Friday, December 16, 2016

Mini Review: Milani Power Up Lip

Milani Power Lip may be discontinued. I saw it at my local Grocery Outlet and picked up a few as small souvenirs for foreign friends. Later I came across some reviews and picked up a few more to test for myself in Creamy Cafe and Mango Tango. 

The two shades are quite appropriately named. Mango Tango would be a great summer shade and also lovely on deeper complexions, being a bright melon.

Texture wise these gloss stains are fine. I find lasting power to be okay. Maybe I've been eating super greasy stuff, but these products are gone after a meal; no hint of a stain.

Because of this, I find these to be cheap and fun, but not must-haves or cause to bemoan their possibly discontinued state. Also the color selection doesn't particularly appeal to me; I have enough reds, and Mango Tango is a fun color but too bright for me to use regularly.

Mini Review: Pureology Colour Fanatic Deep-Conditioning Mask, Nature's Gate Biotin Conditioner

So far, I love the Pureology Colour Fanatic Mask. You don't need to use much product and it left my hair moisturized and soft. I've only used it once though so we'll see if it continues to perform well. I don't have colored hair so I can't comment on how it works with color.

Nature's Gate Biotin Conditioner has a nice herbal-mint scent, but it seems to take a lot to detangle my hair, and doesn't leave it particularly moisturized. I like the Pureology mask better - less work for better results.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Personally, I'm still mostly here with Robin McKinley, but I love this message of compassion by Garance Doré.

And Bois de Jasmin keeps me a bit more grounded in the big picture, for which I am grateful. For example, the blog owner is currently planning a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Update on CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick

I'm not crazy about the way this sits on my lips - it feels like a thin greasy layer. I definitely prefer the feel of Revlon Balm Stains - more of a moisturizing feel rather than greasy.

The color Hypnotic is a bit frosty to wear on its own too - okay but a little too much to be perfectly flattering.

So this may go in the bin, as I like all of my other lip products better.

The other possibility is that this lipstick has already gone bad - it has a sweet scent that I don't particularly like.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mini Review: CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hypnotic 220

CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hypnotic 220 is basically a slightly frostier, slightly more brown/beige version of my pigmented lips. I'm glad I took the chance to try out this color! It's a great MLBB for me, as I prefer to play down my natural mauve tones.  I'm not a fan of the scent - vaguely vanilla/sweet? But the formula seems moist and comfortable so far.

From left to right: Urban Decay Super-Saturated High Gloss Lip Color (f-bomb), Revlon Balm Stain (Crush 005), Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (Naughty Nude 700), Revlon Balm Stain (Rendezvous 040), CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick (Hypnotic 220)
Interestingly, the Revlon Balm Stains all appear pretty pigmented on my lips, although the swatches are rather sheer on my arm. The natural pigment in my lips adds quite a bit of color, which is a bit annoying. I'm tempted to try more of the brown colors in this CoverGirl Lip Perfection line, as this one works quite well on me.

I quite like Nas' rap on Madonna's "Veni Vidi Vici":

Friday, October 07, 2016

My favorite ramen places in Tokyo

Quite frankly, I can't say what the best ramen in Tokyo is, since I haven't tried all of them. I never will be able to, either, since there always new places opening up.

If you read Japanese, the Ramen DB is a great resource, as a repository of most of the Tokyo ramen fanatics' reviews.

So, I'll just introduce my personal favorites:
1) Right now, this is the ramen I'm personally craving the most: the chicken ramen in Azabu Juban 麻布十番156 Ichikoro. A thick broth akin to tonkotsu but different. They do the egg with the soft yolk center. Their gyoza is pretty good too.
Interestingly, I've never tried their sister chain 野朗ラーメン Yaro Ramen although the tonkotsu smells pretty good. 156 Ichikoro has a slightly fancier ambience and is easier for me to enter.

2) Not ramen, but I'm going to stick it on this list because when I'm craving noodles this fits the bill just as well as tonkotsu ramen.  笹塚 Sasazuka station is a bit out of the way but it is home to 豪快 Gokai (map), the best 坦々麺 tantan noodles I've ever had. If you haven't had Japanese tantanmen, it's a creamy Japanese variation on the Chinese original.  Cheap all the time, and pretty fast.  Counter space only (12 seats).  Just order the tantanmen 坦々麺 with the 細麺 thin noodles. They also do handmade thick noodles, but although I normally love handmade noodels, I don't like these as much as the thin noodles.
I expect that they're cash only, and I don't think they speak English, but you can show them this photo.

