First Soup of 2016! Red Lentil and North African Spices

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How’s everyone’s 2016 so far?  All’s fabulous here…lots more to do getting settled into the new apartment and fantastic new life in Seattle proper!  LOTS and lots of downsizing and purging…when you go from a 3 bedroom 1450 sq ft townhouse to an (awesome) NEW 1 bedroom with 650 sq ft…well, it’s an adjustment!  IMG_0565And an incredible adjustment it is.  Joyous, cleansing and full of happiness.  I’m learning how much I unconsciously “filled” the large spaces in the townhouse with crap I didn’t need.  Kitchen gadgets.  Clothes.  Towels.  Sheets.  God knows what else.

Now I’m learning that everything…EVERYTHING in the new apartment needs to Earn. Its. Keep.  Everything’s gotta count!  That means choosing pieces which are best sellers that not only are beautiful but are functional as well.  Exhibit A:  the gorgeous 6 3/4 quart (~6.3 l) Le Creuset cast iron Dutch oven…my housewarming gift to myself!  This will last me a lifetime…and it was a terrific find at an outlet about an hour drive north.  It’s a “closeout” color – love the gorgeous blue!

I’m continuing my love affair with making soup from scratch, which started probably 3-4 years ago.  Search on “soup” in here and see what pops up!

E and I made a delicious red lentil soup with North African spices we found in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  As the recipe explains, red lentils are relatively quick and easy to cook, as their skins are already removed.  Meaning, no hours of soaking required!  Hooray! We just gave these a quick rinse in a colander and they were good to go.  Don’t have a stick blender to puree your soup?  No problem here.  Just grab a large whisk and give the soup a whirl at the end of the cooking process to give it a coarse texture.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 C chicken broth
  • 2 C water
  • 10.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 T lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint, crumbled
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro

Melt 2 T butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in broth, water and lentils and bring to a simmer.  Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds.  Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste.  Cover and keep warm.  The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Thin the soup with water, if desired, when reheating.

Melt remaining 2 T butter in a small skillet.  Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika.  Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with 1 tsp spiced butter, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Fivenineteen notes:  Oh my goodness, just one clove of garlic??  Criminal!  Don’t skimp here…rather, we used an entire head.  And feel free to amp up the spices much more than this recipe called for.  We did use a few ounces more than the 10.5 called for, and I think that made the soup a lot more bland than we liked.  That’s what leftovers are for, right?  Time to add more spices!  We also used salted butter and it made no difference.

Buon appetito!

Break on Through to the Other Side…

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CC AptMy God, I did it.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s been months since my last post.  I did it…I really fucking DID IT.

I sold the townhouse and moved back into Seattle proper.  To a beautiful, eclectic neighborhood, and I can’t wait to share more about it with all of you.

Just wanted to sneak in one more post before our calendars flip to 2016.  Wow.  The last few months have been a whirlwind blur of fixit projects on turbo overloaded fast track.  Everything to get the townhouse ready to go on the market.  Real estate here in Seattle is still redhot and I wanted my share, not to mention make a long overdue move to get back to an urban lifestyle.

It happened.  I’ve been pinching myself lately as I still can’t believe it’s true.  But it is.  Check out my kitchen island and great room.  The room is now a glorious sea of boxes as I get unpacked and organized.  Downsizing is AWESOME, everyone….I highly recommend it.  I gaze around at this glorious new apartment and up at my 10 foot ceilings.  THIS is home for now.

And much more to follow.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Here’s to an even better 2016.

Dreams…Dusted Off

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6_RL_June2015Well, my dear readers and followers…this has been the longest I’ve gone in a loooong time not posting in here.  Been kind of a nice break and breather.  Sometimes I just don’t feel compelled to post every week like I’ve typically done the past few years…wow, this blog will be SIX in September!  Life has transformed in so many ways since that first “I don’t know what’s going to happen in here” post in September 2009.

