Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review - After the Party by Lisa Jewell

Atria Books, August 2011 

 Can I just start by saying how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lisa Jewell! I have read all but 2 of her previous books (most of them within a day!) and was extremely excited to get the opportunity to review her new book 'After the Party'. Again, she did not disappoint! This book is in fact a sequel to her very first book 'Ralph's Party' which was published way back in 1999 which focused on the residents of 31 Almanac Road, an apartment building in South London.  More importantly it was the love story of Ralph McLeary and Jem Catterick.

'After the Party' revisits Ralph and Jem and tells us of all the trials and tribulations they have had to endure during their relationship.  It is a very engaging story of a couple who seem to be going through their '7 year itch', although in this case they have now been together for 11.  Chapter by chapter, the book goes back and forth between Ralph and Jems deepest and darkest feelings. Their intense love for one another is very apparent throughout the whole book, but they seem to have fallen into this big void where they don't seem to hear each other anymore.  They seem to be trying to please each other in a way that they 'think' the other person wants rather than actually talking about it and being upfront as they once did.  It's a story of them trying to regroup and to find their 'happily ever after' once again.

I seriously loved this book.  I read it in a day and a half, I could not put it down! I love Lisa Jewell's style of writing, especially in this book.  It's a very heartfelt (and often humorous) account of an issue which every relationship goes through at some point or another.  What I liked most about this story is that you got to know both accounts, in depth.  Normally I would end up rooting for one person in particular.  I couldn't in this book! I found myself with a vested interest in their relationship. They are both such likable characters that you can't quite help rooting for both.

I would like to add that if you haven't had the chance to read Ralph's Party yet. don't worry!  You don't actually have to read that one (Although I would highly recommend it!) to get the gist of this story. Lisa Jewell has an awesome way of recapping the history of the couple without leaving you wondering.

You can check out the books synopsis and buy a copy here!

Lisa Jewell

You can also read more about Lisa Jewell and be kept up to date by becoming a fan on Facebook

*Disclaimer - I was provided with a free copy of this book to review.  This did not bias my opinion in any way.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.  I was not compensated for this post.


About a year ago, my Step Mom introduced me to a website that she was hopelessly addicted to called Stumble Upon. Well, she sent me a link to it and I signed up but did nothing with it because she had told me that I would be an immediate addict. I didn't really need anything else to keep me on the computer, I spent too much time on there as it is!

One day, my Son was taking a nap and whilst thinking to myself about maybe doing the dishes or running the vacuum around (Hah!) I decided to check out this apparently as 'addictive as crack' website and oh how my husband wishes I didn't. For weeks whilst my Step Mom laughed evilly, I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled. Click, click, click. Laughing to myself, oohing and ahhing at all these websites that I was coming across that I would NEVER have found otherwise. The stuff you find is amazing! Just today I found out how to make a Jersey Knit Bracelet, a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, a whole page of Chicken Recipes, I found out what might happen if I ate all my kids Halloween Candy AND I found out all about 30 Different Types of Mythical Humanoid Creatures... (Side note: - Some things you find do sometimes leave you scratching your head. Which makes it more addictive. Haha) After a couple of weeks or so, the novelty did wear off a little for a number of months.  But then I found the Android App... Which has started the addiction up all over again.  I can now stumble wherever I go!  Yes!  Even on the loo.  ;)

All you have to do is sign up with your email address, choose a password and a username and you are almost ready to go! (Links below) You will first see a page where you can choose your interests.  You choose as little or as many as you like:

Save your options and hit the Stumble button!

You can also click on 'like' or 'dislike' buttons so that you can weed out the things that you aren't all that crazy about.

Anyway.  My whole point of the this blog post is that if you haven't joined StumbleUpon yet, you really, really should.  There are some amazing websites out there (And some pretty cookie ones too) again that you probably wouldn't get to see.  Another reason is that at the moment, up until December, 4th when you join you will get a unique referral link.  Every 5 friends that you get to sign up before this date, you will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card!!!  This is awesome!!  It would come in handy seeing as Christmas is coming up wouldn't it!?

