Monday, June 21, 2010

Makeup Review: Beauty For Real

I attended The Make Up Show in NYC this past May and learned about a new cosmetic company called Beauty For Real. So far, they only sell lip glosses, lip pencils, and mascara on their product line but I am about to review their new lip glosses. The innovative product features a mirror on the side and LED light that provides easy convenience for applying the lip gloss! I can just click on the button located on the top of the cap to apply the lip gloss in dark rooms (like a lounge or movie theatre!). The formula for the lip gloss is also quite natural. It is loaded with antioxidants, anti-aging ingredients and minty flavors that tingle on my lips for minutes after application.

The cosmetic salesperson, Stephanie, was kind enough to select a shade for me. I normally wear peach or coral colors on my skintone but I am always happy to put myself in the hands of a professional and allowing them to choose my best coloring. And needless to say, I was not disappointed. Stephanie chose the shade Fireworks for me. And I love it! I think all the shades would fit a variety of skintones, so it is just a matter of selecting your favorite color. The picture above was taken at the display center at The Make Up Show. I will be reviewing other favorite products from the show in future blogs so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shecky's Girls Night Out in NYC

I went to the Shecky's Girls Night Out on June 17th at 82 Mercer NYC. This is probably my third or fourth time attending this event, and I was disappointed during the last event in December. Probably because most of the vendors were selling ho-hum products. However, last week's event was quite a surprise and made me wish that I purchased a real ticket in order to get the goody bag! (Instead, I attended the event as a guest of a press so I only received a free admission ticket, sans goody bag).

This year, there was a variety of different vendors and sponsors for the event ranging from Veet, Maybelline, Febreze, and Lean Cuisine The majority of the vendors were jewelry sellers/designers and the trend appears to be big chunky jewelry pieces. Rings were a stand-out item and it seemed as if if the designers decided that the larger the ring, the better! All the colors were vibrant and sparkly. Here is a picture of a seller with rings that caught my attention. The second picture are accompany earrings with the rings.

The most surprising sponsor of the Shecky's event for me is Lean Cuisine. They offered coupons and samples of their new product, Garlic Chicken Pasta in steamable pouches. Since I was hungry (it was close to dinner time), I was more than happy to sample their food. Maybe it was the hunger, but the garlic chicken was extremely tasty! I would definitely purchase their products the next time we shop at Target or Walgreens. The product will be sold at other national stores in the future.

Stay tuned for my next post on another review of my favorite jewelry designer - Sara G. Strauss. One of my all-time favorite earrings were made by her and of course, I had to see her again to purchase another pair of earrings. And yes, I found another cute whimsical pair of earrings! Yea!! In the meantime, I encourage you to follow her on facebook to hear about her adventures of preparing for the Emmy's!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How I Made Pork Tonkatsu

So I've been inspired to make pork tonkatsu after watching a few youtubes videos and all the years of eating Japanese food at restaurants. It has taken me a long time to get over my fear of frying food (mostly due to the splattering of oil), but I figured I would experiment by purchasing some thin porkchops. Here is an approximate recipe that I followed:

3 - 4 thin cut porkchops
panko crumbs
1 beaten egg
salt and pepper
oil for frying

1) Rinse the porkchops and use the blunt end of your knife to beat each porkchop. This will tenderize the chop. Salt and pepper each of the chops to taste.
2) First, dip the porkchop in the flour. Then dip the porkchop with beaten egg and finally, cover it in panko crumbs. Repeat for all porkchops.
3) Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Use enough oil so that there is a thin layer on the pan for frying.
4) Test the heat of the oil by placing a wooden chopstick in the pan. There should be small bubbles at the end of the chopstick. This means the oil is ready for frying.
5) Gently place the porkchop in the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan otherwise the temperature of the oil will cool too much and the porkchops will not cook. Cook until brown usually 4 minutes on each side.

6) Take out the porkchops and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. While hot, feel free to sprinkle extra pepper.
7) Cut thin slices of each porkchop before serving. Optional: Serve with tonkatsu sauce on the side.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Restaurant Review: AJ Maxwell's Steakhouse

57 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10020-1509
(212) 262-6200

Earlier this month, we went to eat at AJ Maxwell's Steakhouse with a group of friends. The best thing about eating with friends is that I get to take pictures of everyone's food and taste test if needed! The restaurant is close to Radio City Hall and Times Square area so it is quite convenient to go to. The main attraction to this restaurant is the steak but we still had to try the appetizers.

I am on a personal quest to find the best french onion soup in the NY area. The point of comparison (aka, the best french onion soup) will always be a small cafe in Paris. But nevertheless, the second best french onion soup is surprisingly at Applebee's! Okay so here is the soup at AJ Maxwell's. It looked quite fancy however the soup was surprisingly bland!! Hmm, I think the chef was missing out on the salt.

