Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Montreal Nordstrom Warehouse Sale Haul

I haven't done a haul in sooo long, mostly because I haven't really had anything super exciting to share. HOWEVER. Last weekend I went to the Nordstrom sale where the old Target was, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn't not blog about it. The irony of my last haul being the Target closing liquidation haul is not lost on me hahaha.

So, first of all, it's weird that Nordstrom had a sale here to begin with seeing as there is no actual Nordstrom store in Montreal. I guess the sale was meant to serve as an indicator of how well a Nordstrom would potentially do here, and also as a means to get customer emails. (If you provided your email at checkout you got an extra 10% off). The sale was put on by a company called Style Democracy that specializes in putting on sample/warehouse/liquidation sales across Canada (which, by the way, I think is such a fantastic business idea).

Essentially, the place was packed with rows and rows of women's clothing racks. Each clothing item was tagged with a colored dot sticker, which corresponded to a certain pricepoint. There were some really good brands available like Free People, Mink Pink, Madewell, and Wildfox - all for under $20. I can't even stress how incredible that is.

I was actually so pleased that I was at the sale both Saturday and Sunday, but had I known about it sooner I definitely would've gone during the week as well. My friend went a total of 3 times and got over 15 items. You could seriously go over and over and keep finding new things because they would keep replenishing and people would try things on and stuff would get put back on the racks.

The first thing I picked up is this casual comfy grey sweater. This was one of the items that you would see repeated in different sizes throughout the racks (whereas other things were one-of-a-kind). I liked it because the cut is really flattering. On me it's fitted at the top & on the arms, and then goes flowy on the stomach area which is perfect.

Then, I found this pretty patterned tank top. The cut of the neckline is a little low so I'll have to play around with it, but the overall fit was quite nice. I don't usually go for tank tops because I don't like showing my arms, but I like pairing them with sheer shirts or kimonos in the summer.

And surprisingly, I got a total of 3 tank tops in this haul. This one is from Free People so I automatically picked up. Free People clothes are great quality and usually so expensive. I really liked the color of this tank top (I have nothing like it), and I love how it flares out at the bottom.

I also picked up this sheer black lace kimono. Like I said, I love layering with these kinds of items in the summer. This one actually has strings so it can be used as a robe/coverup situation (it may even be intended as lingerie...?) but I might cut them off. It's the perfect length for wearing over leggings/tighter pants too.

I also picked up these casual cotton shorts to wear around the house during the summer. I know they look super plain but they're SO soft and I love the color.

Last but not least, another tank top! I really like the bold print of these. I can easily pair it with black or even maroon colored jeans, and it looks cute under the kimono too.

Overall I'd say the sale was a big success. Getting 6 clothing items in one go is really rare for me because not a lot of things fit me nicely. If you have a more typical body type, I would say it's all the more easy to find things at a sale like this. My mom, for instance, bought over 20 items (!!!) and we ended up paying no more than $20 for each item. On the Sunday (the final day of the sale) all tops were slashed down to $10 each, and all bottoms down to $14CAD.

Another note is that the changing room situation was pretty good too. It was great that the sale took place in the old Target, because you had the option of standing in line to wait for a proper changing room, or you could try clothes on in a communal changing area (separated by gender) that was lined with mirrors. I really liked having the choice.

I would 100% attend another sale like this if the opportunity arose! I'm so glad Target died and the Nordstrom sale rose. LOL.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let Down by The 100

(Beware of spoilers)

I want to get something off my chest: season 3 of The 100 is terrible. I guess I could begin by explaining how I hoped the show would unfold after season 2, because season 2 was great! I hoped the writers were going to focus on the fallout post-Mt. Weather. I hoped the writers were going to continue to show the character progression of each pivotal character and how they were affected by Mt. Weather.

Instead, the show fastforwarded to months? weeks? after Mt. Weather, and we were introduced to a slew of new characters (why!). It almost seemed as though each original character had developed significantly since the s2 finale and we were left trying to connect the dots ourselves. I get that shows do this. I get that they don't want to baby their audience by providing all the details. The thing is, so many shows take this approach and fail, because it almost certainly leads to plot holes. Look at Pretty Little Liars. Look at Orphan Black. Those are two shows I had to stop watching because they twisted the plot so much that it became frustrating because they overlooked the importance of filling the audience in.

The most annoying character development we've seen in The 100 so far is Bellamy's. Bellamy was awful at the beginning of season 1. He was selfish and tyrannical, but by the end of the season he softened up. In season 2 he became a hero of sorts. He learned empathy and seemed to have a strong moral compass. In season 3, it all went to waste. He flip flopped back to being emotionless and taking part in the genocide of the grounders. I seriously do not get how this happens. He warmed up to Lincoln, he was amicable with Indra, and he seemed to understand that not all grounders are the same. It's such a shame that his character devolved so much in the span of like, 3 episodes.

