March Book of the Month

Book of the Month is starting to become one of my favorite subscriptions. I love having new releases on my radar – it’s not something I’d paid attention to before! I’d gotten so used to the books I knew I loved and to trudging through my high fantasy series that I’d stopped noticing new literature.


This month’s selections weren’t as wildly appealing to me as February’s, but that was just fine; I considered skipping, but decided instead to pick one new book and a couple from my wishlist that 1) has the longest waitlist at the Nashville Public Library and 2) isn’t even available at the library, and is retailing for more on Amazon.

The new book I chose is Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, which was released on March 7th.

When Nadia and Saeed fall in love in a distant unnamed city, they are just like any other young couple. But soon bullets begin to fly, fighter jets streak the sky, and curfews fall. As the spell of violence spreads, they flee their country, leaving behind their loved ones. Early in Exit West, the author Mohsin Hamid explains that geography is destiny, and in the case of his two young lovers, geography dictates that they must leave. Hamid offers up a fantastical device to deliver his refugees to places: they pass through magic doors. Rather than unmooring the story from reality, this device, as well as a few other fantastical touches, makes the book more poignant and focused, pointing our attention to the emotions of exile rather than the mechanics. Surrounded by other refugees, Nadia and Saeed try to establish their places in the world, putting up different responses to their circumstances. The result is a novel that is personal, not pedantic, an intimate human story about an experience shared by countless people of the world, one that most Americans just witness on television. –Chris Schluep , The Amazon Book Review

My other two choices were $9.99 add-ons with my subscription, both of which were released in Summer 2016: Sci-fi thriller Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, which I’m honestly nervous about reading. It contains a love story between an abused teen raised around meth labs and an adult man, so I may not get through it (this could also be why the book isn’t currently available at the library!).

You can use this link to get your first three months with Book of the Month for $10 a month (vs. the standard $16)!

10 Skincare Favorites (Right Now!)

I love skincare. I love trying new moisturizers and serums and anxiously awaiting the product that will allow me to wake up to a face radiant enough to blind my peers. I receive new samples and pick up new products constantly, and am not nearly as responsible as I should be about waiting a decent amount of time to 1) see if a product really truly works on its own and 2) make sure it doesn’t break me out. I get too excited and I don’t have the fortitude to type out a spreadsheet of sample trial dates. That being said, this is my current official routine of tried & true products I use consistently and recommend. 

  • SimySkin Micro Exfoliating Toner ($30) – I received this toner last August in a BeautyDNA box (no longer accepting subscriptions). I don’t entirely buy into the “toning” step of a skincare routine, but this toner is so worth the money. I use it twice a day most days, or only in the morning if I feel like my skin is extra sensitive. It contains 10% glycolic acid along with lactic acid & salicylic acid. I’ve been using the SimySkin toner for 8 months now and I’m only halfway through the bottle! 
  • Pearlessence Cucumber Water Hydrating Face Mist ($20, or $7 at TJ Maxx!) – I impulsively grabbed this at TJ Maxx here in Nashville after noticing the beautiful glass bottle & packaging that looks astonishingly like the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist, but for a fraction of the price! The ingredients aren’t exactly the same, but they both are alcohol-free and contain coconut water, aloe leaf juice, and witch hazel. I especially love keeping these sprays in the refrigerator during the summer for an extra refreshing burst of moisture. 
  • Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($46) – I have been using this serum for almost a year now and it has consistently saved my skin. I try so many serums in search for something “better”, whatever that means. But if I sleep in my makeup, or have a hormonal acne flare up, or try a product that breaks me out or turns my cheeks red, this is the serum I always come back to to calm things down and bring my skin back to normal. However, like with all skincare, your mileage may vary – the Midnight Recovery Concentrate gives my mom a rash, which is a great reminder to ~always patch test your skincare~. 

  • Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker Retinoid Eye Repair ($68) –  Another skincare product I don’t really believe in is eye cream, so I certainly wouldn’t have paid $68 for one, but through a serendipitous event over the holidays, this full-sized eye cream came by mistake in a package I ordered from Sephora. The consistency is my favorite of any of the eye creams I’ve tried and it absorbs quickly. I don’t have crow’s feet yet but by the grace of this Philosophy eye cream, hopefully they’ll be kept away for a few more years. 
  • By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Balm ($60) – I am savoring every last drop of this deluxe sample I received in February’s BeautyFix. It is luxe and makes my lips feel moist and full for hours. I love the soft rose scent and frosted glass packaging. The weak, easily manipulated girl in me desperately wants to shell out the $60 for the full size, but I know better. The one aspect keeping me away is that I don’t like my skin care products packaged in tubs or jars – I feel like it’s less hygienic than tubes or pumps. This lip balm really is incredible, though. 
  • Julep No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel ($28) – This product is aptly named, as it is the first facial sunscreen I’ve found that invalidates any of my excuses for not wearing sunscreen responsibly (which means every single day, rain or shine). The gel is clear and applies smoothly, like primer. It leaves no white cast whatsoever and has only a faint scent. I have always hated sunscreen on my face and avoided it when I can, but Julep’s No Excuses is the best I’ve found. The only con is the need to reapply every couple of hours (but I think that’s the case with every sunscreen). 

  • Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser ($22) – This cleanser came at the perfect time in my Dermstore BeautyFix box last November. I had been using Kiehl’s Oil-Free Ultra Facial Cleanser, but the “oil free” aspect was stripping my skin & making it a little too squeaky clean. This cleanser from Juice Beauty is for oily/combination/blemish-prone skin, but it’s gentle & doesn’t leave a raw sensation after use. It’s also cruelty-free, organic, and Gwyneth Paltrow is the company’s Creative Director, so I’m into it. 
  • Julep Love Your Bare Face Hydrating Cleansing Oil ($28) – I don’t use traditional makeup remover (like, ever) so double cleansing is a necessity for me. For those who may be unfamiliar: first you apply an oil cleanser to dry skin and massage it in for 30 seconds or so, then rinse with warm water and follow with your usual cleanser. If you struggle with dry skin, an oil cleanser may be exactly what you need. I’ve tried quite a few cleansing oils, and while I also really love the oils from Shiseido , Tatcha, and Erno Laszlo, I think Julep’s is great (it smells like oranges!) and I will use up the bottle before purchasing a new brand (which will probably be the Shiseido – it’s the most affordable of my options and still offers good results).  
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($12) – If you only buy one moisturizer for the rest of your life, make it this one. I have bottles and tubs of body lotions & butters, I have an entire drawer (small drawer!) full of facial moisturizer samples, but nothing for either compares to First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. I’m a huge First Aid Beauty fan anyway – they’re cruelty-free, budget-friendly, and all of their products are great for people with sensitive skin. My favorite thing about this specific moisturizer is that it works just as well on my face as it does on my arms and legs, so realistically I could throw out all of my other lotions (but I’m too weak for that). The only (seriously, only) downside is that I always buy the travel-size tube because the full size comes in a tub. 
  • ORG Skincare Organic Mineral Peel for Face ($44) – Last but certainly not least is the O.R.G. Mineral Peel I received in my Winter FabFitFun box. I had been using Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel, but it stuck like glue to all my teeny facial hairs and I’d rub my face raw trying to scrub it off. The ORG Peel is a spray on exfoliator and it couldn’t be more user-friendly. After cleansing, you spray it onto dry skin and wait three seconds before rubbing it in in circular motions. You’ll immediately feel your dead skin coming off in little granules beneath your fingers (gross but cool). When you feel nice and scrubbed, splash your face with warm water (it should come off easily!) and voila! You have silky smooth skin. 
So that’s what I’m using right now! I have day serums and morning moisturizers and various other products I’m incorporating, but I don’t know that any of those are making enough of a difference to write home about. These 10 products really do live up to the hype & really do save my poor skin from all the product-sampling and accidental-makeup-sleeping I put it through. 

March Check-in & Small Goals

I am so glad it’s March, my heart could almost burst. I’m alarmed by how quickly time flies, but for this brief moment, I’m happy about it. I have seventeen weeks of school left!!! Seventeen weeks until I have my weekends back, until I can travel, until I can focus fully on work and spend my free time doing any frivolous thing I desire.

currently reading: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy
currently lusting: Affordable skincare goodies from the Ordinary
currently planning: Booking.com is my new favorite travel site to play on; I love being able to sort search results by price & review simultaneously. I also keep daydreaming about our sweet little Montreal hotel, Auberge le Pomerol

Now let’s review my February Small Goals!
  • Low-buy/No-buy of makeup and clothes | Yikes. You may already know how that went due to my post here discussing recent purchases. (Spoiler: It went terribly)
  • Make time to exercise | Truth? I bombed this one big time, too. I worked out a total of zero times over the entire month. I even wasted an entire paid month of Classpass!
  • Pack my lunch | One success, thank goodness! Other than my sweet parents gifting me a Postmates gift card for Valentine’s Day (they know me so well), I didn’t order any food delivery. I ate out here & there, but nothing over-the-top, and I was pretty responsible about packing my lunches.
  • Finish a book | I accomplished this one, too! I finished Behind Her Eyes from my February Book of the Month box. It was engaging and easy to read, with dynamically written characters that I mostly cared about. SPOILER, KIND OF: I just wish it had been marketed as a supernatural thriller rather than a psychological thriller, which would’ve made the twists much less disappointing & more in-line with reader expectations. 

For March, I’m not entirely sure what my goals should be. I feel a little discouraged by only fulfilling half of February’s, and overwhelmed by the prospect of everything that will be going on throughout the month. I think I’m going to focus on building up the habits I’ve already started working toward. 
  • Read a chapter a night
  • Practice French every morning with my coffee
  • Go on a walk once a week
  • Watch one video for school every day
  • Wait 24 hours before making any purchase
Hopefully these aren’t too lofty and can be worked into my super cramped schedule. They’re also all things I really want to accomplish and habits I want to craft for the long-term.