Friday, January 30, 2015

Positive-Inspired Outfit

Wow, what a week in my house!  The stomach bug hit our house like a tornado!  And man have we been wiped out.  My littlest guy had it, then me, and then my husband.  Let's just hope my other son stays away from it all!

So that's why I've been MIA...but I can't wait to share with you today's outfit!  It's inspired by Paige Rawl and her book Positive.  And I think this outfit is a home run--let me explain why.  Here's the outfit:

Ahhh, I would totally wear this outfit to work, on a date--you name it!

  • I did a little snooping and discovered that Paige loves animal print.  So I started with this really chic leopard blouse.  This is a great statement piece, because it can be dressed down, made fancy, etc.
  • Red is a strong color in Paige's book as it represents AIDS Awareness, so I added a bright red blazer.  This adds a pop of color, and I love me some color.
  • Black skinny pants complete the basics of the look and keep the attention on top.
  • These heel booties are hot and dress up the outfit.
  • A gold cuff bracelet adds a little accessory and brings out the gold tones in the blouse.
Ok, I want this outfit in my closet now...what do you all think?  A trendy outfit that highlights Paige's love of leopard and her passion for HIV and AIDS awareness.

Want more info on the pieces in the outfit?  Click here!

More reviews and outfits coming up--stay tuned!

Monday, January 26, 2015

REVIEW: Positive

Happy Monday, everyone!

I know I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but after reading This Star Won't Go Out (see my review from last week), I moved onto Positive by Paige Rawl.  I was immediately intrigued by Paige's story because she is a local Hoosier with an incredible story--she was born HIV Positive.  What's even crazier, she didn't know about it until she saw it on a medical file chart!  And like Hoosier Ryan White 30 or so years ago, Paige also faced major bullying for her infection--and all due to the ignorance of those about it.

Paige is coming to visit my students in a few months--woo hoo!--so I couldn't wait to read her story.  Let's jump into the review!


  •  Standalone
  • Nonfiction/Memoir
The Gist:
Paige Rawl learned while peeking at her medical files that she was HIV Positive.  How did she become infected with HIV?  Her father unknowingly gave the infection to her mother, who then got pregnant with Paige.  But Paige grew up just knowing that taking pills at the same time every day was normal life for her, as were the frequent doctor visits.  So when she confided in her middle school best friend about her medical secret, she couldn't believe when she started getting bullied for it.  Like bullying to the extreme.  Enough to make Paige drop out of public school, enter a liberal arts high school, and reevaluate what it means to be who you really are and accept your whole self.

What I Loved:
  • First of all, let's just take a look at that cover.  Oh my goodness.  Gorgeous. 
  • I was so impressed that Paige changed the name of her middle school within the book.  Let's be honest--she could have slammed them for not responding to her bullying in any kind of appropriate way.  Many of us would.  But she takes the high road and changes their name.  Because it's not about putting their name through the mud and making ALL employees bad--it's about recognizing that ignorance still exists.
  • Paige tells her whole story with plenty of photos, and she reveals her true feelings about her family, so-called friends, and her infection.  She doesn't hold back.
  • I love that Paige wrote this at such a young age, because it keeps this message current and valuable to today's teens.
What I Didn't Love:
  • I wish Paige had touched more on fears she may have, like getting cut in public or being intimate with her future husband.  She barely gives us a glimpse of this, but I hoped to go a bit deeper.
A really great read that reminds us that ignorance still exists and it is up to us to make sure we are all treated as humans.  I can't wait to meet Paige and introduce her to my students!

I know what Paige's favorite pattern is--hint hint, animal!--so I'll be designing an outfit for her soon!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Esther Earl-Inspired Outfit

Happy Friday, everyone!

This week I reviewed This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl (and her family), a memoir of Esther's life before she died from cancer in 2010.  Inspiring and emotional, this story makes you think about the legacy you may leave.

I wanted to design an outfit for Esther because I loved her quirky, zany personality that I so often saw on her YouTube videos; and yet she was mature, intelligent, and well-spoken.  So in other words, a fun but nerdy outfit.  And here's what I designed:

I would love to wear this outfit myself!

