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PLAY ! BY SEPHORA - JULY 2016 - REVIEW


So I jumped the Subscription Box Bandwagon finally. The July Play ! by Sephora Box is my third installment of it. And I must add, I am enjoying it so far. With all my travelling, the Reviews had been absent form the Blog, as to how I was liking the subscription boxes. Let me start with July and then I will catch up the past boxes in upcoming posts.

Summer is on in full swing. And every season has its own set of Dos and Don'ts when its comes to Beauty.

The Play ! by Sephora Boxes have a different theme every month. If June 2016, was 'The Minimalists,' then July 2016 is 'Effortless'. Every product handpicked din the box carried forward the spirit of "Effortless"ness.

The Play ! by Sephora Box Subscription is for $10 plus taxes every month. Mine usually reaches me a bit late. Hoping it reaches sooner every month.

Now for the PRODUCTS :

The first product is the BEAUTY BLENDER BLOTTERAZZI :

If you thought that Blotting papers were your best friend to dull out all that extra shine on your face, this product will make you think differently. The makers of the legendary Beauty Blender, bring for you another a Cushion Blotter. This is washable and re-usable. So no need to purchase stashes and stashes of blotting paper for the Summer months. Its small enough to go into your purse. Its unique tear drop design has been formulated to fit into the contours of your face to control shine and absorb oil ,without removing your makeup.It comes with a single use pouch of the Beauty Blender Cleanser. Its recommended that you wash the Blotterazzi at least once a week.

Its made from the same material that your Beauty Blender has been made, so can double up to help with smoothing out your make up through out the day.

A word of caution: Do not wet your Blotterazzi like you would wet your Beauty Blender. Use it dry.

It retails for $20


DEW THE HOOLA SOFT MATTE LIQUID BRONZER - BENEFIT COSMETICS : 

I am not much a fan of Bronzers. But as I tend to tan easily during Summer, I feel the Bronzers help me , in creating a uniform glow, rather than the patchy tans I tend to get.

Hoola by Benefit is an iconic Bronzer which has been on the favorites list of every Beauty Addict worth her/his salt. Imagine, Hoola in liquid form. Its light weight and shimmer free which makes it  much more wearable on an everyday basis. It creates a warm glow, which can be played up or played down. If you use a brush, then you would get the most intense color pay off. A beauty Blender gives it a medium color pay off and if used with fingers , then it creates a subtle glow. A little product goes a long way. Use it on area where you naturally tan. I used it on my forehead, below the cheek bones, along the nose and along my decolletage.

I used my fingers to achieve a subtle glow.

The full size retails for $28


ALL'S WELL THAT CLEANSE WELL - FIRST AID BEAUTY

I am  a big fan of First Aid Beauty. I have sensitive and dry skin. The products of this line are hypoallergenic and suit me well. Their cleansers are very gentle and do not cause my skin to dry out or break out. Cleansers can be tricky on skin. Its paraben free and fragrance free. It has a light whipped texture, which transforms into creamy lather. Gel cleansers are a favorite of mine, I quite liked the product.

Its a great size for travel.

The full size retails for $20


SMASHBOX PHOTO FINISH PRIMER : 

I don't do much of Primers either. And oil free products tend to dry me out. Did  I mention, my skin is super dry. The product claims that its meant for normal to dry skin, but I feel it does better for people with normal skin. Apply a small amount of primer to your cleansed and moisturized face, to extend the life of your make up. Strat from your T-Zone and extend outwards .Let it set for a minute or two before you apply your foundation.

Its very light weight and can prevent your make up from looking too cakey.

The full size retails for $49


OUAI WAVE SPRAY : 

Give me a product which lets me style my hair without heat and I all set to try it out. I love me some beachy waves in Summer, and am always on the lookout for light weight products. Having natural curls, I don't like products which weigh my hair down.

This Wave Spray is lightly scented. You can use it on wet or dry hair and scrunch it up to create effortless waves. It did not weigh my hair down when I used it on wet hair. However it did not create any dramatic waves. Comparable to many drug store wave sprays.

Make sure you shake the bottle well, before use.

The full size retails for $26


CITRINE - NEST FRAGRANCES : 

I am not much of  fan of fruity scents. I am more of a florals kind of girl. So my least favorite product of the box was the Perfume Vial.

Its a mix of Fruity and Florals.  Notes of Lotus and freesia blend with notes of citrus. Why mix fruity notes with florals? Maybe it works for some.

