making > custom lipsticks at bite lip lab

[This post has been in my drafts for ALMOST A YEAR. What is wrong with me?? Fellow lipstick lovers, my sincere apologies.]


I found out about the Bite Lip Lab right after my last trip to NYC and did a major face palm that I had never visited. This time I was determined to get my fix. So determined that I made my appt two seconds after I found out I was going to be in NYC. [Future visitors – you need an appt if you want some lipstick action!]

Best. Time. Ever.

The ladies that work here are so nice! Make up is always this semi-daunting thing because the folks working the counter look flawless and here you come with your regular-shmo self asking for some help to get pretty. That is not a problem here. Approachable-ness all around.


the color samples the make up artist will use to come up with your custom color

I opted for 2 lipsticks (that’s the most they let you make in one appt) and each cost $34 [edit: the prices have gone up since I first drafted this post, contact the BLL for up to date prices]  although you can ask for some crazy fancy long lasting finish that jacks up the price even more. You also customize the case and scent.

Lipstick #1: “I want a true red that works well with my skin tone but also makes my teeth look whiter. Also, I love matte.”

This was followed with:

“More matte I think.”

“It seems oddly sheer now”

[Start over and tries a different base.]

“A little bit darker and a little more matte.”

“YAY. Love it.”

Lipstick #2: “Something subtle and good for everyday. Not nude though and not berry because I have a lot of those. I want it to look like I did my face but I don’t want to be IN their face. Does that make sense? And matte again because I’m really into matte right now.”

Follow up:

“Oy. It’s the same color as my skin! Washes me out too much.”

[mix mix mix mix mix mix]

“Love it!”

I picked cherry scent for the red which I’ll henceforth call “RBF” and mango citrus for the other which I’ve dubbed “Side Eye”.


here are the colors and scents that they’ll mix to make your lipstick

The whole thing took about an hour. I popped over to Starbucks to grab tea and a muffin while they finished things up for me. Then I skipped back to my hotel and locked myself in my room to work until the sun went down.



A year later and I still reach for Side Eye at least once a week. RBF doesn’t get as much action (maybe once every 2 months?) because it’s competing with the rest of my bold lip collection… 


side eye and rbf

Bite Lip Lab: 174 Prince Street, New York City, NY 10012 (South Village)


making > filipino kamayan feast

For my birthday last year I held a kamayan feast at my house for a dozen+ of my closest friends. I’ve talked about kamayans before when I took Jen and some coworkers to Jeepney in NYC. This was my first time throwing my own kamayan though. Here’s how to throw your own.

First up is a lot of banana leaf-related prep work.


You can buy these big ass packets of banana leaves  in the frozen section of a Filipino market. It took 5 packets to cover a dining table for 8, a small coffee table, and a card table for 4. After you thaw them out they need a good wipe down with a damp paper towel (that’s the baby brother on banana leaf wiping duties).

Then the fun part.

On a low flame with the powdery side of the banana leaf down, slowly heat every section of the leaf until you see it turn waxy. This makes the leaves stronger which means it can take the heaps of food you’re about to put on it. It will also make your house smell like the Philippine countryside. Use tongs to keep your fingers burn free.

I lined the tables with plastic tablecloths and then put a layer of banana leaves on them for easy clean up afterwards. Literally, I just rolled up the whole shebang when everyone was done and threw it away.

The food is a mix of homemade, storebought, and from a restaurant.


The full menu:

  • jasmine rice (homemade)
  • fried tilapia (fried at the Filipino store)
  • sauteed Chinese long beans and mushrooms (homemade)
  • steamed shrimp (homemade)
  • lumpia (homemade)
  • chicken bbq (from Fil-Am Cuisine)
  • chicken adobo (from Fil-Am Cuisine)
  • pancit (from Fil-Am Cuisine)
  • longanisa (store bought and then cooked at home)
  • salted egg + tomato salad (homemade)
  • lechon kawali (from Grill City inside Seafood City)
  • sauces: soy sauce + vinegar, sweet chili, Mang Tomas

For dessert I brought out some ube (purple yam) and buko pandan (fragrant coconut) ice cream.

