Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Cleaning Series - Bookcase Cleaning and Reorganizing

Hi friends,

I am back with a new series of blog posts and YouTube videos and it's all about cleaning and organizing!

Are you ready for Spring? I sure am, we had the worst weather EVER, here in Jersey and I am finally finding myself motivated to start big (and small) projects again. This time around I am going to focus on Spring Cleaning with a dash of general organizing.

I found a good Spring Cleaning Checklist on Martha but felt that it was not comprehensive enough for me. While it lists the general stuff we should do at the change of each season, such as rotating mattresses and the like, I still felt that I needed a bit more direction to keep myself motivated and tackle a whole bunch of other stuff I had procrastinated. So sure, enough, I made up my own list!

I went ahead and purchased this very inexpensive notebook from Michael's Arts and Crafts Store (you can find it in their $ bin).

 And started writing in my own list, a mix of Martha Stewart and a bit more that is my own and based on my ongoing list of to-dos around the house. 

I like the idea of using a notebook like this one because it allows me to check what has been accomplished, add on new items as I see fit and keep it around for the next year (provided I use a pencil to check those completed tasks). I even thought of extending it as a year long seasonal cleaning notebook by adding a tab for each season (Fall, Winter etc.) The elastic band allows me to keep other papers nicely tucked inside. It's a win-win!

Because the weather was just miserable this past week end, I opted to stay indoors and tackle one huge project: cleaning and reorganizing my large Living Room Bookcase. It is one of those projects I have procrastinated for ever, and just could no longer ignore. Check it out for yourself: is it a mess, or what?

This was no longer working for me as I identified too many issues:

  • Too many books - Most could be relocated to another part of the house
  • No room to properly display family heirloom and memorabilia
  • Book collections are disorganized and not clearly separated
  • It's just plain ugly to look at.
It was time for a change! While there are "after" pictures in this post, I did make a complete video of the process (and the thinking that went along):

So, one of the biggest task was to decide what to keep and what to relocate. I made the decision to only keep full collections in this bookcase. For instance, we have been collecting classic literature, in particular the  NY Times list of 100 Novels of the 20th Century. It took us a while to build up this collection, and while we are missing a few books, when combined with the Modern Library, we pretty much have all 100, plus some. I ended up placing those books by order of the list itself, and then by alphabetical order for the leftovers by similar authors.
In the meantime, a thorough dusting and cleaning of each book and shelves was done.

I also, made room for some of my most treasured heirloom, nicely tucked in to protect them from accidents either caused by overly excited boys or equally rambunctious dogs!

In all, I only kept the following inside the bookcase:

Anything else that did not fit those six categories was relocated to the basement/library and that was a lot of books!!!

In the end, and five and a half hours later, I had a bookcase that looked much more organized, completely free of dust and my special items and other decorative favorites are nicely displayed, they can be seen and enjoyed rather than hidden and overwhelmed by the clutter around them.

Here is another look at the before:

And the end result:

I May not look like a big deal but it was a lot of work, between carrying the books around, alphabetizing them and not to mention the dusting!

I am just glad I did it and cannot wait to keep going with my Spring Cleaning next week end as I will tackle yet another project!

Thank you for reading and sharing my post!

Don't forget the YouTube version of this post:

Connect with me on:


Sophia, NJ.

*My blog contains affiliate advertising for which I receive a small commission when you purchase from the links provided. I am affiliated with Vera Bradley and Yves Rocher. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Vera Bradley Sales - March 2014

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.

Hi friends,

Vera Bradley is having a pretty good sale right now (think Mother's Day):

Through Sunday March 9th enjoy 60% off styles in Ellie Blue, Folkloric, Watercolor, and Summer Cottage. You can combine this sale with the additional 50% off a second item.

Through Wednesday March 12 enjoy 50% off styles in Lola, Lilli Bell, Sun Valley, and Cocoa Moss (excludes Baby styles).

These sales are going on right now and will end soon!!!

Enjoy 60% off styles in these colors Ellie Blue, Folklric, Watercolor, and Summer Cottage. Valid March 6th-9th.