Now, here the main attraction - a porterhouse steak cooked to perfection! It was absolutely delicious with just salt and pepper.

And here is another menu item - the Louis XIV Filet Mignon with Foie Gras and Port Wine Sauce.

And here was my entree of the night. I ordered one of the specials of the night - a seafood risotto. The seafood was fresh and cooked to perfection. However the risotto was a bit undercooked for my taste. That was the only part of the dish that needed to be improved upon.

But the best part of a meal is always dessert! Just like the french onion soup, we always try out the menu's creme brulee. And next to Jander's creme brulee from cooking class, the dessert from AJ Maxwell was not half bad. The sugar coating revealed a creamy pudding underneath. Overall, the meal was delicious and best enjoyed in good company. The cost of the meal was a bit on the high end because we ordered drinks, appetizers and shared desserts. But I will definitely return and next time, I will order one of the dry-aged steaks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Black Hound New York

Black Hound New York is a European-inspired pastry shop featuring a delectable array of cakes, cookies, savory treats and confection. Everything is made from scratch using Belgian chocolate, pure butter and all natural ingredients. Their retail store is located on 170 Second Avenue in NYC. I recently had the pleasure of sampling a few of the cakes at a wedding. What an indulgent treat for the guests! I barely had room for these desserts especially after a traditional ten course Chinese banquet! But fear not, I always have room for sweets.

This is a picture of their dessert table set-up! And also a close-up of the cake stand. Our favorites were the strawberry and creme, and the pear almond cake! But I also love anything with ganache on it. Bring on the chocolate!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Product Review: Salon Ziba Dry Shampoo

I recently received a bottle of Salon Ziba's volumizing dry shampoo called 'Dry Cleaner' at the prettycity event. According to the salon's website, the dry powder renews and revives hair giving "you a fuller and more voluminous hair." So one morning, instead of washing my Day 2 hair, I decided to test out the dry shampoo. I did not know what to expect from the product, except for the worse possible scenario of clumpy white powder on my scalp. Luckily, this was not the case! I sprayed the powder in my hand before applying it on my hair. It looked like an alcohol spray that quickly dryed on my palm. I hesitantly sprayed it a few times on my medium-length hair concentrating on the roots. However there was no significant change in the volume or look of my hair! I was hoping to see some sort of change in my hair's volume. That was a bit disappointing.

Since then, I've noticed commercials on tv for TRESemme's Fresh Start product line designed for refreshing hair between washes. There are four different products depending on your hair's texture: dry shampoo, no-frizz creme, refreshing mist and waterless foam shampoo. I was most interested in the dry shampoo to figure out how it compares to the Salon Ziba's dry shampoo. The biggest difference is the primary ingredient in the TRESemme product which is mineral clay to soak up excess oil and impurities. The dry shampoo also contains citrus extracts to neutralize odor as well. I am looking forward to testing out this product since it sounds like it can be more effective in curing the 'Day 2' hair blues.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Update: Kinder Surprise Egg Toys

I recently blogged about the wonderful combination of egg and toy called the Kinder Surprise Eggs. I was hoping to have consumed more eggs so that I could explore more of the cute plastic toys. But last night, I attended a wedding in which the Kinder Eggs were provided to the kids for entertainment. Of course, the kids were simply happy with breaking the eggs and playing with the toys. However before the kids swiped all the toys, I was able to take some pictures of them! Sorry, I had more pictures of other toys but they picture turned out dark.

Here they are - can plastic get any cuter??

Monday, April 12, 2010

Makup Review: Mario Badescu's Hydro-Moisturizer with Vitamin C

During my last facial at Mario Badescu located in the upper East side in Manhattan, I mentioned to my facialist that my skin always feels very dry after taking a shower. With one quick look at my face under the microscopic lens, she immediately agreed that my face was parched. Eeek! But I could not argue with her since I also felt tightness around my cheeks.

I have on my beauty arsenal several different types of moisturizers ranging in price range but none compares to the product that she used on my face. I loved the lightweight feel of the moisturizer as well as how smooth my skin feels after applying it on my skin. I immediately left that my skin was slowly caressed by silk. Seriously! I am in love with this product and this Vitamin C forumula also restores clarity to the skin and health to tired, dehydrated skin. Best of all, this moisturizer is perfect for those with sensitive skin. My only wish was that this moisturizer contained SPF but Mario Badescu offers other moisturizers with sunscreen protection. So for now, I will be perfectly content with using this moisturizer before bedtime or layered underneath sunscreen in the daytime.

