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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013! Health update, life update, & December 2013 Birchbox!

2013 is coming to a close & what Hell this year has been.  I rang in, and am now leaving it with a foul taste in my mouth.  From jumping from one endocrinologist to another, multiple doctors & health problems of my own, having surgery to remove my thyroid, not being paid since the end of October, having a rough time getting multiple doctors to send off paperwork to each other & insurance companies, to being in a scary car accident on Thanksgiving.  Then on the 19th... my last living grandfather passed away early in the morning... I'm both sad & numb.

~

As far as my health goes, I am already seeing a slight improvement with the Armour Thyroid I have been put on.  I lost around 10lbs, I'm not as tired anymore (though there are days where I still feel beat up & need my 3 hour nap in the middle of it), I'm thinking a little more clear (though still get flustered easily), & the brush burn type pain is gone but I still have aches. 

Problems I am still having are that I'm still absolutely freezing cold.  I have the heat turned up to 73 in my home & my feet & hands feel like they are getting frost bitten, and at times I still get that sensation someone is applying ice to my arms.  My endocrinologist started me on an additional T3 medication, Cytomel, due to this, & since I started it, I feel itchy all the time & my skin seems more dry.  His response to every side effect is that is has nothing to do with the medication or my condition.  All my other doctors, and people I talk to who are going through what I am, say it does have to do with my condition & so I feel like I'm in a loop of trying to find someone who will help me!  When I last saw him I asked him if it was safe to add the T3 & if he checked my Free T3 / Reverse T3.  He said he did but when I got the lab test, it was only for TSH.  So he lied to me.  I also started randomly getting hot flashes again & my periods are all over the place (double, long & nasty, or short but always annoying).  My anxiety is still a mess, still nauseous a lot, & I'm still having on/off butt problems.  I'm also losing more hair than normal.  Not like handfuls or chunks of hair, but enough that it's noticeable.

I'm working with my job & doctors on getting back to work & will probably be released near the end of January,  They want to try a new anti-anxiety medication (I feel like I've tried every single one before) & so I was prescribed Lexapro.  Every daily medication like this I have tried gives me the same, crappy side effects & I always feel worse on them.

~

On the 21st I went to Rochester for Colleen's annual Festivus party.  The Betties exchange their holiday gifts, everyone gets "Bad Santa" gifts, we eat good food, get our drink on (though the ginger ale seemed to be the big hit this year), catch up on gossip & life stories, and have a lot of laughs.  It dissipated a bit early this year as there had been warnings all week of an ice storm.

Just one of many Festivus miracles!

Lucky we did leave when we had because by the time we reached home you could see how the ice was collecting on branches & power lines.  Then we had to deal with road closures & flooding the rest of the week.  The flooding didn't directly impact us, but we did have to take different routes to/from my family's home for the holidays due to road closures.  



Before Christmas, my mom and I have a few traditions.  One is going to see The Nutcracker ballet, but that always seems to be up in the air depending on weather.  We did get to go with my entire family this year & I love traditional ballet, especially when the BPO is doing the music live!  It was a few days after the car accident so I was a bit uncomfortable in my seat at times.  Also some lady behind me was coughing without covering her mouth.  Sure enough the next day I started a cough then, two days later, it had turned into a horrible head cold.  High temp close to a fever, coughing, snotty, chills & sweating, lost my voice.  I felt almost as bad as I did when I got that horrible illness right before I was diagnosed with Graves'.  Still recovering from that a month later.

The other tradition is making cookies.  Sometimes we make a few different kinds but this year we stuck to sugar cookies.  We made a few batches & in our 1st batch, we accidentally put on the frosting before we baked them.  It ended up bubbling up and looked a bit odd when we took them out.  So for our 2nd batch (pictured below) we put just the sprinkles & gel on before baking, baked, THEN put the frosting on.  Much better!


Then on Christmas Eve, my big Polish family always get together at my Aunt & Uncle's home to celebrate the holidays.  A bit upset she didn't make the pierogi this year (usually with cheese or mushrooms) but they do take a long time to make & she has had so much other stuff to do.  It's always nice to see everyone & share stories, good or bad.  I wish we would do things like this more often.

On Christmas day we went to my parent's, had breakfast of french toast, and exchanged gifts while watching A Christmas Story.  Chris & I went home for a break in between.  We then returned for a ham dinner, sparkling grape juice (that I'm now addicted to), and watched Elf.

Then this weekend, Chris' mother & sister came up from the DC area to visit.  We had dinner at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery then off to the Sabres game we went where we watched them beat the Capitals in a shootout.  By the way, we were all rooting for the Sabres!

Here's a few pics & then onto my Birchbox review!


~

December 2013 Birchbox Overview:



