Monday, March 2, 2015

Holy Grail 2015

best face forward
During the transition from 2014 to 2015 I made three purchases that are game changers. Now I gotta share.

Clairsonic. I never believe the hype. I'm that girl. I like to go upstream, against the grain and basically zigzag when everyone's going straight. That doesn't mean I don't often veer back to the path of the majority. I just like to do it to my own beat.

This baby is old news and now there are so many different versions and kits it is a bit ridiculous. Would you like to know a secret Clairsonic won't tell you. You really just need one model, one speed. You can get more if you want, but really - one will do it.

I love my Clairsonic. Deeply. It is awesome - girl guide's honour. Now I want all of you, who like me, watched this bandwagon pass by – get on this ride.

You remember glow worm dolls? I had one. I loved her a lot and I frankly feel like one. My skin has never looked better. It’s brighter, more even and softer. I swear I glow.

Remember - basic model is all you need. Don’t worry about investing in the upgrades unless you really want to. The Mia will be the best $150 you spend on your face.

SK-II TreatmentEssence. I’ve known about this for years but couldn't bring myself to pay for it because I was preoccupied with La Mer. I can’t rationalize two luxury items. But after having gone through my first bottle. I’m sold. Who doesn't want to look like Cate Blanchett - really her skin says it all and her endorsement screams more.

A tip? Buy it at Duty Free. You will save significant bucks versus buying it here.

Turbo Tonik. I was on the fence about Skoah but Jubilee sold me on this product. I took everything she said. Absorbed it. Bought a small bottle ($5) and then went back on bought the big one ($40). Taking Jubilee up her expert advice is proving to be excellent for my face and inner vanity. She is, after all, not only a delight but an EXPERT. The true kind, unlike me. I have no credentials to back my advice – just my unapologetic opinion. 

This toner is pretty spectacular. My face is brighter and is it possible to be cleaner?! Almost squeaky clean but with no tightness or drying. It’s a pretty phenomenal way to put your best face forward. I had to warm up to it because it’s about $40 – but I intend to make the bottle last 6 months. Do the math – less than $6 a month. Please, I spend more on coffee and doughnuts.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moodstruck 3D Mascara by Younique

weak in the knees
:Pricey at $35:

3D mascara is all the rage. This post is pretty simple because you can see for yourself. No retouched photos, no filters, no Photoshop magic...just my eyes and my camera. Ready? Here we go.

Here are my bare naked lashes:

These are my lashes with one coat of my go-to Benefit:

And finally, my lashes with Younique:

Wow right? Yup.
Note the marketplace is not yet saturated so you really have two bonafide choices: CherryBlooms or Younique. Here are the only three things you really need to know:

1. Cherry Blooms is $75 but you can buy it at stores across the city. Younique is $35 but you have to buy it through another person. Trust me, that's easy - if it hasn't blown up in your circle of chicks, it's about to.

2. Both work (full disclosure, a friend has Cherry Blooms and swears by it; I have not tried it) but both require practice to finesse.

3. Both have extreme staying power and are resistant to smudging (a bit of mild flaking but nothing a final swipe doesn't fix) but at the end of the night they wash away easily - a breeze unlike lacquered or tube mascara. 

Reviewing the above, I would say a smart woman would go with Younique. I would say I'm a smart woman. Here's what you work with:

I don't like the packaging but I like what's inside too much to really care.
The results are clear. I love it, so much so let's look at it again:

Dramatic. Makes you feel weak...can hardly speak? Lose all control and something takes over me? There's nothing like finding a really really awesome beauty buy.

Younique is so effective I don’t really need more. Meaning, I'm so happy with it I'm not even curious about Cherry Blooms. If we put price aside, I got Younique because it was the first one I learned about. If the situation were reversed, I would have bought Cherry but given the cost - I probably would have went on to try Younique and been sold.

Two products, two very different price points. Did you see what Younique did? Scroll up for a reminder and then ask yourself, do you really need more? I don't.

I don't sell hard - but really - you need to buy this. Think I'm alone? Watch here (my favourite review because she's clearly enthusiastically enthusiastic), here and here.

Love it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Vancouver: Catch 122

i've been brunching

RESTO open 9 am to 1030 pm 
@122 W Hastings Street Google maps

Must eats:

Braised short ribs eggs bendict
So I had a wonderful V-day brunch date with Totoro and I knew it was going to be good because our catch ups are always non-stop laughter and giggles. I suggested Catch 122 after the sister recommended it. She said I would love it. I don't say it often, but the sister was right.

I got there at about 11:30 and a small crowd had gathered outside. I went in and put my name down. The lovely woman who greeted me estimated about a 40 minute wait. Totoro and I took that time to check out some of the nearby shops and start our catch up - a little bit about work, a little bit about boys and a lot about how awesome we are. Smirk.

