EM Cosmetics Fine Liner Brow Pencil Review

Hoping I’m not too late to the party, Michelle Phan has launched another product for EM Cosmetics! I was so excited try these because as some of you may know, I love the products that she has put out since revamping EM Cosmetics (See my reviews here and here). This time it’s for brows! Here’s my full review on the EM Cosmetics Fine Liner Brow Pencil!

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What is the EM Cosmetics Fine Liner Brow Pencil?

The Fine Liner Brow Pencil is part of EM Cosmetics Brow ID Collection – which includes the fine liner brow pencil, the micro-fluff sculpting, and brow cream. The last two, I really am not used to using so I don’t think my review on those would be valid. I have been using brow pencils though, so I figured it would be good for me to compare the ones I’ve been using to this one.

Their website boasts that the Fine Liner Brow Pencil has a buildable formula, and has an oval shaped pencil which will help with mimicking the look of brow hairs. It also states that it is cruelty free.

Now let me just say that for me, brows are the hardest to do when it comes to make up. So I’m still a noob when it comes to applying brows. However, I do find that I have more control with thinner brow pencils than thicker ones.

The Packaging

I bought 2 Fine Liner Brow Pencils – one in light taupe and one in brunette. It didn’t come in the usual box that I’m used to, but with such tiny products, it’s good to know that EM Cosmetics isn’t being wasteful. It came in a black padded envelope, wrapped in black tissue paper as always.

The boxes for each Fine Liner Brow Pencil are rectangular, much like boxes for their lip products – only a bit thinner. It’s sleek, simple and classic.

Once you take out the pencils from the boxes, they are white with black trimmings and gold letterings. Cute! You get the pencil on one side, and the spoolie on the other side. 

 

Time to Try Them On!

Ok, so I typically like to go pretty light on my brows so I’ve only tried the Light Taupe. But as I don’t have a range of colors because momma don’t have the funds, I am going to let you know now that swatches are not going to be on this review.

Here are my befores and afters!  Gimme a break!

 

The Review

I figure the best way to review this is to compare my experience with other brow pencils. Before this, my holy grail was Benefit’s “Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define” Pencil. 

The Amount of Product and Price

EM Cosmetics’ Fine Liner Brow Pencil has 0.001 oz of product for $18.00. Compared to Benefit which has 0.002 oz of product for $24.00. 

The Tip

EM Cosmetics has an oval tip, while Benefit’s Brow pencil has a circular tip. The oval tip helps with filling in the brows, but also helps to create the hair-like strokes depending on which angle you choose to use.

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The Formula

The formula of the Fine Liner Brow Pencil is also nice – similar to Benefit’s in that it’s not too soft, and is pretty buildable. As you can see in the pictures, the light taupe is pretty pigmented and I was able to build it up nicely to cover the patches of my eyebrow that was not there.

The Staying Power

I had it on for about 4-5 hours the day I tried it out. And I must add that I don’t usually touch my brow area, so it stayed on pretty well. It doesn’t say on the website that it’s long lasting, but it definitely stayed on pretty long.

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The Bottom Line

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t see much difference between my last favorite and the Fine Liner Brow Pencil. Benefit has twice the amount of product but EM cosmetics is 3/4 the price (so technically Benefit is cheaper).

So at this point, it’s really just really your preference. For me, I like to support Michelle Phan’s brand. But I’m also pretty practical. So I may stick to the “cheaper” alternative but will definitely not say no if I ever get them in the mail… Just saying.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!!

 

(All gifs are from giphy.com)

Pineapple and Pearls – Exploring Maryland/DC Series

Yes, I know another restaurant blog. However, since we are pretty busy with life right now, we don’t get to go out and do other stuff. So for our 9th wedding anniversary, A and I decided to go all out and dine at Pineapple and Pearls – a 2 Michelin star restaurant that offers a tasting menu of about 12 courses. And boy was it an experience! Here are my thoughts on it!

Pineapple and Pearls

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What kind of restaurant is it?

It’s labeled “New American” on yelp. But when we went, I don’t feel like it really had a type of cuisine that they focused on. It’s like a fusion of everything.

Where is it?

Pineapple and Pearls is located in DC, Capitol Hill – 715 8th Street SE, Washington DC.

How much is it?

The price has gone up. It’s $325 per person. Bar seating without wine pairing is $225 per person.

I know. I know… it’s a lot! But A has always wanted to try it and when you have a hubby who is a foodie, you gotta splurge once in a while! Enter… Pineapple and Pearls! LOL

You pay when you reserve your spot. So after dinner, there’s no check. You just go on your merry way. If you cancel your reservation more than 5 days before you are supposed to dine, then you can get a full refund. Otherwise, you will lose some money.

