Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tales from the Vacay

Last night was the first night that (almost) all of us were under one roof for the evening. It was madness. And I loved it.

We are almost all together. Repping Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Maryland, California, and our host city of Arizona.

the one on the left wants to be
an astronaut. One of the right is just
spacey! LOL

Repping the AZ

She's going to kill me for this one!

DJ went wandering the halls
when he got bored with adults
He found the laundry room
but couldn't escape!

2 brothers, 1 sister, a sis-in-law and a niece

Nephews and girlfriends
and video games

Hope they aren't talking bizness
#realtors & #brokers

 Tonight is the biggie. I missed the morning's Turkey Bowl games (I mean, 7 in the morning! Really?)

Our last bit of family made it in at noon and midnight. We are now complete (except for the couple of us that couldn't get away from work and school... :-(

Let the Thanksgiving pre-fam events begin.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Vacay Stories 1

When my sister and I landed and were still sitting on the plane at Sky Harbor, first thing I saw when I turned my phone back on was a text from my niece: "I'm here! Made it to the airport by myself without getting lost!"  (She is here as a visitor too.)

I texted back that she'd have a little bit of a wait. As a wheelchair passenger, my sister boards ahead of everyone else but has to departs the plane last. When we finally got off the plane and were assisted to the gate, we are both anxiously looking for our niece. I don't see the my niece but I see the bright green shirt of her son - the infamous "baby" D.J.

The "boys" still can't get over how big DJ is

Yes, he getting big, and he is bigger than most about-to-be 3 year olds!

If D.J. is there, my niece must be nearby, but instead, I see one of my big brothers. Then I see another of my big brothers. YAY!!! Finally, I see my niece. We all run and do the hug-hug, love you-love you thing.

I tell my niece what a nice surprise - making us think she had come alone when she brought the boys too. She smiles but kind of rolls her eyes. I get the full story on that later from my other niece:

When my niece, C.C., said she would be picking us up at the airport, the boys told her they were going to the airport instead. (C.C. had just traveled ahead of us a week earlier. The boys haven't seen us in a while.)  C.C. insisted. The boys said nothing else. The day of our pick-up, the boys took off work, went to breakfast together, then showed up at the airport a whole hour early. Just to be the first ones there!

C.C. was outdone, but we all are still laughing at her.

It's been a good time so far.

D.J. has discovered that one auntie has a piano
He knows how to flex his fingers before "playing"

And their dog, who is skittish around him (unless D.J. has food)

Most of us are mid-age adults (who regress about 20 years in maturity when we get together)

Family. I don't always like them, but I love them all to pieces.


(I wish I could fix the photo layout, but... I'm on vacation)

Friday, November 21, 2014

**REVIEW** Power Bank Charger (for cellphones)

I'm going on a short trip soon and, as always, I worry about my phone dying while I'm in flight. Last time I travelled, I was using a mobile boarding app and I didn't notice that my battery was going low until I was in line for the boarding call. I ended up trying to hook up to an outlet for a quick five-minute charge before I had to leave the gate. Stressful.

I'm extremely forgetful and anxious, so I keep all kinds of apps on my phone: lists, notes, reminders, alarms, etc. And I have to check on these all the time. My phone battery hates me. I'm sure it does. I have chargers all over my car and the house. Some people walk into places looking for a good seat or the best view. I could walk into a bank in the middle of a robbery and I'd still be looking for the nearest electrical outlet.

So... When I saw this, I could only think of how perfect it is for anyone who is always running down their phone battery. In other words: me.

Instructions could be better (not everyone has used one of these before! lol), but I really like it. Today was my first use. It was showing a partial charge when I got it & did not take very long at all to charge to 100%. REALLY love that I can press the power button to check how much juice is left. When I hooked it up to my phone to charge it, that process was faster even than charging the Power Bank. This is going to come in handy for when I am travelling b/c I hate worrying about my phone dying while I'm in flight or standing in line to board. I got the red color & it's nice-looking, tho somewhat larger in size than what I expected

Still... purse/pocket sized
UPDATE:  Well, I go to really put this to the test on our way here to AZ. The charger worked great! Not only did I use it for my cell phone, I also used it to keep my tablet in use. It didn't fill my tablet's charge, but it still kept it going for a good 20 minutes. It might have gone longer, but I had to disconnect to board another flight.

