Thursday, March 28, 2013

Momofuku Noodle Bar (TO)

Hubs and I went to Momofuku Noodle Bar today. We stayed away for a long time due to less than stellar reviews... but we both love noodle soup and trying new eateries so we decided to finally pay it a visit ourselves.

Pork Buns (Kunan Farm, ON) // Hoisin, Scallion, Cucumber
These little snacks definitely lived up to the hype. I gave one of my pork belly pieces to my hubby because I don't really like fatty meat whereas he loves it. The bun with one piece of pork belly was perfect for me. It was delicious (the flavour reminded me of Peking duck) and I would re-order these in a heartbeat.

Momofuku Ramen (Kunan Farm, ON) // Pork Belly & Shoulder, Fish Cake, Egg
My hubby ordered the Momofuku Ramen and he was surprised by how much he liked it. There were 2 more pieces of pork belly along with some flavourful pork shoulder (I had some as I love pork shoulder). I tried a sip of the broth and thought it was decent.

Smoked Chicken Ramen (Harrison Co-op, ON) // Miso, Menma, Egg
I'm not sure why I ordered this as I'm not a huge fan of chicken. I don't like mushrooms either and there were tons of them in my ramen bowl... the broth also had an overwhelming mushroom flavour. I usually like soft boiled egg but this one was a little too soft (I don't like it when the egg white is uber soft). My favourite part of this dish was the crispy chicken skin - there were 3 generous pieces and also 2 big pieces of smoked chicken thigh - cooked perfectly but there was no smokey flavour. I thought the actual ramen noodles themselves were pretty good but I would not order this dish again... next time, I will go with dan dan mein, which is what I would have ordered if I did not have a momentary lapse in judgement.

Roasted Rice Cakes // Red Chili, Onion, Sesame
We had read reviews about the portions being very small so we ordered a side dish to share. These are little pan fried rice cakes... the texture is similar to gnocchi but I find these to be lighter and less rich. This is a spicy and satisfying comfort food but we were too full to finish the entire dish. We brought these home to enjoy later. I would re-order this.

Overall, we enjoyed our lunch at Momofuku (hubs really liked it) but it was very expensive for what is essentially noodle soup. These are not huge portions but still very filling as there is a lot of meat. Our total bill (no drinks) came to around $55 not including tip. Service was good and our servers were friendly. I'd probably go back one more time to try the duck buns and the dan dan mein but I doubt this will be a regular haunt for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 2013 SeasonsBox - Unboxing and Review

Another great SeasonsBox this month! The theme for March was a combination of St. Patrick's Day and spring so we got a lovely set of curated products that were green and eco-friendly. The box shipped a little late this month but it was definitely worth the wait.

We received a bigger box this month - rectangular instead of square. Very exciting!

Look at all the products nestled inside! The SeasonsBox presentation is phenomenal.

1. The Octavia Tea Company Emerald Spring Green Tea

50 g // $13

I have a mild obsession with tea so I was very excited about this product. I normally prefer to drink decaf but I found a section on the Octavia Tea website about decaffeinating tea at home:

Did you know you can decaffeinate your tea at home? Because caffeine is water-soluble, a portion of tea’s caffeine is released in the first 30 seconds of brewing. Therefore, caffeine-sensitive tea-drinkers can lower the caffeine content of any tea by ‘washing’ it from the leaf following 3 easy steps:

(1) Brew tea for 30 seconds
(2) Discard water
(3) Use the ‘decaffeinated’ leaves and brew as normal

This is the best thing I've learned so far this year! I suspect the same method is used to decaffeinate tea commercially as decaf tea generally tastes a lot weaker to me. I'm happy to have read this because now I can buy whatever tea I want and just follow the above steps to reduce my caffeine intake.

The green tea I received in my SeasonsBox is 100% organic and tastes great. It is very aromatic, slightly nutty, and not bitter. It also tastes amazing cold!

2. All Things Herbal Naturally Irish Soap in Dublin Mint

4.5 oz // $5.50

This is a handcrafted natural soap company based in Minnesota. I received a soap in the Naturally Irish collection called Dublin Mint and it smells incredibly refreshing. It's a blend of spearmint, peppermint, and rosemary. It's the perfect fresh spring pick-me-up scent.

As an aside, I took a look at the other products in this line and the beer soaps look really interesting!

3. Vance Kitira Incense Cones in Peach Cassis

15 cones // $7

This was a total blast from my past! I used to burn incense all the time when I was in high school (am I dating myself?) - albeit in a different format. I am very familiar with stick incense but this product comes in cute little cones - they are smaller than I expected but absolutely adorable. The set comes with a miniature ceramic dish, which serves as the "incense holder" and everything is contained in a rosewood box, which also reminds me of the holder I used way back when. I received the scent peach cassis - it's a mix of a sweet fruity scent with an incense scent... if you burn incense, you will know what I mean. I do like the smell of incense so I was happy to receive this product. This product is made in Thailand.

The cones themselves burn very quickly - in around 15 minutes. The scent is lovely as it's burning but I found that it did not linger. It did seem to freshen up the air in my condo though. There must be some sugar in the cones (perhaps due to the scent) because I am finding some caramelization in the bottom of the ceramic dish after burning the cones. I hope I can wash that out! After I finish the cones, I am planning to use the rosewood box to store my rings. :)

4. ShedRain Ecoverse Compact Umbrella in Root Green

1 umbrella // $32

I was most excited about this item! I go through umbrellas really quickly because I walk for long periods of time in all types of weather, including wind, rain, and blizzards. The last rainy (and windy) day resulted in my only compact neutral coloured umbrella being tossed in the trash... it was a few years old anyway... so this Ecoverse umbrella came at the perfect time. This is a manual umbrella. I really love that this umbrella is made from renewable, recycled, and recyclable components. The fabric canopy is made from 100% recycled fabric and the handle is made from bamboo. I also love the colour I received - a lovely and neutral military green.

Overall, I thought this was another well thought out SeasonsBox. I believe this box is still available on the SeasonsBox website if you are interested in trying the products yourself. The total value of the products included was $57.50. This is my 4th month of SeasonsBox and I am really loving this subscription service. Even though it's more expensive than other services out there, I feel it is a relatively safe choice as the products are curated very well - with nice variety and great quality. I also like that SeasonsBox endeavours to source products that are natural and responsible.

About SeasonsBox

SeasonsBox is a subscription service that promises 3-5 full-size luxury products for your home, body, and spirit. The box ships out of Ontario, Canada and is available to Canadian and U.S. residents. Besides curating boxes themed with a particular season (i.e., winter, spring, summer, fall), SeasonsBox also curates boxes themed with specific holidays (e.g., Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween). The contents of every box are intended to stimulate your senses with the scents and flavours associated with a season or holiday. SeasonsBox provides high quality, luxury, and full-size products (versus samples) with a focus on natural and responsible products. The products are also sourced from various places around the world and most of them are not available in commercial stores. SeasonsBox provides a preview of the products at the beginning of the month. Please visit the SeasonsBox website for current pricing.

If you would like to subscribe to SeasonsBox, I would be grateful if you would use my referral link... of course, I will also send heaps of good karma your way!

FTC: The March box was sent to me for review purposes. I also purchased a one year subscription to SeasonsBox with my own money.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hawker Bar

My friend and I went to Hawker Bar last night for our monthly dinner as I had read really good things about it... and we were not disappointed! Here is what we ordered:

Son In Law Eggs // soft boiled then fried, chili jam, prik nam pla
our server recommended that we eat this in one bite since the egg is soft boiled and would otherwise squirt all over the place... something we can attest to when my friend forgot and bit into it hehe! i thought this would be too big to eat in one bite but it was just right. very yummy!

