Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bliss Fabulous Every Day Eye Cream

I have a large sample sachet of Bliss Fabulous Every Day Eye Cream that became a real life saver when this Taiwanese humidity melts even my trusty BeautyMate Nano Eye Essence T.T When my eye makeup started creasing after just a couple of hours, I panicked and scrambled to find a lighter replacement. In the mean time, I thought this would hold me over temporarily. Funny enough, I ended up sticking with it because it's been working out so well!

***Picture from Sephora USA.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2

I have been using this Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 off and on since college, when my skin was much more oily and not dry combination as it is now. I picked the Lotion 2 over the Lotion 3 or 4 because, well, they scared me. Lotion 2 is chock full of alcohol as it is, with alcohol being the very first ingredient! Crazy, isn't it? This was the reason I stopped using it after going through a few bottles, first trying out the alcohol-free Mild Lotion for a while before losing interest in Clinique toners altogether. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pond's Pore White Cleansing Oil

The very first skincare item I bought upon arrival in Taipei was this Pond's Pore White Cleansing Oil. I didn't have an oil cleanser, because I purposely didn't bring one with me ^.^ There were lots of other options from Naive, Softymo, and Biore, etc., but I've tried all these before and was looking for something new. This one from Pond's fits the bills, and plus they were having a promotion at my local supermarket, 2 for NT$300 (~ USD10, they're normally NT$200 each). Next time I'll check out the local drugstore as they carry a wider brand variety than the typical grocery store.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks

I bought these Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks at a local drugstore when I was in Seattle attending a family wedding. A few months prior, I had read about a higher end version, the Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balms, but weren't too thrill about the absurd $25 price tag (really Clarins, $25 for a lip balm? Do I look like a bank for you to rob?). These Maybelline ones are much more palatable in terms of prices, being just $5 each, cheaper if you have coupons and promotions. Even then, $5 was still a bit higher than what I would pay for a lip balm. Yes, I'm cheap like that, because I know I can get better for less, like the better-than-expected Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm I got for a mere $3! 

Left to right: 100 Pink Lollipop, 110 Raspberry Ice, 120 Citrus Slice, and 130 Fruit Punch. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Itty Bitty Apartment Part II

After a restful night at Howard International House Taipei, we took a short taxi ride to the apartment building to meet with our landlord. The whole thing was rather nerve-racking since I found the furnished apartment on Craigslist Taiwan. Prior to moving to Japan, at least hubby's institution referred us to our landlord in Yokohama. But going to Taiwan we were on our own and it could turn out very very badly. But thank goodness it didn't. In fact, the place exceeded our expectations and then some!

Left: front of my apartment building. 
Right: standing at the front gate, looking left. 

Left: standing at the front gate, looking directly away with my back to the gate.
Right: standing at the front gate, looking right.

Howard International House Taipei

Hubby and I spent our first night in Taipei at Howard International House Taipei since our plane landed at 10:30PM local time, a tad too late to be meeting with any landlord ^.^ We also went with their airport pick up service since we didn't want to have to deal with public transportation, not knowing when the last train/bus stops running and such. Let's just say thank goodness we did, because by the time we got our luggage, it was already 11:30PM and the poor driver had been waiting for 1 hour! The ride (in a poshy Mercedes ^.^) from the airport to the hotel was another 30 minutes, and when we got to our room, it was 12:30AM on the dot! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm

Was surfing the Sephora clearance around several months ago and spotted this Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm in Hot Pink on sale for a mere $3. I scooped it up out of curiosity. It reminded me of the Maybelline ColorSensational Pop Sticks I bought at the local drugstore while attending a family wedding in Seattle last October (will review soon), also out of curiosity. Before that, last summer I had read about a higher end version too, the Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balms.

Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm in Hot Pink. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

Monday, September 24, 2012

L'Occitane Plum Blossom Skin Moisture Gel

Brought this L'Occitane Plum Blossom Skin Moisture Gel with me to Taipei, expecting crazy humidity. This is a 2.5 oz. travel size bottle that was a part of the Delicate Embrace Set I bought last year, which also came with another 2.5 oz. of Plum Blossom Polishing Shower Gel (gifted to mum in law who loves shower scrubs), a 1 oz. Cherry Blossom Hand Cream, and a 1.7 oz. Cherry Blossom Soap (still haven't used this yet!).