Is there Parking?

Street parking. If you want valet, Pineapple and Pearls share a valet contract with other restaurants nearby. So you can also go there, but note that you will walk a block from the valet to the restaurant.

How long is the dining experience?

When we asked one of their staff, they said up to 3 hours. I think we were there around 2 hours and 40 minutes. So make sure you alot some time for that.

Dress code?

Casual, but like not too casual. I believe they said they want you to be comfortable but also dress to impress. I wore a jumpsuit with my leather jacket and A wore a button down long sleeved shirt with dress pants.

Our Experience

Ok, now that I got some of the questions I think you may have asked answered, time to share our experience.

Basically, you walk in to Pineapple and Pearls and you are greeted warmly by the hostess in a rather small, unassuming room. It’s “closed” off to the rest of the restaurant so you don’t see anything going on really.  They give you warm towels to wipe your hands with and then for us, a small cup of tea to taste while waiting.

Chef’s Counter

Once your seats are ready, they lead you through the curtain to your seats. A loves to watch chefs at work, so he chose to reserve our seats at the Chef’s counter – same price as the dining room price. It didn’t disappoint. You literally get to see how the chefs create all the dishes that are put in front of you. They even personalized our seats with a nice “Happy Anniversary” card. =)

Here you are greeted by another person, I’m not sure what they are called at this point. But he or she will be your guide throughout the night, detailing everything you eat and drink. Pineapple and pearls is definitely fancy schmancy in a way that you feel personally taken care of. I mean for the price, I hope you would feel that way!

1st Pairing

Hot Milk Punch and Cocktail Snacks. The hot milk punch is milk washed cognac, citrus and burnt thyme. There were two cocktail snacks. One is a smoked A5 wagyu tallow tart, red onion gelee and rosemary. The other is Peconic Escargot Vol-au-vent, with creamed parsley and Garlic.

These are bite-sized pieces by the way. The pictures make them look huge, but literally, one bite per piece.

They were all delicious though. the cognac was warm and sweet but definitely strong. The tart was savory and light. It’s a nice way to get your taste buds to wake up. The escargot was delicious! Probably my second favorite of the night. Flaky on the outside and full of flavor on the inside. It’s not the “rubbery” type of escargot. It’s a melt in your mouth type of goodness.

2nd Pairing

Toasted Rice Custard with Blood Sausage with burnt caramel and preserved fish peppers. This was paired with Schlenkerl Rauchbier Marzen and Atomized Oloroso Sherry which our “guide” sprayed on top of it.

The custard was pretty good! They were very meticulous with the presentation. I think this was maybe 2 bites. ;-). I don’t really like alcohol too much, so I didn’t quite appreciate this drink. After this, I asked for the non-alcoholic pairing.

3rd Pairing

The next pairing for Pineapple and Pearls was for the next two dishes. A chardonay/savagnin – Domaine de Montbourgeau. My non-alcoholic pairing was celery juice with cucumber and some kind of pepper. Not bad actually. Tasted pretty refreshing.

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Don’t worry… they refilled A’s glass after he finished it ;-).

The dishes that came with it are as follows. Monkfish en Papillote (with Charleston ice cream, mussels and etouffe). Note: Charleston ice cream is a rice dish, NOT ice cream! Go figure! This was probably 3-4 bites. My favorite of the night! Savory and well flavored. The monkfish was flaky and perfectly cooked!

Then the Live scallop Mulle Feuille with fermented kohlrabi and cremini mushroom cream. Also good. Not the fave, but I do love me some scallops! They serve it on a shell. Cute! Oh hmm… I’d say 2-3 bites.

4th Pairing

This next one is Black and White Mole with House Nixtamalized Tortillas with Huitlacoche and black truffle, benne seeds, baking spices and wild rose vinegar. This was paired with Gut Oggau, Theodora, Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling. While the non-alcoholic pairing was Cilantro, black lime, and cayenne – me likey. For some reason, I didn’t get to take many pics of this pairing. I don’t know why. Oops.

5th Pairing

This pairing is for the next two dishes. A got the Herman Story – ‘On the road’ Grenache, Paso Robles. My non-alcoholic beverage was simply called “Tonico.” I don’t know what it was, but it was delish.

