When I was 14 I went to my primary doctor to discuss my irregular periods. I was not under or over weight, I exercised regularly and was an all around healthy teenager. At the end of the appointment my doctor, after making sure my mom and I agreed, wrote me a prescription for Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. I didn’t know it yet, but that day began my seven year journey of struggling to find a form birth control that worked for me and my body.

In the U.S alone there are 60,887,000 women of childbearing age (15-44). Of those sixty million women, 27.6% use a hormonal form of birth control; 16% of the sixty million use a pill. Due to my age and the fact that “the pill” is the most common form of contraceptive, it seemed only natural that that’s the method I would try first. I was also only using the pill to regulate my periods at the time, and the pill is the best way to do so.

Me when I was 15. I miss that hair!

I used Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo for about three years. At first I was happy with it; my periods became predictable and all was right in the world. However my body did not react well to this pill at all. It was a slow transition, which is why I realized something was wrong a little too late. I gradually started to gain weight and my once thick hair became incredibly thin. I started to become incredibly tired with no explanation as to why.

The day I graduated high school. I was so puffy and bloated.

By the time I was a Freshman in college I was incredibly unhappy with my appearance. I was overweight, my hair was literally falling out and was depressed. Looking back at this time in my life I’m surprised I didn’t make the connection between all my symptoms and the pill sooner. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back came when I worked out for an hour every day for two weeks and still gained two pounds. I was also religiously watching what I ate.

Me my Freshman year of college

Enough was enough and I finally went to my gynecologist during the summer of 2014. After describing my symptoms and my experience with Ortho Tri-Cyclen my doctor decided to put on a different pill. I don’t remember why that one didn’t work, or why the next one didn’t work for me either, but eventually I was put on Lo Loestrin Fe, a pill that has the lowest dose of estrogen possible.

For a while this pill seemed like the answer. I dropped 25 pounds practically overnight. Suddenly my clothes were too big and I was starting to feel happier! Everything was great, until it wasn’t. Eventually my periods became unpredictable and my acne was starting to become unmanageable. After my fourth pill I decided I needed to try a different hormonal birth control. Clearly my body and the pill did not get along, and at 19 I was ready to try something new.

Sophomore year of college. I had lost about 10-15 pounds at this point and was starting to look and feel much healthier.
I cut my hair in November of 2014 because it had gotten incredibly thin.

After my gynecologist at the time refused to let me try an IUD, I found a new doctor and discussed my options. We both decided that that the Paragard IUD might be my best option. The copper in the IUD works as a spermicide so there’s no need for hormones. I was thrilled to not have extra hormones inside of me, and with a five year lifespan I thought this was finally my answer.

The process of having the IUD put in was the most painful experience of my life. I somehow managed to drive home from that appointment but the rest of the day and into the night I swear I was having labor pains. I called my boyfriend up at midnight absolutely sobbing and contemplating whether or not I should go to the emergency room. At some point I fell asleep, and by the next day I felt almost back to normal.

Fast forward a month and I went in for an ultrasound just to make sure the IUD was in the right place. It wasn’t. And why would it be, nothing with me and birth control had been easy, why would that suddenly change? My doctor said she could try to put it in the right place while using the ultrasound to see exactly where the IUD was going. Desperate for this godforsaken thing to work, I agreed.

A few weeks later I hopped on a plane to England, IUD still in place, and was feeling great about life. While in England my periods became increasingly heavy and long, but knowing this was a side effect of the copper IUD, I wasn’t too concerned. When I came home from studying abroad three months later I went back to my doctor for another ultrasound. The IUD fell out of place again.

At this point the IUD had to come out and my doctor wanted to try something else. I listened to what she had to say about the Nuvaring, and after doing some research myself, I agreed to try it. Worst decision of my life. The IUD was emotionally taxing and affected so many aspects of my life. I became so irritable and hated everyone around me. My already existing social anxiety became so terrible that my boyfriend pretty much pleaded for me to go to therapy. After two sessions with a therapist I became annoyed with her and mad at Luke for making me go (he didn’t make me, but with all the hormones rushing around that’s how I felt).

I had thoughts of breaking up with him, which was something I had never experienced in our two year relationship. We had so much fun together and loved each other so much, so why on Earth did I want to break up with him? I didn’t, but the hormones sure made me think I did. Then there was one week where no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fall asleep before 3 AM. I ended up missing classes, skipping my workouts, and becoming more irritable than I already was.

