Products and Books I'm Enjoying in 2023
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately

Loving and Learning Lately {38}

Products and Books I'm Enjoying in September 2021

Welcome to Round 38 of this little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, which means I may get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you.

Loving Lately

  • It has literally probably been about a decade since I really tried anything new makeup-wise, but since we were getting our family pictures taken this month, I decided to splurge on a few new pieces. And I’ve gotta say, I am a HUGE fan of some of the new things I picked up!
    • My biggest beauty woe throughout my life has been that I have very short, light eyelashes, and while I used to try tons of different mascaras to see if anything really made a difference, I was usually unimpressed and have therefore been using the then-best choice of L’Oreal’s Voluminous mascara for years. However, after seeing social media posts from people who were raving about using a primer before using mascara, I decided to try out L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise primer + mascara set. SERIOUSLY LIFE-CHANGING!! It has pretty much given me the lashes I’ve always wanted, and now there are multiple days I just wear mascara (rather than always coupling it with eyeliner and eyeshadow) because I feel like this mascara defines my eyes so well on its own. I will never go back.
    • I know I’m like 15 years late to the BB cream trend, but I decided to see if it helped even out some of the uneven skin tone on my face for our pictures. I wasn’t exactly sure before what BB cream actually did, but now I can see why people raved about it for the first couple of years after it came out. Basically it smooths skin, diminishes redness, and provides a more solid base for any further skin makeup to stick to so that you don’t get the shiny forehead look in the late afternoon from your makeup wearing off. Mine also has compounds in it that help your skin to be healthier and smoother, and I’ve had a noticeable difference in the way my forehead skin looks especially. I don’t use this every day (because I tend to limit skin makeup period unless I’m going out in public for awhile), but when I do, it really does make a difference in how my makeup looks and on how it stays on my face. (P. S. THIS is the kind I ended up trying.)
    • I used to wear lipstick a few times a month, but once covid hit and masks became the norm, I’ve basically stopped altogether. However, I did want to wear some for our family pictures and wanted a particular color to match the new dress I purchased for them, so I decided to try this matte lipstick crayon. Um, yes please! I’ve always hated how lipstick often seems to get on my teeth no matter how much I blot, but the matte lipstick crayon stays exactly where I put it, no teeth-checking necessary. Like other matte lipsticks, it can be a bit drying (so I don’t wear it every day), but for occasional use, I’ve found it’s just the thing for me.

Learning Lately

Now that my first flower farming season is winding down, I’m looking at goals and plans and unread books that have sat — ignored — since early spring and reevaluating what I want to focus on for this last quarter of the year. While I don’t think I’ll meet my original Goodreads reading goal for the year of finishing 65 books, I have been trying to consciously devote more time to reading again, as it’s something I’ve missed doing for the past several months. (I will admit though that I’m trying to bump up my Goodreads number for the year by going for the “low-hanging” fruit of finishing all the books that I’ve been in the middle of for ages, a few of which are below.)

At one point this year, my “Currently Reading” shelf on Goodreads had something like 11 or 12 titles on it and now we’re down to just 7, so I’d count that as progress!

Current and Recent Reads

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

I somewhat got thrust into the role of starting up a book club here in our new area, and this book was the first selection for the club. I was curious to read this one after reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (which I loved) because I’d heard of the disputes surrounding the VERY similar plot lines of the two books, with there being some intimation that Moyes had not come up with the idea on her own. While I can definitely confirm that the two story lines were extremely similar in many ways, I can also confirm that I’m not sorry I read both. For richness of setting, time period, and overall themes, Book Woman is the clear winner for me — I felt that in the end, it held much more substance and things to ponder on. However, it also was a very slow burn that I almost abandoned about a third of the way in. Giver of Stars, on the other hand, employs Moyes’ excellent skill with crafting a page-turner, and I ended up reading the whole thing in about a day just because it was paced so much more quickly. Both worth reading, but for very different reasons.

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

This was a title on my Summer 2021 Reading List, which I’m still slooooowly working my way through. Meissner was a happy find for me last year, and this is the third title of hers that I’ve read in about the last 12 months. Meissner writes historical fiction novels, each of which centers around one or two particularly sensational plot lines. While some of the story lines seem a bit too implausible to “feel” real, I still really, really enjoy her work — her books have a way of totally sweeping me into a different time period and place, and this one was no different. In fact, this latest release of hers about the big California earthquake of the early 1900’s had a plot twist that literally made me sit up and gasp out loud. If you’re looking for well-paced escapist historical fiction, make sure you give Meissner a shot.

The Simple Path to Wealth by J. L. Collins

I’ve been very slowly munching my way through this personal finance book over the past several months, and I finally just finished it up this last week. This book came highly recommended by people in the FIRE (financial independence / retire early) community that I’ve been following for years, and I ended up snagging it on a daily Kindle deal for a steal. Basically, J. L. Collins writes this book as kind of a letter to his college-age daughter about how to build wealth young (no get-rich-quick pyramid schemes necessary). The book is straightforward and usually easy to understand, and while I’m nowhere close to employing the 50% savings rate (minimum) that he suggests, this book *did* convince me to finally let go of our financial advisor and manage our own investments (because the amount you lose over time in fees is INSANE).

Related Post: Our Plan To Retire By 50

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I guess I can no longer say that I “don’t do romances” because I’ve been reading quite a bit of books that fit into that genre lately, just because I don’t seem to have the desire to read anything too heavy or depressing right now. (Although I will say, there are still certain types of romance that I really just don’t do, and I don’t think that will ever change. But I have enjoyed some of the more contemporary romances coming out in the past few years where the plot line is substantial enough beyond the love story to make it worth my time.) I’m only about three-quarters of the way through this — and it won’t be winning any more than about 3 stars from me — but it’s been an enjoyable enough read the past few weeks, even if I think the character development is weak. It’s the story of how recent widow Evvie (who was actually about to leave her husband, which no one knew) ends up becoming the landlord of a recently disgraced Major League Baseball pitcher who seemed to suddenly lose his ability to pitch. If you need a fairly light story that will help to pass the time, this one’s okay, but I don’t think it’s one that will stick with me for very long.

Related Post: 12 Love Stories For People Who “Don’t Do” Romances

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

This is one that has been on my “Currently Reading” shelf on Goodreads for well over a year (seriously), so I finally decided I’d best just dig it out and finish it up already. This is now the third book I’ve read by Vanderkam (4th if you count one of her mini books that I read), and this is what I’ve decided — while some of her ideas and strategies are brilliant and life-changing and totally things that have kept me thinking about them years and years later, there are many parts of her life philosophy surrounding work and family life and money that frankly just kind of bug me. This book is no exception. Once again, I’ll be taking certain concepts forward with me forever (like the power of chunking the amount of hours you have by the week rather than by the day and her 100 Dreams list), and I’ll just ignore or forget the rest. If you’re new to Vanderkam, I gave her book Off the Clock the full 5 stars (which rarely happens), and that’s definitely the one I would recommend to anyone. This one can probably be a pass for most people unless you’re really needing to try and free up some hours in your week and are willing to make the trade-offs and learn the strategies for doing so. (Fun fact: I was actually interviewed for an article that Vanderkam wrote years ago about goal setting, which you can read HERE. I also completed the time-tracking exercise she recommends in all of her books, which I blogged all about HERE.)

What is your fall reading life looking like lately? (And also, if there are any other beauty/makeup trends that are worth trying out, pass them my way!)

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