It's that time of the year: big red 'holiday sales' signs displayed in every shop, Mariah Carey's prevalent "All I want for Christmas" tune on the radio and the annual wallet-purge on Christmas gifts. A tradition of society, this is the month to prepare for the biggest holiday celebrations - however...

...if you're like me (often unprepared, disorganized, a bit lazy and broke) and you have nothing fancy wrapped in Christmassy embellished paper topped with a duo-chrome ribbon then fear not, for I have a solution to this quite common dilemma. This doesn't need the skills of a wrapping god nor the money of a millionaire, so relax and read on.

(Not a real set, it is just an example)
This is pretty much similar to the Christmas post from last year, only it targets those who are artsy fartsy and people who are interested in beauty. Known as the "Goody Gift", it is a set of things from art supplies to beauty products snugged inside a little box or a bag.

For example, the image above displays a set with a glue stick, a bottle of pink glitter (may be used for crafting), an essential oil roll-on remedy, Benefit's POREfessional primer, Windsor & Newton ink in Scarlet and Freedom highlighter.


The next image consists of Pro Markers, Nature Republic Bamboo charcoal mask, a bottle of red glitter, a Windsor & Newton ink bottle in Indian Black and a home-crafted zine.

The great thing about this idea is that it's very customizable - if your friend, for instance, is a fashionista, you can take a shoe box and put in it a mini skirt with fashion glasses and some socks - and the person receiving the gift can get more than one surprise!

Rather than spending a majority of your budget on one expensive thing, you can make it more special by handpicking items based on their interests and passion without going over your shopping threshold. Place them in a bag or a box and finish it off with cute little string. No need to pain yourself with the clumsy wrapping and waste any paper. Easy, cheap, economic and much more meaningful to your friends and families!

Have a great Christmas and let's hope for a better new year!
Fall is almost over and winter is beginning to creep up on us, but living in a tropical state there's no chill to this warm weather. So, inspired by the constant heat of Florida along with my favourite season, I've put together a few outfits that I love.

Each look is a reincarnated fashion version of my alter-egos: casually cute, retro gal and rebel chic. Since this is a fall look book, I've kept the colours somewhat dark with hues of orange and reds like the fall leaves, but staying true to the style of a summer-ish environment.

CASUALLY CUTE






Mix-and-matches of blues and grey along with the touch of the pink scrunchie and baby heeled shoes plus a natural face, this look expresses the innocence and femininity of my character - while keeping it casual.

TOP: NEXT essentials
DRESS: WareHouse (UK)
SHOES: Ecco

RETRO GAL





This look was inspired by my favourite fashion icons like Lana Del Rey and Audrey Hepburn. The vintage skirt mixed with the modern sleeve-less tank top creates the look that takes us to both the past and present. 

TOP: SELECT stores (UK)
SKIRT: Beyond Retro (UK)
SHOES: Bershka 
NECKLACE: It was a gift from Hong Kong

REBEL CHIC





Inspired by the angst and attitude of being a teenager, this is a look that represents the strong and rebellious side of me. The combination of the patterned corset-like top, the knitted skirt along with the denim jacket, sunnies and black high-heeled boots with dark lip - this is my favourite look, and perhaps the look that portrays me the most. 

TOP: (It's actually a dress lol) Band of Gypsies
SKIRT: Atmosphere 
SHOES : Topshop
SUNNIES: I have no idea where it came from, sorry 🤔

I hope you enjoyed my mini look-book, and if you want to see more fashion shoots of some of my favourite looks or some outfits I like to put together inspired by my surroundings then let me know!!

Being inspired and motivated, I wanted to expand my writing experiences and, so, I learned to write a sestina poem! A sestina is a poem with six stanzas of six lines and a final triplet. At the end of each stanzas is the same six words, written in six different sequences that follow a fixed pattern. It was definitely a challenge to write a sestina, but I enjoyed it and loved the experience of learning something new!

I finally polished a new one about the notion of "time" which explores the ideal that contradicts the concept: immortality.



