Musings of a Little Girl in the Big City

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Travel Guide to Kyoto

Travel Guide to Kyoto

Kyoto is a special place for all Japanese. The former capital of Japan is filled with sublime gardens, tranquil temples and streets that are filled with old world charm. Tak and I stayed for three days and two nights in Kyoto and had so much […]

Top 6 Japanese Takeout in Midtown East

Top 6 Japanese Takeout in Midtown East

I love my Japanese food, and luckily, Midtown East where many businesses are located (including mine) have a great selection of Japanese lunches. Today I share with you my top 6 bento aka Japanese takeout stores in this busy area of New York.  Try pinning […]

10 Reasons to Go to Japan

10 Reasons to Go to Japan

I can’t believe it but I’m going to Japan in a month and a half. It feels surreal. This time I am going with Tak for the first time together so I am super excited for us to experience a place together that is so close to my heart! 

For those that have never been, Japan can be quirky and cute, modern and historical, bewildering and enchanting, all at the same time. 

Keep reading to find out top 10 reasons why you need to put Japan on your go-to list (like, yesterday!) 

  1. It’s remarkably clean

Good thing is, in Japan, you will probably not find rats carrying pizza in the subway!

In fact, Japan will be one of the cleanest countries you’ve been to.

Part of the reason why it is so clean is a. thanks to wonderful maintenance people that keep the streets, subways and facilities clean, and b. cleaning up after yourself is viewed as a matter of common courtesy and respect. And this shows on the streets in cities of Japan!

  1.  The food will change your life

 

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If you are a self-proclaimed Foodie, Japan is a must on your travel list.  

If you have the resources to enjoy fine dining, all the more power to ya, but personally, I love that I can go to affordable hole-in-the-wall type places and be over the moon because it would literally be the best food I’ve ever had.  

But don’t just take my word for it. Tokyo and Kyoto are two cities awarded with the most number of Michelin star restaurants in the world (Osaka is 4th after Paris), because when you’re in Japan, good food is all around you.

  1.  It’s technologically advanced in weird and wonderful ways

I love how Japan has gadgets, machines and home appliances that aren’t quite like anything I have ever seen. Every time I visit my parents’ home, I always find it funny and amusing that the toilet cover opens on its own when I open the door thanks to a motion sensor. Or that the washing machine plays a little melody when it’s done washing. Or that the floors are heated, or that the AC doesn’t need a window outlet to be installed. Some things I really wish we had here!

Outside the home, one of the things I find really interesting is the conveyor belt sushi restaurants (kaitenzushi in Japanese, kaiten meaning to go around, zushi is the modified word for sushi). First off, you don’t order from a server, you order from a touch screen monitor. Minutes later, the food you ordered comes on a conveyor belt at lightning speed and stops exactly at the counter or table you’re sitting at with amazing accuracy. It’s kind of weird in the best way possible! But then again, that’s how a lot of things in Japan are. #onlyinJapan

  1.  Everything is so darn cute 

 

Japan cute kawaii
In Japan, even plants are adorable

Japan is a country that knows how to make cute things. After all, they brought into the world Hello Kitty and Pikachu, and even Disney characters (which by the way Japanese people love), look cuter in Japan!

Sociologists say the Japanese infatuation with anything cute has to do with trying to escape everyday life and finding joy in something that is adorable. Whatever the reason, Japan knows how to do cute, and it is getting cuter by the minute.

  1. The endless shopping

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I love shopping in Japan because everything from the clothes, food, cosmetics and other goods are so interesting and have a different aesthetics to them that I enjoy.

Several places in major cities will even offer tax-free shopping to international tourists. Just show them your passport to save some extra yen.

One of the places I must stop at every time I go to Japan is the 100 yen store, which is like a dollar store, but it’s brightly-lit, spacious, and has tons of again, cute and practical goods. I always wish I had a big enough suitcase to fit everything I want to buy!

  1. You can feel as if you’ve traveled back in time

The Historical Quarter at Okayama
The Historical Quarter at Okayama Prefecture

Whenever traveling to the traditional streets of Japan, there is an air of old world beauty that make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. It feels peaceful and romantic at the same time. On our upcoming trip to Japan, Tak and I are going to Kyoto together, and I’m so excited to visit places like Gion to experience traditional Japan!

