Beauty Review: Sinful Colors – SinfulShine with Gel Tech

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I’ve always loved the look of gel nails but it’s so pricey to get them done at a salon.  When I saw that Sinful Colors came out with a gel nail collection, I was excited to try it out.  I purchased a few of the “Step 1” nail polish colors and the “Step 2” top coat.  After applying “Step 1”, my nails looked the same as when I paint them with regular polish but after I applied two coats of the “Step 2” polish they looked shiny and very similar to the gel manicures from a salon.

I really like this new line from Sinful Colors and plan on purchasing more “Step 1” colors.  I painted my nails five days ago and haven’t seen any chips in my manicure or pedicure.  Although the “Step 2” top coat doesn’t provide quite as much shine as a professional gel manicure, it looks similar to a good top coat and prevents chipping.  The price is also very affordable and is only about $3.00 at Walmart.  Plus, the line has a ton of different colors to choose from.

As a side note, the “Step 2” top coat also works on top of regular nail polish.  I actually used a regular nail polish on my nails and the “Step 1” polish on my toes.  If you’re looking for an affordable gel nail option, the Sinful Colors gel collection is a great one to try!

 

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Book Review: Books I Didn’t Finish

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One of my favorite ways to find interesting books is to check out new release book lists.  Many of the books I come across are just as addicting as they sound; however, every now and then, I can’t quite get into certain ones.  Here’s a review of some of the books I didn’t end up finishing:

  1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – I saw this book on so many reviews and heard a lot of good hype about it.  It’s an inspirational read that focuses on how to enhance your creativity.  Although I loved the idea of this book, it just didn’t draw me in.  The pace was a little too slow and the author repeated a lot of her thoughts.  Even though it wasn’t a good pick for me personally, it might appeal to others who are looking for career inspiration.  (2 out of 5 stars)
  2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – This was another book I heard a lot of hype about.  The plot follows a New York girl who jets off to Singapore to spend the summer with her boyfriend.  When she arrives, she is surprised to be thrown into a world that thrives on money and betrayal.  Although the overall premise was a good one, it didn’t deliver the suspense I was hoping for.  (2 out of 5 stars)
  3. Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger – I heard a lot about this author before beginning this book (the first I read from her).  The plot follows a girl who has supernatural abilities and can communicate with ghosts.  She begins to learn more about her powers as she teams up with a detective to find a missing girl.   The beginning of the story was very suspenseful and it was easy to root for the main character.  However, the story started to trail off about midway through.  The book felt longer than it needed to be and I may have liked it more if the conclusion was delivered sooner.  Although it wasn’t my cup of tea, I have read positive reviews from other readers.  (3 out of 5 stars)
  4. The Trap by Melanie Raabe – The plot of this book follows a reclusive author who resolves to seek revenge against her sister’s murderer.  The main reason I didn’t finish this book was because of the heartbreaking portrayal of the main character.  The author vividly describes the anxiety and sadness she feels following the murder of her sister and it was just too difficult to read.  (2 out of 5 stars)
  5.  The End of Everything by Megan Abbott – I am a big Megan Abbott fan and loved her most recent book, You Will Know Me (reviewed here).  I love her style of writing and ability to connect you to the characters.  The plot of this book involves two thirteen year old best friends who are separated when one of them goes missing.  The story was so addicting that I read almost all of the book to find out what happened to the missing girl.  I wasn’t able to keep reading it after I found out the disturbing details about how and why she was taken though.  Although I’ve read a lot of books that discuss kidnappings, this one was just too hard to continue.  It is definitely the kind of book that stays on your mind, long after you’ve stopped reading it.  (3 out of 5 stars)

I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!  If you have any book suggestions, be sure to leave a comment.

Book Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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Genre: Thriller/Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Recently, I read two of Lisa Jewell’s books, The Girls in the Garden (reviewed here) and The House We Grew Up In.  The House We Grew Up In, was just as good as The Girls in the Garden, if not even better.

