Outsiders in Okinawa: Sakura at Mount Yaedake

It’s been a while since I’ve written an Outsiders in Okinawa post, but I figured cherry blossoms were the perfect way to get back in the groove! Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are kind of a big deal in Japan. Cherry blossoms are in bloom for a very short period of time, and as such are symbolic of the ephemeral nature of life—embodied in the Japanese phrase mono no aware, meaning the pathos of things, and referring to the heightened appreciation for lively beauty and sadness at its impermanence. Millions flock to different parts of Japan every spring to catch the flowers in their notoriously unpredictable prime. They bloom earliest on Okinawa because of how far south the island is located, typically flowering in mid to late January. Cherry blossoms then bloom across mainland Japan, making an appearance in Tokyo in March and blooming in Hokkaido as late as April. We visited Mt. Yae (or Yaedake), home of Sakura no Mori Park and thousands of sakura trees, to partake in hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. Mt. Yae is north of Nago near Motobu, so if you live near Camps Kinser and Foster or Kadena Air Base, be prepared for a drive. There are several different entrances to the park, but I’ll include a pin for the spot we went to off of the Expressway and Route 58. You’ll come across a small bakery selling fresh bread and mikan juice (so good!), and you can either continue driving or park and walk through the rest of the park.

 


Cherry blossoms line the roads leading up to Mt. Yae’s summit.

Cherry blossoms range in color from white to vibrant reddish-pink.

Shisa representing (from left to right) good relationships, health, wish fulfillment, safety & prosperity, and mental achievement.
Sakura ice cream is a fun, festive treat to try! Even in the rain. ☔️
sakura
Contrary to what Bath & Body Works may have led you to believe, these cherry blossoms have virtually no smell!

It’s free to enter Mt. Yae, but I highly recommend bringing yen for fun sakura-themed treats being sold in booths along the road. There are bathrooms and vending machines throughout the park, and there are other attractions as well—a small shrine, a large playground, and views of Motobu and Ie Island. If hanami isn’t on your Okinawa bucket list, it should be! You don’t want to miss these stunning flowers in bloom. | xo

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2017 Beauty Favorites + GIVEAWAY!

Hey y’all and welcome to 2018! I love reflecting on the trials, accomplishments, and lessons learned at the end of each year, and it was fun for me to look back on all of the adventures 2017 brought my way. From Taiwan to Korea to Thailand to the USA and back to Okinawa, I covered a lot of ground and made so many memories. I also like to evaluate the products I have in my collection and decide what I should keep, what I should toss, and what I should repurchase. Every year, I write a favorites blog about the standout products of the year before. So without further ado, here are my 10 beauty favorites (plus a bonus shoe fave!) from 2017, and if you make it to the bottom, you’ll have a chance to win one of them! All I ask is that you follow my blog and leave a comment with one of your resolutions or favorite products 😊

Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her Eau de Toilette / Fragrances are very personal, but I loooove this ultra-feminine perfume! It’s floral without being stuffy, sweet without sending middle school flashbacks, and woodsy while maintaining its femininity. I wear this daily and frequently get compliments. Not gonna lie, I just dabbed some on my wrists just to smell it. Mmmm…< a href=”http://tartecosmetics.com/en_US/makeup/face/concealer/shape-tape-contour-concealer/836.html?dwvar_836_color=tan&cgid=makeup-face-concealer#start=1&#8243; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Light Sand / Let’s be real. This concealer basically broke the internet in 2017. According to Tarte, one of these beautiful babies is sold every 20 seconds. If you haven’t tried Tarte Shape Tape, get on it, because this stuff is amazing. It’s full coverage without being detectable, and you get a significant amount of product (10 ml)–I purchased this in July and am still using it daily in January. No drugstore concealer (even my favorites!) can top this, and it’s 100% worth the splurge.

Too Faced Sweet Peach Papa Don’t Peach Blush / I think the only blush I’ve consistently recommended on my blog is Benefit’s Dallas. I have a little confession to share about that…I’ve barely used it at all since purchasing this blush 🙈. Papa Don’t Peach is still bronzey and natural-looking, but it brightens up your face in a way Dallas can’t. It smells just like Too Faced’s other peach items, and you get 9g of product, so it’ll last a while even with daily use. Plus, I can’t get past the freakin’ adorable packaging!

Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil with Argan and Coconut Oils / People with oily skin tend to be afraid of facial oils and oil cleansers, but they’re actually beneficial for all skin types! Some oils can even regulate sebum production 😍 This Burt’s Bees oil cleanser is actually my favorite of the several I’ve tried, which is surprising considering it contains coconut oil, which breaks me out on its own. I use this to remove my makeup before cleansing, and I can’t get over how well it removes my makeup or how soft it leaves my skin. I’ve pretty much ditched makeup wipes for this, AND it hasn’t broken me out!

Sexy Hair Vibrant CC Hair Perfector / After getting highlights sometime mid-year, I felt my hair start to ride the struggle bus. It was stringy, lifeless, and a little straw-like. I picked this up on a whim and OMG. After just one night of using it, my hair was radically different. I became an instant believer. This product makes your hair so soft, and it smells delish!

wet n wild Photo Focus Foundation / So, can we talk about how this foundation is less than $6? 👀 It’s medium-full coverage, so smooth, super lightweight, and DAMN. It just plain makes your face look fabulous. I like it best when applied with a damp sponge, and the coverage is buildable at pretty much all levels. So whether you want a flawless full-coverage face, or a sheer wash of even coverage, this foundation can do it for you. I bought it enough to buy a shade for each level of the fake-tanning cycle. That’s commitment.

Tarte Cosmetics Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara / I’m about to make a bold statement. I think this is my holy grail mascara. Yep, I said it. Why is no one talking about this?! I had never even heard of it until I saw it mentioned in one of Tarte’s Instagram stories. I ordered it at random during a points promotion for platinum members on Ulta.com and my lashes have never been the same. This mascara does everything I wish Too Faced’s Better than Sex mascara did. It gives you tons of length, medium volume, and won’t flake or smear throughout the day. I have excessively watery eyes, and this has never run. I even tested it with actual tears once. Still no running. Do your lashes a favor and buy this. Oh, and supposedly it also nourishes your lashes and stuff 🤷🏼

Origins Original Skin Renewal Serum with Willowherb / If you have textured skin and/or large pores, this serum is a must-have. It doesn’t have the consistency of a serum, it’s more like a gel moisturizer, and it absorbs right into your skin. Origins claims this serum will solve your skin’s quarter life crisis, and I think they’re right. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the texture of my skin, and I think my pores are slowly starting to look smaller as well. My skin’s usually pretty dull as well, and this gives me a glow without making me shiny or dewy.

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips All-In-1 Custom Nude Palette / Hi, my name is Shelbie and I’m a snooze alarm addict. So, basically, a stoplight-styled messy bun, exta-shot latte, and 10-minute face are my workweek staples. I need versatile products I can take on the go, and it’s always a bonus if they’re inexpensive. Thataylaa has raved about this palette for forever, but I only purchased it a few months ago. The palette is made up of 12 shimmery shades, ranging from ivory to pale pink to copper to bronze. I frequently use the four top-left shades swirled together as a higlight on my cheekbones, nose, and browbones, with one of the light pink shades on my lids and the darkest shade in my crease. It’s also stunning all swirled together and topped over your blush. If you like shimmer, I’m confident this can be a short-on-time staple for you, too!

Toms Women’s Majorca Cutout Sandal, Taupe Suede / This is my bonus fave. And you’re probably eye-rolling at the fact that I’m recommending a pair of TOMS heels, but stay with me. These are my daily go-to work shoes. I can dress them up with ankle-length trousers or dress them down with jeans, and they are SO. DAMN. COMFORTABLE. Seriously. I walk about 2 miles a day on my lunch at work, and I can comfortably walk that in these shoes without any pain or blistering. I don’t even think I can do that in my running shoes, tbh. The heel is high enough to enhance your legs, but low enough to prevent you from eating pavement. They are well worth the investment and I’ve already purchased a backup pair. (BTW they’re as low as $45 on Amazon right now and retail for $130!)

Because I love these products so much, I want to share one of them with you! Enter my Amazon Giveaway to win a Vibrant Sexy Hair CC Hair Perfector here . Don’t forget to subscribe to wisconsinwhimsy and comment your resolution or favorite product below!

Happy new year! xo, Shelbie | By the way, I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website, although all opinions stated here are my own. Your purchase helps support my little space on the internet, and I’m grateful for it.

The Perfect Wedding Won’t Make Your Marriage Better

Imagery courtesy of Taylor & Jordan Snyder

Wives, fiancées, and single romantics: have you ever flipped through a copy of The Knot in an airport bookstore thinking to yourself, “Wow, I wish I had $10 to buy this gigantic magazine so that I could pretend to be interested in it and avoid awkward small talk with the stranger in seat 5A for the next 5 hours?” No? Just me? Maybe you were thinking something more along the lines of, “This is my dream wedding.”

