Month: August 2013

What I read: July 2013

I did a terrible job of reading in July, and I have no excuses. I really don’t know why I didn’t read more. But here’s a look at the two books I did read:

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (paperback, 512 pages). Four of five stars. This is the second time I’ve picked up a Spanish-language novel (the first being The Map of Time) and gotten sucked into a story that’s thoroughly bizarre and thoroughly entrancing. Maybe I need to look up more Spanish authors? Anyway–the story is set in 1945 Barcelona and has the moody patina of a vintage noir film; the narration is excellent and really brings the city and the characters to life in vivid color. A bookseller’s son named Daniel comes into the possession of a mysterious novel and finds himself on a collision course with a man who wants to destroy the book. Soon their fates become seemingly intertwined, with their separate stories of love and intrigue mirroring each other.

This book is a weird hybrid of horror, suspense and mystery. It has some pretty heavy themes of fate, death, obsession, revenge and redemption and it is very dark–and I do mean very dark. This seems to be a theme with European books and film, but I think I might prefer it to the American way of wrapping everything up with a bow and a happy ending. You might like it if you like books like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (paperback, 372 pages). Four of five stars. Hosseini’s books are full of brutal moments and they are not beach reads, by a long shot. But he’s an excellent writer and this story of two young boys growing up in pre-Soviet Afghanistan is hard to put down. I’ve noticed that people love to hit Hosseini over the head in reviews for being melodramatic but, um, that’s kind of the genre, is it not? I will say, though, that his books should come with trigger warnings for survivors of abuse, assault, and/or war trauma–he puts his characters through some pretty bad stuff. Just an FYI.

What have you read lately? Don’t forget to get in touch with me on Goodreads!

Product review: Real Purity Duo Eyeshadow

Disclosure: This product was provided for consideration; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.

Today I’ve got a truly lovely makeup product to share with you! Real Purity contacted me last week and they very kindly sent me one of their Duo Eyeshadows to review. If you’ve never heard of them, I suggest hopping over to their website and browsing around; they’re one of the original “eco” brands, producing colorful mineral makeup since the late ’80s right here in the U.S.! All of their products are natural and never tested on animals, and in addition to color cosmetics they offer hair and skin care designed to be as gentle and natural as possible.

Okay, on to the review!

The product: Real Purity Duo Eyeshadow, $16 through their website

The claim: A natural product to enhance your eyes without harsh chemicals or artificially obtained colors.

Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxide, Organica Silica, Vitamin E, Pycnogenol. 

Ingredient notes: Real Purity products do not contain nano particles, GMOs, synthetic fragrances and dyes, or other harsh chemicals–they’re truly green mineral products and better yet, they’re all made in the USA. Real Purity does not test their products on animals and these eyeshadows are free of any animal ingredients such as carmine, so they’re also vegan-friendly.

I tried it: Whenever I get a new eyeshadow I first like to swatch it on my arm, so I have a good idea of the color payoff and the texture of the product. This duo swatched like a dream; the shadows are buttery soft and highly pigmented, and there’s no chalkiness, patchiness or fallout. They also have great staying power; even after I rubbed my hand across the swatch, it didn’t budge.

Both of these shadows are matte pressed powders; you can apply them with either a sponge applicator or a brush, though I preferred the brush. The Mocha Brown is a great medium matte brown with a warmer tone that would look great on any eye color or skin tone. It is extremely pigmented and a little goes a very long way–that’s a single swipe you’re seeing in my swatch!

I circled the Vanilla swatch because you can barely see it against my skin! Am I the only one who feels like Goldilocks when swatching “skin tone” shadows? This one is too light; this one is too dark. This one is too sparkly; this one is a matte but it’s chalky. Well, this Vanilla is the perfect matte for creating neutral lids or for blending out the edges of a more colorful eye, and it isn’t sparkly, sheer, or chalky at all. Hey presto! I’ve met my match! Like the Mocha Brown, it’s highly pigmented but not dusty looking in the least.

The packaging is a black plastic jar with a screw-on clear lid. I like the look and feel of the packaging; you get a pretty large amount of product and the jar is large enough to easily hold while applying makeup, but there’s none of the bulky packaging of a compact taking up room in your makeup bag. I also like that it has a screw-on lid versus a hinged lid; it seems like either the lids are too loose (hello, mess) or too tight and it’s hard to open them! I’ve broken more than one nail trying to pry open my small eyeshadows!

My eyes have been really sensitive lately and even my usual cosmetics have been irritating my eyes, but these didn’t bother me at all. The longevity is wonderful–my eye makeup still looked fresh after several hours of wear, with no creasing, fading or smearing.

I used this shadow duo to create a simple neutral eye look today. I used the Mocha Brown shadow all over the lid and along the bottom lash line as a liner, and used the Vanilla shade to blend out the edges for a softer finish:

Here’s a close-up of my eyes. I love how this shade intensifies the green in my eyes!

My final thoughts: I love this duo! It’s so hard to find good mattes and I feel like this duo really scores 100% in terms of color, texture and consistency. The fact that it’s also vegan and natural just seals the deal. I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say this is the best powder shadow I’ve tried all year, and now I’m glad that I’ve held off on building up my powder shadow collection, because I definitely see myself purchasing some of the other duo and single shadow shades this fall!

Disclosure: This product was provided for consideration; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.


Random Thursday: Things that help me relax…

Probably the most relaxing thing for me is a nice long shower with my favorite scented body wash, body lotion, and nice scented candles. Not to go all New Age here, but aromatherapy is really underrated. Whenever I’m stressed out, especially if I can’t sleep, this really does the trick to make me unwind and relax.

Other things that help me relax:

  • Cuddling with my kitties
  • Looking at LOLs on Pinterest
  • A cup of hot tea
  • Lazing around with a good book and a blanket

If it’s not so much a matter of unwinding but rather a lot of nervous energy or anger, I need to do something physical to release all that stress. It can be a full-blown deep cleaning of the house or a huge hike–getting out and getting moving really seems to work to drain away the tension, both mentally and physically.

What helps you relax? Leave me a comment and let me know!