Enough was enough! Feeling frustrated and hopeless I made another appointment with my gynecologist and prayed for a miracle. At this point I think they were as sick of seeing me as I was of going to that office. Not wanting to go back to having to take a pill every day I decided that I would try a different type of IUD. The Skyla IUD is much smaller than the Paragard, only has the hormone progesterone, and is made specifically for women who haven’t had children. This sounded like everything I had ever wanted in a birth control.

After another painful insertion process, one follow up ultrasound, and a lot of Ibuprofen, I had found my miracle. It’s been a year since I had the Skyla IUD inserted and I could not be happier. I don’t have to think about taking a pill everyday, the IUD is 99.9% effective, and I’ve hardly had any side effects. In two years I’ll have to have the IUD removed, but I will absolutely have another one put in. The one day of pain is worth it considering how much frustration I’ve experienced trying to find a birth control that works for me.

My mom and I a couple of weeks ago. I finally feel comfortable in my body and like most of the damage caused by the various pills has been reversed.

Despite it being 2017, I feel as if there’s still a stigma surrounding birth control. Not many women I know talk about it, or if they do it’s with hushed tones and a sense of embarrassment. One method of birth control is not going to work for every women, and it’s worth talking to friends and family hear about their experiences. There’s no wrong reason to be on birth control or to feel embarrassed. I hope that by sharing my experience I’ve helped someone going through a similar situation or just made you think about birth control a little differently.

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Audrey Knizek

 

 

MAC e.l.f. highlighter

Soft & Gentle, as the man at the MAC counter told me, is the OG highlighter. Before highlighting was even really a thing, MAC had their mineralized skin finishes and was all over the soon to be trend. Naturally, dupes for such a cult classic were bound to come along; one of which is made by e.l.f. cosmetics. Blush Gems might even be mistaken as a travel size version of Soft & Gentle, it looks so similar. Do the similarities go beyond just the appearance, though? I put the two head to head to see which one is better and if MAC is still the go to for highlighters!

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As I type this there is a blizzard ripping through NY so it doesn’t quite feel like Spring; however it has to come eventually, right? Right…? *Looks around frantically for some confirmation*

Spring weather or not, clothing stores and boutiques are filling their stores with floral patterns, cute sun dresses, and flowy skirts. I’ve had my eye on a lot of different pieces so I thought I would put them together in a post to inspire my readers to update their Spring wardrobe!

  1. Blossoming Memories Raglan Top in Light Pink – Filly Flair

Filly Flair Spring Floral Top

I think Raglan tops can be so cute and are incredibly comfortable. I love the feminine touch of this top from Filly Flair and I can see myself wearing it with jeans or some little white shorts.

2. Find a Way Floral Maxi Dress – Filly Flair

Filly Flair Maxi Dress

Someone find me a field of flowers I can frolick through while wearing this dress! I think it’s absolutely stunning and it also looks really comfortable and flattering. I only own one maxi dress but it’s my mission to buy more that fit my small frame.

3. Corduroy Mini Skirt – Forever 21

Forever 21 Spring Corduroy Skirt

I love a good corduroy skirt, and this one comes in blush pink! It’s the perfect color for spring and can easily be paired with little sneakers or some nice sandals for a dressier look.

4. Selfie Leslie Rose Print Romper – Forever 21

Forever 21 Spring Romper

I’m actually drooling over this romper. Everything about it is stunningly beautiful and would be great for a wedding, formal dinner, or just because!

5. Cache Rose Gold Sandals – Steve Madden

Steve Madden Spring Sandal

I mean this sandals are rose gold, what’s not to love? The shine on them makes them great for more formal events when you want to look put together but don’t want the pain of wearing heels. They’d also be great paired with jeans and cute top for a more casual day. Little sandals like these ones are really versatile.

6. Classic Navy Blue Top – Lulus

Lulus spring striped top

I’m a sucker for stripes. My closet doesn’t need anymore but I can’t resist this top. The bell sleeves and laced up details are a nice addition to the top and make it different from anything I currently own. I love it paired with white shorts like in the picture!

7. Chic Taupe Clutch – Lulus

Spring Clutch Lulus

I don’t own anything like this little purse, and I think it’s gorgeous. The suede flap is a nice detail and I like that the strap can be taken off and the purse can be held as a clutch.

