Global conscience – Part 1: Feed bags

... from Korea?!

Once upon a time, I cared about …

… my carbon footprint …

… my responsibility to society …

… never giving into ‘the man’ …

Let’s face it, as soon as you land in another country, maintaining the integrity of your conscience gets a bit tricky. For the first couple of months, your lifestyle maintenance list (e.g. my chosen responsibilities to the world-as seen above) will naturally grow shorter. Priorities lean towards hygiene (well, at least showering/going for a swim every now and then. I’m ashamed to say that once that backpack is on, the rest can wait. So many exciting adventures ahead!!), nutritional needs (grabbin’ a feed, hopefully something cheap, delicious, unrecognizable, and from a dirty stall on the side of a street), and experiencing everything you possibly can while you have the opportunity to do so.

However, once you settle down, the importance of getting back to your lifestyle maintenance list becomes shockingly apparent. How on earth can you change the world from Korea? Not only are you so far from home but there is a very distinct communication gap between you and your former conscience! Over a series of posts about environmental/global awareness, I’ll fill you in on a couple of tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way.

Admittedly, this topic get’s fairly heavy so I thought I’d start with something to lighten the load a little. I’m thinking of an internet purchase that gives back, is useful, and looks pretty darn nice. Think ‘save-the-world’ meets ‘city safari’ (this summer’s trend-to-the-max!) I’m talking about a bag, a functional and fabulous carry-all tote to be more precise. Let me introduce you to FEED 2 BAG from feedprojects.com:

Picture credit: http://www.styleq.com

Not only is it completely on trend, it also feeds 2 children in school (through UN World Food Program) for a WHOLE YEAR!! (Not literally, it would be mean to make a starving child eat from your handbag, let alone make him/her do it for a year. You are a cruel reader, indeed). The FEED 2 BAG is big enough to carry a book, a beach towel, sunscreen, and some wedges. Perfect to take you on your amazing summer getaway and for giving you really, really warm feelings in your tummy ❤

So, how much does it cost to tote around this sack of happy feelings?

It’ll set you back USD$100 plus shipping. A bit hefty? Check out other bags in their collection like Rugby by Ralph Lauren’s FEED HAITI BAG For USD$35 (plus shipping) you can provide 50 meals to the children of this disaster stricken nation.


So maybe give the underground mall’s a skip this season. Sure you can get 10-15 Korean bags for the same price, but I’m sure the starving children of the world would give you a big thumbs up for the effort.

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Is your dry-cleaner your best friend?

Well, is he? He should be!! In Korea, this is the person that makes you feel less like a ‘fat-foreigner’ and more like your usual self aka NOT wearing ill-fitting, tearing-at-the-seams, ‘bought-it-because-it-was-cheap-and-has-sleeves’ clothes.

Let’s face it, shopping here is hard. The size charts are completely different; most shops accommodate a different set of body shapes, and a lot of the clothes we can’t even try on! As a self-confessed shop-o-holic, I found a way around the system. Yep, as a foreign girl, it’s actually possible to buy cute, comfortable, WEARABLE clothes in Korea.

How does the dry-cleaner come into the mix? Well, your local dry-cleaner is also an expert tailor! That’s right, they can alter clothes to fit YOUR body. Not only that, they will do it very quickly (usually in 2 or 3 days) and very cheaply (seriously, between 2,000w-5000w to hem your pants. Prices may vary from store to store).

Let me show you what I mean. The ever prepared Ashley came to Korea equipped appropriately for the chilly Chuncheon winter. As a Canadian, she new to bring layers, heat trapping fabrics like polyester, and lots of long sleeves and pants to protect her appendages. Unfortunately, Dynamic Korea’s sweltering summer was just around the corner. Ashley needed a lot (a whole wardrobe actually) of new, appropriate clothes and she needed them pronto! So, we trundled off to the underground mall to ‘get our bargain on’.

Parameters: Sleeves, skirt or dress (preferable longer so it can be worn at work easily ie – no 18+ shows when you pick up the chalk), breathable materials.

Fit: Accentuate the waist, conceal the bottom half (if you’ve ever muttered ‘does my bum look big in this?’, I’m sure you can relate).

This is what we came up with:

Is this not one of the cutest work appropriate outfits ever?!