And for those that are in need of additional moisturizing, the Herbal Hydrating Serum is also a wonderful product to use on top of any moisturizer. Formulated with ginkgo extract, ceramides and ginseng extracts, this serum is suitable for all skin types. I have requested samples of this product each time I visit the store and I love the serum. It is simply enough to use 2 to 3 drops of the serum in order to seal in the moisturizer. Talk about efficient use of a product. Yay!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Restaurant Review: Patsy's Pizzeria

Location: Greenwich Village at 67 University
(212) 533-3500

We were a large group of 7 that went to Patsy's on a Friday evening. We originally hoped to eat at Otto's Pizzeria owned by Mario Batali but there would be at least a 90 minute wait. So we were left to find an alternate restaurant that served pizza. Even without reservations at Patsy's, we still received a table within minutes. This was quite surprising considering how many patrons were in the restaurant already at 8:30pm. The number of tables were populated by mostly groups of 4 so we felt lucky to get a table that quickly. However, our luck stopped there.

Among us, there were mixed reviews with the food that we ordered. Since we were so hungry, we ordered 2 large pizzas (one white pizza with mozzarella and one tomato pizza with prosciutto and mushroom), 2 family sized pasta dishes (pappardelle alla toscana and spinach ravioli with pomodoro sauce) and a cesear salad. The food came fairly quickly starting with the cesear salad. The pasta dishes also came next and we were really full from just the pasta dishes. The spinach ravioli would have tasted better a creamy sauce instead of the tomato sauce. But the pappardelle dish was really delicious! I think it was a favorite at the table. Next came the pizzas....the white pizza was the preferred pizza among the two. It was a simple thin crust pizza with a chewy crust. The tomato pizza with prosciutto and mushroom was sadly disappointing. The sauce was overwhelming and soaked the entire pizza that it made it difficult to fold and eat. Personally I am disappointed when I am forced to eat a slice of pizza with a fork and knife. Also the prosciutto was not cured or tasted like pieces of deli ham that were thrown on top of the pizza pie.

Overall, the service was satisfactory and the food came to our table fairly quickly. However, there is only a small chance that we would come back to this restaurant since the food was only average (aka, nothing spectacular and definitely not worth taking pictures for!) So, next time we hang out as a group, I will make reservations at Otto's Pizzeria instead!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kinder Surprise Easter Eggs!

Happy Easter everyone! Tomorrow is the traditional Easter egg hunt, so I figured I would talk about another type of egg hunt. I recently came upon the Kinder Surprise which are are hollow egg chocolates made by Italy's Ferrero Group that contains a surprise toy. Neat-o!

The reason why I've never seen them before is because they are actually illegal in the United States. They were banned in 1997 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that the toys can pose a choking hazard for children under 3. The Food and Drug Administration also prohibited embedding 'non-nutritive' items inside candy. I think this means they think that kids would be confused with eating the toy. Despite the ban, there are still ways to purchase the Kinder Surprise eggs especially on the Internet. Or, you can simply travel across the Canadian border to purchase these eggs!

Here are all the eggs that we were able to purchase in the Canadian grocery store. They cost about $1 Canadian dollar each. We could have brought more eggs but unfortunately we wiped out the entire stock from the store. I guess only Americans are only interested in chocolate eggs.

The foil wrapping uncovered a chocolate egg shell that split open quite easily. It was a little messy to eat the chocolate since it melted really quickly in my hands. However it is interesting to note that it is milk chocolate on the outside and white chocolate on the inside. But onto the surprise which is hidden inside a yellow case. Here's another picture of the revealing process...

Finally, here is a picture of my toy!! First, I carefully pulled out the instructions since I read that keeping the instructions significantly increases the value of the toy. Most toy collectors are looking for all original parts. Next I pulled out 3 separate blue pieces consisting of a flying wheel, a base and a cord - apparently I can decorate the toy with stickers. I'm not sure what to call the toy but I can make the wheel fly into the air by placing it on the base and pulling the cord.

Not shown here is another chocolate egg that contained a collectible figurine. I am looking forward to slowly opening each egg to reveal the surprise toy!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cloisters Museum

The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is features art and architecture from medievel Europe. The museum is nested inside Fort Tryon park which has beautiful views of the Hudson river. For those interested in exploring different parts of NYC, I would definitely recommend a trip up to the Cloisters. It is quite far uptown (but easily accessible via M4 bus or A train).  In fact I hardly remember the last time I traveled up to 190th Street on the West Side. While we visited the museum during the warmer weekends in March, I am looking forward to visiting again in the spring when the trees and grass are green! Perfect for picnicing and avoiding the Central Park crowds!

