LiveJournal vs Blogging

I’ve been afraid to write here lately mostly because, well, I haven’t been writing here. I have a secret: I’ve been cheating on my blog . . . with my other blog. I promise to be better about trying to balance my personal/private blog with this public one that showcases my love for saving money and lookin’ good.

Lessons Learned From Week One of 30 for 30

For those of you unfamiliar with 30 for 30, it is a challenge started by Kendi Everyday where participants pick only thirty items to wear for the whole month. To add to the pain, you cannot shop for yourself.

-I’ve cheated and bought The Hills on DVD, though nothing else really “for me.”

-I picked out the wrong shirts for under clothes and had to add in one more tank top with a higher cut neckline.

+Having less clothes makes dressing in the morning so easy. It used to be my rule that I could only try on two outfits for work and had to pick one. Now I usually go with my first choice, leaving time for other morning activities like spending time with the pets or putting on makeup.

+Less laundry to do and I can wash more things by hand thus saving me money at the laundry mat!

-I’ve noticed I need to replace most of my jeans, as they are all one to two sizes to big and I hate wearing belts.

Overall, not a bad first week! I promise to be a faithful fashion blogger from now on!

Aromatherapaes De-Stress Spa Shower Tablet Review

As a shower person, I am quite jealous of the different bubble baths, salts and bath bombs available to bath fanatics. I tried Aromatherapaes De-Stress Spa Shower tablets with the hopes that I would get the opportunity to indulge in some bath-esque relaxation. The results were mixed.

The tablets are comprised of neroli and chamomile oils, which help reduce anxiety and soothe tension, according to Smith and Vandiver, the manufacturer. This product is certified 100% all natural by the Natural Products Association, vegan and not tested on animals. The product retails for $5.99 for 6 tablets. While Smith and Vandiver says they are available online, there is currently no webpage for them. Their products are also sold in grocery and drug stores as well as specialty and natural stores.

Aromatherapaes tablets can be used three ways in three ways. The first is while showering by placing the tablet on a shelf or floor out of the direct stream of water. I’m a quick showerer so I found that the tablets did not dissolve before the shower was over. It would seem logical to leave the unused tablet in the shower for next time, but I found the smell to become overpowering and unpleasant after a few hours. I use Neutragena’s T-Gel shampoo, which has an extremely strong scent, which overpowered the tablets. I would recommend using these tablets for an occasion where you do not plan to use other strong scents.

It’s second described use is “tossing” the tablet into a basin of warm water and inhaling. Though I have never tried aromatherapy before, I was almost shocked at how well this method worked. I was having a stressful day and did genuinely feel more relaxed after inhaling the Aromatherapaes. Make sure not to place your face too close as the smell is quite strong. I sat the the bowl in my lap, which worked perfectly.

The final use is to place the tablet underneath your pill or on your nightstand while sleeping. I can’t say whether this made me have more or less restful sleep. Since the tablets shed quite a bit, I would recommend keeping them in the wrapper and cutting a hole in the plastic.

The verdict? For the basin use alone, I recommend this product, however if you purchase it expecting a soothing bath for your shower, you’ll be disappointed. At $5.99 a box, this would make a great gift basket item for a new mom or perhaps members of a wedding party.

Disclosure: I got a sample.

What I Use to Wash My Hair

One topic I didn’t speak about in the video was the marketing and advertising done by beauty companies that make consumers feel like they must have their hair squeaky clean. If you wash your hair every day what you’re really doing is stripping the natural oils that make your hair healthy. While it may look “clean,” when you do this you’re actually making your hair less healthy. You’d be surprised how many people absolutely go bizerk when you ask them if they would consider watching their hair every other day. The most common response I’ve heard is, “No! My hair gets so oily and dirty!”

Here are the questions I answer in the video:

OThe move to do away with soap, shampoo and deodorant has been growing in popularity in the last year. What are your thoughts on this trend?

Be honest how often do you wash your own hair?

OHave you tried to go the more natural route by forgoing shampoo? What happened? Or would you be tempted to try it?

What products do you use and have you ever gone with more organic alternatives?

What about that daily shower? Would you forgo that opting to shower three times a week instead?

OTo find out more about the move toward natural beauty, here are some articles you may be interested in The Great Unwashed and When It Comes to Shampoo: Less is More

The Truth About “Organic” Cosmetics

If you’ve been to the cosmetics isle lately, you may have noticed a new trend: Organic Cosmetics. What exactly does this term mean? Is organic really better? Most importantly, is it safer for you? This conversation is part of an on-going series about makeup safety. Other posts include Is Mineral Makeup Safe?,Lipstick’s Ugly Side and They Put WHAT?! in Your Lipstick.

Little Regulation for Cosmetics

Before we jump in, it’s important to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does NOT regulate makeup. The FDA’s authority over makeup is very specific and bars the use of harmful chemicals. Sounds good right? Well, most of the chemicals that are harmful in makeup are actually byproducts and are therefore not listed on the labeling of a product. On the FDA’s official website, they clearly state that the cosmetics industry has to self regulate the safety of their products.

What Makes a Cosmetics Product “Organic?

