Book Review

Book Review: Beginner Chunky Knitting Patterns

While I love knitting and helping run Warm Up Ohio, the local chapter of Warm Up America, I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to follow most patterns. I gravitate towards simple knitting projects because I love the meditative repetition. Also, I like to to multitask and knit while I’m watching TV, which really only works for basic patterns that require minimal counting. Because of this, I was super excited to read Beginner Chunky Knitting Patterns: 14 easy to knit patterns for women, babies, and the home.

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This book was written by Gina Michele, whose website has long been one of my favorite resources for craft ideas! This e-book is also a great resource. I love the variety of patterns here. Plus, they really are all for beginners. They’re easy to follow and knit up quickly since they use chunkier yarn and bigger needles. This is a fantastic book for those who are still learning to follow knitting patterns. I highly recommend both this book and Gina’s website! I’ve so enjoyed following her life journey with her blog (and it’s even inspired me to give a few vegan recipes a try!)

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Personal

Best of the Sephora Sale!

Today, I’m going to post something different! While I mostly use this blog for reviews and writing updates, I also want to start sharing some more personal, lifestyle things. At one point, I had lots of blogs for lots of different topics, but I’d rather just have this one be a more complete portrait of me and my various interests, so expect some more posts like this in the future too! Recently, Sephora held their semi-annual sale, and I wanted to share some of the BEST purchases I made during the sale!

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Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask – This is an amazing face mask for acne, especially the pesky hormonal kind. My skin always looks clearer the day after I use this mask.

FRESH Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer – I adore this product because it really hydrates my skin without breaking me out or making me look kind of oily. I swear it even makes my pores look smaller.

Pretty Vulgar Bury them With a Smile Lipstick in shade If Kisses Could Kill – I’ve spent so much time looking for a dark wine-colored lipstick that doesn’t have brown undertones and which doesn’t look like I’m celebrating Halloween too early. This one is perfect!

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation – This is an amazing medium-coverage foundation that blends so well. It evens out my skin and covers all minor flaws without being too obvious. I love that it also keeps me from looking oily and stays all day!

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment – This is my new go-to tinted moisturizer. It moisturizes well, reduces redness, and provides a nice light coverage. I adore this for minimal makeup days!

Did you get anything in the sale or do you have a product you want to share? Feel free to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Movie Review

Movie Review: The Mermaid – Lake of the Dead

I love discovering weird, unique horror movies. Too often while I’m watching a movie, I feel overwhelmed by the familiarity – let’s be honest, most zombie and exorcism movies play out the same way every time. So, I get really excited when I stumble across something different. Last night, I took a chance and watched a lesser known Russian film The Mermaid – Lake of the Dead, and it far exceeded my expectations!

The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead Poster

Here’s the IMDB Description: “An evil Mermaid falls in love with Marina’s fiancé Roman and aims to keep him away from Marina in her Kingdom of Death under water. The Mermaid is a young woman who drowned a few centuries ago. Marina only has one week to overcome her fear of the dark water, to remain human in the deathly fight with the monsters and not to become one herself.”

Honestly, I think that the description does this film a disservice. It’s extremely basic, while the film itself is rife with complexities. Rather than the mermaids I’ve been used to (thanks to Disney, of course), this type of mermaid is actually based on the Russian folklore about the rusalka. Also, the film focuses a lot on Roman’s family, which is very much linked to the Mermaid. His sister is a very dynamic, complicated character (actually, far more complex than his fiance Marina).

I was expecting something extra cheesy, but this was actually quite artsy in terms of cinematography. The repeating images of water (in all types of situation, with all different camera angles) were masterfully done. Originally shot in Russian, this was dubbed in English. I would almost always rather read subtitles, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how organic the dub felt for this particular film. It wasn’t at all distracting.

In terms of the plot and writing, there were a few clarity issues, but they weren’t glaring. Mostly, if you’re familiar with the rusalka folklore or if you really pay attention to the black and white illustrated prologue which quickly explains the folklore, it should be easy to fill in some of the gaps. While mostly predictable, I still enjoyed the uniqueness of the story and the beauty of the cinematography.

