My Best of 2013 Beauty Picks

Hold on a moment, I need to heave a sigh, my facial cleanser got left on the bed and didn’t make it into the group shot…sigh* will do an insert.  The best facial moisturizer also didn’t make it into the group shot because Mom used all of it up already so that will be an insert, too.  So, ANYWAY, on with it.  I basically realized I needed to do this minutes after a chopping frenzy in the kitchen for New Year’s Eve dinner, and on top of all that, the sun was beginning to set.  Talk about well-planned (not).  Some of these I’ve mentioned and reviewed (the individual review links are in pink) and some I haven’t just yet, so consider so consider those that I haven’t mentioned as quick teasers for upcoming reviews!


Well VSCO helped me along and a photo with flash didn’t seem too bad of an idea, ITG and NYLON make it work anyway.  I didn’t do “high-end/low-end” equivalents for everything but it’s a smashing good mix I think.  I did not trim it down to a significant number like 10 or 20 (happy cackle), I have about 30+ products in here, and they all function differently.  Note, one or two items are not available locally.  Read more (click “more”) to get to the complete list of my best picks for 2013.  Happy New Year!… To full post & COMMENTS...

New Year’s Eve Dinner Prep | Mom’s Braised Lamb Shanks

We’ve got to an early start today, but truth is you don’t need half a day to do this, we just finished the first half of the process which is roasting the shanks before braising them later tonight, between now and tonight these shanks are resting.  If you’d like to do this for regular dinner time you can start at 3 or 4pm.  If it’s for a New Year’s eve late dinner you can begin at sundown.  I’ve got my hands all over these pieces of meat.  Mom is the captain and I’m first mate (aka sous chef) aboard our kitchen ship, and we’re preparing lamb shanks for braising tonight!  First though we have to roast a little over 2 kilos of lamb shanks (4.5 lbs exactly) for about an hour.  Total preparation plus cooking time takes about 2 and a half hours.  There’s lots of love in slow cooking.


We begin by preheating the oven to 230° C and while that’s preheating we prepare the spice rub for the shanks. The combined spice rub you see above is made of the following ingredients.


We purposely made more of the spice rub than we needed (double the actual recipe), we only used a total of 4 teaspoons of the resulting powder once this is all mixed together, the extra  we will store for future dishes or if additional seasoning is needed.

  • 2 teaspoons ground all-spice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Grind all of that together finely (you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder) then you massage 4 teaspoons of the spice rub all over the lamb shanks and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Finish by cutting deep slits in each shank to create pockets for the herbed butter.



HERBED BUTTER (mix all together with a spatula into a cold paste, then insert into slit pockets in shanks):

  • 100 grams of cold butter
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary, tear off the leaves and discard the stems
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • a pinch of dried ground sage (optional)

Once you’ve got the herbed butter done, insert into the shank pocket slits you cut into the lamb, insert and spread to be exact.  It’s like a little yummy secret inside the shanks.  Once each of the shanks are covered with the spice rub and filled with their share of herbed butter, pop them into the oven at 230°C and roast for 1 hour. When the roasting is done use the port wine from the next step to deglaze the pan and use for braising.

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Now these roasted shanks are ready to be braised for later tonight.

BRAISING LIQUID (Once you’ve used the port wine to deglaze the roasting tray with the drippings combine that with the chicken stock then put in the shanks. Braise for 1.5 hours in the oven at 175° C  in this liquid):

  • 1 & 1/4 cup of port wine
  • A quart and 1/2 cup of chicken stock

After 1.5 hours of braising, remove from the oven, rest the meat for 10 minutes, and turn the remaining braising liquid in the tray into gravy.

Sorry, there’s no photo of the actual braised finished product, it’s because that magic is still about to happen tonight!  Hope you find this recipe interesting, I understand if it was posted too late for any of you to try it, but if not for New Year’s Eve why not make it your first New Year Dinner for Jan 1!  Have a Happy New Year, everyone!

