Friday Favorites: The Home Edit

Image pulled from @thehomeedit on Instagram

I don’t know if I am late to the party or if I am right on time, but I just recently discovered The Home Edit on Instagram and their show on Netflix, Get Organized with The Home Edit.  I am in love, and following them on social media and watching their show are both a MUST! The Home Edit basically consists of two women, Clea and Joanna, and their love for all things organization and the rainbow.  They go into people’s homes and turn chaos into beauty, and I am totally obsessed. I love everything about their systems and how their brains work. Sometimes I feel like they are inside my head, and I really want to be their best friend.  They follow 4 simple steps to help people get their life together.  They start with the EDIT.  This is where they go through everything in the space and purge. The next step is to then CATEGORIZE.  They sort items into specific categories that they can then use to create zones in the space.  Next is the CONTAIN step.  This is my absolute favorite part.  They use clear bins of various sizes to store everything and make it look all nice and neat. I love that everything is sorted and contained in such a neat way.  The final step is to MAINTAIN.  This is where they make sure that it is easy to maintain the organizational system put into place.  They are specifically known for color coding things in rainbow order to make it easier to locate things and, in turn, put them back in the right spot.  This method is simple enough that even kids can follow it. They also use labels on everything so that it is clear that everything has its own designated space.  AHHHH! You know I love my labels and bins! Having systems like they design truly makes my heart sing!  

I am completely serious when I say that Clea and Joanna are my soul sisters.  I think I could totally be a third partner in their ever-growing business of home organization.  Seriously, sign me up right now! Their attention to detail and their color coding is totally up my ally.  I have actually been color coding my own closet for years.  I am so obsessed with them right now.  If you don’t know about them or haven’t watched their series on Netflix, you need to do it this weekend! I promise you that it will motivate you to get off the couch and organize either your closet, your pantry, or your fridge.  You will also have this burning desire to go to The Container Store, which is the holy grail of organization and my dream store, to purchase clear bins and turntables.  My pantry is already organized into zones and bins, but after watching The Home Edit I want to redo it all using clear bins.  I seriously need it all in my life right now!  They even have a book and workbook that will make all of your organizational dreams come true, The Home Edit Life and The Home Edit Workbook.  Not only are Clea and Joanna fun to watch and follow on social media, but they even have some big-name clients on the show that I’m pretty sure are as obsessed with them as I am.  What I love about them most, though, is how down to earth they are, and they are totally real on social media. They make you feel like you can conquer the chaos in your life easily. It just takes a little time and effort.

Images pulled from @thehomeedit on Instagram

I think I have mentioned before that two of my best friends and I attempted to start our own organizing business a few years ago as we all three have a passion for organization.  Clea and Joanna are everything that we wanted to be, but we just didn’t make it work.  I had to move not long after we launched the business which made it very difficult for me to be a part of it.  Over time we just couldn’t manage it all with our kids and full-time jobs. We ended up having to dissolve the business. However, I totally think we could have done amazing things together.  It was just at the wrong time in our lives for it to work.  Maybe one day we can start it up again and be the next Marie Kondo or Clea and Joanna! I can dream, right? 

Anchored and Organized,

It’s Christmas Movie Time!

I am fully aware that it is only the middle of October, but I cannot contain my excitement because it is Christmas movie time!!!! That’s right! This month marks the start of Hallmark Christmas movies, which are my all-time favorites! Yes, I know that they basically all have the same plot, and I can pretty much predict how they all will end.   I have even seen most of them several times already.  I don’t care! I love them so much. They get me every single time.  I spend my weekends binge watching with tears in my eyes.  I don’t know why I get teary when I know how it is going to go, but I do every single time.   I cannot wait to watch all of my old favorites and the brand new ones released this year.  I fill my DVR with all the new ones, so I don’t miss a single one.  I even re-watch them all when they come back on in the summer for Christmas in July.  They are just that good. 

My husband can’t stand them and rolls his eyes every time he walks in the room and sees me watching another one.   My children think I am crazy, but I know that one day they too will love them as much as I do.  They do occasionally watch one or two with me, and I can tell that they love it and don’t want to admit it.  Seriously, almost every female that I know loves Hallmark Christmas movies. My mom, sister, and I have to watch at least one together when we are all home for Christmas.  It is tradition.  People even make shirts about it, so I know I am not alone in my obsession with them.  

I so have to admit that the Lifetime channel has upped their game, and they are putting out some great Christmas movies too.  Some are even right up there with Hallmark’s.  I added the Lifetime ones to my repertoire last year, and they are sure to be on my DVR this year as well.  I do know that their movies start this month as well, but I couldn’t find a complete schedule all nicely compiled into one graphic like Hallmark has, but you can find the full schedule here. Their Christmas movies start on October 23.

