Stressed Induced Eczema Attack- Not a Pretty Post

It was right after my lunch break. I do not normally eat at lunch. I go to the mall =P Mostly to window shop because my renos have my bank account on lock down. I did however grab a large pike place drip coffee from Starbucks and added my usual- 2 creams, 1 sweetener, and a bucket of cinnamon.
I felt an itch behind my ear and chose to ignore it.
When I got back to my office, the back of my ears and neck were buzzing and red. I thought I must be having some kind of allergic reaction to the scarf I’m wearing. I took it off but as the day progressed the itching only got worse. When I finally had a moment to go to the bathroom to check out the extent of the rash/hives, I found they were all over my neck- back and front.

I remembered that a few months ago my sister had a sudden rash on her chest and face. I texted her and found that she had taken oral allergy medication and hydro-cortisone cream. That night I took a reactin and the next day went to buy some cream. The rash had now spread to my face and chest. It was still the reddest behind my ears and at the base of my neck. I assumed it must have been the new leave in conditioner or dye my hair dresser had used when I had my hair done a few days before the reaction. I thought maybe it was a delayed reaction because I had mostly had my hair up in a bun after the dye.

I had put my hair up in a bun for the last few days so that it wouldn’t touch my neck, chest, and face. When I got home that day, I took a warm shower with just a bar of dove soap. I applied the cream and took another reactin.
The next day, the “hives” had spread to my shoulders and down my back and stomach. My face was literally covered. I couldn’t raise my eyebrows without deep wrinkles forming on my forehead because the skin had become so thick and dry.

I didn’t understand how these hives were spreading if I had been taking allergy meds, applying cream, showering with only water and soap, and keeping my hair away from my body and face. If this was an allergic reaction, the symptoms would be subsiding. Finally, I decided that I needed to see a doctor because it just wasn’t adding up.

The doctor took one look at me and asked if eczema ran in my family. I was shocked because yes, it did run in my family but the last time that anyone in my family had eczema or asthma was when my younger sister was a baby and I must have been no older than 3 or 4.  
She then asked me if I had been under a lot of stress lately. I had been a little run down but nothing I thought I couldn’t handle….

She told me that there is allergic eczema but this was just an eczema attack that was likely triggered by stress. She explained that eczema is hereditary and chronic and that just because I haven’t had eczema before it doesn’t mean I don’t have it and won’t get it again. I must have gotten a little teary eyed at this moment because she came closer and said “I know this is frustrating but you really must try to relax. You will get better. It will be okay.”

It all made sense. The more reactin and cream I took and put on, the more frustrated I was getting because they weren’t working. And the more frustrated and stressed I was getting, the more eczema would appear or spread. It’s now day 2 of me knowing what caused this outbreak and I’m happy to report that it has stopped spreading and has subsided a little on my face and ears. My chest, neck, and shoulders are still pretty bad but I’m sure it’s nothing some gym time followed by tea on the couch with some popcorn can’t fix. 


#ChixWithTools Master Bedroom Nail Gun Project

Thank you to everyone who participated in this week's #ChixWithTools Instagram series featuring a project completed with the use of a Nail Gun. 
I don't know about you brave souls but the two power tools which I was the most afraid of were the table saw and the nail gun. I'm not sure if it was the noise or the size of these tools but the thought of using one by myself was daunting, if not impossible.

But something had to be done about our Master Bedroom.

I mean seriously, look at how sad Baloo is. 
When we purchased this home, every single room needed work. There was not one room that we left the way it was. For some reason, our bedroom was one of the last rooms to be completed. Eventually, we decided we needed to do something about it. 

We used our old master bedroom in our previous house as inspiration.

It was a brand new townhouse. Everything was clean and painted white but it was a little too clean and white. I loved the crisp, blank slate look so we decided to add a feature wall with wainscoting to add a little more detail and depth to the room without taking away from the airy vibe of the room.

This was our end result. 

What you will need for this project is:

-Miter Saw
-Nail Gun (obvs) and Nails (Minimum 2 inch) 
-Caulking Gun and Caulking
-Paint and Roller
-Trim (we bought a bundle of 10 pieces of 10 ft trim for $30 from Home Depot)

If you do not have these tools, you can go to your hardware store like Home Depot and rent one for the day.
That's it! You're ready to start!

