Many Christians around the world are taking time to fast and pray. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that allows you to petition God in a powerful, yet intimate way. It focuses on depriving yourself of… More
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? If you think about it, your skin endures so much – from harsh elements like wind and uv rays down to the effects of products we subject it to in the name of beauty and skin care.
In recent years, I have started to care more and more about the health of my skin, particularly the skin on my face. Maybe it has something to do with the wrinkles I’m getting as I’m growing older or even the bags and dark circles I see developing under my eyes from exhaustion. Either way, I’m beginning to see the true need for skin care.
That being said, I love trying new products. Influenster recently sent me a complimentary bottle of Garnier Bio Facial Oil. I had never heard of it before, so I wanted to try it out and let you in on my thoughts.
First, let’s talk a bit about facial oils. Oil has been something that most people want to steer away from when it comes to their face. There are products on store shelves everywhere that state ‘oil-free.’ I admit, I’m usually one of those who shys away from putting oil on my face. After all, I don’t want my face to be oily. I’ve tried the oil cleansing method (washing your face with oil), which has pros and cons (leave me a comment below if you want me to do a post on it). However, using oil as a moisturizer of sorts has never made its way into my skin care routine.
Let’s jump into the review.
I’ll start off by saying that I tried this oil on two different occasions, 1 week apart. My first impression was slightly different than my second try, but the end result was the same for both.
Garnier Bio Organic Lavandin Smooth and Glow Facial Oil sells for $19.99 (CDN) on Amazon. It claims to be non-greasy and provides regenerating hydration for your skin. It claims to be 100% natural-origin fragrance. It also states that it is for all skin types, even specifiying use for sensitive skin. Garnier states that the oil is certified organic and vegan. They also utilize 100% recyclable cardboard in the packaging.
There was no clear information on what this oil was meant to be used for. I assumed it should be used as a moisturizer, but I had a difficult time finding out why I should add oil to my routine. After posting on social media, I realized that a lot of people use similar oils in their skin care routines, so maybe I’m just behind the times on this.
The scent had an essential oil smell, but not distinctly lavender. Before I tried it for the second time, I did a bit of research on Lavandin. I found that it is a cross between a few varieties of lavender, but it has a sweeter scent. I did find this to be true. It’s also not only lavandin, but has other oils in it. I found the scent to be very relaxing, soothing and calming.
The oil was not greasy, didn’t leave a film or greasy feeling on my skin the first time I used it. The second try, my face didn’t feel greasy on my face, but I did have to wash a slight film off my hands after applying a drop to my face.
In regards to the claim that it is for sensitive skin, the first time I used it, my face felt agitated, rashy and itchy. This is the reason why I waited a week and then tried it again. When I tried it the second time, I put a timer on just in case it happened again. Sure enough, within 7 minutes of applying 1 drop to my face, my skin became itchy and agitated. I did find this strange since I don’t have extremely sensitive skin. However, I react that way to Jojoba Oil and after googling the ingredient list, I found that Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil is in fact Jojoba Seed Oil.
Aside from my reaction to the Jojoba Oil, I did like this product. Although, the reaction is kind of a big deal. It means I won’t be able to utilize this particular oil in my skin care regime. If you have any suggestions for me on another oil that doesn’t have Jojoba Oil in it, let me know in the comments.
It’s Sunday evening.
Nine months have passed since I’ve last posted.
I’m writing this post as I sit and enjoy a honey crueller donut from Tim Horton’s.
I drove to the store in my pyjamas with disheveled hair specifically to buy 6 donuts. I have no plans to share them with anyone. It almost sounds like a spontaneous, impulsive decision.
I thought it out. Planned it out. I weighed out the pros and cons and decided.
You see, 2019 was a difficult year for me. As a matter of fact, I’d say it was probably the hardest year I have ever endured. Strangely enough, it’s not due to any major event. It was the hardest simply because the pressures never let up. Ok, it doesn’t sound like the two thoughts are connected, but they are.
Let me back up here for a moment.
I’ve been refined sugar free since May 15, 2011. Most of that time was spent attempting to gain some self-control in my life. What I didn’t realize was that, although it was a decision that propelled me into a physically healthy place, it was also an extreme decision. When I reflect on my life, I realize that a vast majority of my decisions are extremes. I’ve always felt some sort of comfort in those extremes. Yet, over the last year, I have come to a place where I’m attempting to live my everyday life in balance – for the sake of my mental health.
