Book Review: “Butterfly Stitching” by Shermin Nahid Kruse

I’ve been interested in Iran and its women since I was a little girl. You see, my mother was an exchange student there, before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 when the last Shah left for exile. I grew up with Persian art on our walls and Iranian biographies on our bookshelves. So I was excited to receive the book Butterfly Stitching by Shermin Nahid Kruse to review and will pass it on to my mother now that I’ve finished it.

 Book Review- "Butterfly Stitching" by Shermin Nahid Kruse

The author, Shermin Kruse, has been writing since she was a little girl in Iran. She’s a practicing attorney in Chicago, and, frankly, I’m impressed by her first novel. [Side note- Kruse is an intellectual property attorney, like my mom, who’s finishing up HER first novel! Interesting coincidence…Must be something in that Midwest water 😉 ]

The book tells the story of Sahar and her mother Samira. Although it’s a work of fiction, it’s “inspired by the true stories of Iranian women.” The prologue is set 2009  in the US and opens with Sahar and Samira. Part One then flashes back to 1988 and the events in Iran that led them to the States.

It’s the end of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and Iran’s Morality Police beat people in the streets for wearing Western clothing and dancing. Public executions are not uncommon, and women must cover their hair and most of their body or risk beatings, imprisonment, or even death.

Samira is an artist, married to a poet. Because of the strict religious regime, their work is heavily censored, and they must keep their thoughts and actions guarded. Outwardly, they obey the laws and teach their children to do the same. But inside their little apartment, they sing, dance, and talk about the life they used to have…to an extent. Part One is told through little Sarah’s eyes. She’s 10 years old, and it becomes quickly apparent that her parents have secrets about the past.

Part Two is Samira’s story. It flashes back to her youth and her life before to the revolution. As a young, poor village girl, she was married to a wealthy but controlling man who already had one wife. Eventually the first wife’s brother comes to visit. His name is Armin, and they soon find themselves falling in love.

The third and final part of the story covers the family’s escape and journey to the US after Armin is killed. The epilogue is set in present day, 2014. At the very end, Sahar finds out a secret, the last puzzle piece of her family’s mysterious past in Iran.

I found the book fascinating and extremely well written. The prologue hooked me by alluding that their family had been destroyed in some way. I wanted to keep reading to find out how it happened.

The book deals with issues like child marriage, forbidden love, adulterous relationships, betrayal, divorce, women’s rights, and religious freedom. Kruse crafted a mesmerizing tale of familial secrets and struggles on a historical backdrop of war and religious turmoil.

If you enjoy books like A Thousand Splendid Suns and Memoirs of a Geisha, then you will like Butterfly Stitching. I highly recommend reading this book! You can find Butterfly Stitching on Amazon. Both a paperback and a Kindle edition are available.

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Review: SckoonCup

I need to start today’s post with a warning. I’m going to talk about menstrual cups, “Aunt Flow”, and girly parts. So if you’re a dude or sensitive to TMI subjects…you may want to read a different post!

Read my review on the SckoonCup, a soft silicone menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups have actually been around for decades. In fact, the idea itself has existed since at least the 1800s, but the cups just haven’t been popular in North America. There are two basic kinds of menstrual cups- disposable and reusable. The SckoonCup is reusable, which is very cost-effective. As far as how often you have to buy a new one, I had trouble finding that information on their website. I do know that many women use the same menstrual cup for several years before replacing it.

I’ve been using menstrual cups for well over a year now. Other than a couple of hiccups in the process, I’m very happy with my experiences. The first two or three cycles, I had to get into a routine of taking care of the cup, emptying it when not at home, etc. I found it a little messy at first, but now I’m a pro…I think.

Another plus- menstrual cups hold more blood than tampons. On my heaviest days, I have to change a tampon every 30 minutes for a few hours straight. When using a cup, I can go an hour before the cup is full. And there are different sizes of cups too.

Many moms cloth diaper their babies, because they feel that cloth is healthier for their little ones and better for the environment (read more of my thoughts on that HERE). I’ve noticed from browsing blogs and mommy forums, it seems that same train of thought is leading more and more women to using menstrual cups and cloth pads. It is true that unlike tampons, menstrual cups have never been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Additionally, since the cups collect blood instead of absorbing, the cups won’t have a detrimental affect on your natural vaginal moisture.

Read my review on the SckoonCup, a soft silicone menstrual cup.

I’ve found cups to be very convenient when exercising, especially when jogging at the park. When I’m trying to travel light, I really don’t want to carry tampons too.

(^Side note: Okay, I haven’t tried the Sckoon pads yet, but from the cloth pads I’ve actually tried…I have yet to find one that worked well while running. If you’ve tried a cloth pad that doesn’t move around while working out, I’d love to hear about it. Message me, please!)

The brand of cups I had been using is made with natural rubber (latex), so when Sckoon sent me one of their silicone cups, I was very curious to discover the differences, if any. I immediately realized that the silicone cups are much softer and easier both to insert and remove.

Once the cup is properly inserted (see more about that below), it’s comfortable, and I can’t feel it.

