Enjoying food isn’t about the binge

food marketI get to travel a lot. And of course, one of the reasons why I like travelling is that I get to taste different kinds of cuisines.  But I’m still wary of what I eat.  I may be experimental, but I’m not suicidal.  The world of food is very interesting to me but it’s not my extreme sport.  I’m not a glutton either, but I do love the smell and look of food.  I find happiness in a loaded buffet the same way I get giddy whenever I’m at a food’s market.

In the Metro, there are certain markets that only open during weekends.  I have to wake up early and drag my friends to Salcedo Market just so I can see fresh produce and other independent shops that offer mouth-watering dishes.

My friends and I would save enough money ever the week so that we can buy items that are only being sold in these type of markets.  That’s what we do when we visit Merkato.  We don’t eat dinner, and when we get there we walk for a few minutes before eating.  We’re sure when midnight strikes, we’re already quite satisfied.

Good food doesn’t have to be expensive for you to enjoy it. When you go to an ordinary market, chances are there are eateries there that serve fresh, hot-piping dishes.  And I’m sure that they used fresh ingredients.  When I’m in New York, I eat like a typical New Yorker, breakfast will be a bagel and coffee while walking towards the subway.  Lunch would be Filipino food because I worked in a Filipino restaurant, but dinner is either a slice of bread and or whatever’s left over in the fridge.

If I’m in a new place, I try to go where there are a lot of people lined up.  Either that place has great food, or it’s cheap, either way, that’s a good find.  But kidding aside, I try to research on the place and look for its popular dishes and restaurants. I’m more interested in a country’s cuisine rather than its tourist spots.

I don’t eat or crave for food just to satisfy my hunger.  Food for me is like shopping to some people.  I find comfort in it.  I don’t necessarily have to eat it, but it makes me happy to experience new dishes and or new tastes.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Eye make-up basics: the different parts of the eye

Whenever I talk to friends who are just learning how to apply make-up, they often tell me that they are mystified by instructions such as “Blend such-and-such a color into your socket line” or “Line both top and bottom waterlines.” I don’t blame them. It took me quite awhile before I could understand such instructions myself, so I understand how newbies would have a bit of difficulty in deciphering directions of this sort.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the different parts of the eye (in terms of make-up application, that is). I’ve also included some pictures with the areas being described marked out.

The lid. When applying eyeshadow, the lid is where the base color usually goes. A base color is either the same color as your skin (and in applying it you’re just evening out your eye area color) OR the medium/middle shade in a three- or four-shade eyeshadow palette. The lid area starts at the upper lashline all the way up to the crease or socket line. Where’s the crease, you say? Read on…

Your eyelid

The crease or socket line. Gently pat your eyelids with a finger, and feel for the area where the eyeball ends and your eye area recedes or seems to go deeper. That area is your crease or socket line. In most make-up looks, the crease is where the darker colors are placed. The idea is to recess this area even further, to make the eye look more deep-set. However, if you’re like most Asians, you’ll probably find that you have monolids, i.e. you don’t have a defined crease. No worries! There are a host of other ways by which you can define your peepers; I’ll talk about this in a future post.

I have monolids myself, but this is the general area where the crease should be.

The outer corner. This refers to the corner of your eye farthest from your nose. Apply darker colors here and blend softly inwards, going in about one-third the length of your eye (the color here should blend with any color you applied in the crease, if applicable). Darkening this area also helps to define the eyes and make them look deep-set. For people with monolids, applying dark colors here and blending inwards works to give the illusion of deeper-set eyes (better than trying to create the illusion of a crease where there is none).

The outer corner

The inner corner. The reverse of the outer corner, this refers to the corner of your aye nearest to your nose. Unless you have really large eyes, you usually cannot afford to apply dark colors in this area; doing so makes your eyes look smaller. Instead, highlight this area with light/shimmery shades to give you a wide-awake/refreshed look. Any color applied here should be blended softly outwards (i.e. away from the nose), going about one-third the length of your eye.

The inner corner

The browbone. This is the area right below the brow. It’s hard to miss this: there is literally a bone in this area. Light shades are applied here to highlight the area. Shimmer works, but don’t overdo it; you want to be very subtle in emphasizing this area.

See that whiter area where the light hits? That’s the browbone.

The upper lashline. The area where your top eyelashes are, this is where you apply eyeliner and/or false eyelashes. Lining the eyes, when done the right way, makes the eyes pop and can either emphasize or subtly change their shape (depending on the effect that you want to achieve).