Ta da!

making > travel diary

Me on vacation: Oh lemme save this museum ticket/bus stub/napkin/other memento and put it in a ~beautiful~ scrapbook when I get home.

Me at home: Scrapbooking is so hard. :*(

First, I had to let go of the idea that I’m going to scrapbook ever again. I have made scrapbooks before so there’s precedent for my skills in this area. However, I’m probably not going to make a scrapbook of a trip I made 3 years ago so let’s just get over that delusion.

Enter the Travel Stub Diary.


Also known as the lazy girl’s scrapbook.

This is basically a glorified photo album with pockets that (I think) are slightly bigger than a standard photo.


There are 2 pockets on each page with margins to write brief notes. Now my hoarding of unnecessary scraps of paper is lovingly organized and I have not randomly come across an errant airline ticket stub in 3 weeks. Yay!


Travel Stub Diary from Amazon

making > accessories display

“Do you think you have enough accessories?” — Brother #3


Brothers think they are so funny. (They are not.)


Since I really like how my accessories are displayed, I’m sharing them on zee ol’ blog today. I think it’s somewhere between a deconstructed jewelry box, in-store display, and 3D scrapbook.


This display sits on top of an Ikea bookshelf right underneath my TV in my bedroom. Before bed it serves as inspiration for what I might wear the next day. In the morning it’s my last stop before I’m out the door. The rest of the time it catches my attention by reminding me of old friends and good times.

  1. Cherry blossom watercolor from my first trip to Singapore (purchased at Changi Airport).
  2. Fresh flowers because I’m fancy. (Not that fancy these are from Costco.)
  3. Digital picture frame from a few Christmases ago from my parents. Currently pictured: me at the beach in Pulau Besar, Malaysia.
  4. Picture from the Chippendales show in Vegas. 😉
  5. Dessert holder from Le Cirque in Las Vegas (totally different trip…).
  6. Little jar from my Lebanese ex-boss.
  7. Necklace holder from Target.
  8. Vinyl toys I painted during my sabbatical 3 years ago. I call the one on the right Bruno Mars Frankenstein.
  9. Old pic of me and the siblings in the Philippines.
  10. Metallic bowl from a Popsugar Must Have box.
  11. Piglet mini-bowl from Asian restaurant supply store. I have other small bowls in the bathroom and on my vanity to catch errant earrings and rings.
  12. Cupcake holder I painted during a work offsite a few years ago.
  13. Elephant ring holder from a Popsugar Must Have box.


The jewelry is from lots of different places including: Forever21, BaubleBar, t+j designs (proceed with caution here, I’ve noticed shoddy quality and have stopped purchasing), various Popsugar boxes, Lovisa (an Australia brand), and Etsy.

Tell me there are other people who are this intense about their accessories.

making > tea party part 1: menu

A few weekends ago I hosted a tea party to celebrate another health-related milestone.

In upcoming posts I’ll cover menu, decor, and other details so you’re fully equipped in case you find yourself in the tea party throwing mood. Today’s topic: menu.


Here’s what I served —


  • cucumber + chive cream cheese tea sandwiches
  • smoked salmon + dill cream cheese tea sandwiches
  • egg salad + capers tea sandwiches
  • mini mushroom turnovers
  • mini chicken + waffles
  • mini baked potatoes with sour cream and chives


  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • macarons
  • mini blueberry pies
  • custard filled donut holes
  • mini scones


There are some people that would probably make all of these things from scratch. I’m neither that skilled nor that ambitious so I bought what I could. Here are my short cuts.

  1. Use frozen pie crust for the mini pies.
  2. Mini toaster waffles + Chicfila chicken nuggets = itty bitty chicken and waffles (if I did this again, I’d cook the waffles much closer to serving time – they got really hard)
  3. Mushroom turnovers courtesy of Trader Joe’s.
  4. Macarons from Costco. (TJ’s also has some but Costco has more flavor variety.)
  5. Donut holes from a local donut shop.
  6. Mini scones from Panera (sold in a variety pack and very yummy).

There were 7 of us and I expected the festivities to last ~4 hours so I estimated 9-12 pieces of each item. I ended up with just the right amount of leftovers (read: I felt like everyone left satisfied food-wise and I had some nibbles for later.)