In terms of the scare-factor, this was not the kind of horror movie that’s going to keep you up at night or make you afraid to swim in a lake (though, for the record, I’m already afraid of swimming in lakes – who knows what kind of bacteria is lurking!) However, there are some effective jump scares and creepy imagery for sure. I definitely recommend this film to horror-lovers with a soft spot for dark fairytales!

If you’ve seen this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Feel free to share them in the comment section.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Pet Sematary

I recently saw some previews for the new film adaptation of Pet Sematary and it made me realize I had never actually read it. I have a huge amount of respect for Stephen King and all that he’s done for the horror genre, but his writing style isn’t always my favorite, especially in his longer, more recent books. Still, since this one is Classic King, I thought I’d give it a try before seeing the movie!

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I truly believe that this is one of King’s best! It doesn’t quite reach the level of my top three favorite King stories: It, The Shining, and ‘Salem’s Lot – but it was still a very enjoyable reading experience. Generally, the premise is about a young family that moves to a small town shrouded in local legend about a Native American cemetery with powers to raise the dead. I’ll avoid giving too many details because I abhor spoilers.

Overall, this novel proves that King is a master of suspense and foreshadowing. Coming in at about 400 pages, this book was much longer than it needed to be (which is another trademark of Stephen King), yet just when the story was seeming to drag too much, hints of future horror were dropped in expert fashion. It was absolutely enough to keep the momentum and intrigue.

I was surprised at how long the buildup took before we got to the crux of the story. Much of the beginning half is devoted to intricate character development, which I did like (but which I know many will not). When we finally get to the story’s climax, the rest of the book felt rushed compared to the slow pacing of the beginning, but it still left me with that great eerie feeling long after the last page. Now, I’m super excited to see the two film adaptations as I know this plot really lends itself to a more visual medium!

I definitely recommend this one to readers looking for Classic King nostalgia (before his books became all 600+ pages) and to those who like moderately frightening horror with strong character development!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Personal, Update

April 2019 Favorites

I can’t believe that April is almost over! It’s been a good month, filled with self-discovery and moving forward. But it also flew by without giving me much opportunity to reflect and blog. Still, I wanted to share my top 4 favorite things for this month:

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Reality TV

I am such a sucker for the drama of reality TV. After years of getting caught up on Bravo, I can finally say that I have officially seen EVERY episode of EVERY show in the Real Housewives Franchise! My favorite is the spin-off “Vanderpump Rules” (and not just because Stassi liked one of my tweets once upon a time!) RHOBH and RHONY are also amazing!

 

Vogue

Earlier this year, I stopped being a beauty blogger because it had stopped being fun – but I’ll never lose my passion for fashion. Vogue will always be my favorite magazine for exploring the glitz and glam of the fashion world. I like to read the US version as well as Vogue UK, Vogue Paris, and Vogue Italia. In fact, I think that when something fashion or beauty related REALLY excites me, I might just post about it on here since sometimes I still want to share even though I don’t want to post about it five times a week again.

 

Sandals

I am loving the warmer weather (even though it’s been awfully rainy in Cincinnati!) Sandals are my favorite footwear because they show off a pedicure, come in a variety of fun styles, and can include a heel. I just bought two gladiator-inspired pairs and I’m super excited to wear them. I think I also want to get more colored sandals for Spring/Summer instead of just sticking with black and silver.

 

Lavender 

Lavender is one of my favorite scents, and I’ve been gravitating towards it a lot recently. There’s something really relaxing about lavender. I’ve been incorporating it into my life in a variety of ways: scented candles, bubble baths, deodorant, room spray, perfume, etc. My favorites are blends that also include vanilla, like the fragrance in Bath and Body Works’ Aromatherapy Line.

 

Well, those are the things I’ve been loving this month! I’m going to try to post on here a bit more regularly with reviews of books, movies, products, and more (as well as any updates on other writing projects).

