Butter London

Manicure Monday: All Hail The Queen

July 30, 2012

So was everyone plopped infront of their TV over the weekend watching the Olympics? I have to say.. some of those moments were definitely shockers for me! Phelps coming in fourth? Didn't really see that one coming.

This week, I'm celebrating the Olympics by donning a bit of London on my nails... with Butter London's cult favourite, All Hail The Queen.


All Hail the Queen was originally named as All Hail McQueen, celebrating the late British designer Alexander McQueen. The polish was originally released in Fall of 2010, but is now part of the permanent Butter London polish collection.


All Hail the Queen is a taupe based polish chock full of gold and silver glitter particles. It is a relatively nude shade, that I can see looking good on all different shades of skin.


What makes this polish really special though, it how it looks under sunlight. Look at those glitters shine! At two coats, the polish was completely opaque on my nails, but one coat would be enough for a sheer coat of nude colour.


All Hail The Queen is my first polish from Butter London, but definitely not my last. The application was smooth, and the formula just flowed right onto the nail. The brush, despite thin, is very flexible and spreads nicely on the nail for even application. Love the polish and I can't wait to acquire more!

Anyone have a favourite shade from Butter London to share?

Edmonton food

Pinkberry Arrives in Edmonton

July 28, 2012

About two weeks ago, the American Frozen Yogurt chain Pinkberry landed in Edmonton and opened in one of the highest traffic locations the city has to offer: West Edmonton Mall. With their prime location set in a busy food court right outside of the waterpark, it seemed like it would be guaranteed tons of traffic from froyo hungry Edmontonians.

Pinkberry - West Edmonton Mall Food Court Phase 3 - Edmonton AB


Luckily I had some time in my schedule to check out the Grand Opening party on July 12th. From 5PM til close, curious customers were given a chance to try out a small sized yogurt with three toppings free of charge. While the media event was going on, I chose to stand in line to get the 'real' (or as close to real as can be) Pinkberry experience by interacting with the staff behind the counter.


The unit occupied by Pinkberry is quite spacious (previously occupied by Gelati Napoli), and lit in a variety of different ways. However, it isn't brightly lit like Tutti Frutti, and features dimmer lighting giving the space a relaxed vibe. The brightest lighting in the space is actually the case where the toppings are stored. I personally prefer brighter spaces, because it exudes an energetic environment, especially when the staff are friendly and enthusiastic.


Unlike Tutti Frutti and Twisted Yogurt here in Edmonton, Pinkberry chooses to serve yogurt in set sizes, and the staff behind the counter create it for you. You choose the base flavour and toppings, and that's all the control you have. The toppings are organized into four different categories: daily fresh cut fruit, liquid toppings, premium dry toppings, and luxe toppings (which have an additional cost to them). All the toppings are placed in bins right next to one another, so I'm a little worried about cross contamination between them, especially since there are nuts available as a topping. If staff accidentally drop any nuts into adjacent bins, there is the possibility of serious allergic reactions, so I would love to see the nut related toppings placed in a separate area if possible.


At any one time, six yogurt flavours will be available, and on opening day there were (and still currently are): original, strawberry, chocolate, coconut, pomegranate & mango. For myself, I like the tartness of yogurt and typically get plain with fresh fruit toppings and mochi. This way the yogurt is a healthier treat! I did try the mango and coconut flavours, and found them to be quite sweet and not too creamy, but without that tart taste that I like. I'm going to safely assume that chocolate and strawberry are creamy flavours as well, without the typical tartness.


Now I do have to mention that I'm not really a big fan of this service system, because I like to control my own portion sizes and the proportion of toppings that I place on my yogurt. You will also only get to have one flavour of yogurt in your bowl, unlike the system at Tutti Frutti where you are able to mix and match the colours in your bowl to your liking. For yogurt with three toppings of your choice, you're looking at $5.70 for a small, $6.65 for medium, and $8.70 for large (all prices before tax). If you're not a fan of toppings, that isn't a problem either, with the prices set at $3.95, $4.95 and $6.95 respectively. Looking at the prices, they are a bit more expensive for their sizes compared to the price per ounce system utilized by other frozen yogurt establishments in Edmonton.


