Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Anthology Candles

Today I am reviewing products from Anthology Candles, a company owned by Rheney Williams and her husband Stephen.  Their soy products are whimsically inspired by music, movies, & books.  Keep reading for information on their candles, mini candles, & wax tarts.  My Youtube review video will be posted at the end for those of you who want to see the products in action.

Candles | $16.00

The top white layer is clean river water; the middle lavender layer is a floral blend; and the bottom purple layer is a mixture of flowers & water.  There is no need to burn the candle down to smell each layer; it immediately smells clean and floral.  If you like strongly scented candles that fill a room within minutes, this is not the product for you.  It took an hour for me to smell the scent, and even then I had to remain within a foot or two to enjoy it.  Once it is burnt, the candle’s scent is hidden by the smell of burnt wick.  As time goes on, the scent comes back and gets stronger.  The draw of this candle is definitely the aesthetic.  The design, inspired by the lantern scene in the Disney film Tangled, is spot on.  The white wax becomes transparent when burning and makes the candle appear as though it is a lantern.  The effect is mesmerizing!  If you are planning a Tangled party, think about investing in these candles and creating your very own “Floating Lanterns” scene.

• Find the candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/candles

Mini Candles | $14 per sampler pack

Instead of purchasing more big candles, I got a sampler pack of four mini candles.  Belle’s Library is aged library books, hint of leather, & wild roses.  To me, it smells nutty with a hint of rose.  My nose is obviously confusing the smell of old books for nuts.  I don’t know of any other way to describe it.  It just smells nutty!  Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is bakery cakes with vanilla icing, chamomile tea, and a twist of cinnamon.  I do smell cinnamon and occasionally vanilla but mostly an icee.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s true!  Part of Your World is crisp coastal breeze & warm golden sand.  I smell a blend of vanilla & flowers, and the strength of the scent reminds me of Bath & Body Works products.  Tink’s Flight is fresh verbena, sweet coconut, & tangy lime.  I smell every single one of those notes.  The scent is sweet & sour just like Tinker Bell.  Time for the bad news.  The wicks are folded down in the packaging so when it comes time to light them, zip zilch NADA!  I had to trim the wicks a little bit and wipe them gently with a paper towel; I wasted a lot of matches before finally getting flames.  Once lit, the candles look pretty but don’t smell at all.  These sampler candles are fine if you plan on testing the scents without flame.  It might be a better investment to know what scents you like and buy a few big candles.

• Find the mini candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/sample-packs

Wax Tarts | $25 for 4 different scents

* Note: Wax tarts are cubes of scent-infused wax.  Once placed in a warmer (e.g. Scentsy), the heat melts the wax and releases the scent.

I bought one sampler and received four different wax tarts.  Rivendell is amber, oakmoss, twilight woods, & woodland foliage.  I wish I could tell you that my dream of being a Middle Earth elf was fulfilled by this product.  Alas, it smells like play-doh, and the warmer is no help at all.  However, due to circumstances I cannot explain, the scent is improving.  There is hope yet!  Soaring Over is orange blossoms, orange groves, and salty sea breeze.  The scent is inspired by the Disney park ride Soaring Over California.  It smells of oranges and takes me right back to my childhood in Orange County.  The Black Pearl is cannonball smoke, mildewy wood, musty “pirates” water, & salty sea breeze.  I did not like this funky scent at first.  All you smell is must, mildew, and smoke.  Surprise of the year, it smells much more pleasant in the warmer.  If you aren’t into scents that are clean, floral, and/or sweet, this scent might float your boat (get it?!).  Wilderness Lodge is campfire and a forest tree mix of juniper, pine, & spruce.  This spicy forest scent will be p-e-r-f-e-c-t for Christmastime.  Overall, I am very happy with the scents I purchased.  However, much like the candles, it takes an hour or more for the scent to be recognizable, and it does not fill the room; you have to be within a few feet of the warmer to enjoy the scent.

* Rivendell scent description courtesy of http://ritareviews.net/2015/11/anthology-candles-spotlight-lord-of-the-rings/ *

• Find the wax tarts here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/wax-tarts

Conclusion:

The novelty of Anthology Candles is attractive.  I would recommend their products for two things:

1. The candles and wax tarts are best enjoyed in close proximity (e.g. bedside table or living room side table).

2. I have seen the candles used as decor all over Instagram, especially on bookshelves.

My overall experience was good.  There are only a few changes I would suggest.

