Unboxing – Love With Food May

Hello, Interwebz! As I type this, I am listening to The Indicator episode about delayed gratification and am trying to figure out if I will be successful in life. I used to tear into these Love With Food boxes immediately, but now that I write about them, I wait for weeks to open them. If you’ve ever wanted to try the snack box that also donates meals to food banks, then now is a great time. The semi-annual snack sale is going on through June 30, 2018!

This month’s theme is Thrive. It’s a reminder to “not just live, but thrive!” The box flyer also reminds us to be thankful to the people who help us thrive.

As for the contents of the box:

  • (TRUWOMEN) You’re Mocha Me Cocoa Protein Powder – Haven’t tried this yet, but you mix it with water for a chocolately protein drink.
  • (You Love Fruit) Fruit Leather – Yummy, but hard to eat.  They are multiple thin slices of fruit (mine was mango) that you peel off a piece of paper and eat separately.  They were so thin that I couldn’t really chew them and they stuck to my teeth.  Delicious, though!
  • (Stoneridge Orchards) Montmorency Cherries – These cherries are huge!  They are dried and taste like cherries instead of sugar, so that’s good.  I like them alone, in a homemade mixture of dried fruit and almonds, or added to my yogurt.  They would probably be good added in anything and everything.  Chocolate chip cherry cookies, anyone?

  • (MadeGood) Vanilla Crispy Square – I was most surprised by this item.  It is a big puffed rice cereal square with no gelatin/marshmallow in sight.  Seeing as I looooove marshmallows, but I do not eat gelatin, these are absolute heaven for me!  Not as sweet as a typical puffed rice treat either.
  • (Ruger) XOXO Mini Wafer – Kinda like having a shot of cookie instead of a shot of vodka
  • (Salty Road) Passion Fruit Salt Water Taffy – Haven’t tried this yet, but I have had this company’s other taffy flavors in other boxes and they were soft and tasty!

  • (Bacon’s Heir) Pork Clouds – I’m vegetarian and did not eat these.  I’ve had them in boxes before and gave them to my husband, who though they were good and interesting.  This time, I gave them to a coworker who has yet to eat them.

So, that’s it for my May snacking box.  Maybe I’ll be extra motivated and review my June snacking box in June!  As mentioned earlier, the Semi-Annual Snack Sale is going on right now at Love With Food.  If you use code “SASS18” when you buy a plan for at least six months, you can get $10 off and a free box worth $20!

***I am not affiliated with Love With Food and will not get anything from this promotion.  I just enjoy the company’s items and what they support.***

Let me know if you do try Love With Food and what you think about the subscription boxes.  Let me know what you think of any of the snacks you buy on the site too.  Do you subscribe to any other subscription snack boxes?  Would you recommend them?

If you love free stuff, make sure not to miss any of my upcoming blogs.  I will be announcing a giveaway soon from another company that I love.  In the meantime, thanks for reading!

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Review – a.c. care Bee’s Skin Care 2pcs Set

Hello, interwebz! In the last part of my skincare saga, I began a skincare routine to deal with severe acne, pimples, irritation, eczema. After about four days, I switched out products to an even more gentle routine.

This was when I tried the horse oil toner that worked so well. I also used CosRX Acne Pimple Master Patches, which is what really started making a difference on my cystic acne around my nose and chin. Afterwards, I realized that my problem was less of a pimple issue and more of an irritation issue.

I went to the Shiseido store and picked up some cotton squares that don’t fall apart the way the dollar brands do. They didn’t have anything to treat acne or eczema, but I got some samples of products to help with moisture and color spots. I also got an Esfolio Banana Mask to see if it would help. It was amazing! The mask immediately calmed my skin and took away the redness from anything that wasn’t a scab or sore. It smelled like a banana milkshake and the fragrance didn’t bother my skin or nose. Shiseido sunscreen has also been the only sunscreen that I’ve tried so far that hasn’t caused breakouts, has no scent, and withstood my constant sweating in this Texas heat. I used a sample, but will be buying a full size container soon.

Near Shiseido was another Asian beauty store that sold a brand I had never heard of before – a.c. care. I was told that this is what all the teenagers with acne buy because it’s on sale often, whereas Dr. Jart never goes on sale at that store. a.c. care products are supposed to be made with bee venom and other natural ingredients. Buying the treatment set meant that I also got the face cleanser, trial kit, and samples for free. Along with the “buy 10, get 7” masks deal, I believe everything came to a little less than $94. I had never spent that much money on beauty products in my life! I have always tried to stick to the $5 and under range, but I was desperate. Ben ended up buying it all for me as my Mother’s Day gift and we joked about me getting a new face for Mother’s Day.

