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(well we had a bit of fun before the epidemic became a global pandemic)
This pandemic nonsense had us out of touch for a wee bit.
Kells has been diligently updating our IG.
Nals has not been doing a whole heckuva lot creatively-speaking. Nals hasn’t been super inspired and TBH was in a rut. When restrictions loosened up last year, the P-N-dubs was knee-deep in summer and there were some muses about town.
So let’s rewind to Feb 2020: before the pandemic closed the borders and restricted our lifestyles.
Miss Kells, Cutie T & I took a jaunt down to Portland for a girl’s weekend. It was Cutie T’s first time! And in true N&K fashion, we ate and drunk up a storm. Here is a brief review of the pubs we visited.
We discovered this pub-club by looking online. They had drag queen trivia night scheduled online, but when we arrived, we realized their socials were not regularly updated. The night wasn’t as exciting as we had hoped, but we had a couple beers after dinner and enjoyed a bit of music.
We had opportunity to take a girl’s trip to Portland🔗 recently.
And of course we had to pop in to sample a bit of somethin’ somethin’ at the infamous Voodoo Donuts🔗.
Voodoo Donut’s crazy decor and outrageous flavour combos go right along with the city’s slogan “Keep Portland Weird”.
for more info on stumptown’s classy slogan, click here🔗.
We got there around 9 pm. The lineup was only about 20 minutes. Warning that it can be as long as 2 hours. Since they’re open 24 hours, we suggest checking in on the lineups… and go later if it’s nutso.
We got: -guava colada: kapow guava in centre and soft coconut donut surrounds. -mango tango: yep it’s mango jelly and is fluffier. -dirty old bastard: PB&C have joined forces, firmer texture like a fritter. -portland cream: like the Boston cream but not custard. It was an indescribable flavour. We’d skip this. -maple bacon: yep exactly like it sounds. This will be your jam if you enjoy maple syrup waffles with a side o’ pig strips. -apple fritter: classic and a goodie.
K&I have healthy appetites. But one Voodoo donut could easily feed 2 or 3 folks.
Read about our other Palm Springs adventures and reviews here
We had no reservation and came at dinner time. We were seated outside the kitchen, but with a view of outside patio. This was a great vantage point for people-watching. Restaurant was dimly-lit restaurant. There was that comforting din of murmurs, cutlery clinking, busy-ery. Walls were decorated with pictures of crooners, The Godfather, other Italian ex-pats. There was also a piano player and singer. Our pony-tailed curliqued friend was really good!
Efficient, pleasant but not too chit-chatty. They were incredibly observant. As they were leaving or coming back into the kitchen, various staff picked up our excess dishes, or offered cutlery. I love when people work as a team. This makes me feel supported, and like anyone on the team can (& will) help.
Starter: Crab-stuffed Mushrooms. These were good but not stellar. All dinners also come with garlic toast. This was toast-tastically flavourful, crispy. We had to get a second basket.
Nals’s dish: Risotti Con Funghi. Nals isn’t into shiitake but this dish wasn’t shiitty at all. Risotto was delightfully toothy. “Sauce” was creamy and just coated the rice for perfect separation and flavour. And the con funghi flavour was bang on!
Kells’s dish: Ravioli d’Aragosta: delicious vodka horgonzola cream sauce with 3 large freshly-made ravioli. These monster ravioli were filled with mega lobster. Good flavour contrast of sauce and filling.
Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode. Moist, flavourful and rich. Worth every bite.
Recommendation is 100%
Hands down, no question: if you are in Palm Springs and want a delicious Italian dinner: you must go to Castelli’s🔗.
Nals and Kells went on their annual October birthday girls getaway. This time, they flew to Palm Springs, and stayed at Marriott Bonvoy Indian Wells🔗.
Kells has been there a few times already. But this was Nals’s first time.
Kells’s review is here🔗
Vanity* got us a lovely newly reno’d mountain view room (on a side that wasn’t going to get construction done on the following day – how thoughtful!). Staff are kind and respectful from front desk, valet, bell hop, pool staff & wait staff.
