Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spot check

When I called my dermatologist to make a routine appointment back in November, I think I spaced it when they told me my appointment was going to be on December 31, 2012. Who schedules a dermatologist appointment on New Years Eve? Well, apparently me.

I have a couple spots that have been worrying me. I'm sure they're nothing, but it's hard not to be a hypochondriac after one of my seemingly harmless moles turned out to be skin cancer.

Post-appointment, it's Les Mis with my mom, and a low-key NYE. Do you have anything fun planned for tomorrow night?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Give yourself a break

A few weeks ago, I was sitting around a table with seven  women I went to high school with about ten years ago. After years of feeling like I'm the youngest person in the room and a novice at being a grown up, I had an epiphany: Somewhere along the way, we turned into adults. Real adults. We're no longer in entry-level jobs, we're getting married (well, not me, but several of my friends) and starting familes (also not me, but you get the idea), buying cars and houses, and paying for our own cell phone bills.

Although things seem great on the surface, one of the things I think I've struggled with most since graduating from college in 2008 is striking the right balance between my inner child and becoming a responsible adult. Recently, I discovered a gem of a TV show on the CW called Emily Owens, M.D., that reminds me of first-season Greys Anatomy. The main character, Emily a.k.a. Dr. Owens, a huge geek in high school, draws parallels between her first year of medical residency and her teenage years. To make things worse, she matches at the same hospital as her high school arch nemesis and the boy she has a crush on sees her as "just a friend." No matter how old I get, I think I'll still be able to relate to this predictable but endearing storyline. Rumor has it that the CW is cancelling it, which breaks my heart, especially because the most recent episode had a couple great lines that I heard and immediately knew I'd be sharing with you.

As Emily berates herself, her adorable male coworker/friend/crush interrupts her by saying: "No one's judging your flaws except you."

Later on in the episode, as Emily is celebrating her birthday, she takes her friend's comment to heart. She says to herself:

"It's hard not to try and judge your flaws because we're aware of every mistake. We know our inner doubts, our hidden motivations. So my wish for next year is to be easier on myself. Focus less on the bad and more on the good. Really just give myself a break."

Leave it to me to find inspiration from a soon-to-be-canceled sitcom. But there's something about this quote that really resonates with me. As I reflect on 2012 and start making plans for next year, "giving myself a break" is probably going to end up somewhere on my resolutions list this year.

I mean think about it. It's so easy to hate on ourselves. Just today, I've had the following thoughts: my legs are gross and pasty (yes, I am still self conscious about my winter white legs), I need to tone up before I go on vacation in April, I wish I was a better cook, I should be spending more time being productive over my Christmas break than vegging out on trashy TV... the list goes on. We are always are own worst critics.

What are you most critical about? Have you found a way to cope with negative self talk?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The many days of Christmas

Just turned on my computer for the first time in days. It's been nice to have a little holiday hiatus. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Here are a few snippets from mine:

Peanut butter reindeer cookies from our annual cookie exchange.
Ugly sweater party!
This picture brings me much happiness. Image: Pinterest.
Nothing like home for the holidays :)
Holiday hair and makeup!
Too much eggnog?
I promise a more substantive post soon. Cheers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ipsy Glam Bag Review - December 2012

Last month, I posted a review of my first glam bag from Ipsy just for fun. It ended up being one of my most popular posts, so here are my thoughts on what they sent me for December.

Mai Couture Highlighter Paper - $14 value
At first glance, I thought these were oil blotting sheets. Then I realized they were highlighter papers. Cool idea, in theory, but they turned my face orange. The color of the powder on these papers is more of a blush than a highlighter for my light skin tone. I wish these came in more than one shade. Bummer.

Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess - Full Size - $14 value
I had never heard of this brand before, but I love red lip glosses, so I was excited to give this product a try. Turns out, it's fantastic. You can apply a thin layer for a sheer pop of color or apply more heavily for a high-shine red finish. It wears longer and more evenly than other red lip glosses I've tried. I've worn this several times already - both at work and for play.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil in Zero - $14 value
I've purchased this eye liner before. It glides on super smoothly and stays on forever. Pretty sure it made my day when I found out this liner was coming in my December box.

Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes - Full size - $29 value
I don't typically wear liquid foundation, so this has been fun to try, but not something I'd use on a daily basis. Feels similar to the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. I've used it a few times on my eyelids, but I can't tell if it helps my shadow wear longer or not.

Nyx Loose Pearl Shimmer - Full size - $3 value
On Ipsy's website, they showed this in gold. I would have much rather gotten a gold powder than this charcoal. It's messy, so I don't love it. Again, I think I may have liked it better if I tried it in a lighter color.

Here's a look at what some of the colors look like on my skin. From left: highlighter (eh hem, bronzer), eye liner, lip gloss, and loose power eye shadow. Even though I didn't love all the products, the lip gloss and the eye liner are a total hit. For $10, I received about $74 worth of product. Ahhh-mazing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"It's OK" Thursday

Today I'm linking up with Amber and Neely for my first "It's OK Thursday." Here we go.

It's OK...
  • That I've eaten at least 2 dozen Christmas cookies in the past week
  • That I can't stop Christmas shopping for myself
  • That I've been humming along to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift
  • That I watched the entire first season of HBO's Girls in less than 24 hours
  • That I drove to work instead of taking the bus because it was snow/raining
  • That I wore rain boots and big fuzzy socks to work (and then refused to put on "real shoes" because my toes were cold)
What kind of shenanigans have you been up to this week?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Skin-friendly stocking stuffers

I don't know how this happened, but I am *done* with my Christmas shopping. Still looking for a few extra goodies? Treat the people you love to a gift that's both fun and practical. Here are a few skin-friendly favorites that are sure to please (cough cough, hint hint).

Coola Liplux SPF 30 Lip Balm
Coola is an EWG-approved sunscreen company that uses mostly organic ingredients in their products. Don't neglect your lips! They burn, too.

Juice Beauty CC Cream with SPF 30
This product came in my December Birchbox. It's like a BB cream--moisturizer, tint, sunscreen, etc. all in one--and full of skin-loving antioxidants.

Supergood City & Sand Travel Tote
This kit is so, so cute! It's loaded with four different types of sunscreens so that you can try multiple formulas from this brand. I've had this one on my wishlist for a while. Might have to treat myself!

Tea Forte Skin Smart Teas
If you are what you eat, then you are what you drink! I first discovered these teas at a salon last year. Swiss Apple is my favorite flavor. The antioxidants in these teas are essential for repairing skin damage. It doesn't hurt that they taste amazing and that the box is too dang cute.

Boots N7 Hand Cream with SPF 15
Sneak a little SPF into your daily hand cream to help ward off age spots later.

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40
Argan oil is a beauty staple these days. This argan-infused moisturizer nourishes and protects skin. Bonus: it comes in a mini-size that's perfect for Christmas stockings.

Peace, love & Christmas cookies!

Monday, December 17, 2012


I've had such a hard time blogging since the shooting in Connecticut last week. In the days following something so horrific, the normal things we gossip about, complain about, and joke about feel so trivial. Instead of prolonging my silence, I wanted to join others from across the nation who have already expressed condolences to the families impacted by the shooting. I admire the bravery of the teachers and administration at Sandy Hook Elementary, and hope that all the beautiful, young souls lost may rest in peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Who said it? "Don't Be a Paleface"

Did you know that good 'ole Coppertone's slogan used to be "Don't Be a Paleface"? How crazy is that? I wonder what people will be saying 50 years from now about some of our advertising campaigns.

H&M's infamous too-tan advertisement.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cosmo VoxBox Review 2012

The 2012 Cosmo VoxBox.

This fall, I was selected to receive a VoxBox from Influenster. Basically, the premise is this: companies send you freebies in exchange for your feedback.  Instead of doing something productive on this chilly, Monday evening (laundry, working out, save the world, etc.), I thought I'd blog about my new goodies. I realize this has nothing to do with skin cancer, but sometimes a girl just needs a place to chill out and relax. This blog is my zen :)

FriXion by Pilot Pens - $4.50 for a three pack
I've been out of school for almost five years, but I still get excited about buying new pens and other office supplies every fall. Yes, I'm a nerd. I know. I'm probably going to use these for Christmas cards.