So what’s been going on lately?  A HOT HOT HOT Seattle summer…mind blowing and record-breaking!  90s temperatures (32-33 degrees C)…before the 4th of July???  Yes.  And I love it.  I embrace it and relish in it.  So I have sweat running down my back upstairs here in the townhouse sometimes?  Who cares.

And I’ve gone to the dark side these past couple months…yes, I’m getting into cycling.  As in bike riding.  I was fortunate to stumble upon a great (free) offer to take a bike from a friend and former co-worker…one of those classic “I got a bike and I only rode it 6 times in 3 years” stories.  And I’m hooked!  Wow.  I’m discovering the freedom and flexibility (not to mention great exercise) provided to your mind and body when you ditch your car and hop on your bike.

I started right away doing some urban biking with E.  Along the Duwamish trail.  West Seattle to Georgetown.  West Seattle up to Fremont for the annual Solstice Festival.  And the bus system provides even more flexibility, as they come equipped with bike racks.  What could be easier than this?  Just hop on the bus, clamp your bike on the rack and voila!  Actually, E’s been helping me with getting my bike up onto the bus racks until I get the hang of it. I’ve got the upper body strength to lift it up, but the mechanics of it aren’t quite there yet for me.  I’m super happy for the help meanwhile.  And discovering the joy of (re)discovering my hometown on two wheels!

I’m glad my first ventures out were straight away into urban environments like Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Columbia City and other Seattle neighborhoods.  You really have to be on your guard watching for cars and large trucks…this is the industrial heart of Seattle where it all happens…neighborhoods you might normally zip through and not pay much attention to in your car.  Now, on a bike…you savor them.  The scenery.  The sounds.  The smells.  Bakeries.  Truck Fuel.  Urine. Flowers.

And when we switched to riding in more suburban or paved bike trail environments around here, I felt so calm, like it was no big deal.  Going super urban and through downtown right away…well, I didn’t have any time to second guess myself or feel nervous.  Just GO!  Now THAT’S awesome.

We’ve beaten the heat getting outta Dodge for some beautiful hikes…the latest was Rachel Lake, just over Snoqualmie Pass.  It’s a challenging one with some steep switchbacks and a couple of small rock scrambles.  When you get to the top (see the pic above) you’re at around 4600′ elevation (1420m).  Amazing.  Even at that elevation it was warm…but the breezes were cool and I was ready to cannonball into the lake!  But dunking my feet in was bliss.  I highly recommend this hike – it’s not an easy one, fair warning, though.  And bring your bug spray.  The mosquitoes are rampant, but when I was doused in spray I managed only 4-5 bites over a 6 hour hike which is pretty amazing.

Sometimes dreams reawaken with a crack of rotten wood and a SNAP.  That’s just what happened when E put his foot through the rotten dried up wood on one of my deck balconies.  Thankfully it was intentional and not an accident (eesh).  So a trip to the lumber yard is on the list soon to replace the boards (it’s pretty small , about 65 sq feet).

And with that, a dream from 20+ years ago reawakened from its long slumber…I need to live in the city and get out of the suburbs.  For real.  Now that I work downtown and spend most of my free time in the city as well, I’m realizing how my townhouse has morphed into a crash pad.  A crash pad screaming for more repairs and updates.  Things I’ve put off due to confusion or just pure procrastination and fucking laziness.

Oh yes, you’re intrigued now, right?  Stay tuned for much, much more on this new (reawakened) dream!  The wheels are in motion to fix this place up and find me a new place to live.

Best Sellers – an Eclectic Roundup!

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Wow, it’s been nearly a month since my last post!  Doesn’t seem like that long, but then again so much is happening and whirling along in wonderful ways.  How does time go fast and yet slow at the same time?

