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Spotlight | Nature Republic Nail Polish Remover.

If there's one thing I've learned from riding the Seoul subway, it's that there's a Nature Republic store at almost every station. If you're following me on Instagram or on my Facebook page, you know I have been to quite a handful of tourist spots and shopping districts here in Seoul.
At the Nature Republic branch at Ttukseom Station.
All those places I have traveled to via subway, and I kid you not, Nature Republic is probably the only Korean cosmetics brand with a shop in every station I've been to. I wander through some of the stores from time to time, just to check if they have new items on sale. A few weeks back I bought this bottle of Nail Polish Remover, because my manicure was already in a sorry state.
Nature Republic Nail (Polish) Remover.
Back home, I wouldn't bother removing my nail polish as my friendly neighborhood manicurista would do the honors of taking them off for me. But alas, here in Seoul, manicures and pedicures do not come cheap! Imagine shelling out 25000 Korean won for a basic manicure?! That's almost a thousand pesos when converted - enough to get me a full body massage, footspa, manicure, and pedicure in the Philippines!
Mostly Hangul text at the back of the bottle.
So for the meantime, I had to make do with just bare nails. Don't tell me to do my own nails, because I can't even use a nipper properly for the life of me. Haha!
My manicure was in this state about a week after we arrived in Seoul.
I bought this Nail Polish Remover for 2000 won (around $2 or Php 80 when converted). There was another variant on display called Extreme Nail (Polish) Remover, which was more expensive by a thousand won. I went for the cheaper one, since my nail polish isn't one of those hard-to-remove, glittery kind.
The nail polish remover, uncapped.
This Nail Polish Remover comes with a child-proof cap - the kind that you have to push down then turn counter-clockwise to open. It also has this sort-of plastic stopper on the cap so that it covers the hole on the bottle and seals it tightly to prevent vaporization.
Just a decent amount of nail polish remover on a cotton ball will do.
To use, simply out a decent amount of the substance on a cotton ball. No need to soak it! Let it sit on top your nails for a bit, then the nail polish will come off. None of the violent rubbing that you need to do when using 10-peso nail polish removers bought from sari-sari stores, lol.
I love how this product removes nail polish effortlessly, without making the nails dry and yellowish. None of the chemical scent either, as this product smells like green tea. Yes, the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea kind. :)

Have you tried this nail polish remover before? What's your usual brand of nail polish remover? :)


Pucker Up! | Beyond Rich Color Tint Balm.

I must confess - I have a growing affinity for Beyond Cosmetics, especially their makeup line. I actually hoarded a few items from their recently launched Alice in Blooming collection after falling in love with its predecessor, the Alice in Glow collection.

But before I show you all the stuff that I bought whilst here in Korea, let me introduce to you first to Beyond's Rich Color Tint Balm - my favorite lip product as of late.
Beyond Rich Color Tint Balm.
I actually bought this on a whim last December, because they were on a 1+1 Sale the very first time I went to Myeongdong. Here in Korea, they call 'Buy One Take One' sale events as '1+1'. So I bought this shade, #10 Tok Wine, and gave the other one to my mother-in-law.
Shade #10.
Beyond's Rich Color Tint Balm actually functions two ways - as a lip tint, with its rich and vivid color; and as a lip balm, since it moisturizes the lips and makes it soft and healthy-looking.
Hangul text at the back of the box.
Beyond Cosmetics' products are paraben-free and cruelty-free.
There are different ten shades in the Rich Color Tint Balm collection. Had I known beforehand how wonderful this product is, I would have bought the other colors as well.
#10 Tok Wine up close.
#10 Tok Wine is a lovely shade of plum. The color can be a bit intimidating, as it does look dark at first glance. Actually, that's the reason why I bought this shade in the first place. I was leaning towards deep purple/plum/burgundy lip colors last winter.
And closer.
However, this shade doesn't look too dark or intimidating when swatched or applied on the lips. From the swatches below, you'll see that it's more pink than plum. But I like it nonetheless. :)
One swipe on the right, two swipes on the left.
Oh, and can you see how pigmented this stuff is for a lip balm? It's even more pigmented than some of the lipstick brands that I have tried over the years! I love its texture, too - creamy and buttery, with a sheer but buildable finish.
One swipe on my lips.
Wear time is pretty impressive too, considering it's (just) a lip balm. This shade in particular remains intact for at least 3 or 4 hours before it starts to fade away into a natural-looking, pinkish stain on the lips.

My only gripe? Swiping the lip balm on the corners of my mouth can be a challenge because of its rounded shape. Other than that, I'm all too happy with this impulse buy. Haha!

