Taking Stock.

I got this idea from Hannah [The Art in Life] and thought it would be great to take inventory (or, as the title states, take stock) of my surroundings and life every once in awhile. Mostly because it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of work, the vast possibilities of the internet (I could watch YouTube and/or Netflix for hours), and the stresses of days past, present, and future.

So I decided to take this post for a spin. Some of the items are a little questionable and not very applicable to me…like, sewing and bookmarking…so I took those out.

Enjoying: Re-watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Andy Dwyer is amazing. As are Leslie, Ron Swanson, and everyone else. Except Jerry. He sucks.

Waiting: For Tom to wake up. He’s been on a really strange sleep/wake schedule, so I’m hoping he’s not out for half of the day.

Liking: The yoga channel I found on YouTube – I have now done 4 days of the 30 Day of Yoga series. I like doing it on days when I don’t workout at school with my co-worker. Adriene is calming but also quirky and makes yoga enjoyable, not boring or awkward.

Making: I’ll be making a couple lessons for Monday and Tuesday today.

Cooking: Well, I just had cinnamon raisin toast and two hard-boiled eggs with coffee for breakfast. Tom and I will be making a couple dishes for tomorrow’s Super Bowl party at our friends’ place.

Drinking: Lots of water – I’m trying soooo hard to drink the recommended amount for my weight everyday (8.5 glasses)

Reading: Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. I just started it this week and it’s so interesting already. I recently finished The White Queen by Philippa Gregory which was long but interesting.

Wanting: A FURRY CREATURE TO LOVE AND SNUGGLE WITH!!!!! And a house so we can have more than one furry creature. Preferably cats and dogs. No sloths because they’re just disgusting and ugly.

Looking: Always looking for inspiration and for ways to be healthier and happier.

Playing: Not at the moment, but I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on our PS4; I’m about 27% through the game.

Wishing: I wish I could pay off my student loans, like, yesterday. Such a big source of stress for the next 10 years…

Wondering: When we’ll start getting rid of some of these comic books taking up space in our apartment (and my mind).

Loving: YouTube and Netflix, as usual. Favorites on YouTube at the moment: Nikki Phillippi (health, lifestyle, and inspirational themes), Grace Helbig (just plain hilarious), Mamrie Hart (again, hilarious + alcoholic beverage recipes), and of course the Saccone-Jolys (Irish daily vloggers with 2 adorable kids).

Hoping: I’m hoping to be productive today. The past few weekends have proven super unproductive which isn’t always a bad thing, but I would love to change the course of how my weekends are spent.

Marveling: At where God has taken and brought me in life. High-school Holliday would never have believed where post-graduate school Holliday is right now.

Needing: Ugh, I need to do laundry and go grocery shopping and clean the apartment. What are weekends good for?

Smelling: My amazing candle warmer warming up an amazing scent I ordered from Etsy two years ago. It’s called Plumberry Spice. It’s amazing. I already said that, but seriously it is. I just went to find it so I could link the wax melts, but the shop no longer sells them – Nooooooo!!!!!

Wearing: Pajamas, of course. Again, it’s Saturday.

Following: My gut? I think? Oh, I’ve also been adding a bunch of blogs onto my Feedly. Any suggestions for your favorites?

Noticing: The tightness in my left shoulder every time I inhale. Need some yoga today. And a massage.

Knowing: I know so much about makeup from watching millions (okay, not millions, but at least hundreds) of beauty videos, and knowing I own a few good products, but never actually wearing a full face of makeup. I want to, but then I sometimes feel like it would be a waste of time. Tom doesn’t like lots of makeup either. Also, I don’t feel like risking a break-out and a bunch of clogged pores.

Thinking: About what the heck the next unit for my Integrated Algebra II class should be…suggestions?

Feeling: Tired. And bored. And sore and tight from working out/yoga-ing.

So there you go! Definitely give it a shot – it’s always good to get in touch with your emotions (sappy, yeah; necessary, of course). I’m sure if you did it once a week, you might start to become more positive and more aware of your thoughts and feelings.

Empties/Favorites for late 2014

For the past couple months, I’ve saved the empty containers of a few products that I’ve wanted to share. Now that I have a spare second, let’s do it so I can finally throw them away! I love watching “empties” videos on YouTube because it’s really informative of whether people enjoyed these products enough to repurchase them. So I’m hoping this post is also helpful in your quest for some of these kinds of products!