I know that Hallmark Christmas movies are corny, predictable, and a little sappy, but I love them anyway.  There is nothing like a good Hallmark movie to really get the spirit of Christmas flowing through your body. It makes me want to decorate the house already.  I am so ready! This year they have 23 brand new movies for your entertainment pleasure. Check out the schedule below for all of the new releases and get your DVRs ready! It all starts next week.

Anchored in the Spirit of Christmas,

Friday Favorites: TOH Fall 2020 Collection

I am a partner with Trades of Hope which is a beautiful company that uses fashion as a force for good to empower women around the world out of extreme poverty and human trafficking.  We partner with artisans in 19 different countries including right here in the US through job creation.  We believe that business, not charity, is the long-term solution to solving the global poverty crisis.  Our artisans are given a job creating gorgeous, handcrafted, artisanal jewelry, handbags, home décor, and more.  They are paid a fair and living wage through fair trade, which allows them to provide for their family’s basic needs, get access to health care, job training, and therapeutic services. The work that we do is really making a difference in the lives of women all over the world. It is giving women the opportunity to truly change their lives. I am very passionate about my work with TOH and like to share some of my favorites each season because I love the beautiful work our artisans do so much.  Our fall collection, entitled Renaissance of Thought, was released last month, and I am so in love with the jewel-toned colors and the uniqueness of each piece.  Check out some of my favorites from this collection.

Bijou Bracelet

The Bijou Bracelet is made by women in Haiti who are now able to keep their babies instead of turning them over to orphanages because they can’t provide for them.  This bracelet is made up of hand-rolled and painted Haitian clay beads, natural sodalite stone beads, steel beads, and hand-rolled cereal box beads. That’s right, our artisans take discarded cereal boxes and turn them into something unique and beautiful.

Makensia is one of the artisans that creates the Bijou Bracelet.  Here is her story of hope.

Surrounded by the tropical beauty of Haiti, Makensia is also surrounded by extreme poverty. But neither poverty, nor the death of a child, nor domestic abuse have defined her. She has persevered through many challenging seasons and continues to pursue good things for her family.

 

While many mothers in her village have been forced to make the heartbreaking decision to give up their children to poverty orphanages to save them from starvation, this mother of five has been able to earn enough income to keep her family together by hand rolling beads and making jewelry from discarded cereal boxes. Your purchase helps Makensia continue to keep her family together. 

Trades of Hope

Zanmi Earrings

These beautiful Zanmi Earrings are also created by women in Haiti who are working to be able to keep and feed their babies. They are made from lightweight, upcycled aluminum with hand-tied navy tassels. I love how they recycle items that we often discard.

Ismaella is one of the artisans that creates the Zanmi Earrings.  Here is her story of hope in her own words. 

“In Haiti, life is difficult. In an unorganized society, men often don’t respect women, and fathers often do not take responsibility for their children. Women have to become strong to survive and to support their children. 

 

We are a small community of strong women. We share good and bad times, and because we spend so much time together, we have become a second family. The opportunity to earn money allows us to become better than we could have imagined. We can go farther, and we can understand that we have potential for great things. We can take care of ourselves and our families.” 

Trades of Hope

Amara Necklace

This gorgeous necklace is created by women and men in India who are now able to provide for their families. Yes, we do sometimes have men that work alongside our women artisans!  The Amara Necklace features a paper clip linked adjustable chain, a handcrafted gold-toned filigree charm, and a genuine labradorite gemstone charm.  

Dulal is one of the men who helps to create the Amara Necklace.  Here is his story of hope in his own words. 

“When I was 19 years old, I wasn’t interested in further studies. My life was just sad. I was not aware of my abilities and was just in search of some work. I was depressed due to economic conditions. Then my friend introduced me to this work. My previous boss used to treat me very badly. Now, I enjoy my work! It’s helping my family and me. I’m capable enough to fulfill my needs, and I’m making all types of handmade jewelry. So overall, it’s a big achievement for me! I’m happy to be an Artisan. I have hope for a good life in the future!”

Trades of Hope

Aura Earrings

The Aura Earrings are created by women in the Phillipines who are rising up out of extreme poverty.  These elegant earrings are very lightweight and are created using natural capiz shells that are hand-cut by these women to create these geometric shapes. 

Emelyn is one the artisans that creates these earrings. Here her story of hope.

After financial struggles forced Emelyn and her siblings to drop out of school during her first year of college, Emelyn went to work at a fast-food restaurant. At the restaurant, she met the granddaughter of a local businesswoman who taught women how to make jewelry and art from capiz shells. Amazed by the Artisans’ creativity, Emelyn eagerly learned each step of the production process. Now, this twenty-four-year-old is able to support her parents, send her younger brother back to school, and buy land to build her family a home. She even co-manages the workshop’s entire capiz production process, along with the owner’s granddaughter! 

