Sites You Have to Visit in Canada’s Capital!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Personally, I’ve never been to Ottawa, Canada. But I understand it to be an incredible city with tons of beauty and culture. If you want to visit there, here are some things to know!

Ottawa stands as the capital of Canada, making it an important part of Canada’s politics, history, and culture. Due to its importance, many important sites have popped up in the city, sites that tourists and residents can both enjoy. Some of these sites are important political and historical sites, while others simply provide entertainment or something more. If you ever find yourself in Ottawa, you absolutely have to visit the city’s best sites. So what are the top things to visit in Canada’s capital? Here are the sites you have to visit in Ottawa. 

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is the seat of the Canadian government, making it one of the most important buildings in the entire country. The building is much like the U.S Capitol Building in Washington D.C in this regard. However, Parliament Hill has many other things going for it as well. The area constantly has events going on, most of which are open to the public. This includes seasonal events like Christmas Lights Across Canada, an event that sees the area bathed in beautiful seasonal lights. Even if you don’t come at a specific time of the year, the building still hosts daily events. This includes the Changing of the Guard Ceremony in the day and the Sound and Lights Show at night. Both display important parts of Canada’s history and culture. When combined with Parliament Hill’s political importance, this makes the site a must-visit for all tourists. 

Rideau Canal

When in Ottawa, it’s hard not to notice the Rideau Canal. The waterway connects the city with the massive Lake Ontario. It was originally constructed as an emergency route in case the U.S ever invaded Canada, but is now primarily used for pleasure. Small boats can sail up and down the river, making it the perfect way to spend a sunny day on the water. In the winter, the waterway freezes and becomes a large ice rink for skaters to enjoy. Even if the water and ice aren’t for you, just walking by the canal and seeing all of the different sights can be a great way to spend your day.

ByWard Market

ByWard Market is a retail and entertainment district that tourists will love to shop in. If you’re someone who loves to shop and splurge, then this is the perfect location for you. Merchants, farmers, and vendors bring their goods and wares here to sell to the public. In addition, you can find some of the city’s best coffee shops, restaurants, and bars in the area. One could make an entire day out of simply browsing the wares of vendors and enjoying the cuisine the market has to offer. If that’s not enough, the ByWard Market is host to a wide variety of festivals and events, allowing you to have some great experiences. 

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

If you need a place to stay, the iconic Chateau Laurier is a great way to combine history with functionality. Even though it is a hotel, the Chateau Laurier is a designated National Historic Site of Canada. It’s not very often where one can reside in a historical site, but this hotel offers precisely that opportunity. The hotel was constructed in 1912, making it well over a hundred years old. However, don’t fret about whether the hotel is out of date, as it has exchanged hands several times and has received multiple renovations. This allows the location to be the perfect combination of history and practicality. If you’re not looking for Ottawa homes for sale and are simply looking for temporary residence while you visit the city, then you can’t go wrong with this hotel. 

Getting Through The Holiday Season After A Loss

You may have noticed that I haven’t written in awhile, and there’s a really good reason for that. At the beginning of November, my mother died. Technically she was my stepmother, my mom died when I was 5, but she’s been my mom since I was 8, and I’m 42 now. Our relationship was complicated, and the blow I suffered at her loss was surprising and profound.

She had a heart attack at the beginning of November. The day after Halloween, actually. Halloween was the last time I saw her. Her heart attack was major and the doctors did everything they could, including placing her in a medically induced coma in order to try to lessen brain damage. We were by her bedside for an entire week before we finally had to say goodbye. She never woke up.

There are a lot of things I could say about that, what it was like to go through that, but right now I wanted to try to give some advice on what helped me get through the holidays, in case anyone else out there is looking for help. Because right after we lost her we had to get through both of my sons birthday parties (they turned 4 and 6), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. For me, these were especially difficult, not only because of the typical reasons, but because of our relationship, the holidays were the best times I spent with her, and because of her crippling anxiety, they were some of the only times I spent with her.

