Book Love: Columbine by Dave Cullen


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Hey lovelies!

I recently read Dave Cullen’s Columbine. I have so many thoughts and feelings about this book, and I am going to attempt to relay them coherently. I saw this while I was perusing the True Crime section at Half Price Books. I remembered hearing that it was one of the most accurate, haunting, accounts of what occurred at Columbine High School, and being that I had just finished Stephen King’s 11-22-63, I wanted something a bit more non-fiction. So I took it home, grabbed a Dr. Pepper, and dove in.

First things first, this book will not be for sensitive people. It goes into all the details of the Columbine crime, and when I say all, I mean all the details. It describes the scene of the murders, the families reactions, the killers motive, and the aftermath.This book is not a light read by any means, so I do want to preface that by saying, this will not be easy to read.

One of the reasons I was interested in reading this was because there is so much information on Columbine, but it’s all spread out between theories, and conspiracies, and very few accurate accounts. I was around eight years old when Columbine occurred, so I had very little working knowledge of the event. This book encompasses all the things: all the theories that were running rampant then, all the rumors, and all of the information the media portrayed as “truths.” The question of “how much can we actually trust the media” is so relevant right now, and this book proves how relevant it was during Columbine as well. Many of the facts were misconstrued simply because the media chose to release information, knowing that it was not completely true or accurate. Which led to hold-ups within the case and the aftermath.

This book also dives quite a bit into who the killers were. I, like most I think, remembered the killer’s as being “outcasts” “loners” “severely depressed.” While one of the killers was severely mentally ill, and both struggled with bouts of depression, both boys were mostly well-liked, before Columbine occurred. A little on the shy side, but both did well in school, had jobs, and had families who disciplined and loved them. Contrary to everything that was portrayed of the killers, they were not angry loners who targeted the preps and jocks. Their crime was not a target on specific groups. It was random: one boy used the crime to be remembered, to make a statement; and one used it for a reason to commit suicide. To finally be able to end his life.  As a skeptic of the media in general, I have gained a whole new level of skepticism after reading this. At several points, I found myself angry/sad/shocked by the events that took place, but also by the media’s response and the lack of sensitivity they gave.

In Columbine, the victims are described in detail. The places they were found, how they died and who they were. He discusses the families and the people who knew the victims, and how they were affected. A few of the victims were in rehab and physical therapy for their injuries, and for a few, the book shows their success in moving on. Sadly, not everyone is able to handle the aftermath of Columbine and suicide becomes an issue within the community. Along with the victims families, the families of the killers is discussed in detail. How their lives changed, how the community reacted to them, and how the media handled them.

Dave Cullen does a fantastic job of removing his voice in this book, and letting the facts tell the story. No embellishing, just what happened, and why, based on the knowledge he obtained on the killers. Highly recommend if you are looking to gain a better understanding on Columbine.

Steffanie xo



beauty bits.

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Hello lovelies!

You know the drill. I went to Ulta. I bought the things. I tried them. And now I am telling you about them.

I was in the market for a new foundation, as I am trying to wear lighter coverage foundations. I am normally a full coverage kinda gal, but lately, I’ve been gravitating towards a lighter, more fluid foundation. I really like the Chanel Vita Lumiere Aqua, but it tends to break me out, so I don’t use that one all too often. I read lots of reviews and one that I kept seeing recommended was Bare Minerals Bare Skin Foundation. I picked up the shade in 12 Bare Sand (slightly yellow undertones). I gave this foundation a good week before I formed an opinion, and I have to say I really like it. I’m not over the moon about the consistency, because it is very liquid-y. Like water. More so than the Chanel one, and that one is pretty water-y. So it takes a little getting used to. However, the coverage, even though it is a lighter coverage foundation, is fantastic. It creates a smooth, fresh, and super dewy complexion. For summer, I’d pass on this one, as I already have enough natural “dewiness” in the summer. But for autumn/fall, this one is perfect. I use it with my BeautyBlender, just a few drops worked in well creates a beautiful complexion. I do find I need a good primer with this one though, which brings me to my next beauty favorite. I got a sample of the Cover Fx Illuminating Primer in my Ipsy bag. Somehow, it ended up in a random makeup bag and I forgot about it. I’m so glad I found it because I’ve been rationing this baby out. This primer is seriously illuminating. I have tried another primer similar to this, the L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer, and I liked it, but it made me super oily. This primer helps keep me matte, with also giving me a beautiful, lit from within, glow. The full size version in waiting in my Sephora cart at the moment. Super love.