Thanks to Vanity for our fab birthday surprise
Construction warning After 30 years, this joint is getting a rehaul! So, there is noise & water-stoppage 7am-4pm in certain areas. We had a room on corner so hardly heard construction. There was some noise when in commons. The in-room water disruption was: some coolish shower water on day 2 (despite using the hotel’s techniques), odd noises when flushing the toilet & turning on shower water for first time. When we were at the pool, we were unable to use the bathroom** in the fitness/pool area. Otherwise, minimal disruption.
Hotel is huge with lots of nooks and crannies to explore: bar, restaurant, ballrooms, fitness centre, stores, spa, parking area, hallways, outdoor seating area with evening firepits, outdoor fountain, lawns, lagoon, …and the errant roadrunner.
Pool lounge by day, firepit hangout by evening
aeriel view of inside concourse (top floor)
Another concourse view
Kells saw an errant roadrunner near this lagoon
Note that the fitness room is available with the resort fee.
Towels: dry off or cool down
They have 3 pools. 1 for kidlets with a faux beach (& beach toys). Bar (with loungechair service) available. 2 small hot tubs. Plenty of lounge chairs. Towels available at pool.
Kidlet pool with faux beach
Service by Joel was friendly and non intrusive. Nachos, Corona and the BLT (with avo & turkey) with fries were delicious!
Our room had a balcony, loveseat, small glass dining table & chairs, TV, double sinks, fabulous pillows, comfy AF mattress, hair dryer, Aveda toiletries, mini fridge and Keurig. They supplied coffee & tea pods, condiments, paper cups and water glasses.
2 tyoes of lighting
Mountain view with balcony
We missed . . .
There is no cutlery, mugs or microwave. We would’ve liked a bit more counterspace and dimmable lighting.
Rooms are huge. Renos are lovely. Hotel is large but warm. Staff are fabulous.
We would absolutely stay here again.
Footnotes: *Vanity surprised us with a lovely handwritten birthday card, a chilled bottle of champers and a plate of unbelievably delicious chocolate-covered strawberries. **Canadian term. American term is “restroom”. You will be made fun of if you call the crapper a “bathroom” in the USA.
Their website states “The Super Sizer Mascara gives you 400% more corner-to-corner volume for full, fanned out lashes. Our amazing Lash Styler transforms even small lashes— just twirl as you apply it to your lashes for an instantly Super Sized lash look. Opthalmologically tested, suitable for those who wear contact lenses”.
Reviews on their site 🔗are basically favourable at 88% (1161 reviews). Covergirl has suggested they contact Customer Service to remedy an unfavorable situation, if a reviewer mentions it. People might respond to this with of course they would because they don’t want bad PR. But, it takes time to read each review and respond accordingly°.
I curl before and after applying mascara**. Mascara holds the curl well through out the day.
Product colour is black, which helps the look of fuller lashes. But since it clumps with >2 layers, there’s not a lot of thickening effect.
Due to flared brush with bristles in a spiral formation (like DNA or pineapple seeds), application is best when you follow instructions on the package.
✓Mascara didn’t interfere with my contact lenses. ✓This particular tube had staying power and was waterproof. ×But it stuck on like a SOB. I use an oil-based facial cleanser (such as Julep’s Love Your Bare Face🔗). I tried all-sorts like soaking my lashes with Julep cleanser then gently rubbing to lift up product. I used makeup remover before cleanser… And then tried after. I tried to triple wash my lashes. And there were days that I didn’t get all of it off. I still haven’t found the best method because each time is slightly different.
My right eye is mascara’d
My right eye is mascara’d
This is not a good mascara for a newbie/novice due to the application instructions and difficulty of removal.
For the experienced mascara-ista… I probably would not recommend it again due to difficulty of removal and clumping properties.