My first piece of advice for you in getting through it is to lean on others. The day after her heart attack my dad insisted I still have my 4-year-old’s birthday party. I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember it. I was still in shock I think, but my dad said that she wouldn’t have wanted us to postpone, that our lives couldn’t go on hold. So we moved forward. New friends and old friends of ours were there. They brought the food, they put up the decorations, and they made sure that his birthday was super fun for him. I wasn’t capable at the time of organizing anything (very unlike me), so I let go and let others handle it for me. That was the best thing for me at the time, and it all worked out.

I have a therapist and I talk to her about once a month. I have anxiety and I find it helps to have those discussions to maintain good mental health for me. Getting into therapy is my next piece of advice. Even if you don’t know what good it could do, you need to understand that navigating grief can be tricky. It’s not just a set group of steps you complete. It has ups, downs and sideways’. It comes and then it goes and then it comes back again. If you don’t want regular therapy, you can look for a group that focuses on grief. Oftentimes they are little to no cost as well.

My husband gave me my third piece of advice for you. Normally I am crazy for Christmas. Typically the day after Halloween I’m ready to decorate, and it takes everything I have to wait until after Thanksgiving. But this time, there was nothing where that feeling usually was. No excitement, no happiness, and as my therapist stated, no joy. And she was right. The thing that was missing was my joy. I told my husband that I didn’t feel like myself. That I was trying everything I could think of (watching my favorite holiday movies, staying after church to help decorate the sanctuary, listening to Christmas music) but nothing was working. That feeling just wouldn’t click. My husband said, “Forget about the click. Just keep going through the motions.” And he was right. That was what I needed to do. Once again, the world couldn’t stop. I still needed to create Christmas for my children. And so I did.

My therapist’s advice? Don’t overdo it. She advised that I do as much or as little as I felt like. She told me not to put too much pressure on myself. That the joy was missing, and that it was normal. So don’t push yourself. I would say I put up a little over two thirds of what I normally would do for Christmas. This year I didn’t put up our Christmas village, the tree in our front room (we still had another tree up in the living room), nor did I decorate the staircase. When I felt like I didn’t want to do anymore, I stopped. Because not only was I missing my joy, but I was tired. Grieving is hard work and it’s exhausting. And I allowed myself to just have a break.

Another thing that helped me was switching things up. Every year after my kids open their presents, my parents and my brother would come over and we’d open more gifts. I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being there, so this year we had Christmas in our family room instead. And instead of everyone going to my Grandfather’s house (her dad), they all came to our house. Changing things up a little took the edge off of her not being there. It wasn’t the same situation where her loss would have been so profound. It was a different situation and that lessened the blow for us.

My final piece of advice it to just feel it. Don’t try to push it down or ignore it. If you need to cry, do it. If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t. But be very careful that you don’t shut down. Depression can be a quick follow up when we are grieving, and it can be very easy to let it pull you down. You don’t have to force anything, but you can’t let it bury you. The important thing is that you realize that life goes on and as it goes on the grief will subside. It will become less heavy. It will come less often. So in the meantime, don’t let it suffocate you. Keep getting up, facing your day, and getting through it. Don’t worry about the click. Just keep going through the motions. And eventually, you will come out the other side.

Five Interesting Facts About Ohio!

I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life. I love it here. I love the people, the seasons, and the weather. There’s so much to do in Ohio, and there are some incredibly beautiful landscapes to see. I love living here, and thought it might be fun to share some interesting facts about my state!

Ohio is definitely a state worth visiting. Planning a vacation there will be a treat you’ll remember. There are so many fun and different things to do; it’s no wonder that people who visit sometimes wind up staying. The state truly has something for everyone, whether you are into the outdoors, history, or even culinary delights.  

You can have the convenience of city life while paying the real estate prices of the county. Just take a look at some of these Cincinnati houses for sale that may inspire you to make Ohio your new home. If you still need convincing, check out these five interesting facts about Ohio.

Mother of Presidents

Ohio is the birthplace of seven US presidents so far. Eight if you include William Henry Harrison.  Although Harrison was born in Virginia, he lived most of his life in Ohio. And two of the presidents, Ulysses S Grant and William McKinley, are on US currency.  