Gillette Venus Embrace & Venus Olay Razor Refill - $3.50 to $4.50 for blade refills
Is it just me or does dry skin make wintery white legs look even whiter? I'm excited to try these (especially the Olay one) because it seems like it's more moisturizing than a normal razor. We shall see.

Forever Red Eau de Parfume Spray from Bath & Body Works - $10 for small size, $44.50 for full size
I loved Bath & Body works when I was younger, but I don't think I've shopped there in years. Most of their scents are too fruity, etc. I didn't think I was going to like this fragrance at all, but this actually smells REALLY good. It's very rich and earthy and surprisingly sophisticated. This could easily become my new daytime scent.

Ghirardelli Gourmet Milk Sea Chocolate Escape - $2.79
I hope I fooled you into thinking there is chocolate in this pretty little box--because I ate it already. Whoops! Salted chocolates are my absolute favorite right now. I would have preferred dark chocolate, but lets be real. Chocolate is chocolate. Yum!

Not too shabby of a haul right? If you're not member of Influenster yet, feel free to shoot me and email and I can give you an invite code.

Disclaimer: I received these treats for free in exchange for providing reviews of the products. Opinions contained in this post are my own.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On beauty

Saw this image on Facebook today. The photographer was listed as unknown, but I love it. Isn't it the truth? Test yourself. Which of these models would you rather trade bodies with:

Model #1. Image: Indy Fashion Marketplace
Model #2. Image: Chictopia

Monday, December 3, 2012

My fingers are famous!

Creepy blog post title, I know. Sorry, guys! But how cool is this: My manicure is featured as Julep's Nail of the Day. This pale girl is rockin' it! Happy Monday, all :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

My NaHeBloPoMo half-marathon

National Health Blog Post Month Day 30: Recap NHBPM

The cool thing about blogging is you make your own rules. Even when participating in an organized event! When I found out about National Health Blog Post Month on November 12, I was bummed that it was too late to participate. Then I thought to myself, wait... says who? In the end, I responded to 18 prompts in 19 days, which is a heck of a lot more blogging than I usually do. I also had a blast reading posts by other health advocates. In case you missed my incessant posting over the past few weeks, here is a recap:

Have a great weekend! 


This post was inspired by the Day 30 prompt for National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turning negatives into positives

National Health Blog Post Month Day 29: Write about unexpected blessings of your health condition

I'd like to reiterate one of the points I made during yesterday's conversation with Anjannette: this blog is about so much more than melanoma. Unlike some of my fellow melanoma bloggers, I have been very lucky. I don't need to head to the doctor every three months for treatments, and I don't have to deal with the anxiety of frequent scans to make sure there's no evidence of the disease in my system. So that's not what you're going to find here. Even so, melanoma is frequently on my mind. I realize that what causes skin cancer varies widely from patient to patient, but for me, I strongly believe that using tanning beds in my teens is what gave me melanoma in my 20s. Consequently, I've become fascinated by why young people use tanning beds in the first place (even when they know they're dangerous), and more importantly, what we can do to stop it.

This a huge undertaking--far too big for little 'ole me to tackle on my own. But I have some pretty exciting projects in the works for 2013. I can't wait to share these with you! I would never with melanoma upon anyone, but I am grateful that this experience has lit a fire under me, so to speak. I think I have the potential to become a strong advocate for melanoma prevention and early detection both in my community and across the globe.

Who knows what life would have been like if it hadn't been for that dang little black mole. I'm just thankful that I've been able to twist such a negative experience into a positive one, and that I've found a cause I am truly, truly passionate about.


This post was inspired by the Day 29 prompt for National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meet one of my favorite new bloggers!

National Health Blog Post Month Day 28: Interview a community member

Anjannette, Tara, and Chelsea on a recent trip to North Carolina.

