Saturday, February 28, 2015

7.268 Rover Mission

Happy weekend! I'm currently working through my Montreal photos from my vacation last year. Although it's super late, I'm kind of glad that I left it until now. I feel like I'm taking a stroll down memory lane, plus it would've been impossible to sift through the hundreds of photos I took right after my vacation since my work was super busy. However, now that I'm mostly cooped up inside and my work as slowed down to a turtle crawl, I'm free to work on these 7 posts- yes, you read that right, seven. Putting together posts takes a lot of time and having 7 of them to think about is daunting (which explains why I've been putting them off). These days, however, the Mister and I haven't had many eventful outings or have done anything interesting, so, it's the perfect time to work on them. Unfortunately the posts will not be back-to-back but they will be posted in order according to my day-by-day itinerary. So, you can now keep an eye out for them!

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I love Zara jeans. I used to only own one for the longest time, but for some reason I never thought to look at their jeans again. I now currently own a total of five. I picked up these three from the sale they had a couple months back. Zara seriously makes some great jeans. They're form fitting, flattering, and they have a lot of great styles to choose from.

Last weekend the Mister and I went out into the snow to go see the Canadian International Autoshow.
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The Autoshow was located at the Metro Convention Centre which is connected to Union Station (shown above) via the Skywalk.

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We got a little sidetracked and ventured into Brookfield Place, which is an office complex. This was our first time here and I was in complete awe of the architecture. Can you imagine working here? We didn't end up exploring much though because we had to go to the show. We plan to visit again some other time.

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A glimpse of outside and what we had to trek through.

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I'm not going to bore you guys with too many photos of cars, and to be honest I'm not into cars as I used to be either. The venue was super packed.

Mercedes cars are one of my favourites. I love the headlights on their cars.

I have a fascination with headlights; that's why I love the lights on Mercedes and Audi cars. Above are headlights from two Acura cars.

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My favourite part of the day was when we were looking at the Land Rovers. The Range Rover Evoque used to be my favourite, and it seemed like it was everyone else's too evident by how many people were surrounding it, but that all changed once I sat in the Range Rover Sport.

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This was the most luxurious car I've ever sat in. You can't really tell from the picture, but the middle section was raised higher than your average car which made it feel like you were sitting in first class on an airplane. The seats were incredibly comfortable and everything felt so extravagant. When I sat in it, it was like a eureka moment- a "this is it" feeling you should get when you're looking to buy a car. I could imagine all of the endless possibilities: road trips, camping, weekend outings, long drives, national parks, the beach... This is basically the kind of car I want in my life one day.

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Then there was this small exhibit with antique, pre-war and classic cars. Can you imagine getting around in this thing? To turn you'd have to wind the thing!

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Then on the Sunday we made Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Yum. On the left is Che Dau, a vietnamese dessert kind of like sticky rice pudding.

p.s. I finally finished watching The Gilmore Girls! The ending was good enough but I would have liked to see more closure. It's not the writers' faults though because the show was canceled but I'm glad it didn't end on a worser note.

p.p.s. I just came back from a day out with the Mister. We visited Target and I was really disappointed with their sale. Even though it was 25%-40%, most things were still really expensive. This time around, it was very evident why Target failed so badly in Canada... the prices are really steep, and still steep even after the 25%! I was tempted to by some bedding for 25% off but when I grabbed the one I liked and checked the price, it was still $45 (orig. price was $60). When I walked around it was also very evident that they had a sh*t ton of home decor. There were shelves among shelves of home stuff- pillows, throws, vases, flower arrangements... just everywhere, seeping into other departments and taking the space of previously empty shelves. Usually home decor excites me... but seeing all of the overflowing stockpile they had just made me sad. No one was biting, and to be honest, I don't blame them.

"The chance for greatness, progress and change dies the moment we try to be like someone else." -Faith Jegede 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

7.267 Farewell Target, This is Not the End.

When news broke out that Target was going to leave Canada, I was deeply saddened but yet not at all surprised. Target did a great job with their home section, clothing, and accessories departments... but that was the extent of it. Whenever I thought of Target, the only thing that came to my mind was the home. I loved their decor, their furniture, and their storage and organization department. I wish Target didn't leave because I would have loved to shop there when I get my own home one day.

