Tough Tested - "Driver" mono earbuds Review

I have been hesitant to write this review because it isn't entirely a positive review.  It isn't entirely a negative review either.  I struggle with saying negative things about great companies such at Tough Tested.  After a bit of internal debate and a talk with the always wonderful Gigi, I realized they don't become great without overcoming those little bumps in the road.  This is where Tough Tested shines! Their customer service and their willingness to work out the kinks.


A while ago I received a set of their Driver Noise Control Mono Earbuds with In-Line Mic as part of a gift pack for winning a contest. Also included in the pack was their Tech Gear Bag and an iPhone charger.  Being an Android user I was unable to use the iPhone charger, but it made a great gift to a friend who loves it!  Review of the Tech Gear Bag will follow shortly.

The Good:



All of Tough Tested's earbuds come packed in a study hard plastic case that while sealed and secure it is not "adult proof".  You know that dreaded so called child proof stuffed that dulls scissors, breaks can openers, shatters ceramic knives, and sends c14 explosive running away in tears.  Thank you Tough Tested for not using that stuff!  


Also, in a sea of black cords, Tough Tested stands out with a touch of Orange.  After all Orange is the New Black.  And in the trucking world Orange is safety too.  It's easy to see. It's nice touch.  


The single over the ear hook is comfortable even for small ears.  It doesn't pinch or dig.  I especially loved Tough Tested choice of earbud tips.  They offer two; the standard half sphere, and a diminishing three tiered set.  Both sets come in a soft silicon.  For me having small ears and even smaller ear canals the tiered set were the most comfortable.  



The in-line mic has a clip that allows it to be placed anywhere on your shirt for maximum control of voice output quality.  There are volume controls and a switch for EQ when you just want to listen to music, and voice for when you are talking on the phone.  Now let me tell you the sound quality is EXCELLENT even for a single earbud.  Whether you are listening to music, youtube, or an important business conference you are going to hear everything, and hear it comfortably.


The Bad:


Unfortunately, people on the other end could not hear me very well. No matter where I placed the mic, even holding it up close to my mouth I was told I sounded muffled.  This was a problem with the Marine set as well.  I tried using both sets with a different phone and in different conditions with no change.  After talking with a few other people who have used the Tough Tested earbuds we came to the conclusion that it was most likely an issue with the pitch/tone of my voice not being compatible with the internal mic settings, as they have not had this problem. For those that don't know me, I have a soft, unique highish pitch voice. Men and women with a stronger or deeper voice have no problems talking into these and being heard by those on the other end.  After talking with Gigi, we plan on getting together at GATS and doing a few tests to work out the kinks.  Now that is customer service!


The Overall:


Despite actually being unable to talk on the Driver Earbud set at this time, I still would give Tough Tested high marks for quality, durability, versatility, comfort, and customer service. After GATS I plan to do an update on the earbuds and see if we were able to work out the voice issues.  

If you are looking for a sturdy set of comfortable earbuds to wear while you are driving that are both durable and offer good sound quality I would recommend any of the Tough Tested brand earbuds, single or double.  Please don't let my issue stop you from trying them. I've spoken with several people who use them regularly and it appears my situation is unique.  Beyond that, their custom service is top notch!  If you're not familiar with their brand of products look for them in any of the major truck stops, especially Love's.  

Or you can check out their website:  http://mizco.com/tough-tested/
From there you can find both their Facebook and Twitter links!  If you're going to GATS make sure to stop by their booth too!



~Sierra Sugar



America, just stop!

America.

It has often been stated as being the greatest nation on earth by both Americans and foreigners alike.  Every year there are not hundreds, not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of people that come to America both legally and illegally.  This has been going on for a couple hundred years. Which just by itself says something.  Parts of our history is ugly, yes.  Parts of our present is ugly too.  But a few things everyone needs to consider since America became, well...America.

We have freedom of speech.  This allows people to speak out publicly with out fear of persecution from their government.  That's right.  All those things you don't like, are offended by, disagree with, you can say so without fear of the government throwing you in jail, or worse.  Some countries behead you.  That doesn't mean your speaking out against what ever offends you gives you the right to take away some one else's rights.  You just have the right to complain.

We have freedom of religion.  Which allows every one to practice what ever religion they want, or no religion at all.  You don't like Christianity?  That's fine!  Great!  Don't go to church, or buy crosses, or say the words "...under God" when reciting the pledge.  That's your right.  Practice what ever religion you want, or don't practice any.  Don't take away someone else's ability to practice theirs.  You do not have that right.

We have a government system set up, while not perfect, it in theory has a checks and balance within it self.  Further, it is ultimately purviewed by the very people it is governing, that means you and me.  And we have always had the right to bear arms.
Not for hunting.
Not for protection against robbery.

**But for protection against a tyrannical government should it try to grow too powerful like governments from world history.**

Do Hitler and Stalin ring any bells?  What about the British government the American Revolution fought to escape?  THAT is our INALIENABLE right to bear arms.  Untouchable. Undeniable.  Can't be taken away.  Not just shot guns, but all guns. Our forefathers were smart enough set in motion the legal necessities to protect us, US, the people.

These are just some of the many reasons millions of people have come to America since the beginning of America.  It's worked for over 200 years.  Certainly not everything is perfect.  And not all citizens like all these things, but they don't have to like them, just abide by them.  Laws, from our ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION , were not made to be liked.  It's called compromise for the sake of order and safety. These are the reasons America has been called such a great nation, a nation of opportunity. Our freedom and foundation is strong.  Stop chipping away at it!!!

