Archive for February 2016

Dine Out : Chop Shop II

February 29, 2016
Chop Shop New York, Chop Shop Review, Chop Shop II Restaurant

Chop Shop II is a recent dining discovery with a menu that features a fresh take on Asian fusion cuisine. The space has a casual and cozy vibe with a clean and minimalist color palette of white washed exposed brick walls and blonde wood furniture. Their food offerings range from traditional Chinese to Southeast Asian dishes. Our server recommended the steamed lamb dumplings which is one of their specialties and these juicy and flavorful bites were a promising way to start our meal. We got two orders of vegetables that included pea tendrils (also known as pea shoot leaves) sautéed with garlic and spicy Sichuan long beans. Both were well cooked and seasoned. The spicy flavor of the long beans was on the mild side. We also tried the poached Norwegian salmon which tasted fresh and delicious. The Three Cup Chicken, a classic Taiwanese dish was a tad overseasoned but otherwise tasty. The dumplings and both vegetable dishes were my favorites. The food was solid and so was the service. We'll have to return to try their curry and drunken noodles. This is one of two Chop Shop restaurants. It is located in the Flatiron area of NYC. The original Chop Shop is in Chelsea.

Chop Shop II
41 West 24th Street
New York City

Steamed Lamb Dumplings with chili infused sesame oil and peanut sauce
Chop Shop II, Chop Shop New York, Chop Shop Review, Chop Shop II Restaurant

Recently Acquired

February 26, 2016
Clothing Buys

After a number of months of being on a clothes shopping ban, I recently added a few new pieces to my wardrobe. I took a step back because I didn't really need anything and I decided that I would only add classic, versatile pieces that fill a need in my closet. I think each of these purchases meets that criteria and all three together were less than $100. I actually have some more black clothing now. Yes I realize it's very atypical New Yorker of me to not wear much black.

Other Stories Metallic Silk Blend Blouse
Silk blouses are a staple for me and I love how they can be easily dressed up or down. I was attracted to the shape and cool metallic honeycomb texture of this and the under $30 price tag was pretty attractive too.

Who What Wear x Target Bateau Tee 
Striped tops are my weakness and I was attracted to the substantial weight and shoulder detail of this one. There were actually a few things in the Who What Wear for Target collection that caught my eye but this was the only one I felt like I needed since it replaces another striped top that I had to retire because it's seen better days.

J. Crew Contrast Floral Lace Skirt
I've been wearing midi length skirts since before they became popular in recent years and I'm still in a habit of hoarding them because I don't know how long the trend will last. This a-line scalloped lace skirt is both chic and feminine and I can see myself wearing it for many years to come.

Have you added anything new to your closet recently?

Valentia True Glow Eye Cream & Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask

February 24, 2016

Valentia True Glow Eye Cream, Valentia Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask

I was first introduced to the Valentia brand when I used their Even Glow Serum which was reviewed here. It was a great Vitamin C serum that I actually liked enough to repurchase. So of course I was thrilled when I had a chance to try out their True Glow Eye Cream and Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask which are two of their newest products.

About the Brand: Valentia, the Roman Goddess of healing, relied on nature’s gifts to heal the citizens of Umbria. Valentia used berries, herbs, barks and other natural ingredients. Valentia Skin Care also relies on all natural ingredients for their protective, preventative and corrective powers. Valentia Skin Care products have been formulated with natural and organic cosmetic ingredients that will repair and protect the skin. Their vegan and cruelty-free products created with an organic bases are free of parabens and toxins.

Valentia True Glow Eye Cream, Valentia Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask

Valentia True Glow Eye Cream

Product Claims: A luxurious antioxidant rich eye cream that helps lock in moisture, repair and tighten skin for a youthful looking glow around the eye area.

Key Ingredients: Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that increases moisture levels, smooths fine line and wrinkles, and restores elasticity to the skin. Resistem which are natural plant stem cells that repair and protect the skin from harsh environmental pollutants and stress related aging. Vitamin C to smooth and visibly brighter skin for a well-rested and bright eyed look. Organic Rosehip Oil provides intense hydration to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Arnica is a key anti-inflammatory agent to the restorative process that works to diminish the appearance of dark circles.

Fun Links Around the Web

February 22, 2016
Song Hye Kyo, Song Hye Gyo Vogue

I regularly share fun and interesting links on my Twitter and Facebook so I don't really do link roundup much here but in the spirit of my post on Why I Don't Celebrate Valentine's Day & Choose Love Everyday being selected as one of IFB's links à la Mode this week, here are some things that have caught my eye around the web recently.

Photo: Stunning Song Hye Kyo photographed in Paris by Hong Jang Hyun for Vogue Korea September 2015. One of my favorite editorials ever and the equally beautiful Kang Dong Won is in it too. See the entire pictorial here!

