Sunday, April 29, 2012

Birchbox Vs. MyGlam: April 12

I am finally getting around to showing you my April Birchbox and MyGlam bag.  I have to say that I was not impressed with either this month (we're talking C- or D+ here).  I am happy about my new makeup brushes (which will be great for travel), but aside from that, nothing is really knocking my socks off (although to be fair, I haven't tried everything yet).

Inside my Birchbox:

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue- This does smell really good, like a ripe blood orange (which is one of my favorite smells in the world).  

Befine Skincare Sampler - I haven't tried these yet, but I like the fact that they are all natural.  I have rosacea, and harsh chemicals really upset my skin.  There are samples of both the gentle cleanser (with sugar, mint, oats, and rice) and the daily moisturizer with SPF 15 (with rosemary, pomergranite, and rice).  

Olle Biologique 004 Huile Moderne- This is an oil for the face, body and hair made of argan, rosehip and bergamont.  Another natural product that is supposed to reduce irritation and inflammation.  I am interested in seeing if this will have any positive effects on my rosacea.  It smells very herb-y.

Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm in Bronzed (full sized) - I have tried this on my cheeks and lips.  I like the flush of color it gives my cheeks and it doesn't seem to dry out my lips.

Le Palais des Thes Tea Bags- These are Parisian green tea blends.  I am a fan of tea, so I did like this sample.

Inside my MyGlam Bag:

Pink Makeup Bag

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Woodstock- I love Urban Decay eyeliner, but this one is in red.  I am all about colored eyeliners (I use blue, purple, green, and brown on a regular basis), but I am not really sure I know how to pull red off.  If you have any ideas, I would love to hear it.  

DermStore Lip Quench Moisture Infused Lip Treatment (full sized)- I am a sucker for any kind of lip quenching chapstick-like product, but this was just ok, and not memorable at all.

All-Belle Eyelashes- They look nice, but this is not a product I would normally use.  I will probably give these away.  

Bonus:  Two additional brushes to go into the case they sent last month.  This time an all-over eye shadow brush and an eyeliner brush.

Did you get different items in your bags and boxes this month?  Anything here you are interested in trying?  What do you think of the April products? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Happiness Project

I would consider myself a generally happy person.  Don't get me wrong, my life is by no means all sunshine and roses, but I often find myself trying to live in the moment (something difficult for a planner like me) and enjoy what is happening right now.  There are many times that I think to myself, "these are the days we'll look back on and think they were the good ole' days."    I sometimes wonder if I am appreciating my life enough and if I could be doing things a better way.  This book came to me at a perfect time in my life.

Author Gretchen Rubin was also happy, but thought she could be happier.  She decided to create twelve months of resolutions.  Each would each focus on a different aspect of her life which she wished to improve.  The book takes you month by month through her successes and failures, while also discussing the actual science of happiness.  I was able to apply a lot of this newly acquired knowledge to my own life (currently a work in progress).  I have seen some positive effects already.

I really loved this book.  In fact, this is my second five out of five stars book in a row.  From the moment I started reading it, I began making notes of my own.  One of my favorite aspects of the book was her Twelve Commandments, two of which I decided I needed to pay special attention to in my life (spend out and no calculation).  I also really liked her Secrets of Adulthood and have found myself doling out these little pearls of wisdom to friends.  She has another book coming out in September regarding happiness in the home, and I am really looking forward to it.

P.S.  Thanks to Emma over at Gawgus Things for the recommendation.

Up next, One Day.  Honestly, I have been reading this book for a while now, and I am not loving it.  I keep hoping it will get better (so far, it hasn't).  I am not really sure I still want to see the movie version (but let's face it, I probably will).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Garage Sale Tips

Every April, our neighborhood has a garage sale.  Last year we decided to participate for the first time, and we sold a lot of stuff. I admit that I was actually surprised.  Added bonus: it was nice to meet a lot of our neighbors while making some extra cash.  Since this was our second year participating, I have learned a lot about the do's and don'ts of a successful sale.  In case you are thinking about having one yourself, here is my wisdom.  

1) Make your house easily identifiable.  Balloons do the trick.

2) A surprising amount of people will try to pay with large bills, and hope that you have cash to make change.  Decide if you are going to accept large bills (and please, buy yourself a counterfeit money pen so you can check them out right away).  Also, start off with about $25 in singles and $15 in five dollar bills so you can make change.

3) There are special garage sale stickers that you can buy.  I got mine from CVS.  Some are blank, while others are for 25 cents up through $3.  They make pricing everything so much easier.

4) Have a comfortable place to sit in the shade.  You will have a lot of downtime as people come and go.  The chairs below have drink holders and a built in cooler.  Their inventor deserves a high five.

5)  This goes without saying, have lots of water to keep you hydrated.  Also, a bowl of water for people coming around with dogs is a nice touch.  We have a lot in our neighborhood.

6)  Have an extension cord available for people looking to try out electrical items your are selling.  Buyers are often hesitant to purchase items that that can't see for themselves actually work.  

7)  A fabric covered cork board makes a great display for jewelry you are trying to sell.   

