21 July 2017

Big Likes #8: Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum

It's tough trying to keep your lips soft and pretty in the desert. So my big like for this week is Rodan and Fields lip serum. It's amazing. The first time I used it I put it on The Man's and Kiddo's lips. It was the end of winter and both of them had cracked, bleeding and dry lips. The next morning their lips were soft and smooth. A little miracle.

The Man has now become religious about using it and boy do his lips look and feel nice. I love how it softens and smooths my own lips and apply it on my own lips nightly and in the mornings when I remember. I try to get it on Kiddo as often as she'll hold still to do it.

I like to use it as a base coat before lipstick and gloss. The gloss seems to stick to the serum better than lipstick but I've always been a gloss girl and never much liked lipstick so that works just fine for me when I apply them both at the same time. If you're a lipstick wearer and want to try it I would just put it on well before I'm ready to do lipstick and it should be just fine. Even without any lip color my lips look healthy and shiny and fine as they are.

Another thing I love about it is that it has no taste or flavor. Super simple. This is just one of the products I initially tried from Rodan and Fields that made me say, "I need more of this stuff!" This is why Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum is a Big Like for me!

17 July 2017

10 Things To Consider Before Buying A Mountain Home

Well we've been living in a desert mountain environment for more than two years now and have been in our home for about 18 months. I've learned a few things that I thought I would share about buying a mountain home with a "wild" yard versus living in a designed, manicured neighborhood. There are a few things I've had to learn to adjust to, some things might have turned me away from choosing a mountain home and some benefits are priceless. But they are things I never thought about until I experienced them.

I'll start with the cons just to get them out of the way and so that I can end of a positive note:

1) Pest control: Oh the nature creatures sure are cute. The wild bunnies, flocks of quail, wild birds, and deer are so charming until you realize the furry creatures especially also bring fleas and other bugs along with them. We also have packrats, tons of mice, bobcats, snakes (poisonous and not), tarantulas, lots of spiders, very noisy, rather aggressive birds, coyotes that eat small pets and creatures, ants (of all varieties, sizes and biting abilities), and a lot more flying insects than I see at friends homes even just a little lower on the hill. Those include tarantula hawks which are giant relatives of hornets, hornets, wasps and bees. Pest control could be a full time job if we let it be. Don't imagine we are constantly under barrage of animals attacking us, but living with nature is living with nature. You have to be thoughtful and careful.

Last weekend we had a rattlesnake across our driveway and The Man could not get by, so he had to wait. Two weeks ago we had bear in our yard, very close to the house several times. That was a little scary, especially when one night I came across one and the next night The Man walked out of the house in the dark to a large bear on our front living room patio.

2) Protection for pets and children: All these critters also mean you have to be a lot more careful with children and household pets that go outside. Cats aren't safe around coyotes, and even a large dog can be taken down by a pack of coyotes or other predators. They can also pick up diseases from the wild creatures. Dogs can be rattlesnake trained but you can never guarantee what might happened if your pet comes across a poisonous creature in the wild. Child safety is also a big concern from all these same kinds of animals. I almost forgot to also mention dangerous plants! Cactus everywhere. I once had to pull a cactus needle out of Kiddo's shin that was embedded about 1/2" into her skin. Super gross feeling to keep pulling and pulling until it came out. She fell at the far back side of our property and had a lot way to drag herself back to the house to get help.

We have a rule that Kiddo can't go outside without telling us, so that we know to check on her every few minutes. Both kids and animals have to be trained to be watchful and they also need to be fairly closely supervised. It's also important to have first aid preparedness and plans for all these scenarios. Some extra caution is needed.

3) Mountain weather pattern dangers: The weather gets a little wilder in the foothills. This may mean more powerful winds, heavier rains, more powerful sudden storms of all kinds: electrical, thunder, snow, rain, etc. This can make driving more challenging too even when things are fine in the city. Temperatures can also be considerably colder in winter. You may be just a couple of miles away from the heart of town but a higher elevation, canyons and mountains that storm clouds will bang into make things a little more challenging and unpredictable. I was "twinkled" by some lightening two summers ago - it didn't strike loudly it just buzzed up the air around me and I was holding my cell phone and received a burn on my palm from where the phone contacted my hand. Not fun. I try not to go outside at all if we are having an electrical storm now.

