FREE TIME~

Free Time. We grow so addicted to not having any that we are at a loss as what to actually do when we find a bit. If you are a full-time working person, your time off is so limited that you likely have become possessive of it. You have to cram family care and events, errands and shopping, cleaning and lawn work, into such a few hours that youTN_girl-working-on-computer-classroom-education-clipart-2.jpg feel overwhelmed, stressed and constantly tired. Days off are oftentimes as filled with duty and responsibility as work days that it feels like you never really have a break. Now that I am free to live without the burden of a full-time job, I have the luxury to budget my time differently and I don’t miss the days when ‘free time’ was such a commodity that I would have given anything for it. How did I do it?

 
For starters, I took inventory. I had been in a professional position in an extremely hostile work environment for years. The fight to end the turmoil there became more overwhelming than my professional duties ever could have been. Free time was something I never had because I couldn’t let go of the worry, concentrate on my personal life and live in those few hours. I always had coworkers and underlings, and their well-being, on my mind. It was a very unhealthy situation. Eventually I would want to do nothing but sleep and it was then I realized I had to take back what I could of TN_girl-sleeping-in-her-bedroom2.jpgmy spare moments. I began by making a list of what I did and could do for myself. I already made physical self-care a must: from daily walks with my dog, riding and caring for my horse, and taking exemplary care of my skin and appearance. Despite going through a serious physical illness during those last few years of my work life, I looked pretty darn good!

 
I also took inventory of what I did for my mental health: outdoor activity is a must for me. Hiking in park, beach walks with Mr. LucyLoves, enjoying meals on our backyard deck. Then there was ‘girl time’ that allowed me to vent frustrations and progress to friends who knew my situation and who prayed for and looked in on me from time to time. There was little else I could do in terms of self-care. But I was still overwhelmed by the idea of housekeeping, grocery shopping and cooking, getting to appointments and TN_shopping-cart-full-of-grocery-clipart-5122.jpgpaying bills, and the multitude of others things that go into maintaining a home when my husband worked 12 or more hours a day. I never really had the opportunity to feel rested because the stress of my situation was always on my mind.

 
Once I knew I had done everything I could for myself, I had to decide how to make more ‘free’ time for me. Time that would allow me to sit and read a book or go on a date night without worrying about what still needed to be done. Time to enjoy my rural property, watching ducks on the pond or napping in a lounge chair while the birds sang. TTN_girl-jogging-in-city-park-vector-clipart-image.jpghis required a schedule much like one I kept for work. I would have to make appointments for free time and force the ugliness of my work environment out of my thoughts or I was never going to ‘get a life’.

 
It sounds strange but I realized that in order to have more time for fun, I might have to cut back on things I enjoyed. Barn time was a seven day a week treat for me. Going to the TN_family-enjoying-sitting-in-swimming-pool-together.jpgbarn after work every evening to spend time with my horse was critical to my well-being. But I realized that if I took one night off every week, I could get my house cleaned in that time and free up Saturday mornings. And my horse wouldn’t miss me because there was so much activity in the barn every day with the other owners and riders that I needn’t worry about him. And what a relief those few hours of freedom on the weekend brought to me. I also took grocery shopping out of my weekend routine by going out with hubby for a late Friday night meal followed by an even later trip to the market. Bonus: we had the store practically to ourselves! OK, maybe it doesn’t sound like the most romantic date in the world, but it worked for us. We ended it by putting the groceries away together when we got home followed by a nightcap. We turned what used to be a chore for me into something I could look forward to. And in the process, I now had all of Saturday for fun! I was tired on those evenings that I did those woman doing alpine skiing winter olympics cliparttasks but no more so than I would be from stress after a work day. And it actually helped keep my mind busy those couple evenings a week on something other than the situation at my office.

