My Korean Perm

I’ve heard good things about Korean digital or setting perms but there are no salons in Salt Lake City that offer them.  So when I was up in WA I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and get one.

Uploading my consciousness to the hive mind

Crazy looking, right?  This machine is imported from Korea and uses heat and ceramic rollers to set the curls.

My mom took me to the Korean stylist she frequents. I was scared of ending up with an ajumma hair style, worries that were not assuaged when the stylist was sporting a very ajumma-ish hairstyle herself and didn’t speak much English.

But I showed her photos of what I wanted and she said that a setting perm and a cut with lots of layers would give me the style I wanted.  I think she could tell I was a little nervous so she admonished me to trust her, so I did.  Don’t mess with an ajumma!

I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The curls/waves are supposed to last for 6-12 months and are really low maintenance.  My stylist said if I want more pronounced curls to twist my hair into ringlets as I blow-dry it or that I could just towel-dry my hair for looser waves which is what I usually do (and what I did in the photo above).   If I feel like getting fancy I’ll put my hair up in two buns overnight and in the morning I have a ton of curls.

This is the first time I’ve done anything major to my hair and happy (and relived!) with how it turned out.

The whole process (cut-perm-style) took about 3 hours.  I don’t remember all the different steps but Karen Cheng, an Australian blogger I follow, has a good post about her experience getting a similar perm.

Goodbye, Long Hair!

After having long hair for 20+ years, yesterday I decided it was time for a change.

So far reactions have been mostly positive. As soon as he saw me E’s eyes got really big and he exclaimed, “Wow, your hair looks so good! I like it!” (He’s going to make someone a great husband one day.) My sister Jan and cousin Young Shin, who were babysitting the kids for me, said they like it. According to Young Shin, who just moved here from Korea, it makes me look “like a New Yorker.” And N thought it looked cute.

But poor Mimi kept looking at me in confusion and then looking around the room and back to me until she scrunched up her face and cried like her heart was broken. Poor thing. But as you can see, she got over it.

After having long hair since I was a kid it feels strange to have it so short I can’t even put it in a pony tail. But so far I really like it–no regrets! I’m kind of a beauty/fashion newbie so I’m sure there will be a bit of a learning curve to getting the hang of styling it. But I already feel more put together.

Stretch Marks, Be Gone!

I saw a charming commercial for Merderma Stretch Mark Therapy that said it was clinically proven (science!) to lessen the appearance of stretch marks. And since having a near 11-pound baby left me with some marks on my stomach (and I had a coupon) I thought I’d give it a try. Not that pre-baby I was baring it all in a bikini but you know, a girl likes to look/feel good.

I’m too chicken to post before-and-after photos but I’ll let know how it works. I’ve only been using it for about two weeks (out of the recommended 12) and like it so far. I haven’t noticed any dramatic results yet but my skin is nicely moisturized and the scent isn’t too bad.

So, um, there’s that. It doesn’t solve any of the heart-breaking problems in the world but at least my tummy is well-moisturized.

Haircuts and Hotpots

Yesterday was my sister-in-law Miranda’s birthday so we made a morning of it and went and got haircuts and then had lunch.

My hair had grown past the middle of my back and was starting to annoy me. It felt heavy and when I went to bed I felt a bit strangled by it laying around my neck. So I cut a bunch of it off and added some bangs.

My head feels ten pounds lighter! I keep whipping my head around and swishing my hair from side to side, enjoying the feeling of not being weighed down. I’m pretty happy I made the change before the hot weather gets here.

Afterward then we stopped by Shabu Shabu House in Orem for lunch. I had eaten sushi there before but this time we had shabu shabu which was fun and tasty. Years and years ago when I saw shabu shabu cooking on Japanese Iron Chef I wanted to try it and so when N and I lived in Korea the summer after we got married we had it a couple of times and I became a fan.

Even though I’ve had shabu shabu before I was a little rusty on the specifics but the helpful waiter walked us through seasoning the broth and the cooking times of each ingredient. If you’ve never tried shabu shabu it might be a little intimidating the first time you go, but don’t worry, it’s basically like fondue and fun and easy to eat.

This place is great–my only fear is that it will go out of business as a lot of new restaurants do. Do your part to support great non-chain restaurants in Utah County and check it out!

Tarte Cheek Stain

Growing up I was kind of a nerd. I was more into books and photography than make-up or fashion and as a result I sometimes feel like I’m still a bit behind the curve when it comes to girly things.

But I’ve been dabbling in makeup more lately. Maybe it’s something about turning 30 but I’ve been feeling like trying a bit harder might be in order.

I’ve had my eye on these Tarte cheek stains for over a year and before we went to Korea I finally picked one up in “Tipsy.” It’s more than I normally spend on makeup but I love it! It blends really easily and looks more natural than the powder blush I used to use. It seems to last all day and smells delicious. Also, I can tell that the container is going to last a long time; I’ve been using it frequently for a month and the stick still looks like new.

I had to try on a couple of shades to find one I thought looked natural so I would recommend trying it on in person if you get the chance.