My last favorite is one from the drugstore, and is now a staple in my makeup bag. This is a holy grail product, people. It’s the Voluminous Original Mascara by L’Oreal. Super simple, super familiar, and super good. This mascara grabs each and every one of my little tiny lashes and magnifies them.  It doesn’t run, and adds some serious volume to my lash line, which I desperately need. Aside from a Bobbi Brown mascara, this is THE best mascara I have ever used. **Also, pictured at the beginning of the post, my favorite lipstick I mentioned earlier on the blog: Maybelline’s Creamy Mattes in Nude Nuance. Super LOVE. 

Let me know what your makeup favorites are of the moment. I’ll be back this weekend with a post over a super long book I read, and a podcast post.

Talk soon,

Steffanie xo

Book Love: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


Hello lovelies!

More book love for you today. This book is one of my all time favorites. One of the greats. If there was one book I had to choose to be stuck alone with, forever, I would choose Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Joan Didion writes with the ease, honesty, and precision most writers would kill for. In my opinion, this book belongs with the greats. It should be recommended to everyone, read by everyone, discussed by everyone, devoured.

The Year of Magical Thinking is a story about the death of Joan’s husband. “A sudden sudden massive coronary eventOne minute he was there, and then he wasn’t.” This book takes you through all the details: the phone call she places to 911, the pronouncement of his death, the paperwork. She talks of the days after, the days before. She talks about the details of John’s health, the life they shared with their daughter, Quintana Roo. She talks about John, their routines, their love, their life together. It’s a beautiful story, and her writing is gorgeous.

What I love about this book is how Joan, very descriptively,  portrays what grief is like. To really get a handle on how awful it can be. It’s hard to put yourself in that place, particularly if you have not experienced grief in this way. There are other forms certainly, but to lose a husband? I cannot imagine. This book does a spot-on job of pulling you right into  her grief: right into the after, the moving on, if you could call it that, the living. Most stories only tell you of the events leading up to the event; it’s rare to find a story of what happens after the death, and I loved that about this book.

Joan was the cool customer. She the researched the grief. She turned to CS Lewis, The Merck Manual, various textbooks and journals, and poems to help her understand grief and it’s process.

“In time of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go to literature. Information was control. Given that grief remained the most general of afflictions its literature seemed remarkably spare.” 

She gains some insight from the material she reads, but she also disputes it. Talking about a particular study done by Dr. Volkan, she argues that it’s not possible to derive an understanding of the mourner, unless you were either the mourner or the dead.

“Were you there? No. You might have been useful with the thermometer, but you were not there. I don’t need to “review the circumstances of the death. I was there.” ” 

One book, that particularly gave Joan some comfort, was Emily Post’s 1922 book on Etiquette. She recalls her mom giving her the book on one snowed in vacation in Colorado, and found herself reverting to the “matter-of-fact wisdom” on how to care for the grieving.

She talks of the moments just after the death, the ones months after. She talks about the things she could continue to do normally, but also the things she couldn’t. She couldn’t eat in the dining room anymore. She ate in the kitchen. She talks about planning her evenings, carefully. Placing her order for breakfast, plotting her trips carefully. But then there would be the one instant, when she saw a movie theater she and John visited once, or a stretch of highway, and the grief would flood in. “There were many such traps,” she says, when talking of the familiar places, the memories.

