What’s on the Bookshelf, pt. 3

I’d been watching Hiking with Kevin and I particularly liked his interview with Tom Papa. He talked about his book, You’re Doing Great, and thought it’d be good for some smiles. It was a light read that helped me get through a funk I was in in July. I keep telling myself to trust the journey but I’m not totally convinced. But Papa’s book had some hilarious ideas, like the good old days were not, in fact, good. For example, hospitals were bad. All they knew how to do was cut your leg off. And he shared that Italians love life, but only because staying alive means you can eat more food. My only gripe is that he also said don’t do anything where you have to sign a waiver, but then the stories explaining why were funny. So every once in awhile go ahead and sign the waiver, just understand it might not be fun in the moment!

Paul asks, do you believe in the human heart? …not simply the organ…I’m speaking in the poetic sense. The human heart. Do you think there is such a thing?This was the crux of Klara and the sun. I’m not a fan of robot stories, and I especially didn’t like Klaras’ naivety that the sun could help her, maybe just because that’s what it’s like to hope. It bothered me the entire time, but I wanted to find out if it worked or not for her. As they said on Ted Lasso, it’s the hope that kills you! The story starts with Klara, an artificial intelligence waiting at the store to be picked and Josie wants her mom to buy her. Mom wants to get a newer model that was just released, but it’s obvious that Josie has bonded with Klara. Josie has been sick, so Klara wants to do anything she can to help Josie get better. Her innocence is endearing, I was even surprised all the humans were eager to help her. Even as it ends on a slightly depressing note, this novel will tug on your heartstrings.

Kristen Arnett’s debut novel, Mostly Dead Things was a recommendation from social media that I figured may be a gamble. At first I wasn’t really enthralled with Jessa, but I enjoyed the authors prose. Then I realized Jessa was an over thinker and I loved her perspective. Her father committed suicide in his taxidermy shop where he taught her the trade, and now the family is working through their grief. Jessa’s mom is posing the animals in the shop provacatively until an art curator sees it an offers her a showcase at her gallery. Mom was my favorite character and I was so happy she got a little redemption in the end. I’m still debating on Brynn, even though the book has been returned to the library. I get it, but also, wow. She really did that. Funny, dark and full of metaphor, this story and it’s characters will definitely captivate you with their eccentric life in Florida.

Black Sunday takes us to Lagos to explore the world of 4 siblings growing up after their father loses all the family’s money and the mom has to leave the country to get a job. I feel like saying anything else gives away the rest of it! It follows the siblings into adulthood, and I loved how the author followed up a storyline from one sibling in another’s chapter with their take on the experience the sibling had. It’s so strange that cultures can be so foreign yet so similar to each other. I felt bad for Abiyike in the end but mostly because I found her character to be the most hipocrytical. Each sibling had an incredible amount of pain that charged the novel with sadness, but they were strong, so I hoped they’d find success and happiness. I hope we get more works from Rotimi Abraham in the near future.

Well, This is Exhausting is the debut book from comedian/writer Sophia Benoit. I saw this on the local news of all places and that it was book of the month by Vogue, so I figured it’d be a good read. Like having a conversation, these essays are funny and real and definitely hit a nerve. I could follow along easily enough, although I did find it slightly irritating that the straight white cis male gaze was always to blame. Yes, the patriarchy is The.Actual.Worst. However, identity is a personal matter and it seemed this author experienced an identity crisis rooted in familial issue, rather than media being dominated by the cis male gaze. She repeatedly mentioned her own father’s struggles throughout his life and then faced some of those problems herself.

I 100% acknowledge media has powerful influence, but stories, characters and casts, even advertisement have vastly changed over 50 years. To her credit, I agreed that even female driven operations, like magazines, frequently offered crummy advice columns. The second half of this book really shined when she had more accountability and self awareness, especially after the chapter, I’m pretty sure my insatiable capacity for desire stems from the scholastic book fair. It was just a matter of sharing experiences and what she learned. No blaming anyone else or a broken system, just her experiences and how she dealt with it. But for the record, I thought I would be using a weekender bag a lot more too!