Target Canada didn't put enough effort in their other departments such as their health and beauty department. Not once did I see as many people in there as I do at Walmart. Walmart has aisles dedicated to this section to cater to the masses. They have one aisle for shampoos and conditioners alone, a whole wall dedicated to feminine hygiene products, and not to mention a much bigger and more inviting open area for makeup, skincare, and nail polish. Whenever I need essentials, the first place that comes to mind is Walmart. Why? Because they have low and competitive pricing, a good coupon policy in place, and they have everything I need all in one place. When there's no grocery store around and I want to buy food, where do I go? Walmart. When I run out of toothpaste, where do I go? Walmart. It's Christmas and I need to buy toys: Walmart. It's Halloween, I need candy: Walmart. Detergent, deodorant, bandaids, vitamins, tissues, ice cream, pet supplies, a plant for goodness sakes... I can go on and on, but do I really need to say more?

Target's prices were high and they didn't have good advertisement or appealing flyers. Even though I liked Target, not once was I tempted to look at the flyer that came in the mail because I knew it would be the same old stuff. Their store fronts never changed either, they looked exactly the same every day of the year. And even when they had holiday stuff, they would place it in the back of the store. Honestly, that's just asking for it to all be in clearance.

It's disappointing because Target had wonderful and helpful employees (unlike Walmart), an amazing home decor and furniture department (unlike Walmart), an awesome storage and organization section, and by far a much better clothing/shoes/jewelry department than Walmart. But a department store can't survive by only depending on a couple departments to pull the bulk of the weight.

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Before the liquidation sales began, I figured that I'd have to be lucky to get some of the things I wanted before they ran out of stock... so, I shopped beforehand. I don't mind paying full price if it's things that I may never get my hands on again. Their dairy section was completely empty and the NYX section was a bit empty even before the sale began.

First thing was first: Sonia Kashuk. The brand is exclusive to Target, so you bet I sped myself to that section to grab backups of my favourite brushes and a couple eyeshadow brushes that I don't yet own. She makes incredibly soft and well made brushes at unbeatable prices (about half of what you would pay at Sephora or MAC for similar brushes). I don't love all of her brushes but the ones I do love are the face brushes made for use with powder. You can see my full review post on her face brushes here. I also picked up a few brushes from her Core Tools line which was less expensive but still looked promising.

Then I spotted E.l.f. and quickly grabbed some brushes since the section already looked really picked over. The brushes were $4 each and is much cheaper for me, a Canadian, to buy them at Target since shipping on their site is a flat rate of $15. These E.l.f. brushes feel super soft and are a steal. I got a backup of the blush brush because I love using it for highlight. Lastly, I got a couple brushes from Target's brand Up&Up. The bristles on these feel super silky and don't feel very promising to work with, but I wanted to see if they would work with foundation, plus I figured if that wasn't a go, that they would work great to apply clay masks or any face mask that requires spreading product on the skin.

Yes, I bought 15 brushes in one go. That's the most I've ever bought at one time... but, they were a lot cheaper than if I were to go buy a couple brushes at Sephora, MAC, or any department store. They're great value for the money and I use my brushes frequently- also changing them out a lot to be washed.

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I had been eyeing this artificial flower arrangement for some time, and since there only two left on the shelf, I grabbed the best one out of the two before they were both snatched up. I have a similar one already but that one is more winter and this is more spring (I plan to switch them out accordingly). I also picked up a diffuser (Midnight Orchid), which I'll show later in the post.

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I grabbed this clear front storage drawer for my 6-shelf hanging organizer in my closet. I haven't yet shared that because I'm still in the midst of organizing my closet for its reveal (long time coming). I was desperate to get a backup of the 6-shelf shelf organizer just for reassurance in case anything happened to the one I already have, but unfortunately they were all sold out at this Target store =(

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Then came their liquidation sale. The day the sale started (Thursday), I quickly went with my mom in the morning before work. I grabbed a few Essie polishes, Nivea night creams and eye cream, and a few Physician's Formula eyeliners. The Essie nail polishes were a good deal, about $6 for one! Normally they sell for around $9-10 and I scored some colours I've been meaning to buy.

