Sunday, November 9, 2014

Red Texture Nails - Not the typical matte look

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Can't believe it's been almost a year since my last nail post! Truth be told it took my nails this long to heal from all of last year's experiments. Yes, they were that weak for that long (unfortunately).

Now that my nails have shown improvement, I have been a little over excited to try new designs or just have them painted in general. Bad move for the next few months? Probably...
sally hansen 610 red zin essie matte about you shiny stamping plate sh225
I haven't done anything matte in such a long time. I have seen these not-quite-all-matte designs floating around the internet here and there before. It was an easy decision for me to incorporate my nail stamping kit into this experiment since I just didn't feel like cutting up strips of tape at 11PM. (Late-night nails session at it's finest.)
sally hansen 610 red zin essie matte about you shiny stamping plate sh225
I started the process with a layer of OPI's Base Coat, then 2 light coats of Sally Hansen's 610 Red Zin, and 1 coat of Essie's Matte About You.
sally hansen 610 red zin essie matte about you shiny stamping plate sh225
After going through the different image plates on hand and choosing a design, I used the same red polish to stamp the image onto each nail. I am nowhere near perfecting the nail stamping technique but I am much better at it than when I first got them. Definitely something that takes some practicing.
sally hansen 610 red zin essie matte about you shiny stamping plate sh225
Close up of the texturing created
It is difficult to see without really taking a close look but hey it is still atypical. It isn't just all shiny or all matte. The mix of the two makes it a little more interesting, at least I like to think it is. The only negative to this whole matte thing is having to forgo a top coat. The edges of my nails are already starting to lose polish.

Does anyone have any tips for making matte designs last longer or is this something that just can't be avoided?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Navy Keyhole & My Dress Dilemma

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Oh dresses... They're such a sight to behold but still quite uncomfortable for me to wear.
Although! I have muster enough courage recently to go out and about in a dress a few more times than usual (which is typically never).

My dress "collection" is minuscule. I have a total of 2 by the time this Fall season hit so I was pretty excited when I saw the opportunity from eShakti.com to add to my closet.

Since I don't really know my preferences for dresses yet, I typically like to try a bunch of them on before making a purchase. With eShakti everything is virtual so it made my decision pretty difficult. Nonetheless I was determined to make a choice because the customization option they offered really intrigued me.

eShakti custom dress

Even though I don't have many dresses, I have tried many on in stores before. Often times my usual size would be too tight for my body, especially around the waist and tummy area, yet the next size up would be too loose. If the sizing was right, the (back) length was usually compromised because of my rather big derrière. When at the worse, all is wrong.

I was hesitant on providing my own measurements for fear of inaccuracy but I was also unsure whether the site's "Medium" or "Large" would fit me better. After much thought I found a tape measure and recorded away.

eShakti custom dress eShakti custom dress

eShakti has a plethora of dresses, tops, skirts, and even jackets - ranging from retro to classic to modern styles. (Pulling most of my fashion vocab here!) I browsed without a concrete idea of what I was looking for but ultimately decided on the Keyhole Front Colorblock Poplin Dress. The dress has a simple yet unique enough design for me. Since this was a custom piece that would ideally fit my body the best, I decided the dress I chose should at least be something I could wear often.

Other than the custom measurements, I also chose to personalize the length of the dress and went with the "Above Knee Length". At the time I ordered there were four color options: Black, Navy, Red, and Green. It seems that it varies depending on the fabric they have in-stock. If there is a dress you like but aren't too smitten with the color range, perhaps wait a bit to see if new ones appear.

eShakti custom dress

I had almost forgotten that I placed the order request. The mail came more or less a month later. According to their website's About Me all pieces are made to order. Plus, my dress came all the way from India. These would explain the long wait time for the package to arrive.  It isn't too handy if you're looking for something right away, but if you want or need a custom piece for a future date do plan ahead.

eShakti custom dress

My dress did fit certain areas of my frame nicely with a few things that could have been better. The chest area felt a bit loose. My waist and tummy area has enough room for me without having to suck things in but since I subconsciously do that anyways it was roomy there as well. Other than those measurement errors that I probably made, I would have liked the skirt of the dress to be a tad shorter as well. The length didn't seem to go too well with the partially-revealing top portion. (But that could just be me.) However, this particular style doesn't offer any length shorter than "Above Knee".

One thing I was not really expecting was the fabric. Now I can't say this for all of their selection, but the fabric on my dress in particular was on the thinner side. It also felt stiff yet it held a lot of wrinkles (if that makes any sense). This material wouldn't have been something I would pick out to try on if I saw it in a store. The pleats in my dress made it a little difficult to straighten out and "tidy" the skirt.

I really appreciate the, pretty much hidden, pockets. They are very handy and I wish that more dresses/skirts that can have such a feature do have it. It isn't just small coin pockets either, it's roomy even with my hands placed fully inside.