 … To full post & COMMENTS...

FACE SHOP Yogurt Polish “Vanilla” | Happy Tips Ready to Light Up

When I saw this polish by Face Shop my brother and I were leaving Shangrila Mall after barkada reunions.  It made me think of Babes in Toyland (1986, Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves), candy speckled eggs, or rainbow cereal in milk.  All the above are happy kid memories and a nail polish like this just has to be worn to welcome the new year.

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FACE SHOP’s Yoghurt Polish in Vanilla (Php150.00) contains small and large hexagonal glitter partying in a creamy, milk white base.  I like that it screams “party” without having to be metallic.  The look is completely opaque on 3 coats (as seen above, no top coat) and a little more tender to look at with 2 coats.  Wearing this just gets me all excited for New Year.  Are you rocking any party polishes this season? Since we’re spending New Year at home with family and friends I think I’d rather rock glitzy nails than a full on makeup look, but we’ll see what I feel like tomorrow :).… To full post & COMMENTS...

The Heart Swatch | A Handful of Meaningful Thoughts

There are some who freely spill their personal lives onto an online page, and everyone can with the freedom to do so but not everyone should at just any time.  I do, too, once in awhile…spill a couple of words every now and then.  I’m not made of stone.  DISCLAIMER: This is not a “kodigo (codex)” on how to figure me out, there are no tips and tricks, nor will you find “tsismis (gossip)” here…and please this is not an “I’m-single” plug.  I just want to encourage women to be more prudent, picky, and fabulous.  There have been times in the past where it’s been tempting to slap on all the feelings on relationships “Pollock” style into one post, whipping and splatting every ounce of emotion, frustration, or hope into WordPress for all the world to see.  However, unknown to many is the fact that I have loved ones who keep me in check, they’re heart watchdogs if you will (mothers and aunts who read my blog).  While they do not at all dictate what I choose to do I still look to them with the deepest respect because of the inspiring lives and perfect-imperfect marriages my parents, aunts, uncles have.  I’ve seen many of them at their best and worst but what’s amazing is as a whole, majority being more of the time, they all look like they don’t want to be with anyone else…victories, hangups, and all.  That’s why I don’t talk about what’s in my heart a lot online, because it’s a precious ounce of me and because it’s not always Spiritually prudent to do so.  Today I am led deeply to talk about this.  Once in awhile, I do go on a personal tangent like this just to let you guys know I do have a beating heart that is my own and to see if I can encourage or touch any of you with something other than a photo of lipstick or nail polish.  That was a long intro, but the rest of this should be relatively quick-er…lies.

emma gwyneth paltrow_02

In case you were wondering…the Jane Austen heroine (women who find true love are heroines) I pretty much feel I can relate to or feel similar to is EMMA.  First, I look like Gwyneth Paltrow and I’m married to Chris Martin, I’ve been spoiled (in the best sense) but I am not a brat, I’m as stubborn as an ox, I’m snarky, thoughtful but not sweet (don’t let my smiley face deceive you), once in awhile because I’m so opinionated (oracle tendency) I let words fly and get into trouble unintentionally then I have to dig myself out but won’t ever hesitate to apologize.  I’m prayerful especially at the end of my rope (so is she).  Plus, ugh confession, I like playing cupid and try to match friends without them knowing and I take a step back to watch my handiwork potentially unfold (haha, are you a victim? You will never know…)

