Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life Happens

So I'm aware that I never posted anymore pictures from the Picture a Day July challenge. That's mainly because I didn't finish. I ended up getting busy and forgetting to take pictures, and I just gave up. So, there's the lame (but true!) reason why you haven't heard from me in a while.

 So, I could spend this time telling you all about how my job has been working me crazy lately (oh, the joys of working in the fast food industry), and how school has been tough (grad school isn't easy). I could also tell you how I'm preparing for my upcoming, and much needed, vacation in a couple of weeks, and how as soon as I get back from that, I'm moving into my own place. But, I'm not going to bore you with all of that. Instead, I want to talk about something that has been close to my heart. Something that I am proud to be a part of, and something that excites me. And that's helping people. Especially kids. Especially kids who don't have a way to help themselves.

A few years ago, back when I was attending church regularly, I signed up to sponsor a child through a charity called Compassion International. His name was Fardhan, and he was from Indonesia. He was 6, and his birthday was the same day as my 5-year-old cousin's--the cousin who had died earlier that year due to severe medical problems. I knew when I saw Fardhan's birth date, that God was telling me that I needed to help this little boy. And so for over a year, I got to be this child's prayer warrior, friend, and helper. I wrote to him every month, and every other month or so, I would get a letter back from him. The $32 a month that I spent to help him wasn't much to me, but I knew that it meant everything to him and his family. They were poor (as all Compassion children are), and this money helped them get everything they needed. Every letter I got from Fardhan told me how much he appreciated my help and my prayers, and he told me about the things he was able to do with the money. He also told me about the things he was learning in the Compassion programs that were run through his church. It made my heart so glad to hear about how he was learning about God and how much he enjoyed it. I loved getting letters from him, and I saved them all.

However, in November 2009, I had to quit my job because I was about to start my last semester of my undergraduate degree, and that meant that I would be student teaching full time. I needed to focus on my school, and luckily I was in a position where I could quit my job to focus on school. However, that meant that I had no income coming in to support myself, much less Fardhan. So I had to give up sponsoring that amazing little child. It broke my heart to do so, and I fought to find ways to still be able to sponsor him, despite not having any income. But I couldn't.

I haven't been involved with Compassion in almost 2 years now, because I haven't really been in a position to be able to sponsor other children. However, now that I'm working a lot and making pretty decent money (for me anyway), I am happy to say that I am once again able to sponsor a child. I got a letter from Compassion in the mail last month asking me if I would like to come back and sponsor another child. I thought about it, remembered how much I enjoyed sponsoring Fardhan, and decided to give it another try. This time, however, I wanted a slightly older child. But I still wanted one from Asia (with Compassion, you can decided the age range, region, and gender of the child you would like to sponsor; you can also visit their site and pick out the exact child you want to sponsor). Since my degree is in middle grades education, I wanted a child in that age range. So I filled out the form and sent it in. About 2 weeks later, I got a letter from Compassion with the information about my sponsor child!

His name is Yehezkiel (his nickname is Ekel), and he's also from Indonesia. He's 11 years old, and his birthday is April 6.....which is 3 days before my birthday!

I've already written one letter to him, and I'm planning on writing another one. Hopefully I'll get that done today. :)

My relationship with God isn't anywhere near what is should be, or even where it once was. I've had a lot happen in my life over the past couple of years, and my faith has taken a hit. But I really feel like God wants me to be a part of Ekel's life, and that by doing so, my life is going to change. I'm definitely interested to see where God takes me and Ekel now. And I'm excited about getting my relationship with God back where it should be. It's going to take time, I know. But I'm finally ready to get back to where I need to be.

If you want to find out more about Compassion, check out their site. It'll give you information about the charity, as well as how to go about sponsoring your own child (and the price has gone up a bit--it's now $38 a month).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Photo A Day July

I know I've been a little MIA here lately. Sorry for that. I've started working, I've been getting things ready to move into my own place, and I've been vacation planning. So it's been a little busy. :)

However, I am wanting to give you a little peek into my world. So I've decided to participate in the Photo A Day--July thing going around right now. I won't post pictures daily, but every Sunday, I'll post the pics from the previous week. :) And I'm hoping to get back on board with the Foodie Fridays, too. Hopefully it works!

There's the list of the pictures I have to take this month. :)

July 1: Self Portrait
My mom and I were out shopping at Target, and a stop at Starbucks was a must. I don't get my Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino very often. And the fact that I'm sporting my favorite pair of Mickey sunglasses--this picture just screamed "summer" to me.

July 2: Busy
I'm cooking dinner--cheeseburger macaroni. :)

July 3: Best Part of My Day
I got my letter telling me I got accepted to grad school!!!! I start in August, and I'll be going for a Master of Archival Studies. I'm so excited about this!!!