4) Outdated utilities: The farther you live from "civilization" the less maintained utilities will be and the less interested companies are in investing in your neighborhood. Our neighborhood is about 30+ years old now. The lots are big and spread apart and the population is mostly over 70 years old. So you can imagine we are not the hotbed for the tech companies interested in investing in installing their latest technologies. Things you don't think about...high speed internet is everywhere now isn't it?!

The fact that home lots are big, spread far apart and that the soil is very rocky also adds to the plausible costs for utilities to consider upgrading to new systems and laying new wires that have to be buried underground. So our neighborhood has adequate but not great internet access and our options are limited. The phone lines are old, all the wiring is old. We've already had to have the internet company come and replace the main connector for our house at the junction box down the road and were without internet service for a week. It seems like every few weeks we have to restart our modem to reconnect to the system.

5) Public and emergency services availability: Once you are out of the city limits you will likely not be getting city water, garbage, sewer, or emergency services. You may be on the county system for fire and law enforcement and it's important to know how far away these facilities are located if you have an emergency at your home. We have a neighborhood association for garbage and water which we pay for and it's probably more that regular city services would be. We also have a septic tank instead of a sewer system. I have mixed emotions about that as well. Wouldn't probably be my first choice because we are fully, financially responsible for its proper function. When things go badly with a septic system it can mean replacing the entire tank and tearing up a major section of your yard to do it. $$$$$. Ouch.

6) Yardwork, soil and gardening challenges: In our neighborhood, most yards are left completely natural, in fact I think it's somewhat required. But if a homeowner wants to have a manicured space within a walled or fenced in area that is allowed in back of the house. We have a small grass area with a large patio, deck and pool deck area. We still haven't figured out how to deal with our grassy area as far are cutting it nicely because there are "architectural" rocks in the midst of it and around it. We need to work on that. My feeling is that a push mower would be the best bet. It's hardly worth buying a real lawnmower for such a tiny piece of grass plus it sounds incredibly dangerous potentially have rocks or bits of rock being shot out of the bottom of a power mower.

Trying to grow anything in this mountainy soil really is impossible unless it's something that is already growing on this mountainside. For any kind of gardening a lot of soil conditioning or container planting is necessary. However in the hot, desert climate, thing son planters have a hard time surviving. Large container or raised bed gardening seems like the best option. I have only planted a few small containers at this point. Maybe someday when we've finished up more house projects we can think about starting larger scale gardening projects.

Fantastic Pros:

7) The amazing views! Being higher up makes for amazing sunsets, city views and storm watching as they come across the valley. In our valley we enjoy an 80+ mile view in three directions. It's quite beautiful and the sunsets are stunning night after night after night. The mountains on the other side of our home are beautiful too. It's so much to take in and something we don't take for granted.

8) The privacy! We didn't really realize until we moved in that we actually have three houses that are within a few hundred feet of our house because the trees block the other houses nicely. But because the lots are bigger here we have plenty of privacy. All the bedrooms face out to big open, tree-lined spaces so we do feel there is a lot of privacy here.

9) Respectful neighbors. I think people who tend to live in neighborhoods like this are people who appreciate their privacy too so everything is very respectful for the most part. We did have some problems with a neighbor's dogs when they first moved in and were roaming into our yard without leashes and barking a lot but after neighbors complained that seemed to get significantly better. Our neighbors all wave as they drive through the neighborhood and we know we know them well enough to feel comfortable visiting but not intruded upon.

10) Distance from the city hustle and bustle. After living in one of the busiest areas of Los Angeles and surrounded by constant noise 24-hours a day, living a bit outside the noise of the city and traffic is lovely. It is so quiet up here. You can sit in bed at night at stare out the windows at the trees and stars and enjoy the silence. Some nights it is so quiet you can hear traffic from almost a mile away on the closest main road outside our neighborhood. That is such a huge change for us.

One thing that is very interesting is how voices carry across the mountains. Sometimes you can very clearly hear voices through the trees and there are no people there but the voices are coming from several homes away or a completely different direction. It is very strange and sometimes a little unsettling. The wind and the trees do interesting things to the things we hear.

There are so many things we do love about living here and I think there are, in any home one purchases, big pros and cons. Some you recognize before you move in and some you don't find out about until you've lived there for a time. I could do without the dangerous creatures, but I love our home, the yard and the views, our local church congregation and the friends we've made in the neighborhood. Our next door neighbors are the absolute best and that is something we had no idea about when we purchased the house because they were traveling from the time we first looked at the house until long after we'd closed on the house.

I choose to love the good and not worry too much about the challenges. Make the best of it all. Living in this mountain environment is a lot of fun and brings us a lot of things we needed at this point in our lives. I hope these tips will help you know if mountain living is right for you!

