A Cost Effective Replacement for the Apple Lightening Cable – A Reach Cables 10FT Lightening Cable Review

While my huIMG_0396sband and I are both tech savvy people, for some reason it took us a very long time to leave our old phones behind and upgrade to the latest Smartphones. We didn’t upgrade to our first iPhones, the 4S until February of 2012. Of course once we finally had an iPhone, we never wanted to go back.

After many years of use, and a job loss along the way, we probably held on to those phones for a bit longer then we probably should have, but they still worked perfectly fine, so we were not quite ready to part with them. Not to mention the cost to upgrade not one but two phones to the latest model. Evidently we held out long enough because we got a deal from our cell phone provider that we would get a credit to our account for the purchase price of the newest iPhone, which at that time was the iPhone 6. As an added bonus we were also offered a $200 statement credit per phone upon trade in. Needless to say we were sold, and it took no convincing for us to upgrade to the newest model.

Since my parents already had the iPhone 5, which was the first model to use the lightening cable, we were already well aware of how fragile the cable could be. Now we both owned phones that utilized that cable, so added care had to be taken when removing the cable from the phone. No longer could I just grab the cable and pull it out, now I had to remember to grab the cable right at the base of the plug, so as to not put undo wear on the end of the cable. We were well aware of all the issues other iPhone users were having with their cables, so we wanted to make sure we took special care to not damage the cables we had, because at that point in time we could not afford to purchase a new cable if we needed to.

Our financial situation has changed since then, and I have always been on the lookout for a replacement cable. While I always charge my phone on a stand in the bedroom, my husband charges his in the living room next to the couch. You probably know that the OEM lightening cable is not particularly long, and while the end of our couch is only a few feet from the wall plug, the OEM cable was not quite long enough to easily charge the phone without having to use some form of a temporary stand, like a TV table or the Sub Woofer for our surround sound system to set the phone on while it was charging.

While the setup worked in a pinch, finding a more durable lightening cable was always in the back of my mind. One day I came across an Amazon listing for a 10 foot long braided fabric lightening cable for the iphone by Reach Cables. My husband had wanted a cable that was more durable than the OEM Apple cable, and this one looked like it would do the trick, so I decided to order it.

IMG_0398Since I am an Amazon Prime member, it took no time for the replacement cable to arrive at my home. I was impressed with the look and the feel of the cable right away. When compared to the traditional OEM Apple lightening cable, this braided fabric lightening cable seemed to be much more flexible than the stiffness of the OEM model. And of course the 10 foot length would solve the minor issue my husband was having when it came to finding a place to put his phone when it was plugged into the charger.

He liked the feel of the cable, the length, and the ends were much more rugged than the traditional cable. The only problem he had was the end of the cable that plugged into the phone was too thick to fit intoIMG_0468 IMG_0467 the port provided by the OtterBox case that the phone is kept in. In order to make the cable work, he had to shave down the sides of the plug, which you can see in the photos.  This in no way affected the functionality of the cable but the slight modification was needed in order to be able to use the cable, as we do not take our phones out of the cases just to charge the phone.

We did experience one slight glitch with the cable in the two weeks we have been using it. One night before bed my husband plugged his phone in for the night and he got an error that the phone was unable to charge, due to an unsupported cable. He just unplugged it and plugged it back in and everything worked fine. This only occurred once in the two week time from of plugging and unplugging the cable, so it is not a that big of a concern.

Overall, we are very happy with this 10 foot long lightening cable for iPhone iPad by Reach Cables. We love the durability, and added length that the cable provides. My husband has actually requested that I keep an eye out for a similar cable with the older plug that would work with his iPad. If I had to do it again I would definitely purchase this cable again. It lived up to all our expectations and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cost effective replacement to any existing Apple lightening cable.

NOTE: I received the 10 foot long lightening cable for iPhone iPad by Reach Cables mentioned in this post at a discounted rate in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions and experiences with this product are my own.

