Book Review: We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

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Genre: Chick Lit/Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I just finished reading this book last week and it was definitely worthy of a recommendation!  The story follows a middle aged woman, Catherine, who has grown up wealthy and lives a luxurious life.  However, the only thing she truly wants is to find love and happiness.  All of her past relationships have failed because men have only wanted to be with her for her money.  When she meets William at an art gallery, whose parents used to be family friends with her own, she begins to think she has finally found the one.  The only catch seems to be the strange reaction her mother, (who is suffering from Alzheimer’s), has when Catherine tells her about her new love interest.  Her mother claims to have bad memories of William when he was a child.  As Catherine begins to delve deeper into a relationship with William, she becomes more and more concerned he is hiding something about his past.  She must decide whether to ignore her intuition or risk giving up on the first man she has ever truly loved.

I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and the suspenseful pace of the story.  It was definitely one of those books you want to read straight through so you can find out what will happen at the end!

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Beauty Review: Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing Brush

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Last Christmas, I got the Olay Advanced Cleansing Brush and have loved using it ever since!  I’ve heard of many people only using cleansing brushes two – three times a week but I use mine every day and don’t feel like my face is as clean if I don’t.  It leaves my skin feeling really smooth and takes off all my makeup.  I usually take off my eye makeup first, if I’m wearing any, and then wash the rest of my face with the brush.  I focus on each area of my face for about fifteen seconds.  When you first start using it, you may notice your skin breaking out a little because it unclogs your pores really well.  After using it for a week or two it should regulate though.

If you’re looking for an affordable cleansing brush that will exfoliate and cleanse your face better than just using face wash or scrub alone, I definitely recommend it.  It’s worth the investment and also makes a great gift as well!

Favorite Finds

To kick off the week, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite finds!

  1. Favorite Organization – My favorite find by far is Support Dogs.  They are a non-profit organization and work to train and provide support dogs to people with disabilities.  All donations help keep them running and allow them to match support dogs with people who need them, at no cost.  One of their dogs recently had puppies and you can watch them live, here!  You can also click here and here, to learn how to become involved.1
  2. Favorite Mystery – I just finished reading In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware and it was so good.  It’s the perfect mystery for anyone who is a fan of Mary Kubica (it reminded me of her books a lot) or likes a good mystery but doesn’t want to read anything super dark.  The plot follows an introverted author who is invited to a weekend away at a friend’s cabin.  Once she arrives, she comes to a shocking discovery and later realizes that someone else is with them in the woods. (Rating: 5 out of 5 stars)                                                                                                                               1
  3. Favorite Show – My husband and I just started watching Homeland and it is so addicting!  It’s definitely not a new show but we just watched the first season and are planning on starting the second soon.  It follows a CIA officer who is convinced that a returning American prisoner of war has become involved in an Al Qaeda operation.  It’s a great show for anyone who loves a good thriller/drama.                                                                                                                             1.jpg
  4. Favorite Face Wash – I’ve been using Alaffia face wash for about six months now and it leaves your skin feeling so smooth and clean.  It removes all makeup (including eye makeup) without making your face feel dry.  It’s also natural and cruelty free.                                                                                                            1
  5. Favorite Story – Two girls recently raised $10,000 for the families of fallen Dallas police officers.  Read the heartwarming story, here.                                                    1

That wraps up my favorite finds!  I hope everyone is having a great Monday and start to the week.

 

How to Create a Morning Routine

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After running behind in the mornings for most of this week, I thought it would be fun to write some tips for creating a morning routine.  Sometimes the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day and when you’re rushing to make it out the door on time, it can be easy to feel a little frazzled.  Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful:

  1. Start getting ready the night before: Tackle as many tasks as you can the night before.  Take a shower, do your hair if possible, pack a lunch and set your clothes out for the next day.  This will cut down on a lot of time the next morning.
  2. Know how long it takes you to get ready: If you normally take awhile to do your makeup or even get out of bed, set your alarm a little earlier to give yourself some extra time so you’re not rushing to get out the door at the last minute.
  3. Wake up at the same time: Once you’ve gotten in the habit of waking up at the same time each day, it will get a lot easier to make this a normal part of your routine and avoid running behind.
  4. Give yourself something to look forward to: Whether it’s a cup of coffee, your go-to breakfast or checking your favorite blogs, remind yourself of something you have to look forward to once you’re done getting ready for the day.

I hope these tips have helped!  On a side note, I just finished watching Stranger Things, on Netflix and it was so good!  It’s a Netflix original series and it only has eight episodes in the first season but a second season is already set to be filmed.  It’s kind of a mix between The Goonies and X-Files and it is so addicting.  I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a new show.

Book Review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

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Genre: Mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I just finished reading The Obsession and it was the first Nora Roberts book I’ve read so far!  Judging from how much I liked this book, I’ll definitely be checking out some of her other titles too.

