Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

This blog originally started as a place for me to post about giveaways I entered to gain a few more entries. I had plans to officially kick-off the blog sometime in the future. Well, the future was this year! I have greatly enjoyed sharing my personal eco-friendly adventures and new eco-friendly products with my readers. Here are my accomplishments for the past 5 months (I started blogging in August).
  1. Started blogging, officially.
  2. Hosted 2 sponsored giveaways.
  3. Reviewed several products.
  4. Gained more followers on GFC, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
  5. Connected with other bloggers who have the same interests.

My top 5 posts for 2011
  1. Challenge Results: Vegetarian Thanksgiving - I never though that this post would become so popular.
  2. Green Motivation Monday - Taste the Season
  3. Preparing for Eco-Friendly Adventures in Babysitting
  4. Happy Turkey Day
  5. Winterize Your Home - Heating
Thank you to all of my wonderful readers and faithful followers! I am learning as much from you as I hope you are learning from me. I am truly blessed! I look forward to 2012 and all that the new year will bring!

Friday, December 30, 2011

21 Day Vegan Kickstart - Grocery List [Challenge]

I was excited to receive my first email from the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. Since the start is only a couple days away (January 2), I need to do some grocery shopping to prepare. I am going to Whole Foods today for groceries, so I will add the following items to my list.

Strawberries (or any kind of berries you like, including frozen fruit) for smoothies
Mango/peaches (frozen, for second and third weeks)
Dried fruit (like raisins) for oatmeal

Sweet potatoes
Salad greens
Carrot sticks
Edamame (frozen or fresh)
Bag of frozen vegetables
Toppings for a veggie burger and hummus sandwiches (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, etc.)

Oatmeal and/or cold cereal
Frozen vegan waffles
Whole grain toast
Rice cakes and/or pita bread
Brown rice
Whole wheat/brown rice pasta

Dried or canned red, green, or other variety lentils, kidney, pinto, garbanzo (chickpeas), black, black-eyed peas, or other variety of beans

Plant milk: Pick from rice, almond, soy, oat, hemp or other varieties
Vegan cup/can of soup: McDougall’s cup of soups, Amy’s, Healthy Valley, or some other vegan, low-fat soup (bonus for low-sodium)
Vegan veggie burger: vegan Boca brand or other vegan variety
Apple butter, jam, or mustard for low-fat topping of toast/rice cakes and sandwiches
Agave nectar or maple syrup for oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles
Jar of marinara sauce, aim for low-fat or fat-free
Snacks: Soy/rice yogurt, oven-baked tortilla chips; popcorn kernels (look in fruit/vegetable category for additional snacks)
Spices: cinnamon for oatmeal, curry powder or nutritional yeast to top popcorn

Thursday, December 29, 2011

21 Day Vegan Kickstart [Challenge]

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am challenging myself for the month of January. Over the past few months, I have been eating more vegetarian and vegan meals. When I heard about the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart from a friend of mine, I was intrigued.


The 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, brought to you by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is a program that challenges me to eat vegan for 21 days. By signing up for the program, I will receive daily messages that include medical expert advice, a 21-day menu, nutrition webcasts, and a chance to win coupons to the PCRM Marketplace. I will also have the support of the online community forum, Facebook, and iPhone app.

I look forward to discovering new vegan recipes and trying to sneak them in among the usual non-vegan/vegetarian fare I create.

Disclosure: This post is part of my personal challenge is not sponsored by any company or individual other than me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

4 Steps to Cure a Food Hangover

I find it really hard to avoid overeating during the Holidays. Between the stick-to-your-ribs sides and the homemade Christmas cookies, we often times forget to be mindful of what and how much we are eating. When you wake up in the morning after the annual family holiday party and you feel stuffed, bloated, and sluggish, follow this 4-Step Food Hangover Plan and you will feel better in no time.

1. Begin with Exercise

Do something active for 45 minutes, like a brisk walk, run, or a cardio workout at the gym. Moving around will help with bloating, burn calories to offset overeating, and release mood boosting chemicals so you can forget all about your food hangover.