  • Esther seemed casual and fun in her outfits, and so I knew I wanted her to wear jeans with a few holes/scuffs in them.  She didn't feel the need to be fancy in front of a camera.
  • Esther loved books and Harry Potter, so this "Leviosa" sweatshirt from Hermione's dialogue was a great choice.  I think Esther probably loved Hermione's intelligent attitude.
  • Converse shoes--casual as you can get with a little edge
  • I love these bracelets that say "Weird." I think these fit Esther's personality because she would totally flaunt any weirdness about herself.
  • A monogram "E" necklace; since her name is so important to the book, I wanted her to feature it in her clothes, too.
So what do you think?  Is this outfit worthy of Esther and her legacy?  I sure hope so.  Rest in awesome, Esther.

Check out all the details of the outfit here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

REVIEW: This Star Won't Go Out

I first heard about Esther Earl, like so many of us did, from John Green.  Inspired by the anger he felt at Esther's young death, he finished The Fault in Our Stars and dedicated it to her.  I was eager to read her book, a collection of her words and thoughts leading up through her funeral.

But let me tell you a little about Esther if she's new to you.  Esther was only 16 in 2010 when she passed away from cancer.  She left behind a YouTube channel filled with her quirky yet mature personality and a family that missed her immensely.  So they took Esther's diary, letters, and sketches and combined them into This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl.  

You have to prepare yourself when you read a book like this; you know it won't be a fast, cheery read.  You want to savor each detail, knowing that they represent a lifetime lost too soon.  What was even more interesting (even emotional) for me was that I listened to it on audiobook and Esther's parents read part of the book.  It takes a book to a whole new level when a person so involved in a life partakes in the reading.  So let's jump into the review:

  • Standalone book
  • Memoir/Nonfiction

What I Loved:
  • The reader of this book was amazing!  I've watched Esther's YouTube videos and I think the reader captured her personality perfectly.  And hearing Esther's parents read parts of the story added such depth to the emotion of the story.  
  • Speaking of Esther's parents reading on the audiobook, the actual recording from the funeral was used; readers hear Esther's father speaking at the funeral with the audience vocal reactions.  A breathtaking moment of listening to the story.
  • Esther is raw, honest, and herself.  She doesn't make her story "pretty."  She is completely upfront with how she's feeling about her life, death, and everything in between.
  • I left this book feeling inspired to appreciate every moment I have, but I also felt like it was okay to be sad, annoyed, and even angry.  This is a book that makes you feel.
What I Didn't Live:
  • Like I mentioned earlier, this isn't a book that you breeze through.  You have to take it in stride, knowing you'll be laughing and sighing within pages of each other.
  • And in addition to not breezing through the book, you have to understand as a reader that you know from the get-go what you're going to get with this book.  Esther didn't take a surprise trip, make a jaw-dropping discovery, write something profound, etc.  In other words, Esther was a normal girl and you will read about how her life was normal despite her having a cancer diagnosis.  You will read the journals of a girl leading up to her death.  And you must be prepared for that.  
Three heels for me--a solid, emotional read that gives you exactly what you expect!

I hope you read Esther's words to keep her star from going out, to remember that sometimes our lives are taken just way too early.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

1930s-Inspired Outfit

Last week I posted a review on Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, a story of Yanek, a boy who survived TEN concentration camps and TWO death marches during WWII.  So today's outfit is 1930s/1940s-inspired; it's not a straight-up inspiration of the Holocaust, because let's be honest, that would be horrible on many levels.  But it's based off the inspiration of the time period.  After all, Yanek's character was fascinated by movies and society life.

And here it is:

 Ahh, don't you just wish that this was normal attire again?!

  • I think a blouse was a staple item in women's closets at the time.  I love the richness in this burgundy one and how it brightens up and balances the black pieces.
  • A black pencil skirt--women were always in skirts, and this one has remained a timeless, stylish piece.
  • Don't you love that hat?  Women also frequently wore hats outdoors, and this small-brimmed hat adds some "adorable" into the look.
  • These strapped sweetheart heels were typical of the time and very lady-like.  A delicate heel for the "delicate" ladies of the time.
  • I had to add a cute little necklace, and this gold glasses necklace was perfect!  Dainty jewelry was the style, but this one adds some personality.
So what do you think?  Could you see a woman of the 30s/40s wearing this out on the town?

I'll be back tomorrow with a review on a nonfiction book that will inspire you to live life to the fullest!

Want a closer look at the outfit pieces?  Click here!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REVIEW--Prisoner B-3087

Good morning, readers!

As a librarian, I am constantly asked by parents for book recommendations for their kiddos, especially recommendations for students who read at a higher reading level.  Unfortunately since I work in a high school, it's often difficult for me to come up with book recommendations for strong elementary readers (because I don't know the middle school books very well and high school books have more mature content).  So I was very excited to pick up Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz because it is a great choice for strong elementary and middle school readers.  Let's jump into the review!

