Friday Favorites: imPress Nails

I love painted nails. However, painted nails don’t like me.  I guess I am too rough on my hands or something, but they never last more than one or two days.  Even if I get them done at a nail salon, they only last maybe one or two more days.  It feels like a waste of money and time even though I do it anyway.  I have never been one to go for acrylic or fake nails because my own nails are pretty good.  They are strong and they grow nicely so I figure why not just paint what I’ve got? Well, that never works.  I end up removing the polish and repainting them every couple of days.  I just don’t have the time or energy for that anymore. I started looking into other options.  I really didn’t want to spend the money to get them done all the time.  I kept seeing people talk about imPress Nails online.  They were saying how great they are and that they are way more affordable than getting acrylic nails.  My first thought was of the Lee Press on Nails from the 80’s and thought there was no way they would last.  I kept seeing them online, though, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  I decided to give them a try.  I went to Target and easily found them in the cosmetic area.  Make sure you get the ones that say imPress Nails, not the ones that say Kiss. They look similar, but they are not the same. They had several different shades to choose from, and they even come with accent nails if that is something you like.  So far my favorite shades have been Kiss & TellNight Fever, Bright as a Feather (not available online), and So Unexpected. There are more shades online, and they seem to have different shades at different stores. I saw some holiday ones online at Walmart that were pretty cute. Some of the nails have oval tips, but most of them are the typical square tips.  I did get one of each, but I did not like the oval tip ones on me.  They just looked weird to me.  Yes, these are press on nails, but there is no glue or adhesive that you have to apply.  The adhesive is already built into the nail.  All you have to do is figure out which size you need for each nail (there are multiple size options), use the enclosed prep pad to clean your nails, peel the backing off, and then stick them to your nail.  They key is to firmly press them down across the whole nail. Pretty simple, right? Again, I was thinking that there is no way that they would last, but I was going to give it a solid effort.  It turns out that I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only did they look great, but they also lasted over a week.  They would have lasted a few more days, but one of them was starting to come loose so I took them all off.  If I could have fixed that one, I think they would have likely lasted for 2 full weeks because all of the other nails were still firmly attached.  They lasted through hair washing, dish washing, folding laundry, typing, and all my normal activities with no problems.  I was very impressed. Since that first time, I have had them last about 2 weeks each time. 

Kiss & Tell

Now, my other concern with using these nails was what kind of damage they would do to my own nails.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised again.  My nails were perfectly fine when I took the imPress ones off.  Some of them were still stuck on pretty good, and I had to tug hard to get a few of them off. I was worried that it might tear my nails because I was pulling so hard, but it didn’t.  They do recommend using a little nail polish remover around the edges if they are hard to get off, but I did not use any. I didn’t feel like it was really necessary. I have not had any issues with my own nails since I started using the imPress Nails, which has been great.  I have now used them more than once and have been very happy with them. I do give my nails a break in between pairs just to ensure that my natural nails stay healthy.  I don’t know if that is really necessary, but it makes me feel better. 

Bright as a Feather

One drawback for me initially was that the nails are a little longer than I typically wear my natural nails.  That took some getting used to.   They do say that you can file them after you have applied them, but I found them hard to file.  After a day or two, though, the length didn’t really bother me, and I had no issue with them.  Now I love the length.  Another thing that was a little annoying was that the adhesive covers the span of the nail.  Since these are longer than my natural nail, the back of the tips was still sticky from the adhesive. Things like dirt and hair would get stuck to it.  After reading some reviews, I learned to use clear nail polish over the adhesive that was exposed, and that worked like a charm.  Overall, I am in love with these nails.  They look great, work great, and are more affordable than getting a manicure.  I really like them and will continue to use them.  I highly recommend them for you to try. Let me know what you think.

