Friday, January 29, 2010

Blog award and Face of the day

I got my first blog award yesterday! I'm not too sure how these things work - so here goes!


The rules of this award are as follows:

1. To accept the award, you must post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted you the award, and a link to their blog.
2. Pass the award on to approximately 10-15 other blogs that you recently discovered, and think are great!
3. Contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.



Ok, since I'm relatively new to the world of blogging, I'm going to cheat a bit, and only nominate 5 blogs - but I'll make up for the low number by telling you what I like about them!

Brooke from Babbling Brooke gave me this award. I like checking her site to figure out which China Glaze nailpolish I should add to my wishlist! I also love her nail-art - I have so much to learn!

1) Bubblegarm - Muhsine just has the best sense of style - everything she posts - from outfits to make-up - looks great!
2) TheGlossGoss - Tali writes the best and most honest product reviews.
3) GetGawjus - I'm learning a lot about applying eye make-up from Shifa
4) Cheryl's Beauty Blog - Cheryl applies make-up perfectly. And she's based in Canada too!
5) Beauty Parler - I love that this blog features beauty products that the writer has picked up from her travels all over the world!

FOTD




Eyes:
Benefit Play Sticks foundation as a base
Boots 17 eyeshadow in Funfair (pink gold) on inner lid
Lancome Coquille eyeshadow on middle lid
Lancome Camel eyeshadow on crease
MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack on upperlashline
Almay Pearl white liner on lower waterline
Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara
Lips:
Mac Spice lipliner
Benefit Gilded on cupid's bow
Dior Rouge lipstick in 466 Rose Papillon/Butterfly
L'Oreal lipgloss in Gold Cappucino

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day at the Elmwood Spa, Toronto

For hubby's birthday, I arranged a couple's spa day at the Elmwood Spa in Toronto. It was a great gift - since *I* got treated too! Hubby enjoyed it a lot - it was something that he'd never have done for himself - and he deserved it. He's always working, so he needs to get blissed out once in a while!

SOURCE: http://www.blogto.com/fashion/elmwood-spa-toronto
We had a 3 course lunch in their dining room. I had a Mozzarella and Beet salad, Pan-seared Salmon with Wild Rice, and Assorted Fruit with a Mango Sorbet. Hubby had a Butternut Squash soup, Pan-seared Tilapia with Salad, and Apple Flower with Vanilla Ice cream. I really wanted to like the taste of beets and wild rice, as they are so good for you - but I haven't acquired a taste for them yet. My salmon was perfectly done - so fresh and filling. The mango sorbet was delicious, but some of the fruit it came with was unripe. Hubby's apple flower was out of this world - it was a pie-like pastry - filled with cubed apples, cinnamon and buttery goodness.

SOURCE: http://www.blogto.com/fashion/elmwood-spa-toronto
After lunch we went to the Water Therapies floor, which had a swimming pool, jacuzzi, light therapy room and sauna. We had fun floating around in the mineral-enriched swimming pool. It was lightly heated, though hubby still felt a little cold. We then warmed up in the jacuzzi. After showering, we sat in the light therapy room (a room near the window, with a UV lamp). We also hung out in the lounge and read magazines while sipping the complimentary fruit-infused water. We had a lot of fun chilling out here, and enjoyed the classical music playing throughout the room. However, the tiled pool and jacuzzi looked a little bit...grotty? I guess I'm spoiled by the water therapy area in my old gym - Holmes Place Canary Wharf (in London) - and prefer natural stones to tiles.

SOURCE: http://www.blogto.com/fashion/elmwood-spa-toronto
The final part of our spa day was a couples Swedish massage in the Sapphire room. For an additional charge you can book this room, which has a fireplace and is very cozy. We both really enjoyed our massages - they were performed by RMT masseuses (which means we can claim some of it back from our health insurance). My masseuse said that I carry a lot of tension in my upper back, and recommended soaking in Epsom Salt baths.
Thoughts: We really enjoyed our day here. It was fun having a whole building devoted to our Spa experience, and shuffling from floor to floor in our bathrobes and slippers. We felt like we had a mini-holiday.
Would I go back: Although I would highly recommend booking a package to any of my friends, I'm still looking for a place with a more beautiful pool/jacuzzi area. I want to feel like I'm in a resort - not a hotel pool from the 60s. Also - one small gripe: their spa sandals are so slippery - they are an accident waiting to happen - especially in the Water Therapy area. They should switch to waffle-weave slippers with stronger grips.
Extras: When I went to check out, we got a discount on our bill, as they are currently running a promo where you get 20% off if you bring a male. I was pleasantly surprised, as I hadn't known about this when I booked the package. Also, if you park at their designated parking garage (Atrium on the Bay), you get a full-day's parking for $10.
Disclaimer: I paid for this spa day myself and was not reimbursed for reviewing it.

