Jul 17, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Books, Funny, Geek

Imaginary Book Covers for Harry Potter’s Middle-Aged Life

Last week, Harry Potter fans worldwide had a collective geekgasm when J.K. Rowling published a short story — in the form of a Daily Prophet article — about the famous wizard and his friends as adults in their mid-thirties.

(Didn’t read the story? Take a look here — warning: registration required!)

In honor of this momentous occasion (okay, maybe not for most people…but for us Potterheads it is!), Happy Place has created a collection of 7 imaginary book covers revealing Harry’s life as a middle-aged man. Some are quite humorous (adding Cho Chang as a Facebook friend — ha!), while others are depressingly witty.



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Jul 16, 2014  •  In Asian, Beauty, Korean, Personal, Shopping, Travel

Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 1

In my introduction post, I revealed how Korean women can use 14-17 skincare products throughout a typical day. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what you could possibly do to your skin aside from cleanse and moisturize!

Luckily, for the clueless like myself, Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam has shared with us a wonderful tutorial on The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine. No, you do not have to follow the steps to the T, nor do you have to use the exact products mentioned in the article. And some of the items (like masks) are not meant to used every day.

Additionally, because many Korean skincare products — especially emulsions and serums — tend to target only one or two skincare issues (but are usually really good at it!), many women prefer to layer multiple products, or create their own unique cocktails…hence adding up to the 14-17 number.

For myself, because I am a newbie who is prone to silly mishaps (I have cut myself with my hair on several occasions!), and because I am a busy mother of 2 young kids who always seems to be short on time, I only decided to add a few additional items to my daily skincare routine.

But like I said in the introduction post, even those few have made a tremendous difference to my skin!

Let’s start, shall we?

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence, $49 ($25.57 on Amazon)
missha_time_revolution_first_treatment_essenceI first learned about this product when a beauty blogger compared it to the super-popular (and super-expensive, at $165 for the same amount) SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Upon doing some research, I learned that many consider the Missha version to be a dupe of the SK-II…and some even prefer the performance of the less expensive treatment!

I have never tried the SK-II essence so I can’t say much on the comparison. Additionally, I have never used essence before so there may exist products far more superior than the Missha First Treatment Essence.

However, adding this to my daily skincare routine (2x a day, right after cleansing) has made the most immediate improvements to my skin — mostly, adding to the softness and smoothness and diminishing the sebaceous filaments on my nose. Sure, it is the most expensive beauty item I purchased in Korea (IIRC, I paid ₩42,000, or about $41), but it has singlehandedly made me question why I had only used moisturizers in the past.

Innisfree Eco Science Eye Cream, $29
innisfree_eco_science_eye_creamInnisfree is a brand that is well-known in Korea for its natural ingredients that derive from and around the beautiful Jeju Island. And while it is primarily a skincare company (I have heard wonderful things about its Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, which is a best-seller in Korea), it has recently started to delve into makeup products as well, with rave results.

(My friend, who accompanied me to an Innisfree store, told me that the Mineral Stick Concealer is a favorite among her friends, and I actually ended up getting a jar of the richer, denser Mineral Perfect Concealer for my sister. I also bought for her a bunch of products from their The Minimum line, which is targeted for sensitive skin.)

I had done a bit of research on affordable Korean eye creams before my trip, and wanted to try this out because it has received great reviews and was an Allure Korea “best of” product.

I love that this eye cream comes in a sanitary pump bottle, and one pump dispenses the perfect amount for both eyes. Innisfree products tend to have a slightly medicine-y smell which can take some getting used to, but it is not unpleasant. Upon application, the cream immediately cools and de-puffs. It is rich but not greasy, and settles into the skin beautifully. I can’t say anything about line prevention, but I do know that the skin around my eyes has become softer and more even since I started using it. All in all, I love it!

Nature Republic Super Aqua Max creams, $22
nature_republic_aqua_creamsThe same friend who recommended the Innisfree products mentioned above introduced me to the Nature Republic Super Aqua Max creams when I told her I was looking for a good daytime lotion.

The creams are targeted for three skin types: the Combination Watery Cream (green) is for combination skin, the Fresh Watery Cream (blue) is for oily skin, while the Moisture Watery Cream (red) is for dry skin.