And then we have Clarke. Clarke decided, as per the end of season 2, that she no longer wanted to live with Sky Crew. The season ends with her leaving the Arc and walking into the forest alone. Bellamy did not go with her. Clarke's broken relationship with the Sky Crew and the grounders should have been the primary focus, yet season 3 began with Clarke being hunted by the Ice Queen. Where did this Ice Queen even come from? How did we get from point A to point B? What were Clarke's intentions in wandering off into the wild on her own? None of this was addressed.

Now Lexa's dead and the LGBTQIA audience is devastated. The showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, issued an apology about perpetuating the "bury your gays" trope in tv writing. The apology is alright (though I 100% understand if the LGBTQIA audience don't accept it), but Rothenberg should also apologize for convoluting the plot and letting character development fall by the wayside.

I'm not sure if I want to continue watching this season. I don't know how it can recover. We're already 8/12 episodes into season 3 and I don't see how it's going to improve. Absolutely no progress has been made for the show's true heroes... It's all pretty sad.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Best Sushi Ever: Vegan!!!

Hey everyone! Last week I went to try vegan sushi with my friends for my birthday, and I'm not exaggerating: it was the best sushi I've ever had. One of my favorite things about vegan cooking is that all the ingredients shine in a different way, whereas if you're having a meat dish, the star is the chicken/steak/fish/whatever and everything else is complementary. My impression is that with vegan food every ingredient plays a key role. This sushi was so innovative and so delicious, it kinda blew my mind a little and I can't stop thinking about it!

The restaurant in question is called Sushi Momo and it's located in the Plateau area of downtown Montreal. The only downside to this restaurant is that the service is horrendous because they do takeout and have a seating area, but presumably they only have one chef. That said, I was able to put up with it because the sushi was so tasty.

At first I was a little taken aback by the a-la-carte pricing. I think I'm just used to having all-you-can-eat sushi for like $20-25 and not worrying about it, but in the end I only ended up paying $14 which is pretty good. Bear in mind that the sushi in the following photos was split amongst 3 people. I was totally satisfied hunger-wise by the end of my meal, but I do wish I ordered more so I could taste all the awesome variations of vegan sushi.

I honestly can't really remember what exactly was in all of these but here's what I can recall. There was one roll (I believe the 5 pieces on the right) that included vegan cream cheese, tomato, avocado, carrot, and sliced green apple, which I know sounds SO odd but it was really good. I think it was called the "Four Seasons" roll.

Then we got these two which were the total standouts for me. The roll on the left was stuffed with "creamy jackfruit". I definitely knew I wanted to try something with jackfruit because although it is literally a fruit, vegan chefs use this to mimic pulled pork/chicken texture, and it does a pretty good job of picking up the flavor of whatever you cook it in. Then on the right was a spicy, creamy tofu roll which was honestly just as delicious as the jackfruit. It actually might have been my favorite.

We also shared a plate of tempura sushi that had sweet tofu, mango and avocado, and it was so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it. I loved the texture combo of having creamy avocado sushi fried in a tempura batter. The mango was a really nice tangy touch too.

Last but not least, we had to try the "Poutine Hosomaki". Basically, this dish consists of sweet potato sushi cut into bite sized pieces, fried tempura-style, then baked in "cheddar cheese" (I have no clue how they did this) and shiitake teriyaki sauce. Um... yes. It was everything.

All in all, I desperately need to go back to this place. Next time I would definitely go for lunch on a not-so-busy day because I'm thinking the service was slowed down because it was a Saturday night. Or maybe I can try and probably not succeed at making this stuff myself...!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

3 Makeup Tutorials to Try in 2016

One item that did not make it to my New Year's Resolutions list but is still very much a goal of mine, is to get back into enjoying makeup! I can probably count the number of times I wore a full face of makeup last year on one hand, which is such a shame because I have so much makeup & I love to apply it. I don't know why I didn't delve into makeup more last year... I probably got lazy, and to be honest I wasn't really feeling myself ~appearance-wise~ so I guess I didn't want to. I figured I would put together a short list of tutorials I would like to try out in 2016.

I usually think grey/black when I think "smokey eye" but a nice, warm brown-red smokey eye sounds amazing. I love the way the glowy cheeks & subtle lip balance out the eye makeup. This is a must-try for me.

This dark lip paired with cool, silvery eyes is such a nice combination. I definitely have to attempt to pull this off before spring rolls around!

I love the idea of blue/green eyeshadow and this seems like such a polished & classy way to do it! This is tagged as a NYE look but I think it can easily work year-round. The bright blue would be nice in summer as well.

I'm excited to try these out :)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Changing my Etsy Logo & Discovering my Illustration Style

Hey everyone! I mentioned a while back that I was going to talk more about my foray into small businesshood (haha). At the end of January I decided my Etsy shop needed a little makeover. I thought my designs were getting kind of stale and could use a revamp. Also, I was adamant that, in the new year, I would try my best to tackle Illustrator and develop an illustration style that could be carried out with all my designs.

