Your Foolproof Guide To Birthday Freebies

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Want to know a fun fact about me? I pretty much lie on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to being a frugal spender or an impulsive buyer. Not only am I an avid couponer, discount code user, and Rewards Card enthusiast (and proud of it!), but I can also spontaneously purchase an item for its original price if I can’t stop obsessing over it. Because I know a bunch of you guys LOVE freebies (I mean who doesn’t?), I thought I would share one of my secrets to unlocking the ultimate birthday treat for yourself, such as scoring all of them birthday freebies during your special month!

If you really don’t want to miss out on the goods (insert suggestive emoji here), be sure to check out my foolproof guide to birthday freebies below! Additionally, I want to point out that since I grew up in the Bay Area but currently live in Orange County, this list will GENERALLY pertain to California residents. If anything, I highly recommend signing up for ALL of these brand’s newsletters and email lists no later than one month before your birthday to the beginning of your birthday month. However, the earlier, the better! In regards to expiration dates, please keep in mind that my birthday is on June 17th, so y’all can use my birthday as a general reference to assess approximately when these deals will most likely expire.

So without further ado, let’s get started! In order to redeem these amazing freebies, you either have to sign up for their email list/newsletter on their website (usually it’s either an automatic pop-up or located at the very bottom of the home page) or download the mobile app.

*NOTE: I will continue to update this birthday list every single year to keep all of these discounts/deals up-to-date, so be sure to bookmark/save this blog post and share it with your friends for future updates! :)

Last Update: June 24, 2019

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Restaurants/Cafes (Food & Drinks)


Benihana: $30 off your entire purchase (Monday - Thursday dinner only, at least one required entree purchased at your table)

BJ’s: 1 Free Birthday Pizookie

Bruegger’s Bagels: 1 Free Bagel & Cream Cheese

Bucca Di Beppo: 1 Free Burrito

Buffalo Wild Wings: 1 Free Snack Sized Wings

Ding Tea Mission Viejo: 1 Free Birthday Drink (Expires by your birthday)

Einstein Bros: 1 Free Egg Sandwich

Gong Cha: 1 Free Medium Tea (Expires by your birthday, ID required)

Gyukaku: 100 Free Points on your Birthday (on the mobile app)

Jamba Juice: 1 Free drink of your choice (Enter phone number at checkout)

Jersey Mike’s Subs: 1 Free Regular Sub + 1 Free Fountain Drink

Mangia Bene Cuisine: 1 Complimentary Dinner For Birthday Guest with a Party of 4 or more (Expires 6/30)

Nothing Bundt Cakes: 1 Free Bundtlet (Expires by 6/24)

Peet’s Coffee: 1 Free Drink of your choice

Red Robin: 1 Free Burger (Expires by 6/30)

Starbucks: 1 Free Birthday Drink of your choice (mobile app)

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes: 1 Free Meal + Your Entire Party Gets 20% Off (Expires 6/24)

Susie Cakes: 1 Free Birthday Cake Slice (On mobile app)

Tea Era: 1 Free Drink Up To $3.00 (Expires by your birthday)

The Habit Burger Grill: 1 Free Charburger with Cheese (Expires 7/10)

Togo’s: Free Regular Sandwich (Expires in 14 days, must be redeemed in restaurant)

Tom N’ Toms: 1 Free Small Beverage (Expires by your birthday)

Veggie Grill: $5.00 off your next order (Redeemable 8 days before or 7 days after your birthday, in-store or phone order, beverages excluded)


Retail


DSW: Score $5 off your entire purchase

IKEA: Score $15 off your next purchase (Expires 6/30) + 1 Free IKEA Meal with DAIM Cake or Blueberry Mousse

Kiehl’s: 1 Complimentary Lip Balm with any purchase (Expires 7/17)

Rent The Runway: Score $25 off your entire purchase (Expires by your birthday)

Sephora: 1 Free Birthday Package (Redeemable in stores)

Skinfood: 1 Free Everyday Facial Mask Sheet + $5 Off Your Purchase of $25+ (Expires by end of month)


Spas


Burke Williams Day Spa: 1 Free Enhancement with purchase of a massage

Glen Ivy Hot Springs: Free admission on your actual birthday (Cannot be any other day)


Are you a huge couponer, implusive buyer, or both? Which places that I’ve listed above have you visited before? Talk to me in the comments below - let’s chat!


Outfit Details:

Dress: VICI

Boots: ALDO


Photography By:

Munopia from @munopia

www.munopia.com


A Healthy Everyday Lifestyle Change with Swisse

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Hello everybody, and happy Monday! I know, I know - it’s been a hot minute since I’ve published a blog post addressing the topic of health, but today’s the day that I wanted to share more about this topic on the blog! For those of you who want to keep reading, I want to introduce you to one brand called Swisse that I’ve recently incorporated into my everyday lifestyle. Not only did I discover this brand through my favorite Singapore Blogger, Christabel Chua from @bellywellyjelly, but I am also a huge fan of trying out new brands that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Now, let me tell you a little bit more about Swisse and why I’ve decided to include them into my everyday routine.


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When it comes to taking vitamins and supplements, I’m going to honestly admit that I am a lazy person. In other words, I always think about taking my vitamins and supplements in the morning, but never actually go through with the act because I end up convincing myself that I’ll take it later or after my meal…which in all honesty, never happens. I mean, who wants to reach in the cabinet, take out an entire vitamins bottle, pop one pill into your hand, take the pill, and put the vitamins bottle back in the pantry? This whole vitamin-taking process sounds extremely tedious to me, and my groggy morning self never follows through with it.

