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Being Free

I don't do trendy. I do me. I read and I write. And I live in Iowa now.

Updated: 2018-04-19T13:52:00.254-05:00


**REVIEW** Birchbox


The Birchbox I told you all was coming... arrived.This was courtesy of my angel sponsor but, let me tell you what, I will be continuing this subscription. It exceeded my expectations.The cute little collectible, um "upcycle-able" box is adorable and the contents were pretty awesome. For a $10/mo subscription, this is what the April 2018 box contained listed with the full-size prices:1. Beautaniq Beauty Fill + Tame Brow Gel ($12)This was one of my 2 faves in this box. Though I don't wear full-face makeup that often, I do like to do my eyes and lips. I hace unruly brows and I am a mess when it comes to shaping them. This gel has a brush that made it easy even for me to get my brows to behave. The shade would be best for when I over-pluck or shave the brows, but I would have preferred the Clear.2. Briogeo Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection & Heat Protectant Crème ($24)This was totally out of my beauty profile range. I wear my hair afro-curly and try never to use any kind of heat other than to deep condition. That being said, I can tell you that this product smells awesome. When I applied a little of it to my hand to check the texture, I found it to be very light and it didn't leave even the trace of a film on my skin. I hope that helps anyone who is looking for some kind of information about the product.3. Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream SPF 20 - All Skin Types ($54)First, let me say that I wanted to like this and I mostly did. Two things about it turned me off: 1 - there is a fragrance in it and I don't like fragrance on my face unless it's an essential oil I'm using for a specific purpose. 2 - Did ya see that price? OMG. If I had loved the crap out of this, I'd have to find it sold by a tenth of a milliliter.I can say that it's the lightest and best-textured day cream I've seen outside of the Avon Anew that I typically use.4. Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner ($22)I love, love, love a good liner. This one is so easy to use because of the felt tip pen-like applicator. If you can write, you can use this. Mine came in black and it's a true rich black. I don't use eyeliner every day, but when I do, this will be the one.5. Smashbox Cosmetics Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer ($24)This is another of the products that I wanted to like. I do like the way it goes on - very smooth and non-sticky - and I loved that, once applied, it didn't dry out my lips the way a lot of matte-ifying products can. The one thing that put me off is that I am so particular about the shades of my lip products and this changed the shade ever so slightly. Maybe it will work better with some of the shades I want to change anyway, but it's not for my regular lipsticks. On the other hand, this is a super product for those who can have a little bit of variety in the lip color.6. BONUS Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick ($25)Remember I said I had 2 favorites in this box? This is the other one. This is my top fave and it wasn't one of the box samples. It was the bonus gift. You can see that the lipstick itself is green (frog prince green?) but when it reacts with my body ph or heat, it turns the faintest shade of blush red that's perfect for my complexion. I said today that I always envied people who have those naturally shaded lips. Now I can have that same look and the gift/sample is actually going to last me a while.Free's Birchbox Rating So that was my first box. It will be up to me to pay for it from now on and I think that, if I can swing it, it will be totally worth it. Based on this month's box, I give Birchbox a 5-star rating. It's affordable for most people, the samples are of a good size, and the items are all interesting.If you are interested, you can use this link to sign up. Please do becasue I will get points as the referrer :-)Another Plus to the Birchbox is that you get a discount when you purchase anything you have sampled. Also, you earn other rewards. This is from the Birchbox site:"Each time you shop with Birchbox, you automatically get rewarded! The minute you cr[...]

**REVIEW** ScentSplit Decant Perfumes


For anyone who loves perfume but lives on a tight budget - or is just very careful with their money - the best services are those that sell decanted fragrances.Q: What is a decant?A: Perfume that is taken from a bottle and put into a smaller bottle.I wanted to try some fragrances that use Tonka Bean as a part of the scent. When I checked around, I found 3 perfumes that sounded promising. They were on the ScentSplit site:Fève Délicieuse by DiorAMEN Pure Tonka from Thierry MuglerTonka Imperiale from my favorite - Guerlain This is the thing, I can't afford to even look at any of those perfumes at the store. Decant purchases is definitely the way to go.Here's what the decants cost vs what a bottle would cost in a store like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus:Fève Délicieuse 1ml decant = $4.99 vs $210 for 4.5ozAMEN Pure Tonka 6ml = $16.99 vs $90.00 for 3.4ozTonka Imperiale 1ml decant = $7.99 vs $260.00 for 2.5ozI can't remember where I read the catchline of "when you want to date a fragrance, not marry it", but it's perfect for this post.Since this review is for the ScentSplit service, I won't get all into how much I love these perfumes, but... I love these perfumes. Guerlain wins out again though as my forever-will-be favorite. Tonka Bean must be included in all my future scents! Now, on to the Pros and Cons of ScentSplit.PROSSelectionThey have a fabulous selection of fragrances to choose from. I looked at a couple of different services to do a review on and chose this one to start because of the crazy amount of choices.This is only HALF the brands shownPriceThe prices are great and you are given enough size choices to afford at least a sample of something.PresentationMy package was nicely wrapped to protect the contents. Inside the mailing box, was the actual box of my items. This was wrapped so prettily, it was like getting a gift.Fragrance QualityWhen you open the gift box, your items are inside, covered with and nestled in paper. I removed the top layer to take the photo.The fragrances houses on ScentSplit are on the higher end and more classic types. I have nothing against the celebrity or passing-trendy scents, but I prefer names that withstand time. ScentSplit has a nice mix while some other services seemed to favor "younger" scents.All three of the scents I ordered are of wonderful quality. I had the opportunity to sniff a bottle of the Tonka Imperiale when I hit the stores in Arizona last year. I know that the decant I ordered and received is the real deal. This is the 6ml spray bottle -The sprayer is nice and fine and is great for not wasting any of this perfume.The 1ml sample tube is capped very tightly. That's great because you don't want any of your fragrance to leak, but it was tough to open it. I'd rather have it tightly sealed like it is though. Not only were the prices reasonable, but the shipping wasn't bad. It was $4.99 for the small box with USPS 1st Class Postage.CONSUsing ScentSplit is such a great way to make enjoying fragrances an affordable adventure. It's a shame that the site needs so much improvement. From the point of putting in an order to awaiting delivery, I kept notes of my frustrations:The website needs an overhaul. Trying to sign up for an account is silly because the first option at the top left of the page doesn't work. You have to go to the middle top of the page at "Your Account" and work from there. Also, if you order without creating an account, you can't merge any order info once you do set up an account. It's just unnecessarily complex.Order delays are not readily addressed. I ordered on the 4th of the month and there were no online updates or tracking info provided by the 9th. I had gotten a Thank You email from the owner so I used the Reply function to ask about the delay. He let me know that one of my items was on back order and he was very nice about offering to change my order or cancel with a full refund. My issue was not the delay as much as it was not being kept informed about delays. If this order had been for a date-spe[...]

