My Experience as a June Bride ♡

I am so thankful for such a wonderful mom-in-law, not enough credit is given to these women. Sure, everyone knows about the monster-in-law, and most brides hope for a mother-in-law, but very few are lucky enough to have a mom-in-law.

My guy wasn’t very involved in the planning, so it was his mom and me who planned it mostly; and it gave us an opportunity to get to bond with each other. We had a $10,000 wedding budget (we originally had a $5,000 budget, but then decided that wasn’t realistic for what we wanted).

For those in the surrounding Cincinnati area, our beautiful venue is at Norlyn Manor. They offer an inclusive wedding package that includes everything from linen to centerpieces. The starting price is $4,000 — our venue cost came out to a little under $7,000 alone; but we had upgraded our menu, included a cocktail hour, our ceremony on site, and chair sashes.

I got all my bridesmaids a bracelet from Amazon. (I bought myself one too.) The girls got their dresses from Forever21. I gave them three choices to choose from, they ended up all choosing the same dress. The guys got their suits at Men’s Warehouse, and the Dr. paid for their suit rentals. I wanted their ties and pocket squares to match the ladies’ dresses, which is a red wine color. My reception dress is red too. My wedding dress I bought online from China (if you’re skinny enough, buying a dress from China will save you a few hundred bucks if you don’t mind waiting for the long shipping date).

My flowers are going to be the traditional red roses. My mom-in-law would save a lot of money if she went with sunflowers (or any other flowers besides from roses). We are using the centerpieces from our venue; so my mom-in-law only needs bouquets, corsages, and boutonnières… and maybe decorations from the florist on the gazebo — we are still undecided on whether we want the florist to do that, or to do it ourselves.

I made all the prints myself, including the invitations. I used Gartner Studios kits, and they had so many bird themes. (Our wedding theme is lovebirds.) The only prints that I used a professional service for was our rehearsal dinner invitations, and that was a huge disappointment. I used Wedding Paper Divas; they were expensive, and there was a print error on the back of one of my cards; but the cardstock quality was excellent, so I’ll give them that.

If you’re computer savvy or know even a little graphic design, then you can save hundreds of dollars on printing with DIY prints.

Our wedding favors and engagement party favors I ordered online. For the wedding, we got stemless wine glasses engraved with birds on a branch and our names and date; for the engagement we got a lovebird salt and pepper shaker set from Amazon, (I wished I had ordered those for the wedding instead, they’re perfect!).

We got the Dr. and Mrs. a high-end Cuisinart carafe maker… it might be too high-tech for the Mrs. though, so the Dr. will have to program it instead. The guys got a really nice engraved drinking set in an engraved case as their gift.

Our wedding website was the Knot, and they even have a lovebird theme that matched our invitations. We registered at BB&B and Amazon.com because they are partnered with our wedding website; and our chosen charity is the US Fund for UNICEF — which is also partnered with the Knot for registry donations.

We went with the recommendations from our venue on the DJ. My mom-in-law chose a bakery that she’s used before. I let her choose the design; she went with a tiered cake with red roses cascading down, and I bought our cake topper on Amazon. It’s two blue lovebirds with a top-hat and a veil.

With the wedding itself, we did it within our $10K budget; but we had help from the Dr. and Mrs. on some of the expenses, and they also host our other events for us like our engagement party (unfortunately his grandpa got very sick around that time); and our rehearsal dinner was paid for by my wonderful brother John. We were very fortunate that they were able to help us out financially with some of the expenses because most couples have to foot the bill entirely on their own.

The whole thing cost closer to about $25,000 though if we included our honeymoon and things outside of the actual wedding; like all the traveling expenses for our wedding, the hotel for our wedding night, etc.

We are honeymoon-ing on an island resort with its own private beach! (I can’t wait, I miss being by the ocean, even if I don’t know how to swim, ha!) ♡ My hubby is never allowed to book a vacation ever again. I definitely felt he could have gotten a better price for our honeymoon if he had shopped around, but he doesn’t have the patience for that kind of stuff. Oh, well. I guess since it’s a honeymoon it’s okay to be extravagant and over-the-top, and even splurge a bit.

[Book Review] Puppy Training

Today I received a book to review: Puppy Training: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crate Training, Potty Training, Obedience Training, and Behavior Training — by Julia Chandler.

