Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 Wrap Up

It honestly pains me to write this post simply because the month has passed by so quickly. January has truly been a very restful month because of winter break and the lack of hours at my part time job as retail is slow during January and February. Unfortunately the start of February means I'm back to the daily grind of being a full time student and all the rest of it. Enough complaining about the upcoming months and let's get on with the wrap up!

My first outside meal of the year was at Schiller's Liquor Bar located in the Lower East Side. I opted for the homemade vegetarian pot pie which was very welcome due to the bitter cold weather that evening. The pastry was light, flaky and all kinds of perfect. The vegetable innards were not my favorite as it was a bit bland and nothing worth trying twice. But the service was tremendously slow and by the time the food arrived I was so hungry I gobbled it all up without a second thought. The atmosphere of Schiller's is a little retro and very diner-esque. If you ever go, definitely pay a visit to the restroom because I was definitely surprised when I opened the door to what I thought was the ladies room. My friends thought it wasn't too special but there is a communal sink for both ladies and gents instead of separate washing areas for each restroom.

The following afternoon I had brunch with my closest high school girl friends at Cafe Orlin, a much raved about brunch destination in St. Marks. I decided to try something out of my usual comfort zone and went with the Middle Eastern Breakfast which they describe on the menu as "two eggs any style with organic Labana cheese, topped with zaatar, served with Israeli salad and pita". All of the eggs they use are organic but they all taste the same to me so the eggs were just any old sunny side up eggs. The salad was tangy and refreshing and paired well with the muted flavor of the cheese. I loved the pita dipped into the cheese but I could probably eat the pita plain and be happy. I love my carbs. The cafe was comfortably full as there were many other customers but the noise level was just right. Our party of four was seated promptly and the service was fast. Overall this is a quaint and dainty place to have brunch for a special occasion.

As a child I was never really fond of animals unlike all the other kids who all fantasized of being veterinarians. But in the last few years I have definitely grown to enjoy the company of the other creatures who inhabit the earth along with us. My boyfriend lives quite close to the only farm in New York City area so we make it a point to visit at least once a season. Several class field trips from elementary to middle school were to this same farm and it never seems to change much. Nonetheless, it never loses its charm.

One of the goats seemed to take a liking to my boyfriend. All of the other goats ignored us but this light brown goat definitely likes people because he immediately approached us as we walked toward his side of the fence.

Some of the chickens and geese seemed to be sharing a pen but they didn't seem to be great pen mates. This particular pen held two pigs last spring but this time around we could not find the pigs anywhere. Perhaps it's too cold for them and they live inside a barn somewhere....

This sign was unusually funny for some odd reason and I was excited to see alpacas because they were not here last spring. I wonder how they rotate their animals on the farm because last spring there were ponies and this winter they did not have them.

At first the alpacas totally ignored us and went on grazing in the middle of their enclosure. We were about to give up and move on but I started making clicking sounds which I usually do when I see a squirrel. Amazingly it worked and the alpacas came right up to the fence and let us pet them! Now a lot of people think alpacas and llamas are the same thing but trusty old Google taught me that although the two are from the same family, they have distinctively different features. Llamas are larger and are used as pack animals whereas alpacas are groomed for their fibers. There are more differences but my point is not to teach you about llamas and alpacas so I'll stop with this ramble. Oh and yes I am bumming it with my ponytail, glasses, and makeup free face!

The cows mostly sitting and standing being just cows but it was amusing when a lone sheep wandered in and got the stare down. That just about sums up our time at the local farm which I never get sick of visiting! I did some research and found a place called Farm Sanctuary where they take in abused farm animals, nurse them back to health, and teach visitors about the cruelties of modern day factory farms. I desperately want to visit the farm but the nearest location is five hours away in upstate New York.... I somewhat convinced my family that we should go during the summer so perhaps it might happen! There are two other locations in California as well.

