Thursday, January 16, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 1.16.20

  • Harvest & Moon - Mariah Oller is a cellular biologist turned Tarot card reader who happens to be incredibly talented, absolutely darling, and an amazing conduit to connect you with your spirit. Yep. All of that and more. Tarot is something I've always been curious about and celebrating my birthday this year, I decided to treat myself (and my girlfriends) to Tarot readings. If you've ever considered Tarot as an approach to tapping into some clarity, do check out Harvest & Moon. Even if you're not in Charlotte, Mariah offers virtual readings too!

  • Pillow Talk - Ok. Yes. I do enjoy pillow talk but the type I'm referring to in this case is Charlotte Tilbury's lipstick that I found in my stocking on Christmas. (Combo with the liner is no longer available but you can buy it separately here.) I can't tell you how many glosses, lipsticks, balms, and stains I've tried. You already know how much I LOVE Stainiac (so good!) --and now you can add this combo from Tilbury to your short list. I first heard about this color from another blogger, I'm sure (who may have read one of the multiple praises from beauty reviewers like this one). What I find great about it is that the neutral-pink tone looks good on lots of skin tones. The lipstick is creamy and smooth without any stickiness and it lasts too (admittedly though, not as well as a stain). This shade is a great step up from a basic nude without looking like "too much." I'm a fan.

  • gorjana - Our family spent the holiday on the west coast, sharing time between Portland, Oregon and Southern California. When we were with our friends in Laguna Beach, I was introduced to the Laguna-based jewelry company, "gorjana." Love, love, loved the pieces --especially the layerable, delicate necklaces. (I'm a sucker for a necklace!) However, it was literally just past Christmas and while I was taking advantage of some of the sales, I really wasn't doing to much shopping for myself. Flash forward to the day after we returned from our trip: My girlfriend, Tracie, took me out for an early birthday lunch and gave me THIS. Unbelievable. "You've heard of gojana??" she asked. And so I launched into the story as I unwrapped a most perfect necklace with the biggest smile on my face. (It's adjustable even!) Sadly, gojana does not yet have a storefront in North Carolina; however, they do have a great online store and lucky for you, Nordstrom now carries the line in case you want to have a look in-person.
  • City Stems - (Making a second appearance here on TILT because I'm obsessed.) The secret is OUT. Not only is she one of the *best* people I know and love, but Laura Hughes of City Stems is so outrageously talented that if you want to get on her schedule for a holiday or big event, then you best get in line. Laura creates the most beautiful plant and floral creations you've ever seen. I think the magic about City Stems is that Laura is not only exceedingly gifted with an eye for style and detail --she an incredible listener. She works to understand your style/vibe/vision and then executes something that captures the idea and makes you feel completely understood. Listen, I know I'm a bit crazy about plants and this little ballad to Laura might seem a bit over-the-top but I'm telling you: This is special. Remember her name. Follow her Instagram. Get on her list. Treat yo' self and those you love. 

  • Hemleva - Speaking of loving plants, this little number arrived in the sweetest birthday package from my friend, Simone, and she couldn't know be better. Ha! I also have this beauty on my keyring and wouldn't mind adding this to my Hemleva collection. 

  • Warm cake in bed - Thanks to my friend, Gretchen, our family has adopted the tradition of waking up the birthday person on their special day with warm cake. Depending on the day of the week when the birthday falls, it can be an early morning --especially for me who is the cake-baker and sharer of birthdays with our youngest. ;) It's and easy and sweet tradition (pun intended) and if you use the box mix, like me, than not too difficult to execute. Just remember to serve your frosting on the side because it will melt or crumble the cake if you try to smear it on top. And remember to put the candle in the frosting and not the warm cake, as the wax will melt inside the cake and the candles will fall over before you can quietly crack the bedroom door open and start the quiet singing of the birthday song!

  • Dermot Kennedy - Not only to have Gretchen to thank for warm birthday cake in bed, I also have to thank her for introducing me to Dermot Kennedy. She mentioned him like 2 days ago and I've been listening nonstop. Before that, I was living under a rock. Here he is performing Outnumbered on Jimmy Kimmel and here's a link to listen to him sing Power Over Me on Ellen (from May of 2019!). If you like those and are interested, here he is acoustically performing with a small gospel choir on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. Yeah... so "HI! It's me... just crawling out from under this rock." AND... Dermot is coming to Charlotte in February and I'm going! *Fangirl swoons*

  • Bloody Mary Bar - I love when a vision comes together in the way that you imagined. That's what happened when I put together this bloody mary bar last week. I looked at all kinds of ideas on Pinterest and found a bit of this and that around the house (tray, stand, jars, letterboard...). The fun part was deciding what to offer as garnishes (photo taken before the plate of bacon was set out). While I usually start with a V8 base, adding spices, heat, fresh lime juice, horseradish, worcestershire, etcetera... I took the easy way this day and was SO pleased with (locally made) Bruce Julian's pre-made mix. Anyone for brunch??

