Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Exfoliate and Get Smooth Skin

The following is an advertorial. I received the following products in exchange for my honest review. 

Whether you have sensitive skin or skin that's prone to breakouts, a simple skin care practice can help you achieve and maintain smooth skin and a healthy glow: exfoliating. There are hundreds of products on the market that will exfoliate your skin with ingredients like ground up peach pits, walnut shells, micro beads or salt, and they all serve a similar purpose.

Why You Should Exfoliate Your Skin

  • Refines and smooths your skin's texture so it looks and feels soft. 
  • Cleanses your skin while dislodging oil and dirt in your pores, breaks up white- and blackheads, and prevents acne.
  • Increases blood flow to your face so your skin glows. 

How to Exfoliate Your Skin 

  1. Wash your face with your favorite face scrub or cleanser. Washing your face before exfoliating helps get rid of excess bacteria on your face and prepares your skin.
  2. Apply the exfoliating product to your skin. 
  3. Rub the product onto your skin using a gentle, circular motion. You don't have to grind the product into your skin for it to be effective.
  4. Rinse of the exfoliating product with warm water. 
  5. Pat your face dry. 
  6. Apply your favorite moisturizer. 
Since exfoliating can cause your face to have some normal temporary redness, I recommend that you exfoliate at night so you don't have to worry about applying makeup correctly. Plus, your face will look great in the morning.

If you have sensitive skin, exfoliate your skin once a week. Otherwise, exfoliate twice a week or as many times as the manufacturer recommends.

Natural Exfoliating Product

I like to exfoliate my skin. I like how the scratchy ingredients feel as they massage my skin. I swoon over how soft my skin feels afterward.

I recently tried the Adovia Exfoliating Facial Sea Salts. Unlike other exfoliating products, the jar only contains sea salt from the Dead Sea -- no cleanser or lotion to bind the salts together. This type of packaging ensures that the salts don't dissolve, I guess.

To apply the salts to my skin, I pressed my damp hands into the jar of salt and then rubbed the salt on my damp skin. The salts felt good on my skin and their smell reminded me of being at the beach. After I rinsed my skin, I felt (and smelled) like I just got out of the ocean.

You can mix a bit of the salts with a facial cleanser or coconut oil if you're afraid of the salt falling off your face. While I generally exfoliate my skin in the shower, I don't recommend bringing the jar of salt into the shower with you because they may get wet, which will ruin them.

After exfoliating, I moisturized my skin and applied Adovia's Mineral Eye Gel around my eyes. While I'm a big Adovia fan and like its skin care products, I can't say that I appreciate the eye cream. When I used it, the fumes or evaporating moisture from the cream greatly irritate my eyes for a few moments. A few moments is all it takes, however, to make me not use it around my eyes anymore, despite the benefits it offers. I guess my eyes are more sensitive than I thought.

So, I say "Yes"to the Exfoliating Facial Sea Salts and "Pass" to the eye cream. You can find both on

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to Sharpen a Knife

The following is an advertorial. I received the respective product in exchange for a review on my blog. 

One of the most important kitchen skills to know is how to sharpen a knife. Why? A sharp knife is a safe knife. Dull blades do a crappy job at cutting things. When you have to force a knife to cut, you're more likely to injure yourself (and make your food look sloppy).

How to Sharpen a Knife with a Sharpening Steel

Sharpening a knife using a sharpening steel is simpler than you may think and is a quick way to sharpen your knives. A steel is a metal rod with a plastic handle. You'll often find one in a nice kitchen knife set.

This video from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Home Cooking Skills show how to sharpen a knife with a steel:

See how simple it is to sharpen a knife? It is okay to work slowly. Speed doesn't matter as much as much as a job well done.

Using a Knife Sharpener

A lot of knife sharpening gadgets on the market suck. They don't work well or they wear down the blade quickly. I found that this is not true of the Razor Red knife sharpener, which I received to test and review.

