I’ve been wanting to introduce a monthly round-up of random things here on the blog since last year, but thought I might as well do so at the beginning of 2016. My monthly round-up is no different from many others; in fact, I had to ask permission from another blogger friend if I could borrow her idea of consolidating a number of things into a single, coherent whole. Mine is definitely going to be all sorts of different things rolled into one post, but I’ll try not to make it sound or look like a waste of your time. It’s going to be a hefty post, though, so brace yourselves!
BEAUTY & STYLE
Before jumping right into five of my favorite beauty products this January, I would like to give a shout-out to Veronica of From the Upside (better known as V of Life+1) for introducing me to the following Living proof. products, which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on since hearing and reading a lot of great reviews about them. Veronica had Living proof. send me free samples of two of the products that best suited my hair type and needs, which were based on the results from the hair diagnostic test I took from their website.
- Living proof. No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream. I mentioned earlier that I only received samples, and in this product’s case, I only received a sachet that only allowed for three-time use. If you can’t tell already, I loved it so much that I had to pick up a full size version right away. Fortunately, the climate here on the West Coast isn’t as humid as on the other side of the country, so dealing with frizzy hair isn’t much of an issue. I apply a pea-size amount to damp hair, and let it air-dry. I don’t blow-dry my hair, but I think it’s going to work great as a hair primer or hair balm prior to subjecting the hair to hot styling tools.
- Living proof. Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo. I love my go-to dry shampoo, but when Living proof.‘s got into the picture, I had a change of heart. Veronica swears that it works great when used post-workout, and I can attest to that when I sprayed on my hair after an afternoon hike.
- Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub. I’m in love with this product. It’s like all my nighttime essentials are rolled into this one tub. Ideally, it’s best to exfoliate at least once a week, but with this product, I often find myself using it almost every night. The salt scrub is soaked in lavender oil, which makes it the best product to use before bedtime. Heaven.
- Trader Joe’s Vitamin E Oil. I made an experiment, and it involved using this vitamin E oil as my nighttime moisturizer. I’ve been reading a lot of great things about using vitamin E oil as a facial moisturizer, but was a little skeptical since I have combination/oily skin. Luckily for me, this thing works fine. It didn’t break my skin out in spite of slathering this onto my skin. I still do get pimples occasionally, especially due to lack of sleep or around my menstrual period, but nothing too alarming that would make me stop using it. I have been using this for almost three months now, and you can tell from the bottle that I have enough to last me the entire year. This and the next product, alongside my go-to body lotion, were my holy grail products this winter season.
- Trader Joe’s Head-to-Toe Moisturizing Balm. While it did say that it’s a great moisturizer for head-to-toe use, I only use this as a lip balm before going to bed or when I’m just staying at home. I save my lip balm tubes for travel use, which are more hygienic. Using this alongside the lip scrub I received from this month’s ipsy Glam Bag leaves me with chap-free puckers!
- My last biggest splurge was shortly after Christmas when I shopped for some workout clothes and running shoes in preparation for my 2016 goals and resolutions. They’re not a lot, but the stuff I got are enough motivation for me to get up and get moving most days of the week.
FOOD & WELLNESS
- I have been consistently going to the gym or getting my miles in outdoors at least four times a week. Besides Roan, thanks to my sister-in-law who keeps me accountable to achieving my fitness goals.
- Speaking of goals, I’m proud to say that besides the necessities (i.e., sanitary pads), I haven’t shopped for unnecessary/less-important stuff this month. I’m pretty much proud of myself at this point!
- It may sound dreadful and daunting of a task, but I enjoy preparing our meals for the week that often requires little to no cooking at all. It also helps that Roan is more than willing to lend an extra hand! Since doing this, I’ve had more time to squeeze in some activities I normally wouldn’t have time for anymore (i.e., reading and watching TV shows/movies).
- I’m not exactly becoming a vegetarian, but I noticed that I’ve weaned off from eating beef. I still have pork, chicken, and fish occasionally, but I’ve completely avoided beef in my diet this month.
TV & MOVIES
Making a Murderer. This had been showing up in my Twitter feed for weeks until Roan and I finally gave in. It’s about the life of Steven Avery, who was convicted of a crime he claimed he did not commit and was eventually exonerated for it, but spent 18 years in prison for it. He is currently in prison for the murder of Teresa Halbach, a crime that has divided the nation into those who believe he’s innocent and those who don’t.
