Friday Favorites: Trades of Hope

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

Amber Bracelet Trio

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

Half-Moon Earrings

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

Neema Tote

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

Sky Jasper Bracelet

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

Marbleized Travel Bag

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

Summer Whites Collection

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

Luminary Bracelet

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

I am Enough Bracelet

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

Light of the World Bracelet

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

Luna Hoops

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

Tula the Unicorn and Tulum the Dragon

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

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

Anchored in Hope,

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

Book Club: The Henna Artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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

Friday Favorites: Finishing Powder

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

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

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

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

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Women-Owned Small Businesses

I have shared before how strongly I feel about supporting women entrepreneurs and women-owned small businesses.  I believe in lifting women up no matter what career path they have chosen.  Whether it is a woman who owns her own small business, a woman struggling to get her ideas off the ground, a SAHM who runs a little side business from her home to keep her sanity, a teacher who has to supplement her income as a direct sales representative, or the many other ways that women choose to earn money to support their families, I believe in supporting them and lifting them up.  Women helping women is one of my motto’s and part of why I chose to even start this blog. I think it is so important as women that we band together and look out for one another.  That is why I have decided that I am going to feature some women-owned small businesses and direct sales representatives that I love once a month starting in July.  I am lucky enough to already know some incredible women who own their own small business and are trying to do what they can to ease the financial burden of their families, and I want to spotlight them here.

I am not here to debate with you over direct sales, how they operate, or if they are pyramid schemes.  I know many people on both sides of the argument who have very strong feelings about these things, but that is not what this is about. Many women get into direct sales to have some other identity besides being a mom or wife or because they simply love the product and want to share it with everyone they know. Yes, I will agree that some women get in over their heads and end up losing money instead of earning it.  I will also agree, on the other hand, that some women end up being incredibly successful and are able to truly make an impact on their lives. Most women fall somewhere in the middle of all of it. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of direct sales, I admire any woman that is willing to step outside of her comfort zone to attempt to do something to help her family or to build herself up.  That is what I support 100%. I personally have been involved in two direct sales companies that couldn’t be more opposite from each other, but I learned things about myself, including strengths and weaknesses, from both of them. They also both gave me an outlet and something to focus on at times when I really needed it.  I personally believe in direct sales.  I believe it is the way of the future and how we are going to consume things in the years to come.

I also want to support other women-owned small businesses that aren’t just direct sales, and plan to feature some of those as well.  Again, I admire any woman who goes out on her own and tries to do something that she is passionate about and to fulfill her dreams.  Opening your own business is scary and a huge undertaking.  Trust me, I know!  I have actually done this as well with two of my friends.  It wasn’t easy and did not take off like we had hoped, but it was certainly a big learning experience and one I would never regret.  My hat is off to those of you that have taken that big step as well.  Women are incredible human beings and are making huge strides in business all over the place.  I want to celebrate that.  

If you or someone that you know owns a small business (brick and mortar, online, or direct sales) and would like to be featured here, I would love to connect with you.  Please send me an email to anchoredpiecebypiece@gmail.com, comment below, or message me on social media, and we can connect.  I want to support you.  Helping women is what I am all about.

Anchored,

Book Club: Ask Again, Yes

It is book club day! Today I am reviewing my pick for May, Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane.  I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago, so I hope I can remember it enough to write this review.  I did enjoy this book, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites.  It was a quick read that kept my interest throughout.  I did feel sometimes that the story changed tense and went back and forth between whose point of view the story was written from.  I don’t know if it really was changing tense and point of view per se, but I did find it odd and a bit confusing at times.  I also find it interesting that Keane chose this particular title for the book.  While it is sort of a line from the book closer to the end of the story, I’m not really sure that it would have been the title I ended up with had I been the author.  I guess it in a way captures the underlying theme of the book, but I just don’t know if everyone would have caught the quick few lines that the title came from as it isn’t a direct quote. I think I would give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It was good, but there was just something about the writing style that was a bit off for me.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, though. 