My boyfriend passed his driver's test last summer so now he (very) occasionally picks me up for dates. I don't know how to drive yet so all I have to do is sit in the passenger's side and look pretty :P

For the best quality, affordable Asian food in New York City, you definitely have to go to Flushing. I have been going to Flushing at least once a week for pretty much my entire life and although it gets boring, the food is always good. My boyfriend and I went to grab a quick bite at a Taiwanese family owned restaurant which unfortunately I do not know the name of. That's usually my problem when I go to eateries that I'm so familiar with that I don't actually know the name of the place.... It's on Prince street between Roosevelt and 39th avenue near Sentosa if anyone is interested. The left wall of the resturant is a mirror if that helps.... Anyway, pictured above is their salty soy milk which my boyfriend ordered. His mother loves it as well but I'm just not used to the taste. I much prefer regular sweetened soymilk without anything inside. 

My favorite dish from this place is their scallion pancake. Asian pancakes are salty and savory unlike Western breakfast pancakes which are typically sweet. I believe one order of these scallion pancakes is less than $5 (don't quote me on that though) and you get enough pieces for a family to share as an appetizer. The pancake is the right balance of crispy and chewy and the salty flavor is concentrated in little pockets so that in certain bites your taste buds can just surrender on the spot. So... good....

My boyfriend actually prefers omelets wrapped in scallion pancakes so he got a dish of those all to himself. They also make a pancake with oysters which is also quite yummy.

I also couldn't help but order a dish of rice cakes stir fried with some veggies, mushrooms, and chicken. I actually ordered the wrong kind of rice cakes as I wanted it only with this special kind of white cabbage and pork but this was good as well. You get a ton of food and Asian dishes are always best for sharing and eating family style.

Right after our very filling meal we ran to the movies theater because on Tuesdays they have movies for only $7 for the entire day. Usually the shows before noon are $8 and after it's around $11. The tickets definitely cost a lot more in Manhattan and I believe I've paid at least $15 to see a movie before.... Ridiculous. Anyway, I dragged my boyfriend to watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because I was obsessed with the books last summer. I had heard many good things about the American release so I was excited to see for myself how well it compares to the novel. The movie was decent but nothing worth raving about. I felt that David Fincher's other films like Fight Club and The Social Network were more enjoyable (although that might be because Brad Pitt and Andrew Garfield starred in those movies respectively...). Perhaps I already knew what was going to happen in the movie for once so nothing came as a surprise and I could not fully enjoy the story. I am still looking forward to the next two films as I found those books in the series to be even more entertaining and thrilling.

To finish off the evening we had a light dinner of noodle soups. I am usually a rice person but it's hard to eat rice when it's only two people because you can't order as many dishes to go with the rice. Noodles are convenient because it's an all in one meal although I only prefer a few types of noodles.

One of my very close friends is leaving in a few weeks to go study abroad in Seoul for four months so we made sure to meet up and have lunch together. Somehow we ended up choosing Korean food even though she will probably be eating similar things to this for the next few months. The restaurant, called Chom Chom, is located on 56th street between 5th and 6th avenue. We opted for the lunchbox sets and I chose the kalbi set which came with some fried chicken strips, salad, spicy cold noodles, and sushi. I wish it came with some rice as the kalbi was a bit too salty on its own. The meal was good but like I said before, the best affordable Asian food can be found in Flushing. This lunchbox costs about twice as much as it would cost in Flushing.

I seem to eat out quite a bit in these posts simply because I show what I take pictures of. In reality I eat at home a lot and I rarely buy lunch. Unfortunately I have poor cooking skills and I can only make the simplest of dishes so far.... My boyfriend and I made guacamole and used it to top off our tortillas with melted pepperjack cheese. Easy peasy and very yummy!

I finished two books this break (even though my goal was three) which were An Education (not pictured) and Atonement (excuse the tattered edges as this was a library rental). Both books were later made into films which I both saw awhile ago and enjoyed. An Education by Lynn Barber is a memoir and I was surprised that only the first third or so of the book made up the entire film starring Carey Mulligan. The middle portion of the novel somewhat dragged along although Ms. Barber's sense of humor and honesty permeates throughout her account. Atonement had an extremely long beginning portion but the last half was engaging and heartfelt. Ian McEwan's use of language is simply beautiful and the love story is understood yet controlled so that it is not cheapened by any means. Blatant romances aren't nearly as captivating as unrequited passion. I currently have three more books lined up to be read so hopefully I can manage them before school becomes unbearable and before the library demands their books back. If you haven't figured out already, I try to take full advantage of the public library because books these days are incredibly expensive and I have no room to put them.  