Dreaming of Warm Weather with Ulla Johnson

February 19, 2016

If I could live in just one type of clothing when it's warm, it would totally be dresses in a midi length. And my dream would be the dresses in Ulla Johnson's Spring 2016 collection. The NYC born designer's signature aesthetic combines effortless modernity with a sense of bohemian chic. There is an underlying classic feel to this collection that is also decidedly vintage at the same time. The silhouettes are slouchy yet definitively feminine and ultimately quite wearable. And how spectacular are those tassel and macramé adorned sandals! I'm most enamored with the eyelet detailed blush number above, the ruffled denim pinafore dress and the black Victorian floral print prairie dress. The collection is available for sale here. Which look catches your eye? 

Perfect Your Lips with Farmacy Lip Blooms

February 17, 2016
Farmacy Beauty, Farmacy Review

I'm not much a beauty hoarder except for when it comes to lip balms. I always keep multiples stashed around especially during the winter months because who wants dry lips. Not me! A good lip balm is a beauty staple especially since it's a product that can easily be multi-tasked. Lip balm is excellent for moisturizing your cuticles. Just massage some in before bed and thank me later. I also use it to tame dry patches of winter skin and sometimes my brows as well. And if you ever find yourself with a jammed zipper when you're out, you can run a little lip balm on the sides to unstick it. Farmacy recently sent me their Lip Bloom which is a moisture replenishing and protective lip treatment infused with herbs. 

About the Brand: Made with farm grown botanicals, Farmacy Beauty blends age-old wisdom with cutting-edge technologies. The brand has teamed up with local farmers in Upstate New York to create a unique line of irritant-free, bioactive skincare. The scientists and lab behind Farmacy are innovative experts in cosmetic formulation and research, and seek out nature’s most novel yet effective ingredients. Their products are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde and artificial coloring and never tested on animals.

Product Claims: This soothing herb-infused balm forms a protective barrier on the lips, leaving them smoother, softer, and fuller. These moisture replenishing and protective lip treatments come in six unique flavors: Strawberry Basil, Lavender Mint, Honey Ginger, Vanilla Mint, Citrus Lemongrass, and Apple Rosemary.

Farmacy Beauty, Farmacy Review

Why I Don't Celebrate Valentine's Day & Choose Love Everyday

February 15, 2016

So my husband and I haven't celebrated Valentine's Day in many years. So many that I can't even remember when we stopped. Before you call me a hater, it's not that we have anything against love or romance. Actual love just seems like it has become overshadowed by consumerism for Valentine's Day. Romance isn't about compulsory flowers, chocolates or expensive presents. I actually saw a crazy article about how if your significant other doesn't buy you some particular present then you should dump them. Seriously what kind of nonsense is that? Love isn't defined by material gifts (unless you're a gold digger). It's about what comes from the heart! Yes I get that Valentine's Day can also be about doing something special for your significant other but why wait for that one day of the year. You should always be doing nice things for each other.

We celebrated 14 years of marriage earlier this month. I'm not gonna say our marriage is perfect. I mean we do fight (usually over the dumbest most petty things) but we always make up and we try not to take each other for granted. Choosing the right person to marry is very important but both people also need to agree to make a commitment to be intentional in the relationship and never stop working at it. I've seen couples who've been together for a long time but don't seem happy at all and I often hear people complaining about a lack of romance in their marriages. Well it doesn't have to be that way if you make the effort to not let it slip away.

Secrets of Long Lasting Love, Celebrate Love Every Day


February 12, 2016

Loving... our new humidifier. We run a humidifier nightly during the winter to combat the dry heat. Our old one conked out on us after a few years so we made the switch to this ultrasonic germ defense model. The bigger tank means we don't have to refill it every night and it's super quiet too. Humidifiers are a must for keeping dry winter skin at bay and we also breathe better when we use it. Get more of my winter skincare tips.

Reading... The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Yes like finally. I'm totally late to the party but I get the hype. Marie Kondo's methods are both practical and useful. I applied her KonMari method to a few drawers and was amazed by how much space was created and how everything is so clearly organized now.

Watching... The Man in the High Castle and Veep. Have to admit I'm probably into the latter more than the former because of the humor. My husband has read The Man in the High Castle and the premise of it is quite interesting.

Listening... to David Bowie's Blackstar. Still hard to believe he's gone.

Eating... lots of sushi. I seem to always be craving it lately. You'd think I'd want something hot in this weather.

Drinking... Kusmi Algotea. I picked up a tin of this on a whim while replenishing my supply of Kusmi BB Detox Tea. It's a blend of green tea, mint and seaweed that I find very refreshing and comforting at the same time.

Amused... by Wordylicious. As a lover of words, this site is like candy to me.

Wearing... lots of layers. Winter is on.

Enjoying... our reorganized and purged home. It took some work but was so worth it!