Ask Again, Yes is a story that revolves around two families, the Stanhopes and the Gleesons, and how their lives intertwined.  The patriarchs of both families, Brian Stanhope and Frank Gleeson, met as young adults when they both entered the police force in New York at the same time and were rookie partners.  While their friendship wasn’t a very strong one and they were only partners for a few months, they ended up as next door neighbors in a quaint little suburban neighborhood as they were just beginning their families.  Not long after they became neighbors, the Gleesons had their third child, a daughter named Kate, and the Stanhopes had their one and only child, a son named Peter.  These two youngsters quickly developed a bond that was unbreakable. Sadly, the Stanhope family was plagued by mental illness and alcohol abuse that led to an unspeakable tragedy that turned both families upside down and tore Kate and Peter apart the summer before their senior year of high school.  That night was one that would haunt both families for the rest of their lives.  It sent both Kate and Peter down very different paths.  Peter suddenly lost both of his parents when his mother was sent to a mental hospital and his alcoholic father left him in the care of his uncle. He was left to cope with the loss of Kate and the terrible tragedy that ripped him away from her all on his own. As a college student Peter headed down a dark place as he himself became an alcoholic.  Kate on the other hand was left with a feeling of abandonment from losing Peter and was conflicted over her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to Peter. 

Years after being ripped apart, Peter and Kate found their way back to each other. Their love for each other and the bond they shared remained, but they were both very different people than the ones they knew as children.  Despite this, they married and began a family of their own, but the two struggled to overcome the events of that night that ripped them apart all those years ago.  The story continues as these two deal with the demons of their past that sent them down a path of discovery to find out if their childhood bond was enough to sustain their relationship despite all they had been through. Their story was one of tragedy and disappointment, but also one of great love, forgiveness, and redemption. 

My pick for June is a New York Times Best Seller that was actually recommended by one of the founders of Trades of Hope.  It is also a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick. It is entitled The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi.  This book is set in India and is the fictional story of a young girl who escapes an abusive marriage to the city of Jaipur.  Here she becomes the most sought-after henna artist to some of India’s wealthiest women.  This story reportedly gives a glimpse of India’s history, including their caste system.  This very much piques my interest after learning the many stories of Trades of Hope artisans who have risen up from the lowest caste system in India. I am very much looking forward to diving into this book and learning more about India.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this story.

“What if, with the flick of a brush, you could paint yourself out of all your pain and unhappiness—and into a brand new life? For teenager Lakshmi, fleeing an abusive marriage in 1950s India means heading for the vibrant city of Jaipur. Once Lakshmi has settled, her artistic talents make her the city’s most sought-after henna painter, hired to adorn the hands and bodies of the rich, powerful women. Told through evocative, lush prose, Alka Joshi’s gorgeous debut novel uses one woman’s compelling story to explore a nation in the middle of earthshaking transitions. We were so wonderfully absorbed in Lakshmi’s journey that we didn’t even realize how much we were learning about India’s complicated history, and about colonialism, social upheaval, and the caste system. The Henna Artist is a full sensory experience, transporting us to another time and another place.”

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.

Book Club: The Tea Girl on Hummingbird Lane

Yet again, I am off a week on book club.  I just can’t get it together.  Honestly, I didn’t realize that last Friday was the last one in the month. For some reason I had it in my head that today was the last day of April.  Oh well, better late than never, right? For April, I chose The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I have to say that I really liked this book up until the very last page.  I thought it was a great story that held my interest throughout, but I was shocked when I got to the last page only to discover that was the end of the book.  I turned the page expecting to continue reading, but there was nothing.  This is one of those books where I immediately thought that there had to be a sequel.  Surely, the story doesn’t really end there.  I NEED to know what happens next, but I will never know.  I am left to imagine what happens next in my head.  I assume that is what Lisa See wanted the reader to do, but it still leaves me longing for more.  I know I say that about a lot of the stories that I review.  I never really want them to end, but this one was different.  I was just so surprised at how the story ended leaving me with an unfinished feeling.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story of a young girl, Li-yan (or Girl as her family affectionately called her), who grew up in the mountains of China among the Akha.  The Akha people were tea famers who were steeped in customs, rituals, and traditions (including strict roles for men and women).  They lived in the mountains with little to no knowledge of the world outside of their village with no electricity, plumbing, or creature comforts even in 90’s and into the new millennium.  The lived off the land and the very little money they made harvesting the tea leaves.  Li-yan’s mother, A-ma, was a healer of sorts and served as the midwife in the village.  She believed that Li-yan would take over for her as the village’s midwife once she was gone.  She brought Li-yan along with her for one birth in particular as a learning opportunity.  This birth was unusual as the mother gave birth to twins.  The Akha people believed that twins were a bad omen from the spirits and called the newborns “human rejects.” It was their custom to have the babies’ father to kill the human rejects and bury them outside the village in the woods in order to please the spirits.  Her witness to this custom along with her own young love and unexpected pregnancy led Li-yan to question and turn away from the rituals and beliefs of her family.  It sent her on a journey of hardship and loss. She not only discovered who she was and what she truly believed in, but it also led her right back to the family and traditions that she once ran from where she was able to bless her people in ways they never dreamed possible.

