I’m Still Here …

Wow! I’ve got so much to tell you. I think … We’ll see how much I can remember. Where should I begin?

Let’s back up to a couple weeks ago. I got sick. Pretty darn sick. My white blood count went down to 1. I was very anemic and neutropenic. And I had a Shingles breakout and cellulitis underneath it. I had to get a daily Neupogen shot. Which made me feel icky. It all made me feel icky, honestly. The worst part was that I had to skip my Chemo that week.

I’m better now, though. I’m still anemic, but everything else looks good, so I have had chemo the last two weeks. Only three more left!!! And guess what! My BFF may be in town and able to come with me next week!

She’s coming into town this Sunday — correction — her whole family is coming into town Sunday. I’m over the moon excited. I have two soul sisters from Pennsylvania, and they are both coming with their families in the next few weeks and it makes me ridiculously happy. Friends are the best!!

So, I have no idea what I have shared and not shared with you, but currently the hair on my head is growing but I’ve lost my eyebrows and eyelashes. My awesome sister just sent me like a million pairs of fake eyelashes. Let me tell you, these suckers are tough to put on! I successfully donned a pair yesterday, with mixed reviews on the make up along with it. Today, I tried again, but my eyes were watering, and one of the lashes started falling off, so they came off early. So no pics yet. I’ll get one when I perfect the application.

My mood swings from frustration to acceptance. But I only have three more chemo treatments. So I can hang on for these next three weeks. I just need to rest when I feel like I need to rest (which, honestly, is most of the time).

Please bear with me … I will try to update again. My brain is pretty much fried, though, so it gets a little difficult to pull words together. And sometimes I completely lose my train of thought.

xoxo!

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Dress Up for Yourself!

Last night, I mentioned that one of the passions I’ve found, since being diagnosed with cancer, is to put together great outfits — from the makeup to the hat to the accessories. This morning, I’ve been up since about 6:00 (yay, steroids), so I was able to drink my coffee in bed while I got through all of my spiritual goals, use a great little essential oil blend (I’ll share in another post) I made up to help me concentrate, and get ready for the day properly.

Typically, if I am home for the day, I don’t worry too much about what I put on. Heck, I may not even shower, and I usually don’t apply makeup. Today, I am spending the majority of my day at home, but I do have to run some errands … still not always enough for me to put forth too much effort.

But today, with the abundant energy I am feeling, I decided, “What the heck?!” Let’s dress up for me! I got a shower and used my Clarisonic.

In fact, I need to sing the Clarisonic’s praises, as I assured you I would. You’ve heard me lament about the dry skin that can accompany Chemo. Plus, for some reason, one of the effects of Chemo is that my nose runs constantly. It drips. It is the bane of my existence at the moment. Since I’m always wiping my nose, my nose and upper lip are typically horribly dry, with the dead skin slowly peeling off (sorry for the details).

Here enters the Clarisonic. I use it in the morning, on the simple setting that guides me: 20 seconds for the forehead; 20 seconds for the nose, lip, and chin area; and 10 seconds for each cheek. The result: amazingly soft skin, with zero dry patches. The results for me were instantaneous, and have improved with each use. I’m noticing smaller pores on my chin and nose. Less blemishes. And lovely, smooth skin.

Anyway, back to my morning. My mom took me shopping yesterday (thanks, Mom), and I got some new tops. The one I’m wearing today is a great turquoise color which matches my Coastal Scents SocialEYES palette. So, I chose the turquoise and silvery-grey colors for the shadows, and the black color to line the eyes.

Then I finished my outfit — pretty casual actually, but still cute, donned my hat, and headed downstairs to work.

Who says You can't dress up to work from Home?

It feels good to be ready for anything that comes my way today. A lot better than Monday when I ended up pumping gas in my pajamas on my way to pick my son up from school.

Even if you don’t work from home in the secular sense, doesn’t it feel good when you’re dressed and made up, even if its to clean out your kid’s clothes or work on making his costume for a school project? (Also on my to-dos today).

Tell me, do you get dressed up every day? Does it make you feel better? More productive? Happier? Let me know in the comments!

