Friday Favorites: Trades of Hope

It has been a while since I have shared some of my favorite Trades of Hopes pieces.  Due to the coronavirus our summer launch has not gone as originally planned.  Many of our artisans were in countries that have been or still are shut down. This meant that they were unable to work on products and, in some cases, weren’t able to ship out orders.  This has caused TOH to pivot and change things up a bit.  Instead of releasing one big launch of summer products, we have instead initiated Together Tuesdays.  Every single Tuesday we have been releasing a few new products at a time.  Many of these products are limited editions and will be gone once they sell out.  I thought I would share some of my favorites from out new Together Tuesday releases with you today.  Keep in mind that these gorgeous pieces are handcrafted by women around the world who, because of their work, now have a dignified, sustainable way of providing for their families.  Purchases of any of these products are allowing these women to become the hero of their own stories.  Mamas can keep their babies, women are gaining freedom from sweatshops, young women and girls are escaping from the sex trade, women who have been abused are beginning a new life, and women in the poorest areas of the world can now feed their families.  The list of ways lives are being changed is numerous.  TOH operates under fair trade principles, and we do all that we can to ensure these women are able to earn a fair and living wage in the safest of working conditions.  Check out all of this fair trade, artisanal awesomeness! 

Amber Bracelet Trio

These dainty bracelets come from TOH’s newest artisan partners in Mexico who are providing women with safe jobs and a sustainable income. These bracelets have become a staple in my wardrobe.  They are even loved by teens!  The artisans create natural amber beads from ancient fossilized tree resin to make every handcrafted bracelet totally unique! This ancient amber comes from Simojovel, which is a small town in Chiapas, Mexico. It is far more rare than Baltic amber and is naturally found in warm honey, red, and orange tones.  No two pieces are alike.  Brass accent beads and slide-knots make each cotton and silk blend bracelet adjustable.  Every colorful trio features a coral, rose, and blue bracelet that can be worn together or separately.  

Half-Moon Earrings

These earrings are made in Haiti by women who are rising up out of poverty and are also a new staple in my wardrobe.  I love them so much because they go with everything! Artisans shape these unique earrings by hand, using ethically upcycled bone. Gold plated accent and square shaped studs complete the look of this on-trend design. 

Neema Tote

This is the newest addition to our handbag collection, and it is an adorable one made by artisans in Kenya rising out of extreme poverty.  Artisans dye and weave sisal, natural fibers harvested from Agave plants, to create the perfect go-to summer bag with on-trend colors and textures. This roomy bag gets its name from the Swahili word “Neema”, which means “grace”, and features genuine leather handles with handstitched crisscross accents.

Sky Jasper Bracelet

This natural stone bracelet is handcrafted by survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse in the Dominican Republic.  Each stretch bracelet features sky mountain jasper beads that are accented with a rare Larimar stone, which is only found in the volcanic regions of the Dominican. Each bracelet is totally unique and goes with so many things. I love the mix of the black and white together with the turquoise colors. 

Marbleized Travel Bag

I am in love with this little bag made by artisans in India who are learning skills to break the cycle of poverty. I carry it in my purse with all of my essential oil rollers, lip stain, and hand sanitizer.  These artisans handcraft this blush, genuine leather bag using a unique hand-dyed process to create swirls of pink, blush, and orange marbleized leather accents. Each one features a zippered closure, exterior slip pocket, and a block printed lining with interior slip pocket to keep all your travel essentials safe, organized, and easy to access when you are on the go. I mean, really? How cute is it?

Summer Whites Collection

This is probably my new favorite bracelet collection. Each one is sold individually, but they look so good worn together.  Each of these 3 bracelets are made by artisans in Thailand and are creating hope for women and families rising out of poverty.

Luminary Bracelet

This stunning hand-beaded bracelet is inspired by “luminaries”—people who inspire or give light just like the artisans that created it. Each adjustable bracelet features two-toned silver glass beads accented with a silver-plated brass border and grey cotton slide-knot closure.

I am Enough Bracelet

This is probably by most favorite of the three.  For every woman challenged by the overwhelming demands of everyday life, this handcrafted beaded-glass bracelet is a reminder that you are “Enough.” This opaque-white glass-beaded bracelet is accented with silver-plated brass beads—spelling the word “ENOUGH.” Each adjustable bracelet features a tasseled slide knot closure.

Light of the World Bracelet

This lightweight beaded bracelet is handcrafted with unique silver-plated brass beads that sparkle in the light. Each bracelet features an adjustable silver-plated clasp closure with a 1-inch extension chain.

