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Going on dates is actually not enjoyable.

Coming to the realization halfway through a date that you’re not interested is awkward.  

When I returned to my seat on at the Tellers patio in Hyde Park with my second Stella, I realized there wasn’t anything else my date and I had to talk about … and I didn’t actually care what he had to say anyway.  

The adult thing to do would be to politely leave the situation and not return any future calls or texts. I think. I’m not an adult so I just switched my drink from beer to liquor until I was interested again. That way there was no confrontation to deal with, and also the possibility that we might both get to have a little fun at the end of the evening. (At this point in my dating life, I’ll take what I can get and deal with the guilt/embarrassment/shame in the morning.) 

I’m not claiming to be proud of this. Certainly not making a recommendation. I’m just saying that in dating I sometimes find it easier to not think of the “big picture,” and just get what you can in the moment because, honestly, none of us know when it’s going to happen again.  

I’m relatively new to dating and insanely terrible at it. If I like a guy I’ll either just position myself somewhere in the room he’s in and never look at or speak to him, or, my signature, get belligerently drunk and make him feel incredibly awkward. Neither is effective. I once tried the “be nice and smile a lot” technique, and I got a lot of numbers. The bad thing is I get too anxious to take the next step, so that’s all I got: numerals.  

Since I’m not an overly nice person, that method is a sham, really. I’m self absorbed, like most people in their twenties, but I also don’t like going to bed alone, so I’ve got to find some kind of happy medium between sweet, bubbly girl and Lindsay Lohan’s desperate friend.

Additionally, I need to work on the actual date part. I can’t eat under pressure. I also don’t find food consumption to be particularly sexy. So going out to eat on a date seems asinine in my opinion. And going to see a movie just seems like a way to invite someone into your room with the lights out without necessarily being a creep. But apparently I’m against the norm because “dinner and a movie” is the dating standard.  

Going on dates, however, is how you develop any kind of relationship, so it must be done. And despite how this date was turning out, the build-up had been pretty epic and stressful. I have discovered that dating as an adult is as maddening as dating was during puberty, only now, with functioning ovaries, we can make much worse mistakes.  

Liking someone is still the most annoyed you can be with yourself. It’s unbelievably time consuming. And as girls, no matter how jaded we are or what age we are, we all end up analyzing EVERYTHING. Why did he LIKE my picture on Facebook? He must totally be into me. But then he won’t call/text and we go back to thinking he’s not interested. It’s a constant up and down of excitement and self-loathing.  

When He’s Just Not That Into You came out, I was relieved at first. I had a quantifiable “into me” gauge to go by! I now knew when to drop it! Ha. Nope. Now I just say, “That’s not it. It’s not that he’s not into me, he’s just shy/busy/dumb/awkward/etc.” Girls will like who they like until they find a reason to get over him or hate him.  

But I didn’t like this guy. No connection was made. And that’s how I ended up on the patio with a Stella in my hand — liquid courage — trying to figure out the next move to make in this dating hunger games.

Vintage modern fashions for the trendsetting child … and outfit inspiration for grown-ups.

On Leo: Rockabilly button-up, Knuckleheads, The Spotted Goose, Oakely, thespottedgoose.com, $44; Fedora, The Spotted Goose; Suede jacket, vintage, stylist’s own; Glasses, Urban Outfitters; Red skinny jeans, La Miniatura, The Spotted Goose, $52; Shoes, model’s own; Plaid shirt, Ciao Marco, The Spotted Goose, $38; Tie, Old Navy, $13; Jeans, The Spotted Goose,$34.

On Lucy: Head scarf, Atomic Number 10, OTR, atomic10.com, prices vary; Heart cardigan, Pink Chicken, The Spotted Goose, $84; Plaid pants, Tom and Drew, The Spotted Goose, $48; Shoes, model’s own; Colorblock jumper, Right Bank Babies, The Spotted Goose, $36; Shoes, model’s own; Sunglasses, mom’s; Leopard coat, Pink Chicken, The Spotted Goose, $122; Shoes, model’s own.

On Amelia: Head scarf, Atomic Number 10, prices vary; Star cardigan, Little Joule, The Spotted Goose, $48; Jeans, The Spotted Goose, $34; Shoes, model’s own; Peplum waffle shirt, Right Bank Babies, The Spotted Goose, $31; Jeans, The Spotted Goose, $34; Shoes, model’s own; Head scarf, stylist’s own; Jeans, The Spotted Goose, $34. Suit jacket, Appaman, The Spotted Goose, $120 (for entire suit); Shirt, model’s own.

On George: Suit, Appaman, The Spotted Goose, $120; White T-shirt, Montag, The Spotted Goose, $12; Suspenders, Urban Sunday, The Spotted Goose, $21; Shoes, model’s own; Shoes, stylist’s own; Newsboy cap, Peter Grimm, The Spotted Goose, $16; Plaid button-up, Knuckleheads, The Spotted Goose, $44.

Photography by Gina Weathersby of kiwi street studios, kiwistreetstudios.com

Stylist: Lindsay Dewald of Little One Love

Hair and makeup: Lindsay Dewald

Models: Leo B., Amelia D., Lucy D. and George G.

Location: Bacalls Café, 6118 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, bacallscafe.com

FOTOFOCUS’ month-long celebration of lens-based art flaunts impressive female photographers.

