Thursday, April 24, 2014

Organic Vegan All Natural Deodorant [Review]

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I eat a pretty clean diet, consistent mostly of organic foods, home cooked meals, and very little (organic) processed foods. There are the occasional meals at restaurants, but for the most part, I do not eat synthetic ingredients, additives or preservatives. Still, I battle underarm stink. I stopped using standard drug store deodorant/antiperspirant brands a few years ago and made the switch to all natural deodorants. Simple ingredients paired with essential oils can keep underarm stink at bay. North Coast Organics creates handmade, vegan, USDA Certified Organic deodorants that are effective.

USDA Certified Organic Deodorants        ($8.99)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
USDA Certified Organic

Natural ingredients

Great scents


I received a 3 pack of travel size deodorants (0.35 fl oz each): Death by Lavender, Naked and Revolver. This is a great package to order to decide which scent works better with your body's chemistry and which scent you prefer. The 3 pack of travel size deodorants is very cost effective. The travel sizes will be great to keep in the diaper bag and in my purse.

Before I get into the details of how the deodorants worked for me, let's talk about natural deodorants. Natural deodorants are just that, they deodorize by neutralizing the pH that causes bad (stinky) bacteria to grow with ingredients such as baking soda and/or arrowroot powder and help to cover up the bad (stinky) bacteria with natural scents such as essential oils. Natural deodorants do not stop your body from perspiring, so you will still experience wetness. However, wetness is not a bad thing. Thought wet under arms are not socially acceptable, I really worry about the bacteria that causes the stinky smell.

North Coast Organics makes products that are USDA Certified Organic, vegan and cruelty free and labels that are made from tree free/fair trade certified paper. I like that North Coast Organics offers products that are naturally scented and products that are unscented (Naked) for those who just do not prefer a scent. The Naked deodorant still has a slightly sweet smell from the coconut oil, but it was not noticeable when applied to the under arms.

I started off with the Revolver deodorant. If you think this scent is only geared toward men, think not! As a woman, I loved the smell of Revolver. Lavender (Death by Lavender) is always a favorite of mine, but Revolver has something new and exciting to offer also! Revolver is scented with Atlas Cedar, Mediterranean Cypress and Clary Sage. The smell is a little woodsy, but the combination smells really good.

Now, onto the results. I applied Revolver deodorant 3 times throughout the day. I reapplied the third time because I took a shower after my run. Usually, by the end of the day, after running around after a one year old inside the house and walking with him in the yard, I sweat and start to smell. After my husband comes home from work, one of the first things he usually says to me is that I need to deodorize. I get stinky! I was pleasantly surprised that I did not experience bad odor throughout the day. Revolver kept my stink away.

Organic ingredients, clever scents and easy application make North Coast Organics organic, vegan deodorants my new favorite body product.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Surpahs Bamboo Cutting Board [Review]

I remember the days of plastic cutting boards. I still have the different colored, thin, flimsy ones in the cabinet. I do not keep them for cutting foods, I keep them to use as place mats for messy foods. Wooden cutting boards have been a favorite of mine for quite some time. There is something about a nicely weighted wooden cutting board that makes me feel like a real cook. Bamboo cutting boards are a good take on traditional cutting boards because they absorb less moisture, are durable and long lasting, and warp. Surpahs bamboo cutting boards are constructed of high quality eco-friendly bamboo in 3-layer overlapping joints of solid wood to ensure no warping, cracking or splitting.

Surpahs Arc Juice Groove Bamboo Cutting Board        ($24.59)
Surpahs 3 Piece Set Bamboo Cutting Boards                 ($19.48)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Eco-friendly, renewal resource
Bamboo "hairs" come off during washing
Cracked/split on the ends
Low moisture absorbency

Surpahs Arc Juice Groove Bamboo Cutting Board has been used frequently in my kitchen. I like a bit cutting board to cut vegetables on or to roll out dough for scones. This cutting board is sized 17" x 11". Either side can be used. I have been using the size without the grooves to roll out dough. This side has edges that angle down. The grooved side would be great for cutting oranges or roasted chicken, which both could release a lot of juice. I like the ability to use either side. I have liked using the cutting board for different purposes. The knife does not get stuck in the wood and I can quickly chop vegetables for a meal.

