Saturday, April 27, 2013

Share, Love, Celebrate the Best of P&G

PGHeartPetal1_03222013125248I received a box of full of goodies from SheSpeaks for the Share, Love, Celebrate the Best of P&G program.  P&G’s “Most Loved” brands being celebrated include: CoverGirl®, Olay®, Pantene®, Venus®, Gillette®, Bounty®, Cascade®, Charmin®, Dawn®, Febreze®, Swiffer® and Tide®.  These products were sent to me free of charge for the purpose of review but my opinion is not swayed by
Most of the products are new to me with the exception of Dawn with Olay Hand Renewal.  This is s favorite in our house.  Well, secretly my husband prefers Dawn Ultra Antibacterial in Apple Blossom; but, we won’t tell anyone that.  Now, we all know that Dawn can break down harsh grease but combined with Olay its actually nourishes your hands.  Truthfully, I don’t know how they managed to combine these two greats into one product. I mean how is it that the dishes are getting sparkling clean while your hands are getting revitalized?  You would think that the Olay would decrease the cleaning power or that it would leave some strange film on the dishes; but, the dishes are spotless and my hands are soft.  Dishes must be done so it’s fantastic to find a soap that can treat your hands kindly while you are doing them.  Genius.
Once again P&G has teamed up two great products.  I loveIMG_9558 Venus razors and have been using them for years.  They taught me to appreciate the art of shaving my legs.  Cheap razors were leaving me with razor burn, red bumps and rough skin.  Venus leaves my legs smooth and silky.  I can only imagine how much more luxurious shaving is going to be when you add Olay into the mix!  I am certain that it will elevate shaving to a spa like experience rather than a chore.  Venus razors are always on my coupon shopping radar at CVS and can combine a coupon with a Extra Care Bucks.
COVERGIRL is definitely a P&G brand I can’t do without!  My makeup drawer never has less than three different tubes of COVERGIRL mascara and I am currently wearing their Outlast Stay Fabulous foundation.  I will admit that it’s been a few years since I have tried a COVERGIRL eyeliner.  I have been wearing long wearing liquid liner to get a super crisp line for years.  However, lately I have been starting to experiment with softer liner so this creamy, blendable automatic pencil in espresso has arrived at the right time. I am looking forward to exploring some new looks with the Perfect Point Plus.  This water resistant lasting liner is just what a need for a breaking out of my usual super defined eyeliner.  The deep rich chocolate brown color will be a welcome change from my typical deep black. 
The Gillette Fusion Irritation Defense helps reduce 5 signs of shaving irritation including dryness, burning, stinging, itching and tightness.  Boyet just mentioned to me that he thinks he overdid it last time he shaved.  Immediately, I wished we had received this box earlier.  He uses a men’s facial moisturizer but it wasn’t designed specifically for shaving irritation.  We are both now excited for him to try this next time he shaves.
I must admit that these are some great P&G products and we are both looking forward to using them.  It’s a great time for you to try some great P&G products as well.  Pick up your local Sunday paper on April 28, 2013 to receive the P&G coupon insert to score some great savings on your favorite P&G products.  The insert will include the following coupons:
Covergirl $2/1 LashBlast Mascara or eye shadow
Covergirl $3/2 nail products
Gillette $2/1 disposable
Gillette $5 off Fusion cartridges 4ct+ and Fusion ProGlide razor
Venus $5 off razor and refill excludes disposables
Venus & Olay Buy 3ct refill, get razor free up to $8.99
Plus many more.  Visit Sunday Coupon Preview for a complete list of P&G coupons.

Join the ‘Share, Love, Celebrate the Best of P&G’ movement by visiting: PGEveryday, P&G Facebook, or @PGeveryday Twitter.  Join SheSpeaks to review P&G products and to be considered for future programs such as this one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chronic Chiari, The Pain Problem

Ask any one with Chiari and they will tell you that pain is one of the most challenging symptoms.  It’s also one of the most challenging symptoms to treat.   Pain is the most commonly discussed symptom amongst Chiari patients both in person, on forums, through social media and with our doctors.  The most challenging thing about pain is that there is no singular treatment method that is 100% effective.  Different treatments garner different results with different patients at different times. In short, coping with pain can be a extremely difficult at best. 

