Korean Skincare: Part I

I have been battling my internet.  I went to upgrade it last week, and have had connection problems ever since.  This is not what I wanted!  Anyway, that’s the explanation for the delay of this ever-so-important video post about my skincare regime.  (If I had known I was going to have so much trouble, I would have waited until today to film the video, because I don’t have the blemishes on the bridge of my nose anymore!)

Taking It Off.mp4 from Furnished Souls on Vimeo.

I put together a collection of the products used in this video.  I recommend them all, but my skin type isn’t the same as everyone else’s.  My skin is sensitive and not too dry.  I get a bit of oil in my t-zone.

Take it Off: Korean Skincare Regimen

I’ve had great success shopping at Pretty and Cute.  I also recommend Kollection K and Wishtrend.

Questions and comments below, please!

Old School Cans

I have weird ears. 

Not only did the right one launch a vengeful attack against me by getting an infection just before I was set to fly, essentially deafening me for my entire vacation and MFA graduation, but the insides are too small for most earbud headphones.  Those iPhone ones?  Torture.  I had an emergency headphone situation at Christmas where I was flying cross-country to see my parents, and forgot my headphones at home.  I had to buy some Skullcandy Chops In-Ear headphones from the airport shop.  Frankly, they annoy the heck out of me every time I have to wear them.  Unfortunately, certain situations (like working out at the gym, etc.) require these low-profile headphones, so I wear them with the mantra that “it could be worse.”

However, for at-home use, I had a massive craving for some old-school can headphones (aka full-size headphones or “circumaural” headphones).  However, my budget isn’t up for my dream Sennheisers.  I’m enough of a music nerd to really care about sound quality.  My father raised me to care about such things–how else would I know about Sennheiser and Harmon/Kardon?  Research was required to find a decent pair of cans.

I went to my favorite nerdy techy review site–CNET.  I read a bunch of articles on headphones, but the one that helped me make my decision was part of their “best of 2014″ series talking about the best over-the-ear headphones.  The article pointed me toward the Panasonic RP-HTX-K1 Monitor Stereo Headphones.  The price is affordable at just under $60 (and if you do a little searching on the internet, even lower–just sayin’), and offer comfort, sound quality, and “retro styling”.  

I must admit, the “retro styling” really sold it for me.  I have a weakness for such things, and I didn’t want just a plain black pair, which is generally the color choice for the less expensive headphones.  I liked that the Panasonics came in a variety of colors.  I chose the green pair.

Cans

If I went back in time, this would be the jacket photo for my 1970′s folk music LP.
 
I’ve been really happy with the Panasonics, even though they can get a little sweaty on hot summer days.  Overall, they’re everything they’re purported to be: great sound, comfortable, retro, a good choice for those on a budget.  My weird ears are pretty happy.

 

True Blue

Since I’m still getting hits on the subject, I felt the need to post an update on my couch search, which I talked about here. Can you believe it took me two years to finally buy a couch? But the blue velvet sofa got stuck in my head, and I couldn’t settle for less. In the meantime I learned how to fall asleep upright in a chair with my head resting awkwardly on my shoulder. My neck finally protested vigorously, and I decided to search in earnest for a new couch.

Sofa

I decided on the Preston sofa from Arhaus. I sat on a bunch of sofas before I decided, but when I tried out the Preston, I ordered it the same day. The quality of the sofa as well as the feel the velvet really sold me. The navy blue was not a stock color, but was a custom color available. I looked through all the blues, but of course the velvet was the best. I also got to customize the nailhead trim color and the wood finish of the legs. It took a couple of months to be made and delivered, but when it arrived it was everything I wanted. It’s also the perfect napping sofa–I swear I’ve had better sleep on the couch than in my bed sometimes.

I added four throw pillows: one cream with silver that I already owned and three from H&M online. They have stylish throw pillow covers; go to IKEA for the pillow inserts, as they have some sturdy down pillow inserts that fit perfectly. I got one turquoise velvet floral pillow, one with french script on cream, and one in grey with a print that looks looks like an old label for olive oil. These are all gone now, but with H&M it’s cheap to change out. You could create a new sofascape for every season. I picked more cushion covers that are currently for sale that I would buy if I had to do it over. H&M home products are only available online.

H&M Cushion Covers

In Praise of Cheap Sunglasses

I love the packaging for expensive glasses. The hard case, with the satin lining, and the soft bag containing the fancy, branded glasses. I remember once incident when a gentleman of my acquaintance, whom one might consider frugal (to put it kindly), bought a pair of Wayfarers. They were the most expensive sunglasses he had ever purchased, and he packed them away with such reverence after every wearing.

