Favorites For Hot Summer Days

I love summers in Korea. They are incredibly hot and humid, but something about warm temperatures even at night and constant sunshine makes me feel all happy and cozy.

Here are my favorite things to survive those hot days on Jeju Island and make them enjoyable.

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Drawing my favorites, watercolors in a Canson sketchbook. Love doing these blog illustrations!

One quick tip for anyone trying to draw in a humid country: Beware of your paper absorbing air humidity or even the tiniest amount of sweat! I use a textile or at least tissue paper to cushion my hand while drawing, so my skin never touches the paper itself. I also use a plastic pouch to put my sketchbook into when going outdoors in humid weather. Once the paper absorbed some level of humidity, watercolors will get splotchy results.

Nut milks and vegan bakeries are on the rise in Korea, with new cafes and specialized stores popping up both in Seoul and on Jeju. I couldn't be happier!

Sweet and Delicious Vegan Summer Treats

Who craves sweets in summer? Winters have me go for stews and savory soups, but as temperatures rise, I develop a sweet tooth. And since out kitchen gets unbearably hot (as in, 40 degrees celsius during the day...) baking something myself isn't an option. I've been gravitating towards all kinds of nut milks in ice cold smoothies, and baked treats from all those vegan bakeries that have popped up in both Seoul and on Jeju. 

I'm not sure if it's related to veganism or just plain old lactose intolerance, but there are a lot of new cafes and bakeries offering dairy-free cakes and breads. I even found brownies made with silk tofu instead of butter in a small, unassuming bakery on Jeju. Nut milks are on the rise, too, and I've been drowning in walnut milk, hempseed milk and pistachio milk, which couldn't be more delicious!

Working from home and intermittent fasting are such a great combination. I've upped my productivity, free time and health ever since I started dabbling in IF and love how it makes me feel especially on hot summer days, when cooking is the last thing I want to do...

Intermittent Fasting on busy summer days...

I still plan on doing a longer blog post about intermittent fasting, but wanted to throw it into my summer favorites anyway. The mentioned SUPER HOT kitchen temperatures are one more reason to cook less in summer, and combined with automatically drinking more water during fasting periods, I just find the whole eating pattern of IF very suitable for summer. While I do crave more sweets in summer (ice cream, anyone?) I have less of an appetite when it's too hot overall, so this goes well with the one (or two) big meals a day pattern. 

My first try at intermittent fasting, documented in my bullet journal as a food diary and meal plan. I love looking back at it now - intermittent fating has become second nature, I do it without thinking and love all of its effects!

I'm also still amazed at how much time intermittent fasting saves. Working from home can make frequent trips to the kitchen way too tempting... And even just cooking, preparing, and cleaning up after several meals a day always took up too much time and mental space for me. I found it so much easier to just get started with work in the morning and to tackle all those smaller, annoying tasks right away with only a (large) mug of coffee as my companion.

I found my way back into Korean Dramas thanks to this!

Oh, Forest of Secrets. My K-Drama obsession from this summer. Maybe it was the pitch-perfect tone and directing, or the tight and riveting plot that didn't rely on cheap thrills or "Makjang", or the nuanced acting from the whole cast, or just the timeliness of the subject (bribery, intrigue, political favoritism) after the clusterf!@# of recent events in South Korea, this drama shot to the very top of my all-time favorites list. We watched the last two episodes with friends and cold makgeolli under a starry summer night sky and the whole experience was cathargic.
If you want to get a (relatively, it's still TV after all) realistic sense of life in Korea, of its business structures, and the bleakness one can feel when faced with large-scale corruption, while at the same time getting the suspense of a well-made crime thriller AND some truly lovely and hilarious characters and relationships, Forest of Secrets (or "Stranger" on Netflix) is the way to go! 

Cold and Mysterious Book Recommendation

Forest of Secrets had a cold atmosphere to it, with its somber color palette and bleak setting, and I took that theme and ran with it for my reading choices. Books set in the north, in wintery landscapes or fantastic ice worlds are the perfect mental air-conditioning when it's blazingly hot outdoors!

Some of my all-time favorites like the His Dark Materials trilogy or good ol' ASOIAF feature northern settings, and I've found a new book series that fits the same snowy bill. "The Bear and the Nightingale" is the first book in a new series based in Russian myths and fairytales. I didn't expect much (had the book in my Audible library for a while...) but the story had very interesting, nuanced characters, a lot of different and engaging POVs, a coming-of-age angle with all the time that went by, and it interweaves myth, religion, history and magic with a deft hand. I can't wait for the next part of the series!