 
There are numerous ways to alter your schedule even if it takes some thought and help to do it. You might need to enlist the aid of a partner or friend, and you might even have to say ‘no’ from time to time. So many Americans have gotten so used to over-scheduling their families that they forget their lack of free time is, in great part, their own doing. If your child is in an activity every night of the week, you’re probably doing too mTN_ballerina-ballet-pose-2a.jpguch, which is another issue you can control. Children need to learn that we can’t do it all just as we adults have learned it, oftentimes the hard way. Maybe one dance class and one sport’s practice a week is enough. Or, maybe there is a dance class you can take while your children are enjoying theirs. One couple I know rotates their attendance at children’s activities, with mom taking one week and dad the next. The parent who stays home prepares the evening meal, packs lunches for the next day and sets out school clothes. And they swear they are all the better for it. It is possible to save more time if you take a hard look at how you spend it. Don’t forget to include the time you ‘waste’ with your electronic devices which are real time sappers.

 
Man Walking Dog ClipartOnce you’ve carved out time for yourself, you might actually be at a loss as for what to do. We become so used to always being active that sitting idle makes us feel we are missing something. I remember asking myself the same thing. I had to remind myself of some of the quiet things I enjoyed, on my own and with hubby, and then I was able to randomly select a pleasure, be it working a crossword puzzle or searching through recipe books that had been long neglected. Once I got used to having a day just for play, I started making more adventurous plans such as outings at museums and concerts and local festivals. It just took me awhile to get used to having time to truly savor life. Once I was able to do that, I was also able to be less critical of myself for letting some things go. Maybe I didn’t get all the house chores done on cleaning night and TN_young-girl-holding-basket-of-vegetables-from-garden-clipart.jpgmaybe the bathroom really did need a thorough deep cleaning but I no longer focused on those things. I was able to let it go until scheduled cleaning time came around again. Because no one really cares if there’s a spot on the shower curtain.

 
If you are having difficulty finding time to truly live your life, to focus on working to live and not the other way around, maybe you need to schedule your own free time. You may have to take baby steps, such as contemplating what seems like an impossible dream on your lunch break or waking up an hour early one morning to draft a new time schedule. Once you get started, you’ll soon get excited about the possibilities and before you know it, you’ll have a bit more freedom you crave. Freedom to enjoy the gifts your work and family bring as opposed to the efforts they take.

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As always, live a beautiful life!

 

*Images courtesy Classroom ClipArt. 

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Building a Lifestyle Change Wardrobe~

When I worked as a professional woman, I easily indulged my passion for fashion on a daily basis. Career wear was my number one, and most favorite, fashion investment. I had two closets teeming with dresses, suits, shoes and bags of the finest quality I could afford. I thrived on changing up jewelry and scarves, and mixing and matching, and my style spoke to my career almost as much as my actual work did. I loved career fashion as much as business administration. I was in my element.

 
Then came ‘The Change’. After a long and devastating illness, and years in an environment riddled with harassment, Mr. LucyLoves and I made the decision that I would walk away. I would have to put myself first if I was going to live life to the fullest. That meant not only the loss of identity associated with years of a stellar career serving sweaters yes.jpgothers, but also the loss of my fashion identity. I didn’t realize at the time that I’d be losing more of myself than expected on my journey to a better life. Obviously the first and most important obstacles were to heal and recover, in body, mind and spirit. Then I had to figure out a new budget and how to live with a lot less money while conserving my resources. Fashion was the least of my worries. Or so I thought.

 
It is my earnest belief that a true fashionista is born, not made. Yes, you can develop your own personal style and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wish more people today would do it. But to truly be in love with types and plies of fabric, with the drape of various cuts, with the flow that different patterns give to the figure is an art form that we are born with. Like the painter or potter who finds love in texture and shape, the fashionista is a born artist. And losing the ability to engage in making our art on a daily basis leaves us at a loss. What to do?

 
simple dresses.jpgI was not used to this ‘casual’ life that I now lead. I didn’t know how to be happy in jeans and a tee shirt, roaming around the house and barn. I missed deciding which shoes to wear on any given day. My blood supply was being strangled and I didn’t know where to go for a transfusion.

