Visiting the Portland Japanese Gardens

The Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon is 5.5 acres of beautifully cared for land featuring a rather large koi pound, beautiful sculptures, a rock garden, and the green vegetation that Oregon is well known for.

Dan and I went during the off season. There were pros and cons to this, it wasn’t very crowded so we got to enjoy the nature in peace. But, on the other hand, there was construction quite a bit of construction going on, and it was a little chilly. I still would recommend visiting the gardens during the winter, if you can. The ice on the water and the small patched of snow in contrast with the vivid green was very beautiful.

There is not very much to do here except follow the trails and take in the sights, so if you are not already planning on the rose garden, the Oregon Zoo, or downtown Portland (all things that are reasonably close) I think that this might not be worth the trip.

 

January – Month of Books

Ok, so I read a lot in January. This is part of the reason why I put off making the monthly reading review for more than half of the month because I knew that this wrap up would be kind of long, so I’m just going to pick some highlights. I listened to a couple audiobooks as well this month which was a fun change to my routine. I also thought that I would start adding star ratings to every book I write about in this series. Let’s get into it!

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

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This is one of the audiobooks that I chose. I’ve been a very big fan of Anna Kendrick since her Twilight and Pitch Perfect days. It was really interesting to hear her life through her own words and get to know her more as a person. She struggled for quite a while to make it in L.A. even though she started out on Broadway at just 6 years old. What made listening to audiobook great was that it was narrated by Anna herself, and every story seemed more personal because of this. Anna was a great ability to tell stories and hold the audience’s attention. It was a great listen!

Rating: 5/5

 

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

After listening to Anna Kendrick’s book I decided to try to listen to Drew Barrymore’s because I had heard good things about it.  I never knew that Drew Barrymore was such a kind and loving person. She shares so many stories and has some very great insights in them as well.She talks about being a child star, getting emancipated as a teenager, acting, and raising her children. The problem that I had with this book was the narration. I think Drew Barrymore has a very cute accent, but for an audiobook it was so difficult to listen to. She was talking so slowly and would overemphasize words and syllables in a very cheesy way that made it hard for me to get lost in the story.

Rating: 3.5/5

About A Boy by Nick Hornby

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I decided to go with another Hornby novel this month, and I was not disappointed. It was a bit slow at points but is a very interesting and unique story. The main character, Will Freeman, is a womanizer who lives off of the royalty money from a Christmas song that his father wrote. He does not seem to care about very much in life, he doesn’t want to work, have a relationship, and only cares about himself. He finds out that to single mothers he has a lot to offer, and he can feel like a good guy while dating them. He invents a fake son to go to a single parent support group and meet women. Through the woman he meets at this group he eventually meets a boy named Marcus. What I liked most about this book is that you expect that it would be Marcus’s mother that makes an impact on Will, but he actually ends up spending time with Marcus, and they both leave an impression on each other.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

What books did you read this month? 

December and January Empties

Hello, WordPress! It’s been a while. I don’t remember which blog I was reading, but it was a post of blogging tips and one of them was to keep writing everyday because the more you post the easier it is to stick with a schedule. When you get out of the groove it’s harder to get back into posting. That is pretty much the position that I have been in since about the end of January. I fell off of the blogging wagon!

The worst part is that I had several posts queued up for the start of Feburary: an empties post, a travel report, and a book post, but because I just got out of the habit of writing on here and let life get in the way…it’s been a while. So, after quite sometime away, here is my empties from December and January. I hope you like it!

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Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion

I already wrote a little bit about this brand of lotion in my Aquation Review. If you read that, then you already know that I pretty much love this brand. It’s a great moisturizer for very dry skin, it has no fragrance, it’s not greasy, and it rubs in easily. Even if you like scented moisturizers to throw in your purse or just have around, I would suggest picking this up just because it’s a good heavy duty moisturizer for the winter months when (if you lived in Idaho like I did before) your hands start to crack from the cold. I had the 24 oz larger bottle, and it has lasted me so long. I believe it’s only about 6-8 dollars depending on where you buy it, and considering how long it lasts it’s definitely a good investment!

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Sugar Lips Lip Balm in Rose and Aquaphor Lip Repair

It has taken me so long to get through the Sugar Lips samples that I got so many years ago from Sephora. It just sat at the back of my makeup drawer for quite sometime because I didn’t like it. It was too butter and glossy for me. I ended up throwing it in my purse just to force myself to use it, but that still took some time for me to get all the way to the end.

The Aquaphor Lip Repair was a better lip moisturizer in my opinion. It’s basically like vaseline in a more convienient container, and it is perfect for the winter months as a way to rehydrate cracked and dry lips.

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LA Color Auto Eyeliner in Black (That’s as close as I can get to the correct title with how worn it is)

Unlike the Sugar Lips product which was worn because I had owned it for a very long time, I have had this eyeliner for only a month and the label is flaking off! I would say that I was disapointed in this product, but I think realistically, I knew what I was getting in to. LA Colors is a cheap brand, and you get what you pay for.

