Lois the Witch summary and review


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

As a lover of classic literature as well as European and early American history, I was recently drawn to Elizabeth Gaskell’s novella, Lois the Witch, as part of her wonderful collection of spooky stories, Gothic Tales.

It is the most haunting and powerful work of fiction I’ve ever read.

This novella begins in late 1691, just prior to the outbreak of the Salem witch hysteria.

It follows the tale of the teenage Lois Barclay, who travels from England to Salem, Massachusetts following the death of her parents. This is a taxing journey for Lois, who leaves behind a wealthy young man who wishes to marry her but whose family does not believes poverty-stricken Lois is a proper match for their son.

In Salem, where she comes to live with her uncle’s family, the Hicksons, she encounters a very strange world.

The paranoia which grips Salem, and later proves fertile ground for the madness which would trigger with the witch trials, leaps off the page quite early in the novella. The Puritans are intensely religious, but their faith is devoid of love and compassion. The inhabitants of the town are terrified by the Native Americans, who “lurk in the wilderness” surrounding them. The townspeople are convinced that the Native Americans dabble in the dark arts, or witchcraft.

The relatives with whom poor Lois comes to reside hold equally bizarre notions. Her first cousin Manasseh Hickson, the darling only son of the family, falls deeply in love with Lois. Almost immediately, he begins to harass her to marry him, claiming that it’s “God’s will” that they marry. Lois, clinging to her lost love back in England, spurns his advances repeatedly.

Though Lois strives to endear herself to her aunt and two adolescent female cousins, her attempts fall flat. They are consumed by jealousy of Lois’s sophistication and beauty – and baffled by her unfamiliar English ways. Instead, Lois bonds with the family’s Native American servant, Nattee.

In this setting, paranoia erupts in February 1692 as witch fever takes hold.

The novella demonstrates the many reasons why the townspeople accused their neighbors – including jealousy and unsettled grievances. Sadly, it also demonstrates that many accusations were made simply to draw attention to oneself.

***Warning (Spoilers ahead!)

In this manner, Lois is swept up into the madness. Prudence, her youngest female cousin, eager for the widespread attention which leveling an accusation often brought, charges her with witchcraft.

It is clear that Lois herself is not immune to these delusions. After her accusation, she worries constantly that she, unbeknownst to herself, is actually a witch. Only Manasseh, who is struggling with mental illness, defends her – all in vain. It is furthermore clear that those who defend the accused themselves ran the risk of being charged with witchcraft.

Lois is tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hanging. The Hicksons’ Native American servant, Nattee, is similarly accused and sentenced. They comfort one another in the jail, on the eve of their executions. This is one of the most touching – one of many! – parts of the work:

“When all was quiet through the prison, in the deep dead midnight, the gaoler outside the door heard Lois telling, as if to a young child, the marvelous and sorrowful story of one who died on the cross for us and for our sakes. As long as she spoke, the Indian woman’s terror seemed lulled; but the instant she paused, for weariness, Nattee cried out afresh, as if some wild beast were following her close through the dense forests in which she had dwelt in her youth. And then Lois went on, saying all the blessed words she could remember, and comforting the helpless Indian woman with the sense of the presence of a Heavenly Friend. And in comforting her, Lois was comforted; in strengthening her, Lois was strengthened.”

Lois and Nattee are executed.

In tragic irony, Lois’s lost love from England sails to Salem in the spring in order to claim her as his bride. There, he learns the devastating truth as follows:

“The people of Salem had awakened from their frightful delusion before the autumn, when Captain Holdernesse and Ralph Lucy came to find out Lois, and bring her home to peaceful Barford, in the pleasant country of England. Instead, they led them to the grassy grave where she lay at rest, done to death by mistaken men. Ralph Lucy shook the dust off his feet in quitting Salem, with a heavy, heavy heart; and lived a bachelor all his life long for her sake.”

The final pages of the novella detail how the people of Salem later publicly and bitterly repented of their violence toward the victims, including Lois, although it was too late.

Historic Salem, Massachusetts

Thoughts and Lessons

1) This powerful work is not about witchcraft or the supernatural; instead, it demonstrates that true evil lies in what humans do to one another.

