PRE-ORDER: The Strength of Our Anchors Featuring Jackie MacDougall

Photo credit: Renee Bowen Photography

So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.

Helen Keller

The Strength of Our Anchors is a collection of personal stories told by Dawn M Bornheimer, Erin Antroinen, Jackie MacDougall, Emily Clark, Kim LaMontagne, Leia Lewis, Natasha Novak, Anna Owusu, Kathy Clark, and Tina Paulus-Krause. Their stories are woven with the challenges they’ve overcome, lessons learned, tools acquired, and the perspective that comes as a result of their willingness to reflect.


Photo credit: Renee Bowen Photography

In the chapter entitled “It’s Been a Wonderful Life,” Jackie shares her unique journey through grief and gratitude and how the two have collectively shaped her entire life.

Life can kick us around once in awhile. It’s crazy to believe we can live without adversity. But it’s that adversity that has actually brought me to my own purpose, passion and peace. I have faced the dragon and I’m still standing. I no longer look at my personal challenges with that “why me?” attitude, but see them all as an opportunity to become more of the person I’m meant to be — to choose gratitude above all else.

Jackie MacDougall

Pre-Order TODAY!

ABOUT JACKIE: Born and raised in Boston, Jackie MacDougall packed everything she owned (with $700 bucks to her name) and hit the road for Los Angeles. Since then, she’s worked for over two decades in TV and digital marketing, creating content for women with some of the most recognizable and innovative names in entertainment like Queen Latifah, Harry Connick Jr., Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen and Sharon Osbourne.While her passion for all things entertainment brought her to LA, it’s what she’s experienced personally and professionally that brought her true purpose. Now instead of just creating content for others to market to women, the award winning blogger and community builder taps into her own personal insight and voice to connect with women — online and in person — helping them find their own distinct voices and use that voice in a way that’s authentic and effective. 

Jackie, the founder of Forty Thrive and host of the Forty Thrive podcast, lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and three kids. 

The Best Water Bottles to Start the School Year

The Best Water Bottles to Start the School Year

Living in California where we send the kids back to school in temps up to 100 degrees, one thing the kids cannot do without is a quality water bottle. We’ve probably been through dozens of water bottles over the years, either having to throw them out for being ineffective in keeping anything cold for more than a few minutes, or losing them somewhere on the bus, playground or a number of locations in between (seriously, losing water bottles is my kids’ super power and YES, I label them).

I recently asked my FB friends which quality water bottles they’d recommend and I received no shortage of answers. So to save you time, money and a drawer full of ineffective bottles taking up space, I’ve compiled a list of quality water bottles at pretty much any budget. Note: there are some links on this post that can be defined as “affiliate links”. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something through the links provided. However, that has absolutely no bearing on the choices below.



Reduce Cold-1 Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($29.89 for two)

My family has personally used these bottles and always amazed at how long they keep things cold. However, we’ve broken each and every lid to these bottles so I recently purchased new lids at the Reduce website instead of buying brand new bottles. (I’ll keep you posted how long we go without breaking the lid this school year.)


Green Canteen Double Wall Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle ($12.99)

This affordable choice comes with a straw for easy drinking. Lori says: “Keeps everything super cold all day. I use one too.”



Sub Zero (3 Pack) Double Wall Stainless Steel Vacuum Sealed Sports Bottles with Rubberized Coating (33.30 for the trio)

A three-pack at this price, you’d think they might not keep it cool, but Laura says: “We use these water bottles and we love them, they keep drink a cold as well as hot!”




Contigo AUTOSPOUT Straw Ashland Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle, 20 oz, Scuba (SALE $14.96)

Mindi and Laura give a big thumbs up to this choice.





Bubba Leak-Proof Double-Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Flo Water Bottle ($24.00 and up)

Tiffni says: “Bubba Keg is a great bottle that doesn’t sweat. The snap lid tends to break (cuz kids constantly drop it) but they replace it when u send them a pic.”



Kleen Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Kleen Coat, Single Wall and Leak Resistant Sport Cap ($18.95 and up)*

No leaks and easy to drink, although if you’re in super hot temps, it may not keep things ice cold after a couple of hours.



LifeFactory BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Flip Cap and Silicone Sleeve ($24.00)*

This one comes highly recommended by environmental advocate Tamara Rubin, but not that the bottle itself is glass so might not be the best choice for that backpack getting knocked around.



$30 AND UP

Planet Box Booster Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Water Bottle (SALE $29.95) 

Stacy says: “Planet box makes excellent lunch boxes and water bottles. Ours has lasted three years so far.”



s'well water bottle

S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($31.00)

Jean and Alecia swear by S’well. Alecia says, “My kids have them and they fit in the pockets of their backpacks. I love that the mouthpiece is on the smaller side but big enough for ice cubes.”



Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Insulated Water Bottle ($29.95 and up)*

Hands down, more people recommended the Hydro Flask more than any other bottle. Hilary and Megan  love it. Paula says: “Doesn’t sweat. Keeps water cold all day. Has a selection of different lid types to choose from. This lid does have a plastic straw inside but it comes with a few straws so you can swap for a new straw as needed. That said, my daughter only drinks ice water in hers and she washes the bottle every evening.” Janice suggests purchasing at LL Bean for added personalization.

