Saturday, December 27, 2014

DIY: Whipped Shea Butter That Smells Like Cake Frosting

I've been on a tight budget lately, so I got a little creative with my Christmas gifts this year. Instead of buying gifts, I opted to make a batch of Whipped Shea Butter for my family.

Most of the ingredients I already owned which made it economical for me. If you don't have most of these items, I would not suggest you run out to get them because it can really add up. Besides, you can make whipped Shea butter with just the Shea butter and Coconut oil and whatever fragrance you want.

Feel free to make this recipe your own. Play with the ratios until you get the consistency that you want.

1 lb Raw Shea butter (ivory).
.75 lb Extra Virgin Coconut oil
.25 lb Raw Cocoa butter
.25 lb Raw Mango butter
1/4 cup Aloe Vera juice
4 tbs Jojoba oil
4 tbs Sweet Almond oil
4 tbs Grape seed oil
4 tbs Jamaican black Castor oil
3 oz. Sugar cookies fragrance (from a soap making company, so it's safe for skin).
15 drops Jasmine essential oil
10 drops Vanilla essential oil

♥ Boil water in a large pot

♥ In a metal mixing bowl add the following: Shea butter, Coco butter, Mango butter.

♥ Using the double boiler method, put the mixing bowl over the boiling water to melt the butters

♥ Removed mixing bowl from boiling water and add everything except the fragrance and essential oils

♥ Allow the mix to cool until the mixture gets cloudy. This indicates that it's starting to solidify again, but don't allow it to become solid.

♥ Add the fragrance & the essential oils.

♥ Using a blender or a mixer, whip the butter until it's fluffy.

How To Use
You can use this on your hair or your skin. I prefer to use it on my skin, especially during these cold & dry winter months.

Apply on clean damp skin. Put your pajamas on and allow the mixture to condition your skin over night. Avoid getting oil on fabrics by placing a barrier (pj's, socks, etc.) between you and your sheets.

*** Please note, I have no affiliation with the companies linked in this post. I am only a customer and I'm sharing what I've used. If you decided to use their products, please contact the company with any discrepancies you might have. I had a positive experience and I hope you do too.***

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is This Product Worth The Frustration Of Working For It?

The rate at which I've been saving money lately is ridiculous. I've always been a saver, but this is like saving on steroids and it's not easy. I'm trying to avoid dealing with Sallie Mae as much as possible. The problem is, I really like to reward myself with stuff, usually makeup... especially lipstick. When I think to myself, "Do I deserve this _____?" The answer will always be "YES", so I had to change the question.

While sitting at my desk, I'll browse the internet for "stuff" that I want to purchase. I'll even put it in my cart so that I can see the shipping & handling fees. I look at the final cost and then I wait. I sit there and I wait for something frustrating to happen at work.

Sometimes the wait is long, other times it's not long before something frustrating happens. It's at this moment that I go back to my shopping cart and ask myself a different question. "Is this ____ worth 2-3 hours of this frustration?" The answer to that is usually "No".

I never ask myself, "Is this worth 1-hour of my time?" and here's why. In order to get to work, I've got to invest in gas for my car and a ticket on the Metro North. That cost money. So, if I want to purchase anything, it's going to cost me money to get to work & the money I make while at work.

I've also been thinking, instead of paying me in currency, how would I feel if at the end of a 2 hours of work, I was handed my shopping cart items. How would I feel happy about that exchange?  Is that ____ still worth it to me? By changing the question and ultimately my thinking, I've felt no way about not engaging in retail therapy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Don't Give Up After A Bad Exam

Last week, I took my first Anatomy and Physiology exam. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. I was literally shaking as I walked into the lecture hall. This class is a bit special because the admission team will be specifically looking at my A&P I and II grades on their own. Additionally, this is the first time my exam didn't come strictly out of our textbook.

My professor is covering material above and beyond what is in our textbook, 70% of the material was from our book, the other 30% will come from her lectures and she doesn't allow you to record her lectures You've got to keep up with your notes. This is my first time dealing with a professor that taught like that. That's why I was so nervous going into the exam. Suppose I missed something during her lecture? For the first time ever, I had to pair up with another student.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wet n Wild - So Berry On Trend Nail Polish

I added a top coat to make it shiny, but the original color is matte. This is such a beautiful color, especially for Fall / Winter season.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lift Your Spirits With Flowers

I don't know what the deal was with me this morning, but I didn't wake up feeling my best. My disposition got back on track when I came home and saw these beautiful flowers purchased from Trader Joe's earlier this week. I'm on a serious budget right now, so at $3.99 these fresh cut flowers were in my price range.

