Owl Crate Subscription Box: February 

Guys, today is the first day in about two weeks that I have felt like an actual human being. I have been battling the worst cough/cold/sore throat and I have been sicker than I have been in a long time. Boo. So today I am playing some major catch up and finally getting around to a couple of blog posts that I have been planning for some time and just haven’t had the mental wherewithal to actually write. Today’s is my February Owl Crate reveal, which is so late that it will shortly be followed by my March Owl Crate reveal since that box should be on its way soon! But I definitely wanted to share this box with you because it was an AWESOME one. I feel like I am repeating myself every month, but these boxes really do get better and better each month. So let’s take a peek at February’s Circus themed box!

So for the first time ever, I actually guessed the book for this month correctly! And I was so excited to see it in the box because I was planning on buying it anyway! Caraval by Stephanie Garber has been hyped as the next Night Circus, so I am definitely psyched to read it. And now that I don’t feel like poo, I might actually get some reading done!

The little goodies in this month’s box were some of my favorite ever. I love when I get items that I will actually use! Attic Journals provided this cute playing card notebook and I LOVE these circus themed page flags from Girl of All Work. And the lip balm from Geek Fire Labs is doughnut flavored y’all. Yeah, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

My favorite item this month is this Night Circus inspired tote bag from Evie Bookish. I am a tote bag whore, and I especially love literature bags, so this one is my new fave. And this Le Cirque des Reves inspired candle from Frostbeard Studio smells divine.

All in all, it was an amazing box this month and I am so thrilled with everything I received. March’s theme is Sailors, Ships, and Seas. I have no idea what to expect from the March box, but I’m hoping for some mermaids! If you would like to check out Owl Crate for yourself, please use this affiliate link and help me earn some free boxes! Any guesses as to what book will be in next month’s box?

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Let’s Get Prepped for the 2017 Food and Wine Festival

The 2017 Food and Wine Festival begins today at California Adventure, and I am so excited! I had a blast at last year’s festival, and from the looks of things, this year is going to be even better. I decided to do a couple of different things this year to make sure I am ready to fully embrace the festival. One was creating a pair of wine-themed ears and the second was creating a printable checklist of the tastiest sounding food and drink item offerings. Both of which I am going to share with you!

First, the ears. I found this fabric months ago at JoAnn and have been holding onto it, just waiting for the festival. I used the same method on these ears as I did in this tutorial here. I used a rhinestone trim for some extra sparkle and I am so loving how these guys came out!

The second thing I decided to make was a food and drink checklist. Last year I enjoyed hopping around to the different booths and trying random items, but I think I missed out on a lot of goodies because I didn’t have a clear plan of attack. So this year I created a list with both food and drinks to try and what booths I can find them at. This is a fraction of what is available at the festival, I just picked the yummies that sounded most appealing to me personally. There is a good chance I will try some additional items, but these are the ones I want to make sure I don’t miss. This is the list I came up with:

2017 food and wine festival checklist

If you would like to download the checklist and print one for yourself, click this link! I am going to be checking out the festival on Sunday, so make sure you are tuned in to my Instagram to see what delicious offerings I sample this weekend. And make sure you come back soon to get the full rundown from this yea’rs festival. Are you planning on attending the Food and Wine Festival? What do you most want to try?

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A Day Without a Woman

For me personally, one of the many pitfalls of the current American political situation is that I can’t seem to stay away from it. Despite several promises to stay off social media unless it pertains to work, I just can’t seem to tear myself away. And while some of the tweets and articles are uplifting (#resist), most of them aren’t. Earlier tonight I fell down the rabbit hole of #adaywithoutwomen and I was honestly just disgusted by what I was reading. Not going to lie, today’s protest was not well organized. I don’t think the message of the movement and the reasoning behind the protest was well articulated, and it certainly wasn’t communicated effectively. And just to be clear, I receive multiple newsletters from feminist organizations, and I didn’t feel super informed about the mission for the day until today. So I get that there is some confusion. I get that there is the feeling that this particular protest leaves out a lot of women who can’t afford to take a day off work (and again, that wasn’t the intention of the movement, it is more a result of a failure to communicate). But the amount of hate out there is sad. And it’s really sad that so much of it is coming from women, directed at women.

