Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review - "Bloom: Navigating Life and Style" by Estee Lalonde (#4- 2017)

Picked this up on a whim, I've never heard of Estee even though I'm a YouTube-a-holic (I know, I know...).  A quick read about her background and how she started her blog and YouTube channel with some decorating, beauty, style, fashion, etc tips along the way.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but it was a good, interesting read.  Would recommend it for a quick, fun read.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review - "Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words" by Andrew Morton (#3 - 2017)

It has been 20 years since Princess Diana passed away, so it seemed like a good idea to finally read this book.  I picked up the 25th anniversary edition, which includes edited transcripts of her interviews for the original book, her biography and then the aftermath of her death.  It was a very interesting read especially so long after she passed away.  I remember exactly where I was when she died and I remember feeling so bad for her boys.  It was a hugely sad time.  And it really hits home now that I'm in my 40s that she was only 36 when she died.  Just too young.  If you are at all interested in Diana or the Royal family then be sure to pick this up.  I won't say it was my favorite read ever, but I'm glad I did read it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review - "Time Is a River" by Mary Alice Monroe (#2 - 2017)

Time Is a River by Mary Alice Monroe

The story of Mia Landan, breast cancer survivor who just attended a fly-fishing retreat for cancer survivors.  She left the retreat to return home early and found her husband with another woman.  Devastated she returned to the retreat in the NC mountains and her fly-fishing instructor, Belle Carson, said she could stay in the cabin she just inherited that once belonged to her grandmother who she never knew.  The cabin is tucked away in an lovely mountain setting near a perfect fly-fishing spot.  However the cabin is old and neglected and needs some TLC.  Belle's grandmother was a legendary fly-fisherwoman and journalist, until she was accused of murdering her lover and her life was in ruins.  She retreated to the cabin and after her death the cabin was locked up for decades.  Until Mia started cleaning and finding clues to who Kate was and what really happened.  I loved this book, it was really a little vacation in your mind, I can't recommend it enough!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017 Sales Roundup

Haven't done this in a while (so busy getting used to new job routine and now school starting) anyway, here are some great sales going on over Labor Day weekend!

Bath and Body Works - 25% off entire order using code AIRISCRISP and also up to 50% off select items. Ends 9/4/2017. See site for details.

Kate Spade - Take an extra 30% sale styles using code GOLDEN Ends 9/5/2017. See site for details.  There are some awesome kitchen items in the sale, just adorable.

Erin Condren - Big sale going on, 20% off select items and 50% off acrylic and art prints.  I just ordered this for me and this for my daughter for our desks.  So many great things in this sale that can be personalized (start thinking about holiday gifts)! If you've never ordered from Erin Condren before (I'm totally enamored with the planners), here's a link for $10 off your first purchase (it's a referral link) .…/invite/jenniferdurham1111

Anthropologie -Take an extra 40% off sale items at Anthropologie for a limited time. See site for details.

Vera Bradley - 50% off all sale styles, prices as marked. See site for details.

Cole Haan - Take an extra 40% off sale styles use code SAVE . I swear by their Grand shoes. I own and love these , these (in black), these (in black not on sale but the pink is so pretty), and these (I LOVE these and wear them so much). See site for details.

Turkish T - 30% off entire site use code LABORDAY30 ends 9/4. See site for details.

Williams Sonoma - 20% off your order and free shipping use code FALL . See site for details.

Johnny Cupcakes - Labor Day Bake Sale, tees starting at $9.99. Ends 9/5/2017. See site for details.

Neiman Marcus - End of Summer sale with up to 65% off regular prices. Ends 9/4/2017. See site for details.

GiGi New York - Choose your own sale, take either 20% off with code LABOR20 or get a free gift with code LABGIFT plus free shipping and personalization. See site for details.

Uniqlo - Specials for this week here. I swear by these pants for work and their tees. See site for more details.

R. Riveter - Labor Day Sale. See site for details.

L.L. Bean - 25% off when you spend $50+ use code LABORDAY Ends 9/5/2017. See site for details.

