Transitioning to Fall Outfit Post

I originally purchased this dress to wear whilst I was away in Poland, but I never got the chance to wear it, simply because it got so incredibly wrinkled in transit. However, I really like it and think it has a bit of a professional vibe. I know I'm getting far too old for Forever 21, but I am pretty into this dress. Sometimes they do have great finds for us "older" ladies!

The fact that this dress gets SO incredibly wrinkled is the downside of this dress. It needs to be ironed and ironed and ironed...and even then its still wrinkled.




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Dress- Forever 21 
Shoes- JustFab





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I'm in the hospital....

Hi everyone, 

Just so you know, I am in the hospital (but will be fine...no worries!). It is probably a kidney stone. I'm not sure how long I'll be in for but I won't have much access to twitter, Facebook, etce. Posts will still go up (that have been pre-written). No new video this week (which I already knew since I was feeling awful). I will have access to email, but my giveaway winner may not be notified for a few days to a week. Thank you for your patience! 

xxxx




 
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A Desert of Civil Dialogue in the Midst of the Gaza Crisis

Currently, in the Israeli/Gaza crisis that is happening at the moment, I consider myself politically neutral. A few of things I do know and they are as follows:

+I do not believe in the death of civilians for any reason.
+I do believe the Jews have the right to a homeland, so therefore I am a Zionist in that respect. The word is often misused to mean West Bank settlers, but Zionist, in its purist form just means that Jews should have a homeland. Zionism doesn't even mean it has to be Israel.
+As a Jewish person, I am concerned for the rising anti-Semitism.

+I do not believe the Holocaust should be manipulated or misappropriated to describe this situation on "either side." I do not think survivors should be used as political leverage and they should be respected as individuals with their own opinions. 

What I don't know is basically...anything else. I do not have an opinion on who should "win" this war, whose side is most correct. And yet...

Engaging in debates in order to learn about the conflict has earned me many enemies just from the tenants I believe listed above--none of which are particularly political in my mind.

Here is a short list of the names I have been called and why:

Insult: "Zionist extremist."/ "Intolerant."
Circumstances: In the courses I teach about the Holocaust, I have a strict rule that discussions end at the year 1945. I am not interested in debate on the Gaza Crisis in a course that is structured to speak about 1933-1945. Plus, I do not feel qualified to moderate such a debate. 

Insult: "Neurotic who condones the killing of innocent children."
Circumstances: On social media, I was emphasizing the fear many Jews feel as anti-Semitism rises. With riots targeting Jews in Europe, I am concerned. Also, not all Jews are Israel. It is unfair to equate people thousands of miles away from Israel with their actions, right or wrong. However, I was told that I have no right to be concerned because what "we" are doing to people in Gaza is far worse than the destruction of personal property in Europe. 
 
Insult: "Self-hating anti-Zionist Jew looking to corrupt other Jews with her deep seeded hatred of her own people." / "Person with agenda." / "Disgusting human being."
Circumstances: Again on social media, I expressed concern that survivors were being shamed for having their own individual political opinions. Survivors, I said, are individual people with individual backgrounds and cannot all be expected to stand united on any issue. Their suffering cannot be used for political gain.
 
What Does All of This Mean?
 This is not a rundown of insults in order to show you what a victim I am.  This is to illustrate that even someone with a neutral point of view, like myself, is being alienated from discussion. There is no room for dialogue, no room for learning, even from people who want it. Dialogue, it seems, is completely unattainable and impossible. If we can't even talk in a civil manner about it, how are we to ever come to a solution? 
 
I am very interested in learning more about this issue. I am interested in neutral reporting, in articles that neither demand Holocaust survivors take a certain stand or liken Israel to the SS. I want to know, in a neutral manner, exactly what is happening in Gaza. And I hope for a peaceful solution where we all can live happily ever after (although that is a pipe dream, of course, which I recognize, but one can hope for the best).
 
But if even moderates or neutral people are pushed out of the conversation, how are we to constructively learn anything? If all that is posted on social media are articles where the poster generally expects everyone to agree with them on the issue and then become irate when people do not agree, what is the point?
 
