Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bronx Zoo

I try to get out to the Bronx Zoo once a year, because I loooove zoos.

San Diego zoo is probably my favourite though. Do you have a favourite zoo to recommend to me? :D

Here are a few pictures I took at Bronx Zoo today!

















And my favourite pic of the day, super adorable red panda ♥♥


Sunday, April 6, 2014

What I Watched - March 2014

Gosh, I really watch a lot of TV ._. Here's what I watched in March!


The Walking Dead (Season 4b)
My favourite scene from the Beth-Daryl focused episode
I didn't realize it came back in February, so I spent some lovely days in March catching up on the latest half-season :) This is one I have to watch on my own, since DF thinks it's too gratuitously gory (which is the best part, right?) IDK, I love the show. It's no Breaking Bad, but it's enjoyable. Looking back at this half season, I overall enjoyed it. Most episodes had me really engaged and wondering what would happen next. I love Daryl and Michonne. I'm not keen on the long break until the next episode, though. I needs to know what happens to the gang!!

Bottom Line: You either love it or hate it, right?


Bates Motel (Season 1)
Inappropriate closeness between mom and son: 1 of 10,000
We started watching this on Netflix and I am absolutely hooked! It is a prequel to the Hitchcock film Psycho (which I have to admit, I have not actually seen in its entirety :O) set in the modern day. There are a few shaky plot points, but I'm willing to overlook them because of the stellar acting and fast-paced story telling. What would take 13 episodes to reveal in a normal show, this one does within 4 episodes. It's riveting and creepy and scary and sometimes uncomfortable! I'm very impressed!

Plus Freddie Highmore is cute as a button! He reminds me of a younger Ian Harding (Ezra from Pretty Little Liars); they should have cast him as young-Ezra in flashbacks :)

Season 2 also started recently on A&E, but doesn't seem to be available On Demand in HD, so we might be waiting until it shows up on Netflix.

Bottom Line: Highly recommended!


Orphan Black (Season 1)
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah
I was recommended this show a few months ago, and was happy to see its availability on Amazon Instant Video Prime (aka, included with our prime membership). The show is set in Toronto, Canada, and follows a young woman named Sarah who witnesses a doppleganger commit suicide in front of a train. She assumes the doppleganger's identity intending to drain her bank account, and use the money to run away with her daughter (away from her foster mother). However, she becomes entangled in the doppleganger's life, and there turns out to be much more complicated than she thought.

The main actress, Tatiana Maslany, is absolutely amazing in this show. She creates such separate characters, it's sometimes hard to remember that it's the same actress. I also really enjoy seeing bits of Toronto in the background (I lived there for a couple years during my university years). The story is very engaging, but personally, I found it losing a bit of steam when the "big bad" was revealed. Still, I would definitely watch the next season!

Bottom Line: Highly recommended!


Mr. Selfridge (Season 1)
I don't think they'll be showing Suqqu being added to the stores...
A fictionalized account of how Harry Gordon Selfridge opened his famous Selfridges department store in London. It's not a riveting show, but I do enjoy this kind of thing. It's hard not to compare it to Downton Abbey, and I will admit the characters are not nearly as engaging, likeable/hateable, or as interesting. But it's a bit of a different spin on a similar time period.

Some storylines are a little underwhelming to me, but I still enjoyed watching this series! The second season just started airing on PBS here in the States. I caught the first season on Amazon Instant Video Prime.

Bottom Line: If you like period pieces like Downton Abbey, you should try at least 1 episode of this show.


Parks & Recreation (much of Season 6)
From "Anniversaries"
P&R is probably my favourite sitcom on TV (and has been for a few years). When they went on a short hiatus in October, I lost track of when the show came back - which meant I had a lot of catching up to do in March! The Cones of Dunshire (I call bookkeeper!), Farmer's Market, and Anniversaries were some stand-out episodes for me. I need to rewatch them all with DF, though, because even though he won't admit it, he loves the show too!

Bottom Line: This show is ♥

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kiko now Stateside! :O

Last week, I was shopping online for a necklace for my wedding. My comprehensive search of the internet included a search of all the jewelry stores at my two local shopping malls, one of which is Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. Upon landing on the site's splash page, I saw they were promoting a new wing of the mall (I guess someone decided the mall was not big or crowded enough already... /dripping sarcasm) which included a Kiko store!! WUT WUT?? After my trip last April to London/Paris/Berlin was canceled, I had dejectly put my Kiko wishlist on the backburner. Apparently, the mall announced this wing and the list of stores back in December, and I guess no one in the beauty community noticed.

