I have been getting Birchbox for some time now and I LOVE it. The only thing is that I prefer natural products. If you are like me then you may want to check out this alternative. Go to You can read all about it and sign up.

It is $16 per month, which is a bit more than Birchbox, but good natural products are always more expensive. One thing I really like is that they also have a bi-monthly option.

I haven’t tried this box yet, but I would love to hear from those that have. I heard about it and thought that I should share.

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For those of you who haven’t heard of it already Birchbox is great!

Basically, for $10 per month Birchbox sends you a box each month full of sample-sized high end beauty products. I’m always excited when I get mine!

It’s great fun to try the various products out, and I have discovered some products that I really love. They will also send you an additional surprise type product. One time I got chocolate macaroons (which I didn’t care for), another time a cute nail file, and some great hair clips most recently.

The only con is that it is not as customizable as I’d like. When you sign up they do ask you what you like, what type of products you prefer, etc. But, you cannot opt out of a particular type of product. For example, I don’t like perfume and I never wear it. Also, they will send shades of lip gloss that I would never wear. When I get those, I just set them aside unopened. I pass these products on as gifts to friends who do like those colors, scents, etc.  One thing that is nice though about this system is that at times it pushes me beyond my comfort zone and I try things that I never would have pulled off the shelf. Sometimes this leads to a new love for a specific type of product.

If you want to try it you can check it out here:

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Greatest Idea Ever – Crockpot Freezer Meals!

My boyfriend used to constantly bring up the idea of batch cooking. His idea, we hire a chef for the day and this chef will cook up huge batches of different foods. We will freeze most and keep some in the fridge, then throughout the month, we can pull food out of the freezer as we need it.

While I loved the idea of hiring a chef (or even someone who can cook well for the day), I wasn’t so crazy about having everything pre-made and just grabbing it from the freezer.

I am the kind of person who REALLY appreciates a hot fresh meal (and I don’t mean one that just came from the microwave). Then I came up with a brilliant idea. Crockpot freezer meals…I’ll explain more below.

I was already in love with the crockpot by this time. Crockpots are amazing because you throw the food in and walk away. Hours later your food is ready. You get a delicious hot meal, with a minimum of effort.

So what was my great idea?

Crockpot Freezer Meals: You prepare all the ingredients for various recipes and then put them in a large ziploc bag in the freezer. Then the day you want to use that recipe, you simply pull out the bag and dump the contents in the crockpot. Let it cook and viola, you have a fabulous hot meal and leftovers.

Well, I searched online, and it turns out I wasn’t the first one to have this idea. In fact, I found two other women blogging about of it (and many, many more as I continued looking). One of them even made their own cookbook based on the idea. I promptly bought that and used it for my first experiment. Note: If you buy her cookbook make sure you read the intro, she explains how things are organized (example, most recipes make 2 batches, not 1).

I froze three recipes from the book (2 batches of each). I have tried two of the recipes and they were both good.



Here are some other websites I found that use this same idea. (Note: I have never used these websites):

I am excited about this new way of cooking and managing meals. I will detail the actual process I followed in later posts.

Happy Cooking!


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Money – Retiring Young

My boyfriend loves making money, saving money, running businesses, etc. I, on the other hand, work at the job I love – because I love it. I pay my own way, but I am certainly not “killing it.”

Recently, my boyfriend came across a blog He started reading me blog posts. I would often find myself laughing through these short articles and inevitably taking something positive away from what Mr. Money Mustache said.

I have found myself addicted to Mr. Money Mustache or MMM. Part of my morning routing includes whipping out my phone, Nook or computer and reading a post or two (or three or four).  He has changed the way I look at certain things money-wise. Though I am not living the lifestyle Mr. Money Mustache teaches, I do find his words inspiring and I take much from what he says.

Here is the standard starter post:

WARNING: If you find profanity of any type offensive, Mr Money Mustahce is not for you, he is down to earth, funny and includes a heaping dose of swear words as he deems appropriate.

Here are some of my favorite articles:


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History’s Mysteries: Secret Societies

History's Mysteries

History’s Mysteries: Secret Societies is a documentary done by the History Channel.

I have heard of various secret societies throughout my life and have found it vaguely interesting. I think the books and movies for the DaVinci Code have brought more attention to the existence of secret societies. When I saw this documentary, I decided to watch it out of curiosity.

I wasn’t very impressed by this documentary. Usually, I think that the History Channel does a great job. However, I didn’t feel like this documentary uncovered any mysteries – except now I know that the Bilderberg & Skull & Bones group exists. When the documentary ended, I thought “Really? That’s all.”

One thing that was interesting was the fact that secret societies have been in existence for a very very long time. Also, the documentary showed just how many influential people in the world and in the US are part of these societies – which is a sort of interesting and, in my opinion, scary fact. If you have never heard of any secret societies this would be a good documentary to watch as an introduction.

