Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Reviews

So today, you get a two for one!

Thanks to a free trial of Audible that came to me in my GoodReads newsletter, I started listening to audio books on my work commute.  (I was sick and tired of all of the music on my iPod, and it was too early to start listening to Christmas music.)  The first book I listened to was Eat, Pray, Love (because that was the book that gave me the free trial.

I also got a bonus credit when I created my account.  I'm pretty sure it was Kristin who wrote a review on Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly.

It was one of the first books I came across as I was looking for a second book so I decided to download it.  I am pretty much fascinated by the Kennedys, and this book did not disappoint.  I learned a lot more about the famous First Family, and the history of the time period.  (I'm also pretty much obsessed with the 60s.)  I probably could've done without Bill O'Reilly's voice as the narrator, but that's only a minor issue.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

After finishing this book, it was still too early to listen to Christmas music.  I made due with other stuff for awhile, and then on October 24th, I got my next Audible credit.  So I downloaded Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan.

Jim Gaffigan is a comedian whose specials Scott and I have caught on TV from time to time.  I think he's pretty funny.  This is actually his second book.  The first one is called Dad is Fat.  This book had me laughing out loud at times.  I even found myself talking to Jim as he narrated.  He'd say something about a certain food or restaurant, and I'd find myself saying things like, "Oh my goodness, it does!"  Or "Yes, they DO!"  It was truly a book I could relate to, and it was definitely funny!  If you're looking for a funny story about something we all just love, I would recommend this one.  I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Currently Reading:
Son by Lois Lowry (The final book in The Giver series)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Influenster VoxBox: Clearproof Acne System

It's been awhile since I've gotten a VoxBox from Influenster.  I was thrilled to get a chance to receive their Clear Proof VoxBox a few weeks ago!

I am 32 years old, and I still haven't found a skin care regimen that I love.  There's nothing out there that I can rave about, and I'm not a huge fan of needing to spend hundreds of dollars on skin care.  In may, I tried the Unblemish regimen from Rodan & Fields.  According to their skin care questionnaire, I qualified for Unblemish, but it left my skin SO dry and flaky, I was NOT happy.  I was even more unhappy that it cost me almost $200!

To be clear, again, I did not have to pay for the Clear Proof Acne System.  I received it from Influenster to test for 30 days.  I also do not have severe acne.  I have mild acne that results in an isolated blemish every couple of weeks.  I do have some spots from previous blemishes.

The Clear Proof Acne System is a skin care product from MaryKay.  The whole system includes Clear Proof Clarifying Cleansing Gel, Clear Proof Blemish Control Toner, Clear Proof Acne Treatment Gel, and Clear Proof Oil-Free Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin.  I began using the skin care regimen on October 18th.  I only use it once a day in the morning.  At night, I use face wipes to remove make up and cleanse my face.  While this regimen is designed to clean make-up, I have found that nothing ever truly gets rid of eye make up without eye make-up remover (except my cleansing wipes).  I don't like having to use a separate product to remove my eye make up, and I REALLY hate to waste a face wipe by washing my face with a product AND using one to remove eye makeup.

~Does not dry out my skin.
~Products (toner, treatment gel, moisturizer) do not take forever to dry between applications
~Lightened my dark spots from prior breakouts
~Effectively treated a blemish I had when beginning the regimen
~Have not had a blemish since beginning the regimen

~The regimen doesn't have a day & night moisturizer.
(I prefer to have two separate moisturizers- one for day with SPF and one for night.)
~There are no specific anti-aging properties to the regimen.

Overall, I would say that I feel this regimen is effective for me.  Unfortunately, I feel like I need so many pieces to effectively do all of the things I want.  I want a regimen that will effectively control my moderate acne, but at age 32, I do need anti-aging properties.

I would definitely recommend this product if you have mild acne and are looking for a skin care regimen.  My friend, Rebecca, recently became a MaryKay consultant.  If you would like to try the Clear Proof Acne System, you can purchase it directly from her page

In speaking with her, all of MaryKay's skin care products are designed to work together.  I'm also a fan of their TimeWise products.  This has a day serum (with SPF) and night serum.  They do not contain moisturizers.  So I could add these products to my regimen to supplement the anti-aging benefits I'm looking for!

