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Friday Faves: Novica

When I buy someone a gift, I put a tremendous amount of time and thought into it. I like the gift to be as unique as its recipient and really suited to that person’s individual likes and passions. When someone opens a gift from me, I want them to know that I chose it especially for them. That’s why I like Novica so much.

novica logo

Novica is a partner company of another favorite of mine, National Geographic, and specializes in hand made gift items that are crafted using traditional methods by artisans all around the globe. From jewelry to art, to clothing and home decor, you can find something for everyone at Novica. And if you take gift-giving as seriously as I do, you can rest assured that when you purchase a gift for someone from Novca that it’s a unique item — your recipient is not likely to already have anything quite like it — and that they’ll love it for its authenticity, craftsmanship and beauty.

Oh, and I should also mention that Novica is a fair-trade company, which means that the artisans who create Novica’s wares are paid fair wages, have sole discretion over their work and are empowered to grow their businesses through unique opportunities. To date, Novica has sent nearly $60 million to its artisan partners and that may just be the coolest thing of all about this company!

novica fb

I love, love, love how Novica’s gift search is set up on their website! You can search by person, search by occasion, search by price range, or my favorite: search by personality. For the traveler, for the animal lover (that’d be me!), for the gardener, for the wine lover and so on… Novica’s got it covered! There really is something for just about everyone.

Novica was kind enough to send me a beautiful, blown glass pitcher to try out for a while. The first thing I did when I opened the box was to read the little card that was attached to the pitcher’s handle, which told the back story of where it came from and who made it. Every piece ordered thorugh Novica is accompanied by similar information, describing the journey of the item’s creation. Much more appealing than a sticker that reads: “Made in so-and-so country,” don’t you think? Artist bios are also viewable under the item details when browsing the online shop, so you can learn about who, exactly, you’re supporting when you purchase a particular item.

novica pitcher story

The pitcher is beautiful. It looks lovely sitting out as a focal piece and certainly does its job as a pitcher well. It holds more than you’d think it does and is sturdy and easy to handle. I really like the ice cube well that’s built into the body of the pitcher. If you want to chill your drink, but not water it down, this is the pitcher for the job. Photos really don’t do this piece justice — it’s something you have to see in person to appreciate — but here are a few shots of it serving as a beautiful vessel for some mint lemonade:

novica pitcher

novica pitcher top view

novica pitcher side view

Spring’s finally here (that’s what they say, at least… the snow is falling here in southern NJ!), which means that lots of special occasions are coming up: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, weddings… before you head anywhere else for a gift, try checking out Novica first, for a truly one-of-a-kind gift that gives so much back. And if you’re really in the gifting spirit and want to further your impact even more, you can become a lender through Novica’s microfinance program, which offers interest-free loans to its artisans who are seeking funding for special projects or business expansions.

Novica, thank you for creating a company that I can feel so good about shopping with! You certainly have gained a life-long customer, in me!

Have you purchased from Novica before? What do you like about the company?

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Oogy by Larry Levin: A Review

*I wrote and submitted this review for publication, elsewhere, a little while back, but since hearing the sad news of sweet Oogy’s passing last week, I decided to post it here, today. I’m so glad that Oogy’s story has been told. It’s a hard one to wrap your head around, but one that everyone needs to hear.

When I saw Oogy on the shelf at the bookstore, I snatched it up right away. I can’t resist a good animal story. And that face on the cover… I mean… Come. On!! How could I pass it up?!

When Larry Levin, a Philadelphia-area lawyer, walked into his veterinarian’s office with his sick cat twelve years ago, the last thing he expected was to find his new best friend. But that’s exactly what happened and within the pages of Oogy, readers discover just how that friendship came to be.

At just a few months of age, a tiny white puppy with a horrible past soon became the light of the Levin family’s life. Oogy, as he became known, began his life as part of a dog fighting ring. He was used as a bait dog — the dog fighters savagely turned their dogs loose on him for “practice” — and he was left with some horrific injuries to his face. While others had given up on him, Oogy was fortunate enough to end up in a veterinarian’s office who decided to give him a chance at a better life. Odds continued to sway in Oogy’s favor when Levin and his family decided to bring him home. He may have had only half of a face, but the Levin family soon found that his heart was so very full heart and despite his horrible beginnings, he had nothing but love to give.

Oogy went on to serve as an ambassador for animal rescue and the “face” of the horrors of the dogfighting world. Interestingly, Oogy was not a pit bull — the breed of dog most often associated with dog fighting. Instead, Oogy’s ancestry was pinned down to the Dogo Argentino, another breed whose strength and lineage is often exploited. Oogy became quite a celebrity in the dog world. He was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008 and he made frequent appearances at events and fundraisers throughout his native Philadelphia area. Everyone who met Oogy fell in love with him. And also with the Levin family for looking past Oogy’s physical deformities and his scary past and giving him the loving life that he so deserved.

