Lessons I have learned about professional skin care

As my regular readers may know, I recently started helping a friend of a friend launch her social media marketing for her solopreneurship, woman-owned business, Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing.

I hesitate to call her a client, because I help her with her publicity and she gives me a facial once a month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about skin care.

My interest in make-up and skin care came late in life and I think I was also a late bloomer when it came to developing my own sense of style. So to help Merri with her business is also a great way for me to grow and take better care of myself.

So, please please please if you are local to the Lehigh Valley consider checking out Lucha Bella, like the Facebook page, find Merri on Instagram at @luchabella_skincare and book online via http://www.luchabella.com.

I am by far no influencer, but I am a real person with a real life perspective so without further ado let me share with you what I have learned about getting a facial.

  1. It’s not just about your face. The Bella Facial at Lucha Bella involves the face, neck, shoulders, hands and arms.
  2. It’s a great stress reliever— the Bella Facial includes a variety of massage that leaves the upper body feeling loose and amazing.
  3. You esthetician can help you with your individual skin problems and work with you on how to not only look good but also maintain healthy skin.
  4. The attention and solace provides a mental rest and a sense of rejuvenation that matches the glow you will see in your skin.
  5. A Bella Facial includes waxing the chin, upper lip and eyebrows, so not only does losing the dead skin make you feel and look younger, but you don’t have to spend your time plucking. And professional products are less harsh on the skin, reducing redness and potential irritation.
  6. An esthetician has access to the latest industry products so you don’t have to waste your money on things you may not like or may forget to use.

The experience to me is about a place of peace, the fact that I come out with fresh skin and free of my physical tension is a bonus.

It’s a lovely reminder to slow down and be kind to yourself.

And for me it’s extra fun as I get to try adventurous new products like a collagen mask that dried like clay on my face. It went on super cold and thick like honey. My skin absorbed the collagen which made the mask warm and dried it out. Some of the pieces didn’t come off as nicely as Merri would have liked, but they made this amazing clinking sound as they hit each other.

It made my skin feel fresh and refreshed.

Caturday of cuddles

This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.

I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:

  1. Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
  2. Can I survive on the pay?

But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.

Or so I hope.

My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.

Okay, enough whining.

The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)

And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)

My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.

I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.

In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.

Vale of the Norse Pride

In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.

I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.

Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.

I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.

The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.

I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.

And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.

Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.

Happy Fluffy Day

Happy Friday, my faithful and potentially new readers!

I started today somehow determine to clean my room and perform the weekly maintenance on my roomba that should have been done at least three months ago.

That took a lot of time and energy, especially since my rib is still bothering me from my fall last Friday. This is one of the many things that keeps life spicy when you have cerebral palsy.

But the unseasonably warm weather and everything fluffy kept me happy amidst my chores.

Then my silly Goffins cockatoo, Nala, decided to dive into her water bowl.

Silly bird

I received a text from one of my neighbors inviting me over for coffee, so I took my filthy self, my quince jelly and my last two English muffins and enjoyed some chit chatting with my other half (she owns the other half of my double). And Buddy, her dog, was handsome as always.

Buddy

Then I heard from another neighbor, Sobaka’s mom, that “cookie walk” could be scheduled for about 11:15. Cookie walk is a trip around the neighborhood where we visit with another neighbor’s mom and step dad as we collect treats for the dog.

We decided to do errands together with me as chauffeur. After a trip to the ever amazing Carmelcorn in downtown Easton (I did not go in— she who has a BMI of almost 27 and no income does not need candy), we finished our outing with a stop to CVS where I needed to grab my prescription and some food deals.

I came home and made some DiGiorno frozen pizza. Teenager #1 and I agree that the stuffed crust on the stuffed crust DiGiorno was delicious, but the pizza was lackluster. The four cheese DiGiorno was incredible.

As if that wasn’t enough goodness from today, I received a text from Zeus and Apollo’s new mom. She says they are doing well. And sent photos!

She has no idea how happy her text made me. This is some of what she had to say:

I wanted to tell you these little kitties are amazing. They are fearless even around our other kitties. So far everyone seems to be getting along , they are very curious about each other. The little ones are still timid to get pets but took treats and played.

Cats, doctors and Dunkin’

I was up until 2 am last night cuddling kittens and watching Gotham Garage on Netflix.

The Fluff butts of the Norse Pride are battling ringworm— the teenager and I also have that fungal delight.

When I woke this morning around 7, I saw an email from my new employer StitchFix telling me that my orientation is 6:30 am to 3 pm on Monday— and my doctors appointment for my blood pressure, itching, anxiety and cerebral palsy. But now I also have ringworm and some aching in my ribs from my fall.

I really didn’t want to start my new job with all of these things untreated. Luckily my doctor’s office had an opening today.

And I had trouble with all of the apps to do the paperwork for StitchFix. Still haven’t straightened it out.

I decided to change up my makeup for Zeus and Apollo’s adoption today. Teenager #1 and I headed to Chaar to meet their new family.

I hope they send lots of photos!

