to shop / {sale alert} j.crew sale on sale

The J.Crew sale has some pieces at amazing prices with the additional 60% off to the point where my not that fashion conscious friend is also partaking in the sale. Note, not everything is final sale. The easiest way to tell is by looking at your cart.

I don’t think J.Crew is totally back. There are some gems, but it takes work to find them. It helps a ton that they have reviews on their site and I still peruse J.Crew Aficionada from time to time. For men, I recommend checking out the Frugal Male Fashion subreddit.

If you haven’t signed up for their new rewards program, you should as it gives you free standard shipping (snail speed) and less reason to sit on your cart.

What I like: 

Ordered but haven’t gotten it yet:

I have been watching Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up and read her book many years ago. J.Crew certainly sparks joy for me. It’s tough shopping online and not seeing something in the store, but I’m totally ok with returning what I don’t like or reselling/using Amex Reeturn Protection for final sale items, or reselling/donating something one the joy is gone.

  • Happy Shopping!

2018 thoughts on self-care

I know it’s already 2019, I am catching up!

I compiled a list of my favorites… not just skincare!

Listen to your skin. It’s hard for me to tell the effect of one product, since I switch around and may add multiple new ones at one time. But, I will say that anyone that goes from using nothing to something will see a difference in your skin. Hydrating toners (not the stripping kind that you apply with a cotton pad), cleansers at a right ph, double cleansing, some exfoliating, or essences make a discernible difference. There are always affordable options for every product type.

Favorite Cleanser: Tatcha Cleansing Oil and Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser. I have tried other cleansing oils during the year (and will continue to) but my favorite is still the Tatcha. I’ve been using the Cerave as a first or second cleanser for a long time. These cleansers clean well and don’t strip the skin.

Favorite Watery Essence: The Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence was on my waitlist for a while.This was a rare product that was sold out on the Lotte Duty Free app so I had to buy in person, but it worked out because I got a ton of gifts. It’s made of fermented green tea (yummy antioxidants!!).

Favorite Vitamin C: My face feels naked in daylight without a Vitamin C product and SPF. I have been using the Drunk Elephant C Firma Serum for 2+ years. I took a break from using this and switched to using the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster. I can’t say I noticed any extraordinary results from the booster, but I also haven’t found the perfect serum to mix it with. Much later, I noticed that water actually works great as a base so I may find a watery essence to combine this with in the future. In the meantime, I’m back to using the C Firma Serum. This is one product that is very time sensitive and will oxidize over time. Once I start using a bottle, I feel the clock ticking.

Favorite Gentle Exfoliator: I don’t exfoliate daily. The Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is a gritty cleanser of apricot seed powder, pomegranate enzyme, willow park, and French pink clay; can be layered with the Resurfacing Mask. Another option is the Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Exfoliator which consists of papaya enzyme powder. It is great for travel (not liquid) and a little goes a long way – I’m still using a deluxe sample, but did pick up the value set at Sephora after it went on double sale. Lastly, I got a fan favorite chemical exfoliant- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. It can be used daily, but I’m wary of overexfoliating. I use this at night as a toner once in a while. The results are immediate but don’t last long.

Favorite Exfoliating Mask: I love the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (BHA from white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes) but also quite like the new Peach and Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask (10% AHA, 0.5% BHA, and Blue Agave). I like using one of these or the Amorepacific above before I use a sheet mask.

Favorite Sheet Mask for Glow: Papa Recipe, the original. I also bought the rose honey and black honey to try.

Favorite SPF: Shiseido – Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 50+ PA++++ (2018 Edition).  This is Japan’s top sunscreen and was reformulated this year. It is pricey but I find it so worth it. It leaves a matte finish and doesn’t dull the glow of my skincare products. Mild = free of alcohol and fragrance. I use SPF that I don’t love as much on the weekends or days I work from home. This includes the Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 with a hefty amount of Zinc Oxide.

Favorite Lip Product: The Sephora Lip Scrubber Brush comes with two sides of scrubbers to help make your lips super smooth. Has to be used with other lip products like French Girl Organics Rose Lip Scrub. Also love the Drunk Elephant Lippe lip balm.

Favorite Moisturizers, Serums, and Oils: I don’t have a favorite here, the verdict is out. Notable mentions: The Stratia Liquid Gold is an affordable, unscented lightweight moisturizer/serum. I love most COSRX items. The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a skin multivitamin to build skin resiliency, repair it. It has a thicker, gel like texture (I use as a serum) and I’m too in a rush to wait for it to soak in in the morning, so I prefer to use this at night, especially after acids. The Sulwhasoo emulsions are a great light moisturizer that works even in the summer time.

