Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday #40: 750

Green tea, new props, and makeup (Canon 750D).

Hello, hello! It's Sunday evening and I'm currently writing this up before we go food shopping for the week.  The image above are some things I've been loving lately: a new wood backdrop, the Rimmel London Kate Sculpting and Highlighting Kit (in 002), my bullet journal, and this sea urchin skeleton my boyfriend got me from Texas.  I thought all the objects looked pretty together and couldn't resist snapping it with my new Canon 750D.  


That's right, my Canon 750D arrived this Friday!  I love the reduced noise at higher ISO speeds, expanded ISO range, the increased frames per second, and improved image resolution.  I've taken it for a spin around my campus and out with friends.  I finally managed to nab photos of my beautiful friend with fiery hair!  I also did some water blurring near the bridge that we've been hanging out on lately.  I'm making an effort to get interesting photos from the ordinary places I see everyday.  Much like my old Canon 1000D, I think trying to work past my limitations helps me grow creatively.  


Ramen Tatsunoya is one of my favorite restaurants in Old Town, Pasadena.  Every other Wednesday or so, I go out to dinner after lab with Liz and we tend to crave ramen because of how "cold" the winter has been in Los Angeles.  We went again this past week and stuffed ourselves to the brim!  Ramen Tatsunoya specializes in tonkotsu (pork) ramen.  Fresh noodles are served in a fatty pork broth with mushrooms, scallions, and slices of fat pork.  We also got the Tatsunoya Roll which is like sushi, but with pork instead of fish.  Mmmm.  Just take my money!  Reason #535435 I can never do low-carb.  On Saturday, my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to get ramen so I went again.  #NoRegrets. NOT SORRY.

Ramen Tatsunoya, Ramen in Old Town, Ramen in Pasadena, Ramen, Tonkotsu ramen
Tatsunoya Roll (Canon 1000D).
Ramen Tatsunoya, Tonkotsu Ramen, Pork Broth
Decor, Jun Tonkotsu Ramen, and patrons (Canon 1000D). 


I'm a very picky person about entertainment; I'm often so indecisive and uninterested in new pieces that I tend to just rewatch old favorites.  However, I've been loving some of the new standup specials on Netflix.  First, I want to recommend Trevor Noah's Afraid of the Dark special.  His impersonations are spot on.  Not to spoil too much, but my jaw dropped at his Obama impression.  I've also been loving Dave Chappelle's new specials on Netflix.  Is he politically correct?  No, but he's one of the best comedians I've ever seen and had me belly laughing this week.  Last, but not least, Cristela Alonzo (Lower Classy) is an absolute riot and incredibly relatable for immigrants to our country.  


•  The notion of a "revenge body" is reductive and toxic.  I loved Amanda Richards's prerogative on shedding people who will judge based on looks.    
•  Ria shares her thoughts on flawed celebrity feminism and the need for intersectionality.
•  The President and the Big Boy Truck.  I'll just leave this here.

How was your week?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

One of Those Days

Today has been one of those days. 

In the morning, I wore the wrong shoes to lab and realized it halfway on my bike ride to campus.  I changed into my backup shoes in my office and realized I'd forgotten my laptop charger.  At noon, I bought a banh mi sandwich from the campus cafe, only to realize that the chicken meat was suspiciously pink when I opened the container.  After settling for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, my colleague and I walked to get the Pringles I was craving from the campus convenience store, but it was closed for remodeling.  On top of all this, the samples I'd hope would be done freeze drying for an assay today were still not ready by the end of the day.  

Le sigh.

However, I persist in looking on the bright side which is the stroll my colleague and I took through the campus gardens after our failure to attain Pringles.  Spring has fully arrived in Southern California, as the blooms and my allergies will confirm.  In addition to the greenery, which have received much needed rain this year, there are pink, white, and purple flowers blooming all over campus.  Don't ask me what they are; I'm not a botanist.

I go to this garden during coffee breaks sometimes because the sound of water running through the pond is soothing.  There are also koi fish and turtles who always look grumpy.  Sometimes, I observe the local families who bring their children to our campus during the day.  The children like to look for turtles and lick bricks (saw this with my own eyes).  

All things considered, I suppose the day wasn't a complete loss.  I snapped these photographs on my old camera, assembled all my materials for tomorrow, and planned out experiments to run.  I managed to hit the gym for the first time this week and am now enjoying a dinner of linguine with mushroom sauce.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday #39: Frames Per Second

Hanging by a fountain this week with my lab face.  Photo by @bigboiquach

You know what I like most about Sundays?  Starting my morning in a nest of blankets, sunlight streaming in from my window and with coffee in hand.  I had a lab meeting on Saturday so I'm taking a break from lab today.  Who doesn't love a slow, simple start to a Sunday?  I hope your morning was peaceful as well.