It’s a good instruction book that is best suited for a first-time dog owner. It has beautiful photos of various dogs which helps the book a lot visually. It’s an easy read with some great tips. The paragraphs are broken up very neatly instead of being long and compact. There’s some really good info in the book like poisonous plants, the kind of collar to choose, click training, etc. I highly recommend for someone who is getting a puppy for the first time.

Thanks to Ms. Chandler for the opportunity to review her book, and the best of luck for her success with it.

[Book Review] Your Breakup, Your Blessing

A few days ago I received an email to review a new book: Your Breakup, Your Blessing: Breakup Self-Help — How to Live Before, During and After Divorce, by Karen R. Rivera.

This is a self-help book for women going through a divorce. On Amazon, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It is very straight forward and offers some good advice and insights. However, I find that most of the info in the book can be found by just using Google, where there are thousands of articles written about this subject. I, myself, have written lots of posts on my blog on dealing with a breakup.

With self-help books like these, on relationship advices, I find that most women are seeking answers to questions that their common senses already are telling them — but breakups, especially a divorce situation, is hard to deal with, and sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else instead.

The main criticism I have on this book is that it starts off its first chapter with different types of abuses in relationships. I don’t think this is a good self-help book for general breakups or divorces, automatically assuming that relationships are always caused by some sort of an abusive relationship is not accurate.

Like most self-help books, this one is targeted towards a female demographic, but I think it is best suited for someone in a relationship like Kourtney Kardashian, dealing with an alcoholic womanizing baby daddy relationship… or Nicole Simpson, who was actually in a physically abusive relationship.

Thank you to the author for the opportunity to review her book, and I wish her lots of success with it.

Nail Time Review

My hubby is in Oklahoma for a week, doing some weird grunt-bonding. I miss him, and since the weather has been so nice this past weekend and today, I decided to get a mani and pedi to welcome in the spring season.

Nail Time is a salon in the Quincy Mall in Ottumwa, Iowa. It’s right by the entrance as you walk in. Dorris did my mani and pedi (and wax); she was very friendly. Whenever an Asian person sees me, they always ask me if I’m the same ethnicity as they are — you have no idea how many Koreans at nail salons try to talk to me in Korean! (She was actually Vietnamese though, but surprisingly she spoke Cantonese; so we actually communicated in Cantonese instead.)

The salon is inside the mall. The place is spacious, and looks clean. Nail stations appear clean, and pedi stations too. The pedi chairs have amenities built into the chair, like a massager with a remote. The only thing I didn’t like was that they did the wax out in the open (I prefer salons that have a room for solely waxing, away from other customers). The chair that the wax was done wasn’t very comfortable either. I got a stiff neck from it.

It was $30 for a pedicure, $20 for a manicure, and another $20 for the wax (I had two waxing done on different areas)… Dorris did a really pretty flower design on my nails.

The waxing is a bit more expensive than small, little neighborhood shops, but I loved how my nails came out. I have gone to nail salons where I felt they did a crappy job, especially with designs. I don’t do the fake nails — you know, the acrylic or gel, or the glued-on crap; so designs are something that I am very critical about because the polish goes on my actual nails. I did felt that she put too many coats on though, especially for natural nails; I only like two coats of paint.

It’s a good place to get your nails done (I suggest going somewhere else for waxing though).

The designs were hand painted since I only get manicures and pedicures on my natural nails… I really love the design. It’s almost as good as my two favorite salons back home in NYC.

[Review] Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency

I was given a digital copy (PDF) of a self-help type book, learning a new language, for review: Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency. The book is available on Amazon.com for purchase as a digital copy (Kindle), and it’s free for those that have the subscription service Kindle Unlimited. The book is authored by Janina Klimas.

The book starts off with the usual self-help books, especially with language learning, which is basically that you can do it. You can do it if you put the time into it.

It’s not a learning book in the sense of an actual language book. It’s not teaching you a new language, but gives you tips and advice on how you can learn a language. A lot of the things are common sense knowledge; and as a teacher, a lot of it is common core knowledge.

