Just an ordinary girl's life

{Beauty} Boots Botanics products review

Time for another very short beauty review! I pledge my allegiance to Korean skincare and if I could I would rub myself with K-beauty products only. BUT! I’m an European gal living in Europe, so I can’t quite go to the K Market everyday.

Plus in UK we have Boots. Yay!

When I arrived in Scotland at the beginning of March, I was armed with a small but efficient set of skincare products from home. But they couldn’t preserve my skin from the cruel biting wind of the east coast, so I had to look for something a little stronger.

I found a few products from Boots Botanics on sale (though they’re very affordable even without promotion) and I thought I could give them a try. I like the fact that there’re supposed to be plant-based, and the All Bright range in particular is developed in collaboration with Kew Botanic gardens, which is pretty cool if you ask me. They’ve very recently redone all the packaging, so the products on the website look different from the ones in my photos.

(1) Botanics Radiant Youth Hydrating Eye Cream

This is a no-no for me. To be honest, I still have to find my holy grail in terms of eye cream, so this one wasn’t much worse than others I tried in the past. It’s just like using a regular moisturiser (while eye creams should be richer), I couldn’t feel or see any specific effect after using it. Plus it did a very unpleasant thing – I went to visit my parents for 20 days in May and I left it at home; when I was back the liquid part had completely separated itself from the creamy one. Very annoying outcome. Definitely won’t rebuy.

(2) Botanics Radiance Concentrate Serum All Bright

I didn’t like nor dislike this serum. The brightening effect is not particularly visible on my skin, and it’s fairly hydrating but not like others I tried in the past. All in all is not a bad product (I discovered that with gel-like products it’s better to pat them on the skin rather than rubbing), but to be honest I’m looking for something a little more hydrating for the kind of skin I have and the climate I live in.

(3) Botanics Radiance Balm All Bright

This one is the product I actually liked the most. The only problem with this is that the cream itself is very fluid and it tends to spill out of the bottle every time I open it. I think for this kind of fluidity a top-opening packaging would have been better. The product itself is a creamy, light-textured balm that gives the skin a nice subtle glowing look. I used it in the morning right before day cream and SPF as a sort of in-between. If the new packaging has fixed the problem of product spilling I would definitely consider rebuying it.


All in all, I think Botanics products are very good for young, fuss-free skin types (especially considering the price). For moisturisers and serums I’d rather buy something a little richer, but I would like to try something else from their All Bright line, especially the face scrub and the cleansing cream.



{On the Screen} Current Dramas TBW List #1

Too many books to read and too many dramas to watch for just one lifetime.

I generally don’t like to spend too many hours a day with my eyes glued to a screen so it’s really rare for me to spend more than 1h watching tv series/dramas – except for when it’s summer and it’s so hot I feel like crushing on the bed all day, but this is no longer the case since I now live in a country that has practically no summer (yay!).

Still, I should watch about 5+h/day of stuff to all the things I want to finish watching in my lifetime ;_;


The List

1) Blade Man (Korea)


I’m all in when it comes to genetic mutations / weird body transformations (even though they gross me out a little). Plus the male lead is the same actor (don’t ask me to remember Korean names) playing the Grim Reaper in Goblin who happens to be my favourite character in the show, so I can’t wait to see him in another role.


2) Descendants of The Sun (Korea)


Well this has been (probably the most?) internationally acclaimed drama in 2016 so who am I not to watch it? Plus I heard the romance is kind of amazing, and I think it’ll be a very different love story from those of regular comedy-like dramas (that I usually don’t enjoy much).


3) Channel-X (Taiwan)


Despite Korean dramas being my favourite of all other Asian countries, I actually try to insert some Chinese-Speaking show as well for listening practice’s sake. I usually enjoy more those from Taiwan compared to mainland China, plus now I know many Taiwanese actors so this adds up to the fun 😄


4) Signal (Korea)


I used to mix this one up with another drama called ‘Sign’ 🤔 probably because they’re both about crime and investigation. I’ll end up watching both (obviously 🤓) but at the moment I find this one more intriguing. The plot reminds me of Frequency, I movie I loved when I was a kid. And generally I just enjoy Korean crime fiction.