  • Protect & Shampoo / Condition by Beauty ProtectorAbout the product: I'm reviewing them together, since they work together.  Both have pearl powder in it, which contains conchiolin, that is claimed to act like keratin.  It's written on the bottles that both are vegan (though some vegans would not agree with that due to the pearl powder, also the honey that's in it), with claims of being moisture reviving, providing UV protection, are color safe, smooths hair, enhances volume, seals cuticles, & adds shine.  What I thought: Loved the scent as it reminded me of a sugar cookie.  Like a cross between Aquolina's Pink Sugar & Fresh's Sugar Lemon scents, though not as sugary, sweet, or lemony as the scent it left on my hair was very faint.  Using both the products together, just a quarter sized amount each time it lathered nicely.  I got great shine, bounce, conditioning, and volume though the volume didn't seem to last a full 24 hours.  I did use the shampoo on its own one day & it was a nightmare on my short, bleached hair as it left it extremely dry & matted.  Together though, they are fantastic!  I'd be open to buying these together, NOT separately. 
  • S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting™ Polisher by Grand Central BeautyAbout the product: This product says it will exfoliate, tone, hydrate, & peel, remove dead skin, unclog pores, reduce redness, smooth your skin & give you anti-aging benefits.  It's a waterless formula with natural botanicals including watermelon, orange and lemon extracts.  Instructions advised to use up to 3x a week after cleansing but before applying any masks or moisturizer.  Apply a dime sized amount, massage into skin for 30 seconds, then you can either leave the product on or rinse it off.  What I thought: It actually has a nice, light floral scent to it and the consistency was like hand sanitizer, wet but gel-like.  When applying it dries very quickly so I could only massage it for about 10 seconds before it felt like I was just rubbing my dry face.  When dried, it left little, clear beads on my face so, instead of washing the product off, I decided to brush the beads off and then go about my normal routine by applying my moisturizer.  If I didn't use a moisturizer after applying, my face would feel tight and very dry so I didn't get any hydrating benefits from this.  I'm sure the cold, winter weather isn't helping but after a few weeks of using this, I ended up with dry, flaky skin patches.  I'm going to put the rest away & re-visit using the product during the summer months.  I wouldn't buy this.
  • Harlem Lights Collection Nail Polish in Baldwin Blues by Color Club®About the product: Color Club® polishes are vegan and cruelty free, having never been tested on animals.  They advise to apply a base coat, 2 thin coats of their polish, then a top coat.  The color I got, is described as an indigo blue.  What I thought: If you get it right, you really could apply one coat of this as the thin coat I applied left pretty good coverage.  Some spots near the nail bed were thin & could have used a 2nd coat though.  I've had it on for a week and 1/2 now & the usual chips I get around the tops of my nails are no where to be found, nor do I see any cracks in the polish yet!  I'd also describe the color more of a flat, dark denim.  I'm not too keen on the color but it has great shine & lasting power!  Another thing I noticed was that the scent it gave off was no where as strong as some other polishes out there.  I'd buy this, but in a different color. 
 

  • Chocolate bar in Pop Corn Pop by Chuao ChocolatierAbout the product: Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) Chocolatier is a Venezuelan chocolatier based in the USA, pioneering in "fusion chocolate" with all natural ingredients.  The bar I got is described as mixing puffed whole grains, toasted corn chips, popping candy and a sprinkle of sea salt in creamy milk chocolate.  What I thought: Another fine sweet & salty treat that BB has provided me with!  It definitely reminded me of chocolate covered popcorn without those terrible hard kernel pieces.  The milk chocolate was creamy and divine with a little crunch.  The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the popping candy in it.  The pieces were very fine & I really only noticed them after most of the chocolate had dissolved.  So it's nothing like putting a whole package of Pop Rocks in your mouth (you know you did this as a kid!).  Upon eating it you kind of go through the thoughts like, "This is good!  What's that?  It's weird... but I want more!"  Even though I wasn't too keen on that part of it, I would still buy this bar again because it was just so interesting.  Check out their site too because they have so many other different products & flavors to choose from.  I would buy this!

Oh I also forgot though it's in the picture, I got some sticker that you're supposed to put on your phone to promote that they now have an iPhone app.  Well, I'm one of many who doesn't have an iPhone.  I just found that to be a waste.  Send me one when you get an app for my POS android.

~

I really hope & pray you all have a fantastic New Years!  If you are drinking, please STAY SAFE and get a cab!  That goes for any night out on the town!  My plans are still up in the air, though where ever I may end up, I'll probably be asleep on a couch before midnight.  I have a lot of new & interesting stuff to try out & write about, and a million things to do in general.

Happy bathing & wishing for a better 2014!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Birchbox & autoimmune disease Hell.


Overview of the Birchbox I got: 
 

FYI - I'm changing the links around a bit.  If you are not a member of Birchbox, you can sign up under the link provided at the top of the page by selecting the linked "Birchbox."  If you don't want to join & are interested in purchasing one of the products listed, or interested in learning more about the companies Birchbox had partnered with, the links provided will be to the product & the general page of the manufacture.  I figured, if you are reading this & a member of Birchbox you will know where to find the products. (Really, all you have to do is just search the name.)  I am also going to start listing the retail price for the products. 


