Sunday, August 31, 2014

**REVIEW** Foxbrim Vitamin A + Antioxidant

This really feels to me like a "complete anti-aging moisturizer" and that's the truth.

Since moving to the midwest from up north, I notice that there is more natural humidity in the air. Of course, my skin and hair are loving this, but I still need a regular moisturizing routine. This product is doing a good job because it's making my skin feel very smooth and even without adding any greasiness.

So that you can get a good look at the ingredients list:

I am getting to try my product via Tomoson, but Foxbrim Vitamin A + Antioxidant can be purchased via Amazon or from the Foxbrim site.

I find that I only have to use a little bit. To be honest, because the air here in Mayberry is not as drying, I am only using the product first thing in the morning. That's been enough to keep my skin feeling extremely smooth and even.

One of the mistakes I think that we can make, when we live in a more humid area, is to skimp on moisturizer. What I do like so much about this particular product is that, even though it contains "retinol", I haven't had any sensation of tightness or increased sensitivity.

I'm going to be using this as I head into winter, even though my skin is still adjusting to temperature changes. I'll be trying other products as usual, but I already know that this is going to be a favorite.

A final Plus: the 90-day Money-back guarantee. Win. Win. Score.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

**REVIEW** Silk Almond Coconut Blend

I have been a fan of Silk's Vanilla Soy for a long time. Matter of fact, when I gave up drinking milk, this was my total replacement. Thanks to BzzAgent, I got to try the newest member of the Silk family: Almond Coconut Blend.

Here's the thing: I'm not a big lover of Almond flavored anything (with the exception of a delicious candy bar that has the word "Joy" in it), and I haven't really fallen in love with coconut milk the way I thought I would. Trying this blend was pushing it for me.

also comes "unsweetened"
 I can definitely taste both the almond and the coconut. While I didn't dislike the flavor, I wasn't blown away. That is just because I don't really like either flavor separately.

looks like the vanilla soy

"films" like 2% milk
 The blend looks just like my beloved vanilla soy. Since I don't drink vanilla soy straight from the glass, I decided to do a "cereal test." I had a little packet of cereal left from the plane trip so I tried it with the blend. Not bad. The almond and coconut taste was taken down a notch, which helped.

Basically, if you like an almond or coconut flavored product, this will certainly be your fix. I will warn you that this is a pretty sweet drink. Good thing it comes in an "unsweetened" formula.

I won't do a PRO/CON summary because this is the kind of product that really - for me - doesn't have any CONs. I just am not crazy about the flavor. I will be sticking with my vanilla soy beverage. Not the most helpful review I've ever done, but... You will have to try this one out to see if you fall in love with the blend of flavors. That's what this is all about: flavor


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shaking the Shooks (randomness)

Not exactly sure what was hitting my system the other day. I thought it was a simple cold, but it went and turn up on me. I was so sore that I thought I was tearing ligaments every time I tried to get out of bed. Taking my weekly dose of methotrexate was like pouring holy water on a demon.


I'm not running marathons yet, but I am feeling so much better this morning. I had solid food (in the form of this delicious thing called a "breakfast pizza") and I am managing to get some laundry done. Laundry has to be done because I drowned some of my clothing in upchuck...

Anyway, I am trying to get back into moving around and getting things done. I was even able to taste-test a product that I will be reviewing here shortly. In the meantime, thanks to all of you - especially Bonnie and Sandy and Nicky and Merry, and all the others who checked in.

This is what I was blessed to open my eyes to this morning:

Morning's glory
 I literally took that from bed in my family's home this morning. Not a bad sight to wake up too, right? It was/is raining off and on and the sky really did look that gorgeous.

This guy here... This is Hooch. Hooch is Bonnie and Darrell's doggie, but he was all mine while I was sick. They left him in charge of me! He did good. Wouldn't leave my side until I felt better.

He's protecting his yard from squirrels and rabbits

And these are the fresh-from-the-tree apples I nibbled on after breakfast.

So. I'm going to finish laundry and work on getting caught up on reviews. Thanks for sticking around, folks!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Going Offline (for a minute)

Hope that you all still support this blog while I take a quick break. This cold is acting the fool, and I need to get caught up on my meds. I can feel my sarc trying to rage a little.

What I will have coming up in (hopefully) the next week are some Tomoson reviews and a BzzAgent review. I'm also going to try throwing up some posts full of pics and vids - so you can see some of the local beauty. But, for now, I'm going to...