2) There is a good reason for separation of church and state. It is said that the Salem Witch trials laid the foundation for this vital tenet of our American government and buried Puritan theocracy.

3) Beware mob rule and groupthink. No matter how noble the cause they champion, the proverbial “mob” has several common features – paranoia, propensity to violence, and eager to strip away rights from their fellow citizens. Lois falls victim to this “mob,” as have many other poor souls throughout history. Individuals with differing opinions should be respected; the alternative is frightening.

4) Any entity which begins restricting basic rights – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, etc. – must be regarded with utmost alarm. Lois the Witch reveals what happens when these basic safeguards to society are removed.

5) Religion without love is worthless and dangerous. As a Christian myself, I’m reminded of James 2: 14-17: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

6) Think before you speak or act. You find a frightening, reactionary world within the pages of Lois the Witch, where people swiftly accuse and respond with violence. Instead of reacting with rage to a given provocation, go to a quiet place. Read. Meditate. Pray. Do not act immediately, as you might regret your actions, like the accusers of the Salem “witches” eventually did.

7) Remember that every human being is someone’s child. A dear friend gave me this advice years ago, and it has remained with me. Lois’s memories of her idyllic childhood, which return quickly once she is accused, constitute perhaps the most poignant part of the novel. She yearns for an innocent time, when she was dearly loved and not viewed with suspicion and hatred. Like the Native Americans, she is an outsider, which is her greatest sin in the eyes of the Puritans.

If you would like to read Lois the Witchwhich I highly, highly recommend! – you can purchase it on Amazon as part of Elizabeth Gaskell’s story collection, Gothic Tales (link below).

If you are interested in the later colonial period as well, you might check out my Revolutionary War novel, Cadence to Glory.

What to Buy for a New Baby (Part 2)


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

If you missed Part 1 of this post, please follow the link here.

Otherwise, without further ado, let’s begin Part 2 of “What to Buy for a New Baby”!

6) Activity Mat

Tummy time is essential to newborn development – and, of course, must always be closely supervised. A proper activity mat helps further this particular exercise. We loved this rainforest activity mat from Fisher Price; it includes music, hanging stuffed animals, as well as a large crinkled leaf for sensory development. You’ll be amazed how your newborn will learn to bat the hanging animals and respond to the new sounds when lying on his or her back on the activity mat. Our babies loved this!

7) Large Play Pen

As your child grows in the first year, containment will be key, especially as he or she becomes more active. A large playpen, large enough to give them room to crawl and move but large enough to contain them, is essential, especially if you need to do chores (keeping a close eye on them all the while, of course!). We used this large deluxe play pen from Fortella. It is foldable and transportable as well!

8) Bouncer/Jumper

Likewise, a bouncer or jumper serves a dual purpose, both for containment and to help strengthen the legs in preparation for walking. Our favorites are from Baby Einstein. The nice thing about this one is that it has numerous toys on the tabletop of the bouncer to entertain the baby and foster development.

9) Walker

Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but it’s a no-brainer for a reason. A good walker, such as this one from Baby Einstein, helps cultivate balance and strengthen the legs during early walking. Like the bouncer above, this walker contains numerous toys on the tabletop of the walker to keep the child entertained.

10) First Year Photo Frame

This is a sentimental purchase, but still essential in my mind! This wonderful first year photo frame, which we completed for both our boys, documents the child’s growth month by month with a picture from each month. It is a wonderful keepsake for years to come, a poignant reminder of how fast they grew during that critical first year!

Honorable Mentions

a) Mama Cheetah Swaddles

Our second child had great difficulty going to sleep without a swaddle during the newborn phase (our first did not). Our pediatrician recommended these Mama Cheetah Swaddles. They worked very well. The velcro is strong and was able to keep our baby from moving his arms, thus easing him into a restful sleep. He was only able to sleep 3 hours a night total; after we began using these swaddles, he slept a full 7 hours the first night.

b) Drying Rack

This drying rack was tremendously helpful. Although it is tempting to air dry your pump parts and bottle accessories on a simple paper towel, I’d highly recommend a drying rack such as this. It helps keeps these items cleaner and separated from your kitchen appliances and items.

c) Newborn Photo Session

Although some would argue this is not an essential item, I would beg to differ. We purchased a newborn photo session with our first son; we did not with our second (he was born during the COVID delta wave, and we were isolating). The photos of our firstborn, taken by a professional photographer, were priceless. It is so difficult to obtain good pictures of older babies and toddlers since they are so active. The sweetness and stillness of the newborn photos cannot be overestimated, and, since they are often asleep, the photographer can place them into an assortment of adorable poses. You will treasure these photos for years to come — I would highly recommend!