Ok, back to 2019 where many people are talking about anxiety and mental health. Rightfully so, and it’s something that’s been weighing heavy on my heart.
As a pastor and leader within the church, people often think that you’re exempt from feeling the effects of the stresses of this world. That’s simply not true. The enemy knows our weakest points. He will work at nothing to knock you – and me out of the race. If he can’t get you with one thing, he’ll try the next – and so on, and so on. Philippians 3:14 says it plainly.
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Even though the pressures in my life have only increased, I press on to reach the end of the race. I know God’s grace is sufficient. Lately, I’ve found that grace with the simple act of implementing balance. That means sometimes I have to say ‘no’ to preaching because it’s not healthy to leave my kids to their own devices for four days straight. Sometimes that means I miss training at the gym so I can work on my business before my family gets home. Other times that means going to the mall in sweats and no makeup because my daughter wants to spend time with me. It also means filling my spiritual tank before I attempt to pour into someone else’s life.
I started blogging so that I could have something that was mine simply because I enjoyed it. It gave me time to recharge with a hobby instead of filling all of my free time with obligations. My first post was 2 years ago today. Since then I have dabbled with digital art, painting, writing a novel and singing. This season of balance is helping me realize that it’s ok if I enjoy makeup or working out, crushing virtual candies or potentially trying to eat 6 donuts. *update – I couldn’t do it.* These hobbies won’t keep me from fulfilling God’s purposes – unless I’m extreme with them.
Our fight is not with mere humans, but the evil forces that are at work under the surface. The enemy has been out to steal my purpose and I’m not ok with it. I mean, the enemy went straight for the jugular in the life of my purpose. One by one, I had my heart’s passions and desires shredded to pieces. I’ve had to revisit where I’m going in life, what gifts and talents I have, what I’m meant for. For now, I’m still in that process. However, I will not judge my value based on what others have projected on me – good or bad. I know my value comes from the Lord. Even amidst all the chaos, one thing I know for sure – I only ever want to be in the centre of God’s Will.
I am so beyond grateful for every encouraging word anyone has ever spoken to me over the course of the last year. In a season where many words and actions have cut me deeply, those sweet encouragements have been a treasure I’ve held on to.
If there’s one thing I can leave you with that has helped me in some dark moments, it’s an old hymn sung by Lauren Daigle, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
Click here and use the code SPRINGLOVE for $10 off your first box: https://t.fabfitfun.com/SH18k
This video is not sponsored. The link above is an affiliate link, which means I can earn a small commission if you purchase through my link (no added cost to you).
All opinions are my own.
If there’s one piece of makeup I could wear, it would probably be mascara…
…and I’ve been on the hunt for the best one out there.
Recently, Influenster sent me the Marc Jacobs Velvet Primer & Mascara for free to try. I thought it would be fun to do a side by side comparison of it with my current favourite. (Scroll to the end of this post to see the video)
Here are my thoughts on it:
The primer kind of weirded me out. I felt like it made my eyelashes look like spiders – it just really creeped me out. I couldn’t even post a picture of each step on instagram because it just weirded me out too much.
The packaging is beautiful and definitely feels luxuriously expensive. The tubes are a bit large, so it wouldn’t be extremely practical for traveling.
The primer separated my eyelashes well and places them nicely. It coated the lashes well and I only needed one coat. Once again, I didn’t love that the primer is nude coloured.
The mascara was nice and voluminous and it applied nicely to my lashes. It kept them separated, yet coated them in a nice balance. I found that it lengthened my lashes, but added no curl to them. As a matter of fact, I felt like it lengthened them by straightening them. I lost all natural lash curves while wearing this.
I don’t normally use a primer, and I didn’t love this one entirely. I found the colour made mascara application a little more tedious. I’ll still use the one I have on days when I can spend some time putting on makeup.
The mascara is good (It didn’t make it to my absolute favourite), but I’ve been using it almost everyday.
I would rate it 8/10.
Also, I will point out here that while editing my video review, I definitely liked the look of the Marc Jacobs Primer & Mascara better than my everyday L’Oreal mascara. I just found that the camera picked it up so much better.
*Disclaimer* I am not a doctor, please check with your doctor before you attempt to fast.