Now, you may be thinking, “Hey idiot! How is bee venom any better than horse oil?!” It’s not. When the sales woman said, “bee venom”, I thought, “bee spit”. It might be a little gross, but that’s basically honey, and I knew that honey was good for my skin. Stupidity is no excuse, though.

When I read the ingredients lists, most of the products had bee’s venom at the end of the ingredients list. That made me feel better because we were basically paying for the words on the box and not the actual venom. However, I did decide to write up the first five ingredients in every product and link them to reports on how good or bad the ingredients are (see the end of my post). Some of the links provided are easier to read and understand than the actual research papers I read on them. Most of the ingredients actually weren’t very natural and has questionable side effects. I didn’t want horse meat on my face, but I was willing to try butylene flycol and denatured alcohol to see if they might give me some relief.

***None of the photos of myself have been edited in any way other than cropping.  This is me in all of my inflamed skin glory.***

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After three weeks of using this stuff, I do think it’s helping. Pimples aren’t really an issue anymore, just the inflammation, texture, and sores. The eczema is all over my neck, chest, and back too. I even have spots of it on my fingers. So, I think the heat is aggravating my eczema all over. I have seen improvements on my face and neck in terms of calming new irritations. I have no new cystic acne and have slow improvement on parts of the eczema. I have a bad habit of picking at my skin during the day and don’t even realize what I’m doing until my hands are bloody. So, that is not helping. Mostly, I am trying to be consistent and patient. Surprisingly enough, my new skincare routine seems to be working.

***I only researched the first five ingredients on each list because they will be the most concentrated. Afterwards, you’re usually looking at ingredients in the 1% or less range. That is a negligible amount unless you are highly allergic to a specific ingredient.***

Two Piece Set plus free Cleanser

a.c. care Bee’s Pure Skin Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Alcohol Denat., Glycereth-26

a.c. care Bee’s Moist Lotion Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Glycerin, Cabbage Rose Flower Water

a.c. care Bee’s Foaming Cleanser Ingredients: Water, Stearic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Lauric Acid

a.c. care Bee’s Trial Set

Contents of set: Bee’s Foam Cleanser, Bee’s Water Essence, Bee’s Spot Serum, Bee’s Control Cream, Bee’s Shield B.B. Cream

Bee’s Water Essence Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat, Propanediol, Glycereth-26

Bee’s Spot Serum Ingredients: Water, Alcohol Denat, Butylene Glycol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer

Bee’s Control Cream Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin

Bee’s Shield B.B. Cream Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Dimethicone Copolyol, Titanium Dioxide

Planning – June and Week of 6.4.18

Hello, interwebz! I’ve been a bit delayed in planning. Summer weather is in full swing in Texas, so I wake up with a 50/50 chance of being able to get out of bed each day. Luckily, I was able to get some planning done this week! I prepared my calendars for the month of June as well as the current week.

I gathered all of my materials, including a new Playful Icons scrapbook paper bundle that I got at Tuesday Morning for $2.99! I didn’t really have any specific theme in mind because my brain was a bit fried from the heat.

The paper bundle came with some stickers, and I found a few that went well with June/summer. There was already a lot written on the pages, so I just worked around it.

Then, I found some trim in the paper bundle that I wanted to use as borders. I used my handy craft knife to slice up the paper. I cut over the calendar paper without thinking and accidentally cut the calendar pages. Luckily, the pages are thick, so I didn’t slice all the way through the calendar pages. Lesson learned.

Since I hadn’t used my flamingo washi yet, I decided that it would be the perfect addition to this month. I followed that up with die cuts and some magazine clippings from my collection.

Moving on to my weekly calendar, I knew that I wanted to mostly use stickers. One of my good work friends has a birthday this week, so I spelled his name out in stickers. I left a lot of space and notes stickers to record info on work, health, events, etc. I plopped on some cute stickers with positive messages and was done. I’m looking for daily reminders that, despite my health problems, life is still good!

So, what did you think of these flamingo spreads? Do you prefer using stickers or die cuts and Glue Dots? Let me know if you have any suggestions on surviving triple digit summers in Texas!

Skincare Haul & Review – Silicone Applicator, Guerisson 9-Complex Toner, Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam, and Ample: N Hyaluron Shot Cream

Hello, interwebz!  I am addicted to Korean skincare and the multi-step skincare method.  In this post, I’ll show you what I did to deal with the acne breakout that happened after I used BB cream that my skin did not like.  Eventually, the pimples turned into eczema and it has become a whole disaster that I’m trying to deal with in the cheapest, yet most effective, way possible.

***None of the pics of me are touched up in any way.  I just cropped them so that you can focus on the natural anger of of skin.  With irritation like this, who needs blush?***

Here are some products that I ordered for this post.  Because my skin is so fussy, I try new items one at a time so that I can see how it works before incorporating a grander scheme.  Only the cleansing foam was actually used the night the photos were taken, but I do include my reviews below on the other products.

