Dollarama Drinks

So, after the Toronto Food Truck Festival, me and Chris decided to hit up the Dollarama near the station. She wanted to check for something and I wanted to grab some gum. But, once we got inside, we were immediately drawn to the food aisle.

There’s some pretty reputable things to eat in Dollarama, like Primo brand canned soups and sauces, some pretty decent pastas, Uncle Ben’s rice side dishes, Mr. Big chocolate bars, Excel gum and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that you could make a decent meal out of Dollarama food.

But, there’s some stuff like instant coffee and single serve drinks that just look strange…

Dollarama Drinks

Don’t they look scrumptious? Chris and I really wanted to do a blogger swap, but we figured that this would be a good adventure for now instead!

We chose these drinks because we wanted to try something that didn’t involve a lot of cooking and that was somewhat familiar to us. I don’t mind some 3-in-1 instant coffee drinks, especially the ones from Malaysia, and we were really curious to see how a rice smoothie would taste!

4 Care Balance Rice Smoothie

4Care’s Balance Rice Smoothie in Chocolate Flavour and Vanilla Flavour

I swiped the vanilla flavoured one since Chris wanted the chocolate one. The ingredient list is pretty intimidating since three out of eleven ingredients are thickeners and calcium carbonate is there for stabilization and acidity regulation.

… Means it keeps it from going funky and the acid levels at the same place over time. Sorry, the science is sticking out.

4 Care Balance Rice Smoothie

 

Assuming that the information is actually right, the nutritionals aren’t too bad in a single box! There’s one good thing out of this.

But, the taste itself is so overly sweet! I don’t mind the flavour much since it actually tastes somewhat like vanilla with a nice nutty tone to the whole profile, but the drink’s thickness really kept the sweetness on my palate!

The chocolate was even worse compared to the vanilla because it felt like they added more sugar to try and mask the bitter cocoa flavours. Plus, the chocolate version was even thicker! Chris could barely get it through her straw!

Verdict: 2/5 – It’s quite cheap at $1 for two small boxes, but there’s better stuff out there for $1, even in the Dollarama.

Insta-Coffee Mocha

Dollarama’s Insta-Coffee in Mocha

I really shouldn’t have been so surprised at the really complicated ingredient deck, but I was! The thing takes up a whole section clear down the cup!

It should’ve been a clear sign of what’s inside…

Insta-Coffee MochaI do like how they included a disposable cup in the packaging so it can be used in some sort of long term coffee emergency on the road. There’s even some handy lines on the side of the cup to show you how far to fill the cup with hot water!

Too bad that’s about the ONLY thing I like about this drink.

Insta-Coffee MochaIt looks alright, but it tastes like an ashtray that’s been sprayed with a cheap chocolate room freshener. I don’t like throwing out food, but I had to throw this one out after I took a few sips.

Verdict: 0.5/5 – Don’t drink this unless it’s an absolute emergency. But, with so many coffee places around, who would need to keep one “just in case”?

I have no idea what to expect for our next blogger swap…

xoxo,

B.elle

 

 

 

 

Topbox – August 2014

It’s Topbox time! Wheee!

What is it?

Topbox is a Canadian monthly beauty box subscription that features 4 deluxe samples for $12 per month, shipped right to your door via Canada Post. Some months even include full sized products! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you start your subscription!

Let’s see what’s in the August Topbox!

I totally forgot that they offered the organza option again this month, so I was pretty surprised when I picked up my Topbox and there wasn’t a box inside! When I saw pics of other people’s Topboxes with organza bags, I hoped that I picked it because I’ve been needing a separate bag for small storage.

On first glance, this month’s contents look pretty good. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t get another nail polish, to be honest! Although I find it pretty hilarious that there’s a nail polish REMOVER this time around.

Barefoot Venus’ Macadamia Oil Hand Cream in Hunny Mango – $5.99 for 60mL, full sized

I love this hand cream! It’s so soft and light, so it’s perfect for summer use after washing a ton of dishes or when my callouses start flaking off a bit too much. The fruity, honey scent is absolutely heavenly, too.

LAQA & Co.’s Bees Knees Sheer Lip Lube Pencil – $20 for 2g, full sized

I laughed out loud when I saw this product because I had have this thing about the ’20s, its glitz and glam, and especially the funky sayings they had like “bee’s knees”!

The colour is really quite sheer but it turns out to be a more delicate, lighter pink than it looks in the tube. It feels really smooth and buttery, with a slight hint of mint in it, too.

Here’s a swatch of it on the left compared to Tarte’s Amazon Butter in Coral Blossom!

Bees Knees LAQA & Co. vs Tarte Coral Blossom

It might be a bit too light against my particular complexion, but it might work for me in late fall or winter. If not, I’ll put it up for swap!

