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iKON 2018 CONTINUE TOUR IN SEOUL (Korea Version)

8.30.2018

My First 'Official' Althea Haul!

K-Beauty shopping website Althea was launched at the time when I was already going back and forth to Korea and enjoying the perks of my multiple entry Korean visa. I would shop for Korean cosmetics at actual stores in Myeongdong, Hongdae, or Sinsadong, buying stocks enough to last until my next trip.

I didn't fully appreciate Althea - or any other K-Beauty shopping website for that matter - until I became part of their Beauty Ambassador Community, fondly known as Althea Angels. As an Althea Angel, I got to rediscover my love for online shopping and the convenience of buying everything that I need with just my credit card and a click of a button. Even more so, I was also impressed by Althea's wide range of products, competitive pricing (they're cheaper than most shopping websites), fast delivery (my package arrived six days after I placed my order) and impeccable customer service.

Now one of the perks of being an Althea Angel is getting reward points on certain occasions. We received reward points as part of our Welcome Gift, which I then used to pay for my order. Althea members also receive reward points with their first purchase, and can earn more points through promotional activities at Althea's social media sites.

That being said, here's a sneak peek of my first 'official' haul from Althea. :)
My first 'official' Althea haul!
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence.
"An essence that uses a more stabilized form of Vitamin C, along with green tea seed oil, spider silk protein and sea buckthorn extract to promote hydration, strengthen skin and provide soothing benefits. Regular use of the essence fades blemishes and dark spots, resulting in a refined, more flawless complexion."
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence, Php 730.
I've recently begun incorporating Vitamin C in my skincare routine, and I thought this essence was a great way to start. All the great feedback that I have read about this product convinced me to give it a try, and I'm thrilled to see what this essence can do for my skin!

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask.
"A sebum-controlling color clay mask with different colors and functions. Contains Jeju volcanic cluster to cleanse pores; combats different skin concerns; easily incorporated by multi-masking."
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask (Brightening), Php 350.
One of the first few skincare products that got me into this K-Beauty bandwagon was Innisfree's Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask.  Since then, clay masks have become part and parcel of my skincare routine, and after emptying another jar of the Pore Clay Mask, I thought of switching to the colored version this time around. My penchant for vitamin C-infused products made me choose the Yellow variant. It's formulated with Vitamin C to brighten the skin and make it more radiant.

Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack.
"This hair pack contains Argan Oil which provides excellent features such as moisturizing, repairing, nourishing, and gives the outer texture a silky feel. It targets dry and damaged hair that has gone through multiple perms, hair coloring, harsh dryers, and constant exposure to the sun. Effective for split end and brittle hair."
Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack, Php 300.
Now this is one of my favorite hair care products of all time. This hair pack helped my then-blonde tresses survive the harsh Korean winter, and prevented it from becoming dry, dull, and brittle. I've been using this product on a weekly basis since I discovered it in 2015, making sure I always have a tub or two (sometimes three) at home. 

Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick.
"Pocket-sized glide-on stick made with plant-based oils to protect and nourish the skin, specifically the area around the eyes. 
Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick, Php 190.
A relatively new product on the Althea website, the Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick promises 'nutrition, vitality, and elasticity' for dry and dull skin. You know I'm obsessed with anything that can make my dark and often tired-looking under-eyes less prominent, so I added this product to cart. For Php 190, I thought this was worth trying. I just hope this product works!  

Unpa Bubi Bubi Lip Scrub.
"Flaky lips no more thanks to this innovative lip scrub from Korean brand, Unpa.
Natural lip scrub made with natural AHAs, papaya extract and grapefruit extracts to scrub away dead skin cells and leave lips so soft. Once applied, gel bubbles up into an exfoliator and dissolves away dry skin."
Bubi Bubi Lip, Php 470.
This bubble-forming lip scrub piqued my curiosity after I saw a demo video of it on one of Althea's social media sites a few months back. Althea had some sort of promotional offer last week, and this lip scrub was among the products that you can receive for free (the other two were a set of sheet masks and a hair bleaching set) with any purchase that you make on the Althea website. Me so lucky!

Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set.
"Althea's Real Fresh Skin Detoxer is a 10-second, 2-in-1 cleanser pack that showcases real, fresh ingredients and incorporates them into a system that allows a deep, clarifying cleanse while boosting the skin with nutrients and goodness. This product leaves the skin feeling fresh and looking smooth for a healthy, happy complexion!"
Althea Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set, Php 990 (introductory price).
With my recommendation and tons of positive reviews on the Althea website, my friend decided to give these cleanser packs a try. This set is hers actually, and I hope she enjoys both products as much as I do. You can read my review of the Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set here.