Just some of the gems I found while perusing Twitter, along with many claims that sexism doesn’t exist

I just don’t get it. The same thing happened after the march in January. I would have loved to have been able to attend the march, but Matt had to work, and I didn’t feel comfortable managing Squirt and a stroller by myself on what I knew would be standing room only public transportation. I didn’t have a lot of anxiety about Squirt being at the march itself, but I did have anxiety about managing a rowdy toddler on my own in a massive crowd. So I didn’t go. I made the best decision for me and my family (#feminism). Not one of my friends, colleagues, or peers put me down in any way shape or form for not going. But I did see plenty of people attacking those who did choose to go and march, many of them women. And it blew. my. mind. Trust me, I am so happy that there are women out there who have never been sexually harassed at work. I think it’s awesome that there are women who have never been made to feel less than because of their gender. I wish I were a woman who has never been made to feel ashamed of my body–because teachers, employers, family members, peers, and colleagues have been making me feel uncomfortable and sexualized in my own skin since I was twelve. So believe me when I say that I am thrilled that there are women out there who have never had to deal with even the most minor of sexually degrading comments. But trust me, you women saying you didn’t need the march because you are equal and have never been the victim of sexual discrimination, you are in the minority.

And just for the record, if you are a woman living in the United States, you are not equal. Period. According to the World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap Report, America is ranked 45 out of 144 countries when it comes to gender disparity. Ranked above us are several countries in Africa and South America, along with most of Europe. The report, for which research is conducted by an independent and non-partisan firm, looks at four major areas–healthcare, education, economy, and politics. The US is actually ranked number one in education (well, tied with 23 other countries for number one), which is great. We are 26 when it comes to economic participation and opportunity. When it comes to health, we are 62. This means that 61 other countries provide better access to healthcare to their female population than the United States. This area takes into account the mortality rate (breaking it down by specific causes of death), and also includes all maternity care, and damages done by incidents of domestic violence. The final area countries are scored in is politics, which is where we received our lowest ranking, 73. This score is based off of the number of female representatives (or in our case the lack of female representatives) in our government. So for those who choose to shoot down feminists in America because women in other countries “have it so much worse”…..um, not so much. Are there countries where it is worse? Duh. No one would argue with that. But we have a long way to go before men and women in America are “equal”. If you would like to check out the full report for yourself, here is the link to the Global Gender Report.

Okay, so maybe issues of healthcare, education, economics, and politics don’t matter to those tearing down and demeaning feminists. Let’s move on to sexual assault and rape. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five American women will be raped at some point in their lives. One in ten American women will be raped or assaulted by her partner or spouse. One in four girls will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. Rape is the most under-reported crime in America, with approximately 63% of cases not being reported to the police. Here are just a few reasons why victims choose not to report their rape to the police: they needed to protect themselves or others in their family from retaliation by the offender (especially prevalent since eight out of ten rape victims know their attacker), they believed the police would not believe them or help them, they felt it wasn’t important enough to report, and they didn’t want to get their attacker in trouble (RAINN). And here is what happens when victims do report: Out of 1000 rapes, 310 are reported to the police, 57 of those will lead to arrest, of which 11 cases will be turned over to prosecutors. From there, seven will be convicted of a felony, and SIX will do time. Let’s repeat that: FOR EVERY 1000 CASES OF RAPE, SIX WILL END WITH THE RAPIST SERVING TIME. Please see this link from RAINN for more information.

Last year many in the country, including conservatives, were up in arms (and rightly so) over the ridiculous sentence of Brock Turner, a college student convicted of rape. Though he legally could have been given up to ten years in prison for his crime, the judge instead sentenced him to six months. He was released after serving just three. We were all outraged. I don’t know a single woman who, during that week or so of social media blasting, said “Eh. It’s fine, he only deserved three months.” And yet, here we are just months later and women who are standing up for the rights of all women are being told that we are equal and we don’t have anything to fight for. Am I living in some sort of alternate universe? Because just a few months ago we were all demanding harsher sentencing for sexual assault, but now marching for women is whining? (For sources relating to Turner’s conviction, click here; for sources relating to Turner’s release, click here.)