Bonus Review!

Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour was an album I played over and over over the last year. I was thrilled to hear she was releasing a new album, albeit that the subject matter would be in regards to her divorce. Star-crossed started strong and powered along, filled with reflection on all the little moments. Musgraves herself said it was a journey of heartbreak and healing. As a collection of pain, it was great. The instrumental elements cut deeply, however, there the lyrics didn’t quite hit the same caliber. I liked the nostalgia and vagueness, but I was hoping for at least one song that would have some bite and didn’t really find it. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re shopping for new tunes.
Best song: What Doesn’t Kill Me
Song to skip: Cherry Blossoms

In America: A Lexicon of Fashion

We’re slowly getting back to regular programming in lieu of covid ruining all our lives, and that included a met gala this year! Postponed until this past Monday, September 13 in New York, we got a little dose of glitz back thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was surprised with the creativity, and the lack of stars and stripes. I guess if it seemed expected, most guests would shy away from it, but still. The theme has been taken pretty literally over the years, so it had me raising an eyebrow at this new interpretation. The New York Post called it hypocritical and a high end dud, with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez attending in a gown with tax the rich inscribed onto the back. But she paid $35000 for a ticket?? Doesn’t that make her one of said rich? I also thought Cara Delevingne’s bulletproof vest saying peg the patriarchy was kind of tired. I’ve included favorites from the red carpet looks in the slideshow below, I thought A$AP Rocky’s quilted overcoat was whimsical. It reminded me of the quilts folded over the back of the couch growing up and blankets my grandma crocheted. Billie Eilish channeled Marilyn Monroe, a Hollywood icon, and looked very elegant. I also smiled when I saw Ciara’s jersey inspired gown, nodding not only to America’s favorite sport, but to her husband as well. Obviously, not every look was a winner, so there’s also a few that fell flat in my humble opinion. Pick your favorites and share if you agree in comments.

Looks that were less than impressive are included below. Better luck next time, I suppose!

images courtesy of Daily News and Vogue

Easy Rosewater DIY

Summer is in full swing and here in Arizona, we’ve already gotten a big heat wave. I even have a little farmer’s tan going just taking the dogs for a 10 minute walk! After looking for some ways to get relief, I was excited to try my hand at making a cooling Rose water. It has been used for centuries in the Middle East as a beauty tool and has a multitude of benefits for hair and skin. It has antibacterial properties and many uses. The process is pretty simple, too!

Just make sure to pair it with moisturizer. Water attracts water, so even though it’s refreshing, it can start to pull water from the surface of your skin.

>A few spritzes can be used to prep skin for makeup, and even to freshen makeup after a long day.

>It can also help reduce redness or razor burns. Consider mixing witch hazel with your final product and use it as a toner.

>Mix 2 tbsp rose water with 1 cup water and run it through your hair before shampooing for silky strong strands.

>Or add it to a bath for a touch of luxury. Maybe even save some rose petals to sprinkle in with the bubbles!

>Lastly, make a bottle with pure aloe vera to use after a day of soaking up the sun.

1c Fresh roses, red or pink, color will affect the final product.
1c Filtered or distilled water
1/4c Witch hazel
Sandalwood essential oil

1. Separate petals from stems. About 2 flowers will yield 1 cup. Remove the seeds from the center and put in a saucepan. Add the water, only covering the petals.
Too much water and your product will be very diluted. Add witch hazel as well.

2. Bring to a soft boil, then cover the saucepan with a lid, turn heat to low and slowly let it simmer, about 30 minutes. The petals will lose all their color.

3. Turn off heat, keeping the cover on, and let the water come to room temperature. Then you can strain out the petal remains.

4. If you like, add letter stickers to a clean bottle. Then pour the water into the bottle. Add a few drops of sandalwood essential oil, to get a soothed and glowing complexion. Store for up to a week in the cabinet or a month in the refrigerator. I keep mine in the fridge!

