Nemours Estate & Gardens

After we stumbled upon the Anderson House a few months ago I did a little research on other mansions, gardens, and estates. When I came across Nemours Mansion & Gardens in Delaware I knew it was the perfect place for a mini day trip since we can usually get to Wilmington in just about two hours.

I was completely unfamiliar with the estate and Alfred I. duPont, so we loved that there was a brief video on his history after you buy your tickets and before you head to the shuttle that will take you to the house. The admission is $17 for adults, which seemed a little bit steep coming from the land of DC (where most museums & things are free), but the cost was completely justified. The visitors center is top notch and they have shuttles running every few minutes around the estate-- combined with the overall upkeep of the estate.


Salt to the Sea

A few months ago I read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys after hearing about it from a monthly book linkup. I absolutely loved the book and heard additional bloggers recommend Sepetys other books. When I saw Salt to the Sea was the book club option for August, I knew I wanted to make it a priority to read.
genre: YA historical fiction focusing on four teenagers
I don't typically gravitate towards historical fiction during the WWII era, so I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book, and really enjoyed it being in the young adult genre. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the four main characters. Each chapter is only a few pages so you're able to get a quick snapshot of each POV, which keeps the story moving quickly with a lot of mystery in each storyline.

The story focuses on Emila, Joana, Florian, and Alfred and they each carry a different secret as their paths all cross at different points in the story. In addition to their points of view, there are a few minor characters who are so well developed that you feel almost as connected to them. While you know the ending of the ship (based on history), there is a lot of suspense as you get further into the story wondering if the characters you've grown to love are going to survive.

I'd recommend this to everyone-- it's a relatively easy read that's both inspiring and heartbreaking. Read it for a wonderfully crafted story, but also to learn a little bit more about such a tragic historical event that is rarely talked about.

Are you a fan of Ruta Sepetys? This book was definitely completely different from Out of the Easy, but I really enjoyed both and definitely look forward to reading Between Shades of Gray.

All About Goodreads

tag post; blogger tags; book bloggers;
If Goodreads counts as a social media platform, it's definitely my favorite. If not for the ease of keeping track of what you've read and what you'd like to read, also to see what other people are reading and loving (or not loving). Usually I take some warming up to new app or website interface, but I actually really like the new look of Goodreads and think it makes it even easier to interact.

1. what was the last book you marked as read? Salt to the Sea (review coming Friday!)

2. what are you currently reading? I'm finishing up Daring Greatly and hopefully tackling a few library books.

3. what was the last book you marked as 'to read'? The Look of Love - this was on the homepage of the library website and it was available, (three cheers for no hold list!) the author sounded familiar, and the cover was fun.

4. what book do you plan to read next? Matilda - I have the ebook from the library and am hopefully going to get to it just in time to add it to my SCSBC list.

5. do you use the star rating system? Yes-- and forever wishing for a half star option!

6. are you doing a 2016 reading challenge? Yes, I recently changed my goal from 50 to 52 books and am pretty confident I'll hit my goal well before the end of the year.

7. do you have a wish list? No. I use my TBR list as a wish list in terms of what I want to read-- for purchasing books, I usually don't purchas

8. what book do you plan to buy next? I usually don't buy a book unless it's something I've already read and loved, but I know I'll be purchasing the new SkinnyTaste cookbook coming out in a few weeks.

9. do you have any favorite quotes? share a few.

Carly’s quotes

"But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."— Francis Chan

10. who are your favorite authors? This is a feature I don't think to update very often, but I do have Sarah Dessen, Gretchen Rubin, Megan McCafferty, and Joey Hodges listed to name a few.

11. have you joined any groups? This is another feature I'm not great about keeping up with, but I'm part of a couple of book club groups that ebb and flow in activity & I just joined a group for a September read-along for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

12. how many shelves do you have? 8-- along with the regular (read, currently reading, and to be read) I have one for DNFs (did not finish), childhood favorites, audiobooks, and netgalley.

Do you use Goodreads to keep up with your TBR list or to write reviews of books?

Best of Becca (a review)

This post has been a long time coming-- I took these pictures months ago when I got this kit for my birthday but I never got around to uploading the photos. This was my first experience trying out Becca products and the main pull was definitely the backlight priming filter. The kit was $32.50 and I had a $10 coupon to put towards it as well, so it was definitely a better deal for what I needed compared to buying a full-size of the primer for $38-- plus I got to try a few other products at the same time. While I thought it was an Ulta exclusive, and doesn't appear to be available there anymore, I did find it on the Lord & Taylor website. Everything will be linked to the full size product through affiliate links.

Backlight Priming Filter: This is supposed to blur any imperfections while giving a natural glow. While my skin is currently combo to oily, it tends to be more on the dry side, especially in the winter so I was really looking for something that was going to give my skin a little extra glow, and I had heard amazing things about this primer.

