Today, I strive towards a more beautiful mind…

Tous Les Jours, Centreville location

Tous Les Jours, Centreville location

Nomnomnom! Look at those yummy pastries! I had planned for a low-key weekend, however, I ended up accomplishing quite a list of activities that were never originally on my to-do list. These include enjoying churros from a Tex-mex establishment, being introduced to psychedelic rock (with eastern influences) by a local band called Iritis, renting my very first Zipcar, relaxing at Spa World, enjoying a Green Tea Smoothie and some pastries from Tous Les Jours bakery, feasting on about half a dozen of crabs, buying and cooking food of my motherland, and studying for a math exam I have later tonight.

I’m sad that the weekend has ended, but I suppose there are more weekends yet to come! As I am still in that in-between period of not knowing what my next steps will be, I have decided to create a TO-DO LIST, as this will probably be one of those few brief periods of time until I retire that I have time/space/energy to do what I want to do. My #nofilter list (rough draft) –

  • Job search – when I haven’t got a family to think about, maybe this is the best time for me to pack up my bags and move cross country or cross country borders!
  • Learn a computer programming language (any suggestions?)
  • Create my own website (teehee, this is something in the workings, you shall see soon)
  • Work on my novel / create a small small book of short stories (Coming soon, as in maybe a decade)
  • Find an activity that will help my heart health – Daily, I’m seeing patients come in with an extensive list of medical conditions… prevention is what it’s all about now. Hiking? Dancing?
  • Smile more. Laugh more. Don’t let negative thoughts come in as much.
  • Have a more beautiful mind.

What’s on your to-do list?

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Today, I have a little secret after making my own skincare products…

An idea has been zooming all around my brain lately… but it only solidified Wednesday night while I was learning how to make lip balm, facial toner mist, and a body salt scrub. It’s still in the works, so I won’t say much now but it’ll be a long process of experimentation, but I am so very happy to let you lovely readers in on it! Maybe you’ll get to try out the end-product 😉 I’ll tell you about the journey along the way. As for last night’s event, I had so much fun! I realized the process of making my own skincare products brought a combination of three things that I Iove together: culinary arts, science, and beauty.

Is this a cooking class?

I’m surprised that the livingsocial venue (at least the one in DC) is so spacious! And I didn’t realize the turnout would be so great. Jill Dickens from Evolve Skin taught the class. Her story was really interesting and also inspiring. Something she emphasized quite often can be summarized in her following statement –

If you can’t eat it, it shouldn’t be going on your skin.

For the skincare products, it’s best to use distilled water. In this case we were saving water, so the water used above will be the same one as the one used for the toner. The double boiler method is used a lot in making these products. Very simple to do. Boil a pot of water, put another bowl on top (something that can stand the heat, of course), and voila! You’ll be able to avoid having your products burn or getting into contact with water.

Lip Balm

Here’s the coconut oil in our double boiler. Coconut oil can be help with dry skin and can moisturize your hair.


Candilila wax (left), derived from a Mexican shrub, is used as a substitute for beeswax. If you’re ever working with a recipe that calls for beeswax and you want to use this as a substitute, you only need to use one-half of it.

Unrefined cocoa butter (right) was added. It looked like shredded cheese to me. It can help in extending shelf life for one year and can also help for stretch marks. Keeping this in mind 🙂

A drop of Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) was added. It can also extend shelf life and is a very thick oil.

Pipette the mixture into your lib balm tubes. Set it aside and let it cool. And voila! Here you have the lip balm.

Green Tea Facial Toner Mist


The base of the toner here is green tea. Green tea is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and helps to maintain skin elasticity. Aloe vera was added; it can be used for dry patches and for sunburns. Lavendar oil, an antiseptic, was also used. It helps to get excess impurities out of your skin and is good for wrinkles, sunburn, and stress (calming aromatherapy). The toner has a shelf life of about 2-3 weeks if placed in the refrigerator. If you add in a drop of Vitamin E oil, you can extend the shelf life for ~2-3 months. Pretty sweet, huh?

Detoxifying Body Scrub

This is a body scrub not for the face but rather for the body. If you were making a scrub for the face, you would need to use a much finer salt. Epsom salt is detoxifying and can be found almost everywhere (CVS, Walgreens, etc). Other ingredients included castille soap, extra virgin olive oil (penetrates deep into the skin and provides long-lasting deep moisture by providing a shield for the skin). You could replace the EVOO with grape seed oil or some other veggie-ish oil. We went for peppermint oil to sooth and cool the skin. It helps to clear, awaken, and brighten your [tired] skin. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral and energizing. Quite simple… combine all the ingredients into a bowl and you’ve got your body scrub.

