complexion go from so-so to oh-so-glowing! This intuitive cheek color reacts with your personal skin chemistry to transform from a silky clear gel into the shade you blush naturally

What else you need to know:
O-GLOW is packed with our exclusive Goji Berry-C Complex™, ginkgo biloba, pomegranate seed for antioxidant protection, and revitalizing marine botanicals for added healthy-skin benefits.

This product also works on everyone, but it is more of a brighter pink. It’s a very girly look that everyone should try out. Go and get your “O”.

I suggest buying this at  on a Tuesday or Thursday between 9 AM-2 PM PST.  They do a special called Let's Do Lunch where you get a free gift with purchase (usally ranging from $10-$20!!!)  HELLO!!! FREEBIES!!!! and they're great products that you might want to try but don't want to spend the cash on. This is one of the best deals around... and girlfriend knows a good deal!
*** Smashbox is based in Cali they're on PST.. You have to buy the product within 9-2.. but if you're on the east coast.. that means... you have to wait til 2-7 PM)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cleanliness is Fabulousness

Those of you that know me know I love to clean. Ironic because I am one of the messiest people you may meet.  I actually have a friend that will call me when she watches shows like "Hoarders" and other specials of people that are out of control ("Irene, I just saw this show and I thought of you.  You have to watch it so you don't become like them!")

Anyway, I may be messy... but I am NOT dirty.  I guess in everything, I like to make something better than it is (Hello.. MAKEOVER)  When I'm finished cleaning, I feel accomplished.  I like to see a sparkling sink that had been filthy 20 minutes ago.  Mold, Dust, Mildew BEGONE!  I especially love cleaning my guy friends' apartments~ they really are so much dirtier than girls.... which is why I have a greater sense of accomplishment when I'm finished.

There have been many a dirty bathrooms and kitchens I have cleaned in my life time.  I believe that over the years, I have come up with a good arsenal of cleaning products to get your house in spic and span order.  Here is my list:

1. Oreck Vacuum- I bought one a few years ago for hundreds of dollars... but it's sooo worth it.  I bought one of the XL ones that comes with a 10 year warranty.  If you break it, they'll fix it.  It's light. It gets the job done. It's great. They come in all different price ranges... and they're awesome. I think it's worth the investment to buy a good vacuum.

2. Scotch-Brite Dobie Cleaning Pad- This is my FAVORITE cleaning tool.  It is a yellow sponge encased in white mesh plastic netting.  It is FABULOUS at getting rid of stuck on items (Although make sure you soak your dirty dishes first!). It scours without scratching!  You know that gross moldy/watery mess thats left when you lift up your cup by the bathroom sink? GONE!  They come in sets of 2 or 3, are cheap, and last for a VERY long time.  BUY THESE SPONGES!

3. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser-  This stuff is amazing.  You don't use it on everything, but it gets rid of all kinds of nastiness that you never thought would disappear.  It really is magic!  I especially like to use this on chrome fixtures (sinks, shower) and it does a really good job of getting the yuckiness off the glass shower doors.  They don't last as long as I would like (although I use the original... I'm sure the newer ones are better), but you only need these for problem areas so they can last long.

4.  Disinfecting Wipes- I use both the Clorox (Fresh Scent) and Lysol (Spring Waterfall Scent)  They are the best.  Dirty toilet seat? Swipe.  Spilled Chicken liquids (YUCK)? Wipe. Broken Bright Blue Eyeshadow all over your bathroom floor?  It cleans it ALL!  I buy them by the bulk since you get a better deal and you'll always be able to use these.  I especially recommend these if you have children.  You need to disinfect, but you don't want to be spraying around chemicals everywhere....  As a former pre-school teacher... these babies are excellent germ killers

5.  Purex Laundry Detergent- I have been using Purex for years.  It's cheap, has great scents, and gets the job done.  Sometimes I mix it up with Tide and I usually put in some Borax or Oxy Clean... but it's my laundry staple.  And I only put in half a capful

***TIP*** Recently... I found that I had 2 hideously huge brown stains on the sleeve of my WHITE VERSACE coat!!! AGHHHHH!!!!  I washed it... it didn't go away.  I bleached it.... still there.  I tried soaking it in my dad's denture cleanser STAIN AWAY (so sad he has false teeth....) and OMG! It's not gone... but it's a hell of a lot lighter!!! Now it's only2 small beige stains   =)  Now I wouldn't recommend this to everyone because I don't want to be blamed for ruined clothing... but if you have something that is beyond repair and you've got nothing to lose... try it.