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I got the applicator for less than $2 from WalMart when we were visiting my in-laws.  I ordered the Guerisson 9-Complex Toner, Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam, and the Ample: N Hyaluron Shot Cream on Amazon.  These were some of the first Korean skincare products that I’ve tried and I started, as always, with the cheapest stuff.  Everything from Amazon was under $10 with Prime shipping.  After a week of using the Guerisson toner, I realized that it was made with horse oil, which is not like tiger balm or horse shampoo.  Horse oil is not made from plants and is not used on horses, but is a byproduct of processing horse meat.  The Guerisson toner worked better than the toner I used in this post, but I couldn’t continue rubbing horse innards on my face.  I also found out that something in the Ample:  N Hyaluron Cream irritates the skin on my eyes.  I used it for three nights and my skin was okay, but my eyelids were puffy.  My right eyelid was so puffed up that I could only open my eye halfway and I eventually developed eczema on that eye.  So, I’m not sure if the eczema was in reaction to the cream or if it was already there and the cream made it worse, but I have put the Hyaluron Cream aside for now and will try it again when my skin clears up completely.  I haven’t actually used the applicator on any face masks yet, but I have used it on every cream and lotion that comes in a tub.  I’m paranoid about adding germs to the creams and changing the way they work, so this $2 solution was great!

Here is my face before I washed it.  You can see the biggest pimples and quite a bit of redness.  I should’ve taken a picture of the side of my face too because it was red and irritated.  I also needed to dye my gray hairs, but wanted to try to soothe my skin a bit before I added harsh chemicals to my head.

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Here are the items that I actually used for this post.

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For the last year or two, I have basically been washing my face with water and putting aloe gel on it before bed or any time that it starts feeling dry.  I knew I’d have to change things when I started wearing makeup, but I didn’t anticipate having such a crazy reaction from my skin so soon.  The Korean skincare system has been the only thing that seems to work right now, and this was my first attempt at most of the steps.  This video from Beauty Within, this one from The Beauty Breakdown, and this one from Gothamista are some of my favorite skincare routine videos.  I have the products above in the order that I used them.

  1. Kopari Coconut Cleanser
  2. Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam
  3. Sephora Pink Clay Mask
  4. Dickinson’s Pore Perfecting Toner
  5. Aura Cacia Tea Tree Oil
  6. Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  7. Sample of Avon Anew Clinical Eye Lift Pro Dual Eye System

First, I cleansed with an oil to really break down any goop, sweat, moisturizer, sunscreen, etc.

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Then, I used the cleansing foam to really clean everything off of my skin.  When I first heard about double cleansing, I thought it was crazy, but now I get it.  Two different cleansers for two different reasons.  The green tea cleanser comes out rather creamy and you work it into a foam by adding water to your hands and rubbing the cleanser between them.  The instructions didn’t say this, so I tried to put it on dry skin without anything else first.  It worked much better after adding water.

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The cleanser was supposed to be calming, but it stung a bit since I had so many open sores on my face.  However, I didn’t feel squeaky clean afterwards, which meant that it was not stripping my skin of essential oils and would not tell my skin to overproduce sebum for more pimples.

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I followed up the foam with a clay mask to try to pull extra junk from my pores.  I just want all the junk out so that I am not piling good ingredients on top of pimple goo in my pores.  The mask is something that I only use once or twice a week.  I used it instead of an exfoliator because it was less irritating to my skin than a physical or chemical exfoliant would have been.  This specific mask doesn’t dry either, which I have noticed my skin likes more than the ones that dry on your face.

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Instead of rinsing off the mask over the sink, I went ahead and took a shower.  I like to take showers at night because it helps cool down my body in these brutal Texas summers. (It’s technically spring, but when you’re hitting 100 degree weather, it’s summer no matter the date.)  Washing off the mask during my shower meant that I didn’t have to worry about getting it all out of my hair or getting the mask on the bathroom counter.  Win-win!

Next, I put some toner onto a cotton pad and swiped my skin lightly with it.  This step is supposed to prepare your skin to accept the active ingredients that will be treating problems.  This toner is super cheap and works well, but it wasn’t doing much for my eczema issue, so I switched to something else a week or two later.  After the toner, I patted tea tree oil onto my pimples.  Normally, you’re supposed to use a carrier oil to dilute the tea tree oil so that it’s not so strong.  With the giant pimples I had, I did not want to add any extra oils that were not going to work specifically towards clearing my skin.  I don’t use the tea tree oil unless I have crazy pimples like this, so it didn’t really bother my skin, but it did nothing to help my eczema on my cheeks.  As a moisturizer, I used coconut oil.  I used the silicone applicator to spoon out a little oil and pat it all over my face and neck.  Overnight, it soaked into my skin to moisturize and calm my skin while treating acne (or at least pulled the gunk to the surface to remove from the pimple).  Finally, I tried my samples of Anew eye cream for night.  I don’t think it did any good, but it didn’t do any bad, either.  I didn’t have an allergic reaction and my skin was smooth.  So, I guess it worked well.