Just because you are offended doesn't make it wrong!

~Sierra Sugar

Can't we all just get along?



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


The holidays are always a busy time of year.  People rushing from work, home, stores, and other various places getting ready for what ever festivities are included in their traditions.  The roads always seem more crowded and plagued with accidents.  We all like to think we are safe drivers.  “It”, meaning an accident, would never happen to us.  But chances are in your lifetime you will be involved in at least one automobile accident of some kind.

Slow down.  Be aware.  Leave space between vehicles.  Look for an out.  Don't text/talk on the phone and drive.  These are all common sense driving tips everyone is familiar with.  They are preached to us from the time we start driving.  But very few people are ever really taught how to drive around big trucks.  There is a common misconception that truck drivers are reckless, always in a hurry, speeding, or just other wise in the way of the common average American commuting on the highways.  Now granted, there are a few bad apples in every bunch, truck drivers and auto drivers alike.  I'd like to think though for the most part many of the accidents and aggravation come from simple ignorance, which can be remedied with a bit of education and a touch of patience.

Historical Fact:  Route 66 was the first fully paved highway in the United States.  It was completed to help truckers carry goods from the Midwest to the West coast and back.  It was later used for tourists and vacationers as a way to see the western part of the country.

Here are a few tips to help everyone as they go about their days and nights on the road preparing for the holidays, and every day beyond.  A little bit of education goes a long way.  Please pass this along and help make the roads safer for you, your loved ones, and everyone else out there.

The average car (4-wheeler in trucker terms) weighs about 4500lbs.

The average SUV or truck weighs about 7000lbs.

The average Tractor (without a trailer on the back), also known as a “Bobtail” weighs about 17000lbs – 20000lbs.

The average Tractor/Trailer combination when empty weighs about 35000lbs.

A Tractor/Trailer fully loaded weighs 80000lbs and up.  The more axels on a trailer the more weight it is pulling.

Speaking of weight and big trucks, they can't speed up and slow down like the average car.  It takes a lot of momentum, horsepower, and torque to get a big truck up a hill.  Typically a truck driver will try to gain a little extra speed before heading up a steep incline depending on how much weight he or she is pulling.  As the truck starts loosing power up the hill they will downshift for more pulling power.  If you block a truck in while going up a hill you are slowing that momentum down and making it infinitely harder for that truck to make it up the hill.  80,000lbs is a LOT of dead weight to haul and they need that speed.  So if you see a trucker coming up behind you on an incline, try to let him by if you can.  It's easier for you in a car to slow down and speed up on a hill than that heavily weighted truck.

Inversely, a fully loaded truck going down hill gains momentum and speed.  The weight of the freight in the trailer pushes the tractor down.  Unlike car brakes, when a big truck's brakes get hot they don't work at all.  Truckers rely on engine brakes and lower gear ratios to safely and somewhat slowly get them down the hill.

So that trucker you are annoyed with for slowing you down to a crawl up a hill and then appearing to race you down the hill, isn't being a jerk.  They are simply working within the mechanics of the truck they drive.  It's physics, nothing more.

When you are diving your car, truck, or SUV think about what happens when you hit the brakes.  How long does it take for you to stop when you are traveling 30mph?  65Mph?  When the roads are dry?  When the roads are wet?  It takes a big truck MUCH longer!  They can't just stop on a dime, or even a dollar.  If you cut off a big truck and then hit your brakes to slow down, you are just asking to be rear ended.  The laws of physics aren't in your favor, as there simply is no way a big truck can stop that fast.  And believe it or not, an empty truck and a bobtail are even more difficult to stop than a truck that is fully loaded.  That 3-car lengths you were taught in drivers ed that is necessary to leave between you and the next CAR, needs to be increased triple between you and a big truck.

On most highways the laws governing truckers prohibits them from being in the left lane except to pass.  If there are 3-4 lanes, the furthest left lanes are completely illegal for a big truck to travel in except in the case of road construction or accidents.  When you see a truck in the left lane just hanging out there with a blinker on, it is trying to get back in the right lane in accordance with the law.  And yes, police officers and DOT officers WILL pull them over for being in the wrong lane for too long, even if a car was holding them up for getting back in the right lane.

And why would a big truck be in the passing lane?  Traveling speed of course.  Big trucks get horrible fuel milage, 4-8mpg is the average.  Yes, 4-8.  And with the cost of diesel, you can image how much it costs to fill up each time.  Even a half a tank can cost $400!  It is better for fuel milage to maintain a steady speed than to speed up or down.  Every little bit helps the pocket book.  Owner/operators pay for their own fuel.  Company drivers get a discount, but often some of the cost still comes out of their pay.  And many of them only get those discounts or help IF they maintain a certain mpg per load.  So all that slowing down, speeding up, stopping, braking, etc, eats up their mpg!  Be kind, let a truck driver over to pass, or back in the proper lane without forcing them to race or play leap frog.  That would aggravate you, so it does them too.

When you are back there hanging out waiting for a trucker to come over, yet he just doesn't, chances are he can't see you.  He knows you're back there but not sure where.  If you can't see their side mirrors the trucker can't see you.  Ease up a little or speed up and get by him.  He's waiting on you to be clear of his trailer so he doesn't hit you.