Keep me in your prayers.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Refreshment (Midwest Style)

Lord knows, my spirit needed refreshing and I sure got it this morning. If those plane rides (which scared the crap out of me) and that layover that almost required my applying for residency at DFW - well, if all that didn't wear on me, my previous weeks of chaos has. I've been under so much stress the past few months that, since I landed here in this amazing place, I feel as if my body is in detox. Church this morning is just what I needed to feel replenished.

Before church...
 Let me go ahead and admit now that I haven't been to church in so long that it's a wonder I didn't knock on the front door. Luckily, I didn't have to; the folks at the church I attended seriously welcomed me with such open arms and hearts that I found myself tearing up during the praise and worship part of the service. (I tend to weep with joy whenever I am in church. Too bad I haven't shed enough of those tears lately!)
...After church
The folks here are just... I don't even know how to describe their kindness. It's not a phony-rote-cue-card kind of "Hi, how are'ya." This is sincere, look-you-in-the-eye consideration, compassion and concern. I almost didn't know how to take it all in. How sad is that?

They were. Seriously nice.
Anyway, I feel better than I did when I went to bed and woke up. I went to bed with the start of a cold and woke up with those germs playing golf with my bones. I told my brother that I remembered something our Mom used to say about that's like the Devil whispering for you to turn on over and go on back to sleep.

The drive home was nice. We drove slowly so that I could play the bumpkin outsider and take pictures of every other stalk of corn, barn and cute little house. Seriously. My finger is getting a callous from working the camera on my phone. (By the way, I will be posting some of the pics when I get them organized. Or get them off my brother's phone. Did you know that the Galaxy 4 camera really, really sucks snot? It does.)

Now that I am home and have done this post for the day, I am about to crawl into (or under) the bed and throw Robitussin at this nasty cold. It was pretty lame that the chick from Alaska was sitting in church wrapped up in a coat all morning... Just. So. Um... No words.

I'll be back to regular posting and reviews in the next few days. I have a couple of skin-care products on the way from Tomoson, and my sister-in-law and I have to pick up our free Silk Almond Coconut Blend to try. For this moment, though, I can't even type straight, so...


Saturday, August 23, 2014

**REVIEW** American Airlines Mobile (app)

Because I have trouble remembering things (and because I get stressed when traveling), my niece recommended that, for this recent trip, I utilize American Airlines travel app.

This is what to look for in Play Store

I lost the notes I took for this review so bear with me.


  • I didn't have to keep track of a paper boarding pass. (Just had to keep track of my phone!)
  • Gate and flight info updates (sort of)
  • Update of flight changes/delays
  • Because I created an account with American, I got expedited TSA screening because of my "pre-check" status - no removal of my shoes and pretty much a sail through security.
  • To board my flight, I only had to hold my phone up to the scanner at the gate. Done.

  • Saving my flight/reservation info didn't work. At all. If I closed the app, I had to re-enter my 'locator' info all over to view my boarding pass and flight info. I ended up just leaving it on and locking my screen
  • I had a "Duh" moment of confusion and panic when I didn't realize I had no paper boarding pass. When I checked in my luggage, the rep gave me that ticket-looking paper with my claim tickets attached. When I tried to use that to enter the checkpoint, the TSA agent is the one who explained that I had to use the mobile boarding pass. She also explained that I was cleared for expedited clearance through the checkpoint. (Shouldn't the airline rep have done this? I think the rep assumed that if I was savvy enough to have the app, I was savvy enough to properly use it!)
Even though the app is pretty glitchy, I was happy to have it. It was SOOO nice not to have to remove my shoes and reveal the ugliest part of my body to all those strangers. Also, because of the expedited security, I had a lot less hassle to deal with when sending my carry-on through X-ray.  Not that I had anything to hide, but I didn't want to explain my prescriptions (or that very large bottle of liquid makeup remover.) I figured out later that my laptop battery was dead, but I didn't need to turn it on for security, so... the expedited entry was pleasant.

In the CON department, I should probably mention that the app went a little haywire on the last leg of my flight. The gate changed randomly about 8 times in a row - while I am looking at the app - and then it corrected itself. It started with C7 and cycled through until it ended with C24. Perfect. There was a Wendy's right across the way. I bought a burger and settle in for my flight to be called in the next 10 minutes. As I chatted with a lady sitting next to me, she asked if I lived in Phoenix or was just going for a visit. Phoenix? Oh, HECK NO! I checked the app and it still read C24. I checked with the gate agent and she informed me that gates had changed. I was supposed to be at C7 after all...


