On My Bookshelf: After I Do

Blog-Tour-Header

 

***Contains affiliate links***

 

I’ve been super excited to participate in BookSparks Blog tour this summer and having a great time reading a bunch of new to me books. Definitely the book that I’ve connected with the most is After I Do: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m not sure why it’s hit me so deeply because in essence, my life is so different from Lauren, the main character’s.

AfterIDo-CoverHere’s the synopsis from Goodreads.com: “From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.”

Although I’ve never been married, I have no illusions that marriage is a perfect union and that feelings and passions ebb and fade. This was a fabulous book and I definitely devoured it. It’s a perfect book to read on vacation this summer, when you aren’t looking for a fluff book but still want a book that’s easy to read.

 

Review: Control Corrective Essential Daily Care Kit

Me and Mom

In the past couple of years I’ve tried to be very diligent about making sure I take care of my face. I am very lucky, I have great genes, my mother looks at least 10, if not 20 years younger than she actually is and we’ve been asked, on a regular basis if we were sisters. People also assume that I am younger for my age–my favorite is that I am still often carded nearly 11 years after my 21st birthday even with friends who are not being carded.

I have yet, though, to find a system that I am completely dedicated to so I was excited when Birchbloggers put a call out for people to test out a system. I eagerly applied and was sent the system. The system is called Control Corrective Essential Daily Care Kit.

2014-05-16 11.51.55

And I liked that it all came together, one of the things that super frustrates me is when I have to buy each lotion, cleanser and toner separately. It even came in a perfect travel container, which is helpful since I’ve had several trips in the past few weeks and this was easy to bring on airplanes.

2014-05-16 11.52.14

The system is made up of four parts, a facial wash, toner, crystal C serum and a daily cream.

Here is what Birchbox says:

Birchbox Breakdown

We’re constantly on a quest for balance, whether that’s between work and life, social time and gym visits, or indulgent dinners and juice cleanses. Conclusion: finding this so-called balance isn’t so easy. As far as our skincare is concerned, however, this daily-use kit has us covered. The high-performance, antioxidant-rich products—including a cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer—normalize skin to reveal a healthy, radiant glow.

How it Works

The aloe vera-based Gentle Facial Wash turns from gel to foam to rinse away oil, dirt, and makeup, perfectly prepping skin for the set’s other treatments. Botanically enriched with aloe vera, the Balancing Tonic hydrates as it protects skin from environmental stressors and harmful bacteria. Amino acids help repair the skin’s pH balance while reducing inflammation and removing impurities. For a healthy glow, Cyrstal C Serum gives dull complexions a perk with its vitamin C and aloe vera (notice a trend here?) blend. The antioxidant-rich ingredients help downgrade any inflammation. As a final protective barrier, Ceramide Daily Cream fortifies the skin’s lipid barrier to lock in moisture. The lightweight cream boasts vitamins A and E to fight free radicals and lend a luminous luster. For use on all skin types.

How to Use

Massage a quarter-sized amount of Gentle Facial Wash into damp face for about 30 seconds and rinse. After cleansing, soak a cotton ball or pad in the Balancing Tonic and sweep over face and neck in smooth strokes. Then dab a thin layer of Crystal C Serum all over to amp up radiance. Once the serum has been absorbed, massage a quarter-sized amount of Ceramide Daily Cream into face and neck.”

 

My thoughts on the product: I really like that the steps are clearly laid out and all come in the same package. I like how, even though there are basically three layers I’m applying to my face, it’s all very lightweight and I feel like, even after I put a foundation creme on, my face is not heavy feeling or sticky. I love the smell of everything and I love that it’s aloe vera based as I’m a big fan of aloe.

I’m also a fan of the fact that the system is compact enough that if I’m not home, I can still have it with me without having to have an additional travel set.

The one downside? It’s not cheap! It retails on the Birchbox website for $62.00. But I guess since it’s a four piece set, it’s actually not that unreasonable. \

What’s your favorite face cleansing system?

If you’re interested in trying out Birchbox, please use my code.

***I received this product complimentary from Birchbox for purposes of reviewing it. I will only recommend things that I think are good products and will always be honest in my reviews***

Sponsored Post: 4th of July Flower Power! #Bouqlove

I love flowers, I love the smell of them, I love how they look and I love having them in my house. So I was super excited when The Bouqs offered to send me a bouquet of flowers. So The Bouqs was founded by a guy who got his MBA at UCLA (I randomly found this out when my aunt and uncle were visiting and admiring my bouquet and when I mentioned where it came from, my uncle was excited to tell me that it was an alum of UCLA-go Bruins!) The company was founded on the fact that it’s incredibly hard to buy flowers online that come out looking as good as they do in the picture. I have definitely had this experience–living far away from family and loved ones I definitely love the ability to send treats every now and then to let them know that I’m thinking about them and love them. Holidays are an especially great time to send flowers and lo and behold, 4th of July is happening this week! I love to decorate for holidays but often find it hard to have to have decorations for any and every holiday that may or may not happen throughout the year. Therefore, flowers are a great way to add to holiday celebrations. For 4th of July how about a beautiful Red, White and Bouq!