2. Choose Protein and Potassium for Breakfast

Do eat something for breakfast, even if you still feel stuffed from last night. Think of dairy products for protein and fruits and vegetables for potassium. Both will help with bloating.

3. Drink Green Tea

Caffeinated green tea helps to satisfy your appetite and fills you up. Green tea has also been found to boost your metabolism and also reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs.

4. Eat Your Vegetables

Choose non-starchy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers) to avoid becoming more bloated. These will fill you up for just a few calories.

>> What are your strategies to combat a food hangover?

Skin Free $30 Gift Certificate [Giveaway]

I am hooked on Skin Free products! I reviewed the Basic Four Gift Set and fell in love with the Extra Moisturizing Soap and the Super Moisture Body Balm. I would highly recommend any Skin Free product, especially when the products are rated as non-toxic on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

I am hosting a giveaway for a $30 gift certificate to Skin Free so you can get some of these amazing products. Please use the Rafflecopter entry form below.

Skin Free is sponsoring a giveaway for a $30 Gift Certificate to their online store!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays to All!

I wish all of you a peaceful and relaxing holiday season.

Happy Holidays from All Natural Katie!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

No More Moody Skin with Moody Sisters Organic Skincare [Review]

I discovered Moody Sisters Organic Skincare products during a giveaway on another blog. After reading through a few posts, I realized that the Moody Sisters and I were going to be good friends. These two sisters make all of the body products in their kitchen! All of Moody Sisters products are preservative-free, paraben-free, and 100% organic! Your skin will be moody no more! This post will focus on two Moody Sisters Organic Skincare products: Lavender Powder Deodorant and Hydrating Cleanser.

Moody Sisters Organic Skincare

Lavender Powder Deodorant      
Hydrating Cleanser (Skincare Bundle)                    $25.00 (Bundle)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

Lavender Powder Deodorant

Almond Powder Deodorant-- Powder puff included for easy application-- 4 oz. Organic and Vegan-- Paraben & Aluminum Free
Almond Powder Deodorant-- Powder puff included for easy application-- 4 oz. Organic and Vegan-- Paraben & Aluminum FreeMy Uses: I put Moody Sisters' Lavender Powder Deodorant through the ringer over the past 2 weeks. I used the powder deodorant when working from home (light activity), when shopping (moderate activity), and when running and spinning at the gym (intense activity).

Review: I love the little tin that contains the Powder Deodorant. I can throw it in my purse or workout bag. I found the tin easy to open, but I also took my time so I did not dump the powder everywhere. This is precious stuff!

The ingredients in Moody Sisters Powder Deodorant help to keep you dry and prevent the smelly bacteria from forming. I found that the powder deodorant did help prevent odor, but did not do as good of a job at preventing the wetness. This is common among natural deodorants since they are not antiperspirants.

The trick to natural deodorant is to apply before you begin sweating. I applied the powder deodorant right before and right after spinning class. My unwilling husband did the sniff test when we got home and said that I had very mild odor. Pretty good after a grueling and a sweaty spinning session. When I feel myself sweating, I dry off with a tissue and apply a little more powder deodorant. This strategy has worked well for me to keep the odor at bay.

The Good
The Not So Good
Works to prevent odor
Scent is a little weak
Easy to apply
Powder gets on your hands and potentially clothes when applying (take your time)
Portable, easy to transport

Three scent options

Hydrating Cleanser

My Uses: I have been using the cleanser every other day after a heavy cardio workout. I apply a light layer on my face before I get into the shower, lather up with water, and wash it off.

Review: The Hydrating Cleanser is part of the Skin Care Bundle. I like this lightweight cleanser because it cleans well and smells amazing. The skin on my cheeks is usually irritated by most products, but I found only calm and smooth skin. After washing it off, I can tell that the oil stays on my skin. However, once I get out of the shower and towel off, the skin on my face feels dry. I started putting on moisturizer right after I get out of the shower to avoid dry skin. 

