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Archive for the ‘consumerism’ Category

wants & needs

ImageAn illustrated look at all the wildly expensive crap that i want want want want!!

Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots, suede $598
diptyque L’Ombre dans l’Eau Eau de Parfum $140
Chikuhodo Z-9 grey squirrel powder brush 16,800 JPY
Vita Fede Mini Titan Bracelet $225
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum $125
Givenchy Medium Antigona, pebbled leather $2435
Three Special Kit 2013 10,500 JPY
Givenchy Le Rouge in 103, 203, 303, 311 $36

As it gets closer to Christmas, boxes addressed to me begin arriving at my parents house as I start my mad dash to “save money” by buying “cheap stuff” in America. Givenchy lipstick is 8 dollars cheaper than buying it here! Look at those savings! But if I never needed it in the first place, I guess it’s not technically saving??

Anyway I did buy myself the boots after wanting them for at least as long as it takes to create, birth, and raise a small child. I might get one of the perfumes, and just the Three cleansing oil at DFS since the Christmas set, as I was told by a snooty (or incredulous?) counter lady, it sold out “basically in a day.” Maybe a lipstick. Definitely not the bag. (This Céline or this monster Fendi would work though, too.) Try to retain a semblance of a budget, ofc.

Tomorrow is my last day of work, then a weekend with my man and BIG BANG, then off to California to catch some rays (ha) and pick up all my self-presents. Plus maybe some granola and cheese if I can fit it in my suitcase. I’ve never looked forward to a holiday more than this !!! This has been a very mentally exhausting year and I hope that 2014 will be less everything. (Except shopping.)

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Awkwardly clearing throat. Hey!

So what have I been doing in my blogging absence? I would typically say “nothing” but I actually have been doing some stuff. I’ve been baking a bit. I bought a bread machine and have made lots of bread. Lots of lumpy, weird bread, but it all tastes good so whatever. Last month Noji and I started jogging in the morning and we’ve logged 45km/28 miles already. We’ve watched a lot of TV. I think I’ve seen every L&O SVU from seasons 1-8 at least 3 times over now. That’s pretty much the norm for me, though.

Baking is fun and easy but cooking can go either way, especially when I read American-based recipes that are like “grab some quinoa pasta and kale from your local grocery..” and it’s basically a big list of stuff that I cannot easily buy. I mean I guess kale is sold somewhere here. Wikipedia tells me it’s called “keeru.” But if I can’t find it at Seijo Ishii, it might as well not exist. Anyway, mentally calculating the cost/effort involved in just getting all the ingredients I need for something and I’ve already given up. Japan is also not really health-conscious the same way that America is, less obsession with whole grains (bleached, thick slices of Wonder bread the norm), trans-fats (no full nutritional info on boxes so who knows what’s in what), no weird gluten free junk or agave nectar for sweetening or whatever. So the point of view is a bit different too.

Since moving here, though, I’ve come across plenty of resources to get me through a lot of the needs/wants from Back Home, which helps reduce the amount of crazy spending sprees whenever I set foot on American soil. If anyone is curious, these are my supplements to shopping here:

Food:
iHerb.com – (WordPress won’t let me link directly to it but that’s the address.) This site is a godsend, for reasons mentioned above– it’s got all the hippie-dippy American-style health food/supplements/beauty items that are missing here. What did I do without this site until now??? I’ve made two orders in like 10 days. 4 dollars for shipping to Japan up to 30 pounds, comes in 3-5 days. Prices are equivalent or cheaper than buying in America. Some stuff can’t be sent to Japan (flour, quinoa, ghee, pretty much anything with vanilla in it, some supplements etc.) but they’ll tell you when you try to check out. I have a coupon code for $10 off new customers (HTC502) which I’m guessing is what is making WP all pissy about linking to the site. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

572310.com – This is not import food but a Japanese site with bulk grains, dried fruits, nuts etc. including organic options. They have a good selection of different flours with the ash and protein content listed. It’s more on the expensive side but I like all the options, especially for bread baking.

We also hit up brick-and-mortar international groceries sometimes — Seijo Ishii and Kaldi mostly. Kaldi sells some delicious massaman curry roux in a box. FBC and The Flying Pig are options I’ve never used but have a better selection of more typical American-style groceries than anything listed above.

Beauty:
StrawberryNET – HE makeup, skin care, and perfume. I’ve used them for makeup and skincare and they’re not bad. They’re kind of like an online cosmetic outlet and have a lot of brands that aren’t available in Japan. Prices have gone up significantly since the yen weakened though.

iBeautyhouse – Same thing as SNET, nearly the same stock and price, interface is all in Japanese.

Cosme Cosme / Cosme Link – Local (Japan) Rakuten shops, HE cosmetics/skin care usually around 10-30% off Japanese retail. Usually ships next day.

Mariposa – Nail polish! Essie, Zoya, OPI, ORLY, Jessica, Nubar, lots of treatments and topcoats. Shipping is based on how many bottles but anything over 9,900 JPY is free shipping. I remember requesting a Zoya color that wasn’t on the website, so even if it’s not there doesn’t mean it’s not available. Looks like they’re now selling Butter London at a slightly inflated price.

e-yume USA – Also nail polish. Prices are more or less the same as Mariposa, stock is similar but I think Mariposa has a bigger range and maybe Mariposa’s shipping is slightly faster. I usually pick depending on the promotion running.