Tarte - Get a peek at the Holiday collection and get free shipping. Ends 9/4/2017. See site for details.

Mark and Graham - Get an extra 30% off all sale items using code EXTRA30 or get free shipping using code SHIPFREE . Ends 9/4/2017. See site for details.

LOFT - 30% off full priced styles, no code needed. See site for details.

Brika - Take 10% off everything use code SECRET10 ends 9/4/2017. See site for details.

Not a sale but worth mentioning that MZ Wallace is donating 100% of proceeds from sales of the Green Camo Oxford collection to the American Red Cross to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey through 9/30/2017. I love MZ Wallace bags, they are so roomy and chic and lightweight.

Post contains some affiliate links.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review - Vera Bradley Coloring Books (Round 2)

Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review. I only accept copies of books for review that look like something I would normally buy or check out at library.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Remember a couple of months ago I received two Vera Bradley coloring books to review?  Well since I'm a huge Vera Bradley fan and I loved the books, I was sent two more for review.  What I love about Vera Bradley doing coloring books is that they have tons of patterns to choose from and are able to group together into different books.  And they used not just the external patterns you see when the bags are being carried but the patterns used on the inside of the bags!  Here are the two books I received this time, "Seize the Day" and "Enjoy the Journey".

The inside of "Seize the Day" - this is my favorite of all the coloring books I've seen not only because it's got one of my favorite patterns on the cover (I have a tote in this pattern), but the patterns inside are more graphic than the other books.  Love!

Inside "Enjoy the Journey".

Again, I am super impressed by these books, the details and layouts are really nice. In addition to the four I've reviewed there are more books, see here.  I would totally recommend them if you are a Vera Bradley fan or if you know someone who is, they would be a great gift idea!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review - Greenblender Smoothie Box

I decided to try out GreenBlender a couple of months ago because it sounded like a great solution to our ongoing breakfast problem.  The endless issue of my 9 year old not ever wanting to eat in the mornings, complaining about every option.  She loves smoothies so I thought "bingo!" this sounded like a great, easy option.  GreenBlender is a subscription service that delivers 5 smoothie recipes and the pre-portioned ingredients to make 10 smoothies each week.

Here's what the box looked like when I opened it.  Really nicely packaged and all the ingredients were well labeled and super fresh!

They include straws too!

Here are all the ingredients we got for the week.

The dry ingredients too!

Here's the first one we tried all blended up.

Y'all, I wanted to love this so much, but sadly I did not.  The chopped up cashews and other additions that are "chunkier" when blended just made me gag.  I hate the texture.  I think this is for someone who is trying to be way healthier than we are.  I mean, we wanted to be healthier, but it was too much of a leap from our usual smoothies we made with frozen fruit, yogurt and juice.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Now this would be perfect for people who are totally on a clean diet and are looking for some new smoothie recipes and ideas.  I LOVE the idea and the packaging and ingredients were high quality so I would recommend trying it if you are into clean eating!

Meanwhile, the search continues for breakfast options other than cereal...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Review - Vera Bradley Coloring Books

Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review. I only accept copies of books for review that look like something I would normally buy or check out at library.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was super excited to be approached to review these books!  Not only am I a huge Vera Bradley fan, but honestly this is a logical fit for the brand.  They have a goldmine of patterns to choose from which are like familiar friends and you can either color them like they made them or color them your own way.  I received two books, "Paisley Patterns" and "Floral Patterns".  Aren't they pretty?

Now these aren't just coloring books, each has a great full color section in the beginning about color, supplies you might need, techniques you might want to use and a very handy gallery of patterns in their original colorways (for reference).  It's really well done and helpful.  It makes the book a little more special in my opinion.

 As you can see the pages are detailed and some include inspiring quotes.  In the very back are pretty gift cards and tags you can color then pop out to use.  A nice extra!