Last weekend, I provided complimentary professional headshots for the women in my academic community.  I gave the organizer a three week timeline, but I was so excited about post-processing that I sent the final images off on Thursday.  Since then, I've had lovely emails and positive feedback from people who are quite happy with the work I did!  One woman even asked me to do an engagement session!  I'm currently putting together images for a portfolio though I'm not sure if I should go with Carbonmade or Squarespace. 

I was also tapped by a videographer (Lost Art Creative) on Instagram to do some artistic portraits this weekend.  We did most of the photoshoot on his Sony a7SII.  It was my first time using that camera; it was an interesting (and initially disorienting) experience to work on high end mirrorless equipment!  Here are two of the final images.

Photos shot on a Sony a7S II (left) and a Canon Rebel 1000D (right). 


The limitations of my dear old Canon 1000D have become increasingly apparent to me as I've gained photographic experience.  I firmly believe that it's the photographer who makes the image and not the camera.  However, my Canon 1000D has outlived its usefulness in terms of producing the quality of images that are up to the modern standards.  It shoots at just 3 fps, exhibits apparent noise at higher ISO speeds, and is just 10.2 MPs.  I finally bit the bullet this past weekend and purchased a Canon 750D body as a refurbished product directly from the manufacturer!  I got an additional 15% off so it was within the budget I had set.  In a perfect world, I would've liked a full frame camera, but it's a good intermediate until I can afford a professional model.  I'm so excited for the new camera to arrive; it has 24 MPs AND shoots HD video!  Perhaps YouTube videos are a possibility for Lumière & Lens.  What do you think? 


Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie -- I always loved that Belle wasn't shallow and read books.  My boyfriend and a few friends are going to see the live action version tonight.  We're leaving in a few minutes and I'm quite excited!  I know it got pretty decent reviews so I can't wait to tuck in with buttered popcorn for a few hours.  If you're seeing it (or have), do leave me your thoughts in the comments!

Update: Beauty and the Beast was okay.  Pretty hyped, a little bloated in parts, but entertaining.


•  Plugging my posts from this week: homemade apple pie and my complexion heroes.
•  Cherie talks about the cookie cutter culture in the blogosphere and I thought, "SHOUT IT, SISTER!"

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Current Skincare Heroes

skincare heroes, products for dry skin
Affordable (mostly) skincare heroes for hydration and brightness.

For the most part, I purchase drugstore/affordable products that are under $20.  As a chemist, I can't justify the cost of expensive skincare.  When I look at the ingredients in expensive serums, I never deem the water/glycerin/silicones at the top of the list to be worth the cost, especially when they're usually responsible for the "smooth" feeling from product use.  You're not getting me, brand marketing!

I digress to the real point of this post: tried and true products I've used for a long time to rescue my skin.  I live in a desert climate and work in a lab, both of which are pretty harsh on the biggest organ on our bodies.  If they can work for me under such conditions, they'll hopefully do the same for you!  For all the dry skin lizards people out there, here are the products I rely on to revive my complexion!

Hudsalve.  I once Googled why Alicia Vikander has such beautiful skin and she mentioned this balm (but for real, I bet it's genetics).  If you're allergic to peanuts, this isn't the product for you because it contains nut oil.  If you're not, it's a great balm for the lips and face!

Shiseido Benefiance Eye Cream.  Eye cream is the only skincare product that I haven't had success with from the drugstore.  This one is rich and creamy.  My bank account cries every time I buy it, but my undereyes drink it up. 

Pacifica Cactus & Kale Lotion review, Cerave PM lotion

CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion PM.  I've used this lotion for years.  It contains niacinamide, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.  It's lightweight, moisturizing, and has never failed me.  With long term use, my skin is definitely softer and smoother.  I apply this on top of my DIY facial serum.

Pacifica Cactus & Kale Renewal Lotion.  I picked up this "splurge" moisturizer on a whim from Target.  It's pleasantly fragrant without being irritating and seems to brighten up my face.  It's lightweight so I like it under makeup.  The packaging makes it feel luxurious to use as well. 

Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask.  This mask is warming when first applied.  I leave this on for about 15 minutes and then gently rub the grains on my skin followed by a good rinse.  Hello, soft skin!

Mediheal Vita Lightbeam Essential Mask.  If you only buy one sheet mask in your life, make it from the Mediheal brand.  The sheet is drenched in serum and there's always some left over in the package to top off afterwards.  My face is immediately more hydrated and bright after using one.  I buy these in a box on Amazon and at $1+ a mask, they're well worth the money.  

What are your skincare favorites?  Do you have recommendations?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Homemade Apple Pie

Homemade apple pie is, hands down, one of my favorite desserts and I bake a mean one, if I might say so myself.  In college, I would bake this pie every other week for my best friend and I to warm our bellies on chilly East Coast weekends.  I originally used this recipe, but I've adapted it quite a bit over years.  This pie recipe is a hit every time it's baked so if you're in the mood for something delicious, read on!


