(Mostly) Plastic-free skincare

skincare plastic free mostly

I had heard about people trying to cut back on plastic products that they use in the bathroom/kitchen. So that got me thinking: are there skincare/body products that work, are affordable, easy to find at a local store, and don’t have plastic packaging? After a lot of trial and error, I have found some products that, mostly are plastic-free with sustainable packaging.

Face Wash/ Face Scrub: I used to be risk adverse about using bar soap to clean my face but Erno Laszlo  has cleansing bars including the sensitive cleansing bars formulated without a lot of harsh chemicals for the face. They actually clean without leaving a weird residue or over drying. Tory Burch swears by the mud bar one. If you get the 50 gr one its half the price and doesn’t come in a plastic container. I actually found a few sealed ones at T.J.Max for 7$! I found a face scrub at Trader Joes that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid and no plastic for it’s packaging: Blueberry and Acai facial scrub. It works and smells so nice!

Serums: A affordable serum line that actually works that I love is from The Ordinary The serums I use are the Hyaluronic acid for moisture which makes my skin plump and dewy. While the retinoid in 2% is for anti aging which I only use at night. I like retinoid better than retinal because retinal was too harsh on my skin that I got from my dermatologist. Retinal is even banned in some countries. Both serums come in glass vials. The cap is plastic, but the rest of the packaging is either rubber or glass, and the vials are small enough to be used for other things once finished. As for a moisturizer I list some below in the Spf section, but I feel like it is easier to find a moisturizer for the face that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid.

Face Masks: Your best option are Korean sheet masks that you can get from target or ulta. I found a clay mask that comes from target.com that is from White and Elm but it does have a plastic lid. It comes like a powder and you have to mix it with a little water then spread on the face. Its pretty good and my skin looks great using it! If you want another completely plastic free (hopefully) option, but more expensive and luxurious with imported clay from around the world you could also try: Artifact Skin co.

Body Lotion: Savannah Bee Company  sells creams that are made out of completely plastic free packaging that really softens the skin. You do have to dig your fingers into the jar but the cream is thick enough, while absorbing into the skin that it doesn’t feel like a chore, but rather a luxurious experience. The scent isn’t too strong, but that may depend on your tastes. It’s a great winter cream, but when my hands dry/crack in the winter I put some on and it stung really bad, but for my body it’s great and makes my feet/legs so soft! They also have hand creams which might be better. Burt’s Bees also sells a hand cream in a jar without plastic. Other skin options could be argon oil, which you can find a variety of brands selling in glass jars with vials, or other types of body oils. I also like the lotion from Weleda Skin food line, it comes in a metal tube with a plastic cap but it’s so rich and heavy. They also sell lighter versions of their creams and can be found at most natural stores.

Hair Shampoo: J. R. Liggett Shampoo Bar is available at whole foods, and I read great reviews about their shampoo bars. They do not have harsh detergents and really clean and shine my hair! I tried the moisturizing shampoo bar and it’s great! I also like that it makes carrying shampoo around on a trip so much easier. I also recommend the brand Lather  the Bamboo lemongrass hair wash makes my hair so shiny and soft. The packaging is ‘bio-degradable’ plastic BUT it will only biodegrade if the right conditions are met and that by only less than 50%. I also prefer their hair treatment: Avocado Mint hair repair. That’s the best hair mask I have ever tried! You could also use coconut oil for a hair treatment or essential oils like a few drops of lavender oil on the scalp for increasing blood circulation. I haven’t been able to find a good conditioner in a non plastic packaging, unfortunately. I will keep looking and update this page! But the J.R. Ligget shampoo bar is pretty good for conditioning/cleaning. You could also use a leave in conditioner but I haven’t found one that is in a non plastic packaging, yet. If you have suggestions I appreciate it! As for hair styling: artifact co. sells what I believe are plastic free hair styling products. I usually don’t style my hair anyway and just prefer to keep it natural and healthy. I do take the GNC women’s hair, skin, and nails vitamins, once every couple of days (because it does have a very high amount of supplements), after dinner.

Toothbrush/Toothpaste: It’s so hard to find sustainable toothpaste! I did find toothpaste from Weleda  that sells toothpaste that comes in a metal tube. It does have a plastic cap but oh well. It is a little pricey but heck how many plastic toothpaste containers do you use in a year and then just toss forever? Hopefully I can find a plastic free alternative that’s cheaper. I have used bamboo toothbrushes that actually work and cost the same amount as a regular toothbrush from Woo Bamboo  you can find them at Sprouts sometimes, and you may be able to find other brands that sell bamboo brushes. You could just try the traditional Middle Eastern toothbrush which comes from a special tree branch. It’s called a Miswak and could be sold at ethnic stores or online. As for floss I found some from Public goods dental floss its made from silk! You may have to get a membership, but their products are pretty cool with neat packaging some of which are plastic free. Unfortunately their dental floss is sold out so keep checking or message them!

Deodorant: I have tried so many organic/all natural deodorants. They either didn’t work, stained my clothes, or made me have lumps under my armpits! But miraculously at target.com I found this amazing deodorant that actually works and smells great: Little Seed farm  has a deodorant that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. It is a solid that you just swipe your finger over and when you put it on your arm pit it completely wipes off the finger and adheres to the armpit skin. It doesn’t feel gross or leave a mess on my clothes and so far I haven’t had a reaction to it. It is aluminum and baking soda free. I got the grapefruit lemon scent from target.com and it’s amazing! I love when a product solves so many problems all at once. I have also used it while exercising and it did the job, no b.o.! It is 14$ but think about how many deodorants you use and then toss in a year? So much waste! This one, a little goes a long way and you get a lot. One thin layer is all it takes for me. I also get my armpits waxed so that helps in reducing the amount I have to put on as well as keeping the pits cleaner/hygienic. Is that TMI? I don’t know, lol.

