Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Invictus Review: Feel-Good Sports Movie Meets Indie Flick

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernst Henley

When my friends and I arrived at Edwards IMAX Cinema in Mira Mesa, we didn't quite know what to watch. Most of us had already seen Avatar or Sherlock Holmes, so we chose Invictus without a lot of confidence. I didn't even know what it was about, but I was told it was apparently about "rugby and politics." Oh boy, two things I don't know anything about (Once in a while I dabble in politics but it's a nice mess to stay out of altogether).

The film started out pretty slow, with Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela, former President of post-apartheid South Africa. I thought, oh boy, I don't know anything about this guy or his country. Sad not-history buff me. But little did I now this was a Clint Eastwood film, and he, my friends, is a man if there ever was one (have you SEEN Gran Torino?).

I think Freeman did a wonderful job playing the apartheid-prisoner-gone-hero, a grandfatherly stubborn man. I learned quite a lot about rugby and a little about history and the terrible cruelty that occurs when human beings not so different from each other decide to see the world in discriminatory shades of black and white. It was heart-warming to watch a country come together, maybe too good to be true you say, but it raised my spirits and made me feel proud to be a human being (nowadays many movies assert the contrary).

It's rare that I take away something from a movie these days, but from this little somewhat indie film (there were maybe 4 other people in the theatre with us), I learned a lot about compassion for a national sport, communication, and tolerance. In the movie, Mandela says, "How am I to expect my country to move forward if I don't forgive?" That brings into light something I don't do enough, forgive and forget. We should all aspire to be the most successful, happiest people we can be, but we must also remember that sometimes the best feeling and highest achievement is reaching down to help others out of the pit in which you were trapped for a long time. Sometimes being the bigger person isn't just something to brag about, but it's necessary for peace. My views on world peace are a completely different matter (I don't think it's practically achievable due to many conditions) - but there is such a thing as local peace, and very importantly, inner peace.

History is worth learning, because it's the story of people just like us, living out their lives, interconnected with the billions of others around them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thoughts on Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers

I started reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell last night. I'm a big fan of Gladwell - he has a great conversational tone in his writings that lets you read swiftly but understand clearly his point. He doesn't spoonfeed and he lets you draw your own conclusions from the data, but it's never tedious or pedantic. When I can blow through 100 pages in less than 2 hours for something mildly brain-stimulating, I'm a happy camper, or reader as I should say.

So far, I have come across a few points that Gladwell has made:
1) Birthdate can determine a person's success from his or her first breath of worldly air.
2) 10,000 hours - about 10 years of experience of 8 hours of practice a day, 7 days a week - makes the difference between us novice musicians who play up through high school graduation and those who make it to Julliard and Carnegie Hall
3) IQ doesn't matter if you're "smart enough" - from there on it's all blood, sweat, and happy tears.

1) On birthdates:
Gladwell asserts that the birthdate cutoff imposed by athletic teams, schools, etc that determines which group a child is sorted into may indeed affect their performance and later success. So, for example, if one school district has September 1 as their cutoff date, August 31st kids are the youngest in Class of 2008, for example, and September 2nd kids are the oldest in the Class of 2009. This gives children with September 2nd birthdays nearly an entire year's advantage over the August 31sties of their graduating class. This goes to say that children born during the fall semester should have a leg-up on their spring semester classmates, and this reinforcement will pave their way to more practice, more gifted-education opportunities, and later triumphs. This may be true in the sports realm, I believe, but I know many brilliant people who were born in the spring and summer and cases of individuals dumber than bricks born in fall and winter. Maturity may show stark contrasts at young ages, but I think socioeconomic circumstances definitely tell the whole story much better than birthdate. I'll attribute the interesting pattern in statistics to just that - an interesting pattern.

