Friday Favorites: Top 5

It is time for another top 5.  Today I am going to share with you 5 quick things that I am loving right now. 

1. App: Pixel Art

I have actually been loving this App for a while.  I don’t know why, but it is soothing for me to color on this app.  It is totally like a kid’s color by number, but I am obsessed with it. It is like a time to calm my brain as I am doing something mindless.  I’ve been using it a lot this week as the hits keep coming. It is a great way to distract me.

2. Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner

I love these two products.  I have been using this shampoo and conditioner (Amazon) for years. Yes, they are on the pricier side, but I believe they are both well worth the money. Plus, you really don’t need a lot of either product to get your desired results so it will last you a while.  My hair can get dry and start to feel like straw, but these two products keep it hydrated, shiny, and soft. I love the cool, tingling feeling you get from the conditioner on your scalp. It has sort of a peppermint smell to it that is great too! I LOVE this duo!

3. Song: “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs

I am a long time country music fan, and I have become a fan of newcomer Luke Combs.  I have loved every song he has put out. Currently I am in love with his latest song.  It is a song that gets stuck in my head that I don’t mind being stuck with.   Maybe it’s because I identify with it.  I think my husband thinks I am crazy all the time, so I hope that my crazy is beautiful to him.  Haha! Wishful thinking, right?

4. Posture Corrector

I have been looking at this posture corrector on Amazon for over a year.  I have always had hunched over shoulders.  My mom and my grandmother used to (still do) always tell me to stand up straight.  Anyway, I had my eye on this contraption for a while.  I thought that it might help with my back pain.  Then I found out that a friend uses one to help with her migraines. You all know that I suffer from migraines as well.  That was the tipping point for me and convinced me that it was time to pull the trigger and buy it.  There are many different ones on Amazon.  This is the one I chose.  I really do think it is helping with my back.  The jury is still out on if it is helping my migraines or not. I don’t think I have been using it long enough to determine that, yet.  It recommends that you ease in to it and only wear it a little each day at first.  I am slowly building up to longer periods. So far, I am loving it.

5. Trading Spaces

Back in the 90’s the pioneer for home-remodeling shows was the show Trading Spaces on TLC. I was obsessed with the show back then and was dying to be on it.  My sister and I tried to convince my mom to apply to be on it. In the show two sets of neighbors switch houses for 2 days and redecorate one room in each other’s house.  It is all completely a surprise and the big reveal was always exciting waiting to see what the couple’s reaction would be to seeing their new room.  Sometimes they totally love it and sometimes they totally hate it and it is very clear.  Anyway, I was so excited when TLC announced the reboot of the show with many of the original cast members last year.  The second season of the reboot began last week.  I really love this show.  Yes, it is a bit corny now, but I love it anyway.

That’s a wrap on my top 5 this week!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Mascara

I have been on the hunt to find the perfect mascara for years.  I have had a few that I liked okay that I would use for a while, and then I would decided that I really don’t like it all that much and try another one.  I have used a wide variety of brands in a wide price range including Clinique, Maybelline, Mary Kay, Bare Minerals, Younique, and many more. There was nothing major wrong with any of those brands. It is really all about personal preference and what look you are going for.  For me, the wand matters and the clumpiness (I just made up that word) is a big factor for me.  That includes clumping on the wand and clumping on my lashes when I apply it. When I started using Rodan + Fields’ Lash Boost and my lashes started to look fuller and longer, I realized my current mascara just wasn’t doing if for me anymore so I was on the hunt for a better mascara.  I guess that I should mention that I have deep set eyes so sometimes it is hard to really see my lashes without a good mascara.  It’s just the way my eyes are built.  On top of that, I wear glasses all day, every day, which also distracts from my lashes.  I really need a mascara that is going to make my lashes look longer and fuller.

After getting feedback from several people, I started using Roller Lash by Benefit (Ulta) a couple of years ago.  It is said to be “super-curling and lifting” by the maker.  I don’t know so much about curling part, but I do feel like it lifted my lashes and helped them to stand out better. I would say that it is a pretty decent mascara, and I was happy with it for a long time.  I really feel like it makes my lashes appear longer. The one thing I don’t care for is that it doesn’t really give my lashes a fuller look.   I do really like the thin applicator and the way that it glides on so easily. It has very short bristles, and that style works really well for me and is the kind I prefer. I have never had this brand clump on the applicator or on my lashes.    I would recommend it to anyone because it is a solid choice, and I really have no major complaints about it other than the fullness factor.