Anchored,

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

Book Club: Redemption Road

It is Book Club day! I am doing it a week early this month due to the holiday next week.  I hope you all read our November book with me because it was such a great read.  Our book for November was Redemption Road by John Hart.  This book was a change of pace from the books I had been choosing.  This one was more of a psychological thriller, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I was totally wrapped up in the storyline and characters.  I really could not put it down.  The twists and turns throughout the story kept me guessing on the edge of my seat.  My only complaint is that I didn’t really love the ending.  I felt like it left me wanting more.  I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what more I needed out of the ending, though. I just know that it felt a little unfinished to me.  Maybe it was just that I didn’t want it to end.  I’m not sure.  Despite that, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the mystery and the thrill of it.  I spent most of the time reading it trying to predict what was going to happen. John Hart certainly did a great job of keeping me guessing up until the end.  I definitely recommend this book if you haven’t already read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Redemption Road is a story that revolves around four characters whose lives become intertwined in the aftermath of murder and mystery.  It all began thirteen years ago when a police officer, Adrian Wall, was convicted of murdering the mother of a young boy named Gideon.  Elizabeth Black, a fellow police officer, was the first on the scene. Because of that, she developed a very close relationship with Gideon.  She became his protector and took on a motherly role with him in the years that followed.  It turned out that Elizabeth’s path had crossed with Adrian’s a few years before the murder, and that incident had altered the course of her life. As a result, she did not believe that Adrian was capable of such a crime.  She had an unshakeable belief that he was wrongly convicted and was one of only two people that supported his claim of innocence leading up to his conviction.  

Thirteen years after the murder of Gideon’s mother and Adrian’s conviction, Elizabeth was caught up in another case when eighteen year old, Channing, was kidnapped.  Elizabeth was put on suspension from the police force and faced criminal chargers after admitting to shooting the two men who had kidnapped, tortured and raped Channing.  She had allegedly shot the two men 18 times.  Elizabeth again developed a strong connection with the teen and took on a protective roll with her after the ordeal.  In the days following Elizabeth’s suspension, Adrian was released from prison on parole. His time in prison had not been kind to him as he had suffered through abuse and torture at the hands of the warden.  The day Adrian was released put him on a collision course with Elizabeth, Gideon, and Channing.  Little did the four know that they would be thrown into a wild ride together mixed with more murder, mystery, obsession, and ghosts from their past. Their stories intertwined and eventually led all four of them down the road to redemption. 

It was a beautifully written story filled with intrigue and mystery.  I really did not see the ending coming.  Again, I highly recommend this story especially if you like psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.  It reminded me of stories like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I will definitely be reading more books by John Hart in the future.  

My next pick for our Book Club is another psychological thriller that is said to be addictive with a jaw-dropping twist.  It was just released this month and is already making waves.  My pick for December is The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland.  It is about a mother whose 2-year-old daughter is kidnapped right under her nose. That little girl makes a return to her mother’s life 9 years later.  Here is what the publisher has to say about this book.

“From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this utterly gripping psychological thriller will have you up all night reading. If you loved Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and The Sister this book is for you.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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Friday Favorites: Top 5

It has been a busy week at my house this week. We had the addition of high school gymnastics on top of club gymnastics and cheer this week, which always makes things a little more hectic.  There has just been a lot going on.  As I have mentioned before, November signals the start of craziness in my family because it is when competition season begins for both girls in addition to the holidays in the mix.  I am super happy that we don’t have too much going on this weekend because it is probably our last free weekend for a long time.  I plan to enjoy it!

Today I am sharing 5 things that I love.  Check them out.

1. Panera Bread-Cinnamon Crunch Bagel

I love bread of all kinds.  I always have.  I know it isn’t the best thing for me, but I just really love bread.  I am one of those people that believes you have to have bread with every meal.  That is really just my excuse to eat more bread.  I love rolls, muffins, biscuits, bagels, and more.  I could go on and on.   I guess that is why I love to go to Panera.  I mean it is a bread place after all!  Anyway, I love getting their potato soup in a bread bowl.  Yum! It’s so good.  However, my most favorite thing from Panera is their Cinnamon Crunch Bagel. I am not a big breakfast eater, but that doesn’t matter because I will eat one of these for lunch.  I’m not kidding.  They are just so yummy! 