**REVIEW** FabFitFun Starter Box


So. I finally broke down and tried this particular subscription box. I didn't even think about trying the fifty-dollar seasonal box, but I had a coupon to try the Starter box for $19.00.INSERT PHOTO of the box outsideThe box had some really good items in it and was well worth the intro $19.00 but I would never even consider paying fifty bucks for even a quarterly subscription beauty box.  Also, I happened to love everything I got in the Starter box but I looked back over some of the past boxes and wasn't impressed with the contents I saw.This Starter box though... It was pretty nice. Let's take a look.The box outside my door looked festive enough. It wasn't that heavy though so I was super curious to open it.Anticipation...The teasing just never ends. I like the care that was taken to nicely wrap the contents. Just like getting a gift. Well, one that you pay for anyway.I'm not kidding about the tease. It seems to go on and on. The magazine inside was nice and there's the thoughtful note included.Whew. Finally, right? It's almost like Christmas. You pay for the gift, but the element of surprise is fun. For about ten seconds, I was a little disappointed.  I saw these 3 items and thought, is that it?Actually, there was more. Four items in total. I think that every box includes a bag of some kind. This one did not disappoint, but I can't help but...I would personally never pay $62 for this one, as cute as it is. I think the name is the reason for the high price tag.There's a cute and sassy little tasselI like and the strap is a good length. I couldn't wait to fill this one up. There are no inner pockets but I managed to fit my phone, wallet, some tissues, lip gloss, a tube of lotion, and a perfume roller inside easily enough. I do like this bag more than I expected to.  Simple and classy.This Ahava hand cream... This is some luscious stuff. I have a thing for Dead Sea minerals and this lotion's ingredient list includes mineral waters and dead sea water. It feels wonderful and is immediately hydrating. I would definitely buy more of this in the future, but I don't know if I can afford the $33 price tag. I will be looking forward to seeing more products from the brand.Doucce is a new brand name to me. I'm seeing more of the products. The tubes are so sleek and chic looking. What surprised me was how much I like this lip stain duo. I have issues with most lip stain products. Either they are very drying or, depending on the color, they look dry. This is a medium brown color, which I didn't think would suit my complexion.It is a bit lighter than I like when I wear just the stain and it tended to look muddy-ish, but when I add the gloss, it looks nice and I have paid more for a good lipstick. Now, if I just do my hair the rest of my makeup and clean my bathroom mirror...that's toothpaste on the mirror, not something in my hairI saved my all-time favorite from this box for last. I LOVE the smell of this Marrakesh oil. If I could find a matching perfume, I'd stock up. This does add some shine to my hair, but the scent just makes me happy.I can tell that the pricing given was pretty accurate because everywhere I priced this oil, it is as shown; $22.99.Love the smell of this oil!!!Honestly, everything in the box was good quality, and quality does cost. I really like that they include a bag. I needed a crossbody bag and the Summer & Rose bag replaces the poor, worn-out, raggedy thing that I've been carrying.So...Is Fab Fit Fun worth it? I guess it all depends on your budget and the kinds of items you like getting in a box subscription. Fab Fit Fun is just way out of my budget at that $50 each for the Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall boxes.If I could afford the FFF subscription, I would try it at least for a year. Since I cannot afford FFF, courtesy of my angel sponsor, I am trying out at least one each of the cheaper boxes from Birch and Sephora Play. I will be reviewing those as soon as they come in.Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

**REVIEW** Manuka, Manuka, Manuka


As promised, I am going to review a product that I have been talking about forever: Manuka - but not just the honey. Thanks to my "angel", I have a small bottle of the oil and a jar of the honey. So, let's get to it.Steens UMF 10 (MGO 263) Raw Unpasteurized NZ Manuka HoneyI didn't get the EcoBee brand that I have talked about before because, as I told you, I have an angel purchaser. When someone else is footing the bill, I try hard to look for the best price as well as a quality item. I still want to try the EcoBee brand, but that's for another time. For now, I went with the Steens. The first reason is that they passed all the tests of being UMF-certified and licensed as an authentic Manuka brand. The next reason is that, after reading a ton of reviews and doing some other light research, I was impressed with the quality. Now, about the details:The TasteNot the usual off-the-shelf texture, sweetness, or color. The honey has a grainy-ness that you can see, but it's not very noticeable on the tongue. Its flavor is more molasses-sweet than table sugar-sweet (but doesn't taste like molasses). If I have to relate the taste to a sugar, it would be more a raw-sugar-sweetness. Though the product page talks about the "bee bread" being included, don't expect what you get with a brand like Really Raw where some of the comb and propolis is very visible when you open the jar. With the Steens Manuka, all that seems to be blended into the honey itself. The coloring is almost that of a very dark peanut butter:This best captures the color of the honeyAlso, I have to mention that this jar was clearly labeled with the UMF rating and country of origin. Even more important, it was sealed for safety in every way.The SmellI chose the least expensive jar of Steens. If you remember from my other posts, I talked about the much-lauded UMF rating system.This one is UMF 10+ and cost about $25 for 12 ounces (so around $2/ounce). The other choices on Amazon are UMF 15+ (approx $55)  and 20+ (approx $120). If I had chosen either of those, I would not have been able to choose other products to review for this period. Even my angel has a budget.A good texture, even after refrigerationOf course, I can't, for now, check the honey for certain benefits - such as faster healing of sores/wounds. What I could test immediately was for whether or not it would give me an energy boost. Not only did I try this, but I had my brother give it a test also. Result: he felt more energy than I did. I did feel a slight boost during the day that I took 2 teaspoons, but that could be psycho-whatchacallit. My brother has been on a new work schedule that is disrupting his sleep and he said he definitely got a boost the second time he tried 2 teaspoons - one in the morning and one at midday. So, okay.It's going to probably take me a while of taking my daily teaspoon of this before I can say yay or nay about the benefits. Right now, I am trying to work the honey into my intermittent fasting routine. I like to add some to cucumber water and out it in the fridge overnight to chill. That way, I have a nice big helping of water for first thing in the morning. On the days when I fast - like I will be doing tomorrow - I make up at least 3 jars of the drink to have in between cups of (ugh) unsweetened lemon or mint tea.In addition to the 10/15/20 UMF Manuka, there are other products at the Steens site.One last thing about the quality and authenticity of the honey. There is a trace code on each jar that allows consumers to track and trace the origin of their particular jar of honey. If you want to see a test of this tracing feature, head over to here and try out the sample code. I was able to trace mine, but I couldn't zoom in on the map itself. Inn&Co Manuka Oil, 100% Pure New Zealand East CapeWhile Manuka honey has a UMF rating system, the essential oil has a different grading system.This Inn & Co Manuka Oil I have is rated at  MβTK 25+ Certified.  MβTK s[...]

Pumpkin Seed Oil: Best Hair Moisturizer


It's been a very not-fun week over here. For the last several days, I was dealing with excruciating pain from the right side of my head down to my throat. Turns out I might have something called TMJ. I hate when pain is associated with something that causes more pain when I try pronouncing it.Anyway, the OTC pain meds are working and, until I can get in to see a dentist, I'm just moving along.I can't remember if I mentioned that my hair has been acting quite the fool lately. It's so dry that it's been hard to keep it looking halfway decent. These tresses have been thirsty. I found and have been using some decent products, but either the results didn't last or they came with unwanted features - like flaking or heavy buildup. I was going through every oil in my arsenal when I ran across one that I had almost forgotten about:Oh, mercy! This stuff is ah-mazing...  I rubbed just a few drops in my hands and rubbed them over my hair that was already styled with a twist-out. I got immediate softening and some shine and a whole lot of relief from that "crunch" feeling. I don't want to exaggerate but I think I heard my hair sigh.When I was using the pumpkin oil before, it was mostly for my face. Sometimes, I would use it on my elbows or my knees if they got drier than normal. I loved it for my face and always remember how good the residue made my hands feel. I have no idea why I wasn't using it on my hair. Maybe it's because my hair didn't dry out as much in Alaska. My whole body is still getting used to the Iowa climate.I wanted to blog about this because I don't know if other afro-naturals are using this particular oil on their hair. Maybe like me, they hadn't heard much about it?The other thing I've been doing with the oil is doctoring my other hair products. I have at least 2 products on the shelf that haven't lived up to their moisturizing claims even though they are great at giving me some curl definition. I have added a few drops of the pumpkin seed oil to the cream I've been using to do my twists at night. Big difference. I'm shedding less and getting a bit more shine - or at least relief from the dull and faded look that dry hair gives off.If you use this on the skin, once the oil is fully rubbed in and fully absorbed (takes about 10 seconds), it leaves a really nice "powdery" kind of softness without being greasy. On the hair, it makes the strands feel nourished and sort of healed, if that makes sense. I haven't done so yet, but I plan to do a scalp massage with it before I do my next twist-up for the night.Now, branding can make a difference in quality with oils. I have put another brand on the list to try later and will compare the two when I've tried that other one. For now, this brand is awesome and my bottle is almost exactly at the shelf life limit of 1 year.Speaking of hair products (and reviews), I have a personal "angel" sponsor who is purchasing for me some of the products that I want to review but can't afford. I can't wait to do my next review (it's not to do with the hair - or is it???) and have at least 3 products lined up for the next week or so - including one I use along with the pumpkin seed oil. Also, I have some products coming from a new service I found. My sponsor doesn't have endless pockets, so I am spacing products out as I decide which to review.I'll be back in a day or so with the next review and I think it's going to be a good one. I've been looking forward to trying the product for a long, long time. So excited. Until then...Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

