Book · thoughts · Writing Samples

Beautiful People : August Edition

Image From the Hosts

Beautiful People : For Writers and Dreamers

The answers for these questions are for one of my main characters: Christopher. He is a detective and I need to flesh him out a little more. Aside from the six pack and a good tan, I think he has to be a lot more than just eye- candy to be a detective… so without further ado…

I have done Beautiful People blog hop before, you can read it here (March. And another here. Then I got lazy, with travelling and kids.

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

He is addicted to prescription medication, at this rate I think it should be a sleeping pill rather than a painkiller. I haven’t decided yet, but he cannot live without *hmmm* going to the gym.

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

3 Positives : courageous, determined, careful
3 negatives: racist, chauvinistic, messy

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

A grudge, definitely emotional baggage…

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

Probably a 3, bad enough that other people does his organizing for him in the office.

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

So many Asians, quote politician Pauline Hanson (she’s a real person): Asian Invasion. That and Dominos Pizza is shrinking.

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

On summers night it would be just shorts for a night IN. For a night out, a black shirt with jeans, because he can.

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

Asics running shoes, a black dress shoe and loafers/ slippers whatever you call them.

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

He is not a pet person, due to the nature of his work. But he might wish he has a pet Rottweiler to watch his back.

Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

His ex-wife who had ran off with an Asian (he never knew exactly which nationality) pilot.

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

Protein bars and more protein bars…

I need your help!

Suggest something that I could change in the list, and I might consider it. IF my book ever gets published I promise to put your name on the thank list =d

Beauty · thoughts · Writing Samples

Skin Care for Those Who Prefer Books

Skin Care for Those Who Prefer Books

I love reading books, and I also love looking younger than my actual age. Both need money to maintain, and it is not like I have unlimited resources. To feed these two habits and myself, I have resorted to some measures. Sometimes I would buy a good quality skin care product, like Estee Lauder Night Repair or Clinique Repairwear Laser.  Because there is a before and after difference, you do get what you paid for sometimes.

But when times get tough, and every penny counts, I try to stretch out so I cannot indulge myself so often. Sometimes I wish my kids are cute enough to be a model, but that will be unfair to them, because they wouldn’t have a fun childhood right?

My secret wish: to look thirty even though I am really fifty.

Homemade Skin Care

I am not saying that you should homemade everything, because that would actually defeat

Homemade Beauty Products

the purpose of this practice:  spending less money on skin care. Unless you already have all the basic ingredients, or you are doing it because you have other good reasons, chances are you will waste a lot of time and money making everything from scratch.

 

In this case, I am suggesting that you use what you already have at home. The simplest and best example would be coconut oil or olive oil with sugar and salt, to make a body scrub. If you use ground coffee, that works as a body exfoliate too. It’s dry July, a wine soak is good for the skin with all the reservatrols in it. You can save on skincare by using what you have, since you do not need much anyway.

Do not be fooled into thinking that homemade is cheap, frequently it is not. Not only you have to buy the ingredients, but the tool as well. Some products take a lot of time to make, which is probably better spent reading a good book.

There’s more to it, but I have already talked about it here about facial masks. Of course, alternative to homemade stuff, is buying things that have multiple uses. Rosehip oil is good for hair and face, you can even use it as a hand cream in a pinch. Or products like BB or CC cream, because multi-tasking is in.

Face Yoga

Face Yoga

I know right? What is this world coming to? Face Yoga is nothing new actually, but the jury is still out on this one.

On one hand, it does make sense to exercise the muscles on your face. The theory is that if you exercise them, they maintain their elasticity to help you keep wrinkles at bay. On the other hand, a study in 2014 stated that the nine “researches” that was done was in poor quality. Basically, case studies and what a handful of people say is not enough to convince everyone that this is good for you.

It’s great if it works, but the study said that no one knows if it might hasten the aging process because you are over doing your face. That’s the worry anyway. But hey…

It is pretty fun doing funny faces with your brats. From these pictures, you can see that face yoga and be done any time and place. The problem is remembering to do it.

Ice Bath

Last but not least, the Koreans are loving the new old trend the ice bath. It is what it is: dunking your face into icy water or into a bowl of ice. Not only it will wake you right up, the cold water tightens pores and makes the skin firmer by shocking it into action. I am not a fan of this personally, because I have been washing my face with cold water and it is not fun at all.

But, a lot of people swear by it. If you have a lot of ice at home, and if it’s summer, why not give it a go right? Skin care is not only about creams and lotions, but daily habits as well. Good skin care habits like hygiene and using quality products are just one step in a routine.

Same with face yoga, not much prove that it works long term. But if you want to look refreshed and alert, icy face bath is a good free trick. It does not have to be a long dunk, and this is not a daily thing. If you are trying to save water (Australia water is expensive), just keep a wet towel in the freezer and use as needed, that works too!

Rich People will Always Look Good

Mainly because they have the resources to invest in their good looks. It will be cool to have facial every week, but I cannot afford it regularly. Doing it at home seems to be the only option for me presently, so I am looking for ways and tricks. If you do have a good tip for me, please comment and let me know.

Until then, I will be exercising my face and hope that my kids do not stress me out too much. Maybe I should take a more drastic action, like using derma roller. But since virgin bloods are hard to come by, it might be prudent to stick to the normal mainstream method of creams and lotions to stave off wrinkles.

Beauty · thoughts · Writing Samples

Question: Will You Use These Anti-Aging Products

Anti-Aging, is it important to you?

Perhaps I should start with that question, is looking young important enough to you? While some seem to be able to age gracefully, most try to avoid looking old. A lot of people try tablets and potions, and a fair few who can afford it go for injections and more drastic moves.

Botox is one of the more famous anti-aging measures, if looking tight and stiff is your thing. Dermal fillers are pretty in as well, some of the fillers are also used in medical procedures. Most fillers were part of the medical procedure until someone finds another use for them.

You might agree that it is risky going under the knife, or injecting poison under your skin. However, people can be desperate enough to take that risk just to look “younger”. We cannot all stop our skin from sagging and getting wrinkly, but we sure can try. There are a lot of anti-aging stuff out there in the market, we cannot deny that this is a big chunk of the beauty industry. Once we hit a certain age, somehow we will go for preserving our youth, rather than flaunting it.

Would you try these anti-aging stuff?

Bee Venom

Lanocorp Lanocreme Bee Venom Face Mask

Bee Venom gained popularity in 2013, owing to toxin melittin in its venom to stimulate more blood to the skin. Apparently research says that it can help increase collagen and elastin, owing to the stimulation. What used to be an expensive product due to small quantities, now you can find it in some drug store. Though I am not sure what is the difference in concentration, companies say that because they can get more bee venom effectively, hence it becomes cheaper.

You would be happy to know that no bees are harmed during the harvesting. Because their lance/ stinger does not separate from the bee’s body. Good news right?

Snake Venom

Babaria Snake Venom Anti-wrinkle Face Cream 2 X 50ml + Eye Cream 1 X 12ml.


If you are allergic to bees, what then? Of course it will be terrible if you swell up every time you use a cream.

Snake venom of course! Don’t worry, this is a synthetic version to make sure that no reptiles are harmed. SYN- AKE is a laboratory product that mimics snake venom’s paralyzing effect. Much like Botox, except this comes in a cream or serum. High enough to give you a good result (up till 52% depending on brand/ concentration/ quality) but not low enough to give you your human expressions back.

Because it is synthetic, snake venom is also cheaper than Bee Venom. Plus it is more consistent in terms of concentration, quality and purity. SYN- AKE makes it easier to avoid really issues like symptoms relating to overdose. Because snakes use their venom to paralyze their prey before swallowing them whole. I am sure I do not want to be looking like I cannot move my face, just because I applied too much cream.

Snail Slime

mothermade® Deep Moisturizing Rich Snail Facial Mask 10 individually packaged bundle – 100% cotton Cupra sheet, Anti-aging, Anti-Wrinkle, Deep Hydration, Snail Secretion Filtrate (5,000 ppm)

Snail was prescribed by Hippocrates for inflammation, prescription: crush them and take with sour milk. Ew.  What’s more yucky about this is that people use snail slime as a beauty product. I do use it, and I like it a lot. There are a few brands that uses this, see my blog posts on Taiwan’s My Scheming Brand, and Korea’s SAEM brand. Snail slim contains hyaluronic acid, proteins, antimicrobial properties and copper peptides to help the snail sanitize itself and keep moist. Little wonder how those creatures manage to crawl to surfaces and stay alive right?

Korea uses the normal garden variety pests ( I hate them, they ate my lettuce), grown in labs not gardens. Plus snail slime undergoes some processes before packing. Unless you go to a snail spa, where you want snails to walk all over your face, chances are your product is clean and well. If mask is not your thing, try this sleeping pack.