The full size retails for $68



Now the question is which of these samples am I going to purchase Full Sizes of? Or Which were my favorites from the July Box ?

To be very honest, I think, I will pick up another Blotterazzi, as that product is the winner in this box. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer is the other product, from the box , that I shall purchase a full size of.

Happy Playing !



THE DDLJ - SWITZERLAND EDIT

I love  Bollywood. No questions asked. I know many might raise their eyebrows over this proclamation, but my love for Bollywood is a constant factor. I have been a student of World Cinema, but the love story with Bollywood always had a special place in my heart. Coming from a Film family myself, I always had a soft corner for Bollywood. For instance, when I am making dinner on an otherwise mundane week night, you will have me, listening to some Bollywood music and jiving my way across the kitchen.

And if you're a true blue Bollywood fan, you will know the connect with Switzerland. Bollywood filmmakers, especially Yash Chopra of the famous YashRaj Films, have immortalized the Swiss Alps. With their heroes romancing their heroines in the snowy Swiss Alps.Yes, Chiffon sarees in sub zero temps. It kinda grows on you.

My husband is very well aware of my love for Bollywood. Especially of one particular film- Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer Dilwale Dulania le Jayenge(DDLJ). The film completed 20 years last year and amongst all the celebrations going on in Media, was also this video put together by the producers, reminescing about the journey. It was also at this time that my husband Debashish, was planning our Switzerland vacation. While I was going all weak in the knees over the said video, I was not aware that the Man was taking notes on some of the places where some important sequences of the film was shot in Switzerland. For those who are not aware of the storyline, let me tell you that Switzerland plays a important role in the narrative of this love story. This was 2015.

Cut to the Summer of 2016 . Our Swiss holiday was on in full swing. We were drioving across in our swanky BMW, soaking in and admiring the beautiful sights and scenes. And then the magic happened. The husband surprised me in such a brilliant way. After our lovely time at Gruyeres(detailed post coming up soon), we headed on a DDLJ Journey.

Let the pictures do the talking.

Who can forget this Bridge ? 

The Church Spire is now painted golden. Wasn't golden in the film. This was one of the two churches from the film. 

I had to keep my hair open at this station as I walked from the Bridge to the Train. Now I didnt miss my train. We were driving around. 

I was not drunk on Cognac and I was not running down Gstadt. But I could pose, right ! 

No, I didnt reach out for the stash of ice cream, here, in a drunken stupor. Cant drink and drive, can you. 



The Church connect 

Picture Idea : https://bongappetite.com/ 

What better way to celebrate the 20th Anniversary celebrations of your favorite Bollywood film. Huge THANK YOU to my husband Debashish for indulging my love for Bollywood and surprising me in this beautIful way.  Just for the record, I didn't dance around the hills, in my Chiffon saree. Somethings, are best left to the celluloid. 

REAL TECHNIQUES MIRACLE COMPLEXION SPONGE : REVIEW



Every Beauty Guru worth their salt cant stop raving about the original Beauty Blender. I have been guilty of it too. In fact, even when I have had my Make Up professionally done a few times, all my make up artists have used it. So when I found a product which could take this cult favorite head to head, it was indeed quite a find.Meet the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge 

Created by UK's Top Beauty Bloggers : Sam and Nic of Pixiwoo. I am a great fan of the sisters and have learnt a lot about make up from watching their videos. But rather than blindly falling for a product, I decided to weigh in the pros and cons.

PRICE :
Beauty Blender is priced over $20 and the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is priced around $8. The Beauty Blender is available, Sephora and a few other select beauty retailers. The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is available at Ulta, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Amazon and many other places. That makes this sponge more easily accessible to a consumer.

SHAPE:
The Beauty Blender is egg shaped. The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge has a pointy end, and a flat surface. The flat surface makes it easier for me to blend in my contouring . The pointy end in both sponges helps in blending concealer under the eyes. Both sponges need to be wet under a running faucet, then squeezed dry, before using them. The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is a tad bigger in size than the Beauty Blender.

BLENDING :
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge does an IDENTICAL blending like the famed Beauty Blender. I apply my foundation with a flat foundation brush and then use a damp sponge to blend it in. It gives it that air brushed finish which I love. The sponge ensures that you have a natural finish rather than your make up being streaky with brush marks. I also use the clean side of the sponge to remove or tone our any excess blush or contouring I may have done with a heavy hand.