Luna Hoops

These beauties are another piece of our Summer Whites Collection and are also created in Thailand. “Luna” means “moon” and are inspired by the moonrise that shines light into darkness. Lightweight silver-plated hoops and sparkling white and silver-toned glass beads makes these stunning earrings versatile enough to wear every day or for a special occasion.

Tula the Unicorn and Tulum the Dragon

These two exclusive limited-edition stuffed animals are the newest edition to Trades of Hope and are fair trade at its best!  I don’t think they could be any cuter for your special little one.  They are both handcrafted by artisans in Mexico. Each whimsical creature is sold separately and is bringing hope to the families in areas of extreme poverty.  Tula the Unicorn and her best friend Tulum the Dragon are named after two of Mexico’s ancient cities where many of their artisan techniques originated. They are the perfect blend of artisan tradition and eco-friendly design with hand-stitched multi-color cotton yarn and upcycled wool.  Aren’t they the cutest?

As you can see, our artisans have been hard at work creating some of the most unique fair trade pieces you can find.  Each piece is made with love and care and is making a difference in the lives of women across the globe.  There are even more gorgeous life-changing pieces available on my website.  Be sure to grab your favorites before they are gone for good. 

Anchored in Hope,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Allergic to the Sun???

To add to all of my weird aliments and crazy, strange allergies to the most random things, I now believe that I am allergic to the sun or maybe heat.  It’s hard to say.  It started about a month or so ago with a random rash on my hands.  One hand was worse than the other and it seemed to come and go.  It wasn’t like hives, though.  It was large red spots that seemed to spread out over my hands, fingers, and wrists (see pictures above). I had not been in the sun with this one, but I did notice it was worse after showering. Maybe I am now allergic to water too! Who knows?  I showed it to my doctor at my last appointment, and she thought it looked like an autoimmune rash and tested me for a ton of things that of course all came back negative.  This is actually the second time I have been tested for an autoimmune disorder in the last year because of a weird rash.  The first time (see above), I had these dark red marks all around my ankles.  My doctor said it looked vascular, which is why she thought autoimmune then too.  Anyway, when I went to the beach with my friends a little over a week ago, I got another weird rash. Within 5 minutes of being on the beach it appeared all over the lower part of my legs.  It looked partly like hives and partly not.  It is hard to describe, but it isn’t like the normal hives I get when I have allergic reactions to medicines.  There were larger red spots and then tiny dark red spots that almost looked like razor burn but not exactly.  I had not shaved that morning before going either.  Anyway, it was weird.  It started out on the lower half of my legs and then slowly moved up my leg until it was covering the whole leg on both legs by the second day we were there.  My friend likes to say that the rash was caused by COVID and that I was the original source of the virus that spread to the rest of the world.  She’s so funny, isn’t she?!?!? <insert eye roll> The rash stayed there for several days after I got back home before fading away.  I can only assume that it was either from the sun or the heat because I was not using a new sunscreen or any new lotions. Some of my friends thought that it might be a sun sensitivity caused by some of my medications, but I don’t think that it is either.  I have been on the same medications for years with no issues, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t a side effect of anything that I take anyway.  All I know what that I was walking around looking like I had some contagious disease.  I’m glad that we couldn’t go anywhere in public for anyone else to see.  

I actually had a virtual visit with my doctor this morning and showed her the pictures of my legs from the beach.  She is just as baffled as I am and has referred me back to my dermatologist to take have her take look.  I’m thinking that I may need to see an allergist as well. I have never had any type of allergy testing done, surprisingly.  Most of the things that I know I am allergic to are medicines, and those give me very obvious hives.   I did develop an allergy to adhesives a few years ago and cannot use Band-Aids or paper tape for any length of time without breaking out with a localized rash that makes me want to claw my skin off.  You don’t know how unfortunate that is until you have to have things cut out of your skin all the time and have to have bandages to keep those spots protected until they heal.  I won’t even get into all that today because it’s a lot.  Then, we all know the fiasco from a little over a year ago when I suddenly became allergic to some brands of hair dye and my head was on fire for days.  I guess my skin and body are just super sensitive to things. I have no idea! I wish I knew the causes and how to prevent these crazy reactions. Why must I have the most random things? It really is quite comical to sit around wondering what strange thing is going to happen to me next! Every doctor I have ever had says that I am a unique case and that they like trying to figure me out.  I guess I will just continue to be their test subject. Maybe I should donate my body to science when I am gone.  Haha!

