Friday, September 1, 2017

//REVIEW: Silver Maple Farm Soaps


Hey y'all! How is your summer going? Between my three jobs, getting ready for my upcoming wedding, and trying to fundraise for my next illustrated poetry book, I've been pretty slammed! But that doesn't mean I haven't been able to get a couple fun reviews lined up for y'all!

 Today we have a nice little collection from Silver Maple Farm Soaps which uses goats' milk for their amazing soap product line! Best yet, these soaps and beauty products are paraben, preservative and philhalate free! Y'all know how much I endorse all-natural products and home businesses!


I was impressed by the variety of scents and colors I saw in the Etsy shop. 
Everything is so aesthetically pleasing! and trust me, as an artist, that's a big deal to me. 


I was sent three items - a juicy mandarin orange soap, a Carolina honeysuckle soap, and a beeswax lipbalm. Click each link to see the original Etsy listings!


SO ABOUT THE SOAPS: I absolutely love the scents of both the orange and honeysuckle. I am not sure which is my favorite, because I have always loved fruity smells...and honeysuckle, because it reminds me of where I live. Even though I don't live in either of the Carolinas. 
Both soaps lather deliciously, especially for being all-natural and without synthetic emulsifiers. 
Seriously. I look forward to getting a shower just because I have yummy soap to use now! 
And once again, we have to appreciate the aesthetic. I love the little engraving on the side and the color choices. 



And can we talk about this lip balm?! oh my word, this might have been my favorite of all. It smells so deliciously amazing! And it makes my lips feels moisturized and healthy. 
The scent is apple butter. 10/10 would recommend!







Overall, I would definitely recommend Silver Maple Farm. 
The quality of their soap and lip balm is superior! And it's comforting to know that I don't have to make sacrifices for my health by using synthetic, chemically laded products. 

The prices are reasonable and affordable, too! I will probably be buying more from this shop in the future, because I am definitely hooked!

Check them out for yourself and let me know which soap was your favorite!

www.etsy.com/shop/SilverMapleFarmSoaps



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

//my homeschool HORROR STORY!


Dear Homeschoolers Anonymous,

I just recently discovered your blog through a friend. I read about how you encourage homeschool alumni to write in their stories of abuse, neglect or involvement in a cult-like lifestyle. 

"If you would like to submit your own experience as a homeschool student or alumni (Christian or otherwise), we would love to hear from you. Whether it is a story of evolving personally, suffering abuse, breaking free from a cult, or finding the strength to be yourself, we want to give you a platform to be heard and supported. Both positive and negative stories are welcome."

The thing is, I don't think you really want to hear MY story. I'd bet a million bucks, if I was a gambling type. You focus so much on highlighting the negative details that a few people have experienced, due to abusive parents or being in an unbiblical church, that positivity doesn't really belong.

People just love to make blanket statements, when it comes to this topic. The leftists love to just throw homeschooling, "fundamentalism", Christianity and abuse all in the same casserole dish together, serving out a bowl of misinformation, falsehoods and ignorance. 

These are strong words, but they are totally justified. I think at core it's because society depends on people to be raised in a way that doesn't question authority, or think outside the box. Society wants lemmings who will just watch their Hollywood TV shows, buy the products of big box industries, and mull over which Kardashian just got a new butt implant. 

Society doesn't want THINKERS or DOERS, let alone Christian warriors. Society demands a level of conformity to the preset standards, which are constantly shifting. If you don't conform, you are labeled "weird" and "backwards". And if you happen to be Christian, you are just called a "fundie" and a religious freak, and generally the secular public won't take you seriously. (Isn't that ironic, in such a "tolerant" nation?)

So anyways, here we have this crazy phenomenon called "homeschooling", and oh what terrors it has wrecked on our placid, entertainment-obsessed country! Oh, us poor "neglected" people who weren't raised on Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Oh, us poor "sheltered" folks that never got to have Hannah Montana posters on our walls during the early 2000's. 