Finally a Leather Belt Built to Last – A Buyreal Generic Men’s Leather Belt Review

In our home, it seems to be a never ending battle with finding a belt that will last more than six months, no matter how much money we spend. For years I had been under the impression that you get what you pay for, so I would shy away from purchasing cheap belts, or off brand belts, figuring that the quality was not as good as the name brands.

Fighting yet another round of belts that were peeling and fraying long before they should have, I purchased hubby two new belts from Kohls.com. I still had in my mind that name brands were the way to go, so I ordered a Dockers and Levi’s brand belt, both were reversible. I had started purchasing the reversible forms, figuring I could save some cash by only purchasing two belts instead of four.

Needless to say I could not be more wrong. After having the belts for a very short amount of time, I came home from work one day to have my husband tell me that one of the screws had come out of the Levi’s belt I had just purchased. This had honestly boggled the mind, as I could not possibly wrap my head around how it was even possible for a screw to completely fall out of a belt.

 Luckily being the handyman that he is, he was able to come up withimage4 a “fix” using a small screw he had in the garage, which you can see in the photo at the right.  Then days before I actually received the new belt in the mail, the second screw actually slipped past the hole in the belt, and it was impossible to get it back in place, which made it even more confusing as to how the screw came out in the first place. That is the one on the left in the photo.

So onto the product that was the original purpose of my post. In my travels across the internet, I found this Generic Men’s Casual Leather Belt by Buyreal. I liked the look of the belt, and while I was a bit unsure because it was a black only belt, and not a reversible like all the ones I had been buying, it took me a bit to finally make the decision to make the purchase.

image1When this belt first arrived in the mail I was very impressed with the package presentation. It came shrink wrapped in a nice metal gift box, seen at right. Once I removed the shrink wrap, I was actually surprised by the durability of the box itself. This company didn’t use any flimsy metal in the packaging of their product. I believe the box had been designed to be used for storage of the belt when its not in use, but since my husband actually wears the belt every day with jeans, we have actually re-purposed the box for household storage, since it is that durable.

image2Upon opening the box, I found the belt to be presented nicely and packaged well to prevent any wear or damage from occurring to the belt. But of course the real test was yet to come, its true durability which one can only truly determine with constant wear.

My husband is not one that is overly rough on his belts. He works in an office environment, so they are not subjected to any excessive wear and tear. That is what makes the experiences with previous brands so surprising. Other belts have shown excessive wear just from normal use, but I am happy to say that has not been the case with this Generic Men’s Casual Leather Belt by Buyreal.

He has been wearing it daily for almost two weeks now, and the belt looks as good as when it image5first came out of the package. There is no wear to the edges, nor is there any ripping or widening of the belt holes that has been so common in our house with other brands, as you can see in the photo at the left.

My husband has actually said this is probably the best belt he has ever owned, and we have purchased belts from the likes of Levi’s, Dockers, and Chaps just to name a few. He even said that it matches the interior of his new GMC pickup truck, which is apparently an added bonus, as that was by no means a reason for purchasing this belt.

There are only a few downsides to this particular product. The first being the size. My husband commonly wears a 32″ belt, yet the smallest belt that was offered was a 34″. Previous buyers had stated that the belt ran small, so I figured the 34″ would fit and it did. We actually measured it against one of the existing 32″ belts my husband had in the house, and this one was approximately an 1″ longer, so I would estimate it to be a 32″-33″, not the 34″ that it is listed as. So if you do wear a 34″ I would suggest going up one size.

The only other downside, which I really can’t classify as a downside, is the contrasting white stitching on the belt. My husband loves the belt, but the white stitching makes it look too casual, which prevents it from being worn for work. Hopefully the company will come out with another belt with black stitching, similar to what they did for the brown belt that is available.

Overall, we are very happy with this belt, and I will actually be purchasing another in the brown color as soon as I have a chance. So if you find yourself in the market for a new belt, I highly suggest giving this one a try, it is well worth the money and you will not be disappointed.

NOTE: I received the Generic Men’s Casual Leather Belt by Buyreal mentioned in this post at a discounted rate in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions and experiences with this product are my own.

