Friday, July 31, 2015

Latest Rose Rose Haul

It's been a while since I had a good old fashioned haul post.  And this is actually two.  The first is all items from the "free shipping" section of the site - which means it's a mini-Mizon haul.  And the second is other assorted goodies.  I don't have the exact dates these were ordered / shipped / delivered any more (since these are pre-baby and baby drama orders) but I do recall that it took longer than I would have liked for these orders to show up as "shipped" although they then shipped relatively quickly compared to other orders from Korea.  So there's that.

Enough preamble - let's look at the stuff!!

(clockwise from bottom left) Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream, Mizon No. 1 King's Berry Aqua Step Up Cream, Mizon Olive Cocoa Butter Foot Cream (x2)

Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream ($4.57US at the time)
This might look like a little tube but I find eye cream goes a long way - in fact, I'm still using the Purebess Galactomyces Eye Cream that I started in November! So this one will have to wait but I am excited. . . because snails :)

Mizon No. 1 King's Berry Aqua Step Up Cream ($13.60US)
This, on the other hand, is gigantic! It has a light berry scent and a light gel-texture which is perfect for summer (I tried to take a pic of the texture for you - see below).  My one complaint is that it is not super-moisturizing (which is fine for me in the summer but if you have drier skin than I do, it might not be a great choice for you) and it is a bit sticky on the skin at first - although it does dry down without the sticky-factor.
Mmm. . . gloopy and fresh-feeling. . . plus blue!

Mizon Olive Cocoa Butter Foot Cream ($6.00US each)
This is creamy and not greasy.  And we go through a lot of foot cream since my husband likes giving foot massages and I like getting them :)

Now on to the other haul:

(from left to right-ish) Missha Premium Aloe Sheet Mask (x5), Secret Key Telling U CC Cream, Look At Me Fairy Dust Pigment Eye Shadow in No. 18 Ilene, Nature Republic By Flower Lip Scrub

Missha Premium Aloe Sheet Mask ($3.55US for all 5)
I love a good sheet mask and Missha's are quite good compared to the ones I usually buy (a bit more expensive too. . . although still totally reasonable).  Aloe is soothing and glorious, especially after a day in the sun so these are also a great pick for summer!

Secret Key Telling U CC Cream ($6.43US)
I love the Killing Me Zombie CC Cream (by Welcos Merit) that I picked up a while ago so I wanted to try something similar - surely my first foray into CC creams couldn't be HG?! Well, it's better than this one.  Although this has a lovely texture, it also has a bit of an orange cast on my fair, pink-toned skin.  I can make it work for summer but won't buy it again.  I tried to take a swatch pic. . . and my camera just couldn't handle it in a non-blurry fashion, so sorry about that!

Look At Me Fairy Dust Pigment Eye Shadow, No 18 Ilene ($9.14US)
Once upon a time, I purchased a silvery loose pigment eye shadow.  And despite using it all the time, for pretty much every "fancy" or "going out" eye look, it lasted for years and years.  And when I finally finished it, it was no longer being made :( This is a replacement and it's also very nice.  I will get a lot of use out of it and might need to buy another one. . . in 10 years or so, lol! Or maybe in another shade? Mmm. . .

Nature Republic By Flower Lip Scrub ($3.35US)
Despite using lip balms like they're going out of style, I do get dry and flaky lips from time to time.  I decided a lip scrub was in order to take care of that issue and allow my lip repairs to do their jobs effectively.  I like the squeezy tube this comes in and find it has a suitable amount of grit.  I couldn't tell you what the scent is supposed to be but it's light and not offensive.  This does a decent job getting my lips in shape which is exactly what I was looking for. . . and that price is lovely too!

so. . . umm. . . I bought hand creams. . . lots of them
(Secret Key Berry Milk, Missha Aloe, A'Pieu Melon, Innisfree Jeju Peach, Innisfree Jeju Udo Peanut, Innisfree Jeju Hallabong)

Disclosure:  I haven't used any of these yet as I have a few hand creams open - shocker! But I love the size of the tubes (great for travel or purses) and the range of scents.  I also know that I have used products from these brands with success before (or read rave reviews) so I'm excited to try them out and am sure I will like them!

