Book Review: “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Hello!

Last year, I was scrolling through Facebook and this meme had popped up from a library, stating mainly to those who are adults, that it is okay to enjoy reading YA (young adult) books. I took this to heart because I have heard of my favorite booktubers feeling uneasy about checking out books in this genre, and to see this slip all throughout my social media has influenced my own journey branching out from other genres that I feel weird reading like children’s literature. I wasn’t a lover of reading (of any kind) when I was little, so now I’m diving deep into classics I had pushed aside in the past.

This book isn’t part of that list, but it is middle grade, which is targeted for students in junior high or middle school, at least that’s what I believe is the meaning behind it. An example of what is considered middle grade are the Harry Potter books. Of course, they take a darker note after ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but for the most part they are always regarded for pre-teens around the ages of 10-15.

WARNING: there are some spoilers below. So, If you are planning on reading the book in the near future, you might want to skip this post!

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I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.


Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

taken from Goodreads.

This was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and a brilliant read for this month as it is Ramadan in the Muslim communities. As you may know, I love to learn, and a few years ago I was introduced to the holiday event Ramadan and Eid. This was one that I was not familiar with, but I was thrilled to learn what people do to celebrate the month of fasting, praying, and ultimately the renewal of life that comes with it. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, as I always read at least one book around Ramadan, and this year I chose “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga.

This story of a little girl who spent her early years in Syria, living with her family, going to school, and having the typical childhood, until the start of the violence there breaks every thing she is used to, and it immediately made me remember an old friend of mine, her name was Reem, and she lived in Syria. One of her last tweets was in 2014, and honestly, every time she came on with new updates about her and her outlook on the country as a whole was so heartbreaking for us. I haven’t talked about her much because it hurts to know how close she was to it. I don’t know if she made it out of Syria and I’ve checked her previous accounts on Twitter, but there’s nothing there. I always hope she is somewhere free of the chaos and that’s all I can really do.

For our main character Jude, you are able to see the innocence of this young girl navigating this new world in a way; I liked the way, we as the reader, were able to see the good and bad in Jude’s life. She goes to a school in America with her cousin, who was born here. It was interesting to see the differences between these little girls as they are part of the same blood but has been through different things. For Jude’s cousin Sarah, she wouldn’t be totally comfortable accepting a hijab after starting her period. You get the gist right away that she wasn’t raised like that and isn’t very accepting of Jude to being like that.

and I know I am not back home, but here, in this home.

Despite this, there was one girl that was a great addition to Jude’s life, and her name is Layla. She was born in the United States, but her family is from Lebanon and own a Middle Eastern restaurant that Jude visits to enjoy food and love of her native homeland. Layla is a great insight into what it is like for a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs and feels like she’s punished for it. I believe Sarah and Layla respect two sides of what it’s like being a girl in America. If people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. I heard this phrase a lot as a teenager, but it really spoke to me while reading about Jude in this book.

A way of getting acclimated to her new school was instantly being in an ESL class. ESL means “English Second Language” and I can remember seeing several students in school growing up, having to be hallways to learn English, because as far as I knew we didn’t have those at the time. Honestly, it wasn’t until high school we were allowed to choose between two languages to learn as an elective, and they were German and Spanish. In Jude’s case, she has three other students in her class, and they were from other parts of the world, and it was sweet to see them learn slang words like “bougie” (which I did not learn about until I was 28!) and phrases such as, “you know?”

There were so many things I truly adored about this book, but I did not enjoy how it ended. I felt like it should have given the reader more of what happens after that final scene, but instead we were left with a cliffhanger ending and it really angered me because I thought it could have continued on a little more, but I’ll get over it.

Have you read “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga yet? If so, what were your thoughts? What was your favorite scene(s) of the whole book?

snowflake

Blogmas: Wooden + Dots Ornaments

Hello!