A month or so ago, a friend mentioned a different mascara to me.  It is one that has actually been on my list for a while as one to try, but I was in no hurry to purchase it because I was happy with the Roller Lash. Anyway, she convinced me to give it a try.  Now, let me first say that my friend has amazing natural lashes that I have always been envious of, so I knew that the mascara wasn’t going to perform for me as well as it does for her.  I was willing to give it a try, though.  I hopped over to Ulta that same day and purchased Too Faced Better Than Sex (Ulta) mascara. Yes, I wish it had a different name, but it is what it is.  When I first opened it up, I could already tell that I wasn’t going to love the applicator.  It is big and bushy.  It has thick, long bristles and I typically avoid that kind of wand.  I was set on giving it a solid try, though.  I must say, that although I am still not crazy about the wand, I really like this mascara.  Not only does it give me the length, but it also gives my lashes a thicker appearance.  I have only been using it for about a month, but so far I am fairly pleased with it. I have this feeling that it could get clumpy, but I am hopeful that it won’t.  The jury is still out on that.

 I tried to do a side-by-side comparison for you, but it is really hard to photograph my eyes myself, and it just doesn’t translate as well to the picture as it does in real life.  However, I think that you can still tell the difference. You can see that the side with the Too Faced mascara is definitely more prominent than the side with the Benefit mascara. While both mascara’s are very different, I would recommend both of them to you as good options for mascara. If you take a look at the two pictures at the beginning of this post where I am wearing the Too Faced mascara in one picture and the Benefit mascara in the other, you can see that they both are good mascaras separately.  It is only when you put them side by side with one on each eye that you can really see the difference. Again, it is totally a matter of preference. I am not sure which one I will choose to go with for the long hall because I love them both for different reasons. I love the Benefit Roller Lash because of its applicator and easiness to apply, and I love the Too Faced Better than Sex for the fullness and length it gives my lashes. I also feel like the Benefit mascara gives you a more natural look than the Too Faced mascara. I’m not sure if that matters to me, though. It is really hard to decide which is my absolute favorite. I like them both! You just have to choose the one that works best for you because they are both great options!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: NKOTB

Cardboard cutout at Six Flags

I was totally going to write about mascara as one of my favorite things today, but then my favorite boy band was on Good Morning America AND Live with Kelly and Ryan this morning so I decided to switch it up. First, this is going to age me a lot. Second, it’s going to make some of you laugh really hard.  I have been in love with New Kids on the Block since I was a young girl.  That’s right! I was obsessed back then, and I am still obsessed as an adult.  You better believe that I had my DVR set to record both shows this morning so I wouldn’t miss it. As a kid I had all the posters on the walls in my rooms that I ripped out of all of the teen magazines, the huge buttons, the cassette tapes, and even the dolls (I still have a Joey doll in the box around here somewhere)! Jordan Knight was my favorite! I had a huge crush on him, and Joey McIntire was a close second.  I was totally the typical kid that was head over heels in love with the boy band.  I had every album they made including the Christmas one. I knew every word to every song (still do), and I was totally smitten.  I went to my first NKOTB concert when I was 11 years old and although we had terrible seats, I loved every second of it.  We had our binoculars trying to get some kind of glimpse of them from way up high in the stands.  I went with my childhood best friend, and I will always remember it.  

My love for NKOTB was renewed back in 2009 when my very best teacher friends actually became my forever friends as we bonded over New Kids. We heard about them coming back out on tour, and we knew that we had to go.  It was confirmed when we heard they would be coming to our area.  One of us was sitting at the computer waiting to grab tickets the minute they went on sale.  We managed to grab the absolute best seats.  We were on the 5th row!!! We were so excited that we had a countdown to the concert on the back of the door to one of our classrooms.  It was insane, but it was like we were kids again! The night of the concert came, and we had gotten ourselves old school shirts that matched. We were bouncing off the walls because we were so excited. The concert was at an outdoor amphitheater, and it just so happened that night was rainy and stormy.  We got to the concert and it was pouring, but we didn’t care. We were going to go no matter what. We were just praying that it wouldn’t get canceled due to the weather.  We got to the amphitheater early and were sitting in my car in the parking lot as sirens were going off for a severe tornado WARNING! It was scary! We were scoping out a nearby ditch that we could run jump in if we spotted a tornado.  We were laughing and practically crying at the same time, and it is a memory that I will never forget.  We finally got the all-clear message from the radio and the word that concert was still on.  We went in, got soaked, sang “Step by Step” on the news, and had the time of our lives. We all screamed and sang our hearts out until none of us had a voice.  It was the best time ever! 