Longaberger Basket

One of the craziest tourist attractions is visiting the Longaberger Basket Headquarters. While this doesn’t seem like a crazy place to visit, the seven-story building is built to look like a basket, complete with handles.  If you are visiting Ohio, you must make time to check out the “Big Basket” as the locals call it. There are even tours that you can take of this wacky building. 

Wall of Gum

Another weird thing that Ohio has to offer is the Wall of Gum. This is located outside the Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop in Greenville and has been around since 1934. Tradition is that you stick your gum on the brick wall of the building before eating. This has been going on forever and is a famous attraction. Bonus is the Maid-Rite has an excellent burger and other delicious options that have made it a favorite among locals for over 60 years. Make sure to check it out and bring a pack of gum!

Buckeyes

Ohio is known as the Buckeye State. Ohio has a considerable population of Buckeye trees in the Ohio Valley. The buckeye tree produces nuts that look like the eye of a deer, hence the name. Locals believe that carrying a buckeye in your pocket will bring you good fortune. And of course, locals cheer for their Ohio State Buckeyes!

Birthplace of Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll did begin in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952. DJ Alan Freed was the first DJ to promote a rock show that took place at the Cleveland Arena. That’s why it was a natural choice for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. This museum is so big you can make a whole day or two out of it. You can even check out a live show if you are lucky enough to visit during these individual performances. If you have never visited this museum, you should put it on your destination wish list. There are tons of cool themed restaurants and hotels located right around the area that you can check out.

These are only a few of the incredible things that Ohio has to offer. If you are ever in the area, or there is something happening here that you are interested in seeing, I highly recommend a visit! I think you’ll find the state to be beautiful, the people to be friendly, and you’ll find that there is so much to see and do!

The Algonquin Mill Festival – A Perfect Fall Outing!

Not terribly far from where I live is a Fall festival that is typically the kick off to our season. It’s the Algonquin Mill Festival in Carrollton, Ohio. The Algonquin Mill is seated inside an historic complex with several surrounding buildings. More about the history and the buildings can be found on their website here: http://carrollcountyhistoricalsociety.com/mill/millcomp.htm

The festival is a fun way to spend the day, and my husband and I take our children every year. They have delicious foods, fun things for children to do, and crafts and goods from local artisans! Each year we are excited to eat different comfort foods and see what the crafters have to offer. We often eat either the sauerkraut and potatoes dinner or we get some chicken and baked potatoes. We always make room for some bean soup and cornbread as well! If the kids don’t want to eat that, there are more kid-friendly options like hot dogs and french fries as well. For dessert we always get the same thing – a homemade apple dumpling with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream!

My husband and I tend to pick up Christmas ornaments every year. In part because one of my best friends is a crafter there, but also because we have an affinity for Christmas ornaments! The kids also typically pick something fun for themselves as well. The crafts range from crafts to handmade soaps, leather goods, holiday crafts, local honey, and so much more. One year I bought a CD from a band that was there. I bought their Christmas music CD and it’s amazing!

This year my kids had fun with several different things. They got their faces painted, which was only $2 each – fairly cheap for facepainting in my experience! And they both loved it so, so much. When it came off that night in the tub, they really wanted me to paint them back on. Max chose a spider for Halloween, but Bennett went with sparkly balloons.

Typically we go to a little pumpkin patch for pictures and so that the kids can pick out a little pumpkin. This year we ran out of time, unfortunately, and weren’t able to do that. We also missed out on creating sand art. However, we made it in time to see the animals! There were chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, bunnies, and – my favorite – the alpacas!

We also allowed the kids to take their first pony ride this year! At first I was concerned about the welfare of the horses, but after talking to their owner I realized that they are happy farm horses who only do this on occasion. He said they seem to enjoy the attention, and that if they didn’t like doing it, they would flat out refuse to move. The kids LOVED riding the ponies, and it was definitely worth the money. At first I balked at the $5 cost per ride, but the ride actually went on for several minutes, and the kids truly loved it.

