Reviews

December Favorites: Beauty Edition

I’m a huge fan of pretty, glam things. I love the smell of a great Eau de parfum, the pigmentation of quality makeup, and pink/gold ensembles. Here are my favorites for this December.

Aspyn Ovard Eye & Cheek Palette (Tarte - $39)

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While this palette isn’t a new product, it’s definitely been useful for the subtle, everyday looks I’ve been doing (when I’m not running late and have time to actually put makeup on). It looks gorgeous on the exterior, and even better inside. My only complaint is that the colors match one another too well. Like I said, it’s been perfect for everyday looks, though, so that’s a plus. The blush shade also complements my skin tone well.

Modern Renaissance Palette (Anastasia Beverly Hills - $56)

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TOTALLY in-love with this palette! Received compliments in and out of work the first time I used it. The colors complement one another well, so it’s been my go-to for warm, peachy looks. The brush that came with the palette could’ve been better though, but if you’re into makeup, you’re already aware that brushes aren’t really the best in this case.

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Ginger Sugar Lip Scrub (Aritaum, Althea - $5)

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The cap looks worn out, but it’s only because I’ve been using this scrub religiously. I highly recommend applying this before bed or before putting on lipstick. You can either wash it off or wipe it away with tissue after a few minutes, but I find water is a gentler way of scrubbing it off. It’s very cheap, and smells great, too! There’s really no reason to not pick this up.

Chance Eau Tendre (Chanel - $62)

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Smells like heaven. Since my other favorite fragrance (the next item) is at its edge, I’ve started wearing this everyday. It has a subtle scent after it calms down (but it’s potent during the first sprays). For an Eau Tendre, the smell stays well throughout the day. I love this.

Jour d’Hermès Eau de parfum (Hermès - $162)

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A scent I’ll never get tired of. It’s an Eau de parfum, which means it has more aroma content than Eau de toilette and has the same amount of fragrance as perfumes. Lasts longer than the former too, so I get to appreciate the smell longer. It’s almost gone, and I am in dire need of a refill, haha! Highly recommended.

Sorta Sweet Palette (Kylie Cosmetics - $42)

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Last for this month’s faves is the Sorta Sweet palette by Kylie Jenner. The mattes in this one are quite good given the price point, but the shimmers need a little extra help from either my finger or a damp brush. When they’re on your eyes though, the look is pretty and pigmented. Recommended for those who need a palette that’s warm-toned and small enough to fit in a purse for travels.

And that is it for this month’s Beauty favorites! Thoughts? What have you been using? You have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Beautifully Local: Méräki Leather Artisanal

If you asked me years back if I liked leather or not, my answer would’ve been “not so much”. I used to see it as a material fit for grandpas, boring corporate people, and prissy high-end wanna-be’s. Most of the people I’d met in the past saw owning leather as something that made them superior to everyone else, and it sickened me. People can be grossly full of themselves at the worst of times.

Putting that aside, I never really thought of leather as an investment until I met people who made a living out of creating leather goods. It didn’t occur to me that leather was a tough yet delicate material to work with, and that alone brought value to the table.

That being said, I’ve become more and more in favor of owning leather goods for mostly two reasons. One, leather has a very versatile look, meaning you can pair it with anything in your closet. From a rugged street style to a corporate attire, leather fits right in. Two, it really is an investment to own leather, and those with an eye for these kind of things will realize what you’re all about. They’ll know you’re not playing around.

(The owners of the brand I’ll be featuring are my friends, but all opinions on this post will be honest and entirely mine. This isn’t a sponsored post either; I just really want to spread the fact that there’s a cool, local brand that makes quality leather goods.)

Their super cute passport holder!

Their super cute passport holder!

Méräki Leather Artisanal is a new brand that makes leather goods (wallets, passport holders, coin purses, etc.) that are affordable, functional, and chic. Their products have had iterations based from feedback of their friends, buyers, and connections, and they’ve definitely become better at addressing their customers’ needs.

A nice thank you card they've included to show their appreciation of your support. Honestly, LOVE.

A nice thank you card they've included to show their appreciation of your support. Honestly, LOVE.

While they have pre-made leather items in their store, they’re also open to customs (which I love). If you've got a friend who already has everything, you can give them a leather custom with an engraving of their name and make them feel extra special. Who doesn't love an item made especially for them?!

