April Birchbox

Hey, let's talk about the April Birchbox!

This month my box was full of organic and natural goodies.

For instance, I received this little sample of dirt. Luxe Salt Scrub in Lemon Leaf. It smells divine and some of the little exfoliating beads are actually raspberry seeds! I read somewhere that everything in the ingredients list is from the earth (sea salt, avocado oil, the aforementioned raspberry seeds, etc.), so you could even eat it, if you wanted to. I tried a little...very salty. But I bet it leaves skin feeling extra smooth!

I'm very excited about the amika: Obliphica Nourishing Hair Mask. Since my hair's long and quite dry, I try to keep it as healthy by avoiding styling tools as much as I can and using ultra-rich moisturizing products. Masks are a great way to give my hair a boost of shine and suppleness - this one's got vitamins and oils that do just that.

Inside the box of Befine skincare products (a box within a box!) were two packets of Gentle Cleanser and three packets of Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. The cleanser is really thin and watery - it kind of gets everywhere, but maybe that's a problem with the fact that I'm using a packet. I'm curious what it would be like out of the regular packaging. But otherwise it sudses nicely and left my skin feeling clean and not tight. The moisturizer is rich and doesn't smell too much like SPF. It's only very slightly greasy; mostly it just feels like a super-hydrating lotion.

Getting makeup in my box is always a treat and I really love the Vapour Siren Lipstick sample in Intuition. It goes on fairly sheer (which is nice for everyday wear), but still with lots of color. A second coat makes it pop.

Finally, I got two bags of fancy Parisian tea - Le Palais des Thés. The blend, Thé du Hammam, is slightly fruity green with a hint of something almost vanilla-y. I had it hot in the picture below, but I think it would also be pretty good iced. (Please note the Vapour lipstick stain on the mug.)

Want your own box? If you use this link below to sign up, I'll get some points, good toward products from the Birchbox store, and I'll be forever your friend.


Already getting a box? What did you find in yours this month?


Bachelorette Tea Time!

Yesterday I had the honor of celebrating my friend Liz. She's getting married on Saturday(!) to a marvelous man who is whisking her off to Omaha and away from the coffee-walked streets of Cincinnati. I will miss her. So...

We had a tea party.

And it was lovely.

Not a big tea-drinker here - I tend to think tea no more than hot flavored water (I suppose coffee is also technically this as well, but I firmly believe that something transcendental happens in the coffee pot to turn water and coffee grounds into another magical property altogether. ANYWAYS.), but I was pleasantly surprised with the interesting and fresh flavors of the tea we had at Essencha Tea House. Also the little courses were yummy, too.

For the first course, I had a warm and crumbly green tea scone with clotted cream and jam. Delicious clotted cream, where have you been all my life? I didn't get a picture before it was gone, but I thought my plate was artfully crumbed.

Then, tea sandwiches and salad.

Finished off with a triple-chocolate brownie which also didn't get a pic, because it was gone in a flash.

Of the six teas we ordered, I tried the Vanilla, Walnut and the Earl Grey a la Creme.

And now a couple more shots of the lovely Liz and her guests, including some from the after-party (I contributed Miniature Camembert Walnut Pastries). 

A fabulous day spent with a friend who is truly loved and will be truly missed!


Matthew 5:44

What do you do when you get angry? 

Do you yell? Are you a crier? 

When someone wrongs you do you tell them? Or do you bottle it up and just let the anger fester? Maybe you can't tell them, maybe it wouldn't be right, maybe they won't listen. What do you do then? Go to God? Pray for that person? 

Yes. And yes.

And then make pasta.

A big, heaping plate full of pasta in a creamy white sauce. With some juicy, bright peas thrown in for good measure.

Oh, and this helps, too.


Her Fearful Symmetry - A Little Review

I finished a book last night.

I started this one while spread out in a beach chair, lounging under palm trees. Ah, Hawaii.

It's taken me longer than is good for my reading challenge to finish it (I'm a book behind), but now it's done and here's what I thought:

I liked the characters.

But I think the plot started out kind of half-baked and then wasn't developed as fully as I would expect from an experienced author. Also, there were times that I felt like I knew what the author was thinking or trying to do while she wrote which is a little off-putting. I want to be able to completely get lost in the characters and the story and not have the author's shadow hanging over. I remember feeling like that in The Time Traveler's Wife, too.

So, I really enjoyed the first part of the book - getting to know the interesting characters and the mysterious plot set-up. But by the last third, my interest was dwindling and the resolution didn't match the build-up, which was a little unsatisfying. I'm going with a generous three out of five stars.

Now! The question is what to read next. And you get to choose! Of the books below, which would you read? (Click on the title below each image to find out more about the book - maybe you'll want to read one, too!)


The Writing Life

The Good Husband

The Kitchen God's Wife


How can friendship be the means by which [I] expose people to the Gospel?

I wrote this for a class I'm taking with my church, as a response to the above question. 

And I'm feeling very convicted and squirmy by what I wrote.

Right now I feel like I've neglected my friendships for selfish and vain things. That's just real talk, I guess. But I wanted to post this as a challenge to myself, and to anyone else who might need it, to not forsake building into relationships. My friends are treasures, the truest evidence in my life that God provides for my every need. 