K-Beauty Summer Skincare Favorite

Every. Single. Summer. Innisfree's Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is my favorite exfoliating wash-off mask. I use it about once a month in winter, and weekly during summer. Even on my desert-dry and sensitive skin, this mask provides just the right amount of gentle exfoliation, removing gunk and dirt (TMI) while leaving my skin soft and moisturized. 

Innisfree came out with multiple versions over the years, and while some are more convenient (mousse based) or have additional effects (their new color clay masks with purposes like brightening and calming) I always come back to the Super Volcanic Clay Mask in the end. 

Behold, the volcanic rocks of Jeju Island. :)

More food favorites! 

One is simple: FROZEN blueberries. I never get the fresh ones but buy large frozen bags to stuff into my freezer. A handful of ice-cold blueberries are the perfect topping for muesli, oatmeal, smoothies or.... I just eat them. Like tiny fake icecream balls. 

And then there's a tiny chocolate shop in our village Sehwa on Jeju Island, selling freshly roasted whole cacao beans and a delicious selection of handmade chocolates. The beans come directly from Ecuador and are roasted in the back room, leaving the air scented... 

While I love cacao nibs, my first bite of actual freshly roasted cacao beans was a whole new world of taste! I might have a bit of an obsessive problem with these by now. 

That's it for my summer favorites. Lots of food, cold fictional and not-so-fictional worlds, and fasting for more free time and less time spent cooking. 

My Early Summer K-Beauty, Food and Book Favorites

How do you keep the summer heat from getting to you? Are you looking forward to fall? 

Shopping in Seoul: Korean Makeup Haul & Reviews

When I went to Seoul a couple of months ago, I indulged in a bit of shopping after a long 'no-buy' period. 

I'd wanted to post detailed reviews of the makeup and skincare products I'd purchased, similar to the beauty reviews on my old blog - but just never seemed to get around to that topic! There were so many other posts I'd wanted to write first. Now I'm happy that I waited since I could try the products for a long time.

So here's a lightning round of mini-reviews for my Korean beauty haul from February. 

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All products are bought by me without any sponsoring. 

Shopping in Seoul: Makeup and Skincare Haul and Mini Reviews. K-Beauty, VDL, Clio, Beauty People and lots of sheet masks.

When visiting Seoul to do some last minute shopping before attending a wedding, I'd been looking for lip products and a foundation and/or concealer since my old ones were empty.

Guest at a Korean Wedding: Do's and Don'ts and Customs

 Thanks to shopping with two beauty bloggers that know what they're talking about and had lots of recommendations, I went home with a bit more than I'd planned on. But first:

Let me geek out over color theory here for a moment!

Orange lipsticks are great for evening events! In dim light, red just looks dark or even black to human eyes, while orange is one of the colors that can be perceived even in relative darkness. That's why signs and clothing that need to be visible in darkness are usually bright orange or yellow. Since yellow isn't really a lipstick color I could ever pull off, orange is my color of choice for evenings, softly lit restaurants or bars - it just looks brighter and more lively than reds!

Enter the CLIO Mad Matte lipsticks. These matte lipsticks have a very forgiving texture. Instead of going on heavy and creamy, they're incredibly lightweight and just coat your lips with an intense punch of color. The finish feels slightly powdery, but while dry and matte in itself, doesn't dry out the lips or accentuate lip lines. 

 
 


I actually use this lipstick a bit like a lip tint for its staying power and adherence. 
The shade #2 Sunlit Orange was recommended to me by Ohmyglossblog (she has swatches of the lipstick here) and I wore this lipstick to the wedding event the same evening. It's a bright and intense color but works really well with simple eye makeup. 

(If you shop via Amazon for K-Beauty, you might want to use Ebates, especially now before the holidays - they offer a bonus of 10$ on top of the usual cash back if you sign up via a recommendation/ referral link until the end of December.)

Next, we visited VDL, where my search for a concealer evolved into the quest for the holy grail perfect cushion foundation. 

Shopping at VDL for Cushion Foundation 

VDL is one of my favorite Korean makeup brands. Their primers are wonderful, and they have a lot of high-quality lip products in a wide variety of colors and forms (cubic, for example).