We begin with a name, Jane Austen.  As women today, we revere the brilliant author for her ability to fulfill every woman’s romantic desire and staggering hope within a few hundred pages, but we have also been forewarned to not base or align our real life hopes in the manner that Jane’s women have in the stories.  So shouts the world: “for crying out loud, Ladies, Jane ended up dying alone…don’t believe her…” that isn’t fair.  Gone are the ‘olden’ days, people say now, today is a new age…don’t set your expectations too high or you’ll end up alone.  Alone in a Queen size bed…alone, possibly, yes, but in the long-run HELLO at least not besieged by the wrong person who might also be besieged by me!  My prized morning breath is on reserve (he’s so blessed, lol).  Yea, I’m picky but I’m way too much of a cheesy romantic to don the “down-with-love” feminist cap, okay.  I’m not like that at all. People have been asking why I’m 30 already and still single… typical ask-a-roo at this point but I really don’t blame them,  it’s a fair question.  Truth is I don’t really know *shoulder shrug* and don’t really have a straight-up answer that I’m not required to give, it is what it is…my personal knight just hasn’t been discovered.  I’m not on a MAN BAN ayt?! LOL!  My last relationship (which was my 2nd) ended a while back and I just found myself about to turn 30.  I’ve known for awhile that I’m an old soul and late bloomer (still working on the independence tab), a true slow boiler, I’ve felt it ever since I was in grade school…I’ve always been slower than most people at almost everything (except studies, writing, and drawing, I’d just turned 16 when I entered U.P.).  Point that eases any tension: I am loved in more ways than one, and I know it to my bones…so I can’t keep from smiling on the outside.  Which is why I don’t cry myself to sleep at night while eating ice cream (puh-leez w/ a head shimmy) begging to be hitched or anything like that.  I just watched Sense & Sensibility with my folks and Dad cried (he’s an action guy who plays Call of Duty Ghosts and he finished S&S crying).  If you haven’t watched any Jane Austen film yet, try Emma, it’s a good JA starter that won’t make your nose bleed as much.    I told myself once that the bottled romance in my heart had a soundtrack…for a long time I kept hearing a tune played in my head, for years I couldn’t remember what movie it was.  When I replayed the movie Emma last year after many years I froze…it was the music…the music I’d been looking for, you can listen to the Emma track here, don’t worry it’s an instrumental, no spoilers :).  My Pangilinan grandfather (father of 9) was recently confined in the ICU, thankfully he’s out already, but while he was there he had a moment of present-mindedness …he recognized me near his bedside.… To full post & COMMENTS...

Stylash Mink Lash Extensions 50% Off ‘Til Jan.15 | AND their SM BF Branch Opens Today

I looked outside and told myself today “I’m staying in…” then I saw an IG photo of my blogger friend,  “Reluctant Stylista”, Alex V. Lapa (who professionally styles my cousin KC Concepcion), in her newly done Stylash mink lash extensions and told myself “I’m going out, I’m going out!” LOL.  Seriously, I’m heading out later to get these “lashlettes” done before the 2014 countdown, especially since Stylash  got a 50% markdown offer on lash services until January 15 (that’s Php800 from Php1600).


I’ve chatted with and interviewed Alex aka Reluctant Stylista online and she said what she had done is the Natural C-shape and the service took 1.5 hours to get done BUT these mink lashes, if you’re extra careful around the eye area for the period of having them, can last for up to a whole month and about two to three weeks for girls who accidentally rub their eyes or aren’t as careful.


“It should’ve stung nga daw a bit pero for some reason that didn’t happen to me (during application)… when I went to bed that night, I was tearing up. Usually that happens when I sleep with something like mascara on.” – ALEX LAPA

What’s awesome about these is you don’t even need eyeliner to conceal them.  The only cosmetic reaction Alex got the day she had them applied was later on in the evening she told me she was tearing up just for awhile.  So I’m not sure I can recommend this for girls with sensitive eyes, especially for those of you who don’t like mascara or even pencil eyeliner that makes you tear up this service may not be for you.  Girls who love having false lashes applied though  or have tried a lash extensions service like for example “i-lash” without any problems should give these a go even just for the New Year!  If you have it done now you can reapply before the promo finishes!  Stylash offer different shapes and I certainly want to go for the “FIERCE” flared shape to lift my droopy eyes.  The GLAM shape looks like a great showstopping celebrity style.


