Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I Read in May

We're wrapping up the month of May, so it's time for another recap of what I read this month. The pool opened up this past weekend, so I was lucky enough to spend several of Madeleine's nap times in the sun with some good books. I read quite a few books this month, thanks to these tricks for how I find so much time to read. As I mentioned last month, I'm very stingy on my 5-star ratings, and any books with 4 stars I really, really liked! I would also like to mention that I do receive quite a number of books directly from publishers. When I do receive books from publishers, I have chosen the titles o the books I would like to read and review, so they're books that I am genuinely interested in reading! I always give my honest feedback on a book, even if I've gotten it directly from the publisher, so don't ever think I'm fluffing up my ratings to try to help the publisher out. I also often start books that I just can't even get through, and you will never hear about those. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you don't gloss over the books that I received from the publishers, because I really did want to read them and many of them are very good!

Station Eleven // The library classified this as science fiction (something I never read), but I heard rave reviews of this book so decided to give it a try. To be completely honest, I kept anticipating that I would quit reading it. But once I got about 50-75 pages in, I was surprised to find that I was really enjoying it! In the beginning of the book, a flu pandemic hits and civilization as we know it comes to an end. The book moves back and forth between different characters, both before and after the pandemic, and it is so fascinating. This is incredibly well-written, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. Once I finished the book I had to tell Caleb all about it. I highly recommend it! Even if this is not your typical genre that you enjoy reading, you might be surprised (like I was) and really love this one! 5 stars.

For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid // Our small group at church has been working through this book for the past couple of months, and we just finished it up this month. The entire book is based on the results of nationwide surveys and interviews with pre-teens and teens in order to help parents "get" their kids. We are obviously years away from raising a pre-teen, but if you have kids this age I would say it's worth picking up and flipping through. I didn't find anything particularly earth-shattering in the book, but there were definitely some helpful points and things to think about. 3 stars.

This Too Shall Pass // I admit that I picked up this book for the cover alone. And I should have known better. The publisher provided me with an early copy of this book, and I did not like it one bit. I would have quit reading it, but I'm not a quitter and it was super short, so I powered through. The book starts off with the protagonist talking to her dead mother, and that continues throughout the book, but the other half of the book is about a trip that the main character and her friends take to the coast. Too many characters were introduced without any further development of them, and I found the protagonist extremely unlikable. Admire the cute cover, but don't bother picking this one up. 1 star.

Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness // I picked this up because I had heard great things about its counterpart Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. I enjoy reading biographies, but unless I'm really, really interested in the person, I get a little bored with all of the details biographies tend to have. This book is perfect for you if you feel the same way! The author does a really good job of highlighting the lives of each of these seven women. I thought there was just enough information in each chapter to teach me a little more than I learned in school without feeling bogged down by the details. My favorite chapters were the ones on Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. 4 stars.

Modern Lovers // This book just came out today! I was able to read an advanced copy of this book through Edelweiss. This book is about two families living in Brooklyn who are very close friends. I wouldn't say anything in the plot is particularly noteworthy: there are marriage difficulties, a midlife crisis, teenagers who sneak around, etc. The thing I enjoyed in reading this book was the change in perspective, from each of the adults to the two teenagers. I thought it gave the book really good pacing, so it was an easy read. It's a perfectly enjoyable and fun book to read. If you enjoyed The Vacationers, one of Emma Straub's other books, then you will enjoy this book as well. It's a good, easy beach read. 3 stars.

American Housewife // This is a collection of short stories, something that I don't normally read, but I was intrigued by the cover and because, well, I'm a housewife. I was expecting these to be really funny, but it was a different type of humor than I had anticipated. I thought the first story was the funniest, to be honest, and some of the others were actually pretty strange. Some of the stories are really short, and in whole the entire collection is pretty short as well. It was an easy read, and though I was a little disappointed in the lack of laugh-out-loud humor, I did enjoy reading several of the stories. 2 stars.

Behave // The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, so here goes: I thought this book was going to be a fun novel about motherhood, raising kids, etc. I should have done a little bit more research before I decided to read this book (second book cover I've been fooled by this month). This is a novel based on the lives of Rosalie Rayner and her husband John B. Watson, who were famous psychologists from the 20th century. I thought the story was depressing and actually a little disturbing. At times I found bits of the story compelling, but mostly I disliked all of the characters and was eager to finish the book. I definitely could have done without reading this one! 1 star.