 Step 1: Turn your compressor on to "charge" your nail gun

Step 2: Map out how many panels you would like on your wall
Tip: A good way of doing this is to use some painters tape an make a mock up on your wall and make sure to measure the top trim and the bottom trim. The width of the top of your wall may be a few inches off from the width of the bottom of your wall. In my experience, dry wall is rarely symmetrical.  

Step 3: Prep Your Canvas

We chose to leave room for some wallpaper at the top for some extra detail. As you can see from the master bedroom in our townhouse, the wallpaper is not necessary, This is totally a style preference. 

Paint the wall. Yes, we painted directly on the wall. You can opt to install plywood panels on the wall before mounting the trim but we chose not to do that after calculating that it would save us about $100 and 2 hours to forgo this step. 
If you would like to add the plywood panels, here is a good tutorial from the DIY Network-

We used high gloss paint and did a good three coats to ensure full coverage. 

Step 4: Use your miter saw to cut all your pieces of trim while patiently waiting for your paint to dry- Fully Dry

Step 5: Hold the trim in place and press the nail gun in place and slowly pull the trigger while maintaining steady pressure on the trim. 
Don't be alarmed, this is a powerful tool so you will probably feel a little of a kick back from the gun.

(image from google)

Step 6: Use a level and hold the other pieces of trim in place and nail them into the wall.

Step 7: Once all the pieces of trim have been nailed to the wall, fill in the gaps with the caulking. 

(image from google)

Step 8: Wait patiently for the caulking to dry- Fully Dry

Step 9: Give the trim a couple coats of paint to match the wall

This project was so easy and so quick, I basically did it all over my house.
Here are other rooms where I used wainscoting to add that little extra something.


To Sandals Or To Save- Not Even A Question!

I’m not sure if you guys know, but I used to be a travel agent.
Travel agents make their money in a variety of ways, one of which may or may not be the most popular theory of “ripping you off”. However, we also can save you a lot! The trick is to find a travel agent that you trust and also to do some research on your own beforehand.

With that said, every time I tricked, I mean… convinced a couple that they should go to a Sandals Resort over any other basic all-inclusive resort, I would see dollar signs and chuckle to myself.
I knew that Sandals was a 7 star property but for 1.5x the amount of any other 5 star resort---please…y’all are fools!

Turns out, I am the fool after all of these years. I’m not saying that if you can’t afford it that you’re missing out because I believe in living (and that includes treating yourself) within your means. But if you were like me and thinking, I would rather buy 10 more couch cushions or picture frames than spend the extra $700-$1000 to go to a Sandals Resort, you need to check yoself, befo you wreck yoself! Because this sh*t is worth the sacrifice of another 100 couch cushions!

Here are my top 7 reasons why a Sandals Resort is worth it! (In the order of least important to most important- in my opinion)

             Da Booze
So I’m not a big casual drinker. I believe you should only swallow that highly caloric poison when your intention is to get wasted and have no memory of that night (or day… if that’s your kinda thing… I’m not judging).
BUTTTT the booze at Sandals is all top shelf, premium liquor! And after you try this God sent liquid gold of a drink, you will believe in casual drinking all day errday! I present to you- THE DIRTY BANANA (not the dirty monkey like my hilarious friend Christine aka @miss_brogs keeps mistakenly calling it) Dirty Banana!
And not just this drink, but with all of the other drinks, you cannot even taste the alcohol, it’s actually dangerous, dangerously GOOD!

             No Tips Allowed
This excludes butlers and shuttle drivers but once you’re on the resort, every bartender, chamber maid, waitress and waiter, does not expect a tip. In fact, if they are caught accepting tips, they can be fired.
There is no need to carry around loose bills anymore and once you have booked the trip, the most you’ll spend in tips is $10! That’s what I call All Inclusive!