This book will change the way you look at grief and death and “moving on”. It changed it for me, and I am thankful I picked it up to read. It’s one of my all-time, top five, books. I carry it with me constantly, reading my favorite passages. It’s one of the most poignant books, and I highly, highly recommend. I’ll leave you with this:

“I realize as I write this, that I do not want to finish this account. Nor did I want to finish the year. The craziness is receding but no clarity is taking its place. I look for resolution and find none.”

Steffanie xx



Book Love: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Hello lovelies!

Another bookish post coming to you today, one that was slightly surprising to me. I was very reluctant to read Rainbow Rowell’s books at first, because they were so hyped up. Everyone seemed to be talking about her books, all the time; especially Eleanor and Park. Eventually, because my curiosity out ranked my weird aversion to THE HYPE, I picked up Fangirl. I fell in love with that story. Cath is one of my favorite literary characters in that she is so, unapologetically normal, and has a huge love for fanfiction. She is so enthralled in her fan fic, and it reminded me of how I react to a good story. I obsess over it, research it, talk about it all the time, recommend it to EVERYONE. So Cath resonated with me, and I fell in love with her character.

Fangirl is super great, so I would definitely check it out if you like normal girls who love to write fan fiction. But alas, we are here to talk about Eleanor & Park.

This story is phenomenal. I don’t use that word to describe many books, but I am using it for this one. Rainbow Rowell is an absolute genius. She developed the characters of Eleanor and Park so well. Eleanor, with her slightly hostile, understandably insecure, witty self; and Park, with his equally insecure, slightly narcissistic, kind, self. They are opposites in a multitude of ways, but find common ground on their love for comic books, The Smiths, and eventually, each other.

Eleanor and Park has one main theme coursing through it: insecurities can sometimes affect the love we accept from others. Rowell very accurately depicts how hard it is to love someone else wholly, when you don’t love yourself in that way, or don’t believe you deserve that kind of love.

Eleanor resides in a very dysfunctional home, with an abusive step father, and a placating mother. In multiple chapters, we see her fighting Park’s affection, believing that she is not worthy of the way he sees her or loves her. It’s easy to understand why she loves him: he’s cool, gorgeous, and  kind, and she trlls him so. But those attributes are why she wonders why Park loves her back. Park, simultaneously, is super frustrated with Eleanor because he doesn’t understand why she pushes him away, why she reacts the way she does to his feelings for her.

I think that aspect of the book, the insecurity of self mixed with how we love,  is what I rooted for the most, because it’s so accurate and honest. We all want to be loved, but do we all feel that we deserve to be loved? As Stephen Chbosky says, “we accept the love we think we deserve” and I think that is the most frustrating, human aspect of this story, especially for Eleanor. She struggles with accepting the love Park is willing to give her.

This story is beautiful. I gobbled it up in a couple days, and thought about it for longer after. It’s fantastic. Read it, when you get the chance. I will never again underestimate Rainbow Rowell. She’s an amazing writer. Carry On is next on my list, a not-so-sequel to Fangirl.

Let me know if yoy have picked up anything by Ms. Rowell. Happy reading!

Steffanie xx

Disclaimer: Eleanor and Park is very much a young adult read. There is quite a bit of language use, and some references that are not appropriate for younger ears. Just something to be mindful of.



skin savers

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Hello lovelies!

Beauty post here. This one is all about my skin savers for fall. As autumn approaches, thankfully, comes cooler weather. But that means that my skin needs a little extra boost, so here are my picks to do just that.

The first one is a moisturizer from Aveeno. I have’t ever tried any Aveeno products for the face. I’ve used the leave in conditioner (super LOVE) and the body wash, but never tried out the skincare. Well, after reading a few reviews and a article in Allure, I decided to pick up the Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer.

