Thursday, September 26, 2013

Seasons Box Review (August): An Eco-Friendly Monthly Subscription Box

Today I received my August Seasons Box. You're more than likely thinking...."It's the end of September and she's only now getting her August box!  What the..?"  Well, as I understand it there was a change in ownership and as with any kind of big change sometimes things like this can happen while the kinks are all being worked out.  It doesn't bother me at all, in fact I am really excited to see all the goodies the new owners have in store for their members every month! 

General Seasons Box information:

*Cost:  $34.90 per month.  You have the choice to either order a single box or opt for the monthly automatic service.  I really love companies that offer their customers the opportunity to make a one box purchase.  Many subscription box services only offer the automatic monthly purchase, so if you want to try just one you have to go through all that hassle to cancel before getting charged again the following month.

*Products:  Every month you are guaranteed  3-5 FULL SIZE products that are eco-friendly and tailored to the mind, body and home.  I can't emphasize how amazing it is that you get full size products.  I've tried quite a few different subscription box companies over the last few years and so many of them stuff your box full of all sorts of itty bitty samples.  I'm not knocking samples sizes by any means.  It is a great way to try a lot of different products.  The problem is I also started to notice the same products were showing up over and over again in my boxes.  I would much rather have 3-5 full size, hand picked, quality products every month.  I feel like I am getting the most out of my money this way!

August Seasons Box Products: 

*Theme:  "Get In Touch With Nature"

*Tiki Lotion Bar (1oz): $8  Vegan lotion bar with ingredients like green tea butter, wintergreen & spearmint essential oils.  This product smells good enough to eat although I wouldn't recommend it. I really like the container and size of this product too.  I'm always looking for a great lotion to take with me on the go that doesn't take up a lot of space inside my purse.  This will be perfect! 
The lotion itself goes on smoothly, in a light layer and doesn't feel greasy on your skin. 

* Puur Mist (4oz):  $8 These are handmade products and can be found on Puur Body's Etsy store.   The ingredients are: apricot kernel oil, isoproyl miristate, fragrance essential oils.  Right away, my eye zeroed into the isopropyl miristate.  The name itself, doesn't exactly sound natural to me so I had to look it up.  In my research I found: 1. It is actually spelled myristate.  2. It's a synthetic oil which helps the skin absorb products more readily, and 3. On all the websites I checked out, it is considered safe to use and is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.  A couple other things I learned is it can also be very drying on the skin and is not recommended for acne prone skin.  My skin is already dry and is acne prone so this is probably something I wouldn't use on myself.  The website is worth checking out because there were many other products I would have enjoyed trying out, like a shea butter shampoo bar which looked wonderfully intriguing!  I'm always looking for a great natural shampoo to try. 

*Eat Green Tea (100 grams):  $25  Certified organic edible green tea leaves.  The company also tests the product for heavy metals which can commonly be found in soil.  I was very intrigued by this product.  Just 1 TBSP = 30 cups of brewed tea (I really limit my caffeine intake, but after reading the website I was relieved to find out that the caffeine content does not equate to 30 cups of green tea. You'll be getting the equivalent of only one cup of green tea per serving.  Thank goodness for that!).  I will more then likely try this out in my morning smoothies!

    *Vapur Anti Bottles Two Pack (0.4 Liters/ bottle): $11  BPA free.  These bottles are very portable, will flatten when empty and can be rolled for folded up for easy storage when not in use.  When full of liquid, these bottles are designed to stand up.  How cool and fun is that!!! 

August Seasons Box Total Cost:  $52

August Season Box Review: 
My favorite product in this box is the Tiki Lotion Bar.  I am also excited to check out the Eat Green Tea product.  It isn't something I would have probably ever bought on my own, which is one of the reasons I love subscription box services like Seasons Box.  It is such a fantastic and fun way to discover new products.  I love the plastic Vapur bottles.  They could come in handy while out on a walk or even just working out in the yard. The only product I personally won't be using is the Puur Body Mist because of my skin type.  It may work for one of my friends though!

