Chemicals in our Products

Friday, June 29, 2018

The other day I accidently knocked my Lush Ocean Salt scrub off the shower shelf. When I was picking it up I happened to look at the ingredients list. It included the typical body scrub suspects (salt, lime extract, EVCO, avocado butter) but then I saw methylparaben and propylparaben at the bottom of the list. It really surprised me to see these two ingredients in particular.

Let me give you a little back story about why these two ingredients in particular amused me. I don't usually talk about my day job very much on the blog because it would probably put y'all to sleep. I am a scientist; more specifically, I work at a contract manufacturer to write the instructions on how to mass-produce cosmetic products. So day in and day out I'm working with products that you could potentially use on a daily basis.

In my line of work, ingredients like methylparaben, propylparaben, glycerin, and a whole slew of other weird named materials come up daily. They are very common place for me but I didn't expect to see them on the back of a Lush container. I knew that Lush was animal cruelty free, but because they also claim "Fresh Handmade Cosmetics" I assumed there was no "bad" chemicals like parabens.

Since taking this job, I've seen a lot of what goes into cosmetic products. At the end of the day I wonder why I put all of these products on my body. I'm not afraid of chemicals but I also don't want to put any extra ones on me if I don't have to. About a year ago, I started making the switch to using more natural products that don't have a lot of extra "stuff" in them. While I can logically say that parabens are used as a preservative to keep products from growing bacteria, I still don't want to use it if I don't have to.

Slowly but surely I've been switching out the famous body wash/lotion and candle brands for more natural or homemade products. I will admit that even the current brands I'm using have some chemicals like surfactants (which I'm sure most of y'all have never even heard of). But I'm trying to be more aware of what types of products I'm putting on my body.

I wanted to end by saying that not all chemicals are bad. If so we wouldn't be able to enjoy things like citric acid, cholecalciferol, or dihydrogen monoxide. While these things might sound scary they are common household items that you've probably come in contact with. Citric acid is found in lemons, cholecalciferol is Vitamin D and dihydrogen monoxide is water. As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover so let's not judge chemicals by their names either! We just need to become educated about them!

The Garden is Growing

Friday, June 22, 2018

Houston - we have a garden and it's actually growing!!!

Every year I get super excited about starting our garden with baby seedling and watching them grow into huge plants that produce vegetables! But every year after about a month I forget about our poor vegetable plants and they start to droop and become overrun by weeds and grass.

In mid-spring I spent an afternoon out in the garden pulling up all the dead weeds that had grown uncontrollably last year. I was so proud of myself; I actually had that dirt looking like a garden that could actually grow veggies!

Texan and I decided to try our hand at growing lettuce. We planted the seeds and I anxiously waited to see the first baby green pop up. I went out to check the garden weekly like it was a ritual. I got so excited when I started seeing the first green leaves start to poke out of the dirt. Fast forward to 4 weeks, I came to the realization that we weren't growing lettuce at all. We had been cultivating some really healthy weeds. I was pretty sad at my apparent lack of lettuce growing knowledge. Darn you, biology degree. You let me down!

Since then we have once again cleared the garden of all the unwanted weeds and planted real plants. You know the kind you buy from Home Depot! We have three squash plants, three zucchini plants, four bell pepper plants, two cucumber vines and 2 tomato plants. Basically we have a pretty full garden but everything is growing very well.

This year instead of relying on my ability to pick weeds, we put down black garden fabric. It has been working perfectly at reducing the unwanted growth! The plants have been able to soak up the water they need through the fabric. As an extra bonus, it is easier to see when vegetables are growing and if they are ready to be picked. No more sorting through the weeds and loosing cucumbers! Here is one of our first two bell peppers!

Did I mention the garden is doing really well? Check out this cute bloom on our cucumber plants. And actually since these pictures, the plants have started growing actual veggies!   

I'm honestly relatively new to gardening. If I could go back in time and tell my 18 year old self that I would be gardening in my late 20's, I would have laughed - a lot! In my younger years I hated to have my hands dirty, but I've grown up and realized gloves help immensely! So now I actually have a dream garden! It would produce enough vegetables where I would have plenty throughout the summer and be able to share with family and friends. I would love to go out to the back yard and pick the squash and zucchini we ate for dinner that night. One day we will have a garden that fulfills all of my dreams!

Does your family grow a garden?
What vegetables do you plant?
Do you use your veggies fresh or can them? What's your favorite way to eat them?

