Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beauty Blogs' Backstage - Interview with Mika-chan from Aijuswhanakno

It's time for Beauty Blogs' Backstage again! This month, I was paired with Mika-chan (Dominique) from Aijuswhanakno. Mika-chan's blog features a ton of fabulous bright looks with such creative color combinations!  This is also the first time I've been paired with a beauty blogger that I'm already friends with.  It was a fabulous chance to ask the questions that I've always been meaning to ask! 

1. Many of us have been following your move from Okinawa back to the US.  Have you experienced any reverse culture shocks? (K's note: to read about Mika-chan's move from Okinawa, Japan back to the US, see here)
Oh my goodness, yes!  I still have a hard time finding food to eat, because I want Japanese.  People here are so rude, too :(  There are good things about being in California (like my better job), but I definitely miss being in Okinawa.

2. Could you tell us the backstory behind your blog name "Aijuswhanakno" and "Mika-chan" (and especially the kanji)?

"Aijuswhanakno" is simple to explain.   It has been my online screen name for a while now.  Years ago I stole inspiration from Musiq Soulchild, and his album "aijuswanaseing" (I just wanna sing."  I am very inquisitive by nature.  I just wanna know = aijuswhanakno :)   
"Mika Chan" was actually coined by my Okinawan/Japanese friends.  "Chan" is just a very familiar term for friends, and is often added after the name of the person you are speaking too.  When I met my first few Okinawan friends, they would struggle to say my actual name (Dominique).  To make it easier, I told them they could just call me "Mika" or "Miki", which various people have used as a nick name.  That took off well, and anyone in Okinawa knows me as Mika Chan.  The kanji came from a dear friend of mine, (and the first one I made in Oki).  The kanji for "mi" (美) is actually the same as the "mi" in her own name, so we share that.  It means "beautiful".  The kanji for "ka" (華)looked best with "mi", and made sense to us.  To my kanji is "beautiful flower" :)

(K's note: the name Mika-chan, as well as the kanji used, are perfectly legit Japanese female's names. Dominique and her friend have good taste!)

3. I love how you embrace trying out bright, bold colors.  Is thereany eyeshadow color which you think more people should try, either a brand or a general color?

I think people should try the colors that they are afraid of!! More often than not the colors end up looking amazing on them when applied correctly.  I'm just sick of people thinking everyone should wear nudes, lol

4. I noticed that your profile pic has you with straight hair, but you also post pics with curly hair.  What do you like best about straight hair looks and about curly looks?

I think that when I have straight hair, my facial features are more clear and less muddy.  Does that make sense?  However , I LOVE my curly hair :) 

5. This is a question someone else on B3 asked me: What is your definition of beauty?

I think that beauty is just being comfortable and confident with yourself.  Embracing your natural curves, enhancing your sexiness, being YOU.  I don't believe much in following our society's standards.  And sexy is NOT being forcibly waif-thin.

6. What is your go-to non-alcoholic drink?

Energy drinks and coffee!!   I cannot survive w/o caffeine, lol.

7. I also moved recently.  Is there anything you miss about Okinawa?  What is the best part about going back?

Omg everything!!!  The people, the food, the environment, weather, resources available, everything!  I miss every single last little bit.  I cannot wait to get a chance to go back, but I know now that my son is getting everything that he needs.  That is what matters the most.

Thank you for answering my questions, Mika-chan! It was such a pleasure interviewing her - you can see how much effort she put in answering my questions!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Lush Bon Bon Lip Scrub

This is a review for the Lush Bon Bon Lip Scrub.  This was a limited edition product from the holidays (yes, I shouldn't post reviews so late...) and may no longer be available.
This product is fairly thick, as you can see below.

What it does: contains white icing sugar (powdered sugar in the US), sugar, almond oil, cranberry seed oil, lemon oil, and citric acid, to exfoliate and moisturize lips.

Price: $8.95 or 4.95 GBP

Scent: This smells very strongly of sweet lemons - like how lemons infused in sugar smell.  It does not smell like household cleanser.  I like this scent a lot!

