Mental Health Moment #8- Inspiration Board

Hello lovelies and happy hump day! Hope you all are having a fabulous week so far and if you’re not, keep your head up, it’ll get better I promise. For today’s post, I thought I would share some of the quotes that I turn to on days where I’m feeling blah or even just a little less than happy. I’m always adding to my photo album on my phone and find myself flipping through these photos when I need a little pick me up and I hope they can do the same for you!

Sending lots of love and positive vibes your way xx

March Favorites 2019

Good morning lovelies! I know this is a few days late, I just can’t believe it’s already April. But it’s FINALLY spring and I couldn’t be happier. Nothing makes me more happy than clear blue skies and the warmth of the sun on my skin while out and about during the day. I had so many exciting things piled up to share with you for this month’s favorites, so I hope you all enjoy. Happy reading! xx

Favorite…

Makeup ProductTarte Maneater Mascara. I’m always down for long, voluminous lashes, but this month I’ve found myself prioritizing mascara and lashes over almost everything else. I’ve been obsessed with this mascara for a while now, but have found myself reaching for it almost every single day this month. It really just gives your lashes so much definition and length with just a few coats.

Makeup Product 2 (because why not)Fenty Match Stix in Yacht Lyfe. It’s finally sunny out which means I’m living for minimal makeup with a natural glow. I’ve been obsessed with this Fenty highlighter stick since I got it last Christmas, but I’ve found myself using it almost every single day this month and I love the natural glow and shimmer it gives to my face.

Skincare ProductTree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub. Like I said, it’s finally hot and sunny so I’ve been out by the pool in a bikini almost every day. I love this sugar scrub to keep my skin healthy and radiant. It’s also a great scrub to use before shaving (because we need to keep those legs nice and sleek to show them off by the pool).

Haircare ProductGarnier Fructis Sleek & Shine anti-frizz serum. I use the Garnier shampoo, conditioner and leave-in hair treatment, but I’ve added this serum into my haircare routine as well and it always leaves my hair with the softest finish and a pretty little sheen. I use a pump of this along with the leave-in conditioner on wet hair right after I’m out of the shower.

Clothing ItemKate Spade Lisannef’s pink glitter sunglasses. I got these for Christmas this past December, but have really started wearing them a lot this month as the sun came out a little more. During my NYC trip I had these on pretty much the whole time and they’re just so freaking adorable and go with every single outfit.

Brunch SpotLavender & Honey Espresso Bar. Sunday brunch is kinda my thing (haha if you couldn’t tell), and nothing brings me more joy than finding new spots to relax on a Sunday morning over good food and a cup of coffee. A friend recommended L&H for breakfast the other morning and it was amazing. To be honest, going in I thought it was going to be boring since their specialty is toasts, but it was the farthest thing from boring. The lavender & honey and the cream cheese tartine on their artisan bread were absolutely to die for .

Sweet TreatMomofuku Milk Bar (New York City). I know you’re probably sick and tired of hearing all about New York, but I can’t help it, it was just so amazing and there were so many things to pull from for this months favorites. With that being said, Milk Bar had been on my ultimate food bucket list for years now (and even more after watching Christina Tosi’s episode of Chef’s Table), and it DID NOT disappoint. I’m not gonna lie, I definitely went to Milk Bar every single day of the trip, because when else am I going to eat Crack Pie and Cereal Milk ice cream four days in a row?! Everything I had was so so good and has earned a high place on my favorite foods for sure.

MovieThe First Monday in May. I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for a while, but after my NYC trip and visiting the Met I just had to. I love documentaries and this one was so fun to watch and different from anything else. And it’s on Netflix now so what more do you need!

TV ShowGossip Girl. I know I’m a little late (and by a little I mean a lot) to hop on the bandwagon, but, again, after my NYC trip I was like I absolutely have to start watching. I’m literally only a few episodes in but already see myself getting obsessed with it.

BookGaining: The truth about life after eating disorders. I had to pick a book to read for one of my classes this semester and decided on one about an eating disorder. As hard as it is to read about such a difficult topic that has so much impact on my life at this very moment, it’s been so empowering to read other people’s experiences. 

Healthy Habit– Keeping a daily gratitude journal. This is something I’ve been doing off and on for the last two years but have found myself falling into this routine a lot more this past month. I try to write down something I’m grateful for the second I way up every day, and I really find that starting my day off with a grateful heart always gets my day off right.

February Favorites 2019

Happy Tuesday, hope you’re all having a FAB week! I know this is a few days late, but the February flew by. So without further ado, here are this past month’s favorites!

Favorite…

Makeup Product– Since we’re just a couple weeks away from the first day of spring, I’ve been loving fun and bright eyeshadow colors like the Banana Daiquiri Super Shock Shadow from Colourpop. It’s a stunning bright blue that gives the perfect pop to your eyes without being too much. And the best part, it’s only $5!