First and foremost, let’s talk about a shampoo and conditioner duo that I have repurchased several times now. Tresemme’s Expert Selection Keratin Smooth line helped my hair get through the spring and summer, and my hair grew a lot while using this combination. Now, I know experts say that hair doesn’t grow according to the products we use but how healthy our hair is and that we have a preset growth speed yada yada. So I think this duo helped my hair stay healthy and strong so that it could continue growing, while staying soft.Tresemme Keratin Smooth

It didn’t cut down frizziness totally, but then again my hair gets frizzy at the slightest sign of humidity no matter what products I use, so whatever. The packaging says that it is meant as a ‘once-a-week’ system to keep hair silky smooth, but it also notes that it is gentle enough for everyday use. I typically wash my hair every other day, so when I was using this duo, I would use both shampoo and conditioner every wash.

After my last two bottles of the Keratin Smooth ran out, I wanted to try something different. When a friend introduced me to a subscription service called Melaleuca (mel-a-loo-ca), I signed up and decided to give some of their hair and skincare items a try. You probably haven’t heard of this brand (unless you have and found my post by searching the name) because they don’t advertise like typical brands do. They get their name and reputation spread by word of mouth, through representatives (kind of like Avon or Mary Kay, minus the awkward parties) and through happy customers.

Sei Bella Luxury

I purchased a haircare set from a brand called Sei Bella that is sold through Melaleuca. I tried their “luxury” line and got the volumizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, and the hot iron prep spray. Overall, I wasn’t impressed. I used about 3/4 of each of the shampoo and conditioner (so technically these containers aren’t empty) but didn’t see an improvement or difference in my hair. And as for the heat protectant, I’ve only used it a few times because I prefer using Tresemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer for a heat protectant instead.

So about a month ago, I was in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner. I picked up Tresemme’s Smooth & Silky line and let me tell you – I AM IN LOVE. Again, the bottles aren’t empty, but once they are, I will no doubt repurchase them.I was nervous to buy it at first because Tresemme sells huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner – what if I didn’t like it? Then I’m stuck with two industrial size bottles that won’t get used up? But now that I know I love it, I’m so glad I have so much because it’ll keep my hair looking good for that much longer!Tresemme Smooth and Silky

I have gotten so many compliments on my hair since I started using it; yesterday, one of my students asked to touch my hair because it “looks so smooth and soft.” I let her touch it and she was excited that it was even softer than she expected. You’re welcome? So yeah, I’ve been weirdly happy with my hair the past few months – I’ve always had a huge beef with my hair for good reasons. Since I started getting gray hairs at 15, dying my hair every few weeks for over 7 years has made it dry and unhealthy. I’ve never gotten as many compliments in the last 24 years than I have in the past couple months, and that makes me really happy. Thanks Tresemme!

Not only that, but I’ve been getting 3 days out of my hair (except when I workout, then I only get two) which helps it stay healthier. So it makes it smooth and silky without making it oily! I have finer hair, so as soon as it starts to get a bit oily, it looks flat and scraggly. But this combination doesn’t make it that way!

Enough about hair, let’s move on to a face moisturizers. I have never had luck with skincare. My skin is super sensitive and I’ve noticed that any moisturizer with some sort of sunscreen makes me break out (whether it’s meant for sensitive skin or not). My skin is also on the normal to dry spectrum (usually more dry) so I can’t go without moisturizing or it’ll become tight and flaky. Also, I’m super pale, so I need some SPF protection. Oy vey.

In the past, I’ve tried Olay’s daily moisturizer both for normal/dry and sensitive skin types; both caused me to break out. I have also tried Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer but it also broke me out. What the heck?!

So I ordered a facial moisturizer by Sei Bella (again, carried by Melaleuca) and could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The moisturizer was the Daytime Delivery Creme with broad spectrum SPF 15 – it never broke me out, it kept my skin moisturized without making it greasy, and apparently kept my face safer from the sun. Boom. Boom. Boom. All good things.Creams

Because I had such good luck with Sei Bella’s day cream, I decided to give the night cream (technically called the night firming treatment) a shot, and yet again I was so happy with it. Since running out of the both creams, I purchased a day cream that has SPF from No7 and a night cream from Botanics and again haven’t had problems with either. Woot, finally finding good products!

How about a mascara? I tried Rimmel’s new Lash Accelerator mascara and have mixed feelings. My first tube was pretty nice, and I thought I saw an improvement in my lashes after a few days. I have pretty long lashes to begin with, but I’m always in the market for a good volumizing mascara. I liked the brush because I usually prefer plastic bristles instead of the “hair” bristles.
mascara

My beef with this mascara is that it dried out really fast – I noticed an increase in clumpiness within the first two weeks, so it became unusable within three. I’m not one of those excessive mascara wand pumpers who thinks that pumping the wand in the tube a hundred times before popping it out actually makes a difference (other than drying out the mascara faster) so it was simply the formula that was on the dry side.

