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Make-Up Must-Haves No. 2

17 Oct
I also recommend anything Tarte - it's great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company.

I also recommend anything Tarte – it’s great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company. (Not being paid by them, just have a ton of their products.)

A few months ago, I wrote a blog blabbing on and on about my favorite beauty products and so much has changed (not really) since that day. Well, a few trips to Sephora, some birthday gifts, and a couple flash beauty sales – that’s what.

With the whole wedding day coming up and a couple Sephora gift cards to splurge on wedding makeup with (give me a break, it’s going to be stuff that I’d wear anyway), this list will probably change again – but whatev’s. I’d rather spend my paycheck on magnificent packaging and fantastic beauties than food and rent any day. PB&J’s FOREVA! (I do pay my rent and I do eat more than sammies, just so we’re clear.)

MAC ‘Haute and Naughty Lash’ Mascara

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Don’t hate. But I’s got some connected friends. This was a present from a dear pal that is lucky enough to get freebies (legally) every once and awhile. Lucky me. I have been stuck with Lancomé – which I still love – but never thought I would enjoy another lash thickening-lengthening blend for as long as I lived. Was I ever wrong. This stuff is more than my jam. It’s my jelly. It does the trick, and although it’s not waterproof, it sure acts like it. (I also really enjoyed the hot pink and purple topper – makes me think that Jerrica from Jem And The Holograms would have worn it.)

Sephora Precision Pore Cleansing Pad

Sephora+Pore+PadSo I have this thing for beauty and lifestyle blogs. A year ago, jobless and bored, I spent hours each day poring over xoJane online. The It Happened To Me section was my delight and I savored each one – until I ran through their entire stash. Lately though, I’m pretty sick of a lot of their content – “I’m shamed for this.” “I’m shamed for that.” “I’m more special and unique and here is my sob story.” Ya di ya di ya. BORING. Yes, I love a good place to be selfish (here) like everyone else, but still – get’s old. There is one fashion/beauty blogger named Alison Freer who pretty much keeps me coming back for more. She recommended this little $5 number in a blog months ago instead of spending the big bucks on a Clarisonic (which I still want.) It seriously cleans out your pours while washing your face with any gritty scrub in the shower. It does the job. Don’t get lunch, get this instead.

Chanel lip gloss

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This was a birthday gift – which is now probably one of my favorite birthday gifts of all time. I’m a fan of lip gloss, especially the more natural-looking kind, but always have a problem. Stickiness. I’ve bought tube after tube of Smashbox’s kind, and although I love the color, I feel like my lips are glued together. The cheaper brands seem to leave a plasticky taste and feel. This was not only a great color but the first time ever that I felt like my lips weren’t going to stay trapped together in a perma-thin-lipped smile. So worth it.

Benefit’s Watt’s Up

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I’m a big believer in all things Benefit. Not because of the cute packaging (which is super adorable), but because I have never had an issue with any of their products. (I’m planning on buying High Brow this week.) This is a little shine stick that I got with a Benefit mascara for a Birthday Beauty Insider’s Gift from Sephora. (Probably the best b-day gift I have received from that store.) I have gone through three pots of High Beam (a liquid highlighter), but this is one that I can store in my purse, blends easy, and is just pure awesome.

L’Occitane Jasmin perfume

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I used to babysit on the Upper West Side, and would sometimes arrive a little too early for my sitting job. So I’d wander around Central Park and to this block of amazing stores. After too many visits to the MAC store, I happened to receive a free sample of this perfume outside. I grabbed the free sample, said “Thank You”, and went on my way. A couple blocks later, I smelled the scent. It was natural, it was beautiful, it was … for me. I was about to run late to my job, but I had this sudden urge of “I HAVE TO HAVE”, so I went back to the store. I bought the perfume and wear it basically everyday (sorry Origins, you have been replaced). It’s my go-to store for gifts, as I can’t imagine anyone would hate this store’s products.

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector

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This was a find at a flash sale. I wouldn’t have normally bought this for it’s usual price, but man, what a deal. I have found many, many foundations and tints that I could use – and this just edges all of them out a bit more. It has a tinge of shimmer (not too crazy, goes on smoothly (like a face lotion), isn’t at all heavy and has an SPF of 25 (which is pretty important for my everyday face care.) It’s a large bottle, so I don’t think I will be going through it very fast.

First Aid Beauty 5-In-1 Face Cream

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I love face lotions. This was, again, from a flash sale, but it was definitely a steal. This is the creamiest, loveliest of lotions I have ever had. It’s anti-aging, has an SPF of 30, and moisturizes better than any I have ever owned before. So good.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge

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I was recently in a wedding and had my makeup done by an artist (she’s AMAZE-BALLS!) I haven’t had this happen since I was in college plays, and loved the experience. It feels so good, it makes me want to fall asleep, and the “Before” and “Afters” are pretty damn amazing. Anyhoo, she introduced me to Aqua Rouge (on one side is the lipstick, on the other is the gloss), and it stays on like a Mo-Fo. Does not come off, even when you try. So for an event, it’s a must. I purchased a really dark berry color, and plan to buy a nice red for my big day. I also want to try out their liquid liner and other cool products. Love things that don’t melt off my face right away.