As you may have noticed, and I still don’t know what happened because I had plans, but we didn’t put out any pumpkins this fall. My sister did, she decorated her entire front porch with various sizes of pumpkins, but we did not. I found it very surreal, because that’s my favorite thing to do in September and October is paint pumpkins. After that, I think my body was like, “okay, we need to find an alternative fast!” because this project came out of nowhere, but it ended up becoming a new favorite of mine.

In mid-October, I started looking for birthday gifts that weren’t books (I know it’s shocking!) and I found these wooden shapes and I sort of fell in love with them and then I found ones that were Christmas related and then all hell broke loose in my brain!

In the last year and a half, I’ve been watching a lot of reels and regular videos on YouTube of dot art. I still don’t remember what inspired the find in general, but I’m forever glad it came into my life. I used it in my 3 projects last Christmas. It was only a simple red dot here and there with a Q-Tip but it was still a new thing for me and I loved it. I have been working on it throughout 2021 and I finally felt comfortable enough to use the technique in my new project: the Christmas ornaments!


What you will need for this DIY:

  • Wood cut outs – it’s important for them to be “unfinished”
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tools
  • Damp washcloth
  • Paint palette or paper plate(s)

Before we get too into this part of the post, I wanted to show you how the ornaments came in the mail.

They were perfectly stuffed into this cute Santa Claus box. I was originally going to get the 160 pieces but I’m glad I switched to the 40 pieces because I would still be painting right now! Anyways, they were four traditional Christmas characters: a snowflake, bell, tree and baubles. You get 10 in each stack, so you have multiple designs you’d like to trade off, you are welcome to do it evenly. If you would like to purchase this set or the others, click here for the Amazon page. You also get clusters of string for each of the ornaments, plus a small bag of metallic beads, but I did not use them.

Raining Dots

I started with the Christmas trees, and I copied the same color scheme I did with my last project, so I mixed my green with a tiny bit of blue and I love how they all came out. After finishing all 10 trees with their base coats, I moved on to the trunk and I poured a small amount of brown into my palette, and I used one layer of paint for that part. I am a lover of DecoArt acrylic paints, (thanks to Lydia May on YouTube!) I usually don’t need more than two coats depending on the shade, and I was very happy with my color choices this time around, including the yellow!

Once everyone was in the process of drying, I switched my attention on my design ideas for a few of my baubles. I knew I wanted to create a series of animals, but I’m not really good at it so I went looking on Pinterest and found a great step-by-step guide of the Fox for my friend Brittany. She was the one who really inspired this part in the first place. I continued to search for guides of the Cow and Pig, but I wasn’t able to find anything, so they were basically all free-foot sketches. After that, I stopped for the day, and came right back to it the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to add another selection of dotting tools. I have the smaller sizes, and I’ve been using them for about a year now and they are very nice for me to grip my toes around and make my dots, but the others are various sizes and I have been wanting to get them for a while now because I wanted to try my foot at the larger dots. I am having issues how to grip them, but I expected that to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out with my designs (honestly, I had the phrase, “less is more” in my mind the whole time!) and I tried to keep it that way.

When I came back to my trees, I was ready to decorate everybody, and I used two colors: yellow and a light gray (I mixed my gray with a tiny bit of white!) and I painted the stars with those colors and would switch the yellow star with silver garland. I was smart with this; I drew out a zig-zag design on most of them and would follow the lines with my dotting tool and I really loved it! Some look like traditional Christmas trees, but there are five of them with the “walking technique” which is coating your desired tool with paint and dotting down the canvas, I love this so much I did it to my Bonsai pot in the spring! My parents saw the final tree with this design, and they love it. Honestly, everyone I’ve shared it to, has expressed the same thoughts too!

So, here are how the trees turned out.

There Goes Rudolph!

The second (or third) shape were the bells. I wasn’t impressed with the bells at all, they were very boring even without paint on them…

My thinking behind them was the golden bells you normally see on pictures, but I could not get the yellow to turn to a pretty gold and I tried like three different times and was only successful after finishing with them. I was so mad at that point, but I moved on though. Since I had 10 of these bells, I was influenced by a fragment of a carol “with silver bells ringing” I kept hearing while doing the base colors and I created the silver hue again for the rest of my bells and I thought they looked so adorable!

