Summer Scents with THYMES

Ever since I was a young girl, the fresh and authentic scents of Thymes home and body products have filled my grateful nose and house.

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On My Nightstand: July 2017 Reads

Featuring Inside Out, an autobiography by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, The Forgotten Garden from Kate Morton, and the new Diane Arbus biography A Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow, a frequent writer for The New Yorker.

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On My Nightstand: June 2017 Reads

I have always enjoyed reading, especially in the summer. Ever since I was a child, reading has fuelled my nostalgic side, allowing me to get lost in different times and getting to know captivating characters. At one time, back when I was eight years old, I wanted my future licence plate to read 'BOOKWORM.' I'm cool, I swear. Anyway...with school being finished, warm summer evenings present the perfect opportunity to get lost in a good book. This June, I have managed to read quite a bit, devouring book after book. Once I hop onto the reading train there is no stopping me. Mind you, it has also been raining a lot in Southern Ontario this month (sad face). Due to the weather, nights I would have spent outside have been inside with the company of a book. A blessing in disguise; though I fear my summer tan may suffer because of it. Below are 5 books I have had the great pleasure of reading this month.

Bloom: Navigating Life & Style by Estée Lalonde

Unlike other books of its nature, that are oftentimes a bit fluffy and general, Bloom proved itself to be not just another lifestyle book, but more of a memoir. In Bloom, rawness and honestly shone through as Estée unloaded her past, present, and future, along with sharing her fluid approach to beauty, style, and living with her readers. I have always really loved Estée's YouTube channel, as well as her unique and imaginative approach to creating videos. She's also very funny! Throughout the book, I certainly felt a personal tie to Estée, having made very similar transitions as her in the past, and, of course, through our shared nationality. Moving to England from small-town Canada, being in a long-distance relationship with her partner Aslan for a time, dealing with anxiety, and her integration into and fascination with British culture and people all deeply resonated with me. It's lovely to see a fellow Canuck excelling on the other side of the pond - along with a few other personal things. The book and Estée's story got me very excited to go back to live in the UK in the coming years (and to hopefully excel in my own way, too)! Way to go, Estée!

Miss You by Kate Eberlyn

Channeling some serious David Nicholls vibes (think One Day), this book was a pleasant segue into summer. It is slightly on the longer side to be considered a 'quick read', yet is a wonderfully easy beach read. The book does however deal with some more distressing issues, such as cancer, autism, cheating spouses, and (subsequently) divorce. So for those of you who like a bit of an edge, a happy ending does not come easily in this one. Miss You follows the lives of two drastically different individuals, Tess and Gus, who quite literally miss each other, always nearly meeting, but never really succeeding. Years go by, relationships fall apart, and hardships are faced. You may feel like it all plays out a little too long. However, it all to leads up to a lighthearted and satisfying ending.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is the first book I have read by renowned author Haruki Murakami, and he has instantly become a personal favourite of mine. His distinct prose is poignant and takes you on these vivid looks inside a character's mind and their individual worlds. Norwegian Wood is full of longing, lust, and, at times, hope. The story follows the narrator, a young man named Toru Watanabe, who is looking back and remembering his life as a university student in Tokyo. Watanabe recollects his time spent with two dissimilar women, the disturbed Naoko and the excitable Midori. The book contains prominent themes of young adulthood, loss, and sexuality, wrapped up into a beautiful and, at times, heartbreaking story.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Translated from Italian, this book (book one of a four-part series) tells a humbling and coming-of-age story based on the lives of Elena and Lila, two young friends living on the impoverished outskirts of Naples during the 1950s. The book intensely captures small town dynamics, as well as the gossip, sacrifices, and scandal that go along with them. The book follows the two girl's wavering friendship through childhood, adolescence and eventually into early adulthood, capturing two entirely different people with one unbreakable and undeniably loyal bond. The book explores Italian culture and traditions through the eyes of a Italian national - the talented Ferrante. The book, although a bit slow to start, is beautifully written and leaves you wanting to read more.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

There are many things that Kate Morton does exceptionally well in her writing, but if there is one thing in particular it is her ability to craft a gripping mystery. This is the third Kate Morton book I have read. The Australian author always seems to keep me coming back for more. Each sentence she writes is like a little present, oozing with stylistic and wordy greatness. Of the books I have read by Morton, I have found that she loves to write about family dynamics, with plots set in picturesque English locations - oftentimes Cornwall. Additionally, many of her books are often set in the early 20th century, as well as the 21st century, weaving back and forth between eras to create a dense and intriguing plot - but, never confusing. The Lake House, follows the story of Sadie Sparrow, an investigator, and her efforts to uncover the complex secrets and long-unsolved mysteries of the Edevane family. It's an excellent read. Plus, the ending is completely shocking. I'll leave it at that.