Traces of Guilt // I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I have read most of Dee Henderson's books, and I always love them! This book is suspenseful, but not so dark and creepy that I didn't enjoy reading it. The writing is really good, and I really enjoyed each of the characters and how she developed them throughout the story. The story is about a detective working to solve two cold cases, and there are lots of details about both cases and her strategies in trying to crack them. The story unfolded in ways that I didn't anticipate, and I didn't want to put it down! I really enjoyed it. 4 stars.

First Comes Love // The published provided me an early copy of this book, and I was so glad because I love all of Emily Giffin's books! Her books are the type of "chick-lit" that I like; they're fun and easy to read, but they're not mind-numbing like other chick-lit that's out there. This story is about two sisters who have a very rocky relationship, mostly due to differences in their personalities and their grieving experiences after losing their older brother.  I really appreciate that all of Emily Giffin's plots are so very different, yet all enjoyable. I think The One & Only is still my favorite of her books, but this was a great one, too! This book comes out on June 28, but go ahead and pre-order it here! 4 stars.

Wild and Free // This book was popping up everywhere on social media, so when the publisher sent me a copy through BookLook Bloggers, I was happy to get my hands on a copy! As the back of the book says, the authors hope is that women will live with "freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives". My favorite chapters of the book were the two chapters that described exactly what the authors are picturing when they talk about a wild and free woman. I ended up enjoying this book more than I was anticipating! Sometimes I'm a little wary of Christian living books that are targeted for women, because they end up being a little too flowery and touchy-feely for my taste. I will admit that the first couple of chapters I was nervous this book was heading that same direction, but once I got a little further into the book, I enjoyed it. There is a good blend of personal stories and also a lot of Scripture, which I really appreciated. Even though it's written by two different authors, I found that the book read pretty seamlessly. 4 stars.

The Hours Count // This was my book club's selection for May. We had to postpone our book club dinner, so I'm not sure what everyone else's take on the book was, but I enjoyed it! This is a historical novel about a woman who becomes friends with Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, American citizens who were convicted and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage during the Cold War. Like all historical novels, the author takes a lot of liberty in developing the fictional characters and the story around what are known as some true historical facts. I knew nothing about the Rosenbergs, so I found the story really engaging and interesting. I also really enjoyed reading the author's note in the back of the book, which detailed the fact surrounding these events. It was an enjoyable read! 4 stars.

A Fine Imitation // I had seen this book around and liked the cover, but then The Skimm gave a brief summary of it in the Skimm Reads section, finishing with "if you love 'The Great Gatsby,' this is your read." SOLD. Thankfully I was able to get a copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books, and I absolutely loved it! It's a debut novel, and I really hope Amber Brock is planning to write more books! It does feel similar to The Great Gatsby in that the story is set in the 1920s featuring the socialite lives of New York City. The protagonist is the social queen of her building and is utterly unhappy in her marriage. She starts to question her choices in life when an artist arrives to paint a mural in the building. I really enjoyed the story and thought the writing was excellent. 4 stars.

June: A Novel // This book just came out today, but I was able to read an early copy from the publisher. I really enjoyed this book! The book shifts between the past and present, giving the story of a family and its secrets over the decades. I enjoyed reading both accounts, which doesn't always happen for me when a storyline makes that shift throughout the book. The plot had several twists that I didn't expect, which I always enjoy! I thought this was a really good read, and I was very interested to find out what happened! This would be a great book to take on vacation this summer. 4 stars.

The Things We Keep // This is a story about a woman who, at the age of 38, moves into an assisted living facility because she has early onset dementia. The book shifts from her point of view and her struggle with losing her memory to the point of view of the newly hired cook at the facility who is recently widowed. I love the title of this book, and I thought the premise was a really different idea for a book, but something about the story just fell a little flat for me. It was a perfectly enjoyable book to read, but just not as good as I hoped it would be. 3 stars.

The Singles Game // I've read all of Lauren Weisberger's books (probably most known for The Devil Wears Prada), and I think this is one of her best! Charlotte Silver is a top-ranking tennis player who, after suffering an injury she blames on her coach, switches coaches and starts making headlines around the world. The book gives a lot of detail on tennis and the rigorous schedule, rules, etc. of pro tennis, which I found really interesting! It was a quick read and really entertaining. This would be a great beach read this summer! It comes out in July, but you can pre-order it here! 4 stars.

