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Friday, June 26, 2015

**UPDATED** 10 Reflections

**UPDATE** One thing I left off this post is now at the bottom. Please make sure that, if you read nothing else, do read that.

I've been taking time away from online socializing so that I could pray, think and examine my life. I've been able to spend time with my grandnephew, read, study, and just detox.

One of the things that's been on my mind for some months now is that our society is designed to keep us busy and distracted. We are becoming very proficient at using our phones and computers, but we are losing some skills along the way.

I personally know few people who understand how to interact face-to-face. We talk without looking at each other (because we are looking at our electronic devices); we talk in almost the same kind of shorthand we use online; and most of us rarely talk about anything of substance.

The funny thing to me about all of our dependence on electronics is that we don't even take the best advantage of them. We just let them take advantage of us. Out of all the people I know who give so much of their time to their devices, only one or two of them understand the basics past texting, typing and surfing the web. Let something glitch and most people can't even begin to figure out how to resolve the issue.



Worst of all is that we are not even aware that there is anything abnormal about the changes happening in our lives.

Anyway. That's the end of my little rant on what I see happening to us as individuals, families and groups.

What I got out of the past several days of reducing my time online is that I was able to think. I'm going to continue practicing more balance with my social interactions. The time I spend offline is going to be more about family and friends. Time online will be for more productive things. I want to take advantage of technology and not let it take advantage of me.

During my downtime, I did meditate on so random thoughts that I will keep pondering and trying to focus on to improve myself as an individual, relative, friend, and Christian:

  • You cannot go through life hurting others or yourself without paying consequences. You will go along fine for awhile, but it all eventually catches up with you. 
  • Not every eventual consequence comes with warning signs. 
  • As adults, we should get the same treatment we give children. If we don't appreciate what we have, it should be taken away from us until we do. (Sometimes, that happens anyway, and it can be one of those things that come without warning.)
  • Most of us with life problems practice self-delusion. We think that if we ignore the problems, they aren't problems. And we think that no one else sees them.
  • Even if we don't practice what we preach, we should listen to what we preach. Usually what we criticize most in others is a reflection of our own situation. 
  • It's easy to say what we would or would not do, or how we would handle a specific situation. The real test is when we have to be in a situation and take our own advice.
  • Being honest with others is easier than being honest with ourselves. Being honest with ourselves can be painful, which is why we often avoid it.
  • Sometimes, the only person you are fooling is yourself.
  • I think that every one of us should take at least one day a week to turn off our TVs, phones and computers. We need to take time out to just hear ourselves think, feel our feelings, examine our lives. For anyone who can't do that, they should ask themselves why they can't.
  • If your sense of worth is based on worthless things, it's time to re-evaluate.
Peace 
--Free

A prayer for myself and anyone else who is struggling with the issues mentioned in this post:

Lord Father, help us to recognize where the cheap distractions in our lives are coming from. Help us to resist anything and anyone who pulls our focus away from You and the good that You wish for our lives while we are here on this earth. Most of all, help us to love and encourage one another and to recognize that love sometimes means pointing out problems. Renew our love for our family, friends and those who are still searching for and in need of Your love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

**REVIEW UPDATE** Natural Lash Growth Enhancing Lash & Brow Serum

When I first tried Natural Lash to review it here, I was impressed by how easy it was to use. I had high hopes for improving my skimpy eyelashes and thinning eyebrows.

I promised to come back periodically and let you guys know how serum was working. I often forget to do that with some products, but... Wow. This is working so well at just Day 11* that I couldn't help but come back and do an update.

Not only is the length better, but the biggest results I'm seeing is with the thickness.

In this photo, I am wearing mascara, but not my fiber mascara which is made to add length and thickness. The reason I noticed the changes is because I did just throw on my regular mascara this morning for a quick run out to the mall. When I was putting the mascara on, I kept checking the bottle to see if I was using the right one.

Ignore the slight heat rash I have going on here...

I'm pretty excited about this because this product is working way above and beyond what I expected.
My lashes today (using the regular mascara) look like they did when I previously used my fiber extending mascara.