And, more importantly, why is there so much blaming on either side when a genocide is occurring in Iraq and social media is totally devoid of any passionate argument against it? When I have posted things on this issue, it is though tumbleweeds are passing through my posts. Post anything vaguely related to Gaza/Israel that shows you have the slightest inclination of any kind of opinion and you can sit back and watch the post explode. 
 
In the end, it leaves many of us feeling uneducated, disempowered and slightly paralytic about the situation. How am I supposed to form an educated opinion when both "sides" have made it ultimately clear that the basic tenants that I believe in which I have mentioned earlier on this post are unacceptable. 
 
If screaming like toddlers until we are all red in the face if someone slightly disagrees with you is the way we are handling this issue and trying to bring about peace, then it is time to re-evaluate how we are stalling dialogue and thus, making peace completely impossible. 
 
Have you been able to have a civil dialogue on this issue? Do you feel your education on the issue is neutral or "colored" by one doctrine or feeling?
 



 

Songs About My Main Characters

Every so often, I hear a song when I'm working on a new book that completely embodies my main character's emotions throughout the book. I haven't really found one for Stella in The Remnants, but I will work it out eventually!

But I will share my other main character's songs.

Unravelled

For Aliz in Unravelled, this hauntingly beautiful song really highlights her helplessness and how alone she felt in the days after Auschwitz. Her hesitance to speak is also highlighted in this song, as well as the extreme loss of her family and sense of self after the Holocaust. This song wasn't released until the manuscript was long written, but after I heard it, I knew it was all about Aliz. I particularly like this version in relation to her. It is sung by a young lady with a gorgeous set of pipes:

A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera- Say Something, Covered by Jasmine Thompson

Lyrics that stick out in my head for Aliz from this song:
And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all

And I will stumble and fall
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

And I will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye
 
 Children of the Most High
 
As for Rebecca in Children of the Most High, I chose two songs released way after I originally wrote her story, but both by the same artist. I was actually fortunate enough to see this artist live when he opened for The Noisettes. Marques' music is so incredibly unique (who has ever heard of someone accompanying themselves on a violin and sounding amazing?) and his Christian imagery coupled with his sense of desperation really ring true for her character's situation. 
 
Marques Toliver--White Sails



Lyrics that connect with Rebecca (the whole song really):

  I was just a little boy swimming in the ocean
My past mistakes and future joys
I don't think I can swim this on my own
Swim this on my own, Swim this on my own.

Destiny fall down
Wipe away my past mistakes
The sun ain't shining now

I don't think I can make this place my home
Make this place my home, Make this place my home.

Send by me from your voice to my ears, to my ears
Send me from your voice to my ears.

If I abide to your will
Shall I never have no pain
Will I never have no pain.

I"m tired but my body's hungry
Lay me by the riverside so I can die.

Please be still, cause I'm complacent here
Lying by the riverside,lying by the riverside.
 
 
Marques Toliver- Deep in My Heart


Lyrics that connect with Rebecca:
 
I gotta keep my mind free
Just to keep on walking
Even if I'm all alone
I won't let nobody
Ever try to stop me
I gotta keep track of my soul
.....
Baptize me if you wanna
But I'll never be the same again
...
There's power in your sorrow
You'll see tomorrow
Take you places you don't know
Deep in my heart I know its right
And my enemies they try to break me
But I won't give up without a fight
I gotta keep on pressin' on...
 
If you're a writer, what songs represent your main characters in your current work in progress or favorite book you've written? If you're an avid reader, what songs remind you of the main character in your favorite book? If you've read my books, do you agree with my song choices or have a different one? xxx

Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos></a>

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Beauty Mythbusters: Beer Hair Mask--New Video Mondays and a Call to Action



 


Call to Action
In Iraq, the ancient Yazidi/Yezidi people are facing extinction under ISIS who are aiming to eliminate them. There are several ways that you can get involved without donating any money:
 