14 July 2017

Big Likes #7: Skylights

Growing up we had a skylight in our living room, but I never really understood how fantastic skylights were until I moved to the Southwest. Many homes here take advantage of skylights and it makes an amazing difference in the brightness of one's home and they are a big electricity saver too.

I first really noticed this when we moved into our home and our garage had a skylight in it. That means that you never need to turn the light on in the garage when you go in there during the day if the garage door is down. It's already light. I'm sort of surprised by this every time I walk into our garage because I have been so used to having to turn a light on in all the other garages I've had.

In the townhouse we lived in for a short time before we moved into our house there were skylights over the vanities in the bathrooms and it was wonderful to have that natural light when getting ready and looking in the mirrors. Another room where there are rarely windows and where you never needed to flip on the lights thanks to the skylights.

In this house we also have skylights in our family room and dining/living room and they make such a difference in the amount of light in those spaces. Albuquerque has an average of 310 days of sunshine a year, so we really get a great advantage to enjoying more natural light in our home and need less electrical lighting during daylight hours. The skylights have also really helped out our houseplants who seem so healthy and happy with the all natural light they get.

Skylights are not that expensive to install although I would suggest having a professional do it because it affects roofing and there can be problems with leaks if not installed properly. There are different versions that can be opened for additional ventilation too. Ours are opaque plastic bubbles, so they don't open but we have so many doors and windows in our house that can be opened that we really don't need that feature. But I sure do love our skylights, all the extra light they bring in just makes our home a happier place - and who does not want to save on lighting costs! Skylights are something I have learned to appreciate because of living in the southwest where they are plentiful. They are Big Like #7 this week.

11 July 2017

Visits From Friends On Cross-country Drives

Because we live along a major east-west U.S. highway corridor, occasionally friends pass through town on their way across the country. It seems every summer friends from afar are driving through Albuquerque.

Just last night good friends from California, who have been on a cross-country vacation, asked if we wanted to meet up for dinner later this week. A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of great friends from L.A. coming to town while on a cross-country roadtrip. Such fun. We first learned they would be coming last winter so it seemed a long way out and then suddenly it was time for them to come.

We met up on a Friday morning to ride the world-famous Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of 10,378 ft. high Sandia Peak. We took a short hike and enjoyed the cooler temperatures and beautiful lush green forest and meadows you don't get in the desert valley!

It was fun to see the kids run wild and enjoy each other's company, for all of us to breathe in the fresh air and for the grown up ladies to be able to chat too. The tram ride is amazing and the immensity of the natural beauty and the size of the mountain are pretty astounding.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect and I am realizing that living along I-40 is a blessing for staying connected with friends from afar. Riding the Sandia Peak Tramway is one of the best and most enjoyable activities you can do in Albuquerque for the views of the vast desert landscape we live in, to see the city from above, to get close to the mountains and get close to nature. Once at the top there is a lot to take in and it is all so beautiful.

One of the things that makes catching up with old friends who are passing through town most successful is being very flexible. These groups are usually passing through town on a pretty exhausting driving schedule and they may be delayed or arrive earlier than expected. I think it's important to consider how they are feeling when they arrive and not put a lot of expectations on them.

So we try to be helpful, non-pressuring, considerate and amenable to what they feel they are up for. Our first questions are always "Is there anything we can do for you?" and "What are you feeling up for?" That may be a quick fast food dinner, a full New Mexican food feast, a visit to an indoor activity where it is a cool, a refreshing swim, time for kids to escape the car, stretch their legs and run around in a park, or any variety of things.

When my family keeps this in mind it's okay if we need to reschedule or cancel at the last minute. We understand road trips and know that being open to what works best for our friends is the best for everyone. So we go with the flow and try to be helpful and understanding and not be so excited to see our friends that we overwhelm or further exhaust them with energy, big plans or unrealistic expectations. This has worked out really well.

I am putting together a list of ideas for just such occasions since we know our city better than visitors would. I have a list of suggested hotels and restaurants in a variety of price ranges and excursion ideas and good parks. That way when they ask we can easily have ideas at the ready to share. Sometimes friends get in touch in advance and sometimes it's very spur of the moment so having some ideas at the ready makes this easy.

This ability to have so many friends visit our city was a completely unexpected surprise but we sure are enjoying it. It's fun to share our city, catch up and maintain lifelong friendships!

