{Foodie} Lunch Specials at Kingyo Izakaya

So by now you have probably figured that I love Japanese food. Both authentic and fusion. From formal sophisticated multi-course Kaiseki Ryori to Osaka street food like Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki.

It's really been a hell of a week (or two) and we decided to explore a bit downtown and try out some lunch specials at Kingyo Izakaya. Izakayas are Japan's version of pubs, they often have excellent dishes that are very unique and appetizing to go with the drinks. I was a bit surprised to find Kingyo in Toronto (in the old cabbagetown area) ... the last time we ate there was in Vancouver!

It's situated in a quite neighbourhood just off Parliament St. and there are some parking options alongside the roads or public paid lots. Enough blabbing, Onto the photos!
Unique store front after you get into the front door facing the street.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节!

Mini Mooncakes with red bean paste filling (back two) and dates and walnut filling (front). Yummm~
Mid-Autumn festival falls on August 15th of the lunar calendar and it is the second most-important festival in Chinese culture. The moon is the roundest and brightest today out of the whole year, and it symbolizes reunion and togetherness. This day is to be celebrated with family, eating a generous feast, followed by moon-viewing while having mooncakes and fruits. Today is the first time I am spending it with my future husband and sharing delicious moon cakes while looking at the beautiful round supermoon. 

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival everyone! 中秋节快乐!

[review] Innisfree White Tone Up Eye Serum

Hello hello! It's been almost a month since my last post and I apologize... I've been gone for more than 3 weeks, travelling to the Canadian West Coast as well as touring Alaska (trip posts to come ;). Today I will be reviewing the innisfree White Tone Up Eye Serum I've been using for the past month or so. If you have dry under-eye areas, fine lines, puffy eye bags or dark under-eye circles, keep reading to see if this serum is the right fit for you.

[Review] Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleansing Wipes in Pink Grapefruit

Cleansing wipes are your best friend when it comes to make-up removal while travelling because it alleviates the necessity to bring along liquidy make-up removing oil. It also spares some weight if you  carry small packs.

Today I'll be doing a quick review of:

Whistler Creekside Adventures

Having stayed at the Whistler Village last August and December, R. and I have both developed a great liking for the Whistler area. This time, we decided to explore Whistler Creekside, about 4 km south of the Whistler Village along the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

We stayed at Nita Lake Lodge set on breathtakingly serene lake and offers complimentary canoe/kayak/bike rentals. The lodge is across the street from the Creekside village, yet in close proximity to the Creekside gondolas (by foot) and Whistler village (by bike or car). There is underground parking available.

Front of the hotel

🌸 A Walk with Hydrangeas

After 5 and some hours of flight, I arrived in Vancouver yesterday for a family vacation. After dinner, I took a calming and refreshing walk around the neighbourhood, and saw many of my beloved hydrangea flowers in various shades. Too bad I only had my phone with me... but nonetheless the low-res pictures still turned out stunning. Enjoy :)

DIY Brush Holder

Summer is wonderful, because it gives me plenty of time to do what I love...one of them being DIY ;) I procrastinated on making this brush holder for the longest time but here it is, using accessible materials and a little experimentation. Making it took about 10 minutes... although photographing and editing took about an hour XD Read on for pics and tips if you are looking to make one too ;)

[review] Innisfree Green Persimmon Pore Essence

When skincare restocking season came (it comes twice a year for me... major bloodshed this year though as I couldn't suppress my curiosity T^T), I frantically watch and read through hundreds of youtube videos and blog posts in search of worthy Asian skincare products to buy. One of the new brands I decided to try is Innisfree (another Amorepacific brand, holy smokes), born from Jeju island and is promoted as eco-friendly, green and uses natural ingredients. Some of their products claim to have the 7-free systemno paraben, no artificial coloring, no artificial fragrance, no mineral oil, no ethanol, no animal materials,no benzophenone (which is quite amusing, I must admit O_O)

The two innisfree items I bought from w2beauty.
Do you like these shots from mom's backyard? I thought a natural setting really suits these two ;)

2013-2014 Cleansing & Skincare Routine

If you know me personally, I always talk in cycles of school years, since I have been stuck in the cycle for as long as I can remember. I will start my 2013-2014 Staples series today with the Skincare Edition ;)

Aha! With the exception my Clarisonic Mia, everything thing else is in some shades of blue and white. I guess packaging in this color scheme sell a sense of cleanliness and purity to the customers. Read on for my brief description of my cleansing and skincare routine.

[review + haul] AmorePacific Ebay Store

When shopping around online, one can easily get frustrated and overwhelmed by the numbers of sellers, their reputation, product authenticity, price, shipping and delivery. I have always been a big online shopper since my early undergrad years, buying craft elements, stickers, skincare and beauty products online, mostly on Ebay. I love the idea of browsing through websites, comparing prices, reading comments and reviews, and getting goodies in the mail :) 

Today I'll be reviewing an Ebay store and share my recent purchase as a returning customer. My personal thoughts will be in green italics.