In which our author is spanked in the nude by a middle-aged Korean woman wearing a black bra and panties

(But not in that way, you perv.)

I was five years old the first time I went to a mogyoktang, or Korean bathhouse/spa. My mom and I were in Korea visiting relatives and we went to what seemed like a huge indoor pool complex where everyone was female and not wearing swimming suits. I remember dog paddling from one end of the huge tub to the other.

My next visit to a mogyoktang was incredibly embarrassing, but it was all my own fault. The summer after my freshman year in college I went on a study abroad trip to the Korean countryside (this is the trip that I first got to know N on). We stayed in a traditional village (in houses like these) and conducted an anthropomorphic survey of the area. The houses we stayed in didn’t have running water and so we rigged up some camping showers. But using camping showers in the cold morning air gets old and so some of us decided to hitchhike into the nearest town and go to the mogyoktang there.

None of the girls I went with were first generation Koreans: we were all either half or adopted and none of us had much experience with bathhouses. The other girls were more stylish and girly than tomboy me and I was more than a bit intimidated by them. So when the other girls declared that they were going to wear their bathing suits in the mogyoktang I went along. I didn’t want to be the only one not wearing one. But it was SO embarrassing. Everyone kept staring at us and I felt humiliated and vowed never to do it again. After that I usually went to the mogyoktang with the girls I was better friends with. Traumatic bathing suit incident notwithstanding, I was hooked on mogyoktangs.

The next time I was to a mogyoktang was a couple of years ago. A nice Korean spa opened up in Tacoma which my mom started going to. When N and I were up visiting I went with my mom. It was fabulous to soak in the huge tub and then get all the dead skin scrubbed off. If I can fit it into my schedule going to the Korean spa is usually one of the highlights of a visit to my parents’ house.

When I was up in Washington a few weeks ago my mom and sister volunteered to drop me off a spa while they went to a church function (and watched E). It was the first time I had gone to this particular spa and once I got there I was kind of nervous because I wasn’t sure exactly where to go. But I figured it out and went and soaked in the tubs while I waited for my scrub. (Even though I like going to the mogyoktang I always get nervous about the moment when you take off your clothes and walk naked into a room with a bunch of other naked women. But I just do it and then after a minute or two it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all.)

I didn’t like the tubs at this spa as well as others I’ve been to but the scrub/moisturizing treatment I got was the best I’ve ever had. Tana, a middle-aged Korean woman wearing the spa uniform of a black bra and panties, put on exfoliating mitts and scrubbed me from head to toe. It was so relaxing. I felt like a tiny kitten being licked clean. It was simultaneously neat and gross to see the little pills of dead skin come off.

After the scrub Tana had me shower to get all the dead skin off and then she put a cucumber mask on my face and massaged hot oil and milk into my skin. As she was massaging she would rhythmically slap my arms and legs and butt. That’s never happened to me during a scrub before so I don’t know if it was something to improve circulation or if it’s just something Tana enjoys. (Ahem.)

Even though I had just been lying there I was totally wiped out afterward. When it was over and it was time to sit up I almost slid off the table because I was so oily and kind of lightheaded. It was so relaxing and my skin had never felt so silky smooth. If there was a Korean spa nearby I would probably go to it at least once a quarter. But I live in white-bread Utah so for now visiting the mogyoktang will have to remain a treat for when I visit Washington.

Fiberwig Mascara

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a bit of a tomboy growing up. I never really got into makeup as a teenager or while I was in college. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve worn mascara more than 50 times in my entire life (and that’s including dance recitals when I was seven, high school plays, AND my wedding). With that said, I’m almost 30 and I’m starting to feel like maybe I should try at least a little to, you know, look nice.

I had heard good things about Fiberwig, a Japanese mascara, so I ordered it from Amazon around Christmas time. I really like it. I have very Korean eyelashes: stick-straight and short. But this mascara has little fibers in it that grab onto your lashes and extends them out. And it doesn’t flake off or smudge and give you raccoon eyes. It’s pretty pricey ($22) but if I’m going to go through the hassle of curling my lashes and putting on mascara then I want to at least use something that’s going to look good all day.

Does anyone else have a mascara they really like? I’d love to find a (cheaper) drugstore product that I like as well as Fiberwig.

Goin’ Ape-pricot

Lately, I’ve been into painting my nails. Growing up I was a bit of a tomboy and have still never had a professional manicure. But as the mother of an active toddler there’s something pleasingly decadent about having polished nails. (My clothes may be a bit sloppy, my hair may be in a hurried ponytail, but hey, at least my nails look nice!)

Granted, the polish doesn’t stay nice-looking for that long (especially with woodworking class) but I enjoy it while it lasts. To the left is one of my favorite colors right now. It’s called Goin‘ Ape-pricot and is actually more of a bright coral-ish color rather than straight orange once it’s on.

Anyway, the only free time I have for nail painting is while N and I are watching TV in the evening after E has gone to bed. After being so busy during the day I enjoy having to just sit still and wait for the polish to dry.

It’s a small thing, but I find it relaxing. And after a particularly difficult day with E, I’ll take any relaxation I can find.