Monthly Roundup for August, 2019

August literally started off with a bang. I was shaken rudely from sleep in the early morning by an earthquake that sent my clock bouncing off the wall, and my books helter-skelter. I opened the door to my bathroom to find that the strength of the earthquake had actually tipped over my de-humidifier, and there was water all over the floor. The earthquake was followed by a typhoon, and a few days of unstable weather.

Poor Taiwan! (Original image source: Central Weather Bureau)

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Product Review: EatSmart Healthy Food Delivery Service

To be honest, my eating habits have gone a bit haywire lately. Part of it is because of my work schedule, and the other part is largely attributed to poor planning.  The result is that more often than not, I cobble together meals from 7-11, or I eat takeaways more than I should. Neither is a nutritious long term solution, and I felt like I needed a healthier alternative. A few weeks ago, I tried a local food delivery service called “EatSmart.” EatSmart lets you select from three different programs: Slim, Well-Being and Lift. Each program has a different goal- Slim is to lose weight, Well-Being is to keep healthy, and Lift is to gain mass.  (I decided to go with the Slim program)

Ordering ready made meals still takes a little planning because you have to figure out a few days in advance what you want to eat, but otherwise the process is very hands-off. Place an order online, and food is delivered to your doorstep, with a $90 delivery fee.

For my first order, I chose a mushroom salad with shrimp ($199), and it was waiting for me at the front desk of my building when I got home from work. I enjoyed this~ the salad was perfectly dressed, and there was a generous amount of each ingredients (mushrooms, snap peas, shrimp, tomatoes and salad greens).  The balance of ingredients also kept me surprisingly full for the rest of the night.

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Monthly Roundup for June-July, 2019

Oops. I forgot to do a monthly roundup for June! So…this post will be a combination of June and July. I don’t know if it’s middle age (groan) or just because I have too much on my mind (it’s must be that) but lately, my mind has been like a sieve. Sometimes I take a peek back at the monthly roundups and can’t quite remember that it happened. Writing these posts are definitely a good exercise in reflection for me.

Something I want to always remember from this month, is that I received an extremely useful piece of advice: Focus on the smallest changes that make the biggest differences.

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Habit Shifts: Goodbye Things, Tip 6: Creating a capsule wardrobe to survive summer in Taiwan

We are elbow deep into summer here in Taiwan. I am realizing firstly, it’s been a long time since my last post, and secondly, an even longer time since I’ve done any of my “Goodbye Things” challenges. Well, without further delay, let’s get started! For a quick review on Goodbye Things, you can view my original posts here and here. It’s definitely an ongoing process~ but I am slowly, but surely streamlining all aspects of my life.

For this post, I’m going to be working on Goodbye Things, Tip 6: There are limits to the capacity of your brain, your energy and your time.  I’ve decided to apply this to my summer wardrobe, which has been kind of a haphazard state of affairs.  I was in denial that summer was approaching for all of April and May. At that point, the furthest concession that I made was to take all the winter items that needed to be dry cleaned out of my closet. I stuffed them into a bag and left them in a corner of my apartment for months. Then for the next few weeks, I procrastinated getting my summer clothes out of storage, and proceeded to buy random items out of sheer desperation. Every morning, I would try to cobble together outfits from a confusing tangle of clothing from assorted seasons. Suffice to say, this method is not the best, and sets a rather grumpy precedent for the rest of the day.

One recent Sunday afternoon, I decided that I couldn’t continue on like this. I cranked up the AC, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I took everything out of my closet, put aside everything that was not in season. I got out the summer items I had in storage, tried everything on. Then I pushed everything onto a chair and went out to dinner with my friends.

Oops.

After a week of wearing wrinkled tops from said chair, I got back into it. I hung everything up, and decided on a few additions and then went shopping! By the way, I decided on a different strategy for my summer clothing shopping this year. Previously, I would try to wait for a sale. The trouble with that strategy is that all the basic colors and correct sizes would be sold out, and I would be left scrambling.