Since then, we have seen them in concert 2 more times, once with The Backstreet Boys and once with TLC and Nelly.  That last one began with one of my friends leaping over chairs to touch Donnie Wahlberg as he walked on stage near us. I swear I have never laughed as hard as I do when we are all together at a concert. We actually already have tickets to see them again in June of this year, and I CANNOT wait! The concerts now aren’t as much about NKOTB as they are about our friendship and just feeling young and excited again.  I think I will forever be in love with New Kids on the Block, and my friends and I will continue to go see them in concert as long as they keep having them.  One of these days we might just end up on one of their cruises. You never know! I think we would all die if we got that close to them.  LOL! I think that every generation has their own boy band, but I am not sure that there are any that have the following and loyalty as NKOTB does. They are just the best and by far my all time favorite! 

This post is dedicated to my favorite Blockhead Sisters! You know who you are!

Anchored and a Blockhead for Life,

Friday Favorites: Trades of Hope

Well, due to unforeseen circumstances I am late getting this post started today.  Better late than never, right? Anyway, today I wanted to share with you something that I am very passionate about and that is probably the number one favorite thing in my life right now.  At the end of January I made the decision to join a company called Trades of Hope.  I have shown you pieces from there before, but I was not really a part of it then. Other than maybe seeing me mention it here, most of you have likely never heard of Trades of Hope.  I had never heard of it until a few months ago. I was actually introduced to it by a friend.  The more I learned about the company, the more I fell in love, and the more it pulled at my heartstrings.  I know you are questioning how a direct sales company could really pull at my heartstrings, and I will tell you that it is because this company is changing the world.  Two women and their two daughters started this company several years ago.  They have a belief that every woman should have the opportunity to change her life, and I completely agree. Because of this, they had an idea to empower women across the globe out of sweatshops, slums, sex trafficking and extreme poverty by creating jobs and a sustainable business.  Around 70% of people living in poverty around the world are women.  The men in their lives and countries treat many of them poorly.  In some countries, they are treated as second-class citizens. Some are even sold as bond slaves in order to pay their family’s debts.  Statistically, we have learned that empowering women has a rippling effect on not only her family, but also her community.  A woman will typically invest her money, use it to feed and clothe her family, send her children to school, and use it to help her community. The founders of Trades of Hope (TOH) made it their mission to empower these women out of poverty through job creation and education. Trades of Hope now partners with women all over the world (in 17 countries, including the US) to help them market and sell their beautiful handmade products which include jewelry, scarves, bags, and home décor.

Here are just a few of the things that these women face daily:

*Women in Haiti are forced to give their children to orphanages not because they don’t want them, but because they are not able to feed them. 

*Women in Pakistan are treated like second-class citizens and are often sold as bond slaves to pay their family debts. Just this week I was able to sit in on a live video chat with the leaders of the artisan group there along with two of the artisans. Just hearing the horrible things that they face and the danger they are in daily just because they are women blew me away and totally broke my heart.  However, this artisan group is now providing these women with a safe space to work and an education so that they can better their lives and that of their children. 

*Many women have to sell their bodies on the street in order to feed their children. 

*Some of these women are forced to work 16 hours a day and are forced to leave their young children home alone. 

*Women in Costa Rica are struggling to raise their families in a gang and drug infected area.

*Women in Cambodia are often the victims of acid attacks, which are used as a form of punishment typically passed out by an authority figure who feels disrespected. One of those women named Ya had this to say about her opportunity to partner with TOH:

“I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect.”

If you have never watched or heard of the film, Poverty, Inc. (available on Amazon Prime Video), I highly encourage you to watch it. You can see the trailer below. It talks about how we always see these countries in desperate situations and people in poverty and our first instinct is to offer charity.  We send money; we send clothes; we send food and water. All of that is great, but it doesn’t fix the underlying problem of why these people are poor in the first place. These people don’t want our charity. They want a way to help themselves. They want an opportunity to be able to provide for their families themselves. They want a sustainable income. This is where Trades of Hope comes into play.  By giving these women small business loans, giving them opportunities for education, and by teaching them a skill, these women are able to get themselves out of dangerous and dire situations.  These women, our artisan partners, are able to create the most amazing pieces that my fellow Compassionate Entrepreneurs and I are able to see to all of you through fair trade.  Our artisans are paid 3-6 times more than they would be paid in their countries. We pay them 100% of their asking price up front. 