8)  My husband had a fantastic idea for a makeshift clothing rack.  He positioned a 6 foot dowel on the corner of two fences, and it worked perfectly.  I tried to arrange the clothing by color to make it more appealing.  I also saved a bunch of hangers from the dry cleaners to serve as light-weight hangers that wouldn't take up much room.  I gave them away as people asked to keep them.

9)  This last tip is important.  Decide if you are having a sale to make money or to get rid of things you no longer want.  It will help you determine how to price things and how much you are willing to haggle. Everyone is looking for a deal, and while most people are reasonable, there will always be the one who offers you a quarter for a $10 item.  Know what you will accept.  

A little bit of curb appeal from my front yard.  I am really happy with the way it is turning out.  I hope to have more pictures as the season progresses.

Do you participate in or rummage through garage sales?  What is the best thing you have ever found?  What about the weirdest?  Do you have any tips as either a buyer or a seller?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Really Cute Sandals

I stopped by Nordstrom today to return a pair of classic TOMS that just did not look cute on me at all.  Hey, I tried.  I exchanged them for a really cute pair of TOMS ballet flats that I had been stalking for a while.  I love that pattern.

While I was trying on shoes, I noticed all of the cute sandals that are out for the spring.  I fell hard for a few pairs.  Turns out, I am a big fan of all the bright colors and embellishments, plus most of them are really reasonably priced.  We'll just call the Lanvin's a dream pair.  Speaking of, does anyone have $575 I can borrow?

Have you started looking at sandals yet?  Any of these striking your fancy?

Really Cute Sandals

Sam Edelman sandals
$65 -

BC Footwear sandals
$50 -

BP. sandals
$50 -

Steven by Steve Madden sandals
$119 -

Lanvin sandals
$575 -

Steve Madden sandals
$60 -

Steve Madden sandals
$60 -

Joe's sandals
$90 -

MIA 'Praire' Sandal | Nordstrom
$59 -

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Life Lately (in Pictures)

This is what I've been up to...

Someone is completely spoiled and sleeping in my bed.

This past Saturday, I attended a Northern California Blogger Meet-up.  It was a blast.  Everyone was so sweet, and I had a great time making new friends.  I am so happy to live near these ladies, and I loved getting to know them and checking out their blogs.  Dana and Megan also have a pretty cool jewelry store that is totally worth perusing. 

From left to right: 
Chantal - B in the Bay -
Dana - Vivaciously Fabulous -
Stephanie - Big Mario Life -

Cobalt blue is my current everything color.

My newly planted front yard.  

Bad dog!

Bacon + chocolate = something more delightful than you think.  

Guess what?

A really cool fountain I stumbled upon in a local shopping center.

Harriet and Petunia begging to be let into the garden.

I don't understand one word of this song, yet I sing along with reckless abandon and have it on heavy rotation.  Do you do this with foreign language songs too?  

During my iritis flareup, I decided to reorganize my closet, since I couldn't read the computer screen.  I went the Huggable-Hanger(ish) route, but with the cheaper knock-off version from TJMaxx.  I have so much more room now.  Bonus, clothing actually stays on the hanger.

Petunia is ready for her closeup.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I know this much is true...

I am finally led to the exam room and sit, waiting for the doctor to come in.  The whole time I still have a bandanna over my eyes, my sunglasses on, and my hand over my eyes so no light can get in at all.  Light was my enemy, no matter how slight.  I sort of wish I had pictures from the day so you can get an idea of how ridiculous I felt and how red my eye was.  This image from Wikipedia pretty much sums it all up.  


The doctor starts his exam, and I can tell he is getting frustrated.  I am unable to open my eye (even in a dark room) and he can't see what is going on.  Once I am finally able to open it for a few seconds he scrunches his face and I can tell that he immediately knows what is going on.  He diagnoses me with Iritis, and inflammation of my iris.  My pupil stopped dilating in my right eye and is no longer regulating light.  You can see the variation is sizes in the picture above.

Fortunately, the doctor was able to give me some drops which offered me instant relief.  One of the drops was specifically for dialiting my pupil, which cured my light sensitivity, but made it so I could not focus on anything small (like reading off of a computer), which is a small side effect considering.  It took a few weeks, but eventually my eye returned to normal.  I was told that it is sometimes a freak occurrence.  It can just happen to people out of nowhere, for no reason.  Not to even worry about it, unless it happens again.

Flash forward to 2009 (six years later).  I hadn't thought about the incident much, and brushed it off as just one of those things.  One night I took a vitamin that gave me an allergic reaction (hives are scary if you have never had them before).  This incident seemed to set off a chain reaction which led to my second occurrence of iritis.  Again I couldn't open my eyes to any kind of light.  Again I had take dialiting drops and a steroid to fix my eye.  Again I brushed it off as just one of those things.

In the next few months I got several more flare ups.  This led to a series of tests (and what seemed like 10 vials of blood being drawn) to figure out what was causing this.  When you have multiple occurrences, it is a symptom of something else.  A lot of scary something elses. 