A Delicate Embrace Set

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spice China, Louisville

Why so many food post these days? Because I've been traveling a lot and I feel I'd taken these places for granted. I blog about the food I eat and the places I visit in Japan, so I figured why not at home too.

When visiting my folks, Spice China is a must eat for me. It's pretty much American Chinese, definitely not fusion but not really authentic either. They do have an "authentic Shanghai" section on their extensive menu (that's more like a freakin' book!!!), but I don't really buy that claim ^.^ Regardless of authenticity, the food is great. The service is spotty though. It's the unfortunate result of high turnover thanks to the big state university 15 minutes' drive away.

I have been dining here since the place opened back in the early 2000's, having learned of it through my shifu who holds much respect within the Chinese community in town (let's just say if you were involved with the Chinese community there, you will undoubtedly hear of him and if you have kids, you will send your kids to him for some tough Shaolin discipline). The place used to be much more authentic, hence had a large Chinese patronage. Gradually, it grew to cater to more "American" taste and the Chinese crowd moved on else where. A little more than a year ago when I came home from Yokohama for a brief visit, I learned they had added a full sushi menu, going as far as to remodeled the restaurant to add a sushi bar. Hey, whatever sells. I don't mind the "American-ness" at all, and neither do the Chinese grad students I often spot dining there, because the food is still good, even if not authentic. I haven't tried the sushi though, so can't vouch for anything there ^.^

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Little Chef Pastry Shop, Princeton

Last post on our one day whirl-wind visit in town is reserved for this little patisserie I love so much - The Little Chef Pastry Shop. Let's just say I used to lurk around here all the time, as the shop sells out very quickly. Usually, by 2p.m. you'll have nothing left to choose from and that's that, which is particular hard on me since, well, I sleep in till noon on the weekends :P It's just as they say, you snooze you lose.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Bent Spoon, Princeton

Another must try in town is The Bent Spoon, an artisan ice cream shop that churns out some really quirky seasonal flavors such as Earl Gray, Olive Oil, Lavender, and Balsamic Vinegar, etc. These sounds wacky, but are in fact quite yummy if you would look past what their names suggest ^.^ Also, another neat thing is that they don't usually repeat seasonal flavors every year. 

My one and only favorite ice cream flavor is a fall/winter Maple Walnut, which was offered only twice during our 4 years there. It was some of the best ice cream flavor I've ever had! The ice cream itself was light, almost like a sorbet but was still creamy and delicious! Best of all, it wasn't too sugary sweet at all with bits of crunchy walnuts mixed in.

All that said, what I like even more than their ice cream was their cup cakes, the mini ones. The cake is moist, and you can taste the butter in both the cake and the frosting, sweet with a pinch of salt. Of course they're crazily fattening, which is why I never ever get the regular size. The mini ones are perfectly portioned in my opinion, each last me about 2-3 bites (hubby just pops the whole thing in his mouth ^.^'), leaving me wanting more instead of being all buttered and sugared out. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thomas Sweet Chocolates, Princeton

After getting my fill of the delicious Cuban Panini at Tico's, it was gift shopping time. Yes, it costs to travel, and not just because of the travel cost, although still nowhere as costly as Japan where an entire industry is built on gifts and souvenirs (omiyage).

One tried and true gift from town is chocolates from Thomas Sweet. It's hard to go wrong with any chocolate to begin with, but handcraft gourmet chocolates? Yes, please!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tico's Eatery & Juice Bar, Princeton

Another must-have for me when in town is big cup of fresh squeezed juice and a Cuban Panini from Tico's Eatery & Juice Bar. This well hidden little gem is, well, hidden, as in it's not pretentious, flashy, or even jump out at you in any way. In fact, it blends right in with the blah offices in the same complex so you'd have to pay attention. But step inside and you'll get a cozy little deli that will give you ambrosia in a cup and heaven in a panini. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Szechuan House

