Current Favorites | Winter 2017

Happy Wednesday, or the day after Valentine's Day, also known as the day to run out and stock up on all of the discounted candy. Just kidding, I'm trying to eat way less sugar as we count down to Easter as visions of jelly beans and Reese's eggs cloud my dreams. Anyway, I've been working on a list of things (mainly beauty) that I've been loving over the past few months.

Candle Glow Sheer Perfecting Powder | I came across this randomly on the Sephora website, and despite never hearing anyone talk about it, I decided I'd order it and try it out. It's a talc-free powder, which is awesome and it's supposed to set, perfect, and leave your skin with a diffused glow. At first I used it to set my under eye area and it did basically nothing. Then I tried it with a big powder brush to apply it all over my entire face and it has some kind of magical power that really does make my skin look a lot more smooth!

Grandiose Extreme Mascara | I finally got around to trying out this mascara even though I accidentally ordered the extreme version. When I first opened the tube I actually thought I was going to take it back because it looks kind of intense between the shape of the wand and the spiky bristles. After using it just once I quickly changed my mind because it's incredible. It gives such a great lift, and the shape of the wand (swan neck) allows you to really coat your lashes without getting mascara onto your waterline or into your eye accidentally. My lashes tend to stick together in the corners and this mascara really helps untangle them. My only complaint is that it's pretty difficult to remove.

Firming Body Scrub | I was in the process of reordering the Acnedote scrub that I love when this one caught my eye. I decided to try this out instead since it doesn't contain any acne medication and I really like it! I've used sugar scrubs in the past and find them a bit too abrasive most of the time, so I really like that this is lightly exfoliating, plus it gets a nice lather.

Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels | I had these for three or four months before I was finally brave enough to try them out and I don't know why I waited so long because they feel incredible on the skin. I'm not sure they actually make a difference in the appearance of my under eye area, but they feel great and definitely add some moisture.

Bobbi Brown Blush | My HG blush, chiffon by Smashbox, got discontinued (apparently all of their single blushes did), so I was on the hunt for a good quality blush to take its place and decided on nectar, a pink-coral. I love the color, the staying power, the size/quality of the compact. If I was a hoarder of blushes I'd love another one or two from BB.

Excursion Tights | I got these for Christmas and I've been stalking the Athleta website ever since to make sure they aren't going to go on sale because I definitely want another pair. They're the perfect running errands tights and I love that they have pockets on the sides and a little bit of structure to them with the detailing around the knees. They're super comfortable, durable, and my most worn pants!

Do you have any new recent favorite products?

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Carly Reads Here | February 2017

Despite all my reading last month, this post is a little light because I did an end of the month review post in January and a standalone book review last week. I've been in a weird phase where just about everything feels very average and I can't figure out what I'm in the mood to read.

The Hating Game | While I'm definitely in the minority of not loving this book, I could not put it down! It's about two co-workers who act like they hate each other, but they obviously really like each other and end up going against each other for the same promotion. Parts were really funny and smart while other parts left me bored. The author constantly described Lucy and Joshua in terms of their appearance and it was incredibly too much for me. There was one part where he literally says all he's thought about since the day they met is how tiny she is... and another part where he admits that he keeps a daily tally of when she wears a skirt or a dress. I think it was supposed to be endearing, but it read as off-putting to me. Nonetheless, this was a book that kept me glancing between the time on my iPad and how much left I had to read,  trying to decide if I could finish it all in one night. Sometimes that's just the kind of book you need to read. 3ish stars.

The Underground Railroad | I've never read anything by Colson Whitehead, but this was the National Book Award winner from 2016, and I meant to read it last year but never got around to it. The story is based on Cora, a slave who escapes using the underground railroad, though in this book it's an actual railroad underground. Reading slave narratives are never pleasant or easy to read, but the story was beautifully written and engaging. I wasn't crazy about the flow or transition between chapters, though things came together throughout the chapters and I'm guessing that's Whitehead's writing style, which makes me curious to read something else by him. Worth the read, and would recommend at 4 stars.

Truly Madly Deeply | I couldn't find anything I was in the mood to read and saw this was available on the library homepage so I figured I would give it a try even though I'm not a LM superfan, and had heard this wasn't a favorite among most people who typically love her books.

Right away it reminded me of the same formula of Big Little Lies, where you know something bad happened, but you're not quite sure what it was, and the characters are all meant to be relatable yet you can't relate to any of them. At first I was anxious to find out what happened, but the more I read it felt like the book was getting longer and longer and more and more dull. Once you finally find out what happened on the day of the barbecue, I didn't even care. and I thought it was all kind of silly and at least 100 pages too long. This probably should have been a DNF for me, but I finished it and gave it 2.5 stars.

