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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.