All The Light We Cannot See

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I recently finished this exquisite library book, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – a Northwest author from Idaho.  Published in May, this novel is getting accolades from all around the literary world, and I can certainly see why. First off, I love the setting(s) in France and Germany – and the time period – before and during WWII. “Unique” is a good way to describe the way this book is written.  It runs parallel between two main characters, a young blind French girl, and a young underweight but brilliant German boy.  This is not, repeat NOT, a romance story in ANY way.  One of the unique things about this book is the way it’s written – in short but to the point chapters.  This does not mean it was a short book – it’s over 500 pages.  Going back and forth between Marie-Laure and Werner, we see how different their lives are, yet how each is affected by the coming of war, and the war itself.  I hesitate to write more about the plot, but suffice it to say that this is one heck of a satisfying read.  To ANYONE who enjoys WWII history, you will thoroughly enjoy reading this amazing book.  For a full synopsis, click here for a great review from the New York Times.

September empties, a fave, and a fail

This month I saved my “empties” to share on the blog.  I enjoy watching “empties” videos on YouTube, but since there is NO way I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I’ll share here :)   So, lets get started with a group photo of all the goods….

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For me, it’s always a great feeling to finish something off!!  Let’s briefly discuss each item.  Starting from the left and working right, the first is a small bottle of Bath and Body Works “Into the Wild” lotion. This smelled so nice and I liked it a lot. Would I repurchase? Well, I have such a big back up right now of body lotions, that I’d be crazy to buy more right now!  Next are two Origins products.  I love Origins, and these two items are both in the “Grapefruit” scent. The top one is “Body Buffing Cleanser” which I used in the shower.  It’s really nice, thick, and has little micro-beads that help scrub. The Origins tub is Grapefruit “body souffle”. I got both of these as a Christmas gift a couple years back.  I loved the body souffle SO MUCH that I hoarded it and didn’t use it, except for “special occasions”. Dumb, dumb, dumb!  When I opened this tub a short time ago, ready to lather myself in it – I was shocked to smell instantly that the product had gone off.  It smelled so icky.  I am ashamed to admit there was still about 1/4 of the lotion left. It really hurt to throw this out, but heck, I’ve learned a lesson!! EVERY DAY is a special occasion! Use the lotions and potions you love EVERYDAY!  Next to the Origins, in the back, is a Bath and Body works cologne in “Moonlit Path”.  I’ve had this for years and finally finished it off.  Loved the scent, so soft and slightly flowery and a bit musky.  Okay, I’m terrible at describing scents, but it was nice!  In front of that is a Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater shower gel.  I got this as a gift last year and decided to USE IT NOW – before it went off too!  Smelled great, but then I do love roses.  Next to the shower gel is Victoria’s Secret small spray perfume in “Amber Romance”. I know I’ve raved over this scent before, so I won’t do it again, except to say, I love it and will definitely repurchase – someday! The last bottle on the right is Arbonne’s “Phyto Prolief” Natural Balancing Cream. I may be wrong, but I think this cream helps to somewhat reduce the symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes. I’ve repurchased this stuff numerous times, and will keep on doing it until I get through this “phase” of my life :)  Just for the record, I don’t buy this from Arbonne, but off Ebay for a much more reasonable price.

Next, a fail:  Maybelline Color Tattoo in “Barely Branded”.  I got this a bit over a year ago after watching some of my favorite YouTubers sing it’s praises.  It was a bit too shimmery for me, but I did use it on occasion.  Last week I grabbed it and when I opened it, it didn’t look anything like the photo below.  It was totally dried up!!!  Impossible to use.  So, it went directly into the trash.  What a disappointment.  I do have other shades of Color Tattoo and really like them.  Here’s hoping they don’t dry up as well!

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The next item – EOS lip balm in “Melon” also ended up in the trash this past month.  I’d been using this, mostly at bedtime for quite a while. It too started to smell funny, so it joined the Color Tattoo in the trash!  I’ve replaced it with a similar EOS balm, in “Sweet Mint” – love it!

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Now for the Fave!  First off, I love autumn – my favorite time of year!  I’m particularly fond of the Fall colors, in clothing, lips, and nails!  I recently picked up a gorgeous new lipstick by Maybelline in their ColorSensational Matte line, called “Touch of Spice”. Matte lips seem to be all the rage this season, so I went to WalMart and spent the $5.50 on a tube.  This is the creamiest, most wearable matte lipstick I own!! It glides on effortlessly!  Here’s a pic of me, sporting “Touch of Spice”:

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It’s just a really nice color for Autumn!!  I’ll be wearing it a lot!  Funny thing, I realized I have a lot of lipsticks that are similar in color!  Here’s a swatch:

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Yikes!  I guess I REALLY like this color!!  The Plum Rum is the sheerest lipstick, and the Rum Riche is almost exactly the same as the new Touch of Spice, except it’s NOT matte.  Then there’s the Revlon lip butter in “Sugar Plum”.  I love that stuff too – so much that I bought a back up the other day!!