I would prefer a container that I can travel with because I do like the simplicity, easy, and effectiveness of this moisturizer and I would want to take it with me.

The Good
The Not So Good
Smells amazing
Not portable, difficult container to travel with
Cleans well
Left my skin a little dry

Overall Review: I love supporting an Etsy retailer, especially when they make amazing organic and natural products! I even ordered the Organic Whipped Mint Lotion for 3 ladies in my extended family because I am impressed with Moody Sisters Organic Skincare. For best results keep all products out of sunlight or heat. Products are made to last 8-12 weeks if used daily. It can be preserved for 3-6 months in the fridge if not used regularly.


P.S. Please bear with me as I am playing around with different review styles.  I am getting close to a template that I like. I would appreciate any feedback.

Disclosure: I received the products from Moody Sisters in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my personal experiences. This review is objective and completely honest.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Days of Kindle Fire [Giveaway]

To celebrate the release of a new novel to the Seven Halos series, author Monica Leonelle is doing a Kindle Fire giveaway for Silver Smoke, the first novel in the series! Silver Smoke is the highly-rated (4.8 stars on Amazon) debut novel about the Hallows and the Nephilim, the descendants of archangels and humans.

Description of the book:

Brie van Rossum has fame, fortune, and beauty, but there's one thing she doesn't have--the name of her mother's supernatural killer. The Hallows, descendants of the archangels, don't think Milena was murdered.. but can Brie trust them when their government, the New Order, wants her dead? She'd better figure it all out soon... ... because when Brie finds out who she really is, the hunt will begin. And Milena might not be the only casualty. Like mother, like daughter...

Interview with Author Monica Leonelle:

1. What was your inspiration for writing Silver Smoke?

Inspiration comes from everywhere; with Silver Smoke, I really wrote it a bit like a TV show, like The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle. There is a deep mythology that can be hard to keep track of at times, but it all comes together and makes sense by the end. The first book is a completed story arc on its own, but still such an introduction to the series-- readers definitely seem to want to know much more about the Hallows and the Nephilim. Luckily, there are 6 more books!

2. Who is the main character?
My book is a bit different from most young adult books as it primarily follows three characters in a round-robin way. The main character is Brie van Rossum, who finds out rather quickly that her family descended from archangels. She uses this information to piece together clues about her mother's death. The other two characters are Pilot, Brie's older brother, and Pilot's best friend, Rykken. Both have their own character arcs, and all three come together at the end in a rather terrifying way. There is a lot of mystery and it pays off at the end. It's pretty cool.

3. What audience is this book geared toward? Why?
It's marketed as a young adult urban fantasy but the people who love it most are people in their 20's, 30's, and 40's who enjoy reading young adult fiction. Teens like it too, but I can't say it's dumbed down like some of the other stuff on the market. You really have to keep up and pay attention to subtlety as your reading. So readers need to have a good attention span--of course, that happens at any age.

4. Tell me the thought process of how you came up with the name for the book?
Silver Smoke refers to something specific in the book, but it's kind of a spoiler. I can assure you that the name is explained in detail though. Sorry I can't say more here!

5. Why would an average reader want to read Silver Smoke? 
Silver Smoke is challenging and fun, and perfect if you want a longer series that unfolds slowly, but unfolds a little faster than the Song of Ice and Fire series.

Contest dates:

December 15th thru December 31st (a little more than 12 days, but who's counting?)

Easy ways to enter:

  1. (3 entries) Blog about this contest and forward a link to (see copy + paste instructions for the contest below).
  2. (3 entries each) Share a sentence about the book with your Facebook or Twitter followers, and include a link to the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble (you pick). One entry per social media account per day during the contest. Forward a screenshot or link of your sentence+link to The links are available below:
  3. (10 entries each) Write an honest Amazon and/or B&N review of Silver Smoke and send a link to


Grand Prize Winner: Kindle Fire (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
2nd Place (two winners): Kindle Touch (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
3rd Place (three winners): Kindle (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)
Special Bloggers-Only Winner* (for blogger entrants - must enter via the web form): Kindle Fire (or cash-equivalent Amazon gift card)

Winners will be selected using on January 1, 2012 and announced on How To Be An Author by January 2, 2012.