Have you ever tried Clear Proof?  What did you think?

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Music Monday: It's that Time of Year!

Somehow, I managed to be so busy that it has been close to a month since I've written a blog post!  Sheesh.  Today, is an in-service day that we don't actually have to attend.  I know.  It makes no sense.  Long story short, we stay after school for a total of 7.25 hours over two days to do parent-teacher conferences so that we actually don't have to go to work today.

Anyway without further adieu...

Every year it gets harder and harder for me to wait to start listening to Christmas music.  I know, I know.  There are some of you out there who just cringed.  But the fact is that I love Christmas music.  It's not that I don't appreciate other holidays.  Scott and I had a great time getting dressed up and going out on Halloween.  And I LOVE Thanksgiving.  In fact, I've come to appreciate Thanksgiving more than Christmas.  There's less stress, less pressure, less disappointment on Thanksgiving.  That being said, as soon as November 1st arrives, I'm ready for my Christmas tunes.  I mean, it's not like they even HAVE Thanksgiving music.

I saw this on Facebook:

This is the truth.  The music stations on DirecTV add a Christmas channel.  Hallmark starts showing Christmas movies, and the season of love, joy, and peace begins!  

Scott is not a huge fan of Christmas music, so unfortunately, I did not get to listen to Christmas music on our way home from our Halloween night out.  

In my family growing up, my dad would start to play Christmas music on November 1st, and that was when we would start watching Christmas movies together.  Last year, I walked into my parents' home, and my brother immediately asked me to name the first Christmas album that each of us would pick to play when the season begins.  

It was pretty easy to do.  Here are my family's go-to first-album-of-the-season Christmas albums.
(Let me also be clear that these are all albums we originally listened to on RECORDS.  :)  A few years ago, my dad transferred all of the albums to CDs so now I can take them anywhere. )

Me: The Beach Boys Christmas Album

I do actually have this on a CD my dad didn't make.  It includes bonus tracks with songs that were not from this album originally and remakes of some of the original songs.  I will not lie: I usually stop listening after the original album's concluding song: "Auld Lang Syne."

My brother, David: Merry Snoopy's Christmas

I always tease him and say that this isn't really a Christmas album because there are "unChristmasy" songs on it.  But that doesn't mean I love it any less.  

Mom: Kenny Rogers: Christmas

This is another one of my favorites.  Hearing the beginning notes of the first song on the album always make my heart leap because it really feels like Christmas!

Dad: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols

I certainly can't say that I don't enjoy any of these albums.  I love them all!  They always remind me of Christmases growing up.  We would play them while we decorated for Christmas and on Christmas many good memories.

This does not mean that I don't look for new music to listen to!  Over the past few years, I've downloaded two Glee Christmas albums and Kelly Clarkson's new album last year.  This year, I added two more albums to my collection.

Idina Menzel- Holiday Wishes


Because, um, yeah.  Have you heard her sing?!

Michael W. Smith- The Spirit of Christmas

This is a really cool album because Michael collaborates with a bunch of other artists!  Michael W. Smith is a Christian music performer who has been making albums for YEARS.  He has a unique voice that I've always loved, and I've always had a crush on him!  If you haven't heard any of his music before, I suggest starting with his Christmas albums.  :)

So...what's your go-to Christmas album?  Have you added anything new to your collection this year?

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Third Annual Great Pumpkin Swap: REVEAL!

I don't know about you, but I love getting mail.  I have always loved getting mail, and mail is even better when it's a package full of goodies!  For this, and so many other reasons, I'm so glad that I got to host the Great Pumpkin Swap with Kristin again this year!

Last year, we had an odd number of participants, and Kristin graciously took on a second partner.  We had an odd number again this year, and I took a second partner this time.  That just made things EXTRA exciting since I had two packages to look forward to!

