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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mayberry of the Midwest

Still here in Alaska, but rushing to get prepped for life in Iowa.  A lot of people who know of my impending move are still a little curious about my reasons. All I can say is that no one can understand why I'm going unless they know where I've been for so many years.

My new town? I'll call it Mayberry of the Midwest. Mayberry. Not because it's small, quaint and country, but because it's everything I'm hoping it will be: small, quaint and country.

I'm looking to Mayberry for some physical, spiritual, social and financial healing. The last several years of living in Arizona, Texas and, back here, in Alaska have broken me in way that only God can fix. Living in a more affordable place is my first step to recovery.

Arizona ruined me financially; Texas broke my heart; and Alaska is too cold and expensive to give me anything I need in my life right now.  I want to be in a new place in my body and in my heart. I want the promises that sometimes a place can only offer a specific type of person at a certain time in their life.

What I've heard about "Mayberry" is that there is plenty of fresh air, a friendly (and sparse) population of church-going people. I've heard of old trees in the yards, unlocked doors on the residences. I envision being welcomed should I approach a neighbor for a borrowed cup of sugar. Okay, that might be pushing the technicolor dreams too hard. Still, I need a break from the harsh glare of the life I've been living.

I am looking forward to making a home for myself. A place to put my few belonging and enjoy them in peace. I want a home that makes me feel safe and calm and ready to go out and re-insert myself in the land of the working. I can't wait to put up family photographs and surround myself with cheap and precious furnishings. I am craving a a space to cook and dine in that is clean, cozy and functional. I want to sleep in comfort and quiet. Waking up in the morning to appreciation of simple blessings is another goal. I can't wait to plant a small garden, nurture potted plants and, maybe, have herbs and spices on my windowsill. This home that I dream of is full of fresh air and light, smelling of flowers (grown or sprayed from a can) and hope.

I suppose I am dreaming of a home and life that can be had anywhere, as long as one can afford it.

When I look back on the past seven to ten years of my life, I have memories of drudgery and resentment and a lack of cooperation from the people I aimed to please. Until I gained the dreams of Mayberry, my future was a dark cloud of being crowded and forced to go along to get along. I haven't been so much living a life to enjoy than just moving from day to day in survival  mode. Survival is like breathing: an automatic urge. Living is something only those with true hope and contentment can fully enjoy.

I don't wish on stars in the sky or rely on man-made promises. Stars burn out and men are only flawed and human. God, though, is a steady presence. He comes through every time. At the end of every road, in the darkest and loneliest of moods, He comes with hope and strength.  I've walked myself toward many bridges in this life of mine, but I have never been able to cross a single one of them without the Lord holding my hand.

So now, I begin this walk towards Mayberry. The bridge is a little rickety and, despite what I've heard, I'm not really sure what's on the other side. I'm just walking in faith.

Watch this space for stories of what I find on the other side. For now, goodnight.

Peace

--Free

Friday, June 27, 2014

**Quickie Post** Valley Radio News (Shocking. Not.)

This station bills itself as Mat-Su Valley's first news talk station.

1. The Valley has a rep here in Anchorage.
2. This station just added some negative juice to the rep.
3. Maybe I'm being touchy, but: my blog, my views.  I don't have a radio presence.

Never listened to this station before. Only listened by accident earlier today because I bumped the radio knob while plugging in my phone charger.

I tuned in just as the hosts were doing something called the "Hip Hop Review" segment. Apparently, they feel that parents need info on who and what their kids are listening to as far as music. Today the discussion was a highlight of news of some court-bound rappers. I agreed with what they had to say. I was a little put off by how they said it: mimicking the speech and speech patterns/slang of what they think rappers sound like.

Now, I am the biggest anti-thug, anti-violence person in my circle. I literally preach to the young people in my life about the madness of most "thug" music.

So, what's my problem with this segment that I heard? Not much. I'm just wondering if they have a segment on other types of music/artists who are such bad role models for kids. I won't be tuning back in to find out. I won't be tuning back in to that station. Ever.

Like I said, I don't have a radio presence. If I did, I wouldn't dare generalize the Mat-Su residents with the common stereotypes assigned to them. I know that they are not all pot-smoking/growing/dealing, wild-eyed nutcases, "trailer trash", lunatic fringe of the frozen North. I know that, but someone hearing a radio show that talks that talk might not know that.

Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** Day by Day Vitamin C Serum


This is the second Vitamin C Serum I have tried. The ingredients (and results) are very similar to the first serum I reviewed. This time, I am using the Vitamin C Serum from Day by Day Beauty.


 Not to be shallow, but the bottle is certainly the prettier one of the two. Also, I find that I like having a pump dispenser rather than the squeeze-dropper type.



The ingredients were so much the same that I had trouble finding the difference. This is good because one of the things I like in any product is simple ingredients:
Deionized Aqua (Water), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (Botanical Hyaluronic Acid), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Carbomer, Arginine, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxy- ethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin, Organic Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola Extract), Organic Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant Extract), Organic Pelagonium Gravoleons (Geranium Extract), Organic Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion Extract


This Vitamin C serum is a little easier to apply because it's remain damp long enough to smooth onto the skin. The smell is almost non-existent - another plus.

Is it working? Well, it's good. Because I went straight from one very similar serum into using this one, I feel that I am getting benefits of continual use. This serum costs around $30 and can be ordered via the Day by Day site or from Amazon. Day by Day's customer services is really good. They offer 3 customer promises that are really appealing:
  1. Hassle-free returns
  2. Fast shipping
  3. Satisfaction guarantee
I can vouch for the fast shipping (and good packaging of the product). Because this one is the more expensive of the two serums, I would have to check for price breaks if I were to buy it. I do notice that I use a little less per application - due to the "wetter" formula. 

