Restaurant Week!

With my boyfriend out in San Francisco indefinitely, our opportunity for weekend visits (we’ve been long distance our entire relationship, but 140 miles pales in comparison to over 2,000) is currently non-existent and I haven’t had much motivation to make recipes when I’m dining alone. Leftovers are great to take to work for lunch the next day, but there’s just something depressing about it. So lately, my cooking has consisted primarily of bits and pieces of things thrown together from my pantry and fridge.

And then there are the days I say fuck everything and order/dine out.

Life motto, yo. (Source: Tumblr)

Last week, however, I had the perfect excuse to treat myself: a friend’s birthday and Madison Restaurant Week.

During Restaurant Week–which began on Sunday, January 18th and lasted through Friday, January 23rd–50 restaurants offered lunch and/or dinner specials that included variations of some of their top choices menu items. All specials were three course meals, with the lunch specials being $15 and the dinner specials either $25, $30 or $35 depending on the restaurant.

My friend had picked Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a restaurant we had both fallen in love with two years ago on our spring break trip to Florida. My then-not-but-now-boyfriend’s father let our travel group of four treat ourselves to a nice dinner, and we easily racked up a $300+ bill. Fortunately for us this time around, we would be able to enjoy a meal for $30. This of course is not including the charge for the bottle of wine we split because duh. It was Martini & Rossi Prosecco Sparkling Wine, and it was very good.

Lobster Bisque

Our appetizer choices were the Steak House Salad, Caesar Salad, and their Soup of the Day, which fortunately turned out to be my favorite, Lobster Bisque. Now this was a smaller portion than the one I had in Florida, but every bite was just as wonderful as I remembered. The bisque was so perfectly smooth and creamy, with the perfect lobster flavor without the seafood taste being too overwhelming.

Petite Filet accommodated with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

While the Stuffed Chicken Breast and Almond-Crusted Tilapia were both extremely good options for the entrée, let’s be real, we were all at a steak house to eat a good steak, and every single one of us chose the Petite Filet. They describe it as “the most tender cut of corn-fed Midwestern beef, broiled expertly to melt in your mouth” and damn if that isn’t correct. We also had a choice of accommodation between their mashed potatoes, creamed spinach or sautéed mushrooms. They add roasted garlic to their mashed potatoes so I couldn’t resist.

Chocolate Mousse in Edible Godiva Chocolate Cup

Our last course was a dessert choice between Bread Pudding, Chocolate Mousse Cup and Fresh Seasonal Berries with Sweet Cream Sauce. We had an even mix of all three around the table, and I personally chose the mousse, which can in an edible Godiva chocolate cup and was just perfect. These again were all smaller portions than what they usually feature but were the perfect end to our meal and there were no complaints at the table. The bread pudding was actually rather adorable; it looked like a bread pudding muffin drizzled in their whiskey sauce. I sampled a friend’s and it was very well done in my opinion, and I’m a stickler about good bread pudding.

The meal was definitely a nice reunion on a budget with one of my favorite steak houses. I highly recommend it for a date night that you’re able to splurge on.

It was hard not to just let my dollars fly and eat out every night last week. We have plenty of great restaurants to boast about here in Madison! Definitely one of the things I love about this city.

Be sure to check on Restaurant Weeks happening in your area! It’s the perfect excuse to take your significant other or your friends into the city for a fine dining experience. If it’s just you, that’s wonderful too! Remember, TREAT. YO. SELF.

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

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Bite Beauty Lip Lab Limited Release Crème Deluxe Lipstick #001 Review

If you haven’t heard yet, on the first Wednesday of every month for the rest of the year, Bite Beauty will be releasing a new shade in their Lip Lab Limited Release Crème Deluxe Lipstick series. Being a huge fan of Bite lip products–and having seen a preview swatch of January’s shade on their Instagram–I had to snag the first shade of the year. Keep reading for my thoughts on January’s shade, #001!

Overall: 7.4/10

Packaging: 8.5/10 – Pretty standard for Bite lip products, with the matte grey packaging. I also really liked the box it came in, with the special “001 01/15” label on it. I’ve never been disappointed by their packaging, and I really like their unique bullet shapes.