We have all seen some version of this pain chart below. Now, I might be naive but I choose to believe that the average person experiences a pain level of 0 or 1 on a daily basis. Whereas, I experience a pain level between 4-7 on most days. As you can clearly see we are talking about pain that interferes with life. I will take this opportunity to explain that I prefer not to rely on western medicine for pain control/relief. I will not take medication until my pain level reaches a 7 or 8 simply because I hate that medication slows me down, makes me sleepy and interferes with my thought process. In short, my opinion of pain medication is that it sucks.
Please allow me a moment to explain that I am not a doctor or nurse.  I am just a girl who has been dealing with pain my entire life who has taken the time to explore alternative treatment to pain.  As with any new program please check with your doctor to ensure that any treatment or therapy would not interfere with your current medical regime. 
We all know that endorphins are those feel good chemicals that our bodies desire.  So it would seem as simple as more endorphins equates to less pain.  Unfortunately, its not that simple.  It’s not like we can load up on synthetic endorphins and the pain will magically disappear.  I have found that it takes many smaller steps in order to keep the pain at at tolerable level.    Keeping our bodies relaxed is the key in dealing with the stress of pain.  Its only natural that pain brings stress which causes tension in our bodies.  I believe that tension increases the level at which we feel pain.  Our natural reaction to a shooting pain is tense up the muscles in the area where the pain is felt.  What we really need to learn is to relax the muscles instead.  This is not an easy task to accomplish.  Here are a few techniques I use to cope with pain and all its glory.
• 4, 7, 4 Breathing – This is definitely my favorite technique.  It’s simple to learn and you can always have it with you.  Simply inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds, inhale for 4, exhale for 7 and so on.  Your body naturally relaxes after exhaling and before inhaling.  This technique extends that natural relaxation period. 
• Guided Visualization – Audio guided visualization allows you to take a mini vacation without ever leaving the comfort of your house.  After 10-20 minutes you will find that you are more relaxed and refreshed. It’s a simple tool and a great alternative to medication. A simple Google search will find dozens of free guided visualizations available for download.
Writing – Whether blogging, journaling, letter writing, short stories or just free flow, writing provides an outlet to safely say all the negative things that get stuck in my head.  Especially when I am having a particularly bad day, I find it safer to write all the awful thoughts floating around my head on paper rather than spewing them at my loved ones.  By writing them down, I am able to remove them from my head in order to move more positive thoughts in.
Music –  Some days are more of struggle than others.  I use music to relax and focus on removing the pain from my body.  I lie down, listen to music paired with nature sounds and focus my attention on relaxing each and every part of my body.  After 20 minutes I get find enough relief to face the rest of my day.
Massage – I am blessed that my husband is willing and able to help me through my pain. Human touch is an extremely powerful tool. Massage has been successfully practiced for thousands of years with good reason. Touch is one of the most comforting, healing things I have ever found.  Luckily, my husband also agrees with this theory and helps me through some of the really difficult times.
Exercise – Regular exercise keeps the endorphins flowing.  It brings about a natural harmony to the body that can be found through no other therapy.  While most Chiarians will never be able to participate in hard core regimes, simple low impact exercise will still provide plenty of benefit without the damage. 
Prayer/Meditation – I have my own personal practice of prayer and meditation.  It can be defined as both prayer/meditation and as neither.  I allow myself the freedom to commune with God about many things in life while practicing the discipline of meditation.  I have found that relying on a higher power allows me the freedom to not worry about things that are beyond my control.
Yoga – Practicing yoga allows my body to remain flexible which helps remind my body to remain relaxed while experiencing pain.  Keeping my body relaxed and fluid is the biggest asset when battling chronic pain.  Yoga allows me to practice relaxation in the face of challenging situations.
Communication – Being able to express my feelings calmly also helps me to remain calm when facing extreme pain.  Having the peace of mind to remain in control of my emotions helps be rationalize the pain.  Keeping my emotions in check provides me the ability to express the discomfort without increasing my pain level.  This requires that I practice remaining calm through all sorts of frustrating situations.
Cold Therapy – Ice packs have become my friends.  Western medicine is now discovering the benefits of using cold therapy to treat spinal cord injuries.  I have discovered that combining cold therapy with music, massage or guided visualization is more effective and expeditious when coping with extreme pain.   Although I have several of the new gel ice packs, I will always prefer the old school ones with a reservoir for placing ice cubes.
Laughter  - Being able to find the humor in any situation makes it easier to cope with whatever I am facing.  I always try to find some crazy comparison to remind myself that things can be worse. If I am laid up in bed with an extreme migraine, covered in ice packs with my earbuds shoved in my ears, I ask myself how it would feel to have a foreign tribe of ancient warriors performing a loud chant while surrounding my bed.  Then I am able to remain thankful for my soft bed, my quiet house and the ability to rest.
I always try to remember that pain alone will not kill me.  It is merely an unpleasant sensation that I must deal with on a regular basis.  Although, it has changed the course of my life I refuse to let it change the quality of my life.  While it can sap the fun out of some things by rendering me unable to participate in certain events, I refuse to let it take any fun out of the things I can enjoy.  I remind myself that the things that I do get to enjoy are priceless and my relationships are what define the quality of my life. Pain is a language I speak fluently.  Although, I am not fond of it, it is a fact in my life.  I will always live with pain and  I will always live with Chiari Malformation; so, I might as well learn to live well with both.  

Revlon Lash Potion Mascara

IMG_9492Recently Revlon hosted a Facebook #CastASpell giveaway of their new mascara.  Fortunately, I was selected to receive one of their, as of now, unreleased Lash Potion by Grow Luscious Mascara.  I had not received any indication that I had been selected to receive one.  So I was quite surprised when I received this mysterious black package in my mail box; but, you can imagine my delight when I opened it to find a full size tube of Revlon’s new Lash Potion Mascara.
Allow me to first state the obvious, this packaging is super adorable. The combination of green fading to blue, purple then pink has always been especially appealingIMG_9538 to me. This mascara is no exception. Now, down to business.  The package claims Revlon Lash Potion to be a volume and length mascara.  “The formula with strengthening proteins, amino acids and essential vitamins, revitalizes lashes.  The illusionist wand drenches lashes for dramatic volume and combs through lashes for clump free length.” It was difficult to get a great photo of the illusionist wand. This is the best shot I could get of the unique tri-shaped wand made of traditional bristles.  Typically I prefer rubber bristles but the shape of this want works well on my lashes. The color I received was 001 Blackest Black which would be the IMG_9543_1shade I would choose.  This is not a waterproof formula; however, it is available in waterproof. Sadly, since I did not receive waterproof this means that I cannot wear this mascara on my bottom lashes as I have particularly weepy eyes.  Truthfully, I haven’t found any mascara that works for both my top lashes and my bottom lashes. I am convinced that it can’t be made as I have two different set of expectations for my bottom and my top lashes. I found this to be a wet mascara; therefore, you need to take care when applying it or you can easily end up with a black mess all over your eyes.
Naked Eye and Three Coats of Lash Potion
The picture above shoes my naked eye on top and three coats of Lash Potion on bottom. The photos below show a progression of coats.  On the left is my naked eye on top and one coat on the bottom.  The photo on the right shows two coats on top and three coats on the bottom.  I really like the effect on the first two coats.  But once you start applying the third coat it can get a little spidery, meaning that my lashes like to stick together.  The best way to combat this problem is to let each coat dry completely before applying the next coat.  I always apply my eye makeup first, then my foundation and everything else.  This makes it easy to wait in between coats as I am applying other products while waiting.  It also makes it a bit easier to clean any mishaps since you don’t have to worry about disturbing your foundation.  While these photos show just the mascara by itself I prefer to wear a fiber primer underneath this mascara.  I find that with a fiber primer I really enjoy wearing this mascara.   I have been wearing this mascara daily now for about a week and am really enjoying it.