Anyway, they opened this past Thursday, and I forced DF to take me to the mall today. I had been looking forward to today very much, as the last two weeks of work have been incredibly hellish. Here's a picture of the facade I took before going in (and before DF went to Starbucks and then parked his butt outside the store waiting for me).


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any photos of the inside, as their store policy does not permit pictures inside. The store is very large (much larger than the Inglot and MUFE Boutique stores also at this glorious mall) and well organized. The permanent line flanks the left side of the store, the nail polishes on the right, and the stands on the floor display repeats of the permanent line as well as limited edition collections. The SAs were very nice, helpful, but not pushy. They all had great makeup, of course! I was very tempted to get the blue mascara that one was sporting, but I had to restrain myself since I would never, ever, get any wear out of it.

My very modest haul:


The infamous eyeshadow sticks which have been compared to the By Terry Ombre Star eyeshadow sticks ($43 USD... uhhhhh... ) and are $12 USD each, but were on offer for $7.90. I'm not sure what Kiko's sales strategy is (i.e., will these effectively always be on promotion?), but this pricing is consistent with the UK pricing (retail 6.90 GBP, currently on sale for 4.90 GBP. At today's exchange rate, this is equivalent to $11.38 and $8.08, respectively).


I picked up the following four shades:



The entire permanent line of eyeshadow sticks were there (black tubes), but I didn't see any of the white or silver packaging ones indicating LE. Since I suck at swatches, here are the some blogs with great swatches of the eyeshadow sticks: Drivel About Frivol, Cassandra Makeup Artist, Susielfa.

My crappy swatches, taken with bounce flash. One swipe each, guys. Now, I'm pretty sure these are going to crease on me (even with primer), but I couldn't resist getting these ones.


Taupe comparison... too many taupes, what am I doing with my life



I picked up 36 because it reminded me of Shiseido Beach Grass trio. Check out this love sandwich:




The nail polishes were $6 for the regular line, and $7 for their quick-dry line. I picked up the minty green shade, as I'm always looking for a dupe of American Apparel Office. Here are the bottles side by side, along with the last "dupe" I tried, Essie Fashion Playground.


My cuticles are in bad shape, so just swatch sticks comparison: 3 coats of the Essie and AA, 2 coats of the Kiko. The Kiko is pretty close to AA, but lighter and slightly less blue.


I chatted with the Assistant Manager while I was checking out, and I inquired about whether they will be taking phone orders: as of now, they don't, but they plan to launch their US site for online shopping in the near future. They are also planning on opening more locations in the US in the coming months (she mentioned another mall here in NJ and a NYC location). Apparently this is on the DL, but I figure if she told me, it must not be that top secret :P

Anyway, my trip to the mall was pretty successful. Picked up some seamless panties and a clutch for my wedding. We also went into every jewelry store to look for a necklace and earrings for the wedding, and I gotta say, jewelry SAs are 100x more invasive than beauty SAs. *autoplay* "No, I'm just looking." I did try on a very nice estate Y-necklace for $890 (all plat), but the chain was very short... DF said it was probably once upon a time for a rich little girl. LOL. I'll need to write-up a post for my wedding accessories, I think! :)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Brush Collection with mini-reviews

Makeupalley MUB had a bit of a brush stash theme this week, and I decided to join into the foray. I thought I would cross post here as well, with some additional verbiage.

Oh, the platter is from Anthropologie, but long gone.

Face brushes


L to R: RT Setting Brush, Sigma F84, RT Expert Face Brush, Hakuhodo K020, Chikuhodo Z-4, Suqqu Cheek, Chikuhodo Z-2, Hakuhodo H603 (retractable)

