Canon 600D and Unravelled

So, remember that post I made about not being able to afford a fancy camera? Well, I caved and for my 30th birthday in May, I bought myself a Canon 600D. I didn't pay full price for it as I got it second hand. I figured if I was going to take blogging and vlogging seriously, I needed to actually start having quality photos. I also purchased some inexpensive studio lighting, so expect a lot more photos of outfits, products and my everyday adventures. I am also going to Poland and New York City in June, so I'm looking forward to bringing you some eye candy from our adventures.

I also wanted to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has purchased their copy of my book Unravelled. It has meant so much to me! And the book has skyrocketed to #87 in the YA Historical Fiction list with the likes of Patricia McCormick, Markus Zusak, Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein. How amazing to actually share a list with these contemporary literary giants!

I was so excited that I took a screenshot to remember it by. Happy reading and writing!

Yom HaShoah--Holocaust Memorial Day

Yom HaShoah Memorial at Duke University. Photo credit.
Given what I study, I thought I needed to make a post about Yom HaShoah. As the theme of the pain of genocide being beyond the ability of human language to describe, I will keep this post short and simple.

Today is Yom HaShoah, the day of remembrance of the Holocaust throughout Israel and the world Jewish community. The date was decided upon in order to commemorate the brave young people who risked their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and who refused to go to their deaths willingly. Take a moment to remember the millions, Jew and non, who not only died in the Holocaust but in any senseless and hateful tragedy or genocide. 

Find out more about the heroic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising here.

I believe in the sun
Even when it is not shining
I believe in love
Even when I cannot feel it
I believe in God
Even when He is silent.
-Anonymous Auschwitz Inmate (this poem was scratched into a wall in Auschwitz-Birkeanu)
Flowers in Auschwitz. Photo credit.

Yad Vashem's Remembrance Wall. Photo credit.

How to Make Your Photos Look Great Without an Expensive Camera

This really simple trick helps gives your photos just a little extra boost.

Here is my picture before (taken on my iPhone 5c)

To add a little bit of depth and clarity to my photo, I've logged into my GIMP (Photoshop Lite) and gone to the following: Colors > Brightness-Contrast. In most my of my photos, I go up to about the value of 20 or 30 on both Brightness and Contrast, but sometimes that is too much depending on the light. Play with it a little bit and see what you come up with.

For the final step, I go to Filters > Enhance > Sharpen for a finish. Also, play around with this one and see what you get!
I've also been using a program called "Afterlight" in the Apple App store that allows you to adjust things quickly (sharpening, contrast and brightness included!) and easily and even quickly add filters. You can get it here. It's definitely worth it for the money, especially if you can't afford the Canon 600D or any of those other expensive jobbies that many bloggers seem to have *sigh*. One day!
FTC: I am not affiliated with any company listed.

Royal Wearables 3: Kate's Australian Look for Less

Kate started off Easter weekend in an adorable white eyelet dress by Zimmerman, an Australian designer. This was an early release for the emerging label, so the dress won't actually be for sale til June (and will cost £270). For those wondering, the dress is called Roamer. She's also wearing Stuart Weitzman espadrilles and carrying an LK Bennett clutch. But if you're looking for a cheaper alternative or want to rock the look a bit earlier, read on:

Shop the Look! 

More Eliza J...


More Nordstrom...

The actual shoes. Stuart Weitzman $395. Available here

FTC: Some are affiliate links.

Children of the Most High--New Novel Set for a June Release

My new novel, Children of the Most High is set for a June release!

SYNOPSIS: Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Graber has lived in the safety of her close-knit conservative Amish community her entire life. She has been dating Zeke Stolzfus, the Bishop's son, since her first singing and anticipates the day when the two will marry. Rebecca's life changes overnight when Zeke, the boy she loves and trusts, forcibly takes her virginity. Taught to "turn the other cheek" like Jesus would have done, Rebecca's religion requires her to forgive Zeke and put the rape in the past. Family relationships and community ties are put to the test in the wake of Rebecca's trauma. Feeling abandoned by her religion's minimization of the assault, she embarks on a journey where she discovers the answers in the most unlikely of places. This powerful novel examines what forgiveness truly means.

Add it to your Goodreads list here!

Or enter the giveaway for an ARC copy!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Children of the Most High by Anna Scanlon

Children of the Most High

by Anna Scanlon

Giveaway ends May 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Royal Wearables: Kate Middleton Royal Tour Looks for Less #2

Here is another Kate look and where you can get similar outfits for less!

Of course Kate looks gorgeous as she arrives at the airport in Dunedin, NZ. Take a look at her outfit for less below.
                                                             Shop the Look!

More Class International...

Kate on her playdate with Prince George in that adorable Tory Burch dress.

Shop the Look! 

More Boohoo...

