My latest television series indulgence is also doubling as my new favorite book!
I was late to The Handmaid’s Tale bandwagon because I’m not a bandwagon person. The instant something is super popular I’m normally not interested. I suppose that is the hipster in me.
Anyway, this story is worth all of the praise! The most intriguing thing to me is that the book was published in 1985, written by Margaret Atwood, and the scenarios she includes are eerily relevant today. I feel that the world she created amplifies what is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) happening in our current political climate and country.
The handmaid sharing her story is named Offred (Of Fred, her Commander). In the story’s setting, handmaids are simultaneously revered and looked down upon. In this new totalitarian world, fertility is a challenge. Handmaids are the answer to this problem. And although many times they give the gift of life, it can’t be overlooked that in their life before the country changed, they were adulterers, “whores,” “gender traitors” – women who had “sinned.” Their bodies are no longer theirs, but their Commander’s and their Wife. Frequent “ceremonies” occur where essentially the handmaids are raped in an effort to conceive a baby. It is dark and twisted and will take your breath away if you choose to watch the series.
Atwood’s world is built on religion. Those who revolted against and attacked the United States government have created a new era based on The Bible. Everyone is expected to live and breathe the words in The Bible. Any past transgressions or current day actions that that fall outside of the Holy Word result in severe punishment, and in most cases, death.
Freedom as we know it is non-existent. Women are forbidden from reading or writing or working. They must obey their Commander or other men. Free thinking is beaten down. Uniforms are implemented to help others identify your status. Love is arranged. Money is no longer. “Guardians” are omnipresent, guns in hand, ready to shoot you down. Public hangings on “the wall” are the punishment of choice. The outlook is bleak.
BUT, hope resides. Some people were able to escape to Canada before being captured and forced to live the Gilead way of life. Secret messages are exchanged. Revolution bubbles beneath the surface. Stories of what is truly going on are leaked to countries who could potentially help. People exist within Gilead with enough power that they can attempt to assist people in getting out.
It’s the hope that keeps the characters going. Memories of how life used to be. A yearning to eventually get back to “normal.” Although, most of the men in power have no interest in this because they’ve “got it made” in their opinions. So, it might be a long road.
If there’s one thing this story is teaching me is that we have it good. Really good. Today freedom reigns, but in a blink of an eye it could all be taken away from us. So squeeze your family tight. Appreciate your right to share your opinions, thoughts, feelings. Stand up for what you believe. Don’t allow basic rights to be taken from you. Read. Write. EXPRESS YOURSELF. Don’t take it for granted.
If you enjoy strong, female leads in the shows you watch – check out Broad City – you’ll get two for one!
I’m embarrassed and disappointed in myself to say that it took me around five tries to get into this show. I must have been in a different head space and taking life a little too seriously during my previous attempts. It’s a shame I didn’t latch onto it earlier, but am glad I eventually did because it lives up to all of the hype.
The show was created by and stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. I’ve expressed my love for Ilana in a previous post. She’s actually the reason why I gave this show so many tries. But I’ve come to equally admire Abbi. Here’s a recent interview she did with another of my favorite females, Courtney Barnett.
Abbi and Ilana are 1) the perfect pair, 2) funny as hell, 3) boundary pushers, and 4) extremely charming. They are two very relatable women getting through life the best way they know how – together. Although some of the shenanigans they get into are completely off the wall, it only makes you like them more. For their brutal honesty. For their ability to laugh through the most terrible situations. For their dedication to each other as friends. The list goes on.
There are currently four seasons of this show available on Hulu. I flew through them too fast, but each episode is so brilliant and funny, I am already re-watching them over time. Season five will be their last according to the internet…which is so sad…but I can’t wait to see what else these ladies do together and as individuals.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
If you burn through the episodes like I did, they have a mobile app full of Broad City themed games that brought me some comfort when I was missing the girls!
The rate at which we are killing our planet with single use plastic is alarming. Sickening. FRIGHTENING. We as consumers are not taking enough responsibility and the companies producing the single use products are not taking enough responsibility. We are equally at fault.
I’ve written about my disgust with plastic in a past post that included information about a movie I highly recommend you watch. If you didn’t dislike plastic before or hadn't thought about the consequences of using it – you will after you watch this.
I continue to feel overwhelmed by what is happening. But I have control over my actions. And even if I’m one extremely small piece of the bigger picture, so be it. My hope is that there are millions of others out there like me that realize what is going on and are doing what they can to help. No matter how small.
Here are just a few simple things I’m doing to reduce plastic consumption, including some products I like that help with this:
I hope this is helpful to you in some way! If we each do our part to be mindful of what we are buying and how we are disposing of it, we can make a difference. Choose to refuse plastic straws, containers, etc. when you can. I truly believe in the cumulative effect of millions of small actions to make our world green again.