Ashley is wearing a tank from the new shop in Myeongdong’s pedestrian street (closest to the crosswalk by Dunkin Donuts with the racks out front). The belt, white button shirt, and skirt are from the underground mall. Total: under 35,000w

Dry cleaner magic: The skirt and white shirt were ‘F size’ (free size NOT fat size though sometimes I beg to differ) and weren’t at all flattering BUT the materials breath so well and there was enough of it to tailor: obvious choice. Skirt: According to fashion super-hero Tim Gunn, the skirt should end just above or below the knee. This skirt was really long and inconsistent with the length of the lining so our magic-maker bought it up to Gunn standard for us. Shirt: Ashley has quite a cute waist and it would have been a shame to lose it under this loose but super-cool, summer-button-up (note-to-self: acquire immediately. Awesome beach cover up!). To make the most of this shirt, we had dry cleaner Dan bring up the hem about 3 inches (he even followed the curve of the original hem). In the name of summer and all things cute, we threw a bright belt around her waist, accentuated her figure, and kept her shoulders covered (a MUST in this conservative county).

Here is a list of handy things your dry cleaner can do to your clothes to improve their integrity and keep them up to date:

-Re-sew dodgy hems/seams. This is where most of the quality is lost with cheaper clothes.

-Resize your pant legs so they are at an appropriate length.

-Bring the waist in! My biggest trouble is finding pants with an ok length, snug fit around my bum but the waist of a pregnant, fat-man’s beer gut.

-Completely re-do your jeans. If you bring in an old pair of jeans that fits well, he will be able to pull them apart and use them as a template for a pair you need altered.

-General maintenance ie sewing on buttons, fixing zips, mending holes (in most cases).

-Funnily enough, they even dry clean!! And iron, and they’ll let you use their dryer if you really need it …

p.s.- I ❤ u Korean dry cleaner man

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What the HELL is BB cream?!

Believe it or not, BB cream (Blemish Balm) did not come from Asia. It is actually a German skincare product. It originated as an ointment prescribed from dermatologists to help women who had undergone laser skin surgery. These poor ladies needed some extra gentle coverage with rejuvenating qualities for their post-surgery scarring and redness…Voila! BB cream was born.

Somehow, Korea caught wind of this and started producing it commercially as a beautification product. Korean drama actresses and pop stars were the first to start using BB cream. Coincidentally, these celebrities started to became extremely popular internationally. As their popularity grew, so did the market for their beauty secret. Right now, BB cream is sought after in Japan, China, South East Asia, and slowly breaking into the US and European markets.

So what is it exactly??

In a nut shell: a blessing! Basically, it’s a skincare/healing/rejuvenating product PLUS a make-up. BB cream is a lightweight foundation (buildable so it can be used as a concealer as well), probably closer to a tinted moisturizer, thin enough not to clog pores, a sunscreen, and a skin rejuvenator. It also contains any mix of (but not exclusive to) the following: anti-aging cream, whitening cream, acne treatment, oil-control, pore-tightening cream, and … well, the list goes on.

Unfortunately, this BB dream is not without its flaws. This miracle cream only comes in a select few colors, most brands only releasing 1 or 2 shades per product *sob*. Sadly, I have the skin of a south-east Asian, quite a few shades off the target BB market. Non-the-less, it has been by far the best concealer I’ve ever used. It works as a great ‘zit-zapper’ as well as a cover-all.

BB-cream has earned a permanent spot in my daily beauty routine but until the variety of shades broadens, I’ll just stick to the ever expanding BB-sample arsenal in my bathroom cabinet 😉

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White Tree – Snow: the Results!

Whitening cream – does it actually bleach your face white?! Well, after the initial intrigue (see White Tree – Snow) I’ve given it a red hot go and I have some answers for you! To keep the experiment fair, I tested a number of different spots (on my face and hands) and left some areas as my ‘control subjects’. After 4 weeks of day and night ‘whitening’, this mysterious serum has done wonders!! My skin tone has not gotten any ‘whiter’, nor do I don a bleached face. Basically, pigmentation (from freckles and past acne) has started to fade and my skin tone has started to even out.

The myth of ‘bleaching’ can finally be put to sleep!!

Onto a very INTRIGUING DISCOVERY: I was reading through Vogue the other night (I just watched ‘The September Issue’. As if I wasn’t going to pick up the mag!) and I stumbled across a very interesting advertisement. It seems that bigger international cosmetic companies have been selling ‘whitening’ cream to us all along! They just have a name more appealing to their English speaking market. Have you ever heard of ‘Skin Tone Corrector’? Popular brands like Clinique, Kiehls, and even Bobbi Brown have been making it the whole time (minus a label that seems to repel English speaking customers). Here’s what Clinique have to say about their product:

Imagine erasing past damage to create a more even skin tone. In fact, Clinique guiding dermatologist Dr Orentreigh says, “When skin is more even-toned, you look younger.” So here’s your second chance. To virtually undo the visible evidence of sun damage, dark patches, age spots, even the inevitable darkening that follows acne scarring.

Basically, give skin a clean slate. Create brightness and clarity for all ethnicities. Turn back the odometer. Our new skin tone corrector does all that – gently.