Anchored,

Corna-Cation

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been MIA from the blog for a bit because I had two mini corona-cations back to back. It was sort of a last minute decision not to blog during that time because I wanted to be fully present for both trips.  I am calling them corona-cations because they were very different from our usual trips due to the many precautions that we had to take to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Masks, hand-sanitizer, and social distancing became normal part of both trips.  We did not go to any restaurants or any other adventures because we didn’t feel like that was safe. Despite the extra precautions, both trips for me were still a great success and a wonderful time was had by all. 

First, I spent 4 glorious days in the Outer Banks with 8 of my very best friends.  We have been doing this annual beach trip for, I think, nine years now.  This year’s trip got postponed due to the shutdown for COVID-19, but I am happy to report that it finally happened. We tried to all social distance as much as we could with 9 people in one house sharing beds, but I wasn’t too concerned since I knew everyone had been pretty isolated prior to the trip.  We didn’t share our usual hugs with everyone, and we tried not to drink or eat after each other.   We also did not go anywhere except to the beach and back.  A few of us got up early each morning and made our way to the beach so that we could secure a large socially distanced area for all of us to hang all day.  There were surprisingly more people on the beach than we are typically used to so getting a spot early was key.  We put up our cabana and spread our bags and chairs wide so that new beachgoers knew to stay away from us.  Most people were respectful of each other and everyone was trying hard to maintain distance as much as possible.  We pretty much spent our entire days at the beach since we couldn’t really go anywhere else.  We packed our own lunches and plenty of drinks and snacks to last us through the whole day.  I don’t think that we have ever spent that much time just talking and hanging out on the beach before.  We usually only spend a few hours a day at the beach mixed in with shopping and dining out the rest of the time.  Since we couldn’t do that this year, we just stayed at the beach all day.  We had really good weather, calm waters, and overall great conversations. It was glorious.  Each evening, we headed back to the house in shifts to start showers, and then we took turns cooking dinner each night because we weren’t comfortable with going to a restaurant. After dinner each night, we played crazy games that resulted in so many laughs that there were tears rolling down our faces.  While this trip wasn’t like any of our others, it was exactly what we all needed.  All we really cared about was spending time together and having fun which we did beyond measure.  

After that trip, I can home for two days before the whole family packed up and made the long drive to South Carolina to visit our family, who we haven’t seen since Christmas.  It was very alarming to us to see the difference in safety measures the closer we got to South Carolina as we made stops along the way on the 10-hour trip.  During our initial bathroom stops, everyone we passed was wearing a mask and walking far away from each other. Then, the closer we got to our destination, we encountered tons of people without masks who didn’t seem to make any effort to not walk close to you.  It was a bit scary to us to see that because it is such a sharp contrast from what we have been living the past few months at home.  It was quite interesting to see how the different states are handling things and showed why there is now a spike in COVID cases in many of those states that have been more lenient with their restrictions.  I feel like I was personally more nervous on this trip than I was on my beach trip.  I am not sure if that was because the restrictions were way less down there and, therefore, more concerning to me or if it was because I was around my parents, father-in-law, and my grandparents who are all at a greater risk than we are due to age and pre-existing conditions. I would feel so horrible knowing that we exposed one of them to this horrible virus if one of them were to get sick.  I guess it is probably a combination of both that made me more nervous, but it definitely made me extra cautious.  Before we even left for the trip, I questioned if it were the right thing to do to go down there, but we felt like we should make the trip to see our family when we have the opportunity since it doesn’t happen very often.  I am glad that we went because spending time with family is so important.  My kids got to spend time with their cousins at the lake tubing and having a blast, and we all got to spend time with our loved ones celebrating Independence Day. There were no big fireworks displays this year and no huge BBQs, but we enjoyed a small family gathering for lunch instead. 

While both trips were changed by the new norm, both of them turned out to be more than we expected. We all got just what we needed out of them. I strongly believe that nothing is more important that spending time with the people we love.  Maybe things will never get back to the old norm, but we will continue to adapt and make the most out of what we are given.  I am aware that some of you may think that we shouldn’t be going anywhere at all, and maybe you are right. However, I think that we did the best we could to protect ourselves and those that we came into contact with. I also believe that we have to continue with our lives as much as possible and make the most of the cards we have been dealt in these crazy times. I think as long as you are careful and are smart about what you are doing, there is nothing wrong with taking a mini corona-cation. I am happy with both of mine and am counting down the days for the next ones whenever they may be and whatever they may look like. 

