The one with all the books

Hello blog world!

I love to read!  I love all kinds of genres, I love the library, I love to buy books, I love used bookstores, I love my kindle… if I met any of my favorite authors, I would fan-girl all. the. way!

So… I thought that I would share some of the books I’ve been loving over the last few months.  I know I love reading these types of blog posts…do you?

ahsang books

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion:  This book is the sequel to The Rosie Project, which I loved.  I have to admit that I loved the first book better, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how Don deals with the news that Rosie is pregnant.  (Don reminds me of the character Sheldon from the tv show The Big Bang Theory.)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  I have been on a young adult fiction kick!  This is the fourth book that I’ve read by this author.  I enjoyed Eleanor and Park, Attachments, and Landline as well.  For me these books are just fun, easy, purely entertainment (no thinking needed), and a stress-reliever.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey:  This book was so not what I was expecting, but I loved it.  You definitely fall in love with the main character, even though technically, you’re not supposed to… Walking Dead fans, anyone?

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman:  Loved this book about a lighthouse keeper and his wife.  I definitely know what it feels like to want a baby so bad, to be a mother so bad, that you forget yourself…just a friendly warning: you will need tissues.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult:  Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, and I preorder her books as soon as she writes another one.  This book is about a young girl who never looses hope that she’ll be able to find the truth about her mother, who disappeared when she was really little.  Loved the newest release by J.P. …two things:  elephants, who knew? and surprise!

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes:  I have been obsessed with this author ever since I read Me Before You almost 2 years ago.  This story follows Jess, the struggles of a single parent, and second chances.

Those are the books that I’ve been loving.

Next up:

I have Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty lined up on my kindle.

I also visited my local used bookstore and picked up 2 books by familiar authors:  Night Road by Kristin Hannah and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (who wrote one of my favorite books of all time-turned movie: The Time Traveler’s Wife…I love Rachel McAdams, and Eric Bana…YES…just yes…)

What are you reading?  Any favorites?

Happy Thursday!

scrapbooking: putting my second child first.

Hello all!

For a clean start to 2015, I decided to clean and purge my scrapbook room the other day…OMG the dust!!!  I also had a bunch of layouts that needed to be put away into albums.  I have albums specifically for each of my girls and albums for family stuff as well.  When I was putting layouts away, I noticed that I had very few layouts of my 2nd daughter.  I had scrapped 3x for her last year…her birthday, her first dance class, and halloween.  Meanwhile, my older daughter had tons of layouts: horse camp, school activities, art camp, halloween, and so on.  Granted, some of that has to do with my older daughter having more going on, but I looked back on my older’s many albums and realized that I scrapped a ton of her as a baby and toddler.  I know, I know…all that first born business…new mom wanting to capture and documenting EVERYthing, and having the time to do so, but I know that my little girl was disappointed when her album had only a few pages that she quickly looked through, while her older sister was looking through her packed album.

So….I am putting my second child first.  I am going to catch up on some of her layouts.  I will make her feel special and just as important.  I will make sure she knows how much I love her.

With that said, I completed 2 layouts for her album, and thought I would share them here.

Love you so:  clean, simple, with a small letter to my Ellie.

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ahsang e2

In this layout, I used a lot of dear lizzy, studio calico, and heidi swap products.  I also purchased digital printables by one little bird you can find on the-lilypad.com  The alpha is older product from k & co.

Ellie’s first week of preschool:  colorful & using my favorite grid design.

ahsang e3

ahsang e4   ahsang e5

some products used include:  dear lizzy, studio calico, teresa collins, studio calico, mme, october afternoon, freckled fawn, american crafts, pebbles…

What about you?  Have you kept up with all your kids’ stories equally?  …or are you playing catch up like me?  My little on has just started pre-school 2 days a week, and will be going to kinder in the fall, so I am sure I will have lots to scrap.

Happy Tuesday friends!

2015: the return of the “No FRUMPINESS” New Year’s Resolution

For the past few years, my New Year’s resolution has been the same, and I made the same one this year too.  NO FRUMPINESS.

After I had my second daughter, the baby weight didn’t slide off as it had with my first.  I was 30 and trying to get used to life as a mother of two, and it was showing.  My appearance, and therefore my self-confidence, was not high on my priority list.  I didn’t buy any clothes, because I was waiting to “loose the baby weight,” I had dark circles from lack of sleep, my hair was falling out by the fist-full, and my hair was forever in a ratty pony tail.  This was what greeted my husband upon returning home from work on any typical day towards the end of 2010: me, in my husband’s t-shirts and yoga pants (because that’s the only thing that fit), dark circles, and my hair in a limp pony tail…not pretty…and not exactly a role model for my girls either.

So… a few years ago I decided that I would try to change.  Even though my husband says I’m beautiful no matter what, I wanted to be better for him and my girls.  My New Year’s resolution has been to reduce my “frumpiness,” even if just by a little.