Towards the end of the day we stop to have our apple dumplings, and then I head into the little bookstore that’s onsite. It’s a tiny house filled with wall to wall used books. I could spend all day in there, but since my husband and children have little interest, I typically pop in and search out some old Reader’s Digest books. They are one of the things that I collect. They cost fifty cents each, which I think is pretty good. Once that was done this year we stopped for a quick family picture before heading home. This is one of my favorite Fall activities. It’s fun for the whole family and, if you’re in the area, I highly recommend it!

Prepping For Black Friday?

It’s only October, but if you’re anything like me, the next couple of months are going to fly by! I love the holiday season. From October through December we have plans almost every weekend. This is the time of year we spend the most time with friends and family. So even though it’s only October, I’ve started thinking about Christmas shopping. Because Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. And the day after that is Black Friday – the day the stores pop into the black because we are shopping our little hearts out! For me, Black Friday has become a holiday all it’s own. And I’ll tell you why.

Black Friday is the best day that I’ve found to get the best deals and prices on so many of the items that I purchase for Christmas. But there’s more to it for me than just that. Years ago on the night of Thanksgiving, my brother would bring out the store ads from the newspaper. We would sit and read through them, circling the items we wanted. And he would be making a game plan for early shopping the next day! He is the type of person to stay up all night or get up at the crack of dawn for those deals. He’ll stand in line until the store opens and shop all day. I am the opposite. I tend to wait until the flurry has died down a bit before venturing out in the afternoon. I’m more interested in the overall sales than the big ticket item deals typically.

Now, however, there’s a more modern approach if you don’t want to purchase the ads in the paper, or if you do, but find that they are sold out everywhere. This has happened to us in the past. I have partnered with a website this year for this particular blog to bring you the best place to search for the best deals this Black Friday! Slick Deals offers an incredibly easy way to prepare and shop Black Friday deals. You can see their website here: https://slickdeals.net/blackfriday/

Slick Deals has done the work for you. As information on Black Friday comes out, you’ll be able to find it on their site. They have compiled all of the information you are going to be looking for this Black Friday. They provide information from the store hours themselves to the deals you’ll find there, as well as coupons and coupon codes. Not only that, but they provide advice on how to shop smart so that you can spend your money wisely and get the best deals out there. It is likely to be your best friend this shopping season!

This year, you can get a head start on your holiday shopping with Slick Deals. It’s the best website I’ve found for information on the best deals for Black Friday, and it’s easy to navigate and find the information you’re looking for. It’s a great tool for planning and budgeting, as well as creating your Black Friday shopping strategy! I find it incredibly helpful for finding all of the information I need in order to enjoy my shopping experience on Black Friday.

For me, Black Friday is a fun and exciting day. It is the kick-off to the Christmas season. I don’t just love the deals though. I love the people. I have had wonderful experiences out shopping on Black Friday. I enjoy talking to and laughing with the strangers I am standing in line with. I love the hustle and bustle of the people. I love the togetherness, the holiday music and decorations, and the excitement that comes from finding the perfect gifts for my loved ones.

This year, keep Slick Deals in mind as you prep for your Black Friday shopping. You can access the site here https://slickdeals.net/blackfriday/ – or save it or bookmark it for easy access, because if you’re anything like me, the Autumn season will fly by and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it!

FabFitFun is Cheaper Than Ever!

If you’ve ever thought about trying FabFitFun, now is the time! For a limited time you can receive the Fall 2019 box at 50% off!!! Use my link https://prf.hn/click/camref:1011l7UyZ
(this is a personal affiliate code) and the code FALL50 now, before the promotion ends in a few days!

The Fall 2019 box is my favorite box of the year, and some of the customizable items are still available!

FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box service. They deliver a box to your home once every 3 months, for Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. The also have Editor Boxes. Those boxes are available if you join in between the seasonal boxes. The are comprised of the favorite items of, you guessed it, the Editors. Members are able to purchase these boxes in addition to the seasonal boxes if they wish. However, you aren’t required to.

Fabfitfun has a wide range of items in their boxes. You can get jewelry, wraps, scarves, socks, makeup, haircare, skincare, tech items, fitness items, and so much more. Every box I’ve received has been worth over $300. (Each box costs $49). Some of the items are a surprise, but some you are able to choose. If you are a select annual member (meaning you pay for the year upfront) you will get to choose more of what is in your box. You also get priority shipping. Contrary to what people think, this is NOT more expensive than paying quarterly. As a matter of fact, it’s a little cheaper as when my bill comes it’s $180, which means that each of my boxes are $45.