The knife sharpener has a V-shape made with tungsten carbide technology through which you run the blade. A strong suction cup keeps the sharpener in place on your counter, so your hand doesn't have to get near the blade.

This knife sharpener is so simple to use, and you can use it to sharpen serrated knives (bread knives). Because of its design, I used the knife sharpener to also sharpen scissors, my gardening tools and machetes.

Yes, machetes! My husband and I use them for gardening. Before, my husband used some type of grinder in my grandma's tool shed to sharpen the machetes. Now we can sharpen them at home in a manner that's much safer.

I enthusiastically recommend this product because of its versatility and safety aspects. It makes a great gift idea for newly weds, as a house warming gift, for someone who has gardening tools that need to stay sharp and for senior citizens.

You can find the Razor Red knife sharpener on

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Take Care of Your Skin during the Summer

I received the following products in exchange for a review. 

Summer is the time when you can make sure your skin looks great decades from now by protecting it now against the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

Prevent Sun Damage

As you age, you naturally lose collagen, elastin and fat in your face. These elements make your skin look firm, bright and young. If you don't protect your skin from the sun, its rays literally cook your skin, make it dry, cause oxidation and speed up the aging process. It also causes age spots to appear, which aren't cute.

Another thing that isn't cute is skin cancer. Sadly, it's the most common form of cancer in the U.S., especially among young adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. About one out of every five Americans have some type of skin cancer. That's 20 percent of the population!

Skin cancer treatment involves more than just skin graphs. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, like the brain, if left undetected.

Keeping Summer Skin Healthy and Beautiful

  • Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 everyday. Use a moisturizer with sun protection for your face during the day.
  • Wear sunscreen on cloudy days. While you may not see the sun, its rays reflect off the clouds. 
  • Wear makeup with sunscreen in it in addition to a moisturizer with sun protection. 
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses on sunny days.
  • Wash your face in the morning and at night to remove bacteria and oils that clog pores and cause acne. 
  • Exfoliate your skin once a week.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Hydrated skin is healthy skin. 
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Moisturize your skin daily so the summer heat doesn't cause dryness.
  • Use products like vitamin C serums and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin clear and moisturized.

Vitamin C Serums and Hyaluronic Acids to Consider

I've been playing around with vitamin C serums and hyaluronic acids this summer. They are now a must-have in my skin care arsenal. A couple that I recently tried are those by Foxbrim and Day by Day.

Vitamin C serums helps:

  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and wrinkles on your face
  • Brighten your skin
  • Improve skin tone and your complexion
  • Shrink pores
  • Calm inflammation

Hyaluronic acid helps:

  • Your skin absorb the nutrients in your facial moisturizer
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Combat skin oxidation with antioxidants
  • Increase collagen production in the skin
  • Firm your skin
The Vitamin C Serum by Day by Day is an eco-friendly product that comes with a pump. I like pumps in lieu of droppers with my skin care products because it reduces the amount of bacteria in the bottle. It contains some vitamin E and hyaluronic acid for added skin boosts. I liked that it's safe for sensitive skin like mine.

The Day by Day Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a plant-based product infused with vitamin C that also comes in a bottle with a pump. The acid contains certified organic ingredients and is safe for sensitive skin.

The Foxbrim Vitamin C Serum is safe for sensitive skin and contains hyaluronic acid, an amino complex and natural ingredients. Foxbrim is the same company that makes an eye cream that I enjoy and use daily. While I found the Day by Day vitamin C serum beneficial, I prefer Foxbrim's product because it absorbed into my skin faster and kept my complexion clearer.

Like Day by Day's product, the Foxbrim Hyaluronic Acid Serum is plant-based. It also includes ingredients like vitamins E and C, jojoba oil, green tea and MSM. I couldn't tell a difference between the two hyaluronic acids that I tried because they both worked equally well. After a couple months of using this type of acid on my face, I have noticed some subtle differences.

While I liked Day by Day's packaging better, I prefer Foxbrim's serums. To use them with your summer skin care routine:
  1. Wash your face. 
  2. Apply a couple drops of hyaluronic acid to your face. 
  3. Apply a couple of drops of vitamin C serum to your face.
  4. Allow the serums to dry. 
  5. Moisturize your face (use SPF during the day).