The first year of trying this, I always had my nails and toes perfectly manicured (I did them myself at home once the kids were asleep)…surely that’s a bit less frumpy, no?  I have to say that such a small act made me feel better.  I’d take advantage of the coupons at my local grocery store and bought nail polish in all different colors.

The next year, I stepped it up a bit, and tried to take care of my skin.  I guess my hormones were trying to balance itself out, and my skin was going crazy, not to mention I was officially in my 30s.

Then I started getting into makeup.  I don’t wear a full face of makeup on most days, but I at least have moisturizer, lip balm, under-eye concealer and usually eyebrow product on.

Since I have started my “no frumpiness” new year’s resolution, i feel like I have been getting better.  I take care of my skin day and night, I get a haircut and my gray hairs dyed a few times a year by a friend, and I’ve bought a few wardrobe staples specifically for my size now, and not the size I’m waiting/wanting to be.  I’m by no means a beauty queen, but I can volunteer at my daughter’s school without feeling embarrassed of my appearance.

With that said, here are some beauty-related tips for you and some of my favorite products of 2014.

ahsang 2014 faves

Tip #1:  Taking care of yourself can be EXPENSIVE!  Take advantage of coupons, annual sales and promotions, and look for discount codes.  At H-E-B, my local grocery store, there are always several different brand coupons.  My favorite drugstore brand is Revlon, and at least once a month, there is a $1 or $2 off coupon.  There is usually a $3.50 off $10 purchase coupon at Ulta, and both Sephora and Ulta have a 20% off entire purchase coupon every year during the holidays.

Tip #2:  Know your skin type and your skin tone.  Is your skin dry or oily?  I have classic combination skin.  I have an oily t-zone; my forehead, chin, and especially my nose is oily, while my cheeks are dry.  I also have dehydrated sensitive skin.  Knowing what type of skin you have will help you choose what skin care to use.  Do you have neutral, warm, or cool undertones?  I am Asian, and have yellow/warm undertones.  Knowing your skin undertone can help you choose makeup colors that are flattering on you.

Tip #3:  Perfect a 5-10 minute routine.  When I’m in a rush or running late, I apply moisturizer, under eye concealer, brow product, and a pretty lip color.

Tip #4:  What works for others may not work for you.  Try different things out.  Know your store’s return policy and keep your receipt.  My local grocery store and ultra will let me return an item if it doesn’t work out, even used, with a receipt.

…and now onto my favorites of 2014.  These are products that I loved last year, and will continue to repurchase.

for SKINCARE:

ahsang 2014 faves -1

Last year, I saved up all my sephora gift cards, and purchased a Clarisonic mia for my birthday.  I love it!  It’s a cleaning tool with a ultrasonic brush head that’s supposed to clean your skin 6x better than your hands alone.  They have different brush heads for different skin types; I use the delicate brush head.  I use my clarisonic in the shower 2-3 times a week and on days when I went heavier with my makeup, with my favorite cleanser fabulous foaming face wash by bliss.

In the morning, after using a gentle cleanser, I follow up with a good light weight moisturizer, Paula’s Choice hydra light moisture-infusing lotion, and eye cream, Tarte’s maraca c-brighter eye treatment.  Then I use a lip balm, and I have been enjoying sweet mint EOS balm.    

For my night routine, after cleansing, I use a gentle exfoliant, Paula’s Choice skin perfecting 8% AHA gel.  I discovered chemical exfoliants this past year, as opposed to physical exfoliants, such as cleansers with little beads.  Exfoliants get rid of dead skin cells on the top layer of skin.  Then I reach for a heavier moisturizer, DERMAdoctor wrinkle revenge.  I don’t know about the wrinkle reducer/prevention properties of this cream, but my skin loves it.  This cream is pricey, but it shows up on hautelook (a flash sale site) every once in a while, and I can pick it up for a lot less.  Then I use the same eye cream and lip balm.

for MAKEUP:

ahsang 2014 faves -2

For my 5-10 minute routine, I use my moisturizer, eye cream and lip balm.  Then I go in with my NYX eye shadow base in skin tone.  Even when I don’t use eye shadow, this will neutralize any redness and any veins showing on my lid.  Then I have to conceal my under eye circles.  In 2014, I used Revlon photo ready concealer in light medium all the time!  I blend my concealer in with my beloved green beauty blender mini.  It’s a sponge that you use wet (squeezing out all excess water), and it blends in makeup seamlessly.  Next, comes my brows.  I have pretty sparse brow hairs, so without brow products, I look like I have no eyebrows.  I have tried out a lot of brow products over the years, but my favorite has been Too Faced bulletproof brows in universal brunette.  Lastly, I’ll follow up with some lip color.  My favorite lip products have been twistable lip crayons.  They’re easy to use, come in a variety of finishes (matte or glossy), and the color payoff is great.  Almost every brand has this type of lip product now.  I love the minty freshness and color of Revlon’s kissable balm stain in cherish.