“FOTOFOCUS aims to recapture the spirit of Cincinnati’s legacy as an epicenter of art production and creative exchange,” says FOTOFOCUS Director Mary Ellen Goeke. “And seeks to revitalize that spirit for the 21st century.”  

The month-long, biennial celebration of contemporary photography and lens-based art will last at least the entire month of October with independent exhibitions at galleries including major art institutions such as the Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum; universities such as the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP; as well as smaller, community spaces such as the Iris Bookcafe and the PAC Gallery. 

By providing sponsorship, marketing, coordination efforts and administrative assistance to these independently programmed venues, FOTOFOCUS makes it possible to showcase the work of world-renowned artists, national and regional stand-outs, and emerging talent. 

“FOTOFOCUS is a community phenomenon indigenous to Cincinnati,” says Goeke. “The biennial is a homegrown event the city can take ownership of that happens not just once, but every two years. FF presents a great cultural asset that can leverage Cincinnati as a destination. Most importantly, we look to bring institutions and people together around the most accessible art medium —photography.” 

Co-chaired by James Crump, chief curator of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Raphaela Platow, director and chief curator of the Contemporary Arts Center, the FOTOFOCUS committee includes members from institutions including the Taft Museum of Art, ArtsWave, the Weston Art Gallery, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and other major players in the Cincinnati art scene. 

Envisioned by businessman/photographer/arts supporter Thomas R. Schiff, FOTOFOCUS grew organically from an organizing committee meeting in May of 2010 to become the largest and most dynamic photography festival in the region. 

“Photography … confronts each one of us every single day, whether we are image makers or simply consumers of photographic imagery,” says Crump. “It is also a dominant medium of contemporary art, and we see artists adding photography to their diverse practices with increasing regularity.” 

With an easy count of at least 80 female artists involved, not including those represented through juried competitions and group shows (which could put the number at more than 200), FOTOFOCUS commemorates the female gaze through the lens in a variety of exhibitions. 

Take a closer look at some of our favorite female photographers and their exhibitions. 

Anne Arden McDonald 

Rituals and Enactments: The Self-Portraits of Anne Arden McDonald

Oct. 15, 2012 – Jan. 18, 2013 at the Iris Bookcafe, 1331 Main St., OTR

Multimedia artist Anne Arden McDonald is best known for her photographic self-portraits, which recall both performance art and installation. From the ages of 15 through 30, she would break into abandoned buildings or wander empty landscapes with her camera to build environments and create private self-portrait performances. 

On her website, McDonald says, “The performances explore my relationship to the world around me and are part ritual, part dance and part daydream.” In an attempt to live her fantasies — such as being able to fly — while in an earthbound body, her photographs serve as a vehicle to reconcile what she refers to on her site as the human dilemma of being “both flesh and spirit — living in a body with a mind that dreams.”

Frustrated by worldly limitations, she adds that her images “serve as visual metaphors for struggles we face every day: tensions and balances, keeping hope alive against obstacles and living in a vulnerable way without being crushed.” Born in London and raised in Atlanta, McDonald now lives in Brooklyn, where she teaches at the Parsons School of Design. 

Emily Hanako Momohara

Recent Works 

Sept. 28 – Nov. 3, 2012 at the PAC Gallery, 2540 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills

Photographer Emily Hanako Momohara’s collection of eerily beautiful conceptual landscapes, Recent Works, pays quiet tribute to her quest for information about her Japanese, Okinawan and Hawaiian heritage.  

In the artist statement for her collection, Islands, from which the image “Island 14” is taken, Momohara explains that the photographs were inspired by a trip she took to Okinawa to investigate her family’s life there before immigrating to Hawaii. 

After disproving old family stories — such as the tale that her great-grandparents lived on a secluded island only reachable by foot during low tide — and adding new knowledge to the legacy of her grandparents, she discovered, “Legacy is not factual, but fluidly ebbs with its human carrier. This is what happens when memory becomes collective and history is owned by those of us remaining. A story passes from one person to the next, to the next while the account alters slightly. In the end, the message may or may not resemble the original. Yet, whichever familial myth or fact one lives with, it influences, inspires and forms our memories and character.” 

Intrigued by the concept of collective memory and its relationship to the imagination, Momohara blends reality and myth in her images to create landscapes that explore familial history, as well as the ideas of legacy, loss and belonging. Many of the photographs are inspired by specific Japanese scroll paintings that depict the natural cycle of the four seasons while simultaneously representing the cycles of life: birth, life, death and rebirth.  

Momohara is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where she heads the photography department. She earned her BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from the University of Washington, and her MFA in Expanded Media from the University of Kansas. 

Laurel Nakadate 

Polaroids from ‘Stay the Same Never Change’ 

Oct. 4 – Oct. 31, 2012 at the Convergys Gallery, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, 1212 Jackson St., OTR, artacademy.edu

Photographer and video artist Laurel Nakadate delves into the female body’s intimately powerful hold on the male gaze with her Stay the Same Never Change project. The collection of over 150 Polaroid stills from her 2009 independent film, Stay the Same Never Change, captures the mainstay of feminine lure while intertwining themes of power and loneliness.  

Filmed in Kansas City in 2007, the 93-minute fiction is comprised mostly of amateur actors and is said to be reminiscent of Harmony Korine’s Gummo, a loose narrative that follows residents of Xenia, Ohio after a devastating tornado, and Stephen Soderbergh’s Bubble, which had no script and cast non-professional actors. Nakadate is considered a controversial artist, who isn’t afraid to cross boundaries as she explores male and female dynamics through sexual indulgences and a series of disconcerting events, all while showcasing what most would want restricted to bedroom-only access. 

