how i cleared up my acne

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I never imagined that I would write a post about skin care. I have had years of my life when my skin was great and years when it was awful but in general, I have never loved my skin. It was pretty clear in my 30's but into my 40's it was AWFUL.  However, I have finally found a skin care routine that has really cleared up my skin and I want to share it with others who might have the same problems I did.

For the past several years, I had hormonal breakouts every 2 weeks.  It was embarrassing and I became pretty self conscious about it.  My doctor put me on an antibiotic for a few months about 3 years ago and it cleared up but then it came right back. I do not like being on antibiotics long term so I did not want to try them again.

Last fall, I finally had enough and went to a new dermatologist.  She tried a few things.  None of them worked and I had reactions to one medication.  She eventually said she did not have any more options for me.

Out of complete frustration, I came across an article on Pantothenic Acid and acne.  I read the article and it really clicked for me.  My hair and skin have always been a tad oily compared to my peers.  My micronutrient and mineral tests always show that I am low in pantothenic acid.  Also, I have adrenal and thyroid disease which is related to this article.

BEFORE doing anything, I ran this by my adrenal and thyroid doctor.  But she agreed that it would be safe and plausible for me to increase my dosage of pantothenic acid and see if it worked.  I was not willing to take the mega doses that some suggest.  I was already taking this brand below (one capsule once a day).

Solgar Pantothenic Acid 550mg 100 Vegetable Capsules

However, my doctor and I decided to try two capsules twice a day.  I did read that a few people experience hair thinning on this regimen. Since I did not want to risk that and these other supplements prevent hair thinning and boost the effectiveness of the pantothenic acid, we added this supplement as well.

Twin Lab L-Cysteine  I take one of these with each dose of the Pantothenic Acid.

So, I take two pantothenic acid capsules and one L-cysteine (twice a day- usually with breakfast and after dinner).

I went back to my dermatologist for a check up and told her about these supplements.  She could not believe the improvement in my skin.  She was not aware of these supplements but said she was going to go research them because of the results I had achieved.  I am telling you that the results were fast. My shiny forehead was gone within days. Also, my hair is not oily at all anymore.  I can even skip a day washing it (which I NEVER did before).  I have had only one small blemish in the last 2-3 months! It has been miraculous for me.  I wish I had before and after photos.  My skin is the best it has been in years.

I am sure that some people will take longer to respond or have to increase or decrease their dosage but this worked for me and it worked very quickly.

I also changed my cleansing routine shortly after the supplements.  I now wash with this soap


You can sometimes find it at Target.  Or you can order it here.

It is awesome.  My skin feels so soft and clean.  It is not drying at all but very cleansing.  I use it morning and night. I cannot imagine ever using anything else to wash my face.

At night, after washing with that soap, I use Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Organic Raw -- 32 fl oz
on a cotton round as a toner. Do not rinse if off!  I leave that to dry and then follow with a very light moisturizer. The apple cider vinegar has balanced my skin and helped even out the tone.  I have some red marks from my acne and they have lightened immensely and quickly from the ACV.  I have no doubt they will be gone shortly.

If you are new to Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) as a facial toner, start slow.  Shake the bottle well (you want to get the "mother" which is a mix of proteins, enzymes and good bacteria at the bottom of the bottle) and either wet your cotton round with water first or dilute the vinegar.  It might sting a bit.  And your eyes might water a bit.  Just stick with it.  I promise, you will see amazing results.  I use it full strength now but I worked up to that over a few weeks.

My new routine is so easy and inexpensive and my skin has never looked or felt better.  I will never have flawless skin but I am so much happier since it has cleared up.

Also, my boys use these in addition to the soap with great success.  I think teen boys like the ease of these and they have worked great!


Obviously, I am not a dermatologist or any kind of medical doctor.  I have seen such a dramatic improvement after years of frustration that I wanted to share my finds with y'all.  PLEASE talk to your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your routine.

Also, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer them as best I can.

Rodeo 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015
I had all sorts of grand plans to post like 3 or 4 times this week.  But in reality, I slept in and hung out with my kids.  We baked. We played scrabble.  Kate did lots of crafts.  Harry fished. We cleaned out closets and drawers.  Kate and Harry outgrew all of their spring and summer clothes from last year. They both had big growth spurts!  I shopped online to replace the clothes they outgrew!  We went to the beach, the rodeo and the movies.  It was a very good Spring Break.