Despite my need to know more at the end of this story, I still really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. See’s development of the characters was so well done that it helped me totally picture what it was like to live in those mountains, the reality of the hardships the Akha people faced because of their beliefs, and the incredible hard work it took them to harvest the tea leaves.  Despite my need to know more, I still really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story about the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. This story truly was one of growth and change, and I really loved it.

My pick for May is a New York Times Bestseller that was named one of the best books of the year last year by PeopleVogueParade, NPR, and Elle.  Ask Again, Yes is a novel by Mary Beth Keane.  This is a story of the lifelong friendship and love of Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson and the night that changed them both and tested their bond for many years to come. Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“We lost track of time reading Mary Beth Keane’s novel about two families linked by professional and neighborly bonds—before they’re blown apart by tragedy. Ask Again, Yes centers on the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, two families whose fathers met as rookie policemen and whose children develop a deep and lasting bond. Keane is sympathetic to all of her characters, which makes the story of how one destructive person can harm a web of relationships all the more affecting. Like a brilliant painter’s use of negative space, Keane withholds certain information to make this saga a thrilling and moving read.”

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: Makeup Removers

I want to start by saying that every single person on the planet should wash their face every morning and every night.  Period. There should never be an excuse for not washing your face, especially if you wear makeup.  NEVER go to bed with makeup on! I personally think that everyone should have some type of skincare routine, but you should at least remove your makeup every night if nothing else.  I am not going to get into my whole skincare routine today. I will save that for another post.  However, I do want to talk about the very first step to my routine, and that is removing my makeup.  I follow a two-step process using two products to rid my face of all makeup, and that is what I am going to share with you today.  

The first thing I do when I am getting ready for bed at night is to remove my makeup using a Norwex Microfiber Body Cloth.  If you have never heard of Norwex before, it is a direct sales company that sells environmentally friendly cleaning products for your home and body without the use of harmful chemicals. They are a great company and have so many amazing products that I highly recommend you check out.  Anyway, I love the Microfiber Body Cloths to remove my makeup for several reasons. One is that it only requires water to remove my makeup.  I just wet the cloth with warm water and gently wipe away all traces of makeup.  Another reason that I love these cloths is that I can get 8 uses out of one cloth before having to wash it.  I like to fold mine into quarters and use only one quarter per night.  Each night when I am done, I rinse it thoroughly, wring it out well, and then use the tag to easily hang it to dry.  Then it is ready for me to use another quarter then next night.  A third reason I love these cloths is that they come in sets of 3 and in a few different colors for a very affordable price.  These towels are super soft and gentle on my skin, and they easily remove all traces of my makeup and prep it for the rest of my skincare routine.  I have been using them for about 3 or 4 years now, and I love them. 

