Ipsy July 2017 Review


Disclosure: This post contains referral links. 
If you don't know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service that sends you 4-5 beauty products in a cute makeup bag each month for $10. I love this subscription and I look forward to it each month.

Here's what I got: 

  • BRTC Jasmine Sleeping Mask 
  • treStiQue Mini Concealer Crayon 
  • IBY Beauty Crease Brush 
  • tarte cosmetics Rainforest of the Sea deep dive cleansing gel 
  • OFRA Cosmetics Eyeshadow 

This wasn't my favorite month but I love getting brushes and I needed more concealer. I think I need to invest in a magnetic makeup palette for all the individual eyeshadow and blushes Ipsy sends.  
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FabFitFun Summer 2017 Box Review


Disclosure: This post contains referral links. (full disclosure)

FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box that sends fitness, fashion, beauty, and wellness items. Each box costs $49.99 or you have the option of paying up front for a year for $179.99.

Michael Stars Ruana $54

Love this! It can be worn as a shawl, scarf, or sarong. I received the black and white pattern which looks great with all my swimsuits. I plan on mostly using this as a cover-up this summer.

bkr Little 500 ml in Rosy $35

I received one of these bottles earlier this year in my spring Box of Style so I was excited to see this included in the summer FFF. Personally, I think you can't have too many water bottles and my favorites are glass. I don't like how gross plastic ones get after a while and I don't like the taste metal ones leave.

Cargo Cosmetics HD Picture Perfect Highlighter in Bronze $30

Another thing you can never have enough of? Highlighters. I love them! Highlighters, along with natural eyebrows, are two makeup trends I hope never go out of style. Admittedly, it's easy to go a little overboard with highlighter especially with creme or liquid ones. This powder however is really subtle and blends nicely. The bronze color makes it perfect for summer!

Juice Beauty Smoothing Eye Concentrate $29

I'm already a fan of this brand so I knew I'd probably like this eye cream. It feels great and can be used on the entire eye area including eyelids!

Eau Thermale Avene Ultra-light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ $24

I could always use more sunscreen and I like how moisturizing this one is.

Kris Nations Mystic Bar Necklace $58

I like delicate jewelry and I'm happy with the color I received. I think this will look great with a lot of different outfits.

Salted Himalayan Pink Salt Kit $26

Subscribers had the choice between the themes of "traveler", "artist", of "chef". The items were a surprise but were supposed to go along with the theme. I forgot to log on to my account and choose a theme so FFF picked for me. I'm happy with what I got because this is such a cute little set! I want to leave it on display on my kitchen counter because it just looks so neat.

FFF included some recipes from Giada De Laurentiis. I plan on try the pan roasted asparagus with crispy fried egg this week.

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk $20

This was another choice item. Again subscribers didn't know the items only the themes "fitness" or "beauty". This was the beauty item but I think it goes along with the fitness theme as well because I mostly use dry shampoo after the gym. Some dry shampoos make my scalp itchy but I've actually tried this brand before and it doesn't make me itchy at all.

Sponsored Item
Vital Proteins Marine Collagen (not pictured. Whoops, I forgot to take one!)

This is a flavorless odorless drinkable collagen from snapper fish. It's supposed to promote healthy hair, skin, nails, joints, and bones.

Overall, I loved my box! After trying a few boxes similar to FFF, I chose to cancel other subscriptions and keep this one because of the value and the products they send.
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Spin Class Essentials


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. (full disclosure

Since my last post about spin class, I've fallen in love with spin. It's one of my favorite ways to get cardio in and I've noticed a lot more definition in my legs. When someone tells tried spin class but didn't return, it's usually because they weren't prepared for class. Spin class is a tough workout and not having the right gear can make the class miserable! So here is a list of 5 spin class essentials:

1. Small Towel 
Some gyms provide small towels but if yours doesn't make sure to pack your own. You'll need one to wipe sweat from your face and to fan yourself off.