Chili Salt Tofu // fried silken tofu, chili salt, house BBQ dipping sauce
I was surprised when this came out because the tofu pieces were very pale and I thought they would be fried to a golden brown. Nevertheless, this dish was delicious and my friend and I gobbled up every last bite. Our server recommended that we squeeze the lime on top before eating and it was perfect. The BBQ sauce was very sweet but still tasty.

Curry Pork Satay // peanut sauce, pickled cucumber
Another great dish! The pork was tender and flavourful. The peanut sauce was very rich and contained little pieces of peanut. We almost forgot to eat the pickled cucumber but thankfully we noticed in time because it was delish!

Singapore Noodles // chicken and tiger prawns, spicy curry sauce, cilantro
Our server noticed that I didn't eat the piece of cilantro on my son in law egg so she asked if she should ask the kitchen to hold the cilantro on the Singapore Noodles. I normally just pick off the cilantro as I always forget to mention it so I was very pleased that she noticed. Now that is great service! This dish is very spicy and extremely flavourful.

I also had a Hawker Sling (not pictured) - gin, benedictine, heering, pineapple, ginger beer. This is the 2nd cocktail in a very short period of time that I've had with ginger beer and it was incredible. Gin and ginger beer must be a natural pairing. Overall, we had a great experience at Hawker Bar and I would definitely make a return visit. The restaurant is very small and there are no reservations so arrive early or be prepared for a wait. Next time I go, I am going to try the Hawker Laksa Lemak!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

101 in 1001

Here we go with another 101 in 1001 list! Essentially, these are lists of 101 "things to do" to be accomplished in 1001 days. This is my second list, having started my first one on June 23, 2010. That one officially expired yesterday (I completed 48 items, which I thought was pretty good) and I've been working like a busy little bee to craft my new list. I have a ton of things I want to do and, while I don't really have a problem motivating myself to do them, I like making lists, keeping track of things, and checking stuff off. My new journey starts today.

My list contains things that are fun that I can't wait to do mixed with things I'd like to do that I've been putting off for a little while. I've combined my big lofty dreams with some simple everyday events. What I love about 101 in 1001 lists is that you can start at any time and that the list can grow with you. I am open to changing the items on my list as 2.74 years is a long time and, let's face it, I have a slight tendency to change my mind. I will be updating this blog post periodically over the next 1001 days.

Now doesn't this sound like fun? Won't you play along?

Start Date: 21-Mar-2013
End Date: 17-Dec-2015
Last Modified: 17-Dec-2015 ("checked off" items are shown in bold with a date of completion)

Number Completed: 55/101

*Note: crossed out items will be modified or replaced.