The finished products 🙂 Remember to store everything in air-tight containers and keep in a cool place. Have you ever made your own beauty products? Please do share! 🙂 

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Today, I review my favorite products! What are yours?

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday… And today I bring you what I promise! Jarkie’s Best of…. These are some of the beauty products that I have come to love this past year. What are yours? Have you tried any of these? What do you like/love?! Please leave comments below or feel free to send us an email at!

EDIT: totes forgot my make-up products! Here ya go!


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Foundation: Lancome Teint Miracle ($40.00)
My favorite foundation. Something about it… just makes you glow.

BB Cream: Skin 79 VIP Gold  ($30.00)
My favorite BB cream of all time. Unfortunately it has only one shade… so it won’t work for everyone… but if you can get your hands on a sample, definitely try to!

Eyeliner: L’oreal Lineur Intense ($8.99)
Cannot live without this felt tip liquid eyeliner in carbon black

Tints (Cheeks, Lips, etc): Benefit posietint ($30.00), highbeam ($26.00), and benetint ($30.00), Girl Meets Pearl ($30.00)
Benefit has awesome make-up. Posietint gives a sort of cherry/pinkish flush to your cheeks/lips. Highbeam is an awesome luminizer, and benetint (one of their most well-known products) is the original rose-tinted stain for cheeks/lips. Girl Meets Pearl is my favorite products… a golden-pink liquid pearl luminizer that gives you that fuzzy blur that smooths the your face… very dreamy. Hehe.

Lips: Lancome Color Design in “Vintage Rose” ($22.00) & Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 (0.15 oz/ $22.50)
I’ve gotten both of these lip products for free! Lancome through gift bags and Sugar Rose Treatment through Sephora’s birthday gift last year. I’m not a fan of super glossy lips in the workplace (I don’t want to look like I smothered my lips in oil before coming to work) so both of these products are perfect, giving a nice color while keeping it sheer and professional. (Don’t get me wrong, I like me some lip gloss once in a while….). I love the the lip treatment is tinted, smooths my lips, and has SPF. Don’t forget to keep those lips from the sun! I definitely will invest in this when I run out.


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I mentioned on Wednesday night/Thursday morning that my favorite skincare products belong to Shiseido’s The Skincare and White Lucent lines. I also love using masks, exfoliants, peels every once in a while to take away all that gross stuff. So some of my top picks?

Cleansing system: Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System
This is an affordable cleansing system ($20-$30) especially when compared to the Clarisonic system. You can purchase from walmart, ulta, or amazon. The main difference between this and the Clarisonic brush is that the Olay brush rotates while the Clarisonic brushes have a pulsating (vibrational) motion. I’m not at the point where I can splurge on a Clarisonic, so this is good enough for me. I love the results. If you find your face is losing it’s glow or has been dull lately, this is good for you! Note: when I first started using this, I would use it +2x’s in a day. Bad idea. My skin started to get irritated, so don’t get addicted to it like I did! haha.

Facial Sheet Masks
There is not one particular brand I like… I love trying out different ones … If H Mart delivers to you, they have some nice masks. Click here. Usually not too expensive. Each mask should cost you less than $5.00 (of course, there are high end ones … ). Why I Love These: We all need a break at some point. These masks are easy to use, just open the package, open the face mask, place onto your face (holes are cut out for eyes/nose/lips so you can breathe) for 20-30 minutes. Lovely spa at home, no need to dig up cash and go to a spa. Disadvantage? If you don’t let people who you live with know that you’re doing this, they might think you’re a ghost. True story.

No More Pores: Dr Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner (1 oz/ $45.00) and Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips (8 strips/ ~$6-$8)
I have a dirty (haha!) little secret: I’m obsessed with removing blackheads. I hate them. I want them gone. Now I know that’ll never happen, but at least I can have my pores to be more “refined.” Two products that I’m currently using? The dr brandt vacuum cleaner (apply thin layer, goes on to skin like a moisturizer, wait a few minutes for it to dry completely … the color will change from clear to a light blue … and you’ll know it’s done!) and the Biore Deep Cleansing strips (wash face and then wet nose to apply the strip as directly. After it completely dries, peel off and you’ll see the results on the strip). Tip: Use after a hot shower… the steam let’s the pores open up. No time for shower? Wet a towel a hot water and place on skin/nose. This is also just as effective.

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Eyecream (Daytime): Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28 Sunscreen (0.5 oz/$39.00)
Perfect daytime eye cream with SPF. Don’t forget to protect your eyes!