So here’s the deal for today. My day is going to look much like any other. I work from home and run my own business, and I take care of my kid. I will still attend to my business because I need to. I will still take care of my kid because I need to. I won’t be doing any shopping or spending any money, and if I actually change out of my pajamas, I will be wearing red to show my support for the movement. If you are a woman and you decide to go to work today, I’m not going to yell at you or shame you because I trust that you are smart enough to make the right decision for you. However, if you are shaming women who decide to take part in the protest, then I’m probably gonna come at ya. Unless I can actually manage to stay off social media for the day (unlikely), in which case, I will probably have a peaceful day.

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What I Read: February

This post contains affiliate links.

So after a really good month of reading in January, February was kind of a let down. I read one really good book, one that was pretty good, and two that were just eh. So far March has been much better to me, but I want to share my Feb reads anyway, because it wasn’t all bad (hang in until the end for the good stuff!).

Home by Eleni McKnight: So I was asked by the author to read and review this book, which is something I try to do as often as possible for no charge other than a free copy of the book. According to every blogger and social media expert out there this is not something I should be doing as I am basically giving away my time and influence for free, but as someone who is hoping to become a published author at some point in the foreseeable future, I have a soft spot for new authors and I want to do what I can to help bring attention to books I love. Unfortunately, Home has a lot of problems and it screams new and inexperienced author. Honestly, if I weren’t reviewing it, I wouldn’t have finished. The story itself is awesome, it’s very dystopian, but also has a lot of religious cult themes that were interesting and not something I had read before. However, the book is riddled with spelling and grammar errors that render the book almost unreadable. We’re not talking typos, we’re talking straight up errors that any editor or proofreader (or author for that matter) should have caught and fixed before publishing. I had high hopes for this novel since I loved the idea behind it, but it was just not good.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell: I sooooo wanted to love this book. You all know how much I love my Disney (duh) but Aladdin in particular has a soft spot in my heart. It was always one of my favorites growing up, and it was the best production I ever directed, with some of my best kids ever, plus I am a huge fan of the Broadway musical. So it’s safe to say I love me some Aladdin. I really loved the idea behind this retelling (a lot of comparable political situations happening in this version of Agrabah and America right now) but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I was thrown off in the beginning at how similar the book was to the movie–like exact scenes and lines of dialogue. And I just never really got into it. Very disappointing because this is a series and I so wanted to read all of them, but now I don’t think I will read anymore. Sad.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman: After two disappointing reads, I really needed something to get me back in the swing of good reads and Legacy of Kings mostly did that. This is book one in a series mainly focusing on a teenage Alexander the Great. There are lots of mythology references in the book, which I enjoyed, and it is clear the author did a lot of historical research while prepping to write it (the author is actually known for her non-fiction books and you can see that in her fiction). In general, I really enjoyed this book. It has a good mix of action and adventure, with a bit of romance and magic thrown in for good measure. My main complaint about the book is that there are a lot of characters and it was hard in the beginning to keep everyone and their storyline straight in my head. But it got easier as the book went on, and I have already read the second book (recap coming next month) and will definitely pick up the third when it comes out.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: Okay, I know most people have already read this book, but I just picked it up and it was sooooo good! I blew threw this one in about two days and I loved all of it (though some of it was scary since my kid is almost ready for school). The basic premise follows a small group of kindergarten moms and a murder mystery and it is fascinating to watch the relationships between the moms, and to see how it affects the kids (again, scary). HBO is currently airing a mini series based on the book and I have only watched one episode so far, but it was just as good as the book. I already went out to buy more of Moriarty’s books and I can’t wait to read more by her.