Add backpack & burger bag. And my clumsy self...

I had to do an awkward trot to the right gate. Thank goodness that my backpack was all I had to worry about. Well, that and my hamburger. I hustled down to C7 just as they were calling my group number for boarding. ~sigh~ 

All in all, this app saved me some time and stress. It also caused me a couple moments of stress, but I would use it again.


**REVIEW** American Airline's Admiral's Club

For a poor chick, I get to experience some of the coolest things. Usually thanks to my fam. This time, I got to use the private lounge at the airport. One of my nieces and nephews gifted me with the money for this right after I was sobbing buckets of tears at check-in and after I thought about running back out of the airport and just returning home.

Have you ever used one of the private lounges at an airport? Years ago, when my sister and I were traveling with her (then) 3 year old twins, my brother loaned us his Delta Crown Room card. My sister and I didn't get to enjoy much of that treat because we were too busy changing diapers and hosing down the kids - who got all kinds of stomach-sick the minute we got to the airport. I remember that it was nice to have hot, fresh coffee, pastries and private changing/dressing rooms to use. Very nice.

Beats sitting in the main gate areas, yes?

I stayed away from the bar...
 Now, I didn't know before that a traveler can purchase one-day passes for American Airlines Admiral's Club. I got that information from a super-nice airline rep named Erin Moore (I think I got his name right, but I lost all my notes. He works out of Miami & you can hear the sincere kindness in his voice.)

On to the review:

One might think that these private lounges are only for business travelers. That was the type I saw most of, but I also noticed that there were parents with children; Coach-class-looking men and women; and a lot of young techy-type folk. (One of the most interesting fellows I noticed was the one who paced around, talking on his phone to someone about a "late supply order." He switched between English, Spanish and Chinese. A real workaholic type, no more than 25 years old.) I also ran into a really pleasand woman in the ladies washroom. She was from Australia. She gave me tips on how to fight my fear of flying: "Just pretend that the floor of the plane is terra firma. Don't think about being up in the air."

What's so great about the private lounge? Well, if you want free food and drink (everything from pastries and cookies to all kinds of  beer, wine and spirits), the lounge is perfect. I didn't drink because... Well, we all know I don't handle my liquor well - even if it's free. I did drink plenty of coffee. If I had gotten tired of plain brew, I could have tried the mocha, latte, espresso, etc. Nice.
Snacks, coffee, pastries

I spent most of my time in the part of the lounge that was set up for passengers using their computers. Plenty of charging stations and regular outlets, comfy chairs of all kinds - from loungers to straight-backs arranged around worktables.

Of course, I called and checked in with my family about a million times. When I told my niece about how nice the ladies washroom was (and it was nice), she was impressed. When I told her that their were other washrooms complete with showers, she wasn't as thrilled. She has a thing about showers in gyms, lounges and other shared spaces. I still thought about exploring the showers because I was told they were stocked with premium soaps and shampoos and such.

Nice, right?

Since I just wanted to relax for the 9 hour layover, I parked myself in a spot where I could charge my phone and computer and play Farmville. I did read about all the other amenities: meeting and conference rooms, a gym, etc. For the travelers who smoke, there was even a place for them. It was pretty packed.

Here are some more photos from American Airlines (and, yes, the lounge actually looks like this!)
Get some work done...

...Or just get some drinking done. It's complimentary.

Nice, huh?

My basic suggestions for anyone wanting to try out one of the lounges on a day pass:

  • Don't worry about not being dressed right. I was worried that I'd look out of place in my jeans and "Alaska Grown" hoodie. I saw people dressed in shorts, ripped jeans, beautiful suits and wrinkled dresses. I understand that other lounges have a stricter dress code.
  • Do try everything. Explore all the different parts of the lounge, from the gym to the showers. 
  • Sample as much of the free food and drink as possible. The food served on board the planes is over-priced and underwhelming. Go ahead and grab a pastry or two to take on board.
  • Because the lounge in in the secure part of the airport, you don't have to worry about enduring the TSA screening when your journey continues.
  • $50 sounds like a lot of money, and it is, for most of us. On the other hand, your being fed and hydrated and kept nice and cool while other travelers are 5- and 10-dollaring themselves to death at the various food courts. The day I was at DFW, the temp was somewhere around 87-90 degrees. The temp in the lounge was a nice steady 70 degrees or cooler.

