OPI’s “Germany” Collection

I know a lot of my readers are not from the beauty-blog world, so it’s probably news to you that (expensive, high class) nail varnish company OPI have released a collection of colours that are German themed. I have received two of these in GlossyBoxes – Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine! and Unfor-greta-bly Blue. I am loving the cringe worthy names, and the two colours, despite being really dark, are actually pretty nice.

Recently I was explaining the difference between different Western girls to my Japanese friend. He said that we “all look the same” but I pointed out that there are actually subtle differences between Western girls. American girls tend to dress plainer, but in clothes that are often designer. They wear less makeup and are more naturally beautiful. British girls dress wilder, with shorter skirts and bolder prints. Western girl with brightly coloured tights? Probably British. Example -

The tattoo on the left hand girl, her rock ponytail, the bright red hair of the girl on the right… >sigh< British style. Love it.

SO what about German girls? Well, look at the OPI collection. I think we can learn a lot about German style from the colours there.  At first glance, it’s dull, boring, dark. Not many are colours that you’d look at and say “wow, THAT is a gorgeous colour”. The same can be said of German fashion. I came here thinking that girls here are boring and dress safely. Like American girls, they are naturally beautiful, so they don’t have to try hard like us Brit girls.

Despite my initial disgust at the colours sent to me by GlossyBox, when I applied the two colours, they were actually really nice. A little bit of detail with gold and they made a really lovely look. In the same way, German fashion is really growing on me. Preppy coloured jeans, smart shirt-style tops, well kept hair and a clean face – and don’t forget the scarf!! Especially as we head towards Autumn, this is slowly becoming my go-to look.

This is just something I’ve been pondering about over the past few weeks. If anyone has any input on this, I’d love to hear it!

Fashion From Sweet Smell of Success

Frankfurt’s film museum shows a lot of awesome movies, and it’s also a great place for a date! I saw the 1957 film “Sweet Smell of Success” which is a really awesome film noir film. I could talk about how good the film was, but I think the boyfriend is probably much better at that than I am, so I’ll stick to fashion!

My favourite character by far was Susie. Innocent, cute as a button but ultimately fierce, knowing how to fight for what she wants. Such an idol -

Rita was the other female lead, and the one most girls can relate to, I think. Unlucky in love, trying hard but just making innocent mistakes. She’s quite the opposite to Susie.

P-p-p-pick up a Packstation!

 

If you live in Germany, you’ve probably been there. You do a spot of internet shopping, have them delivered to your home but you weren’t in. You get that annoying bit of paper that tells you to go to the other side of the city, walking around staring at your smart phone’s map trying to find this tiny kiosk that is probably paying the post service to send you there just so they can get a few more people to buy a Kit-Kat as they pick up their deliveries.

Your work doesn’t allow you to have things shipped there, and you think maybe getting a housewife just so that there is someone there when the delivery man comes is a bit excessive. What do you do?!

Get a Packstation!

A Packstation is like a locker block where you can have things delivered. You get sent an email when something is delivered there in your name, and you can pick it up any time of the day or night (to test this out I picked something up at 1am once to see if it’d still work!!)

It is pretty easy – you can sign up online, in English. AND it’s free. When you sign up, they’ll set you up with the station that’s nearest you (mine is in the main station so it’s easy peasy) then they’ll send you a card and a pin number. When you get a notification saying that something has been delivered for you, you go to your packstation, put your card in, enter your pin and then a door will open for you to collect your stuff. Easy as that!

I’ve had mine for a few months now but I can’t believe it took me so long to get it. My life is 10000000% better with it! The only problem is that if you need to sign for something, expect it to be sent back to the sender. And if you’re not able to get Packstations, you can always just get a housewife…

Kamon Sushi

 

While I was clearing out a load of old photos the other day, I found a few on restaurants I went to last year that could do with reviews. This is one of them.

