Drugstore Gems: Cheap Skincare

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!

T.

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Atlanta: city guide

NYC

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!

T.

Why the DAPL is a Human Rights Issue

The militarized response to the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters appears shocking if not extremist to say the least. Native American tribes, and many others protesting the pipeline, whatever their motivations, have not done anything to legally justify this kind of response. The purpose of police is to ‘Serve and Protect’ not become the goon of the government or a corporation.

There are many reasons why people are protesting the pipeline, but the main issue is that it violates Native American land rights. The legitimacy of their concerns is followed by the fact that the pipeline was moved from a another route because it could pollute the land/water supply:

“Early in the planning process, Dakota Access considered but eliminated an alternative that would have crossed the Missouri River about 10 miles north of Bismarck instead of the route currently under construction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the Bismarck route and concluded it was not a viable option for many reasons. One reason mentioned in the agency’s environmental assessment is the proximity to wellhead source water protection areas that are avoided to protect municipal water supply wells.”-Bismarck Tribune

The fact is that the environmental rights of individuals who would be affected with the original route were respected and given priority. But when it comes to Native American lands the issue is moot. Why?

America has a long history of making treaties with the Native Americans, but then when it serves a personal, political, or financial gain, to just as quickly break their promises and agreements—with a violent and deadly response. When will we learn from history and respect the rights of Native Americans who themselves have no personal profit from the pipeline, but instead are only looking out for the land that we all live on that they rightfully desire to protect?

The Best Local Places for Pastries and Dessert in Paris

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There are many places to grab dessert in Paris. But what are the local specialties? What if you are on a brief trip and want to try as many local favorites as possible? Here’s how to pack in as much sweets in a day of Paris favorites:

For breakfast start off with freshly made pastries and a coffee. You could grab some from any bakery (boulangerie in French), that’s what me and my friend did on our first day we were there. I really wanted to have a beignet (kind of like a fritter or donuts with filled hazelnut chocolate creme or preserves). I tried one at a local bakery near our hotel but it was overloaded with chocolate. For the next breakfast we grabbed pastries from Liberte . It has a very modern look to it, and beautiful pastries. I bought a whole box for us to eat with a friend we were meeting that day.

Around later that day we went to the Notre Dame and happened upon a pastry festival. They had live music, baking, and pastries for sale! We tried Pain au raison and Pain au chocolate. I don’t usually like desserts with raisins, but that was actually better than pain au chocolate.

After lunch we craved a pick me up so stopped by my favorite: Lauderee

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With many locations through out Paris, it is known for its macaroons, another famous French treat. This is definitely a Instagram worthy place and is extremely fancy (I even saw a Asian Instagram star with many cameras there taking a million photos of herself). They have a huge dessert, coffee, tea menu and it is impeccably served with beautiful china. Luckily Lauderee has locations in New York city and is just as good!

After the excitement of the day we thought we shouldn’t go to bed early. Why not explore late night Paris? Searching for a nightly haunt, we came upon a part of Paris that was packed with locals and wished we had known about it earlier. The area around the bookstore/cafe La Belle Hortense has restaurants to eat and the cafe itself, though small has dessert and meals. I had some of the best creme brulee there in my entire life.

So there you have it. Some hints on what to try and where to find them. Bon Appetit!

 

Barcelona: a beautiful city

An artsy, modern city with a Roman wall, beach, Picasso, tapas, and Gaudi, to name a few.

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A street near La Rambla

When I first arrived in Barcelona with my friend, I had great expectations for the city. For years people told me “visit Spain!” That they loved the “vibes of the people”. On our way from Rome to Barcelona, a Italian man told us of all his favorite spots to visit and that Barcelona was one of his favorite cities in Europe. Barcelona was so clean and modern (Free wifi in the streets!) yet artsy. The people were very friendly and there were many other Americans visiting too.

We stayed at a boutique hotel that was a converted convent (figures) and were pretty pleased with our choice right by La Rambla

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Hotel Peninsular

La Rambla is a long street lined on both sides by restaurants and some small shops as well. It’s great for people watching and checking out what you are in the mood to eat. As tapas are a pretty popular thing for visitors to try we got our taste of some on our first day, but learned that many tapas are made with pork (insert sad face).

But no matter! We found a Kosher restaurant to eat at. At first hesitant to enter, when we finally decided one night in starvation to go. We just kept walking and a server came to seat us quickly. I left for the restroom and when I had returned, my friend informed me that the server’s name was Mohammad and he was from Morocco. He treated us so well and we had an amazing dinner there enjoying the food!