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Craigslist Joe – Documentary


Craigslist Joe is a documentary about one man’s quest to see if technology can be used to bring a sense of community. Basically, he sheds all money, connections, etc. He gets a new phone number and e-mail address. The rules, he has to survive over the next 31 days off of contacts and kindness from people on Craigslist. “Joe” challenges the idea that all strangers are dangerous and proves that there are people out there with kindness and caring in their hearts and who can in fact be trusted.

While the premise of the documentary is interesting, it sort of drags on and on. I would have loved to watch a 10 to 20 minute video. However, I am glad I watched it because it is an out of the box, daring concept.

What truly impressed me about Joe was his ability to admire others, not matter how strange or unusual their practices, attitudes or ideas were. He never belittles or made less of anyone and he always went out of his way to help others. He seems like a good person.

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Fresh – The Documentary


I have watched various different documentaries about the problems of industrialized farming and the problem has become more and more real to me. After watching Hungry for Change (I blogged about that one too.) I started adding more vegetables in my diet.

Fresh, approached the problem of the food in America from a different angle. Fresh shows the successful actions of the sustainable and organic farmers. It shows what they do and how it maximizes the use of their land. Something that was very interesting to me, was the fact that growing different types of crops and raising different types of animals greatly reduces disease etc. The intelligence and creativity of the farmers, or at least those who originally designed the system floored me.

This film was more inspiring than upsetting. Food, INC for example is more scary and upsetting than uplifting. Food, INC gives you the hard truth, Fresh shows that too. Mainly, though, it shows SOMETHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT and that there are people who are doing something about it! That, I LOVE!!

I found this documentary inspiring, so instead of grabbing the ice cream on the way home (even though I was really hungry and wanted it) I came home and ate part of a grapefruit and put some sweet potatoes in the oven….a much more nourishing way of going about it FOR SURE!!

My boyfriend and I are building a house. When we move in, I am DEFINITELY putting in a garden!

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Throwing a Baby Shower

Recently I found out that a good friend of mine is pregnant with her second child. We don’t know officially what the sex is, but I keep thinking that it’s a boy….we’ll see!

Anyhow, she asked me and another friend to host her baby shower. I am going to be detailing the process along the way, so tune in!

As a starter here are some websites I have found which have already helped me with the baby shower planning.

Baby Shower Planning Checklist from Real Simple

Baby Shower Etiquette from Real Simple

Martha Stewart Baby Shower Ideas

The Bump – Website about Pregnancy, Baby Showers, etc.

Baby Favor Ideas

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Hungry for Change


I started watching this documentary on my phone while making brownies – a little bit of irony for you there…

This is a documentary about food and its effect on a human body. It is an interesting documentary that addresses a daunting problem in today’s urban societies – the use of sugar and chemicals in foods and the resulting disease and lack of health. This film didn’t advertise one specific diet plan or ideology. Rather, it touches upon several different ways of approaching the same problem.

I think that the American society at large has not examined the obesity epidemic and faced its true root. The majority of overweight Americans do a couple of different things (this is based on my personal observations and not any sort of scientific study) 1. They do nothing. 2. They continue to eat the same foods and simply take pills to curb the symptoms. These two methods of handling the problem aren’t workable. This film presents a workable way of handling the weight. The great thing about it is, is that the people are giving the information are people who have lived through it themselves and have gotten results.

Rather than making people feel guilty about what they are eating, this film is inspirational. It presents a mindset that isn’t about dieting and isn’t about depriving yourself or forcing yourself not to eat certain things. Rather, it is about adding things to your normal eating habits that promote health, it’s about loving yourself.

I think this film is worth the time it took to watch and I have personally resolved to eat healthier this coming year.

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Caroline – A Short Story


Here is the beginning of a short story I read. The author started writing it years ago and just dropped it. What do you think? Should they keep writing?

Light gleamed on the still lake despite the early hour. The sun was rising earlier these days, something 14 year old Caroline didn’t mind at all. She loved getting up early, but she was forbidden to get up and go outside before the sun was out. Their neighborhood was just too dangerous for a girl to be up and about alone at that hour.

Wearing her favorite dress, a tattered red sundress, Caroline ran outside of the shack she shared with her abusive alcoholic father and 3 older sisters. Caroline headed toward the small forest that bordered her father’s shack, just beyond the forest there was a calm, beautiful lake. That lake was Caroline’s place. It was the place where she forgot the condition of her life: her father’s frequent beatings, the pittance the family lived on, the work conditions at the factory she worked at. This lake was where Caroline could dream.

Caroline made her way through the forest as she had so many mornings before, she could have gotten to the lake with her eyes closed, the area was so familiar. A deep hole here, a fir tree there, an owl’s nest up there, it was the same as yesterday morning and all the mornings before that. When Caroline arrived at the lake she sat down, and rested her bare feet in the water, the cool water enveloping her feet and sending tingles up her spine. She threw her head back and relaxed, she was determined to enjoy the only peace, the only respite from her difficult life. She watched the turtles sun themselves and the schools of fish circle around her feet.

