Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Golden Eye

December 31, 2012

Happy *almost* New Years! Guess the Mayan calendar was really wrong considering we're ringing in 2013 tonight! How is everyone celebrating? The past couple years have been pretty low-key for me, and I'm planning on doing the same this year.. it's so cold in my city anyways! Dinner with friends, a movie, & fondue. Yum.

That's not to say I won't be dressing up and having lots of fun! To celebrate the end of the year, I've got the last polish I picked up from the OPI Skyfall collection to share with you, and this one is perfect for New Years Eve. Golden Eye - a glitter packed gold polish that will sparkle on your tips and be sure to have you in the celebratory mood.

Golden Eye had a surprisingly sheer formula - the pictures above have three coats of the polish and it is still not completely opaque! I'm thinking the polish would need 4-5 coats to reach full opacity, but due to the glitter, you can get away with fewer coats since the light reflection covers up the spots. Being a glitter polish, it wears very well for up to 5 days chip free, and you definitely need to use the foil method to remove the gold off your tips.

What do your nails look like for New Years Eve? Hope you all have a wonderful time ringing in the new year! See you in 2013 :)

outfit

Leopard Skin

December 28, 2012


F21 Blouse (similar) | Old Navy Rockstar Animal Print Jeans
Heels from HK | H&M Necklace | Coach Penny Purse

I've always wanted a pair of printed pants, but didn't know what to go for. With floral prints, stripes, and dots everywhere, I thought this animal print was so fun & unique! The rockstar jeans fit me like second skin, and are so, so comfortable. I love pairing prints and balancing them with something more subdued, and pink and grey are a favourite colour combination of mine. Definitely something different from the boring blacks and greys of a winter wardrobe! It's been the coldest Christmas for a while now, so all of you experiencing the frigid temperatures like me, stay warm out there!

Edmonton food

Japanese Tapas: Izakaya Tomo

December 26, 2012

After surviving my last three hour final exam for the semester, I knew the best thing to do was NOT to sit and home and sulk. It was a time for celebration, and what better than to head out for dinner with my best friend at Edmonton's first izakaya?

Izakaya Tomo - 3739 99 Street - Edmonton AB

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, an izakaya is the Japanese equivalent of a bar or lounge, where people typically go for a drink after work and have a variety of small dishes with their drinks. In North America, the concept has become a Japanese tapas bar. I've had my fair share of visits to izakaya's, but this past summer when I first heard of Izakaya Tomo opening, I was more than excited. The Japanese food here in Edmonton doesn't exactly cut it for me after being spoiled by numerous trips to Vancouver over the years.

Walking into the restaurant, the space was very clean and we were greeted by a cheerful group of employees which is typical of an izakaya. The all wooden interior really does bring images of Japanese establishments to mind, and the dimmer lighting gives the environment a laid back vibe.

Living up to their name, Izakaya Tomo has an extensive variety of sake, shochu, beer, and even cocktails available on their menu. An impressive display of the different bottles are lined up on a prominent wall with all the different available types - and they even offer a tasting flight of 3 sakes for $4.95. Owner and Chef Tomoya Mutaguchi has really poured his heart into the details of this establishment - each different food item available has been paired with recommendations for beer, shochu and sake.

For dinner, we went ahead and ordered six different dishes which was more than enough to share between the two of us. First up was the Aburi Saba ($4.45): torched sashimi mackerel. If you know me, you'll know I can't eat completely raw fish, so having the mackerel slightly cooked made me feel a little better. The four slices of this fish were served with green onion and ginger, which helped combat the notoriously fishy taste. The meat itself was creamy, and buttery soft, with a hint of lemon to it.

Our next dish was the Simmered Pork Belly ($6.95), which was served with daikon radish in broth. Each piece of pork came with a hefty chunk of fat, but the meat was very tender and flavourful. I had imagined the accompanying daikon to be quite soft, so the hard texture surprised me! The radish was soft enough to bite into while maintaining the hard structure, and flavoured like the broth.

The third dish to our table was the Beef Tataki ($8.95): seared sliced beef with butter ponzu sauce which came to the table just the way I like it. Deep red, rare, and tender. The presentation was beautiful and it was interesting pairing the thick cut beef with shredded cabbage. The ponzu was tangy and not overly salty, but there was no trace of butter that I could taste.