My parents and I went to watch The Lion King on Broadway on Chinese New Years Eve. My mother has been wanting to watch this show for years so we finally bought tickets and went to see what all the hype was about. I have been to a few Broadway musicals and several more off Broadway shows and they were mostly quite good. I can enjoy theater when I'm there but I rarely have a strong urge to see a show. The Lion King fell short of my expectations because for some reason I imagined the venue to be a lot larger. The acting, singing, and dancing was impressive but I thought something was missing.

This year Chinese New Year was in January (it can be in January or February) so that meant lots of food and red envelopes! Chinese New Year is always a festive time spent with old friends and family. It actually lasts for 15 days so it's going to end in February!

That about wraps it up for my month of January. Even though it went by too quickly, I felt like I got a decent amount done and it was very relaxing and enjoyable throughout. I hope February is a great month although I imagine it will be much more hectic than January....

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Top 5: Lipglosses

I am excited to introduce a new series to my blog and Youtube channel called "My Top 5" in which I pick a category and show you my favorite five products from that said category. Lipgloss was one of those things that took a bit of experimenting, trial and error to find formulas that I liked. I have sensitive lips that dry out very easily so glosses are usually very hit or miss for me. I have lip swatches for some of these glosses and I will link them to the name of the gloss for easy access.

Nars Dolce Vita Lipgloss - While I only have a sample of this gloss, a little goes a long way with this uber pigmented creamy formula. The color is a dusty rose which is perfect paired with a neutral makeup look. The formula is comfortable to wear and lasts for hours because it is thick. This never dries out my lips and does not sink into lip lines so I rarely have to look in the mirror to make sure my lips don't look chapped. This is a beautiful gloss but at $24 I have to control myself from splurging on more shades.

Too Faced Pillow Talk Glamour Gloss - This is the best feeling gloss I have to talk about because it leaves a minty, cool sensation that I love. The formula is very smooth and it makes your lips feel moist and refreshed. The shade is also beautiful and looks like a peachy nude on my lips. The shimmer is noticeable on the skin but I never have a problem with it looking garish on my lips. The brush tip applicator makes putting this on your puckers a breeze!

Mac Fashion Whim Cremesheen Glass - This is my one and only Mac lipgloss (which will probably change in the near future) and I love the formulation and color to bits. This gloss is creamy and light coverage but it provides just enough for that bare there nude lip. The cream formulation makes it comfortable to wear and it does not dry out your lips a single bit. There are micro shimmers in this gloss but I really can't tell once it's on my lips. I love this and I really want to try some other shades from this line (that's what I'll be saying for all of these favorites basically...).

Revlon Peony Colorburst Lipgloss - At first I wasn't wowed by this lipgloss because I wore it alone and it didn't look like much. But then I started using this to top off my lipstick and I was won. This is quite sheer so on it's own it won't look like anything but a bit of shine but it's ability to smooth out a lipstick is impressive. The shimmer can be gritty when you wear it alone but with a layer of lipstick underneath, the grittiness is definitely minimized. This is definitely one of my most reached for lipglosses simply because it looks good over any lipstick color!

Cargo Morocco Lipgloss - This is another favorite of mine for topping over lipsticks. While this looks a lot darker than Peony in the swatch above, it is actually very sheer once applied onto the lips. It imparts a beautiful shimmer which is dispersed in the lightweight, non-sticky formula. Unfortunately I cannot find this particular color online and it may be limited edition in the Summer 2011 Mediterranean Kit. If you can get your hands on this, I definitely recommend it! I'm curious to try out some of Cargo's other lipglosses to see if the formula is just as good.

Check out the video below to hear more of my thoughts on these glosses!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Julep's Demi: A Semi-Redeeming Polish?

This is a first for me: posting a NOTD days after applying the nail color with visible CHIPS. I. hate. chipped. nails. But I thought I would show you how Julep's Demi polish fared after three days of wear. My initial impression with my Julep Maven box was not so positive as the first polish I tried was streaky and it took forever to dry. I made an effort to brush on very thin coats of Demi this time around to see if the dry time would be improved. The extra effort helped a bit but it didn't do anything to prevent tip wear.