While the Norwex cloths are great, they don’t seem to remove all of my mascara that well.  It does remove some, but it would take more rubbing to remove it all.  I am very careful with not rubbing my eye area too strongly because the skin around your eyes is thin and delicate.  I don’t want to cause any more wrinkles than necessary! As part of my second step in my makeup removal routine, I use Rodan + Fields Essentials Complete Eye Makeup Remover.  This oil-free, dual-phase remover gently erases all traces of mascara, including hard to remove waterproof mascara.  I have tried numerous eye makeup removers over the years with very little success. Either they don’t work, leave your eyes with a greasy feeling, or cause an allergic reaction for me. I have very sensitive eyes and many eye products irritate my eyes.  They cause me to get little white allergy bumps all underneath my eye lids which are very irritating.  Anyway, the R+F Eye Makeup Remover does not do this.  It is safe for sensitive skin and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.  I simply shake it well to activate the ingredients, apply it to one of these Cotton Rounds, and then gently swipe it across my lashes. (I prefer the cotton rounds to cotton balls because they require less product to be effective.) The eye makeup remover works great and does not require harsh rubbing.  It also contains ingredients like biotin that help to nourish and strengthen your lashes. It is by far my favorite eye makeup remover for sensitive eyes.

Once I have all of my makeup removed using these two products, I follow through with the rest of my skincare routine. If you get nothing else from this post, I hope that you get the importance of at least washing off your makeup every day.  It honestly doesn’t matter what you use as long as it isn’t just a regular bar of soap that is not made for your face.  Leaving makeup on will clog your pores, cause unwanted breakouts, and lead to signs of aging faster.  Plus, it just makes you feel better and more refreshed when you have a clean face.  You only get one face, so you better take care of it!  As Rachel Hollis says, “Girl, wash your face!!”

Anchored,

friday Favorites: Top 5

It’s Friday, and we have made it through another week of social distancing.  Honestly, if it weren’t for this blog, I probably wouldn’t know what day it was anymore.  They just all seem to blur together these days. Anyway, Friday means that I get to share with you some of my favorite things. It has been a while since I have done a top 5 favorites post, so I figured I would do one today.  I have a few things that I am loving right now that I wanted to share with you.  They are all totally random things, but I love them each of them.  

1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I know this wasn’t part of my book club for this month, but I have been wanting to read this book for some time.  I figured now was as good of time as any with all the free time I have.  I started this one at the beginning of this week and finished it in about 4 days.  It was a great story about motherhood, mother-daughter relationships, teenage love, race, and economic and social class.  I really enjoyed this story a lot. I wanted to finish it because there is also now an original series based on the book on Hulu staring Reese Witherspoon and Kerri Washington.  I started watching it yesterday after I finished the book and am 3 or 4 episodes in.  While the series is good, I always struggle when the storyline differs from that in the book.  I’m one of those people that often will say that the book was better than the movie or series.  I think that is just the book junkie in me.  I will continue to watch it until the end though because I really did enjoy the book.  What else do I have to do these days anyway?  Here is what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about Little Fires Everywhere.

“This novel from Ng is both an intricate and captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with dark undertones not-quite-hidden from view and a powerful and suspenseful novel about motherhood. When the eccentric and itinerant artist Mia Warren and her 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move into a rental house in Shaker Heights, Ohio, one summer, neither they nor their more conventional, affluent landlords, the Richardsons, have any reason to anticipate how dangerously enmeshed the two families will become. Before long, Pearl, enthralled by her first shot at a “normal” life, is spending every day with three of the four Richardson children, Lexie, Moody, and Trip, finding a best friend, a suiter, and a lover in turn. Meanwhile, Isabelle, the youngest Richardson teenager, starts heading over to see Mia, offering to work as her assistant but really looking for an escape. As both Mrs. Richardson and Mia Warren overstep their boundaries, Ng explores the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, abortion, privacy, and class, questioning all the while who earns, who claims, and who loses the right to be called mother. This is an impressive accomplishment.”

2. Easter M&M’s

I love M&M’s.  I’m not a peanut fan or really a fan of any other M&M’s other than the original plain one.  However, there is something about the Easter ones that I like better than the regular ones.  I don’t know if has anything to do with the coloring as all of the Easter ones are pastel colors or what, but they taste different to me. I just like them even better than the regular ones (which I still love a lot). I can’t really explain it, but I love Easter M&M’s so much.  Maybe I am just weird and it’s all psychological, but there is something about them that makes them taste better to me. 