FabFitFun also has an Add-On sale at the beginning of each season, where they offer products at up to 70% off of their retail value. They also have Edit Sales that do the same thing. Again, you aren’t required to purchase anything at the sales, they are just available to you if you want to shop them.

I love FabFitFun’s boxes, of course, and I’ve found so many of my new favorite products this way. However, there’s a lot more to it than just the boxes. FFF has a community page on their website where members can go to talk. They talk about FFF, of course, but they also use the community to find support, talk about problems, trade items, and make friends. The discussions are so wonderful, and it makes me so happy to see strangers coming together the way they do in the community. There’s even a group who does a Christmas in July gift exchange. There’s so much to be found there, and it’s completely free when you join FabFitFun.

In addition, FabFitFun has a TON of workout videos available to its members, again, completely free with your membership. They also send out newsletters with helpful tips, healthy recipes, and fun information.

I actually love FabFitFun so much that I became an affiliate. We say #fabfitfunpartner. Which just means that I have a link to use to sign up (and I do earn a small commission on sales). I’ll post it below if you are interested in joining. I’ve taken several pictures of the actual boxes I’ve received as well, so I’ll post those here too. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, as I’m happy to help!

FabFitFun is more than a subscription box service to me. It’s inspired me to live a more happy and healthy life. It’s motivated me to connect with people all over, and it’s helped me find some incredible products that I’d probably never found otherwise.

Get yours here and receive 50% off your first box using the code FALL50  https://prf.hn/click/camref:1011l7UyZ
(This is my personal referral link.)

My Fall 2019 FabFitFun box!

Start A Book Club

Last year some of my best friends, women I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, and I started a book club. We all love to read, but as women who are married, working, and/or raising children, we found that we were not reading as much as we used to. Or we wanted to read but didn’t like taking chances on something we wouldn’t like. Years ago we had a book club. It had a few different people in it and It was short lived as we became busier with life, but we got to talking about it at my daughter’s first birthday party and decided to revive it.

Our book club works like this: We each take turns choosing a book, and that person also purchases copies of the book for everyone. This way, we can stay within our individual budgets. We meet once a month, typically on the last weekend of the month, and whomever chose the book hosts the gathering. We also purchase a gift for everyone that is either on theme for the book or the season, or has something to do with reading. For example, a Christmas ornament in December. Doing it this way allows us to choose any book we want a couple of times a year, and we don’t have to worry about the cost because we are choosing the books we purchase. We can decide on an expensive book, or a cheap one. This also introduces us to all types of different books that we might not normally have chosen ourselves.

And while reading is the central reason for a book club, it’s not exactly the real reason that we started it. We started it because we found that we weren’t spending much time together. Our book club meets once a month, every month. If, for some reason, we aren’t able to make it occasionally, that’s alright. If we didn’t have time to finish the book that month, that’s ok too. Because while we do want to read and encourage one another to read, the book club isn’t about books. It’s about self care.

Women are notorious for putting everything in the world above and before themselves. When we are sick, we still take care of our family. When things need to get done, we put completing those projects ahead of our own needs. We are nurturers, problem-solvers, and we are, if nothing else, dedicated. And I can tell you right now, our mental health takes a back seat almost every time. And it happens before you know it. Having this book club puts reading, something I adore, at the forefront of my thoughts. And so at night, instead of being on my phone before bed and researching things or checking my email, or getting caught up in some Twitter drama, I read a book. It’s far more relaxing, and I feel accomplished as well. I also just love getting lost in a story.

But beyond that, beyond reading or the books themselves, the point is that we make time for each other. We make it a priority. In this way, we remember how important it is to take care of ourselves, and that then remains in the forefront of our thoughts throughout the month. For example, about a month ago my life got pretty hectic. My son started school, both the boys started soccer, and our tenants who lived in our rental home vacated without warning, leaving a mess in their wake. During that time I did what I always do and put my focus on what needed to be done. I stopped working out (a venture I had begun only two weeks before), I stopped reading, and I almost skipped book club. But instead, I remembered that book club is the priority. And so, instead of spending a few more hours cleaning our rental property, I stepped out of the madness and spent time with my best friends. Making that the priority reminds me to make myself a priority.