The right side of a big truck is more dangerous than the left.  That is their “blind side”.  If at all possible always pass a big truck on the left.  And on either side, don't just hang out there by the trailer and tires.  That makes the truck driver nervous.  It's unsafe for you there.  For one, there is a good chance he can't see you.  And for two, if one of those tires blows it will total your car!  Seriously, those  tires are under so much air pressure, if it blows it can literally rip your pretty little Toyota easily in half.  If it will do that to a metal frame of a car, imagine what it will do to you?  Many people get nervous driving around big trucks or passing.  It's understandable.  But the worst possible thing you can do is just hang out back there.  Back off or get by them.  But remember when you pass don't cut them off and then slam on your brakes.

Many of the trucks on the roads today are “governed”, meaning their engine is programmed to not exceed a certain speed.  The companies put these restrictions on the truckers to prohibit speeding and to help with fuel milage.  It is hard coded into the ECM, the electronic brain of the engine.  It isn't something the trucker can bypass.  Some are limited to 58mph, some 60mph, some 62 or 65mph.  Not all trucks are governed, but many are.  So if it seems like a truck is taking forever to get around you, or just won't speed up, chances are he simply can't make that truck go any faster than it already is going.

Truck drivers communicate by CB radio.  If you see a truck driver suddenly slow down, or all the trucks trying to get over in a specific lane, you might want to follow suit.  They know what is up ahead, whether it is a cop with a radar, an accident, or construction.  They are slowing down or changing lanes for a reason, and it's not to interrupt your commute.

Many people think Truck Drivers are a poorly educated, untrained, unregulated bunch of miscreants let loose on the road.  Truth is many truck drivers are military veterans.  Many more have been traveling this country for 20-30 years.  They know the roads.  They know the history.  They follow and are active in the the laws of this country, not just road laws, but all laws.  They understand the workings of our government, the history of this country, the beauty of the land, and the inner streets of even the biggest cities.  For the most part they are good-hearted, family-oriented, softies just trying to make a living like you and me.

The fact is, that the trucking industry is highly regulated.  Truck drivers are limited in the number of hours they can be on duty, how many hours in a day they can drive, and how many hours in a 24-hour period they have to be off duty and in their sleeper.  Their trucks and trailers are inspected by DOT officers regularly.  Their CDL is highly regulated and they are protective of that.  Trust me they don't want to be the cause of an accident any more than you do. But a truck driver can only be as safe as the other vehicles around them.  A CDL isn't just handed to them, it is expensive to obtain and there is a huge book of laws, rules, and regulations they must study and learn. Further, each endorsement (hazmat, doubles, etc.) are expensive to get and to maintain.  Their driver logs are now electronically maintained are considered a legal federal document.

Big Trucks, 18-wheelers, Tractor/Trailers, or what ever other nickname you have for them make up a large and growing portion of the traffic on our highways and city streets.  They are a necessity.  Truck drivers are the heartbeat of America.  Everything you see, use, eat, wear, or otherwise own is transported across country via truck drivers and their big trucks.  Even the supplies to make the roads, your houses, even your landscaping is carried in some form by a tractor/trailer.  From crop to commerce, from lab to hospital, from warehouse to home, everything each of us use every single day is there because of a truck driver.  They are a necessity.  So think twice before you grumble about the trucks on the road.  And remember a few of these tips to help make the road safer and more pleasant for you and the truckers alike.

~sierra. (aka Kitty)

True Gun Control = Our Right to Bare Arms!

*DISCLAIMER*  
I rarely post political opinions because they are a hot topic and trigger arguments. This however, is a topic I am passionate about. And if I can't express my opinion on my own blog then there is much more wrong with this world. Agree or disagree with me, but no arguing, no name calling, and above all else be respectful and considerate of differing opinions. Diversity is beautiful.

Someone posted a meme stating "how did a well regulated militia get twisted to mean a well armed unregulated populace?" 

I love how all these political memes on both sides of any issue fail to take in all considerations and historical precedence. The history of the American population is diverse and based not just on events from our own country but from the long history of England and other governments much older than our own. Specifically, what those governing bodies did that the citizens and government of the newly formed United States wanted to avoid. 

The provisions for the individual states' militias stated for every able bodied male between the ages 18 and 54.  Every male citizen was required by law to carry arms and ammunition. There was provisions for them to report twice a year for some minimal training, but it wasn't well regimented. These essentially unorganized militia served as a sort of check and balance against the more organized national guard, army reserve, and national army and navy, as well as the government that controlled them. They were to protect the citizens of the states against tyranny, abuse of political power, local crisis, and foreign invasion.  

The laws, amendments, alterations, and revisions are many. Some over the years have been contradictory. But the spirit of the initial laws passed by our forefathers was to ensure the right of this country's citizens to bare arms. It is one of the many CORE issues this country was founded on, not something added later. Since politics, money, power, and greed are seeds of a destuctive weed that will thrive even in "civilized" societies, this is a right we can ill afford to relinquish.  This argument has nothing to do with unwell or evil minds hell-bent on destruction and murder. Those people will always find a way to carry out their destruction regardless of laws in place or availability of needed items. This is about the majority, the average American citizen's inalienable right to protect themselves and their families and towns from not just sick individuals, but a government out of control. Money, power, and corruption go hand in hand. Every society from the dawn of time has fallen into those traps.  The combined wisdom of our founding fathers knew this and gave the new citizens the right to protect themselves from such a fate. It may or may not work, but without this provision in place, we as a population stand zero chance against such an eventuality. 