My first partner is Ann from Annster's Domain.  I loved Ann's enthusiasm for the swap.  As it turns out, Ann is also from PA, and she's not too far from my little town since she lives near Pittsburgh!  

Isn't this a great box of treats?  Here's what's in there:
1. Orange Halloween/Fall lights (These arrived in the nick of time.  One of the sets I have to decorate my classroom burned out while I was decorating during the first few days of October.  These lights have taken up residence on the white board at the back of my classroom!)
2. Scarf
3. Halloween socks 
4. A bag of Reese's Minis
5. Caramel Apple Twizzlers
6. Nail polish
7. Gushers
8. Caramel Apple Lollipops
9. Ghirardelli Chocolate minis- Milk Chocolate Sea Salt & Almond

SOOOOO good.

Thanks for a great box of treats, Ann!  Be sure to visit her blog today to see what I sent in her swap package!  :)

I also got to be partners with Micah from Unabashedly Me.  

Here's this box of goodies:

There is a box of tea, an infinity scarf, purple Halloween BOOT SOCKS, Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins, and an Essie nail polish you can't see from the photo.

I immediately fell in love with this scarf.  I posted a picture of it on Instagram, and stated that I would probably wear it the following day.

I did.

And dear Lord, please ignore my disaster of a bedroom in the background.  I need to find a better place to take these pictures....
And, of course, be sure to stop by to visit Micah today to see what was in the package I sent her!!

I can't wait to see everyone's goodies!  Please link-up with us below! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stuff & Things: Things I Don't Get...

I'm linking up with Kristin this week for Stuff and Things!  This week, I'm writing about things I don't get...

These boots....

I'm sorry.  I don't mean for this to be offensive, but those bottom ones just look trashy to me.  I really don't get the point.  Where I come from, it gets cold and we get snow.  These boots are in no way practical.  I mean, who are these for?  Are these for people in warm climates who want to wear boots but it's too hot to do so?  I don't know.  When it's hot here, we just wear flip flops....

"Cool Iron"
This just annoys me when I read it on clothing care tags.  Let's be honest.  The whole purpose of an iron is to get wrinkles out of clothes.  This doesn't really seem to work if the iron is cool.  I don't know about you, but I can barely get the wrinkles out of my clothes when it's hot....

Clock time...
Lately, I've been seeing the same time on the clock almost all of the time.  I almost always catch the clock when the time is 9:11.  I think that's weird.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Is this supposed to be some sort of sign?

What are some things that you don't get?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: Four: A Divergent Story Collection

While I was listening to Eat, Pray, Love in the car on my way to work, I finished reading Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth.  

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling DIVERGENT series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—THE TRANSFER, THE INITIATE, THE SON, and THE TRAITOR—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the DIVERGENT trilogy.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what the obsession is with releasing prequels after a series has been released, but in this case, I think it actually makes sense.

Four is cleverly titled for not only it's four short stories which take place prior to Divergent, but for it's main character Tobias, whose nickname is Four. It gives us more background into his character and the choices HE made which led him to Dauntless.

I really enjoyed reading about Four's journey to Dauntless and reading his point-of-view as his story collides with Tris' story in Divergent. Since Allegiant is written from the point-of-view of BOTH Four and Tris, I liked getting to read from Four's perspective in this book.

View all my reviews

If you are a fan of the Divergent series, I would certainly recommend picking up this book!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

I was so flattered when Jenni from Living for the Victories nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award!

How It Works: 
I post 11 facts about myself.
I answer 11 questions asked by Jenni.
I nominate 11 bloggers that I love.
I list 11 questions for them to answer. 

Not to be a party pooper at all, but I have been honored enough to have done a couple of these awards before.  I would be nominating almost all of the same people, so I'm going to skip the nominations and additional 11 questions.