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dollar Store Gardening Idea with Succulents

Toward the end of May, I went to a dollar store to buy some plastic liners for my planters. While I didn't find any liners, I found these cute guys (see the pictures below).

You're supposed to grow grass seeds out of the tops of their heads, but I removed the seed pods, filled up the bodies with dirt and planted small sempervivum succulents (hens and chicks).

I don't usually like head planters, but I think these guys look great. 

I water them using a spray bottle and spray streams (not mists) of water into the openings around the bottom of the plants. The bottom of the planters are porous, so I can also leave them in a tray of water for about an hour to soak the dirt. 

What cool items have you used as planters? What kind of succulents do you use? 

P.S. I tried to grow the grass seeds in a separate pot for my cat. They never sprouted. 

Help for Night Blindness

I received the following product in exchange for my honest review.

I am almost totally blind in the dark, at least for the first 5 to 10 minutes. The eye doctor says that this problem stems from my eyes not adjusting to light conditions and focusing as quickly as they should. So, I've learned to compensate by having small lights that I can use near me. For example, I :
  • Carry a small flashlight on my key chain.
  • Use a small light in my room when I need to get up at night.
  • Use a bright night light in the bathroom at night so I don't have to turn on the main light.
  • Use the flashlight on my cell phone...a lot.
When Lumen X offered the chance to try its EZ Grip Bike Light , I jumped on the chance because of its cool, simple design and the practicality it offers.

About the EZ Grip Bike Light

The package of bicycle lights comes with two LED lights, one that's white and another that's red. The outer casing is made from water-resistant silicone that stretches. To mount the light on a bike, you:
  • Hold the light in place, in the direction you want it to face.
  • Stretch the band around handle bar, frame tube or seat post. 
  • Secure the band to the lip at the front of the light. 
To use the light on or off, you push on the top.

My Review

In addition to using the EZ Grip light for my bike, I found that the light is simple to secure around my husband's forearm crutch, which he uses in place of a cane. The light comes in handy when we walk around outside in the evening or at night. He uses the red light so cars can see him. While other bicycle lights have worked well on the crutch, the EZ Grip light has the added benefit that it weighs next to nothing.

I've found that I enjoy using the white light on my purse at night. I simply secure it to the strap, toward the front of the accessory, so I can see in front of me hands-free when it's dark outside.

I also like that I can replace the batteries in the lights when they die, so I don't have to buy another set. I won't have to worry about that for a while because the battery lasts up to 25 hours when you use the standard light, or up to 130 hours when you use the flashing feature.

What to Do if You are Night Blind

If you have night blindness, I recommend that you carry a small flashlight, like the EZ Grip light. My other recommendations include (keep in mind that I am not a doctor):
  • Talking to an optometrist about the problem.
  • Wearing sunglasses during the day when you're outside to protect your eyes.
  • Eating a balanced diet so you are not nutrient-deficient.
  • Making sure the headlamps on your car are clean if you're driving.
  • Letting someone else drive at night, especially if it's raining.
Check out this article from Harvard Medical School to learn more about night blindness.

You can find the EZ Grip Bike Light for sale on

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hair Salon Products at Home (+Discount Codes)

I received the following product in exchange for my honest review. 

I love the way hair products from salons smell, feel and work. They're like magic potions. Since I've been experimenting with argan oil in my hair, I wanted to see how the HSI Professional Argan Oil leave-in treatment worked.

About HSI Professional's Argan Oil

HSI Professional claims that its argan oil is "Moroccan 'liquid gold'" and "magic in a bottle."Its product's goal is to leave you with shiny, smooth and healthy hair. You can use the product as a leave-in conditioner or as a serum that protects your hair before using a hot styling product, like a straightener, blow dryer or curling iron.

The argan oil is good for all hair types and HSI Professional claims that it helps tame frizz.