However, a roundabout solution that I’ve found for my lazy self was to pre-pack vitamins into a ziploc bag so that I can take it with me on-the-go, anytime, anywhere. For a majority of my weekdays, I’m working at the office, so I honestly have no excuse as to WHY I don’t have time to take my vitamins, as I can just easily take one out of the bag as soon as I’ve finished my lunch. Personally, I find this ziploc bag method to be quite effective and to put simply, it’s the only way that I will end up taking my vitamins, LOL.

The specific product that I’ve been taking once a day is the Swisse Ultiboost Hair Skin Nails+ dietary supplement. It’s a medium-sized pill that can easily be taken with a glass of water, and this can be done in no more than just five simple seconds. These supplements are formulated with silica and Vitamin C, two main ingredients that play a significant role in collagen production. In fact, collagen production leads to “glossy hair, radiant skin, and healthy nails”. Additionally, I recently learned just how important the role of collagen plays in maintaining skin elasticity and vibrancy. From both previous media events that I’ve attended to reading online articles, studies have shown that in our mid-20s, our natural level of collagen production decreases by approximately 1-2% per year. By the age of 30, the decrease in collagen production becomes even more extreme than our mid-20s. Thus, it’s extremely important that we take proactive steps towards maintaining our collagen levels by depending on external factors, such as nutrient packed skincare products and vitamins.

Last but not least, the Vitamin C in this dietary supplement is known as an anti-inflammatory ingredient and protects against potential free radical damage.

Buy the Swisse Ultiboost Hair Skin Nails+ here.


Additionally, another ultiboost product that I lean on to increase my collagen levels includes the Swisse Ultiboost Hair Skin Nails Liquid. You can either take two teaspoons of this vegan liquid with water, juice, or a smoothie. If we’re talking about flavor, this liquid includes premium-quality ingredients such as Blood Orange Extract from Italy to give it a punch of Vitamin C (and delicious flavor!). Honestly, I prefer taking liquids over pills when it comes to dietary supplements, but with my foolproof ziploc bag idea, it’s a win-win situation ;)

Buy the Swisse Ultiboost Hair Skin Nails Liquid here.


If you’re interested in learning more about Swisse products or actually TRYING out the brand for yourself, I’m actually hosting a sweet little giveaway on my Instagram (@missmisschelle) to give away a bundle of Swisse products to TWO LUCKY WINNERS so be sure to check it out! ;) The prize haul (valued at $71) includes 1 Hair Skin Nails Tablet, 1 Hair Skin Nails Liquid, 1 Grape Seed, and 1 Liver Detox . Click here for the link to my Instagram giveaway! :)


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Do you take dietary vitamins and supplements daily? Do you prefer taking dietary supplements in a liquid or tablet form? Talk to me in the comments below - let’s chat!


Holy Matcha San Diego: Is It Worth The Visit?

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You know those Instagrammable cafes that look like all the fun and rage, but when you get to the ordering process, the must-have Iced Caramel Latte and overpriced Avocado Toast actually sucks balls? Honestly, I’ve been through my fair shares of disappointed cafe runs and let me just say, I’ve gotten better at deciphering which cafes I’ll end up enjoying versus those that I know I would never go again.

With overhyped cafes, I tend to stray away from the hipster AF ones that you see all over social media that sell overpriced coffees that only offer syrups as sweeteners - just failed experience after failed experience, I just know that these are not my cup of tea (or coffee, in this case - bahaha).

But despite what I’m saying, you never truly know what a cafe will be like unless you try it for yourself. Despite every Yelp review ever written and despite what your mother says, your only best critic is yourself.

So, that brings us to today’s question of the day - is the Instagrammable Holy Matcha in San Diego worth the visit? Yes, yes, and YES! Now, it’s time to share with you guys WHY Holy Matcha has won my interest.


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Instagram goals in every corner.


Okay, let’s be honest here - who visits a cafe with their main intention of getting an Instagram-worthy shot before you leave? Luckily for you, this mindset is pretty much the norm these days. In the past, we often looked to Yelp for trustworthy restaurant reviews and aesthetic AF entrees. Nowadays, millennials have shifted their focus towards approving what the interior of a cafe looks like before even categorizing it in their “to-visit” list of Instagrammable cafes.

Oh boy, isn’t it funny how times have changed?

So for those of you who prioritize the appearance of a cafe’s interior before actually making a trip there (cough, I’m also guilty as charged, cough), you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Holy Matcha in San Diego has incorporated aesthetic spots into every corner of their cafe. From a cute neon light sign to pink couches adjoined to leafy wallpaper to Pigment-looking hipster AF chairs that you would only find in Barbie’s mansion, you’re pretty much set for Instagram content for the next few days if you dine here.

Also, if you really wanna cross the line of #shameless and #bossassbitch, you might as well bring 2-3 outfits with you and change in the bathroom. Don’t worry, we all do it these days - no one’s judging ;)

P.S. The bathroom is probably as aesthetic as the cafe itself.



The menu carries matcha-infused entrees that actually look as good as they taste.


Fun fact - did you know that I disliked matcha for years before I actually fell in love with it? Honestly, I think matcha is one of those acquired tastes that you have to get used to, similarly to how I feel about beer (LOL).