From CombatGenocide.org:
  • Call on your government to send humanitarian support to the Yazidi refugees (food, clothes, and medical supplies) and to grant shelter to Yazidi refugees.
  • Call on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, USA) and on the European Union, by sending letters to the local embassies, to act according to international law and save the Yazidis besieged on Mount Shingal, and to prevent the Islamic State organization from conquering the Yazidi enclave in the area of Shekhan north-east of Mosul.
  • Call on the UN and its agencies by writing to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to create an international operation of the nations to protect the Yazidis.
  • Social media outreach (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) under the hashtag #YazidiGenocide – Take a photo with a sign and upload it to the internet.
  • Post to the walls of relevant figures on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Call on more organizations to join in actions aimed at saving the Yazidis and stopping the genocide.
  • Organizing a local protest in your country/town. 
This website, YezidiTruth.org, also gives you some great templates and easy ways to write to both the White House and your local congress if you are in the US. Even if you are not in the US, you can still call upon these leaders to act.

Genocide is never permissible. Let us work together to stand up to it.



Goodbye Summer Outfit Post

As summer draws to a close, I thought I would do one last summer outfit post. In some places in the US, it is still pretty damn hot, so you might be able to wear this through September!








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Dress- H&M (No Longer Available)
Headband- Primark
Shoes- Jessica Simpson

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge--A Challenge to the "Haters"

Yesterday, Luke (Lifestootall) and I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge. Like so many others around the world, we filled up buckets full of incredibly cold water and poured it over our heads in support of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease. We laughed, nominated our friends and even got the dogs in on the action. I even made a gif of Luke's face as he got doused:


After we cleaned up, we went inside and donated a few dollars to ALS, and I was really excited to see that the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped the foundation raise over $50 million in a few short weeks. With all of the horrible things going on in the world, it makes me pretty happy to see everyone uniting to make a difference in a small number of people's lives.

I'll be honest, without this Ice Bucket Challenge, I probably would not have donated to the foundation for a cure for ALS. I vaguely knew about the disorder before and the horror it can bring, but I don't really know anyone affected by it. Other causes are at the forefront of my mind, such as lupus research, mental health research and stigma reduction, Holocaust education, help for elderly Holocaust survivors who are lonely and/or have minimal resources, human rights protection and dog rescue. But just because those are my pet causes, doesn't mean I can't stop for a moment and consider that there are others who need help aside from those who fall into those categories.

And as someone who has been criticized for doing charity work before, I understand that any kind of good effort is going to bring about those who shake their heads. They say what you're doing isn't effective, that it is being done in the wrong way, that this is wrong, that that is wrong. And the Ice Bucket Challenge is no different. With bloggers, writers and people all over my newsfeed taking their time to bitch about it, I'm going to attempt to address their concerns. 

This challenge is narcissistic and focuses on those who are doing the challenge instead of the disease
Humans by nature are narcissistic. Many people participate in charities because it makes them feel good. But that shouldn't negate their efforts. Even if their motivation is purely selfish, it is still translating to a selfless act. 
Also, the challenge is fun. People like to have fun, even in charity settings. Participating in a charity event shouldn't just be boring and somber. It should be a way to raise spirits, hope and encouragement. Depending on the context, it should be putting smiles on people's faces, not making them feel desperate. Yes, an Ice Bucket Challenge may not be acceptable for a Holocaust education charity, but it would definitely be for lupus support, mental health research, dog rescue, etc., etc. 

The challenge wastes resources
Okay, fair. But a lot of people, including myself, have sought alternatives. You can do the challenge over a swimming pool, at the beach with freezing cold Northern California ocean water, a spring or lake or over plants in order to water them. A friend of mine is living in a place where there is a drought, so as an alternative to using drinking water, he turned his shower setting to the coldest possible and sprayed himself for a couple of seconds. Verne Troyer, of mini-me fame, used milk in order to conserve water. 

It is unfair that ALS is getting attention when there are so many worthy causes
There are tons of worthy causes out there and ALS research is just one of them. This challenge has raised awareness for a disease that many people didn't know about previously. I've actually heard people say they had no idea what ALS was until the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and now are educated on it. Cancer research gets a lot of attention, but it isn't "unfair." It's just how it is. ALS is getting its moment in the sun. Deal with it. No one is telling you not to donate to a charity of your choice or not to support something closer to your heart.