Skincare Product– I just got the Trader Joe’s Rose Water Face Toner as a gift and I’ve been obsessed with it. It has such a nice spray nozzle and mists really nicely. I love using it throughout the day to refresh my face (even with makeup on) or right before I go to bed after doing my skincare routine. It also smells amazing!

Beauty Product– Since it’s been pretty grey and rainy in LA, I’ve been craving a tan and have been using the St. Moriz Instant Tan in the shade dark to get a little extra sun-kissed glow. It goes on so well, isn’t streaky and gives a nice, even coverage. And it’s only $9 on Amazon and comes with the cutest application mitt.

Hair Care Product– This month I’ve been obsessed with the Garnier Green Apple and Green Tea shampoo. It smells so good and gets my hair feeling so clean while also making it feel healthy and hydrated which is much needed and appreciated during these dryer months.

Clothing Item– Yellow button down dress from Forever 21. I bought this on sale over Christmas knowing it would be perfect for spring/summer and I’m so glad I did. It’s so comfy, cute and flirty and can easy be dressed up with some heals or down with a pair of sneakers.

Brunch Spot– Maybe it’s because it’s almost spring, or maybe LA is just really rubbing off on me, but I’ve been obsessed with Acai/Berry bowls recently. Berry Bowl in Eagle Rock has been my go-to for healthy, quick breakfasts. My two favorites are the Tropical Bowl and the Blue Majik Bowl with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, granola, lots of coconut and agave.

Restaurant– I’m adding this in super last minute, but I just went to a new find called Blair’s in Eagle Rock for dinner last night and had to add it in. It was so good and so reasonable. We ordered the meatballs with polenta and the bruschetta with burrata to start and I had the Gnochetti with pork sausage as my main and it was so good and the coolest atmosphere.

Sweet Treat– DONUTS. I’ve always been such a donut person, but I’ve seriously been craving them so much this month. I’ve always loved Colorado Donut in Eagle Rock, but I also stumbled upon the cutest new store, Leberry Bakery in Pasadena that has the best donuts and the sweetest staff.

Quote– “But the thing is, even if I could go back, I wouldn’t belong there anymore.” -Ccz. This past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and this quote was one that was constantly on my mind. It’s a reminder of the progress I’ve made and the places I’m headed. Even if I could go back and stop the behaviors that developed into an eating disorder, I don’t think I would. I truly think that everything happens for a reason, the good, bad and ugly. And I believe that out of every storm comes a rainbow<3

And on that note, those were all my favorites this month. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll see you all very very soon!

 

January Favorites 2019

Can’t believe we’re already at the end of the month, I feel like we were just celebrating New Year’s. One thing I’m super excited to be doing this year is monthly favorites. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers/vloggers do this in the past and I love the concept of sharing all the things you’ve been loving each month. What I share will vary from month to month depending on what life is looking like, but each month will be full of fun beauty products, clothing items, foods/restaurants, movies and anything else under the sun that I’ve been loving.

Favorite…

Makeup productTarte Sex Kitten eyeliner. I’ve been obsessed with bold eyes lately and this eyeliner does just that. Honestly I’ve never really liked non-liquid eyeliners for my top lip but this one changed my mind. It works so well both on the top lid and the water line, lasts forever and is so pigmented and bold.

Skincare productAhava Hydration Cream Mask. During these cold winter months, my skin has been so dehydrating and screaming for moisture and this mask makes my skin feel so much better. You can either leave it on for 20 minutes, wash it off and moisturize or use is as an overnight mask.

Beauty product– The worst part about moving to a place with seasons is not being naturally bronzed and tanned all year round. I never thought I’d be the one to use self-tan, but during the cold winter months I started craving a tan. I found the St. Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Mousse online with great reviews and tried it out, and I’ve been loving it. It’s so easy to apply, doesn’t get streaky easily, and gives a beautiful deep, but natural, tan. And the best part, it’s only $10 for a bottle and application mitt.

Haircare product– This month I started using the Treatment Mask from Morrocan Gold Series and it has seriously saved my hair. After being in chlorine for hours a day and then getting out to the driest weather ever, it’s helped to hydrate my hair and give it a healthy shine.

Clothing itemFluffy Pink Jacket from Forever 21. I bought this when I was back in Tokyo for Christmas and I have seriously been living in it. It’s the best thing ever, it’s big, fluffy, soft and the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn.

Brunch spotFour Cafe in Eagle Rock. I’ve been to this place a few times before but I’ve been obsessed with it this month. They have a roasted Brussels sprout dish on their menu which is absolutely to die for. And they make eating clean so fun and easy, exactly what’s needed after the holiday season.

SnackTrader Joe’s Coconut Sesame Clusters. I found these a few months ago and have been obsessed with them ever since. They’re little coconut crisps covered in black and white sesame seeds and (healthily) hits those sweet and salty cravings.

Planner– The Kate Spade ‘Things We Love’ Planner (2018-2019) has been my saving grace for this school year, and that’s especially true at the beginning of the year when I’m trying to get everything ready and organized. When I first saw it on their website I knew I HAD to get it and I’m so glad I did.