- Did a good job in exfoliating my lips
- Completely edible, which is a great thing on your lips. It tastes good, too!

- Not very hydrating.  I definitely needed a lip balm afterwards.
- You could make a similar product by yourself by mixing sugar and oil

Would I repurchase?  I'm not sure.  While this was a great product, and I really need to exfoliate my lips regularly, I'm not sure if I can justify the $9 for a product I could make myself!

Hope you enjoyed my review!

xoxo, K

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weight Loss: Getting back on the bandwagon

It's been a month since my last weight loss post.  It's been a tough month.  I sprained my ankle, and it has been hard to get back to exercising since then.

I've basically not lost any weight since the beginning of my journey. I've been telling myself that it's about changing my habits to be healthier, and not about losing weight quickly. I've been eating better and working out more.  I still need to work on my portions.

I've started running again.  It's tough.  I was on Week 5 of the Couch to 5k before my injury. I moved back to Week 4, but it's still really, really tough.  After my first run, I threw up!  I'll stay on Week 4 for another week or so.

No weigh in this week.  I know my weight has gone up.  I want to make sure my habits are back in place before I weigh myself, or I'm afraid I'm going to give up!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekly Reads #18: June 15, 2011

You may remember that I sprained my ankle a week or so ago.  It's getting much better, but I am very sensitive to heels.  Some of my heels have worn down slightly and are not even.  Previously, I didn't even notice this, but now I don't want to wear them for fear of another sprain!  I REALLY want my ankle to heal so I can go running again!

Hope your week is going well!

xoxo, K

Monday, June 13, 2011

Skin Care - Splurge vs Save

A sweet reader kindly requested a post to share my thoughts on what skin care products you should spend money on, and which ones you should save on.

The more I thought of it, the more I realized that it really depends on what your values are.  There are so many good, affordable products on the market, many which contain very effective ingredients.

In the end, it depends on which type of product you will use correctly.  If the product is too expensive, I will be more likely to skimp on it.  For example, I could buy a $200 serum, but if I don't use the correct amount, it will not work.

Having said that, I do have a personal guideline: If the product costs more than $50, I need to see results before I use up the product.  I find it hard to be convinced to repurchase a product if I can't see the results.

Here are my favorite low end and high end skin care products.

(in Asia, toners are used to hydrate the skin.  Most of them do not contain alcohol.  They are also referred to as lotions)

I go through a bottle of toner every 2 weeks, because I use it as a face mask every morning and night.  Buy what you can afford to use, and use generously!

Low end:  Rohto Hada Labo series (the retail price is around 1000 yen, but I regularly find them at my local drugstore for around 700 yen. Imomoko sells them for $17.50)
This is my favorite toner because it's cheap and it hydrates well!

High end: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($100 for 75ml/2.5 oz, buy here)
Yes, this a super expensive toner.  I love how it makes my skin feel after I've used it for 2-3 days, but it is too expensive for me to use regularly.

Facial Moisturizer
- Fair & Lovely Skin Clarity Anti-Marks Fairness Cream (Amazon sells them for $10, some Indian online shops sell them for less)

This was in my favorites for (gasp) 2009! I still love it.  It is light but leaves my skin moisturized, and contains whitening ingredients.

I don't have a high end favorite, unfortunately!

- RoC Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum (Walmart says they are $25, Amazon has them for $9)

This totally depends on what you want your serum to do.  I want either to get rid of fine lines, or to get rid of discoloration.  I haven't found anything that really works for discoloration, though.

Again, no high end favorite.  This is typically the most expensive in any line of products.

Sheet Masks
Low End: Silk Whitia ($16.60/5 pieces on Sasa)
I feel that Silk Whitia has the best products for the price.  My Beauty Diary masks are $12.70/10 pieces, so Silk Whitia is twice the price. Still, I find that they are much more hydrating and they leave my skin smooth.  I need to stock up next time I go to Hong Kong!

High End: SK-II Whitening Source Derm Revival Mask ($160/10 pieces online)
This did AMAZING things for my skin.  I can buy a single piece for around $20 in Hong Kong, but it's still too expensive for me!

