Reading Lately


The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Historical fiction. Check. Coming of age story. Check. Great cover art. Check. What’s not to love here? The story opens with an elderly Addie answering her granddaughters question, “How did you become the woman you are today?”. She begins the story in 1915, when she was the teenage daughter of immigrants living Boston and follows her through romance, heartache and milestones–all the things you want in a proper coming of age story. The story covers some major points in American history that I’ve haven’t come across much in historical fiction and I just loved Addie’s smart, modern voice. I’m in the middle of another one of Diamant’s books right now.


One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Ok, so I powered through page after page digging for Emily’s secret…and when it was finally revealed I wasn’t all that shocked. The plot line was reminiscent of Gone Girl. The first pages open up with Emily fleeing her family to begin a new life in a new city with a new name and clues are given through out the book as to why she left as the story goes on. Turns out I had figured out her secret pretty early on. I was just expected something more scandalous or outrageous surrounding it. In hindsight I think I was just expecting too much, but it did entertained me and I will be on the lookout for Seskis’ second book.


The Girls from Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

I picked this up after seeing it on one of Heart of Light’s reading lists. It’s a story of two girls that grew up together and the paths their lives take. Books that explore the often complex relationship between women that grew up together always intrigue me. The story gives a frank perspective on life–friendships, motherhood and moving on. It’s not a particularly happy or light story, but it is a refreshing portrayal of the unfairness of life.

Me to We Maasai Moc

IMG_0718Beaded mocs have been on my Fall Wishlist for months. And I LOVE this pair that I picked up a few weeks ago. When I got them home I was pleasantly surprised to find a card inside the box explaining that the moccasins were beaded by a Maasai woman in Kenya with the Me to We Maasai Moc program.

Since watching The True Cost  earlier this summer I’ve been thinking more about how and why we consume goods and where and how they are made. I’ve become more interested in companies like The Little Market, that source their goods for skilled women in developing countries. So it was awesome see a product already on my list is doing this cool thing! Check out the Me to We site to learn more about the women and the work they’re doing.


Skincare Routine


One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to take better care of my skin. So I started the year with a new face mask and a commitment to keep my go-to products stocked in my medicine cabinet. And I’ve seen great results! It used to seem like I always had something scary going on somewhere on my face. But in the last year, I’ve only had a few scary spots that lasted for more than a day or two.

I’ve used Clinique’s 3-Step system since high school, but I wasn’t always great about sticking to it. I would run out of one of the products and just skip the step or replace it with a drugstore alternative. And subsequently end up with a new breakout that took weeks to clear up. But since the beginning of the year I’ve stuck to it and had bright, clear skin pretty much everyday. I use the Acne Cleansing bar, Clarifying Lotion 2 and Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel.

I’ve also used their acne spot treatment, but since sticking with the 3-steps every morning and night I really haven’t needed it. Anything that pops up is pretty small and goes away within a day or two with just the three steps (and no picking of course!).

In addition to my daily routine, I have a few weekly habits. The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil Face Mask is wonderful! I’ve tried alot of different face masks in the last decade and this is easily my favorite. The classic green mask gives an instant cooling and tingly sensation. As it dries it pulls away excess oils and impurities. Once rinsed off my face is always left dewy and fresh looking. It my favorite Sunday night ritual.

You know, I’m not entirely sure how effective Biore strips are over the long term, but there’s SO MUCH instant gratification with them. (And they always give me the nostaligic, warm-fuzzies, reminding me of that scene in Princess Diaries when Mia’s crush Michael shows up at her house)

What are your go-to products?

DSM Blogger Brunch at Hotel Renovo


I spent last Sunday morning at Hotel Renovo enjoying delicious food with a handful of other Des Moines bloggers. Its always nice to get together with other bloggers as we usually online interact online and it great to meet new faces and discover new reads! And any time there’s brunch–I’m there!

2015-08-23After brunch they gave us a tour of the hotel which just went under a huge renovation. It’s a beautiful space with a modern-farmhouse feel. The light fixtures through the entire hotel are fantastic! And those chairs around the fire place – love!

IMG_0534-001The rooms are simple, spacious and beautifully decorated.