New Eyeshadow Palettes

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about makeup, so I’m excited to present you with my review of a Birchbox exclusive, the Coastal Scents styleEYES Trio Palette. First of all, I need to start by saying that this trio is only $25! That’s $25 bucks for 24 different shadows. Highly pigmented, gorgeous shadows. So far, I have only used two of the three palettes, but I’m thrilled so far …

Exclusive Birchbox Palette

Overall Impression

All three of this pictures were taken at the end of the day … I’m always hurrying to get ready, so I rarely have time to post in the morning, though I do have one (with a special appearance of my latest Jamberry manicure, Little Lady. Coincidentally they match the little ladybug on my hat!) …

IMG_2367

Anyway, I apologize for the generally bad pics … lipstick worn off, a little pale from fatigue. But the eyeshadow has some serious staying power. The bottom picture is from today, after chemo. I looked better earlier. My social worker even said that I looked fabulous. And one of the staff said I looked like I had lost weight. Chemo probably isn’t the best way to lose weight, but for someone who can afford to shed some pounds, it made me feel pretty good. Wow … easily distracted AGAIN!

Back to these shadows. The palettes are socialEYES, glamourEYES, and formalEYES. I’ve used the first two. glamourEyes is my favorite at the moment. I’ve never been one to use intense colors, but here’s the thing. What better time is there to try something bold than when you have cancer? It’s not like someone is going to tell me that my eye makeup is hideous. I have cancer … people are going to tell me I look great, even if I look like a troll!

So I have used a gorgeous deep pink, bold teal, and a deep green. It has been super fun to try some bolder shades, and mix multiple colors to create a more multidimensional look. Before attempting the bold colors, I did watch several YouTube tutorials and Pinterest guides. That helped tremendously. And like I said, I can look like a troll and no one will mention it 🙂

Some Technical Notes

Brushes: I use these eyeshadow brushes from Sephora. They work really well. If you decide to purchase, read the included guide so you know which brush to use for which part of the eye and which eyeshadow color should be used on what part of your eye (generally speaking).

Technique: Like I said, YouTube videos and Pinterest tutorials really work. It has helped me refine my look and improve the quality of application. It can be difficult to find the right guides and tutorials, so you can try searching by experience: novice, beginner, intermediate, etc. Look for applications for your eye shape. You can also search by the brand of the eyeshadow you want o apply. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to watch some intense applications, either — bright colors that you would NEVER try. Because it still shows the expertise of the person who created the video.

Tips: In my experience, most eyeshadows (powder) I use have some sort of fallout (shadow lands on your face outside where it’s supposed to be). While I have known this for a long time, I am just now beginning to apply my eyeshadow before the rest of my makeup. This means that you can use a makeup remover wipe to clear up fallout without ruining the rest of your hard work. This will make it more difficult for you to apply concealer if you have dark circles, but you can manage with practice. If you use powder foundation, wait to apply  mascara until after you apply your foundation. That way you won’t get powder on perfect eyelashes.

In Other Beauty News

Mom gave me a Clarisonic Plus brush. She thought hers was broken, but it isn’t, so she had an extra. Yay me! I’ve only used it once so far, so it’s too early for a review, but look for one soon.

Given my renewed passion for essential oils, I have been doing research on different uses. I came across this tutorial to clean my makeup brushes (which desperately need it). To be honest, I am loosely following it. I’m lazy. I don’t feel like going out to buy Castile soap, so I will be using Dawn. And I am letting the brushes sit in the oil and the Dawn, Lavender, water blend for a bit before I wash the brushes out. I will let you know in my next beauty post how it worked 🙂

xoxo

A Few of My Favorite Things

phase two-2

That’s right! Tomorrow we begin Phase Two of my Chemotherapy. Twelve weeks, once a week. If you’re curious, the cocktail I’ll be receiving is Taxol and Carboplatin. I’m a little nervous, since different drugs cause different reactions, but I’m super confident in my Oncology team, so I’m sure everything will go great.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a few of my newly favorite products.

  • Mangiacotti Whipped Body Lotion — In the interest of full disclosure, we sell this at our shop here in the South. I brought this product line home to try so I could speak with knowledge to my customers. The whole line is awesome (lip repair, hand repair, body soap), but am I smitten with this lotion. It is light, but absorbs into my skin so that it is hydrated all day long. There is no greasy residue, just softer, saturated skin. I’m even using it on my bald head.
  • Organic India Tulsi Sleep Tea — Shout out to my friend D who introduced this to me (and just replenished my supply). It is so tasty and relaxing. In fact, I just drank a mug of it and I can feel my eyes getting heavy. It’s been something that I have had a taste for even right after chemo treatments. Love this tea. BTW I linked back to the brand’s sight, but I’m sure you can pick up at health food stores.
  • Eucalyptus oil — This isn’t a new product for me, as I purchased it for making cleaning supplies, but I recently brought it back out at the beginning of Chemo. Chemo can increase mucus (sorry, I know its gross) and make you stuffy. Especially when you have to stop your nasal spray because it’s now causing nosebleeds. I suffered for days, until I remembered I had Eucalyptus oil. I put a few drops into my aromatherapy diffuser, and BAM! Stuffiness relieved.
  • Erin Condren Planner — OK, so I discovered this at the beginning of last year, but this year I have become even more reliant on it. Tons of appointments plus Chemo Brain (I am so forgetful) equals disaster. But not with my EC Planner. Everything gets put into it. It’s color-coded with stickers and pens. It is the awesomest thing ever. And do you know what I just discovered?! Etsy has a TON (like 250 pages) of stickers that designers make to go with it. I have some that I will show you in a post soon (I’m waiting for them to arrive). The Erin Condren Planner deserves a post of its own, that’s how amazing it is.

