Books On My To-Read List #2

I made another “books on my to-read list” post early in December and figured I’d do another one now that I’ve had time to read more. I don’t know if some of you share my passion for reading, but I definitely couldn’t live without it. And you can follow me on GoodReads if you want.

The Princess Bride // Alex Cross, Run // Firefly Lane
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The Name of the Wind // The Eye of the World // Little Women
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And, like I did last time, I want to recommend some of the recent books I’ve been reading. I read almost constantly, and right now fantasy and romance are at the top of my list – well, that is almost always the case except for a few forays into mystery, crime, or nonfiction. Out of the six books below, number one and three are my favorites. I have read the Clan of the Cave Bear series over and over again until I know it by heart, but it never gets old. And Dear John brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

The Clan of the Cave Bear // The Maze Runner // Dear John
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Safe Haven // City of Bones // Divergent
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Let me know if you want me to keep posting this every other month or so, and feel free to leave book recommendations of your own. My to-read list can never get too long!

Skin Care Products

Now that spring is right around the corner (yeah, I’m being optimistic), I’m sure we all want our skin to look it’s best for when it’s time to wear shorts and t-shirts again. I always feel better about myself when my skin looks nice and I don’t have to use tons of makeup to cover up my blemishes – and I’m probably not the only one. Here are a few great, and affordable, products that I really, really love (because I hate that some of these products often cost more than your entire spring wardrobe). I also feel like I should mention that I have what’s called “normal skin” (not especially oily or dry), and that my skin isn’t normally sensitive to any products.

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1 – Neutrogena Body Clear® Body Scrub
I use this exfoliating body scrub every time I shower. Mostly on my back and face, or any other “problem area”. It’s no overnight miracle cure for acne, but I have seen good results after using it for several months. My skin feels smoother and more even, and – although it’s not completely gone – I definitely have less acne than before I started using it. So it is absolutely worth $6 for a bottle that should last you a couple of months.

2 – The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream
This is probably my favorite out of these six products. I use it every night, and sometimes even in the morning if my skin needs a little extra moisture. The vitamin E helps reduce redness in my face overnight, and my skin is always smooth and soft when I wake up. It also has a good smell that isn’t overpowering; it kind of reminds me of baby products. The only drawback is that this little container costs $20, which might seem like a little much. However, mine is just about empty now, after using it for four months. You only need a little bit of it every night.

3 – Bath & Body Works Intense Moisture Body Butter
I’ve used this lotion for years, and can’t get enough! I’m sure they are all great, but I really love the smell of “Paris Amour”, so that’s the one I keep coming back to. I use it year round (though I also have their regular lotion which is faster to apply, dries faster, and great for when something stronger isn’t needed), but I really love it during the summer because shaving your calves every day tends to make them dry. It is also perfect for your knees, elbows, and other dry areas right after you get out of the shower. Just a tip: Apply it to your feet at night and sleep with socks, it’s amazing!

4 – Banana Boat Self-Tanning Lotion
This doesn’t improve the quality of your skin a whole lot (just makes it slightly softer), but who doesn’t feel sexier with a bit of a tan? I hate all the different types of spray-on tanners (even when done professionally). They are hard to apply and some times look splotchy after a week, instead of coming off evenly. This is just a regular lotion that happen to give your skin a slightly darker color. You should still be sure to get it everywhere, though, and it’s easier if you get someone else to do your back. You can then use it as often as you like – though I stick to a couple times a week – and get the shade you like best. And, best of all, I have never seen it come off my skin in patches. It just wears of gradually. The smell is slightly overwhelming in the beginning, though, even though it’s not very strong.

5 – eos Lip Balm, lemon drop spf 15
I have eos lip balms in just about every color/flavor, but this one is my favorite. It smells delicious, makes my lips feel great, and has a bit of the protection you need on sunny days. It’s only about $3 and I’ve had mine for forever (although that’s also because I have so many of them). And, hey! They also look super cute, right?

6 – eos Hand Lotion
Okay, I have to admit that I haven’t tried this one yet. But I’ve wanted to for a long time, since I’ve heard so many good things about it – I just keep forgetting to get one. I love that it’s small enough to fit in my purse, and if it’s anything like their lip balm it should be great for my hands! And since it’s only $4 I really have to try it out. Let me know how it is if you buy it.

