Cents of Style: Fashion Friday – Floral Skirts for just $19.95 shipped

Cents of Style floral skirts

Great news, you guys! Cents of Style is offering a full collection of floral skirts for just $19.95 + FREE SHIPPING with coupon code FLORALSTORY at checkout.

Floral patterns are all the rage right now! Find a print that fits your personal look and let the skirt take you all over town from errands to meetings, date night to Sunday brunch. From ultra-soft and flowy to the perfect pencil, and sizes S – 3X, there are a ton of options in a variety of colors.

Stacked floral skirts from Cents of Style

I love how the pencil skirts look when dressed down with a graphic tee and ankle boots —

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But I’m a bit more of an a-line girl, myself! I recently picked up the Kambree Ultra-Soft Floral Skirt in black. The material is ridiculously soft and I love that it can be easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Here’s how I recently rocked it with a black cardi, Fair Trade scarf, wedge ankle booties, and my trusty Daniel Wellington watch

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Shop all floral skirts HERE.  

How would you style YOURS?

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Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Kelsey, Concierge Hairstylist and Makeup Artist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Kelsey’s story (whose hustle changes so drastically from day to day that we just had to include two!). Kelsey has been a licensed cosmetologist in Texas for many years and she also has a social media management and virtual assistant business. Let’s check out her hustle!

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Hey ya’ll!  My name is Kelsey and what I do changes from day-to-day and seasonally.  The one consistent in my life is lots and lots of coffee: black with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a coconut milk latte with light foam.  Monday thru Thursday I am a Social Media Strategist and Marketing Manager.  I create content for other businesses including: blog posts, brochures, email campaigns and press releases.  I also create “less fun” content including Annual Reports, Investor Relations presentations, and Proxy Statements.  Like many I sit in front of my computer for hours answering emails and typing until my nails are blue.  Friday, Saturday, and some Sundays I am a stylist.  I have eleven years as a licensed cosmetologist in Texas and absolutely love working with brides.  I book wedding parties across the state as well as across the country and internationally.  I love that every day with a new client brings new challenges!

A recent Thursday working as the Marketing Guru at Styled Startup:

5:30 am – Wake-up and immediately check today’s calendar. Looks like it is going to be a busy one!

6:00 am – Drink my first cup of coffee and check emails. I have eight (!) email accounts so this can take a while.  I delete the spam, try not to get distracted by shopping deals, and favorite the emails I need to respond to.

7:00 am – Reach out to Virtual Assistants to discuss the daily to-do list.

7:30 am – Get more coffee.  Fix my hair and put on makeup.  Usually I only straighten my bangs and throw the rest of my hair into a messy bun. I contour, put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, two coats of mascara, bronzer, and a burgundy lip color.

9:00 am – Skype with a client to discuss new materials and social media strategy for the next month.  We are amping up her email campaigns to make them look more exciting.   I take notes outlining upcoming events and promotions.

9:30 am – Time for morning Instagram posts. I schedule my Instagram posts for a curated feed and to track hashtags across my accounts and client accounts.

9:45 am – Respond to 165 emails.  Trade secret: I have auto-responses set for most occasions but there are some responses that require a non-template response.

10:30 am – I head out for brunch with a local photographer. We enjoy crepes and lattes.  I like savory crepes with lots of veggies and feta but she opted for sweet. This sort of networking is a huge part of all of my businesses!  I use photographers to style and shoot flat-lays for my websites. Plus, photographer referrals are my favorite way to book brides.  

noon – More emails!

1:00 pm – I work on marketing materials for a client.  I create brochures and update their website.  Of course I have to link all these new materials to social media, too.

4:00 pm – Touch base with Virtual Assistants to make sure all their work was completed.  If any tasks are remaining by this time of day, we discuss options for finishing in the evening or the next day.

4:45 pm – Afternoon/Evening Instagram posts.

5:30 pm – I hit up Happy Hour with a bride I’ll soon by styling.  Since it is winter I opt for red wine but during the hot, Texas summer you can find me with a French 75 or margarita on the rocks!  I meet all of my brides for coffee or drinks prior to booking their wedding.  This has helped me significantly reduce “bridezillas” and make sure that I’m compatible with all my brides.  A bride should feel comfortable on her wedding day! Since she and her bridesmaids will spend a significant amount of time with me, it’s important that I’m someone she wants to hang out with on her big day! She also needs to make sure my portfolio is able to accommodate the hair and makeup aesthetic she’s looking to achieve.

