Book Review: Come Sundown, Nora Roberts

This is my first rodeo. No, literally, this is my first go at a Nora Roberts novel – and I have some thoughts. As always, welcome to a book review, where all the opinions expressed are solely mine and I am open to new and challenging opinions. This book was sent to me by a wonderful human on a book train I joined a little while ago. For the first few chapters, I genuinely and audibly hated it. It came across abrasive and with opposing parallel stories running that seemed to have absolutely no point. There were way too many characters for my brain to process at once and I was not adapting well. I chose to stick around in an attempt to challenge myself to truly read outside of my genre preference. So onward I trudged, begrudgingly.

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As mentioned, the book runs over 2 timelines, each running in parallel. This is something I actually appreciate in most novels, although the reasoning in this particular context took a little longer to unravel than I would have liked. I spent most of the first part wrapped up in the scarce moments we had in the past, feeling deep empathy towards the main character we’re introduced to, Alice. The present timeline however, introduced multiple characters with interlocking story arcs. The leading lady, Bodine, is strong and well developed over the course of the novel. You also have your standard romantic interest for Bodine in the hometown return, Callen (who I have no objections to) and his lovely horse Sundown (who I longed for more time with).  Oh, did I not mention this entire story takes place on a ranch? Basic cowboy novel, right? Well, buckle up because you’re in for an unexpected ride.

As the novel progresses, I became engrossed, even emotionally invested in the story development of Alice and the deeply tragic circumstance she finds herself in after being kidnapped and held as a “wife” to a man she knows only as “Sir”. Don’t worry, I’ll hold the spoilers. With that, I become more and more curious about how this tied into Bodine’s story line. What was the point of this apparent present day parallel? Why were we connecting these 2 seemingly disconnected women standing out of time? Well, stick around boys and girls, because the plot thickens. Although I could easily tell you how, I won’t. Just trust that this is a story of family, love and strength. Roberts brings Bodine and Alice together in a way that clicks in the most beautiful and tragic way. And just when you think the story has climaxed and start settling in for a comfortable wind-down, you were wrong!

The real climax comes with the amazing plot twist in the last few chapters. However, I did think that the amazing end was rushed. What was presented in 2 chapters could probably have been expanded on and fleshed out to 5 chapters if we gave up some of the general precursor fluff. To be honest, I would have been more than happy to have either added a few more chapters in, or lost a little bit of the romance between side characters to give way for more of Alice’s story during her captivity as well as a more fleshed out closing sequence – having the closing play out over a few days rather than the hasty few hours those 2 chapters presents. Although, in retrospect the haste with which the book closed adds to the urgency of the closing sequence. So, to each his own.

If you’re a fan of Nora Roberts or have any other suggestions, let me know what I should read next.

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Avengers, Assemble!

1Avengers, assemble! I know, I know, stay with me here. I love superhero movies, the action and drama, convictions and human flaws all shown in a culminated attempt to save the world; the good guys always win. I’ve recently taken to re-watching the Marvel plethora of movies. When spread over 10 years, you miss the little nuances, the little threads that run through the entirety of these movies when viewed in their solidarity. When put together, you have the opportunity to understand the mind of the team behind the scenes that formulated this marvelous 10 year spanning cannon of work, knowing through each of these 20 movies where the end was. I mean, they were teasing movies that were 5 years down the line. That’s foresight!

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So, why then do we question His love for us when we are lost? How much more does your Father love you? Didn’t think I’d go there, did you? Think about it for a moment. Look back at your life, the years you’ve spent trying to climb through a window and then, looking back, saw a door open that you were not looking for. Through my span of 26 years, I can attest to having seen more than my fair share of this in my life. Circumstances have the tendency of unraveling when we step back and take a moment to look at the whole, even though we may not see the bigger picture in the beginning, when we’re too close to see the greater details. Don’t focus on the single thread in the tapestry and risk missing the grander design.

Psalm 84:11
For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.