If you look at the menu, you will notice that almost every drink, dessert, or entree has matcha incorporated into it. Their menu consists of various tea selections, desserts, lemonades, toasts, and pastries. If you’re a first time visitor looking for some decent bites, I’d highly recommend their Matcha Horchata, Avocado Toast (it comes with flowers!), and Full Waffle Bouquet. In fact, I’ve personally tried all of these menu options and loved them for their aesthetic presentation and exquisite flavors!

Also, their Full Waffle Bouquet is made using vegan and gluten-free vanilla waffles and tastes ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Not only does this menu option serve as a great dessert to split with a friend or boothang, but it’s also not too sweet or heavy on the stomach!

In regards to price point, I will be honest that Holy Matcha San Diego is pricier than your average cafe, but you’re pretty much paying for the quality of the ingredients and dope presentation of your tablespread. Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed with your order!


So, I already know that I’ll be visiting Holy Matcha San Diego soon because my best friend keeps talking about dragging me here sooner or later to fulfill her must-shoot-at-this-Instagrammable-cafe desires, LOL! Thus, we will be making a whole day trip out of this and I’ll keep you guys updated on other San Diego hotspots that we’ll be visiting soon to the gram and blog ;)

Additionally, Holy Matcha recently opened a second location in North Park - you can see more photos and read about their grand opening here.


Have you heard of Holy Matcha San Diego before? Is this a location you would add to your “to-visit” list of Instagrammable cafes? Talk to me in the comments below - let’s chat!


Outfit Details:

Top: Showpo

Necklaces: Gorjana & Shop Bexo

Jeans: Bongo

Booties: Zooshoo


Photography By:

Huyen Tran (@huyentxo) of www.huyentxo.com


What It Feels Like To Be Heartbroken & How To Get Over Heartbreak

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In the entire course of my lifetime, I’ve been truly heartbroken…three times.

Two were romantic interests, and one was a close friend.

Yes, I’ve experienced and been through a number of toxic or incompatible relationships, but I can safely say that there were only three instances where I felt so emotionally torn up inside that I couldn’t even function properly throughout my day-to-day life. And no, I am not being overdramatic. When somebody truly means THAT much to you, you can actually feel this sort of hollow emptiness inside - a gut-wrenching feeling that feels like you are lacking something (or in this case, someone) important in your life.

To me, heartbreak is an extremely painful feeling that made me feel like I reached the weakest and most vulnerable point in my life. And in all honesty, only you can fix heartbreak on your own time, and nobody else can tell you how to feel or think when you’re going through heartbreak.

As just one influencer who is saturated within this overpopulated community of Instagram, I strongly feel that it is important to address both the good and bad experiences that I go through in life. To each their own, but I personally feel that I am able to be my most authentic and happy self when I am completely honest with you all. That being said, here are my three stories of heartbreak - all unique, all raw, and all unfiltered.


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Heartbreak #1 (Romance)


My first heartbreak happened when my college boyfriend broke up with me abruptly after I got back late one night from the movies with a friend. Although the two of us had completely different personalities and lifestyles, we intriguingly fell for each other. Maybe it was our mutual positive vibes and how we always wanted to have a good time with our friends? Or, maybe it was because we shared a similar sense of humor?

You can think of him as the “bad boy influence” who drinks, raves, and flirts with a lot of women, and I was more of that innocent Asian girl who went to class, took cute Instagram photos with her friends, and trying out new brunch spots with my girls. I honestly don’t know how we ended up together - however it happened, all I know is that we made each other happy.

Whenever we got into an argument, a compromise was always reached at the end. “Sorry’s” were given when deserved, and “I love you’s” felt natural and genuine.

College rumor says that I turned this bad boy into a better person. Peers mentioned that he changed for the better and “behaved more” (LOL) because of me - and that is truly the dangerous part about who I am. When it comes to dating, I always think I can change someone to be their best self, when in reality, the only person who can choose to change is that very same individual.

However, like any other couple, we had certain fights that kept reoccurring. Then, there was one big issue that made me realize that things were headed downhill for good - to put frankly, the issue revolved around lying and dishonesty. From that point on, I knew that things in our relationship were getting shaky, but I didn’t realize that things were going to end the way that they did.

The night of our breakup, I owned a wonky phone that sometimes just lost its damn reception for no good reason at all (this is why I can’t use shitty phones anymore) and failed to receive incoming texts for at least 24 hours. We had an argument on the phone just before I hung up, and I ended up going to the movies with a friend. Throughout that hangout, I frantically kept checking my phone for incoming texts from my boyfriend - but received nothing.

“Crap”, I thought. He never ignores me like this. Well, let me just go to the movies and maybe he’ll text me back later.

Upon stepping out of 21 Jump Street (hilarious movie, btw), I received a flurry of texts from my boyfriend talking about how I wasn’t replying at all and that it gave him serious time to think that we should break up.

As pathetic as this is to admit, I begged for him back. Not just once, but multiple times. Honestly, I just couldn’t imagine my life without him. We went on a Disneyland getaway together. We ice skated with friends in the beautiful outdoors rink at the popular Union Square. We bought Super Smash Bros. for his Wii so we could kick each other’s asses. We had homecooking and movie dates. We had nights where we laid in bed side-by-side to talk about just anything. AND, we even had an interesting yet ratchet (LOL) love story on how we eventually became official. Honestly, I just didn’t want to throw away this history over a stupid cellular device problem. But despite all of these fun dates, our problems were rooted deep underground, and I just didn’t want to admit that. Eventually, I realized I needed to grow the fuck up and be an independent adult for once. Why should I have to beg or convince a significant other to stay in my life? It’s honestly not worth the effort.