Caroline had plans for her life, she wanted to finish high school and go to medical school, she wanted to be a doctor. But the poverty of her family had prevented that, she couldn’t even start high school, let alone finish, she was needed at the factory, she had to make money so that they could all eat. Still, Caroline studied, she’d befriended the local librarian and a 15 year old girl Marcia who generously gave Caroline her old school books. She tried to squeeze an hour a day of study in. If her father ever found out, she was in for the beating of her life. Her father would be furious that she was depriving them the $35 she would have made extra if she’d stayed at work that extra hour every night.

Caroline stayed at the lake 15 minutes that day and dreamed of her futures as a doctor, how she would work at the local hospital, one of the best in the US. She was torn between being a pediatrician and being a surgeon. One thing she knew though, when she became a doctor she was going to do pro bono work on weekends at the small clinic near the poor neighborhood in which she currently lived.

At 7:30 Caroline headed back to house, put on her dull, gray uniform and grabbed her shoes. She went to the poor excuse for a kitchen and filled her small cracked bowl with porridge. She ate in silence, then quietly rinsed her bowl and headed out the door. She walked a block and a half before she realized she’d forgotten her shoes. She ran back to the house and slipped them on.

Caroline ran all the way to work that morning, she couldn’t afford to be late, the shift supervisor would dock part of her pay if she was. She ran as fast and as hard as her legs could carry her. As she neared the factory the air became laden with black smoke. Caroline coughed and pushed her legs harder, she had to get out of the suffocating smoke. She grabbed the handle of the factory door and pushed. Now she slowed her gait, she was 5 minutes early, and winded. She made her way up the 4 flights of stairs to the floor she worked on. She opened the door to the large room that normally held 400 women. While the seats would normally be almost full by now, today there was only about 50 women there.

“Where is everyone?” Caroline wondered aloud.

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Oprah Interviews Orthodox Jewish Women

I consider myself a champion of all religions. I believe in the right to chose your own faith and the responsibility to understand and respect other faiths. This is why I am sharing these Oprah interviews of 4 Orthodox Jewish wives and mothers and 1 family. Oprah gets a rare invitation to look into the lives of these four women and understand their culture. I hope you enjoy!

What it Means to Be Hasidic

Oprah Reflects on Hasidism

Oprah Breaks Bread with Religious Jewish Family

Hasidic Parents Reflect on Their Blessings

Hasidic Children – How they entertain themselves.

Hasidic Marital Customs

How Hasidic Jews View Other Religions

Here is the 40 minute segment which consists of several different sections:



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Brave – The Movie

My family sat down and watched Brave after a busy Thanksgiving day.

It was a funny, entertaining movie about a young princess who wants to break tradition and choose who she wants to marry. In desperation, she turns to a witch who casts a spell on her mother. Of course, the spell causes an unanticipated consequence, and the girl fights to get the spell reversed. In the journey, mother and daughter renew their bond.

The main thing I appreciated about this movie was the comedy. There were many times when I found myself laughing very hard.

I’d say the movie was a crowd pleaser – a good choice for the whole family. It’s kid appropriate and the adults will enjoy it too!

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Consumerism vs Thanksgiving

I was a bit peeved this year to find out that some stores were open on the evening of Thanksgiving.

While I have always loved Black Friday shopping and deals, I find the infringement on this holiday to be offensive. American culture has become a consumer culture. Many family values have been lost, and in many families little time is spent together. Rather than all sitting down for a family meal, many modern families sit down for dinner in front of the TV. Thus, I think Thanksgiving is a very important holiday, it brings people together and centers around a family MEAL. This is a time when the family can connect and enjoy each other, new traditions can be made, etc. I know my family has always taken great JOY in this holiday.

Now, however, our holiday is being cut short for consumerism, for the lure of a good deal. (At least many of those good deals are slated as gifts for others.) I even heard that people had been standing in line at one place for over a week!! Are you kidding me? Why have objects and things become so important? What happened to the value of people and relationships?

Sometimes I think the Amish, and Orthodox Jews have the emphasis of their lives right – family, morals/values, and spiritual beliefs. They remember the important thing – each other, and put aside the less important – gadgets.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


P.S. What family traditions does your family have which bring everyone together?

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Last year, my boyfriend decided to invite a bunch of friends to share Thanksgiving with us. This changed the dynamic of our Thanksgiving from a small (6 person) family get-together, to a large boisterous “party.”

Now, every year we have about 13 people over for Thanksgiving- and we have a GRAND time. The day is always full of laughter, fun and very full stomachs.

It just so happens that there are 2 birthdays in our family right around that time, so we end up having a joint birthday/Thanksgiving party.
Here are some of our fun traditions:
1. Big Thanksgiving Meal (DUH!!)

2. Volleyball (None of us are excellent/very good at the sport, so the game is very light and we all have a lot of laughs!)

3. A pinata – a surprising amount of fun for the adults (and any kids involved). Blindfolds are a must! Also, it is important to be able to change the position of the pinata…

4.Catch Phrase

If you haven’t heard of this game, click on the picture above for more information.

This game is a TON of fun and always results in a lot of laughs- though it is more appropriate for teenagers and adults.

5. Finally, we choose a movie and watch it. This is a nice ending to a long and active day!
I’d love to hear about your Thanksgiving Traditions! Please share!


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