Robin Griteman 
Porterbrook Unit 1 assignment 

I like to surround myself with friends. I need friends to be happy, to thrive. I need to see and spend time with my friends regularly. But since I’m a super-relational person, I also need deep relationships with my friends. 

I remember when I first moved to Cincinnati. I joined a community group first thing, because I knew that that was the best place to start to find new friends. I liked my group straight off. What I didn’t like was the wait, the longing for time to speed up to the point where we were all close enough to know where the glasses are kept in each other’s kitchen, to sit on the couch for hours just listening to music together, to not have to second-guess everything I say. I wanted that so badly it hurt. Of course I knew I wasn’t going to make those kind of connections instantly, but the wait ahead seemed so long, and what if no one actually liked me 
or wanted to be my friend? 

The end of that sob story is that God has blessed me with fantastic friends and relationships among those in my community group. Turns out people were in the same boat as me – they just wanted some good friends, but no one really knew how to start. But once someone reached out, there was no stopping us.

So, “how can friendship be the means by which [I] expose people to the Gospel”? 

Let’s see. I think people have a desire to be known by others – known deeply. God knows us this way – after all, He created us. And Jesus died for us - there is no greater love. When I’m hurting from feeling lonely, I’m comforted by the knowledge of my Savior’s intimate love for me. But it’s kind of out of focus. It’s being blurred by my unchecked emotions and self-pity and pride. When a friend comes alongside me and says, “I see you. I want to know you. I want to walk with you through this,” they reflect the Gospel image of Jesus as the truest of friends and I know Him more deeply than if I were walking alone.

People are coming to the church looking, hungering for this very thing that God can use me to reflect. I agree with the Porterbrook book that “It is here, among God’s people, that true friendship is to be modeled and experienced.” Jesus is the ultimate answer to that need for a “Me, too!” moment, that “moment of identification at an intimate and personal level.” My friendships with people within and outside of the church should be pointing to Christ, and my prayer to continually grow “more like the friend my Savior is.” 


Girl Things

Now this is a trend I can get behind. I'm not a skinny-bracelet kind of girl - I love a bangle, and the thicker the better. So now that it's "in" to stack bangles (at least, it's all over Pinterest), I'm having fun coming up with different combinations from my extensive collection. The thin ones above came in a set of three from Target, the larger cuff is from a boutique in Chicago and the shell-inlay one my mom gave to me, I think from the Loft. Anyway it's all very trendy and exciting.

Also trendy and exciting is the accent nail. Have you heard of this/tried it yourself? I was a little wary at first, but after seeing it on some real, live friends of mine, I decided to go for it - but subtly, you know? I went with a slightly shimmery mocha brown (an old Rimmel polish called Twilight from who knows when) on all my nails except the ring finger on each hand. That one got a coat of OPI DS Classic, which is "an elegant shimmer of golden beige," according to OPI. Whatever. I think it turned out pretty well. The hygienist at my dentist's office complimented me at length on my nails last night, so that's got to count for something, right?

(Thanks to Beth for the awesome photog skillz.)


Links I Like

Here are some things that have brought me much laughter, enjoyment and fascination. I think you should check them out:

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do - All the writers say "Yeah!"

How to Survive a 10-Hour Flight Like a Lady - Could have used this for my trip last month. Especially the thing about the glasses. Almost had a meltdown.

The Scale of the Universe 2 - I can just get lost in this. So interesting!

This list of things that Joy the Baker has compiled for how to be upon turning 21 - I'm not 21 anymore, but these are good things to remember as I navigate my 20s anyway. Specifically, I need to work on 2, 4, 11 and always 20. But I think I have 9 mastered. And also 5.

And oh my gosh, this. I have always loved Jimmy Fallon. And my love grows fonder still. I may have once said, "Justin Timberlake needs to get a life,"and I may still think that, but I cannot help but laugh hysterically as these two goof off.

Last, I just love this photo:

I want to try to make that happen with Stella, but I'm pretty sure she's not interested.


The Sicknesses

Word up. I've been out of it.

About five days ago, after a trip to the urgent care, I made my way home from Walgreens with bottles of ear drops, amoxicillin, Tylenol with codeine, antihistamines, naproxen and a packet of Wal-Phed. Oh, and an ear infection. Who gets an ear infection at age 27, I ask you?

This after having a cough-due-to-cold complete with an off-and-on fever for three days the week prior.

And that after having the debilitating flu two weeks before.

But - I'm rallying now! Still can't hear properly and also now enjoying dizzy spells from inner-ear weirdness, but I'm determined to be on the mend.

Please feel free to send me get-well chocolates. I will also accept get-well cash.


It's Monday night and I'm feeling thankful.

God's been good to me. Here's how:
  • A trip to Chicago to see and spend time with dear, dear friends in a place that's home.
  • The time spent with those friends being like a balm to my soul...I mean, it was just what I needed.
  • Downton Abbey re-runs on Netflix.
  • A cozy bed and kitty to come home to and be my shelter from last nights storms.
  • A full and busy Monday at work.
  • Time to spend reading and soaking in the amazing spring weather in Eden Park during lunch.
  • An interesting book.
  • A new episode of Gossip Girl.
  • My favorite frozen pizza, enjoyed after a crazy new workout.
  • A quiet night.
  • Being merciful to me when I've been wrong, neglectful, selfish and vain.
  • Never running out of mercy.
  • Giving me the chance to be thankful again tomorrow.

Now, you be thankful, too!