What I love:
- For a lip balm, it's highly pigmented.
- Keeps the lips soft and hydrated.
- Lots of colors to choose from.
- Decent wear time, and leaves the lips
with a lovely stain as the color fades.
- Subtle, fruity scent.
- Affordable price (retails for 9500 Korean won each.
I actually got two lip balms for that price because of the 1+1 promo).

What you might not like:
- Getting the color on the corners of your mouth can be pretty tricky.
- Not available locally.
Products Used:
FACE: Innisfree No Sebum Blur Pact,
Laneige Snow BB Cream,
Benefit Erase Paste in Medium,
Peripera Snow White Pride Up Pact.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Pen Liner,
Tony Moly Simply Style Slim Curling Mascara.
CHEEKS: Tony Moly Cristal Blusher in Pleasure Peach.
LIPS: Beyond Rich Color Tint Balm in #10 Tok Wine.


Foodie Goodie | Porchetta Restaurant.

Save for the occasional take-outs at the nearby McDonald's or at the pizza and chicken joint two blocks away from home, we hardly eat at restaurants here in Korea for two reasons: 1) my son can't handle the spiciness of traditional Korean food, and 2) we cook at home, and it's cheaper that way. Plus, my husband's cooking is the bomb!

On Mother's Day, however, we decided not to scrimp because what the heck - it's a special day, and it's the first time in six years that I'm celebrating my 'motherhood' with both my son and my husband. And so after our tour of the COEX Aquarium, the boys and I went searching for a nice restaurant that's neither a fast food chain or a pizza joint. We were literally all over the place, as COEX is a pretty huge mall, and the restaurants are not lined up in one floor like they do in Philippine malls.
We somehow ended up at Porchetta, because Yue saw something very tempting called 'Chicken Finger Fries' on their menu.
The counter, where you place your order and pay for your bill.
Named after that fatty, savory, and boneless pork roasted in the traditional Italian way, Porchetta is a casual dining fusion restaurant famous for their ciabatta sandwiches.
Sandwiches on their menu.
They also serve pasta and steak - which we ordered, soups and salads, dessert, and even alcoholic beverages.
Yep, they serve beer. And wine, too.
We were able to get a table right away, as there were quite a few empty seats when we arrived. Halfway through our meal, I noticed that the restaurant was already quite packed.
Diners at Porchetta.
Here's what we had for dinner at Porchetta.
Chicken Finger Fries.
Chicken Finger Fries.
Chicken Finger Fries, 11200 won. The three of us enjoyed this dish a lot. The fries were crunchy and flavorful, and were neither overcooked nor soaking in oil. Same goes for the chicken - crunchy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. Considering that this dish is good for sharing for up to four people, paying more than a man won isn't so bad.
Bacon Carbonara.
Bacon Carbonara, 15900 won. My son is a huge fan of white sauce pasta, and he loved this carbonara a lot even if the sauce, according to him 'looks more yellow than white'. This dish didn't scrimp on bacon, as it came garnished with generous portions of meat.
Porchetta Pan Steak and Risotto.
Porchetta Pan Steak and Risotto, 18400 won. Husband and I ordered a serving each of this dish, and boy, was I surprised to see not just one, but two thick slabs of porchetta on the hot plate. Aside from the risotto, which lies at the bottom of the plate, this dish also comes with cherry tomatoes, potato wedges, and greens on the side.
Porchetta Pan Steak and Risotto.
I love that the meat was cooked and flavored to perfection, but eating two slabs of it was just way too much for me. I only ate one, and gave the other piece to my husband, whose appetite was heartier than the usual that day. Maybe because we're eating as a family, which only happens when we're in Korea. :)
Mother's Day dinner at Porchetta.
Many thanks to the friendly waitstaff of Porchetta for taking this photo! They understand and speak English, so no need to worry about the language barrier. Oh, and if you ask for it, they'll give you their wifi password, because the free wifi at COEX Mall is a bit weak in this area.  :)

159, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, COEX Mall I103
+82 2 551 8808


Seoul Searching | COEX Aquarium.

On our second Sunday in Seoul, the boys and I visited COEX Aquarium, which is just a few subway stations away from where we live. 'Twas a perfect day to go to a family-friendly attraction as that Sunday coincided with Mother's Day and Parents' Day here in Korea.
Welcome to COEX Aquarium!
Beware of Jaws!
Shark teeth on display at the entrance.
Shark art! :)
Let's go on a Water Journey! More of COEX Aquarium after the jump!


Spotlight | Clio Kill Black Waterproof Pen Liner.