In a 2006 interview with The Believer, she said, “As people who make things, we have the ability to think of the most vile, awful things we can imagine, but it doesn’t mean we believe those things. I allow myself to go places in my videos that I would never go in my real life.” 

Now residing in New York City, she graduated Yale University with a Master of Fine Arts. Nakadate’s work has appeared at the Getty Museum,  Los Angeles; the Asia Society, New York City; the Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Berlin Biennale, Berlin; Grand Arts, Kansas; and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York City.

YWCA Women’s Art Gallery 

Landscapes of the Mind Metaphor, Archetype and Symbol: 1971 – 2012 Nancy Rexroth, Judi Parks and Jane Alden Stevens 

Oct. 5, 2012 – Jan. 10, 2013 at 898 Walnut St., Downtown, ywcacincinnati.org

Artists Nancy Rexroth, Jane Alden Stevens and Judi Parks (who is also curating the exhibit) offer a look into how metaphor, archetype and symbol intersect to transcend ordinary reality in Landscapes of the Mind. Each body of work that makes up the exhibition — Rexroth’s Iowa, Alden Stevens’ Secrets the Land Told Me and Parks’ City Shadow: Mythic Journey of the Hero — was shot twenty years apart by mixing the technologies and cameras of each photographer’s time. 

Parks was asked to curate a show for FOTOFOCUS by the co-curator of the YWCA Women’s Art Gallery, the only art gallery in Cincinnati to exclusively show women’s art. The co-curator wanted a show consisting of Parks’ work and also the work of two other female photographers. “Nancy Rexroth and Jane Alden Stevens immediately came to mind,” Parks says. 

“Nancy is an icon within the photographic world, having published in 1977, the first fine art monograph shot with a plastic toy camera called the Diana,” Parks says. “Her book, Iowa, is used in college classrooms today. She has been credited with crystalizing the plastic camera genre.” 

The dreamy, imperfect and nostalgic images of a vaguely remembered childhood in Iowa, all taken with a Diana camera, catalyzed a new genre of photography. While it’s hard to get a copy of the original book, for the first time, in this exhibit, viewers will be able to see new photographs from Iowa’s archive of 16,000 negatives.  Rexroth’s work can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. 

Alden Stevens’ work, Secrets the Land Told Me, examines the process of apple growing and harvesting in northern Japan. Parks calls it, “extraordinarily beautiful,” and “layered with meaning.” According to Alden Stevens’ artist statement, “Raising apples using traditional methods in northern Japan is a laborious, hands-on process. The intense engagement farmers have with their orchards is evident throughout the growing season. The trees, landscape and the fruit itself combine to form a fascinating environment that bears witness to the effects of human intervention,” adding, “In the process of cultivating apples, the land is both injured and healed.” 

All of Alden Stevens’ work draws on history and her fascination with the impact that humans have on the environment. A current professor at UC’s DAAP, her photographs can be found in the permanent collections of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Cincinnati Art Museum. 

Parks exhibits her 1990s work in City Shadow: Mythic Journey of the Hero, which looks at community and culture: “How the age-old archetypes and symbols arise in figures we disown in our community. The Beggar, the Hermit, the Fool, our Priests and Priestesses, the Artist …This body of work seeks to give visible and tangible form documenting abstract psychological theories and principles,” Parks says.  

With a genesis in her daily freelance newspapers, magazine and Associated Press assignments, the images were inspired by the nature of the human condition and raise questions about the nature of identity and how we occupy our places in the world; “how we each strive, succeed, fail and struggle, sometimes against great odds, to reach fulfillment in our lives,” says Parks.  

Today Parks works with artists in all media who exhibit at her studio, 313 gallery, in the Pendleton Arts Center.  

To learn more about FOTOFOCUS, go to fotofocuscincinnati.org.

… And dating in the modern age is even stranger.

Dating in the 21st century is hard.

Although we have multiple ways to meet, communicate with, flirt with and break up with boys, the biggest dating hurdle in the modern age may in fact be that we are all too available.

Thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, it’s nearly impossible to refrain from spying on a guy you’re interested in, which takes a lot of the mystery and excitement out of the game of love. In 1995, you could tell yourself that you haven’t heard from a boy because he’s busy with work. But today, when you see him tagged in a bunch of photos with his buddies — or worse, with another girl — you’re deluding yourself if you think you’re not being blown off. Nowadays, nobody leaves home without their cell phone, or goes more than a couple of days (or a couple of hours) without checking their social media.

In order to demystify today’s single man, we gathered questions from a bunch of our girlfriends and sent them to our Bachelor Panel, comprised of three single guys: Carson, a twentysomething actor/model; Brent, a thirtysomething yoga instructor; and Jim, a fortysomething vice president of communications. We were curious to see how their answers would differ according to their age group. Do younger guys share more with their friends about their sexual conquests than older guys? (Yes, so beware!) Do guys like it when a girl asks them out? (Younger guys do, but only if they’re already into her.) Is pubic hair preference age-specific? (Um, you’ll have to read on.)

They promised to answer honestly, even if the truth hurts. And it does, sometimes.

Guys Always Say That They Don’t Want To Take A Girl Out Who Won’t Eat Dinner, But They Don’t Like Fat Girls. What Are We Supposed To Order When We’re On A Date? — Caitlin, 27

Carson: “It’s pretty simple: Don’t order a salad, but don’t order the most expensive steak on the menu and devour every piece of gristle on your plate. Go somewhere in the middle — the chicken dish is always a safe choice.”