So there ya go. Another list. Do what you will with it, but seriously, I would tell you if I hated the product. Oh yeah, another list. I can definitely get behind a “Which Make-Up Products Do I Hate” list. I’ve had more than enough misses over hits.

Top 5 ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark’ episodes

14 Aug

s5_topI miss SNICK. Every Saturday night, without fail, my brother and I would sit in front of the TV waiting for our favorite television shows to come on. We’d sometimes watch the entire two hours of programming, if “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” was on, but we never missed an episode of “Are You Afraid Of The Dark”. The intro, with the empty row boat in the water and the lone swing swaying in the wind and the ominous “woos” being sung in the background, still gives me the shivers.

Looking back, I can see why my parents were so okay with us watching the “scary” episodes. They ended much like R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” books did – sometimes terrifying, sometimes without a definite ending, and sometimes all wrapped nicely like a bow. They made you think and were not always as formulaic as they could have been. The show was really a “Twilight Zone” for junior high kids.

And while I sometimes go on YouTube to look up past episodes, there are a few that really stick out to me as favorites. Here are five of the ones that make the grade:

1. “The Tale of the Pinball Wizard” — Season 1, Episode 13

The story starts out with a boy named Ross who loves pinball games. While at the gaming store in the mall, he disobeys the shop owner who had forbid him from playing a certain game. Ross gets stuck inside the game (now being played in the real world, inside the closed mall). While he himself now has to save the princess, he encounters scary creatures and characters. This one doesn’t end so pleasantly, if I recall.

2. “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor” — Season 2, Episode 4

Siblings Karen and Billy love to play hockey in their awesome apartment building, which includes an empty skating rink-sized loft on the top floor. A creepy/crazy toy factory moves in (how is this space even big enough for that?) and it turns out that the owners are actuallyaliens in search of their daughter … KAREN! It’s a bit weird and Twilight Zone-y. So I like.

3. “The Tale of the Whispering Walls” — Season 2, Episode 8

On a drive back home from somewhere, I don’t remember, a babysitter and the two she is in charge of get lost. They end up going to a creepy tavern run by a guy who looks like he spends most of his time gaming at his mom’s house. He gives them really bad directions (on purpose), and they arrive at an old Victorian mansion slash fun house. I love this one, especially when a baby the sitter is holding turns into a giant snake.

4. “The Tale of Watcher’s Woods” — Season 3, Episode 3

This might be my favorite one. Kelly and Sarah are at an all-girls summer camp. They get lost in these super creepy woods nearby, where three campers were lost long ago. Turns out, these three lost girls turned into ghostly old hags who want to eat the young ones and cook them in a stew. Yay!

5. “The Tale of the Unfinished Painting” — Season 4, Episode 11

Okay, disclaimer – I really dislike the actress (Jewel Staite) who stars in this episode. She was also in an episode about a girl who loves to sleep and gets trapped in her dreams. Unfortunately, the powers that be at AYAOTD decided that she needed to be in the better written episodes, so sigh, but so annoying. Anyhoo, this girl goes to a painting class and the teacher wants her to finish her painting with a “special” paintbrush. She gets trapped in the painting, just like the people in the pictures displayed in the evil teacher’s gallery. I always wondered if some works of art were a bit too real.

BONUS: “The Tale of the Vacant Lot” — Season 5, Episode 10

So I actually had 6 in mind, but a Top 6 just isn’t sexy enough. High-school student Catherine just doesn’t feel like she fits in with the rest of her classmates. She can’t run fast, she doesn’t have the right clothes – being a white girl in middle-class America just sucks. AMIRITE?  She comes across a mysterious tent in a vacant lot. It’s a store run by the strange Marie. She offers all that Catherine could possibly want, but at a price. And the price is every self-centered high school girl’s nightmare! Mu-ha-ha-ha!

I didn’t list any of the Dr. Vink (DR. VINK!) episodes or some of the creepier ones (note, the first episode of the entire series was definitely too horrifying for 11-year-old me), but I like them all. I have now graduated to “The Twilight Zone”, and can’t get enough of their marathons during the holiday season. I am glad that this was available to me as a kid, and hope that there is some sort of comparative show for pre-teens now. Probably not.

Boxes of Childhood

24 Jul

I’m planning on going home for a wedding in a month, and my parents asked me to do something specific: Go through my old toys and collectibles. By collectibles, I mean paperback Sweet Valley Twins books and Barbies with missing legs.

I have been curious about what is in all of those basement boxes. I mean, I went through my childhood bedroom before I moved out east and purged basically everything and anything besides one closet shelf and one box of books. On the shelf is a box of papers from college and high school that I deemed worthy of not being pitched. My trusty clarinet lies resplendently in its case, and a couple handmade quilts made by my grandmother sit next to it.

But the basement? Wow. I’m going to imagine that these are a few of the things that I will find:

I have slammers, pogs, containers - the whole enchilada.

