The (Un) Caged Bird

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." – Rumi


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Influenster Sugar ‘N Spice Voxbox Spring 2013 Recap

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Disclaimer:  I received the products below free from Influenster to test, review, and enjoy.  Additionally, I personally always attempt to purchase and use all natural, chemical – free products but I am not evaluating any of the products from that angle.  I simply used the products and am giving my feedback on what I liked and disliked.


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Item #1 – Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisture, $7.99 for 6.5 oz. can

Influenster, “New Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisture is a continuous spray lotion that moisturizes and absorbs in seconds, and leaves skin feeling instantly soft – not sticky or greasy.  Now you won’t have to wait for your lotion to absorb before pulling on those skinny jeans!”

Me: I received a can of the  Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisturizer with pure oat extract to use and sample.  The scent of the lotion was not pleasant to me, maybe others would be more pleasing.  Also, I didn’t think it saved any more time than my current moisturizing product and routine.  I think it could be great for photo shoots, weddings, the beach, or any special event where you need instant moisture in a fine mist.  For everyday use, the price at $7.99 is too steep for me.  If you used the can everyday it would probably last about two weeks.  I’ve been using the product for a month and it’s been far from daily and it’s just now running out.

Item #2 – Nectresse, $6.99 for 5.9 oz. container, or $3.99 for box of 40 packets.  

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Influenster, “Nectresse sweetner tastes like sugar but has zero calories per serving! 100 % all natural, NECTRESSE is made primarliy from monk fruit combined with other natural sweeteners.”

Me: I received a box of 40 packets and sent some to my twitter friend, farmerdarrell and distributed some to another friend as well (who I keep forgetting to ask what they thought).  I’m hypoglycemic so I’m always interested in alternative sweeteners that don’t affect blood sugar levels.  I don’t really cook with sugar or use sugar in my daily routine so I just sweetened beverages to test it out.  I didn’t like the way the sweetener made my cup of coffee taste.  Granted, I do like my coffee black but the sweetener had an odd aftertaste with the coffee.  It would be great for malts, shakes, cereal, oatmeal, pudding, etc.

farmerdarrell: “Nectresse came at the best time for me, I am diabetic and was going through complications controlling my sugar numbers. While stabilizing my numbers I used Nectresse to sweeten rice and cold cereal, I usually don’t like/use sweeteners other than sugar but this tasted similar, no after-taste at all. I saved some packets til my diabetic numbers were in-line to see if it would raise them. I used them in place of sugar in some lemonade and it was delicious!! Good product!!”

Item #3 – Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes, $5.99 for a 20 count box.

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Influenster, “Introducing Dickingson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes – The soothing blend of Witch Hazel and aloe on these facial wipes rejuvenates your skin by gently lifting dirt, oil and impurities from your pores while nourishing even the most sensitive skin.  The result is a clean, refreshed and blemish-free complexion even when you’re out and about.”

Me:  I loved this product.  I have sensitive, dry skin and these towelettes did not further dry or irritate my skin.  I loved the convenience of the packets as they were easy to take with me to modeling jobs or the gym.  I’ll definitely be purchasing these again and think they should be a staple in any travel kit.

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Item #4 – Colgate Optic White Regimen

Toothpaste: $2.99 for 4 oz. tube
Mouthwash: $2.99 for 8 oz. bottle
Toothbrush: $2.99 per brush

Influenster, ” Your VoxBox not contains not one, but THREE Colgate Optic White products in a new high impact formula. Use the Optic White toothpaste, toothbrush, and mouthwash together for whiter teeth in five days (vs. brushing with an ordinary toothpaste alone).”

Me:  I agree that the Colgate Optic White products whiten better than ordinary toothpaste alone.  However, I can’t say that I see a difference from the other whitening brand of toothpaste that I had been using.  I thought the toothpaste and mouthwash both had a clean and refreshing flavor.  I loved the head and bristles of the brush but couldn’t seem to get a good grip on the handle base on the shape and size.  I wouldn’t buy the brush because it kept slipping around in my hands but I have long, skinny fingers and hands.  If you don’t, then you may have better results.  I’d recommend the toothpaste and the mouthwash.