Although my mind and lifestyle accepted the breakup, my heart simply just couldn’t handle it. I remember walking aimlessly to class, telling my friends jokingly (yet seriously) that I was going to die as a cat lady. I remember the day that I sacrificed a once-in-a-lifetime hyped up beach hangout with my hip hop club members to see my ex one more time, in hopes that maybe we can get back together. We didn’t.

All in all, if I can recollect my thoughts correctly, I think it took me a total of six months to get over this one-year relationship. Everybody heals and recovers at a different time, so with every individual, the breakup recovery time will vary.

But even when I thought I wouldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I eventually did. Eventually, I learned how to live my life without him. I learned how to experience happiness without a significant other. Then, the day came when I learned how to love again.



Heartbreak #2 (Friendship)


So what I recently learned about myself is the fact that I only endure genuine heartbreak when the other party turns a total 360 out of nowhere and starts to disrespect me. When somebody you love aims to tear you down on purpose, it hurts a shitload. It hurts way more than a stranger on the internet calling you “ugly”. It hurts way more than accidentally being shocked by that damn metal handlebar near the walkways while your sneakers are brushing up against the casino carpet of The Venetian at Las Vegas. Emotional pain can sometimes be more traumatic than physical pain, as the mind often plays tricks on you and can come up with an innumerable amount of excuses as to why he ghosted you after that amazing date or why she started talking shit about you behind your back to your closest friends at your own birthday party.

In all honesty, I’ve had my share of toxic friendships that I easily moved on from or didn’t get as hurt by, but I will say that one particular friendship broke my heart into many fractured pieces. Because of this one specific friend, I learned two very important lessons. When you think you know somebody, even for years, it’s very possible for that friend to change in the blink of an eye if something doesn’t go his/her way. Second of all, I learned that the more you give from your heart, the more pain you can receive as well.

Although I never labeled her as my best friend, she was pretty much a best friend, or at least one of my closest friends. We saw each other anywhere from 1 - 5 times per week, laughing over silly jokes, bonding over our love for animals, and chatting about work-related stuff. The reason we got along so well was because we shared pretty similar interests, but more specifically, we shared really similar morals/visions in both the work field and life in general.

I don’t want to go too deep into details out of respect, but all I can really say is that after we had a falling out, she completely changed the way she treated me. After three years of friendship, I didn’t realize that somebody could flip a switch and turn a total 360.

She cussed at me. She said hurtful things that aimed to make me feel like a piece of shit - in fact, she wasn’t even afraid to hold back how many hurtful things she said to me. She couldn’t look me in the eyes anymore.

Although I didn’t cry upfront and knew that dropping this person from my life would greatly improve my lifestyle, my heart felt completely empty. I felt like I had lost someone important in my life, despite the way I was verbally abused and emotionally tortured.

Honestly, I was so torn from this experience that I couldn’t even focus on work without thinking of her and the hurtful things she said to me. Whenever I tried to blog or create content, I ended up replaying the heartbreaking texts that she sent on repeat. Eventually, I told myself that enough was enough - I was suffering mentally and needed to give myself a clean break from it all. Because the damage was so bad, all I could really do was watch an Asian drama rom-com on Netflix to temporarily distract me from the heartache. Also, I always check in with one of my best friends whenever I run into a problem, and she knows just how much pain I endured from this broken friendship. As a supportive friend should, I believe she told me to just bounce back into work as soon as I was mentally ready again. I’m truly grateful to have her in my life.

Oh, but do you want to know what the funniest (yet not really funny) part about this “friendship breakup” was? I actually broke up with my boyfriend (at the time) during that SAME week, so I technically lost TWO people in my life that week. Heh, ain’t life grand (sarcasm intended). And yet, losing one of my closest friends drove me up the wall way more than losing my boyfriend (we weren’t really that compatible anyways and ended things on more mature terms) so this emotional reaction really told me just how much she meant to me.

I wish it didn’t have to end like this, but it did - and this experience taught me a lot of things. From this broken friendship, I learned that if you offer somebody your full heart to somebody with the wrong hands, he/she will do whatever they can to abuse that power. To make you feel like shit. To make you feel regretful. To make you feel hurt.

In all honesty, it sickens me when people will abuse their power when it comes to love. If I knew that somebody genuinely cared for me, even if it didn’t end on good terms, I wouldn’t go out of my way to hurt somebody. Instead, I would try to end things as civilly as possible, but this doesn’t always happen - and that’s life for ya.

All in all, it’s like I always say - you can be nice to everybody, but only trust few. Spread love, happiness, and positivity whenever you can, but keep your heart guarded until you’re absolutely sure you can let somebody in. This is something that I know I will continue to struggle with because I know that I love and trust too easily. However, I hope with time, I’ll learn to apply this learning lesson to my everyday life.


Heartbreak #3 (Romance)


Now, this is the story of a recent heartbreak that serves as the reason for my nightmares every single night for the last two weeks in a row. I figured I’d share this story with you guys in hopes that by pouring out my thoughts, I would be able to get this feeling out of my system (and most importantly, out of my goddamn dreams)! Let’s start.

My third heartbreak was from a man who ended up cutting things off with me (or you can say essentially ghosting me) spontaneously when I thought that everything was progressing forward. From going on multiple dates to meeting my closest friends to triple dates to chatting about weekend getaways, I thought I finally found a partner who had all the same interests as I did and who saw life from the same positive perspective that I saw it from.