Since I can't really "review" them, here are the prices:

Secret Key Berry Milk Hand Cream ($1.20US for 60ml)
Missha Premium Aloe Hand Cream ($1.43US for 60ml)
A'Pieu Melon Hand Cream ($0.93US for 60ml)
Innisfree Jeju Peach, Udo Peanut and Hallabong ($2.66US for 30ml)

And I got samples. . . I combined the samples from both hauls into one pic:

lots of cool things to try :)

I haven't had a chance to try most of these yet so I'll reserve judgement.  I think samples are one of my favourite things about hauls like this.  I've found a few products through samples that I've gone on to purchase.  How about you - do free samples make you want to buy things?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hospital Stay? Here's What You Should Know

So I, unfortunately, had three hospital stays this year - 2 days in March and then two 3-day stays in June/July.  Not that I'm an expert by any means, but here are a few things I learned that I wish I knew.

1.  Clothing - Don't worry about bringing your own fancy pjs / sweats, etc.  You will likely just wear a hospital gown the whole time - it's easier with IVs than real sleeves and you may not get out of bed much so what does it matter what you're wearing? If you decide that you really want to feel like a real person by wearing your own clothing, send a friend or relative to pick it up for you or pack one outfit besides your "going home" outfit.

1. b) Caveat - the above does not apply to underwear! You can and should bring underwear unless you really like feeling open to the breeze in your gown.

2.  TV/Phone/Internet - Holy cannoli, the costs for these things at a hospital are insane! Personally, I find springing for wi-fi to be a necessity.  I can email, facebook, pay bills (handy if you weren't expecting to be out of commission) and watch TV shows and movies through streaming sites or services like Netflix (seriously happy my computer has a Netflix app).  If you bring your cell phone and charger, you can just use that instead of paying for a pricey room phone.  I know, I know - "but you're not supposed to use cell phones in a hospital!" My husband and I both used ours with regularity, in front of staff, without issue and were never instructed not to do so.  Ask if you're worried about it.  Also, bring a book or e-reader - reading is awesome :) Did you know that most libraries offer e-books free through their websites? Check it out!

3.  Food - Pack some if you know in advance you'll be staying in for a while.  Snacks are always a good idea (meal replacement bars can be helpful too).  I also like instant coffee since hospital coffee is gross (also instant but without enough granules to actually taste like coffee) - or you could make guests come regularly with coffee from McD's or Tim's for you if you feel like it.

3. b) Special dietary requirements - ugh! Don't have them while hospitalized if at all possible.  The companies that mass-produce hospital food don't understand them and don't know how to make these meals at all appealing.  I am a semi-vegetarian (I eat fish, seafood and will eat chicken if I need to - and in the hospital I needed to) and had some of the most horrific meals imaginable.  Seriously, I was served an inedible "Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie" in which the meat was replaced with what I can only guess was cornmeal? I also had overcooked tofu strips in a honey-garlic sauce.  And I was served a pork dinner - I guess they were all like "but it's the other white meat!" ?? Again, if you can get guests to bring you dinners, do it - lunches are usually okay and breakfasts are the best of the bunch (except the coffee).

4.  Personal hygiene - you don't need much but I would definitely suggest:  toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, lip balm, hair brush (and hair bands / elastics to keep it off your face), face wash and lotion of some sort.  If you will be able to shower, travel or sample packs of shampoo, conditioner and body wash are perfect.  If you will have an IV, however, you likely won't be allowed to shower so bring dry shampoo. . . seriously, I never thought I'd use the massive bottle of this I got from Ipsy a few months back but after a few days of being unable to wash my hair, I felt like the biggest grease ball and this made a huge difference (in appearance but also in morale - you don't feel good when you feel gross).  Oh, and when you get home? Throw out your toothbrush and spring for a new one - don't bring the hospital home with you unnecessarily.

5. I have read a lot of packing lists and in my humble opinion, the following things are a waste of time and packing space.  So don't bring: lots of clothes, make-up or your whole skincare regime, your own pillow (eww! why would you want hospital germs on your own stuff?!), slippers / robes / socks that you like (flip flops and an old sweater are probably good enough and you're not so attached to them you aren't comfortable tossing them if they get dirty / germy; you could bring some old socks if you tend to get cold feet), jewellery, hair dryers / straightening irons / curling irons, lots of cash or valuables. . . I think that's about it.  In short, there's no reason to pack for the apocalypse.  You won't need most of these things and if there's something you decide you want that you didn't pack, send someone to get it for you, assuming you have someone you can send.