Also, just because I was curious to know if it's possible, I learned that I can charge the charger by usb to my laptop. This was not recommended by the label, but... Now I know.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Leave NOW???

I'm getting packed for the sibling reunion in AZ & when I looked outside a couple hours ago, this is what I saw:

That's not ice rain or melting snow. That right there is a summer kind of rain shower...

 When I got up this morning, it was because it was too hot to sleep. I was throwing the window up and angling the fan right at my spot in the bed.... It's NOVEMBER. Seriously, Nature?

I'm not complaining. There are so many things I dislike about winter:

  1. Cold weather
  2. Snow
  3. Ice
  4. Crazy, reckless drivers
  5. Cold weather
  6. Snow...
I put the cold weather and snow twice because they are the two things that make me hate winter AND mornings. If the car is parked outside, I have to go and shovel it out, shovel it off, defrost the windows, and warm the interior. It's a good twenty-minute job sometimes. 

But not this winter (yet)!

This morning, I stepped out to prep the car and almost fell on my butt. Not because it was icy, but because it was so warm my body went into shock. I didn't even bother to warm up the car. No need wasting gas on that, right?

It was 41 degrees when I took this photo. In NOVEMBER. In Alaska.

If you think I'm complaining, I am - but not about the weather. My thing is, we are leaving tonight for the sibling reunion in Arizona. So... we maybe should have planned that for January? When the weather might actually be more Alaska-like?


**REVIEW** Weight Gurus

So excited when this Digital Body Fat Scale by Weight Gurus arrived. Not that I'm excited about my body fat, but... I need to know. Lord knows I need the motivation. This scale looks like it's going to really bring the motivation.

I haven't been 120-anything for about fifteen years!!!

First thing, let me tell you what a beautiful scale this is. It's the first scale I've ever owned that looks like it enhanced the decor of my bathroom! No pushing this one out of sight when I'm not using it. I'm keeping this bad boy on display. And that's okay because it can be customized for up to 8 users. (That's not an invitation though!)

Since my excitement might be contagious (and I hope it is), let me add that there are some folks who should not use this. The product box is clearly marked with some warnings:

  • Never to use in combo with medical electronic implants (such as pacemakers)
  • Not for use by kids under 10 years of age
  • Not for use by pregnant women
Paperwork enclosed with the scale advises further:
  • Not for use with medical devices such as artificial heart/lung support systems or portable electronic medical devices such as an electrocardiograph
  • Not to apply weight of more than 400 pounds on the scale
Now that I've gotten that bit out of the way...

Remember I mentioned how beautiful the scale is? Well, that photo up above doesn't really show it off. When I was trying to photograph (with my horrible skills) the scale to show you how thin it is, I captured this:

All you can see is the messy room's reflection!
Thing is so shiny, I could use it to do my makeup. 

What I was trying to capture was not the messy man-cave I was in, but how thin the scale is from the side view. Like this:

See the edge of it?
And, yes, it comes with batteries (cue the singing angels) so you don't have to worry about that.

Okay, so I fell in love right away with the design of the scale. My next step was to see how easy (or not) it is to use. Here's how that went:

Set up instructions were good. The scale has Select Mode with up and down arrows for you to choose User Number, Gender, Athlete (or not), Height, Age, Weight Mode and - of course - Weight. I did everything correctly on the first try except I realized I had somehow skipped past the Weight Mode. Also I had not downloaded the Android App (**** or for Apple) which is needed to scan the on-scale barcode and to sync my phone. 

I downloaded the app and then attempted to check my errors with the "Weight Mode" set-up.

