The Devil in the White City

CURRENTLY READING

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April’s Book: The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

Note: Don’t forget to check out my updated review for last month’s book, The Good Neighbor, here.

This is a lot different from the books I would normally read! It’s a true story about an architect and a famous serial killer.  I cheated a little and started reading… it’s a bit slow so far, but hopefully it will speed up when Larson gets to the part about the murders.

Plot Summary: Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS—intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

My Thoughts: Stay tuned.

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The Good Neighbor

51DtjhH7PVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_March’s Book: The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

Note: I got this book free as a Kindle Unlimited monthly first pick.  Normally, I would think that Amazon is giving these books away for a free download because they aren’t high quality, but the last free book I read turned out to be really good, so I have high hopes!

Plot Summary: Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

My Thoughts: The Good Neighbor earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It started off a little slow and repetitive… I feel like every other sentence was the main character second guessing herself (i.e. “I really trust him! or do i really know him?”).  I understand the author was trying to set the scene for a thriller, but I felt like it was getting to the point where it was more comical than suspenseful. I enjoyed the story line enough to keep going though, and by the time I was about a third of the way through, it was hard to put the book down.  I think I ended up reading the book in about 3 days.

Without giving too much away, the story is about Sarah and what happens to her after a fire inexplicably burns her neighbors house down.  There are a few shady characters (including her own husband at times!) and a few pleasant friends and new neighbors who try to help her recover from the traumatic experience, but in the back of her mind, she can’t shake the feeling that something is still wrong.

There are a lot of thriller books where the end becomes somewhat to very predictable by the middle of the book, but I was actually very surprised by the climax and the resolution, I did not see it coming, and I did not even suspect the right people to be involved.

I am again pleasantly surprised by the FREE book of the month offered to Amazon Prime members… that’s two for two so far that have turned out better than a lot of the novels I’ve been purchasing recently! I definitely recommend this book for readers who like a good suspense story.

Easy DIY Soy Candles

Soy Candle

Oh man, have you ever researched what exactly makes traditional candles smell so good? Well, as it turns out, the fragrances used in candles (and tons of other products that are “scented”), are actually HARSH CHEMICALS! [Read this article from TIME, if you don’t believe me… or if you just want to know more 😉 ].

When I started using essential oils, I began making a lot of my own products. It saves money and it’s better for me and the environment I live in.  I went from being a candle and room spray ADDICT to being a diffuser abuser (in a good way 😉 )! And don’t get me wrong, I still love all of my diffusers, but one day I just felt like making candles, so here’s what I came up with! It is super simple and straightforward.  They also make for some cute and inexpensive gifts!


 

DIY Soy Candle 2

Here’s what you’ll need (per candle):

  • 2(ish) cups Soy Wax (I got mine on Amazon. It’s 100% soy wax with no fragrance or additives and it’s already shaved into small, easy to melt pieces)
  • 1 Wick (Such as these from amazon)
  • 1 Small Tin (mason jars work too!)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Double Boiler (or a make shift one)
  • 20 drops Your Choice of Essential Oil
  • Labels, ribbon and other decorations of choice

Some of my favorite Essential Oil combos for candles:

  • Lavender
  • Lavender & Lemon
  • Peppermint (with a couple drops of vanilla extract or a teaspoon of cocoa powder)
  • Stress Away and Orange

Here’s how to make it:

Heat up about an inch of water in the bottom part of your “double boiler contraption” (i.e. an old metal popcorn bowl that fits nicely into a pan of boiling water). While your water is heating up, glue the wick to the bottom of your tin (I use a shorter wick and it seems to stand up on its own, but if you’re using a longer wick or yours isn’t staying up, use a straw and wrap the wick down until the straw rests on top of your tin). When the water is boiling, add the second piece of the double boiler and add the soy wax.  Melt it down into a liquid then turn off the heat.  Let the wax cool slightly before adding in your essential oils, mixing and pouring into your tin. Let it cool down and harden then cut the wick to the top of the tin and decorate with a label, wash tape and/or ribbon!