AMOREPACIFIC Corporation (short-form 'AP) Cosmetic Brands:

Global Ebay Store - more products and monthly promotions on homepage

{foodie} indulge away at Scaramouche

*I'm no food critic -- just someone who loves to try delicious food :) *

Recommended by a darling colleague, I reserved a dining room sitting at Scaramouche Restaurant yesterday for R's birthday dinner. It is nested within a peaceful (but unexpected) residential area in Mid-town Toronto right off Avenue Road, slightly north of Dupont. Their menu always changes depending on the produce that is in season as well as the 'catch-of-the-day'. Their weekly menu can be found on their website. The executive chef is Keith Froggett.

Although I had checked the location beforehand, I was surprised that the restaurant was tucked inside of what looked like an apartment building, with a neat fountain in the front and a circular drive way. As soon as we arrived, a gentleman came out and offered us valet parking. The dining room's main entrance was off to the left corner of the apartment, and steps lead us down into the main dining area.

O Canada! <3

Some Canadian highlights in no particular order:

Maple syrup, ice wine, hockey, Rocky Mountains, squirrels, beavers, moose, Canada goose, CN Tower, Maritimes, West coast, Prairies, Ice, free primary and secondary compulsory education, free universal health care  multiculturalism.

Most importantly, the love and respect Canadians have for their fellow Canadians and visitors from around the world. 

Happy Canada Day!

[review] HERA Sun Mate Daily SPF35/PA+++

Hihi there! Believe it or not, I went on a fishing trip today with some family friends at Long Point Provincial Park. I did zero fishing, ate a lot at the pot-luck lunch, fell asleep in the warm afternoon breeze (sounds like a pig right?) and enjoyed a day away from screens :). I spent most of the day paying attention to the sound of orioles chirping (not sure which species), fields of grass swaying in the wind with white cottony-looking seeds that fell from the surrounding trees, felt the gentle touch of wind and smelled the freshness in the air. Developing awareness of one's surroundings is therapeutic, promotes inner peace and mental health (excuse my counselling rant).

But what kept my face nicely protected from the UV rays during my unexpected nap? The answer is -- HERA Sun Mate Daily!

I LOVE the packaging!
Thick and sturdy (both of them^)

{foodie} Okonomiyaki, Ramen and Kiyozumi

Last weekend was more than perfect! I went out with my bridesmaids to try on some wedding gowns at a sample sale. The gowns were really pretty, and I was able to set my mind on the A-line, sheath or fit-and-flare silhouette. The girls had hearty talks over okonomiyaki and bubble tea. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish of special flour mixed with cabbage, egg and your meat of choice of a hot plate. You then apply a thin layer of okonomiyaki sauce on top with Japanese mayo to add flavour. It is seen as a informal dish (for casual outings or snacks) in Japan and first originated from Osaka (my absolute FAAAAV Japanese city) after WWII. There's a wide variety of mixing, toppings and varieties nowadays if you visit a restaurant specializing in okonomiyaki.

For dinner on Saturday, R and I visited Santouka Ramen and had delicious Karamiso Ramen (spicy miso based ramen noddles) and Tsukemen (cold noodle). I forgot to ask for less salt with the ramen soup XD but it was delicious nonetheless :), perfect for a summer night out!

Last night, on our way back from an errand uptown, we scouted out a Japanese restaurant ran by some Koreans called Kiyozumi.

[review] Hera Magic Starter

I received a sample of Hera Magic Starter, a foundation primer with my last Korean Beauty Products Purchase. Hera is one of the star lines under Amore Pacific Corporation (Korea) and is on the pricier end of the Korean makeup market.

Brand: HERA
Product: Magic Starter (50 mL)
Color Choices (description of color difference translated from HERE) 
No.1 First Radiance - brightens up skin and adds the effect of suppleness; recommended for fairer skin tones.
No.2 Inner Glow - brightens up dull skin and improves yellow-ish cast on tired skin.
No.3 Blooming Moisture - provides moisture boost, balances redness on the skin and reveals natural skin tone.

[review] Laneige Water Drop Tint

Previously, I mentioned that items purchased from the last Korea beauty products haul have to go through two weeks of trial. However, after using the Laneige Water Drop Tints continuously for one week, I believe my opinions are pretty firmly grounded. So let's share!

Gorgeous lip tints from Laneige

[haul] W2Beauty Online Purchase - Korean Beauty Products!

I have been anticipating the arrival of this box for the past week and half... and it's finally here! I was MEGA excited to open it up and find all the goodies inside I had purchased online at w2beauty on May 29th. It's getting close to bedtime here so let's get to the pictures!