7:00 pm – Another round of emails.

8:00 pm –  I have a good friend who is a small business owner in another state who acts as my accountability partner.  We have a nightly call or FaceTime to discuss our daily wins and losses.  I call her now to discuss our daily activities.

8:45 pm – Final Instagram posts go up.  I scroll through the feeds and correspond with like minded creatives.  Did you know for a comment to gain traction with Instagram’s new algorithm it has to be at least three words?  I try to be genuine and only comment on pictures I can directly relate to or that tug at my heartstrings.

9:00 pm – I fire off a Facebook chat to my photographer friend. The convo started out personal but quickly turns into a business discussion.  This leads to me scrolling through the friend’s Instagram account to perform a quick audit.  We discuss where disconnect with potential clients may be.

9:30 pm – Now I am performing hashtag searches to determine which hashtags will drive the most traffic to her Instagram.  I create a list of twenty hashtags to use in every Instagram post and send it over to her.  

11:00 pm – Scrolling through Instagram, I find a few more accounts to interact with before checking my email one last time and then heading to bed.

A recent Friday working as a Concierge Hairstylist and Makeup Artist:

5:30 am – Wake-up, check the calendar, drink coffee, and attend to emails.

6:45 am – Check that hair and makeup bags were properly packed and make sure we have enough applicators and lashes for the bride and all her bridesmaids.

7:00 am – Drink more coffee while fixing my hair and doing my makeup.

8:30 am – Fill up my 30 ounce Yeti with (more) coffee, grab the bags, and head out the door.

9:00 am – Arrive at the venue, meet with my team, and unpack hair and makeup bags.  It is crucial to get everything organized right away to stay on schedule throughout the day.

9:15 am – Airbrush Makeup for Bridesmaid #1.

10:00 am – Hairstyle for Bridesmaid #1.

10:45 am – Airbrush Makeup for Bridesmaid #2.

11:30 am – Hairstyle for Bridesmaid #2.

12:15 pm – Airbrush Makeup for the Bride.

1:00 pm – Hairstyle for the Bride.

1:45 pm – Hair and Makeup for the Flower Girl. This doesn’t take long as flower girls usually just get a little shimmer eye shadow, blush, and some lip gloss. Just enough to feel like a princess!

2:30 pm – I collect any outstanding payments, Square has made this a huge time saver.  Before, I had issues with checks bouncing or bridesmaids forgetting to bring cash.  Luckily everyone always has a card on them and Square has my back with transaction protection.

2:45 pm – Pack-up hair and makeup-bags.  The team leaves together and heads their separate ways.

3:15 pm – Arrive home and unpack the bags. I inventory all the items and make lists of those we are running low or out of.

4:30 pm – Payroll for the day in Square dashboard.

5:00 pm – I deep clean and sanitize all the makeup brushes.

5:15 pm – I fire off a response to an email from my dream venue for Wedded Weekend 2018 and book a follow-up call with the owner.  Proceed to do a happy dance around the townhouse!!!

5:30 pm – I work on the budget spreadsheet for Wedded Weekend 2018. I created Wedded Weekend, a three day creatives retreat and styled shoot workshop for wedding vendors, in 2016. The weekends are filled with collaboration, learning, and lots of fun. But the prep is a LOT of work. I try to carve out a few hours on weekend evenings to check a few items off my Wedded Weekend to-do list.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Kelsey! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you completely switch professional gears between weekdays and weekends?  

(Photo by Nicki Evans Photography.)

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

What Did You Do With Your Wedding Photos?

what did you do with your wedding photos?

Chet and I got married a shocking seven (!) months ago. My, my how time flies! I posted about a bajillion Facebook albums when we first got our photo files. We also made books with some of our favorite snaps for family members. But now I’d like to finally tackle something for ourselves.

So, I’d love to know, what did you do with your wedding photos? Did you curate a collection of the best and make a book? (Websites like Artifact Uprising and Pinhole Press have stellar reviews!) Did you make a massive album to stow on your coffee table? Print stacks and stacks for a shoe-box labelled “WEDDING”?