But I have xyz disease and I'm having to suffer in silence while ALS gets attention
Dude, I have lupus SLE. It will likely never get an Ice Bucket Challenge. But that doesn't mean I don't also spread awareness about lupus. I write articles that have gone live on XO Jane. I write about it in this blog. I do videos on YouTube about it. You do not have to suffer in silence. You can even create your own initiative for your disease if you wish. Before this challenge, tons of people with ALS were suffering in silence as well. 

I can't financially spare $100. It is unfair that this is being "challenged" or "demanded" of me.
I can't spare $100 either. So I didn't donate $100, but I gave what I could. You can give as little as $5. If $5 is truly hurting your resources, then don't donate it. No one will think you're a bad person for it--it's just your current situation. But you can still spread awareness.

This challenge will not cure ALS. Pouring a bucket of ice on your head doesn't do anything.
Um, duh. It is what it represents.


What do you guys think? Did you participate?


If you still remain unconvinced, here are a couple of videos of people for whom this challenge is really helping:



The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise over $200,000 for a family who have three generations affected by the disease.




A man who is paralyzed from the waist down from ALS participates in the challenge. You can donate to David McClain (aka Tex) here.




Kringle Candles

Image of candle copyright Kringle Candle Company
If there is one thing I am absolutely obsessed with, it is the Bath & Body Works candle collection. I mean...COME ON. They smell fantastic, especially the fall and winter scents (I can't be bothered with those weird fruity summer ones...soz). 

Since they don't have Bath and Body Works here in the UK (THE NERVE), I've had to resort to smuggling these heavy guys with me in my carry ons whenever I come back from the US. And they're not light. I had my parents mail me one once and it cost like $50. So then I looked at purchasing them on eBay and again, it was like $50. 

I have looked for alternatives here in the UK and Yankee Candles are all right, but damn are they expensive. It seriously bums me out when I'm aware that Bath & Body Works candles smell so delicious and regularly sell for $10 during the sales. It is a cruel and unjust world, y'all.

So when I was in Krakow after my program ended, three of us ladies were just browsing around Kazimierz and I stumbled upon this little candle shop. They sold both Yankee candles and candles from a company called Kringle Candles. I had never heard of them before, but I started smelling everything and was like "WHAT? THESE ARE AMAZING." And the price wasn't outrageous.

They have everything from cinnamon doughnut CIDER to Pancakes and they smell, dare I say, equally as delicious as Bath and Body Works candles. They even have pumpkin candles, which is a rarity here in Europe because Europeans don't really do pumpkin the way we do in America. Because their tumblers are so big, I decided not to purchase one to take back in my luggage, but instead got two wax melts of Cinnamon Doughnut Cider and Brownie Cheesecake. The melts can be placed in a oil burner and will essentially turn to oil and then back to wax.

Brownie Cheesecake Wax Melt

But because I am an idiot, I stuffed the entire melt into the oil burner at once. It clearly states that you need to break it apart, but I went rouge and did this:

And then of course this happened:

Whoops. 

All in all, though, I'd say Kringle Candles are amazing and I'm going to be a regular customer quite soon. They ship for free in the UK, which is awesome, and their melts run at £1.50. They are originally an American company, as you can tell by their love of pumpkin spice, but their wide availability in Europe makes them one for me to watch. They also offer scents that Bath & Body Works doesn't (aka a whole line of baked goods) in addition to air fresheners in most scents. If you're a candle lover, you won't regret it.
 
Kringle Candles US Kringle Candles UK/Europe




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TGIF--Friday Deals (New Segment)


Hi everyone! I have a brand new segment in which I'm telling you all about the best deals every month from my favorite brands (UK & US). Please be aware that I ONLY post deals on brands that I stand behind 100%. And who doesn't love saving a little cash? With back to school around the corner (or already here in some cases), you can work on your new look while saving money. :)


Dune:

Kohl's (ENDS AUGUST 28): 

Saks Fifth Avenue 

The Body Shop UK

Happy saving! xx




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Cath Kidston Weekend Getaway Giveaway!

Summer may be almost over, but that doesn't mean you won't be going on a weekend trip sometime soon. With this giveaway, you'll be all set for a few days away from home featuring British brand Cath Kidston.