Revlon’s new Lash Potion wears well without smudging, flaking or fading. I am quite content with the volume and length.  However, I do prefer to wear a primer with this mascara and all other mascaras as well.  I find the wet formula a bit tricky to deal with when applying but I am willing to deal with it because I truly enjoy the mascara.  This is the first Revlon mascara I have owned.  Well done, Revlon.  I’ve known your lips and face products were top notch but I was clueless about your mascara. Will I repurchase this mascara? Yes! I can confidently say that there will now always be a tube of Revlon Lash Potion in my arsenal of spell binding makeup!
Thank you Revlon for sending me the Lash Potion free of charge and without  any expectations that I would review the product.  I am willingly reviewing the product as I feel it’s a great mascara!  Revlon Lash Potion will be available in stores beginning May 1, 2013.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Product Review, Woolite

‘While you may know Woolite as the detergent for treating your delicates.  Woolite is also specially formulated to keep the love that you have for your everyday clothes, whether vintage or fresh off the rack, alive.’ taken from the Woolite website.  I remember always having a Woolite in our house when I was growing up.  I new it was ‘special’ detergent for ‘special’ clothes.  Now, as an adult I am discovering that Woolite isn’t just for ‘special’ clothes.  Woolite is good for any clothes you would like to keep looking newer longer. 
IMG_9488Recently, I was selected to participate in a Woolite Sample and Share program through Crowdtap.  You can find my review of Crowdtap and the variety of programs it offers here. I received 10 single load samples of Woolite.  These samples were sent to me for the express purpose of sampling and reviewing.  Additionally, I am expected to share some samples in order to encourage me to share my opinion of Woolite.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Journey with Chiari, Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of My Journey with Chiari.  In case you missed Part 1, you can find it here. I encourage you to read part 1 prior to reading part 2 but it’s impossible for me to force you to do so.  In any case, I hope you enjoy it no matter what order you choose to read it in.
Diagnosis, Part 2
As I drove the familiar highway through Oklahoma City, I instinctively took the exit leading to my parent’s house instead of continuing down the highway to return to work.  I knew that I needed to inform my parents, as well as, to be reassured by their support. They still lived in the home I had grown up in. It was the only home I’d ever known and it is still remains the center of my world today.  Even though, I tend to be a bit of a gypsy floating from one place to the next; their home has always been North on my internal compass. There is a sense of resounding peace that calms my soul unlike any other place I know. It’s not a fanciful or magical place. It’s just modest home that my parents have nurtured with love for well over forty years. It is tended with such love that one rose bush, which was purchased along with the house, is still thriving. My parents have grown older and wiser but they have not changed. They both worked hard to provide a comfortable life for their family and they had been able to retire just a few years earlier. We were always a close knit family because they led by example. They are still very much in love today as the day they were married. My parents weren’t afraid to express that sustaining emotion to each other or to their two girls. Subconsciously, I must have known that I needed to seek solace with my parents more than I needed to return to work.  I hadn’t even given thought to making that exit. It happened as easily as breathing. I had taken this exit thousands of times and it felt good to send the Corvette sailing around the tight corners of the exit.  The car smoothly floated by the new hotel and the old, abandoned gas station. The retirement community and apartment complex drifted by my window without a thought. After lifting my foot from the accelerator and gently pushing on the brake pedal, the engine slowed in order for me to turn right onto the adjacent street. Feeling the car follow my lead was relieving. The car was, at this moment, the only thing within my control. It was comforting to have such an powerful piece of machinery at my fingertips. Right now, I needed to find this same sense of power and control over myself before I told my parents about the results of my MRI and this perplexing condition.
I let myself into their house to find them sitting at the dining room table having just finished lunch. They were surprised to see me in the middle of a work day. I pulled up a chair and joined them at the table. After making a bit of small talk regarding their lunch, I explained that I was returning from my doctor’s visit where I discovered the results of my recent MRI. My Mom looked eagerly at me with raised eyebrows, “And?” In my head I couldn’t find any words that felt right; so I opted for humor. It usually served me well when I was in tight spots.  I was also trying to convince myself that if I kept it light then this condition couldn’t be that serious. “You know how you’ve always said that you wanted to have a healthy baby and were blessed because you’d gotten me? Well it turns out that I have this rare birth defect, so you kinda screwed that up,” I said flashing her my cutest grin. My Mom’s jaw dropped and she tried to look hurt. She closed her mouth, indicating that she had no rebuttal; but then she realized that this meant that I wasn’t healthy. Her hurt quickly turned to confusion. We sat there looking at each other for a moment, silently. I went on to explain what I knew of this condition and that it’s not uncommon to discover this birth defect until a person, typically woman, turns twenty or thirty. They, of course, had tons of questions which I could not answer.  I shared the printout with them which contained an MRI image showing how a portion of the brain grows down and out the rear base of the skull and into the top of the spinal canal. I explained that I didn’t yet have any answers that weren’t located on these few sheets. I told them that my next step would be to see a neurosurgeon to determine if I would be a good surgical candidate. We would have to wait until then to determine what this would mean for me long term. I explained that I was just as confused as they were. After half an hour of questions with no answers and lots of headshaking, the three of us were all left in stunned silence. After several hauntingly quiet moments I rose from my chair and explained to them that I needed to go to my work to advise my boss to expect my needing time off to properly care for this condition. I agreed to keep them informed as I learned anything new and they told me that I could call them if I needed anything. I hugged them both and told them that I loved them.  I gave a  quick  wave as I stepped out their door to make the short drive to work.
