Gogobot is now Trip.com

A while back, I had posted about my experience with and being a member of Gogobot. Late last year, they’ve changed their name to Trip.com. They’ve continued with making their motto for travel planning “Less Work. More Fun’. So what exactly is Trip.com about? It’s both a website and mobile app that allows users to share their travel experiences via postcards (uploaded photos) and reviews. New updates to both platforms include real time notifications for things to do at your destination, and map-based searches when looking up accommodations for an upcoming trip. I’ve included some screen shots to give you an idea of how it works.

 

Notifications with suggestions can be sent to you via the app when you arrive in a new city.

 

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View hotels both by list and map views with prices indicated. 

 

Trying to find a place to grab a bite? The app can help you with that.

 

If you find something you enjoy on your adventure, don’t forget to upload a postcard so other users can see where you’ve been.

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The need to travel isn’t completely necessary to check out the site and app. I’ve often used it to locate the nearest place to get lunch if I wanted to try out something new. If I wanted to know what events were happening near me on the weekend, I can find out about them there as well. You can even get the chance to meet other travelers when you sign up to be a Trip.com member. It’s optional, there’s no cost at all to join, and you can be alerted of events happening near your area through community ambassadors via email. I don’t consider myself an expert traveler by any means, but it’s always nice to get information about places I’d love to visit from others who’ve been there.

If jet setting is on your list for this year, I’d say to give Trip.com a try.

Birthday Beauty Bonuses and Hauls

I’m in the process of prepping to do a beauty no-buy for the month of February. Since this is my birthday month, I’ve done a little gathering here and there of a few products before that starts. I see myself being OK with the makeup part since I use it sparingly, so the real challenge will focus more on what I use often. Here’s what I obtained during the birthday week.

 

Sephora

I’m always excited to see what Sephora has to offer for their birthday freebies. This time around, Beauty Insiders have their choice between a mini set from Caudalie or tarte. My skin care routine is pretty much set, so I opted for the tarte duo. It contains a 1ml Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit and a 1.5g Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Paaarty. Loved how both of the shades looked, although the lip paint is appears darker when applied compared to how it looks in the tube. I think this is the best freebie I’ve gotten from Sephora to date.

 

In past years, I would just head to the nearest store location to redeem for the gift, but I added the set to an order I placed online. This crossed a few more things off of my loves list. Luckily the other products I still have on there aren’t limited edition, so I can hold off on purchasing them for another time (e.g. after my no-buy month). Here’s what I got:

Escada Agua Del Sol rollerball – Is it just me, or do most of Escada’s fragrances smell similar? I had a slight obsession with them in past years, but tapered off due to that fact. I did purchase this one because it was limited edition and only available online. Notes for this one are mandarin, apricot nectar, and sandalwood. They also have another limited edition fragrance at Ulta in celebration of their 25th anniversary. Will I cop it? All signs point to…probably.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (0.33oz) – I agree with a fellow blogger that a little of this goes a long way, so buying their full size would not do justice for me, especially since I don’t reach for it often. Plus the miniature size is easy to toss in my makeup bag when I travel. I consider it one of my HG primers.

Lavanilla The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Grapefruit – I’ve been using a more natural deodorant towards the end of last year and have been loving it. I liked the scent of this when I checked it out in store, so I bought it to alternate with what I already have. Hopefully it’ll also do a good job with reducing odor.

Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette in Softlight – Upon first viewing the Cover Shot palettes online, I wasn’t sure whether I’d actually invest in one. But I found them to be the perfect size for travel when I saw them in person. I picked the one that’s probably the least popular in terms of shade selection and wear. I’ll have to see for myself after trying out a look or two with it. Thankfully Sephora has a great return policy if it happens to not be worth the investment.

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in TMI – This was the last to be checked off of my Vice lipstick wish list. The shade is a sheer mauve-pink.

 

Ulta

The birthday swag from Ulta is either hit or miss. I still have a shadow palette that I got from them probably over 2 years ago that’s still unopened. *shrugs* However, I did hop on this year’s giveaway since 1) it’s from Benefit and 2) it’s their Porefessional primer, which I’ve been curious about. I also added a blending sponge since I plan to dispose of my somewhat neglected Real Techniques one soon, and also grabbed one of the new NYX Lip Lingerie lip colors in French Maid since they’ve added 12 new shades to the current lineup.