1. There are descriptions on the website for the candles but not the wax tarts.  This works out fine if the wax tart happens to have a candle, but if it doesn’t, there is no way of knowing what the scent is.  Also, the packaging gives no indication of the scent.

2. The mini candle sampler packs are not customizable.  There are three packs available, each with a set group of candles.  I am not sure of the possible complications, but it would be nice to have a customization option in the future.

3. The wax tarts can only be purchased in groups of four.  Once again, a customization option would be nice in the future.

4. These products would be much more enjoyable and worth the money if the scents were stronger.

• My review video:

• If you’re interested in more information on Anthology Candles, here are some links to get you started:

Article – http://ritareviews.net/2015/10/the-craft-behind-the-candles-by-rheney-williams/

Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnthologyCandles

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anthologycandles/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/anthologycandles/?hl=en

Twitter – https://twitter.com/anthologycandle

Website – https://anthologycandles.com

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Happy Birthday Pixar! | Part 1

The official 30th birthday of Pixar was February 3rd, but the celebration is lasting all year long.  Let’s throw our own “party” readers.  I’m going to answer some Pixar-related questions.  Feel free to participate and leave your own answers in the comment section below. :)

– Favorite Movie –

(I’m counting both of these movies as one)  I have been touched emotionally by a lot of Pixar movies, the “Toy Story” series being at the top of the list.  However, there is something so unique and mesmerizing about the concept and execution of “Monsters Inc” and “Monsters University.”  Also, the relationship between Sully, Mike, & Boo never ceases to tug at my heartstrings.

Video Source: https://youtu.be/6tCxnHCqqxg

Video Source: https://youtu.be/xBzPioph8CI

– Favorite Character(s) –

Mike Wazowski is stubborn.  No matter how many times he gets knocked down and told no, he gets back up and finds a way.  Woody hates change, but once he lets you into his heart, he never lets go.  Mike is a fighter, and Woody is a friend; I’d like to think those two labels describe me as well. 💖

– Favorite Scene –

I just watched this scene on Youtube and cried.  It gets me every time!!  😭  I think this scene affects me so deeply because I said a final goodbye to childhood within the past 4 years.  My childhood wasn’t perfect, but I can say with confidence that I pushed my imagination to infinity and beyond. ;)  Some people may not understand, but it was very hard for me when I started giving away my movies and toys.  I cried giving away my “Blue’s Clues” movies, not because I wanted to keep them but rather I truly cherished every piece of knowledge I had gained through that TV program.  When I sold my barbies, I took the time to clean them up and make them look nice because they had given me so many adventures; I wanted the next child to have the same experiences.  I still feel stuck in a transition period.  I am constantly listening to old songs and drowning myself in nostalgia.  Never be embarrassed to step back in time in order to feel happy. :)

– Favorite Song –

No contest!  “Life is a Highway” from “Cars.”  I dare you to watch the movie and resist the urge to sing along. 🎶

“There’s no load I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Just tell ’em we’re survivors.”

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tXh_MfrMe0

Happy Birthday Pixar Part 2 – Happy Birthday Pixar! | Part 2

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January 2016 Favorites

Hello readers!  Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite event & products from January 2016.  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

– Riverdance –

Being the totally awesome parent that he is, my dad bought tickets to a 20th anniversary performance of Riverdance.  The seats were one row back from the stage!!  Unfortunately he got sick, but my mom sacrificed and took his place. ;)  It was my fifth time seeing the show, and I still got emotional.  It was absolutely incredible sitting so close and seeing the emotion and camaraderie between the dancers.

– Seared Ahi Spinach Salad –

After the performance, my mother and I had a lovely dinner at Claim Jumper.  Having said that, NEVER eat dinner at a mall on a Saturday.  The restaurant was across the street from the theater, and by the time we ate, the show had been over for three hours.  However, the salad I had was amazing and worth the wait.  Here is a list of ingredients for those of you who desire such details: ahi tuna, crunchy noodles, red onions, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, feta cheese, glazed pecans, sesame seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Everybody in my church subconsciously decided to make tamales and give them to my family at the same time.  I dove in headfirst and never looked back.  I want to clarify that my newfound appreciation is directed towards one specific variation: tamales with olives.  My Mediterranean blood compels me to love olives, and I do.  Tamales with olives are muy delicioso!