Then on Saturday of that week, I decided to go to Target again, but this time at a different location in an attempt to find more things and the 6-shelf hanging organizer. Unfortunately I missed my bus that day because it was a couple minutes early(!!). My bus on Saturdays only comes once an hour so I had plenty of time to kill before the next one came.
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So, I decided to walk around my old high school and noticed some new changes. They had lunch tables outside, tables along the wall with sockets to plug in your phone or computer, they painted the doors a different colour, and they added a new ramp and removed the small trees that used to be in the front entrance. Those were the noticeable difference from what I can see from the outside. I also saw a bunch of Canadian geese hanging about on the field behind the school. I wonder what they're doing here in the winter...

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When I finally caught my bus, met up with the Mister, and got to Target in Bramalea mall, I immediately ran over to their storage and organization department and snatched up the last Threshold's 6-shelf hanging organizer. I was so happy and relieved to finally have found one (and on sale too!).

Then I immediately headed over to the beauty department and found the place a wreck. Empty shelves and products everywhere.

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I got lucky in the picked over nail polish section and walked away with four amazing popular Essie pastel colours.

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I also found these two awesome travel cases. Target is by far the best place to buy travel cases that I've come across so far.

Then I went back to the decor section and admired everything before Target is gone forever.

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And lastly I picked up a diffuser (Island Moonlight), the other is the one I got when it wasn't on sale mentioned previously.

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There's a Joe Fresh store in Bramalea so we went in and I found this amazing statement necklace for 50% off!! And guess what?? The original price wasn't bad either at $16- but I got it for only $8!! It looks like a necklace you'd find at J. Crew or something, doesn't it?

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After all that shopping, we went to go eat at Burger King in the food court. It wasn't appetizing but we needed to fill our tummies with something.

I plan to check out Target again this weekend but it's unlikely that they'll have any good sales. Now I'll only buy if it's a good deal because I got everything I really wanted. This is not the end for Target and me. One day when the Mister and I have a car and I have a passport, I will cross the border to the States and go to a Target over there. I hear Target is better over there anyhow.

"When I was young, black and white is how I thought the world to be. Now that I'm older, shades of grey is all I see." -Unknown

Friday, February 20, 2015

7.266 BLAH Markt

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I said in my previous post that I'm not a Valentine's Day kind of person, but... I do think it's a nice excuse to celebrate and have dinner. The Mister and I didn't have dinner though because on the Saturday Valentine's Day was on, I had plans with my family to celebrate mine and my sister's birthday dinners combined. So, instead, he insisted he come over to see me in the daytime and brought over flowers and a cute stuffed animal (dog).

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Bier Markt
199 Queen St. N, Toronto, ON M9C 4Y1

Taken from the site: "Bier is a work of art and a labour of love — and it’s our passion. We serve it at just the right temperature, in just the right glass, and pour it exactly the way it was meant to be poured. Paired with our European brasserie-inspired menu and guided by our knowledgeable staff, it’s a journey that begins with great Bier and ends in an unforgettable culinary experience. So come raise your glass, tulip, chalice or stein and say 'Proost' to beautiful Bier!"

The place my family chose to eat at for dinner was Bier Markt. The place looked decent enough, both of my sisters had been wanting to come here, and the idea of a place focused on beer was intriguing because if it was any good, I would have totally brought the Mister here another time.

When we got there, of course, the place was booked solid because it was Valentine's Day (we forgot to reserve) and was told that it would be an hour wait. It a bit weird though because it didn't seem that busy since no one was waiting in the foyer where we were... We figured everyone must have had reservations or something.

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So, we went to Sherway Gardens Mall and walked around for an hour. I spotted the Saks Fifth Avenue department store under construction. We have Hudson Bay, Holt Renfrew, and now we'll have Nordstrom and Saks!! I just can't wait!!

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After exactly an hour, they called and we started to head over (they even called twice to make sure we were still coming- a little pushy if you ask me). When we got there, the workers looked a little frazzled because there were a bunch of people coming in at the same time as us. We had to tell them who we were and then were escorted to our seats.

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The restaurant looked fine, nice, and cozy. Here's the problem though...

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We thought we had to wait an hour because the place was booked solid?? Wrong. Look at all the empty tables. And not only that, there were plenty of empty tables around us (prior to this photo they were completely bare and the workers took a really long time to even set it up). Okay, at this point I'm thinking they're all reserved... until I realized that even when the few people around us finished their meals, their tables were unattended to and left uncleaned for more than half an hour. One table was halfway cleaned, the cleaning solution bottle was left on the table for sometime which was very unprofessional in my opinion. Clearly, they were understaffed- and this definitely showed when it came time to order. We sat there and had to grab the attention of our server to order our food.

