2016 recap

2016 is coming to a close, and instead of classic resolutions, I wanted to talk about some things that I loved this year. But first, . 

Leica Q
Having finally overcome my fear of breaking this new baby of mine, I have been shyly experimenting with the best camera I ever had. Fixed lens at 28mm, full frame, 24 mpx, f1.7 with macro mode on the lens and nifty features such as fantastic focus options, ridiculous ISO, tilt shift and vibration reduction this camera is a dream. All the photos henceforth are taken with it, and this is a stock photo of this camera (it seemed wrong to photograph it using an iPhone...)

Aspinal of London
This line of leather goods is one I keep going back to. Encouraged by a travel bag and a Filofax holder I bought years earlier, which are still as good as new, I took advantage of their sale and got a large cosmetic case in navy lizard and an iPad Air sleeve. I decided to stop contributing to culture of buying semi-disposable goods, ie. bags I'm not entirely happy with, which are too small, poor quality etc and go for something that will hopefully last many years. I'm pretty over the moon about it although I need to rationalise the stuff I have in there as it's already bursting at the seams.

La Mer makeup
I've been using Creme De La Mer for a couple of years. Having tried so many products, from high end to cheap basics, I can say that there is no better cream than this. My rosacea is gone, I have no lines or wrinkles and if I run out, in a couple of weeks I definitely feel it. Since then I ventured and bought a Reparative Skin Tint with SPF, which is fantastic, not streaky, with great coverage and best of all, the same 'miracle broth'' as in the skincare line, so my skin feels even better. Illuminating powder I got, I admit, mainly due to the packaging. It is very subtle and gives a nice, healthy look to the complexion. It's a limited edition so I couldn't find a link to anywhere that still sells it.

Dior Cheek Glow 
I've been using NARS "Orgasm" on my cheeks for a while, and while I'm happy with the colour, its oily, somewhat grubby base feels icky on my face. It's hard to explain, perhaps my face is reacting to the nauseatingly sexist NARS titles? Case in point, another blusher shade named "Multiple Orgasm" while most women are lucky to get even one, or even more worrying shade of lipstick named "Deep Throat". So while I can't do anything about the postmodernist nightmare that has hijacked feminism and popular culture in 2016, I can find a better blush for my face. And the answer came in the timeless, stylish Dior. The pink colour of this blush looks very girly and almost shocking, but on the cheeks, it gives the best, healthy, youthful glow I have ever seen. A feminist two thumbs up for this one ;)

Perfect lipstick collection
I once had, quite by chance, obtained a perfect lipstick shade for my complexion. It was YSL Rouge Personnel in shade 12 "Arrogant Raspberry". That tester (because I got it as a student, in one of those little gift bags) saw me through my last two years of exams, moving across continents, first jobs, training scheme interviews and countless work day, dinners and dates. It's one of those shades that at a slight swipe gives you a bitten lip look, and you can layer it for depth and drama. Well, I was on my last millimetre of the sacred rouge when I discovered the company Three Custom Colour Specialists who will mix you any shade, two tubes plus postage, for $80. I wept when I received them! And while they are unfragranced (I prefer it) they are pretty spot on colour wise, so I've been so, so happy.

Another daily favourite are Dr Perricone No Lipstick Lipsticks. Moisturising, somewhere between lip gloss and lip balm, these come in three perfect shades, are wonderfully tinted and also plump up your lips without stinging, making them look fuller and younger.

I discovered Tom Ford makeup through "Spanish Pink" lipstick. A perfect nude which looks even better if you use lip primer and pen, I also bought "Moonlight" lip shimmer, but it was limited edition so it's no longer available in the shops (ebay should have it though).  I won't wax lyrical about the incredible quality of this line, since it's a well known fact. These lippies aren't particularly long-wearing but they feel like a ray of sunshine on your face. It's taking all my will power to resist buying more shades straight away, but I won't be greedy.