Body wash/hand soap: For body I use Irish spring body soap, it cleans without drying, and doesn’t leave a residue on my skin. As for hand soap, I would say use a antibacterial hand soap bar or a refillable hand soap brand like Common Good co . You can buy a soap and on their website they have locations in a lot of cities where you can just go and pay to refill your soap (as well as other products for you or the household). Check if your city has a refilling station. I personally love this idea and need to visit one of the refill stations in my city to see if they carry the products I need, thus eliminating the need to buy another plastic container! For a body scrub I would either just make my own with: baby oil/body oil, honey, and sugar or you could use a scrub mitten that works well too, I got one from H-mart for like a dollar and it really works! Just make sure to take a bath first to soften the skin or it may be too hard on the skin.

SPF/Sunblock: This was a hard one to find as well! I found from a brand called Coola  that sells sunblock products that some of which come in a glass container. Available at Ulta, they are also mostly all natural and the one I linked won’t block your pores. Another would be from Dr. Jart + which is plastic free but expensive. It has color correcting and is a moisturizer so you may get more bang for your buck depending on your skin concerns. I also found Josie Maran spf 47 there’s a smaller size that’s a little cheaper. It comes in a glass bottle but the pump is plastic. It is also a moisturizer made from argon oil, so that may suit some individuals tastes as well as having a higher spf.

Well that’s my skincare suggestions for you. If you have any suggestions post below or on my instagram! I will try to update this article as I find new products that are plastic-free! Thanks again!

Summer Skincare

My favorite skincare for summer plus reviews of Erno Laszlo!

During summer, additional skincare concerns crop up: blackheads, sunburn, etc. The weather is hot and applying skincare seems heavy to the skin. Here are some easy products to use that get the job done quick and will keep your skin looking great all summer!

For getting rid of blackheads, while living in Japan, I learned a method that they use to keep their skin clean, bright, and moisturized:

step 1: pat your face with a hot towel, carefully, so as not to burn your face. This will open up the pores so that the dirt in them can get dislodged. You can heat water and dip a clean towel in it to heat. Squeeze out some of the hot water and pat face. Your face does not have to be wet and you do not have to pat your face for too long maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

step 2: your face shouldn’t be wet (you can pat dry excess water), then put some cleansing oil on your hands and rub in circular motions on your face. Cleansing oil is a Godsend for Asian skin and people who have blackheads, dry or super oily skin. The reason is that cleansing oil deep cleans but also moisturizers your skin, and depending on the type it can have other effects. Down below are my favorites:

Sekkisei cleansing oil. I’ve been using this product for years. It used to be sold at Bath and Body works. It brightens the skin and makes it soft and shiny. This is personally my favorite. They have a new version for 28$ Can order online in the U.S.
As per Tory Burch’s recommendation (she’s in her 50s but looks 30), I tried the cleansing oil and it’s amazing. Tory Burch uses the sea mud cleansing bar from this brand and I got it for my mom and she loves it! This travel set, with a small cleansing oil and sea mud bar, retails for 28$ and lasts a long time.
Tatcha Cleansing oil, pricey but works! Lasts a long time.

step 3: a final step to take, after rinsing off the cleansing oil is to use a clay mask to further clean. I would only use a clay mask once or twice a week. However the hot towel + cleansing oil routine you can do once a day. I usually do cleansing oil at night, and use a much gentler cleanser in the morning. A long time favorite clay mask is the Lancome white clay mask. It used to be 20$ now it’s 36$ (boo) but it works! I’ve also tried the Borgese clay masks they come in big jars and make skin soft/supple. A little pricey though. But there’s also clay masks from Korean brands that may be more affordable. Check out sokoglam.com for affordable Korean skincare!

Next for summer: Don’t forget sunblock! My favorite sunblocks are Japanese, and if you are lucky enough to be able to buy affordable Japanese sunblock, please let me know your source! Otherwise try my favorite: Shiseido sunblock in spf 50. It has to be spf 50. That will provide ultimate protection from sunburn. I like the milky texture as it makes it easy to apply (there’s also a cream version in a smaller container that’s around 20$). It will give a white sheen to your face but should sink in. It’s easy to apply makeup or other products on top. This product is also recommended by Tory Burch. You can just apply this product and head out for the day, but I recommend putting on some kind of light toner/moisture before hand. It’s very important to do deep cleaning and remove it as soon as you get back indoors for the day, as sunblock can block pores. Your other options are a sun hat, sun gloves, sun umbrella (women in Asia use them, why did American ladies stop? lol), or you can use a car shade (sometimes you can use a child car shade does the same trick). Another option is to use mixed products like sunblock plus foundation, (such as by Laneige with spf 50 foundation compacts), but I’m not sure how resistant they are to sweat.

During the summer the skin can get dry but who wants to have heavy lotions on? You can use a light moisturizer such as an emulsion, like one from Laneige. An emulsion is like a lotion but lighter. Any Korean one should do. You can opt for the Mizon snail cream. It’s light but has so many added bonuses. It’s one of my favorite moisturizers right now. Also if you need touch ups through out the day you can use the Inglot face spray. I have searched high and low for a face spray that isn’t 30$ plus that doesn’t have alcohol (it’s 10$). I actually discovered this product in Milan and love it. Also good for setting makeup. Otherwise you can make your own spray too with rose water, for example. I love homemade!

