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! :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Foodie Friday!

So remember back in January when I said I was going to start doing all these little segments on the blog, then I did one and stopped? Yeah...well I'm starting them up again. :)

Everyone who knows me knows that I love food. And I love to cook, so I thought, why not showcase my talents? :p

I found this recipe on Pinterest (where else?) a couple of weeks ago for Nutella French Toast. And I've been making it on almost a daily basis since. It's delicious! The original recipe came from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife. The first time I made it, I followed her recipe (minus the lemon juice). However, I like to experiment, and I wanted to make this a bit healthier, so I made some changes. She used Italian bread, but I love wheat bread, so I used that. Also, while the first few times I made it, I did mix the sugar and strawberries together, I no longer use sugar, and I mix up the fruit and use whatever I have in the house at the moment (today, it was a banana and kiwi). And I love spices. There's just something about them that draws me to them. Whenever I cook, I try to use spices. So, I do use cinnamon, but I also add nutmeg and ginger. It adds some more flavor, and it all mixes nicely together and makes me one very happy girl. :)

Here's a picture of my lovely breakfast this morning.

Nutella french toast topped with banana and kiwi slices, leftover banana and kiwi, cinnamon & sugar oatmeal, and Strawberry-Banana V8 Fusion to drink. :) So good.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Some Changes Have Been Made

Okay, so remember that exercise thing that I posted in my last entry that I said I was going to follow? Yeah....that lasted about 3 days. I just hate "normal" exercising for more than a few minutes, and that was just too boring for me. And if it's boring, I'm not going to stick to it. So I scrapped it.

However, I did find something else that I think I can stick to.

I found it on Pinterest (which is where I find a lot of things these days), but it originally came from this tumblr. They also had one for February that I started, but I didn't finish it. So this time, I'm determined to do the whole month. It's only been a week, and already I'm noticing that sit-ups are getting a bit easier for me, I'm able to go down a little further on my pushups, and holding a plank isn't as hard as it was. In other words, I'm already noticing my core (and my arms!) getting a bit stronger, and that makes me feel good. :)

Also, since I hate exercising, but I know I have to in some form, I'm making an effort to be more active. I have an 8 month old half beagle/half Jack Russell puppy.....and he is HYPER! Between chewing on things he's not supposed to, tackling me when I even look at the other 2 dogs (Black Lab mixes) who live in the house, and wanting to play Keep-Away (his favorite game--which consists of him usually getting something he's not supposed to and making me chase him), I stay moving for the most part. And that's good. It's not as hard for me to run after him as it used to be....and that's a very good thing. :p

So that's my plan so far. As far as diet goes.....I don't believe in diets. But I am making better choices (for the most part) in regards to food. In fact, I made these wonderful no-bake cookies that my grandmother used to make (and you can find a recipe here), and they're a weakness. But I'm trying to be strong and not eat them all in one sitting (which I'm proud to say is going pretty well). But seriously, if you've never had these cookies, go make a batch. So good.

Well that's all for tonight. I'm gonna go watch Big Bang Theory and Men at Work, and try not to go eat another cookie. :p

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Busy Day

Today's weight: 165.6 pounds. My heaviest. And it's changing.

I got up at 7am and ran in place for 10 minutes as my cardio for the day. But don't worry. After my wonderful breakfast of Nutella french toast with strawberries and bananas, 2 scrambled eggs, some pineapple juice and some water, I headed to the Renaissance Festival with my parents. It's been a few years since we've been, and's grown! We walked around for 5 hours today.....the longest we've ever stayed at the Festival. But we got to see a joust (and we even got to sit in the nobility for a little while today, I got to be a part of King Henry VIII's court!), eat in a tea room, and buy our pirate outfits for the cruise!

Lunch was light--a fruit plate with caramel dipping sauce--mainly because it was so hot outside. Dinner was definitely not healthy: a hamburger and fries from Sonic. But, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm refusing to cut foods out because I know that will backfire on me. Also, I didn't eat a lot today, so that hamburger and those fries aren't going to kill me. All the walking around (in the sun), and then coming home and running around a bit with my dogs wore me out! So it's been nice to spend these last few hours just relaxing.

Okay...enough boring stuff. Here are some pictures from today!

King Henry and Queen Anne :)

Time for the joust! We got a banner to wave for our knight and a cushion to use on the bench. The perks of being "noble."

The knight we cheered for: Sir Elgarod.

And he won the joust!

