Don’t you feel a little confused about all of the beauty products out there? From a seaweed bath soak that comes complete with dead crustaceans attached, to an eyebrow product that literally stamps your eyebrows on, it is hard to know what you can use that makes you feel good and is not made of crap. Sometimes literally.
For me personally, that means drastic simplification. I enjoy wearing makeup and usually when I wear makeup I don’t look like a clown. Except when I attempt winged liner.
You are bathing in suds and glory.
That is a whole bunch of next level crap I haven’t mastered. My life just doesn’t seem to allow me much time to do a full face of makeup except on date night. Even then. Sorry hubby, get used to it. I do however search out for products that smell good and make me feel right about my very limited beauty routine. Specifically, they are bath bombs and the Whoosh shower gel from Lush.
The bath bombs need no explaining. They are a bomb of awesome that is plunked with anticipation into your bathwater. They fizzle, glitter, and smell amazing. Cleaning your tub sucks. But who the hell cares! You are bathing in suds and glory.
The shower gel is for me the most perfect smell and this is coming from someone who has a pretty extensive perfume collection. I sometimes sit in the restroom and just huff it. There is something about the herbal/citrus smell that gets to me. I have searched pretty hard for something that smells like an equivalent, and have yet to find anything.
The third beauty product I am going to mention here is perfume. I like to smell like a french whore. Yes, I love myself. Yes, I know that that is not something that is generally aimed for. Yes, I am ok with this.
I think I have pretty good taste in perfumes, but what the hell do I know. Fun fact about me: I am slightly anosmic. Which means that I have very little to no sense of smell. It is not entirely gone, I can smell some things. But generally, they have to be very strong or very specific. This carries into they way perfumes smell for me. My very favorite fragrance that does not wholly annoy my ultra sensitive nose of a husband (aren’t we a pair) is by MAC cosmetics. It smells like I have slathered honey and sexiness all over my body. It is called Velvet Teddy. See see, french whore.
Sometimes I sit in the bathroom and huff it
Close second concerning smell is all class, Coco Chanel. I feel so fancy wearing it. Two very different price points. Depending on the day and if I want to feel a little low-class slutty, I wear the Velvet Teddy. High-class “Pretty Woman” slutty, it’s all Coco Chanel. If I want to keep it all to myself, just the shower gel after a shower.
Hannah Brencher on productivity and to-do lists: “Locate the task that is the most important but also the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on. That’s your frog. Your frog is the thing that NEEDS to get done . . . I try to ‘eat the frog’ every week, early in the week.”
I live and die by my to-do lists. I came across this great and straightforward way of tracking your ideas and what needs to get done via a notebook on my feed this morning and had to share. It is much easier getting things down on paper, and yes paper, electronic stuff does not work for me when it comes to lists. I can’t keep something in my brain and juggle a hundred things at once. Try it out. It has made a world of difference to me. For me eating the frog is phone calls to places like the utility company, oy.
God who doesn’t love Pinterest? Heathens that’s who! I get so many great ideas off of there that I have neither time nor money to do. But every now and then I see a pin and it sparks an idea that I could whip up and get a little spark of self-accomplishment from. This happens to be one of them. Originally it was an instructables.com link (another fantastic site for no time or money ideas) called “Easy Garden Pagoda.” I am in amidst the slow process of transforming my former overgrown cesspool of a backyard into an Asian inspired zen garden.
Stacked the parts till I got a semblance of a pagoda, stole some large rocks from my mother-in-law’s house to give it that added panache, and voila. Insta-goda.
I have a lot of appreciation for Asian landscape architecture, specifically the Japanese gardening style. It is calm amidst chaos for me. One of the features used in Japanese gardens is pagoda-like statues. They all vary in cost, size, materials used etc. But generally, they are out of my budget. What is important is the shape. The stacked tiers are a mainstay in Japanese landscape architecture. I wanted one and could not afford it. That is when I came across this brilliant how-to.
I am not going to rehash the step by step process of me making it. I did essentially what the above link did. Found the parts at Walmart and used what I had laying around the backyard. Stacked the parts till I got a semblance of a pagoda, stole some large rocks from my mother-in-law’s house to give it that added panache, and voila. Insta-goda.
The most important part of her instructable is the level surface you build something like this on. I used an actual bubble level on the first paving brick to make sure that it was perfect, otherwise, you will have the leaning tower of a pagoda. That is not a good look and could crush a small child or raccoon or something if it falls. Screw raccoons.
Stupid old-timey trash bandits.
It might even be a good idea to use a construction adhesive when you have the design you like. Also, this Mother-f@#$% is heavy. Like brute strength on PCP heavy to move it. Figure out where you want to put it, and think of it like you built a house. A small house made of lead that is not going anywhere unless you smash it with the wrecking ball.
Here is the finished product. Please ignore the gorgeous fluorescent tag I left on it. At the time I was thinking: “color, color, color!” (I forgot to remove the tag.) Now I just think, “god so last season.” (Tag is still there and probably will be forever.)