 
After a long year of health recovery, I finally decided to face the studio that were my closets. I opened the doors to the A-lines and silks that had been hanging on racks without a wear for months. And I started to purge. I went through every piece, enjoyed the colors, the textures and the memories. And then I started the piles. I organized by type of clothing and by size, and set aside specific piles for special people, whom I knew would at least appreciate them. When I got to my shoe racks, I hesitated and I left several more pairs behind than I should have, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere. Once I had finished, I put out a call to family, friends and associates looking for women in my size range who might be in need or want of professional attire. And then I said ‘goodbye’. Those few things I couldn’t rehome on my own went to a local charity where I’m sure they eventually found a new body. I closed the doors on two closets and had maintained what I would wear for months to come in less than one. It left me with mixed emotions but I let the joy overcome the loss, knowing that there was new life for my old art. I just had to find it.

 
lux layers yes.jpgAfter nearly three years of figuring out what a casual lifestyle would mean for me, I am finally enjoying shopping and wearing clothing again. Not the clothing I spent a career indulging in, but in new clothing that suits me, in the here and now. It was hard at first to find joy, let alone elation, in putting together a style that included more jeans and button downs than skirts and gabardine jackets. I was like an oil painter finding herself in watercolor class. The form was still beautiful but I had to figure out the medium.

 
The first challenge was getting used to casual styles for the activities that I now engage in. For the most part, I still spend most of my days at home, unless I’m temping or volunteering for someone. My ‘dress up’ activities usually include museum or concert events with hubby, or lunch dates with friends and the occasional girl’s weekend. I want to look polished, include the things I love in my appearance, like favorite pieces of jewelry, but still blend in with the vibe of the event. Getting used to dressing in a ‘casual’ fashion as a new art form was indeed a new medium for me.

 

Once I found clothing ideas I liked, the next challenge was finding new stores and departments to shop in. Some of the old standby’s still offered options, like J Crew and Nordstrom’s of course. Madewell still puts up the occasional silk blouse and lovely soft sweaters that work as well with jeans as with dress pants and heels. I can still indulge in boots but now prefer low heals over high and my favorite riding boot company makes just the perfect pair.

 
After I found locations to shop, I started going more regularly again and just looking at what they had to offer without necessarily buying anything. I started putting together pictures in my mind of how certain items I already had would mesh with new things that simple resort.jpgI was beginning to like. Staples remain the same, such as layering tees and socks but I now find myself naturally gravitating to more prints and less structured knits than when I was suiting up for professional career demands.

 
At last, after nearly three years sans work life, I am enjoying shopping, and dressing, once again. In fact, I now have a hard time walking away from something I like, which I frequently have to do because I just don’t need that many items of clothing anymore. I can’t possibly wear all of the things I have bought this past year on a regular basis to get my money’s worth and I don’t want to spend too much on clothing that will end up spending most of its life on a hanger. Scaling back on the number of items I purchase is my current bane. If I like it, I like it. What can I say? But quality over quantity is still my motto and buying something only to leave it to hang in a closet is of no use to me. Or to my checkbook.

 
Finally, I am enjoying indulging in fashion again. I look forward to my lunch dates and my museum trips, my holiday events and weekends away. And yes, vacations! Traveling is one of the best parts of this retirement life. And with the new stash in my closet, I can pack for any get-away and love every minute of it. tops yes.jpg

 
Whatever you wear, wherever you go, live a beautiful life.

Younique~Moodstruck Lip Exfoliator

I am new to this brand, thanks to one of my friends in Germany, who is a sales agent for the Younique brand. As a cruelty-free cosmetic guru, I was more than happy to learn Younique is not tested on animals and is environmentally friendly. So, when I saw the opportunity to try this lip exfoliator and moisturizer duo, I jumped at the chance. As someone who suffers from chronic dry lips, I’m always on the hunt for gentle exfoliation and moisturizing options that keep my lips both smooth and comfortable. This Younique Moodstruck Lip Exfoliator is the absolute best I have tried.