That’s all I can think of now. The tea is kicking in and I’m getting too mellow to think up anymore gems.

xoxo

 

Today’s Musings

 

Have I told you guys about my new obsession with Jamberry Nails? I don’t sell them or anything, but I love them. Because I can finally do my nails myself. To over simplify, they are basically wraps (or stickers) for your nails.

It took me a few tries to learn how to apply them properly, but now I think I’ve got it down. They are relatively easy to apply on your dominant hand, and they last up to two weeks. Here is my latest mani.

IMG_2349

They are busy and bright and just the way I like them. It helps to make me feel a little more feminine, and it helps protect them, since the Chemo makes them pretty weak. The great thing about Jamberry is you an put on all the wraps, or you can paint most of your nails and wear one as an accent, or you can mix and match. It’s all very fun!

On a totally different note, I finally got a picture of my special body pillow from my aunt and uncle, H&D. Are you ready to see its awesomeness?!

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Excuse the mess that is my room. Yes, that is a monkey. And yes, it is almost as big as me. It’s soft and cuddly, and I’m not quite sure how it’s going to fit in the bed with us, but I don’t care. It will be the softest and cutest body pillow ever.

That’s it, pretty much. It’s all I’ve got. I laid low yesterday because we had a special meeting last night at our Kingdom Hall. And today, I didn’t do much except try to get a breast MRI. I got to the hospital a half-hour early, but I had to drive around for almost 30 minutes to find a parking space. By the time I arrived, they could no longer fit me in. So I’m rescheduled for tomorrow.

Oh and our nephews spent the night because their dad had surgery today. For those who know him, all is well and everything went smoothly. He should be home tomorrow.

A somewhat boring post, but I hope a part of it made you smile 🙂 Goodnight!

xoxo

 

 

Beauty Post: Staying Power

My sister rocks. For many reasons — I will not list them all here — but I will share a few. Time for a list (in no particular order of awesomeness!

  • She loves me so much that in the last eight weeks, she has been here with me twice to go to my Chemo.
  • She also loves me so much that she will come right after my surgery to take care of me.
  • She buys me things from Ulta and brings them to me. This is especially awesome because our closest Ulta is like 30 minutes away, and I don’t like driving there.
  • She lets me eat whatever I want — and occasionally procures it for me — and doesn’t judge me.
  • Her husband is a kick-butt bartender. Technically that’s why he is awesome, but she picked him, so …
  • I keep a note that she wrote me like a year ago in my planner, because it is one of the sweetest things she’s ever written to me. I showed it to her today, and she cried. Finally someone who cries more than me!
  • Ok, I did save the best for last. She does this all while coping with Multiple Sclerosis. The poor thing gets sick practically every time she flies, but she is still willing to come see me. MS makes her tired, but she’s still coming to see me.
  • Wait! I thought of one more. She comes in the room with me before Chemo when I have to have my port accessed and blood drawn even though she really hates needles.

I could go on, but I will save it for some gigantic card or something that I will write her when all this is over. Plus, this is supposed to be a Beauty Post. I promise she’s related to it because the post is about the two presents she brought me this visit:

The first one is this is Stay Don’t Stray by Benefit. This is for eyes. Three dots on the eyelid and three underneath the eye. Today wasn’t my best eyeshadow day, but boy did it stay put.

My sister has good taste. This product works amazingly. Sis is a loyal Ulta customer, so I am also linking the product so you can buy it there. Look how amazingly my concealer has stayed on! And this is with allergy eyes that are watering constantly! (By the way, I forgot to share on the other post that my stuffiness and what I thought was a cold is far more likely allergies. My NP suggested some different OTC allergy meds).

