February Favorites - Beauty, Books and Tea

Already, March has started! So before February gets forgotten, I wanted to share my favorites for that month. It's a nice mix of entertainment, technology, beauty, makeup, and food. Enjoy!

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 My favorites for February, illustrated in watercolor. Featuring Numi tea, Korean fruit teas and beauty products (I'm getting into anti-aging for real now that my 30s are close), a super pretty productivity app and my favorite books and show of the month (or all time, who knows?).

Productivity Recommendation: TIDE App

I'm sure you've already heard about the 'Pomodoro' method. It's basically just a timer that's being set for 25 minutes of concentrated work followed by a 5-minute break. While I can't use such methods when painting or drawing (I always skip the breaks haha) I do like to use them when I need to 'power through' an intimidating list of tasks. 

The app Tide makes the whole timing-myself business feel like relaxation instead of stress! It offers five different background sounds (rain, coffee shop, ambient music and so on) that are perfect for a quick, focused effort. Also, it just looks pretty. I keep coming back to this! 

You can find the (completely free) TIDE app here.

Rogue One Soundtrack 

I loved Rogue One, especially the ending! And the soundtrack pieces 'Your Father Would Be Proud' and 'Hope Theme' still make me all emotional. They're also the perfect music to write or draw (tragic) storyboards to. I've been mixing them with Anakin and Padme's Theme and Jedi Steps. I may or may not have an entire playlist just endlessly repeating those tracks. 

 Making of for my February Favorites illustration. Trying to copy product typography is lots of fun, even if I had to squeeze a bit to get that HURRAW! text on the lip balm right...

Making of for my February Favorites illustration. Trying to copy product typography is lots of fun, even if I had to squeeze a bit to get that HURRAW! text on the lip balm right...

Food & Health favorites...

Numi Organic Pu-Erh Tea in 'Chocolate' 

Yes, chocolate. I love my teas strange and varied, but this one might be the crown jewel in my collection of 'sweet' teas. Often, tea with descriptions like 'dessert', 'caramel' or 'cookies' can be very one-note. This one is different: Yes, there's the chocolate flavor, but the tea as a whole is delicious, with so many layers of scents I just never get bored of it. 

Also, since it's Pu-Ehr, I like to tell myself that this is super healthy. Not only delicious. 

You can find the Chocolate Pu-Erh as well as many others by the brand Numi Tea on iHerb.

Korean Mandarins & Oranges Tea

Jeju's markets are now flooding with not only mandarins (those had their season in December and January) but all sorts of strange and delicious variations. Currently, the immense (I'm talking melon-sized here) Hagyul 하귤 and the sweet Cheonhyehyang 천혜향 are in season, and we've been making jams and tea out of both. Hagyul especially makes for a great sour-sweet fruit tea. We were able to get organic ones so we could use the peel, too. 

Traditional Korean fruit teas are pastes - quite similar to jams - that are then dissolved in hot water. 


As mentioned in my post on life as a freelancer and my plans for 2017, I'm currently easing out of some of my contract work. That means I actually have FREE TIME. And while most of that free time goes into drawing, creating new ideas and products for my Etsy shop, helping out with running the coffee/tea house and, oh, this blog, I did actually get back into doing a bit of exercise. I still have the terrible habit of only exercising around 11 pm or midnight, but hey, better than nothing!

I love the channel Yoga with Adriene for flexibility and relaxation (and hey, yoga has push-ups, too!) but also like using weights to hopefully get some of my long-lost muscles back.
 Once upon a time (...) I did martial arts and was overall active, but coming to Korea kind of threw me off. There are no classes near where I live, and I already get stared at when walking outside, so don't even get me started on jogging!

 February favorites in food, health, beauty, productivity, reading and watching! I live in Korea, so I'm very much into Korean teas and skincare products. Then there's some new favorites from iHerb, and a couple of book and tv show recommendations! All illustrated in watercolor. 

Beauty & Skincare February Favorites

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Intensive Ampoule & Essence

I got the full-sized product of the former and a TON of samples of the latter. Love both, even if they're completely different. The Essence offers quickly absorbed moisture with a refreshing scent (if you don't care for scented products, stay away from this line...), and the Ampoule is a thick, clear goo to help firm your skin. Korean skincare for 'anti-aging' is divided into two fields: wrinkles and 'firmness'/skin texture.