As much as I like the packaging, I don’t need Wayfarers. I’d rather buy a Forever 21 cheap knockoff in a floral print. I don’t know about everyone else, but my sunglasses rarely end up in their bag, in the case, carefully put away without a scratch after every wearing. Mine are more likely to end up in the bottom of my purse, in my passenger’s seat, or on top of my head for hours. I cannot guarantee the safety of my sunglasses. If I bought expensive ones, I would surely end up crying.

Certainly, there’s name brand recognition with the expensive brands; I know who you’re wearing when it’s on the arms of the glasses, but I don’t really care about brands. Sorry. I still get plenty of people admiring my style, even when it’s cheap. I’ve only had one person express disappointment when I told her that the boots she had admired on me were inexpensive, and I happened to be window shopping in an expensive boutique at the time.

Lastly, with cheap sunglasses I can have a variety. I can match my sunglasses to my outfit or my mood. I can try crazy styles and not worry if they don’t work on me. If they break, I can have a moment of sadness, but also have a backup pair on hand.

I just found a goldmine in GoJane.com, where all the sunglasses are around $5 apiece, so I bought four pairs. Even though it’s two posts about eyewear in one week, I couldn’t wait to share some of my recent finds! Time for a mid-summer sunglasses wardrobe refresh?

Cheap Sunglasses

Brand It!

I know enough about this whole blogging thing to know that eventually the word “branding” will pop up. As in, “what’s your blog’s branding strategy?” I started thinking about this while in my car running errands this afternoon. What is the “brand” of Furnished Souls?

Let’s start with the name. For branding, the blog’s name should set its goals and effectively communicate the brand. Umm…nope. Not happening here.

My blog name actually comes from an e.e. cummings poem, and is intended ironically, as the women he writes about are stuck in an “acceptable” routine where they are busy, but create nothing of consequence. (Read the whole poem at Poetry Foundation.org.) It’s exactly the kind of woman I don’t want to be. The women I write for (for I always picture my friends reading) are thoughtful, interesting, funny, clever, sarcastic, beautiful and imperfectly quirky.

Ironic obscure poetic reference for a blog name = Branding FAIL.

Choose your look, sayeth the gurus of branding.

The color palette of this blog varies between some colors and lots of colors. I get bored. I try to do the starkly minimalist backgrounds, but always go back to things that are colorful and over the top. And then I start designing blog banners on Photoshop…

Sorry, faithful readers. I have no colors. Wait, I just adopted colors for the blog in my head. The blog’s colors are now BLUSH and BASHFUL. (Name that movie reference!)

At least I should know the purpose of the blog, right? That’s the heart of branding!

It’s a fashion blog! But it’s not, really. I’ll never be the Man Repeller or The Sartorialist. I can’t even bring a great OOTD on a daily basis. Guaranteed you will never see a full-body picture of me in a romper and high-heeled clogs with a sun-dappled tree in the background. Sorry. Plus my style is kind of quirky–sometimes vintage, sometimes conservative, sometimes a little rocker or alternative. And when I recommend for other people, I try to take their personal style and body type into consideration.

Maybe it’s a budget blog? But that’s more out of necessity, because I’m a teacher in my real life, which means I am economically ground in the gears of the system of THE MAN *rant rant*. I show people how I shop and how I utilize the internet to get greater bargains on the things you want but can’t afford. But it’s not really about that, either.

Technically, I guess Furnished Souls would be considered a lifestyle blog. I am so uncomfortable with that term, though! I automatically think of Gwyneth Paltrow, the guru of GOOP, or Martha Stewart, with all her good things.

Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.
Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.

To me, “lifestyle” means that you have it all together–or at least act like it. It’s those ladies on Facebook who post pictures of their fresh-baked loaves of bread on their immaculately clean tables, who talk about their adorable precious children and thoughtful husbands. Lifestyle bloggers are people who seem to never make a misstep, and if they do, it’s adorable and anecdote-worthy. I do not fit that description. I am actually pondering having a recurring feature here entitled “Where It All Went Wrong”, chronicling my own fashion failures and how I might have fixed them.

I am not even in a relationship, but I have the feeling if I tried to “consciously uncouple” like Gwyneth, it would involve a lot of wailing, mascara panda eyes, and undignified snotting.