Anchored,

A Look In My Closet: OOTD

I have been MIA for the past several days because I was on vacation.  I spent 4 days with my besties in the Outer Banks, 2 days at home, and then 4 days in South Carolina visiting family.  I thought I would share some of the outfits I packed along with me for a little outfit inspiration for you guys in case you are headed on a corona-cation. Obviously, we couldn’t do a whole lot because of social distancing, so these outfits are all pretty casual. I wore each of them with either my Converse Shoreline Sneakers or a pair of flip flops. I also pretty much packed the same outfits for both trips. Sadly, I did not take a single picture while wearing any of these outfits, but you can get the idea from these flat lays.  All of the jewelry featured is from Trades of Hope. Any purchase of this jewelry helps to empower women around the world out of extreme poverty and human trafficking. 

Shirt/Shorts/Half-Moon Earrings/Holly Necklace

Tank/Shorts/La Luz Necklace/Moxie Hoops/Bangkok Bracelet/Jasmine Bracelet

Top (Lularoe)-Similar/Shorts/Revival Earrings/Loyalty Necklace

Tank/Shorts/Chelsea Necklace (Out of Stock)/Pink Palace Earrings

Tank (Lularoe)-Similar/Shorts/Half-Moon Earrings/Amber Bracelet Trio

High Waist Bikini (Out of Stock)-Similar

High Waist Bikini

Happy shopping!

Anchored,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Henna Artist

This month I read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and I really enjoyed it for the most part.  I learned a lot about the Indian culture and their caste system, which is what I was hoping.  Working with artisans in India through Trades of Hope, was what sort of piqued my interest in this book, and it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how their caste system works and what it means for women.  There were a lot of Indian words in it that I obviously didn’t know, but I could figure out some of them just using context clues.  The author did provide a glossary of terms at the back of the book. However, reading it on my iPad made it a little more difficult to access it easily.  I think I would have utilized it more had I had the actual hard copy.  There was also a list of characters at the beginning of the book that gave a sort of background explaining who each person was.  This was helpful information, but, again, it was difficult to reference it as I read since it was an eBook. Those two things were probably my biggest issues with this book. Other than that, I really enjoyed the storyline.  The characters were well developed and there was a good balance between the actual plot line and the historical facts about the economy and customs in India. I thought that the storyline was very well developed even with multiple intricate parts and multiple characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in Henna art, Indian culture, or a great storyline.

The Henna Artist revolves around the life of a woman named Lakshmi Shastri. She was born into one of the highest Hindu caste levels (Brahmin) as her father was a teacher. However, circumstances had left her family very poor.  Her parents arranged for her to marry at the young age of 15.  While living with her husband whom she despised due to his violent nature, Lakshmi learned about natural herbs, teas, and medicines to help women with a variety of medical issues from her mother-in-law.  After 2 years of marriage, Lakshmi couldn’t take it anymore and one day snuck away and left her husband.  At first she was making a living by making contraceptive teas for courtesans to keep them childless while also learning the art of henna. She eventually ended up in Jaipur where she climbed the ladder through hard work and became the most sought-after henna artist to Jaipur’s elite.  She had this to say about working with one particular woman a similar caste.  

“Parvati and I were born to the two highest Hindu casts, she a Kshatriya and me a Brahmin. But she could never bring herself to treat me as an equal because I touched the feet of ladies as I painted their henna. Feet were considered unclean, only to be handled by the low-caste Shudras.  So even though her caste system had relied on mine for centuries to educate their children and perform spiritual rites, in the eyes of Jaipur’s elite, I was now a fallen Brahmin.” 

Despite the elite not truly accepting her as one of them, things were going very well for Lakshmi and opportunities were opening up for her. That was until, out of the blue, her husband, Hari, showed up. He brought with him her thirteen-year-old sister with news that her parents had both died.  Lakshmi never even knew her sister existed.  This set in motion a series of unfortunate events that led her to go from the best of the best to the person no one wanted in their homes.  Lakshmi’s story is one of restoration, redemption, and the will to never give up.  She went from a broken family, to being completely alone, to finding out the true meaning of family.  She learned that success and climbing the ladder wasn’t truly the most important thing in life, and she also learned to use her gifts to help others in a special way. This really was a great story and one that I believe many would enjoy. 

I decided to switch it up a bit and go for a mystery/thriller for my pick for July.  I have chosen The Last Flight by Julie Clark.  It has been said by some to be one of the top books of 2020 so far. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book.