Since I don't (yet) have all that many wrinkles, I focus on the latter, and really liked the result of that Seawater Intensive Ampoule! It's rare that I can actually see results in such vague fields as 'plump' or 'firm' skin, but this one actually made a big difference in my cheek area, despite not using it every single day. Keep it up, please! 

HURRAW! Coffee Bean Lip Balm

I already own and love their Coconut Lip Balm, so when my next iHerb haul came up, I couldn't resist my deep and true love for coffee. This one actually smells like coffee beans with a hint of cacao, and maybe coconut butter? In any case, delicious. Hurraw! products are organic, vegan and this one contains jojoba oil (my favorite facial oil), coffee bean oil and cacao butter, as well as vitamin E. 
One downside: A lot of lip tints really don't like my Hurraw! balms and won't stain on top of these. But they work perfectly fine the other way around!

Hurraw! has a lot of different flavors and special lip balms - you can check them out here! 

Innisfree Eco Flower Tint in 'Rose'

This is my daily lip tint. A basic red, not too pigmented and very natural looking. Goes with anything and everything. I'm mostly just mentioning it because mine is nearly empty and these seem to have been discontinued? At least some of the shades have disappeared and I'm already sad.

Outfit Favorite

I've got this HUGE sweater that's got a skirt attached to it. It looks as if I'm wearing an overlength shirt underneath, so it's perfect when paired with leggings. Since the sweater is so bulky, I'm able to wear multiple layers for extra warmth... that was essential for that cold spell during February! Also, I'm just very lazy and this was the perfect working-from-home option.

February impressions from my Instagram...

Books & Shows February Favorites

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Audiobook

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and generally love a variety of genres. My favorites range from classics to science fiction to non-fiction. 
But one genre that had me in a bit of a reading slump over the last months was Young Adult. Maybe it was because of some anticipated releases that left me disappointed, or just an oversaturation of certain themes that run rampant at the moment. 

BUT. While I didn't love Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy, this book set in the same universe had everything I wanted: Multiple viewpoints (without re-hashing the same scenes and emotions), a cast of characters that kept me engaged, decisions that actually made sense and a heist plot with twists and turns all the way. Often, I find fantasy/YA books to be very draggy in the middle, after the initial setup has been taken care of, but Six Of Crows kept the tension high from beginning till end, while still leaving the characters room to actually think and be human beings. 

If you're on the look for a quick, satisfying, (deservedly) angsty and just fun read, take a look at this one! I don't think you actually need to have read the Grisha Trilogy (I never read the third book) - while you won't get any single easter egg or reference, Six Of Crows and its follow-up Crooked Kingdom stand on their own. 

I personally use Audible (I've got a gold membership which comes way cheaper than actually purchasing individual books) and can really recommend the mobile app especially! It's what I use while drawing, cleaning, during long commutes or even flights. You can try Audible for free for an entire month - and then just not continue if you decide it's not for you. You'll get a free audiobook out of it in any case! And if you like Six Of Crows, you can immediately continue with Crooked Kingdom. ;)

 Chrisjen Avasarala | The Expanse | Watercolor Fanart Portrait It's hard to choose a favorite character from the series, but Chrisjen Avasarala is my space mom. Her dialogue in the books is pure gold!

Chrisjen Avasarala | The Expanse | Watercolor Fanart Portrait
It's hard to choose a favorite character from the series, but Chrisjen Avasarala is my space mom. Her dialogue in the books is pure gold!

The Expanse on Syfy, Season 2 (currently airing)

I've declared my love for this book series over and over again, but hey, it's just that good! And I believe it's also very relevant to current political events. Or to humanity in general. 
On that note, I wasn't quite as enamored with the TV show adaption's first season. Or rather, the first half of the first season. The individual storylines felt a bit meandering when compared to the books, but stars did the atmosphere (or lack thereof hurr hurr space joke), the design and actors and the whole second half make up for that. Just keep going until you hit episode four! 

