Monday, August 22, 2016

**VIDEO REVIEW** Sandalwood Oil from New York Biology

My YouTube channel is pathetically unknown, but I need to start doing more video reviews. Two reasons:

  1. A lot of brands prefer video reviews, so I will get the chance to try more products if I develop a YouTube presence.
  2. I'm going to have to start promoting my Amazon author page in the coming months.  YouTube will reach more people than just the blog posts.
I'm not thrilled. I feel extremely self-conscious and silly talking to my webcam. Also, I've seen how mean video commenting can get. I guess I will just have to grow a tougher hide.

Anyway, check out my video review of New York Biology's Sandalwood Oil. 





Peace
--Free

DISCLOSURE:DISCLOSURE:

In exchange for providing my fair and honest review, I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount. Regardless, I only review products that I have personally used and can give an opinion of.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Confusion: Low-Carb/High-Fat vs Low-Carb/High-Protein (lots of links)

There is a bit of confusion for me as I'm nearing the end of Week 3 of the low-carb situation. Someone emailed me and gave me some clarification. So... I've had to regroup.

First, I started out doing a low-carb/high-protein diet. I lost weight and felt better, but wanted to kick-start the whole ketosis thing. I made a first attempt at an "egg fast", which was wonderful (as far as results) but I didn't realize it was a low-carb/high-fat regimen. I simply didn't think about it.

Second, like I said, I am seeing weight loss, though not as much as I would like. Today I realized that I may be switching up on the eating regimens so much that they are canceling out one another. Apparently, I'm sharing company with a lot of other confused folks.

Egg fast with lots of butter and bacon = low-carb/high-fat.

Normal eating with lots of meat, skipping/cutting back on starches - low-carb/high-protein.

I believe my body is as confused as my mind is so I've decided to take a look at meal ideas for the different types of plans. Maybe clearing things up for myself this way will help someone else!

The first thing I had to do was decide which plan I was going to adopt for a daily for-the-rest-of-my-life eating plan. It sure has to be something I can live with ("live with", get it?) and the prolonged high-protein plan is not for me.

"Prolonged high-protein diets are possibly unhealthy for your kidney or your liver." (source)
That piece of advice is a no-brainer and it's been pointed out to me by doctors who treated my family members.

On the other hand, protein is very important. Since it's protein I'm trying to learn to use properly for weight loss, I decided to keep reading that source article for more info. I only had to glance up one space and there was the answer:
"When adopting a low-carb diet, it’s recommended to aim for 60-70% calories from fat, 15-35% from protein and 5-15% from carbs. Making your protein 60-70% (essentially an Atkin’s diet) leaves very little room for fats, and thus is not recommended." (my emp)

Okay, so that is where I might have been going wrong in my first days. I was loading up on proteins, and trying to completely avoid carbs and fats. Then on my egg fasting days, I was going nuts with only fat and protein. No wonder the MyFitnessPal daily breakdown was always out of whack.

Using the above-mentioned guidelines, I taking some pressure off my kidney and liver. Also, I'll be giving myself more room to meal plan because I can work with that amount of carbs and fats.  Let's face it, when there are carbs even in some spices and seasonings, you're going to miss out on lots of flavor somewhere!

Going by these guidelines, I looked at what kinds of meals I could put together for myself. Keep in mind that I have to share a kitchen so I don't spend as much time there as I'd like. So, when it comes to feeding myself, I need simple, quick and (preferably) pre-planned menus. I want to get in, do my thing, then get out of the way.

Based on my weight and activity level, I've mapped out 1800 calories a day for myself. Using the guidelines I just mentioned, I've come up with this as my daily goal:



Meal Ideas that will work best for me look something like this, which is hard to see, I know. It's a really sucky photo, but maybe if you squint. If not, it's bascially a lot of eggs, bacon, and low carb taco bread.







































Looka there. Just 1 carb over my limit, but that sodium.... Yikes. I'm trying to compensate for when I go that high on my sodium by drinking extra amounts of water. However, my blood pressure readings are still great. That might have to do with that fact that I'm no longer smoking. Yay, me!