Our human tendency is such that we tend to overlook the progress we have already made and become enraptured in our current circumstances. We see an immediate problem and try to resolve it within ourselves, when we have the opportunity to call on bigger, better reinforcements. The thing that struck me in these movies, is that there was an idea that took 20 movies, spanning 10 years to culminate in the idea that an individual on their own was not enough, backup was needed. Likewise with our lives. Often times we’re too close to a situation to see the growth, but when we take as step back to assess each moment in our lives, we see the Presence in our lives, undeniably guiding each step for our benefit, each moment for our growth. We see the backup that’s been there all the time, but we’ve been too close to life to see.

In everything, find yourself in His presence, in His group and under His captainship.
X

I am woman, Andrea Naidoo… A student in transit

When asked to write this piece I truly had no idea where to start and I figure the most truthful place will be where I am right now, smack dab in the middle of it.
My journey so far has not made the most sense for me but when I recognise God’s hand in the works it all fits perfectly. I am currently 21 years old and have just completed my final exams in my post graduate diploma in accounting. Yes, accounting – the least exciting of all careers, but a doorway to greater opportunities. I currently await my results and honesty I have no idea which way it could go but I choose to believe that God will work it out just as He always has.

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As a child I always leaned towards toys like cash registers or being the banker during a game of Monopoly (even though I got bored half way through and left) and that was about the only link from my childhood to this career path. Fast forward to high school and let me tell you – I HATED accounting. Keep this between you and I, but that was pretty much the class I either zoned out during or flat out bunked because I just didn’t want to go. I had already decided by 16 that I was never going to be a bookkeeper and I had to take the subject because I needed at least background knowledge. I needed that knowledge because what I did know was that I was going into the corporate field. I didn’t know how or any details for that matter but I had that sense of general direction. I’m pretty sure now that was God given. Once I matriculated I had to eventually make a specific decision. College was on the horizon; my matric results were released and again, still had no clue what exactly I wanted to be. I always had the attitude of “just go with it and see where I end up” along with “have a little faith”. That little mixture is what allowed my faith to grow. It allowed me to, dare I say it, let go and let God.

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So there I was, with all these options, to leave home and study something purely to avoid accounting or stay here in Durban and try it out. I decided to meet with my spiritual mother and after discussing things with her (a giant in the corporate world) she helped me see that all the things I wanted in life; traveling and running a company, would come from this qualification. So I said, “Why not?”, and signed up.
Becoming a Chartered Accountant is NO JOKE. It is a journey that takes at least 7 years, including an honors course, board exams, 3 years of experience and the loss of all sanity, and I had no idea. I think God allowed me to fall into the unknown because had I had all the information, I would have 100% talked myself out of it. Along the way God has carried me through challenges that I so clearly know that I could not have done on my own and that it was all Him. I never planned on this, and because of that I always felt that I had to work harder than most to keep up. I’ve met plenty of people along the way that were much smarter than I was, more experienced and prepared and yet I still made it through.

“but moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” –Exodus 14:13 NLT

I’ve lost friends along the way and I have gained friends along way, but God showed me who He placed in my life for my journey and those are the people that have stayed and continue to stay no matter what. This journey has also taught me a lot about myself and my personal struggles with things I didn’t know I needed to deal with, such as my anxiety. I believe God brought this to the forefront to allow me to grow and learn more about who I am and where He is taking me. Take a moment today and try to recognise people God placed in your life to be support structures and to teach you things you need to know. Do a little soul searching and find the areas you need to work on internally. Those are always areas of target, to hurt you or to grow you. It’s up to you to decide.

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There have been 3 times where I received a word from the Lord through a man of God about this journey and that confirmation was to strengthen my faith. I learned that I had to trust God, that He will work out whatever situation I am facing no matter how high the mountain may seem. I hope that in reading this brief version of my testimony and the mess that it may sound like, that you also would try to just trust Him. If you allow Him to direct your life according to His will, you will see things work in ways that you never thought it could and you may feel you don’t even deserve. You will see the favour in being His child. So I encourage you to try to see Him in the midst of the middle. That place where you have no idea how you even got there or how you are going to see the end goal. God is in that place, guiding you along the way. All you have to do is look from a different perspective. Don’t forget to encourage those around you to stay strong because God is at work.

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” – Philippians 1:6 MSG

A big thank you to my big sis for allowing me the opportunity to share my story. See you soon!