Just when I thought I have found my HG eyeliner in the guise of K-Palette Real Lasting Micro Eyeliner, here comes Clio to make me think otherwise. I discovered this gem during my first trip to Korea, while fleeting from one makeup store to another in Myeongdong.
Clio Kill Black Pen Liner.
A Korean makeup brand known for its hip and trendsetting image, Clio has won numerous awards for its amazing line of products. Their most popular of which, and the one that constantly receives accolades over the years, is Clio's eyeliner.
The most popular among Clio's makeup line.
In fact, Clio's Kill Black Pen Liner was awarded as Marie Claire Korea's Beauty Editor's Pick in 2011, and was hailed as the Best Eyeliner in Cosmopolitan Singapore's Grand Beauty Prix 2012.
Product description at the back of the box.
And why not? This eyeliner is waterproof, smudge-proof, and lets you 'draw' gorgeous black lines on your lids with just one stroke. And when I say black, it's really, really black. No need to layer the lines over and over again, which I absolutely hate as it runs the risk of flaking on your eyelids.
Clio Pen Liner in 01 Black.
Oh, and its felt-type pen tip is quite easy to maneuver that even eyeliner newbies would be able to create the perfect cat eye in no time.
Felt-type pen tip.
The tip isn't as fine as K-Palette's Micro Eyeliner, so it's not really meant to create super skinny and super fine lines. But if you're into slightly thicker and bolder lines, then you will enjoy using this eyeliner as much as I do.
Left, swatched once. Right, swatched twice.
Its wear time is pretty impressive, too. The first time I used this eyeliner was about two weeks ago, on the day we flew back to Korea. We left home around 2 am, landed in Korea at 12 noon, made our way out of the airport at around 2pm (the immigration lines at Incheon Airport are crazy long, I tell you), finally arrived home at half past three in the afternoon and voila! My eyeliner was still there, winging it!
Wingin' it!
And since this product holds true to its claim of being waterproof, you'll need to use a makeup remover to take all that black off from your lids. Soap/facial foam and water alone wouldn't suffice.
Yep, still wingin'!
As for the price, it wouldn't burn a hole in your pocket. At least not much. I bought mine for 15000 Korean won, which is still a bit cheaper compared to K Palette's.
Products Used:
FACE: Innisfree No Sebum Blur Primer,
Laneige Snow BB Cream,
Benefit Erase Paste in Medium,
Peripera Snow White Pride Up Pact.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Pen Liner,
Tony Moly Simply Style Slim Curling Mascara.
CHEEKS: Tony Moly Cristal Blsuher in Pleasure Peach.
LIPS: Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Divine Wine.
I love this eyeliner so much, I'm planning on buying another pen or two before we fly back home. Ugh, I can't believe this trip is about to come to an end. Boo hoo hoo! :(


Seoul Searching | Changgyeonggung Palace.

To make the most out of the Royal Cultural Festival (ergo, Free Admission Day), the little man and I also visited the nearby Changgyeonggung Palace, which is connected to Changdeokgung Palace via Hanyangmun Gate.
Changgyeonggung Palace from afar.
The palace, originally called 'Suganggung', was built in the mid-15th century by King Sejong as a resting place for his father Tejong. It also served as residential quarters for queens and concubines.
Honghwamun, the main gate.
During the reign of King Seonjong, the ninth king of Joseon, the palace was renovated and enlarged, and was also renamed into Changgyeonggung.
Myeongjeongmun Gate. 
More of Changgyeonggung Palace after the jump!


Seoul Searching | Changdeokgung Palace.

Holidays in South Korea are usually very festive, as most tourist attractions come up with fun and interesting events to celebrate the occasion, or offer special discounts for both tourists and locals alike, If you're lucky, you might come across 'Free Admission' promos, such as the one that the four traditional palaces offered during the long weekend (May 5-8).

I wouldn't pass up on this great opportunity, so Yue and I trooped to Changdeokgung Palace last Saturday - along with about a thousand or more eager beavers (ergo, tourists).
If you see this sign, then you have walked to the right place.
One of the most well-preserved traditional palaces in the country, Changdeokgung Palace was built in 1405 by King Taejong, the third ruler of Joseon. (He's also known as Yi Bang Won, the character portrayed by Yoo Ah In in the sageuk 'Six Flying Dragons'.)
Changdeokgung Palace: an introduction.
Like the other palaces in Seoul, Changdeokgung Palace was also burnt down during the Japanese invasion in 1592. It was rebuilt about 18 years later, and since then, it has become the primary palace until the late 1800s. In 1997, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Korea, together with the Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.
Free Admission Day!
Secret Garden not included, though.
Behold the beauty of Changdeokgung Palace! More photos after the jump!