Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trader Joe's Blueberry & Acai Facial Scrub

Trader Joe's Blueberry Acai Facial Scrub

I love Trader Joe's.  It's like a smaller Whole Foods and the employees are always super friendly so I'm in there fairly often.  My boyfriend once said, "Get everything you need so we're not here three times a week."  But there's so much to buy!  Apple blossoms!  Green tea mochi!  Turkish honey!  Matcha cookies!  Kale!  And . . . this Blueberry & Acai Facial Scrub.  

I was like, "Girl, you do not need another skincare product.  Don't waste your money."  The little devil on my shoulder was like, "Girl, it's only $5.99, tho."  I walked away, but it ended up in my basket at the till because who can pass up a face scrub like this?  Worth.  Every.  Penny. 

The blueberry and acai scrub comes house in a 2 oz frosted glass jar with a silver lid.  There's something about weighted glass containers that feel incredibly luxurious in the hand.  You can see the full list of ingredients on their website, and I'm pleased that the second ingredient is blueberry fruit and not filler.  The product smells like fresh berries.  Absolutely delightful. 

Trader Joe's Blueberry Acai Facial Scrub, Review, Lumière & Lens, Affordable Beauty

The exfoliation comes from the alpha hydroxy acids in the scrub: citric acid, malic acid, and lactic acid, which are all high on the ingredient list.  Alpha hydroxy acids are carboxylic acids with hydroxyl groups (the OH) adjacent to the COOHs.  In beauty products, alpha hydroxy acids are used for chemical exfoliation.  Using a sunscreen is recommended because you're basically removing the top layer of skin, but you should be using one anyways!  And before anyone wants to give me a lecture on "chemical nasties" and going "chemical free," I'm going to stop you right there to let you know that's a big fat marketing gimmick of a lie. 

Does it work?  I've been using it for about a week so far.  I've noticed that my skin is softer and smoother to the touch.  The smoothness is palpable immediately after use.  My makeup applies more evenly and has greater longevity than usual despite spending long days in lab.  I've had no adverse reactions; I'm hoping they don't discontinue this product, because I like it way more than my granulated facial scrub!  I'd highly recommend picking this up the next time you're at Trader Joe's!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday #48: Generous Helpings

Hello, everyone, how were your weeks?  Mine has been a mix of ups and downs.  I'm mid-synthesis in lab, waiting for reagents to arrive, and we're having to do troubleshooting for our biology work.  As for the better moments?  I got to take some coffee/lunch breaks with good people this week, shared a post on self-care habits, and closed out Friday with a concert in the park and dinner with labmates.  I've been a busy beaver!


I was invited along with my friend and her boyfriend to have lunch at Ginger Corner Market in Pasadena this week.  Ginger is one of those small sandwich shops with salads, coffee, and pastries.  It has quite a rustic, at-home feel to it (a very Instagram-friendly aesthetic, too, I might add).  I ordered what might quite have been the most delicious BLT I've ever eaten: generous helpings of candied bacon, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, all topped with a fried egg on sourdough bread.  I was so full from lunch that I didn't get one of their delicious looking pastries (they had a banana-Nutella turnover).  I'll be back, Ginger.  Just you wait and see!



I may have watched quite a bit of Netflix this week.  I started Ann With An E after a recommendation from Gina.  It's an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and is one of the most feminist shows I've ever seen.  Definitely recommend it!  My boyfriend and I finished the second season of Master of None.  It's not as funny as the first, but watchable.  The story lines are very  . . . millennial appropriate.  I now have Riverdale on in the background and I'm loving it!  I read the Archie comics as a kid and I think they nailed the casting.  What I don't like is how all these "teenagers" are played by adults like all dramas.  I recall my shock at how all the teenagers looked younger, more awkward, and smaller in real life back when I started high school.  Did anyone else have that experience?



I sent off the finished photos for Grant from Lost Art Creative this week.  We did the shoot in Old Town, Pasadena.  I had a great time working and post-processing!  Every person I work with wants a different style of shoot, composition, and lighting.  As I've said before, every photo session is an opportunity to learn something and the model themselves can unknowingly be teaching a lesson.

