Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Cosmo Vox Box

So, thanks to Being Zhenya, I recently got hooked on Influenster, which lets me review different products, which we all know I love. They recently sent me a Cosmo Vox Box filled with products to try out. Yes, I received these things for free, but my opinions are all my own. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing

  • FriXion by Pilot Pen
  • Ghiradelli Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape
  • Gillette Venus Embrace AND Venus & Olay Razor

In addition, Zhenya will be helping me out by reviewing Forever Red Eau de Parfume by Bath & Body Works. While I love free products, I do not love migraines so she’ll be letting y’all know how fabulous she smells.

Cosmo Vox Box

And if you’re interested in trying out Influenster for yourself, let me know and I can invite you!

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Filed under Health and Beauty, School, Splurges, Style

Health Care

While I fail to fulfill the geek stereotype of needing glasses (better than 20/20 vision!), I definitely suffer from allergies. Since moving to this area, I deal with sinus headaches from spring through fall. Normally I ignore them or use my Neti pot (gross but effective) and a combination of OTC pain killers and sinus medicine. Recently those headaches have intensified, and I was spending a dollar a day on Claritin, pseudofed and/or painkillers. I figured there had to be a cheaper way to deal with this, so last week I made an appointment with my doctor.

I’m lucky in that most people of my income level in the US don’t have health insurance, or insurance as good as mine. I’m not saying this is the best policy I’ve ever had, but as a student I have no copays at the student health center and all prescriptions are $5. Plus, I can always make an appointment the same day.

My doctor spent 30 minutes with me and came to the same conclusion I did: that I suffer from seasonal allergies. She wrote me a prescription, which I picked up downstairs and cost me a whopping $5, and I have a year’s worth of refills. Within 12 hours, the headache was gone and I can wake up in the morning without immediately having to blow my nose (sexy, huh?).

If I didn’t have this great coverage I’d still be dealing with a daily headache, which could cut way back on my productivity, or be paying $1 every day for OTCs, which adds up quickly.

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Simplify My Life

Last week, I got a box of books from Freecycle. When I got them home, I was confronted with the reality that my bookcases are all stacked two deep as it is. I looked around my guest room and realized that it was just overflowing with stuff. Things spilling out of the closet, stacked on the floor. And honestly, that’s true of all rooms in my house. That’s due in large part to the fact that I’m a bit messy to begin with, but wouldn’t it be easier to be clean if I just didn’t have so much stuff to begin with?

The fact is, like many other people, I associate possessions with comfort and security. At first, it makes me feel good to contemplate the shelves full of books, the closets full of clothes, the pantry overflowing with food. But the messy of just stacks of books is stressful, I still constantly think I have nothing to wear, and food gets lost in the abyss of my pantry, never to be eaten. And yet I still tell myself, “I can’t get rid of that! I paid good money for this specific item and even though I never use it, maybe I will someday!”

So, now I’m shedding that attitude. I’m telling myself that once the money was spent, the book, shirt, or jar of barbecue sauce is mine to do with as I want, even get rid of. And if I clear out the stuff that I don’t want or use, then maybe I’ll actually see and remember the things I do like and use them more often. It’s time to start simplifying.

I’m going to be tackling a single room in my house every month. Once a week, I’ll give myself a particular task in that room, no more, no less. If the month ends without a room being perfect, that’s ok, I’ll just cycle back to it.

During the month of July, I’m confronting my guest bedroom/office, which would be better named “the island of misfit junk.” This week, I sorted through my bookshelves. I pulled out a pile of books that I disliked, that I was eh about, or don’t have much merit in rereading (translation: trashy romance novels). I then ran them through Amazon’s trade-in program, and packed a box to ship to them (for free!) in exchange for Amazon credit. The other much larger box got posted on Freecycle and was picked up by a woman who volunteers at an assisted living facility. Of course to even get to my bookshelves I had to move a hot water heater blanket that doesn’t work for my heater, but I took out of the packaging, and a digital converter box for picking up local channels. Both of those also got posted on Freecycle, and were claimed within an hour (!) and picked up within 24.

Wish me luck!

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Filed under Health and Beauty, Simplify

A Slight Addiction

Hi internet readers! My name is Mary and I am an addict. I can’t seem to get enough skincare samples.

I was really proud of myself for making a huge dent in my enormous collection of products, which I’ve been tracking in the I Complete you Challenge. It seemed like there was light at the end of the tunnel. (Except for soap: when the apocalypse comes, I’ll have enough soap to keep my army cockroaches clean for decades.) Then there was a listing on Freecycle this week giving away a bunch of skincare samples.