Our book club is more than just a book club, and that’s what makes it special. I encourage you to start one with the people in your life who you love but don’t seem to make time to see. We started our club a little over a year ago, and in that time we’ve spent more time together as a group than we have in many, many years. And in doing so, we are not only making time for each other, but we are taking time for ourselves. We get one night a month to be together, take a break, eat great food, laugh, tell stories, vent our frustrations, share our dreams, and relax. And sometimes, we even take the time to actually discuss the book.

Here are our picks so far, if you’d like to know what we are reading. Note the incredible variety in the novels we’ve chosen. I’ve enjoyed them all and would recommend them as well!

Pumpkin Season Is Upon Us!

Fall is my favorite season. I am definitely one of those girls for sure. I do try my hardest not to decorate until at least mid-September though. And once it’s time, I am ready for all of it! I want pumpkins and cornstalks on my porch. And of course, lots and lots of mums. I want to wear cozy scarves, drink apple cider, cuddle by a bonfire, and bake apple crisps. I want to attend hayrides, travel through cornmazes, pick apples, and of course, picking out our pumpkins!

This year we happened to stumble upon the sweetest little market on our way home from my niece’s wedding. The sign by the side of the road read “Pumpkins, $2” – and that was something we couldn’t believe! No pumpkin I’ve seen costs less than five dollars. My husband, ever the thrifty one, immediately pulled in. He expected teeny pumpkins for two dollars, but what we received instead was a fun little stop, fresh produce, HUGE pumpkins that were – indeed – only two dollars apiece, and the nicest people you can imagine.

The place is called Kiels, in Swanton, Ohio, and if you’re in the area, it’s absolutely worth a visit. I’ll link the website for you here! https://www.keilsgreenhouse.com/

My children had a blast running around and looking at all of the pumpkins. I’m not exaggerating when I say that they had more pumpkins, and a larger variety, than I have ever seen. Here’s a peek.

My kids really enjoyed choosing their pumpkins, and seeing all of the different sizes, shapes, colors and varieties of gourds. They also loved seeing all of the fresh produce there. Kiels not only had the pumpkins and produce, but huge, beautiful mums. It made me wish I hadn’t already purchased and planted mine! They had cornstalks as well. I would have bought some of those too, but our van was already filled with us, our luggage, and was soon to be overflowing with pumpkins as well!

The produce was wonderful. We ended up purchasing some apples as well as some corn on the cob and some zucchini. We will be having the corn on the cob today with dinner, and I’m planning on making zucchini bread this afternoon! Here’s a look at their produce.

They even had the cutest little setup where you could take photos! Of course I had to have all of my kids pose. They loved it. Well, except for my oldest who was on the phone, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. He smiled, so I’m happy!

We honestly spent quite a bit of time there because we were having so much fun. I loved seeing the beautiful displays they had set up. They were obviously so talented at creating them. And the quality of the pumpkins and produce was impeccable. I was impressed. But the real treat was the price. We got 12 ears of corn, 5 zucchini, 6 HUGE pumpkins, 3 apples and 5 little pumpkins for $23. Honestly, how is that even possible? We couldn’t believe it! And the women there were so fun and sweet. They even threw in this free spider decoration for the kids to use when Halloween decorating arrives! In all, it was a beautiful afternoon and the perfect start to my favorite season!

I tried the FASHOM Style Box – Here’s What I Think

I recently had the opportunity to try a style box by Fashom – a fashion box designed to help you expand your wardrobe. I received my box free of charge from Fashom in exchange for my honest review of my experience and the items that I received. Here is how it works, what I chose, and what my thoughts are on this experience!

My initial impression of Fashom was positive. I really appreciated the fact that the women pictured on their website were unique and that they appeared to represent a wide range of styles. I’m all about inclusivity and encouraging women to be themselves! It was refreshing to see that the women on their site didn’t appear to be models or to represent unattainable beauty standards.