The journey of adjusting to a more urban lifestyle is a glorious one (well, urban at least when I’m commuting and working downtown).  So is the shift away from years of contracting work (meaning, work gigs that last a year or so and then you move on by design).  Now I’m a permanent employee in an industry I’ve always wanted to work in, doing the kind of work I love and am pretty good at doing after more than 20 years doing it.   I’m not “new” at this company any longer (I started late last September), but there’s still so much to learn and it’s awesome.  There are relationships to cultivate for the long haul.  I think that’s the biggest change for me – the biggest adjustment I’ve made.  When I was contracting I was in such a huge rush to get to know everything and everyone quickly and to make an impact quickly, for I knew I didn’t have much time there.  Now, I continue to work hard and grow relationships of course, but now it’s in a much more deliberate and mindful way.  I don’t have to “prove” myself right out of the box to everyone.  I can do it more gradually…organically.  Consistently.  I like it!

And with that comes a huge whoosh of stability and, dare I say…calm.  Something I haven’t felt in years.  I didn’t realize I’d been feeling so unstable in my career the past 8-10 years until I joyously leaped out of my old work ways and into what I’m doing now.  Know how you can just get used to a setting or situation over time and it somehow morphs into “normal” – ?  Maybe a “new normal” – ?  And you think “oh, I guess this is how it’s going to be now.”  That’s not very conscious or mindful…rather, why not actively CHOOSE and DESIGN the way you want your life to be, right?  And damn, I’ve poked around into a few older posts in here from 2009 when I first launched fivenineteen, and into 2010 when I was still out of work and the economy was in the toilet.  Seems like a whole other world…and a whole other fivenineteen.  Check out my archives for yourself!

So with that long, ramble-y windup (I always do that, hmmm)…here’s the point of this post – embracing BEST SELLERS.  This is one of the many cool things I’ve learned from E.  For example, I used to think oh, the weather’s too crappy for going outside for a walk or hike.  Rather, as he puts it, when you have the right (best-selling) outdoor gear, the weather is irrelevant.  WOW.  A total different perspective, right?  I like it!  And with my work life on a more stable front, it’s far easier to invest in great lifestyle upgrades!

Here’s some Best Seller gear I’ve woven into my life!

BoschAhh, a Bosch dishwasher.  E always says the dishwasher is THE most important appliance in the kitchen, and I totally get that now!  When your dishes, silverware and glasses are ultra clean and sanitized you have no worries about any harm or possible germs or disease.  The end!  Oh boy, my old dishwasher was the one already here in the townhouse when I moved in…in 2002.  So who knows how old it really was.  Most recently it would only get dishes clean when running on the heaviest wash cycle and heated drying.  Now, I look back and shudder.  When you wash your dishes in a Bosch, the clean is on a whole other level.  Seriously, people.  And using a fraction of the water and energy. Did you know you just need a teaspoon of (powdered) detergent too?  Hard to believe, but it’s true! There’s also no heating element.  Rather, the load dries when the heat from the wash cycle radiates off the stainless steel interior after it’s finished.  So don’t open the dishwasher while it’s drying.  I’m in LOVE with the light indicator that shines on the floor, which shows how much time is left on the cycle it’s running.  I know this dishwasher will be in my kitchen long after I’m gone.  Heck, it might even outlast the building altogether,  ha ha.  Now I just need to upgrade that vinyl flooring!

Kohler SinkAnd you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a best seller either!  Case in point, this gorgeous Kohler portrait sink.  A brand new $300+ sink for $45?  Yep, we found it at Second Use in south Seattle.  It’s full of new, surplus building materials and reusable goodies for your home..I never knew a place like this existed!  Now the secret’s out for you, too. This sink will add a lot more style to my powder room, and I’m almost ready to pull the trigger on a faucet.  Buh bye, old sink and (leaky) 1980 faucet!

MephistosI love high heels but I’ve learned they just don’t work for me anymore.  Walking a few blocks to my office building from the bus stop, or dashing to hop on the light rail…walking around on uneven pavement in the city…the usual stuff out there.  Gone are the days of walking just a few steps from my car to my office building.  And now that it’s May my low-heeled black ankle boots are getting out of season.

Mephisto to the rescue!  This is the Paldi style in black Nubuck – far longer-wearing than suede.  And they come with the padding already inside.  I was blown away at the sales help provided in the store…I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, but he took one look at me, pulled these off the shelf and said “I think these are what you need.”  Do I spend $330 on shoes every day?  No, but these are worth every penny. I can wear them with jeans, slacks or skirts, 3 times a week, and the rubber sole will last eons longer than leather, especially in this climate where it’s damp and puddle-y most of the year.  When I wear these, I can walk forever!  I have wide feet too, and the size 8 (Euro size 38) works great.