Since When Did Food Become My Enemy??

I hadn’t been planning on posting today, but having just had an episode at work that left me feeling like I just wanted to go home and hide under the covers. This resulted in my need to vent my frustrations about the unseen hell that I deal with, sometimes on a daily basis.

While the struggle to live gluten-free is hard enough, reading labels, avoiding eating out, etc, most do not realize the daily struggles that I face, simply because its is not visually apparent. Due to my gluten allergy, ingesting gluten does terrible damage to your body, particularly the digestive tract. It is this damage that causes a plethora of other issues, both physical and mental, that sometimes make you just not want to get out of bed in the morning and face the day.

For me, this is turning into just one of those days.

Last night we had my all time favorite for dinner, Mac N Cheese. We have a Vitamix, and there is a recipe to make fresh cheese sauce at home, that we have slightly modified to be GF by using GF flour and almond milk. We also add a bit of a kick with the use of pepper-jack cheese and diced Jalapenos.

For months I have been able to eat this food without incident, until recently. While dinner goes down fine, it’s not until hours later, even the next day that the meal takes its toll, and to make matters worse, I do not even know why as this meal is 100% GF, and contains ingredients that I have been eating for years!!!

My morning started out fine, with the exception of a bit of digestive upset, but at this rate, that is pretty much becoming par for the course, just some days are better than others. I ate got up, ate breakfast, got ready for work, and made it in, all pretty much without incident. I figured I had finally turned a corner, and I no longer was having reactions to a meal that I love which had turned into my enemy out of nowhere.

As I sat at my desk, out of nowhere I felt light-headed, which quickly passed, as always, and then the pain began. A lovely centralized ache just above the belly button, the type of pain that is accompanied by belching, which seems to be the only thing that makes the pain go away. Of course if you have never experienced this type of pain, it is easy to assume the worst, but for me it has become almost normal. The only problem is I never know “when” it will occur. This is usually followed by an all over dull body ache, and a touch of chills that make you feel like you wish you had stayed in bed.

Since it was almost lunch time, I hoped that eating would hopefully help with the symptoms, as adding new food should hopefully “push” the offending food past the irritated section. As I write, lunch, and some peppermint tea have helped ease the pain, and move things on their merry way.

Now I can’t help but wonder, have I really developed a reaction to spicy foods? I used to be able to eat meals containing Jalapenos, Habaneros, and even a touch of my hubby’s favorite pepper, the Carolina Reaper, with no incident. But now it seems like since I have gone gluten-free, my digestive tract doesn’t seem to be able to handle the spiciness anymore, which is quite discouraging.

Will this ever get better? I don’t even know anymore. I have already eliminated so much from my diet as is, that I hate the idea of not being able to eat anything spicy. Has anyone else experienced the same issues after going gluten-free? Would love to hear your thoughts cause I am really hoping this is just temporary, cause I do not want to be stuck eating bland food for the rest of my life.

NOTE: as you may have already seen in previous posts, I refer to myself as having a Gluten Allergy because I have not been tested for Celiac. I could very well be Celiac, but do not want to refer to myself as such as I have not had the test to prove it.

Chaz Dean Wen – Real Deal VS Infomercial

I have been a loyal Wen user for going on three years now, so I have to say I was a bit surprised to hear all the issues some women were having with this product. Not to mention the lawsuit due to the product causing bald spots, among other issues. In all the time I have been using the product, I have never experienced any of these issues, so it kind of made me wonder what exactly was going on.

While I first found out about Wen from QVC, I knew that the product was also sold on a variety of Infomercials, although I never personally purchased the product from any of them, but I made the assumption that if Chaz Dean was willing to put his name on it, it had to be the same product as what he sold on QVC, and in his salon. Then one day I saw a post on the Wen by Chaz Dean Facebook page in response to a customer post that stated that the recipe for their product has never changed, but that they could not speak for the products offered by Gunthy-Renker, the very same company that runs all the infomercials, and to my dismay also supplies Wen to stores like Sephora.

