Checking in on your skin

As a kid Amber remembers getting sunburns on her nose and freckles on her fair skin — every single summer.

There wasn’t an afternoon at the pool that didn’t have her back at home with her sisters, fascinated at how sheets of skin could peel of like that.

“Your skin is tight and hurts and it’s painful, but you don’t really think that you’ve done some lasting damage when you’re a kid,” she said. “I wasn’t always careful, I didn’t always wear sunscreen, and I didn’t wear hats. I didn’t think about the shade. All these things that now you understand are more impacting and you have to pay more attention to.”

While lying on a beach a couple years ago on vacation, Amber’s husband noticed a weird shaped mole on her back. He told her to get it checked out.

“It wasn’t raised, but it was sort of in the shape of a country, and they say you should pay attention to the borders,” she said. “I couldn’t see it, and it wasn’t bothering me, so I just let it go for a couple of years. But then last summer, my husband brought it up again.”

The mole had gotten bigger and another mole had formed next to it. Her husband insisted she get it checked out.

“I decided he was right, better safe than sorry,” she said, and immediately made an appointment to get her moles checked.

When you get your moles checked, you wear a gown and they look at all of your skin to see if you have any concerning marks or moles. They check everywhere, even places you wouldn’t expect to be problematic, and they look for warning signs in:

  • asymmetry
  • rough borders
  • changes in the mole
  • inconsistent color

“If it looks weird or out of place or if it’s growing or getting darker, it’s something to pay attention to,” Amber said. “My husband even took pictures of my mole so we could track any changes over time.” Her doctor decided to remove the mole on her back and another under her arm as a precaution.

Skin cancer is the number one killer of women, claiming more lives than breast cancer at this point.

“It’s a pretty eye opening thing that we really have to pay attention to,” Amber said. “The way you can do that is by taking as many precautionary measures as you can, like sunscreen and shade and wearing hats and sunglasses. And also by paying attention to your skin and the messages that you body is trying to give to you. It’ll literally put up a red flag in the form of a strange mole, but you have to pay attention to it.”

Learn how to examine your skin for melanoma from experts at the National Cancer Institute here.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Get Smart about Protection
Check out the best and worst sunscreen list on the Environmental Working Groups cosmetic safety database.

Diagnosing a Doctor
At the American Medical Association, treat yourself to a doctor who’s good for you.

Turning a house into my home

It may have been a creepy old house stuck in a time warp, but Amber and her mom decided that this would be the one for them. Amber and her boyfriend Michael were ready to move in together, but the young couple were entrepreneurs living in L.A., where real estate is hard to come by and expensive to purchase.

So Sandy, Amber’s mom, decided to step in.

“It was a way for me to help Amber get started in her adult life,” she said.

Amber and Sandy were initially very focused on the business aspect of buying the house, but then the nervousness of being a first time home owner set-in, along with the all the responsibilities of buying a fixer-upper.

“It all hit me at once, all the work we had to do, the fact that it was the first house that Amber was ever going to pay a mortgage on and the fact that Michael was moving in with her,” Sandy said. “There were a number of different issues going on all at one time. I was also apprehensive because it was obviously going to take a lot of money and a lot of work. There were times when the project seemed larger than us.”

Amber really appreciated doing this project with her mom because, “I got to see the strong woman I came from.”

They planted trees and dug holes together; it was a great bonding time for them as mother and daughter.

“There were a lot of style details involved, and that was probably the hardest part,” Amber said. “There were the colors, the tiles, the furniture, how we should design the kitchen.”

When it was all over, Amber and Sandy sat down on the new brown and gold shag carpet and had a glass of wine. It was time to celebrate. They were in love with the simple, zen-like feeling that pervaded their new home. The style will certainly evolve over time, but now it’s starting to feel like a home—like Amber’s home.

If you’ve got a do-it-herself mentality, try these handy resources for inspiration and tips:

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.

Keep it Thrifty
A journalist/suburban mom dishes on cheap and easy ways to brighten up that place you call home.

Listen to the Tube
Visit HGTV’s remodeling hub for information and advice on how to do almost anything yourself.

Neat or Not?
HGTV organizing guide will help you control your clutter, once and for all.

So Cute-able!
An eclectic collection of modern daily finds for your home or office, including kitchenware, home accents and the most interesting stationary around.