I'll be doing a review of the other products soon! Stay tuned! :)

8.29.2018

10 Easy Ways To Make Your House Look Expensive.

A house can speak volumes about its owners. Sometimes, however, your house may not always say what you want it to. Sometimes a house can look cheap or dowdy, but there is hope. There are simple and easy adjustments you can do to make your house look expensive without breaking the budget.
Photo credit: Designer Innovations.
Decide on a theme… and stick to it
his may sound easier than it is. Themes can be in the form of colors or concepts. You don’t have to match the finishes, so much as coordinate them. Try to go darker or lighter to create a contrast that will pop. Too much matching can appear like you’re trying too hard.

Simple, yet stylish
Simple doesn’t always mean plain. Sometimes, the classic looks with simple finishes can look better; ornate can translate to cluttered or overwhelming. If you keep a simple backdrop, statement pieces will jump out more and highlight areas where you want people to look.

Accent rugs
Hardwood floors are extremely popular, but they can be a bit overwhelming, especially when they’re dark wood. Breaking up the brown with accent rugs can create a statement and give a much-needed pop of color.
Photo credit: Tengkuadam.
Art
Whether it is your kid’s art from school or a famous art piece, artwork can create conversations on your walls that also lend to themes. The key is ensuring the artwork is the right size. If it is too big it may make your walls look small and close the room off, but if it is too small it may look out of place - like Alice in Wonderland.

Crown molding
Crown molding can give a finished look to any room by creating an artistic connection between the ceiling and the walls.

Get the right lighting
Lighting is everything. Lighting can make a small room appear bigger and, while natural light is great, light fixtures can be wonderful alternatives.
Photo credit: Remodelista.
Make more space with mirrors
Lighting is not the only thing that can make a room appear larger. Mirrors can reflect the room back and create the illusion of a much larger area.

Keep it organized
Life can get in the way and being organized can be difficult. If you have too much stuff and don’t want to get rid of it, search public storage near me to find a place to store some of your excess pieces safely. This will free up room in your house to keep it clutter free and make the house look larger than it really is.

Fix the small stuff
They say don’t sweat the small stuff, but in this case you should. Little everyday things used will break or get loose. When they aren’t repaired it seems as though the house is run down. So get a screwdriver and tighten that doorknob. It’ll appear brand new.

Fresh flowers
Fresh flowers and plants cost very little and are a sure-fire way to dress up your space. They can draw out or highlight color schemes and make a home more inviting. Plus, it always helps to have a lovely real scent permeating your house.
Photo credit: Darling Be Daring.
Your humble abode can look much more expensive with simple and inexpensive solutions. You don’t have to do all of them, but try one and see if you get any compliments.


8.26.2018

Seoul Searching | Laneige Flagship Store at Ewha Fashion Street.

Laneige opened their newest - and perhaps their prettiest - flagship store in Seoul a few months back, and Yue and I had the chance to visit it while we were in Korea. Located along the Ewha Womans University Fashion Street, one of the most popular shopping areas in Seoul, the new store is a massive three-storey building which boasts of modern architecture, trendy aesthetics, and an enhanced consumer experience.
Facade of the new Laneige flagship store.
The store from a different angle.
Designed with pink and blue hues, the first floor showcases the brand's various lines of makeup and skincare products, allowing customers to try and test them freely before making any purchase.
Inside the Laneige flagship store.
If you don't like the idea of using testers, you can try the Laneige Beauty Mirror, a fun and interactive app that virtually applies makeup on your face. With the Beauty Mirror, you can see how different Laneige products look on you and allows you to download the list of items that you used in the app.
Trying on the new Laneige Stained Glasstick. I'm wearing Shade #7 Pink Tourmaline.
There's also a special section of this store dedicated to the brand's line of sleeping masks. From the cult-favorite Water Sleeping Mask to the relatively new Water Bank Quick Hydro Pen, you'll find them all on display in this dreamy, psychedelic little corner.
The 'Beauty Sleep' corner featuring my favorite Laneige Water Bank Sleeping Mask.
If chemistry is your thing, you're in for a treat as this store lets you create and personalize your own Lip Sleeping Mask. It was a fun experience, and my inner nerd was thrilled to see hotplates and beakers and all that chemistry-related stuff. It's like junior high all over again!
Yue trying to read the captions before we start.
They're written in Hangul, but the staff explained to us what to do. 
Yue enjoyed this 'experiment' (as he calls it) a lot more than I did, even if he was just looking on and was not allowed to touch anything.
Step 1. Choose your scent.
Step 2 involves mixing the base and the scent and heating them up in this plate.
The base and the scent, plus all the tools you need to make your own lip sleeping mask.
Packing the finished product in the signature frosted jar. :)
The final step is designing the jar with a label/sticker of your choice.
The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, customized to your liking.
We also got a glimpse of the 'Study Room' at the third floor. It's a fun, experiential space where you can get hang out with your friends, perhaps enjoy some alone time with a cup of coffee and a good book, or get a one-on-one consultation with Laneige's beauty experts. This area also serves as a venue for Laneige's special events such as product launches, makeup tutorials, and beauty classes.
The 'Beauty Playground'.
We could have stayed longer and enjoyed some afternoon tea with other VIP members, but we were a little pressed for time since we were trying to catch BTS on their way to their fan meeting at Digital Media City. Next time, I'll try to sign-up for their K-beauty class, similar to the one they offer at the road shop and flagship store in Myeongdong.