Lastly, and most importantly, stick up for yourself and ask questions.  You will probably see nurses more than any other medical professional.  Many of them are excellent (caring, attentive - I even had one visit with me when she was no longer assigned to care for me, just because!).  Some of them are dismissive of your concerns (like you ask for pain relief and they "forget" about you).  And the worst kind assume they know more than anyone else (and for some reason love to give terrible breastfeeding advice and insist that they are the best at bloodwork / IVs when they're sticking you for the 4th time without success).

So stick up for yourself - I quickly realized that my arms would be a patchwork of bruises if I (of the smallest veins in the world) allowed every self-proclaimed "expert" to attempt my bloodwork so I suggested that a lab tech working with a paediatric needle might be a better option.  And you know what? My nurse might have been offended, but that tech got the blood drawn on the first try.  And the next time I needed blood drawn, it was easier to ask - maybe the nurses had told each other I was "difficult" but whatever, fewer painful needle sticks and bruises is a plus in my books.  If that makes me "difficult", I'll wear that badge with pride (and it won't be bruise-purple, okay?)  :)

Ask questions.  You have a right to know and understand your condition, prognosis and what the plan is for your care.  And you have a right to have it explained to you in a way you can understand it - whether that's in smaller words with less medical jargon, or through a translator.  Ask for, and demand if necessary, answers you can understand.  There is truly no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your health or the health of your loved ones.  It is hard to feel confident in the care you are receiving if you don't understand it or if those responsible for your care don't share this information with you.  And confidence in your care is incredibly important to your mental well-being and, in my opinion, how you feel mentally has a huge impact on your recovery.  There is something extremely disconcerting about feeling like your medical care is something that is "done to you" as opposed to something you are a part of - your consent is necessary to your care even if it doesn't always feel that way!

I guess that's about it.  This certainly isn't an exhaustive list and some may have very different experiences with hospital stays than I have.  But I wish someone had told me some of these in advance.  Staying in a hospital (especially if it's due to illness) can be a scary and disorienting experience.  It can be difficult to stay positive and feel good about your well-being (mental and physical) under these circumstances.  I found a lot of the above thoughts and ideas to make a huge difference for me.  But most important of all was the care and support of my friends and family.  Reach out for support - both during your stay and during your transition home.  And if you have a friend or family member in the hospital, remember that a short visit (with a coffee and a delicious meal!) can be great medicine :)

Anything I missed? Any contrary viewpoints? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tea Sparrow June 2015 Review

'Tis the season. . . for delicious iced teas.  Or at least it was - again, I received July's sub today and it reminded me to get this review done! But June's Tea Sparrow delivery was full of teas delicious cold or hot.

There are a lot of different ways to brew up iced tea from loose leaf teas but my go-to is the cold brew method.  I put some tea (a few tbsp depending on the type of tea) in a pitcher, fill with water (I use my Brita so it's filtered, cold water) and let sit in the fridge overnight or for most of the day.  I strain out the tea and pour my yummy brew back in the pitcher.  If you like your tea sweetened, you could do that at this point or, like my husband, sweeten each glass to taste.  Easy!

For $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 
If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8! When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

Here are this month's teas:

Organic Ginger Lime Rooibos (Organic Fair Trade Certified green rooibos combined with organic ginger, lemongrass, lemon myrtle and licorice root with essential oils of lime and tangerine)

Organic Ginger Lime Rooibos:
This made for a tasty, refreshing iced tea and I enjoyed it unsweetened although my husband needed to offset the citrusy flavours with a little sweetness.  I didn't enjoy this one as much hot. . . but I'm not usually a big fan of rooibos, although I do like that it's naturally caffeine-free.

Maracuja Orange (apple pieces, pumpkin, carrot, raisins, orange pieces, beetroot, orange peel and natural aroma)

Maracuja Orange:
My favourite tea this month! How gorgeous is that blend? And it's so delicious too.  Iced, this was refreshing and just a little fruity.  Warm, this tasted more autumnal to me but I love those flavours and find them so soothing and warming.  My husband even liked this one iced and unsweetened!

Morning Spirit (Sencha green tea, rose flower, sunflower blossoms and natural flavour)

Morning Spirit:
Closer runner-up for fave tea of the month! This green tea has just enough additional flavours going on to make it interesting - both warm and cold.  The flavour is described as "mango-bergamot" and I do get a little of that fruitiness without big chunks of fruit like the in the Maracuja Orange.  My husband also preferred this one sweetened whereas I'm happy to let the tea flavour shine solo.