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Overall, I think you can see how much calmer my skin was at the end of the skincare routine than it was at the beginning.  If you are looking into Korean skincare or even just trying to calm down angry skin, then the items used in this post should work pretty well for most people.  Even though I have very sensitive and combination skin with eczema, none of the items I used were bad for anyone with dry, oily, combo, or sensitive skin.  You always have to try things out for yourself to see.  I definitely saw a difference in my skin after doing this routine for a couple of days.

Thanks for reading this long post!  Have you tried any of the products mentioned in this post?  Do you think you’d try skincare products made with horse oil?  What are your favorite tips for calming down angry skin and clearing up pimples?  Let me know in the comments!

Planning – Week of 5.14.18

Hello, interwebz! Today, I have a planning post for you. There aren’t as many pictures as I normally post because I recorded a video of this and took pictures for possible thumbnails. Then, I lost of all of it. Then, I found everything. I don’t have time to edit the video, though. So, I’m going to try to do a June video, but I still wanted to get this one up on the blog.

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First up, I wanted to show you an end of the week pic of my planner. I left lots of empty space for doodling, but I ended up being so busy that I didn’t get to doodle. You can see how much I add in here other than just my planned events. I use my journal to track health info, work hours, etc. it’s a record of my life, one week at a time.

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For the new week, I kept things pretty simple because I was doing the video. Again, I wanted to leave room for doodling. So, I brought out my washi and stickers.

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I had some new mini binder clips that I got from Tuesday Morning. These work well in my planner as a marker for the current week by helping me find the current week when I open up the journal.

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Above is my finished before the pen spread. I left lots of space for recording my week as well as any other notes that I needed. I finally got to use my Japanese washi from Daiso. I really could have used a vacation to Japan at that point. That week, exhaustion hit me pretty hard. I think my body was starting to realize that I am back on the day shift and it’s not just temporary. Plus, the temperature outside was getting into the triple digits. I don’t do well in the heat. Exhaustion and migraines have become my two best friends until it starts to cool off in November (I hope!)

Lastly, there’s the end of the week pic. My week was full and I was exhausted. My in-laws were in town (an hour away on the opposite side of the metroplex), so my husband had to drive out there after work every day that they were here to show them where to eat for dinner. That meant that I didn’t get to see my husband much, but I also didn’t have to feel guilty for being exhausted and having a headache all week. I was also oncall, which makes me feel stressed and guilty. That was a hard week and I was grateful when it was over.

Next time, I hope to have a planning video up with the blog post. What do you think about my sparsely decorated planner? What do you do to cope with exhaustion? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Beauty Haul and Reviews – Sephora, Target, Daiso, and Marshall’s

Hello, interwebs! Let me begin this post by saying that I do not have a lot of money and did not get all of these things at the same time. This is stuff that I got over the course of about two months from various stores. Also, I got all of this stuff before I went to Daiso the last time, but the pics were originally lost. With my sensitive skin, there is a lot of trial and error, mostly error, so I thought this post would still be beneficial to anyone wondering where to find skincare products for sensitive skin, how much they cost, and if they work.

This Caudalie set was actually my free birthday gift from Sephora last year, but I never used it. I still haven’t tried it, but will soon because it fits into the Korean skincare routine. I only add one new product to my skin regime at a time, so I may try these in a few weeks.

Christina gave me this gift set of Soap & Glory Heel Genius and Hand Food. The foot cream has urea, so the smell bugs me. I slather it on my feet before bed and put on socks, though, so I don’t really smell it. I really like the hand cream, even if the grape seed oil bothers my nose. It doesn’t help the eczema on my thumb and forefinger, but it doesn’t make the eczema worse either. As far as softening your skin, both products do a pretty good job. These do contain parabens and sulfates in addition to the urea, so I won’t be buying them when I finish these. I am grateful for the quick relief on my sore skin, though. They are available at Sephora, Ulta, Target, and Amazon for under $10.

After deciding to try the Korean Skincare Routine, I figured that I should stop at Daiso. Why start with the expensive stuff if the cheap products will work? I got a beauty blender because I wanted to try it when I start working with liquid makeup. I thought it might only take a few weeks to heal my skin and then I’d move on to finding the right makeup for my skin, but I was wrong. The first thing I tried was the coconut mask and it was amazing! It soothed my skin, healed some sores, and moisturized. It didn’t remove the giant pimples even though it brought them closer to the surface, making them easier to treat with other products. I use the charcoal wipes when I get home from work or any other time that my skin is itching and hurting. I start picking at my skin if I can’t soothe it, and the wipes have been good for calming my skin between washes. The concealer stick was okay. It’s the exact same color as my skin and blends easily. It doesn’t make blemishes or the circles under my eyes disappear, but it doesn’t settle in wrinkles, lines, or pores either. Most importantly, it does not break out my skin. I’ll keep using it for now, but will need to find something better later. I haven’t tried the vitamin E mask or charcoal blotting papers yet , but I’m sure they will be fine. Overall, I was surprised with how well these Daiso products worked, considering none of them was more than $3.