The first order of business was to revamp my shop logo. My previous logo (similar to the logo I use on this blog) was near and dear to my heart because I painted the watercolor overlay myself. Like, painted painted with a brush and watercolor paints. I feel like traditional forms of art like painting and hand scripting are falling by the wayside, so I was always proud of incorporating that element into my logo. That said, it was time for a change. I opted for a similar watercolor-inspired style, and chose one color - a beautiful, bright coral. What I like about having one color in a logo is that it's super malleable. I now change the color of my logo based on the sticker sheet so that everything matches. It's a simple adjustment but it makes everything look cohesive.

Then I decided to close my shop for a couple days to create 10+ brand new sticker sheets. This was kind of nerve-wrecking at first, because I wasn't sure I could afford to close the shop at all, let alone for more than one day. I put out an announcement on Instagram saying I intended to close my shop & that all items in the "SALE" section would be discontinued. What happened then shocked me... I received TONS of orders scooping up the last of the sale items, and made about $200 in a day - a record for me. It was really effective, to say the least.

So I closed the shop and got to work. The first thing I wanted to do was design a full page of colorful breakfast stickers. I knew I wanted to work on this first because breakfast foods are overall really "illustrateable" meaning that they're colorful and easy to make into little clipart elements. My strategy was to get the outline for each item down in Illustrator, and then import the design into Photoshop where I would add the color and lay out the sticker sheet. This breakfast theme is one of my absolute favorites - I love the bright colors and how well everything works with my new logo.

Once I got the ball rolling with the breakfast stickers, I designed more than 10 new sheets. I worked super long days trying to get everything set up for the shop reopening, and overall I accomplished what I set out to achieve: a fresh, new shop look with hand-illustrated stickers in a unique style.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

3 Weeks Vegan... WHY?

I'm writing this blog post in part to figure out how I can better explain why I decided to go vegan to my friends and family. Especially since, once you full-on say "yeah, I'm vegan" it somehow seems irreversible. But there's no way around it... You can't have a slice of cake at your friend's birthday. You don't order your usual cheese pizza. There are questions.

Avocado Alfredo spaghetti.. So good!
I decided to go vegan based on timing, circumstance, and belief. For one, I'm firmly against anthropocentrism. I don't believe that humans, as a species, are meant to be at the center of the universe. I believe that we share this Earth and environment with animals. I think as soon as humans start to get too egocentric, we start to neglect our surroundings and let nature & the world around us falter. So on a purely moral basis, how can I logically choose to support the animal agriculture industry, an industry that is dangerously excessive, hostile, and abusive towards animals? I love my dog to bits, so how can I deny that same compassion to animals being unnecessarily slaughtered for food? But this idea is not new to me. I've always thought veganism was the right thing to do. It's the timing that made me choose to take the leap.

I can't realistically say transitioning into veganism is for everyone in any circumstance. I'm fortunate to be in a situation where I'm no longer in school & work from home, meaning I can spend time meal planning and cooking really hearty and wholesome animal-free recipes. I feel like this can't be overlooked. There are nutrients that your body is accustomed to getting from animal products (B12, iron, protein, etc) so you need to ensure that your meals can fulfill these needs. Without the proper planning and care, it would be easy to fall ill by not eating enough and not eating the right things.

I'm not vegan for health reasons. Yes, the health benefits are a perk, but ultimately I feel like I can't treat this as a diet like I might've in the past. Focusing on the "activism" side to veganism is what will ultimately make it last.

So far I think I made the right choice. I'm constantly tuning into documentaries and research supporting veganism, and every video I watch/article I read leaves eating meat & dairy far in the past. The only thing that has been a bit of a struggle is eating out (something I looove to do). I went to my favorite Italian restaurant the other day and was only able to have a salad. I thought I would be able to have a pizza without cheese but unfortunately they add yogurt to their pizza dough to keep it moist (bummer). Also, the waiters and chef weren't really keen to accommodate my needs even though I was extra polite and clear. That said, giving up my favorite restaurant is a compromise that I'm willing to make.

The major upside is that I've been very into cooking new meals and getting creative in the kitchen. I've been eating some really good stuff: lentil stew, polenta, homemade veggie burgers, stir frys, Asian noodle dishes, incredible stuffed "ricotta" pasta shells - you name it. This brownie recipe is the best I've ever used, vegan or not.

Perfecting my stir fry skills!

Now I know this kind of looks like pet food but trust me when I say this is the best dish I've cooked so far. Lentils, carrots, bell pepper and kale in the most delicious peanut sauce. SO GOOD
All in all, it's going to take some more getting used to, and my family & friends are going to have to adapt as well. But if they care about me & my life choices, they will come to support me.