Mount Kenya Estate (Mount Kenyan black tea)

Mount Kenyan Estate:
And the least exciting option this month. . . a really good, but plain, black tea.  This is definitely a tasty black tea but I was just looking for something a little more exciting for an iced tea.  This does make a nice hot cup and I enjoyed it with a splash of almond milk.  Delicious but not something I find myself reaching for - it'll be in my cupboard for a while I think.  My husband didn't even bother to try this one.

Another tasty month from Tea Sparrow but I am noticing that there's usually one kind of lacklustre option for my tastes.  Don't get me wrong - I do like well-blended, neutral standards sometimes but I find myself more excited about the flavours and blends that I don't usually have on hand.  That's what I'm looking for from this sub.  I'll stick with it since I am getting that - usually 3/4 of the teas fit that criteria but I am getting a little overloaded on plain teas right now.  Hopefully next month offers a break from the plain-janes :)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ipsy June 2015 Review

Ok. . . so I just received July's Ipsy bag yesterday which reminded me that I didn't take care of this review yet.  There are lots of reasons for that (my last post explains a bunch of them. . . since then I was hospitalized with a post-op infection and am, sadly, still battling illness. . . plus, new baby stuff!) but one of them definitely is that I'm finding this sub a little lacklustre these days.  I still get excited when other subs arrive.  I get excited when Asian Beauty hauls show up on my doorstep.  I don't get that excited about this one anymore.  I think it's still a great sub for great value but maybe not long term. . . a gateway sub?

Ipsy, is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month packaged in a make-up bag.  The products are often deluxe sample sizes but there are usually a few full-size items as well.  The cost is $10 per month with free shipping if you happen to live in the States but for those of us in Canada, add $4.95 shipping as well as exchange.  There are savings to be had if you subscribe to a longer period, though.  I paid for a year up front which worked out to $184.33 Canadian funds, or $15.36 per month - of course that was also at a time when our dollar was stronger.

If this review piques your interest in Ipsy, please consider using my referral link :)  I'd appreciate it!  There is usually a waiting list but they often offer ways to skip the line.

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:

BioRepublic Sheet Mask Trio ($14.95 value - sets of three of the same type are sold for this price on their website)
So I love sheet masks.  And these ones are. . . okay for $5.  Seriously.  They have tons of essence, the variety is nice (cucumber, aloe and green tree) and the fit is good.  I would totally buy these. . . for less than half the price since I can get equally good masks for much, much cheaper from my usual sources.  Again, these aren't bad masks - quite the contrary! - but that price is just ridiculousness.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (1 fl. oz. sells for $36, 0.25 fl. oz. sample has $9 value)
*sigh* I wish, just once, that I could try any other Smashbox product.  I like the brand.  They seem like they have nice products.  This one could be nice too. . . if I hadn't already tried lots of samples of it.  I don't use primer much.  When I do, I really like CoverFX's version, personally. . . so I might use this but I might not.

Lavanilla Body Butter in Pure Vanilla (6.7 oz. sells for $19, 0.85 oz. sample has approx. $2.40 value)
I wish I liked this more.  The texture is lovely and it absorbs well into my skin.  I like the idea of the company.  But I'm not a fan of the scent.  It's described as an "adult vanilla" and, while I appreciate that it's not sickly sweet, it also doesn't smell great to me.  Oh well, I can always use lotion!

J. Cat Beauty Liptitude Hydrating Lip Stain (FULL SIZE - $5.99 value)
So I really liked the J. Cat lip paint that we got a few months ago.  This, however, is garbage.  I think I got the colour "Hikalicious" but it doesn't say on the product itself. I don't hate the colour but the formula stinks.  For some reason, it never seems to dry at all and gets all over everything - fingers, glassware, husbands. . . and then it doesn't come off of those things :(

Further, while I was trying to figure out what colour I had received I noticed some of their other colour names:  "Peekaboob"? Not classy, J. Cat! "Fappening"? err. . . no.  If you don't know what "the fappening" is or what the verb "to fap" means, you could google it. . . or you could trust me when I say that I'm not putting anything near my lips with that connotation.  So, despite my original interest in the company based on the lip paint, I probably won't purchase anything from J. Cat in the future - they just don't seem like "my" kind of business, you know?

tre'StiQue Mini Eye Shadow Crayon in Marimoto Pink Pearl (approx. $10.50 value - 3 minis sell for $32 or a full size for $26)
Well, this is probably the best of the colour options for me - a pinky shimmer - but it does tend to blend right into my skin tone.  I do like the formula so this will make for a good base colour to build upon.  At least it's not a warm neutral like everything else Ipsy sends me.