Trades of Hope

Rita Scarf

This intricate scarf is handcrafted by artisans in India using ancient Bagru block printing techniques and natural indigo dyes. It features a multi-color border with shades of crimson red, emerald green and gold. It is very generous in size and can be used in the traditional way around your neck, as a headwrap, as a vest, or even wrapped around your waist! The possibilities are endless. 

The Rita Scarf is created by women like Babli.  Here is her story of hope. 

Babli creates traditional Bagru block-printed scarves in a quaint family workshop in India. Her family takes great pride in being one of only a few workshops in their village who are able to create these unique designs without the use of machines.

 

Babli’s husband learned these skills after his income as a manual laborer wasn’t enough to provide for their essential needs. As their family grew, Babli wanted their children to be able to enjoy a good education. So Babli and her mother studied and practiced until they became master craftswomen.  

 

Babli’s work empowers her to send her children to school and save toward her family’s dream of owning their own home. 

Trades of Hope

Everyday Crossbody

The Everyday Crossbody is handcrafted in India by women who have gained freedom from sweatshops.  It is beautifully handcrafted from ethically sourced leather and features an expertly hidden exterior slip pocket, an adjustable strap, and an adorable cotton-lined interior with an additional zippered storage pocket.  

Women like Rafiqan work to create this beauty. Here is her story of hope.

Rafiqan lives near Jaipur, a city renowned for its legendary artisanal workshops. Extreme poverty in many of the surrounding villages often results in the exploitation of vulnerable Artisans – especially women – in sweatshops with unsafe workspaces, unreasonable hours, and unfair wages. Committed to empowering Artisans, this workshop trained Rafiqan in the art of leather crafting. She began as a materials cutter and can now make an entire bag – from start to finish – by herself! Now Rafiqan is able to earn a living wage in a safe clean workspace. Your purchase helps Rafiqan earn enough income to provide for her family’s needs and send her children to school. 

Trades of Hope

Aren’t these all so amazing? Not only are they beautifully crafted, but the stories behind them are truly inspirational.  To shop for these gems or any of our other pieces or to learn more about our mission at Trades of Hope, you can visit my website here.  Every purchase is empowering women (and men) around the world to become the heroes of their own stories.  

Anchored in HOPE,

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

Friday Favorites: CAUSEBOX Fall 2020

My Fall CAUSEBOX arrived yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to tear into it.  While I mentioned my disappointment for the delayed shipping of my summer box back in August (COVID strikes again), I am happy to report that my fall box came right on time! If you are new here and don’t know about CAUSEBOX, it is an ethical, quarterly subscription box that includes beautifully curated pieces from brands that are socially conscious, cruelty free, and/or are sustainably made. I love that it is full of products that support a cause and artisans around the world.  It is all about lifting women up and supporting women owned businesses.  This is my fourth box since becoming an annual subscriber, and I have loved every single box I have gotten. My fall box is no different. I love everything in it.  My only complaint this time is that my box was missing one of my choice items.  I quickly sent an email and have been assured that the missing item will be on its way soon. This box came with 6 items total.  I was able to choose 4 of my items and then there were 2 items that came in every box.  Check out what I received.

Bathen Waffle Bathrobe (Choice of Mint or Charcoal)-a fair trade, handwoven robe crafted by women in Panipat, India

Artisan Direct Milky Way Lantern-beautiful golden lantern created by artisans in India

The Green Co. Set of 10 Reusable Facial Rounds-a sustainable alternative to cotton balls or cotton facial rounds that come with a laundry bag for washing, use these two sided rounds to take off your makeup or apply products

Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel (my missing item)-a rub that cools, warms, and comforts tired muscles, ethically sourced ingredients include black pepper, ginger, and aromatic rosemary

Core Bamboo Serve Set-organically grown and FSC certified bamboo serving board, tongs, and spatula

Way of Will Brightening Face Serum-a serum made with vitamins A and C that fights free radicals and hydrates your skin for a dewy glow

Get a PMD Microderm Classic for FREE for a limited time using this link.

I think I am most excited for the facial rounds.  I had actually been looking into something like them for a more sustainable and economical option for my skincare routine, so these arrived at the perfect time.  I am also a bit obsessed with the soft comfy feel of the robe.  I am a total robe girl and am pretty picky when it comes to mine.  This one is a great addition to my collection. I seriously love it all! Since I have now received a full year of boxes, I can honestly say that I highly recommend this box if you have been thinking about trying a subscription box. It think the products are a great quality and I love what this company represents.  For a LIMITED time, sign up using this link and receive a FREE PMD Microderm Classic like the one above valued at $159 in addition to your first box of goodies! 