I’m starting to get to the age where more and more friends of mine are tying the knot. And I am so unbelievable happy for them to embark on that journey of love. I was at a party a while ago, and some of the fellow party-goers thought it was really sweet I was already married, and someone asked me, “What kind of wedding did you have?” It threw me off at first, because I couldn’t exactly figure out what she was asking. Did she want to know if I had a big wedding, eloped, was Jewish, did the whole cowboy boots and sunflowers thing or the elegant cathedral, or maybe all of the above? I wasn’t sure. So I told her that I  had a smallish wedding and described my venue and events. She thought it was cute.  We moved on.

But the question stuck with me. I’ve been asked about my wedding many times without being asked about my husband or our relationship—just the wedding. I know some of you are eye-rolling and thinking that I’m reading way too far into the question, which is kind of the truth, but stick with me, because I’m thinking less about the question and more about the wedding culture that has pushed us to have bigger and spendier weddings than ever before. According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $35,329. THAT IS AN ENTIRE YEAR’S SALARY FOR MANY PEOPLE. On one day. A day that most brides only remember vaguely through the wedding photographs they receive a month or two later.

My wedding was a lot of things, but it wasn’t the greatest day of my life. Yes, I vowed to be a faithful, loving, and humble wife, and accepted my husband’s promise to be those things for me too. But we’d already promised those things to each other long before we dressed up and did it in front of a pastor. Yes, we had beautiful photographs taken (insert plug for Jay and Tay Photography here), celebrated with family and friends, and loved the experience. Those memories are special. I think my wedding was beautiful and I am deeply indebted to all of the wonderful people who tirelessly worked to help me pull it off. But I heard several remarks throughout my wedding planning process about if I wanted to do this, or if I was planning on doing that. How much was my dress, had I seen all of the beautiful weddings on Pinterest? I needed to get my flowers from this place, and my guests would be bored if I played my own music rather than hire a DJ (Because the Cha Cha Slide is so entertaining…eye roll).

The most important thing Alex and I did on our wedding day was get married. And we could have done that in jeans and t-shirts at the county courthouse for $100.

So why did we plan a wedding? Like most people, we wanted to take part in that tradition. We wanted a Christian ceremony. We wanted to celebrate our love with friends and family, and I watch too much Say Yes to the Dress to not have wanted a wedding gown.

My message here is not that you should skimp out on your wedding day if a blow out wedding is what you really want. My point is that you should take a step back from the stress and pressure of planning such a huge party to remember that you’re not planning this party for the future pictures, for the opportunity to be featured in a magazine, for bragging rights, or even for the guests in attendance. You’re planning it for you and your husband (or wife!). You’re planning it because you want to get married. And you can get married anywhere, in any clothes, on any budget, and it’s not going to change how you feel about each other.

You can have the most beautiful, whimsical, breathtaking wedding ceremony in the world and it will not set the precedence for a happy marriage. Because the only things that can make a marriage happy are the two people in it. So drink in all of the fun of wedding planning and the memories that come with it, but keep in mind what’s really important, and hint, it isn’t your wedding, it’s your marriage.  — ♡

How I’ve Been Treating My Acne

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’re familiar with my acne-prone, sensitive, oily skin. I feel like I’ve tried an endless flood of skincare regimens from the drugstore, from high-end brands, from gimmicky infomercials (cough, Proactiv). I’ve tried exercising more often, drinking more water, getting more sleep, hormonal birth control, a cocktail of antibiotics and a handful of prescription topicals. (Haven’t tried that viral charcoal face mask, though, and don’t count on that ever happening) If you’ve dealt with stubborn acne before, you can understand that the struggle is real. I’ve spent a crazy amount of time and money trying to feel less insecure about my skin, an unsuccessful endeavor until recently.

Moving to Okinawa was not kind to my skin – I don’t know if it was the stress of an international move, adjusting to the climate or both, but my skin really did not like moving here! The photo on the left was taken in late November and the photo on the right was taken in March of this year. Crazy, right??? I feel like I may be jinxing myself just by posting this. If you can believe it, I actually reduced my skincare regimen to just THREE steps 😱 I know. You’re probably thinking I’m about to go multi-level marketing on you (I’m not) or that it’s unrealistic given the transformation of my skin, but it’s the real deal. I do occasionally add steps as needed, like masks or a night cream, depending on my skin’s condition, but I try to keep it simple on a daily basis.