6. Club Soda- I'd HEARD about this tip for getting spills out since forever, but I don't drink Club Soda so I never got to experience the magic that is Club Soda until recently.  I am visiting little baby Mason with Susan.  Moona is cooking spaghetti with red meat sauce. I place the plate on the table.  Susan (WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING MASON!) suddenly screams out "OH MY GOD!"   I turn around to see a huge plate of red spaghetti all over Moona's light gray carpet.  I kind of had a mini panic/heart attack inside but tried to hide it.  "DO YOU HAVE CLUB SODA?!?!" I scream in desperation.  I have never been so intent on getting a stain out.  After pouring 3 cans of club soda... Amazingly... there is no stain to be seen.  A cleaning Miracle!

7.  Net Cleaner- Ancient Korean Secret. We Asians come up with lots of nifty things.. this has to be one of the best.  Instead of cleaning with a gross bacteria magnet that is the sponge, many koreans use a medium sized netting that is soooo much better than a sponge.  It is more sanitary (since it dries faster), You don't need a lot of dishwashing liquid to make lots of bubbles, and it lasts a long time.  I stock up on these when I go to the Korean supermarket.  If you can find these at an Asian grocery store around you, I highly suggest you pick one up.  Oh... and most Asians don't use their dishwashers as more than a drying rack~ we do it by hand.  Confuses the heck out of my American friends.. but you should try it.  Do you know how much water is wasted in the dishwasher?!?!

So.... I hope I have introduced you to some new products that will make your house spic and span. And if not... Oh well... just tell yourself this:

"If the shelves are dusty and the pots don't shine, it's because I have better things to do with my time"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Times Are Tough... Beauty on the Cheap

"Today, there are three kinds of people: the have's, the have-not's, and the have-not-paid-for-what-they-have's" - Earl Wilson

Times are tough~ It seems that overnight... America went from "Land of Excess" to "Land of What the Hell is Going On ?!?"  Now, I have never been a staunch follower of the news and things going on in the world (I know it's horrible... my cousin actually took a picture of me reading a newspaper)  but it seemed that the way people were living and spending money (including me) could not continue to go on.

For instance, even just a few years ago... if you see the shows that were on American T.V..... it was ridiculous!  Shows that annoyed me the most were of the extremely rich and stupid people that would throw away money like it was toilet paper.  The best example I can think of is the MTV show "My Super Sweet Sixteen".  Now, I have been accused many times in my life of being a spoiled brat (what can I say... I'm the youngest of all my friends/cousins and I'm an only child!), but these girls (and occasional boys) took SPOILED to another level.  "GIVE ME MY CAR !/ Let's go on a plane to find me a cute dress"  COME ON.... ARE YOU SERIOUS??  Ohhh.. those show annoyed me soooo much. OK..enough ranting~*

Anyways.. my point is that nowadays, everyone is being muuuucchhh more careful about how they spend their finances.  Personally, I have tried thousands of beauty products throughout my years (My mother would yell at me cause I wanted to try wrinkle creams at 13...) and I have found that the cheap stuff... is cheap not only in price, but also in quality.  By buying 3 or 4 cheap eyeliners.. I could have purchased one quality one.  On the other hand, just because something is expensive doesn't mean that it's the best.  I have tried many a expensive creams that are such a waste... and it is torture for me to have to use the whole thing because I can't bear to throw it out.

Now... I think you need to find the right products that work for you.. and even if it's more than you would normally spend on something.. it can be priceless when you find that perfect shade of lipstick or the eyeliner that stays on all day.  I am willing to spend a lot of money on beauty products (obviously....), but that is not the case for everyone.
SOOO for all those thousands of readers out there reading this (dream big Irene... dream big), here are the beauty items that I feel you don't need to spend a lot of money on:

Makeup Wipes-  I would not invest in expensive Makeup Wipes.  They are unecessarily expensive and can be oily.  Instead I use baby wipes.  They get the job done for almost everything...When wearing hard-core eye makeup, I use a cold cream to get the eye makeup off first and then use a baby wipe. I stock up on the Target brand Up and Up~ It's cheap, lasts long, is soft, and gets the job done.

Face Wash- I personally don't see any difference when I've bought expensive face washes over the years.  CETAPHIL is a liquidy product that dermatologists swear by.  There's no bubbles, so it may take some getting used to, but it doesn't leave your skin dry and stripped. It is great for dry and sensitive skin. PURPOSE and BASIC are other brands that are cheap and are bubbly.

Brush Cleanser- First of all... I hope all of you are washing your brushes reguarly! I have yelled at many a friends that have NEVER washed their brushes... omg...just thinking about those brushes makes me sick.