Pigmentation: 8/10 – The shade is described as a “deep burgundy with a red undertone”, and I definitely got the red undertone to it when I applied it. It also took a couple swipes to build the color to full opacity, but it’s a beautiful color in my opinion when you get it there.

Texture: 7.5/10 – The lipstick isn’t particularly drying but I didn’t find it as moisturizing as other Bite lip products, and it is a bit waxy but that isn’t something that bothers me much.  I also found the product to be a bit slippery, which brings us to…

Application: 6/10 – Not gonna lie, this lipstick is a bitch to work with. Because it is slippery, even using a lip brush took work, which is rough considering that the product needs to be built up for full opacity, and using a lip brush sort of got me this watercolor-like result so I had to modify my technique a bit. You’re definitely going to want a good lip pencil with this one, but even that may not be enough. On top of that, it also applies rather patchy.

Longevity: 7/10 – I know not to expect super longevity in Bite’s products that are on the creamier side like this one, but with eating and drinking I got a solid two hours of good wear time out of it before it started to fade in the center of my lip (away from the lip line). I’d say between two and four hours, with eating a drinking, is a good range for the longevity.

The Bite Beauty limited release lipsticks retail solely on Sephora.com and are $36 for 0.15oz of product. I was able to have purchasing access to the lipstick a minute or two before 11am CST, which makes sense because Sephora operates on PST, and 11am where I live would be 9am there, making the release hit at the start of the normal 9-5 workday out there. These lipsticks are limited edition; as soon as they’re sold out, they’re gone. The hype of this product combined with the hefty pricetag (their standard lip products range from $22-$24, with a few others being no more than $30) only fuels my disappointment that this product under-performed in comparison to my expectations.

Looking at it in the tube, the shade looks beautiful, and I’m a sucker for dark shades. I’m not pale pale–I’m about NW20–but I’m pale enough where I can really appreciate the contrast of a deep, dark lipstick and it gives me LIFE. I was already a bit disappointed when this shade pulled more red than I expected on my hand swatch, but I thought, eh, once it builds up on my lips it’ll probably get darker.

I wasn’t completely off base with that hope, but my goodness gracious, was this terrible to work with. The struggle was very, very real. Not only did trying to place the product with a lip brush cause it to make the product more sheer than just going straight at it from the tube, but the product slides and slips that it makes it difficult to create nice, clean lines around the mouth or just get it to settle. You’ll notice even in the hand swatch that straight-from-the-tube application is a bit patchy. Even with the use of a lip liner and then blotting and setting the lipstick, I still ended up getting feathering after a while, I’d say around the one and a half to two hour mark which is when I first looked at it in a mirror post-application.

Lip swatch done using NYX lip liner in Auburn (closest I had on hand) and cleaning up with concealer.

However, I will say that I was surprised by the fact that once it did more or less dry, I didn’t notice any transfer while I was sipping wine all night. If there was any, it was minimal. This may have been a result of me blotting and setting it properly rather than anything on the lipstick’s part, so I’m not going to label this transfer-proof because certainly with this formula that would be highly inaccurate (and when I bumped my lips with my hand a couple times, I definitely got some transfer), but it’s still something I noticed. More surprisingly, because this is such a dark color, I didn’t have any staining; it came clean off my lips when I took off my makeup at the end of the night.

So, I’m torn. While I look Bite Beauty products and really do love this shade even though it’s not quite what I expected, it is such a hassle to work with that in the end it won’t be the first thing I reach for unless I have the time to sit and work with it. Even then, I have such little patience that I’ll probably opt for something else in my collection. This was such a letdown that it makes me hesitant to go after another of the Lip Lab Limited Releases. At $36 a pop–which is reaching high end pricepoint–I’d rather invest my money elsewhere if this formula is consistently going to be a disappointment.

Did you purchase this lipstick? What are your thoughts? What Bite products do you love, if you own any? Be sure to share in the comments below!