Shimmering Skin Perfector (opal): If you use this product you understand why there is so much hype around this line of highlighters. It's a golden opal color and is super creamy and easy to apply. I love a highlighter that gives you a glow without looking glittery and I like that it blends into my foundation, it doesn't just sit on top like some products tend to do.
becca highlight, opal, moonshine, blush
L to R: flower child blush; moonshine highlight; opal powder highlight
Shimmering Skin Perfector Spotlight (moonshine): Because this is a travel size of the product it comes with an applicator which makes it really easy to just dot on the face and blend in. Moonshine is a pale gold, but similar to opal I'd say both products are more of a cool toned gold, not a bright gold. I find this one to be a little less intense of a highlight (compared to the above). It reminds me a bit of Benefit's high beam, but I find moonshine to be a lot more of a natural color.

Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush: I was really excited to try out this blush-- I typically switch between my two favorites (madly and chiffon), so it was fun to have a new color to try out. I found the formulation to be similar to the highlighter-- very creamy and easy to apply. I quickly learned you get a lot of color payoff with each swipe of the brush.

It's a neutral peachy pink with gold shimmer to it, I think it would flatter a lot of different skin tones. The only downside (for me) is that it's really similar to chiffon-- which might end up being a good thing because upon writing this post I wasn't able to find chiffon online anywhere. I saw it at Nordstrom Rack a few months ago so I guess that should have been a sign, but that always seems to happen to me with Smashbox products!
Overall, I'm really happy I scooped this kit up-- I think it was a great value for what I was looking for. While I was most excited to try the primer, the two highlights were my favorite products. Are you a fan of any Becca products?

Life Lately | august '16

carly blogs here; cbh; life lately
I originally had a different post scheduled for today, but I need to upload the photos from my actual camera, so I keep putting it off. I wasn't sure if this was going to be a Friday favorites or Friday five type post, so I guess it's more of a random mashup of things, otherwise known as life lately & linking up with Amanda & Katie.


The One About Netflix

netflix, gossip girl, blair, blogger tags,
I thought I'd do a little tag TuesdayWednesday today because who doesn't love Netflix? I saw this post on Megan's blog and thought it was a fun way to talk about some of my Netflix favorites.

What are your favorite series to watch on Netflix?
I'll start with the Netflix originals: Narcos, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black.... we recently watched Stranger Things and watched the entire show in one night- it wasn't anything I expected to like, but both my husband and I loved it-- give it a try if you haven't watched it yet!

Other favorites include Friends, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.


7 Upcoming Book Releases for Fall

Today I'm sharing a few book releases I'm looking forward to in the next couple of months! Kasi does monthly videos on exciting releases over on her booktube channel and I always love finding out about any up and coming books. It's a great time to queue up your Netgalley or Goodreads or maybe even pre-order one or two. I always feel like I'm cheating a bit on summer by talking about fall in mid-August, but fall unofficially starts soon and this year I'm kind of looking forward to it after the record-breaking heat this summer.

Today Will Be Different | Semple also wrote Where'd You Go Bernadette? which was just three-stars for me, but I love the premise of this story. Goodreads describes it as a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living. release date: october 4

Commonwealth | I'm not sure why I haven't read anything by Ann Patchett yet, but this book had amazing pre-release reviews. Goodreads says, told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. release date: september 13

Leave Me | Gayle Forman is another author I've never read, she's well known for her young adult books. Leave Me is her debut adult novel about a woman who walks out on her current life and sees herself from a different perspective. release date: september 6

The Boy is Back | I'm not sure if I'm all the way caught up with this Meg Cabot series, but these books remind me of the Shopaholic books in the sense that they're light, easy reads-- which is sometimes just the thing you need in a world full of heaviness. release date: october 8

The Magnolia Story | Admittedly I'm usually not big into celebrity books, but who doesn't love Chip and Joanna? I've gone back to swearing off audiobooks again, but I'm definitely intrugied to get this one in audio format knowing they recorded it themselves. This would be the perfect gift for any Fixer Upper fan. release date: october 18

Skinnytaste Fast & Slow | This cookbook is what my dreams are made of! Gina shares 140 new recipes that are quick and easy to whip up or throw in the crockpot. release date: october 11

Grace Not Perfection | Emily Ley is known for creating the Simplified Planner- which I've never used- but I've always been an admirer of her for her outlook. I'm really intrigued to see what this book will be like, it's described as being designed with Ley's signature aesthetic to give women tangible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. release date: october 11

What I'm Loving on Etsy

I know I'm not alone when I say the Etsy addiction is real. It's kind of like Pinterest in the sense that you can search for just about anything and find an amazingly creative and talented person who has made something you like. I've done a couple of etsy posts in the past and thought I would do an updated post on things I'm currently crushing on.
It's no secret I love books- I don't know why I don't already have a personalized bookplate stamp, but I love this one from East Grove Stamp.

On the subjects of books I've wanted one of the Frostbeard Booklovers' Candles forever. There are endless fun options but Gatsby's Mansion sounds like it smells amazing.

