Friday, January 30, 2015

crystal clear

so the teen and i are always on the lookout for new nail salons in our area.  there are what seems like a bajillion of them within a 5-mile radius, yet we still haven't found a single one that's a favorite.  the last new place we visited was really cool, but super pricey.  and a lot of other places either don't have a great selection of colors, have drawn blood from aggressive cuticle cutting, or just plain look janky upon entering.

while looking for a place to go with MIL before she went back to texas after new year's, we stumbled across this brand new one:


but it was a monday - the one day of the week they were closed.  and so we filed it away in our mental file cabinet to try later.

later came this week, as the teen and i had a free morning and nails that needed work.  we arrived at the nail lounge not long after they opened, and we were welcomed by friendly staffers who directed us to pick polish colors.


and this place was beyond cute.  from the fun wall color to the chairs fit for a princess to the shabby chic-ish decor, it looked like a great place to relax and enjoy some pampering.




no, seriously - look at how cute these pedicure chairs are:


i got a basic pedicure and chose a color for my nails from their extensive gel polish collection.  and then as i sat there, i noticed a display of lots and lots of shiny things.


they do something called "rockstar" gels, which is about as sparkly and glittery as you can possibly get.  there's also lots of different studs and rhinestones and even swarovski crystals to adorn your fingertips, and i completely suckered myself into choosing the latter for an accent nail.  you know, because i like sparkle.  they assured me that once the crystals were applied, they'd stay put - they even have a 7-day warranty on this.  goodness.  and the gel polish that they were using on both of us was different from any of the others we'd seen before - instead of regular nail polish bottles, it was a thicker consistency and came out of a round pot.  they used a fancy brush to apply it.  i couldn't take pictures, but it was kinda cool.  and the gel was really smooth and extra pigmented.

i was really happy with the bright pink i'd chosen for my toes.


the teen was pretty satisfied with the color she'd chosen, with a few white hearts on one nail.


as for me...well, let's just say that i really like the color.  it's perfect for valentine's day.  the crystals...uh, don't look like what i'd imagined in my head.  i've seen swarovski crystal-covered nails before, and these aren't it.


to be honest, i went back yesterday to see if they could do the bean's nails (she'd totally love those chairs, i know it) and to get these stupid things removed.  we walked in to find two women who were on the tail end of their services, two more waiting to get started, and what looked like four or five staffers who were all working on the two who were seated in the chairs.  the one who seemed to be in charge when we were there the day before came over and said "oh, do you have appointments?"

well, no.  and you would know, because you're in charge.  and you just saw us yesterday.  come on now.

she waved towards the two who were waiting and said "they have appointments, and normally we can take walk-ins but right now we can't because we're too busy.  sorry about that."

so apparently, she was more willing to turn away business rather than let us know that it might be a bit of a wait.  or maybe she could have had one of her staffers work on at least one of us while the other four finished with their current clients and took on the two with the appointments.  i don't know.  maybe there was more to the story, like more appointments on their way.  either way, she wasn't particularly friendly or apologetic about it all and didn't seem to care.  so, okay.

not to mention...this place is really expensive.  the teen damn near choked when she forked over her debit card for her services, and i definitely regret the crystal add-on that brought my total up to a number i'm not used to.

the search continues!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

two words: cookie con.

to cap off an awesome weekend, the girls and i got up nice and early on sunday morning, grabbed a starbucks and headed off to pasadena.


i'd heard about the first-ever cookie con via facebook a few months ago.  i actually didn't need to hear much past the words "cookie con," because duh.  and after submitting a request for a press pass, amazingly enough, i was approved and added to the list of media attendees.  WUT.

we parked across the street at paseo colorado, and the first thing we noticed (besides the incredibly long line to get in) was a local news van.



lucky for us, my press pass allowed us to bypass that crazy line and head right inside to check in and receive our wristbands.



outside, the ribbon cutting ceremony was taking place with special guest ron ben-israel from the food network.


the doors officially opened at 10:00, and a steady stream of folks started making their way inside, us included.  we wandered around the perimeter of the exhibition floor, searching for the special VIP lounge that was supposed to be offering an exclusive breakfast for members of the media.  when we came across the kid zone, though, we stopped so the bean could check it out.


the nesquik booth was still being set up, with cornhole games and pallets upon pallets of chocolate milk.