I'm still trying to put my house together in terms of furniture, so in the interim, these flowers added warmth to my home that really uplifted my spirits.

It's the little things that gets ya every time, isn't it?

Make sure to purchase a bunch of flowers that are still inside their bulbs, so that you can enjoy the full bloom as long as possible.

I added some water beads/crystals to plain hurricane vase to give it some much needed character. You can get them in a variety of colors.

Seeing that my couch is neutral, adding flowers gives the room much needed color.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Outfit Of The Day: Reversible Sari Wrap Skirt

I picked up this wrap skirt at a street fair a few years ago. It's easily one of my favorite items. Just add a white cami, few accessories, and I'm good to go.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Staycation Extraordinaire

It's no secret that I've been saving money like crazy because I'm paying for my education out of pocket. Before the Fall semester starts, I wanted to take some time off just to relax. I felt absolutely no sadness that I couldn't afford an elaborate vacation. I've got something I'm trying to accomplish and I'm focused on getting there.

Hubby and I decided to enjoy activities around town and within driving distance. People come from all over the world to visit New York City so why not take advantage of the fact that we're so close. It's funny how when you're on that daily grind you forget about some of the wonderful things that surround you. Below are a few pics of my relaxing stay-cation (Stay-at-home vacation) just in case you're not familiar with the phrase.

Food Festival

Our first stop was Brooklyn's Smorgasburg Food Festival. I didn't take any pictures but I was so happy to see a Bajan food truck. You know I had to stop by and get some fish cakes, which I haven't been able to get living here in CT. The great thing about this food festival is the variety of food is excellent. If you are a foodie, I recommend that you get there early because some of the lines were long.
Photo from Mr. Cutters Facebook Page

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On Camera Flash As A Fill Flash

Natural lighting is the best lighting, most of the time. Very bright, high noon day sun can create unsightly raccoon eyes on your subject. In the image below, I'm wearing a sun hat which is great for protection against the sun, but it also casts a dark shadow on my face.

Using the camera's flash, you can fill in the shadows on my face without change the background drastically. When doing this, remember to keep your flash on a low setting or the background will become darker.

Left side: Without a flash. Right side: With the flash on

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Making This House A Home

It has been over 7 years since we've moved into our house and I still haven't purchased furniture yet. Hubby and I utilized the furniture we had from our separate apartments and made it work, until I got rid of it.

A few years ago, I was hell bent on selling the house to pursue (another story for another time). I got rid of all our old worn out furniture and kept the essentials. Unfortunately the housing market wasn't in my favor. The house didn't sell in the time frame I needed. That was 2 summers ago and we've been living in a mostly empty house since then.

What Took So Long?
For the past few years, I've been unsure about the future. I wasn't sure we'd stay in Connecticut. I only knew that I love my husband and we'd figure it out together. But I realized, no one knows the future and it's silly to keep paying a full mortgage while utilizing only part of the house. A change is needed.

Our previous furniture didn't compliment the space very well. If you sat on a particular couch, you couldn't see the television because it was blocked by another couch. This time around we took measurements and we're purchasing pieces that will compliment the room's design.

I'm taking advantage of holiday sales and 0% interest free offers. It's important to me to get pieces that we really want so my strategy is to make a purchase and pay for it before buying another major piece. I hate having a lot of outstanding debt so this strategy works for my purse and for my sanity.

Our New Couch
We choose this sofa and loveseat for a few reasons. 1) It has a tall back that supports our heads and deep cushions that support our entire upper thigh without fall off. 2) Microfiber is easy to clean and the cushions are incredibly soft. 3) It was on sale and within our budget.

I still need a television, chairs, a coffee table, decor items, and much more but at least this is a start. I'm excited to see how everything will come together.