Sorry the photos don't do the food justice. But even these poor quality shots will urge you to visit Catch 122 for brunch. It was as good as the anticipation leading up to it -- the reviews I read a month ago were great, the word of mouth advice I got over the past few weeks were positive, and then the moment I arrived there was a line.

Totoro and I were seated around the time they said a table would open up. I'll say service dwindled during our visit, but it was fine otherwise so nothing to get fussed about. The unexpected treat that accompanied our drinks was a nice surprise:

Delicious banana bread.
And for those that know me, I am an expert on banana bread.
All of Catch 122's brunch items are $12. There are also sandwiches, salads and add-ons. But I bleed brunch so I went for the most brunch-esque dish: a benny and it was yummy. So delicious I would say it was one of my favourite bennys. Rich and tender short rib meat sandwiched by a perfectly poached egg and english muffin. And the hollandaise sauce was nicely balanced. The yukon nugget potato hash also deserves it's own mention because they were far from ordinary - crispy, crunchy, crazy good.

Creamy not heavy with notes of citrus.

Totoro ordered the Catch 122. She enjoyed it but I agree with her in that it would have been bettered deconstructed:

Poached eggs, house-smoked and cured wild salmon,
dill creme fraiche, arguula, croissant
Catch 122 demonstrated it's worth the wait. The best brunch are complete plates - 360 degrees of happy eating. Catch 122 offers thoughtful dishes where every element is done well and delicious. This is my kind of brunch. Brunch in love.

Happy brunching!

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Vancouver: Long's Noodle House

taste of shanghai
:Main + 32nd Ave:

RESTO open 11 am to 3 pm and 530 to 9 pm
@4853 Main Street Google maps

Must eats:

Xiao Long Bao

Dau Mui
An oldie but a goodie
Long's Noodle House is a long time local favourite. Eli & Cia highly recommended this place when I first asked: where can I find the best XLB aka xiao long bao aka soup dumplings. They both screamed in unison- LONG'S! 

I finally got to try it today. Course I would have missed it if I wasn't looking. The restaurant has a simple small exterior - nothing flashy - nothing that says - HEY EAT HERE, I'M AWESOME. It's adjacent to Au Petite Cafe which has a stellar reputation in its own right (best BMB). But one meal at a time. I mean I can eat, but I don't like to bite off more than I can chew...

Long's is your archetypal Asian restaurant. The hole in the wall joint your parents know about. They serve fantastic food in a casual and minimalist restaurant without a lot of seating. They have a common sharing table so you may find yourself rubbing elbows with strangers if you're a party of anything less than six.

Riri and I had a very productive day shopping so you'll see we worked up an appetite. Apart from the two dishes above, we also had:

Black Bean Beef Chow Mein

Wontons in spicy sauce.
Lin's spicy wontons are ridiculously delicious. So sadly there was no comparison.
But these were still okay.

Beef roll - tastes very different from the traditional Shanghainese ones I'm used to.
But good - flavours of lemongrass and cilantro and rare beef takes me to Vietnam.

Eli & Cia were right. The XLB were delicious. Inside the delicate think skins was rich and flavourful broth and the juiciest plumpest mounds of meat. 

I wish I had filtered through the thousands of reviews, however, because I missed another MUST eat - the wine chicken. It's beautifully presented and I hear it is also THE dish to have at Long's. Great news is, I will return. Familiar flavours with the occasional unexpected twist. It only took one bite to understand why Long's has a fan following and remains a staple on the Vancouver restaurant scene. 

Hi, you love Long's? Me too. It's official, I'm a true Vancouverite.

Two girls, Five plates.

Long's Noodle House 小龍記麵家 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vancouver: Sliders

small packs punch

It's true, the smaller it is, the more they will come. Why? Because cute food is tasty. Sliders place popped up near work and our little gang was down to try. We all found something we liked - whether we're vegetarian inclined or cheese adverseI recommend you go for the original - it's got Hickory Sticks. It was the clear winner. I also suggest you skip the duck because it’s prone to drying out.

They have an extensive selection and a solid choice of sides. Three sliders plus a side will cost you about $15. Not bad and if you’re an average human, you’ll be full on two and a side.

My favourite side should be obvious - tater tots. Because I am a grown child. And Sliders serves up the really bad for but really good to you kind. The type of tot that makes you feel like you don’t need anything else in life in that moment. I found happiness in a bowl of deep fried grated potato in all its artificial glory. I mean I grew up off modified treats like this and I swear I'm better for it. Remember when you were 12 and free and all you wanted was tater tots. Join me there.

Crunchy, chewy, greasy, starchy, and downright amazing.
Sliders on Urbanspoon