life curation

New Goals for 2020

Even before COVID-19 upended our collective plans and intentions for 2020, I knew that I was taking a completely different direction than I had for the past few years.

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Every year, I focus on very tangible goals. My goals could be easily quantified, because I believe in goals being SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound – and I tied my personal value to the achievement of a SMART goal.

But now, my goals are shifting . . . And I like it. Yes, to a degree, my goals are still SMART, but they all aren’t as dynamic as before. I will always have a couple of dynamic goals (that’s my nature) but some of my other goals are more fluid, and allow me room to be gentle with myself. I’m starting to fall in love with my “new normal”, which include practices that support my emotional and mental health, and goals that focus more on who I’m being as opposed to what I’m doing.

With that in mind, here are some of my new goals for 2020:

  • Practice yoga weekly
  • Finish writing and editing two of my books
  • Complete my herbalist certification (did that earlier this week!)

Have you had a chance to revisit and rethink your goals? What direction do you think you’ll be going this year? I’d love to hear all about it!

beauty · luxury

Review: Kandi Koated Finesse Concealer

Here’s another beauty review! I have a few items that I’ve purchased over the past few months that I’m eager to review, and I’m sharing one of those products with you today.

A few months back, I was introduced to Kandi Koated Cosmetics by local entrepreneur Mesha Cousins. She was professional and it was such a treat to work with her. These cosmetics are developed and branded by Kandi Burruss, singer and reality TV star. I ordered two items from the Kandi Koated collection: a lip product (that I’ll review in a future post) and the Finesse Concealer, the subject of today’s review.

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The stunningly beautiful Kandi Burruss

I was excited to get my products quickly, and in a gorgeous package to boot! I wish I had taken a picture of the packaging: it was girly, pink, and fabulous! In any case, I quickly tried the products and was excited that they performed well and looked great. The product itself arrived in a stunning rose gold tube, and it looked very beautiful and sleek.

In the case of the concealer, however, some disclaimers are needed. Yes, this product absolutely conceals well and the shade – Mocha Deep – was flattering on my complexion. But, it’s worth noting that Mocha Deep isn’t a deep shade at all: it’s more of a dark beige/light brown hue. When it comes to brown skin, this wouldn’t be considered a very “deep” shade at all. Also, Mocha Deep isn’t available on the Kandi Koated website, though it may still be available through individual cosmetic reps (like Ms. Cousins, mentioned above).

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Swatching the product

This product isn’t super-creamy like LA Girl HD Pro Concealer. Because the formulation is a little “drier”, it is a much easier product to control, though it probably isn’t ideal for delicate undereye skin (that generally needs a creamier formulation). I used this product to sculpt my brows, and I loved the subtle highlighting effect that it creates. I apply, gently tap around the edges to blend, then set with powder. It lasts all day and looks fresh without needed touch-ups. Though I haven’t tried it yet, it would also work really well for reverse highlighting the hollows of the cheeks, as well as providing a smooth, even colored surface for the eyes.

Do I recommend this concealer? Absolutely! I love it though I didn’t think it would work that well under my eyes. I also wish that the company had more colors available, so I could see if I can get an even better color match.

Have you used any of the Kandi Koated Cosmetics products? Let me know in the comments below!

Uncategorized

This Memorial Day

As the proud daughter and niece of veterans, I believe in observing the solemnity of Memorial Day. So many have dutifully served to protect us at home. In honor of those that served but are no longer with us, let us have a beautiful, benevolent Memorial Day. Let’s continue to keep them in our minds, thoughts and (if you’re inclined) prayers.

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I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care.

health · life curation

Fibro Fridays: A Thought on Spoon Theory

Happy Friday friends! We survived another week and here’s hoping that we are all feeling great as the weekend begins.

I was just thinking about how much things have changed since my fibro diagnosis last year, as well as the concepts and terminology that has become second nature to me due to fibro. One of the most fascinating concepts that I’ve heard about is spoon theory. This principle speaks to the finite energy stores possessed by the chronically ill, as well as how easy it is to fall into an energy deficit, resulting in the inevitable “crash” phase.

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The Spoon Theory essay was written by Christine Miserandino, and I love that this simple teaching has offered such an accurate visual representation of the daily reality of chronically ill individuals. Once we have used up our energy, the results of exceeding our limitations can be devastating in the days and weeks to come. Also, it illustrates how having casual/less active days can allow us to “save up” energy for anticipated intense days.

I’ve shared this theory with friends and relatives so that they can better understand what I experience. It’s hard to describe the specific feelings that I may have each day, but I can easily tell you if I’ve used too many spoons in the previous days, or if, on a particular day, I have a lot of spoons at my disposal. It’s very useful for quantifying my energy levels on any given day.