What to Buy for a New Baby (Part 1)

Pumping at Work Tips (How-To Guide Plus Must-Haves!)

Best Portable Breast Pump Review (with 10% Special Discount Code!)

What to Buy for a New Baby (Part 1)


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

In the months leading up to the birth of a new baby, excitement builds steadily. However, as delivery approaches, it is easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed as well! You’ve heard countless recommendations as to what baby will need, particularly in the first year. You may also be uncertain as to what you’ll actually need.

If you are expecting and are currently building your registry, or even if you are simply wondering what to purchase for someone else’s new baby, then this post is for you!

We’ll break this into 2 parts, detailing what I consider to be the 10 most essential gifts for a new baby, including some honorable mentions as well. I’ll cover the first 5 today.

1) Breastfeeding Pillow

One of the most challenging – but rewarding – parts of motherhood is nursing (if you are able to do so). It is difficult at first to figure out proper position, especially with a newborn who must be handled with the greatest care. One of the most crucial purchases is a breastfeeding pillow. Although a regular pillow will technically do, I found that it did not provide the best support for a delicate newborn. This breastfeeding pillow from My Brest Friend (below) attaches to your waist and provides a perfectly sized shelf upon which you can hold the newborn while he or she is nursing.

2) Pack ‘N Play

This multipurpose product can serve as a bassinet, changing table, play pen, and a bed. The bassinet section and the changing table can be used during the first 2 months in the upper part of the Pack ‘N Play. After the first two months, the upper part of the Pack ‘N Play can be removed, and it converts into a play pen for the later months. The lower part of the Pack ‘N Play also doubles as a bed for an older baby. The best part is that this product folds up easily and is transportable. A truly versatile purchase!

3) Sterilizer and Dryer

Whether sterilizing breast pump parts or bottles, this product was a Godsend for us. You simply pour a small amount of water into the base of the sterilizer, load the pump parts or the bottles onto the rack, place the cover, and press start. Although it has 3 settings (“dry”, “sterilize”, and “dry + sterilize”), we usually used the “dry + sterilize” function. It really is a large sterilizer, so it was amazing how many accessories you could fit onto this device.

4) Owlet Baby Monitor

Our second son spent 48 hours in the NICU following delivery, and naturally we were quite anxious bringing him home for the first time. The Owlet device helped reassure us. This device involves attaching a sock to your baby, and it will monitor heart rate and oxygen saturation for you. You download an app as part of the monitoring system, as well as a charging base. If the monitor goes off in the middle of the night, you can look at the app and see what your baby’s heart rate and oxygen saturation are at any given moment. Although there are some false alarms with this device, we were well able to overlook them for the peace of mind that it provides.

5) Baby Buddha Breast Pump

During my first pregnancy, I used the standard Spectra breast pump that was covered by insurance; I obtained decent milk output but was never able to form a large freezer stash. For my second pregnancy, I purchased the Baby Buddha breast pump. Total game-changer! In my opinion, this is the best portable breast pump. Not only did it double my milk output (I was able to fill 2 freezers full of breast milk!), but it was lightweight, totally portable, and enabled completely hands-free pumping. The pump, which has to be charged like an iPhone, is actually the size of an iPhone and can hang around your neck while you chase a toddler, fold clothes, etc. Although this pump is listed at $249.99 on the website, it is often on sale for $189.99. You can get a 10% discount when purchasing this pump at the website with this code – MAKEUPDIVA10. Please read my full review here.

Please stay tuned for Part 2!


Pumping at Work Tips (How-To Guide Plus Must-Haves!)

