Tuesday, August 19, 2014

6.234 Back Home, Vacation From Vacation.

I'm back home after a week long trip to Montreal (I came back yesterday evening). Initially I thought that as my trip neared to its end, I would miss Montreal more and would not want to leave. The reality though was that I couldn't wait to go back home when the end finally came. Going on vacation to cities takes a lot of work planning the trip itself. I realized that it's not really a vacation when you go to the city (where shopping is the name of the game), but rather it's more about traveling. This makes me rethink Paris as my honeymoon destination because if I wanted a real vacation, I should go to sunny tropical destinations like Cuba or Hawaii or Bali or the Carribeans etc where I can just relax and do absolutely nothing. Before when I thought about traveling, I would think about how I would rather go to places like Europe where I can explore and learn about the place. But now I get it. If I want an actual vacation, go to a tropical island.

I wanted to go to Montreal as my first official trip to see first hand what it takes to travel. Because Montreal is within Canada, it's not too close yet not too far from Toronto, but still different enough to feel like you're in another country. I learned a great deal from this trip and I'm going to keep it in mind for any future trips.

1. Give more time to plan.
Although I gave myself a couple months to read a book guide, I didn't give myself enough time to actually take that information and make a solid itinerary. This was problematic because I had to quickly throw an itinerary together while on the trip (mostly in the evenings or early mornings) and this stressed me out (which is completely opposite to what you're supposed to be doing on a vacation, relaxing).

2. Do your research, don't make impulsive decisions.
This is an extension to the point above. There was one restaurant that we impulsively went to that I didn't do any research on. Had I done the research beforehand we would have never gone there since we were totally unprepared to be eating at a fine dining establishment.

3. Plan more but plan less.
Some days we weren't as efficient with our time, and as a result, couldn't make the most out of the day. There were a lot of sights and activities that I wanted to fit into our trip but we couldn't do a lot of it because our time was limited. If I had made an itinerary, there might have been a chance to do more, but also keep in mind that it's not always possible to do everything you want.

4. Keep it flexible, weather.
Everyday, except the day we arrived and the day we left, was rainy and gloomy. It was sure bad luck on our side. Weather is something we can't control so we should always keep in mind that some activities we had planned may not happen. It's always good to have a Plan B in those cases. Also, remember to pack some warm clothing especially when the trip is near the end of summer... I brought one cardigan and 90% of the time it was chilly while I was there.

5. Maps.
Thank goodness for the Montreal paper map we happened to stumble upon while walking around in the mall. Google Maps and the GPS also helped. The GPS on my phone was a bit wonky but Google Maps helped a lot. I loved how I could star all the places we wanted to visit on my Macbook and then see it on my Google map on my phone. Best application ever.

6. Navigation.
I learned on this trip just how bad I am with navigation and direction. I knew I was bad, but I didn't realize I was that bad.

7. Budget.
I think our biggest problem was budgeting. The problem was that we never set a budget... for anything. I was so busy planning everyday that I completely forgot about budgeting for the trip. This is why it's better to plan prior to the trip because at least then we would have an idea about how much money we needed and were going to spend.

8. Everything adds up.
This is an extension to the point above. Everything is more expensive than you might think. A quick stop to the local coffee shop put us back $20 for two people. That's just a coffee and a baked item. Also, depending on how many days you stay, it can quickly add up. If we ever go on a week long trip again, I'm definitely going to bring my own coffee.

So now I still have this week off to actually relax. It's why they say it's a vacation from my vacation. Seriously. It was fun but dang it was also tiring. I'm super glad to be back home. And, I can't wait to go to CNE this Saturday :D

And before I end the post, I will share the travel videos I watched to help me pack for my trip. They were all super helpful!

Best packing tips for carry-on suitcase video I've found ever.

Great tips and introduction to packing cubes and other travel accessories that can be useful for packing checked baggage.

Xteeener explained the 3-1-1 rule for airplane travel really well. I never fully understood it but after watching this video I do now. She also gives really great tips as well.

Great tips for short trips, plus I learned where to get a really great toiletry bag from her!

"Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving." -Warren Buffet

6.233 Maybelline Color Tattoo Leather Collection, My First MAC Lipsticks

While I was at Walmart shopping for travel items, I came upon the Maybelline Color Tattoos from the Leather Collection. There was only Creamy Beige and Chocolate Suede left but I was super thrilled anyway since I've been trying to find these forever! Then on another trip to the same Walmart, I found the rest :D Imagine my excitement.