 "Civilian control of a peacetime army"

At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, a political sentiment existed in the newly formed United States involving suspicion of peacetime armies not under civilian control. This political belief has been identified as stemming from the memory of the abuses of the standing army of Oliver Cromwell and King James II, in Great Britain in the prior century, which led to theGlorious Revolution and resulted in placing the standing army under the control of Parliament[18] 

During the Congressional debates, James Madison discussed how a militia could help defend liberty against tyranny and oppression:  

The highest number to which a standing army can be carried in any country does not exceed one hundredth part of the souls, or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This portion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Besides the advantage of being armed, it forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. 

The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors."- (Source I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789) As a side bar, this is also Federalist Paper No. 46.

Tench Coxe, a prominent American political economist of the day (1755–1824) who attended the earlier constitutional convention in Annapolis, explained (in the Pennsylvania Federal Gazette on June 18, 1789) the founders' definition of who the militia was intended to be and their inherent distrust of standing armies under the direct control of 'civil rulers' when he wrote:  The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ...the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. 

The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them. Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." 

I could go on citing many more examples from history validating our right bare arms.  And I will gladly have a deeper discussion with anyone should they care to message me or post respectful comments.  But "gun control", banning guns from legal citizens is not a solution to the problems of today.  In fact, I absolutely promise you by removing guns from American citizens you will succeed only in compounding violence and oppression 1000 fold, and new horrors against American people the likes of which we haven't seen yet! History has proven as much over and over again.  You are ignorant and arrogant to think it won't happen here in America.

 ~sierra

Influenster and the VowVoxBox

"Vow Vox Box"? Don't Panic!

You haven't missed any invitations or save the date notices.  There are no wedding plans, secret or otherwise.  However, #Influenster recently had another vox box program of products to sample that would go well with the pending blushing bride or possible potential maybe perhaps one day bride. Anyway, breathe.....

This was a smaller vox box but it was packed with some pretty great items from #SallyHansen, #Ecotools, #Puresilk, #Tide, and a coupon for a wedding website by #Riley&Grey.  So let me give you guys the run down.


The first item to try was of course Sally Hansen's the complete manicure nail polish in Barracuda Blue.  What a fun summer name for a pretty light blue polish.  Initially I tried it on both my fingers and toes.  As I figured, I'm not a color on my fingernails kind of girl.  I'm fairly boring in that department sticking with the tried and true french manicure.  But oh my little toesies!  They loved the blue, especially at the beach.  As you can see above.

It was just light enough to brighten up the toes, but not so dark to make people give your feet funny looks.  Well more funny looks.  Lets face it, feet can be kind of funny looking on their own.  But my little toes felt so pretty in pink.... er blushing in blue with this color.  It's a matte babyish sky blue.  Very pretty and feminine.  And definitely an option for the bride who might need that little "something in blue" on her special day.  Try doing a french manicure with Barracuda Blue colored tips instead of the normal white.  Elegant, colorful, and whimsical all in one.

Pure Silk shaving cream was the next up to try.  I've never been one to use shaving cream, instead opting for body soap, shampoo, conditioner, or lotion... Basically just what ever was handy.  I have latin (Cuban) blood in my so unfortunately I tend to have to shave my legs rather frequently, especially in the summer.  Every other day isn't unheard of for me.  The first thing I noticed with the Pure Silk was I got a much closer shave.  This was honestly somewhat of a surprise for me because I didn't think it would make that much of a difference.  So close in fact that it was 5 days before I had to shave again.  A few shaves latter I started with a fresh razor and that familiar dread as they always leave me with little nicks and cuts the first shave or two.  Much to my surprise I walked away without even the tiniest cut.  I was so surprised by this fact that I spend a full 5 minutes standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror looking at my legs examining them for any tell-tale trickle of blood and just flabbergasted that I couldn't see even one drop.  Yay for Pure Silk.  It has turned my shaving routine from a torture to just routine.

The Tide To Go pen was the object I was least looking forward to testing as I have an allergy to Tide.  After much debate and thought I decided it would be safe to try.  It is after all just a small amount on a small spot on a single item of clothing.  It couldn't possibly cause too bad of an allergic reaction.  Of course, I had just spilled coffee on my favorite white tank top that I sleep in.  Tide to the rescue.  Coffee and mornings.... no I wasn't coherent enough to take pictures.  I wish I had.  The pen took the stain out in just seconds.  When I washed the shirt, I did so with regular laundry and not whites with beach.  When it came out of the dryer it was all pretty white with no coffee spots on it.  The Tide To Go pen found a new home in my purse.

Sadly, I did not use the website offer as I have no wedding to plan.  I did look around at their site a little and their offers.  This seems like it would be a great thing to do, especially if you are a bride planning a large wedding, or have family and/or bridal party members who do not live close to you.  It's just another wonderful way to commemorate your beautiful and special day.

Once again, thank you to Influenster, Sally Hansen, Ecotools, Pure Silk, Tide, and Riley & Grey for the items in the Vow Vox Box and allowing me to sample and test them.  The VoxBox program is always fun, helpful, and every time I learn both about new products and known products with new product line that I might not have otherwise.

~sierra

Clear Skin and Blue Skies Ahead. It's Summertime!

It's summer time.  The weather is warmer.  The sun is out.  And you want to be out in that fresh air enjoying life.  Sunshine and the subsequent Vitamin D from sun exposure has its benefits.  We need a little bit of those UV rays to prevent things like Rickets and Depression.  Not all sun exposure is bad.  Moderation is the key to life.  But this post isn't about the pros and cons of lazy days out on the beach, in the sand and salt water, soaking up copious amounts of natural Vitamin D in the form of refreshing, warming tropical sunshine...... sorry, got a little sidetracked there with my day dream.