Nordstrom – A lot of American department stores ship internationally now and include shipping, duties, and taxes at check-out, so you don’t buy some leather shoes and realize you need to pay like 200 dollars in duties once they get here. Shipping is expensive (~30 USD?) but depending on what you’re getting it can be worth it (expensive bags? limited edition America-only makeup?). Not all brands are available to ship internationally but most are.

Everything else:

My mom – Anything I can’t get on the internet, I ask my mom to send me. :*

Alternatively, you can eat fish and beans and pickled daikon and live like a Japanese granny with no external wants in the world, but I unfortunately know how good ranch dressing is so that option is over for me. Am I missing anything?

PS IT IS SO HOT, I CAN’T BELIEVE I GOT THROUGH THIS WHOLE POST WITHOUT MENTIONING THAT

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I’m going home on Wednesday to see my gramma! I wish the circumstances were better, but there’s never a bad time to go home. (I have a 4 hour layover in LAX on my way back, all alone with duty free shopping. Terrifying.)

It’s been two weeks since my last confession: my latest obsession is Hakuhodo makeup brushes.

I’m quick to get frustrated at the markup for Western brands in Japan– the arguably useless Jurlique rose spray that I begrudgingly like is 60USD here! It’s literally half the price in America– and really the only way to avoid having a full-on rage blackout is by buying Japanese brands. The stupid thing is we’re actually still paying more (here’s another example: Cle de Peau concealer is 74USD in Japan, 70USD in the US even though it’s a Japanese brand), but I think that this notion that makeup = expensive is so engrained here that you can’t really escape it anyway. When Burt’s Bees lipbalm costs 6 bucks, you know there is no longer logic involved. I really should stop doing these calculations.

To make a long story short, I needed new makeup brushes and my mind immediately jumped to MAC, the sort of classic go-to brand for brushes. Like most stuff though, the brushes were marked up around 50% of the US price. A bit of googling for other options brought me to Hakuhodo, a brand I’d heard of in the past, but assumed was too expensive and never pursued further. Going on the website and seeing all the different collections and number of brush variations totaling over 550 (!!), I was instantly overwhelmed but the kind people on the internet have already gone through the trouble of buying and reviewing most of them, so I read, and read, and took notes (literally) and went to the small counter at Ikebukuro’s Tobu department store.

Hakuhodo brushes really are a work of art, handmade from different animal hair (primarily goat, blue squirrel, horse, weasel) in every shape you could ever imagine or need. Everyone talks about how soft they are, but they are so soft. They range in price from ~10 dollars to ~200 dollars depending on the type of hair and handle, but the vast majority are very reasonable for the quality. I’ll probably go through individual reviews on feedyourface eventually, but after getting the B110 blush brush at their tiny department store counter, I went the next week to their boutique in Omotesando which has nearly all their brushes and bought 3 more. So luxe! And yet, cheaper than anything I would have got at MAC.

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con$umeri$m

Today was packed with DELIVERIES and LAUNDRY. It howled wind and rain most of the day and dropped back to 45F/8C degrees, not suitable for doing much but roll around the house. Theoretically it’s nearly sakura season but Noji and I don’t drink or really go outside when not totally necessary so we don’t really do hanami. I feel like admitting this could get my visa revoked so let’s keep it on the downlow.

Anyway, back to the deliveries part: Noji and my wedding bands (oop kinda late), some Makeup Forever primer I’ve yet to use yet, and a case for my Kindle. Noji’s ring was too big though so back it goes. CONSUMERISM TIME

I loooove the Tiffany shared setting band but the pricetag is genuinely obscene (~7000USD in Japan for the half carat band in platinum, gorl are you insane?) so I purchased the same style online through a Pricescope-approved retailer in NYC for a relative steal. I don’t want to wear a band with my solitaire so this will be a RHR. (ps best diamond lighting in Tokyo: combinis and Starbucks.)

After getting my Kindle touch, I knew I needed to get a case (it bounces around in my work bag and so far has been fine but I’m not sure how durable the screen is) so I went to etsy looking for a cute sleeve with a real button instead of the more common button/loop ones. I ended up purchasing this one from this shop despite my issues with bicycles (another visa revokable offense??):
Very cute and arrived in a week. Now to find a new series to fill the hole Hunger Games has left in me.

I feel like all I’ve done for the last three months is come home from work and spend spend spend, especially on beauty products. Is this boredom? It must be.

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hello coat

Noji and I went out shopping for a coat for him, but I ended up getting this at sunaokuwahara:

If only it was warm enough to wear it! I am so sick of you, winter.

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tgif!!!

It’s been about a week since I got my new phone and I finally know most of the things that it does! It is pretty overwhelming going from the totally inflexible Japanese keitai to the customizable-in-almost-all-ways Android phone. On the other hand, being a slave to the Tokyo Metro, I can’t really use it to its full extent on my commute, thanks to intermittent signals in the tunnels. It is like a rush to load as many webpages, send as many texts etc. as you can in the 30 seconds that the train pulls into each station. Supposedly they’re trying to change this (please do!) but until then, I feel I’m missing out on its full potential. (Of course, I’ve already loaded the WordPress application on it!)

Anyway, I am apparently on the opposite plan as Jen B. and her “no frivolous spending” rule, as along with my new phone, I also bought a new wallet– a fancy schmancy wallet at that. Behold, the unveiling.

Fully unnecessary and I love it.

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