**INFO** Site Slinging for Fragrances & Oils


A neighbor asked me something the other day and I referred her to a website I know of. She commented that she never would have found the site herself. True or not, it occurred to me that I do often run across some interesting and random sites when I am writing, blogging, or just looking for something myself. Why the heck have I not been sharing these sites with you guys? Dunno. So... here goes the first list of sites. (Understand that I can't endorse the quality of these sites so... use your noggin.)Oh, and I came across most of these when I was looking for a fragrance oil featuring Tonka Bean. Now, down the rabbit hole we go:Scent Split is where you can check out buying decants of perfumes. Good idea for those who want to test a scent first, or already like a fragrance but can't afford the whole bottle. Their shipping speed is iffy. It can take at least a couple of weeks for items to arrive and, in the case I know of, the tracking information wasn't available. On the Plus side, they have a HUGE selection and they use glass vials/bottles for the fragrances which is better than plastic.Candle Science is where I landed next while looking for the Tonka oil. If I ever decide to make candles, this is going to be the first stop.Fragrance Buy is in Canada, but they offer "hard to find" and "niche" scents. They didn't have my Flori Roberts Gold, so...Lucky Scent caught my eye because they offer not just perfume but all types of fragrant items - bath stuff, candles, etc. IMO, the perfumes I checked on were pricier than I liked.Fragrance Original carries discontinued scents as well as current items. The site reminded me of the fragrance offerings at Burlington's Coat Factory. Prices were fair.Root American Made Candles is to candles what the other sites are to fragrances. The prices ranged from impressive to the out-of--my-range range. I like that they have smaller sized options in case you can't spend lots.I'm adding a note about The Fragrance Shop because I have used them for years to buy fragrance oils. I love their original oil scents. At first, I was crazy about the Shalimar mimic oil that I got from them about 6 years ago, but the oil will degrade over time so I don't count on using it after about 6 or 7 months unless it's very well stored. Customer service is excellent and you can get very affordable sample bundle.If anyone knows of any other relevant sites, do let me know. And if you know where I can find some Tonka Bean oil, really do let me know!I will be back to do a review of Scent Splits once I receive my order from them...Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

**REVIEW** Organic 4-Ingredient Soap Bar


This right here is the best soap ever.It's "Nature's Moisturizing Soap" from Bliss of Greece.As I've mentioned, I use more than one product from the Bliss of Greece store and I have never been disappointed. I'm not normally a bar soap user, but I love the brand's products. I didn't think they could've have done any better than they did with the Greek Remedy Oil I reviewed before. I was wrong. They really knocked it out of the park with this soap.By the way, another customer thought to ask what the difference was between the soaps since one bar is lighter than the other. The Seller response is:"...both soap bars have the exact same ingredients, the only difference is the dark soap bar have olive oil sediment which is full antioxidants and have numerous health benefits, beside that both soaps are the same..." When I used this in on my hands just to test it, I knew that it was gentle and non-drying, but I didn't get the full effect until I showered with it. Most soaps, no matter how "gentle" will leave at least a slight residue on the skin. This one left zero residue and didn't dry out my skin in the least. While my skin was still damp, it felt like it had been cleaned with a moisturizer. Instead of immediately applying lotion or oils, I let it dry just so I could see how my skin reacted. I did need to moisturize, but my skin wasn't screaming for it like usual.My hair today is much softer than it normally is after a wash. What's great is that it usually takes a couple of days after a wash for my hair to "stretch" back into shape and get manageable for styling. I had no idea the soap was going to work so well.( And, before I forget to mention this, it was the darker bar of soap I have been using first.)Best of all, this is the very natural and simple list of ingredients in the order they appear on the packaging:Extra virgin olive oil Coconut oilLavender oilCastor oilSodium hydroxide The other benefits are that the soap isOrganicUnrefinedHandmadeCold pressedVeganAnimal- & eco-friendlyNon-GMOGluten- & paraben-freeAs with every one of the Greek Bliss products I've tried, this one comes with the excellent customer service. If you have a problem with a product, you can contact them and they make it right. I've never had a problem, but have contacted them to ask about their recent limited-buy option on a product. Someone got back to me the same day! (By the way, the limitation was only due to available supply. The Greek Bliss products are made by hand and in small batches.)The soap comes packaged with a nice rubbery soap mat and a scratch-off coupon. The coupon could net you either a free product or a discount. I got 20% off on mine (and a 40% coupon in the oil I got). Nice.Like I said, I'm not a fan of bar soaps. I've used one other bar shampoo and it was good but it did have a drying effect and could not be used very often. Also, it was much more expensive than this one. I am back to cleansing my hair more than once every two weeks, I guess since this soap is so good on my afro-nappy (4c) tresses. I'll be interested to hear from someone with another hair type/texture to see what they think.Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

Upcoming **GIVEAWAY** For My Blog Followers in May



For the month of May 2018, I will be doing a giveaway, choosing from among my blog followers. I just appreciate so much the people who hang with me even though I'm not a famous blogger.


I am still trying to find the right item for the giveaway and looking for something that will be of use to either gender.


By the middle of this month, I will have the chosen item and start preparing for the giveaway.

Thank you for being so lovely and loyal!


Intermittent Fasting Update with Photos


I will keep doing these updates simply because they might encourage someone else who wants to change up their eating habits. After all, I first learned about the Keto diet from seeing videos and blogs from those who had success with it. So... here's the latest:This intermittent fasting is a life-changer. Here are the latest selfies. The older ones are here and here.When you are losing weight, you tend to think of the numbers on the bathroom scale while your friends notice you. It was my brother who remarked first on how I was regaining my normal face shape.This is what my face looked like when I was in Arizona for this past Thanksgiving:with my 140lb sis-in-law...Let me tell you, folks, the best motivation is results. I never thought that I would stick so diligently to a healthier way of eating. I mean, I can do alright for days or even weeks at a time, but this IF is the easiest dietary change I've ever attempted.Because I felt so good after the last one, I plan to do another 24-hour fast. That first one back on the 25th of March... that was a rollercoaster ride of "I can do this, no problem" and "Oh, help me, Lord, I just want a sip of sweet tea". I made it and, in hindsight, it was a breeze. Okay, the caffeine jonesing was a serious test, but...My next post here will cover the foods, snacks, and recipes that have become staples for me since starting IF. It's working for me and I want to share it with others who might be interested. Trust me, people, when you see what I eat in a day and am still losing weight at a healthy pace, you'll probably be amazed. (Oh, and just for fun, I'm going to share some photos from when I was on the high doses of prednisone and at my absolute heaviest.)Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