Fashom has a style system that is very easy to use. First, you set up your style profile. You answer questions about your appearance, hair color, clothing size, etc. Then you choose looks that you enjoy from pictures they share with you. Once you complete your profile, it goes to one of their stylists. After a couple of days the stylist sent me several looks, from which I was to choose five. At this point you can choose your looks or request more. I requested more, asking to see some dresses as I was curious about the range of clothing that they had available. Within a couple of days I was presented with additional looks to choose from. I chose my five pieces and they were delivered.

At Fashom you typically pay a $15 styling fee (though your first styling fee will be free) and that fee will be put towards any item you decide to keep. One cool aspect of Fashom is that you can try your pieces and send back anything you don’t end up liking, and only be charged for what you decide to keep. (The return envelope is prepaid, so sending items back will cost you nothing.) Another interesting, and awesome, aspect is that the more items you keep, the more you will save. If you choose to keep 3 of your items you will receive a 25% discount. If you keep all 5 then the discount jumps to 30%. Another great facet is that you can see what the clothing items cost when you choose them, so there are no surprises. Also, there is no subscription required! To me, this is one of the best features of this style box. You’ll never be met with an unwelcome charge or forced to use the service. Whenever you want to use it, just log in and start!

I will show you both the pictures on the website as well as pictures of me actually wearing the items so you can see how they look in both situations.

The first item I chose was the Desfios: Shimmer Tank Top ($32)

This looks exactly like the picture in person, and was well made. I love the material so much!

The next item I chose was the Naked Zebra: Rolled Short Sleeve V-Neck Blouse ($41)

This shirt was a great surprise. I wasn’t sure I’d like it but the material is gorgeous. It has a slight shimmer to it and lays and feels a lot like silk. I loved this far more than I thought I would.

The third item I chose was the One 5 One Jeans: Skinny Jeans with Embroidery Hem ($55)

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised. These were so cute on!

The fourth item I chose was the Articles of Society: Tank Top ($35)

The material was, once again, a surprise. It was really stretchy, soft and comfortable. And I love the little detail of the front coming to a point. It’s a nice little touch that brings it up a notch to be able to be dressy.

The final item I chose was the Chris & Carol: Knit Striped Dress ($39)

In the picture you can see my excitement over those pockets! This dress is incredibly soft and feels good on. Though it’s a dress, I was really comfortable in it.

I was honestly surprised by this experience. It was an incredibly simple process to be styled and it was easy to communicate with the company. In addition, the clothing was a higher quality than I was expecting. Sometimes when you order clothing online, it’s a bit disappointing when it arrives because it’s not the quality it appeared to be. For me, this was the opposite experience. I was expecting the clothes to be nice, but I wasn’t expecting to love them as much as I did.

I found several things I loved about Fashom – from their generosity (they send $1 for every box purchased to the animal charity Second Chance Rescue NYC) to their amazing mottos, ” LOVE THE WAY YOU ARE! #BetterAsIAm,” to the fact that they offer a great service. While I could easily go to the store and purchase clothing, this is a fun way to open myself up to the possibility of items I might not normally choose. For example, I don’t know that I’d have ever tried something trendy, like the jeans. I think Fashom is a fun way to experiment with fashion and to get outside assistance from a professional stylist on growing your wardrobe. I’m so glad I had such a great experience with them, and if you’re interested in trying a style box, I highly recommend this one.

You can find them here. I don’t receive anything for sharing this link – I’m just trying to make it easy for you!

https://fashom.com

See me unbox the items and see them in detail here on YouTube!

Saying Goodbye

Losing a pet is never easy. And deciding to put one down is even harder. I know, because I’ve just done it for the fourth time. The first animal I ever had to put to sleep was a stray I rescued in the dead of winter. I thought she was a kitten and I named her Pipken. Upon taking her to the vet, however, I found out that she was actually not as young as I thought, just small. And she was very, very sick. The vet recommended putting her down right then. I had never put a pet down before, and had actually only lost one pet in my entire life. That was traumatic and very difficult for me. I thought I was rescuing her and getting a new pet, and to leave there with her little soft body in a box was something I’ll probably never get over entirely.