Already, March has been a better reading month than February, but I am glad that I found a new series and an awesome new author. You’ll see more from both of them in next month’s recap. What are you reading right now?

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February Check In Plus March Goals

Well, friends, another month has flown by, and here we are, already six days into March! This past week I’ve been battling a nasty cough and cold which means I have basically accomplished nothing for the past few days and I am way behind. Bleh. Not a great way to start the month. I’m feeling a little bit better, and I know I gotta get back on the horse so that March is not totally lost for me! Before getting to my March goals, here’s a recap of how my February went (and I’m blaming my total lack of goal completion on the fact that it was a short month…):

February Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit. Nope. Still didn’t happen. Maybe this month?

–Contact hotel’s for Sister’s bachelorette party I actually did finish this task, only to have plans change.

–Organize tax info I made some tax progress, but I am not done yet, so still gotta work on this.

–Read four books. Check!

–Write 10k words in my novel Nope. Only knocked out about 4k. All in all, it was an uninspiring month for me, writing wise.

February’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14k        Facebook: 450        Twitter: 2k        Pinterest: 10k

Ugh, so after killing it in January on social media, I took a big hit this month and only met my Instagram goal. Here are my numbers as of today (which is technically already into March, but it still counts!):

Instagram: 14.2k       Facebook: 401       Twitter: 1845       Pinterest: 8485

Not such a great month, but time to move on and focus on March!

March Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Book at least two weddings

–Read five books

–Write 10k words in my novel

–Finish organizing tax info

–Make some time for relaxing as April is the beginning of wedding season

March’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14.4k      Facebook: 450      Twitter: 2000      Pinterest: 10k

Here’s hoping this past week’s setback is the only for this month! Time to move forward and kick some March butt!

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Hey Millenials, Newsies Should Be Our New Anthem

All right, so full disclosure here, folks. I am, technically speaking, a millenial. I’m sure not many would identify me as one, and given the yucky (and somewhat misplaced) stereotypes about the generation, I rarely identify myself as one. But the fact of the matter is that I am, in fact, a millenial. No, I don’t live on my mom’s couch. I didn’t get a whole bunch of participation trophies. And I certainly would never define myself as entitled. And as with many stereotypes, those traits don’t apply to the majority of millenials out there.

But enough of my millenial soapbox rant. And on to my other soapbox rant. If you follow me on social media, or are an avid reader of this blog (hey, thanks!) then you already know my standing on our current political situation. I did not vote for Trump, I think his policies are disgusting, and I have had a really hard time dealing with the people in my life who are Trump supporters. I have been in a serious funk when it comes to the state of the world since November, and it seems like every day there is something new to be depressed about.

However, with any crappy situation there comes a silver lining. This election and the resulting policies we have seen coming out of the White House so far seem to have sparked a fire in the young people of America. I know that I, along with many of my friends and peers, have become much more vocal politically in the past few months than I ever even imagined myself to be. From what I am seeing in my community, young people–many much younger than I am–are finding (and more importantly) using their voices and it has been inspiring to see.

 

Enter Newsies, because there are few situations in my life that I can’t directly relate to a Broadway musical. I saw the Broadway tour of Newsies when it came to LA and basically loved it. I also loved the movie it was based on (which many mills are too young to remember/appreciate). Earlier this month, Fathom Events released a filmed version of the musical in theaters, starring several members of the original cast. I saw it twice, and was even more blown away by this presentation than I was seeing the show in person. First, the OG cast members are outstanding. Jeremy Jordan is a gift from the heavens and his voice is so ridiculous it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. “Santa Fe” was always my least favorite song in the movie, but his version of it will knock your socks off. Add to that the fact that the Tony Award winning choreography is performed absolutely brilliantly by some of the best dancers I have ever seen, and it’s no surprise I fell in love with the show.

In addition to the draw of crazy talented boys dancing and singing beautifully, Newsies has a message that is so relevant for our generation today. The movie and musical are both based on a true story of a group of kids in 1899 who went on strike to protest the price increase of newspapers–lowering their already meager profits to non-livable wages. Here was a group of kids–most of them poor, many of them orphans and/or homeless–and they made a difference by standing up for their rights and taking on a fight with some of the wealthiest men in the country. And they won. The story is an amazing example of what can happen when a group of people–even (especially) young people–come together and stand as one.

I walked out of the theater both times that I saw the film version of the musical totally inspired and hopeful. It might seem like we are in a place where a lot of us don’t have a voice and aren’t being protected by our government, but we do have the power to make changes. Allowing our voices and our concerns to be heard is not going to go unnoticed, because whether the politicians want to acknowledge it or not, young people (millenials on down) have a large percentage of the votes, and I don’t doubt that 2020 is going to be the largest turnout of young voters in history. And we can make a difference and we can make a change. Over the next four years, we can make our voices heard at protests and town hall meetings, by calling and writing our reps and by showing up to vote in local and state elections. All of these are important actions for our generation to take.

There is one more showing in theaters of Newsies, and it is happening this Saturday, March 4. I encourage everyone, young and old, to make the trip to see it. Not only is it an entertaining production, but it will hopefully leave you feeling inspired to seize the day.

Here is just one of the totally fitting for today/inspirational quotes from the show: “Now is the time to seize the day/Stare down the odds and seize the day/Once we’ve begun, if we stand as one/Some day becomes somehow”.

Keep in mind, fellow mills, our voice is important, and what we have to say matters. And what we can do can make a difference. So turn up and turn out!

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How to Buy Wedding Gifts That Don’t Suck

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a discount, free product or monetary payment in exchange for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Well folks, by the end of this week, engagement season will officially be over, and that means wedding season is right around the corner. For those of you who are new to the blog, I am also a wedding coordinator (that’s my real job) and so every so often I like to share some of my wedding expertise with you. Today we are talking all about gift giving. Typically as the bride and groom, most of the gifting is going to be TO you, but there are some special gifts that do come FROM you as well. It is tradition for the bride and groom to buy small gifts for their bridesmaids and groomsmen as a way to say thank you for all of the time and effort (and money) they put in to being a part of your special day.

Etiquette wise, bridesmaid and groomsman gifts should be thoughtful and personal, and should NOT be something required for the wedding (like matching ties or jewelry). However, I think on the jewelry front there is some flexibility–if your gals will wear the pieces in real life, then go for the baubles all day. Sometimes it can be hard to find one gift that works for all of your bridal party, and that is why I love Uncommon Goods. I have been an Uncommon Goods shopper for years now (we have an awesome decanter and glass set that we got for our first anniversary from them) and I love so many things about their site. I love that they feature artists and crafters, I love that they care about the environment and focus on sustainability, and I love that they have some kickass products. These bridesmaids gifts are presents that any girl would love to receive! I for sure would wear a California necklace all the time, and that heart shaped umbrella is adorbs (and perfect if your wedding is going to be during the rainy season).

uncommon goods

While I love all the options featured on Uncommon Goods for bridesmaids (hello literary candles, yes please!), their groomsmen gifts are even more awesome. Those are Scotch infused toothpicks y’all. I mean, who came up with that amazing idea? And while cufflinks may seem like a pretty standard groomsmen gift, these ones are crafted from old NFL stadium seats. For a football fan, is there anything cooler than that?

uncommon goods

If you aren’t planning on tying the knot this wedding season, chances are you will be a guest at a wedding at some point, and Uncommon Goods has you covered there too. Any wedding gift that can be personalized is always a good idea, since it is unique and specific to the couple. My favorite is probably the personalized whiskey distiller (I wish I would have been able to get Matt that for our wedding!), but I am also OBSESSED with the neon California sign (and yes, they have other states too, though the Cali one is the best, obvs).

uncommon goods

If you haven’t visited Uncommon Goods site before, head over right now and check it out (though be prepared to spend some time sorting through all of the awesomeness). And if you aren’t a bride or groom and don’t have any weddings to go to this year, then buy something for yourself!

Are you an Uncommon Goods fan? What is your favorite piece from their site?

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