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!

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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!

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.

We Are Women – Still We Roar

The history of this country is steeped in people who have had to fight for rights – rights that they should have already had. Rights that should apply to every single citizen of this country. But they haven’t. And they still don’t.

Women fought for a right to vote. Women fought for equal rights. They fought to liberate us in an unjust society. This began back in the 1960’s and officially carried through into the 1980’s – but I would argue that it continues today. If you would like more information, I highly suggest you read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. A lot of women were very unhappy in the 1950’s – so much so that many took drugs, drank, and practiced other self-destructive behavior. Those women weren’t satisfied with their lives. They wanted more. They wanted options.

Now I want to share something with you that I recently saw and found incredibly disturbing.

A young woman on Twitter wrote the following tweet:

Source: Twitter

This statement doesn’t bother me at all. When I read it, I see a woman who values family. She was raised in a home with values that she likes, and she echoed that. I see a young woman who clearly practices Acts of Service as her Love Language (if you don’t know what that is, check out the 5 Languages of Love – it’s really interesting). But the people of Twitter were quick to swoop in and embarrass us all with their asinine comments. There were people who told her to kill herself. They told her that she was an embarrassment to feminism. She was a joke. She was pathetic. And these comments came from women.

Well, call me old-fashioned, but that’s not how feminism works. Feminism means that we get to have a choice. It means that if I want to have a career and no husband, that’s OK. Or I can have a husband and a career. Maybe I want kids. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I want to marry a man who will provide for us so that I don’t have to work. Maybe I don’t want to work or have kids. Maybe I want to have kids and stay at home to raise them. Maybe I want to have kids but still follow my dream in my career. Guess what? Feminism means that we can make any choice we want to when it comes to our lives! And as a woman, I find these women hateful and disturbing. Don’t you dare call yourself a feminist or a supporter or an ally of women if you tear us down just because our choices don’t align with yours. Don’t think for one moment that your negativity fuels our cause. Don’t delude yourself into believing that hate is in any way progressive.

I had a child and stayed home with him for years. Then I went back to school and got my degree. They I continued my education for awhile. Then I started my career. Then I had more babies and decided to stay home and raise them. And someday, maybe, I’ll go back to my career – if that’s what I want to do. And for now? My husband works – typically a minimum of 55 hours a week. He loves his job and he gives a lot to it. And I love my job – raising our children and running this household. And yeah, I make his plate. I cook and I clean. And I look to him to lead our family. That doesn’t make me his bitch or mean I’ve surrendered anything. Because we are a team. When he gets home from a long day, he changes diapers. He does dishes. He runs the sweeper. He folds laundry. My day doesn’t stop at 5 and neither does his. We are in this together. If he comes home and it looks like a tornado ripped through this house he laughs, pulls me in for a hug, and says, “Rough one today, huh?” Because he knows my job is hard. And I know his job is hard. So we support each other.

My marriage – a relationship going on 14 years – is a healthy, happy, strong one. I am thankful every day that I found him, and I’m happy to do things for him that make him happy and make his life a little easier – and he does the same for me. And if that bothers you – don’t do it for your husband. Don’t even have a husband. Have a single life. Have kids, have a career, or don’t. Because here’s the thing – the choices you make for your life don’t affect mine. And I’m going to keep fighting to make sure that you get to have the kind of life you want. That you get to have those choices. I will support that and raise you up. I will clap for your success and I will hope for your happiness. Anything less isn’t feminism. It’s hate. Don’t confuse the two lest you become part of the problem.

Kindness

I had to see one of my doctors today and I told him that I wanted to thank him because I referred a friend to him and she told me that he was the first doctor to actually listen to her and what a difference it made to her. And when I said that he put his hand on his heart and listened to the story and when I was done he said, “Oh my God, thank you. You know, sometimes things are hard, in any job, and you think, “Why am I doing this?” But hearing that and knowing I made a difference to someone, that gives me what I need to keep going.” And then he hugged me.

And this is a DOCTOR people. Whom we assume has the best job, right? I’m just sharing this to remind you that you can 100% make all the difference for someone, anyone, even a stranger, and you have that opportunity every single day.