8. Billabong Sunset View – Navy Blue Striped Shirt Dress

Lulus Spring Striped Dress

Oops more stripes! Told you I couldn’t stay away. This dress looks so comfortable and perfect for those days when wearing pants is just too much work. The back is also gorgeous and could be really pretty with a white bralette underneath.

9. Road Trip Responsibilities Denim Shorts – ModCloth

Mod Cloth Spring Denim Shorts

These shorts are adorable and I need them. I would take the bandana off of the belt loop but I absolutely love the red peeking out from the pockets. It’s such a nice change from the typical denim shorts.

10. Happiness Is a Warm Mug T-Shirt – ModCloth

Spring T-Shirt ModCloth

Nothing like a good t-shirt to cozy on up in at the end of the day, and this one is adorable! I love tea, and I love t-shirts so this is the perfect pairing. A tea-shirt, if you will. Okay, I’m done now.

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Audrey Knizek

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a percentage of each purchase made through affiliate links*

Cranberry Orange Scones

About a month ago I became a representative for the Bluebird Tea Company based out of Brighton, England. Part of my duty as a rep is to create at least one recipe per month using some of the tea I’ve been sent. After assessing the teas that came in the welcome box, and mulling around ideas in my head, I decided to bake some sort of scone. Nothing screams England, or pairs better with tea, than scones, right? I will be completely honest, before baking these I had never baked a scone in my life. No better time than the present!

Bluebird Tea Co

The first tea I thought of using was the Bears Like Marmalade loose tea; it has an amazing floral, orange flavor that is so refreshing. However I wasn’t content with using just one tea, I wanted more! After trying Purple Rain I knew I had to incorporate it in the scones somehow; the gorgeous purple tea is too pretty not to use. That’s when the idea of a glaze occurred to me, because apparently creating my own scone recipe and then baking them for the first time just wasn’t enough. Both teas are part of Bluebird’s spring collection which goes on sale this Sunday, March 12.

Loose tea

Now, baking with tea can be a tricky task. Simply including the tea leaves in the batter or dough won’t release the flavors of the tea, plus no one likes chunks of dry leaves in their food. Steeping the tea in milk works somewhat, but usually if a recipe calls for milk it’s not a lot. So, infusing unsalted butter with the tea is the best option. As fancy as it may sound, it’s actually quite simple. Melt however much better you need for the recipe and then add in the loose tea without any tea ball or bag. Once it’s steeped for 5-10 minutes strain the butter through a fine sieve and discard the tea leaves. Then, depending on the recipe, let the butter solidify or use it in the melted form.

Bluebird Tea Company Loose Tea
Bears Like Marmalade tea; how gorgeous is that color?!

The glaze uses the same sort of method. Using a double broiler (or two pots and some water) all of the ingredients are combined to create a hot, liquid glaze, and then the Purple Rain tea is steeped for 8-10 minutes. Once it’s done steeping, the mixture is strained through the sieve and the tea leaves can be discarded.

Cranberry Orange Scones

The scones are definitely a bit time consuming, but trust me when I say they are so worth it. The combination of teas make the scones so lovely, plus they’re beautiful to look at! If you’d like to try this recipe out, and I really hope you do, head over to Bluebird’s website and use the code WLBTEABIRD20 to get 20% off your purchase at checkout.

Cranberry Orange Scones Recipe

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Audrey Knizek

February Favorites With Love,Another month has passed, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see February go. Nothing against February, I’m just so ready for Spring and warmer weather. This winter hasn’t even been particularly cold or miserable, I just feel like it’s dragged on. I want to wear pretty dresses, have tan skin, and drink iced coffee without feeling as if my body is iced as well. So, to send February off I want to share my favorites from the past month and hopefully inspire my readers to try some new products!

e.l.f hydrating face primer

Let’s start with this e.l.f. hydrating face primer. I’ve used this before, so it’s more of a rediscovery, but I love it just as much as the first time I tried it. I’m currently using some very drying topical acne medications, so anything that claims to be hydrating is my new best friend. It definitely has a silicone feel to it, but it leaves your skin very soft! Careful not to use too much though, because I found that my skin can look greasy. The primer goes on clear and is fairly quick to sink into the skin.

Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation

I actually tried a new foundation guys! This is a big deal for me as I love and swear by the Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless foundation. I have heard lots of good things about the Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation so I thought I would give it a go. It boasts 25 hours of wear time, SPF 20, and skin perfecting full coverage. I don’t know if it lasts for 25 hours because who wears their foundation for that long, but it does last me the 12 hours or so that I wear it for. I wouldn’t say it’s full coverage but it’s definitely medium coverage and is buildable. It has a smell that’s neither good or bad, it’s just kind of there. I don’t notice the fragrance once it’s on my face though. It’s comfortable to wear and has a semi-matte finish. The only thing this foundation wouldn’t be good for is flash photography due to the SPF.

I also strayed away from the Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Pencil as that one is expensive when compared to how long the product lasts. I went for the NYX eyebrow pencil in Dark Brown and was pleasantly surprised! It’s long lasting when set with powder or gel, glides on easily, and gives a very natural look. The only issue I’m having is the shade; I can’t tell if dark brown is right or not. When applied to my hand it looks great, but when I use it to fill in my brows it pulls red. Very confusing! So overall it’s a good product, the shades are just tricky to figure out.

Milani powder blush tea rose

This Milani powder blush in Tea Rose was the first Milani product I tried and I fell in love instantly. The packaging is gorgeous, the appearance of the blush itself is so beautiful I don’t want to ruin it, and the product applies like a dream. Tea Rose is a very natural shade that’s easy to just throw on and go. It blends easily and is just pigmented enough that the brush doesn’t pick up too much product. I really want to give the other shades of this blush a try after liking this one so much.

e.l.f HD Finishing Powder

A spur of the moment product I picked up was the e.l.f. HD Finishing Powder in Soft Luminance. It’s said to mask fine lines and imperfections and create a blurring effect on the skin. I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that it has brought my dull, winter skin back to life! The micro glitter makes the skin appear brighter and the powder does make my face look soft. It’s a translucent powder, however other reviews have stated that this product looks unnatural on darker skin tones. Just beware, because it’s a loose powder it does have a tendency to be very messy. I also bought this product in its old packaging; e.l.f. has since changed the packaging the product is still the same.

NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray

Staying on the trend of dewy and hydrated skin, I purchased the NYX Dewy Finish Long Lasting setting spray. I enjoy the matte setting spray of theirs and was excited to try this version out. The mist is very fine, which is always ideal for a setting spray, and I’m halfway through the 2 oz. bottle after having it for about a month. There is no noticeable fragrance which is also a plus! The setting spray does a beautiful job of blending your makeup and sealing it for a flawless finish, while making your skin look glowy and healthy! I will definitely be repurchasing this one.

Bath & Body Works White Gardenia Candle

Last up is this White Gardenia candle from Bath & Body Works. I think the spring candle scents are my favorite, and this one tops the list. This scent was available last year and boy have I missed it. It’s the perfect clean, but floral scent that fills the room and just makes me feel really happy! Not to mention the soft purple jar and wax are beautiful. I already know I’ll be buying another one of these (or two) before it disappears.

And that wraps up another favorites post! I swear, I try to make these shorter every month but that never happens. What products have you been trying and loving? Let me know in the comments below!

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Audrey Knizek

Blogger Coffee Photo

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a good week; I’ve been pretty busy so far. For today’s post I wanted to do a blogger tag of sorts considering I’ve never done one before and I want my readers to learn a bit more about me. When I was searching for a tag I didn’t find one that I liked all of the questions. I’ve decided to pick and choose questions from various tags and make my own sort of thing here. My blog my rules, right?

QUESTION 1: HOW TALL ARE YOU?

5’3″… 5’2.75″ if we’re getting technical. My pediatrician told me I was going to be around 5’5″ to 5’7″ considering how tall the rest of my family is (my brothers are all over 6 feet tall). What a load of crap that was!

QUESTION 2: DO YOU HAVE A HIDDEN TALENT? IF SO, WHAT?

A hidden talent? Um….singing I suppose. I think I can sing well, and people who have heard me sing have told me I have a good voice. Other than being in the musical Annie in eighth grade I never put the talent to use.

QUESTION 3: WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE?

Bad drivers. I have such bad road rage and my boyfriend Luke doesn’t let me forget it.

QUESTION 4: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SONG?

I am a music addict, I constantly have one of my many Spotify playlists on in the background and am always looking for new music. This makes it really hard to pick a favorite, but I’m going to go with Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism”. I have lyrics from that song tattooed on my right hip and that song, and the whole album really, means a lot to me.