2) 10,000 hour rule
Gladwell spewed out lots of examples of successful (wealthy) famous people - Bill Gates, the Beatles, Steve Jobs, Bill Joy - to point out that they were born in the right place, in the right time that gave them such opportunities to practice, practice, practice, and succeed in their respective fields. This definitely makes sense. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? $1700 dollars and a really good travel agent. Okay, that's how I got to Carnegie Hall with my high school orchestra, but the generally agreed-on motto is, "Practice, practice, [10,000 hours of] practice!" The human brain is capable of such extraordinary things, such as language, invention, abstraction. But we're not born with extraordinary abilities - they have to be cultivated and nurtured with the great nutrient of time. I certainly haven't reached the 10,000 hour mark for any of my instruments that I play (violin, viola, piano), though my practice spanned a good 9 years each for violin and piano. Ideally to become an expert, I would have started practicing at age 3 or so and with diligent training, reached the professional point in my early 20's, so about now. Unfortunately, I had other things to do with my life, like attend school and apply to college and being a pre-med university student to hinder. In my college days, I haven't had time (or willpower) to play my instruments more than 10 times a year - now that's pitiful for someone who used to thrive on the joy of music and music alone.

Gladwell even pointed out that Mozart didn't really compose until perhaps age 10, so he became a professional at age 21. That sounds more reasonable, doesn't it? If Mozart, a renowned child prodigy, took that long, then we might as well bust out our guitars and keep plucking if we're to become rock sensations before retirement. This bit of knowledge is both disheartening and yet encouraging, I think: yes, it will take forever, but that means anyone with the right box of Crayola crayons can eventually recreate the Mona Lisa in perfect waxy elegance, or even better. I have always envied geniuses and people with IQs higher than necessary it seems, but it's humbling to realize that hardworkers will always triumph because that's how the forces of life balances things out. If you think you can and do something about it, you can and you will!

3) IQ of 120 = IQ of 180?
I'm sure we can all recall to mind someone we've met in our lives who was a completely brilliant individual, but a terrible slacker to boot. They'd flip through a few pages of their textbook and turn in for the night, or perhaps were too confident in their abilities to tear off the plastic wrapping and lift the cover. We, on the other hand slave away day and night, hyped up on Full Throttle, Monster, whatever beverage companies are pumping into our systems nowadays and pore over our 3 inch thick volumes. We may glance at their snoozing figures and wonder how on earth you're to beat them at their game? Gladwell thinks it doesn't matter. If you're in college, that means you're smart enough to be successful, as successful or EVEN MORE successful than your snoozing college roommate. So you mean to say, the playing grounds are even? Pish posh, you may think. Well, when I read this part, I was extremely excited. I don't have an amazing IQ. It's above average but certainly below 150 (whenever I was last tested in 2nd grade ...). In all humility I did have a 4.0 GPA in high school, but that doesn't mean I am a genius. I just worked my butt off trying to get out of Oklahoma, so that I could make it to the big name universities. Now Gladwell tells me it doesn't even matter which college I attend. I'd like to continue to believe it does, but everything eventually depends on how hardworking a person is. My future profession is hopefully to become and Ear Nose Throat surgeon, or some form of a doctor if that's not the specific field I dive into. The human body is not something that can be mentally rotated or solved like one of those IQ test puzzles. It is confusing and complex and beautiful, but it takes years of training and memorizing to lay a mental encyclopedia on which to rely on when you're diagnosing a patient or trying to cure their ailment. You may sleep through college, but there will be none of that waking up for 5 minutes just to take a written exam in medical school. It's the real deal, and it's the small bit of reality I have to hold onto as I step into the great unknown. The future is considerably undecided and undecidable, and I'm okay with that. As long as I work hard and find the strength to break free from sluggish inactivity, I will eventually succeed. Because I'm just one of those people that can't be perfectly content by doing nothing. Call me an overachiever or tense or OCD if you will, but I will try my best to be productive in these certain amount of years I'm given in this world. I may never beat plants at their work, but I'll give it a good hard try.

By the way, I totally pictured Malcolm Gladwell (left) to look something like Oliver Sacks (right) .. but he is far from Caucasian, old, and wiry professor-looking. Quite the contrary - he has awesome hair.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Twilight Beauty Makeup: Hyped-Up Coverup

As a college student with no income and no wealth of inheritance to splurge with, I am a very anti-expensive-makeup person. I don't see any reason in breaking the wallet buying $30 lipsticks and $50 foundation. Why spend that much money when affordable makeup, be it eyelipsface on the lowest end of the scale to drugstore brands at $5-$10 a pop, does the job well or even better than MAC and Sephora brands?