5. Your homemade rose water is ready to use! I do not recommend eating this product, and avoid applying near your eyes due to the essential oil. Enjoy!

What’s On The Bookshelf Pt. 2

Hello there, I hope you have been having a lovely spring. It’s it the triple digits just this week. I have been making yummy smoothies in the mornings and taking the dogs on long evening walks. I think mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberry and ginger with OJ and coconut milk has been the recipe winner if you were wondering. I also recently dined in a restaurant for the first time in ages, and a future life goal is to dine al fresco more often. Finally, I plan to get vaccinated this week!

I’ve got some more titles for you to add to your reading list! Did you enjoy any from my post back in January? I was pretty pleased with each of these new novels. As the days warm up and its safe to take a stroll around the park, why not grab a lemonade and take a book with you and enjoy a sunny, breezy afternoon. I think my fellow readers would appreciate any of these tales and I hope my reviews can peak your interest. Of course, feel free to leave your own thoughts on these picks or another good option in comments.

Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre

I love a good spy novel and that this one was based on a true story had me giddy with every turning page. It almost made becoming a communist sound fun, that’s how inspiring agent Sonya was. This one was about Ursula Kuczynski Burton, who actually worked with Richard Sorge in her early spy days. He was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Travel around the world, from Shanghai to Switzerland, and dive into the spy network of World War 2. Make radio transmitters and cakes with Ursula while dodging MI6 and getting the kids ready for school. This is a thrilling tale and history lesson all in one that won’t disappoint. Macintyre penned a masterpiece here.

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

Hillbilly elegy an interesting perspective that hit close to home since I grew up in the Rust belt.
While some experiences were familiar, others were foreign. An insight to Americas working class, voicing concern at the community level over blaming the government seemed like a reasonable argument. I didn’t think it was a culture in crisis, however, it seemed more like a shift in attitude was necessary. But upward mobility requires delicacy, as it isn’t as simple as it seems, often coming at a steep cost, financial and emotional. I appreciated a young writer’s perspective, in sharing life experience, particularly the impact of his adolescence, then in obtaining a career. Final thought, grandparents rule.

The History of Love by Nicole Kraus

The History of Love was a short tale about Leo, who survived a Nazi invasion of his childhood town in Poland. After surviving in the woods for 2 years, he went to New York City to work with his cousin. He wrote a novel that he thought never got published, but 1000 copies were printed, inspiring a young couple. They named their daughter after the main character, Alma. She wants to find her mother a new boyfriend after her father passes, and makes a discovery after her mom is hired to translate the history of love. Leo and Alma slowly work towards meeting to fulfill their goals. I enjoyed each characters point of view, especially Alma’s little brother. It was a cute story, though a little heartbreaking at the end. And yet. Left me hopeful.

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

Hurricane season was a tough novel to work through. Everyone wants to know who murdered the witch. Secrets, poverty and hopelessness are only a few adversities the characters face, but handle it with resilience. Broken into eight parts, I was actually surprised this took me awhile to work through. It was worth the read, but this wasn’t a book you could read a chapter here or there. An entire page might be one sentence and its packed with information you will want to know.
Lastly, I’m not one to scoff at strong language, but combined with the rough topics it emphasizes, it got downright brutal. I had to put the book down a number of times through Norma’s story. After exploring the violence in this community it was almost numbing to make it to the last few pages where the only escape is death.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Artist way is a book of daily affirmations broken into monthly sections for one inspirational message everyday. Some really hit home for me while others fell flat. November held the most moving words personally! This wasn’t a book to curl up with and dive into, either. I tried to read it by month, and my head was spinning by the time I got to March. There are enough pearls of wisdom that make it worth perusing, just make sure you take your time.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