I think the reason that I fell for him was because he was pretty much a male version of me (LOL, I know this sounds weird, but hear me out). First off, he is an entrepreneur like me. In his free time, he loves learning about anything - photography, videography, music editing, graphic design, etc. Hell, I thought that his photography was better than mine, and I’m the professional photographer here! Just the level of discipline and expertise that he had in almost every field that I loved in astounded me, and this high level of ambition reeled my interest even further.

Honestly, we didn’t date for very long, but the reason that I felt so hurt when he ended things was because he was one of the most compatible guys that I’ve dated in a long while. In the end, I think he scared himself, thinking things were getting too serious too quickly, and peaced out. Never have I once pressured him into a relationship, but he made up his mind and simply gave up without wanting to hear my opinion or thoughts. And again, this is also the type of person I shouldn’t waste my energy on - somebody who doesn’t even consider or value my feelings.

Again, like the first heartbreak, as much as I wanted to question his thoughts, I needed the help of my close friends to convince me that I was better off moving on. My closest friends have always warned me, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” but to be honest, I AM the type of person who cannot date multiple men at once and prefer to give my all in one relationship. Because of my trusting and vulnerable personality, I often end up shattered whenever I meet a potential partner who ends up changing their mind for whatever reason.

Sure, I can easily satisfy my friends by saying that I will date a bunch of people at once, but that’s just not the kind of person I am and I’ve learned to accept that. I learned that with dating, you have to be honest with yourself and that nobody can give you their two cents on what’s best for you.

But, a takeaway that I did learn with my friends is to never assume or set certain expectations while dating. Get to know each other first and go with the flow, but don’t picture a certain type of life with this person until things get more serious and you’re both on the same page. This is also something I need to work on, and hope that I can with time as well.


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So, where do I go from here?

Well, to be honest, my heart still aches to this very day. Each day does feel progressively better and better, and I don’t think of him much as I go through my work day. However, my subconscious says otherwise, as he keeps appearing in my nightmares and I wish it would stop. However, the heart wants what it wants, and I guess my heart is not fully over him yet.

However, to end this blog post on a more positive and inspirational note, my solution to getting over a heartbreak is to pour out your feelings (whether it’s to a friend, written on paper, or typed out in a blog post) and to distract yourself as much as possible. Hit the gym more often. Schedule a coffee date with somebody you haven’t seen in a while. Do more self-love and self-care activities. Keep moving, keep doing, and never look back. As soon as you get into the “I wonder why” or “what if” questionnaires, that’s dangerous territory that you want to escape as soon as possible. Instead, just accept that the breakup was just another learning chapter in your life, embrace how you are currently feeling (it’s okay to feel torn and hurt - it’s a part of life), and move on to focus on YOURSELF.

Luckily, I personally feel like I have been able to get over this guy faster than I imagined is because of the fact that I am making sure that I am using all of my work and free time as productively as possible so that there is no time to THINK about him. And to be honest, I am also addicted to productivity, hah.

At this very moment in time, I personally want to spend more time on myself these days. This means, creating more aesthetic and quality content that will help and inspire you guys. This means, focusing on my photography business and getting better at my craft - psst, be sure to follow @michellesunphotography on Instagram if you haven’t already! This means, learning more about various skincare ingredients and what products best work for my skin. This means, incorporating stretching back into my everyday routine. That means, whipping up new healthy recipes in the kitchen and sharing them with you all!

But most importantly, this means allowing myself to go with the flow of life and to not force myself to follow society’s standards of when it is the “prime time “ to move out, settle down, and/or get married.

Life is truly beautiful when you move at your own pace, so why rush? Why live your life by rules created by the norm when society has a completely different pathway and lifestyle that isn’t your own?

After all, I truly believe that if you are a good person with good intentions, life will throw you something beautiful once in a while when you least expect it. With that being said, I hope that I can find that beauty and inner peace once again as soon as my heart mends. To those who have experienced or are currently experiencing heartbreak, you’re not alone in this journey and just know that you always have the support system of your friends and family to steer you in the right direction. You can definitely count on loved ones during a time like this - that’s what loved ones are for, after all. To help you through the good and bad times in life.

And to those those who made it this far, thank you for reading this personal chapter of my life - it truly means the world when I can share my honest thoughts with the world. I love you guys so much, and hope that you can find inner peace with any previous of your heartbreaks because life is much more enjoyable when you let go of grudges and welcome acceptance with open arms.


Outfit Details:

Hat: NET Taiwan

Dress: wearNYLA

Booties: ALDO


Photography By:

Huyen Tran (@huyentxo) from www.huyentxo.com


Current Skincare Favorites - March 2019 Edition

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Hello everybody! So It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written about skincare - and honestly, I kinda miss it. These days, you can find most of my skincare reviews on my Instastories, as I often talk about the latest products that I’m trying all the while never forgetting to include my usual favorites. Since it’s been a while since my last skincare themed blog post, I thought I’d share my recent skincare go-tos with you all in today’s March 2019 edition of Current Skincare Favorites!


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SPF


You recognize the saying “Mom always says don’t leave the house without a sweater?”. Well, Michelle always says don’t leave the house without sunscreen! Honestly, you and your skin will thank you years later down the road when you begin to notice the first signs of crow's feet and wrinkles (I’m in my mid-20s and already spy forehead wrinkles, eek!). If I could go back in time, I would have totally started an in-depth skincare routine as early as my teenage years. However, let’s not focus on what we didn’t do in the past, but instead, what we can do in the present.