I guess that’s it for this time. Happy Autumn, everyone!!

Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor

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It took me WAY too long to finally listen to this engaging novel, the latest in Dr Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country” series.  I should clarify and say that he does have another new edition coming out next month entitled “An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War”.  For now, this is still the newest addition to this entertaining series, and I’ve had it for nearly a year!  As is the case with all the other books in the series, I listened to this one on CD.  Again, I was enthralled with the fabulous narration/reading by the talented John Keating.  I know I could have read all these books, but once I started listening, I can’t imagine “reading” one of these any other way.  I probably should say that “anyone would love these novels” – and possibly that’s true…. but to be totally honest, I think a person must have at least some interest in medicine, to thoroughly enjoy this book.  I had no problem following the dual story lines… one set in the late 1930’s and the other in “modern day” –  for this book is the mid 1960’s.    I’m completely attached to all the quirky characters, and feel like I know them all!!  Can’t wait for the next installment!

Memoirs of a Geisha

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Okay people, I will fully admit that I may be the last person on the face of the earth to finally get around to reading this iconic novel.  It’s been in my “to-read” pile (which actually encompasses two huge bookshelves) for several years, and I was ready for something different from my norm.  I do love my WWII books and other historical fiction – and in a way this certainly does qualify under the Historical Fiction category.  However, it’s definitely out of the norm (for me) in the setting – which clearly was/is Japan.  I found this novel very interesting, fascinating, and hope that the author really did do impeccable research, as this is all I know and what I believe to be true about life as a Geisha.  In the rare case that you haven’t read this one, I do recommend it! While it’s not exactly riveting reading, it certainly did keep my interest, all the way through to the end. It piqued my curiosity enough for me to look up YouTube videos on Geishas, their dances, and instruments.   Read this if you’d like to be transported back into the 1930’s Kyoto Japan and learn about a lifestyle that still exists, albeit in MUCH smaller numbers. As is often the case, I now would love to see the movie!

August Empties, Four “Bravos” and Two “Boo’s”

I haven’t done an “empties” post for some time… I guess that’s because I was otherwise busy preparing for, living through, and recovering from my hip replacement surgery.  It’s been 8 weeks since the big operation and I’m feeling lots better these days.  I can even go shopping at more than one store in a day again – hubby is fearful since he’s well aware I’m in need of some serious retail therapy!  Having my hip replaced is truly giving me my life back.  ONWARD to the subject at hand!!

Here are some things I finished recently….

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I finally finished off my Victoria’s Secret body wash in “Amber Romance”,  a bottle of Victoria’s Secret body lotion in “Amber Romance” and a small container of Bath & Body Works “White Citrus” shower gel.  I totally love the Amber Romance scent!  I have several other items in the same scent that will show up on my empties at some point in the future :)  White citrus is nice also, but I think of it more of a summer scent.

I also used up a tub of strawberry-banana body butter by some obscure company that I can’t remember – and I never did take a photo of it.  I wish I had.  That stuff was incredible and honestly smelled good enough to eat!

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I recently sprayed the final spray in a mini-size of the cologne shown above, Elizabeth Arden’s “Untold”.  Strange thing (or maybe not so strange), Untold reminds me a bit of Amber Romance.  The website describes it as “sparkling pink pepper, fused with crisp Bergamont”. Okay.  To me it just smells sort of soft, musky, sweet, and good!

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No surprise, I used another box of my favorite home hair color, L’Oreal Excellence in 6RB, Light Medium Auburn. Love this stuff.  It’s easy to use and gives consistently nice results.  At about $8.99 a box, I’ll keep buying it as long as they keep making it!

On to some favorite products from the past months….

I discovered this MAC lipstick this summer and don’t hear that much about it on blogs or YouTube from the beauty “gurus”.  It’s “Fanfare”!

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I love it!  I think it’s a perfect blend of rose and peachy coral tones.  It’s MAC’s cremesheen finish, which is so smooth and easy to wear.  Here’s a pic of me, sporting “Fanfare”.

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Another favorite I’ve worn nearly every day that I wear make up is:

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Tarte’s “Lights, Camera, Lashes” mascara.  I could bloviate a LONG time about why I love this stuff so much.  It thickens, it lengthens, it does not go on clumpy, and it stays all day – even though it’s NOT waterproof.  It’s also easy to remove at the end of the day. This is the first and only high end mascara I have ever tried that I think is actually superior to the better drug store mascaras. I’ll definitely repurchase, once it’s gone.

