Saturday, November 28, 2015

Travel Diary: Universal Studios Orlando Tips & Review

Amusement parks may seem like a place for families but it can be a ton of fun for adults as well! I recently spent 4 days at Universal Studios Orlando. Since the holidays are coming up, I thought I'd share my thoughts and tips for your perfect vacation at Universal. This guide is catered towards those in their young 20s either traveling as a group or as a couple. I'll be sharing my favorite rides, tips for cheap tickets and other photos!

At the Universal Boardwalk with its famous rotating sign

Discount Tickets

I bought my tickets off of Undercover Tourist. After doing a bunch of research, it was the best deal and one of the most reputable sources. We decided not to do Park to Park tickets as the only benefit was the Hogwarts Express and since we went for four days we didn't need to go in two parks in one day. I'd recommend at least a full day in each park but we really enjoyed going for 2 days in each park as that way we can explore the shops, meet characters, and have a nice lunch.

Currently the four day base tickets that I bought are selling for $166 USD on Undercover Tourist. It comes out to be less than $50 per day so it's a fantastic deal.

Islands of Adventure

Outside Islands of Adventure

Between the two parks, this one was definitely my favorite! For lunch we ate at the Three Broomsticks which I HIGHLY recommend! Great quality food with fantastic Harry Potter themeing and the price was reasonable too.

Lunch at Three Broomsticks- make sure to order Butterbeer!

Here I'll list out some of my favorite rides as well as ones that you can skip.

Must Go!
  • Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
    • A 3-D experience on a track style ride. Everything about it was AWESOME.
  • Dragon Challenge
    • An extreme roller coaster with a Harry Potter theme. This is for the thrill seekers!
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls 
    • It's like Splash Mountain but more extreme and you will get WET!
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
    • Take a ride through raptor containment and escape a T-Rex. You will also get wet.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
    • It's so low on the list because it made me kind of dizzy and wasn't as good as I expected it to be. The walk through the line up was very entertaining and it had to make the list because it's Harry Potter :)
Dudley Du-Right's Ripsaw Falls- The drop and the splash you get is so much fun!

Time Wasters
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
    • The drop was not even as extreme as PNE's Hellavator. And since it only takes 8 people at a time, the line up can be long.
  • Pteranodon Flyers
    • You sit on a swing type ride and it's only 90 seconds long and the line up takes forever!
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
    • Similarly, the line up for this was really long and the ride was over in an instant. It's a roller coaster style ride but was no where as extreme as Dragon Challenge. Maybe good for those who are usually afraid of rides.
  • Poseidon’s Fury 
    • I was really excited to watch this show but it's definitely geared towards kids. The acting was a bit gimmicky. But I guess it's a good spot to sit indoors to escape the heat.
Universal Studios Florida

The famous Diagon Alley- notice everyone else taking photo of the dragon breathing fire hah!

This park had more of the original rides as well as characters. Universal Studios Florida inspires its guests to "ride the movies", and it features numerous attractions and live show. If you are done with the rides early, I'd recommend lining up to take photos with characters as I found that loads of fun.

Here I'll list out some of my favorite rides as well as ones that you can skip.

Must Go!
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
    • This is a must go! It really uses the theme and book to develop an exciting ride!
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
    • We did not get to go on this till the end because the line up was huge but it was so worth it. Cute, thrilling and a great story line of becoming a minion!
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
    • Atotal extreme roller coaster ride. We went on it twice! You get to pick your choice of music to rock out to while blasting through the park.
  • MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack
    • This was a fun way to take a break from extreme rides. It's a slow ride but you have toy guns that you try to shoot aliens down.
Time Wasters
  • Animal Actor's on Location
    • I was really excited to see animals perform tricks but the animals just kind of ran across the stage back and forth.
  • E.T. Adventure
    • This is a really old ride (opened in 1990)and I thought it would pick up the pace but the whole ride was sitting on the bicycle slowly going through the set.
  • Transformers
    • There was nothing wrong with this ride but it's exactly like Spider-Man. So if you went to Spider-Man in the other park, this one's not worth going to.
Don't forget to meet classic characters like Scooby Doo and Spongebob

Transportation

We can't forget about transportation as the park is huge! We stayed at a hotel (yellow star)that looked as close as it can be to the park on the map. However, it was still a 20 minute walk (yellow dotted line) to get into the Universal Transportation Center (pink star). The green arrow is the way to walk to Islands of Adventure and the blue arrow is leading to Universal Studios Florida.