Monday, January 13, 2020

What I've Read Recently | December 2019

Off to a good start in 2020. 
Here it is, not even halfway through January, and I'm putting the finishing touches 
on my list of books from December. {takes a bow} 
It was a lovely month of holiday planning, travel, celebrating, and family. 
I found lots of opportunities to read and I hope you did too. 
May this new year offer you plenty of time for stories!

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon
From Goodreads:
From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.
What I thought: 8.5/10 (Listened to on Audible)
As soon as I finished listening to Amy Harmon's What the Wind Knows, I chose another novel from her to listen to next. Though a completely different book than the first, The First Girl Child was also amazing! The story is sweeping, the characters so so interesting, and the drama is balanced beautifully by the relationships that are described so richly. Even if Sci-Fi/Fantasy is not your jam, do yourself a solid and give this book a chance. I think there's something for everyone. 

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
From Goodreads:
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
What I thought: 7.5/10
Parts of this book were very compelling and the character development was excellent; however, I felt like the story dragged at certain points and I had a hard time understanding some of the motivations. Having said that, I think Keane did a great job putting the reader within the messiness of a complicated family drama that deals with some very heavy themes: alcoholism, mental illness, abandonment, and infidelity... This novel demonstrates the ways in which life is complicated and fluid. There is also a lot of forgiveness, love, and tenderness here as well. This one is not a "light read" but if you feel like taking up a sweeping family drama --this is perfect for you!

The Pigman by Paul Zindel
From Goodreads:
In The Pigman, what begins as a teenage prank soon becomes a timeless examination of grief, acceptance, and the transformative power of friendship.
What I thought: 8.5/10
My 7th grader was assigned this book for her Language Arts class. It has been compared to The Outsiders and Catcher in the Rye and the tone feels similar to these two works. The Pigman was written in 1968 and until she told me I needed to order her a copy, I had never heard of it. So when the unassuming little paperback arrived from Amazon, I decided to sit down and read it. With its honest and sparse prose, first-person narrative through the lens of the two main characters, and a plot that is simple yet emotionally challenging, it's no wonder this little novel is considered a "groundbreaking young adult classic." It's hard to say more without giving too much away. If you're interested, this quick read would definitely be worth your time.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
From Goodreads:
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together.
What I thought: 9.5/10 (Listened on Audible)
This book (on Audible) launched to the top of my "To Read" list when David Sedaris sang its praises and those of Tom Hanks (narrator) when I had the pleasure of hearing him (David) speak in Early December. I just realized that this is only the second book by Ann Patchett that I've read. The first was Bel Canto and if you've been following along, you already know that Bel Canto is one of my all-time favorite books. I'm adding The Dutch House to that small list of perfect books and finally getting the message: I need to treat myself to more of this author. Some reviewers have mentioned they felt The Dutch House was slow at times. I never felt anything less than completely wrapped up in the story --given even the fact that I listened to it in "stop and go" spurts as I ran errands and lived my normal car life. This is a sibling story that is told with incredible warmth, depth, and honesty. The relationship between Danny and Maeve is what you might dream of for your own children. Obviously they're not perfect and perhaps there are other relationships in their individual lives that suffer because of their bond --or perhaps they're destined for challenging relationships because of their childhoods and thank goodness they have one another and their unshakable love (which is how I choose to see it). This book is a gift.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
From Goodreads:
Kevin Wilson’s best book yet—a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable and disturbing abilities.
What I thought: 9/10 (Listened on Audible)
You guys! This book! I'm telling you... it's SO very good. I don't know how Kevin Wilson was able to write such a heartfelt, (darkly) funny, endearing, and warm (pun intended) novel about a pair of 10 year old twins who occasionally burst into flame --but that is what he has done. I loved this book. Ultimately, I found the story to be about love, acceptance, loyalty, and faith. The fact that the kids caught on fire never distracted from the heart of this story --it became instead, a perfect way to demonstrate what love ought to look like when you've found the people with whom you belong. To top it all off --the narrator was brilliant and I laughed my ass off. (Also, if bad words offend your senses learn to get over that because you're missing out.)

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
From Goodreads:
In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.
What I thought: 8/10
Wow. If you think you know about the #metoo movement and what you know absolutely pisses you off --then pick this book up and light your anger on fire! This book was so disturbing. How these men got away with such blatant and disgusting behavior for as long as they did is baffling --and yet not so unbelievable, really. Sadly. The writing and the research are excellent. I think this is an important read no matter who you are --but if your the parent of a daughter, then especially so.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
From Goodreads:
No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings.
What I thought: 7.5/10
So many good books in December! Don't leave this one off your list. I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I ultimately did. In fact, when I was finished reading it, I kept telling everyone about it because I found it to be unique and entertaining. This page-turner has a few flaws (I'll let you decide for yourself) however, it was captivating and each twist left me trying to re-piece the puzzle. Lock Every Door is the first book by Riley Sager that I've picked up. Several reviews were quite scathing as they compared this work to his other two novels: The Last Time I Lied and Final Girls. Sounds like I'll be adding those to my short list!