  • Pomegranate Buffing Beads by Wei. Retails $20 for 20 packets.  For twenty packets at $1 each and using one every week, it should last you about 5 months.  Pretty good deal!  The product advises to use once a week (or as needed) and that all you need to do is add a quarter sized amount of your daily cleanser to it, massage into your face, rinse with warm water and then follow up with your daily serum and/or moisturizer.  It's a dry, unscented powder and I didn't think a quarter sized amount of my cleanser helped.  I dampened my face prior to applying, what I normally do when using my cleanser only, and it felt like I was rubbing sand into my face.  I immediately had to add water to it to get it to spread better and if I hadn't, it probably would have irritated my sensitive skin because of the friction.  Because it was so dry, even after mixing it up with my cleanser, it got all over the place and it was a b*tch to wash off completely.  After removing it, it did leave my skin very soft and bright.  If you don't mind the extra work that goes into using this product it's a good price to buy.  Personally, I have another product I use that I like so much better.  I wouldn't buy this.
  • Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask by WeiRetails $42 for 8 masks & 1 application brush.  When opened, it had a nice, light, herbal scent to it.  1/2 a packet covered my face just fine & since they come in individual use packets, it felt like I was wasting a lot.  I could have easily used 1 packet 2x so I wonder, if after using 1/2 a packet, if it would keep well for another week in the fridge to use again so the remaining product doesn't go to waste.  When applied it gave off a cooling feeling, but that very well may have been because of my hypothyroidism.  Per the instructions I left it on for 10 minutes then rinsed off.  It sticks pretty well to the skin when dried, so a soft cloth will help remove it easier instead of using your hands.  After removed, my skin felt soft and moisturized, but also had a slightly clammy and cool feel to it that lingered for a few hours.  Being that winter is a month away and the fact I'm always freezing now because of my hypothyroidism, the cooling feeling was not a plus for me.  Overall, I like the way my skin felt after using this product.  I'd be open to buying this in the future. 
  • Folle de Joie eau de parfum by JoieRetails $98 for 100 ml.  This is described as it opening with a blend of sweet citrus, a light woodsy floral, and hints of rich cognac.  Having mid notes of jasmine and rose with base notes of spicy and rich wood and leather.  I tested this over a few days & each time I loved the way it smelled immediately after applying it, but within a minute, all I could smell was ROSE.  Another perfume where a little bit will be very powerful & last a long time.  Don't douse yourself with it or you'll be one of those people who will walk by & gag others with its strong floral scent.  I don't know what else to say about it.  Couldn't wait to get it off of me!  I'll be giving the rest of this sample away.  I wouldn't buy it.  
  • Midnight Tango body butter by AYRESRetails $28 for 6.75oz.  The scent is described as a sensual combo of orange blossom & sweet vanilla.  The scent to me was very light, sweet, floral, a tad musky but comforting.  I usually don't care for musky scents but I LOVED the combination of scent in this!  The sample received was only 1oz but I was able to use it a good 5-6 times before it ran out.  Its consistency seemed slightly waxy, but it absorbed quickly, and it left my skin soft without any greasy feeling.  It's perfect for dry skin or if you get rough spots, like elbows, knees, heels.  With the winter months coming up, this would be a perfect addition to your moisturizing routine!  I would buy this!           
  • Black Magic mascara in black by Eyeko.  Retails $24 for 0.29oz.  I've never used mascara in tubes before and the 1st thing I noticed was it didn't cover the brush fully.  I really had to squeeze the mascara around in the tube in order to get it to cover the entire brush.  When applied, little black specks of the mascara fell on my cheek, & my eyelashes looked darker but still very thin.  The more I layered on, the more clumpy it got also.  It didn't lengthen, curl or make my lashes look any fuller.  It stays on pretty well though little black specks were found on my cheek throughout the day.  It also wasn't easy to get off, even with eye makeup remover, and it took a lot of rubbing to remove.  The full sized product even comes with an item that looks like a guitar pick to help prevent smudging when applied.  Seriously, why would you even need that?  There are SO many better (CHEAPER) mascaras out there.  I wouldn't buy this.
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzel in Smooth Mint by Fatty Sundays. Retails $6.95 ($7 through Birchbox & varied by product through Fatty Sundays) for 5 pretzel rods.  "What's so special about chocolate covered pretzels?" you ask.  "I can make those myself!" you say.  But I ask you, "Can and will you ever make them in the variety that Fatty Sundays does?" and I bet your response will be, "No."  This was a pleasant surprise in my Birchbox this month.  The mix of salty & sweet in this really hit the spot!  It definitely had a smooth peppermint flavor to it and the small sample had me wishing I had more to nosh on.  They have a ton of different kinds you can get ranging from banana, to toffee, to mocha!  I'd love to try some of their other flavors.  I would buy this.
~

So, this took me a good, I don't even know how long, amount of time to work up.  I think I started it when I posted my last post.

My hypothyroidism has me feeling like hell & I would rather write about things that make me happy than things that bring me down.

But here's a sum up of my health over the last 2 months:
  • I got costochondritis out of nowhere.  
  • My ANA (Antinuclear Antibodies) test came back positive which could suggest Lupus due to other tests I've had, but all the docs are still attributing my God awful feeling to the hypothyroidism for now.  They will be keeping an eye on that.
  • Pain, pain, pain.  Ranging from headaches to stabbing pain, to achy muscle and joint pain, to pain that feels like I have a brush burn & is insanely painful & sensitive to the touch or clothing brushing up against my skin.
  • The doc I saw when I had costochondritis said they thought I had fibromyalgia.  My rheumatoligist said they didn't think I had fibromyalgia & it was just my hypothyroidism.  My primary doc's PA said it was fibromyalgia but caused due to hypothyroidism.  My endocrinologist has no clue why I'm in pain though advised I may not be converting T3 properly & it could cause it.
  • My medication was changed to Armour Thyroid, 90mg, which is a non-synthetic T3 & T4 medication, as opposed to levothyroxine which is a synthetic T4 only medication.  I just recently started & am having good/bad days.  By good days it's only a few hours per day I feel ok, but still crappy.
  • Overall feeling so uncomfortable in my skin & pain.  Can't get comfortable sitting, laying down, standing.  Body feels worse after any type of exercise, even walking.
  • Still feeling nauseous all the time, thrown up a few times, been close to it many other times.
  • Shaking a lot & at certain times my heart feels like it's pounding.
  • Asthma is acting up worse than before.
  • I'll be talking about or thinking about something & in the middle of doing so I completely draw a blank.
  • Had diarrhea for 2 weeks straight.  Got better for a week, then had it again for another week.  Now I'm more constipated on the new medication, but that doesn't stop those hershey squirts from showing up now & then.
  • Got my period & it was God awful heavy & horror show.  A week after it ended I got it again.
  • My sleep schedule is a mess.  Fatigued all the time & taking naps when I can.  Waking up because of pain.
  • Overall feeling causing depression, anxiety.
  • Hair starting to fall out again but that's not so bad.  Could be worse.
  • Left eye is still watering like crazy & vision starting to go in/out again even with new glasses.
  • Still freezing cold all the time.
  • Irritated, annoyed and upset easily.
  • Got an itchy rash on my forehead a few times that I think I have determined the reaction is being caused by a L'Oréal shampoo & not my medication. 
  • Oh, & my neurologist said I looked like I felt like crap when I saw her.  I do admire her honesty.