Yes, leather looks beautiful. That doesn't mean the process is as elegant as the end result is. From our conversations, they've shared how painfully meticulous stitching has to be, just to make sure that it's both sealed properly and still looks tasteful. They've even mentioned a time one of them was accidentally stabbed while engraving a piece! Yikes. One of them also tried creating calligraphy using the engraving pen. Just thinking about having to create those lovely flourishes and lines on leather with a hot pen is making me cringe. Working with leather is definitely an ordeal.

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Not all local brands are awesome (let's be real here), but those that are deserve more than just a shout-out. Let's support local brands as much as we can. Don't ask for discounts just because you're friends with them or because you feel that they're merely "local". If they're your friends, you should know the value of supporting them all the more!

I've had people come to me asking for free design because "it's just a hobby" or "it's just drawing". People like that don't deserve a spot on my friends list. If you think it's really that easy, do it yourself!(Sorry for the sudden bitter sentiment. I'm moving on, haha.)

That doesn't mean you can't give feedback though, as constructive criticism will help them improve. Just make sure you're commenting out of desire to help, not because you're trying to bring them down.

If you're all for supporting local brands and would love to have something custom-made (or just buy leather items), do check out Méräki Leather Artisanal on Facebook and Instagram. Spot their website as well and see more of their products!

5 Great Audiobooks To Listen to on Audible

I'm a certified bookworm, and there's never a time I'd choose to go out during the weekend over an offer of curling up in a corner with a good book and some coffee. That being said, my busy work schedule has rendered me unable to indulge myself, leaving me in want of a different way to still be able to "read" without my eyes. Enter Audible.

I've been a subscriber on Audible since October 21, 2015, and have gradually fallen in love with the platform and its available titles. This was the solution to my declining reading life. Not only could I listen to some of the most talented narrators and voice actors, but I could also listen to a story while being occupied with a whole mess of other tasks.

I adore Audible, and would love to share some books I've personally listened to and have had fun with in the past. What's great is that they give you a 30-day free trial with one credit to use on any book you want from their collection. Sweet, right? I remember my first purchase - Tyler Oakley's Binge (read my review here!).

 

Here are 5 (out of many) audiobooks that I think will be worth your time and credit.

1. I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart

Gosh, I love this man. Not only is he inherently funny, he's also mad inspiring, and every time I hear the word "hustle", he's one of two people I immediately think of (aside from bae Lilly Singh aka iiSuperwomanii).

In his new book I Can't Make This Up, he talks about his journey and what molded him into the Kevin Hart everyone loves today. Narrated by Kevin himself, he lets listeners in on some childhood experiences, ups and downs, relationships, and a LOT of life lessons anyone can learn from.  

I purchased this audiobook initially because I'm a huge fan of his stand-ups and films (regardless of how much flack they sometimes get). I like how he presents his stories, and I figured this would be a chill, very funny listen. I was right on the last instance, because as "chill" as his storytelling was, Kevin Hart actually hit some really serious, relatable issues. 

An excerpt from "I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons," the new memoir by Kevin Hart, performed by the man himself. Exclusively from Audible: http://www.audible.com/KevinHart

If you're looking for an inspiring book filled with real stories and funny/witty side-notes, Kevin Hart's I Can't Make This Up is a great choice. 

One of the best audiobooks I've EVER listened to, BBC's Agatha Christie Radio series is well worth your subscription. Regardless of whether you're into crime novels, this audiobook will rub off on you (in a good way).

For those familiar with Agatha Christie, you'll know this will be a real treat. Listen to BBC's Full-cast performance bring to life classics like The ABC Murders, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Murder On The Orient Express.

Christie's great at packing a mystery story, and if you haven't heard, 20th Century Fox will be releasing a live action film on Murder On The Orient Express! I am SUPER excited to watch my favorite characters acted out by some of the best names in Hollywood. 

What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best selling author Agatha Christie, "Murder on the Orient Express" tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone's a suspect.

When I subscribed to Audible two years ago, I was looking forward to listening to novels that I loved and knew by heart, as well as discover new thrillers that would get my blood pumping. I was in for a very wonderful surprise when I chanced upon this series. 

I first came to discover Tales From Beyond The Pale when I was looking for horror podcasts on Google, and it opened A LOT of potential goosebumps-giving channels. (Let me know if you want a list.) Since then, I've purchased a number of stories from this production group and none have disappointed me yet. This short audiobook will be perfect for horror/thriller lovers who like well-written stories acted out just as great. 