Our next dish was probably the most interesting of the night - Carbonara Udon ($11.95): Carbonara pasta with udon noodles. Bacon, onions, black pepper, cream, egg yolk, parmesan cheese. I honestly was so curious to see how an Italian classic would taste with udon substituted in there, and it worked well. The soft udon held onto the creamy sauce, and the smokiness from the bacon really cut through to give the dish its flavour.

The last savoury dish for the night was the Tamago Don ($4.95): Egg, green onions and sesame seeds with special sauce on top of the rice. When the dish arrived, I looked around for the aforementioned "special sauce" - which turned out to be the raw egg yolk. We mixed all the ingredients together, and it was amazing to see how much creaminess the yolk added to the rice. However, it was pretty bland since the whole bowl just tasted like egg yolk. It needs a little extra help to give it some oomph.

To finish off our meal, we were torn between two options, but opted for the Ice Cream Puff ($6.95): Matcha ice cream puff with red bean matcha jello and mochi. First off, the presentation was beautiful, and I could tell that this dessert definitely had housemade elements to it. The pastry shell was definitely made in house, and I believe the mochi pieces were as well. The matcha ice cream went very well with the red bean, and the pastry had a nice chew to it, lending the dish a different textural element. I was not a fan of the mochi though, as it was very dense and sticky and without any sweet flavour - definitely different from any mochi I've ever had before.

Having just opened two days prior to our visit, I didn't expect the establishment to be very busy at 6 PM on a Monday night. I was totally proven wrong when the approximate 45 seats in the restaurant quickly filled up by 6:45 pm! Definitely grab a reservation if you're going to checkout this new izakaya! The food was pretty good for Edmonton standards, and I wouldn't hesitate to return and try other dishes out. However, I will have to mention that the dishes are very safe - no dishes stand out as being very unique like the other izakayas I have visited before. Service was great until the restaurant started to get busy - it took about 25 minutes for us to try to get our bill sent to the table when we were done, but with time I'm hoping the little kinks are worked out.

During the meal I had the chance to talk to Chef Mutaguchi, and it turns out that throughout his 9 years with Mikado, he worked with a lot of my close friends who worked there as well. What a small world. He is so proud of his new business, with almost all the staff on site being Japanese, which adds to the authenticity of the experience. Izakaya Tomo is well on its way to being a very popular spot in Edmonton.

Izakaya Tomo on Urbanspoon

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: You Only Live Twice

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve! Everyone done all their Christmas shopping yet? Or are you a last minute shopper? I'm finishing mine up today by picking up one last gift.. probably the first year that I've waited til the last minute to finish up my shopping! Whoops. Whichever you celebrate, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and spend quality time with your families safe and warm.

Up this week on my fingers is my Christmas mani shade: OPI's You Only Live Twice from the James Bond Skyfall collection. That's right, James bond defies Drakes motto YOLO.. he lives twice. Yessss.

This shade is absolutely perfect for Christmas. It's a deep magenta shimmer, full of reflective shimmer and a glossy finish. I wouldn't say its unique as there are likely plenty of dupes (or close dupes) out there that you can find. It's cheery and festive, and achieves full opacity with the application of two coats. What are you wearing on your nails for the holidays this year?

Accessories

Four Eyes

December 23, 2012

I remember the first time I found out I needed glasses. It was in grade three, and I absolutely HATED wearing my glasses cause I thought they were so nerdy! No one else in my class had them, so I figured, why should I wear them? Except I sat at the back of the class and had to squint my eyes so hard to read the board, and in the process my eyes got worse and I couldn't get away with it anymore. BAM, four eyes.

Except no one really called me that, so things were okay. Over the years, glasses have become more and more popular as accessories rather than necessities, and nerdy glasses are all the rage. I've come across people wearing glasses with no lenses, or glasses without a prescription for the sole purpose of accessorizing. Just putting on a different set of frames can instantly upgrade your look, whether it be modern, sexy, vintage or geeky. Possibilities are endless. I personally love the nerdy look (I feel so much smarter during exams when I wear glasses!) but I haven't found the right pair of nerdy glasses until recently.