Do I like this? Yes. Will I continue using? Yes. Will I purchase in the future? Probably. Depends on price or sales. Like I said, it's a bit pricier than I can easily afford. Will I recommend it to friends? I have already.

Since I've used Vitamin C serums, I'm curious about how many other people have tried them. Unlike makeup and moisturizers, there aren't a lot of Vitamin C serums on the shelves of the well-known retailers I shop at. Of course, I haven't been paying much attention, but I will be now.

Peace
--Free

DISCLOSURE NOTICE:

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Annoyed by Advertising

As I am packing up, I spend lots of time watching shows on either Netflix or Hulu. Netflix is my favorite because I get to watch my shows ad-free. Hulu... Well, I wonder sometimes why I even bother to watch anything on Hulu. For one thing, they have this annoying habit of asking which ad I'd prefer viewing. Seriously? I'd prefer not having to use the Page Reload trick to skip the usual 5 commercials they show.

Are there ads that I don't mind? Sure. I liked the one with the little girl "driving" from the backseat while her dad does donuts in a parking lot. I liked it. The first twenty times I saw it. When I see it now, I find that adorable little girl to be an irritating brat I never want to see again.

I'm not just annoyed with TV ads. I hate almost any kind of advertising.

whatev
The worst advertisements are the ones that so clearly misrepresent the service of whatever company they hype. Capital One? Yeah, I want them in my wallet until I'm two days late with a payment. Bank of America? Well, they might want to sell themselves as a giant of customer service, but I've seen first-hand how lousy they are at employee relations... Such a joke.

Whenever Jennifer Aniston comes on to tell us how Aveeno is her secret weapon of beauty, I want to ask for a notarized statement of truth about the photoshop and makeup artists that are hiding behind the backdrop. Come on now. There's nothing wrong with a little vanity, but when you are lying to your fans about your "natural" beauty, I start seeing visions of Diane Keaton's and Ellen's un-photoshopped pics. Fight the battle of the wrinkles in the front lines next to me, but stop lying about your results.

Then there is the ad for some car. The prospective customer is hesitating over his purchase until he recalls all the good deals he's missed out on his life: dumping some now-famous actress because she was ugly; skipping out on the Twitter start-up because he didn't understand the 140 character idea... So, yeah, he better jump right on buying this new car. That's so stupid, all I can do is shake my head. The girl was an investment in love, the start-up was an investment in finances. The car? That's going to lose value the minute you get your car keys from the dealer.

Is it that ad agencies are lazy? Or do they just realize most of us pay only the most minor attention to anything we see or hear?

Tell you what, I was fascinated when someone took screen shots of all the fine print shown in minuscule font at the bottoms of most ads. I still needed to wear two pairs of glasses to see the enlarged shots of those. Once I saw them, I realized I'd need a top attorney, a linguistics expert and an inside man from Madison Avenue to interpret the fine print.

Why not just advertise what you're selling without all the lies, hoopla and spin? Just tell me that the candy tastes good. I don't need to believe it's going to make me see psychedelic colors or swim across the moon. I just want to know whether it's chocolate or not, does or does not have nuts, and maybe if I can buy it in a multi-pack or singles. If you're selling makeup, I only need to know if it's got sunscreen and what shades it comes in. Laundry soap: with bleach or without?

Car commercials are the most outrageous. Apparently, car companies are selling way more than a machine that goes forward, backwards and stops. I guess it's not a "car" if it doesn't talk to you or entertain you. Oh, and don't forget that any decent car must inspire drivers to play music inspired by Motown or 80's teen movies so that people pulling up alongside in traffic will want to dance and sing along with you and your car. Huh?

And what's with the people in the commercials? Where are all the folks that I can relate to? I've never seen people so happy to do dishes, laundry or other chores as the ones who appear in commercials. If we believe advertising, all our homes are full of light and sunshine and families who are nicely and neatly dressed enough to, well, appear in another ad.

Even the sort-of-cute ads by the popular nighttime cold medicine was a laughable jab at my self-esteem. You know the one - it showed people getting such a good night sleep that they were (supposedly) unconcerned with the way they looked. Yeah. Out of five or six people, there was one seriously real-life looking chick. She must have really had a cold at the time she filmed. The others - hah! - they could have been models for a pin-up calendar called "Sick and Sexy". (I might need to work on that title, but you get what I mean.)

I'm so sick of commercials now that, as I'm packing, I get the most stuff done the minute I hear an advertisement begin.

Maybe when ad agencies realize that they are starting to get stale with their "new and fresh" approach, they will just get back to basics. We really only need to know 3 things about any product: what it is, how much it costs, where we can buy it. Otherwise, it's all "adverse-tising".

I'm dreaming into a worm hole if I think even one advertiser gives a whit what I think. But, um, isn't that the whole point of their existence?

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What I Learned from Taking Surveys


Survey says...
Because I belong to quite a few blogger/brand "influencer" sites (like SheSpeaks, BzzAgent, etc.), I participate in all kinds of surveys. Sometimes, I catch myself laughing at my own responses.

One survey asked about my health and fitness habits. I'm no stone cold couch potato, but I felt like one after I had to answer this question: "How many hours do you exercise in a week?" My answer choices were: 5-10 hours, 10-15 hours, 15-20 hours, more than 20 hours.

I was a little ashamed that, even if I count stretching the truth, there's no way I can cop to 5 hours per week. If I count the time I spend on the Glider and time spent chasing after DJ, plus any random sit-ups I get in before bedtime, I might be able to claim 3 hours. In a good week. Okay, it's really closer to 2, but chasing DJ should get extra points, right?

