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Aesthetic Reading

March 28, 2013
I always feel like there is SO much that I want to read, yet there is so little time to do so!  I love just "quitting life" and curling up to relax with a good book.

At the beginning of the year, I made some reading goals, which you can find here: Reading Goals for 2013.  I completed one of the books on the list, Say You're One of Them, but have yet to read the other books.  I can't help it...I have reading AD/HD and got distracted with some other good books.  :)  I will  be starting some of the ones on my list now that this semester is winding down.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you some of what I have been reading/am reading now/will read very soon.

For the South African Children's Literature class I'm enrolled in, we had to pick an author that we wanted to learn more about, and I chose Dianne Case since I really enjoyed reading 92 Queens Road for our course.  Part of our assignment was to read as many books by our authors as possible, so my professor lent me her (signed) copy of Katy of Sky Road by Dianne Case and Yvonne Hart.  The story is about a coloured South African adolescent girl named Katy, and it takes place in a contemporary setting.  Katy is enthralled with hip hop music and the culture associated with it, even though she feels like she has to hide this from her very strict father.  The clash between who Katy wants to be and who Katy feels forced to be is ever present in the book.  This is a story of self-discovery, even though Katy's path often resulted in her making some mistakes.  Tik, or crystal meth, also plays a big role in the story since both Katy's friends and Katy become affected directly or indirectly by this drug, which has become a serious problem in South Africa.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  Even though it is a fictional novel, it still really informs the reader about real issues going on in South Africa.  I also am on a big adolescent literature kick...Before some of my literature courses, I thought it would be weird for an adult to read books meant for children or adolescents, but I discovered some of my favorite books through these classes. (Have you ever read The Tale of Desperaux? It's so well-written!)  And, as an adult reader, they are quick, fun, easy reads which is always a plus. 

Also, just wanted to include a little note about the word "coloured."  Coloured is how that group in South Africa self-identifies, so I just wanted to clarify that since it has other connotations in the United States.





I received my copy of Marie Claire in the mail last week, but haven't had time to read it yet.  Marie Claire is probably my favorite fashion/beauty magazine, even though it sometimes makes me feel bad and a little envious about how I cannot afford all of those designer clothes.  Sometimes it's nice to not read a book because I can enjoy visuals in here.  I also feel like I don't always have to give reading magazines my full, undivided attention.



 



 My Cape Town guidebook just arrived in the mail.  Since I'll be leaving for South Africa in the middle of May, I thought I better read up on where I am going and find some good suggestions about what to do in our free time when we are there.  I found out that our accommodation will be right on the V&A Waterfront!  So, that will be great that we will be so close to such a happening area that is also one of the safest.  Some of what is on our itinerary includes going to visit Stellenbosch Winelands and Kirstenbosch Gardens as well as visiting Table Mountain and Robben Island.  Since it is a study tour, I'll also hopefully get to visit a school, public library, and publisher.  I started leafing through the book and it's making me even more excited to go!




The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Now is the Time for Running are two books that are on my must read ASAP list.  I loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower move, so I'm hoping that the book will be even better.  My friend who is in the South African Children's literature course with me did his author study on Michael Williams, and he told me that this book was the his favorite by this author.  He also lent me a copy of the book, which, by the way, was called "a must read" by Matthew Quick, the author of Silver Linings Playbook.






What I'm currently reading is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, which I received in my Pop Sugar Must Have February Box.
This book wouldn't have been one that I would have picked out for myself, but since I have a copy of it, I figured, "Why not?"  At first I kind of liked it, but now it is boring me a little.  It might be because I already saw the movie, so I feel like I already know what is going to happen.  I'm going to stick through til the end, though.  I think my main issue is that I don't like predictable books, where you know that two characters are going to fall in love and end up together, and most of Nicholas Sparks' books seem like they are like that.  