The lower lashline. This is where your bottom lashes are. Eyeliner is also applied in this area. You can also add false eyelashes, but they’re a bit trickier to attach here.

The bottom waterline. This is the area that’s practically inside your eyes already, requiring you to go in further than your lower lashline. Applying eyeliner here takes a bit of getting used to. A dark eyeliner applied here works for smoky, sultry looks. A light eyeliner–white, or pale yellow–makes the eyes look bigger and brightens them as well.

The bottom waterline

The top waterline. Like the bottom waterline, but on top (i.e. underneath your top lashes). “What?! You want me to apply my eyeliner there? What if  I poke my eye?” Well, this isn’t for everyone. Even I have yet to master applying my eyeliner here without being reduced to tears. But applying eyeliner here (usually pencil, or cake eyeliner with a wet brush) makes your lashes look fuller without mascara, so I think this is a trick worth learning.

(Note to self: If you want to apply eyeliner here, do it BEFORE applying mascara. I once tried doing it after mascara, and it hurt like anything 🙂 )

See the top lashes? Drawing on your top waterline will require you to bring the liner underneath those lashes. Yikes!

There are so many ways to apply eye make-up that what I’ve just said will not apply to all types of looks. But these guidelines are generally applicable, and they are definitely useful to a beginner.

Remember that blending is key; there should be no visible demarcation lines between one color and the next, or from one area of the eye to another. Hope this helps!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

A guide to buying make up brushes

I was going to do a post on mascaras, but decided to postpone it in light of a recent development: I am now the proud owner of (almost) the entire line of Real Techniques brushes! (swoon)

What, why are you not jumping up and down with me? These are Real Techniques brushes. By Sam Chapman. Of. Pixiwoo. Fame. (pause for effect)

Okay, why do I get the feeling that I’m still not getting the reaction I hoped for? Umm Anj, maybe because not everyone is as crazy about make-up as you are? Fine. I’ll move on.

You see, I am of the firm belief that brushes are as important as the actual make-up products that you apply on your face. With the right kind of brushes, it’s easier for you to achieve seamless application and flawless blending. If you had to choose between spending on brushes or on actual products, I’d recommend that you spend on the former. Having said that, here are some tips to help you in selecting brushes.

Try before you buy. Go for brushes that feel soft and do not prick or scratch your skin. But don’t try it out on your face (brushes displayed aren’t exactly the cleanest); the back of your hand or the inside of your wrist/arm will do.

Ditch those miniscule applicators that usually come with make-up. You know, those sponge-tip applicators or blush brushes that are usually no more than two inches in length. If you’re really serious about learning to apply make-up well, investing in good-quality brushes is a must.

A more expensive brush will not necessarily work better. I learned this the hard way. I once bought an obscenely expensive eyeshadow brush from a reputable brand, only to find that it scratched my lids like you wouldn’t believe. I still use it, if only to get my money’s worth, but it’s made me think twice about buying more brushes from that brand.

Build your collection little by little. If you were to see my brush collection, you’d notice that I rarely have more than two or three brushes from one brand. My Real Techniques haul is the first time I’ve ever bought a lot of brushes from just one brand. This is because I like to hem and haw over each brush that I buy. I want to make sure that I’m really happy with the quality of the brush, and rarely will a single brand offer a line-up wherein each and every brush will satisfy my criteria. Hence my hodge-podge brush collection. My brushes don’t look as nice as those sleek brush sets but at least I know I’m happy with each and every brush that I own.

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My brushes…bought from the US, shipped to Japan (it’s a long story, but a million thanks to my Tita Karen who helped me buy them). I can’t wait to try these out!

With proper care and cleaning (yes, you do have to clean them), your brushes should last you for years. Looking at it from this perspective, the initial outlay of money won’t seem as painful.

Happy brush shopping!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

It’s all in the bag: a look inside my everyday make-up kit

While I prefer to do my make-up at home, where I have all my products within arm’s reach—not to mention a huge mirror—but I rarely have the time to do so. I usually have to make do with applying my make-up in the office or while in transit (ever tried doing your mascara/eyeliner while inside a moving vehicle?). I often switch up the contents of my kit, but there are some well-loved products that I always tote around. Here’s a list of these products:

1) Liquid concealer. I don’t always have time to do my foundation at home, and it can be a pain to have to lug around a full-sized bottle of foundation for the whole day. So what I do is I only bring a small tube of concealer, which I apply with my (clean) ring finger only on top of blemishes or red patches; I then set everything with powder.