Overall, I was super impressed by these books, the details and layouts are really nice. These aren't the only ones they have, see more here.  I would totally recommend them if you are a Vera Bradley fan or if you know someone who is, they would be a great gift idea!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review - "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See (#1 - 2017)

This takes place in nineteenth century China in a remote county.  The main character is a woman named Lily.  It's the story of her life.  When she is seven she is paired with another girl (Snow Flower) in another village, this will be a emotional match to last a lifetime.  It covers their friendship and their lives through Lily's eyes.  It's a great story, but let's be honest, it's depressing.  Life for women during that time in China was not good.  Food binding is described (awful), arranged marriages are negotiated (cringe) and the reiteration that girls/women aren't worth much is non-stop.  Hey, that was how it was.  But it was still depressing for me (especially Snow Flower's life).  Anyway, I love how Lisa See tells a story and this one is worth your time.

My other reviews of Lisa See books:

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See - First of all I want to let you know that this book has a sequel.  I say this so that if you read it, you won't get to the end and be all like "Hey, wait.  Lisa don't leave me hanging like this!"  Because the end certainly sets things up nicely for a sequel.  That being said this is a sweeping novel about two sisters and their lives beginning in 1937 Shanghai and following them through some harrowing, gut wrenching, challenging times as they eventually make their way and establish themselves in Los Angeles finishing in 1957.  Not easy, breezy reading that's for sure, there's some deep stuff in here.  That being said I finished the book in less than a week.  I really enjoyed the historical perspective and I'm getting ready to dig into the sequel.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See - The sequel to Shanghai Girls.  A sobering Mad Men.  When you read this, compare the it to the show Mad Men and you actually will shake your head at how completely insane that feels that they take place in the same period of time in history.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review - Hello Fresh

Though I do make and plan almost all our meals at home (we usually get takeout only once a week), sometimes I get in a rut and just want some new ideas as well as trying new ingredients that I might not use/think about.  That's where a meal delivery box comes in handy.  So I decided to try out Hello Fresh when a coupon crossed my path (see bottom of this post for a coupon code for you to use if interested).  The box arrives the cold stuff is on the bottom with cold packs and the rest of the ingredients are in individual boxes for each recipe along with recipe cards. I just put it all in the refrigerator.

Here's what was in my first box:
Italian Ciabatta Burgers with Sweet-and-Tangy Salad

A peek inside the box once opened.

Everything all spread out

The finished product!  This was soooo good, in fact I've made it again.

The next recipe was Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potato and Zucchini Hash.  This one was pretty good, I'm not a huge pork tenderloin fan, but the hash was so good.

From another box a chicken, green bean and rice meal that was delicious!

If you are interested in trying out Hello Fresh for yourself, use this link and my code BZ7S52 to get $40 off your first box!  It's a great deal!

This post wasn't sponsored or anything, I just wanted to share my honest experience and impression.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review - Columbia SkinCare Probiotics Complex and Concentrate

Disclosure: I received these for review via Massive Sway Group. I only accept products for review that look like something I would normally buy or be interested in.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Seems like probiotics are everywhere right now.  What are probiotics?  Probiotics, also known as "good bacteria", found in yogurt and other indigestibles, have been keeping people healthier longer for years.  I jumped at the chance to review Columbia SkinCare's Probiotic Complex and Concentrate.  Why?  Because I take probiotics every day and that once-a-day pill has completely changed my gut/bloat/upset tummy.  And since I swear by them internally, I was curious about what they could do externally.  These are topical-specific probiotics, clinically proven effective and safe, these products enhance and fortify the skin's ability to do what it does naturally: renew and rejuvenate itself.  I've been using both morning and night for a month now.

The Probiotic Concentrate is the top and the Probitotic Complex is on the bottom.

First up the Probiotic Concentrate - $190:

This contains a unique blend of probiotcs, plant stem cells and peptides which intensify and enhance the skin's renewal process.  I applied a small amount to my skin and it is very light and absorbs quickly.

Followed by the Probiotic Complex - $165:

This is the world's first probiotic formulation created specifically for topical use.  It's formulation effectively enhances the most important biological feature in aging skin" it's ability to renew itself.  This cream is so silky and luxurious.  Like the Concentrate, it absorbs quickly and seems to leave sort of a semi-matte finish without feeling tight or uncomfortable.