FluevogOK, now, I still love me a great pair of heels, but we’ve kicked it up a notch with more edge, more style and (yes!) comfort too.  Ever heard of John Fluevog shoes?  I hadn’t either, but now I’m enlightened.  Fluevog shoes start conversations!  Check out these Tent sandals. They’re far more comfortable than they look…the heel bed is slightly sunken (that makes a HUGE difference), and the rubber soles have an extra mini platform with a cool layer of ridges for better traction.  I feel a ton more stable on my feet in these than in any other heels I’ve ever worn!  They will go with just about anything in my wardrobe too.  Please welcome me to the Fluevog Army!

KorsCrossbodyAnd I’m discovering the joy of a hands-free, cross-body style handbag.  So much so that I needed two of these Michael Kors goodies.  Bonus that they were each on clearance!  I’ve been so used to carrying around a ton of crap in larger bags, and I’ve realized I don’t always need to do that, even going to work!  How freeing!  These little beauties hold a LOT more than you might think.  There’s an extra zippered pocket inside, and the outer flap has a zipper pocket to hold even more stuff.  These are great pops of color with whatever you’re wearing.  You know, in my past (much heavier) life I would not have wanted any attention drawn to me by wearing a bright-colored bag.  Now, bring it on!  Yes, even in red, a color I hardly ever wear!

BosciaMy fitness and nutrition coach was here in Seattle last weekend visiting from the Tahoe area to see her Seattle clients.  What a blast, as I hadn’t seen her in about a year!  She says “fivenineteen, you’re a lot less red than you used to be.”  I think she’s right!  Does improved nutrition and fitness cut back on my seemingly-constant ruddy face?  I know I don’t feel so overheated all the time like I used to, so maybe there’s something there too. But I still like toning down my ruddy cheeks on the weekends, even when I’m not doing the whole foundation and makeup routine like I do during the workweek.  I found this Boscia BB cream at Sephora and just LOVE it.  It has SPF (hooray!) and the coverage feels light and is not too orange-y.  Exactly what I need!

WeledaAre the chemicals in deodorants harmful to our health long-term (such as aluminum salts)?  I’m sure there’s a ton of research out there arguing both sides of that question. I’ve been using the same deodorant for so long it’s an unconscious habit to grab it at the drugstore every few months.  Now I’ve learned there are alternatives without those chemicals…and they work!  This is the Weleda citrus deodorant, and it smells wonderful.  The citrus is neutral, meaning it’s great for men and for women.  I haven’t yet tested it during a weight training workout or long walk, but it gets me through the commute and workday with no stink and no pitting out.  Nice.

HighlighterbrushI’m still grinning about rediscovering highlighters as I posted about a while back. Now I have a fantastic brush for the Hourglass highlighter I’m in gooey love with.  This is Sephora’s foundation brush #55. It’s designed for liquid foundation, but you can use it for powder, too.  I’m truly impressed how well it works with my highlighter powder.  It gives that certain je ne sais quoi glow to your cheekbones.  I’m in my (almost?) late 40s (yikes I said it out loud) and I’ll take it! It comes with a protective plastic cap which fits over the brush bristles like a cone.  Genius!  great for travel.