**REVIEW** AairHut A1 Mini Bluetooth 4.2 Wireless Headphone


I remember falling out laughing when Apple came out with what I thought of as those silly ear"pods". I still think they are silly but only because I 'm such a loyal Android user. As far as mini earpieces, I'm not laughing so hard anymore. I just tried this sweet little mini Bluetooth headphone from AairHut. Let's back up for a minute to look at the last two headsets I used and why I wanted something different.This one wasn't bad, but one of the side pieces got caught in my coat and broke. As you can see, I tried taping it back together, but...Ugh. I did like this when it worked and I was a fan of the necklace type earphones for a long time.  Best thing about these was the sound quality. Music sounded awesome and I could control the volume and skipping between tracks on the side panel. I was getting tired of the look of them though. Depending on your outfit, these are so obtrusive or they just look silly. I did get these at a discount to do a review of them. If I'd had to buy them, they would have set me back over 30 bucks. Ouch.Horrible. This thing still "works" like new but the problem is that it sucked even when it was new for $11.99. It's so flimsy that using it is like dealing with a tin can and string. The earpieces never stay in the magnetized holders and the sound quality is just awful. What did I expect for 12 bucks you say? Well for just about 6 dollars more, I have the mini earbud that I am fast falling in love with.These are really nice and may just have changed my mind about the type of earbuds I want to use from now on. Apple might have been on to something. Here's my assessment of these:PROSIt was really quick and simple to pair this with my phone. The instructions are good (though in small print!)I was able to connect this to both my phone and my laptop. I like this because I often talk to my little nephew via Messenger on my computer.In-call sound is awesome and very clear. I wasn't sure what I expected, but this surprised me a little.It's unnoticeable to the point of being invisible. On someone with the right hairstyle, this would be invisible.The compact design is good. The earpiece, as small as it is, fits snugly and securely. Most importantly, this is comfortable so it doesn't make my ear sore.The charging mechanism is just as compact as the earpiece. I can pop it into the USB port on my laptop and I don't even notice it's there. This is nice for when I am at the library or traveling. One less cord hanging out of a wall outlet.The earpiece and chargers (yes, there are 2 chargers) fit into a nice little carrying/storage case with the extra coverings for the 2 additional ear tips that are included. The case fits into my jacket pocket or into my smallest cross-body purse.The one-ear system is nice because I rarely ever used both earpieces of the other headsets anyway. I like to keep one ear "open" for other sounds around me.I also tested the distance of this by walking into the kitchen, living room and bathroom away from my phone in the bedroom. I haven't measured and tested for the up-to-60-foot distance, but this already works as good as the 30 dollar headset.CONS:While the in-call sound is really, really good and the music sound is pretty awesome too, remember that you'll only get the music in one ear. The sound is actually very good and only lacks a little of the bass in songs.When pairing this, I had to hold down the multi-function button and wait for the red and blue flashing. Because the piece is so small, I had to move my finger to see if the lights were flashing.There is no Volume button on the earpiece so you have to control that with your phone. This is fine unless you walk away from the phone.Here are some shots of the case. Like I said, it's nice and compact.Like I said, I am kind of digging[...]

**REVIEW** Ancient Greek Remedy (best oil blend EVER) UPDATED


UPDATE: I sent a question to Greek Bliss about their foot balm and body butter. I heard back and they were nice enough to send me a code to try their foot balm and the soap. I will, of course, be doing reviews on those products asap.*** *** ***Almost exactly 2 years ago, I got to try this It's Ancient Greek Remedy Oil sold by Bliss of Greece I used it as a nighttime rest treatment, putting some on my neck and bosom to help relax me. The scent was very soothing and calming. I loved it. Then I packed it down with the rest of my many many oils when I got ready to move. When I got settled here in the new place, I didn't unpack all of my oils, just the ones I use on my hair or to clean. The other day, I was looking for my black pepper essential oil and found the Greek Therapy Oil in the box. Oh, joy!  Now as some of you know, I've been losing weight on the intermittent fasting regimen. Anytime I lose or gain weight, I take special care of my skin. I will use a lot more moisturizer until my weight stabilizes. In the past few weeks, I've been going extra heavy on the body lotion. Last night though, I went back to the product page and looked up the Ancient Greek Remedy's product page. I remembered how much I liked it but wanted to refresh my memory about the different ways it could be used. This is the full product description with my highlighting notes:Ancient Greek Remedy Oil is made of 100% PURE Blend of Organic Sweet Almond, Cold pressed Olive, Lavender and Grapeseed oil with Vitamin E, VEGAN, GLUTEN and GMO FREE. Multi purpose moisturizer packed with hair skin and nails vitamins, promotes natural health and beauty solutions which are superior than any single oil. each one from the 4 magical oils is a source of unique Vitamins and antioxidants that together create the ultimate solution all for your health needs.OLIVE OIL is full with anti aging vitamins and hydrating squalene, making it superb to use as firming body oil for smooth and even skin tone. reduces facial dark spots, promotes healthy soft and beautiful hair, help thickening thin hair, good for wavy, curly, straight & afro hair.LAVENDER Oil is one of the most well known essential oils in aromatherapy, benefits include its ability to Reduce anxiety and stress, migraine and headache relief, improves sleep apnea, prevent pregnancy stretch marks, Stop chronic scalp itch and cure dandruff, Effective treatment for skin discoloration, Acne scars, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, alopecia, seborrheic and atopic dermatitis.ALMOND OIL is rich in hair and Skin care Vitamins includes, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium and zinc, which explains why its a favorite massage oil and great for firm skin, optimal for treating hair loss and damaged hair, best natural toenail and cuticle Softener.GRAPESEED OIL due to their nutritional and medicinal properties grapes been used in many home remedies for centuries. GrapeSeed Oil provides lasting moisture for rough hands, feet and cracked heels, tighten loose skin, frizzy hair and healing flaky scalp.I was wasting this by only using it to rest better! I want to share a little note about something in the product description. Somewhere is mentioned something about a "fine mist" spray bottle. Unless the design has changed since 2016, the bottle does not have any kind of a "mist" spray. The oil comes out in little squirts which seems normal since it's too thick to "mist". I just wanted to point that out. Of course, now I am using it all over. When I twisted my hair last night, I put some of this oil on my scalp. I also used some on my feet. To moisturize my body, I mixed this oil in with some of the other carrier oils I have. I can't afford to waste this.&nbs[...]

**REVIEW** Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women


This is a definitely a post just for us women. Guys, you have been warned...There are certain issues specific to us females. We tend to deal with things to do with our feminine health and hygiene that aren't always fun to talk about. But let's go ahead and talk about them now.Guys - I warned you. Go away.As women, we know what it's like to deal with vaginal issues. There's odors and discharges and infections and, in most case, none of this has to do with our cleanliness. It all originates from inside. Diet, aging, hormones, stress, and other issues can be the cause. I know that and you know that. What I want is a solution.In the past, I would try to eat yogurt for my overall vaginal health and I'd drink cranberry juice to combat UTIs that I got from taking certain medications. I like yogurt but I don't eat enough of the healthier types.  I don't particularly like cranberry juice. There are cranberry tablets, but they don't take care of all the other, um, feminine issues that a good probiotic will - especially a probiotic formulated for women. That's why I wanted to try this product:This is Flora Bloom from Intimate Rose and I've been looking for something like it for a while. And, right up front, let me point out that they offer a No Questions Money Back Guarantee. Now, here is what the Flora Bloom is for and how it might help:If you have any digestive and urinary concerns, or Bacterial vaginosis.This supplement will help to regulate those vaginal and digestive conditions,It will restore the pH and help control vaginal flora (to reduce odor).Note that Flora Bloom does not contain wheat, gluten, soybeans egg, fish/shellfish, peanuts/tree nuts. The capsule shells are both vegetarian and kosher.Remember what I said about my using cranberry and yogurt to combat certain feminine concerns? Take a look at the ingredients in Flora Bloom:CranberryD-MannosePolydextroseProprietary Blend of the following: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus(NOTE: Those links, by the way, lead to the site search page. This is so you can look at some informational resources for yourself if you, like me, are not a medical professional.)I started my tablets today and am happy that I have the chance to try them out. Once again, you can give them try and if you're not satisfied, there's that no question guarantee to get your money refunded.Peace-FreeDISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products in return for a fair and honest review. I don't receive any compensation for any sales or other product proceeds. Posted by Free[...]