Social Media and Blogging

Blogging has become extremely popular during the last few years, and there are thousands of blogs out there on whatever topic you might like to read about. Because of the large volume of content it is therefore hard to attract readers to one specific blog. So, a lot of people think it’s important to use whatever social media out there to spread their name. Well, here are the three I use most:

Facebook:
– I hardly know anyone between 15 and 50 that doesn’t use facebook almost daily by now, so why not take advantage of it? Create a a page for your blog that people can like.
– Every time I post something on my blog I link to it on my facebook page so that everyone who likes my blog can see that there is an update to read. That way they don’t need to stop by my blog unnecessarily.
– You can also create “photo albums” with your favorite pictures from your blog, that way your readers can easily see them all in one place. I also love good pictures on a blog, so if I find a facebook page with pictures I love I am more likely to stop by the blog itself.
– I do keep my personal facebook profile private, though, which is something I would recommend. Only friends and family can see my information, pictures, and personal updates.
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Instagram:
– Again, I love pictures. So I think instagram is a fun way of sharing updates.
– I normally update my instagram account about once a day (sometimes less) – unless I’m traveling or doing something fun, so that I have more fun pictures to share. I don’t post just for the sake of posting.
– I save pictures I like on my computer to a dropbox folder so that I can use them on my phone.
– I would rather edit my pictures ahead of time instead of using the instagram effects.
– I’ve connected instagram to my facebook page so that people who like my page can see all my updates.
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Twitter:
– I follow family, friends, and bloggers on twitter, so that I can see their personal updates.
– Everything I post to my facebook page is automatically posted to my twitter account.
– I don’t actually use twitter a whole lot, except for sharing my blog updates. But I do think it’s fun for short updates when I’m out traveling, or cute quotes and sayings that you want to share. And my updates also post to my personal facebook page so that I don’t have to update things more than once.
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I think Twitter and Instagram is a fun blog tool for when you don’t have time (or enough content) to write an entire blog post. And if you have a popular blog then I’m sure your readers want to hear from you at all times of the day (don’t ask me why, though). They are also – in addition to your facebook page – a great way to let people know that there is new content on your blog.

Oh! There is also Bloglovin, where you can follow all your favorite blogs – no matter what platform they post from – and get updates whenever they post something new. That way you only have to check one website instead every single blog you read.

10 Tips To Make Your Life Easier

  1. If something takes less than 1 minute to do, don’t postpone it! Put away your coat and scarf as soon as you get home, put your dishes in the dishwasher right away, and clear away things when you’re done using them.
  2. Make a weekly to-do list and do at least one thing every day. Planning ahead makes it easier.
  3. Have a designated cleaning day each week where you take care of big chores like doing laundry and cleaning the house. That way it becomes a habit and a part of your schedule, which makes it easier to get it done.
  4. Cut up vegetables for several crock-pot dinners ahead of time and put them in ziplock bags in the freezer. That way it will take no time at all to prepare a dinner when you get up in the morning.
  5. Have a folder for important papers in a designated spot – include everything from bank papers and car insurance to important letters. I always stress out when I can’t find a bill that I know is due.
  6. Organize your things so you spend less time looking for them. Put a see-through shoe organizer on the inside of your pantry for kitchen gadgets and cleaning supplies, or organize your clothes by color so that it’s easier to find an outfit to wear every morning.
  7. Get rid of clutter in your home. It’s a lot easier to relax when you’re surrounded by clean surfaces.
  8. However, don’t stress out over minor things like your husband leaving his socks on the floor or not putting his plate in the dishwasher. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect at all times (although I know how annoying it can be, hehe).
  9. Always have simple and healthy snacks in the house. That keeps me from digging into a box of ice cream whenever I’m in a bad mood. For example, instead of ice cream, try putting a frozen banana in the blender and adding a bit of cocoa powder.
  10. When you’re getting undressed at night, if your clothes are clean enough to wear again, put them back, if not put them straight in the laundry basket. That way nothing ends up on the floor.

procrastinationI also love this article I found with cute, helpful everyday ideas: 25 clever ideas to make life easier.