Here are some of the things that I have been able to do through this company already just in my first month of joining. While they may seem small, it really does have a huge impact on these women’s lives. I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone and create a ripple effect by sharing the mission with everyone I know. Together we can make a difference.

  1. Help empower women in India, Uganda, Peru, Asia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, and Kenya
  2. Plant 4 fruit trees for families in Africa that can be used as food and a source of income
  3. Provide 12 baby chicks whose eggs can soon be used as food and a source of income to a family in Africa
  4. Provide a school uniform for a child in Haiti
Waterfall Necklace made in Uganda

I have been so impressed by this company and its mission.  It truly touches my heart.  If you are interested in learning more about this company or the pieces these artisans create, check it out here. You can also ask to join my Facebook group where I share artisan stories, my favorite pieces, and newly released products. I am sure that I will also be sharing some of the gorgeous handmade products in my future Friday Favorites here because I love them and the stories behind them so much!

Anchored in Hope,

Book Club: Left Neglected

I am sorry that I didn’t get this up yesterday like I said I was going to try to do. My whirlwind travel did not allow me enough time to finish it enough that I felt good about posting, so here it is today. Better late than never, right?

Our February Book Club book was Left Neglected (Amazon) by Lisa Genova. I chose this book because it was by the same author that wrote Still Alice (Amazon), and I really enjoyed that book.  This book did not disappoint either.  I actually found myself relating to the main character a lot. The story centers around a woman named Sarah who is at the top of the world.  She has the job, the family, the house, the nanny, and even the vacation home. Her days were scheduled from the moment she woke up until the moment her head hit the pillow at night and then some. She was practically married to her job and spent the majority of her time on being the best of the best and moving up the corporate ladder.  Everything was great in her mind, until it all came to a crashing halt. One car ride, one attempt to make a call while driving, and a devastating crash that almost killed her left Sarah with a brain injury called Left Neglect.  She suddenly had no awareness of the left side of her body or that left side of the world and her surroundings.  The story follows her journey to overcome her injury, retrain her brain, and to figure out what her new normal would be.  

The beginning of this story made me nod my head yes over and over again.  I was living that life just a few short years ago.  I devoted everything in me to my job and being the absolute best in my field.  I let it control me and everything I did.  I forgot what was important just like Sarah.  She kind of gave me the impression that her view of being perfect was very similar to mine.  Thankfully, it didn’t take a life altering accident for me to realize that way of thinking was skewed.  While my journey to the place I am now was not as tragic as hers,  I found myself seeing similarities in her discovery of who she was, who she had become, and who she really wanted to be.  Here is an excerpt that hit home for me because I had very similar ideas about my life. 

“Ever since business school, I’ve had my head down, barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone, pointed down one road toward a single goal. A successful life. And not just run-of-the-mill success. The kind of success that my fellow elite classmates would envy, the kind that my professors would cart out to future students as a shining example of achievement, the kind that even the exceptionally prosperous citizens of Welmont would aspire to, the kind that Bob would be proud of. “

Then this realization that was also similar to mine, and I feel like it could have been something that came directly from my mouth not so long ago.  

“And I’m starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there’s another way to get there. Maybe there’s a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit.”

I highly recommend this book. It is an easy light read and story that could teach us all a thing or two.

I couldn’t be more excited about my pick for March.  It is a book that I have been waiting on for what seems like forever! It is being released in a few short days, and I preordered it months ago.  I am sure you can probably take a good guess as to what it is because I have talked about it many times before.  If you guess that it is by my imaginary BFF, Rachel Hollis, you would be correct! Girl, Stop Apologizing is almost here and I CANNOT WAIT! I hope that you all have already read Girl, Wash Your Face, because it is phenomenal.  I know that this new one is going to be just as great, if not better.  I have already heard excerpts of it from Rachel herself during her live videos every morning on Instagram and Facebook and it’s so good.  The book releases on March 5.  Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

“In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people–whether as a wife, mother, daughter, or employee–instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.”

Will you join me in reading this book on our way to self discovery? I can’t wait to get started!

