ReFa and Other Skincare Favorites

ReFa

I usually pride myself as a practical and relatively level-headed shopper, and don’t (excuse the pun) buy into the hype behind the hottest “must haves,” EXCEPT when it comes to skincare items!  I can easily walk away from clothing and shoes, but it takes everything in me to say “no” to even what seems like the silliest gadget ever … like ReFa!

I do admit that ReFa, a Japanese face massager that supposedly emits microcurrent that stimulate circulation (I feel silly even trying to explain this so please read about it here for more detail  lol ), was a complete impulse purchase.  I saw one of my celebrity crushes pose with it one day on his Facebook page and I had to have one too!

But impulse buy or not, I’m extremely happy with the purchase!  I’m totally serious here. Of course, I won’t be able to see or feel the real improvement, if any, for good weeks or even months, but it feels incredible when I roll it all over my face (especially around the cheeks, jawline, and hairline) and neck.  I do it every chance I get and especially when I’m reading or surfing the Internet at night.

Another somewhat impulse purchase, but am completely satisfied with, is this facial steamer.  My BFF Maya introduced me to this and I fell in love after the first use!  You can totally feel your pores opening up from the hot steam and your skin feels super soft and moisturized immediately afterward.

And who can forget Clarisonic?  I purchased Mia 1 a few years ago and I’ve been in love with it since. I don’t use it as frequently as I once did because I feel like I need to be more gentle on my face as I age, but I still think this deep facial cleanser is pretty magical.

So, here they are — some of my favorite skincare companions.  I used to spend money on face masks, toners, moisturizer, etc., and although I still like to splurge on those items once in a while, I feel like it’s a better investment to spend money on devices that you can use over and over again.

New Blog URL!

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I’m not sure if any of you noticed, but the URL for this blog has officially been updated to reflect the actual name of the blog — Lavender and Olive! Okay, it’s technically missing the “and”  lol  but I’m still super happy about it!

I’ve wanted to change the link from “Time for Dinner” to “Lavender and Olive” ever since I changed the direction of the blog a few years ago, and I finally took the leap today!  But don’t worry — you can still access the site with the original URL.  It’ll simply redirects you to the new link without any additional step on your end.

I also created a new Twitter account and updated my Instagram so please follow me!  My goal is to get my Etsy shop finally up and running soon and post my craft-related adventures there, along with this blog!

Twitter: LavendrOlive

Twitter

Instagram:  Lavender_Olive

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Try the World: Marrakech at Your Doorstep

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Subscription services are everywhere these days. There’s not a day that goes by without encountering video footage of eager customers unboxing their newest deliveries, whether they be clothes, body care products, snacks or whatever, on the Internet. Some do it because they received a free box to review, while others, like me, are doing it completely on their own. Either way, I bet companies are totally stoked to receive so much online exposure from eager bloggers and YouTubers posting their reviews on social media. Time has certainly changed from the days of newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

There’s my thoughts on a service called Try the World, that delivers gourmet items from a selected city in the world on a bi-monthly basis. This month was Marrakech and I received small but lovely edibles from one of Morocco’s largest cities.

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Inside the box were: Organic couscous, canned sardines, a jar of couscous sauce, a box of palmier, culinary Argan oil, and a jar of Kefta rub (mix of cumin, paprika, Morita peppers, mint, coriander, cilantro, and cinnamon).

In all honesty, I’m not sure if they are worth $39 (which includes shipping though) but I’m happy with the box since it allows me to try out things I probably won’t otherwise. And you can’t beat the cuteness of the Tiffany-blue box everything comes in. The box also comes with a description of each item, as well as a Culture Guide booklet with some tidbits of the city. They add a very nice touch.

One commitment I made upon starting this subscription is that I’m going to eat / use the items I receive as quickly as I possibly can. I decided that I won’t let them sit in a fridge or a pantry for me to forget. With that in mind, I polished the box of palmer in two days, and I had couscous and the sauce for dinner last night.

The Couscous sauce was good but it tasted more like salsa, so I added some cinnamon and brown sugar to bring out the North African flavors.

Of all the subscription services out there, I think Try the World is my favorite. The deciding factor for me was the Tokyo box. I didn’t get it but saw a bunch of pictures online and the items that were included were very legit. That’s when I knew that the company wasn’t run by someone who just went to a local ethnic supermarket and grabbed what they thought were “authentic.” I felt like they actually knew what they were doing!

I think it’s a little pricey but I love it, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their culinary repertoire.

Oh, and here’s the free Venice box I received when I signed up.

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Inside the box were: A bag of coffee, dark chocolate, chocolate-covered cherries, small jars of pear jam and honey, a can of olive oil, and a jar of anchovies.

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Here’s the “What Can I Find in My (insert city name) Box” card, along with …

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Culture Guide.

Guilty Pleasures in Paradise

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I wonder how long I can continue to use the excuse “But I just squeezed a watermelon out of a hole the size of a nostril (translation: I gave birth)!” before I have to return to a normal lifestyle and resume responsible, balanced eating. I have to admit that I’ve been stuffing my face with junk food that I normally (for obvious reasons) avoid for the last several weeks, using child birth as an excuse to justify my reckless and completely irresponsible behavior.

One of the junks that I’ve been consuming pretty much non-stop is chocolate chip cookies (and McDonald’s fries and ice cream and cheese and pizza and potato chips and …). I ate at least a dozen on my last baking spree, and I made more dough this morning just so that I have it handy when the urge strikes.

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Instead of baking all the cookies, I’ve decided to refrigerate the dough and make the cookies on an “as needed” basis this time. I’m hoping that this will help me control the portion that I consume … if I still have an ounce of willpower left, that is.