Books On My To-Read List

Since Christmas is right around the corner, and we’ll have a little more “me time” coming up, I figured I’d share a few book recommendations with you. Well, I can’t quite recommend them yet since I’m still hoping to read them myself, but different people have told me they are awesome. So I’m hoping to work my way through two or three of these during my vacation. Let me know what you think if you have read any of them already! I don’t know where to start.

The Maze Runner // City of Bones // The Kite Runner
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Divergent // The Violets of March // Thirteen Reasons Why
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Hmm, I know there are several more, but I can’t remember them at the top of my head. Here are a few other books that I have read since this summer that I really loved, though:

A Game of Thrones // The Hunger Games // A Discovery of Witches
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Great Nail Polish Blogs

Here is a quick summary of some of the blogs I stop by when I run out of nail polish inspirations. You should take a look too! They post amazing pictures of beautiful manicures, and I never get tired of their updates.

Work Play Polish.

Nail Nerd.

Nail Art For Fun.

The Nailsaurus.

The PolishAholic.

10 Christmas Savings Ideas

I know that this is a little early, but it’s almost November and I am trying to get my Christmas presents done early this year. So I sat down to think about the different things I should keep in mind before making plans for the holidays, and I figured I might as well make a list. I doubt I’m the only one who gets stressed out and end up spending more money than planned when things are done last minute.

Me and my family last Christmas. It is definitely my favorite time of the year! Btw, what I’m wearing is a typical, old-fashioned Norwegian festive dress called “bunad” – look it up.

Anyway, I found some of these tips at thenest.com, and added some comments and ideas of my own.

  1. Create a budget. I always find things that I’d love to buy for friends and family, but that simply end up being too expensive. We all have a limited amount of money that we can spend on Christmas gifts and we should be careful not to exceed it.
  2. Make a list of everyone you’re buying gifts to. Then sit down and come up with ideas for what to get each person – you might also want to estimate how much to spend on each gift so that you can distribute your budget somewhat evenly. This could save you both time and money when it’s actually time to buy stuff.
  3. Consider buying things online. Most retailers will wrap and ship your presents for you, and they often offer free shipping during the holidays (find a list at FreeShipping.org).
  4. Use reward points. If you’re planning on doing most of your shopping online, try using MyPoints.com. It offers reward points per transaction at many retailers. Rack up the points, then redeem them for gift cards for a ton of stores – including Barnes & Noble, Target, The Home Depot and more.
  5. Never pay retail. Before you start your holiday shopping, check RetailMeNot.com or MyBargainBuddy.com to find promotions and deals for a wide variety of retailers, ranging from Best Buy and Pottery Barn to Gap. Found the perfect gift but it’s a little out of your price range? Register it at ShoppingNotes.com, and they’ll email you when it goes on sale.
  6. Scan a deal. Too busy (or lazy) to comparison shop? Download the ShopSavvy or RedLaser app, and you can scan an item’s bar code to see what it costs at other stores and online. If you find a lower price, just ask the manager at your current locale to match it.
  7.  Pay attention to sales. If you re in the US, black Friday is a great day for getting some Christmas gifts out of the way. Starting early is always a good idea because you don’t have to buy everything right away, and you can wait for a sale to come around.
  8. Buy discounted gift cards. If you plan on giving gift cards this year, check out PlasticJungle.com and ABCGiftcards.com. Both sites offer gift cards that others didn’t want – at a discounted price. You can save up to 35 percent.
  9. Give the gift of you. There are so many things you can make yourself that still make a great gift. Personalized gift cards, homemade food, candy, or drink (a friend of mine made a delicious raspberry liqueur), something your knitted or cross stitched, a photo album, Christmas ornaments, and so on.
  10. Small things can often add up. You can send a personal email with a couple of pictures instead of buying Christmas cards (or how about just calling to catch up?). And don’t spend a lot of money on wrapping paper, cheap versions are often just as pretty. Or you could use magazine pages, news papers, comic strips, and wrapping papers from gifts you have received yourself. And everyone worry about how they look during the Christmas season, but instead of buying an expensive gym membership you should simply work out at home instead – although this might require a bit more structure and planning.

Last year my sister-in-law made these beautiful ornaments for everyone in our family.

If you have any other ideas for how to save money this Christmas, please let me know!