I was very excited for this new novel from Elena Ferrante because I was completely captivated with the Neopolitan Novels. The Lying Life of Adults had a much slower pace to it, but still carried plenty of intrigue. It took awhile to read, only because I found it hard to concentrate through almost every chapter. The relatability would remind me or trigger memories from when I was 12 and I’d get distracted from my reading. Turns out teenage angst is universal. Haha. But I did enjoy Giovanna’s coming of age story, the domestic background of drama and the way it was shaping her opinions. I felt her frustration, isolation, disgust and hope. I especially got a kick from the twist ending that offered her total control and the promise she made to herself as she left home. Lies are an art form in this story but what the lies were tended to be less important as to how the lies were told. Each character had their own reasons and purposes, but I felt like it impacted Giovanna greatly as she grew up and had to decide for herself whether or not to follow a pattern of behavior she saw in her parents and her aunt, even her friends.
I was also relieved that the bracelet’s symbolism was explained more plainly than the dolls from My Brilliant Friend. It was passed from character to character, gifted, taken or traded until it did finally wind up again with whom I believe was the rightful owner. If the origin story is correct that is, and it might not be, since there are lots of lies attached to it. Ferrante rips apart idyllic life and still finds a way to inspire hope, and I love her for that.

The accuracy

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Someone needs to rob a bank and then takes hostages across the street at an apartment viewing. Then the police have to call Stockholm because they aren’t used to such crimes being committed. A rational person doesn’t rob a bank. But if they needed to you might be able to understand. They certainly shouldn’t take hostages, but you can understand from the events how it came about. Or maybe you won’t understand. Life is like that. This is an odd hostage situation anyway. Also you should know I’m not doing a great job writing my review using the authors prose, but it’s been fun. My favorite line in this novel was, ‘you don’t fall in love with gender, you fall in love with an idiot’. There were lots of idioms like that throughout the story, but I made sure to write that one down.
It was 340 pages and took me about 2 weeks to read. My goal was to read 20-ish pages a day and though I wasn’t totally invested at first, but the chapters peel back layers like an onion. Before I knew it I was 100 pages in and couldn’t wait to find out what happened. This is a great title choice to add to your reading list!

Top Red Carpet Looks From The Oscars 2021

The 93rd Academy Awards finally arrived April 25 in Los Angeles. It’s exciting to have an event back on the calendar, after some delays, especially since I have enjoyed many movies throughout the pandemic. Did you see any nominees this year? Did you have a favorite? I really enjoyed Promising Young Woman and Minari. Did your favorite win an award? Nomadland is on my list of movies to watch since it was this years winner!

Besides the movies, we know the fashion is a showstopping spectacle of the event. After a year of fashion unfortunately being restyled for comfort, if not left on the back burner, our beloved celebrities were ready to dress up and I am here for it. Sadly, the red carpet was so well done, I didn’t find much attire to critique. However, I hope you enjoy a fresh red carpet full of beautiful gowns and sharp suits to admire or inspire you to dress well.

Left, Viola Davis in Alexander McQueen. Right, Reese Witherspoon in Christian Dior. Both gowns had a gorgeously intricate bodice. Do you prefer the princess waist of Viola’s gown or the belted empire waist Reese donned?

Left, Chloe Zhao, winner of Best Director for Nomadland, and guest. Right, Leslie Odom Jr.

Left Daniel Kaluuya, winner of Best supporting actor in Judas and the Black Messiah, in an all black ensemble. Right Zendaya in cutout Valentino couture.

Left, Regina King in custom Louis Vuitton. Love those bold sleeves! Right, Questlove rocks gold Crocs. Comfort attire is here to stay!

Left, Tyler Perry in a sophisticated velvet blazer. Right, Sasha Baron Cohen and Isla Fischer attend a screening of the oscars in Sydney, Australia. Bowties for the win!

Left, Angela Basset stuns in red Alberta Ferreti gown. Right, Carey Mulligan wows in golden gown by Valentino.

Left, Margot Robbie in a modern number from Chanel Couture. Right, Elvira Lind color coordinates a face mask for a fashionable statement.

