Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Beauty Swap Haul!

Yet another Canadian Swap! My last one was a success so I decided to participate in this month's. The theme was "Spring Cleaning" with a limit of $25, but I found that I didn't have any unused products that my partner would like, so I mostly purchased new stuff. My partner was Jenny (I don't think she has a blog). This month my wishlist was a bit broad. I didn't have much in particular on it other than a dotting tool, so I just asked my partner for whatever products sounded interesting that she had in her stash and then anything hair/skin related.



Essence Nail Art Duo || L'Oreal Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Rose on and on || Julep Polish in Renee || Benefit Dandelion Blush (sample)


ISO Colour Preserve Hydrating Treatment || Olay Regenerist Anti-wrinkle treatment || Clinque Clarifying lotion || Clinique Even Better dark spot corrector


Beauty So Clean Makeup Wipe || Mary Kay Botanical Effects cleanser and mask


CHOCOLATE!! 

I'm actually going to refrain from describing everything and save it for later reviews! Any ways, thanks so much for everything Jenny, I'll be sure to enjoy it all! :) 

Have you tried any of these products? Which would you like to see reviews for? :) 



Monday, April 29, 2013

FOOD: Happy Valley's Congee and Bar

** Copied this post from my old food blog!** IT CLOSED DOWN :\



Happy Valley's on UrbanspoonHappy Valleys is the newest [chinese] restaurant in the Waterloo Plaza (140 University Avenue West) next to the University of Waterloo. Obviously, this "congee & bar" attempts to cater to two things. (1) The Chinese demographic in Waterloo (2) the large university student population (hence the word "bar"). I was under the impression that they served some kind of sake and congee concoction, which sounds disgusting. Good thing that's not what they had! 



Happy Valley's opened on Thursday, November 22, with $4 meal and $4 pitcher specials. They became that-new-restaurant-that-ran-out-of-food-on-opening-night around campus. They didn't re-open until Monday, opening at 5:30pm each day. A week after opening night, I went to see if Happy Valley's would be a happy time... 


Food: Typically, I'm not a fan of congee, which is just rice cooked with a lot of water. Missing Toronto and the flavours that reminded me of home, I opted for the Roasted Duck & Rice. This costed me about $8 (tax included). Firstly, the soup that came with my meal was some sort of tomato/veggie/cabbage chucks salty nastiness from a can. I wouldn't go to Happy Valley's just to have their soup... More importantly, the main meal included (1) some duck (2) a HUGE scoop of rice (3) some under cooked vegetable. The duck tasted rich, flavourful, and a bit oily. I was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of duck, but duck is expensive. If you've ever had Chinese-style roasted duck, you'd know that it is more fat and less meat. The rice scoop was way too big, bigger than a normal bowl of rice and the stand-alone veggie piece was nearly raw. Overall, the meal was pretty good, decent compared to what's at home, but I'm pretty sure there's not too many places serving roasted duck in Waterloo.

On a side note, some others at my table had curry, chicken congee, fried rice, French fries and General Tsao chicken. Some said the congee didn't have enough meat. Others enjoyed their meals thoroughly. I think the consensus around the table that the food was pretty good, better than what was offered around Waterloo. 

Service: For a group social, I called in to see if they could accommodate around 20 people for 3:30pm instead of 5:30pm. They were kind enough to say yes, however, when I called to confirm the day of, there was some sort of confusion. We did end up going in at 3:30pm with no issues. When we got to the restaurant, the waitresses were kind enough to bring us water when we got there and took group pictures for us. 

Ambience & Environment: Happy Valley's replaced Caesar Martinis, a place I had been to once for the 2012 release party for Fashion For Change. The decor looks exactly the same, other than a few Asian-esque hanging lanterns. There are couches scattered around, tables on the perimeter of the room, and the bar in the middle. I sat in the area behind the bar. They also have a few TVs but they are small not visible from where I was sitting in the restaurant. My biggest complaint of the ambience is the lighting-- too dark to even see my food. 

Price & Menu: For a new restaurant, Happy Valley's had a fairly wide array of options including preserved egg congee, roasted duck and rice, BBQ pork (cha siu) and rice, chow mien, curry and rice "Asian-spiced" French fries, and more. Some items on the menu were labelled "COMING SOON", which was a total anticlimax because nobody could order them.  In terms of price, items ranged from around $4 (congee) to $9 (noodles). There are also some late night specials (Portugese fried rice, salt and pepper tofu, etc) for discounted pries. Each item (except congee) came with soup and a drink. Happy Valley's pricing is comparable to other places in the plaza. For about $7+tax, you'll get a full meal. 