  1. Public transportation is a breeze and lightning fast

Trains in Japan are extremely convenient, efficient, and it can pretty much take you anywhere.

If you are traveling outside of Tokyo, in most cases, I recommend taking the bullet train, a high-speed railway service that is similar to Eurostar in Europe. See if the JR Rail Pass is worth it – for a 7 day pass, it costs only $252, so depending on how much you plan to travel, this could be a huge money saver. 

  1.  The Japanese Gardens and Temples

Korakuen Garden in Okayama Prefecture

Sure, Tokyo can get as hectic as any other city but perhaps that is why many locals, not just tourists, appreciate the country’s numerous gardens and temples. Peaceful, refined, and elegant, Japanese gardens and temples are the perfect places for self-reflection and meditation. These are the birth places of Japanese minimalism. I can’t help but try to see what people hundreds or even a thousand years ago saw in the same landscape, and be in awe and enjoy time peacefully passing by at the same time.

  1. It’s Perfect for Nature Lovers

Unkai Niigata 雲海 新潟
The ethereal view from Unkai in Niigata Prefecture

When you think of Japan, you might think of neon lights, karaoke, anime and game shows, but what isn’t as known is that Japan has numerous hiking trails and a spectacular natural landscape. I love visiting Niigata where my dad is from, a beautiful mountainous, northern region of Japan filled with breathtaking scenery. When Tak and I go next month, we are very excited to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto and hopefully waking up super early to avoid the tourists!

10. It’s ridiculously safe

Japan is one of the safest countries, with street crimes almost unheard of. This makes it an ideal place if you’re a female traveler or even better, a solo traveler.

It’s also good to know that people there are nice, and will try to help you out even if their English isn’t perfect. But that is all part of the experience!

And there you have it. Did I leave anything out on this list? Let me know in the comments below if I did!

10 reasons to visit Japan

 

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eos Crystal Lip Balm

eos Crystal Lip Balm

Eye-catching. That’s one word I would use to describe eos’ new Crystal Lip Balm. It’s no easy feat for brands to outdo themselves after coming out with one widely successful product, but to me that’s exactly what eos has done with their new Crystal Lip […]

From Runway to Reality: Anna Sui Spring 2018 Beauty Look

From Runway to Reality: Anna Sui Spring 2018 Beauty Look

Today, I want to talk about the makeup for the Spring 2018 Fashion Show Anna put on last week. Ever since I started working at my company which produces makeup for Anna Sui, it is a brand that I have fallen head over heels with. […]

Paul & Joe Lipstick Relaunch

Paul & Joe Lipstick Relaunch

For those of you who don’t know me, I work as a marketer for a makeup company and one of the brands I work on is called Paul & Joe. This past month, the brand relaunched its lipsticks and I thought I’ll share with you why I am in love with them. To celebrate the relaunch, we also held our first ever blogger event which I will share pictures from later on later in the post! But first, lets talk about the lipsticks themselves!

At Paul & Joe, we are all about customization and being able to create your own lipstick. What makes the brand unique is that the refill and the case are sold separately so you can “dress” your lipstick however you like and it’s actually quite fun! Below are some of the new cases that Paul & Joe released recently:

Paul & Joe new lipstick
The new lipstick case come in an improved, sleek and slim-fit design

 

Paul & Joe new lipstick
For the first time the lipstick cases are available in fabric as well – aren’t the prints just adorable!?

The lipsticks come in 24 gorgeous new shades – 3 in “clear” which have a sheer glossy finish, 14 in “natural” for effortless, everyday wear, and 8 in “full coverage” which are the most pigmented in the collection and my personal favorite, because lets be real, what girl doesn’t like beautiful bold lips ;)?

Paul & Joe new lipstick 207
A close up of the lipstick “Natural” shown in shade 207, a bright pink red to put a smile on anyone’s face!

Now, before I go on to my favorite shade from the collection, I have to share a little story: I once had a makeup artist tell me I should look for a plum color in lipsticks. I said “Plum?? Like purple??” in disbelief.