And speaking of makeup, I have virtually zero brand loyalty.  I love experimenting with new products (such as the highlighter in the last pic).  PowderConcealerWhat about other makeup basics like concealer and loose powder?  Hats off to Makeup Geek for her face routines.  While I’m probably 15 years her senior, she has fair skin like me, and I’m always interested in trying new makeup that isn’t too yellow, too orange or too dark on me.  Cue in two new favorites…the Maybelline Dream Wonder compact powder.  Oh my goodness, here’s another reminder that you CAN find incredible makeup products at your drugstore for a fraction of what you would pay in a department store!  Holy smokes.  I tap this on my lids with a small kabuki brush and it’s fabulous.  And unlike loose powder, this is easy for travel or throwing in your purse without worry.  And next to it is one of the Eve Pearl salmon concealers. Neither of these brands are at Sephora, but you can find Maybelline in any drug store and Eve Pearl’s online shipping is superb.  I do have circles under my eyes to some extent no matter how much sleep or exercise I get.  Guess that’s part of having fair skin…those veins show right through!  The best way to correct them is to use a slightly orange (aka salmon) shade of concealer that’s slightly darker than your skin tone.  THEN you apply your foundation over it.  WOW, what a difference!  I’ve always thought using a concealer lighter than my foundation was best, but all it does is draw attention that you’ve got stuff you’re trying to cover up under your eyes!  Going just a shade darker than your skin turns out much better…although in the moment before you apply foundation it looks a little funny.

And I’m having a blast still discovering more about lipsticks and glossesLipsticksLook what I’ve found so far!  OK, so what is it about men loving a nice, classic red or other deeper color on our lips?  When E casually mentioned that my lipstick was usually too pale (in a nice way, of course) I thought OK, why not try some other colors?  Know how you can get used to seeing yourself when doing your makeup a certain way? Why not shake it up occasionally?  It’s just makeup and if it doesn’t work you just wash it right off. Easy!  So I told that story to the makeup artist at the MAC counter at Nordstrom downtown over some lunch hour shopping and she giggled…her husband says the same thing about her lipstick color and she hears it all the time from her other customers as well. So the verdict is in:  Men love our lips, so let’s show ’em off, ladies!  I love using a lip pencil to fill in my entire lip area before applying lipstick, and I really like MAC’s in Soar. I really, really suck at outlining my lips with pencil, plus I’m paranoid that I’ll be left with a silly looking outline of my mouth after my lipstick wears off during the day. So I just color them all in instead.

Some of my new favorites L-R in the pic above:  MAC in Viva Glam VI, NARS in Dolce Vita, Tom Ford in Deep Mink, NARS in Shrinigar and Tom Ford in Violet Fatale.

What are YOUR bestsellers?

Garlic Spinach!

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Last night we were wondering how to prepare some fresh spinach as a side dish to go along with some incredible ahi tuna seared in sesame oil, sprinkled with sesame seeds.  And thanks to AllRecipes.com, just a couple quick clicks on your phone and WHAMMO.  Dinner!

Gotta get those dark green veggies in, people!  They keep you nourished, healthy and make your skin glow.  Oh yeah.  Here’s the recipe for 2 (the website adjusts the amounts depending on the servings you indicate) and I’ll add at the end what we did a little differently to make it our own.

Garlic Spinach – Serves 2

  • 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 10 oz bag fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic; cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted before adding more, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, and season with garlic salt.

Yep, that’s it!  Ready in about 15 minutes or so.

Now…you can add a little variety to this by throwing in a small handful of raisins while you’re wilting the spinach.  It adds just a tiny bit of sweetness to the dish – wonderful!  And we juiced an entire lemon to really infuse the spinach with lemon flavor.  After your spinach is completely wilted, add the lemon juice and turn the heat up slightly to bring the liquid to a boil. Stir occasionally until the lemon juice is mostly boiled off.

Unsalted butter isn’t a must – use regular (salted) butter if that’s what you have on hand.  And if your skillet gets a little dry add just a touch of olive oil during the cooking process.

Buon appetito!

Annette Lake Hike – Celebrating Spring!

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Lake Annette 2Ahhh, the first hike of the calendar year…what a fantastic way to welcome the first full day of SPRING!  Yahoo!  Notice I said “first” – ?!!  Yep, I’m planning to do a lot more hiking this year…really stretching out of my comfort zone and remembering that this time LAST year I did a hike nearly 30 lbs (13.6 kg) heavier than I am now.  Oh yeah!  What a difference!  Now, the hike we did yesterday is a lot less steep overall than the one I did last year with a couple of fantastic girlfriends, but I still noticed a difference in how I felt during and after the hike, meaning, my lungs weren’t feeling on fire the whole time thankfully.  After yesterday’s hike I felt elated!  Joyful!  Refreshed!  And, yeah, a little tired! But not like I’d seriously whupped my own ass.