My number one go-to SPF product of all-time at the very moment is Dermalogica’s Prism Protect SPF 30. Honestly, I ended up trying this product due to an influencer campaign that I agreed to, but I also have to say that I am HOOKED on this product. Not only does it feel like a hydrating moisturizer, but it also contains SPF 30 so that your skin is protected by the harmful UV rays that the sun exudes. Additionally, it is not too sticky or chalky, but very hydrating for my skin! These days, I bring the Prism Protect with me to work if I don’t have enough time to apply it at home before I leave the house in the morning (gotta beat that morning rush hour traffic, ya feel me?). At work, I apply this SPF product liberally all over my face and neck right before I do my makeup. If I go sans-makeup for the day, then I consider this sunscreen as the last step of my morning skincare routine instead.

Buy the Dermalogica’s Prism Protect SPF 30 here.


Toners


For some reason, March has been the month of trying out more Asian skincare brands in specific, but I have no complaints about that whatsoever! Also, I asked you guys recently on an Instagram poll if you prefer Asian skincare or American skincare, and a whopping 85% of you voted for Asian skincare! I never realized that the love for Asian skincare among my followers was extremely high, but I’m also happy to learn that you guys had a chance to try Asian skincare products!

I’ve always been a long-time fan of Sulwhasoo, a high-performance Korean skincare brand that honestly made me fall in love with the actual concept of having a multi-step skincare routine. Something about this Korean brand just literally makes my face feel like a million bucks whenever I use their skincare, LOL - honestly, it has to do with the lightweight texture and post dewy glow I see when I look at the mirror after applying a few Sulwhasoo products to my face.

Two Sulwhasoo products that I’ve tried recently include the Snowise Brightening Water (aka a toner) and the First Care Activating Serum. For the Snowise Brightening Water, you can shake the bottle and pour a few drops into a soft cotton pad before gently applying it all over your face.

Before switching over to Sulwhasoo, my previous go-to toners included TULA’s Pro-Glycolic 10% PH Resurfacing Gel Toner, Bliss’ Rose Gold Rescue Toner Mist, and BABOR’s Rose Toning Essence. TULA carried the first gel toner that I ever tried, and I loved how this product was more thick and gel-like (since I’m not always a fan of too watery substances). In other words, TULA’s toner made me feel like their product actually made a difference in my skin, whereas some toners just feel like plain water. Bliss is honestly a new brand that I’ve recently picked up, but I love the floral scent that my nose picked up when I spritz a couple sprays on my face. As for BABOR, this is a German skincare brand that I’ve also been a long-time fan for and have no complaints about any of their high quality products, especially their Rose Toning Essence.

Buy the Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Water here.

Buy the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum here.

Buy the TULA Pro-Glycolic 10% PH Resurfacing Gel Toner here.

Buy the Bliss Rose Gold Rescue Toner Mist here.

Buy the BABOR Rose Toning Essence here.


Serums


Once my toner has been completely absorbed into my skin, that’s when I apply serum - my favorite step of any skincare routine! Serums are designed to deliver powerful ingredients into one’s skin and I can literally feel the difference in the texture of my skin every time I reach the serum skincare step.

One current serum that I’ve been obsessing over is Innisfree’s Intesive Hydrating Serum With Green Tea Seed. For the last few months, I’ve been using nothing but this serum and I’m almost out of my first bottle (and proud of it!). The green tea carries an intriguing scent, and I just love the way my skin feels super hydrated and dewy upon application.

If I’m doing my morning skincare routine specifically, I either opt for Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum or Dermalogica’s BioLumin-C Serum. Everybody raves about Drunk Elephant products so I knew I had to try their serum out. Meanwhile, I am infatuated with Dermalogica’s BioLumin-C Serum so much that I stocked up on 2-3 extra boxes as soon as mine runs out! Talk about being a crazy skincare lady alright.

All in all, you can thank serums for that glowy complexion that all skincare bloggers show in their Instastories.

Buy the Innisfree Intesive Hydrating Serum With Green Tea Seed here.

Buy the Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum here.

Buy the Dermalogica’s BioLumin-C Serum here.


Moisturizers


I’m so excited that I can finally share with you guys the ONE favorite moisturizer I’ve been using for the last several months - introducing Algenist’s GENIUS Sleeping Collagen! Not only did they spoil us with a sample of this product at their Christmas Blogger Brunch event, but they also gifted us a personalized GENIUS Sleeping Collagen at their 2019 event on the rooftop of The Jeffrey Hotel. And by personalized, nothing gets better than seeing the top of your moisturizer lid say “Sweet dreams, Michelle!”. Adorable, just plain adorable.

You have to try it for yourself, but I love how this moisturizer leaves my face feeling extremely moisturized and soft to the touch. The texture is thick and packed with essential ingredients to nourish your skin, the most important one being collagen. At their rooftop event earlier this year, I asked my esthetician too many damn questions (that she was more than delighted to answer, LOL) in regards to the purpose of collagen and why our skin needs it so badly. Long story short, she mentioned how the older we get, the less our body is able to produce collagen. Thus, we need to play our part and introduce collagen back into our skin in the form of a collagen-packed moisturizer. Collagen serves as the key to youthful, radiant skin and helps eliminate fine lines, wrinkles, and all other sorts of side effects that come with the natural process of aging.

Don’t question collagen, just get it.

Also, one more product that I wanted to give a shoutout to was VENN Skincare’s Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate. I was recently testing out this product one weekend, and LOVE the innovative idea of packing all of the ingredients of a toner, serum, and cream into one product. Talk about convenience at its finest! VENN Skincare is a luxury based Korean beauty brand, and their concentrate is designed to improve your skin’s complexion in a minimal amount of steps. Totally fell in love at first application (is that even a sensible phrase? LOL).