Ok, so you want to be out enjoying the summer life.  Lazy days on the beach, or lake, or any other outdoor activity.  But, if you're like me sunshine puts a nice spotlight on any problem areas on your face.  It's embarrassing to admit, but I have always struggled with acne and large pores.  I remember being in the 6th grade and begging my mom to let me wear make up so I could try to hide the large dark pores across my nose.  And as an adult, I still suffer from this less than flattering condition.

Another guilty confession:  I am addicted to Pinterest.

Last night while waiting out my frequent visitor, insomnia, I was scrolling through Pinterest when I spied something that really caught my attention.  A natural skin treatment to help reduce large pores (blackheads) on the nose and smooth skin.  I couldn't wait to try it.  In my haste I failed to take a picture for before and after results.  My apologies.

What was this remedy?  Something most of us have in our kitchens.  Lemon juice and baking soda!



After doing a little research on the subject and finding many variables to this "recipe" I decided to go with the simplest method.  Hey, simple is better!  I used a small ramekin,

These are Ramekins!


squeezed in about a Tablespoon of lemon juice (the recipe said to squeeze a lemon for fresh juice.  I didn't have one on hand but I had a bottle of lemon juice *not from concentrate*)



then started adding baking soda a little at a time, stirring to make a paste.  Don't be alarmed, it will fizz and foam.  It is a chemical reaction between the two ingredients and shows that your baking soda hasn't gone stale.  Just keep adding a little at a time and stirring until the foaming goes down enough to add some more.

Baking Soda foaming when mixed with Lemon Juice


The goal is to create a thick, creamy paste.  Then using my fingers I smeared the paste all over my nose, cheeks, chin, and center of my forehead (typical T-zone areas).  Basically anywhere I suffer most from acne and large pores.  I spent a few minutes scrubbing it in (for exfoliation) and then I let it sit on my face for 20 minutes.  Like most face masks the paste dries and pulls at your skin.

*If you have sensitive skin, 20 minutes might be too long.  Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to what you can tolerate.  It will burn a little but shouldn't be terribly uncomfortable.

After 20 minutes I simply rinsed my face with cool water and patted dry.  I could immediately feel the change.  My skin felt noticeably smoother.  Grabbing a mirror and standing in the sunlight to examine my nose I was happily surprised to see a very noticeable shrinkage in the diameter of the pores across my nose.  Not gone, but yes smaller.

I let my face breathe for an hour or so and then applied a little bit of coconut oil, which is fantastic for skin care, especially for oily skin.  The coconut oil absorbs into your skin completely after about 5 minutes leaving it soft and supple, not greasy.  And it has antibacterial properties to help fight against breakouts.



I am thinking the lemon juice/baking soda scrub/mask is a bit too harsh to use every day, but perhaps once or twice a week.  Also of note, both lemon juice and baking soda have whitening/lightening properties.  It may take some time, but over time with continued use these ingredients may lighten skin blemishes and spots.

Of course, there are many other uses and benefits, as well as side effects.  If you have skin sensitivity test in a small area for a short amount of time first.  If you are allergic to either ingredient don't use at all.  It probably wouldn't be the best idea to use this skin scrub/mask immediately before heading out into the sunshine either.  Be good to your skin.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Take care of it and it will take care of you.

I've also read where people have splashed their face with a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner.  ACV is another one of those handy kitchen items that has so many practical uses and is great for the body, skin, and hair.

Perhaps I'll cover uses for ACV and other kitchen items another day.  In the meantime you can do your own research and tests.  Here are a list of some great natural products to keep in the house for use on your skin, in your body, or around the house.

Baking Soda
Apple Cider Vinegar
Coconut Oil
Honey
Sugar
Turmeric
Lemons/Lemon Juice
White Vinegar
Sea Salt
Essential Oils

I am sure there are many others I am forgetting to list.  Know of some or have your own experiences and tips?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear your stories.

~sierra sugar

The Next Step from Vitamin Shoppe

I was excited to try these protein shake samples received in my‪#‎GoVoxBox‬ from Influenster




Having used Whey protein shakes in the past to help manage my weight and blood sugar levels, I am hypoglycemic.  I also used them as nutritional supplements for my mother when she was struggling with cancer and unable to eat.  There are many benefits to protein supplements and they come in a variety of types and flavors.  Even weight loss brand names have gotten in on the hype - Weight Watchers and Adkins.  

Having used many different brands in the past and tried almost every flavor, I have learned that I am not a fan of most flavors besides chocolate. That being said I started with the flavor I usually like least.  Just like our mother's used to tell us when there was something on our plate we didn't like... eat it first.  I mixed up half of the vanilla one as was instructed with water, not milk as many other brands of protein supplements suggest.  One sip and I had to throw it out. It was bitter and very watery.  




On to plan number two. Taking the remaining vanilla mix, I  mixed in some frozen peaches and a little milk to make it more like a smoothy. Again, I ended up throwing it out after one sip. 

Having confirmed my absolute dislike for the vanilla I moved on to the chocolate.  This time however, I started with skim milk instead of water, and a little ice for thickness. I was sure I would like this one.  Just about every other brand of protein shake I've ever tried I liked in the chocolate flavor.  However, after the first sip I was ready to toss it. Instead, I let it sit for a few minutes and cleaned my palate with some water just incase I was still tasting remains of the vanilla and/or peach, then tried again.  Still no improvement. After trying a few more sips just to be sure I came to the conclusion there was no possible way I could finish the shake.  The taste of these shakes was just too horrible. 

