Beauty Treasure from S. Korea

On my recent trip to Seoul I explored the “mystery” of Korean beauty: flawless skin, porcelain complexion and an impeccable, radiant appearance, who wouldn’t want to know how they do it?

Since the invention of the BB cream that took east and west by the storm, it seems S. Korea is investing a lot in the beauty industry and sets the trends in skincare. Today there exist numerous Korean brands that have gained the attention and trust of an international clientele as well as many sought-after Korean beauty products that seem to deliver their promises.

After hovering around many shops and stalls I decided to concentrate on two brands this time and try some of their well known products. Tony Moly is a very popular and affordable brand (check your local Sephora as they might be carrying their products) whereas Sulwhasoo is an upscale company, more on the expensive side.

As for the latest beauty trends, these involve the use of ginseng, snail ferment secretion, gold and recently there has been a shift on products containing hyaluronic acid. Koreans are obsessed with face masks usually made of a face-shaped cotton sheet infused with different emulsions for different needs. So far I have tried Tony Moly’s Goat Milk Extract mask and although it scared the hell out of my daughter seeing me wearing it, I enjoyed its benefits. Yet I’m waiting for the right moment (and with my daughter asleep) to try on the Snail Mask and the Red Ginseng mask that claim to provide Skin Repair and Shine respectively. The Mask Sheets are a very affordable option as they are sold per piece so you can try the product before you buy the whole line.

One thing I really liked about Tony Moly is their sense of humor and cuteness on some of their packaging for products (probably) addressed to younger ages. So next time people roll their eyes seeing you taking a banana out of your expensive purse, you can face them straightforward: “it’s my hand cream, you silly!” Oh, and it smells like a real banana! Same for the apple hand-cream or the peachy lip balm, what you see is what you smell and what you get. As for the Bamboo Fresh Water Soothing Mist, in a bottle actually resembling a bamboo stick,  I think I’m gonna stick to it. Up until now I was using my own mix of orange blossom water and Body Shop’s E Vitamin mist to either freshen up my face during the hot days of summer or on top of make-up to make it stay for longer. But I found this bamboo water equally -if not more- satisfying.

With my buys the ladies at Tony Moly gave me many samples to try as well as the Nutra Energy Toner with organ oil, in regular size (80 ml) which cleanses perfectly my skin and prepares it for the next steps in my skincare routine. As I always check the ingredients of the products I intend to buy, I was happy to see that none of them contain parabens (unless they are renamed in some way but I don’t think so).

And now the real treasure out of my lot: Gold 24 Snail Sleeping Pack. Pure gold, fermented and snail ferment secretion as well as panax ginseng callus extract are combined in one powerful formula with multiple benefits: wrinkle improvement, whitening, pore tightening, skin texture improvement, moisture and nourishment supply. I only have one word: AMAZING. The formula is a gold-yellowish gel (a little sticky in the beginning of application but it is absorbed quickly) that works as a mask, only you don’t have to wash it off. Instead you sleep with it and you just wash your face the next morning and look at your mirror: Your skin looks fresh, plumped and radiant! It’s the only product I have used so far with actual results from the first application! Just try it and you won’t regret it.

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I literally struck gold with this one! 

Another Korean beauty “must have” is the cushion. The cushion is make-up, powder, bb cream, cc cream, sun protector, all of them and none of the above, it’s a separate category itself. It is actually a tinted emulsion which sits under a sponge. When pressed with the provided puff, the sponge delivers the product which can then be applied on the face by patting gently with the puff. The result is flawless, smooth, porcelain-like complexion in only one go.

Looking for the best cushion I read very good reviews on the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion. I didn’t need much more to be convinced to try it as since the first day I arrived in Seoul I was told again and again about this cosmetic company’s high quality products. The Perfecting Cushion comes in different shades and has SPF50. It might seem expensive (60,000 S. Korean Won, aprox. 50 USD) but it’s not considering the fact that it comes with an extra cushion which can replace the first one once it has dried out. In any case, for the miracle it offers on my skin it’s worth every penny!

The saleslady at the Sulwhasoo was also very generous to give me a full miniature set of their famous Ginseng beauty line and I can’t wait to try them!

It’s your turn now.. What is your opinion on the Korean beauty products? Have you tried any and if yes which ones would you recommend?