5) Black & White (Taiwan)


This is a pretty ‘old’ drama from Taiwan (2009), but the plot is too appealing not to watch it anyway. It was nominated for and won a number of Golden Bell Awards. It reminds me of the buddy-cop movies of late 1980s like Tango and Cash (ok I’m going to stop drawing these comparisons with Western movies) that I used to enjoy, so I’m curious to see a Taiwanese version of the genre.


6) Bump Off Lover (Taiwan)


Ok this one sounds like super scary 😳 I hope is not going to be borderline between thriller and horror because I don’t do horror, like, NEVAH. I hope is going to be more a noir-suspence story, even though I really don’t know what to expect from it! (and that’s what makes watching it even more exciting)


7) Heartless City (Korea)


I’m pretty sure I read about this drama on one of the  LL blogs I follow, but I honestly can’t remember which one anymore. Anyway, another crime drama, yes. This is supposed to be a very dark rendering of the police system with corruption stories and twisted characters – something I’ve been intrigued about since I watched The Unjust last year. I don’t think I know any of the actors here so I’m also curious to find some new interesting star to stalk follow.


Even though here summer never really started, I still feel the excitement of the upcoming autumn season – which means sofa + blankets + drama/movie night, hot chocolate, soup in a mug and, especially, homemade pumpkin spice latte 😍

So for the drama list I’m all set, let’s start working on the pumpkin now. And the spices.

The Simple Life Project

I think I’ve tried to write this post at least 5 times, but each time I’ve felt like I wasn’t able to express exactly what I wanted to say.

So this is attempt No. 6, let’s see how it goes.

I think the simplest way to put it is that in the last 3/4 years I’ve grown tired of a number of things that are part of our everyday life and that we just assume have to be there.

I feel like very often I’m just surrounded by clutter, noise and interferences. I would like to do certain things, but I keep getting distracted by the stuff around me – both digital and physical.

I simply want things to get simpler in all areas of my life.

I’m not a minimalist and I’m kind of scared at the idea of associating myself with the concept. I’m a paper lover, a beauty products addict, a bookworm and a language learning junkie, there’s no way on earth I’m going to be a minimalist – starting from my bookshelf or my bathroom cabinet.

Plus every time that someone on the internet tries to put a label on him/herself the world shows up to point out the 10,000 reasons why he/she is not __ [fill in the blank] enough. I definitely don’t wanna go down that road.

But this doesn’t mean that I don’t want things to be simpler, and that’s why I prefer to express this concept as ‘simple life’. I don’t aspire to live in a all-white, essentialist environment – I simply want a clean and (as much as possible) clutter free space. I’m no innovator here, I’m just drawing inspiration from what’s going on around the world.

Most of all, I want time to dedicate to my real passions, like reading and studying languages [plus watching Asian dramas, of course]. Clutter sucks up my time like anything else in this world, time I could spend doing things that make my life more meaningful (while clutter always makes me feel bad about myself).

There are some things that I’ll need to purge. Even though I plan to remain a book, stationery and beauty products lover, I’m also aware that in the course of the years I’ve accumulated a lot of things that I like but seriously don’t need. Having too much has started weighing me down a lot, and tbh I perceive it as something inherently unethical.

I’m aware that the ‘buy only what you need’ mantra can quickly become a slippery slope as, honestly, how much of what we have do we really need? The lead I’m trying to follow here is not to reduce everything to the bare minimum but to cut on the wasteful surplus our consumerist society sells as essential and blissful.

In fact the first thing I’m trying to fight is the whole ‘holy retail therapy’ concept. Am I really going to feel better about myself by going into the store and coming out with 3 new mugs and a handful of gel pens? Won’t it be better to just sit in my lounge with a cup of tea and my favourite novel? Or even better, with my current language learning textbook? (especially since I always complain that I don’t have ‘enough time’ for studying Chinese etc. etc.).

So this is a new life-project of mine that is going to affect all areas of my life – in particular those in which I’ve accumulated the most:

  1. beauty products
  2. make up products
  3. pens and felt tip pens
  4. notebooks
  5. teas and herbal teas
  6. novels
  7. LL textbooks

I hope I’ll be able to use this blog as a way of keeping myself accountable so that I don’t make this another dead letter in my list of projects.