MAC Select Cover-Up: a little goes a long way

2) Eyeshadow brushes. I bring a basic eyeshadow brush and a blending/crease brush. I’ll do a more detailed post on eyeshadow brushes somewhere down the line; for now; let me just say that having these two brushes should take care of most of your eye make-up needs.

My blending/crease brush from Charm, and my basic eyeshadow brush from the Body Shop mineral make-up range

3) Loose powder and a big kabuki brush

4) Eyeliners in the basic colors: black, brown, gray, …hey, I even have a pale yellow one that’s supposed to make me look “less tired” 🙂

When I’m pressed for time, or when I forget to bring eyeshadow, eyeliner smudged on my eyes can achieve the same effect as more complicated eye make-up looks.

5) An eyebrow pencil with a brow comb on the other end. One trick to make eyebrows look full but natural is to fill in any sparse areas with a pencil  and then to comb through the entire brow to soften the look.

6) Mascara. I bring two tubes, but that’s just me. 🙂

7) One or two (or three) lip products: lip balm, lipstick, some glosses

8) Blush. A little bit blended unto the cheeks can do wonders in making me look more “alive”.

9) An eyeshadow palette. This one I switch around the most often, although generally I bring neutral-colored palettes for work.

One of my well-loved eye palettes: this one is by Bobbi Brown.

I hope this post has given you ideas on what products you can bring with you on a daily basis 🙂

Group shot…sans the blusher (whoops)

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Coffee: is it good or bad for your health?

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved coffee. No matter how much I love my frappuccino, I still prefer coffee hot even on a warm day. I used to take it BLACK. Just plain coffee, no sugar and no milk. But then, I started feel palpitations hehehe 🙂 Seriously, I thought that if I’d drink coffee often, I should at least enjoy it with sugar and a little bit of milk or creamer.

People who know me would often send me free/complimentary 3 in 1 coffee mixes, and to be honest, I can be a perfect endorser for some of these products. Not like with my chocolate cakes, I drink almost any brand of coffee. Of course I would have my favorites, and coffee is really much better if it’s brewed, but I’m a very mobile person so I just bring packets of instant coffee mixes with me.

Since I need to know what I put in my body, I did some research about coffee. I was surprised that there’s a lot of difference when you French-pressed it instead of using the ordinary paper filters. One leaves more oil therefore there’s a big chance of raising your bad cholesterol when you drink it often.

There’s a lot of debate about whether drinking too much coffee is good or bad for your health. There are also studies conducted by several universities to prove that coffee consumption is either detrimental or beneficial to one’s health.

While reading some of the results, I was analyzing my own health. Am I really over doing my intake of coffee? How much is too much? Which is healthier, hot or cold coffee? These questions kept on popping in my mind while reading.

Well, one study shows that drinking coffee will lessen one’s chances of having Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. That’s a good thing, right? And oh, in Taiwan, research showed that coffee actually helps in preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

These are just about coffee… I haven’t even touched on the subject of regular coffee (caffeinated) and decaf. I can’t stand the taste of decaf; I feel like I’m cheating myself with it. It’s like you’re drinking coffee but you’re not. Maybe it’s a psychological thing for me, but I do want to be informed on exactly what the differences are between these two.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, some people drink coffee to keep them on their toes. But for someone like me whose blood is half coffee, I don’t get stimulated by coffee anymore. But I don’t really have a normal sleeping time either. My dorm mates, on the other hand, depend on coffee whenever they need to be up all night.

Help me with this please, because as much as I would want to continue with my coffee habit, I still consider my health as my top priority. Maybe if you know something about coffee, we could exchange ideas in here, and maybe share some recipes too. I don’t normally bake, but I know espresso really makes a difference when baking anything with chocolate. ‘Til next time!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Getting your make-up to last

I’ve heard that people with an oily skin type are lucky because the extra moisture in their skin slows down the aging process. (If this were a Facebook post, this is where I’d hit the “Like” button.) However, I can’t help but be frustrated when my carefully-applied make-up melts after only an hour or two; I have better things to do with my time than to reapply my “face” several times a day. And so, over the years, I’ve made it a habit to take note of and experiment with techniques and products that will help my make-up to last longer.