– Plantain Chips –

Plantain chips are the bee’s knees, and I want the world to know it.  They are crunchy like dried banana but savory like chips.  I recommend the lightly salted Pampa plantain chips because I strongly dislike heavily salted foods.

– Winterberry Wonder Lotion –

This delightfully scented concoction was a Christmas gift, and it has been my go-to lotion ever since.  The keynotes are red winterberry, ruby apple, sparkling cranberry, snowkissed camellia, and crystal vanilla.  It smells mostly floral with hints of berry and apple.  Call me crazy but I almost always smell a hint of watermelon in Bath & Body Works lotions, this product included.

– English Lavender Linen Spray –

I struggle with insomnia, and one of the commonly known remedies is lavender.  I researched and found several different products but ultimately decided to give the spray a try.  Even though this spray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond isn’t made specifically for insomnia, it works.  The scent is distinctly lavender and very fresh.  I spray it all over my pillow and bed right before going to sleep.  Sometimes I read a book post-spray, another helpful trick for treating insomnia.

– Fragrant Jewels Candles –

I bought these candles to review the company for my Youtube channel.  Even though the draw of this company was the rings hidden inside the products, I ended up loving the candles.  The Frosted Gingerbread candle is spicy, and the Winter candle is woodsy.  They can burn for up to four hours at a time, and the scent is detectable within a few minutes.  For more information, watch my video:

– Soda Scribe Womens Booties –

I wore these boots to work on New Year’s Day and received so many compliments.  They are comfortable and look great with or without socks/tights.

– Adult Coloring Book & Colored Pencils –

 

I’ve been wanting an adult coloring book for a long time and used a recent family trip to Barnes & Noble as my chance to get one.  It was a little embarrassing paying for a coloring book and colored pencils, but I got over my pride and did it.  I can already tell this book will last me a lifetime because I haven’t even finished half a picture yet.  Coloring is relaxing and a great creative outlet, and I highly recommend you give it a try. :D

– “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall –

I’ve already discussed this series on this blog so all I will say is this series is fantastic and impossible to put down.

“I live in a home full of strict rules, even for an Old Order Amish family. My Daed doesn’t believe in allowing our tradition of a rumschpringe. At its best, the running around years is meant as a time of extra freedoms that gives singles an opportunity to find a spouse. But sometimes young people take advantage of it, so my Daed all but forbids.  Still, I have found love, and even though Paul isn’t Amish, I know that if I spent a lifetime looking, I’d never find a better man. He’s gentle and kind, and his sense of humor is every bit as strong as his sense of responsibility.  But if my Daed knew of our friendship, he’d put an end to it, and I’d be grounded from stepping off the farm for even a stroll for months, maybe a year.  Paul leaves Owl’s Perch each fall, and even though he writes me letters and sends them to his grandmother’s house, he’s never hinted at how he feels beyond friendship.  Despite my Daed, despite that I’m only seventeen, despite that Paul goes away to a sea of girls each year, I choose to believe that he cares for me like I do him, and that love will find a way for us.”

– “Child Genius” –

Does anyone else love this TV show?  I have been watching it since the first season, and the kids never cease to amaze me with their knowledge.  The premise is children with high IQs competing for the title of “Child Genius.”  Every episode features two rounds, each focused on a different subject such as math, history, or logic.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/child-genius

– “The Bletchley Circle” –

I am in love with this miniseries!  Netflix recommended it to me.  The show follows a group of codebreakers post-WWII.  Once the war ended they were required to move on with their lives without telling anyone what they had done.  They find themselves brought back together by circumstance in order to solve a crime; this occurs three times.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.pbs.org/program/bletchley-circle/

– “Dance Academy” –

I have watched this show at least three times all the way through.  It is definitely one of my favorite TV shows of ALL time.  WOW!  That’s a bold statement.  I relate to this show on a deep emotional level because of my dance background.  I understand the family-like bonds that develop and the struggles that come with being an aspiring professional dancer.  On top of all that, it’s a great show.  All three seasons are currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1551948/