*To enter the Bloggers-Only drawing (in addition to the regular drawing), you must forward a link to your post to AND add your name to this bloggers-only email list (not for promotional purposes... just an easy way to distribute promised items):

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winner Announcement

The giveaway Mighty Leaf Iced Teas has concluded! Thank you to all those that entered and showed your support for my first giveaway! Winner is listed below and has confirmed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Skin Free for Healthy Skin [Review]

As the name suggests, Skin Free is all about providing the highest quality, natural and organic body products, free of toxic chemicals such as fragrance, artificial colors and scents, petroleum, or any other toxic chemical. As I was browsing the information on the Skin Free website, I read the Testimonials page. I was amazed by the number of people who have greatly benefited from using Skin Free products. I have always had sensitive and dry skin, so I was confident that Skin Free could also help me, especially because of the great ratings on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Let me tell you about the Basic Four Gift Set package that I have been using during the past 2 weeks.

Skin Free – Basic Four Gift Set

The Skin Free Basic Four Gift Set contains one of the following items. Currently, Skin Free has a Holiday Pricing promotion for several of their products and gift sets. The Basic Four Gift Set retails for $40.00 $32.00.

Super Moisture Body Balm
     $14.99 $10.99
After Shower Moisture Spritz            $12.99 $10.00
Niaouli Butter Stick                  $7.99
Extra Moisturizing Soap Bar    $4.50 $3.00
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

Super Moisture Body Balm

Review: The Super Moisture Body Balm is some thick stuff! Very moisturizing and stays on for a long time.  The Super Moisturize Body Balm is a little greasy, but in a moisturizing, shiny kind of way. I love putting the Body Balm on my freshly shaven legs because the balm gives them a nice shine. Give the Body Balm some time to absorb into the skin because you will “moisturize” whatever you touch. I also love the warm, almond/nutty smell of the Super Moisture Body Balm. 

My Uses: I used the Super Moisture Body Balm mainly on my legs and my hands. Since the temperatures have become colder, the Body Balm became lumpy. I took the lid off, put my finger inside and scooped the Balm out. Once the Balm touched my skin, it melted and I could spread it. I also recommend putting it a warm cup/bowl/pot of water instead of putting it in the microwave (I try to limit my use of the microwave). 

The Good
The Not So Good
100% butter/oil
Becomes lumpy in colder temperatures
Instant and noticeable moisture
Contains soy (if you are allergic)
Warm, almond smell

Healing (it works!)

After Shower Moisture Spritz

Review: I shook the bottle and sprayed the After Shower Moisture Spritz on my body right after I got out of the shower. I do not usually put moisturizer all over my body, but if I did, this would be a quicker method. However, I still needed to rub the oils into the skin. I would probably use the After Shower Moisture Spritz on the weekends when I have time to let the oils soak into my skin.

My Uses: Sprayed on my body after the shower. I could see myself using the After Shower Moisturize Spritz on my legs all the time. Another great use of the After Shower Moisturize Spritz would be to soother sunburned skin without touching it.

The Good
The Not So Good
Quick method to apply all over body
Still had to rub it in

Niaouli Butter Stick

Review: The Niaouli Butter Stick is also some thick stuff! Very moisturizing and stays on for a long time, but is not greasy. I particularly loved the smell.  I could not stop smelling my hands after I put it on. To use the Niaouli Butter Stick, you push it up from the bottom (like a push pop). I had a little trouble at first because I did not want to send it flying completely out. I recommend taking your time when you push it up.

My Uses: I used the Niaouli Butter Stick for my chapped lips, dry/red cheeks, and dry hands. After a couple uses, my chapped lips and cheeks were much better! I am going to try next on my rough feet (from the heels at work and running).

The Good
The Not So Good
Very moisturizing
Stick is a little hard to push up
Long lasting
Thickness makes it hard to apply
Not greasy

Smells great

Healing (it works!)