One other thing I wanted to update you on: when I said in the original post that the product was tinted a faint brown, I meant it. What I have noticed is that if you get it on your lashes, the second application will leave a fine coating. I first noticed this on my brows. To keep from having any noticeable flaking, I apply the product to my brows, then rub my finger across then to sort of massage it in. For my lashes, I'm just extra careful not to get any product on them, but adding mascara takes care of the problem.

For the results that I am seeing, I have to say that I am super-impressed. Plus, I still have so much product left. Keep in mind that I am doing 2 applications per day - on my lashes and brows.

So, there you have it. Of course, I will certainly be coming back for future updates.

Peace
--Free

* I started writing this post yesterday or the day before.

Monday, June 22, 2015

**REVIEW** Greenwald's Glass & Hard Surface Cleaner

The product I got to review a couple of weeks ago is interesting. There seems to be a new trend of certain cleaning products coming with refillable pods. The same morning I got this product, I was at a local store where I saw a common brand of household cleaner that was made to be used with refillables.

Greenwald's Glass and Hard Surface Cleaner is the product that I'm getting to try out for this review. I opened the outer delivery box, thinking how light it felt and saw this:

When I opened the product box, I saw why it was such a light package:

No water weight
You get the professional spray bottle (more on that later) and 6 packs of cleaner concentrate.




 Kind of cool, right? Not to have the heavy, liquid-filled spray bottle is nice. It's a lot easier to store until you are ready to use it. That's probably the main feature most people will like.

As for how this cleans, I was able to test it out right away. On the awning of the travel trailer. That's the dirtiest surface I could find to clean.



Yeah. That's only one side. I wanted to get a close up so I just got the one side here, but there are older photos of the whole awning so that you can at least see that both sides looked the same before cleaning:

                                           left side                                               right side

So... I cleaned the left side with Greenwald's, and the right side with a common brand from the store.

Results:

Can you tell the big difference? I certainly could.

I could have gotten the right side cleaner by scrubbing more, but that would have tilted the testing. As far as the "test", I just sprayed each side (one at a time) with its respective cleaner, let it sit for a few seconds, then I used a sponge to rub down the awning. I finished by spraying on clear water to rinse. (By the way, I used a sponge that is soft on one side and a scrubber on the other. The scrubber is safe for non-stick cookware.)

For a less tedious job, I cleaned the little mini-fridge that we keep in the garage. It's plenty dirty for an appliance because we use it to hold juice boxes for kids.


The top half with Greenwald's only

This is the test of cleaning the bottom part of fridge with the Greenwald's on the left, Brand X on the right. (Middle part left untouched.)

See? Hard to tell. The Greenwald's is a bit cleaner. (Middle part, I left untouched.)
It was harder to get photos that really show the difference. In addition to those pics of the appliance, I am going to include photos of the paper towels I used with each cleaner.

These are the dampened (but unused) paper towels:

I used 3 sprays each. Brand X just looks wetter.




Greenwald's on the left, Brand X on the right. You can tell that the Greenwald's seems to have picked up more dirt, but that could be because the fridge was dirtier on that side. I only judged by the finished results I could see on the appliance.





 As you can tell, the Greenwald's cleans a bit better than the usual glass cleaner we keep around the house, but there were a couple of things I liked most about the Greenwald's:
  • The smell is not as unpleasant as unscented glass cleaner (though it's about the same as other scented cleaners).
  • I didn't notice the residue our usual (scented or unscented) brand left behind.
  • The mixing was easy because I could make the formula as strong or weak as I want it. (On the other hand, I do have to use the entire pod, regardless.)
  • The non-smudge factor is nice. 
  • The storing of Greenwald's is easier because of the concentrated packets. You only add the water when you are ready to use the product.
  • The spray bottle was superb. It was great to be able to more finely adjust the nozzle and intensity of the spray.
By the way, these are the ingredients:

Greenwald's works out, (at the Amazon Prime price) to be about $3.30 each for 6 32-ounce bottles. At our local retailer, a popular brand (at Alaska prices) is around $3.50 for a 32-ounce bottle. 

Since the price is comparable, this comes down to other factors. The Greenwald's is made for multi-surface cleaning, where my usual brand is for Glass - though that brand does have a multi-surface product also. I don't have any in my home, but I checked online.) For one thing, if I have to use more of one product to get the same cleaning effect, I'm not saving money. From my tests, I could tell that I got better cleaning (although just slightly) from the same amount of Greenwald's as for the Brand X. And I have to add that, with a toddler in the house, I like being able to hide away the concentrate until I need to use it. For the usual brands (that come pre-mixed), we have to keep them up high and out of reach.