This year, I bought everything that I needed at the start of the season. I added six new items:  left to right: Dresses from H&M, Muji, and a white T-shirt from Muji. A pair of black trousers, and navy skirt and another pair of black trousers, all from Muji.

Images originally from H&M.com and Muji.com

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Ciao Selects: Best finds from Sephora 焦點嚴選:美國化妝品網站 Sephora 推薦

In my efforts to stop hoarding beauty products, I made a pact with my fellow beauty product enthusiast, Laura that I wouldn’t buy any beauty products until the Sephora sale this year.  For a die-hard product junkie like me, this is a hard rule to enforce, especially in an enabling environment like Taipei. There are lovely air conditioned drugstores on every corner, beckoning me with their shiny new products. During my weakest moments, I’ve had to cross streets and take alternative routes home just to avoid temptation.

But I’m happy to report that for the past four months or so, I’ve been really good! During this time, I’ve been really enjoying my past purchases, and consistently working through my stockpile of face masks.  Before shopping this year’s sale, I thought it would be helpful if I shared with you my reviews of products from my past Sephora purchases.

From left to right, is the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment which has been a favorite of mine for years. I love the texture and the smooth application. I also purchased the mini size this year, which is perfect for just a touch of color when I am out and about. The second product is is the First Aid Beauty Detox Eye Roller.  This is a new product for me that I bought on my most recent trip to the U.S.. It feels icy cool upon application, absorbs quickly, and alleviates some puffiness.  I can’t say if it is doing anything to help my intense under-eye circles just yet, but I will report back once I am about halfway though the product. The third product is Charlotte Tilbury’s Brightening Youth Primer. This primer sinks into my skin quickly, and provides a lovely lit-from-within glow under my foundation. It also feels lightweight to wear, even in Taiwan’s humidity. Some of the reviewers mentioned that this product has a strong scent, but I have not noticed this at all.  The fourth product is Tatcha’s  luminous dewy skin mist.  This is my first Tatcha product and it will be the first of many to come! The mist floats ethereally onto your skin, and refreshes like morning dew.  Love, love love it!

Next  up is Laneige’s lip sleeping mask, in the original scent, which smells like berries. (I believe that it is now available in vanilla). I bought this in the dead of winter, for the two weeks I was working in Oregon, and just slathered it on my lips before going to bed every night. I think it worked well as a buffer against the wind and cold. I reinforced it with Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment during the day, and I was set. The Edible Beauty masks are my first product from this brand. I love the light scent and the mask felt very calming and soothing ~ it was especially welcome during a disastrous incident with a new product (more on that later!)  The other product I believe is worth a mention is the Jade Roller from Mount Lai.  This is one tool that I wish I was more diligent about using! Theoretically, it should be part of my nightly routine, but I always forget. However, if I do remember to use it, it’s a perfect complement to my facial masks. I think it really helps the serums sink in.

The one product that I have had disastrous results with is the Banana Bright Eye Creme from Ole Henrikson. This eye cream is highly rated on Sephora’s website, and I naturally had high hopes… unfortunately, the product made the skin around my eyes swell up and itch like crazy. The swelling took about 2-3 days to go down, and another few days for my skin to return to normal. In a fit of rage, I  was about to toss both jars (the mini and full size) into the trash. But Laura suggested that I use them as a hand cream, instead of letting them go to waste. Amazingly enough, the product works well as a hand cream, with no signs of irritation.

Thankfully, this eye cream has been my only skincare disaster from Sephora of late. Of course, this means that I am well justified in getting a new eye cream. After much research and discussion, I’ve decided on my list for this sale:  First, the item I will be repurchasing is the the Tatcha skin mist. I think the mini size is a perfect size (it lasts about 2 months with daily use) and is light and refreshing to use in Taiwan’s humid weather.  I’m also excited to try the Shaba Complex Firming Eye Serum from Drunk Elephant, and the Strawberry C Brightening Serum from Volition Beauty. The soothing quality of the masks from Edible Beauty have also encouraged me to try more from their product line up; this time I’ve chosen the Glowing Skin Smoothie serum. Lastly, I’m looking forward to trying Fenty Beauty’s Match Styx, which looks like such a pretty color and fun product for summer.