July 4: Fun
My dog, Jack, chewing on his bone. He thinks this is a lot of fun. And when my other dog, Red, wants the bone, it becomes even more fun. :p

July 5: Floor

The end of the day, and thanks to 2 of my 3 dogs, toys are all over the floor. :p

July 6: Chair
This is Jill, the princess. And she is convinced that this chair is hers. I'm curious to see what she does when I move out and take the chair with me. :p

July 7: Garden
The first harvest of the figs off of the fig tree in my backyard. There was a lot more we couldn't reach.

So there's the pictures from week 1! Look for pictures from this week on Sunday! :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
 -"The Star Spangled Banner"--Francis Scott Key

Happy 4th of July from my beautiful hometown, Atlanta! :)

And Happy 4th of July from the place I wish I was, my home away from home, Disney World! :)

Be safe (and keep your pets safe, too!) on this wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Acne by Numbers

As I've posted before, taking care of my skin is becoming a top priority for me now. And y'all know about my love for Mario Badescu--so much so, that I'm following them on Pinterest. They post a lot of great things, including stuff from their blog. I came across this wonderful graphic that they posted today, and it really helps me understand acne and how to take care of (and prevent) it a little more. And I hope it helps y'all as well. :)

Acne By The Numbers - an acne statistics infographic
Acne By The Numbers: Interesting Acne Statistics and Treatment Ideas [INFOGRAPHIC]

An infographic by the team at Mario Badescu Skin Care

Let's all start summer off right and pledge to take good care of our skin! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers' Day!

This post is dedicated to my wonderful Daddy. He has taught me so much, he encourages me to have my own opinions (and taught me to back them up), and he believes in my dreams, even when I'm not quite sure what they are. He's supportive and loving and all around amazing. And I was lucky enough to inherit his sense of humor, his sarcasm, his love of cooking and history, and his willingness to work hard to get what I want. He's shown me how to deal with the hard things life throws at you with grace and dignity, and he's taught me how to fight for myself and what I believe in. And for that I'm forever grateful.

And he's my hero. He was in the Army and spent some time in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He's proud of his service, and he's proud of this country. And he's passed that patriotism on to me. As the bumper sticker on my car says, I am the proud daughter of a Vietnam Vet. And I'm thankful everyday for his service and what that means for us.

I've been a Daddy's Girl all my life, and I'm proud of it! I wouldn't have things any other way. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Foodie Friday....Er....Saturday ;p

I'm sorry this is a day late. I wanted to post about my dinner last night, which we ended up having late due to me going to turn in job applications (and getting 2 mini interviews in the process!) and having to take our 3 dogs to run off their energy. And by the time we finished eating, I was exhausted! So I'm posting it today. :)

Last night's dinner idea (Crescent Burgers!!!) came from Budget Savvy Diva. I wanted to do something relatively easy, and something that used up some stuff I already had (like the crescent rolls). When I found this recipe (thank you, Pinterest!), I knew I had to try it. She says they taste like White Castle Burgers, but we don't have White Castle in Georgia*, so I can't confirm or deny that statement. However, I can tell you that these were really really good, and I will be making them again. :)

I'm usually not an onion person (unless you fry them.....that's the Southern girl in me), but in these burgers, they work. And on my burgers I usually have lettuce, tomato, and ketchup, but not on these, and it didn't matter. The Worcestershire sauce added amazing flavor. And my parents liked them, too. Although, I will admit, they always seem to like what I cook. The real test will come when I make these for my boyfriend.

Now, these are small (remember, you're using crescent rolls), so make sure you make enough for everyone to have more than one. I ended up having 3, and that was plenty for me. 

Crescent Burgers, french fries, and Diet Dr. Thunder. :) A nice, easy dinner.

*We do have Krystal, which I think is pretty much the same thing. But I always get the plain pups when we eat there, so I still can't tell you whether or not they really taste like that. :p

Monday, June 11, 2012

Product Review: Mario Badescu Skincare

If you've kept up with this blog at all, or you know me, then you're probably aware that I've suffered from acne (it's still weird for me to call it "adult acne" even though that's what it is--I guess I have a hard time really thinking of myself as an adult), and that my face is pretty much always red and blotchy. And I've spent the last year really looking for products that would help both of those skin issues. I have sensitive skin, and I'm pretty sure I have a mild case of rosacea. So it should be as simple as getting medication and/or using products for sensitive skin. However, I have a more difficult time than the average person with this because I'm also highly allergic to sulfur (I won't go into it here; if you want to read about my issues with that, see this post from May 2011). So I have to be extra careful with what I put on my face or in my body medicine wise.

This led me last year to start looking for natural products that would help my skin issues. The same post that I linked to above is about the start of this journey. I had been using St. Ives products, but I was still having problems with both the acne and redness. I then discovered Neutrogena's Naturals line of products. The thing that caught my attention with that was that the label said there were no sulfates in the cleanser. So I bought it and after one use, I noticed a difference. So for the past year, I've been using Neutrogena Naturals products (mixed in with St. Ives Apricot Scrub twice a week) and a toner made for sensitive skin. And my skin's been okay, but I knew it could be better.