Ahhh!!! I found another reason to LOVE this scale. There are 2 ways of checking your weight. You can go "traditional" and get a pound/kg weight reading, or you can go what they call 'weightless' (or what I choose to call 'highly motivational') and get a progress reading. As in + or - changes in your weight.

Setting up the app was not as easy as setting up the scale. The app was probably only confusing to me because I have a problem retaining instructions long enough to apply them. Other people might have no problem. Once I did get the app going, I had no trouble changing the scale to the Weightless Mode. Of course, I won't get any progress readings for a while. 

There's not much I don't love about this scale. Actually, there is not one thing I don't love about this scale. It's a great-looking device with a lot of useful features. One of the most important features is the price. The cost for this one is at or even lower than scales I've seen in local stores. Also, there is a 100% guarantee, a 5 year warranty, and help via the company's local offices, email or phone.

Anyone working toward a goal with their weight is going to benefit from this one. I already talked myself out of eating a donut, and Homer Simpson has nothing on me when it comes to loving a good donut.


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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

**REVIEW** Dead Sea Mud Mask

I know that I said I was taking a break from the skincare products, but... I needed something to pamper my face after testing all of the other items. This mud mask from InstaNatural kind of surprised me. It's their Dead Sea Mud Mask.

100% natural
 I've only regularly used one other mud mask treatment that I liked - because I'm not a huge fan of facial masks. The thing about this one that surprised me (nicely) was that there was absolutely zero smell. Not a nice one, not a funky one, not one that made me want to throw the jar and run away screaming. There is just no odor that I could detect. Good. You know how I am about that.

The ingredients list was the second surprise. For one thing, the Dead Sea mud was (heh heh) dead first. For another thing, the list is nice and short. I counted 11 items. And I can pronounce every one of them.) That makes the whole 'zero scent' thing kind of weird. You'd think I'd be able to smell at least a couple of these ingredients, right?

Unless I'm pronouncing that last ingredient wrong...
The third thing that I didn't expect at all is how much clearer this mask is on the skin. Usually, masks are super thick and chalky. This one went on in a thin coating.

You can see by my forehead that the mask is still damp in spots.

My "You drank all the coffee?" look

At the same time that I was thinking that it was nice not to have such a thick coat of mud on my face, I decided that more must be better, and I had to resist slathering on more product.

Doesn't it look as if it would be really thick?

 I'm glad that I resisted adding more. The amount I used was just fine. As it dried, it still didn't look as chalky and "cracking" as other masks. I worried that it might not be working but, when I rinsed my face, my skin did have that deeply-cleaned feeling. My face wasn't overly dried out (thank goodness) even when I waited ten minutes to moisturize.

Even though this mask is supposed to be good for blemishes and acne, my sensitive and combination skin didn't have a problem with it. As far as evening out my skin tone, I will have to use it more and on a regular basis before I can let you know about that.

This was a good mask treatment for me. I think of it as one that I could use regularly if I wanted and not have to worry about drying out my skin. (Note that the label warns about over-use!) The other mask I use is also a favorite, but I use it about once a month because it seems somehow stronger. Now that I have this one, I will be able to rotate the two.

Here's another plus with this mask. It comes in a huge 16-oz jar. Remember that I mentioned how little I used and got results? This is going to last me for a long while, and I will probably end up sharing it with my niece and sister. It's a good value for my beauty budget - which I have jokingly labelled in Excel as PoorButPretty.

As always, InstaNatural backs their products with wonderful customer service and a 100% money-back guarantee. Win-win, right?


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, November 15, 2014

**GIVEAWAY** Winner Announcement

We have a winna!

Thanks to all of you who participated. The winner is +Angela Monique Robinson & I'm really excited that she will get to try the Old Factory Candles.

As my first giveaway experience was kind of fun, I think I will be doing more of them in the future.