 

I also placed an order for Urban Decay’s Vice liquid lipsticks that released last week. Will get a post up on those once I have them. If you have any of the products featured here, let me know your thoughts on them.

My Vegas Gastronomic Adventure

While the majority of my time in Vegas this month was focused on CES, I made it a point to check a few things off my list, and also returned to some favorite food places.

Before I even checked into my HQ for the weekend, my friend and I had a late lunch at Tacos El Gordo.  I actually visited the place 2 days in a row. I have my San Diego friends to thank for introducing me to it.The usual location I go to is located in a plaza across from the Wynn and Encore hotels. They were closed the following day, so we went to their off Strip location on Charleston Blvd. If you haven’t tried their tacos, I suggest that you do next time you’re in town. They’re reasonably priced and really, really good. There are separate lines for tacos inside the restaurant, depending on what your choice of meat is. My normal order consists of 1 each of the asada, lengua, and adobada. The latter is a very popular meat choice, and almost always has a line for it.  I switched things up and added the adobada fries during my 2nd visit. No regrets here. I kinda actually like it a bit more than carne asada fries, which is shocking because that’s what I always get when I’m in SD.

Despite stuffing my face with tacos, I still managed to eat more later in the evening. I had made reservations in advance for an early birthday dinner at Giada’s at the Cromwell. I was seated at the window overlooking The Strip. I heard you can also ask for a view of the Bellagio to see their fountain show if it’s available. The weather was rather windy that evening, so unfortunately it couldn’t be seen. There was an option to choose from either the regular dinner menu or the dinner tasting menu. I picked the former since it was my first time dining there. A plate of assorted breads was brought to my table before I placed my order. I chose the burrata and bacon wrapped dates to start. I have yet to meet a burrata I didn’t like. It had a nice creamy consistency that I happily spread on the parmesan crisps from the bread plate. What’s wrong with double the cheese? The dates were stuffed with Italian sausage and gorgonzola crema. Delish!

The short rib agnolotti with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) sauce was my main course. I noticed that portion sizes here aren’t overwhelming, which was good because I was pretty full by the time I finished this. But of course, I always manage to save a little room for dessert. I’d normally look for something with chocolate in it, but decided on something different with the Limoncello souffle. Good choice for me since it was light and went well with the green tea I ordered. Surprisingly my total for everything was under $100 with tax and tip. Good job, me. I’d love to come back here to try other items from the menu.

One of my friends had often mentioned Hikari, an all you can eat sushi place off the Strip, but we never got a chance to check it out. We made that a plan on the 3rd night of my trip and met up with a few more friends there. For just under $30, you can pick from a selection of sushi and appetizers. Our server checked on us frequently since we ordered a good amount of food. It’s easy to miss a meal when you’re in town for a convention, so I definitely got my fill from here. Quick service and great food sum up my first experience at this place. Might have to make this a CES tradition from here on out.

Two places that I’ve had my eye on since last year, Eggslut and Milk Bar, have recently opened at the Cosmopolitan. Based in Southern California, Eggslut is known for their breakfast sandwiches. The line for this place was expected, but I decided to pass by again later in the day since the length of it reached halfway down the hall towards the restroom. Business wasn’t as busy after 1pm, so I considered it a brunch stop. I got their bacon egg and cheese sandwich (hardwood smoked bacon, cage-free over medium egg, cheddar, chipotle ketchup in a warm brioche bun). I’ve had quite a few breakfast sandwiches, but not like this one. Everything meshed well together flavor-wise, and that runny egg. NOM.

Milk Bar is a popular spot from the East Coast. Their location at Cosmopolitan is one of the first in the West, so I was definitely excited to pay them a visit. In fact, I went there twice since I didn’t have a chance to get everything I wanted to try all at once. I went all out since I most likely wouldn’t find myself here again for a while. Their cereal milk soft serve with corn flake crunch topping, crack pie, corn cookie, and compost cookie are amazing. I have a few more of the cookies to try, but I’m sure they’re just as good, if not better.

I had dinner with relatives on my last night. Bachi Burger is one of the places I try to visit whenever I’m in town. My cousin ordered the oxtail chili cheese fries, which are a must try. The portion size of this is large enough to share with others. I made the mistake of ordering some to go a few years back and barely finished half of it. I normally order the Shogun Burger, which happens to be the most expensive one on their menu for a good reason. Instead, I tried their Kiki’s burger (angus beef patty topped with shiitake, enoki, and eryngii mushrooms, carmelized bacon, sweet onion marmalade, and gruyere, served with garlic chili aoli). Good stuff.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, thanks for reading about my pheNOMenal visit to Sin City. What restaurants in Vegas do you recommend? I’ll add them to my to-eat list for my next visit.