One thing the company cautioned was that if you are using medications or treatments with retinoids there might be a slight interaction, usually a tiny blemish or pimple.  This is actually the effort of the probiotics to rid the cells of the impurities in the retinal products which often result in the drying of the skin.  I will say this happened to me after 2 days of use.  Nothing awful or major but a couple of breakouts.  They went away quickly.

Now for my thoughts after a month.  First of all there is not fragrance, but it does smell like probiotics.  If you've ever smelled one of the pills then you know what I'm talking about.  It's not unpleasant or bad, it's just not flowery, etc, it's very earthy I guess.  Not a big deal.  I honestly didn't have too many expectations, but I will say I have noticed a difference in the texture of my skin.  I didn't take pictures because honestly I'm not sure you could tell from them, but I really noticed how much better my skin looked overall.  Not plumper, not "no more wrinkles" but just overall better.  The texture was nicer, it looked very hydrated, I was pleasantly surprised to be honest.

Now these are a bit pricey, yes.  But they do seem to work and deliver, so (especially if you have issues with retinol products) these might be a good alternative.   

Here is a special offer from Columbia SkinCare just for my readers.  Purchase either probiotic product above and receive a FREE moisturizing cream, a $38 value.  Use code: ProbioticGift at checkout.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What I'm Loving Right Now - YouTube Channels

Do you watch any YouTube channels?  Is that only for teens and preteens (feels like it, right)?  Am I late to the game because I'm over 40?  So many questions.  Well, since we cut the cable cord and only do Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, I've discovered this whole new world of YouTube.  I became familiar with YouTube and the idea of content creation via my 8 year old who loves watching the people who open and review toys.  But I really had no idea about just how many people were creating content that would be interesting to me in any way.  And I had no idea about vlogs, I mean, I knew about them, but didn't think they would be interesting at all.  I was wrong, I'm addicted to them at the moment.  So here are the channels/people that I'm loving now.

Kristina Braly (formerly Pretty Shiny Sparkly) - she was my gateway YouTuber, she lead me down the rabbit hole and she doesn't even know it.  She's beauty, luxury, etc and I love her vlogs.

Lydia Elise Millen - I LOVE HER!  There I said it.  She's just so real and beautiful and lovely and sweet.  She's my #1 favorite right now, she covers beauty, luxury and her vlogs are so fun.  Her fiance is great too, love his channel as well.

The Gold Project - Nothing slick and chic here, just useful information about organizing, packing, planning and other "boring" stuff.  And honestly, the boring stuff is the stuff that can make your life easy or hard. So I'm always looking for ideas to make that stuff a lot easier.  Kristin is like a really good friend.  I totally have copied some of her photo organizing ideas.  And she's planning a gluten free series starting soon (her gluten free video is worth watching if interested).

How Jen Does It - So many good cleaning and meal tips on this channel.  She may have the cleanest house in the USA, seriously.  She's a wealth of information.  Her recipes and meal hauls/planning are great.

Allana Davison - She's adorable, funny and I love her makeup tutorials.  Follow her on Snapchat, she's hilarious, I mean THE best!

TJ's Ways - TJ is so darn real and I love that and I love her spirit.  Follow along with the KonMari method of decluttering her whole house.  No joke, she did it from top to bottom and talks through it.  She's so positive and inspiring in those videos, it's worth the journey.  She's slowed down posting a bit but her channel is worth keeping an eye on.

Iam CHOUQUETTE - Claire is a newish YouTuber and one of Lydia's friends.  She's all about luxury, beauty and just life stuff.  She's funny and honest.  I like how she's kind of scattered and rambles.

And last but not least, Nicole Guerriero - I mean I think everyone knows her beauty tutorials, etc.  But her vlogs are my favorite part of her channel. She's funny and I love her cats.

