Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homegrown Collective October 2013 Subscription Box Review

This is my second box from Homegrown Collective and I am completely smitten! Without a doubt this is the most perfect subscription box for those of us who are on this amazing journey to living a natural and eco-friendly lifestyle.  In fact, they even state on their website that you will, "Receive seasonally appropriate, professionally curated  products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient & sustainable lifestyle to your doorstep each month."  I can tell you they definitely have delivered! After my very first box, I completely changed the products I use to do my laundry.  Is that not life changing, then I don't know what is! 

Since this is a subscription service you will sign up to have a new box delivered to your door every month, and you can cancel at any time.  The cost is $39/month + $9.00 shipping.  It is a bit pricey but I have found it to be well worth the cost.  In just two months I've learned some really invaluable techniques which I probably would have never learned if I hadn't received a kit with all the tools & instructions in which to complete it all spelled out for me.  If you can't tell, I am really excited about this company and their boxes!!!  

This month's theme was "Preserving & Preparing the Harvest Feast"  As you might guess, the big project in the box was canning.  Now I have always wanted to learn how to can foods but, to be completely honest, I was really intimidated by it so I never ever tried it before.  All the tools/ingredients you need were included with the box, except for the pot to heat everything in. The instructions were step by step and super easy to follow.  In fact, I was extremely surprised with just how easy the whole process really was.  It probably took a little over an hour from start to finish, and I ended up with some wonderful cranberry chutney which is going to be wonderful on top of my turkey this Thanksgiving! 

A second little project was also included in this month's box.  It was to make your own candle inside of  gourd.  Yes, a gourd.  This was the most adorably sweet little candle I have ever seen, let alone made myself.  I will tell you, we had to pull out a handsaw to get the gourd open.  It is a tough little bugger! A knife just wasn't powerful enough.  Besides that, this project was a piece of cake. You simply scoop out the insides, melt your wax, place your wick, pour it inside the hollowed out gourd and let it sit.  Viola! 

I can't wait to see what's store for my November box!!! 


Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Tips for Eating Organic on Vacation

My husband and I recently got back from a trip to Sedona, Arizona with a side trip to the Grand Canyon (as seen in the photo above).  It was truly a gorgeous place.  The landscapes alone will blow your mind! We had a lot of fun exploring and taking in all the sights.  Along with all the touristy stuff, we also enjoy eating out while on vacations. Who doesn't, right?  It's always something I look forward to, however this time around my husband and I soon learned that trying to stick to only eating organic while on vacation is pretty darn tough.  I don't always eat organic.  I know I should, but I'll be honest and tell you I've managed to be about an 80% organic eater. However my husband is now a 100% organic eater so we are extremely mindful of this when traveling.  While we can't just walk into a random restaurant off the street anymore, eating organic isn't impossible, and I've got a few tips to share to make eating organic while traveling a little less stressful.  (These will also be helpful tips for anyone vacationing with dietary restrictions, for instance gluten free eaters.)

Tip #1:  Do your research before leaving for your destination.  Plan, plan, plan.  I can't stress this enough.  It is my #1 tip for a reason.  If you don't already know the places you can go to get organic foods, you'll spend way more time then you should trying to find them while on your relaxing vacation.  Buy a cute little notebook that will fit in your purse and write down the names and addresses of every place you find not only near your hotel but near the different attractions you plan on checking out.  This way you have it handy and have no excuses to stray off your dietary path! (It's sooo easy to do this on vacations when we tend to think we are on a vacation for everything in our lives.)

Tip #2:  Don't expect to eat out all the time on vacation.  In other words, get a hotel room with a mini fridge and make a trip to the organic section of the local grocery store.  It's not hard to make salads or wraps in the comfort of a hotel room.  It's also a lot cheaper then eating out all the time!  As my husband says, "An apple is the perfect fast food!"  He is so right.  It is the perfect snack to munch on when you're on the go.  It's portable and full of lots of body-craving nutrition! 

Tip #3:  There are a lot of great, useful resources available to help you out, so use them!  A couple of great websites we used for our last trip, which are also available as apps for your phone, were:
*Happy Cow - The Happy Cow website will let you search for vegan, vegetarian, veg-friendly and health food stores in cities around the world.  If you can first find some of the vegetarian restaurants you are more then usually on the right path to finding organic places to eat.  (Not all vegetarian places offer organic foods, so you still have to do a bit more digging.  The restaurants website should tell you.  I find that, most of the time, if they offer organic foods, they are very proud of it and will promote the fact.)
*UrbanSpoon - This site actually lists "organic" as a type of cuisine you can specify for when doing your searches.  It is really handy website and I've had really good luck with it.  I use this app the most when doing searches with my phone.

Tip #4:  Once you get to your destination, talk to the locals.  Don't be shy!  They may know of some other great organic places to try that you might have missed in your research because they are new or just an off the beaten path kind of place. 

Tip #5:  Look for eco-friendly hotels to stay in.  There are more and more eco-friendly hotels & resorts popping up worldwide.  These are perfect options for people who are focused on green living.  Hopefully their staff will also be knowledgeable in organic eateries nearby, too!

I hope these tips will help you in planning for your next trip.  I'd love to hear how you plan your meals when on vacation, whether you're focus is organic foods like us or have other dietary restrictions.