Young Wives Club | Today is pub day for Julie Pennell, and thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy to me in exchange for an honest review. The story is about four friends from high school who end up back together in their hometown, so it kind of gave me PLL season 6 vibes combined with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, plus Hart of Dixie because it's in the south... while it's considered women's lit, it definitely read more as YA to me. I found a few of the storylines to be far-fetched and I wish it would have focused more on their friendship and less on their relationships. It was enjoyable and an easy read that might be for you if you're in the mood for something chick lit/YA. 2.5 stars.

If I can stay on top of my library holds this should be a really good reading month for me because (as it goes) all of my library books became available at once and I have some really promising new releases currently on my hold list. What have you read lately? Stop by the Show Us Your Books linkup for more book reviews and recommendations.
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Friday Things | feb17

one | We've needed a new desk chair for a long time, but I've never really put much effort into looking for one. I accidentally came across this one from Target, part of their Dwell Magazine collaboration and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It doesn't appear to be in stores anywhere near us, so I'm a little skeptical about the legs, especially because we favor gold accents in our house, but it seems to have good reviews so far. I'm hoping there will be a furniture sale sometime soon before it sells out.

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Pass or Purchase Again? [vol 8]


I took a bit of a hiatus with these posts (the last one was in June), but I miss chatting about beauty products and I love reading empties posts! A few of these are repeats, but I'm excited to talk about a few products I haven't mentioned before. I've used affilate links through Shopstyle in this post, meaning I get a few cents if you browse or purchase a product through my link.

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Small Great Things: a reflection

I'm not usually a single-post book review kind of person, but when I tried to add this into one of my regular book review recaps, it was way too long because I had too much to say. I'll start by saying I've never read anything by Jodi Picoult. Last year I started one of her books but couldn't get into it, so I figured she just wasn't for me. I'd also heard her books always have a common theme of being super sad, so that was also a deterrent.
Last year I saw quite a few people review Small Great Things and the synopsis sounded right up my alley.

If you're lost and have no idea what the book is about, here's part of the synopsis:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

I started this on a Friday night and made it a little over 100 pages and didn't think I was going to be able to finish it. It was exhausting to read and I wasn't sure I wanted to read something so heavy on every single page. We all lived through 2016, we know hate groups are a real thing. A person seen as too racist to be a federal judge is our President's choice for attorney general.

I decided to skip to the end and read the author's note and it completely changed my mind about the book. It didn't make it any easier to read, but it reminded me why it was important. The first thing that caught my attention was that Ruth's story was actually inspired by a real case at the hospital where I was born, but more importantly Picoult acknowledges her white privilege and explains why she wanted to write this book, knowing the risk she was taking.

The story moved quickly and the writing was captivating as you're introduced to the different characters (the POV switches in each chapter between Ruth, Kennedy, & Turk). I could quickly see why so many people are big Picoult fans. In the first part of the book I wasn't crazy about the storylines with Ruth's sister or Kennedy's mom. I know they were purposeful to Picoult in showing further dimensions of racial inequalities, assumptions, and passive racism, but with so much already going on, I didn't think it was necessary and it felt forced.

The second part of the story is when the trial begins and I was so relieved to hear Kennedy finally address all of the things that had been overlooked with Ruth being unfairly blamed for the baby's death. I was infuriated with Ruth's co-worker and supervisor, and until that point it saddened me that no one was questioning their competence. The parts with the trial read extremely quickly and then there were two things that happened towards the ending that left me frustrated with the novel (i'll leave out to avoid spoilers, but if you've read this, I'd love to know your thoughts if you know what I'm referring to).

While this wasn't even a five-star book for me, I'd still recommend it. In the author's note Picoult says that one of the reasons she wrote the book because the things that make us uncomfortable are often the things that teach us, and I couldn't agree more. For me, as a white person, it was also a great reminder that staying silent about things is a privilege, and it's so important to stand up for what is right. I know I fall short sometimes, but I think that's part of the reason it was so important for me to share my feelings about this book.
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Favorite Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine's Day is right around the corner... also known as the best candy holiday after Easter, which has always made it one of my favorites. As it goes, I was searching for something and got sucked into the black hole that is Etsy and kept coming across Valentine's Day cards that made me laugh (or were just cute) so I thought I'd share the love. 

What's your favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day?

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TRAVEL: Miami Beach, FL

Miami was a dream. This is probably going to be the most boring trip recap ever because every single day consisted of laying at the beach or pool followed by dinner and/or drinks. South Beach is super walkable, so we did get in quite a bit of exercise as well to balance everything out. I'm not sure how or why I got it in my head that I really wanted to go to Miami. My husband was pretty insistent that I wouldn't really like it (the nightlife vibe is really not my thing), but in my mind I just saw gorgeous beaches, good food, and amazing architecture. Because he's a gem he surprised me with a trip knowing he was going to have some extra time off work with the inauguration. Planning to go in January was a bit of a risk in terms of really enjoying the beach, (I think January is typically the coldest month) but we ended up having the most amazing weather- sunshine with temperatures in the high-70s to low-80s!

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