Tasty Omaha: Dante’s Pizzeria Napoletana

Over the years, my affection for pizza has grown exponentially. I’m not sure how old I was when I first tasted this culinary masterpiece, but despite my indecisive Libran nature, it has remained one of my top five favorite foods of all time. Recently, I dined at Dante’s Pizzeria Napoletana, and if you’re a TL;DR sort of person, the punchline is this: run, don’t walk, to one of its two locations in Legacy or Blackstone.

Continue reading “Tasty Omaha: Dante’s Pizzeria Napoletana”

Tasty Omaha: Timber Wood Fire Bistro

One of my favorite things to do, I’ve discovered, is take pictures of food. I think it has a lot to do with the nifty camera on my iPhone 7+. Though I’m sure this camera can’t hold a candle to actual cameras like Nikons, Canons, etc., it’s still easily the highest quality camera I’ve ever had readily available at my fingertips. My bestie “loaned” (really, sneakily gave) me a Nikon a couple years ago that she had just lying around and didn’t use, and I’m still looking for someone to show me how to actually use that thing. The little I’ve deduced so far is that it needs a badass lens to really unlock all its potential.

(Side note: Avenged Sevenfold is suddenly playing on my iTunes as I write, and it’s distracting because how tf did it get on here…? Oh, phew. Disturbed is on now. OOH-WAH-AH-AH-AH!)

Anyway, my favorite subjects are them:


And him:

 

Ok, so I didn’t technically take this picture but I totally could have!

Followed by food!

 

Another of my favorite things to do, which is most definitely not a recent discovery, is eat, especially at new restaurants. My favorite dining companions are my husband, my parents, and my best friend, when she’s in town. I was out with my folks this weekend at a new place, and as I was snapping photos to share on Facebook, because I simply love food photography and also inspiring people to check out new places around town, it occurred to me that this could become a new blog series. And as I’ve resolved to update my blog at least once a week, here’s the inaugural series post, the maiden voyage, if you will, of Tasty Omaha.

This past Saturday, July 1st, I ventured to Timber Wood Fire Bistro with my parents. It was recommended to me by a friend who had lunched there a few times with her husband.

The bistro, owned by executive chef Jared Clarke (who you may know also owns the well-loved Railcar Modern American Kitchen restaurant) is located in a nondescript strip mall area at approximately 87th and Dodge, in Countryside Village. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was intrigued by how low-key the exterior appeared (though in good company, with a Le Quartier bakery nearby, who also supplies them with their delicious bread, Starbucks, a delicatessen, and a “spirited” barbershop). The interior of the bistro is deceptively sprawling, with a choice to dine indoor or outdoor, and in addition to the main dining area–which can seat 40–there is also a smaller room that seats about half that. The decor is sleek and simple, with touches of wood embellishment. Each table has a small piece of wood that serves as the centerpiece.

I made a reservation on Open Table (which, I love any restaurant that uses Open Table!) for six o’clock. We arrived a quarter to, and were seated immediately, as there were only a handful of other patrons there at the time.

And we sat. And sat. And sat some more.

We’d been sitting for about fifteen minutes before the wait staff noticed us. Then we were given water and asked for our drink orders–I like to try craft cocktails from restaurants in particular, so I opted for a pear mule, while my mother opted to try their version of an Old Fashioned. We also ordered a bottle of wine. For an appetizer, we ordered the bread service–Le Quartier sourdough with herbed butter and olive oil–and the Timber Fries, which came with crispy mushrooms, tossed in truffle oil, topped with chipped beef and chive cream.

We received our appetizers before we got our drinks, interestingly. And in fact, we waited another fifteen minutes or so before the bottle of wine we ordered as well was uncorked and delivered to our table, despite sitting on the bar for at least ten minutes. When I inquired about our drinks, the waiter admitted that he’d forgotten to put the order in, so we ended up simply cancelling them and sticking to wine.

If it were crazy-busy? Totally understandable and no big deal. But as I mentioned, it was not busy. And the amount of wait staff they have in comparison to the number of patrons that were there could have easily provided two waiters per table.

The bread from Le Quartier was absolutely fantastic. Drizzled with olive oil and warmed in a canvas pouch on the grill, the outer part of the bread was crispy, and the flesh of the bread was soft. The sourdough twang was mild but noticeable, and the herbed butter was the perfect accompaniment. Those folks at Le Quartier never disappoint.