My First 24-hour Fast


Today is the beginning of my 4th week of intermittent fasting. I've done really good and am taking off the weight pretty painlessly.**Before I get to the fast, let's talk about my motivation.**The IF is wonderful and something I have found that I can live with for life. Although there was recently one HUGE bump in the road. That was when I got rid of my old, cheap analog scale and switched to a more accurate digital one. Before I got the new scale, my readings were way off. I was counting that I was down 11 pounds until I went to the doctor and they weighed me. The nurse told me that was no problem because if my scale was off, it was still reflecting my weight loss - just with a different set of numbers. Wrong. The old scale was not only off but it was giving me different weights every time I stepped on it in a 20-minute time span. Yes, I finally tested it that way.With this new scale giving me more consistent readings, I realize that I am just now down 7 or 8 pounds. When I thought I was down by 11, I was eating a little more loosely. Now I know that I need to take my daily calories down a bit. Still, I am really pleased with the photographic results:posted these back hereI dug out the same top and pants to take this photo just now:3/253/25Day 20 looks and feels great.Now, the fast...It is about 2pm here and I have to wait until 6pm to reach my 24-hour fasting goal. Here is how the day has gone so far:Woke up at about 7:30 because I had a rough night sleeping. We had a really big surprise snowstorm and the street plows have been busy. I think that the scraping and whirring of motors kept me from sleeping well. 7:30 is not that early, but it's way too early when you remember that you aren't going to be ingesting anything but your meds, water, and plain tea until 6pm. I kept myself busy cleaning and taking out the garbage until about 10am, then I started feeling anxious and a little light-headed. My usual time of breaking the 18-hour fast is about 11am. I think my stomach has a better clock that my brain does.To get past the initial cravings for coffee with cream, I drank a big glass of water and made a cup of Raspberry Zinger tea. At 1pm, I started wondering if doing a 24-hour fast was such a good idea. What if it set off some of my medical symptoms? What if I was doing more harm to my body and immune system than good? What it- Never mind, the craving passed. I told myself that I was doing good things for my body and that I might be healing myself by making better food choices and fasting.At 1:30, my brain fog seemed worse than usual, but my fatigue was lessened. I still felt a little bit light-headed and my already bad balance seemed more "off" and shaky. I decided to sit down and do this blog post. I don't want to waste this temporary reprieve from fatigue. (If fasting helps the fatigue, I will definitely do it more often!)And here I am.The main reason for even starting on IF was to lose weight and see if it helped me feel better than I normally do. So far, I am losing weight. I still have brutal bouts of fatigue and brain fog, but I notice that my mental state is better. Isn't the human body an amazing thing?I just told my niece that I plan to try doing a fast at least twice a month. Depending on how this all affects my fatigue, I want to talk to my doctors about working my way up to an even longer fast a couple of times a month. Maybe a 30-hour fast? Wouldn't it be amazing if in my efforts to lose weight and just generally feel better turn out to eradicate at least some of my sarcoidosis symptoms? That would be like an answer to my prayers! I can't wait to talk to my doctor about my IF results so far.One tip that I would like to pass along to anyone thinki[...]

**REVIEW** Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil and Neem Toothpaste


I will try different kinds of toothpaste because I have sensitive gums and... I'm getting older so my teeth give me problems. I really like the Closys brand paste and that's what I've been using for a minute. The other day though, I got to try this:Notice the addition of baking sodaIt's Desert Essence's Tea Tree Oil and Neem Toothpaste. (As if you can't read for yourself.)Neem.  ಠ_ಠMy first thought was, Ugh! No way, no how, no suh. I have some neem oil that I use on my hair as a deep conditioner and on my plants to kill pests. The stink is probably what scares the plant pest away. Neem smells the way I imagine skunk booty would smell like after a meal of beans and cheese. I mean, I don't know, but I'm just saying.Thank everything in the universe that this toothpaste smells nothing like the neem oil that I have been using right out of the bottle. What a relief. Y'all know that when I review things, I will tell the truth, no matter how ugly (or stinky that truth might be).The verdict on this toothpaste is that I not only like it but I really, really like it. The taste is pleasant and the smell... the smell is awesome.It took me a minute to get used to the foam because Closys doesn't foam at all. I think I missed the foam. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯The one thing that I did worry about was how far down the list of ingredients were the tea tree and neem. They are way down almost at the end...Sea salt has benefitsBut once I used the paste, I realized that it may be a good thing not to have more of those two ingredients. I think the taste would be too overwhelming. Tea tree oil is strong and Lord knows neem oil is very strong. Also, neem has the most bitter taste I've ever touched to my tongue. If the smell reminds me of something I can only imagine, then the taste is what I would imagine wormwood would be like. It's some nasty and special kind of bitter. It's a bitingly bitter taste that you can't wipe off your tongue or wash away. It has to just wear off. I know this because I accidentally transferred some from my finger to my tongue when I was treating my plants.I want to mention one of the other ingredients in this paste: sea salt**. It's right there at the very end of the label but that's okay with me because sea salt is an abrasive. One of the things it's supposed to be good for in dental health (other than the abrasive/cleaning effects) is that it is a natural source of fluoride. Notice that there is no other fluoride in this toothpaste so... yeah.Anyway, the toothpaste tastes good and works wonderfully. After one use my mouth felt so fresh and my teeth were smooth-clean. I don't think that I will use it for every brushing because it does work so well. I plan to alternate it with the Closys. This toothpaste might be like the Thieves Toothpaste I tried and could be too much for constant and every-day use.By the way, not only does this make your mouth feel fresh and clean, but it seems to have some whitening effect. Of course, I will have to use it for a while before I can swear to that, but I'm sure that the baking soda has something to do with it. You can tell there's baking soda in there because there's no grit at all.Finally, I want to address a couple of things about the ingredients:This does contain something called carrageenan (which I had never heard of) about which there have been concerns. From what I can tell, this ingredient is "plant-derived' and okay in the toothpaste because it is, of course, not to be swallowed. And that is mentioned on the label.Tea Tree Oil can be toxic if ingested. Once again, this paste is not meant to be swallowed. I would suggest not letting a child use it unsupervised and for adults to be careful about swallow[...]

**REVIEW** Mesh Laundry Bags Set of 6


I just got this set of mesh  laundry bags by Poliyu to review and I already like them quite a bitThe zippers are made to stay closed and to lastThe mesh is stronger and not as prone to ripping or wearing down as a lot of laundry bags.Now, I've used laundry bags before to separate and protect certain items when I wash. Mostly, I like not having the hooks on my bras tear into or snag other clothes. Also, it's really nice to be able to keep all my socks together since I otherwise lose about 3 socks per a load of wash... But I've found other uses for my laundry bags:Separating items when packing luggage,Tucking dirty items away from clean ones when traveling or packing, andSorting and separating clothing items in bedroom drawers.This may sound odd, but I actually separate my laundry items when putting them in the hamper. That way I'm good to go when I don't want to do all my laundry but need to do bras and socks or bedding items. I think what I like most about this set is that there are various shapes and sizes. You can get creative with which items you put into which bags. I'll use the bra one sometimes for socks and tights:This one is going to be good for when I do bed linens. I can separate my pillowcases and shams from the large sheets and duvet covers. Nice.Keep in mind that you can use these in both the washer and the dryer.The price is dang good. I've seen similar or higher prices for fewer bags in sets. Here is what you get in this set for a price that is currently less than $12:19.5" x 23.5" - will fit a jacket/coat or sheets15.7" x 19.5" - for sweater, blouse, pants11.8" x 16.7" - t-shirts, lingerie, scarves11.8" x 16.7" - delicates/silks (same size as above, but different mesh style)6" x 7" - can fit 2 bras (I fit 4 non-padded bras)8" x 8" - undies and socksSo if you haven't tried using laundry bags or are looking for quality ones at a good price, this is theset. Once again, this is the link: I received one or more of the goods in this post in exchange for giving my fair and honest opinion.Posted by Free[...]

Intermittent Fasting Day 12 - Progress Report with Photos!


This takes a lot of courage, but I did say that I would update y'all on my Intermittent Fasting progress. Here is the first of the photos.

Day 12 - Down 10 Pounds

I know that 10 pounds is not a LOT when I have another 40 to go, but when I was able to get into one of the pairs of Vanderbilt jeans that I'd had to put in the back of the closet... Boy, did that feel great! And the thing is, I know that I put the last 30 of these pounds on gradually so that's how I will have to get them off. It wasn't long ago when I was wearing the Vanderbilts on the plane ride here to Iowa.

People, I am so happy with this eating lifestyle. Okay. Maybe not so happy at about 10:30 when I'm watching the clock and waiting for the hands to hit eleven so I can have that first cup of sweetened caffeine.

I will do an update again soon. I can't wait until I have reached my goal and can do one big collage.


