Monthly Archives: August 2015

‘The Residence’ by Kate Anderson Brower [ REVIEW ]

The Residence

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen is one of the most interesting books I’ve read all year. The novel is full of fascinating insights into the lives of the butlers, maids, florists and other White House staff who work very hard to welcome and serve the presidential families. They are fiercely devoted, sworn to be apolitical, serving each family that arrives after Inauguration Day as evenly as the next, despite the upheaval each presidential change creates.

As a fan of history, I enjoy the stories which bring lives into focus, and in this case, gives excellent background to world events. It was fascinating to read about the friendship, intimacy, companionship and service the staff provides the families who are on the world stage but at the end of the day just want to kick up their feet. Of course, the staff cannot and will not be completely open due to the nature of their jobs and the respect they feel for the first families, but there is more than enough they do share. Thankfully, very little of it is shown through rose colored glasses.

The time between the pages is spent following the staff living and working in the White House. The most dramatic being the events on 9/11, and how the staff courageously did their duties even in the face of potential threat to their very lives. Also compelling were stories of presidential affairs, death and even the first “revolt” by the largely African-American staff to push for salary equality in the late 1960s.

I enjoyed this book very much, it is a wonderful companion to anyone interested in the behind the scenes workings of the White House, presidential families’ private lives or American history.

five-stars-624x145

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

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Lush : Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb [ REVIEW ]

One of my *unofficial* goals for 2015 is to relax more. As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement.” What is more relaxing close to home than a luxurious bath?  This year I will review products from my fav shop that makes fresh and handmade beauty goods, Lush! So draw up a bath, get a good book and a glass of wine, and let’s relax!

The Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb from Lush is a cute little blue robot intended for kids and adults alike. It smells gorgeous, like lavender, chamomile and sandalwood. This bath bomb leaves your skin feeling soothed and so soft, and your brain ready for bedtime. The water turns a gorgeous blue, like floating in a blue lagoon. This bath bomb is small and fizzes quickly, but it still fills an entire bath! I would recommend this one for kids to make bath time extra fun!

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Mother’s Day Lush Products I’ve tested:

Rose Bubble Bar, Secret Garden Bath Bomb, Mother Superior Bubble Bar

Easter Lush Products I’ve tested:

Immaculate Eggception, Golden Egg, Fluffy Egg, Bunch of Carrots, Bubblegrub

Other Lush Products I’ve tested:

Blackberry Bath BombTwilight Bath Bomb, Sakura Bath Bomb, Phoenix Rising, Honey Bee Bath Bomb, Space Girl Bath Bomb, Big Blue Bath Bomb, Granny Takes a Dip Bath Bomb, Rose Queen Bath Bomb,

*This post is not sponsored

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

Lush : Rose Queen Bath Bomb [ REVIEW ]

One of my *unofficial* goals for 2015 is to relax more. As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement.” What is more relaxing close to home than a luxurious bath?  This year I will review products from my fav shop that makes fresh and handmade beauty goods, Lush! So draw up a bath, get a good book and a glass of wine, and let’s relax!

The Rose Queen Bath Bomb from Lush is pretty great. This bath bomb leaves your skin feeling soothed and so soft. The water turns a gorgeous pink, and the rose fragrance is incredible. This bath bomb fizzes quickly, although it is small it packs a punch, with tons of blossoms, petals and other cut bits of nature. So many in fact that the clean up is a bit of a chore. This would be a good one to wrap, or perhaps to just let drain and pick them up all together. Sadly this is one of the bath bombs on the chopping block, so pick one up before they are gone!

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Mother’s Day Lush Products I’ve tested:

Rose Bubble Bar, Secret Garden Bath Bomb, Mother Superior Bubble Bar

Easter Lush Products I’ve tested:

Immaculate Eggception, Golden Egg, Fluffy Egg, Bunch of Carrots, Bubblegrub

Other Lush Products I’ve tested:

Blackberry Bath BombTwilight Bath Bomb, Sakura Bath Bomb, Phoenix Rising, Honey Bee Bath Bomb, Space Girl Bath Bomb, Big Blue Bath Bomb, Granny Takes a Dip Bath Bomb,

*This post is not sponsored

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

August ArtSnacks Unboxing [ 2015 ]

Capture

One of my goals for 2015 is to sketch more. I’ve always loved art, whether it was admiring other’s work or creating my own. Over the past year I have been taking online classes through Sketchbook Skool. I found out about it before the first class and I’ve taken all three (plus currently their Bootkamp) that they have offered. They have inspired me to capture the everyday. They also inspired me to try new materials which has me on the hunt for the ‘perfect’ sketchbook as well as new products.