Now, The Expanse is on its second season on SyFy and I'm biting my nails while waiting for new episodes each week. I've read all the books multiple times, but the show hits that sweet spot of being incredibly true to its source material while adding enough new excitement and scenes to keep me on my toes. GO WATCH. 

February Bullet Journal - 'Plan With Me' March

My Bullet Journal for February

February is, literally, way too short. Especially the later half just flew by, and all my plans got thrown into the wind due to a short trip to Seoul - not having wifi does that to any freelancer and blogger.

So here's a look back at my planner spreads during February and a look ahead at my bullet journal setup for March.

 Experimenting with white colored pencil on my brown Kraft paper journal pages. I need to get white gel pens! February bullet journal daily to-do lists.

Bullet Journal on Kraft Sketch Paper

I switched from my Paperblanks planner to a blank Kraft paper sketchbook. The Paperblanks just always had too little space, which had me put only major tasks into to-do lists. 

The new sketchbook leaves me more room to add in sub-tasks, notes and move things around.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about the Kraft paper. But this sketchbook had been lying around for a couple of years without me ever using it (a shame, really, though I did use colored paper from other sources quite a lot) and finally found its purpose here. I hope to experiment with white gel pens in the future!

 Bullet journal weekly overview for February. I love organizing my different tasks according to their fields - work, personal projects, blogging... that one little habit tracker for yoga and exercising looks sad, though. 

13th - 19th Bullet Journal Entries

Since my actual monthly planning is done in another journal (I explain my overall planner and journal setup here) I refer to that one at the beginning of each new week and add in my most important, time-specific deadlines at the very top of the weekly spreads. 

For the example above, I used hand-drawn little frames to contain those most important points, or what I call the 'Focus of the Day'. If I draw those boxes any bigger, I'll start adding in slightly less relevant deadlines and everything gets messy.

Those mentioned 'less relevant' deadlines go below the 'focus of the day'. These are commissions, work deadlines, blog posts I want to write, sketches and drawings that need to get done for said blog posts, and maybe some Etsy products or Youtube videos.

The three little hanging banner doodles were for personal drawings I wanted to finish.

That yoga & exercise habit tracker bar never got filled...

 Bullet journal daily tasks and to-do lists. I fell behind on sketching and filming because there was just so much else to work on! 

Unfinished Tasks in my Bullet Journal

As you can see, a few boxes remain unfilled. Shame on me! Those are almost always related to 'sketches', which sadly fall on the very bottom of my priority list. I hope to get better at using left-over time during the day to sketch more, but since the only times when I'm not holding a pen already are when I'm holding chopsticks or coffee cups, that will have to wait. ;)

I also didn't set up the entire 'Work With Me' section to go with my portfolio. Simple reason: I had too much work piled up already to accept new commissions. Yay. I'll get back to this, though.

 The last days of February in my bullet journal. Being sick, a trip to Seoul and only rare bouts of working Wifi made this one a bit messy, but I still got all my important tasks done. 

Last Days of February Bullet Journal

The last one and a half weeks of February got only one spread together.

I got a bit of a fever during the first few days, and while I kept working on my laptop, it was hard to actually draw and paint due to dizziness. I did get everything time-sensitive done, but tasks like filming and editing speed painting videos got put off. 

We went to Seoul from the 24th to the 28th for a wedding and to take a bit of the nephew-babysitting load of my mother-in-law. The combination of not having wifi at my parents-in-law's house and a lot of time spent with two little children (have you ever tried using a graphic tablet and Photoshop next to a tech-savvy child? Don't.) made it so that I mostly just caught up on all that sketching I'd wanted to do, pre-write blog posts on my phone and plan for new work in March.

I actually got an exciting new project lined up with drawings needed from March till June - Seoul always means work meetings and new opportunities, too!


Reading List in my Bullet Journal

I love this page in my bullet journal! Keeping track of what I read should be fun over the year. Of course, these were all audiobooks - I listen to those while painting or drawing. It's been forever since I actually sat down with a paper-and-ink book in hand (the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson is still unfinished due to me switching from audiobooks to softcover for the last book. I'm just stuck.) but I can't live without constantly consuming stories, so audiobooks are my way. 