Beyond 

As the hand turns, the precious
chime of time murmurs 
with the wings of birds as they
fly around the cage only
opened by a key which would turn 
by someone with an unfathomable yearn,


And when they yearn
for something more precious
than the chime, the birds will likely turn
towards the right path where only
the valiant can hear the murmur
and cry of lonely musings by they,


the Gods, and their lonely lullabies for they,
like the trees, yearn
for something only
attained by those with the precious
gift of listening to the murmur
of silent birds as they cry; but when they turn


the key, they turn
the key to a future where they,
the birds, are free to dance and murmur 
silently around those with the yearn
for something more precious
than an imprisoning idea, which only


the courageous can conquer, where only
freedom is at their door for which they can turn
the key to and sacrifice their precious
memories of love, for they 
desire the thing they yearn
for, which is to hear birds flying and hear the bird's murmur,


and the sound of the bird's murmur
would be like the sound of freedom. We are only
humans with the longing yearn
for something beyond our ambitions but are too rigid to turn
to the path towards they,
the Gods, with the ideal that's unattainable and too precious.

For the silent cry and murmur
of the flying birds may only
be the fiction that we, humans, falsely yearn.


- n


I'm hoping its concept is understandable - let me know what you think!
With summer here, I bet you're probably lying down on your bed with your laptop on your stomach, the edge just touching your chin and you're probably watching Youtube or Netflix as well as reading this ;D

Well, if you're procrastinating or bored here's a little something creative I've done this summer that you could try too. I call it the Memory Mirror!


It's a very simple activity really, all you need is anything from your memory box or photo album and just stick it on your mirror! It's actually cute, because when I'm getting ready doing my makeup or cleaning my face I'll see all these memories from when I was in England.

All you need is: 
+ photographs/polaroid pictures
+ drawings or any art you've created
+ train tickets/tickets from movies or exhibitions, etc.
+ stamps
+ postcards
+ and don't forget some sticky tack

And then design your memory wall however you want! Easy. 

For mine, I decorated it in a way so I could see my face in the right lighting because the desk is beside my window. To make it so it looks more unique to me, I've added a little potted orchid (I believe) in the corner. Perhaps for yours, if you have a big mirror you could somehow create another picture within the collage, create a pattern or do a border of tickets and photos around your mirror! 

Whatever it is, ensure it's unique and special to you <3 div="" nbsp="">

I hope I've given you guys something to do this summer and added this to your bucket list! Have a great week and enjoy your holiday off whilst it lasts.

nicole ᵔᴥᵔ
The great thing about Target, Walmart and Publix is that their products are almost trustworthy and affordable and this month, I've bought a bunch of new products that have reached the top of my favourites list! Almost all of them are pretty much cheap so don't worry, they won't bombard your wallet if you're considering buying any of these.

Like my previous monthly favourites, I've organised the list into sections and I hope you enjoy! If you want a review on any of these products or perhaps you have a few suggestions on what I should buy for next month, leave them in the comments :)

Body


+ Bath & Body Works Tutti Dolci Sweet Lemon Buttercup shower gel
+ Bath & Body Works Wild Honey Suckle Ultra Shea body cream

Face


+ Neutrogena naturals Multi-Vitamin nourishing moisturiser (my new favourite!)
+ SIMPLE Cleansing Facial Wipes for sensitive skin

Music

See my new playlist on my Tumblr blog sestinae.tumblr.com with all my new favourite songs.

Hopefully, I'll do another monthly favourites so stay tuned if you want to see next month's favourites!

nicole ᵔᴥᵔ
In the past week, I've been busy being on an adventure and exploring more of the country I've moved to and now live in. It was an exciting and fun yet uncomfortable and long ride, but I thought the experience was worth it because I got to learn more about the American culture and visit a few states!


On the morning of 14th July, we woke up at around 3am and packed our bags and lots and lots of food in the trunk of our car. We gathered our pillows and blankets, dressed in our most comfortable clothing and plugged in my headphones ready for the 18 hour drive ahead of us to New Jersey.

I took a nap for several hours and woke up when we were in Jacksonville, only to see the beautiful yellow light of dusk filling the candy clouds in the sky. I looked through the front window and saw the empty road rolling underneath us, and with a touch of the rising sun's glow it was like we were driving towards paradise.


