Dec 29, 2013

My Skincare Routine

I am a recovering product junkie.

While some girls obsess over shoes and purses, my guilty pleasure is Sephora. I can spend countless hours online reading reviews, comparing active ingredients, and watching Youtube videos of the latest and greatest beauty products. My husband thinks it's unhealthy, but I think it's smart consumerism!

The friends that know me know how much I care about my skin - I am terrified of wrinkles! I used to suck on cancer sticks from the age of 17 all the way through college, and I'll be completely honest. I only stopped because I noticed some fine lines one day and the thought of having smoker's lip wrinkles scared the nicotine out of me. TOTALLY vain and superficial, I know. But the important point is, I quit, right?

As I'm getting older, it's really beginning to show how much I eat like crap and don't excercise. My metabolism is pretty non-existent, and I am in denial of those cardio sessions that my extra stomach is begging me for. (That's my new years resolution post, I'm sure). The one thing I can commit to is my skincare routine. I'm not claiming to have perfect skin (unlike my friend Wendy who seriously has the BEST skin on the planet. hate you), but these are the products that work for my bi-polar, combination skin with a tendency to be dry on my cheeks. whew.

Step 1: Removing Makeup - I use makeup removal wipes to take off as much war paint first as possible. My favorite is just the regular Target brand. Cheap, effective with exfoliating microbeads, and smells good, particularly the cucumber scent.

Step 2: Cleanse - Cetaphil Cleanser w/ Clarisonic - I've used this cleanser since high school and I love it. Takes off all the left over gunk after the wipes and is still gentle. 3x a week, I use my Clarisonic to exfoliate any dead skin off. This helps all the creams I use to soak into the skin and do their magic. I used to use it everyday, but have found that my skin is more prone to breaking out w/ heavy usage.

Step 3: Tone & Prep - I used to skip this step, but when I started breaking again out after having a baby, I felt like I needed some extra help. I picked up some of the Neutrogena and noticed a big difference. My skin became less oily and became much more balanced. I use the SK2 on most days (it has no alcohol, so it's very soothing and doesn't leave my skin dry or stripped) and only use the Neutrogena on my chin and forehead when I feel an unwelcome visitor coming. It has salicylic acid to fight blemishes. Cheap, and does the job.

Step 4: Treat Problematic Areas after hearing so many people rave about this SK2 Facial Essense, I finally pulled the trigger during Sephora's F&F sale for 20% off. I'll be honest, I was about to return it after using it for a 2 weeks. I was expecting amazing results, but I didnt' see any. But I decided to give it a little longer and it changed my mind and is definitely a keeper in my routine now. After Caden (having a baby really changes things!), I really felt like my skin was so dull, nothing even brightner cream could save. My pores are noticeably smaller, skin has never felt softer and smoother, and there's some health in my face. Makeup application is nicer because of it.

Step 5: Preventing Wrinkles - I've tried so many eye creams on the market, and I'm pretty comfortable saying this is my Holy Grail cream (for the time being, anyway). The skin under my eyes are so moisturized and I can say that the fine lines that were there are gone! I get maybe 6 hours of sleep on a good night with Caden, yet I look like I get much more. Highly recommend.

Step 7: Moisturize - I'm so happy I've discovered another HG product. I was a bit of a brand snob before and so anti Clinque for some reason, but decided to give it a try after the girl at Sephora gave me a thumbs up and free sample. My cheeks get so flaky dry as soon as it goes below 60 degrees. This gel cream absorbs so well and has kept my face incredible moisturized without any extra oilyness. LOVE. I'm on my 3rd jar.

         [ makeup removal wipes ] [ Cetaphil ] [ Clarisonic ] [ SK2 Toner ] [ Neutrogena Toner ]
         [ SK2 Facial Essense ] [ Shiseido Serum ] Shiseido Eye Cream ] [ Clinque Moisturizer ]

What are some favorite skincare products you can't live without?

Dec 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from the Ngu Family!

I've been blessed to have 2 weeks off at the end of the year for the holidays and I am loving every minute of quality time with this little dude and family. Tonight, we are all getting together for an awesome dinner (salivating just thinking about it) and gifts. Then it's off to see friends and have a few drinks!


Dec 17, 2013

Christmas Present Pretzels

I can't bake.

I am unable to mix together simple ingredients, stick it in the oven, and make it edible. I've manage to mess up boxed brownie mix. True story. I swear I follow the directions to the T, but something ALWAYS happens. I blame it on my oven. That thing needs to be calibrated or something.

I baked a strawberry cake once for the husband....and it ended up looking like this: Someone asked me why I topped it off with condensed milk and peaches.