I stumbled upon a Twitter feed as well today, where writer Nicole Cliffe asked the question, “What is the kindest thing a stranger has done or said to you?” The responses had me sobbing in minutes. I added 3 stories myself, but feel free to read the responses here:

Stories like this restore our faith in humanity, am I right? Whenever the horror in the “news” gets to me, I remind myself of one simple, clear and unavoidable truth. People, for the most part, are good. When I feel like the world is a big bad place, I remind myself that for every unspeakably awful thing we hear about, for every person we feel has done horrifying things, there are 100 people – hell, maybe 1,000 – who are not that way. Who will help. Who will show kindness, or compassion, or a smile.

sunset hands love woman
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The Kindness Factory helps me to remember this as well. If you’ve never heard of it, The Kindness Factory is looking to log a million acts of kindness. You can go there to log your acts, or log acts that have happened to you, or – if you’re like me – go there to read the acts that others have logged, in case you need some help smiling today. Check it out here.

http://kindnessfactory.com/

Remember these things when you are losing hope in the world. Remember that it literally takes one single act of kindness to change someone’s day, someone’s week, someone’s life. And the most incredible thing about that is that every single one of us already has the power to make that change happen, every day, multiple times a day, just by being kind. How incredible is that?

For the Love of Copper

For awhile now, I have been obsessed with copper. Anything copper, or rose gold, immediately gets my attention. When we first saw our house, I immediately fell in love with the home. There were many reasons to love it. But one of the major reasons was the ceiling in the kitchen. The woman who lived here before us, rest her soul, put that ceiling in and we are told that she adored it. It was the one thing we didn’t change when we renovated the kitchen. At the time I thought it was awesome, but I didn’t have my copper obsession back then. Imagine how exciting it is for me now that I do! We named it after her, and whenever people see it for the first time and marvel at it, we say, “Yes, that’s Holly’s ceiling.”

As it turns out, I’ve fallen for a very expensive metal. This is not a surprise – for reference, please see my earlier blog!

https://berkanalynx.com/2017/09/02/champagne-taste-and-a-beer-budget/

All of the things I fall for tend to be the most expensive. I tease my husband that he must have the same problem, because he fell for me – HAHA! But seriously, I have to find ways to get this stuff for far less than its typical retail value. For example, I recently became obsessed with these mugs. Everywhere I find them they are at LEAST $10 each – typically more. And I can’t stand having one or two of something. What if we are having a get-together? I typically want everything in a set of 12. But for things like this, I’ll settle for a set of 8. Recently, I’ve cut that back to 6. So we’re talking $60 for 6 cups. Not going to happen. But my patience paid off, and over the weekend I found them in a Tuesday Morning for $4.99 each. I had to pick through because several had defects – but I manage to scrape together 6 perfect mugs, and got them for $30! I have to seriously restrain myself from going back for 2 more so that I have my 8 – my self-control is at an all-time high!

To curb my spending I set budgets and limits. When I see something I love, I’ll think to myself – what am I willing to pay for that? If I then look and the price is higher, I don’t buy it. When it comes to great sales on beauty and home products, I set a budget prior to the sale. Then I do not buy items that I don’t actually need. This is oftentimes hard to do because sometimes the deals are AMAZING. But I make my rules, and I stick to them.

When it comes to copper, I’ve made another rule to curb my spending. That rule is: Kitchen Only. I do not allow myself to buy copper items for any other room in my house. This way, I breeze right past a LOT of beautiful copper things, because they wouldn’t belong in my kitchen.

As I’ve said before, I find incredible deals on high-quality items at TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, Burlington Coat Factory, and Amazon. And for beauty, skin and home items that are super good deals, I try to stick to the sales in FabFitFun. Here’s a link to my blog if you want to know more about that:

https://berkanalynx.com/2018/08/10/why-i-love-fabfitfun-so-damn-much/

My rules for spending sometimes mean that I pass up things that I genuinely love and desperately want – but they are not things that I need. I’m not perfect, and I bend my rules from time to time. But I really, really try not to. And sometimes those things that I refuse to purchase because of their high sticker price manage to find their way to me through a very generous, handsome, loving man who happens to pay attention to the things that I love. My husband.

The Grove Collaborative

For years now I’ve seen these brands on store shelves and didn’t get why someone would pay for cleaning supplies what they were marked. I was using my usual cleaning supplies. The stuff I’d just always used, either because it was what I had become accustomed to, or because it was the most affordable at the time.

Then I saw an article on The Grove Collaborative and, wanting to know more, I checked out the website. I was honestly moved. Their dedication to the environment is something that inspired me. And the prices on their site were far cheaper than what I was seeing in the store. I had an offer for a free set of supplies, so I decided to give it a try and placed my first order. (If you want to see it before reading the rest of this, here is my referral link. If you use it you will get the 5 free items that I also received when I placed my first order, and I will receive a discount. Please note, however, that all opinions are my own, and I have paid for all of the items I have ordered from them at full price, with no sponsorship from TGC. This review, like all of my reviews, is 100% my honest opinion.)