If you really want a better understanding of chronic illness, I highly encourage you to read the Spoon Theory essay for yourself. If you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

Those are my views on Spoon Theory. I hope you all are doing well, and enjoy your weekend!

 

art · culture · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: New Orleans

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Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

I went to New Orleans in 2011, a few weeks after I got married. So, this trip was almost like a honeymoon, though we had an official honeymoon trip several months later.

I fell in love with the Big Easy, and I hope to return within the next year or so. However, I’ll be sure to visit during the cooler months: the summertime is unbearable hot! In any case, here are some of the pictures I snapped during my trip. Enjoy!

I loved seeing the street names in the sidewalk

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A souvenir shop on Canal

Fun in the French Quarter

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I wish I had a chance to go into Harrah’s, but we were having way too much fun taking in all of the sights

 

As I look through my photos, I realize this post really needs a Part 2. So look out for some additional New Orleans pictures soon.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? I’d love to hear all about it. Have a great Thursday!

beauty · life curation

The Novice Gardener’s Digital Toolkit

untitled designAs this is my first year cultivating a true flower garden, I’ve been eager to learn as much about the plants surrounding my home as I can. Sadly, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t have any nearby friends or relatives that can easily identify the bushes and trees in my yard. Desperate, I reached out to my Facebook family, and they didn’t disappoint! They made some excellent recommendations to help me get the information that I need. So, since I have some great tools at my disposal, it’s only right that I pass them along to you!

PlantSnap and PictureThis have been my constant companions over the past few weeks. I love that I can take a picture of a plant and process the picture through both apps to get a good idea of what kind of plant it is. I find that PictureThis has more reliable results than PlantSnap, but I love them both and find them very easy to use. I really enjoy the fact that the apps allow you to identify plants for free, and PlantSnap even lets you know that you can identify 25 pictures per day before a paid account is required (I’m not sure how many pictures are allowed using the free membership of PictureThis, but I imagine that the number is similar). The biggest advantage to PictureThis (other than the higher identification reliability) is that it automatically keeps a log of the pictures that you’ve submitted, so you can easy review previously identified plants within the app. For PlantSnap, you have to manually save the photos to a collection in order to retain that information.

YouTube has so many great videos for learning more about the wild plants growing near you: I simply cannot list them all! However, you can search for wild edibles by clicking here and you will find the most popular videos on the topic. Of course, you may not be interested in plants that you can eat; however, edible plants are fascinating to me, and the fact that many “weeds” are also edible and nutritious makes it a topic that I think may interest some of you, as well. As I continue exploring various YT channels, I’ll make a post in the future listing the best gardening channels that I’ve found.

Finally, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has been one of my favorite references during this growing season. Viewing the zone map and using other USDA resources has taught me a lot about what kind of zone I live in, as well as the different zones within my state.

Do you have any digital tools that you use for your garden? I’d love to hear all about them!

culture · food · international

Snack Review: Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls

While quarantined, I haven’t been enjoying takeout as much as I used to. However, I still enjoy trying new foods, especially snacks. So when I saw this food that combines two of my favorite snacks – spring rolls and Thai mango and sticky rice – I couldn’t resist. I had to try it!

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Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls were easy to prepare. The rolls had a crispy exterior after baking, and I was excited at how the texture of the baked spring roll was similar to a fried roll. I was concerned that the roll would be a tad bit soggy, but it was crispy, crunchy and delicious.

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A perfectly crisp spring roll

Now, when it comes to the filling . . . Let me qualify this by saying I’ve had many different mango and sticky rice desserts. I’ve eaten at over a dozen different Thai restaurants in different cities and I usually have my mango and sticky rice at each one. So, I feel really comfortable saying that I know what the dessert should taste like. This interior was not as tasty as I’d hoped. It was especially chewy, and the mango flavoring wasn’t as prominent as I’d like. So the filling wasn’t as delightful as the exterior, unfortunately.

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The interior wasn’t as tasty as I hoped

Here’s the rub: I was looking forward to the filling more than the outside, yet the outside was the best part of the snack. But, I don’t think that this product is a complete fail: in fact, I can think of a few ways that it can be improved. First, the company should tinker with the rice recipe to see how to prevent the rice from getting too “tough” when baking. Also, a little more mango would be wonderful. Finally, this needs COCONUT SAUCE! These rolls practically begged to be dipped into a creamy, sweetened coconut sauce to amp up the flavor and to add a contrast to the crisp exterior.

Would I try this again? Sure, especially if I had my own coconut sauce (or if the company started including sauce with the rolls). I’d be sure to have some additional mango to accompany these rolls, too.

Have any of you tried these before? Or, do you have another Thai dessert that you prefer? Let me know all about it in the comments below!