2 pie crusts (premade, thin)
3 Granny Smith Apples
2 Gala or Honeycrisp Apples
1 Golden Delicious Apple
1 Macintosh Apple
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of flour
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of water
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

Preparation.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In the meantime, spread the first pie crust out onto a 9" pie plate.  Peel and core the apples.  Cut the apples into 1/2 inch pieces and fill the pie plate evenly. Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  

The filling.  In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir until the mixture becomes viscous over low to medium heat.  Add the sugar and water.  Stir to make sure the ingredients are well mixed.  Heat and stir the mixture until it starts to bubble.  When the mixture takes on the consistency of a thick syrup, pour it over the apple in a circular motion to ensure even coverage.  Continue filling the pie plate until tablespoon or so of the mixture remains. 

The upper crust.  Place the second crust on top of the pie plate filled with apples and filling.  Crimp around the edges to seal the two crusts together.  You can use the tines of a fork to create the pattern around the edges.  Cut 2" slits on the upper crust.  Drizzle the remainder of the filling on top of the pie and spread it with the back of a spoon to create a glaze.  

Baking.  Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.  As it bakes, you should see bubbling from the vents and browning of the crust.  

And then you eat it.  Remove the pie from the oven, let cool, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!  Share with friends (or not) and enjoy!

I personally really like thin, flaky premade crusts, but feel free to make your own with this pie.  I've also used thick, whole wheat crusts from Whole Foods before and that worked out quite well.  To make cleanup even easier, line a baking tray with tin foil before placing the pie on it to bake.  This catches any overflow.  

There's my apple pie recipe!  Let me know if you try it and how it works out.  

What's your favorite pie?  Any baking tips you would like to share?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday #38: Labors of Love

Lumière & Lens, Sunday post, Sunday
A busy weekend of photoshoots, editing, and hot, hot heat.

Hello, lovely people!  Thank you to all of you who left well wishes on my last post because your kind words never fail to bring a smile to my face.  I'm happy to report that I'm feeling far better though my stomach will take some time to stop being so sensitive.  Strength recovery took a few days, but I've been running around all weekend just fine and looking forward to getting back into the gym next week.  I lost 5 lbs in a day while I was sick and a whole lot of gains from not exercising!  BOO.

10 TO 5

On Saturday, I did the headshots for a women's group at my university.  I was initially disappointed that a lot of the afternoon slots weren't filled, but I photographed ten different people that day and slipped in a personal photoshoot with a classmate in the gap time.  I was pretty much photographing from 10 AM to 5 PM!  I'm glad for the experience because there's more to photography than using the camera.  There's talking to the subjects, helping them feel more comfortable and at ease before the shutter clicks.  I've been having a blast editing as well.  Aaahhh, taking pictures and post-processing.  THE DREAM, I tell you.  Here's one of the photographs from the personal shoot.  Isn't she luminous?

dreamy photoshoot, girl with flowers, princess


My boyfriend/partner came home from his conference on Friday!  His birthday is tomorrow so I'm cooking him one of his favorite meals of chicken paprikash with homemade apple pie for dessert (he's not a cake person).  I'm going to bake the pie and have it ready by the time our roommates (and their visitors) are all home together so we can celebrate together.  We're also planning to go to Eagle Rock Home Brewing Supply next week so I can buy him all the ingredients to brew his own oatmeal stout.  Last year, I got him a Russian Imperial Stout brewing kit that worked out quite well.


Spring is well and on its way here in Southern California.  In one week, I went from sleeping under three blankets with the heat on wearing a tank top and shorts outside.  Allergy season has been particularly bad after the heavy rains we've had so I start every morning with a mega-sneezing fit.  Ah, give me back my winter, California.  I want my chilly nights, sweater weather, and rainstorms back, please! 

Monday, March 06, 2017

In Recovery

Chicken soup for the soul and tummy.

I received a text from my best friend first thing this morning that said, "I'm missing my Sunday L&L post!"  In lieu of the usual Sunday post, here's a bit of what's been going on.  As I've complained posted on social media, I got pretty sick over the weekend.  Late Saturday night, I was hit with what I think is the stomach flu that's been going around. 

My boyfriend is out of town on a conference so our roommates got me some ginger ale, Saltines, and went with me to the grocery to get what I call Sick People Foods: bread, chicken noodle soup, bananas, and coconut water.  My weekend was spent in a blanket nest on my couch, alternating between eating and drinking what I could, to napping when I could sleep.  My roommate was dog sitting so having two small puppies (the visiting one was especially cuddly) to sleep next to was a small comfort.  Having a puppy curl up against you is one of the most heartwarming feelings!  That and the kindness of others this weekend.

I'm at home today, doing my best to recover.  It's still touch and go at the moment. My illness forced me to cancel a shoot yesterday and I'm missing work.  I feel guilty about both, but my number one priority is getting better so this doesn't drag on.  I've dropped 5 pounds on this bug and a whole lot of dignity.  

Okay, I'm done, I'm done.  The next I touch base, it'll be back to regularly scheduled positive vibes!