How on earth did we make it? I mean, how does anybody make it without watching a few Britney Spears music videos in their early childhood? 
How come I'm not in a mental center somewhere getting treated for abuse and psychological damage?

I guess I would be your "horror story".

 Believe it or not, I actually SURVIVED homeschooling! Crazy, right?!

I grew up, got engaged to an awesome man who is just my type, have already published a full length historical novel and two poetry books, have composed over a dozen musical pieces, have performed across the nation, can play 9 different musical instruments and spoken with people of all different ethnicities and social backgrounds. 
I've illustrated a children's book. 
I've organized, planned and produced public contra dances by myself for the past two years. Some of the dances had over 60 attendees. (social anxiety?)
I have been involved in public relations, public speaking and performance since I was a young girl, and have always loved it. 
 Oh, and I currently hold 3 different fitness certifications and am now working on my fourth. As a personal trainer, I have trained dozens of people and helped folks work toward their health goals. I have been given the chance to change peoples' lives for the better, which feels pretty darn amazing.
 I have taught piano for over 6 years. 
I have run hundreds of miles since age 14. I have lifted over 600 pounds with my legs. 
I have traveled to most of the United States and been on an airplane more times than I can count. 
In high school, I studied college-level biology, cellular biology, geology and paleontology as well as astronomy and meteorology. 
By age 14, I had already been running my own business for 4 years. By 14, I had already gotten involved in local politics, by raising awareness of a detrimental high-density development plan that could have ruined the rustic, rural beauty of north Marion county, my beloved homeland. I created petitions, talked to locals and even made a video that I sent to the government officials. 

I also was the secretary of a local farmers' market committee board, once again getting involved in local 'politics' where I learned many real-life economics. 

None of this, by the way, was forced on me by my parents. None of it was shoved down my throat as an expectation to fulfill. My parents simply gave me exposure to opportunities, and lots of encouragement, and I jumped on them and took flight after my dreams. 

Am I abused? Am I neglected? Am I socially inept? Hmmmm let me think about it...

By the way, I am not bragging about myself. I am merely telling you what I have done in the past 21 years of my life, thanks to my amazing parents who encouraged me every step of the way and who by the grace of God, taught me from home and by the Word of God.  

I am not idolizing the concept of home education. I am simply applauding it. 

Because I was raised in an environment that allowed me to explore my full potential as a human being, without condemnation or judgement, I am who I am today. My parents gave me structure, teaching me all the basics of a good education. But they also allowed me to be myself. They allowed me to think for myself, to research all the different options, to consider all the possibilities. They let me decide what I would wear, without making me feel ashamed of my body. By the way, denim jumpers were never a staple, let alone included in my closet. lol thank goodness! I got to see movies and do things that most every other kid could do, maybe minus the really crappy stuff that young eyes shouldn't be seeing anyways. 

As for socialization, tell me how I've not been incredibly successful in these few years of my life, and maybe I'll consider your idea that I wasn't socialized properly. 

Every aspect of my life involves social interaction, whether it is for work purposes or just for fun. I am an extrovert who loves people! And anybody who knows me will tell you I am a super confident individual overflowing with ambition and drive. 

(non-socialized people geeeeenerally don't tend to be like that js)

Seriously. I could go on and on about that, but I was exposed to all the different age groups, all the different social and religious backgrounds, all the different ethnicities. Yes, I had enough friends and no they weren't just my siblings. No, my family wasn't rich at the time. No, we were not a small family. I mean, there are 5 of us kids, so...yeah. 

Homeschooling is not a cult. If it ends up feeling like one, guess what? 

You're doing it wrong. 

Home education is not a religion and neither is it automatically associated with "fundamentalism". (There are actually a good number of liberal homeschoolers out there, btw) That being said, a good number of conservative Christians do tend to end up teaching their kids in their own style, instead of sending them away to an unnatural environment where they are ridiculed, bullied and compared to other kids in a way that is harmful to the brain and severely damages their creativity and reasoning powers. Believe it or not, Christianity is totally separate from home education. 