“For two women on the run, a split-second decision offers a chance at a new life…or a whole new set of dangers.  At the beginning of Julie Clark’s fiercely feminist psychological thriller, Claire—the wife of a beloved philanthropist whose hideous true nature is a well-kept-secret—is at the airport, about to launch into her carefully constructed escape plan. But then Claire makes an impulsive decision to switch passports and plane tickets with Eva, a streetwise survivor on the run from her drug-kingpin former boss.  And we can’t say much more than that because, seriously, things get really crazy from that point on.  Alternating between Claire’s and Eva’s viewpoints, Clark’s book feels like a mix of Gone Girl and The Bourne Identity. It’s that fast-paced and that good. Order takeout, because you won’t be leaving the couch until you turn the last page.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Giving Up Control

La Luz Necklace/Moxie Hoops/Crew Neck Tee (This color tee is no longer available.)

I really thought that the summer was going to drag on since we are still pretty much stuck in the house with not much to do, but it is actually going by pretty fast.  We are nearing the end of June already and things are rolling right along.  I am struggling a bit this week because I am conflicted.  My annual girls’ beach weekend that was postponed in May is finally here, and I CANNOT wait.  I know you guys are probably sick of hearing about it already, but I can’t really express how much this weekend means to me each year and how much I love spending time with my tribe.  My conflict comes because this weekend is also cheer tryouts for my girls.  While I know that my husband can handle it, I’m still struggling with not being here for them.  I think part of that comes from just being a mom, but I also think some of it has to do with the fact that my husband has been deployed for so much of our marriage.  I have always had the responsibility of doing these types of things with the girls on my own.  I’m not used to letting him take on this kind of tasks with the girls.  There is nothing wrong with it, and like I said, he can handle it.  It’s just different for me.  In the past I would have had to miss out on my girls’ trip or beg my mom to make the long drive to help because I didn’t have any other choice.  Even though it has been two years since he last deployed, I think that the adjustment of having him here to help is something that is going to take a while for me to get used too.  He has done shore duties before where he didn’t deploy for a couple of years at a time, but he was always still traveling a lot and not home very much.  Now that he has reached the point in his career that he is no longer going to deploy and only take a few short trips here and there, I am learning to rely on his help more and more.  Just yesterday, I scheduled an appointment for myself not thinking much of it.  I was pleasantly surprised when my husband got home and mentioned trying to work around his schedule so that he could go with me.  It honestly never occurred to me that he would go with me.  Again, I am just used to doing it all on my own.  I was really touched that he thought he should go and that he was going to make the effort.  He has rarely been able to do things like that before.  Of course, I don’t need him to go, but the thought was very touching to me and really meant a lot.

This is a dilemma that I think all military wives face.  We get used to doing things on our own.  We hardly ever ask for help, and we somehow make it all work.  It is a sacrifice that most of us gladly make for our families so that our spouses can protect and defend our country.  It’s not easy and sometimes we feel like breaking, but we manage the best we can.  Some of the strongest, most courageous women I know are military spouses.  You would think that we would all welcome the day when our spouse is home to help, but it isn’t that simple.  When you have lived this life for a long time like I have doing things on your own and in your own way, it is hard to not only willingly accept help, but it is also hard to give up control.  It is not that I want control of everything. Trust me, I don’t.  It just that it has always been me doing it all alone. That is what I a used to.  For example, the past two years, both of my girls (one in cheer and one in gymnastics) had conflicting competition schedules.  Before my youngest became involved in cheer, I was always traveling with my oldest for all of her gymnastics competitions all the time dragging my youngest with us.  My husband was rarely home during competition season.  When my youngest started cheer two years ago, it quickly became apparent that my husband and I were going to have to split up because I clearly couldn’t be at two places at once, and he was here now to help.  It just worked out that he traveled for gymnastics since my oldest didn’t need a lot of help, and I traveled for cheer to do hair and makeup.  It was extremely hard for me not to be with my oldest and to miss out on so many of her competitions.  I did not like it that he got to go, and I didn’t.  I had been the one with her for so many years that it was hard for me to share it and give up control of traveling with her. While I was happy that he finally got to see her compete every competition, I was super jealous that I didn’t.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my youngest to see her compete too.  It was that I really wanted to be with both. I wanted to split myself in half like I have been doing for years and be with both. I don’t know how I would have managed it all if he still was deploying, but I would have figured out a way to make it work.  

While I am learning to let go of control of a lot of things and learning to accept help, I have to admit that it isn’t easy.  Doing it all was my way of life for 18 years. That’s a long time.  It’s hard to break habits that have been going on for that long.  It is even harder for me to ask for and accept help.  I am beyond grateful that my husband is here to share the load and that my stress and anxiety levels are lower than they have ever been. Plus he finally gets to be fully present in our kids lives. Despite it being two years now, it is clear that I am still getting used to this new stage in our lives.  I have to undo 18 years of thinking and acting, and that isn’t going to happen overnight.  This weekend will be amazing and hard for me all at once.  I usually don’t call home much when I am on my trip, but this time I am requesting frequent updates and details from all three on tryouts so that I feel like I am there too. I am not going to let it damper my time with my tribe, but a small part of me will be feeling like I am missing out and that I am skipping out on my duties as a mom.

