JUNIEL and Yonghwa – Debut Single Duet

I admittedly tend to stay away from female singers. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them, but it’s because most some of them tend to have these really high-pitched voices that grate on my nerves or they try too hard to be cute. Perhaps it’s also because it strains my voice box too much when I try to reach those high notes when singing along, but that’s not the point. As a result, I find myself sticking to more androgynous type female celebrities if I do end up following them. However, there is one general exception: duets. I find that the male parts balance out the female one and I like contrasts and they’re usually cute (I really liked that duet by Wang Lee Hom and Candy Lo, because the male part was sung in Mandarin and the female parts in Cantonese; it helps that her voice doesn’t go too high).

Well, recently, there has been news of a new singer-songwriter by the name of JUNIEL (주니엘), who is apparently new to the Korean music scene but has already released a mini album (Ready Go) and a single album (Forever) in Japan, following her win on the Japanese version of American Idol, Niji Iro Supernova. Now, she’s signed under FNC Entertainment (under which both CN Blue and F.T. Island are signed under) and her debut album, titled My First June, is set to be released on June 7th.

The track list is as follows:
(01)  llla llla
(02) Ready Go!
(03) Everlasting Sunset
(04) Mask
(05) Stupid (with CN Blue’s Jung Yonghwa)

**links added 2012.06.08

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The Relativity of Right and Wrong

When it’s time for one of the life-changing events to happen to me, it usually comes out of nowhere – hard and fast. On Tuesday, I got a job interview and on Wednesday was my first day of work. After my third full day of work, I finally find the time to think up and write another post, this time on something that’s been bugging me ever since I came to this realisation some ten years ago.

See, one of the things my mom loves to nag at me about is my seeming obsession over my laptop. I can sit before it for hours on end. Not completely nonstop, of course; I still tend to move around a little, but I can pretty much sit there for a long time. It’s been a long battle between us, whether it’s due to fanfiction (yes, I’m an avid fanfiction reader and proud of it), dramas, or little projects like blogs, research, and brainstorming. You would think that when I get a job where I sit in front of a laptop for 7 hours a day crunching numbers, among other things, she would be against it. Think again.

Then there’s how my mother refused to let my sister take the highways to get anywhere. I fortunately escaped this, as I went to a university outside of my city, but on top of that, I suppose my sister didn’t mind too much, but you bet I was surprised when I had given my sister directions to go to the mall and had instructed her to get on on the highway only for her to shoot questions at me at how it works because it was her first time driving on the highway. The sole thought running through my mind: how in the world did she get her license??

I understand the motivation behind both of these situations. After all, staring too much at a computer of some sort isn’t good for one’s eyes or health – you become a blob, something America doesn’t need more of. As for driving on the highway, cars do tend to travel at high speeds – I know because I’m one of them – so if you don’t have a good reaction speed or aren’t very observant, there’s a chance that it can be a dangerous trip. However, apparently slowly harming yourself due to a job (read: money) – the fact that I work for a company that deals with oil companies makes it all the better – makes it all right. My sister also isn’t helping the environment any nor is she getting anywhere fast, due to spending a good amount of her time on the road after an hour long commute to school and back. Granted that though the traffic here doesn’t get quite as bad as the traffic in L.A., it’s still nothing to scoff at. So then, it all comes down to how there’s essentially no right or wrong, as everyone’s perception of either idea is essentially up to them: their priorities, personal beliefs, particular circumstances, and I suppose this generally accepted idea of what is right (helping the elderly woman cross the street) and what is wrong (killing people) having been enforced since childhood.

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[RECIPE] Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite places to go to for a quick sweet fix in the States is La Madeleine’s. My favorite is their French Vanilla Tart with Berries. It is to die for. As it is, the French are known for their baked goods and pastries. One day, I was browsing and found a recipe that had combined the French Pain au Chocolat with the American Cinnamon Roll. It thought it an excellent idea so I immediately bookmarked it for future perusal.

I finally decided to try it today, in lieu of my job interview and as a form of stress relief because of aforementioned job interview. This later also became a celebratory baking event because I ended up getting the job, with an initial training-and-trial period, of course. It made it all the more special, since I usually don’t make things as decadent as this. However, before I get to the recipe itself, I must do a little bit of additional reading–

Pain au Chocolat, or the chocolatine in Southern France and French Canada as well as the chocolate croissant in North America, is a sweet roll made of yeast-leavened laminated dough with pieces of chocolate in the middle. An interesting note, as wikipedia states, the pain au chocolat is a viennoiserie (literally translated into “Viennese thingy”) sweet roll, of which croissants, danish pastries, and brioche also fall under, so it may be safe to say that they’re of Viennese origin. However, there are no stories, legends, tales, or any such things that may even hint at the exact beginnings of this treat.

Now, let’s cross that with the American and European heart-stopping favorite, the Cinnamon Roll (or Bun). This sweet bun had a long history and ends with many variations, beginning with the spice trade that brought cinnamon over but there’s no single set origin, though it’s said to have influences from Northern Europe, namely Germany (franzbrötchen), Denmark, and Sweden (kanelbulle) – not to mention the large Finnish version by the name of korvapuusti and the Norwegian skillingsbolle. Now, there’s also the fried honey bun to add to the list. Now, which one’s better? The European custom of sprinkling sugar over it or the drizzle (or smothering) of icing? Either way, this [usually] baked sweet must be important, if the Swedes dedicated a day to it on October 4th. It amuses me how the true origin of both of these sweet rolls are still a mystery. They must be a match made in heaven.

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Skincare: I Need All Those Things??