Seriously–the light fixtures are on. point. And the hallway carpeting? Why is my apartment not carpeted in that?!
IMG_0545The weather was marvelous on Sunday, perfect to enjoy their burgeoning apple orchard and welcoming outdoor seating.


Reading Lately


The Fair FightThe Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

This was one of those awesome times when I picked up a random book at the library and it was actually good! Most of the time I pick books out based on recommendation from a friend/the internet/wherever, then put them on hold at my local library. When I stray from my usual book selection process, I tend to end up with books that have FANTASTIC covers, but are really terrible. This book was not that!  It was excellent. And I polished it off in just a few sittings. Did you know that lady-boxers were a thing in 18th century France? Yeah I didn’t either. Its like Total Divas circa 1754.  Find it. Read it. Thank me.

Couverture Crocos US

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol 

Speaking of France, apparently this book was a HUGE sensation there. I read the English translation as I only last two weeks in an elective college French class. I do believe there is sequel, but I’m not seeing any English translation of it yet. Fingers crossed. The book is based on two sisters and a risky scheme they get into together. The story branches off in alot of directions with the sisters’ parents, children and spouses. And man do I love a good, twisty story.


In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume 

I was shocked when I told people I was reading the new Judy Blume book and they looked at me like they’d never heard of Judy Blume. How have you not heard of Judy Blume?!? Um, hello–Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? Forever? I mean she is a staple on every preteen girls’ bookshelf. And I’ve devoured her adult books years ago. So when I heard rumblings of her new book, I was sure to get on the top of the library’s hold list. And it did not disappoint. She’s just such a good story teller, and knows how to write women.

Theresa’s Bridal Shower

Last weekend I helped host a bridal shower for my dear friend Theresa, who is getting married this fall. And it turned out wonderfully–much to the credit of MOH, Kate and her mom, Linda!Desktop13
The day before the shower we all went to an adorable flower farm to cut our own flowers. With lots of help from the very friendly farm cats we filled a bucket full with pretty blooms for the shower. If you find yourself in rural eastern Iowa, you really must stop! In addition to the abundance of blooms, there’s a coop full of hens with a very cocky rooster and tiny little cottage filled with homemade jams and hand embroidered tea towels.

Desktop12It was a brunch shower–and I’ve decided all showers should be brunch showers, because it was delicious! Kate and her mom made mini quiches and Theresa’s family supplied homemade pastries. I was tasked with the mimosa bar (thank you Pinterest) and we stamped coffee sleeves with the bride and groom’s names (not sure how I missed getting pic of them).

Pillow Talk


I’ve been working on my pillow game. And it’s just not there yet.

I purchased new furniture last month (Happy Birthday to Me!!) and I love it! But the living room as a whole still needs some work. In the past I’ve decorated based on a color scheme and put everything together at one time. Which sort of worked, but also made everything look very matchy-matchy and just not that interesting. So this time around I’m taking it slow with the intent to end up with a more curated look that will–hopefully–better reflect my style and tastes.

007So, back to the pillows. Throw pillows are easily my favorite decor item. They’re affordable, easy to change and comfy! And I have about a million of them. I’ve even started pawning them off on other people. So I knew–at least to start with–that I didn’t need to purchase any new ones (even though I’m DYING for this one). I pulled out all my pillows from the back of the closet and under the bed and picked out a new combo to make it feel fresh. I don’t LOVE them all together, but they’re doing the job for now.

012My biggest challenge (yeah, throw pillow problems #firstworld) is how many pillows to have out. The thing is–I love pillows. The more the better. Sometimes I actually tuck them around myself when I’m lounging on the couch the create a custom cushy nest for myself. But I’ve noticed that the pillows I find so inviting have an opposite effect on guests. Sometimes people seem afraid to move or sit on the pillows, like they don’t want to mess them up or something. And ultimately I want my furniture to be inviting to all! So I’m trying to find a happy medium that satisfies my pillow preferences without scaring my visitors.

009I put the black and white Euro pillows away and moved my fuzzy guy over to the couch. I do like that I can see a little more of my furniture that way. But it might seem a little bare? And I’m still not crazy about the combo.

Have you found the right pillow formula?