When I got this, I wanted to try and see how I felt about going back to the automatic eyeliner look. I thought that it would be a nice, less intense, change from liquid eyeliner, it reminded me of how I did my makeup a few years back, and I thought it might be little be quicker in the mornings.

It didn’t really work out how I thought it would. The tip of the eyeliner is very thick and it breaks easily making a controlled line difficult to produce. To anyone that wants a cheap eyeliner, I would say skip LA Colors and get one from a different brand. I’ve had better experiences with even E.L.F. products, and you can’t beat the $1 price!

 

 

Gliss Hair Repair Ultimate Repair Anti-Damage Mask by Schwarzkopf

To start off I think that I should describe the condition of my hair. My hair is naturally dark blond, but the bottom half of my hair is bleached lighter to create an ombre effect and because of this it is pretty damaged. The ends of my hair are fragile and weak, and when I got this product I was excited to try it and see if it could save my ruined hair. This product is described as being for “heavily damaged hair,” and I think that I fall right into that category.
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When I first opened the product, I have to say, that I was surprised by the consistency of the mask. It is fairly runny and opaque white. I expected a thick vaseline-like texture that I had seen in other extreme hair repair products. Another thing that I noticed right away was the claims on the package. It uses keratin to repair hair, and it even claims to strengthen hair up to even 90% stronger hair.
To use this mask, apply it after you wash your hair while it is still wet and let it soak in for 1 minute before washing it out. I think that products that are meant to restore moisture in hair work best when they are applied to wet hair like this. Other repair products can be for just rubbing on the hair and leaving in which usually makes my hair feel greasy and heavy.
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To try out the product, I washed my hair and then applied the mask to my head focusing mainly on the ends where most of my damage is. The product has the texture of lotion and when I applied it to my wet hair it was kind of hard to feel like it was “rubbing in” because it had a sticky and greasy feel. This all went away when I washed the product out. Afterward, my wet hair was very easy to work with, and I could easily run my fingers through it without encountering a tangle. For me, this was a good sign because it shows that my split ends were managed.
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It also has a very pleasant smell that lingers in your hair even after you wash the product out.  This is something that I really look for in hair care products.  The smell is kind of hard to describe. It’s a mature, perfumey smell. In my opinion, this is a very good mask. It made my damaged hair feel softer, but there were very strong claims (up to 90% stronger hair) that I did not think were fully realized. Besides that, I would still recommend this to anyone with damaged hair like me.
This product was sent to me from BzzAgent in exchange for any honest review.

Movie v. Book: A Long Way Down

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I was recently introduced to the novels of Nick Hornby, and I must say that I loved his writing style. After finishing A Long Way Down, I wanted to watch the movie adaptation to see how it measured up! One thing that I think they did really well was casting (for the most part). Maureen, Martin, and J.J., even though J.J. has long hair in the book, were cast very well. When I read the book, I imagined Jess looking more like Kristen Stewart. I think that she has brown hair in the book, and I imagined her having sharp features. Imogen was a believable Jess just not the Jess that I imagined in my head. Overall, the casting was pretty great.

Spoilers beyond here. Beware!

On the other hand, the plot and accuracy to the book were both horrible. In the first 18 minutes everything is completely different from the book. So many parts of the novel were taken out or changed. The first scene that was left out was the pizza sharing on the roof of Topper’s. In the book, Jess, Maureen, and Martin are on the roof of Topper’s going to jump when a pizza guy arrives. This is J.J., and he was going to kill himself just like the rest of the gang. Instead, they all end up deciding to eat the pizza that he had with him to deliver.

This scene was not included in the movie, and I think that was a big mistake. In the book, the group of four sharing a meal together on that roof was the first time that they gathered together, and I think that it gave a smooth transition into them all decided to help Jess find her ex, Chas. In the movie, the decision to find Jess’s ex seems kind of weird and awkward. I also liked that sense of friendship that came from them eating together.

The search for Chas is completely different too. In the book, Jess does eventually get to talk to Chas, and I felt like that gave her some kind of closure. She was able to see that he was kind of weak. But, in the movie, Jess ends up taking something and going to the hospital. This seemed like a really big plot point to add into the story that was not in the book, and I felt like that act of going to search out Chas seemed kind of pointless if Jess was not able to get actually find him and talk to him.

These changes in the plot also affected the character development. Maureen, though her character may seem a little dull at first, was my favorite character in the book. There is one scene in the book where J.J. asks Maureen what her wishes would be, and she ends up saying that she would like to go on a vacation. They end up planning a vacation, and they even find that Maureen has never flown before. And then, even later Maureen finds a group that invites her to go to pubs with them and do quizzes—which she expressed wanting to do earlier in the book—and a job. After finishing the book, I felt like Maureen’s character was going to be ok, and as a reader, it made me really satisfied to know that she had something for herself in her life. In the movie, Maureen does not get these things. The vacation is Martin’s idea to dodge the reporters, and it doesn’t talk at all about the quizzes or job for Maureen, and I think that adding these in could have helped make the ending a little bit more happy for the characters.