My suggestion? Listen to this before going to bed, lights turned off, noise-cancelling headphones on your ear. Close your eyes and imagine yourself actually listening to a legitimate radio station. It. Feels. Awesome. 

Seriously, I think anything created by Lilly will be incredible. As I mentioned before, the word "hustle" is, for me, synonymous to her name. I've followed her vlogs/channel since 2015, and I can feel all the stress, all the determination, the passion she puts into her work every single day. I love how she's still human, you know? Reachable. Attainable. 

Her new book How To Be a Bawse is insanely inspiring. I've only listened to a preview, but I've read the book already, and man is it packed with tips and wise words. If you decide to listen to this audiobook, you'll be feeling that much closer to her by the end. Trust me on this. I'm not saying it just because I love her and am a fan. Try it out and see for yourself. 

Any book that will allow its readers to feel more confident and assured of themselves is a great way to spend your bucks and time. 

Holy fudge. Aside From Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is a series I've been crazy about. If you've noticed, I'm very big on crime and mystery genres, and it drags me away from the drama of reality. This audiobook is a COMPLETE edition of Sherlock Holmes' detective stories - a real treat. 

Whether you've read the books, I'm sure you're familiar with BBC's Live Action series on Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch). Listen to classics such as A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of The Baskervilles. There's a reason why Sherlock has maintained his status throughout the years as one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time, and once you get in on his cases, you'll understand why. 

 

What would you be willing to try out from this list? Let me know in the comments. 

P.S. I reviewed a few more audiobooks HERE. :) You might want to read it too.

The Sweet Spot: Tugawe Cove Café

Ya'll know I'm a coffee/café lover, and it's such an exciting event when a new café opens up in my area. One such place is Tugawe Cove Café, a cute, very chill hang-out location situated by the entrance of Robinson's Place Naga.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

From the get-go, I was immediately attracted to the huge painted wall by the entrance, and anyone who passes by is sure to see it. I found it intriguing and very bold, and the wall had the makings of becoming an excellent background to my selfies. From the outside, I like how it was designed. It felt homey and warm, and gave me a sense of not having to rush to do anything immediately. I wanted to stay and chase time away.

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AMBIENCE

Tugawe Cove Café offered a relaxed, calming vibe. I stepped inside and I resolved to stay for as long as I was allowed. There's plenty of light (perfect for those flat lays!) and it just feels airy. Light. Paired with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the setting was perfect. If I were still studying I'd definitely come over during long breaks and review for an exam there.

FOOD VS PRICE

Of course, you don't go to a café just to admire its interior. The deal-breaker is the quality of the food being served. No matter how pretty a place is, if the food sucks, I'll be out the door in a moment. Here's how Tugawe Cove Café fared in my opinion.

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lt was my first time, so I wasn't sure which pasta dish to order. I went for my guts and ordered the Tugawe Lasagna, along with a glass of Iced Caramel Macchiato. 

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Now I do have to be honest - as I always am when reviewing things/places/food - the quality of the pasta could've been better. It was pretty good overall though, and I would've loved to have taken a fork out of it while it was still hot (our fault - we just had to take photos). Tasted very light for a pasta dish, and it isn't hard on the stomach at all. 

I loved the macchiato though, but I made a terrible mistake by having a glass during the afternoon. While I have a high tolerance for caffeine, certain drinks still get to me. Surprisingly, this was one of 'em. I could NOT sleep that night. That was when I got heaps of ideas for zines I wanted to create. Huh. Would you look at that. 

For this set, I'm giving it a 3.75/5 stars. (Don't get me wrong - it was great, okay? I just have high standards when it comes to pasta, coming from a family of great cooks and having a mom who's worked at an authentic Italian restaurant in Australia. Once you taste authentic, anything else won't compare.)

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This dish was ordered by my friend over at Nickastig, and according to him, it tasted great. Personally, I've never tried any seafood dish I didn't like, so I'm guessing it holds true for this pasta dish as well. I'll have to try this out for myself next time.

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OVERALL

Overall, I see myself going back during the weekends off work and just hanging out. I LOVE the ambience and the amount of sunlight it invites inside the café. I can't pass judgement on a place just because I tasted one dish. Not my style. :)

Stay tuned for progress of this review. I'll definitely be trying the others on the menu.