When Firmoo contacted me to try out a pair of their glasses, it was the perfect opportunity for me to end my search for nerdy frames. I've never ordered glasses for myself online, and didn't imagine the process to be so streamlined and straightforward. Or at least it was with Firmoo. All you need is your glasses prescription and pupil distance (most important!) and the ability to imagine what the glasses would look like on your face. And if you really can't do that, they have a virtual system for you to try them on your own face.


For myself, I picked out a square frame style - which I believe is currently sold out! Sad news. But on the flip side, there are two styles that are similar to those that I chose: here and here. After sending in my information, I received the glasses in the mail in under a week and tried them on. While they needed some adjusting to sit properly on my face, I'd say I upped my nerd factor and maybe some of my intelligence ;) They are little heavy since I have a strong prescription, but they offer plenty of different lens options to customize your glasses. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with Firmoo's level of service and product quality! They've got great prices that you can't really say no to, but there's something even better I can tell you about.

The company has recently launched a program where you can get your first pair absolutely free (1.5 index single vision lenses included). There's not much to lose, so hop on over to their website and take a look if you're in the market for a pair of glasses! The offer is valid on glasses, sunglasses, and goggles, so here's a quick link for you to check out and pick out something new for yourself! I'm really loving these tortoise shell frames :)

Birthday

Birthday Eats Part Three: The Makk on 124

December 19, 2012

To conclude my birthday celebrations this year, I was so excited to try out a brand new restaurant in Edmonton with my girlfriends. In the past couple months, so many places have popped up on my radar, I almost can't keep up! But celebrating with dinner at one of the newest places on 124 Street was the perfect decision.

The Makk on 124 - 10418 124 Street - Edmonton AB

Stepping into the warm restaurant from the chilly outdoors revealed a clean, chic interior. With bright lighting strategically placed around the restaurant, the dark decor contrasted the red walls beautifully. It was a quiet evening at the restaurant, which created a great environment for an intimate birthday dinner.

After sending our orders off with our server, she brought along some bread to the table. But this wasn't your average bread and butter - it was homemade vegan bread served with green onion & dill creme fraiche. Totally an unexpected twist, and I loved it. The bread was nice and soft, and the herbed creme fraiche was a great accompaniment.

To start our evening we all shared the Mango Chili Prawns with Basil ($15): Shell-off Tiger Prawns, Fresh Mango, Bell Pepper, Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce. The savoury prawns were cooked perfectly, retaining the "elastic" nature when biting into them. The salsa-esque blend on the side was slightly too sweet for my liking on its own, but was much better combined together with the shrimp.

And because we all love to share, my stomach was happy with me trying out a bit of everyones food that night. The Truffled Mac n’ Cheese was a definite favourite at the table ($18): Macaroni, Truffle Cream, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan . Creamy al dente pasta amongst gooey cheese with the essence of truffles? Sign me up.

My main for the night was the Smoked Duck Breast ($29): Slow Braised Red Cabbage, Macaire Potatoes, Cassis Jus. As if I hadn't had enough protein already on the nights leading up to this one, it didn't matter, because whenever I see lamb or duck on the menu, it has to be mine. The presentation of this dish was beautiful, with a bowl lifted off to reveal the duck still smoking away, waiting to be eaten. The duck was smoky and tender, while the crisp skin of the macaire potatoes revealed the smooth, soft interior. I found there wasn't much aside from natural flavours, so the cassis jus was a necessary pairing to give the duck and potatoes a savoury kick. The sweet red cabbage gave the dish a nice contrast.

Being the birthday girl, I was determined to have a dessert all to myself. No ifs, ands, or buts! The Coconut Panna Cotta served with a sorbet of my choice ($7) was calling my name. The panna cotta was quite thick compared to what I am used to, but it was smooth and creamy with a hint of coconut. I had chosen to go with the watermelon sorbet (all ice cream and sorbet is homemade!), which was really refreshing. Only thing is that it was slightly too sweet to pass for all natural sweetness coming from the watermelon, but nonetheless it was a nice light finish.