I hope this list helps you with skincare for summer concerns! Thanks again! #Hotlanta Dont forget to check out my instagram @tehminberry

Milan in a Day

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I originally had no plan to visit Milan this summer. But then after searching forever, I realized that Milan was one of the only cities that had nonstop flights to Santorini, Greece. That being said, I was really amazed by the city, however brief it was! Milan has amazing shopping, tons of Italian fashion brands that I’ve never heard of, and a branch of every fashion brand. I would say that Milan is probably better than NYC for shopping! Not only that, the city was, green, clean, and felt pretty safe. The local Italians were very friendly too, probably because the city has many famous models and visitors (I saw a male model walking around in front of the cathedral so who knows who you will see when you go)!

When we first arrived me and my friend, took a taxi to our Airbnb. The Milan airport is far from the city. We had a conversation with our driver and he asked us how we felt about Trump. Milan has quite a few famous places to eat and shop, but the main square with the Milan Cathedral is right next to the famous mall or the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

We went shopping and nearby grabbed a treat at Cova. I would recommend for breakfast either Cova or Pave’, for dinner/lunch visit Carlo E Camilla or Tagiura Di Angeloti Rino Snc (they have a beautiful covered courtyard and delicious affordable food) or Da Michele I Condurro for pizza. I wanted to visit LuBar a place to eat inside of the GAM Museum but we just didn’t have the time. Uber exists in Milan. Milan has a good public transportation system and the city is walkable.  It’s a good idea to have reservations for dinner. Most restaurants are closed on Monday and a lot of eateries have random hours or days that they are not open. So double check! Another option is to visit the Brera design district and walk around to see the sights.

Fancy Cova! I loved the cannoli!

On our second trip to Milan (after we returned from Santorini, Greece) the taxi driver couldn’t find our new Airbnb on google maps! Our Airbnb was in a newly build apartment complex not too far from the city. A lady (more like an angel) appeared out of nowhere. She said she’d help us find our Airbnb. She was with her daughter and spoke English. She was so kind and helpful. Without her help we would have been stuck outside or had to turn back. She invited us into her apartment and out of the heat. When we finally got in touch with our Airbnb host, I forgot my phone in her apartment and when I realized I forgot it, my friend called the lady. She had been waiting outside the apartment building trying to return it! She was a Godsend. It’s moments like these that make travel so special. To see the humanity and kindness of strangers.

While I was still in America, doing research about where to eat in Milan, there had been a place I wanted to eat, but felt it was too far away. It had amazing reviews and a beautiful courtyard. It was called da Kico, and amazingly, the restaurant was walking distance from our Airbnb! How things fall in place. After a long and stressful morning me and my friend enjoyed a lovely dinner there.

Beautiful restaurant called Da Kico with buffet menu. Not expensive at all for the quality! It was packed with locals, and served delicious seafood among other specialties of the region (a lot of octopus dishes, which I found surprising in Italian cuisine)!

I hope you enjoyed this mini guide to Milan. I would totally visit again Thanks again!

Florence Italy Guide

Travels in Firenze Italy

For many years, I had wanted to travel to the Tuscan region of Italy. Florence, or Firenze, is one of the main cities in that region. With beautiful greenery, hills, famous sights, it’s also the home of famous fashion brands, (such as Gucci), and has delicious food.

I did a lot of my research about Florence, from an American girl who lives there: Girl in Florence. Thanks to her recommendations, me and my friend had delicious food, gelato, and brunch in our time there! Check out her blog for other recommendations!

The kitchen of our cute Airbnb! The lady was so nice! Me and my friend wished we had asked her what she does (I think she made jewelry for a living), because she had a amazing place in Florence!

Florence is a city for walking or riding the bus (there is no metro!). Bus tickets are sold at tobacco shops, (which there are many) or other convenience stores. Almost everything is closed on Sunday, except for some places to eat, so make sure you buy your bus ticket before Sunday (you can buy your ticket on the bus too, but need exact change, even so by Sunday afternoon the bus stops selling tickets, even if they still run). Most restaurants are closed on Monday in Italy, so double check if something is open. For dinner I recommend that you make a reservation. This is the rule of thumb I would apply for most cities in Europe (because some will turn you away). I would suggest you book a hotel or Airbnb close to the places you want to see, in Florence, because really walking is your best bet. Google maps can also tell you which bus to take to get to where you want to go or ask someone.

Bardini Gardens or Giardino Bardini 
Many do not know about this park which is a easy climb not too far from the main river. One can see the beautiful Duomo from here. 

There are tons of tourists in Florence (rightfully so)! We went to the Bardini Gardens which I had read about on many blogs. I loved the views and the fact that no one was around! It’s not too big, and easy to see and walk around with panoramic views of the city! A great way to start your day (most parks are closed by sunset).

There are many famous museums to see, try to book online in advance to save time (you may have to pay a few Euros more), and don’t believe individuals standing around trying to sell you a ticket or telling you you will have to wait a long time before you can go in, unless you buy their ‘special’ ticket.

What I love about Tuscany is the green hills and beautiful homes. Florence is also known for a famous bridge called the Ponte Vecchio. It has nice jewelry shops, though expensive. 
Per recommendation from the blog I mentioned above, we tried Gelato from My Sugar. This guy who makes the gelato (fresh by hand) won awards for his unique orange-cinnamon flavor. I usually don’t care for fruity ice cream, but it was so good! I also loved his pistachio and hazelnut flavors!  We kept going back it was so good!
Brunch at Ditta Artigianale. It’s popular with foreigners and locals. It has American style breakfast, some others, and coffee. In Italy many places if you say you want a latte, will not understand what you want. I ordered a Turkish breakfast with a side of pancakes and a couple of lattes. So good! It’s also not too far from the famous sights and has multiple locations. 
The beautiful Duomo, our host recommended to NOT climb to the top.
Naked David. This is the original David carved by Michelangelo. Statue is located in Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze  that can be seen in about 15 to 30 minutes. He’s amazing to look at, but I find it weird that some were taking selfies with his ‘package’ in the background. 
We had our dinner at this beautiful restaurant. Make sure to have reservations for dinner! They also have a bar with desserts on display! 