Annette Lake is on the way to Snoqualmie Pass which is one of the highways you cross over the mountains to get into central and eastern Washington state.  Check out the link included to see more pictures and people’s reviews of it!

We’re all about March Madness right now…but yesterday’s hike was March Magic.

But March is a schizo bitch.  It might be sunny and sort of mild here in the Seattle suburbs, but she has her own plans once you get out of the city and away from sea level.  It could be sunny and in the upper 50s F at home, but an hour’s drive and a hike to 3600′ elevation is a whole other story.  Snow.  Rain.  Beautiful, clear cold streams you get to slosh through (hopefully in your waterproof hiking boots.)  Mud.  Slush. Freezing temps. We gloriously experienced all of that and more up the trail. And E was my hero loaning me one of his extra backpacks and some outdoor clothing gear to make sure I was comfortable for any sort of weather. I’m good to go mostly (on somewhat old school but Gore-Tex’d) hiking boots, but an admitted white belt in other areas for sure, like rain gear that makes the weather irrelevant.

We saw quite a few folks heading up this trail in running sneakers and windbreakers or just sweatshirts.  And, turning back before getting to the top.  The trails aren’t treacherous or icy, rather, they’re just muddy, wet and slushy, plus it gets unexpectedly cold the higher you go!

Lake Annette

Here’s another view of the lake!  I love the green/turquoise/grey color of alpine lakes  – there’s nothing else like it!  And you can see a little ice covering the lake still at the far upper right.  We stood in this moment looking at the lake listening to the gentle, persistent splooshes and taps of the rain and snow.  Smelling the pure, fresh air.  And the silence of the mountains that wraps all around it.  It’s one of those lakes so beautiful you’d just want to go jump in and skinny dip, but mmm, errr, maybe its a little too cold for that?  Or maybe it’s not in the summer?

OK that’s my crazy side dreaming out loud.  Hmmm!

Highlighters – Oh, the Joy!

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Two HighlightersHey, everyone, so…when did highlighters re-emerge so hot on the makeup scene?  Weren’t they really popular back in the late 70s or so? Guess I blinked and missed it.  When I first got into makeup as an early teen around then (much to my Mom’s chagrin I’m sure at times) I remember using blush kits with tiny Barbie-sized brushes that would have a darker contour color, blush and a light highlight color.  How could my not-yet-emerged cheekbones and small-but-kinda-still-chubby baby face have “room” for all that at age 13 or 14?  Fun to play around with, but I’m sure I looked silly or like I was trying too hard with 3 stripes of paint on each side of my face.  Ahhh, the awkward puberty years.

And in cleaning out my makeup drawerS (yes, that’s plural with a big “S”) I found a Stila contouring kit from circa 2008 that’s still in pretty good shape.  Like with many trios or quads, however, there’s always 1 or 2 shades I never use, so while they “look pretty” it’s a waste of money if you don’t use them all.  And unlike the blush kits with the Barbie doll-sized brushes (which won’t work on anyone unless you have a doll-sized face), the more modern Stila trio requires using your own brushes – in fact, great, fabulous brushes are one of THE best investments you can make with your makeup.  Great tools = great results!  [I adore my MAC 169 angled contour brush, although it’s discontinued…this one is a close match.]

So what got me back into highlighters in this decade?  A sample from Sephora!  I got a tiny tube of the Watts Up highlighter cream-to-powder highlighter in one of my admittedly-frequent orders and tried it on one morning before rushing out the door to work.  Oh it’s risky, so risky experimenting with brand new products, especially when it’s still dark and dreary in the mornings (Daylight Savings Time, I’m talkin’ to YOU).  I just dabbed a little on the tops of my cheekbones and rubbed it in to blend.

