Turning 30 And Reflecting Back On The Decade Behind Me

October 6, 2015

So I turned 30.

Turning 30


And I wanted to write a little bit about it because being alive for three decades ain’t just no little piece of pie.

I wondered what kind of post I should write to commemorate the big 3-0. At first I toyed with the idea of writing a 30s themed beauty post like “30 Beauty Tips.” But the idea bored me.

Instead, I’d rather just write about what I’m really thinking.

People have asked me “How does it feel to be 30?” And my answer is, “Not much.” I don’t feel that different.

It’s only when you look back that the change happens.

And looking back at my 20s, I remember a decade full of offbeat and colorful memories.

Turning 30


These were riotous years.


My ryde or diee

I admit, I was a terrible student. I made bad grades. I hated writing papers. And sometimes, I preferred to stay in and read a book instead of going to class.

But despite what conclusion you may draw from looking at my grade point average, I did actually learn a lot. Most importantly, I learned how to learn stuff on my own. And that in itself made my college education totally worth it.

College was also formative in that I began to solidify my sense of self. I began to understand my own self-worth. And I learned how to let go when things and people weren’t right for me.

I also found out that I like to throw fun wacky parties! One party was themed a “Martyr Party” where people came dressed as their favorite martyr. Naturally, the resulting costumes were on the bloody and gory side. But what else would you expect from a martyr party?

College was the time when I met and made most of whom I now consider my life-long friends.


After college, I joined the Peace Corps.


For those of you who don’t know, Peace Corps is a U.S. government volunteer agency that sends people around the world to work in development projects and live in foreign countries as cultural ambassadors.


For two years, I lived and worked as a small enterprise development agent in Cameroon, a country bordering Nigeria and Chad in Central Africa.

What that means is that I worked to strengthen the local economy in the community that I lived in. And the experience from that was the kind of education that you’ll never get in a classroom setting.

I did Peace Corps as a challenge to myself. I wanted to take on the world on my own.

Ironically, that was how I met my life partner.


Another reason why I did Peace Corps was so that I wouldn’t take things in my life for granted. I was born and grew up in a very poor country. But after living in a country with the highest GDP in the world, it’s easy to forget how good you’ve got it. Until you find yourself back in an environment where things don’t come so easy.

Everyday I had to draw water from a well and put that water through a filter. That was a luxury! Many people in the village where I lived had to walk for miles to get water and carry back heavy buckets on their heads, then drink dirty water that often would make them sick.

My luxury came in the form of taking bucket showers while standing in a bucket, then using that water in the bucket to flush my toilet! Water is precious, my friends.



But it wasn’t all rough living and feeling sorry for myself.

Life in my little Cameroonian village called Bangou was also amazing.

I made many wonderful friends. And I continue to keep in touch with them. In fact, one of my dear Cameroonian friends is coming to visit me this week! It’s so surreal I can hardly believe it.


I also remember vividly the season of heavy rains that would pour down and cause people to run for cover and ground everything to a standstill. There wasn’t anything you could do except to wait it out.

The sound of rain on my tin roof was lulling and and often gave way to the most magical mist hanging over the tree tops and the mountains. If the electricity was out, I would have to cook and read by candle light.

Life was slow, simple and vibrant.

I loved it.


Then there was that time I live in Paris for a year and a half.


The decision to move to Paris was an escapist’s decision. I ran away so I could have time and space to heal a broken heart.

Mais c’était la belle époque de ma vie.

Ah, Paree! A lot of people dream of “someday living in Paris.” But I actually did it. I lived in Paris.

And Paris was where my most magical dreams came to life! Some of you readers may have been there with me. Because that was the time when I created Ziba.

And if you were there with me from the beginning, you may remember that the blog was an offshoot of the shop. But then I grew to love blogging more than I could have ever imagined. And inevitably, the blog took on a life of its own and separated from the shop.


Paris taught me how to enjoy living very well.

I learned how to relax and be at ease in my own skin. I learned how to savor things. Especially, how to savor buttery croissants and carefully prepared dishes!