The Wine Box in Athens

IMG_1107 (1)Some friendships are like good old wine. You keep your precious bottle hidden in some cellar, away from light, gathering dust but never forgotten. You know its production year, what is made of, where it’s coming from yet you anticipate for the time that you will finally blow the dust off the bottle and open it to pleasantly surprise you with its taste.
Being away from home for all these years, it wasn’t easy to maintain contact with all of my friends. The only means I had to get a glimpse into their lives was social media. From time to time I would see pictures of their holidays, weddings, celebrations, new starts, I would read their profile updates, political views, jokes and my reaction would be a “like” on their posts or a comment at best. But a “like” or a “comment” is a poor substitute to verbal and eye to eye communication and recently I found myself determined and committed to meet at least one of my old friends in every visit to Athens.
I had been promising Alexander that I would visit his wine store The Wine Box since the day I found out about it. And I finally did it! It all started with a call from my side changing my voice and asking him for the biggest and most expensive champagne bottle but I couldn’t hold myself for too long and burst into laughters… Eventually, over a glass of fine wine we made up for all this time each was “lost” in the adventure called life.
The Wine Box is an exceptional cellar for wine enthusiasts where they can find everything from rare selections from around the world to wine glasses and bottle openers or assortments for gift baskets like fine chocolates or extra virgin olive oil.
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Suggestion for a basket with cookies and “Lithino”cretan olive oil
I mostly like red wine so here are Alexander’s suggestions:
La Bernardine – Chateauneuf du Pape – M. Chapoutier 
OIKONOMOY – Sitia – Domaine Economou – Ziros Crete 
So when you are in Athens drop by The Wine Box at Xenokratous 25, Kolonaki or order your gifts or favorite wine online at www.wine-box.gr. Also make sure to follow their Facebook page as quite often they organize wine tasting evenings where varieties from all around the world are introduced by wine experts.
Until I open my “next bottle”… Cheers!

 

A treat A day with Moleskine

Yeah!
My new year’s diaries, just arrived in the mail and I simply can’t wait writing on them.

 

This year it was the Little Prince, for 2016 I chose Peanuts… Isn’t it cute?
But to be honest I’m quite intrigued to get my hands on the Starbucks collection which is available in South Korea! Flying to Seoul next week, hopefully before it’s out of stock…

 

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Photo Credit: moleskine.com
If you are a Moleskine fan like me you can order your supplies online here. Be sure to check everyday until Christmas for they hold special treats on their holiday calendar…
Now, if you would like to see what Moleskine diaries look like and how cool they are, check my video review below.
xxx

 

Tripping to Paradise

Paradise does exist. It’s a tiny little dot laying in the middle of the pacific ocean. Mortals call it Maui, Hawaii. I’m back in town but I left my heart there.
What to do… Life is a beach.
Maui’s beauty is irresistible and our stay at Alejandro’s studios in Haiku- Pauwela was beyond enjoyable. You definitely have to visit the island at least once in your life and if you finally do, check with Alejandro for your accommodation. His profile on Airbnb is found here.
Aloha! 

No kidding, it’s me not Kidman

Unaware of Etihad’s release of their new commercial and shortly after it, my husband took this picture of me on board Etihad’s flight to Abu Dhabi. And then… no kidman… ehm…I mean no kidding…
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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing myself to Nicole Kidman, I’m simply comparing the two photos leaving the comments on you.
I have to admit though, traveling first class with Etihad had been a pleasure.

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Kathmandu… Why?

Photo memories from my trip to Kathmandu back in 2009… Today I feel as sad as I felt when I first visited the emerald valley that has lost its shine under the heavy smog.
 But most of all I wonder what happened to all these kids I met on the streets of the busy and dirty city. I just wish and hope God kept them safe.
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Take me to the other side

I have been traveling a lot (yet again) this season but one of my favorite destinations where we go every winter for snowboard fun is Serfaus in Tyrol, Austria. It’s a beautiful village up in the mountains with an exceptional scenery and very friendly people, we have actually made some good friends there. This year we visited twice and during our second visit -without kids!- we had the time to walk around the village undisturbed and enjoy all the little details we’ve been missing when we are too busy with getting on our snowboards.. Hmm.. by just looking at these photos I simply smell the chilled fresh mountain air. Feel with me.
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Just take me to the other side.
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Padlocks with names marked to signify a bond, attached to the bridge’s handrail.
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Padlocks left and right, I am feeling the bridge vibrating with love!
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I checked the water. It’s damn freezing!