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This gentle exfoliator leaves lips smooth without drying them out. If you are in a rush, or if you are immediately applying lip color afterward, a second moisturizing agent isn’t necessary. Moodstruck leaves behind a dewy comfort that leaves lips ready for a slick of balm or even the most drying of matte lip colors. My lip color lasted for several hours and my lips didn’t feel dry or tight with extended wear, thanks to my Moodstruck.

If you are interested in trying Younique for yourself, you can find them through a local Younique agent or online at http://www.youniqueproducts.com. You won’t be disappointed in the quality or the price.
As always, live a beautiful life.

*www.youniqueproducts.com/AnjaWalpuski/account/index offers great deals and savings on Younique products throughout the year.

WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE…BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~ Part III

PREVENTION TREATMENT AND MOVING ON WITH LIFE~Part III

A couple of weeks after my post-surgery follow up, I met my new oncologist. At my appointment, I underwent a breast exam and a full review of my biopsies and my health history. From there, the oncologist reviewed with me the averages of breast cancer occurrence in the general population and the likelihood that I would have breast cancer within five years and within twenty years. His calculations, based on my health, my family history and the types of cells found in my biopsies, indicate I am more than twice as likely as other women to develop breast cancer in the next five to twenty years.

IMG_20170727_174652.jpgBut the news need not be so troubling today. The oncologist informed me of various medications that are being used to reduce the development of breast cancer in women who have experienced a pre-cancer or early cancer situation. And I am a candidate for just such treatment. Furthermore, my information will be used as part of a study to rate how effective these medications are for women in the future.

My doctor selected Raloxifene treatment for me. Raloxifene is used for menopausal women who may also be at risk for osteoporosis or other brittle bone issues. The drug comes in pill form and is taken once a day. Yes, there are numerous side effects, many of which sound a lot like pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms, such as headaches, blurred vision, hot flashes and difficulty sleeping, among dozens of others. After a week of treatment, I have had no indication of any side effects so I am grateful for my apparent tolerance of the drug. Treatment with Raloxifene is for five years and requires six-month visits with the oncologist. At these visits, I will have a breast exam and review my six-month mammograms and undergo a complete check-up that includes a review of where I stand in terms of any reduction in my likelihood of developing breast cancer.

In addition to my Raloxifene treatment, I am continuing with my pescatarian diet and IMG_20170802_195735.jpgdaily exercise routine. Surprisingly, while my surgeon is adamant I remain living a pescatarian/vegetarian lifestyle as part of my fight against breast cancer, my oncologist doubts the studies relating diet to breast cancer occurrence in the general population. That does not mean he gave me the green light to eat and drink anything I want however. He does advocate both diet an exercise as a means of significantly reducing the risk of heart attack and other heart disease and stroke, as well as other types of cancers. So, I’m not off the hook! Furthermore, I was notified that I should never again use any form of hormone therapy including over-the-counter menopausal supplements that contain natural hormone producing ingredients. This also means strictly limiting my soy product intake, as soy is after all, a form of estrogen. And I shouldn’t have to bring up the issue of smoking or over-indulging in alcohol: just don’t do it.

The post-surgery oncology preventative treatment is by far the easiest part of this journey. Yes, it means taking a medication daily for the next five years and undergoing twice yearly tests and reviews with my oncologist. But if oncology prevention can reduce my risk of breast cancer by as much as half, putting me back into the range of the average woman in society, then I’ll gladly do it. And if my information somehow helps with breast cancer treatment for other women in the future, that is just another blessing for my community.