Last but not least, I wanted to conclude this skincare review section by mentioning a brand and product that I was referred to by one of my blogger besties, Huyen from @huyentxo. Huyen visited California not too long ago so that she can create aesthetic content (with and without me) all the while trying bomb SoCal food. Of course, when bloggers travel out-of-town, they have to carry their skincare favorites! While downloading all of the raw photos she took of me in her hotel room, I had the chance to raid her skincare stash and ended up trying her PhytoQuench Hydrating Day Lotion by ApotheCARE Essentials. This face lotion smelled absolutely AMAZING and I wish I owned a bottle myself! Not gonna lie, it’s awesome to have friends that love skincare just as much as you do so you can talk about what you love (and don’t like) about various skincare brands and products. All in all, it all comes down to both skin type and personal preference, but I write these blog posts so that I can share MY favorites with you all!

Buy the Algenist’s GENIUS Sleeping Collagen here.

Buy the VENN Skincare Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate here.

Buy the ApotheCARE Essentials PhytoQuench Hydrating Day Lotion here.


Eye Creams


I’ll be honest when I say that I haven’t been over-the-top sold by any eye creams that I’ve tried out recently. However, the eye creams that I am using at the moment include BABOR’s Eye Cream (the version I use is discontinued, noooo!), Dermalogica’s Total Eye Care With SPF 15, and Innisfree’s Intensive Hydrating Eye Cream With Green Tea Seed. All of them are amazing in their own way, but in all honesty, I am still looking for that one eye cream that I’ll never stop raving about. If you have any recommendations, send your girl a DM stat! ;)

Buy the Dermalogica Total Eye Care With SPF 15 here.

Buy the Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Eye Cream With Green Tea Seed here.


Masks


I just have to be upfront with y’all and say that I’m a pretty lazy masker. If I don’t feel like I have a free 20 minutes in my day (which to be honest, I usually don’t LOL), I will not mask for what feels like an eternity. However, ever since I received a facial from the OSEA Skincare Studio in Venice, I was introduced to a bomb mask that I’ll never forget called the Red Algae Mask. Not only was this specific mask used during my facial, but it was recommended by my esthetician since it is designed to target and reduce blemishes all the while minimizing pore appearance. Because I have cystic acne on my chin, it was highly recommended that I use this mask once a week.

When it comes to OSEA Malibu’s skincare collection, I can guarantee that you will absolutely love their products due to their vegan ingredients and cruelty-free measures.

Buy the OSEA Red Algae Mask here.


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Do you prefer reading skincare product reviews or watching them on Instastories/YouTube? What are your current skincare favorites?

Talk to me in the comments below - let’s chat!


Photography By:

Huyen Tran (@huyentxo) of www.huyentxo.com


Outfit Details:

Necklace: Kendra Scott

Dress: Showpo (A lovely gift from Huyen! ;) )

Booties: ALDO Shoes


The Five Minute Journal Review: How It's Positively Changed The Lives Of My Loved Ones & Myself

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At the end of the day, your quality of life revolves around your mindset - how you think, how you act, and how you react.

On one end of the spectrum, you could be the richest person in the world and still be unhappy, despite owning all of the most desirable designer luxury goods in the world. In contrast, you could be just making ends meet and remain fairly happy with where you are in life when it comes to housing, family, and more.

An asshole could cut you off on the road, you flip them off out of anger, and you allow it to ruin your entire day. Or, you can take this situation with a grain of salt, acknowledge that they are a dickhead when they drive, and move on with your life.

Although it may be inevitable to control certain circumstances that happen in your life, there’s one thing that you do have total control over - your mindset.

Even when shit hits the fan, when things aren’t going your way, when you feel like the world is against you….

At the end of the day, with the right mindset and attitude, you can overcome ANYTHING.


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No, this isn’t some flowery bullshit to help temporarily boost your ego - this introduction right here, in all honesty, is the truth and nothing but the truth.

When I was going through depression a few years back, it took me a huge amount of strength and courage to actively change my mindset - to lift myself mentally from the dark pits of despair and to climb up to the top to see the light again. From my personal experience, depression feels like I’ve hit rock bottom to the extreme point where I actually feel like my life would NEVER get better. However, as soon as I ditched the negatives and actually focused on the positives of my life, everything around me that was once muted and dark began to feel colorful and vibrant once again.

The same has to do with gratitude.

As soon as you take the time to count your blessings, you will realize just how lucky you are. You will learn how to easily drown out all of the noise, drama, and petty shit in life that you don’t have time to deal with. Ultimately, expressing gratitude will teach you how to focus on the bigger picture.

Today’s blog post is a bit different from the normality of my typical blog posts - and it’s all thanks to one gratitude journal I want to introduce to you all called The Five Minute Journal. Because of this journal, I’ve learned to actively express gratitude for everything and everybody in my life and to never take for granted what I have right in front of me.


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Who here thinks about gratitude? We all do to a certain extent.

However, who actually takes the time these days to actually focus and write down our blessings for the day? Not that many of us, to be completely honest.

I get it, I get it - we have so much to do in our busy lives. Why take the time to write down what we’re grateful for when we have it all right in front of us, or why bother writing it down when we can say it out loud? Well, research shows that actively writing down and addressing your blessings consistently will lead to an increased level of happiness.