The plot line follows the Bird family who, from the outside, appear very similar to any other.  The four Bird siblings are fairly used to their mother’s habit of holding onto “mementos” such as, foil candy wrappers and deflated blow up pools.  However, over the years her habit increases to the point of hoarding and her home quickly fills to the point of being uninhabitable.  The story is told from the point of view of the Bird siblings and alternates between past and present.  As the plot unfolds, you learn more about how the house became the way it is and the mother’s reasoning behind it.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s style of writing really made you feel for all of the characters, from the siblings, to both the mother and father.  I also liked the way the story alternated from past to present to build suspense.  This was definitely not a light read by any means, but I did feel like the author resolved all of the conflict and ended the book on a positive note.

Falls Styles to Stock Up On

Fall Style

Since September is just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite styles to stock up on for the fall season!

  1. Cozy Sweaters – There’s nothing more comfortable than an over-sized sweater.  Here are the links to my sweater picks: gray, striped, blue and green.  (Most are currently on clearance.  I have the striped one!)
  2. Vests – I love dressing up a casual outfit by layering on a vest.  Here are the links to my vest picks: white, faux fur, utility and faux fur puffer vest.
  3. Pants – A great pair of pants can really pull an outfit together.  My favorites are colored jeggings and ripped denim.  I actually have all four of the pants that are shown above and they all fit well and don’t become baggy throughout the day.  (Side note:  Some of the dye does wash out of the pink and blue pairs the first couple of times you wash them.  They are also technically ankle pants but they should fit anyone 5’3 and under as full length.  I think they’re cute worn as both ankle pants for those who are taller and full length for shorter girls.) Here are the links for my picks: pink, blue, black and ripped denim.
  4. Boots – Both booties and tall boots are great fall wardrobe additions.  Here are my picks: booties, duck boots, combat boots, tall low-heeled boots and tall heeled boots. (I have the duck boots and they are so comfortable and affordable!)

What’s your favorite thing to stock up on for fall?  Leave a comment below!

Beauty Review: Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion – Coconut Rescue

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I’m a big fan of Alba products and have wanted to try out one of their lotions for awhile.  I purchased this one from Walmart the other day and wanted to post a review of what I thought.

One of the best parts about this lotion is that it doesn’t contain parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances.  The coconut rescue lotion also smells amazing!  It smells exactly like coconut oil – only better.  I also liked that you only need to use a little bit because it is very thick.  It does take a while to absorb though and doesn’t leave the same silky feeling that some lotions do.

In my opinion, this is a great body lotion for those that don’t typically have very dry skin.  It’s a pretty reasonable price and rings in at about $12.99 at Walmart for a 32 ounce bottle.  If you have any other natural beauty product suggestions, be sure to leave a comment!

Book Review: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

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Genre: Chick Lit/Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve always heard great things about Emily Giffin’s books but haven’t had the chance to read many of them.  Recently, I came across her newest book, First Comes Love, and really liked it.  After I finished it, I decided to check out one of her older books, The One and Only, and actually ending up liking it a lot more!

The story follows Shea, a thirty-something football fan, who has grown up alongside her best friend, Lucy, and Lucy’s family.  After a tragic death occurs at the beginning of the story, it leads Shea to question where she is in her career and love life.  You can’t help but root for her as she strives to listen to her heart and go after what she’s always wanted.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much more than First Comes Love, was because of the way it ended.  First Comes Love, had more of a cliff hanger ending that led you to make your own conclusions about what happened in each of the character’s lives.  The One and Only, ended on a sweet note and wrapped up all the loose ends.  This is a great chick lit read that tackles some difficult topics, while proving that love is the most important thing of all.