The box arrived safely with all products in mint condition due to the thoughtful bubble-wrapping and strategic placing. Below is a shot of what I bought:

Laneige tints, Innisfree essences, and Hera makeup
Here is a product list (from left to right in the picture above):
✤ Laneige Water Drop Tint in Neon Pink and Peach Coral
✤ Innisfree White Tone Up Eye Serum
✤ Hera Sun Mate Daily SPF35 PA+++
✤ Innisfree Green Persimmon Pore Essence
✤ Hera UV Mist Cushion with SPF 50+/ PA+++ in C21 Cool Vanilla Cover

{foodie} Hmm...What shall we have for dinner?

Shame on me, I haven't cooked for almost an entire week (with the exception of Tuesday, remake of left-overs from restaurant take-out). M.R. went to Don Don Izakaya today and ordered a few mouth-watering dishes, from our old favourites - chicken karage to the new spicy grilled squid. Between the seafood stir fried noodle and pork kimchi fried udon, I would say the latter is the winner because the seafood noodle is just too salty. Add a pinch of sugar will ya? Nonetheless, fried chicken with spicy mayo and a Kirin beer on the side really hits the spot on a warm day!

AQ - finished; Wedding Planning -- start!

Although not extremely laborious in course load, the ESL Part 2 AQ is finally coming to an end. I must say that with some good effort put into readings and creating activities, I learned quite a bit through reflecting on my practices and actually was able to implement several activities for my lovely students to try -- and most were successful!

With the summer drawing near (I think it's here because it's been close to 30C lately), I am so in the mood of working out parts of this upcoming marriage (lol) and weddation = wedding + vacation.

Let's document some of the events so far...

1. Bridesmaids have to look pretty and contrast the serene blue ocean and sky. Therefore, BCBG's Willa Lace dresses made the mark. Although not flowy as I had originally envisioned (well I really never envisioned anything until now), the detailed lace around the bust area and the layers are all very flattering on the girls. It's a flipping $300 after tax each on my bill though (except, L... thank you for absorbing part of my bleeding wallet <3)The picture didn't come out well on the phone... so close-up only.

BCBG Willa Lace Dress in Poppy Red
2. After months of resort-scouting (online) and a month or so of inquiries with Flight Center (Heartland), MR. finally decided on having our symbolic wedding at the gorgeous Paradisus Palma Real in D.R. by the beach ... at sunset! It's amazing how much you can get done when everyone jumps on the bandwagon -- very professional travel agent (Lauren) and efficient significant other ;) There is much paperwork but most are forms for reservations, next steps and I think the resort does a good job in keep event planning in an orderly processing line -- organized in communication and has prepared documents they send you to refer to every step of the way. The response is also prompt, within 24 hours!

3. We were looking at taking pre-wedding photo shoots (it's an Asian thing, haha) in Taiwan and really like the style and quality of Taipei Royal Wedding Photography. Looks like we are taking a trip to the East for the winter holidays! And hopefully, catch some milder weather and visit Japan too.

So that's it for now. We will be trying some bridal gowns in the upcoming weekends. And school will be out in another week and half. SWEEET!

A Cool but Springy Weekend

After weeks of looking forward to the Victoria Day long weekend, it was finally here. Although the temperature was not optimal for outings, we still chose to spend our Saturday at Centre Island. Surprisingly, when we got to the island, it didn't feel so cold because of the trees. We took a nice walk to the southern end of the island, where bike rental was. With under 30 dollars, we rented a quadricycle for around one and half hours. The breeze felt nice on our faces under the sun and the colourful wild flowers by the roadside perked up the mood. We rode all the way around the island and passed by the fire station, numerous unique cottages, gardens and viewpoints looking to the city. Even though it was cold from time to time, the trip to Centre Island was a wonderful experience. I look forward to going there again in the summer!

My Unproductive March Break

March Break was two weeks long, and I had prepared an insanely long "To-Do" list one week prior to it. I was confident that, as self-disciplined as I was feeling on that particular day, that I would be able to get through every thing. Well, as predicted by my fellow colleague, I barely got through all of the marking and some of planning, in a last-minute-effort sort of fashion.

Mimi the anti-productivity darling

During the beginning days of the first week, I treated myself by shopping, surfing the net for as long as I want and napping sporadically. That only lead to a loss of sleep at night and momentum to execute items on my "To-Do" list. Fast approaching the end of week 1, I realized that the box of Biology IA portfolios were beginning to collect dust, thus in a highly unwilling attempt, began to mark. Look at Mimi, making a new floor mat out of the neatly, alphabetically arranged student folders. Slowly and painfully, I was able to get through all of them by the end of week 1.

Week 2 had a worse start as I had accumulated so much change in my biorhythm that falling asleep was beginning to get difficult. Toward the end of the week, my head had gone totally out of wack due to the irregularity in daily routine. However, I still managed to get SOME of the items done and rid of myself of some guilt.

The highlight of the week had to be trying out bridesmaid dresses with the girls at BCBG outlet store. I fell in love with a lavender piece right away, but had to turn it down due to the thickness of the material and the tulip bottom (we wanted a flare-out cut!)
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