**REVIEW** Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair

My Influenster Vox Box came the other day so I got to try out Vaseline's Intensive Care Advanced Repair.

my thanks to Influenster
When I first looked over the label, other than wanting to rap the rhyming name of this lotion ...

Gimme a beat!
"Intensive care
Advanced Repair"

see the little droplets?
... I noticed that that the product is contains "micro-droplets pf Vaseline Jelly". That put me off a little because I always get a too-shiny look from Vaseline Jelly. I don't like that too-shiny look. For one thing, I am too dark skinned to walk around shining like new money. (My nickname is Penny, after all...)

Because I am all about giving peace products a chance, and because having a shine that will wash off is not the worst thing that can happen and because I took an especially warm shower that dried out my skin... I went ahead with the dry skin test.

Oh, yeah. Forgot to tell you about that. Included in my Vox Box was a little "diagnostic tool". Okay, that might have come out sounding too techy. The tool is really just a card with a couple of detachable strips to test the Before and After state of my skin. It was pretty cool.

my skin wasn't too bad..

While I liked this when I first put it on, I did feel that it was not nearly moisturizing enough. I mean, this is winter time when my skin tends to dry out LOTS. I did go ahead and continue to use this for the week, just to give it a fair trial. Surprisingly, the more I used it, the better it seemed to work. By about Day Three, I noticed that my knees (one of the "ashier" parts of my body) didn't seem as dry by bedtime. My elbows didn't do quite as well. They weren't as dry as usual, but my glycerin does better (and that may be because I tend to lean on my elbows when sitting at a table to write or read). Still, I like the overall results of this lotion after some regular use.

The one thing I don't like is that this is a little bit shiny on the skin when applied. It takes about fice or six minutes before that shine goes away. I still detected a little bit of a sheen afterwards. That fading of the shiny-ness might be from the lotion absorbing into the skin.Maybe? However, as far as effectiveness, I didn't get immediate results, but there was improvement with regular application. I wasn't crazy about the smell, but it's not very strong and it does fade.

My feet are the absolute desert of my body. That was sort of an accidental test for how this lotion works better with continued use. Since I was using the lotion on the rest of my body, I also used it on these dawgs of mine. Every night, I moisturize my feet either with glycerin or petroleum jelly, then put on socks. This will allow me to get through most of the next day without having to re-moisturize my feet. While I was testing out this lotion, I skipped the other products because, well, basically I'm lazy. By bedtime, I just want to get bedded down quick as I can so I can watch TV and crash. What I noticed after a few days of using the Intensive Care is that my feet were still pretty decent by the next night. I still used more lotion and the socks, but there was that improvement.

For my body care needs, I don't think that I will trade my regular moisturizer for this one, but I am going to keep using it on my feet.

If you are willing to give this a try, make sure to give it at least a few days before you judge results. It could depend on the type of climate you live in. In ours (cold outside, too warm and dry inside), I needed time to get results but once I did, well, I was kind of impressed. I do wish the lotion didn't leave that shine though.


**UPDATE** My sister used this for a couple of days and says she doesn't like it. She says it's nice when it goes on but does not last long at all. The main thing she doesn't like is that it feels "thin" to her. She actually uses another Vaseline lotion so I was surprised when she disliked this one.  The other lotion she uses is her favorite because it lasts so long and leaves her hands soft even after washing.

I received this product at no cost in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

**REVIEW** and **GIVEAWAY** Old Factory Candles

Part 1 - The Review

I've been wanting to do a giveaway for a long time, wanted to wait for just the right item. I don't have thousands of blog readers, but the readers I have are loyal. Time to do something nice for you guys.

My opportunity comes courtesy of a company that makes one of my favorite things: candles! Not just candles, but soy candles. Not just soy candles, but soy candles of the coolest fragrance varieties I've ever heard of. Old Factory Candles has it covered.

Can you tell that I'm just a little bit excited about this? (When the package arrived yesterday, I think I scared our mailman!)