Anchored,

Book Club: The New Wilderness

I am a little disappointed in myself this month.  I had been doing really well reading multiple books a month for the last few months, and then I blew it for September.  I only managed to read our one book club book this month.  I honestly don’t know what happened.  I just stopped reading once I finished that book and didn’t even attempt to start another one.  Anyway, I have to get back on track for October for sure! Reading is my escape, and I need it for my sanity. 

Let’s dive into my September pick, The New Wilderness by Diane Cook.  I was actually excited about this book when I chose it.  It gave me that Hunger Games/Divergent Series type vibe when I read the description and reviews.  I thought the concept of the story had a really good chance of being right up there with those two popular series.  However, I was left very underwhelmed.    I think there was so much potential to be a great storyline, but it certainly didn’t live up to that potential.  I was left wanting so much more.  I don’t feel like the characters were developed well, and I thought a lot was left out.  It left me filling like I had to fill in the blanks with my own imagination for much of the story.  It also skipped around a lot which meant that some parts weren’t every fully developed in my mind.  There were parts that I liked, but overall, I thought it was a big letdown.  I always hate when I have to say that I didn’t love a book, but I have to be honest with you all.  This one wasn’t all that I wanted it to be or anywhere near to what it could be. I just feel like there was so much wasted potential.

This story takes place sometime in the future after years of pollution, development, and over-population had not only destroyed the planet but also made children and other individuals very sick.  There was only one area of the world that was untouched by humans. It was called the Wilderness State and was to become the sight of a lengthy experiment.  Twenty individuals were chosen to be the subjects of the experiment.  They were to be ripped from their lives in the dying city to be dropped in the middle of the Wilderness State to become the “Community.”  They were to live off the land without leaving any kind of footprint behind.  The environment was always to appear undisturbed. They had to hunt for food, use animal skins to make their clothes, and were unable to build any type of shelter or permanent structures.  They were not allowed to remain in one location for more than 7 days and were forced to check in with Rangers periodically for assessment.  Those check-ins were the only time they had any communication with the outside world as they were allowed to send and receive letters to love ones they had left behind. However, there was sometimes months or years in-between those letters and packages. It truly was a daily battle for survival for them out in the harsh wilderness. Three of those individuals that were part of the experiment were a family consisting of Glen, the soft-spoken brains behind the initial experiment, his sometimes aggressive wife Bea, and Bea’s daughter, Agnes, who was one of the children who had become very ill.  They, along with 17 other individuals embarked on the journey of living in the wild.  While Agnes’s life was saved when she was finally able to breath clean air, many others lost their lives while battling the elements.  Those people were eventually replaced by “Newcomers” from the city.   It was a story of mother/daughter relationships, survival, and extreme isolation that never quite reached its peak for me.  While it did hold my interest to some extent as I hoped it would improve, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of being let down by all that this book wasn’t. I almost wanted to rewrite it in my head as I was reading. I sadly would give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. 

Now, on to my pick for October.  I am going to switch it up a bit this month. While I know that summer is officially over and I may be a little late to the game, I decided to go with Jennifer Weiner’s newest New York Times Bestseller, Big Summer.  I can honestly say that I have never read a book by Jennifer Weiner despite knowing her popularity and large following.   Her genre of the more “chick lit” is not typically my first choice, but I thought I would give this one a chance as it has great reviews like so many of her other novels.  I like to read things that are outside of my usual bubble every now and then just for variety.  I am hoping this will be a welcomed change that will get me back on track for reading more books. Check out what Publisher’s Weekly has to say about this novel.

“Weiner’s story of a female friendship (after Mrs. Everything) mixes a splash of romance, a dash of humor, and a pinch of mystery to create a deliciously bloody poolside cocktail. Daphne Berg, a young woman struggling with her weight and self-esteem, has become “#fiercefatgirl,” a powerful plus-size media influencer with thousands of followers. Her world is turned upside down when an old high school frenemy comes looking for a favor. Drue Cavanaugh, a high-society darling, was everything Daphne wasn’t in high school: rich, gorgeous, and a mean girl to rival all mean girls. Back then, Daphne did anything she could to simply exist on the fringes of Drue’s world. Now, Drue is planning her splashy Cape Cod wedding to a reality TV star, and she wants Daphne to be her maid of honor amid her family’s infighting and doubts about the groom. Trouble has been brewing under the surface, and Daphne finds herself at Drue’s beck and call at a grotesquely ill-fated celebration that reveals the dark side of Dru’s seemingly perfect life. Weiner’s surprising tale is hard to put down.”

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.

