Allergy Pill Instead of Shots? Yes, Please

Friday, April 18, 2014

Merck & Co. has recently applied for FDA approval of a pill that acts much like the tedious injection immunotherapy (aka: allergy shots) for allergy sufferers.  Like the shot therapy, this pill will reduce allergy symptoms over time as your body builds up an immunity to allergy triggers (i.e. pollen, pet dander, dust).  The pill would be taken daily for three years to give time for your immune system to tolerate the allergens.  The only drawback is that while the pills will be more specific in fighting allergens than current pill form antihistamines, they cannot be tailored to individuals specific allergens, like shots can.  

With that in mind, this is still a huge step forward in the battle against allergens.  If you're not getting shot therapy, you are probably, like me, caught in a cycle of treating the symptoms (itchy, runny eyes; congestion; sneezing) ALL YEAR LONG.  I take two different nasal sprays and an antihistamine at night and morning if it's a high pollen day.  I've been considering getting more tests done and starting shot therapy. 

Hearing this Merck allergy pill news definitely peaked my interest.  I have to believe that a prescription of pills is less expensive and less of a hassle than shot therapy.  And if I can avoid getting shots a few times a week for a year?  (Who likes shots?) Count me in. 

The treatment has been approved in Europe for three years.  Another company is also developing a similar product  (France based, Stallergenes) and I heard that approval in the U.S. for one or both companies could come as soon as this summer with the pill therapy becoming available as early as this fall.  We'll see. 

Read more here and here.

How have you been battling allergies this season?

How to Be a Good BFF

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm so grateful that I have, what my daughter calls, a "BFF", or Best Friend Forever.  I consider her to be like a sister I've always had.  We are cut from the same cloth (LEOs unite!), but always seem to have a good perspective on things when one of us needs advice.  I don't know what I would do without her in my life--she's been a true life saver in so many ways! 

A few things I've learned about friendship along the way:

1.  Listen with your ears, not your mouth
2.  Listen without judgement  You each should treat your conversations as if you are both in a 'safe zone'.  It's like free therapy. 
3.  Forget things that were said in a passionate moment about spouses, friends, mothers, etc.  Sometimes all we need to do is to vent.  Putting things into words can help us find some clarity. 
4.  Never hold a grudge out of your loyalty to your friend (see: #3)  Don't give your friend's husband the icey treatment after she confides that he treated her poorly.  She wanted to vent--not get you to fight her battles for her.  
5.  NEVER offer advice, unless specifically asked
6.  Offer empathy and examples of similar experiences in your life (that made you equally as mad/frustrated)  This one can be tricky because you don't want to turn the conversation and make it 'all about me'.  However, it can be helpful to hear that they're not the only one who has been through a particular situation hence validating her feelings. 
7. When you give advice, never start out by saying, "You need to..."  "You have to..."  "You can't let them..." Don't back people into a corner where if they don't take your advice, it makes things awkward.  You know, after you told them they HAD to do it your way. 
8.  Offer anecdotal advice when appropriate, but always precede it with a reminder that while this approach worked for you, every situation is different.  They can take it or leave it. 
9. Give them space.  Friendships are like any other relationship: there will be ebbs and flows.  Go with it.  Don't take radio silence personally.  She's busy.
10.  In fact, don't take anything personally.  And if you have a disagreement, apologize and move on. 
11.  Let each other off the hook with birthdays and Christmas.  A nice gift to each other is not having the pressure of picking out the perfect gift.  A phone call, or meeting for lunch should suffice.  In fact, it's the best gift of all.
12.  Never chyme in with "I never liked him/He's not right for you" etc.  If/when your friend changes her mind, you'll be in an awkward spot. 
13.  Forgive and Forget.  If she's moved on from a conflict in her life,  you should, too.  It's not your place to decide if/when she gets over something.  (caveat:  if she's in an abusive situation)
14.  Know when to keep things in the vault (see: #2)  A funny story about something her kids said at the park is okay to repeat.  A private story she shared in confidence should stay in the vault.  Duh.
15.  When she specifically asks for your opinion, give it to her straight  Go easy, but be honest.  She'll appreciate you more than you know.         

What did I forget?  What else have you learned about friendship?