I absolutely loved the August Artsnacks box, they were all items I haven’t tried and they were so much fun to play with!

Denik Mini Sketchbook

Denik is a new notebook company that uses artwork from artists around the world for their sketchbook and journal cover design. Also, a portion of every product sold goes to building schools! The design on this mini sketchook is from Boston-basaed artist, Monique Amiee. I loved the design, and the paper is smooth as butter to sketch on!

ZIG Cartoonist Brush Pen No. 22

This pen inspired me to create the comic strip above- it worked really well overall! this brush is imported from Japan, and has a medium nylon brush tip that can create different sized lines. The pen body cartridges are refillable also!

Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Ink

This is a special acrylic-based ink that’s highly pigmented and can be layed down repeatedly for a solid color. It could also be diluted for a water color effect. It has a high degree of light-fastness, which is great for art that will be permanently on display. The color this ink created in my Moleskin sketchbook is so amazing. It just jumps off the page at you!

Simply Simmons Paintbrush

This brush has soft bristles and is easy to clean. It worked pretty well with the ink, but did stain a little even though the ink wasn’t on it for too long. Overall? A good brush, but perhaps best with acrylic or watercolor.

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Click to see my ArtSnacks unboxing for: February, March, April, May, June, July and the Travel Collection Box.

*This post is not sponsored

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, and 2012 and my bucket list!

ArtSnacks Travel Collection Unboxing [ 2015 ]

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One of my goals for 2015 is to sketch more. I’ve always loved art, whether it was admiring other’s work or creating my own. Over the past year I have been taking online classes through Sketchbook Skool. I found out about it before the first class and I’ve taken all three (plus currently their Bootkamp) that they have offered. They have inspired me to capture the everyday. They also inspired me to try new materials which has me on the hunt for the ‘perfect’ sketchbook as well as new products.

I loved my Artsnacks Travel Collection box, there were items I had never seen before, others that I already have and love, and they will all be fun to take on the go! All of the Artsnacks Travel Collection boxes are sold out- but you can purchase any of these items on their own!

Moleskin Postal Notebook

Four moleskin paper pages folded into a card-style envelope. It is perfect for doodling and writing about your adventures. All you need is a stamp and you can mail it to a loved one!

unnamedNock Co. Chimneytop Case

Two pouches designed exclusively for ArtSnacks and handmade in the USA. They are a gorgeous teal color, shape wonderfully for art supplies, and even have the sweetest ArtSnacks

Copic Multiliner SP Brush Pen

This is a brush pen with water proof and refillable archival ink. The aluminum look is futuristic and industrial. Playing around with this pen, I know I will love it, it’s going in my pouch to be on the go!

Palomino COLORS Artist Color Pencils 

Twelve colored pencils with bright and bold pigments. The company is based out of California, made in Japan and is known for using genuine incense cedar. The pigmentation is gorgeous, and just flows onto the paper!

Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketchbook

So far I love this sketchbook! It’s only 6×6 so it is perfect for travel and carrying around. It also has two different surfaces on every page. Thick for watercolor on one side and smoother on the other for pen and ink.

unnamedWinsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Pan Sets

I already have this watercolor pan set, and I was actually excited to get another because I love it. I was already thinking about when I would need to purchase another one. There are twelve colors and pans perfect for mixing colors. These colors are great for mixing also.

CASTELL 9000 Perfect Pencil by Faber-Castell

This pencil has a plastic tip protector with a built-in sharpener and pocket clip. It is made of Castell 9000 graphite lead with a grade B weight. I don’t usually take pencils along with me because I hate the mess they make in my pouches, but this one has a built in ‘cap’ which protects the tip as well as makes a mess impossible. It would be great for traveling! 🙂

Faber-Castell Wave Eraser

This eraser is designed to rotate out of its casing to take care of those unwanted marks and then tuck right back in. I love the design, and it erased marks from the CASTELL 9000 Perfect Pencil completely.

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Click to see my ArtSnacks unboxing for: February, March, April, May, June; July

*This post is not sponsored

___________________________________

Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, and 2012 and my bucket list!

Lush : Granny Takes A Dip Bath Bomb [ REVIEW ]

Granny Takes A Dip

One of my *unofficial* goals for 2015 is to relax more. As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement.” What is more relaxing close to home than a luxurious bath?  This year I will review products from my fav shop that makes fresh and handmade beauty goods, Lush! So draw up a bath, get a good book and a glass of wine, and let’s relax!