Now there are a dozen or so more products to add to my I Complete You list. But before you scold me, at least they were all free! And they’re small so I can keep them in my gym locker. Clearly this was a well thought out decision.

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DIY Composting

I’ve mentioned here several times how much I love my garden. It’s a small one, actually a series of glorified flowerbeds, but I love to make things grow. I mostly plant herbs since they’re pretty and edible, and since I prefer to keep my life as organic as possible, I like to use compost to enrich my topsoil and act as a mulch layer. But, organic compost is expensive, so last year I set out to figure out how to make my own compost and in a small space.

There are a few small composters available commercially, but I didn’t want to spend $100 on a plastic contraption, so I hit my beloved Google. I found a how-to for making your own apartment-sized composter, which sounded about right for my condo and its flowerbeds. So, far it’s held up really well, and has made more than enough compost for my garden.

I throw in there all my vegetable scraps from cooking, egg shells, tea leaves, coffee grounds, paper towels; the list goes on and on. The only food waste that can’t go in there is meat (which I don’t eat) and dairy. To balance the moisture of food or “green” waste, experts recommend adding “brown” waste. Since I don’t have dried leaves or pine needles, I throw in shredded junk mail and old bills: any non-glossy paper without colored ink. Every week or so, I turn it over with a shovel, and I haven’t had a problem with smell yet.

Small Composter How-To:

  • 1 large plastic bin with lid (like this one)
  • power drill
  • 1 extra bin lid (optional)
  • 3-4 bricks (optional)

Drill holes through the base of the bin, and along the bottom half of the sides of the bin. If you’re planning on leaving it on a patio or balcony (anyplace without drainage), place the extra lid on the pavement upside down, set the bricks on lid, then set the bin on top of that, to provide space, and a catch basin, for any drainage. Keep the composter covered with original lid.

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Filed under DIY, Going Green, Health and Beauty

Homemade Deodorant, Updated

All right, y’all, I’m willing to admit when things don’t go exactly as planned. The homemade deodorant I made? It gave me a rash. And rash arm pits really aren’t very fun. I did some googling and determined that other people with sensitive skin have had the same reaction to that recipe, since the baking soda can be a little harsh. They recommended going half and half with cornstarch and baking soda. I didn’t have any cornstarch in my pantry, since I generally hate to cook with it, but I did have baby powder, which these days is mostly made of cornstarch. Apparently cornstarch (or baby powder!) is gentler than baking soda, and actually helps to absorb the moisture while the baking soda eliminates any odor. Also, if you have tea tree oil on hand, it can act as an antibacterial, though the smell is a little medicine-y to me. I’ve been using this new recipe for a month so I can wholeheartedly endorse it to y’all. It keeps me dry and smell- and rash-free. Finally, with the newly arrived hot weather, once the temperature in my apartment hit 80, I opened the container to find deodorant soup, so I’ve moved it to my refrigerator. Now it feels nice and cool and refreshing to apply in the mornings.

(P.S. Since my camera is still AWOL and my phone is refusing to talk to my computer, I’m attempting to take pictures with my webcam. Please bear with my experiment.)

Homemade Deodorant

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cornstarch or baby powder
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • few drops essential oil

Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Mix in baking soda, baby powder, and essential oils. Pour mixture into a tin or jar and allow to set overnight. In the morning, rub a little onto your fingers, swipe under your arms, then rinse your fingers off.


Filed under DIY, Health and Beauty

The Cold that Never Ends

I have had a cold that has lingered for over 2 weeks now, which is so not cool. In addition to the sheer discomfort of the stuffy head, sneezing and coughing, and the frustration from missed days at work, it has demolished my $20 “Health & Beauty” budget for the month. I started off the month buying my annual $10 bottle of vitamins from Costco. Then there was some Airborne to deal with the initial sore throat ($8), Zicam when I started sneezing ($12), 3 boxes of tissues to deal with the nonstop sneezing and running nose ($8), then 2 more of the fancy Puffs Plus when my face got raw ($4), and finally, Vick’s Vapo-Rub for those nights when I couldn’t stop coughing ($8). Thank goodness I already had a good stock of cough and cold medicines, otherwise I would’ve been on the hook for Sudafed, Tylenol, Robitussin and cough drops in addition to everything else. Hopefully next month all the OTCs will go on sale so I can replenish my medicine cabinet.

January Health & Beauty Budget: $20

What I actually spent: $50

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