           Private Beaches
“WAGWAN my lady! Did you want to buy-“  UMMM No. I don’t.
Also... Suggest I braid my hair…and die.. okay? Thanks! 
Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. I just hate being sold! I paid good money for this vacation and I’m not about to pay more for a beaded bracelet I will not wear! #sorrynotsorry

At Sandals, their beaches are completely private. There are no vendors harassing you and there are always more lounge chairs than there are people.

             No Crowds
Hi, my name is J and I require more than 3 hours of sleep at night and no, I am not willing to wake up at 4am just to reserve a lounge chair by the pool or on the beach.
I mean, come on, really? Is it just me, or does anyone else seem to make a routine of stumbling to the pool after a hearty breakfast everyday only to find that every single lounge chair has been reserved! I’ve literally asked another guest once for a tip on how to get a lounge chair and they actually said to me “If you get up at 3, you can catch a beautiful sunrise and have your pick of chairs.” EXCUSE ME? 3? Tell me you mean PM! NO WAY! NAH! Here, move over, let me sit on yo lap!”
At Sandals, there is rarely a time of day where there isn’t at least a few free lounge chairs. During our stay, there was only 1 day where it took us maybe 1 hour of leaving our things by the side of the pool before a couple chairs cleared up.
The ratio of guests to staff and hotel amenities is 10x better than any other resort or cruise ship I have ever experienced.
Not to mention that there were several other pools that weren’t as crowded as the two main pools which ALWAYS had free loungers.

            The FOOD
If there is anything you know about me, it’s that I LOVEEEE FOOODDD and I love GOOD FOOD!
All the other all inclusives that I have been to have subpar food even in their a la cart restaurants (sit down dinner restaurants).
Don’t even get me started on their buffets…errday I’m like “Imma stick to this toast- ooh there’s a fly on it, okay boxed cereal it is!” and then the days you really cannot handle eating anymore boxed cereal, you stand in line for 5 hours at the omelet station, resisting the urge to scream at the drunken 17 year old to JUST DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO ADD THE CHEESE!!!
Not to mention, having limits on how many a la cart dinners you are allowed in 1 stay. Yep, that’s right, many resorts restrict the amount of days you can go to an a la cart.
Another huge pain is having to RUSH IMMEDIATELY to the front desk to make reservations for these restaurants for fear they may book up and leave you with the “oriental themed buffet night”

The Sandals difference is GOOD food! Not just all you can eat, but all you can eat of quality dishes!
There were 10 a la cart restaurants and and additional 6 “quick service” where you could still sit and order quality food like wood fire pizza or authentic jerk chicken.
You were only required to make reservations at 3 restaurants. The rest did not require reservations, show up, grab a drink at the bar, and wait a maximum of 5 minutes to be ushered to your table.

  FREE Scuba Diving for Padi Divers
So I'm terrified of the ocean. It is my number 2 fear. Only second to the feeling of falling (not heights).
But when you're travelling with a Padi Certified diver and diving is free... you cannot say no to just trying it out at least. The cost of diving, once certified, can range from $75- $150 USD. During my trip, we went on 4 dives. If you were so inclined, you were allowed 2 dives per day!
At the end of the first dive, I was so comfortable with my instructor and the professional divers who came with us, I decided to take this opportunity to get certified. It cost me about $450 USD and was worth every penny!

  Adults ONLY! Couples ONLY!
So, unfortunately for my mother, I am amongst the 10% of home instagramers who is not a mommy. Until, I have my own screaming, brat of an angel, I plan to stay as far away from their drool and snot as possible.
Sandals’ 18+ age policy and couples only policy also prevents the drunken teens and topless bar dancers.
What’s left are doe eyed honeymooners, tired mommies and daddies looking to reconnect while the babies stay with the grandparents, and peaceful empty nesters.
Of course, you can go with a friend and pretend to be a couple but be warned that you will be surrounded by only couples and there is no such thing as 2 beds in 1 room at Sandals. So if you are travelling with a friend, make sure that you:
a) Are perfectly comfortable with an accidental midnight spoon or two
b) Are very good at making pillow barricades in bed

If you do have children and want to bring them along (for whatever bizarre reason- I’m only kidding..half kidding) have no fear, Sandals has a sister resort called Beaches with all the same perks except they are geared toward families. They even have sesame street characters running around the property! 