I left to dry overnight and I was really worried about how boring they looked, so that night I thought about adding a reindeer face on it and in my dreams they looked so cute and I was over the moon when I started sketching out how I wanted the antlers to go, but once I started doing my dots I got a little worried because the design started to look a little bit like a pair of balls and by my second bell, I became terrified at what was appearing but thankfully my mom thought they were great, especially after I put the eyes and big red nose at the end.

The reindeer/bells are definitely my favorite, even with the cock and balls antlers, they still look amazing! I did a good job on them and that’s something I rarely do when it comes to painting, is enjoy what I am creating, and lately it’s been so fulfilling to believe in my artwork for the first time.

Let It…

For the third ornament, we have snowflakes.

I think both the trees and snowflakes were the easiest to do because they required a small set of skill. You can free hand your designs to make things simple and they would still end up being very beautiful. When I began on the snowflakes though, I thought I would be able to play with my various sizes of tools, but I rarely got away from the blue tool, which is a little bit bigger than the purple tool. I basically treated the flakes like the trees when it came to their designs and used the walking technique quite a bit throughout the process.

And like the trees, I kept my color scheme pretty limited, I only used white for the base and used two different blues, but my favorite shade was the bright, neon like because it reminded me of the Frozen films. I’ll be honest, I had Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (and of course, Olaf too!) in my head all while I was working on these and I’m glad I did because it got me out of my head, and I allowed myself to make mistakes with them because I mean every snowflake is one of a kind so I just left them the way they were… well, some of them! There were 3 that definitely had to be fixed but after I was done, I basically pushed them as far away as possible, so I wasn’t able to add more dots!

The Cast of Characters

Lastly, the bauble balls were my least favorite because I knew what I wanted to do with a few of them and it scared the living daylights out of me! I got through in one piece thank God, but not without psyching myself out in the first round.

So, like I explained above while I was waiting for my trees to dry, I got started on figuring out what I wanted for three of my baubles, the rest was pretty much left until I did the base coats. I treated the baubles like the bells, as I split them up as they were painted in traditional Christmas colors: green and red. I was so worried the red would be too dark for my animal baubles, but thankfully they design held up great against the paint, and I was still able see every part.

My biggest worry now was, do I have a brush that was small enough to paint the character without creating a big mess around it, and I was thoroughly surprised as I found a tiny brush that was not only perfect for the designs, but it quickly became a favorite of mine because it allowed me to gain back some of the control as far as what I wanted to bring into each animal. I didn’t stop using my dotting tools though as I had made the eyes and noses with a small tool, and they turned out as adorable as my Rudolph/reindeers in the end.

When I was done with them, I was fairly tempted to leave the rest of the baubles plain, but I thought they looked too boring for that, and I started experimenting and I made array of different ones but I did one that spells the word “Woof” for a family friend, they have a Pittie and they recently got a Beagle puppy so as my mom told me, “it fits” for them, and then I surprised myself again but creating two baubles in a Ugly Christmas Sweater design and I’m still upset I did just do that with the rest but it was just a beautiful disaster that I need to remember for next Christmas!

Bring Me the Rainbow

My final bauble is very special because it is my nephew’s. Nolan has become obsessed with the moon and rainbows, and since I already got him a Moon phase garland for his room, I figured I needed to bring out his love for the rainbow too, so I reserved a bauble ornament for him. I don’t know why I didn’t do this with my nana’s ornament since she too is obsessed with the rainbow! Oh well, I will make a note of this for next year!

I was thrilled to do this for Nolan but I was also terrified too because I had to use the ruler to create a series of lines for each color, and honestly, this was a doozy! I was having a hard time making six, somewhat equal, lines for each dot and it was a hard task at first but once I got it all figured out, I poured out my paint on my palette and got to work on the actual dots.