Now most of you aren't makeup artists, so obviously you don't need to wash your brushes everyday like I do, but if you wear makeup every day or even at least a few times a week... I STRONGLY suggest you wash your brushes once a week or at least every other week.  This will keep your brushes for longer ( I have brushes that are over 10 yeasr old), keep the germs at bay, will make your makeup application look better, and can keep you from breaking out.

Now one thing I don't feel is necessary to spend money on is an expensive brush cleanser.  Many brush cleansers are oil based and you're supposed to basically wipe the makeup away with a paper towel. But where do all those chemicals go that take away the makeup? Onto your precious face and skin!  Instead, I wash my brushes with a little bit of Johnson's Baby Shampoo and water.  It gets rid of everything... although the foundation brushes may need to be washed twice. When drying, take the big brushes and roll quickly between your hands to get the water out.  Shape the brushes and lie all blushes flat to dry.
For Makeup Artists that are on the job and need to clean their brushes right away... I use baby wipes. No more makeup.. No residue!

Mascara- Unless the mascara has a really different type of brush.. I find there's no need to pay a lot of money for mascara.  It's recommended to be thrown out every 3 months, and there are many great Drug store brands.

Lipstick- I don't think you need to spend a lot of money on lipstick.  Invest in the few colors that really work for you.. but for fun, trendy, or special occasion nights... I would just buy a Drug Store brand.  Lipstick comes off so quickly anyway, and for me... I'd rather have a lot of colors to play with.  If you do find a cheap lipstick you like, you can make the lipstick last longer by lining lips with lipliner first, or putting foundation on your lips, swiping lipstick on, blotting with a tissue, and adding another layer of lipstick

Nail Polish- I am an expert at turning nail polishes chunky.  I don't know why.. but nail polish does not survive well in my beauty arsenal.  Therefore, I will not be going to the Department store counter to spend $15+ on nail polish that won't last that long. I love OPI, ESSIE, and SALLY HANSEN nail polishes

Shampoo- I don't have the typical straight shiny Asian hair.  I have tried soo many things that don't really make much difference.  Shampoo is just like soap.. so I feel it's unnecessary to spend a lot.  Conditioner is a different story and if you find an expensive one that works... go for it.  Over the years, shampoos I've always gone back to are the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo (used only once a week or when my hair feels oily), and the John Freida Blonde Shampoo (haha.. yes.. I know I'm not blonde.. but it really highlights your hair).  I've also used Head and Shoulders and it did seem to get my hair really clean.

Wax (Hair Remover)- I don't get waxed professionally... I'm Asian so I'm not very hairy in the first place.  I've always used Sally Hansen Wax Strips (the ones that came double sided on clear strips) but I think they've discontinued it (WHY do they do this to me?!?) so I now use an organic microwaveable company called MOOM.  I love it.  But don't heat it for longer than 30 seconds cause you'll burn yourself... trust me....  For the stray hairs that you don't get? Grab a pair of tweezers and pluck them away!

Contact Lens Solution- When the heck did Contact Solution get so expensive?  Now when I was studying abroad in London, it was ridiculously expensive so I had my friend mail me solution from home (Thanks Gracie!), but one day I looked and saw that solution was going to cost me $12?!?  No Thank You!  I use the cheapest Bausch and Lomb brand... I won't spend over $5 on contact solution... It's only saline! But.. that's just me...

Toilet Paper- I buy toilet paper in bulk and I love SCOTT toilet paper.  It lasts long, It's cheap... and it's only going into the toilet! Do you really need a blanket to wipe your bottom? The Extra Soft SCOTT is also really good and still cheaper than the expensive Quilted Toilet papers...
I've also started using Toilet Paper instead of Facial Tissue (i.e. Kleenex) because I ended up going through boxes of tissues so quickly.  It gets the job done.

So...there are my list of items that I scrimp on.  I think there are definitely cheap alternatives to the rest of the beauty products (which I will be writing about later on), but I think that the other things are worth the investment... May you all live long and prosper~*

"The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Brilliance that is TRAVIS

I like to say that a life without music is a life without passion.  Music is a huuuuuuuuuuge part of my life.  I NEED music in my life.  I constantly have music from IMEEM or PANDORA playing when I'm home/work, I have the radio and c.d's blasting in the car, and if I somehow don't have music playing around me.. it's usually playing in my head.

That said... I obviously am very passionate about music.  I love all types of music~ Pop, Rock, Easy Listening, Country... If it has a catchy melody and lyrics, I'll probably like it.  From all the hundreds of songs and artists that I listen to, love, and admire... TRAVIS is a band that plays a large part in the soundtrack to my life.