Hearth and Hammer is another shop with literary based candles. They have really great mini kits you can get but I have my eye on Pemberley Park.

I don't exactly need another t-shirt, but I wouldn't mind swapping out a few old scratchy ones for a new one or two- especially the ones from Simple Truths Designs that are super soft.

I don't know how I don't already have a Friends mug- doesn't any Friends lover need one in their collection of mugs? Frankly Noted has endless mug options-- I like the classic with just their names, but this one from the one where everyone finds out is one of my favorite episodes. So. funny.

I'm mildly obsessed with You've Got Mail (by mildly I mean I watch it at least once a week), so I was basically smitten when I came across Three Letter Birds. I want every single one of the greeting cards. If you're not as obsessed with You've Got Mail as I am, not to worry, she has so many other great prints and cards.

If you shop on Etsy you know it can get expensive with shipping costs depending on what you're purchasing so I like to follow the shops on social media to make sure I'm up to date on any special promos or sale. What are your favorite things to buy on Etsy?


Carly Reads Here | august

I was one book short of my mini-goal of getting to 40 books total for the year by the end of July. I'm still waiting for my next great book that I can't put down... because I keep feeling pretty iffy about most of the books I read. There were a couple over the past two months that I did really enjoy and would recommend. Instead of listing these in the order that I read them I've ranked them from favorite to least favorite. Linking up with Steph for Show Us Your Books!

siracusa | I came across this book on netgalley and thought it sounded interesting. It wasn't until after I was approved that I realized that Delia Ephron co-wrote You've Got Mail, which is my favorite movie of all time. First, I have to point out that the formatting of this book was a mess and if I wasn't planning to go see Delia Ephron at a Politics & Prose event I probably wouldn't have even attempted to read it, but I gave it a try and was actually really pulled in by the first few pages.

The story is about two couples (one has a daughter) and their vacation to Italy. Each chapter is told from a different point of view over the course of their vacation. The characters aren't exactly likable, but they're interesting and reading each chapter makes you feel like they're each telling you a story directly, just as a friend would. *this book was provided to me c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

vanishing girls | This book surprised me in a good way-- when I first started reading it I was nervous because I saw it compared to We Were Liars and that book was not my cup of tea. But it felt like more of a Dessen novel in the sense of the character development and little side love story. I didn't really catch on to the thriller element of the book- though the last half definitely had a bit of suspense to it. So if you're looking for an interesting YA novel with a twist, I'd check this book out.

I'm torn because I liked the writing enough to want to read more of her novels, but none of the synopsis pull me in/ I don't really care for fantasy.

vinegar girl | This was a case of like not love, but I would recommend it for something light and enjoyable. The story is a loose retelling of The Taming of the Schrew, which I hadn't read since high-school, so it's not a Shakespeare story fresh in my mind, though I did keep thinking of 10 Things I Hate About You. I found the characters fun and likable and really enjoyed Tyler's writing style. I think I would have felt a little more iffy about it had I not known it was based on another book. *this book was provided to me c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

13 ways of looking at a fat girl | I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book, but I knew it was something I wanted to read after hearing so much about it. I was pretty immediately captured by the writing and felt like I could perfectly picture everything being described. While it is a novel, the chapters are disconnected and (to me) it read almost more as short stories and follows Lizzie's journey to weight loss-- and really just her attempt at finding herself. I found the beginning chapters really engaging and then the book lost steam for me. I do wonder if it was intentional, as the MC so obviously lost herself as she lost the weight.

modern lovers | I didn't care for The Vacationers so my interest in this book was solely from seeing it everywhere this summer, and I'm sad to report I didn't care for this book either. I was so bored. It kind of reminded me of Siracusa in the sense that it's a book about two couples and their children, but I didn't buy into any of the friendships or relationships, and the character development just didn't work for me. It's hard to connect with a book or stay interested in it when you can't buy into the story.

surprise me | This book was the perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover, though I was really intrigued by the synopsis as well and it still was a huge dud. This was the author's first novel, she's also a screenwriter, and you could definitely tell. The first part was written like it should have been a TV show, or at least that's how I kept reading it. There was too much cheesy dialogue that didn't fit with the book- and there was hardly any character development so I was beyond bored because I didn't care about the characters at all. I just kept thinking what is even happening? I did give it a star for the ending-- because the writing style felt completely different and it actually worked. *this book was provided to me c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Writing this post I realized that in three of the six books I read there was a main character named Lizzie- kind of weird, right? I'd definitely recommend Siracusa and Vanishing Girls. What have you read and loved recently?

What's New With You? |AUGUST|

Despite an ever growing things to see and do in DC list, our summer seemed to slow down a little bit once we got back from vacation. Blame it on the post-vacation blues or the heat (or both), but the second half of July felt like a bit of a lull. If you followed along on instagram you saw a lot of vacation photos, but we had the most wonderful vacation in Michigan over the 4th of July. If you ever get the chance to go during the summer-- do it! Lake Michigan beaches are so beautiful!
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