As someone who speaks conversational Cantonese, and have an elementary understanding of French, being a native speaker of English; here’s my advice — submersion is key. Especially with today’s technological society, even being in a place far removed by my beloved NYC, I can still find ways to “submerged” myself in rural Buddha-land Iowa somewhere. Movies, music, books… I spent a whole summer about two years ago watching French movies, listening to French music, and flirting with French military pilots while my ex-fiancé was sleeping.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s worth the read. Otherwise, it’s $6.99 for the digital copy. I’m not sure if there’s an actual physical copy of the book though, there wasn’t a format option on Amazon.com for it.

I wish Ms. Klimas the best of luck in her continued success in writing and teaching (and learning). Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to review your book! ♡

“The Little Voice” [Review]

In December, an author found my blog and asked if I would write a review for his book. (Sorry it has taken me a while to filter through my blog emails, especially during the holidays!)

The book, The Little Voice, by Joss Sheldon is available for purchase on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

The theme of the book seemed to be rebellion against society and social norm. It’s a short novel and I finished it in one day. I felt it was missing a plot, and the storyline seemed very monotonous. The characters could have been built on more, and this seemed kind of all over the place. When I think of other “societal rebellious” novels like Catcher in the Rye, although it was only Holden as the main character, it was focused on what happened to him in a span of just a few days from prep school back to NYC.

This jumped from grade school to adulthood, and there was too much narrative explaining what was going on instead of the book being able to do it on its own through the story. Another “rebellion” novel, I think of, The Basketball Diaries, the grammer sucked and I’m quite certain Jim Carroll was high when he wrote it, but it was incredible because it didn’t feel pretentious.

With Sheldon’s novel, there was way too much quotes from Lao Tzu in every chapter (he’s the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote The Art of War, for those of you who don’t know); and maybe he could have focused more on one aspect of the character to make the story more readable.

This was a novice book, and I’m sure Joss Sheldon will only continue to improve with his writing. I did not particularly like the novel, but that’s just me. I strongly recommend my readers to give it a try and see for yourself. There’s a Kindle version available for only $2.99, as well as a paperback and hardcover edition.

Joss had emailed me a PDF format of his novel, and the cover art looks great. Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to review your novel, Joss. The best of luck in your continued success! ♡

The Sunflower Review …

The mister sent me sunflowers a few days ago.

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My bouquet two days after delivery. I’ve also changed the water too (cut sunflowers soaks up LOTS of water, so change the water every few days to prolong the blooms on your bouquet).

Product Reviews ♡

Okay, so in a previous post, I wrote that I would update on my laser resurfacing on that spot on my nose — it’s almost completely heal, and I’ve been wearing concealer to make it less conspicuous. It looks a lot better than the first few days after I had it done. I kept ointment on it for a week and also had it covered so that it wouldn’t scab (as scabbing leads to scarring); but I’ve also been messing around with it a lot, even though I know I shouldn’t be. It does look better, but the doctor had stated that I might need another session in a month to rise up the skin where the laser had burnt a hole, if I want the results to meet my expectations. Right now I’m not too bothered by it, so I’ll see how I feel in a couple of months.

I’m a girly-girl. I love getting manicures, pedicures, facials… all those girly stuff. I love makeup and skincare products too… I’m not endorsing any of these products, but some I did get for free though (but it hasn’t influenced my reviews), and I just want to give a quick scan of my beauty aisle reviews (most of which I had already written about in its respective product page) …

St. Ives Apricot Scrub, I LOVE this product, it’s great for exfoliating. It really gives your skin a very good scrub. I don’t have “sensitive” skin, so it’s not harsh for me to use it in the shower regularly. It’s the best product for removing makeup, in my opinion. I’ve never had any residual makeup like I sometimes do with others. Although this isn’t a daily “cleanser”, if you don’t have sensitive skin, then I think you can use it as a regular cleanser. This is also a cheap alternative to buying a microdermabrasion product. It costs less than $5 at any retail store, and they have specific labels that target individual skin types.

Olay Regenerist Daily Thermal Mini Peel, is also a good quality “scrub”. It cost a lot more ($20) than St. Ives, and although it calls itself a “peel”, it actually isn’t. The scrub has microbeads and it does “heat up” when activated with water. You do feel a warming sensation on your skin. However, there has been a few occasions when I’ve had on heavy makeup and this left makeup residual on my face, even in the shower (which I would then have to “deep clean” with a cotton ball soaked with astringent, and afterwards use another cotton ball soaked with toner, since the astringent is very drying).