Here's my pick for 2016 perfect lipstick collection:

L - R - back row - Dr Perricone Nude, Pink Berry
front row - YSL Arrogant Raspberry, TF Spanish Pink, TF Moonlight

 bottom - top - Dr Perricone No Lipstick Lipstick Nude, Pink, Berry, YSL Arrogant Raspberry, TF "Spanish Pink" 
top perpendicular line - Clinique "Black Honey" (perfect mat darkener for lips)
bottom perpendicular line (can't really see it) TF "Moonlight"

Here are pictures of a really quick makeup pictures. I knew that if I commit to a proper studio shoot I'll never get this post done, so you are getting messy hair and quickly slapped on makeup (a bit of Illuminating Powder and Dior Blush) lips getting redder as the shoot progresses, but hopefully a reasonable idea of what these products look like. Tom Ford "Moonlight" is unpictured because by the time I went to put it on my lips were raw from removing and reapplying lipsticks so instead of a ethereal pale shimmer, my lips looked shocking Barbie pink shimmer, not representative.

Dr Perricone No Lipstick Lipstick - Pink

Dr Perricone No Lipstick Lipstick - Nude

Dr Perricone No Lipstick Lipstick - Berry

TF "Spanish Pink"

Clinique "Black Honey"

YSL "Arrogant Raspberry"

KitchenAid  and Le creuset
My kitchen dream has finally come true, and even though it's just a basic, Classic KitchenAid, this best mixer ever has made way to my kitchen. I also realised that with my nickel allergy, stainless steel saucepans aren't the best idea, so I've started replacing my cookware with Le Creuset enamel and cast iron. I found this 22 cm casserole dish for 50% off on amazon, and I'm really happy with it. 

Rosenthal Bavaria Blue Lustre
I love blue vintage fine china, and even though these blue lustre pieces are a bit psychedelic, they are really festive and lovely. Here they are on the dining table:

My first Christmas stocking
Never had time to worry about the stocking as well, but this year I put in the effort. They house small gifts like chocolate snowflakes, socks and clear glasses with snowflakes on them to have Christmas morning hot chocolate with marshmallows.

One thing I said goodbye to in 2016
Sea Change program by Leo Babuta. When I signed up for this programme two years ago, I was feeling pretty lost. I've done some work on my habits, both trying to break bad and form good ones, but I was largely stumbling in the dark, struggling for motivation, unable to see clearly. I was also doing a lot of 'numbing', losing myself in some activity like work, chores, social media, tv, in order to avoid feeling emotions, especially hard ones like anger, fear, anxiety etc. So all that was working against what I wanted to achieve. Until I discovered Leo's website zen habits and with every article I read, I learned something and was able to make a shift. Like, leaning into the discomfort, rather than trying to escape it. I got intrigued enough to sign up for his Sea Change programme (I am not endorsing this on anyone's behalf, just sharing personal experience). Every month or so is a new module, starting with developing a habit of meditation, then combating procrastination, decluttering, mindful eating, exercise etc. Every year the modules repeat, they have new stuff added to them all the time and there's a forum where participants can share and support each other. And while I can't say that I used much of the forum, socialising with complete strangers isn't my favourite thing in the world, I have gained a lot from the course. After many years of struggling, I now meditate, do yoga and journal nearly every day. I am managing procrastination with self-compassion, which greatly reduces my laziness. I have stopped eating junk food and processed foods completely, and I have no cravings. One area I didn't have problems with was decluttering, as I am obsessed at scaling down junk and everything having its place, so that was my catch-up month. 

But for the past six months or so, I found that I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to keep up with the course. I feel my habits are now in the maintenance stage where I have all the tools to manage this on ongoing basis and I no longer need help. So with fondness and gratitude in my heart, I cancelled my subscription and bid farewell to Sea Change program. I might be back again, although I hope to remain as in love as I am now with my new found freedom from compulsions, numbing and lack of motivation, and to not need too much help in that department in the future.

Saying goodbye to 2016 and welcoming 2017
Winter is a water season, and I always loved all incarnations of it - snow, ice, foggy and cold mornings that we get here on the island, when the trees are bare, the air smells sweet and first irises and crocuses are emerging from the ground. 2016 was a good year for us. We improved our situation on all fronts considerably. Next year promises to be the year of more doing, and just as prosperous and perhaps even more creative. As the world is being forced to look at itself in the mirror, politically in the West at least, I look forward to the to the new dawn of compassion, awareness and peace in 2017. I won't be watching any news, but I'll be living wholeheartedly, helping others as much as I can and working hard on telling my stories. Christmas time for me is the nexus where all my different lives intersect. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th by decorating the tree and sharing presents, but we also have a special meal and movie marathon every New Year and in honour of my grandparents, we'll celebrate Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January by making homemade specialties and burning the Christmas tree on a bonfire in the garden.  

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