Anchored in a Good Book,

Friday Favorites: Top 5

Today, is going to be short and to the point! I thought I would do something new for my favorites. I decided that I wanted to share with you 5 quick things that I am loving right now.  Here goes…

1. Sketchers Slip-on Sneakers

I have had the above Sketchers for years, and they are one of my absolute favorite shoes.  They have memory foam inside which makes them super comfy! They are super easy to just slip on and go without having to stop and tie them.  I slip them on every single morning to take my girls to school.  I have even worn these shoes all day at Disney World without ever getting a blister or my feet hurting.  Obviously, since I have had them for so long, these exact ones are no longer available, but this one is very similar, and it has the same memory foam and flex fit.  You can be sure that I will be wearing mine until they fall apart, and I am forced to get a new pair. 

2. The Good Doctor TV Show on ABC

This show is currently in the middle of its second season and I have been in love with it since day 1.  The storyline centers around a young surgeon, Dr. Shawn Murphy, in the middle of his residency. The thing that is unique about this surgeon is that he in on the Autism Spectrum and uses his extraordinary skills to save lives and change people’s perception of people with autism. I don’t know if I am biased towards the show because I was a special education teacher for 17 years with a passion for kids with autism or not, but I really love this show.  The actor that plays Dr. Murphy does an outstanding job in the role.  If you haven’t see the show, go back and watch season 1.  It is great!

3. Walmart Muffins

Ok, you may think I am weird for this one.  There are these muffins that are sold in the bakery section of Walmart that my oldest daughter and I are kind of obsessed with.  She loves the chocolate chip ones, and I love the cinnamon coffee cake ones.  I buy 4 packs of these muffins every time I go to Walmart.  She and I eat like one a day usually.  No, they aren’t the healthiest things in the world, but she and I both have always had a weakness for any kind of bread.  These muffins are so yummy!

4. 30 oz Yeti Tumbler

Unless you are living under a rock, I am sure you have seen these Yeti cups everywhere.  I use this one or one like it every single day.  I carry it with me everywhere I go.  Now, I don’t use it for coffee like most people, but I use mine for ice water all day, every day. This particular blue one is my absolute favorite of all the ones that I own.  Don’t ask me why, other than it is cute (I monogramed on it myself), and it works. If you are a water drinker like me and like your water to be really cold, invest in the money to buy a couple of these because it will stay cold for 24 hours.  They are the best! I will admit that I have some other brands that work just fine, but the Yeti ones are definitely my favorite. 

5. Immune Boost Essential Oil Roller

With it being the middle of flu season and so many illnesses going around, I am bathing in this stuff daily. I will tell you that I use Young Living Essential Oils, but I am not going to tell you that mine are better than whatever brand you use or are thinking of using.  I think we are all adults and make our own informed decisions. Now, with that being said, I will tell you that I do believe that essentials oils work.  I cannot take credit for the blend (oregano, thieves, lemon, frankincense, peppermint) that I use either.  I got it from a group that I am in, but you can search for immune boosters on Pinterest and find a ton of great recipes.  I have not gotten my family 100% on board with my oily life, but I think they are starting to come around.  I am currently the only one willing to use the immune boost roller daily, and I am the only one (knock on wood) that hasn’t been sick this season! Call it what you want, but I think it is proof that it works.  

That’s a wrap on my top 5 favorite things that I am loving right now!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Bright Eye Complex

I am getting a late start to this post today because we closed on our new house this morning!!! I couldn’t be any more excited except maybe the day we actually move. It is so awesome! We also have ANOTHER snow day today with more snow.  It has been lightly snowing since about 6:00 this morning. My kids really NEED to go back to school! They are driving me nuts! 

Moving on to the topic of today….another one of my favorite things. You know the thin, fragile layer of skin under your eyes? It is often the very first place to show signs of stress and fatigue.  That along with dehydrated skin causes our eyes to develop dark circles, puffiness, and dullness. Never fret! I have the solution! If you are a mom like me, you need this product in your life. I am talking about Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Bright Eye Complex.  This stuff is amazing! It is a very lightweight gel-cream.  You actually really don’t feel it once you apply it because it’s so light.  It is designed to visibly improve the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and dullness.  It hydrates the skin, diffuses discoloration, and minimizes puffiness using R+F’s own 3D3P Molecular Matrix, caffeine, and phytonutrients.  Basically, it makes your tired eyes look rested and refreshed. Your skin needs hydrated skin, and hydrated skin looks and behaves younger. Don’t we all wish we looked bright eyed and bushy tailed every morning? I know I do! 