By being the happiest version of yourself, your mindset will gradually shift towards a more positive light and insignificant or petty things will eventually bother you less and less. That’s why these days when I encounter an unkind or inconsiderate asshole on social media or in real life, I brush him/her off quickly because I know that my positivity and valuable time is not worth stressing out or feeling drained about my interaction with a negative source.

With the Gratitude Journal, you only think about the happy things in life. You focus on the positives in addition to what you can improve in your life on the daily. None of that negativity, none of that drama, and none of that bullshit.

By addressing your blessings every single day, you will begin to transform into the best version of yourself, as you will actively become aware of who/what you are grateful for and why you are grateful for that person/thing in your life. After opening Page One of this journal, that mentality of “you against the world” will slowly shift into “you and how you perceive the world”.

Isn’t it crazy how one journal can make such a huge difference in perspective?


Honestly, there must be some magic sorcery or powers behind this gratitude journal because as soon as I finished reading the introduction and completed my first fill-in-the-blanks of Day One, I already felt a HUGE boost of energy and positivity throughout my day. I felt invincible. There was just something about writing in this journal that transformed my outlook on life, and it’s difficult to explain in words. My mood was instantly uplifted, and I felt that like an unstoppable Sim character with fully charged green bars in every life meter category possible. (Yes, sorry gamer girl nerd reference)

Because of just HOW instant this transformation felt, I knew that this was a journal worth sharing with all of my loved ones. Thus, I’ve collaborated with The Five Minute Journal to GIFT each close friend of mine (or at least the ones I KNEW would continue using this journal) their very own gratitude journal in hopes that they can experience the same uplifted energy that I felt from this one book.

After surprising a few of my friends with The Five Minute Journal in front of their doorstep, I had to check in with them weeks later to ask them how they enjoyed their very first gratitude journal! Down below, you’ll find an honest testimonials from a few of my friends. I told all of my friends to be completely honest with their review, and this is what they wanted to share with the world.


I think this journal is perfect for everyone including those who don’t really like to journal (like myself). There’s a lot of gratitude journals out there, but I’ve always had trouble sticking to a journal since it can be time consuming. This one is so simple and quick to fill out! Also, I love the quotes at the top and the beautiful cover. A short 5 minutes every day can bring you positivity and balance. I keep it by my bed so now it’s part of my morning and night routine.”

- Lenora C.


Wendy H. from @hsiaoproductions

Wendy H. from @hsiaoproductions


5 minute journal is awesome! I love that it helps me unwind at night, reflect on the good of the day, appreciate my accomplishments, and in the morning, helps me to set the intention to have gratitude, positivity, and an overall wonderful day.

- Wendy H., Videographer from Hsiao Productions (@hsiaoproductions)


Linh D. from @xcapewithlinh

Linh D. from @xcapewithlinh


The five minute journal has really helped me feel grateful for my everyday life routine. My day job is so demanding that I tend to forget all the good things that happens throughout my day. I used to focus so much energy and time on the bad stuff so with this journal, it has really forced me to think deeper and find the good things in all this mess you call life!

- Linh D., Blogger & Content Creator from @xcapewithlinh


Marisa H. from @mariseeezy

Marisa H. from @mariseeezy


The five minute journal is a great way for me to start my day. I noticed that when I write in it consistently, I think more positively and little things that normally would have bothered me, don’t anymore. I have a better outlook throughout the day and it’s a great reminder for me to reflect on things and people I’m most grateful for everyday.

- Marisa H., Blogger & Content Creator from @mariseeezy


Alright, well where do I even start? Let me give a little backstory on my exposure to The Five Minute Journal I had seen this on Mimi Ikonn from @mimiikonn on Instagram. I was always interested in checking it out, but never did, so I forgot about it. Fast Forward to sometime in 2018, I was watching Michelle’s Instastories when BAM! She was talking about The Five Minute Journal and her thoughts about it. I messaged Michelle privately asking more about it. On January of this year, I received a package in the mail from her and it was The Five Minute Journal, by far a very thoughtful gift. So what did I do when I received it you might ask. Well I started it! I have been doing The Five Minute Journal for a month and a few days. It has changed my perspective on things, in a sense that I wake up and instantly begin thinking of things I am grateful for, rather than thinking ‘oh here we go another morning.’ Without getting to into this, my family and I are going through a tough road and this small Journal has made all of difference. It has made me look at the silver lining in all negative situations, it is slowly transforming me into a more positive person. Like I said I have only been doing this journal for about a month and a few days, it has already impacted my life in such a wonderful form and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me because of this journal. Thank you Michelle for sending me this wonderful gift, you have introduced me to such a wonderful change.

- Eva O., Blogger & Content Creator from @simplyevahxo


Maya R from @missmayaya

Maya R from @missmayaya


Beginning my day with the five minute journal has truly changed my life! I had always heard about the power of gratitude and affirmations, and implementing them into my daily routine has allowed me to stay positive no matter what.

- Maya R., Content Creator from @missmayaya


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If there is one thing that I am eternally grateful for, it is the simple discovery that one of my life passions is to inspire others through my platforms to pursue their goals and chase their dreams. To write inspirational posts like these that resonate with my community. To leave a lasting impression in hearts of others. To make a positive difference in the lives of anybody reading this.

Last but not least, I wanted to give a special thanks to The Five Minute Journal for collaborating with me on this Happiness Project of mine and to my friends who have shared their honest thoughts about this gratitude journal with me. Not only am I grateful to have discovered The Five Minute Journal, but I am also blessed to have amazing friends as avid supporters of my blog who helped contribute their thoughts to make this a communal blog post that I hope will leave a positive message with you all.