I will have a follow up review of my own as soon as I have them done and then a conclusive interview after about 2-3 weeks.  Just decided to let you guys know about the promo now since it’s on until January 15, 2014!  Lots of celebrities abroad have been into mink lashes for awhile.  They’re the softest, most wispy, natural looking lashes in the market that are a “level up” from human lashes and the many ways they source them are cruelty-free, minks have a period of natural shedding and they can also be brushed (will double-double check of course in Stylash’s case, I will get to the bottom of that).  The only mink lashes I’ve ever mentioned here on the site in the past are those lovely certified cruely-free Velour rtw lash sets you just can’t get readily available here (without losing an arm or a leg).  Stylash’s new southern SM BF outlet is OPENING TODAY and Stylash also has an outlet counter at Landmark, Makati, and a Quezon City branch.  For inquiries their mobile contact numbers are 0917.6685042 / 0918.5918694 and they’re on Instagram @stylashmanila and on… To full post & COMMENTS...

Cray Cray for Cases | RTW Phone Swag by HeadCase UK

I was kinda “down” and semi “out” for the last two days.  I had a sore throat and slight fever on Christmas day and symptoms ballooned the following morning.  Thanks to rest, lots of juice, a massage, and some paracetamol it didn’t get any worse and I’m better now.  I did a bit of browsing on Ebay over two weeks ago and decided to give in to the holiday offers phone case makers HeadCase had via their online store E-cell Global (“e_cell” on Ebay).  Regular price is about $8 per case, but with their holiday discount and FREE shipping offer I paid quite a bit less, nearly half price for all in fact.  To be clear, Head Case phone cases are designed in the UK and outsourced to be printed here in the Philippines.  What I like is I didn’t receive standard postal notices for these anymore even though they were FREE shipping.  They delivered my orders all together directly to mom’s office in Fort.  I initially chose four then added the Ariel surfing princess a couple of days later.



Can you tell by my SURFING PRINCESS case that I’ve stocked up on phone swag for summer?  Ariel splits her tail just to surf?  Yes, please!  The printing quality is moderate to high quality and the design doesn’t wrap around the whole case completely, the print stops short of about a third of an inch from the clear case edge.  The clear case that the design is on is obviously what makes it cheaper.  My ultimate favorite is this one they call “TIGER GEOMETRIC” but what’s strange is the face doesn’t look like a tiger.  I think they’re mistaken, it looks more like a lion or lioness, I can tell from the chin and the eyes and all I could think of when I saw this was “Aslan” not “Shere Khan”.  Generally, tigers have slightly larger, rounder  eyes than lions, slimmer snouts, and their eyes are closer together, not as far apart as lions’ eyes.  So to me, this is a lion.  No one disagreed on Instagram, LOL.  I also love that it blazes with multi-facets of the color of the new year and brings back childhood memories of Lisa Frank stickers and stationery.


I do know I won’t find fantastic graphic designs I can browse through locally as I was able to so easily do on their Ebay store.   What I like is it’s not a printed, peel-off sticker they just slapped on a clear case, they’ve obviously got a special printer that makes veneer designs that adhere and mold to plastic.  On my current case, the “Tiger” Geometric, it even looks like the darker facets in the graphics are beveled or embossed, you can see and feel it, so nice.


These are great but don’t naman expect Casetagram quality (which costs over $33 USD).  When I say print quality is moderate (for $5-$6 I paid each) that’s because I still can see printer striping if you look closely at the medium tones (look at the flamingo case where it’s most obvious, that was the dud of the 5).  I don’t mind too much about this for the price (about under Php200 each), I’m just really happy that my favorite designs, the cat, the lion, and the mermaid were printed well.  HC_03

I skimmed through hundreds of designs within my phone category, nearly a thousand Samsung S3 cases on the “e_cell” Ebay site before picking these 5 (they do same designs for other smartphone models including iphones).  By the way, if you’ve got the same phone as me make sure you’re looking at the Samsung S3 i9300 cases, NOT S3 MINI cases, easy to be mistaken.  Have fun browsing :).… To full post & COMMENTS...