CONS:
The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge does have its share of Cons, despite its apparent Pros. Its larger in size than the Beauty Blender which can make it a bit difficult for some epole to blend under the eyes, or around the nose. When you try to squeeze out the water from the sponge, I feel it retains a bit more water than the Beauty Blender

Products mentioned in the post :
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Beauty Blender

CHOSUN KOREAN BARBECUE



Recently being back from LA and having explored the food scene, in a true Food Blogger style, Korean Barbecue was high on our minds. My husband had found about this joint in KC which was really well known for their Korean Barbecue. Mind you, we were still under a food coma of Koreatown in LA so the stakes of comparison were a bit high.

We were accompanied by our friends. So it was 4 adults and two toddlers who were dinning that night.

Chosun Korean Barbecue is located in Overland Park . The exterior is so dimly lit that you could even think that the place is closed for business. We had to step in to find out whether they were open or not. First Red Flag.


I wanted to taste some Korean Beer. But our server seemed absolutely blank when I asked him about beer options. He kept repeating the options, which I can probably pick up on a Friday evening, from my local Walmart.

Last of all, my husband asked him if he had anything special in Beers. I am very patient with people who might find it difficult to understand English, so we worded the question differently. The server came back with two Japanese Beers  for me and Hubs. I didn't want to argue any further.

We started off with the BibimBap. Its a bed of steamed rice, topped with a variety of fresh seasoned vegetables, beef and topped with a panfried egg. I had requested the server that I need to photograph the food, before he serves it, as I am a Food Blogger . I explained further that its my job to write about Food. Probably he didn't take me seriously or didnt understand. My husband explained in clear terms that he needs to wait for us to tell him when to serve the food. Despite all the ardent requests, he was in such a mad rush to serve up the BibimBap. Hence no picture of it. Coming to taste, it wasn't out of the world.

It was already Three Red Flags.


For our Main Course, we opted for Combo 2 of  Korean Barbecue: Large Beef Rib Eye, Beef Ribs, Bulgogi. Pork Belly and Pork Shoulder. It serves 3- 4 people according to their Menu. Korean Barbecue involves table side cooking. So every table has a pit in the table, fitted with a grill. yes, you got to be very careful with toddlers. The waiter brings in your share of tenderized and marinated cuts of meat, which are then cooked and rested in front of you, by the server. Somehow our server was not very keen at all, on having us cook our own food. We have done that in the past in many different eateries across the mainland. Interactive barbecue. So we didn't bother arguing any more with him. 


Salad and Banchan(Korean Side dishes) are complimentary with Barbecue. The Kimchi and the fluffy egg were quite good to nibble on, as we waited for the first of our meat to be grilled.










The Rib Eye was grilled last and it rounded off the meal well. It was a meat overload in a good sort of way. The meat were seasoned well, and grilled to perfection. And the portion size was good enough for 4 adults.

By this time, our bellies were full, but we weren't too happy with our server. The restaurant was almost empty  and they were in a rush to see us off ,we felt. The Manager Kevin Wong, proabably sensed something was wrong. He came up to out table to talk to us and introduced us to the owner Carrie. They were very proud and insistent that they serve only USDA Prime. Now that's where I need to differ. I know my meat well. While I am not arguing that the meat was good, but no way was that Rib Eye USDA Prime as they kept on stressing. Carrie and Kevin are good hosts, but their servers need to be more attentive and receptive . Service needs to improve.

Will I be going back? Yes, I will, at least once, To check whether this time around the service is better for me to enjoy my Beer and Barbecue on a Friday night. 

KCFW FW'16 MEDIA SWAG BAG BY BEAUTY BRANDS



This post is long due. Sorry for the delay. It was yet another fabulous season of Kansas City Fashion Week. If you haven't read about my adventures, then click Here.

As Official Media, I enjoyed the Front Row experience to the hilt. Designers brought forth their Fall Winter collections across the runway at the iconic Union Station in Kansas City.

Beauty Brands was one of the sponsors for the Charity Night of Kansas City Fashion Week, this season. They had created this fabulous Swag Bag for the Official Media. It contained hand picked items to take care of our Beauty needs. From skincare, hair care to make up, the bag was really a great collection of products. Thank you Beauty Brands and Kansas City Fashion Week for this awesome swag bag. I have already started using some of the products. If you want detailed reviews on any of the products, make sure you let me know. I shall be happy to write about it.