Let's start with the Rodeo.  We live approximately 2 miles from where the Houston Rodeo and Livestock show takes place. Most nights (depending on the humidity) we can hear the concerts.  That said, Dave and I are not native Texans and the rodeo is more of something to check off on our "to-do" list each year than something we look forward to.  We are not big country music fans and we don't like the crowds.  But our kids LOVE the rodeo. So, every year we take them and I do enjoy seeing their happiness. As young kids, they like the carnival rides, the food and the livestock stuff.  As teens, it is place to hang out with friends on the weekend in March.


Kate's romper (that she lives in).  Notice how Harry is almost as tall as Dave now?!

After two weeks of rainy weather, we finally had a sunny day in Houston.  Typically, we do not go to the rodeo carnival on a Saturday because of the crowds but for some reason we threw caution to the wind and went.

The first thing we always do is get in line for the pony rides.  The line is usually long and it moves slower than the other rides.  We were not sure Kate would still want to ride the ponies because most of the kids in line are much younger but she wanted to ride.  I have a feeling this might be the last year:(



This is what I got after the first photo.  The hand action was accompanied by "Mama!"

Yup, she is growing up.

And just for nostaglia sake, let's look at her first time on the ponies.
This was in 2009! She was 2 and 1/2 and I think she had mono but we did not know it yet.

Kate on Pony

Next it was onto a few rides....






Kate loves this flying ride.

Next we went on the sky ride.  In all of our years here, we had never done this before.



Kate loved it.  My palms sweated the whole time and my heart raced.  Let's just say Dave and Harry were not fans either.  Apparently, heights make most of our family a bit jittery.  Dave did make me laugh the whole way across though.  Kate and Harry rode behind us.


Another family favorite is the bumper cars.  The was the first year that Kate was tall enough to drive the big ones on her own.  She struggled though....


Harry jumped in and immediately started cruising around.  But poor Kate just went around and around in circles at the far end of the lot for what seemed like eternity. We could not tell her what to do from where we were allowed to stand. We tried not to laugh but it was kind of funny.  She just could not figure out how to drive.


Harry decided to go back where she was and bump her a few times (you can see them in the far back below) ...




And then Kate started to get the hang of it and she got in on the action.....




This is the look I get from Harry when I try to take his photo.  He's 14 y'all.

And while food is usually one of the best parts of the rodeo, it was not this year.  I am eating 100% gluten free right now and there were not really options for me there.  Plus, it was so incredibly crowded that you could barely get in line.  The kids ate a little.  Kate really wanted the fried ice cream that she had last year.  She talked about it for weeks.  But the line was at least 60 people deep and they fry each thing to order. It would have easily taken over an hour.  So she happily settled for regular ice cream.  She is really amenable like that.  


We were glad to check the rodeo off our Spring break to do list so early in the week but I doubt we will ever go again on a sunny Saturday.  It was crazy.  As the day went on you could barely walk from one place to the next because of the crowds.  As always though, I loved watching my kiddos laugh and have fun.

Will was not at the rodeo with us because he was on a mission trip.  He spent his Spring Break serving the poor in south Texas in a town just on the border of Mexico.  He helped build a house for a family there that lost their house in a tornado. He really enjoyed working on the house and helping people who needed help.  He slept on the floor of a local church and never once complained.  He even told me that he'd like to go back and do it again next year.  I am so proud of him and his servant's heart.  Will has always been such a great volunteer.

I also want to share some great news about HARRY!  He applied to two private high schools here for next year and he was accepted to both!  He also received a significant academic scholarship to one of them for scoring so high on the high school placement test. Now he has a tough decision to make.

I know I don't write about or share as many photos of the boys because they are teens and I try to respect their privacy but I am so proud of Harry.  He is a great student and he works hard. I cannot believe he will be in high school next year.  Will is going to be a senior and Harry will be a freshmen!  I have had three kids at three different schools for three years now.  The logistics of that has added a certain degree of chaos to our lives for sure. It would be so nice to be down to two schools for a change;)

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Fabulous sale

Saturday, March 7, 2015
 EDITED to ADD: The sale has been extended online only.  Use code  FIRSTLOOK for 40% off.

Also, look at this adorable maxi dress….