we stopped here, though, and the bean had fun painting her nails with non-toxic, natural, even edible nail polish.



after promising her that we'd return to the kids zone later, we finally found that VIP lounge.


it was crazy jam-packed, but we said hello and nabbed samples from most of the vendors there.



yes, i had some wine.  i even liked it.  heh.

also, massage envy was there offering free rubdowns.  i'm not really all about getting massages out in public like that, so we bypassed it in favor of another scone.  or a macaron.  maybe it was a cookie?  i don't remember.


just outside the lounge area was something that caught the teen's eye.  free customized candied apples, packaged to go?  she signed up real quick.




and something else caught the teen's eye - a glimpse of two ladies in blue tops who she recognized from one of nanette's parties and also from our participation in the opoli launch party.  i was super embarrassed when they recognized me, because i know i totally had the deer-in-headlights look on my face.  i finally got it when they reminded me where we'd met before.  mor-ti-fied, that was me.  ack.  they were still nice enough to take a picture with me, though.


from there we just wandered.  the floor was getting super crowded, and it was hard to get decent pictures.  i did stop at one booth to pick up some cookie cutters that i needed for my ever-growing stash, and giggled at this onesie:


there was a little hello kitty love even at cookie con.


this food scale looked interesting, but they didn't even have one to demo.  all they had were empty boxes and flyers.


the bean discovered (and inexplicably) fell in love with raw milk.  well, okay - i took a taste from her sample and found that it was delicious...but i'm thinking that the fact that it was whole vs. the skim that we usually buy made it extra good.  and the information i read in the brochure later on convinced me that we should totally switch.  it's definitely more expensive than regular pasteurized milk and doesn't last nearly as long, but it fits in my quest to reduce/eliminate processed foods from our diet.


there were beautiful cakes and cookies on display, but this is about as close as i could get to them.



more sampling.



these little quarter-sized cupcake kisses were really cute, but not for the prices they were charging.  3 bites = $4.  yikes.


how cute are these aprons?  i don't wear aprons, but if i did, i'd have snapped one up.  instead, i let the bean pick something out as a reward for putting up with the craziness of the expo.



plus, she got to spin this wheel for both me and the teen.  she scored a 50% off coupon and one of their t-shirts.


ron ben-israel was up on the stage discussing...something.  i couldn't really hear much, but he had quite a captive audience.


oh!  we did manage to meet a few of the kids from masterchef junior, one of our favorite shows to watch together.  we loved dara the bow girl, although i admit that i had to look up the other two to confirm who they were.  i remembered them as soon as i saw their official MCJ pictures, but wow, they've all grown up quite a bit since their stint on tv.


i thought it was pretty funny that the bean was clutching her raw milk as she posed with the nesquik bunny.


photo ops!



 and the official cookie con photo booth.




strangely enough, our favorite samples (and the only things we actually bought!) were healthy snacks:  melissa's clean snax, loaded with pumpkin, chia and flax seeds and pronutz (whose nutz??), pistachios grown locally and dipped into probiotic-filled yogurt and chocolate coatings.  seriously, these things are all so tasty.

 the last thing we did was wait in line for the bean to get her face painted.  my little pony, of course.


that's a wrap, cookie con.  till next year, of course.


outside, there was still quite an impressive line of folks waiting to get in.  yikes.


plus another news van.


after all of the sugar we'd just eaten, we were desperate for something savory and healthy.  where else to go, but here?


can i tell you that the pizza catona i ordered was the BEST thing ever?  it was a simple pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella...but topped with prosciutto, burrata and arugula and served with fresh oregano, parmesan and a chili oil.  holy moly, was it good.  and i devoured every bit of it in one sitting.


back at home, i took everything out of our bags and surveyed the swag.


while we had a ball and got to enjoy quite a lot of samples from the vendors, i read a lot of reviews later that complained of crazy long wait times, shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, not-so-VIP treatment for those who sprung for VIP tickets.  the organizers of the event posted apologies via social media and explanations for what had gone wrong, and i hope that those who were disappointed will give them a shot again next year.  they've already promised a bigger venue and an extra day of fun, and i'm thinking that even with those two improvements, it'll be a super fabulous con.  after all, inaugural events almost always have hiccups or two or three...but as long as the powers that be are willing to hear feedback and pledge to improve for next time, what more can you ask for?

now i'm off to eat more clean snax.  seriously, guys...so good.
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