Then I came across the Twilight makeup line and I immediately face-palmed. I can't believe that they would even monopolize makeup with their cheap (yet horridly overpriced), gaudy products. I'll admit the first book was a good read in that it was new and romantic after getting over the fact that the lead male character GLITTERS. However, each subsequent book in the series became steadily the crowd-pleasers and it was just that - written to please millions of screaming, teenage girls and their fantasies (and their moms' too ... and occasionally grandmothers' *shudder*). Add to it a matching series of no-coherent-plot-or-point movies and you've got a multi-billion industry.

- The culprit:
- The evidence: Hyped up, overpriced makeup products that make no sense
- The alibi: "The goal for Twilight Beauty was to create two beautiful and striking lines that women could fall in love with, much in the same way they fell in love with the Twilight saga. The hope is that, beyond the lure of its edgy, sophisticated packaging, true makeup consumers will find they have discovered products they can’t live without."
(They said it themselves! They're living off the popularity and media hype, replacing good quality with beautiful packaging!) You can read more about their beautiful fabrication of words here (Warning for those with a weak-stomach: it screams "bowl of sugar" and is quite gag-inducing)

There are two lines: Luna Twilight and Volturi Twilight. The former represents Edward and Bella's terribly original love story and the latter, the beautiful disaster that is the powerful ancient aristocracy of Vampire Land.

Now let's take a look at their actual products (all with gaudy colours and equally gaudy names):

On the Luna Twilight side, we have Gleam Metallic Mascara in black, blue, and silver (oops, my bad - it's Rapture, Lapiz, and Mist - see my point?). The How to Use Tips and More Info (currently blank) are not very helpful either. So, a simple mascara that doesn't claim to neither clump nor flake goes for $22. The Moonshadows Eyeshadow contains a small amount of cream shadow and powder shadow in smokey shades to warm neutral taupes. Sounds like a good deal for a buck, but one little package costs $20. Absurd.

The packaging for the Femme Fatale Lip Gloss is adorable but the $20 label is not. Surrender is a nice watermelon shade (shown below), but the others are all super sparkly. Just Bitten Staining Balm also sounds amazing to the ears but when you click to see the product, it's just your average run-of-the-mill lipstick. Twilight Venom looks like fake blood they use in theatre but costs four times as much.

Mortal Glowing Blushing Creme looks beautiful at least. Here's Adrenaline, a mosaic type of blush. I never understood why makeup sometimes comes like that - with 5 million colours but when you blend it all together, it just comes out as one shade. Bronzers are like that often as well. The Color Palettes are pretty offensive, as each one is supposed to represent on of the Twilight female characters. Alice's is shown below and it would make her look like a drag queen. Since she's my favourite, this $28 2 lip color, 2 eyeshadow, blush combination fails miserably in its mission.

Ever since the Nov 2009 issue of Lucky magazine featured the First Light Body Glow, it's been sold out. To think that girls would pay $34 to shimmer gracefully like Edward is mind boggling. What really confuses me is, why would you pay $10 more for body glow when the face glow is the exact same shimmer? Even if you're one of those crazy die-hard fans, I don't suppose you would cover your entire body in glitter every day and look incredibly hilarious. Go easy on the sparkling bedazzling and just cover the exposed arms and face if you must.

I have discovered that the Shea Cashmere lotions by Bath and Body Works has a nice very fine shimmer to it. I personally have the Hand Lotion ($12 for 2.5 fl oz), which is a nice light but skin-softening moisturizer that healed my winter-damaged skin, but B&BW also has 8 fl oz Body Lotion for $16.50 (HALF the price of the Twilight gunk!). Good alternative, eh?

Now, to the Volturi Twilight zone. What really confuses me is the same exact mascara renamed Crown Metallic Mascara and given a different packaging sells for $16 compared to its counterpart's $22 Gleam Metallic Mascara. What? It's the same bloody mascara!

The Labyrinth Loose Eyeshadows seem almost worth the $9 they cost because swatches look heavily pigmented and metallic. A little may go a long way with these loose powders.

Enrapture Lip Gloss in Arsenic (aka black) claims to go on clear (!?) and leave a trace of golden shimmer. That's pretty ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is the Obsess shade (aka hot flamingo pink). Immortal Liquid Body Shimmer are of the same shades, but I don't recommend spending the $19 to test if the black shade really does go on clear.

The gift sets give a $12 discount (total $40) for the Bella Beauty Set, and include unique products not sold separately in its counterpart line for the Volturi Gift Set (total $28). I recommend getting your "Twi-fan" best friend the Volturi version as a gift. If it has Twilight written somewhere on the box, she's bound to love it and run down the street in glee, right?