To get to the Laneige Ewha Flagship Store, take exit 2 or 3 of the Ewha Womans University Station (Line 2). The store is just a few meters away from the exit.

8.22.2018

Five Ways to Stay Safe When Meeting People Online.

A decade ago, many people viewed online dating as a niche activity that would never become mainstream. Fast forward to today and most people would admit they have engaged in one or more romantic encounters that originated on a dating website or app.

While technology makes it easier for people with similar interests in the same area to meet in person, it also brings risks. Meeting people online and then seeing them in person can be dangerous, as it is easier to mask one’s true identity and intentions online.

Here are five ways that everyone can stay safe when they are meeting people online.

1. Reveal Information Carefully
Living our lives online can sometimes blur the lines of privacy. But it is important to maintain a private life, especially in the world of online dating. Revealing everything about yourself right away is a bad idea, as that information can be exploited later. Here are a few tips on protecting privacy while online dating.

2. Meet in Public Areas
The biggest risk one can take is to meet an individual for the first time at a private location. Say someone invites you to a party at their house or a friend’s house. You have no idea whether such a party even exists. Perhaps they just want to get you alone.

It is best to meet people for the first time in public places, such as restaurants, coffee shops and parks. To play it safe, do not meet in a private location until at least a few weeks of comfortable, in person interactions with the individual.

3. Tell Friends and Family
When meeting someone you met online, especially for the first time, keeping family members in the loop can be a life saver. It is always scary when meeting people online, especially a stranger. If your best friends and family members know where you are, they are in a position to react if anything goes wrong. And there are now apps that can be used to show your location to family and friends. If they know where you were going, but see your phone is at another location, they can immediately call you or go out to see if you are okay.

4. Do Not Accept Expensive Gifts Easily
It is charming and romantic when someone gives us an expensive gift. Or so it seems. Expensive gifts that arrive so early in a relationship can be seen as a sign of control, with one party trying to assert dominance over the other.

By paying one’s own way during the first few encounters in an online relationship and not accepting such gifts right away, it maintains a sense of autonomy in a relationship.

5. Trust Your Gut
The above tips are very helpful, as they can protect people from overexposure to bad situations. But sometimes we have to rely on instinct. The gut feeling that you get when you meet someone for the first time can be very revealing. Or perhaps you have a bad feeling after an email or text exchange.

Relationships can make us doubt ourselves. Meeting people online adds even more doubt. But everyone must think of their safety before anything else. By following the above five tips, you can pursue online dating while keeping yourself safe.


8.21.2018

Foodie Goodie | Ginataang Bilo-Bilo (Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk).

Whenever my Mom Squad (aka my mommy friends at my son's school) and I are not busy doing house chores or working on our kids' academic requirements, we're either shopping at the nearest mall or eating at some restaurant or coffee shop. And since we love to eat, we also love to cook!

Yesterday, while waiting for the kids' afternoon classes to finish, we made Ginataang Bilo-bilo (otherwise known as Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk), because we've been craving for it for the longest time. Sure, we could have just saved by time and effort by buying cooked bilo-bilo at the food stalls in the public market, but that takes the fun out of rolling your own rice balls! It's a fun activity, apparently, especially when you're doing it with friends. It's like being a kid and playing with Play-Doh all over again, haha!
Ginataang Bilo-bilo

Ingredients:
2 cups glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons rice flour
3/4 cup warm water
6 cups coconut milk (gata)
1 cup sugar
1 cup ripe jackfruit (langka), shredded
3 cups sweet potato (kamote), cubed
1 cup taro root (gabi), cubed
1 1/2 cup plantain (saba), sliced
2 cups mini tapioca (sago), cooked
1 1/2 cup coconut cream
1 pandan leaf (optional)

Procedure:
1. Make the glutinous rice balls: Combine glutinous rice flour and rice flour. Add warm water and knead to form a dough. Take ½ tablespoon dough and roll in your palms to form a ball. Place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Set aside.
Bilo-bilo (sticky rice balls).
2. Boil 3 cups water, coconut milk, sugar, pandan leaf, and jackfruit in a pot over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Jackfruit (langka).
3. Add sweet potatoes, taro, purple yam, and saba. Simmer until tender. Add glutinous rice balls and tapioca pearls. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
Sweet potatoes (kamote) and taro root (gabi).
Plantain (saba).
4. Add coconut cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.
Project Bilo-bilo is complete!
This snack is actually quite versatile as you can also serve it cold, straight from the fridge. :)

8.20.2018

Seoul Searching | Art, Architecture, and All Things Hallyu at Digital Media City.