Maybelline’s Luscious Looking Lip Polish! | AKA “Color Elixir” Abroad

I’m sooo glad I went with my gut and did NOT cave on an Ebay purchase for a few of these.  I remember praying and truly not having enough extra to get these so I went with wisdom and let it go.  Thank you, thank you to the Maybelline team for gifting me with not one, not two, but eight if not ALL of your lovely newly available Lip Polish lippies!  They’re known abroad as “Maybelline Color Elixirs” and ever since London-based Canadian Youtube-r  “Essiebutton” (Estee) raved about these I’ve been hankering to have me one or two, and now without lifting a finger, I do…and so many more than I imagined!


Why You’ll Love It

  • A trio of concentrates delivers the color of a lipstick, the cushiony care of a balm, and the glass shine of a gloss
  • Our exclusive smoothing angora brush delivers a polished , even application and smoothing sensation to lips

I love how elegantly lined up they are in a box suited to their size, they kind of remind me of how the Aromatherapy Associates Bath Oils are packed.  What the lip polishes are basically are non-sticky lipglosses, they give a pigmented sort of jelly shine without the annoying stickiness and fade nicely to a noticeable stain after a few hours (3-4), plus they’re easy to bring and a snap to reapply, need I mention they won’t cost you an arm and a leg at about Php450/475?  I set my eyes on this wearable lavender-ish color GLAM5 which…obviously, I’m being very typical at this very moment, best represents next year’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid.



Actually I’ve been onto these purple-y shades even before the color of the year was announced.  These tenderly tint the lips and in fact when you swatch them on your hand or arm (sorry don’t have a swatch photo) they sort of look like watercolors on the first swipe but with a pop of color.  Color intensity is build-able, which is just uniquely awesome for a gloss.  Tip though, for any lippie like this exfoliate lips and hydrate lips beforehand, dry flaky lips don’t ever help when applying products like these.  The lighter shades are lovely to wear for a soft everyday look and the deeper ones are gorgeous, too.  Here I’m wearing GLAM 5 and I do love me a good gloss that adds OBVIOUS color and lasts not at the expense of sealing your lips together.  I hate lipgloss that looks lovely in the tube but amount to “zero” when you slick it on.  These aren’t like that and they don’t have an odd taste or smell.  I especially recommend these if you want your lips to catch the light in joyful group photos this holiday season.  :)  Available almost everywhere Maybelline is sold in local department stores, Mercury Drug, or Watsons outlets.  Are you done with shopping and wrapping? I’m still wrapping a few more but am excited for our first Christmas family gathering tonight, Dad’s side!  An early Merry Christmas to all of you, mwah! xxx… To full post & COMMENTS...

Early Christmas Gift from Lisa Eldridge | Being chosen is the best gift of all…

I woke up with my eyes still stuck together.  They burst open when I peeked at celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge’s post on her website announcing her My Lisa Look contest winners and saw my face, my actual face, posted on there!!  I won 3rd place in her My Lisa Look global IG contest (here at this link)! And she even described what she thought of my look and why she chose it! *Thud*


“Third place goes to Julia, who was inspired by my ‘Baby Bardot Fresh Spring Makeup‘  The finished look is just so fresh and suits her face and personality so well – of course I dont actually know her but I can sort of feel her personality through the sparkle in her eyes in the picture … if you know what I mean. Well done Julia, I love your make-up!” – LISA ELDRIDGE

mylisalook_01One girl from her team just emailed me a few minutes ago asking for my details so they could send out my prize by New Year.  I brightened the photo up for you guys, it won without me doing so but I wanted it brighter for the blog.  I really, really don’t care as much about the prize as much as the fact that Lisa actually looked at my artistry and approved and thought she saw “sparkle” in me.  Lisa looked at me and she actually liked what she saw.  That made me sparkle more today :D.  It’s like the best God-given early Christmas gift.  I can’t imagine asking for more this year.


 … To full post & COMMENTS...

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