For these 7 reasons alone, I don’t think I would ever be able to go back to a non Sandals all inclusive again!


Santa, Maybe?

So I know I said I would post this last night but let’s face it, I’m never on time for anything…y’all should know that by now. Shame on you.

As most of you know, I have separated from my husband.
This year will be my first Christmas without D1 since ohhh 2006… LOL
It’s funny to think that I’m only 25, yet I spent 8 Christmases with him. That’s like a third of my life.

A lot of you also know that I’m writing a book.
This book is not going to focus too much on my past relationship. I will give you a little insight as to my thought process leading up to the separation but I want to respect D1’s privacy (as we are still friends and he knows where I live lol) so no real details and events will be shared.
I don’t want to give away too much because you need to read the book to hear all the ridiculousnesses I got my ridiculous self into after D1 moved out but I cannnn tellllll you some insider info… Santa dropped off an extra special gift a little early this year.

10 Things A 20 Something Divorcee Wants For Christmas:
1)     An instantaneous hot bod  
2)     Okay, fine…a gym membership or P90X work out kit OR better yet, if you have $129713487 laying around, some cool sculpting
3)    Or, a meal plan from some rando instagrammer #fitfam #cleaneating #nofilter 
4)     The continuous and growing drive and motivation to be the biggest, bestest, boss babe she has ever been
5)      If not… Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso is motivation in pretty prink packaging
6)    Or, some big girl panties from Victoria Secret 
7)      Kim Kardashian's wardrobe (but Kanye wardrobe thanks ✋🏼)
8)    No? Fine a $100 gift card to H&M will do 
9)    Or, a $1000 since their Balmain collection is like $102719729 per thread
10)  Lastly, to quote the great Ertha Kitt, "Santa honey, one little thing I really need...The deed... to a platinum mine" 🙏🏻

Don't have a divorced 20 something or the deed to a platinum mine? Fine 😑 without further adieu, here is my real Christmas List this year:


Saying Goodbye (Part 1)

Dear: New Home Owners,

Although this house is coming to you as a result of a failed marriage, I want you to know that love lived here.

Once upon a time, a young couple stumbled upon a foreign land called Brookswood. They fell in love with the tall, old, oak trees, the friendly neighbors, and the unique and charming houses.
The house was dark, dingy, dusty, and frankly dirty. It did not look like it was taken care of. It did not look happy. It did not look loved. The couple decided to take a chance and buy the place.

They rented a uhaul and hired some movers. It was a blazing HOT summer and their puppy Baloo was very unhappy about moving from their brand new townhouse. But his mom and dad reassured him that an even better, more exciting, and beautiful adventure awaited their family. So they packed their things, kissed their first home goodbye, and off they went.

They were nervous but excited! This was going to be their greatest adventure yet!
They spent 1 year checking things off their home sweet honey do list and finally, this fixer upper of a house became their home.
Each and every piece and element was chosen to suit their needs and taste. They poured their blood, sweat, and tears into it and the result was a home they thought they would live in forever. It would be their forever home.

So, new home owners, when you put your feet up on your coffee table after a long day, you might think to yourselves, "why didn't they install built ins" or "why is the light fixture off center"? You might find a few scratches on our floors and a few holes in our walls. You might attempt to Febreeze "our smell" out of your home.

But know, after a long day of work, that this living room hosted a lot of Netflix marathons.
It saw countless hours of girls' nights where we would spend hours chit chatting not moving from the couch. It survived countless hours of boys' nights where D1 would spend hours, days, centuries even.. playing Call of Duty with friends. It saw a lot of "beaches" what we called bringing a mattress out into the living room and fort building. It housed our Christmas tree in the winter and the sliding doors let in a cool breeze in the summer.

If there's a glare on your TV, turn out the lights in the kitchen. We found having a lamp near the fireplace was the perfect amount of lighting for a cozy, movie night in.
Don't look too closely at the curtain rod, it's beginning to sag in the middle.
And good luck figuring out how the wires all tuck into the box under the TV. Make sure you guys take the time to pick your DVD player and TV with absolute certainty because it will be a b*tch and a half to rewire.
Don't stop building forts and if you put your Christmas tree in the same spot we used to, every morning when you peek out from your bedroom, you'll see it glowing at the end of the hall.