Anchored and Learning to Let Go,

  

Friday Favorites: Finishing Powder

I have been on the hunt for a good finishing powder for a very long time.  I have tried so many different ones and I have never been fully happy with them.  Some left my face feeling very oily, some gave me the caked-on feel, some weren’t long lasting, and some didn’t seem to make a difference at all in my skin.  I have tried loose powders and pressed powders with nothing ever seeming to be the right fit for me.  They have all ranged in price as well from super expensive to the cheaper brands. What I really wanted was something that was lightweight, mattifying, and gave me an overall polished look without breaking the bank. I have shared before that I use Rodan + Fields Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid as the base for my makeup, and I absolutely love it. You can read more about it here. What I was lacking was a good powder to go over it to give me more of a matte look.  

I follow a lot of bloggers and influencers on Instagram and am always watching their Instagram stories. I mostly follow them for outfit inspiration but occasionally I will catch one or two of them sharing their makeup routines. Most of them wear way more makeup than I do and use triple the amount of products.  A lot of times I just click through the makeup tutorials without watching them because I like my routine to be simple, easy, and lightweight.  About 3 months ago, though, I just happened to stay on one for a while and really paid attention to what the girl was doing and the products she was using.  She was doing her quarantine face which wasn’t a full makeup face like she normally wears, so it was more my style.  Anyway, she used a finishing powder that she said she highly recommended.  Since I have been on the lookout for one, I decided to make a quick trip into Target and grab one to try.  It is made by NYX which is a clean, cruelty free brand that I like, and it is super affordable.  I have tried their loose powder before and didn’t love it, but I have never tried the HD Finishing Powder that this particular influencer recommended.  It is a pressed powder that comes in 3 different color correcting shades. Use the Translucent shade to set your look, the Banana to brighten, and the Mint Green to diffuse redness. I decided to go with the Banana for my needs.  Let me tell you…I have finally found the perfect product for me!  I LOVE this powder so much.  It does everything I wanted and more.  It is extremely lightweight, doesn’t leave me feeling oily, and lasts all day.  The thing I love about it most, though, is that it instantly gives me a soft “filtered” look.  I’m not kidding.  You know how you can use camera filter or a photo editor to give yourself a soft, polished, smooth finish to your skin?  This product does that naturally without the filter.  That is the only way I can describe it for you.  It gives me filtered skin that looks flawless! It helps to hide all of my imperfections and discolored skin. I am totally obsessed! I have been using it for a little over 2 months now and will continue to use it for as long as it is available. I use a retractable kabuki brush to apply it.  I start by using the brush with it only partly retracted to make the bristles more compact and pat the powder under my eyes to set my under-eye brightener. Then I retract the brush fully to sweep the powder across the rest of my face. It doesn’t take a lot to get that polished, matte look.   I absolutely love the look it gives me.  

This is a non-filtered, unaltered image that was taken in portrait mode on my iPhone after applying the NYX HD Finishing Powder.

The NYX HD Finishing Powder is my new best friend! If you are looking for a good finishing powder, this is definitely one that you should try. I have tried so many and this one is by far my favorite. It is super affordable, and it works! I highly recommend it and am so glad I watched that video that day and decided to try it. 

Anchored,

Fireplace Transformation

It has been a while since I have shared a house renovation project, but I am so excited to share this new one with you all.  From the first day we walked into this house when we were trying to find a house to buy, I have hated the fireplace with a passion.  It is one of the first things you see when you walk in the front door, and it was such an eye sore to me.  It looked like something straight out of the 80’s even though this house was built many years after the 80’s ended.  I just cannot explain how much I hated that thing.  Not only did it have the ugliest green marble around it, but it also had gold accents.  It could not be farther from my style or more outdated.  Before we bought the house, I told my husband that it had to go right away.  Unfortunately, other projects took center stage like our hardwood floors, my closet, and our kitchen cabinets. The fireplace just kept getting pushed back, but my disdain for it continued.  I mean just look at how horrible it is! 