What I want to know is, who the heck with a real life and normal brain function has 20 hours a week to exercise?

I don't think I've spent a total of 20 hours in my lifetime even thinking about exercising. 20 hours a week is a part time job. Who has 20 hours a week just for exercise? Okay - who other than a celebrity who is paid to look impossibly fit two weeks after giving birth to a couple of kids? In the real world, there are mommies and daddies who don't get 20 hours of sleep in a week.

So yeah.

Another survey wanted to know about my non-food shopping habits. Apparently, most people (or at least the people who write these surveys) have way more disposable income than I do. My self-esteem crawled into a gutter and died a painful death when I realized I buy so few name-brand, top-label, better-known, coupon-resistant items that my razors are made in a country I had to look up on a map to be sure it was a real place.

Probably the funniest survey I ever took was one to do with travel. I gave up halfway through it when I realized that I was tempted to lie about the last time I took a planned vacation. To be strictly honest, I haven't "planned a vacation" in years. I have planned fleeing a crazy spouse. I have planned family emergencies. I have even planned a fake vacation to avoid a person who wrongly assumes we are friends and that I would want him staying with me for a couple of weeks.  That time I went to Rome. In my imagination. It was lovely. I plan to go back one day - when those plans involve an actual passport and suitcases.

I think I'm going to have to devise my own surveys, if I want to see questions that are more fitting to my life and lifestyle. Maybe I will post some of them on here one day. Just for kicks.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Hair Obsession

What a bad combo: fire and hair. Right?




Apparently, this is about to become the latest thing in hair care. I'm pretty sure there are going to be people going into business, advertising their choice of candles and methods of burning. You know how it goes: some new thing comes along and everybody has to try it, buy it or sell it. Until the next "new" thing comes around.

When I think of hair and even just a too-hot curling iron, this image pops into my head:


No thank.

All someone has to do is tell us that a celebrity or model - or one of their friends, advisors or acquaintances - is doing something and we all go hop on the bandwagon. We don't care where the wagon is headed, but we're buying tickets to ride...

It's funny that the same news outlet that touts so many of these "trends" is just as quick to badmouth them.

The most bizarre thing that came up in a search or hair treatments is this one:

BULL +      
SEMEN +   

HAIR      


Okay, that sperm pic is more acceptable than a pic of semen, but... Yeah. There is a bull semen treatment for the hair. Apparently.

The $138 price didn't faze me. I was fazed enough by the idea of having semen in my hair. Come on, now!

The average person can come up with using just about anything in hair to treat different issues. Heh heh. Back when my cousins and I were young and wanted to moisturize and tame our styles, we used plain old lotion. I had never heard of using Nivea or Coca Cola. When someone named Jane suggested using a Pritt stick for unwanted curls, I had to look up what the heck a "Pritt stick" is.

This is a Pritt Stick

Also known as a glue stick
Well, there ya go.

If we aren't treating our hair, we are tormenting it. With heat and cold and slime and devices. When I look at some of the hairstyles that have come and gone (and come again), I remember one that I wore back when I was about 13. I'm not sure if the style had a name, but I called it the Unicorn. I pulled my hair, ponytail style, to the very top of my head, secured it with a rubberband. Instead of a "Pony", I twisted the hair so that it stood straight up. I'm sure I can find an image of something similar...

Okay, maybe it was just us crazy country gals doing that particular thing. I couldn't find a pic, but let's go back to passing hairstyles and just imagine this one...

Cool. Unless you have a 9 to 5

... except with just one of those braids sticking straight up into the air.

sigh

Out of all the hair trends and styles I've gone through in my life, I have to admit that I most like being "natural". I don't have to spend so much money on straightening and styling. For me, my naps are my get-up-and-go style. If I have to, I can jump out of the shower, spritz on some curl moisturizer and go start my day.

With relaxed hair, I had to either spend too much time on my hair before bed - curling or tying it up; or too much time on waking - styling or taming it. I don't even want to think about the chemicals used to relax it every six weeks or so. Lye or no-lye, something was doing the work of straightening hair that wanted to curl.

Now that I am moving to a more humid state, I'm hoping that my hair will be even happier. When I lived in England, I wore cornrows almost constantly and never even had to use moisturizer. My hair was in better shape than any other part of my life!

So, I'm working on losing the hair obsession. Though I might try the Pritt stick treatment. Just for kicks.

Peace
--Free

Monday, June 23, 2014

**REVIEW** (comparison) Day by Day Vitamin C Serum

I really love getting to try all these products through my brand-blogger memberships. My mailbox has been stuffed lately with different samples and items.

The two latest products arrived today ("today" being June 21st), so let me start with one from my membership with Tomoson. It's Vitamin C Serum from Day by Day Beauty.

Hope so

Only the bottle is blue.
The serum is clear.

Comes with a little screw-in pump top to replace the shipping cap. Also got a freebie code for downloading a guide of "sexy skin secrets".

I blurred the freebie code...
They included a guarantee to "make it right" with the customer who's not 100% satisfied. Period. I like the sound of that.


Now, I have tried one other Vitamin C serum - Nature's Best by Mystelic - and I will have to update that post with photos to show that I actually do have results. My smile lines are definitely diminished.

First thing I did when I got this Vitamin C serum from Day by Day was to do a "touch test" comparing it to the Nature's Best. Results: Day by Day's stayed wet longer, while Nature's Best dried quicker. There wasn't a lot of difference in the feel other than that, so I took a look at the ingredients for both products:

Day by Day
Deionized Aqua (Water), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (Botanical Hyaluronic Acid), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Carbomer, Arginine, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxy- ethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin, Organic Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola Extract), Organic Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant Extract), Organic Pelagonium Gravoleons (Geranium Extract), Organic Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion Extract).

