Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Harry Potter Themed Party

Being the Harry Potter geek that I am, I had to throw a Harry Potter themed party for Christmas/my birthday last year (yes this is quite an over-due post). I ended up prepping this all by myself (the boyfriend was sick and slept the whole day) so didn't take as many pictures as I should have but it ended up going fantastically and I was really pleased with everything. Of course I have Pinterest to thank (link to my board with my inspirations) for most of the ideas but all in all, it was a lot of fun and now all my friends have a Pottermore account, wand, Hogwarts House, and a Patronus!

If you're into Halloween and have lots of props packed up, you'll have an easy time prepping the house. I borrowed a giant spider from my boyfriend's parents and shoved it right on the floor (was going to hang it but it was 6 ft long body not including the legs) so that was a nice touch. We also had candles lit all around the house (yes fire hazard but they were all safely placed and no kids running around) and I had used red lipstick to write on my bathroom mirror with the signature "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened again..Enemies of the Heir Beware" which was great and spooked some of my friends haha. I also had a corner of the wall decorated for photos so here's one of my friends being cheeky (he's dressed in his house colors if you can guess..)
I made a few wands for photos and just for fun and it was actually so much fun to make and decorate them. I used wooden chopsticks as my base and a hot glue gun to create the designs. Definitely be careful - I burned myself a few times. I watched a few Youtube videos (just search DIY Harry Potter wands) and looked up some pictures of main character's wands for inspiration and help but really it's not hard at all and have fun with it! The hardest part was probably painting over the hot glue because sometimes it would rub off? I used acrylic paint so not sure if that made a difference or not (I think that's what most people do). It took multiple coatings (with drying in between) to get the wands to satisfactory state but overall my friends were really impressed and I was really happy with them!
Can you guess which wands were inspired by which character's wands?!
I had a little stand set up to be a photo booth (hence the polaroid camera included) with the wands and the books!
Onto food! I set up a table with drinks and candy all Harry Potter themed. Because my party took place in the late afternoon, our real dinner food was normal pasta and salad but I did set up the dining table pretty nicely as well (unfortunately didn't take a picture of it) with candles and other sorts to make it look like a Harry Potter feast. If you're looking for real Harry Potter food rather than candy and what not, I'd suggest some sort of pie or pot roast in addition to possibly a soup and salad. Real food ideas were harder to come by on Pinterest and online but when in doubt, just go with anything British!

A lot of the containers I got from Michael's Crafts Store so I'd suggest checking them out if you're looking for some ways to add magic to your party. I got the test tubes ($1 each), light bulb jars ($1.99 each if I recall correctly), mason jars with handles ($2.99 each), and the milk jars (not sure how much these cost, have had them for a while). The Ferris wheel in the back is actually a cupcake holder I bought online from Ebay for less than $20 a while ago. I didn't have time to make cupcakes to actually fill it with but it does spin which is pretty cute haha. The chalk board signs are supposed to be to label cheese I think but their pretty multi-purpose. I got them from Crate and Barrel but I'm sure you can find them online for cheaper as well.
The powdered dung beetles were just jello mix (actually the yellow one was lemon flavored Gatorade powder) that people were to mix/create drinks with. I looked it up and you can use jello mix for this purpose so you can use it as an option if you have jello mix lying around (like I did). If not, you can also just get powdered Kool-Aid or some other powdered drinks and let people have fun! I also made pumpkin juice (see image below; there's only one filled since I had the others in the fridge) using this recipe. It's not bad but you do have stir it frequently or else the pumpkin mix sinks to the bottom. If you're too lazy to click the link (you do have to scroll down through all their photos to get to the recipe), here's the ingredients (just mix it all together)
  • 4 liters apple cider or apple juice (what I used)
  • 1 small (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. sugar (you can add less depending on your preference)
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I just mixed cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Not pictured, but the mason jars with the handles in the back were filled with Butterbeer (what's a Harry Potter party without butterbeer?!) which I made by mixing Root Beer soda (1 L bottle) with a hearty squirt of salted caramel extract (don't shake it to mix it...seems obvious but it went over my head). Then I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream into the jars and poured the soda+caramel mixture in. I can't drink soda but all my friends said it tasted really good so I think it went well? Haha.