And what about for displaying on your walls? We have a three-photo picture frame in our hallway that displays 3 of my faves. Do you have larger prints hanging on your walls somewhere? Tell me everything!

I’ll be honest, part of me wants to completely shirk the idea of a printed-on-the-page photo book in favor of placing each individual photo in an album like this one. Is that crazy!? I love how beautiful the wedding books are with their lovely spreads and high-quality paper. But I’m also the kid who would haul the photo albums up from her grandparents’ basement every chance she got. The pages crinkled in that plastic-y way, the bindings creaked. The weight of all those photos and memories rested heavy across my thighs.

Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to tie the physical representation of one of the most important days of my life to all those other albums–filled with births and birthdays, family vacations and Christmas mornings?

Anyways, I am nothing if not the MOST indecisive person on the face of the planet, so PLEASE–tell me what you did with your wedding photos in the comments below! 

P.S. What’s that? You’d like to SEE my wedding photos!? You’re in luck…
The Bridal Luncheon
The Rehearsal Picnic
The Venue
The Details
Getting Ready
Bride + Groom
The Ceremony
Family + Wedding Party
The Food
The Reception
Note:  We are lucky beyond belief to have so many beautiful images from our wedding weekend thanks to Sur La Lune Photography. Even if they weren’t our BFFs I’d be obsessed with their work. Have a look for yourself! 

Weekend Uniforms: Dressy, Casual, and In the Middle

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I’m all about easy-livin’ on weekends. Laying on the couch with a novel, lots of coffee, movie marathons with my love. If I didn’t have to get dressed at all on weekends I’d probably be really into that.
But occasions do arise in which one must leave the comfort of their comforter and their crime documentaries. Birthday parties, brunch dates, TRADER JOE’S…oh my! Why use your time (and your brain cells) on closet conundrums when there’s all this fun to be had outside the house?!
Enter Weekend Uniforms. Or a few “outfit equations” that can get you through the bulk of your most common weekend activities. Use them as a framework and insert the pieces you love and have on hand. Here are 3…

Weekend Uniform: Dressy

Weekend Uniform: Dressy
  • For a fancy work event, dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday, or a concert followed by drinks at your favorite bar…
  • Slip on a slinky dress and your favorite pair of heels. Give your look some edge with a biker or bomber jacket. Bring along your trusty, structured bag. Add a bangle. Make a statement with a fierce cocktail ring.
  • Finish off the look with a good coverage foundation, a swipe of your favorite lipstick, and a buttery nail color. Spritz on something dark and moody. Hit the town!

Weekend Uniform: Casual

Weekend Uniform: Casual
  •  For grocery shopping, tinkering around in your backyard, or long lazy walks with the pup through your ‘hood…
  • Throw on a pair of boyfriend jeans and your favorite statement tee. Stay comfortable in a pair of white converse. Track your steps with your fitness tracker (even lazy Saturdays add miles!).  Add a dainty necklace and make sure to have your favorite reusable bags on hand.
  • Finish off the look with sunscreen and a lip-balm. Use a sporty, natural deodorant (that’s quickly become a cult favorite). Get. shiz. done!

Weekend Uniform: In the Middle

Weekend Uniform: In the Middle
  • For brunch somewhere quaint, boutique shopping with your bestie, or a flick at the indie theater…
  • You can trick passers-by into thinking you exerted a lot of effort this morning. In truth, jersey dress + big earrings + messy bun. Grab a jean jacket in case you get chilly and strap on a pair of fun sandals. Add a chic watch and a cross-body bag.
  • Finish off the look with an after-sun spray, a clean-smelling scent, and a little dry shampoo. Go for a bold lip, if you dare. Mimosas, anyone?
How do you spend YOUR weekends? Which uniform would suit your style best? 
P.S. Feeling fashion-y? Here’s how to choose a style a barometer.

mid-week round-up

closeup on flowers

What are you up to this week? My very favorite guilty pleasure, MTV’s The Challenge, started up again with a new season! I don’t have cable but I’m super stoked to watch it online today. I’m probably the last person in the world of my advanced age who still watches this show. (BUT I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE!) This weekend we have plans to check out a new brunch spot and maybe take the drone out for a flight. Hope you have a great day, and here’s some reading material…

I’ll be making these chocolate crescent rolls as soon as humanly possible. (Although I may cheat and use this.)