Eventually, my pretty pagoda will be surrounded by the lovely shape of river rock and sedum Angelina adding color to the base. But we are not freaking made of money, so that will happen when I decide that eating is less important than doing my garden. I am almost there, it is a sickness really. Anyone want to start a gofundme for my plant buying sickness? I think I need about twenty bucks in plants to go around the base. (I kid, I kid. Don’t get your panties in a twist.) Next garden ornament is a Foo dog as an homage to Mouse from Dresden Files. My geekiness seems to leak out into every part of my life.
According to Wikipedia, “Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban setting. Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined. “
Basically, it is taking something fantastical, and shoving it into a real-life scenario. This can lead to quite a lot of interpretation, and as the genre develops, many subgenres are evolving out of it. The quite famous paranormal romance being the main one. Some people might take Umbridge with me calling paranormal romance a subgenre, but mostly paranormal romance focuses on a romantic relationship or in the case of Sookie Stackhouse, relationships. It still is urban fantasy. Something fantastical taking place in an urban setting. Book geeks can argue over semantics for days. That is why it is important to note that I am always right. (I am sadly not always right, ahem.)
Jim Butcher – Dresden File Series
This is the grand-master of Urban Fiction. When people talk about stuff in this genre, they usually suffer by comparison to him.
“Holy shit,” I breathed. “Hellhounds.”
“Harry,” Michael said sternly. “You know I hate it when you swear.”
“You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,” I breathed, “heckhounds.”
― Jim Butcher, Grave Peril
Although there are plenty of other favorite series out there in this genre, this is the most beloved. It even had a meh TV show created a few years ago that was hideously miscast. The first book is a bit weak-sauce. Butcher doesn’t really find his steam until the second book, and it just gets better from there.
Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels Series
Excellent series from a writing team under the pseudonym Ilona Andrews.
“You know anything about investigative work?”
“Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilt party tries to make you go away.”
― Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites
Romance element, but a solid foundation of plot outside of that. Utterly fabulous and binge-worthy reads.
Patricia Briggs – Mercy Thompson
I adore strong female leads where the woman doesn’t need saving. You would not believe how rare a thing that actually is. Mercy is a shifter/car mechanic who basically just wants to go about her life but keeps getting interrupted. There is a romantic element, but again it is not the end all be all of the novels. Her relationships, both platonic and romantic are more of a foundation in her life that allows her to be who she is.
Mike Carey – Felix Castor Series
This series is set in modern-day London with an exorcist for hire. Kinda like Constantine. It is gritty, dark, and he takes no shit.
Seanan Macguire – October Daye
Oh geez. Seanan Macguire or Mira Grant depending on what series you are reading by her is becoming a heavy hitter in the urban fantasy realm. For a good reason. Her books are without fail damn good. I rarely reread series, there are too many fantastic books out there to check out, and I have read the October Daye 10 book series three times save for the second book of the series, I usually skip that one on a reread. But they are fantastic.
“She laughed like she’d just invented laughter.”
― Seanan McGuire, Rosemary and Rue
They are exciting and edgy. Excellent character development, and a particularly snarky but smart heroine I love. There is a romantic element, but again it is more foundational then anything else. She is a knight who solves problems for her court. How cool is that?!
Mira Grant – Newsflesh Series
Again this is Seanan Macguire writing under her nom de plume. Here is the blurb from goodreads.com, “The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.
The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the most significant story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them.” This about sums it up. New reporters writing in an era of a global pandemic. Trying to tell the truth to the masses.
Kevin Hearne – Iron Druid Chronicles
I include the blurb from his first novel to better explain. “Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.” This is a cool series. The lead character is a magic-wielding badass, who has a snarky dog he speaks to telepathically. It sounds so trite and silly, but damn is this a fun romp.
Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London Series
This is a cool series where the protagonist is not fantastical in any way, just a regular Britsh bloke. From Goodreads, “Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.”
I hope this has sparked some interest in reading some new series. Is this all of the good ones out there, heck no! There are so many fantastic things out there, it is hard to know where to start. If you start some of these or are looking for some ideas on books, leave me a comment. I am always down to discuss books.
My life’s obsession with books and reading is only eclipsed by one thing and one thing only, and that thing is gardening. Maybe books about gardening? (As I stare at the six gardening books I have on my bedside table) My obsession with gardening is only from January until September every year so it is not so bad. Really really, promise. I am one of those people that get giddy when I get new seed catalogs in the mail and instead of buying new shoes or something, I buy a plant. I went practically apoplectic today when I discovered a local nursery had tiny and cheap Japanese Painted Ferns. A plant that I had been looking for for the last 5 months for six freaking dollars.
Today in the mail I received a teeny tiny packet of protea seeds that I ordered from a dealer in Quebec. Protea is a type of flower that looks like a Hibiscus and a pincushion had a baby, then spray painted it neon. It is all spikes, and color while being delightfully and garish and tacky. I freaking love everything about proteas. If I had a spirit flower it would probably be them. Here is the kicker. They are ridiculously and stupendously difficult to grow. Sunset magazine says that if you don’t have perfect soil and perfect climate, and perfect gardening practices; give up and enjoy cut flowers. I am never one to shy away from a challenge. CHALLENGE! I throw down my shears and hoe in the face of such a farce of a seed. It will not beat me!