And when I got to work, I glanced in a mirror and thought WOW – I’ve got a nice extra glow!  This stuff is GREAT!

WattsUpAnd it’s even easier to use if you get the full-sized tube as I did a few weeks ago.  It’s SO RARE I end up purchasing a full-sized product after trying a sample, so kudos to Benefit!  I’ll be honest that their packaging is always cute but their product quality is hit or miss in my book.  So consider this one a HIT.  Don’t freak out about the jacked up top of mine in this pic.  I got confused on how to use it at first.  You remove the “light bulb-y” looking top and then twist to get the product up just so.  And there’s a sponge wand on the bottom end for blending.  I find that my fingers combined with the warmth of my skin works great to blend, so there’s no need to use the blender sponge.

HourglassAnd now for a more powdery highlight…Hourglass!  A brand I’d never heard of until I stumbled upon Makeup Geek’s Weekend Glam tutorial.  Marlena ROCKS and while I’m guessing I’m probably 15+ years ahead of her in age and way far out of the demographic she targets, she’s got a real fan here in fivenineteen (XXXOO Marlena)!  I have very fair skin and am always looking for products that give me a good glow without making me look “dirty” like lots of bronzers can.  Or too yellow-y.  Gotta love the pink, ruddy cheeks I was blessed with.

I showed this highlighter to our receptionist at work after I made a lunch hour walk to Sephora to purchase this and his reaction was, “It’s a CUSHION of HEAVEN!!”  So true, don’t you think?  This shade is called Luminous Light.  You can also find it in a beautiful compact trio of 3 smaller shades for about the same price, but after reviewing what people thought online I figured you might as well spend your money on one shade that WORKS, rather than pretty much the same amount on a nice-looking trio where you won’t use one or more of the shades.  Love that!

And pardon my somewhat-chipped mani in the camera reflection, but notice my super cute Kate Spade hologram winky eye-d iPhone case.  Life’s too short to not have super fun accessories!

This highlighter is super easy to sweep up onto your upper cheekbones, temples or wherever else you like with a blush brush. And this shade is so easy I can do it in early morning poor light before going to work and not worrying.   I’ve received a lot of compliments on how great my skin looks, and at almost 48 (gulp), I’ll take it!

Lips!

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TomFordBBLipSmackerWow!  It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post about the joy of makeup…and while I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with all kinds of makeup (Sephora = fivenineteen’s Crack Cocaine) I’m going through a renewed obsession with makeup.   Joyfully.  Seriously, how fun is it to go as crazy (or conservative) as you like and then *presto* you just wash it right off and start again.  Change your mind?  Make a goofup?  No problem.

It’s been almost 5 months since starting my new job in downtown Seattle – wow!  And I’m pretty much used to the routine now.  Getting up about an hour and a half earlier than I used to.  Driving a couple minutes to a park & ride lot and hopping on a bus downtown.  Getting more dressed up – no more jeans and hoodies 5 days a week.  See my Urban Style post for more on what I’ve been up to in the wardrobe department!

I’m taking a lot more time now putting on makeup and really getting it polished before heading out the door to work.  Just an extra 5 minutes or so makes a HUGE difference.  And I’ve realized those extra minutes getting my lips looking great gives me a huge mood boost too!  I used to just slap on some lipstick and maybe some lipgloss and hurry out the door, but I didn’t really pay much attention to what I was doing.  And I knew it would probably be worn off after a couple cups of coffee and a few swigs from my water bottle.

Now, my friends, I’m completely obsessed with lipsticks and lipglosses and am having a blast rediscovering my current collection and finding others to play around with.  [Le Sigh, if only my lips were something to write home about, a la Angelina Jolie or others blessed with beautiful, full pouts.]  Sadly, my thin lips are just that, thin…and I have to be careful when applying deeper shades on my upper lips.  If I “miss” it looks like crap.  Ugh.  Not much real estate to work with there I’m afraid.