I have slammers, pogs, containers – the whole enchilada.

Pogs. I have a shit ton of Pogs. Did I actually ever play the game? No. Never. But I had the best, THE BEST, collection out of anyone in the fifth grade – and I planned to keep it that way. There used to be a hologram store in the Mall of America. I spent all my saved allowance money one year on silver, shiny wood pieces with ever-changing scenes. Well, I also spent some money on some fake eyeballs and boogers to freak everyone else, but priorities, man. There used to be a baseball card shop in our small town. Many Saturday mornings, my dad and I spent time going through the huge trash can bin in the corner of the shop full of beautiful, beautiful Pogs. Due to this process, I have the entire collection of Simpsons Pogs – every character showcased. While I never played the game (because you would likely lose a few), I sure did trade some. I was quite the miser and knew if I was getting a good deal or getting screwed. One time, I wiped this girl’s collection of mint-condition first-edition Pogs. The ones that came from Hawaii. She got one of my cheap wildlife collections. She liked Pandas, I liked money. That’s that. So I know that each and every one of these Pogs will still be sitting organized in their baseball card-style binders.

This was my absolutely favorite folder of all time. I think I may have got it for my homework a few years in a row. Not ashamed.

This was my absolutely favorite folder of all time. I think I may have got it for my homework a few years in a row. Not ashamed.

Lisa Frank memorabilia. I have a box, I know I do, of all of my middle school and elementary school projects and papers. Yeah, not throwing that away. That’s inked gold, in my opinion, like all of my journals and diaries that I have kept over the years. Papers will be contained in glittery unicorn-covered folders. For sure. There is a likelihood that unused LF pencils, erasers and other desk supply items will be there too. Because I always got double – the regular yellow No. 2 pencils and pink erasers are what I actually used every day, just so I could stare at all the brand new shiny LF material all the time. There will also be a Garfield pencil from a guy that I had a huge crush on in 4th grade, and a disgusting box full of hair ties from my “sorority” in second grade. We pretended we had “secret sisters” like our own mother’s clubs and we gave each other gifts of things we found around the house. Like dirty hair bands. Yay.

This is not what it looked like. I can't find the image right now. It was clear, full of purple glitter liquid, and I thought the scent was so great. Now, I hate almost every B&B scent. Almost.

This is not what it looked like. I can’t find the image right now. It was clear, full of purple glitter liquid, and I thought the scent was so great. Now, I hate almost every B&B scent. Almost.

Bath and Body Works Freesia. I am expecting this. Yes, I am. In sixth or seventh grade, I don’t remember which, B&B products were all the rage. And for a group of my classmates, this slivery $12 hand liquid was amazing. We carried our bottles everywhere and set them on our desk, like it was a necessity. Just this giant bottle sitting there. We would only use dots of the liquid as an empty bottle would be totally not cool. Anyways, I barely ever used the stuff, , and I don’t ever remember throwing it away. I’m scared to find out what kind of congealed goo I’m going to find.

I had a few of these in my collection. The Genesis one for sure.

I had a few of these in my collection. The Genesis one for sure.

My tape collection. I was given my first tape player at a wee age. And my beloved tapes, in their red plastic box, were my go-to stress reliever as a 7-year-old. Well, that and Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. So many stresses. Wilson Phillips, The Jets, Madonna, Atlantic Starr, and Janet Jackson. I fell in love with my mom’s Pretty Woman soundtrack and my dad’s The Best Of The Beach Boys. Those were quickly stolen and added to my ever-growing collection. I listened to Mariah Carey’s Fantasy on repeat for so long that I had to piece the tape together after it shredded in my broken player. It worked, with many, many pauses and slow-motion singing  included.

Whenever you saw this display in the front of the restaurant, it was go time. More than once, did a worker give my a boy toy and each time it was exchanged for a pretty-haired doll. Can't fool a child on a mission.

Whenever you saw this display in the front of the restaurant, it was go time. More than once, did a worker give my a boy toy and each time it was exchanged for a pretty-haired doll. Can’t fool a child on a mission.

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys. We were never allowed to eat at the Golden Arches very often, but every once and awhile, it was okay. Especially in the summertime. Each year, the offerings of miniature Barbies sent my family flying for plain hamburger dinners. My dad has been quite the collector over the years, and helped nurture my love of Pogs, baseball cards, and miniature Barbies. I have this Barbie carrier filled heavy with these toys, and I played with them sometimes more often than their larger leggy friends.

I had most of the PP play-set, but the gazebo was my favorite. It turned in a circle, while the magnetized orange-haired girl danced. And it played a haunting music box sound.

I had most of the PP play-set, but the gazebo was my favorite. It turned in a circle, while the magnetized orange-haired girl danced. And it played a haunting music box sound.