The Timber Fries came to the table looking like a daunting, glorious, fried dream. Upon first taste, the chive cream–like crème fraîche–was light and airy, providing a nice neutrality to the extremely salty fries and mushrooms. I also could not taste the truffle oil at all. The flavor combination had the potential to be monumental, but the fries and mushrooms were slightly overcooked, and the saltiness was over the top, even for fries and fried mushrooms.

I also ordered the French onion soup, to see how they do this classic soup. According to the menu, the soup is made up of cognac, bone marrow, roasted local beef stock, and Swiss cheese. Cognac? Bone marrow? Yep, I’m game.

The broth was, despite these tasty ingredients, bland. It was as though they used all the salt on the fries and had none left over for the broth. I couldn’t make out the cognac or the richness of bone marrow. The cheese globbed up to a rubbery consistency on top of the soup and there was a blob at the bottom, as well. I’m not sure, but I doubt it was hand-grated. Quality off-the-block cheese has an entirely different texture than bagged cheese. The best part of the soup were the onions and the piece of baguette at the bottom, which soaked in the broth, making the flesh delightfully soggy, while the crust retained it’s firmness.

As the name suggests, the menu comprises a variety of offerings all prepared in/on a wood-fire grill. When I hear wood-fire, I immediately think of pizza, and Timber has a selection of pizzas that are baked on French bread in amoeba-like shapes and topped with things like poached pear and prosciutto, lamb kabob and herbed goat cheese, mushroom and fennel sausage, pepperoni, organic tomato, and stracciatella.

Did we get pizza? No.

Should we have gotten pizza? Yes.

After much deliberation, I ordered the Prohibition Black Chicken (as I’m working on a Prohibition novel, anything that hints toward that era strikes me as a sign, so I go for it). Mom got the Cedar Planked Steelhead Salmon, while Dad got the Wood Roasted Short Ribs.

When my plate arrived, it came with a breast, a drumstick, and a thigh. There was a bed of fire-roasted veggies, and a scoop of potato rosti. It was decorated with a fragrant bundle of wood-fire herbs, which I thought was a nice garnish. The drumstick and the thigh were perfectly cooked, tender, but nothing particularly noteworthy in terms of flavor. The menu states that the chicken is “cabernet cured” but I couldn’t taste those flavors at all. The breast was entirely overcooked, to the point of inedibility. The veggies–carrots, celery, green and yellow squash, and mushrooms–were overall decent, though the carrots were hard and the celery was tough. The squash and the mushrooms were fantastic. The potato rosti struck me as au gratin hash browns–nothing more, nothing less. Tasty, but underwhelming.

I sampled my mom’s salmon, and it was glorious. The Asian-inspired glaze overflows with flavor, but her complaint was that the interior of the salmon was not cooked enough to her liking. My dad’s short ribs, accompanied with baby bok choy, were unimpressive. I found the rib to be mostly fat, and the meat underneath to be tough.

For dessert, we ordered the S’Mores Budin. Budin is a Latin bread pudding, but what arrived was basically, a rich fudge pudding with a graham cracker crust. According to the menu (desserts are not listed on their website, and neither are cocktails, for some reason), sea-salt caramel and peanut butter were to have been involved as well. I got hints of these flavors along the side where the crust was. The outer part of the fudge was delightfully warm and melty, but the interior was a cold block of fudge. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be served that way. As well, it comes topped with two toasted marshmallows, but the further into the marshmallow I got, I discovered that it was just the skin of the marshmallow that was toasted, as opposed to toasting it so that the entire thing becomes melted and soft–like it would be over a campfire.

Overall I was underwhelmed with the quality of the food and the service. The wait staff was very friendly and kind, but their speed and efficiency needs to be developed. The restaurant opened at the top of the year, and it seems like these sorts of kinks should have been worked out by now. I would be willing to try this place again for the pizza alone, as several passed our table, and they looked impressive, and Yelp reviews are enthusiastic for Timber’s Sunday brunch. However, in my opinion, the food needs finessing and flavors need to be developed to live up to the potential that emanates from the menu. Particularly a dish like the Prohibition Black Chicken, which by the waiter’s admission, is one of the most popular items on the menu.

Grade: C

MFAs and TFF

Go to grad school, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

No, MFA does not, in this instance, stand for “Motherf***ing Awesome”, though, it must be said, that acronym does occasionally apply to certain aspects of my life. And me.