GOLDA CHINGRI MALAIKARI - TIGER PRAWNS IN A SPICY COCONUT GRAVY


If Chingri Machher Malakri was not decadent enough, then you make Malaikari with the biggest Chingri you can lay your hands on. My husband picked up the largest prawns, I had ever seen. One look at the beauties, and it was like an instant love affair. And how do you cook these beauties? It was an abolsute no brainer. You make Chingri Machher Malaikari - Prawns cooked in a spicy coconut gravy. Its an iconic Bengali culinary delicacy . You can serve it for lunch or dinner with some steamed Basmati rice. An instant food coma is sure to follow.

The eternal Ghoti Bangaal divide over Chingri Maach and Ilish Maach shall always continue. The foodie tussle between the Bengalis from the current state of West Bengal in India, to those who trace their beginnings to modern day Bangladesh, has been around forever, it may seem. Having grown up in a family which has a mixed family lineage where Bengali geography is concerned, I have learnt to appreciate the culinary specialities of both sides. Chingri Machher Malaikari is essentially a Ghoti delicacy.

The prawns were deveined and without their heads. Ideally prawn heads impart a great flavor to Malaikari. But generally prawns are dressed without their heads almost everywhere in the US. Prawns if overcooked, can turn rubbery and overcooking these beauties would have been a sacrilege. I had just sauteed the prawns lightly, after smearing them with some turmeric and salt.The drippings on the pan, after sauteeing the prawns, add to the flavor profile of the gravy. If you are in India, you can use fresh coconut milk. But I had to make do with canned coconut milk, which I had picked up from the Asian food aisle of my regular grocery store. Fresh green chilies add a subtle aroma to this creamy gravy. If you are not comfortable with heat, then make sure you add in the whole green chili, with the stalk attached. That way it will impart an aroma but no heat.

Go ahead and whip up this classic Bengali Prawn Curry. You will surely become a fan of Bengali cuisine.


GOLDA CHINGRI MALAIKARI - TIGER PRAWNS IN A SPICY COCONUT GRAVY :

Ingredients :
Tiger Prawns : 8
Onion: 1/4 large onion - Blend to a paste
Ginger : 1 inch piece - Blend to a paste
Garlic : 2- 3 large cloves
Tomato Paste : 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
Cumin Powder: 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder : 1 tsp
Granulated Sugar: 1 tsp
Salt : To taste
Mustard Oil(You can use canola oil, but dont use olive oil by any means)
Potato: 1 medium sized one: cubed. (Skip it if you want to. I add potatoes to every curry I make)
Whole Garam Masala : Clove and Green Cardamom : 2 each, Cinnamon stick : 1 1/2 inches
Bay Leaves : 2
Whole Garam masala Powder: 1/2 tsp
Coconut Milk : A can
Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp and 1 tsp


Procedure:
Wash the prawns and pat them dry with a paper towel. Smear them with salt and turmeric powder.



In a non stick pan, heat mustard oil. Lightly sautee the prawns.



Remove the prawns from the pan to a plate.


Ideally a classic malaikari would not have potatoes in it. But I am one of those Bengali foodies, who likes potatoes in every curry. So I added some potatoes. You can skin it if you want to. Smear the potatoes with turmeric and salt and lightly fry them till they caramelise around the edges. Remove the sauteed potatoes.


In the same oil, add whole garam masala and bay leaves. Let the garam masala crackle.

 Add in your onion-ginger-garlic paste. Caramelise till the paste is golden brown. then add in the tomato paste. If you don't have tomato paste, feel free to use ripe fresh tomatoes.

Once the tomato paste is well integrated, in the masala, its time for the dry spices. Mix well. Fry for a minute or two. Make sure the msala does not get burnt. it can go very easily from caramelised to burnt.


Add in your fried or sauteed prawns and potatoes. Cook for around 5 minutes in a covered pan.



Add in your coconut milk. Mix with a light hand. reduce the heat to low, so that the coconut milk does not separate or curdle. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or till the potatoes are cooked through. If yo haven't added potatoes, then 3 minutes is good. Check for seasonings. Add in a pinch of garam masala powder and turn off the heat. Cover till its ready to serve, to seal in the aromas.




Serve warm with steamed basmati rice.

Enjoy !

Bon Appetit !