Nature's Best
Deionized Aqua, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (Botanical Hyaluronic Acid), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Carbomer, Arginine, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin, Organic Aloe Barbardensis Leaf, Organic Centella Asiatica, Organic Equisetum Arvense, Organic Pelagonium Gravoleons, Organic Taraxacum O cinale

Pretty similar, right? Nature's Best last ingredient is one more than what Day by Day has.

I will start using this in the next week or so - when I am finished with my Nature's Best. I did try it tonight just to see what it felt like on my face and under my nighttime moisturizer. It felt nice and, like I said, just stayed moist a bit longer than the other serum.

When I update the review after using it for a while, I hope to have photos. I have some "before" shots, but I'm lousy about taking selfies. I hate the way I look in most photos, so... Watch this space.

Peace
--Free

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge (in exhange for a review) as a reviewer for Tomoson.com. I did not receive any other compensation.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Weekend Music/Packing and Praying

I'm getting a little overwhelmed with the packing. I wish it would rain like it did yesterday.

This is the way I feel right now - not good, not bad, not happy, not sad. Sort of sleepwalking through what I need to get done.



Peace
--Free

Saturday, June 21, 2014

**UPDATE** Name This Plant (So I Can Kill It)

This is a plant I picked up for my sister for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day 2014


I need someone to tell me what kind of plant this is. There was no label on it except for one on the bottom explaining its care: lots of direct sunlight & very little watering. It was a perfect plant for me since my thumb so brown (heh heh) that I once killed a cactus. My sister, on the other hand (heh heh), can grow anything. She almost revived my catcus, but I'd done too much damage! She's been sick and neglecting her plants & this one still looks better than ones I've watered and babied...

This is probably the most interesting plant I've ever seen. The "leaves" are hard and almost woodlike to the touch. I thought it would just stay looking the same as when I bought it but, no, it gets more beautiful and interesting every week.

Here is what the plant looked like today:

June 2014
It's been missing my sister's care
Notice that it's beginning to flower. And this is after not having daily care for about two and a half weeks. Now that my sister is back taking care of it, I can't wait to see what it will look like.

The thing is, now that I am going to be moving and have a shot at living in a house (versus an apartment), I plan to try my hand with some decorative plants and *gasp* maybe a garden...? My sister-in-law has done a wonderful job with her garden.

corn, green beans & taters

look at this!

cucumbers. (YUM)


I feel freaking inspired.

Of course, my garden might not look so good. I have a feeling that my first attempt might look more like this:

probably something poisonous...
Oh well. It will be nice to be able to give it a try.

Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** Frownies Immune Perfect Continuous Hydration

When I joined Swaggable, I spent weeks clicking the "Want" button for tons of products. I got discouraged and gave up when I never heard back on any samples. Finally, about a week ago, I got this one:


4 mL
Hmmm... Kind of tiny, right?

The two reasons that made me "Want" this just from seeing the description? 1) Immune and 2) continuous hydration. Sounds good to me.

There aren't a ton of ingredients. I like the first 3 things listed, but I had to look up the last one.


When I searched on"water soluble melanin", the first result was for a patent. Reading the abstract, this is the line that stood out for me:
The melanin is also useful for providing a sun-screen to mammalian skin and hair, to treat post-inflammatory hypo- and hyperpigmentation...
I lost my sunscreen the other day while making a huge mess packing things up. Plus, my skin reacts to stress by drying up, and I've had my share of stress lately, so I was even more ready to give this "hydration" a try.

Oddly colored, isn't it?
Remember that I mentioned the small sample size? Well, I didn't need much at all to cover my face and neck. The stuff is really nice. It feels thin and just kind of glides onto the skin. I've used out of the one sample twice already and think I can get another one (maybe two) more uses from it.

Because I like the way it makes my skin feel, I was sure that it was going to be priced too high for me to ever buy any. I went over to the Immune Perfect site to check things out.

Frownies (funny name) has an interesting history and some pretty interesting-looking products that are more reasonably priced than I expected. I was surprised that the Immune Perfect is a wrinkle cream. I was thrilled to see that it's available in different sizes. It's cool to have a choice to try out a smaller, less expensive size portion of the product.

Like I said, I've only gotten a couple uses out of this sample but, so far, I really do like it. I'd have to use it for a while longer to notice whether or not there's a visible change, but I like the idea of the sun protection.

Not bad for my first Swaggable sample. Of course, I haven't heard back on any of the other Wants...

Now I have to get back to packing up my life!

Peace
--Free

Friday, June 20, 2014

Right Reasons, Right Actions

When I began telling friends that I was thinking of relocating, a lot of them understood my initial reason: cost of living. It's too high here and it's more affordable "there".

Lots of people relocated for lots of reasons. Some people move for a job or for a lover; to regroup and refresh, or get their life back on track; or just because they can't stand being in one place for too long. Some people move even when they don't want to or without knowing why. Now that I have pretty much made up my mind to relocate, I want to point out the reason that will seal the decision: my faith.

The first thing that I heard about my potential new home was how sincerely nice the people are. Out of the conversation I had with my family (who lives there), the part that sticks in my mind is when my brother said: "People don't just pray for you, they actually care for you. They don't just say 'Have a nice day', they mean it."

I can't tell you how many times I've had someone say to me (and I to them), "I'll be praying for you", only to have them say the prayer and move on with their life. Did they, or I, follow up on the prayer by checking back to see how things are going? Probably not. Unless they are very close and dear to me, I know that I often felt my duty as a person ended with the "Amen" of the prayer.