CES 2017

A few weeks ago, I made my annual trip to Las Vegas for the international Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES). This year marks their 50th anniversary of the show, and I also was acknowledged for my attendance to the event for more than 5 years. It didn’t really occur to me until they handed me a 5+ year ribbon for my badge that I’ve been going to this for that long. As with previous years, my main goal was to see what was new at my favorite booths (Sony and Polaroid), and also check out some upcoming products from other brands.

My CES Highlights

Here are a few products that drew my interest at the show. It was a combo of things I had found out about prior to the event, and what I happened to come across during my time there.

Sony Brings on the Bass, Cancels the Noise

Sony is by far one booth that I always have to visit. Ever since I had my first Walkman cassette player, I’ve been long devoted to them for their audio devices. Attendees were able to test out their upcoming Extra Bass line of portable speakers. These range from a 3-inch model to the larger XB models that are waterproof and have Bluetooth capability. Battery life for these speakers ranges from 16-24 hours. The larger models also have lighting effects that can either pulse along with the rhythm of the music being played or be placed in strobe mode.

There was an area of the booth made to look like the inside of an airplane. A new prototype of noise cancelling headphones was available to check out. I wish I had made note of the model number, because they were pretty amazing. While listening to music, you could press down on one side of the headphones to temporarily pause the song and be able to hear someone talking or engage in conversation. Once the pressed side is released, the song and the noise cancelling function resumes.

Polaroid – 80 Years and Still Rolling Out the Gear

As CES celebrated its 50th year running, Polaroid hit its own milestone. Their line of products has long expanded from the first instant cameras. It now includes smart watches, wireless security cameras, 3D printers and pens, and even drones. Soon to release this year is their Pop camera. The nostalgic 3×4 instant camera gets a well deserved upgrade with the addition of a touch screen, 20 megapixel resolution, and filters, just to list a few of its specs. If you’re a fan of the brand or instant cameras in general, this is one to look out for.

Honorable Mentions: These Gadgets Deserve Props!

The following are products that I looked for after seeing posts about them via social media. They have also received acknowledgement and/or have been awarded distinction among the best of CES for this year.

Razer’s Project Valerie: Not Your Average Gaming Laptop

The PC gaming company Razer featured this as one of their 2 anticipated  product prototypes for the show. This is the first gaming laptop to include a triple 4K screen display. When closed, it’s also comparable to a regular 17 inch laptop. Whether used for gaming or general computer multitasking, this is a PC user’s dream come true.

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Willow Pump, A Wearable Breast Pump

When I first mentioned this product, friends were quick to ask if I was hinting at something. No, I’m not with or am planning on having a child, yet. To be extremely honest, I was drawn to this device mainly because I have seen the scenarios one too many times. By that I mean I’ve had co-workers, classmates, and friends either excuse themselves to pump in the restroom or do so while hiding out in their cars. Pumping devices generally aren’t very pleasing to the eye with the tubes, cords, and often bulky appearance altogether. But imagine being able to provide nourishment for your child without having to strap something on or deal with the cords and tubes getting in the way. This product allows moms to do just that, except hands free. More info about this awesome product can be found on their website.

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Super Retro Boy Is The Game Boy Savior

Are you like me and have a small/big collection of previously released Nintendo Game Boy devices? If so, you’ve probably noticed some minor differences between the game cartridges made for them. The folks at retro-bit have developed a gaming device similar to that of this portable console that will allow users to play all Game Boy games on it without the use of any additional adapter. And the MSRP for it is pretty reasonable. This is one to add to my wishlist!

And that’s my 2017 CES experience in a nutshell. If you’ve kept up with news about the show, let me know if there was anything that sparked your interest.

Project Life – December 2016

Only managed to get in a full page front and back for the last month of the year, but it was packed with events. Will see what the new year has in store!