My Experience

I like how the hair treatment smells. When I use it, the smell makes me feel as if I just got my hair done at a professional salon. 

It's important to note that while the bottle says "HSI Professional Argan Oil," the box is more accurate with its label, "Leave-In Hair Treatment with Argan Oil." Like other hair products, this one has ingredients that start with benzyl, butyl..., hexyl and amyl. This serum is not 100 percent argan oil. Argan oil is the third ingredient. 

The first time I tried the hair product, I used it as a leave-in conditioner without any other hair products. While my hair felt soft, the serum didn't tame the frizz in my hair as well as I had hoped it would.

The second time I tried it, I applied the serum to my hair before using hair gel. This combination left my curly hair frizz-free, shiny and soft.

My biggest complaint about the product is the bottle in which it comes. It doesn't come with a pump, so I have to pour the thin serum into my hand.

If you're looking for a product that offers the benefits of argan oil, I recommend that you shop for something that is pure argan oil. If you're looking for something that protects your hair, the HSI Professional serum works well. 

The HSI Professional Leave-In Hair Treatment with Argan Oil comes in a 2-ounce and 4-ounce bottle. If you'd like to try it, HSI Professional is offering the following discounts:
  • TBargan2: 50% off the 2-ounce bottle
  • TBargan4: 60% off the 4-ounce bottle
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Debunking Myths about Bone Marrow Donation

When I talk to people or post online about registering to become a bone marrow donor, many are at first hesitant to take action. The reason for their hesitation is due to assumptions they make and the lack of information about the process. They say that ignorance is bliss. When it comes to registering to become a donor, ignorance may deny you the chance to save a life.

The Truth about Bone Marrow Registration and Donation

Myth: Someone else will do it.
Fact: Unlike blood donations, you may be the only person in the world who is a match for a patient in need. A "someone else will do it" attitude is dangerous.

Myth: Donating bone marrow will leave me with a hole in my bone.
Fact: Doctors today rarely puncture the bone to collect bone marrow. If there is a need for such a procedure, they collect the blood inside the bone because it's rich with stem cells. If you are called to donate, the procedure will most likely be similar to donating blood or plasma .

Myth: I need my bone marrow and stem cells.
Fact: While you do need bone marrow and stem cells, your body will replenish any that you donate, just like blood.

Myth: Signing up to be a donor is painful and complicated.
Fact: Registering to become a donor through Be the Match is as simple as answering a few health-related questions and rubbing some cotton swabs along the inside of your cheek. The process takes less than 5 minutes.

Myth: Registering as a donor involves needles.
Fact: It does not.

Myth: Donating is painful.
Fact: The level of discomfort that you may feel when you donate is negligible. Some donors don't report any pain at all. If you decide to donate your newborn's umbilical cord blood, your baby will not feel any pain at all.

Myth: I'm too busy to help.
Fact: If you have time to stand in line for coffee, you have time to register as a donor. If you are called to donate, the process takes between three to six days (most are partial days), depending on the procedure.  

Myth: I can't sign up to become a bone marrow donor because I just donated blood.
Fact: You don't need to provide a blood sample when you register to become a bone marrow donor. 

Myth: You need the right blood type to sign up to be a donor or to donate.
Fact: Your blood type does not matter when it comes to donating bone marrow/stem cells or registering to donate. Instead, doctors look at the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in your DNA. 

Myth: Being a donor is expensive. I can't afford to take time off work.
Fact: Donors never pay to donate. In fact, some states require employers to provide paid donor leave. You may also be eligible for state tax deductions or income tax credits. Learn more here.

Myth: I'm going to get called to donate as soon as I register.
Fact: This rarely happens. Your chances of getting called to donate at any time in your life are about 1 in 500 (0.002 percent). 

Myth: A bone marrow transplant is like an organ transplant.
Fact: In many ways, the procedure is much simpler for the donor since it is often similar to donating blood and you don't risk your life. For the patient, however, the process of finding an HLA match can be more difficult than finding an organ donor.