From left to right: "Creamy Beige" #80, "Chocolate Suede" #95, "Deep Forest" #85, "Vintage Plum" #90, "Dramatic Black" #100. I haven't had time to play with these because I went on my trip shortly after getting them. But from the swatches they seem pretty promising. And if they're anything like the ones in the permanent lines then I'm down. I can already tell I'm going to take a liking to "Creamy Beige". I'm glad they came out with more matte ones, this collection is really meant for me as I'm not into glitter/metallic shades or bright colours. I guess luck was on my side to have had the chance to get my hands on these.

And since I'm such a lippie person... it was finally time to get my first MAC lipstick.

I wanted to get a really nice bold lip colour, something great for summer. I watched a few videos on people's favourite MAC lipsticks and the one that caught my eye was called "All Fired Up". It's a retro matte so it feels drying on the lips which is why I like applying lip balm first before applying it. I'm not really into the super matte look so applying lip balm underneath is fine for me. It's a beautiful vibrant fuchsia colour that leans more red than pink (and sometimes looks red all together but in the light you can see the pink coming through).

Then after really loving "All Fired Up" I did my research and ended up getting 3 more :X From left to right: "Relentlessly Red", "Ravishing", and "Impassioned". For MAC, I want to stick to bold colours since MAC does wonderful pigmented shades of everything and since I already have so many other lipsticks for a natural lip. The reason I got "Ravishing" though is because the Mister liked the colour on me so much. I just wanted to try it because someone on youtube recommended it (I forget who).

From left to right: "All Fired Up", "Relentlessly Red", "Ravishing", and "Impassioned". Beautifully pigmented. I have no idea what took me so long to get a MAC lipstick.

"When it’s hard to make up your mind, don’t look too far ahead, just think about tomorrow. Think about what you want to do tomorrow, and that will give you a different answer." -Kim Won (Heirs)

6.232 Getting Ready For Travel

I never got time on the train to write up this post, plus it didn't help that the internet connection sucked. So, I'll just try wrapping up this post now but keep in mind that I still have one more post to wrap up too before I blog about my trip to Montreal.

Before the Montreal trip the Mister and I visited the mall a couple times to get things that we needed for the trip. One time as we were waiting for the bus, we spotted the new TTC streetcar being tested for performance on the tracks. Doesn't it look like a subway out from underground?

Although not trip related, I spotted some furniture pieces of interest. I want a small cabinet to replace my small round table that was left behind by my grandmother when she left. It has always been my temporary "bar" but I want something with a door so that it looks more neat and I don't have to dust as much. This one at Target looked nice but I saw the metal parts were rusting a little. The wine rack was also really neat. It's nice because you can store the wine above and store glasses on the bottom.

Went to the travel section and bought a couple things for the trip.

I watched Anneorshine's Summer Packing Video and saw that she had this awesome travel bag for toiletries that she found at Target. I wanted the same one but I couldn't find it, but I did find an even better one more suited to my needs!

This thing was awesome to have. It can hold so many things. It has two flat zipper compartments, another sleeve compartment, a compartment for your brushes, and a bigger zipper compartment. Plus it closes magnetically and has a hook so you can hang it on the bathroom door in the hotel. It was about $20 and it was well worth the money. There were also another smaller size available but obviously made differently.

Then we went to Walmart and visited the travel section here and got a few items. The important item was the toothbrushes. We got a two pack for $2. Much better than buying no brand name from Colgate $2 for one.

And of course I always browse the $5 dvds to see if any of my favourite movies are there. Turns out there were, 4 of them! Do any of you guys remember Pagemaster?

Got thirsty so the Mister got me to try Tim Horton's new Oreo Iced Capp. It was pretty good but I still love my Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frapp.

Then we headed to H&M and I found a couple necklaces (bought the silver one on a separate visit). I bought two of the letter necklace so I could spell my name and other things if I needed more than one of a letter.

Then I went to Lush because I totally got obsessed after watching several videos including Claire's. Because we were going to stay in a hotel I wanted to take advantage of having my own tub and space to soak and relax myself in a bath.

Sex Bomb (really popular) smells so good and floral. Dragon's Egg smells pleasant and citrus-y. Both of these are my favourites.

Amandopondo is smells of roses. Brightside is very citrus and is amazing at creating bubbles.