I have tried everything from bright, bold red to a deeper, more dark reds and something about them always looked a little “off”. I was particularly sad about not being able to pull off the bold red lip look, since it’s symbolic of old Hollywood glamour (hey, a girl can dream) but it clearly seemed to be a little bit of a mismatch for me so I had to give it up.

But I would have never thought to even try a lip color in purple, so when the makeup artist put on that vibrant plum shade on my lips I was shocked at how good it actually looked. She explained to me that purple is on the opposite spectrum of yellow on the color wheel so the plum shade provides a great contrast to my skin tone. While I would’ve honestly thought this would clash with my skin, color theory aside, it looked great. I knew then that this was my shade of lip color!

So ever since then, I’ve been looking for the perfect plum shade and needless to say I was  over the moon when Paul & Joe came out in a lipstick with a bright, purple tone. The shade below is Rose Chinoise (302) in Full Coverage:

Paul & Joe new lipstick in my favorite shade 302 Rose Chinoise.. yep its a bright plum color. Who would have thought?

In addition to the beautiful shades, the lipsticks have a very moisturizing and long-lasting finish that really keep my lips hydrated without remotely drying them out. This is coming from a girl that has lips as dry as the Sahara dessert so I mean it when I say these are great for anyone who has ever struggled with lip colors drying out their lips- these lipsticks keep my lips moisturized!

Aside from the lip colors, we also have two specialized lip products – a pearl lipstick that adds glitter over the lipstick and a treatment lipstick to seal your lips with moisture.  The best part about them is that they come in the shape of a cat!

Paul & Joe Pearl Lipstick
Paul & Joe Pearl Lipstick

To get the word out about our new lipsticks, we invited some influencers as well as online editors to learn about the relaunch. While I was nervous about how the event would turn out, it went really well and we received positive feedback from all the attendees.

The event was held at Pucker Makeup Studio in Soho.

Paul & Joe Event at Pucker Studio
The setup at the Paul & Joe Event at Pucker Studio

Paul & Joe at Pucker Makeup Studio

Paul & Joe at Pucker Makeup Studio
Team in action at the Paul & Joe event
Paul & Joe Lipstick
The theme of the event was “A Night in Paris”
Paul & Joe at Pucker Makeup Studio
Guests watching our national Makeup artist Jocelyn give a demonstration of the “5 steps to the perfect lip” on Phoebe
Paul & Joe new lipstick shade 303
Phoebe in Oiseau Tropical (303) topped off with with Pearl Lipstick after the demo. This striking hyper orange adds pizzazz to any look!
Pucker Makeup Studio
With our French themed drinks
Paul & Joe at Pucker Makeup Studio
Photobooth fun

 

Paul & Joe Beauté event! Dia de conferir as novidades da Paul & Joe, marca francesa baseada no Japão. Tudo é tão fofo, mas tão fofo, que nem dá coragem de usar! Amei a textura da Gel Foundation, parece um cushion. E o lip balm em formato de gatinho, como não amar? Aqui em Nova York da para encontrar alguns produtos na Ume Cosme (318 E 9th St) e, claro, no site da marca www.paulandjoe.com . 🇺🇸Paul & Joe Beauté event! Checking out the new products from Paul & Joe, French brand based in Japan. Everything is so cute! I loved the Gel Foundation texture. And what to say about the cat lip balm? Here in New York you can find the products at Ume Cosme – and also online www.paulandjoe.com #paulandjoebeaute #makeup #instabeauty #newyorkcity #instabeauty #shopping #instamakeup #beauty

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The lipsticks are available for purchase online at Beautyhabit or B-glowing!

For more information on our releases, be sure to follow Paul & Joe on Instagram!

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Crabbing in Captree Park, Long Island

Crabbing in Captree Park, Long Island

A few weekends ago, I visited Dave, a friend from high school. It’s so nice to meet up with him and see how much our lives have changed but still share something common from the past, like having been to the same high school in […]

Best Winery Tour in Long Island

Best Winery Tour in Long Island

You can find the Japanese version of this article here. Can I be brutally honest? Summer in NYC is not that great! it’s just too hot and humid to enjoy any activity you might be doing. This being like my 5th summer in the city, […]

Weekend Guide to Philadelphia

Weekend Guide to Philadelphia

I went to Philadelphia with Takashi over Memorial Day weekend and I’m finally having the chance to sit down and write about it! My friends have asked me why out of all the places we could go to, we chose Philadelphia. Well, living in New York can definitely get a little overwhelming sometimes, and I  was just looking for a quick place to get away that also didn’t require a car to get to. While not having a car can be difficult when you’re trying to get away but also don’t want to fly, I was determined… actually admittedly desperate to find somewhere quick, convenient and still fun.