A lot of people use Ferrero Rocher as snitches but I didn't have time to make wings and stick them on so I thought, hey golden eggs are a thing and shoved them into a parfait glass I got from a thrift store haha. I didn't take up close pictures of the two jars next to the golden eggs but you can see them on the sides of the photo. The one of the left was filled with gummy worms (Target brand cause I'm cheap) labeled as "dragon worms" and the one on the right had Bean Boozled Jelly Beans (their pretty expensive) on the top layer and then regular knock-off Jelly beans (again Target brand) on the bottom to fill the jar up. Take note that the jar STUNK like smelled SO bad when we opened it and those bean boozled jelly beans do NOT mess around when it comes to the nasty flavors! Had I had more time, I would have created the actual Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans box (here's a template ad another one) and put them in there because I think that's so much cuter. Next time though...!
Of course I had to make macarons with the Harry Potter theme! I used an edible black marker (this is the set I have) to draw the designs and used my basic macaron recipe (blog post here) with some dyed a certain color. I'm pretty proud of my HP font too :) By the way, I got inspiration for these designs from a Pinterest photo I saw so not taking credits!
I also made some chocolate frogs (got a cheap mold for less than $5 on Amazon) and was going to fill one with some ghost pepper shavings..but my mom saw the ghost pepper and freaked out and said it was going to burn a whole in someone's esophagus and threw it out the day before my party. So buying another one wasn't an option so I used some normal hot peppers and hid them in 2 of the chocolate frogs and gave them to my friends. Boy were they surprised haha!

So that about wraps up my Harry Potter party and everything it entailed. I apologize for not having more photos but hopefully this gave you some ideas on how to throw your own Harry Potter party! Have fun with it and embrace your inner wizard/witch! <3

Does Castor Oil Work to Grow Your Eyelashes?? [REAL TEST!]

Being your typical Asian girl, long thick full luscious eyelashes are something I don't have. It's never been extremely bothersome though and I've never felt self-conscious or ashamed of my lashes. Heck, I'm pretty lucky because my lashes are actually a decent length for most Asians and I'm fortunate enough to not have short lashes that grow downward and into my eyeballs (yes that's a thing; it happened to my cousin and also a friend who actually had to get surgery to correct it because they were scratching/damaging her eyes!).

But that's besides the point. After watching numerous beauty gurus talking about RevitaLash or some other lash elongating or thickening product (many of which cost $60 and upward for a small mascara size bottle), I decided to give some DIY products a go. I started with just using my organic lipbalm to "coat" my lashes every night but then I did some research and found that Vaseline can be helpful (some controversy on it though) as well as castor oil. Castor oil seemed to be really highly recommended so I decided to get a bottle of castor oil from Now (pretty reputable brand, highly rated) on Amazon ($9.15 only for 16 oz!). The bottle is HUGE. I'm not sure how I'm going to finish it although I have been able to use up more by mixing a squirt of castor oil with some cheap body lotion and using it on my body.

NOW Castor Oil, 16-Ounce

I've used the castor oil every night (for about 2 months now) and apply just a little (pea size amount) on the tip/edge of my index finger. I put any excess oil onto the back of my other hand and apply the oil to upper lashline (the root of the lashes!) of one eye. I usually swipe the side of my index finger back into the excess I've wiped onto my hand to get some more product and then move onto the other eye. Then I'll use what's left on my finger to coat the bottom lashes. People say you really just need to get the base/root of your eyelashes rather than the whole entire eyelash but I find the oil on my finger tends to hit/coat the whole lash while I'm focusing on putting product on the lash line so basically, I end up coating my lashes as well as the root. Don't think it hurts to nourish the lash tips although if it gets in your eye, it kind of itches but it's not a huge deal (I actually wear night time contacts and haven't had too much problem with the product getting in my eye or irritating my eyes but just a word of note I suppose). Probably the better method to apply the castor oil would be to use a Q-tip/cotton swab but I'm too lazy to buy them/my finger works just fine for me but to each their own.

Now I'm not an ophthalmologist or optometrist so I can't say if this is safe or bad for your eyes/lashes but I haven't noticed any negative side effects in the last 2 months that I've been doing this (ie redness, allergic reaction, etc). The only possibly one downside is that maybe the castor oil clogs my pores because about twice, I've gotten a pimple on my upper cheekbone/under my eye which is pretty rare for me but I'm not sure if that's due to the castor oil. I've also gotten about 2 pimples within my eyebrows which seem to be associated with when I put any leftover castor oil through my brows (thought I'd try to thicken up those too) so I've stopped doing that. I read on a website (here is one site and another site that talks about the comedogenic properties of castor and other oils) that castor oil can clog pores on some people so I'd definitely suggest trying it out for a day or two first before really going for it. Despite possibly getting pimples around my eyes because of the oil, I haven't gotten any pimples on my eyelids or lashline (no styes) and I actually had what I think might have been a milia (keratin filled bump) which you can see in the initial pictures below and it's now gone away possibly because of the castor oil (it gets on my eyelids when I'm applying it, sometimes I rub the leftover/excess around my eyes like eye cream). So as a final warning, just be aware of any skin changes and stop if you think the castor oil is causing negative effects.

