When I cared about my skin

May is my skin-and-face month.

So this is the month I actually started giving a sh*t about my skincare. To be honest, I’ve been pretty lax these past few years. I’d wanted to simplify and natural-ise, so I stripped down my routine. I just washed my face + argan oil + eye cream (night) + moisturiser (night)/CC cream (day). My face was okay. It was passable. I didn’t get pimples, but it wasn’t particularly awesome. My skin was dry but oily. There was this redness that didn’t seem to go away, but I attributed it to my skin just being the way it was. (I guess this is one of those things where “minimalism” doesn’t really work, haha!)

Anyway, I decided this month I was finally going to really care about my skin. It started when I heard about Deciem, specifically, their The Ordinary line. I was intrigued by their concept of separating out formulations so people could tailor it to what their skin needed. I realised that I didn’t have to settle with my skin’s imperfections and yes, I could do something about them.

I already had some items I’d bought sporadically to fix my skin, so I started incorporating them into my routine more regularly:

  • Hyaluronic acid + B5. I’m currently using Skinceuticals. I bought a bottle when I was in Europe and my skin went crazy. But stopped using it when I went back to Sydney, so I dug it out of my cupboard and started using it again. When I run out, I’m planning to switch to The Ordinary‘s version as it’s 1/10th of the price!
  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm. I read someone describing this before as “lip balm for your entire face” and I’d have to say I agree. This was another thing I bought in Europe, but now I’ve started using it every night. It makes my skin super soft when I wake up!
  • Face mask. I bought a large tub of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and use it once a week now.
  • Body scrub. I never used to do this, but I bought a coffee scrub from Toby and Rosie and it made my skin really soft (so I’ve been told 😉 ) I’ve since run out… I’m going to use another brand that someone has gifted me with for now. I really liked the coffee scrub, it was just a bit messy washing it all out in the shower!

I started using body lotion and foot cream regularly. I never got used to body lotion growing up. The Philippines is so hot and humid, putting on lotion just felt icky. I have to remind myself, though, that places with seasons are different. My feet, in particular, got super dry and gross one winter — the heels had started cracking and it hurt. I have to remind myself to frequently moisturise them. I’ve started doing that more often, so they look decent now, at least.

There’s been a definite improvement since fixing my skincare routine. My face is a lot less dry and the redness has lessened too — other people have noticed! And the moisturising everywhere else has helped as well. Some parts of my body are still a bit dry, but at least it’s no longer as rough and flaky as it used to be.

I’ve ordered a few more products from The Ordinary. I can’t wait for them to arrive so I can try them out!

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Me and my sewing machine

My new thing for March was sewing!

I hadn’t intended to do it so early in the year — it seemed like such a big thing to get into without mentally preparing myself first.* But there was a sale on machines, so I bought one, booked an intensive beginner workshop, and off I went!

The first thing I realised was that there were so many other things that I needed to consider. For example, for the workshop I had to bring in some “medium weight cotton.” I had no idea what medium weight cotton looked or felt like… fortunately, the lady at the fabric store helped pick it out for me.

I ended up making a little girl’s blouse and a tote bag that weekend, and I was so proud of myself! It made me want to make a gazillion other things, but it also made me realise that I had so much to learn. We sewed with cotton — but I wanted to make things out of knit and stretch fabrics. I’d bought the wrong kind of thread — I didn’t know that could be a thing! Cutting out patterns and putting the pieces back together was fun, and it gave me a greater appreciation for understanding how clothes are structured. I look at clothes differently now — I like looking at how things are made, and I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a well-made piece of clothing.

I haven’t taken any other classes yet, because I want to practice more before moving on to something more advanced. So far I’ve been making pajamas — haha! They’re useful, and if I mess up I don’t really care. Hopefully I’ll move on to more public facing clothes soon. 😛

* I seem to always overestimate the amount of mental preparation that things take. One thing I’m learning is to jump in and do things!

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Listened to the opera, kinda

My new thing for April was experiencing the opera, kinda. I say “kinda” because I didn’t go to a full blown opera. But a family friend was part of a performance where they sang songs.

It was pretty different from my impression of the opera where there’s a stout lady in a Viking helmet singing onstage!

Anyway, since I was born with absolutely no singing skills,* I always love hearing other people sing. It’s a totally different style. To be honest, I found it a bit hard to understand at times, though I could appreciate the musicality of it.

One of the things they sang was a poem from Hilary North. She worked at the World Trade Center Tower 2 and lost 176 colleagues when 9/11 struck.