Hope the map is helpful,, I was so confused when I was planning my trip on where the entrance is

I really enjoyed using Uber when I was there as the ride back to the hotel was only $4!! When we took the taxi it was $8. The difference really adds up. If you don't have Uber, you can sign up and if you use my invite code and we both get a ride up to $20 free! I can't even use my free rides as Uber doesn't operate in Vancouver right now but I can't wait until they figure it out with the city.
Also, for those Harry Potter fans, how awesome is my 9 3/4 shirt?!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My First LUSH Bath Bomb Experience


Every time I walk by a LUSH store, I'm magnetically pulled by my nose to go and browse the store. So, I'd say it's pretty surprising that I've never tried a bath bomb from them before! This post was inspired by my First Tiffany & Co blog post which is funnily one of the most viewed posts on this blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event at the Lush store in Kitsilano (event recap coming next week) and got to make my own bathbomb! This is the LUSH Starburst bath bomb ($5.25) that is part of the holiday collection.


I got my bathtub ready with a pot of tea, candle and towels and off we go to see this bath bomb in action!

Fizz!

It dissolved pretty fast but I had a lot of fun watching it fizz around. The scent was quite light (vanilla and rosewood)

There's a surprise in the center! (well not a surprise to me since I made it!)

At the inside there's blue with gold stars.


Here's how the water looked in the end. The water was silky feeling and I loved the light scent. However, I got a bit bored in the bath and now I remember why I don't take baths too often. I think I was only able to sit for 10 minutes before I felt like I needed to get a move on. However, I had SO MUCH FUN setting up the bath tub thanks to the LUSH bath bomb.

If you are a fan of taking baths, definitely give the LUSH bath bombs a try. It's so fun to watch it fizz and turn your water a different color. The silkiness of the water and the nice smell that fills up your bathroom doesn't hurt either!

Are you a bath or shower person? If you've tried LUSH bath bombs before, let me know what your favorite is!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ceramic Glaze Fall/Holiday 2015 Collection Swatches

A couple months ago, I attended the ACI Fall preview event for a variety of brands. One brand I've not tried before is Ceramic Glaze. I have their Fall/Holiday collection to share with you!


This Fall/Holiday season Ceramic Glaze introduces a collection of 8 on-trend nail polish shades in a variety of finishes including bold creams, opalescent shimmers and sparkling top coats. 

Ceramic Glaze nail polishes are 3 Free and uses the same ingredients that give porcelain and ceramic its shiny, glaze finish. With base coat and top coat, the colors lasted 5-7 days on me. The brush is smaller similar to Essie polishes which is a bit harder to use for beginners but gives more precision. Most of these shades were opaque with 2 coats. So let's get on with the colors!


Vintage Glam: A rustic golden, copper shade in iridescent finish.

Wonderland: A duochrome of purple and green in iridescent finish.


Regal: A rich royal blue in ultra glossy finish

Applause: An eggplant purple in ultra glossy finish

Sorcery: A blue based green in ultra glossy finish. Make sure you wear a base coat! I forgot to and it stained my nails! These three shades are very pigmented!


Snow Queen: A top coat featuring white hexagon shaped glitter. It takes some work to get the pieces out on to your nails.

Diamond Dust: A top coat with tons of multi-colored glitter but gives off a silver look. It's pretty but not that unique.


Here you can see everything swatched with two coats.


This is my favorite out of the collection! In the bottle it looked very similar to OPI's Almost Famous but on the nails it's this gorgeous rich chocolate brown with gold tones. The formula was also amazing to work with and provided even coverage. My other favorites are Wonderland and Applause.

What are your favorite fall/holiday nail shades?

Each Ceramic Glaze Nail Polishes has 14mL and retails for $9.99 and are available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores across Canada.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Too Cute to Use Asian Makeup Brands

I'm a huge sucker for cute packaging. Brands like Benefit, Too Faced and Urban Decay are some of my favorites. However, Asian makeup brands take cuteness to a whole new level! When I was on exchange in Hong Kong, I discovered Etude House, Tony Moly, Too Cool for School and more! In this post, I will share some of my favorite too cute to use Asian makeup brands.


In the past year, THEFACESHOP has been popping up in stores around Lower Mainland. They are mostly known for their skincare but actually has a makeup line as well. Their Milky Moisture Tints* ($15)  have really cute cartoon drawings as packaging as well as pretty colors that match the tint. The contain on the right is a hand lotion and is their Mini Pet Floral* ($8). This would be so cute on anyone's office desk.


The moisture tints are quite liquidy and has a light green tea scent that I love. I have three of the 4 colors and they range from pink, to orange to purple. They are sheer on the lips but gives a gorgeous glow that looks absolutely natural. I have quite pigmented lips but I was able to get a different look from each of the shades. The product was made so that you can create an ombre lip which is quite popular in Korea. I will be working on creating a tutorial for that!