Extra Moisturizing Soap Bar

Review: The Extra Moisturizing Soap Bar is my new favorite soap! I have been using this soap for about 2 weeks and my skin has never felt dry.  That is because the Extra Moisturizing Soap Bar is “superfat.” The soap is made with oils that clean and moisturize your skin. But do not be afraid, the soap lathers up very well! I love that the soap is free of fragrance and colorants because sometimes, the fragrance is too strong.

Out of all natural and organic soaps I have tried, the Extra Moisturizing Soap Bar is the best because it cleans well and moisturizes well. No dry skin afterwards!

My Uses: I used the soap on my body. I also used the Extra Moisturizing Soap as a shampoo bar and my hair was clean, soft, and looked amazing! A great alternative to the Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar mixture I have been using.

The Good
The Not So Good
The bar is too small :)
No toxic chemicals/ingredients

Great for sensitive skin

Overall Review: I loved all of the Skin Free products and would highly recommend them to anyone with or without skin problems. My skin never dried out and was always moisturized. The Niaouli Butter Stick definitely healed some problem areas. Be sure to use the products within one year because they are free of preservatives.

Giveaway for a $30 gift certificate to Skin Free coming soon!

Disclosure: I received the sample from Skin Free in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my personal experiences. This review is objective and completely honest.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Upcoming Posts

I have had an extremely busy week, so I have not been posting as much as usual. Please forgive me! A little preview of what will be coming up within the next few days:
  1. Review: Skin Free Products
  2. Review: Moody Sisters Powder Deodorant and Facial Cleanser
  3. Homemade Food Coloring - Red
Please stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - What is Whole Foods Thinking?

I bought these Meyer Lemons at Whole Foods. Read the part in the red box about three chemicals I have never heard of and am afraid to Google.

This picture proves that you and I should READ EVERY SINGLE LABEL.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank You to My Readers!

I am currently at 99 GFC followers!!!

Even though Google Friend Connect is going away,I am still excited that I have 99 GFC followers. Only a few months have passed since I started blogging and I am amazed that so many people want to read about my eco-friendly adventures.

Dear Readers, thank you so much for supporting me and connecting with me! I am blessed!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Green Motivation Monday - Read Your Ingredients

This post is part of the Green Motivation Monday series. The purpose of these weekly posts is to offer motivation to take a small baby step in the green and eco-friendly direction. Of course, I will be taking the step right along with you. I will let you know how I did and I hope you let me know what you were able to accomplish.

Motivation: Pick one body product that you use on a daily or frequent basis and look it up in the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Spend a few minutes reading the information about the body product.

Companies that make cosmetics and personal care products are allowed to use any ingredient they want, no matter how toxic it is to human or babies. The government does not review the safety or toxicity of these products prior to being sold. Through my personal experiences, I have discovered that products touted as "all-natural," "non-toxic," "hypo-allergenic," "safe for babies," and so on, can still contain toxic chemicals. Similar to reading ingredients on food labels, if you cannot pronounce or do not know what the ingredient is on the back of your lotion or baby shampoo, then it is most likely not something you want to put on your skin. If the Cosmetics Database rates a product as yellow or red, I do not buy it.

The purple menu bar towards the top of the Cosmetics Database page has some links to items that are considered safe based on the ingredients. I especially like the 2011 Sunscreen Guide.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is my go-to resource for non-toxic body products. The Cosmetics Database gives you insight into every ingredient that is on the label of your body product so that you can protect yourself and your family from exposures to toxic chemicals. The Cosmetics Database consists of online profiles for many cosmetic and personal care products and ranks them based on their toxicity (green, yellow, red).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Champion Eco Fleece - Greenwashed or Not?

During my recent shopping trip, my eyes caught sight of a little white and green tag. The companies succeeded once again in their potential greenwashing efforts because I was curious what new, eco-friendly product this could be. Yes, I am always curious about any green tag because it means that there is a possibility I can discover a new eco-friendly product.