This media has also become a favorite of my nephew too. He currently had two or three CDs I’ve made in the last year or so, the first one he just took home and the others I gave him because he kept holding onto them. I think in the new year, I will try to teach him how to do it so he can be excited about his own creations too! Anyways, I used my pink tool, which is the middle size and honestly, it was actually perfect for this design. I was going to use the tiny brush again to remove the empty spaces in between the dots but I stopped myself from doing it and messing the entire ornament up. Nolan was very excited to get his ornament. I don’t think he understood at first why I had given him a different design compared to his mommy’s pink reindeer, but I know he will cherish it nonetheless!

It is strange when a small thought that can appear in the middle of a sleepless night, can grow into such a huge project and yet bring so much good to a slice of the world. Homemade gifts are good for the soul. I give kudos to anyone who has a small business and fix up orders every day, because that is no small feat! As I told my nana the other day, now that I am done painting and the cards were shipped out and people are receiving their ornaments, I still feel like I need to be doing something, and I really hope it was finishing this post.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my process with this project. It was fun while it lasted, and now I can relax for the rest of this break. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time with your family, friends and/or pets. For anyone else, have a wonderful weekend!

Life | Mental Heath Update + Things I CAN Control

TW: talks about the dark side of depression and thoughts of suicide!

Hello!

Last year was so crazy that I ended up forgetting writing a two year post depression/mental health update. The only reason why I’m here now is because it’s been on my mind for the last few months. I am a whole month late but I don’t care about that too much, and I didn’t think you would mind either.

A “little” backstory of my struggle with depression.

I’ve had a semi-long history with it, It started in middle school, and just seemed to get worse after I graduated high school. The prospect of going to college and having to deal with different people, surroundings, etc was really exciting at the time, but you have to understand I wasn’t thinking like I had a serve physical disability. I was always in denial because I wanted to be like my friends, go to a regular class, live in a dorm and go to parties, everything that a normal college person does, I wanted it too.

When hell decided to descend into my life, I took it very hard. I was so depressed that I have MONTHS–between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2012–of memories gone! I thought of suicide many times, and just because I have a disability, doesn’t mean I never thought of ways on how it could work in my favor. When you are that low, you are as determined to end your life but thankfully, I never acted on those feelings, but every time I felt like I was heading into that suffocating black hole, I was terrified because I knew what was going to happen once it took hold of me again.

And then at the end of 2017, after my sister got been married and told everybody that they were going to wait five years to start trying to have a baby, they find out they were pregnant. I was already trying to deal with the aftermath of my papaw dying, and that one pretty much threw me over and I went down the biggest hole I’d been in since September 2010. I struggled to be happy for them becoming parents, my parents becoming grandparents and the fact that I was going to be an aunt, but I thoroughly jealous of the fact that my younger sister was going to have a baby.

I’ve always wanted to have a family of my own.

It was the one thing that I wanted to accomplish most of all.

Nothing else I ever did would matter as much as being a mother. I thought my disability would be pushed down like it had while I was growing up because I would be more focused on my child(ren) than my disability. This also shows you how much I despised my own body that would one day carry my own flesh and blood, so seeing my sister absolutely hate everything about being pregnant would make me want to scream after every visit! It angered me so much that this was happening, and then my nephew was born and I was instantly full of both good and bad emotions. I felt really guilty, but yet I was still holding on to that dream and so, it just continued to drag me down

I was supposed to have a doctor’s appointment to discuss taking anti-depressants into the middle of the pregnancy, my poor mom had to be my rock throughout those nine months because I was so sad. I would cry almost every night and finally, a week after Nolan was home, I started on my long journey to heal. In my first year update, I mentioned that I would still have my ups and downs, and that is definitely true all around but I will say, I have kept quite a few affirmations in my mind at all times and in the past year that has really helped me continue to work on myself.

I focus on what I can control, and I let go of what I can’t.

Once I saw this, everything in the last 11 years just washed away. It was infectious to learn this quote because now I don’t feel as many things that would easily, not to mention that would normally, irritate me because I know I am in control (oddly enough!) of my own body and peace of mind. The only thing I still have issues with, is my guilt about my sister being pregnant with my nephew. I still put myself in a guilt trip every once in a while but I am learning to get out of it before the whole thing just takes over, so that’s something to be proud of I think.