1. Pick grapes in France during harvest season // 15-Sep-2013 to 28-Sep-2013 (although the timing of our trip was off so it didn't turn out as expected).
2. Try at least 100 new restaurants. 153/100.
  • New York Subway // 22-Mar-2013 // Ordered: Cauliflower Burrito // Revisit? Yes.
  • Hawker Bar // 23-Mar-2013 // Ordered: Curry Pork Satay, Son In Law Eggs, Chili Salt Tofu, Singapore Noodles // Revisit? Yes.
  • Momofuku // 28-Mar-2013 // Ordered: Pork Buns, Momofuku Ramen, Smoked Chicken Ramen, Roasted Rice Cakes // Revisit? Maybe one more time. 
  • Melt Grilled Cheese // 30-Mar-2013 // Ordered: Classic, Hog Heaven // Revisit? Yes.
  • Gold Diamond Chinese Restaurant // 31-Mar-2013 // Ordered: Siu Mai, BBQ Pork Cheung Fun, Ham Shui Gok, BBQ Pork Buns, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, Pork Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce // Revisit? No.
  • Brioche Dorée // 20-Apr-2013 // Ordered: Parisien Sandwich x 2, Butter Croissant, Pain Au Chocolat, Chausson Aux Pommes, Raisin Roll // Revisit? Yes.
  • Hopgood's Foodliner // 20-Apr-2013 // Ordered: Nouveau Mot (Cocktail), 6 Oysters, Cape Breton Snow Crab, Braised Short Ribs & Fiddleheads // Revisit? Yes.
  • Barchef // 23-Apr-2013 // Ordered: Strawberries and Lavender (strawberry infused gin, strawberry and elderberry bitter, lavender infused orange liqueur, fresh lemon), Alsace (gin, rosemary and lavender bitter, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, chamomile syrup, red grapefruit zest), Lobster Poutine (lobster bisque, gruyere, fresh peas) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Joy Bistro Bar // 27-Apr-2013 // Ordered: Orange Juice, Hogtown (cider braised ham, smoked cheddar and jalapeno biscuit, aged cheddar mornay sauce) // Revisit? No.
  • Pacific Junction Hotel // 03-May-2013 // Ordered: Vietnamese Coffee, Bison Sliders (caramelized onions, sweet and smoky mustard, old cheddar, Monterey Jack, jalapeno relish & avocado) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Etsu // 14-May-2013 // I think we ordered the 9-piece sashimi, beef short ribs, red dragon roll // Revisit? Yes.
  • Edulis // 19-May-2013 // I can't remember the exact names and the menu changes daily but we ordered the asparagus, jumbo prawns, wagyu beef, and lamb saddle // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Absolute Restaurant // 28-May-2013 // PEI Mussels with Marinara-Tomato Sauce, Hand Seared Calamari (spicy piri piri sauce, alsatian potato salad, and extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, Duck Confit (muscovy duck leg, sweet potato mash, and sherry jus), Pecan Tart, Lemon Meringue // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Bloke & 4th // 31-May-2013 // tar tare (yellow fin tuna & wild salmon, chilli, taro root chips, wakame green apple, pineapple, ginger soy), 24 hour braised brisket slider (soft brioche, roasted garlic mayo, beer battered onion rings, pickled cucumber, house ketchup), we also had the slaw and the fish tacos (not on online menu) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Origin Liberty // 05-Jun-2013 // spicy spanish fries (chorizo + manchego), tostada (tomatillo salsa + guajillo cream + pumpkin seed + queso fresco), spicy tuna hand rolls (apple + shiso + miso mayonnaise + amaranth), arctic char (miso potatoes + crispy noodle + scallion) // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • The Works (St. Lawrence Market) // 08-Jun-2013 //  Jay's Ballgame Blowout, Poutine // Revisit? Yes - hubs loves this place!
  • The Burger's Priest (Queen & Spadina) // 14-Jun-2013 // Red Sea, Magnum, Fries, Strawberry Shake // Revisit? Yes. 
  • Banh Mi Boys // 25-Jun-2013 // Grilled Pork Banh Mi, Kimchi Fries // Revisit? Yes.
  • Giordano's (Chicago - Pulaski) // 28-Jun-2013 // Deep Dish Pizza with Cheese & Sausage // Revisit? Yes, if we're in the area again.
  • Shaw's Crab House (Chicago) // 29-Jun-2013 // Oyster Sampler, Salmon Tataki, Cucumber Niji Roll, Lobster Bisque, Steamed Alaskan Red King Crab Legs // Revisit? Yes.
  • Alinea*** (Chicago) // 30-Jun-2013 // Tasting Menu // Revisit? Yes.
  • STOCK // 11-Jul-2013 // Dolce Lucano’s Stracciatella (pingue prosciutto, cantaloupe, crostini), Woolwich Township Short Rib (celeriac purée, cabernet jus), Lemon Meringue Tart (wild blueberry preserve, cassis pearls, honey crème fraîche) // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Bosk // 19-Jul-2013 // Beet Salad (citrus / arugula / ricotta / honey vinaigrette), Pacific Salmon (gold potato / sweet peas / corn / romaine / citrus emulsion), Niagara Peaches (citrus cake / darjeeling cream / bourbon syrup / brown butter crumble) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Beast // 28-Jul-2013 // Bison Scramble (special) // Revisit? Yes, but for the Dough Toronto donuts.
  • Sabai Sabai // 17-Aug-2013 // Fresh Green Papaya Salad, Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp, Khao Soi (egg noodles with coconut curry gravy) with Chicken, Housemade Green Curry with Chicken, Crispy Fish with Housemade Sweet & Tangy Tamarind Reduction, Sticky Rice // Revisit? Yes.
  • Dr. Augusta's Samitorium // 22-Aug-2013 // Cuban sandwich (special), Homemade Ginger Beer Soda // Revisit? Perhaps... the homemade soda was delish!
  • Cibo Wine Bar // 28-Aug-2013 // Arugula (with prosciutto di parma, shaved parmigiano reggiano, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil), Pappardelle (with slow cooked lamb ragu, pecorino shavings) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Richmond Station // 06-Sep-2013 // Chili & Fennel Sausage Pasta (hand made orecchiette, toscano cheese, fennel, pickled peppers, basil) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Au Petit Comptoir (Reims) // 16-Sep-2013 // Avocado, Skate Wing, Chocolate Lava Cake // Revisit? Yes.
  • Bistrot du Forum (Reims) // 16-Sep-2013 // Steak Tartare // Revisit? No.
  • Cafe du Palais (Reims) // 17-Sep-2013 // Assiette de jambon de Reims, pommes de terre, salade // Revisit? Yes.
  • Le Restaurant de l'Abbaye Hautvillers (Hautvillers) // 18-Sep-2013 // Duck confit with Ratafia sauce// Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Les Boucles de Meuse (Montherme) // 18-Sep-2013 // Tagliatelle Carbonara // Revisit? Yes.
  • Le Bistrot de Lyon (Lyon) // 19-Sep-2013 // Skate Wing // Revisit? Yes.
  • L'Epicerie (Lyon) // 20-Sep-2013 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Mendo (Lyon) // 21-Sep-2013 // Gyoza, Peking Duck Udon // Revisit? I would, but I think it has since closed down! :(
  • La Trattoria de Saint Jean (Lyon) // 22-Sep-2013 // Margarita Pizza // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Les Jardins de L'Auberge (Annecy) // 22-Sep-2013 // I had the special regional menu that featured a lot of cheese! // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • La Table du Plot (Le Puy-en-Velay) // 23-Sep-2013 // Whole trout with lentils du Puy // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Comptoir Thomas (Lyon) // 23-Sep-2013 // «Pluma» de porc ibérique Pata Negra grillé à la plancha, sel de Chypre, Côte de boeuf Wagyu // Revisit? Yes.
  • Brasserie Saint Mart (Montelimar) // 24-Sep-2013 // Seafood pasta // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Cafe Comptoir Abel (Lyon) // 24-Sep-2013 // Salade Lyonnaise (salade verte, croûtons chauds, lardons sautés, œuf chaud), La poule au riz, sauce suprême, Sorbet au marron & chocolat chaud // Revisit? Yes.
  • Paul Bocuse - Auberge du Pont de Collonges*** (Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or) // 25-Sep-2013 // Cassolette of lobster ‘à l’Armoricaine’, Maine lobster salad ‘à la française’, Turbot in Champagne sauce, Beaujolais winemaker’s sherbet, Fricassee of Bresse chicken in cream sauce with morel mushrooms, Pigeon in puff pastry with young cabbage, Selection of fresh and matured cheese from «La Mère Richard», Delicacies & temptations - Fantasies & chocolates // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Le Coq Rico (Paris) // 26-Sep-2013 // Revisit? Yes.
  • La Mascotte (Paris) // 27-Sep-2013 // Escargots, Mushroom Risotto, Another Variety of Risotto, Octopus Parpardelle // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • McKelvie's Restaurant & Grill (Halifax) // 03-Oct-2013 // McKelvie's Original Crab Bisque, The Famous Digby Scallops // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • The Five Fishermen Restaurant & Grill (Halifax) // 05-Oct-2013 // Mussel & Salad Bar, Classic Maritime Style Lobster, Sticky Toffee Pudding // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • The Chase // 11-Oct-2013 // Beef Tartare, Lamb Agnoletti, Lobster Parpardelle // Revisit? Yes.
  • Ramen Raijin // 12-Oct-2013 // Noukou Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen // Revisit? Yes.
  • The Grove // 16-Oct-2013 // (1) Alliums and sunflower in broth, (2) Scallop, concord grape, almond, cauliflower, (3) Duck confit, (4) Peanut, grape, lime, meringue // Revisit? Yes!
  • The Fifth Pub House // 17-Oct-2013 // French Onion Soup, Mini Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese, Mini Truffled Mac & Cheese // Revisit? Yes. 
  • Japango // 08-Nov-2013 // Salmon & Avocado Hand Roll, Vegetable Udon // Revisit? Yes.
  • Bar Isabel // 09-Nov-2013 // Cheese Plate, Salumi Plate, Bread, Chorizo Verde & Octopus Skewers, Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Sauce, Arbol Chili Chickpeas & Snow Pea Leaves // Revisit? Yes.
  • Touhenboku Ramen // 16-Nov-2013 // Karaage, Original Touhenboku Ramen // Revisit? Yes.
  • Grand Electric // 23-Nov-2013 // Chorizo & Queso, Baja Fish, Crispy Cauliflower // Revisit? No.
  • Momofuku Daisho // 26-Nov-2013 // Boar Sausage (apple, pok pok vinegar, lentils), Muscovy Duck (turnip, currants, confit), Charred Cabbage (horse radish, monforte toscano, watercress), Brussels Sprouts (fish sauce, puffed rice, mint) // Revisit? Yes!
  • The Gabardine // 03-Dec-2013 // Deep Fried Beer Cheese Croquettes with Maple Mustard, Daily Risotto (it was leek & something else) // Revisit? Yes. 
  • Triple A Bar // 14-Dec-2013 // Chicken 'n Waffles // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Ursa // 11-Jan-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Horizons // 05-Feb-2014 // Winterlicious // Revisit? Yes.
  • Splendido // 06-Feb-2014 // Winterlicious // Revisit? Yes.
  • Wok of Fame // 08-Feb-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • JaBistro // 09-Feb-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Vibo // 11-Mar-2014 // Pappardelle al Astice (hand-made egg noodles tossed with Nova Scotia lobster and lobster sauce) // Revisit? Yes.
  • La Neuf Cafe // 15-Mar-2014 // Croque Madame // Revisit? Yes.
  • Michael's on Simcoe // 17-Mar-2014 // Dry Aged Beef Carpaccio (lemon truffle dressing, arugula, parmesan), 8 oz Strip Loin, Garlic Mashed Potato Gratin, Fontina Truffle Mac and Cheese // Revisit? Yes.
  • The Carbon Bar // 18-Mar-2014 // TCB Burger (pork cheek, havarti, pickles, mustard, fries) // Revisit? Yes.
  • Trattoria Pallottino (Florence) // 30-Mar-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Zoe (Florence - Aperitivo) // 31-Mar-2014 // Revisit? No.
  • Osteria del Caffe Italiano (Florence) // 01-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Caffe La Terrazza - Rooftop Terrace at La Rinascente (Florence) // 02-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Gusta Pizza (Florence) // 03-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Trattoria del Carmine (Florence) // 03-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Dario DOC (Panzano) // 04-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Panifacio Focacceria (Vernazza) // 05-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • IO Osteria Personale (Florence) // 05-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Pizzeria Fuori Rotta (Venice) // 06-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Alfredo's Fresh Pasta to Go (Venice) // 07-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Antico Forno (Venice) // 07-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Trattoria Al Gatto Nero (Burano) // 08-Apr-2014 // Risotto Burano Style (delicate risotto typical of Burano island, made with Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice and "ghiozzi" fish - a small long bodied fish with a pleasing taste fished in the lagoon), Fried Filets of John Dory // Revisit? Yes!
  • Pizza Al Volo (Venice) // 08-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Ristorante Life (Rome) // 09-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Pizzeria San Marco (Rome - Via Sardegna location) // 10-Apr-2014 // Revisit? No.
  • Ristorante Moma (Rome) // 10-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Metamorfosi Restaurant* (Rome) // 11-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Bar Buca // 19-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Luckee // 19-Apr-2014 // Revisit? Yes!