Left, Youn Yuh-jung, winner of best supporting actress for Minari, in Marmar Halim and Chopard jewelry, with Han Ye-ri in Louis Vuitton. Right, Rita Moreno in strapless plum mermaid gown. Pockets for the win too!

I believe this year, we really saw such amazing, modern fashion. Did you have a favorite outfit from the Oscars? Share your thoughts in comments!

Images courtesy of Vogue

3 Questions To A Better Wardrobe

Fashion is awesome. It’s creative, it makes me feel good and I’m always looking for new inspiration. However, managing a personal wardrobe can quickly become a lot of work. Aquiring new items, cataloging and rotating the items I have is a big task. But with a few questions and little bit of tenacity, a wardrobe is simple to manage. Find out how to keep a grip on your own closet below!

Image courtesy of free stocks via unsplash

First off, it’s a wise idea to have at least a week’s worth of warm weather and cold weather clothing. But even this idea is open to variables depending on the regional weather where you live. What we need to ask is how often will I wear this? Some items may be appropriate for every season, like denim. If you’re looking for specifics, spring and summer tops can include short sleeves, tank tops or strapless styles. Include a skirt or dress if you like. For fall and winter, long sleeve henleys or polos, sweaters and a quality coat are good options. Consider the materials you wear as well. Of course, an open toe sandal is better in warm temperatures, but close toed sneakers or loafers are a year round choice.

Referring back to our wardrobe essentials guide, once you have your basics covered, review how many tops, pants, dresses, underwear and even shoes you can add or remove from your closet. I think there has been frustration with the idea of an essentials only wardrobe. I see it as building blocks to fashionable options. You shouldn’t feel limited to ‘x’ amount of items. But knowing you already have a great white tee that fits your taste and budget can help you on future shopping trips to avoid getting the upteenth t-shirt, because. Does that make sense? It’s still nice to have variety and there may even be a handful of items that don’t get worn as often, but can still occupy your coveted closet space. And experimenting with trends isn’t a mistake! Try something out for a season if you like it. Flex your creativity and play with your style, you always have the basics to fall back on.

So, now that we’ve got our seasonal wardrobe set, we know how often it will be worn, daily, seasonally or special occasion. Next we should consider how often it will need washed.

photo courtesy of charles deluvio via unsplash

The elephant in the room with fashion is how to properly care for our clothing. I actually enjoy doing laundry. Its a methodical process and caring for my beloved items is important to me. But it can become a chore if it piles up. So considering how often you are comfortable with doing a load of laundry or washing a certain item of clothing can be a good tool in wardrobe management. Some items need to be washed after each time it’s worn, some only need to be washed once a season. Some need to be dry cleaned! So how often does what need washed? I am working on another post about when to wash clothing that can be a time saver, so make sure to tune back in for that!

Finally, ask, do I have space for this?
If I include window shopping, I probably shop once a week. Sometimes I’m just seeing if a trending items is available at a lot of stores, sometimes I’m looking for the perfect pair of pants. Other times I’m just on the hunt for a good fabric to make it myself. However the best “rule” I try to follow is if a new top new makes its way into my closet, an old top is donated. It keeps my closet from overflowing and feels good to give gently, or hardly, used items to someone who needs it, instead of clogging up a landfill.

Keeping these notes in mind about how often we wear our clothes, how often we like to do laundry, and what we have space for, we’ve figured out what works best for us. That makes our lives simpler, who wouldn’t want that?

Adidas is not a sponsor of this blog and all opinions are my own.

For The Love of Food

Who has been ordering out for delivery in quarantine? Between food delivery and online shopping, I might never leave the house ever again. With so many options available, it can be daunting to know where to find a delicious meal. So I thought I’d compile a few of my own favorite places around the valley. If you don’t live in Phoenix, hopefully this can at least give you a cuisine or dish to try in your own city. Asian food is a weekly staple for me, so this first list is all the best places, in my humble opinion, around sunny Phoenix.