So, Lent is coming.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to it before (except when we used to sell chocolate covered almonds for a fundraiser every March/April – every person I tried selling them to responded with ‘I gave up sweets for Lent’).
Normally what we do is join in a fast for the month of January. However, this year, we decided to fasting during Lent.
But this brings me to my first question…
Do you ever feel like fasting is a little far-fetched for the average person to achieve?
Today I’m going to show you some practical things that you can do to make your fasting experience a little easier, so you can focus on praying and not on how you are dying of starvation.
I used to get so mad at myself for not being able to complete a fast.
…until I gave up sugar.
That’s when it hit me! Sugar makes it so much harder to fast!
2 weeks before a fast, I like to give up sugar, caffeine and any other food item I feel drawn towards – like breads.
#2 Have A Plan
One of things I’ve been learning over the years is that planning and preparation is key to so many areas in life (if not all of them!).
Things you want to plan for are:
- Type of fasting
- Spiritual focus
I put together this handy fasting guide to help get through this fast with focus and purpose. There are no dates on it so that you can use it at your own convenience.
#3 Bring Power To Your Prayer
Go into your fast with great expectations. Know what you want to seek God for. Seek His face with everything you have!
If you want to join me in this fast, leave me a comment and download the fasting guide.
Also, if you want to join in with the Bible plans on the Bible app, add me as a friend (search Sheri Ciaramitaro or VinGoshen).
It’s February 11th.
Last year on this day, I boarded an international flight to Israel.
So, to help me reminisce, I decided to edit some video footage into a highlight video – it definitely gives me all the feels.
Editing the video made me realize how much my heart longs for Israel. I loved it with everything in me.
I will be back.
Until then, hopefully this video gives you a glimpse into the treasure of a trip we had in Israel.
I’ve never been to a bed and breakfast before.
To be honest, I never really wanted to. The idea of a personable travel experience kind of scared me.
However, last week, Brian & I had the opportunity to visit the Iron Kettle in Comber, ON. It was part of a work getaway – a retreat to plan out 2019 and connect with the other members of the team.
My first impression
Comber is a pretty small town, established in 1848 – if you blink, you might miss it. It’s quaint, and the perfect location for a B & B.
As I do with every other travel experience, I researched everything I could about it. I read every aspect of the website, read articles and even watched some videos. The thing that stood out the most to me – and what I loved about it – was that they do not serve alcohol. I don’t know entirely why I loved that so much, but I did.
Bags in tow, I instantly felt nostalgia tug on my heart as we stepped through the front door. If I closed my eyes, I could very well have been walking through the front door to visit my Oma & Opa.
The foyer was beautifully adorned with an 1800-style trim & wood details that perfectly framed the entrance. A bucket full of knitted slippers were available to keep your feet toasty warm.
We arrived at noon and the owner, Benjamin Leblanc-Beaudoin had prepared a spread of culinary cuisine. There was no denying that he is a chef, by trade – foccacia, prosciutto croissants, root vegetable salad. After eating lunch, I knew I’d probably eat more than I should over the next 24 hours.
After a few hours of working and brainstorming with the team, we sat down in the dining room for dinner. Warm bread welcomed us as we gathered, followed by a salad of baby greens, honey roasted carrots and macadamia nuts tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette. My favourite part of the salad was the macadamia nuts! For the main course, we had a choice of lemon poached salmon or grilled rib-eye steak with mashed potatoes and a roasted medley of vegetables that invigorated every taste bud. I had the salmon, which had a burst of flavour in every bite and tasted like nothing I’ve ever had before! For someone who has never really cared about food, I absolutely loved it! Dessert looked amazing – vanilla creme brulee – and for a split second, I almost caved and ate it. Instead, I watched as everyone savoured every spoonful of the perfectly carmelized custard.
After dinner, I pretty much-needed a nap. Food that good should never be followed up by work. However, since that was the purpose of our retreat, we retired to the sitting room. There was more than enough room for all 10 of us to sit around the room, comfortable enough to engage in a planning session.
Brian & I stayed in the Iron Kettle Room, located on the main floor, just inside the foyer and at the base of the stairs.
Each room is equipped with a queen bed, a bathroom (with a shower), a bathrobe, toiletries, ceiling fan and a sitting space. There is also wi-fi throughout the house, so people like me can stay connected to our kids. We also had a portable heater in our room due to the fact that it was -40 outside.