I hope you have found a new book to dive into this summer! Have any other great books I should read, or that you want me to review in July? Please leave me a comment down below!

-Meredith

Five Skin Care Products I Can't Live Without

My skin and I have had a long, and at times, disagreeable history. As a pre-teen, and into my early teens, I suffered from terrible acne, resulting in me using a ton of prescription skin care and visits to dermatologists. Today, I still have a bit of scarring from past breakouts, but overall my skin is in a much, much better place than it used to be. I have oily/combination skin, so every now and then I can expect a pimple or two to still pop up, but nothing compared to my teenaged years. 

To me, taking care of your skin is so important. Skin is the largest, and one of the most important, organs of the human body. It protects from disease, and is also a reflection of a person's overall health. However, sometimes skin needs that little extra push. This is where great skincare comes in handy. One of my favourite parts of the day is washing my face after a long day. There is something so invigorating about the removal of makeup and cleansing, all to be left with a fresh and beaming face.

I have used all of these products for a significant amount of time, and I would recommend any of them to each of you - including my male readers, too. Two things that are not listed here, but I will include, are water (my number one), and The Pill. The amount of water I drink is undeniably something that dictates the health of my skin, and probably all other humans, too. So, drink up! As we all know (well, at least you ladies who are reading), The Pill helps to lower the amount of androgens in your body, and tends to promote clearer skin, particularly around that time of the month.

Thymes Eucalyptus Body Lotion

Unlike my face, the skin on my body tends to be on the dry side. I have been using Thymes products since I was little. The company has a range of incredible scents, all presented in beautiful, simplistic packaging. Specifically, the Thymes Eucalyptus bubble bath was always the soap of choice by my mum for my baths as a kid. I still continue to use it to this day. The smell is not only nostalgic for me, but clean, calming, and utterly crisp. The lotion is made with eucalyptus oil, which is cleansing, and also helps to open up the sinuses when you're sick, promotes relaxation, and can help to relieve joint and muscle pain.

When I use the lotion, my skin is dramatically softer and smoother. The light formula sinks nicely into the skin, not leaving you oily, but is still undeniably nourishing. As a person who does possess sensitive skin, I try to stay away from things with scents. However, I have never had a problem with Thymes products. None of their scents are artificial. Due to this, you will smell so, so great all day long. People often ask what scent I'm wearing, and are pleasantly surprised when I tell them it's actually a lotion. It is not overpowering, but rather subtle and fresh. 

Purchase it here.

Clinique 3-Step Skin Care

I recently started using the Clinique 3-Step skin care system to switch up my routine after years of using the same products. I have noticed such a wonderful difference in my skin in just six weeks of using them twice a day to wash my face. Clinique prides themselves with having scent-free formulas, which is perfect for those with sensitive skin. The products do not leave my skin feeling tight, and do an excellent job at brightening, combatting oiliness, and making pores appear smaller.

Clinique offers the line for all skin types, from very dry to very oily, and for acne sufferers, too. The cleanser, exfoliant, and lotion are all catered to each specific skin type, resulting in very direct results. I particularly love the lotion, which does not leave my skin greasy, but still acts as a great base for makeup.

Purchase it here.

Planto Minerals Exfoliant For Oily Skin

This is my secret weapon. Traditionally, the product is used as a toner, dissolved in water. However, I have been instructed to use it as an exfoliant. To use, take approximately half a teaspoon of the salt on your finger tips and gently massage into an already wet face. Continue adding water and massage the product into your skin until the salt has dissolved and rinse. The product will go in and rid your skin of any impurities and oil.

I typically use it 2-3 times a week. It does not strip the skin of essential oils, but rather balances them, resulting in a clear, smooth complexion. It also helps to diminish the look of my acne scars, which is a huge plus. I also tend to get a few spots on my chest when I working out (and sweat a lot - ewww), and I have found that using this as a scrub helps to clear them up very quickly. Anna Lotan also carries Planto Minerals for those of you who have dry skin.

Can be purchased at select spas and retails for approximately $30 CAD.

Blistex Lip Medex

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Blistex and I go way back. Southern Ontario, where I am from, is famous for its cold, snowy, and dry winters. With this comes extremely dry skin and, for me, chapped lips. As a child, I remember Blistex was quite literally the only thing that could aid my raw lips - it still is! It has a wonderful cooling effect that helps to sooth, and moisturizing endurance that lasts throughout the day. I always have a stick with me in my purse, and I apply it religiously. I am a lipstick lover, and flakey, lipstick covered lips is never a good look.