I have had to live with looking at that thing for over a year now, but the time finally came to get rid of it last week.  We had a guy that was coming out to do a few small projects, and we started talking to him about the fireplace.  I showed him some pictures I found on Pinterest to give him an idea of what I wanted.  The more that I talked with him, the more I could see that he truly got my vision. I started to get super excited when we decided he was our guy and we were going to move forward.  First and foremost, I wanted the green marble and gold accents gone.  I also wanted to update the mantel to make it look a little more modern and to extend it up to the ceiling with sort of a ship lap look.  Yes, I was channeling my inner Joanna Gaines! Ha ha! I also wanted to go with a marbled tile with shades of white and grey in place of the green.  I could just imagine in my head what it would look like, and I couldn’t wait for the renovation to begin.  

The first day they showed up to work last week was such an exciting day for me.  It was the day the green marble got taken away and the mantel came down.  I can’t explain how happy I was when I walked in the room to see the blank wall with no mantel or marble.  It already seemed to brighten up the room completely.  They were able to save the original mantel and use it in the final design with some minor adjustments.  Each day they were here I could see the progression and my vison coming to life.  I was so eagerly awaiting the finished product. We did have a small issue trying to find the right marble tile that I liked, but thankfully we were finally able to find something that I am in love with.  I am beyond happy with how it all came out. It look exactly like the vision in my head   It is so amazing and is now a great focal point when you walk into my house.  I just keep staring at it because it is just so beautiful now. 

What an improvement, right? Isn’t it gorgeous? I am in love! The pictures don’t even do it justice. It’s so much brighter and beautiful in person. I couldn’t be happier!

Anchored,

Mid-Year Renewal

I was just sitting here thinking about the fact that we have pretty much made it halfway through 2020.  This is definitely a year for the history books and one that will be talked about for generations to come.  This year has not gone like any of us have planned.  I know I started the year out with my new word of the year, RELENTLESS.  I wanted to be relentless in my actions and my emotions.  I wanted to be relentless in my work and in my self-growth, not giving up and not stopping.  I wasn’t going to let things stand in my way.  The forced slow down sort of made me lose sight of the word and why I chose it in the first place.   It was hard to be relentless in action when I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything.   I felt discouraged and maybe a little lost in the midst of it all.  There was a time when I felt like I was at a standstill and my work, my own self-growth, and my emotions were going nowhere.  I felt like I wasn’t living the word that I had committed to.  I felt like I was failing miserably because I was letting the shut down and stay at home order affect me in negative ways.  That’s when God stepped in and gave me a kick in the pants yet again.  He reminded me of the reasons that I chose the word in the first place.  He reminded me of the areas that I said I wanted to be relentless in and prompted me to go back and read that post from January where I chose my word.   

Here is a recap of what I said then.

I want to be relentless just like God is in his love for us. I want to be relentless in all I do.  I want to be so focused that nothing can stop me.    I want to be RELENTLESS IN LOVE—love for my family, my friends, and every person I come across. I want to be RELENTLESS IN FAITH—ever growing in my relationship with Christ.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN WORK—fighting for injustice and making a global impact with the work I do with Trades of Hope. I want to be RELENTLESS IN DREAMS—doing everything in my power to make all of my dreams come true. I want to be RELENTLESS IN GROWTH—continuing to work on growing and becoming the best version of myself.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN JOY—seeking joy and choosing joy in everything I do.

Allison Clark January 7, 2020

God made me realize that I could still be living out my word even while I was stuck at home with nothing to do, but it would just look a little different than I had originally thought. My priorities shifted a bit, and I realized that I needed to be relentless in different areas of my life too.  Things that had been pushed to the side for so long were suddenly at the forefront of my mind.  I could still be relentless in love, faith, work, dreams, and growth but in different ways.  I made up my mind to get back on track and make myself be relentless.  

RELENTLESS IN JOY

At first it was hard to see joy in this whole drastic change in our lives.  It was hard to see the good when there was so much fear and misinformation going around.  However, I started to choose to see the good in everything that was going on in the world.  I chose to focus on all the positives that have come from this instead of the negatives.  Yes, I still got annoyed and sad when things got canceled or with the schooling situation, but I chose not to dwell on those things.  I chose to be relentless in choosing joy every single day.  I wake up every morning and tell myself that today is going to be a good day. Then I make myself proclaim at least one thing that I am grateful for in the midst of the chaos. It just sets me up for a joy filled day.