Is there anything better than a bowl of silky pad thai after a long day? I think not. Thai food is probably my number 1 go to for a delicious weeknight meal. There are plenty of great Thai restaurants in the valley, but my favorites are Wild Thaiger for dumplings and the best homemade coconut ice cream. This joint has 2 locations in Phoenix & Scottsdale. I’d swing by the Phoenix location because its close to the art museum, a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Or refuel in Scottsdale after spending the day shopping at Fashion Square or visiting SMOCA. I can’t wait for museums to open up again, I guess I will venture out of the house after all!

The best pad thai is from Thai Thai Thai, pictured above, my favorite delivery on doordash. Their monsoon curry is also a good choice, it’s super creamy thanks to coconut milk and you can pick the spice level. I have to give Soda Bun in Mesa a shoutout though, because their portions are huge and the pad woo sen and drunk noodles are phenomenal. My mouth is watering right now, guess what I’m having for dinner?

An old friend of mine went to teach English in Vietnam in college. Her instagram feed was filled with the most delicious looking food. Vietnamese quickly became another weeknight staple in my house, and while there’s lots of good options around, Pho Thuah Than can’t be beat. The brisket pho is a big bowl of rich flavors and So.Many.Noodles. There is nothing else to do but slurp away! I love their red pork bahn mi, I literally dream of this sandwich and would eat it every day if I could. I enjoy so many dishes from their menu, the pork vermicelli and shrimp fried rice are more decadent options. Plus, the spring rolls are always a treat. When I’m not completely stuffed, which is always, they have a few desserts too. Che ba Mau or rainbow dessert is so light and refreshing. Its red bean, mung bean and coconut sauce over crushed ice. My only complaint is they don’t deliver! Luckily it’s not too far from my apartment, so I don’t mind a quick pickup!

This chocolate cloud cake from Tous les Jours is as yummy as it looks!

I have been eating delectable korean food since college. I love the seasonal ban chan that comes with every plate. Don’t worry, kimchi is always included! This is a type cuisine that you can find several great restaurants around the area, but I am a repeat offender at Hodori’s. They are right by a thrift shop I like to visit and the asian grocery used to complete the strip mall. Bulgogi is a mouth watering beef dish with rice or if you’re looking to slurp a sweet but still savory noodle, try chap chae.
Savory pancakes, panjeon, or bibim neng myun, literally meaning cold soup, are other great options, especially when its a hot day and we just want something light yet tasty.
The grocery store moved, but don’t fret. It’s right across the street in a bigger space so you can get all kinds of authentic food. They also have some restaurants inside, including B-Bop, where you can build your own bibimbap bowl or pick up a loaf of matcha bread at Tous les Jours. I got my birthday cake here this year and couldn’t have been more pleased!

Hodori and Bbop are open for takeout or delivery, daily.

I had to search high and low for dim sum in Mesa. I finally figured out that Shanghai soup dumplings are their American name-and Dim Sum Cafe had the tastiest ones. This place has a mix of chop suey favorites and some traditional dishes, like clay pots or sweet and sour pork. You get a tower if you order fried tofu, just sprinkle a little salt on top and dip them in soy sauce. YUM!

Dim Sum Cafe is closed on Mondays, but you can dine in or order takeout Tuesday-Sunday.

If your in the mood for sushi, Makitos is the one to try. It opened up right next to a movie theater in 2018, and my friend and I went to try it one night. We loved it and told people about it, then long story short, a friend of a friend knew the owner of this establishment, and one night, he cooked for us. It was an incredible evening, with homemade cucumber saki and matcha ice cream. I even tried squid for the first time that night!

Makitos is open for dine in and takeout

Thicker wheat noodles in a miso based broth switch up the consistency of this japanese dish compared to hot pot or pho. Tonkotsu is a pork bone broth that adds a ton of flavor. It can come with a variety of vegetables from seaweed to bean sprouts to corn. The custardy runny yolk of a boiled egg is just the cherry on top. I always order from Ramen House in Scottsdale and I’m never disappointed. Complete your meal with crispy gyoza(dumplings) and a ramune soda!