Use it twice a day on face, chest, hands. See results in about 4 to 6 weeks. One caution: daily sunscreen’s a must. It’s a fresh start – not a free ride.’

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Life’s Latest Lemonade

It’s no secret that lifestyle adjustments had to be made when I moved to Korea. The language is different; the culinary norms are well outside of my comfort zone; and our accommodation is well and truly ‘economical’. After 2 ½ years I have finally made a huge, tasty vat of lemonade from the excruciatingly bitter lemons that I like to call my ‘bathroom’.

For those not versed in the ways of Korean studio bathrooms, they are as follows:

  • 1 room that contains a toilet, bathroom sink, shower hose on the wall, sometimes a washing machine (check).
  • no walls to contain water from shower hose on the wall
  • slightly angled floors that end at the drain found in the centre of the bathroom
  • either a teensy window that doesn’t open or non at all (check, again)

Essentially, every time you take a shower you need to close your cabinets and cover your toilet paper, your whole bathroom will get wet (including your toilet seat) and there is very little/no ventilation. ‘Horrible bathing god!’ I hear you gasp. Well, it’s only a bad experience if you look at the western luxuries you’re missing instead of all the amazing Korean luxuries you are now getting. For instance:

  • the toilet is the PERFECT height for a leg-shaving stool
  • slap a face towel over the drain, drop a little essential oils down and let the over- sized steam room begin!
  • No matter how messy you get with your lotions, potions, coffee-scrub leg masks (see messy success(y)), dyes or tans, cleaning requires a quick and simple hose down.
  • If you stay on top of the mold, you will always have a sparkly, clean bathroom.

Till next time, you can find me in my girl lair xx

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Messy Success(y)

Exfoliant – CHECK. Moisturizer – CHECK. Cellulite prevention – To Be Confirmed…

It is no secret that Elle McPherson scrubs her legs with freshly used coffee grounds to prevent cellulite. Apparently, caffeine assists in firming the skin visibly reducing the appearance of cellulite. Regarding this slightly unusual beauty treatment, I have a big fat question: Is Elle’s lack of cellulite due to a highly efficient coffee scrub or a highly efficient ‘pretty gene’? Save for actual scientific research, there really is only one way to find out. I had to get my scrubbing hands on.

Earlier today I concocted a paste consisting of a quarter cup freshly used coffee grounds and a generous whirl of olive oil. In my girl-lair (bathroom) I gave my legs a good scrub down, in circular motions of course. After covering the whole of my legs (and the tiles of my bathroom floor-formerly cream in appearance), I washed off the grainy-oily mix and inspected the results. To my surprise, my legs were soooooo smooth! In my opinion olive oil is the best body moisturizer and coffee grounds make for an excellent exfoliant. As for firming the skin (all things cellulite) I can’t say I have a conclusive opinion. My legs look noticeably better but I can’t say whether it was caffeine induced or not. Does my skin look more radiant from the magical moisturizing properties of olive oil? Perhaps the dramatic exfoliation of the coffee grounds? Maybe from stimulating circulation in the area? Either way, this extremely messy procedure is worthy of my most exclusive pamper days.

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*Magic Wand*

1-snooze, snooze, snooze.

2-coffee

3-inspect damage from yesterdays eye make-up and notice the black smudge from my right eye down to my cheek

4-find clean clothes

My morning routine is so well worn that the horrific sight of panda eyes (those of a truly aged and worn beast) barely fazes me. Until my most recent discovery at SkinFood, it was a given that I would forever be baned with the dreaded UMMS (Unmovable Morning-after Mascara streaks). Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best to be a good little glitterazzi and remove all my make-up before bed. Unfortunately, much to the horrors of dermatologists everywhere, this routine usually ending with me prodding, rubbing and stretching the delicate skin around my tired little peepers, often with little success.

You, too?! Never fear. I have literally found a magic wand to cure all woes! Modestly named Eggplant Eye, Make-up Remover bar (4,000w approx. $4AUS. Sorry, it’s only available through the Korean site), this little drop from heaven is a mascara/eyeliner-users every wish come true. Imagine a cotton tip that miraculously soaks itself in gentle eye make-up remover at the twist of a bud. Imagine no more! The creations team (nothing less than angels!) at SkinFood have delivered us this gift at an exceptionally low price.

Being an Asian cosmetics line, the instructions are rarely in English. Lucky for us, little picture instructions have been included on the back. From what I gather (and from a little MacGyver time in the bathroom), all you do is twist the top off, wait a couple of mo’s for the liquid to settle, pop the top back on and Bob’s a monkey’s uncle.

Gentle-swipey dreams dear friends! x

Ps – Don’t be alarmed when you wake up to a gorgeously refreshed morning maiden in the mirror tomorrow

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