I would suggest that even if you are on vacation it’s a good idea to have one chill day out of the week. We actually used that day to go do laundry, lol. Coming from Atlanta, most people do not use a laundry mat unless theirs’s is broken. In other big cities it’s normal to use one and looking back for the long trip we had (or if you don’t like to travel with too much luggage), I’m so glad my friend pressured me into going. We went to a local grocery store called COOP, bought detergent packets, and zip laundry bags. I bought some things like, locally made coffee beans and soaps, that made such neat gifts! We got fruit to snack on and went to a café for coffee that was inside the grocery store. After a week of being on the go non-stop, I had such relief to do our laundry, be chill, and do as the locals do. It was a lot of fun to see all the cool ingredients for Italian food that they use in their home too and to see what American brands they use. The laundry mat’s in Europe can be super fancy: they have music playing, a coffee machine, and are pretty cheap (the one we went to had a machine that exchanges bills into coins).

To get to Florence you can ride a train into the city from most other cities. We flew from Berlin to Bologna, Italy then rode a 35 minute train into Florence ( so it is possible to make a day trip as that is also an amazing ancient city to see close to Florence). I bought my ticket online in America before arriving. I chose that route because it was difficult to find affordable flights straight into Florence from Berlin. Florence has a main train station the Santa Maria Novella train station (but no train stops throughout the city). Most of the famous sights are not too far from this train station. Also I suggest day trips into the Tuscan countryside, (check out the Girl in Florence’s blog I mentioned above). Actually at the time we were visiting, Obama and his family were visiting the Tuscan region as well.

For shopping: the blog I mentioned gives lots of suggestions. I love Italian bags so I suggest going to Mia Bag. They have a store right by the Duomo and they are so stylish and trendy. Most of the bags are in the $200~range or below, but I feel like for the price you are getting a beautiful bag that other more known brands would double if not triple the price. There’s also Liu Jo which sells beautiful clothes and bags that are little more affordable, and I saw many Italian ladies carrying pieces from them. Mia Bag also has a store in Milan.

Well I hope this guide helps in your next Italian adventure! Stay posted for my trip to Milan next (mA)! Thanks again!

Berlin on a Budget

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I had always been curious about visiting Germany. When my friend suggested visiting Berlin, I was like sure thing!

Outside of our Airbnb. 

First thing, when we arrived in Berlin it was super warm out. We reached our Airbnb and decided to walk around the neighborhood to find a place to eat. That evening we tried to think of what to do next and my friend found on a website ‘free things to do in Berlin’ and found out about watching a outdoor movie. It wasn’t free and she bought our tickets online. They were pretty cheap I think around 7 euros which isn’t bad for a evening show.

We ate this delicious egg pasta at Mirabelle. It was across the street from a park that had bee farms. Food is (usually) uber cheap in Berlin and there’s a lot of Turkish places to eat kebabs. 
When the weather is good, Berliners go outside! It was an awesome experience as I love doing what the locals do! They provide free chairs/blankets (and you can buy drinks/snacks). When we first arrived we were kind of nervous because the park was hidden behind abandoned looking buildings with graffiti, and broken windows (Berlin is covered in ‘cool’ graffiti we came to learn), but we saw others walking around and when we figured out where it was, felt safe (as there was a line of people there).

It became packed soon enough. That was like the most fun thing we decided to do! The movie we watched was hilarious, and it was so fun to watch the movie (with English subtitles) with other young German’s and foreigners. I was surprised by how much English Germans use. Here’s the link: Freiluftkino Kreuzberg

Once you figure out the metro system it’s pretty efficient and safe. It’s also really cheap! I think for a week pass, at the time, it was just ~7 euros. The next day we went to the German landmarks which are kind of situated in a particular part of the city and easy to walk around. There is also a huge park called Tiergarten, near the monuments such as Brandenburg Gate, which me and my friend found refreshing to walk around. It was also great because the weather was so sunny and amazing mA!

Berliner Dom. It has a river right by it and is beautiful!

We also went to the Do You Read Me?! independent book store which isn’t too far from the sites. Berlin has some a lot of cool shops to see here and there as you walk around and you can find affordable options. We also headed to the Bikini Mall which is mix of price ranges. We also went to museums. The DDR museum is really small (like you can see everything in 15 minutes). We went to the Neues Museum, which has the sculpture of Nefertiti’s head, which was gifted by the British to Germany long ago. Many museums in Europe, have stunning dining areas which I totally recommend checking out me and my friend had lunch at the museum which saved us a lot of time. There are other museums right next to the Neues. The museum’s are walking distance from the Berliner Dom. They are not free, but the Neues Museum is worth checking if you are into Egyptian and ancient German history.

For dinner we were famished and decided to eat Turkish kebab! I was so happy. The place we went to is called Ruya Gemuse Kebab. It’s highly rated, and Germans were gorging on the wraps in the middle of the street even with limited seating. It was super fresh and the staff were uber friendly.

Well I hope this guide helps in your stay at Berlin! I wish I could have stayed longer and I really liked the vibes of the city. It’s fascinating to see how a people and a city picked themselves up after tremendous war and destruction. It shows the human spirit and its capability for change and growth.

With fried veggies, mint leaves, sauces, cheese, and chicken…everything was so delicious and fresh. It was huge and so flavorful! For me and my friend plus water we paid only around 10 euros.

