Beauty Book Reviews

Beauty books I’ve read recently and what I thought of them:

  1. The French Beauty Solution, by Mathilde Thomas– I loved this book, and am considering buying it (I had checked it out from the library).  This book is packed with great beauty advice.  5/5 stars.
  2. Beauty at Home, by Aerin Lauder– I enjoyed this book a lot, and the photos are wonderful.  I thought there was a little too much product placement, but I did enjoy seeing photos of her homes, and how she lives.  I want a dollhouse for my little girl, and pretty silver frames for all of my best photos.  I loved her stories of her grandmother Estee and hearing about how she preserved Estee’s house and her things.  She really seems to be investing herself in preserving her heritage, something I think too few people do these days.  After reading this I became very curious about Estee and found that she had written an autobiography, which I bought and plan to read soon.  4/5 stars.
  3. Organic Body Care Recipes, by Stephanie Tourles– This one wasn’t a favorite of mine.  I felt that many of the recipes had too many ingredients, and they were too unusual.  I wished that there were more lotion recipes, and it seemed like many of the lotion recipes included lanolin, which I am allergic to.  I’ve found many great lotion recipes with simple oils and butters online, so I’ll stick with those for now.  This does seem like it would be a great book for the more advanced mixologist, possibly someone who plans to sell their products.  But for simple soaps and lotions online resources seem best for me for now.  2/5 stars.
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My Favorite Uncluttering Books

marieOnce upon a time, I had a basement full of stuff.  I had bookshelves that were bursting at the seams.  I wasn’t exactly a hoarder, but I didn’t like all the stuff in my house.  While cleaning out my childhood home I had a tendency to fill up my car (with old puzzles and toys, a ceramic water jug shaped like Little Bo Peep, and random odds and ends) and deposit everything in the basement of my current home to deal with “later”.

Eventually, later came.  The basement flooded and I was forced to deal with all of that stuff.

I read a number of books on uncluttering, tidying, or whatever you want to call it, and I listed below the ones that I found the most helpful.  I got a tremendous amount of help from these three book, and my house was transformed.  I uncluttered it so much that I was able to add something very important…my husband!

1.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, has been getting a lot of attention lately, and rightly so.  Tidying up IS life-changing, and the author, Marie Kondo, does a good job in explaining why we should.  I put this book first on my list, even though I read it last, because I like her criteria for getting rid of things, which is, does it spark joy?  I think this is a better criteria than whether something has been used in the last year or whether you think it is beautiful.

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2.  Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back, by Brooks Palmer.  This man really gets to the heart of why we keep clutter, which is mostly emotional.  It’s a very inspirational book and helped me to get rid of a lot of things.

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3.  Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston.  This was the first uncluttering book that I read and it holds a special place in my heart.  This book also addresses many of the reasons why people keep clutter, and for me, addressing these things made it easier to get rid of many things.  For example, when I asked myself why I was keeping certain books, I realized that I was keeping them so that guests in my home would think I was smart.  Out they went.

These are my top three books for clutter clearing.  I sometimes refer to these if I need some inspiration during spring cleaning.  What are your favorite resources for helping you to clear the clutter from your life?

Lessons from Madame Chic

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I am reading this book right now and I am in love!  It is so inspiring, and makes me appreciate my small house with one small bathroom and one small kitchen (if Madame Chic can make it work, so can I!)  I’m de-cluttering my house…changing the way I eat…changing the way I dress…in short, this book is life changing.  It’s the perfect summer read since it’s not too serious.

I’ve also discovered the author’s blog, The Daily Connoisseur, and am reading through old posts.  I can’t wait to read her other books, too!

Budget Wedding Idea: Books as Centerpieces and Favors

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The only flowers that I had at my wedding were my bouquet, my matron of honor’s bouquet, corsages and boutonnieres for both sets of parents, and a small bouquet for the hall table.  Even this small amount of flowers was almost $500!  Ah, weddings.

So instead of having flowers for centerpieces at the tables, we decided to have books, which also doubled as the favors.  We chose a theme for each table based on our interests and tried to match them with the guests.  Our themes were wine, Disney, cooking, Hawaii, Pacific Northwest Travel, running, and Paris.