Up until college, my skincare routine consisted of the washing of the face in the morning when I woke up and before I went to bed. After a brief period where my skin broke out completely around three years ago, I started to add an acne cream to that. Starting around a couple of months before my stint in Korea, I began to apply a light layer of foundation. Once in Korea, I discovered and became attached to BB cream and have since become a fan. It was only a mere month before I left Korea that I even began thinking about touching upon what seemed to be a pretty intense skin regimen that Korean women followed, but what I had thought it encompassed wasn’t even close. According to what two of my friends said (one the manager of a branch of The Face Shop, a Korean cosmetic and skincare store, in California, and the other a Korean-American friend), there are several things you should apply to your face to keep it young and healthy:

  1. Cleansing: consists of two steps with the pre-cleanse (usually an oil or cream-based product that’s used to deep clean and remove make-up, sunblock, sebum, and dirt) followed by a mild foam cleanser of some sort.
  2. Toner: the toner helps balance the skin’s pH, clean up any remaining debris from skin’s surface, soften the skin as well as acting as a humectant (attracting the atmosphere’s water molecules to the skin’s surface to maintain skin’s hydration) and is also great for firming up the pores.
  3. Serum (aka Essence): a lighter moisturizer with small molecules meant to penetrate the skin and giving moisture and hydration to the lower skin layers, which will keep your skin healthy and youthful.
  4. Daily Moisturizer (aka Emulsion): this lotion is used to seal in hydration and moisture to the skin and lasts throughout the day.
  5. Sunblock: this helps to protect skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays which can cause aging, hyperpigmentation and other skin diseases in the future. Ninety percent of aging and hyperpigmentation are caused by the sun, so to maintain healthy and youthful skin, the cheapest anti-aging product happens to be sunblock! However, do not be fooled by sunblocks that have super high SPF (because in order to achieve high SPF means that they used high levels of chemicals and harmful ingredients). In addition, skin can only absorb up to 30 SPF, so you are wasting money on products that claim to HIGHLY protect you from the sun.
  6. Night Cream: night cream is 30-50% more richer than emulsion, because thirty percent of cell renewal happens at night while you sleep.

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DIY Braided Bead Bracelets

As someone who’s temporarily unemployed and waiting for my next calling, I’ve been searching for new projects to take on. One of them was do-it-yourself jewelry. I’m not very knowledgeable about jewelry, nor do I have much interest in it, but I have noticed that they tend to be overpriced and since I love saving money, I decided to try making one of them. I decided upon one that looked neat and sounded easy enough for me to start and finish: Braided Bead Bracelets (tutorials here and here).

See, I’m not very patient and I can’t stand to do something over… and over… and over again. Even so, I took a trip to a local Hobby Lobby and searched for waxed linen (it never hit me until now as to exactly how many different kinds of thread, cords, wires, and string can be used for things like this), seed beads, and cute 2-hole buttons. They didn’t have a big variety to choose from (I even considered going home and purchasing them online in variety packs with assorted colors, but since I was already there, I sucked it up), but I ended up purchasing the needed materials…

Then, I cleared out a small area on my desk, cut out two pieces of waxed linen, and proceeded to follow the directions to the best of my abilities. At first, my nails got in the way and I had a brain farct where I briefly forgot how to braid, but before long, I soon got the hang of it. My braids weren’t as tight as I would have liked them to be, but as someone who rarely does things like this, I’m fairly content.

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[PLACE] Tiny Boxwood’s

Earlier today, I had a brunch date with a new friend I met off of Couch Surfers, an awesome site that allows people from around the world meet each other and travel together. In addition, people can travel and “couch surf” and get to know new friends. An excerpt from their About Page —

With millions of members in over 230 countries and territories around the world, CouchSurfing is blazing the trail towards a better, friendlier world where people who are different from one another can find their similarities. We are a community, and we are a movement. If you believe that all types of people can share fun, trust, and friendship, then you belong here.

When you join CouchSurfing, you tap into our network of welcoming people worldwide. You can share your hospitality and experience your city through new eyes by offering travelers a place to stay on their journey. You can bypass the typical hotel experience by staying at the home of a local and learning about their culture. You can join cool and interesting people for anything from a bike ride to a party using CouchSurfing Activities. And you can meet up with new people, whether at home or while traveling, for inspiring experiences and new friendships.

I’m a recent member of this awesome community, but I love the idea. 🙂 Anyway, my new Couch Surfing buddy and I decided to meet over a meal at a cute little place called Tiny Boxwood’s at the intersection of Saint and Alabama.

I had gone there once or twice before a couple of years back and I had good memories and food to go with it, so it was about time I returned – with my camera. The cafe is open with wide windows and despite the overcast weather and sprinkling of rain, the atmosphere was still welcoming and had that little something. Tiny Boxwood’s also has a large outdoor seating area (my last visit was on a sunny, weekend day and the lawn was full of people – families, couples, friends, and coworkers alike) and is connected to a nursery. On the weekends, they also have a special brunch menu. I went on a Tuesday and arrived at 10:45 am, so there were several occupied tables, but as lunch time neared (and the precipitation ceased), the outdoor seating filled up as well.

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[HEALTH] Preparations for the Bod

This is an Apple with Dr. Mehmet Oz’s face on it. The reason why I decided on this Apple was because I couldn’t decide on which photo to use.. and I thought that was an awesomely shiny apple, though I admit that I can’t stomach them – for some odd reason, the taste and texture of the Apple was always off-putting to me, though I love them cooked, baked, or juiced. Anything but raw, please.

My mom watches his show every weekday at 3pm almost religiously and, as I’m feeling somewhat drowsy today, I decided to rest my head on her stomach while I watched today’s episode, which is titled the Swimsuit Slimdown Plan. Well, on this episode, Apple-ized Dr. Oz gave the audience (and viewers) several tips on how to get closer to achieving that ‘perfect’ swimsuit body that seems to be out-of-reach: