What I loved in April & Free Netflix Stickers

Spring is my favorite season - not only because summer on Jeju Island and South Korea, in general, is a heat fest. And bug fest. But let's not go there. (Yet.) So spring is that perfect moment when everything's in full bloom, nature is pretty and survivable, and spring colors are back!

I've got lots of things that made me happy during April, so here we go!

This post contains affiliate links. You can check out my disclaimer here. 

First up: Skincare!

Spring is so kind to my skin. Winters in Korea are brutally cold and dry (with an extra dose of winds here on Jeju), and summer is humid and hot. 
Since I'd run out of pretty much all of my basic skincare products like cleansing foams and moisturizers, I went to my trusted brand Sidmool. They have a wide range of products with natural ingredients, from very basic and cheap to luxurious. 

My skin loves green tea as an ingredient in anything (it seems to calm my redness!), so I went with the Sidmool 'Green Tea' skincare line. 

The Green Tea cleansing foam is a low-ph, gentle one that foams up really well!The tube is huge for the prize and whenever I test with cleansing water/pads after foam cleansing, there's no residue of anything. I definitely recommend this if you've got sensitive skin and a tight budget!

The Green Tea Lotion... smells bad. But it's moisturizing, sinks in quickly and doesn't leave any sticky residue. A nice, no-frills layer of moisture after applying ampoules or essences. I like everything about it but the artificial smell and will continue using it. 

Then, the Sidmool Green Tea Wrinkle Repair Cream:

This cream has a bit of a scent, too, similar to the lotion but a lot less obvious. Texture wise, this is the perfect transitional cream between the two extreme seasons: Not overly heavy, but still very moisturizing, so I'd probably get away with using this even in summer. Also, let's face it: Now that I'm approaching my thirties (in Korean age, I'm 29), anything that says "wrinkle repair" for less than ten bucks, I'll love. Tube packaging for creams is also a point in favor since it's a lot more hygienic and travel-friendly than tubs. 

Last but not least, I smuggled this Green Tea Seed Oil into my order. I'd previously tried the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Oil and generally enjoy that ingredient. It has the calming effects of green tea while being very moisturizing. The Innisfree version is a bit heavier and takes longer to sink in, so I prefer the Sidmool one for spring/summer or day use. 

I've been using the Mamonde Oil Shine Stick lip tint in winter, too, but the shade Coral Star is perfect for spring! These oil lip tints are a lot less oily than the name implies, but go on so smooth, light and hide any sign of chapped lips. 
I'm waiting for a 1+1 sale to grab two more colors I've already swatched - Nude Rose and Jealous Red. These just look so beautiful, no matter the state of your lips!

My husband and I are marathoning all of The Good Wife! It's just such a well-made show, and since everyone is ALWAYS TALKING, I can sketch or layout (or blog - I'm watching now as I type haha) on the side.

Also, Julianna Margulies! I'd been staring at the promotional picture on Netflix before starting the show and wondering over and over again why she looked familiar. Turns out, she was Morgaine in The Mists of Avalon back in 2005! I absolutely love Marion Zimmer Bradley's Arthur saga and I'm waiting for Alicia Florrick to summon mystical powers. Not that she needs them. 

And Christine Baranski is a joy to look at and draw! I painted a couple of quick portraits of Diane Lockhart, Kalinda Sharma and Alicia for my #100daysofportraits challenge. 

Book recommendation: The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin

Speaking of great female characters: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin was so much more than I'd expected! I went in hoping for complex apocalyptic high fantasy and was instead thrown on an emotional rollercoaster. Can't really say anything more than that since I consider pretty much everything about the plot or characters a spoiler...

I think this book is best read (or listened to) without knowing anything. There are no info dumps. N.K. Jemisin writes gorgeously, experimentally and doesn't pull her punches. The second person POV worked so well for me, it pulled me completely into the mind of the character, and the narrator of the Audiobook does a great job with it. 

I'm now devouring the second book. :)

You can sign up for a free 30 day trial on Audible and download this book or any other for free here.  

I noticed that I still haven't used the chia seed package I bought back in August! I was so scared I'd use them up too quickly that I didn't use them nearly as often as I probably should. #nutritiongoals
So now I'm using them more liberally, and love a mix of chia seeds, oats, non-dairy milk, water and Matcha green tea powder!