Ends today March 9th: 60% off all styles in  Ellie Blue:

Ellie Blue
Example: Abby in Ellie Blue - was $68 - now $27.20
Vera Bradley Abby in Ellie Blue


Ends Today March 9th: 60% off all styles in Folkloric:


Example: Zip Around Wallet in Folkloric - Was $39 - now $15.60

Vera Bradley Zip-Around Wallet in Folkloric

Ends Today March 9th: 60% off all styles in Watercolor:
Example: Hipster in watercolor - was $59 - now $23.60
Vera Bradley Hipster in Watercolor
Ends Today March 9th: 60% off all styles in Summer Cottage:
Summer Cottage
Example: Frame Bag in Summer Cottage - was $94 - now $37.60
Vera Bradley Frame Bag in Summer Cottage

Here is another sale - ending March 12th:


Ends March 12th: 50 % off all styles in Lola:
Example: All in one cross body in lola - was $54 - now $27

Vera Bradley All in One Crossbody in Lola
Ends March 12th: 50 % off all styles in Lilli Bell:
Lilli Bell
Example: Laura in Lilli Bell - was $60 - now $30
Vera Bradley Laura in Lilli Bell


Ends March 12th: 50 % off all styles in Sun Valley:
Sun Valley
Example: Little Flap Hipster in Sun Valley - was $50- now $25

Vera Bradley Little Flap Hipster in Sun Valley


Ends March 12th: 50 % off all styles in Cocoa Moss:
Cocoa Moss
Example: Cassidy in Cocoa Moss - was $58 - now $29

Vera Bradley Cassidy in Cocoa Moss
Happy Shopping!
Don't forget that you combine your sale items with the BOGO 50% off deal until 3/12

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Connect with me on:


Sophia, NJ.

*My blog contains affiliate advertising for which I receive a small commission when you purchase from the links provided. I am affiliated with Vera Bradley. I was not solicited to review any of the products mentioned. All opinions are my own.

Eco Emi - February 2014

Hi friends,

I am sorry to say but the February 2014 box was not a good one. It was not terrible, but in comparison to my usual boxes, this one was one of the least interesting and I  am hoping that Christine @Eco Emi does a much better job selecting products for the March 2014 box.
In any event, here is my review of all the products I received this past February:

Eco Emi  - February 2014 Box

Goodlight Natural Candles - Tea Lights - B
Full Size - $2.49/6 pk

I am usually pretty excited when I receive a candle sample in my monthly subscription box. However, these were just blah for me. This is a  pack of 6 unscented tea lights that are paraffin-free and made from 100% palm wax. In essence, and despite the fact that there are made in China, these are better candles for you since the paraffin in candles is supposed to be toxic for the environment.

They are handy to have around the house but when compared to the other candles we have received through Eco Emi, these are just not interesting at all. I am also questioning the provenance as I cannot recall any of my boxes containing a product Made in China (aside from the American Flag bandana over which I ranted last year).
With regards to their efficiency, I can't say that they re better or worse than any other tea light candles out there, these are just healthier. They will go inside my home emergency kit.
Their website does offer a large variety of candles in all sizes, I can see where those would be great for events such as a wedding. You can visit Natural Candles here