3. Glass Nail File

A few months ago, I did not know that glass nail files even existed.  A friend of mine who is a rep. for Color Street (nail wraps), sent me a glass nail file with an order I had placed with her.  At first, I wasn’t sure it I would like it because it feels weird and different from what I am used to, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually like it a lot. I looked up what made them better than regular nail files just to see what I could find.  An Allure article from August 30, 2012 states, “Glass files, also known as crystal files, regardless of how they are used, seal the keratin layers together at the edge of the nail, preventing peeling and chipping.  Traditional nail files should be used filing in one direction only, but they rarely are, and filing in both directions causes the layers of keratin to shred, leaving the edge thinner and more prone to peeling and chipping. Another bonus is that glass files can be sanitized and sterilized.” Basically, it is better for your nails than a regular cardboard or metal one, and they last longer.  If you have never tried a glass file or you have brittle nails, I would recommend you consider giving one a try. 

4. Tide PODS HE Turbo Laundry Detergent-Ocean Mist

I don’t know what kind of laundry detergent you use, but I thought I would share my favorite.  I love the ease of pods, and Tide has always worked well for me.  The one I use is Tide PODS HE Turbo-Ocean Mist.  It smells so good and is by far my favorite. I love the smell of my clothes and towels when they come out of the dryer.  I typically order it in the large plastic containers from Amazon, but I was having trouble finding it in the large size today.  I found it in a smaller package, though.  I really hope that means they aren’t doing away with that scent. I would be very upset! 

5. Desktop Phone Stand

I got this phone stand on the recommendation of another blogger that I follow, and I have used it way more than I even thought I would.  Sometimes I will prop my phone up on it when I am getting ready in the mornings and watch videos or listen to podcasts.  Recently, I have used it to hold my phone when I am doing live videos.  It is the perfect size and is easily portable. I also love that you can charge your phone while it is in the stand without messing up the cord.  The rose gold is also super cute.  

That’s a wrap on my top 5 favorites for today.  I hope everyone is staying healthy at home! 

Anchored,

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

Book Club: When Time Stopped

I know that I normally do my book club book review on the last Friday of the month.  However, I was so excited to share my new CAUSEBOX last week that I kind of forgot that it was the end of the month.  In all honesty though, I actually had not finished reading the book last week.  I know that I have had plenty of time to read lately, and I said I was going to jump on reading my March pick, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann, when this whole coronavirus thing began. I did try to start reading the book, but I had a really hard time getting into it initially. This book is the real-life story of the author’s quest to find the truth of her father’s secret past and survival during the Holocaust.   I honestly had high hopes for this story as I have read many historical fiction books about the same time period. I was fascinated with the thought of reading about a real-life story during that time.  Unfortunately, I was struggling at the beginning because it just wasn’t holding my interest. I found myself having to reread pages and paragraphs because I had zoned out.  In the initial chapters the author was setting up the story and how she came to find out that her father even had a secret past.  She was introducing a lot of the characters who had similar names and I was having a hard time keeping them all straight in my head and how they connected to the story as a whole.  It wasn’t until around chapters 10 and 11 that she really got to the meat of the story and where my interest picked up.  Although I still find the events of that time period very intriguing and the storyline did eventually develop, I really didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I didn’t hate it and did find parts of it very interesting. It just didn’t seem to live up to my expectations.