You don't have to home school to be a Christian, or vice versa. The two just fit together really nicely, that's all. 

So yeah. That's my little rant. I get so sick of people condemning something they don't understand. 
Don't listen to the media when they try miserably to convey life as a home educated person. As I mentioned earlier, their agenda is skewed. 

Now, a small percentage of homeschool alumni will tell you they suffered from actual abuse or neglect - just like a small percentage will try to tell you that Michael Pearl endorses literally beating children to death. 
And sadly, some parents out there are truly abusive and have messed up ideas of what Christianity is. Some create their own idea of what God is, and in the process end up creating their own little religion where it's all about rules and legalism, instead of Biblical truth and grace. And this is a very tragic thing, that no real Christian would ever do or inflict on their child.
But can I also mention, this is no new thing in the world? And it happens more in 'typical' homes than it does in the 'fundie' ones, statistically? Don't accept the exception as being the norm, when it's not. We have to keep things in proper perspective.

My life is amazing, and it always has been, even despite the mental illness I've battled in the past and a couple failed relationships. I've hit a couple bumps in the road, but it was never for naught, and dare I say it, but that's just part of growing up. I have no regrets and have nothing to hold against anyone.

The reason I call this my "horror story", is because of how horrified the liberals/communists/big government pushers would be to know that I am literally proving their agendas wrong with every moment of my little life. Every success that I add to my years, every little dream I accomplish. 

All the people who love to condemn homeschooling as a practice, to call it detrimental, abusive and cancerous...where are you now? 

//peace out, y'all//
l.k.o. 


visit my actual website here



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

//gone verde


I'm telling you, Shakti never fails to please. 
It's always exciting when I get an email from them asking to review another product, and I definitely scored big (again!) with this gorgeous little number!


I apologize that my photos are not the best quality for this review. It was a bit rushed, which I kind of regret, but oh well. 


eShakti clothes are awesome because they're guaranteed to fit you no matter what shape or size you're rockin'. 
Every time I get a new dress from eShakti I know it's gonna fit me like a glove, and flatter my figure in all the right places! And I'm never disappointed! 



(still haven't really figured out the whole modeling thing, but I can't take myself too seriously, right?)





This dress is SO comfortable. It's a soft, slightly stretchy material, very similar to this one - a heavyweight jersey cotton blend, I think? Could be wrong there, but that's what it feels like. It's not flimsy by any means and I know it was made with high-quality standards. Another pro about getting dresses from eShakti! 


At the same time, I'm not sweating my butt off from it being too thick of a fabric. And living in the Sunshine State, I can fully testify that it gets hot here!




My camera was about to die at this point so it was like "hurry, try and get in as many shots as you can!"




Throwing in a vaguely pin-up inspired pose because it just felt right at that moment.



My makeup routine was the same as what I did for my other retro eShakti dress photoshoot.
Pretty simple and typical for the 1940s. Just my favorite Besame lippie, some blush, concealer, and a smidgen of mascara. I experimented with a new hairstyle, too, which I'm pretty happy with. Maybe one day I will advance on to those much-envied victory rolls. 



To complete the 1940s look, one absolutely must have tights or at least the appearance of tights! Which I know I still need to add to my 40s ensembles...*cough* if anybody wanted to send me some to review I wouldn't complain...*cough
In fact, women would even draw a line down the back of their legs to give that imitation, if they couldn't afford tights. Me? I was running out of time today so didn't want to put that extra effort in...oh the shame!


The "I have no idea what I should do next here but at least I'm having fun" look.


Overall, I'm in love with this dress! The cutouts in the front give it the perfect little touch without being over-the-top. I absolutely adore the shade of green. So classic!

If you love vintage-inspired clothing or the idea of clothing you can actually customize to your own measurements, you should definitely check out eShakti. It's the only company that offers this kind of service for sizes 0-36W! 

They also offer $25 off to new customers! 
(Be sure to tell them that I sent you!)