Just a little chilly.
The bed was quite comfortable and surprisingly warm, given the fact that it was so cold outside.
I woke up to the sweet aroma of breakfast and coffee – the perfect way to start the morning.
I loved the atmosphere – especially the feel that the house had in the wake of the polar vortex. Everything was clean and beautiful. The owners (we only met Ben) were so personable and I loved hearing their story and the history of the house. Also, we felt so welcomed that it was almost like we were old friends.
For my very first experience at a B & B, it was definitely an impressionable stay. Although work brought us there, it absolutely felt more like home.
If you haven’t been there, I would highly recommend checking it out.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a blog – I want to say it’s because I’ve been busy.
Yes, we will say it was a combo of the holidays, vacation, and busyness of trying to serve in ministry, film & edit videos, all while entering into the production phase of our new board game (check out SoapBox Games).
…but I’m back….
Today, it’s a video on my latest gel shot experience.
12 years ago I tore my meniscus (working out on the elliptical of all places). I ignored it until a few years later when we went on a cruise. Simply walking around NYC for a full day, I tore it even further.
I’ll spare you the details, but the back of my knee turned into a blue baseball.
Surgery was the answer. It was supposed to make it all better.
…it made it all worse.
I had a scuff on my knee cap and the doc decided to take all the shredded cartilage out of my knee.
Bone on bone. That’s what I was left with.
My options were slim, but I opted for gel injections. (Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried them before). I have a love-hate relationship with them, but they provide me with much-needed relief.
I don’t want this post to be too long, so I won’t go into the details…but until something new and innovative comes along (like a bio-knee or something), I’ll be injecting this beauty of synovial-fluid-like gel into my knee for the next 30 years.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done any travelling.
I seem to be in the mode of booking vacations just before or just after each vacation.
I’ve had my Facebook memories hitting me up with past cruises and Disney vacations, which is absolutely pulling on my travel heart-strings even more than the norm.
We try to take a vacation of some sort around April or May, but that didn’t happen this year. We took a big trip to Israel in February, so that meant we needed to save, save, save before we booked another vacation.
So, until then, I’ll be dreaming of all things vacation.
Wait, I mean, we just got back from our third vacation this year.
(but I’ll still be dreaming of all things vacation)
We have visited Disney a few times as a family. I am a crazy vacation planner and I hate wasting money, so I put together a list of things that can help you afford a trip to Disney.
Fly on a discount airline.
Lately Spirit has been flooding my eyes with $50 flights. Choosing a discount airline can really help save you money (as long as you don’t book extras and don’t over pack). Try Spirit or Frontier.
Yes, I know this isn’t necessarily an option for everyone (like if you’re travelling overseas), but for those who live in the US or Canada, it is not only possible, but it can save you money. You can use sites like Gas Buddy to map out your fuel stops and estimate an approximate cost of fuel to drive.
If driving isn’t an option, try to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, they are the cheapest days to fly (my absolute favourite airline is Southwest).
Vacation Resort Certificates
A lot of people stay on Disney property because they don’t know there are super amazing money-saving options (and maybe some people just love Disney more than others). I may have mentioned it in a post before, but resort certificates are basically unused timeshares that companies sell on discount sites. I always check out Sky Auction. The site is a bit overwhelming when you first see it, but once you know what you’re looking for, it’s not as daunting.
Vacation Resort Certificates are usually sold under the heading ‘Hot Deals’ or ‘Deal of the Day.’ They run between $250-$300 (US) for a week.
We have stayed at beautiful resorts equipped with full kitchens, laundry and much more. In 2017, we stayed at one that slept 10 and was less than 10 minutes from Disney.
I’ll just insert here that I’m extremely picky when it comes to places I will stay.
This really depends on your specific desires for what parks to visit, etc. When we went in 2017, there was an option to buy a 4 Day Ticket and you also got 4 Fun Passes, which could be used for the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach) or mini golf. This type of ticket only seems to be available now if you choose the park hopper option. I don’t personally recommend the park hopper because from my experience, I’ve been too wiped out to travel to more than one park in a day. Plus there are so many things to do at each of the parks, I’m not even sure where you would find the time to go to another park (unless you are a frequent Disney visitor, then maybe you’ve been there, done that and ready to just experience your favourites at each park…I don’t know, if you’re a park hopper, let me know why you love it in the comments below).