Ariana Neumann’s father was Jewish man who grew up in Prague and was a young man when Germany first occupied the Czech Republic.  Although he was not a practicing Jew, “for the Nazis, Judaism was not a choice but a ‘race’ determined by your grandparents. What you believed or practiced did not matter; what was important was your genetic makeup.”  Neumann only learned that her father had a secret past after his death when she found a box of documents, letters, and photographs that her father had left for her. For most of her childhood in Venezuela, she was even unaware that her family was Jewish as her father never spoke to anyone of his past.  One of the documents she found in the box was an identification card that had a photograph of her father but identified him as someone under a totally different name and date of birth.  This box led her on a journey of discovering that her father had lived a terrifying, secret life in the wake of the Holocaust. Her investigation into his past led her to discover that her father lived under a false identity in order to avoid transport to one of the many Nazis concentration camps and a fate that many of his relatives were unable to avoid.  He ended up living in Berlin where he assumed a totally different identity while hiding in plain sight under the noses of the Germans. This is a story of tragedy, deception, extreme bravery, and the will to survive under the harshest of conditions during one of history’s most tragic periods.  Along Neumann’s journey in her search for the truth, she discovered a story that is unfathomable not only about her father but also about her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives endured at the hands of the Nazis regime.  While it is hard for me to highly recommend this story to everyone, I do think that those interested in this period of time in history will find this story fascinating.  It truly is an unbelievable story of heroism and survival.  If you do choose to read this story, I urge you to be patient and stick with it in the beginning.  The story is slow to develop but once it does, it becomes more captivating.  

My pick for April is a #1 New York Times Bestselling novel entitled The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.  It is the story of Li-yan, a girl who grew up in a remote mountain village in China among a family of tea farmers and members of the Akha people.  In this story, the arrival of a mysterious stranger, leads Li-Yan to question her life and the customs she grew up with.  This causes her to leave her family and begin a life in the modern world. Here is Apple Books’ review of this novel.

“Lisa See’s novel about one woman’s journey from southern China’s mountains to the tiny Los Angeles suburbs opens with an aphorism: “No coincidence, no story.” As a child, Li-yan lives among the Akha, picking tea with her family in the countryside. When her life turns upside-down, she heads to the city, carrying her home village’s customs while gathering her heart’s shattered pieces. Full of luminous prose and surprising plot twists that render its opening line prophetic, See’s deception of loss, love, and tea is spirited and inspiring.”

Will you come along and read with me? It is a great way to escape the chaos that is our lives during this coronavirus pandemic.  Let’s jump into a good book together. 

Anchored in a Good Book,

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

Friday Favorites: CAUSEBOX Spring 2020

My new subscription box came yesterday, and I was so excited to open it.  I have been stalking my front porch for days in anticipation of my box arriving.  Of course, shipping was a little slower than normal due to COVID-19. This is the second CAUSEBOX that I have received.  For those of you that don’t know, CAUSEBOX is a quarterly subscription box that is different than the ones you normally see all over social media. Everything that comes in a CAUSEBOX is a socially conscious brand and/or fair trade. They support artisan groups in other countries and support a number of charitable causes.  I am in love with this company and all that they are doing.  

My second CAUSEBOX did not disappoint! I absolutely loved everything that came in my first box, and I am so excited about all the things in my new box. I did have some options for customization of my box, which I really like. Check out all the things I got this time. 

Fosterie Layered Gem Necklace-designed exclusively for CAUSEBOX and ethically handmade in Columbia

Bentgo Stackable Bento Box-a to-go container with two compartments and built-in utensils that offers a sustainable replacement to single-use plastic and donates to Feed the Children

Artisan Direct Sustainable Grocery Starter Kit-set of 5 mesh and muslin bags to replace single use produce and grain bags; made by artisans in Jaipur, India 

Earth Harbor Reparative Eye Cream-a smoothing and firming, all-natural, iridescent eye-cream made of seaweed collagen, blue tansy, and plant oils to help restore the skin around the eyes

Cardea Auset CALM Mood Mist-an all-natural, aromatherapeutic mood mist that can be used to help with focus and sleep or simply as a body spray

Jenni Earle Wild + Free Bandana-a beautiful bandana designed to serve as a talisman for courage and adventure; ethically made by artisans in Jaipur, India

Pixie Mood Zoe Crossbody in Honey-an everyday crossbody with detachable and adjustable strap made from vegan leather, with the inside made from recycled plastic

I could not be more pleased with my decision to join CAUSEBOX.  I truly love what they stand for and the quality of the products I have received so far.  I am totally in love with the crossbody from this box and cannot wait to use it.  If you have been thinking about joining a subscription box, I highly recommend CAUSEBOX. You can be assured that your purchase will be making a difference in the world, and you are getting quality products that are ethically and sustainably made. To get $10 off a new subscription, click here

Anchored,