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.

MURAD RETINOL SERUMS~

Retinol is a staple in my skincare routine and I enjoy trying different brands and formulations when I am in need of replacement product. I found myself in need of serum in the late fall and roamed Sephora in search of an alternative to the Strivectin I had been using. I happened upon a Murad consultant in store that day and she led me to the Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewel Serum. A few dollars less than the retinol 2.jpgStrivectin retinol serum I was about to finish up, this Murad version has a similar silky texture and no fragrance. It absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling like sateen. I can, and do, immediately apply moisturizer or argan oil over the top without any difficulty.

 
When I made my purchase, I was given a 14-day sample of the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum which I loved. It smoothed on without tugging and didn’t irritate my eyes, including my eye lids. Yes, I apply my retinol eye products to my lids as well as undereye area, albeit carefully, and I’m pleased with the results. I will gladly purchase the full-size version after I have exhausted the Strivectin retinol eye serum I still have.

 
retinol eye.jpgBoth Murad and Strivectin make a good line of retinol products and I would gladly use either. But if I can save a couple of bucks on the Murad then I might as well purchase it when it’s readily available. The Stivectin skincare range can be found at Ulta stores while Murad is available at both Ulta and Sephora. Both products are also available through online retailers.

 
If retinol is a must in your own skincare routine, consider giving this Murad line a try.

 
As always, live a beautiful life.

PRETTY PAPER PRESENTS~

Perhaps it’s because I love to write, but I love pretty paper products almost as much as I love relishing in my skincare routine. There is something about a beautiful notebook, a pretty card, a decorative diary and putting a svelte pen to the page that makes me smile. Homemade and personalized paper products are especially enticing to me and here are a few lovelies I received as gifts this holiday season, which you could easily make for yourself or others with a passion for pulp.

Afraid you or someone else will forget? Write yourself a note on a sticky pad supported post itby a lovely not pad holder. This pint-sized post it holder was made from a thick piece of cardboard, covered in a piece of old map and attached with a glitter covered clip. The cute mini-pen will ensure you’re always ready to make note of a special occasion or grocery store reminder.

Always trying to keep track of computer passwords, birthdates or mailing addresses? A pocket notebook covered in sturdy decorative paper, divided with stick-on add bookdividers and garnished with a sparkly ink pen will ensure you never locked out of your favorite website or in doubt of where to mail Aunt Mary’s birthday card. Yes, it’s easy to store this information on your phone or laptop but it’s so much more fun to have it at hand in a pretty trinket book on your desk.

For those of you who enjoy journaling as much as I do, there is no need to spend a small fortune on pre-made diaries when you purchase plain notebooks and easily cover them with your favorite designs, invoking pleasurable memories and passions. A notebook that is a joy to look at will even inspire that procrastinating student to reconsider homework time.

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Most of all, you never want to miss an all-important date, be it for your annual medical exam or your niece’s baby shower. While calendar journals seem to be all the rage, designer and customizable models fetching more money than you might spend on a cashmere sweater, you can make your own date reminder book with a bit of imagination, some crafting supplies and a glue stick. My sister made this one for me last year that includes a reusable cover and I’ve already slid my 2018 office supply store replacement calendar

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between the cover pages for tracking the new year.

The next time you’re in need of a gift for your paper loving family member of friend, consider a bit of creativity and savings by making your own lovely and useful desktop staples.

Live a beautiful life.

WINTER READS~

Now that warm, outdoor activity weather is behind us, I’ve been continuing to read the latest books for two series as well as a few new finds over the last several weeks. As always, I’m enamored with mysteries and these did not disappoint.

GUILT IN THE COTSWOLDS by Rebecca Tope

RT book 2 coverThe latest in the Thea Osborne series, Thea is now engaged to undertaker Drew, a character from Ms. Tope’s Drew Slocombe Series. Thea once again finds herself thrown into the depths of a suspicious murder billed as a suicide and is left to find the truth of the matter on her own accord. With a little help from Drew, she pieces together the truth and but not without rubbing a few folks the wrong way. Thea’s strong character has continued to develop throughout this series and I enjoy the plot twists in these albeit silly cozies. The latest in the series, Peril in the Cotswolds was released in September and I’m looking forward to my library securing a copy.

RT book 3 cover.jpgTHE TROUTBECK TESTIMONY by Rebecca Tope

The fourth book in the Lake District Mystery Series finds florist Persimmon Brown struggling to keep up with the orders for funeral flowers for a local popular resident and ends with her solving another murder. Dog lovers will delight in this episode as ‘Simmy’ must break up a dog napping ring in order to track down the murderer stalking the village. While all of Ms. Tope’s books are rich in historical knowledge and colorful scenery, I find the Lake District Series to be the most vividly descriptive. A great bedtime read for mystery fans.

DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW by Maureen JenningsMJ book cover.jpg

Fans of the Murdock Mystery Series, now a popular long-running TV show, will love Jennings’ other books set in both World War II Germany and present-day Canada. I started with DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW, which follows former police detective and now criminal profiler Christine Morris, on a journey from Canada to Scotland where she solves more than just one mystery. Called upon when her mother disappears from the scene of a murder, Christine is also pulled into a family mystery that will leave her reeling. Jennings characters are rich and descriptive and you are quickly pulled into the events of their lives. I’ve already reserved the next in the Christine Morris series and look forward to starting it soon.

THE CROSSING PLACES by Elly Griffiths

I discovered this mystery series through a google search and quickly found my library was in possession of the entire lot via e-book. It took me no time to breeze through the first thr51eh9UCxTUL._AC_US327_QL65_ee installments and I’m chomping at the bit for more—nine thus far. From the get-go, Gritthith’s builds interesting, well-rounded characters who draw you in to her stories and give you the impression that you could really get to know and like these people. Her mysteries are compelling and realistic, starting with the very first murder mystery set in a seaside town near Norfolk, England. Ruth Galloway is delightfully modern woman—a ‘bone’ expert, facing the same perils and challenges of all single professional women her age in curent times. And she finds herself in the same boat as many a gal when the sometimes cantankerous, never-the-less charming, DCI Harry Nelson enters her life. This duo teams up to solve some not only new, but sometimes age-old murders, with an archeological twist. Entertaining and educating, I’m anxious to spend more time with Ruth and her vast array of friends.

I hope you enjoy some of your winter hours cozied up in front of the fire, cocoa in hand, reading some much loved literature, be it from a mystery collection or another genre. Books can make the best of friends for us all.

Live beautifully.

 

 

SAMPLE SIZING IT~tarteist lash paint mascara

DING! DING! DING!  I HAVE A WINNER!  AND JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAY FUN!

I don’t remember how I came upon this sample tube of Tarteist Lash Paint mascara but it’s been in my sample box awaiting its turn. While mascara’s seldom thrill me, I LOVE this one. I see myself buying the full-size version in the very near future.

For starters, I love the applicator with this mascara. The densely packed, stiff bristles grab every eyelash, including some I didn’t know I had. The formula is not only lengthening, but volumizing as well, and with only one coat. For a more dramatic look, a second coat will have you looking like you applied false lashes with perfection.

While I have enjoyed Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara as well as Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes, I think I’ve found a ‘favorite’. And that’s saying a lot where mascaras and I are concerned.

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Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara is cruelty-free of course, and retails for $23.00 for a .24 oz tube. You can also purchase the .15 oz travel tube for $12.00 which is a bargain for going on the road or for those who don’t wear mascara enough to go through a full tube before it dries out. Worth every penny, no matter what size you use.

Live a beautiful, cruelty-free life!

BLUE APRON MEALS~

Mr. LucyLoves and I both enjoy cooking and we love to try new things. That said, we also enjoy a heart-healthy, low-fat diet containing a few lean meats per week and lots of fruits and vegetables daily. Of course, eating an organic, hormone and antibiotic free diet is not inexpensive and our grocery bill has only skyrocketed over the years. I would have never thought a home delivery meal service would help us to not only eat well, but save money.

BR insert 2.jpgBlue Apron is just one of several mail order food companies that provide a weekly home delivery of fresh, seasonal produce and hormone free meats, complete with step by step instructions and recipes for delicious meals. There is a vegetarian option available as well.

Blue Apron subscribers select from two options: a couple’s plan for either two or three meals per week, or, a family plan for two, three or four meals per week. Mr. LucyLoves and I opted for the three meal couples plan, for $60 per week. You can also choose your delivery day and we opted for Thursday.

Our food arrives via FedEx, nicely packed, with the meat products on ice. Produce and ‘extras’ are on top and everything stays adequately cold for the trip. All we must do is open the delivery upon arrival, put the meats in the freezer and the produce and herbs, seasonings and sauces in the refrigerator until we are ready to prepare a meal.