Purchase it here.

Clinique Even Better Foundation

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Clinique's Even Better has been my foundation of choice for about four years now. It feels lightweight on the skin and blends very well with full, long-lasting coverage. The foundation even works to correct and even out troublesome spots on the skin, which I think is pretty incredible. No clogged pores, here! What I love even more about this foundation is the SPF that comes along with it. Knowing my skin is protected, whether it be in the winter or summer months, is always a plus. In the summer however, I do tend to put on a little extra SPF 45 sunscreen underneath (try Neutrogena's) for additional protection. Like all Clinique products, there is no scent, and is therefore a safe bet for those of us who have sensitive skin.

Purchase it here.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you found a new favourite product to try today. If you choose to try out or already use any of these products, please let me know what you think of them and what your experience was like in the comments below!

-Meredith

My Stationery Must-Haves

Stationery - an organised person's dream. To me, stationery is a way of not only expressing myself, but it is my method of staying focused. Ever since grade school, I have been the queen of to-do lists, scheduling, and planning; without it I feel truly lost in the world. Having stationery helps me set goals, jot down quick ideas, and plan out my days in great (great, great) detail. I keep my general calendar electronic and synced between by iPhone and computer, however, when it comes to the day-to-day planning and to-do's I enjoy having a hard copy. Also, there's nothing better than the feeling of ticking off a to-do box - especially if it's a big project!

Today, I am going to share with you some of my most favourite paper bits and accessories to go along with them. I typically use these every day or multiple times a week, and I really do love the designs and stand by quality of each and every one.

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The Week Ahead

On my computer I will have my calendar in month view, allowing me to see well into future weeks. However, during particularly busy times I like to see a more detailed version focusing on that one particular week - particularly while I'm in school. For this I use my Kikki K Weekly Planner. It has ample space for each day of the week, a space for things to begin thinking about for the next week, and grid where I usually write little reminders or notes. I love the simplicity of this planner. I find it's nice to have a minimalistic design for things like this; though it does have a metallic header, which jazzes things up a bit. 

Daily To-Do's

But again, this in-depth week view is simply not specific enough for me at times (excessive, I know). This is when I pull out my daily to-do pad. It is a colourful memo pad by Season Paper, which I bought in Goods for the Study. I'll write down every single little thing I want to accomplish that day, including the mundane things like doing the laundry or washing the dishes. This is when my love for do-to lists (and checking them off) really comes out to play. The satisfaction is way too real, people.

Thoughts & Notes

I always try to have a notebook on hand in case any "ground-breaking" ideas come to mind. I love Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, which are quite affordable for what you receive. They are simple, come in a variety of styles and colours, and are made with quality paper. I personally love writing on a grid format, which is strange because grids are often associated with mathematics, and let me tell you people, that was not my strong suit in school. Nevertheless, I find the grid keeps everything looking organised and consistent; however the format of your note book is entirely up to you!

Pens & Pencils

I am a traditionalist and I enjoy a dark blue or black ink pen; red is much too harsh and I find other colours just too difficult to read. I really love the pens that Muji make. Their Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pens are incredibly affordable and write so smoothly. 

However, sometimes I want to be able to erase what I'm writing, and in this instance I'll use a pencil (haha, obviously *facepalm*). I recently found an amazing pencil shop called CW Pencil Enterprise located in The Bowery in New York City. It's a small shop, but they have a large range of quality pencils and writing accessories at very reasonable prices. I personally enjoy a very dark graphite when writing with a pencil, or else I tend to press too hard, causing my hand to cramp. The Japanese-made Palomino Blackwing initially caught my eye; it is sleekly designed, with a soft core and black finish. It's probably around a 4B, so it's great for drawing as well. I absolutely love it. I also picked up the Office 9850, which is a great general-use pencil, as well as the Grafik HB #2 pencil (which I mostly got because it looks like a New York taxi cab). I also picked up a no-frills rubber eraser from L & C Hardtmuth, which is so ideal for many purposes.

Stationery in NYC

My favourite stationery shops in NYC are Goods for the Study, Paper Source, CW Pencil Enterprise, Muji, Moleskine, and Paper Presentations.

Stationery in London

My favourite stationery shops in London are Choosing Keeping, Kikki K, Labour and Wait, Smythson, Present & Correct, and Marby & Elm.

Stationery in Toronto

My favourite stationery shops in Toronto are The Papery, Take Note, The Paper Place, and Indigo

Must-Haves