2. Karen Kingsbury-Redemption Series

Karen Kingsbury is one of my absolute favorite authors.  I don’t think I have ever read one of her books that I didn’t love, and I have read a lot of them too. She writes Christian fiction and her stories are so touching.  I think I have shed at least a few tears for every one of her books that I have read. She writes a lot of series too. In fact the first time I read one of her books, it was the beginning of a series that she has since done multiple series spin offs from.  My favorite is that first series I read many years ago. It is called the Redemption Series and follows the lives of a family, the Baxters.  It is a series of 5 books each one telling the story of one of the 5 Baxter children.   I have read the whole series twice, and I will probably read it again one day because I love it so much.  I highly recommend this series as well as all of her other books.  

3. Maybelline Super Stay Ink Crayon Lipstick

I have shared with you before how much I love the Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick (see more here).  It is my absolute favorite and the only one I wear.  It stays on all day, doesn’t smudge, and doesn’t transfer.  It is the best.  Well, Maybelline has recently launched a new piece to the Super Stay line that I love just as much. It is a crayon or pencil lipstick that you draw on.  This one has the same long lasting power and a variety of great colors.  It goes on smooth and easy and actually feels like a regular lipstick the way it glides on. It isn’t what you would experience if you were using a pencil liner.  It goes on much smoother.  I’m now obsessed with it just as much as I was with the Liquid Lipstick if not more so. I am wearing Lead the Way in this photo. 

4. Matching Christmas Pajamas

For as long as I have had 2 children, I have always gotten them matching Christmas pajamas every year.  Then when my nephews were born, we started doing matching pajamas for all the kids. Several years ago my mom, sister, and I started also wearing matching ones too. We didn’t match with the kids, but the three of us matched each other.  Then a couple of years ago, my mom decided she wanted the whole family to be in matching pajamas at Christmas.  Of course the men in the family weren’t too fond of that idea and refused to participate. They only wore theirs for the 10 minutes it took my mom to get a picture of the whole family together.  Anyway, I still love the idea of matching pajamas on Christmas.  This year I am all about the buffalo plaid that is so on trend right now, and I am thinking about getting these for my family of 4.  Aren’t they so cute? We would all be adorable in them on Christmas morning.  I doubt my husband will go for it, but I can dream, right?

5. Amazon Original-Jack Ryan

If you have Amazon Prime (and you should if you don’t), you need to watch the Jack Ryan series. Otherwise, you can just buy it.  I watched the first season a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it.  The second season just came out.  I haven’t watched it yet because I just haven’t had time, but it is definitely on my to do list.  It is based on Tom Clancy’s books and his character, CIA analyst Jack Ryan. In the show Jack is played by John Krasinski, and he is great in this role. It is action packed and so good.  Both my husband and I really liked season 1, and can’t wait to watch season 2.

That’s a wrap on my top 5 favorites today, but check back next week for our book club. I am doing it a week early because of the holiday. If you haven’t started our book for this month, Redemption Road by John Hart, get on it because it is so good!

Anchored,

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

Friday Favorites: Concealer

Let’s talk concealer. There were times when I used to rely heavily on concealer because my face was always broken out and it was a huge mess.  I felt like I was covering my entire face in concealer because my skin was so bad. Now, my skin is totally clear thanks to my Rodan + Fields Unblemish Regimen, so I don’t really need concealer that much anymore.  I do, however, still like to use it under my eyes.  It just seems to brighten them and make them pop a little more. It isn’t that I have really bad circles or anything to cover up; I just think that it enhances your eyes.  Anyway, I discovered a new concealer that I love a few months ago and wanted to share it with you because it is so easy to use and it provides great coverage.  I am now obsessed with e.l.f Cosmetics’ Lightweight Concealer Stick.  You can find it at Target (not online), Walmart, Ulta, Walgreens or any other store that carries e.l.f. Cosmetics.  The shade I use is Fair/Light, but it also comes in Light/Medium and Medium Dark.  I like for it to be almost a shade lighter than my foundation because I want it to serve as a highlighter for my eyes.    I typically apply my Rodan + Fields Radient Defense Perfecting Liquid first and let it dry while I apply my eye shadow and liner. Then I apply the concealer.  I do this by making an inverted triangle under my eyes. With this stick it is just like drawing on your face.  It’s so easy and mess free. Then I typically just use my ring finger to blend it in, but you can use a blending bud or brush if you prefer.  Once it is all blended in, I add a little powder to set it, and I am ready to go.  