Manchester in a Day

Exploring Manchester

Manchester is a cool city with hipster vibes, a lot of street art, and friendly people! I really enjoy visiting cities that are not super crowded, and are easy to get around. The reason I ended up visiting Manchester was because I found a deal to go there from my home city and that way I was able to continue on to other cities in Europe! The best way to find a deal to travel is pick non traditional routes to visit then fly out to other cities you want to visit. For instance, if I chose to fly to London, it would be uber expensive, but Manchester is just over 2 hour train ride from London, and I can still go to other cities in Europe as I choose! Another way is to sign up with apps or websites that alert you to deals for routes you like. That’s how I found out about a deal to Europe. Another tip is to buy your ticket for trips abroad (or locally) in January-February, March at the latest. That’s when airlines post cheap deals. Also consider alternative means of travel for instance, train or bus. In Europe, sometimes, trains are faster and cheaper to travel than airplanes.

I had visited Manchester before, after graduating high school, and didn’t know what to think, but I was pleasantly surprised. However I have some unfortunate news though, it was one week later, after my day there with a friend, that the Manchester bombing happened. It was shocking to read about it while still being in Europe. I feel I should mention that the entire time I was in Manchester I felt safe, welcome, and everyone I spoke to was very warm and friendly (a vibe you don’t get everywhere in Europe towards Americans these days). Unfortunately, terrorism or mass attacks are happening in the world and it really is sad that it makes traveling risky and puts everyone’s lives in danger. Still, I believe that the ‘war on terror’ is making things worse for everyone, and it is foolish to believe that war will end the attacks. However, I want to discuss the positive things about his cool city and hope that this blog post will help people, and encourage others to visit Manchester!

Me and my friend stayed at an airbnb (my first foray into airbnbs) and it was absolutely perfect! The airport is not far from Manchester city and it helps to have international phone service (which my friend got a phone plan for her travels from Sprint) to be able to call the taxi (I’m not sure if uber is in Manchester? Still you can ride the train into Manchester city too).

The lady we stayed with in her pretty home was walking distance to the tram (more like a train) and we rode into the City Center. Tickets are pretty cheap and it’s easy to navigate. We had originally planned to go to the Peak District, the English countryside, and go to Bakewell, a English town/village, eat Bakewell tarts, and visit Chatsworth House a castle where some films have been made. Sadly, it was supposed to rain so we opted to stay in the city (I still got to try the famous Bakewell tart towards the end of my trip to Europe! It was delicious!).

Street art in Manchester

First order of business was grabbing coffee. We went to Moose Coffee, and we got latte’s to go, it was really good. We went to Primark, M&S and looked at cakes to eat (really good and cheap), and checked out other shops. We wanted to have afternoon tea and looked up Sugar Junction, but it was under renovation so we couldn’t go that day! Still there’s lots of places to have high tea or afternoon tea. You should make reservationsf for high tea and can also do so online at Sugar Junction. Perfect for out-of-towners!

Inside Moose Coffee. It also sells American food. I was surprised by how many ‘American’ restaurants there are in Manchester. I feel it’s difficult to classify American food. But going to Europe this time around, a lot of the popular places to eat and especially grab ‘brunch’ and lattes (American style with a glass cup and latte art) were everywhere. Even in cities that traditionally pride themselves in their own culture, maybe the hipsters/millennial/ broke young person (LOL) is too hard to resist or easy to relate to? Or maybe gentrification and it’s effects on culture and cities is a thing everywhere? Maybe in Europe it’s different, certainly American style places have been popular, but makes me wonder how do these things catch on and why. Still I was happy with my delicious latte! 

I wanted to visit Selfridges at Manchester Exchange Square. At that particular Selfridges, in the beauty section they sell the brand RMK

I have known about that brand for years. It’s Japanese, and I believe only sold in the U.K. outside of Japan. I had bought their foundation which I LOVE. I originally bought some foundation from the airport in Japan on my way to China, and it is also recommended by many Japanese magazines. If you happen to be in the U.K. I suggest checking online on RMK’s global site to see which store carries the RMK brand and try their makeup out!

Right across from this particular Selfridges, is a famous cathedral and we also grabbed food at the pub across the street. Got to eat a pub at least once, which is kind of part of English culture and food is pretty cheap in there too!

All in all I enjoyed my time in Manchester, even if it was for just a day. I hope this short guide helps!

Got my Bakewell Tart! I just randomly stumbled upon this cafe in the airport on the way out back to America. God listen’s to every little wish we make, even a wish to eat a tart from a small town in U.K. haha. From Pork & Pickle (there is no pork in this tart, just saying)!


Islam vs. the Patriarchy: how Islam fought for women’s rights, and how Islam is being used by some Muslim ruling elite and Non-Muslim elite alike to push for war

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Islam tried to get rid of the patriarchy, and in many cases it worked. Islam put limits on how many wives a man could marry, as long as a man treated his wives equally, but being a humanistic religion, the Koran says a man will never be able to treat them equally. I believe the reason it says this is because what Islam wanted, eventually, was to have a society where men only would want to marry one woman. But if Islam imposed just one wife plus celibacy until marriage, no man at that time would convert. At that time men had harems of women, plus mistresses.

Women could divorce if they wanted to, did not have to die if their husbands died, and could remarry as many times as they wanted to. Women in Saudi Arabia and many parts of the world did not have these basic rights. After Islam, women could inherit property, buy/own/sell property, vote, and their husbands had to provide for them, while if a woman chose to work, he could not, nor his family, take anything from her. Even if a family is poor, the husband has no right to take anything that belongs to his wife. In some cases women inherit more then men, but other times men inherit more, because men have to provide in Islam. For women they can choose to work or not work.