I should probably share that if you haven’t learned to control how you react to the different situations, like talking back, judging a book by its cover, learning that no response is still an answer, you probably won’t be able to really let things settle down. You don’t have to right every time. You respect the other person’s words and you go on living yours by your own measure. These are things you CAN control, which brings us to the next phase of this post.

I have a blog friend by the name of Nicky and she recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram last month and explained how life was going for her at the moment. She was feeling really out of it and discussed about dealing with finding control in daily life and she proceeded to create a list of things she could control, and I liked it so much that I decided I wanted to talk about it too, but in “Got Meghan” fashion, I like to chat and ramble on–obviously! I knew doing a simple Top 10 list wasn’t going to cut it, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone basically and this was the ending result I guess.

  1. How to breathe, because not many people have the luxury to do so
  2. Everything is by choice in life and dreamland
  3. Reaction to both positive and negative situations
  4. The book(s) I want to read next – for the most part!
  5. I can help people understand more about me, the ending result will not always be in my favor, but that’s the price to pay.
  6. If things don’t come to me at the right moment or fit into my monthly blogging schedule, I can always save it for a later date.
  7. Accepting myself, ALL of my self and being in the moment
  8. One-on-one time with the cats – even if they don’t like to share!
  9. What songs to include in my Spotify playlists
  10. Creativity to the arts, especially starting new medias and projects

Before I go, I would like to say that if you can, find someone to talk about your depression, whether it’s through a therapist, family member, best friend, co-worker, basically anyone you feel the most comfort and trust with your feelings but if you are unable to, I highly suggest writing about it. You could create a blog like I did, although deep in my haze I wasn’t in the mood to blog about anything, so maybe find a journal or if you are worried about someone seeing a diary or journal, keep a regular notebook like you would keep for school assignments, and write in there secretly. Of course, the best advice I can give you is the National Hopeline Network is completely free and the number is 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). There is another one I am giving you and that is, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and their number is, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I hope if you are struggling with life, whether you have a disability or not, I want to say, you’re not alone at all. There are ways you can thrive with life again.

My only question is, can you list out 10 things you CAN control like I did above?

Life | A Bit Of Greenery

Hello everyone!

For today’s post, I will be taking you on a little journey on how and why we are increasing our greenery around the house. It is a very interesting tale honestly, because it involves one person in my family that definitely doesn’t look the average person who loves to garden. I will also share why I am starting to embrace this hobby a bit too.

We are going to start on the “bigger” plants first, because they hold the bulk of the story.

This one is called Fritz or Fritz-y, as my mom has grown to name it. The funny thing is that, I thought she named it that for one of her favorite shows, The Closer. Brenda Leigh’s husband is affectionally known as Fritz-y, but last year I was told that it is actually named by my dad as an alternative to his great-uncle. I want to say about five to six years ago, my parents went to my dad’s Uncle Freddie’s funeral, and somehow came back home with this plant that was at a medium size overall that has continued to grow these beautiful green vines that my poor dad has had to build a stick structure within the pot so the strands don’t hang down and outside the pot so not be damaged by a pair of snow boots or muddy tires of a wheelchair.

Speaking of names, we have another bigger plant in our living room called, Sally. My mom was given this lily plant as a gift after the family of a resident wanted to reward the nurses for taking such a great care to their mother, and in usual circumstances, they don’t accept gifts at all, but my mom kind of fell in love with it that she knew that it belonged in our new house. Sally is little over three years old now and my nephew has grown to love her because besides the foliage that surrounds the entire thing, we do get one or two lilies that grow really tall and erect so Nolan likes to point at it and say that it’s “pretty” so maybe he’ll have a sort of green thumb too!

We also have a collection of other plants prospering in our kitchen, around our patio doors that lead to nothing but a well-loved cat house! Anyways, originally it was just four separate plants, but my mom recently came home with a tree that was named Groot by my dad! It stands next to Fritz as there is no more room on the right side. It is just a straight line of plants opposite the morning sun. For the most part, all belong to my parents, except for one: Chuckie.