Albrey Organics - Organic Hairspray - B
Full Size - $9.95/5 oz 
I know this brand pretty well, having used their shampoos and conditioners in the past. Albrey is an all American company specializing in organic and environmental friendly products. This hair spray which comes in a pump form rather than aerosol (that's refreshing) is infused with quinoa proteins that are meant to smooth out frizz. I does smell very nice, a blend of herbs such as spearmint and a pinch of citrus. That being said, I did not find it to be one I would add to my daily routine. I am not sure whether the pump is the same in the full size, but this one did not offer a fine mist, instead, it came out rather like a clump of products, leaving areas of my hair saturated with the stuff and other areas with barely any product at all. It did do a good job separating my curls and leaving them in place, but I found that I needed to shampoo the following day to remove the product. I would say that this is a good one for travel or if you need to create a curly up-do.
I still like the company for their other products and you can check their other products line at Albrey Organics.
Jersey Shore Sun - Vegan Lip Balm - A
Full Size - $5.00
There are a lot of good things to say about this lip balm, let me start with the scent. If you like mint gum, this is pretty much it. This balm not only smells like spearmint gum, it also tastes like one! This is earth friendly and cruelty free as well. Now, the card stated that it can be used on other areas of the face. I am  just not sure about the idea of using a product from my lips to the rest of my face, it sounds like cross contamination to me. As a lip balm, it is very smooth, though it tends to melt quite a bit upon contact. It is definitely highly emollient and protects the lips well. Overall, it is a good one to have. I was not crazy about the formula, finding it too fluid as a balm, but other than that, I would recommend it. As a company, Jersey Shore Sun also offers a lot of sunscreen and tanning lotion varieties you may want to check out.
Blissoma - Lavish Face Mask - B-
Full Size - $33.99 / 2 oz
I thought this was pretty expensive for the size ($20 per ounce of product) when considering that we tend to saturate our face with product when applying a mask, this would not last too long. It does not have much of a scent to it and applies as a fluid texture, with no opacity. It contains a combination of anti-reactive herbs, restorative oils and cupuacu butter to help rebuild skin. In all, this is a fine line treatment.
So far, I used it once (it is recommended to sue twice a week). The result was not overwhelming, because it is very moisturizing, fine lines did appear a bit plump after use, but since this is meant to be washed away after application I would not consider this to be a treatment, it is more like a temporary fix, say for instance if you have a meeting or a party that follows. I also felt that it left a greasy residue on my face and I needed soap to remove the rest of it.  I cannot say that it is a bad product, it does deliver what it says it will deliver (fine lines are smoother and skin is moisturized) but a lot of other products do the same thing for a much lower price tag.
Blissoma offers a full line of organic face care products, you may want to check them out here.
Lauren Brooke Cosmetics - Eyelash Conditioner - B
Full Size - $10
This is not an expensive product (the price of a regular mascara) when considering what it is supposed to do: condition your lashes and over time promote length. It contains jojoba and olive oil and needs to be applied on clean lashes, for 20 minutes or overnight if desired.  I tried it overnight and felt the need to remove it because the oils started melting off and getting into my eyes while I was reading in bed. I cannot say that I noticed longer, better looking lashes thus far, but I did notice that mascara was not clumping as much on the day after application. So I guess that it does provide a smoother texture to your lashes. I cannot tell whether this prevents breakage or fall either, nor whether it promotes growth.
My only issue with it, aside from the getting into my eyes and making it impossible to read, is that it requires yet an additional step into my regular routine. And I don't think I am desperate enough for longer, lusher lashes to add a 20 minute step, at least not at this time in my life.
In past boxes, I received many Lauren Brooke eye shadows and loved them all. You can visit her website for more information on this and other products.
Wild Garden - All Natural Hummus - B+
Full Size - $4.29 / 5 pk
I love hummus and tried enough brands to provide this one a fair assessment. Let me start with the packaging. I am not crazy about the idea of a pasteurized, long shelf life hummus. It just does not sound right to me when considering that I love fresh hummus and usually get mine at whole Foods Supermarket. This one has an expiration date that is18 months away!
With regards to pricing, however, I found it to be comparable to the regular hummus one would purchase at the store. It does have an advantage in that it comes in 1.7 oz pouches or tubes, which preserves the hummus longer. I do sometimes forget that I have hummus in the fridge and the leftovers are not always appetizing. As a travel or on-the-go option, I would say this is pretty neat at well.
So how does it compare taste wise? Well, the sample received was garlic (my favorite) so I was pretty excited to try it and it tasted just like garlic hummus. However, and here comes the bad part, the texture was awful. This comes out as a very smooth, almost like condensed milk, texture. Generally, hummus has a little bit of a grit to it, this one is so smooth and fluid, it just did not feel like hummus, though it tasted like it. I probably would only purchase this as a travel alternative to eat straight from the tube or squeezed onto hard pretzels or the like, but can't see myself spreading it on toast.
The company also offers more varieties as well as hummus in jars rather than on-the-go packs. Check it out here.
Premier Organics - Chocolate Vanilla Paste - B+
Full size - $1.35 / 1 pouch
This is unbelievably expensive. One pouch for $1.35? That's just about $2.50 per ounce!
Basically, this is the healthy version of Nutella. A chocolate hazelnut paste that is spreadable but made out of organic herbs and organic cocoa beans. If you are a regular reader of my blog or watch my YouTube channel, you know  that you do not have to ask me twice about chocolate. I am in, all the way! I can't say this was terrible, it did taste like a thicker, richer, darker chocolate version of Nutella, it tasted healthier too. But I just can't get past the price tag so I just cannot see myself going ahead and purchasing it, first of, it would require more than one pouch to satisfy my immediate chocolate craving and I could ruin myself on this stuff alone. So it's good, but I'll stay away!
But then again, I visited their site and they apparently offer a chocolate rose variety of the same chocolate paste and I don't know whether I can resist that one too much longer! Click on the link below to learn more about Premier Organics and Ek Chok:
So, there you have it, the February 2014 Eco Emi box review. Not my favorite box! usually there is only one food item, this one had two and it almost felt like someone else put it together or Eco Emi ran out of suppliers. I am just not sure. In any case, this was one of the bottom boxes since I subscribed in December 2012.

Here is the coordinating YouTube video for this box:

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Connect with me on:


Sophia, NJ.

*My blog contains affiliate advertising for which I receive a small commission when you purchase from the links provided. I was not solicited to review any of the products mentioned. All opinions are my own.


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