The After Party // This is the story of socialites in Texas in the 1950s. There's one queen bee, Joan Fortier, who is the center of it all. The story is told from Cece's point of view, who is utterly devoted to Joan despite the way Joan treats Cece. The book was entertaining and had a surprising twist near the end, but if you're looking for a story about a bunch of women dressing to the nines, going to parties, and gossiping about secrets, I enjoyed A Fine Imitation a little more. 3 stars.

There you have it - the books I read in May! Tell me, what have you been reading lately?

The books linked in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click the linked books and order any of them through Amazon, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for helping support this blog (and my book habit)!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Our wall-to-wall bookshelves

I was reminded after posting this on instagram that I've never shared our bookshelves here on the blog! This is one of my favorite spots in our entire house! Caleb designed and built these wall-to-wall bookshelves for our front living room. He built them to fit perfectly against the wall that you see when you enter the room, and I love the impact that they make! They're screwed to the wall so they're perfectly safe, but he also made it so that we can remove them and take them with us, if we ever end up moving.

We only have about three of the sections filled up so far, but I like that we have plenty of room to grow our collection. We are a family that loves books, so we need a lot of space to store them all!

It makes me so happy to see our gorgeous shelves and all of our books every time I walk by this room! Caleb did such an excellent job with every detail, and they are exactly what I envisioned for this space!

Monday, May 23, 2016

How I find time to read

After starting my monthly series about the books I'm reading, I received several comments and questions about how I find time to read so many books. I will say that this season of my life has been the one where I've had the most time to read! I am a stay-at-home mom (I work only 3-6 hours per week from home), I have just one child, and that child still naps twice a day! It's a unique combination that allows me extra time here and there during the week that I can spend reading if I'm caught up on everything else. I know it's not something that will last, so I am enjoying it while I can! That being said, here are a few tips that might help you spend more time reading.

Keep a to-read list // I've found that if I keep a running list of books that I want to read, whether they're new releases by my favorite authors or books that have been recommended to me, I end up making more time to read because I'm anxious to get to the next book on my list! I currently have 14 books on my nightstand and 8 e-books in my Kindle app, so those piles definitely keep me busy reading!

Read every day // I'm a firm believer that you will make time for what's important to you. If you truly want to read, you can find some chunk of time in your day, no matter how small it may be, to read. I read every single night when I get in bed, something that I've been doing for pretty much my whole life. Sometimes it's only 10 minutes before I start falling asleep, but if it's a particularly gripping book, it may be an hour! This means that even if I have a crazy busy week or we're traveling or have house guests, I can easily read at least a book or two a week.

Join or start a book club // If you love reading but never seem to get around to it, it might help if you join a book club so you have an external obligation of sorts to read (and finish!) a book. Similarly, check books out from the library. If you hate paying overdue fees like I do and the book you're really enjoying is due in a couple of days, you might make a little more time to read so you can hurry up and finish it before it's due.

Read more than one book at a time // This might drive some people crazy, but I really enjoy reading a couple books of different genres at the same time. Typically this means that I'm reading a fun novel, a Christian living/thought book, and maybe a parenting or psychology book. Those are the genres that I tend to read the most anyway, and I've found that if I'm reading the Christian living book after my morning devotions, reading a couple of chapters from the parenting book at some point during the week, and reading a novel every night when I get in bed, I'm spending more time reading and finishing more books than I realize.

(image from here)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Current Skin Care Routine

Do you switch up your skin care routine, or are you dedicated to the same products year after year? While I am pretty loyal to many products and keep my tried-and-true on hand, I enjoy trying new products and switching up my routine. Here's my current skin care routine:

1 // using this face wash every morning when I get up. I won it in an Instagram giveaway, and I'm so glad I did! It's all-natural (and handmade too!), and it feels so good. It's really moisturizing, so for the first time in my life I'm not having to wear any kind of day cream as a moisturizer!

2 // using this body butter for extra hydration all over. It's nothing special--I got it as a sample in the mail and you can find it at Walmart--but I love the coconut scent, and it's really hydrating.