IMG_20170801_142346.jpgOne in eight women in the general population will get breast cancer. These aren’t the best odds for any of us, and for those of us with higher risk factors, our chances can seem overwhelmingly dire. But we can all do things to reduce our risk and increase our chances of survival if we find ourselves to be one of the unlucky gals diagnosed. Knowing how to do self-breast exams at home should be second nature, and an annual breast health exam and mammogram are a must for every woman over the age of 40 and for those in high risk categories. Don’t put off your own breast health. I am one of the lucky few who was found to have an issue BEFORE it turned to full blown cancer requiring more than post-surgery, preventative oncology. Do yourself and your family a favor: have ALL your medical preventative check-ups and tests, on time, on the schedule your doctors map out for you.

Live a long, healthy and beautiful life!

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WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE…BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~Part II

THE BREAST SURGERY~Part II

I was checked into the hospital for breast surgery at 7:30 AM, less than a week and a half after my core needle biopsy. The surgery again started with a trip to the mammography department, following my surgery preparation. My usual mammography technician was assisted by a second radiology tech, both of whom set me up for the radiologist. Once IIMG_20170718_163146.jpg was properly positioned in the mammography machine, the radiologist again took a few pictures and numbed my breast prior inserting a wire, via a large needle, into my breast tissue. The purpose of this wire is to meet up with the marker that was placed during the biopsy, and to give the surgeon the exact location of the cells to be removed. Once this wire was in place, I was taken to surgery.

I woke about an hour and a half later, ready to have a snack and go home. When I was being dressed post-surgery, I found I was wearing a sport type bra, well-padded with gauze, over and around my incision. I was told to wear it for the remainder of the day and then I could remove it at bedtime. I was also sent home with a prescription for pain relief medication and informed that ice packing was again appropriate as I felt necessary. The ordeal itself was over.

IMG_20170802_180440.jpgA few days later, my surgeon again called me at home to inform me the post-surgery biopsy report showed the same abnormal cells as the biopsy, but no full-blown cancer. Over the next few weeks, I was sore and tender, swollen and bruised. Sleeping was a bit problematic as finding a comfortable position wasn’t always easy. I was protective of my breast and didn’t want to be too close to anyone who could possibly bump into me. But overall, the experience wasn’t as bad as some might expect. I kept my physical activity limited and got as much rest as I could for the next few weeks.

At the three-week mark, I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon. At this appointment, he reviewed with me the likelihood that I would experience a recurrence and possible breast cancer. The verdict? There is a 20% chance that I will have breast cancer within five to twenty years. The good news? That chance can be reduced by up to half using preventative treatment, combined with good lifestyle habits. I already pass the diet and exercise test with flying colors so the only other task at hand was to give up my menopause related hormone therapy, which I had done the week of my surgery. Welcome back hot flashes, night sweats and hormone related acne! IMG_20170727_160208.jpgFurthermore, my surgeon ordered a six-month follow-up mammogram and appointment with him at the end of the year, and every six months thereafter, until he deems they are no longer needed. Those appointments were also already scheduled for me.

My surgeon then referred and scheduled me with an oncologist at a premier cancer center with a satellite office at the same hospital where I had my surgery—just twenty minutes from my home. Another blessing in my eyes as I need not travel out of town for my medical appointments. The last thing anyone wants to do when they are dealing with a medical issue is to deal with traffic jams, hazardous weather driving conditions and long waits in packed waiting rooms. I have the benefit of top notch care in a small-town environment, and that is stress alleviating indeed.

If you have yet to see your doctor for a breast health check-up, be sure to pick up the phone and schedule your appointment on Monday morning. It just may be the appointment that saves your life.

Live a beautiful life!

 

WHEN MAMMOGRAMS SPOT TROUBLE–BIOPSIES, SURGERY AND POST-OP TREATMENT~

THE MAMMOGRAM~Part1

I’ve been busy the last couple of months. Not just lunching with friends, vacationing with hubby, walking the dog and grooming the horse. But with serious, self-loving behavior. And it all started with my annual mammogram.