Get your 5-piece set for FREE here:

https://www.grove.co/referrer/31644675/

Some of these items have become my new ride-or-dies, and some of them I will pass on. I’ll tell you why below. But to start, here is a picture of my first order, including the items I received for free:

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Whomever had packaged my order hand-wrote a little message on the order slip inside the box. It said, “Megan, you’re beautiful. Never let anyone tell you differently.” I was surprised that they were allowed to do things like that. It was lovely. Not all of my shipments have contained a little note like that. My last one did, it said, “Thank You” – you can see it in my video at the end of this blog.

Anyway, I went on to try the items and, as I stated, love some, didn’t love others. Before I break it down, let me explain TGC to you. They are a company very focused on lowering their carbon footprint, and helping us to lower ours as well. Here’s the exact wording on their website:

“Doing no harm

As a Certified B Corporation, we are recognized as a business doing good for people, animals, communities, and the planet.

Treating the planet with care

We offer products that are gentler on the earth, prioritize post-consumer materials for packaging, and carbon offset every shipment that goes out our door.

Planting tomorrow’s forest

A portion of every Grove shipment goes to the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees across the United States. We’re aiming to plant one million new trees over the next three years.” – The Grove Collaborative Website

So how does it work? Technically, you become a member of TGC. That worried me at first, but it’s actually really flexible. To be a VIP it costs $20 per year. That’s it. You can order what you want, when you want. Right now I have mine set up to send me things every 2 months. They put suggestions in my cart and I just go in and take out what I don’t want and add in what I do. You get free shipping on your orders with your membership as well. They also send you free stuff with your orders. In my last order they sent me a full-sized GC hand lotion. In the one before that, they sent me a great lip balm. In addition, if you order a certain amount in your order, they will send a free gift (which you can opt out of if you don’t want it – but why? IT’S FREE! LOL)

All of that is fun and great but it’s not why I switched. Ultimately, I switched because I have 3 children aged 5, 3 and 1 – and I am scared to have toxic, caustic chemicals in the house. I like this site because they make these healthier products more affordable, and I don’t have to be scared if my kids grab the window cleaner when I turn around to answer the phone. It’s plant-based and non-toxic – and a relief. Obviously you don’t want to spray it in your eyes or drink it, but it is so much safer than the stuff I’ve been using up until now. So here’s a breakdown of my first order and what I thought of each product. You can also watch my video at the end to see the order I received the other day. And again, if you want to try it and get the 5-piece set for free, here’s my referral link:

https://www.grove.co/referrer/31644675/

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The GC Cleaning Caddy. This came free and it’s adorable. It’s metal and can be used to store and/or carry your cleaning supplies. But it can also be used as a decoration. Which is probably what I’ll end up doing with it because it’s freaking adorable.

The first item here is the Meyer’s multi-surface cleaner. It comes in a ridiculous number of scents. It’s literally like 10 or more. So far I’ve purchased the Pumpkin (smells more like those candles that are supposed to smell like baking sweets – not bad, but not my jam), Basil (my favorite so far) and Iowa Pine, which I just got and haven’t smelled yet. I love this for spraying and wiping down my counters, kitchen table and chairs. I’m obsessed.

TGC Floursack Towels – These are awesome. Watch my video to see the size.

Method Glass and Surface – I have only used on glass. I bought the Mint scent and OMG I LOVE IT. It literally leaves ZERO streaks. Until now I used Windex and it was decent but I often still had some streaking or foggy areas. The Method leaves my glass so clear and is my new go-to!

Meyer’s Dish Soap – This one I won’t be reordering. I like it well enough, but it’s more expensive than Dawn, which is my old go-to, and it uses essential oils for scent. That’s nice if you like the smell, but I don’t. So this one’s a pass for me.

Method Daily Shower Spray – LOVE this. I have the Eucalyptus Mint scent but it smells like pine to me. Which I love, so that’s the scent I keep ordering lol Just a quick spray down. It says no need to rinse, but I give my shower a quick rinse anyway.

16 oz. Spray Bottle – it’s glass and it’s pretty. I haven’t actually used it yet.

Cleaning Gloves – I love these so much I’ve ordered a second pair. They are perfect for doing dishes. They are soft on the inside and don’t leave my hands smelling bad after I use them.

Meyer’s Hand Soap – (Not Shown) I don’t love this soap. It’s OK, but if I’m going to pay that much for hand soap, I’m going to TJ Maxx and getting some Pecksniff’s hand soap (my fave!)

