Early Summer Favorites: Of Beauty, Books and Coffee
It happened: Summer is well and truly here!
Which means, for my life in Korea: The time of humidity and heat awaits.
In contrast with those looming summer months, May is a wonderful transition period. It's warm, sunny, invites for strolls outdoors and teases with not-yet overpopulated beaches here on Jeju Island.
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My mood was up, and as that seems to go hand-in-hand with actually taking care of myself, most of my favorites for this month are focused on health, relaxation, and good vibes all around.
Let's have a look!
In my ongoing quest to take better care of myself (oh, early twenties, when I could still pull all-nighters and eat crap without feeling like crap...) I added more healthy foods to my diet.
And seriously, the difference. On days when I eat "healthy", getting in my nutrients and vitamins, I'm energized and don't have any food cravings at all.
I've been loving hemp seeds especially. They work in both savory and sweet dishes - I can't stop putting these on oatmeal!
Another favorite of the last month is actually an older one... I once purchased Acai Smoothie Packs on a whim when they were on sale in Korea. They've been sitting in my freezer and I've been using them as an occasional treat. But! I just can't eat cold foods when it's cold outside, so I've pretty much forgotten about them during winter...
Now they're back with a vengeance! The strong aroma of acai berry works really well when mixed with other Vegan-friendly supplements like nutritional yeast powder or spirulina. I actually find that the acai smoothies taste better with the added tartness of nutritional yeast - so instead of trying to 'hide' the supplements, it enhances them.
Here on Jeju Island, and in South Korea in general, the typical summer dessert is "Bingsu"; shaved ice flakes. While traditionally just shaved ice and red bean paste (plus rice cakes), it's now pretty much impossible to find a place that doesn't make their flakes from milk, has ice cream or condensed milk added... so smoothie bowl desserts are my way to stay sane.
Iguacu Coffee and Lemon & Lime Tea for Summer
I've finally opened an old package of this Ahmad Tea Lemon & Lime Twist Black Tea last month and love it so much! It's got a light black tea base with the perfect hint of lemon and lime, without tasting like detergent - something most lemon-scented products remind me of.
Since lemons (and even more so, limes) are expensive on Jeju, I reach for this instead of actual lemon juice. This also makes for a great iced tea!
On the coffee front, while I do help out at the cafe most days and enjoy my freshly ground coffee as much as anyone, sometimes I'm just lazy and want a quick fix.
My husband ordered the Iguacu instant coffee online and I've never had a better instant one in my life. It has none of the artificial acidity and instead leans towards nutty. I drink my coffee black and without sweetener, so getting the basic coffee taste just right is my pet peeve!
This one is so delicious, it's a beast of its own, and while I have "normal" coffee in the morning, most afternoons I gravitate towards this instead - and it's even better when served ice-cold! Please, you rare coffee from Brazil, never be empty.
Korean Skincare & Makeup for Changing Seasons
Ah, skincare and summer. As the seasons change I can happily remove some of the heavier moisturizers from my skincare routine.
Instead, I use several lighter layers to customize my skincare to the mood my skin is in (angry beast? deprived wasteland? happy, glowing thing?) and make sure I still get the benefits of those heavier products without the pore-clogging that is imminent in summer.
On top of my other Korean beauty favorites, I've used the Sidmool Pure Bifida Ampoule a lot. It's very lightweight, nourishing, makes my skin look bouncy and poreless for a day, and works really well under makeup and sunscreen. Also, I got it as a 2-for-1 set and the bottles are huge, so I don't feel guilty when I slather it on.
Sidmool is a natural, cruelty-free Korean skincare brand that has some amazing staple products that work great for my dry, sensitive skin.
My old friend Innisfree had a sale event, too, and while I just wanted a concealer and lip tint, I returned with a blush and a ton of samples, too. Among those samples were several of their new Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Masks, which are WAY too much fun.
If you're into Korean skincare at all, you probably know the Innisfree Volcanic Clay Mask. It's been a bestseller for years and I've been using it ever since I first ventured into K-Beauty myself, since it's so gentle and doesn't dry the skin while still clearing it as a clay mask should.