3) For tonkotsu ramen, I usually go to 博多一風堂 Ippudo. Easy to find around Tokyo. They have the thin, straight Hakata style noodles, and 2 regular types of tonkotsu - white is traditional, red is the revolutionary/modern version.

4) I like the salt ramen at 山頭火 Santouka (the fatty pork ぶたバラ is ridiculous, and can be a bit too fatty)

5) A chain restaurant found everywhere in Japan, 天下一品 has a こってりラーメン that is ridiculously thick. Apparently it's a chicken and vegetable based broth, but this stuff will probably leave you full for a day - it's that thick. I would recommend not drinking all the broth if you want to be able to move afterwards.

I hear the tonkotsu ramen at 一蘭 Ichiran is good, with the thin, straight 博多 Hakata style noodles. Next trip!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mini Review: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm in London Posh

TL;DR: I like the shimmery beige-peach color, but the texture is a bit heavier and slightly stickier than Japanese products like Coffret D'Or Bright Up Rouge or Shiseido Lacquer Rouge.
Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh) with green Android planter and clover
Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh)
Still, it's much cheaper than those options. I probably won't re-purchase or try other colors unless the texture grows on me; I will say they do have many pretty options in this line. However, I prefer lipsticks these days anyway, so this isn't a type of product that I need.
Swatches on arm: left: Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude); right: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh)
Swatches: left: Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude); right: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick in 700 Naughty Nude

TL;DR: thumbs up if you find a color that you like, and don't mind layering up with balm.
Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude) and green Android planter with clover
Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude)
I like the soft floral scent; it fades after a while. The lipstick is easy to apply and feels nice, but after a few minutes it starts feeling dry. I can see why people like applying a balm first. The plastic packaging feels nice and solid. Not cheap like the Revlon Lip Butters.

Swatches on arm: left: Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude); right: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh)
Swatches: Left: Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick (color: Naughty Nude); right: Revlon ColorStay Moisture Balm (color: London Posh)
I'd like to try some paler shades, as this one turns a strong rose on my pigmented lips, but it doesn't look like they have any paler options in the U.S. market. As I already have enough bright lipsticks, I guess this is my one foray into the line for now. Maybe when I use up one of my red lippies. That's unlikely to happen for years, sadly.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mini Review: Badger Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Cream

This sunscreen has 22.5% non-nano un-coated zinc oxide.
Sadly, while this is effective protection and is supposedly ocean-friendly, the super thick texture - thicker than Neutrogena's popular Drytouch sunscreen - makes it a pain to apply. I'll be happy when I finally use up this tube.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Testing out Revlon ColorStay Overtime in Bare Maximum

The color is a nice neutral MLBB for me. So far I've worn it for an afternoon and evening - it wore off but didn't become visibly patchy. Next, I'll see how it wears for a full day.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Mini Review: Kai 119 metal nail file and Ducato ceramic nail file

Thumbs up on the Kai 119 nail file - it's quite strong and makes it very fast to file my nails.

Thumbs down on the Ducato ceramic nail file - it has gotten quite dull with regular use and is no use anymore; I think I'll have to toss it.

Really enjoying JoJo's new song "F*** Apologies"

Mini Review: FRESH Tinted Lip Balm: Fig

Love the color! A plummy brown color with silver shimmer.
There is a slight scratchiness to the formula - probably because of the shimmer. The scratchiness does get annoying after a while, even though the formula is still nicely emollient. I will enjoy using this mini size up but the next time I purchase I'll try the Berry shade for color and less scratchiness.
Packaging is great but you're paying for that with this pricy product.

Friday, August 05, 2016

PSA: THREE Flash Performance Eyeliners being discontinued 8/9 (JST)

Via So Lonely in Gorgeous, THREE Cosmetics is discontinuing their lovely Flash Performance Eyeliners. Guess I will be buying a few more colors (#1, #2, #4, #5, #7).  They last a long time, so I will refrain from buying backups. Annoyingly, the Japanese department stores seem to have already taken the pencils off their online stores, and the THREE site is sold out of #1 and #4 as of the time of writing this post. I can't find #4 for a reasonable price on Rakuten either.