How about two non-beauty products? Kind of random, but these Glade solid air fresheners in Apple Cinnamon are fantastic. I am hypersensitive to smells – as soon as I smell something that I deem as stinky, I instantly get put into a bad mood. I’m sure this is normal but I don’t think the extent to which my mood swings when I come in contact with smelly odors is.

Glade Apple Cinnamon

Needless to say, I use these in my classroom to freshen the place up (especially with some of the freshmen who still haven’t quite grasped the concept of deodorant or general hygiene. I always get compliments on how great my room smells; students and teachers alike love the smell. And, they’re really inexpensive!

Finally, I have been loving the Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Fig granola. Oooooh goodness is it tasty. And healthy! It’s gluten free, vegan, and free of refined sugar. AND I CAN PRONOUNCE EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT! Plus, the majority of the ingredients (a whopping 9 out of 11) are organic. I picked up 3 bags at the grocery store to stock up because I’ve been eating greek yogurt for lunch every day and wanted to make sure I had enough granola to last for awhile.

Purely Elizabeth granola

So that’s it for the past couple months for new products that I’ve enjoyed and some that I didn’t enjoy so much. I hope this was helpful in giving you new ideas of products to try or products to stay away from. If you have any recommendations or similar experiences, be sure to let me know – I’m always looking for beauty and non-beauty products to try!

Let’s Chat: Rambles on Paleo & Umbrellas

Oh, hey there! How are you? Haven’t talked to you in awhile. How’s the family? And your job?

Willy Wonka Tell me more

Yeah so I haven’t written in awhile, mostly because I haven’t found anything really worth writing about.

Actually, that’s a lie. I have a couple drafts of things I would love to post, but I’m not really sure about sharing them with the interwebs.

So now that I’ve lied to you and told you I’m keeping secrets from you, let’s continue to chat like those two old friends catching up at the coffee shop who speak loudly and have no discretion for what the general population of said coffee shop wants to know about their lives.

Or the overly zealous female talking about her work frustrations or juicy conversations with friends or whatever with her male counterpart on the already cramped train where there is no escape. He usually just gives one word responses in between her breaths (that don’t come frequently and don’t last long) to make it seem like he’s paying attention and actually cares. Luckily for him, he’s gotten really good at tuning her out and pretending he cares because he cares about her as a person. Aww, what a guy. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t care and cannot drown her out as easily, so we are left to hear every little detail.

But I digress.

So it’s May now. We had a monsoon blow through New York yesterday; I thought April was supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. But I realized a few things yesterday because of the rain…

First, I am not prepared at all for the rain. The one pair of boots I own are almost 2 years old and I found out yesterday that they have holes somewhere. So, um, needless to say my feet were absolutely soaked by the time I got home last night. Disappointing. And uncomfortable.

Also, I don’t own anything that resembles a rain coat. I have my winter coat and light spring coats, but nothing to keep me dry. Yes, I have an umbrella, but here in New York City you find out real quick that you can’t simply rely on umbrellas. The wind changes direction every time you turn a corner in the city and I swear it purposely blows up from the ground just to turn your umbrella inside out, losing the battle completely.

Broken umbrellas are a common sighting here. Now, I don’t condone littering, but it’s kind of comically sad seeing them strewn on the ground on or after rainy days. They obviously weren’t able to hold on through the storm and have been abandoned because they no longer serve their purpose.

I mean, if you Google or look through Flickr for ‘broken umbrellas’, you’ll see what I mean by the pathetic nature of said broken and useless umbrellas. Some are just a tad broken, but broken nonetheless. Others, however, are so mangled and disfigured, it makes one wonder whether a lion escaped from the zoo and went on a killing spree.

Broken umbrella

And then there are the people who are determined to stay at least a tiny bit dry, even though their umbrellas have been overcome by the elements. Even if one or more of the spokes are broken. Even if the extension part of the handle no longer works. These people are manually holding the umbrella open because, dammit, they will not accept defeat! They will do whatever it takes to keep at least their forehead untainted by the rain. Granted, who wants to go in a bodega or to a street cart and pay $10 for a poorly made umbrella that almost seems designed to break under the smallest gust of wind?

Another thing is that it’s such a pain walking down a narrow sidewalk while people walking in the opposite direction also have their umbrellas open. It’s kind of like playing chicken; one of us has to either raise our umbrella or close it a little bit in order for us both to fit through. But I don’t want to close it and risk getting soaked. And it doesn’t seem like they’re going to close it either. Then I start to raise my umbrella, thinking I’m going to be the considerate one…but then I notice them doing the same…so then we both kind of lower them. Quick, we’re getting really close!