from The Bouqs website

How perfect would these be sitting on your picnic table in your backyard during a Barbecue? I, of course, love flowers and immediately bought a bouquet and a week later, they are still blooming on my kitchen table at home. I also just ordered some flowers to be delivered coming up to someone special. What’s best is the flowers start at a very reasonable $40, which, especially for fresh flowers online, is great! They come conveniently wrapped: 2014-06-24 16.13.11   2014-06-24 16.15.13   And well packaged so that they are in great condition, even coming from South America!  They are beautiful when they first come: 2014-06-24 16.21.32 There are specific directions for best care and are lasting and beautiful still a week later! 2014-06-25 17.53.48 If you are looking for a great gift to send someone, especially when you are living far away, check out The Bouqs for a simple and easy gift! Want to order some flowers: make sure to use this link: https://www.thebouqs.com/en/?sal=539f19ee215552&spop=1

 

***I received compensation in the form of this bouquet of flowers from the Bouqs but will only recommend products that I feel are worthy of passing on.  Thank you to The Bouqs and Markerly for this opportunity***

On My Bookshelf: The Vacationers

 

***I was sent this book  in order to review by Birchbloggers***

***This post contains affiliate links***

The Vacationers is one of this summer’s must read books. I recently signed onto Birchbloggers through Birch Box, which if you’re interested in trying out, please use my link to sign up! As a part of Birchbloggers, I was sent a copy of the book to review.

Here’s what Goodreads had to say: “For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.”

I liked the book, I felt that the characters were very well developed and I had buy-in to their futures and what was happening to them. Franny and Jim are going through marital strife, Sylvia is going through teen angst, Franny and Jim’s older son, who comes with his girlfriend, is going through job difficulties and the difficulty of dating someone much older than him who wants different things in life. Franny’s best friend and his partner are trying to adopt a baby and the struggles that come with that.

This is definitely a great summer read and my only disappointment is that I felt that the story ended without really sharing the end of everyone’s stories but overall, a great book and now I want to go to Mallorca!

On My Bookshelf: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

the_perks_of_being_a_wallflower_book_cover_drawing_by_pigwigeon-d5j78el Anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE audio books. Case in point, the bestie and I were driving up from Los Angeles to Portland for camp in summer 2007. The biffle gave us one of the Harry Potter books on CD to listen to on the way up–to give us something to do on this long trip. There are many things about both the bestie and I that came out. OK, mostly about me. The first is, even though it was his car, I think I let him drive a grand total of about two hours out of the 20 some hour trip. So maybe I have some control issues! The second was, we put on the CD before we even left LA and before we even made it from the 405 to I-5, I threw the CDs into the backseat and refused to listen anymore. I decided I HATED books on tape.

So that was my story and I was sticking to it. This year, I participated, for the third year in a row, in World Book Night, an awesome opportunity where you get chosen to hand out books on the same night each year. This year, after the event, they sent an email out with an offer to download three audio books. I figured it was worth a try and worst case, I didn’t spend any money. So I chose to download and start listening to The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky. I knew it was a pretty popular movie and well received book but hadn’t read or seen it.

Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: “Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up”

I LOVED this book! Surprisingly I also loved listening to it. It took me about a week to get through the six hours. I listened only in the car, I have about a 20-25 minute commute each way to work and am randomly in my car throughout the week as well. I am going to be honest and say that there were times I sat outside my house, wanting to just listen to a little bit more before I went in! The book reminded me a lot of what high school was like, although I didn’t go through the same things as Charlie, but I did love Rocky Horror Picture Show! I was also surprised yet not surprised with the end of the book. I actually really want to watch the movie and see the differences between the two.

Do you listen to audio books? Have you found certain books to be better than others?

On My Bookshelf: My Abandonment

My AbandonmentI originally decided to read this book because it was chosen for the book club I was signed up to go to through Meetup.  I ended up not going but still read the book. It was a short book so a quick read, I think I finished it in an afternoon.

Goodreads synopsis: “A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. There they inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, bathe in a nearby creek, store perishables at the water’s edge, use a makeshift septic system, tend a garden, even keep a library of sorts. Once a week, they go to the city to buy groceries and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight.
Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of a young narrator, Caroline, Peter Rock’s My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins, and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope

All in all, this was an incredibly poignant and sad book. I was able to really identify with Caroline, even though I have nothing in common with her. The book definitely had a twist at the end that took me by complete surprise and I wished I could have learned more about that. I also loved that the book was based in Portland, in Forest Park, a place where I hiked recently. I love local flavor books as you know!

I would definitely recommend this book–it’s short and sweet but keeps your attention.

Foodie Friday: Quick Easy Lunches

When I’m at work, I get into a groove where I end up not really leaving work. This is good because I focus and get a lot done but it also means that I don’t usually think about lunch. Thankfully, I’ve been doing NatureBox for the last few months and those are easy crackers and nuts that I can eat.

My favorite lunch by far is crackers and cheese! I was excited when Influenster invited me to participate in a tasting of the new Sargento Ultra Thin Cheese.

They first sent me a package with the coolest lunch bag, which was sorely needed because I left mine in NYC!