The first dish that came with it was Smoked and Spiced Beef Tongue with fermented malt and horseradish. One bite. This was actually pretty tasty. Then Grilled Roseda Farms Beef Striploin with braised endive with smoked beef heart, cognac, tripe and green peppercorn jus with Parker House rolls. A’s favorite of the whole night. The striploin was probably 2-3 bites and the bread we shared between us about 2-3 bites each.

Clearing the palate

To clear the palate, Pineapple and Pearls gave us a Grapefruit Sorbet with tarragon, chamomile, and Amaro Montenegro (for non- alcoholic, it was with bitter juices).

Last Pairing

For dessert, they gave us Butternut Squash ice cream cake with molasses, squash caramel and toasted seeds. This was paired with Domaine Rousset-Peyraguey, Aither. The non alcoholic pairing was Cranberry and maple in a quite interesting vessel.

Extras

At the end, A ordered some fancy coffee. While we were still seated, they gave us a fancy circular churro, caramel dipped gooseberry (bomb! I need me some gooseberries in my life), and a dark chocolate bon bon with honey and pickeled peppers.

Ending

At the end they gave you an envelope with the menu. They also said that they used to give you something for the next day. However, instead of that, they now make a donation to World Food Program USA that will help provide a meal to a hungry child.

Last Thoughts

All in all, Pineapple and Pearls was a great experience. But unless we become millionaires, it was a great once in a lifetime type of thing for us. Something to check off A’s bucket list. Food is something A and I love to enjoy together and this was something we really liked doing together. I mean you’re literally with whoever you’re eating with for 2.5 to 3 hours… I hope you like whoever you’re spending time with.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Urban Hot Pot – Exploring Maryland

I was trying to refrain from writing about restaurants because I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be with sites already dedicated to restaurant reviews. But I realize that most of the places I go to in Maryland are food places! And well, it is my blog and since I love food so much, then why not share about my experiences! Ergo, Urban Hot Pot. Why start out with this place? Because I just recently went and so it’s fresh in my mind!

What is “HotPot”?

It’s a cooking method that involves boiling/simmering bowl of soup with which you place a variety of foodstuffs in to cook it. I believe it originated in China but I do know a lot of other Asian cultures have their versions of it. It’s basically the Asian version of fondue if you will – except instead of cheese, it’s broth.

Urban Hot Pot

I believe Urban Hot Pot opened early last year (2018) or mid to late 2017. There are many hot pot places in Maryland but I must say that I like Urban Hot Pot’s concept (which I’ll describe more below). The place is so clean, which is nice, because typically, in restaurants where people cook their own food, the place tends to be a little greasy  or at least doesn’t look as swell kept. I don’t know if it’s because this place is new-ish that it feels clean or they are just thorough when they clean it. Either way, I approve of their cleanliness.

Their Concept

Urban Hot Pot is an all you can eat type of restaurant with a rotating conveyor belt where ingredients are put on for your convenience. This is only located in the middle tables though. The tables on the side (as well as the tables in the middle), come with iPads where you can put in your orders. Each person gets their own pot of their choice of broth on top of their own “stove.” Everyone gets up to 2 hours to stuff their faces. Simple enough right??

Basic Info

Lunch: $18.99 per person
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: $25.99 per person
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 11pm
Friday: 5pm – 12am

Weekend/Holidays: $25.99
Saturday/Holiday: 12pm – 12am
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

There are some options during dinner that are not available during lunch – hence the price. There are also some things on the menu that you have to pay extra for – including drinks. But to be honest, the ones included in the price are great! No need to get the extra ones unless it’s something you’re really aching to taste =)

The Sauces

Urban Hot Pot has their own sauce bar which include soy sauce, peanut sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and lots of other sauces you can combine to make your own. My go-to is a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar… but you do you brah, you do you!

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The Extras

There’s also a bar for “sides” and desserts. Urban Hot Pot also has a frozen yogurt machine – a little tip – keep eating the hot pot stuff, the froyo is just ok.

My Thoughts

So I’ve been to Urban Hot Pot a few times and here are some tips as well as pros and cons.

Tips

Urban Hot Pot opens at 12pm. Get there at 11:45am so you can sit right away and pick out the middle booths you want. Otherwise, you may have to wait 2 hours since they give people 2 hours to eat all they can!

If you do get lucky and sit in the middle section, you want the 4 seater… the 6 seater is big but harder to get to the conveyor belt and the iPad (for ordering) located near the conveyor belt.

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The tables that are not in the middle uses iPads to get the orders. Look through the choices. Make sure you scroll left and right as well so you can see all the choices you have.