2. Clip On Fan 
So you can use your towel to fan yourself off but if you're someone who gets overheated or if you're just a baby like me, you might consider bringing a clip on fan to place on your bike. When the class is at capacity with sweaty bodies, the room gets pretty hot and a constant personal breeze on your bike is helpful.

3. Lots and Lots of Water 
It's important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after any workout and spin class is no exception. Make sure to bring plenty of water. I always fill up two water bottles before I go to take with me for an hour long class. I think it's better to have more than not enough. Personally, I prefer glass water bottles. I don't like the taste that metal water bottles leave and the glass is easier to clean than plastic.

4 &5. Padded Shorts or Seat Cover
My bottom eventually got used to the seat, but when I first started spin class I was so uncomfortable. So if the seat is unbearable, padded shorts and a cushioned seat cover will help!

6. Headband 
You'll sweat a lot. And a headband will keep your hair and some of the sweat out of your face and eyes.

Being prepared for class makes for an enjoyable ( or least tolerable!) workout. I hope this list helps! 

Summer Reading List


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Today marks the official start of Summer so I thought I'd share my summer reading list. Many of these books have been on my to-read list for awhile but with school, I rarely have time to read them. Summer is the only time I have to read for pleasure.

I set a goal to read 52 books this year and so far I've only read 13. 

So here's to hoping I can put a dent in my reading challenge this summer!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine. Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
I actually just finished this yesterday but I decided to go ahead and keep it on this list because it was a good read and I truly recommend it. 

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Eva Luna is the daughter of a professor’s assistant and a snake-bitten gardener—born poor, orphaned at an early age, and working as a servant. Eva is a naturally gifted and imaginative storyteller who meets people from all stations and walks of life. Though she has no wealth, she trades her stories like currency with people who are kind to her. In this novel, she shares the story of her own life and introduces readers to a diverse and eccentric cast of characters including the Lebanese émigré who befriends her and takes her in; her unfortunate godmother, whose brain is addled by rum and who believes in all the Catholic saints and a few of her own invention; a street urchin who grows into a petty criminal and, later, a leader in the guerrilla struggle; a celebrated transsexual entertainer who instructs her in the ways of the adult world; and a young refugee whose flight from postwar Europe will prove crucial to Eva's fate. As Eva tells her story, Isabel Allende conjures up a whole complex South American nation—the rich, the poor, the simple, and the sophisticated—in a novel replete with character and incident, with drama and comedy and history, with battles and passions, rebellions and reunions, a novel that celebrates the power of imagination to create a better world.
I finished Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits earlier this year. On Jane, the Virgin, Jane and her creative writing advisor agree that Allende's Eva Luna was her better work. So I decided I'd have to read it and see for myself.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.
I bought this book almost two years ago but haven't gotten around to reading it.

What Alica Forgot by Liana Moriarty 

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over—she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over...
I listened to Liana Moriarty's Big Little Lies on audible. I loved it! (The HBO miniseries was also great!) I'm excited to read more from Moriarty.  

Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago. But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. This soul-searching, authentic debut weaves together Phoebe’s story with scenes from the romance between Meg and Kieran that started it all—leaving behind a heartfelt reflection on family, fame, and finding your own way.
Yes, I enjoy reading YA from time to time. Who doesn't? I also really enjoy stories about storytelling/storytellers probably beacuse I hold the art of storytelling in such high regard.

The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes
When Sarah’s grandfather gives her a beautiful horse named Boo—hoping that one day she’ll follow in his footsteps to join an elite French riding school, away from their gritty London neighborhood—she quietly trains in city’s parks and alleys. But then her grandfather falls ill, and Sarah must juggle horsemanship with school and hospital visits. Natasha, a young lawyer, is reeling after her failed marriage: her professional judgment is being questioned, her new boyfriend is a let-down, and she’s forced to share her house with her charismatic ex-husband. Yet when the willful fourteen-year-old Sarah lands in her path, Natasha decides to take the girl under her wing. But Sarah is keeping a secret—a secret that will change the lives of everyone involved forever.
I enjoyed Jojo Moyes's Me Before You and the sequel After You. Both were enjoyable quick reads. Plus, I like horse stories especially ones that make me cry. I don't if The Horse Dancer will be a tearjerker like Me Before You but I'm sure it'll be just as good.