A checklist for staying in vs. going out on Valentine’s Day.

Would you wear navy pants with tiny dinosaurs on them?

A young Wikipedia editor withstood a decade of online abuse. Now she’s fighting back. “When people get forced off the web, their voices disappear from the internet’s public squares. The ideas and memes that dominate skew even further toward a white male perspective. The web becomes less interesting, less representative, less valuable. We all lose.

A shortage of incubators and a hunch about marsupials inspired a Colombian doctor to try something radical to save premature babies’ lives.

Mysteriously, a large number of Americans believe that the inventor of the cotton gin, Eli Whitney, was black. (Could this be an example of the Mandela effect?)

Mystery of deadly outbreaks in India is solved.

The real Bowling Green Massacre wasn’t even in Kentucky.

I can’t get over how cute these classroom valentines are. Which would you choose?

Modern Etiquette: Handling difficult conversations online.

What is Steve Bannon reading?
“Mr. Bannon was carrying a book, and when an incoming president’s guru is reading a book, you should find out what it is. I walked by and peeked. It was “The Best and the Brightest,” David Halberstam’s 1972 history of the strategic errors and human foibles that birthed the disastrous American involvement in the Vietnam War. It begins with John F. Kennedy’s transition to the White House, in December 1960. Now I really knew it was him.”

How to avoid being psychologically destroyed by your newsfeed.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — 6 Ways to Find More Free Time and Reading Nostalgia.

6 True-Crime Documentaries For Your Inner Detective

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Over the last month or so I’ve been on a bit of a true-crime documentary binge. I just can’t get enough! There’s something about the unanswered questions, colorful cast of characters, and inevitable courtroom drama that captivates my little “Law & Order” lovin’ heart. So, I decided to round-up a few of my recent faves in case you’re feeling a similar urge.

If you binge watched The Jinx or Making a Murderer in a matter of days or waited anxiously for the release of each new episode of Serial, may I suggest giving one of these bad boys a try…

The Fear of 13

After more than 20 years on death row, a convicted murderer petitions the court for his long awaited execution. But as he tells his story, it becomes clear that nothing is quite what it seems.

Amanda Knox

Follow the trial, conviction and acquittal of Amanda Knox for the murder of a fellow exchange student in Italy.

Who Took Johnny

An investigation of a cold case tries to determine what became of Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch, who disappeared 30 years earlier.

There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

The accident made national headlines: a suburban mother drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in upstate New York and crashed head-on into an SUV, killing herself and seven others.  But was she the monster the public made her out to be?

Beware the Slenderman

The mythos of a faceless, digital-age bogeyman known as Slenderman was created on the Internet, but his influence was felt in the real world when two 12-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods for a brutal murder.

Paradise Lost Trilogy

Note: The previous five are all fairly new but Paradise Lost is more of a classic. If you’ve never seen the full trilogy, I definitely recommend watching all three. They’re pretty incredible and the filmmakers paved the way for this sort of storytelling. (Buy the DVD’s HERE.)

The landmark documentary that sparked an international movement to ‘Free the West Memphis Three’, PARADISE LOST investigates the gruesome 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys and the three teenagers accused of killing them as part of a Satanic ritual. REVELATIONS delves deeply into the shocking aftermath of the trials, updating the story seven years after the murders. PURGATORY picks up the story and reexamines the horrifying crime with fresh insights that only the passage of time can provide.

Which would YOU watch? Oh, and what’s your favorite documentary of all time? I’d love to know!

P.S. Turning to True-Crime Books to Curb the Serial Withdrawals. Binge-Worthy TV Shows. 

January Resolutions – How Did I Do?

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Happy February, Finding Delight readers! This year, I decided to approach my New Year’s resolutions a little bit differently. I wrote out all the months in my  journal and have filled in things I want to work on in 2017– 2 items per month. Not every item is filled in yet. I want to give myself space to grow over the year, to not set my resolutions in stone.

My hope is that, once something is set into practice for a month, I’ll continue the habit throughout the year.

I’d like to share results and thoughts at the end of each month because accountability. Here’s how I did in January…

January Resolution #1. Notice when I’m partaking in unproductive screen time and pick up a book instead. 