Swatches with and without flash as I couldn't decide which looked better (neither, probably).  Lip stain's on the top, eye shadow crayon on the bottom:

Overall Verdict:  Sadly, I'm counting down the months until my year-long sub is up.  While I do think it's great if you're just starting out, I think I'm on Ipsy-overload.  This month's value was good - around $43 - but I find the value is always good on paper.  What is mattering more and more to me is whether the value is good to me personally.  I will use the eye shadow crayon and primer but would never have purchased them.  I will also use the lotion and the sheet masks because I go through those items like water and these are decent versions of each. . . but again, not revolutionary.  And I will throw out the stupid lip stain and try to avoid classless J. Cat products in the future.  All told, not a great month but at least the makeup bag is kind of neat.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

What I've been up to. . . placenta previa *and* accreta

I haven't posted much lately.  I will get around to a few things I've been meaning to do - June's Ipsy and Tea Sparrow reviews as well as a Rose Rose haul but today's post is a serious one.  If the formatting looks weird, that's because I've done a copy pasta job with some revision from a message board I post on and, for obvious reasons when you read, am just not up to retelling the whole story again today.

*Warning:  this is really long (that's not a joke).  Also, it might contain triggers for some of you who have also had traumatic births or are nervous about upcoming labours or who cry easily and don't want to right now.  But it has a happy ending :)

So, first things first, Elliott was born on Monday morning as scheduled and he is fantastic.  He was nursing like a champ from the get-go and born at 7lbs, 6oz, screaming his lungs out almost immediately.  For those of you who have followed my story at all, this was a huge relief as this has been a very difficult pregnancy - we thought we lost him at 6.5 weeks only to learn a month a half later that we were still pregnant.  After another scary bleeding episode, I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa - for those unfamiliar, you are lucky!, but it means that the placenta was completely covering my cervix so more bleeding was likely and a c-section would be necessary unless it moved.  After another bleeding episode, I learned a lot about pre-term labour and what would likely happen if I had another bleed (emergency c-section, steroid shots). . . and it scared me a lot.  If you check out some of my earlier blog posts from that time, most of this is in there.

And then, nothing! No more bleeds and everything seemed to be going very well.  Baby was growing appropriately and doing well.  I was making modified bed rest work for me (and our family).  And we reached our scheduled section date.

Although I was nervous, the section went well at first.  My midwife was there for supportive care and stayed with me through the spinal.  She and my husband were by my side as Elliott was born and, after he got checked out, they got him doing skin to skin and he nursed for the first time.

And then things got scary.  It was taking a long time to finish - the entire surgery ended up being over an hour and a half.  The doctors sounded worried.  The nursing students moved from watching the cute baby to watching the surgery - not a good sign.  I started feeling really really cold and tired.  No one was telling us what was going on.  Then my midwife said they were going to give me some blood and I'd start feeling better, which I did (at least physically).  My husband and son had to leave while they finished up.

Afterward, my doctor explained that I had also had undiagnosed placenta accreta - the placenta had attached too aggressively to the uterine wall so it had to be removed in pieces, surgically.  In the process, they had to cut into the muscle and so recovery would be more difficult than with a regular section.  They had given me two units of blood since I lost about 2L during the surgery.  He also warned me that they would have to watch me very closely for a few days and if there was any indication that there was any placenta left behind, I might need a hysterectomy :(

Thankfully, we are both doing well.  My son is thriving and my older son is the greatest big brother.  My doctor is very happy with my recovery and transferred me back to my midwives so it looks like no hysterectomy for me :) Recovery is hard but I don't know what it would be like for a "normal" section to compare.  I am in pain and need to stay on top of my meds but I am home from the hospital, and doing better today than yesterday.  As long as tomorrow keeps being better than today, I am feeling optimistic.

If you've made it this far in the novel that I've written here, thank you for your patience.  What happened to me is very rare. . . but I know I was also very lucky and in capable hands.    Now, to recover and to savour my time with my boys - time I feel blessed to have, given how differently this story could have ended.  I'll still blog here but maybe not often (not that I posted that often to begin with I suppose) and my posts might have a different slant (more parent-y?).  If that's not your cup of tea, there will still be some reviews so feel free to stick around if you like but I understand if there are places better suited to your tastes.  If that appeals to you, see you around :)