Favorite Brand: No surprise that it’s Sulwhasoo! I wouldn’t have gotten so many products had I not gone to Seoul and discovered how much cheaper it is through the Lotte Duty Free app and the various promos. I am currently using daily (or almost daily): First Care Activating Serum in limited edition Plum Blossom*, Bloomstay Vitalizing Water*, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Emulsion, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum*. Periodic use: Overnight Vitalizing Mask, Radiance Energy MaskSnowise Brightening Exfoliating Mask*. I also got sheet masks and other products on deck. The packaging is very luxurious and durable (some glass bottles have slipped from wet hands and survived), but not travel friendly unless you like to check-in bags. The minis that come as a gift with purchase are great for travel.
(* – not sold in US retail)

Favorite Scent: The Sulwhasoo plum blossom scent, which can be found in the Bloomstay* line and any of the limited edition plum blossom items, is heavenly. I don’t wear any perfume.

Favorite Eyelash Curler: Surratt Beauty. The thing with eyelash curlers is that there is no curler that will last forever. The metal may bend out of shape over time. I have tried Shu Uemura and Shiseido. The latter fit my eye better of the two, but the Surratt is even better.

Favorite Eyebrow Pencil: Shu Uemura Hard Formula in Seal Brown. I do bring my pencils on international travels for sharpening once a year. I got microblading done many years ago and regretted it. I prefer the natural look of the pencil.

Favorite Tweezers: Rubis slanted tip tweezers, ever since Tweezerman stopped making theirs in Switzerland. I have been through at least 7 pairs over the years (the slant does not survive falls) and still go back to them when I need a replacement. I prefer the one that reminds me of Swiss cheese, but am currently using a gold pair.

Favorite Hand Cream: L’Occitane’s original shea butter hand cream is still the best. I prefer the non-scented version. They recently introduced an intensive version which I am testing. Also love Deborah Lippmann’s cuticle cream.

Favorite Hair Products: Uka is a Japanese salon brand. It’s not easily found in the US, I discovered them through Peach & Lily. I like the ‘Wake Up’ products for volume and the refreshing scent. There is a ‘Wake Up Up Up’ line for even more volume but it is much harder to find here. I found it at the Tokyo Ginza Duty Free store. I also like the Shu Uemura Muroto Volume line, which had an amazing BOGO sale of their holiday sets. The conditioner does go way faster than I’d like though. I also like the Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion for air drying, but will use it to semi heat dry at times. But, most importantly, a good haircut goes a long way. I go to Dlala in the East Village.

Favorite Towel: I like lightweight towels that dry fast, but don’t feel like a quick dry towel, is lint-free, and is large enough as a bath towel. I really like the Aquis waffle body towel. The waffle texture helps it feel less thin, the normal towel got a bit ratty after a while. I want to try the Onsen or Parachute towels next.

Favorite Massagers: I’m a huge fan of massages. There is an affordable, no frills place near me, but I don’t go as often as I’d like and it’s still an indulgence. My aunt introduced me to Trumedic electronic shiatsu massage devices (previously mentioned). I have the InstaShiatsu+ Neck, Shoulder & Full Body Massager with Heat (IS-3000PRO) and the InstaShiatsu Foot Massager with Air Compression & Heat (IS-4000). I recommend both if you like more intense massages.

I know self-care is so much more than skincare and massages. There is more to add to here for 2019.

to shop / tatcha lucky bag

Tatcha‘s fukubukuro (“lucky bag”) promotion is back through January 17, 2019 with code LUCK19. These bags are a part of the Japanese New Year traditions. I wouldn’t buy something just to get the grab bag, but it’s a nice treat if you’re already planning a purchase. This is one of Tatcha’s better promotions.

In 2018, I got 4 travel size products in my lucky bag – the Luminous Deep Hydration Firming eye serum, Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder, Silk Cream, and a Luminous Dewy Skin sheet mask. None of this interested me so I passed these products on.

In 2017, I got two products – a full size Deep Hydration Firming Serum and a travel size Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder. I saw that some people got travel size items instead of a full size item.