FRiday Favorites: Project Repat

It has been 20 years since I graduated from college.  Yes, I am old! I went to a small women’s college nestled near the North Georgia mountains that I loved so very much.  It was the perfect school for me.  It was just far enough away from home that I got away from my little hometown, but it wasn’t too far away that I couldn’t easily go home to visit on the weekends.  It was also the perfect size school for this shy, innocent teen at the time.  I loved every minute of my 4 years there.  Even though I hadn’t planned to, I joined a sorority and met the most incredible women who I have bene lucky enough to call friends. While I was there, I collected a plethora of t-shirts as I think most college students do, and I have hung onto (or at least my mom hung onto) them for the last 20 years with the intent of one day creating a quilt out of them to capture all my memories.  At one point my mom was going to try to do it, but she really didn’t have the time or know how.  Then she was going to have a friend to do it, but life always got in the way and it just never happened.  Of course, it got brought up every now and then over the years that we really needed to do something with the shirts or get rid of them.  Well, it may have taken 20 years, but I finally was able to get it done! My mom ended up getting my sister and me gift cards to Project Repat for Christmas to cover the cost of a full-sized quilt.  It then took another 6 months before I got my act together and mailed in all my shirts, but I finally did it, and I couldn’t be happier that it is finally done.  

The gift card was for a full-sized quilt which allowed for 30 shirts in 12X12 squares.  My first chore was to go through all of my shirts and select the 30 I wanted to use.  That was not as easy of a task as you might think.  There were some of my sorority letters that I decided to keep in the hopes that maybe one of my girls will pledge the same sorority one day.  Wishful thinking, I know!  Anyway, once I had selected my 30 shirts and chose the color backing that I wanted them to add to the quilt (I chose grey), the instructions were to cut the shirts so that just the side you wanted shown on the quilt was mailed in.  They had a video to watch that showed you how to cut them, and it was super easy to follow.  My fingers did get a little sore after cutting up 30 shirts, and it was a little heartbreaking to cut them into pieces.  I had to keep telling myself that it would be worth it in the end.  Next, I packaged them up and mailed them in, which was a little nerve wracking.  I was terrified that they would get lost in the mail.  In fact, they did end up taking a few detours along the way, and I thought they might be lost forever.  Thankfully, they eventually showed up in the right location.   I did end up paying an extra $20 over my gift card in order to make the square size a little larger (14×14) to allow me to use some shirts that had a larger design. I didn’t want anything to get cut off.   There was one shirt that got a little off center and got cut off a bit, but I will forgive them for that because the rest of it is so amazing! It took around 3 weeks to get the quilt back once it arrived at their facility.  I cannot tell you how much I love the end product.  It is exactly what I wanted and is now one of my all-time favorite things. 

I highly recommend Project Repat if you have a collection of shirts you want to keep. It is certainly a cool way to hold on to those memories.  I don’t think they are very expensive, and they offer sales and discounts throughout the year so it is a very affordable option if you are unable to sew it yourself.   I have actually been saving all of my daughters’ gymnastics and cheer shirts for all these years to do the same for them when they graduate from high school.  I thought it would be a neat thing they could take to college with them.  Anyway, I am totally in love with my quilt and I know that I am going to be curling up with it for years to come. 

Anchored,

Book Club: My Dark Vanessa

I was a totally book nerd this month and read 4 books! That’s a lot for one month for me.  I usually do good to get through one and maybe halfway through a second with my crazy schedule, so I am pretty proud of myself. It really boiled down to interest.  As you all know, I really love historical fiction, and I got stuck on a historical fiction series that I was really enjoying.  I wanted to finish all three books in the series before I started my book club pick for this month.  It was a series by Pam Jenoff, who also wrote The Orphan’s Tale, which was my book club pick last September.  I really enjoyed that book, so when I saw she had a series; I knew I had to read it.  It was initially a 2-book series, but then she released a prequel book to the series making it 3 books total.  I was uncertain whether or not to start with the prequel or start with book 1 as she wrote them.  I decided to go with the order in which she wrote them and read the prequel last, which I think was the right decision for me.  The books are entitled The Kommandant’s Girl (Book 1), The Diplomat’s Wife (Book 2), and The Ambassador’s Daughter (Book 0.5). If you are a fan of historical fiction, particularly books that take place during World War I and II, this is a great series.  I love that each book could also be a stand-alone title too.  While some characters overlap, each book has different main characters.  Anyway, I highly recommend this series as I really enjoyed all three books.

Now onto my actual pick for August, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.  This was Russell’s debut novel, and it became an instant New York Times Best Seller.  I knew from the beginning that this pick might be a little controversial or at least make some people uncomfortable.  It is a sensitive topic.  Although not based on a true story, this novel seems like it has been ripped right from the news headlines of the past few years as part of the “Me Too” Movement.   I will admit that it was a little more graphic than I was comfortable with at times and hard to read at some points. I understand the need for it, though, to get the full scope of what was going on and a better understanding of the psychological aspect of it. The book should definitely come with a warning as the topic could trigger some very negative feelings for anyone that may have experienced something similar.  Having daughters near the ages of the main character at the time her abuse began really sent my mind into some dark places as fears about them began to creep in.  Just be aware of the sensitive and graphic nature of this book before you jump into it. 