~

We had our 1st real snow last night.  As expected, the weather people predicted it to be much worse than it actually was.  I saw predictions of 6-8" all the way up to 12"s.  I don't think we even made it to 6"s.  It was lovely to wake up to.
That's it for now.  Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and I hope everyone in the states has a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow!  Take care & happy bathing!

Monday, November 11, 2013

October Birchbox (a bit late)

Overview of the Birchbox I got: 


Pay no attention to my messy desk!
Yes, yes!  I know this is kind of late considering I just received my November box on Saturday.  I'm also just a few days late to get rewards points for reviewing the products through Birchbox, but is that going to stop me?  Nope.  I just like to make sure my products are all tested a good amount of time before posting about them and a few of them took a little more time than I realized.  That plus my health has been a mess & now I have an appointment with a rheumatologist later this week.  I'll eventually have a separate post with all the awful details.  I promise November's box will not take so long.  I also haven't been reviewing any of my Ipsy bags.  Sorry.  :(  I hope to get around to that eventually.  Onto my October box reviews.

  • Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturizing Serum by DDF.  This looks pretty cool in the bottle, like a strand of DNA.  It claims to hydrate and exfoliate skin while minimizing pores and wrinkles.  Their usage instructs that after cleansing in the morning, one pump of it should do the trick by applying it to your face and neck.  First off, it soaks into your skin rather quickly and one pump should get your entire face but you'll probably need another 1/2 pump in order to do your neck.  After applied it felt matted, like a primer, but also a tad sticky, and after a few days my face felt slightly bumpy.  The bumps it caused were annoying but it wasn't like it gave me a full on breakout as they weren't really noticeable.  I could just feel them.  I don't really have a problem with pores but it didn't seem to improve any of the areas I would have liked it to.  I wouldn't buy it.
  • Stainiac lip & cheek stain in Beauty Queen by theBalm.  I've never been a big fan of cheek & lip stains because all the ones I have tried in the past are usually just too bright, and a b*tch to blend without streaking if using it on the cheeks.  So when I got this I was expecting the same looking at its bright red tube.  It's a water & aloe based gel that helps keep it from drying too quickly and streaking.  You really have to layer it because if you put only one coat of it on you'll never notice it.  I didn't like the way it stained my lips.  It goes on very wet (& stays that way for a long time) and unless you use a lip primer, the color will seep more into any little creases your lips have than staining them evenly.  I don't even know if it would apply well over a lip primer or not because of its watery consistency.  I liked it better as a cheek stain on me though it stained my fingers more than it did my cheeks.  I'm extremely pale and 1 application you could hardly notice, 2 was ok, 3 was slightly too much for me.  It also felt sticky for a long while after blending into my skin.  I'll use up this sample but I wouldn't buy it.
  • Clarifying Treatment Mask by Karuna.  I was excited when I saw this because I've never used a paper mask before.  It advised on the packaging that shiso and ginger work to keep the skin clear, and honey soothes and provides oil-free hydration.  It boasts how it's a biodegradable wood pulp natural cloth though I doubt its individual packaging and plastic backing are biodegradable also.  When I took it out of its packing it felt extremely slimy and wet.  The scent of it to me was very strong of chamomile (the 4th ingredient).  I had a hard time unfolding it to place on my face and when I was carefully removing the backing to transfer it to my face it ripped between the nose and cheek.  I left it on for around 15 minutes as the package advised to give it 10-20.  When removed, it left a sopping wet film on my face.  As the package advised, I massaged the remaining product into my face, neck, and hands until most of it had seeped in.  In the end, this left my hands & face feeling very sticky and tight.  Like I had put on a mask, let it dry, then forgot to wash it off.  It also left my face extremely shiny.  I think I'm going to stick to my masks that I apply, let dry, and either peel or wash off.  I wouldn't buy this.     
  • Instant Healthy Hair Treatment by 12 Benefits.  I'm not going to list all the benefits this claims.  There are 12 (duh) listed on the bottle and plus, if you guess one, it's most likely on there.  It smells fantastic and you can use this on damp or dry hair.  I prefer using products like this on damp hair.  I can never seem to spritz evenly on my head so I spritz it into my hands and then work it into my hair.  It's very conditioning so I used it more when shampooing my hair without conditioner.  It left my hair manageable, soft, silky, smooth, smelling fantastic, and feeling healthy.  The only thing it didn't do for me that I wish it would have, was given me some volume.  I'd be open to buying this in the future. 
  • Hydration Lock lip balm by ChapStick.  This balm claims to give lips a fuller, smoother appearance with a lightweight feel.  It contains CoQ10 and claims it will give you 8 hours of moisture.  It also said vanilla crème on the packaging but I'm not sure if it's a scent or flavor because I really am not picking up on any vanilla in it at all.  There's an extremely light medicinal scent to it that I guess could pass for vanilla.  I didn't think it felt lightweight at all and actually seemed a bit heavier than other balms.  It didn't make my lips seem any fuller or smoother but it was moisturizing and helped soften my lips after a few days use.  The moisturizing only lasted 2-3 hours max, slightly longer than most balms I've used.  Still, no where close to its 8 hour claim.  It's a good balm for every day use and I think would be very helpful for a healthy lip upkeep, especially in the winter months.  I'd buy this.
I'm extremely exhausted now so I'll post this without reading it over 10x.  My OCD will make me do that later, after posting.  I had blood taken for testing today & I'm sure more will be taken after my next appointment with the rheumatologist later this week.  Much love to all the veterans on this day!  Until later... happy bathing!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

YC Mixology, sales & coupons, Halloween, & Aveeno product review.

I posted in the past how I just LOVE my Yankee Candle Triple Mixology votive holder (apparently they have the same thing in white but call it the "Relaxing Rituals" votive holder) though I haven't been using it much lately.  It was put on the back burner as I had a lot of jar candles taking up space.  So I've been trying to burn through the jars that have already been started to make some room.  Possibly for new candles.