Photographs of Grant.

Avi at Golden Photography is one of the first photographers I've ever followed on Instagram.  He is also a photographer based in Los Angeles and after communicating for several months, we got around to shooting in the city on Saturday.  I'm excited for the photos to come back because they're the best ones anyone has ever taken of me!  On top of that, it was so interesting to observe someone with a completely different aesthetic and view of photography.  It was a really fun Saturday afternoon!  I came away from both experiences with opened eyes on how much more I have to learn and to keep practicing.



•  Single and not looking by Jane.  Life doesn't need a relationship to be full.  She writes it so beautifully.
•  Feminista Jones opens a dialogue on how women are expected to appreciate compliments without agreeing.
•  Gillian started a series called the Freelance Diaries.  Read her first post on a peek into her week!
•  Just for fun: penmanship that is beautiful enough to make you weep.

It's Sunday afternoon now.  The California heat has set in,  I'm drowsy, and I have a lot of errands to run.  Tell me about your week in the comments and how your Sunday was?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Everyday Self-Care That Doesn't Take Up (Too Much) Time

Self-care, Lumière & Lens

Did you know that May is Mental Health Month?  My contribution this year will be on that ever popular buzzword(s): self-care.  The notion of self-care is something I became acquainted with in the first year of my PhD studies.  Academic productivity is important, but staying healthy is pertinent to that goal.  No matter where we are in life, however, I think we can agree that everyone could benefit from taking care of themselves.

Self-care is important for managing mental/physical health, but I don't always have the resources to take vacations or engage in retail therapy (the answer to every woe is not #treatyoself).  I've been working on practicing self-care in my everyday life, to make it habit.  In my opinion, self-care shouldn't be saved for special occasions or when I've had an extremely bad day.  Here are the self-care practices in which I engage.  Obviously, I'm not a mental health professional so this shouldn't be taken as treatment for anything.  I hope this is useful for somebody!



We all hang out with people and we have a choice in our company.  I've been making an effort to have healthier relationships.  As I've touched on in my decluttering post, I don't spend time or energy with people out of obligation.  I'm going to write one of my favorite quotes, "Respect yourself enough to walk away from something that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy."  If a person stresses me out or spending time with them doesn't feel good, I walk away.  On the flip side, I'm lucky to know friends and family who inspire me to be a better person.



A lot of us (definitely me) have a tendency to be incredibly self-critical and beat ourselves up when things go wrong.  The next time you fall into this trap, ask yourself, "Would I say this to a friend?"  If the answer is no, then don't say it to yourself!  For me, practicing kindness is accepting mistakes and figuring out how to learn from them.  It's not beating myself up if I skip the gym, eat pie, or take a day to myself.  As for being kind to others?  I've always believed that a lot of meanness stems from insecurity -- just because I feel poorly doesn't give me an excuse to treat others as such.  Besides, I've never felt bad for being kind, but I have for meanness.  Create the environment you in which you want to thrive (see above).



There are things we do regularly: shower, bathe, put on our skincare, etc.  May as well turn them into luxurious experiences!  I keep a candle in my bathroom that I light before my daily shower (I like nature scents).  As I live in California, I also keep the windows open and play music on my phone.  Do I dance while I shower?  OF COURSE I DO.  I use well scented shampoo and shower gels to make my bath feel as much like a spa as possible.  As a makeup lover, one of the best parts of my morning is applying my War Paint.  Who cares if I'm just going into lab to slap goggles on my face?



You can probably see that a common theme emerging here.  Finding time to appreciate what's around me every day helps immensely for coping with stress.  I appreciate a laugh and stroll for coffee with friends each week.  I appreciate being able to afford the candle and toiletries of my preference.  I appreciate the little acts of kindness people show me.  Looking on the bright side is far easier said than done, but make it a daily practice to find the positive in bad situations.  It gets easier to find light in the darkness that way.  Promise. 