When I lived in Utah, there were several times that I would have a craving for Indian food. Fortunately, there were plenty of eatery’s of exceptional quality. When I moved to Arizona, I didn’t have as much success in finding some of my favorite Northern Indian dishes such as tikka masala, tandoori chicken, or vindaloo. Finally, thanks to food delivery apps, Guru Palace was on my radar. No order is complete without garlic-y, buttery naan. When you get a craving, the samosas are a great appetizer.

I discovered Princess Market & Deli for Persian food thanks to Doordash, and was blown away by the flavors. Spicy and citrusy beef kabobs were the winner, but I was happily munching on leftover kofta the next day. This place has the best selection of middle eastern eats. Dine on yummy favorites like schwarma, sambusas, falafel and more. I saw the stuffed grape leaves on a cooking show and was so excited to try them! They were so tasty dipped in homemade tahini sauce.

Princess Market & Deli is open and delivers on Postmates, Ubereats, DoorDash and GrubHub.

What is your favorite local restaurant? Share it in comments for other readers. Happy dining!

Product Review: Glossier

I treated myself over the holiday to a couple products from Glossier. I have seen advertisements and checked out their website before, but when I saw they had a hydrating eye cream, I decided to make a purchase. Bubblewrap is a dual eye and lip cream, with hyaluronic acid, I hoped would lighten up the, ahem, designer bags under my eyes. Its very light, yet creamy. I had a little trouble applying makeup over it, so I’d recommend application at night because its that hydrating.

These products were $70 with shipping and tax, which seemed like a reasonable price, but a discount was applied to my cart that I didn’t add. I’m not sure if it was a holiday promotion or what, but my final cost was $55. That was a pleasant surprise! I believe I also ended up with free shipping, which is always a perk. They offer a few product samples that you can add to your cart, which was a nice bonus. Delivery was pretty quick, I had a 2 day delay because of the holidays/weekend, but you can track your shipment easily through the link they provide in your confirmation.

I also got the dotcom balm trio pack. Wild berry was my favorite color. It has a sheer tint, but very moisturizing. It’s not one of those balms you have to reapply over and over. I also got mango and wild fig that smelled great. It’s like lip smackers for grownups!

The packaging is cute and tidy, everything was included in a pink ziploc bag. And their signature sticker was included. Overall, I’m satisfied with my first Glossier purchase and will buy again in the future. I’d recommend this company if you are looking for some new skincare items or makeup products. This is not sponsored content and all opinions are my own.

Designer Spotlight: Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman wanted to be a maker at the age of 9. After she moved from upstate New York to Manhattan and attended Parsons School of Design, she then launched her eponymous label in 2000. She told BURU, “The fabrics were all hand-dyed batik and I did everything myself from start to finish. Some of my favorite memories are from when I was first getting started.  I had to be industrious and make things out of nothing – I was forced to be more creative. That youthful tenacity and fearlessness is what ultimately gave me the drive to build my business.”
She made custom pieces for stylist friends. Patricia Field, stylist for Sex & the City bought some of her pieces at a consignment store and she sent assistants back for more.
Expressive, bold and inspired by Mara’s travels, her clothing line includes ready to wear, Swimwear, Kids, Bridal and activewear. It is an eco-friendly company, using organic and sustainable materials, like Tencel Modal. Her patterns are printed digitally, reducing water water waste. And packaging is all compostable.

“I feel constantly in conflict,” she says to Coveteur magazine. “No matter how much effort we put into every aspect of our process, we’re still manufacturing new, and we’re still creating more things when our earth is begging for no more things because there’s no more room. But the way I can sleep and continue to show up at my office and employ the incredible people we employ, is that there’s such a web of human beings who depend on this.” Plus, as a lifelong lover of fashion in the position that she’s in, she doesn’t take her job lightly. “I have a huge responsibility,” she says, “a responsibility to make people feel good, feel their greatest, feel beautiful.”