This is a super light moisturizer, that leaves my skin hydrated and dewy. No excess oil or large pores. Just soft, smooth, skin. I have tried quite a few moisturizers, ranging from high end to drugstore (one of my favorites is by Kate Somerville-expensive, but worth it), and I believe that this is my new favorite drugstore one. Wears really well under makeup, and on most days, my skin looks more luminous and creates less oil.

Next on the list, is a face mask I got from Lush Cosmetics. Lush is one of my favorite stores to visit, because it smells so good, and is so fun to visit. I went in looking for the Oatifix Face Mask, and left with the mask, a new lip balm, a bath bomb and a face wash sample. Oops. The mask is fantastic. It’s primarily for sensitive, dry or irritated skin. When I bought it, I was having an issue with my chin being super dry and flaky, and broken out. I bought this mask and in less than a week, my skin was super hydrated, and the pimples were gone. It’s made up of mostly bananas, oats and almonds, and smells so good, almost like cookies. I love this mask, and though Lush masks can be messy, they are super effective.

*Honorable mention: for those who struggle with acne prone skin, check out the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask. One of the most effective acne fighting products out there. Clears acne up in no time.

Last but not least, is the Rose Hibiscus Facial Spray from Herbivore. Super hydrating, I use this little beauty as a skin pick me up during the day, and before bed. It smells wonderful and gives your skin a more plump, hydrated look. Herbivore is one of my favorite natural skin care brands. The packaging is beautiful. Very minimal and pretty. Definitely check out Herbivore if you haven’t yet.

Those are my top choices for the coming cool weather season. Let me know in the comments your tricks for moisturized skin.

Happy Saturday!

Steffanie xx


Stephen King & Pancakes


Hey lovelies!

I’ve been tucked away reading a few books recently, and I thought I’d share those with you. Now, I’m the kind of person who reads about 2-3 books at one time. I typically like to pick one non-fiction, one self-help/improvement/spirituality type, and one fiction, to keep it interesting.  Currently, I am reading one writing book, and one fiction, because that fiction book is kind of a beast.

Non-Fiction: Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

I typically read this in the morning, with my coffee and my pancakes. I like to start my day with inspirational writing if I can, to get the wheels turning. This book is so practical and full of such great tips on writing, specifically how to get started. She talks about the physical side of writing: the space you write in, what you need to get started, the anxiety that inevitably will find you. I have read a couple writing books, and this has been by far my favorite because it is so practical. I’ve been highlighting the mess out of it.

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Fiction: 11-22-63 by Stephen King

I recently posted on my Instagram about starting my first Stephen King novel and so many people commented about how much they loved 11-22-63. Seriously, how have I gotten to my mid twenties without reading at least ONE Stephen King novel? Crazy. When I was researching his books, I came upon a blog post from Laura Tremaine, from She said that it was one of her very favorite books written by Mr. King, and because I basically want to be her, I started it. (Sidenote: she is a co-host on the most amazing podcast show, Sorta Awesome Podcast with Megan Tietz. They are both from OK, Laura now living in LA, and Megan in OKC. So cool!) Definitely check it out. It’s fantastic.)

Okay, back to 1963.

“Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.”

I was intrigued at first by the title, because I find the Kennedy’s so intriguing. The family, the assassination, the presidency: I love them. (Another sidenote: The Kennedy’s mini series with Katie Holmes is the best!) I was super interested to see how he incorporated that huge event, into a fiction novel, and I have not been disappointed. Now, this book is long. Like 853 or more pages long, so I haven’t gotten super far into the story, only 200 or more pages in, but seriously, this book is turning me into quite the Stephen King fan. And it doesn’t just surround the Kennedy story, which I also loved because I wasn’t expecting so many layers to this book. It’s well-written, funny, and thrilling. I literally said “Oh my gosh!! Oh no!” like seven times this morning when I was reading one of the more action packed scenes. His writing pulls you into the world and keeps you there, which I love, because I like to be immersed when I read. I’ve found myself thinking about this story whenever I’m not reading it, wondering where Mr. Epping/Mr. Amberson is going next. Great choice if you’re a Stephen King newbie.