Best Portable Breast Pump Review (with 10% Special Discount Code!)

5 Colourpop Stone Cold Fox Looks


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

If you love cool eyeshadow looks, you will love the Stone Cold Fox palette from Colourpop!

I’m working on a detailed review with swatches, but, in the meantime, I’ve created 5 looks that you can recreate with this palette!

See below:

Look #1

Lid – “Babydoll”

Crease – “Ghost Town”

Deep Crease – “Rumor Mill”

Lash Line – “Rock Bottom”

Brown Bone + Inner Corner – “Dreamful”

Look #2

Lid – “Gneiss Guy”

Crease – “Gravity Hill”

Deep Crease + Lash Line – “Rock Bottom”

Brow Bone + Inner Corner – “So Fine”

Look #3

Inner Corner + Brow Bone – “Lux”

Outer Lid – “Obsidian”

Crease – “Quarry”

Deep Crease – “Drama Mama” + “Rock Bottom”

Look #4

Center of Lid – “Magnetic Moon”

Inner + Outer Lid – “Fickle Fate”

Crease – “Stranger”

Inner Corner + Brow Bone – “So Fine”

Deep Crease – “Rock Bottom”

Look #5

Center of Lid – “Mystery”

Outer + Inner Lid – “Truffles”

Crease – “Stone Age”

Deep Crease – “Obsidian”

Until next time! Full review and swatches coming soon!

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow (Swatches and Review)


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

Today I’d like to review Charlotte Tilbury’s “Eyes to Mesmerize” cream eyeshadow (complete with swatches!).

These cream eyeshadows are housed in the typical sleek Charlotte Tilbury packaging, which screams elegance, sophistication, and Hollywood glamour.

The consistency is quite creamy and gel-like. I’ve tried applying this with a brush and have come to the conclusion that it’s best applied with the fingers. Patting it onto the lid, adding more to heighten the intensity, and then rubbing it into the crease works best.

It is difficult to explain, but these shadows, when applied as described above, create the illusion of a complex eye look, which involves several different shadows and took a long time to create. It is also a perfect eyeshadow for quick, on-the-go looks.

I’ve featured swatches below:

I’ll discuss each shade individually below, along with eye swatches!

1) “Oyster Pearl”

This shade, previously called “Marie Antoinette,” is a perfect blend of taupe, gold, and bronze. It is universally flattering, but is particularly appealing on blue eyes.

2) Pillow Talk

As part of Charlotte’s iconic “Pillow Talk” line, this shade is a dusty mauve with a sheen, and is actually very similar to the lipstick color of the same name. Gorgeous on all eye colors.

3) Rose Gold

“Rose Gold” is an airy, more cheerful cousin to intense “Pillow Talk.” It’s the same shade as a penny. Flattering to all eye colors.

4) Sunset Rose

If “Pillow Talk” and “Rose Gold” had a baby, “Sunset Rose” would be it. This combines the femininity of “Rose Gold” and the passion of “Pillow Talk” – perfect for the office or a date night.


Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Look

How to Get over a Breakup


NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I love. Please read my full disclosure here for more information.

We’ve all been there.

Whether the breakup came out of nowhere or we saw it coming a mile away, whether we initiated the breakup or not, breakups still inflict tremendous pain and suffering.

And yet, even though this is one of life’s darkest moments, it is also one of life’s greatest opportunities for growth.

In this article, I’m going to explain how to get over a breakup – the right way!

Here we go…

1) Do not contact.

This is the most difficult – and yet the most important – rule for breakup recovery!

There are several reasons for this.

First of all, it allows you both to contemplate the causes for the breakup. Sometimes, you were not given a reason by the other person, and this is the most heart-wrenching situation of all. Nevertheless, it is good to ponder and to examine your own behavior.

Second of all, it gives you both a chance to miss each other and see if the relationship has any potential for reconciliation. It gives the initiator of the breakup a chance to contemplate the decision – and gives room for regret.

Third of all, it preserves your dignity. The most pathetic thing in the world is begging someone else to love you and give you attention. You deserve more than that!

The next question that arises is – when should I break no-contact? If you were not the initiator of the breakup, it is critical that you are not the one to break no-contact. Let the other person approach you.