Have you ever set an intention to minimize time spent in front of screens? ME TOO. And guess what…that sort of vague resolution has never worked for me. How much is “too much” screen time? What if the time spent in front of the screen is bringing me joy or earning me money? I need something that gets a bit more to the root of the habit I’m trying to change.

For me, that’s tapping in to when I know I’m being unproductive on the computer. It’s noticing when I’m scrolling mindlessly through my social media feeds on my phone. And then offering myself a solution–pick up a book.

So how did this new take on an old resolution work out? Not bad. But not as well as I’d hoped.

I found a great “red flag” for unproductive screen time. It’s a little embarrassing but I’ll share it with you in case it might be helpful:

When I visit websites or apps in a rotation. (*cringes*)

If I’m checking my phone and I look at my email…and then Instagram…and then Facebook…and then Snapchat…and then find my way BACK TO MY EMAIL. OH MY GOD, PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE BERGER AND PICK UP A BOOK.

That’s a habit I took great strides in eradicating in January. However, around the 20th of the month (hint, hint) my screen time started to ramp up again. But that might not be such a bad thing. And it hasn’t all been unproductive.

Going forward: I’ll continue to monitor my social media // website loops. I’ll keep a book close by. I’ll take mental health breaks away from my devices when the news becomes to much.

January Resolution #2. Yoga every day. Take the day off if my body needs it but not when my mind tries to talk me out of it. 

I’m low-key obsessed with Yoga With Adriene and her January challenges are always a great excuse to start the year off on the right foot.

I’m also someone who sticks to exercise when I make it a daily habit. If I planned to work-out 3 times a week that shit would never happen. 30 minutes of yoga (nearly) ever single day on the other hand? That I can do.

Sure, I sometimes try to talk myself out of this practice. Especially when I’m feeling grumpy or lazy or “not in the mood.” But here’s the thing. I never feel WORSE after I do it. I usually feel better. So, this month, I didn’t let my mind talk me out of working out.

I did, however, allow myself space to sit days out if my muscles were too sore or if I’d had a crazy, long day of work. I also didn’t force myself to practice yoga if my body wanted another workout. (Um, hello!? Sometimes ya gotta do this one.)

When I did show up for a quick flow? I felt like I was showing up for myself. My body nourished, my mind calmed.

All in all, I rolled out my mat and practiced 30+ minutes of yoga 25 times in January.

Going forward: I’ll continue to show up for myself on the mat. I’ll take note of when my mind is trying to cheat me from gettin’ something good. I’ll incorporate other types of exercise (or other yoga instructors) into the rotation.

Alright friends, onward to February!

How are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions going? One month down! Tell me how you’re doing in the comments below (#accountability) or feel free to email me – ebeth.berger@gmail.com – if you’d like to keep it private. You got this! 

P.S. Need help sticking to your 2017 goals? Check out this post. Oh, and “Like” the Finding Delight Facebook page! I’d love to have ya!

mid-week round-up

Editor’s Note: Today, Finding Delight is thrilled to welcome Adam to our weekly round-up for the second time. (Here’s his first visit to the Mid-Week Round-Up.) I hope his post and links resonate as much with you as they did with me. 

adam-midweek-roundup

Over the weekend I was cyberbullied. It wasn’t the standard “you’re a liberal snowflake asshole” attack you might expect. It was more vicious this time and quickly escalated from some guy making veiled homophobic comments to likes and retweets of an emerging chorus of “queer” and “glory hole sucker” posts aimed directly at me. A couple of the attack tweeters lifted my profile picture and began using it in their posts. Clicking onto their profiles, I saw them having separate conversations about me, using my picture and saying things like I was a “disgusting queer” and “probably have AIDS.”

Full disclosure: I’ve written a few loud and arguably ignorant comments on some crazy-pants Facebook posts. I usually give social media attacks directed at me a pass, thinking “I, too, have posted things that 20 minutes later made me shameful.”

This time though, after resisting the desire to fight back and simply reporting them, I tried to go on with my day. But hours later, I had to keep checking on the tightness in my chest.

I wondered how women and female journalists continue to endure this on a daily basis. 