Of course, I can't do the same thing every day. Well, I could, but I don't wanna. I am learning to switch things up with the groceries I still have left for the month - even though I have had to go back to Costco for eggs and bacon.







































That freaking sodium! Damnit!

Okay, I only have to persist for a couple more weeks, then I can be smarter with my next grocery-shopping list. So far, it's looking something like this:
  • Eggs (yep, because they are going to be a staple!)
  • Cheese (sharp & medium cheddar, and goat's milk, but not too much b/c of the calories.)
  • Veggies that I will buy in small quantities throughout the month for freshness/lack of waste. Also, I need to watch my budget. (Spinach, broccoli, lot of cucumbers for my water, asparagus, tomatoes, sweet peppers, avocados, and my beloved collard greens and kale.)
  • Nuts (again, not many b/c of calories, but I love sunflower seeds for snacking!)
  • Peanut butter (I've found a great recipe for a peanut butter shake that I can't wait to try.)
  • Almond milk (instead of my delicious Silk Vanilla Soy. (See the chart below)
  • I already have some of the best organic cacao powder around, courtesy of a review I recently did.
  • I also have olive oil, red palm oil, and plenty of coconut oil.
  • Coconut Milk

Apparently, milk choices depends of individual dietary needs. I'm way more concerned about carbs than I am fat, so I can even use heavy cream in some cases.

source
That peanut butter milkshake is going to be on point! LOL



Once I get through this month and get started on some well thought out meals, I will feel better about my eating regimen. I can't believe that as recently as 40 days ago, I was hitting the stores buying bags and bags of those flavored mashed potatoes (fully loaded, buttered, etc.), and instant soups by the case. No wonder I was swelling up like a black blueberry Wonka chick!

Oh - just for the latest on the weight, so far, I'm down a total of 7 pounds. In the last few weeks, I've lost and gained a couple, but I'm proud of my progress. Also, 7 pounds might not sound like a lot, but I can tell big time when I look at myself naked. Ay yi yi! My face is losing the chubbiness and my clothes are starting to feel more comfortable, probably because most of the loss is in my gut. First to come, first to go.

Here are links to some of the sources I'm using to develop menus and grow into my low carb lifestyle.

This isn't the complete list. Maybe I will put on together at some point. In the meantime, I want to thank Steve, who emailed to help me correct what I was doing wrong. There is also a former co-worker on Facebook who shared some tips. I will ask her permission to share them in another post.

For now, folks, the journey continues. Hope you keep up with me while I ride this out.

Peace
--Free

P.S.:

I have to emphasis how important it is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. When losing weight and working any way to get into shape, the skin will get nuts if it feels neglected. I'm happy to say that my skin is looking and feeling marvelous.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shalimar (the fragrance) Has a Brother & I Love Him

Shalimar perfume was once my scent. Not just the perfume, but even the EDT and the lotions smelled amazing on my body. Shalimar, my sweet Shalimar... I owned it, rocked it, and wore it so well that I should have been a Guerlain spokeswoman.

Then, hormones.

When I turned the age corner from 35 to 36 or 37, I noticed my Shalimar didn't smell quite the same. Actually, it smelled just as wonderful as always - for about two hours. Then, nothing. Always before then, it was at the 2-hour mark that the fragrance was starting to work a third-level of magic. Those undernotes in the potion would go from spicy and start to get mellower and kind of smoky.

By the time, I hit 40, I had to give up on Shalimar. The perfume still worked for me. Mostly. Thing is, the perfume is pricier than I could splurge on that often.

I played with some other scents, trying to find any one of them that made me feel the way Shalimar once had. And, believe me, with fragrance, it is so much about the feeling. When I wore Shalimar, I felt beautiful and sexy. I felt empowered by my own femininity. That may sound strange, but it's true. No matter what clothes I wore or how I styled my hair and makeup, I just didn't feel completely "finished" until I dabbed on, spritzed on, or smoothed on my Shalimar.

The first other fragrance I kind-of-sort-of loved after Shalimar was Dior's Dune. I really liked it a lot, but it didn't take away my grief over Shalimar.

Then I met Flori Robert's Gold fragrance. Oh, mercy. It's as if the heavens opened up and breathed out golden sunshine. Once again, I felt like I had found my soul's aroma. That latest for about 2 years and then, I will be damned if Gold was no more.