So far in 2017, I've re-read (or re-listened) to two out of the six books in The Expanse series, the second "Caliban's War" and the fifth, "Nemesis Games". Those are my two favorites (I think?! So hard to choose!) in the series. I'd already re-read the rest in anticipation of the last release back in December 2016. My favorite running science fiction/fantasy series, hands down, and something that warrants re-reading multiple times just to catch all the details and intricacies. 

I'm currently in the last parts of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Love the setting and writing, but have to be able to focus on this one so most of my drawing work is actually too distracting. Same for The Color Purple.

Instead, I inhaled Six of Crows and its follow-up, Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - more on those in my upcoming February favorites post. And now I'm hopping through Truthwitch and Windwitch. YA books are perfect for semi-concentration (if that's even a word) but I'm a bit picky, so I'm extra glad I found new crack that doesn't make me want to slap characters every couple of scenes. 

 Monthly bullet journal setup for March - with the motto 'Flexibility' since the later half of the month will probably be a mess due to moving to a new place. Keeping it small, simple and minimalistic, focused on to-do lists instead of daily goals. 

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread for March

Back to the other journal! Here's where I keep all the important stuff. As you can see, my March calendar isn't yet filled in completely. Actually, I had to keep the latter half empty since we're in the process of selling our home - whenever that actually happens, I have to be ready to throw everything else aside and move to a new place. While I do have some long-term projects lined up, they are flexible (or unpredictable) enough to not warrant fixed day deadlines. Or I pushed them ahead to be done before mid-March.

This is why, for this monthly spread, I instead focused on to-do list boxes below the calendar. That way I can keep track of projects without assigning them specific days.

Monthly Motto : Flexibility

As you can see, the overall motto for this month is 'Flexibility'. My daily routines might be very steady and strict (I want to get into that in a future blog post) but the overall month just has to accommodate a possible move in the later half. 

 Bullet Journal spreads for March - monthly and weekly/daily overview. I like to keep it tiny and simple, and since I hate going back and forth between pages, I'm using two seperate journals.

March Blogging, Drawing and Etsy Goals

Based on those meager dates in my monthly overview, I can start building my daily task lists. Since I fell behind on blogging during those days low on internet/high on fever, that will be my focus in the first week of March. I actually got a lot of half-finished posts just waiting for their turn!

Then, of course, there are open commissions, freelance work, drafts and sketches to be sent out, and Etsy orders to be shipped. On that note, March 1st already caught me off-guard since it's Independence Movement Day in Korea and the post office was closed. 

I recently started selling printables on Etsy and want to grow my available files in March. I'm especially excited for a crystal-themed planner sticker set I'm currently painting! 


If you'd like to get the monthly printable calendar (as well as a wallpaper for your desktop and mobile phone!) subscribe to my newsletter and I'll be sending out the files. This month's cat advice and illustration is this one:

 Cat illustration featured on my March printable calendar, desktop, and mobile phone wallpaper. Advice courtesy of Hedwig, my very street-smart cat. Illustrated in watercolor.

Cat illustration featured on my March printable calendar, desktop, and mobile phone wallpaper. Advice courtesy of Hedwig, my very street-smart cat. Illustrated in watercolor.


OOTD Sketch Diary - Going to Seoul Daily Look

Short Trip To Seoul - MOTD & OOTD

Second try for this blog post! It went online a couple of days ago but then disappeared from the face of the internet for yet unknown reasons. Fingers crossed for this one!

 My illustrated outfit of the day and Korean makeup favorites for a short trip to Seoul. Korea has its very own etiquette and rules when it comes to clothes, so I've added a couple of tips to navigate daily outfits in Korea. :)

I love going on short trips - the feeling of packing the bare minimum and using products that normally get ignored because they're just a tad too fancy or time-consuming to use in daily life. 

Seoul is a bit of special case since the metropolis is full of fun fashion, shopping opportunities, pretty coffee houses, with exhibitions and museums galore!

But at the same time, whenever we leave Jeju Island to visit Korea's capital, I have to squeeze in business meetings (I do design work for a local music label), quiet hours to actually draw and catch up on work time lost during the flight - and we're staying at our in-laws a good 90-minute drive away from Seoul's center, so our time is filled with family events, cooking and babysitting the cutest nephews in the world.