What are your thoughts on the August Seasons Box?  Are there any other great eco-friendly services I need to check out?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Way to go Chipotle: Raising awareness of our food supply (commercial)

A wonderful commercial by the Mexican fast food chain, Chipotle, popped up on my Facebook newsfeed tonight.  It really moved me and here's why.   First,  I have to tell you I absolutely love the song choice!   Ever since I was a child watching Gene Wilder sing it in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, it has always resonated with me.  Secondly (and most importantly), the majority of us are blissfully unaware of what we are eating on a day to day basis. Thankfully, slowly but surely the word is starting to get out and spread.  You wouldn't have even heard of the term GMO, five years ago and suddenly I see it everywhere. This is good, we need to open our eyes to this kind of thing and reclaim our food back!!!   I hope this short little "cartoon" will resonate with people and stir people to really start thinking about what exactly we are putting into our mouths on a daily basis.  Is it really, truly actually food?  Third, I love that a popular fast food chain is out there trying to make a difference, by raising awareness and making changes to their own menu.

Please watch the video and share it with your friends and family if it moves you like it did me!  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant Review

One of the most frustrating products I've found to convert over to is a natural deodorant.  The main reason for this is simple, I don't like a sweaty armpit.  Natural Deodorant products are designed for eliminating odor, not sweat.  It's the aluminum found in mainstream deodorants which acts as an antiperspirant to eliminate wetness.  Aluminum, a metal, is toxic to the body and has been linked to conditions like Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer.  Of course I don't want either of these things, but as much as I want to avoid this ingredient, I still struggle.  Sure, its natural to sweat.  Sweating helps detox and cool down our bodies. I get that. Maybe it is vain of me, but I just don't want sweaty pits ruining my all my outfits not to mention sweat stains are also extremely embarrassing. 

I've still been very hopeful something will come along which will not only keep the odor away, but will also help keep the sweat in check :)  I learned about Schmidt's Natural Deodorant when it popped up in my twitter feed one day about a month ago from a blog I recently began following, Organic Beauty Talk.  What intrigued me to immediately add this product into my shopping cart, was this statement taken directly from Schmidt's Natural Deodorant's site:  "Our formula effectively neutralizes underarm odor and absorbs wetness without the use of aluminum or other harmful chemicals."  Could this really be true??? Could it really help with wetness??  I couldn't wait to try it and find out.

Schmidt's Handcrafted Organic Deodorant - Bergamot & Lime (2oz) $11.99
~Amazon Affiliate link

* Ingredients: Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Maranta  arundinacea (arrowroot) powder, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter,
Citrus bergamia (bergamot) essential oil, Citrus aurantifolia (lime) essential                         oil, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Humulus lupulus (hop) extract

My review:
  • Packaging: I love the little jar it comes in.  It's simple yet adorably chic.  It even comes with a little spatula to help scoop the deodorant out of the jar.  You can use your fingers but when I do that I get deodorant underneath my fingernails, so I prefer using the provided spatula. 
  • Texture & Application:  The deodorant is kind of a flaky, semi-solid cream.  It warms up when you begin rubbing it into your skin becoming very soft and pliable.  A pea sized amount sufficiently covers the entire area.  It absorbs right in and won't leave you feeling greasy or slimy or anything like that. 
  • Scent & Odor Protection: In the jar and for about an hour after application, it has a very pleasant, lime scent.  After wearing for about an hour, the lime scent disappears, leaving more of a fresh, very light, almost piney scent.  It still smells feminine though and I really like it.  I think the best part is it keeps the odor away, lasting all day and even overnight.  
  • Wetness Protection:  The baking soda and arrowroot powder are what is added to help with controlling wetness. 
  • Extra Bonus: Made in the USA in Portland, OR.  I love buying USA made products!
I am very thrilled with how well this product has worked for me. I've been wearing this now for a month now and have been very impressed. I've still had a few sweaty moments especially when I've been stressed out and even aluminum based deodorants do nothing for me in those moments. The product doesn't rub off on your clothing and you won't get all those little white flakes caking all over your underarms.  Odor control is fantastic. This deodorant held strong through a college football game I attended with temps in the 90's and 100% humidity, so I'd say it works!!!  I am super excited about this natural deodorant.  I can finally toss out another yucky, toxic product from my bathroom shelf!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

My husband recently sent me an email titled "Almond Breeze is Crap".  For those of you who don't know, Almond Breeze is a widely stocked brand of Almond Milk in most grocery stores.  It's the brand I have been drinking for years now.  The reason for my husbands harsh words were due a blog he had read about an ingredient called carrageenan.  Now to be fair, Almond Breeze is not the only company who uses this ingredient.  There are in fact a lot of "crappy" almond milks out there.  It is found in all of the brands available at my local grocery stores.  You'll find it in the coconut and soy milks too.  Interesting side note:  This morning while brushing my teeth, I decided to check out the ingredients on my Tom's of Maine Fluoride-free toothpaste and guess what I found?  Yes, carrageenan is in that as well.  I suppose my next project is to find a new toothpaste or make my own.