Briarwood Microfiber Sofa from Raymour & Flanigan

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ace Your Next Science Exam With These Strategies

Not cute in this pic? I don't care.
I just scored a 90 on my
Microbiology exam. Booyah!
I really enjoy concise summer sessions, but the flip side is that they are very intense. I just wrapped up Microbiology which was taught as a hybrid course. Hybrid courses meet for lab only, you are responsible for learning the lecture material on your own. It's not hard to understand, but there is a lot of information to learn, memorize, and there's isn't a lot of time to do it all. Time management is essential if you want to do well. Now that it's over, I'm very happy I sacrificed the time to get this out of the way. Here are a few tools I utilized to study.

If you use flashcards, you're really going to like this site. You can create digital flash cards that automatically sync across all your devices. Not to mention, you don't have to walk around with a stack of cards. This free app allowed me to study anywhere I was able carry my cell phone.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Outfit Of The Day: Town Fair

Now that Summer classes are over, I've been having a hard time winding down. Going to work and school is not easy. Now that I don't have to worry about school for the next few weeks, I decided to get out of the house and have a little fun.

Hubby and I went to the Orange town fair held by the volunteer Fire Department. Parking and entrance was in my price, thank you. The weather was perfectly comfortable. Even though I ate way too much junk food, I still felt cute in my super inexpensive OOTD.

♥ Earrings by Toni Daley. ♥ T-Shirt by The Gap. ♥ Shorts by Forever XXI. ♥ Sandals custom made by a Rastafarian in Barbados (gifted). ♥ Bag by baggallini (gifted).
♥♥♥ Camera: Nikon D200. Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm set to automatic.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All That Matters When I'm Gone

At my grandmother's funeral, I saw many family members that I haven't seen in a long time. "Where are your children?", many asked because being 38 and married, it's assumed that I should have some babies by now. My Uncle Lloyd said to me, "You've got to have at least a little girl, she will take care of you when you are old".

Fast forward to this past Thursday morning, riding the Metro North train to work, I decided to listen to my favorite entertainer of all time, Michael Jackson. I've been studying for my next Microbiology exam and needed a break and some inspiration. Michael's "Keep the Faith" and "Man in the Mirror" always get me back on track.

As I was watching a performance of Man in the Mirror on YouTube, I thought, I can't believe he's not here anymore. I've never met him but it feels like I've known him my entire life. Unfortunately, Michael is gone but his music lives on and I'm sitting here on the Metro North being inspired by it. What will my life's work say about me?

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Pseudo-Sister

A day after coming home from church
I'm on the right.
They say you don't get to choose your family but that's not completely true. You see, I have an older sister, but she's not really my sister because she chooses not to be.

I know of her, but I don't know her. We used to live together but now I don't where she lives. I don't know her phone number, I don't know her husband and neither do I know any of her children, or even how many children she has.

What I Do Know
From what I've been told, my father was married to her mother and they had a child. They got divorce. My father re-married to my mother and had my brother and I.
At the airport in Barbados
My brother is on her hip and I'm on the right.

The Day I Met Her
It's funny how you can remember certain events regardless of how many years have gone by. We were living in The Bronx at the time and the movie Superman was premiering on television. Just a few minutes before the movie started, my Dad came through the door with this beautiful, dark-skinned, skinny girl. Her eyes were pinched in the corners like an Asian and her skin was silky smooth. She wore a scarf on her head and a band-aid under her eye. That first night, we all sat in the living room watching Superman on our floor stand wooden television.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ASN vs BSN: What's The Right Path for this Pre-Nursing Student?

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both pathways and I'll become a Registered Nurse either way, but what's the difference between a Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) vs Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) pathway? Most importantly, what's the best pathways for me?

My Situation
First, I already have a BA in English Literature. Secondly, my goal is to get a Master's therefore, I need to get a BSN in order to get into a Master's Program. Lastly, I have a mortgage and all the bills associated with home ownership.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How I Survived Chemistry

Now that I've received my final grade, I need to discuss what has been the worst semester thus far. I purposefully waited until I passed the class because even though I received an A, I had to do a lot of self study to earn it.

Additionally, when someone doesn't do well in class, there's the perception that the student didn't try hard enough. The professor's voice frequently overshadows the student and that's not always fair. Professors are experts in their field of study but some lack the ability to teach well.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wine and Easel Class

Now that Chemistry class is behind me, I was able to spend some free time doing something that I've never done before... Paint! Hubby found a Wine & Easel class that only required us to bring our own bottle.