When I had C, I envisioned myself being super PTA mom, baking cookies and treats for the kids. I know my skills are severly lacking, but I'm determined to bake some decent chocolate chip cookies by the time C is in kindergarten. There is this one guy at work, whose mama makes amazing baked everything. People seriously almost knuckle up for some of her cookies and peanut brittle. Maybe I can work out an apprenticeship w/ her! LOL.

Anyway, I tried to make something easy for C's class as a treat for the last day of school before Christmas break. I found this cute treat on Pinterest, and thought to myself, "this looks easy! small steps, it's just melting chocolate and sticking an M&M on top!"

 great treat for holidays

Lies!!!! I couldn't get those damn Hershey Hugs to melt. 30 minutes in the oven, and those damn things were pointy as ever, mocking my chocolate melting abilities. Calibration totally neccessary right??

So I moved onto Plan B. Cute, right? All you need is a bag of pretzels, some melted chocolate, and M&M's split in half. I showed my coworkers, and they thought it looked like monster toes instead. *sigh*


Dec 14, 2013

Caden's Christmas List

We're all guilty of over-buying our kids STUFF. I can't help myself. What's a little toy here and there when I'm at the store? With the amount of times I find myself at Target, those one or two hotwheels can definitely add up.

I'm not sure where I originally came across this idea, but I loved it and it stuck w/ me. The idea is simple; only 4 gifts for each child.
  • something they WANT - he is obsessed with puzzles right now and I love how proud he is of himself when he completes one. Melissa & Doug make really quality wooden toys and I never mind splurging on these 
  • something they NEED  - I'm dreading this one, but it's gotta be done. Potty training is upon us. 
  • something to WEAR - it's like underwear, you can never have too many. and bc kids looks so darn cute in jammies. 
  • something to READ - C's Godmama got him the LeapFrog Leapreader last year and he is now starting to really love books. These are so awesome so bc your child can move the reader around many different points on the page for different interactions.

I've seen a few variations online and I think once C gets a little older we will incorporate these traditions:
  • something to MAKE
  • something to SHARE
  • something to DO

Dec 11, 2013

Christmas Wishlist

We're alive!!!! We braved the frigid temperatures of Icemaggedon '13 and lived to tell the story. Of course, with our luck, we were one of the almost 200k people who lost electricity during the coldest weekends in Dallas, EVER. Hubs and I both thought we'd be extra cautious and slick (no pun intended) and took that Friday off to avoid icy road conditions. I had glorious plans to cook more pho and a bit pot of chili to last us all weekend, veg out in bed and start a new TV series, and spend hours shopping online. But come 1pm, we all heard a loud POP, and everything went dead. And dead it was for 48 freaking hours!!! It wasn't so bad the first day, but once C's nose started running, we made like refugees and treked an hour away to take shelter at a dear friends.

How cute is this? Caden was in heaven during his 2 day sleepover with his buddies.

I, for once in my life, have gotten most of the shopping for the holidays completed for our family and all the kids. The husband and I agreed that we wouldn't exchange Christmas presents this year since we have been all sorts of willy nilly with our savings (I'm not the only one who can't control themselves at the mall)  and we have a big year coming up, but that doesn't mean I can't make a wish list right? How else is Santa going to find out? 

Dec 3, 2013

And it Begins...

Christmas in less than 3 weeks! I SWEAR I'll get all my shopping done before Christmas Eve and will NOT take the easy gift card route this year!

Thanksgiving came and went in a flash. I came home from work on Wednesday and literally did not step foot outside until Sunday evening -- and that was because we were out of  food and we had to go on a grocery run. My food coma lasted almost 4 days, yall.

I love cooking for my family and I spent most of my holiday break in the kitchen. I'm no Julia Child, and my husband never complains, so it must be decent if they keep coming back for more at dinner right!?

After all that turkey, some [some what] lighter Vietnamese food was what we needed to detox from butter overload. (definitely not from sodium). Anyone care for the recipes?

I wanted to get C a little tree for his room and thought it would be cute to have it in the corner near his reading nook. I envisioned us reading Christmas books together at bedtime, but of course he hates it and refuses to let us turn on the star. What a little grinch! That's his "hurry up woman!" fake smile at it's finest.

It's ok, at least we are ready for the holidays at work! Check out our newest pod mate, Bumble! Yes, he's 5 ft tall and lights up and sitting on top of our desks. We are aiming to be the tackiest house in neighborhood this year. I am so grateful to work at a company that allows us to do ridiculous things like this:

Nov 26, 2013


For the most amazing and selfless mother who puts everyone before herself. A grandmother that loves her grandson more than anything and spoils him rotten like a grandma should. My greatest role model and measurement of how a mother/daughter/wife should be. I'm most thankful for our time together and love her so much.