Now you don't need to own those votive holders for mixing scents.  Though I do find them very convenient & they come highly recommended by me because I love mixing, there are other ways to do it.  You could just burn 2+ jar candles or different votive/tea lights in different holders.  Place them near each other to have the mix stronger, or even further away from each other for a slight mix of scent or different scent experiences depending on where you are in the room.

I actually had a triple votive holder I got from Party Lite a while back that I never used, though it has been out for decoration the entire time.  I decided I was going to use this for my next mix.  It being autumn, I went through my votive box looking for some autumn scents & came up with this mix:



Many people don't think of grapes as an autumn fruit but they are!  I think these were good choices considering this time of year most people go overboard on the pumpkin & spices.  Not that I don't like those scents.  I do!  I just like to be different.  I do think the Vineyard was a bit overpowering of the 3 so if I go this route again, I'm not sure what I'd swap it out with.

I'm sure you've noticed in the last few years YC has been putting out some... well... different & odd choices for candles.  Their MMM, Bacon, for example, was NOT one of my favorites.  The scent was more of a sweet bacon smell & I choked on it after getting a whiff.  The other week I got a new YC catalog & I just love how they have their pages that you can sniff!  So I'm flipping through & see a new, odd scent that they have come up with.  Turkey & Stuffing!  It actually smells REALLY good!  Going through the reviews with the bacon candle, it seemed either a hit or miss if you liked the scent or not.  For the Turkey & Stuffing candle, the reviews seem to point out a lack of strong scent to it, not that the scent is bad.  The catalog gave an amazing scent of roasted turkey with perfectly herbed stuffing!  Only problem is that it will give you a hankering for some turkey & stuffing (or tofurky if you prefer) so it may be disappointing when you don't have a turkey dinner to nosh on after burning this candle.

We did end up checking out the candle in the store & the reviews are spot on advising of the lack of a strong scent. (Too bad!)  Since I had a B2G2 large candles coupon we ended up getting the Cranberry Chutney for our home and 3 others as gifts.  If you want the deal online, just enter the code CANDLES at checkout.

FYI, tomorrow starts their Veteran's Day sale & they will have $1 tarts & samps.  Also, if you have a YC store in your area see if they are participating in the Holiday Open House on November 9th, 10am-4pm.  They will have giveaways every hour & food!

~

I'm really trying to get in the fall spirit but it has been hard.  We finally had a week where the weather was cooling down but last week we were in the mid 60ºs!  I had ladybugs swarming all over my building & even saved one inside my home from the cats.

On Halloween it rained and the wind picked up.  65º and rain is better than 40º & rain, at least for trick-or-treaters.  I remember trick-or-treating in the snow once.  A few inches of snow actually.  We never get any kids here.  :(

My Halloween consisted of carving pumpkins & listening to some Halloween rock music with Chris.  Then we put on the Sabres game to listen to.  Milton had his Oskar & Klaus tie on & was (what we call) "helping" Chris carve his pumpkin.  We set the carved pumpkins on the table on my back porch facing the glass door so we could see them & lit a candle in them.  Chris roasted the pumpkin seeds & then blended some of the pumpkin innards to use in yummy pumpkin cream cheese muffins he made a few days later.  We ate some of the roasted seeds & drank apple cider while watching the glow of the jack-o-lanterns.  It was a good night.



~

So one of my BFFs, Colleen, has now started a blog of her own called Let's Stick Together.  She's a go-to for craftiness & also has a love, like I, for fine soaps.  (She also introduced me to my new addiction, Trader Joe's Chicken Pot Pie Bites!) Check her out!

http://letssticktogetheronline.com/

~ 

While at Target the other week I found an Aveeno product I wanted to try.  Skin Relief Shower & Bath Oil.  There was only 1 left, I had a coupon, & it smelled of almonds!  Target currently has a promotion with most Aveeno products where if you buy 3 you get a $5 Target gift card.  It was tempting but I decided against it.  This one would be enough for now.

http://www.aveeno.com/product/aveeno-+skin+relief+shower+-+bath+oil+.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=fn
The product advises to shake well before use.  In the bath it's recommended to use 1-2 tablespoons to running water.  If used in the shower, after cleansing, apply to skin, rinse & pat dry. 

This product is EXTREMELY oily.  Luckily I have treads on the bottom of my tub, but even with those, exiting my tub I almost slipped.  This is one of the oiliest products I have ever used & you will still feel greased up after drying yourself off.  I would recommend this for winter use or you will feel very sticky in the summer.  In the bath I tried it with 2 tablespoons & it seemed like too much.  1 tablespoon, or even just 1 cap full (what I used the 2nd time), was more than enough for me.

I mentioned, in the bottle it smelled like almonds, but there is no almonds or almond oil in it.  The 1st ingredient is mineral oil, then oat kernel flour.  When you add it to the running water the scent changed to something not very attractive.  It was on odd, damp smell that it gave off.  The reaction in the water was also strange as the oat flour created this oily, frothy, white foam in patches here & there.

Overall, even with my dry skin, I felt kind of gross and sticky after using it in the bath & I'm one of those people who usually doesn't mind using oily products.  After my bath I wanted to take another shower to scrub myself clean of it.  Maybe it would wash off better, or feel better on my skin if I used it as directed in the shower instead of the bath?  I'll have to try that later.  But, for $6 a bottle it's not a bad find if you have extreme eczema, psoriasis, or scaly skin.  Personally, I wouldn't buy this again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

B&BW new Bubble Bath gets a HUGE THUMBS DOWN!

I got an e-mail the other day advising Bath & Body Works had $3 wallflower fragrance bulbs which was a pretty awesome deal & so I wanted to go get some.  That plus they just released a new signature collection guaranteeing the world's best fragrance & so if you purchased $10, with a coupon you could get 1 signature item for free.  I already wanted to go to Sephora for my free birthday gift, as I had 1 day or so left to get it, so I had my boyfriend cart me to the mall.