Looking forward to... an early Spring. The groundhog predicted this and I'm holding him to it.

Missing... Ji Chang Wook. The last thing I watched him in was The Healer and that was a year ago. He is currently in China working on his Chinese film debut in Mr. Right.

There are still a few more days for my Asian Beauty GiveawayI'm giving away a set of K-beauty favorites valued over $80! Enter here now!

What's up with you?

Currently Coveting

February 10, 2016

A few items currently on my wish list... the beauty edition. Even though I have no shortage of beauty and skincare products and this is even after the big purge, there are always new beauty products that I want to try. Check out this gorgeous blush I picked up recently!

What are you coveting lately?

1. RMS Beauty Master Mixer
{I wear RMS Living Luminizer almost everyday and this product is the next level. It's a flattering rose gold that can be worn alone or combined with any lip, cheek, eye or highlighting product to transform and add a refined touch of iridescence.}.

2. Treat Collection Lipstick in Love Generation
{This lip color and lip treatment is an all natural product housed in a lovely case.}

3. Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Essence Serum

{This luxurious line harnesses the healing power of camellia oil, pressed from blooms gathered on the windswept South Korean island of Jeju and this serum is probably the first product I would start with. And I want to try the entire line btw.}

4. Diptyque x Olympia Le-Tan Limited Edition Rosaviola Candle

{As a fan of both Diptyque and Olympia Le-Tan, I'm pretty sure I'll love this scented candle. The packaging is TDF! My buddy Kim reviewed it here and I'm convinced I need this now. Limited edition items are always more tempting for some reason.}

5. Milk Makeup Blush Oil
{There's actually a number of products from the newly launched Milk Makeup range that I'm interested in but this liquid cheek color blush packed in a rollerball pen caught my eye first. The packaging is genius and so convenient.}

6. Youth to the People Age Prevention Cleanser
{This cleanser takes green skincare to the next level with powerful antioxidants delivered via cold pressed extracts of kale, spinach, and green tea.}

7. Tatcha Luminous Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate
{I've tried a few Tatcha products and have been really impressed with this barn. This ultra concentrated serum formulated with red algae, from the mineral-rich waters of Okinawa along with 7 rich botanical extracts sounds like a wonderful skin treat.}

8. Nerd Skincare Miraculous Brightening Facial Mask
{I'm totally captivated by the name of this brand and the name of this mask. Must try soon!}

Eye Candy : Viaggo A Xitang

February 8, 2016

Today is the Lunar New Year marking the start of the year of the Fire Monkey. We will be observing our annual tradition of visiting the Buddhist temple. If you're in New York City, here is a rundown of some of the festivities happening around town. I would like to wish everyone who is celebrating a most happy, healthy and prosperous new year! Gong Hei Fat Choy! Gong Xi Fa Cai! 新年快樂! 恭禧发财! Here are 8 lucky foods you can have to celebrate Chinese New Year.

This Flair Italy editorial may be from 2011 but the beauty of the story it tells is timeless. The brilliant Wing Shya captures Du Juan in the ancient picturesque town of Xitang, China in this highly atmospheric series of images that are both dreamy and breathtaking.

Viaggo A Xitang // Publication: Flair Italy April 2011 // Photographer: Wing Shya
Model: Du Juan // Stylist: Kanako B. Koga

Guo Pei Haute Couture Spring 2016

February 5, 2016

Guo Pei may be best known as the designer behind the show stopping canary yellow gown that Rihanna wore to last year's Met Gala and she also created this spectacularly eye catching  gold lamé dress on display at the China: Through The Looking Glass exhibition. The Chinese couturier who has worked in the fashion industry for 30 years just showed for the first time at Paris Couture Week. The presentation set against a backdrop of of a royal Chinese courtyard opened with a dazzling crystal embroidered guipure lace gown. The rest of her lavish collection featured dresses and whimsical separates with exquisite embroideries and sumptuous embellishments. The feminine designs took inspiration from her Chinese heritage with details like Mandarin collars and both qipao and hanfu styled silhouettes in combination with a distinctly modern Western aesthetic. Haute couture may not be something most of us will ever get to wear but it's nice to admire the art and craftsmanship. What do you think of this collection? Any standouts?

Don't miss out on my Asian Beauty Giveaway! The prize is a set of K-beauty favorites valued over $80!

Through My Lens : Recently On Instagram

February 3, 2016
Snow NYC, Winter NYC

Well the winter weather finally arrived and snowstorm Jonas blew in and dumped a winter's worth of snow over 24 hours onto NYC. Of course when I'm encouraged to stay indoors, I just want to go out so we took a short walk during the height of the storm. This is a video I too that shows the intensity of it. These are just a few highlights from last month. To see more, click over to my Instagram feed and of course you can also follow if you'd like. 