This story rotates back and forth between the past and the present as a way to show how the events of the main character’s childhood trauma occurred and the impact that trauma left on her for years and years to come. As a self-conscious, naïve, 15-year-old student away at a boarding school, Vanessa had become a loaner after a fallout with her best friend and former roommate the previous year. This left her vulnerable to the eyes of her 42-year-old English teacher, Jacob Strane.  He prayed on her vulnerability, her curiosity, and her need to feel desired and wanted by another human being.  This was a classic case of grooming as he used her vulnerabilities and insecurities to make her feel like what they were doing was totally normal.  He played on her interests in poetry and literature by initially complimenting her on her writing and giving her provocative books to read that glorified adult/child intimate relationships.  He made her desire him in ways that never should occur at that age. He singled her out and made her feel special and desired.  Vanessa as an adult said, “to be groomed is to be loved and handled like a precious, delicate thing,” and that is exactly how he treated her.  He manipulated her into thinking it was all her fault that he was the way he was with her.  SHE was the one that chased after him.  SHE was the one that was willing.  SHE made it hard for him to resist. He told her, “I never would have done it if you weren’t so willing.” He also made it very clear to her what the consequences would be if she ever told anyone what they did together. He told her he would be ruined.  He said he would be fired, and she would get kicked out of school.  He told her he would end up in jail and she would end up in foster care.  He even told her she would never graduate or go to college.  Her response was always, “I’d die before I tell,” and she really meant it. The way he manipulated her psychologically was beyond comprehension for me.  It sickens me to think that things like this happen all the time in real life and that these men can get away with what they are doing to these children.  The ways in which he continued to manipulate her far into her adulthood was just incredible, and the hold he had on her was unreal.  It left her totally broken and damaged.  She was so messed up that she moved from job to job as an adult doing menial administrative work that had nothing to do with her degree or interests.  She coped by abusing drugs and alcohol and lived a life of misery with a skewed view of what a relationship should look like. It truly was a sad situation.

I do think this was a very well written story that really showed how easily children can be manipulated and taken advantage of.  The psychological aspect of it was truly fascinating to me and so well done by Russell.  I could really visualize how everything that Strane did and said to Vanessa affected her every thought and action.  He knew exactly what he was doing and every single thing he did was calculated.  It is an extremely hard topic and, as I said, could be very difficult for some people to read. It is hard for me to say that I would recommend this story to anyone because I do think there are people that likely shouldn’t read it.  I guess I would say that I recommend it with conditions.  You have to be well aware of what the story is about going into and be prepared for the graphic nature of some of it.  It is a very dark story.  I am glad that I read it, and I think that it gave me a lot to think about, especially when it comes to talking with my own daughters about sensitive things like this topic.  If you feel like you can handle this topic, I think it is a very well written story that truly captures what it is like for so many children who are taken advantage of and abused both physically and mentally. Just know that I warned you before you jump into it.

My next pick is, hopefully, a much lighter read.  For September, my choice is The New Wilderness by Diane Cook.  It is a story about a young girl who is slowly dying from the pollution of an over-populated city life.  Her mother is willing to do whatever it takes to save her and agrees to move to the Wilderness State, the only untouched, protected land where no one was allowed to inhabit until now. It is to be a sort of an experiment to see if they can survive in nature without destroying it.  Here is what Publishers Weekly had to say about this novel.

“In this wry, speculative debut novel (after the collection Man v. Nature), Cook envisions a crowded and polluted near future in which only one natural area remains, the Wilderness State. Twenty people volunteer for a government experiment in how humans fare in the wilderness. It’s been so long since anyone tried that no one remembers. Among the volunteers are Glen, ‘an important person’ at the university; his wife Bea; and Bea’s daughter, Agnes, and they, along with the others, collectively called “The Community,” learn to eke out a precarious existence hunting with bows and arrows, tanning animal hides, and negotiating dangerous terrain. As the years pass unmarked other than with Bea noticing a fourth annual appearance of violet blossoms, the volunteers gradually abandon their communities to the study, though they remain expected to obey rules enforced by Rangers, never stay in one place longer than seven days, never leave a trace as members die off. More waitlisted refugees, called Newcomers, arrive from the city, and Bea perseveres, driven by hope for Agnes’s future. Cook powerfully describes the Community members’ transformation from city folk to primal beings, as they become fierce, cunning, and relentless in their struggle for survival and freedom, such as when Bea faces off with a mother coyote. Cook’s unsettling, darkly humorous take explores maternal love and man’s disdain for nature with impressive results.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored,