  1. Wash // Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash // $22 @ Origins
    • I use this with my Clarisonic at night and usually skip this step in the morning and go straight to toner.
    • My skin has never felt dry or tight while using this cleanser. I’m low-key obsessed.
  2. Tone // The Body Shop Pomegranate Invigorating Toner // $15.50 @ The Body Shop
    • This toner surprisingly feels moisturizing and removes any impurities my cleanser didn’t wash away. Bonus: it smells good.
  3. Moisturize + Treat // This step consists of the following two products combined:
    • Holika Holika 99% Aloe Soothing Gel // $8 from Amazon
      • I got this for free with other Holika Holika purchases while in Korea, but you can find it on Amazon and MemeBox for a reasonable price!
    • Plant Therapy Zit Fighter Synergy // $15 @ Plant Therapy
      • I mentioned this in my last blog!
      • This is an undiluted essential oil blend of geranium bourbon, pink grapefruit, cedarwood deodara, peppermint, rosemary, Roman chamomile. You must dilute it to use it safely!

I emptied the entire tube of aloe gel into a separate container and added 10-15 drops of the essential oil blend. I apply it every morning and evening with a cotton ball and voila! My skin has never been clearer or more balanced. I started to see results within a few days of using the Zit Fighter Synergy and I’m so grateful that I took a chance on it after reading reviews. It has a bit of a strong smell and will make your eyes water if you apply it too close to the eye area, but I don’t mind the odor. And I can handle the occasional accidental eye stinging if my skin looks this fab all the time! I feel much more comfortable wearing BB cream or even going foundation-free than I ever have before. The aloe/oil combo doesn’t make me oily, either. I actually feel like it balances my skin and makes it less oily! I’ve also noticed that my skin redness has been significantly reduced as well. After 12 years of dealing with acne, I’m incredibly thankful for a break.

I should also add that I got a shower head filter, which I also believe helped with the rapid reduction of my acne. I got the Zit Fighter Synergy and the filter on the same mail day, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship 😅 I purchased the CaptainEco 8-Step Advanced Shower Filter from Amazon for $30 and highly recommend it if your household water is treated with chlorine. It’s helped my skin and my hair.

I still have occasional minor blemishes, but the majority of the marks remaining on my face are scars. I recently picked up Boots Vitamin C Smoothing Serum (sadly only available in Thailand, so I’ll try not to get too attached to it!) in hopes it might help fade them. If you have recommendations for scar-fading skin care products, please let me know in the comments!

Wishing you well,

xx Shelbie

 

Plant Therapy Haul

Happy Fri-YAY!

As we spring into Spring, I’ve decided to spend more time making our home feel like an inviting, comfortable, and restful space. Over the next month or so, I plan to eliminate unnecessary clothes and shoes from our closets, purge our pantry of old food, and rearrange some furniture. I also want to stop burning candles and wax melts, which cover up household smells (read: I have a dog) with a strong fragrance. Diffusers are relaxing to watch, and the scents don’t give me headaches or leave the air feeling stuffy.

My husband got me an adorable wooden diffuser as a gift, and it’s been dormant for the last few months. I’ve been burning candles and wax melts, but diffusing gives that “clean air” feeling rather than a strong artificial fragrance. I wouldn’t say I’m sold on the essential oil lifestyle, but I do use and enjoy them.

I buy pretty much exclusively from Plant Therapy for several reasons: they have great customer service, fast shipping, quality oils, reasonable prices, transparent testing, and certified aromatherapists. I don’t support Young Living or DoTerra on the basis of their misleading business practices (therapeutic grade means nothing and neither does seed to seal 😱) and lack of credible consultants. Anyone can invest money and become a consultant for those companies, meaning they aren’t required by DoTerra or Young Living to be certified aromatherapists or experts on the safe use of essential oils. As a result, consultants have given out incredibly dangerous and unsafe advice, something I experienced firsthand from a DoTerra consultant. I strongly encourage you to research any company you buy essential oils from in depth, because it’s a relatively unregulated market and it’s hard to make sure you’re buying unadulterated and reasonably priced oils no matter where you buy. I personally love Plant Therapy, but Mountain Rose Herbs and Edens Garden are also companies I trust.

Since I’m trying to stray away from candles/wax melting, I bought a handful of new oils to use and diffuse this spring! Previously, I had pretty much only diffused lavender. I’m most excited to diffuse the Worry Free Synergy, which smells so incredibly amazing and inviting. I’ve also got a blog in the works about the Zit Fighter Synergy specifically (hint: it’s amazing!).