There you go! SAria_Diffusero simple and cute… the only downside is that is does take a lot of precious essential oil to make it scented. I tend to stick to my diffuser and make a couple candles for special occasions and gifts!

 

 

DIY Diffuser Necklace

DIY Diffuser Necklace copy

Check out this tutorial I made demonstrating how to put together your own tassel diffuser necklace in under a minute! I LOVE wearing my diffuser necklace daily because I get to bring all the amazing benefits of my essential oils wherever I go.  My favorite oil to wear is Grounding.  It makes me feel calm and collected no matter what obstacles I face throughout the day!

If you aren’t feeling crafty, but still want a necklace, you’re in luck! In honor of my birthday month, I’m giving away a diffuser necklace (along with the regular goodies) to all of my new oily members all month long!

To get your kit and diffuser necklace, email me or sign up here.

Happy oiling!

DIY Marble Mug

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Here’s something you may not know about me… I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict! Not only do I pin, but sometimes I actually try to MAKE the cool things I see on Pinterest.  I would say about 50% of the time, what I make turns out to be a FAIL, but every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon a craft that even I can’t mess up (for the most part)!

Here’s what you’ll need to make one of the easiest and fanciest mugs you will ever see:

  • Plain white mug
  • Nail polish of your choosing
  • Toothpick
  • A bucket (big enough to fit your mug in)! Notice how small my “bucket” is compared to my mug… yeah that made things a bit difficult
  • Warm water

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Here’s how to make a Marbled Mug:

Step 1: Fill bucket about 3/4 of the way full with some warm water. On my first attempt I tried to fill up my little bucket all the way full AND stuff a mug in there and as you may guess, I had water and nail polish all over the floor! (Luckily I had some lemon grass essential oil to get the nail polish of my floor!)

Step 2: Drip in some nail polish and give it a second to disperse

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Step 3: Use the toothpick to swirl around the colors a little bit

Step 4: Dip the part of your mug that you want marbled into the water and then remove it.  The nail polish will stick automatically and it shouldn’t be too drippy.

Step 5: Let the mug dry completely. Once it’s dry, you can use some dishwasher safe mod podge to seal the polish in place.

*Note: The mugs are NOT dishwasher safe!

 

Finally, add some ribbon, tags and tea to turn your DIY mug into a thoughtful gift for a friend, teacher or coworker!

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Love Letters to the Dead

loveletterstothedeadFebruary’s Book: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Plot Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more — though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was — lovely and amazing and deeply flawed — can she begin to discover her own path in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead.

My Thoughts: I would give Love Letters to the Dead 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll start with the things I liked about the book, the first being that it dealt with a lot of dark issues.  The book touched on rape, sexual harassment, suicide, depression, mental illness, relationships, drugs, alcohol and coming out as gay.  It definitely wasn’t a happy book, it wasn’t even a book with ups & downs… it was just down most of the book until Laurel is finally able to open up and even then things don’t instantly get better. It was an honest look as how messed up life can get and how sometimes you just have to keep moving forward one breath at a time even if you don’t feel like you can.  I also liked the format… the book was written as a series of letters from the view point of Laurel.  It allows the reader into Laurel’s mind and gives a lot of description of the challenges that she faced both internally and externally.  I also liked that, through the letters, the reader was also able to learn more about the famous person that Laurel was writing too.  Learning about River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse and Judy Garland was very interesting. I knew who all these people are, but I wasn’t aware of their life out of the spot light and some of the struggles they went through… I found it very eye opening.

One of the things that I didn’t care for was the character development.  The reader gets to know Laurel through letters, but I feel like I wanted to know more and I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters (except maybe Kristin). I wasn’t really attached to the characters, so I didn’t truly care what happened to them at the end of the day.  I also felt like the love interest story line was pretty cliche and cringeworthy at times.

Overall, I would recommend the book to someone who just wants an easy read with an interesting, and often times dark, storyline.  Also, someone who has lost people close to them or who has struggled through depression may enjoy the honest perspective of the book and find the read comforting.