  • Sigma F84 and RT Expert Face Brush: I use both for liquid foundation, thought I slightly prefer the Sigma because the bristles are a bit softer and more flexible. I'm happy to own both, though, and since they are relatively inexpensive, I don't feel bad when I clean them aggresively!
  • RT Setting Brush: This brush is a great size and density for setting undereye concealer with powder. However, I'm in the market for a natural hair version (hopefully squirrel hair). Do you have any recommendations?
  • Hakuhodo K020 was my first brush splurge, and also my first squirrel haired brush. It changed the way I applied blush! I still love it, but after getting the Suqqu Cheek brush, I now use this for loose powder instead.
  • Suqqu Cheek brush: Irritatingly hyped and expensive, I love this little guy. Super soft, not too dense, and nice and small (my preference for a blush brush)! So glad I splurged on this! I purchased it from Selfridges.co.uk.
  • Chikuhodo Z-4 is great for my blushes where I want to pick up a little more pigment than Suqqu Cheek (but just a tiny bit more, since it's denser, but still ultra soft). I purchased it in Ginza, Tokyo at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop.
  • Chikuhodo Z-2 is a cool shaped brush, but I actually don't reach for it much. I should try to wear more highlighter I guess! I purchased it in Tokyo at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop.
  • Hakuhodo H603 Slide Face Brush: I purchased this for travel, as it retracts. It's very convenient, but I often find myself missing my other blush brushes when I use this. If you are hesitant to travel with your blush brushes, this is a great one to have. It's very soft (mix of blue squirrel and sohoko goat).
  • Here's a video I made last year when I got it showing the sliding action :)




Eye Brushes


L to R: Hakuhodo J146, J5523, K005, G5520BkSL (I think), G5529BkSL, G515, S123Bk, G537s, Shu Uemura 10N, 5R, Sigma ss266 (E65 now, I think), Yojiya Ebony Eyeshadow Brush Squirrel, Chikuhodo Artist Series 10-1, 8-5, 8-1

  • Hakuhodo J146: Super cute, soft white goat hair brush. I use it for light blending between shades.
  • Hakuhodo J5523: Infamous for being a "dupe" for MAC217, this is a great brush to own. Very soft, and great for blending. Can't go wrong with this one. I do wish I had a slightly smaller and shorter version of it, though (small lid space to blame, again!)
  • Hakuhodo K005: a must have for me, use it to line lower lash line with shadow, and sometimes a soft wing with black/dark brown shadow
  • Hakuhodo G5520BkSL: A standard pencil brush, but very soft! I don't use it much, but it gets the job done!
  • Hakuhodo G5529BkSL: I use this to darken my small outer corner area, and it applies colour very softly (so it's hard to over do it).
  • Hakuhodo G515: My first doe-foot shaped brush, this is SUPER soft and really versatile. I can do a whole eyelook with it. A pleasure to use and I should really give it more love!
  • Hakuhodo S123Bk: This 100% Kolinsky brush is only available in Japan, and is similar to the Shu 10N, but larger. I prefer the shorter handle, and the gold ferrule is gorgeous too. I do wish the head was smaller though. Still, it's incredibly versatile just like the Shu, so I am happy to have it!
  • Hakuhodo G537s: Another 100% Kolinksy brush only available in Japan. It is *so* good for applying and blending concealer, and I also use it to apply dots of foundation to my face before using a Beauty Blender. I purchased both these brushes from the Hakuhodo boutique in Omotesando, Tokyo.
  • Shu Uemura 10N: My first expensive eye brush, but worth every penny (... 20% off, that is). It's incredibly versatile (both laydown and blending). My only gripe is that the handle is too long (I'm near-sighted so I like to get up real close to my mirror to do my eyemakeup, and the handle sometimes gets in the way)
  • Shu Uemura 5R: This picks up and applies pigment brilliantly. I have to say I slightly prefer the Hakuhodo G5529 because the 5R puts down so much colour, that I usually need to blend the edges out, whereas the Hakuhodo applies colour more softly so I don't need to blend the edges (but I do need to layer and concentrate colour if I want it)
  • Sigma ss266/E65: One of the few Sigma brushes I still own from the original set I purchased years ago. I use it for gel eyeliner exclusively, but I rarely wear gel liner anymore!
  • Yojiya Ebony Eyeshadow Brush Squirrel: I purchased this at the Fa-So-La Tax Free Akihabara duty free shop at NRT for 3400 yen (slightly discounted from retail). It has been cited as a close "dupe" for the discontinued Suqqu S eyeshadow brush. It applies colour softly and blends amazingly well too, but is not great if you're looking to really pack on the colour. The handle is gorgeous, though!
  • Chikuhodo Artist 10-1: This line is discontinued (or simply unavailable for direct purchase). This brush really picks up a lot of pigment!
  • Chikuhodo Artist 8-5: This laydown brush also does a good job at applying pigment, but I do find it a tad pokey on my lids.
  • Chikuhodo Artist 8-1: This brush is stiff, but not pokey, and is good for lining with dark shadow. I like these three for travel because they are so petite! I purchased at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop in Tokyo as well.


