April’s 10: Summer Reading List

For a while, I’ve never considered myself the “reading type,” but it’s more than essential to my field of study. It helps people to think critically, analyze, and generate new ideas. In fact, I was very bookish as a child. Reading has become more than an escape from reality in the time of COVID, it’s become a lifestyle.

With that being said, summer is upon us. So, here are a few reads I’m adding to the official “April Diaries Summer Reading List”! (Also, apologies for the lack of images, I just got a new laptop — a MacBook Air — and I still haven’t mastered its entirety!)

  1. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood.
  2. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lyn Solomon.
  3. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner.
  4. Almost French by Sarah Turnbull.
  5. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover.
  6. Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  7. How To Lead by David M. Rubenstein.
  8. The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander.
  9. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.
  10. Anything else you can feast your eyes on! It’s up to you!

What do you think of calling this series the “April’s 10”? Let me know in the comments and happy reading!

Also, if you don’t think reading is cool then there is something wrong with you.

xoxo, April

PROFILE DIARIES: Crafter, May Flaum

May Flaum has been crafting since she was a child. However, when she went to college, she studied the travel industry. After 9/11 happened, she was unfortunately out of a job and her internships were no more. She thusly rekindled her love for crafting when she got her first “crafty” job managing a crafts store and teaching classes. “Before Facebook and Twitter, in person events were the one and only route, as well as blogging, message boards — people wanting to share knowledge and learn from each other,” says Flaum.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Flaum could only do so much as to host Facebook Live Events. She especially does Facebook Live Events because she is a Brother Crafts Ambassador. To her, being approached by Brother USA was a blessing because she has been using their products for so long (e.g. their famous sewing machine.) In addition to Facebook Lives, she also thinks of features for their site, produces YouTube videos, and videos and tutorials that go onto the Brother USA Website.

Crafting has become more than just a hobby for most during the pandemic. With that being said, her advice to young DIYers, especially those who are selling their hobbies on sites like Etsy is to “just go for it.” Flaum also emphasizes coming back and revisiting the idea of selling your hand-crafted pieces, as well as lifting others up and finding someone to compliment. “It only takes a second! You never know who might need it!” says Flaum.

Her background in the traveling industry has actually helped her plan out travel events. She has absolutely no regrets because the logistics of her education have helped her a great deal. “It’s never wasted,” she says.

5 Crafting Must-Haves for 2021

By May Flaum, Brother Crafts Ambassador

  1. A Designated ‘Create Space’

Whether you’re a crafter, sewer, or embroiderer, it always helps to have your own space meant for creating. This space is where you can keep your machines, embellishments, fabric, vinyl, glue, etc. That way, when you’re on to your next project, you will have everything you need organized and ready to get to the fun part- the making! This doesn’t need to be a large space or even permanent spot – it could be a small desk with drawers and space to keep your supplies or even a portable storage system so you always have your creative supplies with you and organized – wherever you create. It makes creating a little escape into your own craft world easy.

  1. SVG Files

In 2021, crafting meets technology with the use of SVG Files – or Scalable Vector Graphics. These files give crafters the ability to easily incorporate their favorite designs in an array of projects. Some machines even come with built in designs making projects possible as soon as you turn on the machine. Whether you are creating your own graphics, utilizing free SVG files, purchasing from digital shops, like Etsy, or using the files that come standard in your machine, SVG files make all sorts of crafting from sewing to scrapbooking fun!

  1. Craft Vinyl

My go-to for creating decals, custom apparel, stencils, and more is craft vinyl. The possibilities are endless with vinyl from stickers to iron-on. Just cut your craft vinyl from your desired (SVG or other) design and transfer it onto your desired project. Craft vinyl comes in a variety of finishes glossy, glitter, flocked, patterned, pearlized and so much more. Easy to cut, weed, and apply it adds a lot to customize and craft a wide variety of projects.

  1. An Electronic Cutting Machine

An electronic cutting machine is a must-have for any crafter in 2021. As mentioned above, having access to digital designs is a gamechanger and an electronic cutting machine, like the Brother ScanNCut DX, will become your go-to for everything from birthday cards to ornaments, pillowcases, and gift bags. For example, the ScanNCut machine comes with built-in designs, including holiday patterns and letter fonts so you can quickly create and edit on the touchscreen display. Creating with craft vinyl and importing SVG files only takes moments as well – expanding your creative possibilities and making more possible at a fraction of the time to hand-cut.