The Verdict: If I'm feeling like Chinese food, I'd probably eat at Happy Valley's over another Chinese place. The food is decent, but nothing special. Overall 3.5/5 for decent Chinese.


UPDATE 29/12/2012: Went to Happy Valley's for dinner with a group of friends. They fully cooked the veggie with the roasted duck and increased portion sizes. Their food may be a little inconsistent as they just opened very recently. I tried the General Tsao Chicken. It was not bad, a little on the salty side, and nothing amazing.





Saturday, April 27, 2013

FOOD: Cava and other experiences...

I like to think that I'm well-rounded, cultured and knowledgeable about food. My parents started taking my brother and I out to some nice Summerlicious/Winterlicious restaurants in Toronto when I was 12 (YYZ and Rose Water Supper Club) and later Feenie's (now closed) in Vancouver. On a trip to the UK, we visited a few Asian Fusion restaurants by Alan Yau (Wagamama's) and even one with a Michelin Star (Hakkasan). More recently we've been going to culinary schools in the states (Philly, Chicago, NYC) as well as an Iron Chef worthy restaurant (Amada of Jose Garces in Philadelphia).

I'm not a picky eater, but I like to choose where I eat wisely. I think I get it from my Mom... we both like to intensely search online for where and what to eat on the most special of occasions. My Dad, on the other hand, enjoys good food, but wouldn't mind eating at a good old loud and crowded Chinese restaurant. 

Cava is a tapas (Spanish for "small plates") restaurant. The website boasts "small plates, big flavours" and notes a "nose-to-tail" sustainable approach on using high quality, ethical, and sustainable ingredients in their dishes. 


Cava Charcuteria  aka preserved meat plate || $17.50
(1) orange blossom oil ________
(2) duck liver and foie gras mousse
(3) pepperoni (don't remember the exact wording)
(4) mortadella 

I believe they change the charcuterie depending on what's in the kitchen. My favourite was the duck liver mousse, overly rich and artery clogging, yet so wonderful. I'd like to have a tub full of this to have at home to spread on toast in the morning. Everything else was so-so and the mortadella tasted like sandwich meat (in no way a highlight of the meal).


Chipotle Caramel Popcorn || $3.50

At a glance, this just looks like your typical caramel popcorn. It's not. At first, I thought it was... but the chipotle kick comes in near the end. The crunchy/sweet/spicy combo was a yes for me! 


Pincho of Gamay-Poached Foie Gras with Pear Compote || $8.95

mmm... more foie gras. Despite the rich foie gras, I found this to be the most balanced dish of the meal. The foie gras was toned down by the gamay flavouring (wine) and the pear added a slight acidity. To top  bottom it all off, crunchy slice of bread that was a great contrast to the smooth, rich foie gras. 



Eggplant with Queso Fresco, Honey, and Tomatillo Sauce || $9.75

This reminded me a LOT of a Japanese braised eggplant. The "menu name" is a bit confusing so let me break it down for you. It's fried eggplant in a sweet green tomato sauce... and it's great! I'm not particularly a fan of vegetarian dishes but this one is just stunning. The honey/tomatillo sauce adds the right amount of pop. 



Seared Sea Scallops with Smoked Parsnip Puree and French Lentils  || $23

It's a bit of a tradition for my family and I to order scallops when we eat out. This one was a little bit of a downer. The scallops were prepared to perfection, but the parsnip puree and lentils made it a bit heavy. Not to mention the "smoked" part of the parsnip puree was a little too smoky. This made the dish too earthy for the delicate scallops. 


Forty-Eight Hour Beef Brisket || $22

If it's in the cooker for 48 hours, it's bound to taste amazing. This was deliciously flavoured with salty savoury goodness.


Duck Magret with Trinxat and Violet Mustard Sauce || $18

I'm a fan of duck, but not mustard. However, the mustard in this dish was so subtle that it actually tasted good. The violet was not overpowered by the mustard in the sauce and the duck was cooked perfectly! 


Smokey Octopus with clams, Charred Red Onions, Capers and Mint || $17.50

This one was good, but it felt like it was missing something... acid maybe. It was less "smokey" as compared to the scallops, which made it ok. 