07 July 2017

Business Classes & A Spiritual Book For Women

This has turned into quite a busy little summer with ongoing kid camps, lots of activities with friends, trying to grow three little businesses and taking two business courses. I think sometimes busy-ness can be a blessing to get us through certain periods of our lives and this might be one of them. I feel like the busy-ness is a bit of a blessing right now.

via Deseret Book
First thing I want to share with you is this wonderful book my sister sent me, A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. It was given to my sister by a friend and then my sister sent me a copy. It's a very small book in size and page number but it is filled with so much for the Christian woman's heart. I would recommend it to women of any faith. It is all about our place as women, as unique individuals, our need to filter out so many distractions and truly focus on one thing and that is submitting to the Lord's will for our lives and the promises that we will find peace, greater fulfillment and happiness there than in any other place possible.

It's message is one of gentleness, love, acceptance, humility, inner stillness and much more. Such a great read and truly inspired to help one center on the important and good things of life while letting go of the distractions of the world and the pain and suffering they cause us. Lovely read and I'm not quite done with it.

I signed up for a small business class at a local entrepreneur support organization a month or so ago. It is a six week class and we're about half done right now and the homework/preparation load is increasing. But I am learning a lot and enjoying the class.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a self-sufficiency class at our church which included a breakout group for people wanting to grow a small business. That is definitely something I want to do but dedicating one night a week to it when we are already quite busy in the evenings was a tough commitment - especially realizing it will be almost fall and we'll back in school before this class ends.

We're two weeks in, still 10 weeks to go, but it has been an amazing and enlightening experience already, even when I am so tired I am falling asleep during the conversations. After a couple of nights of little sleep this past week, it was tough for me to stay awake in our class on Wednesday. The whole concept of taking classes with people who can share expertise and individual talents and work together to help each other is pretty brilliant. There isn't a teacher for the class but instead a facilitator - who just helps foster the conversation. There is a curriculum but as a class we go through it together, taking turns reading, presenting ideas, etc.

Both classes come with some fairly significant homework and that is taking some getting used to and some juggling to be able to make it happen. If I thought it was a challenge getting homework done in high school or college, it is much more challenging being married and having a family, a house, and lots of other responsibilities. Wow. But I'm getting it done, even if it's an hour before the class.

I already know that both classes are helping me be a better business person and that will help me across the board in anything I do career-wise. I've invested quite a bit of time and money in my career this summer and I am anxious/excited to get it to pay off. In my logical mind it makes sense that it will but there is always that little voice that speaks fear, failure and falling on your face. But it's good to just shut that one off and do your best.

I hope that a year from now I can look back on this post and see a happy trail of successful growth both spiritually and career-wise. I've been reminded of the philosophy that any forward movement is a move in the right direction and whatever energy you put forward towards your goals will get you in the right direction, even if its not the direction you expected or does not bring the outcomes you expected. I've been trying to just do what I think I need to do each day and not get too crazed about life. Staying in a place of faith and inner-stillness is of massive importance to me in my life right now and it is blessing me so much that I can't even tell you.

03 July 2017

My New & Amazing Skincare Regimen: Rodan + Fields

A few weeks ago my friend Rebecca asked if she could send me a sample of Rodan + Fields to try out and write a review blog post about my experience with the new Active Hydration Serum. Since moving to the high desert of New Mexico from coastal California my skin has never quite recovered. Keeping it moisturized has been a constant battle so I was willing to try anything, but when I heard Rodan + Fields I knew the quality and was very interested. The creators of Rodan + Fields also create Proactiv which I'm sure you've heard of -- and I believe really made it possible for no teenager to have to suffer through bad acne ever again. Life changer!

image via rodan + fields
A few months ago I had to go without makeup for a medical procedure but still wanted to have a healthy, shiny face. I ended up putting moisturizer on five times that morning but in the end achieved a healthy glow I was looking for. I was hoping Active Hydration Serum would produce a similar result with less effort and that it would be more long lasting.

I went into this experiment with good hopes but totally prepared to be completely honest about the results. Rodan + Fields products are very high quality but they are not inexpensive so I needed to see real results before I would recommend a product in this price range to my readers. I can say after several weeks of use I have been more than impressed with Active Hydration Serum.

After just two days of use I could see and feel a difference in my skin. First off my skin didn't look dry. Second the texture felt different, it was so soft. Third thing I noticed is that my skin glowed. In the beginning I put it on morning and night and applied it twice each time. My skin was drinking it in. As the days and weeks have passed I have used less and less, which obviously makes the product last longer and seems to indicate my skin is getting moister and more healthy. After about four weeks of use, I am only applying it at night. In the mornings I wake up and my skin looks dewy and shiny. I love how much younger and brighter my skin looks.