Endangered Species Chocolate Bites: Dark Chocolate

These chocolates were a bit of an accidental purchase - I just craved dark chocolate and there was a 3$ gap to fill for free shipping. It happens. :)

BUT! While I'd normally not purchase single-packaged foods, for a chocolate lover like me these were actually great for portion control. And delicious! Just dark enough for me, and not too bitter for my husband, so I had to share...

In Korea, wearing only leggings or yoga pants isn't really a thing. They're always combined with oversized t-shirts, dresses or skirts.
But since I love my leggings - working from home does that to you - I just throw on this simple gray dress whenever spontaneous visitors arrive or I need to go out quickly. Gray works with pretty much every other color I own, and the simple style goes well with both cozy, lazy-day looks or more pulled together looks with tights and a blouse.

I want to get a version out of lighter material for summer, too! When I'm looking for simple, budget-friendly clothing I mostly use Korean online retailers like Gmarket or Ticketmonster. This particular dress was from Dailyshop.

I've been obsessed with 'Study With Me' videos on Youtube! 

Due to a client project that required me to be very concentrated while layouting I had to avoid my beloved audiobooks and music for a week during April and discovered the Study With Me culture. Especially the videos with just paper & pen sounds and white noise are so helpful in getting me going! 
A bit like the Tide app I recommended before, but longer and with a sense of 'we're in this together'.

That's it for my April favorites!
I like way too many things! 


Did you ever work with Study With Me videos playing in the background? Do you need music or silence to concentrate? Is Diane Lockhart's lipstick on point?

I made these cute little Netflix stickers out of the illustration above. Just download the file and print on your favorite sticker paper to then mark Netflix marathons in your calendar! Hope you like them! <3

iHerb Haul - Vegan in Korea

My latest iHerb haul for living as a cooking-mostly-from-scratch, on-a-budget vegan living in South Korea. This post contains affiliate links, all products are purchased by me. 

While South Korea is a paradise for online shopping in general, iHerb still is my go-to source for certain organic, vegan or natural foods and supplements. I've used iHerb even before I went vegan, mostly for facial oils and similar natural cosmetics that went well in combination with my Korean skincare routine. 

My most recent iherb haul as a vegan living in Korea. Staple products for cooking from scratch, sweet treats and coffee.&nbsp;

My most recent iherb haul as a vegan living in Korea. Staple products for cooking from scratch, sweet treats and coffee. 

Staple ingredients for 'international' vegan recipes 

Korea has a traditional cuisine rich in vegetables, grains, beans and seafood which has in recent years evolved to include a lot more meats and dairy. Living on Jeju Island gives me traditional temple food restaurants, organic tofu places and a variety of rice cakes and Jeju-style breads, but limits some other foods.

So while I can easily find a lot of staple products on local markets, others are harder to come by - especially following 'international' vegan recipes and meal plan tips can be a bit of a challenge when bananas are on the expensive side, almond milk can only be found in the large supermarket an hour away, oatmeal isn't the cheap staple grain you might expect, and avocados are pretty much non-existent.

My latest iHerb haul - cart overview.

This is where iHerb comes in handy. While I can't order any fresh produce, they have a lot of specialty food available that is hard to find on Jeju in particular. I order from them once every three months (which is how long their loyalty coupons last after each purchase) for just enough value to get free shipping.

Of course, I also buy the occasional special treat (because who could resist?), like in my latest haul a dark coffee by the brand 'Kicking Horse' - 454 Horse Power Dark Whole Bean Coffee. One can never have enough coffee beans, and I already can't wait to use that beautiful packaging for something else #recyclelikeaKoreanahjumma 

Creamed coconut for my curry cooking needs, and coffee-scented lip balm by Hurraw! because coffee-scented everything is good in my book.

Creamed coconut for my curry cooking needs, and coffee-scented lip balm by Hurraw! because coffee-scented everything is good in my book.

On that note: I also got myself a new Hurraw! lip balm - coffee scented! These aren't the most moisturizing lip balms in the world (they give instant moisture, but it doesn't last particularly long) but they just taste so good I can't resist. I mentioned their coconut version here.

I also bought what I thought at the time was coconut milk, but actually turned out to be something even better: Creamed coconut, which arrived as a solid block thanks to the slightly colder temperatures on that day. I keep it in the fridge now. To use the creamed coconut, you mix it with two parts warm water. I've used tiny portions of this (one tablespoon at a time) to mix into curries and baked goods and it gives just the perfect hint of coconut. Its expiration date is in 2018 and I plan on buying more of these since they're easier to store than normal coconut milk.

 

Sweet treats and peanut butter from iHerb. Vegan haul.