I promised the teenager an egg wrap from Dunkin on the way home but for some reason the app wouldn’t let me order eggs.

The doctor’s visit went fine and their social worker will call me to help with Medicaid and whatnot.

On the way home from the doctor, I finally got the egg wrap for the teenager, a doughnut with sprinkles for the other teenager, a glazed doughnut for my friend who was coming over, and I finally got to try the sourdough egg sandwich.

MY REVIEW

The bread is bigger than the eggs. Very spongy and I feel like it would make delicious toast. I feel like the bread would be better as a side. Or as a BLT. For $5– I’d rather have one of their other egg sandwiches.

Five minutes and counting

By the time I finish writing this the polls will be open. One of my friends referred to it as an old white man contest.

I’ve been quiet lately— struggling with an outbreak of ringworm among the kittens and teenager #1 and I. We moved The Norse Pride of foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab into my room and The Roman Pride into teenager #1’s room. The hope is that this will increase the Romans’ trust in humans.

Meanwhile… I lost my bedfellow Fog (which distresses me greatly and he is obviously upset about it and then teenager #1 made him wear a bow tie so I may never be forgiven) and gained scenes like this:

Vale & Loki, brothers

Teenager #1 insisted they were too small and too tame to harass the birds… so I suppose this is my imagination.

But in other news, my neighbor and I had a tea party last night. She has started using her mother’s tea pot and I have fancy tea cups and even fancier jams so we joined forces.

And this was after I made lemon butter caper gravy for dinner so all in all if nothing else it was a tasty day.

Chicken and Brussel sprouts with caper gravy

Teenager #1 explained to Teenager #2 that my food and television choices are a barometer of my mood. When I’m watching Gordon Ramsay my mental health is strong, but when I’m watching Hoarders I’m trying to feel better about myself.

By those rules, what does it mean that I binge-watched the entire series of Good Girls this weekend?

Speaking of this weekend, it felt so good to attend a football game. Here is the halftime show: Wilson Warrior Marching Band Avatar

What did not feel so good was the fall I took Friday night. I fell with all my weight on my right hand so my palm, wrist and thumb are all bruised. And I elbowed myself in the ribs— not quite hard enough to qualify for a bruised rib but hard enough so my right side hurts and I can’t lay on it. Or cough. But that’s how life goes when you are a clutz with cerebral palsy.

Have a great day.

Taco Bell Tantrums

My teenagers and I decided to splurge and order a party pack from Taco Bell.

(As a side note: I discovered they have very good iced coffee at Taco Bell, available right now for a dollar, and their powdered creamer is some strange thing like “ecostix” or something and it didn’t have any fake, chemical or soy taste. Kudos, Taco Bell.)

But upon getting the party pack home, we discovered the most ridiculous thing.

Remember the whole gag with the cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

Well my cockatoo apparently has tantrums for Taco Bell.

YouTube: Tantrums for Taco Bell

How to Survive During a Pandemic

This one might be hard to write.

First, let’s publicize the good news. The Mighty published my “how to go to the doctor during Covid” essay that they accepted in June: What to expect. The Mighty is a social media site for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Last night, I interviewed for a position in my local Stitch Fix warehouse. I was told I could expect an offer in coming days.

Stitch Fix would be less grueling than any of the other warehouse opportunities (Chewy, Amazon, FedEx, UPS) and less irritating than retail since we never have to interact with the customers.

I am very grateful for the opportunity, and if nothing else comes along in the next few days, I will accept it— and I asked for second shift in hopes of continuing to build Thrive Public Relations and fulfill my volunteer commitments (ASPIRE to Autonomy, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mary Meuser Memorial Library and the county Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board).

I don’t know if I can physically handle the job as I am a forty-something with issues in her S1 joint thanks to decades of life with cerebral palsy. But if I get the position I want, I’ll be walking more than 10 miles a day so I’ll lose weight.

I’ll be talking to my doctor (already had a talk with my chiropractor) about what might happen to my body.

And I have to admit that I’m annoyed and frustrated that I lost my job about 15 weeks ago and unemployment hasn’t even looked at my case yet do to the backlog. The wage at StitchFix will be almost exactly what unemployment would have paid me.

And that, my friends, is about 65% of my former salary.

So this “good news” is scary. But that is life as it stands in this body, in this region, in this country, in this world right now.

Sheetz Shenanigans

Tonight, the teenagers had their last competition recording and end of year review concert for marching band. Saturday is the last football game— I have a much coveted ticket.

Teenager #1 earned her varsity letter tonight. Teenager #2 earned a pin.

Proud of these two

After the performance, the teenager wanted her dad to take her for ice cream but he’d had some alcohol so he asked me to take her.

But I dilly-dallied over the menu too much and Dairy Queen closed before we got there.

I salvaged the evening by offering a trip to Sheetz. We all got milkshakes— Teenager #1 got the Monster Mash and all she would say was “mmmmm” over and over; teenager #2 got a custom chocolate caramel milkshake with brownie bits. I redeemed some rewards points (which turned out to be a fairly complex process) for the pucker shake. I’m not even sure what it really was but it was a blue milkshake with lots of sour patch kid pieces. I loved it.