As soon as I read this a lightbulb went off, and needless to say I was a bit irritated to say the least because how could it be possible that there are in fact two different recipes? I suddenly found myself checking every Wen product I had in my house, only to find that two out of the four items I had were in fact genuine, while the others were the Gunthy-Renker crap.

I had been in a pinch, so while waiting for my shipment from Wen to arrive, I purchased a bottle of SixThirteen at Sephora. Having had used the real SixThirteen that I had ordered directly from Chaz Dean in the past, I had originally thought that there seemed to be a bit of a difference in odor and performance when compared to the original, but I dismissed it, figuring it was just my feeling under the weather that was leading me to think the product was not right.

Needless to say, my original feeling was correct, because when I looked at the bottle from Sephora, it clearly stated distributed by Gunthy-Renker, not Chaz Dean like the real products.  I then went directly to the Chaz Dean website and compared the ingredient list to the bottle I held in my hand and found a lot of variations. This infuriated me to no end, and caused me to actually throw out a half used bottle of the non cleansing conditioner because I could not bring myself to use something that was not 100% genuine.

IMG_0385The photo to the left is of the exact label that I pulled off the SixThirteen bottle that I had purchased from Sephora.

Now here is the list of ingredients in the very same product direct from ChazDean.com:

•   Water (Aqua)
•   Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Derived)
•   Behentrimonium Methosulfate
•   Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract
•   Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice
•   Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
•   Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride
•   Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract
•   Vanillin
•   Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil
•   Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Leaf Extract
•   Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil
•   Oenothera Biennis (Organic Evening Primrose) Oil
•   Marsh Mallow/Althea Extract
•   Lotus Corniculatus Flower Extract
•   Loquat (Eriobotrya Japonica) Leaf Extract
•   Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil
•   Honey Extract
•   Ginseng Extract
•   Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract
•   Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil
•   Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil
•   Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract
•   Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Neroli Orange) Fruit Extract
•   Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil
•   Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Extract
•   Borage (Star Flower) Seed Oil
•   Polysorbate-60 (Plant Derived)
•   Glycerin (Plant Derived)
•   Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Extract
•   Amodimethicone
•   Sodium PCA
•   Citric Acid (Naturally Derived)
•   Hydrolyzed Quinoa (Chenopodium) Protein
•   Sodium Lactate
•   Menthol (Analgesic)
•   Arginine (L-Arginine)
•   Aspartic Acid (L- Aspartic Acid)
•   PCA
•   Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
•   Tetrasodium EDTA
•   Glycine (Naturally Derived)
•   Alanine (L-Alanine)
•   Serine (L-Serine)
•   Valine (L-Valine)
•   Soluble Collagen (Marine Kelp)
•   Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil
•   Olea Europaea (Organic Olive) Fruit Oil
•   Lycium Barbarum (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract
•   Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract
•   Abyssinian Oil (Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil)
•   Tocopherol (Antioxidant)
•   Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract
•   Panax Ginseng Root Extract
•   Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Extract
•   Proline (L-Proline)
•   Threonine (L-Threonine)
•   Isoleucine (L-Isoleucine)
•   Propylene Glycol
•   Palmitoyl Oligopeptide-70
•   Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7
•   Phenylalanine (L-Phenylaline)
•   Histidine (L-Histidine)
•   Glycogen
•   Methylchloroisothiazolinone
•   Methylisothiazolinone
•   Fragrance (Parfum)

I know this is a lot of information, but here is a brief synopsis of what I found. While the first three ingredients are the same on both products, the first variation I found was ingredient number four. The Sephora bottle showed Stearamidopropyl Dimethlamine, where the fourth from Chaz Dean is actually an extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract to be exact. This is then followed by another extract on the Chaz Dean product which is Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, while the Sephora product had Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride. While is is true that the Chaz Dean product does contain those ingredients, they fall after the extracts, and the extracts that are on the label for the Sephora product  are actually in a different order than those for the Chaz Dean product. As you know when it comes to ingredients in any product, the closer the ingredient is to the top, the more there is of that particular ingredient in the product, than the ingredients that are closer to the bottom of the product.