  • d|bar // 03-May-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Spinnerstown Hotel (Quakertown) // 12-May-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Drake 150 // 17-May-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • East Thirty-Six // 24-May-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • The Atlantic // 21-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Harvest Kitchen // 22-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Daniel*** (NYC) // 28-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Yes!
  • Epicerie Boulud (NYC) // 29-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Eleven Madison Park*** (NYC) // 29-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Juliana's (Brooklyn) // 30-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Joe Allen (NYC) // 30-Jun-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Montecito // 27-Jul-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Isshin Ramen // 14-Aug-2014 // Revisit? Probably not (food was good but it took around an hour to arrive).
  • Bent // 16-Aug-2014 // Revisit? Probably not.
  • Patois // 21-Aug-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Yunaghi // 30-Aug-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • America // 13-Oct-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Rasa // 18-Oct-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Celebrity Hot Pot // 25-Oct-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Taian*** // 15-Nov-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Nakajima* // 20-Nov-2014 // Revisit? Yes!
  • The Queen and Beaver Public House // 29-Nov-2014 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Dragon Legend Buffet // 6-Dec-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Colette Grand Cafe // 13-Dec-2014 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Mama's Fish House (Maui) // 1-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Coconut's Fish Cafe (Maui) // 2-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Koiso Sushi (Maui) // 3-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Star Noodle (Maui) // 5-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Ka'ana Kitchen (Maui) // 6-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Yes!
  • Pai // 9-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Campagnolo // 21-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Byblos // 27-Feb-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Mamakas // 20-Mar-2015 // Revisit? No.
  • Yasu // 3-Apr-2015 // Revisit? Yes!
  • Geraldine // 11-Apr-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Drake Hotel // 25-Apr-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Frank's Kitchen // 3-May-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • R&D // 5-May-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Spoonful // 9-May-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Piper's Pub (Pittsburgh) // 16-May-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Eleven (Pittsburgh) // 17-May-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Legume (Pittsburgh) // 18-May-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Hob Nob (Pittsburgh) // 20-May-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Treadwell (Pittsburgh) // 21-May-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • The Chase Fish & Oyster // 30-May-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Cluny // 6-Jun-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Loaded Pierogi // 9-Jul-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • FLOCK // 12-Jul-2015 // Revisit? Yes!
  • The Shore Club // 22-Jul-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Fox & Fiddle // 3-Aug-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Artful Dodger // 11-Aug-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Little Fin // 19-Aug-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Wilbur // 21-Aug-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • The Tavern by Trevor // 11-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Carl's Junior // 12-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Lamesa Kitchen // 15-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Lee Chen // 23-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Emporio Armani Caffe (Milan) // 27-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Perhaps.
  • Ristorante Piazza Repubblica (Milan) // 27-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Antica Osteria Cavallini (Milan) // 29-Sep-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Pamier Kabob // 4-Oct-2015 // Revisit? Yes!
  • Terroni (Yonge at Price) // 16-Oct-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Nora's Shawarma // 8-Nov-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Buca Yorkville // 9-Nov-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • George // 14-Nov-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • FIGO // 6-Dec-2015 // Revisit? Yes.
  • Chine Hot Pot // 12-Dec-2015 // Revisit? Yes!
3. Celebrate 4th anniversary with a linen or silk gift for hubby // 8-Aug-2013.
4. Celebrate 5th anniversary with a wood gift for hubby // 8-Aug-2014.
5. Celebrate 6th anniversary with an iron gift for hubby // 8-Aug-2015.
6. Visit Italy for Expo Milano 2015 // 26-Sep-2015 to 3-Oct-2015.
7. Read 35 books. 20/35.
8. Paint the kitchen ceiling.
9. Have date night with hubby at least once a month. 25-Apr-2013. 25-May-2013. 11-Jun-2013. 11-Jul-2013. 08-Aug-2013. 02-Sep-2013. 13-Oct-2013. 23-Nov-2013. 31-Dec-2013. 18-Jan-2014. 09-Feb-2014. 17-Mar-2014. 27-Apr-2014. 18-May-2014. 22-Jun-2014. 27-Jul-2014. 9-Aug-2014. 27-Sep-2014. 9-Oct-2014. 15-Nov-2014. 31-Dec-2014. 27-Jan-2015. 6-Feb-2015. 7-Mar-2015. 3-Apr-2015. 17-May-2015. 13-Jun-2015. 22-Jul-2015. 8-Aug-2015. 6-Sep-2015. 12-Oct-2015. 14-Nov-2015. 12-Dec-2015.
10. Watch a drive-in movie.
11. Do a cleanse // 26-Oct-2013 to 08-Nov-2013 (this was a mild 2 week cleanse involving no caffeine, alcohol, or processed food) & 22-Apr-2014 to 24-Apr-2014 (3 day juice cleanse with Greenhouse Juice).
12. Blog every day for one month. Vlogust 2014.
13. Post a vlog once a month. 33/34. March 2013. April 2013. May 2013 - Part 1. May 2013 - Part 2. June 2013. July 2013. August/September 2013. October 2013. November 2013. December 2013. January 2014. February 2014. March 2014. Italy 2014 - Part 1. Italy 2014 - Part 2. Italy 2014 - Part 3. May 2014 - Part 1. May 2014 - Part 2. June 2014 - Part 1. June 2014 - Part 2. NYC 2014 - Part 1. NYC 2014 - Part 2. July 2014. Vlogust 2014. September 2014. October 2014. Japan Vlogs. November 2014. December 2014. January 2015. February 2015. March 2015. April 2015. May 2015. June 2015. July 2015. August 2015. September 2015. October 2015. November 2015. December 2015.
14. Catch up on blogging photos from past trips - i.e., up to Japan 2014.
15. Learn how to use Google+ // I have a PPS profile and I converted to Google+ comments so I think I got the hang of it...
16. Re-organize our built-in wall unit // August 2015.
17. Go cross country skiing.
18. Answer the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind in 2015 and see if my responses have changed // 2-Nov-2015.
19. Send out Christmas cards // 2015.
20. Get anniversary photos taken of hubby and me.
21. Take a photography road trip for a minimum of 3 days.
22. Find a way to display or store my travel postcards.
23. Put up a mosiac of frames with family photos.
24. Maintain my target weight range.
25. Spend a weekend completely offline // 14-Nov-2015 to 15-Nov-2015.
26. Go bungee jumping or skydiving // We went skydiving on 04-Aug-2013!
27. Shoot a roll of 120 or 220 film.
28. Go snowshoeing.
29. Work at bonding Truffle and Lulu - goal is for Truffle not to growl at Lulu whenever she moves.
30. Send a secret to PostSecret.
31. Take a helicopter ride // 21-May-2015.
32. Participate in Help-Portrait.
33. Participate in another trip with the Habitat for Humanity Global Village program.
34. Re-stock my Etsy shop.
35. Purchase the Mulberry Alexa // 01-May-2013.
36. Ride a hot air balloon.
37. Learn how to whistle - the loud and obnoxious way.
38. Take Lulu camping with us.
39. Buy a new set of pots and pans // 30-Jul-2013.
40. Purchase a good travel carry-on // 07-May-2014.
41. Complete a minimum of 3 photo series.
42. Take a wine class - a self-directed class is also acceptable.
43. Enter a minimum of 3 photo competitions.
44. Clean out and organize my personal e-mail account // June 2014.
45. Do a minimum 10 km hike outside of Ontario - e.g., Grand Canyon, Samaria Gorge, MacLehose trail, etc.
46. Follow through with a secret item, which will be revealed when complete - if you know what this is, please remain silent. :)
47. Buy all fruit and veggies at farmers' markets for an entire month // 13-Jun-2013 - I signed up for a weekly produce delivery service so I am considering this item complete!
48. Visit Kauai, Hawaii // 31-Jan-2015 to 7-Feb-2015 (we went to Maui instead).
49. Visit St. Jacobs, Ontario // 03-Aug-2013.
50. Give at least 5 "just because" gifts to friends and family // completed October 2015.
51. Send out at least 5 "just because" cards or letters to friends and family.
52. Buy a set of coasters // 18-Sep-2013.
53. Bake 3 varieties of scones from scratch.
54. Get draperies for our condo.
55. Make a written inventory of our property.
56. Get our wills drawn up.
57. Eat at 3 Michelin three-star restaurants. 5/3. Alinea // 30-Jun-2013. Paul Bocuse // 25-Sep-2013. Daniel // 28-Jun-2014. Eleven Madison Park // 29-Jun-2014. Taian // 15-Nov-2014. 
58. Make Caesar salad dressing from scratch.
59. Visit Japan or Hong Kong again // 8-Nov-2014 to 22-Nov-2014.
60. Talk to all the vendors at the 2013 Blush Pretty Beauty Board // 05-May-2013.
61. Watch the first season of House of Lies // 02-Nov-2013.
62. Watch Taras Bulba // 06-Apr-2013.
63. Watch all the Oscar Best Picture nominated movies from 2013, 2014, or 2015 // I watched all the 2015 nominees! :)
64. Get my tattoo changed to something I actually like.
65. Eat healthy (no processed food) every day for one month.
66. Go strawberry picking.
67. Wear MAC Rebel to an event // 23-Sep-2013.
68. Fund my investment account to the target threshold // June 2015.
69. Try a côte-rôtie // 24-Sep-2013.
70. Buy something from a yard sale or an antique market // 13-Jun-2015 (my friend and I sold stuff at a yard sale so that was even better).
71. Go to a Toronto FC game // 18-Jun-2013.
72. Have afternoon tea at The Ritz Carlton, Toronto // 22-Jun-2013.
73. Buy fresh flowers for the condo when there is no special occasion // a few times in 2015!
74. Max out my RRSP contribution room // 22-Jan-2014.
75. Give nail art a try - at least 5 different designs. 3/5. Polka Dots. Glitter Gradient. Random Mani. // I've decided nail art isn't for me (I'm terrible at it!).
76. Eat a cronut // 30-Jun-2014.
77. Watch Les Misérables at Princess of Wales Theatre // 21-Nov-2013.
78. Make a snowman at least 4 feet tall.
79. Exchange advent gifts with Hubs. // 13-Dec-2015 to 25-Dec-2015 (my friend and I are doing a truncated advent calendar as our holiday event.)
80. Make spa water // 19-Jun-2013.
81. Make a pitcher of sangria // July 2015 (I have been making a single serve cocktail variation of sangria quite often this summer.)
82. Visit a corn maze.
83. Have a themed movie marathon - minimum 3 movies in one day.
84. Learn a new movie editing software // I'm editing on Final Cut Pro (previously iMovie) as of July 2013.
85. Find a new massage therapist.
86. Bring a healthy lunch to work every day for one month // November 2013.
87. Add the following pieces to my wardrobe:
  • Camel coat // Uniqlo
  • Work appropriate and walk friendly black boots // Stuart Weitzman Reserve Boots
  • Boyfriend jeans // Uniqlo
  • Structured black bag // Givenchy Antigona
  • Oversize black coat // American Apparel
  • Long faux fur coat // Forever 21
88. Do one of the many puzzles I have tucked away in the locker // 14-Jun-2015 to 15-Jun-2015.
89. Capture a photo of Truffle yawning // Hubs got one on 25-Aug-2013!
90. Make a time lapse or stop motion video.
91. Watch 10 movies chosen solely by hubby. 3/10. Olympus Has Fallen // 29-Mar-2013. Man of Steel // 16-Jun-2013. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes // 12-Jul-2014.
92. Buy a new bed.
93. Buy a new couch.
94. Ride a two person bike or one of those car things on Centre Island.
95. Go on 7 photo walks.
96. Write a letter to Santa Claus.
97. Dust off my fondue set and have a night of cheesy goodness.
98. Pickle my own pickles.
99. Swatch my entire collection of nail polish // October 2014.
100. Wear my vintage jumbo XL 3 times. 1/3. 23-Mar-2013. Sold bag in November 2014.
101. Do the 30 day squat challenge // December 2014.