I recently met (virtually) and immediately bonded with a wonderful woman named Anjannette from Light Skinned Mother. Anjannette was diagnosed with melanoma over the summer and has recently joined the melanoma blogging community. She was unable to participate in National Health Blog Post Month, so I invited her to collaborate with me on this post. Here's a recap of the conversation we had yesterday.

K: Tell me about your experience with melanoma.
A: I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on June 15, 2012. I developed a small mole on my neck after giving birth to my daughter. I had it removed because it itched, and the lab work came back fine. Then it grew back. Over a year and a half's time, it grew bigger and itched more. Because it was just a pink "bubble-looking" thing on my neck, I was sure it wasn't anything awful. After all, every picture I vaguely remembered seeing of melanoma were all dark, flat black/brown spots. After the itching got much worse, and after much procrastination and rescheduling of appointments, I finally got back into the dermatologist almost two years later to get it removed. I was called back to have a neck excision due to "abnormal cells" and was called back in again, urgently, two week later. The pathology report from that excision came back as malignant melanoma. It was 2mm deep. I had to have a second and much larger excision on July 13, 2012. Fortunately, the path results came back with clear margins and no evidence of disease.

K: You just started blogging back in October. What made you decide to start writing about melanoma?
A: Several reasons led me to blogging about melanoma. 1) I have always had the need to be "heard", so blogging is something I've thought about doing for a long time. 2) I have always wanted to help and educate others about various topics. 3) I was angry that I knew so little about this awful disease- the one that I ended up being diagnosed with- when I knew so much about other diseases I expected to have one day. I didn't want anyone else to be totally shocked by it. 4) It's definitely been a great form of therapy- an affordable form.

K: The name for your blog, Light Skinned Mother, is so clever! How did you come up with that name?
A: My husband, who is African- American, has a vanity plate on the front of his SUV that reads, Light Skinned Brother. Since having two children, I have been the one doing most of the driving in that car, since it was the only one big enough to tote two toddlers around. I was always drawing strange looks from people walking by, reading the plate, then looking up at me. One day, after packing up my two kids and their stroller into the car, I started to pull off and my sisters commented, “Your tag should say Light Skinned MOTHER, not brother.” And so it began as a joke between my family, friends, and I. I even started using it as my email signature. Light skinned mother took on a new meaning the week of my diagnosis. I had just purchased a much needed car, since mine was 16 years old. I contemplated getting a vanity plate for myself, but wasn’t sure I really wanted it. Four days later, on Friday, June 15, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The following Monday, my husband drove us to the mall and had the vanity plate made for my car. A few weeks later, I put the Melanoma Awareness frame around it. I truly have to be a “light skinned mother” now. So, I now wear the name even prouder.

The vanity plate that inspired the name for her blog.

K: You recently drove from Florida to North Carolina to participate in the AIM at Melanoma Walk. What was that experience like?
A: It was a VERY quick trip. I left Orlando at 11 a.m., arrived in Charlotte at 8:30 p.m. and got back on the road to return at 12 p.m. the next day. It was SO worth it, though! Friday night I met with a few people from the melanoma community that I have only been taking to online. These people have become such quick friends--no family--to me. They are the only people who really know what is going on in my head on a daily basis. They truly understand how real my fears are and how relevant my celebrations are- for clear scans, benign moles, scars, etc. They understand my guilt for not appreciating the skin I was born in. They understand a part of me that my family and other friends just can’t, no matter how hard they want to, no matter how hard they try. I was comfortable with them. Saturday morning at the walk, I was quickly warmed, despite very cold temperatures, by the people who turned out to honor friends and family members who have suffered and passed away due to melanoma. Families made shirts to announce who they were walking for. There was an entire extended family there with shirts honoring their matriarch that had passed from melanoma. The walk opened with several people sharing stories about the people they lost from melanoma. Their strength and perseverance to still be there and fight was truly inspiring to me. It was an experience I will never forget.

K: Aw... I'm jealous. OK. Last question. On your blog, you write about self esteem for young women, which is something I can definitely relate to. If you could go back and time and have a conversation with your 16-year-old self, what would you tell her?
A: Yes, self-esteem is a HUGE deal for me. I certainly had very little of it, and as a teen and in my early 20’s it was just awful. This blog for melanoma, it is my push, my second chance, at helping others, not only to educate them, but to encourage them to love themselves. You got me with this question. If you were Oprah and we were on the show, this is the part where I would start crying and you would start crying and EVERYONE would start crying. LOL!