On a shopping trip at Target, I picked up some Biore Charcoal Pore Strips on sale ( box of 6 for $5.99) and Shea Moisture Smooth and Tame Treatment Masques on clearance. I’ve used Biore pore strips before, but not the charcoal strips. I think the charcoal pore strips I got at Daiso worked better than these. The other kinds of Biore strips worked better for me than these too. The box I got came with a single packet of Biore Charcoal Self-Heating One Minute Mask. I had tried the non-charcoal mask before and liked it, but I’m not sure if the heat was good for my eczema. My face always feels clean, but soft after those masks, though. Using the masks before the strips actually works better. I think the heat opens your pores, making it easier for the strips to grab gunk from them. I haven’t tried the Shea Moisture hair treatments yet because I prefer to use them after dyeing my hair. These were on clearance for $.64 and I couldn’t pass up such a deal! The Shea Moisture packs have no sulfates, parabens, pthalates, don’t test on animals, etc. This is more like the type of beauty products I try to buy when I’m not desperate for solutions to my skin problems.

When Sephora had their VIB sale in April, I went with Christina to check out the deals. I found a Sephora Pink Clay mask that was $8 for 4 treatments. I thought the pink clay might help soothe my skin. Christina ended up buying it for me, along with “the best beauty blender on the market” and a mo fo Glam Glo Glittermask!!! I argued with her about buying all this stuff, but she said that she wanted to treat me. I have only used the pink clay mask so far, but it does a decent job of calming my skin.

For all of the birthdays and holidays in May, I stopped by Marshalls to try to find some nice gifts at low prices. While there, I picked up a few things for myself. I bought the Jeunesse Anti-Aging Treatment ($5.99) and the Mon Amie Rose & Collagen Face Serum ($5.99) as items to try for moisturizing steps in my new skincare routine. Collagen is known for helping your skin retain its elasticity and rose oil is a mild moisturizer. I haven’t tried the Jeunesse moisturizer yet, but the rose & collagen serum works well and doesn’t seem to clog my pores. It also seems to calm my skin well. As much as I have loved that oil, the Earth Therapeutics Bamboo Natural Bristle Paddle Brush ($4.99) was a huge disappointment. That brush is trash! The bristles fell out on the first use and were not able to reach my scalp. I will admit that the brush did not make my hair frizzy, but I only brush my hair before I wash it (2-3 times a week). #CurlyHairGirlRules If it can’t even reach all my hair, who cares about pre-bathing frizz? I’m going to use this one on the cats.

Overall, I spent less than $40 on all of the products above even though they are worth more than that. It helped that Christina bought the most important things, but she also gets to enjoy all the bonus points! Have you bought any new beauty products lately? Do you try multiple new skin products at the same time or do you tend to ease into new items? Let me know in the comments section!

Daiso Haul May 2018

Hello Interwebz!  Surprisingly, I found all of my lost photos and videos on my SD card after I put it back into the camera and used the camera a few times.  What?!  I count myself lucky and am so grateful to have found my lost hard work.  I’d like to thank Dumb Luck for making this post possible.

Once again, I found myself at Daiso and bought everything I could carry in one armload.  I only dropped something once and was able to pick it up with my pinky finger.  Everything in this post was less than $27 including tax.  Daiso does not allow refunds or exchanges, but their stuff is so cheap and pretty decent quality that it’s not really worth the time or effort to return things anyway.  I have yet to be displeased with anything I got there.  Also, I have been looking for most of this stuff for months after seeing and not getting them and then seeing raving reviews for them online.

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The gel pens and colored pencils in the background were things I already had, but everything else was from this trip.  I also got a few things that are not pictured because they didn’t have anything to do with any of my beauty, skincare, or art projects and were put to use before I even started taking pictures for this post.

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Beneath these pens was my lingerie bag.  I recently bought some brassieres on Bare Necessities and want to take care of them since they were a bit pricey (by my standards).  If you don’t know what Bare Necessities is or would like a review post about the site, let me know.  Moving on, the bag has worked well so far and was only $1.50, much cheaper than every other lingerie I’ve had.  You can also see my new brush pens, kneadable eraser (had to knead it before I snapped pics), and an ink pen.  The Daiso by me carries three varieties of these Zebra brush pens and I already had one.  I have been looking for the other two, but never found them until this trip.  The kneadable eraser is scented like fake pineapple, but I saw it in a review video on YouTube and it worked well, so I have been on the lookout for it.  The ink pen was also on my list after seeing a review of it on YouTube.  It was the most expensive thing I bought, at a whopping $5, but it’s supposed to work pretty well.  I’ll be testing them out and posting about them in a later post.