For anyone who is interested in ordering from the site do keep in mind that most of their selection is on the pricier side, with most items running $50+. (This is just the price for a piece sans any customization.) If you would like to provide custom measurements and/or custom neckline, sleeves and length, there is an additional charge of $7.50 overall. There is a tiered shipping price system which increases with your order total. There does seem to be a discount/coupon for first-time purchases. I am not too sure of how frequent other future deals will be but I would assume that there might be coupons offers as well.

This was definitely a pleasurable experience. It might not be necessarily my first pick for my next dress purchase but it is nice to know that an option like this exists. Plus, now I have a better idea of how to measure myself for future custom orders here or for any site that offers such a feature.

The hunt for more perfect dresses continues!

Quick question: Would the length of this dress look better shorter?
I am debating whether or not to ask my mom to alter it for me.


*Disclaimer: This piece was provided to me by eShakti.com for free to review. Everything I have stated is my honest opinion and written as objectively as possible. I was not compensated in any other way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Korea Diary | Seoul Adventure Begins (Day 1)

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After gathering our luggages, we had to wait 3 hours at the airport so Bestie C could pick up the SIM card she pre-ordered at "K Books" bookstore. Nothing too exciting but we were both ecstatic to just be there.

South Korea ICN airport bus South Korea ICN airport bus to Hongdae
Once everything was sorted out, we were ready to finally leave the airport. The both of us discussed our airport departure plan a few days prior. Although the normal all-stop train at ICN would have been the cheaper option, we ended up deciding to take the bus due to the big suitcase factor (mainly my ginormous luggage). The airport bus ticket was ~ ₩10,000. I'm glad with our choice now! After experiencing the subway all summer, it would have been a pain to drag just the number of suitcases we had 'round and 'bout the public transport.

Our destination was to Hongdae since the AirBnB place we booked was closest to that area. Once we got off the bus the next big challenge was finding our way to the provided address. Our host, Euna, had sent us lovely picture directions and suggestions, one of which was to take a taxi from Hongdae to her studio/apartment.

It wasn't hard to find a taxi in Hongdae. It was difficult trying to tell the driver where we wanted to be. We had the address in Korean and English, but he still had a hard time finding the place. When the taxi driver got frustrated with us, in part because we were foreigners. He got even more agitated when he told us to call Euna but we couldn't.

Our host did say her building was really new and not all the GPS had it in their systems. But the driver insisted we didn't even show him the Korean address. We were ultimately able to find the place after he called Euna for us, but...it was not a pretty conversation. I don't remember the exact words, nor did I understand most of the conversation at the time, but judging by his tonality and the few words I could make out things were getting heated.

When we finally met Euna in person, I was so afraid that she would have a bad impression of us due to the "argument" with the taxi driver. She was everything but! Euna was so nice and even said that he was completely not understanding. She thought we were overcharged and even said she would call the taxi company later on.

We were guided into her building and shown our room for the next 3 days and 2 nights. Even though she wasn't finished with cleaning the room from the previous guest, she allowed us to "check-in" early and leave our things there in order to explore a bit. (I had asked beforehand for an earlier check-in and she was very accommodating!) But oh her poor husband had to lug our suitcases up to the 3rd floor since they did not have an elevator - forever grateful! (I had a difficult time trying to get everything down the stairs when we left, forget about up!)

Seoul South Korea T Money Card Seoul South Korea Paris Baguette Caramel Macchiato Seoul South Korea Paris Baguette Red Bean Streusal Bread
T Money Card - Paris Baguette Iced Caramel Macchiato - Paris Baguette Red Bean Streusel Bread

Euna even showed us around her area a bit and helped us purchase & load our T Money card for using public transportation. (Our card was ₩3,000 but according to Bestie C, typical T Money cards cost about ~₩2,500. The card we got came with a coupon book to various things in Seoul/Korea.) Euna asked us where we were interested in visiting and even pointed us in the direction for transportation.

We were suggested to take a nearby bus route to Hongdae, but neither of us felt confident enough then to take on that adventure. Since we already passed through Hongdae earlier and saw the route the taxi driver took to the studio/apartment, the two of us walked back to the main Hongdae streets for our first mini-adventure. Along the way we stopped by one of the many Paris Baguettes to grab breakfast and tried our best to figure out the SIM card situation, which we still couldn't resolve then.

Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Entrance Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum
First major tourist stop ~ Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae
I don't remember if we had directions or not before hand, but we did ultimately have to ask the person at the Tourist Information booth for help because the museum was actually located on a small side street.
Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum
Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Ticket Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Souvenir
The Trick Eye Museum ticket was ₩15,000 . It was really fun trying to get the pictures just right in order to capture the optical illusions and seeing how the optical illusions worked. But be forewarned, the museum is a tourist (especially group tourists) hotspot! Prepare to "fight" to get your shot amongst all the others. May not be everyone's cup-a-tea, probably applies more for the perfectionists out there.

An unlikely 1st souvenir from a little boutique shop at the museum but how could I resist?
The things there didn't have much (if anything) to do with the Trick Eye museum, but there were tons of just cute bits and bobs & the typical souvenir-fare items.

Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Ice Museum Seoul South Korea Hongdae Trick Eye Museum Ice Museum
The Trick Eye Museum ticket that we purchased also allowed admittance into the Ice Museum. It felt great to go in given how hot and stuffy it felt in the Trick Eye portion of the building (hot day + tons of people = no bueno.) This section in comparison was much smaller but given that it is really just a walk-in freezer, it probably isn't wise to spend too much time in the ice box anyways. The little cold-protectant pull-over did help a little, but it was still a "run in, snap photo, and get out" kind of situation. Nonetheless, there was a really cool ice slide for those who aren't afraid of getting their tushies a bit nippy ^^

Playground Park
Seoul South Korea Hongdae Playground Park
Maybe around noon-ish we were finished with the museum and wandered Hongdae a bit. Familiarized ourselves with the streets, stores, and came across the Hongdae Playground Park. Since it was the middle of the day there wasn't much going on when we were there.

Seoul South Korea Hongdae ABC Mart promoting
Promoters/Performers for the grand-opening of ABC Mart (shoe shop) in Hongdae
Nice to see marketing stuff in a foreign country!
All decked out in their store uniform (I am assuming) cheering and dancing all coordinated.

Seoul South Korea Hongdae AirBnB Sweet Seoul Residence 303 Seoul South Korea Hongdae AirBnB Sweet Seoul Residence 303
Seoul South Korea Hongdae AirBnB Sweet Seoul Residence 303 Seoul South Korea Hongdae AirBnB Sweet Seoul Residence 303
Around 2-3PM we headed back to our home for the time being, hoping to cool off from the heat and most of all to drop off our bags full of electronics and such. Luckily Euna was able to finish tidying up while we were gone and we were able to finally relax a bit. There was a little trouble trying to figure out the Wi-Fi password for the room. When we got some sort of service we were able to resolve the situation with a quick message to Euna.

Euna calls her building the "Sweet Seoul Residence" and our room in particular was ~USD$55 per night. She has other rooms available as well that are in the same figure range. For the price, the place was nicer than you'd think! It was like a pretty typical Korean studio one would expect after seeing dramas. Of course it isn't as big but the amenities were all relatively the same: washing machine only, a small stove-top (ours electric though, not gas), low-height furniture, and shower stall-less/tub-less bathroom. The bed was more than enough for the two of us and having a TV with cable channels was the icing on the cake.

We tried and was finally successful at figuring out the whole SIM card scenario. Otherwise we would have had to plan a trip to their store/office location. Despite the lengthy instructions that came with the SIM and on the website, it apparently seemed to have automatically started after either the card was placed in or the first run-through of the manual.

Seoul South Korea Cheonggyecheon Seoul South Korea Cheonggyecheon
Once those little things were settled we devised our route to Namdaemun Market. Along the way we passed by the City Hall - Cheonggyecheon area. There was a memorial site of sorts for the Sewol victims, as well as an international student/foreigners type of gathering event. Unfortunately we weren't able to go down to the stream itself but it was pretty nonetheless.

My only goal the first day in Korea was to get prescription sunglasses to use for the rest of my trip in sunny Asia. I read that Namdaemun Market was apparently THE hub for glasses wholesalers in Seoul and prices are pretty much cheapest there.

Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Sungnyemun Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Sungnyemun
Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Sungnyemun Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Sungnyemun
While on the look-out for the market, we came across the Namedaemun/Sungnyemun (Great South Gate). One of the multiple fortress walls that use to enclose Seoul. The one we saw was sadly not the original though because (if I remember correctly) the gate was recently burned due to arson. I love that another one was built to at least symbolically represent the past history of the gate. I also really like the juxtaposition of "old" and new. The gate is literally in the middle of a bunch of tall buildings and seemingly very out of place.

When we finally found an entrance into the market, dark clouds were rolling in and vendors all seemed to be covering up for the day and/or due to the impending weather condition. Even though I was really set on getting my sunglasses, it wouldn't have been nice to get rained on. Plus there really was an overwhelming number of optical stores in every corner of the market. I was honestly a little intimidated to walk into any one store to just browse and gauge prices on my first very day in Korea.
Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Market Wang Hot Bar Odeng Eomok Seoul South Korea Namdaemun Market Wang Hot Bar Modeum Odeng Eomok
Bestie C and I were both pretty hungry when we got to the market so we grabbed some Odeng 오뎅 or Eomok 어묵 (fish cake) for ₩3,000 before heading back home. Luckily they had a Modeum 모든 (everything) version that had a piece of all the flavors available on one skewer.

Seoul South Korea Hongdae Byulchonji Seollontang Mool Naengmyun Seoul South Korea Hongdae Byulchonji Seollontang Mandoo
Our night ended with eating take-out Mool Naengmyun 물 냉면 and Mandu 만두 (from Byulcheonji Seollongtang 별천지설농탕) while enjoying the cable TV service at our "home" ~ a familar activity in a foreign place.

Exploring Namdaemun Market was destined to be for another day...