Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neil Diamond Melody Road Album [Review]

Music is a big part of my life. I love listening to music while I am cooking or working around the house, while driving in the car, and while running, among many other times. Though I do have my favorite artists and songs, I always love to discover new artists and songs. Neil Diamond is a classic artists that has had many hits throughout his lifetime. His new album, Melody Road, mirrors his classic hits while weaving in modern aspects.

Neil Diamond can still sing! The songs in his new album bring me back to his old classics with his distinctive voice and melodies. The songs also have a little bit of a modern feel to them. I seldom listen to the radio because I feel like most new songs today just are not that good anymore. The songs part of Melody Road album are easy to listen to and make me want to listen to them.

Melody Road Album Tracklist:
1. Melody Road
2. First Time
3. Seongah and Jimmy
4. Something Blue
5. Nothing But a Heartache
6. In Better Days
7. Ooo Do I Wanna Be Yours
8. Alone at the Ball
9. Sunny Disposition
10. Marry Me Now
11. The Art of Love
12. Melody Road (Reprise)

My favorite songs are Something Blue and In Better Days. These songs, and some others, remind me of good times and experiences. I can see myself listening to this album in the car because the songs are easy to listen to.




Melody Road album can be pre-ordered/ordered on iTunes and on Amazon.

Disclosure: I participated in the Neil Diamond Melody Road album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Best Stroller Organizer [Review]


Stroller organizers are a required accessory for any stroller. Stroller organizers provide a place to hold drinks, keys, phones, wallets, etc. Anything small that you want to have quick access to can be placed at your fingertips. Stroller organizers that strap to the handlebar or handles stay out of the way. Pure Bliss Stroller Organizer has been designed specifically to address problems with drinks spilling and will attach to most strollers.

Best Stroller Organizer     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Thick fabric and strong velcro
Open drinks sloshed and spilled
Collapsible design
Cup holders didn't fit wider drink containers
Fits most strollers (13-21" wide handles)




Let's talk about stroller organizers! They are an absolute necessity for any stroller and any parents. We started off with one stroller and one stroller organizer. Several months later, we added a jogging stroller. We skipped getting another stroller organizer because we thought we would move the one stroller organizer we had between the two strollers. Boy, we were wrong! After a couple of weeks and constantly asking each other for the stroller organizer, we realized that each stroller needed its own stroller organizer.

The first thing I noticed about the Pure Bill stroller organizer was the high quality fabric. The fabric is very thick. The velcro tabs are made with the same thick fabric and strong velcro. I feel confident that the stroller organizer will not fall off, even with big and full drinks in both cups. I like to load up my stroller organizers, so it is very important that the velcro is strong enough.

The stroller organizer perfectly fit both the Britax B-Agile stroller and the BOB Revolution stroller perfectly. The stroller organizer is collapsible. This feature helps when you fold the stroller to put in the trunk. I like that I can keep the stroller organizer on the stroller.

The stroller organizer has two cup holders. These holders are designed to keep drinks in place and prevent sloshing and spilling. Though the cup holders have been specifically designed to limit spilling, I found that drinks that were full and had an opening still spilled out. Obviously, if you are walking around the mall with smooth floors, you probably won't spill much. However, walking down the street will result in some drink spillage. I try to keep drinks covered when in the cup holders. The cup holders are also double insulated.

I would like to note that the cup holders are a bit smaller than my other stroller organizer. Wider drink containers were hard to get into the cup holder. My stainless steel water bottle with a neoprene cover was so tight in the cup holder that it was hard to get it in and out.

I love the outer mesh pockets for storing my cell phone. The middle compartment with magnetic closer is great for holding my wallet and keys. I prefer to keep my wallet and keys inside so they are not visible to others.

Pure Bliss Stroller organizer has great features that make it a required baby accessory for any parents or child caregiver.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Eco at Heart Stainless Steel Straws [Review]


As I continue toward my goal is reducing the amount of plastic that our family uses, I am pleased to see that companies are also striving toward this goal. With more options for glass and stainless steel containers and accessories, we are slowly replacing plastic items in our house. Eco at Heart stainless steel straws are an affordable and reusable alternative to plastic straws.