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Here, we have paint brushes, a facial exfoliator, and an acrylic face massager.  One of the dudes I follow on YouTube said that most of the brushes that he used in his videos were from the [Japanese] dollar store, so I wanted to try these.  The face massager and exfoliator are things I see used alot in Asian skincare videos and I have been wanting to try them without spending too much money because I never know how my skin will react.  The physical exfoliator is rubber and is pretty gentle on my face.  I use it mostly in the shower either to wash off an oil cleanser or after washing off a clay mask.  The massager is acrylic rather than jade, which is what I see all over the internet.  It does the job, though.  I’m still working on the method, but I could tell my face looked less bloated all over after using it for a few days in a row.  So, maybe there is something to this massaging method.

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I think that I may have been most excited about the new organization accessories that I bought.  I’m not really a pink girl, but I wanted these items to match.  They actually helped me carry things around the store, so the items proved their use even before I bought them.  Originally, I wanted to buy mini drawers to store my masks.  Then, I remembered my lessons from the Clutter Bug – I need visual organization.  If something is not in my face and easy to access, I will not use it.  So, I decided on organizing my skincare in a way that I could see and access items easily.

Gardening – April and May

Hello interwebz!  I haven’t done a post on gardening or yard work in over a month and our plants are going crazy.  Because of the heat and random downpours, some of the plants are growing quickly and others are frightened and wilting.

Back in March, we had some friends over for a cookout and used the grill that came with the house for the first time since we bought the house.  I cleaned up the grill and Ben made sure everything worked.

It was around this time that I realized that I had been so concerned about the plants that we hadn’t really taken care of the rest of the backyard.  Since moving in, we have had phone, internet, electric, and cement workers digging up parts of the backyard to fix various problems.  Our yard is xeriscaped, or it was.  After all of the workers coming and going over the past few years, they have really done a number on the xeriscaping and anything else that got in the way.

I think this is the best example of the electric workers tossing aside the xeriscaping and then throwing things back on top.  You can still see where the rocks are askew.

We really need to work on the yard.  It’s more difficult to do now that it’s gotten so hot.  I did get the mulching started in April.  You can see where I added leaves to the pile, where there were already leaves that fell IN MARCH onto the yard, and where the acorns that fell from the tree have already started growing into small trees.  I’ve been thinking about seeing if any of the plant nurseries around here want to buy these tree saplings from us.  We have to dig them out and throw them away each year because we can’t deal with a forest in our backyard in the suburbs.

Our sad little rose bush from March started doing well in April.

By May, we had some flowers in full bloom!  I did end up cutting these so that new buds could grow and bloom, but wow!  In less than one month, we went from a dying rose bush to blooming roses.

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The plants that I repotted for my stepmom aren’t doing well.  They’re still alive, but I think the storms have taken a toll.  They were drooping pretty low in April.

By May, they needed alot of help.  I need to look into how to revive these.  I may need to bring them inside, but I’d have to hide them from the cats. I’m not sure if this is from too much sun or from the bad weather we had.  Also, Pad Kee likes to sneak outside and chew on them when Ben or I open the back door.

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In the planter where the lawn guys pulled out all of the mulch and plants in March, there is new growth!  Leftover Jasmine vines are growing as well as some of those acorn trees I mentioned earlier.  Those things grow everywhere!

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My other big planter in the backyard is now barren.  I have no idea what happened with the plants inside.  I have an inkling that it might have been our friend’s kids because they disappeared after the girls were playing in the backyard.  I didn’t say anything before they went into the backyard, so I couldn’t get mad.  I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do with this planter now.

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So, that’s our backyard right now.  The front yard has some new growth where I trimmed back all of the bushes, too. These are from April after doing nothing to them.

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The plants in the foreground have since been removed by our yard guys for some reason unbeknownst to me. They used to do a better job. Maybe this is why our neighbors don’t use them anymore…

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I lost other photos, so I’ll try not to lose anything for the update for June. Hopefully, everything will still be in bloom and not dried up and dead at that point. Thanks for reading! Do you work on your yard or have people do it for you? What kinds of challenges do you have with local weather?

Review – L’oreal True Match Naturale Mineral Foundation Powder & L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream

Hello, interwebz!  First of all, I’m very disappointed as I type this because I lost a boat load of photos for the blog and had 20 minutes of video for my first vlog post.  I did manage to rescue some of the photos, but all of the videos are gone, including one of my son’s spring band concert.  The last two photos on this post were taken last minute on my iPad in crappy lighting because my other photos were lost.  I’m trying to focus on the bright side of things and decided to work with what I have so that I could still put up a post I’ve been working on for awhile.  So, slap on a smile and here we go!