When I was in Asia, I also picked up a concealer and an eyeliner from Dinoplatz. Sephora actually now carries this brand which is cool! The concealer is a full coverage duo shade but the consistency is a bit thick for my liking. The eyeliner is such a pigmented purple that really pops against the eye. The packaging of these are adorable and has these cartoon drawings of dinosaurs and other geometric shapes. They are part of the Too Cool for School line.


The last item is a lip crayon from Tony Moly that I got from my Memebox last year. It is a bright pink and has a sweet scent!


Which brand is your favorite in terms of packaging? 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Smooth Legs with EOS and Schick

Although it's now winter time, it doesn't mean we have to neglect our legs! I found the perfect combination to get a close shave AND a soft moisturized leg. The power couple is the Schick Hydro Silk Razor with the EOS Shave Cream in Vanilla Bliss.


I got the Schick Hydro Silk razor (~$12) during the summer time after winning it from other bloggers. Normally I use the disposable 2/3 blade razors so a 5 blade looked intimidating at first. This razor is double ended and also has a battery powered trim.


The razor contains hypoallergenic moisturizing serum and unique skin guards to protect against irritation. The head can be replaced with any Schick Hydro Silk cartridges and is very flexible. The little white dots contain the smooth serum while the green surrounding is a rubbery feeling casing that also helps with the smooth glide. I liked how easy it is to maneuver this around curves. Also, the serum actually does make a difference! It is so silky smooth!

  
I used the EOS shave cream in Vanilla Bliss* ($3.49) in conjunction for the smoothest shave possible. You may know EOS by their lipbalm which is just a ball of absolute cuteness. I received this last year but never got around to writing about it. The biggest difference with this shave cream is that it's not a foaming cream but more of a moisturizing lotion. 

The scent is sophisticated and it just feels luxurious when applied.


This is the texture of the shave cream. As you can see, there's no foaming. It's like putting on a lotion that protects you from the shave and moisturizes your skin! I've been loving this combination for getting the smoothest shave ever!


Do you splurge or skimp with your shaving needs?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Vancouver in the Know: Staycation Ideas

Every year, my parents want to do some family activities in Vancouver and I'm always at a loss for ideas. Staycations are great if you only have the weekend off work and can't get away. So instead of spending your money on flights and hotels, splurge on some shows and food that you wouldn't normally do in Vancouver. Here are some of my ideas!

Disney on Ice- Frozen

I recently came back from Disneyworld and one of the most popular attractions was to meet Anna and Elsa! Now you can watch the magic of the movie Frozen with Disney on Ice! Let it go, let it go!!


Audiences will be magically whisked away into the wintery world of Arendelle by dazzling special effects and astonishing skating as you sing and dance along to instant Disney classics such as “Let It Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, and the mystical trolls, as they journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all! 


Where: Pacific Coliseum at the PNE
When: November 25 – 29, 2015
Price: Ticket prices range from $25 – $95. Tickets available for purchase online at TicketLeader.ca, charge by phone at 604-252-3700, or visit the PNE Box Office.



Goh Ballet- The Nutcracker


Every year near Christmas, Goh Ballet puts on The Nutcracker and features international ballerinas as well as kids in their academy. I remember going a couple years ago and watching my family friend's daughters participate in the show.

It's really well put together and perfect for the holiday season!

Where:The Centre in Vancouver, 777 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC
When: December 17-22, 2015
Price: Tickets start at $28

Yaletown Candy Town

During the summer time, there are festivals happening every weekend and some of my favorites were the KitsFest and the Richmond World Festival! There hasn't been too much since Fall came around but here's a great one for November!

On Saturday, November 21, 2015 12-7pm, the fourth annual CandyTown festival will celebrate the season right in the heart of Yaletown. With a sweet candy theme for this year's event, everyone can enjoy this free festival as this heritage neighbourhood is transformed into a winter wonderland.




These types of festivals are usually more fun if you are prepared to bring money for the food and shopping. Since you are having a staycation, why not splurge and try out as many food trucks as you can! Or buy a nice Christmas present for yourself from the vendors at the event!

Food

Of course a "staycation" is not complete with a nice splurge for your tummy. First off, Royal Dinette is a new restaurant that has a rotational seasonal menu. The restaurant revolves around celebrated chef David Gunawan’s signature focus on a true farm-to-table dining experience. They have an a-la-carte menu, a set menu (currently $65 for 6 courses) and special event menus. Their current special event is called the "Ugly Duckling"  which focuses on underutilized, often disposed scraps and offcuts ($79 for 5 courses)

RD-002.jpg

Another option that I think is very holiday like is going for afternoon tea. The Urban Tea Merchant is launching a festive tea set starting November 12th. Check out this beautiful photo from my friend over at Macarons and Mischief.