IMG_3275

It’s actually similar to the one I had except that I think I had a blue background but I love the neoprene lunch bags because they stretch to fit so much stuff. There was also a coupon for a free package of the cheese, which the lady at the grocery store (the third one I tried!) was impressed by. She said she usually doesn’t see such good coupons.

IMG_3274

I wanted to get the Colby-Cheddar but there was only swiss or pepper jack so I decided to break out of my mold and go pepper jack. Yum!

IMG_3276

I happened to have wheat thins in my office so it was a quick, easy pairing. Overall, the cheese was good but a little thin so I felt like because I was eating it on crackers, it broke a little easier but on a sandwich, it was just fine.

Again, to me, this is the perfect workday lunch!

IMG_3273

Overall, I loved getting the sample and LOVE the lunch bag! I’m always looking for quick and easy lunch ideas at work–what’s your favorite quickie lunch?

voxbox-blogimage-popup2

“I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.”

How I Met Your Mother

I either get into trends super early or incredibly late. Example: I started listening to the soundtrack to Rent five years before any of my friends had even heard of it. On the other hand, I didn’t start watching How I Met Your Mother until this year. And I mean like March. I then got totally obsessed with it and ended up watching the first eight seasons within a month. Then I realized that it was impossible to find the final season on any of my online TV sources: Netflix, Amazon Prime or XFinity Cable. I was annoyed! So I looked into Hulu Plus and they didn’t have it either. I ended up just coughing up the $30 to buy the final season.

I loved the entire series. I thought it was well written and I liked that there were references back to previous seasons including flashbacks. I was torn with the ending. On the one hand, I was incredibly saddened, but on the other hand, the show gave me hope for my own boggling love life. My favorite character, by far, was Lily. I think because I always thought that I would be Lily-marrying someone I’d been with forever and Marshall was just such a stand-up guy with just perfect dash of geekiness where I could let my true geeky nature out. But alas, that has not been my lot in life.

Regardless, I found the show a great show to watch and I am a big fan of streaming shows after they come out because you never have to wait for the next season! What show should I watch next? I’ve been watching Web Therapy with Lisa Kudrow and have been told Game of Thrones. I loved West Wing and would love another show like that!

Foodie Friday: The Picnic House

Awhile ago, like in February maybe, my good friend and I went out for a night on the town. We decided to try a bunch of different places. For drinks we went to The Picnic House. I’d never been there and neither had she but my mother had said that she’d enjoyed it in the past.

IMG_2673

I loved it! It was right downtown near the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall but because it was a quiet Saturday night-there was nothing going on downtown, traffic was non-existent and we were able to park right near the restaurant on the street. The restaurant itself was very cute and made me think of what an old fashioned salon in Paris would be-people coming to discuss high literary items and the such.

Since we were going out for dinner afterwards, we stuck to an appetizer and a drink but the dinner menu looked delicious as well.

Christine got a beer (I am terrible, I don’t drink beer so I didn’t pay attention to what she got!) and I got a glass of Pinot Noir.

IMG_2678 IMG_2677

The Happy Hour menu was small, only six items on it but all reasonably priced between $3-$5. I got the salmon mousse crostini and Christine had the half grilled cheese sandwich & small roasted tomato soup. Both were small but nice portions and were quite tasty.

IMG_2681IMG_2680

My favorite part was the fact that they put the receipt into an old book!

IMG_2682

I will definitely be coming back here, perhaps when I attend an event at the concert hall!

A Night at the Movies: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 As you know, I am not a movie goer. Since December, I’ve now seen three movies in the theater which is more than I saw in the entire year last year! I’m trying to do better but for the most part, I am not a big fan of sitting in the theater with everyone else when I can sit at home and pause when I need to go to the bathroom or text someone or just walk around the room! But Saturday was a somewhat rainy afternoon and my aunt and uncle were in town so off I went to the movie theater with my aunt and uncle, parents and grandmother. The only movie we could all agree on to see was The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I didn’t know much about it except that several people I knew had seen it and enjoyed it and it wasn’t a big Hollywood blockbuster.  Works for me!

Here’s what IMDB had to say: “GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

So one thing that super confused me was the timeline. The bulk of the story took place in 1932 and spoke about a war but I’m not sure if they were referencing the lead-up to WWII or if it was just a fictional thing.  Other than that, I loved the film. I thought it was a great story of friendship and mentoring with some slapstick to tie it all up. But not everyone I went with loved it as much as I did. Neither my aunt or mom felt a connection with the movie at all.

The other part I loved was just the beauty of the scenery. I wish I could find a hotel like this to stay at! Especially during the prime-I mean what hotel still has lobby boys and concierges that provide such a detailed level of service (ok I don’t necessarily want the extremes that Gustave H went through but pampering is nice!) There are also some great train scenes and I am a huge lover of trains and wouldn’t mind traveling the Continent on a train! I also mentioned that I saw this movie with family and someone asked the question, how did I handle the awkward scene with my family there? None of us can remember a particularly awkward scene in the movie–does anyone have any ideas about what this was?!

Have you seen any good movies that I should put on my someday list?