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Pros

The thing that stands out with Urban Hot Pot is the ordering through iPad. Once you master this, service is pretty good. It’s not only a way to order food, but you can also use the iPad to get more napkins, get some drinks, or if you just need to ask them a question – these options are on the iPad.

The conveyor belt is great because you don’t even have to use the iPad to order stuff. Just wait for whatever you want to come to you, and there you go!

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You get your own bowl of broth in Urban Hot Pot! They fill it up any time you want (within those 2 hours). I know in some places, the bowl is in the middle of the table and people just share the broth. So it’s kind of nice having your own so you can pick what type of broth you want.

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Cons

Urban Hot Pot is probably not the most kid-friendly of places. By “kid” I mean 5 and below. I mean it’s a pot of hot soup  right in front of you. It takes time to “cook” the food and what toddler likes to wait and not touch anything while waiting.

The bigger tables have 1 iPad for the whole crew. So unless someone is ok ordering for everyone the whole dinner, then some people may get frustrated.

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Overall

I do really like this place. I would definitely go here again and again. Give it a go! It’s a good place to try. Also, I love hot pots so I guess this review is biased toward hot pot places. But I truly enjoyed eating here. I took my time and just chugged along.

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Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Filipino Food 101: Picadillo – Inay’s Recipe

It’s been a while since I wrote up a recipe for anything! My mom came to visit over the weekend and we had some time for her to teach me one of my favorite Filipino foods. It’s not fancy, it’s probably not something you’ll find in a Filipino restaurant, and it’s probably not something someone will think of when you ask them what their favorite Filipino food is. But I love it because it’s easy to make and it’s comfort food for me especially in the cooler months. Anyway, get excited! Here’s how she makes picadillo!

What is Picadillo?

This dish is a stew that consists of ground beef, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas that was inspired by the Spaniards when they colonized the Philippines. However, my mom’s version is way different and I love it just the way it is.

My mom’s picadillo doesn’t consist of potatoes, carrots and peas, and instead of ground beef, we use ground turkey. So it really is nothing like the “original.”  But I love it and I wanted to share it with you! It’s easy to make and it has veggies and great for toddlers!

Ingredients

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 16 oz cans of chicken broth (you can get the less sodium one if you want)
  • Spinach or Bok Choy (if you use bok choy, chop it up to smaller pieces so it’s easier to cook)

Instructions

  1. Wash all produce.
  2. Mince garlic cloves, dice the tomato and onion.

  3. On medium high heat, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the minced garlic and diced onion in a large pan until it’s fragrant and the onions are shiny.

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  4. Add the tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are soft and cooked through. E wanted to “help” so I let her stir during this time. She subsequently got tired of stirring after 2 minutes and said “Mommy, you can do this now.” Thanks for the help bud!

  5. Add the ground turkey and cook through. Then add salt and pepper to taste*. There’s no measurements here. You just gotta taste it and make sure it’s not bland. Keep in mind that the chicken broth will also add saltiness!

  6. Then add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. This helps with the turkey absorbing some of the flavor from everything in the pan.

  7. Add the spinach or the bok choy and increase heat until it boils. Then decrease heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked but not wilted.

*You can use salt or my mom will sometimes use fish sauce to taste… don’t knock it til you try it I say 😉

How to Eat

You can either eat picadillo over rice or quinoa or just by itself! There are no rules! You do you!

I especially made this dish a lot (well my version… not my mom’s) when I was trying to incorporate veggies into the kids’ meals. It’s hard for me to think up of dishes to get greens into their system, so I’m glad I got picadillo up my sleeves.

Anyway, hope you enjoy picadillo as much as I do. It’s quick and easy so give it a try!

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Check out other recipes in my “I Like Food” section of my blog.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs from giphy.com)

Badlands Playspace – Exploring Maryland

So here’s my first blog for my “Exploring Maryland” Series! And what better way to start off this series than something for parents and their kids! I’m talkin’ about Badlands Playspace! For the really hot days or the rainy days, this is the place to go to when you’re trying to get your kids out of the house! An indoor playground with built in activities for the kiddos? Yes please!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor am I affiliated with Badlands Playspace. This is literally just an honest to goodness review on this facility.

What is Badlands Playspace?

According to their website, Badlands Playspace is an indoor playground inspired by nature. It’s a 30,000 square foot facility that provides many activities for kids and for the parents to “relax in the café while the kids explore the open play area, climb the mountain, or tinker with a new tool.”

Pros and Cons

Before I go into the details, I may as well write the pros and cons in the beginning in case you don’t want to see all the details.