For the best husband a girl can ask for. It takes a lot of patience to love a girl like me. And he is the best daddy to C. I'm thankful that he's such a hands on father and I couldn't have a better partner for this whole parenthood thing.

and of course...I'm thankful for this little guy. This amazing little 2 feet something ball of energy and personality that makes my heart so full, somedays I wonder how much I can take before I explode.

Nov 21, 2013

My Favorite Time of Year

As much as I complain about how busy and crazed it gets during the holidays, I love this time of year, especially Thanksgiving! It's my favorite holiday, probably because of the ridiculous amount of carbs and gravy I'm allowed to inhale without judgement. Well, my mother still will, but somethings never change. I remember when I was pregnant with C, I was really stressed that he might make his debut on Thanksgiving and that I wouldn't be able to eat a proper turkey meal. I'm telling you, this homegirl gets down on that stuffing.

C was a good boy and got evicted on time, I got to make a whole Thanksgiving spread the following week, and all was right in the world. Look at that sweet face in a milk coma. I may or may not have a similar picture, but passed out from too much sodium and holding a turkey leg. :)

I always thought I'd be one of the involved PTA moms when my kids started school, and time has revealed that I am NOT. In all the hoopla and crazy running around that I was doing getting C's birthday party together, I forgot to grab some extra treats/sugar to send to school for all his little classmates to celebrate his day. His teachers sent home a birthday card in his backpack, reminding me that I TOTALLY dropped the ball. And then of course, one of the little girls had a birthday the following Monday, and her mom gave everyone a treat bag with like, toys and crayons. Psshshh.

I really did have plans to send some Thanksgiving goodies, but I just got the email reminder that school is out ALL next week! Is this some kind of sign that I shouldn't attempt to pass off my baking to innocent children? I guess I will have to bake for my coworkers instead! I mean, melting candy together is considered baking right?


Nov 18, 2013

Recipe: Damn Good Chili

I was anticipating cooler weather for Cs firetruck party, so I thought chili would be nice to serve along with Frito chips and shredded cheese. Everyone who tried it raved over the great flavor, and a lot of gfs asked for the recipe. It had a little bit of a spicy aftertaste, but was mild enough to appeal to all but the pickiest eaters. Enjoy!

Makes 6-8 servings. 
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chooped
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic satl
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce; I used Rotel brand with green chiles
  • 1 (8oz) jar salsa ; I used Picante brand
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning; I used Williams brand
  • 1 can of red kidney beans


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.
  2. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Nov 17, 2013

C's 2nd Birthday

Somedays I look at Caden and still can't believe I'm his mama. I mean really. I. Have. A. Two. Year Old. The funniest, goofiest, sweetest, smartest, most rambunctious little two year old ever. Its incredible how much your heart bursts at the seams with love for your offspring.
I must admit, I was still burnt out (no pun intended) from his 1st bday planning, so I decided just a super casual, low key outing at the park w/ our friends and family would fit the bill. Of course, as the date approached, my overachieving, pinterest obsessed self decided it should be at least have a theme. Caden, like any other 2 year old, is seriously fascinated with firetrucks (hopefully we don't have a future pyro on our hands) - the kid goes nuts when he hears sirens, and has at least 4 firetrucks laying around the house - so firetruck themed it was!

The week leading up to the party, the weather here in Dallas was being so bipolar as usual. It was in the 40's on Wednesday and then by Saturday, it was gorgeous and sunny. I have a couple of new pimply friends on my face from the stress of not thinking about having a backup plan for inclement weather. Note to self: HAVE A DAMN BACKUP PLAN. One should ALWAYS have a Plan B.

It worked out in the end, the kids had a blast and the 2 alarm chili was a real crowd pleaser. Who knew that a couple of cardboard boxes would be such a hit? I'd also like to add that by the time Caden's party came around, his obsession w/ firetruck was downgraded. He's now into bullzozers and diggers. *sigh* Maybe this will be my last themed party.

Who am I kiddiing?