I've used several different brands of Whey protein and diet supplement shakes to include both Weight Watchers and Adkins among others from our local health food store. The‪#‎NextStepShakes‬ have a bitter taste that lingers on the tongue. I could barely swallow the first sip much less an entire 8oz. After completing the taste tests and cleaning up the kitchen I still had this lingering bitter taste in my mouth and coating my tongue and I had to go brush my teeth thoroughly.  

While I appreciate the samples sent through the ‪#‎Influenster‬ ‪#‎VoxBox‬ program and the cooperation with ‪#‎VitaminShoppe‬ and ‪#‎NextStep‬, this is one product I will not be purchasing.

~sierra


Two Happy Feet

Ok, so it is no secret that I LOVE #Influenster! In the most recent GoVoxBox I received two items from PROFOOT to try, ProFoot Triad Orthotic shoe inserts and the ProFoot Pedi-Rock. They are both wonderful!


I have suffered with Plantar Fasciitis since 2012 when I started walking at lunch and after work for exercise.  It was frustrating to have to slow and at times even stop my addictive routine.  At the suggestion of the pain management doctor I worked for I started using orthotic inserts to help the pain and healing.  And it worked!  So now I regularly replace the orthotics in my shoes to help control the plantar fasciitis with another trusted brand.  So while eager to try a new insert I was also nervous and a bit skeptical, afraid of return PF pain, especially now that I also have developed pretty severe sciatic pain on the right side (oh the joys of growing older!).  But thankfully I was in for a very pleasant surprise.  I have short wide feet and the inserts still fit nicely in my Nikes and were quite comfortable. The arch support was great for everyday walking, standing, etc...  I haven't tried them on the treadmill yet, but considering how well they feel with everyday activities I am hopeful they will hold up well under more strenuous activities.  I will be switching out the orthotics in my other shoes (boots) to the Profoot brand.

Also tested in this #GoVoxBox from #Influenster was the Profoot pedi-rock.  



I struggle with severely dry skin and rough heels ever since I was a child.  This pedi-rock is by far the best I've ever used, even better than what is used when I get a professional pedicure.  I love that it can be used both dry and wet.  Taking it out of town with me when I was working in Tampa I first used it on the go for a quick dry buff before rubbing lotion into my feet.  Then again I used it most recently at home while soaking my feet in warm water.  The pedi-rock is easy to hold with its large contoured shape fitting nicely in your hands.  It is firm yet not hard, kind of soft but not squishy so it holds up to vigorous scrubbing.  Even when it's wet it holds its shape and dries quickly.   It left my feet soft without irritating them.  No nasty scratches or "burns".  It will be interesting to see how well it holds up over time with repeated use.  But this is another item I will be adding to my shopping list.  I'm thinking one for the tub for wet use only and another to keep around for a quick dry buff to the heels before lotion and slipping on socks and shoes.

Thanks Influenster and ProFoot.  #GoPROFOOT !!!




Greek Yogurt by Muller

Muller display at the Publix in Tampa, Florida. I got the strawberry (YUM!) using the complimentary coupon sent to me in the #Influenster #GoVoxBox to try. 

In this age where fast food, processed foods, GMO's, "Low fat" but high sugar or sugar substitutes abound, choosing healthy food options is a must, yet often times a challenge.  I like to cook from scratch and avoid boxed or canned goods that are heavily processed and contain preservatives and artificial ingredients.  I also prefer natural sugar over sugar substitutes.  And along those lines I avoid "High Fructose Corn syrup"  (HFC's) like the plague!  Many of the popular brands of greek yogurt have lots of extra added sugar, and even *gasp* HFC!  So they never make it into my shopping cart.  

Yogurt is one of those healthy food choices that always find its way into my regular shopping.  Being hypoglycemic (chronic low blood sugar) I have always been advised to follow a high protein/low carb diet.  In a fast-paced world this is sometimes difficult to do.  Enter greek yogurt.  Discovering Greek yogurt a few years back I developed an even deeper love for this healthy, delicious, and very filling snack.  It has double the protein of regular yogurt, high in calcium, and can be paired with fruit like tradition yogurts or used in place of heavy cream, sour cream, etc... when cooking and baking. So needless to say, I LOVE greek yogurt.  However, I usually stick with another brand (Chobani). 




After receiving a coupon for a free sample of Muller's yogurt ( #MullerQuaker ) in the recent GoVoxBox from Influenster, I decided to give this brand a try.  To be honest, I had never even heard of it before Influenster.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how yummy and filling the Muller yogurt was.  The yogurt was creamy and there was just enough fruit to mix in to give it that sweet burst of flavor without being over powering.  The strawberries were sweet, not tangy, and had good texture, not too mushy.  And bonus, no HFC or artificial flavorings!  There is added sugar, but at least its not HFC or some other artificial sweetener. So overall I was pleased and Muller greek yogurt will definitely enter my regular shopping list.

Müller Yogurt USAInfluenster @MullerQuaker, #MullerQuaker

~sierra sugar


Goodbye traveling stress, Hello relaxation!


Working out of town last week and I took my   items with me, including  Bath Salts to help me relax after traveling over 400miles to work then busy days in a strange office processing 360 charts.  Whew!  

I am usually a shower person and not very big on Lavender. HOWEVER, I have to say the   +   Bath Salts sent to me from  to try for free was a pleasant surprise. The lavender was not overwhelming, but subtle and chamomile has a long documented calming effect both in western medicine and   approaches.  