Apply by drawing an inverted triangle under your eyes.
Blend using your finger, blending bud, or blending brush.

As you can see in the last picture, the skin under my eyes now looks brighter and it just helps to accentuate my eyes. I love it! They do have a highlighting stick that looks just the same, but it is more iridescent than I like for under my eyes. I actually like to use it on my upper cheekbone line for a little sparkle when I am going out but not for everyday use.

Anchored,

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

Friday Favorites: Top 5

Sometimes it is difficult for me to come up with just one of my favorite things to share with you. It is hard to narrow it down because I love so many things, so occasionally you get to see more than one of my favorites. Here are five things that I love right now.

1. Real Simple Magazine

Yes, I know that most people don’t read magazines anymore. If you do, you likely read it online and not in the print version.  However, I love a good magazine.  Reading it online just isn’t the same. I have shared before that one of my favorites is the HGTV Magazine, but my all time favorite is the Real Simple Magazine.  I have been reading it for many years.  I love the cool ideas they have for decorating, organizing, and so much more.  It really has a little bit of everything in it.  I just love when the new one comes in the mail.  

2. Bic Gel-ocity Pens

These Gel-ocity pens are a new discovery for me, and I am obsessed.  I love the range of colors and how they write.  I am a bit of a snob when it comes to pens, so you know they are good if I say that I love them.  They dry quickly and don’t smear which is a problem with some gel pens.  I absolutely love these.  

3. HallmarkLifetime Christmas Movies

You guys! Hallmark and Lifetime have been playing Christmas movies since the beginning of October and I am in love.  I used to only watch the ones on Hallmark, but Lifetime is really upping their game, and they have some really good ones too.  It doesn’t matter to me that every plot is nearly identical either.  I can sit and watch them one after another and never get tired.  My kids think it’s crazy that I have been watching them already, but I just can’t help it. They are so good! 

4. Binder Clips

Ok, I know that this one is a strange one, but hear me out.  I prefer binder clips to paper clips.  I know…I’m weird.  It goes to my love for organizing.  I don’t love paper clips for a couple of reasons.  One is that they can sometimes fall off easily causing your papers to get jumbled.  The other is that they can often cause holes in your papers.  I just think that binder clips are neater and cleaner looking. Plus you can get some really cute ones like these Emoji faces from Amazon.  They just make me smile.

5. Ritz Toasted Chips (Sour Cream & Onion)

If you have not tried these Ritz Chips, you need to! They are sooooo good! They have several flavors, but the Sour Cream & Onion ones are the best.  Of course you will need to brush your teeth after eating them, but it is totally worth it. I literally could sit and eat the whole bag.  They are that yummy! 

Anchored,

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

Book Club: This Tender Land

It is hard to believe that it is the last Friday of October and that November will be here next week. It is just crazy to me.  The last Friday of the month means that it is Book Club day, which is one of my favorite days each month.  I love that doing this book club each month forces me to read because it is something that brings me so much joy.  I have loved reading my whole life, but I had gotten away from reading regularly because I let life get in the way.  This book club forces me to make time to get wrapped up in a story, and I love it.  This month we read a book fresh off the printer entitled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.  It came out last month and was an instant best seller, and I could see why after only a few chapters in.  I really enjoyed the journey that this story took me on.  Not only did it instantly take me back in time when the world was much different, but it also kept me enthralled in the story page after page. I was totally wrapped up in each character’s storyline.  It was really a great read, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