The results really speak for themselves. I use this product daily to keep me from looking as tired as a feel, and it really works. Based on a 4-week consumer study, 87% of participants saw a visible improvement in dark under-eye circles, and 91% of participants saw a visible improvement in under-eye puffiness.   

I have super sensitive eyes. Just about everything causes my eyes to get irritated, or I get these little allergy bumps as my doctor called them all under my eye lids. Bright Eye Complex does not cause any irritation for me, which makes it even more awesome.  I have never had any issues with it, and I use it daily.  It is definitely a product that I will likely use forever to keep me looking young and well rested, even when I am neither! 

Anchored,

Book Club: Pachinko

I just finished our book club book for January yesterday afternoon. Did anyone else read it with me? It was a pretty long book with over 600 pages, so you may not be done yet. It was an easy read, but I think it was a little too long.  I was hesitant about this book and went back and forth before I chose it for our book club.  I wasn’t sure how I would like it as I don’t typically read a lot of historical fiction. I had heard good things about it and the book had won several awards so I decided to go for it.  I will tell you that I am glad that I read it.  The book, Pachinko (Amazon) by Min Jin Lee, is set in areas of Korea and Japan. It is a story of a Korean family’s journey through 4 generations whose lives are greatly impacted as they navigate the trials of life in occupied Korea and later as outcasts in Japan. It is a beautiful story of love, discontent, hardships, devotion, and perseverance. The story spans this family’s life for over 79 years.  The story is broken into 3 parts.  Each part tells the story of a different generation of the family. 

The story begins in 1910 with a young man who was born with a cleft palate and a twisted foot. Despite his physical appearance, he was a very bright, hardworking man, but he was considered crippled and unfit for marriage. When he was 27 years old, Japan took control of Korea. The story is a journey that began just after that when the matchmaker visited the young man’s home and was able to find him a simple wife.  Life was very difficult for Koreans at that time and the young couple struggled greatly. The story continues as the young couple has only one surviving child, a girl named Sunja.  Lies and adultery change the course of Sunja’s life forever as she is forced to move to Japan.  Her story is a sad one filled with many trials and tribulations, but her determination and perseverance keep her going strong for many years.   Sunja had 2 sons along the way and the story continues with their lives and the struggles they endured as Koreans in Japan, a country that despised them and treated them like scum.  As Sunja’s sons grew up and the war ended, the family continued to have struggles as they remained outcasts in Japan.  The third part of the book, covered the lives of Sunja’s grandchildren and how the Pachinko business changes the lives of the entire family, some for good and others for bad. 

I really enjoyed this book a lot, and I liked getting to see how the family’s circumstances of their birth and the war affected their lives over generations.  Min Jin Lee’s story was very well developed and and so well written that I could visualize the story as I went along. Sadly, I was really unaware of just how difficult it was for Koreans at that time.  It was very interesting to me.  I did feel that the story was a little too long, though.  There were a couple of times when the story seemed to go astray with add on characters that I felt were not necessary.  Overall, though, I would definitely recommend this book.  It has a little bit of everything: adultery, suicide, organized crime, gambling, illness, drama, and more. If you haven’t read it, I think that you will find it to be a heartwarming story of love and devotion. 

Now, on to the next book! First, let me say that having this book club has forced me to get back in to the habit of reading everyday which is something that I really enjoy doing. I have loved books for as long as I can remember, and I had let life get in the way of doing something that I love. Even if no one chooses to read these books along with me, I will keep this book club going with just me because it gives me great joy.   If you love to read, join me. I would love to talk to you about the books as we read together! Second, I will tell you that I really put a lot of thought into the books that I choose for this book club.  I look through many titles and reviews before I choose the book, and I really do hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. Now, the new book I have chosen for February is Left Neglected  (Amazon) by Lisa Genova. Genova is a neuroscientist as well as an author and often write stories of characters with neurological disorders. I read another book by her several years ago about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s called, Still Alice (Amazon).  You may have heard about or read this book as it was turned into a movie staring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Alec Baldwin. I really enjoyed that book, so I wanted to read something else by Lisa Genova.  Left Neglected (Amazon) is a New York Times Best Seller and it is an older book. It was published in 2011. It is a story of mother whose life was turned upside down after a car wreck left her with a traumatic brain disorder called “left neglect.” Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book:

“In this powerful and poignant New York Times bestseller, Lisa Genova explores what can happen when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Left Neglected is an unforgettable story about finding abundance in the most difficult of circumstances, learning to pay attention to the details, and nourishing what truly matters.”