The biggest issue I found was that the Sephora, or should I say Gunthy-Renker product actually had 73 total ingredients when the Chaz Dean product had 68! So that pretty much means that the Gunthy-Renker product has 8 more ingredients in it, which probably come in the form of fillers. It was that difference that made me vow to only ever buy Wen from QVC or direct from his website, because how can you really know whether you are getting the real thing or the infomercial product, especially when buying online, or even in a well-known store like Sephora.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for Wen.

  • Make check the label and make sure it states “Made in the U.S.A”, and depending on the product it IMG_0375should either list his website, http://www.chazdean.com, as the Styling Creme bottle to the right shows. This is a smaller product so there is limited space for text. Products like the Cleansing Conditioner should show “Manufactured for: WEN by Chaz Dean, Inc Hollywood, CA”.  If the product states Dist by: Gunthy-Renker, do not buy!
  • Check the bottle size. Now this is something I never even thought about when buying Wen, but now that I think about it, there is a glaringly obvvious difference that should have made me realize that they were not the same product. When you purchase the Cleansing conditioner from Chaz Dean directly the bottles come in one of three sizes, the 1 Gallon, 32oz, or 16oz.  The bottle I had of the SixThirteen was actually a 12oz bottle, which is a size not offered direct from Chaz Dean.
  • IMG_0372Bottle Shape. This is actually a very subtle telltale sign of whether the product is genuine or from the infomercial, and can be easily overlooked because we know brands change packaging all the time, but Chaz seems to be one of the few that sticks with what works. I use three of his products, the Cleansing Conditioner, the styling creme and the Replenishing Treatment Mist. The bottle pictured at left is actually the Gunthy-Renker product. You will see that the bottle is tall and skinny, although it does still contain the same amount of product at the one direct from Chaz Dean. I have noticed that for both the styling creme and mist, his bottles are actually short and fat, while the infomercial stuff is tall and skinny.
  • Price. If it seems too good to be true it probably is. I have been guilty of this as well. You love a product but your budget just can’t afford it, so you go online and try to find the product you love for just a little less than retail price, hoping for a good deal. Sadly this is a surefire way to buy a product that is not the real deal, unless you can verify that it is the real product. The only exception to this could be eBay, where a person could possibly be selling the product as a discount that they received as a gift and do not want. In this case I would still make sure the product is genuine and meets the criteria listed above, and that they are showing a photo of the actual product, not a stock image.Retail prices for the real Wen products I use are as follows:
    • Replenishing Treatment Mist – 6oz $32
    • Styling Creme – 6oz $24.00
    • Cleansing Conditioner
      • 16oz – $32.00
      • 32oz – $58.00
      • 1 Gallon – $210.00

These are just a few of the tips I came up with to help you be better informed when it comes to buying this awesome product called Wen. It really saddens me that there is actually a difference between the product offered by Chaz Dean and the product that Gunthy-Renker is selling on their infomercials, as I feel that it could potentially be turning so many people off to a product that really does wonders for your hair, simply because the company seemed to have made the choice to go cheap and put fillers in their product which can drastically affect its performance.

I know this was a lengthy read, full of my personal experiences with this product, but I hope the information it contains helps you make an informed buying decision in the future.



My January Fix – A Stitch Fix Review

This is only my second fix, and I have to say I am already in love with the Stitch Fix service, and I wish I had signed up sooner. I love getting new clothes every month, without having to go through the frustration of the mall, and I get to try everything on in the comfort of my own home, no pushy sales people, and honest opinions from my husband as to whether or not I should keep an item. As an added bonus, I will say that Stitch Fix has forced me to step outside my comfort zone just a bit, and allowed me to try on items I probably would have walked right past in the store. But enough about me, on to the goodies I received in this months box.