I was not planning on posting today but I got an email about a great sale. Remember these fabulous shorts I mentioned last week?  Well, today only they are all 40% off (no code needed).  And they added some great new styles.





They also have longer shorts. I especially like these eyelet ones below.


There are tons of other styles, lengths and prints to choose from.
In fact, all new arrivals are 40% off.  Ends today!

Oh and this romper arrived yesterday and I was not sure it would fit me/look good but I LOVE it.  I was worried it might be too short for me.  Is is not and in fact, since I am MUCH shorter than this model, it fits me totally differently.  It is really cute.


It is 25% off this weekend too.


Here is a phone pic of Kate in her romper last week.  Not sure why she had it all the way buttoned up.  She loves it though.

Ok, I will not be posting about women's shorts for a long time now.  I promise.
 I just had to share the great sale with y'all. I love a bargain.

Happy Weekend!

Disclosure Note:  This post contains some affiliate links and if you purchase items after clicking on links I may receive a small commission from the company (at no cost to you). I only link to products or companies I have used and loved. Thank you.

Dreaming of a bungalow/cottage…the guest room.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I know that I have written of our wish to downsize before.  Every time Dave and I talk about this people try to talk us out of it…telling us we need our space with teens.  Well, the fact of the matter is Will goes off to college in a year and Harry will be gone 3 years after that.  Also, I don't really think we need as much space as we have.  I think we will be fine with less. I actually crave less stuff and less space. I am also craving a creative design project.

If the perfect cottage/bunglaow came up in our neighborhood we would grab it.  But they never come for sale or builders buy them and tear them down.  So, we are looking in surrounding neighborhoods with the intent to rent the house out for about 3-4 years and then remodel it to suit our needs.

Currently, I feel frustrated because I love remodeling/designing/building.  Before I ever blogged, Dave and I bought an old home in a fabulous neighborhood and we gutted and designed a new kitchen.  This was 14-15 years ago (I was pregnant with Harry:). It was stressful but I loved the creative process.

Then, we built our house in Virginia.  These were the pre-pinterest days and I had an artists sketchbook full of ideas and photos of what I wanted in that house. I had been collecting those images and ideas for years.  I took them to the architect and challenged him to design the house.  He did and it was a fabulous house.  I loved choosing all of the details for that house.

The market in Houston is tough.  Things go quickly so we have missed out on some opportunities.

So, I am going to get my creative urges out here through the blog and pinterest.  I've done it before but I intend to go room by room fantasizing about my dream home.  I want fewer room but not small rooms. We have giant hallways in our current home.  They are beautiful but they are completely wasted space.  Kate does have her balance beam set up in one hallway;)

Today I will start with what I will call the guest room.  In all likelihood our next house will be a 3 bedroom that we move into when both boys are in college so it will be their room when they come home for summer/Christmas breaks or a guest room when they are gone. Therefore, it makes sense to me to have two twin beds.


I like that this has both masculine and feminine touches.
But it might be a little too feminine for the boys.


I like this simple masculine look above.  I think I'd use much more streamlined sconces though.
The cords and wires bother me.



This Sarah Richardson design is also clean and simple and can be changed easily with accessories.
Plus it seems very gender neutral for the guest room/boys room.


I love this one above but I would use a different light fixture.  Something more modern and less feminine. I'd also have a dark gray  chest in the middle instead of white.  These are full beds which would be too big for most of the cottages we're looking at but I love the idea of two full beds in a guest room if they fit.


I think this is from Martin Bullard but could not verify the original source.

This one is my favorite which kind of surprises me.  I am not usually a fan of this bed style. I think I like the light and dark with touches of coral.  Plus the draped fabric over the beds visually separates them a bit.  I like the clean simplicity of all of these. I think this is the look I am leaning toward.

What Dave and I really need is either The Property Borthers or Chip and Joanna Gaines to come help us makeover one of these original bungalows.  We saw one today that we know had potential but everything needed to be re-done. Seriously, it had a pond/fountain in the dining room y'all!  It also needed more repairs than made financial sense. It seemed too overwhelming even though I could visualize it down the road.