I assumed the eco-friendliness had something to do with the fabric, potentially recycled polyester. I quick glance at the tag confirmed my assumption, made with up to 50% recycled polyester! Awesome! Champion's Eco Fleece line was paving the way for other fitness companies to join. And then, doubt set it.

I looked at the tag again. I was in disbelief that I could find recycled polyester products at this particular brick-and-mortar store. I read the description again and realized that the fleece is "made with up to 5% recycled polyester fibers." Five percent? What? I misread 5% as 50%! Maybe I was too hopeful! Not only was it 5%, but it was "up to 5%." Seriously?!? Up to five percent? Not that it is exactly five percent, but up to five percent. Meaning that it could be one percent or less. "How sad!" I thought. Personally, I would not waste my money or energy on "up to 5%." Yes, it is better than nothing, but if they cannot guarantee even 5%, then I'm not going to guarantee my support of their new line.

>> What do you think? Greenwashed or not?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fasting for Your Health

Fasting comes in many different forms and for many different reasons. From juice fasting to completely abstaining from food, fasting provides numerous health benefits. Fasts are defined as extended periods of time in which a person abstains from all or certain foods and drinks. This post will illuminate the good, the bad, and the hungry on fasting. You can also read about my first few days of the St. Philips/Nativity Fast.

The Good
  1. Fasting detoxifies your body. Organs such as the liver, kidney, and spleen remove and neutralize toxins from the body to keep cells healthy. Fasting reduces input from additional toxins.  
  2. Fasting may help your heart. Fasting for one day a month may prevent heart disease and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. During fasting, fat is used for fuel. In the long run, you have fewer fat cells in your body. This means less insulin resistance and lower risk of heart disease later in life.
  3. Abstaining from meat and meat products helps the environment.
  4. Fasting provides spiritual gains. Removing food as a pleasure brings us closer to spiritually.
  5. More benefits.
The Bad and The Hungry
  1. Abstaining from food and/or water for long periods of time can lead to kidney and liver damage because your blood becomes more acidic.
  2. Fasting will NOT help you lose weight and keep it off. This is basically yo-yo dieting. The small drop in weight will return once you start eating normally.
  3. Fasting does NOT replace healthy eating. Fasting lowers levels of important nutrients like Vitamin D, Calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. 
  4. Fasting is NOT recommended for those who are ill, pregnant, nursing, training for any athletic event.
  5. Abstaining from food can cause fatigue and crankiness.
Important Disclaimer: Fasting is NOT for everyone! I am not promoting that you abstain from food and liquids. Check with your physician before beginning any type of fast where you abstain from foods and liquids. It is critically important that you understand how to fast safely and as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Fasting - Day 1 and 2

This year, I am committed to fasting for Advent (also known as St. Philips Fast or Nativity Fast). Orthodox Christianity provides strict guidelines for fasting. Although, the level to which you fast depends on factors such as your country, parish, or personal devotion. I am only beginning to learn all of the ins and outs of fasting, so I will continue to post my experience because there ARE eco-friendly reasons for fasting!

The December fasting schedule is to the right.

My experience is below.

ay 1 (December 6) - Fish Allowed
Breakfast: Homemade whole wheat bread with dried fruit, yogurt.
Lunch: Greens with smoked trout and goat cheese.
Snacks: Fruit, dried fruit, nuts.
Dinner: As the oven-roasted Turkey breast was cooking, I realized that I could not eat meat. I ate bread, cheese, and cranberry sauce.

Thoughts: Dairy and oil are not allowed, so I need to abstain from these also.

Day 2 (December 7) - Strict Fast (bread, veggies, fruit)
Breakfast: Oatmeal made with water, added banana, cinnamon. Recipe
Lunch: Pickled cabbage, bread with hummus, bread with peanut butter and honey
Dinner: Chipotle, rice, veggies, guacamole. No sour cream or cheese.

The strict fast is definitely hard, but I realized that I am pretty much eating Vegan! How cool is that! Two birds, one stone! I also need to ask my dad about sweeteners and grains.

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