Only occasionally, though.

In this case, I’m talking about Master of Fine Arts. As in the graduate degree. As in the thing I’ve agreed to devote two years of my life to pursuing and, hopefully, obtaining come May 2017.

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I remember it clearly: last April, my best friend and I (really, this is all her fault) were hanging out. She’d driven an hour to come stay with me overnight while Hubby attended a month-long course at Fort Lee, VA. We’d run a 5K race at one of my favorite wineries, we’d done some shopping, and we’d done a lot of pigging out. The next day, as we lazed about before she went home, we were chatting about life and things. You know, like, “Now that we’re thirty, we’d better start figuring out what we want to do when we grow up.”

And she was all, “You should go to grad school.”

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In 2012, she started her master’s program in Art History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also her alma mater (and mine). I thought it was so cool that she was in grad school, studying something so cool.

Then, the same year, my husband enrolled in his MPA program. And then later that same year, another good friend enrolled to get her MBA.

gradstud

All around me, it seemed, the people in my life were rushing toward graduate educations, not satisfied with their bachelor degrees alone. Admittedly, I could appreciate that: nowadays, jobs are competitive. Once upon a time, a job posting requiring a bachelor’s degree used to produce a smug smile on the incumbent’s face. Now, that’s child’s play. Want to catch an employer’s attention? Want to write your own checks? Want to sob in frustrated misery for two to four years?

Better go to grad school.

full of life

I staunchly resisted. More school was not for me, I said. I was one of those “smart, but would be a better student if she applied herself” kind of people in school. I did what was needed to get by, except in my English, lit, and writing classes (where I learned the beauty of the Oxford comma). Math, my greatest academic nemesis, bested me twice before I managed to eke out the necessary “C” to graduate. On the last day of math class, when I learned I’d passed by department standards, I refrained from hurling my T-78571032324867 graphing calculator at the professor and enjoyed a private, celebratory weeping in the ladies’ room. I never had to take math again.

But I did have to take microeconomics, macroeconomics, biology, geology, religious studies, astronomy, and meteorology to name a few. You can guess how well those went for me.

My best friend was one of the first people to encourage me to apply for a grad program, my husband the second. “But I don’t want to go to school again,” I patiently explained time after time. “I’m in the corporate world. I’ve got a good job.”

I was running at a steady pace in the corporate rat race. I’d once had a misguided notion that I should try to “live my dream” where making money was concerned. I crashed and failed. Wounded, I told myself (much like after riding The Prowler at Worlds of Fun), “Never again.”

A passionless, predictable gig, day-in and day-out, was the safe way to go about things. Steady income, benefits, meetings, and graphs, and charts, and POs, and stuff. Forever. Or, like, until I was 60-something.

But, as fate would have it, that was not in the cards for me.

The company I worked for underwent a series of lay-offs and downsizing. There were three rounds plotted for the head-chopping, and I managed to squeak through the first two. The third go-round, however, I was not so lucky.

So, with the same air of resigned dignity that Anne Boleyn displayed on her day of reckoning at the Tower of London, I knelt (figuratively) on the scaffolding to receive the (figurative) blow.

Actually, I cried all the way home. Then I started figuring out what I’d do next with my life.

The mention of grad school was brought up again, but I swiftly dismissed it. School? School? I had a job to find!

I ended up with a few prospective offers on the table all at once, and ended up taking a chance on a small, privately owned business. My husband had just been accepted to the Omaha Police Department Academy, his dream for many, many years, so it all felt new, fresh, exciting. My job was new, fresh, exciting. The city was new, fresh, exciting. My life was new, fresh, excit–

Then it wasn’t. The small business I worked for had been experiencing a sharp decline in sales (something they’d conveniently neglected to mention during the interview process) and they could no longer afford my salary. Or, like, me.

So there I was, again, without a job and down on my luck.

That fateful weekend in April that my best friend visited me was a couple of days after my most recent job loss. She said, “Dude. Grad school. Creative writing. You can do it.”

This time, I actually gave it some thought. I did love to write. I’d been writing stories and poems since I was a child. I was in the midst of writing not my first novel, but the first one I wanted to seek publishing for (what has now become my MFA thesis, actually. So I will have to finish it at some point). The first novel that marked my decision to be a professional writer when I grew up, whenever that would be. But I needed direction. I knew I was a talented writer, but I also knew I was, for all my years of writing, a novice.