While I’m good to go with a Bonne Bell Lip Smacker when I’m just running errands on the weekend or not doing anything super special (OK, not in the Dr. Pepper flavor you see above, but anyway, there aren’t too many makeup products I’ve used faithfully since, gulp, 1978), if I take a little more time with my lips during the workweek or before going out on a date I feel a lot more polished.  And happy.

Exhibit A:  Tom Ford lipstick.  OK, that pic got posted a few paragraphs up but take a look.  And drool.  This stuff is freaking fantastic, everyone.  Creamy and stays on without getting dry.  Makes me feel sexy as hell when I put it on.  Does $50 seem like a lot for a lipstick?  Heck no when it’s this good.  Find it at Nordstrom (sadly not at Sephora).  My favorite shade is Deep Mink.  It’s a wonderful, deep taupey-y pink.  And I know it won’t be my last.

I love topping my lipstick with a gloss.  Cdazzleglassheck out MAC’s dazzleglass.  Sure, they’re a little glittery but they are definitely not over the top  – they’re perfect for work and you won’t look like you’re gong out clubbing  (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).  A few years ago these were limited editions and only available during the holidays, but thankfully MAC made them permanent – hooray!  I’ve had a few last me several years in fact!

Or try MAC’s Plushglass.  There’s something fun and seductive about the vanilla scent as well as the slight plumping effect you’ll experience with these.  Smells great, looks great and gives my thin lips a boost?  Yes, please.  I just picked up Full for You and Wet, Wild Wonderful.  And I have a tube of Oversexed I’m still working through.

Seriously, people, how can you NOT go out the door with a huge smile on your face thinking, “Wow, my lipgloss is called Oversexed.”

Nice.

More Vegan Goodness! Walnut, Avocado and Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello caps and Red Onion

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SaladAh, no worries, everyone.  Don’t get overwhelmed or weirded out by that long salad recipe title!  It’s PACKED with yummy goodness and if you’re the slightest bit skeptical about vegan recipes or wondering whether a salad can truly be a meal in itself…well, give this one a whirl and you’ll be convinced!  The mushrooms pack a good dose of protein, and the avocado provides healthy fats we all need (as do the walnuts).  Add in some buttery pears, dark leafy greens (I prefer to serve this over a bed of spinach leaves) and a vinaigrette so easy to prepare and you’ve got a fabulous meal (or two, if you’re cooking for one as I typically do!).  The mushroom and onion will keep in the marinade in a Tupperware in the fridge for a couple days.

This all comes together quickly – I promise!  First…the vinaigrette:

Vinaigrette

    • 1/4 C (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
    • 3 T (45 ml) flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 T (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
    • 2 T unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 T (15 ml) pure maple syrup
    • 1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) Dijon mustard
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine-grain sea salt, to taste
    • Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all of your ingredients together in a small bowl and voila!  Or just plop them all in a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake it up!  Super quick and easy.  [I didn’t have any applesauce on hand and it’s still awesome without it.]

Now…the Salad! Serves 2

  • 2 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 batch of the vinaigrette (shown above)
  • 1 5 oz box (142 g) mixed greens (I prefer loose leaf spinach, but any greens will be just fine)
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 avocados, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 C (75 ml) walnuts, toasted

Gently rub the outside of the mushrooms with a damp towel to remove any debris.  Remove the stems by twisting the stem until it pops off; discard it or freeze for another use, such as stir-fry.  With a small spoon, scrape out and discard the black gills.

In a large bowl, combine the mushroom caps, onion and half of the balsamic vinaigrette.  Toss until fully coated.  Marinate the mushrooms and onion for 20-30 minutes, tossing every 5-10 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Place the mushroom caps and the onion on the pan and grill for 3-5 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the vegetables are tender.  Reduce the heat if necessary.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mushroom caps are cool enough to handle, then slice the mushroom caps into long strips.

For each salad, place a few handfuls of the mixed greens in a large bowl and top with half of the chopped pear, avocado, walnuts, and grilled mushrooms and onion.  Drizzle the salad with some of the remaining vinaigrette and enjoy!

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free and grain-free.

Buon appetito!

From the Oh She Glows cookbook, by Angela Liddon