I haven’t used much Tatcha over the last year aside from the One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (review). They have reformulated many products and launched a few over the last year. The new Violet-C Brightening Serum looks interesting, but I’m waiting for more reviews before I consider it. The lip products are fun, but let’s face it — I rarely wear lipstick.

2018 thoughts on bags

Updated: Bao Bao Issey Miyake added

Every year I intend to write ‘year in review’ posts. Somehow time escapes me, so let’s see if this works this year. I plan to write on different topics. First up: bags.

I go through periods of times of buying no bags and then bam! I get a few. I bought a few recently, mostly black bags.

($$$$ to $)

  • The spendiest purchases were driven by Hedi’s takeover of Céline. I couldn’t get myself to Europe soon enough, so I managed with duty free shops in Seoul. Prices are comfortably below US prices and the # of stores are somewhat plentiful. I went to 4 duty free boutiques – 3 in Seoul and 1 in the Incheon airport! For the most part, what I purchased is what I have wanted to purchase for years but the opportunity and urgency never arose. I have no regrets with my purchases, although I have yet to use all of them. I have invested in Samorga inserts for most of them.

I am hesitant to buy Céline secondhand online. It’s hard to assess the structure of a non-super structured bag on the internet. Or for example, the Trio was quietly redesigned in recent years where the straps that connect to the purse were reinforced. This isn’t apparent in most online listings. I wouldn’t want to buy an older Trio. I haven’t sold any of my Célines, but the resale of some of them look roughly the same as duty free. It’s a no lose situation, in my opinion. Some of the classic Phoebe Philo designs are still around but now don the new Celine logo (no accent over the é) and new colors.

Image: Celine

  • (Updated: Can’t believe I forgot to include Bao Bao!) My friend Pam got me into Bao Bao Issey Miyake bags. At some point, they were super hard to buy in Asia. Almost everyone and their mom has one, it seems. They are popular with the older crowd. The brand is Japanese, but I found these bags much better stocked in the US and sometimes on sale/discount! I have four of the totes in different sizes (Prism or Lucent) and got the last one when I was in Tokyo. I highly recommend these for its lightweight, low maintenance, easy to pack (flattens), and uncommon style (at least outside of Asia). I think I’m done for now!

Prism Tote in a Japan-exclusive color

  • The APC Meryl in quilted black leather is a nice APC alternative to my favorite half moon bag. Slightly smaller, softer yet not delicate. Compact enough to throw into a tote. The strap is also thick and comfy. I really like wearing a crossbody to work when I don’t have too much to carry!

Image: APC

  • I purchased the Mansur Gavriel tumble small tote in black during the first online sample sale. It took me almost half a year to unbox it. I love the size, the slouch, the light weight, and the price. I find the “large” MG tote to be way too big. Tumble leather is very nice and different than the more popular vegetable tanned, calf leather, or saffiano. I wouldn’t have given tumble a second glance if I hadn’t seen it in person. It gives a different vibe for the same style in another bag. The only thing that is slightly off-putting is the smell of the leather. Most of it has aired out but there is still a whiff (and this happened to my new Céline bags too). I sometimes use this bag for work and throw the Meryl in when I don’t have time to switch bags. It’s perfect for papers, but I wouldn’t weigh it down with a laptop.

Image: Mansur Gavriel

  • Clare V perf/perforated leather. I really like most of the items in this leather, especially the SLGs. The patina on this simple tote is incredible, but I rarely use something that big nowadays. I need a key wallet and really want one of the Clare V perforated wallets in a lighter brown (cuoio), but they seem to sell out so fast. I got the Bruno sans strap. It’s a nice, casual summer/fall bag. Slightly bigger than a crossbody. It’s CV’s 10 year anniversary, by the way.

Image: Clare V

  • J.Crew has these super affordable camo print everyday totes and you can monogram them! (Thanks to the stranger sporting a bag at EWR arrivals.) I’m typically not one to personalize things, but I couldn’t resist ordering these with an orange monogram over Cyber Week — the 50% off promotion applied to the bags and monograms. Great for gifting. Do note their processing time, I’m still waiting for my order. (Similar is the LLBean Hunter tote, however no monogram. Previously mentioned here. Mine is going strong and so practical.)

Image: J.Crew

  • The Momofuku Milk Bar book pre-order came with this tote for free. I love their cake and the tote is perfection. The tote has since sold out but it’s available in this set. (Sidenote: the book is surprisingly OOS on Amazon. I don’t plan to bake cake, I got it for the eye candy.)