Okay so here's some picture results from my last 2 months of using castor oil (what you've all been waiting for).
I apologize for the lighting difference and meh quality but these were taken off my phone with no product on. The top 2 photos were at the start (February 2017) and the bottom 2 photos are now (April 2017). I'm going to continue using the castor oil since 2 months isn't a whole lot of time, and update this as it goes but so far I haven't seen that much of a difference..can you guys? It's definitely a bit disappointing that there's not much change and I actually did some MORE research on castor oil and found that only some people have actually seen eyelash growth with it so maybe it's not as effective as I initially though.

There is an actual medical product that boosts eyelash growth but requires a prescription and is incredibly expensive. It's called bimatoprost (generic) or Latisse (brand name) and has been shown to be extremely effective in lengthening your lashes. I don't plan on getting that though because (1) price and (2) a friend tried it and said after stopping, her lashes seemed stunted in growth (this has been mentioned by others who've used it as well).

So hopefully this was somewhat helpful or interesting to read. I'm sorry castor oil isn't the miracle product (for me at least) but give it a shot if you want - maybe you'll be different? Anyways, what other DIY or actual real products have you guys tried to make your eyelashes grow?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Lip Products (Kylie Jenner and Alexis Ren x ColourPop Collection) + Swatches!

Recently I've been getting more and more into lip products especially liquid lipsticks. They're so fun (the bold colors!) and last quite well throughout the day, even through meals (well if you get the right brand...  more to come on this!). I still need to work on staying inside of my lip lines especially since liquid lipsticks aren't as forgiving as a traditional lipstick. Anyways, Alexis Ren recently had a collaboration with Colourpop and released about 6 items in her collection. I picked up 4 of the 6 and thought I'd share a swatch of these along with 2 Kylie Jenner liquid lipsticks my sister got recently as well.
Find this and more fun shots on my Instagram!
 The 4 items I got from the Alexis Ren x Colourpop collection were:
-Pressed Powder Face Duo in Topaz ($15)
-Blotted Lip in Lexi and Deja Vu ($5 each)
-Ultra Satin Lip in Bare Necessities ($6)

The two Kylie Jenner matte liquid lipsticks my sister picked up were in the shade:
-Candy K (lip kit, $29): described as a warm pinky nude
-Kristen ($17): described as a warm brown berry

I swatched all the lip products on my hand down below. I also have included a swatch of Beeper, an ultra satin lip liquid lipstick from ColourPop which is said to be comparable to Kylie Jenner's matte liquid lipstick in Dolce (which unfortunately I don't have but there are lots of comparison photos online!)
Personally, I think the quality of the Kylie Jenner and Colourpop liquid lipsticks are pretty much the same. They both have the same lasting power (Colourpop may actually last a little bit longer through food) and have high pigmentation. The Kylie Jenner matte liquid lipsticks are significantly more expensive and have a buttercream/frosting scent to them so if you're not into that, I would avoid these. The Colourpop lippies are all (I have multiple other ones as well) unscented. Like all the liquid lipsticks I've tried, both brands' liquid lipsticks tend to dry down a little darker then when you first apply them so just a word of caution. I would advise not applying more than 1 or 2 layers of either liquid lipstick as that tends to make them more easily rub off/smear (I learned the hard way..). Neither brand makes my lips feel too dry but I would advise lip balm after a day's wear of any liquid lipstick. They both fade off throughout the day nicely and don't flake off like other brands.

I like both the Kylie Jenner colors in terms of wearability (easy to wear on an everyday basis) where as some of the Colourpp liquid lipsticks can be a bit too bold for everyday. Beeper is definitely a dark brown mauve-y color (as you can see in the swatch) which makes it less work-friendly but I suppose that depends on your field of work. Bare Necessities is a nice peachy pink color though I noticed it did seem to smear a little bit more easily than Beeper or my other liquid lipsticks from the regular Colourpop collection. Not sure if that's because they used a different formula or if I was just eating/drinking more the day I wore Bare Necessities but thought I might just throw that in. Bare Necessities also might not look good on every skin tone (I think if you're a little darker than a MAC NC30-35 it might not look as good but that's just my opinion/from what my sister noticed when she wore it as she is a tad darker than NC30-35).

Lexi and Deja Vu are really nice. Both color are easy to wear and you can build up the color intensity. They're very creamy like a classic lipstick. They're not too drying and are a good consistency that doesn't accentuate your lip creases. The swatches on my hand were about 3-4 strokes/rubs on my hand (to give you an understanding of the pigmentation). I like the packaging of all the Alexis Ren collection products. It's like nice and classy with the black and gold!

I think I'll update this with more photos of me actually wearing the products on my lips/face but for now, hope you enjoy the mini review/hope it helps you decide if you want to buy them or not!