Surpahs 3-Layer Overlapping Joins Bamboo Cutting Boards come in three different sizes: 8", 11", 13". I like the ability to use a smaller or bigger board depending on what I need cut (cheese, fruit, vegetables, etc.). These are a little bit thinner than the Arc Juice Groove Bamboo Cutting Board. The thinness helps to prevent cracking and splitting.

The construction of Surpahs wooden cutting boards (3-layers of overlapping joints) help to ensure no warping, cracking or splitting. Wooden cutting boards will split over time from moisture, whether you leave them in the kitchen sink or not. I always place any wooden cutting board on the counter by the sink to prevent this from happening. I did notice that after a few uses and washes of the Surpahs Arc Juice Groove Bamboo Cutting Board, the bamboo wood split on the side in the middle. There was also a crack on one of the edges, though this could have been due to where the wood was cut.

Washing the bamboo cutting boards with a natural soap and a soft bristled brush released little bamboo "hairs." If I use the cutting board afterwards, then the "hairs" get into my food. This makes me leery about using the cutting boards. I might try washing the bamboo cutting board by hand to see if less "hairs" come off.

Surpahs Bamboo Cutting Boards are constructed of high quality eco-friendly bamboo in 3-layer overlapping joints of solid wood. Though cracking and splitting still did occur because of the nature of a natural wooden product. I have enjoyed using the cutting boards and will continue to use them, but I would not purchase these again.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above at no cost to facilitate this review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why We Don't Take the Bus [#CTWW]

This week's challenge:

This week, for at least one day, leave your car parked. Instead, walk or ride a bike.

OR ...

If you don't drive or can't do without your car, please choose other actions designed to reduce air pollution. Need some ideas? Avoid power tools (such as lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, etc.) and use manual tools instead. Stop smoking! Choose water-based products (paints, solvents, etc.) instead of products which contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Avoid commercial indoor air fresheners. Drive smart (accelerate slowly, turn off the engine if the car is stopped for more than 30 seconds, combine errands for one trip, etc.). Reduce energy use (much of the world's energy is derived in ways which pollute ... think smoke stacks). Add house plants to your home. Plant a tree. Use natural, safe cleansers. Buy locally produced items (reduces transport pollution).

The first thing I thought of when I read this week's challenge was taking the bus. Taking the bus is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. While taking the bus to work is often thought of as a cheaper alternative than driving your car, most people do not ride the bus to be environmentally friendly. In our culture, riding the bus carries the stigma that one cannot afford a car. Maybe someone who earns a low income or someone who does not have a job at all. Riding the bus (for purposes other than work) has a negative connotation attached to it.

When I worked in the corporate world, people would talk about taking the bus to/from work and how much money it was saving them. Never once did I hear about someone taking the bus to the grocery store or to the post office. And never once did I think about taking the bus to Whole Foods. I even despised taking the express bus to work when my husband and I would travel and he would pick me up on the way out of town. Something about having to play by someone else's schedule...

Why wouldn't one take the bus to locations other than work? 

First, it would take a lot longer to take the bus to the grocery store than to drive there. While work routes are usually express routes, regular city routes have many more stops. Maybe people would choose to drive over the bus because it would take longer. Though if you live closer to a grocery store, it might not take too much longer. Whole Foods Market is a 12-15 minute drive from my house. Taking the bus would end up taking closer to 30 minutes (one way).

Second, the western world is focused on achieving the status of having your own car. Most teenagers are probably thinking all the time about saving up to buy a car and/or getting their driver's license. There is something about having this freedom and independence to go where you want to go. Taking the bus means that you are dependent on someone else. Furthermore, taking the bus might give the perception that one cannot afford a car. Many people might not want that perception. 

Growing up, my parents had one car, so a lot of travel within city limits was by bus. I remember standing for long periods of time waiting for buses with my mom or my grandma. Personally, I have a negative perception of taking the bus because it reminds me of a challenging time in my childhood. 

Whether or not I have this perception or connotation, it does not mean that I should never take the bus. In the meantime, while I work up the courage to take the bus, I will walk and run. With the recent warmer temperatures, I have tested the following simple plan: run with the baby in the jogging stroller around the neighborhood, then walk to the shopping center (1/2 mile away) to take care of small errands (mailbox, library, Walgreens, clothes shopping, wine/beer shopping, etc). This plan has worked well and I look forward to taking care of errands car-free while getting my runs in during the day. 