PS: As I finished typing this, I went over to the Filofax’s website to make use of a 20% discount I had 😓  I have a long way to go ahead of me.

PPS: In my defence, I can say that the last time I ordered something off Filofax was July, 2016. Still.

LL end-of-summer plan

I think I may have finally figured a simple and actionable plan to follow in order not to stop studying languages while I’m at home.

I identified two key points for a successful application of any study plan:
(1) study sessions have to be short
(2) resources have to be available at any time and any place

…. which basically means: no bulky textbooks, no A4 notebooks (or no notebooks at all), no 30+ coloured pens.

So these are the guidelines I’ve come up with.

Chinese (daily study)

  1. review 15 characters of RSH on Anki
  2. listen to one CC101 podcast and repeat the dialogue out loud

Japanese (daily study)

  1. listen to one JPod101 podcast and repeat the dialogue out loud
  2. update wordlists on Imi wa
  3. 10 min practice on Duolingo

I was thinking, maybe I could try doing Chinese in the morning and Japanese after dinnertime….? I’m usually not at my best at night as I’m definitely a morning person, but at the same time I don’t think I can manage to have 30 or plus minutes of LL study every morning in just one session. Splitting things up may make it easier to follow the plan.

I’m a bit worried because lately every time that I launch Imi wa on my phone it says that the app hasn’t been updated in a while and it may soon stop working altogether, which would leave me without a trustworthy Japanese dictionary on the go 😱 I also have a lot of saved words and lists on there, I would be very unhappy if I were to lose everything 😕

I’m pondering whether I should bring my Midori TN along – it’s very compact and discrete, but I don’t know how much grammar I’ll be able to review tbh – plus, I still have dozens of notebooks and other stuff I have to bring to my new apartment, and every little inch of space in my carry bag is more than precious. We’ll see.

I’m ending this post with a picture of a week or so ago, when I was finishing watching The Good Wife while having noodles for lunch. Total bliss!


Drama status: I’m now watching Goblin and I’m kind of loving it so far!

Summer TBR list

It’s so typical of me to write a list of books I want to read during summer when we’re already almost in October – it’s also very typical of me to plan to read a certain number of books I already know I won’t have time for.

Well, no big deal – honestly, I consider a tbr list more of an inspirational outlet than an actual reading plan. Don’t get me wrong, I love plans – it’s just that reading is not something you can really do with your brain. You have to actually feel like picking up that specific book, so my current reading choices may be different from those I’ll make in a month or so.

I’ve tried not to go overboard with the number of things to put on my list anyway. I’m going to have a busy end of summer so I’d rather play it safe. Since we are way into the season already, I had the time to finish one of the books and I’m in the process of reading another one –  so yeah, maybe I’ll be able to tick  a couple of items off the list before the season is over 😅


(1) Clifford D. Simak - City

This is the one book I finished, and it’s actually a third-time re-read for me. I love science fiction but, like fantasy, I’m often disappointed by books and movies of the genre. This is my all time favourite, a pivotal text everyone who loves sci-fi should read at least once in his/her life. Maybe twice.

(2) Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island

I read this one 5 or 6 years ago in translation, so I thought it was time to give the original version a go. I’ve been feeling a lot like going back to classics lately, and I would love to start with something clever and adventurous like this one. Plus I now live in Scotland so I have to be knowledgeable in Scottish writers as much as I can!

(3) Rudyard Kipling - The Jungle Book

Talking about classics, I figured I’ve actually never read the original novel (despite having watched a number of movies adaptations). I got this old version from a charity shop 6 years ago when I was living in London, and it has been sitting in my bookshelf for all these years. Time to brush it off.

(4) Richard Morgan - Altered Carbon

Apart from classics, these days I also feel a lot like reading cyberpunk stuff (maybe my interest was rekindled by the release of Ghost in the Shell movie – which I haven’t watched and don’t intend to). I poked into the nutritious bookcase of the significant other and I found this one that meets my needs just fine. I’m actually looking forward to becoming an expert in the field, so this is my first precious step in that direction.

