This month: long-lasting makeup, a game-changing smartphone camera trick, five excellent books and our latest binge-watchable series!



My personal stylist friend Lisa is now a Senegence distributor (they make Lipsense) and she offered me the chance to try out this long-lasting (4-18 hour) lip colour (also waterproof, smudgeproof, kiss-proof, gluten-free, wax-free, lead-free, cruelty-free and GMO-free!) and I was extremely impressed.

I chose the colour Caramel Apple, as I wanted a fairly neutral shade that I would be able to wear to work and with a lot of different outfits, and I love the way it looks when applied. The application is a little bit different from traditional lip colour (e.g., you apply in one direction with the wand and do three coats altogether) but I mastered it in no time. A gloss goes on top to seal the colour and add shine, and the colour doesn’t budge – nothing on your teeth!

The first day I wore Lipsense I reapplied the gloss (not the colour) once at lunchtime as recommended, and by the end of the day the colour still looked the same as when I had first put it on. It started to fade in the evening, as I didn’t bother with more gloss at dinnertime, knowing my makeup would soon be coming off anyway. All it took was a bit of the Ooops Remover to take the rest off at bedtime. It’s nice knowing that I have a colour I can put on in the morning and not have to worry about – I’m already thinking about which shade to pick next!


The lip colour itself is $30, and you also need to invest in the gloss ($25) and Ooops Remover ($12) but the products are long-lasting: if you use the same colour daily, it should last anywhere from 4 to 6 months.

To order, join Lisa’s Facebook group or visit her You Glow, Mama! website.



Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Eyeliner

I’m always on the hunt for a smooth-to-apply eyeliner, and this one was a gift from a student! It works like a charm, and for a reasonable price. I will definitely be buying another when I run out.



Here it is: before taking your photo, touch the spot on the screen where you want the camera to focus and adjust exposure (the AF/AE – auto focus/auto exposure lock button).

This was a game-changer for me, as I always have trouble with lighting in my Smartphone photos, especially in my house because of all of the windows. I took these sample shots in one of our classrooms to demonstrate how it works. In the first photo, the camera was adjusting for the bright window, even though I wanted a shot of the bulletin board. For the second photo, I touched the dark bulletin board on the screen, activating the AF/AE lock, and immediately the screen changed for the next shot. Thanks to Jaak Nilson for sharing this tip in his book Smartphone Photography!




(Click on links for more information or to purchase – and help me continue to bring you reviews! Clearly I was in a nonfiction mood this month…)

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan



An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?


The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin



During her multibook investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively.
More than 600,000 people have taken her online quiz, and managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people make significant, lasting change.
The Four Tendencies hold practical answers if you’ve ever thought…
·         People can rely on me, but I can’t rely on myself.
·         How can I help someone to follow good advice?
·         People say I ask too many questions.
·         How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask—or who keeps telling me what to do?
With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It’s far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.


The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino



Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:

  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”


The Year of Less by Cait Flanders


In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy-only keeping her from meeting her goals-she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food-and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life-and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.


Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman



For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Timesjournalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise–ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show’s inner workings: what it’s like to be trapped in the mansion “bubble”; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite.

Kaufman also explores what our fascination means, culturally: what the show says about the way we view so-called ideal suitors, our subconscious yearning for fairy-tale romance, and how this enduring television show has shaped society’s feelings about love, marriage, and feminism by appealing to a marriage plot that’s as old as Jane Austen.


The Blacklist


We watched the first 4 seasons of this show on Netflix in a ridiculously short period of time!

For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington has been one of the globe’s most wanted fugitives. But then he agreed to work with the FBI to catch his “blacklist” of mobsters, spies and international terrorists — on the condition that he must work with profiler Elizabeth Keen. Red’s true intentions — choosing Liz, a woman with whom he seemingly has no connection — are unclear. Does Liz have secrets of her own? Red promises to teach Liz to think like a criminal “to see the bigger picture,” whether she wants to or not.

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