How My Life has Changed
by Hilary North

I can no longer flirt with Lou.
I can no longer dance with Mayra.
I can no longer eat brownies with Suzanne Y.
I can no longer meet the deadline with Mark.
I can no longer talk to George about his daughter.
I can no longer drink coffee with Rich.
I can no longer make a good impression on Chris.
I can no longer smile at Paul.
I can no longer hold the door open for Tony.
I can no longer confide in Lisa.
I can no longer complain about Gary.
I can no longer work on a project with Donna R.
I can no longer get to know Yolanda.
I can no longer call the client with Nick.
I can no longer contribute to the book drive organized by Karen.
I can no longer hang out with Millie.
I can no longer give career advice to Suzanne P.
I can no longer laugh with Donna G.
I can no longer watch Mary Ellen cut through the bull shit.
I can no longer drink beer with Paul.
I can no longer have a meeting with Dave W.
I can no longer leave a message with Andrea.
I can no longer gossip with Anna.
I can no longer run into Dave P. at the vending machine.
I can no longer call Steve about my computer.
I can no longer compliment Lorenzo.
I can no longer hear Herman’s voice.
I can no longer trade voice mails with Norman.
I can no longer ride the elevator with Barbara.
I can no longer be happy about Jennifer’s pregnancy.
I can no longer walk with Adam.
I can no longer say hello to Steven every morning.
I can no longer see the incredible view from the 103rd Floor of the South Tower.
I can no longer take my life for granted.

It made me think about the mundanities of everyday work life. There are so many little things that I take for granted. I only realise them after I’ve left — the chats, the coffees, the sneaky snack times, the shared work nights and inside jokes. It’s easy to just be annoyed at having to work and wishing I could win the lotto instead, but I was reminded that work is also full of small moments that can be beautiful and meaningful.

* I know Filipinos are well-known for being good singers, but I seem to have missed that gene. I’m so bad, my friends once started an a capella group and they invited everyone else in our extended group of friends (perhaps a dozen people?) except for me and one other guy. Robz and I are still waiting for our invitations.

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My style colour palette

I was reading Anuschka Rees’ “The Curated Closet,” and she spoke about identifying a style colour palette. (She also talks about it in this blog post.) I decided to give it a go and I think I’ve got mine pat!

Mela’s colour palette:

A lot of neutrals, shades of pink, and jewel tones.

It surprised me, when identifying my colour palette, that I had already been subconsciously putting it into practice. I’ve been wearing a lot of basic colours the past few years — I have a ton of black and use a lot greys, navy blues, and whites for pairing. I like pink, and tend to wear it in a dusty colour, or, on fewer occasions, bright neon pink. Every now and then I’ll wear something deep and rich and like purple, teal, or a coral.

The only thing this is missing is yellow! Like the shade I’m using for my links. I like having a pop of yellow every now and then. Funnily enough, when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade, I commented on liking a random passersby’s yellow handbag and he commented, “yeah, you’ve always liked that colour, I remember you liking yellow from way back.” Haha!

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Style update, part deux

(This is an extension of this post, where I mentioned talking about the things I bought to fill in gaps in my closet.)

Wardrobe purchases from start of the year

After culling my closet, going through what remained and analysing my lifestyle, I ended up buying a few things to help fill in the gaps.

1. A dusty pink maxi skirt from Vintage Summer Fashion
I’d been thinking about getting a maxi skirt for over a year now (yeah, that’s how I function, I tend to think about purchases for a while!) and finally decided to get one. I went through several shops in real life, but I couldn’t find one I liked. I also wanted to go for an independent designer over something cheap and mass produced. Luckily, I found Ana on Etsy. This skirt is now one of my favourite things to wear. Fortunately, winters in Sydney aren’t too bad, so I can continue wearing it all year round.

2. Shlomit Ofir jewellery, also found at Ivy and Bird (AU)

Most of the jewellery I had was really big and loud costume jewellery. I realised that I didn’t have anything for times when I wanted to wear something a bit more understated. I thought that Shlomit’s pieces were perfect. I found her designs simple and elegant. And cheap!

3. Black denim jacket by Dannii Minogue
This is probably my “weakest” purchase of the bunch. I realised I needed an in-between jacket for cold winter nights or warmer spring/autumn days… something heavier than a cardigan, but lighter than my trench coats and leather jackets. I was on the lookout for a black denim jacket, and honestly I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t shiny or oversized or cropped or had sequins! Seriously! So I went for it. The cut isn’t perfect on me, but it’s good enough.

My favourite new-old thing!

I’m really proud of this. 🙂 Some of you may have seen me wearing my knee-high Doc Martens. I felt hardcore wearing ’em. It was a different time of my life when I got them — I was a working student at a kinda-startup in a hipster suburb. Now that I’m older and more boring (ha!) I found myself wearing the boots less and less.

So I had them shortened.

Now I have ankle boots!

One of the books I was reading spoke about giving old boots new life by taking them to a proper cobbler and having them shortened. I thought this was a great idea, as I was barely wearing these knee-high ones and at the same time no longer had flat ankle-high black boots. I took mine to Roger Shoe Repairs in Redfern. Roger was amazing — besides chopping my boots (including fixing the zippers that run down the side), he changed the laces, and even stuck the DM labels back on. Total cost? $35.

The interesting thing is, I looked at similar ankle-high Docs and none of them have zippers down the side. So not only do I have one-of-a-kind Doc Martens, they’re also much easier to get in and out of! And yes, I’ve worn them plenty of times since then.

(That’s also the good thing about buying something that’s made of quality — I can easily have them repaired or refashioned and they’re still good as new. ‘Cept for the scuffs.)

Anyway, that’s it for now. Then again, we’re coming into winter, so I might realise I need something else for the colder season!

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