Here is the aforementioned Say You're One of Them that I just finished reading.  I found this book at Half-Priced books a few years ago, and just never got around to reading it which is why I added it to my reading list for 2013.  I read the book description awhile back, but did not re-read it before picking up the book and getting started, so after I finished the first section, I started the second part and got a little confused because I thought it was supposed to be one, continuous story.  I kept reading the second part, waiting for it to connect to the first part when I discovered that this is a collection of short stories.  Oops.  The stories in this book are...wow... pretty powerful in the sense that they deal with some very heavy topics such as clashes in religion, poverty, and corruption .  This is definitely a book that still haunts me after reading it, but I like books that make you think.  This book gave me a lot of perspective and made me appreciate what I have a lot more.

Have you read or are you interested in reading any of the books that I've talked about? 

Toms Shoes Review

March 20, 2013
So, for Christmas, I found a really cute pair of red Toms ballet flats that I wanted.  My boyfriend ordered them for me in my size, and they were way too small.  We re-ordered the next size up and they were literally flopping off of my feet, and I was tripping because they were too big.  I wear a size 11 shoe, and most companies do not offer size 11.5.  Toms was no exception to that.  Since the 12's were way too big, I determined that I was unable to wear any ballet flats from this company because no sizes fit me properly.  I got a refund in the form of a gift card, and decided to cash it in the other day and buy some of their Classic shoes.  I bought their Earthwise Green Women's Vegan Classics and their Oahu Women's Vegan Classics, and both of these pairs fit me fine in my normal size.

I'm a little paranoid about the shape of the shoe--my friend saw it and said that they were cute but that they didn't look like my style.  Really, the ballet flats are way more my style, but I already tried those with no luck.  The other shoes on their website were cute, but they were wedges and heeled shoes, and I'm already 6'0" tall.  Wearing 4" heels would bring my height to 6'4", and I'm not always comfortable with that.  (Mad props to all tall girls who never care and wear sky high heels to their heart's content!)  Plus, in this case I was looking for a flat, casual style that would be comfy to wear.  That pretty much left me with the classic style to choose from.


Although they were not my first choice, I do hope that I get a lot of use out of them.

Here are the  Earthwise Green Women's Vegan Classics.




I have worn these shoes around since receiving them, and they are comfortable overall, but the stretchy green "triangle" on the top of the shoe did rub the top of my foot and it was bothering me by the end of the day.  Hopefully, this is just part of the breaking in process!

Here are the Oahu Women's Vegan Classics:



I'm still not fully embracing the shape of the shoe, although I obviously like the colors/design since I picked those out myself.  Maybe I'm just being overly picky and need to get over it!

Anyone else have any qualms over the shape of the shoe?  I just feel like they are too "hippy" for me, but maybe I am over thinking it and need to let it go.  What do you guys think of Toms Classics?  Let me know the good, the bad, and the ugly in the comments section. 

This brand is pretty well known now, but just in case you don't know about the company, here is a link to their site: Toms.com.  The company pledges to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that is purchased, so if they live up to their promise, two children will be getting a pair of shoes because of what I bought.  Pretty neat!

One more thing that you should be aware of is that when I bought a size 11 red ballet flat and wanted to exchange it for a size 12 ballet flat, it was a big hassle.  The company "doesn't do" exchanges, only refunds.  This can be annoying if you wait for the refund and then try to repurchase, because what if they sell out in your size?  I don't agree with it, but that's how they do things!

Glossybox March 2013 Review Spring Fling

I just got my March Glossybox in the mail, and am so excited to share the contents with you!




First of all, I'm very glad that I got the items today, on March 20th.  I didn't receive the January Glossybox until February, and didn't get the February Glossybox until the last day of February, so this month's box definitely arrived in a more timely fashion!

Here is what I received:

Elite Models Liner:  This is a liquid eyeliner that I received in brown.  I don't currently own any brown eyeliners, only black.  I guess it's good to have one brown one--I'm not opposed at all to trying out this color even though black will always be my #1!  Brown eyeliner is supposed to be a really big trend right now, too.  I think I'm all set with eyeliners for awhile now seeing as how in last month's Glossybox, I received a gel liner and I already owned an eye pencil.

ModelCo Cheek & Lip Tint: I'm very excited about this multi-purpose product.  Even though it's full-sized, it's small enough to be thrown into your purse.  It's very lightweight, and will save some room in my bag since it serves the purpose of two products instead of just one.  Further, I love how you can layer the product to get your desired color.  I know that some days I'll be opting for a lighter, fresher look while at other times (especially if I'm going out at night), I'll be wanting something a little darker and more dramatic.  I cannot wait to try this out!