Another item I have used just about every day is:

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Tarte’s Skinny Smoldereyes eye liner pencil in “Sunstone Bronze”.  I don’t own many high end liners (two, to be exact!) but I’m glad I splurged on this one.  This glides on so smoothly and will “set” and STAY shortly after applying it.  It doesn’t set too fast, though. You can still use the smudger tip end and smudge out the line if you’d like.  I love the color because it’s gorgeous and not as harsh as black.  Yes, it’s a winner in my book!

The last “like” is my set of 6 stretchy head bands – and this hairdo that I sort of came up with, using one of them:

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It’s been pretty warm and humid in our neck of the woods, so this summer it’s been a relief to get my hair up off my neck.  I did this “do” with just my stretchy headband and about 6 bobby pins.  I love the colorful stretchy headbands that I picked up at Dollar Tree for… yes, you guessed it, a buck.  Six in the package for a dollar, all different colors.  Gotta love it!!   Oh, my lipstick in this photo is Revlon’s Lip butter in “Tutti Frutti”. It’s not everyday I wear orange lipstick – but today was one of those days! :-)

Now for the “Boo’s”.  Boo number one is……

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Almay CC Cream.  I bought this stuff last summer on a buy one get one 50% off deal where I also purchased my much loved Get up and Grow mascara.  The mascara is a huge hit!!  The CC cream is NOT!  I gave it many opportunities to work for me, but it just didn’t.  It always felt slimy and greasy on my face.  If you forgot and moisturized before putting this cream on, it was almost like an oil slick. I do NOT have oily skin… yet this product sure made me feel like I did.  The other nasty thing about this item was that it began to separate!  I would squeeze some out onto my hand or fingers and part was the pigment and part would be a weird oily substance.  I tried shaking it up prior to use, and it still wasn’t right. I gave up and threw this little lovely into the rubbish bin!  Right where it belongs.  I won’t miss you, Almay CC Cream!!

For my last “Boo”…..

spring candle Bath and Body Works Candle in the scent of “Spring”.  Whoa!  I can’t believe I’m dissing a B & BW candle at all!  I love most of them and own quite a few different scents.  BUT. This candle is so harsh and so strong… it really fooled me. When I first smelled it in the store, I loved it. So I bought it.  But seriously, as this candle burns the smell gets stronger and stronger and literally begins to nauseate me. I can’t describe it, but it’s nasty.  Since these candles are NOT cheap (I get them on the 2 for $22 sales), I hesitate to just toss it out.  So, I’ve been burning it outside this summer.

That’s it for this time around.  I’m so excited we’re approaching Autumn here in the Northwest!  I am even looking forward to rainy days and making some pots of warming soups. It’s my favorite time of year!   Here’s our kitty, Jinx….

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Jinx says he’s looking forward to days spent laying in front of the fireplace or heat dish!  :-)  See you next time!!!

Chestnut Street

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I recently finished this book of short stories by my beloved Maeve Binchy.  Oh how I will miss her!! Our dear Ms Binchy left us back in July of 2012 and from what I gather, her husband came across a drawer full of stories, all about people who lived on the same street, Chestnut Street.  I believe this was still a work in progress when she passed, but since she is no longer here to complete the project, her husband published them “as is”.  While everyone in the book had ties to, or lived on Chestnut Street, the characters were VERY minimally interrelated.  It was more just a book of short stories, written in her absolutely delightful style.  I had no problem going from one chapter to the next… it was easy to immediately get caught up in whatever story was in front of me.  Some were good enough that she could have based whole books around them, in my humble opinion.  I was sad to see it end and sad to see my long running era of Maeve Binchy books come to a close.  When people ask me, “Do you ever re-read books?” I normally reply, “too many great books, not enough time”  — but in this case, I truly believe I’ll be re-visiting several of hers.

The Boys in the Boat

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I don’t often read non fiction, but I recently finished reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  Okay, I’ve read a LOT of books in my life and this one is up in the top ten!  I loved it.  Totally loved it.  It’s a true story about a group of young men in the 1930’s who attend the University of Washington and decide to row crew.  I knew nothing, literally nothing about rowing, crew teams, coxswains, or the history of rivalry between the crew teams of California and Washington.  Yet… something about this book grabbed me, and good.  It’s a history story, it’s a sports story, it’s a human interest story.  It’s an example of human persistence to the Nth degree. You can read the full synopsis over on Amazon (where it’s received oodles of 5 star reviews!),  but let’s suffice it to say, this is an INCREDIBLE book.  It’s truly a must-read…. in my humble opinion.  Thanks to my friend Susan B who loaned me this fabulous read.  It was a great way to spend some time while recovering from my recent operation.