Taking Time For Me : What I've Been Up To Lately

Friday, June 15, 2018

Have you ever been in the situation where you make a wrong turn and didn't realize it immediately? You've been going the wrong direction for miles so you think, well best just to find a different route than turn around now! Well that's kinda how I've been feeling about life lately. I would say it feels a little like I'm lost. But not lost in a bad way, but lost as in growing.

Being around my dad has been a little rough the past few weeks. He's not doing great but his treatments are almost over. This has pretty much set my life upside down not knowing what could happen with him. With my emotions being all over the place, I've wanted a little extra attention at home which then puts Texan on edge. So with me being an emotional wreck and Texan on edge, home hasn't been quite so cozy lately. One day last week, while I was pretty emotionally drained, Texan suggested doing something that I really liked doing. I had think for a long time to figure out what I liked doing. I hadn't taken time to do the things I enjoy doing in a while.

After realizing that I felt so lost and hadn't really taken any time for myself lately, I finally did just that and spend a little time on myself and things that I love. It might not have been much but over the past 2 weeks, I've taken a few minutes for myself which has vastly improved my mood.

Last Thursday Texan had to working late so I took a little Target trip. While I was there I ran across the cutest insulated wine tumbler. Really, I didn't need it but we happened to be going to the beach that weekend and thought what the heck. So I picked it up and cut out a cute little hibiscus flower to put on it. I forgot how much fun I had designing artwork to cut out on my Silhouette. Plus when Friday morning rolled around I was still super excited about the pink hibiscus wine tumbler I was taking to the beach. It still makes me smile each time I see it.

This week I signed my mom and I up for a paint night. She had never been so I thought it would be a good way for both of us to get out of the house and spending the evening together. Both of our houses happen to be decorated in sunflowers so I chose a sunflower painting. We had so much fun. They served flatbread pizzas and we both ordered some Moscato wine. I really love how the painting turned out and would love to spend more time painting again. I'm already looking for the next paint night we can attend.

PS - yes, my mom and I are dressed alike. We often find ourselves in identical outfits and not on purpose most of the time. 

I've learned a lot about myself over the past few months. I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be but I've also learned that I need to check in with myself from time to time. 

The Raw Rant : Why is Cancer Okay?!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Let's be real with each other for a second, okay? Good. Bloggers can sometimes be fake. Yes, I'm saying it and it isn't meant to hurt anybody's feelings. Hopefully it also doesn't come as a shock either. But when you blog, it's really easy to portray your best self. After all, you are the one who's sharing your story so the internet world only sees a snapshot into bloggers life and most of the time it's from the best angles.

Today is not going to be that post. Today might be a little raw and unfiltered.

Last week I posted about Mother's Day and getting to spend it with my Mom and Grandmother. I also spent the weekend with my Dad. He was doing amazing. (You can read some back story here) I had originally wanted to post the following paragraph, but it didn't get published with the original article:

So I mentioned at the beginning that this post was going to be all about family. I wanted to share some good news about my Dad. He is officially half way through his cancer treatments. He is trying like crazy to keep his weight up so he doesn't have to have a feeding tube. He has been eating cake and milkshakes like it's nobody's business. Unfortunately, he has started to lose his taste buds and it has become a little painful to swallow. We are very happy that he has made it this far eating on his own. We can only hope the 2nd half of his treatments goes this well.

This week has been horrible. I call my parents every morning on my way to work. Monday morning, my Mom told me that my dad wasn't doing great. This throat was killing him and he could barely stand to drink water; when he would try to eat anything that tears would roll down his face. I knew I needed to go see him, but just from hearing his voice, I didn't want to see what he looked like. After quite a few crying sessions with my boss, she gave me the idea to get him a milkshake and hang out with him while he ate it. As I was getting ready to leave work, I called my house again and was surprised when my dad answered the phone (he is still trying to work and he wouldn't have normally been home at 3 in the afternoon).  He said he wasn't feeling well and he came home at 12:30 that day. Going to work is basically my dad's hobby. So for him to have left work early and to be laying in the bed in the middle of a beautiful day, I knew he wasn't feeling well. I could hardly hang up the phone quick enough before another huge burst of tears set in.

I was devastated. He's my Daddy. He's supposed to be able to walk on water and never get sick. He's the one person that could literally do anything in the world. All of my friends at work kept telling me I needed to be strong for him but if I couldn't hold it together on Monday after just talking to him on the phone how am I supposed to hold it together around him.

I went to see him Tuesday after work. He has lost a lot of weight (but he didn't look horrible). His throat was still killing him. I'm a little surprised that the doctor's haven't made him get a feeding tube yet, but they haven't. I was also very impressed with myself for not crying while I was there. I was able to hold it together when we were visiting but that doesn't mean I've held it together while I'm sitting at my desk at work or at home.