BR insert.jpgI like to review the recipe cards for each of the three meals in advance so I know what preparation is required. Most of the meals can be prepared in about a half hour, with a few maybe taking a bit longer depending on complexity of preparation and meat cook times. The directions are simple to understand and make learning new ways of preparing things rather fun. One person can prepare the meal easily but if you enjoy cooking with a partner, you can easily divide the duties. And the best part is, the meals are healthy and delicious!

There are other positives to a home delivered meal service. For starters, with Blue Apron, Mr. LucyLoves and I seldom eat the entire meal and usually have enough left for at least one lunch during the week. The produce provided is usually very close the amount needed per each recipe so there is no food waste. If I have an extra onion or clove of garlic, I can easily incorporate it into another dish during the week.

As far as feeding ourselves for the remainder of the week, we usually prepare vegetarian meals including lush salads, pasta, potatoes or rice. We purchase only what we need on a weekly basis now, such as breakfast foods, coffee and other drinks, a very few dairy products and the remainder of our produce. No more purchasing food in bulk packs that we can’t always eat up before it spoils, or having too much of one dish and not enough of another. Blue Apron has helped us to prepare just what we need with a bit of leftover items for packed lunches but not so much that we are throwing food away. And that is good for us and the environment. Furthermore, if you don’t have recycling in your area, you can return on the packaging, free of charge, and Blue Apron will recycle it for you.

In the past month, Mr. LucyLoves and I have reduced our grocery bill by about $80 over the previous month. Our bill may vary depending on what we need in any given week and what we choose to eat but any savings, no matter how small, is a savings nonetheless. And I’m always up for putting money in my own pocket.

BR cover.jpgHome delivered meal services may not be for everyone but don’t assume the expense is more than you can afford. If you are willing to make some adjustments to your budget and shopping routine, you may find you are eating healthier while better managing your household funds.

As always, live a beautiful life!

 

 

SKYN ICELAND BLEMISH DOTS~

For those of us who still experience the occasional break-out, you know that treating and abolishing those pesky visitors can be a hassle. Especially if you get those annoying zits that never seem to come to a head and take weeks to disappear. Hormones are to thank for those creatures and in my middle years, I am more likely to wake up with one of those raised annoying bumps than a normal pimple that you can banish in a week or less.

Since menopause, I don’t break out often but when I do, it’s usually a spot on or around my chin, that starts as a raised bump and tends to get very sore in a matter of a couple of days. I have continued to use a salicylic acid treatment product and applied ice a few times a day to reduce swelling and pain. Nonetheless, I am cursed with a spot that can take weeks to completely heal.skyn dot packs.jpg

Then I stumbled upon these SKYN Iceland Blemish Dots. And what a wonder! While these little, intense salicylic acid treatment patches claim to banish pimples overnight, they don’t work quite that fast on those deeply ingrained, hormonal spots. Nonetheless, two or three treatments does take care of the primary healing process while reducing swelling and pain. A breakout may last a week or ten days as opposed to a month. Those who experience the occasional ‘normal’ spot that is closer to the surface of the skin should see results much more quickly.

As soon as you see the sign of any spot, you simply peel the treatment dot from the clear plastic backing and apply it to the affected area. It’s best to use this product overnight, but the directions state you can apply it at any time for as many hours as possible. For those who are adept at makeup application, you can even cover the nearly invisible treatment patch with a bit of concealer or foundation if you must. Remove the dot in the morning and wash your face as normal and you should see a significantly marked improvement in the condition of your spot.

skyn dots cover.jpgI’ve tried other SKYN Iceland products in the past and I’ve not been disappointed. These little gems are definitely staying on my skincare list. For $20.00 for 48 patches, you absolutely cannot go wrong. Best of all, SKYN Iceland is a cruelty-free skincare company.

As always, live a beautiful, cruelty-free life!

 

MY FAVORITE CANDLE~VOTIVO Aromatic Candle in Red Currant

I purchase this candle at a local home store in my community and this is my third one. It is by far my favorite candle and is well worth the $30.00 price tag for the 6.8 oz. jar. (There are smaller ones available). While I love to indulge in holiday specific scents to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year season, this Red Currant brings pleasure to our home throughout the entire fall and winter season. The ever so slightly sweet yet warm aroma appeals to both sexes and on cold winter nights, makes a hot meal and a snuggly blanket seem even more appealing.
votivo candle insert.jpgVOTIVO candles are made in America and come in a variety of scents to please any pallet and suit any season. They are packaged in heavy, reusable glass jars that make great storage containers for your vanity or medicine cabinet. Enjoy one in your own home or give one as a gift, or both. These candles will not disappoint the giver or the recipient.
As always, live beautifully!