I went to Kamon sushi with a few friends before going to Pinocchio karaoke across the way, about a year ago. It wasn’t a planned trip, but a pretty good experience.

 

There’s a massive conveyor-belt sushi track in the middle of the restaurant, and then some tables round the side. If you go at the right time, you can order sushi and noodles from Kamon, but also other Japanese food from Iimori next door as well.

As you can see, the sushi is pretty expensive… I’d say for taste and size, Sushi Circle is much better.

 

My friends chose the ramen which they said was pretty good. I had a nice wheat free chirashi zushi, which was really good (I should go back again and have it soon…)

There are better Japanese restaurants in Frankfurt, but there are many, many which are worse and more expensive. It’s situation in Willy Brandt Platz makes it pretty easy to get to after a day of shopping and it doesn’t really break the bank.

Find Kamon at Friedensstr. 3, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, nearest station is Willy Brandt Platz

Book Review – Nothing To Envy

Photo credit – NY Times

I have a small obsession with North Korea. It started when I was about 12 and I was in the living room when my dad was watching a documentary about the country, and I listened to an account of a woman who was tortured in a labor camp there. She said they filled her body with boiling hot water until her stomach swelled. Then they put a board over her stomach and played see-saw. I was horrified – it is a disgusting image – but couldn’t believe that there was a place in this world that would do this to its own people.

I forgot about this until I was studying in Japan. I happened to come across another documentary in Japanese about a man who had been sent to a labor camp for watching South Korean dramas. I lived next door to the Korean students so I spent weeks afterwards quizzing them on what they knew. I was amazed that such a country could exist without having any other country try to fix the situation.

Someone recommended the book Nothing To Envy to me – it’s a collection of stories about people who managed to escape North Korea. As soon as I started it, I couldn’t put it down.

Extremely well written (though she repeats information a little, which was annoying), it was an amazing insight into life in North Korea. It shows the people to be brave, creative and not naive or stupid as some may think them to be. **SPOILERS** The thing I found the most amazing was that most of the people who escaped to South Korea couldn’t fit in and actually wanted to return back to the north.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in North Korea and wanted to have a glimpse into the hermit kingdom. If anyone else has any books that are similar that they recommend, please let me know!

GlossyBox September 2012 (Germany)

I received this month’s GlossyBox yesterday and I’d heard heard that it was Oktoberfest themed so I was pretty excited!

I had said that if this month’s box isn’t good, I’ll cancel my subscription. Here is what the box contained -

C:EHKO High Shine Shampoo

Deja vu… We had this 2 boxes ago! See my review here.  It’s a good shampoo… but I’ve already had it!

Ducray Gentle Cleansing Cream

This is a pretty nice sized sample. It’s probably the only item that I’m actually looking forward to using.

Glossybox Lipstick in Glossy Pink

This is a pretty nice shade, actually. Not like the super dark stuff they usually send me.

Kryolan Contour Pencil

For lips, apparently. I don’t use lip pencils. I rarely wear lipstick. Let’s see how it is as an eye pencil ;)

OPI Nail Polish – Germany Range

Again, we had this a few boxes ago! And again it’s a dark colour – navy blue. Maybe I can get it to work some how.

Overall -

I just went on the GlossyBox website and unsubscribed to their service. There’s another box I’ve got my eye on but I think I’ll just try to use up all my current things first and then subscribe to that. In my eyes, this is a sample box – I get it to try new things. So having a box with not one but TWO repeats – that’s not good enough. Also, their judge of what makes a good product is often way off the mark (factor 6 sun oil, anyone?)

So… that was that! I wonder how long it’ll take me to use up all my current products…

Language Learning – Duolingo

 

Most people here are at least trying to learn German – some take full on classes, some carry phrase books. It’s always a common topic for us and has become a social thing – whether it’s arguing whether we really need to learn the genders of animals over learning how to construct sentences, or talking about how the woman on the Michel Thomas tapes is really pretty stupid and needs to have her ears cleaned.