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

Friday Favorites: Causebox Summer 2020

I finally received my Summer CAUSEBOX yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to open it.  I was a bit disappointed that it took so long to get here.  I feel like summer is coming to an end and would have liked to have had it at the beginning of the summer season.  I understand that there have been delays due to the coronavirus, so I will forgive the lateness of my box.  The waiting is just so hard because I get so excited to see everything.  I will admit that when they started releasing the spoilers back in the spring for what was going to be in this box, I was a little underwhelmed with some of the choices compared to my previous boxes. However, there ended up being 2 items revealed that I was super excited about receiving. One is the PMD Clean, and I can’t wait to try it out tonight as I have heard great reviews.  The other item I was most excited for in this box is the set of nesting bowls because they are so pretty. The pictures do not do them justice.  Now that I have gotten the box, I am really happy with almost all of the products included.  There is really only one thing that I will likely never use, but I will gift it to someone else who would enjoy it.  It is the Reed Diffuser.  I have just never really been into those and I worry that the scent will be too strong for me.  As I have mentioned before, strong smells really can trigger my migraines.  Anyway, check out all of the great things I received in this box.

PMD Beauty PMD Clean (choice of Blush, Navy, or Teal)-a smart facial cleansing device that helps firm skin while you clean

Doctor Rogers RESTORE Healing Balm-a cream consisting of only 3 ingredients that is said to be great for healing chapped lips, fresh tattoos, scrapes, and more

Feya Candle Co. Reed Diffuser (choice of Bergamost & Grapefruit or White Tea & Ginger)-bringing scents of summer to your home, meals given to those in need with each purchase

Grace & Stella Hyaluronic Acid Serum-helps moisturize and smooth fine lines leaving skin dewy and radiant

Matr Boomie Fringe Earrings-made by artisans in India using traditional techniques

Pepper + Vetiver Set of 3 Nesting Bowls-beautifully made featuring blended blue green hues and textured shapes, designed in partnership with LA-based artist Erin Wolf

Altcooking Hub Set of 6 Silicone Stretch Lids-durable, reusable, and leak free lids designed to reduce plastic and food waste

Overall, I am happy to report that I am still very much in love with CAUSEBOX! This is my third box, and I only have one more to go before having to renew my subscription.  I am fairly certain I will continue to support this company and all of the good they are doing.  If you aren’t familiar with CAUSEBOX, it is a quarterly subscription box that is full of socially conscious brands and/or fair-trade pieces.  They support artisan groups in other countries as well as a number of charitable causes around the world.  They are totally a brand that I can stand behind. If you are interested in giving it a try with either one box or as an annual subscriber, you can check it out and join here. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Anchored,

Book Club: The Last Flight

It is one of my most favorite days of the month…Book Club Day.  I have loved reading for my entire life, and I love talking about books and choosing new books to read.  I was the nerd in high school that joined a subscription book box before subscription boxes were all the rage. Ha ha!   I would get 3-4 books delivered to me once a month, and I loved it.  I just love to read.  I am not super picky about genres because I have favorites in multiple genres.  I tend to lean toward fiction more than nonfiction, but there are some nonfiction books I do love as well.  Anyway, this month I actually read 2 books.  Before I started with my book club pick, I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.  If you are a Hunger Games fan, this book is great.  It is a prequel to The Hunger Games series and follows the early life of Coriolanus Snow well before he became the infamous President Snow.  It was a great addition to the series, and I highly recommend it.  

For the book club for July, I chose The Last Flight by Julie Clark.  It is a psychological thriller of sorts that quickly captivated my attention.  A chance meeting at the airport altered the course of two women’s lives forever.  Both were trying to escape their troubled lives and saw an opportunity to create a whole new life and identity. Claire, the wife of a well-known philanthropist and son of a powerful senator, was trying to escape a life of verbal and physical abuse.  Eva, a bright chemist who had been expelled from college, had been living her life in the drug ring making and selling drugs for a powerful drug lord.  In a split second the two women decided to swap plane tickets and lives in the stall of an airport bathroom.  Not giving each other many details of their current lives, Claire got on a plane headed to California while Eva got on a plane headed to Puerto Rico.  Little did they know all that would lie ahead for them following the crash of the flight to Puerto Rico where no survivors were found.  Nothing for either woman would ever be the same.  

I really liked this story and it kept me on my toes guessing what was coming around each corner.  The characters were very well developed, and I felt the anguish that led both women to the decision to begin a new life completely from scratch, as well as, the struggle for survival.  It is a story of redemption that will tug at your heartstrings while also leaving you on the edge of your seat.  Many people have compared it to Gone Girl.  While I can see the similarities, I don’t feel like this one was as dark and sinister nor was it quite as shocking.  However, I do think that if you were a fan of Gone Girl, you would be a fan of this novel as well. I wouldn’t say that I liked it as much as I liked Gone Girl, but I thought it was good.  I give The Last Flight 4 out of 5 stars.