AppRecovery Record. I actually started using this app a few months ago when my dietician recommended it to me, and let me tell you it’s been such a big part of my recovery. It gives you space to record what you’re eating every meal without going into specifics (you can literally just upload a picture if you want), and it also allows you to record how you’re feeling, if you’ve binged, if you’ve purged, etc. You can also connect it with your dietician/therapist (if you’re working with one) which gives them access to all your logs. It’s a simple and non-time consuming to keep track of everything you’re eating.

TV Show– Over the break I started ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ which is such a fun and easy watch. But I also couldn’t write this without mentioning my all-time favorite for this month which is Colton’s season of The Bachelor.

Book– I got “Becoming” by Michelle Obama for Christmas and although I haven’t finished it yet, it’s so incredible and inspiring, but honestly what else would we expect from her. It’s such a good read, but warning… it will make you miss the Obama’s, I promise!

Amazon purchase– I didn’t really have a good title for this one, it was pretty much just a random purchase, but I thought it was worthy of putting in here. I’d read about the Rapid Ramen Cooker from SharkTank, but thought it was too good to be true. Then I found it on amazon for only $6 and figured, why not, so I ordered it and it’s so cool. It actually works for instant ramen (every college kids comfort food, including this one), but it’s also just a sturdy and easy container to use in the microwave for anything else as well.

 

*200 Posts* Looking Back

Wow, here we are, 4 years and 200 posts later. I’m going to try not to make this too mushy, but I’m truly amazed, proud, in-awe, and every other positive adjective of myself, this blog and all the places it’s gone. When I first started I was a bored high school student sitting in a class I really didn’t care about. I didn’t know who I was and I was desperately looking for answers. Swimming, school, friends, family, I didn’t know what my true life’s purpose was. And it surely wasn’t to just float through life doing whatever, I needed a purpose. The driving force to get me going. I started writing about things I enjoyed: food, fitness, travel, body image. I wrote for myself. But suddenly I realized the power that I had with my words, the power this platform I created had. People started coming up to me at school, “hey, I read your blog post the other day on body image and it was so inspiring”, “you’re blog post on those Singapore brunch spots was awesome and I tried a bunch out”. I was reaching people, people were reading my blogs. That’s when writing about things I enjoyed or cared about became my passion. It wasn’t about putting on this front that everyone would like, it was about sharing my story, my journey and my experiences while promoting what I cared about, kindness, self love and positivity. No matter what I’m writing about, how old I get or where I am in the world, those three things will always be where I’m rooted, and those three things will always be where SwimEatLove is rooted. I’m beyond grateful everything this blog has given me. It’s connected me to some of the most incredible and inspiring people, allowed me a creative outlet to express myself without any limits, and it’s given me purpose. So while I’ve now hit this milestone of 200 posts, there’s no slowing down. I want to share my story, be open, honest and vulnerable as long as I possibly can.

So to celebrate, I thought my 200th post would be a look back on the last 4 years, the posts I’ve loved, the ones you’ve loved and a bunch of others in between.

It all started with me sharing my love for swimming, the good, the bad and the ugly. Butterfly or Butterdie “When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head.”

I’ve shared photos through Life Through A Lens to give you all a little peak into my life. I’ve shared my love for food through my Food Adventures from around the world and many recipes I’ve come up with myself (some heart healthy, some healthy for your soul).

I began to share my journey to self-love, although a hard one. The ‘Perfect’ Self. “It blows my mind that I can pick up a magazine with the header “The New Plus-Sized Model”, flip it open and see a gorgeous woman wearing size 8 clothes. As a society, we have painted a picture of what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like; long skinny legs, a flat stomach, thin arms, and narrow hips.”

When I traveled, you traveled. You came with me around the world; Thailand, Paris, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Cambodia, California and so many more. My adventures became your adventures and I loved that. I shared my journeys in those places and also what it took to get there. Holiday Travel Tips. “As this post is going up, I’m in an Uber on the way to LAX ready to hop on a plane and head back to see my family for the holidays. Since traveling is something that almost everyone does during the holidays in one way or another, I thought I would share my holiday travel guide/tips for today’s post. I’ve done some other “travel tips” posts in the past (be sure to check those out!), but this one will be my updated one specifically for the holidays. Enjoy and happy traveling! xx”

I found myself becoming interested in new and different things, and I shared that with you. Never thought I’d be a little fashion guru. Natural Glam- “No Makeup” Look. “Good morning lovelies! Now that it’s back to school and work, there’s a lot of 5 minute, easy makeup looks going on. Today I thought I’d share my natural, go-to no-makeup look with you all. I wasn’t always a ‘wear makeup to school’ kind of gal, but lately I’ve found that it helps me feel put together and ready for the day. Having basic makeup done makes me feel like I’ve made an effort for not only people around me, but myself as well. For me, natural looks are all about keeping your skin healthy and glowy while still covering up all the imperfections.”