Female infanticide was abolished. Islam did not abolish slavery, but in the Koran, it says over and over, to free a slave in order to earn good deeds or seek forgiveness from God. I think it would have been too difficult to abolish slavery because people would not convert as it would hurt their lifestyle or businesses, or so they thought. Eventually slavery ended, (but a modern form of slavery persists in the world) as people began to realize it was wrong. Slaves were given rights, a slave-master could not force himself on a female slave. And if a child was born, the child was legitimate, could inherit, and had to be treated like any other child of a man. There is no concept of a illegitimate child in Islam. Labor had rights, they had to be paid before their sweat dried. Anyone could become Muslim, ALL races were equal. Animals had rights. Children had rights, for instance once a child was a teen a parent cannot force a child to practice Islam. A young person can practice and their conviction or oath of faith is accepted if they can tell the difference between right and wrong.

Even so in 2017, some Muslim and non-Muslim societies are ignorantly against the basic concepts of Islam and human rights are abused. Sometimes Muslims treat other Muslims badly. There is such a thing as a self-hating Muslim. It’s hard to not wonder if the faith is messed up because of a few rotten apples. For instance, a lot of people question why did the Prophet marry Aisha who was so young? Here is my take on it:

Aisha was not just any girl off the street: she was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad’s best friend. His friend was rich, and from a wealthy family. What did he have to gain from the Prophet when the Prophet was poor? Nothing. Then why would a father let his daughter marry someone if he thought it was bad? He wasn’t in a unfortunate situation and Prophet Muhammad barely could give Aisha anything for the wedding. Maybe connections? Politics? Maybe. But Aisha’s father had been Prophet Muhammad’s best friend for years. He already had a solid relationship.

Aisha was the only person who was very young that he married. Everyone else, was either a widow or a divorcee. If he had a ‘thing’ for kids he could have married many more if he wanted to, but didn’t.

Prophet Muhammad, didn’t have children with any of his wives except his first whom Aisha was jealous of, even though she had died many years ago. Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was Khadija, she was 40, his boss, a widow, and SHE proposed to him when he was 25. Even in 2017 these are unusual things. He accepted her proposal and he loved her the most. He had 7 kids with her. After she died, he was devastated. He practiced contraception with his future wives because he didn’t want them to have to raise children alone as he had so many commitments. At that time, a man desired many wives, and many children, especially sons. All of Prophet Muhammad’s sons died during or after birth, so for a man of that time doesn’t it make sense that he would want a million sons to secure his future? But no he doesn’t try with any of is wives even when he was young and could easily have remarried to do so.

At that time, (we are talking about 1400+ years ago) child marriage was completely the norm, in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In Europe it happened all the time even up until the 1900s (check link). Reasons for this happening are numerous, but Islam makes a difference between forced and consent. In Islam a woman, man, or child cannot be forced to marry. But a very young person is old enough to know whether they want to marry or not, and Aisha was engaged to another man prior to Prophet Muhammad.

Aisha was a warrior, she lead a battle, she worked, she would ride camel’s/horses herself, and was a leader in the community. Long after Prophet Muhammad died she carried on as a distinguished figure in Saudi Arabia. She never said anything bad about Prophet Muhammad even after many years past his death.

Even so it is 2017, and the world has changed. I don’t agree with child marriage, but then again children are having sex. I’m not saying they should marry, but if elementary school kids are having sex, that means they have the desire. If they are sleeping with kids their age that’s one thing, but if they are sleeping with someone older then it’s bad? It’s still all bad and sad to me and this is happening in America, including the rest of the world. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you they have had a patient come in where the child was in elementary school and she was pregnant. Problems are everywhere in every society, pointing fingers won’t solve the problems. Terrorism is not a new thing and is not solely carried out by people who claim to be Muslim, but unfortunately America continues wars that will only lead to more death and destruction. In Islam indiscriminate killing is not allowed and though there are quotes of killing, that is under the context of war with very strict conditions that have to be met. People of course will have their own interpretation and will misquote the Koran in order to serve their agenda or vision of hate, including those who claim to be Muslims. It’s called politics, in the sense that if you have an enemy, isn’t it easier garner support to get rid of them if you can claim moral superiority or convince people to your interpretation of the law? Isn’t it easier to further an agenda for a country by claiming its a common threat to national security? That’s why there are so many dictators who were once Army generals who thrive on power because of a system of hatred spewed by the media to convince the masses that the dictator is needed for security and war is the only option on the table to deal with the “kafirs, terrorists, heathens, pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Minority XYZ, Salem Witches, etc”? In fact, in Syria, the reason Assad claims to bomb his country is because it’s been infiltrated by terrorists. Or it could be what the media in America wants us to believe is the motive for why Assad is bombing his country. Terrorism is now the blank check for getting rid of whoever you want or need.

Rulers use faith, identity, society, the constitution, nationality, money, whatever the people identify with the most, that’s what a corrupt ruler/organization/media/family/ruling elite/etc., will use to get the masses to agree to something. It’s just history repeating itself over and over, with a few changes in names, places, and faces. Some Muslim rulers or the elite class, will abuse Islam and bend the rules in their favor, but try to convince others that their interpretation is the factual one. The media in America also presents its own interpretation of Islam, in order to serve it’s own agenda And different organizations/individuals many of whom are not American and/or are from abroad have paid millions to push a negative message (check link).

There will always be a new enemy, a new war. It was Hitler, the Japanese, The North Koreans, The communists, the Russians, the…and the list will go on. After ISIS will the war end? Here’s a quote:

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” George Orwell
English essayist, novelist, & satirist (1903 – 1950)


Venice Italy: Short Guide

We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.