We think this one is called a spider plant, because it is quite bigger and messy like Chuckie’s hair on Rugrats! This was stored in my room when we first moved into the house three years ago, but my dad thought it wasn’t getting enough sunlight and ended up putting it in the kitchen. Honestly, at the time I loved and thought it was really cute but when you can’t take care of your plants on your own, you kind of give up easily. I had the same issue with taking care of fish too!

Money Tree // Pachira aquatica

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So, this is my first baby. It’s name is Yuri Mariko. One thing you will find out as you read these next sections, is that I obviously had too much fun figuring out the perfect name for each one! I came up with its name kind of innocently, Yuri was a secondary character featured in A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St, Clair, but what sold me was the many meanings it has, the most important to me is “profit” and Mariko is Japanese for “village”.

The plant origins are in Japan, and flourishes in tropical places, but on the various sites we’ve looked at, say it is perfect for indoors. The only thing it doesn’t like is being moved a lot; in the beginning it was on top of newly cleaned bookshelf by my bed, but my dad didn’t think it was getting a lot of sun so he would change it everytime he entered my room. At the moment, it sits on top of my organ desk next to the window. It gets sunlight but it’s cold over there, so unfortunately I still hear my dad complain about that! He now believes it belongs in Nolan’s playroom because that’s on the south side of the house.

This picture looks adorable but if you look at it long enough you might start to see things in a different perspective.

My mom went to the store this morning and brought back a little plant to sit on top of my bookshelf. We don’t really know what it is, but kind of looks like a tree to us. I think it’s perfect for me and I will definitely enjoy watching it grow as this new year takes hold.

In the background, you can see a small stack of books. They represent something very important and rewarding that happened to me this year. I CAN finish a whole book series on my own! I even accomplished my original goal of reading 20 books, which is something I have never done before in my life! What is even better is that I read five more to finish off this wacky year.

2020 has been something different to various people around the world. There are tons of words that can be used to describe how this year has been for you and if you fall into saying ‘it was the worst year of your life,’ I am terribly sorry for you and really hope 2021 is better for you.

My mom got it for me on New Year’s Eve, and I was inspired to write something about it that also reflects my thoughts on 2020, so I thought I would share it for you too, even though it was pinned on my blog’s Facebook for the majority of January. I literally only removed it because I figured I would have written this post out earlier but I didn’t.

Sansevieria // Sansevieria trifasciata

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The next plant I got is probably the most interesting out of all of them, because it just reminds me of a batch of erect green beans! I know that’s not the best description ever, but everytime I see it, that’s what pops up in my mind. 

When my mom first brought it home, it was taped together at the ends and at first, it looked like a verdant strand of DNA! There is still two leaves that weave into each other but for the most part, it is starting to fall to the sides and honestly, it’s still one of the coolest plants we’ve ever owned before!

The Sansevieria is also rooted in Africa and everywhere I’ve read about them, they always say how easy it is to take care of while indoors. The fact that it is basically classified as one that likes to be neglected actually made me really happy! As odd as that sounds, it’s true! They thrive better without being in direct sunlight and doesn’t take a whole lot of water either. However, this does nothing to stop my dad for driving me absolutely crazy about its placement on my table. It sits on there all day long and thankfully, it’s not fussy like the Bonsai with moving a lot, so I can still use the desk throughout the day and not have to worry about it afterwards.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had a steady name for it. After learning about where it’s based, I focused on looking at African and Madagascar names and I thought I was settled on Andry (An-duh-ree) which means “warrior” and I thought this was awesome considering the information I just shared above, but I also wanted a cool middle name for it, but I wasn’t able to stick to anything. However, I was watching one of my cooking shows, very early in the morning and heard the name Lilliekoi. It is the Hawaiian name for a passionfruit. It was on the opposite side of the world but I couldn’t stray away from it, so it’s full name is Lilliekoi Andry.