 

 

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What an old house. But take a closer look:
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Bright white embroidered curtains. I wish I could look from the inside out.
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Innsbruck and another bridge on our way back home. Just turn back the time and take me back to the other side from where I started this post.

Oman : a photo gallery

I’m back from our short trip to Oman and although I have a hectic schedule these days I still feel like sharing some photos with you as I believe a picture is worth a million words. Some of these photos you may also find on my Instagram account: idolimages
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The Beach at the Shangri-La resort
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View from Shangri-La’s Al Husn Hotel
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Al Husn Hotel private beach – exclusive to Al Husn guests
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Al Husn Hotel private swimming pool

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We had a great stay at Shangri-La Al Husn Hotel. Then we were taken fishing. We caught nothing more than footage in our cameras (editing project number 24 on my to-do list? bear with me please!) but we loved exploring the beaches.

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Our host saved the best for last: The revelation: The road trip to Jebel Akhdar (The Green Mountain), high up to 2,400 mtrs. And we were left speechless!
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A rose-water “factory” in the village of Sayk.
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The village of Sayk
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Swimming pool view of the Sahab hotel.
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Enjoying the view and some fresh air!
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Alila Hotel
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Alila Hotel
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Indoor pool at Alila Hotel
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Alila Hotel
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View from the special council for the people of the village of Al Roos
 That’s all for now and we are certainly going back to explore more of Oman’s beauty.
Oh! And I shouldn’t forget: a special thanks to my “panoramic view” photographer and of course to our host! (They know who they are!) xxxx
All photos were shot with iPhone 5S.

Red Bull Art of Motion a Greek Win!

“Be better than yesterday, worse than tomorrow”
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Photo: Redbull.gr

 

With this motto there’s no doubt 19 year old Greek free runner Dimitris Kyrsanidis will give us more exciting moments in the future. His performance at Red Bull Art of Motion in Santorini was very impressive and flawless thus secured him the first place in the competition. His tricks wowed the crowd. This boy wasn’t free running – he was simply flying.
Watch here for the best moments of the event. At 00:38 and 01:01 Dimitris Kyrsanidis jumps his magic.Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.54.39 PM
Dimitris Kyrsanidis - Action
Photo: Redbull.gr
Do you know what I loved about Dimitris, besides his immaculate technique and adorable baby face? He seems to have instilled years of Greek values and traditions in a fresh and powerful twist. He’s the new, unconventionally traditional guy, every grandma would love to have as grandson. Before he even started he wasn’t afraid to make the sign of the cross showing respect and trust in his beliefs. He competed exercising the athletic ideal of his ancestors: sport is not just a physical act; It is a complete way of life and it involves mind, spirit, culture, religion, education. It transforms not only your body but your whole being. It’s something more than the art of motion: It’s the art of living. You could clearly see these ideas manifesting in every move of this young man, from congratulating and discussing with his co-athletes to jumping and landing with such a steady force and grace, it was out of this world.
Dimitris welcomed victory in pure modesty. Like an Olympic athlete and at such a young age, he honored his family without even saying a word. They should be really proud of him as his participation in this competition reflected his wonderful upbringing. Congrats DK. Congrats to your family too. We will be following you.
It’s worth watching the full length video below with the Art of Motion semifinals and finals but you may as well just “jump” to 42:30 and 1:35:03 respectively, to admire Dimitris’ performance.

Homesick…

Yes, it gets me from time to time… And after discovering these two videos by Daniel Rhodes on youtube… what did you expect?

So here is the city I was born and grew up in… FEELING or better LIVING:

…facing the Parthenon every day from our small balcony… having our school trips next to Pnyx, driving to Lycabettus for romancing, feeding the pigeons in Syntagma square, looking for treasures in Monastiraki on weekends or waiting at the dock in Piraeus to board the ferry to some distant island…

And here is the island where I spend my summer holidays… Voted the best destination in the world…

Thank you Daniel, whoever you are… you reminded me that how hard I try I could never erase these pictures from my mind… And my heart will always belong to Greece, my multiple-wounded, hatred-plagued, politically-distorted, all the while citizen-deserted country… 

I wonder when…