If you're a KDrama fan who enjoys visiting filming locations, or a KPop fan who wants to take part in music programs and take a chance at seeing your favorite KPop group perform live, then it is imperative that you include Digital Media City in your Seoul itinerary.

Located in Sangam-dong in the district of Mapo, Digital Media City is an industrial cluster of world-class digital media and entertainment companies. This area was constructed in 2006 across 140 acres of land, with aims of becoming the new epicenter for Korean wave (otherwise known as Hallyu) content and production.

On our most recent trip to Seoul, Yue and I got to experience Hallyu on a totally different level as we explored Digital Media City - its vicinity, the buildings located in the area, and the ultra-modern sculptures for which this place is also known for.
'Square M-Communication', sculpture by Young Ho Yoo.
Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum in Kill Me, Heal Me.
Case in point, the Square M-Communication - a gigantic sculpture smack dab in the middle of DMC's Sangam Cultural Square. An artwork that represents the symbolic meeting of people through the use of media, this sculpture made a special appearance in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. This landmark was also seen in Korean dramas such as I'm Not a Robot, Pinocchio,  and Kill Me, Heal Me - one of my favorite Kdramas of all time.
'They', sculpture by Lee Jin Joon.
Yoon Shi Yoon in The Best Hit.
More of Digital Media City after the jump!

8.10.2018

Miniso Opens in SM San Pablo!

After months of eager anticipation, an unexpected change in schedule, and a few more weeks of waiting... Miniso SM San Pablo is finally open!
The first lady of San Pablo City, as well as Miniso VIPs, gracing this momentous occasion.
The Japanese fast fashion brand, which has gained global popularity for its wide range of household and consumer goods, has found a new home in SM San Pablo. And together with my friends, we trooped to the mall today to witness the opening ceremonies, and of course, do a bit of shopping.
We Bare Bears at Miniso!
Attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies isn't exactly my style, but I was willing to make an exception for Miniso. I've developed quite an interest for the brand after its breakthrough appearance in the hit 2016 Korean drama Goblin, where the lead characters Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak were seen shopping at the Miniso store in Lotte World Mall. But what solidified me as a huge Miniso fan was their collaboration collection with one of our favorite animated shows, We Bare Bears
We Bare Bears plushies, Php 399 each.
These adorable bears were the main reason why I wanted to be at Miniso today as soon as the store opened. I wanted to get my hand on these plushies as early as possible, because from what I've heard, these items sell like hotcakes! True enough, almost everyone headed straight for the bear stack as soon as the ribbon was cut and the store was declared officially open.

Here are some of the We Bare Bears items that you can find at Miniso SM Pablo.
We Bare Bears water bottles, Php 179.

We Bare Bears neck pillow, Php 229.
We Bare Bears facial tissues, Php 149 per pack.
We Bare Bears tote bag, Php 229.
We Bare Bears steam mask, Php 179 per box.
Aside from these three adorable bears, Miniso also has Pink Panther and Moomin products, all licensed by MGM and Moomin Characters Ltd., respectively.
Pink Panther plushies, Php 299 - Php 499.
Pink Panther key ring, Php 179.
Moomin hand mirror, Php 179. 
Pink Panther notebooks, Php 179.
Pink Panther makeup palette, 299.
Moomin power bank, Php 799 - Php 999.
Other interesting finds at Miniso include these makeup brushes, perfumes and body mists, makeup, and toys. They also have arts and crafts supplies, computer peripherals, and even kitchen tools! 
Beauty brushes starting at Php 179.
Perfumes and body mists starting at Php 99.
Makeup items starting at Php 99.
Toys starting at Php 149.
If one-stop shopping and affordable prices are your thing, then swing by Miniso this weekend and check out their wide array of products. Their San Pablo branch, which happens to be their first in Laguna and the 59th store in the country, is located at the second floor of SM San Pablo right across Kidzoona.

And before I end this post, allow me to share with you my Miniso haul. I got all three bears, yay!
My Miniso haul!
We Bare Bears plushies (Php 399 each), We Bare Bears Children's Towel (Php 179, pack of two),
We Bare Bears Steam Eye Mask (Php 179 pack of five), Pink Panther Makeup Palette (Php 299),
Screen Cleaning Kit (Php 99),
TOTAL: Php 1953.