Veal Sweetbreads with Radicchio-Poblano Chile Salad and Walnut Vinagrette || $23

Sweetbreads (animal insides) are an acquired taste. This was the first time I've had sweetbreads and now I know that sweetbreads ain't my thing. Though... the salad was great! I pretty much ate all of that. 


Honeycrisp Tarte Tatin with Bacon Brisee and Ginger Cardamom Ice Cream


Last but not least.. dessert! It was like a fancy/weird apple pie with ice cream. I love mixing spicy with sweet so, the ice cream was my favourite part. The apple and tarte tatin felt like pretty sides to complement it. 


Complimentary chocolates! omnomnomnom


In terms of dining experience, the waiter was kind and came around often to fill our glasses of water and ask how we were enjoying our meal. Minus one for a dirty plate, but other than that excellent service. 

At the end of the meal, I got a little ice cream voucher for XOCAVA, the sister dessert shop next door.The foie gras, the eggplant, the duck, the beef brisket, and the dessert gave me the most warm and cozy feeling in my tummy, but everything else was so-so.  Overall, the food was good. not amazing, but good. Would I eat here again? Yes, but I'd likely skip a few dishes and try others on the menu. **7.5/10**



Any recommendations or favourites for where to eat in Toronto (...brownie points if it's cheap)? 

Cava on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 25, 2013

PINSPIRED: DIY Melted Crayola Crayon Wall Art

Just thinking of crayons make me feel like a little kid again. I practically collected them. Every time my parents took my brother and I to one of those family style restaurants where they have brown "lunch-bag" paper all over the tables to draw or colouring books to fill in, we'd always take a pack of crayons home. Similar to makeup/beauty products, I rarely finish crayons up. I don't think I ever finished using a whole crayon (unless I broke it into teeny tiny pieces). 



So once upon a time, I had a whole bunch of crayons laying around in a box in my room. They must be 10 years old, at the least. Then one day, I saw THIS on pinterest, and I was totally PINSPIRED. Originally, when I was going to do this, My vision was of the melted crayon drops as drops of rain, and then I would draw a girl with an umbrella underneath. I'm not much of an artist, so I stuck with just melting crayons this time. 

So if you'd like to try this out or if you're just curious here's how I did it. 

YOU WILL NEED

(1) CRAYONS (and a multitude of them)
(2) A BLANK CANVAS (I got mine at the Dollarstore... for more than a dollar ($1.25))
(4) A BLOWDRYER (preferably something that has a rounded end rather than flat)
(5) DUCT TAPE
(6) A WALL (or large flat surface)


BELOW is a small portion of my crayon collection. I like brand names so a majority of it is crayola... 



I chose colours and omitted things like black/brown/white/silver/beige as I'll save those for another time and some other melted-crayon-project. I opted for a rainbow palette, picking out as may crayons that would fit the length of my expensive mini-dollar store canvas. 



After lining the crayons up, I taped the ends of the crayons all the way around on both sides of the crayons. So here's the hard part (sorry I don't have photos). I attached my long taped crayon bar onto a the top of a shoe box and the propped the box against the wall. Then, I propped the canvas underneath the crayons and leaned the canvas on a slant against the shoe box so that the crayons would melt downwards nicely. 


THE BEST PART. taking a blow dryer (don't forget to plug it in) and blowing it towards the crayons. I noticed that the crayons start to melt after about a minute or so. If you have a more narrow dryer it will be more easy to be precise and your melted crayon will go straight down. However, if you're like me you have a wide-ended blow dryer which blows the crayon melt to the sides of the canvas. 


THE FINISHED PRODUCT. I don't think this looks as good as the pinterest photo, but I had a lot fun. The way the crayon melted reminds me of the shape of the USA, I have no idea why. I would have liked to have more yellow for a better transition between green and orange. 


OVERALL. I totally felt like a kid doing this DIY. I'm sure any kid (if you've got one or a few) would have fun watching crayons melt with the on switch of a blow dryer. I'm not sure if I'll actually hang this up or anything but I like the bright colours. We'll call it "abstract" I guess. 

Let me know if you'd ever try something like this. What makes you feel like a kid again? What's your favourite DIY project? Do you have a pinterest? Leave your link below! 


Elegance and Edge ft. Jenvy Accessories - Giveaway!