This story begins in the summer of 1932 when 4 unlikely friends set off on an adventure after escaping from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The Lincoln School was a place where Native American children who were taken from their families were sent to be educated. Mrs. Brickman and her husband ran the school.  They both seemed to despise children and gained pleasure from their suffering.  The students called Mrs. Brickman the Black Witch.  She would lock them in a quiet room, farm them out for hard manual labor in the community, barely feed them, and turned a blind eye to beatings and other inappropriate actions towards the children by an employee of the school.  Needless to say, these children suffered greatly at her hands.  Mose was a descendent of the Sioux tribe and came to the school at a young age after he was found next to his dead parents in a ditch.  His own tongue had been cut out in the attack, so he communicated through sign language. Odie and Albert O’Banion were brothers who ended up at the school after their father was killed during a bootlegging run. They were not of Native American descent but were told that they were sent to the Lincoln School because the state orphanage was full. The last of the 4 was sweet Emmy Frost, the daughter of 2 teachers at the school.  Her father had been killed in a farming accident a few years earlier and her mom had a sweet spot for the 3 boys and wanted to take them in as her own. After Mrs. Frost was killed in a tornado, Emmy was left to live with the horrible Brickmans. Those events lead the 4 to band together and escape from the Lincoln School and begin a long journey down the river to St. Louis in search of family.  The events that followed would change their lives forever.  

This is a story of heartbreak and struggle.  These 4 children faced things in their short life that no children should ever have to face. Murder, imprisonment, abuse, snakebites, loss, and more plagued their journey. They also came across people who were a danger to them and people who showed them great love along the way. Their determination, resiliency, and love for each other helped them along their journey. While their journey to freedom only lasted a little over a month, it felt like it was years in the making.  Although they experienced and lost so much in those few short weeks, their bond only grew stronger as they became the family they all longed for. I really loved this story and highly recommend it.  It certainly did not disappoint.

My pick for November is a bit different than the last few I have chosen.  I am moving away from the historical fiction genre for this pick to give us a little variety.  I thought I would spice it up a little this time. This month I am choosing Redemption Road by John Hart.  This story is more of a mystery/thriller this time.  It is a New York Times Bestseller from the only author to ever win the Edgar Allan Poe Award back-to-back. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

Redemption Road took five years to write, and that investment shows. John Hart’s thriller is masterfully written and haunting.  At its center is suspended policewoman Elizabeth Black, who under investigation for the murder of two men who abducted and tortured a teenager Channing Shore. Liz is plagued by nightmares, not all of them related to Channing’s horrific ordeal. Hart has not only created a strong, vulnerable heroine to root for, he’s written a Southern gothic crime novel that’s flush with eeriness and themes of righteousness and redemption.” 

I hope you will come along and read with me.  

Anchored, 

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

Friday Favorites: Botvac

I absolutely hate to clean. I always have.  However, I like a clean house. I just don’t want to be the one doing the cleaning. This may confuse some of you since I am always talking about organization.  To me, the two are totally separate.  You can be all about organization and not into cleaning.  That is for sure me.  If I could afford to have someone come clean my house every week, I totally would.  Back when I was working full time a few years ago, I did have someone that came every other week to clean.  Walking into my house after work on the days she cleaned were the best.  Upon opening the door, you were immediately hit with that lemon fresh clean scent and everything was spotless. I swear it was worth every penny we spent on her! Maybe one day we will be able to do that again. It was so amazing!

One of the biggest things I hate to do (besides cleaning bathrooms) is vacuum.  I don’t know why, but I’m just not one that finds that joyful like some do.  I have friends that enjoy vacuuming and find it relaxing.  That is not me at all.  It takes a long time to vacuum my whole house, and I just don’t have that much time on a regular basis.  Enter my favorite cleaning thing…the botvac! A lot of people I know use iRobot, and I am sure it is great too.  I have a Neato Robotics Botvac, though, and love it. One of my friends was talking to me about hers a couple of years ago, and I was instantly hooked. I knew they existed, but it had never occurred to me before that we should get one.  I went home that day and told my husband that we needed one ASAP. Of course, he spent several days doing his research on all of them before he would agree.  Thankfully the reviews were excellent and he finally ordered one for us.  We were both kind of excited for it to arrive.  I was excited for the mere fact that it would cut down on me actually having to vacuum, but my husband was more excited about the technology and the smartness of it.  He is all about Smart devices.  When it arrived, he read all of the directions and set it up.  It even had us give it a name.  We named ours Lola, and she is the best thing!