At least INTEGRATE still makes their Kira Wink Gel Liner, although they seem to be moving away from it (I hate their Snipe Gel Liner - hard and unpigmented formula).  Interestingly, these automatic liners are made in Germany.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Mini Review: Lafco New York bar soap in Chamomile Lavender

Lafco New York bar soap in Chamomile Lavender smells amazing, but I find Pre de Provence soaps and Portuguese soaps like Castelbel more moisturizing and far better value for the money. I won't be repurchasing this soap, despite the wonderful scent.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau - first impressions, Phoenix by Dawn Richards

Got a sample of Guerlain's Lingerie de Peau in 02 Beige Clair. I love the lightweight texture! It doesn't sink into pores and looks invisible, but smooths out my skin. However, it doesn't really cover my redness, so I still need a good concealer to take care of it. Since I am looking for something that will cover redness too, I don't think I'll purchase this, although the texture is really lovely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mini Review: Puma Socks, Santigold - Chasing Shadows

I got some low profile black Puma socks, but they slide off my heels. The Nike socks fit better, although they pill and fade after a while.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Introducing BOUCHERIE AmiaBras in Shibuya, Tokyo

Merguez メルゲーズ (from the old restaurant Tres Mignon. The new restaurant only serves the sausage as charcuterie - unless it's the special of the day - so it doesn't come as a meal with vegetables)
Introducing my favorite restaurant (that I have yet to visit): BOUCHERIE AmiaBras on Aoyama dori between 渋谷 Shibuya and 青山 Aoyama, on the south west side of Tokyo.  The chef used to run our favorite French bistro in Nakameguro. My husband and I were devastated when it closed suddenly, but overjoyed to hear that the chef had opened his own new place!

Beef Tongue stewed in Wine (from the old restaurant Tres Mignon, where this was a hanami lunch special. At the new restaurant this is a standalone plate without vegetables)
My top menu recommendations are the merguez メルゲーズ lamb sausage at dinner (hubby doesn't like lamb, and I am a weakling about spice, but we both adore this spicy homemade sausage) and the juicy flavorful hamburg steak offered at lunch (if you find any place that does it better than here, let me know!). I do love the other dinner options (crispy chicken and duck confit, and the beef tongue is amazing), so it's always a challenge, but the hamburg steak usually trumps everything except the merguez...

Chicken confit (from the old restaurant Tres Mignon, when it was a lunch special. At the new restaurant it comes without vegetables)
Swordfish steak lunch (from the old restaurant Tres Mignon)
Lunch is a ridiculous steal starting at 1000 yen and up, and since the hamburg steak only seems to be offered at lunch, you should experience lunch and dinner here!

English Tabelog page

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recommendations on feeding newborns, Kyla La Grange - Skin

I was surprised that this topic hasn't had more publicity or concern, when 1 in 5 women may have delayed lactation or no lactation at all. Teaching women how to confirm whether they're producing breast milk seems like a basic sanity check. And also teaching how to supplement when not producing enough milk seems like a basic precaution, even if it were uncommon.

There also seems to be a widespread misconception that newborns can't drink that much, but the newborn stomach has been measured at 20mL.

One of my favorite singers, Kyla La Grange:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Famm'in Circle

An unexpected collaboration, but good stuff!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jazmine Sullivan slaying "Mona Lisa (Masterpiece)" at BET

Monday, May 02, 2016

Egads, May already?!? Poshmark update

Yikes, I cannot believe it's been months since I last posted here.

I thought I'd give you an update on Poshmark, in bullet points.
The tl;dr summary: buying on Poshmark is great if you know the product very well, but be very careful to confirm the things that you care about. Selling is tough though.

  • An extensive variety of items for sale, some extremely unique
    • One-stop shopping from your phone has never been so easy!
  • Discontinued items for sale
    • I can often find discontinued versions of a product that I can't get anywhere else. For example, I like Eddie Bauer wrinkle-free shirts in bright striped patterns, but for the most part they don't make them in those patterns any more.  However, on Poshmark, I've found quite a few of these shirts in like-new and sometimes brand-new condition. Similarly for Under Armour cold gear shirts. The new versions of the shirt have an itchier seam, but the old versions of the shirt are great. I live in these shirts in the winter, and I've stocked up on a few basics via Poshmark already.
  • Prices are low
    • A corollary to the fact that selling is hard, the abundance of items means that prices go low if the sellers really want to sell. So Poshmark is an excellent place to buy jeans, dresses, and purses, as American women seem to have an excess of both! Also, high end items can be had for quite reasonable prices.
  • Unique items sell well
    • Simply because they stand out from the mass of similar items. However, I've seen beautiful dresses sell for super low prices - great for the buyer, not as great for the seller.
  • Comments cannot be erased
    • This can be a source of useful information about a seller/buyer