(This should be perfect since some believe that letting a dough sit for a few days can result in even better cookies.  Here’s a great NY Times article on this subject.)

Another bad habit that I acquired after the birth of the baby is mindless television watching!  Eeek. I survived so many years without having television, but my old habit has sadly returned. Between feeding the baby, changing diapers, and running around like a crazy woman, all I want to do during the down time is to sink my tired and sleep-deprived butt onto a couch and watch TV.  Movies are good but it’s rare that I can sit down for two-plus hours to finish a flick these days, so a show with 30 to 45 minute increment serves me perfectly.

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(Photos from ABC Family)

My newest TV obsession is Bunheads on ABC Family, a show that follows four (some very precocious) teenage ballerinas (hence the title “bunheads” because their hair is pulled back in a bun) and the relationship they form with an ex-Vegas showgirl who haphazardly comes into their lives, in a small, fictitious coastal town called Paradise.  I purchased the show on Amazon Prime (because I still don’t have cable) and watched the entire season in almost one sitting.  I’m officially addicted to the show.

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(Photos from ABC Family)

Sutton Foster plays the dancer protagonist and I am absolutely in love. I’ve been a fan of hers since I first saw her in the Broadway production of Les Miserable back in 2000 (she was the understudy for Eponine and happened to serendipitously perform on the show that night) and have watched her stage career blossom over the years. It’s refreshing to see her transition into mainstream (without selling out) in a wonderfully-written and important show like Bunheads. She, and the entire cast (which includes Jeanine Mason, the winner of So You Think You Can Dance, Season 5), are absolutely fabulous.

The unfortunate thing is that the show is in the danger of cancellation, only after one wonderful season. The fate of the show is still up in the air, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can continue to watch how life unfolds for Michelle (Foster), Bunheads, and all the whacky and quirky residents of Paradise.

Please don’t cancel this show!  Keep the Paradise alive!  I promise I’ll cut down on the chocolate chip cookies consumption to … um … every other day!  Deal?

Welcome Back, Tuna … and “Me” Day

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As much as I’m addicted to Subway, I won’t be caught eating any sort of meat products from the hoagie shop. I think those cold cuts are pretty yucky, and its chicken breasts don’t look overly appetizing (I don’t think they’re even real). The tuna salad is the worst. So when I had the intense craving for a tuna sandwich for lunch today, I had no choice but to go to a grocery store to pick up the ingredients to make it at home.

I avoided fish up until now during the pregnancy, but I’m finally feeling a little more comfortable re-introducing them into my regular diet. I’ve always known that a small amount of non-toxic kinds are safe to consume but I just couldn’t remember the good fish versus bad fish (that are high in mercury) so I just omitted them from my diet altogether to be on the safe side. Luckily, I read that canned tuna is one of those safer kinds, if consumed in moderation (about 6 oz a week), so it was nice to finally eat a hearty, mayo-drenched tuna sandwich again! Oh, how I’ve missed you!

It was my first time in good two weeks that I stepped into a grocery store, as well as the kitchen, but it was like riding a bike. I was back in the chopping mood in no time. I even got stuff for dinner for tonight. I’m sure my husband will be surprised to find me in the kitchen when he returns from work, instead of on the couch like a beached up walrus like usual. lol

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On a random note, I got a much-needed haircut this afternoon. The last time I got a cut was back in 2010eek I usually grow my hair out until it reaches ten inches, which is the minimum length required to donate it to Locks of Love, and chop it all off. This time, my hair was long enough that I was able to keep the new do at a shoulder length, even after the big cut. My lovely hair stylist, Claire, suggested that I keep it at this length instead of my usual super short do, after I told her that I want to keep things super low maintenance (since the last thing I want to worry about when I’m changing Pon Pon’s dirty diapers is my hair) and she was right!  I’m totally loving my new hair do!

If you live in the Valley, I highly recommend Clair from Joseph Lamar Salon in Burbank. She’s incredibly sweet and talented.

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I’m totally going to continue the “me” day tonight with home spa, with goodies that I acquired from Lush the other day!  (Sexy Peel Soap, Ayesha face mask, and Tea Tree toner tab.)  Lush is an absolute heaven for an aspiring home chemist like myself!

Welcome to Lavender and Olive

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Some of you may have noticed that this blog has gone under a little facelift recently.  First off, the title has changed from “Time for Dinner” to now, “Lavender and Olive.”  As many of you know, this blog started in 2007 as a simple online journal to document my then boyfriend and now husband and my dining adventures in the Los Angeles areas and beyond.

After more than five years, it has grown into something much more than just a ramble about food and our dining experiences.  It has blossomed into more of a place where I talk about my other hobbies, such as soap making, knitting, and sewing.  It began to feel a bit funny to keep using the food-centric title, when craft topics now occupied as much, if not more, real estate here.  That’s when I knew that it was time for a much-needed update!

The name of the blog stems from my two favorite gifts from nature – lavender and olive.  There is nothing more comforting than a deep soothing scent of lavender, and I am absolutely head over heads for velvety olive oil, for both consumption and on skincare.  These two ingredients are always found in the soaps and other body care products that I make.  It’s also the name of my Etsy shop, where I sell handmade soaps and other crafty creations (more items to be added shortly).  I especially love that there’s a word “LOVE” hidden in it.

The blog name may have changed (the URL will remain the same), but it’ll be business as usual. I’ll continue to write about our search of good food and my crafting endeavors. I may talk more about our bundle of joy who’ll be joining the world in a few months.

I hope you’ll continue to visit and spend time with me on this humble place on the blogospehre (yes, all three of you).  Thank you for your continuing support and welcome to Lavender and Olive!