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide. In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother. Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.
I received this book in my May BOTM box. As I  explained in my BOTM review, I don't usually read or buy memoirs. But this book grabbed my attention, so when it was my suggested pick for May, I went ahead and got it. 

The Motion of Light in Water by Samuel R. Delany
Samuel Delany is a science fiction writer, teacher and recipient of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to lesbian and gay culture. His autobiography focuses on his life in New York's lower east side in the 1960s and his development as a black gay writer in an open interracial marriage. 
Again, I'm trying to read more memoirs and autobiographies. I ordered this after reading a great review. 

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
I love Neil deGrasse Tyson and I find astrophysics interesting, however, I am not a scientist. I figured this book would be both entertaining and easy to comprehend. When I looked this book up on Amazon, I saw that it was at #11 of all books on Amazon. How cool is it that so many people are reading about astrophysics?! 

Close Range by Annie Proulx 
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes comes one of the most celebrated short story collections of our time. Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in these breathtaking tales of loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love. Each of the stunning portraits in Close Range reveals characters fiercely wrought with precision and grace. These are stories of desperation and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both stark and magnificent -- by an author writing at the peak of her craft.
My American Lit professor is seriously awesome. Any book she recommends immediately makes my "to-read" list on Goodreads. Close Range has been on my list for a few months and now it's time to finally read it. 

American War by Omar El Akkad
An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself. Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.
I've heard some really great things about this book so I added it to my May BOTM. I just started this book and so far I'm enjoying it! 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaimen 
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew. “A fantastic story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares” (San Diego Union-Tribune), Neil Gaiman’s first solo novel has become a touchstone of urban fantasy, and a perennial favorite of readers everywhere.
Somehow I ended up with Neil Gaimen's The Ocean at the End of the Lane on my audible account. I think I may have purchased it on accident but when I finally listened to it, I really enjoyed it. I liked both Neil Gaimen's writing and his narration, which is important in an audio book. I promptly purchased Neverwhere on audible, which I'll listen to while traveling this summer. 

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Few other books have created such a lasting storm of controversy as The Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory that species derive from other species by a gradual evolutionary process and that the average level of each species is heightened by the “survival of the fittest” stirred up popular debate to fever pitch. Its acceptance revolutionized the course of science. As Sir Julian Huxley, the noted biologist, points out in his illuminating introduction, the importance of Darwin’s contribution to modern scientific knowledge is almost impossible to evaluate: “a truly great book, one which can still be read with profit by professional biologist.”
I had a professor this semester say that a lot of people have read things written about The Origin of Species but haven't actually read The Origin of Species. Realizing I was one of that people, I added it to my list. 

The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis 
Few authors have had careers as successful as that of Connie Willis. Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Willis is still going strong. Her smart, heartfelt fiction runs the gamut from screwball comedy to profound tragedy, combining dazzling plot twists, cutting-edge science, and unforgettable characters. From a near future mourning the extinction of dogs to an alternate history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson; from a madcap convention of bumbling quantum physicists in Hollywood to a London whose Underground has become a storehouse of intangible memories both foul and fair—here are the greatest stories of one of the greatest writers working in any genre today. All ten of the stories gathered here are Hugo or Nebula award winners—some even have the distinction of winning both. With a new Introduction by the author and personal afterwords to each story—plus a special look at three of Willis’s unique public speeches—this is unquestionably the collection of the season, a book that every Connie Willis fan will treasure, and, to those unfamiliar with her work, the perfect introduction to one of the most accomplished and best-loved writers of our time.
I actually picked this book up at the Dollar Tree for $1. It was the "alternative history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson"  that won me over. I had never heard of Connie Willis but this book is well reviewed on Goodreads so I'm excited to read it.