Running a hot bat in the hotel room tub, I sprinkled a good handful of the salts into the running water and watched as warm scented bubbles filled the tub and a light pleasant aroma filled the room.  Reminded me of being a little girl with the big pink bottle of Mr. Bubble bubble bath and I had to smile.  I wasn't even in the tub and  was already working it's magic.  After sinking into the tub full of hot water and bubbles I could feel my whole body relaxing.  I can't remember the last time I took a bath instead of a shower, much less relaxed in one.  

After resting and soaking until my fingers and toes were adequately pruned I found the remaining bubbles easy to rinse off even with the soft water of the Tampa area.  I felt calm and relaxed as if most all of the traveling and other stress I'd been carrying around simply washed down the drain with the last of the bubbles.  Needless to say, I found myself using the Aqua Spa bath salts every night during my stay and still had a good bit left over to bring home to save for when life gets to be a little too overwhelming.  Forget the old saying "Calgon take me away".  Aqua Spa Lavender + Chamomile does the trick nicely, gently washing away the stress and leaving a mild, unintrusive relaxing scent.

For those that are unsure about the efficacy of such a treatment, aroma therapy is proven through many studies to be an effective tool in mood altering and stress/anxiety reduction.  It's not a dramatic change, but it does help.  Lavender and chamomile are calming, peppermint is soothing to the stomach, etc...  (though I do not have the sources to site them at the moment, google search is a good tool for those that wish to look it up)

coupon for $1.00 off: on.fb.me/1kQ2RFX

@AquaSpaBath #MyBeautyBreak #RelaxWithAquaSpa

~sierra sugar


New creative writing @ eMOTIONS

One of the pages I follow on Facebook issued a writing challenge and I accepted.  Just for fun of course.  It's been a while since I've done some creative writing and I really need to get back into it if I want to go anywhere with my ideas.  So, go check it out and tell me what you think.  It's just a short paragraph.  Happy reading!

eMOTIONS by *SKC* - Shadows - a writing assignment

Optic White Toothbrush with built in Whitening Pen from Influenster!

I have been a member of Influenster for some time now, thanks to my friend both in and out of Second Life, Ashley Dickerson for introducing me. This latest VoxBox makes it four times now in the past year that I have had the pleasure of testing several items sent to me from Influenster. This latest being Colgate® Optic White™ Toothbrush + Built-In Whitening Pen.
I know from past testing that the Optic White toothpaste works great. I actually like the new built in whitening pen. Colgate uses a gel inside of a pen. Turn the base of the pen two clicks to push a bit of the gel up into the built-in soft plastic brush of the pen the smooth across your teeth. The gel takes a little getting used to, but once you do it's not bad. The gel, while it doesn't stay on as long as the strips for obvious reasons, doesn't have a bad taste and still gets the job done. Other whitening brands use whitening strips. To me those feel funny and after a couple uses the concentration of the chemicals actually makes my teeth hurt. While I brush my teeth twice a day and try to have good oral hygiene, I also tend to drink a fair amount of tea, coffee, and Dr. Pepper. A little extra whitening power never hurts. ‪So many thanks to Influenster and Colgate for introducing me to another wonderful product. Give it a try and see for yourself. Before
Day 4
#‎Influenster‬ ‪#‎BrushWhitenGO‬ ‪#‎Colgate‬ ‪#‎Voxbox‬

Relay for Life of Second Life

Relay for Life:

One of the biggest reasons why I continue to log into SL (albeit much less these days) is because of Relay for Life. Second Life has been involved in the fight against Cancer with Relay for Life since 2005, as have I. It's just a game, you say? Well, let me tell you what a bunch of gamers can do!

In 2005, the first year RFL events were held in SL, a bunch of "gamers" (315 people) raised $5,000 USD for the ACS and RFL. The very next year that amount jumped to $41,000 USD raised and sent to RFL. In 2007 the total raised more than doubled at $118,500 USD! In 2008, the amount almost doubled again at $215,000 USD raised that year. In 2009, over 1/4 of a million was raised... $275,000 USD. By 2012 Second Life Relay for Life raised and sent $375,000 USD to the ACS and RFL. 

Totals are still coming in for the 2013 Relay, but we again raised over $350,000 USD this year, which put the grand total for all SL RFL efforts at and beyond the $2,000,000 (million) USD mark!!! There were almost 3000 people who walked the virtual laps, exploring the creative 3D builds, donating, lighting luminaria, sharing their personal stories in their fight against cancer, celebrating loved ones saved, and honoring those we've lost.

3000 people from all over the world and every time zone imaginable came together for one 24-hour period to walk, talk, laugh, cry, share, love, and raise money to help find a cure for cancer. There was no hated, no prejudices, no drama. Just a common bond - to find a cure.

Now I know many of you have theories, conspiracy or otherwise, regarding ACS, RFL, cancer research, government interference, Big Pharmacy manipulation, etc.... This post is about NONE OF THAT!!! Please keep those comments to yourself or they will be deleted.

This post is about the amazing things that happen when people come together to work towards a common goal, even if they come together virtually. I have a lot of people on my timeline now who do not know what SL is and may wonder about the strange cartoon-like pictures I post from time to time. THIS is what SL is about for me. Not a game, but merely another platform, a social network to do good things. Relay for Life organization and the American Cancer Society have official representative inside SL and recognize SL as an official RFL team. Convio is set up to allow RFL donations to be made on behalf of the SL team. These are real people, real money, relaying together against a real disease. And I for one am proud to be a part of that effort!

$2,000,000 USD raised for the fight against cancer by Second Life residents.