Come inside this book with me and see where the journey takes us! 

Anchored in a Good Book,

Friday Favorites: Sleep Cycle App

I’m getting a late start on this post today.  My kids are out of school again today (not because of snow even though it snowed again last night) for a teacher workday, so my schedule has been thrown off yet again. I did enjoy sleeping in this morning, though.  I don’t get to do that very often. I am feeling rested and ready for the day. Sleep is such an important piece to your overall health.  I am one of those people who really requires at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I have always known this about me. I know that my body and mind function way better when I have had at least 8 hours.  Even when I was in college, I was the nerd that went to bed between 9 and 10 every night.  For the majority of my life, I have tried to stick to a bedtime of around 9:00. This was especially true when I was teaching because I got up at 5:00 every morning so going to bed at 9 would give me the needed 8 hours of sleep in theory.   I have always had a hard time falling asleep, though. It takes a while for my brain to stop running so I often ended up with only 6-7 hours of sleep. It has really been since I stopped teaching that my bedtime has gotten later and later despite the fact that I get up around 6:00. Part of it is because my daughter doesn’t get out of gymnastics practice until 10:00 most nights so it is impossible to go to bed earlier. The other part of it is that this is the time that I get to spend with my husband.  We will watch TV together or we will just lay in bed and talk for a bit. He on the other hand is a person that can live off of just 2 hours of sleep. That is partly due to necessity because of his job. It has always driven me crazy that he can fall asleep within 2 seconds of his head hitting the pillow.  I’m not exaggerating.  I’m super jealous. Anyway, I do feel like I am tired a lot more during the day now that I go to bed later and get less sleep.  It’s like I can never get enough.

Why am I telling you my sleep habits? I’m sure you really don’t care.  The point is to share with you one of my favorite apps on my phone. It is called Sleep Cycle. My husband introduced me to it about 2 years ago. We both use it every night. This app is really cool because it tracks your sleep patterns and serves as an alarm clock.  You set it at night before you go to bed to the time you need to get up, then set your phone down on a table beside you, and it records your sleep.  Somehow based on the sounds it hears throughout the night, it can determine the times when you were awake, were in deep sleep, and when you were in a lighter sleep.  In the mornings it will tell you how long you were in bed, your sleep quality, if you snored, and how many steps you took that day. Over time, you can look at graphs that show your sleep patterns over days, weeks, and even months. It is pretty cool to see it all laid out in a graph. My husband and I always compare our sleep quality percentage.  My sleep quality for last night was 89%. You can see below my sleep graph for last night. I was awake between 5:00-6:00 and then fell back asleep. The night before my sleep quality was 81%.

The other cool thing is the alarm feature.  You can choose to set it up like a normal alarm that wakes you up at the time you set it, or you can choose to set it up to use a wake cycle.  For the wake cycle, you would set the alarm like you normally do for the time you want to wake up. The difference is that it will wake you up sometime around the time you set it, but it will be when you are in your in your lightest sleep. This a more natural way to wake up.  For example, let’s say that you set it for 6:00 AM.  Then the app senses that you are in a light sleep phase at 5:45. The alarm will start out at a soft volume and begin to wake you up at 5:45 even though you set it for 6:00. Now, you can set it so that it will only do this within 10 minutes of your set time or you can set it so that it can wake you up in your lightest sleep for up to 90 minutes before your set time.  The app actually recommends that you set it for 30 minutes but the choice it yours. This prevents the alarm from waking you up from a deep, dead sleep. It wakes you up in a more natural way which is really cool.

Here are some other cool features to the app.

  • Sound-choose from multiple soothing sounds that wake you up in a natural way by beginning to play softly and then increasing in volume until you turn it off.
  • Vibration-used when the sound does not wake you up
  • Snooze-can be set for anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes of snooze time
  • Weekend-allows you to set the days of the week that you only want sleep analysis but no alarm to sound
  • Sleep Aid-emits a soothing sound to help you fall asleep. (I use this a lot when my husband is away to help me fall asleep faster.)***
  • Sleep Notes-allows you to track how different activities like drinking alcohol, drinking coffee, or exercise affect your sleep quality***
  • Weather-displays the weather when you wake up***
  • Heart Rate-measures your heart rate when you wake up.  It does this by analyzing the color changes on the tip of your finger when placed on the phone’s home button***
  • Philips Hue-allows the phone to wake you up with lights rather than sound***
  • Apple Watch-The app can be paired with your Apple Watch if you wear it at night to track your heart rate throughout the night. (I don’t use this feature because I can’t sleep with my watch on.)