And along with fashion, I’ve become obsessed with beauty, as well as all things summer and the beach but we already knew that. Summer Beauty. “It’s finally that time of the year where we’re all whipping out our bikinis/suits and headed to spend time at the beach, the lake or even just by the pool, soaking in every ounce of sunlight in hopes to get that perfectly sun-kissed skin. Today’s post is going to be all of my summer beauty tips and go-to’s to get you looking fresh, relaxed and glowing. Under each section I have linked some of the products I have been loving this summer.”

I shared by true and lasting love of my beautiful island of Singapore with you. Mega Guide to Singapore. “Planning on visiting Singapore or always wanting to visit? These are my top 10 things to do in Singapore. It may only be 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, but the beautiful island is PACKED with fun things to do!”

For two years now, I’ve brought you into my life during the holidays. Trying to share my profound love for Christmas and the season, 12 Days of Christmas has allowed me to do so. Christmas Tag. “Red or green – which color occupies your life during Christmas? Red, and red glitter. What’s your favorite Christmas accessory? Gold hoops. Do you buy presents or try DIYs? Buy presents, but I love putting together gift baskets/sets. Chocolate, Strawberry, or Vanilla – what do you prefer the most during Christmas? None of them… everything PEPPERMINT! What is your favorite Christmas slogan? Be naughty, save Santa the trip;)”

And what I’m most proud of is how open I’ve been about the hardest parts of my life. Sharing about my struggle with an eating disorder with you all was the hardest decision, but the best decision I ever made. As scary as it was, the number of people who reached out thanking me for trying to break the stigma was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. It was become a big part of my life and will stay with me forever, even way after recovery. That’s what this blog has been about, helping others feel less alone. Mental Health Moments are a way to make sure that this important conversation is being had. If no one else will talk about it, I sure as hell will. To My Eating Disorder… “Today is National Love Your Body Day, and while I try to preach and live by the idea of self-love, I’ve been struggling with this by a battling with an eating disorder. It’s not something a lot of people talk about, and it’s not something a lot of people talk about publicly. But I’m ready to break that mold. The scariest thing about this whole battle has been feeling alone in my fight. But I know I’m not the only one. I’m here telling my story with hopes that it can help others out there feel a little less alone. I’m not posting this looking for pity or attention, I’m posting this because reading other peoples stories was such a big part of the start of my recovery. If this can help even just one person feel a little less alone, then it’s worth it.”

How crazy is that, 200 posts. And guess what, I already see 400 on the horizon.

Much love always, Aime.

 

10 Tips For A Productive Morning

Happy Tuesday lovelies! Today is my first day of classes for this semester, and I thought what’s more fitting than sharing my tips for having the most productive morning ever. Whether I’m getting up early for school, work or just to get the day started I’ve found that these things always make me feel much more awake and positive about the day ahead of me. I hope you find these helpful and are ready for a jam-packed week ahead

1. Drink water and eat. I can’t stress this enough, the second you wake up drink a big glass of water. It’s so important to rehydrate after hours of not drinking anything. And make sure you’re eating something in the morning. Whether it’s just a banana with peanut butter or a full breakfast with eggs, protein, and healthy carbs it’s so important to get enough energy in you for the day. Eating a hearty breakfast can also help reduce unhealthy cravings throughout the day, so make sure you start it off right. My favorite on-the-go breakfast is a banana with peanut butter on a whole wheat english muffin or berries and yoghurt, and my favorite full-fledged breakfast is a whole wheat english muffin, two eggs over easy, half an avocado and berries or yoghurt.

2. Keep a gratitude journal. I started keeping a gratitude journal a year and a half ago when I started college and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I do admit there have been times where I’ve been not as good about writing something down everyday, but I always get back on track. All I do is whip out my notebook and write 1-2 lines about something I’m grateful for at that moment. Spending 30 seconds to think about something positive can make such a big difference to your day. I also find myself pulling out my journal and reading back through all the things I’ve written when I’m having a bad/hard day. I really think this is something everyone should do.

3. Spend 3 minutes checking your planner. I am constantly filling out my planner (currently using this Kate Spade one) throughout everyday just to make sure I’m on top of my schedule and all the work I have, but I like to spend a bit of time every morning going over all the things I have to do that day. As I’m doing this I also cross off the day before, it’s such a small action but really helps me shift my focus from the past to the present. When I do this I always remind myself that it’s a new day with new possibilities and new intentions, as cheesy as that may sound.

4. Make yourself a cup of coffee. I started doing this recently (even in my dorm room), and I’ve been loving it. I find that making coffee at home makes you move around a little bit which is exactly what I need when I first wake up (along with my cup of joe). I didn’t think I was going to be able to make coffee in my dorm room, but it’s surprisingly easy. I just have ground coffee from Trader Joe’s, an Alfred coffee french press (which I’m obsessed with) and then a microwave safe mug to boil water in. It’s something mindless you can do while still moving around a bit.