SAEM Snail Sleeping Pack

I Want To Try…

All of them of course, currently I am loving the snail mask regime, but it is quite pricey. Of course there are many other living creatures out there that people use for skin care, I am not very well informed. However, these at least I know does not really harm the animals. I do prefer other bee products like royal jelly and propolis, because it sounds cruel to have a bee continually sting a piece of glass.

SYN-AKE sounds very promising, and if I do find any decent brand that has an acceptable price tag, I might do it. While the bee venom has pretty good research, the snake venom does sound more effective. However, these are just possible selections you can try to delay the aging process. It does not, and never will halt the body’s natural deterioration.

Do remember, UV is one of the biggest causes of aging, so wear a sunscreen before trying everything else. Or it will be a waste of money, you undo the work when you step into the sun without protection anyway. In reality, I am not ready to age gracefully yet. When people tells me I look young and radiant, it makes my heart skip a beat. Because I know I feel old with two little monsters running me to the bone.

thoughts

Shhh.. I am Gaming!

Gaming This

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – PlayStation 4

Games are my second favorite method of storytelling, hence I am a fan of role- playing games like this one here, and Final Fantasy. Gaming offers an experience reading cannot give, mainly the involvement of the story and the audience. You might disagree, because hey, it’s a game! It is entertainment, so is television.

As graphics and technology get better, the storytelling gets worse. Like movies, everyone is big on computer graphics and loud noises, but when it comes to story it is lacking sometimes. It is the same for games, all that beautiful world and kick ass play is nothing compared to a good story.

I am busy….

My favorite game to date is The Last of Us. If you are unfamiliar with the title, it is a zombie game. Think Walking Dead if television? This game grips, because it has two point of views, and The Last of Us gives you no freedom in the story, forcefully directs you to the end with hordes of zombies, scavengers and soldiers.

Unlike Final Fantasy titles, this one has a clear objective: to deliver the girl to a place. So the guy has to navigate through dangers, trying to fulfill the dying wish of a friend. Of course when you go on a road trip, you bond. Not only the two characters establish a relationship, you will find yourself becoming part of their team.

When it ends, you will never be the same.

I am playing … Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Oh yes, this is old game. This is what happens when babies come out, and being addicted to games. I am a gaming addict. I should be in a Gamer’s Anonymous, if there is one. My proud (not really) moment was finishing a game in 5 days, and I played 12 hours a day to finish it. Yea, I would play until 3am, and continue at 8am. Yay me.

Good old days was when me and my brothers play for 2 days straight. It is not healthy, but we are young!

Until I finish the game, reading time will be limited to when Princess Brat confines me to the bed. She’s experiencing wonder week and is a little clingy at the moment. Love this time, I feel so needed (bazinga.)

Thank you for understanding

Gamer Me Out

Beauty · review · thoughts

Taiwan 2017 Trip + a Mask review

Taiwan 2017 Trip was with 2 kids and my parents

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Kee Lung County, North of Taiwan/ Taipei.

So there were four adults to two kids, you would think that life would be easier because there’s enough people to help keep a lookout. Wrong, we got sick. Because we didn’t vaccinate ourselves against the flu/ cold, hence everyone became sick on the second day of the six day trip. Bummer!

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The Special Waterfall that leaches copper and iron, making the whole thing look like gold/ bronze from far

Fortunately, for the first two days it was a breeze. I hired a private tour guide to drive us to places where the Taiwan Metro couldn’t reach. You would still take the public transport, but it was cheaper and easier for the six of us to travel in style. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are alone or in pairs, but once you have kids and older people, private tour guides are pretty good. For the two days, it cost me around AUD 200 in total, from 9 am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9 to 5:30 on Sunday. I was stupid, because I should have picked weekdays where the crowd would be less.

Turns out it was a fortunate mistake, because metro and markets have less people during weekdays; if you have children, best time to go is during weekdays. The crowd is significantly thinner, plus with the rain, it was a hassle trying to get around. But May is definitely a crappy time to go, because it rained 4 out of the 6 days that we were there.

Shifen Must Do

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yes I can write Mandarin XD

If you ever go to Taiwan, make sure you visit Shi Fen old street, where we went. This place is the only legal place you can light a lantern and let it fly. The belief is that it takes your wishes to the Heavens, and maybe it will be granted. Don’t worry, the whole street is full of vendors, and they are all priced the same: 30 Yuan for a multi-colored one. Each color represents something, like red is for good luck, blue is for career and so on.DSC03820

This place is the only legal place to do it, because of the agreement that runners will be dispatched to retrieve any lanterns that drop onto forests and nearby settlements. The paper is extremely flammable, and will catch fire and burn cleanly if it every does. Usually the lantern just runs out of fuel and drop back down to earth, where people will dispose of it properly.