Toys. Of course. The Barbies, O’Jennys, Precious Places, Little People (not exactly PC, I know), Ghostbusters, She-Ra and her castle, and Carebears. At one time, I had quite the collection of stuffed animals. But after my mom and doctors realized I had a non-stop sinus problem and allergies, those were thrown out. But my pillow Rainbow Brite was my best friend. She went with me everywhere, and was so thread-bare that she could no longer be thrown in the wash. I slept with that doll for longer than I’d care to admit, and once when she was left in an Omaha, Neb. hotel, I threw an absolute fit. Luckily, a hotel maid realized that it was a beloved item and mailed it back to me. She will never, ever be thrown out.

This is the exact Rainbow Brite pillow form that my Great-Aunt Luella used to make the doll for me. She doesn't exactly look like this anymore. There might be a slight resemblance in the boots.

This is the exact Rainbow Brite pillow form that my Great-Aunt Luella used to make the doll for me. She doesn’t exactly look like this anymore. There might be a slight resemblance in the boots.

I’m actually kind of excited to sort through all of that. A nostalgic trip back through the years. I’m sure many memories will come peeking out – with all the smells and sights those boxes contain.

Oh, and one last thing that will be in there that I just remembered. This is really weird, but here goes: Plastic baby fetuses. Yes, I just said that. At the county and state fair, the pro-life booth would have these container on the table chock full of them. My sister and I innocently asked for them all the time and stuffed them into our jean short pockets. We have bunches. Seriously. Why, you wonder? At that time, there was no baby Barbies. And when you wrapped each up in a little piece of cloth, there’s a baby for Barbie and her boy-toy Ken. We never thought anything of it. Well … until now. So, I will, uh, leave you with that. Don’t judge.

Best of Omaha

8 May

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I used to despise Omaha. I didn’t care if it was a pretty town or that it was close to home, it just wasn’t the big city I wanted to live in. So when I would make my 3-hour trek (it was exactly 3 hours, no more – no less), I would hem and haw about having to spend more time in a place that I had already determined was awful. But here’s the thing: It isn’t. It’s actually pretty awesome. The reason I had such a dilemma with the city was that my boyfriend (who lived there) tried his damnedest to convince me that I wanted to live there too. And like a small child, I would argue the opposite until I was blue in the face. It’s just in my nature to be that immature. And while I pretended that I would rather be anywhere else, I secretly enjoyed being there. In fact, I’ve even suggested moving to said city if he were to get a teaching job at his alma mater (University of Nebraska). Of course, his jaw dropped.

Wells people, since I spent almost every other weekend there for three years (THREE YEARS? My poor car.) I have some advice on some of the coolest places to visit in Omaha. Well, the places I enjoyed exploring, anyways.

STORES

Scout Dry Goods & Trade – 5019 Underwood Ave. http://ilovescout.com/

Guys, I have a serious second-hand clothing store addiction. And honestly, I haven’t been super happy with the selection in NYC. Yeah, blasphemous, I know. But, it is all because of this store. It spoiled me. I like a store that is going to sell amazing vintage/fancy brands/at a decent price. You can find the first two, but not the third. Most of the second-hand stores here (like the one that they featured on a TV show) are way too expensive for what they provide. And people go bananas for it. BANANAS. But this store has it all. I also bought my first Theory skirt here for $50. Yeah, it’s that awesome. Every weekend, there was a new awesome selection (they are very picky with the product that comes through their doors). My meager paycheck went basically to car payments and this store. Oh, and for all that gas to drive to said establishment. Anyways, go to this store. I miss it so.

The Afternoon – 10000 California St. www.theafternoon.com

There are actually two locations for this store in Omaha. This just so happens to be the one I enjoy going to the most. It’s a store of knickknacks, a hodgepodge of great things that you don’t realize you need until you get in the store. I got my more quirky presents for people exclusively at this place. There is also one in the Mall of America, if you are thinking to yourself “Hey! I think I know that store, but you are thinking the wrong location!” No, my friends. I’ve been to three of them so far. All deliciously wonderful.

Homer’s Music – 1210 Howard St. www.homersmusic.com

My first trip to Omaha was memorable. Nate and I were completely unsure why I was there. Were we dating? Maybe, who knows, can’t keep track. But I knew one thing. When I saw this record shop, I had to go in. If you love music (good music), for the love of God go in. ‘Murica.

RESTAURANTS/PUBS/BARS

Bangkok Cuisine - 1905 Farnam St.

Um, I have a confession. I have tried a lot of Asian food in NYC (Chinatown, Midtown, East Village, many other places), and I have yet to find a place that will beat this restaurant. I’m not even joking or exaggerating even a tiny bit. We have been to many restaurants and bars in Omaha (that’s just our favorite form of entertainment, eating). We basically ate here almost every weekend I visited. The first time, after going on a major Urbanspoon kick, we took the recommendations and went. We went round and round the block, because there is not actually a well-lit sign or anything. Just a bright yellow door. And while the ambiance of the restaurant might be lacking, it is the best Asian cuisine I have ever had. We have even half-joked about flying to Omaha just to get some Tom Yum Gai soup. Oh, and the prices are unbelievably cheap. So, yeah, GO.

Dundee Dell - 5007 Underwood Ave.