 

How to Help Your Local Animal Rescue Groups

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There are so many organizations out there dedicated to fostering/adopting out pets and there are also a lot of great ways to get involved with them.  Here are a few ways to help out:

  1. Adopt: If you’re considering adding a new addition to your family, you may want to check out your local Humane Society or visit this site.  Adoptapet.com is the largest non-profit pet adoption site in North America and allows you to easily search for pets near you.  Some of the pets on the site are currently being fostered until they can find a permanent home, while others are at local Humane Society locations or rescue groups.  If you find a pet on the site that looks like a good fit, you can reach out to the foster family or group that is currently taking care of them and set up a meeting time.  Another way to find a pet is to go directly to your local Humane Society and see which pet you feel a connection towards.  Both are great options if you are thinking of getting a new pet!
  2. Foster: If you would like to help in another way than adopting, fostering is a great option.  One of the benefits of fostering is it allows you to really get to know the pet you are caring for and provide a better description to possible adopters.  On adoptapet.com, many of the foster families leave detailed summaries about the pet they are fostering.  The description usually explains whether the pet is a good fit for families with children and whether they get along with other animals.  Fostering also creates more space for rescue groups to take in more animals.
  3. Volunteer: Volunteering your time is another great option.  Many organizations need volunteers to interact with the animals, help with daily cleaning and volunteer at adoption/fundraising events.
  4. Donate:  Animal rescue groups and organizations are always in need of donations.  Although monetary donations are always appreciated, many of these groups are also in need of supplies such as old towels, food and shredded paper for kennels.

For more information about getting involved, check out the Humane Society’s website here.

 

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I couldn’t wait to read one of her other books!  I just finished The Husband’s Secret and I liked it almost as much as Big Little Lies.  Similar to Big Little Lies, the story is told from three different women’s point of view.  One of the women, Cecilia, finds a letter hidden away in her attic that was written to her from her husband.  The letter states not to open it unless her husband has died and Cecilia begins debating whether she should read it.  The contents of the letter shape the rest of the book and leaves you wondering how all of the character’s lives will end up.

Liane Moriarty does a great job of making you feel connected to the characters in her books.  It’s easy to empathize with each one one of them, even when some of them are in the wrong.  The pace of the story was very suspenseful and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen in the end.  Although the plot was just as good as Big Little Lies, it did have a much sadder tone.  By the end of the book, I literally had chills as the conclusion of the story played out.

If you’re looking for a good thriller that features complex characters, this may be a good pick for you!  I plan on reading some of Moriarty’s others books in the future and will post reviews on them when I do.

Little Ways to Save Money

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I’m definitely not a financial expert but I love learning about new ways to save money and live more frugally.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my own experience:

  1. Eat Mostly at Home: My husband and I eat at home a lot more when we meal plan and make a trip to the grocery store during the weekend or at the beginning of the week.  A lot of our meal ideas come from either The Pioneer Woman’s website or one of her cook books.  She has tons of simple recipes that take hardly any time to make.  When we have meals planned for the week, it is so much easier to eat at home instead of going out to eat.  Making a grocery list before we shop, also helps us stick to buying the items we need and keeps our grocery bill low.
  2. Bring Your Lunch to Work:  Packing a lunch for work each day can save so much money compared to going to eat every day.  I usually try to set aside time during the weekend to chop up a bunch of fruit and veggies so they’re easy to grab when I need them.  To go a step further, you could also prepare a batch of baked chicken or a big salad and then pack it for lunch throughout the week.
  3. Cut Electric Costs: Whenever we leave the house, we always try to make sure all the lights and fans are turned off.   I also try to unplug appliances whenever they’re not in use.  For example, I unplug the coffee maker every time I finish using it.  This can be hard to get in the habit of doing at first, but becomes second nature once you’ve been doing it for awhile.
  4. Know When to Splurge and When to Save: I think it is so important to set aside money to save but also know when to treat yourself.  If you eat at home the majority of the time, don’t feel bad about going out to eat every now and then.  On the other hand, if you go out to eat almost every day, consider eating at home more often.

I hope these tips were helpful.  If you have any money saving tips to share, be sure to leave a comment!

Beauty Review: Organic wear®100% Natural Origin Mascara

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A month or two ago I purchased this mascara, from Physician’s Formula, and have been hooked ever since!  The mascara is high quality and lasts throughout the entire day.  It isn’t clumpy or too thick, the way some mascaras can be.  It also seems to actually make my lashes look longer and fuller, compared to other brands.  So far, I’ve tried this product and their tinted moisturizer from another post, and am really liking the new organic products from Physician’s Formula.  They’re reasonably priced while still working well.  Hopefully they continue to add more organic products to their line!