Pixi Magic Tint Tink Gel Lip Crayon: The packaging of this product is super cute!  It is paraben and sulfate free, and the product is supposed to moisturize and nourish your lips while adding hint of color.  In this case, the color is a light pink, which really ties in with the Spring Fling theme.  I'm a sucker for lip products.  I don't mind at all that I got two, even though I know some people will.

Sebastian Professional Hairspray: I haven't been styling my hair AT ALL, so I don't even think I own any hairspray.  It's good to have some around, though and owning this product might motivate me to try out some new styles or even curl my hair which I haven't done in forever!!

Prestiche Essential Oil Bar Soap: I received this in Rosechella, but other variations of boxes I've seen included Lemongrass or Lavender scents.  I used to only associate the rose scent with old ladies, but it has been growing on me.  This is a brand that I had never heard of before, so I'm glad that I have been introduced to it, since that is one of the main reasons why I joined Glossybox!

We also received $40 gift certificate towards any Prestiche purchase.  Most of their products cost more than $40, and they want $11.85 for standard shipping, so it's not as great of a deal is it initially looks, but you would still be saving $$ on their products.  Personally, I think I'm going to try out that soap and see what I think before making my decision on whether or not to use the coupon.

I am very happy with this month's Glossybox.  Another variation I've seen is that some people were getting Koh Gen Do face cream in place of the Pixi Lip Tint.  I would like to try out the cream, but like I said, I was the right person to give two lip products to!  All in all, this box is great because we got four full sized products!  Everything is full sized except for the hairspray, but at 1.5 oz, the hairspray isn't in a puny-sized container either.


What do you think of this month's Glossybox? Leave me a comment and let me know!

**UPDATE** There is no way that the Prestiche soap is 125 grams, as is stated on the sticker.  Since I wrote this review, I have seen some YouTube reviews of the Prestiche soap where they are holding up the actual full sized product, and it is much thicker.  I guess we only got three full sized samples after all, but I'm still happy with my box!

Food Scented Products

March 15, 2013
I'm trying really hard to eat healthier and to limit my sugar intake.  After all, a "treat" should actually be a "treat" and not just be incorporated into my daily diet!  Yesterday while I was shopping, I found some food scented products that smelled delicious and thought that if I can't eat as many sweets as I want, I might as well be able to smell as many goodies as I please.  :)  This led to the purchase of two yummy smelling items: Mint Chocolate Cocoa Delicious Body Lotion by Hempz treats and some Cinnamon Buns Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath from Philosophy.




Both smell scrumptious, and I can freely enjoy the scents without the calories.  I also like how the Cinnamon Buns product can double as a shampoo or body wash--very convenient.  I have never tried a Philosophy product before, but have heard all about them!  

I knew nothing about the brand Hempz treats, so I decided to check out their website at http://www.hempztreats.com/ and learned that all of their products' scents are based on desserts.  The Orange Dream Cupcake lotion also looks tempting!  As an added bonus, these products are all paraben free.

The best part of it all was that I got these products at a discounted rate since I bought them at TJ Maxx.  Both products usually retail for $10.00, but I got them for $5.99.  I love feeling like I got a deal or saved money.  I never even knew TJMaxx even sold stuff like this, but they actually had a lot of great brands!  They even had stuff from The Body Shop, which is nice because there isn't one of those in my town.  I will for sure be heading back there when I am running low on bath gels and lotion.

My friend bought a food scented item, too--Philosophy's Strawberry Italian Soda Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath. 


What are you favorite food scented products?  Please respond in the comments below!

March Birchbox 2013

March 13, 2013

In March's Birchbox, I got:

Benetint from Benefit Cosmetics- This is a lip or rose tint that was originally made for a burlesque dancer who wanted rosier nipples.  Haha...Paired with last month's Nipple Balm for lips, this is the 2nd product I've gotten in a row that was meant for nipples but is used on the lips.  I might get a little creeped out if I get a third nipple product next month, but I like the idea of a cheek/lip stain.  I thought it was going to be more balm-like, but it is in liquid form.  It looks like it has the same consistency as water.  The sample size is small at .08 oz, but the product description card mentioned that you only need a few drops for each application.  Apparently a little goes a long way.