That means my wardrobe has to be flexible and minimal enough to fit into a tiny backpack, squeezed in around my laptop, graphic tablet and external hard drives. Clothes that fit all occasions are key.

 Minimalist outfit for a winter day in Seoul, Korea. OOTD Sketches & Illustrations on the blog. 

There are some basic tips for choosing outfits in Korea.

1. Beware the Kimchi

And all other spicy red food. If you're not totally confident in your chopstick skills, white blouses are your enemy. So if you'll be eating out a lot it's safer to stick with darker tops. 

2. Down to Earth

Or rather down to the floor. Depending on what sort of restaurant you visit, having to sit on the floor is a possibility. For that reason, I prefer wearing dresses or loose clothing in general to skinny jeans and short skirts. Especially if you'll be eating traditional Korean food a lot.


3. Shoes are made for walking...  

It depends on your pain tolerance, of course, but personally, I hate wearing high heels in Seoul. Taking the metro and generally walking long distances can quickly get uncomfortable and I always underestimate just how much time I'll be spending on my feet.

Also, again, depending on the restaurant you'll have to remove your shoes on entering. Koreans seem to have some supernatural speed skills when it comes to putting on and taking off shoes, so to keep up I make sure to wear nothing that requires binding shoe laces. Best are ones you can put on without the help of your hands.

4. Clothing Etiquette in Korea

While skirts can be as short as you can imagine (and shorter), Korean fashion tends to be more conservative when it comes to chest and shoulders. While shoulder-free blouses were a trend last summer, I rarely see low cuts or tank tops, even at the beach. It's perceived as sexy or sensual where exposed legs aren't. You can, of course, wear whatever you want! Just be aware that outside of clubs and bars you'll probably attract looks.

On that note: While some looks are timeless, Korea has been moving away from cute clothes towards more shabby chic or vintage styles over the last five years. There were a lot more pastel blouses, flared short skirts and lace to be seen when I first came to Korea, but maxi and midi skirts, loose fits and darker colors have taken over since then.

 Simple Korean makeup look for a day on the move. Moisturizing foundation and a long-lasting lip tint are key for dry plane air, and stick eye shadow is a quick solution for busy mornings. K-Beauty in Seoul, Innisfree & Aritaum makeup favorites.

Korean Travel Makeup

For the actual trip from Jeju to Seoul (including not only the short flight but several hours of driving and metro), I went with a simple look, especially since the morning was hectic enough without elaborate blending.

  • Innisfree Ampoule Intense Foundation in #13
    This foundation is cheap, my perfect shade (in winter at least) and most importantly very moisturizing - ideal for dry airplane air!
  • Aritaum Micro Eye Liner Brush
    Precision is key - and this brush liner is really easy to use even for beginners.
  • Innisfree Mineral Cream Blusher in #3 Peach
    ... Since powder blush can look overly dry when contrasted with that glowy foundation.
  • Innisfree Vivid Tint Rouge in #6 Summer Sun Red
    As a staining base to make sure my lipstick won't fade unevenly even after eating. 
  • Innisfree Cream Mellow Lipstick in #8
    This red color is surprisingly wearable even during the day, and a nice mix between moisturizing and well-adhering. 
  • Innisfree Eye Contouring Stick Round in #5
    For a super quick attempt at both eyeliner and eyeshadow. 
  • Aritaum Mono Eyes Shadow Palette
    This palette is the sturdiest I own, so I feel perfectly comfortable just throwing it into my bag. For simple eye makeup, I love the shade 'Earth' and 'Ginger Powder'.

That's it for my first day in Seoul! I'll be doing quick diary drawings and food logs for the following five days - but those will have to wait until I'm back at my calm, wifi-equipped desk. 

Have you been to Korea? It's a paradise for shopping, but my personal preference when it comes to clothes is on the boring side (lots of black and white - and most of all cheap!) so I keep it simple. :)

 MOTD and OOTD illustrations for a day in Seoul. Simple, minimalist daily outfit for mild winter days, and Korean makeup favorites for a quick, flight-appropriate makeup. Fashion illustration & Daily Look Sketch Diary on the blog.