The book begins with a twelve year old girl finding a kidnapped woman locked in a root cellar in the woods near her house.  As if that isn’t terrifying enough, she sees her father locking the woman in there as she watches him from nearby.  After helping put her father away in prison, the story continues throughout her teenage and then adult life – where the majority of the plot takes place. As she attempts to create a new life, her past seems to continue to lurk in the background and threatens to upheave everything she has built for herself.

If you’re a fan of both mystery and romance novels, this is the book for you.  Although it begins as mostly a mystery, it later becomes just as much about the romance between the main character and her love interest.  If you have any other Nora Roberts book suggestions, let me know in the comments!

How to Live a More Natural Life

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Over the past year or so, I’ve tried to switch to more and more natural products.  Whether it’s at the grocery store or in the beauty aisle, many of the products we use are full of ingredients and chemicals that are harmful to our health.  With all the different options out there, it can be overwhelming to think of purchasing only natural items.  Here’s some tips I’ve learned from my own experience, to help you get started:

  1. At the grocery store – Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always keep my eye out for products that are free from added colors, preservatives and artificial flavors or sweeteners.   With meat, I also look for items like ground turkey and chicken that are antibiotic and hormone free.  This article does a great job at explaining specific ingredients to watch out for when you’re checking the labels at your grocery store.  Another easy way to determine if a product is natural or not is to simply skim how many ingredients are listed on the label.  For the most part, the list will be much shorter than processed food items will.  This article also breaks down how to choose organic produce, poultry/eggs and meat by looking out for certain labels.
  2. At home – Conventional cleaners are also full of toxic chemicals and ingredients.  To swap them out, you can use brands like Seventh Generation or make your own cleaners from items you have in your kitchen.  My best friend uses vinegar to clean most of her house and she says it works really well.  In this article from Wellness Mama, she lists liquid castille soap, natural salt, baking soda, borax, washing soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemons as some other diy options.
  3. In the beauty aisle – Choosing natural products can also extend to the beauty products you use.  The skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs what you put on it.  Using natural makeup and other beauty products, like cleansers, toners and moisturizers, can help you avoid absorbing ingredients such as, phthalates, parabens, petroleum waxes and other chemicals.  Another benefit of choosing natural beauty products is that they often don’t test on animals and are earth friendly.  Here a few of my favorite natural beauty brands:
  • Alba Botanica – So far I have used this mask, toner and moisturizer and have loved all of them.  When I run out of my current shampoo and conditioner, I am going to try those too.
  • Shea Moisture – I use this anti-aging moisturizer at night and it absorbs really well.
  • Tom’s of Maine – I use this toothpaste and feel like it really whitens my teeth.  They also have natural deodorant.  I didn’t feel like it lasted throughout the day personally, but it may be a good choice for others.  If you have a good natural deodorant recommendation, let me know in the comments below!
  • Pacifica – Most of the makeup I use is from Pacifica.  I use this BB cream, blush, eye shadow and mascara.  I’ve also tried their nail polish.  I’ve really liked all of the products I’ve tried and most of it’s at a more reasonable price point than some other natural beauty brands.

That wraps up my top tips for transitioning to a more natural life.  If you have any other suggestions, be sure to leave a comment!

 

 

 

Tips for Becoming a Puppy Parent

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Earlier this year, my husband and I adopted an eight week old puppy.  She’s a Jack Russell/Pointer mix and we named her Bindy – after Bindi Irwin. We absolutely adore her and now that we’ve had her for as long as we have, it’s hard to imagine how little she was when we first got her!  Now that she’s trained, I thought I would share some of the best puppy tips we learned from our own experience.

1. Teething – One of the biggest challenges with having a puppy is getting them through the teething period!  For the first few months, she seemed to be biting and chewing on everything she could get her teeth on.  The best thing to remember during this time is that it is temporary.  We learned to keep all shoes and other items she had easy access to, off the floor and out of reach.  When she tried to bite our hands, we found the best solution was to distract her with one of her toys or a bone.  After a few months, her big teeth came in and now she rarely chews on anything that isn’t her toy or a bone.

2. Potty Training – One of the best tips we learned about potty training came from someone at the Humane Society where we got Bindy.  They said puppies can usually hold it for one hour for every month of their age.  So when Bindy was eight weeks old, she could hold it for about two hours.  At the beginning we took her outside for potty breaks about every hour to two hours just to be on the safe side.  After a few months of repetition, she learned to scratch the door when she needs to go out and only has the occasional accident every now and then.

3. Interacting with Other Dogs – One of the best things we did with Bindy was bring her around other dogs from the time we first got her.  A lot of our family members and friends have dogs and letting her play with them from an early age has made her very easygoing towards new situations.  She feels comfortable around both small dogs and larger ones and we really believe she’s partly that way because she’s had so many experiences with other animals.