Szechuan House (2022 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, New Jersey, 08619, 609-890-7600) is the best Sichuan restaurant hubby and I have eaten at to date, period. We were introduced to this place by hubby's colleagues, who got her recommendation from the "connection," that is, the Chinese international student association ^.^' Yep, they know where all the good stuffs are, and boy this place was fantastic, so good no other Sichuan venue has measured up to it so far. Moving away after 4 years in New Jersey, this place was definitely among the top cravings for me T.T So when hubby and I was in town for a 1 day whirlwind visit, we had dinner here on our first night. And it was just as delicious as I remember it, which only makes me miss it more :(

The below are actually old pictures from the very first time hubby and I ate there. I did take pictures on our most recent visit, but they didn't turn out very well because the lighting was too dim and silly me didn't use flash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Taste of Colorado, Denver

Over the Labor Day weekend, my family and I went to the Taste of Colorado Festival, which is held every year around this time. It's basically a huge festival with lots of food, snacks, desserts, drinks, and other craft tents covering several stretches of street around the Denver City Hall and Capitol Building. There are live music too!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Boulder Cork, Boulder

So hubby and I moved home from Japan, but we didn't stay home for long. It was just a 3 weeks detour to visit family before moving on to Taipei. While we were there, we crashed in Grandma's basement. Being with Grandma means keeping her company and taking her out to eat because she never gets the chance to go ^.^

Of course Grandma has her favorite - The Boulder Cork. She goes here every chance she gets and every time we come home to visit she would take us here at least twice. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Japan's Golden Poops!

Moving home from Japan, I was really racking my brains what "Japanese-y" souvenirs I could bring back that would really marvel and delight. Mochi? Tastes good, but way too heavy. Who are you kidding, they are pounded rice after all! Sake? Supremely nice gift but is heavy and fragile. Double whammy. Nope. Hello Kitty?'s all the rage at home! Geisha/ninja stuff? Cliche. Salted candies? Only certain people appreciate it. I can totally imagine the reaction, "Umm...why is this candy salty?" Yeah, totally defeats the purpose, though that didn't stop me from packing a good 20-something packages anyway, for those who do appreciate them, that is.

And then there are always those awesome Japanese sunscreens, like the recently reviewed Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, Mentholatum SunPlay Super Block, Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Sara Sara Milk, even Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N. But again, these are worse than candies, because it's even harder to determine who would appreciate them, because not many can be bothered to use an oil cleanser to remove the sunscreen prior to the usual cleansing foam. I thought perhaps a light daily use sunscreen for the body like the Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel or Mentholatum Skin Aqua UV Moisture Gel would be nice, and it would, that is, if they would even apply a sunscreen at all! Sigh, Americans. ...But I ended up packing another 20 or so bottles/tubes too, for those who do like these things.

In the end, I still lacked a universally appreciated little something from the land of the rising sun. And then the light switched on, ooohhh...shit! Yes, you read that right, turd, crap, poo, insert your bathroom joke here, but I'm going to bring home a bunch of poops! Golden poops. Japanese golden poops ^.^ Heh. Heh. Heh.  *rub hands gleefully* I think we have a winner xD 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the below piles of poop: at right, mini poop in a glass bottle with cork stopper (my personal favorite - LOL!), and at left, poop stamp.

Right, poop on a cell phone charm and, left, poop on a red pillow. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More desserts at Denny's Part VI

Perhaps I should retitle this post as "No more desserts at Denny's," now that I'm back home and have no interest whatsoever in visiting an American Denny's. Ever. T.T

For our last night in Japan, hubby and I spent the whole cleaning up the last bit of things around the house, running the last errands, finalizing our packing, etc. By the time it got dark, we were too exhausted for a "finale" Japanese dinner, so off to the neighborhood Denny's we went. It was a nice meal. Nothing special, but definitely comforting. Denny's was one of the first few places we ate at when we first moved to Japan (it's right in the neighborhood, after all), and it was also the last. Good times. Good times.

Their menu changed just a bit. I was hoping they'd bring back the delicious kimchee omurice introduced last summer, which I greedily inhaled it in a blink of an eye, but they didn't. Shucks. Hubby ordered a new menu item, hamburger (meat loaf) topped with a fried shrimp. He also got a rice and miso soup set to go with his entree.

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