I can turn her on from anywhere with the push of a button on my phone.  All we do it hit that button to tell her to clean and she immediately gets to work. She can go just about anywhere including under pieces of furniture that normally wouldn’t get vacuumed as often. She can easily transition between surfaces like the hardwood to the carpet.  She really works well and picks up more dirt than you ever thought was there. She has two settings. One is an Eco setting that is quieter and takes a little longer to run. The other is a Turbo setting that is “super powered cleaning with maximum pickup.” When generally use the Eco setting and it takes her about 2 hours to do the entire main level of the house.  If her battery gets low in the middle of her cleaning, she will take herself back to the docking station and charge herself.  Once her battery is completely charged, she goes straight back to where she left off and continues cleaning.  She will even send you a map of the area she has covered when she is done. She also sends alerts to my phone when she gets stuck or needs her bin emptied.  I can set her to go when I am away, and then will have clean floors when I return.  It comes in several versions that range in price, and I recommend that you do your research to see which would work best for you.  We have the Neato Robotics Botvac D7, and it really works well.  I highly recommend making the splurge because it is totally worth the money.  I believe that you can often find them discounted around the holidays and on Black Friday, but it is truly worth the cost. If you hate to vacuum like me or have a busy schedule and need something to make your life easier, this is the thing for you!

Anchored,

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

Friday Favorites: TOH Winter 2019

Trades of Hope came out with a Winter Look Book at the beginning of this month featuring 12 new pieces that are all about the holidays.  Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite pieces from the line. The pieces in this collection range from our very first beanie to some really amazing ornaments.  There is sure to be something that everyone loves.  I am obsessed with all of it, so it was hard to narrow it down to just 5 of my favorites. I really wanted to feature the whole line, but that would make this post go on and on forever.  What makes it even more incredible is that every single piece helps to empower women (and some men) around the world out of poverty and human trafficking.  

1. Stars of Haiti

My heart aches for the mamas in Haiti that have to leave their babies at orphanages because they cannot provide for them.  They actually love their children and want to keep them.  Trades of Hope’s partnership with artisan groups in Haiti allow them to do just that.  By providing these women with a sustainable business, they are able to not only keep and provide for their children but are also able to send them to school and get them medical care.  We are helping to break the cycle of poverty there.  I love the pieces that come from the artisans in Haiti because they have found a way to take the discarded and turn it into treasures.  These star ornaments are no different.  They are made from recycled cereal boxes.  These ornaments come in a set of 3.  You can adorn your tree with them or give them as gifts.  

2. Adventure Begins Journal

I am not typically someone who journals, but this journal may make me start.  It is made by our artisans in India, the home to ¼ of the world’s poorest families.  It is very difficult for women there to find jobs and are left living in the slums and unable to provide for their families.  Our artisans in India are given a sustainable job and are able to use their income to rise up out extreme poverty.  This journal is made from genuine leather and features 90 pages of lined, handmade paper.  I can tell you that the pictures do not do it justice.  It would make a great gift for anyone this holiday season. 

3. Farmhouse Star

I am completely obsessed with this star and am ready to ditch my usual angel on the top of my tree for this star this year.  It is made from whitewashed iron.  If you are into the farmhouse chic style, this is totally your jam. Our artisans in India also make this piece. Most of the poor in India lack education, which makes getting one of the scarce jobs even more difficult.  Through their partnership with TOH, these artisans are able to provide education for their children to break the cycle of poverty.  