3 // using this scrub to exfoliate my face every night in the shower. It's the one product that I've used every day for about 15 years, and I can't move away from it. My face feels so smooth afterwards!

4 // using this cleansing gel every night in the shower to cleanse after exfoliating. With the humidity of summer I can actually use a gel face wash rather than a creamy one, something I can never do in the winter. This is really cleansing, and I'm a big fan of the anti-aging element.

5 // using this face cream before bed. It's a bit of a thicker cream which helps holds in moisture on my face all night long.

6 // using this body cream on my hands every night when I get in bed. The eucalyptus scent is supposed to be calming, and I've found that it is! I've been using this every night when I get in bed since Madeleine was born, and it's definitely become part of my nighttime routine.

Monday, May 16, 2016

How to make strawberry jam

Making homemade strawberry jam is a little spring tradition I've had going for the past six years. We absolutely love it, and I usually make a lot because I don't like the taste of store-bought jam anymore (even when I was hugely pregnant last year I managed to crank out 5 batches!). Homemade jam is one of those things that sounds hard/annoying/intimidating, but this recipe is not! No sterilizing of jars is required! With the right tools and a good system, it is really easy (though a bit time consuming). I use my sister Lauren's recipe (also the recipe inside of the Sure-Jell package), which is below along with my tips.

Strawberry Jam
2 pints strawberries (we get ours from the local berry patch)
4 cups sugar
1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin (near the jello + pudding in the grocery store)
3/4 cup water

Rinse and hull the strawberries. I use this strawberry huller which is a huge time-saver! Place hulled strawberries in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. It's best to use a potato masher instead of a food processor, because you don't want the fruit to be puréed.

Measure exactly 2 cups of the crushed strawberries and put into a large bowl. Add exactly 4 cups of sugar. Stir to combine and let it sit for 10 minutes.

While the berries and sugar are sitting, add 3/4 cup of water to a small saucepan. Add in the bag of fruit pectin and stir to combine. Cook on high heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Once it boils, stir and cook for 1 more minute. Remove it from the heat and add it to the fruit mixture. Stir together for about 3 minutes, until all of the sugar dissolves.

Divide the mixture into clean jars (no need to sterilize!). These Ball mason jars are the ones that I always use. They are pint-sized, freezer safe, and wide mouth, which helps keep things a little less messy. I highly recommend getting a canning funnel as well! You do not want this sticky jam mixture getting all over your jars or your countertops. Pour the mixture into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top so it can expand in the freezer. Tightly screw the lids onto the jars and let them sit on the counter for 24 hours. Store jam in freezer for up to a year. Thaw jam in fridge when you're ready to eat it. This recipe will fill 3 pint-sized jars.

Also, if math isn't your thing, there are 8 pints in a gallon. So, if you pick a gallon of strawberries at the berry patch, you can make 4 batches of the above recipe, which will fill 12 of these Ball mason jars (which is one pack).

Friday, May 13, 2016

9 favorite Instagram accounts

This past week my sister and I were chatting about Instagram and how fascinating we find it. It's by far my most-used social media platform. Since I've got Instagram on my mind, here are 9 accounts that are favorites of mine: 

@jlgarvin // This is a pretty lifestyle account with a good balance of family pictures, home spaces, plus nicely styled everyday things. It's an inspiring account that I really enjoy looking at.

@alexa_moyer // Alexa lives in NYC, and her pictures remind me of why I love that city so much! This is a beautiful lifestyle account that I absolutely love.

@laurenwasher // Lauren is my sister but I also really love her Instagram! Her five kids are pretty adorable (I'm only slightly biased), and she posts such real, raw pictures of life, both the joys + the challenges. She also has an amazing way with words, and I'm constantly learning from the truth she shares.

@anna_winchell // I've been following Anna's Instagram + blog for years, and I just love her! She has such an eye for a good shot, and she shares lots of pictures from all of her travels which I love. She also is just the happiest, don't you think?

@amandarydell // I really appreciate following highly curated accounts, because I love the pretty pictures and am inspired by the styling. I love the white space + pretty, softer colors that Amanda always posts. Plus she scores some pretty amazing vintage/thrift finds that are fun to see.

@mrsjuliejones // These are the pictures that I always want to jump right into, because Julie frequently posts about food that looks amazing, a good book I want to read, or a place I'd like to visit. Plus girl has even more striped shirts than I do. Always pretty pictures to see here!