When I arrived at my boss’s office she knew that something was wrong. I wouldn’t normally show up at her office in the middle of the afternoon. I tried to smile as I seated myself in an empty chair across the desk from her. I have only been working for her for roughly six months, I had transferred to Oklahoma from a branch in Texas. I knew that she was pleased with my management of our small travel office and I was not yet sure how this diagnosis would affect my employment. I loved my job, I love my customers, I loved my office, and I adored my one single employee, Alisa. I didn’t want to be here, in my boss’s office, explaining this unexplainable condition to her. I didn’t want to have this condition to explain to her. I didn’t want this condition to affect my performance or my position. I had worked for sixteen years as a travel agent to become manager of my own office, even if it was a small office with my singular employee. I had hired that one employee and I didn’t want to let her down. I didn’t want to let myself down. I didn’t want to let my customers down. In the six months that I had managed the office my customers had come to rely on me, my skills, my humor and my hugs. So as I sat there across from my boss, I tried to tell myself that I had nothing to worry about. It would never come to that. I would not let anyone down. I would be able to overcome this diagnosis and continue on with life as normal. Couldn’t I? I brushed aside my thoughts and went on to explain to my boss that I had just received the results from my MRI. I gave her the details of my diagnosis from earlier that afternoon. I explained that the worst case scenario would be that I might need some time off for surgery but assured her that I would have Alisa prepared to handle the office on her own should that need arise. She reassured me that they would do whatever necessary to help me get through this situation. That my health was the most important factor and that I shouldn’t worry about my office.  I explained that I would like to take the remainder of the day off to wrap my head around this news and to inform my fifteen year old son. She was in agreement that I should give myself the afternoon to do what I needed to do. As I rose from my seat, I kindly asked her to call Alisa and explain that I wouldn’t be coming back and that she should do the daily reports after closing. She agreed that she would notify Alisa of what needed to be done. She also reminded me that I’m a strong person and she was sure I can conquer this condition. 
As I walked away from her office it did occur to me that I had already had this condition for thirty-six years. I stepped through the entry vestibule and pulled the door leading outside.  The heavy glass door sounded off with a big ‘whoosh’ as a blast of hot summer air swished across my face. Dr.W had said that this is not fatal; maybe, I could live a long, happy, albeit not healthy, life with condition. The big maple in front of the entrance rattled it’s bright green leaves above me as my heels clicked along the sidewalk toward the familiar black Corvette. 
The drive home felt much longer than usual even though there was no traffic. Rush hour was at least another hour from now, even still I chose not to take the freeway home. The route home is an odd combination of city and farm, urban and rural. Although I drive past restaurants, gas stations and other businesses, none of it catches my eye. Soon I am passing farm houses, plowed fields and cattle pastures as I seem to float over the low rolling hills. The commanding engine pulling the long, lithe car up and over each crest, giving the sensation of flying. But none of these things play in my mind; I am still thinking about my condition, my malformation. Arnold Chiari Malformation, type 1. I might as well get used to hearing it and saying it. It seems that Chiari is my new companion with a lifetime guarantee. Terms like cerebella, tonsils, hindbrain, and foramen magnum will become my new vernacular. The Corvette slid gracefully over the hills as pushed my foot a little further into the accelerator in order to get home and sit in front of my computer. I wanted to read and learn everything I could about Arnold Chiari Malformation.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lets talk House Party

If you are the hostess with the mostess then House Party is for you!  House Party combines great products with great parties.  Once you join House Party you can apply for different parties based on your preferences.  They have parties featuring great products like Seagrams, L’Oreal, Bic, Dole, Mattel, Keurig, Fancy Feast, and so on!  They provide the party details like when you should host the party, how many you should invite, and what products you should feature.  House Party also provides great suggestions for games, snacks, and drinks. There is usually a few details that you must agree to before they select you as a host such as agreeing to invite a minimum number of guests, providing pictures of the party, and sharing the products they provide with the guests. 

I am so excited to announce that I was selected as a hostess for the REDBOOK + L’Oreal Happy Hour House Party.  This party features REDBOOK magazine and L’Oreal Paris products.  What a fantastic combination for my very first House Party!! I received my party kit today and I am over the moon with the products they included.  If you take a look through the posts on my blog it’s quite clear that I enjoy my beauty products. So I love, love, love that L’Oreal is one of the hosts of this party and who doesn’t enjoy REDBOOK.

First and foremost, every guest will receive a card for a FREE one year subscription to REDBOOK.  They will also be given a card for another free one year subscription to share with a friend.   Their gift bags will also include a sample of the Age Perfect BB Cream and samples of the Total Repair 5 shampoo, conditioner and damage erasing balm.
They will also receive a .5 fl oz sample of the L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur.   Miracle Blur is the first-of-its-kind Instant Skin Smoother. It’s not a moisturizer or primer: Miracle Blur instantly erases the look of lines, wrinkles and pores. Its unique, cushiony texture blends seamlessly into skin so it instantly looks and feels smooth, leaving a velvet-soft matte finish that lasts all day.  There is also a full size 1.18 fl oz tube of Miracle Blur which will be used for sampling at the party and then I will keep the remainder.
In addition they will receive a L’Oreal Nail Color. Dream color is now at your fingertips with Colour Riche® Nail Color, a gel infused formula that delivers shiny color and 10-day wear*. Available in 42 shades for guaranteed nail envy, the collection represents the hottest trends
and colors from Paris.