Spring shorts

Saturday, February 28, 2015
I really hurt my upper back somehow.  I am not really sure what I did to it.  I might have injured it in my Barre class.  I have stuck with the bar method now for 18 months. Can you believe that?! I try to go 4 times a week but this week, I have been in bed with heat or ice on my back.  I am having muscle spasms next to and under my shoulder blades in the mid back.  It literally hurts to breathe sometimes.  I went to the doctor yesterday and he gave me muscle relaxers but they knock me out cold.  Which is fine if I want to sleep all day but that is kind of hard to do with 3 kids and a practice to run.

My back feels feels fine when I wake up and then as soon as I start moving around the spasms return with a vengence.

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time in my bed surfing the internet, reading and watching TV.  That's not always good because I like to shop via the internet.  My husband some people might even say that I have a slight internet shopping addiction. But for the sake of this post, let's just ignore those people.

So, I needed some new shorts.  I was wearing my shorts kinda long.  But now that I actually have muscle tone in my legs (and the style is shorter), I decided to freshen up my short wardrobe.  Keep in mind that Summer last about 6-8 months in Houston.  So, I wear shorts A LOT.


I ordered these and they arrived the other day.  They are so cute.  The fabric, colors and fit are awesome. They are longer on me than the model  (I'm shorter:) They run a tad big. Although it is so hard to tell with vanity sizing these days.  I am typically a 2 or 4 in shorts.  I do not like them tight. The 2 was perfect for me in these.

I also ordered these.  This length is a little more modest but still looks fresh and not dated (like my old shorts).  I love these.  They fit perfectly and will match a lot.  They were very flattering on.


Finally, I ordered these.  I was hesitant as I thought they might be too similar to the top ones.  But they are my favorite.  The material is a pique and the pattern is so cute in person. The lengths on all of these are perfect.

I am 47 years old so I do not feel comfortable in  really short shorts but I also was feeling frumpy in my longer (7 inch) shorts. These all seem to be the perfect compromise.  They are a classic cut but look on trend.

I also spotted these on sale and grabbed a pair in pink and white.


I bought the 5 inch length but they also come in 3 and 1/2 inch length. 



Usually, I am not a fan of denim shorts.  But these are the MOST comfortable shorts! Between my reward points and the sale, they were so inexpensive, I decided to give them a try.  And I am so glad that I did. I already wore them once and got compliments on them.  You might want to size down one size as these are loose fitting.



And finally for Kate, this is the BEST purchase I have made.  It is her favorite article of clothing right now  In fact, I went back and ordered it in the lighter wash since she loves it so much and wants to wear it everyday.  If it came in my size, I'd order it for me.

Oh wait, They did just get a adult version! 


I might have to try this one.

These shorts for girls are really cute too.


These are all GREAT deals right now.  If you have a card use code STYLE for 40% off and code PREVIEW for 30% off if you don't have a card.  I rarely shop in stores anymore.  I hate driving around town and have limited time between working and mom/family stuff.  Plus, there always seem to be great sales online that are not necessarily happening in store.

I think we are all set on shorts for now.  But since I am kind of bed bound until this muscle stops torturing me, I'll probably do some more pretend internet shopping posts.

Disclosure Note:  This post contains some affiliate links and if you purchase items after clicking on links I may receive a small commission from the company (at no cost to you). I only link to products or companies I have used and loved. Thank you.

Mother-Son College Road-trip

Monday, February 16, 2015
I had NO idea that President's Day weekend is apparently a HUGE time to visit colleges.  Will is our oldest so this is our first go around at college visits.  Last Fall, Dave took Will to visit UVA and William and Mary.  He really liked both of them.

I decided (when I found out Will had off last Friday) to plan a very spur of the moment road trip for us to visit Baylor, TCU and SMU.  Now this is kind of ironic because a) I don't really do things spur of the moment, b) I don't really travel and am a homebody and c) I have a severe phobia of driving on the Texas freeways (a recent one since I have been hit a few times on them through no fault of my own).  Even Dave could not believe I had planned this little road trip.

I really enjoyed my time with Will.  He introduced me to his favorite music.  We ate a lot.  This boy ate 6 full meals on Friday.  Our first stop was Baylor in Waco, Texas.  It was my first time in Waco and we were both pleasantly surprised.  We pulled into Waco around breakfast time so we went here and had a great breakfast.  There were lots of very cute co-ed girls there and so Will was a little distracted.  Baylor has 60% females to 40% males.  I think that was kind of appealing to him.