What are some self-care practices in which you partake?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday #47: Cherries, Red Lips, and Music

Lumière & Lens, flatlay, cherries, fresh fruit

Guess what, lovelies?  Cherries are finally in season!  When I was a child, my mother and I would be the only ones to eat them which was fine by us.  By the way, it's Mother's Day!  I called both mamas this morning -- in a perfect world, all my family would be just a short drive away.  I'm in Philadelphia for a friend's wedding next month so I'll get to see my mother, if just for a weekend.

Moving on: this week has been filled with bacterial protein expression, frustrating science, and live music.  I have a coal mining documentary on while I draft this post, cup of tea at my left hand, and polished nails drying.  Color?  Red, red, red.  Theme of the week!



Roberta got some free tickets to see PJ Harvey at The Greek Theater in Griffith Park on Friday.  Neither of us had listened to her before, but we were game to go to LA to round out the week.  Since we don't get to dress up for work (labs ruin nice clothes), we went all out with red lipstick.  We arrived at Griffith Park hours before the show so we laid in grass before grabbing dinner at Puran's Restaurant (highly recommend).  Roberta got the chicken soup and I had the bolognese so our bellies were quite happy!

Lumière & Lens, PJ Harvey
Roberta wears MAC Chili.  I wear MAC Russian Red.  PJ Harvey wears pure power.

We were in for a real treat with PJ Harvey.  For one, the band sounded better live than on the record.  They had so much palpable passion and energy.  I was blown away by PJ Harvey herself; she is a magnetic, talented, and explosive powerhouse of a woman and musician.  I was astounded at the big voice that came out of her and her ability to seamlessly switch between vocals and saxophone.  After the show, we urban hiked out of Griffith Park and grabbed a ride home.  It was an AWESOME Friday.



There is a yearly band competition at my university.  For the third year in a row, my boyfriend and friends entered.  They didn't place in the finals on Saturday (but they should have!), but everyone had a good time anyways.  I was in Photography Heaven because I had so many subjects to photograph that day.  I got on my butt near the stage to get some of the pictures.  I didn't really care how stupid I looked because the angles were good!  By the end of the afternoon, my wrist was sore from holding my camera with the zoom lens.   Aahhhh, labors of love.  If you're interested, here they are from last year

Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Live Music
Alpine Ibex takes the stage.
Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Live Music
The banjo and bass players.
Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, CandidA candid peek at Liz during a conversation.
Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Couple Photography
Nick and Alexandra have a moment as they watch performances.
Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Live Music, Banjo Player
Main squeeze on the banjo.
Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Live Music, Rock
I don't know this person, but he was very intense.

I was editing for about two hours in the evening to share the pictures on Facebook with friends and family.  By the way, I'm back on that social media platform after declaring my exit.  I'm keeping the account very small (pretty much closer friends and family) and liberally turning off notifications to curate the space to my own preferences. 



Late this afternoon, I'm meeting up with someone to do a second series of headshots.  I'm going to try to fit in an ab workout to round out my 4X/week exercise routine.  There's also a lot around the house I want to get done.  Thankfully, it's still early enough in the day that I'm not panicking!  Hope you all had a great week!



•  Miho's stunning photography of the South African safari.
•  The art of constructive criticism from Digital Photography School.
•  I posted a photoshoot of one of my favorite models.  Leave some love? 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Brick Alleys

Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography

If you know me in any capacity, then you're aware that I'll inevitably ask to take your photo.  Sometimes, I phrase it like, "Are you photogenic?"  Other times, I demand, "Let's do a photoshoot!"  The majority of my photoshoots are scheduled with women; I needed to change things up a bit.  This photoshoot with D came about because I blurted out, "Are you photogenic? What's your number?  We should shoot."  We set up a time on an afternoon and D drove us into Old Town, Pasadena.