I don't ever wish for snow because it is really only pretty when it is falling. The day and week after, it just becomes mounds of grey and black slush and slush lagoons which are a real pain to navigate around in the city. This photo isn't that bad btw. I didn't want to snap a pic of the real grossness cause it's that disgusting. Most of the snow is gone now.

Winter NYC, Chinatown, Doyers Street

Asian Beauty Giveaway

February 1, 2016
Beauty Giveaway, Giveaway

I talk about Asian beauty products here somewhat frequently these days since a good portion of my skincare routine is actually comprised of Asian products and I'm very big on sheet masks. I thought it would be to share the love with a giveaway of some Korean beauty products including a few of my personal favorites. The total retail value of this prize pack is over $80 and it includes the following products.

Secret Key Lemon D Toc Peeling Gel (retail value: $10)

Peeling gels are very popular for exfoliation in Asian Beauty because of their gentle action that is usually effective for all skin types even sensitive. This is a non-physical exfoliant that uses fruit enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells and unclog pores. While dead skin cells are being eliminated, this peeling gel also detoxifies the skin and deeply nourishes the pores to strengthen it. The vitamin C from the lemon in this one also provides brightening benefits. I really like using this product before masking to increase the efficacy of whatever mask I'm using.

Laneige Firming Sleeping Mask (retail value: $30)

Laneige Firming Sleeping Mask is a breakthrough anti-aging mask that revitalizes skin overnight. This product which has won a number of Asian beauty awards is so popular that one is sold every 30 seconds worldwide. A sleeping mask is a no-rinse facial pack you apply before bed that works overnight to treat your skin. This one uses memory form technology to restore skin firmness and elasticity and improve skin recovery time. It's also infused with orange flower, rose, sandalwood oil and ylang ylang, the aromatic Sleepscent that will relax you and promote deep sleep. The SleePOP formula strengthens skin’s restorative properties with tuberose petal hydrator, GABA and collagen peptides to support firmer, more resilient skin. This product has the coolest bouncy texture and it really works overnight to nourish and restore.

Skin House Pore Control Powder Serum (retail value: $24)

This is an oil control product in serum form that works to immediately tighten and minimize enlarged pores for a smoother skin texture. It also helps to correct oil/moisture imbalance and mattifies skin while preventing dehydration. This product does exactly what it claims to. It balances moistures levels and cuts shine without drying out your skin. It's also great for reducing the look of enlarged pores.

Too Cool For School Egg Cream Mask (retail value: $6)

This is a hypoallergenic microfiber sheet mask infused with egg white and egg yolk extracts to help clarify, nourish, and moisturize skin. It helps firm skin for a younger-looking appearance while removing dead skin cells for a beautifully clean and radiant glow. The mask is generously soaked in a creamy essence that doesn't smell eggy at all and it always leaves my skin soft, smooth and brightened.

Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Hydrogel Sheet Mask (retail value: $4.75)
This is a hyrdrogel sheet mask made with black yeast fermented honey essence that has been made through a month-long ripening process. This mask provides intense nourishment and hydration to improve elasticity for a smoother, plumper and more radiant complexion. I have a love/hate relationship with this mask. It's really moisturizing and plumping but the two piece construction can be a little tricky to use.

TonyMoly I'm Real Red Wine Face Mask (retail value: $4)

This sheet mask treatment is infused with real red wine extracts and rosemary to address enlarged pores while purifying, refining, and tightening skin. It soothes skin with jasmine and green tea extracts for a refined complexion. The mask features a three-layer durable cotton sheet for better absorption and deeper penetration of essence, resulting in a healthy-looking glow. This one is a really good starter sheet mask. It's refreshing and has good pore minimizing effects. No it doesn't actually smell like wine.

Missha Pure Source Cell Sheet Mask Acai Berry (retail value: $2)
This is 100% pure cotton sheet mask soaked with essence derived from natural ingredients. Acai berry has excellent anti-oxidant benefits that smooth and revitalize dry skin. This is one of the better fitting sheet masks and it's relaxing as well.

Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack (retail value: $2)

This face mask is immersed in a highly concentrated essence infused with snail slime filtrate and bee venom. This premium blend of natural ingredients boosts the skin’s immunity while helping to enhance elasticity, softness and radiance. It is free of parabens, synthetic colorants, artificial fragrance and formaldehyde and suitable for all skin types. The ingredients might sound a little scary but this is one of the most soothing sheet masks in my regular rotation. It works extremely well to calm redness and irritation and refine pores.

This is an international giveaway that starts February 1, 2016 and ends on February 15, 2016. Entries will be verified for eligibility. One winner will be randomly selected. You can enter through this link or the Rafflecopter widget below. The widget can be a little temperamental so if it doesn't load on this page, just CLICK THROUGH HERE FOR IT Good luck!

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