Lip Brushes
Not Pictured!

Not brushes, but related

L to R: MUJI Powder Puff, Koh Gen Do Powder Puff, scrubby pad I use to clean all my brushes, black and pink Beauty Blenders

  • I use the powder puffs to apply loose powder (before brushing off the excess with my Hakuhodo K020). I find both the Muji and KGD perform identically. I purchased the KGD from Barneys in a pack of 2 for $16, while the Muji one costs $5.75 (probably much cheaper in Japan). The KGD one does come with a nice zip pouch for travel, though!


Phew! That took a long time to write up! I hope you enjoyed it! It's hard to believe I went from no brushes in 2010 to this collection four years later! I'm so happy with my brushes, but I do have some editing to do! (*whispers* and also some shopping, ho ho ho)

Monday, March 3, 2014

What I Watched - February 2014

Time for me to share what I've been rotting my brain with the last month! Yay!


Somm

Watch it on Netflix!
"Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world." (from IMDB)

I found this documentary extremely entertaining. It was maybe more on the reality-tv side than documentary side, but still I really enjoyed watching this! As an actuary, I found the exam-prep to be extremely reminiscent of my own experiences with actuarial exams. The interviews with the sommeliers' significant others also resonated with DF (who often says the hardest exams he ever had to deal with were the ones I had to sit).

You really worry about this particular candidate. 


Bottom Line: Totally recommend if you have a passing interest in wine or food.



Sochi Winter Olympics

Like I'm sure many of you did, I watched quite a bit of the Winter Olympics this year. I think being Canadian makes me partial to the Winter Games. I ended up purchasing 1 month of a Canadian proxy through FoxyProxy, as 1 hockey game's worth of NBC commentary was enough to drive me up the wall. Asinine commentary banished (at the cost of $14 and slightly worse video quality), I particularly enjoyed figure skating and hockey, as well as a few of the slope style and snowboarding events.

The highlights for me were:

1. Mao Asada's free skate performance, which literally reduced me to tears (given her short program performance). I had to watch it twice!
2. Discovering Hanyu Yuzuru (and consequently the *fandom* of yuzuvier !!! I dig it.)
3. Women's hockey final
4. Men's hockey semi-final and final.
5. Men's moguls. ON THE EDGE OF MY FRICKIN' SEAT.
6. The official Team Canada coat from the Bay matching our bear Paddington's coat (to be fair, he is a Bay Charity bear from ~10 years ago!)

Looking good, P-bear!

Also, I always give bonus points for Canadian tv commercials. Living in the US for over 4 years now, I sometimes forget what TV commercials are like in Canada (especially the super heartwarming Olympics commericials). More than once, I would think "That's something you'd never see on American TV."



Miss Korea

Available on DramaFever
"Set in the year 1997. A cosmetics company is in bad financial shape during the IMF crisis, so to save the company, Hyung-joon along with his fellow employees attempt to make 27-year-old Ji-young into Miss Korea, a nationwide beauty pageant winner. Back in their high school days, Ji-young was the most beautiful and popular girl on campus, but she now works as an elevator girl."

I watched this based on Kate's recommendation (available on DramaFever). I generally have a love-hate relationship with k-dramas. That said, I really enjoyed Lee Mi-sook's character, Director Ma. She alone makes this drama worth watching! Most characters bugged me, but the characters and storylines were not completely awful (this is extremely noteworthy). The rich-arrogant-boy-turned-M&A-shark really irritated me, but I think it's because the actor looks like Gabe from the Office (... is this just me?). I also think the flashbacks to 1987 were unsettling, because the actors do NOT pass for teenagers by just accessorizing with thick-framed glasses and a hair barette.

Director Ma being a BAMF in episode 11


I think this show has gotten a lot of good reviews because it's not your average k-drama (i.e., filled with moments where you get irrationally angry at the characters and storylines), but on the flipside, it didn't draw me in as much. I associate k-dramas with the complete loss of self-control ("JUST ONE MORE EPISODE BEFORE BED") and sobbing hysterically towards the end; Miss Korea had none of that hold over me. Like I said, love-hate relationship!