– “Gossip Girl” –

I realize that I am way late to the “Gossip Girl” party but better late than never.  I’m not that far into the first season, but I like it.  It’s a good show to turn on when I have hours of work to get through.  The show follows the drama surrounding a group of wealthy teenagers living in Manhattan.  It is currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397442/

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2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

Hello readers!  If you reside in a part of the world that is currently snowed in, allow me to bring up the topic of books and lift your spirits.  I am very proud to announce that I have completed 2 out of 12 categories in the 2016 Reading Challenge.

This series is flawless!  Ms. Woodsmall took on the delicate subject of rape and succeeded in telling a story that is candid but comfortable to read and engaging.

“Hannah Lapp was born and raised in an Old Order Amish home, without electricity, a telephone, or the right to follow her heart. Without her parents’ knowledge, she’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for years. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, even though to do so will cause her family to avoid her for the rest of her life.  Before Hannah and Paul reveal their relationship, tragedy strikes. In one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed and she faces losing everything: her family, her fiancé, and even her faith in God.”

 

Because I overwatched the movie as a child, it is not high on my list these days.  I was not sure I would enjoy the book, but I am so glad I was wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed every single page and would love to finish the series.

Let’s revisit my list to see the progress:

• Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

✔️ Finish in a Day – “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

• Meaning to Read – “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson

• Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket | “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

• Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

• Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

• Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

• Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

• Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

• Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

✔️ Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall

Are you participating in the challenge?  What are you currently reading?  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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The Fickle and The Faithful

(Image Source: http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc6ohtA7MX1qbhmovo9_1280.jpg)

Once again I find myself blogging early in the morning about a not-so-pleasant subject.  But, it must be done because bottled up emotions are never a good thing.  This morning I am venting about fickle friends.  OOOOOHHHHH SNAP!!!!!  You are probably thinking I am  calling out someone specific.  These thoughts are inspired by personal experiences, but I am speaking generally.  The first thing I want to address is this:  Everyone has been a fickle friend at one time.  Do not beat yourself up if you have thought badly of a friend, gossiped, yelled, or been physically mean.  Those things are terrible, but what truly matters is your heart and what you do to make things right.  Friendship is a two-way street; if all persons involved are willing to trust one another and fight together, that relationship will last.

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  – Proverbs 18:24

I have lost more than a handful of friends during my twenty-two years of life.  I have grown a thick skin and would even say I have a certain amount of bitterness in my heart towards friendships.  However, I would be lying if I said that losing friends does not hurt me in the slightest.  No one should ever feel like they are convenient for another person.  “Our parents know each other.”  “We do the same activity together week after week, year after year.”  “We go to the same school and attend the same classes.”  I know what it feels like to have compartmentalized friendships.  Once those “compartments” are no longer part of your life, the friendships eventually fade away.  Why?  The convenience is gone, and suddenly the friendships requires effort in order to last.  It hurts to share secrets and fears with someone for a significant number of years, and then one day find yourself on the outside looking in at their life.  No matter how high your walls are and how thick your armor is, the pain of losing a friend will find its way to your heart and sting.  I want to encourage those of you who have had similar experiences and/or feel like you have no friends.  You are not alone!  Do not give up on yourself!  The only people you need in your life are the people who want to be there.  I know this has been said a million times in a million different forms, but it is the truth.  I would rather have one genuine, through-thick-and-thin friend than numerous fake friends.

*** Cue the friendship quotes and gifs!!

My best friend Gabby :) :D :P

My brother John <3 <3 <3

(Source: http://www.prettydesigns.com/25-friendship-quotes-for-summer/)

This is just for laughs because I actually hate hugs.  LOL!

(Image Source: http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llizvp2ILY1qfyncko1_500.gif)

*Tears*  Disney for the win!

(Image Source: https://38.media.tumblr.com/1a6aa6fb37763f6a3b2ff96d7a581597/tumblr_mm3bbne7R21so67mao1_500.gif)

I hope you feel encouraged.  I will “see” you very soon.  Feel free to leave comments and thoughts below.

Cherish your true friends and no matter what, be a friend readers!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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