Carrageenan is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, or Irish moss. The carrageenan found in your processed foods is in an un-degraded form and is chemically processed.  It has no nutritional value and is primarily used as a binder and thickening agent to improve texture in foods like ice cream, yogurt, almond milks, coconut milks, etc...   When researching carrageenan on the internet, you'll find both the pro and cons as to whether or not this ingredient is thought to be "good" for us to consume.  The key arguments for the cons were what spoke to me, and in particular the research studies on laboratory mice which have shown this type of carrageenan to be linked to malignancies, inflammation of the GI tract, glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action among other things.  Since a properly working digestive system is my primary health goal, the inflammation of the GI tract findings really worries me, enough to immediately make a dietary change.  There is a lot of nasty stuff out there in our foods and beauty products.  It is sure hard to avoid them all, but I am always happy when I become more aware of them.  Knowing more about carrageenan can only help me make better informed choices for myself.  Since I drink almond milk every morning, I know making my own is a surefire way to help me avoid this nasty ingredient in my daily morning drink!   

PLEASE NOTE:  This is only a very short synopsis of my own internet research findings, but the blog post my husband sent me which inspired me to dig a bit deeper and then make a change can be found on the blog Higher Purpose Living.  Please read it, as it has really great and detailed information about Carrageenan. 

Homemade Almond Milk:

Making my own almond milk has always intrigued me, but after learning about carrageenan and not liking what I was learning, I was immediately spurred into action.  Thankfully, I already had all the necessary ingredients on hand or I would have been making a late night run to the store!

The best thing about making almond milk is it's not hard to do.  The most time consuming part is soaking your almonds.  You'll want to make sure and soak them overnight for optimal results.  The worst thing about making almond milk is there are a few pieces of essential equipment you'll also need:
1. a high powered blender, and
2. a nut milk strainer bag.  I tend to do a lot of my on-line shopping at Amazon, where there are a variety of options for $6-8. 

Once your almonds are sufficiently soaked and rinsed off well, toss them in a blender.  Add 3-4 cups water, sweetener (i.e. dates) and anything else you may want, like vanilla or cinnamon.  Blend at high speed.  Transfer to your nut milk bag and strain into a large bowl.  That's it, you're all done.  It is so easy to make and tastes so much more fresh and delicious then the store bought variety that you won't want to go back to store bought anymore, carrageenan or not, anyway, which is kind of the point.  Right?  :)

You can find the full recipe with step by step directions at Oh She Glows.  Enjoy!!!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

My journey to living a natural & organic lifestyle

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog about natural & organic topics for a few months now.  I think it's best to start with why my husband and I have been moving towards a natural & organic lifestyle.  Our biggest influence has been my husband's chronic health problems.  He has been struggling for over 10 years now with a variety of symptoms.  We've been to a countless number of Doctor's all across the US who were, quite frankly, of little to no help.  They couldn't offer any kind of definitive diagnosis for why he was feeling so awful.  What they did offer was pain pills, antibiotics, sleeping pills, and more to help "manage" his symptoms, all the while my husband felt worse and worse.  Our frustrations were obviously mounting.  We were going in the wrong direction, he is supposed to be getting better, not worse and we wanted answers. My husband began doing his own research. (Thank God for the internet!!!)  Through his research, he's changed his whole way of thinking about health, starting with his diet.  He is now eating a raw, vegan diet.  I am not, LOL, however I have dramatically changed my eating habits and am noticing very positive changes to my own health. We've even changed our dogs food. (Yup, no more Kibble for us!)

This journey hasn't only been one of changing our diets, we have become more conscious of all the nasty chemicals we've been using on our bodies, inside our household and on our lawn.  We're not perfect, I'd never even dream of claiming that.  I don't always eat organic (gasp!).  I still pop a bleach tablet in my toilet tank to help keep the ring around the toilet bowl away.  If anyone has a good option for this please let me know!  I guess what I'm trying to say is the journey is a gradual one.  My husband and I are constantly learning, constantly discovering new products to try out, and always working towards a better sense of health and wellness for the both of us.  While my husband is still not well, he is noticing small changes for the better, and we can both sense he is now, finally, on the right road to recovery.  Yippee!!!!

My goal for this blog is to share ideas, recipes, product reviews, natural remedies and what-not,  Most importantly, I need help, and I hope to learn from others who are also interested in a natural & organic lifestyle.