Item #1: Market & Spruce Alan French Terry Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan

This was one of the items I had actually pinned to my Pinterest board, I loved the look online, but sadly it just didn’t flatter my figure. I loved the feel of the fabric but it seemed to be a bit too baggy in the armpit area, and then it was bunchy at the bottom of the zipper. As my husband put it, it looked like something out of Mad Max. Luckily I wasn’t totally in love with the piece from the beginning so his opinions didn’t really bother me, and just confirmed my own thoughts. It just wasn’t the piece for me.

Item #2: RD Style Tawna Pullover Sweater


I will say I was a bit hesitant about this sweater from the start. When I first pulled it out of the box, the feel of the fabric just didn’t hit me. It felt like it was made of primarily some form of spandex, and upon looking at the tag it was 80% viscose, 20% polyester. I tried it on, and it almost kind of felt like a struggle, the fit was also a bit too snug for my taste. While I am not overweight, 5′ 8″ and about 135 lbs, I do have a little bit of a belly and this sweater seemed to emphasize that which I would much rather hide. The tag states its a size Medium, but to me it felt more like a size Small. I also had concerns about how it would withstand washing, and feared it may stretch, while my husband thought it would be prone to pilling. If the material makeup had been revered it might have been a winner, but it just wasn’t for me.

Item #3: Margaret M Emer High Waisted Trouser


I have to say I was hesitant to even try these pants on when I saw on my invoice that they were high waisted. My first thought was I’m only in my mid 30’s and anything high waisted is just not me. After trying them on I was a bit surprised as they didn’t really have the “Mom Jean” feel that I was expecting. These pants were just a pull on type of stretch pant, and they fit me great in the waist, but apparently my legs are a bit more muscular than the person these pants were designed for. They are a straight leg design, so they bunched around my knee and my calves, which made it visibly evident that they weren’t the right fit for me. I’m not normally one who would even consider pants with a legging style fit, but if it wasn’t for the bunching in the legs I may have just kept them as they would go great with longer sweaters or other tops, and the pull on style is great for those days when you just don’t want to squish yourself into a traditional pair of dress pants.

Item #4: Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top


This was another case of wanting to love this item, but the fit was not at all what I was expecting. When I first took it out of the box, my initial response was I love the color, but it seemed a bit too big, especially for something with a size tag of a Medium. I tried it on and it was so baggy that it made me feel like I was overweight and trying to hide something. Even the sleeves kind of confused me. I wasn’t sure if the ends were supposed to be slid further up your arm, or if they were meant to go further down. Either way resulted in way too much baggy fabric in the armpit area, and overall it made me look like I had no body shape at all. The fabric was also quite thin, as you can see on the mannequin. I loved the color, so hopefully in future Fixes there will be items with a better fit than this top had.

Item # 5: Mak Paula Cable Knit Cowl Neck Sweater


This was the one item I loved from the start when I first took it out of the box. I loved the soft cozy feel of the fabric, and it felt even better when I put it on. There was no itchy feeling, just a soft, cozy feeling, that made you feel like you could be comfy and cozy no matter whether you wear it to the office, or running errands. The fit was just lose enough without being too baggy, so its definitely a keeper for me.

While this was only my second fix, I will say that my stylist Austyn did a good job selecting items, and some of the selections in this months box are proof that they do in fact check your Pinterest board. I loved the look of everything right out of the box, and I probably would have kept everything had the items actually looked good on my body, and I will definitely say I am looking forward to future shipments, just to see what goodies I get next.

If you are considering giving Stitch Fix a try, I highly recommend it, as you really have nothing to lose.  I currently have my account setup so I only receive one shipment a month, but Stitch Fix gives you the option to select the frequency of your shipments. You can receive shipments every couple of weeks, monthly, every other month, or even every three months, so there is something to fit every budget, or preference.

While the opinions of the clothing that I received in this post are completely my own, I do get a $25 referral credit for anyone who signs up and requests their first fix using the links contained in this post, so please feel free to give Stitch Fix a try. You really have nothing to lose, and only a wardrobe full of new clothes to gain.





Gluten Free Rant: Stop Putting Carrageenan in EVERYTHING!!!