  • Historical fiction
  • Standalone novel
The Gist:
In the 1930s, Yanek, a boy who loves the movies, lives in Poland with his family.  When their town is taken over by Nazis, they survive in hiding for awhile on the roof of their apartment building.  But they cannot escape the tragedies of the Holocaust for long, and before the War is over, Yanek finds himself sent to 10 concentration camps.  And he is sent on two death marches.  But amidst the nightmare of his life, he is able to find glimmers of hope that help him survive.  Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener.

What I Loved:
  • Like I said, this book, although probably a middle school or freshman-level read, could easily be read by strong elementary readers.  
  • Despite the heavy Holocaust content--gas chambers, death marches, etc.--the book was "clean" and appropriate.  In other words, not too gruesome for readers.  I say that I loved this only because I know younger readers will grab this book.
  • I've read a lot of Holocaust fiction--wow!  Ten concentration camps and two death marches?!  I'm so glad this story was told since it is based off a true life.  
What I Didn't Love:
  • Like I said, I've read a lot of Holocaust fiction.  And even though this book covers ten concentration camps and is based on a true story, I didn't read anything here that surprised me.  Nothing new.  Not that I want to belittle Jack Gruener's story.  But in terms of literature, I didn't read anything different from the hundreds of other Holocaust stories.
  • This book was so broad, so vague.  Chapters could have been spent on what was skimmed over.  Covering ten concentration camps is a lot, but it all seemed so vague and hazy in the end.
A decent read for me--one that's good for anyone new to reading about the Holocaust.  Three of five high heels for me!

What are some of your favorite Holocaust reads?

Stop back by to see an outfit based on the 1930s in Europe!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

To Be Perfectly Honest-Inspired Outfit

Happy Thursday, everyone!  Wow, it is C-O-L-D here in Indiana!  Like FREEZING cold!

So let's warm things up with an outfit post, shall we?  Back in December I posted a review of Sonya Sones' book To Be Perfectly Honest. It follows Colette, a teen whose mom is a celebrity and who just wants to live her own life.  So in other words, their relationship is a little rocky.

When I decided to design an outfit after Colette, I kept thinking about the two sides to her.  The side that has to smile and be a celebrity's daughter, and the side that hates her mother's decisions.  So a behaved girl with a little rebellious streak.  So with that inspiration, I decided on a floral outfit with a little edge.  And here's what I created:

A little girly, a little edgy.  

Let's discuss!
  • The dress is a simple yet cute floral sundress.  To Be Perfectly Honest is set during the summer, so I could definitely see Colette wear this dress when she leaves their hotel home-away-from-home.
  • But instead of wearing cute sandals or heels, I think Colette would throw on some Converse, just to make her mother mad.
  • Multiple layers of bracelets always seem edgy to me.  They seem to have that "I don't care that I'm wearing too many bracelets--I like them all!" attitude.  So I put bracelets on both arms, one being a layered look.
  • Colette isn't Gothic, so I didn't want to be so edgy that I made her wear all black.  So I threw in some deep burgundy nail polish.
What do you think?  Could you see Colette, a rebellious teenager, wearing something like this?

Dress--House of Fraser
Shoes--Pac Sun
Layered Bracelets--One Kings Lane
Nail Polish--OPI "Just Beclaws"

Tomorrow I'll be reviewing a historical fiction book--check back to see what I thought!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Slaying the Debt Dragon-Inspired Outfit

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Last week I shared about my friend Cherie's new book Slaying the Debt Dragon.  I am 100% behind this book and oh-so-proud of Cherie and her husband, Brian, for sharing their story.  Which means I couldn't wait to design an outfit for the book!

But before I share it...let me backtrack a minute.  A while ago, I came across this image from Pinterest (oh, Pinterest!) and thought it was a great look:

Skinny mint jeans, navy / white stripe top, navy blazer, mint green scarf, tan wedge sandals
(Image source link broken/unknown)

I love the mix of the navy and mint and the hint of a nautical theme.  

Now back to Slaying the Debt Dragon...if you learn anything early-on from Cherie, it's that getting out of debt probably means (well, let's be honest--surely means) cutting back on spending.  So going out and buying pieces for a new outfit just wasn't practical.  So I did what we all need to learn to do--shopped my closet!

