Category Archives: products

Product review: Umi Shoes

I bought a pair of Umi shoes as a Christmas gift for A. this year.  It’s a company I never took very seriously because they’re quite expensive, but I was fortunate to stumble on their site during a 50% off sale they were having for the holidays.  I was really surprised at the quality and care they put into their craftsmanship and understood a little more why they charge a premium for their products.  They also have a social mission, dedicated to being an environmentally friendly company using sustainable products and packaging.  My son loves his Umis and always runs to me with these in hand when it’s time to go outside.

Style-wise, these shoes are super cute with a variety of colors and styles trending on the conservative side (no bling or big logos anywhere) but definitely versatile enough to dress up or down.

I can’t justify paying full-price for a pair just yet since toddler feet grow so quickly, but next time there’s a sale, you’ll totally find me there.  Speaking of sales, you can get 10% off any new styles with code NEWSPRINGSALE12 at checkout.  There’s also a nice selection of clearance items, including the cute Tendems I mentioned above.

Happy shopping!

Makeup routine for a working mom – help.

I’m secretly envious of moms I see in the workplace who look so fabulously put together.  What’s their secret?  Sleeping in full makeup and rolling out of bed?  Some sort of ultra exclusive permanent  makeup tattoos?  Or maybe they’re just naturally blessed with perfect complexion, rosy lips, and a miraculous ability to look refreshed with only 3 hours of sleep (curse you!)  If my occupation didn’t involve interacting with actual people on a constant basis, I probably wouldn’t care so much, but for the sake of being a presentable representative of my organization, I must take the time to look halfway decent.

My makeup routine is quick and simple because, in between getting A. dressed and ready for daycare, I only have about 10 minutes to make myself go from “eeeeeeek!!” to “good enough” for work. I usually shower in the night before, which saves a huge amount of time in the morning (usually to hit the snooze button 3-4 times, haha).  Then the magic happens with the following products:

Chanel Double Perfection Powder Foundation in Tender Bisque

This powder-foundation provides great coverage without being too heavy, and the color matches my yellow-based skin tone quite nicely.   It’s a little pricey but after trying many different products in all price ranges, I found that the Chanel one is the best fit for my complexion.

2.  Anastasia Highlighting Brow Kit

I purchased this on sale at during their additional 20% off sale and love it.  You can mix shades to find the perfect match for your eyebrows, and it lasts all day (no spotty eyebrows by 3pm!).  I don’t use the highlighting colors as much but they’re versatile enough to wear on your eyes as well as cheeks and nose.

3. Urban Decay Naked Palette

This palette is perfect to achieve an office-ready daytime look but is versatile enough to also do a ton of evening and girls-night-out looks as well.  With the exception of the black/grey tones, I typically use almost every single color regularly, generally 2-3 at a time. The colors complement every skin tone.  Trust me, buy this and it will be your go-to palette for day (and night!)

4.  Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eyeliner

I have typical Asian monolid eyes.  Combined with an oily complexion, a liquid eyeliner is my only choice to avoid the heavy metal/raccoon effect.  However, all liquid liners don’t have the same stay-put power – I’ve tried a ton of brands, and nothing comes close to Revlon’s Colorstay line.  They last and last but come off easily with makeup remover (or a good facial cleanser).  I’ve cheated on it several times with other, more expensive brands that promised so much, but inevitably Revlon was the one sure thing I always came back to.

5.  Tie between Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm and Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treament SPF 15

This was a toughie.  I have perpetually dry lips and I use both of these products constantly, alternating between the two at any given time.  Despite being allured by countless other lipglosses, tints, etc., most of them end up collecting dust in my purse or makeup bin.  Burt’s Bees is great in keeping lips hydrated without a fuss – inexpensive, no color, pleasant minty flavor.  Sugar Rose is great when you want a hint of color without a heavy, pasty film on your mouth that lipsticks/glosses can leave.  I can’t live without either one of these.  In fact, I have stashes of both in all my purses, car, and various rooms around the house.

