Wednesday, July 1, 2015

RIONA DOES MOMMY'S MAKE UP

Its no mystery as to how much of a Make Up Buff I am. I love Make up, I dream about make up, I write about make up. I am mostly a self taught make up artists and have learnt so much from this whom I have watched in close quitters, Yes, I come from a  film family in India, with both my grandmas being popular and important in the Bollywood and Tollywood circuits respectively. I have grown up seen the power of the Red Lipstick on these lovely ladies. Then there is my Mom. The perfect Diva if there ever is. Her ma dup is always on point and she would not even step put for gravers without a touch of her favorite lipsticks.

So another generation takes this love forward, it needs to be documented right. Here's my lovely daughter Riona, doing my make up, when I had tried to sneak in a nap. Her touch was a blessing to my fever ridden brain and it was such a joy to see her tiny fingers working up a magic. Here's a sneak peak from what I could capture with my cell phone.

Enjoy !!!



  Ω



Sunday, June 28, 2015

P. F . CHANG'S CHINA BISTRO, KC : EATING OUT : FATHER'S DAY DINNER


 

It was ages since we had dined at P. F .Chang. You always tend to overlook the obvious choices and go for the fancier ones. But there are times, when you want to get back to the familiar places and have some good old family time. So some of my mom friends and me decided to treat the Dads for Fathers Day. And as it was a surprise and all the Dads have very different tastes in food, we thought of sticking to common grounds. Everyone likes Chinese, right. P. F . Chang's it was. It also meant that we could all squeeze in some typical KC Photos with the Plaza Fountains before or after dinner, if the girls were in the mood for it.

It was almost a year after we went to P F Chang's. It always holds a special place for me, and my expectations were pretty high.

They had a new menu for smaller plates, but we opted for the regular menu as we were 12 of us(including hungry children), and surely needed bigger and wholesome helpings.

We started off with SALT AND PEPPER CALAMARI, CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAP AND DYNAMITE SHRIMP. The Calamari was tender and not rubbery and just had a hint of seasoning. I could do with a  lil more salt. I personally prefer the Beef Lettuce Wrap but the chicken one didn't disappoint. The disappointment started with the Dynamite Shrimp. It used to be served in a Martini glass and used to have a good hint of spice to  it. The current version was served in a plate with some crisps. And it was clawingly sweet. Did I mention I hate my non vegetarian fare to be sweet. It somehow kills my appetite for me. But I let it go, thinking, that maybe it was one dish which was bad. But I was clearly mistaken on that. It was just the beginning of the food disasters which were to follow. So much for a special night huh !

SALT AND PEPPER CALAMARI
DYNAMITE SHRIMP
CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAP
For the main course we ordered CHANG'S FRIED RICE, SINGAPORE STREET NOODLES, HUNAN FISH, CHANG'S SPICY CHICKEN and GARLIC NOODLES.

CHANG'S FRIED RICE
Chang's Fried Rice was nice and light and the kids seemed to love it. We had requested that our food be MSG free as with kids and allergies its best not to take chances.  It was almost like a typical egg Fried Rice that you might find at every Chinese joint across the globe. Nothing special about it.

The Singapore Street Noodles always make me feel as if I am on a vacation. I have never been to South East Asia, but whenever I taste this noodles, it makes me feel thats this is what street food would taste in that part of the world. The shrimps in the Singapore Street Noodles were a decent size and overall the noodles packed a punch in terms of taste.

I hate food photography with flash, but the restaurant had really bad lighting in its private dining area,so had to use flash for some photographs. My apologies for that.

SINGAPORE STREET NOODLES
HUNAN FISH
If the Dynamite Shrimp was a let down, then the Hunan Fish and Chang's Spicy Chicken were a disaster. First of all they tasted exactly similar. It was almost tasted like both had been doused in the same sauce and just plated differently. This was clearly not the first time for us in P F Chang, so we know our sauces and at least their signature dishes. Secondly, both the fish and the chicken were super sweet.  What's with the name tag of Spicy and having a Chili sign next to the entry on the menu.

CHANG'S SPICY CHICKEN

With kids and four families, we had to re-order a few things. So we opted for LOBSTER FRIED RICE and another round of SINGAPORE STREET NOODLES.

The Lobster fried rice was a nice and buttery and the natural sweetness of the lobster was a good compliment to the fried rice. It was pretty balanced and I could make a meal out of just this.



But the star of the show was surely an old favorite of ours, which luckily still is good. Its GARLIC NOODLES.  These are noodles, which are cooked with a heady mount of garlic then tossed with ed chili flakes and served with cucumber juliennes to cool it all down. Its a vegetarian noodle dish, but its so good, that you can actually eat plate full of it. The noodles have a good kick to them, and while you might feel hot, you will still reach out for more.
GARLIC NOODLES

We finished off dinner with huge slices of decadent CHOCOLATE CAKE which I decorated with some candles, to make it more apt for the occasion.  The Restaurant didn't have any candles even for special occasions.