I was so excited to see that they are transitioning their wallflowers & candles to their winter scents already.  So after about 1/2 hour of sniffing all the new candles the wallflower bulbs were picked out.  My boyfriend bought those & used a 20% off coupon, making them even less than $3!  WOO!  Plus we used another coupon to get a free mini Snow Day candle!  For my coupon I got a small Cranberry Woods candle at $10 exactly & then, when looking for my free signature item I got SUPER EXCITED to see they came out with a Pink Chiffon bubble bath!  Love the scent & I think I already have everything else in that scent that they make, so the bubble bath it was for my free item!
I get home & decide I want to use it right away.  The 1st thing I notice is that the consistency is very runny.  It is also clear, not shimmery, opaque, and thick like their old bubble baths.  I dissolve it into the running water & it bubbles up, then almost immediately the bubbles start dissipating.  By the time the bath was full almost all the bubbles were dissolved.

I looked at the bottle again because I could have sworn I bought the shower gel instead of the bubble bath.  Nope.  I got the right product, or so the bottle says.  The scent is fine, doesn't seem any stronger or better than their old products.  So I'm really not understanding what they are advertising with these being so new or better.  Scent is the same, lingers the same, overall product is much, much WORSE!  And so what if the look of the bottle changed.

Just to make sure, the next night I pulled out an OLD bottle of their Carried Away bubble bath & used that.  Just as I thought.  It was thicker, it bubbled up thicker & LASTED THE WHOLE BATH!

So, here is your WARNING!  DO NOT BUY THE NEW BUBBLE BATHS FROM B&BW!  They retail $14 compared to their shower gels only at $12.50 and both are 10 oz.  You will be wasting your money when you can get the same bath experience by just tossing in a cap of the shower gel instead.  Seriously!!!  Why pay more for a product when it doesn't provide what it's supposed to & there's something else that costs less, smells the same, and will give you the same results?  I also noticed their priced had increased.  Shower gels went up by $1.50 & the bubble baths increased by $2.  I'm thinking this may have been within the last year though I'm not really sure.

I am so glad I got this for free otherwise I would have taken it back.  Whatever they did they really need to go back to how they made their old bubble baths.  I hope they do.

Now onto other things...

September is usually the month in Western NY where you start to see dramatic fluxes in temperatures and you start to anticipate the arrival of fall.  Then comes October, the temperature drops, we have cold rains, air that smells of burning fireplaces, occasionally snow (that doesn't stick), & just the perfect autumn weather.  This year we've had a few of those days that make you say, "I love this time of year!"  Oddly enough, with the leaves changing and falling, we were hitting temperatures in the 70's and even 80's.  So it feels like a never ending Indian Summer.  Even through the next week the highs are being predicted in the high 60's & low 70's.  What our average temperature should be for October are highs around 59º & lows around 43º.  I feel like I'm back in Los Angeles.

Now that I'm off the prednisone I'm still waiting for that day that I start feeling normal again.  All my doctors kept saying to me was that I'll probably start getting the results I'm (they're) looking for once I'm off of it.  It's been only a week & I still don't feel any different.  I kind of wish right off the bat, before & after the surgery, they would have told me that this recovery could take a long time.  Instead, everyone kept saying 6 to 8 weeks.  So 6 to 8 weeks was drilled into me & my expectations of this were high.  Upon talking with others who have had a thyroidectomy, some advised it shouldn't be long before I felt better, and others have been suffering the awful side effects of hypothyroidism for years.  I don't want to be one of those people.  Still trying to find my normal after years of suffering.  I've already been suffering for years being incorrectly diagnosed & treated.

I haven't really been having night sweats anymore.  Yay!  Except they have kind of become more random throughout the day.  Boo.  Still having a hell of a time getting a full night's sleep.  My patterns are all messed up.  I'm exhausted & can't seem to sleep more than a few hours at a time, though I'm sleeping all the time.  Since the day after my birthday I've felt awful.  In pain, tired, cold, hot, diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, sneezing.  I've pretty much been confined to my couch & this is the 1st time I've really sat at my computer desk for this long.  Though the couch & another nap are calling for me right now.  Also, randomly the skin on my fingertips, no where else, decided to peel.  I have no clue if this is associated in any way to my hypothyroidism, though it's not unheard of.  It doesn't hurt or anything, it's just annoying.

Looks worse than it actually is.
I'm almost wishing the temperatures would drop here so I know what to be expecting with my hypothyroidism & the cold.  I already have a hard enough time handling food in the freezer.  It feels like my fingers get instant frostbite when I touch frozen stuff, & no I do not attribute my peeling skin on my fingers to handling frozen food.  The other day I curled up under a blanket on the couch & just couldn't get warm.  I could have sworn the temp inside my home was in the low 50's & my furnace was broken so I got up to check the thermostat.  Heat on, inside temp & set to temp the same, 69º.  What the flip!?  Now, remember how I've complained before about how 71º was too cold for me.  Ugh.  I knock the temp up a degree & am able to get a few hours of sleep, wake up, then get another hour of sleep in.

I feel like crap.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My 2nd Birchbox Review & Randomness.


Overview of the Birchbox I got: 



I'm going to start off by just saying that I really dislike the ruffian manicure.  I think no matter which way you do it it's weird looking & there's no way you can make it look good.  Perfect example?  Look at the first picture here.  It looks like her cuticles are bleeding orange.  It looks like you screwed up painting your nails, the coat of polish shrunk, you have some weird complex & color showing underneath around your cuticles, or your nails are growing out diseased or with some off color after you painted them (depending which colors you are using).  I am hoping this trend doesn't last long.  I'm also not too keen on the half moon manicures but they don't look as weird to me. *end rant*
 
  • Nail lacquer in Fox Hunt by Ruffian.  Orange is the new black this season or so they say (whoever they are).  It's not my favorite color, especially on me, but this shimmery, bright, orange-ish red has me changing my mind.  ONE coat of this is all you really need & is pictured below.  The picture I took makes it a little bit brighter than it actually is but the links to the product show the actual color much better.  After about a week I had some normal chipping (being the crafty lady I am) around the tips of the nails and it was very minimal.  This was without using a topcoat also because I was just lazy the last time I painted my nails.  I have to say I am very impressed with this polish.  I'm open to buying it in the future.