(5) J. K. Rowling - HP and the Philosopher’s Stone (20th anniversary ed.)

Now, isn’t this 20th anniversary edition gorgeous. I actually craving for the other three versions as well, but for money and space reason this will have to do. I’ve been willing to re-read some HP goodies for a while now, and what better occasion than the release of a luxurious new edition?

(6) Jay Asher - 13 Reasons Why (eBook edition)

This is the teenager that is in me, I know. Usually I’m not particularly interested in the YA genre, but every once in a while I find something that intrigues me and that I’m curious to try out. Plus I’ve just finished watching Riverdale so I need something to keep me busy while I wait for season 2 release in October 🤣 For these kind of books I prefer the digital version as, even if I end up enjoying them, I don’t particularly care about having them in my bookshelf.


I’m not planning to bring any paper book back home so I don’t know how much progress I’ll be able to work on this list, but since summer officially ends on 22nd September I’ll still have some time once I come back to Scotland 😅


The future of my Chinese study

So. I finished The Book. What now?

Now, essentially, I’m on my own.

I have to start reviewing, of course, but that’s not going to be my focus – so I have to set up a system and a workflow.

I think that the first thing I should avoid it to be too specific in the kind of study routine I want to establish. Second, I have to restrain from putting too much on my plate (something I’m always guilty of). So basically I should follow two guidelines: flexibility and simplicity.

How will I ever do that? ☹️

Ok so, first, lists. There’s no point for me in making a study plan if I can’t make lists. HA!

So let’s jot down a couple of point and let’s see what I can get out of them.

(1) organise my LL resources once and for all

Internet is a beautiful place and I continuously stumble upon dozens of different resources – blogs, apps, podcasts, textbooks reviews and so on. I have them saved almost *everywhere* (Evernote, OneNote, Trello, Apple Notes, my paper planner) and without fail every time I need to retrieve I certain information I don’t know where to look. It’s clear that I have to find a univocal system to organise all of this, and maybe also re-evaluate the actual usefulness of certain resources [things change over time].

(2) review my grammar notes

After years (literally) of error and trial, this February I finally figured out a useful way of setting up a grammar notebook in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It was an attempt I made just the two weeks prior to HSK, and it worked out very well. I don’t want to go through the beginner’s textbook one more time to review all the grammar I have forgotten in these 3/4 months, so having a personal tool will prove extremely useful.

(3) listening, listening, listening… and repeating

HSK3 audio tracks scare the hell out of me, and my issues with listening practice is well known. Listening morning and night to the exam samples bore me to death – plus, it can be good practice for HSK’s sake, but not for your LL process overall. ChineseClass101 is still my best option at the moment – I know it’s flawed, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I know I can handle right now. And since I’m trying to learn the language as a whole, I should also force myself to repeat the dialogues out loud in order to practice pronunciation AND get used listening to myself speaking Mandarin. 

(4) index cards - an attempt

CC101 is not a huge resource for what concerns grammar (textbook are way better for this purpose), but sometimes they offer some insights that can be useful to remember. I don’t what to mix things up in my grammar notebook, so I think index cards can provide a more flexible tool in this case. Let’s try out something new for once and see how I like it.


I’m going home on the 22nd and won’t be back in Scotland until mid September, which is a bit meh. It’s not like I don’t like going home, it’s just that every visit ends up being 1. extremely long 2. extremely packed with things to do, and this disrupts my routines and good efforts immensely. It was the same thing back in May, I was doing well with RSH and then I disappeared for 25+ days and when I was back it was extremely difficult to get the focus and motivation back.

Well I guess one good exercise will be to try to keep up with a bare minimum of personal activities even while I’m away (like listening to a podcast episode every night), so that when I’m back I don’t feel like I have to do things all over again. 


Hello September


August review

August goals

August has been a good month for me. Despite this long home-visiting period, I’ve been able to find time for many things that I care about. I’ve been active on a couple of projects I had postponed for too long and overall I’ve been much more proactive than reactive. I has also been a period of many new ideas and inspirations that I want to implement during this fall season.