@thepinkdiary // This is obviously another highly curated feed, and I love all of the intentional white space. Everything is always beautifully styled, and I love seeing pretty pictures like these as I scroll through my feed!

@alexbyersays // Love seeing pictures of Boston and Alex's life there. She's a hardcore runner, which is super inspiring. Also this spring she has posted some gorgeous shots of flowers, which just so happen to be my love language.

@ali_vinciguerra // When I first started blogging years ago, one of the blogs I regularly read was Alison's. Her Instagram account is a fun look at motherhood, and I love how she decorates her home! A fun + pretty account to follow.

So tell me, which Instagram accounts are your favorites? Do you like a heavily curated account or prefer to follow just friends + family?

P.S. If we haven't found each other on Instagram yet, you can find me here!

(all images are from the Instagram accounts mentioned)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Do or don't: False Eyelashes

Have you ever worn false eyelashes? I never had until The Big Fake Wedding a couple of months ago. I was excited that the makeup artist wanted to put them on, because I knew it was something I would never attempt on my own. I have to say that I loved how they looked - I mean, look at how long and perfectly even those lashes are (after 12+ hours of wear!)! What I didn't love was the process of her applying them. I kept wanting to blink at the wrong times, and it felt so weird to have something resting on my eyelid/lash area. I did eventually get used to the feeling, which was good because it was a long day! I was nervous to take them off, because I was afraid of ripping off my own lashes! It took a good 5 minutes of gently scrubbing with my makeup remover wipe before the lashes started to peel away.

My take: yes, I loved how they looked, and it was fun for something different! However, I can't imagine that I will have too many opportunities in my daily life where I need to have really killer eyelashes. I don't think it's worth all of the fuss of the application and removal.

What do you think? Are false lashes a part of your makeup routine? Do you apply them yourself?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of those desserts that's often overlooked, but I don't think it should be. It's a cinch to throw together and the ingredients are basic, but when a pound cake is done right, it's absolutely delicious. This is my go-to pound cake recipe. It turns out every time, and we absolutely love it. It's great on its own but this time of year we also like to top it with fresh strawberries.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5-7 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating only until yellow yolk disappears after each addition. Quickly beat in vanilla.

Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add to butter mixture in thirds, beating at low speed only until blended after each addition. Pour batter into pan. Gently tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles.

Fill a 2-cup ovenproof measuring cup or small baking pan with water, and place it in the oven on the rack below the tube pan.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

source: recipe from The Southern Living Community Cookbook

Friday, May 6, 2016

Links for your weekend

Have you seen the party-in-a-box crates from Crated? I love the pirate party and the Parisian bridal shower boxes.

Just picked up this book.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people saying "just you wait". This post was TOO GOOD.

Current morning coffee routine: this + this.

Would you let your kids plan your family vacation? I thought this article was fascinating.

Love this little kitchen nook.

KFC is making a nail polish that tastes like chicken. WUT.

Made me laugh.

How delicious do these look?!

One of my favorite shops Brim Papery is having a Mother's Day sale. Use code HEYMAY for 20% off your entire purchase through Sunday!

Greenville friends: Anthropologie is having Mother's Day crafts + a pop-up floral shop with Willow Florals tomorrow from 10-2. More details here!

(image source. Just You Wait post via Taylor Schumann.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Big Fake Wedding Virginia Beach

A couple of months ago I was able to participate in and attend The Big Fake Wedding in Virginia Beach! If you aren't familiar with The Big Fake Wedding, it is a really fun alternative to a bridal show. There's a vow renewal ceremony and reception, so brides- and grooms-to-be can experience wedding vendors--from the florists to the caterers to the bands--in action! My sister Lauren and her husband were the bride and groom for the The Big Fake Wedding Virginia Beach, and my other sister and I got to be the bridesmaids! Two of my sister's daughters were her flower girls, my mom was the mother-of-the-bride, my dad was the officiant: we made it a bit of a family affair, and it was SO much fun. 