Image: Twitter

I sold some bags this year – bags that no longer spark joy (like the MG saffiano bucket bag and the Ecco Derna lady bag) and plain ol’ shopping regrets (such as the another MG sample sale purchase and the Clare V Le Big Sac!). Resale value is something I think about when I buy a more expensive bag. There are some more bags to clean out once I have time!

to shop / 2018 cyber week deals

It’s that time of year again! I will be updating this over the long weekend. In general, I’m buying items that are on my list — many of the retailers only have a discount once a year. If you miss out on a deal, keep on mind Green Monday is on December 9 (last Monday before Christmas for ground shipping).

Updated on Monday morning.

Note on Cashback and Return Shipping

  • Ebates has great cashback rates at the moment for many stores. You can get an extra $10 cashback with my Ebates referral if you don’t have an account. It is a legit cashback site, I have been using it for almost 2 decades! You just have to remember to checkout from their link. I use other cashback sites as well but overall, Ebates has the best rates right now.
    • Rates: Saks, Neiman Marcus (14%); Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, Ulta, Gap, Lululemon, Macys (10%); L’Occitane (15%); Sephora (8%); J.Crew (6%)
  • Chase Freedom 5% on department stores: If you have a Chase Freedom credit card, it makes the department store cashback ‘deals’ even sweeter with the extra 5% cashback.
  • Discover and Amazon Pay: If you have a Discover card, the 5% cashback on Amazon also works on Amazon Pay (i.e. similar to PayPal, Amazon Pay is a payment method). This stacks with any cashback for the retailer you are purchasing from.
  • PayPal refunds return shipping: if you pay with PayPal, you are eligible for a refund return shipping, if you had to pay for it. Super easy process and up to $30 per refund, 12 times a year so I usually save this for those sites that don’t offer a label. I also like to pay with PayPal on those smaller sites so my payment information is centralized. Previously mentioned here.


  • Anthropologie / Black Friday (Thursday – Sunday): 30% off everything. Thursday early morning through Sunday. Last year, Monday’s sale was 20% sitewide.
  • MoMa Store  / Black Friday (Th – Sat): $20-40 off. Great for gifts (for yourself haha) through Saturday. Unless you’re hitting the $200 mark to get $40 off, I recommend waiting — last year Sunday/Monday had 20% off and free shipping.  Cyber Monday (Sun – Mon): 20% off and free shipping on Sunday and Monday.
  • Nordstrom / Black Friday (Th – Sat): Perhaps my favorite department store. There is an excellent Fresh and Christophe Robin (love the rose volumizing shampoo paste) gifts with purchase. Use code DEALMOON for beauty purchases over $65 for an extra bag of samples. Cyber Monday (Sun – Mon): Spend $250 and get a $50 gift card for use in Jan/Feb. 
  • ShopSpring  / 12% cashback and free Shoprunner membership (2 day shipping). You can shop other sites through this site.
    • Pros: they currently offer 12% cashback that goes back to your credit card. You can get cashback on sites that normally don’t have cashback like Clare V. Shipping and returns are free.
    • Cons: This site has changed itself over the last year. No extra sale codes or gifts with purchase. They also used to charge sales tax on items that shouldn’t be taxed — I think this has been fixed. Inventory is also not the same as the retailers and I have gotten orders cancelled due to lack of inventory.
  • Amazon / Good for the entire long weekend:
    • $5 off $20 for books using code NOVBOOK18 through Sunday. Sold by only.
    • When you use an Amex membership reward point, 20% off up to $100 off. Works on gift cards. Sold by only. Details.
    • When you use a Chase UR reward point, $15 off $60. Sold by only. Details.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue  / Black Friday: Spend $150 and get a $75 gift card through Friday, code THANKFUL. Cyber Monday: Get $50 off for every $200, lots of exclusions.
  • Target / Black Friday only: Spend now to save 20% on a single use between Nov 27 and Dec 8.
    • In-store, Friday only. Spend $0.01 or more using the Target app.
    • Online, Friday only. Spend $50 online.
  • Hulu / 99 cents a month for a year. For new accounts or old customers who haven’t subscribed in a year. Also on Ebates – open the site through Ebates and click on the main site and you should see the promo.