  1. Embellishments

For any kind of crafting, it’s always a good idea to keep ribbon, buttons, glitter, and other accessories of your choosing on hand to spruce up your projects. From scrapbooking to picture frames, a finishing touch can go a long way.  Look for items that are in colors that you create with often, and don’t be afraid to mix and match to create the perfect finishing touches to your handmade creation.  

*Featured Image courtesy of May Flaum.

FOODIE DIARIES: Take a trip to Paris with Pot Au Feu!

COVID-19 took a lot away from us this year, and the election is upon us (…in just two days 😱) But something Corona can’t take away from you is feeling like you’re taking a trip to Paris. Seriously, practice some French on DuoLingo. Read Sonia Choquette’s Waking Up In Paris: Overcoming Darkness in the City of Light or Age of Light by Whitney Scharer. You could even wear all black and watch Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.” Better yet, if you live in Rhode Island, or if you’re visiting Providence, head down to Pot Au Feu Bistro on Custom House Street!

This Halloween I took it upon myself to wear all black, paired with leopard print booties and took my mom to Pot au Feu in Providence. You go downstairs and you’re welcomed by Bob Burke, the owner, surrounded by an ambience as if you really are in Paris. My mom and I had a table in the corner with a rose perched perfectly in its vase. If tables are close to each other, there is a noiseless, practically silent and unnoticeable air purifier in between tables.

Can we please talk about what I ate, though? PLEASE!

Escargots a la Bourguignonne
Boeuf a la Bourguignon
Crème Brulee, of course!

Then to drink, you can never go wrong with a Pinot Noir! So, anyway, if you’re looking to escape your small town in Rhode Island, or wherever you may be and happen to be in Providence, check out Pot Au Feu. Did I also mention that some of the wait staff speaks French? And they’re extremely friendly!? It was a bon soir for sure! Thank you Pot Au Feu for making me feel like I am still walking on air the next day after a delicious five-star meal. 👍🏼✨

BEAUTY DIARIES: HollyHoux

(Los Angeles, CA.) – A new skincare brand has stepped upon the beauty scene and is sure to be rolling off of the tongues of beauty fans everywhere!  Who might you ask? Introducing HollyHoux, (pronounced “Holly-Who”), that’s who! 

The debut of this new luxe skincare line is something that every woman will want to have in their beauty cache and on their vanity tables!  Colorfully packaged to appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds (teens and adults from Main Street to Park Ave.), with many items in the collection meeting ‘better beauty’ standards of being Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten and Cruelty-free. ‘Sustainable Beauty’, offering you clean conscious skincare!   Retailing in as $25, HollyHoux brings to the beauty round table everything from scented masks, cleansers, toners, scintillating mists and their “out of the gate” best seller, the revolutionary “Cool Liquid Cushion”, flawless skin pact makeup setter!

Hydrating, refreshing and cool to the touch, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” is ideal for every skin type and with “one tap”, women will instantly see a reduction in the appearance of pore size and the elimination of that greasy shine on their first application!  Through the use of an innovative “water powder” and the combination of 16 types of herbs, the “Cool Liquid Cushion” does exactly what its name implies; it’s cool to the touch, soothes as it’s applied and provides a soft thin layer of protection giving you the appearance of flawless skin without and that heavy, powdery feel, basically you don’t feel like your face has been caked with product — which is always a good sign!

Founder and owner, Jennie Kim, a seasoned veteran of the fashion industry, says. “The Cool Liquid Cushion concept was born out of my search for a ‘makeup setter’ that would simultaneously conceal and moisturize my skin, living in sun kissed California.”

I live in New England, which is the complete opposite of the west coast. But we like to keep our skin moist, too, especially during the harsh winters.

Formulated with key ingredients extracts such as Borago Officinalis, Anthemis Nobilis flower, Rosehip oil, Menthol, Peppermint and Chamomilla Recutita extract, it took over a year of research and testing before she found the exact outcome she’d been looking for!

HollyHoux also has product sets that every beauty savvy customers will want to get their hands on just in time for the holidays with their cute assorted (and refillable) “Refresher Mist” set!