Awesome pub. And surprise, it’s a few stores away from Scout. So, double plus! The entire Dundee neighborhood is just pretty bad ass. Warren Buffet lives there. We loved to go look at Christmas lights in the Dundee district, where houses are located on cobblestone roads. It’s pretty beautiful. Back to the pub. Try their Philly Cheesesteak Po Boy. Num-num.

Crescent Moon Ale House - 3578 Farnam St.

Sticking with the pub theme a couple more rounds. This place is boss. Their food, their drinks – we just freakin’ loved this place. In the afternoon, in the evening. Whenever. Try their soup menu. So great. Also, they are right next to Beertopia, a beer heaven.

Upstream Brewing Company - 514 S 11th St.

Because I don’t want to seem like I just hang out in bars (kinda true), I’ll put a couple in this one entry. Just if you go to the Old Market, which is beautiful, check out this brewery. Again, this is sad, but I have not found a beer I like more than one of their house beers, the Firehouse Red. I get excited when I find something that somewhat rivals it – but it still loses. Okay, I also give shout-outs to Jake’s Cigars & Spirits (crazy mixed drinks) and Old Mattress Factory Bar (great atmosphere).

Rick’s Cafe Boatyard - 514 S 11th St.

This restaurant is located right on the Missouri River (that’s the right one…I think…). Although the food is just alright, it’s the atmosphere and being right on the water that gives this location a top vote.

COFFEE

Crane Coffee - 5923 Center St.

Besides eating out, we like to go get coffee. A lot. And there are some great options in Omaha: Caffeine Dreams, Blue Line Cafe, Scooter’s – we just really enjoyed Crane Coffee. There are a couple of locations, and it just seemed to be our go-to place.

MOVIE THEATERS

Aksarben Theater - 2110 S 67th St.

Hold on to your britches, because I have four favorites in this category. Besides eating lots of food and drinking copious amounts of liquids, we like to watch a ton of movies, children. Yeah, we’s gots favorites. We go to a lot of movies, and it was super important for us to find some great theaters in our area when we moved to Jersey City. It took awhile, and we learned that just because there is a movie theater in a mall close to us, it doesn’t mean we should go there. Like ever. Anyhoo, this theater is super clean, hip (has a full bar), and just great. This was our go-to mainstream theater that shows blockbuster films.

Marcus Midtown Cinema - 3201 Farnam St.

I brag about my experiences at Marcus basically anywhere I go. We Love Marcus Midtown. Okay, so you go up a couple escalators. And then you buy your ticket, I mean your seat. You can pay for standard seats, or leather, or the creamy leather Oh-my-god awesome seats. In the upgraded seats, you can ring a buzzer and ask a waiter to bring you food and drinks. It’s basically one of the best things I have ever discovered. The prices are not unreasonable for dinner and a movie, and it’s just a lot of fun. Oh, and the quality of the screen and sound are pretty spectacular.

Film Streams - 1340 Mike Fahey St.

We admit it. We see a lot of films. We can be big movie snobs. And so we sometimes like to go to snobby films. This is that place we can enjoy said movies. With other people with turned-up noses.

Dundee Theatre - 4952 Dodge St.

This theater is disgusting, dirty, and very old. And very beautiful. It’s so grand and lovely with chandeliers, but you go there for the midnight showings. Whether it is The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something completely hideous, you can heckle the crap out of a movie with many other young adults. It helps if you have drank a few.

NATURE-Y THINGS and such

Fontenelle Forest - 1111 Bellevue Blvd N. www.fontenelleforest.org

We have gone to many parks in Omaha. We have also visited many of the trails, and while this is a bit outside of the city, it’s definitely a must-see. This forest has many winding bridges, and is just a real green beauty.

Heartland of America Park - 800 Douglas St.

This man-made park was a place we spent a lot of time at. Mostly to watch the geese around the lake, because we were cool like that. Honestly, many important conversations were had at this lake while we were busy making sure we weren’t sitting on goose poop. “Should we break up?” “No, don’t sit there. Goose poop!” “Thanks for that, so should we?” “Nah. Eh, maybe.”

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge - 705 Riverfront Dr.

Kind of one of those must-dos in Omaha. I always grudgingly trudged to the bridge, but enjoyed being there when I was finally on it. Especially when it was lit up at night.

THOSE OTHER GREAT THINGS

Old Market

If you are going to visit Omaha, more than likely you have heard of the Old Market. It’s a cobblestone shopping mecca filled with restaurants, eclectic stores, and other attractions. There are hidden stores in back allies that I super enjoyed and it’s just a place that will put a smile on your face. If you like that sort of thing.

Henry Doorly Zoo - 3701 S 10th St.

Okay. You aren’t from Nebraska. You are definitely, most likely going to the zoo. Or to the airport. In any case, you won’t be disappointed (I mean the airport is nice :)). We should have bought yearly passes for the money we plunked down to watch penguins and gorillas. The aquarium is wonderful, the desert dome is wonderful, it’s all just a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of place. Tip: Go on a weekday. And if you are going, get there when it opens. It gets crowded fast and parking is free, but finding a spot isn’t always the easiest.