My pick for August is the highly anticipated, instant New York Times Best Seller, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.  This is a story that echoes the current #MeToo movement and involves a young student who becomes involved in a relationship with her English teacher and the effect it has on her later in life.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

“We couldn’t stop thinking about Kate Elizabeth Russell’s powerful and deeply disturbing debut. Told from the point of view of its titular heroine, the novel maps two distinct areas of Vanessa’s life.  We’re pulled into the thrill and turmoil of 15-year-old Vanessa’s experience as she embarks on a “romance” with her much older English teacher, Jacob, and grows to feel like he’s the only one who truly understands her.  But adult Vanessa is starting to see the story differently, struggling to reconcile the relationship that altered the course of her life with the accusations of other former students who were targeted by Jacob. A palpable feeling of unease pervades Russell’s novel—she does an amazing job of trapping us inside Vanessa’s claustrophobic, traumatized mind. A vitally important read for the #MeToo age, My Dark Vanessacombines visceral detail with thoughtful nuance. Your book club will spend hours discussing this one.”

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. 

Friday Favorites: Top 5

I haven’t shared a top 5 favorites in a while, so I thought I would do one today.  I have a few new things that I want to share with you that I have recently purchased or watched during the quarantine.  We will call this the Top 5 Quarantine Edition! LOL! A couple of these are new additions to our house as we continue to make improvements and upgrades. Overall all, it is just a few new things I am loving right now. Check them all out. 

Wink Kangaroo Convertible Backpack

I just recently ordered this convertible backpack after looking at several different options.  I really wanted a backpack that could also be used as a crossbody bag.  For this reason, I didn’t want it to be very large.  This one was the perfect size for me. It isn’t too big but will easily hold all of the items I need.  It comes in a variety of colors.  The one I purchased is Yellow Brown.  I feel like it is well made and looks great.  I am extremely happy with the quality.  I can’t wait to use it more to see how it stands up to the test of time, but I am loving it so far. 

Walker Edison Furniture Co. Farmhouse Entryway Table

I found this table on Amazon when I was looking for something to fit in this space next to the stairs in my entryway.  It is the perfect fit for the space and the exact look that I was going for.  As you can see it works great in that space.  Now all I need is to add a lamp and a few nick knacks to make the area complete.  

Home Sign

A friend of mine has a sign like this, and I fell in love with it the first time I saw it at her house. I wanted one for myself to hang in my new house above the sofa.   I had planned to make it myself, but as we all know the best laid plans often never happen.  I finally just decided to purchase one.  Otherwise, who knows when I would have gotten around to it? Anyway, I looked at a few on Amazon, but I didn’t really love those and the majority of them were done vertically instead of horizontally like I wanted.  I ended up finding this one on Etsy and went with it. I was able to choose the color stain I wanted, as well as, the color for the lettering.  The only part that I don’t love about it is the way the wreath is attached.  I had asked that it be removable because I have plans to change it out periodically. While it is removable, I would have preferred that it not have been screwed into the board at the top and bottom.  I wish it was more like a hook so it could easily be interchanged.  This way just makes it a little more difficult. I want to be able to use a Christmas wreath during the holidays and maybe a cotton wreath in the fall. It will still work for what I want. I just would have preferred it to be hung differently.  I purchased mine about a month ago from Small Craft Advisory Co. on Etsy, but I don’t see it listed any longer in that shop. You may be able to contact the shop owner to see if she can create another one or check out this listing from a different shop that is similar.

Sweet Magnolias

This is a Netflix Original series.  There is only one season available now, but I just heard that it has been renewed for a second season.  It is a super cute show about 3 friends who lift each other up as they juggle relationships, families, and careers in the small, southern town of Serenity.  It is definitely a chick flick type of show. It mixes heartfelt drama with a bit of humor, and I just thought it was great. I am definitely looking forward to season 2. 

Pixie by Petra Correction Concentrate Brightening Peach

This is a new brand of products I decided to try out. I am always looking for affordable solutions that work to share with all of you. I just started using this product a couple of months ago, and I really like it.  It is a color correcting concentrate to help erase dark spots around your eyes.  I use it in the corner of my eye, underneath my eye, and on my eyelid to even out the skin tone in preparation for the rest of my makeup.  It may seem like it isn’t much for your money as it comes in a very small container.  However, a little goes a long way, so it really does last a long time. I apply it using a brush and am happy with the results.

And…that’s a wrap on this TOP 5 Quarantine edition of my top 5 favorites!

Anchored,

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