Xx Andy

You shouldn’t do that…

There it is. The statement that moves me to the depths of madness, “girls shouldn’t do that”. Whether this is just me being rebellious and choosing to ignore the things that are expected of me; I don’t take well to being told where my line of capacity starts and stops. Part of growth and lift, maturing and exploring the world around us, is stretching our limitations.

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Whether that’s stretching and growing our faith actively, or simply stepping out of our comfort-zone and trying new things. I strongly believe that women are strong and determined individuals that are capable of great and spectacular feats, ones that the world should not be surprised to bear witness to. Personally, I’ve found my area of stretching where I naturally would never have dug deep, in my desire to write and game and delve into fantasy and sci-fi, embracing the world of the superhero or travel, even if that means I do it alone (I know, taboo, single women shouldn’t travel alone for safety reasons – insert eye roll here). I see the expectations laid out for women daily; whether in their appearance and career choices. Then I turn to pride myself in seeing the women that rise to challenge the norms, the ideals society has created for them. There is strength in the feminine, that doesn’t have to equate to delving into a radical love for daisies (but if that’s your jam, flow with it), but rather in the knowledge that we were created to be feminine by design, to serve our unique purposes. Rest in the knowledge that the dreams and desires in our hearts may not suit what we’re told, but that they were placed there by He who knows best. Rather than hearken to the disgruntled moans of a society seeking validation in themselves, in their own accomplishments, rest your soul by making His ways yours, inseparable as the sea is from the horizon line. You have to step out of the boat to walk on the water.

X

Travel Diaries: Sydney 2015

I love to travel; seeing other lives being lived, the depths of culture to be experienced and the beauty and uniqueness of the world gives my life a boost of adrenaline. The vast space and distance seemingly immense, yet the reality of the world that has become so much smaller with technology made distance another number to be overcome.

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Today, I’m stopping by to reminisce on a trip from 2015, with these wonderful pictures taken on beat-up Samsung S4 (I know, I’m that old, right). For most of my childhood, Sydney had been the place I’d had the deepest desire to visit. I’d had an inexplicable attraction to a country that I’d known nothing about, and was extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to be on the trip to begin with. The country is beautiful, what I could only describe as the perfect mix of Cape Town and Durban. The airs and graces of city life wrapped in the warm and coastal vibes fills you with a sense of adventure. Here’s the catch with travelling, know where you want to go and what experience you want to come back home with.

It’s unrealistic to try to experience everything the exact way you want to in 5 days. It becomes critical to know they type of experience you want, for me I wanted Sydney to be an adventure, and man was it an adventure. Don’t get me wrong, the flights were a horror experience, mostly because the flight time direct from Johannesburg to Sydney is borderline unbearable, but the ultimate experience is worth tackling the anxiety head on.

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Have a list of key locations that you would want to visit, mine was Bondi Beach (warranted, it was July) and it was an experience that may have been simple, but I will never forget. That’s what Sydney was about, making memories, no matter how simple they are, that last and leave a mark that changes the way you approach the world. The city was the ideal of fast-paced, yet there are still souls that are seeking joy and human connection. There are places that I visited that were intentional; Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo, the Sydney Opera House and Lunar Park. And then there are places that I had stumbled upon in my wanderings; be it the areas surrounding Parramatta, Westfields mall or the weekend’s street markets around the harbour. Then there are places I’m yearning to see that are drawing me back; the botanical gardens, a show in the opera house or Madame Tussades.

My point is, know what you want and chase it. Finding an amazing travel agent, or doing your own homework on the flight schedules and accomodation, travel requirements and cost implications are critical when traveling, because let’s be realistic – budget matters.
TripAdvisor is an amazing tool that can be used to gauge the places you’d like to visit, view other reviews and leave your own experiences and opinions for the next person. It makes travelling, packing correctly and planning your trip so much more… advised. Puns aside, it’s been an amazing asset that I’ve used repeatedly on future travels.

Chase the adventure, the world is smaller than we think and the distance serves to bring us closer.

X

What’s in my bag?