Then after watching a few videos of people making Lush cocktails, I went back to the mall another day and got a couple bath melts, another bath bomb, and another bubble bar.

You've Been Mangoed and MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment. I realize it's not necessary to buy bath melts, I feel like you can do without them. I personally think it's just money down the drain.

Rose Queen smells of wonderful roses but surprisingly it's not my favourite. The Comforter smells more like soap and it's less powerful smelling so I thought it would be better to mix with the light rose scented melts and bombs.

It doesn't look like I bought too much but it all adds up. I saved some money though by cutting the bath melts and bubble bars in half. The baths were nice and very fragrant. It would have been better in a nicer tub but it was better than nothing.

Than we went to a favourite of ours, Panera Bread. I got the Chicken Tortellini Alfredo, the Mister got the Chicken Sorrentina Pasta, and the Broccoli Cheddar Soup to share. For drinks I got the Frozen Lemonade and the Mister got the Frozen Caramel. For dessert I got the Cobblestone and the Mister got the Chocolate Pastry. Everything tasted good. Panera Bread has not disappointed us so far.

And the day before our trip, Sunday 10th, we dropped by Shoppers Drug Mart in the evening and grabbed a couple ice creams just like we said we would do in the summer. I got the puck and the Mister got the cone. Yum.

"Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are." -Unknown

Thursday, August 7, 2014

6.231 Mandarin + Ikea Storage Ideas

A few weeks ago my mom took our family out to Mandarin because it was my younger sister's birthday. I haven't been to Mandarin since... since... I'd probably estimate about 8-10 years now. When we got to the place it was packed and we had to wait 45 minutes even though it wasn't a holiday weekend or anything.

I liked how they gave us warm towels to wipe our hands before dinner and afterwards when we were done.

These were the main dishes I had. Honestly the Mandarin we went to didn't have much variety. The food was sub-par.

Then there was dessert. I liked the chocolate dipped strawberry and loved the creme brulee. Everything else was blah.

In fact, I loved the creme brulee so much that I went back and got three more!

The Mister also really loved it so he got four more! I'm telling you, it was amaze-balls.

The birthday surprise for the birthday girl.

And then at the end I got cotton candy... which I ended up hating. I normally love cotton candy but this was bubble gum flavour and that's just a no for me.

During another day, when we were both free, my sister and I went to Ikea together. We ran straight to the cafeteria to get us some yummy Swedish meatballs because we were starving.

Then we went to see the showcase rooms. I loved the firewood stacked in the fireplace in this room. This is great if the fireplace isn't real or if it's too old to be used anymore. Another great idea is to put a bunch of candles in there so that when you light it, it resembles a fireplace.

We loved the idea of having space behind the bed so that it's not typically against a wall. It's nice if you have a room big enough to do that.

I loved the shelving and seating in this little reading nook. Sometimes houses come with odd structures coming out of the ceiling or wall. The use of shelving is a great way to utilize the awkward space.

I actually really love this Varde wall shelf. I have a lot of knick knacks so this is a great place to showcase and store them. I also came across this Lack wall shelf that also looks like it'd be pretty good to store knick knacks.

Need I say more about this media and shelving unit? Perfection.

I love utilizing space. These floor to ceiling book shelves give so much storage space. Plus, I really love how the shelving unit wraps around the corner too so it looks more cohesive.

This would be a must in my dining room. It's nice to have a storage unit nearby that stores extra utensils, napkins, and other special dining ware. That way you won't have it take space in the kitchen and it'll be more easily accessible for those special occasions.

I love this kitchen. Especially the big industrial lights that hang over the kitchen island.

These are great examples on how to utilize space in half baths. Half baths give you little to no storage space, so having these are lifesavers! The black shelving unit was extra interesting because it had open shelving on the other side too (you can kind of see it).

After Ikea we found ourselves at Chapters.

I came upon these, a musical pinecone and acorn (if you know about me and the Mister you'd know what these represent).

The one thing I bought was this awesome mason jar tumblr! It's perfect because it's tall but not too wide. I really love how I can drink it with a straw coming out of the lid. It's perfect to keep dust and bugs out! It's also great to make smoothies or other drinks that need measuring because there's measurement markings on the side. I love to drink root beer and iced coffee in it.

p.s. the next blog post I'll be writing up might be when I'm on the train headed to Montreal!! But if I can, I'll try to post before then =)

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job you need to pay for the clothes, car and the house you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it." -Ellen Goodman