I am currently using the Fresh Watery Cream (the blue bottle) because my skin tends to get oily in the summer. And can I just say that this cream is AMAZEBALLS?!! It has a gel-like consistency which immediately cools upon application, and sinks marvelously into my skin. My t-zone seems a lot less oily now — even in this heat and humidity! — while my face stays hydrated, and I believe this cream is the primary reason why.

I plan on using the Combination Watery Cream (green) when the weather gets cooler and my skin reverts to its combination state. I’m still in awe that a $22 cream is performing better than the $100+ (western) creams I have used in the past!

To be continued…

Korean Beauty Haul: Introduction
Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 2
Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 3

Jul 15, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Books

Motion Silhouette: Animated Shadow Book

Ed. note:
If you tried to access this blog earlier today, I apologize for the error. Someone had tried to hack my site, and my web host had suspended the account for suspicious activity. Normally I would have been able to take care of the issue almost immediately, but I was out all morning and did not have access to a computer. No worries now though, because everything’s back!

Motion Silhouette is a new type of pop-up book. Created by Japanese designers Megumi Kajiwara and Tatsuhiko Niijima, it features pop-up paper cutouts that are meant to be used in conjunction with a light source.


As you can see from the animated GIFs below, the cutouts’ animated shadows whimsically interact with the printed content. The face profile, for instance, can be used to blow at a dandelion or — if used on the opposite page — blow out birthday candles.


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Jul 14, 2014  •  In Asian, Beauty, Korean, Personal, Shopping, Travel

Korean Beauty Haul: Introduction

A few months ago, at the ripe ol’ age of 33, I purchased my very first eye cream.

And I LOVED it.

“Why have I never used eye cream before?!?” I exclaimed on Facebook. “I don’t have lines yet (knock on wood) but my eye area seems so much smoother and softer…and dark circles lighter.  :-D

(In case you’re curious, I had gotten the Shiseido Ibuki Eye Correcting Cream.)

My Korean friends were horrified that I had only just started using eye cream. They had been using it since their twenties — some, even from their teens — along with toners, essences, emulsions, serums, packs, masks, etc.

Say what?

From having shopped in Korean stores (and having watched Korean dramas), I knew that such products existed, but I always eschewed them for the simpler cleanser+lotion duo. I exfoliated when I felt I needed it, I never used masks, and I never got facials. And I know I should consider myself lucky (and I am thankful for the fairly good skin genetics has blessed me with), but with my mid-thirties just around the corner, I knew that I should start taking better care of my skin.

So with my newly acquired eye cream just starting to run out — and with my trip to Korea coming up! — I decided to do some digging into the expansive world of Korean skincare products.

One of Korea’s most popular beauty brands, Laneige, made its stateside skincare debut
via Target this year.

You see, Korean skincare is all about prevention and maintenance. This is in stark contrast to the western method of “Oh crap, I’m starting to see some lines! Better buy that $100 eye cream I saw at Nordstrom!”

Koreans — men and women alike — are taught from a young age to cherish and take good care of their skin. (Yes, my mother has been on my case about taking better care of my skin ever since I can remember, but like any typical daughter would do, I ignored her. :-P ) Even their makeup philosophy complements their skin obsession: the better your skin, the less makeup you need.

As such, it’s no wonder that Korean women regularly use 14-17 skincare products throughout the day. Or that Korean skincare technology is about a dozen years ahead of that of the U.S.!

There’s also the fact that skincare products in Korea are readily available (there seems to be a beauty store in every corner, even at subway stations), and at much more affordable prices!

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t go too crazy during my trip to Korea, and that I’ve only added a few items to my daily skincare routine. However, the items I did incorporate have — in less than 2 weeks! — made my skin clearer, smoother, and softer than I can ever remember.

Cross my heart! Even J says he’s jealous of my super-soft skin!

Because this post is already getting too long, I will save my actual Korean beauty haul for next time. In the meantime, here’s a preview of my favorite items from the trip!


To be continued…

Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 1
Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 2
Korean Beauty Haul: My Favorite Products, Part 3