I love checking out other “what’s in my bag” posts. I find them so personal and revealing, but they’re also a brilliant source of ideas to add to my expanding luggage list. I’ve been carrying the Michael Kors Selma Saffiano for about 2 weeks now and I am in love. Yes, I am aware that 2 weeks is not a particularly long time, but the things in my bag are generally a constant. So, let me welcome you into my handbag…

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I’m starting with this bag is incredibly heavy duty. The leather is resilient and tough. The matte finish makes it a beautiful wear without having to worry about scratches or marks. So far, this has been an amazing addition to my collection and the brown with gold hardware is a perfect. There’s a substantial amount of room in the bag and you could probably fit a smaller laptop in there (link below).

PRODUCTS

IMG_8531I’m not one to keep 100 products in my bag. Let’s be honest, I’m way too lazy for touch ups. What I do keep is a cute little which compact mirror souvenir from Singapore. I love keeping this Chloe: Love Story hand lotion on me, I love the floral scent and it’s clearly functional. Makeup products I do keep and usually reach for after lunch are the Mac Studio Fix powder in NW43 and the lipstick for the day. This day happened to be the Bobbi Brown Lip Colour in : Roseberry.

BASICS

I’m a creature of habit and I tend to keep these basics moving with be between handbags. They’re pretty easy to grab and hop around with so, in no particular order:

 1. Mimco wallet – this is so heavy duty. I’ve had it for around 3 years now it’s still pretty new considering I’m pretty aggressive with it (similar linked below).

2. XBOX One Controller – Yes, that’s in my handbag. It so happened to be necessary for this particular day (and it is a regular guest) for co-op game play.

3. Emergency pouch – I’ll be honest, this little pouch is life. It carries everything for medication to a tube of mascara, blotting paper and pretty much anything else you could possibly imagine.

4. Glasses – Guys, my eyesight is shocking. This is not a fashion statement, this is me needing to see things in the real world.

5. Bullet Journal – I’ve been bullet journaling for about 3 years now and I’ve learned and have still been experimenting with layouts for a while. I’ve recently picked up an A5 Moleskin dotted journal to test out and it goes EVERYWHERE with me. Naturally, there’s the obligatory pen that every control-freak carries around.

ELECTRONICS

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By far the most critical aspect, electronics. Clearly not in the picture is my basic girl gold iPhone and iPad mini (essential for digital books). Chargers and headphones are stored in the world’s cutest pouch (can you tell I have a thing?). I also have the heaviest powerbank every, but man does it hold a charge. My phones either being used for social media or music during drives so charging does become necessary.


https://www.michaelkors.com/search/_/N-0/Ntt-selma>

https://www.maccosmetics.co.za/product/13847/251/products/makeup/face/foundation/studio-fix-powder-plus-foundation

https://www.edgars.co.za/catalog/product/view/id/129682/s/lip-color/?utm_source=google_shopping&gclid=Cj0KCQjw_7HdBRDPARIsAN_ltcLIwCflmRDC0KGLthfj7gFi2gCEUeZotvwETxZintmkA-WYEXyJLg4aAmLnEALw_wcB

https://www.takealot.com/romoss-polymos-20-20000-mah-power-bank/PLID41836524?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_7HdBRDPARIsAN_ltcImzvInp46mAOQaJ6DTiw80U-PB5_NYYJNGIbzKfFgu3Te6ayijQnAaAugXEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.mimco-accessories.com/shop/wallets-and-pouches/small-wallets/60221743-9621/MIM-FOLD-WALLET.html

I am woman…Danica Naidoo, fresh to faith

Psalm 116: 5-9
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Danica

I think that it is the most beautiful thing – knowing that there is a higher power who is this grand-master puppeteer. And, even though he has billions of stings to pull in so many directions, every second of every day, somehow, he makes the time and effort to tug on your string in the most perfect way. That right there, is God unfailing. And the ability to trust that even though he controls all these strings, there is still space in the palm of his hands for you – well, that… that right there is faith.