5. Do your makeup. Even on days that are a bit more chill or that I’m going to be staying in for a while I always do my makeup and get dressed. I don’t do anything crazy or over the top but the act of getting ready helps me get into a more productive mindset. Especially if I’m going to be doing some work or need to do something important, getting dressed and made up puts me in the ‘ready to go’ headspace, it always makes me feel so productive without fail.

6. Tidy up your space. I try not to let my room and workspace get too messy, but when I wake up I really try to tidy up and organize as much as possible. I’ll throw away any trash, file away lose papers and very quickly make up bed. Doing all of this helps me feel organized and calm about the day ahead of me. There’s nothing better than having a clean and fresh start to the morning.

7. Meditate or create daily intentions. I’ve started using the apps Headspace and Calm in the mornings, and it’s made such a difference. I usually just put on a 5 minute meditation that I’ll listen to while I’m tidying up or brushing my teeth. Even if I’m not focusing on it 100%, just having it on in the background makes me think about the day ahead of me and what I want to get out of it.

8. Use citrus essential oils. Citrus scents are known to be amazing for waking you up and making you feel revived and fresh. I love to use anything citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit) in my diffuser in the morning to make the room smell nice and wake myself up. If I’m really needing it, I’ll also dab a little bit on the insides of my wrists to carry around with me as I start the morning.

9. Get some sunshine and fresh air. When I wake up in the morning and don’t have anywhere to be for a bit, I always try to get outside even just for a little bit. Whether I walk out to grab breakfast and coffee or I just sit on my patio for 10 minutes, being outside always makes me feel so awake and ready to begin the day. And plus, so much research says that getting a little bit of Vitamin D every morning has infinite positive affects on your body.

10. Start your morning routine at night. Yes- get your morning off to the best start possible by getting everything ready the night before. Get your stuff organized, get your things together if you have an early start, just make sure you end everyday prepared for the next day. Not only will you thank yourself for doing so the next morning, it will also help you sleep better and feel more at ease knowing you’re prepared.

2018- The Year in Moments

Happy 2019!!

It seems like I was just writing my 2017 highlights just the other day, but here we are again, 2018 in moments. This year has been absolutely crazy. I’ve been extremely open about my struggles this year, and even though it was one of the hardest years of my life, I learned so much about myself and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s made me appreciate the smaller things in life (as cliche as that may sound), and remember who the people who truly matter are. For me, 2018 was a reminder that family is everything, and I should never forget that. So here we go, first post of the year, my 2018 in moments.

 

January 1st // New Year’s at the beach- Started off 2018 the best way possible, laying out at Manhattan Beach. Even though it was cloudy and cold (and I was basically in a sweatshirt the whole time), being outside and with a bunch of my friends was such a fun way to ring in the new year. And plus, how lucky am I to be able to go to the beach in January?!

March 9th // Home for Spring Break- My Christmas present for the year before was a plane ticket home for spring break, since my winter break is so short (as you can imagine, I burst out in tears when I got my plane ticket). I was able to fly back to Singapore for 9 days and see all my favorite people, eat all my favorite things and go to all my favorite places. Being able to spend an extra week at home with my family was an absolute highlight of my year, and plus it was a surprise which made it twice as good.

March 24th // Marched for our lives- While it’s extremely devastating that it’s come to the point where we have to march for the safety of children’s lives, it was so incredible to stand alongside so many others who are fighting the same fight. After spending an evening making our posters, my friends and I were proud to show up to DTLA wearing our ‘March For Our Lives’ shirts and walk next to so many other people from all walks of life who were all there to end the most preventable form of death in our nation. That day made me extremely proud and brought so much hope.

May 13th // Mother’s Day back at home- And then we were back in Singapore for summer, and started off the break by celebrating the most amazing woman in my life. I was SO happy to be able to make it back in time to celebrate with her. My sister and I went as all-out as we could with flowers, balloons, presents and dinner at home to try and show my mom how much she meant to us. And Singapore even treater her to a gorgeous sunset to top it all off.

June 25th // Beach getaway with the family- With only a few more weeks to go in South East Asia, we had to get another Phuket trip in. One of our go-to destinations for long weekends and breaks, we were lucky enough to spend a few days at Le Meridien in Phuket as a family to soak in some beach time. We dined at our favorite restaurants in the area and got in tons of tropical cocktails during happy hour too. It was so much fun to be away with my family for a little bit and to celebrate 20 years of life in South East Asia.

July 6th // Last day in our home of two decades– Finally, after 20 years and 3 months, my family said thank you to Singapore for being the city that raised our family. We spent the last days on my favorite island eating all of our favorite foods, including hawker food, steamboat, dim sum, all the brunch and char siu noodles, soaking in all the beauty of the city and spending time with dear, old friends. There are no words to express all the feelings and emotions that were felt over those last two weeks. While it was with tears of sadness that we said see you later, the tears were also happy as we remembered all the amazing and incredible people and memories that Singapore had given us. Bittersweet, to say the least.