Item #5, belVita Breakfast Biscuits: $3.69 for a box of 5 packets of 4 biscuits

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Influenster, “belVita Breakfast Biscuits are made with delicious ingredients and carefully baked to release steady energy that lasts all morning.  They are a good source of Fiber and B-vitamins, contain no high fructose corn syrup, have 18 – 20 grams of whole grain per 50 gram serving and taste great – perfect for on-the-go!”

Me:  I also loved these and will definitely purchase them.  I liked the texture of the biscuit and it did provide sustained energy.  It was sweet enough to be pleasant and it seemed to be a low glycemic food but that’s just based on how my own body digested it, I don’t know if it is or not.  They tasted good, it’s a great price for a nutritious, on-the-go snack and I always have a bag of food just like this on hand.  Try them, you’ll like them!

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Life Without Cigarettes: Year One

Today,  I celebrate my one year anniversary of being smoke free.   Yesterday one year ago (April 5)  I smoked my last cigarette and swore that was the end.   (If you’re new to my blog and would like to read about how I quit hop on over to my post, “How I Quit Smoking Cold Turkey“. )  I had quit smoking at various points in my life in the past but always failed to make it past the year point, this time however I was mentally armed and that is what has kept me free from cigarettes for the past year.

How has my life changed without cigarettes?  First off, I have had more money in my pocket, I estimated that I’ve saved myself approximately $1050 dollars by not smoking last year, that’s a conservative number and it’s definitely not less than that.  (If I’d finished my taxes already I would have a much more accurate estimate based on my smoking habits from the first four months of last year.  I could have done a nice little estimate from the average.)   Considering I was saving money by not smoking I had extra money to join a gym, buy a pair of tennis shoes and work on improving the health of my body.

I also eat a lot more now and more regularly than I used to.  I’m hypoglycemic and instead of eating I could frequently use smoking cigarettes to give me a stimulant boost to keep my energy up.  I did gain weight by not smoking, in total I’ve gained about fifteen pounds and gone up a size in clothing.   I really struggled with that and had convinced myself that I needed to drop that weight and get back to the size I had been and thus spent almost all of last year berating myself internally for not having accomplished that yet. (Yes, I know I posted all those posts about self-love.  I need them just as much as everyone else.)  Last month as I was contemplating another milestone that I’m about to celebrate the self-love kicked in and I was finally able to appreciate this new shape that my body has settled into.  Now, I know I’m healthy and while I still would like to be physically more fit and active (for the sake of being strong and having the endurance to do activities) I no longer feel the pressure for my body to go back to the way it was.  I’m celebrating this more shapely form I’ve settled into because it represents who I am when I’m making healthy lifestyle choices like getting enough sleep, not drinking, not smoking, eating regularly and being more active.  I know that as I make more changes in my life and as time passes it will continue to change and each new transformation is really just an opportunity to celebrate the change and explore something new.

I’ve been a lot more productive because I channel my anxiety, nervous energy, fear, whatever it is into improving my life.   I’ve managed to make a lot of changes around my house and in my life and its been really rewarding to see the results of my efforts.

I gained faith in my own willpower and earned trust in myself that I could keep my word to myself and follow through with a promise I’d made to myself.   I gained self respect by honoring that commitment to myself and both of these things really helped to build my overall confidence in myself.   When you start out on a journey it’s always scary because it’s uncertain where the road will lead and what sort of dark patches you may have to stroll through and sometimes it’s more pleasant to only remember the rainbows when we’re on the other side.  I can tell you there were dark patches but I never once took a single puff from a cigarette.  It was not for lack of wanting to either, there were many, many days where for my own sanity and that of others I thought maybe I should just go buy a pack but didn’t.  I still wonder if I’ll ever have a cigarette in the future.  Time will tell.


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Influenster Sugar ‘N Spice Voxbox 2013

I just received my latest Voxbox in the mail and was so excited to unpack it and discover the goodies I had been sent.  I swear, Influenster must know my personality because all of the items in the box are right up my alley and totally fulfill a need I have.  I haven’t had a chance to use any of the products yet since I just unpacked them but thought I’d introduce them and then I’ll write a review at a later date.

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Nectresse
$6.99 for 5.9 oz. container or $3.99 for box of 40 packets

“Nectresse sweetener tastes like sugar but has zero calories per serving! 100% all natural, Nectresse is made primarily from monk fruit combined with other natural sweeteners. “

I like all natural sweeteners, especially ones that don’t raise the blood sugar and affect insulin levels.