The girls had chosen to share the Vanilla Creme Brulee ($8): A Rich Custard Base Topped with Caramelized Brown Sugar, Seasonal Fresh Fruit and House Made Sorbet, and the dish delivered as promised. The strawberry mint sorbet they had chosen was not too sweet, giving the classic custard dessert the illusion of being very sweet. The torched sugar had a nice crack to it, giving way to the creamy vanilla custard below.

Being brand new to 124 Street, I'm sure The Makk is a very welcome addition to the unique, locally owned businesses in the area. What I really love is that they strive to use fresh, local ingredients in all their dishes, and they have been conscious to provide vegan and gluten free options on their menu to be inclusive for all patrons. Although this restaurant is on the pricier end of the spectrum, it would be great for a date night or celebratory dinner. What I'm really interested in now is their Sunday Brunch - I'll have to go try it out and report back.

The Makk on 124 on Urbanspoon

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: The World is Not Enough

December 17, 2012

It's Monday again! Where on earth does the time go?! Over the past week I've been studying my little tail off, and today is the day of my last exam! One three hour exam stands in the way of me and Christmas. I can't wait to finally have time to get my stress, err, Christmas shopping done and put up the Christmas tree! Hope everyone had a great weekend, and if you're studying for finals too, good luck!

Up this week I have another gorgeous shade from the OPI James Bond collection - are you getting bored yet? :) This one is called The World is Not Enough. And if my memory serves me correctly, this is the first James Bond movie I ever watched! I definitely still remember the song for it too.. it literally was playing in my head while I did my nails!

During application, I was surprised with the shade that was showing up on my nails. I had expected something dark like the bottle suggests, but the formula was quite sheer and built itself up after 3 layers to full opacity. I would have to describe the colour as a taupe based shimmer polish - there are fun pink sparkles in it. When subjected to sunlight, the pink really comes out and almost looks like a deep rose gold! There's definitely lots going on in the polish that makes it something unique in my collection. The one downside is that you see tipwear VERY quickly. Within a day the tips of my nails were visible - the edges were fading, but there was no chipping until the fourth day. This is definitely one of my favourites from OPI's holiday collection for this year!

outfit

Backwards

December 15, 2012


Cardigan from HK (worn as top)(similar) | F21 Tank Top, Scarf, Tights | Tobi Leather Skirt
Heels from HK | Coach Ocelot Haircalf Penny Purse (
similar)

So. I've always wanted to try to wear clothing backwards just to see what it would look like. Lo and behold, I finally decided to try wearing a cardigan backwards, AND IT WORKS! I like how a v-neck button up cardigan looks with the open back - seriously, so much fun. The only problem I have to overcome is straps from purses undoing the top button, oops. So if you're going to try it out, I suggest wearing a shoulder bag or satchel to go with the look!

And I have to mention that I'm currently in love with little bags! This particular silhouette, the Coach Penny, is becoming a personal favourite. You might recognize it cause I have the sunflower one as well (last seen here) - but I'm loving the size and all the fun colours it comes in! Best of all the strap can be removed and it turns into a clutch. Nothing like great, multi-functional pieces.

Birthday

Birthday Eats Part Two: XIX Nineteen

December 13, 2012

The next stop in my gluttonous birthday adventures was to one of the newest dining spots in Edmonton: XIX Nineteen. Nineteen is the latest culinary venture of Chef Andrew Fung, who has been a chef at Blackhawk Golf Club, and is most recently known for his gold medal win at the 2011 Gold Medal Plates culinary competition.

XIX Nineteen - 5940 Mullen Way NW - Edmonton AB

This restaurant is located fairly close to my home which is convenient, but for anyone living anywhere else in Edmonton, it can be a fair bit of a drive south. Located right off the Anthony Henday and Rabbit Hill Road, it really isn't hard to find, and you don't have to drive all the way out to Blackhawk anymore to try out Chef Fung's dishes.

When I first stepped into the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the concept of an open kitchen - large windows giving a bird eye view of the kitchen and the hustle and bustle going on inside. Stepping back and taking everything in, the dim lighting of the restaurant gives it a warm, inviting feel, while the decor and artwork add a touch of class.