So that’s pretty much my daily routine, and even the relatively short amount of time I spend on makeup sometimes seems like a lot of work.  If anyone would be kind enough to share products or tips that facilitate a busy mom’s morning routine, please let me know!

My Retro Baby plus giveaway from Design Mom

Design Mom is giving away a $250 gift certificate to My Retro Baby, a really cute website with all things retro for your little one!  They have all sorts of stuff, from baby clothes to shower favors, all with a vintage twist.  The website itself is adorable too, so check it out!

The most awesome items are the retro pedal cars – check out a few:

The deluxe fire truck classic pedal car.  Look at all that detail!

Pink Princess pedal car.  Totally cute!

Mobiles galore

Yikes, can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post!  With work and personal stuff going on the past few weeks, I guess I haven’t had much time for anything else.  I’m not doing a good job of keeping my new years resolution of regular blog postings…eek!

Anyways, I saw these amazingly whimisical and airy mobiles at The Wonderland Studio and fell in love.  They’re so modern, simple, and somewhat organic-looking – and the prices are good enough for them to be accesible to almost anyone.

It might fit nicely in a corner of our guest room to add a splash of color and design.  I’m seriously contemplating purchasing one soon.

Swallow bird necklace from Etsy

There’s just something about handmade gifts, no matter how small or inexpensive, that seems to elicit a lot more excitement and satisfaction from both giver and receiver vs. something mass-produced.  One of the reasons why I love Etsy is that I can connect with a virtual global marketplace for such goods, and with so many vendors offering tons of items, I’m bound to find that one unique or perfect gift for someone.

Sort of late in the game, I stumbled across these really cute sparrow necklaces that I wanted to give as gifts to some of my family members.  With only a week left before Christmas, I wasn’t sure if they’d arrive on time.  Fortunately, there were several Etsy vendors who sold these necklaces (I guess since the bird charm isn’t handmade), so after doing some research, I was able to locate two sellers that had them in stock.  And lucky for me, they arrived by Christmas Eve!

You can find this necklace on several Etsy vendor sites, so shop around for the best price if you’d like.  I ordered one for myself and I gotta tell you, I receive many compliments everytime I wear it!

New scent for a new year

I’m such a sucker for perfumes and things that smell nice (candles, soaps, new laundry, and so on).  On a recent trip to Sephora where my mission to was purchase ONLY a new brow pencil, somehow I ended up spending almost a hundred bucks, which included this:

It was one of those impulse purchases from the bins of small items placed strategically in line while you wait for the register.  The fragrance includes notes of Mandarin, Yuzu, White peach, Mountain Strawberries, Freesia, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Orris, Musk, White woods (per Sephora’s description online).  Not quite fruity, not really floral, a hint musky in the undertones, with a subtle strawberry note.  The only downside is that the scent disappears after a few hours, so you’ll need to respritz at least once during the day.  The limited edition bottle holds only 1 fl.oz., which makes it a very portable scent you can carrry around in your purse.  Only $24 right now at Sephora!

Purple & Grey…my new favorite colors?

Based on the current trend in my closet, I think purple and grey have outshined blues and browns as my new go-to colors.  I’ve seen lots of posts about how grey is the new black, which is funny because I painted 2 rooms of my house a beautiful light grey before I picked up on this trend.  It’s pretty true though – grey is a wonderful background and can really help make other colors pop.  In addition, there are so many shades of grey to choose from, as opposed to black.