Dickinsons
$5.99 for a 20-count box

“Introducing Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes – The soothing blend of Witch Hazel and aloe on these facial wipes rejuvenates your skin by gently lifting dirt, oil and impurities from you pores while nourishing even the most sensitive skin.  The result is a clean, refreshed and blemish-free complexion even when you’re out and about.

I’m an on-the-go kind of woman so products like these are a total lifesaver.   I frequently have to take a full face of makeup off after shoots and this makes it simple, two wipes in my purse and I’m set.

Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisture
$7.99 for 6.5 oz. can

“New Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer Total Moisture is a continuous spray lotion that moisturizes and absorbs in seconds, and leaves skin feeling instantly soft – not sticky or greasy. “

I am so excited to try this product I have needed something like it.  As a model it’s important that my skin stays moisturized and looking young, fresh, and healthy.  I have sensitive skin and typically choose to use all natural products.  However, for testing and fun and being grateful for gifts I will be using all of this product.  I’d like to research the ingredients as I’m always curious about that sort of thing but I don’t know if I’ll get around to it before the review.  We’ll see!  The lotion does have fragrance which is negative for me as I won’t be able to use it when I go on modeling gigs.  I hope they make a scent free version as that would be perfect!

Colgate Optic White Regimen
Toothpase: $2.99 for 4oz. tube
Mouthwash: $2.99 for 8 oz. bottle
Toothbrush: $2.99 per brush

“Use the Optic White toothpaste, toothbrush, and mouthwash together for whiter teeth in five days (vs. brushing with an ordinary toothpaste alone).

A bright white smile is important to me and I’m always willing to try something new.  You never know what you might discover! I just finished my tube of Crest 3D White today so I’m going to start my five day challenge tomorrow.  I’ve used Crest 3D White for a few months now and even though it’s not natural I use it because it works.

belVita Breakfast Biscuits
$3.69 for a box of 5 packets of 4 biscuits

“belVita Breakfast Biscuits are made with delicious ingredients and carefully baked to release steady energy that lasts all morning.  They are a good source of Fiber and B-vitamins, contain no high fructose corn syrup, have 18-20 grams of whole gran per 50 gram serving and taste great – perfect for on-the-go!

Again since I’m always on the move easy-to-carry food and nutritious food is important to me as well.  I’m a reactive hypoglycemic so I have to watch my sugar intake and make sure that I eat frequently to keep my blood sugar stabilized.  These biscuits don’t have high fructose corn syrup which is a huge plus.

Please note I received all of these products for Influenster for testing purposes.

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Gardening Diary – March 30, 2013

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today and since this was the first free day I’ve had where it’s been 50 degrees I spent a few hours in my garden.  I really love gardening and have had an urban garden for a few years now.  Gardening is a magical experience for me as I am always in awe of something or other and watching my plants grow inspires me and makes me happy and grateful to be alive.    I thought I’d share my gardening experiences here on my blog as a way to share with others and as a personal record of what I’ve done.  It was so nice to be out in the sun with my hands in the dirt today!

- Cleaned out herb beds of weeds.  Trimmed back rose bush, sage, rosemary, oregano, mint, catnip, and terragon.

- Planted garlic.  (I had planted broccoli for the past two years in the spot where I’m planting the garlic, crop rotation seemed like a good idea.)

- Thinned out carrots.  The carrots from last year reseeded and so I had to go through and thin them out.  Bonus, no new planting though.  Last year was my first year to grow carrots so I wanted to experiment this year with letting the carrots reseed, worked well.

- Harvested brussels sprouts.   Last year was also the first year that I grew brussels sprouts and I had not harvested any of them but let them continue to grow and winter it out.   I harvested two stalks today and have two more to harvest.

- Clean out spinach, harvest a little, plant more spinach seeds.   The spinach I planted in the fall was so still alive and growing so I cleaned it up and thinned it out a bit.  Then, I planted more seeds that I harvested from last years spinach crop to fill out the bed. Mulch spinach bed with dried tomato stalks from last season.

- Make new bed and plant poppy seeds.  I discovered a packet of poppy seeds when I was sorting through my seeds and decided to make an area next to my front stairway into a bed for poppies.  I planted half a packet of the poppy seeds in the new bed and held half a packet back for the bed I’ll have to create on the other side.