So when their Metal Cushion Foundation was on sale, with two free refills in the bargain, I caved, swapped for a matching hue and went with the Moisture Glow edition in shade A201.

This foundation gives even very dry skin a flawless dewy finish. If you're not one for the dewy look, this isn't for you, but I live for anything that keeps my skin from drying out. 
I've since reached for this cushion a lot! It's very sturdily packaged, easy to clean and keep hygienic thanks to the metal cushion design, and re-applies without smudging. 

 
 

Now that temperatures here on Jeju Island have risen, I was positively surprised by how little heat and humidity seem to affect this formulation. I just set it with a bit of powder around my eyebrows and nose and it stays flawlessly in place, without turning greasy, accentuating pores or breaking me out, as heavy formulations tend to in summer. Two thumbs up for this one!

Seoul Shopping Trip: My Korean beauty and makeup haul illustration and a lightning round of reviews! VDL metal cushion foundations, Clio Mad Matte lipsticks and lots of sheetmasks.

VDL Color Makeup Haul & Blusher Review

The sales lady that helped me swatch products and find my shade had a really pretty blush on her cheeks, so I asked her which shade she wore... and tried it, loved it and bought it. It's their VDL Festival Blusher Creamy in 103 OK, a muted coral that leaves me with rosy cheeks, that works with pretty much any color combination (pink lipstick, orange lipstick... the neutral undertone of this blush goes well with anything) and has a slightly dewy finish.
Often, cream blushes dry to a powdery finish - which kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion. I like to combine dewy foundation with similarly dewy blush, especially since my cheeks are the driest part of my face. 

I also received a free gift in the form of a lip tint: VDL Expert Color Lip Stain in 301 Absinth Mary. This smells divinely of roses and the muted burgundy hue looks grown-up without aging me (as darker lip colors normally tend to...). Not quite as long-lasting as the name suggests, but great color, finish and, again, that scent...!

Wearing the Moisture Glow Metal Cushion Foundation, a hint of the Festival Blusher, and the Beauty People eye liner.

Wearing the Moisture Glow Metal Cushion Foundation, a hint of the Festival Blusher, and the Beauty People eye liner.

Korean Brand "Beauty People" Eyeliner Review

Last but not least, I found an eye liner by the brand Beauty People, called the "First Highliner Brush Unit Pencil". While I'd seen the brand pop up here and there on Korean beauty blogs, I'd never tried a product of theirs before. The eyeliner (or highliner? What does that even mean??) is very buttery and applies smoothly - perfect if you hate tugging and dragging at your eyes! The shade #5 has the (ridiculous) name "Madonna Lusty", a neutral brown that's just light enough to work for under the eyes and dark enough for the upper lid. The brush at one end works surprisingly well with the melting texture of the pen, and I've been using this eyeliner a lot for quick makeup application since it's hard to mess up the application. It dries quickly and doesn't smudge. 

 

K-Beauty Sheet Mask Haul at Olive Young

And since you can't go beauty shopping in Seoul without grabbing at least one sheetmask, I somehow ended up with four. Seoul and its polluted air always wreck havock on my skin, so I was looking for a pamper session.

The Vitamin Water sheet masks had a jelly texture that was fun and cooling, but other than being moisturizing, I didn't notice much of an effect. 
The MediHeal Collagen Impact Essential Mask one though - that one worked wonders on my tired skin after I'd returned to Jeju from four days in Seoul! It actually plumped my skin visibly and smoothed the annoying lines around my mouth temporarily.
I've yet to try the 'White Truffle Oil - Aquablend Oil Pocket Mask' by Leaders Insolution, but am looking forward to it just for the strangeness. If it doesn't smell like a mushroom risotto, I'll be very disappointed. 
 

VDL's Cube lipstick is part of my lipstick sticker set - head here for the  printable! 

VDL's Cube lipstick is part of my lipstick sticker set - head here for the printable! 

That's it for my Korean beauty haul & mini reviews. 

I'm normally not a huge shopper (budget constraints cough cough) but when I do, I prefer choosing products that work in different combinations and situations, like the blush, and am always on the look-out for additional gifts and sale events, which are abundant in South Korea - if you ever go shopping in Seoul, keep your eyes open! :)