July 7th // First day in our new home, Tokyo- But as we said goodbye to one home, we said hello to another. While we had visited Tokyo many times before, this time was different. We slowly learned to make Tokyo our home. Couch by couch, street by street, house by house. As we went back to some of our favorite places, we also ventured out to new areas, tried new restaurants, met new people and slowly became more and more comfortable in our new home. And while it will never replace Singapore, it’s opened us with nothing but open arms.

August 25th // Juuban Matsuri (end-of-summer festival)- To get rid of all of those back-to-school blues we spent one of the last days of summer (and one of my last days in Tokyo) with friends at the Obon Matsuri in Azabu Juuban. We spent the evening walking through the crowded, vendor-filled streets eating tonkatsu (fried pork) on a stick, playing traditional obon games and sipping on frozen sangria. As crazy and chaotic (and sweaty!) as it was, it was so much fun to celebrate the end of an amazing summer in such a special way.

October 30th // A week in LA with dad- I was SO excited for my dad to come and to be able to spend a week with him in LA in the middle of the semester. We did everything from going to the Grove, walking around Beverly Hills, eating so much brunch and Dim Sum and exploring the original Farmer’s Market. We also headed over to Claremont for a night to spend some time with my grandparents and were able to catch up with close family friends. Having a quick break from campus life was much needed and so much fun!

November 21st // Thanksgiving road-trip to San Francisco- After my grandparents decided to forgo our traditional Thanksgiving, we decided to go on a short trip up to San Francisco. We started with a two day drive up the coast and spent a night in the cute little seaside town of Cambria (seriously, the cutest town ever!). After getting to SF, we spent the next few days walking around the city, grabbing lunch at Pier 39 and of course having steamboat for Thanksgiving dinner, because what else would you do? My grandparents absolutely love SF, so they took me back to all their favorite places, including their two favorites, Lori’s Diner and Sears Fine Food on Powell Street. And to top off the weekend, we were able to watch the first Macy’s Christmas tree lighting of the season.

December 13th // Home for Christmas- And finally, the highlight of my year for sure, being home (in Tokyo) for Christmas. I was crazy excited to be home with my family for the holidays this year, and to have a real winter Christmas. I was so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my favorite people doing Christmas shopping, eating at our go-to places (and a bunch of new ones), going to Disneyland (whole post on Tokyo Disney going up soon!) and of course doing anything and everything Christmassy. We had so many cozy movie nights, nice dinners out on the town, Christmas parties and endless cuddles with my puppy. It was simply one of the best Christmases ever.

I already have so many amazing things lined up for 2019 and can’t wait to see where this year brings me.
Happy New Year! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 12- The Perfect Christmas |2018

So here we are, Merry Christmas! Can’t believe how fast December has gone, actually can’t believe how fast the year has gone. It’s the last day of 12 Days and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than to share with you all how to have the perfect Christmas. And when I say perfect, I really mean imperfect because I believe perfection lies in the imperfections of everyday. I’ve put together all my recipes, tips and tricks to having the most magical day ever.

The Perfect Christmas Morning:

You know that quote, “I’m only a morning person on Christmas”, well that could not be more accurate. Ever since my sister and I were tiny humans, we would run into each others rooms early on Christmas morning and then run downstairs to see what Santa had left us in our stockings. Our excitement would eventually wake our parents and grandparents up and we would sit around the living room by the tree opening our stockings. After that, we all head into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast, pancakes, fruit, hot chocolate and egg nog. Once the dishes have been cleared and washed, we’ll go back to the tree and open all of our presents while sipping on more egg nog and listening to Christmas music. It’s always the most chill, relaxed but exciting morning of the year.

Christmas Traditions:

Each family always has their own Christmas traditions, and I think that carrying those for generations hold so much meaning. But I also think that coming up with new traditions to pass on to your kids and grandkids are so special. Every year for Christmas my grandma made her special ‘holiday nugget’ cookies (our family recipe), and as I got older I began to carry on that tradition as well. My family has all the little things we do on Christmas that we’ve pretty much done my whole life, and carrying on those traditions no matter where we are always makes the day extra special. Traditions are rooted in family, remember to be thankful to have been blessed with your family, Christmas is rooted in family.

Fun Things To Do On Christmas Day:

  1. Play a big board game with your family
  2. Watch a Christmas movie (Santa Clause and Love Actually are always SO GOOD on Christmas day) and cuddle up with Christmas cookies and peppermint hot chocolate
  3. Play with all your new presents. I know this sounds like something kids do, but I promise everyone wants to sit there and try/check out all their new goodies
  4. Go look at all the Christmas lights and decorations around your neighborhood (or wherever you are)
  5. Shop!! I know this sounds crazy, but post-Christmas sales are the real deal
  6. Cook dinner…and try out a new recipe while you’re at it (festive recipes down below:)
  7. Festive crafts and DIYS- make paper snowflakes, homemade ornaments or DIY decorations… and you’ll be getting a start for next year
  8. Build a gingerbread house, bake some Christmas cookies, get your sweet tooth ready
  9. Lounge around all day in your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters… you deserve it!