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Herb bed with spicy oregano, rosemary, sage and a rose bush.

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Herb bed number two with oregano, spearmint, and tarragon.

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Garlic bed, not much to see right now. I planted around sixteen cloves in rows four by four.

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The portion of the carrot bed that I worked on today. You can see where I separated the patch into rows.

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Brussels sprout stalks.

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Spinach bed with tomato stalk mulch. Ms. M is inspecting my work. :)

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l New bed planted with poppy seeds.

 

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Harvest! The brussels sprouts, spinach, and a single carrot were my rewards for my efforts.

 

 

 


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Self-Love Celebration Month Day 2/7 – 2/12

The second installment from my daily self love posts, day 7 – 12.  Enjoy!

 

Self Love Celebration, Day 7

“When we have the courage to let the walls down – to know and embrace ourselves, despite our human failings, we also open the door to connecting in a more caring, empathetic, intimate way with the ones we love and with all living beings. Our brains are wired for survival, but also for empathy. We have mirror neurons that fire when we see other people’s pain. Let us learn to love ourselves so we can be more open and compassionate to others, and so we can take down the walls that limit who we can be and what we can contribute. The quotes below are intended as inspiration for your inward journey.” – via Psychology Today, The 50 Best Quotes on Self Love

Self Love Celebration Day 8

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh”

Tiny Buddha, the site which hosts the article below, 21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action is a great website for all sorts of life advice. I’ve been receiving a weekly email from them for a year or so and find an applicable article in every digest. Enjoy. :)

Self Love Celebration Day 9

Isn’t loving yourself a selfish thing you say? Nope, healthy self esteem and setting loving boundaries are not conceited, ego driven acts.

“When I talk of self-love, I am NOT advocating that we should stop caring for others, and just focus on ourselves. Being in service and giving back to your community is something I believe is very important. Showing kindness to others and demonstrating our caring for our loved ones is a key to having a fulfilling life. However, maintaining a balance is critical. You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself, first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without ever refilling it – eventually, it will run dry. Like that vessel, we, too, need to refill, recharge, and re-energize. ” – Self Love, Is It Selfish?

 

Self Love Celebration Day 10 -

(This one is not PG rated) If you’re going to talk about self love and leave sex out of the picture then you haven’t got a complete picture have you? We live in such a weird, hypocritical society where sex is used to sell almost every product imaginable yet there’s still negativity attached to real people in the flesh getting it on and women especially seem to harbor all of this guilt and embarrassment around being sexual beings.


“The bottom line here is that self-love equals better sex! The better you know yourself on multiple levels, the more you love and appreciate your strengths. The greater you honor yourself right now, the freer you will feel to express yourself in the bedroom, or even venture out to new locations. Experiencing healthy sexuality and enjoying the pleasures of the body involves awareness, authenticity, and presence. Truly releasing to pleasure, whether it is succumbing to orgasm or just gazing into your partner’s eyes, puts us in a vulnerable position beyond rational control.” – Awakening to Sexual Self Love

 

 

Self Love Celebration Day 11

As a person that seems to always walk the road less traveled, I have struggled a lot with approval and still do. Why? Because the road less traveled means that there aren’t many people along the way that you’re going and you aren’t likely to be encouraged. Ironically, the things that I deem the least important in my life receive the most attention and approval and the things that I’m extremely passionate and heartfelt about receive very little. Perspective is king, so I’ve started doing what I want and fulfilling the need for approval by being kind and supportive to myself and the reward for it all lies in the fact that I’m giving that passion an outlet and letting that voice inside me have a chance to speak even if no one seems to listen.

“The key to an authentic emotional life, like the key to an authentic sex life, is to follow your real desires.” – Stop Seeking Approval

 

Self Love Celebration Day 12

Self love is self care. 34 simple ways to begin your self care practice. In our electronic age it can be difficult to remember that we aren’t machines and we’re merely humans. Humans aren’t made to live and work and push the limit every day, all day, week after week. We just aren’t. Self care can feel like a selfish activity but it’s not. If we don’t maintain our cars, wash them, and provide them with fuel they won’t perform as well as if we regularly maintain and care for them. Humans are the same way, we need regular maintenance and self care to really shine and perform regularly.