The House Party kit also included 2 Color Riche Eye Shadow Quads which will be given as prizes. This new, curated collection of twenty eye shadow compacts has been customized with bold, smoky and essential hues, and specially developed to create not just one eye look, but endless statement looks for your every mood. The top quad is 841 Because I’m Worth It and the bottom quad is 527 Sultry Seductress.
There are also 2 Color Caresse Wet Shine Stains in the kit. It’s a lipstain. It’s a gloss. It’s a soft kiss. It’s all in one. This lightweight lipstain delivers lasting color and shine, with 30% water for the wet shine-look for your lips! Available in 12 lasting shades. I own two of these and they are always in my purse.  They are so easy to wear and they deliver great color. They are quite possibly my favorite L’Oreal product.  The red one is 190 Endless Red and the other one is 185 Lilac Ever After.
Also included in the kit are 2 copies of the book ‘The Paris Wife,’ a black satin REDBOOK cosmetics bag and a copy of REDBOOK magazine.  One book will be given away as a prize and I will keep the second book long enough to read it then I will pass it along for someone else to enjoy. 
As you can see this Happy Hour House Party Kit is loaded with great products and I am so excited to be sharing them with my friends!  Everyone that I have invited is also excited to be getting fantastic swag by attending the party.   The party is scheduled for next Saturday and I will post here to let everyone know how it went.  I think it’s quite clear that House Party is a great website that has a lot to offer.  Go check it out and apply for a party or two so you can host a fabulous party with great products such as this.

All the above products in this House Party Kit were sent to me free for the purpose of hosting a party to feature REDBOOK and L’Oreal Paris.

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Let’s talk Crowdtap

I recently made a post about some of the websites to which I belong. Crowdtap is one of the sites that I am truly enjoying. One of the first things you notice about Crowdtap is their ‘Quick Hits’ which are basically polls asking your opinion, shopping habits, or preferences.  Quick Hits earn points which you can trade in for gift cards.  Based upon your answers to these Quick Hits you can be invited to participate in other programs such as Web Share Challenges, Photo Challenges, Moderated Discussions, Sample and Share Programs, and more. I have not been with Crowdtap for long and I have already participated in several of these programs and challenges. 
When participating in a Web Share challenge you are asked to read through or watch a video, a blog post, or an advertisement.  If you find the information appealing and relevant, you are asked to share it on your social media sites.  Once you meet the minimum required clicks from your social media sites you are given more points once again.
A Photo Challenge is really simple. You are required to upload a photo which you have taken onto Crowdtap or another designated website.  There are specifics which detail what the photo should contain but they are usually simple and straight forward. Again you are given point for participating and selected top photos are given a larger sum of points.  Below is my submission for the Mastercard Photo Challenge for the #LoveThisCity promotion.
Mastercard photo challenge
A Moderated Discussion provides specific questions to which you are allowed to submit one response.  You are allowed and encouraged to comment on the responses others post.  Again the top posts will be given a large sum of points. The red arrow in the photo below points to my picture!! Yep, my response was selected as for a top award and I received 15,000 points! YAY!!
A Sample and Share is exactly what it sounds like. You are sent multiple quantities of a select product to sample and to share with your family and friends. Even though I haven’t been a member very long, I was selected to participate in the Woolite Sample and Share program.  I recently received a box of 10 single loads of Woolite. I am keeping a few for myself and sharing several with my family and friends.  These samples also come with a coupon!!  I merely have to complete a simple report in exchange for receiving the samples. 
I am really enjoying the Crowdtap website.  I think there are a lot of positives about the site and it keeps things interesting which makes you want to sign in multiple times a day.  Plus you earn points pretty quickly; I have already cashed out some of my points for a $10 gift card.  A huge plus to Crowdtap is the fact that you can use your points to make a donation to one of several charities. I have chosen ‘To Write Love On Her Arms” as my selected charity as I know a couple of young women who have struggled with cutting. 
Although I have not received any full sized products from them I am enjoying everything about the site. I love that they work with a large variety of manufacturers and the content is continually changing and is always entertaining. I like that there is no pressure to participate in any program. I cannot say enough good things about Crowdtap.  If you enjoy interactive discussions, talking about products and getting products for free then give Crowdtap a try. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Budget Beauty, Milani Color Statement Lipstick