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Paella made with chicken

One of the amazing things about Barcelona is that you will never know what you will find or run into. Cute stores, a ROMAN WALL(!), and hidden museums. One thing that was a last minute decision, was to visit the Picasso Museum. There was a long line in an alley to enter, and one could not take pictures inside. Once inside, I marveled at all the artwork that could not be Picasso, but was, while my friend explained to me his history: that Picasso traveled and lived in different cities, mingled with the artists there, gained inspiration from them, and grew his craft. That Picasso painted, sculpted, and drew many thing in so many different styles before the art he is famous for today. That his father actually supported him to be an artist from a young age. These golden nuggets of information, what I would later read in Robert Greene’s book Mastery are some of the patterns of other geniuses.

Prior to leaving for Europe, I had hoped that this trip would be trans formative or at least maybe give me some direction. It inspired me to focus in on my own possibilities and I think that can happen to anyone who goes beyond their comfort zone whether in their own city or even from listening to someone’s ideas that are different from ones own.

 

 

 

How to unwind without sex, drugs, or alcohol

Wait a second! There’s another way?! Yes, why yes there is.

In a society that has a tendency to project what is fun, cool, or popular, these may not work for everybody. Individuals with health problems, religious guidelines to follow, or who have just become fed up with the hookup culture of their city; maybe you or someone you know is looking for alternatives to that lifestyle.

I personally don’t care what people are doing in their private time, but what I do not like is that people can get so caught up in these behaviors that it can become toxic, unhealthy, or disruptive, and possibly, just not make you happy at the end of the day.

For example, think about what you used to do as a child. What were the things that made you happy? Things you could not, not do. You got so caught up that it wasn’t a chore or task. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Look through your old music collection. Music especially music without words, is a great way to center oneself, and scientifically there have been studies that music can affect our brain: Brain and Music there’s tons of other articles to read about it.
  • Go to a sauna or salon and or get a massage done more frequently. In other cultures, people go to the salon or sauna every week or so. Its relaxing, and a way to de-stress your mind and body. OR do a at home spa/sauna stay-cation.
  • Take classes, keep learning, and read. Read whatever you like to read (even a guilty pleasure romance). We as a society have fallen out of this great habit and mind release. Concentrating on a text and focusing to read can take our minds and thoughts to a different place and is a great way to learn. Books are free! You can even download books for free from Project Gutenberg and catch up on the classics. It will make you look smart and sexy while having cool things to talk about beside silly “stories” on social media that everybody has already seen or heard.
  • Plan a weekend getaway. Go somewhere whenever you can. Even a local trip or trying a new spot can make you feel more rejuvenated.
  • Get a pet or play with someone else’s pet or walk someone else’s pet. Pet’s and animals in general, can be very soothing and pleasing to care for. I realized that after I moved away, I really missed my pet and the comfort that she provided.
  • Play games. Games challenge our minds and help us feel motivated because for every win or problem solved it teaches us to keep trying and to not fret the small stuff. Every challenge in life can be approached with this positive mindset.
  • Keep a diary, blog, or daily journal. Keep track of things you want to do, eat, talk about or think about. Sometimes we can’t find someone to talk or share our thoughts or we need to process them more before sharing. Maybe somethings don’t need sharing but personal understanding.
  • Have a group of trusted friends. You don’t need a lot of friends just a few gems will do. Keep them close and text/call whenever you can. Meet up for coffee or have them over.

I hope these suggestions help. Stay happy and healthy!

Easy Parisian Chic

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The museum Louvre in Paris

As fall approaches, one can learn a thing or two about updating the warm winter essentials from Parisian women. There is nothing really to it, actually you may find you already have what you need.

When I visited Paris earlier this year in late May, it would get chilly at varying times of the day then the sun would magically appear warming things up. In Atlanta, we have sporadic weather sometimes as well in the fall. But while walking around Paris and observing what is it that Parisian women wear, I noticed a pattern.

Women would wear either a wool blazer, leather jacket, or a dark trench/parka. They would usually carry a understated bag (not necessarily a brand name), a simple light colored scarf around the neck, dark sneakers or ankle boots, and dark fitted jeans or fitted trousers. Hardly if no makeup, and simple undone hair. Parisian chic really is effortless.

Instead, I would say, Parisians emphasize: layers, easy reliable go to pieces, a carry all simple bag to use while commuting, and more importantly: Parisian women probably emphasize skincare. Their skin, no matter what their race, was flawless. Organic food probably helps a lot as well, and the fact that French skincare works great. Some of my favorite French skincare brands are Clarins and Loccitane  because they include a lot of natural ingredients from plants. Having Asian skin, those work for me as well (though my favorite skincare brands are Japanese and/or Korean and they have become pretty trendy as well in America, which makes me so happy!).

Thanks for reading my blog post about how to be fashionably effortless like Parisian women! I hope this helps save you time (and maybe some money) with the variety of choices for fall, these go to pieces you can use season after season!

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Me and my friend were walking around the Eiffel tower and it became hot again after a chill spell! I had to hang my bulky sweater coat over my shoulder ha ha.