There have been times when I have followed up prayers for others with a letter or phone call. I've sincerely cared what happens to the other person. There have been times when people have done more than pray for me.

I think that, as Christians, we sometimes forget that we are brothers and sisters. Instead of asking God in our prayers to bless one another, we could be doing a little blessing of our own. We could be helping that single mother with the kids by offering to babysit or provide a meal. We could be giving our cast-off furniture to the family next door instead of dropping it off at a donation center for the write-off receipt.

For years, whenever my mother saw someone inebriated or homeless, standing on the street corner with signs asking for a handout, I never once heard her say that she'd be praying for them. Instead, Mom would go somewhere and buy a hot meal and coffee and take it back to that person. Then she would pray that they were going to be nourished and blessed by that offering.

I truly believe that a lot of time, when we say that we are going to be praying for someone, we are just speaking out loud that we are Christians. I'd much rather have - and do - the action of Christianity. After all, we will even pray for our enemies. Why aren't we also doing for our brothers and sisters?
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Matthew 25:35-36
After that conversation with my brother, I decided that I want to be more of a Christian in action that one who just prays for people. Whether or not this new place turns out to be all that my brother says it is, I can be all that I promised to be as a Christian.

I've been the one who, either in body or spirit, was thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and in prison. Thank God for brothers and sisters who didn't just stop at "praying" for me.

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reunion of the Youngest

I have a younger brother. We are not the youngest of six siblings, we are also most alike in temperament. We have both lived lives that have soared too high and dropped too low. Now, in our more mature years, we may have the chance to share some years of balance and calm.

My "little" brother (who towers over me), is a gently soul. When he tried to live a life hidden in other people's dreams, he soared. When he tried to live a life that he thought he wanted, and found it so contrary to what his heart is meant for, he dropped.

His life and mine have been so similar, yet wildly different. We've flown, and not been happy; we began falling from the heights, and still felt lost. When we hit ground, we had the humility to look to God. We've been rescued and redeemed; picked up and dusted off. We are here.

Soon, God willing, I will be living near my little brother again. We've made it through everything to find ourselves as grown-up versions of the children we used to be.

It's such a beauty and a blessing.


I was watching out for my little brother...

This time, my "little" brother is the one honoring our parents by watching out for me. Thanks, bro.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Every Time I Need an Answer

Out of all my storms, I am beginning to see glimpses of sun.

In the past several days, I think I've lost a few pounds just from the stress. I haven't been able to eat or sleep or settle my thoughts. I did manage to pray.

Today, our family got a couple pieces of cautious good news. We're not flying banners yet, but we are feeling more hopeful. As for my personal situation, I got a big dose of hope too.

All the songs tell us that all we need is love. Love is nice and I try to never turn down the right kind, but it's hope that keeps me going from day to day.

I can't go into detail yet, but I am thinking of making some huge changes in my life. Huge. Major. Good and hopeful changes. Lord knows, I've made big changes before, but they were never just for me. I've made job changes, location changes and relationship changes - always for the benefit of others. This time, I'm only having to think of myself. It's scary as hell!

We'll see what the coming days bring. For now, I am just enjoying the weightlessness of peace.

If you've read even a fourth of my blog posts, you know that one of my favorite writers is Zora Neale Hurston. After I finished thanking God for this peace I am feeling, one of my best-loved Hurston quotes came to mind:
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ( from "Their Eyes Were Watching God")
Perfectly true. Every time my life asks questions, God provides an answer. This time He gave an answer I was happy to hear.

More later, when I have things firmed up.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pack and Go Life

I just had to stop what I was doing and write this post.

While apartment hunting, I began de-cluttering my life. I didn't realize how much useless "stuff" I've been packing around the past few years.

When I owned a home, I had closets and pantries and storage space to spare. And I did everything I could to keep them filled up to over-flowing. After selling the first house and moving to Arizona into another (smaller) home, I still had too much stuff. Stuff I didn't wear, use or eat. Just stuff to fill spaces.

When I left Arizona and moved into my first apartment ever, I didn't have much with me. It was nice. It would have been heavenly if the rest of my life had been as de-cluttered and orderly.

Finally, when I returned to Alaska and back into a family home, I began my accumulation of, yep, more Stuff. Clothes and knick-knacks and trinkets and decorations. I carried a lot of it with me into my current situation.

Now that I am looking at moving into smaller accommodations, I'm getting rid of all that is unnecessary. I expected to feel some sense of loss or emptiness but, I'm shocked at how renewed I feel. There is a feeling of freedom and lightness that I don't think I have ever known.

When everything that has led up to my current move began, I felt frustrated and angry. Lord knows, I don't need the stress of a move in the middle of the chaos that is my life at the moment. I had a week or so of just being pissed off and anxious.

Then, like at every other needful time in my life, God stepped in. In the middle of what I like to call "my personal storm," He sent a blessing of peace and calmness. People who don't believe in a personal Savior will be shaking their heads and tsk-tsking this, but I know what's true.

Today, while I was packing and sorting things, and making runs to drop things off at Salvation Army, my anxieties ebbed and faded. In my heart, I felt so much quiet and stillness that I had to just stop and say, "Thank You."

As for the future, I am planning to practice what I call a "pack and go life." It applies to objects, people and possessions - both spiritual and material:

  • What I don't need, I won't have.
  • What doesn't feed and nourish me, I don't need.
  • What doesn't simplify or ease the way for me, I will avoid.
  • What doesn't bless or inspire me can't take up space.
Growing up, I was taught that everything happens for its own reasons - even if we can't see or understand or agree with those reasons. In times of trouble, I always doubt that, but it's always proved true in the end for me.

