Sunday, May 31, 2015

LED Grow Light for Plants [Review]

Growing plants is a science and art. Since we have gone away from gardening and farming as our primary jobs, we have lost a lot of working knowledge. Climates have changed. Weather patterns have changed. And, the soil has changed. You cannot just put seeds in the ground and have them grow. In our growing zone, starting seeds indoors (winter sowing) is recommended. An LED Grow Light is a great gardening accessory for seed starting, germination, cloning, growing herbs and growing leafy vegetables year round. Red and blue wave lengths create a soft purple glow to help seeds and plants grow.

GrowHobby LED Grow Light     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Solid metal construction
Requires a bulb socket
Effective at helping seeds germinate and plants grow

Energy-efficient (uses 12 watts)

Does not require replacement bulbs

GrowHobby LED Grow Light is basically a big light bulb with small LED lights made from German imported osram chipsets. The body is made from solid (thick) oxidized aluminum casing. The casing design looks a lot like a fan blade on a jet engine and allows for better heat distribution so that the plants do not get burned and you do not have to use heat sinks or fans. The construction of the LED Grow Light is solid and high quality. My husband, who is a Mechanical Engineer, appreciated the high quality design.

The Grow Light is very energy-efficient, requiring only 12 watts to use with an 800 lumens output. The Grow Light does not need replacing. The company states that it should last for more than 50,000 hours. I did a little calculation: if you use the Grow Light for 12 hours a day, it should last for almost 12 years! That's a very long time and definitely worth the investment!

Benefits of a Grow Light
  • Easily bring a dull plant back to life
  • Perfect for seedlings, cuttings or cloning, and germinating
  • Suitable for all phases of plant growth (not enough power for full fruiting)
  • Fits nicely inside small spaces without damaging heat build up
  • Smart LED technology means no mercury
  • No need to replace burnt bulbs
  • Perfect for herbs, indoor plants, leafy vegetables, small fruiting plants, orchids, terrariums, hydroponic systems, aquarium plants and the like
Usage: The LED Grow Light screws into any standard light socket or lamp (e26 base). I purchase the GrowHobby Hanging Light Socket, separately, to go along with the LED Grow Light. I keep my seedlings first on the bay window where they receive filtered natural light and then I move them into the breezeway once the temperatures begin to climb in the Spring. This setup required for me to order the hanging light socket.

In the breezeway, I placed the seedlings on the table and weaved the Grow Light in the hanging light socket around the hook that was installed in the wooden beam on the ceiling. The LED Grow Light does have some weight to it, but the small hook held up the Grow Light and the hanging light socket well. The LED Grow Light was on for about 6 hours a day on the days that were cloudy or rainy.

Results: I am glad that I ordered the hanging light socket separately because it has given me freedom to put the seedlings and the light exactly where I want. I can move the LED Grow Light to exactly where I need it. In the past, I have had limited success with winter sowing because the plants ends up getting too leggy and flop over. Using the LED Grow Light, I felt like they did not get as leggy and grew more leaves.

I also used the LED Grow Light for a Purple Passion plant that did not overwinter well on my bay window and was not doing much better in the sunny breezeway. The LED Grow Light seems to have helped it to start growing leaves again, so I look forward to it coming back stronger and fuller.

I recommend this product for a gardener of any level. Though the initial investment is significant, remember that this LED Grow Light should last you for a very long time.

Disclosure: I received some of the products to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Homemade Natural After Sun Spray [Recipe + Review]

My 2 year old son and I love to spend time outdoors! Every day, we either play in the yard or go to a park. Spending time outside is a great learning and developmental opportunity. I tend to stay away from sunscreen unless absolutely necessary (we are at the beach or we will be spending hours outside during the sunniest parts of the day). When we do use sunscreen, I use a homemade recipe or a natural brand with the safest ingredients. Nonetheless, the skin can get a bit red after being outside in the sun. That's when I turn to my homemade natural After Sun Spray to relieve red and tender skin. An amber glass spray bottle is the perfect storage container to preserve the properties of the essential oils.

Emmi's Essentials Amber Glass Spray Bottle     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Bottle made from glass
Opening too small for scrub brush
Amber glass perfect for essential oil blends

High quality sprayer

Emmi's Essentials amber glass spray bottle can hold 16 ounces of liquid. The bottle itself is made from amber glass, which is recommended for essential oils, and a high quality sprayer with an ergonomic, no-slip trigger and tight-lock closure. Essential oils can degrade faster in a plastic bottle. Plastic can also absorb the cleaning solution or spray, making it difficult to clean the bottles for reuse. The amber color protects the oils and allow you to store your cleaning solutions and sprays longer!