  • Bon Genre Eau de Parfum by BCBGMAXAZRIA.  My boyfriend liked the way this smelled on me but there are days I like this and days I dislike it.  Birchbox described it to have top notes of lychee and red berries, middle notes of tiger lily and jasmine noir, and also notes of sandalwood with golden amber.  Other sites I have found also describe the fragrance as having bergamot, tuberose, cardamom, black pepper, patchouli, and black vanilla.  It reminds me of a much more floral version of Yves Saint Laurent's Baby Doll though the notes are completely different.  I feel like I am picking up more on the amber and tuberose though I do get a bit of the berries when I wear it.  It's very strong so a tiny spritz will last you the entire day.  Don't go heavy on it!  This just reminds me of too many other perfumes on the market & it's not my style.  I'll keep the sample & use it, but I wouldn't buy it in the future.
  •  Ultimate Youth Power Eye Serum by Racinne.  I have awful dark circles under my eyes & I've had them for years so I was a bit excited to get this.  Just a bit because I've tried almost everything to get rid of them & nothing has ever worked.  It claims to have plant stem cells, amino acids and all sorts of things to cure your dark circles, enhance production of collagen, moisturize, brighten, firm skin, and stimulate blood flow around the eye.  There isn't really any scent to it & it goes on wet but within a few minutes it seeps in and is unnoticeable on the skin.  I've been using it for a few weeks now and the skin around my eyes feels fresh and moisturized.  I think the collagen production worked a bit too well as my eyes seem more puffy than normal especially around the eyelid.  Nothing too drastic though.  I really don't see any difference at all with my dark circles.  I can't find the insert that came with the bottle to see if they listed a time frame for maximum results, considering I've seen some products say 2+ months.  There might be a slight difference but I really can't tell & I'm not going to fork out $32 for minimal, unnoticeable difference in my dark circles, puffiness I don't really want, and a good moisturizer for the eyes that I can find for less in other products.  I wouldn't buy this. 
  • Intense Repair Complex by Airelle BERRIMATRIX I got a teeny tiny sample of this that lasted me about 2 weeks & boy was I upset when this was gone!  I used this as a moisturizer after washing my face in the morning & night every day & it was FANTASTIC!  So this is said to be packed with antioxidants, be based on a phytonutrient found in blueberries, improve circulation, and help reduce lines & restore rough or dry skin.  It was very watery for its consistency and absorbed extremely quickly.  After just a few days of use my skin felt fantastic & very balanced!  My combination skin felt normal and even for once, and I had NO breakouts!  It also had a nice, light scent that didn't linger long after application.  The instructions advised to use a dime sized amount, so I did, & a little does goes a long way.  The only real downside to this product was the price.  $116 for 1.7 fl oz.  I would definitely buy this (if I could afford it)! 
  • This is a Sea Salt Spray by Davines.  Sea salt sprays were the new "in" thing this summer for hair giving nice, beachy waves.  I was a bit surprised to receive this considering I put in my profile that I had hair that was dry/damaged and too short for a ponytail.  I even had to question Birchbox on Facebook their decision to send it to people who listed what I did in their profile, & also questioned if anyone else with short hair liked it & how they used it.  I got mixed responses & Birchbox's response was that it was moisturizing so it should help.  My hair is still extremely short but there's enough length where I felt I might be able to enhance my natural waves that I do have & get a good use out of the product.  And I REALLY tried to get it to work with my hair but it just wasn't happening.  I tried using it with hair oils, with hair cream moisturizers, with no additional hair products, on dry hair, on damp hair.  My hair always frizzed up & felt terribly dry & even more damaged when using this product.  Even with the moisturizers that I tried applying at different times before and after applying this product.  Every time after use, I couldn't wait to wash it out of my hair.  I doubt it was the length of my hair but I'm almost positive it was the fact that my hair is bleached blond.  It's smelled great, but that was about it for me.  I'll be giving the rest of the sample away to a friend.  This product may work well for others, but I wouldn't buy it.

Now for some random chatter.

Today is my last day on the prednisone!  I'm still not feeling any better, though I'm not feeling worse which I guess is a good thing.  Within a day or 2 I'll most likely have the awful withdrawal symptoms I usually get with stopping the medication.  Hoping that lasts only a week.  I'm still not getting much sleep at night & I'm insanely exhausted & symptomatic throughout the day.  Can't wait for this to end.

I did get my new prescription glasses though.  I'm supposed to wear them all the time & I was told that it might take a few days to get used to them but I think the script may be a little off.  It's amazing how well I can see with my left eye through them but now the right eye seems blurred a bit through the glasses, which makes the overall vision seem a bit off.  *sigh*  Not really sure if I need this adjusted or if it's something that I'll just get used to.  I have the feeling I need an adjustment.

My birthday is coming up shortly.  I'm not going to say how old I am turning but I can say I am not upset about it.  Though some of my friends were upset turning this old.  Which I found funny.  People keep asking me what I want.  I don't really want, nor need anything.  I jokingly told my friend on the phone yesterday I wanted the $116 bottle of Airelle.  If anything I need either money to pay bills right now, or I need things done around my home like having the doors replaced, having my entire kitchen and bathroom redone, replacing my carpets & window blinds.  Stuff like that.  To me though it's just another day.  Nothing special.  I'm most likely going to spend the day on my couch in pain, writing letters, reading a book, ignoring phone calls, & staying away from the internet.  Just like most days lately.  And that's how I want it to be.