Our guests LOVED this.  They still talk about how much they “loved the books”.  We just put together what we thought was an interesting selection of books on a particular topic, having one extra book for each table, and tied a wide ivory ribbon (I learned how to tie a bow here, and this was the ribbon we used) around the stack.  We tried to keep our spending to an average of about $10 per book.  People enjoyed going thru the books and picking one out, and it gave everyone something to talk about.

We were able to assemble the stacks of books the weekend before, so on our wedding day our vendors just had to put one stack of books on each table.

Of course, in keeping with the theme, our place cards were old-school library cards.  We put a pocket for the card inside each book, so that people could put their place card in their book and keep it as a reminder of the day.

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How I learned about wine

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For most of my life wine has been a mystery to me.  In college my roommates and I chose wine according to whether the label made the under-$10 bottle look refined and expensive, but without the label I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between a $2 bottle and a $200 bottle.  Not much changed for many years until I made an effort recently to learn more.

My husband and I planned a wine-tasting trip over his birthday weekend last year to Walla Walla, where there are some of the best wineries in Washington state.  We bought the book, “Washington Wines and Wineries“, by Paul Gregutt, and used this as our guide.

Paul rated the wineries on a scale of 1-5 stars, and he only included 3, 4, 5 star, as well as “rising stars.”  We identified the wineries we wanted to go to and we spent the weekend tasting.  We spent Saturday on foot downtown near our hotel visiting four wineries, and Sunday we hired a guide to drive our car for the day  to take us to eight wineries, which was a very wise decision.  We wrote down the wineries we went to and the wines we tasted (most wineries have a list they can give you), and we took pictures of the bottles of wine we bought as a reference for later.

By the end of the second day we could tell the difference between the wines at the five star wineries and the other wines, and we realized that next time we go back, we will make sure to visit the other five star wineries that we missed on this trip.  Our favorite winery that we visited was Bernard Griffin, which got five stars from Paul.  Bernard Griffin has a wine club that we are looking forward to joining.

The people at Bernard Griffin told us a funny story when we were there.  They have a signature line of wines that they used to call their tulip label because the labels had a picture of tulips on them.  These are very good wines that run $10-$15 per bottle.  However, their marketing people found that they had to redesign the label because people on the east coast didn’t think the bottle was fancy enough to serve at their dinner parties.

We’ve been enjoying the wines we bought on our tour all winter and we look forward to buying more wine from our favorite wineries.  We’re already thinking about our next wine-tasting trip, possibly to the Willamette Valley, Sonoma, Napa Valley, or Monterey.

Quiche with salmon

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Quiche is something that can be very easy to make with a little practice.  For me, most of the time involved in making a quiche goes to making the crust.  Although ready-made crusts can be bought frozen or refrigerated, I think the crust is one of the most important elements of the quiche and I prefer to spend a little more time messing up my kitchen and getting flour everywhere to have that perfect, flaky, buttery goodness.  The last time I made quiche, however, I made an extra crust, folded it in quarters, and put it in a Zip-loc freezer bag.  It’s currently sitting in the freezer, waiting for a day when we want quiche AND a clean kitchen.  We will see how that works out.

For the crust, I like a simple butter crust.  I used this one last time (but I left out the sugar) and it was perfect and flaky.  I’m not sure exactly how adding vodka makes the crust better but it worked very well and I couldn’t taste the vodka.  I store my flour and the vodka in the freezer.

Our pie pan is this Emile Henry Classics Cerise Pie Dish.  This was a wedding gift and I think the givers deserve a quiche sometime in the future since we have gotten so much enjoyment out of this.  I love it when the thing that you cook your dinner in is pretty enough to use as a serving dish.

Generally I use Julia Child’s quiche recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with a few modifications.  I bake the unfilled pie dough for 5 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  Then I fill with whatever goodies I like.  Last night we cooked 1/2 lb of salmon on the grill with a little butter and flaked the fish into the pie crust, then added about 1 c of grated cheddar and some sauteed onions.  For the 9″ pie pan, I beat 4 eggs with 2 c of half and half.  For this salmon quiche I added about 1 tsp dried dill and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  The top of the quiche should puff up a little and be slightly browned.  You want to let this cool for about 5 minutes before eating.

This is also delicious the next day.  My husband and I usually eat half of it for dinner, then we wrap up the other half in saran wrap for lunch the next day.