P.S.: Thanks, My Fat Secret. You are an awesome app!

**REVIEW** Fat Secret Weight Loss App


Well. For me, MyFitnessPal is over, done, and out. Finito. I deleted it from my phone and if I could block it, I would. I have found a replacement app that I love.Welcome to my life, Fat Secret!!! ❤❤❤Let me post some screenshots so you can get an idea of how useful the app is, then I will go into Pros and Cons. Let's start with the phone app, which is how I use Fat Secret the most.*********That up above is what the page looks like when you are inputting your food diary in the phone app. This is the page I use the most.The photo below is the bottom of the food diary page. This is where you can see a summary so you can check your progress of how many calories you have left before you hit your threshold for the day.The bottom photo shows a cumulative "report" of how many times you've eaten something. The photo below is another view of progress. It breaks down the days by caloric intake. It's a nice glimpse to let you know how your days are breaking down. My daily calorie limit that I set for myself is 150 so I can tell that the closest I came to that was on the 15th.  I wasn't finished logging meals today which is why the 16th looks so low.I like the idea of having photo and scanner capabilities within the phone app. Users can (and I did) take photos of their meals for the day they were consumed. Also, you can look up nutrition info for foods in your kitchen by barcode. Most of the items I scanned came up as is. In cases where my item wasn't found, I was able to search a list of similar items. Once, I couldn't find my exact brand of chicken breasts. It was store brand. I quickly found a brand that had the same info as that on the label of my chicken. Cool.By the way, you get the option of sharing or not sharing your stuff with other members. If you want to share your food photos but you don't want to share your weight tracking, fine. If you want to share with the Public community of Fat Secret, you can - or you can choose to only share with your Fat Secret "friends". That brings up another point: you can choose to follow other community members. You can also join groups and give kudos to other people's entries or shared info. I'll get to that in a moment when I move on to the web app/site.This photo below is a beautiful thing. When I first saw it, I assumed it had something to do with a paid version of the app. No, no. The app is totally (as of this post) free. The My Professionals section is for inviting, say, your doctor to peek in and see how you're doing. I'm not sure how it works, but I will test it when I see my doctor next - if she wants to sign up and do this. Very handy.The Recipes section is pretty cool. I have submitted 2 of my recipes and am waiting for Admin approval before they are posted. So you see that you can brown recipes and get some ideas for your meals. What's especially cool about the recipes is that you get so much information when you look them up. For example:When I submitted my recipe, I had to input the ingredients, prep & cook times, and list the steps to take to cook the item. The app fills in the nutrition information based on the ingredients listed. I love that.Let's say, you kind of like that recipe for Chicken Tostadas but you maybe want to keep browsing. Well, look how helpful it is to see even more recipes using chicken breasts.Remember what I said about sharing or not sharing? In the phone app, you can find the options on the Settings screen - and you can get to the Settings the usual way.There are also options for setting reminders, allowing comments, etc. You can even choose a color scheme for the phone app.Now, [...]

What the Heck Happened to My Fitness Pal?


So... I went over to MyFitnesPal after about a year away. Boy, does it suck now! I used to love that app. I used it for all twelve of my diets! LOLSeriously though, it really seems so different now. I couldn't put my finger on what seems changed, but I went looking for another app to replace it and saw a Reddit post that had the same complaint. Seems that MyFitnessPal has been bought out by UnderArmour...Well, there ya go. I don't know how I missed that logo change. It's all up there and in our face. In case you missed who's in charge now... And we all know that I love (but can't afford) all things UnderArmour.MyFitnessPal used to be very easy to use. I could scan items to get my calories, set up my regular foods to get to quicker, and even communicate with other users. Today, I didn't get past trying to add some new foods. The calorie counts were wrong for the first 3 items and when I tried adding the bread, the app didn't recognize slices as a unit.I gave up and tried an app that I saw mentioned in that Reddit post. It's called Fat Secret (yeah, bad name) and it's pretty similar to the original MyFitnessPal. But it is new and there are some annoyances that will probably get fixed as time goes by. I don't have the patience. I need to get started logging my meals and keeping track of these calories.I think I love this one!My niece and I texted about the Fitness Pal situation and she said that she hasn't bothered using that app in ages. Huh. So I guess I'm not the only one unhappy with it. She told me that she uses the Pro version of My Diet Coach. I checked out the free version and it's about the same as Fat Secret.What I have decided to do is keep track of my calories using an Excel sheet. I just have to try to remember how to set up the page to do the math for me! I was never good at Excel when I was good at other things. Now I look at the page and my head starts to hurt.My intermittent fasting is going great and doesn't even feel like any kind of a diet. The only problem I am having is tracking my calories. I've been undereating because I don't want to be a glutton like I was my first 2 days in.This is today's meal that I'm fixing for 4pm. That's my best time of day to eat because I have started cutting off my eating at 7pm instead of at 8pm. I start my 8-hour eating window now at 11 in the morning. Much less time to wait for that first cuppa caffeine! I'm still trying to work out the best hours for me to live with and this is what I'm using to make sure I don't get brain-foggy figuring out the 16-hour fast window.Anyway, folks, I'm looking for recommendations if you have any. Tell me what you think of all the apps I mentioned. Meantime, I'll just start tracking by pen and paper until I find some safe Excel sheets to download. If I find some that seem safe, I will post them the next time I blog about IF.Peace--FreePosted by Free[...]

**REVIEW** 2 Products from the African Pride Shea Miracle Moisture Intense Line


The change in locations is doing a number on my hair. When I visited Northern Iowa a couple of years ago and stayed in a town just over 20 miles from where I now live, my hair loved the fall season humidity. I didn't even have to use moisturizing products.Here in this little town where I'm just over 3 blocks from a lake, my hair has been in a different mood. I moved here in summer and between the natural heat and some mildly moisturizing products, my hair did okay. But this winter... Right now, I am struggling to keep my hair moisturized and soft without weighing it down. When I heard about the Shea Miracle line from African Pride, I was impressed, first, by the prices, then by the descriptions.SHEA MIRACLE BUTTERY CREMEThe Moisture Intense Buttery Creme (at $2.93 for a 6oz jar) is touted to:Nourish & Soften Curls, Coils and WavesStretch & Elongate Curls and Kinky- CoilsSmooth and Tame FrizzSounds good to me. So let's talk about this Buttery Creme.The first time I used it, I just put some on my hair without washing it or otherwise preparing it. It felt good going on. It was creamy and felt like it had good slip. I pulled it gently through from root to tip and let it dry. The hair that I applied it to looked good. It had curl and definition and it felt moisturized. Until it dried. The curl and definition were still there but the hair felt dry and slightly hard - or crunchy.Ingredients sound goodIf that had been the end of it, I would have just sprayed in some of my other moisturizers - maybe some Sta-Sof-Fro or Hawaiin Silky -  but that was not the end of it.When I went to bed, it got warm during the night and I could tell my hair was sweating out a little bit. I figured that was okay, just more moisture. Wrong.The struggle is the realestOf course, when you wake up after a night like that, your hair will eventually dry. When mine did, it was SO dry. Not only was it dried out like tumbleweed, it had lost all the curl definition where I'd applied the Buttery Creme.I wasn't going to totally give up on the product. I decided to give it another go by doing a co-wash first and then using the Shea Miracle Leave-In. I'll get to Leave-In in a moment.looks/feels good on the fingersSo, I co-washed (using my Aussie Moist), then I applied some of the Shea Miracle Leave-In. After letting my hair air dry to a slight dampness, I applied the Buttery Creme to sections of my hair. Once again, the curl definition was nice. I then let it dry while I did some cleaning and blogging. After about an hour, the curls still looked good but the hair felt dried out.I went to bed without twisting my hair. I usually twist it for styling about once or twice a week. Since I had the curl definition from the Creme and I felt it was too dried out to be manipulating it, I skipped twisting.This morning, my hair had no curl definition and it was drier than ever. I had to leave for a medical appointment and didn't have time to do anything but spray apply a little bit of Hawaiin Silky. I thought that might alleviate the crunchy bush that was my hair. It did but only a little.So, the Buttery Creme is something of a disappointment. I got 2 jars because of the price. Now I will have to try to add some other kind of oil to it just to use it up. It gives the curl that I like but that drying and matting are ridiculous! I'm going to have to rinse my hair in a few days and do a heat-cap treatment with some Aussie Moist to rectify this situation. I hope that works.SHEA MIRACLE LEAVE-INAs far as the Leave-In, it's only slightly better.It's pricier at $9[...]