Something that does set Pinkberry aside, however, is the range of yogurt options available. Staff are able to serve up fresh fruit parfaits, yogurt in cones, fresh fruit bowls, and even blended smoothies. I think health conscious consumers will also appreciate the caloric count associated with each product that they serve. Despite the crazy rush of customers for the opening event, the staff behind the counter remained calm and were so friendly! For the first day of service, things seemed to be under control and ran smoothly, making the experience for the first time customer a pleasant and memorable one.

Pinkberry on Urbanspoon

lip balm

Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm

July 25, 2012

After falling head over heels obsessed with the Revlon Lip Butters, I picked up the new Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20 Lip Moisturizing Balm just to see how they compared.


I forgot about it for a little while, then opened up the package one day just to test it out.. and at first I wasn't really impressed. I had purchased the shade Cherry Me as it seemed like the only colour I would even attempt (what is with the pastel pink and purple shades??). The packaging just looked too juvenile with the bubble letters, and I really am not a fan of the orange tube. I guess you could say the packaging was a little too loud for my taste, but it's the product that counts and I gave it a shot.


Upon application, Cherry Me tasted like Cherry which doesn't taste too bad. The colour payoff was nice, and not too bold and felt both silky and relatively moisturizing. I was expecting a deep red colour payoff from the balm, but it turned out to have more pink in it, making it easier to wear on lips. This product promises 8 hour hydration for visibly renewed lips in 4 weeks.. but I use a ton of different products and really just can't comment on the changes after 4 weeks as I would never solely use this product.


First application was at 11:45 AM, and by the time 1:30 PM rolled around, my lips started to feel a little dry, but it was manageable. When 3:30 PM struck, I couldn't stand it and needed another application. All in all, one application definitely did not satisfy me for 8 hours. At that point, I decided I didn't like the product and didn't touch it again.


But here I am, months later, and I use it ALL. THE. TIME. What? I actually use this product fairly often now, as I like the sheer layer of colour and shine it gives to my lips. While it does require more applications than promised, it does keep my lips hydrated and soft throughout the day. The product is quite inexpensive (retails for about $5), but as it is a drugstore product, you can probably find it on sale for around $3 once in a while (which is the price I picked it up at).


In comparison to the Revlon Lip Butters, I find there really is no real comparison that can be done. Not because one product is much better than the other, but because they are so different from one another. The Baby Lips balm is sheer and gives colour, but a thinner product when applied. The lip butters apply much thicker, and give more colour payoff true to the shade of the product in the tube. For me, they are more like lipsticks with amped up hydration. So there you have it. We all know how different lipsticks are from lip balms.. so you can make the choice as to which you would prefer! However, I must note that I love that Maybelline included that SPF factor :).

China Glaze

Manicure Monday: Re-Fresh Mint

July 23, 2012

Happy Monday! Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend :) There's so many events going on in my city right now that I was just all over the place. The local exhiition/fair is on, as is the Indy, and Taste of Edmonton - an event where local restaurants make samples of their food for you to try! You know I was all over that.. especially when some of my fellow food bloggers were competing in a cook-off! More on that later.


I'm still riding high on the mint coloured kick, and sported China Glaze's Re-Fresh Mint on my tips this week. Re-Fresh Mint is an older shade, circa 2010's Up & Away collection. But seeing as it's my favourite colour, I can never have too many mint shades.


This particular colour is a pale mint creme - definitely with more yellow in it than blue like regular mint shades, but since it is much lighter, it can appear a little chalky on certain skintones.


I always have some issues with China Glaze brushes, since they're longer and thinner than the OPI Pro-wide brush, but with some practise and patience, application isn't all that bad. The formula is a little runny, but definitely opaque after two coats. Smooth colour and full wear for up to 4 days without chips - I'm a happy camper.

What did you guys do this weekend?