+Winner will receive one travel bag and one travel cup from Cath Kidston.
+Winner may pick the design, but it is subject to availability from Cath Kidston.
+Winner MUST complete task in the Rafflecopter (i.e. following a link) for each entry. 
+Entries where task is not completed are void. 
+Contest runs from August 20-30.
+Winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to claim prize before another winner is chosen.

+Competition is open to residents of: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Continental Europe

Good luck!


Not Familiar with Cath Kidston? Shop her collection here:
Cath Kidston (UK)*
This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Cath Kidston, however the above is an affiliate link to the store.



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14 Retro-Inspired Tunes to End Your Summer

The summer is winding down (at least for the folks in the US), so I thought I would share a little summer mix I put together for your listening pleasure. This mix is exclusively of modern artists who have a little bit of a '50s or '60s sound (which is my favorite type of music--updated retro...err what kind of genre is that anyway?). I included one Broadway hit from Memphis the Musical (Memphis Lives in Me, obviously!), which is one of my favorite shows and songs in general...plus it fits the '50s/'60s vibe. Enjoy!

August Mix by Anna Scanlon on Grooveshark

If you have any songs of a similar genre you'd like to recommend to me, please do!

Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos></a></center>

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Giveaway--My Books, $50 Amazon Gift Card and More!

So sometimes on Anna in Wonderland, I go a little giveaway mad. This may be a hint of things to come!

Below, you can check out the the giveaway I am co-hosting in which we are giving away a FREE Canon 600D/T3i Rebel. Go here for more info.

And here is another one where you have the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and my books, in addition to several other great prizes. Good luck! x

$50 Amazon Giveaway
Stephanie of Twentieth Street | Margo of Guten Blog Y'all | Miho of Wander to Wonder Lena of Tiny Painter | Kelley of Move By Yourself Nicole of Treasure Tromp | NaNa of Foreign Geek | Anna of Anna In Wonderland







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Annoucement and Cover Reveal

I just can't stop! Before the year is out, I will have published--count them, THREE books in 2014.

My latest offering (and last one for a year or so), The Remnants, will be available November 13, 2014. You can pre-order it here, right here, right now. 

If you're in the UK, go here.

Add it to your Goodreads To Read list!

And take a look at the shiny new cover:

Sign up for my mailing list and get exclusive updates and a free sneak peek! Click here.

What is this one about? Here ya go:
The Nazis have won WWII (or as it is now known, The Greatest War) almost 70 years ago. Having established an Elite class of descendants of former leaders during WWII,  Stella Goering, great-granddaughter of Hitler's right-hand man, Hermann Goering, enjoys a privileged life in the capital of city of New Berlin (formerly New York City). There, citizens of the Reich live happily without the burdens of the racially inferior who have since become extinct.

As a daughter of the Elite, Stella has attained celebrity status. But she finds the bright lights and magazine write ups a constant distraction from her self-imposed destiny of serving the Reich as a doctor. She even finds the yearly ritual of all citizens testing their blood for purity more of a nuisance than a patriotic gesture. And as a daughter of the Elite, she must have it done publicly, in front of all of Germania. But this year, Stella's tests are showing something she never expected: her genes link her to a race she thought was long extinct: the Jews.

Convinced this is a plot from the Japanese to destroy the Reich's confidence in its leaders, Stella relies blindly on the Elite to protect her until the situation can be proved a conspiracy; otherwise she will be punished by death. After all, the Reich has always protected her. But Stella quickly learns that what's true and false in the Reich isn't so black and white and that those she's always trusted don't always have her best interest at heart…



 Pssst...by the way, my subscribers on social media got this information a full day before you, the casual blog user did. And the mailing list subscribers got it two days before. So...follow me down that rabbit hole! 







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Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D Giveaway!

Hey everyone! Today I have an amazing giveaway I'm participating in with Emily from The Freckled Fox. I partnered with her not too long ago to give away one of these cameras and we're at it again. This camera is gorgeous and I use it as well. I'm not perfect with it yet, but it has certainly upped my blogging game. Definitely check it out and enter!
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Notes: The giveaway will run for ten days, the winner will be selected at random, contacted, and announced shortly after the giveaway concludes in this post as well as on all Freckled Fox social media channels. Yes this is open internationally! entries will be verified. Enter below:







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