I must say the color is absolutely gorgeous but only for the first day. The deep red looks bright under direct light but a dark burgundy in poorer lighting conditions. I love colors like Demi for cold wintry days and it gives my hands a very posh look. Unfortunately chips are not posh. At least there was no streaking this time around and I am predicting that the cream finishes will probably be streak free. 

Is a Julep box worth the money? Yes and no. Yes if you use one of the introductory codes. I believe there is always a code for new members to get their first box for only $5. For $5 you can't go wrong and you can get some pretty interesting nail colors. But by no means are the boxes worth the normal price of $20. The concept is great. The colors look nice. But at the end of the day, the quality of the polishes fails to impress me. If you're curious to see for yourself, you can try Julep HERE and be sure to use one of those $5 offers that float around the internet! I believe the code WELCOMEMV5 should work but if not, many partnered bloggers and Youtubers have personalized deals as well. 

Have you tried Julep? If you have, do you like their products? If not, would you be interesting in trying them for yourself?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cute Blog Award

The awesome Pang tagged me for the Cute Blog Award so I want to thank her very much. She has a great blog full of high quality pictures, swatches, and reviews so definitely check out her site and show some support!

For this award you:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.

2. Answer the award questions.

3. Tell something about yourself you haven't told anyone on your blog yet.

4. Award as many blogs that you think are worthy of this award.

5. Make sure you let those you gave the award to know that you awarded them.

Award Questions:

1. What is your go to makeup product? 

If I had to pick just one makeup product it would be eyeliner, specifically my Physician's Formula Gel Liner in black. I would love to pick some kind of concealer or foundation because my skin is usually covered with acne scars and discoloration but I feel that eyeliner definitely gives me the illusion of bigger, more awake eyes. 

2. What was your favorite fashion trend of 2011? 

Trends seem to repeat or overlap every year with few changes so it's hard to pick a favorite. I have a lot of fashion trend favorites but some of the most wearable ones are military inspired pieces and pops of color.

3. What is your favorite dessert?

My favorite dessert would definitely be durian ice cream. Yes, that's right. The stinky fruit that most people can't stand to be in the same room with. I love durian and the ice cream is just the best way to end a dinner! Too bad it's so hard to find it and when I do, it usually costs an absurd amount of money for a scoop of the stuff.

4. Favorite color?

I never had a favorite color and as I get older I definitely have favorite colors for different things. I love taupe eyeshadows and liners, coral pink blushes, and neutral clothes. My first instinct is to say my favorite color is pink simply because my room is very pink.... I guess this one is undecided.

5. What is your middle name?

I don't have a middle name. That was an easy question!

6. What was the last song you listened to?

It Will Rain by Bruno Mars. My cousins and I were trying to sing it!

Something you don't know about me yet:

It's probably the most basic thing you could know about me but I just never mentioned it on my blog or in my videos. Only one or two people who have emailed me know my name! So... here goes... my name is... Kar Yi. Kar Yi is my entire first name. Yi is not a middle name and it's pronounced "car yee". Even though I was born and raised in America I never thought about changing my name. It has no meaning really and my parents simply romanized it from my Chinese name. If I had a "normal" name, I definitely would have used it sooner but for some reason I find it really intimidating to have my strange name online.... I have no idea why I feel that way. But now you know! Feel free to address me by my name if you take the time to read my blog and if you comment :) I definitely feel like I've made a few blogging friends since starting this journey and I think I feel comfortable enough to let people know my actual name.

Now I tag these lovely bloggers who are too talented and awesome to describe in words! Please feel free to spread the love and visit their blogs!

Lil Lady's Life
The Makeup Edition
He calls me "Mara"....
The Polka-dotted Jellyfish.
Fashionable Heart
starry eyed beauty *
Lavenderlilac Dream
P.S. It's Vida
little lucy & pirates
Makeup Never Sleeps

On an somewhat unrelated note, I just posted a quick cream blush application tutorial on my Youtube channel so check out the video HERE if you're interested!