When I want to go a little further with my makeup, I use a little eyeshadow and liner.  I have to use an eye primer on my oily lids to prevent creasing and to make eyeshadow last longer.  I really like Urban Decay’s primer potion and NARS smudge proof eye shadow base.  Next, I use the NYX eye shadow base, eye shadow, and then a little eye liner.  Stila’s waterproof eyeliner in lionfish has been working out really good for me.  Once it sets, it doesn’t smudge under my eyes.  I also suffer from weepy allergy eyes, and this liner is pretty waterproof. Next is under eye concealer and eyebrows.  I finish with a little face powder (I have been using MAC’s mineralize skinfinish natural in medium plus), and lip product.

For special occasions, I will add in foundation, bronzer, blush, highlighter, and mascara.

Also, I always keep Clean&Clear oil blotting sheets in my purse (or the drugstore version) to blot my oily t-zone during the day.  I can use that to take away the shine instead of constantly powdering my nose.

This may all seem excessive to some people, and I’m by no means a beauty expert, but this works for me and I like it.

Here I am with my version of a full face of makeup on my birthday last year:

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 10.00.21 PM

What about you?  What are your resolutions?  What are some of your favorite products?  I’d love to know!

Happy Wednesday!

December Daily 2014 is done! Days 18-25

I am done with my December Daily 2014!!!  I absolutely love this project, but am glad to have finished!  My desk is insanely cluttered with Christmas product as well as everything else I normally have on hand!  I literally have maybe a 9×9 section of clean space.  Here are my final pages!

Day 18:  winter party at school & finally going to see Santa.

ahsang dd2014 18

Day 19:  a present for the girls from our elf & crafts.

ahsang dd2014 19

Day 20:  another craft, our favorite dinner for cold nights, and I finished shopping & wrapping!  woo hoo!

ahsang dd2014 20

Day 21:  gingerbread house.

ahsang dd2014 21

Day 22:  our Santa dorkie (dachshund & yorkie mix) & new ornaments for the year.

ahsang dd2014 22

Day 23:  colored ornaments from the kids & Hobbit movie with my sister.

ahsang dd2014 23

Day 24: cookies for Santa, and our Christmas eve tradition of opening gifts in Christmas pjs.

ahsang dd2014 24-1

ahsang dd2014 24-2

Day 25:  Christmas!

ahsang dd2014 25

I also punch holes into all the Christmas cards we get in the mail and add them to the back of my album.  Do you have a December Daily album?  Have you finished?  I would love to see!

My favorite products to use this year were the gold glitter stars by Studio Calico, the tiny word stickers by Teresa Collins, the number tags found here: http://simpleasthatblog.com/2014/11/free-printable-advent-calendar-christmas-countdown-tags.html, and the Christmas printables by Geralyn found here: http://creativebubble.bigcartel.com.

Some other supplies used: Dear Lizzy, Studio Calico, American Crafts, Teresa Collins, freckled fawn, MME, pink paislee, Martha Stewart, October Afternoon, Jillibean Soup, and some older product from my stash.  I also purchased a paislee press digital template found here: http://the-lilypad.com/store/pressplate-no39.html .  The album I’m using is October Afternoon’s daily flash album. Questions? Leave a comment!

December Daily 2014: days 8-17

Hello 2015!  I hope you all had a great New Year’s Day!  I’m still a new blogger, so hopefully 2015 will be a great blogging year for me!

I am slowly but surely making progress on my 2014 December Daily…still plugging away!  (My desk is a disaster!)  I’ve already shared days 1-7 on my blog.  Here is part 2: days 8-17.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve blurred out a few names and faces for privacy.

Day 8 & 9: date night, finishing a family’s photo session & the hunt to find the beer we drank at Epcot.

ahsang dd2014 8&9

Day 10 & 11:  target, starbucks, and my daughter’s 3rd grade poetry slam.

ahsang dd2014 10&11

Day 12: sending out our Christmas cards.

ahsang dd2014 12

Day 13: back of our Christmas card and a birthday party.

ahsang dd2014 13

Day 14 & 15: dinner & L’s dance class.

ahsang dd2014 14&15

Day 16: another dance class for L & letters to Santa.

ahsang dd2014 16

Day 17: E’s dance class party

ahsang dd2014 17

Some supplies used:  Dear Lizzy, Studio Calico, American Crafts, Teresa Collins, MME, pink paislee, number tags printable found here:  http://simpleasthatblog.com/2014/11/free-printable-advent-calendar-christmas-countdown-tags.html.  I also purchased printables from Geralyn found here:  http://creativebubble.bigcartel.com, and of course older product from my stash.  The album I’m using is October Afternoon’s daily flash album.  Questions?  Leave a comment!

Happy Saturday!