I hope that anyone else who is dealing with their own struggles right now will find this kind of calmness and peacefulness. Those are the only things we should ever try owning in this life.

Peace
--Free

*REVIEW** Adovia Mineral Lift Serum

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Have been using another product from one of my faves: Adovia. This time, I'm trying out one of their face care items. It's Mineral Lift Serum and it's formulated for all skin types.



I've used Olay's Regenerist serum in the past and I like it okay, but my skin needed a break from it. The Mineral Lift Serum is a nice change. The texture is not as thin as Olay's.

Here are the things it's supposed to do:

  • Firms and Tightens skin with a visible lift that can be felt immediately
  • Highly concentrated serum infuses skin with Dead Sea Minerals, Green Tea, Seaweed, Vitamin C and much more.
  • Protects skin from pollutants and weather damage that can clog pores and cause wrinkles and breakouts.
  • Feeds skin the nutrients it needs to look youthful and naturally beautiful

You can "Use as a base under your moisturizer or anti wrinkle cream for maximum anti aging effect or use just the serum".

I chose to try it both ways: under my moisturizer and alone. With my moisturizer, it was fine, but I didn't really notice any drastic difference in the way my skin looked. When I used it solo, I found that it didn't moisturize enough because I tend to have drier skin. I did get a very faint sensation of tightening, but not much. I like the way it feels going on because it's lighter than other serums I've used and it didn't leave a sheen/shine to my skin. One thing I did see an immediate improvement in was how my skin looked without foundation makeup. That's a big one for me.

This is only Day Two, so I'll update the review in a couple of weeks. Like I mentioned, I do like that my skin looks pretty good without my foundation. Saves me some time and money.

The ingredients list is lengthy, but I always like to show what's in something:

Demineralised Water (Aqua) & Dead Sea Water,
Butylene Glycol,Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, 
Propylene Glycol & Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) Extract & Algae Extract & Papaya (Carica 
Papaya) Extract & Camellia Oleifera Extract (Green Tea) & Aloe Vera (Barbadensis) Gel, Glycerin, 
Sodium Lactate, 
Lactic Acid, 
C 13-14 Isoparaffin, 
Polysorbate 20, 
Polyacrylamide, 
Urea, 
Peg-12 Glyceryl Laurate, 
Peg-36 Castor Oil, 
Farnesyl Acetate, 
Silk Amino Acids, 
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Farnesol, 
Ethyl Linoleate, Laureth-7, 
Phenonip, 
Pvm/Ma Copolymer, 
Panthenol, 
Benzophenone-3, 
Saccharide Hydrolysate, 
Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis) Oil, 
Magnesium Aspartate, 
Glycine, 
Fragrance (Supplement), 
Sorbitol, 
Tea-Lactate, 
Serine, 
Creatine, 
Alanine, 
Orange (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis) Extract, 
Triethanolamine, 
Allantoin, 
Dead Sea Salt, 
Lauryl Diethylenediaminoglycine, 
Lauryl Aminopropylglycine, 
Benzoic Acid, 
Chlorphenesin, 
Dehydroacetic Acid, 
Benzalkonium Chloride, 
Hyaluronic Acid

Whew! Like I said, lots of stuff.

You can get the product at Cleopatra's Choice (where you can read more reviews) or via Amazon. I am pretty happy with this one and can't wait to see if I get more results over time.

Finally, I have to mention one more thing about Adovia/Cleopatra's Choice: the customer service there is excellent. They respond immediately to any questions. There aren't a lot of companies I can say that about recently.

Peace
--Free

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Un-reality of Reality Shows

On G+, Food Network recently asked for fans to describe the segment they'd like to see on one of the FN shows. I submitted that they should have a "real" non-chef person trying to create chef recipes with a normal budget. That got me thinking about TV in general.

Let's be honest. There's very little reality in the reality shows on TV.

When the Real Housewives first came on, the women didn't represent the average housewife - unless "average" meant married to someone very wealthy (or temporarily kind-of-sort-of wealthy) and living under/caving in to a lot of peer-pressure.  The current housewives are a little more established in their own rights as businesswomen, but are still extremely shallow and self-absorbed.

A true reality show about housewives would show more of the juggling and struggling that women in the home have to cope with nanny-free. There'd be no personal assistants, mansions with indoor basketball courts or trips to places that are on the average woman's "Dream Vacation" or bucket list instead of as a notation on the next film schedule. We'd see more women not wearing full-makeup and Spanx at 7 in the morning. We'd also see more of the kids and husbands. Oh - and those kids and husbands wouldn't be so interchangeable that no one would notice if the families did an overnight swap.

Real people, real kids, real life. It happens.
While I am on my rant about the Housewives, let me  just say that I have seen some of those wives when the camera catches them in full-on sunlight and at the wrong angle. They have bulges, sags and wrinkles just like other women past thirty (and all those heffas are waaaay past thirty, no matter what their lying mouths say), and if they don't it's because they: never eat carbs, ever; don't smile with any abandon; don't go anywhere without a hair-and-makeup person on standby; or they are constantly in pain from sucking it in.

What reality TV would have you think
(Maybe this post will be just about the Housewives. I've gotten on a roll here.)

Have you ever noticed that the kitchens and dining rooms in the Housewives homes are always perfectly clean? I mean, spotless. Even if they are making a batch of Rice Krispy Treats with the (clean and name-brand-attired) kids? There are never crumbs on the floor, goo on the counters, or mysterious stains on the sink back wall. I mean, I know they all have maids and such, but I just don't trust the nutrition or love of a meal made without wrecking the orderliness of the kitchen. When I feed kids, I want to see some evidence that they enjoyed the meal. They don't have to leave the mess of untrained animals being fed at the table, but it would be nice to know that a five-year old doesn't have the social manners of an 80-year old dowager.