Brent: “I always say, ‘Order anything you want,’ and I mean it. Just chew with your mouth closed and don’t finish 20 minutes before I do. Don’t overanalyze what you are eating. Going out to dinner involves a certain amount of indulgence in the first place, so eat what makes you happy that night.”

Jim: “If I’m taking you to dinner, it’s because I want to buy you dinner. Order whatever you want.” 

If A Guy Makes Plans With You And Gives Some Lame Excuse To Cancel At The Last Minute, Should You Give Him Another Chance? Or Are You Getting Blown Off? — Amber, 24

Carson: “You’re probably getting blown off most of the time, but it’s probably for a decent reason … like a more attractive girl. Or maybe he’s actually just too tired from work. I’d give him another shot if he seems worth it. If not, set up another date, and then bail on him.” 

Brent: “You are being blown off 90 percent of the time. If he wanted to see you, then he would have blown off the other plans.”   

Jim: “If his excuse is truly lame, you are getting blown off. If a guy doesn’t want to see you and can’t come up with an excuse that isn’t lame, you’re better off without him.”

Every Women’s Magazine Says That Guys Like Girls Who Look Natural, But Most Of Us Look Like Shit Without Makeup. Do You Really Care About How Much Makeup We’re Wearing Or Would You Rather Us Look Good? — Elizabeth, 32

Carson: “Yes, we do care about how much makeup you wear. If you’ve spent more than 15 minutes doing your makeup, you probably look like a clown from up close. If I hug you and immediately half of your face comes off on my shoulder, we have a problem.” 

Brent: “Yes, please, wear as little makeup as possible. Some is fine, but no caked faces.”

Jim: “The only thing we notice in the makeup department is too much or not enough. While I don’t read women’s magazines, I suspect that their definition of looking natural means a touch of this and a dab of that. You know more about makeup than we do, so just take it easy — don’t go all Snooki on us.” 

So, Everyone Waxes Now. Do You Prefer A Woman With A Brazilian Or Are You Just Excited To See A Vagina? Would It Gross You Out If A Girl Isn’t Perfectly Groomed? — Kate, 31

Carson: “I don’t think anyone is excited to see a vagina — let’s be honest, they’re hideous. Whoever nicknamed it a flower was probably drunk and high. With that being said, please, at least shave. Waxing is up to you; it doesn’t make a difference to me.”  

Brent: “Vaginas are awesome. No doubt. Brazilian is fine. Well-groomed is totally acceptable, as long as it’s not in the shape of your ex-boyfriend’s beard. No guy wants to search for your pleasure spots through the unkempt garden; those spots are hard enough to find, anyhow.” 

Jim: “You know how guys are always talking about boobs, like it’s some kind of obsession? You know why? Boobs are the gateway drug to the most magical place on earth. LOOK, A VAGINA! I’M EXCITED! Of course we are excited to see your vagina. Always. Every time. No matter the grooming technique. I had a girlfriend who had a really clever way to find out what I preferred in the personal grooming department: She asked me. As she said, ‘You’re the one that’s going to be looking at it.’ Try that.” 

Would You Rather Get A Call Or A Text From A Girl When You’re Making Plans To Meet Up? — Erin, 28

Carson: “Texting can be fun, until I realize I had to text you back 79 times in one day. Limit your texts and call when you have something to say that can’t fit in 160 characters.”

Brent: “One good phone call to set everything up is still what I prefer. Texts in the meantime are fine. Don’t text too often too early; needy women text all throughout the day, confident and secure women text occasionally, when it is important and/or relevant.” 

Jim: “Text. I hate having to talk into my texting machine.”

Do Guys Facebook Stalk As Much As Girls Do??? (Because We Do. A Lot.) — Meg, 32

Carson: “I’m 99 percent sure the first thing every single guy does when we accept a friend request is immediately search for beach/pool/bathing suit pictures. Have to see you at your best before we try to meet you in person, right?”

Brent: “Yeah … it happens. It’s more like a vetting process when we do it, though. We don’t care so much about what other guys are posting on your wall as much as seeing if you write pointless updates that no one should care about.”

Jim: “More.”

What Do Guys Really Think About A Girl Who Has Sex With Them On The First Date? Would You Go Out With Her Again? — Christine, 33

Carson: “If I have sex with a girl on the first date, I’ll probably agree to disagree that she’s a smidge slutty. Would I go out with her again? Depends on how the sex was.”

Brent: “Hmmm, that’s a tough one. It’s situational, really. I would question how often you have sex on the first date and be a little turned off, [but] I’ve also had a year-and-a-half relationship that started that way. Your best bet is to keep me wanting more.”

Jim: “I always assume that a woman who has sex with me on the first date only did it because she was so overwhelmed by my charm and wit that she couldn’t help herself, which makes it my fault, which means it has no bearing on whether or not I go out with her again.”

How Much Do Guys Tell Their Friends About The Girls They’re Having Sex With? Do They Give Specific Details About A Girl? — Shannon, 34

Carson: “My group of friends shares just about everything about the girl they’re having sex with. If you have a mole on your butt, my friends will probably hear about it.” 

Brent: “Not much at all — in high school, maybe. We may tell one friend about something crazy that happened, but in general 30 is too old to brag like a 16-year-old.”