Edmonton food

New Chef, New Direction: Murrieta's Bar & Grill

July 19, 2012

Two weeks ago, I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend the Summer Menu Media Launch at Murrieta's Bar & Grill on Whyte Avenue here in Edmonton. Before I continue on with this post, I'd like to thank you all for your continued support & readership! Without you, I wouldn't have the opportunity to attend events like these, and I'm so thankful to have you all on this journey with me!

Murrieta's Bar & Grill - 10612 82 Avenue - Edmonton AB


Before this particular dinner, I had never stepped foot inside Murrieta's. Of course, I've walked by multiple times, and even attempted to peek inside before like a creeper, but never had the chance to sit down and try the menu. So when I heard Chef Shane Chartrand (awesome article on him here!) took the reigns and revamped the menu, I was more than excited to try some dishes out for myself.


On this night, buckets of rain were pouring from the clouds up in the sky - literally. With my trench coat and umbrella in hand, I made my way to the restaurant, and was greeted the friendly hostess with a big smile on her face. Taking in the surroundings, the restaurant was elegant, and upscale without being pretentious. The environment was warm and welcoming, and perfect for any type of celebration.


It's the first time a chef has been given complete control over the menu at Murrieta's, and it's important to note what Chef Chartrand believes to be most important: Sustainability. While it's important to source locally, it's not always feasible given that we live in Edmonton. In addition, it can be difficult for diners to justify the higher cost per plate, so Chartrand tries his best to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.


Having the experience of running L2 Grill, Murrieta's runs at a much smaller scale than L2 Grill, which can allow for a personalized dining experience. For special occasions you may opt for a meal off the menu, chef chosen and catered to you. Bigger dinner parties? No problem, as there are private rooms to accomodate to any occasion.


Enough background. Let's talk food. For the evening, I was lucky enough to be dining with Susan of Molly's Eats, and Tiffany of In Search of Yumminess, both of which love to share food so I got to try lots of dishes. Oh, and I must mention that I'm really young.. so I had no idea that I was chatting and dining with former Oiler Craig Simpson at my table. Crazy I tell ya.


To start off, we were given bread baked by ACE Bakery served with anchovy & roast garlic infused butter. The moment you twist that lid off the jar of butter, the aroma is amazing and tastes even better on the bread. It was so good that I had.. many pieces.


Deep Fried Goat Cheese: Pancetta, Green Apple Sticks, Orange Brandy Sauce, Local Crackers

Look at the presentation of this dish.. and it's only an appetizer! The goat cheese was warm and rich, but maintained it's usual texture despite being deep fried. The crackers were salty, but easily balanced out with the apple sticks.


Watermelon & Boursin Salad: Beech Brown Mushrooms, Nutmeg Cinnamon Gastrique, Red Grape Dressing

A very refreshing salad to have before the meal. I loved the juicy, sweet watermelon chunks mixed with the dressing, but the greens on their own were a little bitter for my liking - best eaten together with the watermelon.


Trio of Dips: Lime Pico De Gallo, Cream Cheese & Crab, Herbed Garlic Mushroom Duxelle, Baked Flatbread

With the flatbread baked in house, the three dips were nice, they weren't memorable enough for me to jump and order the next time I visit, but I'd have to say the duxelle was my favourite. This dish by itself is quite heavy as an appetizer thanks to the carbs, and is best shared amongst 2-3 people to avoid being too full for the mains.


Seafood Boil: Snow Crab Leg, Mussels, Scallops, Prawns, Fish, Julienne Vegetables, Kielbasa Corn, New Potatoes

Do not wear white when you order this dish! You'll definitely get a little messy attempting to devour the seafood. I'm not really a seafood person per se, but the seafood was definitely fresh! I expected the broth to be strong, but it was lighter than expected, allowing for the natural sweetness of the seafood to come out.


Lamb Duo: Roasted Half Rack, Merguez Sausage, Black Pearl Medley, Wild Blackberry Chutney

Mm, lamb. I had debated on ordering this dish, until Tiffany beat me to it. The presentation was beautiful. Lamb was tender, and perfectly cooked. The black pearl medley had a nice bite to it, and the chutney tied it altogether. Next visit, this dish is mine!


