November 2021 Product of the Month
Last month, back in October (and yes, I do recognize that November is almost over--huge apologies for being tardy!), I had the pleasure of attending a small open house for a new start-up company, Biya. This open house was to showcase Biya's products and to spread the word that sustainable home decor can look fashionable! Biya is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but the products are made in India, allowing the owners, Pooja and Prateesha, to share the works of Indian artisans. The company makes items for home decor, tableware, and kitchenware. All of the fabulous goodies are sustainable, chemical free, and made out of grass, metal, clay, linen, and wood.
I walked into the apartment where the open house was being held with the mindset that I was going to behave and not purchase a thing; as my mother always told me in jewelry stores: shop with your eyes, not with your hands. But from the moment I entered the inviting space, full of all the eye-catching products, I could tell that I would have a difficult time doing this. I felt like I was walking into an high-end home store. Both Pooja and Prateesha were quite friendly and helpful, happy to tell me all about their business and products.
I wanted one of everything, but being on a financial diet I finally told myself I could purchase just one item...my only problem was then having too many options to choose from! My eyes kept going back to a pair of clay candle holders. The orbs come as a pair (Two for the price of what I thought was one?? SCORE!). The terra-cotta color remains on the outside of the candleholder's round shape, but the inside is painted in a metallic gold. Every time I light my candles, the gold reflects the light causing it to shine brighter, while the strategically placed holes along the tops allow the light to dance, creating a warm, intimate ambience.
As you shop for the upcoming holidays or for any gifts throughout the year, I want to suggest that you take a look at Biya. Support our local economy while also being good for the Earth. Mother Nature and your friends will thank you!
Shout Outs of the Month: October 2021
It is now October, which means a new “Shout Out of the Month”. I won’t lie, I have a list on my laptop of quite a few people, companies, and products I want to give a “shout out” to. But, I can’t do all of them at once, so I will compromise with myself and just do two.
Shout Out of the Month #1: Tusker Trail
I’ve been fortunate to travel to fabulous destinations around the world. My first major overseas trip was to Tanzania...to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. If you knew me, hiker would not be a word you’d associate with me. But, I got it in my crazy mind that this was something I wanted to do, and when I’m determined and people try to talk me out of it, I will do it. I spent a year training for the hike, but took months before I started training to find the right trekking company. Long story short, I went with Tusker Trail, a company with experience and an excellent track record. At the time, I didn’t know that Tusker would change my life or that I would go on more trips with them.
My experience in Tanzania was life changing. I will eventually post a condensed version of the trip on this site, but if you can’t wait that long, feel free to check out my original travel blog Mountains Worth the Valley. I felt extremely well taken care of on the trek and was even successful in reaching the mountain’s summit.
A few years later, after managing an autoimmune disease, I contemplated another trek. I was nervous since I didn’t think I’d be able to go on any trips like that again because of the autoimmune disease. But since the medication seemed to help me keep it under control, I decided to look at more easy going adventures that would help ease me back into it.
So, I eased back into the saddle with a horse trek across Western Mongolia with Tusker Trail. This time, I was able to meet the owners, Eddie and Amy Frank. They are two of the most down-to-earth, personable, friendly, kind souls that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. While riding through the Altai Mountains, I had time to chat with Amy a bit about another trek I really wanted to do, but wasn’t sure it was right for me due to my illness; I’m of course talking about Everest Base Camp. She was nothing but patient, understanding, and compassionate. Most importantly, she encouraged me to go for it.
The following November, I found myself greeting Amy in Nepal, as she would be one of the guides for the Everest Base Camp. Throughout the hike, I often found myself frustrated with my body. I struggled physically, which caused me to struggle mentally and emotionally. But again, Amy was patient. She told me that I was my biggest obstacle, not my illness. And she was right. With her guidance and the help of the amazing team of sherpas, I was able to make it to Everest Base Camp.
But just because my trekking days were over, didn’t mean my relationship with Tusker was over. To this day, I follow them on Facebook and even occasionally check the “Kili Cam” on their site so I can see the mountain that started it all. I even chat with Amy on occasion. Most recently, my 5th grade class (last year) was starting a major journey into PYP Exhibition and I wanted them to focus on their passions in order to drive their exhibition pieces. A few teachers and I reached out to people we knew that could maybe share their passions and journeys in order to inspire our students. I immediately thought of Amy. She asked Eddie and he created a wonderful video for my students, offering to help in any way he could.
It’s for these reasons that I want to give a shoutout to the most amazing trekking company. Tusker Trail is truly a caring outfitter that will guide you, not only on expeditions and treks, but also into getting to know yourself.