    February 2013 Beauty Box 5 - Unboxing and Review

    The February Beauty Box 5 arrived late as it was shipped towards the end of month. It took a full 3 weeks to arrive at my door. Was it worth the wait?

    Beauty Box 5 is a monthly subscription service that promises 4-5 beauty samples in each box. It ships out of Austin, Texas. The samples are shipped in relatively small cardboard shipping box. The current dimensions of the box are approximately 6.5 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches and the box fits easily in my tiny condo mailbox.

    Here is what i received (in order of appearance in the video):

    1. The Brush Guard Sample Pack

    I was extremely happy to see brush guard in the BB5 this month! I have heard great things about these so I cannot wait to try them. The sample pack includes one each of the extra small, small, and medium size brush guards.

    Full size // various sizes available // $5.50
    Sample size // 1 xs + 1 s + 1 m // approximately $2.34

    2. Coolway Boost Repair Serum

    Impressions: When I initially smelled this product in the tube, I thought it smelled really good, like citrus (lemon pie, perhaps?)... then I used this product in the shower and it smelled horrid. It smelled like it was full of chemicals and the scent was a little nauseating. I still finished the tube but I did not enjoy it. I didn't notice that it did anything special for my hair. It blows my mind that this tiny tube retails for $14.95... I got about 2 uses out of this tube.

    Travel size and sample size // 1 oz // $14.95

    3. H2O Plus Bath Aquatics Natural Spring Shampoo

    I've tried some H2O Plus products in the past and I recall really liking them so I was happy to see this sample in my BB5 this month. I had actually forgotten about this brand so I am eager to get reacquainted! I have never tried any of the hair products in this line. This shampoo smells amazing - fresh and clean.

    Full size // 250 mL // $14
    Sample size // 37 mL // approximately $2.07

    4. Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Coconut Lime

    This product looks and smells amazing! It smells exactly like coconut with a hint of lime. I like that this is a sugar scrub, which is supposed to be less drying than a salt scrub. We received a generous 5.5 ounces of product, which is actually sold as a travel size but I couldn't find the pricing online.