4. Snow Top Beanie & Himalayan Mittens

These two pieces are sold separately, but I couldn’t choose just one.  I thought that they worked so well together so I might as well group them into one.  Haha! Both pieces are hand-knit by our artisans in Nepal.  First up is this adorable black and white beanie that is hand-knit with 100% wool.  It is lined with fleece inside and is sure to keep you warm this winter.  Next up are thes fun colored wool mittens that come in two sizes (S/M and L/XL). They are also lined with fleece and are super warm. Women in Nepal are often socially marginalized and discriminated against. By purchasing this beanie or mittens, you are helping them provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for their families.  These two pieces would make great stocking stuffers for anyone on your list. 

5. Sincerity Blanket

It is no secret that I was in love when our first throw was released in the spring and this one is just as amazing as it.  This new blanket features a black and off-white diamond pattern.  It is made from blended cotton and is handspun by our artisans in India.  It even gets softer with each wash.  It truly is gorgeous.  Sales of this blanket help to provide education for families and empowers these women to become the heroes of their own stories.  

How amazing are all of these? The stories behind them just make them that much more special.  We have several other ornament sets that are just as amazing as the Stars of Haiti including a set of puppies, mittens, and some gorgeous ones made from Capiz shells in the Philippines.  We even have a cool nativity made in Peru.  You can view them all here. Why not give the gift that keeps on giving this season?

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Plum Paper Planner

Kind of piggy backing off of yesterday’s post, I wanted to share with you how I keep up with all of the things that go on in my life.  I have posted about my planner before, but I wanted to share it with you again because it is such a lifesaver for me. Plus, I just got my new one last month, and I wanted to show it off! LOL! I am definitely a pen and paper kind of girl when it comes to my calendar.   Yes, I do use the calendar on my phone for the sole purpose of keeping my husband in the loop of what is going on, but for day-to-day use, my planner contains my life. I would even go as far as saying that my planner is kind of like a journal for me as well as an organizer. I write EVERYTHING in it.  If I have an idea about something I want to blog about or do with my business or just any idea in general, I will write it in there.  Each month, I write down my goals for personal growth as well as for my business. All of my to do lists and notes are all in there, too.  If someone leaves me a message or I talk to someone on the phone about something important, I jot my notes in the planner.  It is honestly so much more than just a calendar for me.   It literally is my life on paper.

I have tried many different planners over the years and have found THE ONE.  It will be my go to from now until I die.  I really love Plum Paper Planners.  I love how I can customize them to my exact needs and specifications.  Plus, they are sturdy and hold up really well.  Now, because I write everything in it, I always order a full sized  (8.5” x 11”) one.  This only becomes problematic when I need to carry it around.  It doesn’t just fit in my purse, but I am willing to live with that sacrifice because of everything else it has to offer me.  Ninety percent of the time, it sits open on my desk and isn’t a problem anyway.  They do come in smaller sizes if that is more your jam.  They also have 5.8” x 8.3” and 7” x 9.” 

First, you begin by choosing the size you want.  Then you move on to choosing your cover. To me, choosing the cover is always the hardest part because there are so many cute ones.  All covers are sturdy and waterproof, and each planner comes with a clear plastic overlay.  Once you choose your cover, you can personalize it. You can put a saying on it or your initials or both.  As you can see, I chose to put the year at the top, my initials in the center, and my blog name at the bottom.  Once you have your cover the way you want it, you move on the choosing the customizable layout you want. Plum Paper offers several layouts that you can choose from.  They have student layouts, teacher layouts, vertical layouts, horizontal layouts, grid layouts, daily layouts, and monthly layouts. I like the Vertical ME Planner, which includes the following:

  • 7 Customizable Sections (I customize mine with each family members name, my blog, and Trades of Hope.  Then I left one blank this year so that I could add extras.)
  • Choice of what month to start (I love that you can start at anytime during the year. You don’t have to have one that just runs from January to December.  Mine currently goes from September to August)
  • Choice of 12-18 months
  • Month and Weekly Spreads
  • Monthly Highlight Pages
  • Monthly Notes Pages
  • Double Sided Pocket Folder
  • Durable Aluminum Binding
  • Durable Mylar Coated Tabs
  • Tear Pexroof & Water Resistant Cover with a Plastic Protective Sheet