My lunch. :)

Where we had lunch.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I've Been Oh So Horrible at This

I know back in January I said I was going to blog here more. Well, that obviously did not work out as planned. However, I'm thinking that now I'm back here for good. I guess better late than never, right? Hehe. So what made me decide to start blogging regularly again? Well, I'm jumping back on the losing weight bandwagon. However, this time, I'm determined to stay with it and finally lose this weight once and for all.

I plan on updating at least multiple times a week about my progress. I'm hoping daily, but I'm not promising it this time. I'll also post other things as well, so this blog won't turn into strictly my weight loss journal. But I need motivation, and I think this is how I will get it. If I know people are keeping up with this and cheering me on, I'll be more likely to stay with it. But I also know that I have to motivate myself, so I can't rely solely on this blog to keep me going. But this will be a big help. :)

I'll post my starting weight tomorrow, since that's when I plan on starting all of this. But I know that to get back into my healthy range, I need to lose about 35-40 pounds. I'm going to set little goals for myself to keep me motivated and give me things to look forward to. I think for starters I'll give myself little rewards for every 5 pounds I lose. For instance, my first reward will be to buy a new song on iTunes--because I never buy music on entire music library is from all of the CDs I own. Now I can be thinking of what I song I really want in my library, and that will help me work towards losing those first 5 pounds. :)

I'm still working on all the logistics of this, but I think I have a basic exercise plan to follow. If you know me, you know that I absolutely hate doing things like running and going to the gym and all of that. It's mainly cardio work that I can't stand, but I know it is a necessary evil for me. However, I do enjoy working my arms, so I'm excited about getting my weights out and doing push-ups and such. And since I don't really care for working out all that much, I'm glad that I've found a plan that actually won't take up too much time. :) Here it is:
I found this on pinterest, but it originally came from this blog, MELAvonD, that I'm starting to love. It's totally doable for me, and I'm actually pretty excited about it. Especially since I only have to do 10 minutes of cardio tomorrow. :p

This is definitely going to take some getting used to, and it means that I have to make some major lifestyle changes. But I'm excited about getting control over my body back, and about feeling more confident in myself and in the fact that I won't have to worry as much about getting the diseases that run in my family. And, yes, I'm excited about looking a lot better in pictures--especially when I go on a cruise in September and go to Indy for a friend's wedding in October. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I'm Reading Wednesday

So this is one of the changes I was talking about in my last post. I want to do little segments on here that make my blog a bit more interesting, and keep me motivated to update it regularly. This first segment I've come up with is What I'm Reading Wednesday. On Wednesdays, I'll talk about a book that I'm currently reading, or just finished. It'll essentially be a book review, and my opinion on whether or not you should read it. Now, that the boring stuff is out of the way, let's get on with the fun. :)

I'm currently reading The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living by Joseph M. Marshall III, a Lakota Indian. If you've kept up with this blog at all, then you know that I spent 10 days on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota back in May 2010. Pine Ridge is home to the Oglala Lakota Sioux Indians, and the author of this book is half Oglala (that's from his dad's side; he's also half Sicangu Lakota, most of whom live on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, also in South Dakota). My parents got me this book for Christmas, and I'm so glad they did. I've taken this book everywhere with me, and anytime I've had a spare moment, I've read it. That includes a trip to Walmart when lines at the checkout lanes were ridiculously long.

This book is full of Lakota stories that talk about the twelve virtues that the Lakota, and most other Native American tribes, hold fast to--humility, perseverance, respect, honor, love, sacrifice, truth, compassion, bravery, fortitude, generosity, and wisdom. Marshall also includes personal stories from his life in each chapter, as well as examples from Lakota history. He uses those examples to show how the Lakota have used the virtues to survive everything that the American government threw at them in the 1800s.

Ever since my trip to Pine Ridge, I've grown very fond of Native Americans, and I've wanted to learn more about them and their culture. I've got a special place in my heart for the Oglala Lakota, since that is the tribe I worked with. I am in awe of their quiet strength, and the way they have kept their culture despite the American government's efforts to rid them of it. They are such a strong and proud people, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to spend time with them. I'm also glad I got this book. It has helped me learn a little more about a culture I love, and it's given me even more respect for the Lakota. I hope that I am able to take the lessons in this book and apply them to my own life now. The trip to the reservation changed my life, and I think this book will too.

In case you didn't get it, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Go read it and learn a little more about a group of people who are so amazing and worth knowing more about.