© Artesiawells | Dreamstime.com - Red Seaweed And Sand Pattern Photo
© Artesiawells | Dreamstime.com – Red Seaweed And Sand Pattern Photo

As I sit here writing this, I find myself suffering from what feels like a “glutening” but I have not knowingly eaten anything containing gluten in the last few weeks. How is that possible you may ask, well due to a simple little “natural” ingredient that is suddenly cropping up in everything from milk, to ice cream, salad dressing, and more products than I could possibly list here. What is that ingredient, why its Carrageenan.

If you have ever read the ingredients on your new favorite ice cream brand, or even ricotta cheese, yep some brands have it, you may have seen it listed as an ingredient, but probably had no clue exactly what it was. Well, Carrageenan, an extract that is derived from red seaweed, is being used in more and more products as a thickening agent. It takes the place of either Xanthan gum or Guar Gum depending on the manufacturer. The problem with this ingredient, and why I detest it so much, is the fact that has been found to cause inflammation in the human body. So guess what, it pretty much causes the body to react like it has ingested gluten when it really hasn’t.

Now to the main reason why I wrote this post to begin with. This past Sunday was our non-Christmas dinner at my mom’s house. I call it that because due to my father’s recent passing, that’s for another post, none of us were really feeling like celebrating the traditional Christmas eve meal that we have had for so many years, especially when Thanksgiving had already been so hard on my mom and I.

While my family does their best to read every label, and avoid gluten whenever possible, my mom did her best to make a dessert she thought I could eat. She found a gluten-free gram cracker crust, that even I didn’t know existed, and filled it with chocolate pudding. Now here is where my frustration with this ingredient being in EVERYTHING comes in. Before sitting down to eat the dessert, I checked the ingredients on the box of pudding, and low and behold my evil nemesis was there, but it wasn’t just Carrageenan, it was Calcium Carrageenan.  Not wanting to hurt my moms feelings as she is already having a rough time as is, and now throw in the fact that I have to be so careful about every damn thing that I eat, I had a slice of the pie anyways, even though I knew I probably shouldn’t, and now I am paying the price.

My body is now acting like I ate something with gluten. Pains in a variety of different formats, and even eating normal food proves to be more trouble than it’s worth, as I feel worse immediately after eating. Why are so many companies jumping on use of this ingredient, especially when articles like this one by Dr. Weil, advise specifically against regular consumption of this ingredient, especially in those with IBS. Guess what, gluten sensitivity or Celiac is an inflammation of the gut, simply stated, meaning that those of us with gluten problems should not touch anything with this ingredient as it just feeds the inflammation, and prevents the body from healing. I already went through this once before with the Blue Diamond Almond milk. Was still feeling like crap after eliminating all gluten from my diet, only to find that the milk was what was keeping me ill, switched to Silk Almond Milk and the issues went away.

So I urge you, if you or someone you love has an issue with gluten, has been diagnosed IBS, or suffers from other inflammation issues, make sure to read your labels and avoid this evil ingredient called Carrageenan. Once you start reading you will soon find is harder than you would think. but my experiences are proof that not all natural ingredients are as safe as the food manufacturers would lead you to believe.

My First Fix – A Stitch Fix Review

Having heard about this site from a few people, it had been on my radar for quite awhile, and I have to say I was a bit hesitant to finalize my first fix. I registered on the Stitch Fix site a few months ago, and had completed my style profile, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to finally signup for my first shipment.

So, after months of indecision as to whether or not I should finally give this site a try, I finally gave in and signed up for my first fix. Like many of you, I spent countless hours reading reviews, and the small amount of negativity about the site not really being able to identify their “style”, I finally decided that I had nothing to lose, and a lot of new clothing to gain.

My first shipment was scheduled for delivery on Dec 23rd, and I was excited to see what my stylist had chosen for me. I had specified in my profile that I didn’t really have interest in accessories, as my main concern was to freshen up my wardrobe since most of the clothes I still have in my closet are over 10 years old, and date back to when I was still in high school. I also had a lot of clothing that was now too big for me, or just didn’t fit right, due to changes in weight over the years.