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For my starter I got the French Onion Soup Gratin. This was really good. I would come back here just to eat this.

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My family shared their starter and got the Dunkel Duck Wings. This was a really weird dish apparently. Firstly, it looked awful; it was burnt, there was little meat, and a lot of bone showing. They all told me it tasted peculiar too.

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Then after we finished our starters... we had to wait what seemed like forever for our mains to arrive. Here I was looking out the window during that time. It was really cold and windy that night. Freezing temperatures that hovered around -20 degrees celsius (with the wind felt like -30 to -40). There was this homeless person panhandling the cars with their two dogs covered by a blanket. I felt awful because here I am in this restaurant paying for, what I hear is overpriced food, while that person is out there with their dogs hoping for some change.

Then after a ridiculous and unacceptable amount of time, our mains came. The servers botched up twice- one got her napkin in my sister's food, and another almost tipped over my mom's fries.
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My sister got the Steak and Frites. This looked really good. It looked like it was cooked perfectly... until my sister cut into it and realized that they cooked it almost well done- unlike the rare she had asked for. Plus she told me that the steak was completely bland. The only acceptable item on this dish was the fries.

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My other sister got the Ahi Tuna. For the type of restaurant we were in, already she could tell that the price ($27) for what she got was not worth it. The fish tasted okay but the whole dish itself was definitely overpriced.

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My mom got the Merchant Burger. I got a taste of it and I liked it. Was it worth the $25 price tag though? Hellz no. It was good but it wasn't 25 dollars good.

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Then... there was me. I got the Smoked Markt Back Ribs. As soon as the server brought it to the table I knew I had made a huge mistake. Just at first glance everyone could already tell that the ribs were dry as hell. They definitely were not the fall-off-the-bone-Swiss-Chalet-ribs that I love. No, these were barbequed until they were burnt, dry, and black. Plus, I guess they thought it would be cute to make the customer baste their own ribs. The first ribs I ate made my jaw hurt- that's how dry and terrible the ribs were. Again, the only good thing from this dish were the fries. My coleslaw didn't even have any dressing with it; so weird.

Most of the time I didn't even see the servers in sight- maybe because we were seated in the corner all the way in the back of the restaurant? The food was just way overpriced and just not good- with some exceptions like the onion soup and burger in my opinion. Although the restaurant emphasizes on beer, none of us ordered an alcoholic drink so I can't say much on that front. They did have a separate extensive beer menu though so that was cool. Perhaps this is the Canadian version of the Japanese Izakaya? A drinking establishment that serves food to pair with their drinks? Their food should at least be good at least... apparently not a priority at this location.

Overall: Ambience A-, Food D+, Service F.

Anyway, back to my talk on celebrations. I love celebrating festivals and holidays- basically anything that I can partake in or go out to eat for. My family is not big on celebrations which includes birthdays. In the future when I get married, I'm going to make it a thing to celebrate because I think it's fun.

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Today is Lunar New Year (Happy Lunar New Year!), and everyone at my workplace who celebrated went the extra mile. I thought it was so fun. Personally, I would love to go out to the grocery stores, particularly T&T and Ocean's, and go buy the special items they have for sale for Lunar New Year. I got two red pockets from two ladies at the workplace. One contained a lotto ticket and the other 5 bucks haha. So sweet of them.

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The Sunday after Valentine's the Mister came over and we made tomato soup again. I swear I just can't get sick of eating it. We did our usual, watched Big Bang Theory! I'm watching the series with him to catch him up because I'm dying to catch up with the world to watch the latest season.

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My sister has a craft of cooking food. I don't cook much because I can't stand the criticism my mom dishes out at times, but both of my sisters don't seem to care all that much. There isn't much fridge space either to store leftovers so I don't even bother trying to cook. She recently made homemade pizza and we got to assemble our own!

This was mine. Uncooked on the left, baked on the right.

In the left picture, the pizza on the left is my mom's and the one on the right is my brothers. The picture on the right is my sister's. The pizza was really good. The dough was different because it had rosemary in it too.

"If you don't do what you're supposed to do in your life, the world is going to miss what you have." -Terry Crews