Did you know that the majority of Americans only wear 30% of their wardrobe (heard yesterday on The Today Show)?!  That's crazy, right?!  Why are we buying pieces and not wearing them?  So I hunted my closet and created this FREE outfit (did you hear that, Cherie?  FREE!):

A pretty good match, right?  Nautical, mint, navy, jacket, scarf...

I used mint skinny jeans, a navy tank top, jean jacket, striped scarf, and nude heels.

It was so fun to create an outfit that I've never put together before!
What are you missing out on from your closet?  I DARE you to shop your closet to put together a new outfit!

*All pieces are from my closet and probably no longer in stores, but here is where I found each piece:
Mint pants--TJ Maxx
Jean Jacket--Old Navy
Tank Top--GAP
Scarf--J Crew Outlet

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Reading Resolutions!

Man, I am just a sucker for New Year Resolutions.  I love the idea of a fresh start (especially after a crazy holiday season) where I can get my life organized and back on track.  Although I did make "Eat more sushi" a New Year's Resolution this year...not sure what that says about me.

I also love making reading New Year's Resolutions, because as a librarian, it's super important to me to stay up on my reading.  So here are the resolutions that I've made for 2015:

  • Read 75 books this year.  This is a little more than 6 books a month and is do-able.  I know people who make goals of 150 books + a year, and with two kiddos at home, that just isn't practical for me.  So let's go for 75!
  • Read at least 1 nonfiction book a month.  I focus so much on fiction that I miss a lot of really good nonfiction.  I'm reading Slaying the Debt Dragon by my buddy Cherie Lowe right now, so I'm moving in the right direction!
  • Read 1 book a month that has been published in the last 6 months.  I read a lot, but I don't always read what's new.  And it drives me crazy to see so many people reading the newest books while I'm still reading books published a few years ago.  I need to do better at staying current.
  • Listen to 10 audiobooks this year.  I love audiobooks, but my short-term driving doesn't allow me to get much listening time.  So this needs to be a priority.
  • Read through the entire Bible.  My church has challenged us to do this, so hopefully it won't be too hard to read through the whole Bible in one year.  I read a lot of books...I need to make sure I'm keeping myself in THE Book!
Five reading goals is good for me--do you have any reading goals?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Slaying the Debt Dragon--In Stores Today!

First of all, Happy New Year!!!  I hope you had a fun-filled evening ringing in the new year--we have 3 coughing males in our house so we kept it low-key with Netflix and reading.  Although I did make the Mr. and I a fancy champagne cocktail...

A splash of cranberry juice, some bubbly, and a few blackberries!

I have a few resolutions for the year (I'm a sucker for New Year resolutions!)--I'm jumping on board with my church to read the Bible in a year, I'd like to run a 5K, and I want to eat more sushi (yes, I made that a resolution).  So cheers!  Here's to all our resolutions and an adventurous, grace-filled 2015!  

Although I hate to point out that 2015 is already a little disappointing...I mean, Back to the Future DID make me think I'd be flying in cars at this time in my life...

But onto the post!  So obviously I review books on this little blog...rarely do I talk about a book BEFORE I've read it.  But this is no ordinary book.

I'm so excited to announce that my friend Cherie's book Slaying the Debt Dragon is available in stores today!  Guys, go out and buy this book RIGHT NOW!  

(Image via Goodreads)

Cherie and I have been friends for quite a few years now.  It was just a few summers ago that we sat and talked about our dreams for the future...and her dream was to write a book.  A book about her story of fighting and conquering her dragon of debt (which was more than $127,000!).

But this book is so much more than that.  It's about knowing that your mistakes (whether financial or not) do not make you alone.  It's about being a team with your spouse to make solid family decisions.  It's about having hope in the midst of darkness.  And I'm so dang proud of her for telling you this story!

Remember how I told you that I read during NYE?  Well Luke and I read the Introduction and Chapter 1 of Slaying the Debt that's a way to ring in the New Year!  We had really good conversation about our own financial story and what changes we want to make in our lives.

A few nights ago I attended the launch party for Cherie and her book.  It was such a fun, joyful event at a local coffee shop.  We drank coffee, listened to great music, bought our books for Cherie to sign, and posed for photo booth shots.  I was just so excited to be a part of Cherie's celebration!

The hubs and me with Cherie!

Go to #SlayDebt to see what others are saying about the book and their debt story!

Guys, I'm only a chapter in and I'm so into this book.  Buy it, talk about it, and get yourself out of the debt that is consuming our world.

Proud of you, Queen Cherie!