I was first introduced to TRAVIS in London by my friend Susan. I remember hanging out in her room listening to music on her computer when the song "The Weight" came on.  It was kinda catchy... kinda sounded old fashioned... "What song is this?"  I asked.  "You've never heard 'The Weight' before?!? It's a really famous song!" was her reply.  She told me it was by this Scottish band she liked called TRAVIS. Oh, the lead singers cute I thought...She then played a few other songs of theirs for me and my life was changed~

TRAVIS has a style similar to Coldplay, Keane, and Snowpatrol (but TRAVIS been credited as having paved the way for these bands). Coldplay front man Chris Martin has even called himself the Poor Man's Fran Healy (lead singer of Travis)

Over the past 7 years since I first heard about them in London, I have played their songs constantly in my life~ Many of their songs have positive messages and are happy songs. I recently was able to go see them at Joe's Pub in NYC with Susan... and it was amazing.  I have been to maaannnnny concerts... but to hear the songs that have been such an important part of my life was a great moment.  I even went back the next night to their sold out show... luckily I was able to get in (ahh. the power of positive thinking!)

Not only are TRAVIS extremely talented... they (Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop were the only ones I met) are sooo humble, nice, and funny. They spent the night meeting and greeting all their fans.  So cool~*

Anyways... If you've never heard of TRAVIS, check them out because they rock! 

Here are my favorite songs of theirs:
* Sing- (Written about his wife... and originally written as "Swing")
* Why Does It Always Rain On Me (Written in 10 minutes on a rainy day while on "holiday")
* Flowers In The Window- (About finding someone you love and raising children together)
* Love Will Come Through (Written for the movie "Moonlight Mile" with Jake Gyllenhaal)
* Side- One of my favorite songs with great lyrics
* My Eyes (Written about his son)
* Driftwood (Inspired by a scene from the sitcom "Cheers")
* Writing To Reach You (Written by Fran while high on gas heaters reading Franz Kafka's "Letters to Felice")
* 20 (The First song that Fran wrote when he was 19 years old)


Saturday, November 14, 2009


OMG! You know I LOOOVEEEE a good deal. Combine with AWESOME products and I'm rushing to get to the sales counter.
MAKE UP FOR EVER is one of my favorite cosmetic companies and they now have a set of some of their best products at Sephora.

This set contains:

- 0.04 oz Aqua Eyes in Mat Black 0L 
- 0.23 oz Smoky Lash 
- 0.35 oz HD Microfinish Powder 
- 0.5 oz Travel HD Microperfecting Primer 
- 0.84 oz Sens'Eyes Waterproof Sensitive Eye Cleanser

You have everything that you could need.  The set is worth $91.50, but sells for $49!!! Hello! It's an AMAZING deal. So get one for your best girlfriend and one for yourself.  I'm sure these babies will be selling out soon since they're a limited edition.  Hurry before they're gone!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Le Fabuleux desitin d' Coco Chanel

What is it about those two little intertwining C's that make my heart go aflutter?  Chanel... the holy grail of fashion. The Fashion House of Fashion Houses.  The quilting, the pearls, the chains, the fabrics.... ahhhh... the fabulousness that is CHANEL~*

I recently watched two movies on Chanel... COCO CHANEL- a Lifetime movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Coco Before Chanel starring Audrey Tatou.  Both were very interesting to see the background of Coco Chanel ~ to see how Gabrielle became THE Coco Chanel.
I actually found the Lifetime movie to be more interesting to watch, but both movies are enjoyable and made well.

I admire Chanel for many reasons~  She was a woman way ahead of her time.  Working in a man's world when women did not work.  Choosing to remain single. Wearing pants. Creating dresses without corsets.  Simplicity when everyone else was going for excess. A (fashionable) trailblazer that changed the world of fashion.

I can go into a whole mini bio of Chanel... but I'll let YOU do the work if you want to know where she came from (or if you're too lazy... just ask and I'll be happy to tell you!)  Instead... I would like to give you some amazing quotes from the wonderful Mademoiselle Chanel. May you learn something from her wisdom. 

Life Lessons from Coco Chanel 

* "Fashion passes, Style remains"
* "A girl should be two things: Classy and Fabulous"
* "I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little- if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny.  And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny"
* "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty"
* "The best color in the whole world, is the one that looks good on you"
* "There are people who have money and people who are rich"
* "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different"

* "Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door"
* "To achieve great things, we must first dream"
* "Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable"
* "I've never done anything by halves"
* "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud"
* "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street.  Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening"