September 2016 - Monthly Favorites

 F A V O R I T E S

I haven't done a favorites post in awhile, and I feel like this month I discovered (or rediscovered) a lot of great things worth sharing. So without any further blabbing, here are my September favorites:

Pacifica Rainbow Top Coat- This month I was finally able to try out Pacifica nail polishes.When I first heard they were coming out with a line of polishes, I was instantly intrigued and I wanted to try them out. I initially thought Target would be carrying them, but they never did and in all honesty, the Pacifica selection at my local target is not only incredibly underwhelming, but its always a trashed mess. Earlier this month I was browsing Ulta and I came across the Pacifica polishes in store. I was excited to be able to actually see the shades in store rather than having to buy them online and picked up a bunch of shades to try out. I'm considering doing a stand alone post all about the Pacifica nail polish line, but the polish I absolutely loved this month was definitely the rainbow top coat. This polish is CRAZY!! It's a gorgeous shimmery, sort of duo-chrome-y super fine gray-toned iridescent top coat that goes on amazingly well with impressive coverage (how's that for a description??). I used a gray color underneath, but I don't know if I even needed to with the way this polish performs. It also lasts really, really well, and comes off easy with none of that regret that glitter polishes can cause when you're battling to take them off and going through half a packet of cotton rounds. This polish is a total win!

Wegmans Popcorn - Much to the discontent of my teeth, I really love popcorn. This is nothing new, but this month I've been really enjoying the organic bagged popcorn from Wegmans, that is made with Himalayan sea salt and olive oil. It's a more guilt free snack, is usually super fresh and perfectly oiled and salted. It's the perfect snack for my late night Golden Girls/Frasier sessions. Sometimes it is difficult to put the bag down, but hey, there's worse things to snack on! If you have a Wegmans near you, I suggest you try this stuff if you haven't already!

Alaffia Lavender Spice Soap - I really, really, really, hope this is not a seasonal item. If it is though, I'm going to want to stock up!!! Alaffia is one of my favorite brands and this soap is soooo good. The smell is just incredible and I can't get enough of it. It's also just a really decent soap and doesn't leave my hands feeling super dry. But seriously - it's the smell that wins here. Lavender is an alright scent on its own, but this pairing is cozy and smoky and perfect for Fall! It's also super affordable, and cruelty free!

Hedwig soundtrack from the movie - This is the music I've had on loop all month. I'm currently taking a course that explores cultural diversity through musicals, so I blame that class, but this is just a really great soundtrack. I would have loved to see Hedwig on the stage! My favorite song is definitely Origin of Love - it's an incredible epic told through song.

OCHO chocolatates - In a recent post, I discussed the world of chocolate and how I was going to try and purchase only fair trade chocolates. This month in my search for some good chocolate alternatives, I came across OCHO at Target. I picked up their coconut and peanut butter ones. The coconut ones are definitely the winners (No hate against the peanut butter). They're like a mounds bar with a conscience (one of my favorite chocolates). They're not only fair trade and organic, but they're also gluten free, which is great as I've given up gluten about a month ago. If you find yourself in a Target (who doesn't??), I suggest you give this brand a try!! They make some awesome chocolates and without any of the bag ju-ju associated with the chocolate industry!

Years by Bartholomäus Traubeck - I was listening to NPR earlier this month and they were discussion a man who had produced music through the use of tree rings from a variety of different woods in an Austrian forrest. Sounds crazy, right? Well, you've got to listen to this music! It's bizarre, haunting and just plain incredible. My favorite track is Picea (Ash).

Dinato DiCamillo photography - The photography this man creates is haunting, but in a good way. Dinato taught himself photography while he was incarcerated, and upon his release, has really honed his craft. I strongly urge you to check out his Instagram feed. He captures aspects of society which so many choose to ignore, or simply do not consider. His work is poignant.

 I'd love to know what you enjoyed this month - I welcome you to leave your favorites in the comments! 


Monday Fall Premieres - Big Bang Theory & Kevin Can Wait (No Spoilers)

I'm not sure how clear I've made this so far on the blog, but I love TV. Seriously. I really really love TV. I'm not a movie girl really, but I can binge watch TV for hours. Honestly, I used to feel embarrassed for how much I can get into a TV show but I've tried to shed the self-judgement. I'm a total fan girl when I really like a show. Tonight were the first season premieres of the season for me, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on the two show that I watched tonight: The Big Bang Theory, and Kevin Can Wait.

The Big Bang Theory - For some reason, this show gets a lot of hate, and I truly don't get it. I love this show. It's funny, it's nerdy, it's got that sitcom cheese that I love. It hits all the marks for me personally, and even now in its tenth season, it still has me laughing out loud. Tonight's premiere, did just that. There were plenty of great quips going back and forth among the characters and the show had the comfortable feel that I've gotten used to over the many years of being a loyal fan. I can't wait to see where this season takes us (and it'd be great if CBS would keep it on Mondays!!). 10/10

Kevin Can Wait - Kevin Can Wait was a series premiere of a new sitcom featuring a family headed by Kevin James. I absolutely loved watching The King of Queens, and have been a fan of Kevin James ever since. I was excited to see that Kevin had a new sitcom in the works and made a reminder to check out the pilot when it aired. So tonight I sat down to watch Kevin James and his make believe family yet again. I wanted to like this show, and I'm hoping that since it was a pilot, that maybe the first episode was merely a bumpy ride. Kevin's character was the glue that held this show together and without him, I think it would have really been a big fail. In general, the show felt like more of an ABC/Disney esque show (take that as you will), rather than a prime-time sitcom. In general, it just felt too cheese and fell flat for me. I'll likely give it another chance, but so far it's not so great... 4/10 



Sweet Tooth: The cost of Chocolate.

I love chocolate. Despite my sensitive teeth, I really, really love chocolate. I like to bake with it, I like chocolate ice cream…. hot cocoa, chocolate bars…. Chocolate chip pancakes, banana bread with chocolate (I love excuses to add chocolate to recipes!)… you name it! However, with that being said, I also have a conscience and I am aware that not all chocolate is full of good juju. Unfortunately, a lot of the mainstream chocolate available is produced through very questionable means. It is estimated that about 160,000 slaves work for the cocoa industry in Ivory Coast, a popular region for cocoa growing in Africa, and a source for many large chocolate companies. It might be 2016, but slavery is still very much a problem within our global society. The chocolate industry is just one of many who rely on such labor. Given that chocolate is such a popular product, and one, which I happen to love; I wanted to explore the issue deeper.

As a bit of a chocolate addict, I have tried a few different fair trade certified chocolate products in the past. I understood the basic premise and benefit that comes from the fair trade seal, but I hadn’t really understood the full picture of what it can mean when the chocolate I purchase isn’t fair trade. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to try and do good in every choice, and purchase that you make and I’ll admit that there are many aspects of my life in which I fail. We’re all human though and there is always room to evolve and improve. We can do better. We should do better.

Unfortunately much of the chocolate that I do purchase on a regular basis, comes from brands that source their chocolate from places like the Ivory coast, and are not fair trade or organic (which also prohibits the use of slave labor). Some companies have committed to sourcing fair trade in the future, like Hershey’s who says they will have fair trade chocolate by 2020, but here’s my question: If others can do it now, and are doing it now, why can’t they? Why must we wait another four years before they commit to eradicating slave labor from their products? I’ve also found it interesting that there are many companies (like Cadbury and Mars) for example, which offer some fair trade options in other countries (like in the UK) that are fair trade, but not within the US market. That one just seems wrong to me…

See, we don’t need chocolate to survive (though trust me, there are many instance in which I have truly felt that way). We may love it, but we can live without it, so it can be argued that we can pledge to buy fair trade chocolate because when we don’t, we are support child slave labor, violence, corrupt practices and greed. I know now every battle can be won, and sometimes it can feel like a losing battle. But no $0.99 bar of chocolate is worth the child labor – slave labor that is often involved. At least not in my opinion.

According to Fair Trade USA, “Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price, allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor.” Fair trade benefits the farmer, the worker, and the consumer. It allows us to purchase chocolate guilt-free.