This week (Mar 14-20, 2013) CVS is having a great sale on Milani Color Statement Lipstick for Extra Care Card holders. If you don't have an Extra Care Card, you can easily obtain one from any CVS by asking the cashier.  This week only the Milani Color Statement lipstick is just $3.69!! They normally sell around $5.50 which is still a great price for such a fantastic product.  However, this sale price is amazing and it gets even better.  CVS is offering $2.00 Extra Bucks back on your receipt.  It's a total of almost $4.00 in savings.  It's like paying only $1.69!!  If you miss out on this incredible bargain CVS regularly has a buy one get one half off sale on Milani.
The Milani Color Statement Lipstick is a bargain at IMG_9461$5.50 because it's pigmented, opaque, creamy and wears well.   But it's a STEAL at $1.69.  The package is simply gorgeous and the formula is a dream.  It is not a stain but it wears well and feels smooth on the lips.  I wouldn't say it is moisturizing but it doesn't dry my lips out.  It does go on very opaque but it does feel a little thick on the lips which doesn't bother me.  A quick search of YouTube will reconfirm that this is a popular lipstick with predominantly favorable qualities.  Many will explain that the scent is fruity or sweet. While there is a hint of something sweet I find it to smell like lipstick.  But I am not that is bothered or impressed with the smell of any lipstick. My desire is that a lipstick perform well rather than smell good.
The Color Statement name was an extremely appropriate name as these lipsticks aren’t for IMG_9457the feint of heart. The colors are bold and definitely make a statement.  Milani offers an excellent color range. I highly recommend you spend some time looking at some swatches online as the lipsticks are sealed.  Although the pictures in the post seem to show that the indicator on the bottom of  tube runs pretty true,  I have found that the color of the lipstick tends to be a tad darker than the indicator.  So keep this in mind when you are shopping, especially if you are terribly fair like I am.
I had previously purchased two, 29 Teddy Bare and 17 Plumrose, of the Milani Color Statement lipsicks so my purchase of 26 Nude Creme was the third in my IMG_9468collection. These are a small selection from the lighter shades in the line.  While Plumrose and Teddy Bare are not an everyday go to color for me I am thoroughly enjoying them. I have found that they are pushing me closer to the edges of my comfort zone which is quite nice actually.   I will advise you that am extremely fair and wear MAC NC 15.  I cannot say enough great things about this line of lipsticks.  If you are looking for a quality opaque lipstick, you need look no further than the Milani Color Statement line. It would be an amazing lipstick at any price but the affordability of this lipstick makes it too good to pass up!

Top: Without Flash

Chronic Chiari, Appearance and Attitude

Our attitude is the biggest asset we have in combating the emotional struggles of having a chronic illness.  There are times when I feel like my Chiari symptoms are out of control; but, I refuse to let that equate to my life being out of control.  Last night for instance, with difficulty I managed to survive work and make it home.  As soon as I got in the door, I experienced a black out and any plans for my evening flew right out the window.  I managed to eat some dinner and then went to directly to bed early.  This morning I am sluggish and suffering from brain fog.  It's times like these that I must remember to keep my attitude in check.  It would be easy to play the woe is me game but I refuse to live my life on those terms.   So one of my favorite quotes is by Charles Swindoll and it's a great reminder to focus only on the things we can control.
"The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
IMG_9048_thumb[4]So what do we on those days when we wake up and just feel awful? For me, I get dressed, put on my makeup and do my hair.  Looking better helps me feel better.  Confession time, I have entirely too much makeup.  But I see it as ammunition for defending my happiness against a fearsome foe, Chiari Malformation.  I enjoy the act of sitting at my makeup table, taking care of my skin, applying my makeup and doing my hair.  Typically it takes me about 90 minutes to get ready. I know it's excessive but it's what I do.  Now, I will tell you that I have plenty of beauty problems, like my skin is too red, my hair is too thin and its frizzy.  But I don't let that stop me from enjoying the process. I find that it puts me in a better mood.

Now, this can bring forth another problem. Money! I know that medical bills can typically eat away at a chronic girl's budget. So, I really enjoy finding great products at affordable prices. IIMG_9476 don't care what label the product carries.  After all, who can tell what brand of black eyeliner you're wearing? I care about how the product performs. When I can find a great product at a great price I snatch it up.  Don't get me wrong, I love MAC, Urban Decay, Two Faced, Tarte and many other premier brands.  But I can't always afford them.  So finding drugstore alternatives that preform like high end products is like winning the lottery. I love sharing these gems so expect to see more products to help my chronic and healthy friends feel beautiful.  Now, I am by no means an expert. I’m just a sick woman that likes to use beauty products as a form of therapy.
Last night as I was making my usual internet rounds. I saw that my dear friend, Adrienne, had posted this video on Facebook. Several years ago Dove began their Real Beauty campaign designed to help every woman feel beautiful. This video from Dove tells the story of how women view themselves.  This video explains self image  so effectively and so beautifully.  I beg each of my readers to take a few moments and to watch this video.

My wish for everyone is that they find a way to feel beautiful and special regardless of what their body doing or what challenges they face in life.  Keeping a positive attitude and embracing the love that life has to offer is what makes life worthwhile.  It's not about what we can or can't do, it's about how we love each other and how we love ourselves.  I refuse to let my insanely long list of medical problems dictate the quality of my life.  I will embrace feeling good about myself and finding the beauty in others.  I pray that you are successful in doing so as well. <3 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ipsy, Is It Worth It? Apr 2013