* Means lead tested and approved by environmental activist Tamara Rubin. For her list of tested water bottles and recommendations, visit



My Big Leap into the DIY World

My Big Leap into the DIY World

If you asked me what my super power is, I’d have to say problem solving. Whether it’s in my professional or personal life, I absolutely live for listening to a dilemma, finding the key facts and flipping the situation on its head like a boss. It’s why a colleague of mine declared me PS Jackie, a nickname I have enjoyed for over a decade. I love fixing things and helping people solve issues when they can’t see the solution themselves. But the problem you’ll read about below was something of a different kind.

PROBLEM: So we moved into our current house a little over two years ago. We loved our dining room furniture but it didn’t really fit the space so we sold it and the room has sat empty for at least the past few months. I personally love to entertain so not having a functional dining room makes me crazy. I have these romantic visions of a long solid wood dining room table that would seat 8 — even up to 12 with a leaf or two. Along with the long table, I wanted an oversized china cabinet, one that would fit all of our nicer dishes, glassware, etc.

So here’s the thing. I just don’t think they make furniture as well as they used to. All of the dining room furniture either feels like fake wood, or there’s not enough storage space, or it looks tiny in our room with high ceilings. It’s been discouraging to say the least. That’s when we (see: convinced my husband that is was “we”) decided we would look for a solid piece that we could makeover. I was obsessed with all of the results I was seeing on Pinterest of those using chalk paint and wax to turn an old dated piece into a conversation starter.

So I began looking on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anywhere else I could find pre-owned pieces that fit our idea.

SOLUTION: And there it was. I found this Drexel Heritage china cabinet just a couple of miles away from us. We negotiated it down to $80 and borrowed a friend’s truck to pick it up. Holy smokes, was it heavy! (So I hear, anyway. I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to drive my hubby to urgent care or pay any doctor co-pays for the guys who helped us move it on either end.)

china cabinet chalk paint before

The mother of all china cabinets before we bought it.

We got it home and that’s when the fun began. We researched and researched and researched chalk paint options and settled on Annie Sloan. But when we decided to go pick some up, we realized that it’s only sold at select retailers and the one by us is closed on Sundays. Argh! Being the instant gratification kind of girl I am, that wasn’t going to work. I wanted to get started! So we decided to go in a different direction and trekked down to our local Lowe’s for Valspar Chalky Finish paint. Plus, Valspar saved us a couple of dollars per can so win/win, right?

There didn’t seem to be as many color options going the Valspar route but we ended up choose Opera Gown for the exterior and Her Dainties for the interior and we absolutely love it.

Valspar Chalky Finish Paint

But the biggest decision throughout this project was whether to just go with a sealing wax over the chalky paint or to take that extra step and add antiquing wax too. I had seen some projects that used the antiquing wax and honestly, it made some of the pieces look old and dirty. But others I saw, the antiquing wax was the very thing that turned a nice piece into a downright gorgeous piece.

We decided to hold off on the decision to antique or not to antique until after we painted, sealed and sat with it for a few days. We didn’t want to jump into it and then regret it, which would force us to paint the whole piece all over again.

A few days later, we knew we wanted to try it. We brushed on the antiquing wax with a small brush, wiping it off as we went along. It created dimension and depth in the corners and throughout the piece, providing character and making the look feel more intentional. In fact, it’s the antiquing wax that turned the cabinet I really liked into a piece I absolutely LOVE.

Valspar sealing wax and antiquing wax

So… without further ado, I present to you our new china cabinet. Voila!

China Cabinet Chalk Paint After

I am so happy with the outcome of this project! This cabinet will be in our family for years to come and I love that my husband and I (and our daughter at times) created it together, even when at times we felt like dragging it to the curb and leaving it.

I learned so much about the process and happy to share if it helps the next person rock their DIY project.

• The reason to choose chalk paint is to avoid all of the sanding and prepping of the wood. No priming, just paint! That being said, the blue covered beautifully but the white… that took quite a few coats and could probably still use another. I’m not saying to not use a light color, just be prepared. We used twice as much paint for the inside of the cabinet than we did for the outside.

• Be patient. As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of instant gratification. Waiting or taking my time isn’t exactly my strongest quality. But a project of this size requires a whole lot of patience. Allowing the paint to dry completely before waxing is obviously important. And then you’ve got to wait for the sealing wax to dry before starting on the antiquing. In total, between cleaning top to bottom, two coats of paint on the inside, at least three on the inside, plus touch ups, sealing and antiquing (never mind two working parents and three kids), it took us a few weeks to get it all done. But it was totally worth it!

• Paint the inside first. I won’t go into it (sorry, honey) but save yourself some time and stress. I am actually considering re-doing the inside with adhesive wall paper or something similar to give it a little personality and depth. We’ll see!

• When it comes to hardware, measure, measure, measure. The holes already in the piece were pretty specific and didn’t fit with most of the hardware out there for sale. We were limited on selection due to the sizing. If you’re handy, you can always create new holes for hardware but a piece this old doesn’t match the standard sizing.

I hope you enjoyed our DIY project. I’m happy to help answer any questions – just leave them in the comments.

Got a problem or dilemma you want me to help fix? You might just get free advice and a feature on the blog! Comment below.