Two Picks I Found That Reminded Me of the Duchess
Vero Moda Dress. £32. Available Here
Ted Baker Powder Blue Dress £171. Available Here

FTC:  Some of these links are affiliates

The Battle of the Body Scrubs

I used to be a loyal and avid Bath and Body Works kinda girl. My go-to scent since freshman year of college (or perhaps even high school) was Warm Vanilla Sugar. A few years ago, that all changed when I switched over to Twilight Woods and made that my new favorite. And although I'd been living abroad for a couple of years, I still seemed to make it home for the semi-annual sales to stock up before heading back. Nowadays, I'm not so lucky, so I've been embarking on an adventure to find other body scrubs.

I'm kind of new to the whole body scrubs thing (making me just tardy to the party) and started off slowly with the Buffy Body Bar (which I will write about below) and then transitioned into the Twilight Woods Golden Sugar Scrub whilst on a visit to the USA. To be honest, I kind of thought the sugar scrub was the same as a body wash (I know, how do you make it to my age and not actually know that?), but was pleasantly surprised with the results. I decided to continue into the world of body scrubs after being pleased with the results, but not being near a BBW, I needed to come up with a new hometown favorite. Here are my reviews of all of them, including the Twilight Woods.
Twilight Woods from Bath and Body Works
This one has a really nice sweet scent, but it takes a lot to make it work. At $13-$15 a pop, I found that it ran out far too quickly for my liking, but otherwise it did its job and left my skin both soft and with a sweet smelling scent. 
Score: 8/10
Chocomania by The Body Shop
I bought this one while away in Amsterdam because I was looking for a body scrub to take with me on the road. The Body Shop has some great travel sized products, including body scrub, so I picked this one up. Unfortunately, I found the crystals too fine in this mixture and I didn't feel like I got a good exfoliation. And it made a mess in my hotel bathroom.
Buffy Body Butter by Lush
This one is a body butter and exfoliant (is that even a word?) in one and was my the first scrub I tried. It did its job as a body scrub and produced the promised smooth skin, but I found it didn't do well sitting in my soap dish. It kind of just disintegrated into a mess. And those soap tins from Lush? Forget about it. The tin looks disgusting after a couple of weeks if it is stored in a wet place (and duh? Your shower is wet). And although this bar did give me smooth skin, it smelled strangely of mushroom soup. I found I really needed to scrub with something else to get the scent off.
Sugar Crush Body Scrub by Soap & Glory
Now, I'm really enjoying Soap & Glory because it is a specialty item in the US. That being said, this body scrub was not one of my favorites from the line. Like the Bath and Body Works Sugar Scrub, it took a lot to do the job and I went through an entire tub in about a month. And that's a lot of sugar scrub. Also, I'm not a fan of the scent (lime is not my favorite), but I may try another one in the future. I won't be purchasing this one again but will probably do so with another item from the line.

Cocoa Butter Scrub by The Body Shop
Cocoa butter at The Body Shop is my new go-to scent. It's sweet without overpowering and none of that fruity stuff that I so strongly dislike. When I used the scrub, I was pleasantly surprised by how fine the crystals were, but were still able to do the job. A little goes a long way. This one is definitely my favorite. Used in conjunction with the Cocoa Butter Body Butter and my skin is soft and smooth as a baby's bum.

Winner: The Body Shop!!


 FTC DISCLAIMER: Links to the Body Shop are affiliate and I do receive commission for their sales. I have no affiliation with Soap & Glory, Lush or Bath and Body Works. All items have been purchased with my own money and opinions are my own. Review

Against my better judgement, I've joined Just Fab and received two items thus far. I've always known Just Fab was a subscription site, so I'm a bit baffled at all the negative press that calls it a bait and switch. It's pretty clear that once you join, you choose each month what you want (and everything is the same price). You can skip months if you wish and cancel any time.  However, the quality of the products isn't great, so I may end up cancelling anyway. The shoes I got broke after one wear...the strap came off (for £35 that is ridiculous!)...but we'll see if that was a one off. I've decided to exchange them for another shoe as the heel height was a little ridiculous, so we'll see how the new ones fare. The service so far has been decent, so hopefully that means it will continue to be. Here are the two items I've purchased and are below those I have my eye on:  
What the product actually looks like:

What they look like in "person." They are literally the highest wedges I have ever worn. They were almost impossible to walk in and the quality wasn't great, so they went back (after breaking from one wear).

Things I have my eye on....

 This one below is only £6, but I'm not sure if that means the quality sucks....
FTC Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Just Fab and all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Make-Up App Find: My Makeup Collection

Becca Collins, an engineer by trade, noticed there was a fundamental problem when it came to beauty blogging: bloggers lacked an app to review make-up products as soon as they tried them. Thus her free app, available in the Google Play and Apple App Store, was born.