Now let's talk about the Housewives' attire.

I would like to think that any woman who has ever been married and had - or has even been within 5 feet of a child - owns a raggedy pair of jeans. Or an ugly, stretched out sweater, or a sweatsuit without "Juicy" or "Victoria's Secret" stitched on it. All the Housewives on TV have perfectly fitting clothes (well, usually) with matching accessories for any occasion. Their sandals never have those little loose threads that show wear and tear from more than one use. Their toenails are always perfectly painted and the heels of their feet are never ashy. Ever. It's as if their skin oozes lotion.

I don't trust a woman who doesn't have to occasionally check her feet or elbows for ash. I have to keep a bottle of lotion on my person at all times and I have had to apologize about the state of my feet before whipping out my dogs for the doctor to do an examination.

What do I know? I'm not a housewife. Even if I one day marry the man of my dreams, I hope to God I never turn into a Housewife. I don't have the willpower. I'm just a single woman with no kids and there are days when I have to do a wheat grass shot before I have the energy to put on makeup. So enough about those women. Let's talk about the food shows.

I have a couple of food show favorites. Guy Fieri is my hero. I love "Diner, Drive-ins and Dives". Lots of real folks cooking and eating real food. That's cool stuff. Except it makes me hungry. I once wanted to move across the coast because of an episode on the best hamburgers made from scratch. Plus Guy looks like a big, tall cute Teddy Bear with cool shades.

My least favorite food shows are the ones where supposedly "real people" do everyday meals.

An "everyday meal" for me doesn't involve fresh-caught lobster or farm-grown ingredients that come from a market in some famous New York district to be cooked up in my cozy kitchen with two ovens and a built-in prep station. I shop at Walmart. I want to see some shows about how to jazz up my tuna casserole without using ingredients that are trending on Twitter among highbrow foodies.

A bit much?

Rachel Ray is annoying, but she's kind of down-to-earth with her meals. Of course, if I wanted to use her branded kitchen items, I'd have to hock my mama's jewelry to make a down-payment on one pan. Bonus points: Walmart carries the Rachel Ray line. They also carry a Paula Dean set that rubs way above the budget of a regular Walmart shopper. I'd need to give up a PFD to accessorize a kitchen with Ray and Dean.

I enjoy watching Giada sometimes just to marvel at how perfectly even and white her teeth are. I do get a little depressed watching her chow down like a truck driver while wearing size-two clothing. Bonus points: she actually seems to enjoy eating.

One day someone is going to do a cooking show for the person who has an oven with a faulty temp gauge and that one burner that always leans a little to the right. Most of the ingredients will be variable. No arugula or Tibetan pepper? No problem. Just use the Mrs Dash that's been sitting in the back of the pantry so long that you have to pound the can against the sink to loosen the flakes. Tell us how to make a decent meal from the fatty ground beef that's always on sale - because not everyone can afford the low-fat, choice ground that they keep behind glass at the butcher's counter. Not all of us shop at a butcher's counter.

So, yeah, I'm kind of over the b.s. of most of these shows.

Reality shows are going to be a joke until they are about "real" people living real lives. Most of us don't have sex tapes for sale, clothing lines in the works, or famous exes. Most of us are just seriously real people trying to survive in a seriously real world.

My "real world" makes me want one of these!
Peace
--Free

I Have a Cold So I'm Sharing It

Ugh.

I'm starting an apartment hunt, continuing a job hunt, dealing with a family crisis, and .... now I have a cold. If my situation gets any better, I'm going to tie a balloon to my butt and do the Happy Dance the next time I sneeze.

What is it about something as common as the "common" cold that zaps your will to even get out of bed and brush your teeth in the morning (or just get out of the bed)? Well, since I have to be running around the rest of the day, and since I am sitting up just to breathe without strangling myself with congestion, I thought I'd look into this.


So, if I also had a fever, this would be the flu? Huh. I don't get fevers. Ever. I can be under attact from some strange and oddly-named  disease and not get a fever. I have been under attack from such a disease. No fever. I get the chills and sweats and hacking and sensation of creeping towards the gates of Death, but, nope, no fever for me. I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm just saying.

As far as my cold being caused by the rhinovirus, I say, "Hah! That's what 'they' say." I say my cold was caused by the rhino-baby of terror that is called D.J. That little brat nephew of mine gave me this misery when he was slopping kisses on me the other day. If I just have to be sick, I'd rather think of his slobbery little face-kisses causing it than some prehistoric-sounding something-virus.

It's not being sick that I mind so much - because I know there are worse things to be sick with - it's just that this comes when I have too much else going on in my life. I don't have time to be sick.


I don't want to be that person who doesn't stay away from others while ill, keeping their germs private, but I don't have the luxury of hibernating right now. I have jobs to seek out, apartments to find, appointments to meet, and errands to run. Dangit, I envy people with a less complicated life! Guess I will just have to keep my purse-sized bottle of Purell full and on the ready.

At any rate, that first video was informative (and took my mind off my misery for 3 minutes) and a bit reassuring. Except for the whole "lasts about 7 to 10 days for a person with normal health. There's always a kicker, isn't there?

By the way, as much as I learned from the two videos, I could just sum up my cold situation with pictures:

My personal little virus

Always trying to drive!
 Hahaha

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm a Survivor

My latest Netflix marathon was one of watching "I Shouldn't Be Alive". It reminds me a lot of another favorite: "I Survived".

Since the show is about people who came out of situations that should have broken them, body and soul, I kept relating to each episode on a personal level. Every time someone said something like "Help was so close, yet so far away" or "It was just within my reach, but I just couldn't catch hold", I found myself thinking about my own life and trials.