    Full size // 18 oz // $7.49
    Sample size // 5.5 oz // approximately $2.29

    5. Beauty Box 5 Travel Brush

    This was a fun little item that was made for the anniversary box. I was happy to receive this as it is perfect for popping into my purse. It's super cute (it reminds me a little of a porcupine) and I love the colour as well.

    $7 based on a similar brush found on the Sephora website

    6. $50 Gift Card to

    At first, I disregarded this extra as we receive a lot of gift cards in beauty boxes and you invariably have to spend money to take advantage of the offer. After looking into it a bit more, I realized we could actually use the gift card to buy around 5 workouts from the website with no strings attached! I am excited to give this a try... most of the workouts available online are audio only though. I'm not sure if there are any videos available for purchase. Regardless, this was a nice addition to the BB5.

    When I first opened this month's Beauty Box 5, I was actually a tad disappointed because I had such high expectations this month. This box was hyped up quite a bit and I was surprised we didn't receive any makeup samples. However, after going through the contents, I became much happier with the box. All in all, I think this was a very good anniversary box. I subscribed to this service for a year so I am only paying $8.33 per box (including shipping), which I think is an absolute steal.

    // Approximate value of the products in the February 2013 Beauty Box 5: $28.65 not including the $50 gift card//

    Are you subscribed to Beauty Box 5? If so, what do you think of this month's box?

    If you wish to join Beauty Box 5 through my invitation, I will earn a credit and send heaps of good karma your way!

    Note: I paid for this subscription with my own money.

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    March 2013 Topbox (Pure + Simple Privé Box) - Unboxing and Review

    I wasn't too impressed with the Privé box choices for the month of March but since I knew I would like both of the products included in the Pure + Simple box, I decided to play it safe and choose that one.

    Here is what I received (in order of appearance in the video):

    1. Pure + Simple - Face Colour in Blush

    Impressions: I am really loving this blush. It looks like an ordinary dusty rose in the pan but it swatches beautifully with a rose gold sheen to it. I've been wearing this blush almost every day since I got it. I have the Pure + Simple blush in Soleil as well - that shade leans more peachy/coral but is less pigmented than the one I received in my Topbox.

    The only disappointment I had with this product was due to a discrepancy with the size. The Topbox product card and the Pure + Simple website show the full size blush at 5 grams but the one we received is 3.5 grams (which matches the blush in Soleil that I already have). I contacted Topbox about this and it appears that Pure + Simple recently changed the amount of product that is in the full size blush to 5 grams (I guess we received the old packaging size of 3.5 grams). Topbox is still trying to sort this out with Pure + Simple but has offered to include a bonus sample in my April Topbox in light of this error.

    The other issue with this product (both the blush and bronzer choices) is that many subscribers received shattered products as the pans are loose in the compact and move around when shaken. I was lucky that my blush was still intact. I put a piece of tape in both my Pure + Simple blushes to keep them in place. I believe Topbox will be replacing the shattered products.

    Full size // 5 g // $16.95 (on sale right now for $12.71)
    Sample size // 3.5 g // approximately $11.87 based on the regular price

    2. China Glaze in Purr-Fect Plum

    Impressions: I've been wanting a nail polish in this exact shade so I was very happy to see this included in the Privé box. I think this polish looks great on and it's also easy to apply (opaque in 2 coats). This is part of China Glaze's On Safari collection so quite a number of subscribers have already received this but I got Elephant Walk in my November 2012 Topbox so this shade was new to me.

    Full size and sample size // 14 mL // $8.95

    While I enjoyed this month's Topbox, I was a little confused about the direction of the Privé box program as I thought that these boxes were intended to feature a single brand. Topbox confirmed that the Privé box will usually contain only one brand but in March there were two boxes that included other samples. Apparently, this may happen again in the future but there will also be boxes that contain only one brand. I understand that we received full size products this month (or rather, we were supposed to receive full size products); however, I still think Topbox should follow through on its promise to deliver 4 samples in each box. Hopefully, Topbox will make a change for future months.

    // Approximate value of the products in the March 2013 Topbox: $20.82 //

    I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to stay subscribed to Topbox... I'm thinking only a month or two but for some reason, I can't bring myself to cancel it just yet. I believe there will be some choices for the month of April so I'm definitely going to wait to see the options. I'd love to see a MaskerAide Privé box with all 6 of the sheet masks!

    If you wish to join Topbox through my invitation, I will earn a credit and send heaps of good karma your way!

    Note: I purchased this Topbox with my own money.

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    February 2013 Empties

    I recorded my February Empties video quite some time ago but completely forgot to blog it. Whoops!

    * = Disliked the product - would not repurchase
    ** = Liked the product - might or might not repurchase
    *** = Loved the product - would repurchase

    1. Skala Beauty from Brazil Avocado Shampoo
    Source: Purchased by me and my hubby when we were in Aruba!
    Thoughts: We purchased this to use as a shampoo and body wash when we were on vacation. I liked this product (especially the scent) but I haven't seen it here in Canada so I doubt I will be making a re-purchase.
    Rating: **

    2. Personal Paradise Noni Papaya Pineapple Conditioning Shampoo & Conditioner
    Source: These were supplied by our lovely hosts at the Volcano Teapot Cottage on the Big Island.
    Thoughts: I really enjoyed the scent of these products but, again, I don't think I would purchase the full size as these products are not available in Canada.
    Rating: **

    3. Bath & Body Works Rainkissed Leaves Volumizing Shampoo
    Source: Hotel sample?
    Thoughts: This product was ok but nothing special and I likely would not purchase the full size.
    Rating: **

    4. Bienvenue Paris Hair & Body Gel
    Source: Hotel sample?
    Thoughts: I did not like this product. It was very thin and seemed to dry out my hair.
    Rating: *

    5. Coolway Boost Repair Mask
    Source: January 2013 Glymm Bag
    Thoughts: When I initially smelled this product in the tube, I thought it smelled really good, like citrus (lemon pie, perhaps?)... then I used this product in the shower and it smelled horrid. It smelled like it was full of chemicals and the scent was a little nauseating. I still finished the tube but I did not enjoy it. I didn't notice that it did anything special for my hair.
    Rating: *

    6. Nexxus Therappe Luxurious Hydrating Shampoo
    Source: November 2012 Glossybox
    Thoughts: I'm not a huge fan of this product. The more I use it, the less I like it. I'm not a huge fan of the scent and it doesn't do anything for my hair.
    Rating: *

    7. Cake Satin Sugar Hair & Body Refreshing Powder for Darker Hues
    Source: Purchased by me!
    Thoughts: I like this dry shampoo as it works very well but I prefer the Principessa Beauty Notte Breeze for a couple of reasons. First, because I like the scent of the Principessa Beauty powder better - it is more floral and less sweet. I also like the colour tone of the Principessa Beauty powder better - it is a cooler brown shade whereas the Cake powder is a much warmer, almost orange, shade. That being said, I would re-purchase this product at the right price.
    Rating: **

    8. Tresemme Tres Two Hair Spray - Hold #5
    Source: Purchased by my hubby
    Thoughts: This is our favourite hair spray and we will continue to re-purchase this product. :)
    Rating: ***

    9. Personal Paradise Noni Papaya Pineapple Body Wash
    Source: These were supplied by our lovely hosts at the Volcano Teapot Cottage on the Big Island.
    Thoughts: Same comment as above... I really enjoyed the scent of these products but I don't think I would purchase the full size as these products are not available in Canada.
    Rating: **

    10. Bath & Body Works Rainkissed Leaves Shower Gel
    Source: Hotel sample?
    Thoughts: Same comment as above... this product was ok but nothing special and I likely would not purchase the full size.
    Rating: **