Pros:

  • Large play area
  • Toddler times during the fall so the larger kids don’t topple the little ones over
  • Different activities during the day to keep toddlers interested
  • Butterfly room – kids can explore and get real close to real butterflies!
  • Workshop room – for kids who don’t want to run around, there are many activities in the workshop
  • Complimentary Coffee/Water

Cons:

  • This can get pretty pricey
  • The website states that they do not allow outside food

Badlands Playspace

Before you go

Go online, fill out a waiver for each kid and then block out the time of when you’d like to go. Each admission gives you 2 hours of play, or if you’re a member, 3 hours of play.

The Space

Badlands Playspace is located on Randolph Rd in Rockville, MD. When you enter the facility, you can see that it’s a huge open space which is nice because it makes it seem like a very welcoming environment.

If you’ve already reserved your spot online before coming, you just go up to the counter and tell them the names of your children. They will ask if you’ve been there before and if you haven’t, they will ask if you’ve signed a waiver for your children (also online).

If you haven’t done any of those before coming, you can do so at the kiosk. They have 5-6 computers so you can register your children and sign the waiver. I do recommend registering your kids online and signing the waiver. It helps make things faster when you check in and going online shows you how crowded the space is and sometimes they do limit the number of kids at a time.

Open Playspace

The main area of Badlands Playspace is an open space that has tunnels and slides where kids can climb up a fake mountain to go down the slide. The only thing is, if you’re sitting in the cafe, you will not be able to see your kids if they’re on the other side of the mountain.

Toddler Space

Badlands Playspace really try to accommodate different ages. So they have a smaller space for toddlers so that they won’t get run over by the bigger kids. It’s right next to the cafe, so the parents can sit and “relax” while their toddler runs around this little space. Fair warning though. There are steps for climbing, so you won’t totally be relaxed if your little ones like climbing.

This is also one area where they come and have mini dance parties, which is nice so your kiddos can dance around while you get maybe a 5-10 minute break sitting at the cafe.

Workshop

If your kiddo is not into active play, there is a workshop for them where they can look at some pets that they have, play legos, and do other non-running activities. It also has huge windows that overlooks the small butterfly room so your kids can also take a look without going into the butterfly room itself.

Cafe

Coffee is complimentary! So is water! So that’s good. However, they do not allow outside food since they do sell food at the cafe. I’m not sure how much they enforce it. But I’m not a huge risk taker so I would bring some goldfish and water/milk for my kids and we eat on the way to Badlands Playspace and then right after we leave. To be honest, the kids are too busy playing anyway, so they don’t ask for food until we get into the car.

 

Birthday rooms

I don’t have great pictures of these rooms, but basically, you can host your kids’ birthday parties here and they set up your own room for the parties. They provide the food but I believe you can bring your own cake.

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Activities

Badlands Playspace also has tons of activities for toddlers this fall! Toddler times are Tuesdays-Thursdays from 10am-1pm. They have a yoga room where your kiddos can follow a yoga video. They also have an activities coordinator that help your children socialize with other kids.

There’s also a small butterfly room that is pretty cool! Your kids can take a closer look at butterflies as they fly around the room filled with plants and flowers.

 

Membership

Ok so let’s do the numbers. For general admission without membership, kids that are 3+ years old, it’s $20, 2-3 year olds are $12.50, adults are $5 each, and babies 0-12 months are free.

When you get the membership ($20/month for 1 kid, $30/month for 2 kids, $35/month for 3 kids or more), the general admission will be 50%, the adults are free, 3 hours of play (instead of 2 hours for non members), 20% discount at the cafe, and a free guest pass (1 kid and an adult) if you visit 3 times a month.

Is it Worth it?

Well, for one kid (3+ years old), it’s $25-30 per visit without a membership (depending on how many adults come). With a membership, it’s $10 per visit. So if you go twice a month, you’ve already made it worth it ($50-60 vs. $40).

For two kids (3+ years old), it’s $45-$50 per visit without a membership. With a membership, it’s $20 per visit. So if you go at least twice a month, you’ve already made up the difference ($90-$100 vs. $70).

So yes, I’d say it’s pretty worth it if you like the place =).

Bottom Line

Because of the weather these days, if your kids love the playground, this is a great place to go to. Yes, it’s a little expensive compared to free outdoor playgrounds. However, Badlands Playspace is really great to visit at least once. Save it for the days when you just need to get your kids out of the house if you must, but definitely give it a shot and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed =).

Good for parents? Yes
Good for kids? Yes
Good for the wallet? Ehhh? lol

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)