Ponytall Palm // Beaucarnea recurvata

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For the final plant that calls my room its home, it is like Chuckie in a way, as they are both palms, but this one definitely really look like you pulled a little girl’s hair into a ponytail. It is so light and soft, it makes you think you’re growing a small patch of grass but it looks so delicate on top of my table that I just feel like one good shove and it will fall and break into a million pieces.

The Ponytail Palm is from Mexico as part of the Agave family. Apparently it is neither a tree or a palm for that matter! It likes the sunshine but is fairly cool with being left alone with no water for a bit, and I am definitely loving those types of plants these days. but don’t worry, we keep a close eye on it and my mom waters it when it becomes too dry inside the pot itself.

Since this one is such a sweet plant, I knew I wanted to give it a nice name that would echo its heritage and overall look. I already knew quite of a bit of Spanish names but I was on a fairly difficult quest because I wanted it to fit perfectly and so I made up a list of girl names that I have always loved and two that stood out to me the most were Paulina and Sylvia. By putting these darling names together they literally translate to “little forest” and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was fate!

For the past few years, I’ve been around various plants and seeing a little bit of greenery in the house and it’s been nice to have a piece of nature in our personal spaces. There are people who believe herbs and even some flowers have medicinal purposes and I have recently noticed my outlook on my mental health has changed for the better. If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you might know I’ve been on an anti-depressant for two years now and I do owe a lot of the progress I’ve done in that timespan but I am yearning to be more connected to nature and release who I am on this earth. What does Mother Nature have that I can bring into my life? And I guess she answered it without me even knowing it.

Do you have any indoor plants in your bedroom, home or maybe an office space? If you do, what kind are they? What is the story behind them exactly? Have you gotten to a point that you’ve named them like mine?

Blogmas | How Do I Read? w/ TILISMA

Hello!

I had meant for this post to go out a lot sooner than this, but I never felt it was right to publish until Christmas was around the corner, so, this is a two-in-one kind of blog post as I answer a question you’ve probably had on your mind since the start of the year, how do I read? The other is going to be about a brilliant company that makes these cute and smart gift ideas for readers and students!


Back in August, I published a new installment of “Photo Diary” based around on how life was going and of course, I included lots of pictures of our nine cats. I mentioned that I was loving to read outside with them, but most importantly it gave you an insight of how I actually read where the book is propped on top of something, for me to use comfortably. The interesting part is, this is just one way, I actually have a total of four different positions to read in my spare time. Besides the use of the bench I take outside, I find myself using any flat surface to help me do things mainly because its easier to control when everything is at an even ground.

I’ve been known to surprise many people when they come around while I am enjoying a book, because of the distance between the pages and my eyes, it has never been an issue for me because honestly I’ve learned to make it work; like with everything else, I adapt to my surroundings! However, the thing that is harder to master is keeping the pages open easily. It wasn’t until July that I might’ve found a solution to this insecurity.

I follow and love a great deal of BookTubers (people on YouTube who mostly discuss bookish things.) and I was on Chelsea Palmer’s channel, watching yet another haul but she started off the video with introducing her audience to these neat products, by the name of TILISMA and the only description worth explaining on how they look is imagine Batman’s bat knifes he throws at crooks on the run and the sharp edges would pin the person up against the wall. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, this is what they generally look like.

Chelsea was gifted with all of their products, and in the video she showed everyone how to use them. The objective was simple: the holders would be placed in one hand and one hand only. They were designed this way, so that the reader inserts their thumb inside a hole that is measured to the average size and while your thumb is there, you could hold down the pages with as much pressure as you want to keep them separate while the rest of your hand on the other side basically holds the book to your desired advantage point.

I thought these were super cool! I do struggle with holding a book open on my own, and apparently it doesn’t matter what kind of idea I attempt to help conquer this, I haven’t been able to find the perfect way to enjoy a book without worrying I am going to lose my spot or worse tear a page because I can’t move fast enough! The thing that stood out in my mind was that I didn’t just think an average person could benefit from this kind of product, but I thought people with disabilities could enjoy them as well!