Many of you are familiar with deals from Groupon, which are great if you live in a city. I live in a very small town in Connecticut and Groupon's suggestions were mainly for activities in New York City, New Haven, and Hartford. Even though, I was born in NYC, I avoid going there as much as possible. I'm just not a city girl. I prefer to stay local, so I was happy to discovered Amazon Local because it functions just like Groupon, but caters to a much more localized area.

Our group included a few couples and a group a girlfriends that enjoyed the evening together. With activities like this, make sure you hang with someone that's outgoing and fun.

You can check out my "masterpiece" below. I'm so tempted to continue painting on my own, but with Microbiology just 2 weeks away, I know I won't have time.

Check out Amazon Local and see what deal and activities are available in our area.

Be sure to drink responsibility and/or have a designated driver.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What To Do When You're Stuck With a Bad Professor

So far most of my professors have been great, but it was bound to happen. You run into that one professor that's arrogant, condescending, and goes way off topic when answering a question.

This semester, I finally ran into my worst professor ever. I won't waste time describing why he's horrible. You guys know me, I'm focused on "what can I do to get through this?

I am the only thing I can control. I can't allow his inadequacies as a teacher to translate into a poor grade on my transcript. When reviewing my transcript, my inadequacies are scrutinized, so that's what I'm focused on. Lucky for me, the Internet is real. So, here's what I've been doing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mid-Semester Exhaustion

This semester, I'm only allowed to take 1 course: Concepts of Chemistry. I've been blowing through the other prerequisites so quickly, this is the last one needed before I can take 200 level courses. So far, everything is going well with the one exception... I am constantly sleepy.

I'm starting to wonder if the concentrated Winter session has caught up to me or is this something I should be concerned about? I understand the material thus far, and as per usual, I'm 1 chapter ahead of our class. While I'm in class, I'm excited about what I'm learning but as soon as I have a space available to relax, all I want to do is sleep. After I finish my homework, I sleep. Once I've read the next chapter, I sleep. The cycle continues until some ungodly hour in the night when I'm wide awake and surfing the Internet and watching YouTube videos.

Learning is biologically taxing on the body, that's the truth BUT, I have to push forward. I know what this means to me, therefore I make sure to take care of my business first and then reward myself with a nap afterward. At first I felt guilty about taking so many naps. I take pride in being a workaholic (another dumb concept that I need to rid myself of, because life is about balance) but this time I'm going to do something different, I'm going to listen to my body.

What am I doing about it?
Instead of going asleep in the midnight hours on the weekend, I'm going to try to make it to bed before midnight and get up by 8 a.m. I think a regular schedule would prove beneficial to my internal clock.

I've got back into the habit of taking a multi-vitamin once a day.

Drink more water.

Find time to exercise again.

If that doesn't work, then what?
I'll see my doctor. It's pretty much that simple. Until then, I've got to keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1 Year After Myomectomy Surgery

It's been over a year since I've had my myomectomy surgery. Many of you have reached out to me, shared your personal stories with me, and have been curious about the long-term recovery process. Once again, what I share on this blog is my experience. I am not a physician. Your experience could be totally different that what I'm about to describe. That being said, here's the deal...

My Surgery took place October 12. I was home for 7 weeks and I went back to work on December 3.

Energy and Exercising
It took a few months for my energy level to return to pre-surgery levels. There were times I felt okay to take on a task but quickly realize that my energy was spent. I didn't force myself. I listened to my body and took it easy on myself. By the time Spring arrived, I was in the gym lifting weights and exercising with no problem. With a surgery like this, you abs are going to be weakened. I started off with light yoga and progressed to more intense ab work, which included squats and dead lifts.

These were taken July 2013, 9 months after surgery

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Surviving a Concentrated Winter Intersession Course

Taking a car nap in my car
The past 3 weeks for me have been intense. In addition to working, I took 2 concentrated courses: English Literature and Public Speaking. It's the day after finals and I still have a lingering headache BUT... I did it. In 3 weeks, I completed 2 classes equaling 6 credits. Now that both classes are complete, here's how I managed to survive it all.

Where did I find the time to do this, don't you have a full-time job?
I used my remaining PTO (Paid Time Off) hours to take Public Speaking in the morning, held Mon - Fri from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. The English Lit class was online. Driving from school to work only took 1/2 hour so I had time for traffic jams which thankfully I didn't have to worry about.


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