Clinique’s All About Eyes (5mL sample = $10.33) – 30mL for $62CAD

According to the product card, it’s supposed to reduce the appearance of eye puffs, darkness and fine lines. Considering how I’ve been sleeping lately, I’m hoping that this will show some kind of result if I try using it.

I’m not a huge fan of Clinique’s products, but I do appreciate the larger deluxe samples they provide compared to their full sized things. It’ll give me time to see if there’s any effect on me rather than just a single serving sample.

Belvada Cosmetic’s Nail Polish Remover

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Belvada! In fact, I think the last time was when Topbox had sent out a round of their blackhead masks that turned out to be pretty painful. Like last time, Belvada doesn’t provide a lot of information online about their new products, so it makes me wonder what they do with these things after they’re sampled in Topbox.

I actually like the concept of having some portable nail polish remover wipes on hand! I did my nails on Saturday before Edgefest, but I noticed that my nails needed a desperate clean up halfway to the monsieur’s place.

Luckily, I didn’t face any fashion faux pas since it was just Edgefest and it was getting pretty dark anyway. But, this little container would’ve been perfect to keep in my bag!

Verdict: 4/5 – I got one of the best variants I’ve seen so far and I really like it! There’s a good variety and top quality in my box that I really can’t complain. The colour of the Lip Lube would have been a lot better in a different colour for me, but that’s just the way it is!

Did you get the August Topbox? What did you think of it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Tasting Box – August 2014

Like usual, I got my Tasting Box a couple days after I ordered it. And, of course, it takes me over a week to get this review out!

Here’s the August Tasting Box! This month, they put in a whopping 7 products!

What is it?

Tasting is believing! The TASTING BOX includes 5 scrumptious tastes to enjoy, made by our favourite Canadian small batch food artisans and delivered directly to your door – a different box each month.  The TASTING BOX is the perfect opportunity to discover and sample the culinary talents right in our own backyard! Only 50 TASTING BOXES are available each month, so order yours today!

It’s $14.95 + shipping for a box, so people in Ontario and Quebec get it for around $22 or so after tax.

Tasting Box August 2014

Made with Local’s Peanut Butter Blondie (Dartmouth, NS) – $22 for 8 bars, $2.75 per bar

Omgosh, peanut butter blondies! It’s definitely not a health product or an energy bar of any sort, but I’m actually pretty excited to see a fully packaged bar that’s just for indulgence. Not to mention, it’s made out of oats, peanut butter and chocolate! (I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.)

I love seeing new products coming out from the Maritimes, especially products made with local ingredients!

Stone Milled Specialty Grains’ Buckshots Snack Pack (Oak Bluff, MB) – $35 for case of 25, $1.60 each

I’m actually not too sure how to eat this since the buckshots are tiny little pellets of grains. It says I can snack on it directly, but it feels really awkward trying to eat a handful of this at a time since they’re so small!

It says that you can put it in your cereal, so I might just use this in a couple bowls of oatmeal in the next couple mornings. It should be interesting to see what Smokey BBQ breakfast oatmeal will taste like!

Wholly Noggin Bars in Walnut Blueberry (West Vancouver, BC) – $41.98 for case of 12 bars, $3.50 each

This bar is made out of all organic and natural ingredients, so it’s actually incredibly dense and kind of crumbly. Just a bite of this bar contains so much energy and chewy goodness, but I still think it’s too hard!

It has a very distinct nutty scent and flavour, along with some notes of banana that I really didn’t like. It’s not that good tasting, in my opinion, but it might be good for vegans or those on the Paleo diet.

Tasting Box August 2014

Ohmbars’ Lemon Cranberry Poppy Energy Bars (Ottawa, ON) – $33.48 for 12 bars, $2.79 per bar

I got a bit hungry right after I took these pictures but I still had dinner to eat, so I quickly grabbed this bar to munch on first.

See, I totally didn’t notice that the Ohmbars are primarily made out of date paste or else I would’ve given this to my best friend since she LOVES dates! I’m not a huge fan, but I actually quite liked this one. It wasn’t crazy dense like a lot of other date bars, but it still got pretty stuck in my teeth after I finished it.

The sweetness was at a good level, and both lemon and cranberry flavours were pretty balanced out with each other!

(PS – Very punny name. Love it!)

inner-J Bars’ Lemon Goji Berry Coconut Bars (Toronto, ON) – $11.99 for 3 bars, $41.99 for 12 bars

I think Tasting Box sent out a couple samples from J-Bars before and it looks like they’ve gone through a major packaging overhaul! It looks a lot better than the clear plastic resealable bags that they were using before.

Tasting Box August 2014

GORP Clean Energy Bar in Cocoa, Hemp & Almond (Niverville, MB) – $49.70 for 16 bars, $3.10 per bar

This bar has a really neat marketing spin since the GORP part of the label is actually a sticker that you can use to reseal the packet!