For our most recent trip (2018), we were able to get the Canadian Resident Discount, which saved us some money.
Food & Drink
If you are going to Disney with the intent on buying food and drinks while you’re there, be prepared to spend an arm and a leg.
You are allowed to bring in food/drinks within reason to the parks. We went to the grocery store beforehand and stocked up on snacks and protein bars (ok, and some brownies) and threw them in a backpack like this one. It’s great because it has a ‘water bottle’ built into it. You can ask for water at any station and they will give you a cup of cold, ice water for free. That allowed us use our money for more meaningful things (like Starbucks!!), plus it’s healthier than pop (which will cost $4-5 each). Then when we left the park, we would swing by a restaurant for a light meal.
Besides food, this is where they get you.
If you stay for the show at the end of the night, chances are you or your kids are going to see all the flashy, glowing Mickey Mouse things and impulses may kick in. Let’s just say, if that happens, you’ll easily spend $20 on something you could’ve bought a few miles down the street for a buck. Orlando is packed with stores that sell Disney goodies. We went to Target and Wal-Mart and found whole sections stocked only with Disney gear.
Go prepared. I actually bought a Cinderella dress from the Disney outlet in Michigan for my daughter before we left for Florida in 2012. I spent $10 on it. The same dress in Magic Kingdom was far beyond that.
Don’t forget that there will be little extra costs laced throughout your trip. The best way to save money is to be prepared (like planning for the $25 parking fee per day).
Speaking of preparation, make sure you go online ahead of time (30 days in advance/60 days if you stay on Disney property) and book your Fast Pass+. Map out how you want to visit each park. That way, you can get the most bang for your buck! Beware, though, you’ll end up exhausted and sore by the end of your trip. It’s just all part & parcel for the experience.
I have a very intricate way that I plan my travels. I like spending my money on things that matter, rather than spending all my money just to get somewhere.
Disney is expensive, there’s no way around that. However, there are ways that you can experience the happiest place on earth without breaking the bank.
I’m sitting here in Baltimore, at the airport.
I’m waiting for a flight home – well, to Detroit.
I booked this Spirit flight over the Southwest flight because the layover was shorter – only 52 minutes.
…or so it was supposed to be.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Our flight from Orlando to Baltimore was delayed because of an incident with a passenger on the flight before ours.
It was all good, though.
He apologized to us after he was walked off by the officers.
After he exited the aircraft, we were able to board.
The flight was mostly uneventful, until the captain came on the speaker and announced that we would be experiencing some turbulence during our landing.
That may have been an understatement.
My kids said they felt like they were riding the Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios.
I’d agree with that.
As we decended into Baltimore, the weather was wet and visibility was poor from our window. I didn’t even see the ground until moments before we touched down.
I couldn’t help but feel like something was wrong with the plane.
I said a little prayer asking God to have them check the plane before we took off again to Detroit.
You know what?
They announced that they needed to run some diagnostics on the plane and we would be delayed an hour.
An hour went by.
Finally, they announced that our flight would be delayed for 4.5 hours.
People started screaming and that’s when you start to see things that make you shake your head.
They offered everyone vouchers.
It was 8:45pm.
I waited in line for our vouchers.
The options were
- Get a refund, find your own flight
- Get a $7 food voucher and wait the 4.5 hours
- Rebook the same flight for the next day, 7:30pm
We took option 2. It was really our only option because we had nowhere to go in Baltimore.
It was now 8:52pm, I walked down the corridor to the food places. They all seemed to be closing their gates.
I asked the lady at McDonald’s.
Yes, they all close at 9pm.
McDonald’s gave me all the food they had available – a 10 pack of chicken tenders, 3 fries and 2 ice cream cones.
Now, as I write this, everyone is sitting, charging their devices, sharing food and waiting another 2 hours for our plane to arrive.
So much for my decision to book the shorter layover.
It’s all good, though.
The way I look at it, there are two ways to process this.
- Get mad at everyone and everything.
- Be grateful for our safety.
I choose option 2.
I choose gratefulness.
I would much rather arrive 5 hours late, than not at all.
So, for that, I am grateful that Spirit has my safety in their best interest.
All in all, our travels home took us more than 12 hours, but we arrived.