Footnotes * formerly known as Mascara Monday ° To give you guys an idea, it probably takes Kells and I a couple hours to post and publish ONE post. Formatting, uploading pictures, viewing and re-editting take scads of time. Add additional time to take photos, picking topics and then writing. So, both N&K appreciate how much work goes into it. However, the varied comments on Makeup Alley give us pause. Why are comments different on the CoverGirl vs. MUA site? Hmmm… ** MUAs might balk at this double curling, as the curler could pull lashes out after mascara-ing. But I curl when mascara is dry as a bone. If you double curl, don’t do it wet!
The Mr was my designated driver so I only went to a couple wineries in the area. Lake Country has a whole host of wineries including Gray Monk Estate Winery.
Tastings are $5-7 for 5. You can choose from a selection of say 10 wines. If you purchase bottles, then the fee is typically used towards the purchase.
Blind Tiger is a newer winery. It is a small family run certified organic winery that opened to the public in 2015.
My sommelier* was fantastic. He was a young energetic fellow who excitedly talked about the various wine-related outtings that he had recently been on. He was an absolute delight! He asked what wines I like, suggested some and off we went. He was the perfect sommelier: funny, warm and also left room for me to explore the tasting notes.
Where to buy: Only through their winery or virtual store.
At Blind Tiger I got: Pinot Gris (2017), Reserve Pinot Noir (2017) & Speakeasy Red (2014).
Ex Nihilo has great range of wines and especially full-bodied reds.
Tasting wasn’t the nicest experience. It was a larger bustling winery. The sommelier’s lukewarm detached demeanor led me to one conclusion: That she was a rogue ex-operative from an Archer-esque outfit… and her arch nemesis Barry finally got her 20**.
Where to buy: since the ex-operative was not chatty, I have no idea if they have shops that carry their goods in the GVA.
At Ex Nihilio, I got: Chaos Rosso Red (2018) and Reisling (2017).
I loved Blind Tiger because they were friendly & non-pretentious. Reminded me of the delightful Les Corcelettes in Oliver.
El Nihilo had delicious wines as well, but this was not a warm and fuzzy tasting experience. I also wanted to buy the Voignier… but both the tasting & purchase was reserved for “members”. I don’t know what this means but the sommelier didn’t invite or tell me how to become a member. I guess as long one leaves with delicious bottles of wine… What else matters?
I would recommend drinking wines from both vineyards.
However, the tasting experience was far more enjoyable at Blind Tiger and so I’ll be plugging them whenever I can!
Let’s Play Footsie-notes *Not sure if sommelier is the correct term. I thought it was better than Taster Guy or Taster Attendant. **The Ex Nihilio sommelier wasn’t rude per se. She answered my questions albeit in a detached fashion… with an underlying je ne sais quoi. Something else clearly had her attention. Eyes darted around, preoccupied energy, latency of responses… The only conclusion is that her rival finally sniffed out her shoddily-disguised witness protection deets.
Well it started off in the 80s in France with a french dude who wanted to host an elegant outdoor dinner. He asked his buddies to meet at the park but dressed in white, to be easily identifiable.
Then… His son started the tradition in Montreal 30 years later. It trickled into Le Grand Pomme… And now it’s in like 80 cities, worldwide.
The Registration Process.
You put your name down for Vancouver’s DeB waiting list. (We did this in Winter 2018),
You’ll be emailed 3 more times with VIP RSVP dates (different invitation levels May-July),
Once you get to level 3, you choose your Table/Team Leads, meeting location and if you’d like: booze and nibbles.
We ordered our wine and food.
In the uncovered box was a nice blueberry cheesecake. Mayhaps not the best colour choice for a white dinner.
The Day-Of Travel
When we registered, I didn’t know if Kells was working so I figured the best thing to do was to choose Skytrain option. (We both live near-ish to stops.) But it was evening rush hour and we got some snarkerton looks**. Some peeps smiled and asked if we were going to “that white party”.
Not gonna lie, N&K’ers: travel was onerous. But, we’ve got some workarounds for next year.
The Location is revealed only after everyone in your group has arrived.
L e E v e n t
After setting up, it became evident why this was popular.
3500 folks sat in carefully arranged rows of personalized tables – different food, centrepieces, candles, disHes, attire.