Fun In The LabI think I can safely say that I am a very career-orientated individual, and I pride myself on where I am today. I can also say that I am a strong Christian woman, who prides herself on purpose. However, I can’t exactly say that I chose it all from the start. I went from wanting to pursue medicine, to forensic science (I blame CSI), to medical science, then getting my degree dropped to biological sciences for under-performing, to ending up in the water and sanitation sector. I mean I play with human faeces and intestinal worms for a living! It is an ugly, dirty field, and honestly, I would not have it any other way! I am currently completing my first year of PhD studies in chemical engineering, moving from a Master’s in biological sciences. I have been able to travel to 4 countries thus far for conferences and training of laboratories and have published 3 scientific papers. I have encountered the best mentor and have learnt so much whilst accidentally finding this field – it really doesn’t feel like much of an accident any more. So how did it begin?

I have also not always known Christ. I was born and raised as a Hindu, though not a very religious one. It is tradition to follow in your father’s footsteps, and so my dad did not have that guidance being estranged from his father since he was around 4 years of age. There was therefore no real footpath for my mum, my siblings and I to follow. My parents basically winged it! But somehow, something never quite sat right. I know personally, I observed for the sake of observing, and prayed because it was the right, dutiful thing to do. We did not fast, we ate what we wanted to and we observed the bare minimum. I partook in the rituals because everyone else did, but never did quite understand what exactly I was doing, what it all meant, and why I was doing it.
Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way trying to say that I just knew that following Christ was my destined path. It was in fact just the opposite of that, as I was that despicable human being that ridiculed Christianity. I am not ashamed to say that I mocked the praises to God that I just could not fathom, and laughed at how entranced I believed people became at the mention of Jesus. In fact, my entire family did! I can now see how blatant ignorance swayed my point of view. It is easy to point fingers when you don’t truly understand.

My Doggo Babies
So how did the Naidoo’s embark on this enthralling quest? Well, life happened. This story could fill up the pages of an entire book, but I will try and sum it up. And I speak of “us” throughout, as this story does not belong to one of us alone, but to each of us individually and as a whole, as we each felt the pressure and shed the tears. Each one of us have had to deal, and we were forced to mature beyond our years. We are a family of 5 – dad, mum, myself, my little brother Damian and the smallest being Denali, my sister. My parents have been entrepreneurs for the longest time. From running an insurance brokerage, to a take-away and bar, to a salon, to a logistics company – they have done it all.  The breaking point that almost crippled my family, was the fall of their logistics company. Honestly, we have always been a financially stable, and well-off family. My parents have worked so hard to make sure that we are well provided for all the time. We had our ups and downs throughout life, but we still had all that we needed and more. And then it all came to a startling halt in 2013. Money came in and fell through the cracks like water – it just never lasted. Nothing seemed to work, and a very thick darkness settled over our home. There was always anger and despair, with each member constantly fighting with one another. We then started selling possessions for the quick buck, to make ends meet. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and that is no exaggeration. We grew so frustrated that we basically quit faith and pushed God out of our lives, literally. I remember feeling like prayer was a waste of time, and that every time I tried to talk to God, there was a black wall in front of me, and so it went nowhere. We tossed every godly possession out of our home. I saw the visage of a broken, weary woman in my mum, with nothing more to give, and no space left for further disappointment. We felt abandoned by God, and went further so as to question if God really existed? What kind of a sick joke was this?

Before we knew it, banks were after the roof over our heads, and the cars we drove. We almost lost our home on a few occasions, and that is the scariest thing one could possibly encounter. We saw my mum’s car get repossessed. Seeing your parents’ spirits break so irreparably is shattering. We reached a point where we did not know where the next meal would come from. We borrowed from whomever we could – yet they still made sure we remained in school and university. The financial situation worsened, and so the darkness at home thickened. We all felt so lost and lived each day for the day – we just got by.  After months and months of nothingness, I came home one day in July 2014, to my parents saying, “sit down, we need to talk.” And I was told that they have reached a point of complete hopelessness, and they have decided to visit the local church up the road. They said they needed a change and some light, and this was the only thing that came to heart. We were told that we would not be forced into following them, but we all then decided to take these steps together.
We attended church for the first time in 2014, and I cannot say it has been an easy journey since then. Our faith has still been tested thoroughly, with days o raking coin together to buy food still rearing its head. Days where we would be stressed about our electricity being cut. But for the first time in years, praying did not feel like a forced practice; a sham. That day when I stepped into the church, I felt very out of place, but also, so peaceful as this presence washed over me, and by the end of the service, I realised that this is where I am meant to be. We had a lot to learn, and I did feel disadvantaged at times, not growing with Christ from a child. However, it has only been a path of growth and development, where we now understood our bond with God. We still had obstacles to overcome. My dad had many health scares – one being a heart attack resulting in him flatlining. But He came through strong and fighting. Our financial state is still sometimes very shaky. There are extreme highs and there are extreme lows, but through it all, we have learnt to trust in a higher power. Finally, there was some light in this home again. We moved churches, and in 2017, we found a home at Rivers Church (Durban North). It took some time, but I eventually partnered with the church two weeks ago and have decided that it is time to get more involved by serving. This journey has only begun.