On this particular night, I was lucky to be joined by many of the wonderful people that I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know this year. We're a huge bunch of foodies and I couldn't imagine a better way to spend the night! While everyone tempted me to drink the night away, I had to be up early the next morning, so a Caesar was the perfect choice. Nineteen makes theirs nice and spicy, just the way I like them.


{Ahi Tuna & Scallop Ceviche}

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Skyfall

December 10, 2012

Here we are... at Monday again. With my final exams right around the corner (1st one tomorrow!) I've been indoors all weekend "studying" - I get SO distracted, it is disgusting. Hoping for nothing but the best!

This week, I finally have OPI's Skyfall shade to share with you! Named after the latest in the Bond series, I actually got to see the movie about 3 weeks ago and really enjoyed it. To keep on trend, this colour matches one of the most popular shades this season - oxblood. No, not the colour of the blood of an ox, but oxidized blood!

I was a little skeptical when the oxblood colour showed up in fashion trends - I personally didn't really enjoy the shade, but overtime it's grown on me and I really love the colour now. Skyfall in this collection is the perfect oxblood shade - a red with heavy brown undertones that can flatter all skintones. The formula was smooth, and application was a breeze. Two coats are necessary for full opacity and it wears well on the nails for up to 5 days! I'll definitely be wearing this one again when I get the chance.

Birthday

Birthday Eats Part One: The Marc

December 08, 2012

Two weeks ago I celebrated my 22nd birthday with my amazing family and friends. If you know me well enough, you know that I would celebrate with non-stop eating for days on end.. which is exactly what I did! I literally ate out for six days in a row, four of which were for the purpose of celebrating my birthday, and even though I am now nursing a small food baby, every bit of it was worth it. First up was a lovely dinner date at The Marc.

The Marc - 9940 106 Street - Edmonton AB

To me, The Marc is almost like a hidden gem. Tucked away from major streets inside Sterling Place, you open the doors and find yourself in an environment where you can just wind down from a long day. The dim lighting gives off this cozy feel, while the contrast between the light and dark decor is simple and clean. Perfect for date night or going out to celebrate with friends over great food.

Our server for the night had no idea that I was there to celebrate a special occasion, regardless, she was so attentive and had a great sense of humor! After taking our order, she brought us some bread and it was perfect. I need to find out if they make the bread in house, cause the crisp outer crust revealing the soft, pillowy interior was a great way to start the night.

To tease our tummies, we shared the Seared Scallops & Bacon ($13): fava bean, cello radish, celeriac puree & maple cider aigre-doux. Look at that variety of colour! It was definitely a beautiful dish to look at. I've recently developed a hankering for scallops, and these certainly hit the spot. I only wish there were more on the plate! The scallops were tender and perfectly cooked, while the bacon added a hint of smokiness - all of it was tied together with the delightfully tangy sweet and sour sauce. Our server even brought us more bread to soak up the delicious sauce. Mm.

When our server described the feature dish of the night, she only had to say the first couple words and I knew it was going to be a hit. Rack of lamb with a garlic, parsley & dijon mustard crust, served with duck fat fried potatoes and carrot puree ($29). See what I mean?! The presentation was beautiful and the lamb cooked to perfection - very mild game flavour and the crust was so flavourful! My dinner date loved the carrot puree!

When I first set my eyes on the menu for the Marc, I knew exactly what I would be having for dinner. Seared duck breast ($26): puy lentils, Grand Marnier reduction. Whoa, this might possibly be the best birthday dinner dish I've EVER had. The duck was phenomenal. A huge portion cooked medium rare - it was seriously melt in your mouth good and I enjoyed every bite. The reduction was slightly sweet and the lentils were a great way to change up the texture. The carrots and fennel served with the dish were quite salty though, which was the only thing I could find wrong with this dish.

Like always, I was tempted by the desserts to finish off the evening. It was time for a sugar coma, so the beignets were the way to go. Freshly made, served hot, and coated in sugar, I had to try them out with the accompanying caramel and creme anglaise. They really shone on their own, but the light, airy dessert paired with the creme anglaise was a flawless finish.

Having part one of my birthday eats at The Marc really set the bar high for the subsequent dinners. I definitely recommend coming to visit for special occasions or dinner dates - the staff treat you well and you're sure to leave with a happy stomach!

The Marc on Urbanspoon

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