Found out our little mew was peeing outside the litter box again.  It only happened a few times and so we were able to clean it up right away.  It's been over a year since we got her & since we had the initial problem of her doing this so I knew something was up.  I got a vet appointment right away & found out she had a UTI and blood in her urine.  Poor girl.  She got an antibiotic shot & I have to take her back in soon for another checkup.  We had one more incident the night after the vet visit but she's been back to using the box regularly again.  I am still keeping an eye on her though I think she's doing much better now.


'Alohi tuckered out after the vet visit.

I was getting an insane amount of spam comments on this blog for a while.  They were mostly on my post about the Kashi Hummus Crisps so I'm kind of curious as to what was leading them there.  Really weird comments having nothing to do with the post or this blog & then links to God knows what.  I got 7 or more in one day & so I decided to turn off the comments to that post.  Every now & then I get another on some other post of mine & I just delete them.  Am I the only one getting these?  I can't be.

If you haven't noticed yet, The Body Shop is selling their Honeymania online already!  I've been trying to save money until I can get back to work again though I'm kind of kicking myself for not buying some when they had a 50% off promotion going on.  So I've been on a honey kick!  Last night's bath consisted of:


Target currently has a sample up on their samples page for Simple Skincare.  You have to fill out a short survey & then provide your address & you should have it in a few weeks.  These go quickly so act fact!

Well, I feel like a before noon nap now.  Take care everyone!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You can't love everything.

I'm still testing some stuff out from my Birchbox before I get into the post of everything I received & what I think of it.  I noticed some beauty bloggers out there tend to do posts right away when they get it & it's like, "Hey!  This is what I got!  Here are the colors (if it's makeup or nail polish).  I love the colors & they are so in right now!  I'm not wearing anything because I just opened the box.  Let me tell you about the product from what's already listed about it on the package or online, not from my personal experience because I haven't even tried it yet."  EVERYTHING is great, & they love it all already without even having used it.  Let me tell you, putting a dab of something on your hand doesn't mean it's going to look good on your face.


So there's a blog I really like called Beauty Test Dummies.  On products they give you their star rating up to 5 stars, normal retail price, the "skinny" on the product & how it worked (or didn't work) for them, if they would keep or toss it, and more information on the company & product they are reviewing like links to the company's websites or where you can buy the products.  It's kind of the direction I'd like to go with my blog though I think if there's a product out there that I personally don't like, that product had to go through a lot of initial testing in the 1st place to even make it on the market.  So even if it's not a fit for me, it has to be a fit for someone out there!  I even found a review they did for the last product I reviewed!  The Rosemary Mint shampoo.  They wouldn't buy it but I loved the stuff!  See, everyone's different, & if you're looking for good & true product reviews, instead of a blog where everything reviewed they love, love, love (all the time) you should follow them!

I've been really down the last few weeks which I have been attributing to my hypothyroidism.  I did end up calling my OBGYN about my hot flashes & possible low estrogen causing it, who said to call my endocrinologist.  I'm so sick of this back & forth.  I'm not even looking for treatment because I know things can just eventually even out once I'm off the prednisone & on the right dosing of thyroid hormones.  I just would like answers if that's really the problem or not.  As soon as any of my doctors hear that I had Graves' and a thyroidectomy, they just pass off any other symptoms I'm currently having as a possible hypothyroid problems without even really looking into it on their end.  "Talk to your endocrinologist."  Well, my endocrinologist doesn't think it has anything to do with my hypothyroidism. "It could, you need to talk to him.  We can't help you."  So, more sleepless nights to suffer though with no answers.  I just have to hope & pray it eventually goes away.

As of yesterday I started my last 2 weeks of prednisone.  Down to 5mg a day & boy am I feeling it with aches.  I go through this every time I lower the dose & it will probably be the worst when I completely go off the medication.  I like to describe the feeling as either (a) being hit by a car or (b) being beat up with a baseball bat.  I feel like I'm bruised & battered all over & it hurts to be touched.  Even my hair.

One good thing about yesterday was I got a new script for glasses!  The first thing they did was an automated perimetry visual field test.  I had to cover one eye and consistently stare at an orange dot in front of me that reminded me H.A.L. 9000, then little flashes of light would randomly come up on the screen around the orange light & if I saw them, I would use a clicker to register it.  It's very annoying & sometimes I wasn't sure if I was seeing dots that were being administered by the machine or if they were floaters.  After that came a long process of, "Put on your current glasses & cover this eye & read this line."  Then, "Cover your other eye & take off your glasses & read that line."  Then, "Is this better or worse?  Is this sharper or is this one sharper?  Which one is more clear?"  Over, and over, and over again.... until.... OMG! I can read everything CLEARLY!  Upon leaving my doctor told me that the script is quite different than what I currently have.  Surprising how much it changed in a years time.  He also joked, "The easy part is over.  Now here comes the hardest part of all this.  Shopping for glasses."

I also got my 1st Ipsy bag yesterday!  I can't wait to give everything a try.  They must get some super deal through DHL to be using them.  It took 13 days to get from NC to me in NY.  Seems kind of excessive considering it came from the same coast I'm on.  It took Ipsy 6 days after it shipped to even notify me that it had.  What really confused me though was they gave me a USPS tracking code that advised it had been already delivered to some place in CA back in August.  This was updated correctly once DHL handed it off to my post office.  I'm so used to using USPS when I ship stuff that if it's within the continental USA it's there within a week.  Well, now I know what to expect as far as a time frame with them.  Give it a full 2 weeks.

Well, lots to do today though I feel like curling up under a blanket and sleeping.  I'm sure that will happen at some point soon.  More later!