I remember my favorite haunts. Strolling across Pont Neuf on hot summer evenings. Walking around in the Marais and exploring narrow cobbled streets. Les Tuileries was my playground, where I would jog around in the mornings.


My morning jogs often included a stop at my regular boulangerie, where the lady knew me and would have a pain au chocolate, a baguette and a wink ready at the counter for me without my even having to ask for it.

The best part about Paris was how a bunch of my favorite people all just happened to be living there at the same time!


We were a fun crew!

Picnicking by the Seine river, clambering on dangerously steep rooftops, dancing in cavernous bars and getting into snowball fights with strangers on the streets.

My heart flutters to think back on these memories!

But Paris wasn’t all glitter and magic either.

We lived in an outrageously tiny apartment. Granted, we could see the towers of the Notre Dame from our balcony. But living in such a cramped space was really tough.

Apart from the tiny apartment, everyday dealings were often difficult. France and all its paper pushing bureaucratic nonsense can be, how shall I say… un peu compliqué.


Still, when we left Paris, it wasn’t for any specific reason.

We left because… it was time.

It was time for me to find some place to call home.

San Francisco

So here we are now in San Francisco. And two years have already passed.


And in that time, life has gotten sunnier and I’m the calmest and happiest I’ve ever been.

I also got married to a lovely boy on a lovely day at the beach.

Montara Weddding

Perhaps, if life permits me several more decades, I’ll look back on this period in my life and think of it as my golden years.

Wedding Dance

And am I really settled down yet?

My restless spirit still urges me to find new grounds.

Yet if there’s one thing that all my traveling has taught me, it’s this… home is the people you love.

But while home it’s not about one specific place, if I don’t allow myself to stay in one place long enough, I’ll never give myself enough time to build and grow.

However, when I say stay…

I don’t necessarily mean here.


Because San Francisco…

Well, I haven’t made up my mind about you yet.

There’s a lot about you that I didn’t’ realize I was signing up for.

But that is another story…

My Makeup Collection – Asian Brands

September 28, 2015

Skincare is serious. And makeup is fun!

What I mean by that is that I can’t do without skincare. I can’t not protect, cleanse and moisturize my skin.

Tony Moly Lovely Eyebrow Pencil, Tony Moly long Kinny Mascara, Face Shop Face It Lipstick, Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base, Babyface Powder in Cream Blusher

But I can leave my house without even the slightest bit of makeup. And I’m fine. I don’t have a complex around how my face looks without makeup.

Babyface Powder in Cream Blusher, Face Shop Face It Lipstick

So when I wear makeup, it’s really just for the heck of it. For the sake of novelty, color and the art of illusion.

Now that I’ve found a skincare regimen I am happy to stick with, I’m focusing a bit more on makeup.

And as I promised in my previous post, I’m going to show you some makeup items I’ve recently acquired from Asian brands.

First up is this…

Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base by Tony Moly

Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base by Tony Moly

Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base by Tony Moly

No, I didn’t buy this just because it came in this ridiculously cute packaging. I got it because it actually does a good job of brightening the area under my eyes.

It is neither a concealer nor a color corrector. It is a brightener, plain and simple. It rolls up in a cream stick form. It glides easily on the skin and blends in matte. The brightening effect lasts for a few hours.

Purchase price: $14

Lovely Eyebrow Pencil by Tony Moly

Lovely Eyebrow Pencil by Tony Moly - Gray Brown

Lovely Eyebrow Pencil by Tony Moly - Gray Brown

Lovely Eyebrow Pencil by Tony Moly - Gray Brown

A double-ended eyebrow pencil. I got the gray brown color. It can be applied in light feathery strokes and can easily be built up to darker strokes. It blends in easily with the use of the spoolie brush. But in contrast to my black eyebrows, this almost looks reddish brown on me (but only if you’re looking very closely).

Basically, it’s an easy to use eyebrow pencil and does the job well.  Next time I’ll try the plain gray color for an even more natural look.