So there's my list! Feel free to share your summer reading list or any recommendations in the comments! Also, here is a link so you can follow me on Goodreads if you like.

Watermelon Pico Recipe


I first had watermelon pico on top of nachos in Charleston, SC. I was a little skeptical when looking over the menu but once I tried it I was hooked. I knew I had to recreate it when I got home.

Though I like regular pico de gallo, I've never really been much of a tomato fan so I actually prefer this to traditional pico. The watermelon provides a similar texture to tomatoes and the sweetness doesn't overpower the salsa.

This recipe, like traditional pico, calls for cilantro which I love. But apparently cilantro tastes like soap to some people, so if you're one of those people, mint leaves would be a good substitute!

print recipe

Watermelon Pico
Enjoy with chips or on top of chicken or fish.
  • 3 cups diced seedless watermelon
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 medium white onion (chopped)
  • 1-2 jalapenos (chopped)
  • salt to taste
In a large bowl, stir to combine watermelon, cilantro, onion, and jalapeno. Stir in lime juice and salt to taste. Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 cups

Ipsy May 2017 Review


If you don't know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service that sends you 4-5 beauty products in a cute makeup bag each month for $10. I love this subscription and I look forward to it each month.

Pacifica Island Life Eyeshadow Palette
I actually received the full-size version a while back in a Popsugar box. These colors are some of my go-to colors so this plus the size makes it the perfect palette for traveling. 

Manna Kadar Cosmetics Radiance Split Pan Bronzer and Highlighter
I like this brand and I'm always happy to try new highlighters! This highlighter is really pigmented which I like but it's easy to go a little overboard when applying. The bronzer isn't my favorite but I'll definitely still use it all up.  

Hempz Pomegranate Herbal Body Lotion 

This lotion is one of my favorites. Dustin's hands dry out because of work and this brand is the only one we've tried that really helps. (And we've tried several "working hands" type lotions). The scent is great and I'm happy to have received this in my bag!

Mellow Cosmetics Creamy Matte Lipstick

Love receiving full-size products! I've tried this brand before and I love the formula. It doesn't dry out and the color looks great!

Royal & Langnickel MODA Precision Angled Brush

I'm always excited to see a brush in my Ipsy bag! This brush can be used for anything from contouring, concealer, to eyeshadow. The angle makes it perfect for contouring so that's how I plan to mainly use this. 

The bag this month is cute and a good size compared to previous bags. I didn't do a price calculation for the value of the bag, but with a full-size lipstick and brush, the value of the bag definitely exceeds the $10 price of this subscription.
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Book of the Month May 2017 Review


Disclosure: this post contains referral links

This is easily one of my favorite subscriptions. Each month you choose a book from 5 books selected by Book of the Month judges. BOTM will pick a book for you based on your preferences but the box doesn't ship until you confirm your choice so you can always pick something different! However, I've found that BOTM pretty much always gets it right with their pick for me so I almost always go along with it.

All their books are hardcover and beat the price of even Amazon. I especially love that you can add additional books (from current and past selections, plus a few others), which is what I decided to do this month.

American War by Omar El Akkad was my pick for April. Unfortunately, I forgot to confirm it. However, I've been wanting to read it so I went ahead and added it to May's box.

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood was actually on my "to-read" list on Goodreads and it's the book BOTM suggested for me. (I swear they always pick what I'd choose for myself!) I don't usually read many memoirs but I've heard good things about Priestdaddy. 

Included with each book is a bookmark with either a quote from an author or a note from one of the judges. I think it's a cute touch and I'm always in need a new bookmark.

If you're interested in subscribing here's a referral link and you can use coupon code WATER to get a 3-month Book of the Month subscription for only $29.97 ($9.99 a book) & get a free hardcover copy of Into The Water by Paula Hawkins!
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