So there. A few of my favorite places in good ole Omaha. I look forward to seeing this city again someday. I also look forward to driving a car, seeing green spaces, friendly Midwesterners … okay, done grumbling.

BYE!

Classic Books From My Past

24 Apr

Books have been an integral part of my life. I despised, repeat despised, any kind of forced sport in the summer, and would rather spend my time curled up in my air-conditioned local library (shout-out to Kendall Young, seriously the best library I have EVER been in). If I wasn’t there, I was sitting on my bed with my Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies and any number of books. My bookshelf was always overflowing, and I never just checked out two or three books at a time. I was fortunate, in that my mother gave me $5 each month for my Scholastic book order. I was overjoyed when I received the thin-sheeted catalog and always stretched that money and bought the cheaper books. When a book sale came to school, I was given money there too. Sheer excitement for any and every book.

Now, I still read books meant for middle-school readers and have recently begun to restock my library as I had gotten rid of many over the years (why???). Here are a few (or more than a few) that helped shape my literary world and became quite dog-eared in the process.

(Note: Haven’t included board books or The American Girl classics from my past … OR a list of my absolute FAVE Sweet Valley Twins, those all seem like longer lists for another day. Also, these are just the ones I remember at the moment. I’m sure tonight, there will be a ton of other ones I wish I had mentioned.)

Interstellar Pig

Interstellar-Pig

I never thought of myself as someone who enjoyed the science fiction genre, but this one just kicked serious behind. A boy goes on vacation, gets bored, starts playing games … with ALIENS. It’s pretty great.

The Giver

the-giver

What is not to love about this book? I still read it at least twice a year, and feel that it is the best Dystopian novel that I have ever read. Oh, I love The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Road, and stories like The Lottery – this one is just the best. Each time, I come away with a different conclusion.

Tuck Everlasting

tuck

This was, for me, my Where The Red Fern Grows. That book made me cry just a bit too much. I became too emotionally invested in this book, and had to step away from it for awhile. (It was always a bit hard to separate fantasy from reality for me as a kid.)

Blubber

Blubber+-+Scott+Niven

This is the actual book cover of the one in my collection when I was younger, which I find somewhat disturbing now. It was my first Judy Blume book. And while it is an older read, I really find this book to be a great learning tool for children to prevent bullying. The main character isn’t exactly a nice person, and I really enjoyed having a non-hero as the story’s teller.

The Long Winter

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I never got rid of any of my Laura Ingalls Wilder books. That might have been blasphemous. And while I count all of her novels as “favorites,” this was my go-to. Every winter, without fail, I’d cozy up and learn about the plight of the Ingalls family and all of their neighbors during a horrible blizzard.

The Wish Giver

9780590420402Amazing. One of my absolute faves. After attending a local fair, four people are left with “wish cards.” Unfortunately, three of their wishes do not go as planned. SOOO GOOD!

The Indian In The Cupboard

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Going to be honest: If any doll or toy becomes real, I will instantly love it. There is one book, Melony, Melody, I don’t know, it starts with an ‘M’, about a mean fashion doll becoming real. The copy that my sister and I owned was in absolute pieces from the amount of times we read that sucker.

Charlotte’s Web

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“That’ll do, pig.” This book is just a classic. So sad, so poetic, so wonderful.

The Best Loved Doll

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I’m getting into more younger book territory here, but I have continuously read this book throughout the years. A little girl brings her favorite doll to a party. She could pick one of her more fancy dolls, something impressive, but she chooses to bring the one she loves best. It’s ratty and torn, but very loved. The Store Bought Doll and Corduroy come to mind when thinking of this book.

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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Oh, wow, this book is so good. Two children decide to run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And live there. What is not to like about this story?

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

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Rats helping Mrs. Frisby (a mouse) and her family escape from spring plowing. It is such a beautiful tale, and it makes me cry every time.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Baby-Sitters On Board!

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I honestly wasn’t a huge TBC fan. I had a few of these on my bookshelf, but they were far outnumbered by the Sweet Valley Twins. Yet, I had one that I would read constantly, and this was it. The club goes on a cruise and to Disneyland (some have to work, while others can breeze on through the vacation, which I felt was unfair) but it tells the tale from multiple viewpoints (like the other books, but this one just worked even better). I wanted to be on that trip with them. I wanted to be Stacey (without diabetes) or Claudia (who was just plain awesome). Not Kristy, though. Never Kristy. She scared me.

Little Women

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I read this very early in my career as a reader. First, with one of those easy-to-read versions and moving on to the real thing. If it is not my favorite book, it is definitely in the top 3 of all time.

The Devil’s Arithmetic

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I have had the pleasure of seeing Jane Yolen speak on a few occasions. One of these days, I’m going to thank her for writing this book. During a Passover Seder supper, Hannah (who is Jewish) is transported to Poland in 1942, where she is sent to a Nazi concentration camp. It is an absolutely attention-grabbing read, and led to many, many other books on the subject of World War II. At the time period that I first read this novel, I was only buying books that told of tales from the Holocaust. I was pretty young, and I remember my parents taking away my WWII books because I couldn’t sleep at night. This is a book I recommend ANYONE read.