Philly, it turns out is a city that’s great for walking. And Tak had been there many times before so I thought what’s better than going with someone who already knows their way around!?

Overall, Philly is a beautiful historical site but also an interesting modern city. I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a quick trip from New York. Although we didn’t get to see everything (you will not find the Liberty Bell here haha), a night in Philly was perfect for us and just what we needed to get away.

Philly
Downtown Philly

Getting There

If you don’t have your own car there are three main ways of getting to Philly. You can get there by Amtrak or the NJ Transit, or you can do what we did which is by bus – it was less than $30 per person and the ride didn’t take more than 2 hours, which was great especially for Tak who love being out and about (aka can’t sit still haha)! Since he lives on the West side of the city near the Megabus stop, we chose this bus line to take us to Philly.

Things to do

In order of where we went, here’s what our itinerary consisted of:

Day 1

1.Reading Terminal Market

As soon as we got off the bus, our first stop was the famous Reading Terminal Market – what I call Philly’s version of Chelsea Market (although Reading Terminal came way before Chelsea Market). From Amish bagels to seafood, burgers, and desserts, they’ve got something for everyone here. Based on Tak’s recommendation, we went to Hershel’s East Side Deli and got “the Rachel” – a pastrami sandwich with Thousand Island dressing and coleslaw inside the sandwich! Whoever thought of this combo is a genius because it was delicious!

The Reading Terminal Market was a farmer’s market back in the day and you can still find fresh produce there to this day!

 

Herschel's Deli
Herschel’s Deli

 

The Rachel at Hersche's Deli
The Rachel at Herschel’s Deli.. delightful!

Also upon Tak’s recommendation we got cookies from the Famous 4th St Cookie Company. I thought we would get one, maybe two cookies to try, but he ended up ordering four – a little overboard? LOL. But the cookies did not disappoint – they were chewy and indeed delicious!

Famous 4th St Cookies
The Famous 4th St Cookies

2. Shopping on Rittenhouse Row

After checking into our hotel (we stayed at the Downtown Sheraton since Tak gets points), we walked to Rittenhouse Row, which is a high-end area of Philly filled with nice places to dine and shop! We went up and down Walnut St and I took this opportunity to window shop at places

3. Independence National Historical Park

We were heading to Old City when we came across this park and I really enjoyed my time here. You can also find the Liberty Bell here-entrance is free-but since we’re an impatient couple who don’t like waiting in lines, we opted to just walk around the the park to admire historical buildings preserved from the Revolutionary period – places that you can easily walk in and out of without any hassle. It’s an amazing place to read up on history and how this country came about. You will find people dressed up as Benjamin Franklin and volunteers offering stories of the colonial times to children, which I secretly loved seeing. #tourist

Independence National Park
Me inside a restored Colonial Building, trying to casually take a picture with Benjamin Franklin

 

Cobblestones
Colonial vibes

 

Independene National Hall
When you don’t know how to pose but you still like the building

4. Old City

After our stroll through the park, we made our way into Old City. This is the place you come to feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There is just so much history here. Reminiscent of Boston, everything from the quaint shutters to flower boxes on this well-preserved site made this area one of my favorite places to visit in Philly. I could’ve spent all day here if I wanted to!

Old City Philly Philadelphia
Old City
Old City Philly Philadelphia
Streets of Old City

5. Spruce St Harbor Park

Since I love parks on the water (really who doesn’t!?) after walking through Old City, we decided to check out Harbor Park. We were lucky enough to snatch a hammock and enjoy our drinks while we people watched. There were tons of families and people with dogs, which gave this place a lively locals vibe. But since Tak was getting tired we stayed for a drink and shortly after made our way back to our hotel before heading out to dinner.