Although I didn’t love the writing style of this book (a little too much detail on mundane things for my liking), I did love the story and couldn’t stop turning the pages. It was a quick and easy read and although some parts were a little difficult to read, emotionally, I think it’s an appropriate book for teenagers on up. Oogy’s story is one of hope, love and determination. His transformation is a testament of the power of kindness, love and good, old-fashioned TLC. I think that anyone who loves stories about dogs, stories about animals, or just all-around, feel-good stories will enjoy this book. Pick up a copy for yourself or for someone you love. And give your dog a great big hug, in remembrance of Oogy and everything he represented.

Rest easy, dear Oogy. Your story will always live on…

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March’s Goals and an Update On My Life List

Since we’ll be making settlement on our farm at the end of this month, I expect March to be nothing less than a crazy whirlwind. With that said, I’m giving myself a break from my usual “Three Things” for this month and focusing on just one thing: getting everyone and everything safely to the new house without losing (too much of) my sanity!

I did accomplish each of my three goals for February, though, which I’m pretty stoked about: I finished “To Kill A Mockingbird” on Friday. I thought the story was a bit slow to develop and contemplated nixing it once or twice, but I kept reading and I’m glad I did. What a wonderful and powerful piece of literature. I’m eager to read the sequel when it’s released later this year!

I tried not one, but two new foods — rutabaga and minneolas. I really enjoyed both and I think they’ll be finding their way into my grocery cart a little more often.

This rutabaga made its way into a veggie pot pie and a batch of veggie soup. Kind of potato and carrot-like, and also very tasty!

This rutabaga made its way into a veggie pot pie and a batch of veggie soup. Kind of potato and carrot-like, and also very tasty!

And finally, I did lots and lots of decluttering! I dropped some commitments that really weren’t serving me anymore, I let go of some emotions that were holding me back and I threw away a lot of stuff while packing for our move. February was very successful month, I’d say!

And since we’re on the subject of getting things done, I thought now might be a good time to offer up an update on my Life List…

A while back, I posted my Life List here. Think Bucket List meets To Do List — mine includes everything from visiting the Galapagos Islands to quitting my cuticle biting habit — the big things and the not-so-big things.

I haven’t given an update to that original post (almost two years ago!), so here’s a glimpse into to how my list currently stands.


– rock a pixie haircut

– teach myself to play guitar

– take a road trip across the US

– vacation in Europe

– become fluent in another language

– do more of what makes me happy: I’ve found more happiness than I ever expected in the last few years. I’ve really discovered my passions and have focused on them much more intensely that I ever have. I’m also getting a little better at letting things go that don’t serve me well, which has brought me more unexpected happiness.

happy voltaire

– volunteer more: I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the past two years. It’s something that brings me incredible joy and it’s something I don’t want to ever stop doing!

– maintain a healthy weight

– get a backpiece (tattoo)

– be a better wife

– save a (human) life

– be more “green”

– have a handicapped pet

– own a horse

– keep a cow as a pet

– keep a duck as a pet

– keep a pig as a pet

– learn to like running

– run a 5K: I completed a 5K last year, but I didn’t run the entire time. I’m not marking this one complete, yet!

– really learn how to use my camera – not just auto mode!

– foster animals for a shelter/rescue

– try SCUBA diving again

– and skiing

– participate in a World Vets volunteer trip: I’m going later this year — probably in November or December — to celebrate my 3oth birthday!!!

– quit my gross cuticle-biting habit

– finish all the scrap books I’ve started

– be a more confident public speaker

– be a better vegan

– work for a non-profit organization

– participate in a protest: DONE! I’ve participated in a few at a local pet store that sells puppies, one at a bird store and I was also a part of a circus protest. Protesting is not at all intimidating, like I thought it would be. It feels quite empowering, actually!

bird store protest

– read more books

– write a book: I’ve started brainstorming for a few and have written some rough outlines. Gotta start somewhere, right?!

– write a cookbook

– be a better Christian

– live without credit cards

– eat fewer carbs

– be more organized

– visit as many animal sanctuaries in the US as I can: Three down (Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Catskill Animal Sanctuary), many more to go!

I kissed a cow and I LOVED it!

I kissed a cow and I LOVED it!


– adopt a pet from outside the US

– watch every ‘I Love Lucy’ episode: I’m on Season 3!

– own every Disney movie

– re-watch ‘LOST’

– travel to Georgia with the MOMS Rescue for one of their monthly, life-saving trips

– anonomously do something nice for a stranger

– grow a vegetable garden: I’m already planning out our garden at the new house. We have almost 6 acres, so we have plenty of room.

– visit every US state: I can check NJ, NY, PA, DE, VA, NC, FL, CA, WA, MD, DC off the list.

– become certified in therapeutic animal massage

– learn more about holistic/alternative medicine

– learn a cultural dance

– own a convertible car

– convert someone to vegetarianism/veganism: I proudly take credit for my husband’s transition to vegetarianism and helping him find his way toward veganism. (It’s one of my greatest accomplishments!) I’ve also created some sparks in the hearts and minds of a few friends and family members! 