The journey was sometimes comfortable, but also uncomfortable; we were either too warm from the sun's heat or too cold from the air conditioning; I was tired yet having fun.  We passed through Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and then landing in New Jersey at the end, stopping in North Carolina to visit friends who have also immigrated.

I loved New Jersey. I loved visiting New York, which was only fifteen minutes away from where we were staying, and spending time with my paternal family. Being with my cousins and relatives who have been in the States longer was relieving because they made me feel that I was at home and that we're not alone. They taught me a lot about American history, about their education system and their experiences in living here, which was very helpful.



During our one week stay, we visited several interesting places which included Liberty Science Centre in Jersey City, Central Park and Fifth Avenue in New York and, of course, Jollibee! We also went swimming where I learned to dive and basked in the sun afloat the water whereby I finally tanned !














Those past 6 days have been a journey, and although I'm not a big fan of roadtrips it was definitely an experience to remember and get to used to.

If you have any suggestions on places to go in New York for when I come back, let me know in the comments!

nicole ᵔᴥᵔ

Now that it's summer, I have plenty of time to indulge myself in books, and books, and books! I've been reading a wide range of genres from good ole' classic literatures, dystopian novels, epic poems and manga. I really want to read as many different genres this summer, so if anyone has any recommendations I would love to hear them! Here are the books that I've been reading so far:

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


This particular novel has a very unusual plot; it's about a middle-aged man torn between being a pedophile and being in love because he has an infatuation for a 12 year old girl. Despite this bizarre story, I think it's a very interesting read with an expressive style of writing and that has become one of my favourite classics.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


I've just started reading this recently and I'm only midst through the first chapter but so far it's already captivating. It's set in a futuristic society whereby a guy named Guy Montag is a fireman who destroys printed books, seen as an illegal commodity, and then burns down the houses in which they were hidden. I opened this book because of the mass amount of reviews of how impactful and compelling it was, and so far it already has my attention.

The Odyssey by Homer


The Odyssey is one of two parts of an epic poem by Greek philosopher Homer and it's about hero, Odysseus, and his journey home after the ten-year Trojan War. It is a sequel to the other part, Iliad, set during the Trojan War which mainly focuses on the quarrel between King Agamemnon and Achilles. In reading the first chapter, I never knew that the entire book was a poem because it's written in a storytelling style which I thought was quite interesting. I've always had an interest in Greek mythology, so this one is a must-read for me this summer.

the gods lie. by Kaori Ozaki


As a visual person and someone obsessed with anime and Japanese culture, I had to get my hands on this. I don't normally read manga's or comic books, but the title the gods lie caught my attention and I wanted to read it. Like some of the other books I mentioned, I'm only midst through the first chapter, but to summarise the blurb it's about a sweet boy named Natsuru Nanao who forms an unlikely friendship with Rio Suzumura, whom he spends a lot of time with. With great visuals, I find it visually stimulating and aesthetically satisfying :D


Also, during my relaxation I've begun writing a new fictional story, sampaguita my flower, in which you can read on my Wattpad here and written under my pen name Lily. It tells the story of a young teenage girl called Jasmine who is a bloodthirsty sadistic killer with the desire for vengeance, killing those who have committed crimes. She lives in the slums of Manila, but her background is relatively unknown. However, as she takes more lives, her past slowly unfolds and in each bloodbath, she recalls nostalgic memories of the one person she knew.

Sampaguita is the Philippine national flower and the name is apparently derived from the Spanish sumpa kita which translates to "I promise you".

It's my first story ever, so I'd really like for you to read it and give some feedback! (Not suitable for youths or those with a distaste in violence as it contains graphic content).

Poetry Blog
Since I like writing poetry, I've decided to create another blog which will be more poetry and short story blog. It will kind of be my portfolio, presenting my work in an aesthetic way! The link is over here but it is quite empty at the moment as I'm still working on writing my poems; other than that, I hope you like the design and some of my content. :D

Thanks for reading!

nicole ᵔᴥᵔ
As said in my June Favourite's post, I mentioned my Windsor and Newton Drawing Inks. I love to use them to create hard shadows in my illustrations as well as to fill empty gaps in my drawings with vivid colours of these opaque mediums.