I decided that the empty Amber Glass Spray Bottle would be perfect for my After Sun Spray. After Sun Spray is applied after being the sun. After coming inside the house, we wash hands and face, and then apply the After Sun Spray. I spray the After Sun Spray on the exposure body parts and our heads (we have fine hair and our scalp tends to burn) and then we are off to play! Since the spray is liquid, it does take a few minutes to be absorbed.

After Sun Spray Recipe

1 cup water
1 tbsp aloe vera juice
10 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before each use.

After Sun Spray is effective for mild to moderate burns. For moderate burns, reapply as needed throughout the day. If you have a serious burn over most of your body, please seek medical attention.

My Thoughts: I really like the amber glass bottle! The generous size is perfect for homemade cleaners and spray that are used on a frequent basis. The glass is pretty thick, so I am not worried about breaking, though careful handling should be used. Since the opening of the bottle is a bit small for my dish brush, I pump a small amount of soap inside the bottle, fill halfway with hot water, place my hand over the top and shake. I do this a few more times with just hot water to rinse the bottle. Let air dry.

Disclosure: I received the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Toddler Adventures: Garden Helper

Last year, I looked forward to this Spring, when my 2 year old son could help with gardening. Though he still has a long way to go toward actually helping me, I am already teaching him some of the basic concepts of gardening. Involving children in household and gardening tasks early in life helps to build their self esteem and teach them about taking care of the world around them.

He knows (and remember most of the time) that we do not step on plants or rip leaves off (except on the lamb's ear which has grown like crazy and overtaken a lot of area). He also knows that we water plants and loves to help hold the garden hose or use his little water can to water each plant. One day, when I was planting tomatoes in the container garden, he brought over the tomato cages one by one to me. My heart melted!

Here are some photos of my little garden "helper."

(our neighbor's front porch)

>> Do your kids help in the garden??
Disclaimer: These photos are copyrighted and are the property of All Natural Katie blog. They first appeared on this blog on 5/29/2015. Please do not copy or use them in other posts.

FREE Blogger Opp: Cade’s 5th Birthday Bash

Come join us for Cade's 5th Birthday Bash! 
Some great prizes to be won. 

This event will begin on June 22nd and run through July 6th. 
Prizes are still being worked out, but there will be one winner/prize. 

Bloggers receive 1 free link for posting this announcement post. If you do not wish to post the announcement then you may send $3 via paypal to You will still receive your free link if the fee is paid instead.
Receive a 2nd free link for posting the giveaway on time, once it's sent out and also for promoting the giveaway at least 3 times per week via Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks.  This is required. Remember the more you promote the event the better it will make the event for everyone involved. If you only want your link on the entry form w/o having to promote or post the giveaway, you may send $15 via Paypal.

I am looking for at least 2 co-hosts for this event. The cost of the co-host event will be $10 and you'll receive an additional 5 links, making a total of 7 links if you have completed the above two free links. Each co-host will also have a link back to their blog as well as a follow/word page. 

Additional links available for small fee. Please see form. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deep Sleep: Natural Solution for Better Sleep [Review]

A lot of people are in search of a natural solution for better sleep. Whether you have to get up for work in the morning or take care of children all day long, better sleep is always welcomed. For the past two years, sleep is something that has not come easy. Newborns are awake several times during the night to feed. Toddlers are up for developmental reasons (or just because). Plus, I wake up on my own a couple of times to use the bathroom. Our 2 year old son still wakes up about once a night and requires shooshing or comforting of some sort. Therefore, I try to use natural remedies and techniques to ensure that I get the best sleep that I can get. Zen Living's Deep Sleep Essential Massage Oil Blend is a perfect sleep aid that can be used directly on the skin, in a bath, or in an aromatherapy diffuser.


Note: I received a bottle different than what is pictured on Amazon due to a mix-up with the shipper. I received Tree of Life Sleep Well Massage & Bath Oil. The Amazon product is called Zen Living's Deep Sleep Essential Massage Oil Blend. The photos will include both products. I assume the ingredients list is the same (Amazon does not have the full ingredients list).

Zen Living Deep Sleep Oil Blend     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Natural ingredients with essential oils
Not certified organic
Effective at relaxing the body and the mind

Comes in a dark blue bottle

Deep Sleep Oil Blend contains essential oils in a natural oil blend of grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil and jojoba oil. Since essential oils should be diluted for usage on the skin, this oil is ready to be used out of the bottle. The Amazon description says that the oil can be used in a diffuser, but I am not sure if that is a good idea since it does contain grapeseed, sweet almond and jojoba oils. These natural oils might not be suitable for diffusers.