  • Brooklinen / 10-20% off tiered discount. I’m a big fan of their luxe sateen sheets. I recently upgraded from Queen to King, so I picked up a few new items and also grabbed some items from their discontinued patterns (RIP Bedford Stripe). They rarely have discounts! Cyber Monday sale is same as BF. 
  • Poketo / 20% off sitewide through Monday.
  • Food52 / 20% off sitewide through Sunday.
  • Parachute Home / 20% sitewide through Monday. I’ve only tried the linen sheets and I recommend them!
  • GIR / 35% off + free ship $35+ with code NSBFriday. Through Saturday. I love their silicone lid covers and various kitchen tools in an array of colors and non-colors. Also available at Amazon (some items are super overpriced though), Food52, and Target. Cyber Monday: B1G160% off with code GIRMonday.
  • Trumedic massagers / 30% off and free shipping on massagers with code MASSAGE30. Expiration unknown.
    • I’ve had the IS-3000 PRO (Amazon link for reviews) for over a month. I tried this at my aunt’s and promptly ordered one for myself. I like stronger massages and while this doesn’t replace a professional massage, this gives a deeper massage and is a treat. I’m slightly annoyed at paying $50 more on Amazon at the time, however, I like it enough to say that the price difference was worth having it for a month earlier.
    • The InstaShiatsu+ Foot Massager with Heat made Oprah’s Favorite Things list this year. I’d ordered one through a Good Morning America deal and am still waiting for mine since it was backordered.


  • Uniqlo / A lot of staples are on sale, including the HeatTech x Alexander Wang collection.  Also free shipping on all orders. End date not stated but expected to go through Monday.
  • Abercrombie / 50% off site wide with some exclusions and free shipping. End date not stated. I never wore Abercrombie before but have had my eyes on the winter trench coat because I love the plaid trim and this sherpa open front cardigan which looks like a warm blanket.
  • A.P.C. bags on sale at Matches Fashion, Ssense, Shopbop, 24 Sevres, Nordstrom
  • J.Crew / 40% off at first, now 50% off and the site is still crashing.
  • Madewell / 25% off.
  • H&M / 30% off and free shipping. I’ve gotten some items from here, after not shopping here for years. They also have some quality items from their home department.
  • Margaux / 20% off $225. Margaux has attractive block heels and ballet flats. I’m intrigued but haven’t tried them before. You can buy pre-made or made to measure.
  • Clare V / 20% off select items. Launched promptly at midnight on Friday morning. Through Sunday.
  • Baggu / 20% site-wide, 25% for $50+, 30% off $100+.
  • COS / 20% off select items. The selection is a bit disappointing and a lot of items are already out of most sizes. I do recommend the Tailored A-Line Dress, but any shorties (like me) will need to get the length altered.


  • Birchbox / 10-25% off site-wide. End date not stated, guessing through Friday night. Birchbox has tons of brands – Tata Harper, Sunday Riley, Shu Uemura hair, Oribe (this set), Dr Jart, Whalmyung… they have exclusive sets and don’t forget the gifts with purchase section. For Cyber Monday, Ace gets up to 45% off of the unexciting sale section, others get 30% off.
  • Neiman Marcus / $50 off $200 through Saturday. Last year, Monday was a gift card promotion. I prefer a cash discount. Sale is not limited to beauty. Ebates has 14% cashback (my referral) and if you have a Chase Freedom, get 5% cashback. Cyber Monday is gift card event.
  • Peach and Lily / 30% site-wide through Monday, exclusions apply including their Peach and Lily collection.
  • Sephora / 50% off Surratt Beauty. Otherwise, I’m shopped out from their November sales.
  • Stratia / 20% off on Cyber Monday. This is an indie skincare brand that I found through Reddit. Their Liquid Gold is a light moisturizer full of good stuff. I will be restocking on this!
  • QVC has Black Friday specials (kind of hard to navigate IMHO) and free shipping on Beauty (amongst other things) through Monday. Use code TEN4U for $10 off your first purchase.
  • True Botanicals / 20% off and a $10 credit for every $50 spent for use in December. Good through Monday. I didn’t expect to see them join the fray.
  • Beauty Heroes / 15% off through Monday with code LIKEAMEMBER. They carry clean beauty brands and more. I recommend the Level Up discovery sets, especially the True Botanicals one if you wanted to try their Vitamin C Booster.
  • Drunk Elephant / Midi sized Babyfacial and C Firma Serum, and free shipping. If you missed out of any of the holiday sets at Sephora, they have it here, even the Trunk.
  • L’Occitane / 20% off and free shipping.