– start antiquing: The Mr. and I went on an antique hunt on Sunday. We didn’t buy anything, but we had fun looking. Our new house just screams, “Fill me with antiques!,” so I’m sure it will be something that we do more often in the future. 

– live in an old farmhouse: As of March 31, we will be living in a 19th century farmhouse! CAN’T. FREAKING. WAIT!!!

This 19th century farmhouse, to be exact!

This 19th century farmhouse, to be exact!

– take a solo vacation: My trip with World Vets will be a solo one. I’m excited but a bit scared to be out of the country by myself. Many internal pep talks will be needed for this one!

– visit the Galapagos Islands

– host a fancy dinner party

– see The Starry Night in person

– conquer my fear of city driving


I’m also adding a few more things to my list:

– meet my “soul sister,” in person (you know who you are!!) :)

– be part of a documentary

– can and preserve our own food

– earn another degree

– Meet Jane Goodall


Do you keep a “Life List,” or a similar type list? What recent things have you checked off of yours?

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Nature Love

I just have to share this photo of something I stumbled upon yesterday while out doing dog walks:

snow heart

A beautiful, perfect, heart-shaped hole in the snow.

Mother Nature is so awesome, isn’t she? I absolutely love when she sends me neat little things like this.


If you want to see some more really cool, natural hearts, check out all the lovelies on this Pinterest board.


Inspirational Ish

I have some freaking amazing news to share!

My life is about to change completely.

No, we’re not having a kid; WE’RE BUYING A FARM!!!!!!!!!! 

I kind of just want to shout it from the rooftops (well, not literally — I’m pretty terrified of heights!) and tell the world. “Hey world, we’re buying a farm!! It’s only been my dream for about forever and it’s finally, finally coming true! Do you hear that world? MY DREAM IS COMING TRUE!!!”

Would strangers care about my announcement? Probably not. And that’s okay. But what I really wish I could get into people’s heads is that last part. That dreams really do come true. They are for me and they can for you. I absolutely hate that people give up on their dreams so easily. Sure, they take a lot of work and you may have to wait what seems like forever to reach them, but they’re worth it. They’re so worth it.

Since I’m feeling uber inspirational lately (and too excited/distracted/busy to actually sit down and write a “real” post), I figured I’d share some of my favorite inspirational things. They’re little tidbits I’ve come across and have saved, printed out or just pondered over at one point or another. They’ve spoken to me and I hope that some of them speak to you, as well.

inspiration 1

inspiration 2

inspiration 3

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inspiration 7

Not my hand, by the way. Thinking I want a thumb ring now, though. Isn’t it cute?!

inspiration 8

inspiration 9

inspiration 10

My favorite at the moment.

inspiration 11

inspiration 12


inspiration 13

inspiration 14

inspiration 15

All. The. Time.

inspiration 16

inspiration 17

Imagine what the world would be like if more people took this one to heart.

inspiration 18


Oh, and if you want to know original sources, I have no clue. (I know, I know — I’m breaking a cardinal rule of blogging!). Just about all of these were pulled from Facebook … and who knows how stuff ends up there!?

What’s your favorite inspirational quote?

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DIY Scrap Ribbon Garland

Most girls do their damage in shoe stores or at the makeup counter.

Not me.

Let me loose in a bookstore or a craft store, though, and things can get a little crazy! However, in craft stores, I do have remarkable self-control when it comes to stuff I can easily DIY at home.

And that’s how this project came to be.

DIY Scrap Ribbon Garland

This is a super easy (and when I say easy, I mean EASY! If you can tie a knot, you can make this!!) way to add a little whimsical flair to your home and my DIY version is a whole lot cheaper than the $14.99 it would have cost at the craft store. If you’ve got a lot of left over ribbon lying around from old projects this is a great way to use it up!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • twine, string or ribbon cut to desired length of garland
  • ribbon in varying textures, colors and styles (I used 5 (3-5 yd.) spools for my 6-foot garland)
  • sharp scissors

To assemble:

  1. Tie a loop into each end of your main piece of twine, string or ribbon to allow for easy hanging.
  2. Cut scrap ribbon into lengths of about 3-4 inches. Don’t worry about keeping them too uniform. Variations in ribbon size give this garland its flair.
  3. Tie ribbon scraps onto main garland string. Don’t aim for perfection! The less perfect you try to make it, the better it turns out! It’s foolproof, really!
  4. Adjust spacing of ribbons. They can be tight together or spaced far apart. It’s whatever look you’re going for (or however much ribbon you have on hand).
  5. Hang and enjoy your work!

That’s it! I said it was easy, didn’t I?!

I love this garland so much, I may have to make one for every holiday!

garland mantle

Happy DIY-ing!



Three Things: February

three feb

February’s here! It’s the shortest month of the year, so be sure to make it count! Here are my “three things” for this month:

  • Read a classic novel. With this recent news, I’m thinking it has to be To Kill A Mockingbird. I don’t know how I made it through school without reading it!
  • Prepare/try a new food
  • Declutter (in more ways than one)
let it go

My current mantra.


What are you working on this month?


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