Outdoor Splurges that Have Been Worth It

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls
Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

There have been a few things I've bought that have completely been worth the money. I value quality over quantity, but even so I've balked at spending the money on some of these items. Some took me years to finally buy because I wasn't sure I should spend the money. However, these items have been totally worth it. Funny enough, the stuff that I rarely regret buying is usually my outdoor gear. Of course it needs to stand up better than my everyday or work clothes, so there is that. My favorite splurges are my:

Next on my list of things to invest in are a good pair of hiking boots, hiking pants, and trekking poles. And maybe a pair of Darn Tough socks. I've already got the boots picked out, I'm just waiting for a coupon.

What's been worth the investment for you?

My Favorite Skincare Brand Ever

Northwest Pearls: Avene Review I've tried a lot of different moisturizers and cleansers. My skin has switched from being severely oily to severely dry. At my current drier-than-the-desert state, I am in love with Avene and I don't anticipate finding anything better for a while.

I use their Clean-Ac Cleanser, Clean-Ac Hydrating Cream, Thermal Spring Water, and their Cold Cream Lip Cream. I use their cleanser and moisturizer twice a day and go between using the spring water multiple times per day to every few days. I've got the largest spring water bottle for home, and the smallest for my purse.

The only thing I wish they'd do was make their Clean-AC Hydrating Cream in a larger container. This is my favorite product by far and I use it twice a day so it'd be great to not have to buy it every two months. I know that sounds lazy, but the brand isn't available at most stores so it can be hard to get without ordering online.

With how much I love the brand I've been wanting to try some of their other products, like their sunscreen. I did get some mini-samples of the sunscreen and found that it didn't layer well with my makeup, but that was the body and face sunscreen, the just face kind may work better with makeup.

Have you tried any of their products?

Anaheim Packing House

Northwest Pearls: Anaheim Packing House While in Anaheim, California, I got to go to the Anaheim Packing House. It's a little hard to explain, but essentially it's a gourmet food court inside an old fruit packing house.

It was so amazing. They asked that no pictures be taken inside, so here's a picture of the lava cake I took home with me! :)

Northwest Pearls: Anaheim Packing House

Besides the lava cake from one vendor whose name I forget, I also ate gourmet grilled cheese from The Black Sheep, a gourmet food vendor. It was so delicious. It had goat cheese, grilled onions, and more on it. I was in heaven.

But the best part of the Packing House was the speakeasy. The Blind Rabbit is located on the bottom floor. It's behind a secret door. It was probably one of the highlights of my whole trip to California because how often do you get to go to a hidden speakeasy restaurant?

The drinks there were good and the atmosphere was pretty cool. It was small so they recommend reservations for some days and times. If you go to the packing house, I'd highly recommend finding The Blind Rabbit.

Have you ever been to The Packing House? What have you thought?

Reading List: The Milliner's Secret: An epic and heart-wrenching love story set in wartime Paris

While browsing Amazon Unlimited, I came across The Milliner's Secret: An epic and heart-wrenching love story set in wartime Paris by Natalie Meg EvansI'm in love with it. I just finished it and I wish I had more to read. The book follows the story of Cora Masson as she builds a name for herself. She starts out as a factory worker but escapes to make her own way around the time of World War II. The war greatly affects the characters in the book and you get to see Cora as she tries to make a life for herself.

I loved seeing what happened with Cora and the other charaters. I might buy The Dress Thief: A gripping novel of fashion, secrets and intrigue in 1930's Paris, also by Natalie Meg Evans. Technically, The Milliner's Secret is a sequel to The Dress Thief, but it worked as a stand-alone book.

What books would you recommend?

Makeup Review: Pixi Brow Powder Palette

A while ago I picked up the Pixi Brow Pencil/Gel and loved it. (You can see my review of it here.) The Brow Powder Palette was recommended in a magazine I read at the nail salon, and since I loved the pencil so much, I decided to try it out. Northwest Pearls: Pixi Brow Palette and Pencil

*Palette on left, Pencil on right

It is pretty great. It comes in different shades so you can blend to match your eyebrows and also use the lighter shades to highlight your eyes and brows. You have to be careful to not use too much though. I was putting it on and when I looked in a different mirror my eyebrows were way darker than normal. The blending may take a bit of practice, but I really do love the product. I was going between three of the brown shades, the 2nd darkest color worked for part of my eyebrows, and the two next lightest were a little too light or red for me, but I really do love how it fills in my brows. Also, the brush it comes with has two ends so you can apply the highlights with the same brush as you use to fill in your brows.