    11. Perfumessence Organic “Breathe” Shower Bath Bomb
    Source: January 2013 SeasonsBox
    Thoughts: I really enjoyed this product. The bath bomb foamed and fizzed really nicely and it smelled really nice.
    Rating: ***

    12. Eco Sciences Shea Butter Body Bar and Facial Bar
    Source: Waipio Rim B&B
    Thoughts: These products were just ok. I was expecting to really like them because I found the packaging really attractive but they were nothing special.
    Rating: **

    13. Scottish Fine Soaps - Soap in a Tin - Oatmeal Soap
    Source: Purchased for me by my hubby from Winners
    Thoughts: Of the three tinned soaps that I've tried (oatmeal, lavender, and seaweed), this is definitely my favourite. I love that it has little oatmeal bits in it so you can use it to exfoliate. These soaps are triple milled so they are really hard and they also last a long time. Ok, that last part can be interpreted a few different ways but you know what I mean!
    Rating: ***

    14. Scottish Fine Soaps - Soap in a Tin - Lavender Soap
    Source: Purchased for me by my hubby from Winners
    Thoughts: I really liked this soap as well, mainly because of the scent. I love lavender scented products.
    Rating: ***

    15. MaskerAide Sheet Mask in Weather Warrior
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: I LOVE this sheet mask. The formulation of the essence in this mask worked really well with my skin. Now that I've tried all 6 of the MaskerAide formulations, I can safely say that my favourites are Detox Diva (scent), All Nighter (scent), and Weather Warrior (formulation).
    Rating: ***

    16. Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
    Source: January 2012 Glymm Box
    Thoughts: It took me a year to use up this small sample because I found this product way too harsh for my skin. Owwie!
    Rating: *

    17. Rexall Quilted Round Cosmetic Pads
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: Nothing special about these. I use them to remove nail polish and also if I run out of my Shiseido Facial Cotton.
    Rating: **

    18. Shiseido Facial Cotton
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: I love these cotton pads and they are a staple in my beauty regimen.
    Rating: ***

    19. Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & Lips
    Source: Clinique bonus
    Thoughts: I really liked this product. It is one of those duo layer products that you shake up before using. I found it to be very gentle yet effective. It didn't sting my eyes and was pretty good at removing my eye makeup.
    Rating: **

    20. Sephora Anti-Shine Foundation Primer
    Source: Sephora gift with purchase
    Thoughts: I liked this primer but prefer my Benefit POREfessional.
    Rating: **

    21. Lashem Double Trouble Mascara
    Source: January 2013 Glymm Bag
    Thoughts: I actually loved this mascara because it gave my lashes a separated and natural look while still giving me sufficient volume and length. However, when I went to purchase the full size, I noticed that the mascara is actually double ended and neither of the brushes looked like the brush that came with the sample. I wasn't sure the sample was a good representation of the full size so I held back from buying it. Not sure if I'll try it in the future.
    Rating: **

    22. Crawford Street Skin Care Spearmint-Vanilla Lip Balm
    Source: Blush Pretty Beauty Board!
    Thoughts: I loved this lip balm - it is easy to apply and reasonably moisturizing. The scent is also nice although I'd like to try the Tangerine Lip Balm. I can't wait until the Beauty Board in May so I can stock up on some more products from this brand!
    Rating: ***

    23. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15
    Source: Sephora 2012 Birthday Gift
    Thoughts: I really enjoyed this product but not sure I would purchase the full size due to the price. Also I find this product is very soft so it does not hold up well with heat or pressure. Mine broke about halfway through and became a huge mess... but I still managed to finish it without losing any!
    Rating: **

    24. Clinique High Impact Eyeshadow in Suede
    Source: Clinique Bonus
    Thoughts: I can't remember the last time I finished an eyeshadow! I used this all over my eye as a base and also to set my under eye concealer, which is probably why I was able to use it up so quickly. I liked this eye shadow but not sure I would purchase the full size as nothing about it really stood out to me.
    Rating: **

    25. Essence Multi Action False Lashes Mascara
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: I liked this mascara the first few times I used it but it quickly got extremely clumpy and hard to work with... so much so that I had to say goodbye to it before I even finished the product. Overall, I didn't like this mascara.
    Rating: *

    26. Essence Lash & Brow Gel Mascara
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: I really liked this product as it does what it's supposed to but is also at a great price point. This product isn't finished either but it was getting narsty so time to bid farewell.
    Rating: ***

    26. Vance Kitira Hand Poured Cathedral Candle in Caramel Pear
    Source: January 2013 SeasonsBox
    Thoughts: I loved this candle. It smelled great and lasted forever. It is supposed to be drip free but mine developed a hole on the side so some of the wax leaked out onto my counter. I didn't really mind because it was an easy cleanup and I kind of like the look of melted wax anyway.
    Rating: ***

    27. Downy Unstopables In Wash Scent Booster in Fresh
    Source: Purchased by my hubby
    Thoughts: I am just ok about this product but my hubby loves it because he is really likes the scent of fresh laundry. I actually did re-purchase this product but it was mainly for him.
    Rating: **

    28. David's Tea Decaf Earl Grey
    Source: Purchased by me
    Thoughts: I love Earl Grey but I can't really handle caffeine so I snapped up a whole bunch of these packets when I saw them on sale at David's Tea. Sadly, this tea is not very flavourful but I'm still going to drink it (I have part of a 50g bag left). I may still re-purchase this... it depends on whether I can find another decaf black tea that I like more... they are proving difficult to find.
    Rating: **

    Not too shabby with my empties this month! I'm happy. :)

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Paul Lionhead

    I haven't done an outfit post in a very long time. Truth be told, the reason I don't do very many of these is because when I find an outfit I like, I literally wear it all the time so my outfit posts would get pretty tiresome. Regardless, here is what I wore to dinner with my girlfriend this evening. We meet once a month and we always have a nice meal with great conversation.

    I've been wearing my hair in this messy topknot lately. My husband calls me Paul Lionhead when I wear my hair like this because (1) I remind him of his East Indian childhood friend named Paul who tied his hair exactly like this in a mini turban and (2) after a night of being in this topknot, all my baby hairs come out and frame my face like a lion's mane. You'd think this nickname would make me stop wearing my hair this way but nope.

    When you like something, do you find you wear it over and over again? Or are you good at rotating the pieces in your wardrobe?

    February 2013 Glymm Bag - Unboxing and Review

    UPDATE (April 2013): Please read my most recent post on Glymm before ordering from this company.

    It's time for another Glymm bag review! As some of you may know, I signed up for the Polish Me Up Promotion so I receive a bonus nail polish in addition to the regular samples in the Glymm bag. This is the 5th month of my 1 year subscription and also the first month I thought the contents of the Glymm bag stood well on their own, i.e., irrespective of the bonus nail polish.

    This month's cosmetic bag is not really my style but for some reason I really love it! I think it's a combination of the pattern and the nylon material. I'm assuming the heart theme was due to this being the February bag (we also received a heart-shaped lollipop); however, since Glymm shipped the bag at the end of the month, I did not receive it until early March. Glymm has stated that the standard shipping date has changed to the end of the month. This is unfortunate because the one thing that Glymm really had going for it was the earlier shipping date.

    Here is what I received (in order of appearance in the video):

    1. Villainess Soap in Ginger Snapped

    Even though this is a teeny tiny sliver of soap, I am happy I received this sample. I love the Villainess line of products - everything smells amazing and this soap is no exception. It smells just like gingerbread... mmmmmm!!!