My Makeup Collection allows users to catalog their make-up so they can see exactly how many types of each type, brand and color they own. The app will show it as a graph or a pie chart, for the mathematically minded. Users can also create uploadable (to blogs and social media) wishlists and makeup looks. The looks can be tagged with different products so that viewers can buy the product immediately. Beauty bloggers will appreciate the feature that allows them to upload short reviews of products directly to their website.

My Makeup Collection is free, but users can pay $1.29 to get rid of ads. It is available here for Google Play and here for the Apple App store. It has gotten high ratings and great reviews so far, as it is extremely user friendly. If you want more information, you can visit their beautifully designed website here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Everday Sexism Gets Turned on Its Head

This video (link above) by Guardian video producer Leah Green shows some reversed misogyny by giving men a taste of their own medicine when it comes to street harassment. Leah Green makes it clear that she is using scenarios women had given her from their own lives. In the video, Green tells random men to get their "arses out," asks if they want to go home with her and honks at men from a truck telling them how sexy they are while they walk past her, all to their shock and horror (and sometimes amusement).

If you're a woman, you know exactly what it feels like to walk down the street and have some random perv yell out what he wants to do to you in bed. You've probably also had men hit on you aggressively and ones that won't take no for an answer. You're probably used to the idea that your body is public property in the sense that it is free reign to be objectified and commented on. But turning the tables highlights to absurdity of these ingrained values and makes one wonder why it is so shocking to see a man being treated in this way.

As a rule, I don't like to read the comments section on websites. Usually, it represents the dregs of society and by some point in the conversation, someone is saying the Holocaust didn't happen or how much they hate black people. But for whatever reason, I found myself straying to the comment section from Green's article and saw that predictably, many people thought this video was unrealistic and unfair.

Firstly, they felt this video didn't really represent how men are portrayed. They thought that the fact that Green is attractive in the classic sense would mean that men would just say yes to her aggressive advances or simply  think that she is "just nuts." However, I'm not sure where in the world a biological rule is written that a man must be ugly and disgusting in order to street harass. Often times, even attractive young men are at fault (especially in groups to demonstrate their masculinity to one another). Green was also quick to point out in her rebuttal article that the men didn't run away screaming for a variety of complicated social reasons. In her words:

Answering the second area of criticism will help to illustrate this. "None of these men are even offended, they just think she's crazy! So, that disproves the point" was the gist of many a comment. I won't bother to address the responses implying that, because the men in the video didn't run away screaming, women shouldn't make a fuss about sexual harassment.

Another common thread addressed the issue of whether or not the men in the video deserve to be hit on aggressively. These commentators felt that that we aren't combating the issue by "simply" throwing it in men's faces. However,  there never seems to be a question on whether or not women deserve it. They just are harassed, as if it is part and parcel of being a woman (and frankly, it is, even if isn't write). Perhaps it is abrasive to try and give men "a taste of their own medicine" (whether or not the "targets" are individually sexist), but turning sexism on its head is one of the few ways to show how absurd all of the notions and actions in these scenarios really are. Green states:

Countless people have said: "So, you know these men are sexist, do you?" Or: "What have these poor men done to deserve this?" In short: no, and nothing. Nor am I saying that I believe the majority of men behave like this towards women. Most men I know wouldn't dream of cat-calling a woman, or asking a stranger about her pubic grooming habits. But I know that sexism is a problem, that the majority of women have been victims of it. Much like the men in the video, they haven't done a thing to deserve it.

The other argument I often see from people who don't want to face  sexism (and one all over the comments section on Green's video) is that men and women equally face such harassment or gender issues. Men I know have talked about how difficult it is to be a man and that they face oppression in their everyday lives, even though many don't realize their own privilege. To me, that's like saying you're an oppressed white person, but I guess if you're a Fox News pundit then that sentiment might actually be validated, but I digress. The point is that no matter how you slice it, gender issues are not the same, hence why this video is so disarming. If gender issues were the same, then this video would seem like normal everyday street harassment, not something the targets of Green were taken aback by nor anything that aroused (pardon the pun) any kind of surprise in the viewer. Sure there are issues in the world that solely affect men and are a few instances where sexism works in favor of women (for example in custody battles) but these often stem from stereotypes about females (females as carers in the custody battle scenario), forming a circular issue. Sexism against women is typically actually the root, but often times people are slow to acknowledge this.

Green says on the issue:

The experiment also proves that while, yes, women are sometimes sexually aggressive to men and, yes, men are sometimes objectified by women, it is simply false to say the issue is the same for both genders. When I asked men what sexual harassment they had encountered, the few that had something to offer spoke of "one time, with one woman, 10 years ago". My father, who is a rather handsome chap, only cited a drunk woman on the bus asking him to go home with her about 30 years ago. Women will often be able to give you an example from that week, that day even. If it were an equally pressing issue for men and women, why were the men I approached so taken aback? 