Jim: “I never give details to my friends. I think it’s tacky.”

If You’re Not Into A Girl That You’ve Been Dating, How Do You Handle It? What Kind Of Red Flags Should We Be Looking For? — Laney, 39

Carson: “Slowly stop responding to her and obviously don’t invite her out on any more dates. After a while she will probably just stop talking to you. Or, it could all blow up horribly, and she will call you out. Yeah … probably that second one.”

Brent: “Plain and simple. If the woman is the one always initiating conversation, then the dude is only into her enough to establish dominance and have the occasional late-night booty call.”

Jim: “If his level of communication noticeably drops off, consider it a red flag. For instance, if he’s always answered texts right away, and suddenly it takes hours, if at all, it’s time to move on.”

Would You Date A Girl That Is Considerably Older Than You? Younger? — Allison, 44

Carson: “At this point, considerably older seems a safer way to go. Plus, think of all the things they’ve learned along the way. If I date a girl considerably younger, I’ll be looking up state laws for consent — seems unsafe.”

Brent: “Not much older at all. In the long term, I would like to die before my wife! At 30, 24 and above is acceptable, but preferably 26-34. Once again, unusual circumstances can always arise that bend these parameters.”

Jim: “I would and I have.”

What Do Men Think About A Woman Who Asks Them Out? — Karen, 48

Carson: “Thank God. Finally we can stop pretending it’s the 1930s. Do it. I’d probably say yes, just because they’re bold enough.”

Brent: “Totally fine … if I liked you in the first place!. If you get the feeling you are dealing with a shy dude, try it out. Women need to know what those butterflies feel like at least once or twice in their lives.”

Jim: “If it is someone I’m interested in, I think it is great. If it is someone I’m not interested in, I find it incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Generally speaking, I’d rather do the asking.”

As we suspected, dating is never one-size-fits-all, fortysomething men are a bit more mature than their younger counterparts and we should probably get that mole on our butt removed. We also need to scour our photo archives for a bikini pic from the early 2000s so we can Instagram it …

Graduated lip color transitions from runway to real life.

Ombre hair, ombre nails, ombre clothing … it seems this multi-tonal trend is making the rounds. Taken from the French word for “shade” or “shading,” the ombre color effect, in which pigment moves gradually from light to dark, can be (and is being) applied to anything from fabrics to hair color. And it looks like lips are next.

Inspired by runway shows, this high-fashion makeup statement can be translated into a more wearable style. Graduated lip color looks vary from a subtle, almost wine-stained pout to a bold pink and orange combo. Either way you wear it, the end result can be artistic and intriguing, not to mention effective — the shading creates the illusion of fuller lips.

Subtle

This ombre look will make your lips appear both plumper and more defined. By applying a lighter colored lipstick to the center of your lips, you’re essentially creating a highlight, producing the effect of a rounded pout.

1. Decide on two lip colors in the same color family, one light (in a frost or matte finish) and one dark (in a matte finish). On the runways, makeup artists frequently paired red with a wine color.

2. Apply the darker lip color to your entire lip like you would if you were putting on lipstick normally.

3. Apply the lighter lipstick to the center of your lips, top and bottom. Or try concealer instead of a lighter lipstick.

4. Lightly blend the lighter lip color into the darker color with your finger.

5. Finish with a swipe of clear gloss.

6. This effect can also be applied in reverse, with the darker lipstick in the center of your pout and the lighter lipstick on the outside, creating a sexy, purposeful merlot-wine-stain look.

Dramatic

A more dramatic lip requires a steadier hand and some patience. Select adventurous colors and the direction you want the ombre to fade.

1. Select three or four lipsticks in various colors. For an even more detailed look, use only colored lip pencils/liners.

2. Start with the darkest lip color. Line your top lip with the pencil, or use a lip brush, and then gently blend the color inward with your finger just inside the lip line.

3. With the help of a lip brush, apply a thin line of a lighter lipstick where the pencil marks end, and blend downward.

4. Repeat this step with one or two more light colors, lining and blending them into each other, until you reach the end of your bottom lip.

5. Finish with a clear gloss.

6. The ombre effect doesn’t have to fade from top to bottom. You can also create a gradual side fade by applying the darkest color on the top and bottom of the left side of your lips, getting progressively lighter as you move to the right.

Tips:

  • Moisturize and exfoliate your lips before applying a matte lipstick to avoid flaking.
  • With lips this bold, keep the rest of your makeup neutral.
  • Products used: Benefit High Beam highlighter; Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist in “Intense” and “Natural;” M.A.C. lipstick in “Media,” lip pencil in “Chestnut,” eye pencil in “ebony” and Gloss Creme Brilliance; NARS eye shadow pencil in “Calabria;” Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment.

Different generations enjoy a storybook-inspired Halloween.

When my sister and I were kids, my mother always made our Halloween costumes. With some fabric and thread, she would transform us into matching mermaids with tinsel wigs and scaled tails; or a princess riding a batting-stuffed, polka-dotted horse; or a baby caterpillar with six dangling, pillow-stuffed legs; or even an alien with an outfit made out of industrial metallic bubble wrap. Her creations were always one-of-a-kind. 

But to me, the most memorable costumes she made were the ones that referenced our favorite storybooks. One Halloween, Oakley’s Blue Marble bookstore — now the Blue Manatee — had a storybook character costume contest. Of course she wanted to enter us.  