It is my hope that you cherish this living room as much as our family did. May it bring you many good nights entertaining friends, many cuddles on the couch with loved ones, many silly games and funny movies with lots of buttery popcorn and junk food.

But most importantly, may the frames you hang above your TV, not be crooked like mine were the entire 2 years we lived there.



Secret's Out!

Well, it’s been 3 months.
3 months, 1 week, and 1 day to be exact.
And I’ve finally discovered the worst part of getting divorced.

The separation has actually been a lot easier than I had expected it to be. We still talk from time to time and it’s actually the same way we used to talk; minus the “babe” and “love you”s I guess…

Sometimes I think about him. It used to be a the most frequent right before bed. I figured it was because your bed represents settling down, safety, comfort, ..home. When you go to bed every night with the same person for five years, it doesn’t feel like home when they’re gone. It doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. It feels empty.
I could have been fine all day but as I crawled into bed at night, that alone-ness seemed to be amplified. Like my neighbors could see my lone shadow climbing into bed like the pathetic divorcee I had become. I was surprised I didn’t start to grow a hump, hang a large bell in my clock tower, and groan loudly in the middle of the nights…oh- that’s a different story… sorry for the melodramatics.   

Telling my neighbors, friends, and family was hard. Not that it was a shock to anyone really. I mean, I supposed it was a shock that we actually manned up and pulled the plug but it wasn’t a shock that we weren’t working. D1 and I (D1 is the ex) were highschool sweethearts. We loved like highschool sweethearts and fought like highschool sweethearts. I will never deny that there is a pureness about marrying young. I will never regret the decision I made to get married at 21. I loved D1 and he loved me. We had a great run. We just ran into a burning building, sorry no, we ran into a building where we set fire to the bottom floor and then kept climbing the stairs to escape the heat. 
It was exhilarating the higher we went. It was a crazy adventure full of highs but the flames would spread, they would rise. We would climb another floor. We would do it hand in hand. Sometimes he carried me. Sometimes I was dragging him. It would feel like our relationship was getting stronger but it was still a building burning from the bottom up. When we finally realized that climbing higher and higher was only a temporary solution and that one day we would have to jump because the bottom was just too burnt to save, we knew that climbing another floor would only make jumping off harder.

Jumping was hard. We had to strategically do it. We weren’t rash people. I mean, our building had started burning all the way back in March 2014 for God’s sake. We tried jumping in January of 2015 but we chickened out. Now we were 6 floors higher and we wanted out. The smoke was getting to us and we knew we were only a few floors away from dying. It was official, the smoke and heat was too much to handle. It was worse than our fear of jumping. We weren’t scared to jump anymore. We just wanted out.  

I pitched the idea of jumping again. He agreed. I retracted. He coaxed me onto the ledge. I hesitated. It was high. It was very very very high. Look at everyone watching. They’re all going to watch us jump. What if I die when we get to the bottom? What if I pass out or check out half way through the fall and never get back up? Maybe I didn’t want to do it! Maybe just one more level… NO. It had to be done! I couldn’t breathe. I was choking. Here goes nothing!

The fall was hard. We had to clear the smoke. It was thick. At some point, I couldn’t see him anymore. Did D1 jump? Did I jump alone? Was he still up in the building watching me fall. Did he regret coaxing me to jump? Or was he ahead? Maybe he was enjoying it! Maybe it’s like a rush for him! It was hard not seeing him. I was concerned. I didn’t want him to crash and burn. I hoped he had landed safely. WAIT! Why was I thinking about him?! Son of a b*tch set my building on fire!

When I finally cleared the smoke and could see the ground. I saw them. My friends and my family holding a giant net. They were ready to catch me. I knew they were heartbroken but I also knew they were trying to be strong for me. It broke my heart to see their weary smiles and tender, tear pricked eyes. I saw my puppy, Baloo, wagging his tail. He was waiting for daddy to fall out of the sky into the net too!