The attack made me think back to one of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions: Get off social media. Why didn’t I stick with it? Why am I even on here

Perhaps I’ve just accepted that virtual bullying comes with the territory? In truth, it’s easy for me to accept that reality; I’ve lived most my life knowing there’s a strong likelihood that a passing stranger will call me a fag

So many people face vicious onslaughts of degradation simply by being present in both virtual and real-world spaces. Social media and internet links, so often, seem to be a product used to push shame; an evolving technology dedicated to tearing people down in ways that transcend virtual space with real life implications.

But looking over stories about the Muslim travel ban protests at airports all over the country, I realized the reason I’m still here—present in the shit hole that is social media—because it’s the links… Our links to one another are important. 

It was the Instagram post from a friend that helped me stop feeling bad about the bullying I faced. The hate is not normal—and I do not have to tolerate it. 

Seeing this tweet of a nun jamming at the airport protest in San Francisco made me laugh. Hard. The link was important. The Stanger Things’ SAG award acceptance and Wynona Ryder’s face made me take in the fact that America is already great.

I am benefiting from the resistance and the “personalized act[s] of labor dedicated to communal protest,” which are so often being transmitted through links—nudging me to recognize that now is not the right time to leave social media

The link-driven resistance is not a bunch of “liberal lawyers,” as the New York Times might argue. It’s about sharing stories to bend the arch of justice toward a shared sense of ethical humanity.

I will continue to actively link with the resistance by writing personal op-eds and showing up at town halls.

I will continue finding Finding Delight’s Wednesday links post through social media. It’s important to be connected these days. 

So, for the sake of theme and the goal of promoting a shared sanity in these harsh times, here are some other, more specific hyperlinks that you might also find helpful:

Anyway, with that, I hope you “like” this Wednesday’s links post. And I hope you “like” other peoples’ links too—it’s critical for us to lift up and recognize individuals and institutions when they’re focused on promoting truth.

adam-midweek-roundup-2

 

3 Ways to Pack Your Tom Bihn Synapse 19

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As you may have guessed from previous posts (like this one and this one), I’m low-key obsessed with my Tom Bihn backpack. I could regale you for hours with info about all it’s features. It is just so. dang. packable. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding…

So, instead of tell you about all the versatile pockets and roomy compartments, I’m gonna walk you through a few of my favorite ways to pack the Tom Bihn Synapse 19.

how-to-pack-tom-bihn-synapse-19

The Pockets:

1. Main Compartment

2. Shallow Center Pocket

3. Deep Center Pocket 

4. Left Pocket

5. Right Pocket

6. Bottom Compartment

For 1 Bag Air Travel:

1. You’ll be amazed at how many clothes will fit in the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 with the help of a packing cube (or two). The double-sided packing cubes are genius if you want to keep your clothes organized (think: tops on one side / bottoms on the other OR day clothes on one side / loungewear on the other) or separate dirty and clean.

Your laptop or tablet will fit comfortably in this compartment as well.

2. This is the perfect space for all the small bits you may need readily available while up in the air. Tuck in your earbuds, your favorite lip balm, and a snack.

3. Slide your toiletry bag down in this front pocket and you’ll have no qualms about pulling it out when you go through TSA. This one from Tom Bihn has clear sides and was designed as a 3-1-1 toiletries bag for air travel. There’s plenty of room inside for all your essentials.

4. This side pocket has a space for your writing implements so you might want to tuck in a little notebook as well. It’s also a great place to stow a small flashlight, your sunglasses, and a collapsible bag.

5. Think of this as your electronics pocket! There’s plenty of room for a camera and there’s an additional pocket along the lining that’s perfectly sized for a phone. Clip a clear organizer pouch to the O-ring inside and fill it with your various chargers. No need to frantically search for cables that have made their way to the bottom of your bag!

6. Finally, the bottom compartment will hold a pair of sandals or flat shoes, a pashmina to keep you cozy when the plane gets cold, and a collapsible poncho if you’re headed to a rainy climate.

For Working On-the-Go:

1. As this is the largest compartment, this is where your bulkiest items will go. If you’re working on-the-go this probably means your laptop as well as any notebooks, folders, and books you may need.

2. Slip in a pair of earbuds that will cancel out any annoying noises you may encounter. You could also keep a stockpile of business cards tucked in a fancy holder.