Original images from Sephora.com

Again, I’m trying not to go overboard and just buy products that I can realistically use this upcoming spring/summer season. I have my eye on a few more serums and lotions, but I think they will probably be more suitable for the winter months, so I’ve wish listed them for now.

For those living in the US, or are lucky to have friends who live in the US, the Sephora sale is on from May 2nd to May 6th!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. All products shown are/will be purchased with my own money. All experiences and viewpoints expressed are my own. Links are for your reference only.

Monthly Roundup April 2019

This month was largely shaped by a self-imposed 30 day no shopping ban.  I’m proud to report that I did it!  Even through a 5 day holiday!  I also tried a few other things, such as limiting my discretionary spending to $2000 TWD (about $65 USD) for a week, including groceries, meals out, coffees and incidentals. I almost made it (I think I was just a little over). Thoughts so far is that it is so much cheaper to eat at home. Even in Taiwan! And little expenses that you don’t think twice about add up quickly. This upcoming month, I might try $4000 over a two week span, just to give myself a little flexibility.  One important lesson these financial habit shifts is teaching me is to be more mindful with my money. I work hard for it… and I should really be more aware of where it is going.

As I mentioned, the shopping ban coincided with a 5 day holiday… I considered starting the ban after the holiday, but then I thought, might as well go for it and see what happens. It turns out I spent a lot of time reading. In fact, I read 5 books between the holiday (mid-April) and now. On some occasions, I relaxed and read at home, other times I treated myself to a coffee or drink at a nice coffee shop. It was heaven.  I just let my mind run empty and dove into the stories. I enjoyed every single book in this stack, but my favorite was definitely Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. The book is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. I absolutely recommend.

Lastly, the days are getting longer since summer is approaching. I’m relishing the last days of being able to slurp down down piping hot soup and noodles without melting into a puddle. These noodles are from a tiny shop in my neighborhood. It’s run by the brusquest group of people… they never smile, and the rules change all the time (write down your order! Don’t write down your order, just tell me! Wait here! Wait outside!) However, the uncertainty is worth it because I love the thick, velvety rice noodles in simple broth. I forgot to take a photo of it, but there’s also a tofu side dish that comes drenched in a spicy, savory sauce that is also to die for.  The shop is always full of people and they sell out quickly, so I always get my noodles and tofu to go, and enjoy at home in a beautiful plate that it deserves.

Hope everyone is doing well! Next month, I’ll be looking more into habit shifts… research varies on how long it takes to change a habit (21 days? 6 months? A year?) I’ll do some sleuthing and experimenting and keep you updated.

Enjoy!

 

Ciao Selects: Favorite products I’ve bought during my travels 焦點嚴選:國外帶回來的好物

Great news! I’ve decided to launch a new series, called “Ciao Selects. “Ciao Selects (or in Chinese: 焦點嚴選) will be a way for me to organize (and share!) all my recommendations across the different lifestyle categories that I’m interested in.

This week, I’ve decided to talk about the best and worst products brought back from my travels. In this context ‘best’ refers to the items that are used most often, and ‘worst’ means rarely or never used, or simply just a waste of money.

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Habit Shifts: Money Matters, Experiences with a 30 Day Shopping Ban

My weakness: face masks made from all different kinds of ingredients

Around this time last year, I tried to exercise some financial discipline~ I instituted a 30-day shopping ban, where I would try to cut down on unnecessary or impulse shopping. When I first mentioned this challenge to some of my nearest and dearest, I asked them to list out things that I couldn’t buy, and here are some of their responses:

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