We had an absolute blast interacting with all of the vendors that day. We spent several hours with the makeup and hair vendors getting ready before the dress and jewelry vendors got us dressed and bejeweled. We had several photo sessions with the photographers before the ceremony and reception started. Each vendor was wonderful to be with, and they made the entire event so perfect! The ceremony was sweet, my brother-in-law's vows made me cry (they've been married for 10 years and hearing their vows to each other after all that the Lord has brought them through was pretty moving), and there was a surprise proposal at the end of the ceremony! The reception was beautifully decorated, all of the food was delicious, the photo booth was a blast, and the band and DJ did a great job getting everyone onto the dance floor. All in all it was a great event, and if you're engaged or planning on getting engaged soon, you must attend The Big Fake Wedding in your city! Check here to find the list of cities The Big Fake Wedding will be coming to next.

And, I've included some of my favorite photos from the event after the jump, if you'd like to see!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Target Beauty Box // 2

I really enjoyed trying the products from March's Target Beauty Box, so I ordered the April box as well! Here's what was inside: 

Laneige Water Bank Soothing Mask // If you follow me on Snapchat, you saw that I tried this mask out last night, and I really loved it! It's a hydrogel mask, so it stuck to my face really nicely and was immediately cooling. After wearing it for 30 minutes, my face felt so hydrated. My face tends to be really dry, so I have to apply moisturizer each time I cleanse my face. I found that after this mask I didn't need any moisturizer before bed, which was a first for me! This would be great if you (like me) have to wear moisturizer every night, but in the summer it tends to feel really heavy on your skin. This would be  a great mask to do once or twice a week so that you can skip your nighttime moisturizer. 

Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation // I'm not a liquid foundation girl (I use powder foundation exclusively), but I have been wanting to try this foundation since it's a drugstore foundation that Kate of The Small Things Blog thinks is pretty good! I got the shade Classic Ivory, which I think is a pretty good match for me (I also tried Warm Porcelain which was absolutely horrifying). As far as a liquid foundation, I thought this blended in really well (I use this brush). It was pretty full coverage, and if I was interested in getting a liquid foundation for more a flawless look, at $8.99 I would definitely purchase this. 

Pantene AIRspray Hair Spray // This was nothing special. A lot of product sprays out at one time, which made my hair feel a little crunchy. When I do use hair spray, I like a lighter hold so that my hair doesn't feel weighed down, and this hair spray was not that. I wouldn't recommend.

Marlowe No. 022 Body Butter // I absolutely love this stuff! It has a nice, subtle but very pleasant scent, and it is very moisturizing without being sticky at all. This is something that I will definitely be buying when I run out! It is hands down my favorite thing in this box.

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes // I've used these wipes before, and I love them! I prefer to use a wipe when I take my makeup off at night, and I like that these are really gentle on my skin. I was really glad to get a pack of these in the box!

CeraVe Healing Ointment // This kind of reminded me of Aquaphor, but maybe a bit thicker. It's to put on dry, cracked, or chafed skin to provide healing and moisture. I didn't have any skin areas that really needed it, so I put it on the rough parts of my feet. It felt a little slippery to me, and I honestly didn't notice any difference. I think my callouses are in need of something a little more than ointment! That being said, this would probably be nice to have on hand in your medicine cabinet, especially in the winter months. 

Covergirl Colorlicious Lipstick // I was really excited to try this, since I've been on the search for a flattering lipstick. This particular one was not my favorite. The formula reminded me of all of the lipsticks that I've tried and hated: it bled outside my lips, felt kind of waxy going on, and took a lot of scrubbing to get the stain off my lips. I also didn't like the color at all (you can see it on me here). I will say that I was glad it was included in the box because I've already been trying different lipsticks, it just wasn't a winner for me.

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF 30 Lotion // I rubbed a little bit of this on my hand to try it out. I liked the scent and it wasn't too greasy feeling, so I will probably be using this on my legs and stomach this summer. Like I said last month, I prefer something a little gentler for my face/neck/chest, but I wouldn't mind using this for my not-so-sensitive skin. 

I thought this was a good box! I loved the Marlowe No. 022 Body ButterSimple Cleansing Facial Wipes, and Laneige Water Bank Soothing Mask, and I was really glad I was able to try Covergirl Colorlicious Lipstick and Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation. I could do without the others but will definitely use the Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF 30 Lotion.

May's Target Beauty Box just went on sale today. You can order it HERE. These do tend to sell out within a couple of hours, so hurry up and order it if you're interested!