Ipsy is a monthly beauty subscription service started by Michelle Phan.. For $10 a month, ‬Ipsy will mail you a bag containing beauty products to sample and enjoy. The theme for April’s Ipsy glam is Pretty in Pink which brings to mind spring flowers, floral prints and fresh pastel colors. My bag arrived yesterday in the midst of an unusual early spring ice storm. Included in this month’s bag is Healthy Sexy Hair Treatment , Be a Bombshell Blush,  Two Cosmetics Eyeshadow Duo and Sation Nail Polish. As usual, there is also a cute purse size cosmetics bag in which to carry all this month’s goodies.  I will admit that I love pink; therefore, this bag did not disappoint.
003 Ipsy 0413The first full sized product in the bag is Sation Nail Polish in Love at First Byte. It’s a creamy peach color which is perfect for Spring and compliments my fair skin. I was excited when I saw this product since I love trying all sorts of brands of nail polish. Sadly, I found that this polish was not as opaque as I would have liked.  There are two coats of polish on the top picture and even with three it still wasn’t completely opaque.  I adore the color so I will use this over a flesh toned opaque polish.  The Sation Nail Polish in Love at First Byte. retails for $3.50.
002 Ipsy 0413Next up is the Be a Bombshell Blush in Sweet Cheeks which I am going to assume is full sized at 5 grams. The website lists the price at $16.00 but does not list product size. This blush is very creamy and silky with great pigmentation. We fair skinned girls will need to use a light touch with this blush. Usually I prefer matte blushes and this one is a shimmer but doesn’t have glitter.  But I am open to giving it an honest try as the color is truly beautiful.
The Two Cosmetics Eyeshadow Duo in Heartache is a fantastic compliment to the 004 Ipsy 0413blush.  Two Cosmetics lists this duo as 1 gorgeous shade in 2 finishes. I found that the matte on the right is a bit darker than the shimmer. But I find both colors equally lovely so that is of no consequence to me. The colors are moderately pigmented and buildable.  The texture is blendable and smooth but not overly creamy.  Super creamy shadows can be too easy to blend away or end up looking muddy. So I find the texture of these quite nice.  The top swatch is with no primer and the bottom is with primer both with flash.  The middle is with no flash and no primer. This is a full sized sample and retails for a $6.99.

The final two little gems are the Healthy Sexy Hair Soy 005 Ipsy 0413Renewal and the bag itself.  It’s a cute white bag with a pink patent detail at the zipper. I was concerned about the bag being white but the material cleans quite easily. So no worries.  The Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal claims to be nourishing styling treatment made with Moroccan Argan Oil that addresses moisture, frizz, smoothness, elasticity and shine concerns. Also protects from environmental stresses and reduces drying time. The full size retails for $19.99 which gives this .85 fl. oz. sample a value of approximately $4.00.  I have not yet tried this sample but Sexy Hair has never disappointed me yet.
001 Ipsy 0413
By my calculations Ipsy’s April ‘Pretty in Pink’ bag is valued at over $30.00 and I extremely happy with this months products.  So I would say that April’s bag is definitely worth the $10.00 subscription fee.  I can honestly say that I would never have purchased the Sation Polish, the Be a Bombshell blush or the Two Cosmetics eyeshadows as I have never heard of these products. I can assure you that I would not spend $16.00 on a blush from an unfamiliar manufacturer. But I love that I get the opportunity to try them and more for a reasonable price. Well done Ipsy! Thanks for making my Spring ‘Pretty in Pink.” 

These products were purchased by myself with the intend to enjoy them. Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your daily dose of positivity.

Ipsy, Is It Worth It? May 2013
Ipsy, Is It Worth It? Apr 2013
Ipsy, Is It Worth It? Mar 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What’s better than cheap? FREE!

**UPDATED: June 18, 2013**

You’ve probably figured out by now that I enjoy a bargain.  I truly enjoy clipping coupons and paying less than retail for products that I know I will enjoy.  In my search for the next best bargain I have discovered a few interesting websites. I thought I would take this opportunity to to pass along these websites to my readers. 

BzzAgent is an innovative “word of mouth’ website that allows their agents to try products for free in exchange for their honest feedback on the product.  They match their agents with manufacturers target demographics through simple surveys. When an agent fits the target demographic they are sent a product or coupon for a free product. After sampling the product the agent is asked to provide feedback via the BzzAgent website, Facebook, Twitter and other websites. You are not obligated to participate and can decline any campaign you are offered before they send the product to you.  So far, I have participated in four campaigns and received Garnier Olia Hair Color, Pennington Smart Feed Sprayer SystemAMDRO Powerflex Weed and Pest System and Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles free.
I have been an inactive member of Influenster for almost a year. Influenster claims to turn your social influence into rewards.  I am aware through youtube and blogs that Influenster does a great job of sending “Vox Boxes” to members that meet certain criteria.  The cool thing about Influenster is that it allows you to choose 5 areas of expertise which best suits your lifestyle. So the products you receive will be relevant to you and not some useless nonsense you have no use for.  So far, I have received the Spring Fling Vox Box and the Palmolive Vox Box.
Smiley360 is an interesting website that allows you to participate in missions which can include trying new products.  They encourage their members to share their opinions on all types of products even if you are not actively participating in a mission.  I am currently on the “I joined Smiley360” mission and the “Ready for Love” mission featuring a new television dating show.  I have received Advil Cold and Sinus and Emergen-C full size samples from Smiley360.  However, I will admit that I enjoy reading and writing product reviews, participating in Twitter parties and completing other activities as required.

I am thoroughly enjoying Crowdtap! If I never received anything from Crowdtap I would still participate. I love that Crowdtap allows to donate your points to charity in the form of a monetary donation. That alone is enough to bring me back time and again. I truly enjoy answering their ‘Quick Hits’ surveys.  I like that they also do webshare challenges, photo challenges, moderated discussions and so on.  There is always something interesting going on at Crowdtap.  I have yet to receive anything from Crowdtap but I have been selected to participate in the Woolite sample and share.  I should be receiving my samples and samples for my friends any day now.  I will post on my blog the results of the Woolite sample and share.

Vocalpoint is a wonderful community.  They have an amazing forum that really encourages sharing.  They have places to share stories, reviews, tips, recipes, photos and more. It’s a great community boasting a wealth of resources where people help people.  They do provide samples for product reviews and they also provide goodies for hosting parties.  I have not yet participated in a party or a product review but I enjoy the site anyway.  I think to myself I will just pop on and see if I have any new messages but end up spending an hour on the site. Any products I sample for free because of the site will be a bonus.