When I finally reached the bottom. I sank into the net. Just me. Alone. It absorbed me and braced my fall. It all felt like it was in slow motion so I didn’t feel the sting of the fall until I had gotten up. It felt like I was watching someone else. I could see them climbing the building. Higher and higher. I could see the flames spreading and the base burning to nothing. I kept screaming at the couple climbing higher and higher to just jump. I saw how scared they were but I knew if they just did it, they might live. They could have a second chance. If they stayed, they’ll go up in flames. I could see them climbing onto the ledge. I could see the fear in their eyes and hear the quickening of their hearts beating. I saw them reach to hold one another’s hands. They gave them one last squeeze, closed their eyes, and jumped. My breath hitched the moment their feet left the edge. I saw my own body suspended in air. I felt stuck but free all at the same time. I was helpless but relieved. I had relinquished all control. I had made an conscious, thought through, oxymoron of a decision to give up and blindly go where my subconscious had been luring me to venture to for the last year.

As I walk, by myself, in complete silence, down the aisle 10, looking for bin 51, I realized… this is it. This is officially the hardest, worst part of getting a divorce. I’ve found it. 3 months, 1 week, and 1 day later. The worst part of getting a divorce, the absolute worst part.. is having to push this d*mn Ikea shopping cart by myself!
Why do the back wheels not lock?!? Like is this an actual, purposeful design?! For what? For me to slide my way around the corners of this place?
Get your sh*t together Ikea! Like a freakin ab work out over here. 
Am I shopping or doing P90X?! FML!

Hi friends!
If you’re reading this, you’ll be scratching your heads, mouths agap. This is not a drill.
This is not a joke. It’s a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine. Just Kidding….it’s about me LOL!

I laugh because what else is there to do? I'm so sorry this is not a baby announcement. Mom, I'm sorry...
JK! My mom knows LOL I would not tell her via blog...

This all started in March of 2014. The divorce “began” January of 2015. As a form of therapy, I started my Instagram account, @homesweethoneydolist. I can safely say, it, as well as the people I have met through Instagram, saved me. I was headed down a very dark path and- well…this is a story for another time. 

Right now, all you need to know is that I am okay! 
I am happy. 
D1 is happy. 
We are both still friends and both still happy but not together. 

I want to say thank you to all my followers for your patience with me. If I haven’t been the bubbly J that you all know and love, this has been why but I am back now and with more ridiculous stories than ever to tell you!
In fact…I am on chapter 6 of MY BOOK (that’s right people…I’m writing a book) If you want to know WTF happened and WTF I did after divorcing my highschool sweetheart, stay tuned. I hope to have it ready by spring of 2016. I promise lots of laughs, tears, attitude, and emojis (yes, my book with have emojis!)

Love you all!
Can’t wait to share what a crazy adventure these last few months have been for me!
Xoxo, J


The Last House on The Left: The Plan

So now that the house is purchased and backing out is officially not an option... the reality is that I better start moving if I don't want to lose any money. After all, time is money and it's no exception when it comes to renovating and real estate.

When I look for a house, the number one thing (besides area and price) is the layout. I look for a very specific layout and this will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. In my neighborhood, basements are almost non existent. Most of the houses were built in the 60's and 70's which mean that they are only two stories or ranchers. 

The demographics of this neighborhood tell me that the market I need to target are families or retired couples looking for a rancher or a two level with a rental suite. One of the biggest obstacles is finding the right house that can cater to both of those markets. 

In order to do so, I need a house that is big enough to have a small 1 bedroom suite that will take up 1/4 of the house. This will generate rental income plus allow the family to still have access to 3/4 of the house. This is especially important if I am trying to cater to young families that will be looking for "room to grow".
After a lot of hmming and ha-ing. This is the floorplan that I came up with for The Last House on The Left:

Since I have taken possession of the house, my contractor has demo'd the floors, kitchens, and bathrooms. We have stripped the walls of their drywall and left only their frames where we want certain walls removed or moved. 

Now we have a clean slate...sort of....

The most expensive part of this reno will be adding a full bath to the downstairs and a half bath to the upstairs.  I anticipate the full bath will run me about $12,000 and the half about $5000. 

Stay tuned to see how wrong I am on those guestimates =P