The next time I had to put a pet down was my cat Tony. His full name was King Anton Fluff of the Brooklyn Jungle. I had him for 15 years. He went into kidney failure and we spent two weeks trying to save him, but to no avail. When the time came, I couldn’t do it and my husband was the one there in his final moments. I was pregnant with our son and so emotional, I knew I couldn’t handle it. After that, was our Bruno. I’ve written a previous blog about that experience if you’d like to read it, I’ll link it here: https://berkanalynx.com/2017/11/10/the-love-of-an-animal/

A week ago we had to make this decision again. For our cat Humphrey. We got him as a kitten. He was a wild little black fluffball back then. He grew up to be the most affectionate and sweetest cat I’ve ever known. Humphrey loved everyone . He was always quick to jump in a lap and settle in, purring at full throttle. He let our children carry him around the house. He snuggled in with them at naptime. He liked other cats, liked dogs, and loved people. He learned to use the dog door and would go in and out as he pleased. Because of this, he made friends with all of our neighbors as well. They would call him over and give him pettings and treats. We were known in the community by some as “Humphrey’s family” – he was that popular. We noticed a change in him over the last couple of months. He didn’t seem exactly himself and he had lost some weight. We attributed it to aging, but in reality, he was only 9 years old. For us, that’s young. Our other cats lived to be 15, 16 and 19.

I decided to take him to the vet a week ago when he wouldn’t jump up onto the bed. We thought perhaps he had hurt a leg while outside. He was still eating and drinking, but seemed to be in pain, so we didn’t think anything serious was wrong. His blood work came back to reveal that he was severely anemic and in kidney failure. His mouth was also full of ulcers, and they were surprised to hear that he was still eating and drinking. I was given some options. We could take him somewhere for a blood transfusion, or we could choose to start medication for the anemia. We would switch him to a special food. We could start infusions for his kidneys. I would take him every other day to the vet where they would insert a needle and flush him out. If, after two weeks, it was helping and his blood work came back better, then they would teach me how to do the infusions at home. I could buy the needles, tubing and fluids from the vet. And every other day, for the rest of his life, I would treat him. I said no.

We chose the treatment for Tony. For two weeks I feel like we tortured him as he rapidly declined. I wasn’t going to make that mistake twice. And even if the treatment helped this time, what kind of a life is that for him? As a cat that can use the dog door, there was also a zero percent chance I could keep him on a special diet, or that I’d be able to find him when it was treatment time. Especially if he knew it was coming. We feared that he’d run off and hide if he didn’t feel well and die somewhere out there, in pain and alone. And so we chose for him. We chose a painless, comfortable death where he could be safe and warm in my arms when he went.

Again, not easy. But I have realized something this past week. His death was a little easier for me than Tony’s or Sadie’s, because I didn’t allow him to suffer. I regret not putting my other two cats down sooner. But I kept them going because I didn’t want to be without them. A selfish choice, but I didn’t think so at the time. Now I realize that they don’t see things like we do. And that living a life of pain and illness is not necessary. As a pet they are afforded a luxury that wild animals are not. They can be put down peacefully instead of suffering a long and painful death. When I was trying to figure out whether or not it was time to put Bruno down, I read an article by a gentleman who said that animals don’t know time as we do. We see it as a week more with them, but if they are suffering for that week, what good does it do them? He said he’d rather put his pet down a month before he would have to rather than a week too late. That really resonated with me.

And so, this time, it was different. And while still upsetting and sad, it’s not as devastating because there is no guilt. There is no memory of him suffering. There is no doubt that I did the right thing. Aside from that, we still look for him to run to us when we get home. I still expect to see him sleeping on top of my basket of clean laundry, and I still wish he was here. I loved him so damn much. He was honestly the best cat ever. And I do believe in Heaven, or at least an afterlife that allows us to be together again. Until then, I will miss him. But I will be happy that he was able to live a good life, and die a peaceful death.


Humphrey and his brother Theodore (who was hit by a car 6 years ago). They were the best of friends – always together. We like to think they are together again.