For me, it turned out I have an antigen in my body that causes this.  It causes lots of other scary things too, that hopefully I will never have to deal with.  Just having the antigen means I am at greater risk for them.  I will get flare ups of iritis from time to time, and need to see the doctor every time.  The steroid you have to take to fix it also causes other eye issues.  Nothing in life is ever simple, right?

I mainly wrote this blog post to share my experience living with with iritis .  As my doctor explained it, essentially I have arthritis in my eye.  I have been dealing with a flare up over the last few weeks, and it can be very frustrating and a bit debilitating.  Also, I am hoping that someone else who may be dealing with it may read this and be able to share their experience with me.  It seems to be a rare ailment, and I have never met anyone else that has it.

Of course, if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them, either via comments below or email.   

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why do I find it hard to write the next line?

Oh, I want the truth to be said
(Also, I can't see very well right now).

This is a bit of a departure from the posts I usually write; a little more personal.  I decided to write this for two reasons: 1)  To share my experience here, in case anyone else ever goes through the same thing and 2) In hopes of hearing from someone else who can share his/her experience with me.    I will begin at the beginning.

It was 2003.  I woke up one Friday morning, and my eye was kind of sore.  I ignored it, thinking that I must have rubbed it too hard in my sleep.  Not a normal occurrence, but plausible.  The next day my eye was a bit more sore, red, and a little sensitive to light.  Thinking I must have inadvertently injured my eye, I ignored it, hoping that I would feel better the next morning.  

The next day I went to the movies.  I don't remember what I saw, but I do remember that it was a painful experience.  Being in a dark room with nothing but light from the movie hurt.  I really must have rubbed my eye too hard.  When I went to bed that night I had a hard time watching tv.  When I closed my eyes, the light from the tv still bothered me.  It was weird, but I figured I would feel better in the morning.  

The next morning I woke up, and I couldn't open my right eye without feeling immense pain.  It should have been a clue that I needed to go to the doctor immediately, but I am stubborn like that.  I stumbled my way into the shower to get ready for work.  I couldn't turn the light on.  I couldn't open my eye.  I definitely couldn't drive.  I was in bad shape.  

I had my roommate call a doctor for me.  I couldn't open my eyes at all.  I could drive, and I certainly couldn't look up a number and dial a phone.  I was a complete mess.  I went to my general practitioner who immediately referred me to a ophthalmologist.  I clearly  remember sitting in the car with a bandanna wrapped around my head and sunglasses on while my eyes were shut.  The sun was still too bright for me.  I thought I was going to go blind.  

The nurse took me into the first room and asked me to open my eyes so she could take my eye pressure.  I don't deal well with this request on a normal day (you stare at a dot and the blow a poof of air into your eye, if you have never had this done).  I couldn't even open my eye here to attempt this.  I didn't know how the actual eye exam was going to happen.  The longer I sat waiting to see the doctor, the worse the scenarios playing in my head became.  What was going on, and was it going to get better?  I was sure I was the only person to ever go through this in the world, and I was silently freaking out.

{Part 2 Coming Soon}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

spring blog swap & a story you NEED to see

As you may know, sweet Katie over at J&K hosted a spring blog swap.  This is my second year participating, and this time I was matched up with Jenny from Strictly Strickland's.  She put together an amazing package for me.  Seriously, she is like my sister from another mister that I just met a week ago:)  

See, there was suspense from the second I opened the box.  After reading my adorable card (guess I missed that picture) I couldn't wait to see what was inside.  Really, it is like she already knew me.  Everything inside was something I loved.  I am so lucky to have been matched up with her.

Wet N Wild Nail Polish (in Club Havana)
Flip flop picture holder
Owl car air freshener in pink sangria (one of my favorite animals and favorite scents from Bath & BodyWorks)
Cute floral cup
Notepad and pen
Pink spatula
Fresh Picked Peach hand soap by Bath & BodyWorks (another favorite of mine)
A large nail file by Bath and BodyWorks (more favorites)
Cadbury Mini-Eggs (I wait all year for these to come out)
Springtime napkins
Two Ferrero Rocher eggs (I had never seen these before, but they were amazing.  I have searched for them since, but no dice).

Thank you Jenny, for everything!!!


On a completely separate note, I watched this last night, and it warmed my heart (OK, it even made even made me a little teary).  I encourage you to watch for yourself (and read more about Caine, here).  I feel like we don't see enough good news out there.  This is a sweet and inspiring story.  Enjoy (and keep some tissues close)!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday

My sweet niece Nola in her bonnet.

A bowl full of eggs for the adult kids.

My in-law's fabulous bagna cauda (one of my favorite things in the entire world).

Hiding eggs for the little ones.

   My mouth waters just looking at this picture.  Did you just google bagna cauda?

The beautiful layout for Easter brunch.

I love the holiday decor.

Nola was over the whole Easter bonnet thing.

Filling my belly.

Both of my mothers-in-law have April birthdays. Celebrating with the usual wacky cake.

What is brunch without mimosas?

Someone has discovered her fingers.

Of course I can't forget Carly, my in-law's ever patient pup.

Getting very anxious to be mobile.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  What did you do?  

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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