If you're really intent on buying these products or flushing good money down the drain, Twilight Beauty makeup is available online and at Nordstrom department stores. When you're satisfied with your haul, go to Youtube to find every vlogger in the world doing a makeup tutorial inspired by Twilight. That way, you can look livid and undead, like Dakota Fanning.

Drop a comment if you've tried any of these products! I want to hear real feedback from any brave beauty product addicts or Twilight die-hards. If you want to rant or rave, do so below : )

Saturday, December 26, 2009


     The sun struggled powerlessly against a sea of swelling clouds, brushing past with the fury of the seven angry seas. Fellow adventurers chirped, laughed, shifted in their seats around me. The programmed voice announced for the twentieth time that hour, "Riders … on your marks … get set … GO!"
     The hiss of steam rising from the rain-splattered rails was lost as green turned to yellow and the red still lingered on my retinas as my neck snapped against the headrest, eyes forced shut with the sheer velocity, tearing the remaining breath in my lungs out and shoving the ensuing scream straight back into my throat. It was too fast for sound. Spiraling like a rocket ship, my fellow astronauts shrieked with a medley of delight and fright as the sky suddenly seemed close enough to touch – I reached but physics shot my arm back against the safety bar clamping me down, saving me from free-falling four-hundred feet and kissing concrete. Soaring, soaring, soaring – all of a sudden time stopped for one millisecond. The earth stood still and I was standing at the top of it. Then, the true terror began. The ground, everything, my feet, my hands, the safety bar all disappeared from sight as the scenery changed to a view of the ocean, the trees, the other roaring machines and I was released by an invisible claw, at the mercy of gravity. A faint taste of bile rose up out of my stomach, taunting me with nausea. My cheeks flapped wildly, the skin peeled back from my eye sockets, temporarily revealing my skull. My stomach sank to my toes as I realized all that was holding me to the crazy beast was a strap, buckle, and flimsy piece of metal. The safety bar rose away from my lap and I slid around like an air-hockey puck, my mass clearly not enough to hold me down as I walked on the sky. Up there, all remnants of blue shocked into blinding white. And just as abruptly as it all started, it ended. The resounding jerk. Another hiss as the great iron dragon crawled back to its lair, preparing for its next herd of victims. My whole body was injected with horse tranquilizer; the blood in my face finally snapped out of shock and remembered to keep moving. My mouth was a desert, my eyes a drought. Still shaking and with hair standing on end, I glanced at my watch. Fourteen seconds.

[Another piece for Visiting Writer Week in Writing 1. Inspired by Cedar Point amusement park's Top Thrill Dragster in Sandusky, Ohio]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why Do We Eat Seafood?

Today, my family drove up to Los Angeles to visit my very pregnant aunt and my grandparents. It was really awesome seeing everyone again, seeing that my aunt is healthy and the baby is doing fine, seeing my grandparents semi-satisfied at least in America again. And of course, I was spoiled rotten with a fresh batch of crazy expensive clothes and compliments of how tall I've gotten (though I haven't grown an inch since junior high). Oh family. Oh beautiful, sunny Californian not-white Christmas (Eves).

So to the point, we went to a favourite restaurant for lunch in Monterey Park's Little Taipei: Seafood Village, and boy do they have ohmygolashes-amazing seafood. I pretty much ate my weight in Dungeness crab legs and Snowfish and eggplant! I DESPISE eggplant (sorry, aubergine fans) but today's dish was absolutely scrumptious and sauceylicious. I have also lost my appetite for seafood throughout the years but the love was renewed upon taste of savory scallops and creamy clams.

Seafood Village's famous House Crab (photo creds to
But then while I was breaking open crab leg after crab leg voraciously with my bare teeth (I know I'm a baller G), a question formed in my mind.

Why do we eat seafood?

I mean, aside from how awful it smells when it's not cooked right or the hyped up fear of mercury going straight to the brains of our unborn children and rendering them mentally wrong for the rest of their lives (bet your mother didn't think of that as she made your tuna sandwiches in your packed lunches, eh?) ... Seafood takes so much EFFORT to eat. It's almost counterproductive! Think about the calories you burn scraping the tiny little strings of pure-white meat from those exoskeletons.