The Secret Garden

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This was not the book jacket of the book I own (to this day). Mine is beautiful, and I would stare at it for a long time before opening because of its breathtaking artwork. I would pretend that I had a secret garden, which was actually an outdoor art studio in my neighborhood. No one knew about it, except for obviously the photographer and his family, but I pretended it was all mine.

tumblr_m8tnl4nalC1qzgrn9o1_400R.L. Stine really should be mentioned because he was my gateway author to Christopher Pike. I mean, I read all of their books, reiterate ALL, but this is the book I will still read. A girl runs away from home and her problems, and ends up picking up a couple of hitchhikers. She reveals more and more of her back story, and it is just an absolutely wild tale. This one isn’t just a horror novel, it is one that makes you think. After reading this book, I was ready for the world that Stephen King offered.

Sweet Valley Twins: The Magic Christmas

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Ask any of my family members (extended, even) what my favorite books from yesteryear include, and they will say “Sweet Valley Twins.” I have them all. Every single one of them. I have read them all more than four or five times each. And when I was packing away my life’s belongings to move to NYC, this is the box of items I left at home for safe storage. I will never sell them. And while I love all of the books and specials, The Magic Christmas is my absolute favorite. After arguing and fighting on Christmas Day, the girls are transported along with their dolls to a magical land. I wanted to be one of the twins most of the time, but never more than in this novel. I still read it every Christmas.

I could have listed young adult or middle school books that I read now, like the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series, but I didn’t discover those until I was out of grade school. And there are so many other books I could list that I so enjoyed, like the Pick Your Own Adventure series, but these are the few I will still go to every once and awhile and get to remember what I was like as a kid. Reading these remind me of certain moments of my life and how I felt at those times. And so while I enjoy these books for the texts contained in them, I also read them to cherish my childhood once more.

Online shopping is not my friend

24 Apr

Shop online

Another girly-girl list. Because it’s Wednesday, and it’s going to be my list-day, dammit!

Today, I’m going to explore my favorite online shopping sites. When I was jobless without money, I scoured websites for things I didn’t need and/or obviously couldn’t afford. Once and awhile, when I’m super depressed, easily influenced, or just feel like it – I will go a little crazy. And Amazon is awesome, but everyone (besides book retailers) loves that site.

Target.com

Obviously. I love Target.com. I love everything about it, I love the red colors, I just love this big-box store. And with my Target Visa card, I can get a percentage off my purchase each time (on and offline) as well as FREE freakin’ SHIPPING. That would make anyone jump for joy. Especially me. I have bought cheap furniture, home decor, our new vacuum, things I just don’t want to haul in our little blue grocery cart from the real live store from here. So happy.

ShabbyApple.com

My go-to want-to-buy-awesome-clothes site. I have a huge obsession with Anthropology, an unhealthy one, really. But on my budget, I can barely afford items in the clearance section. I will allow myself to go into their beautiful doors once a month, just to bask in its greatness. This site is much more affordable, super classy, and just plain awesome. Customer service is extremely helpful, the reviews are pretty honest, and a portion of their net income goes to charity. It’s where I would imagine a nowadays middle-class Audrey Hepburn would online shop.

ModCloth.com

I will admit that I don’t visit this site as much as I used to (due to the site mentioned right above), but I have bought many things from here in the past. Including purses and bags that I still use. I like to use this site as a reference for items that I may like to buy in the future. Warning: If you like the dresses on here (and many of you might), realize that the fabric isn’t the best and everything comes in teeny sizes. You were warned.

Gilt.com

This is one of those flash-sale sites that is pretty expensive if you go there every day. But, if you get e-mail alerts, you may find a brand or type of item that you may want to search there for on their daily sales. Like getting Hunter boots for a much smaller cost than you would find them in the stores.

Overstock.com

What is not to love about this site? So many beautiful, beautiful pieces of furniture that I wish I could buy right now. If my apartment were twice the size (oh yeah, and my bank account). But the throws and pillows are in my price range.

TheAfternoon.com

I go to this site for two reasons. One, because if you want unique gifts, this may be a start to wear you would find them. Two, I would visit this store in Minneapolis and Omaha whenever I was in either city – and, sigh, I just miss setting foot in this store.

UncommonGoods.com

Speaking of unique gifts, this is a really cool place. I go there just to find inspiration or ideas, it’s pretty pricey otherwise.

Blinds.com

I haven’t actually gone to this site per say, but my mom and sister really enjoy it. So yeah, throwing that out there.

Etsy.com

Well, this is obvious. Want cool things that are (maybe) homemade. Then go here. It’s always great to buy from the little guy rather than the chains, and more likely than not, way awesomer stuff. Like a cross-stitched wall adornment of a swear word. Magical.

Sephora.com

For obvious reasons. You can get your free samples and your beauty bonuses (way more choices than if you go into the store), and free shipping after spending so much money. A wonderful place indeed.