The essential oils in the blend that I received include Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Ylang Ylang. Deep Sleep Oil blend contains the same essentials oils in a slightly different order. In general, I love the smell of chamomile. Since Roman Chamomile is the first ingredient, it really comes through when you open the bottle to smell the oil blend. The rest of the oils are a bit difficult to distinguish because the Chamomile overpowers. Nonetheless, the aroma is very pleasant, natural and relaxing.

Usage: This oil blend is great to use as a massage oil (even just over the temples or wrists) or a cap full in the bath water. I have not used it in my essential oil diffuser because the product does contain other oils that might clog the diffuser.

Results: I felt relaxed after using the oil in the bath tub and after rubbing some on my temples. I would not say that I had amazing results where I fell asleep instantly, but I felt like the essential oil blend helped me to relax before going to bed. The oil is clear and asborbs quickly into the skin, leaving it moisturized. The oil blend is lightweight, so it's perfect for the summer and year round.

I would like to see the company move toward using organic ingredients to ensure that the oil blend has the most potency and effectiveness. I also would like to see the label of the Zen Living Deep Sleep blend have a more specific ingredients list.

After long days of running behind a toddler, I like to use this oil blend as part of my nightly wind down routine. If you are looking for a natural remedy for insomnia or sleeplessness, give Zen Living Deep Sleep Essential Oil Blend a try.

Disclosure: I received the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Organic Face Cream with Rose Quartz [Review]

The availability of all natural and organic beauty products and face creams is growing day by the day. Companies are focusing on high quality, natural ingredients and avoiding the toxic chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Gemstone Organic was founded with 5 unique handcrafted face and healing creams. Organic Rose Quartz Face Healing Cream is made with gemstone essences to promote clear skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a softer, smoother complexion.

Organic Rose Quartz Face Creme     
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Natural and organic ingredients
Caused a little skin itching (temporary)
Scented with essential oils

Glass container (with plastic lid)

Great moisture

Gemstone Organic Face and Healing cream is a thick cream made from all natural ingredients. Gemstones essence is the key ingredient in this healing face cream. Gemstone Essences are created from select crystals.  Each gemstone has powerful and unique healing properties to soften and smooth the skin and promote cell regeneration. The essences are infused into filtered, ionized water to create a highly vibrational H2O, which offers revitalizing energy that is similar to mineral springs.

The Organic Rose Quartz cream is made with gemstone essence from Rose Quartz and other select crystals. Rose Quartz is gentle enough for all skin types. The gemstone essence is blended with natural oils and essential oils. Lavender and Rosemary essential oils promote blood circulation and calm the skin. I was very intrigued to try an organic natural face cream with gemstone essence!

Rose Quartz is our Heart Chakra Crème. This is the stone for Universal Love. Rose Quartz strengthens and balances the physical heart and circulatory system as well as promotes forgiveness and self-love as well as an open heart towards others.

Organic Rose Quartz Face Cream Ingredients
Organic Unrefined Virgin Apricot Oil, Organic Rose Water, Gemstone Essence, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Cupuacu Butter, Organic Babassu Oil, Organic Borage Oil, Organic Black Cumin Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Vera Powder, Organic Lavender and Organic Rosemary Essential Oils
*100% USDA Organic Certified (other than Gemstone Essence)

I love that the ingredients are almost 100% organic. Every ingredient, other than the Gemstone Essence, is organic. This is great important to me and I would pay a premium price for 100% organic ingredients. I also appreciate that the cream is scented with organic essential oils.

Most of the ingredients are rated as 0 (no known hazard) by EWG's Skin Deep Database. Aloe Vera Powder is rated as 1 (low hazard) because of potential reproductive effects at moderate doses. Since this ingredient is almost at the end of the ingredients list, it is probably in a much smaller amount and most likely does not pose any hazard.

Storage: Store in a cool, dry area. Best used within 4-5 months. Store in refrigerator to extend shelf life beyond "Best Used By" date.

Usage: Wash hands before use. Use your finger to scoop out a little bit of the cream and apply to face. A little cream goes a long way. The cream is very thick and will take quite a while to absorb, so go light on the cream the first time you use it.

Results: I liked the thickness of the cream and the natural scent. The Lavender and Rosemary essential oil scents are pretty strong when smelling the cream out of the jar. After applying to the skin, the scents go away after a while. The Rosemary essential oil does overpower the Lavender scent. My face felt moisturized after application and the moisture seemed to last the rest of the day.