It was a great time with friends and family, as Four Dads celebrated their special day together. But in terms of food and service, P F Chang's has literally gone down the hill. What was the need to re-formulate the recipes of popular dishes which everyone loves so much. And our server was so in his own world and didn't do anything to make the special time a bit more special. This is clearly not the service one expects from a chain like P F Chang. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NYX BUTTER LIPSTICK : REVIEW: BEAUTY



Thank you so much for the great response for my last post on DRUG STORE BEAUTY MUST HAVES. Many of you wrote to me, asking for a few more posts related to Drug Store Beauty deals, picks and reviews. So I decided ,why not. Lets try to stick to a budget for some time.

NYX Butter Lipsticks have been around for quite some time, but it took me time to venture down that road. On an ULTA HAUL not too long ago, I picked up three colors: A Red, a Coral and a Hot Pink. If I had to see how a type of lipstick performed, I needed to test out a few colors from the collection.



A good part of NYX Cosmetics is that they have Testers at ULTA. Which just makes me a kid in the candy store with so many options. Drug Store Beauty items in the US do not have Testers, so the few brands which do provide testers, are surely a welcome change. I tend to gravitate towards Brighter colors, so that made me literally switch out every bright color in the collection.Could have also been the entire collection.I must have gone a bit overboard.


I picked out FIREBALL , JUJU AMULET and RAZZLE FIESTA. 

As the name suggests, the lipsticks are very buttery. They do not drag across the lips at all. One of my biggest problems with Drug store lipsticks is that some of them tend to drag across the lips a lot. This was soft and was really gliding across. I was applying them straight from the bullet rather than using a lip brush. 

The packaging is helpful. The Lipstick bullet is colored in the same color as the shade it hold inside. That make sit easier to sort through a bunch of lipsticks in my lipstick drawer. If you are like me, you will have multiple colors from any collection of lipsticks, so it makes organizing easier. You do not have to pick out every bullet to find out the color you want to wear. 

Coming down to color pay off and pigmentation. They are very highly pigmented for the price they come for. The reds and pinks are brighter than the lighter shades. They did last for a long time when I had worn all three colors. 
FIREBALL

Now for the individual colors I picked out. Lets start with FIREBALL which is the coral shade in the trio. Its a very universally flattering shade I feel. A perfect Summer color. Its almost like a creamsicle color and has a nice shine to it. I had worn it for a whole day, for a barbecue out in the sun,and the color really stayed put.

RAZZLE FIESTA
RAZZLE FIESTA is a bluish hot pink.Almost like a neon Barbie pink. This has to be the favorite of the colors I picked up. Its one of those statement colors which is enough to take an outfit from drab to great. But this color can bleed.So I used a lipliner to outline the lips to prevent it from bleeding. This cold is almost Demi Matte and does not have the shine like the other two colors.

JUJU AMULETTE

The color I was let down by, was the Red I had picked up: JUJU AMULETTE . Not because its a bad lipstick, but because I prefer blue toned Reds,and this was not. This Red I felt was a bit of a dated shade. When I wore it, I felt like I was looking like I had stepped out from the 1980s. But personal biases aside, its a great shade of red to whomever might like. As with all the colors, its got great color pay off and I did get many compliments as well. this color also has a great shine to it, like the coral shade. Maybe because I like my Reds matte, I was put off a bit by it 

Now for the question of whether I will venture further and get any more shades from this collection. I think I will. I am fairly impressed by his drug store beauty and want to try out the Nudes in the collection. I have seen a friend of mine swear by the nudes of this collection and its high time, I gave them a try.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL


Happy Father's Day to my Dad and my Baby's Dad !!! Special days require a special post, don't they. These are days which make you feel how far you are away from your family and how it doesn't get any easier with the years rolling by.

Last year,after any many years, I had the opportunity  of spending Father's Day with my Father in Kolkata, India. We were invited for lunch and also dinner at two of my Maternal Uncle's homes in the suburbs. So I hatched a plan with my cousins. Got in a cake and had my Dad and two of his Brothers -in -Law celebrate Father's Day with their kids. It is one memory, I really hold close to my  heart. Its all about making the most of every moment that I get for my trips back to India. So this Father's Day, when me and my Dad are in two different continents, I had to make do with just a  phone call, a blog post and looking at the pictures from las year, a few dozen times.





But it came with a flip side. While I was celebrating with my Dad, my daughter and her Dad were into different continents. I called in a favor with some friends of our sin KC, who made the day special for him. And Me and my daughter had his gift with him, in our bags, when we boarded that long flight home.

My Father is one person, who is very special in more ways than one. And no, I am not saying that because I am his daughter. Have a word with people who have truly known him over the years and they will give you a similar response. As a Dad, I know he is and will always be more than perfect. He let go of plush promotions at work, because that would have entailed him traveling across the country for a larger part of every month. Which in turn, would cut down drastically on the amount of time. he got to spend with me and my younger brother. Family Life as he always told us, is a choice we make, and its up to us, how we choose to live by that choice. He believes in giving more than 100 percent to it, till date.