The Short of It:

L’oreal True Match Natural Mineral Foundation Powder worked great with my eczema even while in the humid Texas heat.  L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream tore my skin apart.

The Long of It:

***None of the pics of my face have been touched up in anyway so that you can see the true dorkiness and skin conditions.***

I decided to try some new beauty and skincare products one at a time so that if anything bothered my skin, I would have an easy time figuring out who was the culprit.  So far, Kopari face oil worked well on cleaning my face without breaking me out or bothering my eczema.  I was ready to move on to a foundation since that is what goes under all other makeup.  I had heard good things about L’oreal True Match Naturale Mineral Foundation Powder and was eager to try it.  I tried color Nude Beige (W3) since I have yellow undertones and the color matched pretty well.  The kabuki brush that comes with the powder worked well for a couple of weeks, but hairs started falling out of the brush after that.  I tried a few brushes that my friend, Christina, gave to me and finally found a good one in the Real Techniques brush.  I cannot believe that this brush is so cheap and readily available at Target!

After using the face powder for a couple of weeks with no issues, I was pretty happy.  In fact, just as I had heard and read in many reviews, it actually improved my complexion, helping blemishes and eczema sores heal faster!  What are you oh magical power of mine?!  At this point, I’m feeling pretty good about L’oreal face products and decided to try the BB cream.  (Here’s a good YouTube video about the purpose of  BB and CC creams.)  I went with L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream in Light 812.  I applied the BB cream the way I’d seen so many people do  in video tutorials and was okay with the results.  I mean, I still had blemishes and eczema, but they were blurred out a bit.  It also seemed to even out my skin tone and soften my skin texture.  So far, so good.

After two weeks of using BB cream in the Texas heat, I came to understand that this stuff wasn’t going to be my makeup BFF the way my mineral powder was.  I broke out like crazy.  I saw some new blemishes here and there, but though they were just a result of my oil cleansing pulling things to the surface.  One day, I wore BB cream and spent alot of time outside instead of in the office like usual.  You could see a line of deep and red blemishes every place where my fingers applied the BB cream – my forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and neck.  From the initial touch zones, the blemishes spread out.  It was a literal map of how I applied the BB cream to my face and neck.

I spent the next two nights washing my face with coconut soap, treating with tea tree oil, and calming with thick layers of aloe gel.  The coconut soap is my body wash (Alaffia Everyday Coconut and Coffee Berry Body Wash) and is pretty gentle on skin, but maybe not on my face.  I was just desperate and wasn’t thinking.  I used Aura Cacia tea tree oil from Target (on sale!)  Normally, this stuff is too rough on my face, but these were giant cysts and were painful.  I wanted them gone.  The tea tree oil worked, but dried all the skin around the blemishes.  After a night or two of that, I switched to cleansing with Kopari and doing a Sephora clay mask.  After washing the clay mask off,  I finished each night with a layer of aloe gel to kill the bacteria, calm my skin, and moisturize my skin.  It worked well.

After a few days of that, I switched to washing my face with pure coconut oil.  Coconut oil is the same PH as skin, fights bacteria, and moisturizes.  I always have a jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin coconut oil.  You need something that has barely been processed so that all of the good stuff is still on the oil to help your skin.  First, I scooped out some oil into my hands.  It was solid, but melted as I rubbed it on my skin.  I rubbed it in circles all over my skin and neck, concentrating on the most problematic areas of blemishes and eczema.  Normally, I would place a warm rag on my face and lay down for 10 – 15 minutes, but this time, I didn’t want to lay in the bed with the wet rag on my face.  I repeated this as I made my way around my face and concentrated on the parts with the worst blemishes and eczema.  The goal of this was not to get all of the coconut oil off, but to take some of it off, while easing things out of my pores.  I think you may want to do something to close your pores afterwards, but this time, I wanted my pores open so the coconut oil would soak into my skin overnight.  I went to bed and woke up with a much calmer face.  You could still see plenty of blemishes and eczema, but the redness everywhere else was gone.  I rinsed my face with water and put a thick layer of aloe gel over, adding a bit extra to the problem areas.

I’ve been doing this routine for a few days now and my skin looks much better.  Where all of the blemishes and eczema were are now just spots that are healing.  Your skin heals from the outside in, so it takes time.  Aloe gel and coconut oil also helps brighten skin so that the sore spots fade quicker.