Here is a view of the Cloisters as we were approaching up the hill. The heavy wooden doors and stone staircases fit into the medievel theme. Everything reminded me of a monastery until I saw the group of people sunbathing in various stages of dress on the lawn...

And here are some of my favorite parts of the museum with the beautiful arches:

My favorite room in the Cloisters is the unicorn room featuring wall to wall tapestries of magical unicorns. I think I could just sit in this room for a long time. My second favorite room is the Throne Room (no picture available) where it featured many expensive and exquisite jewels.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gift bag from prettycity night at Salon Ziba

As I posted last night about the prettycity event at Salon Ziba, the event was a great success for the salon and all attendees. My favorite party about attending beauty events is usually the gift bag that is usually full of sponsored products and other samples. And this time, it did not disappoint! And believe me, I know events that have given out less interesting and useful products. Here is a picture and a list of the products.

Starting from the left:

L'Oreal Professional Shampoo
Ziba Salon Dry Shampoo
L'Oreal Professional Absolut Repair
Revlon Lashes
Moroccan oil treatment
Mirabella Semi-Precious Marble Blush
Palmer's Coconut Oil Protein Pack
Cafe Bustelo Expresso Coffee

I am very excited to try out all the products especially the Salon Ziba's brand of dry shampoo. I think it would be very useful for those in-between wash days when I am super busy and/or tired to get up early to wash my hair. And I'm also looking forward to trying the Mirabella blush - it reminds me of the Prescriptive blush products. Lastly, the expresso coffee is a bit of an odd product to be included in the gift bag - but perhaps they think that women need to drink coffee to stay energized? I'll have to keep pondering that thought.

In the meantime, feel free to comment on any of these products. Which one should I try first??

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prettycity Event at Salon Ziba

I attended a pretty awesome prettycity beauty event last night at Salon Ziba! For those in the know, prettycity is a website that recommends products, services and places for all things beauty! And the event featured a joint collaboration with Salon Ziba in which guests can sign up to receive a night of pampering salon treatments!

I received the invitation for the event through a friend but it was actually advertised through a popular women's magazine. The 200 guest slots were filled up pretty quickly but luckily a few of my friends were able to sign up right away! I expected a lot of people to attend but I think the event coordinators were very good at controlling the size of the crowd. While I arrived 15 minutes after the event time started, there were only 20 guests in front of me.

As I entered the salon, I was impressed with the size of the salon and the organized sections for food, drinks and salon treatments. The sales and marketing employees were very welcoming and friendly. However the make-up artists looked bored and uninviting. But that was the only negative part of the evening. I found the other staff members quite cordial and open with sharing their professional advice on hair and nails.

The salon treatments were performed gratis by the professional staff members which included make-up application, dry hair styling and manicures. In addition, we were treated to Sweet Sunshine cupcakes and cookies, and apple/soju drinks (yum!).

Here are three different styles of hairstyles that were done on my friends:

The first is a fairly extensive up-do that can be worn to weddings and other fancy events! I was fairly impressed with the amount of time spent by the hairdresser on her hair.

Here are some large beautiful curls that were done with a straightening iron!

And lastly, here are some small gentle waves created with a large barrel curling iron.

Stay tuned for pictures of the products in the swag bag!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Orchid Show

The weather is now a bit warmer in NYC but the flowers and trees have still yet to bloom. However why wait to enjoy the beautiful blossoms of the spring when you can enjoy it now at the New York Botanical Garden? Earlier this month, I went to the Bronx to visit the NYBG's newest exhibit: The Orchid Show - Cuba in Flowers.

While the rest of the garden was cold and dreary, the main event was clearly inside the greenhouse. We walked in and was immediately greeted by the sweet floral scent of orchids. The air was warm and the crowds of people made the room even hotter. But this was clearly not a problem for the visitors, since we were all entranced by all the different colored orchids.

Take out your cameras, people! Sadly, I only have a point-n-shoot camera but there were many professional cameras and lenses that day.

I don't know the names of all the flowers, but the last picture is my favorite flower. The yellow and burgundy red contrast is amazing. And the shape of the flower makes it look like a sundress! Can you just image a woman rocking it out in this outfit? From afar, it looks like dancing ladies!!

Here are some tips for those that wish to go to the NYBG: Bring your own food/snacks! There is a cafe open but we did not go inside to purchase anything. Instead, many visitors brought their own food and sat in the open chairs and tables. I can imagine it is a lovely place for a picnic! And make sure you purchase a ticket that will get you to ride the tram! It is a 20 minute tour ride of the entire garden. You can hop on and off the tram or simply sit through the entire ride to enjoy the scenery.

There are many new exhibitis and upcoming sections to the garden that will open later this year and in 2011. I look forward to going back in the spring time!
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