Disclaimer:  I love independent shops and make it a point to spend most of my entertainment budget supporting them.  I really do.  See every 4th blog post and scroll down until you see a picture from Ghostlight Coffee if you don’t believe me.  Ok, with that being said…

Every year I wait (semi) patiently for the return of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.  I know, believe me I know, that this is not a local company but I really can’t help it.  There is something entirely perfect about the pumpkin spice latte that no other latte can touch and I have no idea why.  It has some power over me I can’t explain and the first one of the season makes me so happy.  I’m not alone – the barista making my drink the other day saw me standing creepy close to the espresso machine, just watching him make the latte like I had to memorize the details to win a prize later, and he says “Every person who has ordered one of these today has had the same exact expression on their faces.”  He didn’t have to explain, the expression is a mixture of the joy of finally being seconds away from that which you hold dear and the sadness that it isn’t in your hands yet.

After obtaining my treasure, I took it and a non-pumpkin latte (philistine) to my sister to spend some time catching up and getting our details straight for the evening ahead.  Velvet is also a fan of pumpkin spice, evidently.

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If you’ve ever had your hair colored, you are aware of the time it takes for the chemicals to do their magic under the foils.  It’s a great time to relax, make plans for the rest of the day, catch up on texting, read a magazine, or just daydream about how gorgeous your hair is going to look by the time you leave the salon.  This weekend while processing at Eden Salon & Spa, I was passing the time doing all of the above and came across this little gem in the magazine I was reading.

I think this perfectly encapsulates my feelings exactly.

I love anticipating how my hair will look when it’s all done and I think it turned out wonderfully, thanks Eden!  Check out my After picture that I took on my way out for a Girls Night:

Nothing beats a delicious brunch in the morning when you know you will be doing yard work for the bulk of the afternoon.  It sort of gives you permission to get the thing on the menu you know you shouldn’t get (in my case, waffles) because you’ll sort of work it off later, right?  It was precisely this logic that lead my husband and me to Starlite Diner on a recent Sunday to carb up for the hard work ahead.

I love Starlite Diner because as old fashioned as the decor is, it’s very consistently so.  The food is tasty but not necessarily good for you, which is a trait that all the best diners share.

Starlite Diner (Belmont Location)
2627 S. Smithville Rd
Dayton, OH  45420
(937) 293-4000

Do you want to know a secret?  There’s this wine shop and deli on Peter’s Pike called the Little Store and they make the best sandwiches in the entire world.  And you’ve probably never been there.  Tucked in a residential neighborhood a little ways from Miller Lane in Butler Township sits the Little Store, ready to sell you the best wine you’ve ever had or the best sandwich you’ve ever tasted.  The owners are unpretentious and welcoming, always ready to help you find what you’re looking for.

Recently my sister and I ventured to the Little Store to split a sandwich for lunch.  Beth can’t believe that a turkey-less sandwich could be so delicious but the red pepper and hummus sandwich is just that amazing.  We took our time looking through the wine and potato chips – actually we loved these pictures because Beth noticed we are looking at the things the other person would normally be looking at (wine for me and gourmet chips for Beth).

Next time you find yourself fed up with all of the chain restaurants on Miller Lane and hungry for lunch, consider the Little Store.  And now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it’s the perfect lunch hour picnic fare.

Jerardi’s Little Store
7325 Peters Pike
Dayton, OH  45414
(937) 890-8858

I’ve decided in an effort to be a little bit more focused, I would try to condense as many beauty posts as I can under one roof each week and call it the Beauty Department.  This is where you will find my fun beauty buys, manicures of note, and recommended products each week.  Now, let’s get started.

Beauty Haul

I love trying new fragrances and this one has really taken my breath away.  Tocca’s Aqua Profumata in Catania is a creamy vanilla scent that manages to somehow stay grown-up without delving into cotton candy body spray territory 10 minutes after its sprayed.  I pair this with my Citrus Soy Body Whip from Skin, an Apothecary to smell like a creamsicle (What? I like smelling like food).

As much as I love reading the beauty section of magazines, I never understood the point of including candles and room fragrances in the same pages as lip gloss and concealer.  It wasn’t until I bought this adorable peachy Voluspa Creme de Peche candle from Preen Apothecary that I made the connection.  Lighting a pretty candle in a gorgeous glass jar, waiting for the sweet scent to fill the room – this might be the single most indulgent beauty routine ever.  Another aspect to this candle that put it into my shopping bag was the glass because the raised pattern reminds me of my great grandmother’s juice glasses.