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There’d be the education, the sharpening of my writing skills, the networking, the accomplishment.

What did I have to lose?

A month later, I had applied to Creighton University. And a month after that, I got accepted. And about two months after that, I started school for the first time in eight years.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first day of classes. I felt like a freshman at UNL all over again, trying to find my way around a brand-new campus, trying not to be the last person through the door, trying not to be stuck in the front row. On that first night of class, meeting my professor and my fellow students, I was struck with one thought: Here I am, back at school, again. Here I am, doing this all over again. 

The first day of the rest of my life, and all that sh*t.

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Two four-hour classes a week, for two eight-week quarters a semester. Plus, working full-time. Plus, writing my book. Plus, writing another book. Plus, you know, staying alive and stuff.

And that brings me to the “TFF” part of this post. No, not “The Freaking Fabulous”. I mean “The Freshman Fifteen”.

Yeah, it happened to me. AGAIN.

got

I’d convinced myself that I’d be able to maintain my fitness program while going to school. Heck, I was a gym rat, after all! Four to five days a week, and three half-marathons and dozens of months of training runs under my belt. NO SWEAT. (HA! PUNZ. See what I did there?)

But, I had no appreciation for how tired I would be. How much work there would be. I loved it, I loved the work, because I got to read awesome things and write (hopefully awesome) things and read the awesome things written by my classmates. But it was a lot of work I was unaccustomed to, and it drained me. Lack of energy + lack of motivation to cook + lack of motivation to eat healthy = pounds gained.

I don’t know if it was a full fifteen. Maybe it was more. All I know is, things ain’t right.

mordor
Another Freshman 15 meme featuring Sean Bean, different program. Hmm.

Now that summer’s here, I’ve got a goal of hitting the gym at least four days a week. Used to be child’s play for me, but now, it can be a stretch. I’ve got a goal to eliminate my sugar addiction, another big culprit in TFF. And I’ve got a goal to maintain it for the coming year ahead. Now I know what to expect, what it’s like to work full-time and go to school full-time. And now, to add to the fun, I’ve got a part-time editing job with an indie publishing house. And they have lots of authors who are prolific writers, and I’m sensing my workload is about to get cray-cray.

But slowing down is out of the question. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “There will be sleeping enough in the grave.”

benfrnkog

If I’m feeling motivated enough, perhaps I’ll try that old Military Diet I posted about last year. And by motivated, I mean desperate and filled with self-loathing. I’m not there yet, though.

Now that the first year of my two-year program is over, and the second year is starting in a couple months, deciding to pursue my MFA has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve met some really awesome people, some really talented writers, and some really great teachers. I’ve learned that I can balance a metric crapload of stuff at the same time. Sometimes not gracefully, sometimes not graciously, but I can do it.

adultshit

Sometimes–like my classmates in the same boat as I am, like my best friend who’s now getting her PhD from Cornell, like my husband who’s a proud MPA holder and one of the rare people to realize his life’s dream–I’m really MFA (re: alternate definition).

One year down, one year to go.

 

Donut FriYay, and Cubicle Attacks

You had me at “Free donuts”.

It’s been almost a year (at the end of this month) that I have been at my job. In a (confusing) nutshell, I design call flows for a telecommunications company. I had extensive experience doing just this very thing, which made me a shoo-in for this role.

Lies.

I had an English degree.

I will be forever grateful to my boss, who decided to take a chance on a kid from the streets, who had no idea what a person in this role did, and had twelve to eighteen months to get over the learning curve and be a contributing member of the team. In that time, I’ve entered into the wild world of call flow design, learned a fair amount of geek-speak (though on a scale of “Rosetta Stone” to “fluent”, I’d say I’m about “where the person debating on buying Rosetta Stone online is, sitting open-mouthed in disbelief at the price tag”. Srsly, learning languages is already hard enough, but you gotta make it that expensive, too?), and met some really super awesome people along the way. People that I’m happy to say I work for and with.

Appropriately, our team is called “Creative Services”, and truly, we are just that. I’m one of a couple writers on the team. We’ve also got an actress/set builder/knitter/all-around freakishly talented person, a musician, a singer, a publisher, a comedian. We are all creative in our own rights, and we’ve brought all that psychotic energy into one little office.

One of the neatest (and by neatest, I mean dangerous) perks of working for this company is that every Friday, free donuts are offered. Like, scores of donuts. Donuts as far as the eye can see. Bagels, too. It’s a carb candy land.