Overall, I found this to be an interesting and entertaining look at sexism that really got its point across. Whether or not people choose to listen to that point is up to them, but I sincerely hope they do. It is a message worth listening to and a question worth pondering. Besides, don't these men have mothers, sisters, cousins, grandmothers, daughters, aunts and friends they wouldn't want to see harassed in such a manner? And if so, why make other women uncomfortable? What is stopping us from confronting the issue head on and trying to make a grand change is society and why is there such a push back? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Unravelled's Trailer Has Dropped

Curious about Unravelled? Watch the trailer here:

Happy Easter, Brought to You by the Muppets and JC Superstar

front cover of Graham's album
Even though I'm not a Christian, I definitely appreciate myself a good Jesus Christ Superstar. As a kid, I listened to the record (I know, who owns records?) over and over and loved singing the songs. I think I even choreographed a tap dance to King Herod's Song when I was 8. I love the musical so much that I've even incorporated my own little Easter tradition of eating matzah while I watch the dirty '70s version (the only version in my mind) of JC Superstar. What can I say? I grew up doing theatre. Dancing and singing in your living room was pretty much required.

Have you ever wondered what the Muppets would sound like if they recorded their own version of the rock opera? Well, no, I'm sure you probably haven't. The fact that this could exist in the universe wasn't really something I had thought about before the very second I discovered it was a thing. And why has someone not made this a full scale movie?

1973 film version with Ted Neely as JC
Some guy named Christo Graham from Quebec pondered this question enough to not only cast Muppets in their appropriate roles, but to also make a "cast album." Oh, and if you were wondering about the cast list, Kermit plays Jesus, while Gonzo as Judas, Rowlf as King Herod and Miss Piggy as Mary Magdalene round out the ensemble. I know, I was a bit perplexed of the choice of Miss Piggy for the Seminole role of Mary Magdalene, but as the Muppets are lacking women, it seems she's the logical choice.

If you want to give it a listen, you can go here for some smiles. I hope you're enjoying your Easter and eating lots of Cadbury Creme Eggs! I know I am.

Matzah Week! Toffee Chocolate Matzah

Continuing with the Matzah Week theme is a chocolate covered toffee (caramel) crunch for Passover (or any time really). Like with the other recipes, don't be afraid to try it if you're not Jewish....we don't have the exclusive rights on matzah or Passover.

This is a great little recipe I found over at David and tried it out myself before posting it for you guys. It's super, super easy. The idea of making caramel/toffee intimidated me a little bit, but it's actually one of the easiest parts.

So on to the recipe!

-4 to 6 (although you could do more with the amount of toffee it makes) sheets of Matzah
-1 cup unsalted butter (for Passover you can use margarine or you can also cut down on the butter if you want to keep it a little healthier. I only used about half a cup and still had more than enough)
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-Pinch/dash of sea salt
-1/2 - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you would like)

Necessary Cooking Utensils
-Aluminum foil
-Baking sheets
-Non-stick baking paper
-Measuring cups/spoons


1. Preheat oven to 190 (Celsius, 375 Fahrenheit)  

2. Cover cooking sheets with foil and then place non-stick baking paper on top. 

3. Place the matzah on the sheets. To fill the whole pan, you can break it up and place it on the sheets.

4. Melt butter in the microwave (for about 1-2 minutes). Pour the butter into the pot and place 1 cup brown sugar in the melted butter. Stir.

5. Turn on the stove and bring the brown sugar/butter mixture to a boil. Let boil for three minutes, stirring the entire time.

6. After three minutes, take off the stove and add your vanilla and salt. Stir again. Pour over the matzah.

7. Turn down the oven to 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Place matzah inside. Time 15 minutes, but check on it every so often. If the oven is too hot, it can burn. It will boil, that's normal, but just watch it. Take it out if it starts to burn.

8. Measure out your chocolate chips. 

9. Pull matzahs out of the oven and pour on chocolate chips. Let sit for 5 minutes.

10. Spread chocolate chips with a spatula so that the chocolate covers your whole matzah. Add whatever toppings you like. You can do nuts, fresh fruit, whatever your little heart desires.

11. Let cool for a few hours.

12. Once it has cooled for a few hours, place in the fridge for about an hour or two. It will all congeal together in the fridge.

13.  Break the matzah apart and store in an airtight container.

It is delicious!

As a bonus, I tried to do some After Eight mint chocolate matzahs. I didn't have enough chocolate chips so I just melted the After Eights and poured them over two matzahs with this result: 
I think it may work better if you melt chocolate chips and then break apart some After Eights (mint chocolates for the Americans!) and place them on top. Although, the melted After Eights aren't that bad. I've broken them apart so it looks more appetizing.

FTC: I have no affiliation with any brands mentioned. All opinions are my own.
© Anna in Wonderland

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