Products I Love: Bobbi Brown Corrector and Creamy Concealer

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Do you have dark circles under your eyes?  I've had them for as long as I can remember.  I've heard they are partly due to heredity and partly due to allergies.  I know one thing:  they've gotten significantly darker in the last ten years.  Perhaps the stress of sleep deprivation from raising two kids only 16 months apart took its toll on more than just my abs?  And I think as we age, the skin around our eyes becomes thinner and more transparent making way for the veins around our eyes show through.  Gotta love getting older :)

I had seen Bobbi Brown on QVC many times and watched her work her magic on the models...I was still a little skeptical---it had to be the lighting, right?  I mean, the imperfections of these women were virtually erased.  I finally bit the bullet and now I understand why she calls it "The Secret of the Universe".  I hardly recognized myself when I first tried it a year and a half ago.  It is unbelievable.  See for yourself:

And under a minute later, we have the after look.  It's like the blueish purple circles have been erased!  Miracle....

I tried not to smile (harder than it seems) so that you can see the under eye area better.  (Because it's not as serious a topic as my face is conveying here!) 

I used Bobbi's corrector in "Light Bisque" and covered it with her creamy concealer in "Sand".  I ordered them in a set from QVC and it came with a little applicator brush.

One side had a flat brush for the product and the other side was a fluffy brush to apply powder to set the product in place.  I used Bobbi's Sheer Finish Loose Powder in "Pale Yellow".  It's the same powder I use to set my foundation in the morning.

On Bobbi's website, she applies the corrector/concealer with the brush, but I recently started following her technique used on the QVC models and just use my ring finger.  I think I use less product that way, giving me a more natural look.  

I've heard that you can use the corrector and then your concealer of choice over top, but I've only used her creamy concealer on top.  The corrector lasted about a year before I had to reorder, but the creamy concealer has lasted me a year and a half!  I might even make it to the two year mark.  What a steal!

What do you wear to cover under eye circles?  I've heard NARS has an incredibly creamy concealer, as well as Elizabeth Arden.  I'm not sure they're any match for under my eyes.  I doubt they can compete with Bobbi's Secret of the Universe ;) 

Maybelline Lip Gloss: Caramel Infused

Monday, April 14, 2014 Maybelline New York Color Sensational Color Elixir Lip Color, Caramel Infused, 0.17 Fluid Ounce: Beauty
Maybelline New York Color Sensational The Elixir in "Caramel Infused"

I saw this lip gloss used on a model in a magazine I was reading while waiting at a doctor's office last week.  It looked really nice for summer--a peachy pink with lots of gloss.  I decided to give it a test run. 
FYI: the packaging is deceiving--I knew I was looking for a gloss, but to show you the color properly, they used a lipstick mold on the outside.  I only knew it was the correct product based on the color name. 

I really, really like this formula-it's a great color and it doesn't dry out my lips.  Plus, it's not too sticky.  However, I won't be able to wear it due to the scent!  It must have perfume, or something in it.  It's a mild floral scent.  It doesn't smell bad, but I am sensitive to perfume in general (I avoid the perfume counter at the mall like it's the plague.) and it irritates my sinuses.  Especially since it's just below my nose, it makes it impossible to avoid. 

Here I am with just my trusty blistex on and then after with the gloss over the top:

It's not a huge difference, but that's the beauty of it.  It's a really nice, light summer gloss.  If you don't mind a floral scent, I highly recommend it.  They have a ton of colors, too.

Green Smoothies

Friday, April 11, 2014
If you ever peruse Pinterest, you have most likely seen a few green smoothie or green juice recipes--especially now that spring has arrived!  I've been doing a green smoothie almost every day for the past week and have really enjoyed it.  I usually have it as breakfast with two hard boiled eggs.  It's a nice, lighter version of the spinach omelet with sausage that I usually eat.

Mine may not be perfect, but I love it!  It's refreshing and has a bit of a zing to it.  The best part is there is no measuring--just toss in a bunch of green stuff and drink it down!