Spikes and studs are in. clothesencounters, beautycrush, and thefashioncitizen approve. And if you're into that (I indeed am), the Jenvy Accessories is exactly what you're looking for. 

There's a fine line between elegance and edge, and Vivi of Jenvy Accessories has got it all. Her store has a huge selection of handmade jewellery made from all sorts of different bits and bobs that make her items truly unique. For example, the BUTTON AND SPIKE earrings are a force to be reckoned with. Cute and hardcore all at once. 

VIVI's Thoughts... 

ON INSPIRATION...

"Many of my inspirations come from my surroundings mainly, I have a fashion background, growing up I've always been very artistic/crafty. I keep a small sketchbook in my purse everywhere I go to make sure to write out or draw out my ideas. My inspirations come from anything as simple as a color, a shape, an item, anything really. Sometimes even from something my son will draw or make."

ON ETSY...

"I started working on my Etsy shop in early November of 2012, didn't officially open until the end of December. This all started out as a just a hobby and something I did for myself and friends, until over a discussion with family members they suggested I share my hobby with others."

ON CRAFTING MATERIALS....

"Most of my materials come from craft stores, some I order online. It really depends on what im working on. I work with different mediums, I can find items to use just about anywhere."


Vivi was kind enough to gift me two pieces to review and two to give away.







Got about a bajillion questions and compliments about this necklace. Mostly because it's unique. The mixture of the silver with black makes it a bit more dark, but still pretty because of the charm. The necklace is so easy to pair with a simple solid colour t-shirt (casual) or a dress (formal). 



I don't typically wear dangle earrings, but these ones are simple enough for me to wear on a regular basis with my hair down. I find that something about the length just highlights the collarbone really well.  I also love the way that it swings back and forth and looks like a metal hair extension when I wear my hair down with it. 

Overall, I really like these pieces. These are items are unique from the typical Forever 21/H&M jewellery. It's handmade and it's obvious that Vivi has put a lot of thought into her designs to make them uniquely beautiful with a touch of edge. 



.. and so... just for you! Another giveaway brought to you by a lovely Etsy-an. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada Only. 



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Halfway to the Runway: MAC Baking Beauties Spring/Summer 2013 Collection Ad

I don't follow MAC collections. If I did, I'd want it all. That being said, there's only two possibilities for a person who buys and owns at least one thing per a collection and that is broke ... or Temptalia. In fact, I only own one MAC product. It's a lip glass I got for free in a goodie bag after attending a charity event, the Fashion for Change Launch Party (2012). Any ways, I came across the MAC Baking Beauties Spring/Summer 2013 collection in an ad for the Bay. The thing that really caught my eye was the eye makeup. I thought "HEY! Her eyeshadow looks really similar to Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk." And then inspiration hit me. I've created the look using everything except MAC products but I've added my single MAC lip glass into the mix.  



THE LOOK:  (1) Red-brown eyes all the way up to the brow bone and (2) a brightened water-line. (3) No eye liner. (4) Bright pink cheeks slightly below the cheekbone and (5) a glossy, pale pink lip. (6) Bold eyebrows, two of which I already own. and...Oh and don't forget the (7) flawless skin. Unfortunately, the lovely daylight and my flash both wash out the colour of my eye makeup for photos from afar. Hopefully, you can get a feel for the look from the close-ups.. Also, in an attempt to match the ad, I'd like you to meet my friend "big-forehead". Awkward head tilt that doesn't match the MAC photo though... ;\


Benefit Oxygen Hello Flawless WOW foundation in "I'm All the Rage Beige" || Be a Bombshell blush in Sweet Cheeks

  1. Start with a blank canvas. 
  2. Tie up your hurr so that you don't get foundation in it. 
  3. The Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW foundation/brightening makeup in "I'm All the Rage Beige" is definitely my summer colour. I chose to use a darker foundation because it makes me look less pale. Plus, the MAC model has a stunning tan. The colour is pretty much self-tanner in foundation form. If I rub it in, it doesn't look too crazy. 
  4. I didn't use any setting powder. The Benefit foundation has a slightly dewy finish that I didn't what to diminish with powder. 


For cheeks, I took a mini-kabuki brush and dipped it into my broken Be a Bombshell blush in Sweet Cheeks (from the April Ipsy Bag). Despite being broken, the colour is the perfect bright pink. I drew a line over my cheekbones (or lack of..) and then blended it out the edges slightly, without totally making the pigmentation of the blush disappear. 