I really love the strides she has made in producing a fashion label with sustainable habits. And it isn’t at the cost of great fashion! Her bohemian designs are beautiful. She was even the first recipient of Unifi’s “Leading the Change” award in March 2019. Mara sells online and in boutiques like Saks Fifth Ave, Nordstrom and Anthropologie. She opened her first store late last year in downtown NYC.

Mara at her Spring 2015 RTW show in New York City

She has to have coffee & green juice from Gregory’s near her studio. Mara lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn, with their dog Gypsy.

Photos courtesy of Anderson Hopkins, Haute Living and Vogue

What’s on the Bookshelf

I had been looking for new titles and authors to read when The New York Times posted their selection of the 100 best novels of 2020 in December. I was excited to peruse the list to make a few selections. With covid still playing a big role in all our lives, exploring another place and time in the world seems ideal. If anyone has been looking for a good book to curl up with, I definitely recommend checking the list out for yourself. And below I have included a brief review of a few I have read so far. Leave a comment below if you have other suggestions or thoughts on these titles!

Beheld is a historical fiction novel told from the women’s point of view. It was interesting, since the places and characters were all real. I think the author overused the word, “betwixt”. Like the first 3 times it was clever and then after that it was annoying. And after growing up being told the pilgrims were peaceful and in search of religious freedom, it’s a little disheartening to learn how violent and discriminatory they actually were. However, I would miss turkey if we stopped celebrating Thanksgiving. And legend has it there was no turkey at the first thanksgiving, so I’m taking the win. This was a quick read, I finished it in just over two days.

The Mercies is another historical fiction novel set in Sweden in the 1600s around the time when witch trials were gaining popularity. A big storm killed all the men, who went out to fish, leaving the women to fend for themselves on small island in the northernmost part of the country. They are able to survive, thanks to a couple of women who stepped into leadership roles and made sure people could eat and go about their tasks. But the king ended up sending an officer to check things out essentially, because there were whispers. You can feel the drama build as the chapters progress and it comes to a disturbing climax, but spoiler, the protagonist is ok in the end, though it’s not really a happy ending.

The Third Rainbow Girl was part cold case investigation, part memoir, of the author living in West Virginia and learning about a double murder in 1980 that basically destroyed the people of a town for generations. It had high points and low points for me. I agree with the authors final thoughts about what happened, but I felt that the third rainbow girl didn’t really factor in. She was just more of an example of what Nancy and Vicki were like before they died, and perhaps what they could have been had they lived. Maybe it was supposed to represent the human spirit, but after a whole wild goose chase over whodunnit, whydunnit and with multiple trials, only to still be unresolved to this day erred on the side of pointless.

A review of Everywhere You Don’t Belong said it crackled off the page, and I really believe it did. Actually, I realized when I uploaded the cover art that it was the review right on the cover, haha. It carried a fast pace thanks to the author using dialogue to carry the novel. It had high energy through sad, funny and terrifying moments. Its main character was a young boy growing up in Chicago’s South Shore and the people he knew and experiences he had. But his history followed him to college and more conflict ensued. This was probably my favorite novel of the bunch I picked out.

The Boy In The Field by Margot Livesey was a novel about 3 siblings who, you guessed it, discovered a boy in a field who was unconscious from an attack. Thanks to the siblings, he survived and the story follows their lives over the next year. It had extremely subtle prose, with rich descriptions and well crafted metaphors. Towards the end of the book, Matthew, the oldest sibling says, “since that afternoon in the field, everything’s been different.” The pages were full of joy and pain. I wondered why all the way to the final chapter, and appreciated the glimpse into their simple yet complicated lives. Reading this actually made me think of The Third Rainbow Girl, but I preferred the more nuanced approach from this novel, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting a result from the crime committed.

I still have some other titles I look forward to reading and posting about in the near future. Keep checking back in, if you are like me and always on the hunt for a good book!