Nov 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Someone educate me on the history of Halloween. Whoever thought it was a good idea to give little kids candy for free is EVIL. Sugar high is the real deal.
I've never been a fan and it probably stems from the fact that my parents being paranoid Asians, never let me go because they thought all the candy would be poisoned...but even as an adult, I never once dressed up with my friends in hooker costumes aka lingerie. It all just seems like so much work! But alas, on Thursday Husband and I took off work a little early to take Caden trick or treating for the first time. Of course, my love/hate relationship with Pinterest was in full effect and instead of just grabbing a $15 costume at Target, I decided to take on the role as semi-Super Mom and make one. It ended up costing $20 for the material, but I think it turned out pretty dang cute!
Poor Caden was so confused at first when we came to the first door like a deer in headlights. He had such a confused face like "mom, who are these people, are we going in??". After a few houses, he was a professional Trick or Treater!
Prince Charming or Mommy's Little Dictator?
Prince Charming or Mommy's Little Dictator?
Halloween 2013 010
My monster last year! Doesn't he look like a little baby!?
Monster and Daddy
Monster and Daddy
And with Halloween now over, it is OFFICIALLY my favorite time of year bc Thanksgiving is around the corner!!! How the heck is it already November 1st? Time surely flies when you're old.
And of course, my little man's birthday is 2 weeks away. We're going with a firetruck theme this year and am super excited to share the details!

Potential Halloween Costume?

Potential Halloween Costume
Charlie Chaplin? making the best of a boo boo

Oct 8, 2013

Texas State Fair

One of the traditions we had in my family growing up was going to the Texas State Fair every fall. My mom took us without fail whenever we got our free tickets from school. It was a big deal - bc you know, Asians don't take off work for anything, but if it's free - then you know we can't pass that up! It's a fond memory for me and I've gone pretty much every year all throughout adulthood and wanted to keep the tradition going, so of course this is Caden's 2nd year to go.
I'm not so sure this is something we should embark on EVERY year bc it literally costs an arm and a leg, roughly equivalent to 1/8 of Caden's college fund. It was almost $50 just to get in the door! I don't remember it being that much last year, but maybe I'm just getting old, cheap, and grouchy.
Taking an active toddler to a hyper packed event probably is not my smartest move in the mom playbook, but we packed on a few pounds and went on a few rides, so all in all - a good time and successful funday Sunday in my book. 
Thank god this is only once a year. :x


Sep 27, 2013

Mini Vacay in LA

Made a quick 4 day trip out to LA for a mini vacay/a good friend's wedding this past weekend. We left the kiddo at home w/ Grandma (thank goodness for G-mas!) It was both of ours first time in LA and we were determined to eat at as many places as possible. Funny how the older you get, the mark of a good time is determined by the deliciousness of the meals consumed on said trip. Or is that just me, being my gluttonous self? I Yelped the hell out of every possible restaurant, and then we ended up just forgetting all our plans, and played it all by ear. Isn't that the LA way to do things anyway?
Places we ate:
1. Korean - duh. Ktown was a no brainer, and I'm still thinking about how damn good it was. Dallas has pretty good Korean food, but I'm not sure anything is close to being on par with Kang Hodong Baekjong. It was a 2 hour wait, but totally worth it. Daydreaming about it still.
2. Ramen - ever since we had Ippudo in NYC, we've been on the hunt for something comparable. It's the new "it" food it seems these days, and why not find the best spot in Japan Town? Several friends recommended Daikokuya. So off we treked to downtown and put our name on the list to wait another 1.5 hours. The broth was satisfying and pork was fatty enough for my liking, but overall - not amazing. And definitely not Ippudo. Sad face.
3. Umami Burgers - heard a lot of hoopla over this place. Truffle burger with truffle cheese and glaze, whaat? Kind of disappointed to find out it was a chain.  Yeah, I'm a burger snob and bougie when it comes to chains. It was just meh. The sweet potatoe fries made an honorable attempt to redeem the meal.
4. Newport Tan Cang - we drove an hour for this place (with no traffic) after everyone and their mamas told us we HAD to have the lobster here. Husband wasn't sold as we're not big lobster people and it probably would taste like the lobster special at every Asian wedding. But when in Rome, right? We got here right as it opened and the place filled up immediately. 5lbs of lobster, bo luc lac, and $100 later - we were SO bloated. But a oh so happy and content kind of bloated when you've had a very good meal. My people didn't steer me wrong on this one. I'm only sad I was too chicken to ask to take a picture with the ginormous alien crabs in the tanks.
Our friend's wedding was in Malibu, atop a mountain (might I add, it was a scary as shit drive and much scarier down) with the most amazing view. Gorgeous venue, beautiful couple, and a lovely wedding.
By Sunday, we were so ready to get home to C. My mom and dad told me that he was looking for us all weekend and waiting for us by the window. SO SAD, poor baby. As much as we enjoyed some adult time together, nothing beats being home with my main little man.