It usually ends up working out, but sometimes the umbrellas get caught on either the other’s umbrella or a tree, and water flies everywhere, usually on both parties. It’s kind of like that embarrassing “dance” when people awkwardly can’t pick a side when walking by each other under normal circumstances.

Bottom line: I need to find some rain gear, like, ASAP.

Another reason I haven’t written in awhile is because I feel like I’m failing majorly with the whole eating Paleo thing. I made a dish or two using a cookbook I bought, but that’s been about it. I have been eating more health-consciously [scout’s honor!] since I wrote that last post, choosing salads over sandwiches, burgers, pasta, etc. I don’t think I’ve had pasta in quite awhile. Great, now I want tortellini with Alfredo sauce, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. Mouth is watering. I’m full-on drooling now.

I’ve been eating more fruit, purposely buying it from a small veggie store nearby so that I have them to snack on instead of chips or cookies or the like. I have, however, been kind of bad with chocolate since Easter was 2 weeks ago and that silly Bunny spoiled Tom and I with Cadbury Creme Eggs and hollow chocolate bunnies. The thing with me and chocolate is that, if it’s in the house, you best believe I will eat it.

Matilda Chocolate Cake

>>Oh, side note, I wanted to try the Carrot Cake M&Ms but I totally missed out! I didn’t realize they were limited edition for Easter, so I never picked any up because my thinking was, “I have a feeling we will be getting some candy from Mr. Easter Bunny, so I can wait.” Well, I’ve waited and heard people raving about how delicious they are. Come to find out everywhere is now sold out, and people are selling them on Amazon for $15 a bag! Like, what?! Preposterous. So anyways, let’s hope they decide to make them a permanent flavor because they were so popular. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until next Easter.<<

I talked to one of my co-workers a few weeks back when I decided Paleo was a good idea and she said her husband does it; she found that eating 80% Paleo is totally fine and that a slow-cooker is your best friend with this diet. Part of my problem with eating Paleo is that it’s about 70% preparation and 30% self-control. Also, sometimes the lack of calories and sugar has given me problems in terms of feelings that I’ll pass out, so sometimes I just need something quick and sweet to boost my sugar levels.

Honestly (and obviously), it takes so much longer to prepare a Paleo meal. So she said using a slow-cooker has been a God-send; she just decides what she wants to make, prepares everything the night before, throws everything in the crockpot in the morning before work, and when she comes home, it’s nearly ready! Plus, you can make a few nights’ worth of food using a crockpot, whereas some meals take so much time and work just to prepare enough for 2 people.

So I’ve been working on not putting myself down on doing poorly on this mission of eating healthfully because I’ve been improving my eating habits in general. And I’ve been using the workout room here at the school at least 3 times each week for the past month, so that’s great! I bumped my Fitbit step goal up to 12,000 steps per day and have been consistently surpassing that daily. Overall, good things happening.

Okay I think I’ve blabbed enough. Until next time, ciao!

My Year With Crohn’s Disease

I realized yesterday that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease exactly one year ago. Happy Autoimmune Disease Birthday to me! It took me awhile to write and edit this post, so it’s not exactly to the day, but it’ll do. I figured I would write about my journey with this disease – from flare-ups, finally being diagnosed, medications, and now, one year later, how I’m dealing.

Holliday and Becky
November 2010 – My roommate Becky and I

Okay, so I have had two flare-ups in my life, but it wasn’t until the second one that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. I have no doubt that my flare-ups have been stress-induced. To start off my first flare-up, let’s take a trip to my senior year at Geneseo. Fall 2010 began pretty rough: my 6+ year relationship had become very rocky, I was going to college full-time, working at Walmart part-time, and on top of this my mom’s Multiple Sclerosis was a constant worry.

My health decline started with stomachaches that would not go away no matter what I did. If I was in my dorm room, I would lay down for the 5 or 10 minutes it took for the pain to go away on its own. There was no pattern to them – I thought maybe it was something I ate, but then they began happening before I ate as well as after. I then began noticing little bumps on my legs one day when I was shaving; they looked like whiteheads or ingrown hairs, but they seemed a little more on the green side than on the white side. Weird.

By the end of October my relationship ended, my schoolwork was getting more difficult, and it seemed I never had time to relax, let alone sleep. I was constantly feeling alone and left out because none of my friends had to worry about working and school, so they were able to enjoy their nights watching TV, going to dinner together, just hanging out. But I didn’t have a second to stop and chill.