K: My goal for this blog is the same. You are my long lost twin separated at birth!
A: Yes! Here is what I would say to the 16-year-old Anjannette: Stop trying to be who you think everybody wants to you to be. You are intelligent. You are talented. You are creative. You have the heart to move forward and make a HUGE impact in this world. Regardless of what you think others expect of you, focus on what you expect of yourself. If you aren’t aware of your own expectations, you will spend your entire life trying to meet the expectations of others. Stop trying to look like who you think everybody wants you to look like. Once you stop and appreciate yourself for who you are and what you have- your light complexion, the dark hair, your ample hips, your endowed chest, those thick eyebrows, the curly hair that people PAY to have- you will see that you ARE beautiful. When you are comparing apples to oranges, one is always going to come up short. Be you. Don’t try to look like someone else. When you finally stop to appreciate the person you are, everything that is beautiful about you will become even more beautiful. You’ve spent so long convincing yourself that you are not pretty and undeserving. When you don’t see yourself as beautiful, you will do anything and everything to stop others from seeing your beauty when they do, which will only confirm your false beliefs of unworthiness. Stop being afraid of reaching for spectacular and ending up at average. You know average. You’ve felt average your whole life. You got this. How could reaching for more and ending up where you are be worse than settling for never trying? At least you will be able to look yourself in the eye and know, you did your best. Trust me, you are destined for greatness, maybe not in the way you imagine, but greatness nevertheless. Your biggest obstacle will always be you. Get out of your own way.

Feeling inspired yet? I sure am! Go check out Light Skinned Mother, or follow Anjannette's adventures on Facebook.


This post was inspired by the Day 28 prompt for National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keep Jillian and her family in your thoughts and prayers

In lieu of today's National Health Blog Post Month prompt, today I encourage you to visit Jillian's Journey with Melanoma, a blog written by the mother of a 23-year-old suffering from stage IV melanoma. Jillian and her family just got word that her treatments are no longer effective. Her family was told by doctors that "it will take a miracle for [her] to survive." Please keep Jillian and her family in your thoughts and prayers this week.

Melanoma, even though some people still think of it as "just skin cancer," can be deadly. Take care of your skin, even in the winter. The consequences of tanning beds and sunburns are so not worth it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pin this!

National Health Blog Post Month Day 26: Make a chart / meme / poster and write about it 

I'm cheating on today's prompt a bit (shhh don't tell!) Instead of creating my own meme and writing about it, I wanted to share with you a collection of awesome skin cancer awareness memes that already exist. Melissa from Melanoma Sucks has assembled an awesome collection of images on her Melanoma Pinterest Board. These are a few of my favorites. Indulge your love for Pinterest while helping spread awareness for a good cause. Check out her board and re-pin!


This post was inspired by the Day 26 prompt for National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Firmoo UV sunglasses product review

I've never been asked to do a product review before, but let me tell you: offering UV-protective sunglasses is one way to this girl's heart.

So, here's the deal: Firmoo is a company that sells both prescription and non-prescription glasses online. Since you can't actually try them on, Firmoo lets you upload a photo of yourself and virtually "try on" different styles. Of course, it's not quite the same as trying on glasses in person, but I crossed my fingers and hoped that they would fit!

Showing off my new Firmoo sunglasses.

I don't know about you, but I wear sunglassses all year
round. Even in the winter!
Good news. They did! I picked style #OTO2581 in gunmetal because they reminded me of Ray-bans. Here is a close-up so that you can get a better idea of the style.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the frames. They're lightweight and fit my face well. They don't seem to be as high-quality as some designer frames, but the more I wear them around, the more I like them. I also love, love, love that this company emphasizes the importance of UV-protective eyewear. Firmoo sells a ton of frames for perscription glasses, too, which you can order from the site as well. If I needed perscription lenses, I would definitely try a pair from this site because they're so much cheaper than the ones you get from the eye doctor. The frames are cute, too (think sexy librarian).