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was my favorite book at the time, and I wanted to be the beautiful butterfly at the end of the book. So my mother painted a Monarch butterfly pattern on the outside of two large pieces of cushion foam and I painted the inside. I wore my favorite red canvas Keds covered in white polka dots, and a headband with dangling antenna. My sister was dressed as Mary Poppins in an old coat and flower-embellished rounded hat carrying an embroidered handbag stuffed with a duck-handled umbrella. We actually won the contest, as a pair. 

Now that I’m a mother to a 3-year-old toddler and 11-month-old boy/girl twins, I enjoy creating their costumes every Halloween. I’ve made my eldest daughter a magician’s bunny outfit and sat her in a top hat when she was a baby, transformed a onesie into a Dia de los Muertos baby outfit and created the Giant Squid from the book I’m The Biggest Thing in the Ocean! by Kevin Sherry.  

Storybook characters are great inspiration for Halloween costumes. So far my eldest daughter has a couple of characters to choose from this year, and for the twins, it’s just a matter of deciding on what duo theme to choose. Here are some of my favorite ideas for children’s costumes based on popular storybooks.  

Madeline From Madeline By Ludwig Bemelmans 

What You’ll Need: Rounded straw hat; thick black ribbon; thick red ribbon; short blue dress with short sleeves; white, rounded collar button-down shirt; white socks or tights; black closed-toe shoes. Optional: red yarn, white gloves. 

How-To: Tie a bow around the brim of the straw hat with the thick, black ribbon, leaving the ribbon tails long so that they hang off the edge of the hat. For the uniform, dress your child in the white, button-down shirt with the blue dress on top of it. If you have trouble finding a short-sleeved blue dress, try Cappel’s, Goodwill or a local secondhand store. Take the thick, red ribbon and tie it in a large bow underneath the shirt’s rounded collar, in the middle of the neckline. Finish with the white socks and black shoes. If you want your daughter to have a red bob like Madeline, hand-sew multiple strands of yarn to the inside of the straw hat to create a “wig.” You could also add white gloves for a more formal Madeline (or for warmth if it’s cold this season.)

Peddler From Caps For Sale By Esphyr Slobodkina 

What You’ll Need: Three to five caps; newspaper; needle and thread; elastic; a fake mustache or black face paint; a white, button-down shirt; a black suit jacket; black and white plaid or black pants; a black bow tie; dress shoes. Optional: a small monkey stuffed animal. 

How-To: Make the peddler’s stack of caps by stuffing each cap with a little bit of newspaper to make it sturdy and then hand-sew each of the caps directly on top of one another. Hand-sew a piece of elastic to the inside edges of the bottom cap, like a chinstrap, to make the stack stay steady on your child’s head when they wear it. Place/paint the fake mustache on your child’s face and then dress him in the button-down shirt, pants, black suit jacket, black bow tie and finish off with the dress shoes and stack of hats. To add a little more character, sew a small monkey stuffed animal to your child’s shoulder, or just have your child hold it.

Bunny From Pat The Bunny By Dorothy Kunhardt 

What You’ll Need: White sleeper; elastic headband; white infant gloves; cardboard; needle and thread; large cotton ball; white furry fabric; fabric markers or fabric paint. Optional: fabric glue.  

How-To: Dress the baby in the white sleeper to represent Pat’s fur. Embellish the sleeper by fabric-gluing a large cotton ball to the bottom as a tail, and glue or hand-sew an oval piece of furry fabric to the belly. For the ears, cut pieces cardboard into the shape of small bunny ears and stuff them into the infant gloves so they stand up. Draw pointed pink ovals on the inside of the ears with a marker/fabric paint. Attach the ears to a thick, elastic headband by hand-sewing the bottom of the gloves to the top of the headband. Put the headband on the baby and you’re done. 

Complimentary champagne and signature cocktails.

Complimentary champagne and massage giveaways in an Alice-in-Wonderland dream world: What more could a woman want? A tall, dark and handsome man wedged nicely on the side, perhaps? Even though FB’s Francesca Fridays are catered toward women, there are plenty of men crawling the corners of the Sixth Street bar. 

Started just a few months ago, the Francesca Fridays event at FB’s has already established itself as a night-scene staple. From 9-11 p.m. every Friday, the “Francescas,” a collection of friendly and fashionable females, host an evening of free champagne for the ladies with a Swedish massage giveaway at midnight from Avalon Salon & Aesthetic Day Spa. 

FB’s LA-style cocktail lounge is the perfect setting for a little pampering and partying. Decorated, according to their website, to evoke the “feeling of an eccentric neighbor’s living room or a bohemian artist’s hangout,” the comfortable and decadent mismatched Chesterfield sofas, oversized yellow chair, vintage wallpaper, black velvet curtains and huge golden mirrors create a feeling of fantasy and whimsy. And with a new signature cocktail list, two floors, and occasional gift basket giveaways, who wouldn’t want a taste of the swank?

“We wanted to provide the people of Cincinnati with a new experience where you walk into a swanky lounge surrounded by Cincinnati’s beautiful crowd,” says Kristina White, overseer of Francesca Fridays. “After a long week, you want to come in, dress beautiful and have a mouth-watering cocktail that our bartenders serve.”

By midnight the place is packed, but never fails to romance the visitors. Curious? Try the new Lemon Blossom Martini for a natural and fresh additive to your to-drink list, and allow your definition of ‘classy’ to take on a whole new meaning.

“You feed off of the energy. You see everyone dressed up. You see everyone smiling and laughing, having a cocktail,” says White. “We’re always trying to make this place better for Cincinnati.”