We brought our own tables. But, since they were all the same shape/size with the white dressings, the whole thing looked like one seemless En Blanc party. And if there’s one thing Nals enjoys, it’s symmetry.¶
Once all folks were set up, we started off with the napkin wave. Then we tucked in.
When I was in Home Economics in highschool, I loved the din at the end of the class when we’d sit, eat and talk. It was warm, enveloping and cozy. The low conversational murmur, infectious laughter occasionally breaking through, soft clinks of cutlery and glass… That’s exactly what DeB reminded me of.
Because the N&K Team & Table Leaders were organized, we were set up in great time. We chatted with our lovely teammates.
We had a special guest that evening: DeB royalty Francois and his wife. It was her birthday and Francois serenaded her. He was probably a bit tipsy, and the singing was a bit off-key but it was the ballsy thought that counts.
When it was dark enough, we ended off with a magical moment: the signature group sparklers.
When it was dark enough, we ended off with a magical moment: the signature group sparklers.
DeB criticisms include pretentious,classist, overpriced, not family friendly and lost the original intent. Kids are not allowed on-site due to alcohol. But other than that, we found that there were a variety of folks there. Some were dressed in simple whites and other tables had lavish lights and overhead deco.
N&K can tell you is that it was a fun, friendly, magical evening. We will definitely be doing it again next year.
Footnotes *Bring Your Own Everything like food, real cutlery, tables, chairs, table linens and centrepieces. Note that alcohol can only be purchased through DeB. **Not because we had so much stuff but because we looked so cultishly regal in our blanc ensembles. ¶ This could be because I like to organize things or maybe it’s a facet of biology.
We bought all mascara ourselves (which means nobody is paying us).
We wear each mascara for at least 1 week.
All mascaras purchased were black… and the darkest black they had available.
Every mascara used was put on the exact same way, with only 2 coats.
This is just our 2 cents. This opinion is ours…take it or leave it. Believe it or not.
What do we want in a mascara?
In a mascara, we typically discuss the following points: Lengthen, Volumize, Separation, Curl and Thicken.
Everything was initially fantastic. Long lashes for dayzzz. However after a month, I noticed that the product clumped on my lashes. And, at the end of the day, flakes fell into my eyes. I typically use several thin coats plus another mascara. For this tube, I only can do 2-3 thin coats. This product falls short on volumizing and thickening. So, I tried to pair it with another volumizing mascara. And again, I got clumped.
The brush picks up a lot of product. You must ensure that swipe off as much of the product as can before application. (That is, make sure you can see lots of the pink brush showing through.) Fair warning: this brush is a poke hazard.
The bristly brush and product lengthen & separate. As such, Rimmel Wonder’fully Real Mascara is a good lengthener and separator. It also keeps the curl. (One must use a lash curler!)
An interesting thing
I felt like sporting the au naturel look a lot with this mascara. At first I thought it was due to the emergence of the PNW summer sun. (The summer makes me feel more like a let’s-skip-work-and-soak-up-some-sun bronzed goddess than a dramatic eye queen.) Or, maybe I was too lazy to add liner? But, I finally figured out why… I noticed that the brush/product inadvertently builds colour at upper water line. Which is fantastic for an au naturel look. And fantastic that Nals was inspired to keepnit low-key.
Contrast: Left eye is mascara’d. Right is nekkid eye.
The ugly truth is that it’s really hard to get a mascara with all of these features. Which is why I typically use 2 mascaras on every application. But I got clumped when I tried to pair this mascara with a volumizer.
Additionally this mascara is hard to remove. After washing, you’ll need to get in there with a cotton-tipped wand.
Nals and the Mr felt like a spot of brunch one weekend. And, we happened upon Bruncheria Cafe … so in we went. And we were not disappointed.
Hey guess what?! N&K has a new contest starting later today. For more details on the “Win a $50 Bruncheria Cafe Meal” Contest Rules, just click here.
Casual seating, some areas have wooden benches with comfy cushions. It’s a large airy warmly lit space. Kitchen area is blocked off by a waist-high counter but you can watch the cooks prepare your meal. The service is easy going and friendly. Their inspiration is to have a family-style brunch atmosphere with a European twist.