Stainless Steel Straws       ($14.97)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
18/8 grade stainless steel

3/8" extra wide size (good for smoothies)

Includes a cleaning brush

Odorless and tasteless


Eco at Heart stainless steel straws come in a pack of 5 straws with one cleaning brush. The straws are 8.5" long, 3/8" wide, 18/8 grade stainless steel, highly polished, and perfectly strait. The length and width of these straws makes them perfect for drinking smoothies or other thick drinks. The straws can be stored in the freezer to keep cold smoothies cold. Though I recommend being careful with hot beverages as the stainless steel straw will get very hot and you could burn your fingers and lips/mouth.

The stainless steel straws can also be safely washed in the dishwasher without worrying about chemicals leaching out. Although most plastic today are "dishwasher safe," it does not necessary mean that you should wash them in the dishwasher. Hot water and heat will promote leaching of chemicals out of plastic. Stainless steel is a great reusable and non-toxic alternative to plastic straws.

I have enjoyed using these straws for smoothies and milkshakes. I like that I can wash them in the dishwasher. I am very careful and only wash glass and stainless steel in the dishwasher. My 18 month old toddler drinks from a sippy cup that has a straw inside, but I would wait to introduce him to these straws because there are wider around. I am afraid that he would take it too much water in one suck. Once he is older, I plan on introducing him to these stainless steel straws.

If you are looking for an alternative to throwing away plastic straws or washing flimsy plastic straws, looks to stainless steel. Eco at Heart stainless steel straws are perfect for kids because they will not break if dropped.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


Monday, September 29, 2014

TheraVita Organic Coconut Oil [Review]


When I realized how much I use and love coconut oil, I started stocking up on it. From cooking, to baking, to body moisturizer, coconut oil is a necessary staple in my house. Just doing a quick search on the benefits of coconut oil brings back a large number of results. My most recent favorite use of coconut oil is for baking. While most oils are too heavy for most baked goods, coconut oil adds a lightness and sweetness. TheraVita Paradise Organic Coconut Oil is pure, cold-pressed and extra virgin.


Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil       ($19.95, 16 oz)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Texture
Has a smoky taste and smell
Cold-pressed
Comes in a plastic jar (recyclable)





TheraVita Paradise Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is 100% pure. The ingredients label states no ingredients other than the coconut oil itself. The coconut oil is cold-pressed. Coconut are hand-picked by local farmers in Fiji. The coconut oil is unrefined, non-bleached, non-deodorized with hexane or solvents and is chemical-free. The coconut oil has an off-white color to it.

The product arrived packaged in plastic wrap. Once I removed the plastic and opened the lid, I noticed that the inner seal was broken and the coconut oil was liquid. Since the seal was broken, some coconut oil got on the outside of the plastic jar. It was a slightly warm day outside, so maybe it had reached the melting point on the delivery truck. Once it cooled below 76 F degrees, it solidified, as expected for coconut oil.

Since the coconut oil is not deodorized, I expected a fresh coconut smell as I have experienced with other high quality, pure, organic coconut oil brands. TheraVita's Paradise Organic Coconut Oil has a slightly smoky smell to it. I did some research online and read that coconuts could be roasted or smoked prior to the coconut oil being extracted, even through cold-pressing. I contacted the company representative to get more information about their manufacturing process. I will update this post once I received more information.

I received a second jar of the same coconut oil to see if it also had the smoky smell. The second jar did. I am not sure if both jars are from the same batch or not.

From what I read, it sounds like the smokiness is a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Some Amazon reviewers mentioned a rancid smell. I did not find the smell to be rancid. Some Amazon reviews stated that the taste/smell of the coconut was strong. My jar did not smell like coconut at all, just smoky.

I have been using the coconut oil for cooking, baking, and facial moisturizing. When the oil is heating up in a pan, it does give off the smoky smell a bit. If I cooked an egg in the coconut oil, the egg smelled smoky. If I cooked a lot of food in a big pan, then the smokiness did not come through.

When I used the coconut oil to moisturize my face, I could smell the smoky smell for a little while and then it either went away or I became used to it. Since I am pretty sensitive to scents, the smoky smell was a bit off-putting for me. Since I do not believe that my jars of coconut oil are rancid, I will probably continue using TheraVita Organic Coconut Oil mostly for baking and some for stove top cooking where I cannot taste the smokiness in the final meal.