What is it about wonderful things like the perfect fragrance or a really good makeup product? Is there a demon of the vanities that decides when to slap us with reality by discontinuing something we love?

Whatever.

Everyone knows what they feel like when something they love is discontiued.


Image result for when your favorite makeup is discontinued

Since then, I have never had a "signature scent". I like Viva la Juicy (a lot), Donna Karan's Cashmere, Kenzo's Flowers, and another Gold scent that I lost my tester tube of so I don't know who brands it. I like a lot of scents, but I have never been in love with one again since Shalimar and Flori Robert's Gold. I became perfume celibate.

Then, I was reading about how a lot of femme scents have matching Homme scents (and, no I don't care if I just mangled that all up). I started to wonder if Shalimar had a matching "brother" scent. And, here, folks, is where life gets weird...

This is apparently the brother scent of Shalimar:

Habit Rouge by Guerlain for Men
I even like the bottle

That is Habit Rouge. Which happens to have been the favorite scent of one of my biggest celebrity crushes ever. This man:

via GIPHY
Makes me sweat.

OK, that's when he was young and so were we. He still had that charisma when he got a bit older.

via GIPHY

The saddest thing is, he never lived to reach middle age with the rest of us.

Still, you know a man is hot when he's been gone from this earth for something like 20 years and women still swoon at the mention of his name. Just take a look at the teenagers on Tumblr who crush on the man.

via GIPHY

Go ahead. Swoon a little. I'll wait.

Anyway, I heard about the fragrance matching Shalimar a while before I learned my late crush had favored it. And it smells ah-may-zing.

Now, I will wear a fragrance meant for men. Fahrenheit is a favorite of mine, but only because I like the way it smells, period. I love Habit Rouge because of the way it smells on me. Isn't it just crazy the power scents and smells hold over us? They evoke all kinds of emotions and memories.

If you ever wanted a fragrance that compliments Shalimar, Habit Rouge is the one.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bulletproof Coffee & Egg Fasting (UPDATE)

***UPDATE*** So... I was supposed to be starting the fast yesterday. Guess what? Had a baby shower to attend. Ended up being at the party for over 4 hours. We had a really good time, and I barely ate anything (and skipped the cake, thank you very much), but I missed almost all my egg meals. Starting the fast over today.

Okay, folks. I'm really excited about the results that I'm seeing on this low-carb regimen. Here is what my weight loss numbers look like since I got the hang of this:

August 1st to 9th - down 4lbs
August 9th to 13th - down another 2lbs
So... 6 pounds in 13 days. Not including the couple pounds lost and re-gained somewhere in that time.

I slid off the wagon on the 10th thru today so I'm not sure how I went down another 2lbs in that time frame! I'm not just climbing back on, but jumping back on the wagon with an egg fast. I hope to do the fast for 4 to 5 days, but y'all know me. I might give up before then. However, I started off well this morning.

There are several places online that discuss/describe egg fasting- like here,  here, and here  (Kaylah's video) - and I have come up with the following for mine:

  • A minimum of 6 & a maximum of 10 eggs per day - boiled, scrambled, sunnyside, or however.
  • With each egg eaten, also have 1 Tbls of healthy fat (unsalted butter, organic coconut oil, etc) - OR 1oz of full-fat cheese.
  • 6oz of full-fat cheese should be eaten each day - either with the eggs or solo. (If you need too break the no food3 hours before bed rule, make sure to save a bit of that cheese to snack on.)
  • You can have up to 1 can of diet soda per day. (I prefer having 2 cans of mineral water with a squirt of flavored water enhancer.)
  • Very helpful if you can avoid low carb sweeteners, fiber, hot sauce (man!), fresh herbs, condiments - or at least keep the total to under 5g per day. I think this is for carb restriction (?)
  • Try to increase potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C during meals. (I take a multi-vitamin and use a magnesium oil spray.)
Some meal ideas that were given are:
Get to know about your nutritional needs while on the keto diet! | Ruled Me:
  • Egg yolks with sugar-free mayo
  • Eggs scrambled in coconut oil
  • Eggs devilled with cheese
  • Boiled egg with warm with butter (this is my favorite because it's easiest)
I love eggs, but eating so many a day for so many days in a row... Boring! Still, I'm going to look at this like a challenge.
The part of this diet that I like (and that I think I added) is to nurse a "bulletproof coffee" all day. When I give the recipe I found for this coffee you will see why I don't think it's something I could (or should) do on a regular basis. It's perfect for the eggs fast days though because I'm avoiding most other beverages than water. Here's the recipe I cobbled from more than one source, including this one:
  • 2 cups black, unflavored coffee
  • 2 Tbls unsalted butter (I don't have the recommended "grass fed" type. I don't think.)
  • 2 Tbls Organic Coconut Oil (or something called MCT)
  • 1 Tbls heavy cream (if you want)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon (I use Ceylon cinnamon)
  • Emulsify all this in a blender (I use a stick blender)
I add a 1/2 tsp of cacao powder and half a packet of Truvia. Because, me.