 

Highlights:

Half Moon Bay Distillery Tour with Trip.com (formerly Gogobot)

Tea Under the Tree at Saint Francis Drake Hotel

Trip.com Launch & Holiday Party

Checking out the lights at Parkway Estates

South Bay friends get together/ gift exhange

NYE shenanigans

RCubed eats – It’s Italia, Binka Bites

Kira Kira Crate, Volume 2

If Japanese beauty products are your thing, you may want to check out this latest addition to the Japan Crate line of subscriptions. Each month, subscribers will receive between 6-8 items shipped directly from Japan. Although this is mainly a Japanese beauty subscription, there will sometimes be a few Korean beauty items included as well. Following them on their Instagram account or Facebook page will give you a heads up on what items will be featured in upcoming crates. With that said, let’s check out what came in December’s crate.

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What’s inside:

Ashirira Sheet, Lavender – I’ve often come across this item when I shop at Daiso/Ichiban Kan. The concept of these patches is to help rid your body of toxins. Sounds a bit too good to be true, yeh? Had I remembered that these in particular were formulated to help relieve foot pain, I would have brought them with me to Vegas last week. My tired feet would have loved them!

Dear Laura 9 Colors Lip and Cheek Palette – Upon first glance, I already had the feeling that these colors would be used solely on the lips because I don’t use blush very often. That, and the product itself looked like it could be cream based. Upon swatching the colors, the texture is more like a balm, so these would definitely be used solely on my lips. They’re also pretty sheer, which is nice.

Ichigo Milk Flavor Bath – If it was ever a dream to draw up a bath that looked like the color of strawberry milk, then this is the item for you! I don’t see myself reaching for this any time soon since my schedule only allows to much time to unwind at the end of the day.

Ichigo Milk Flavor Soap – This was more up my alley. You can never have too much bar soap (at least that’s what I think). A cute strawberry is embossed on it, and the initial scent is pretty concentrated. Thankfully it turned out to be much lighter when it was used.

Morning Surprise Monroe Peach Hand Cream – I was very entertained by the packaging of this item. Although it says Monroe (as in an ode to Marilyn Monroe, I assume), the character looks more like Madonna during her Like a Virgin phase, which I cannot unsee! As for the cream itself, it has a legit, albeit very light, peach scent.

Pure Smile Green Tea Essence Mask – Besides chocolate, I love practically anything with green tea. I will have to save using this mask for a later time since there are several that I currently have that should be used before it. Note to self for this year: up the sheet mask game. Seriously.

Pure Smile YOGRIP Rose & Honey Face Pack – Yogurt…for my face? OK, I suppose I’ll give it a try. This is actually a gel based moisturizer with a nice light rose scent. The size of the product looks like it can last at least a month.

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Each box comes with a booklet with more information about the products and how to use them, since the instructions are written in either Japanese or Korean. The price of this subscription is $29/month before shipping and taxes. Japan Crate has planned to relocate its headquarters from the Bay Area to Japan, so I’m expecting even more awesome products from them this year. Not only that, they’ve also informed that shipping is now free worldwide to select countries. If you’re interested in trying this or any of their other crates, now’s the time. Check out what they’re offering on their website.

 

Japan Crate Mini, Volume 18

December’s mini crate came with 4 sweet items and 1 savory item.

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What’s inside:

Animal Lesson Choco – This is like a version of my favorite Hello Panda chocolate filled biscuits. Instead of panda faces, there are different animals printed on them. These tasted OK, but it’s pretty hard to top HP.

Harvest Biscuit Matcha Flavor – Oh man, I loved these! There are 8 individual packets, each containing 4 crispy biscuits. The flavor is slightly sweet, and the matcha is subtle. I’m going to try and make these last until the end of the month.

Sakuranbo No Uta – This spherical hard candy has a creamy cherry flavor. Think of cherry pie a la mode or topped with whipped cream.

Umai Wa Vegetable Salad Flavor – This snack comes from the same makers of those Umaibo sticks that have been featured in past crates. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of a garden salad, but I think it’s not entirely possible to do so in chip form. Either way, this still tasted pretty good.

Yakimo Yokan – I first heard about this sweet potato gelatin dessert from an anime I once watched. Apparently it comes in different forms and colors. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, but after the first bite, I was surprised. The texture is denser than actual gelatin. And it does taste like roasted sweet potato. I may have to seek out more like this the next time I find myself at an Asian grocery store.

 

Interested in checking out Japan Crate? Visit their site and use code MSA5 to receive $5 off either your first Original or Premium crate (code courtesy of My Subscription Addiction).