Eco-Beauty Oil-Free Face Cleanser by LA FRESH- I only got one of these wipes, so if I didn't get an extra I would have felt a little gypped.  I have used Neutrogena facial wipes before and they were very handy when traveling on long plane or train rides.  I know I only got one, so it had to be individually wrapped, but even in full size pack, they are all individually wrapped.  After I opened the pack from Neutrogena and used some wipes, the ones that were left got dried out, so there is a need for each wet wipe to be in its own packaging.

Serge Normant's Meta Revive Dry Shampoo- I have never owned or tried a dry shampoo before, so I'm a little excited about this.  I wash my hair every day, but I shouldn't.  I actually have dry hair, but I just feel grossed out or paranoid that my hair will be greasy around the scalp by the end of the 2nd day.  Now that I have this dry shampoo to try out, I might skip a day every so often.  Again, this is very handy for traveling!  This item brings the most value to the box.  It is a decent size at 2 oz., and it will probably last me a long time since it's not like I'm going to use it every other day or anything.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream- It smells like blueberries, and I love blueberries!  The product looks rich and decadent.  I don't typically use shaving cream since a body gel will also work, so this will be a nice treat!

Emery Board from Madewell for Birchbox- The flower design is really pretty and appropriate for the spring season coming up here soon.  The only time I will ever use this is when applying Nail Rock/Sally Hansen Salon Effects polish strips.  Otherwise, I try to avoid all types of nail files...I can't stand the sound and the feeling isn't pleasant either (we all have our quirks!).

As with all other months so far, I am satisfied with my Birchbox!  :)  The value of the items in this box is far greater than the value of last month's box and of course it's worth more than the $10 I paid for it!

Here's the break down:

Benetint- $5.80
Emery board- $5.00
Shaving cream- $2.93
Face wipe- $0.33
Dry shampoo- $11.10

Total: $25.16, wow!



What product appeals to you the most in this Birchbox?

Frankenmuth, Michigan

March 12, 2013
My younger sister bought a new house last year, and she had been repeatedly asking me to come and visit her in Michigan.  Due to my hectic schedule, I was unable to until this past weekend.  I took advantage of my three full days off to have a nice, relaxing time catching up my sis and her husband.

My sis thought it might be fun to visit Frankenmuth, otherwise known as Michigan's Little Bavaria.  I thought it was cool that she took me here because this is where she got engaged after watching fireworks here on the Fourth of July.  For lunch, we stopped at the Bavarian Inn.  Afterwards, we browsed around the city and checked out the area's specialty stores.  Fudge seemed to be a big seller here.




Next, checked out River Place, which has over 40 different stores. If you have a sweet tooth, it is worth checking out.  There is a candy shop, a place that has crepes, and a cupcake store.  I resisted those temptations, but I could not pass up trying some gourmet popcorn at The Popcorn Wagon.  They had regular popcorn along with some flavors that I expected them to have like cheddar cheese and kettle corn, but they also had some crazier kinds such as grape or apple pie.  I ended up buying a small bag of Chunky Monkey, which contained a mix of banana, chocolate, and peanut butter popcorn.
Chunky Monkey
Some of the other flavors for sale
My sis at the River Place shops
We then headed over to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, which claims to be the largest Christmas store in the world.

Inside Bronner's
You could easily get lost in the store--luckily the sections are labeled with huge numbers overhead.  Here, I believe you can pick up any ornament you've ever dreamed of.  There are ornaments for hobbies, occupations, pets, and everything and anything related to Christmas/winter.  Since I have a terrible sweet tooth, one of my favorite sections was full of dessert related ornaments!


My grandmother used to give an ornament to each grandchild every year.  She did this starting from our birth year, so I have a nice collection, thanks to her.  Because of this tradition, I thought it might be fun for my sister and I to go through the store and pick out an ornament for each other as a souvenir from Frankenmuth.  