We binge-watched the entire season with 10 episodes in one sitting. It was impossible not to get hooked as the story progressed. Watching it together with Roan, who’s currently taking up a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, made it even more interesting because of his inputs about the law.
If you ask me, I was leaning towards believing Steven Avery is innocent until I read recently published articles, which claim that he is otherwise. It’s so messed up, it’ll drive you crazy!
- Kingsman: The Secret Service. This has got to be one of the most enjoyable (and intense) movies I’ve ever seen in a long time. It’s so good, I don’t want to even give a hint of what this movie is about. There wasn’t a dull moment—I mean, how can you take a lisping, hip-hop wearing Samuel L. Jackson seriously? If you haven’t seen this, I swear you’ll love it, too!
- True Story. Without a doubt, Jonah Hill and James Franco are two of the best actors of this generation. I think I’ve watched enough comedy involving these two that I find it difficult to imagine them playing serious roles in a movie. True Story is about a journalist (Jonah Hill) who struggles to become relevant and reliable after publishing a false editorial about a very sensitive issue in today’s society. Meeting with James Franco’s role, who pretended to be Jonah Hill’s character in the movie, may or may not be his only redemption.
- Joy. This is the story of Joy Mangano, who’s famous for her inventions such as the self-wringing Miracle Mop and the Huggable Hangers, the velvet-flocked and no-slip hangers many of us have seen in stores a lot these days. Since Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper appeared in the movie adaptation of the Silver Linings Playbook, I’ve looked forward to their succeeding collaborations in a movie. While their portrayal in the movie, Joy, wasn’t like any of their other movies together, I still think they did a great job. I think J.Law truly deserved her Best Actress award at the Golden Globes because of her role as Joy.
- Homecoming by Shayne — Roan and I have plans of coming back to the Philippines next Christmas, and Shayne’s post made me think of what I’d feel after two years of being away from our home. It’ll be the same house, yes, but a lot has changed over the years, soon after I left even.
- An Explanation, or Lack Thereof by Cassie — I sometimes get this feeling about blogging; how things have become complicated over the years. I know change is inevitable, but is the kind of change long-time bloggers like me expect to see? Honestly, I don’t know. In one way or another, Cassie’s thoughts resonated with mine.
- Dear 16-Year-Old-Me by Chelsie — I had one of my best friends since grade school die from lupus at 17. Having read Chelsea’s story about her cancer survival made me wish my friend Gela had lived to tell the tale. Gela died on February 13, around the same time Chelsea was told she has cancer, though these events happened a year apart.
BOOKS I READ THIS MONTH
In case you weren’t reading my blog yet in 2014, I used to have a series called Feed Your Mind, where I shared some favorite quotes from and my thoughts on books I recently read. From reading a bunch of books in 2014, I only started reading one book in 2015 (and even failed to finish it the same year). This year, I set a goal of reading 25 books, which is a realistic and achievable number for my current lifestyle. Instead of following through the series I started two years ago, I decided to just include my recently read books in this monthly round-up.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Remember that book I started in 2015 and didn’t even bother finishing in the same year? Well, this is it. Life definitely got in the way, but it wasn’t entirely a good read either. If I’m being honest, this book bore me out. If I find a book really interesting, I can easily finish it in less than a week. Taking an entire year to finish a book does say something, doesn’t it?
This book was told from Min’s perspective, narrating the reasons why she and Ed broke up, equipped with illustrations of things that remind of their short-lived relationship.
The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
When I travelled to Greensboro, NC in December to help my aunt with her stuff in her storage, I had no idea that we’d be dealing with several boxes full of books. In hindsight, I think 75% of her things are different kinds of book. She let me look into her stash, and grabbed whatever I think I could bring home to San Diego.
The Four Agreements was among those that caught my attention, and when my aunt saw me pick it up, she willfully asked me to take it. This book is based on Toltec teachings, which requires an open mind to fully grasp their principles. I took several notes while reading the book, and I’ve been trying to practice the four agreements since I finished it.
The Good Sister by Jamie Kain
I picked this book up just because I’ve never heard of it, nor of its author before. Sometimes, I like discovering books that no one else has read because then I won’t have any idea if it’s any good at all. To my surprise, this book pulled me in from the first page that I finished it in just three days.
The Good Sister is the story of three sisters—Sarah, Rachel, and Asha—who were devastated by one of them’s death that created ripple effects in their relationship with each other and their family as a whole. While I really loved this book, I only gave it four stars because I felt like the ending was not what I had expected. It’s not so bad, but it’s predictable.