Eating seafood is highly inefficient. I think that was some of the driving force behind my growing indifference towards seafood throughout the years. I don't particularly love staring into the poor dead eyes of fish or picking out the tiny bones (nature's payback towards us hungry customers) or eating their unborn children (and I'm sure karma will kick in somehow someday). And worse is sashimi ... raw fish. They didn't even merit a quick rinse through the boiler before being chopped up, flayed, and dipped in wasabi D:

I'm not a huge fan of mussels because of the weird sacs of dirt in their bellies, but I do love the scallops in their rainbow shells. The problem is, it's so hard to scrape those persistent little suckers off and when I finally disengage them from their firm grasp on safety, it's but a tiny morsel of chewy chewy food. Ooooh but I can't resist the chewy. It's like variable reinforcement - I keep coming back for more.

Well, the good news is that seafood is supposed to be brain food. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are supposed to be some miracle worker on development, lowering blood pressure, and high SAT scores and winning the lottery and whatnot (could be joking on the last one .. and a half). You can apparently get omega-3's from walnuts, olive oil, and soybeans all the same. In fact, I'm rooting for soybeans. They are the cure all for people who have food issues with just about anything in the world. Lactose intolerants drink soymilk. Mercury poisoning fearfuls get their omega-3's. Asian people add it to everything to make things yummy. Go soy.

So grab your cracker and pick because you're in for a long, dainty obstacle course through the shell and bones to a few bites of delish. I'm about to go exploit some more of what the Pacific Ocean's got to offer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colored Contacts Review (Eyecandylenses): Geo Angel Violet + Dali Extra Size Green

For many years now, I've been wanting to experiment with colored contacts. Brown eyes are nice, but sometimes they appear dull and well ... brown. A few years ago I tried some blue Acuvue ones at my eye doctor's office but I just ended up looking like a bionic weirdo.

I'm a wary online shopper, so I decided to ask friends who were already sporting the famed Korean Geo contact lenses where they bought their new eye colours. I got a list of about 3 sites from which one friend bought her lenses and decided was the best choice with their cute website design, huge variety of brands and colours, and customers-first attitude. is based in Canada and they ship worldwide while frequently offering discounts (buy 2 get 1 pair free/Facebook discounts etc) year round. They operate on a Batch-ordering system, which only makes sense because if you were to purchase your own few pairs directly from Korea, shipping would be abysmal. So, place your order with a Paypal account (or concealed USD or CAD) and be patient! (I know many of you don't have Paypal accounts but perhaps you can work out a deal with your friend to borrow his or hers).

My order was Batch 28 and I ordered on October 4 (the beginning of the batch month) and received all my contacts in perfect condition around December 4. The wait seemed like forever, but it was reasonable considering the distance, the batches, and the distribution.

So, here's a picture-filled adventure of opening up my lenses!

The cute little packages! Thank you Chloe!

Geo lenses with Authenticity scratch-off thing (I didn't bother checking but you can online):

There's my lens! Creepppyyy :D

Free contacts case with every pair purchased! How convenient : )

Here's the Dali extra size green one:

I thought the green would would look more natural because of the gentle blending around the outer edge:

In case you were wondering how to open the bottle, you carefully use both thumbs to press up against the white part of the cap and go around the entire cap, trying to pry it loose a little bit. Once it is loosened up, if you press a little harder with both thumbnails, it will pop open and you can twist off the silver part too (like opening a jug of milk). There is a rubbery stopper covering the bottle's mouth, so just pop that off and pour out the solution slowly and let your lens slide out into your hand. Now soak your contacts in fresh solution for a few hours (in those nice pink contacts cases Chloe provided if you want) and then enjoy! If you wear the contacts immediately, your eyes will feel irritable after an hour or two so it's better to be safe and get all the harsh preservatives out first!

Doo doo doo: Trying on the contacts!

My eyes looked ridiculously huge when I put in the Extra Size Dali Green ones. I have relatively bigger eyes to begin with, so now I look really bug-eyed. My friends didn't notice the green at first, but they certainly noticed the size. Also, because the diameter of the contact is so big, it tended to irritate my right eye very often. The picture above is without flash.

The colours blended very well but my first impression was that I looked like a kitty. These aren't the most natural looking contacts, but they're great for looking dolly-eyed.

I was playing with green makeup to see if it would enhance the green but my camera didn't catch the colours right. The green still wasn't super obvious even with green makeup.