It might be difficult to let go of some of your favorite chocolates, but I encourage you to try and accept the challenge of doing so. It can be done. Need some inspiration? The Harry Potter Alliance challenge Warner Brothers when they found out that the Chocolate Frogs they sold weren't produced fair trade. They felt that the idea of slave labor, specifically child labor, went against everything that Harry stood for (which, it does). Through hard work they eventually got Warner Brothers to commit to fair trade chocolate frogs. Change is possible and voting with your dollar can make quite the impact!

So from now on, I am going to do everything I can to only purchase fair trade, or organic chocolate. I will think twice before I purchase from companies which I know to be offenders.  Looking for some brands that are fair trade? This post provides 17 companies which are fair trade. If you've got some favorites, I'd love to hear them in the comments!



I remember when I was younger, my grandfather used to ask me if I wanted to help him go campaigning. I don’t remember what age I was exactly, but I remember going door-to-door with pamphlets for Chuck Schumer for representative.  This was before his time in the Senate, and following his work as a New York Assemblyman. I remember the pride, and the importance that my grandfather held in working on Schumer’s campaign, and all of the other political endeavors he became involved with over the years. There were many trips to Albany…and to Washington D.C. in his lifetime. There were other door-to-door adventures as well. In his downtime, there were political books – biographies and political memoirs.

At home, my mother has always been outspoken when it comes to politics. My sister, mother and I are essentially the black sheep in our family as we are proud democrats in a family of ultra-conservatives. I have no shame in this fact, but instead pride. I am proud to have voted for President Obama twice. I remember during Obama’s first election campaign, I was working in a small town retail store, and I felt like I again, was out of place in my political leanings. I specifically remember our boss saying that if Obama won, that he would have no choice but to fire people. I’m not sure if that was just an overdramatic reaction to his (Obama’s) supposed threat to the economy as many conservatives claimed, or if it was merely in response to anyone supporting the candidate he very vehemently did not. The day after the election, which was my first voting experience, I remember my boss shuffling around angrily; and the excitement and happiness that I felt (and perhaps a level of satisfaction at my bosses disappointment...).

During Obama’s reelection campaign, I again felt out of place as I was attending a community college in a rural conservative town. Nevertheless, I did not hide my support. I had a sign on my lawn, and stickers plastered on my car. The evening of the election, my sister and I had a little viewing party together as we watched election coverage. We cheered and blared Bruce Springsteen’s We Take Care of Our Own perhaps a bit too loudly. It was an exciting evening!

Fast forward to this election cycle, I can safely say that it is unlike anything I have experienced or seen. I follow politics regularly, whether it is an election year or not, and this election has at many points felt like we are being punked, or like a caricature of reality. As a liberal democrat, it is not strange for me to find what a republican says as out there or idiotic, but this election cycle has made me feel like republicans of the past, were completely grounded, and sane individuals. Donald Trump however, is a bigoted, racist, bullying asshole with an apparent Napoleon complex.

While the republicans were running their 20 ring circus during the primary season, the democrats were divided primarily between two individuals: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I liked Bernie. I donated to Bernie. I voted for Bernie in the primary. However, I can honestly say, that there were many areas in which I did not feel like he was the ideal candidate for the general election, or the presidency. I live in New York State – so I knew that Hillary was going to win, regardless of whether I gave her my primary vote or not. I liked much of what Bernie stood for, and I felt like giving him my vote, was in some small way, saying something. With that being said, I can confidently say that I have no issues, with supporting Hillary Clinton. I am a proud and excited Hillary supporter. 

There isn’t too much point to sharing this little story other than to say, that I am with her. I am proudly with her. I am not going to hide my support for her. I don’t like that there are Clinton supporters being shamed for their support of her – from both sides. There are still people who say they will vote for Bernie. Something I do not understand, or see as anything that will help matters. I think we are at a point where voting for anyone other that Hillary Clinton (don’t even get my started on Jill Stein), is a vote for Donald Trump. It is a vote for hate and bigotry. For sexism. For billionaires. It is a vote for the white supremacists that support, and now – even run his campaign. This is 2016 – I should not have even had to write that last sentence. 