The Greenwald's is backed by their 100% Money Back Guarantee. They also have a few other cleaning products worth checking out, including a citrus cleaner. In addition to their products on Amazon, you can check their site (and sign up for coupons there).

Peace
--Free


Disclosure: 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. 


**REVIEW** Organic & Vegan Ultra Hydrating Facial Moisturizer


Of all the beauty moisturizers I have tried - and there have been a lot - this is the first time I tried something vegan. This is what the product touts:
Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Non-Toxic, All-Natural Face Moisturizer for Dry, Sensitive, Eczema, Combination, Mature Skin
How could I resist?

This is Nouveau/Organica Ultra Hydrating Facial Moisturizer.

Though my review of this got off to a bumpy start, I'm glad that I gave the product a try.

I'll address the one issue I had with this before I get to the rest of the review.

When the package arrived, we were having one of our famously warm days here in Anchorage. And I mean it was warm. For a week, we had temps that ranged from 80 to close to 90 degrees. Yeah. Warm.
melted
1 hour in fridge
The jar is slightly smaller than I expected (because I am bad a visualizing sizes by volume amounts) and I tilted it to get a better grip when I opened it. Lucky that I turned it right side up before the lid came off. Because of the warmth, the contents were completely liquefied. (There is a mention on the label that "softening" can occur.) I ended up spilling only a tiny bit o the product, but I am warning other users ahead of time.

Now.

This is more of an oil than a cream. I don't mind that at all because I love using oils on my skin. For people that tend to avoid oil products, I will tell you that the results are not what you might think.

The moisturizer is very non-clogging. My skin is not only a combo that runs from dry-to-oily, those zones fluctuate, but my nose is the spot that suffers when I use anything that irritates my skin or clogs the pores. The Organica passed that immediate test. When I used the moisturizer as an overnight treatment, I was even more pleased.

There is a faint smell to this that reminds me of used cooking oil. It's not unpleasant and I don't notice it when the moisturizer is in a solid state. When it's all liquefied, the scent is more pronounced. The important thing is that it doesn't linger on the skin.

I am surprised that I like this so much. I don't know what I expected. For some odd reason, I've never had the same positive view of 'vegan' products that I do of those labeled as 'natural'. It's a mindset of mine.

This product has me anxious to try others like it. Of the benefits I noticed in a few days' use, the main one is that this absorbs well. I didn't have to use a lot. I just scraped my fingernail over the surface to get slivers to apply. The oil melts on contact with my skin. I ended up being able to control how much I was applying to the different areas of my face. I like that.

Organica (which is just what I call it!) softens and nourishes. I noticed that it seems to work with my skin. It moisturizes deeply where my skin is driest, yet it didn't "grease" up my skin where it was already hydrated. Very weird but, again, I love the results.

I read reviews by other users and saw that people with various skin issues and they seem to have had positive results. I don't suffer from serious facial skin issues, but I do have 'mature' skin (hah!) and this has turned out to be a nice treatment.

When I went on a water challenge recently, my skin felt better, but I noticed that it tended to dry out a lot whenever I drank less water. It's as if, having gotten so much natural  hydration, my skin rebelled whenever I dropped back to my usual water intake. Since then, my regular moisturizer hasn't been working as well. This brought some balance back to my skin.

I've been using this on my elbows as well as the area at the back of my ankles to soften the skin. The most surprising way I've found this to be helpful is to oil my scalp. Because of the melting factor, the oil really soaks in without getting all over my hair. I just make little parts in my hair, apply the oil, then massage my whole scalp with my fingertips.

I like this a lot. I do wish that I didn't have to keep returning it to the fridge. Actually, I don't have to. I could just use it in the liquid state, but I like being able to better measure out applications by slivers.