Here's what I wore today (although I spent most of my day in a swimsuit and bathrobe LOL!) Sweater and pants from Chado, Shoes from Payless, Pink leather bag and peach coral necklace from a shop in Naples, Italy. Oh - and I've lost 5 pounds since I started working out! 8 pounds to go and I'll be back to my pre-baby weight :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for Hubby's birthday using the Magnolia Bakery recipe. When we were in New York last year, we lived 10 blocks from a Magnolia, and used to have their cupcakes often. I must say (without being humble) that these cupcakes turned out REALLY YUMMY! And are a good substitute if you can't get the real thing! Recipe for cupcakes is here. However, I found their buttercream frosting recipe was too sweet and runny - I used this instead: mix 1.5 cups icing sugar, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 tbsp of milk.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review: Caruso Steam Curlers

I first tried steam curlers* when I was in college. I had been torturing my hair with curling irons and hairspray - and my curls always disappeared within two hours. My dorm-mate (who had waist-length blonde hair) offered to curl my hair for me. She brought out a pastel contraption, filled it with water and salt, and put the warm foam rollers in my hair. I was amazed at the results - curls that lasted for days - not hours!
Last year, I decided to purchase my own set of steam rollers. After researching on the internet, I found out that steam rollers using salt were no longer made (I wish they were - from the reviews it seems that they locked in the curls for longer, and the units lasted forever!). I chose to purchase the Caruso Professional ProSet Steam Hairsetter from Sally Beauty Supply - but they are also available on Amazon. (Link HERE).

What it does:
The curlers are filled with steam - this steam affects your hair's molecular core, creating a curl that lasts until you shampoo it out.
How it works: You fill the unit with water (I use filtered water, as many units stop working because of mineral build-up). After a minute or so, steam starts coming out of the unit. You put the foam curler on the steam spout for 5-10 seconds, and place it in your hair. You can heat the curler cover for 3-5 seconds too. After rolling up all of your hair, wait 10-30 minutes, and take the curlers out. You can use hairspray to set the curl (I didn't).

1) My hair, freshly washed and air-dried
2) With the curlers in my hair
3) Right after taking the curlers out (looks like a horrible perm!)
4) After finger-combing my hair and rearranging the curls
5) The next morning, after sleeping on the hairstyle
6) That night (24 hours after the steam set)
My thoughts:
For a product that gives great result with zero damage to your hair, you can't beat these curlers. As I have very fine silky hair, I have to be very careful not to damage my hair. I never blow-dry my hair, and I rarely use products in it. These steam curlers let me have body and style without heat damage or product build-up. The steam makes my hair very shiny, and the curls really do last a long time. I'm going to grow my hair long this year, and want to use this product to get loose beachy waves.
Disadvantages:
-It is hard using rollers to curl hair - I still have to perfect my technique to achieve the hairstyle that I want. I'm more used to styling with curling irons.
-I do think the "salt-added" units locked in the curls for longer. I may have to search on eBay and see if I can find an older unit. (I think the new rollers will fit on the older units - I do NOT want to reuse old curlers - yuck!)
-I have to figure out what products I can use with this (for when I style my hair for special occasions). I've tried heat protectant and setting lotion - these made my hair greasy and my curls limp. I want to try Bumble & Bumble Thickening Lotion, and also something to give my roots volume.

Disclaimer: I purchased this item myself, and was not paid to review it.

*These are NOT to be confused with Hot Rollers, which are found at most pharmacies, and contain rollers in a heated box. Steam rollers require water, and are heated up one at a time.

Have you ever used steam curlers? What did you think of them? What hair products do you think I should try with this?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Face of the Day


(Click on the photo to see up close)
Face:
MAC Studio Finish SPF35 Concealer in NC35 mixed with Clinique Superdefense moisturiser SPF25
Cheeks:
No17 Bronzer
Chanel Ireelle blush in Utopia
Eyes:
Benefit Play Sticks foundation as a base
MAC Honesty applied wet, all over the lid
MAC Retrospeck as a highlight on the inner lid
Lancome Coquille applied on lower lash line
Lancome Waterproof Eyeliner in Noir on upper waterline
Maybelline Full n Soft Mascara
Lips:
Benefit's Gilded Pencil on my Cupid's bow
L'Oreal Glam Shine Gold Holographic in Gold Cappucino
Notes:
-Because I usually wear neutrals and golden colours, it is really hard to get the colours to show up in a photo.
-I love my Lancome Coquille eyeshadow - it is very similar to Stila Kitten, so I'm trying to use this up before I go on to Kitten.
-I love my Chanel blush (not pictured). It's very sad that it got discontinued, but on the plus side, the current compact I have will last me ages. It is so long lasting and is the perfect flushed coral colour.
-It's funny that you can see the gold holographic flecks in the lipgloss. It's not that obvious in person. This product is pretty long lasting. It's another product that I'm trying to use up. I have my eye on a gorgeous DiorKiss lipgloss, but I will only let myself buy it if I finish up another lip product first.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nailpolish review: Sephora by OPI in Set the Mood