The FDA addressed this question: There is no definition under United States law in relation to cosmetics. While no definition exists, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does regulate the process through which agricultural ingredients are certified as “organic.”

For a cosmetic product to be certified organic, it must meet USDA standards for organic production, handling, processing and labeling standards (source). To receive an organic certification, the operators that produce the organic agricultural ingredients, the handlers of these agricultural ingredients, and the manufacturer of the final product must all be certified by a USDA-accredited organic certifying agent.

PHEW! That was a lot of government jargon so let’s break it down: There is no definition of organic. Products that are certified organic must go through a rigorous process that accesses every step of production.

“Organic” Does Not Mean “Safe”

Before getting too excited, the FDA clearly states that just because a product is organic does not mean it’s safe. Plants may still contain harmful toxins and allergens.

The cosmetics company will tell you that though, right? Wrong. While companies have to list ingredients, there are still health risks associated with makeup. Since the FDA tasks the cosmetics industry with self regulation, only a very small percentage of products are actually tested for safety.

Consumer Responsibility

Luckily, there’s resources out there that can make you an informed consumer. If you take nothing else away from this post other than this you’ll be in good shape: A product is not considered organic under law unless it has a certification by the USDA on its label. This label indicates that the product has gone through the rigorous testing mentioned above. If there is no label, you cannot trust that the product is organic. Here’s the label you want to look for on a product’s label:

Another powerful resource is the Cosmetics Database, a resource developed by a non-profit focusing makeup safety. You can research various products on this site and find out if there are any health risks associated with a particular organic cosmetic product.

AOrganic isn’t organic if it doesn’t have a label. And even if it is organic, it may still be harmful to your health. Do your research before laying down your hard earned cash on products that may be toxic.

How to Foster Shelter Dogs and Cats

Despite its ups and downs, fostering dogs and cats has been an amazing and trying experience for me. I’ve transformed in ways I could never have imagined. Most importantly, fostering has introduced me to a wide variety of characters in the form of cats and dogs. I started fostering dogs in August 2009 when I moved into an apartment that allowed animals. Originally I wanted to adopt a dog but never singlehandedly cared for an animal so I wanted to “test drive” dog ownership before diving in. I quickly realized that due to my financial and work situation, a dog was not right for me therefore making fostering the perfect opportunity to interact and care for animals I could not afford.

What is “Fostering”?

Typically fostering is a volunteer opportunity in which you take an animal into your home until it is adopted permanently by another person. Typically the animal is legally owned by a shelter, though this isn’t always the case. Fostering gives a dog or cat a sense of normality as well as the time to develop social skills through interaction with other animals and people. Through this process, the shelter learns the traits of an individual animal, therefore making it more appealing to adopters.

Piper, my first foster, is a two-year-old terrier/Labrador mix

Commonly Asked Questions

One of the most common questions I get from potential adopters of my foster animals is, “Why don’t you adopt them?” Some assume that there must be something wrong with the dog that I don’t want him or her myself. My answer? It’s not my job. My job as a foster is to provide an animal with emotional stability as well as a safe and happy home until they find a permanent family. If I adopted all the animals I fostered, I would have almost ten animals—not very realistic for a girl on a budget with a 40+ hour a week job!

Tristan and Floyd, adult male cats with FIV

Of course, I would be lying to say it was easy. I fostered Tristan and Floyd for seven months and in March before someone was seriously interested in adopting them. My stomach flipped but not because of happiness. I grew to love this duo, who are opposites in every way. I had made excuses why I couldn’t adopt them and it wasn’t until one of the shelter workers asked me, “Well, why don’t you just adopt them yourself?” that I really considered it a realistic option. Without much pomp and circumstance, I signed the contracts and took my two cats home forever.

Staying Guarded

With dogs, I’ve found it much easier to keep my guard up and not get attached. In some respects it’s easy because most dogs I’ve fostered inevitably end up exhibiting quirky yet bizarre behavior.

Ashton. The Jack Russell mix, was an escape artist and got out of his crate numerous times—twice with a cone on his head.


Squirt, the pit bull puppy, though sweet was a menace to humans and animals and tried to have interspecies “relations” with my cats. With crazy behavior like that, it’s easy to let them go once they get adopted.

I do have to admit that I often choose not to attend adoption events as I have found it hard to say goodbye to the animals. Sometimes I’m judgmental of their potential adopters, who fill out a four page application and have an interview before taking an animal home. The dogs also become distracted by me and often pay me more attention than their potential family, so I just prefer not to be there when they find a home.

The best way I can tell you to get started with fostering is to utilize to research local shelters in your area. My next best advice would be to do some online research of your region and what organizations exist.

If you have more than one shelter as an option, contact them and ask questions. Does the shelter provide you with the necessary supplies like food, a crate and some toys? If not, are you willing to incur this cost? What does the shelter require of you? What is expected if the animal has to go to the vet?

Ask your friends who have animals. Every shelter is different and will have an unique reputation in your community. Find people you want to work with since you will be getting to know the shelter staff as well as you know the dogs and cats you foster. From my time fostering, I can honestly say that those who volunteer and work for shelters will be the most interesting, compassionate and opinionated people you will ever have the pleasure of knowing. Choose wisely.