Do you follow any of these ladies?  Do you have any "must watch" YouTubers?  If so let me know, I'm always looking for more channels.  Have a great week!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekend Sales Update!

Some good sales right now:

SomaIt's the Get Gorgeous event. Take 30% off your purchase of $150 or more, use code: 56021 or get 15% off entire purchase, use code: 33757 Ends 3/5/2017 See site for details. 

philosophyFriends and Family time to celebrate their 21st Birthday! Take 30% off your purchase, use code: philosophyfamily Ends 3/3/2017, some exclusions apply, see site for details.

DWRIt's Design Within Reach Semiannual sale time! Save hundreds on select items. Ends 3/16/2017 See site for details. 

Furbish - Take 20% off entire pillow collection. Use code: SPRING See site for details. 

GymboreeIt's Friends and Family sale time - take an extra 25% off entire purchase. Use code: FRIENDS Ends 3/5/2017. See site for details. 

Lo & SonsLo & Sons is having a big sale, up to 30% off select items. Ends 3/5/2017. They have great gym and work bags! See site for details.

Kate Spade - Take 25% off use code: PURPOSE  Ends 3/5/2017.  Some exclusions apply, see site for details. 

J.Crew Factory - Up to 50% off new arrivals, prices as marked.  Plus an extra 20% off your $100+ purchase.  Use code: SPRINGUP  Some exclusions apply, see site for details.  Ends 3/5/2017  

Lands' End - Take 25% off regularly priced swimwear.  Use code: SWIM pin: 5101  includes swimsuits, beach towels, water shoes & more.  Ends 3/6/2017 See site for details. 

Old Navy - Thank You event is going on now. Take 30% off your purchase (40% if you are an Old Navy credit card holder).  Use code: THANKYOU  Some exclusions apply, see site for details. Ends 3/6/2017

GAP - Take 40% off your purchase.  Use code: FORYOU  Some exclusions apply, see site for details.  Ends today 3/3/2017. 

Pottery Barn - Take 25% off one regular-priced item.  Use code: WEEKEND  Ends 3/5/2017  Some exclusions apply, see site for details. 

Ann Taylor - Take 40% off at when you sign up to get the code.  Ends 3/6/2017.  Some exclusions apply, see site for details. 

LOFT - Take 40% off everything.  Use code: NEWNOW  Some exclusions apply, see site for details. Ends 3/5/2017  

Nike - Take an extra 20% off clearance items.  Use code: TAKE20. Some exclusions apply, see site for details. Ends 3/5/2017. 

EcoFlowerTake 40% off sitewide. Ends 3/6/2017. See site for details.

Glossier - Use code: 2BLUSH for $6 off when you pick two of Glossier's Cloud Paints and get free shipping. See site for details.

This post contains some affiliate links.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Weekend Sales Update

Here are some good sales I've run across:

BCBG Take 30% off purchase. Discount taken at checkout. Ends 2/20/2017. See site for details.

Pottery Barn KidsIt's Friends and Family time at Pottery Barn Kids, take 20% off and get free shipping. Use code: FRIENDS  See site for details. 

Too Faced - It's a Galentine's Day sale. Take 20% off select items. Use code: TRUELOVES  Ends 2/14/2017. See site for details. 

Oh and I've started to use the app Ibotta for cash back on items I buy at the store.  We are talking groceries, cleaning items, vitamins, beverages, etc. at the stores I usually shop.  I'm LOVING it.  It's super easy and totally worth it. If you are interested go here or download the app and use the referral code:  ecdxgev  Once you redeem your first rebate within 30 days of signing up then you get $10!  It's so worth it!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Weekend Sales Update!

Just a quick post with some sales you might be interested in:

Gap - Ends tomorrow 1/16/2017 at Gap, take 40% off your purchase.  Use code: GREAT  See site for details.

Banana Republic - Take 40% off regular-priced items and an extra 50% off sale items.  Discounts applied automatically at checkout.  See site for details.

Ann Taylor - Ends tomorrow 1/16/2017, take an extra 70% off all sale styles.  Online only, see site for details.