Walnut Scrubber Sponges (set of 2) – These are good sponges, they do the job and the best part about them is they are pretty, so I don’t mind leaving them out. However, the price is just too high for me. I’ll stick with my Scotch Brites for now.

GC Hand Sanitizer Spray – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! I have it in the Blood Orange, which is one of my favorite flavors, as well as smells. I’ve reordered this little guy as well.

GC Towels – Okay. These are basically my favorite thing in the kitchen. I literally have 5 of them and just put 3 more in my cart today. They are the BEST freaking towels. They are thick and absorbent and I am going to replace all of my kitchen towels with them eventually. Seriously.

Method Squirt and Mop Hard Floor Cleaner – I’ve used this on our hardwood laminate flooring with great success (ours is Pergo Outlast +) without issue. It smells amazing – I have it in the Lemon Ginger (there are 2 other scents) and I also have the Wood Floor cleaner in Almond. Not sure what the difference is between the two. Both smell good. These are the perfect little thing if you want to spot mop. However, if I’m getting down and scrubbing all of my floors (uh, not that I do that often) I wouldn’t use this. I’d dilute something else in a bucket of water. But for a small room like a bathroom or spot mopping, this is perfect.

The Grove Collaborative gives you a free trial VIP membership and they were super clear about it ending for me. I decided to re-up and pay the $20 because I did end up liking it so much. Along with cleaning supplies, they have allllll sorts of other things for pets, home, babies, personal care, etc. So feel free to check it out and, should you decide to order, use this link and get a present for yourself – and for me!

https://www.grove.co/referrer/31644675/

 

The Gifts We Give

The holiday season is a time that brings more emotion to the surface than any other time of year. Sometimes we are reminded of those we have lost. That loss weighs more heavily on us when the holidays are approaching. But it also helps us to be thankful and grateful for what we still have. And while those painful feelings might be magnified during this time of year, it’s important to remember that we have the capability to affect change, and to allow our pain and loss to shape a more promising future for others.

Years ago, when I was pregnant with Max, I worked in an office and I had decorated my desk and office for Christmas and was listening to Christmas music while I worked. A coworker, an older gentleman, stopped in and asked my why I loved Christmas so much. He wondered if it was because I like getting presents. I laughed. Of course, who doesn’t love getting presents?! But actually, no. I do love giving presents. I love the look on peoples’ faces when you give them something they love. I love the lights at Christmas, and the decorations. I love the sentiment of Christmas’ past and I love the music. I love that we gather with the people we love.

But the thing I love about Christmas is actually even more than that. The holidays are a time for reflection, and I truly believe that a miracle happens. This beautiful, incredible thing happens. We open ourselves up to possibility, and to hope, and to generosity. We become the thing that we really want to see in the world. We are more generous, we are more thoughtful, and we are giving of ourselves to others. Even people who aren’t Christians and aren’t celebrating the birth of Christ, participate in that miracle.

Helping others gives us a feeling that is hard to describe. It’s a feeling that I would say is the closest we feel to being a part of something bigger, and better than the things we know. It’s a universal connection, and when we open ourselves up in that way, when we sacrifice or help or heal, we become a part of that connection. And we feel it.

I recently read a great article online about something I could do at my children’s birthday parties. I always tell people that gifts aren’t necessary, but everyone still brings one. Our home is full of toys. And so, I took the idea from this article and applied it to my son’s birthday party and decided that this is what we would do from now on.

Guests were welcome to bring a gift if they wanted to, but they could choose the alternative of bringing money in an amount that was divisible by 3. Then we took the money and divided it among 3 jars. The first went into my son’s piggy bank, which teaches him to save money. The second jar was money he could have and use to buy whatever he wanted to. The third jar would go to charity.

We chose the Humane Society as our charity because the children are so young, we wanted them to physically participate in the act of giving. I think that if the act is more palpable, they will understand a bit better about what it is that we are doing. And as they grow up, this will become a practice in their lives. We called the Humane Society and asked what they needed, and then we went to the store. At this time, we are also participating in a Pay-It-Forward at church. So we took the money from our church, matched it, and then added Bennett’s charity jar money. We purchased the items and went to deliver them and visited the dogs and cats!

It was an incredible day, and while my children might not yet understand it, in time I know they will. And the gift of teaching them to save money and to act charitably is a greater gift than any toy they would have received. As they get older, we will introduce them to other charities and they will be able to decide where that money goes all by themselves. And in this way, we can continue to make the world a better place even more than we have been in the past.

Here’s a video of our experience! Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays my friends!