Once you have chosen and customized your layout just the way you want it, you can then choose to add on pages.  I really love the options they have for add-ons. This year, I chose to add the Direct Sales Add-on to help keep my business organized.  I considered the Blog Add-On, but decided against it for now. I may add it next year, though. Other add-ons (including stickers) you can choose from include:

Home

  • Meals
  • Family
  • Budget

Business

  • Direct Sales
  • Blog
  • Social Media
  • Photography
  • Business Tools

Lifestyle

  • Fitness
  • Self-Care
  • Travel

Teacher

  • Grade Level
  • Tools

Student

  • Assignment Tracker

Notes & Lists

Stickers

Page Protectors

Once you have selected your cover, layout, and the add-ons that you want, you are ready to approve and order your creation.  Orders typically ship in 5-7 days.  It arrives all nicely packaged and ready to use.  I am such a nerd that it is like opening a present on Christmas morning for me. I really am obsessed with it.  I honestly would be lost without it. It truly does keep me organized and on track.

Anchored,

Book Club: The Orphan’s Tale

It is Book Club Friday today, and I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.  I really liked this book a lot.  It certainly held my attention, and I was very attached to the characters.  I actually finished it early in the month, which is unusual with my crazy schedule, but I couldn’t stop reading at night and stayed up way later than normal to keep reading.  It was a great historical fiction tale, which is probably my favorite genre.  The story takes place during World War II and revolved around 2 women who became an unlikely pair.  One was a young teen, Noa, who had become pregnant by a Nazi soldier and then was cast out by her parents as a result.  She was sent to a center where she delivered her a baby boy and was forced to give him up against her will.  She was living and working at a train station when she came across a train car full of Jewish infants, some of which had already frozen to death.  Reminding her of the baby she lost, she snatched one little boy and fled on foot in the snow to escape being discovered by Nazi soldiers. The second woman, Astrid, was the daughter of a Jewish family that ran a circus in Germany and around Europe for many years. She had left home and the circus life to marry a German Soldier.  When the war got worse, her husband was forced to cast her out for fear of his own life.  Her family was nowhere to be found and thought to have been killed, so she found refuge with a nearby German circus that used to be her family’s rival.  The head of that circus knew her and her family and gladly brought her in to give her safety as the circus’s lead aerialist.  It was understood that all circus performers were like family no matter what circus you came from. When Noa was discovered passed out in the snow with the baby near the circus by one of its top performers one night, they took her and the baby in.  While Astrid was forced to teach Noa how to be an aerialist in order to also provide them with refuge, their relationship, strained at first, eventually became one of survival and sacrifice.

As I said, I was very wrapped up in the characters and loved seeing how the two women’s relationship went from rivals to a tender, caring and protective relationship.  Their struggles for survival and strong urge to protect the baby and each other at all cost brought the two of them together in a way that neither of them ever dreamed was possible.  The horrors that the Jewish people faced as a result of the war was depicted in a way that made you feel deep emotions for the characters and what they faced during that time.  It truly gives you a glimpse of what life was like during that time period and what a family the circus performers are to each other.  The descriptive language allowed me to visualize what it was like under the big top of that circus as they all feared for their lives and tried to maintain their composure during each performance.  If you like historical fiction, you will really enjoy this book. It is filled with extreme sadness, heartbreak, and loss; but it is also filled with love and triumph.  I highly recommend The Orphan’s Tale as one you should read.

My pick for October is a new release by the best selling author, William Kent Krueger, entitled This Tender Land.  This book became an instant New York Times Best Seller just after its release earlier this month.  It is another historical fiction novel that will take us on the journey of 4 Native American children in Minnesota in summer of 1932 during the Great Depression. These 4 children became orphans when they were forcibly removed from their parents and were sent to be educated.  It is said that fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and Before We Were Yours will love this book. I really enjoyed both of those novels, so I am hoping this one will not disappoint. Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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