Just a sneak peek into what I am reading at the moment. Any good books you’ve read recently?

Steffanie xx

Book Love: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Listening to: You are Enough by Sleeping at Last


Hello lovelies!

I’m back with another book review. This one is one I’ve been so excited to do, because it seems like forever since her last book released. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Shauna is my hero. I wish I could sit down with her, perhaps over pizza or a thick club sandwich, a glass of dry champagne, and chat. She is my soul sister, someone who I feel like God created specifically for me to find because he knew how influential her voice would be to my life. I tweet her occasionally, because WE ARE CLOSE and google all the items she posts about on Instagram. I’m a fan.

I’ve loved Shauna since I read Cold Tangerines. Her voice, attention to detail, and story telling ability spoke volumes to me. Bittersweet, until Present Over Perfect, is my all time favorite of hers. The essays “On Desperation and Cold Pizza”, “Love Song for Fall,” “Ravenous” and “Steak Frites” are my favorites.

Present Over Perfect is a story about giving up the “doing” for the “being.” More love, less hustle. More time spent on back porches and reading to your kids, and less time proving, pushing, pursuing some weird unattainable standards you may have for yourself. Shauna shares personal stories of how all of the proving and pushing affected her life, her kids, her marriage. She talks about the ways she changed it, how hard it was, and how extraordinarily sweet her life has become since stepping into this present way of living.


In one of my favorite essays, Agency, she talks about remaking your life:

We get to decide, which is both so freeing and such a beautiful responsibility. You can be a vegan. You can be a priest. You can homeschool. You can train for a triathalon. You can live in the city. You can read the classics. You can buy all of your clothes from a vintage shop. You can buy a Vespa. You can learn to speak Italian or Farsi. This life you’re building is entirely your creation, fashioned out of your dreams and fears. What do you want?”

How freeing is that? How scary is that, asking yourself, “No really, what do I want? What does my soul crave? What do I believe, at my core, will fulfill me?”

The whole book is like one super honest, super encouraging, coffee chat. Shauna speaks so honestly and freely about her journey to being present. She offers a deep breath, permission to take a break from the belief that we have to push, hustle, provide, to be worth something.

I LOVED this book, and will be buying it for everyone I know who needs permission to step back, and remake their life. This book is life-altering. It’s been the first thing I read in the morning and the last thing I read at night, soaking up her advice on everything from wearing real pajamas to bed, to taking coffee outside on the porch.

Lets be brave and be present, shall we? Let’s live in the love of which we were created. Let’s be honest, and kind, and do what we were created to do.

“He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: do your thing. Do the thing that you love to do, that you’ve been created to do.”  [From “On Snow”, Present Over Perfect]

Steffanie xx





heartstrings & violins.


We all have music that moves us. Music that seems like it was maybe created just for us. A song that changed your life, or seemingly appeared in your life at the exact moment you needed it. Your song might be one you heard at someone’s wedding, the one you and your husband danced to, champagne in hand. Your song may be a song someone wrote for you, or that one you fell in love with in ninth grade.

The music that moves me, that pulls on my heartstrings, is anything with a violin. When I was in fifth grade, I heard Nickel Creek playing their song The Lighthouse Tale, and I remember crying, because I’d never heard a song that beautiful. I would leave CMT on all day, just waiting for the moment that their song would come on, and I would, for those four minutes, disappear. It was amazing.

From there, my love for the strings grew. I began to love the dramatic ebb and flow of Yo Yo Ma’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, the energy of Nickel Creek’s Elsie. Now, I listen to The Punch Brothers, Vitamin String Quartet and Chris Thile when I need inspiration to write, which is often. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with the melancholy of Sleeping at Last’s  Saturn and Sorrow. (Their album Atlas: Year One, is amazing!) Sigh.