As a photographer, I treat every single shoot as a learning experience: how to work with someone new, how to adjust to the location, how to accommodate the model.  In D's case, we drifted towards more of a men's editorial perspective.  I typically photograph men while they're playing on instruments (i.e., my roommates and boyfriend).  I've not had the chance to work one-on-one as frequently with males versus females.  One-on-one sessions force me to work on directing and interaction that isn't a requisite for candid musical shots.

Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography
Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography
Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography, Red Brick
Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography
Lumière & Lens, Male Fashion Photography, Fashion Photography

D wasn't self-conscious or afraid to try different things in front of the camera.  As a result, we ended up with a lot of different scenes and poses.  As you can tell, I love the look of red brick and wood with greenery so that ended up in a lot of the pictures.  I typically photograph females with greenery and it was interesting to work background in a "masculine" way.  In any case, there were a lot of workable shots so post-processing was a dream. 

In case you're wondering, D is the model from this past Sunday's post!  We've been coming up with ideas for other photoshoots and I'm excited for new directions.  As always, positive or negative feedback is equally welcome.  I'll be sharing more shoots with other models in the future.  Let me know what you think? 

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday #46: Extra

Lumière & Lens, Self Portrait
Lumière & Lens, Self Portrait
Cardigan: H&M, Band T-shirt: Death Cab for Cutie, Shorts: Lululemon courtesy of @vinyasaraptor

Hello, lovelies!  See what I did up there?   Throw back to my fashion blogging days!  On weekends, I either go makeup free or clean myself up, so here are self portraits from this week when I cleaned up.  Slightly.  It rained all weekend so the light was just perfectly diffused when I took these!



This week was pretty busy in lab.  I'm trying to finish out the last set of experiments for a manuscript.  I spent most of the week running assays and doing protein expression.  I didn't need to express that particular protein for my project, but I enjoy the process and wanted to do more hands-on work.  Protein expression requires sterile technique; one of my favorite things is actually the spraying of my gloves with ethanol.  It makes me feel like I'm about to go into surgery, for some reason!  Anyways, I was properly tired by the end of the week and went home to enjoy sparkling water with lime, as pictured here. 

Lumière & Lens, San Pellegrino Water



On Saturday, my friend Roberta and I went out to Old Town and walked out of MAC with one lipstick apiece (I nabbed Russian Red).  Spending time with her makes me want to take care of myself more.  She is one of the chicest women I know -- I feel like a troll standing next to her!  In the 4.5 years I've been in graduate school, I've "let myself go," so to speak.  Now I'm not saying that a woman is required to dress a certain way or wear makeup to be considered respectable, but I put a lot less thought into personal presentation than I did as a first year.  Hearing people say things like, "I remember you used to look so nice every day when you first started" gets old pretty fast.  Now I just need to figure out a way to work red lipstick into my lab look without being too extra.  #FirstWorldProblems



I had a photoshoot with a friend from another lab today. One of the questions people ask me a lot is, "When are you going to start charging?" I have rules: if I ask you to model, its not fair for me to charge you since it's time for prints. However, I'll give a rate for strangers who ask (as happened this week) which they can take or leave. At the end of the day, it's a lot of work to travel, shoot, and then post-process the amount of photos that I do.  Labors of love are still LABORS.

Lumière & Lens, Lumière & Lens Photography, Fashion Photography
A candid between takes on the photoshoot.

We were going to head into the Arts District in DTLA, but it was raining so much that I didn't want to commute for 30 minutes as the light of the day slipped away.  Of course, when we decided to stay local, the sun started to shine!  I'm sharing this great candid I snapped; I'm thinking of sharing a more complete photoset soon though they don't seem as popular here!



Our friends decided to make some homemade pasta so I'm currently enjoying a bowl of it while I process photographs and get ready for the coming week.  Of course, being me, I ran into the kitchen and started snapping.  I'm thankful to have people around who do not smack the camera out of my hand with the constant shutter clicking.  

Lumière & Lens, Homemade Pasta
Lumière & Lens, Homemade Pasta



•  I loved Cherie's perspective on the girlboss phenomenon.
•  Arden tackles the standards of an online presence.  

Your turn, lovelies.  What activities did you take part in this past week?