So with all that being said, I will say it again: I am with her. If that offends you, then this absolutely is not the blog for you. I will not make apologies. If you’d like to have CIVIL conversation, or talk about why you are also, with her, then by all means – share your thoughts in the comments!! 



Elizabeth Warren - A Fighting Chance (Review)


I debated (ha, get it?) whether or not I wanted to do a review of this book. I don't think it is any surprise that I am as blue as a person can get when it comes to politics, but I wasn't sure I wanted to write a review that would be like standing with a bull horn in terms of letting my politics be known. In the end, I obviously decided to hell with any concern I had...I welcome any civil discussion in the comments...just remember that key word: CIVIL!!

First off I have to say that I was surprised when I saw this book prominently displayed at my local library. I live in a very, very conservative town and I often joke that our house is where they contain all the liberals. So seeing a book like this displayed caught me off guard and I of course, picked it up right away!

In A Fighting Chance, Warren gives a linear telling of both her personal life, as well as how she came to be a senior senator for Massachusetts. I have watched Warren on television for years now and remember watching her senate race against Scott Brown with my fingers crossed. Thankfully, she won and we have watched her go on to create even more noise in the United States Senate.

Before reading her book, I know that I liked Elizabeth Warren, but that was based on the small bits and pieces I knew from her political career. I really knew little about her personally so I picked up this book partially because I liked Warren, but also because I wanted to learn more about her. I honestly, didn't know what to expect from her book and this might actually be the first book I have read by a politician so I was feeling a mix of intrigue and hesitancy going in. I remember my grandfather used to love reading political biographies so I figured there had to be something there to like (I think I can say with great certainty that my grandfather would have loved Warren as well)!

Reading about Warren's life was fascinating. I find that I often enjoy biographical books and hers was no exception. From early on in her life, she often challenged the normative expectations laid out in front of her and I appreciated that. While she struggled with balancing what was expected from her as a woman and from her family, she never gave up on her dreams and found ways to trudge on with her own personal goals, even when doing so made her feel guilty.

"The women's movement was exploding around the country, but not in our quiet New Jersey suburb and certainly not in our little family. I wanted to be a good wife and mother, but I wanted to do something more. I felt deeply ashamed that I didn't want to stay full-time with my cheerful, adorable daughter." 

She grappled with being pulled in different directions and went on to be quite successful as a professor, and then working in Washington as a loud advocate for the American consumer in many ways. I enjoyed how Warren tackled the stigma associated to such challenges as bankruptcy, as she took on adversaries like big banks. She understands that not all individuals who find themselves in dire straights financially, are bad people and steered away from the victim blaming that often occurs.

I loved how her book was balanced with stories from her personal life and of her career - both of which were filled with many challenges and triumphs. Oh, and she's a dog person - so that absolutely won some points! ;) I think her book can easily be labeled as inspiring and it only furthered my support for Warren.

I also enjoyed reading about her campaign for senate and found that she made some points that could be incredibly applicable now, in this current political climate. She touches on the sexism that is still alive and well within our society, particularly within politics. During a conversation with Mandy Grunwald, Grunwald makes the comment that,

"It happens with every woman. People have to talk about how she looks before they can talk about what she says." 

This bit made me think about the endless line of comments that are made regarding Hillary Clinton. We comment on her hair, or on what she is wearing... (I'm guilty of doing so...), often before we look at her credibility on any other scale. Her campaign has even utilized this by making campaign merchandise that gives a nod to her infamous pant suits.

Warren also made some important remarks in terms of the idea that people need to band together. Throughout her campaign, the idea of working together was ever present but it seems that this idea really told hold even more after she spoke at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

"When we fight, we can win. And when we get really fired up and fight shoulder to shoulder, we can do some pretty amazing things." 

Given our current political climate, I feel like this is a very important idea to try and take hold of. I also am aware that it can be a difficult message to appreciate. With so much tension within parties, it can be difficult for some to understand the power, and the importance of coming together. I hope that we see a shift, and that people start to band together - I won't doubt that Warren will help us to achieve that.

Overall I can easily say that I enjoyed reading A Fighting Chance and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who might have the slightest bit of interest in learning more about her.

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