Some items I’d put on my wishlist include:

reclaimed wool sweater brooch from Etsy seller thejunebride
funky purple belt from Anthropologie
The “Carrie” necklace from Etsy seller erinkeys
Elizabeth & James dress from Shopbop
funky vintage-style candle from Etsy seller Madhatterspottery

Kids clothes, cameras, parties…yes this is random

So this post is really a bunch of miscellaneous items thrown together…

-Anthro kids
I wrote a previous post about how I wished Anthropologie had kids clothes, and it seems like my wish came true! Originally stumbled across a limited selection of items at the store in Newport Beach when I was down there for work event, but now you can find them on their website and in the latest catalog. Super cute stuff (just super expensive too!)

how adorable is this little apron!
(all photos above from Anthropologie’s website)
-the long-awaited camera

It finally arrived in the mail on Wednesday and I’ve been happily clicking away at the most banal and uninteresting subjects to practice (with the exception of my dog Sophie, who’s been patiently acting as my primary live model).  I’m still trying to figure how to use the darn thing – there’s so much more to SLRs than a regular point-and-shoot – but I’m at least shooting in “P” mode right now, having skipped the Auto functions altogether.  So far, the pictures, even with my nonexistent skills, are looking pretty good!

-party party
Our housewarming a few weeks back was a hit, despite a couple of glitches (namely a few drunk guests and me buying way too much food).  I was so busy with about 40+ guests in our small home at one point that I didn’t have time to take any photos.  With the holidays approaching, I can’t wait to host more soirees, though this time, they’ll definitely be a much smaller and more manageable group.  Hosting duties are fun but can be quite stressful!  I can see why some people call it an art.
Happy weekend!

DIY letterpress? Sweet!

Who doesn’t love letterpress anything?  I’d letterpress napkins, business cards, toilet paper (ok maybe not that far), if the price was right.  My wedding invitations were letterpressed, even though it meant going over budget a little and entailed a ton of work (only because I tried to design them myself and didn’t know what the heck I was doing).

Lifestyle Crafts has debuted a new DIY letterpress machine which actually looks pretty simple to use.  Though you’re currently limited to using their customized printing plates at this time, the range of different projects you can do so far is fairly cool.

Something else to put on my christmas wish list…

My first dSLR!

I’m SO excited.  Our faithful Canon Powershot broke on Halloween, which finally gave me an excuse to retire it and purchase a new camera.  Since I’ve been coveting an SLR after seeing too many amazing photos from other bloggers, I promptly started my research on different cameras.  With so many choices out on the market, I quickly became a bit overwhelmed.  For an indecisive person, too many options can actually be a bad thing.  I rethought my strategy and began going through a more systematic process:

1.  Entry level, prosumer, or professional?  Immediately ruled out the professional models, which had a ton of features that I probably wouldn’t use.  Plus they’re super expensive!

2.  Price point?  Somewhere in the under $1000 range. 

3.  Brand?  Based on tons of reviews and my own experience with point-and-shoot digital cameras, I knew I wanted either a Nikon or Canon.  I’ve owned many Canon cameras (both film and digital) so my initial loyalty leaned that way, but Nikon SLRs have an esteemed reputation.  I was torn until…

4.  Lenses?  I had no clue as to how to choose these.  However, I learned that a good lens can be even more important than the camera body. A good lens consistently delivers quality photos and can be used for many years, even as you upgrade or change the camera body (assuming  you stay with the same brand, I think).  Nikon lenses have an awesome reputation for sharpness, color, clarity, and all-around reliability.  Ok, now I’m sold.

5.  Where to buy?  Fortunately, my brother-in-law happened to purchase a dSLR a few months back.  He sent me a great spreadsheet organized with information on cameras and accessories with their prices broken down by online stores.  I initially planned to purchase everything from Amazon, but ended up with a better deal at Buydig

After this exhausting but fruitful search, I chose (drumroll)….

The Nikon D90!  It comes with an 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens, which I learned was a fairly good all-around lens for everyday photos and portraits. 
However, I was also told that a 50mm lens takes the coolest, funnest photos, so I bought this too:
Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras  – only $124 on Amazon!
Orders have been placed, and now I have to wait 5-9 business days to start playing with them. 
Did I mention I’m SO excited?