I ended up spending a greater part of my summer trying to get in touch with the company to explain how much this would help others with physical disabilities, who have limited movement in their hands (or in my case, feet), but we continue to depend on somebody else or find heavy but small objects to keep the pages open. So, after explaining my thoughts about their revolutionary products (or “hooks” as I like to call them) to the TILISMA team, I was asked to have a member of my family measure out the size of my toe to see if they could figure something out for me.

Unfortunately, it took forever to them to come in, thanks to the drama about the mailing system! It wasn’t until early September that I received three medium sized packages; I had array of holders in their individual packages at my disposal and they were even cuter up close and personal as they did in Chelsea’s video three months earlier!


So, I was gifted with the standard Hazelnut holder that has little curves that make a slight “S” shape and it is gorgeous! Every item is unique in their own ways, but mine has both a darker brown color but it also has this thick stripe of beige like when you cut into a piece of wood and you see the white flesh of the inside, the difference here is that the product is completely smooth. You can’t tell that it was homemade or real for that matter either!

Recently, my cousin gave me all seven books of the Harry Potter series and at the time I wrote this post, I was using this hook to help me keep the pages open. The one thing I had an issue was not necessarily the hook because I had grown to enjoy the width of the actual hook-like wings on the sides, for they made the opening more stable for me. I didn’t feel like I was giving it too much pressure, but since the books had belonged to someone else, the spine’s collapsing on itself and you really have to be careful with how you handle each one, so I’m glad I had something like this to keep reading easy on me. 

The next one is again a standard holder, but could be work easier with heavy, thick books as the design itself is without dips unlike the one above. For me, I think of it like an eye, the circular shape of a cat’s eye is actually the perfect way to describe it because where the hole is would be where the iris sits. I like the fact that it is this deep and rich brown, almost like a brownie hue, and it is pretty sturdy as well. I don’t feel like it could snap whenever I apply a strong act of pressure in the spine of the book.

One of their cuter items is this heard shaped holder. This was my mom’s favorite because it was a nice surprise to the whole thing! By the way, my mom was the only one I had shown what their products looked like, in order to gain advice on my idea several months ago, but I left this one out of the talk, because I wasn’t sure if I would receive one or not.

It is basically an outline of a heart in the wood with a hole in the middle to insert your finger through to keep your place. As much as I loved the design of this, I cannot use it myself because for me it’s too bulky, which I found to be odd, but so far I haven’t found a book where I can sit it comfortably so that part sucks; for now though, it is part of my decoration on my bookshelf.

Do you remember when I said in the beginning about how I had to have someone measure my toe? Well, there was a smaller version of the first standard hook stuffed inside a little box – but the big difference to the others is that it fits over my toe!!

I must have a really small toe considering how big the hole they carved out takes up a lot space of the design. I am still shocked on two things: the first is being the material being strong enough to withstand the large gap in the middle, and next, is it was as soft as the others and slides off so nicely! I love it so much that I tend to forget to put it away after I’ve stopped reading, and I literally just wear it around my family. Don’t worry, I try to hide it from my nephew because we don’t want him damaging it nor getting his fingers stuck either!


I wanted to say something special for the team of TILISMA before I go. Thank you so much for creating these little things. They are clever and so easy to use! I know you probably never thought someone such as myself would message you out of the blue like I did, but thank you for not only being patient but also working with me to (hopefully) reach a even bigger audience for you in the future!

If you would like to purchase any of the products featured above, click here to be redirected to their Amazon page. The reason why I did not link each one with the holder is because you might need a different size so I figured it would be much easier for you, to search through the various hooks and find the size you need on your own.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I think if you are buying these for someone else, they will feel very appreciated that you thought of them. Here are some of my other photos I (and my dad too!) took of them so you can have a better idea of what they look like in real life.

If you decide to try out any of their products, please let me know because I would love to hear your thoughts about them as well. And if you have used any of the products, what were some of your first impression of them? Do you believe others that stuffer with limitations in their hands/fingers, could use them with ease? Why or why not?

snowflake