Drinks at Spruce St Harbor Park Philadelphia
Drinks at Harbor Park

 

Harbor Park Philadelphia
Sorry not sorry to the lady whom I beat to get to this hammock!

6. Dinner at Audrey Claire

Tip: A lot of restaurants in Philly are BYOB! For someone like myself who likes a drink or two or three, this got me really excited. We picked up a bottle of wine before heading to Audrey Claire’s and found ourselves sitting at an outside table enjoying a gorgeous night and a lovely meal. And walking back a little tipsy on a rather quiet night out in Philly was the perfect break that I needed from the hustle and bustle of New York!

Audrey Claire
Waiting for our meal in perfect weather at Audrey Claire

 

Audrey Claire
Apps included grilled octopus and salad

 

Audrey Claire
we got fish for main course .. mmm

 

Philly Philadelphia Spruce St
Walk back from dinner

Day 2

1. Walking to Philadelphia Museum of Art

Next day, we knew we wanted to catch an early afternoon bus back to New York so we decided to get our day started early to not feel like we were rushed. One of the things I knew I couldn’t leave Philly without doing was checking out the Philadelphia Museum of Art which has been made famous for playing out a scene in the movie Rocky. From our hotel room, I could see a major tree-lined street and flags from all over the world erected leading up to the way to the museum so I thought it would be nice to take a stroll there. Honestly I enjoyed the walk leading up to the museum more than anything. We were blessed with beautiful weather on Sunday too and it felt great to get our day started early.

Rodin Museum Philadelphia Philly
A beauty of its own: the Rodin Museum which we found on our way to Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art
The steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art, where they shot the scene in Rocky

 

At the top of the stairs at Museum of Art
Philadelphia
View from the top of the stairs

2. Brunch at Parc

I haven’t been to Paris (yet) but I imagine this is what a bistro would look like here. When we got there, it wasn’t even quite noon yet but the place was already busy with people. Tak had suggested that I get their bread basket under their appetizer. Apparently that is what they are known for, and as soon as I had my first bite, I died and went to bread heaven! Tak got a salami sandwich which was also really good. Definitely recommend coming here and try getting a seat outside if you can! After satisfying our bellies we went back to hotel to pick up our baggage and headed to the train station to go back home!

Parc brunch Philadelphia
People enjoying their meal outside of Parc

 

Parc brunch Philadelphia
The bread basket at the Parc.. a must!

 

Parc Philadelphia
Tak’s Salami sandwich which was also very good.

So there you have it! I really had no idea what to expect of Philadelphia at first but I was surprised to find so many nice areas and restaurants. Have you been to Philadelphia? What are some of your favorite spots in Philly? Share in the comments below!

weekend guide to philadelphia

Top 9 Destinations on the Pacific Coast Highway

Top 9 Destinations on the Pacific Coast Highway

First off, I apologize for being MIA, I didn’t realize a whole month has flown by since my last post! Over the past month I took two trips, one of which I’m sharing with you today, and last week I celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday and […]


My Diary

Hello world!

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! I am so excited that you are here!

After all this time, I decided to start a blog for a couple of reasons.

First off my hope is that this will become a guide – to city living, makeup, favorite eats, travel tips, or a place to showcase some of my interests and progress (like room décor!) in the hopes that someone will find them useful.

Secondly – full disclosure – I work in marketing and the beauty industry, so I thought a blog would be a good platform to showcase my work and my aesthetics. I am hopeful that if I work at it and with a little bit of luck, it will even help me in my career development. We shall see.

I also have to give credit to my dad who told me to take on activities outside of work. And while starting a blog probably isn’t what he had in mind (I think he specifically said to “study more,” but I was never good at studying!), he always has my best interest in mind so when he said I need to be doing something outside of work to improve myself, I thought why not make something for myself like build a portfolio of a sort to reflect who I am.

All of this isn’t to say I didn’t have any doubts starting my blog. With so many beautiful blogs out there, it can be more than a little intimidating!

But sometimes you have to cast away your doubts and your fears, take a leap of faith. Sometimes someone just needs to nudge you in the right direction. I appreciate my boyfriend and friends for your input and encouragement, and of course my dad for telling me to do more in life.

I am beyond excited to share this journey with you. Thank you so much for reading.

Stay tuned for another post (very) soon!

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