Yesterday, I got a microdermabrasion kit from Amazon.com to review. Now first, consumer should be aware that these are not dermatological-graded tools. It’s the difference between getting a skin peel at the dermatologist or esthetician, and buying one of those at-home peels. The kit was: Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion Plus Advanced Cleansing System. I’m not sure what the retail price is, and I think it’s affordable on Amazon, it’s about $30. The kit also came with two coupons, each for $3 off of Olay products, that expires in July of this year.

The kit came with two AA batteries, two sample size exfoliating cleansers, and two brush heads — one is a soft bristle brush (like the type on a toothbrush), and the other is a sponge-type (for “foaming”, according to Olay). I used both brushes and both cleanser. I accidentally dropped the tool, and it hit the sink hard enough for the battery compartment to open and dropped the batteries out — I put the batteries back in, closed the compartment again, and it worked just fine… so I’ve concluded that it’s very sturdy too.

The spinning-head rotates, and it wasn’t rough on my face. I liked it. I’m not sure if it’s as great as Olay claims it to be, but I personally did feel my face felt very clean afterwards. My face also felt tighter afterwards too. I didn’t have any snagging of my hair, and I felt I had a good control of the tool. I can’t compare it to other brands because this is the first (and only) one I have. The general consensus is that the Clarisonic is the top brand in this category — but it costs around $100 from an “affordable” retailer, and can be over $200 at others.

I have two facial moisturizing creams, one was from Pond’s and the other one was Garnier (better known for their hair products). I didn’t like either. They were in these small, round jars. I’m not sure what the retail price is. The jars weren’t very big (the Pond’s one was even smaller than the Garnier jar), and I’m not sure if they sell bigger versions.

Anyway, I don’t recommend them. Both claim to help “rejuvenate” the skin. Garnier called its label a night cream for anti-wrinkles, and Pond’s label claim to have AHA in it. Both cream felt heavy, thick, and greasy.

The product I recommend is Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Moisturizer SPF 30 (for day-time), and their label for the night-time one (which is just minus the SPF). The bottles are both 1oz., and cost $20 each… so some might find this expensive, given the small size of the bottles. The moisturizers are light, dissolves fast, and does not feel greasy; although the SPF one does feel a bit thicker than the night-time one.

I also love L’ORÉAL Magic Skin Beautifier B.B. Cream. It blends in very nicely with my skin tone and does not have that heavy makeup feel to it. It feels very light, stays on well, and is good as a moisturizer too. This could even be used as a primer before putting on the rest of your makeup, but I usually just wear this by itself. It’s also not very expensive, it’s around $10. (The only thing stopping it from being perfect is that it doesn’t have any SPF, which is a must!)

Okay, a list of other makeup and skincare that I like (and recommend):

  • Astringent: Neutrogena, or Clean & Clear by Johnson & Johnson
  • Toner: L’Oréal HydraFresh
  • Skin healing — dried, cracked, blistered, burnt, etc.: Aquaphor or Eucerin (Eucerin also makes a non-comedogenic daily facial moisturizer with SPF 30)
  • Facial SPF: for just regular SPF protection, Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid-Lotion Sunscreen (it’s good for only about an hour and a half, and then has to be reapplied), you get a variety of SPF protection level… SPF 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, etc.
  • Face Powder: CoverGirl Translucent Loose Powder (smells great and goes on flawlessly with its powder puff!)
  • Concealer: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Smoothing Stick (comes in a lipstick-like form, blends very well with most skin tones)
  • Foundation: CoverGirl Advanced Radiance (has the closest color selections to skin tones, doesn’t feel greasy or heavy)

I’m indifferent to mascara, eyeliners, and eyeshadows; and lipstick, lipgloss, and lipliners… but I have not found a blush that I like. I’m still looking for one! I’ve tried the powders, the mousse, and the loose powders — meh, I haven’t found any blush that I would buy again.

I’ve also have a bunch of makeup that I didn’t like, some of which I was very glad I didn’t have to spend money on because it ended up in the trash-can! I did NOT like Pond’s BB cream, very thick and greasy-feeling, and bad coloring; same thing with Maybelline BB cream and Olay BB cream. Olay’s BB cream also has a very heavy fragrance that I don’t like because it is overwhelming.