(1) Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk || Stila Luxe Eye Shadow Palette in (2) Silk and (3) Bubble Bath || (4) Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof  Kohl Kajal Liner in Nude (5) Pop Beauty Smokey Lash KAPOW Mascara 


  1. Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk all over the lid and slightly above the crease in an almond/cat-like shape. 
  2. I thought the colour tattoo was a little too red and not enough brown, so I took Stila eyeshadow in silk (a warm brown) and put it all over the Colour Tattoo. 
  3. I took a look in the mirror to see how my eyes were doing. I guess since I have hooded eyelids, I couldn't see much colour, so I was like YOLO and put silk up to my brow bone. 
  4. I felt a little odd with dark eyeshadow so high, so I blended it out up to my eyebrows with bubble bath (a yellow bone colour) from the same palette. 
  5. Brightened up the lower waterline with Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Liner in Nude (dupe for Stila Topaz). I think the peachy tone makes the whites in my eyes look whiter and gives me an overall "awake" look. 
  6. Since I didn't use eyeliner, I opted for a touch of mascara. The Pop Beauty Smokey Lash Mascara has a so-so effect on my lashes. On the downside, it smudges like a @!@##% (pardon my French) so I decided to use it for tutorial purposes only, rather than throwing it out and making a total waste of it.  
Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW foundation || Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten || MAC lipglass in Frozen Dream (Tartan Tale Collection)



  1. The lips were probably the hardest part of this look for me. I don't own any pale pink lipsticks, as I find they make me look dead. So, instead I tried to mix a few of my products to create a pale lip colour. First, I used the Benefit Oxygen WOW foundation to lighten my lip colour. My lips looked really dry and splotchy after that (photo 1 above)
  2. I patted Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten over the foundation for a little bit of pink. By then, my lips were still looking dry. So... 
  3. I added MAC lipglass in Frozen Dream to smooth everything out and add some shimmer and shine. 

And there you have it! The MAC Baking Beauties Spring/Summer 2013 Ad look is done with a single MAC product! 



By no means is this a "natural look" for Spring. I wouldn't even wear this going out. If you want to make it wearable, I'd say bring the eyeshadow back down to the crease and add a light champagne colour into the inner corner. Then, use a much lighter hand for blush and leave the lip as-is. 

How do you think I did? Do you follow MAC collections? Would you ever wear this look? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

REVIEW/NOTD: Revlon ChromaChameleon ft. Revlon Selects

Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, I've got a green(ish) mani to share with you. 

I'm wearing the Revlon ChromaChameleon Nail Polish in Gold, introduced to me through the Revlon Selects program. Ironically enough, this polish is called "Gold" and not "Green"... 

THE CLAIM: "Shine in rich jewel tones with the sensation of sleek colour changing multi-chromes on your fingertips" 



In a nutshell, this is Revlon's take on a duo-chrome polish. Gold is a rich and shimmery emerald colour that shines gold in the light. I've attempted to capture the golden light refracting quality in my photos. The look of the polish is super scientific and cool. It has that in-the-sunlight effect where it looks so cool when you turn your fingers back and forth. Not to mention, the green colour on its own is pretty too. If you want to compare it to something, it's a dark, rich version of Mojito by Indie Polish. 


The formula is surprisingly thin, yet pigmented. I thought I would be disappointed because the first coat went on as a sheer gold, but after I applied the second coat the polish looked green and opaque on my nails and I got excited. The lasting power is similar to that of an average polish (2 days without a topcoat, and 3+ with Revlon No Chip Top Coat). 





Overall, this polish is a great find. Good formula, awesome and unique colour.  This is something that I haven't seen from Revlon and I'm definitely impressed that they're coming out with fresh and innovative new products. That being said, the line is LIMITED-EDITION, but I hope they'll still have these out after I'm finished with all my bottles of polish. The other colours are : Pink Quartz, Rose Gold, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Gold, Cobalt, Topaz, and Tanzanite. If I was in the polish-buying mood, I'd totally pick up Rose Gold and Amethyst. 

You can find the Revlon Chroma Chameleon line anywhere where they sell Revlon products, though they may be on special displays at your drugstore. 

Are you a fan of duo-chrome products or do you prefer holo polishes? What's your fave duo-chrome? 

** I received this product for free via the Revlon Selects program. All opinions are my own and reflect my honest thoughts and experiences **