BaubleBar - Take 25% off necklaces (some exlusions). Use code: BOLD25  Ends 1/16/2017 See site for details.

Erin CondrenFor a limited time, 15% off planners. See site for details.

Design Darling - Emily Ley simplified planners are 50% off (prices as marked). See site for details.

Keds - Clearance event with up to 50% off. See site for details.

Kate Spade - Take an extra 25% off all sale styles. Use code: CLINK Ends 1/16/2017 See site for details.

Kendra Scott - Take an additional 15% off sale items. Use code: sale2017 See site for details.

Joss and Main - Winter clearance with an extra 20% off select items. Use code: WINTER20 See site for details.

West Elm - Almost everything is 25% off. Prices as marked, see site for details.

Alexis Bittar - Take an additional 20% off sale items.  Use code: NEWYEAR17  Ends 1/16/2017.  See site for details.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review - "Cloris: My Autobiography" by Cloris Leachman (#26 - 2016)

Cloris: My Autobiography by Cloris Leachman

My word, Cloris Leachman has lived a LIFE!  I've always been a big fan, but didn't know a lot about her or her journey.  She's delightfully candid, honest, fun and normal.  This is a person who has lived her life fearlessly, open to new adventures and experiences.  She started out doing radio voice work, being a theater understudy, etc.  Eventually earning a reputation as a dependable, hard worker with a lot of talent.  She shared the Broadway stage with Katherine Hepburn, her husband's best friend was Marlon Brando, Judy Garland's kids hung out at her house, etc.  She knew and/or worked with a who's who in Hollywood.  Her range of work is mind-boggling.  She's done drama, comedy, TV, Broadway, movies.  Winning an Oscar and a lot of Emmys along the way.  She's a legend but I don't think she knows she is.  She's a mom and grandma and a really cool lady.  I breezed through this book in 2 days, loving every minute.  She even gives you a verbal hug at the very end, like she said she would like to hug you and to consider yourself hugged.  Who does that?  It seems corny but it was so sweet.  I highly recommend this book, it was so good.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review - "Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin" by Andrew Wilson (#25 - 2016)

I always seem to read (or re-read) a McQueen book (and watch endless McQueen videos on YouTube) between Christmas and New Years.  Always.  I love him, I love his work, I love his shows, I hate he's gone.  This book may be my favorite biography of him, it went into a lot of depth and there was a lot of information that I wasn't previously aware of.  It's a hard read at times because of his troubled soul but following his journey is so fascinating.  You didn't want it to end in a way because you know what was coming.  I highly recommend this book.  It's a must read for any McQueen fan!

Here are the McQueen books I own and love: 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Book Review - "Winter Soldier: The Complete Collection" by Ed Brubaker and others (#24 - 2016)

Winter Soldier: The Complete Collection by Ed Brubaker and others

I know, I know, it's 2017 Jenny, why are we still talking about 2016 books?  Because I'm tragically behind on my reviews of the final few books I read last year.  So expect a few more 2016 book reviews.  Okay, here's the sometimes hard to find Winter Solider collection by Ed Brubaker.  I liked this one, but not as much as the Captain America series he did (this is the next book that ties into that series).  I have a soft spot for Bucky Barnes so I enjoyed it, but it's not a "must read", you don't miss too much.  It follows Bucky after he was Captain America for a while, and he's back in the Winter Soldier garb.  It was a super fast read and if you like the Winter Solider/Bucky then pick it up because Brubaker does tell a good story.

Here are my reviews of the Captain America series if interested:
Captain America, Vol 1: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection by Ed Brubaker and others
Captain America Vol. 2: Red Menace Ultimate Collection by Ed Brubaker and others
The Death of Captain America by Ed Brubaker and others

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cute Tops at Kohl's

I had to go to Kohl's today to return something.  Why do I never think to go there on the regular?  Anyway, I was so impressed with the range of cute graphic tops/sweatshirts/tees.  Perfect for weekend or lounge wear.  Here were some of my favorites:

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