I had my mammogram a couple months late this year because I was dealing with

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another medical issue and had to tackle one thing at a time. As soon as I resolved the original problem, I scheduled my mammogram and thought nothing of it. I also thought nothing of it when I got a call from my GYN a couple days later to return for a few more pictures. I’ve had call backs before and nothing came of them. Sometimes us gals with denser breast tissue don’t always take the best snaps the first time around. I scheduled my call back and had mammogram number two within a week’s time.

At the conclusion of mammogram number two, my tech asked me to wait while she sent my additional pictures straight to the radiologist so he could determine if any additional pictures were needed. Again, just routine. But what wasn’t routine was the radiologist coming down to meet me in the mammography center to speak to me in person. It turned out I had a spot on my mammogram indicating ‘calcifications’ that are often linked to breast cancer. OK then. The radiologist recommended I seek a biopsy to determine if there was any need for further investigation. He was very kind, explained everything clearly and then informed me he would telephone my GYN as soon as he returned to his office to make the arrangement. Again, I was not in any way concerned or upset by the news. It was just another hoop for me to jump through.

I no sooner arrived home and settled into my tasks for the day when my phone rang. It

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was my GYN. Her first words to me were, “How are you feeling about this”? I told her that honestly, I felt very positive and wasn’t worried because I didn’t feel there would be anything wrong. I think she was more relieved to hear that I was less upset about a possible breast cancer diagnosis than she was. She inquired as to whether I had told my husband yet and how he was handling the news. I was so grateful to have a doctor who expressed such kindness and concern that I knew no matter what happened to me, I would be OK. After all, I am surrounded by great doctors in one of the premier training hospitals in the nation. My GYN offered to refer me to a surgeon and I chose the one I had used for past surgeries and felt very confident with. I called and scheduled my consultation that day.

A week later, my husband I walked into the surgeon’s office to learn about what would happen during my biopsy and what the possible outcomes might be. The verdict? Three possibilities: nothing at all; abnormal cells that are not yet cancer but indicative of a future cancer; or, breast cancer. After going through the specifics of the biopsy process, I left well prepared for a core needle biopsy, scheduled for the following Friday.

I had been warned by my doctors that this procedure might not be the most pleasant experience in the world but I have been through far worse. As far as the core needle biopsy went, I was seated in a convertible chair and wheeled up to the mammography machine where you are placed according to how the radiologist needs you in order to

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perform the biopsy procedure. Once properly placed in the mammography machine, the technicians took photographs to ensure proper placement for the biopsy. The radiologist then numbed my breast while the technicians kept me occupied and helped me to remain still. Just like in a routine mammogram, I was asked to hold my breath and breath out on several occasions so the radiologist could properly insert the larger needle for retrieving sample tissue. Also during this time, a ‘marker’ was placed in my breast tissue where the biopsied tissue was removed. This is done so my radiologist and surgeon would know exactly where the offending cells were found, should surgery be required. This is also where the doctor’s advice came true: it is NOT the most pleasant of experiences. Although I was numb, I could feel the large, tube like needle being inserted deep into my breast tissue, which was a bit uncomfortable. But I got through it and once the biopsy was done, I was allowed a few minutes to catch my breath as I started to become a bit light-headed. I did eat a light breakfast prior to the procedure but perhaps could have stood a bit more on my stomach. Nonetheless, the entire procedure took about one-half hour to complete. After the biopsy, a few more pictures were taken so the radiologist could ensure she had taken all the samples she wanted. I was sent home with an ice pack and instructions to take Tylenol only and/or use ice to ease any pain. I was prepared for serious bruising and swelling and while I was sore for a few days, the after-effects were minimal. On the following Monday evening, my surgeon called to tell my me initial biopsy results were in and while the news wasn’t the best, it wasn’t the worst either: abnormal cells that would require surgery to remove.

One week later, I was checking into the hospital for outpatient surgery and the next phase of the process would begin.

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If you haven’t had your annual mammogram, now is the time to make that appointment. It is easy to do and painless, especially in comparison to the alternative treatment for a long ignored, breast health issue.

Stay healthy and live a beautiful life.