I know the Master of the wind
After I watched half a season worth of shows, I wanted to be depressed. Then I thought of something: all those people, in all those precarious situations, had come out alive. They had survived, mainly because they had just refused to give up.

With everything going crazy in my life right now, I've decided that I'm going to come out a survivor. When I look back on this past few months (and maybe a future month or two) of my life, I'm going to remind myself that I survived. Anything and anyone trying to break me is going to fail.

I'm thinking now of a Bible verse. I'm going to write it on a piece of paper to keep on my person. On the days when I feel myself getting tired, I'm going to pull out that paper and read it.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17)
Peace
--Free

Sunday, June 08, 2014

**REVIEW** Africa's Best Hair Mayonnaise

My hair is pretty happy right now. Between the shampoo and conditioner that I am so in love with and this new leave-in, I feel as if I'm wearing someone else's hair. Someone else with soft, moisturized and nourished hair.

I'm a little bit ticked off. Here, I've been using all kinds of pricier potions, lotions, curl butters and creams and this four dollar and sixty-four cent product is sitting right there on the shelf. I had noticed it before but passed on trying it. I've tried other "hair mayos" and they just coated my hair with a greasy, messy slime that I couldn't wait to rinse out. Not this stuff.


$4.64 at Dimond Walmart in Anchorage
I'm too freaking tired to try doing a selfie - plus the light is horrible right now - but, I'll try to describe what my hair feels like. It's soft and moist without being wet (get Prince off your brains!). I can touch my hair and not leave prints on paperwork. It's just a perfect leave-in follow-up for my new shampoo and conditioner duo. I can certainly see why it will stop breakage. I'm not sure how it would work for ladies who want to use heated curlers or irons on their hair, but it's really handling the heck out of this problem of dry hair for me.

Looks icky. Smells okay. Feels wonderful.
Still trying to identify those brown-ish bits in there
I have seen other products from Organics by Africa's Best (which is under the banner of House of Cheatham, which makes the site hard to locate online), and I bet most of you have seen the products. Apparently, the Hair Mayo is new - or at least I have this "new and improved" version of it.

At first, I thought that, despite the "leave-in" aspect, I would have to rinse it to avoid a head full of greasy curls.

I followed the "daily use" directions. Sort of.
The "daily use" directions are to use a small amount, so I did. Until I could almost hear my thirsty hair slurping up the mayo. Because I could immediately tell that my hair liked the cream, I went ahead and applied a bit to my scalp and tips, then did a little curl-massage. And... WOW.

Like I talked about before, I am loving the Adovia shampoo and conditioner. My hair is not as dried out as usual even a few days after washing it. Matter of fact, this mayo is the first product I have applied. Once again, between the shampoo, wash-out conditioner and the mayo, I think I am set for a hair-care routine. Maybe I will start retaining and expanding on the new growth trying to come in lately. My problem has never been growth, it's always breakage.

I took a look at the ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Polyquaternium-32, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Dicetyldimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lanolin Oil, Dimethicone Copolyol Laurate, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Parfum (Fragrance), Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Origanum Vulgare (Oregano), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Equisetum Hyemale (Horsetail) Extract, Soluble Collagen, Tocopherol, Panthenol, Ovum (Egg Powder), Yellow No. 5, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1.

I have seen a lot of the same things on other hair products. By the way, as much as I love this mayo, I am pretty disappointed with the brand website. Other than having to hunt it down, once I found it, there wasn't much information about the individual products - like an ingredients list. I had to cop one from the product page on Amazon.

I have seen other bloggers mention this product. Some of them love it and some of them aren't thrilled with the ingredients. I saw a couple mentions of flaking and  Personally, the only problem I have with the ingredients are the little bits and pieces of what looks like remnants of nutshells. So far, I'm not bothered. I'm going to use it for a few days and see if I'm still this happy by then. If not, Walmart is pretty cool about returns/refunds/exchanges.

One last thing for people with different types of allergies/reactions to certain things: be careful to read the ingredients list and do the needed research. The mention of oils, extracts and egg-stuff made me wonder about that.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Alaska Run for Women 2014

Big thanks to everyone who came out for the Alaska Run for Women. So many people, so much love.

Oh, the fun we had...

Team Mike shirts for the guys (6:40AM)

My sis is pretty super! Her nephews know this.
This is gonna be a fave
 pic of me, my sis & my nephew



So many people!



Way more people than it looks like!

A fun group at the starting point
 for the 1 mile part of the  walk

We just finished hearing a beautiful
 version of the National Anthem

LOL! DJ was tired in his
Superman attire

Sandra "Mike" (sis)
said her head was cold. Hahahaha

Our sweet Shavonne in charge of pinning us all

Shavonne & Kenyatta hamming while
Mike, JP & Christine maintain normalcy



I loved the ladies in the tutus!

Our sweetheart Katie with Mike, DJ & JP
Me & Kenny photo-bombing them in background

Mike found out we were
in back joking around


Two of Katie's beautiful co-workers who came out
to offer support & walk with us. Sweetness!!!

DJ "wants & need his Auntie Mike"

Shavonne & the little sweeties
(those 3 young ladies did the 3 minute mile RUN!)


Nice spot for lunch afterwards

Is this not the cutest menu?

And... nourishment!

Um... that's what I call a "super" meal. HUGELY super

DJ & his daddy
Much love to Cherie & Shavonne for staying up all night to put the t-shirts together. One of the reasons our life storms are bearable is because of who we share umbrellas with. We're pretty blessed around here! #familyandfriends

(I'll be adding pics to the post as everyone sends me the ones they took!)

Peace
--Free