If you have some tips to share – please let me know in the comments. I’d love to find more simple ways to be more conscious about my consumption!
I. Love. This. Movie. It is absolute perfection and no one can convince me otherwise! There is a reason why it was so popular and won Best Picture at the Oscars.
Here's how I described this movie to my friends: "It is a beautiful love story between a woman and a fish man."
There's not much more to it than that! It is certainly an unconventional love story, but one that completely captured my heart. I adored the touches of French music and cinematography (even though it takes place in Baltimore, Maryland). The movie set and wardrobe are in shades of green up until a certain point when it changes to symbolize a shift within the main character, Elisa, which I thought was really interesting and added a special touch.
I was in tears by the end, overcome by the wonderful story line and joy for the characters. This is a must watch in my opinion. I hope you like it as much as my husband and I did!
I try using all-natural products as often as I can. The less chemicals in our home, the better.
I especially think about the chemicals I am applying to my hair and skin through various shampoos, face washes, lotions, and other personal hygiene products. I found a wonderful all-natural replacements for these types of items through Rare Bird Soap Shop located inside NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids.
This little shop charmed be from the beginning when I first visited a few years back. I frequented it when I visited NewBo, but mostly for my essential oil needs. Just recently I have started exploring the full handcrafted line of products Rare Bird offers and as long as they are around, there’s no going back for me!
Here are just a few of my favorite products:
A couple pumps of this foam cleanser is all you need. It thoroughly removes my make-up and leaves my skin feeling soft. I enjoy the natural scent. I struggle with acne and thought I would never be able to use anything but chemical laced, acne specific cleansers, but I feel like my skin reacts even better to this all-natural option. For a little exfoliation, I use a woven exfoliating facial buff, also available in the shop.
Rosehip Seed Oil Facial Serum
Again, just a couple pumps of this serum goes a long way. I never thought I would apply oil to my already oily skin, but I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to a regular facial moisturizer. This oil is light, absorbs quickly, and does not make my face look greasy. I put it on in the morning before applying make-up and again at night. It creates a really nice base for my make-up. My make-up goes on smooth and has better staying power. I also honestly feel that I’m seeing less “shine” on my face throughout the day. I did some research and Rosehip Seed Oil actually has a ton of benefits for your skin!
It will be impossible for me to use regular shampoo from a bottle after discovering this product. The shampoo bar suds up nicely and leaves my hair feeling both clean and moisturized. I don’t use conditioner, just the shampoo bar, and my curly (normally dry) hair has reacted really well. I’ve also noticed that I experience less dandruff. What I love the most about using a bar is that there is no plastic container, so this is a green option for those of you trying to consume less plastic as well!
As I mentioned before, I visit the shop in NewBo, but they also have a website and Etsy shop if you can’t make it to the physical location. I’ve always had a really good experience with the owner. She is very nice and is always willing to answer questions about when and how to use her products. The costs are also very reasonable for what you are getting.
If you are looking for natural, effective products to incorporate into your beauty routine, I highly recommend Rare Bird Soap Shop!
Green color correcting concealer has been around forever. I have seen it in magazines from the time I was young until now (still young, of course). As a person who has struggled with acne her entire life, you thought I would have jumped on the green concealer bandwagon a long time ago – but better late than never, right?
I’m 33 and still struggle with acne. It’s beyond frustrating. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard to hide. But I do the best I can with what I have.
So what I do with this concealer is put it on before the rest of my make-up. I wash my face, put on moisturizer, then my green concealer. It’s designed to help with redness, so I primarily use it on new acne and scars from past acne. Just a little dab will do. If you can see the green after you blend it into your skin you’ve used too much. Once I have this on, I put on my foundation, regular nude concealer and so on. It makes a HUGE difference and disguises my acne really well (at least in my opinion).
I use this kind and I love it:
It's called L'Oreal True Match Color Correcting Crayon. They have different shades available for different color correction needs.
An obsession I’ll talk about soon is the Netflix series Queer Eye. On one of their first episodes they showed a man how to use green concealer. He had really bad rosacea all over his face and rubbing some green concealer on it really took the redness down. So it is gender neutral as well, which I think is cool.
If you have adult acne and have any tips for either treating it or covering it up, I’m all ears!
I have never been an online shopper. Until I discovered Wish.
My mom had mentioned Wish a few months back. She boasted about how cheap their prices were and the wide range of items they sold. It sounded way too good to be true, so I disregarded her recommendation. I should know by know that when my mom says something – it is the truth – but I have a feeling I’ll never fully grasp that fact!
Anyway, I downloaded the app randomly one day and started scrolling through. I was swept away to sale land. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
There was still a huge part of me that couldn’t imagine how everything could be so inexpensive, but I had to give it a try. So far I’ve purchased two duvet covers, an essential oil diffuser, a Himalayan salt lamp, a light fixture (here's what I did with it), and a small crock pot. Everything has shown up in perfect condition, exactly as pictured on the site, and is normally delivered way earlier than expected.
I’ve been really pleased with my experience and couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re always out to find the best deal. They have a large variety of products. I currently have a bunch of clothing items saved to my clothing cache so that’s the next item I’ll try ordering.
Here are some photos of a few of the items I’ve purchased so far. Happy deal finding!
If you're looking for a movie that lifts you up, I've got just the one for you: The Greatest Showman. I walked out of the theatre feeling so empowered I felt unstoppable. I have never felt that way after any movie before.
A couple of disclaimers: This movie is a musical, so if you're not into that, you won't like it. Also, this movie is a non-traditional musical, so if you're expecting classic/typical musical music, you'll walk out disappointed. The music is pop - similar to what you'd hear on a top hits radio station. I wasn't expecting this, and didn't like it at first, but the messages overpowered any immediate reservations I had.
The movie follows the true story of the rise and fall and rise of P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum and he is a badass. He is surrounded by an amazing cast who are equally badass. The voices, the dancing, the era, the effects - all so good.
But like I said before - it's the messages throughout the movie that put this one over the top for me. Encouraging viewers to dream, to be themselves, to follow their hearts. My soul felt so full afterwards. We downloaded the soundtrack immediately. I can't listen to some of the songs without crying. It was, and still is, so moving.
Five stars. Two thumbs up. All the good reviews from me. I urge you to go watch it especially if you're looking for something to light you up inside. If you go see it - let me know what you thought!
Like so many, I'm a huge fan of essential oils and their benefits. I've shared in previous posts that I like to incorporate them into my meditation and yoga. I also wear them in place of perfume when I'm in need of emotional or physical comfort before I start my day.
I normally apply my oils topically on pulse points - wrists and temples - and on my chest, over my heart. I then inhale from the bottle a few times, passing the bottle back and forth beneath my nose. Although this routine is wonderful and very beneficial to me, I was looking for a way to make the benefits of the oils last all day long. This is where essential oil pendants come in!
Joel and I happened upon an Artist Holiday Pop-Up Shop in Cedar Falls at The Space where I found my first pendant. It is made of lava stone, which absorbs the essential oil, and a quartz crystal, which is a healing stone for a large number of things. I love the combination of the two. Unfortunately, I don't have the artist's information, but here's a lava stone/quartz crystal option from Etsy!
I also found that lava stones have been used for centuries to help reduce anxiety and calm emotions. (AMEN!) Lava stones are a critical element for grounding and stabilizing the root Chakra as well. So when you combine your essential oils with lava stones, you are combining two powerful natural compounds that increase the effectiveness of each other!
The second pendant I have was a gift. A very thoughtful gift because this person didn't know I wanted a clay essential oil pendant option! The pendant I received is from Essential Pendants, LLC. There are so many beautiful options!
When you have your pendant and are ready to use it, you only need to apply one to two drops of your chosen essential oil. The scent from just a couple of drops can last up to three or more days! Wait for the oil to absorb before you put it on, especially if it will rub on your clothing. When you're ready to change oils, wait for the scent of the previous oil to diffuse completely. If your pendant starts to absorb oils slowly, this just means it needs to dry out. Lay the pendant in the sun for two to four days and that should do it!
Are you an essential oil lover, too? Tell me about your favorite oils and how you use them!
With a world full of causes, sometimes it's hard to determine who or what to support. Joel and I have many causes that are close to our hearts, with the Salvation Army being near the top.
This year will be our fourth year ringing bells for their Red Kettle Campaign. We commit at least one night every year during the holidays to do this. It has become an annual tradition that we both look forward to. It's always freezing cold, but we're together, doing good, smiling, using the bells to play Christmas tunes, and feeling the warmth of peoples' generosity as they drop money into the kettle.
The Salvation Army itself does SO MANY wonderful things for our community every single day. Here's just a few of the ways they help those in need:
How awesome is this?! I think it's just wonderful. And is why I always drop something in a red kettle, even if it's a few pennies, because each donation counts.
If you're interested in ringing bells, it's really easy to sign up. You can go through the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley when the campaign is running. I've found signing up through them is the easiest and fastest way because you are put in touch with a local coordinator. They have lots of dates, times, and locations to choose from.
If you can't donate time, donate your loose change, because like I said before, each donation truly counts and your dollars help make a huge impact in your local community!
Merry Christmas - 'tis the season of giving!