Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Fave Beauty Buys

I'm a beauty junkie. I love nothing more than to try new skincare and hair products. My bathroom shelves are constantly full of leave-in conditioners, scrubs, masks, and lotions. While I'm all about finding and testing out new products, there are those that I have fallen for. Here are a few of my favorite things. These beauty buys may not be under $10 like the ones featured here in Jamie's recent post on Troc Talk, but they are well worth the splurge!

Red Flower Body Lotion

These botanical based lotions are truly an experience. There is something so enveloping about the silkiness of the natural flower scents. It's like rubbing flower petals all over your body, and what's better than that? My favorites are Spanish Gardenia and Icelandic Moonflower.

Bioelements Measured Micrograins

This scrub (also doubles as a mask) is probably the best purchase I've made in a while. It was recommended to me by my Esthetician at Fringes Salon and Spa- Old Market. It's great to keep your skin clean and refreshed between Microdermabrasion treatments (another skincare MUST!) and just from day to day as well. I swear every time I use it it's like unveiling a new layer of fresh, soft skin.

Paul Labrecque Haircare

Alice swears by Paul's mud mask conditioner, and so do I! Unfortunately, I didn't discover how great the Paul Labrecque line was until after we stopped carrying it at The Troc. His color condition mud mask is to hair what water is to a wanderer in the desert. Now, I know that I don't have much hair, but the hair that I do have was softer and smoother than it has ever been after using this conditioner. The inviting and delicious aroma of the conditioner is only the icing on the cake. That combined with the repair style hydrating hair lotion is easily the best thing you can do for your hair.

L'occitane Almond Supple Skin Oil

You had me at the word "supple"! This oil firms, softens, and smells fantastic! The description on the L'occitane website states that the product is "ideal for use before, during and after pregnancy or periods of weight loss, for those seeking to fight stretch marks!" I relate to none of those cases, but I CAN tell you that this oil softens and leaves behind a warm and sensual almond-y scent.

Kevin Murphy Haircare

I can't rave enough about this salon professional brand of haircare.  The intoxicating scents alone are enough for me! This Australian line was created by Kevin Murphy to accommodate his needs as an editorial and runway stylist, and let me tell you this line will meet your needs too! Kevin Murphy uses natural ingredients in the products whenever possible- the result, Ah-Ma-Zing scents and rich formulas that are weightless and full of nutrients to nourish your hair.

Archipelago Pomegranate Hand Cream

This Troc favorite became one of my personal favorites after one use. From someone with severely dry and rough hands, this tube of decadence provides a great comfort to the skin. The  pomegranate scent is one that's refreshing and not sugary sweet. The formula is silky and won't leave behind a greasy residue either. Could it be the perfect hand cream? All I can say is, it's my favorite thus far.

What are your favorite beauty items that you can't live without?

*Photos courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome to Omaha, CWS 2012!

Kent State is heading to Omaha

The Road to Omaha.

I moved to Omaha almost 5 years ago and this is the time of year that I look forward to because nothing says All American more than the College World Series.

We congratulate the 8 teams to make it this year: Florida, Florida State, Arizona, Kent State, South Carolina, Stonybrook, Arkansas and UCLA!

There are so many things to do in Omaha during the breaks. We'll be posting some ideas of where to eat and what to do throughout the week. This piece is excerpted from an earlier post of what to do in Omaha during the Berkshire Hathaway convention. We hope you find it useful!

I've lived in Omaha for almost 5 years and often times I'll hear lifelong Omahans comment that they've never heard of a restaurant I mention. And it can be either a new place, an old one, a moderately priced restaurant or a dive.

When I moved here from New York City, I made it my mission to know Omaha inside and out. But like many who came from bigger cities, I really kept my knowledge to midtown and east. God forbid I go anyplace "out west" in the 'burbs.

But now that I live in "uncool" West Omaha, I've really found that there are great little places to go for a bite to eat that aren't necessarily chains (contrary to what midtowners and downtowners want to believe).

I've compiled a list of some great eats in Omaha -- most which are located in....yup, you guessed it, "uncool" West Omaha.

French: Le Voltaire -- My husband is taken to this restaurant every year on his birthday. The last time we were there, we looked at each other and thought, "Why do we come here only on special occasions?" The prices are reasonable enough -- depending on what you order -- and you'll definitely be treated to one the best meals you can get in Omaha for any night of the week. Their specials are wonderful, although definitely more pricey.

Italian: Pasta Amore -- I have yet to find a true Northern Italian restaurant in Omaha. But if you want dependable Italian cuisine with a Southern bent, I recommend this place located in Rockbrook Village around 108th Street.

Japanese: Sushi Japan -- Try to get a sushi bar seat and enjoy their omakase menu. I really like the sushi chefs there and they do sashimi and sushi very well. If you sit in the dining room, look at their specials and get something truly fresh and delicious. This is located out west too around 141st Street.

American: J. Coco -- I'm a big fan already of this new spot in Omaha. It has an edited menu with special dishes to cater to many appetites. Everything from bouillabaisse to osso bucco to wagyu steak. It's a jewel box of a restaurant, so you'll want to make reservations for sure. Or sit at the bar and wait for your table with a craft cocktail from Chris Engles, their bartender extraordinaire.

Korean: Maru -- At the very least, you can tell everyone you went to Omaha and had Korean food. People will raise their eyebrows thinking, HUH? For Korean novices, get a seafood pancake and pan fried dumplings to start. Kalbi is a must and the dolsot bibimpop is to-die-for good. Be sure to scrape all the crunchy bits of rice and savor all the yumminess. Maru is located south around 108th Street.