The texture of TheraVita Paradise Organic Coconut Oil is as expected for coconut oil, though the smoky smell and taste are unexpected. After using several other brands of high quality oil for 3 years and after using TheraVita's Coconut Oil for one month, I cannot recommend TheraVita Paradise Organic Coconut Oil due to the smoky smell and taste that permeates food.

I appreciate the initial willingness of the company representative to send me another jar of the coconut oil and obtain more information about the manufacturing method to potentially explain the smoky smell.


Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Lemon Tea Tree All-Purpose Cleaner [Review]

When I first began on the natural and eco-friendly path, Tea Tree Oil was my first purchase. Tea Tree Oil is one of those essential oils that you hear a lot about because of its many uses. Initially, I bought Tea Tree Oil to make my own cleaning products. Since then, I have been using Tea Tree Oil for other uses like laundry and homemade toothpaste. Apothecary Extracts Australian Tea Tree Oil is tested to be pure and potent.

Tea Tree Oil        ($24.99, 4oz)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Pure and potent

Chromatography tested

Effective




Apothecary Extracts Australian Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) comes in a 4 ounce bottle, which will last you over one year with regular use. The value of essential oils is that a little goes a long way. For example, to make a bottle of homemade all-purpose cleaner, you need 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil. I also started adding about 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil to really smelly (moldy) laundry and stinky (ammonia) cloth diapers. The cost of pure and potent essential oils might seem high, but the point that you only need a little at a time and that you will be using the product for a long time are two points that support the investment.

Let's talk a little bit more about the purity of Australian Tea Tree Oil. The purity of essential oils is a current debate in the world of essential oils. Apothecary Extracts tests to prove the purity and potency of their Australian Tea Tree Oil.

The Australian standards require that the oil of Melaleuca alternifolia must be composed of less than 15 cineole and over 30 terpinen-4-ol. The Gas Chromatography reports show that Apothecary Extracts Tea Tree Oil is not only compliant with these regulations, but surpasses them. Apothecary Extracts is composed of less than 5 cineole and over 35 terpinen-4-ol which qualifies for Pharmaceutical Grade as established by the Australian Tea Tree Oil Industry Association. It is 100% pure. No fillers, additives, bases or carriers added.

A lot of companies that offer cheaper essential oils will dilute them to reduce the cost. Remember that you are paying for what you get. Cheaper is not always better. You will use up diluted oils fasted and will have to repurchase on a more frequent basis.

Tea Tree Oil is a great essential oil to have in your cabinet and is a great first investment essential oil. Here is some information about Apothecary Extracts Australian Tea Tree Oil.

Package: Packaged in dark amber glass bottle with euro style dropper.
Botanical Name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Plant Part: Leaves
Extraction Method: Steam Distilled
Origin: Australia
Color: Colorless to pale yellow clear liquid.
Aromatic Scent: Tee Tree Essential Oil has a fresh, antiseptic and medicinal scent. It also has characteristic mint and spice back-notes.
Strength of Aroma: Medium
Blends well with: Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Rosewood, Rosemary and Thyme.

Tea Tree Oil has strong antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiprotozoal effects. Here are some of the most common uses for Tee Tree Oil:

  • Household cleaning (disinfecting)
  • Skin care (antiseptic)
  • Hair care (antiseptic)
  • Aromatherapy (lowers stress levels)
  • Medicinal (antibacterial, inhalation, wound treatment)

One of my favorite uses of Tea Tree Oil is to make my Lemon Tea Tree All-Purpose Cleaner.

Lemon Tea Tree All-Purpose Cleaner

Ingredients
1 cup of water
1 cup of vinegar
4 tbsp lemon juice
30 drops of Australian Tea Tree Oil

Directions: Mix together in a spray bottle, shake and use. Shake before each use.

Disclaimer: Tea Tree Oil can be a skin irritant. Avoid getting Tea Tree Oil on your hands/eyes/mouth/etc. and avoid spraying the cleaner near or into face.

Tea Tree Oil is not only effective as an ingredient in cleaning and body products, but also has strong medicinal properties. I read that for centuries, Australian Aborigines have been inhaling Tea Tree Oil to treat the common cold. I will try this when I am sick next time. The purity and potency of Apothecary Extracts Australian Tea Tree Oil is evident as soon as you open the bottle and take a whiff.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Information about the product and its uses was obtain from the company website. I am not a medical professional. These statement have not been evaluated by the FDA. All opinions are my own.


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