This Kid Here


I already posted once today but...One of the neighbors asked me the other day if I was missing Alaska. Answer: Nope. But I do miss this kid. She wanted to see pictures. Now I can't quit looking through my files.This is him with a puppy that belonged to an older nephew. They could sit like this together for hours. Quietly.I took him with me to the mall one day. While I was talking with a clerk, he found the sunglass rack. The ladies' sunglasses rack.He loves taking our sunglasses - his mom's. mine, Daddy's. If you're looking for your glasses, just check with him.A costume one Halloween. The most adorable Batman EVER.One of his "thinking" faces when asked something.His Godparents were in town and I went with them to get his hair cut. He loves his barber and I couldn't believe how still he sat for the session.He cracks me up. One morning, I heard cartoon voices in stereo. This is how I found the little maniac.I love, love, LOVE this kid. I had a chance to see him when he was visiting Arizona this week. I declined. I don't think either of us can take another goodbye this soon. I'm still getting over the last goodbye.His mom got him this shirt and my heart melts every time I see it.This is how we spent a lot of hours. Just sitting together. We'd read or watch one of his kid shows or just talk about this amazing world.I miss my little guy.Peace--Free**All photos in this post are copyrighted by me and not to be reused in any instance.**Posted by Free[...]

Fasting Update: 7 Pounds Down


The Bumps & BlocksThis is Day 6 of the intermittent fasting routine life and so far, so good. There have been a bump or two, but I love the IF way of eating.This morning, the time change threw me off a bit. When I woke up, my wall clock told me it was eight o'clock. Of course, I'm thinking I will be able to have my tea or coffee in about four hours. That's how it is every morning now. I get up and start counting the hours until I can suck down some sweet, creamy caffeine!Then I check my phone (which is smarter than I am) and remember that it that time of year.First, I'm happy because, well, only three hours til caffeine time - and also Spring! Then I'm confused because of the way my brain works. I mean, is it four hours or three hours til I can break out the Sweet Italian Creamer jug?I'm going to be honest and tell you that it took maybe 20 minutes of hard thinking for me to realize that nothing has changed. Nada. I still have to wait four hours from waking to break my fast.  I have to remember that I'm just counting hours and 16 hours fasting is 16 hours, no matter where those fall on the clock.Man.So, yeah. Daylight Savings messed with my personal schedule, but I've decided to just stay on track and, as Steve Wynwood sings, just "roll with it, baby".The Good PartWhat I'm happy to report is that as of this Day 6, I am having some success. Actually, I think I'm having great success.I'm using a free app called Simple Weight Tracker. I looked at a couple other apps but they were too complicated. I just needed something nice and, well, simple. Of course, I am checking my weight using the cheap bathroom scale I picked up at Walmart or somewhere. (All those great scales I got for free to review? They are somewhere in Alaska being put to good use by the fam.)The good news (maybe) is that I might be able to have one of the nurses check my weight tomorrow before infusion. I can't remember if this is something they do anyway or not. Still, though, even if my bathroom scale is a little off, it's probably consistently off. I should be down about 7 pounds either way, right? Maybe if I hadn't eaten 2 helpings of Texas Toast yesterday, I'd be down 8 pounds!The StruggleI still forget sometimes to keep up with my water intake. I had been so good recently about drinking 64o ounces of water each day. I fell off but I'm getting back on track this day. I'm drinking water as I type this. I have to say that the water drinking this morning is helping keep my taste buds from thinking of tea or coffee. A bit.The thing I need to work on is alternating keto with non-keto days. I haven't been great about that. I'm not guzzling down pasta every day, but I am on a bread kick. I suppose, though, if the goal is to lose weight and eat better than I have been, I'm doing okay. Other than the bread, I'm not doing too many carbs. A potato here and an extra bit of creamer there...Looking ForwardNow that Spring is almost here (in weather, not per the calendar), I should be able to get more fresh veggies and fruit. I picked up a watermelon on sale this past week and, boy, it was yummy. I still have a lot left so I will nibble on that today.Hopefully, I will be able to keep the carbs in check, even if I don't get around to alternating keto days.Keto vs IF & Pros and ConsKeto or IF? I don't think it has to be an either or thing - choosing one over the other. Lots of people are doing the routines together. I think I told you all about the Ketogenic Intermittent Fasting Facebook group.In my pers[...]

Intermittent Fasting (and KetoFast)


This is how I started my review of KetoFast:Some people are having a lot of success with the keto diet. I lost about 10 pounds the first 2 months I was on it. Then I hit a donut and fell off the wagon. I'm kidding. I fell off because I didn't have any support and my cooking space was limited. I have no excuse now because I joined a Facebook group that is super supportive and I have a full kitchen all to myself.Not long after writing that, I checked my urine with a keto stick and saw that there was a slightly noticeable result. I ran over and updated my Amazon review. The next day I used another keto stick and... nada - as in not a result at all.  I'm going back over to update the Amazon review when I finish this post. ~sigh~I'm not giving up on the KetoFast though. I haven't used it enough to give it a fair chance. Also, I'm sure that pigging out on pasta didn't help the second results.Again, as I admitted in that other post, I haven't exactly been back on the keto wagon. To be honest, I don't think I can full-time keto. I think I can do alternate days of keto. And that's where this intermittent fasting comes in. But first, a little history.Before my sister passed, she was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and, of course, I stayed right there with her. I was about 185 pounds when she was admitted. When we had her funeral, I weighed in at around 145.  I know this because all my pants were hanging off my hips and I had to dig in the closet for a smaller size. Within a month, I had put back on all the lost pounds and they brought friends. I topped at 200 pounds. I know why. I was depressed and eating to fill the emptiness that came with the loss of my sister. And I didn't really even care about how overweight and uncomfortable I was.I tell you all that to tell you why I am trying Daily Intermittent Fasting - specifically the 16-hour fasting routine. I think I can handle this, guys.DIM is basically what I was accidentally doing while my sister was in the hospital. I wasn't even exercising. I would have a coffee in the morning with maybe a vending machine pastry. Lunch was one of those plastic-wrapped burgers (also from vending) or a burger and fries or chips from the cafeteria. The rest of the time, I was drinking coffee or nibbling on chips. By 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening, I was so bored that I would just doze off. The cafeteria shut down at a certain time and I'd be sick of the vending machines. Pretty much, after 7 or 8 p.m. I was shut down for the night.I started the DIM routine last night by not eating anything after 8. It wasn't too bad because I'm not awful about nighttime snacking. If I get hungry at night, I don't exactly snack - I heat up a meal. And because I can't count on when I will have energy enough, I tend to cook something for the whole week. Usually, spaghetti.Because I want to practice keto at least part of the time, this is the plan I decided to alternate from day to day.Keto Day - 2 meals; at least 32oz of water; and restrict myself to 2 cups of tea/coffee (instead of my usual 5 to 6 cups). One of the 2 meals will be keto-friendly.Non-Keto Day - 1 keto-friendly meal and a small keto-friendly snack; 64 oz of water and all the tea/coffee I want during eating hours.I like this graphic that I snagged from Pinterest.This is the only the second day for me and I don't plan to start the keto-alternating until next week.  First, I have to get used to the fasting itself.Yesterday, I did fine waking u[...]