Purchase Price: $5

Long Kinny Mascara by Tony Molly

Long Kinny Mascara by Tony Molly

Long Kinny Mascara by Tony Molly

I think they meant to say Long Skinny Mascara (lol, Engrish). It’s pretty obvious what drew me to this mascara. The brush is so teeny weeny. I’ve never seen a mascara brush this tiny before. I’ve been using L’Oréal’s Telescopic Mascara, shown next to the Perfect Eyes for effect, and I thought it was one of the skinniest brush wands out there.

I recently read an article about mascaras which points out that the formula from one mascara product to another do not greatly differ. What makes the difference is in the brush and the wiper.

This mascara is really good at lengthening my lashes while keeping individual lash hairs separate. Which is great if you are going for a more natural effect.

Purchase Price: $16

The Face Shop Face It Lesson 03 Lipstick

The Face Shop Face It Lesson 03 Lipstick

This is a bright orange glossy lipstick. And it’s currently my favorite! I got it as a birthday gift because Oliver saw me swatching it and loving it at the Face Shop. And he remembered which exact color it was that I liked!

It’s not a true orange though. It’s more on the reddish side. But nevertheless, I love how vibrant the color is. And it’s moisturizing and long lasting. What more could you wish for in a lipstick?

Purchase Price: $22

Babyface Powder In Cream Blusher

Babyface Powder In Cream Blusher

So if you haven’t noticed, I’ve really been into orangey makeup lately. This is a cream blush by Babyface in color #3, a light orange / apricot color.

I like how this blush is super easy to apply and blend in. The color goes on sheer and can be built up. The only minus point is its heavy baby powder scent.

Purchase Price: $11

Before & After

Here are the before and after photos of me wearing all the products shown above.



A Tour Of The Beauty Shops In Japantown

September 21, 2015

Previously I had stated that I am “not all that crazy” about asian beauty brands. And I’m still not all that crazy about them.

But! I am giving them more of a go. Especially now that I’ve been dabbling more with makeup.

With skincare, I don’t like my products to be loaded with so many random synthetic chemicals.

And to me this often seems to be the case with asian brands.

Asian Skincare Masks

But with makeup, I’m not too picky yet about how natural or synthetic my makeup can be. Mainly because I don’t use that much makeup.

Perhaps this line of reasoning is unfounded and based on nothing other than my own personal preference.

But anyway, I’m already happy with my existing skincare regimen and don’t feel the need to seek out new skincare.

Asian Makeup

Makeup on the other hand… I am on the lookout for new (and why not also cutesy) makeup!

So last weekend I met up with a group of girls who are into asian cosmetics. It was my first time to go on an outing like this and honestly it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

We had a lot of fun visiting different beauty stores at the West Mall in Japantown!

Beauty Group

The first shop we visited was The Face Shop. They carry their own line of skincare, makeup, polish and beauty tools.

They have quite a diverse array of masks here. One of my friends purchased several masks including a goat milk mask (which later gave her a reaction. yikes). And I don’t care much for their moisturizers and creams as they are too heavily scented for me.

But on the positive, for my birthday Oliver got me an orangey lipstick from here. And it’s currently my favorite!

The second shop we visited was Tony Moly. I found more makeup items here that appealed to me. But unfortunately, the ones that caught my eye were out of stock!

I also noticed that the blushes from Tony Moly are crazy glittery. Like crazy “if you want to feel like a thirteen year old princess” glittery. As for me, I purchased a mascara with a curiously skinny wand.

The third shop we checked out was Candy Doll Beauty. They sell several Japanese & Korean brands, though the only ones I recognized were Etude House and Shiseido.

The products that caused quite a stir were these crazy colored contact lenses and this baby foot peeling treatment that makes the skin on the soles of your feet peel off and you supposedly end up with “baby soft” feet.

I’m waiting to hear about the results from the girl who purchased the baby foot treatment! As for me, I played it safe and purchased a cream blush.

Afterwards we grabbed food, ate and chatted.

Of course, being beauty crazy, I insisted that we had a show and tell of all the different products we’d purchased.

mascara show and tell

Beauty Group

I joked that I felt like I was at an Avon or Mary Kay party. Haha. But a much more girly and fun version 😉

Next time, I’ll show you the blush and mascara I purchased! As well as some other items I’ve recently acquired.

A très bientôt!