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful xx

December Favorites

Happy 2015 y’all! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday (including those that celebrated Orthodox Christmas last night!) and have enjoyed the new year so far. It’s business as usual for me, and with a new year I’d like to start a new tradition on the blog: sharing my monthly favorites! I know, right, so original, no other blogger has done this before…

December is the perfect month to begin with because I did a lot of product purchasing Black Friday onward, as you saw well in my haul post. I’m still getting through all of those products but that means plenty for me to cover for at least a few months! Without further ado, here are my favorite products from the month of December:

Tartelette Palette: When it doubt for a look, this has been my go-to palette to start if not complete an entire look with. I’ve loved it since I got it. I have no trouble complementing my other palettes with this one, and I love using it in combination as well as all on its own! If you haven’t seen my review yet, click here.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream: It took a while for winter to truly rear its ugly head but eventually it did here in Wisconsin and my skin has been in turmoil ever since. This lotion is my saving grace and I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s a nice, thick cream that dries to a matte finish in relatively little time. I use it during the day underneath my moisturizer with sunscreen, and certainly before bed either on its own or under a thin later of Vaseline when I feel that my skin is particularly dehydrated. I personally get the 16oz tub which will last you forever but it also comes in a 12oz pump version if you’re worried about keeping it sanitary.

IT Brushes for Ulta: Remember how I mentioned that I skipped out on Sigma’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale? These were the reason why. It started simple, with their Airbrush Blending Crease Brush #105, and that’s all it took to get me hooked. In total I now own the You’re Easy On The Eyes Dual-Ended Eye Shadow Brush set, the Live Beauty Fully All Over Powder Brush #211, the Velvet Luxe Soft Focus Sculpting Brush #315, the Velvet Luxe Buffing Foundation Brush #301 and the Velvet Luxe Plush Powder Brush #313. I’m planning on making a separate post about these soon but I just have to say that all these brushes are just so incredibly soft. I mean, the Velvet Luxe part of the line is just divine. I encourage each and every one of you to go to Ulta and just feel these up, I mean it.

theBalm Overshadow in No Money, No Honey. Swatched over bare skin.

theBalm Overshadow in No Money, No Honey: I received this as a “glam” prize on r/RandomActsofMakeup and it really lives up to the hype. It’s a beautiful shimmering gold color that I love using as an inner corner highlight as well as a face highlight. It’s my first product from theBalm and I’m already itching for more!

Swatch of NARS Audacious Lipstick in Audrey.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Audrey: I had to have this color as soon as I saw it because a) it’s named Audrey, like Audrey Hepburn, so duh, and b) the color is gorgeous and unlike any red I had yet in collection. The shade is described as “red currant”, and is a muted red-plum color that I just fell in love with. It was an easy choice for my Christmas lip color pick. I’ll also be doing another post on this one later, along with the NARS Audacious Lipstick in Grace.

As far as food favorites, I gotta give some shoutouts to…

Seroogy’s Chocolates: Straight out of De Pere, WI, these are some of my favorite chocolates, and they hold a special place in my heart because they too are from Wisconsin but also because one of my fundraisers in elementary school was selling their chocolate bars. At the time, my family lived in an apartment building where my parents worked as maintenance managers, and I made serious bank selling these candy bars to all the elderly people in the building. My boyfriend got me a whole box of assorted truffles for Christmas as well as a package of their chocolate dipped potato chips. I just… he knows me so well, you guys. They’re giving my comfort while he’s all the way out in San Francisco for the next couple of months.

Anything packed with protein: I slacked a lot on my diet over the holidays (shocking, I mean who does that?!) but have thankfully kept up with my new weight lifting regimen. At the end of November, I started the program from The New Rules of Lifting for Women and just recently started Stage 2. After having done so much cardio for so long, it is so nice to fall in love with lifting, and I’m slowly seeing results! The biggest thing that’s going to help, along with maintaining a clean diet, is packing my diet with protein. Whey protein, things like Quest bars, chicken and eggs are some of my besties right now, and peanut butter is my one and only, forever and ever. I’m sure I will slowly gather plenty of protein-enriched recipes that will make their way here to the blog. If you have any to share, please do!

What are some of your favorites from the month? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful xx