Lemon Blossom Martini

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Ketel One Citroen 
  • .5 oz. 
  • St. Germain 
  • .5 oz. soda and sour 
  • Lemon wedge 
  • Ice

Instructions: Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add the vodka and St. Germain to the shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with soda and sour. Garnish with a lemon wheel. 

Breaking up with your beauty professional.

We’ve all done it. We’ve cheated on our hairdresser, facialist, makeup artist, waxer, etc. We were just curious to see what it would be like to have a different creative take on our hair, or if our friend’s facialist really was the reason she looks four years younger or if the waxing hurt less with someone else. Whatever the reason, we’ve done it.  

But Cincinnati is a small town. Odds are that you’ll run into your “ex” somewhere — perhaps even return to them at some point — and “cheating” can create a really awkward relationship dynamic moving forward. So, based on several conversations with local beauty pros, here’s some counsel on how to approach those issues that might cause you to stray. 

Problem: They Just Do What They Want And Don’t Listen To You. 

Hiring a beauty professional is like hiring an artist in many ways. You can give them an idea of what you want, you can bring photos, you can have deep discussions and think you’re on the same page about what you’re trying to achieve but still, when all is said and done, you can end up with a hair color you never expected, a haircut that makes you miserable, brows that are too thin or a makeup palette that makes you feel overdone. So then what?  

Well, if you’re that dissatisfied, you must tell them at the time of the service. For some reason, people shy away from that conversation and then go home and cry about it on Facebook or Twitter to their 900 friends, thus damaging the professional’s reputation. Be prepared to tell them why you’re upset and how their service does not meet your expectations. You’d be surprised — some will alter the results to satisfy you. 

On the other hand, be prepared that if the artist thinks that your request will make you look less than what their best efforts are, they may refuse. If you think you look hot with a mullet, bleached brows and orange eye shadow, and in their opinion you’ll bring down their brand name by associating them with that look, they may not be willing to budge. Your best bet is to check around and find a hairdresser or beauty pro who creates looks on people whose aesthetic you admire. 

Problem: They Give You The Family Discount And Therefore Don’t Respect Your Time. 

So you have a great girlfriend, cousin or sister-in-law who does hair and is very gifted at her craft. You call and make an appointment (just like everyone else), but because you’re family and she’s not charging the full rate, it’s cool if she’s running late, right? I’ve had a two-hour cut and color turn into a four-hour extravaganza because my “family friend” was so busy servicing her “full-paying” clientele that she spent time gossiping with them, letting me sit too long with color. I didn’t get the same level of service, and for a $25 discount, I spent two extra hours of my life in a chair. Sorry, my time is worth more than that. I also found myself getting resentful of her taking me for granted and it had an effect on our friendship. I did end up telling her that I could not spend four hours on a cut and color, but I didn’t totally come clean about how it made me feel. In hindsight, I should have. I would advise you to definitely do so. She needs to be made aware so she doesn’t damage future relationships.

Problem: They Talk About Everyone. 

There is no getting around this one. If your stylist (regardless of discipline) is telling you what other people said about you/others or is talking about how certain clients don’t pay their bills, cheat on their boyfriends, etc., you can expect that they’re saying the same things about you. Regardless of whether or not it’s based in truth, this is drama you do NOT need to be caught up in. So while they may walk on water, make your skin glow or bless your hair with the hottest style in the city, walk away and don’t look back. Friendships, business relationships and more have been affected by these kinds of toxic relationships. And don’t waste your time calling the stylist out on it. It’s not worth it.  

Problem: You’re Cheating On Your Stylist With Their Co-Worker. 

Ouch. Sorry. There is no avoiding this one. You must tell your stylist why you’re seeing their co-worker and what was not working. Be gentle. Be cognizant that they have to work together, and make it clear that it wasn’t a matter of poaching. But if stylist A does great long-hair styles and you’ve moved on to short hair and that’s not their forte (but it is stylist B’s), be honest about it. Even if it’s just a matter of chemistry, tell them. 

Problem: Reunited And It Feels So Good? 

So you cheated and now you have to go back because, well, the grass wasn’t greener. Tell the truth. Your stylist will be happy to have you back and then have a chat about why you strayed in the first place. He or she will want to know so they can adjust whatever was causing you to question your look in the first place.

Ladies, these are relationships. We trust people who help us beautify with a lot of information about ourselves and sometimes become good friends. But do not confuse business with personal. If there is ever a question of delivering what you need, then you have to talk about it. Otherwise it’s like continuing a romantic relationship when the romance is gone. Be honest, factual and genuine. Be prepared that some folks are more or less emotionally mature than others, and there are times that you may lose your relationship with them over it. But in the end, a good professional knows how to take professional criticism and learns from it. It’s what allows them to improve at their craft.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of Libby, Perszyk, Kathman Inc. or any of its affiliates.

Giving back brings Marissa and Damany together.

The wedding of Marissa Woodly and her now-husband Damany Abernathy was an urban affair. Inspired by a shared love of architecture, each other and giving back, the wedding was a powerful symbol of creating a home, which the duo was thrilled to do on August 4, 2012 inside Cincinnati’s Covenant-First Presbyterian Church, followed by a reception in the foyer of historic Music Hall.  

“We value our urban environment and knew we wanted to make it a downtown affair,” says Marissa. “We really value old buildings and architecture, and Music Hall is one of Cincinnati’s shining specimens of great architecture.”  