Let me tell you, I thought that this sounded SO gross. I do like a little bit of coconut oil in my coffee, but butter? Ugh, right? Well, it's not bad. Matter of fact, one of the reasons I don't use coconut oil more often in my coffee is that I have to be in the mood for the oily taste. Now I know the magic of emulsification. I don't feel any of the oil in my mouth. At all. The vanilla and cacao powder really deepen the flavor to the point that I could do without the sweetener. If I wanted to. Ha!
So that is the egg fast plan I'm attempting. Of course, I'm not a medical (or any other type of health) professional, so I'm only sharing my experiences with you - not advice.
Image result for bulletproof coffee
mine looks similar

By the way, I found an article about reasons not to drink bulletproof coffee. Wikipedia helps me understand the concept of  bulletproof or "brain fuel" coffee. By the way, in some cases, I should be typing Bulletproof Coffee. This stuff has become a brand, an industry, and a pretty trendy thing.

I will be checking in to show how the weight is going. It's going to go up or down. Let's hope or down!

Peace
--Free


Postscript:
I got all the information about the fasts and the coffee from too many sources to cite, but I credit I Breathe, I'm Hungry for a super cool blog name and the starting point for most of the information I have. Also, Healthdaddy  and Authority Nutrition are a couple of my go-to sources. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

**REVIEW** CeraVe Body Wash & Moisturizing Cream


This post is actually a "Reveal and Review" because, once again, I'm sharing extra personal details.

I'm reviewing two products since I recently had to try them. Doctor's orders.

I don't know if I'd mentioned here anything about a rash I developed on my inner ankles and in small spots on my hands. I initially treated my ankles (which were the most affected) with some raw honey. The honey made the rash look better and it took away the awful itching, but when I saw my doctor, he referred me to a dermatologist. Good thing, too. Turns out I have eczema.

This is what the spots on my hands did look like.


Not just a case of needing moisture. I was using oils and creams galore.

There are lots of reasons people develop eczema. Allergies other environmental issues, and I don't know what all else. In my case, the culprit is my compromised immune system. So, yeah, thank again, sarcoid.

The good news is, eczema is not contagious. Also, it is very treatable.

The dermatologist I saw prescribed a corticosteroid ointment. I almost passed out from fear when I heard the part "steroid" part. I recovered when I heard "topical" and" cream - not oral, injectable, or anything to do that will put another pound of weight on my behind.

The other part of my treatment for the eczema is to use three OTC products: a soothing cleanser and two moisturizers. The CeraVe products are the ones I'm posting about today.

Here's the reason I wanted to do a review on these items: they are awesome.  The cleanser is something that I love for how gentle it is. I never use soaps on my face, but this is one I will make an exception for.If I had known how good the moisturizer is, I'd have been using it on my feet always!