As we were talking about German a few months ago, someone recommended the site Duolingo to me. It’s a pretty new site, and is free (yippee!) I’ll go into more detail, but its learning method is great for the way I like to learn – I like to DO, not STUDY. It has very very little grammatical explanation, you just type what you hear, or see into the other language. I’ve been told that it is very similar to the Rosetta Stone method.

The reason why this amazing site is free is that you give back – in return for language skills, you use those skills to translate the web. From Amazon reviews to blog posts, you are given articles within your ability level to translate.

 

Lessons come in small bitesize chucks on topics like animals, food, accusative, plurals… and can be completed in a few days if used for the recommended time each day. In each practice you listen and read the German and write English, and also vice versa too. You can also give the answers verbally but I have that turned off most of the time.

There are also multiple choice questions like the one above.

 

When you get a new word, it lets you know. At any point (except in the tests) you can hover over a word to be reminded of the English.

 

A downside to this site is that it sometimes has really random example sentences. I guess that’s the fun of learning languages… It also learns from its users, so sometimes it has mistakes in the corrections, too. There is a questions section in each lesson where people can bring these mistakes up.

 

So you can see I got this one wrong – and it asks if maybe I was still correct. It’s still a pretty new website, so they are open to suggestions and corrections.

 

So in return for the lessons, you are given articles like the one above. You can still hover over the words to get reminders.

With only 10 mins a day, I can really improve my German ability. It’s a really great method for learning and it has a social aspect, too as you gain points and there are leader boards and so on. I am currently the only person out of my group who is (semi…) regularly using the site but I have a long way to go before I beat two of my friends from work!

Downsides include, as I said above, that it’s not a perfect programme and that the sentences are often repetitive or completely random sometimes. But also you can’t choose what you study so right now I’m stuck trying to pass through animals to get to the next level which would probably be more useful.

You can get Duolingo in German, French and Spanish. It’s free! So try it out! And if you do join, add me as a friend – my username is Kotoko!

Scenes from China Town (London)

 

China Town in London is another must, after Camden Town! I took a short walk through it and saw some interesting things – not enough to write whole posts about. Hope you enjoy the snaps!

 

Sadly they wouldn’t let me take photos inside the shop, but they were chock-a-block with Japanese cosmetics and beauty products. In general, I saw so many Japanese products on sale, in shops and on markets. It seems that people can’t get enough of Japanese face masks, fake eyelashes, shampoo and everything in between.

 

I managed to find some awesome bubble tea in a place with hand made gyoza. I was going to order some gyoza after but the woman was slightly rude and snatched the menu from my hands…

 

Here’s another new thing – purikura. There were real Japanese machines in here. They were pretty expensive to use though.

 

But these guys sure enjoyed themselves!

Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover

 

I saw this being blogged about before I went to London – the Bourjois 1 Second Magic Nail Polish Remover. I paint my nails a lot, so I was really interested in a way to take off my nailvarnish without too much faff. And I find that especially when I layer my nails with cracking varnish, or glitter or whatnot, it is SUCH a pain to get off. Life is so hard.

I found it in Boots when I was back home and had to buy it – it may be available in Germany too. I’ve not checked yet…

The “magic” of it is that inside the tub is a big sponge with a hole in it. You stick your finger in it, spin it around once and then when you bring your finger back out, it’s polish free!

A lot of people have been saying that it’s not taking all of their varnish off, but I have to say that it’s worked 100% for me every time I’ve used it so far. It has almond oil in it as well to keep your nails healthy – though it’s a tad greasy at first, it melts into your skin to make your fingers so lovely and soft!

I’ve used a lot of nail varnish wipes before and hate the smell, the texture and the greasy feeling afterwards. This has none of that. There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this product and I think not only will I buy it again, but I will keep this as my go-to nail varnish remover from now on!

You can find this in Boots or Superdrug (and so on…) in the UK and I will get back to you on whether it is available in Germany!