Sabres game
December 2010 – I was completely exhausted here, but I couldn’t miss out on a Sabres game with friends

Throughout this time, those small “pimples” on my legs grew and became large open sores. At one point, I would try using a cotton ball with either hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean them, put some Neosporin on them, and cover them in band-aids every single day. No matter what I did, though, they never got better. I mean they were getting so deep and wide that I had craters in my legs. Yeah, gross.

I also was getting swollen joints – I wore a knee brace under my pants because I couldn’t bear all of my weight on my knee without it feeling like it would buckle. Up until this point, I had really only had my nauseous episodes while in my room, so it was easy enough to just lay down for a bit to let the feeling go away. But then it started happening at work; I almost passed out a couple times during my shifts at Walmart because of the pain, nausea, and lack of nutrients.

Wow, what a mess I was!

Okay, so by this point you’re probably asking, “Why the hell did you not see a doctor?!” Well, you see, I did not have insurance. I had just turned 21 in August and my dad took me off his plan. I didn’t have money to pay for my own plan, let alone a bunch of medical bills. I was in the process of enrolling in a state-funded insurance but that takes forever, so unfortunately I never saw anyone for this until it was well-developed.

I ended up going to the ER, though, over winter break because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to be wrong and things were still not getting better, even after being home on break from school and work. Because I did not have insurance, they were not willing to do much for me. I mean, the doctor tried to give me a pelvic exam – I think she thought I was either pregnant (I assured her I was not) or had cysts. After a long and frustrating night, I went home with no more answers than I had entered with.

I eventually got approved for insurance and started making appointments with a doctor in my hometown as well as the doctor on campus. Cultures of my sores were taken but showed no signs of what they were assuming would be strep or staph infections. Antibiotics and corticosteroid creams were tried but nothing was helping. Strangely though, everything just sort of went away on its own by about mid-March 2011; I wasn’t taking meds or applying any creams at that point, so my mysterious condition was still very mysterious.

powderpuff
May 2011 – Regained my strength in time for the IV powderpuff game

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2012. I had been accepted into Columbia University for graduate school in July and decided to defer admission until spring 2013 because there was no way I could go with such little time. And since my mom had been in the nursing home for over a year now, I had been spending my time alone in my house except when I was substitute teaching or working at Walmart. So I was pretty stressed. Add on the fact that I had just gotten a long-term substitute job for a maternity leave for the first 10 weeks of the 2012-2013 school year. I was so excited to get more experience teaching middle and high school kids, but man oh man did the stress get to me.

By the first week of September, my symptoms started coming back. The pain. The nausea. The extreme weight loss. The sores. Everything was back. And with a vengeance. I mean, I was literally waking up in so much pain all over my body, I had to hobble like a 90-year old woman. At one point, I was hardly able to put my shoes on because my one ankle was so swollen. The sores started as painful lumps under my skin before they actually opened. Again, gross, but that was my reality.

Miss Chatt
Looking really gaunt with my teacher ID

She finally referred me to a GI specialist and wanted me to get a colonoscopy. Because of my age, the GI specialist decided to “simply” perform a sigmoidoscopy first. Tom came up to stay with me for a few days and take me to my appointment since I was going under anesthesia and would be in no shape to drive myself home. Apparently I was very persistent in trying to share my cookies with him once I woke up after the procedure. Unfortunately I missed a day of school for this test and it showed nothing.

Two weeks later, I ended up in the ER again. This time, because I had proper insurance, the doctors ran a whole slew of tests. Blood tests and cultures, a CT Scan, and a chest X-ray. Around 2:30 a.m., after about 5 hours of being there, the doctor came in and said that all tests pointed to either Crohn’s disease or colitis, but to get a definitive answer I would need to get a full colonoscopy. Until then, she gave me steroids, antibiotics, and mesalamine (anti-inflammatory meds for those with ulcerative colitis flare-ups). Good. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

Megan and Holliday
September 29, 2012 – In Baltimore with Megan

The GI specialist received my ER tests and made an appointment within the next week; obviously something was wrong or they wouldn’t be so quick in doing this. So on October 8, 2012, I went in for a colonoscopy and came out with a definitive answer: I have Crohn’s disease.

passport
November 2, 2012 – Moonface Holliday

Since that day, things have been great. It sucks that I have to take 12 pills every day (I take Delzicol, if anyone’s wondering: 6 with breakfast, 6 with dinner) but I would much rather deal with that than with the excruciating pain I was in. I’m back to a healthy weight and I haven’t had any problems thusfar with my medications. I try to be a little better with my diet, but the doctor has not restricted me in any way. Many people ask if I’m not allowed to have nuts or seeds, but my GI doctor said, “If you like it, it tastes good, and it doesn’t bother you, eat it.” And I have. And I do.