RELENTLESS IN WORK

I initially felt like my Trades of Hope business and my blog were suffering with the pandemic.  Vendor events got canceled and I was struggling with asking people to buy products and host parties with me when so many people were struggling financially.  I was also struggling with writing this blog.  It was difficult to think of things to write about other than the pandemic when there was nothing going on in my life.  I felt guilty when I skipped a day of writing because I felt like I was letting myself down.  When I got my wakeup call from God, I realized that I had something to offer others, something that could and would bring hope to others.  I chose to participate in a challenge to spread hope live every single night for the month of April.  I went live on my Facebook page and just shared joy and hope to whoever chose to watch for 30 days straight.  That really ignited a new fire in me for my work to empower women and to make a difference in the world.  It gave me the longing to continue to write posts and share my life with the world, but it also made me realize that it was ok to not write a post every day.  It was ok for me to skip days when I had nothing to say.  I wasn’t letting myself down by doing that. Instead, I used those days when I had nothing to write to focus more on my Trades of Hope business.  When that happened, I started getting tons of feedback about my work and I started booking parties out of the blue.  It was amazing to see the shift just by changing my mindset.  

RELENTLESS IN FAITH

The thought of not being able to go to church for worship was difficult for me.  I wasn’t sure that viewing our service online was going to fill my cup like going to church usually did for me.  Boy was I wrong.  I have gotten as much if not more from our online services.  We have not yet skipped a service since the shutdown occurred and that would not have been the case if life had carried on as normal.  We tend to miss out on going to church a lot because of travel with our kids’s sports.  I think this is probably the longest stretch of time that we haven’t missed a Sunday in years.  My cup is overflowing for sure and my relationship with Christ is only growing.

RELENTLESS IN LOVE

This is the one where my priorities have probably shifted the most.  It is easy for me to be relentless in my love for my family, friends, and others I meet.  What I have learned, though, is that it is much harder for me to be relentless in love for myself, and that is an area that I need to work on.  As I have shared over and over again, I tend to have this negative talk in my head about how I am not good enough, and I am not worthy enough.  I am working to correct this, but it is very difficult for me.  I also don’t spend enough time on self-care because I don’t make myself a priority. Now that I have all the time in the world, I have realized that I needed to be relentless with my time in the future.  I needed to be relentless in taking time for myself for self-care.  I needed to be relentless in creating a schedule that doesn’t run me into the ground and wear me out, but instead to create a schedule that offers time for recharging daily. I need to make time for me to love on myself. This one is certainly going to continue to be a work in progress, but it is one that I need to focus on because it is so important.  

RELENTLESS IN GROWTH

I am pretty sure that this is the only one that has remained a constant for me.  All of the change and realizations from above are a part of my growth.  It is a part of me discovering what is important to me and how I view the world and myself.  Growing as person and in who I want to be is a job that I will never retire from.  I strongly believe that you can never stop growing and learning and becoming a better version of yourself piece by piece.  

I have no clue where the rest of this year is going to take me. I have no idea of what the future holds. The one thing I do know is that I am not going to loose sight of my word again. For my mid-year renewal, I am recommitting to being RELENTLESS.

Anchored and Relentless,

Fashion Finds: Grace & Lace

I have shared many times about my passion for buying better and supporting small businesses.  I want to support companies that are doing good things and are making a difference in the world.  I recently came across a company that was once featured on the popular TV show,Shark Tank, called Grace & Lace.  You may have seen it advertised in your Facebook feed as it has popped up a few times in mine.  I decided to check out their website because there were some cute things that caught my eye.  Upon further digging, I discovered that this is a company that is doing some incredible things.  They partner with Angel House which is a company that builds homes for abandoned children.  A portion of every sale through Grace & Lace is given to Angel House to build orphanages in India. As of 2019 Grace & Lace has built 12 orphanages housing over 600 children, become the directors of a school in India that houses over 400 male orphans, opened their first Freedom Home which has saved 65 girls from trafficking, and so much more. The work they are able to do from the sale of their beautiful pieces is incredible. This is a company that I can get behind and will gladly give my business.  While you may view some items as higher priced than many of the things that I normally share on here, I feel that the benefit of what your purchase is doing, far outweighs the few extra dollars.  You can read more about the good this company is doing here

Check out some of the pieces that I am loving from their current collection. Keep in mind that they are a small business and many sizes and prints sell out quickly.  If you see something you love, grab it right away!

Distressed Super Stretch Zip Up Midi Shorts/Girlfriend Button Fly Shorts/Patch Pocket Waist Shaper Shorts/Off-White Distressed Ankle Length Jeggings

Super Stretch Step Hem Skirt/Striped Midi Dress

Button Up Cami/Tiered Mesh Tank/Perfect V-Neck Tee/Button Up Crepe Sleeveless Top/Twisted Neck Work Top/Summer Ditzy Floral Top

Vintage Floral Duster

Indian Summer Clutches

Happy shopping!

Anchored,