They also added a romance between Jess and J.J.. This was kind of funny to me. J.J. seems to be repulsed by Jess aversion to intelligence, reading, or music all things that his character valued almost to the point of coming off pretentious. She calls members of the group a “tosser,” if they use larger words or talk about something that she does not understand, but in the movie they do not have this relationship. In fact, in the last scene the gang is all Skyping each other in an overly happy and cheesy fashion, and it ends with revealing that Jess and J.J. were in the same room and are in a relationship. I can understand that romances are almost expected in movies and that it probably satisfied some audiences to see the two get together at the end, but to me it did not go with the more serious tone of the story.

Influenster Twinke VoxBox Openning and Review

I always get excited when I get accepted into an Influenster promotion not just because you get more products to test out than BzzAgent or Crowdtap but also because the items are usually full size and Influenster themes the boxes in such cute ways. I got the holiday box, the Twinkle Voxbox.

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When I first opened the package I was so excited. I had a chance to try most of the products already, and the rest I’ll post about once I have had some time to form an opinion about them. There is quite a lot of fun stuff in here to try, so let’s get right down to it!

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Covergirl So Lashy!

The first thing that I noticed about this product is the wand. It has a very unique shape. It reminds me of a DNA strand. CoverGirl is usually pretty on it when it comes to their mascaras. Their wands are ones that I can usually trust to help me avoid clumps and separate my eyelashes. That being said, I would rate the So Lashy! mascara at about a 3.5/5. It wasn’t bad, but it also isn’t as easy to apply as their Lash Blast mascara, which to me will always be my favorite.

The best part about this mascara is round section at the tip of the wand. This part reminds me of the Benefit They’re Real or the Revlon 3D Photo Ready Mascara. It’s perfect for covering the outermost and innermost lashes that don’t always get covered.

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Oreo Thins

The Oreo Thins are something that I have been wanting to try for a while. They were a little bit broken up from the journey to my house, but that didn’t affect the taste. I’m a big fan of Oreos, and I thought that the thins would be a fun new way to have them. I’ve been through alit of these kind of Oreo fads. There were the Oreo Cakesters, the Oreo 100 Calorie Thins, and all of the bizarre flavors over the past few years. It seems like Oreo is always coming out with some new gimmick. This new idea of theirs I did not like very much. It’s very good if you think of it as something completely separate from regular Oreos, but when I was eating them all I could think about was how much better the regular and Double Stuffed Oreos are.

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Aquation Daily Moisturizing Lotion

It’s my opinion that body lotion is something that is pretty hard for a company to get wrong unless it’s weirdly sticky or has a strong smell. They all pretty much do the same thing. The Aquation Daily Moisturizing Lotion is pretty average to me. It gets the job done, but there is nothing that really stands out and makes it a memorable product. It does, however, have a little bit of a clinical smell that I do not really enjoy. I either like scented lotions that are meant to have a smell or products like Lubriderm that are meant to just get the job done and not really anything in between.

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Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo

I’ve been a fan of the Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo for a while, so this was a pleasant surprise. One claim that the bottle makes surprised me: “leaves no residue.” I took a little break from this product to try out other dry shampoos, and so I couldn’t believe that this one was claiming to not leave that white residue that you have to rub in with your hands that most other dry shampoos do. To test it out, I sprayed a little did in my hair just now, and it came out completely clear.

his dry shampoo also has no smell. I see this as both a good thing and a bad thing. When my hair is dirty, it is sometimes nice to get a a fresh and clean smell sprayed on to it when I use my dry shampoo, but on the other hand most scented dry shampoos smell too baby powdery for me, and I feel like that is the equivalent of just holding up a sign that reads “I used dry shampoo today instead of washing my hair.”

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Axe White Label Night Body Wash

This body wash smells so good. I know that Axe has a line for women, but I’m having a hard time telling if this product is supposed to be marketed to men or women. Either way, I’m going to use it up. It has that very musky smell that most people associate with Axe body spray, but it is toned down a little bit. Another really cool aspect: the wash itself is deep purple. How cool is that?

Country Crock Butter

I don’t know why it is, but no matter what I always get my Influenster Boxes late. I got the Pep Box about a month after everyone else, and I got this box that was meant for the holidays well into January. I’m not usually one to look a gift horse in the mouth—I’m still really excited to have all of these products to try—but the manufacturer’s coupon to try the butter was marked with an expiration date of 12/31/16. I think that this is a bit of a weird move on Influenster’s part because that date is so soon after the boxes were supposed to arrive. I mean, I can’t be the only one that got their box late. However, despite the delay and the expired coupon, I am really pleased with this box. There were a lot neat items in here to try.
All of these items were sent to me free of charge from influenster in exchange for honest reviews.