There are several reasons that I'm so happy to do these candles as a giveaway & these are the top 3:
  • The crazy-cool-scents are just all over the place & smack on realistic.
  • The candles are soy and hand poured (aka: long-lasting) & USA made.
  • Uses pure fragrance oils.
Now. You guys know how I am about scents and cents, right? Well, I have you covered with these candles. Like I said, the scents are so creative. I think there's something for every mood, memory or mania. For instance, for myself, I chose the "50 Shades" which includes "Leather", "Jasmine Bubbles", and "Vanilla Sex". 

50 Shades of being single
Now, go pick your mind up out of that gutter. I went for this set mainly because I adore Jasmine and Vanilla scents (and I figured I could use the Leather scent for a Christmas gift).

Talk about getting these scents being smack on. I expected "Leather" to be some kind of moody take on the idea. No. This "Leather" smells exactly like leather. If I wanted to pass off some fake pleather Foach bag off as the real thing, I'd smear this inside. If I want to call up memories of the time my boyfriend hugged me while wearing his new Cowboys jacket, all I have to do is light this candle. #GottaPauseForThisMemory...

I don't particularly want to remember that particular boyfriend, but if you have better memories of leather that you'd rather not share with the world, this candle will go all Eagles on you and Take It to the Limit.

To my surprise, of the 3 scents in 50 Shades, Jasmine Bubbles was my favorite. It's so sensual in a different way than the Vanilla Sex. More perfume-y, I think, which I really like. But, just like I said, all three of the scents hit it square. The vanilla is reminds me more of an old-fashioned cake made from scratch than from anything I smell at Starbucks. Just really, really organic.

These really do burn clean and since I've had Jasmine lit for the past hour and a half, I can from checking that I'll get a lot or hours out of it. The scent is noticeable but not overwhelming and I'm sitting in a smaller room of the house. 

One other way that I use soy candles (not that I'm recommending it for anyone else) is as a body perfume. I just rub my finger across the surface of an unlit one and then rub that onto my pulse points. You'll notice that this is something you can do with a soy candle and not a regular wax one. Just thought I'd toss that in here. Anyway...

Remember I mentioned cents? That's because of the great pricing. Each candle in the trio is 2 ounces (for a 20 hour burn). Less than $8.50 a candle of this quality is awesome. And if you aren't happy with them, you can return them - at Old Factory's expense - and get a full refund. (NOTE: you won't be returning them. Trust me.)

Now. Getting back to the variety of scents, here's what I'm talking about

I want Lemongrass next

There's the Leather again...

Is it crazy that I KNOW who'd like each of these?
 If you're like me, you looked at those sets and immediately started putting faces of people you know next to each one - maybe for gifts? Personally, I'm torn between a few of them. The Lemongrass sounds good, but I think I really want the New Born Baby set. Not that I'm hinting...

These would make great gifts even if, like me, you plan on sharing only one of the set. The jars are labelled so nicely - neither too fem nor too 'industrial' - that they will appeal to anyone. But if you do give someone the whole set, the packaging is really nice.

Easy to giftwrap (or can have it delivered gift-wrapped)
Includes a free eBook on aromatherapy
Part 2 - The Giveaway

I know you probably skimmed past everything else in this post to get to this part... There are a few simple rules:

  1. You must have a U.S. shipping address*, an email address**, and
  2. You must have an Amazon account (If you don't have a Prime acct for shipping, your s&h will be reimbursed via PayPal)
  3. Be the first to respond*** on THIS Google Plus post with a comment on whether you plan to enjoy these candles yourself or gift them to someone special. (Because I'm nosy!) After G+, I am posting to Facebook.
That's it. The first eligible person to respond with a comment will be the winner. I will announce the lucky winner the day after this giveaway ends.


I received my product free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

*Apologies to readers with non-U.S. shipping addresses. Depending on how this one goes, I will try to offer future giveaways for other readers.
**I will share this email address with the company supplying the product to the winner.
***I will use the time stamps on comments to choose the first eligible winner.