One thing to note is that the skin on my face felt a little itchy in a few places about 5-15 minutes after applying. This itchiness went away soon thereafter.

My Thoughts: I love the organic and natural ingredients. I also love the Rose Quartz essence. There is something warming about this face cream. This face cream will be my go-to face cream for the winter. The thickness and creaminess of it is perfect for the colder, winter months.

I would recommend this product. Gemstone Organics Rose Quartz Face and Healing cream is thick, rich, and effective at healing and moisturizing the skin. The Gemstone Essence Face Creams are also available in 4 other varieties depending on your skin type and healing needs.

Disclosure: I received the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

Joy Williams Venus 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. The music I listen to depends on my mood, or the type of mood I want to be in. From happy and upbeat to sad and slow, music helps me to experience life and the emotions that comes with the ups and downs of it. Joy Venus was previously with The Civil Wars group, but is now on her own. Joy William's Venus album is a collection of personal and emotional songs that will evoke emotions from happiness to sadness.

Joy Williams Venus Tracklist:
1. Before I Slept
2. Sweet Love of Mine
3. Woman (Oh Mama)
4. One Day I Will
5. Not Good Enough
6. What a Good Woman Does
7. Until the Levee
8. You Loved Me
9. The Dying Kind
10. Till Forever
11. Welcome Home

I really like this brand new album from Joy Williams. Her music is the type of music that I like - easy listening with an empowering message. Joy was recently part of The Civil Wars group that has disbanded. She has come out on her own with a bang! This break through album takes the best of what Joy learned from The Civil Wars, mixed with some of her favorite artists.

My favorite songs are "Woman (Oh Mama)" because I am a mother and this song gets at the strength of a woman. This song is going to be added to my running playlist. I also like "Not Good Enough" for my running playlist. It is hard to choose my top favorites because I love all of the songs. Joy William's Venus album would be great for playing while I am cooking or cleaning the house or just hanging out with my toddler.

The Venus album can be purchased on iTunes and on Amazon.

Disclosure: I participated in the Joy Williams Venus album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Valley Food Storage Meals [Review]

While eco-friendly living is focused on reducing your negative impact on the environment, it also includes practices to prepare for emergency situations. I have been working on balancing creating a short term food storage without over-purchasing and wasting food that will not be eaten. Valley Food Storage offers 25 year shelf life meals with natural ingredients.

Valley Food Storage Chicken a La King      
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Natural ingredients (preservative-free)
Contains soy
25 year shelf life (mylar bag, resealable)

Just add water

Made in the USA

Valley Food Storage meals come hand sealed in a Nitrogen flushed Mylar Pouch. The pouch is resealable (like a Ziploc bag). The packet sits upright easily, or can be laid down for storage.

Each packet meal makes 5 servings. If you are just a family of 2, then the resealable mylar pouch is very convenient if you only need to make 2 servings. In an emergency situations, you might not be able to store leftovers, so preparing only the food that you will be able to eat is important.

Valley Food Storage meals contain natural ingredients. No MSG, Trans Fat, Hydrogenated Oils, or GMO ingredients. I would like to see the company become non-GMO verified and be able to list that on their packaging since the package does state that soy is an ingredient.

I really like the simple ingredients list. I can recognize the ingredients and know what they are. That is very important to me and very important to provide the most nutrition in an emergency situation.

Preparation: Preparation is easy - just add water! Bring 5 and 1/2 cups of water to a boil and whisk in the contents of the package. Simmer for 10-12 minutes to rehydrate the ingredients. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes. That is very easy preparation and would be easy to do in an emergency situation.

My Thoughts: The meal was really easy to prepare. For long term food storage, the meal is packaged well and will last a very long time. In an emergency situation, you would just need a way to heat water and a pot. The taste of the meal was better than expected! I have never tried a food storage meal before and always assumed that it would taste "food storagey." However, I was pleasantly surprised. I like the affordability of getting 5 servings that will last for 25 years! Even for a non-food storage meal, $11.95 for 5 servings is a great price. The texture of Chicken a la King was more like a thick stew, so I added in some chopped cooked chicken. You could also add in shredded chicken or frozen vegetables to cook with the meal. I really like the versatility of the meals!

Valley Food Storage offers a variety of meals and supplies for food storage, emergency preparedness and camping. The variety of delicious meals for break, lunch, dinner, and sides is impressive.

Disclosure: I received the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

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