Sweet treats and peanut butter from iHerb. Vegan haul.

Vegan delights:

Another special treat: GoRaw Choco Crunch Sprouted cookies - I normally don't buy processed foods since they're more expensive than just getting the raw ingredients and making/baking/cooking myself, but these seemed really hard to make myself and looked delicious. I loved them! May have eaten all of them over just a few days... I'll probably not re-purchase since they are quite expensive, but will give the chai version a try instead!

I also got some new peanut butter by the brand 'Bell Plantation'. I'm definitely a 'crunchy' person - for some reason, smooth peanut butter is gross to me. The brand was new to me, but the tub was really cheap and it definitely passed the taste-test! It has a bit of a denser texture than other peanut butters we'd tried, and I personally prefer this. Goes really well on fresh baked bread! It's currently sold out on iHerb, but luckily I still have more than half of the jar left. Fingers crossed for its swift return!

Vegan baking staples for bread, banana bread, sweets... cacao nibs, coconut flakes and Muesli. Yes, I put Muesli in bread. Sue me.&nbsp;

Vegan baking staples for bread, banana bread, sweets... cacao nibs, coconut flakes and Muesli. Yes, I put Muesli in bread. Sue me. 

Superfood, secret bread ingredients and favorite breakfast muesli:

Organic raw cacao nibs by Now Foods. Cacao nibs have become popular in Korea lately, but are still very much over-priced around here. 
Look, I want to say that I only use these for baking or in smoothie bowls (something I rarely make, by the way...) BUT to be completely honest I just eat these by the hand-full. Don't judge!

Flaked, unsweetened coconut is another baking ingredient. I like to just toss ingredients into a single bowl and make random breads, and coconut flakes are a new addition to that ingredient-roulette I've got going. They're delicious on and in banana bread!

And then, of course, with me coming from Switzerland, I need Muesli. This one by Bob's Red Mill comes closest to my personal preferences - not too sweet (I hate most of the crunchy granola ones, especially since in Switzerland, we mix our Muesli with fresh fruit and yogurts that automatically make everything sweet enough) with a nice mix of dried fruit bits, different grains, seeds and nuts. 
I normally don't care for gluten-free products, but the mix for this one is just too good to switch to another one.

 

Swiss muesli breakfast habits, living in Korea

I mix my Muesli with basic oats, and generally use a lot of oats during the day. Hot oatmeal with cinnamon is one of my favorite comfort foods, and I mix oats into my breads (both sweet and plain) or to balance out excess humidity when making vegan bean burgers or lentil meatballs. They're great in smoothies, too, especially for busy days when there's no time to cook or prepare any elaborate meals. 

It's way cheaper to buy oats online if you're not keen on GMO - pretty much all of the affordable options in Korea are import products with no special certifications. Locally grown oats are more expensive and are mostly not for use as cereals, but to mix into rice when cooking.

iherb-haul-baking-korea.PNG

Baking bread in Korea

While there are a lot of bakeries in Korea, taking inspiration from France, Japan or even Germany (I see Bretzels everywhere lately), I still prefer to bake my own breads, both sweet and 'normal' ones. Bread isn't particularly cheap here - except maybe basic toast - and I just love full-grain breads with crunchy crusts too much to go for the mostly sweet and soft breads that are the most common here. 

Jeju has a lot of traditional breads like barley buns with our without filling, but not a lot of people bake themselves or even own an oven, since traditional Korean breads are steamed instead.

I get basic whole-grain wheat flour at the local supermarket (it tends to be cheaper than actual white flour!) but most Korean whole-grain flour is still pretty bland, so I like to order special flours online to mix with my usual fare here. This Dark Rye Flour really adds flavor and texture to bread even if I only use a little bit for each batch. Currently sold out, but the brand has a lot of different flours to try if you're into baking. 

Vegan staples haul from iHerb, illustration.&nbsp;

Vegan staples haul from iHerb, illustration. 

That's it for my vegan staples haul from iHerb! As you can see, I'm a total bread & carbs girl. Not saying this is the healthiest haul in the world (definitely not) but it sure is delicious and gives me a lot of basic ingredients to cook and bake from scratch here in Korea. 

Do you use iHerb? Any product you'd recommend - I'm always on the look-out for new muesli or sweet treats. :)

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!

This post contains affiliate links. This means I'll get a small commission should you decide to purchase from the linked source. Check out my 'About' page to get my full referral link policy!

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. 

Exercise

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.&nbsp;

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.