KLORANE MANGO BUTTER CONDITIONER~

Last year I received a generous travel size Klorane Mango Butter Shampoo and I fell in love. I took it with me on a three-week trip to Europe and was actually sad when I emptied the last drop out of the bottle. I had been putting off purchasing the full-sized version because I had a couple of other shampoos and conditioners in my cabinet and I am on a mission to finish using up product I already have before buying more. Alas, on a recent trip to Ulta I came upon a Klorane display of both the Mango Butter Shampoo and Conditioner and I put one of each in my bag. And am I ever in love.

klorane.jpgThe shampoo was wonderfully nourishing and the conditioner is as hydrating, if not more so. My curls crave moisture and this Klorane conditioner is one of the best I have ever used. It’s hard for me to imagine using any other shampoo and conditioner from here on out, despite the price tag–$20.00 per bottle. But I can help offset the cost by racking up more Ulta perks points for future purchases and by remembering my 3.50 coupon that comes in every Ulta sale flyer or via my Ulta app.

In addition to the rich, intense moisture of this conditioner, the scent is heavenly. The fresh mango is as invigorating as my favorite citrus scents and really perks up my morning routine. If your hair needs a good moisture infusion, give this Klorane conditioner a try. You will likely fall in love as quickly as I did.

Live a beautiful life.

 

 

 

BODY BENEFITS SOAP POUCH~

Mr. LucyLoves and I love bar soaps but they can be slippery in the shower and always pose a bit of difficulty when you get down to the last little bitty piece. But with these little bar soap net pouches, that’s no longer a problem.

I found these Body Benefits Net Soap Pouches at my local Big Lot’s while browsing one pouch 2.jpgday and have since seen them in other locations. What a novel idea. These little pouches are made of the same mesh netting as the scrunchy bath puffs so many of us use which are perfect for manual exfoliation. You simply pop in a bar of soap, close the pouch using the pull string and secure it with the locking mechanism on the handle. You can then hang your bar of soap from your shower caddy or any hook for your convenience. You use your soap pouch just as you would your scrunchy bath puff but without having to dispense the body wash onto it beforehand. You aren’t dropping your slippery wet bar in the shower or  wasting the wee stub that is left when you get to pouch 5.jpgthe end of the bar as it just remains in your pouch until it’s completely used in full. When you’re out of soap, just toss in another bar. You can expect your bar soap pouch to last as long as a scrunchy bath puff, which for me, is about four months. I think I paid $2.00 a piece for ours so it’s an economical way to use your favorite bar soaps and avoid frustration and waste.

No matter what your favorite ‘bar’ of choice, you’ll enjoy it more with a soap pouch. As always, live a beautiful life.

WINTER RECYCLING~

Time to toss the containers from the items I have finished enjoying this past winter and here’s a peak at what is in my bin and what I would gladly repurchase or leave behind next time.

With regard to skincare, I am a masking nut. I love to mask and I take advantage of a variety of types of masks, from hydrating to deep cleansing. Here is a sample of the masks I have used up and some of them I have used in multiples.

The Yes To… masks are a bargain, no matter which version you purchase, as you can usually get two uses out of a single use pack.

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The Alba mask was new to me and pleasant enough although I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase that one again. It was the consistency of jelly and I didn’t particularly care for the residue it seemed to leave behind.

I really enjoy the AHAVA masks just as much as the Yes To…varieties. They are a bit pricier as a single use pack really is a one-time mask but the product is worth the price tag.

The Andelou Glycolic Mask is my all time favorite face mask these days and I just opened my second jar. I didn’t see it on the shelf in Ulta the last time I was there and in fact, didn’t spot any Andelou products on that visit so I hope they aren’t eliminating the line from their shelves. I love the cool, tingly sensation and the brightening exfoliation that I get from this mask at far less than its high-end counterpart.

The Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Eye Gel Masks are my favorite eye masks and I hate to be without them. I’ve gone through several of the four packs over the last couple of months and have a few more in my stash for the next few weeks.