How I spent my time

Blog 26h23m;
Chinese 2h20m;
Productivity 25h16m;
Wellness 3h06m.

A lot of time spent blogging this month, something I had a lot of fun doing and I hope to keep going in the months ahead. Chinese is something I definitely intend to work on during this fall and winter season [more on that once I kame up my mind on what I truly want to accomplish before the end of 2017]. Yoga is another thing I want to be able to focus more.

How I spent my money

As expected, I had a few home-essential expenses to make at the beginning of August so I tried to be good for the rest of the month. I bought myself a new Filofax using an online-only discount, but apart from that I’ve restrained myself from unnecessary money leaks (I even avoided going to Primark in order not to spend on their new HP collection – I’ll pay them a visit in September though)

How I did with my Study

Language learning wasn’t a priority in the first half of the month, but later I’ve been more diligent in trying to make time for it almost everyday. I have to assess how much I’m actually progressing, and next month I want to draft a clearer study guide for my peruse.


I’ve watched an insanely high amount of tv series, long days of house cleaning playing their part. I’ve also started watching Korean drama Goblin (finally!). Thanks to a more favourable weekly schedule on the part of the significant other, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to reading before bed which in turn has given me the chance of enjoying a regular reading experience.


September’s goals

I only have half of the month available so I’ll try to avoid overdoing it

  1. make a clear and comprehensive list of all the things I want to do/start ding once I’m back in Scotland
  2. finish touring all the food spots on my list before leaving Italy (💜)
  3. prepare new homemade granola
  4. finish reading my cyberpunk novel
  5. plan all the goals I want to achieve before the end of 2017

Habit of the month : no habits this month =)

{Planner Maniac} One Book July 2017 review

It’s August already which means it’s time to wrap things up about the One Book July experience for 2017. Every year I learn something more about myself in terms of panning systems and preferences, and that’s why I like taking part in the challenge so badly.

For some weird reason, while it is a summer vacation kind of month for everyone else, for me July seems to be a quite busy (and somewhat life-changing) period for me, every single year. Which means

a) I need a functional planning system even more

b) I don’t have much time to dedicate to any other planner-related project

So basically during July I kind of set the ground for the things I would like to explore and expand in the following months (planner-wise). I will be moving again next year so this will definitely be a trend for 2018 as well!

This year too I’ve identified a couple of pivot points that are going to be the compass for my future decisions and set ups, but I also want to pinpoint a few open questions I’ll have to reflect upon in the next months:

  1. my current system works. I’ve been facing one of the worst planner slumps I ever had between September 2016 and March 201; things got a little better in April when I started experimenting with Strike Thru system – but I soon realised it just wasn’t enough for me. So at the end of May I deduced I needed the ‘structured flexibility’ that only a ring planner can provide me with, and I finally got to put my Filofax Boston Compact into use. I set it up with the GTD-inspired system I had experimented with back in September, and combined it with my Paperblanks Slim weekly diary – which has been the only constant bit in my planning process since February. Even thought there are still a few things I have to tweak (see below), it’s an easy, non-overlapping, trustworthy system. 
  2. I need lines. Everywhere. As much as I would love to have one of those amazing handwritings I actually don’t, and having to write in plain paper makes things even worse. This is why the Paperblanks has been a real deal breaker for me, and why things with the Muji planner didn’t work out. So lined, grid or dotted paper, but no blank.
  3. paper brain dump is key. I don’t know why I didn’t do this before (I had not designed a brain dump section in my first experience with GTD back in September), because it’s a real game changer. I still type quick notes on my phone when I’m out and about but jotting down ideas in a trusted place where I know there’re gonna be re-read and revised (instead of just sitting there for millennia) is huge for me. It doesn’t simply help reducing the pressure on my mind but it also ensures I actually take action on those ideas, evaluating and sorting them at the right time. Amazing.
  4. open question No. 1: how should I organise my weekly/dailies? (and my monthlies as well, but those are less urgent). I have a section for daily pages in my Filofax that are just grid papers I normally use in bullet-journal style. But this often doesn’t work out well, so in July I started playing more with my trusted digital apps (Trello and Wunderlist). I liked it but after a while I felt the need to go back to paper (unsurprisingly),though I don’t have a new system in mind that could work better than bullet journal at the moment. I use my Paperblanks weekly pages for appointments, due dates and time-bound activities – and I want it to stay that way, I definitely don’t want to mess it up with to dos and tasks. So in this regard I’m back at the starting point.
  5. open question No. 2: should I be bold with my planner again? Now that I know my system works, should I start incorporating new bits in it? Or this is exactly the way to go back to planner slump? I found a few ladies on YouTube that have given me a lot of inspirations/ideas lately + I know I tend to get bored after a while if I keep using always the same inserts. So I would like to find simple ways of introducing small novelties to keep me interested, without altering the system itself significantly.

