Category Archives: The SELF Diet

The Self Diet

The Couples’ Makeup Challenge Pt. 1: My Partner Does My Makeup

#DailyWings: “I’m not saying that putting on makeup will change the world or even your life, but it can be a first step in learning things about yourself you may never have discovered otherwise. At worst, you could make a big mess and have a good laugh.” -Kevyn Aucoin

Back in mid-February, I announced that Andrew and I would be participating in the ever-popular “My Partner Does My Makeup/I Do My Partner’s Makeup” challenges. We decided to split the challenges into two different posts, and after I reached the following Facebook milestones:

Once I hit 250 Likes on “Facebook,” Andrew will get to do my makeup with full discretion (i.e. “My Boyfriend Does My Makeup Challenge”)

Once I hit 300 Likes on “Facebook,” I will give Andrew a full face of makeup!

If you visited my Facebook page recently, you might have noticed that I’ve reached that first milestone of 250 Likes! I’m really excited and want to let you know that I appreciate all of your support. I know 250 Likes may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I don’t want to take anything for granted. Whether or not you follow me on social media, and regardless of how long you’ve been following my blog (or if this is your first time – in that case, welcome!), it means a lot that you take the time to “visit” me and my little online abode!

February Monthly Favorites: The Snowpocalypse Diaries 2015

#DailyWings: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

Happy (belated) National Read Across America Day aka Dr. Seuss Day! If you’re a big Dr. Seuss fan like I am, check out this list of classic Seuss-y quotes or read all about his upcoming book, What Pet Should I Get? (Late authors can still get stuff published, didn’t you know?) Or, best of all, take this awesome Buzzfeed Quiz to find out which Dr. Seuss book character you are (I got Horton!).

Dr. Seuss’s books were some of my favorite growing up (namely Green Eggs and Ham and There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!). If you work with a child or have kids at home, take an hour or two today and read with them – it’ll give them a break from the computer screen and remind them the joys of books. After all, as Dr. Seuss always said, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” A wise man, he was.

Whew. Now that we’ve celebrated Dr. Seuss on the blog (albeit a day late), it’s time to get into my monthly favorites! It still feels like February, which doesn’t come as a surprise since there’s only 28 days in the month. How is it already March? Where did the time go? Is it just me, or do I ask this in every Monthly Favorites blog post?

Valentine’s Day 2015 Series: 5 Date Ideas You’ve Never Heard Before

Valentine's Day, couples, relationships, romance, love, friendship, friends

#DailyWings: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”  -Dr. Seuss

Valentine’s Day is just two days away, but if you still don’t have any plans set in stone there is still time. The bad news is, all the restaurants are probably already booked for the entire night. The good news is, I’m a huge romantic and like to go out of my way when it comes to surprises for other people.

If you aren’t able to score a dinner reservation or you’re just tired of the same old V-Day traditions, there are other ways to make the day special for both you and your partner. You just need to get creative. Today, I’ve compiled a list of ideas for Valentine’s Day dates that are adventurous and may even seem a little wacky.

Valentine’s Day 2015 Series: “Cheesy With a Purpose” Gift Guide

Valentine's Day, love, hearts, notebook, writing, photography, writer

#DailyWings: ʺBreak a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.ʺ -Derek Walcott

Normally, I don’t post two lifestyle articles under “The SELF Diet” in a row, but I’m hosting a Valentine’s-themed blog series for the next week in honor of the holiday.

In the past, I’ve emphasized that Valentine’s Day is about all kinds of love, not just romantic. And I still 100% stand by that belief. Although I’m featuring a Valentine’s Day gift guide today, next week I’ll be sharing “date ideas” for couples as well as friends, siblings and families who just want to spend quality time together on a holiday about love. For the sake of inclusion, I’m going to use the term “partner” instead of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” when referring to general romantic couples. I might even throw in “significant other” once in a while, just to mix the verbiage up.

Despite being a big fan of romance, I’ve never really liked traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. Flowers, chocolates and teddy bears just aren’t practical. I used to wish for flowers all the time because of the romance factor. But then, one day, my previous ex-boyfriend showed up with a $60 bouquet of flowers (that eventually wilted after three or four days), and I realized I would have been just as happy – happier, even – with a new book, a dinner for two or something else that was more useful.

If you haven’t gotten your partner a gift for Valentine’s yet, there’s still a lot of time left. But instead of going for the generic box of sweethearts candy and a balloon, here are a few other gift ideas that are more personalized and functional, and that you can enjoy, too.

January Monthly Favorites: Where Did the Time Go?

#DailyWings: “And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books and number playing.ʺ -Toni Morrison

Despite the fact that I am still writing “2014” instead of “2015” on occasion, we are already in the month of February. Wow. I also just realized that yesterday marks six months since I started working at Personify as their web content producer. Wow. On Monday, Jan. 26, Andrew and I celebrated our two-year anniversary together. WOW.

The start of this year has been a lot more productive than previous Januarys, when I would spend a week being ultra-healthy and writing too many blog posts before falling into the post-New Year’s slump. Instead, I spent most of the month organizing my closet, throwing out crumpled school papers, experimenting with new products, and putting together a bundle of unwanted but usable clothing and books to donate to local thrift/bookstores. I even plucked up the courage to drive for two hours during a road trip with Andrew, not to mention drive my car around a metropolitan city alone on a different night (totally not on my original agenda).

I have a feeling this year is going to be filled with twisted turns. The thing about surprises, though, is that you never know they’re going to happen until they hit you. Surprises also come in different packages, such as (a-hem) monthly favorites. Here are mine for January.