After weeks of indulging my donut addiction, I realized, coupled with the fact that I’d started school and had done the Freshman 15 ALL over again, that donuts and I needed to break up. I stopped answering Donuts’ calls and texts. I avoided the places I knew Donuts would be. I asked our mutual friends to stop speaking to me about Donuts and giving me their life updates, how their parents were doing, the new job they’d taken, etc. Cold turkey.

But then, National Donut Day happened on Friday, and in a moment of weakness, I decided to give in, just that once.

And then, like there was no tomorrow, I wrecked an Old Fashioned. (P.S., is that what they’re called? A co-worker and I debated the name of the donut pictured, and I’ve never known what the proper name is. I’ve always just said the one that looks like a glazed ring with the bits around the outside you can break off and eat as an appetizer.)

Anyway.

Between designing call flows and eating donuts (and various other treats, because another member of our team is, like, a gourmet cook and baker and always brings us things on which to nosh) my team also engages in a healthy dose of mischief.

I learned early on that taking extended vacations on our team is not safe, and you should plan to be the victim of some kind of prank when you return. Approach cube with extreme caution and lots of trepidation. Trust no one.

Case in point: Last October, my boss made the unfortunate decision to take some time off of work. Before he was due to return, an email circulated around our team discussing ideas of the best ways to devil his cubicle and also his Monday morning when he returned. The result?

He got Caged.

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Yeah. See you.
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Nebraska football coffee tumbler? Pssh. NeCageska football coffee tumbler.
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Hey, this is crazy. Call me, maybe? –Nicholas Cage
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“What a…beautiful…family you have there.”

Most of us showed up early that Monday morning to hide inside our cubes and pretend to work, all the while anxiously rubbing our hands together in glee while we waited for The Boss to show up.

When he did, the groan I heard erupt from his throat was a cocktail of amusement, heartbreak, fury, and resignation.

He’s still picking Cages out of file folders and desk drawers, almost eight months later.

Gotcha.

So, when the mastermind of this prank announced she was taking her yearly two-week vacay into the great outdoors, it was time for a little sweet retribution. By last Thursday, conversation had started to determine how the get-back was going to be got. Someone suggested spiders, though real or fake wasn’t specified. The co-worker in question is one of the most even-keeled, unflappable people I’ve ever met, so I didn’t think that’d do the trick. So, I offered an innocent suggestion.

What if we Trump her?

It started as an uncaffeinated, bleary-eyed, one-sentence email from me in the early morning. And by four-thirty in the afternoon, this had happened:

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Trumps and Solo cups. There’s Hawaiian punch in them.
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Trumptastic.
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Trump for days.
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Welcome back!
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DinoTrump Comics: The MinoTrump.
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TyrannoTrumpus Rex.

So, Chloe. Um. Welcome…back?

I’m honored to be part of a team that not only works hard, but also really commits themselves to making someone’s first Monday after a long vacation suck that much more.

Note to self: Never take vacation on this team. Like, ever. ‘Cause payback is a bitch.

Cheers!

Welp, it’s been a while. 

And by “a while”, I mean a hot minute. And by “a hot minute”, I mean almost a friggin’ year.

In a nutshell: I started a new job, then grad school, then, like, five writing projects, and then everything went black. When I woke up, the smoke was clearing around me and Hodor was dead.

Which, just wow, by the way.

“So I can kill them dead.”

Quick digression: Hodor’s death was the noblest, most heart-wrenching thing I’ve seen on TV in a looooooooong time.

Quick digression: Has the release date for Winds of Winter been pushed up from Twenty Years From Now? Anybody know?

I apologize for my absence, if it was noted or missed (please hold your sarcasm at bay). I had quite a summer, quite a remainder of the year, and this one is shaping up to be as balls-to-the-wall busy as the last one.

But it’s been a year of accomplishment, and for that, I can’t apologize. In addition to starting a new gig (which offers FREE donuts every FriYay, by the way. Which has contributed to my weight regain, along with the Freshman Fifteen. More on this later.), I started graduate school at Creighton University. I’m getting my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, and I’ve got one year under my belt and one to go.

I also published my first two books, Pas de Deux: Parts One and Two on Amazon under the pen name of Wynter S.K. (“But isn’t M. Allison Lea your pen name? How many pen names do you have? Are you batshit crazy?” More on this later.), and I’ve served as editor on a couple of books by Nik Angela, one of which is on the ZON and the other is forthcoming.