I even emailed the doctor at Geneseo with my story (a bit more condensed) so that maybe if he ever comes across these symptoms again, that person won’t have to go through this huge mess like I did. I feel like I should be on that show Mystery Diagnosis. That could be interesting…

Ahava Something To Tell You…Get It? {Skincare Series 1}

Okay Skincare Review Series, episode 1. How about we start with my favorite of the moment: Ahava.

Ahava LogoNot only is Ahava the Hebrew word for “love” (aww) but it is also a skincare line from Israel whose products are made from Dead Sea minerals and plants as well as other all-natural ingredients. Depending on what type of skin you have and what you want out of your skincare regimen, you can pick which line is right for you.

All products are:

  • Paraben free
  • SLS/SELS free (sulfates)
  • Allergy tested
  • Approved for sensitive skin
  • Not tested on animals
  • Produced without petroleum, harsh synthetic ingredients, or GMOs

My favorite line of products from this brand, Ahava Deadsea Plants, is heavenly. Honestly I hope heaven smells like this. If so, Lord take me now.

Our store carries all four products in the Plants line – you can distinguish them by their green lettering. Overall, the scent of the Plants line is so refreshing. It’s like…plants. Duh.

The Caressing Body Sorbet makes your skin feel so silky smooth and completely moisturized, without feeling heavy, oily, or sticky. This stuff smells so wonderful, I honestly want to eat it out of the tub. And then, when it’s on my hands, I want to eat my hands.Body Sorbet

The Firming Body Cream is similar to the sorbet, except it seems a bit thicker and smells a little less amazing. I’m unsure why that is, but I prefer the smell of the body sorbet to the body cream.Body Cream

The Dry Oil Body Mist is awesome. Apparently oils are all the rage nowadays for skincare, even for oily skin. Weird, right? I actually tested it side by side with another brand’s body oil spray on my legs. I joked with my coworker that we were going to be so oily we could just slide right home after work.Body Oil

But they aren’t like putting on baby oil where it’s just thick and goopy and makes you look slicker than the hair of a 1920s mobster. It’s a light mist that you spray on your body, gently rub so that it soaks in thoroughly, and you are left with glowing, dewy-looking skin. And it smells absolutely fantastic.

The last product, the Smoothing Body Exfoliator, does not smell the best. This would be my least favorite of the four products based on smell alone. It is not harsh or super gritty since Moroccan Argon shells serve as the exfoliators. I have not tried its actual exfoliating power since I am at work and would most likely try it on my legs. Or feet. And that would be weird to do at work. Right?Exfoliator

If you read my Hair, Skin, & Nails post (if not, do it to it my friend!) my skin is super dry and sensitive. Something else that is sensitive: my olfactory nerves. My mood will change drastically if something smells bad; like, I transform from Happy to Grumpy in a nanosecond. Although, side note, Once Upon a Time taught us that Grumpy was originally named Dreamy.

Long story short: I need intense hydration that is gentle and that smells divine and Ahava Deadsea Plants definitely provides that.

Apparently Duane Reade and Target both sell Ahava products, although they go by the name ‘Dead Sea Essentials’, are not found on their website, the packaging is much different, and the prices are much lower. This is definitely something to look into if you don’t want to splurge on the “real” stuff. I’ll admit that Ahava products are pretty pricey and not as readily available as the less expensive alternative.Dead Sea Essentials

For more information on their products, the company, or to order some shweet stuff, you can go to their website, www.ahavaus.com. Also, let me know if you’ve tried Dead Sea Essentials and what you think; I may try it out myself…

Hair, Skin, & Nails >1 Month Update<

It has now been 4 weeks since I started taking the Hair, Skin, & Nails supplement, so I’m updating with my overall impressions after one month. As was mentioned in my previous post about the supplement, I am only taking 2 of the caplets when the suggested dose is 3 per day. So let’s see what (if anything) I’ve noticed…HSN biotin 2

My skin has been on and off with pimples here and there, and it still feels dry without moisturizer. I realized, however, that when I work out my skin tends to freak out. Since our 5k at the end of June I haven’t been working out as much with school and my new job. My skin was looking fine and then one day I decided to run, and by the end of that day I had two pimples starting to take form. To be fit or not to be fit?

Also, the back part of my scalp went through a couple days worth of itchiness and I was actually afraid that I had gotten lice! I bought Neutrogena T-Sal shampoo and T-Gel conditioner and (thank God!) it felt better by the next day and (again, thank you Lord) I have not had the itches since.

My hair seems a little bit more lively, but I’m not sure how much the supplement has to do with that. For one, as mentioned before, I have a different shampoo and conditioner combo – I’ve been mixing the T-Sal/Gel products (for dryness and softness) with some Brilliant Brunette (to help with the color).