3. Amazingly enough, this pocket was designed by the folks at Tom Bihn as the perfect place to hold a water bottle. This is great for keeping weight distribution even and totally cuts down on spills. You could go with a classic or class it up.

4. Store your pens, memory cards, and a wireless mouse in this convenient side pocket.

5. The other side is perfect for all your chargers. Again – one of the clear organizer pouches would be perfect for corralling them all. And don’t forget to throw in a snack bar or two! It’s hard to work when  you’re hungry!

6. Finally, the bottom compartment is a convenient location for your wallet. And it’s wide enough that it will accommodate a billfold style design. Don’t need that much space for your wallet? This is a great place to store an umbrella, as well!

For Having Outdoor Adventures:

1. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or just urban exploring; you’ll want to have a few essentials in your Tom Bihn Synapse 19! The main compartment is a great place to store an extra layer of clothing, in case it gets cold, and any equipment you may need to bring along. (Think: camera or video gear, tools, DRONES!)

2. Safety first! Don’t forget to bring a small first aid kit. Buy one or make your own out of an Altoid can. Making your own allows you to really customize the contents for your particular adventure.

3. Again, the Deep Center Pocket is the perfect place for your water bottle. Toss in a bandana, too. They have SO MANY uses. (Here are 25.)

4. This is a great place to keep sunscreen and bug spray close at hand. You might also want to toss in a multi-tool or your eating utensils. Spork? Chopsticks? 3-piece cutlery? Your choice.

5. If you’re venturing away from civilization, it may behoove you to reserve this pocket for “I can pee anywhere!” materials. Think: tissues, wet-wipes, anti-bac, etc. Of course, these could come in handy for other purposes, too!

6. Finally, pack a lunch! This bottom compartment will ensure your sandwich won’t get squished amidst all your other equipment and it’s spacious enough to accommodate an adventurer’s appetite! The menu, of course, is up to you.

Where would you take your Tom Bihn backpack? Do you have a favorite travel accessory you recommend to anyone who will listen? Tell me about it below! 

P.S. A Tom Bihn-accompanied trip — Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette, LA

Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

the-newlywedsIn light of the recent immigration ban, reading stories of those who have navigated across cultures to a new life in the United States seems even more important. Even when those stories appear in the novel you turn to when you need a break from the world.

Stories, like the one found in The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger, humanize the immigrant experience. The book follows Amina Mazid who leaves her home in Bangladesh for a new life in New York. While her story is not one of religious persecution or civil war, she is in search of happiness. A different happiness than what she can find in Bangladesh. The same happiness so many are seeking when they step onto American soil. But like the immigrants before (and after) her, Amina must carve out a space for herself amidst her American reality and the other happiness she knew before. A home she can never forget.

Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
 
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.

At it’s core, this book is a rather nuanced portrait of a young woman’s transition from one culture to another. This theme reminded me of another great book, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. And I think fan’s of Lahiri’s work will also find value in picking up a copy of The Newlyweds.

Freudenberger shows an immense depth of knowledge about Bangladesh, it’s culture, and Islam. The acknowledgements section of the book makes it clear that she did her research by way of extensive interviews and immersive travel to the country itself. (Even more amazing? This research, and the subsequent novel, was inspired by a Bangladeshi woman Freudenberger met on a plane! #talktostrangers)

However, there is a note of inauthenticity to the story, most notably the character of Amina herself. Freudenberger explains the duality that I’m sure many immigrants experience…

“[Amina] had thought that she’d been born with a soul whose thoughts were in no particular dialect, and she’d imagined that, when she married, her husband would be able to recognize this deep part of herself. Of course she hadn’t counted on her husband being a foreigner…In a way, George had created her American self, and so it made sense that it was the only one he would see.”

And perhaps it is this duality, which Freudenberger explains but hasn’t experienced, that makes Amina’s character lack just an inkling of depth. Because, at the end of the day, Amina’s husband George didn’t create her American self, the author did.

The story itself is captivating and full of suspense. It is an entertaining depiction of the effects of honesty (or lack thereof) on relationships and navigating cross-cultural experiences. Check it out! 

Have you read The Newlyweds? Would you? Let me know below!

P.S. Books to read if you love the Commonwealth and a book I could NOT put down.