Get a pair for free!
You can get a pair of glasses from Firmoo for free, too. All you have to do is pay shipping. Visit their First Pair Free Program site to learn more. Get a pair of new reading glasses for yourself or give a pair of frames as a holiday gift! If you have any questions, visit the help page. I've had a really positive experience dealing with this company so far, and I received my glasses in the mail quickly.

If you're interested in learning more, check out my review on YouTube.


Disclaimer: I received these sunglasses for free in exchange for this product review. Opinions contained in the review are my own.

Playing catch up

Eek! I've been slacking on my #NHBPM posts! I blame Thanksgiving. I was actually just thinking this morning--is it just me or is Thanksgiving weekend one of the busiest weekends of the year? I always look forward to having this super-relaxing four-day weekend, but then it turns into a marathon visit the family, visit more family, get started on Christmas shopping, eat eat eat, clean house, etc. etc. By the time you're ready to sit down and relax, it's time to go back to work! With that, onward...

National Health Blog Post Month Day 23: Clean out your fridge in written form. What’s in there? How does it reflect your personality?

My fridge is a little empty because I've been gone for the past few days, but perhaps I can still glean a little bit of my personality from what's left:

  • Leftovers from Thanksgiving on a plate and in Tupperware (including turkey breast, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and black olives). Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals of the year. Even when I was a vegetarian, I've been known to request "Thanksgiving dinner" on my birthday, which is in August. I also buy canned cranberry sauce year-round and use it to make turkey sandwiches.
  • 1% milk
  • Brita water filter
  • Goat cheese with herbs, shredded cheddar, sliced swiss cheese (I have a weakness for cheese)
  • Grape tomatoes, butter lettuce
  • Tortillas
  • Diet Coke (not mine, this is my boyfriend's. I can't stand diet soda)
  • Bottle of champagne (I read somewhere once that you should always keep a bottle of champagne in your fridge in case something happens worth celebrating. I've kept a bottle in there since. Last time I toasted was when I got a raise. Waiting patiently for the next good thing to happen)
  • Condiments: whip cream (for pie that I ate), ranch, mustard (yellow & Dijon), balsamic vinaigrette, hot sauce, ketchup, sweet and sour, and Parmesan cheese
  • Freezer: frozen veggies, pork chops, ice cream bars
How does this reflect my personality? I love food. Yum. Aside from the cheese and the ice cream, I'm actually a pretty healthy eater. I load up on tons of fresh produce every week and eat a pretty balanced diet.

National Health Blog Post Month Day 24: If I had more than 24 hours in a day…

I love this prompt because I am constantly saying, "I wish there were more hours in the day!" To be honest, I would probably just sleep more. I've been kind of an insomniac since I can remember, but I also get really cranky when I don't get enough sleep. I'm much more productive when I'm well rested (9+ hours), so I'd take some of that time, I try to use it to relax and rejuvenate. I might also try to work out more often. Going to the gym often gets cut out of my schedule when I'm busy with extra things, so it would be nice to have an extra hour or two so that I could go to the gym (or go for a jog) before work in the mornings.

National Health Blog Post Month Day 25: How have your goals as a patient / advocate / person evolved?

I don't know that my goals have evolved as much as my attitude towards them has. When I started this blog, I created the following tagline: "20-something-year-old melanoma survivor learning how to love the skin I was born in." My goal was to educate other young people about the dangers of melanoma, but also to document my own personal struggles with loving my own natural skin color. There were several times in the beginning when I felt like a huge hypocrite. Here I was going off on people on TV who wore too much bronzer, which I was still incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted to slather myself in self-tanner, too, but I felt like if I did that, I would be lying to you all. Somehow, over the course of the past eight months, I've actually started to practice what I preach. There are still times I struggle (I'm anticipating difficulties when I go to the Caribbean this winter and I'm the only person using SPF 50 like it's my religion), but overall, I think this blog has probably been more therapeutic than I ever expected it to be.


This post was inspired by prompts from National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.