The SELF Diet Recipe: Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheese and Tomatoes

#DailyWings: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” -Charles Dickens

Anyone who has dined with me multiple times knows that I’m a pasta lover and always have been. I have a confession, though: Every once in a while, I get tired of noodles and crave something else that’s different. I finally learned how to make stuffed mushrooms.

When I discovered that the Alouette website has a simple recipe for stuffing mushrooms with its popular spreadable cheese, I couldn’t wait to make my own. The thing I love about Alouette cheese is that it’s both delicious and versatile. I’ve used it in sandwiches, as a dip and even for pasta sauces. It’s creamy, flavorful and, of course, cheesy. A little goes a long way.

It’s taken a long time for me to perfect these stuffed mushrooms. I’ve had more than one oven accident (see step #2). They’ve come out absolutely dry and burned, and they’ve also turned out watery. But that’s what cooking is all about: experimenting until you’re satisfied with what you’ve got.

My Mother’s Duck, ELF Eyeliner and Other December Monthly Favorites

#DailyWings: “Hitting a low note on a piano with a really good bass is like taking a bite out of a rich chocolate cake.” -Anja N.

Today’s #DailyWings is brought to you by one of my best friends, Anja. Like me, Anja grew up playing piano (we even had the same piano teacher for a while) and appreciates classical music more than anyone I know. It’s been years since she first made that simile, but it always stuck me and reminded me to appreciate all the good things in life, to live like a bon vivant. And, I mean, when you think about it, can’t you just taste that chocolate and hear that bass? (The appropriate response to this question is, yes, you are all about that bass.)

I like to call December 2014 “pre-winter.” Most of the month was characterized by relatively warm weather in North Carolina; in fact, I remember the sun was shining and caused me to sweat a day or two after Christmas! I’ve always enjoyed white Christmases the most, but the lack of snow didn’t stop me from sharing the holiday spirit or enjoying time off work with my family. Here are just a few of my highlights from December:

Winter Makeup Haul: e.l.f. Extravanga

#DailyWings: “Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” -Ashley Smith

Y’all. Do *not* sign up for marketing email newsletters like Sephora and e.l.f. during the holidays, because they will suck you in with amazing deals on makeup and you will never be able to get out!

…All that being said, I absolutely a all of my recent purchases from e.l.f. If you don’t know what e.l.f. is, it’s an online makeup brand that stands for eyes. lips. face. and sells high-quality beauty products for drugstore prices. (No, really. You’ll see what I mean.) Besides the occasional splurge, I usually reserve my high-end makeup money for skincare items and BB/CC creams since I want those products to really help improve my skin and combat acne. If you’re looking for a respectable makeup brand with consistently great reviews but you don’t want to risk spending a lot of money on a product you’re not sure you will like, shop at e.l.f. Most people love e.l.f.’s makeup, but even if you don’t, you’re not wasting that much.

Recently, e.l.f. has had a ton of sales on their website (just FYI, you can find their products in select stores as well). Some products have been on sale for 50% off, and they’ve also given out makeup freebies that you get with your online purchase. I got everything in my e.l.f. haul for 50% off the original price, and if you buy enough products you can get free shipping as well. I have a feeling e.l.f. is going to continue their amazing deals all through Christmas, so hustle ;)

The SELF Diet Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti Piccata

#DailyWings: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz

I am really excited about today’s edition of “The SELF Diet,” mainly because this was the first dish that made me actually love cooking. This dish, a lemon-garlic spaghetti piccata, was inspired by a recipe for “Linguine with Tuna, Capers and Raisins,” which I found on my Epicurious iPhone application (if you thrive in the kitchen and have a smartphone, download this app now). This dish is perfect for potlucks or, better yet, a romantic dinner date at home (think “Lady & the Tramp“). You can either make the pasta before your date arrives, or you can make it together (there’s no better way to bond with someone than to prepare a meal).

Another reason I’ve looked forward to writing this post is that my favorite food, as some of you may be able to guess, is pasta. (I’m a carb fanatic.) Pasta is an excellent “base” food, just like rice or quinoa. You can add almost anything to pasta and it’ll taste delicious. To me, there’s nothing heartier or more delicious than noodles tossed around with some spring vegetables or chunky meat and a creamy sauce.

While today’s recipe is vegetarian, I’ll give you some tips toward the end of the post about how to incorporate meat and other fixings. I created this dish by being adventurous with a single recipe; a single bit will give you a burst of various flavors and textures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and herbs to suit your personal tastes; let me know in the comments section if you decide to make this dish and what you did to make it your own!

Capturing Autumn: November Monthly Favorites

#DailyWings: “It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.” -Naguib Mahfouz

Last night on my Facebook page, I mentioned that I haven’t been feeling very well and that this week’s Writing Remarks post would go up today. I was hoping to post my book review on “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg, but book reviews take a lot of mental capacity that I just don’t have the energy for right now and, honestly, I didn’t want to post a half-baked review for you all.

Instead, I decided to stick with my regular posting schedule and write my very first Monthly Favorites post. I am incredibly excited about this because I absolutely love watching Monthly favorites videos on YouTube and reading them on blogs. It’s such a great way to round up whatever month is ending and, more importantly, remind yourself of all the wonderful things that make you happy.

Without further ado, here are my November favorites:

1) Skone Cosmetics Tattooed Waterproof Eyeliner, $15 — Before receiving this product in my October Ipsy Glam Bag (my first one!), I’d never tried to put eyeliner on before in my life, let alone a cat eye look. I just wasn’t brave enough. (Plus, my experience with makeup was basically nonexistent, hence my subscription to Ipsy). But I fell in love with this eyeliner the first time I used it, and I’ve worn many a cat eye since then for dates and other special occasions.