When I hear the violin (and any string, for that matter) I see a glimmer of my Jesus. I see the kindness, I hear the breath of his voice. I hear his heart and I feel his presence. For me, violins make my heart skip, reminding me of how human I am, and how great Jesus is.

When I hear a violin or cello or fiddle, I thank Jesus over and over again, for creating people who play music, and for creating such beautiful instruments. I thank him for my heartstrings, so similarly strung together like the bands on a violin. I thank Him for giving me something beautiful to listen to, especially on the days when life doesn’t seem quite so beautiful.

Bite Beauty: The Multistick

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Bite Beauty Multistick
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From Left: Blondie, Macaroon, Cocoa

Hello lovelies!

Beauty post coming to you today. About a year ago, I signed up for this cool site called Influenster, and subsequently forgot all about it. I got an email about a week ago from Influenster, asking if I’d like to try out the new Bite Beauty Multistick, with instructions to fill out a quick survey. I did, and they sent me a box with three of them! Super exciting. I am a huge fan of quick, multitasking makeup products, as I like to wake up approximately 20 minutes before I have to leave my house. A girl needs her sleep, ya’ll.

These little gems are fantastic! They are compact, and in the prettiest, chic-est packaging. The magnetic closure is the coolest thing, and the case is nice and weighty. I received three colors from Influenster: Cocoa, Macaroon & Blondie. Cocoa is a deep brown, which is fantastic for a good contour, a smoky eye, and a vampy lip for fall. I’m already in love with how it looks on my lips. Blondie is a perfect eye shadow base, as it is a neutral taupe. It may also be a good nude lip, but I’m not sure yet on that. Macaroon is a pretty rose color, which is perfect for blush and a rosy pink pout. I’ll probably be wearing it every day this autumn.

The Multisticks are creamy but also powdery, which are perfect for my super oily skin. I usually do not do well with cream based products, but the staying power on these beauties is amazing. The color payoff is also pretty fantastic.

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Cocoa on lips and for contour, Macaron on cheeks, and Blondie on eyes. 

All around, these sticks are amazing, and for $24, you have a lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow, all in one. Heck of a deal. I can’t wait to try more colors and products by Bite Beauty.

Happy weekend. xx

All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review, however the products were sent to me for reviewing purposes. Huge thank you to Bite BEauty and Influenster for sending me the Multisticks to try out.

Where I’m going.

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This weekend, we found some old train tracks, by the river. I love train tracks. They remind me of my high school days, speeding to miss the train to get to class on time. They run alongside a cafe downtown that we like: a slow, steady rumble every time they roll pass. I also love them because they remind me of where we are going and alternatively, where we have been.

My tracks are growing stronger, year by year. More steady, more secure. One piece may be larger than the next, but they fit well together, forming a familiar path. I’ll be turning twenty six this fall, and more than anything, I want to be grounded in who I am. I want to write a book. I want to explore a new city or country. I want to love my husband well. I want to spend more nights and mornings on my back porch, and less in front of my tv. I want to hear more stories, shake more hands. I want to experience more love and laughter with those I see day in and out. I want more creativity, more space for making something I believe in.

I grew up believing that creativity was not meant for me. That only certain people are called to be creators. That only truly special beings can create stories or paintings or structures. Thankfully, I have met some beautiful people who taught me otherwise: who believed in me and gracefully told me to create, because a Creator created me to do so. These people are my heroes.

Without them, I’d have given up on where I’m going. My tracks would have stopped at a destination of doubt and fear and anxiety. I’d have turned over my pen and paper, and stopped writing. Because I never would have believed a creative life was meant for me.

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I want to walk along my train tracks well. I want to chug along peacefully, knowing full well where I’m headed. I want to carve out a steady path, worn in and solid, built on bravery & love. I want to see familiar faces and spaces, but also new ones. I want to see a life well lived along these tracks.

Steffanie xx