Once when I was a child, I read a piece about Venice Italy in National Geographic. As I looked at the photos, one stood out to me: of a long-legged woman dressed in all black walking on a narrow path with both sides lined in water. A city on water. I also read that the city, because of global warming, was slowly sinking, and I imagined that woman running out of space to walk…the beautiful Italian architecture gone. That’s when I made a small wish to one day see that city.

Venice has huge appeal and is known to be a romantic spot, but one doesn’t have to wait till their honeymoon (or romantic interlude) to visit. Venice itself is very close to the mainland, and the Marco Polo airport (Marco Polo was from Venice!) is a short bus ride away. You can purchase your ticket to ride the bus without having to make reservations in advance. I’ve also heard of trains going into Venice from other cities. Once in Venice I would say just roam around and enjoy the views. It is hot in the summer, and cools down in the evening. There’s walkways and bridges everywhere so it’s easy to get around on foot. Try to get a hotel close to the entrance of Venice, that way you don’t have to lug your luggage around as there are no cars/roads in Venice! Me and my friend stayed at the Venice Hotel Arlecchino . It was right by where the bus’s drop off from the airport. You can see the famous sights in a day. Gondola rides are kind of expensive, almost 100$ but you can split the cost with up to 6 people.

Venice is known for some things, such as glass products, but what I love about Italy is: the cheap coffee,  delicious food, desserts, and Gelato! You will see leather goods too, another thing I love that Italy is known for (if you buy from a local craftsman or lady, the prices are really good, some leather products being less than 100$). There were also some affordable clothing stores as well. The only thing I regret not doing is seeing the Bridge of Sighs and the Da Vinci Museum however there are other Da Vinci musuems such as the one in Florence. Here are some places I went to eat and try that I observed were less touristy (I’m not a snob! Lol what I mean is I observed Italian’s eating from these places):

A nice break from walking. I think that the cafe was called Hausbrandt (as written on the dishes) Their dessert was fresh and delicious! In Italy you drink coffee at the counter. Take away/table service is an additional charge. 



This is a chocolate shop that makes other things including pistachio spread: Italy has amazing Pistachio’s! I bought some chocolates to gift to my family, and they loved it! 

Drugstore Gems: Cheap Skincare


Alot of people say I do not look my age, and ask me for skincare recommendations. I don’t mind dishing out the deets: I actually like it. Unfortunately, a lot of skincare is very expensive, and there can be pressure to look a certain way for women. However, I have been using a combination of skincare products, and drugstore products do work!

I have been using skincare products since maybe middle school. I would as a child watch my mom taking care of her skin. I have been doing some basic things which have probably helped a lot: wash, moisturize, protect. Here are my suggestions:

Cleansing: In the morning/night I use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and every once in a while I use the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit. The Cetaphil is very gentle and slightly moisturizing but it will not wash off makeup. It comes in a huge bottle that lasts forever so it’s worth the price. The Neutrogena is stronger and great for washing off most makeup or for preventative measures against zits/pimples. I never had acne growing up, but its a good cleanser, though a little strong. I have to apply some toner or moisturizer after using the acne wash, but I usually do anyway.

Serums/Moisturizers: It took me a while to find a good moisturizer from the drugstore. They were either too heavy or too light. You can technically use any toner or even rose water for instance, then apply serum and moisturizer (day and night). I really like the Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream. Using in conjunction with a toner and the Loreal Revitalift Volume Filler Serum it really works! I use the cream during the day, and at night I use the the toner+serum+moisturizer. It makes my skin smooth and soft looking, not greasy at all. The Aveeno cream is I believe 15$ and the Loreal Serum is 20$, both at Target.com. Other options that I loved from Target were Korean brands, like Laneige. However they have moved, from Target and are available on their website and will become available at Sephora later in the summer.

Other Gems: Target or drugstores have other gems that I have been using for years. I really like Physician’s Formula powders. I use their translucent powder to set my makeup using a Sonia Kashuk powder brush. The brushes last for years and are a bargain. Buy the individual brushes, they are better quality. Sonia Kashuk is only available at Target, and Physician’s Formula usually has a section in most drugstores/Target. I also really like the Ivory Body Wash if you need a recommendation there. If you need a body cream to help get rid of dead skin/bumps on your skin a dermatologist recommended to me the Eucerin line (advanced repair or smoothing repair) that has AHA in it. However AHA will make your skin sensitive to the sun so wear sunblock.

Some additional good news: Peach and Lily will be bringing some Korean skincare lines to CVS Pharmacy soon at different price points and affordable items too! Check out their website/blog for more details.

*Pro-tip: skincare is not just about what you buy and apply to your skin. It’s mostly about your lifestyle: stay hydrated, sleep well, eat well (but not too much), exercise, wear hats/sun gloves/put car shades/wear sunglasses/ or just avoid the sun. Keeping clean. Don’t drink/do drugs/or smoke. Too much caffeine is bad for your skin and fat free dairy products affect skin too. Don’t stress yourself out. I think out of all of these, sleep is so important to skincare, low stress, staying hydrated, and avoid the sun. You can fake a tan! It’s not worth the permanent damage. It’s better to get some sleep then stay up thinking at night or playing on your phone (as tempting as it is), waking up at a reasonable time, and then try to find solutions to your problems. Just saying. I know it’s hard, but you will feel so much better. Everyone has problems (no matter how perfect their social media accounts) or fat their bank accounts. Even so, if things are going well for others wish them well. If things are working out for others that means there is hope. Think of that.

I hope these suggestions help as they can save you time and money given the convenience.  Thanks again and check back soon!