It is a novelty those, definitely must do it once, just for the fun of it. It is an Asian tradition, even Koreans have their version of lighting lanterns with wishes.

We Went to Yi Lan County

Yi Lan is not a very popular tourist destination, but I insisted on going for one reason only: cold springs. Taiwan has one of the three natural carbonic cold springs on the planet, the other in Italy and America. We skipped the normal hot springs because Princess Brat was too young. Her delicate skin would not be able to handle the heat.

DSC03933

We rented a private room, and you can see that this looks like an ordinary pool. But it is not, the skin feels numb when you first went in. If you stay still, you can feel the heat rising and warming you up. The water is carbonated, with a slight sulfur smell to it. This spring is in Su’ Ao, in Yi Lan County. I had changed the itinerary to fit this in, because I had no intention of returning to the place anytime soon.

I will admit that cold spring does not have the same skin beautifying effect as a hot spring does. But I could see an improvement in Princess’ skin for a short while. This was also the reason we got sick, because the water is cold, and the weather was balmy. It was worth the experience, because cold springs are rarer.

The same with hot springs, if you have high blood pressure or other vascular issues, it is best not to soak in the spring for long. It might not make you sweat or dizzy, but this sneaky spring will definitely make you feel ill if you overdo it. We paid around $500 yuan for forty minutes. It was worth it as I did not have to worry about my kids being trampled by people.

Another Unique Experience

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Yup those are scallions!

The local produce of Yi Lan is rice and scallions, where farmers rotate to rejuvenate the soil. Their scallions have more white bits, almost 30% more than the normal variety you will find at the markets. It is also quite tasty, and has milder taste that goes well with a lot of things.

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Lovely place to visit

The tour guide took us to this farm, where you can pluck your own scallions. They will also teach you how to make scallion pie. It is just a thin crust filled with this yummy vegetable. Did I mention that you deep fry it? It is a fun experience fit for young (read not teenage) children. My kid definitely had a lot of fun. The parents? Not that much.

I will admit that it was educational, and the weather was perfect for this activity.

What Else Can You Do in Taiwan?

We skipped the Crayon factory, where kids can make their own crayons for a fee. It was because we went to the cold spring instead. Other things you could do (if you have a lot of moolah) is going on food tours, or engage in a local cooking class. I found one that would take you marketing, and teach you a few dishes for lunch. At the price of $150 per person, it was too expensive for that many of us. And it would have been boring for the few who wouldn’t participate.

In reality, it was probably better to hire the tour guide for the whole trip. Fear not, if you speak Mandarin or Taiwanese (I do both, actually), taxi is actually a reasonably priced way to get around. We all fit in one car, which cost us the same as taking the metro. When it rained, it was what we did.

Will We Go Back?

Probably not, there is nothing special about Taiwan. The food is not that great, the variety is vast, but I hardly think it’s mouth watering or scrumptious. Of course, smelling stinky tofu everywhere you go will not help make the food taste better. I do know that there are still places I have not been, experiences that are still waiting for me. But I have done the ones that I need to do. Scenery? It is beautiful, but taking kids to see the view … is not a very good idea.

Plus, I would not say that it is a wow factor for Taiwan. It is not like breathtaking, or memorable. So if you want to go to Taiwan, make sure it’s not raining and you know where you want to go. There are just too many places promising a good time, but not all will deliver.

Mask Review

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Bought it from 7-11

I was curious when I saw this Star Wars mask. If you have read my old posts, you will have seen the character masks.  They are funny, and I was hoping that this would be the same. It was 49 Yuan, which equates to almost Aud 2.50 for this one mask. Expensive, I know.

 

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bummer

This one is a Hyaluronic moisture mask, this one would give your skin a hydration boost. The Star Wars mask is made in Taiwan, so I don’t know why it costs so much for a single sheet mask. As you can see, this is just a simple white mask with hyaluronic acid and other ingredients. It feels heavenly when I first put it on, it is like my skin is sighing with relief. Ooops. Someone should teach me how to look after my skin during travels.

I left it on for a long time, despite not having any cute look, this one works very well. My skin does feel more supple and moisturized, surprise!. Since I was a bit lazy with my skincare, so it did show a positive effect for the one and only time I used the mask.

Is it worth the 49 yuan? Probably… because it works and the effect lasted. Will I buy it again, not for that price no. Plus, I could not find a bulk pack, which is disappointing.