Second, I picked up the “It’s a 10 miracle leave-in product” and have used that every time I wash my hair for about two weeks now.

It's a 10

Third, to promote shine, I started rinsing my hair with really cold water in the shower. So after my whole shower routine is done, when I’m all ready to get out, I torture myself by turning the water to cold and holding my head to it for about 20 seconds. I haven’t gotten any comments about my hair blinding anyone with it’s shine, so it may be all for nothing, but what the heck? If nothing else, it wakes me up in the morning.

Finally, and probably most helpful, I have cut down on using heat on my hair. I’ve only used my straightener to curl my hair maybe 6 days this month as opposed to every other day. It helps that it’s been so sticky and humid. Honestly, there’s no point in even trying to make my hair be anything but curly and frizzy when it’s so hot and humid. So I save time and my locks when I go semi-au natural.175875_10151496725246526_624190009_o (1)

So when I wash my hair with said shampoos and conditioners, I spray said leave-in product and squirt some mousse in my hair, comb with my head upside down, flip right-side up, and finger-comb/shake my waves out to my normal parted style. I then create a braid at the front of my hair using my bangs because they get the most out of control and awkward looking when left to air dry (seen above…kind of).

Against all these great improvement-inducing products and routines, I dyed my hair about 2 weeks back. I am now all brunette again (I used Natural Instincts #12 Light Golden Brown if anyone is wondering) because I wanted to blend my highlights and cover my grays. I let it go for quite awhile longer than normal, but a male coworker pointed it out one day so my self-conscious self took over and I caved. Ugh, when are they ever going to patent that cure for gray hair?Natural Instincts #12

All that said, I’m glad to report that I definitely notice my baby hairs are less pronounced and seem to be growing because they aren’t breaking due to heat tools.

My nails took a beating at the beginning of the 4 weeks because I had gotten gel nails done at a salon. After almost 2 weeks, I started picking and pulling at them and a few of my nails ended up really beat up. Because the top layer(s) were pulled off with the gel nail, I ended up buying acetone to take the remainder off. So needless to say they’re still recovering from that.

I haven’t felt nauseous or anything while taking the supplement, but I’ve been taking them with breakfast and dinner, so I think that helps. I have about 3 weeks left of these pills and I’m not sure whether I want to continue with the regimen or not. If I do, I will definitely look into getting a different brand/pill because these are large and horrid tasting when they don’t go down the first four tries because of their being large. Since I take 12 pills a day for my Crohn’s, I’d rather not continue to add two more huge pills to the equation.

I will update either when I finish the supplements and change over to a new kind or in another month. Or when my hair is thick and luscious enough to do a super sexy hair flip.

Until then, I’ll just keep looking like this:White Chicks

Cheers to healthy mind and body. And humor.

A Sleep Aid Review…After 4 Hours Of Sleep

I am currently running on about 4 hours of sleep.

And this is a review of the Slumberland Snacks Sleep Squares.

So get ready.

I received a sample of these sleep squares in my June Conscious Box. I wrote about my Conscious Box experience in a post you can find here.

Reading some reviews, apparently people swear by these things. I don’t have a sleep disorder, so I have never really taken sleep aids or anything like that, prescription or otherwise. I’m a pretty light sleeper, so I wake up (and then stay awake) pretty easily. I took an anti-anxiety pill for a bit last year, but the anxiety was due to my Crohn’s, which was not diagnosed until a bit later. And when I’m stressed, it can take a toll on my sleep patterns. But nothing as bad as last night…

So these sleep squares are said to be “deliciously simple treats that help you get a better night’s rest.” The sample I received contained two squares, and since they are supposedly very healthy (100% natural, sugar and gluten free, etc.) they actually have an expiration date. Mine were due to expire in 2 weeks, and since I have to work and go to school the next 4 days, I figured last night would be good a time as any to test them out. Be prepared, get a good night’s sleep to tackle these next few days. Right?

The directions suggest taking the sleep square(s) about 30 minutes before you plan to fall asleep, so I took one at 12 midnight. It didn’t taste bad (they come in many flavors, but mine were just plain chocolate) and I made sure to chew completely before swallowing, as was directed.

After about 30 minutes, I had been dozing on and off, but when I would come back to consciousness, it felt as though my heart was racing. I had that really anxious feeling like when you’re nervous or feel like you’re forgetting something. Or when you doze in public and realize it only after you jolt awake in an embarrassing way. Why was I feeling like this?

I did my homework.

I didn’t have to be up early.

I hadn’t eaten in over 4 hours.

I hadn’t had any tiffs with friends or anyone, causing me to stress.