Colour: Hot Pink with metallic shimmer. Or as my sister described it: "Barbie Pink"

Finish: As expected with OPI polishes, the colour went on smoothly and evenly. It only required two coats to achieve a glossy finish.
Durability: Despite using a good top coat, the polish chipped by the 2nd/3rd day I wore it.
Packaging: The tip of the bottle has a matte finish, which makes it easy to control polish application (i.e. you get a good grip on the handle, so you can easily rotate the brush). However, the brush is the standard straight nail polish brush - I prefer the fuller shaped brushes, which spread to cover your nails.

Price: $9 USD at sephora.com

Grade: 8/10. Points off for chipping easily and for the basic brush.

Would I buy again? No, I think it's a nice colour, but I don't *love* it, I think I'd prefer this shade in a glossy non-shimmer finish.

Disclaimer: I purchased this product myself, and was not paid to review it.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sharing Childhood Food Memories

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in Asia and visited many of the countries in the region - particularly around Southeast Asia. Now that I'm living in Canada, I LOVE going to the Asian grocery store, and picking up familiar food items to share with my family. This is what I purchased today:

Orange Bottle: Korean Bulgogi Marinade. I just pour this on thinly sliced beef, leave overnight, and fry the next day. Delicious served with white rice and kimchi.
Hello Panda: Yummy Japanese chocolate filled cookie bites - what's not to love?
Goldilocks Polvoron: Addictive pressed powder cookies from the Philippines - they are very crumbly!
Golden Curry: Japanese curry blocks - so easy to make. You fry onions, chicken, and veggies, then add water and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in a curry block - and the whole thing becomes a flavourful stew. It's a great comfort food.
Mama Sita's BBQ marinade: I haven't made this yet, but I have tried other mixes from this Filipino line, including their Pancit mix.
Nivea tin from Thailand: Yup - I realise this is not food! It is just hard to get Nivea in a tin in most shops here - they only sell them in big plastic tubs. I picked this up to slip in my handbag - it's great to protect my kids' skin in winter. I usually try to get organic/natural skin care for them - but this is a classic - and I haven't found a good substitute for it.

*I must mention that packaged food mixes are a great way to recreate authentic regional dishes - but of course, they are not the most healthy thing to eat (i.e. they all have MSG). Still, they are perfect to enjoy *occasionally*.

FOTD (Face of the Day)

I went grocery shopping today, so I only put on a little bit of make-up. I thought it would be fun to start doing FOTD posts - as I can use them to remember the different combinations that I do. (Click on pic to enlarge)

In these pictures, it hardly looks like I'm wearing make-up!
Face:
MAC Studio Finish SPF35 Concealer in NC35 mixed with Clinique Superdefense moisturiser SPF25
Eyes:
Benefit Play Sticks foundation as a base (I'm trying to use this up, as it doesn't match my skin tone)
Lancome Eyeshadow in Sunlight all over the lid
Lancome Eyeshadow in Coquille lining the upper lashline and inner lower lashline
Maybelline Full n Soft Mascara
Lips:
Benefit's Gilded Pencil on my Cupid's bow
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lips in Dolly

Notes:
-It may be wishful thinking, but my eyelashes seem longer and stronger to me. Maybe the Castor Oil is working!
-On my next Sephora splurge, I'm going to buy Urban Decay Primer Potion, but until then, I'm using up my Benefit foundation stick as an eyeshadow base. I got this idea from Lollipop26.
-I recently found a tip suggesting that you use a gold lip pencil to line your Cupid's bow - for fuller looking lips - I love doing this! Another good tip is using gold shimmer in the center of your lips.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My spa days

I go to the gym twice a week (that's all I can manage - anything more seems too daunting!). For motivation - I promise myself a "spa treatment" after my workout. Some days, it is only the thought of this treat at the end that keeps me running! I'm hardly a gym bunny, so I thought I'd share my motivation system - since it manages to get me moving!