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I’ve entered and lost writing contests, I’ve submitted to and gotten rejected by The New Yorker (an accomplishment in itself, in a strange way. More on this later.) and I’ve kept it pushin’.

My husband also graduated from the police academy in December, and is now a full-tilt Bad Boy po-po. It’s been a wild ride, but seeing him do what he was truly born to do never ceases to punch my right in my feelz every time he puts on his uniform (which, Hottie Alert, btw).

Hashtag dreamboat. Hashtag lucky lady.

My kids, a.k.a. The Judgmental Kitty and The Pushy Pomeranian, continue to fill my life with joy, humor, and annoyance when I’m woken at 4:30 every morning for feedings.

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“*nomnomnom* KITTY FEETS! *nomnomnom*”
TeddyBone
“Play with me! NOW!”
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“I just can’t even…”
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“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Only for naps, doe.”

In forthcoming posts, I will expand on these points individually and in detail. For now, though, I just wanted to assure anyone who was concerned about my abrupt departure from this blog that 1) I did not get dead, 2) I did not get kidnapped, 3) I did not get abducted by aliens.

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Oh, hai. Yes, I’m alive. And not abducted by aliens.

This summer I’m hoping to go back to a couple posts a week. I’ve got a lot to share–a whole year of crazy has just been bouncing around inside this head.

With the voices, of course.

Cheers!

MOTD: Smoky Halo Eye + Orange Lip, Plus The Pushy Pomeranian’s Birthday

Our second child, our Pomeranian, was born June 19, 2011, following the still-mysterious birth of his brother, our gray shorthair cat. We’re still trying to nail down a proper birth date for the cat, but he tends to enjoy the spoils of our dog’s birthday right along with him. 

Coincidentally, June 19 is also the day my husband and I met 11 years ago. Or maybe it’s not so coincidental? O_o

We started the day by taking our pup to Starbucks, where he enjoyed his first Puppuccino. If you don’t know what that is, it’s just a small cup of whipped cream. And yes, I know that dairy is bad for dogs. But I let him get a few good licks off the top and then tossed it.

 

“Mom. Wait. Is this for me?”
  

“Let me investigate. I need to make sure this isnt’t poison. Or vegetables.”
 
“Nom nom nom”
 
 
“My results were inconclusive. I’d like to investigate further.”

That afternoon, my husband and I attended the promotion ceremony of his BFF, who achieved the rank of Sergeant with the police department. His BFF is an extremely hard-working, dedicated, and visionary officer, responsible for many accomplishments with the force, including risking his own life to save another’s inside a house that caught on fire. Needless to say, this promotion was well-deserved! Ofc. Fox will continue to do wonderful things in our community.

As it was a day ceremony I wanted to keep my makeup relatively light except for my current obsession – orange lipstick! I’ve always been afraid of bright lip colors. I always feel like bright colors make my mouth look like a giant garish blob. But the bright reds, pinks, and yes, oranges, have proven too tempting for even me to resist. I went shopping with my bestie a few weekends ago to help her pick out the perfect red, and in doing so I picked up a lip color from Urban Decay called Sheer Slowburn.

  

It’s a red-orange color, clearly, but what makes it wearable for me is its creamy, sheer formula. It’s also buildable, so when I wore it yesterday I began by lightly patting it on my lips. And as my confidence grew and my husband didn’t tell me I looked like a clown, I applied it a little more heavily. It is BRIGHT and glossy but really a beautiful color that would complement so many skin tones, from fair to deep. 

  
 

Since I decided to do a bright lip, I wanted a softer eye to pair with it. I decided on a soft halo smoky eye. With this particular eye look, the shadow is curved around the eye and smoked out on the lower lash line. Sounds like a typical smoky eye, right? Basically, but you really want to emphasize that curve around the outer corner, connecting the color on the upper lid and lower lash line. You can run the risk of looking like a panda. But if you keep the color light and also contained to those areas, it can be pulled off and the effect is really soft but still smoky. I skipped liner and falsies, but a couple coats of black mascara finished off the look. 

 

I also took my new Cover Girl Outlast foundation for a spin. It’s a nice one, and I did not get oily, which gets a kazillion thumbs up in my book. I do feel, though, that it’s quite heavy for summertime, especially during the day. This is a great evening-look foundation, or a fall-winter one. 