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Self Love Celebration Month – Days 2/1 – 2/6

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I apologize for jumping ship on my Think Kit posts,  I get really ambitious and think that I have time to do all of this fun stuff and then reality sets in and I realize that I don’t have enough time to accomplish all that I want.  I thought the Think Kit post prompts were brilliant and quite helpful though so I have saved them all and will be using them to write throughout the year (hopefully just the next few months).

February has been coined Self Love Celebration Month by the amazing and wonderful author of Madly in Love With Me, Christine Arylo.  On February 13th, women (Love Ambassadors) around the country will be hosting Self Love parties and a special (free!) Self Love Concert will be hosted in California and accessible via the internet for us all to enjoy.  I really wanted to host my own self love party here in Indianapolis but realized that I don’t have enough resources (time and energy) to do so this year and it would just once again overextend me which is not a loving thing to do to oneself.  So… I decided to celebrate in my own way by posting a post a day on my Facebook page on the topic of Self Love.   I will post my Facebook posts here for you all to enjoy since my Facebook page is private.

Self Love Celebration, Day 1:

As I feel more safe and secure within myself,
my relationships become more safe and secure.
As I trust myself and the choices I make,
my connections become more trustworthy.
The more faithful I am to myself,
the more my world reflects that fidelity.
As I honour myself,
my interactions in the world become honourable.
And I realise that the Universe is an honourable place,
Of which I belong.

~ Sidonie Bouchet © October 25, 2011

www.soletosoulsex.com

Self Love Celebration, Day 2:

“The person in life that you will always be with the most, is yourself. Because even when you are with others, you are still with yourself, too! When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself, laying in bed at night you are with yourself, walking down the street in the sunlight you are with yourself.What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it’s your responsibility to be that person you want to be with. I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Self Love Celebration, Day 3:

Affirmation:

I Love me as I am.

I Love the dark side of me.

I Love the unlovable parts of me.

via one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Love.   You can read the entire post from that day, Loving Yourself When You Don’t Want To.  Great tips and reminders there that in our moments of our darkness or perceived failures is when we need to love ourselves the most, not just the parts where loving ourselves comes easy.

Self Love Celebration, Day 4:

Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with Me has a free self love kit. Visit the link  and you can download yours! I don’t care what gender, sexuality, age, religion, or political orientation you are we all deserve and need to love ourselves. You are the only one who lives in your head and heart!

One especially difficult day I did a google search on how to build self esteem and discovered Christine’s amazing free guide on self love. Her self love kit is what started this journey for me last year and it was the perfect little seed to start growing my self love tree.  Download your, Free Self Love Kit and get started! 

Self Love Celebration, Day 5:

Today, I’m excited to tell you about the free Self Love Concert taking place on 2/13/13 that you can tune into via the web. Throw a party and invite your loved ones or celebrate with a party for one. The concert will address the topics of taking good care of yourself, stopping the negative self talk and comparison, loving your body like a temple, and how to attract in loving relationships. Imagine if we taught the young generations this principles as children, don’t you think we’d have a profoundly different world?

Register for the Free Self Love Concert!  2/13/13

Self Love Celebration, Day 6:

Be your ideal best friend or partner to yourself. Having a rotten day and everywhere you turn there’s nothing but criticism? Feeling alone because there’s no one to turn to? Be there for you. If you’re upset, listen to yourself. Be patient and allow yourself to express the emotion that you feel and provide encouragement and support to yourself as you would to the people you love the most. Don’t berate yourself for being upset or tell yourself it’s unwarranted and uncalled for. You wouldn’t want your loved one to treat you that way would you? No, you would want a kind compassionate ear to listen, encouraging words of support and guidance, the knowledge that you were in the company of someone who gave you unconditional love and support in your failures and triumphs, and for your feelings and thoughts to be acknowledged and seen as valid and worthy of being heard. Love yourself enough to be that person to yourself and show yourself you are worth your time.

I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful.  Love to all. :)


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Think Kit Day 10: New Traditions

“What new traditions do you want to start this year?”

 

I want to start sending everyone handwritten thank you notes and greeting cards.   I sporadically send handwritten items now but in 2013 I want to make it a to do thing for every occasion.

Other than that I haven’t the faintest idea what traditions I’d like to start.  I’ll put that on my mental list of things to ruminate over while waiting in line.

 

Are you planning on establishing new traditions?  What will you be doing?

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