I feel so stupid for crying so much but I think it's the fact that there is literally nothing I can do to help him. I can try to bring him milkshakes or ice cream but if he can't eat it, it doesn't help that much. I can go and sit with him but that does nothing to help his pain. I know just being around helps his spirits though.

As a scientist (though my specialty isn't in cancer or even anything relating to it) and as a human being, I can't for the life of me understand why anybody would think that radiation and chemo are a great idea. I've been told multiple times that it's what saves people's life and yes, it is true. I won't argue that but in the process of saving the person's life you are nearly killing them. You are creating such an inhospitable environment that the cancer can't live, however neither can the good cells. I've also been told that they reserve chemo/radiation as a last resort. While that may be true for some types of cancer, it wasn't the case for my dad. He was given 2 options. Option 1 was surgery which would have removed a portion of his tongue and his voice box then went through chemo and radiation. Option 2 was chemo and radiation. Where was the option where these drugs weren't the first resort?

After seeing just a portion of what my dad is going through, I can't even imagine how the people who came up with chemo and radiation thought it would be a good idea to perform these procedures on patients. I guess when faced with basically a death sentence, you'll try anything. But it hurts seeing loved ones go through it and knowing you can't do anything.

Again, the scientist in me tells me there has to be a better method out there. And so I did some research (actually Texan pointed me towards this research) of natural methods of healing cancer. There are scientists and doctors who believe that cancer is nothing more than a lack of the nutrients your body needs (which Western civilizations aren't getting much of in their diet).

Think of scurvy, the sailors used to get scurvy when they were on the ships for weeks at a time. At that time, scurvy was basically a death sentence however we eventually learned that Vitamin C can cure scurvy (and prevent it if you intake enough of the vitamin). There are a few doctors that believe cancer is the same thing (but with different vitamins). There isn't a lot of research on this though because many pharmaceutical companies don't want this to get out to the public. If you could find what you needed to be cancer-free at the grocery store, big drug companies would lose a lot of money from cancer drugs and every other type of drug prescribed during treatments.

It pisses me off to know that my Daddy is going through this when it could have been prevented or even treated in a humane way. We are all so politically correct and so accepting of everybody's differences now that I have a hard time believing nobody is saying "Treating cancer this way is inhumane". Well if nobody else says it, I will. This isn't right. It's time to stop the status quo and stop lining the pockets of big pharma and start doing the right thing. It's time to start treating cancer with all of the available resources (natural or chemical).

If you've made it through my whole story and rant, I appreciate you hanging in with me. I appreciate all the support and love I've received.

Thank you!

Dream Vacation

Friday, May 11, 2018

Why is it that the weekend never seems like its long enough? I spend all week looking forward to Friday and within the blink of an eye, I'm back at Monday and dragging my butt back to work. I'm so ready for a vacation! Anybody else feel this way?

From my Hawaii vacation, Sept 2017

Texan and I love the beach and consider sandy toes and salty hair the best vacation ever. To us, it just isn't summer without visiting the beach at least once. We've gone to OBX, Myrtle Beach, and Panama City Beach. Last year I even went to Hawaii with my family. (High five for two beach vacations in one year!)

This year we are looking to up our vacation game by going on a cruise. Texan has gone on a few cruises with his family when he was younger and I have never gone. I am through the roof excited about the opportunity to go on my first floating vacation!

While I'm thinking you can't go wrong when planning a cruise, I have been having some trouble trying to figure out where we want to go. We have narrowed it down to a Carnival Caribbean trip leaving from Florida but that's where our certainty stops. You can go on short cruises to just 1 or 2 islands or longer cruises that go to 4 or 5 islands. Plus all islands look so beautiful it's hard to choose which ones would be nice to go to.   

I'm a scientist so research is my game. However have you ever tried to research a Caribbean island? They all look wonderful, relaxing and too many adventures to fit into just a few hours. Basically the islands are just perfect! How in the world am I supposed to narrow down my list of which islands to visit?

Of course we are limited by which islands the cruise ships visit, but that is still a lot. I've tried to narrow down a list of my favorites but then again they all seem so perfect... Bolded islands are on my dream list.

Amber Cove
Costa Maya
Grand Cayman
Grand Turks
Half Moon Cay
Mahogany Bay
Ocho Rios
Princess Cays
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten
St. Thomas

Have you been on a cruise? Where did you travel? If you have been to the Caribbean, what was your favorite island? Any islands you would recommend?