11 Facts About Me
1. While I do love my summer vacation, I secretly love fall a little bit more.  Here in PA it's such a beautiful time of year, and I really do love snuggling up in warm clothes and blankets.  (P.S. Stay tuned for a post about PA seasons coming to the blog soon!)
2. I love Christmas music and movies.  As soon as the weather gets cooler and it starts to get darker earlier, I want to indulge in all things Christmas.  BUT I force myself to wait until November 1st before I let the festivities begin.
3. Contrary to what you may think based on fact #2, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I think I like the anticipation of Christmas more than the actual day itself now that I'm an adult.  There's less pressure for Thanksgiving to be this magical day like Christmas.  Thanksgiving is just about a good meal.  And thanks....
4. I realized the other day that I have four boyfriend cardigans from Old Navy in four different colors, obviously.  Because of this, I could essentially wear the same outfit but in a different color for four days of the work week and then wear jeans for dress down day.
School picture day & happy first day of fall, y'all! ����

You can see the top of this outfit from school picture day.  I also have this cardi in a light blue, black, and pink.  The outfit also consists of leggings, boots, and a scarf.

5. I love the movie Pitch Perfect.  
6. I'm pretty sure I suck at writing book reviews.  I love reading, and I enjoy sharing book reviews with all of you, but I always have lots to say and either forget or don't know exactly how to say it.  Still, I'll keep sharing anyway.
7. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 91.  I recently memorized it.  I've always loved this passage, and it just feels good to know it by heart.
8. I have a Pottermore account, and I probably haven't been on it in over a year.  It's mostly because I don't have time, and probably a little bit because I was sorted into Slytherin....
9. I am so tired of trying to come up with something for dinner or having to actually make dinner.  I need a personal chef....and a maid.
10. Lately, even when I'm feeling tired, I can't seem to close the social media and just go to bed.
11. I am a voice teacher.  I currently have two voice students, and they both have practically the same name: Isabelle and Isabella.  Not at all confusing.  
Jenni's Questions for Me
1. Who is your favourite Disney character, and why?
I can't just pick one!  Cinderella is definitely my favorite princess and always has been!  I think it's the whole rags to riches thing that makes me love her.  I also love Mary Poppins.  I mean, she's a singing, magical nanny.  What's not to love? 
2. What is one thing you wish you were better at?
Housekeeping.  I can't seem to ever convince myself that my disaster of a house is worth my time and energy.  Nor can I figure out how to balance keeping it clean while going to the work, the gym, making dinner, etc. etc. etc.
3. What was your favourite TV show when you were a child?
I had to think pretty hard about this one.  I had a variety of shows that I really liked, but Full House came to mind first.  I am about the same age as the middle daughter, Stephanie, and I basically grew up with her.  ABC had a pretty awesome line-up on their TGIF set on Friday nights.  Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers and eventually, Step by Step.
4. Who was your first celebrity crush? How old were you?
My first celebrity crush was Michael J. Fox.  I think I was seriously 3 or 4.  We used to watch Family Ties, and I loved Alex P. Keaton.  I don't remember how, but somehow, I acquired a poster of him, too!
5. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
Oh, that's a tough one.  There are so many places in the world that I want to see.  England and Ireland are at the top of my list.  So I'll go with those!
6. Have you ever won a competition of any kind?
I have won many competitions, actually.  Most of them involved singing, and I also won competitions in forensics (Speech League).  One of my proudest moments was when our high school choir competed at Busch Gardens in Virginia, and I won Outstanding Soloist!
7. What is your favourite snack?
The better question is what isn't my favorite snack.  BUT some of my tops are cookies, Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars with peanut butter, and Queso with tortilla chips.
8. Share a favourite photo or yourself. What's the story behind it?

This is a recent photo from our summer vacation in Nashville, TN.  We were on Broadway at a bar called Tootsie's, and I snapped this selfie while Scott was in the restroom.  
9. Who is your favourite music artist?
Goodness, another category with SO many choices.  The Beatles are still my all-time favorites, but I do love country music and Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert are at the top of my list.
10. What makes you feel most alive?
Singing and/or performing.  I love being on stage.
11. Do you have any pets? If not, do you want any?
I do have two cats named Allie and Abbie.  :)

Thanks again, Jenni for including me in your nominations!  :)

If anyone out there wants to join in on the fun, I'd love to read your answers to Jenni's questions!  You can share them in the comments below or write a post of your own!

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