I have to tell you that trying Active Hydration Serum not on had a big impact on my complexion but it also had a powerful impact on my thinking. When my skin looked better than it has in years, I had this realization that I did not have to resign myself to the aging process. If I could feel better about my skin I could feel better about so many things that come with aging.

Taking the time to give my skin more love each night by cleansing thoroughly and creating a better nightly routine for my face, inspired me to take better care of my oral hygiene as well. I started whitening my teeth again which I have not done in a while. That carried over to adding other self-care regimens to my bedtime preparations. It also built back into the end of the day some much enjoyed and appreciated me time. I started listening to inspiring talks while I did my new, more thorough routine and that started feeding my soul too. I began feeling more inspired and excited about life and my life energy.

I saw more changes I could make to feel younger and more energetic and after seeing the results on my face, I wanted more results in all areas of my life. I took my workouts up a notch and made more changes that would energize my life. Active Hydration Serum inspired a real game-changing experience for me. I can't control the passing of the years, but I sure can control how I think, feel and act as the years pass. It's funny to say that a skin care product did that for me, but it did and it was the last thing I expected - and I am so grateful!

Rebecca also included a Glow Pack sample when she sent me the Active Hydration Serum. It included a Redefine Daily Cleansing Mask, Overnight Restorative Cream and a Redefine Lip Serum. I'll share more about my experience with those products in future posts.

Because of the pleasing results I got from Active Hydration Serum I contacted my friend Rebecca again and asked her to tell me more about the Rodan + Fields skin care line.  While I was visiting my parents I got together with Rebecca and talked all things Rodan + Fields. I knew I was going to want to share my experience with the products she had sent me with friends and family.

Aging skin and dry skin are topics of conversation in my world with friends and neighbors. We're all fighting it. Especially here in New Mexico, and in places like Las Vegas, where you can't even leave a slice of bread out on the counter for a few minutes without it drying it. With our high altitude, wind and dry climate here in NM, anything that gives a person soft, dewy skin is a game changer. I knew I would be talking about how these products affected my life and I believed others would be interested. So much to my surprised I became interested in becoming a consultant.

So I signed up to represent Rodan + Fields products and it's important for me to tell you that so you understand that anything I post here is linking directly to my new personal Rodan + Fields consultant website. So in a sense, everything from here on out about Rodan + Fields is a sponsored post, sponsored by me. I'll do some giveaways in the future and keep you abreast of any sales or specials you can take advantage of, if like me you are interested in youthful, vibrant skin. You can get the basics on Rodan + Fields regimen lines here. You may also be interested in the lip serum, Lash Boost (crazy good results) -- and I've heard good things about the sunless tanner too.

If you'd told me even two months ago that I would sign up to be a consultant for any direct sales product line I would've said no way. But when I found Rodan + Fields I knew I was going to sell it just by sharing it, so it made total sense to me to actually join the organization because I knew I would be telling people about these products. Since first adding Active Hydration Serum to my facial routine, I've added the Redefine regimen, the lip serum and I'm starting the Lash Boost this week so I'll share my results with you. If you're interested in learning more about any of these products, let me know. I'm happy to share. Feeling and looking good is something I want for everyone. There is a line created for men too, because I know it's not just we women who want to have great skin.

Right now there is a promotion going on to get a bundled pack of any one of the four regimen lines along with a Lash Boost for 20% off and there are additional savings if you sign up as a preferred customer. If you're interested in R+F this is a good first step to getting to know the product line.

I want you to know that neither this blog or any of my social media accounts are going to be taken over by high pressure sales tactics (bleech!) or constant posts only about R+F. I'll post maybe once a week or so on R+F and the remainder of posts will continue to represent what I've been doing here for many years now. I have always shared the things I'm most passionate about and when a skin care product gives me a new enthusiasm for life and more beautiful skin, I would be wrong not to share it. If you're like me and tend to be a little skeptical, try the Active Hydration Serum and see what it can do for you. Or try the self=tanner, lip serum or eye cream. There are lots of options to step into the Rodan + Fields world in a way that is comfortable for you.

I would love to help you start or continue your journey to amazing looking skin and introduce you to Rodan + Fields. You can contact me at 505 569 0700 or at kcropper @ myrandf dot com.
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