Asian Fusion: Hiro -- We had our rehearsal/out-of-towners dinner here and there isn't anything on the menu that does not please and delight. Start with the Asian short ribs, gyoza and avocado spring rolls and choose either the salmon plank, miso cod, peanut butter chicken or Mongolian beef for your entrée. And don't miss their crazy delicious gooey chocolate cake!

Indian: Tanduri Fusion -- My love of Indian food goes way back to when I first moved to New York City in the early '90s. Tanduri Fusion hits the spot like no other place in Omaha for Indian food. It's another restaurant located way out in West Omaha and people just don't know about it enough. There may be better looking places or more "hole in the wall" joints, but this place can't be beat in my opinion. I love some of their special lamb dishes like safed maas and their chicken makhani or korma are some of my favorite dishes.

Heartland Café -- It's located way, way out west, technically in Elkhorn. But it has a seriously amazing buffet brunch that is hard to beat. We had our out-of-towners' brunch here for our wedding and guests from California to Maryland to New York were delighted with the chicken fried steak, perfect pancakes, crispy bacon, made-to-order omelettes and mini cinnamon buns among other offerings.

Dario's -- In my opinion, they have the best brunch menu in Omaha. I love the variety of items including sweet and savory crêpes, quiches, salads and Belgian specials like mussels and frites. A delicious cocktail menu includes one of my favorites, "the Cocktail Aux Lillet, a classic spritzer turned head over heels in love with classic Elderflower Liquor."

Dixie Quick's -- There is absolutely nothing to NOT love about this Southern meets Cajun-Tex-Mex cuisine. Now in its new location in Council Bluffs, Iowa (just across the river from Omaha), Dixie Quick's has a bright, airy, light-filled urban vibe that still churns out tasty bites noon and night. The Dixie Scramble is always a good bet as is the outstanding salmon entrée.

Lot 2 -- This newest addition to the Omaha foodscape scene is a well-needed and modern one. We love the look of the place and the food is great to boot. The brunch menu offers everything from croque madames and eggs benedict to ramen. Bloody Marys and a High Life are served post-noon for those who are looking to nurse their hangovers.

New Gold Mountain -- If you want to have dim sum, this is the place to go. There aren't the traditional carts of food going around the room but it's a Chinese-owned joint that has mostly Asian clientele. My usual order includes Singapore noodles, shrimp dumplings, roasted pork, BBQ pork buns, lotus leaf wrapped rice, turnip cake, 1/2 order Peking Duck. And if you want Vietnamese, they serve a mean pho.


Friday, June 1, 2012

10 Summer Beauty Buys Under $10

With summer right around the corner, it's time your beauty routine gets a little extra punch without a hefty price tag. Update your everyday hair & makeup looks with these affordable beauty buys!

1.) Essie's Summer Collection, $8/each

We've demonstrated on an occasion or two that we're big nail polish junkies here at the Troc, and we're all scrambling to pick up Essie's summer collection. From a stunning dusty pink to a truly lime-colored green, these are the perfect way to add a pop of color to your warm weather ensembles.

2.) Maybelline Color Tattoos, $6/each
These are considered the "drugstore dupe" for MAC's Paint Pots. These creamy, long-wearing eyeshadows are super pigmented and perfect for the summertime when you want to swipe on some color and head out the door. My favorite shades are Bad to the Bronze, Bold Gold, Pomegranate Punk and Tenacious Teal. 

3.) EOS Lip Balm, $3/each

These cute egg-shaped lip balms have taken the beauty world by storm, consistently winning the award for best lip balm across many of the major beauty magazines. In sumptuous flavors like Summer Fruit and Lemon Drop, you may find yourself treating them like Pokemon balls and trying to "catch 'em all." 

It seems like it's harder than it should be to track down a bronzer that isn't packed full of shimmer. I've found myself repurchasing this bargain bronzer more than once -- although the packaging leaves something to be desired, the color is perfect for my skin tone and leaves a soft, satin-y finish. It's also perfect with a big, fluffy brush for adding a golden glow to your shoulders and collarbone!

5.) Revlon Lip Butters, $7.50/each

This product is marketed as a lip balm, lipstick and gloss all in one, and it delivers on that concept. They're the perfect summer lip product -- one quick swipe gives you great pigment without having to worry about a liner or fumbling with a lip gloss. My favorites are Cherry Tart (a sheer red), Cupcake (a light blue-based pink) and Strawberry Shortcake (a standard, wearable shade of pink). 

I love glitter polish in all its forms - as your overall color, a sheer topcoat or just on an "accent nail" like your ring finger. These Milani glitter polishes are the best formula I've come across. Although not exactly opaque in one coat, they build up quickly without too much effort. 

I'm not a false lashes girl. Something about them just reads too "over the top" for my style. These are the one exception - they're perfect for getting full, luscious, I-just-finished-a-round-of-Latisse lashes without looking overtly fake. 

Even expert makeup artists will rave about this flat-top powder brush from Elf. I actually own three of them - for powder, blush and bronzer - and have found them to perform just as well as my higher-end brushes from MAC or Sigma. Save yourself a little money and pick up a few of these bargain brushes for your makeup collection.

I've tried a ton of drugstore self tanners, but I keep finding myself going back to this one. The gradual self-tanner applies quickly, easily and without streaks (if you take your time), and the color builds to a gorgeous shade of bronze. Although I'm fair, I opt for the medium to tan version to get a quicker result, and I usually purchase the 'firming' version (I figure it can't hurt to tone up a little, although I don't see much of a difference). 

I rarely, if ever, give out the secret to my perfect winged liner. This is it, and I can't say enough amazing things about this bargain of a beauty product. It produces a stunning, long-wearing, deep black line every time, and the felt tip is incredibly easy to control. I've purchased at least seven of these, and I have yet to find anything that can even hold a candle to it. 

Share your bargain beauty buys below!