  • Let It Go Synergy // $11.95 // tangerine, ylang ylang, patchouli, sweet orange, blue tansy
  • Worry Free Synergy // $14.95 // lavender, marjoram, ylang ylang, sandalwood, vanilla CO2, roman chamomile
  • Zit Fighter Synergy // $14.99 // geranium bourbon, pink grapefruit, cedar wood deodars, peppermint, rosemary, roman chamomile
  • Citrus Burst Synergy // $7.95 // grapefruit, lemon, lime, may chang, mandarin, sweet orange
  • Lucky Synergy // limited edition // bergamot, steam distilled lime, spearmint


What are your favorite essential oil blends/companies to buy from and why? Let me know in the comments!

Much love,

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Try It Tuesday | I Dyed My Birkenstocks

Three years ago, I bought my first pair of Birkenstock sandals—the Granada style in “Tobacco Brown.” I was in love with those shoes…until the oiled leather deteriorated and they looked weirdly flesh toned against my fair complexion. Birkenstocks are a classic shoe, one that I think should be in everyone’s closet. They’re comfortable, supportive, and the perfect casual summer (or winter—I’d be lying if I said I’ve never worn mine with wool socks like the dirtbag hippie I am) sandal. Don’t knock them until you try them. And the soft footbed is worth the extra money.

Alas, my ride or die relationship with my Granadas began to fade over the last year. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably aware of my former addiction to fake tanning (the UV ray-less kind). I’ve given it up since living in Okinawa, because my beloved Fake Bake Flawless can’t be delivered due to shipping restrictions. As a result, I’ve been trying to embrace my fair, yellow-undertoned skin—which unfortunately looks really weird against the pale tobacco hued leather of my Birkenstocks, so I stopped wearing them.

I’m not one to toss out a $135 pair of sandals, though, so I did some thinking. Can you dye leather/suede at home? I took to Google and found some blogs about dyeing suede shoes, although none specific to Birkenstocks. A few mentioned a product called Fiebing’s Suede Dye, available on Amazon. Naturally, I impulse bought it. (Eight months ago…it’s taken me this long to gather the courage to follow through with this project!) Photo reviews on Amazon were super helpful, and saved me from buying a really icky shade of brown. I highly recommend going through each shade available and trying to find photo reviews to get a true representation of how the color takes. It’s also really important to remember that whatever dye you choose will look different depending on what the starting shade of your shoes are. Don’t expect cool-toned blue leather to take a warm-brown dye and look like my end result. I settled on “Medium Brown” because it was the closest to the Birkenstock shade “Habana,” my goal color.

Let’s talk about the rest of the supplies you’ll need: a workspace, preferably covered in newspaper or something you don’t mind permanently staining; nitrile disposable gloves (the dye will stain your hands…forever); painter’s tape; an old toothbrush; shoes.

birkies copy

The first step is to cover any surface you aren’t dyeing with painter’s tape to protect it. At first I almost considered only covering the footbed with painter’s tape, but I’m really glad I wrapped the whole shoe. The dye has a watery consistency and dripped everywhere. So keep that in mind when you’re wrapping your shoes—I know some people like to dye the sole along with the shoe, but if that’s not what you’re going for then definitely wrap the whole thing.

Next, you’ll take the dry toothbrush and brush out the suede to loosen any debris. I had a bunch of sand leftover from last summer embedded in my shoe. Classy.

Cover your hands with the gloves, shake the bottle of dye, and grab the wool dauber (included with the dye). Basically, just paint it on in even strokes. I thought I was going to totally jack it up, but the dye doesn’t soak in for a minute or two, so you have plenty of time to work with it. I did small sections and didn’t run into any blending issues, but if you’re working with a larger surface area you might consider seeking out a different application method. The wool dauber worked well for the most part, but I did have to use Q-Tips to get into the negative space on the straps.


I let my newly-brown Birkies dry overnight, and they were wearable in the morning. I did notice a couple of teeny spots where the dye didn’t take as much, but it looks intentional so I left it. If you didn’t know I dyed them, you’d probably think I bought them that way!

I have to say, I really love the result. I definitely won’t be filing this as a Pinterest fail! If you have an old pair of leather or suede shoes that you’re thinking about tossing, consider giving this a try to revive them. The dye is relatively inexpensive // $9, Amazon // and I have enough leftover to dye several more pairs of shoes.

Are you working on any DIY projects at the moment? Let me know in the comments!

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