After breakfast, we had to make a slight detour.  I love the show Fixer Upper and it takes place in Waco.  My Mom is kind of obsessed with the show and Joanna Gaines.  When she found out we were going to Waco she made a big fuss about us visiting the Magnolia shop.  So we did.


It is a cute shop but the inventory is very limited.  I hear they are expanding.  My Mom was looking for a "g" for her wall but I could not find one.  I did pick her up a little something for Mother's Day (she is coming to visit for Kate's 1st holy Communion!)

Will hated this.  He was embarrassed and did not want to take my photo.  He did notice there were lots of other old ladies in mini-vans stopping;)

Then we went to the Catholic Student Center at Baylor.  We just walked in and there were some kids studying.  They were so welcoming.  I really enjoyed talking to these kids. We got a great tour of the center and learned a lot about the campus ministry.  I felt confident that Will would find a great place to support his faith there.

Will was hungry again so we headed to this place (at a friend's recommendation)


I got a coffee milkshake because I was sleepy.  Will ate a double cheeseburger and a peach milkshake.  The food here looked amazing and not at all healthy!

Then we had a tour at Baylor.


We had fabulous tour.  Baylor has such great traditions and the campus was lovely.  We both were so pleasantly surprised.  Will had always thought he'd go out of state for college but I think he will seriously consider Baylor now.  As we started this tour, Will said, "Mom we should walk near the front of the group.  You learn a lot more that way."  And he was SO right.  On both this tour and our SMU tour, we learned all sorts of tidbits that the rest of the group did not hear.  Just my piece of advice for those of you about to tour colleges.  Stay near the front and strike up conversations with your guide as you move from point to point.

After our incredible Baylor tour, we headed up to Dallas.  It was a harrowing drive during Friday afternoon rush hour but we made it.  We checked into our hotel in Highland Park and then went to dinner with Eloise, Robert and Vivi.  Eloise is a blogging friend who we have gotten to know a bit over the years.  She has visited us in Houston and we have visited them in Dallas. They were so kind and gracious to take us to their local Mexican restaurant.  Then they drove us around the SMU campus.  They are both SMU alums as they met there:)  I did not get a photo of us and I am so bummed because I just love their family.  They have a daughter Will's age who is also touring colleges.

Saturday morning was GORGEOUS!  It was perfect Texas weather….  blue skies, no clouds and perfect temps. And the SMU campus is absolutely beautiful.  I cannot overstate how beautiful it is.


I LOVED SMU!    Seriously, I would go there if I could. If Will chooses a different school, I'm going to hope Kate or Harry goes there;) It is beautiful and the alumni are incredible.  I loved the academic programs and the traditions.  Again, we had a great tour guide and we stuck near the front and got a lot more information from him.


We did not have time to visit the Catholic Student Center but I wish we had. Next time.

Will was starving (again!) and really wanted In-n-Out.  We don't have them in Houston.  So, we went. It was heavenly.


So, at this point, I kind of needed a nap.  But we headed back onto the freeways down to Fort Worth to visit TCU.  We could not get into an official TCU tour because they were full.  But we walked around campus and talked to students in the rec center, visitor center and student union.  Will really liked the laid back feeling of the campus.  Kids were laying out on the lawn and playing music and tossing a football.  It was super chill.



The mascot is the "horned frog"


This is frog fountain.


I really wish we had an official tour.  But I think if Will wants to, we could come back and visit again.

We were SO TIRED after this visit.  I seriously wanted to get a hotel and sleep.  But we had to drive home.  It was a long drive that afternoon but Will and I had some good talks.  He slept some of the way but then we talked about some really good stuff.  I really am so grateful for the relationship we have.  I am kind of tough on my kids.  I have high expectations but I give them unconditional love and we talk about everything.  I am incredibly blessed that they talk to me and trust me too.  I will never forget our talks on this road trip.

As we pulled into Houston (I was completely fried), Will played me some awesome upbeat 80's music from his phone.  He held out on me the entire trip.  I laughed as we enjoyed some fun 80's music for the least few minutes of our drive.  I am still tired from this trip and cannot imagine touring colleges in 9-10 years with Kate.  I will be SO OLD!  

I am just so proud of Will.  He does not know where he wants to go to college or exactly what he wants to major in but he has such a good head on his shoulders and he is a good person.  I am blessed to have had this time with just him.

{All I-phone pics}