My one-day pass was worth every nickel that my family paid for me to enjoy my travel. If you are a more frequent fliers, you can get a 30-day membership for $99/per visitor. Annual membership prices vary. I have to tell you: though I was on a day pass, every member of the staff treated me the same as everyone else. The service was courteous and I was made to feel as much a valued customer as the business travelers. Super.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

When I Buy a Blanket

So.... now that I am here (you know, the place that I call M.M. - "Mayberry of the Midwest"), I am kind of falling in love with the area. Just like in any relationship, I don't want to fall too hard too fast, but...

The waterfall behind an old mill house

From a walk through the neighborhood

Love the trees that are everywhere

...And I mean everywhere!

And then I found THIS at the store. Yum.

A walnut. Yes. From a tree in my family's yard.

About 7 bucks for this humongous fish sammich

Just a sight I had to photograph as we went on a drive

Not every place is right for every person (no-brainer, right?), but every place is right for some person(s). From the minute I saw the landscape below from the window of the plane, I started having feelings for what I was seeing. Good feelings, calm feelings, hopeful feelings.

So far, I've seen soybean fields, cornfields, animal pastures... I even saw deer playing in a park.

My first full night here, I think I had the best sleep that I've had in years. And I only slept in bits and pieces. I kept waking up to go and sit out in the fresh air and sounds of a peaceful night. I listened to a stillness that I haven't been in the company of for a long time. I had little chats with God. I even had a little chat with a squirrel that was playing in a nearby tree. (Actually, I only chatted with him after my heart quit hammering. The little booger was playing so furiously in the tree that I imagined some big and scary thing was about to drop down on my head!)

This morning, I introduced myself to the cadence of the town - which cycles from slow, deep breathing to that which is slower and more shallow; I met and struck up acquaintances with  some of the streets and sights. I learned that not much is open before 7am. (Last night I figured out from the sudden silence that not much is open or moving after 8pm.)

Today, my brain is still tired and trying to adjust to the time and calm. I thought that my body was bone-tired, but I realized a few minutes ago that it's just trying to re-calibrate from too much stress to this feeling of being detoxed. It's very weird.

Because I've had my hopes dashed before - more than 'dashed', maybe more like soaked and beaten against rocks like so much dirty laundry - I'm cautious with my expectations. When I'm ready to accept that this really might be the place for me, I'll go and buy coffeepot. Maybe I'll even buy a plant.

I'll know that I'm ready to settle in when I go and buy a blanket. Right now, I'm working on just breathing.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Live Blogging the Trip (first leg)

It's been a rough night.

Leaving for the airport is never easy when you are leaving loved ones, even if you are headed toward more loved ones. Leaving "Boo Boo" (DJ) hurt so bad that it knocked all the breath right out of me. I was doing a decent job of holding it together until he had a meltdown in the driveway.

Not  DJ
But I'm just saying

OH! Damnit, that kid broke my heart.

I won't go into how badly I cried off all my makeup once I made it past saying goodbye to my niece and nephew who brought me to the airport. It took both of them, yes: one to drive and onee to keep me from leaping out of the car and running back to Boo Boo.

Not me
But I'm just saying
Now a word about the American Airline phone app my niece had me download beforehand: This was a mixed experience. Trying to use the app to view my flights was tricky (and never actually worked), but once I did get it to show my "mobile boarding pass," things got good. For one thing, it was nice not to have to worry about keeping track of another piece of paper (even though I had a moment of wondering where that piece of paper was). The best part? Using the mobile pass to sail right through the TSA checkpoint.

Let me stop and tell you the worst part (for me) of going through airport security (I mean, other than the possibility of having to throw out makeup, lotions and potions that go over the allowed amount). For me, the very worst part is the shoe drop. Taking off my shoes around people who don't know me, love me, and won't run screaming from the callus on my right heel... Well, this is stressful.

Not only did I not have to take my shoes off but, because I am too lazy and absent-minded to carry and keep track of more than my backpack as a carry-on, I didn't have to submit to any kind of hassle. I just waltzed right through that scanner and went on my way. Nice. Saved me so much time.

Not my feet
But I'm just saying
With all the time I did save, I was able to get started early on my phobic fantasies of wings falling off the plane midair.

Another good part of the mobile boarding pass is that it's easy to keep track of. Also, it updates with gate changes and such. Super cool. Just super.