What are your holiday plans? I'd love to know how you splurge in your own city!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Manicure Roundup- Dior, Kiss, Revlon, Sally Hansen

It's been a very long time since I featured a "Nail of the Day" post. Since I don't do much crazy nail art, I thought it might be a bit boring to just show one nail color. Therefore, I collected my photos of my recent nails and have a collective NOTD round up for you!


Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in 719 Darling Blue
This is my very first Dior nail polish and is a limited edition color for Fall 2015. I love how luxe the packaging is. The polish applied very nicely however I didn't feel like it lasted any longer than less expensive nail polish. I liked the big, flat brush as it distributed color evenly. The color is unique, glossy, and the packaging is beautiful however, I'm not sure if it's worth its high price tag. Opaque with 2 coats.


Impress Press On Nails in Glitz & Glamour 
Kiss nails are starting to grow on me. These stick on nails have adhesive on the back and you peel off a plastic wrapper and just place it on your own nail bed. When I first tried them two years ago I thought the designs were pretty but the fit wasn't great. However, if you choose a size that is a bit bigger than your nail bed, you won't have as much of a gap and is a better fit. These lasts a really long time on me. I usually have to peel it off after a couple days as I find my hair tangles into it when I wash my hair. I think these are perfect if you have a special event and want a fancy design without breaking the bank. Check out their collection here.


Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy in 230 High Stakes
This Revlon color is just stunning to look at and a favorite during the fall time! I won this last year from a Revlon prize pack and have already used almost half the bottle. A really easy accent nail I learned to do is this "sprinkled dots". I take a toothpick and LOAD it up with nail polish and let a little bit drop. Take a couple contrasting colors and top it up with a glittery gold top coat (not shown).


Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy in 020 All or Nothing
This is my current favorite nude nail! The light pink is so pretty for work. I also won this from the Revlon prize pack. I think the Colorstay Gel Envy line is really good. The polish stays a long time and has a high shine. It takes about 3 coats for full opacity for this color but you can always do two heavier coats.


Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Gunmetal
This is probably one of the oldest nail polishes I have left in my collection. It's a really cool grey blue and although it looks matte in the photo, there is quite a bit of shine. The formula in this is runny so I had to do 3 coats. But the lasting power is really amazing, I'm still wearing this after a week on my nails. I mixed this color with a gold accent nail and love the contrast.

So that's the round up! Which color was your favorite? What's your go to fall nail look?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dermalogica Clear Start Foaming Wash and Emergency Spot Fix Review

I've been using Dermalogica for years ever since my mom starting bringing their skin products home from the spa. Some of my favorites are their cleansing gel, microfoliant scrub, and the skin smoothing cream. However I always thought of them as a skincare brand for the older skin as they do great hydrating, and anti-aging products.

Recently they released a new line up called "Clear Start" aimed at young adult skin. Dermalogica helps gives teens a Clear Start to the school year. This line combines proven blemish-fighting ingredients and soothing botanicals that reduce bacteria, control oil, and clear breakouts. If you read my Clean & Clear post, you'll see that the three products weren't for me. Read on to see how I felt about the Dermalogica Clear Start line.


I received two products to try out. Although I don't have blemish prone skin, I do get pimples once in a while and I was really looking forward to test out a targeted treatment.


First up is the Cleansing Foaming Wash ($22/177ml). There is a light tea tree and lavender scent to the cleanser. The product comes out as a pretty thick gel and turns into a lightly foaming cleanser. It is surprisingly gentle and helps my skin feel really clean. The texture reminds me of the original cleansing gel and makes me feel like I'm getting a facial at the spa.

I did not try to take off any makeup but I rubbed it over closed eyes and did not feel irritated in any way. There is a cooling sensation which makes me feel like the product is deep cleaning!


I was really excited to try Emergency Fix ($22/9ml) as I want a product that can nip a pimple before it can even grow. It is a thin white paste and smells like tea tree. I've used it on 5 pimples that have popped up and 3 of them disappeared, while 1 continued to grow, and 1 remained unchanged.

The trick is that this product is really for when the pimple FIRST start to form. Once it gets bigger it seems to not work as well. But the 3 times that I've used it on spots that were getting inflammed and red, it disappeared before a pimple formed! I'm really happy with this and is a great addition to your skincare routine regardless of age.


To round out the collection, there are 6 other products that help fight acne and promote smooth skin. Overall, I like this line a lot more than the Clean & Clear routine that I just tried. The products are much more gentle on the skin while being effective at fighting pimples. Although the products are more expensive, I'd definitely pick these as skincare is worth the investment.

If you are interested in trying these products out, lucky for you as I'm holding a giveaway! The PR firm has generously agreed to send a "Foaming Wash" and an "Emergency Spot Fix" for one lucky reader. This is open to Canadians only!