Until there is a cure, we Relay!!

http://rflofsl.intuitwebsites.com/History-of-RFL-of-SL.html

and

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Relay_For_Life_of_Second_Life

Sierra is...

a double shot of Espresso in the morning
Ice cold sweet tea in the sun
Sushi & Ice cream; together?
the beat of a different drum
a summer thunder storm
Angry rain on a tin roof
an ocean breeze
Sunflowers
cuddles
Precocious
confusing
Living dead girl
Strong & weak
Your worst nightmare
Your wildest fantasy
eyes that have shed too many tears
the cold side of your pillow
a tease
a goddess on her knees
an angel with broken wings
shy & guarded
Intellectual & contradictory
a lover
a dare
Empathic
Kinky
Leather & Lace
Flirty
Friendly
Fiery anger
Fiercely protective
a mother hen
Optimistic
Waves of the ocean
a soft kiss on your lips
breath on your neck
a lick on your cheek
a bite on your shoulder
Nails down your back
Nothing in between
Sweet & tart
Fragile
Pretty when she cries
a kitten resting before a fire
Not a Fairy Tale
Naughty
Nice and spicy
Passion
Restraint
Desire
Submission
Strong
Sweet
Sarcastic
Consuming
Demanding
Uncertain and scared
Alive
a survivor
Cleaning up so well.

(c) sierra sugar - I wrote this several years ago and have had it up in my profile in various places at different times.   It's probably time that I put it up somewhere more public.

Updates

Lots of new posts, creative writing, emotional insight, and more over at eMOTIONS.  Clicky and go check it out. I'd love your input.

~sierra

Dutch Pancake Puffs with Peach and Banana Compote





Dutch Puff Pancakes w/ Peach & Banana Compote, made 
                                with Nectresse from @influenster Sugar and Spice Voxbox:

For the batter:
6 Tbsp Salted butter
4 Large Eggs
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Lowfat Milk
1 packet NECTRESSE

For the Compote:
3 Large Peaches, peeled and diced (or substitute 1 can of sliced peaches)
3 Packets NECTRESSE (or substitute 1/2 cup sugar)
2 Bananas sliced
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1 Tbsp salted butter
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Pinch of Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425

Step 1: Cut butter into 12 even pieces.  Put one piece in the bottom of each section of a non-stick muffin pan.  Put pan on the middle rack of the oven.  While butter is melting prepare the batter.

Step 2: In a blender, add eggs, flour, milk, and sweetener.  Blend on high until smooth, about 20-30 seconds.

Step 3: When butter is bubbling in the muffin tins, pour batter from the blender into each cavity of the pan (1/2 - 2/3 way full).

Step 4: Bake for 22-25 minutes, until pancakes have puffed and are golden brown (You may still notice a slight depression in the puffs with a bit of melted butter, this is ok).

Step 5: While pancakes are baking,prepare the compote by placing all the ingredients (except the sliced bananas) into a saucepan and cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, for at least 5 minutes, until the peaches are soft and most of the water has cooked off.  Turn heat to low and fold in bananas.

Step 6: Remove pancakes from oven and place pan on cooling rack.  Using a spoon or small offset spatula, pop the pancake puffs out of the pan and place onto a serving plate.  Serve immediately and spoon the warm compote over the top of each puff.

(a little deviation from what i normally blog about.  But i love to cook and bake, and these were a definite hit here in the house.)

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."   (Nectresse)

The Moon

New up at eMOTIONS:

http://emotions-byskc.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-moon.html

Bella Morte - a journey through darkness


"Don't confuse beauty and kindness with weakness...for it just may get you killed."

http://norbellamorte.blogspot.com/

New weekly writing project following the journey of one of my characters.  Yes it is about vampires and other things.  Yes it is a work in progress that will probably change and morph as I figure out the exact direction of the story and development of characters.  In sharing this unfinished and evolving work, I'm allowing the readers to go on a journey not just with the characters, but also with me as a writer.

~sierra

Tameless



Tamless collection, originally uploaded by ~sierra sugar~.


Timeless. Beautiful. Classy.

Tameless Hair Collection created by Nita Braken are all of these and more. Each style is expertly executed with a sense of elegance and character. Normally, I have not been one to wear short hair styles, especially not short straight hair styles; however the Tameless collection has won me over. Her styles are fast becoming some of my standard go-to hair when picking out an outfit.

The featured styles (listed below) are scripted for 28 color change options, and include streak coloring options, and hat/ribbon color change options. The hairstyles also come in singular colors with streak options if you wish not to have the "Megapack" style that includes all colors.

Tameless always features new hairstyles and/or avatars for sale for the first week after release:
4 color packs are normally priced at $199L: sale price during first week of release is $99L
Megapack including all colors are priced at $799L: sale price during first week of release is $399L.
Complete Avatars are priced at $499 in shop: sale price during first week of release is $399L.  
All avatars are listed on the Marketplace at an ongoing reduced price of $399L.

The skin is also a new one for me from the store Mojo. The features make the face seem a little more round and softer, which I adore. The lips are pouty but not too puffy, and the overall shading throughout the skin is subtle and feminine. Freckle tattoo and makeup layers are listed below as well.

Shopping List:
Tameless Hair Collection:
(left to right)
Nadine
Charlotte
Mindi
Jolene
Norine

Skin: MOJO//ALBA EVO// 08-MILK
Eyes: Poetic Colors - Poison Ivy
Freckles: L. Fauna - Pale (tattoo layer)
Makeup: Glamorize - Dance (eyes tattoo)
Lashes: **Irresistible Look Eyelashes** (alpha lashes)

~sierra