**REVIEW & DISCOUNT** Keto Fast™ - Exogenous Ketone Supplement


Some people are having a lot of success with the keto diet. I lost about 10 pounds the first 2 months I was on it. Then I hit a donut and fell off the wagon. I'm kidding. I fell off because I didn't have any support and my cooking space was limited. I have no excuse now because I joined a Facebook group that is super supportive and I have a full kitchen all to myself.I am re-committed to my cleaning up my eating habit and taking in fewer carbs than usual, but that means cutting my coffee and tea habit in half. At least. All that flavored cream is what does me in. Less coffee and tea equals energy drop. I am already battling fatigue so... I needed a plan.This is what I am going to be trying out to boost my energy and help my metabolism: It's Keto Fast from Healthy Wiser. As soon as I got a chance to get some to review, I jumped on it. Before I even start telling you more about it, let me say now that I can score you a discount. I'll give you the details in a minute. First, let me share my initial impressions:Product ClaimsBoost or "supercharge" your blood ketonesPromote better mood, andsustained energy, andmental acuity, anddecreased appetiteThe most important claim is what I'm interested in:Or can't have carbsI love when a brand guarantees their product like this. I can check my ketones with my testing strips and I will be taking photos every week to track my progress. (If you all are nice, I will share the weight photos.)  Now, I got my first product for free but if you guys want to try it, there's a 100% money-back guarantee to go along with the discount. But let's run through my impressions as of Day 2.Label & Info I was surprised at how powder-fine the Keto Fast is. You can see from the video that it's almost like talc. Almost.Keto Fast (I like the name) is, most important of all, not low-carb but carb-free. This is good because on the diet I use, I allow myself up to 40 grams of daily carbs and I want to save those for any creamer I use in my hot beverages!Less important to me but really important to some folks, this is also gluten-free. Also, it's non-GMO. I think we can all appreciate that. Oh, and it's made in the good old USA.Taste, taste, taste Okay, so the one thing I thought I wasn't going to like about this is the "Lemon Lime" flavor. No matter how good a product is, it won't work if you can't stand to use it and  I seriously almost didn't accept the chance to try the supplement just because of that. Then I thought that as long as the product helped, I could probably just slam the drink really fast.I only put this is water and I didn't blend or shake it; I just used a fork and stirred it really well. I should have put it in my water bottle so that I could shake it because just stirring left a bit of residue on the surface. I was anxious to try this though so I just took a teeny-tiny sip. Not bad! This is something I could enjoy doing a few times a day. By the way, 3 scoops per day is the maximum dose.There is none of the saccharine-fake-sweet taste that I associate with lemon-lime drinks. This reminded me of a tart Kool-Aid type beverage. I personally would not add this to any of the smoothies I've fixed because the flavor wouldn't compliment them. I prefer drinking this just with cold water.  There is no way that I would ever add this to... MILK.Results? As I said, this is only Day 2 so I can only tell you about the initial effects. I will have to update about further r[...]

**REVIEW** Hirt's Gardens via


My budget is about as bad as my emotions sometimes are. Broke and depressed, I have found that houseplants are the cheapest way to beat the blues and decorate a home. I've already told you all about this though. Since I haven't been driving, it's best that I do what I can online. Or maybe not.Walmart's Garden Center had beautiful and affordable plants when I was there a couple of weeks ago. I had to look at the budget and pay some bills first so I only just now got one for $13, but I'll get back to that later.My photo does no justice!When I saw online that there were a Cordyline and some other plants that I could actually afford (even including the shipping), so I ordered them and waited anxiously for their arrival. The shipping time was shorter than estimated. That's one good thing at least. The problem is, the plants were MUCH smaller than I thought they would be. They all - all FIVE - came in a box smaller than the one I once got a coffee pot in!Okay now, let's play the ol' what-I-ordered-and-what-got game... What I ordered...Hirt's House Plant Collection..and what I gotAs you can see, that snake plant is a hearty little thing. It's the one I've been advising my friends to get if they have trouble keeping houseplants alive.What I ordered...Peace Lily Plant - Spathiphyllum..and what I gotOkay, this one didn't come out so bad; it just wasn't as lush as the product photo represented. What I ordered...Chinese Green Ti Plant - Cordyline ...What I gotHow sad is this?!TragicI think the cordyline was the biggest disappointment. It wasn't the size (I didn't expect a huge one), but that poor thing was all kinds of beat up! It's been about a week now and I'm slowly getting her to perk up. I was sick in bed myself the past day and a half so I checked on her this morning to see how she was doing. Thank goodness she's starting to look a bit healthier.That's what happens, I guess when you order certain things online. And this is what happens when you go in and actually look at stuff in person...Again, my camera kind of sucks! There were only three of them left. I guess I wasn't the only customer shocked to see such a great price on such a beautiful plant. I don't even want to think about what this would have cost me in Anchorage. Okay, I will guess at a low estimate of $30 maybe? I'll have to see if one of the nieces can run over and do a price check for me.My camera does not show the full beauty of those colors. I do think the Walmart folk were over-watering her because her leaves have some browning and are brittle in a couple of places. At any rate, I love the plant. On my worst days, I will go lay in the living room just to look at all the plants and this cordyline is extra special. They should place these plants around patient areas in hospitals, seriously.By the way, I don't see the brand of Hirt's Gardens on the large cordyline. Hmmm... This is what she looks like next to her mini-me:Big sister, little sisterNow, I don't want to bash Hirt's because I'm sure they do the best they can to carefully package the plants for shipping. I kind of want to put the blame on the carrier. I could tell when I unpacked the plants that the box had gotten knocked around - and Hirt's had boldly labeled it as holding LIVE PLANTS. C'mon now people.Anyway, I wanted to do this post for anyone else who may have thought of ordering plants online - from any seller, not just Hirt's.Soon as I'm feeling better, I will [...]

**REVIEW** Cossac Planner/Agenda


With so many phone apps, it's a wonder we need anything like calendars or planners. I love phone apps for most things but not for calendars. I have more trouble using phone and email calendars than I should! Certain things are just in the See-Hold-Feel category.I think a lot of folks must agree with me because when I posted this on Instagram the other day, quite a few of my friends wanted to know more. I don't blame them.That is a planner/agenda from Cossac. I hate calling it a planner because it's actually so much more. At first sight, I didn't like it. I didn't understand it. Ten minutes later (after reading over the enclosed instructions and checking the Cossac site), I was in love.Most planners seem to be made to fit certain lifestyles. Usually, they are designed around people who work "regular" jobs. This one is perfect no matter what your day consists of. It's one of the first planners I've seen that someone could use - and I mean really use - whether they are a stay-at-home parent, working parent, student, or conventional employee. The whole idea behind this planner is to help you stay on track with whatever you are doing. For me, with my poor memory and organizing skills, this is just what I need. I can keep up with health appointments, medications, daily life hassles and commitments. Most important, it's going to be wonderful for helping me get on track and stay on track with writing projects.Love this part!If you feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do, or if you just want to be more focused or keep a record of goals and progress, this is an awesome planner. I am not exaggerating even a little bit.This planner uses the organizing concept of general-to-specific.When I did the review for this on Amazon, I tried to highlight some of my favorite features, so I'll run through them here:The layout is structured so that the user can focus more on primary goals in a 6-month period - month by month; week by week; and/or day by day. I will probably use the monthly pages for medical appointments just to glance at. What I will use most are the weekly and daily pages for my writing projects. The paper is good quality for writing and not having a pen bleed through. (I am using a pencil in mine because I want to re-use!).The hardcover binder has a really nice texture that I can only describe and "creamy" smooth. Best of all is that you can flatten the planner without damaging the binder because of the way it's made. I've already mentioned that this planner doesn't assume anything about the user; it's set up to work for every kind of occupation or lifestyle.The planner is most helpful for keeping a user from getting overwhelmed with whatever they are busy with. Everything is set up as in a flow of review backward and plan forward. That's what will help me most at the end of the day - to see what I've done (or should have) and plan for the next day.I love the way the Daily view is set up. It's constant reinforcement of what you "aim for" that day; what the general priorities are; more detailed "schedule/tasks"; a place to jot notes and ideas; then the review for the day. Pretty cool, yeah?There are a couple of features I don't think I will even pay much attention to. There is a small space at the top of the Daily pages called a "Habit Tracker":I guess that would be great for me to track my water-drinking habit but, nah, I don't dig[...]