Despite being watery and similar to watercolour, I sometimes still struggle using them because of how pigmented they are. So after experimenting with them for a while and testing a few techniques, I've came up with ways to use these inks much more easier and effective so you can splash your canvases with inks the right way. 😉



Work with it like watercolour paints

I always thought working with inks would be much more different but it is, in fact, very similar to watercolours in terms of fluidity, texture and finish. So work with it like your watercolour painting, using watercolour techniques like wet-to-dry, dry-to-wet or wet-on-wet.



Dilute with water

Because they are so pigmented, a tiny spill of ink will stain your canvas and ruin your artwork and they can also stain the bristles of your brush. To solve this artist burden, all you have to do is dip your brush in water, similar to how you dilute the pigmentation in watercolour. Before spreading it on your paper, ensure you test it on another so it's in the right opaqueness!



Work in small amounts

Sometimes when I work with inks, I find that they are just ever so slightly thicker than watercolour. So to prevent any mistakes, I like to work in small amounts first, starting with drops of inks. Since they are a tiny bit thicker and little more absorbent than watercolours, that makes it a little bit harder to blend. So I suggest to work in small areas and gradually move along your canvas.



Work with light colours first

They are very vivid colours, so it's best if you started with lighter colours first. Working with lighter colours to begin with will reduce the risks of making a mistake. If you prefer to start off with dark colours, then go right ahead but it will be better if you stay safe rather than be sorry.



ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES

Inks. Do. Stain. A lot. So make sure that after every use you clean them properly! I forgot to clean one of mine and when I used it again, it presented hints of the black I used before and when it dried the bristles became stiff.



So these are just a few tips and tricks I learned whilst I played around with these inks! I wouldn't say they're my new favourite mediums because they are not easy to handle and they don't give me the results I want but they are a nice thing to have in your collection of art supplies! I think they are more preferred for typography or calligraphy using fountain pens because of how opaque they are, but I believe you can use them for when you're drawing manga or filling in something with a solid colour.

If you have any other tips on how to use inks, I would love to hear them and learn some more!

nicole ᵔᴥᵔ
Now that I'm living in the States and slowly settling in, I've been shopping new products and items that I've never tried and I'm so excited to share with you a few of my favourite things :D


Several of them are a few of my things that I brought from the UK, some in which I haven't used before. Buut, I'll break each products down into categories:

Skin Care products


From left to right: St Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub (an oil-free Salicylic Acne Medication); WITCH naturally clear Overnight Clearing Serum; Burt's Bees natural Acne Solutions (targeted Spot Treatment from Willow Bark); and the green apple is from South Korea so I can't read the title but it's from Tony Moly and it's a skin peel that scrubs off and smells like apples!

Makeup


Left to right: Burt's Bees facial cleansing towlettes with Cucumber and Sage extracts; Pixi by Petra Brow Powder palette; realTechniques Sculpting Brush; SKIN FOOD Peach Sake Pore Pact (this stuff smells like baby lotion!!!).

Hygiene


Carmex Lip Balm / External Analgesic (perhaps my ALL TIME FAVOURITE product as it has worked consistently and immensely in healing my dry lips); Dove Powder anti-perspirant deodorant (it honestly works like a miracle); PocketBac anti-bacterial hand gel.

Miscellaneous


Left to right: Neal's Yard Remedies essential roll in Relaxation; SinfulColors nail polish in the colour 2192 The Full Monte (one I'm currently wearing); Rimmel London 60 seconds Super Shine nail polish in 740 clear.

Art Supplies


Both Windsor & Newton drawing inks in 967 Scarlet and 973 Canary Yellow, with my mini illustration demonstrating the opaqueness of the inks. 

Thanks for reading my first monthly favourites! If you'd like to see more or you want me to review some of the products, then let me know :)

I also apologies for the recent late entries, I've been sorting out my school stuff because I've been accepted into a college!

Have a great day, the sun has finally emerged after days of tropical storms here in Florida 


nicole ᵔᴥᵔ

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