I’ve only discovered one downside to the SckoonCup, but fortunately, it’s an issue I can fix and may not be a problem for someone else. Because it’s such a pliable cup, it’s easy for me to insert the cup too far. The way my cervix sits during my cycle, it’s easy for the cup to end up against my cervix, which then causes me painful cramps. I can tell immediately when this happens, and all I have to do is adjust the cup a little lower, and I’m fine. This only happened once with my old rubber cup, when I physically pushed it in too far. It’s happened several times with my SckoonCup, because it naturally seems to just pop up there.

So if you’re new to menstrual cups, just be aware that this can happen to some women. If you start getting unusual, painful cramps, it could be you need to adjust the cup.

If you’ve tried a cup before and had trouble with it leaking, it could be that the cup wasn’t the right size or shape for your body. Or perhaps you need to try different methods of folding and inserting it, to ensure you get a good seal. You can always ask your doctor about your cervix, to get an idea of where it’s exactly located. So don’t give up, if a cup doesn’t work for you right away!

To learn more about SckoonCup, visit them on their social media accounts. You can find details on how to care for a menstrual cup there, as well as sizes and pretty colors to choose from.

Note:  SckoonCup provided a sample of the product mentioned in this post, for review purposes. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of the Green Moms Network, and the content and opinions expressed here are 100 percent my own.

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Is 30 really the new 20?

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My little family- November 2013. Courtesy of Emily Knight Photography

On Friday, I will turn 30. I’ve actually been debating telling people I’m 28, because I haven’t accepted yet that I’ll no longer be a “20s something.” I hear people talk about aging gracefully, but I’m not ready to age! I will not go quietly into the night!

At 20 years old I was tan, unmarried, and considerably thinner. The world was at my feet. Or that’s how I thought at the time with my youthful arrogance.

Now I’m a wife and mother, and I haven’t yet accepted this new identity. Heads don’t turn when I walk into a room. Men don’t “check me out” when I’m juggling my flailing shrieking toddler in one arm and digging for my keys with the other. Teeny boppers standing at the clothing racks next to me give me this disgusted look. I can read their minds: “You’re so OLD. You’re too OLD to shop here. Gross.”

I realize, of course, that it’s okay to be a mother and wife, and it’s okay to be 30. It’s wonderful and beautiful to be these things. I just haven’t wrapped my head around it yet! Most days I do, but not every day. Not when I’m facing the big 3-0 this week.

But I am learning to focus on new things, as I “find” myself. There’s a wonderful little community of moms here in the area that I’ve met, both from church and other Navy wives. They’ve been a real encouragement to me as we meet up for play dates, etc. And I try to be encouraging to them as well, if they need it.

With the help of an awesome friend and running buddy, I’m training for a half marathon in April. I’d like to do a full marathon after that. I ordered the Brazil Butt Lift Workout DVD program (don’t laugh!!!!!!) to tighten, well, everything. I’ve cracked down on not only how much I eat but what I eat. I try to make healthy, nutritious meals for my little family.

And wouldn’t you know as I’m typing this, an iCal Alert pops up on my laptop screen in front of my face. Just in case I forgot it was my birthday on Friday, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY. Happy birthday to me!

I may not have the body I did 10 years ago, but I can take good care of the one I have now. I try to dress the one I have now in clothes that flatter my shape and age. And I finally went to see a doctor about my adult acne. Now that I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding, I can take medication for it. I’ve also started using StriVectin-SD cream on my forehead wrinkles.

StriVectin-SD was created as a stretch mark cream, but somewhere along the way, it was discovered that it helps with wrinkles. It works too! I’ve used it in the past and noticed results after a month, but stopped when it made me break out a little on my forehead. Now that I’m taking the acne medication, I thought I might as well start using StriVectin-SD again. I’m taking some before pictures, and then I’ll take some at 30 days, so I can show you the results!

My mom wasn’t using her tube of StriVectin, so when I was there for Thanksgiving, I totally stole it. =D (Okay, I told her I was doing it, so not really stealing.)

When I used StriVectin in the past, there was only one or two kinds available. Now the brand has numerous products. With a coupon, you can purchase a StriVectin Gift of Discovery 3-piece kit at for $35.95.

When your purchase from, you can get points back on your purchase (BE Perks). Besides shopping rewards, they give out free samples and have free shipping in the domestic US for orders $60 or more. So it’s a pretty cool site! They sell all kinds of products, including sunblock (very important for any age!), fragrances for women, flat irons, makeup, and bath accessories. They even have the Batiste brand of dry shampoos- my favorite!

I believe it’s important to take yourself, inside and out, no matter your age. For me that includes attending church services, learning more about God and fellowshipping with others, and doing my personal devotions and praying regularly. It means exercising and eating a mostly whole foods diet (except for flavored coffee creamer…that’s my one vice…I love the stuff, even if it’s not even real cream!). Staying positive and keeping busy is also a part of it, especially since my husband lives away from us right now (out of state Navy training). And for me it also means regularly putting on makeup and styling my hair, even if I don’t feel like it!

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll wake up Friday morning and realize that nothing has really changed…and then I’ll be okay. 🙂

Have you ever faced a mini “identity crisis” or a birthday you weren’t thrilled about?
Note: I did receive compensation for this post. However, the opinions expressed above (and there are many of them) are my own. They may differ from your opinions or the opinions of others.
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