It’s really delicious with the bitter cocoa balancing out the sweetness from the rice syrup and the chocolate chips, but I think 65g is a bit big for a bar! Although I think the sticker is to help you save some for later.

SIPsoda EAST’s Natural Craft Soda in Lavender Lemon Peel (Vaughn, ON) – $40 for 24 bottles, $1.67 per bottle

I wasn’t too sure what to expect out of a lavender lemon peel drink, but I’m actually quite enjoying it! The bubbles aren’t too aggressive and the sweetness level is just right as a flavoured soda. The lavender notes aren’t too strong, but it definitely has a faint sense of drinking potpourri.

Verdict: 4/5 There wasn’t a lot of variety in the box with so many energy bars, but I really enjoyed how most of them tasted! I’ve also been eyeing the SIPsoda for a while, but it costs too much to get them shipped from BC, so I was very happy to get a bottle in my box!

Did you get the August Tasting Box? What did you think about it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Toronto Food Truck Festival

I’m not completely sure where I heard about the Toronto Food Truck Festival, but it immediately grabbed my attention.

What is it?

Canadian Food Truck Festivals is the not-for-profit organization that hosts Toronto Food Truck Festivals, one of the premier culinary arts and cultural music festivals in Canada.

August 2nd & 3rd, 2014 marked the inaugural Toronto Food Truck Festival located in the heart of the Beach at Woodbine Park.

The organization and event are dedicated to creating a public awareness and opportunity to sample some of the amazing culinary diversity that the City of Toronto’s Food Truck community has to offer.

What’s not to love? Live music, a bunch of really well known Torontonian food trucks and it’s right next to the Beaches! The location’s so easy to get to and it was a great day to go out to sample some delicious food.

Toronto Food Truck Festival 2014

As well as about a dozen food trucks on site, there were some stalls selling primarily cold drinks and a large stage for live music, sponsored by Indie 88.

I went with Chris on Sunday the 3rd (which also shows you how bad I am with posting) and we got there just around 3:15pm, thinking that it would be kind of slow by that time.

It was still really, really busy! But, most of the park was actually just people standing around, waiting in line to either order or to pick up their food! We looked around at each food truck (there was a lot of variety, so that was great to see), but we finally settled down on Buster’s Sea Cove.

Chris got the Lobster Roll:

Food Truck Lobster Roll

And, I got their Ahi Tuna Taco:

Food Truck Ahi Tuna TacoChris was really happy with her lobster roll ($13 with chips!), but my tacos’ tortilla shells turned out to be really soggy and stale tasting. It’s pretty bad when I paid $10 for the both of them.

The filling itself was pretty good, but I felt like it could’ve used a bit more seasoning or some other layer of flavour just to ramp up the profile more.

Even though there was some pretty good music in the background since the stage was between sets, the entire festival still felt really lackluster. The “Beverage Garden” outlined in the festival map turned out to be a single stall from Mill St. The Children’s Village was a couple of bouncy castles that stood out like a sore thumb against the trendy food trucks.

Once the live band came on, the awkward atmosphere didn’t change at all. You could practically taste the embarrassment as the lead singer led a round of “Happy Birthday” to a fellow band member and then immediately made a sex joke in front of the young families in the crowd.

Maybe it was different on Saturday, but the energy was rock bottom on the second day and I hope, for the sake of all food trucks in the GTA, that this isn’t a sign of what’s to come.

xoxo,

B.elle

August Insanity!

We’re well into the middle of summer now and August is turning out to be IN-SANE!

I’m so sorry for not posting as often as I’d like, but it’s been hard keeping my energy levels up after work since we just moved offices and we have some new employees in sales.

I’m not part of that team, but they come to me for more information about our product, so I’ve been running around trying to get production finished, updating the new guys on our product, while having to get ready for my parents leaving for a 2-week stay in Vancouver! Not to mention, I still want to see my friends and the monsieur!

AND, my 27th birthday is coming up on the 25th! Woooo!

That’s just my long-winded explanation for saying that I haven’t gotten around to doing my blog posts, but they ARE coming! In the next couple weeks, I’ll have these posts up:

If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

xoxo,

B.elle

Workout Makeup Routine

I know, this seriously sounds like an oxymoron. If you’re working out, why bother with makeup when you’re going to be sweating like a pig anyway?

But, I’ve learned in the past few months that it’s a hell of a lot easier to go between working out to the rest of the day without having to stop and make sure I still look presentable to the adult world.

With that in mind, I set out to find the ultimate makeup routine that would stay put all day, makes me look somewhat like an adult and won’t end up making me look like a Picasso after some training.

Workout Makeup

Eye Primer – This is an absolute must! Without it, all your eyeshadow will wear off within minutes of any sort of workout. Plus, it helps keep your eyeshadow even and vivid, even if you don’t have a defined eye fold!