He is an extremely knowledgeable man and what me and my brother have imbibed from him, is probably 10 percent of his knowledge base. Throw the man, any topic under the sun. I kid you not. And He would be able to talk about it and what he would speak would have you asking for more. Be it Wines or be it how should a hot dog be grilled, to the latest model of Lamborghini, you will be just amazed when you start talking to him. An extremely Well-Read Man to be precise.

 He always taught us the importance of being a better person than being just a successful person. And thats one thing, I wish to imbibe in my daughter. How to value a human being as a human being, is  something the world is greatly lacking these days.


So many qualities which are a signature part of the character of Me and my Younger brother, are all from him. My brother and I have rescued so many abandoned animals al across, and now my brother is carrying on that work. Its no surprise that both my parents are avid animal lovers. My father rescued an abused pup, and the way he groomed that baby, it became the best possible family dog I have ever seen. So its no surprise that Riona runs to pet and hug Dogs triple her size.

I love you Baba !! Thank you so much of everything that you do so perfectly, for all of us, all the time. And as they say, THE BEST DADS GET PROMOTED TO BEING GRANDDADS.  You're a fabulous GRANDDAD to my daughter and am sure you will continue the fabulousness to the nephew/neice of mine who, we will meet in a few months. Cheers Dad !!!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

FOOD TRUCK FRENZY, LENEXA: EATING OUT



Who doesn't love fairs or food fests. I know I do. So when my friend Amanda had mentioned on social media that she would be attending a food fest, I went ahead to check what the event was all about. The social media page dedicated to the event was pretty descriptive and it clearly made it easier for me to decide that my weekend plans were made. I passed on the info to my Foodie friends all of whom said Yes. We were all set.



The Food Truck Frenzy - Spring 2015 was organized in conjunction with the ground breaking ceremony of the Lenexa City Center.  There was to be a follow up of the event in October. There were 12 Food Trucks which were parked on a long stretch : 

BEAUTY OF THE BISTRO
THE FUNNEL CAKE TRUCK
KC BBQ TRUCK
SAVANNA SWEETS
CAJUN CABIN
PLANTAIN DISTRICT
JAZZY B'S
MONK'S ROAST BEEF
INDIO'S CARBONSITOS
WILMA'S REAL GOOD FOOD
SWEET CAROLINE'S ICE BOX
STREET WINGS











The lines in front of every truck seemed like big serpents crawling across Lenexa. It was confusing even to understand at first which line was leading to which truck. I had made up my mind, that upon arrival the first thing I would do, was to pick up a fancy cocktail or at least a beer for me and the man, while we browsed over the menus. That didn't quite happen. There was only one alcohol vendor and the line was crazy. The crowd made it seem like a major huge chunk of KC Metro had descended over there. The Food Trucks were trying their best to cater to the huge lines of hungry people, but clearly they were outnumbered. The number of people versus the number of trucks at the event was clearly disproportionate. so the average wait time at every truck was around 1 hour. Pretty bad, as the event was only one from 5 to 9 pm. 





There were tents after every two trucks,which had been equipped with chairs and tables. I ventured around a bit,as the man stood in a line. Most of our friends divided themselves among lines for different trucks. I had the toddler with me, so my movements were pretty restricted. We settled down in the tent close to the truck selling Cuban sandwiches (so most of our pictures are centered round there). 

By the time, we had access to the food, we were all too hungry to wait for me to take decent pics of each. Midway during our meal ,I decided to have a go at taking some food pics. It was a food fest after all,and we had waited enough. 





Fries with Poutine,  Jambalaya from CAJUN CABIN, Cheese Burger from BEAUTY OF THE BISTRO(I had wanted a Banh Mii, but they were sold out), Strawberry Smoothie, Chicken Wings from STREET WINGS, Funnel Cake from THE FUNNEL CAKE TRUCK: We had an eclectic mix of food laid out in front of the make shift table of ours.



 But what blew my brains away and knocked my socks off, was surely the CUBAN SANDWICH from PLANTAIN DISTRICT. That is one Food truck I am surely gonna track in KC. It almost took me back to Little Havana in Miami. Perfection in very bite. I could eat that for breakfast,lunch and dinner. 






The CAJUN WINGS from STREET WINGS were my second favorite. They had the right amount of spice and had  great crispy crust. The meat inside was very juicy and it had me reaching out for more. 

Overall it was an enjoyable evening with friends. The kids had a great time, running around. And although the wait was pretty bad, it was a new experience for us. We learnt of the challenges of going  to fairs and fests with toddlers.The lines and the wait and then the street food, somehow reminded me of the Frenzy we experience in my hometown Kolkata(India) during our major festival, Durga Puja. During Durga Puja, there are pandals housing the images of the Goddess across the city. And near every Pandal, come up a bevy of street food joints.

There is supposed to be a second chapter of this Food Fest in Fall,which will be featuring some new Food Trucks. My two cents to the organizers is that, next time, make sure there are more trucks to the event,which would reduce the wait time for each truck. Maybe even extend the operational hours. We had friends who had to leave despite standing in line, and not getting any food. Please can we have more than one Alcohol Vendor ,so that we don't have to take a pick whether we want to grab a drink with our food, or just run for our food.