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My “God’s Not Dead” Moment:

I think it is important to speak of a very special moment that we experienced as a family after we started our walk with the Lord. I personally believe this was a miracle from God, despite how small and insignificant it might seem to others. We were at a point where there was literally no money left in the household. We were pooling every cent and rand to come up with a meal for dinner that night and realised we had used up every last bit. We were at one of our lowest points. Feeling completely dismayed, my parents sat with their heads in their hands, wondering what to do or who to ask for help. And just like that, on our staircase in the middle of the day, R70 was found. It was just lying there. We asked every person in the house who said it did not belong to them. With how dire the situation was, we would know if we even had a R10 to spare. Nobody else had access to our home. The money just appeared out of thin air, and that night we were able to buy bread, tomatoes and tinned fish, and had a hot meal before bed. Apparently making bread and fish go a long way is a favourite of the Lord’s. This was a defining moment for my entire family. God always comes through!

5 Things I Have Learnt On My Journey…

1) Family over everything! People will come and go in your darkest hours, but family will stick it out, and you will come out on top.
2) The journey with Jesus Christ is never a straight road – It is not quick fix and does not mean your problems disappear. However, it does mean that you learn how to deal with the fact that you are not in control – the outcomes have already been written for you.
3) Struggle makes you stronger – Difficulties build you as a person and also solidifies your faith. If you can trust God in the darkest hour, then walking with him is never a problem.
4) Struggle makes you smarter – Learning to live with minimal teaches you that counting your cents on a daily is a very good principle to live by.
5) God will never fail you! He is able, and he will always be by your side, even when all hope seems lost. We have had so many instances where we felt completely desolate, yet God made a way even at the very last hour.

Every time I have done something in an act of faith, God does something right back! I do not and never will regret my decision to follow Jesus Christ. I feel a sense of purpose that God has put in me as a scientist, to somehow better His world. I have met beautiful people along my journey, and I know there is so much more to come! Thank you to each and every person who gave this post their time of day. And thank you to Crys for allowing me to share what I hold so closely to my heart!
XOXO, Dani

Let’s talk makeup removal…

Let's talk makeup removal

I know, there are literally a million products available on the market for makeup removal. What on Earth could I possibly have to tell you? I have problematic, combination, sensitive skin. It tends to react to anything and everything, given the opportunity. I’ve had to keep my routine particularly minimal and subtle whilst making sure it stays effective. To do this, I’ve found 2 products that have given me the best makeup removal without provoking my skin.

Step 1: Coconut Oil

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This is the most amazing, multitasking product that you could possibly get your hands on. You can buy this in bulk at any pharmacy or health store and decant into smaller, more usable quantities. I kid you not, you could literally get this in a 1 litre tub and store it for later use, or use it in other ways. Coconut oil melts the makeup off your skin without dehydrating it, or tugging and leaving you dry and irritated. The simplicity and affordability of the product coupled with its accessibility makes it a convenient and surprising option. I tested this out on a whim as per the recommendation of Pinterest (because naturally, that’s where all the best… and most questionable ideas come from). I’ve never looked back. This tackles waterproof mascara with the stealth and agility of a ninja. Just, massage it over the desired areas and wipe clean with a wash cloth.