    Full size // 3.5 oz // $5.50
    Sample size // 0.5 oz // approximate value of $0.79

    2. NaiLuv UV / LED Gel Shades

    I was a disappointed in this sample when I saw that you need a UV light to cure this nail polish. This is the first sample I've received in a beauty box that I cannot use without spending more money. I received the nail polish in the shade berry sweetie. I have seen swatches of this shade and it is absolutely beautiful; however, I don't really want to buy a UV light because I'm not sure I would get a lot of use out of it (I'm a frequent polish changer)... instead, I was thinking of bringing it into a nail salon and getting it applied there so I could at least give it a try.

    Full size // 15 mL // $14.95
    Sample size // 4 mL // approximate value of $3.99

    3. Purely Pro Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Luxury

    Impressions: I am really loving this eyeshadow! It is a very smooth and silky formulation with decent pigmentation. I've been wearing this shade every day to work and it's a beautiful taupe shade, which is a shade that I am typically drawn to. I am very happy that I received a neutral, matte eyeshadow because it's so wearable. I tend to receive bright colours or shimmery shadows in my beauty boxes, which are great too but I don't wear those types of shades as often.

    Full size & sample size // 1.7 g // $18

    4. Femme Couture Monster Gloss in Divine

    Impressions: I didn't think this lip gloss would be very wearable at first because it looks so purple in the tube but the colour on the lips is a really pretty berry shade. The formulation is a medium to heavy weight but not sticky and it seems to absorb into your lips so the product is very moisturizing. The colour is buildable but seems to fade the longer you wear it... something I'm not unhappy with as it looks really natural. I've even worn this lip gloss to work! There is a pleasant scent and no flavour. I love the huge wand that this lip gloss comes with. It's not easy to use but it's hilarious so it makes me happy. I've been told it is the same size as the wand included with the MAC Wonder Woman Lipglasses.

    Full size & sample size // 10.4 g // $9

    5. The New Black Nail Polishes

    Impressions: I received two of these little nail polishes as a bonus in this month's Glymm bag. I am really enjoying this line of nail polishes. I like the smaller size, the colours, and the formulation. I am wearing the lighter pink shade in the above video. I didn't think the darker purple shade would be to my liking but when I swatched it, it was a very pretty deep purple and the shimmer was not noticeable.

    Full size // 5 mini polishes x 4 mL // $24
    Sample size // 2 mini polishes x 4 mL // approximately $9.60

    Overall, I was surprised to be this happy with the Glymm bag this month. I'm not sure if the improvement was due to the price increase but I hope the higher quality will continue into future months. I thought this bag was a pretty good even without the bonus nail polish. We received a couple full size products and most of the contents were makeup (as opposed to hair or body products). That being said, I am subscribed at the lower rate of $10 plus tax per month since I signed up for the annual promotion. It remains to be seen whether future bags will be worth the higher price of $15 per month plus tax.

    Are you still subscribed to Glymm? If so, what did you think of the samples this month?

    NOTE: Just a heads up if you are still subscribed to Glymm that you should check your points balance every month as there is a glitch in the system. I have been e-mailing Glymm each month with a spreadsheet of my point balance and they are very quick at making the necessary adjustments.

    // Approximate value of the products in the February 2013 Glymm bag: $41.38 including my bonus nail polishes //

    If you wish to join Glymm through my invitation, I will earn 50 points and send heaps of good karma your way!

    Note: I paid for this subscription with my own money.

    Saturday, March 9, 2013

    February 2013 Starlooks Starbox - Lauren Clark Special Edition Box

    Starlooks has been on a roll lately... I really loved my February Starbox! I forgot to mention last month that Starlooks recently implemented a rotation system for the types of products that will be sent out. The rotation will be MIXED - BOLD - NEUTRALS. January was a MIXED (bold & neutrals) box, February was a BOLD box, so March should be NEUTRALS. I love this idea and I'm pleased we'll be getting a diverse range of products.

    This was a special edition box curated by Lauren Clark, a makeup artist. I really enjoy following her makeup looks so I was hopeful that this box would be full of products I would love... and I'm happy to say the contents definitely lived up to my expectations. if you love the colour pink, you will definitely love this box. :)

    Here are the contents of this month's Starbox (in order of appearance in the video):

    1. Quartz Crystals

    These little quartz crystals have been included in every Starbox except December. They are supposed to attract energy and help maintain focus. The other idea is that subscribers can collect them in a glass jar to eventually build a brush holder. I received a decent size crystal this month and have a small collection since I have been subscribed since August 2012 but I still have nowhere near enough for a brush holder!

    2. Lip Pencil in Tipsy // 2.4 g // $9.50

    This lip liner is a gorgeous coral colour and I can't wait to wear it all spring and summer! :) It applies really smooth and creamy too - doesn't tug on the lips whatsoever. I'm in love.

    3. Lip Gloss in Pink Oasis // 4 mL // $11

    When I first opened this lip gloss, I didn't think I would ever wear this because the shade pulls very lavender in the tube. The combination of the colour and the shimmer reminded me a little of the 80s. My initial swatch of this product revealed a ton of beautiful reflects in the gloss. I really like this gloss on top of a bright lipstick (or the tipsy lip liner!) but I probably will not wear it on its own because it washes me out a little bit and makes me look very dark and dirty. The texture of this lip gloss is lovely... lightweight and not sticky at all.

    4. Infinity Liner in Princess Diaries // 3.8 g // $15

    I absolutely loved the infinity liner in sculpture that I received in my first Starbox so I have been eager to receive another shade. At first, I was a little disappointed that this was in a light pink shade as I don't really like to wear pink on my eyes, much less as an eye liner! I tried this product as an eyeshadow base and I really enjoyed it... so much so that I've been wearing it on a daily basis. The pink is very flattering and doesn't make my eyes look bloodshot or swollen like some pink shades do. I can also see myself using this product in my inner corners, on my lower lash line, and as a browbone highlight.

    5. HD Fluid Blush in Barbie // 10 mL // $15

    This was the product I was most excited to try when I saw the spoilers online. When I finally received my Starbox and swatched the product, I was a little disappointed in the texture. My blush was very thick and dry and also a little bit cakey. It didn't blend very well on the back of my hand and I was doubtful that I'd be able to blend it out sufficiently on my cheeks. I tried applying this product with a little bit of Vaseline but I wouldn't recommend that as it makes the product a little too shiny and slippery and may also cause breakouts for some. After asking for suggestions on YouTube, I tried warming the tube up in my hand before squeezing out a pinprick onto my fingertip. Then I just dot it on my cheek and blend away. It worked like a charm and I am now loving this product. The shade is a true Barbie pink and I find it really girly and flattering.

    I think the February box may be my favourite Starbox to date and I feel this company is getting better and better as Marci Star (the founder) really listens to subscriber feedback. I am happy I decided to keep this subscription and the quality of the products is phenomenal. Did you receive a Starbox this month? What did you think of the products?

    Past Starboxes are available for sale on the Starlooks website. Starlooks also has a special Lauren Clark Signature Set for sale, which is different from the February Starbox.

    // Approximate value of the products in the February 2013 Starbox: $50.50 //

    The February edition of "Why, Marci!?" has not been posted yet so I will update this blog post when it becomes available.

    For more information about the company, please check out my August Starbox review. The March theme is Blue and the makeup once again looks amazing.

    Note: Canadians who wish to subscribe to Starbox have to contact the company directly to get set up. I signed up by filling out the information on the contact form and a representative got back to me very quickly. I asked them to call me and I gave them my credit card information over the phone. I was recently notified by a Youtube viewer that shipping to Canada has changed to $4.50 - please contact Starlooks for a quote.

    Note: I paid for the February Starbox with my own money.

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