This is with flash. The brown of my natural eye colour is a lot more obvious:

I also love purple and was REALLY impressed with the Geo Magic Color Violet lenses. They look super natural and subtle in room lighting but people definitely notice that there's something different about my eyes but it's not in a bad way. The dark outer black ring may seem unnatural at first but when you put it on, it's just fine. In brighter lighting, the purple really pops and works great with purple shades of makeup. Yay!


Geo Magic Color Angel Violet lenses 14.0 mm (can be purchased here)
Price: $23.00 USD
I'll give them a 9/10 for being very good for their price. In the wrong lighting they can look bionic but in most conditions they blend perfectly.

Dali Extra Size Green lenses 14.2 mm (can be purchased here)
Price: $28.60 USD
.2 mm makes a big difference! I think these more expensive bigger lenses weren't necessarily as good as I had hoped. I'm sure normal Geo lenses in green would be just as good. It's really hard to find nice green contacts that are not freaky looking and also have prescriptions. I give a 7/10 is a great company to order from! Products are shipped reliably and are packaged with care. Thanks Chloe for helping me purchase my first pairs of colored contacts!
I give the site a 10/10!

I was not paid in any way for this review; these are my opinions after use. This product was purchased with my own money. Results may vary from person to person.

Forever 21 Twist: Oui, Oui, Tres Paris!

Christmas Shopping time is here! I went to Westfield Mall in Escondido today and was impressed by the number of shops and variety there. I mean, they even had a pet store filled with adorable puppies! But of course, my weakness lies in my obsession with Forever 21 and I stepped in to see what they had in "store" (okay, I'll stop with the puns .. maybe).

Forever 21 has become the store of glitz and glam and glitter. Flashy sequins, beaded shirts, walking disco balls, essentially. It'd be nice at the club, but all that shininess isn't practical for sitting in a classroom half the day or wearing to work. Thus, I have felt limited this year as far as practical clothes go. Off the shoulder tops and dresses are also incredibly popular, along with cage pumps and chunky jewelry.

This is taking it too far .. creating the illusion of a tank top with big sequins + frilly ruffles will make you look like a pregnant, sparkly whale-fish (and we all know whales are mammals).

I wonder if these Cage Pumps are even comfortable ... they seem to go great with leggings or skinny jeans and are all the rage.

For Winter 2009, it seems Forever 21 is phasing in loose, wide necklines and cinched waists. Sweet little cardigans are also in stock, along with faux biker jackets and brass-studded military-inspired jackets. The frustrating thing about fashion is the First Law of Beauty: Beauty is Pain! So if you live in a cold, blizzardy place, it's hard to look dazzling in 3 layers of chunky sweaters.

On a happier note, I really appreciate that Forever 21 has reached out and explored with ballet, French, and disco-inspired clothing. In particular, I have become enamored with the Tres Paris line and bought this adorable outfit (with a different beret and tights):

I'm a tee and skinny jeans kind of girl, with a love for basic black+white and artistic embellishments. This outfit would be what I call risque high fashion, since the shirt doesn't even reach my belly button but the skirt is so granny high rise that it makes up for it.
+ + = Tres Paris indeed

The Eiffel Tower Silhouette Top was $14.80, the Bow Front Skirt $19.80 and the Wool Blend Studded Beret &7.80, so with tax it's about $35 for the entire batch. Pretty good steal, eh? (I will upload pictures later)

With classy black and white with a pop of red, the Tres Paris line is an affordable way to embrace Parisian fashion without having to hop on a plane or break the bank. Berets, funky tights and high rise skirts are a must, slap on some red lipstick and you'll have everyone saying, "Oui, oui!"

Here's the rest of my haul:

Fab Turtleneck Top in Navy ($8.50) - it has a cute peephole in the back but mine is half-sleeves

Dotted Strip Tights ($5.80) - these actually look a lot more dark navy when not stretched out on a plaster white mannequin .. I haven't tried them on yet though.

Luxuriant Bracelet Set ($6.80) - Mom thought it was a good deal

I also got black Sweater Knit Food Tights ($5.80) for St. Louis year-long winters. Yay warm legs!

Enjoy the last-minute shopping, everyone! If you need stocking stuffers, Forever 21 has great makeup products for $1-3 and very cheap jewelry under $5. Meanwhile, Happy Holidays!

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