"Ash Crusted" Tuna: Mushroom Mashed Potatoes, Peas, Fried Leeks, Lime Salsa

So, I have a secret. I was completely out of my mind, and out of my element on this night.. and I blame it on the crazy weather. First of all, I'm not a big seafood fan. Second, I really never eat raw fish. So when my seared ahi tuna arrived infront of me, I took a big gulp and wondered why on earth I was being such an idiot! I also pondered how I could make it look like I was enjoying the fish but really wasn't. But maybe this was a really great mistake because I enjoyed the dish and felt like a rebel or something. The ahi tuna was really fresh, and quite firm compared to what I've tried before. My first bite actually made me think I was eating an amazing, tender steak. The lime salsa was really good too. Congratulations, Shane. You've made me like ahi tuna!


So, you may be wondering how I still had room in my ready-to-explode stomach for more food.. but here's another secret: I have a second stomach for dessert, so technically I'm like half a cow cause I have two stomachs instead of four :). Naturally I had to try the creme brule, which is different every day. I almost feel like I need to visit multiple times to try them all. The creme brule of the day was white chocolate, and so decadent. Of course having the flame done table side makes everything better too.


Chocolate Lava Cake: Grand Marnier Raspberry Coulis, Butterscotch Gelato

Yet another delicious dessert was the lava cake served in a little mason jar. Such a cute way to present the dessert and ensure you dig deep to get a little of everything in each bite. And with that, my food baby was about ready for delivery.


A big thank you again to the crew at Murrieta's for all their hard work and the opportunity to check out the new summer menu! I do look forward to trying out more dishes (ahem, lots of creme brulee), as I know I'm in good hands when Chef Chartrand is in the kitchen.


Disclaimer: as this was a media launch event, views expressed in this post are solely mine. I was not expected to feature this restaurant on my blog, nor obligated to do so. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Murrieta's on Urbanspoon

Essie

Manicure Monday: Turquoise & Caicos

July 16, 2012

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I was down in Calgary - so nice to be with friends, relax, and just stuff my face with food. I was literally in pig mode.. Eat.. sleep.. eat.. wait & digest.. eat. Time to start working out again before I become a big ball!


On my nails this week is an oldie but goodie - Essie Turquoise & Caicos. With mint shades popping up everywhere, it was only right that I pulled out this colour to play with, and spice it up with some gold glitter (Sephora by OPI Only Gold For Me)! Not to mention, it's a great pop of colour for any outfit!


I find myself going back to this shade all the time. It's a beautiful vibrant teal-mint colour, quite similar to the classic Tiffany Blue. And luckily, this shade is permanent in the Essie collection - so you can pick one up too!


The formula is fantastic, and honestly, you could get away with just one thick coat on your nails. Application is smooth, and I always get 4-5 days of chip free wear. How much better can this colour get?

Which shades do you always find yourself going back to?

outfit

Splattered Dots & Cheeky Thought

July 12, 2012





Rory Beca for F21 Top | F21 Shorts & Tank | Hermes Bangle | Shoes & Clutch purchased in HK
Coach Ring & Earrings | Tom Ford Nico Sunglasses | Cheeky Thought Double Wrap Bracelet c/o

{Pictures thanks to Ray Bulatao}

And the heat wave in Edmonton continues. Not that I should complain, considering that winter lasts about 6 months where I live.. but really. I feel like I'm over in Asia rather than North America. So. Freaking. Hot. Messy buns & lightweight tops are the only things I live for.

Today I wanted to introduce you to Cheeky Thought, which is another awesome accessories shop on Etsy! All the pieces in the shop are handmade, by the owner, Shanna, and I love all the colour and variety of bracelets offered. Everything is lightweight, easy to wear and stack, and Shanna can even customize a piece for you! Shipping is quick, and the packaging is beautiful. Shanna was also so kind to offer all you wonderful readers 15% off your purchase with the code '15OFF' through July 20, 2012 - Whoo! Happy shopping!

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Just Spotted the Lizard!