My pick: Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance Eye Primer ($23CAD)

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Eyeshadow – I usually pick a shimmery neutral that goes well with most occasions, but this is where your personality will shine! I found that one layer does best for some reason.

My pick: Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow in Chopper ($22CAD)

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Eyebrows – I would say that this is completely optional since well-shaped eyebrows don’t need much to look fabulous. But, if you have patchy, thin or scraggly eyebrows (like me), it’s best to fill in the lines with a wax-based eyebrow filler so it doesn’t wash off with sweat.

My pick: Benefit’s Browzings in Dark ($36CAD)

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Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner – This is KEY to keep your look throughout a good workout. Other eyeliners like kohl and pencil eyeliners will smudge beautifully for a smokey look, but they will melt down your face the second you start your workout.

Most high-end liquid eyeliners dry really quickly and don’t budge no matter how much you rub it! The only detail that you need to make sure is that it’s waterproof.

My pick: Eyeko’s Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner ($22CAD)

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Waterproof Mascara – What’s worse than coming out from a great workout, feeling fantastic and then finding out that you look like you got socked in the eyes? (You might have if you’re in an MMA tournament, but that’s a little different.) Waterproof mascara not only helps keep you looking good if you’re jogging in the rain, but it also works against mild sweating.

Don’t forget to curl your lashes before you put mascara on!

My pick: Maybelline’s Lash Stiletto Waterproof Mascara ($10CAD)

*Note: The website’s picture is wrong. It looks like the washable Lash Stiletto tube but with “waterproof” written on it.

I don’t use foundation or concealer every day so that doesn’t change my usual makeup routine. If you do use foundation and concealer and want to work out with it on, you may end up with more breakouts since they’re specifically for smoothing out complexion over your own skin and pores. Once you add in sweat, it’s almost a sure fire way to aggravate your skin!

Using this combination, I went outdoor parkour training at Cloud Gardens when it started to lightly rain in the hot, humid afternoon. I was so surprised to see that my makeup hadn’t moved too much after 3 hours!

Do you wear makeup to your workouts? If you do, what do you use? More importantly, what do you do to recover?

xoxo,

B.elle

Taste of Toronto 2014

I won a pair of tickets from a Twitter contest that Pommies Dry Cider held a while ago and it was such a fantastic evening! Thank you so much, Pommies!!

Taste of Toronto features a huge array of artisan vendors, top ranked restaurants and live music from all around Toronto and beyond. Instead of money, restaurants and bars will only accept Crowns, which are bought at $1 a piece.

This year, it was held at Fort York at the south end of Bathurst Street and Thursday was the perfect evening to go!

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I went with the monsieur and we first loaded up our Crowns card with $40, thinking that it would be enough for a few dishes and a couple of drinks. We actually had to go back and top it off with $20 because there was just so much to try!

The first dish that we tried was a smoked pulled duck taco from Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) that was absolutely divine. The duck was succulent and soft, but perfectly seasoned with just enough of their special barbeque sauce. It was contrasted with some lightly pickled radishes, crispy fried onion and fresh green onions.

It was all gone before I could take a picture!

We tried a couple beers (100th Meridian is surprisingly refreshing but crisp), a Pommies each (delicious as always!), a sampling of a Canadian gin distiller called 66 Gilead Distillery (Black Dragon Sochu and Canadian Pine are both very tasty), and some tequila to round the night out (Tequila Tromba has a delicious cilantro, lime and jalapeno chaser for a hard night of partying).

In between all the drinks, we went and had some more of the finest food Toronto has to offer!

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From the famous Splendido (88 Harbord St.) comes pieces of sashimi salmon on a block of crisped rice with some avocado, pickled jalapenos and roasted sesame seeds on top. Something in the dish really made the salmon flavours pop and the whole dish was very well balanced.

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The monsieur got the fresh agnolotti with ricotta, mushrooms and truffles from Splendido. I thought 10 crowns would have gotten him two agnolotti but I’m guessing that the black truffles really raised the price! The agnolotti wasn’t overpowered by the truffles at all and the ricotta was decadently creamy with such a wonderful aroma.

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Lastly, we made a stop at the LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM (aka Ice Volcano)!

They didn’t accept crowns, so the monsieur bought some Nutella ice cream for us because he’s a total sweetie. I didn’t expect it to have dry ice at the bottom! And, it was one of the smoothest ice creams I’ve ever had!

As a pair of scientists, we were both VERY impressed.

Everything at the Taste of Toronto was luxurious, classy and it seemed like everyone was having a good time! I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing it again next year.

Thank you again to Pommies Dry Cider for the tickets! You can find their delicious Ontario cider at the LCBO.

Xoxo,

B.Elle