I've only found Pixi at one Target location, despite looking for it at another three, so I ended up ordering the palette online.

Have you tried out the Brow Powder Palette? What did you think?

Reading List: Gathering Blue

Back in middle school I read The Giver and when the movie came out recently I saw it. While trying to figure out what to read I came across Gathering Blue, the sequel to The Giver, on Kindle Unlimited and got it for my trip to California. I didn't want to set the book down. I wanted to know more about life in the village and why everyone treated each other the way they did. I wanted to know more about the monsters and the governance. I love books that make you think; books that make you consider what your world could be like. And there's no shortage of dystopian novels out there.

(Spoilers ahead)

In the book the government controls the population through fear and ignorance. The common people live in huts while others live in grand buildings with private indoor bathrooms and lots of varied food. It's a world where the weak are cast aside; only the strongest survive. But the main character, Kira, survives with a hurt leg because her mother and grandfather wouldn't let her be put out in the field.

But in this world where only the strongest survive and almost no one has kindness or compassion, a world where the strongest survive, you want the people to be kind, to care for others. You want a world where the people aren't just surviving but thriving, living, and loving. There is a lack of love among the villagers, even among families, demonstrated by one woman (probably) killing her toddler for knocking her over and scarring her. (The child's death could have been an accident but that's up for your to decide.)

Kira and a few others have the creativity valued by the village leaders, the creativity to create things and to help them shape their world (for better or for worse.)

I liked the book and I've just downloaded the sequel Messenger to my Kindle.

Have you read any of this series? What did you think?

On the Hunt for Comfortable Shoes: Nude Heels

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

(From left to right: Clarks, Trotters, Corso Como)

If the shoe fits, then wear it, unless it's uncomfortable.

Working in a running shoe store has taught me that everyone has different feet and each shoe will fit them differently. And my mother has ingrained in me the need for comfortable, high-quality shoes.

I haven't had much luck with cheap shoes. I rarely find them comfortable and if I end up going home with them, I might wear then 2-3 times before giving them away because I end up limping or going barefoot by the end of the day. That's happened with two pairs of shoes that I can remember and it was a total waste of the money.So that's left me with a habit of buying higher-quality (and more expensive) shoes. (Sorry bank account.)

Currently I'm on the hunt for a new pair of nude heels. I've about worn mine into the ground and while they're the 2nd most comfortable heels I've owned, they're a bit narrow on me. My toes are a little long so where the outside of the shoe curves near the toes, it can be a bit tight on me. And my feet are a little wide, not wide enough to NEED a wide pair of shoes, but frequently it makes a difference.

So I took a few different pairs of heels that I liked, including the ones I already owned, printed out their pictures from the website, (I used the same website and chose the same angle- from above) and placed the papers over each other.

That showed me that the shoes I wanted the most had a narrower and pointier toe than my current ones. So I chose two pairs that had slightly rounder and wider toes (and are supposed to be comfortable brands.)

Once they arrived at my house I tried the two new pairs on along with a new pair of Corso Comos I've had sitting in their box for a couple of months, to see how each one ranked.

The Corso Como Del Pumps, while I love them, aren't the best shape for my foot. They're narrower than the other two pairs and squeeze the front of my foot. I have worn my old pair a lot, but I'm going to try out a different pair now. When I tried on the new pair of Corso Comos and compared them to another pair of new heels, I knew that the Corso Comos wouldn't continue to work.

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

The Trotters Signature Gigi Round Toe Pumps were supposed to be comfortable but to me they weren't comfortable at all. They didn't have much padding and I knew right away that they weren't the shoe for me. But they have a reputation for comfort so other women with different feet probably have more luck with them. It'd be worth it for me to try another pair or two of their shoes to compare comfort-wise.

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

The Clarks Delsie Bliss Pumps were the best of the bunch, I loved the padding under my foot. However they slipped a little, so I ordered a half size down. When the smaller shoe arrived I tried it on but it was so tight I could barely get my foot into it, so both sizes of the Clarks went back. I really wish that one of the sizes had worked, the padding under the foot seemed promising.

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

None of the three worked for me.

During my lunch break I went to Nordstrom and tried on a pair of Rockport Total Motion pumps. They were incredibly comfortable. I went down a half size to a size from what I usually wear and went up to a wide. I love the cushioning under my foot. The only thing I noticed was that the front of my foot hurt after standing a while on hard ground but overall, they're very comfortable and I'm keeping them.