I will try to post another pic when I have a better eyeshadow day (my eyes were swollen this morning). All shadows I used were from Bare Minerals (I’m not naming or linking them because they are older, and I don’t think they are carried anymore), which normally don’t have great pigmentation. With the base of the Stay Don’t Stray, the pigmentation was much better! And it stayed all day. This makes me more likely to purchase eyeshadow from Bare Minerals in the future. Note: I have only used single colors in pots, not any pressed eyeshadows.

The second product is called Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray. Sis also purchased it at Ulta. The picture was taken tonight (again). Keep in mind that I have blown my nose at least a dozen times today:

Wow. Just wow! Look at how well my makeup stayed on! Before applying the product, shake well. Then, while holding it 8-10 inches from your face spray once or twice in an X motion (close your eyes first) and once or twice in a T motion. It dries and sets quickly. Less makeup comes off (at least from what I see on a tissue), and I am able to go for 12 hours (probably more) with great-looking makeup.

I am fortunate to be able to try these two products, as they were gifted to me, but if you are a regular makeup wearer, I suggest considering. The Stay Don’t Stray helps lighter-pigmented shadows pop.I used yesterday with an e.l.f eyeshadow duo and the shadows went from barely there to gorgeous! So you could rationalize that the more expensive base allows you to experiment with less expensive shadows. Just saying’. Plus the way it holds my concealer on, even with allergy-eyes makes it very likely I will use again.

As a girl with allergy issues, I would also recommend the Urban Decay Setting Spray. So little is used with each application, and it keeps makeup on better than a makeup base. Nor more red nose by the end of the day! If you’re not sure, I’d weigh your needs against the cost. If you’re not a huge makeup wearer, duh, it’s not for you. But if you enjoy wearing makeup and find that blowing your nose, or wiping your mouth tends to remove bits of your makeup, this may be worth the investment.

That’s all for tonight, kids. Thanks for being willing to see picture after picture of a bald me and for reading.

XOXO

Beauty Post: Chemo Skin

As many of you know, chemo can wreak havoc on your skin (for details you can visit this article on chemocare.com). The biggest issue is dehydration. Chemo pretty much dries your entire body out (hence the recommended 96 ounces of water a day). Other issues can be Psoriasis/Eczema (since I have Psoriatic Arthritis and Eczema, I was particularly concerned about this).

Fortunately, I am doing pretty well with staying hydrated, and in my last two months’ Birchboxes, I received two amazing products that I ended up buying full-size. I was going to wait an entire month to review these, but I’m so happy with the results, I am going to share now.

First of all, here I am without any makeup on, ready for bed (clarification: in bed).

Photo on 12-22-15 at 9.10 PM

Honestly, not so bad. I have received compliments lately on my skin, and my excuse is that I wear a lot of makeup, but I think I need to give more credit to these two products:

As I mentioned before, I am not a paid reviewer, nor do I even think Birchbox knows I exist. But my skin looks like it does seven weeks into Chemo because of these two products. So I think I should give credit where credit is due.

The first product (which, ironically, I received second) is Avène Hydrance Optimale. Somehow they got a whole lot of spring water into this to create long-lasting hydration. It also enhances the effectiveness of any moisturizer used after it. I use this morning and night after washing my face.

The second product (that I received first) is the Embryolisse 24-Hour Miracle Cream. This product contains both shea butter and aloe vera. However, it does not clog my pores at all. Because I am receiving Chemo I use this morning and night as well. For those not undergoing Chemo, I’d probably start with only once a day. It absorbs into the skin quickly, and leaves my face feeling smooth, not sticky at all.

I have a terrible skincare routine, so all of this is pretty new to me. But I have been trying to cleanse my face every night. Thing is, I just use a generic brand (CVS) makeup remover wipe. That’s it. No other cleanser. Then I apply these two products. In the morning, if my face feels like it can handle a cleanser, I just use the Simple Moisturizing Cleanser. Sometimes, I just rinse with water. And then I apply both these items, usually just a minute or so before I apply makeup.

This is the reason I joined Birchbox. I wanted to be able to try products before I bought. I desperately wanted to improve my skincare routine, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on products, only to have them work poorly. If you are interested in doing something similar, I highly recommend one of these subscriptions. I chose Birchbox, but there are a number of companies that offer similar options.

If you click on the links, you will see that neither product is particularly inexpensive (although the Miracle Cream is available in a 30 ML size for less money and commitment). However, only a little of each product is needed, and, well … when you’re bald and people are paying particular attention to your face … it, in my opinion, is absolutely worth it.

Stay tuned for more Beauty posts. I should be receiving a new box soon, and I might be heading to Ulta soon!

xoxo