And for Marissa, the 19th-century Covenant-First Presbyterian Church represents more than just an architectural kingpin. She has served as Habitat for Humanity’s development director for almost six years, and the nonprofit’s offices were formerly housed in the basement of the church. “Every morning I would come in and have my own personal prayer and solitude,” she says. “I miss that very much — that alone time to get [my] mind right.” 

Marissa also credits Habitat for Humanity and their Raise the Roof 5K Run and Walk for meeting Damany. She was in charge of the event, and he was running the race. They had met briefly the night before the 5K at a bar on Main Street, but Marissa had to leave. “He asked me why,” she says. “I said because I had a race for Habitat in the morning. [Damany] researched it and showed up. He ran it and came in third place.” She was impressed by his effort, and it didn’t hurt that he had an attractive, competitive edge, she says. 

When the couple discovered a wedding opening at the church, they booked the date and began planning. Marissa worked independently, ordering bride magazines, scanning the pages of Pinterest and looking for new ways to add some creative flare to a conventional wedding feel. She worked to achieve a traditional, classy and romantic-style ceremony with pewter-hued dresses by Lazaro, fuchsia flowers and splashes of “bling.” Picasso calla lilies, red bull and cymbidium orchids, white hydrangea, roses and white ostrich feathers were weaved throughout her bouquet, created by The Secret Garden.  

“The entire wedding was sort of traditional, old Hollywood glamour,” she says. “It was a beautiful day all by itself. Just complementing it was all I had to do.” Her gown, designed by Manuel Mota for Pronovias, was layered with feathers. “I just felt so good in it,” Marissa says.   

During the ceremony, Marissa and her husband celebrated with an eternity box, constructed by Marissa’s coworkers at Habitat for Humanity. It was pieced together from salvaged, old-home hardware that Habitat had stored in one of its warehouses. “We found some antique, crystal doorknobs and an old bronze doorbell that has to date back to the turn of the century,” she says. “They affixed them to a 100-year-old Remington 12-gauge shotgun shell box.”  

The box was filled with love letters, their favorite wine and encouraging letters from their parents. “It’s so special to have all these pieces of the past put together to represent our future,” says Marissa. “We get to open the box on our fifth anniversary, read our letters, drink our wine and replenish the box with new letters, or maybe art from our future kids. We’ll repeat this every five years as long as we live.”  

After the wedding, the couple celebrated in Music Hall’s foyer with a signature cocktail (the Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy), a candy bar and a four-tiered cake by Sweet Water Bakehouse with a cookies and cream layer, a spice cake layer with apple butter filling, a strawberry layer and a carrot cake layer. Marissa handmade the cake topper out of feathers and a rhinestone brooch. Guests also enjoyed a live photo shoot, orchestrated by the Digital Hype Group. An L-shaped, scrolled white couch and shimmery curtains served as the background, and guests were able to take their photos home. Airwave Band played smooth tunes and sultry riffs, while still keeping the atmosphere lively and fun. When the night ended, the newly married couple had a sparkler send-off in a horse-drawn carriage. 

“We were able to just have a moment and take it all in,” says Marissa. After spending an entire day with 180 guests, Marissa says one of her favorite parts was walking with her father down the aisle, who had torn both of his knees and suffered through knee-replacement surgery just months before. “Time sort of stood still,” she says. “He didn’t have a cane. You wouldn’t even have known that just three months earlier, he was barely moving around.” Marissa says her father and mother have shown her and Damany how to make a healthy marriage successful.  

The couple doesn’t plan on leaving Cincinnati anytime soon. “People in Cincinnati are good and they care about each other, and they have somewhat traditional and conservative values,” Marissa says, “and there’s nothing wrong with that.”  

Marissa continues to bubble from excitement when looking back on her special day with her soulmate. “I’m just looking forward to making my home with [Damany] for the rest of my life. That has been and will continue to be a theme in our relationship,” she says. “I feel really strongly that we’re going to be together forever.”

Enrich your relationships with these fun finds.

Not to get too sentimental, but the relationships we form with other people are what makes life meaningful. From family to friends to romantic partners, it’s always worth it to spend time with (and possibly massage) the people you care about.

1. Pictionary is a classic for a reason. If you can’t bond with people over hastily drawn stick figures of obsolete TV stars, I don’t know what to tell you. Pictionary, $26.99, Target. 2. Make sure the world knows that your junior high BFF is still your go-to partner in crime. Necklace, $9.50,Claire’s Accessories3. Treat your olfactory senses to the delicate, woodsy scent of sandalwood by coaxing your lovah to use these shaving prod- ucts. Instant attraction.Shaving Cream, $25; After-Shave Balm, $40; Lather Brush, $55The Art of Shaving, Kenwood Town Centre. 4. Because a little kink ain’t never hurt nobody. Lover’s Choice Warming Massage Oil, $9.99The Hustler Store, Downtown.5. Yoga is popular for a reason. You have to connect with the person dangling precariously in the air above your head.Partner yoga classes, $25 per person, You Do Yoga, OTR and Anderson. 6. A lavish floral arrangement is a welcome gift in pretty much any type of relationship ever. Floral arrangement, $45 – $50Eden Floral Boutique, OTR. 7.  Lacy undies mean one of two things: It’s laundry day or there’s a night of fun ahead!Betsey Johnson bra, $42; Betsey Johnson underwear, $26Knickers Hyde Park, Hyde Park.