For users who prefer truly vegan properties, this product hits high marks:
  • Raw food grade
  • 100% USDA Certified organic
  • vegan
  • gluten-free
  • soy-free
  • dairy-free
  • cruelty-free
  • No animal testing
  • made with ingredients sourced from USDA certified organic farms
The ingredients:

Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Organic Argania Spinosa Kernel (Argan) Oil, Organic Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Organic Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Organic Salvia Sclarea (Clary Sage) Oil, Organic Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Organic Boswellia carteri (Frankincense) Oil, Organic Pelargonium roseum asperum (Geranium) Oil

Kind of nice that I didn't have to provide links to explain any of the ingredients, right?

There is a "no questions asked" guarantee in place. Can't beat that on top of all the other benefits.

Peace
--Free

DISCLOSURE: 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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

**REVIEW** Natural Lash Growth Enhancing Lash & Brow Serum



This is what I have started using just recently. It's  this Growth Enhancing Lash + Brow Serum called Natural Lash from Protege.

On the 28th of last month, I posted about a fiber lash product I'm using (which I love, by the way). I thought that this growth serum would just add to my goal of thickening up my lashes and brows.

In the past five or six years, my brows have started to thin out. I used to have nice, thick and well-shaped brows. I never did pluck or pick at them because of the shape so the only reason I can give for the thinning is... well, aging. Makes sense, I guess. My eyelashes were never very lush...

Anyway, this product is supposed to work for lashes and brows. I've just begun using it and will have to update this post when I see some changes. Since I just took the photos for the fiber mascara, I decided to use one of them for a Before shot:

Taken for a post done on May 28th

Today is Day 3 so I can at least tell you about using the product.

Application is easier than I expected. For one thing, the brush is really thin and fine so that using it on the lashes is a lot like applying eyeliner. For my brows, I just applied it in the spots where I have the most thinning.

The liquid is a light brown-ish color but does not show once it dries. It's thin and sort of watery so I was a little worried about it getting into my eyes. That turned out not to be a problem because, though the liquid feels thinner than eyeliner, it goes on like eyeliner.


Although this isn't something most users will every apply near their noses, I still wanted to check the smell. The scent is odd and reminds me of a leather conditioning product I once used and a hint of garden soil. Like I said though, this is not something I even caught a whiff of when I was applying it as it's meant to be.

When I apply it, I get no negative skin reactions. Once it dries on the lashline, it feels much like an eyeliner does - as in, you can tell that it's there only because you know you put it on. The first application of the day made my lashes feel as though I had shaped them with a very light styling gel - which I have done in the past so don't judge me! After the second application, I could feel it more. My brows were a bit stiff. It was not unpleasant or uncomfortable. (By the second day, I decided to use the serum to shape my brows, since I wasn't going to use the styling gel with it.)

I can't wait for the time to go by so that I can see what results I get.

With twice per day applications, the serum is supposed to produce results in 5 weeks' time. The bottle is expected to last for up to four months. That gives a user plenty of product to see results and to continue using for a while.

There are a few reasons I wanted to try this versus the brand that's been seen in so many commercials:
  • Price is more affordable 
  • Growth remains even after you stop using product
  • A year-long guarantee
I see that the product states "all-natural" ingredients but, since we all have our own ideas of what is 'natural', I want to list them here for you to judge:
I do like that the ingredients I could easily recognize as being natural are listed first.

And do remember: there is a 365-day guarantee for a FULL refund if you aren't happy with this product. I do love that.

There you have it - for now at least. I will come back with an update in a few weeks.

Peace
--Free

DISCLOSURE: 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. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

**REVIEW** PolarGel Cool Pillow Mat

This is going to be a fun review to write just because I didn't expect to love the product for the reason that I do. I'll get to that, but first, let's do the review.

And, by the way, this is what I'm going to be talking about:

PolarGel Cool Pillow Mat
A little bit of a backstory on how I got to try this (and to show you the goofy state of my mind):

I reviewed a product that I'd bought at a local store. Loved the product, raved about it in a blog post here, raved about it on Amazon, and told just about everyone I know or met anywhere about it. Not long after I reviewed that product, I was contacted by the husband of the woman who came up with it. There was a mention that they might send me other products to use and review. Not long after that contact, I was invited (via email, not one of the product sites I use) to review the PolarGel Cool Pillow Mat.

That's how I got to review this product. The goofy part of my brain comes in at the point where I honestly can't remember (or trace back through emails) whether or not the first product and the PolarGel came from the same distributor.