4. Energy – Lastly, we’ve noticed Bindy is much more calm when she’s had time to get her energy out.  Whether that’s from running around outside, going for a walk, or playing with other pups, she tends to be much more well behaved when she’s gotten some exercise.  Whenever she’s acting a little crazy we know it’s because she hasn’t had time to get rid of her extra energy.

I hope these tips help both new puppy parents and new dog parents!  Having a pet is so rewarding and once you get through the initial transition period, they are much easier to take care of.  I will post any other tips we learn along the way, in a future post!

Book Review: Book Recommendation Roundup

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To kick off the first book review, I thought I would make a list of my favorite titles I’ve read so far this summer, instead of focusing on just one book.  I’ve listed each of them below, along with a short explanation.  I typically read more mysteries/thrillers than any other genre, so most of them are a little on the darker side.

  1. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter  – I’ve read almost all of Karin Slaughter’s books and this one was by far my favorite.  It is very suspenseful, and in my opinion, the darkest out of any of her books.  The plot follows two estranged sisters who are forced to reunite after the disappearance of a teenage girl leads them to confront their troubled pasts.  As a warning, this book is very graphic and has some disturbing content. (Side note: If you enjoy this book, you may also like Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series.) (5 out of 5 stars)
  2. The D.D Warren Series by Lisa Gardner – Lisa Gardner’s writing is very similar to Karin Slaughter’s.  This series follows a police detective, D.D. Warren, and almost all of the books focus on an individual mystery.  If you would rather just read one of the books, instead of the whole series, I would recommend the second book. (5 out of 5 stars)
  3. The Silent Girls by Erik Rickstad – I discovered this title on another blog and it was just as good as the review said it would be.  The plot focuses on a private detective who is working to track down a missing girl, while dealing with a disturbing event from his past.  It also has a bit of a cliffhanger. (4 out of 5 stars)
  4. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica – This book was one of my favorites I’ve read!  It was a page turner that kept you guessing until the very end.  If you are looking for more of a mystery/thriller that is not quite as scary as the books listed above, this is the book for you.  The story follows a woman who reaches out to a homeless teenage girl with a baby and attempts to dig into the girl’s mysterious background. (5 out of 5 stars)
  5. What Pretty Girls Are Made Of by Lindsay Jill Roth – This books is very different than the other titles I’ve listed so far!  It is definitely a lighter/chick lit read.  It’s about a girl who makes a career change and begins working for a cosmetics brand and has to navigate office politics and a difficult boss.  The main character is very likable and the story line is relatable to anyone who has had to adjust to a new job. (5 out of 5 stars)
  6. A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan – This is another book I consider chick lit, but is a little more serious than, What Pretty Girls Are Made Of.  This book also focuses on a woman who is adjusting to a new career but delves into the dynamics of her home life, as well. (5 out of 5 stars)

That wraps up the first book review!  If you’re still looking for something to read after going over the list above, here’s a list of books I’m looking forward to but haven’t had the chance to read just yet.  The first four are mysteries/thrillers and the fifth is a romance.  I will do a review on these later on!

  1. The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell (*Update: reviewed here)
  2. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (*Update: reviewed here)
  3. You by Caroline Kepnes (*Update: reviewed here)
  4. The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (*Update: reviewed here)
  5. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (*Update: similar review here)

 

Beauty Review: Physician’s Formula Organic Tinted Moisterizer

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Recently, I tried Physician’s Formula Organic wear®100% Natural Origin Work It! Marathonista Tinted Moisturizer™.  From my experience purchasing other natural tinted moisturizers or BB creams, it was similar in price and was about $14.00 at Walmart.  It’s listed a little higher in price when you go directly to the Physician’s Formula site, so it may vary depending on the area it’s purchased in.

The consistency of the moisturizer was a little heavier than I expected it to be but I actually liked that it provided more coverage than other products I’ve tried.  After using it on its own the first couple times, I tried mixing it with a regular moisturizer, and liked the results even more.  I just used a small drop of Alba Botanica Even Advanced Moisturizer, with an equal amount of the tinted moisturizer.   The product felt a little lighter and I actually preferred the way it looked, over using just the tinted moisturizer by itself.  If you typically use a heavier foundation, you would probably want to just use the one product without cutting it with a regular moisturizer.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this product if you are looking for a natural tinted moisturizer that covers evenly.  I haven’t tried the Physician’s Formula BB cream, but it may be a better option if you are used to a lighter product.  It rings in at around the same price.

*Update: After using this tinted moisturizer for a few months, I wanted to mention that this product is really good for those with dry skin but can possibly clog pores if you have more of an oily or combination skin type.  Personally, I may use it in the colder months when my skin is dry but wouldn’t use it during warmer months when my skin is more oily.