One of the ‘side effects’ of One Book July is that it always awakens the planner passion in me, so I guess I’ll give it even more energy during August and I expect myself to be more proactive in implementing new planner uses and strategies 📒


Hello August


July review

July goals

July was mostly suck up by the move and everything related to it, but I managed to accomplish a few personal goals nonetheless. The main highlight was of course finishing Remembering Simplified Hanzi, something I’m still gloating over tbh 😛 I’ve also worked on my routines (especially my morning ritual), taken part in the One Book July challenge and finished watching two Asian dramas (yay!). Finally, July has been the month of our amazing trip di Edinburgh, which I can’t wait to blog about!

How I spent my time

Blog 10h38m;
Chinese 1h32m;
Productivity 51h13m;
Wellness 5h28m.

All activities suffered from a decrease of dedicated time since I had to spend most of my days packing first, and unpacking later. I’m still happy about the way I actually used the free time I was given though.

How I spent my money

New house always means new stuff needed, so July was mostly focused on that (and I think August will follow along the lines). I also spent a good chunk of money during my Edinburgh trip, both on eating out and books (especially related to language learning). I will definitely have to be more tight with my finances next month in order to balance things up. No beauty or stationery purchases though – I’m behaving!

How I did with my Study

Again, not so much time to dedicate to Chinese and other stuff this month. But I’m pretty happy I at least accomplished something, plus I have to say I’ve been quite diligent in using my spare time wisely. Now that I’m done with the project I have to reinvent my self-study process, which is both intriguing and kind of scary.


There were a few fine-weather days in July and I’m happy to say I found ways to enjoy them (like going to the park to read one of my fav novels). We also made the most of our last days in A., going to our fav cafes, bookshops and pubs in town.
In July I finished reading the entire Avalon book series plus the above mentioned novel; I also completed watching A good wife (Taiwanese drama) and The good wife (Korean drama).

August’s goals

August is going to be yet another going-home month so I’ll just keep it simple:

  1. finish buying essential home forniture (mainly: bookshelf, desk and chairs)
  2. display all my language learning books, novels, planners and notebooks on the above mentioned new shelf (💜)
  3. read one paper and one digital novel
  4. select a few things in my wardrobe that can be discarded

Habit of the month : apply foot balm every night!


Remembering The Hanzi / 看书好了!!!

I. Freaking. Did. It.

I’m done! I’ve finished the book! ヤッタ!

All 55 damn lessons completed. I don’t think I can even start to express how happy and relieved I feel.

I started this project more than a year ago. A year and five months ago, to be precise. It’s been a very long time, and honestly I’m much surprised I managed to be consistent and keep up with the project (even though at different paces throughout this last year) for such an extended period of time.

Especially considering how boring and non-linguistic the whole process is.

2017 has unexpectedly resulted in a very satisfactory year language-learning wise, starting with HSK in February. I don’t think I’ll hit any other milestone this year, as the plan for this second part of 2017 is preparation for HSK3 (February 2018?) and retrieve of Japanese study.

I know this is just the beginning. The beginning of the beginning, probably. Time to see whether this fuss was well worth the effort.

So tonight I’m celebrating with wonton soup and chow mein (on their way right now) + the last episode of The Good Wife Korean!

(There’s a bit of language promiscuity going on here, but if you’re an Asian lover like me I’m sure you totally get me XD)