Eyecream (Nighttime):  Rénergie Eye Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Eye Crème (0.5 oz/$64.00)
Very rich and creamy. I love it for nighttime usage! Absorbs easily, too.

Serum: Revaleskin Intense Recovery Treatment (1 oz/ $130.00)
This is one pricey product! My eyes did this when I saw the price tag: O_O. I must thank the skincare product gods for letting me try the full size product (Blush April Beauty Mystery Box – see my review here). This product has definitely evened the texture and tone of my skin. I used to see redness on my nose/cheeks area and it seems to have helped with that. It’s got 1.5% coffeeberry extract, smells wonderful (like coffee), and is easy to apply. I definitely recommend this! I really do not want my bottle to run out yet! The good thing? Just 1-2 pumps will cover your face!

Bath and Body

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Body Lotion: Burt’s Bees Natural Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion (6 oz/ $8.00)
I LOVE BURT’S BEES PRODUCTS. The milk & honey body lotion has been one of my earliest favorites. They’ve changed the formula a bit (and some people have not liked such a change) but I’m still a fan.  The lotion combines milk, honey and vitamin E, along with coconut and grape seed oils to bring you one sweet sweet sweet lotion. Soft, smooth, supple skin sounds like something you want? This is it! This is it! 🙂

Body Creme: Aveda Caribbean Therapy Body Creme (6.7 oz/ $27.00)
I love the rich scents of mango, lime, cocoa butter coming together to make me feel like I’m relaxing in the lush caribbean forests. This particular lotion is so rich and creamy that I love using it when it’s really dry (winters, especially). It’s also perfect for use on knees and elbows and knuckles.

Shower Gel: Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Breeze Shower Gel (10 oz/ $11.00) 
The coconut + lime combination is right in time for summer. Always gotta indulge in my bath & body works scents! Tip: B&BW always has deals going on (online & in stores)… where you can grab these gels for great deals. I wouldn’t suggest buying them at full price since there are definitely deals out there.

Body Oil: Caudalie Divine Oil (3.4 oz/ $49.00)
I was lucky to have a birchbox coupon + free shipping at the time to purchase this oil.  The mixture of oils (grape, hibiscus, sesame, and argan) create a divine smelling oil that really makes my skin feel so soft. I spray this oil on as soon as I step out of the shower to retain the moisture. It’s so thick that a little bit goes a long way. Tip: I also like using it for my dried/damaged hair at times (just spray a little at the ends).

Hair Care

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**Note: The Alterna Pure Kendi Oil is in the next photo

Shampoo & Conditioner: Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo and Conditioner (Shampoo: 8.5 oz/$24.00; Condition: 6.7 oz/ $24.00)
I have really damaged hair. This set is perfect! It’s a bit pricey (as all Aveda products are) so I use it only 2-3 times a week… but it definitely makes my hair a lot healthier.

IMG_3535Hair treatment mask: Tendu Ultimate Hair Conditioning Treatment Mask (5 oz/ $60.00) 
Another product from my April Blush Beauty Mystery Box that I’m IN LOVE WITH. #1, lovely texture (see photo from my previous review here) … it is so easy to apply to the hair ( a little will also go a long way here). #2, the scent is so light and fresh (makes me happy every time I open the jar). I leave it in my hair for about 30-45 minutes and then rinse. Noticeable different. Hair feels SO SOFT, SO SMOOTH, SO WONDERFUL.

Hair oil: Alterna Bamboo Smooth Pure Kendi Treatment Oil (1.7 oz/ $25.00) 
Alterna haircare products make me happy. I use this oil, mostly on the tips of my hair, in the mornings and I feel a noticeable different in the texture of the hair. You can also use it as a treatment (apply generously to your hair , leave-in, & rinse…. however, I have the Tendu mask for that purpose now).

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Hand & Nail

Nail Polish: ZOYA
Pretty awesome, pretty long-lasting, pretty colors.

Hand Cream: L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (5.2 oz/ $28.00)
Best hand cream ever hands down. Period.

Bonus Items

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Healthy living: Green Tea (pictured in Hand & Care photo)

Magazines: My two favorites (shhhh… don’t tell le significant other!) are Glamour and Smithsonian (if you’re in the DC area, you should be a member, awesome benefits!)

Sunglasses: Mine were purchased (under $10.00) from Vaguely Reminiscent in Durham, NC

Coasters: Lovely additions to the house from Udaipur, India. Makes me want to travel again!

Phew! That’s it! I’m excited to see what I find in the second half of 2013.

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