But enough about me, lets get into the goodies that I received in my first shipment.

Item #1: Evolution by Cyrus Abbot Cowl Neck Elbow Patch Sweater

I have to say this sweater was actually in my final three of the items I had wanted to keep. I loved the feel of the fabric, and it was so warm and cozy on. What caused me to send it back was the elbow pads. This may be the “in” style right now, but it just wasn’t for me. When I had the sweater on the pads seem to hit past my elbows, and the comment from my husband was that they seemed to accentuate the bagginess of the sweater. If not for the elbow pads, I probably would have kept it.

Item #2: Kut From The Kloth Linzey Bootcut Pant


I actually loved these pants, they were the right length, the only downside was that I apparently picked one size too big for my style profile. After gaining a lot of weight, and then losing it by going Gluten Free for health reasons, I have still been having a hard time finding the right size for my body. Pants that fit me great in the waist are most times too tight in the hips and butt, cause I am just too old to be showing off pantie lines if you know what I mean. These pants fit great in the hips and butt area, but they were too big on the waist. Sure I could have held them up with a belt, but then they would have been bunching, and I probably would have found myself pulling them up at many points during the day, and the point of this is to find clothes that flatter, not make me look frumpy, so sadly they had to go back.

Item #3: Market & Spruce Talena Side Zipper Knit Top

I have to say on first look I had mixed thoughts when I saw this top, but once I tried it on I loved it. It is something so different than what I have in my current wardrobe without being too out there in style. I already have plans to wear it to a family get together this weekend with jeans. I haven’t decided yet if it is something I will wear to the office, due to the fact that the one negative is it has 3/4 sleeves and living in a cold climate, temps in the office usually call for warm comfy layers, maybe come spring when the temps warm up a little.

Item #4: THML Colinda Sheer V-Neck Sweater


I wanted to love this top, but the v-neck was just cut way too low for my taste. I loved the feel of the fabric, it was just so soft and cozy, but the v-neck, even with the sheer panel, was just cut way too low for the office as you can see in the photo. Other than that I loved the fit of the top, it wasn’t too tight, I just wish the v-neck didn’t cut so low, low enough that unless you wear something else underneath, your bra is peeking out. I guess you could wear a cami or something underneath, but I would think that would take away from the style of the top, regardless it went back.

Item #5: Mystree Imeldi Zipper Detail Pullover Sweater

I have to say I had mixed reviews when I first saw this sweater, as the back zipper really was not what I was expecting in a pullover sweater, but surprisingly enough, once I tried it on, I decided to keep it, even though its dry clean only. Its perfect for the office, as well as with a comfy pair of jeans.

Overall I have to say I was quite surprised by the first round of picks I received. After all the reviews I had read, I was a bit hesitant that I would end up with items that were completely not my style, especially since I had just started to fill my Pinterest board with items I liked days before my fix was scheduled to ship.

I have to say that the one downside to Stitch Fix is the cost. Before discounts all five items cost $360! If I was to keep all five of the items, I would have paid $250, which was after the $20 shipment credit, and a 25% discount for keeping all the items. Since I still have a lot of debit to pay off, $250 was a bit more than my budget could afford at this time.

Now you are probably wondering, will I continue to use this service? The answer is 100% yes! I hate going to the mall to clothes shop, and I love having new items, that make me step outside my comfort zone just a bit, shipped direct to my door each and every month. I am already working on cleaning out my existing wardrobe to make room for new goodies.

If you are considering giving Stitch Fix a try, I highly recommend it, as you really have nothing to lose. They also give you the option on the frequency of your shipments. You can receive shipments every couple of weeks, monthly, every other month, or even every three months, so there is something to fit every budget, or preference.

While the opinions in this post are completely my own, I do get a $25 referral credit for anyone who signs up and requests their first fix using the links contained in this post, so please feel free to give Stitch Fix a try. You really have nothing to lose, and only a wardrobe full of new clothes to gain.