Sign up for your FREE StumbleUpon Account!
Once you have confirmed your email address click here to get your unique referral code!

Each time someone signs up under your link, you get an email telling you!  When it reaches 5, you will get a congratulations email!  There is NO LIMIT to how many people you can refer!

Happy stumbling!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions Review

I am a member of a website called BzzAgent and I was lucky enough to receive a Bzz Kit containing full size bottles of Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions cleanser and daily moisturizer (along with some samples) to try out and share my opinion.

I was really looking forward to receiving these products to try.  I have really bad skin.  It appeared when I was 15 and much to my disgust, decided to stay...  It seems to be the one part of me (if you can ignore the fine lines which are starting to develop around my eyes) that is intent on staying a teenager.  The one part of me that I would actually prefer to be an adult.  I have tried so many different types of skin care and as of yet I have not found the magical cure.  (I am open to suggestions!  I will try anything!) So, yes.  I was excited to try this.

I used both of the products together, twice a day for 10 days.  I was pretty impressed with the cleanser.  It had a pleasant scent and a rich, creamy lather and did not leave my skin feeling tight like so many other cleansers do.  This cleanser doesn't actually contain any soap.  Instead it contains cotton extract which is supposed to soften and help replenish the skin's outer layer and a combination of Quillaja (I still don't know what Quillaja is though, it sounds like a sneeze doesn't it?) and Yucca Extracts to help remove impurities without stripping essential moisture.  It also contains rice extract and Aloe to provide moisture and to sooth. Although this cleanser did not cure my bad skin (which it never promised to) it didn't cause any further breakouts either which is always a plus.

The moisturizer on the other hand, I wasn't overly impressed with.  This contains pretty much the same ingredients as the cleanser and promises to moisturize sensitive skin all day without causing redness or irritation, which was fine.  That wasn't the issue.  Along with the bad skin which I guess goes hand in hand, I have Shiny Face Syndrome.  I have only been able to find one moisturizer that does not cause this!  (Neutrogena Oil Free, which I love)  Some moisturizers are worse than others and for me, this was not a good one.  About an hour after applying I was a prime candidate for a Dawn commercial.  I will give Burt his due though, again, it doesn't actually state that the moisturizer is 'oil free' so i cannot say that it doesn't 'do' what it's supposed to do.  Again, although it didn't cure my bad skin, it didn't cause any further outbreaks.  Just an oil slick.  So if you, like me have SFS...  I would stay away from this.

My overall rating is 3/5.  Just because of the oiliness of the moisturizer.  Other than that these truly are great, 99.0% natural products.

You can read up on Burt's Bees line of Natural Skin Solutions here!

*Disclaimer - I received 'free' samples of this product courtesy of Burt's Bees and BzzAgent and was under NO obligation to give a good review.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where did the year go?

Tuesday was my little mans 1st birthday!  I can't believe how fast this year has gone!  It seriously has flown by in a blink of an eye.  Scary really!

Needless to say, we have had a busy, busy week here what with Halloween, birthday party planning etc!  My Mother in Law flew up from Florida to celebrate with us and I'm telling you, this little boy got SPOILED! Clothes, Pajamas, books and a boat load more toys to add to the ever expanding pile that is threatening to take over our living room.  He is in hog heaven I tell ya!

For his birthday I had this crazy idea that I was going to make him a monkey cake.  I have never really dabbled in cake making before and was thinking on making him something pretty simple until I started looking on the internet.  I came across this AMAZING cake that I fell in love with...  It was much more adventurous than I originally intended and was very doubtful that I could achieve it.  After speaking with my husband and enlisting a friends help off I went and bought all the ingredients... The fondant and food coloring, banana pudding for the center and I must admit I cheated a little and took advantage of Ms Betty Crocker.  SO much easier. 

5 hours later, THIS is how it turned out.  I swear I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back. It's not perfect, but still, for my first try?  Watch out Duff is all I can say.