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

Northwest Pearls: Nude Heels Review

Some of the factors that lead to a comfortable shoe are shoe height, foot shape, shoe shape, arch shape, arch size, and materials. If you've got a wider, boxier foot, you may not fit into those pointy-toe heels (but don't count yourself out because I didn't think that a pointy toed shoe would work for me and it ended up being the best.) Shoes are made for different types of feet, so you may have to shop around to find one that fits your foot. (Unless you're lucky and have a "sample" foot where most shoes work, or you're able to get them to work, for you. If you do I'm jealous.)

Nordstrom has great customer service and a wide range of brands. When I went in I asked about a few other brands and how they ran in width - such as Kate Spade and L.K. Bennett (I was thinking about splurging for a more expensive shoe if it was more comfortable) - but was told that both are best for "trim" feet.

The store owner of the shoe store I work at frequently recomends Cobb Hill for a "dressier" type of comfortable shoe (it's dressier than running shoes just not as fancy as "high-fashion" shoes.)

There are other great shoe stores out there to find the right shoe for you, but I've found it's hard to find a fashionable shoe that's comfortable.

Have you found a particular heel or brand to be comfortable?

Movie Review: Furious Seven

A tradition that my best friend and I have is seeing the Fast and Furious movies in theaters. So the day after it came out we went to an early showing. Now, if you've seen the last couple of movies, you know to expect outrageous stunts that may or may not make you laugh. But they are entertaining. This one was no exception. The trailer shows the team parachuting themselves in their cars out of an airplane and onto a mountain road.


The movie is entertaining and worth seeing.

Spoilers Ahead:

The movie is filled with over-the-top moments like that, fast cars, and action scenes. The main theme of the movie seemed to be to prove wrong the fact that "cars don't fly." Which they showed in numerous, ridiculous, ways.

Some of the camera-work was pretty cool such as when Hobbs flipped Shaw onto a table and the camera flipped/rotated around with the action. (If you see it, you'll know what I'm trying to describe.)

I didn't follow who all the minor characters were, though that may be attributed to going to get popcorn at the wrong moment. And Dom's friends/family only seemed to care about the technology that the terrorists were attempting to get ahold of because of themselves, not because having terrorists in control of that sort of technology could potentially harm innocent people across the globe. I would do anything for my family too, but it seems like they should care about humanity as well.

The movie was a little long at two hours and seventeen minutes, Dom could have taken out the bad guy but instead chose to prolong it for a good fight sequence. (Why do people always do that in movies!?) It seems like something was lacking in the movie, whether that was confusion over the plot or something else I'm not sure. But as far as it being an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, it was pretty good. I would have never come up with that many outrageous stunts for cars in my wildest dreams, but that's pretty standard for the franchise.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Makeup Review: Pixi Natural Brow Duo Pencil and Gel

Northwest Pearls: Makeup review: Pixi Natural Brow Duo I hadn't heard of the brand Pixi before, or if I had, it hadn't registered. But I was looking for an eyebrow pencil so while I stood in the aisle at Target reading eyebrow pencil reviews, a worker asked if I needed help and when I asked her opinion about the two pencils in my hand she promptly led me over to the Pixi display and handed me the Pixi Natural Brow Duo.

She raved about it and after an explanation about why she liked it, waxy but not too wavy, she told me which of the two I had in my hand she liked more. But neither of those two compared to the Pixi in her opinion.

I figured that since she didn't work on commision, the Pixi product might be worth a try. Also- not going to lie- the fact that I didn't have to sharpen it was about 50% of my decision to get it because I was planning on keeping it in my purse.

After one use I put it with my daily makeup at home. I love it. I used to have another eyebrow pencil and I hated it. It was too creamy and didn't stay put. This goes on well but is waxy and stays where I put it. It also has a gel with a brush somewhat like a mascara brush so you can brush your eyebrows into place and they'll stay. The product is amazing and I'm about to go buy a second one to put in my purse.

I got it in Deep Brunette from Target. There is a lighter shade and a darker shade. Some beauticians recommend getting a lighter shade than your hair color, some recommend getting darker. You can figure out for yourself which shade you think you'll look best in, but if you're looking for an eyebrow pencil, I'd highly recommend the Pixi one. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Have you found an eyebrow pencil you've liked?