Along skincare masks, I finished up a Pixi Glow Tonic travel pack. I purchased this in a pinch as Target was out of the bottles and I had exhausted my supply at home. To be honest, I don’t care for the pre-moistened pads and much prefer to buy the bottles and use my own exfoliating cotton rounds.

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I also managed to finally use up the last of my non-cruelty free Neutrogena Eye Make Up Remover so I will now be on the hunt for a cruelty-free brand. Recommendations are much appreciated.

Finally I squeezed the last bit of retinol out of both these StriVectin retinol serum and eye cream tubes that were in my travel container. I used them up at home knowing there wasn’t enough left in either to get me through another vacation. They are nice products and definitely worth the money if you are looking to indulge in a new retinol routine.

I had this Pur Rescue Squad DD cream in my stash for awhile and I do enjoy its moisture benefits in the winter months. I made a major mess of the tube cutting it open to scrape the last bits out of the bottom but I still had the box from one I had shipped to a friend in Puerto Rico recently.

I also emptied out a few body care items over the past couple of weeks including a body wash and cream from Bath & Body Works Christmas Holiday line. You can’t go wrong with B&BW products when you take advantage of sales and coupon specials and you’re sure to find a fragrance to suit everyone.

I have been enjoying hand soaps from Method at both my kitchen and bathroom sinks after having purchased several bottles on sale. I like this moisturizing version for the dry winter months although I think the Pear fragrance is my favorite.

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Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo is a winner for my natural curly hair and another great product at a very affordable price.

Bar soaps are a luxury for Mr. LucyLoves year ‘round and, for me, during the summer months when my skin is a little less dry. But we both enjoyed this Sandalwood and Patchouli bar for it’s warm, masculine scent.

Lastly, this Sweet Spot personal hygiene wash has been a godsend since menopause has started taking more of a toll. Yes, ladies, we even get dry, itchy, irritated skin ‘down there’ and this wash is perfect for gentle cleansing without the irritation of stronger body washes and soaps.

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I didn’t exhaust anything on the makeup front but did purchase new sponges for both makeup and under eye concealer application. I don’t use my sponges that often and with frequent cleaning they last a long time but it was time to retire the old ones.

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I finished another tin of Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. This has been a favorite of mine for years but now that the cruelty-free status of Burt’s Bees is up in the air, I am not repurchasing until I have a definite answer on where they stand with animal testing and sales in China. If anyone out there has a cruelty-free alternative to recommend, I’d love to know.

As always, love what you use, use it to the fullest, and live a beautiful life.

MURAD ENVIRONMENTAL SHIELD FOR DAILY SUN PROTECTION~

I started using Murad Retinol products this past winter and then when I needed some extra special care for a severe acne break-out, I returned to the line and with great success. It’s no surprise that on my recent trip to Ulta, and after checking out several brands, I decided to give this Murad Environmental Shield City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 a go. That’s a mouthful, I know. And again, I’m not disappointed.

Loaded with Vitamin C, this skin brightening SPF lotion is intended to protect against spf 3.jpgUVA, UVB, pollution, blue light and infrared radiation. The subtle, light tint evens skin tone while shielding skin from nearly everything that could cause premature aging. And as I have been using a vitamin C serum every morning for several months, combining vitamin C with my daily dose of SPF is a win-win. The tint if ever so slight so it’s perfectly suitable for make-up free days. The fast absorbing, non-greasy formula is perfect under makeup as well. And with spring right around the corner and sun-filled days ahead, SPF is critically important.

Yes, Murad products are on the pricey side but no more so than any other prestige brand. And the science behind these products has led to a loyal following. No wonder I am finding myself gravitating to this brand more and more for a variety of skincare needs.

Best of all, Murad is a cruelty-free company and readily available at Ulta, Sephora and online. Good skin is worth the investment so if you have the resources, consider giving Murad a try.

Live a beautiful life.