>> What are your thoughts on riding the bus? Love it? Hate it?

Update: Growing Your Own Food with Gro-ables

This post brought to you by Gro-ables. All opinions are 100% mine.

Garden planning has begun, some seeds have been sowed and I am eager to start shopping for seedlings to compliment the seeds I sowed directly into the soil. The first seeds I sowed were Miracle-Gro Gro-ables Globe Tomatoes and Cilantro.  I picked out two containers, tilled the soil and placed the Gro-ables pods right in. Add a little water and sunshine (and time) and the seeds sprouted. Miracle-Gro Gro-ables pre-packaged seed pods offer an easy way to grow your own herbs and vegetables from seed.

Planting the Miracle-Gro Gro-ables pods was very easy. I made a hole in the soil and placed the top of the container at the same level as the top of the soil. I watered right after and then about every other day to ensure the soil stayed moist. I love that the Gro-ables pods provide the right medium and fertilizer for the seeds to sprout and grow.

Miracle-Gro Gro-ables

The seeds did take a while to sprout. I began to get worried. Finally, the cilantro broke through and the globe tomatoes came shortly after. The containers have been in the breezeway, which tends to be a bit chillier than the house, but warmer than the outside. We have only had warmer temperatures in the past week, so I attribute the late sprouting to the temperatures and little sunlight. I rotate both containers daily so that the plants grow evenly. I have noticed the cilantro has become leggy, so I will keep an eye on it and make sure it gets enough sunlight.

Miracle-Gro Gro-ables Globe Tomatoes   Miracle-Gro Gro-ables Cilantro

My seedlings are still small. However, I am hopeful they will grow quickly during the warmer weather. Once I thin out the smaller seedlings, it will make more room for the others to grow. I look forward to making my easy salsa with the tomatoes and cilantro and adding the cilantro to guacamole. I also love pico de gallo on baked fish or on fish tacos.

If you are a beginner gardener or are looking to try something new, Miracle-Gro Gro-ables pods are a great addition to our garden. They pods are easy to plant and the germination rates are high. Growing your own food is easy with Miracle-Gro Gro-ables.

>> What favorite recipe would you make with globe tomatoes or cilantro??

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MIRA Stainless Steel Snack Containers [Review]

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I began researching food containers, plates, utensils and sippy cups a while before getting pregnant. I knew that I wanted to avoid plastic as much as possible. Glass was a good option, except that there was a high probably of breaking if dropped by a baby. Stainless steel became my focus. Fast forward to today. The baby just turned one and has been experiencing and eating table food for about 6 months. When I leave the house, I need small and non-toxic containers to store his food. MIRA stainless steel food containers provide durability, containment, and light weight to store the baby's food.

MIRA Stainless Steel 2 Container Set (Small)          ($14.95)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
18/8 food-grade stainless steel container
Slide when stacked
Non-toxic LDPE #4 plastic lids

Great size for babies and children

Leak-proof lid

MIRA Stainless Steel Container Set is a set of two food-grade stainless steel containers that are perfect for small snacks, whether you use at home or take it with you on-the-go. The stainless steel containers come with recyclable, leak-proof, BPA-free plastic lids. The lid is made from a harder plastic, but is still bendable and easy to remove. However, I did find that with a full container, I had to make sure the lid was on all the way. Also, the lids are a little bit slick, so when you stack containers on top of each other, they tend to slide (slick stainless steel against slick plastic).

The size of the containers (small, 4" x 2") was perfect for storing foods and snacks for the baby. I have been using the containers for storing dried fruit, strawberry halves, and almonds (for me). I love that I can throw the containers into my purse or diaper bag and not worry about the lids popping off and food spilling everywhere. The lightweight of the stainless steel does not weight my bag or diaper bag down.

MIRA stainless steel containers can also be used for adults. They are perfect for storing dips such as hummus and salsa or holding a serving of salad dressing.

I recommend MIRA Stainless Steel Container Set for reusable, durable and lightweight storage containers. I plan on purchasing more of these stainless steel containers in a variety of sizes to complement the two that I have. The fact that this set is made from food grade stainless steel and does not leach toxic chemicals into my food is a winner in my book.

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

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