First, let's look at the Pros for the moisturizer:

  • Of course, it is highly moisturizing but what I like most is that it's not sticky, stinky, or slimy. 
  • The moisturizing effects last much longer than most lotions or creams - as long as you don't wash your hands. This is not something that continues protecting after washing.
  • The price is not as bad as I expected, especially being recommended by my dermatologist and actually working as well as it does. Amazon currently has the 16oz jar for under $13. That's about what I paid for a 12oz container at Walmart. Now I know.
  • A little bit goes a long way so I won't run through a supply too quickly. I tend to over-do it with applications of oils and lotion and other potions. With this one, I've learned to start light and add more as needed. It really does take about a dime-sized drop to take care of just my hands.
  • There's not waiting for the product to soak in before handling papers or fabrics. For as moisturizing as the cream is, that was a surprise.
As for the cleanser, I had one problem with the bottle design. The soap is very, very thin and watery. The first time I opened the cap to use some, almost a tablespoon's worth ran out and into the sink. Even when I am careful with the pouring, it's still hard to control how much dispenses. I think the bottle needs a suction control to help with the thin product texture. What I've started doing is covering the opening with my hand to control the flow of the soap. I don't like that solution because I could be contaminating the entire bottle every time I use the soap. 

The best thing about the soap is how well it cleans in spite of being so mild. On the other hand, as thin as the soap is, I don't think it's going to last me as long as the moisturizer is. Also, the cleanser is more expensive over $17 for a 10oz bottle at the store (though just over $14 on Amazon). 

Basically, I love the moisturizer and think it's worth every cent. The cleanser is a good product but needs a better bottle design to help prevent waste - especially for what it costs.

The rash on my ankles has not cleared up yet but is looking SO much better. The minor spots of breakout on my hands are almost unnoticeable as long as I keep them moisturized. 

You all know that I'm a big advocate for all things natural. My coconut and palm oils were not working well on the rash and that was no surprise to the dermatologist. I will have to look up more info why that is. I did not try my other oils (kukui, emu, etc.) because I didn't know what I was dealing with as a skin condition. As far as I knew, I might have been having a reaction to one of my natural oils. (I wasn't, but I'm glad I was cautious.)







need a manicure, but much better

I learned a lesson or two in this experience. For one thing, I've always been vain about my skin and tend to brag about the care I take with it. Well, there are some things that you just can't avoid no matter how careful you are. Instead of self-treating with my usual oils and other products, I should have contacted my doctors the first second that I noticed a problem. 

I also learned that even good things can be harmful in certain cases. Because of my weak immune system, I tend to be cautious of germs. I must wash my hands fifteen or more times a day - with antibacterial soap - and I am a nut for the GermX and other protectants. Guess what? I've been advised to leave both types of products alone until this eczema clears up. So, yeah, I should have just checked with the docs first. My bad.

Now that I have tried these products, I can say that I would like using the moisturizer no matter what. I can't say the same for the cleanser, even though I like it. It's too pricey and I'm going to run through the bottle too quickly. Bad combo.

Next post, I will be telling you about the third OTC product the doc has me using. Until then,

Peace
--Free

Monday, August 08, 2016

A Visual Journey *UPDATE*

I went through and found more old (and some hilarious) photos. These are mainly for my fam.

That's me & my Mama, Miss Tootsie.
Don't remember who the baby is.

That's me being so "fast" & grown. With my hand on my back, as
my mother would say. Some of the other kids are the Rouzans. Still friends today.

That's my big brother, Chuck, looking like a black member of  Duran Duran.
So handsome & still is.
Me in background. And I still tag around him when I can!

Me with my little brother, Darrell & his dog, Scott.
He loved that dog.

My daddy. I'm the female "George".




Image result for years that ask questions and years that answer

I was talking with a good friend the other day. We are both making a lot of life changes and shooting for big futures - yes, even at my 55 and her 57 years. She said something interesting about how different everyone's life journey can be. Ours have certainly not followed normal paths!

So, I'm looking back on my years that ask questions and years that answer. The only thing any of them have in common are their echoes.









































I've been up, I've been down. I've flown First Class, Coach, and Standby. My world has been full to bursting with joy, then plunged into a darkness close to Hell. I've been healthy, fine, arrogant, beautiful, desired and too full of myself. I've been broken and abused and discarded and forsaken and forgotten and vilified and sick unto death. I've had friends and enemies and people who simply never noticed.

I am blessed because I've lived a life and, God willing, I will make the most of the years I have left.

Peace
--Free

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