Zappos.com

Where am I currently looking? This place. Because this girl loves some shoes.

Yeah, I’m extending this blog with a part two tomorrow. Favorite sites to procrastinate on at work on Thursday.

Sleepover!

19 Apr

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I’m pretty excited for this weekend. One of my best grade school friends is coming to visit. And this time, I feel a bit more prepared. We have had visitors, but they all came within a couple of months of us moving to the NYC area. We were definitely newbies, didn’t know exactly how to use all the public transit systems, and were iffy when it came to general directions. I knew where the important things were: the mall, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Times Square. So after being here for more than half a year, we can act a bit more like residents instead of tourists. We have our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and areas of the city. So, yeah, exciting.

But what I’m most excited about is having a friend spend the night. At my apartment. Okay, as a late twenty-something, that isn’t so exhilarating as it once was, but it used to be! Remember gearing up to spend the night at someone’s house? Be it a birthday party or some other occasion, it was something you looked forward to all week-long. And you were nervous about it, too. Sometimes more the latter for me. Will it be fun? Will everyone like me? Will I be able to go to sleep in a different house? The only time I ever didn’t feel like that was when I was spending the night at one of my cousin’s houses. Because it felt almost exactly like my house. So anyways, here are a few of the top things I almost peed my pants about with slumber parties:

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Many times you went to a slumber party for someone’s birthday. In that case, you either went roller skating or bowling. So awesome.

11-mini-individual-pizza-ready-cookThe food. A lot of times it was make-your-own-pizza. Sometimes it was make-your-own cookie pizza. Whatever the occasion, it always included pizza. And occasionally I would throw up said pizza after a whole night of no sleep and getting sick because of it. Yum.

what-are-the-best-late-night-snacks-1351168261-nov-9-2012-1-600x400And snacks. Always snacks. Whether it was popcorn, M&M’s or cake – there was always something. Sometimes my parents served sparkling cider. I felt like I was a million bucks – the snobby little kid I was.

6a00d83451761569e2017c34ca9bf0970b-800wiGames. You played some kind of game. It could have been on a Super Nintendo game, but I always remember playing Jenga. Perhaps it was because I never owned the stellar game myself.

Girl-Talk-A-Game-of-Truth-or-Dare-Board-GameNot exactly this game, per say. But, the game of Truth or Dare. God, I hated that game. I always was stuck with the most outrageous dare or telling my deepest darkest secrets. For some reason, I remember running around houses in my underwear more than a couple times. It’s a bit disturbing. And why was that the first thing that people thought of? Run around the house in your underwear. Please. Then another girl would have something SOOOOO damn easy, like hold your breath for a few seconds, and it would just piss me off.

cootiecatcher-LASTPICAnd this. Cootie catcher, paper fortune-teller – whatever. We made these constantly at slumber parties. And yes, they were completely accurate. And if you wanted a do-over, you couldn’t. Because that was the rules.

mash1997You had to play this game. I think it might have been required? Pretty sure there was a written requirement that MASH had to be played. And I always ended up in an apartment or a shack. And I never ended up with the right guy, enough money, or a great car. It really gave me high hopes for the future.

catsTwice, there were times when I felt like demons had entered my body and were allowing the person to float. Once, I was the one floating and the other, I was using all my strength to carry the girl with my hands. But it felt real. 2 a.m. and a room full of middle-school-aged girls definitely is a magical time.

ouija-boardOh, I played. I sure did. I felt bad and dirty about doing it. That I was going to hell or was somehow in an initiation to become a witch (I didn’t understand a lot about religion back then).

After all the games, we’d start talking about our secret crushes. Our Top 10 hottest list of boys in the school. These top-secret conversations were never recorded, so those guys could never prove it ever happened. If though, you attended a slumber party where you knew that a certain girl also had the same crush, you kept said boy’s name to yourself. You didn’t want no middle school cat fight to break out. Nu-uh.

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Oh, I heart you nameless boys that will never, ever know that I hearted you so much.

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After all that, if we had time, we’d bring in our stashes of nail polish and go to town. I loved the horrible colors – silver, green, and brown. Grrreeaaat.

MV5BMTUyMjYxODg0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTU4MzU5._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_Maybe, at 4 a.m., we’d watch a movie. This was always a go-to at our slumber parties. BECAUSE I LOVE THIS MOVIE, SO MUCH. I wanted to be Idgie so bad.

ice-cubes-for-toned-glowing-skinAnd you just hoped, just hoped, that you wouldn’t fall asleep first. Your bra was frozen or you had ice cubes stuck in your sleeping bag. Again, strict rules for slumber parties. Just had to happen. Both super uncomfortable. And made for one crabby pre-teen.

Last, but not least, the most nerve-wracking part of a slumber party was wondering if you would be invited. This was a super valid question, and was frequently a downer for me. I’d feel oh-so-bad walking home from school, knowing that many of my friends would be sharing secrets, pizza, and having fun with NOT ME. Oh well, I always had these people on Friday night.

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