//details//

dress: eShakti
shoes: ModCloth
vintage gloves: gift from my late Aunt Ruth
 lipstick: Besame in 1946 Red Velvet
blush: Cowgirl Dirt in Buckle


in love with the verde? let me know in the comments what you think of this look!


Note: I was given this product in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Official Release of TROF!



Yep, you heard me right! 

My historical fiction The Rebels of Florida is now published and available for purchase, after ten exasperating years of blood, sweat and tears! 

So what are you waiting for? GO GET A COPY RIGHT NOW, YA HEAR?

You can purchase directly from me on my NEW website here, or on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online as a myriad of other worldwide vendors. 

*does happy dance*

Even if you don't get yourself a beautiful copy of your own, (trust me you really ought to) definitely go check out my website because from now on I'll be posting more over there for professional reasons. 

God is so good in fulfilling my childhood dream of publishing this book, and I really hope it touches the world. If you really want to be a dear, share the word with your friends and whoever you think might enjoy a dramatic historical novel about Florida's involvement in the Civil War. Muchas gracias!



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

//in which i pretend to be a retro queen



Hey y'all! So, I know I never really post on here anymore, but it's because I have two jobs now and one is basically full-time. Then I have all the other things in life like music, publishing my book, hanging with friends, family and such. And being an adult. So yeah, doesn't leave time (or motivation) to blog. 
BUT! I got offered a chance to review something again, and who can turn down free clothes?!

eShakti sent me a glamorous knit dress a few weeks ago, and it is maybe the best thing in my life since I discovered kombucha. 


I feel so classy in it! From the perfect shade of crimson, to the comfy fabric, to the way it flatters my curves, what's not to like? 


I know I'm not much of a model, but sometimes I enjoy trying. You're never too old to dress up and have fun pretending to be a time-traveler!
 What's terrific is that this dress is vintage-looking, yet made with breathable, stretchy material. Some actual vintage clothes can look amazing, yet be quite uncomfortable to actually wear.


It features a wrap-around design--which I'll admit took a little getting used to, but it definitely works. 



eShakti offers many different types of clothing for women, and everything is customizable! 
It's the only company that offers this kind of service for sizes 0-36W! 
They have modern styles, as well as retro-themed. Every piece of clothing they have ever sent me has been high-quality. 
In my experience, I would definitely say that they are a company worth buying from. 




Gotta say, I feel like this picture is a bit Peggy Carter-esque, no? I wish I had had a cool, old pistol to hold in that pose. It would have completed everything. 







As far as makeup goes, the main attraction is obviously the lipstick. I didn't put on any eyeshadow, my brows are completely natural, and I have merely one coat of mascara. I put a little blush on my cheeks after applying my usual concealer where it was needed. 

I'm no 1940s expert (yet), but from my research this is a pretty accurate look for the era. Little focus on the eyes and more attention to the lips and cheeks. And no, they didn't have contouring back then.




This unique hat is actually an original from the 1930s. I'm guessing late 30s, but I could be wrong. I found it at a local antique clothing shop in Micanopy and fell in love. There's something so delightful about old hats! Maybe they'll come back in vogue one of these years? They definitely need to. 


This mask isn't really 1940s or 30s or anything in particular. But I couldn't help myself. Masks always look awesome in photoshoots!


//details
dress: eShakti (for reference, this dress is a size 8, and I'm 5'8")
heels: ModCloth
vintage 30s hat: local antique store
gloves: vintage, a gift from my late Aunt Ruth
lipstick: Besame in 1946 Red Velvet
blush: Cowgirl Dirt in Buckle
pearls: vintage, gift from Grandma 
//


I definitely recommend checking out eShakti! 
You get a $25 discount if you are a new customer! They are also running a 15% off special up until January 19th! (only 2 days left to take advantage of it!)

What do you think of my retro look? Should I try more 40s-inspired outfits? Let me know in the comments!


Note: This product was given me for free in exchange for my honest review.