Ah well... At any rate, I'm really super glad that I got to try out the PolarGel. I thought I was just going to like it because it's such a cool (heh heh) thing to have around during the summer.

I don't care where I am or how warm it is, I just do not sleep well without cover - and not just sheets. I need some sort of a light blanket to feel comfortable. That's not a problem 9 months out of the year here. This is Alaska. However...

Summers here can be warm. (Even during the winter, depending on who you share a home with, the heat is going to be cranked up like the entryway to Hades, so there's that.)

Warm is great during the daytime. It's even fine for most people during the night. Unless you are a fanatic about not "sweating out" your hair.

Right about now is when I have the attention of any woman who hates having to re-straighten or re-wash her hair because she "sweat it out" during the night.

I won't speak for every black woman out there but, personally, I don't like to wash my hair more than once or twice a month. I will co-wash (or even just rinse my hair) instead. This keeps my hair - which, because of genetics, tends towards dry - from drying out even further. If anything, I like to retain as much moisture in my hair and oil on my scalp as possible. Sweating it out means I have to wash or co-wash it, or use more products to re-moisturize.

So. Do I love this PolarGel or what? Yes, I do.
I was going to take a photo of mine,
but it's still tucked inside my pillow case! lol
The product comes with 2 straps that you can use to attach the pad to your pillow. I just slid my pad under the pillow case. Also you get an eBook (about getting better sleep) that you can download as a PDF or mp3 audio. I have not downloaded that yet.

I originally was just hoping that the PolarGel would help keep me cool at night. There's no air-conditioning in most Alaska homes. What we have are ceiling fans. What we also have in the home are people who like to blast the heat even when we are having one of our nice summer days. We keep the heat locked on a steady temp during the summer, which is great - if you like sleeping half nude and with no covers. Not me.

The first night I used the PolarGel (and I actually had to wait til after that blast of cold that we rarely deal with in the summer, which +prissy d d can tell you about!) I was just hoping for relief from the heat in general. Being fuzzy-brained the past several days, I forgot to chill the mat in the fridge until a couple hours before bedtime. What I realized the next day is that I didn't have to put it in the fridge. The gel inside keeps the mat cool enough as it is. On really warm nights, it will be nice to chill it in the fridge though.

I did stay nice and comfy-cool all night (even with my little blanket on), but what I also got was hair that wasn't all sweated and matted the next morning. Nice.

Usually, I have to either moisturize my hair fairly deeply with some leave-in and tie it up overnight, or just deal with the heavy moisturizing the next morning. Then, every few days, I might even have to do a rinse-out. That's because of the sweating.

The PolarGel is probably something that lots of folks will like just because it does a great job of keeping the pillow cool through the night. I have some extra love for it just because of how it saved my hair.

So. I can recommend this for that reason, and I'll step back in my memory to the first months of menopause.... I still get the night-sweats but, a few years back, I nearly lost my mind because of them. I wish I'd had this cooling mat then.

Anyway, there's not much to say about the specifications of the pillow. It's a simple concept that works better than I expected. My head sweat even during the winter months - probably because we run the heat so much and definitely because of the blanket thing I have going on - so I will be using the cool right out of this PolarGel.

The PolarGel Cool Pillow Mat is something you can use over and over, even as you go through new pillows. The best part of any purchase? The guarantee. Here it is, straight from the paged:
If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your new cool pillow after 30 days, simply return it for a FULL REFUND. No questions asked!
I always love a good guarantee.

Peace
--Free

DISCLOSURE: I received one of more of the products mentioned in exchange for providing my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

**UPDATE** Zim's Crack Creme Contest

My apologies to everyone who had problems trying to enter the contest.

Image result for sorry
Sooo very sorry

This was my first Giveaway using the Tomoson widget, but I found out that it tends to be glitch-ey and, well, pretty horrible.

The next time I do a Giveaway, I will be using an alternate tool that I've heard good things about.

Again, I'm so sorry for anyone who tried but was not able to enter. I will be running a Giveaway of Zim's on my own in the future so that I can offer fair chance to anyone who wants to enter that one.

Love my blog readers & appreciate you for putting up with this particular snafu.

Peace
--Free