Low End: Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel and Lush Mask of Magnaminty

Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel (7.15 GBP at Boots)
I've written a blog post about this product, and I really did love it.  It left my skin very smooth, thanks to the salicylic acid.

Lush Mask of Magnaminty ($11.95/4.4oz on
This mask contains adzuki beans to exofoliate your skin, unlike the Soap & Glory mask which chemically exfoliates.  I've written a blog post about this product as well.

High end: Cellnique Advanced Bio Renewal Masque ($51 on
I've reviewed this product before as well. This product also chemically exfoliates.  It leaves my skin feeling very soft and smooth. 

Low end:Biore Sarasara UV daily care gel (750 yen in Japan, $15.50 on Amazon)
This is the VERY FIRST review I ever wrote, in March of 2009! I still love this product.  It gives me the sun protection I need and is very light on my skin.

High end: Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen SPF 50+ (3150 yen in Japan, around $50 online)
Anessa is a brand of sun protection from Shiseido.  This is the best sunscreen in Japan, hands down.  I do not get any kind of tanning with this sunscreen.  It stays on even when I go diving.  However, it is expensive, and I have to keep reminding myself to use the correct amount.  Did you know that you need to use an entire shot glass worth (1 oz, 30 ml, or 2 tablespoons worth) for the amount of skin that is normally exposed? 
Anessa has several products, so I always remember this as "the gold one".
 I hope you enjoyed my picks!  Remember, skin care does not work if you do not use it correctly!!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekly Reads #17: June 8, 2011

I tweeted that I badly sprained my ankle this weekend while running.  I've stopped running for a while, at least until the swelling goes down.  I can't even walk right now!

On to my weekly reads!

Hope your week is going well!

xoxo, K

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Up and Down #15 / A Piece of Me... in June 2011

June 6 is Dragon Boat Festival Day in China and many other Asian countries.  It's a day to eat Zongzi (rice wrapped in bamboo leaves with yummy things inside).  It is also the start of the summer, similar to Memorial Day in the US, even though school isn't quite out yet over here.

Anyway, I'll take any excuse to eat yummy things. (images via google search)

The sweet ones, filled with bean paste, seem to be more popular where I am.

I prefer the savory ones with pork (although this picture links to a NYC food truck...)

On to my Ups and Downs!

- Sonia Kashuk Brush Couture Flat Top Multipurpose Blush/Powder Brush
This brush was a gift from Kathy of Mai-Kat Oshaberi.  It gives me an airbrushed finish without the hassle of a conventional stippling brush.  A full review is coming up!

- Sonia Kashuk Blusher Brush 
This brush is also a gift from Kathy.  I like it better than my MAC blusher brush, and it's less than half the price!

- Wet 'n Wild Mega Glow Illuminating Powder in Strike-A-Pose Rose
This was a gift from Diana. It's a lovely shimmery rose blush, and it makes me look like I've been on vacation! (stock photo)

- Cooking new dishes.  I love Chinese steamed fish.  The plus side: this was SUPER easy!

- Couch to 5k!  I seriously need new shoes.  I'm using really old sneakers because I didn't think I would be able to continue running for several weeks.  Has anyone tried Nike Frees?

- 30+ degree weather.  That's 85+ deg F.  I get up at 6:30 AM on weekends so that I can run before it gets too hot!

- Getting sick easily.  This is getting to be a pain.  If I don't eat well for 1 week, I immediately get sick!  And when I get sick, my weight loss plan goes on hiatus until I get better!

- Having SUPER SLOW internet.  This is why I haven't been posting/replying to comments/tweeting as much as I want to!

It's time for A Piece of Me in June 2011.
This month...

I like: having a blogger meet up next week!!!!!

I don't like: not being able to stay healthy.  Again.
I want you to know: that I've been purging my blog roll.  If I've deleted you but you want to stay on, please let me know!

I've planned: not anything, really! What do you have planned?

xoxo, K

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weekly Reads #16: June 1, 2011

xoxo, K


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