Bottom Line: If you like k-dramas, this one is surprising in a good way, and worth a shot!


House of Cards (Season 2)

But why is the flag upside-down?
No plot summary needed. If you have Netflix and are not watching this, what's your excuse? If you don't have Netflix, WHY NOT? It's $8 a month, guys.

I enjoyed the second season very much, though I felt like Frank was a little too Mr. Burns-y and things were going his way too smoothly. Hopefully in the next season, someone will take him down a few pegs. Be proud of us, we didn't binge-watch it over the first weekend it was released. We spread it out over an entire WEEK! *puffs out chest*

Bottom Line: Yes.


Why do I watch so much TV D:

Bloglovin, if you use it

I had a request to add my blog to Bloglovin. I think this will do it...
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lipstick stash arm swatches

I should have taken pictures of the lipsticks themselves, but I was too focused on the arm swatches, haha.

Since I always seem to buy the same 3 lipstick colours, I decided to swatch all my lippies and keep the pictures on my phone, so next time I go shopping I can at least try and prevent myself from buying another dupe.

For reference, my face is around NC25 with strong yellow undertones. I wear NARS TM Alaska, Bourjois HM 53, and GA Luminous Silk in 3.5.

First, I did swatches on paper so I knew how to group them for arm swatching. Lipstick bullets are so deceiving! These look more vivid on paper than IRL, though.



Berry / Fuchsia Group


L to R:
Beaute Liqui-Gel Stain Harlot
Fresh Sugar Berry
Lipstick Queen Butterfly Ball Fly
YSL Glossy Stain 5
YSL Glossy Stain 13
YSL Glossy Stain 15
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RS404 Drama
Maybelline 875 Vivid Rose
Revlon Lip Butter 063 Wild Watermelon
(I forgot to swatch my Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayon in Cherry, but I think it's close to the Beaute stain)

Pink / Coral / Red Group


L to R:
Maybelline 870 Shocking Coral
Dior Addict Extreme 536 Lucky
YSL Rouge Volupte Shine 4 Rouge in Danger
MAC Viva Glam Cyndi
Guerlain Rouge Automatique 164 Chamade
Guerlain Rouge G 76 Gracy
YSL Glossy Stain 12
Lipstick Queen Red Sinner
Revlon Lip Butter 035 Candy Apple
YSL Glossy Stain 9


MLBB Group


L to R:
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD203 Portrait
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD311 Rubelite
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD305 Nymph
YSL Glossy Stain 7
Revlon Super Lustrous 637 Blushing Nude
Revlon Lip Butter 001 Pink Truffle
Revlon Colorburst 040 Soft Rose
Shiseido Rouge Perfect RD732 Blush
(I'm missing Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Petal, which is at the office)

A weekend after I took these pictures, I loaded them up on my phone and went lipstick shopping for a bridal lipstick! I wanted to find a colour between Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in Portrait (a bit too nude) and Nymph (which I love, but is a bit dark). The Shiseido Lacquer Rouge formula also transfers very easily, so I wanted the colour in a lipstick formula.

I went to Barney's and tried on Surratt Lipsliques. Thanks to bellyhead's Surratt Lipslique swatch post, I knew I wanted to try on Perfectionniste. I did, and loved it, so I boughts it.

When I got home from shopping, my Ichibankao order also arrived containing Visee Creamy lipstick in RD400.

Here are swatches next to a couple Shiseido Lacquer Rouges and my Guerlain RA in Chamade (all bridal lipstick contenders).

L to R
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD203 Portrait
Visee Creamy RD400 (from Ichibankao) - 4g for ~$23 USD
Surratt Lipslique Perfectionniste (from Barneys) ~ 1.5g for $34 USD
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge RD305 Nymph
Guerlain RA 164 Chamade

Top picture is natural (though weak) light, bottom is flash



The Surratt is a tiny bit pinker than Visee (which is a little more orange/beige on my lips), but they look very, very similar, and feel very similar on the lips too. Price per gram, the Visee is a better deal, and also imo the Visee packaging feels more luxe.

I'm feeling addicted to lipstick lately! Especially after my HE lipstick haul last month... I want moreee! :) I should maybe purge my existing stash a bit, though, huh.