While going through all of this, some other health problems came up and my skin hurt all over my body.  After doing the treatments with coconut oil and the wash rag, my face felt better, even if the rest of my skin and body hurt.  That reminded me why I spent so much time taking care of myself in years past.  I have looked into the Korean skincare routines and decided to give it a whirl.  So, stay tuned for my reviews on that!  Also, I haven’t given up on BB Creams yet.  I may try another kind in another month

Unboxing- Kira Kira Crate April/May 2018

This week, I got my May Kira Kira Crate. They are shipped from Japan to the U.S., so they take a month to get here. I still hadn’t opened my box from April! So, I decided to combine the unboxings.

Kira Kira Crates are subscription boxes from Japan filled with Asian skin, hygiene, and beauty products. Some of these products are available in stores in the U.S., but others are exclusive to Asia. My husband gave me a three-month subscription for Valentine’s Day, so May is my last box. My birthday is coming up, though, so I may request a renewal!

Apparently, the May box itself is different from April. I wonder if that’s because of the change of seasons. Both are pretty and will be put to good use.

April 2018 Box – April’s theme is Head To Toe. The box includes items to use to pamper yourself from head to toe!

https://flic.kr/p/25r954p

Mellsavon Hand Wash – This natural foaming hand wash is made in Japan with natural oils like kudzu and thyme. The scent is supposed to be mellow, so I’m hoping it will be okay on my hands. If not, my husband will gladly use it.

Point Make Up Remover – Designed in Japan and made in China, the box says it is a makeup remover pencil from Art Collection Tokyo. The writing on the package is in Japanese, but the writing on the pen is in English. I believe I saw one of the beauty vloggers on YouTube buy this in a video recently. The pen allows you to spot fix makeup mishaps like smeared mascara or eyeliner smudges. Looks like it’ll be pretty handy.

IE Spa Gold Foil Pack – When I showed this to my husband, he said, “Oh dang! You, too, can become a Hydra officer with this mask!” The mask is Japanese, but was made in Korea. The mask is infused with gold extract (is that a thing???), which is supposed to be good for keeping the collagen and elasticity that naturally occur in skin.

Onset Bath Salt – This was made in Japan and is supposed to contain ingredients you would find naturally in a Japanese hot spring that help with muscle soreness. There are 12 varieties, but I got the pink kind. Based on the picture, it might be a Sakura scent.

Rilakkuma Handcream – This hand cream was made in China. The only bit of English is on the front and says, “I’m always feeling relaxed.” Well, little Chinese bear hand cream, I can definitely use some relaxation! Rilakkuma is pineapple-scented and the other Korilakkuma (the one I didn’t get) has a rose scent. Rilakkuma is the perfect size for my purse, so she will be coming with me while I run errands or go to work!

Foot Therapy Sheet (Woody Lavender) – These are a prettier version of the foot pads that you’ve probably seen on t.v. You put them on the soles of your feet and they supposedly remove toxins through your feet. I have seen reports that say they do not really remove toxins, but can help your feet smell better. These are designed specifically to use overnight to improve your feet’s texture and the lavender scent should help me sleep!

May 2018 Box – Now, this is what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Cozy Night In is this month’s themes. Relax and destress before drifting off to sleep. Can do!

https://flic.kr/p/25HbUfJ

Hot Eye Mask – This mask was made in China and should make you look like a polar bear when you wear it. (Instagram, here I come!) This mask smells like lavender and should help my tired eyes look awake 👀

Black & Shiny Eyeliner – This is from Mio Piccolo Tokyo and looks like it was packaged by the same company as April’s makeup remover pencil. I’ve never been able to put on eyeliner so the eraser pencil should come in handy when I bust out this eyeliner pencil. The color is Metallic Black, so I wonder how much shimmer is really in it and how much the eraser will fix.

Honey Lemon Bath Tablets – These are made in Japan and I really thought they were candy. There are tiny tablets that look like candy and some orange sandy stuff that looks like colored sugar. The flyer says this mixture will fight acne and aging while others tightening my pores and refreshing my skin. That makes me think I may need to use this on my face instead of body. I’m looking forward to figuring out how well it works on the pores on my body, ha!

Mosaics Oil Milk – The Japanese oil milk has me the most excited! There are cute animals all over the box. The flyer says it contains cactus oil to hydrate my skin. I am all for opening up this adorable bottle and getting hydrated!

Paper Soap – I haven’t used paper soap since I was a kid. This is what Asians used before hand sanitizer became hip and cool. I got the mint paper soap and am excited to bust out my paper and start lathering up in public instead of slumming it with pink soap.

Organic Mask – From Japan and made in Korea, I have high hopes for this mask. It contains royal jelly, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, and collagen, all of which are great for moisturizing your skin and restoring elasticity. I’m not sure if the hyaluronic acid will bother my eczema. Collagen is the fourth ingredient and aloe gel is the sixth, so, I’m not anticipating any problems.

Have you tried Kira Kira Crate or any of the items listed above? Do you like Asian beauty products? If so, tell me where you buy them so I can hunt for them too. Thanks for reading!