Step 2: Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water: Sensitive

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I started using this product when it first hit the scene and have not looked back. I don’t use this on its own as I find it’s not strong enough to remove ALL my makeup (especially on a full-face kind of day). But, it is amazing in conjunction with the coconut oil as a follow-up product. Anything that’s left on your skin, and remaining traces of mascara. A 400ml bottle retails for R79.95 at Clicks and, let’s be realistic, that’s wildly more affordable than most makeup removal products. I’ve been using the Micellar Sensitive and have found it light on my skin and again, it doesn’t leave my skin irritated. The affordability of this product combined with the ease with which it finishes up the makeup removal process is what has made this a staple for me, even when I’m traveling.

If you have any other fantastic and surprising products that have become staples in your skincare, be sure to let me know.

X


https://clicks.co.za/garnier_micellar-sensitive/p/242398

Spring beginnings

“When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
– C S Lewis, The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

As we’ve broken into spring, I’ve been haunted by the image of the Great Lion shuffling his mane and ushering in spring with a slow exhale on the fleeting winds. Dramatic, I know, but it’s still a sensation that took days to shake. All seasons were clearly not created equal. What is it about spring that brings about this deep sense of hopefulness? 07.09.18The more I simmered on Lewis’ imagery, the more I unraveled my desire for something fresh, a deep longing for something to hope for. In part, the hope of the new comes with the release from ties of old, from the things that held us captive in the season we found ourselves trapped in, the thing encasing us in a winter. The hope of the new brings with it the prospects of relief, direction and wonder. That’s what we all long for, right? And that wonder, that glorious moment the ice melts to reveal the first sprigs of spring, that moment is something deeply personal to each of us.

As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. – Hosea 6:3

The new is fostered in an atmosphere of anticipation. That’s what spring means, it’s the anticipation and optimism that has been brought in with the change of tide. The surety of provision and rain, with conviction as strong as the surety that the sun will rise tomorrow. Perhaps the shifts to green, the warmer weather and longer days trigger a renewal of hope in us that has long been dead. And in the beginning… that’s what this is, a beginning. A start. The old, the past, the loss, the mediocrity, the doubt, it’s everything that we choose to leave by the wayside and begin again. Not because we have control over the changes in the season, for that in itself is in the shuffle of His mane – far beyond our control, but we choose to accept the shift as a moment for our own movement. Because that is what He’s really about; leaving behind the past, leaving behind the old and the dead things that have been for the new and the fresh, the wonder that lies ahead. Winter must end for spring to begin.

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Book Review: All We Ever Wanted, Emily Griffin

I’ve recently joined an online book club on Hello Gorgeous by Angela Lanter. This was purely an attempt for me to be accountable for my reading, as well as take a moment to start engaging with new people, broadening my horizons if you will. The first book we dove into was by Emily Griffin, titled All We Ever Wanted. This has been my first encounter with the author, and I find her style of writing to be comfortable. This is a light read that makes the subject matter far more approachable, considering that there are strong themes running through the novel.

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The basis of this story surrounds two families, living lives that are as different as you could possibly imagine. We’re thrown into the personal lives of Nina, mother to Finch, and Tom, father to Lyla, as they navigate their lives and the crises their respective children find themselves in. This is the part of the story where I add that this will not be a book I’ll be picking up again. The tone with which Griffin writes, although ultimately accomplishing it’s true purpose, left me with a bitter after-taste towards the characters. Suffice it to say, I developed some serious emotions and opinions about the characters around chapter 3 and stuck this read out to the end for the sheer reason of being in the book club. Now, that being said, this was not a book in a genre I would naturally gravitate towards, so I will give credit where credit is due, Griffin did get me to read through to the end. Without any spoilers (because opportunity for those are rife), I will say that this was an intelligent way of discussing female challenges through both Lyla, who presents a teenage narrative, and Nina, giving a more matriarchal perspective. This balance in the perspectives gave the book a beautiful and light pace, making it an all-round comfortable read. There are definitely pro’s and con’s to this novel, but it was definitely worth at least one read through. Give it the opportunity to surprise you, but also experience the valleys and peaks of these all too human characters.

If you’re looking for a light read that really…gets under your skin… give this novel a shot. You’ll never really know unless you try.

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