Here are some tips, tricks, and products that you can incorporate into your make-up routine:

Use a primer. Applied before foundation, this product is especially crucial for those with combination/oily skin, but those with drier skin types will also benefit from using this product. A pea-sized amount is usually enough to cover the entire face; you can also blend it down unto the neck area.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer and Mary Kay Oil Mattifier

Work foundation into the skin. Different methods of application—by hand, using a sponge, using a brush–are recommended by different make-up artists; experiment and stick to the method you prefer. The important thing is to blend well with gentle but firm strokes; make sure the product is not just sitting on the surface. Also, setting with powder helps. Blend the powder well, too, so your face doesn’t look cakey; you don’t want to look like an espasol.

Spend a bit more time on your eyes. You can opt to use an eyeshadow primer. But the key to getting your eyeshadows to last is to apply, blend, apply, and blend again. Layering is key. You’ll get more staying power if you apply a little product at a time and slowly build up intensity rather than applying tons of shadow all in one go. Also, matte finish shadows–as opposed to shimmery or frosty ones–generally stay longer on  the lids.

A couple of eye primers: Stila Prime Pot and Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer

Use waterproof foundation and eye products if you have them. These really make a difference in terms of longevity. Keep in mind though that waterproof make-up will usually require special removers. Oh and if you will only ever invest in one waterproof product, let it be mascara.

From top to bottom: Max Factor Colour Perfection Pencil Eyeliner; MAC Loud Lash (this mascara really does not budge, but it can be difficult to remove afterwards); Maybelline Hyper Curl Mascara; and K-Palette Real Lasting Liquid Eyeliner

A make-up fixative is helpful, but not necessary. After you’ve finished applying your products, hold the fixative about 12 inches away from your face and spritz 3-4 times to cover your face and neck; wait awhile and then blot the excess lightly with a facial tissue. This should help your look stay in place even longer.

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Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix

Retouching is key. During the course of the day (or night), lightly blot any areas that have gotten a tad shiny with oil absorbency sheets or one sheet of facial tissue. Dust powder lightly only on the areas that need it, since applying all over could make you look cakey. Assuming you applied your makeup well in the first place, the only other makeup product that you will need to reapply is lipstick/lip gloss.

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Missing the kitchen… and my baon!

No kitchen in my dorm!
No such kitchen in my dorm! 😦

I don’t like it when I can’t cook, or when I’m staying in a place without a kitchen. Cooking’s always been my “escape”. I cook when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I just feel like it.  So imagine if I have to stay somewhere without a spatula or even a fridge?

My life’s been turned upside down for the past month. I started work with this special project, its grown-up stuff… meaning, boring and really, not related to cooking.  I moved back to my old dorm and even though I feel comfortable in it, there’s one thing missing: the kitchen. My dorm don’t allow any form of cooking, well, aside from the instant cup noodles that you just pour hot water in, there’s no way I could sneak in a portable stove without them noticing it, or smelling it.

Every day, I feel like I’m in a scavenger’s hunt for the food that I want to eat and bring to work.  Yes! I prepare my baon because my schedule is weird and when I work, I usually don’t like being bothered.  I live near a university, so food is really abundant.  But I’m also wary of the many possibilities that these foods are not properly prepared.

So, every day I try to look at the food, not caring if the customer next to me is annoyingly tapping her foot while waiting for me to finish my order.  I make a mental note of the food they offer that day, and if I decide to go back the next day, I’ll look at their menu and see if it’s a re-hash of yesterday’s offering.

I’m really not picky, but I do know the look of food when it’s fresh and it’s already been a day’s old.  I remember when I was still in high school. I don’t like bringing lunch boxes to school. I had that period where I wanted to look cool in front of the other students, so I would line-up in the cafeteria and scout for whatever piping hot food they had to offer.

For moms out there, maybe it’s added work if you pack your kids’ lunchboxes, but it’s always better to be safe than be sorry later.  I know cafeteria food is not as bad as it seems, but there’s just too much junk food available to your kids, and you’re not always there to regulate how much of it they take in. So, I suggest give them something nutritious to combat whatever junk they’ll put in their mouths come lunch time.  A packed lunch with some protein, carbs and a little amount of sweet will help your children get through the day.

Don’t worry, it might take time for kids to get used to having packed lunches, and they might even say that “it’s so not cool” bringing lunch kits at school, but believe me, they’ll get used to it eventually.  And if they’re hard-headed, just bring out your “mothers know best” card. I’m sure they can’t argue with that.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.