Manicure of Note

Pale Pink and orange are having a moment together lately and I thought I would try the look on my nails.  Unfortunately the pink was so close to my skin tone that lots of people asked me why I only painted one nail on each hand.  Oh well, I think it had a nice effect even if people just thought I was forgetful.

I love Tank’s Bar & Grill at any time of day really, but there is a special place in my heart for brunch and Tank’s really does it right.  I started going to Tank’s brunch during college and loved the place dearly.  There are a lot of hanging plants that are probably as old as I am and despite the foliage and brunch menu, the place isn’t pretty or dainty in any way.  It’s dark at all times of day and has old beer signage on the walls from the 80’s.  That makes me happy because, I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of Spuds MacKenzie

The food is simple and not as greasy as you would think being that it is a bar that serves bar food.  I order a la carte because all the meals have meat in them.  I particularly recommend the fruit plate (the one pictured is the Girlie Size).  I wasn’t expecting fresh fruit at a bar and it was so yummy.  Also, they have mimosas! 

If you’ve never given Tank’s a try, you really should.  They are the only bar I know of in the Dayton area or anywhere that has a PB&J on their regular menu (you can also get it as a club if you’re really hungry).  Oh, and it’s delicious.

Tank’s Bar & Grill
2033 Wayne Avenue
Dayton, OH  45410
(937) 252-2249

As someone who doesn’t love doughnuts, it takes a certain kind of Sunday to get me in the mind frame to go in search of some.  A while back, my husband and I set out to find this charming doughnut place in Kettering that we often pass by but had never stopped in before.

Stan, the Donut Man is adorable and straight out of 1955, miniature American flag and all.  The doughnuts were as good as doughnuts can be, which is not thrilling to me, but really hit the spot during one of my rare doughnut cravings.  Having been raised on Jim’s Donuts, where sitting around and listening to war veterans talk all day is a surprisingly treasured pastime of Vandalia youth (please don’t tell anyone), I’m used to the idea of a doughnut shop being relaxing and welcoming.  Stan’s is decidedly not that sort of place in that they only have a few very uncomfortable stools and look at you like you’re a crazy person for asking to have your order “for here.”

But now that I know this is a takeout only sort of place, I won’t make that mistake again.  I think Stan, the Donut Man is a great shop and I’m glad we finally made a stop there.

Stan, the Donut Man
1441 Wilmington Avenue
Dayton, OH  45420
(937) 293-1080

Remember those pressed flower bookmarks they forced us to make in elementary school?  And how no matter what flower you used, be it purple, pink, or orange, always turned out to be the same shade of brown and tan?  And the icky mold ::shiver::

That’s why I love the beautiful botanical resin jewelry by Spotted Dog Farm on Etsy.  These beautiful pieces capture the natural opalescence of flowers and leaves that simple pressing in a book can’t achieve.  Thanks to my sister for sending this my way, now I have a whole wish list full of jewelry.

Below, my sister (Sad Robots) would like the floor to explain, in detail, her birthmonth festivities for 2012:

Birthmonth Recap:

1. Family Party

Every year, my grandmother throws a party for my mom and I (she has an August birthmonth too) that, no matter what, always consists of two things: mashed potatoes and ice cream cake. But, you know, not together (FYI I’d totally eat that, just sayin’). This year, the party was combined with my uncle’s too for some kinda crazy triple birthday party. It was good times.

2. Birthday Dinner

I’m a big fan of creating senseless traditions, so every year since I turned 21, I go to El Rancho Grande for my birthday. Although I say it’s because of the sombrero, which is definitely a big part of it, secretly it’s because my 21st birthday was the last one I got to celebrate with my dad, so by going back there every year, in some illogical way it feels like he still gets to be there with me, half laughing at me for my drunken antics and biting his tongue about lecturing me on poor drinking habits. I should clarify that “poor drinking habits” to him meant “don’t get a DUI.” This year, we got to sit at the big party table, and I got to drink a big margarita, and eat a big meal, and, as always, snort a dangerous amount of whip cream. The best part? Our server said if I have two more birthdays there, I get to keep the sombrero. Acquiring this sombrero is my new goal in life because, you know, it’s important to have high aspirations.

3. Work Party

Speaking of triple birthday parties, my coworkers don’t often celebrate birthdays or go out for drinks together, but I have two other coworkers with birthdays all in the same week as mine (birthweek?). Every year we go to the Wine Gallery to grab a drink after work to celebrate our three birthdays. The coolest part about this is that my boss gives us gag gifts from her antique collection. I’m not really sure how it works, but I believe she and her husband buy estates, so they have a “workshop” filled with random things. Last year my boss found me an apron. I think this was funny because I can’t cook? I’m not sure. This year, she found me a set of Melmac dishes. Anyway, it’s a fun hour of awkwardly trying to make small talk about non-work related things while trying not to do or say anything to increase the perception of the massive age discrepancy between me and my coworkers (the next youngest person in my department is 45).