July 09, 2012

Monday funday! Except not really, because there's a massive heat wave going on Edmonton. So much that the power generators cannot keep up with the demand to run A/C so that there are rolling blackouts going through the city in order to keep power running. And those blackouts are including traffic lights so that rush hour traffic right now is an absolute gong show, because drivers here are outrageous and impatient. I'm sure those of you that are used to living in scorching temperatures are laughing at my city right now.


Did anyone go see The Amazing Spider-Man last week when it opened? I keep hearing mixed reviews.. some say it's absolutely terrible, while others say they enjoyed it and would see it again! OPI recently released a collection of polishes to coincide with the release of the new Spiderman movie, and I picked up some of the polishes to share with you!


I was initially really hesitant to pick up Just Spotted the Lizard. Why? Cause I hate frosty finish, duochrome polishes. I absolutely hate seeing brush strokes, which is why creme polishes are my ultimate go-to.

However, this golden green and teal blue duochrome polish is so pretty. At one angle, the polish will appear to be golden green, and at another, it will flash that beautiful teal-blue-green combination.


It's been said and shown that Just Spotted the Lizard is an exact match to the coveted Chanel Peridot polish. The OPI version is a much cheaper alternative ($10 versus $35), and wears very well - I had no chips for up to 5 days. Although a bit brush-stroke prone (it's the nature of the finish), the formula was great and very easy to work with. Fully opaque in two coats, and quick drying - this one is a keeper for me!

Quinoa

Recipe: Vietnamese Style Quinoa Salad

July 07, 2012

Heat waaaave. It's so hot here in Edmonton for the next five days.. I want to hide in my air conditioned house, but I also want to be outside to enjoy the sun. Decisions, decisions...


Let me just put this out there: I am OBSESSED with quinoa. Seriously. I can search hours on end for ideas as to what I can do with this stuff! I love that it's so healthy, and that a small amount will cook and double in size! Basically I've been eating it nonstop lately.. So I made this cold salad last week, and it's perfect to eat on hot summer days. It's healthy, and so easy to whip up. Enjoy!

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Vietnamese Style Quinoa Salad with Shrimp

Ingredients for the Salad
1/2 pound of shrimp, deveined & cooked
1 cup quinoa
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 long english cucumber, finely diced
2 green onions, finely chopped

Ingredients for the Dressing
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (more if you desire!)
2-3 large leaves of basil, chopped



Directions
1. Cook quinoa according to directions on packaging. Typically 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water, simmer 15 minutes until water is fully absorbed. Set aside and allow to cool.

2. For the dressing, combine lime juice, fish sauce, oil, sugar, basil & Sriracha in a bowl.

3. Set aside 2 or 3 shrimp for garnish. Take the remaining shrimp and chop into bite sized pieces, then place in the dressing and allow to marinate for 5-10 minutes.

4. Once the quinoa is cool, add the cucumber, green onion and carrots, then mix everything with the shrimp and dressing. Adjust the taste if necessary. Garnish with reserved shrimp and the salad is ready to serve, but I prefer to pop it into the fridge for about an hour to cool it down. Enjoy!


Recipe inspired by Serious Eats

Essie

Manicure Monday: Navigate Her

July 02, 2012

Happy Monday! To all my fellow Canadians - hope you had a wonderful Canada Day! For the Americans - the 4th of July is just around the corner.. so your extra vacation day is coming up! One of these days I need to experience it in the States for myself!


Today I have the colour that the Essie Spring collection is named after... Navigate Her. When I think of navigation, I think of blue.. but I guess Essie thinks otherwise, as this colour is a pastel green creme!


Unlike the usual mint greens that we've been seeing for the season, this one has much more yellow in it, making me think of algae. Maybe that's the connection to the sea and navigation.. hah!


Formula is fantastic to work with and application was a breeze. At two coats, this polish is opaque, but doesn't have the best staying power out there. After three days I began to see chips, and had full on chunks of colour missing by the fourth day. Booo! You might notice that my pinky finger has taken a vacation this week.. there was a major accident, and hopefully it will recover enough to reappear next week ;)

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