Upon reflection, I think I could best be branded as a “life” blog. It occurs to me that my trip to run errands and my blog are much alike. I had to do four things: take my diploma to the framer’s; pick up a package of Korean beauty products from the post office; go to Bed, Bath and Beyond; and get lunch. From my place, the framer’s and the post office require a left turn, BB&B requires a right turn, and lunch was in between. Yet, my route ended up being framers to BB&B to post office to lunch. Totally inefficient, yet I got it all done, and had more time in my car to listen to fun summer tunes and enjoy the sunshine. And isn’t that great sometimes?

Girls in Glasses

Marilyn Monroe: “Well, you know what they say about girls who wear glasses.”
Man: “What are you talking about?”
Monroe: “Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses.”
–How to Marry a Millionaire

I can guarantee that statement wouldn’t have been true if I had gone out in my old glasses, but for all the wrong reasons. My glasses had a very slim rose-gold wire rim that looked very dowdy on me, and were cracked across both lenses. I only wore them in bed, after the contacts came out for the day. They had a rough life, but insurance being what it is, the only thing covered was a year’s supply of contact lenses, so I put off buying new glasses.

image

Last Christmas, one of my presents was a gift card to the fabulous Warby Parker, online spectacles retailer extraordinaire. They have a great selection of fashionable frames, and are super easy to work with. Plus, for every pair purchased, they give one away to someone in need.

image

I was a little nervous about ordering online, but Warby Parker has a great system where you can borrow five frames at a time to try out. Pick them out online, and they will mail them to you with a postage-paid return label. I actually did that twice, trying on ten frames total. It was so helpful, because the pairs I thought I really wanted didn’t necessarily look good on me.

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Another great thing about Warby Parker is they do a lot of collaborations with designers and others, so their inventory is always changing. I ended up with a pair of glasses that I really like, the Finch frame in Violet Magnolia. In retrospect, I should have bought them in Grenadine. I had hoped they would be a little more violet, but they’re much more magnolia.

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Ordering from Warby Parker was fast and easy, and I would love to buy frames from them again. Who knows, it might inspire me to not wait ten years to trade out my glasses!

Comeback + FauxCo Chanel

If you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You are far more patient than I deserve.

So, what have I been doing in this long time since I posted new content? Well, let’s SUM UP.

1. Started the Bedeck blog, focused only on accessories.

2. Abandoned the selfsame blog.

3. Started a master’s degree–an MFA in Creative Writing, to be exact.

4. Worked my butt off teaching full time and working on my MFA full time. Two full time gigs = complete and utter exhaustion and life stoppage.

5. Became addicted to Korean Dramas.

6. Wrote a novel about artists in the 1920′s for the aforementioned MFA.

7. GRADUATED! (This happened last weekend.)

So, now I have my life back, post-studies, and want to start blogging again. LO AND BEHOLD, YOU HAVEN’T ALL ABANDONED ME! My tears of joy are real.

Some things will be startlingly familiar–there will be fashion inspirations and icons, comparison shopping so you can find fabulous stuff on the cheap, some fug, and some snark. It’s all coming back. Plus, now that I am obsessed with all things Korean (as opposed to when I left off, when the British were all the rage in my head), I’m going to bring you into my little Korean world, with KPop, KDramas, and a skincare industry that’s light years ahead. (Teaser: I just started an 8-step [sometimes more] Korean skincare ritual. Video to come…) I promise I’ll try to restrain myself.

To celebrate my comeback and set the tone, I shall recreate what I am wearing on this sunny Saturday, and call it my FauxCo Chanel look. A little restrained, a little sexy.

FauxCo Chanel

The key to this look is the ribbed white tank. It must cling, just a little bit, and dip down in the front, just a little bit. It’s got to be a little sexy, or else the outfit goes wrong. The point here is juxtaposition. Add linen or cotton shorts and a sheer or lightweight cardigan (I have a slightly nubby one with a loose weave which reminded me of Chanel tweeds). A pair of metallic wedges are comfortable, yet stretch out the legs visually and make them very sexy. Then pile on the pearl necklaces. They should be very long, like the flapper necklaces of yore. I have two; one vintage 1920′s faux pearls, and one long freshwater strand that my brother and future sister-in-law gave me.

A note about fake flower pins: wear them in multiples. They’re cheap and obviously fake; that’s their nature, so wear them for impact, not for verisimilitude. One flower is a cop-out. Buy them in threes, so you can make giant topiaries. I lined my three flowers up on the left side of my cardigan, slightly offset, starting from mid-shoulder down; you can also align them in a triangle shape.

I recommend a neutral pink lip and some cat eyeliner (cat eyeliner = winged victory).

Classic meets a faker, and you get FauxCo Chanel.

Thanks for coming back and reading this post! I hope to offer up many more in the days to come!