Festive Recipes:

The Perfect Cheese Platter: 

Is there any other way to start a Christmas meal than with an over-the-top cheese platter?! To start off, grab a large board. Pick out 3-4 cheese of your choosing. My motto when it comes to cheese is the stinkier the better, but to each their own. Get different kinds of crackers or slices of a baguette and lay out on the board. Now arrange the blocks of cheese in the center. Fill up the open spaces with slices of fruit, bunches of grapes, jams or honeys and nuts. Always have a sweet and salty element on your board. And of course… serve with wine:)

Tapas Varieties:

One thing my family has started doing over the past few years is different kinds of tapas during festive meals. Tapas is the Spanish word for small plate/appetizer. Usually, we do these on slices of baguette or simply on crackers. Our go-to is a thin slice of baguette, garlic yoghurt, caramelized onions, grilled red peppers, prosciutto, a slice of camembert with sugar and bruleed with a blow torch (absolutely to die for). Others we have done are a slice of chorizo with asparagus and aioli, crab salad with avocado and caviar, as well as prosciutto, blue cheese, pear, honey and black pepper. These are so easy to make ahead of time and in bulk and are always the first to go at any dinner or gathering.

Grilled Garlic Prawns:

Ingredients:

Large/tiger prawns

6 cloves garlic

Flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully split the prawns in half, you can leave the head on or you can remove it and use it to make a prawn head oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and any other desired herbs.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and garlic on high heat until butter bubbles. Put prawns in the hot pan (meat side down). Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook another two minutes.
  4. Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.

Roasts:

Roasts are always the perfect center piece for a festive meal. Whether it’s turkey, chicken, pork belly or ribs, theres always a way to make it a little more Christmassy. Try spices like clove, all-spice, ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon as your dry rub. If you have access to it, using fresh spices (like whole cinnamon sticks) can do wonders. Adding a little bit of sweetness using oranges or cranberries is another way to amp up your roast.

Easiest-Ever Tiramisu:

One of the desserts I made this year was a tiramisu. I always thought that it was a technical and difficult dessert to make, but it couldn’t be easier. This boozy, creamy dessert will be a hit!

Ingredients:

Lady fingers or pound cake

1 1/2 cups strong coffee

1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liquer)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup marscapone

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Start by whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla essence. Once soft peaks are formed, fold in the marscapone. Set aside.
  2. Mix coffee and Kahlua in a shallow tin. If you’re using pound cake, cut into strips the size of your container.
  3. To assemble: Start with a thin layer of the cream at the bottom of a clear class container.
  4. Dip your cake or lady fingers in the coffee mixture and form one layer.
  5. Add cream on top and spread evenly. Repeat this process until you’re done.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours or over night. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Brandy Snap Canoli (A take on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Hennessy (brandy)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup marscapone

1/4 cup dark chocolate

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup candied nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)

Orange, to zest

Directions:

  1. To make the shells of the canoli, bring the brown sugar, butter and syrup to boil in a pan (until it becomes a silky caramel).
  2. Pour the caramel into a mixture of flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add brandy and mix it in.
  3. Scoop spoon full of the mixture onto a baking sheet (with lot’s of space in between) and bake at 375 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once baked, leaved to cool for exactly 90 seconds, then shape around a wooden spoon or rolling pin until set.
  5. Set the shells aside until ready to fill and eat.
  6. For the filling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Then add marscapone and gently fold in.
  7. Add chopped chocolate, cranberries and nuts to the mixture and grate in half of the orange zest. Gently mixed.
  8. Right before eating, put the filling in a piping bag and fill the shells.
  9. Serve topped with powdered sugar and orange zest.

And with that I’m signing off for 2018. Thank you for an amazing year, can’t wait to see all the next has to offer.

Happy new year and I’ll see you in 2019!! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 11- Winter Favorites |2018

Hi lovelies! Can you believe we’re already at day 11 and that it’s almost Christmas…CRAZY! For the second to last day of 12 Days, I thought I’d put together my winter favorites, everything I’ve been loving this season. These are all things that have gotten me through this crazy (but super fun!!) holiday season. Enjoy!! xx

 

Favorite NEW product- Jade Roller from Sherrie Matthews

Favorite clothing item- Reindeer Ugly Christmas Sweater from Amazon

Favorite store- Cotton On, H&M and Forever 21 have been my go-to’s for all my winter clothes

Favorite nail polish color- Glittery gold!

Favorite accessory- Kate Spade ‘Glitter Is My Favorite Color’ bracelet

Favorite beauty product- Doucce Beauty Luscious Lip Stain in Dark Lust

Favorite haircare product- Marrakesh Oil from Marrakesh

Favorite skincare product- Tarte’s Maracuja Oil has been my skin’s saving grace

Favorite scent- Daisy by Marc Jacobs

Favorite movie- Love Actually

Favorite TV show- Fuller House (season 5!)

Favorite song- ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ by Pentatonix

Favorite app- Head Space and Recovery Record

Favorite drink- White peppermint hot chocolate or Matcha latte from Starbucks

Favorite food- Christmas cookies!!