My friend took this mid tattoo. I was 18 in this photo.

QUESTION 5: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND YOUR FREE TIME WHEN YOU’RE ALONE?

Reading or taking photos for my Instagram and blog. I’ve really been getting into photography recently.

QUESTION 6: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE JUNK FOOD?

Donuts, specifically Dunkin’ Donuts. They have crap coffee but boy do they make amazing donuts.

QUESTION 7: DO YOU HAVE A PET OR PETS? IF SO, WHAT KIND AND WHAT ARE THEIR NAMES?

I have a Miniature Schnauzer named Lili!

Miniature Schnauzer

QUESTION 8: WHAT ARE YOUR NUMBER ONE FAVORITE NONFICTION AND FICTION BOOKS?

I’ve read so many books it’s hard to choose, I also haven’t read that much Nonfiction…

Fiction: Harry Potter; it’s the first series I ever read and got totally engrossed in. I was (am) obsessed with the books and movies as a child / teenager.

Nonfiction: Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please”. Even if you’re not a fan of her, read this book. It is hysterical, informative and inspiring.

QUESTION 9: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BEAUTY PRODUCT OR TOOL?

My Chi hair straightener. I actually use it to curl my hair and I love how it looks.

QUESTION 10: IF YOU COULD ONLY DRINK ONE BEVERAGE (BESIDES WATER) FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Vanilla Chai black tea. It’s so so good!

QUESTION 11: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

Uhhhhhhhh……. Harry Potter? No, um, Across the Universe maybe. I don’t know, it’s so hard to choose just one! Have you picked up on the fact that I’m indecisive yet?

QUESTION 12: WHAT WERE YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL: PROM QUEEN, NERD, CHEERLEADER, JOCK, VALEDICTORIAN, BAND GEEK, LONER, ARTIST, PREP?

None of these really. I had a solid group of friends and we all hung out and stayed to ourselves for the most part. I was a straight A student for the most part and a goody two shoes. My friend (same one who took the tattoo picture actually) wrote on a sticky note in tenth grade “over-achiever since 4th grade” and stuck it to my folder. It ended up in a scrapbook my mom made for me as a graduation present.

Before my senior prom; I did my own makeup and was real proud of that smoky eye.
QUESTION 13: IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU LIVE?

Brighton England. I studied abroad there for a semester and absolutely fell in love with the city.

How could you not fall in love with this city?

 

QUESTION 14: PC OR MAC?

Always Mac.

QUESTION 15: LAST ROMANTIC GESTURE FROM A CRUSH, DATE, BOY/GIRLFRIEND, SPOUSE?

Luke gave me roses and made me chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day. He’s always doing cute and romantic things for me though, Valentine’s Day just happens to be the last time we saw each other.

QUESTION 16: FAVORITE CELEBRITY?

Anna Kendrick. She speaks her mind, is hilarious, is incredibly talented, and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

QUESTION 17: WHERE DO YOU BUY MOST OF YOUR MAKEUP?

The drugstore! I would love to buy more high-end makeup but that’s just not in my budget right now.

QUESTION 18: FAVORITE QUOTE?

Again, I have a lot of quotes I like a lot. There are two hanging above my bed that I particularly like though.

“It is a risk to love, what if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does?”

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

QUESTION 19: IF YOU HAD THE CHOICE TO PICK YOUR OWN NAME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I like kind of unusual names, and I even have a list on my phone of names I like. If my name weren’t Audrey I think I’d want it to be Niomi. I think it’s a beautiful and unique name that not many people have.

QUESTION 20: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?

I try to eat healthy a majority of the time, and I enjoy healthy food too! However, when it comes to cereal I will always love Lucky Charms. They taste like childhood and everything good in the world.

One last thing before I go; I wanted to announce on my blog that I’m now a representative for Bluebird Tea Co. Bluebird Tea Co. is located in Brighton, England and they have created so many delicious and unique teas. They’re shop is so homey and it was one of my favorite places to pop in while I was living in Brighton. It’s so exciting to be able to represent such a wonderful company and they’re incredible products. I’ll be sharing their new teas, recipes I’ve created, and even some discount codes all over on my Instagram so be sure to give it a follow!

I’ll be back with another post on Friday but until then, thanks for reading!

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Audrey Knizek