(it totally isn’t going to grow)
But, I will try and it will be a unique and fun experience. Proteas along with the Black Magic Rose are the two Unicorns that I have always wanted to try and grow, succeeding doesn’t really matter. I’ll add updates as this experiment goes along. I think it will be a damn success story if I can get one seed to germinate, like at all. Here goes nothing.
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the Publisher: It’s among the hottest trends in the food world today—magically colorful dishes and drinks that are as bewitchingly beautiful as they are incredibly tasty and nutritious. Now, Kat Odell—a food journalist, author (the just-published Day Drinking), and entrepreneur who started selling her popular unicorn nut milks in 2015—celebrates the unicorn food movement with a rainbow of 75 recipes.
The recipes are vegan. The ingredients are all-natural and super-nutritious, from fresh fruits and vegetables to superfoods like flax, coconut oil, spirulina, chia, and bee pollen. And the offerings are exactly the kinds of hyper-colorful, super-fun dishes that healthy-forward eaters love, including gently flavored nut milks, grain bowls loaded with vegetables, probiotic breakfast custards, toasts with slathers and spreads. This is health food as never seen before, filled with joy, and words can’t do the colors, the (all-natural) sprinkles, the whimsical decorative touches justice—the deep glowing yellow of a Frozen Turmeric Lassi, the greens of Soba Noodles with Arugula and Arugula Pesto, the intense oranges and purples of Sweet and Sour Radish Tacos, the tie-dye rainbow effect of Veggie Summer Sunset Rolls with Pineapple Kimchi, and the pastels of Chamomile Milk Tea Pudding with Fennel and Pistachios and Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream Sticks.
Filled with dazzling full-color photographs, published in a package as special as the dishes themselves, Unicorn Food is a cookbook of real beauty, in the look, in the recipes, in the spirit of the food itself.
Joy and ever-freaking rapture! My trapper keeper carrying, hair band loving, Lisa Frank buying, side ponytail wearing inner child of the 80’s, just did a squee and a backflip.
Drink and eat the Rainbow man. Preferably wearing glitter.
I seriously loved this cookbook for the simple fact that I can pretend that I am a hoity-toity chef making things with the words fennel, kimchi, and infusion at the same time as playing with my colorful food like I would play with playdough. I am absolutely and unequivocally sold on the concept. Plus, it is just a really lovely book to look through.
As far as the writing is concerned, she did a great job. It feels slightly whimsy and straightforward at the same time. I have a real issue with cookbooks that take themselves way too seriously. She doesn’t. Lastly, the book inspired me to try some of these concoctions for both the chance of prancing around my house as a unicorn. (see photo below) But, also my health. I would recommend this to anyone, serious chef or novice. It is just a whole lot of fun.
I was very excited to read Year One by Nora Roberts. First off, I have read close to thirty of her books. For a while there I was plowing through them. She writes great characters and exciting plots. Especially her later work. I also have read pretty much all the post-apocalyptic books I can get my hands on. Except for “The Road” which I won’t touch with a ten-foot stick.
My first observation is a positive one. The entire novel rests on an interesting, if not a slightly trite premise. World plague that decimates human the population. The thrilling thing is that the epidemic is based on lore mythology and magic. The disease is itself named “Doom,” and is made of these dark energies escaping and infecting the world. I think. Nora Roberts was a little fuzzy on it. In response to these increasing darkness and sickness infecting, a reaction in people with any spiritual and/or magical is that the latent power these people had increased exponentially. Another point I’m fuzzy on. Otherwords, some people get big woo-woo, others not so much. No idea what it is based on or why. Some people get nothing at all and remain human. Also no clue. It just is. Plot points like these that lay the foundation in novels, in my opinion, need to be rock solid. Otherwise, niggling questions remain and throw the reader’s mind out of the story.
The second observation is also a positive one. Nora Roberts knows how to write good dialog. It may be a little schmaltzy, but it flows like people talk. The dialog was well written. I may not have liked what the characters were saying, but she is damn good at writing it.
Character-wise, it is just damn confusing. She has some well-written ones in there that are fleshed out, and some that are flat as a board (I am looking at you Eric and Allegra) and you scratch your head wondering what the hell. Why are the ones that are vapid come from out of nowhere and give so much page time? Also, the pacing and plot arcs are jarring as hell. I have never read a novel that jarred me like a car accident from one vignette to another.
Lastly the third act of the story. I am going to speak in broad terms so as not to do any spoilers, but I spent 75 pages scratching my head. It was all so bland and wrapped up in a neat little bow. I didn’t give a damn about the characters at the end. The ones that I really liked and thought were interesting got unceremoniously excised from the last act of the novel which was a weird pacing and story arc thing to do. Maybe I was just slightly miffed at that. Where are my Arlys, Fred and Jonah? She should have at least nodded her head at them and told us a little of what was going on.
I want to be very clear here. This isn’t a crap book. Nora Roberts is a master storyteller, but this isn’t her best work. That’s ok not everything is going to be a shining star. It is a serviceable book with highs and lows and is very readable. I will read the next book in the series to see what happens. If I had to give it a rating, I’d rate it 3 out of 5.