 

See you on Day 12 (how crazy is that…)!!

12 Days of Christmas|Day 6- Holiday Pamper Routine |2018

Hello lovelies and happy Day 6! The holiday chaos getting to your head, finals driving you crazy or just in need of a Tuesday night recharge sesh by yourself, I’ve got you covered! Today’s post is my current pamper routine. I’ve done quite I few pamper routines in the past (I honestly just love writing these and reading other people’s, and who doesn’t love a little self-care), but this one is my official 2018 Holiday Pamper Routine, full of products I’m loving that will get you in the true holiday spirit.

 

I always start off by changing into some cozy Christmas PJs or a nice fluffy robe, really anything as long as I’m comfy. Before I start anything else I’ll try to set the mood in my room. I love scents so I’ll either use my diffuser with lavender and citrus essential oils or I’ll burn one of my favorite candles which is Champagne Toast from Bath and Body Works. And of course I’ll turn off the main lights and throw on some fairy lights. After my room’s feeling nice and relaxed, I’ll go use my MakeUp Eraser (I’m so obsessed with this right now) to take all my makeup off and then hop in the shower. I talked about these in my last pamper routine too, but I’ve been loving the Herbal Essence Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner for my hair, especially during the drier winter months. If I’m feeling like I really need it, I’ll also do a treatment using either the Briogeo deep conditioning mask or the Moroccan Gold Series treatment mask. I’ll then go ahead and use a good body scrub everywhere (it’s winter, we all have dead skin cells) and shave using the Eos shaving cream. After I shave I make sure to moisturize right away. I bought the C. Booth coconut fig body lotion over Thanksgiving and have been living for it.

If I’m at home and have my beloved bath tub I’ll take a bath after I’m done showering. I’m ridiculously obsessed with bath bombs, so of course I’ll use one of those. I absolutely love all the Lush Christmas bath bombs, so those are always a good go-to, but I also found these really cute Christmas ones from The Body Shop (so freaking affordable!) which I really want to try when I’m home for Christmas. When I’m in the bath, which I could literally sit in for hours, I’ll make sure the lights are off and have some chill show or vlog playing. If I’m really wanting to treat myself, I’ll also light a bunch of candles to really set the mood. And if you’re really really wanting to treat yourself, pour yourself a nice lil glass of wine (if your of age of course), because you deserve it;)

After I’m done in the shower (or out of the bath), I’ll dry my hair super quick with a towel and put my PJs or robe back on. During the winter my hair gets brittle and dry really easily, so I use both the Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine leave-in conditioner and the argan oil from Marrakesh Oil. If I have something to get dressed up for the next day, I’ll straighten my hair. But more often than not I just let it air dry.

Now it’s facial time! I’ll start by washing my face with either the Grown Alchemist polishing facial exfoliant or the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate. During the winter my skin can get really dry and flaky (as it does for a lot of people), so it’s really important to use a good exfoliator to get rid of all the dead skin cells and prep your skin for a face mask. On a real pamper night I’ll usually use two face masks, one purifying and one hydrating just to make sure I’m not drying out my skin too much. For the first mask I love the Indian Healing Clay with apple cider vinegar or the CVS dead sea mineral face mask. If you’re looking for a more luxurious mask, the Boscia Charcoal mask or the Glam Glow Bubblesheet are also amazing. I’ll leave that mask on for about 12-15 minutes and then wash it off/take it off. For the hydrating mask I have a ton of different Korean sheet masks that I’ll usually choose from, but I also found these really cute Christmas hydrating sheet masks at CVS which I think are perfect for a holiday pamper night. I typically leave sheet masks on for about 20 minutes so while I have that on I’ll put on either a Christmas movie (check my last 12 Days post for my fav holiday movies) or some vlogmas. Since it wouldn’t be Christmas without peppermint hot chocolate, I’ll make myself a cup of that, and maybe even top it off with some peppermint whipped cream if I’m feeling extra special.  And of course I’d make sure it’s in a cute Christmas mug.

After I take off the second mask I’ll go in with the rest of my evening skincare routine. During the winter I use heavier moisturizers, especially in the evening. I start with the Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizing lotion and go over that with the Tarte Maracuja Oil. If my skin is super dry, it usually soaks that all up within a few minutes, so in cases like that I’ll go in with another layer of the oil. I personally am not a huge fan of sleep masks, but I do love the Ahava Sleep Cream for an overnight facial. Another thing I’ve started using lately are under-eye masks because let’s be honest life can be super stressful and cause bags and circles under your eyes (I’ve started getting them and I feel like a Grandma now). But they honestly just feel so good and refreshing too.

Now that I’m feeling all clean and relaxed I’ll usually end the night in cuddled up in bed finishing off a Christmas movie or watching more vlogmas. I love spending nights out with friends, but sometimes a quiet night in taking care of yourself is just what you need (and trust me, everyone needs this once in a while).

Happy pampering! xx