Atlanta: city guide


I have lived in Atlanta for almost twenty years. I moved from up north, down here with family, and though at first had mixed feelings about my home city, I came to really appreciate it after living in DC for a year (and traveling all over the world). For one thing people are really friendly here (out of all the cities I have visited in America), the weather is great, lots of food options, and (if you have a car) its got culture too. The thing is that there is urban sprawl so you may discover a neat place in a random corner of the city. It’s got a little bit of everything with different (though smaller) unique hoods. Whatever your tastes, background, and style, there’s something for everyone.

Pro-tip*: Atlanta has gotten to have really bad traffic. So if you are out of town here are some suggestions before beginning your travails: You can take the train to the airport and to other parts of Atlanta, but not all sadly. Traffic is low between Mon-Wednesday from 10 am to 2:30pm. Before and after that it gets crazy, but traffic dies down after 8pm again. Try to coordinate your plans during those times. Thursday and Friday people seem to get out early so those days are kinda busy. As for the weekend, Saturday popular areas will get busy by 2:00pm as people go out for lunch. Sunday is usually the best day to do whatever you need to. Start early.

Where to grab coffee: Chattahoochee Coffee Company,  6640 Akers Mill Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339

They have a few locations, but this location is situated inside of a apartment complex right by the Chattahoochee river. They have great coffee and the views are beautiful, a really unique experience. They are open Mon-Fri to the public and have limited parking. Come early!

Another option I like is Rev Coffee in Smyrna by Cumberland mall. They have ample parking in the back. The only thing though is that it’s a suburban kind of location, so they may be out of the way for some. For those looking for a something closer to the city try Octane. They have a few locations including one by Lenox Square mall, one right by the High museum of art, and one in Grant Park.  If you are a animal lover, like other cities Atlanta has jumped onto the cat cafe bandwagon: Java Cats Cafe and I’m so happy! Must make reservations (can find link on their Instagram).

Where to get a unique cultural experienceBuford Highway. It’s basically a long road with Asian cafes and restaurants. Check out the Buford Highway Farmers market: they have international offerings and fresh Korean food served everyday. If you want bubble tea check out Quickly, hot pot check out Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot or traditional Korean food Cho Dang Tofu House-Korean Restaurant  . I personally love Asian food and this area has it all.

If you want a Euro experience try Chateau Elan , it has a winery, spa, and beautiful grounds at just an hour outside Atlanta. I’ve been many times and they have excellent food.

Atlanta, historically, is known for the civil rights movement, civil war sights, Gone with the Wind‘s author Margaret Mitchell House, and my childhood favorite Etowah Indian Mounds about an hour outside of Atlanta. Many native American cultures are represented in GA.

Now the next recommendation is something I try to take everyone from out of a town: a 24/7 Korean sauna/spa Jeju Sauna this would be a great option for travelers as it is a cultural plus spa experience for every gender. They have a mixed area and then a private area for the sexes. Just be prepared to see naked people on whichever side you enter. But when you get out to the main area you’re supposed to wear the pjs they provide for you (ladies the pjs are a tshirt and shorts, so if your legs arn’t waxed I would recommend wearing leggings under the shorts, when going into the mixed area). They also have Korean food to eat (not included in the admission price) but it’s pretty cheap. I believe the cafeteria closes at 2 am but double check if you’re coming in late and need food.

Where to get dessert: This is a place that does not compare nor exist in other cities! A European cafe with delicious dessert selection including, cheesecakes, cake, pies, tarts, and sometimes tres leches, not only that they have delicious drinks, and are open late with reasonable parking: Cafe Intermezzo . Their food is ok, but much prefer their dessert. If you are looking for ice cream try: Yogurtland they have the best fro yo flavors; this a brand originally from California.

Where to eat: I suggested some authentic Asian places above. I would generally avoid places where tourists go because the lines are crazy. Here are some great suggestions: For burgers Bocado get the herb fries they are worth it (and supposedly the place serves halal), a famous spot is The Varsity, and we got a Shake Shack too. Pizza: For Italian style I like Antico Pizza (though usually busy), Fellini’s, and the reliable Mellow Mushroom. For southern food try JCT Kitchen, Empire State South (pricey), and The Southern Gentleman, all are super fancy and the last one is located in a luxury shopping area. Cheap sushi? Try: Ru Sans. Another southern tradition among the fancy/cultured set is High tea or afternoon tea. I have yet to try that out here.

Where to Play or go out: Top golf, great for groups. Crescent Avenue has a bunch of clubs, as does Buckhead area. There’s some places on Edgewood, but if it’s early, the weather is freezing, or there is no major celebratory event (like Cinco de Mayo), it’s usually empty at night. Ponce City Market has a rooftop golf area. Run/walk see the Beltline, it’s basically a long road that cuts through different areas but on google its called Eastside Beltline Trail. Count on southerners to give their own name to everything. The website I provided gives more things to do along that route.

Where to shopBridge Boutique a small shop with different brands. It’s very small, but I’ve gotten some unique pieces. Besides Lenox Mall which is a favorite (it’s like one of the best malls I’ve been to in America, for one it’s not too big, and it has a range of stores), luxury brands are in Phipps Plaza and The Shops Buck Head Atlanta, there’s also a Nordstrom Rack not too far from Lenox Square mall. For ethnic clothing (like Pakistani), there aren’t a lot to choose from as there would be in Chicago or online. Imitation jewelry would be Kendra Scott (pricey), Tootsies for gowns/party wear (pricey, but great sales). I haven’t really checked out second hand shopping in Atlanta as Atlanta usually has great deals throughout the year. For cheapest brands of shopping try Cumberland Mall or t.j. max and/or marshalls.

There are many areas of Atlanta with their own reliable staples for food, fun, and entertainment. The main thing that Atlantans like to do is spend time with close ones either at home or on their porch sipping tea or lemonade, I guess that’s why so many people are moving here, besides the weather of course. I hope you enjoy my suggestions. Thanks for reading!