Thank you, Eddie, Amy, and Tusker Trail for changing my life for the better.
Shoutout of the Month #2: Trilli
Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook when a random video pops up? You’re memorized by the video? And then you go on a search for the company or person in the video? Well, that is how I came across Trilli, a glitter artist.
I’m obsessed with glitter. I love sparkles. I like shiny things. So, one day as I was scrolling through my feed, I saw a video with glitter. Now I can’t tell you where this video was from or who posted it, but I can tell you it stopped my fingers on the mouse. It was a video of an artwork covered in glitter being tilted so all of the glitter kind of rolls off to reveal a stunning portrait. Before returning to scrolling, I went off to find Trilli on Instagram. I love just watching the videos of her revealing her artwork or of how the light catches the glitter. I’ve followed her for a few years, admiring her work.
While trying to find people I could ask to make videos for my students to inspire them during their 5th Grade PYP Exhibition Provocation Week, I thought of Trilli. She was an artist that was doing something she loved. I sent her a message on Instagram and she replied! She was more than happy to participate! She created a video for me to share with my students, posted it to her YouTube channel and Instagram.
This past summer as I was moving into my new apartment, the first apartment I ever picked out on my own thankyouverymuch, I knew I wanted some glitter art to display on the wall. I was able to travel back to the US and knew this was the time to indulge in the art I always admired; my biggest problem was that I didn’t know which piece I wanted! She has an amazing abstract one that I drool over, as well as a beehive piece, not to mention she experimented with some galaxy paintings over the summer. Then one night, Trilli posted a painting of a rose moth with a green background. It was small, but perfect for my living room color scheme. And then she had the nerve to post another piece with green and gold leaves...I couldn’t decide between the two, so I purchased both. I don’t think I have ever been that excited for art to arrive!
Upon arriving back home in Dubai, I found the perfect place to hang my art... a place where the light catches it just right every time I enter my apartment. It makes me smile. And her artwork will make you smile as well! I mean, how can glitter not make anyone smile?
See for yourself! Go to her site now: Trilli Art!
Amy patiently listening to me.
Pardon my pictures...they really do not do the artwork justice.
Shout Out of the Month: September 2021
If you walked into my bathroom, you would spy about four or five different Rodan+Fields products. I love Rodan+Fields and I've gotten a few of my friends hooked on the products as well...because they are just that good. Let me tell you a short story:
A few years ago, I was living in China and my forehead was showing tons of visible wrinkles. I was approaching 40 and getting a bit self-conscious about the mountains and valleys and was looking into getting botox during the upcoming summer when visiting home. I wasn't relishing needles being stuck into my forehead, but I was more upset about having so many harsh wrinkles. I felt like those wrinkles were the only thing people were looking. Then I noticed a friend of mine, from my early teaching days in Florida, advertising that she was now selling these products. I'm not one to jump onto any sort of bandwagon, but thought a cream would be better than needles. I reached out to her and she sent me a few samples. Only a few days after using the products, I could tell a big difference. Needless to say, I was hooked.
One product I ordered was the Active Hydration Body Replenish lotion. I have dry skin due to an autoimmune disease and needed a lotion that would saturate my skin without the yucky feeling. One that would last and be worth the money. After a week of using this on my hands, arms, legs, and décolletage, I noticed a change in my skin. It was silky!
The following winter, I was home again and my mum was talking about how she wanted to find a product that would moisturize her skin. I loaned her a tub of my cream. Before I left to return to China, my mum had me order a tub for her as well! Now, I love my mum, but she isn't one to just order a product because she knows the person selling it or to make someone feel better. She'll order it and use it if it works.
Fast forward to this past year, about three or four years after I first introduced my mum to the Active Hydration Body Replenish. At this time, I am now a very lazy consultant, really only selling to my mum and a friend here and there. I'm far from active. In April of this last year, melanoma was discovered in the tip of my mum's thumb bone and she had to have it amputated. Now, you know how ugly new scars can be....they can be red and bright for months!
Once the bandage was taken off the amputation site by the doctor, my mum starting using Active Hydration Body Replenish on her hands again. The appearance of her scar is amazing! You can see the scar does not look as if it is only a few months old. This is why Active Hydration Body Replenish is my first "Product of the Month" for this blog.
As I have mentioned, I am a consultant for Rodan+Fields (again, self admittedly, a very lazy one that knows she needs to sell more!). I urge you to take a look at the site and to see all that Rodan+Fields has to offer...and help a girl out!