After my workout, I go to my "spa" (my bathroom - I'm lucky that I don't have to share it with anyone else - I keep it luxuriously decorated and nicely stocked with all my beauty products).
I turn the heating on, and apply a home-made honey aspirin mask*. I apply coconut oil to my hair for deep conditioning, and put a shower cap on, to trap heat. I relax for 10 minutes and read a magazine (People StyleWatch is a fave). After my 10 minutes are up, I turn the shower on, rinse off the mask and shampoo my hair. After applying conditioner and washing it out, I apply a mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar, Rosewater and Water as a final rinse for added shine. I use my exfoliating gloves and a body scrub to soften my skin. I finish off by applying lots of Moringa Body Butter from Fruits & Passion all over. By the time I'm finished, I feel shiny and new and pretty and healthy! Try it - and let me know how it works for you.

p.s. the shoes are the New Balance Breast Cancer Awareness shoes, aren't they cute?

*My Home-made Honey Aspirin Mask recipe:
Take 1 uncoated aspirin and apply 1-2 drops of water on it, so that it starts to dissolve. Add 1 teaspoon honey and mix together, breaking up the tablet into granules. Apply all over face. Leave on for 10 minutes. Take off under the shower with a circular motion, using the aspirin grains to exfoliate your skin. This recipe is adapted from Make Up Alley. This mask may not be right for you as some people are allergic to aspirin. I've found the aspirin exfoliates skin and prevents new blemishes forming, due to the salicylic acid content, while the honey moisturises my skin.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yummy Blonde Brownies...

I haven't really done any posts on cooking yet. I grew up around Asia, and I love reading blogs which showcase different countries and highlight the local food. I'm a nostalgic chef - I like to recreate dishes that I enjoyed as a child.

This particular dessert is super easy to make, and is my most-requested dish. I first tasted Blonde Brownies when doing my B.A. in New England. I'd load up my backpack with 5-6 brownies from the college cafeteria before getting on the bus to visit my sister in Boston. I don't know what my sister enjoyed more - seeing me or getting the brownies!

I found my recipe on the Nestle website - click here to see it. I think this dish is fool-proof. And it tastes especially yummy if you use mini-kisses instead of chocolate chips. Here's a batch I baked - stacked in my vintage pink pyrex.

My New Year's Resolutions

I love making resolutions - as I am always interested in self-improvement. I'm a very goal-oriented person - I decide what I want, and then slowly but surely (with a lot of prayer in between), work towards getting it. Writing my resolutions down helps me to prioritise my thoughts and energy.

1) Go to bed by midnight
2) Get my Driver's Licence
3) Improve my posture
4) Continue to do cardio twice a week, and add in yoga once a week
5) Learn to cook more light and healthy dishes
6) Speak calmly with my husband (I do with everyone else LOL!)
7) Keep organised
8) Spend quality time with my kids
9) Potty training
10) Research good neighbourhoods and schools for when we move to a house

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My first LV - and What's in my Bag.

Here is my new bag - I love it so much!!! I decided to go in person to the LV store to pick it up, as I wanted to see if I should get the Speedy 25 or 30, and also, I wasn't sure if I wanted the Monogram print or the Damier Ebene Canvas. Although I ended up going with my initial choice, it was nice to try on the different bags to make sure!
The Speedy 25 has MORE than enough space for me - I know a lot of women prefer the larger sizes. Another advantage of the 25 is that it it holds it shape better. When I went inside the store, the pale vachetta leather did put me off a little bit - but then I looked around, and saw other people carrying older bags with honey coloured handles. I can't wait for mine to develop a patina.
This is my most expensive bag to date - it cost around $780CAD with tax. I do feel guilty spending so much on one bag - I think I'd feel less guilty buying seven $100 bags in one year (funny how the mind works). But I think of it as a classic investment piece - and I deserve it!
After we bought my bag, we went clothes shopping for my husband - and I was so impatient to use my new bag, that I transferred all my stuff into my speedy as I waited for hubby to try on his clothes!
I love the "What's in my bag" posts and videos that I've seen - so here's mine:

Wallet
Nine West cosmetic bag
Ziploc bag with baby wipes
Fruits and Passion hand butter
Palm phone
Reusable shopping bag
Aldo sunglasses

I've also included what's inside my cosmetic bag - as I love seeing what everyone else carries around!
Mirror
Gum
Blotting papers
Nail cutter (for clipping cuticles)
Burts Bees lip balm & Lip Venom
Faces and MAC lipstick
Antibac spray
MAC lipliner brush and L'Oreal lipliner
Perfume samples

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