Heck, I had even done some extra independent studying of Statistics AND worked out at the gym!

What gives?!

So around 12:45, I took the second square, drank some water, and climbed back into bed. This second one would do the trick, it had to. I just needed that extra push.

I read the box, making sure that these squares were actually to help you sleep and not give you energy. It does mention that you should discontinue use if you have feelings of anxiety and insomnia (check and check), along with a heap load of other negative reactions.

And then, around 5:30 a.m., having been awake the entire night, I got out of bed and jumped around my room to try to release a bunch of the pent up energy, ate a banana, and noted that the sun was starting to come up. Wonderful.

I climbed back into bed (by now I had already had a few meltdowns…”everyone else is asleep, what is wrong with me?!”), read for a bit, and around 6 a.m., I was finally able to kick that anxious, super-awake feeling enough to catch some zzzs. And then I woke up at 9:30 and laid there until my alarm went off at 10.

I’m sure this is how I’ll look coming home after work tonight. Needless to say, I personally do not recommend these things.

Hair, Skin & Nails (oh my!)

I’ve decided to try taking the Hair, Skin, and Nails supplement by Spring Valley in hopes that I will become a smokin’ hot, glowing supermodel with long, luscious locks to my tush. Alliteration aside, I guess I would settle with stronger hair with less fallout, stronger nails with less breakage, and maybe a bit of a glowy complexion. That sounds a bit more realistic.

I have heard so many girls (mostly on YouTube) who buy Prenatal vitamins in hopes that their hair/skin/nails will improve. I mean, we all hear about how pregnant women’s skin glows and how their hair and nails grow like dandelions on Miracle-gro. But honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with hormones. So instead, I’ll try this collagen support vitamin and hope for the best!HSN biotin 2

So I’ll start by giving you an idea of what I’m dealing with right now so that an update can hopefully show improvements.

A little about me: I’m a very dry person. And no, I’m not talking about my humor.

My hair is really dry, so it frizzes if I don’t put some sort of product in it. I usually use a mousse because my hair is curly but fine, so I don’t want anything too heavy to weigh it down or make it flat but I need some sort of control. I color my hair quite often because I was blessed with graying hair at the age of 16 (Proverbs 16:31 – crown of glory, holler) so that adds to the dryness.

At the moment, my hair is about 2 inches past my collarbone and is not very thick (density-wise, not diameter); I have fine hair, but quite a bit of it. I also have a ton of baby hairs around my face, so I’m hoping this whips them into shape. I also have been trying to cut down on using heat on my hair, so hopefully that will help as well. It stinks that heat makes it look so much better! #firstworldproblems anyone? Anyways, see picture (left) for current hair condition.lunch-copy

My skin is always dry unless it’s really hot and humid (causing me to sweat profusely) so I am constantly reaching for lotion. I have had bouts of eczema on and off since high school, so I try to be very conscientious of applying lotion when my skin feels dry. My face suffers hormonal breakouts around my T-zone (typically once a month, if ya know what I mean) and is sensitive, so finding gentle but effective cleansers and moisturizers is difficult.

My nails have taken a beating over the past year; I was diagnosed with Crohns disease in October, and my malnutrition showed in my nails. I had pits and ridges on every nail and was unable to grow them very long because they were pretty brittle. Since I have returned to normal eating habits, they have gotten better, although I still have some ridges and waves.

So that is the condition of my hair, skin, and nails right now. In terms of the supplement, the serving size is 3 caplets per day, to be taken with meals.  So far I have been taking them for three days, although I have only taken two caplets each day instead of the suggested three.  They are kind of large and are kind of smelly, but I’ve taken larger pills, so it’s no big deal. I’ve heard that it should take 2-3 months before full benefits are seen but I will update any changes I see after the month mark.HSN biotin pills

I looked up a bunch of reviews, from YouTube to Amazon (you can read through them here), and here’s what I found:

Good experiences

  • Many reviewers on Amazon and YouTube claim that their hair and nails grew longer and stronger after only a couple weeks. Also, skin was less oily and more glowy with fewer breakouts.

Bad experiences

  • I read a bunch of reviews where bad skin breakouts occurred; apparently the collagen found in these kinds of supplements is broken down through hydrolysis, so it is recommended by many to drink plenty of water while taking it.
  • Others complained of nausea caused by the pills; it is important to take any supplements with food. Your stomach will be producing acid to break up the food and supplement instead of the lone supplement sitting and rotting the lining of your stomach and/or causing nausea.

Unfortunately I was unable to find any proper research on these sorts of supplements, so this will be a self-study. I shall update after one month. Ready. Set. Sports Illustrated cover, here I come.