Aptly, The Onion posted this article that same day: http://www.theonion.com/articles/afterwork-drinks-enter-third-excruciating-minute,29185/

4. Lady Date with the BFF

I have the best best friend in the entire world. She plans vacations for us every year. She invites me over every week to watch True Blood. She bakes delicious desserts in her kitchen while I blather at her. She makes sure I never do anything stupid in my rampant eccentricity. This year, she told me she would take me on a lady date for my birthday anywhere I wanted to go. Girl About Town wrote about our fun excursion to Roost, but my BFF also got me flowers, and after dinner, we watched The Godfather II at the Victoria Theatre for part of their Cool Films Series.

Afterward, we dissected the movie together over a glass of wine at the Wine Gallery, but then had to leave because the music they were playing was just awful. It was like Jimmy Buffett trying to cover Kenny G and it made me want to stab out my ear drums with pencils. The cool thing about the Wine Gallery, though, is that they have themed wine flights for those of us who only like a general taste of wine and are also very indecisive. Despite the music and my remarkable inability to follow the plot of movies (by ‘dissected the movie’ I really mean she had to explain to me a lot of the things I missed), it was a fantastic evening.

5. The Grand Finale, or what I called, “Beth’s 23rd Birthday or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sombrero”

Birthmonth is winding down, so my big shebang this year was throwing a birthday party for myself at the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District. Because apparently this is a weird thing to do, I’m going to go ahead pull out the FAQ before I summarize the evening’s shenanigans.

Q: Why are you throwing your own birthday party?

A: Who else is going to do it?

Q: What’s so special about turning 23?

A: First of all, please refer to it by what it is: The Big 2-3. It’s the last year of my early twenties. Next year, The Big 2-4, is going to be a big year because it’ll be the first year of my mid twenties. The year after that, The Big 2-5, is going to be a big year because I’ll be old enough to rent a car. My point here is that every year is important and I’m going to celebrate it like it’s my last, humility be damned.

Q: Why do you throw so many parties anyway?

A: Because we all have our special talents. Mine is introducing you to all of your future friends and being one of the funnest people you’ll ever meet. I repeat: humility be damned.

Q: Why the Trolley Stop?

A: I have a friend who knows the people who own it/work there, they have a nice room (more like a haunted house) to rent for a very reasonable price, you can have your own bar and bartender, and have you ever had their turkey sandwich? It’s delicious.

Back to the shenanigans:

So you know how I said I have the best best friend ever? She decided to cater the event with delicious, mostly vegetarian food. No really, she has some kind of crazy talent for building menus and cooking wonderful things. I’m going to hire her to cater my future parties. Anyway, I had a really great time because I got to hang out with some of the most amazing people ever and introduce them all to each other, I got to drink a lot of my favorite whiskey, and I got to tell a lot of my favorite stories. It wasn’t a crazy party (as my parties are wont to often be), but it was a good party and I can only hope that everyone had as good of a time as I did.

My next shamelessly narcissistic venture is going to be my housewarming party when I close on and move into my new house. Be forewarned, it’s going to be the housewarming party to end all housewarming parties. A house just can’t be called a home until it’s wrecked with a good dose of drunken chaos.

“Even Lady Downall was the same in some respects.  I remember asking her if I could borrow a book from her library to read, and I can see now the surprised look on her face.  She said, ‘Yes, of course, certainly you can, Margaret,’ adding, ‘but I didn’t know you read.’  They knew that you breathed and you slept and you worked, but they didn’t know that you read.  Such a thing was beyond comprehension.  They thought that in your spare time you sat and gazed into space, or looked at Peg’s Paper or the Crimson Circle.  You could almost see them reporting you to their friends.  ‘Margaret’s a good cook, but unfortunately she reads.  Books, you know.'”

– Margaret Powell, Below Stairs

I forgot that I requested this at the library in a fervor of Downton Abbey fandom but when it came in I pretty much devoured it.  Powell’s writing style is like having a gossip session with a close friend.  It’s a memoir from a kitchen maid, born in 1907 but not written until 1968 so it’s neat to think that she’s reflecting on her past experiences and letting us see the vast difference in the way of life over a span of 60 years.