The flight was (thank my God in heaven!) uneventful. The worst thing I can say about actually flying that first leg is that the attendants were forgettable. I think I saw one of them crack a smile before she realized she had broken the rules by doing so... Also, I have to say that the airplane was one of the dirtiest I've been on. Dingy, grimy and raggedy seatbacks and dust that just seem to float in the air and stick in my throat.

I had a window seat so I got to cry some more as I watched Alaska disappear from sight. The ladies sitting on row with me were cool and I was embarrassed when they remarked that the plane seemed like one from the early 20th century. ~sigh~ They were a couple of either best best best friends or lovers. They are on their way from a visit to Alaska to a visit to New York. They had Polish (I think) accents and they were very funny when we all noticed the food prices on the on-board menu. There was a decent looking picture of an expensive pastrami sandwich. For what it cost, I'd do better to fly out and have lunch with Guy Fieri. (What is with me and all the Guy references lately?)

At any rate, I've had bad experiences with the way real food actually looks like no matter how good the photos are. For the price of airline food, I'm not letting my wallet take any chances.

Not the airline food.
But I'm just saying
The food was out of the question so I opted for a cup of coffee. I needed something to counteract the crying, wine and Valium. Too bad the coffee was only a poor imitation of anything that should legally being labeled and sold as coffee. It was brown, I'll say that much. Mostly, it was a lukewarm tea-like concoction. And I am insulting tea by even making the comparison. Like I said, it was brown.

I had a moment of panic when we started making the descent into DFW. There was some floaty-tippy-rocky kind of movement that lasted long enough to make that awful coffee bounce around in my gut. I calmed down long enough to say a lot of prayers and compose dramatic goodbye letters in my head to my family. Then we just landed.

Right now, I am in the Admiral's Club, drinking real coffee and using up all the wi-fi I can to play Farmville 2. (I knew Facebook would come in handy somehow, someday.)

Seven and half more hours to kill. I'll blog the next leg of the flight when it comes around...


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Punch Drunk and Pack Crazy

While I'm doing these sillier posts in lieu of my usual reviews, I have been trying to to come up with ideas the best way I can. This is tough to do when I'm dealing with any kind of stress. Life in general is tough when I'm dealing with any kind of stress.

Last night, I couldn't sleep so I sat up thinking of alternate titles for past (and possibly future) posts:

  • "I Fought the Door & the Door Won" (for the time I got drunk on Mother's Day)
  • "I Can't Fly. I Can't Fly Without You" (for my fear of flying & in tribute to Nilsson)
  • "Fear Is a Many Splendored Thing" (for any of my posts on phobias)
  • "Midnight Calling" (for anyone who has ever drunk-dialed the ex-whoever)
  • "It Only Hurts When I Laugh" (for anyone whose ever had the giggles & a full bladder at the same time)
I don't even know if some of those are actual song titles, but... 

This is the way my brain works when it's tired or stressed (or, as is the case lately, both). I was sort of this strange before sarc, but I'm all the way weird now. I explain it (my tired brain, I mean) to people this way: I'm not stupid any more than a diabetic is drunk. It just seems that way sometimes.

I'm sure that one of the family cats thought I was diabetic or stupid when I had a full conversation with him about life and death and the little things in between. He might have thought I was crazy, but I'll love that cat forever because he sat there and listened to me. I'm not so fond of his sister, the haughty snoot. She gave me that uppity cat glare, licked her paw and strolled off as if to indicate she had better things to do. 
"Go away, crazy lady."

"I said, go AWAY!"


I finished the conversation with the cat, but I still couldn't sleep. So I decided to paw (heh heh) through my suitcases again to lighten the load. I picked out one more t-shirt that I know I can live without and a pair of pajamas I haven't been able to wear for two years without looking like a sausage roll. Hopefully, that's going to be enough to avoid excess baggage.

By the way, I'm going to weigh my cases tonight. I'll use the bathroom scale, weigh myself, then weigh myself holding each suitcase. It's not perfect, but it's the best I can do without dragging my luggage to Home Depot and claim that I am just there to test an industrial scale before I purchase one. As if I could afford anything more expensive than a penny candy after mailing off all those Flat Rate boxes...

So, yeah, I'm a little bit punch drunk and pack crazy right now. I might not be able to post anymore after this until I get to the Lower 48 and get somewhat settled. Hope you don't miss my crazy ramblings too much. (That's a lie. I want you all to miss me. Miss me lots!)


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