Let me repeat that.

If you were not the initiator of the breakup, it is critical that you are not the one to break no-contact.

As agonizing as it is to stare at your iPhone hour after hour, day after day, hoping for a text from the other person, it is vital that you do not break this cardinal rule of breakup recovery.

I’d recommend a great book about this topic, Ignore the Guy, Get the Guy: The Art of No Contact, by Leslie Braswell and Brittany Goodwin (see below). This book is short but packed with great tidbits and breakup encouragement.

2) Exercise

Exercise is a terrific outlet for stress and will help you get over the breakup. Not only does it allow you to work out much of the tension stored in your body (especially in your muscles), but it also triggers the release of endorphins – our “feel good” hormones.

It also helps you get in shape in order to attract your next relationship, which may come along sooner than you think!

3) Delete the other person from your social media.

This rule is controversial.

You may say, “But this is my only way to keep tabs on this person, especially if I’m not contacting him or her!”

It is still very important to de-friend and unfollow the person on social media.


First of all, you will constantly be tempted to check his or her Facebook or Instagram page. This makes no-contact much more difficult.

Second of all, it also makes moving on impossible. You are not in the correct frame of mind to attract another (likely better!) partner if your mind is filled with thoughts of the other person. You need to clear this person out of your mind, and constantly seeing his or her posts on social media will sabotage those efforts.

Third of all, if you want the other person back, you need to keep him or her guessing about what you are up to. Mystery is a powerful attractant.

Fourth, the last thing you need right now is to see pictures of the other person with a new partner filling up your newsfeed. Talk about heartbreak!

4) Socialize.

I’m asking you to do quite a lot of difficult things!

Socializing is the last thing you want to do after a difficult breakup.

Yet, it is one of the most important to help you get over the breakup!

Even if you don’t feel like doing this, it is vitally important that you “put yourself back out there.” Force yourself. DO IT AFRAID.

Even if you do not meet a new love interest immediately, you will in time – and will also quickly make new friends, which will take your mind off unpleasant things.

5) Date again ASAP.

This one is also controversial!

But bear with me…

Many, many people have met the love of their life shortly after a brutal breakup. (I’m one of them!)

If you have examined your own behavior prior to the breakup, and do not feel you need to work on any major issues in your own life (such as alcoholism, for instance), please do NOT turn down a date with a new person just because you are mourning the loss of the old relationship.

You have to look out for yourself and remember that the initiator of the breakup is probably dating again too. Why should you stay at home eating ice cream and crying over them – when they are probably out having a grand time with someone else?

Also, if you have any aspirations to re-attract the initiator of the breakup, you must appear in demand. There’s a wonderful book about dating – The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider – which I’d wholeheartedly recommend. It’s a classic! This book (link below) will also show you how to date properly next time, so as to better protect yourself in the next relationship.

6) Take a Big Trip if you can.

You must enjoy life during this difficult time.

Taking a big trip is a fabulous idea!

Go with a friend if you must.

Planning the trip will give you something fun into which you can invest your energies. It will keep your mind off the other person. The cherry on top is that you will be making memories to last a lifetime!

Taking big, once-in-a-lifetime trips is not something you can do very easily once you are married, so you need to do this while you are single. Trust me on this one!

7) Invest in self care.

Now is the time to get that massage, pedicure, etc. you have always wanted. Go shopping at your favorite store. Go to that football game. A breakup, even if it is amicable on both sides, is traumatic; now is the time to pamper yourself. The goal is to feel good. This places you in the correct frame of mind to move forward from the relationship and get over the breakup.

8) Start a new project.

The goal here is to begin a project that you are passionate about – something that you have been wanting to start for a long time but have been putting off for whatever reason.

Start a blog, write a book, start your own business.

These types of projects will give you something positive on which to focus your energies and emotions. They are also things that are much harder to do (although not impossible) if you are dating or married.


Many people follow the rules above after a breakup and eventually get back together with the person who broke up with them or with whom they broke up.

These rules give you both some space. But the most important thing is – you first have to let the other person go. If they come back to you, then you know it was meant to be.

If not – there is always someone better suited for you out there.