I also got a nice bottle of champagne and peach and mango juice for bellini/mimosas. I picked up a box of Tea Forte teas which are pricey but very pretty, fragrant, and high quality. (Side note: I ended up ordering the wrong box of tea on Amazon and the incredible service from Tea Forte is sending me another one!)

Thanks to Lizzie (for the first picture) and Simon (for solving my picture woes).

making > to do lists

This was Middle Brother’s birthday gift to his big sister. Before you get too impressed with his gifting skills, I’m one of those people that just tells my loved ones what I want for birthdays. It’s easier for everyone this way. 🙂


I love my new Whitney English planner. I opted for the mini design because the original is a bit too big to lug around to meetings. It’s also more flexible – you fill in your own dates. This works for me since I don’t necessarily need an intensely filled to do list every single day.


I like the daily gratitude and dinner boxes. There is something satisfying about writing out dinner plans and then not worrying about them the rest of the day and everyone needs a time out for some gratitude.

Before investing in the planner I tried out the format by signing up on the Whitney English site and getting the free pdf. After using it for a few weeks (and liking it) I took the plunge and asked dear Middle Brother to get it for my birthday. The Whitney English Etsy store is closed for a bit while they restock (yes, they are that popular) but is reopening the Monday of Thanksgiving week if you’re inclined to join me in fashionable to do list writing.

making > milestones

I celebrated a personal health milestone last Friday and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside to get so many well wishes from friends. It’s been a long, strange year but here I am 365 days later no worse for the wear. 🙂

I took some time to toast with friends, say a prayer of thanks and gratitude, and read through all of the lovely messages I got that day. I thought the festivities were over until I got another surprise this past Monday. The reception desk pinged me because I had a delivery! I love deliveries!


Ta da! These beautiful flowers are from my super sweet friend, Angie, who ordered them from Bloom That. They came all wrapped up pretty-like in burlap with ribbon. How adorable is the kale? KALE, guys. In a flower bouquet. They are now sitting pretty-like on my vanity. I’m feeling very lucky that I’ll get to enjoy them this week.

Thank you so so much, Angie!

Angie, btw, is the queen of thoughtfulness. For my birthday last year she sent me this birthday card.


Yah, that’s right. There’s a little rolled up Happy Birthday message in that honest-to-goodness chicken egg!

making > summer garden

It took three stops before we found some decent groundlings to plant in our summer garden. For any other Bay Area peeps, Lowe’s is where it’s at.

Last year’s garden had the most prolific tomato plant ever. We had fresh roma tomatoes into October and November!


This year the garden includes: sweet basil,tomato, parsley, and mint. Plus two returnees from last year’s garden – rosemary and jalapenos.

I’m pairing the basil with various fresh mozzarella and cherry tomato concoctions, the rosemary is going with some beef crockpot happenings, the mint is hanging out in some iced tea, the parsley will do some sprinkling in various dishes. You get the picture. Gardens are great.

I’m just a few cats short of an old lady.

making > q&a journal entries

This is a 5 year journal that I keep seeing at fun gift stores but only recently picked up from Amazon.

The idea with this one is that you’re giving a question each day to answer and every year you’ll answer the same question on the same day. It should be fun to look back year over year to see how my answers change. Today’s question was tough. There are really so many people in my life that give me comfort!


Tomorrow’s question is easy and I predict will stay consistent every year. West coast is the best coast, always. 🙂

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal via Amazon

making > heart print canvas

1. Buy a canvas. Use a coupon because you are thrifty.
2. Pick two colors of paint. I picked black and white to make grays.
3. Find something to make a stamp out of – raw potatoes, styrofoam blocks, whatevah. I used styrofoam from an old appliance box I was throwing out.
4. Make 3 stamps – same thing, 3 different sizes. I did hearts because they’re easy and cute.
5. Pour the dominant color of paint onto a paper plate and dot with the secondary color. Mix and blend to your heart’s desire.
6. Test out your stamping style on a spare piece of paper.
7. Stamp!
8. Behold your masterpiece.


This hangs above the little vanity desk I use to spackle on my face every morning.