I also used, or attempted to use, my new beauty sponge.

 
Do not, I repeat, do NOT waste your money on this! As soon as I took it out of the package, I said, “Oh, no…” It is WAY too dense and hard to be used as a makeup sponge. I ran it under water and I’m pretty sure it didn’t soak up a drop. I tapped it on my face once and said, “No way.” The original Beauty Blender and the Real Techniques beauty sponge are both made of very light material, engineered to soak up water and provide a flawless makeup application. They are extremely soft and bouncy, not dense and hard. Eight gachillion thumbs down for the Studio 35 Beauty Blending Sponge.

I find that heavier foundations apply better with a damp beauty sponge. When you use a brush with these, they can look cakey and smeary if you’re not careful. And, using a damp sponge helps to soak up excess product so it doesn’t slather on your face. I wanted to keep the base light and go for glowing skin, so after I contoured, bronzed and blushed, I applied ColourPop Smokin’ Whistles highlight.

   
    
This is an intense vanilla highlight. I recommend this for fair to medium skin tones, otherwise it could be a little TOO bright. ColourPop has a highlight for every skin tone, though, and the $8 price tag is hard to beat! The texture of this feels like a mousse. I apply it with my fingers, or you can use a sponge to tap it on for more even coverage.

  
Summertime for me means glowy skin, so I’m definitely about that highlight life! In the sunshine, this ColourPop one has an almost wet look, which I love. 

After the ceremony and reception afterward, at which I gorged myself on 3 mini-plates of lumpia, poncit, meatballs and veggies, it was time to head home and fix our pup his yearly birthday dinner – a small sirloin steak.

   
     
We capped off our evening with froyo, 2 episodes of Orange Is The New Black, and lots of cuddles. 
Cheers!

Lifestyle: The Military Diet, Day 3

It’s the final day of this diet! It couldn’t come soon enough. I think this diet is called the Military Diet not because of the ridiculous notion that this is what troops in the military eat, but because, like in the military sometimes, you might not get anything to freakin’ eat! 

I did notice that I wasn’t dying of hunger today. The first two days I found myself counting the minutes between meals, but today I really didn’t feel that hungry most of the day. Which is a good thing, because the food on this last day was what I can only describe as meager.

Meal 1, Day 3: Breakfast – And Watch Out! It’s Filling!

  
My first meal of the day consisted of one apple, 5 saltines, and 1 slice of cheddar cheese, plus coffee with Stevia. I know, I know. Huge meal! Compared to previous mornings, this one was definitely scant. But, it filled me up, at least enough that I didn’t notice being hungry until almost one o’clock, when it was time for lunch.

Meal 2, Day 3: An Even Bigger Lunch!

  
Lunch consisted of one scrambled egg on one piece of toast.

*crickets*

But again, it felt like enough food for the afternoon and I really didn’t notice being particularly hungry. And I was definitely not hangry, so score!

Meal 3, Day 3: *More Crickets* (The Noise, Not That I Ate Them. That Would Be Disgusting. Obviously.)

  
Yes, folks. This here is my luscious dinner. A whole cup of tuna! YASSSSS. 

Uh, no. But seriously, one cup of tuna was all that was on the dinner menu.

Okay. So, that was what was on the menu. However, I decided that I was not going to eat one cup of tuna. I decided I was going to eat a half cup of tuna, 2 hot dogs, and half a cup of broccoli. And that’s what I ate. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to choke down an entire cup of tuna, and I also knew that only eating a half cup of tuna was not going to be sufficient.

I realized over the course of this diet that my caloric intake was well below what the diet says it’s supposed to be, and that’s because I inadvertently bought light vanilla ice cream (50 fewer calories per half cup than regular), “light” bread (45 calories a slice) and low-fat cottage cheese. When I added them up, I was significantly below the calories for each day (these are listed on the site – http://www.themilitarydiet.com).

So! I deviated from the diet plan for the last meal in order to make up for some of the calories I had lost. And my meal was way better. I like tuna – but not dry. 

  
And for dessert, once again, half a cup of vanilla ice cream (I ate a whole cup) and half a banana that I diced up, sprinkled with Stevia and cinnamon, and heated up in the microwave. The best part of the day, right here! 

All in all, this diet was challenging based on the scant amount of food that you can have. I will weigh myself tomorrow morning and post a brief blog entry letting you know my weight loss and my final thoughts on this diet.

Cheers!