The ornament my sister got for me isn't that "Christmas-y," but it is really beautiful!  She got it in the Ornaments from Around the World section.  My ornament is made in Italy from hand blown glass.  The designs were also hand painted.  I love it!!


Overall, I had a great time and hope to go back to visit my sister in Michigan again.  Hopefully it won't take me another year to get there again!

Glossybox February 2013

March 7, 2013
In February I received two Glossyboxes--one because I used the COSMO code when I signed up for a three month subscription, and one because I have a monthly subscription.  I didn't trust Glossybox to actually send out the free box, so when I found out that the theme for the box was "International Style," I re-subscribed because there was no way I wanted to miss out on this theme!  After all, I have an International Studies degree, so I just felt obligated.

Here are the contents of my first box:





Bvlgari Eau Parfumée Au Thé Blanc soap- Here we have some perfumed white tea soap, which represents Italy in regards to the international theme.  Of all the possibilities for an Italian beauty product, I wish we hadn't gotten this!  I prefer body washes over solid soaps any day, and it's not in my #1 scent or anything, but I will still use this.

Lisi Eye Definition Cream Eyeliner- This product is supposed to be from the U.S.A., but on the product it very clearly says, "Made in China," which I thought was pretty funny.  The color I got was "Tanzanite" which just looks black to me.  I've swatched it for you below.  I wish I would have gotten one of the containers that comes with a brush and not just a pot of it.  Luckily, I have a nice MAC brush that I will be able to apply it with, but the drawback to that is that I'll have to wash it immediately after every time--oh well! At any rate, I'm happy that I just got a normal color because I'll get the most use out of a color like this rather than the more "fun" colors like blue.

The product is looking a little dry...I don't know if maybe I should a drop or two of water (?).  I'll probably hold off on that for as long as possible because nothing would be worse than a runny eyeliner.

Da Vinci Shimmer Powder- The Glossybox card says this can be used as an eye shadow or as a highlighter for your cheeks/under your eyebrows.  The color I got is Wild Lilac, which I think is really pretty! I've seen some other colors of this product that would look weird on your cheeks, but this one seems like it could work well.  Again, this is another product from the U.S.A., but unlike the Lisi Eyeliner, it actually says, "Made in the U.S.A." right on it. Personally, I don't think an International Box should have any items from the U.S.A., let alone two.  I think Glossybox missed the mark on their theme, but I am still excited to try out this product.

Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Hydro Gel Mask- I was excited to get a Korean item, since I lived over there for 3 years and miss going into the beauty stores over there, which seemed to be around every corner!  This product is made with snail slime, which supposed to be really good for your skin.  I'm kind of grossed out by this, but the snail slime extract only makes up 5% of the actual product, so I'll just try to pretend it's not in there.  I love trying out weird products, but get a little squeamish when animals are involved.  The back says that they are "Against animal testing," but I don't know how true that is.  I've heard positive reviews about this mask, so I think I might try it out tonight when I get home from work.

Nail Rock Nail Wraps- I'm glad I didn't get the ones with the unicorns/little kid/Halloween-looking designs!  I won't be able to try out these wraps any time soon because I would just have to remove them after a few days since my work prohibiting employees from wearing nail polish, but I'll have three weeks off of work when I go to South Africa, so I'll save them for then!

Here are the contents of my 2nd Glossybox:



As you can see, I got all of the same items, but the Nail Rock designs are different.  The DaVinci Shimmer Powder is in a different color (bronze), too.  Even though the products are the same at least the different colors provided some variation.


I liked the box, but I wasn't as thrilled with it as I was with the January box.  Also, I did use the promo code GETBLUSH and the blush was missing.  I haven't contacted them about it because I was so busy with school that I just had other things on my mind.  I feel like it is too late now to say anything, and it's just a blush not a whole box of stuff that they didn't send.  They really should work on their promo codes because this is the 2nd time (out of two possible times) that mine got messed up.  With that being said, I had some questions about my Cosmo code box and they did e-mail me back right away, so I feel like they have stepped up their customer service compared to last month when they just ignored my e-mails.

Did you order a February Glossybox?  What was your favorite item?