  • No returns
    • Since individual sellers are shipping the items, they would also have to process the returns, and this is super tedious for individuals, so Poshmark has sensibly decided not to allow returns. However, it is disappointing to receive an item and realize that it doesn't fit. The only solution is to donate or "re-posh" sell the item on Poshmark.
  • Sellers omit information
    • Whether deliberately or because they don't have time, sellers may leave out information that is important to the buyer. As a buyer, you have to be careful to ask any questions that are important to you, which can be irritating to the seller. However, since you can't return anything, it's a necessary evil. I've stopped buying items that I don't already know well, as it's too tiring to try think of every possible issue.
    • Technically, if the item is not as expected, you could probably open a case and ask to return the item, but errors of omission are a bit borderline. I received a sweater that had pilling, which wasn't mentioned. I didn't ask in advance, so I chose to accept the item, rather than challenge it. Similarly, I bought a coat that fit well, but turned out to be rather rough to the touch. Since I neglected to ask this in advance, I chose not to open a case.
  • Sizing is difficult
    • It's hard to measure a 3D item like a dress, and even if you ask for measurements, it's difficult to know if an item fits until you actually try it on. There are all sorts of wonderful shoes for sale, but I've given up on judging whether shoes fit me, unless I already know the item.
  • Seller ratings are not visible
    • Seller's can post a screenshot of their rating, but they're not publicly accessible to buyers. So a careful buyer needs to check the "Love Notes" from other buyers, to make sure that there are no issues with the seller.  This is pretty time consuming, and often there isn't much information.  Sellers can also choose not to display a particular "Love Note" so buyers cannot access that information
  • Selling is hard
    • There are so many sellers that it is really hard to find buyers for your items
  • Shipping is $6
    • It makes it hard to justify buying an item unless you can bundle to save on shipping.
  • You only get notified of a comment if tagged
    • Unless it is your own listing, users need to tag you in order for you to notice a comment that they have left. Often users forget this, so I have missed comments/replies as a result.
  • Only women's and unisex clothing allowed
    • I would love to buy items for my husband, as clothing manufacturers have stopped producing loose fit pants, but the Poshmark platform can't handle men's or children's clothing yet. They just came out with Plus, Petites, and Juniors sizing, so maybe this will change eventually.
I leave you with the latest song from Kiley Dean, "Long Gone":

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Popped buckwheat

Old photo, but popped buckwheat is surprisingly tasty.

Kiley Dean has a new ep!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

black tea-flavored soymilk from Kikkoman

Most of their flavors are delicious, but this is probably my absolute favorite. The matcha and pear flavors are good too.

Jojo has a new mixtape out:

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Things that you are better off not knowing

Peppermin M&M's are quite tasty - better than their holiday colleague, Mint M&M's, not to be confused with the year-round Dark Chocolate M&M's. Sorry if this leads to you trying them. Food posts are dangerous.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Checking out Poshmark

Poshmark is a shopping platform for individuals to sell to individuals - mostly for women's clothing and accessories. I joined as tonkotsu to get rid of items that are too nice to donate but that don't belong in my closet.  For a great summary about Poshmark and advice on how to sell on there, check out Wardrobe Oxygen's post.

I'd describe it as virtual thrifting through other people's closets.

As a shopping experience it seems pretty good - I haven't actually bought anything yet but it's pretty easy to find items and filter based on my size, etc. For browsing it's a bit more random as it's hard to have a quality feed. I find it better to pick a category or brand and browse through the results. I get the impression that there is more supply than demand since a lot of items are pretty cheap but still for sale - midrange designer jeans like AG Adriano Goldschmied are available in my size for less than $30. The reasonable prices make it really tempting to buy things that I don't need.

For selling it's been slow - there are a lot of people on the platform so it's hard to find your customer.  Fortunately the search is pretty good.

I did notice that trying to take photos from a tablet was terrible but that probably was a quirk of the Samsung Nexus 10 camera I was using. The app would enlarge the photo and auto-center it so that my item was off-center. And there were restrictions on image height and width so I couldn't zoom to fix the image. I haven't had issues when using my Android phone though.

Get a $10 credit when you join Poshmark with code: PLVPP. I get a credit too if you use this code.

On the music front, new music from Kiley Dean:

So great to hear new stuff from her!