The Granny Takes A Dip bath bomb from Lush is so incredible. It leaves your skin feeling soft and lightly perfumed. The smell is fantastic- lemon oil, spicy black pepper and fresh ginger oil get your mind going! Once you place it in the bath it spins and scoots around,  shooting out what looks like frothy psychedelic multicolored sherbet. It doesn’t leave a ring around the tub either.

4

When it’s done spinning the bath water is left a deep pinky purple.  It takes awhile to fizz completely, but it’s worth the wait. Sadly this bath bomb is one of the ones in line to be discontinued, so get it quickly! Apparently it will be reformulated to become a bubble bar, which I will try as soon as I can!

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Mother’s Day Lush Products I’ve tested:

Rose Bubble Bar, Secret Garden Bath Bomb, Mother Superior Bubble Bar

Easter Lush Products I’ve tested:

Immaculate Eggception, Golden Egg, Fluffy Egg, Bunch of Carrots, Bubblegrub

Other Lush Products I’ve tested:

Blackberry Bath BombTwilight Bath Bomb, Sakura Bath Bomb, Phoenix Rising, Honey Bee Bath Bomb, Space Girl Bath BombBig Blue Bath Bomb,

*This post is not sponsored

_________________________________

Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

The Selection series by Kiera Cass [ REVIEW ]

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

The Selection series by Kiera Cass which includes ‘The Selection,” “The Elite,” “The One,” and “The Heir” was for me, The Hunger Games meets ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’. The entire series is a feel-good read with an underlying current of YA drama and political and social strife. The novels were predictable and fluffy, but still interesting enough to hold your attention the entire time.

*Fair warning: spoilers ensue!!

Book 1, The Selection: In a caste-based future, Illéa’s Prince Maxon has come of age and needs to marry. Thirty five girls are chosen by lottery to travel to the Capital and live in the palace for a competition in which the prince makes his choice of who to marry. America, a Five in the caste system, doesn’t want to join the Selection because she is in love with Aspen, a Six. (They are not far from the bottom of the caste system). Pressure from both her family and Aspen causes her to relent, and the rest is predictable but entertaining. She’s chosen, goes to the palace, and makes both friends and enemies with the other girls. Prince Maxon is much more than she expected, but she will remain loyal to Aspen. Maybe. She has a (kind of weird) understanding with Maxon to stick around for awhile- he’s intrigued with her, and by her staying her family gets food and money.

Book 2, The Elite: The competition has dwindled to six girls, and it is more real than ever. The stakes are higher- and America’s heart is now pulled between Prince Maxon and the boy she left at home, Aspen. But now Aspen is at the palace serving as a guard. America is falling for Maxon, but is overcome with memories of the life she and Aspen had planned to share whenever she sees him. Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. While she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent (but rather bumbling) rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Book 3, The One: “America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.” So this book is predictable as well- (one should be able to tell from the titles alone what the plot line is). The characters annoy and surprise me as in the first two books, convenient plot lines just happen, and there is no epilogue, grrr. But the ending is SO SWEET. Just know that these books are pure fluff and will not challenge you intellectually. That’s ok though, sometimes that’s just exactly what you need.

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Book 4, The Heir: I checked out the first three novels from the library and read them back to back- not even realizing there would be two more. When I saw this novel, ‘The Heir’ on the new shelves at my local Barnes and Noble I was maybe too excited. Since I hadn’t purchased the first three I immediately put this book on hold at my library too. And waited… and waited… then finally! I got it. This book is funny- but it annoyed me more and less than the first three. I appreciated what it tried to accomplish, but the cliff hanger!! Arggg…

This novel (and the unwritten final book 5) are set twenty years after the first three. They follow the story of America and Maxon’s first born daughter, Eadlyn- the heir to the throne. For much of the book I thought she was a spoiled brat-which was disappointing because of how likable (although indecisive) her mother America’s character was in the first three novels. I’m pretty sure Cass did this on purpose though because in the end she learns and grows. The plot line of the novel is based on Eadlyn (grudgingly) holding her own selection with a selection of boys from the kingdom. Toward the end she actually finds she is starting to like some of the boys, and she starts to see a bigger picture than herself. It’s pure fluff as well, but still. What do you expect?

I cannot wait for the final book in the series to come out next year!!

3-stars-out-of-5

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!