So a few weeks ago, I was checking my email, and one of the websites I get newsletters from (Get It Free) had a way to get free samples from Mario Badescu Skincare, which is a line I had never heard of before. All you have to do is go to their website, click on the consulting tab, and fill out the questionnaire. Once you do that, they'll send you free samples of products that they believe will best help you and your skin problems.

Just a little background on the company. It was founded 45 years ago in New York by Romanian-born chemist and cosmetologist Mario Badescu.The line is botanically-based, which makes me feel really good about it. And the company continues to use the same practices that their founder did. I like that, too. Consistency, especially when it comes to skin care, is a beautiful thing. 

My package with my samples came about a week ago, and I was very excited to try them. Along with the samples were a product guide that gave details about all the products the line offers, and a Product Application Guide, which gave me a list of the products they believe would work for me, as well as a routine to follow. Out of the 7 products they recommended for me, I received samples for 6 (they don't offer a sample of the Buffering Lotion). And let me tell you, after a day of use, I could tell a huge difference in my skin. My acne is clearing up very well, and the redness is virtually gone! I am madly in love with this line--and I've already purchased one of the products!

Just to give you an idea of the types of products they offer, here's a breakdown of my regimen.

1. Keratoplast Cream Soap
This is step one in my regimen, both morning and evening. It's a nice cream soap, and my skin definitely feels refreshed after I wash it with this. It's a non-soap cleanser, and it helps reduce redness that's associated with sensitivity and broken capillaries with Keratoplast, which is a natural ingredient. This is the product that I've already ordered, as it is the cheapest of the 7 products they've recommended for me ($10 for a 6oz. bottle).

2. Special Cucumber Lotion

I'm not sure why this is called a lotion when it's actually an astringent. But either way, I do love it. It's step number 2 in both my morning and evening routines. This does have sulfur in it, but it doesn't seem to irritate my skin. Then again, I'm pretty sure the ingredients in the other products help keep that under control. It's also cucumber based, and it's used for fighting acne. An 8oz bottle is $15. This might be the next thing I buy once I get the money.

3. Ceramide Eye Gel

This is step number 3 for me in my morning routine. It's my last step (step 4) at night. I've never used an eye gel or cream before, but after using this, I'm questioning why I haven't. This is used to help diminish puffiness and other signs of tired eyes, and it does work. It might take a little more time than the rest of the regimen to see the results, but in a week, I can definitely tell a difference in the puffiness under my eyes. The site suggests that you store this in the refrigerator for a "soothing morning eye treatment." I haven't done that, so I can't tell you how that works. For a 0.5oz container of the eye gel, you're going to shell out $18.

4. Collagen Moisturizer (SPF 15)

I only use this in the mornings as my last step. It's not used at night at all. I love this moisturizer because it keeps my face and neck soft all day. Plus, it has sunscreen in it, which is a must for me because I burn so easily. It's light-weight, and the collagen helps keep skin smooth and healthy, and it also helps protect against moisture loss. This might be one of the last things I buy in the regimen because a 2oz. bottle is $22.

5. Healing & Soothing Mask

I love this mask! I use it 3 nights a week as step 3 in my nightly routine. This is a non-hardening mask that helps reduce redness and acne. You leave it on for 20 minutes, and when you wash it off, your skin feels amazing! A 2oz. jar costs $20.

6. Strawberry Face Scrub

As far as the best-smelling of the products, this is my favorite! I use this 3 nights a week (alternating with the Healing & Soothing Mask) as step 3 in my nightly routine.It's made with real strawberry seeds, and it's a non-abrasive face scrub. It helps to unclog pores and get rid of blackheads while buffing off dull skin. After you use this, your skin will look amazing! A 4oz. jar is $15, so it'll be something I purchase pretty soon.

The last product on the list is the Buffering Lotion, but I haven't used that, so I don't feel like I can really tell you about it. But the six items that I have reviewed here are all amazing. My skin looks and feels so different that it used to--it's actually healthy now! This skincare line is amazing, and it really works! And trust me, I speak as someone who has tried almost everything to get better skin.

Another really cool thing about this company is that with any purchase you make, you get 3 free samples of any of their other products of your choosing! So when I purchased the Keratoplast Cream Soap, I picked out samples of their shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. If this line is this amazing for my face, then I can only imagine what it will do for my hair and the rest of my body! I'm excited to find out!

I highly recommend this company to anyone who is looking for something to help their skin out. Just take a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire, and then use the free samples they'll send you. How can you say no to free samples?

And just so you can get an idea of how well it's worked for me, here are some before and after pictures:

Before (and now I'm missing Disney even more....)

After! And excuse the hair...this is what happens when I don't blow dry it.
  I'm in love! :)