Though Sheetz really could give the milkshakes a wider straw.

I ordered an appetizer sampler of boneless wings, jalapeño poppers and Wisconsin cheese curds. I already knew I loved Sheetz’s jalapeño poppers, but their cheese curds are beyond amazing. The boneless wings were dry and disappointing.

Dairy Queen retains the title for best chicken.

Meanwhile, the sugar from that milkshake left me feeling super hyped and more inebriated than an alcoholic beverage.

Fostering scare: “Trapped” kitten

Every animal mishap when you have pets— and consider yourself an experienced pet owner— starts with the phrase: “I knew better” or “I should have known better.”

This one is no exception.

Everything I state in this blog entry is based on my 40-somethings years of experience with all sorts of cats and a teen obsession with Cat Fancy magazine circa 1990. Do my knowledge may be wrong, don’t take what I say as gospel. I’m just trying to spare you from making my mistakes.

So, yesterday, the teenager suggested moving two of our foster litter, The Roman Pride, to join Hermes (our final in-house résident from The Greek Pride) now six months old and young, fluffy The Norse Pride.

Clockwise from top: Loki, Vale & Hermes

Now, what we should have done is brought the cat carrier to the mud room, put the kittens in, and transported them to the teenager’s room. What we did instead (and I was dumb to do this) was scoop them up and carry them into the kitchen.

The teenager even warned me that I had a terrible hold of Vesta, the most timid of her litter. Now, my cat friends, do not confuse timid with docile.

As soon as we set foot in the kitchen— Vesta started to wiggle and I lost my hold of her. A timid cat is a scaredy-cat. This poor kitten has been in a house three weeks, and I suddenly try to carry her away from her siblings into a room— a new world— that she has never seen.

Luckily, her cat instinct drove her into the bathroom off the kitchen. Unfortunately she wedged herself between the shower and the wall.

That little glowing moon is a cat eye

There is a litter box right next to this shower, we gave her a plate of wet food and closed the door. We had to wait her out. She had to regain her sense of safety and trust in her environment. We closed the door.

About four hours later, the teenager tried to disassemble the shower, but it’s so old the fasteners are corroded. So we had to wait.

In the morning, she was screaming. I opened the door and after a few minutes the screaming stopped and she cautiously crawled free.

But then my personal cats scared her. Back she went. I moved my personal cats to another location in the house, have her food, and left the door to the room where her siblings are open. The bathroom door was also open.

After a while, I brought the calmest sibling of her litter into the bathroom and the two of them called to each other and then I put Minerva back with her brother.

All the doors are open.

About ten minutes later, Vesta carefully crept toward her siblings and “home base.” All kittens safe.

My top 10 videos on YouTube

I started a YouTube channel long ago to record and transmit a video to one of my friends’ writing classes. Six years ago. Somewhere around three or four years ago, I ramped up my production of videos with no real rhyme or reason.

What surprises me is what people watch and what they don’t. I now have about 325 subscribers but they don’t really interact often so I’m not sure if I have a certain type of audience or not.

Because I don’t promote my YouTube videos (they are crude and unedited and not really meant to be a commodity) I think most of my viewers stumble upon me by happenstance.

But I thought it would be fun to share with you the top ten most viewed videos on my YouTube channel.

10. The list begins with author Jordan Sonnenblick doing a reading from his new-at-the-time book at Mary Meuser Memorial Library. 557 views

Jordan Sonnenblick

What puzzles me is that # 11 is my review of a Starbucks Maple Pecan muffin at 554 views. Review of the muffin and at 475 views there is a few second video of a unicorn icee. Unicorn icee

9. This one is the now teenager as elementary school student (six years ago!!) playing variations of Bingo on her 3/4 baritone. 586 views.

Bingo

8. This one has 776 views and all it is is ducks recorded during our road trip to Georgia.

Ducks

7. The teenager’s middle school band playing an Irish Jig. 783 views. The composer/arranger commented on this one.

Irish Jig for Young feet by Travis J. Weller

6. Another marching band video from three years ago, the teenager’s high school victory song. 1,000 views.

Hail to the Warriors

5. (And 4.) The teenager as a middle schooler explaining how to assemble a sousaphone. Part one has 1,600 views whereas part two only has 1,200.

Putting a Sousaphone Together part one

Putting a sousaphone together part two

3. My daughter’s first season in marching band, stand tunes at a football game. 1,600 views

Warpath

2. My daughter as an eighth-grader playing Smoke on the Water on a sousaphone. 1,700 views

Smoke on the water

And #1 — for reasons I don’t understand:

My daughter removing my splinter

This video has 506,000 views. And my chipped nail polish received much criticism. Next time I will be sure to paint my nails before trying to remove a splinter.

So other popular videos include:

Opie the 3-legged cat and I make my bed (327 views)

Sun conure (322 views)

Yet Marzieh Hashemi only received 289 views. Marzieh Hashemi at a rally in DC