Many of the above features (***) only come with the Premium subscription which is $29.99 per year. Fortunately, when I got the app two years ago, it was a paid app, so I automatically got the premium features without having to pay the subscription fee.  While the free features are cool alone, the premium option gives you much more data and allows you to track your patterns over a longer period of time.  I recommend the premium features, but I understand not wanting to pay for the subscription.  Try out the free version and see what you think.  If you really like it and want more detailed tracking and the options that come with the premium subscription, then go for it. 

Here are some more cool charts to show my sleep patterns over time.

Again, both my husband and I love this app. It is one that we use daily and would both recommend that you at least give the free version a try. It is pretty cool to see your sleep patterns all laid out in the graphs, and the alarm feature is awesome. The app is available for Apple and Android users. Go check it out!

Anchored and Rested,

Friday Favorites: Sphynx Razor

I tried out a new product for you all. I saw this product featured on the Today Show’s Steals and Deals a while back and it intrigued me.  Then I saw it magically pop up in my Facebook feed a few times and saw some friends post about it.  I finally decided that I was intrigued enough to buy it.  It is a portable razor that comes complete with everything you need to shave your legs.  It is made by a company called Sphynx.  Now, I will tell you that it is not designed to be your everyday razor in the shower. It is designed for those on-the-go moments when you realize you missed a spot on your legs or you forgot to shave your underarms (That happens to me a lot, sadly.). You just throw it in your purse and whip it out whenever you need it, wherever you are. I would not use it to shave my whole leg because that is not what it is designed for, and I don’t think the razor is good enough for everyday use. It would be great in an emergency, though.

The Specifics:

This razor comes in a variety of fun, bright colors and also in black. It is in the shape of a circle, but it does have a flat part at the bottom so you can stand it up on the counter if you need to. It is just slightly larger than the palm of my hand, which makes it small enough to keep in your purse, gym bag, or overnight bag. It is TSA approved for flying. It is easy to hold in your hands and is pretty simple to use. The coolest part about this product is that it comes complete with everything you need to shave on-the-go, and it is all neatly packed into the compact circular case.  All you have to do it to rotate the little dial in the center to access each piece.

Spray Bottle:

There is a miniature, refillable spray bottle that you use to dampen your skin to prep for shaving.  You simply pop it out, fill it with water, and pop it back in. The bottle is pretty small which is another reason that you probably can’t shave all of both legs with it. It wouldn’t be enough water or you would have to refill it.

Moisturizing Bar:

Once you are done dampening your skin, you twist the dial to reveal a small moisturizing bar that is filled with coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils. Use it to lather your skin for shaving. It also doubles as a moisturizer.  That means you don’t have to rinse it off when you are done.  That’s even more perfect for your on-the-go lifestyle. The company states that it won’t melt in heat, so you can even throw it in your beach bag.  Another positive to the bar is that it is cruelty free, vegan friendly, and paraben free.

Razor:

Now that you have dampened and lathered your skin, you turn the dial one more time to reveal the razor. Turning the dial a fourth time will reveal a second razor. When one gets dull, move on to the second one.  It is a single blade razor for easy cleaning. It was a little odd a first getting used to holding the circular case versus my regular razor, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. 

I know you are thinking about how in the world you clean it when you are done. That was my thought too. First of all, there are small holes on each side of the circular case that allow water to escape if it gets inside so you won’t have mold or mildew.  Then, you can twist and easily pop the frame apart so you can run the razors under water to clean.  If you are on the go and don’t have the opportunity to rinse it, you can wipe the blade easily with a paper towel. Refill packs are also available. They come with 4 new razors and one moisturizing bar. If you order through the  Sphynx website, you can sign up for automatic refill deliveries. You can also purchase these razors at retailers such as Target and Ulta. Additionally, they are available for purchase on Amazon.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been at the beach or out somewhere and I realized that I missed a big patch of hair on my leg or I forgot to touch up my underarms.  This product is great for those occasions. If you are like me and are very forgetful or are always in a rush, try this product out and let me know what you think.

Anchored,