Here's generally what I put in:

2-3 handfuls of kale and/or spinach
2 stalks of celery hearts
1/2 a cucumber
1 lemon (peeled)
water (to thin it out 1/2 cup to 1 cup)
handful of ice

coconut water, cream or milk

Sometimes I'll add 1/4 frozen banana or a bit of coconut cream to make it a little heartier and creamier.  I also usually add some powdered gelatin for protein and for all of its other health benefits.  Let's face it, I'm just too lazy to make bone broth

Here are some other good green smoothie variations from around the web:

Spinach Orange Smoothie

Blackberry Green Smoothie

Ten Tasty Green Smoothie Recipes (some really good, easy ideas here)

Fruit-Free Green Smoothie (similar to what I do)  

Green Smoothies For Kids

Lightening Up

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Here is our master bathroom mini-update until we can get the gut-job/full reno in the budget.  We inherited this  Seriously--the master bathroom, the master bedroom, the master 'sitting room'/my office, the master closets...everywhere.  It's not a horrible green.  It's just SO MUCH GREEN.

I wish I could say this hideous decoration was from the previous owners, but it was stuff we threw in here from our old bathroom.  And I naturally took a picture of it on its worst day--that just makes the after shots even better!

And the bathroom is very dated.  We think it must be the original plumbing/tiling/vanity.  I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say that an agreement to getting it updated was one of my requirements before I signed on the dotted line.

So while we wait, I figured why not make some cosmetic changes to brighten things up? Here's how things are looking now:

It took two coats of primer and two coats of white paint to cover it completely.  Luckily, it didn't take a lot of time to put on a coat of paint.  I spent about $150 on accessories: shower curtain (similar), rug (Kohls), bathmats (Kohls), baskets (TJMaxx) and picture frames (TJMaxx).  Plus two gallons of paint?  This is the best $200 we've spent in a long time!

I love my little make up station with a pull out mirror against the window for plenty of  natural light.  With one small sink area (and very little storage), this area is a must for me!  The metal shelves were not being used in my office and they are perfect in here for storage. 

We changed out the mirror and added a glass shelf to get our most used items off the counter.  I removed the handles on the cabinets and painted it with leftover chalkboard paint from a different project.  It made a huge impact for zero dollars.  I also had Joe hang a towel rack for obvious reasons. 

Not pictured: I removed the old caulk in the shower, around the shower, and around the toilet and replaced it with bright, new white caulk.  That was a game changer!  I also bleached the floor and scrubbed the grout lines to brighten things up.  Amazing what a little elbow grease and fresh caulk will do to a place. 

My list of complaints about layout is long and my wishlist is too, but with these small changes, I can hold out a lot longer than I originally thought.  We just celebrated our one year anniversary in this house! 

How Do You Make People Feel?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Me, Townes and Kate (great pic of the kids--could my hair be any poufier?

I know we have no control over other people's feelings, but I try to remember this Maya Angelou quote:

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.

This really rings true in my interactions with people throughout my life.  I rarely remember the details of any particular conversation I've had, but I definitely remember the 'vibe' or feeling I had when I interacted with them. 

I believe my easy going, pleasant personality took me further in my career than any of my work skills: people generally liked me.  I was easy to work with even, and especially, when things were stressful.  And that is what they remembered when it came time for a promotion, a performance review, or an assignment to a big project. 

I think being able to work with every kind of person is invaluable in the workforce and in life in general.  My mom used to tell us that there were times throughout our schooling when we were assigned a teacher who wasn't our favorite--or who we just didn't mesh with.  She said that she never considered trying to have us moved to a different classroom because it is important for us to learn to work with different personalities from a young age.  That's one of the big ways we develop the "people skills" that will carry forward into our adult relationships (think about how much time kids spend in a classroom with their teacher).  

I have been making a big effort to remember this while spending time with my children.  They won't remember why I yelled at them to pick up their shoes from the middle of the kitchen floor (or that it took five attempts before I had to yell to get their attention).  They will remember that I yelled, though.  It is shaping who they will be and shaping their future relationship with me--and their future relationships with everyone they'll encounter in life. 

And while I know that I'm human and my children need to understand that I'm not a robot.  I get mad/frustrated/sad/screamy sometimes!  And that's okay.  I just want those intense moments to be a smaller percentage of our interaction.

It's so hard to remember, but a simple idea to motivate me to be my best at any given moment.  I might just have to post it in my kitchen to keep it top of mind. 

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