So it would make sense for Innisfree to build on that success: They released colored versions with different purposes like "Brightening", "Vitalizing", "Trouble Care"...
I've tried three of them (each sample gave me about 2-3 applications) and really enjoyed the "Hydration" and "Soothing" version, blue and violet respectively. Still clay masks, the gel/cream textures are easier to apply and wash off, and they do what the name says. I've been moving away from sheet masks since the packaging and plastic waste bothered me, so these two masks are a great alternative for a quick moisturizing and calming mask.
The last product I got was a lip tint, the Innisfree Vivid Cotton Ink Lip Tint, another new release, in a bright reddish coral hue that screams SUMMER!! in all-caps. The tint mousse dries to a matte finish but is neither drying nor heavy - just a feather-light punch of very intense color. Also, this smells like peaches. Did I mention that it's perfect for summer? Yup.
The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers -
Favorite Sci-Fi Reads
The Wayfarer series (or rather, the two connected books that are set in the Wayfarer universe?) is adorable.
Doesn't mean that the books aren't also deeply moving, full of suspense and well thought-out. But really, reading both The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Book 1, or the Main Book) and A Closed and Common Orbit (the loosely connected second book) just took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Becky Chambers has a way of telling stories that make you invested in the characters from page one and leaving you completely satisfied with all her narrative decisions. Doesn't mean that everything is sunshine and rainbows (on the contrary, especially Common Orbit had me devastated in places) but in the end, each and every character of her varied, diverse (alieeeens!) cast is in a different place from where they started, has changed and grown and taken their lives in their own hands (claws/tentacles/appendixofchoice), for better or worse.
If you're new to science fiction, these books are a wonderful starting place. They have this vast sense of wonder that I love the genre for, without going heavy on technicalities.
If you already love science fiction, these books are still wonderful. And a perfect read for summer!
I read Small and Angry Planet months ago and plan on re-reading it next month after enjoying its sequel/companion novel so much in May.
A short one: I love my camera! Blogging has made me experiment more, has me take it along on trips and to take food pics - instead of only using my phone.
And the Nikon 1 J1 is tiny, lightweight and turning the lens to zoom instead of pushing buttons is so satisfactory! I've had it for five years and its sturdy (I'm known to drop things...), perfect for traveling and taking pictures without too much of a fuss.
Last but not least, a couple of very Korean things I've loved in May.
I rarely buy new clothes, keeping to the same staples (lots of grays and blues...), but I finally got a couple of linen pieces! From a shop called "Common Unique", where I'd buy every single piece of clothing if my bank account would allow, they make me feel all ready for summer, especially since I went for bright yellows and sky blue this time!
My watercolor sketching obsession continues, and I've been experimenting more with Korean calligraphy brushes. The bristles are rougher than my usual aquarelle brushes, but they allow for both very precise and very broad color application with one and the same brush. I'm still practicing but definitely recommend checking out some Korean/Chinese brushes!
Now, while I live in Korea and love the country, I rarely find music (or TV dramas, for that matter...) that really appeal to me.
In May, while on a little trip around the island, the song "Pattern" by Lee Haeri played on the radio and I immediately fell in love! Her voice is so versatile, I initially searched the song up online as "female duo" - it really sounds like two different people singing at times. (And yes, Lee Haeri is actually part of a duo called "Davichi", but this was her solo release.)
The song is laid back but with a nice tempo, bass and lots of dynamic. Most Korean ballads bore me to tears (they're lovely, but still...!) so this was such a nice change of pace and style!
Here's a quick sketch I made based on her (fail @facial features) as part of my portrait drawing challenge.
I'm trying to get more informed on what's going on musically and on TV here in Korea, and even found a drama that I enjoy without cringing haha...
That's it for my early summer favorites in beauty, books, food, music... as always, a mixed bag. What did you enjoy in May? Do you have Korean singers to recommend - with a similar style as Lee Haeri in Pattern? Could I convince you to give those two Sci-fi darlings a try?
Have a lovely June and thank you so much for reading and commenting! Blogging has been such a joy ever since I started in January and I'm grateful to all you lovely people. <3