The menu has changed since we were last there. Besides the usual delicious fare like Bacon & Eggs and Berry Cream Pancakes, they offer a Yo-conut Yogurt Fruit parfait, Sweet Toast Trio and Pulled Pork Pancakes. The Sweet and Spicy sounds fascinating.
Bruncheria Menu has delightfully unusual items and combinations. And the menu itself is laid out well: pictures with clear descriptions
They have a bevy of beverages: made-to-order espresso drinks, teas and cold drinks.
We both ordered Bacon & Sausage Omelette with a side Greek Salad.
Food was delicious. Plates were well seasoned with fresh ingredients. They were simple but complimentary flavours. I loved their Chimichurri Toast – mmm garlic green goodness on crispy toast!
On our next visit, I’ll order one of the following: Probably The Best Brunch Sandwich Ever, Brunch Bowl with Hollandaise and the Build Your Own Brunch.
Best brunch sandwich ever – photo credit: Bruncheria Cafe
Location & Parking
Located on Columbia with paid street parking and easy access to transit.
Bruncheria Cafe just finished their first year in business. To celebrate, they’ll be posting an IG contest, with a delicious prize.
After brunch, go window shopping along Columbia, explore the Quay then take a stroll along the water. Or, just head down to the casino for a bit of blackjack.
A very special thank you to Dan and his team at Bruncheria for collaborating with us! He provided us with these beautiful pictures, and the Giveaway opportunity. Click here for entry details later today.
On our way to Leavenworth, we stopped off for road trip snacks at Target in Bellis Fair. We kept seeing ads for the new Morphe eyeshadow palettes.
Kells & I love makeup, and are pretty well-versed on brands. But we hadn’t heard of Morphe. And we were defo intrigued. Then Nals spotted one of the cashiers sporting mesmerizing coral-pink salmon-berry eye makeup. After almost-creep-status staring, Nals complimented her. She beamed and whispered, with the confidence of a makeup seductress, “Morphe*”.
Of course we booted off to Ulta Beauty. And right up front, with a resplendant shining halo, was the Morphe display.
What’s the deal with Morphe?
Morphe is a company featuring professional-grade products at an affordable price. It came to Ulta Beauty in October 2017. (Unfortunately, Ulta is not in Canada.) But a year later, Morphe made its debut in Canada at Sephora.
Why welcome to Canadian soil, Morphe.
So did we get some?
Hells yeah we did! Kells got a deliciously rich red matte lippie.
I picked up a concealer. And, I got Boss Mood which features metallics and mattes in purps, berries and greens. Having seen our previous pictures, in case you didn’t pick up on it: I looooove colour. When not at work, I am pretty adventurous with eyeshadow application.
Cutie T is building her eye makeup collection and got a neutral nude palette plus a Morphe eyeshadow primer.
Ulta’s atmosphere is between that of a Sephora and a drugstore, but closer to latter. Testers were available but MUAs, mirrors, tissues, applicators were in short supply. I think the concealer was not the best match for me. But it’ll do for now.
Application & Wear
The actual product was easy to apply and blend. Eyeshadow needs to be built up to get the desired effect. I find that because of my darker skin tone, most shadows/liners need to be layered on. And there’s some fallout especially with the Morphe glitters.
I’m glad I got the 24USD eye palette. It’s definitely worth it! Boss Mood is good for folks who are adventurous. But palette still contains some neutrals and basics, too. I was also eyeing the full Fall into Frost and a mini neon palette.
Morphe has a good selection of small, full and quad eye palettes. They’ve also got singles. They have a fairly good selection of concealers for dark and porcelain skin tones.
What are you waiting for? Go forth and explore Morphe, N&Kers!
Footnotes: The cashier pronounced “Morphe” as more-fee (as in morphine) but we think it’s pronounced morfh (as in the caterpillar will morphe into a butterfly). Interestingly, one of the staffers at Leavenworth Village Inn pronounced the word “chic” as chick, rather than French way sheek. American adorableness!