Sep 11, 2013

Wednesday Wishlist

It was bound to happen. C caught his very first cold from school (on his 2nd day) so he was home on Monday. This also meant that there was very little sleeping at the N. house. Having a sick child is the worst. Boogers, tears, forcing medicine down a screaming banshee baby's throat is nothing compared to the thrashing and crying every 2 hours. Thankfully, we've powered through to Wednesday on waves of coffee fueled endorphins and little man is feeling better - clingy, but better.
In between zoning out and trying to stay awake at work, I did a little window shopping ;)
Currently lusting over:
alice + oliva drixa pumps - hot!
parker finn dress - perfect date night dress
rag and bone harrow booties - love the added detailing from their popular classic newbury boots
danielle nicole shoulder bag - loving this color for fall

Sep 8, 2013

First Day of School

I'm sure everyone's feeds has been blowing up with photos of their favorite little people's first day of school for the past week or so. Caden isn't in school school per se, but a Kid's Day Out program at church, twice a week, 9-2:30. He gets to socialize and learn stuff - so hey, that's school! There was a lot of anxiety for me leading up to that first day for some reason. I remember how exciting it was for the start of school when I was younger. Buying new school supplies, going shopping for brand new clothes and of course planning THE cutest outfit possible to wear on the first day. I guess I was vicariously living through my 20 month year old again because picking out his little firetruck backpack and lunch box was serious business people.
We've had a successful first week - a few tears at drop off - but I'm proud to say that I've received an email or two about how great little man is doing. #proudmama
I mean, look at that face. A little scholar in the making, am i right??
KDO - C\
KDO 015

Jul 9, 2013

Citrus Lane Review

There are so many product subscription services today for just about every interest for the beauty product junkie (Birchbox for guys and gals), to the foodie and coffee snobs (Love with FoodCraft Coffee) to even our furry friends (BarkBox). I signed up for Citrus Lane, a children's subscription service,  a few months ago when I found a 50%  coupon code which would send Caden a surprise box for only $12.
I read a few other reviews online and found that most moms were pleased with what they received in their first box so I was excited to see what would come in C's first delivery.
And so we waited. and waited. It was almost two months before we got it. When I went to Citrus Lane's FB page, it seemed that a lot of moms were frustrated with the length of time before they received their boxes. I'm assuming that 50% off code brought in a lot more business than they were anticipating and operations might not have been able to keep up with the demand. Understandable. After making a comment on their page that they should at least have the status of the order somewhere in our account, I noticed that I was able to see where our order stood when I logged in a few days later.
What we finally received:
  1. iPlay Reversible Sun Hat; retails for $15; this was cute however the toddler size is for kids 2-4yrs old and ended up being huge for C. He also hates anything on his head, so we didn't have much use for this. But this item alone made up for the cost of the box for the month, so score!
  2. Sand Toy Set from Haba; an entire set retails for $11.39; however we did not receive the whole set, only the scoop and sand sieve.
  3. Happy Tot Plus in Blueberry, Apple, and Purple Carrot; $1.99 at most stores - C gobbled this up and loved it! It's a struggle sometimes to get him to eat veggies, so I need to buy some more of these for him.
  4. Sunny Sunscreen SPF35 from Episencial - the 4oz retails for $11.95, but this was only a 1.5 oz sample. I wish there was a little more because we used it for one day out at the park and pool and it was all gone!
Final Thought: while I think the concept is great, I felt this this box really didn't compel me to continue with the subscription. It may have been that because this was a "discounted" box, the items fell a little short for me. The sun hat pattern we received is discontinued on iPlay's site, the incomplete sand set, and new packaging on the sunscreen from Episencial in the store now leads me to believe this sample is old. In addition, the fact that I received these must have summer items in July, I had already purchased Caden all these things already. It just wasn't timely for us. However, I will continue one more month to see what a full priced box will bring us. I'm hoping that we receive our July box in the right month and the items are better.
Caden Approved!
I'll update when we get it!

May 15, 2013

Our First Injury

We had a little scare yesterday and went to the ER for our first toddler injury (and hopefully our last for at least a very long long time). It's inevitable that having a very curious and rambunctious toddler will lead to accidents,  and I've accepted that fact that there will bumps and bruises along the way. However, we had lots of tears and blood yesterday.
Little man tripped on a bath rug and got into a fight w/ the edge of the tub. Just when I thought we had done a good job w/ baby proofing the house as we have avoided any ouchies for the most part, I'm proven wrong. 4 hours at the hospital, a bag of Cheez-Its and Lays potato chips, and a $150 copay later -- we are all fixed up. Thank goodness it was just an abrasion and he didn't need any stitches.
Who needs to bungee jump, go sky diving, or speed race when you've got a crazy toddler at home?  That alone is enough of an adrenaline rush that this mama will ever need.
my little trooper still smiling before heading off to the hospital
waiting patiently w/ Daddy
ok, now I'm tired of waiting