Swaggable is a newer website which is still in beta.  The concept is simple.  Sign up via Facebook. You tell .Swaggable which products you’d like to try.  They send you one of your desired products. You review the product and share your review via Facebook.  I have been selected to try an dry shampoo for dogs, hand lotion and 2 salad dressings. Once the product arrives you can find the reviews  at .Swaggable 

I have heard really good things about SheSpeaks and they have a great community.  They offer great forums, reviews, recipes, deals, offers and more. I have completed several reviews on their site because I enjoy reading and writing reviews.   I was selected to participate in the “Share, Love, Celebrate the Best of P&G'” Program.  Proctor and Gamble (P&G) encompasses some great brands as Olay, CoverGirl, Swiffer, Charmin, Tide, Cascade and many, many more.

Tomoson is a fantastic website that matches bloggers with products. Once you register you have access to see what products are searching for bloggers to review their products.  The requirements are clearly labeled so the guesswork is kept to a minimum.  Most of the products are from smaller manufacturers; so you aren’t going to find tons of mainstream products.  But they offer some interesting selections. To be completely honest, I haven’t yet applied to any of their promotions but it looks like they have interesting options once I am ready.

Is a little different from some of the other sites listed above. Sverve offers you an opportunity to monetize your blog.  You promote products via your blog and the manufacturer pays you based on new sales that were generated via your post.  I don’t blog to make money and I don’t have a large readership that would make it worth my while to try to monetize my audience. I have applied for one program which is centered around a smartphone app. I honestly believe the app could be useful and am genuinely interested in the app. I don’t know yet if I have been accepted. You know I’ll keep you informed!
I will admit that I am excited about this one! House Party matches party hosts with great products. As a host, I apply to the parties I find interesting. If selected I agree to host a party around their theme within their timeframe and will receive goodies to share with my party goers. I was just selected to host the Redbook + L’Oreal Paris Happy Hour House Party. They will provide me a party pack to give to my party attendees which will include Redbook Magazine and L’Oreal Miracle Blur.  I’m not gonna lie, I am really stoked for this! Girlfriends, magazine, makeup, drinks, snacks and gossip? Yep, I’m all over it!  I have also applied for a couple of other House Parties but those have not yet been announced.
This website is different than all the others. If you don’t know All You is the Wal-Mart magazine that boasts great articles and awesome coupons.  I subscribe to the magazine and I thoroughly enjoy everything about the magazine. There is a hidden treasure within the All You family, the daily free sample!  Which is available on their website. Once a day just pop over to find out what their free sample for the day is. If you are interested fill out your information and wait by your mail box. So far, I have received  Breathe Right strips, Nexcare bandages, Dove body wash, Godiva chocolates, perfume samples and more. 

Thanks for sticking with me thorough this very long post.  I thought it would be fun to let you guys in on the websites I have been enjoying lately. Remember to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Chronic Chiari: Redefining Ordinary.

As a little girl, my parents worked hard at teaching me that I was special, that I was one of a kind, unique.  While every little girl dreams that she was really born to be a princess living in a castle, I had already determined that there was something that was different about me.  All little girls imagine that the life they are currently living is just what they must endure before their prince comes along a sweeps them off their feet into the magical life they were destined to live. When I was 36, I realized just how special I was and exactly how unique I was created..  Luckily, I had long go realized that my brand of special didn’t include castles or princes. I had always questioned (if only to myself) why things seem to feel so different for me.  I often wondered if other people felt the same things that I felt.  It seems like I was destined to be more restless than others.  I've always had this sense that my version of reality was colored a little differently than everyone else's.
From a very early age, I wondered what it would be like to close my eyes and have my world be still.  I've never known what it feels like to have my body be completely still. Whenever I lie down to sleep my body becomes more active or maybe it's just that I notice it more because I am still.  I envy people that can lie their head on their pillow and drift off to sleep easily.  When my head hits the pillow, I hear things that I shouldn't hear, I see things I shouldn't see and I feel things that I shouldn't feel.  I didn't realize that others get the pleasure of being cocooned in velvety darkness when they attempt to sleep at night.  Instead my sleep battles with a cacophony of bodily processes that most are blissfully unaware of.  Try to imagine the cells of your body being the screen upon which they are projecting Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Just try to imagine how the cells would vibrate from the incredible melodies blasted by the speakers. Imagine the confusion as the colors change wildly from red, purple and blue. Even if you closed your eyes you couldn’t escape the flashes of bright colors being thrown across the screen, across your own body. That is the best way I can describe what every night holds for me.  Quite like Fantasia, It evokes more nightmares than fairytales.

Many youngsters dream of being able to fly like Peter Pan.  I, however, wondered what it would be like to have the ground feel firm beneath my feet.  Whether I am sitting or standing, I have this constant nagging feeling that I am falling backwards. Logically, I know that I am not moving but I have the sensation that I am. For me life has never been firm like concrete.  I’ve never lived in a black and white world.   My reality has always been full of colors, confusion and complexities. I feel like I have been stuck in a swirling, whirling mix of Technicolor sights and Dolby sounds.    The only problem is that Captain Hook, Ursula, Cruella and more are living within me.  My body is the playground for their cruel tricks and harsh pranks.  It’s a difficult reality.  A difficult reality that is my reality.  It’s the only reality I have ever and will ever know.
However, I will never forget that its still a blessing to be able to experience life, no matter how confusing and difficult it is. My illness has taught me many lessons. The most important of which is that the only gift anyone can ever hope to receive from life is happiness. It’s such a simple lesson to learn; but it is so very difficult to live. It’s easy to allow the frustrations of illness interfere with my happiness. So I practice happiness every day. Here is my list of tools to finding happiness.  Practice a few of them yourself to see if they work for you.