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal

March 2019 Favorites

Another month is basically gone – I can’t believe how fast this year is flying. I wanted to check in really quick and list four of my favorite things for the month:

  • Tilda Swinton – I realized this month that Tilda Swinton is the common link shared by many of my favorite horror movies: Only Lovers Left Alive, Suspiria, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. She is extremely talented and versatile!

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  • Cozy Mystery Audiobooks – I adore the fun, lighthearted nature of cozy mysteries where you get to solve a murder alongside an amateur sleuth and a cast of colorful characters set against an endearing, small-town backdrop. Lately, I’ve been making my way through the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates and the Needlecraft Mysteries by Monica Ferris.

Spells and Scones (A Magical Bakery Mystery Book 6) by [Cates, Bailey]

 

  • Knitting – Even though warmer weather is creeping in, I’m still knitting away to create hats and scarves for the homeless through the charity Warm Up Ohio. It’s both relaxing and rewarding!
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Photo by Surene Palvie on Pexels.com

 

  • Kindle Paperwhite – While I love my Kindle Fire, the e-ink screen of the Kindle Paperwhite makes it so much easier on the eyes to read for long periods of time. It’s also so thin and portable that it will squeeze into even my smallest purse – because I obviously need to be connected to my library at all times!
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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

 

Well, that’s what I loved in March! I’m hoping that April brings more adventure into my life 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Movie Review

Movie Review: Us (2019)

Last weekend, I decided to do something I’d never done before: I saw a movie all by myself. Now, I know that may seem like something really small (I mean, movies are basically just sitting in silence in a dark room – which seems like the perfect solo activity) but this was something I’d always been nervous to do. However, with the release of Jordan Peele’s Us, I really wanted to see it before someone had a chance to slip me some spoilers, so I went out to see it right away!

Us Poster

Here’s the IMDB description of Us: “A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.”

A lot of people are very excited about Us because of Peele’s directorial debut Get Out (2017).  While Get Out was a nearly flawless movie filled with great metaphors about race in America, Us is perhaps too ambitious. While I definitely enjoyed Us, it was much messier from a craft perspective than Get Out. I was entertained as we followed this family, and I loved that this was more of a traditional horror story than Get Out (which some critics still refuse to acknowledge was also horror). Still, there were things that made me feel a bit disappointed in the film overall.

Here are my pros and cons for this movie!

PROS:

  • Great cinematography!
  • Superb acting from many characters, especially Lupita Nyong’o (even when the dialogue wasn’t doing justice to the acting).
  • While the plot had many classic horror tropes, it managed to feel like a very fresh take on the genre.
  • The tension continually increased throughout the movie and there were many twists and turns that kept the plot from slowing down in the middle.
  • There were a few moments of dark humor that definitely added to the experience.

CONS:

  • Some of the symbolism and metaphors were REALLY heavy-handed. Whereas the symbolism and metaphors in Get Out served the larger plot and added an element of social commentary that greatly enhanced the movie, the symbolism and metaphors in Us seemed to be the sole driving force with the plot acting in service to the theme of the movie.
  • Other metaphors and symbols of the movie weren’t clear enough, which seemed to take a lot of people out of the movie (based on my experience, the experience of several people I know, and the general eavesdropping I did after the movie).
  • The “twist” at the end added confusion and radically changed how the movie is viewed. While there were elements I liked about the twist (which I don’t want to give away in case you haven’t yet seen the movie), it seemed gimmicky to me. It didn’t make the overall film stronger (the metaphorical parallel drawn between the characters was already clear), but it did leave many scratching their heads and wondering how to literally interpret and explain the feasibility of what they just watched.

Overall, I’m really glad that I watched Us. I think my expectations might have been a bit too high based on how much I loved Get Out, but I’ll absolutely watch whatever Jordan Peele’s next horror movie ends up being…and I’m very excited for his reboot of The Twilight Zone which debuts Monday 4/1.

Have you seen this movie yet? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany Renee Harmon