PROFILE DIARIES: A Q&A with writer and life coach, Victoria Greenwald

Something you may know about me, other than the fact I tend to publicize my life on social media, is that I am a HUGE people person, and I love to write feature stories. I’ve done one for my rockstar fashion designing friend, Maria Del Carmen Mercado, but this time I chose someone from my hometown (Medfield, MA) who is killing it as a writer and a life coach. That someone is no other than Victoria Greenwald!

A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

V: I went to Wheaton College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, Illinois, and I studied psychology, English, and journalism! I loved my experience there, from the classes to the intentional community. 

A: Describe your writing career.

V: I’ve been wanting to be a professional writer as long as I can remember! One of my earliest memories is writing a short story on an old typewriter in my basement (it was about 4 superhero middle schoolers. Very cool). I decided to major in psychology in college because it felt a little more practical, but throughout my 4 years I ended up adding 2 writing degrees to my studies and all of my extracurriculars and career pursuits ended up in the writing realm. I graduated college with a full-time job writing at The Everygirl, and eventually launched my own blog after switching jobs. Now, I use writing as a huge part of my coaching!

A: What made you decide to pursue coaching?

V: I went to college thinking I’d be a counselor, as working with people through transitions has always been something I’ve been gifted at. I learned early on, however, that my strong desire to give direction and advice wouldn’t really fit into that job (which is great!), so I shifted career paths. Fast-forward a few years when I left my first writing job to work in full-time ministry, I started a blog to keep up the writing. I realized I liked writing about career tips, so I thought I’d offer a resume writing service, which I hated. It was a terrible move on my part — BUT I learned that for the 15 minutes that I got to talk with my clients about their dreams I absolutely loved. I learned that what I wanted to do was coaching, so I found a certification program that specifically helped me learn how to coach people through a Gospel-centered lens and I’ve been off to the races since then! 

A: What are you working on now?

V: Currently, I’m building out my business. I work with clients 1:1 in tailored programs, and I’m working on a self-paced course that’s all about purpose and vision. 

A: What do you have to say to those who are working on their spiritual growth?

V: Spiritual growth is a life-long process, and that’s really beautiful. We have an innate desire to be known and loved, and to know and love in return — God is the only being that satisfies in both directions. Pursue Him with eagerness and curiosity, that obedience will never be returned void! 

A: What do you have to say to those who are in the writing profession?

V: Pursue excellence. Everyone can call themselves a writer these days, so make sure that what you’re contributing to the written world is of great value. Lots of us writers know that we have a million things to say, so I encourage you to use discernment in saying what needs to be said, not just what can be said (and said well, you wordsmith you). If you’re just looking to get into writing as a profession — practice! Write the kinds of stuff you want to write in the future, even if no one is paying you for it. Interview your friends. Write an op-ed on a political issue. Start a blog! There are many avenues for you to grow and learn. Learn to be self-motivated and pursue being great at your craft.

A: What was your goal, prior to your current vocation?

V: Such a great question — I wanted to be the Editor in Chief at Elle magazine! That was the goal. It’s so funny to see how I’ve shifted from writing for my own glory to writing as service to other women.

A: What has influenced your spiritual lifestyle?

V: I give a lot of credit for my early experiences with Christ to my parents. They love Him and they wanted me to know and love Him, too, so I got lots of exposure to Bible stories and life transformation from them and from my church when I was younger. Once I was off to college, it really became my responsibility to keep following Christ on my own, and He has impacted my life in such incredible ways that I had to keep following Him. He is the reason for my hope, for my joy, for my purpose! 

A: What would you say to those who are trying to be as confident and successful as you? Or growing their own brand, like yourself?

V: Confidence comes when you’ve defined success correctly. For me, success is serving my God and the people in my life every day — and the means for me to do that (coaching, prayer, friendship, working at my church) bring me SO much joy. I know that I am a part of God’s incredible plan for the whole world, and that takes a ton of pressure off of my shoulders to be the hero. For the gal who is reading this wanting to grow a brand: remember to only be pursuing things that serve your actual goal. What do you want? Know the answers to that before you start taking action steps. 

Big thanks to Victoria for the pictures, as well as the extremely thoughtful and candid answers! You can read Victoria’s blog and view her coaching services here.