March 14, 2013

Really Natural Skincare for Girls: Willa Naturals

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Willa Naturals is a brand I am not familiar with, so as always, I refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Unfortunately, EWG only evaluates beauty products for hazards to your health and not whether a product is truly natural. These products appear to not be too bad for you, but I have some suspicions about Will Naturals being natural. I can't pronounce or recognize the name of many of the product ingredients.

Willa Naturals was developed for young girls:

Hi. I'm Willa.

For the past 3 ½ years we have been developing a skincare line for girls called willa® . It all started when my mom and I looked for skincare products for me and we couldn't find them - at least not natural products.

My mom always nagged me to wear sunblock, wash my face, moisturize - you know the drill. But even though I knew it was important to take care of my skin, I never enjoyed doing it...the products available just didn't feel good-and believe me I tried everything.

willa consists of 17 products; each is special and different from other brands because they were developed by girls, for girls. We worked with the best skincare laboratories in the USA to develop natural skincare formulations girls would love to use. Each product also underwent rigorous testing to ensure they were both safe and effective. Willa products are free of harsh chemicals, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, DEA and of course are not tested on animals.


We were sent four products to try:

As I mentioned above, I am concerned about some of the ingredients. I am always wary if an ingredient has a number after it, as I feel it indicates it is a chemical. I briefly researched a few ingredients from the above products:
Polyquaternium 51: The Good Guide finds there are no health concerns, but the products it is listed in are from cosmetic companies such as Maybelline and L'Oreal. Obviously, these are not natural brands.
HYDROGENATED POLYDECENE: EWG gives this ingredient a hazard score of two stating it is "an end-product of the controlled hydrogenation of Polydecene(q.v.)".
sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate: Can be derived from coconuts, like sodium lauryl sulfate, but is an even harsher surfactant. Paula's Choice asks:
Used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent, but is potentially drying and irritating for skin and is also tricky to formulate with due to stability issues, though it does produce copious foam. Secondary surfactants can be used with this cleansing agent to minimize its negative impact on skin, but why not just use a cleanser that contains gentler cleansing agents?
Is using a sulfonate any better than using a sulfate? It is if you want to claim your product is sulfate free.
Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester: According to Bio Inc Beauty, this ingredient "is based on lipo-dipeptide Tyr-Arg - a peptide found naturally in the body. This peptide was discovered to promote the natural release of signal agents that trigger happiness and feelings of well being". Being based on a natural peptide in the body does not make the ingredient natural. I am not sure how it is made.
Laureth-3: I can't figure out how this differs from sodium laureth sulfate, unless of course, you are avoiding that word sulfate.

I think that our beauty products should be simple. The ingredients should be understandable. True our skin may require different things at different ages, but it is especially important our young girls are not exposed to chemicals when they are entering the world of beauty products.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Beauty | Kids | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 13, 2013

Healthy Snacking: Popcorn, Indiana Fit Only 40 Calories Per Cup!

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Are you looking for a healthy, GMO-free snack that is also low in calories?  From 37 to 40 calories a cup, you can't go wrong with popcorn!

Popcorn, Indiana sent us four flavors of their new Fit Popcorn:


"As people who eat, sleep and breathe popcorn, we pride ourselves in continuing to push the boundaries when it comes to the kernel. Our popcorn chefs worked hard to perfect the pop when developing each of our delicious FIT flavors that are perfect for any occasion," said Hitesh Hajarnavis, president and CEO of Popcorn, Indiana. "With this new line, snackers can have it all. With every delectable bite, FIT features a fresh and savory taste that puts the fun back into guilt-free snacking. There is no need to make any compromises."

Popcorn, Indiana's chefs, masters in the art of creating delicious high-quality snacks, crafted FIT in four mouth-watering flavors: Sea Salt, Parmesan & Herb, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Onion Dijon. Two of the flavors, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt, will carry the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. As with all Popcorn, Indiana products, FIT contains whole grains, is certified Gluten Free by the GFCO and is free of artificial flavoring and preservatives.

I am pleased at least two of the flavors (my favorite ones) are labeled Non-GMO!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Food

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 12, 2013

Slow Cooking for the Spring Holidays

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Easter is approaching and traditionally is a meal similar to winter holidays. Holiday Slow Cooker: A Year of Hassle-Free Celebrations is not a vegetarian cookbook, but it does have many recipes I would like to try.

SET I T AND GO CELEBRATE!
With the perfectly adapted recipes in this book, you can prepare all the holiday classics without spending hours in the kitchen! Simply toss the ingredients in your slow cooker and go enjoy the festivities with family and friends while dinner is cooking in the other room. From tasty appetizers and delicious sides to enticing entrées and heavenly desserts, Holiday Slow Cooker teaches you the easy, hasslefree way to make all the traditional favorites, including:
• Piquant Black-Eyed Peas
for New Year's
• Easy N'Awlins Slow Cooker Gumbo
for Mardi Gras
• Lobster Bisque
for Valentine's Day
• Classic Corned Beef and Cabbage
for St. Patrick's Day
• Leg of Lamb
for Easter Sunday
• Caramel Flan
for Cinco de Mayo
• Breakfast Quiche
for Mother's Day Brunch
• Buffalo Chicken Wings
for Fourth of July
• Autumn Pork Stew
for Halloween
• Pumpkin Butter
for Thanksgiving
• Candied Sweet Potatoes
for Christmas
• Challah Pudding
for Hanukkah
With full-color photos and great recipes, this book allows you to craft perfect dinners with minimal stress. Plus, the benefits of using a slow cooker go beyond tasty meals, they allow you to free up space on the stove, let dessert cook while you are enjoying dinner, and keep dishes warm for fabulous party dips, fondues and more.

I love cooking in my slow cooker, as it takes away the pressure of dinner preparations in the busy evening time.

I find it odd that the recipe for Maple Carrots has no maple syrup in it. Hmmm. There are very few vegetarian recipes included.

It is interesting that this cookbook is arranged by holiday, and I would love to make the chocolate fondue.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Food | Really Natural Books

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 11, 2013

Consciously Parenting

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Consciously Parenting: What it Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families (Volume 1) by Rebecca Thompson, M.S. is a must read for parents.

In this book, Consciously Parenting: What it Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families, Rebecca Thompson offers solutions that go beyond trying to change behaviors and are based on what truly matters: Building connected, trusting family relationships and bonds that can weather any situation. Her approach is grounded in science and research and uses straightforward language and examples to explain how parents can connect in deep, meaningful ways with their children.

The book combines ideas from attachment parenting and science.

I really like what Thompson says about "Watching Our Words", and it is lesson not only parents but educators need to remember.

Positive, affirming statements about our children go a long way toward creating a connected relationship. When we use words that affirm our child's innate goodness and willingness to help, we will begin to see more of those traits in our child.

Thompson also speaks of how our own needs influence our children's behavior, and I can see that reflected in my relationships with my children clearly after reading parts of this book.

Unfortunately there is no information about green paper or eco-friendly printing processes for this book.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Kids | Really Natural Books

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 7, 2013

Children's Literature: Ambition's Not an Awful Word

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 2.50.23 PM.pngAmbition's Not An Awful Word by Zack Zage is a cute book, but I have to take offense with the title's improper use of the apostrophe "s". This is not a proper contraction, and it is not a possessive. I feel proper writing should always be modeled for children, and this is a children's book. I also find the font difficult to read. That being said...

When Mrs. Grundy asks the students in her fourth grade class what they want to be when they grow up, Zack Zage goes all out. To his dismay, his precocious dreams are met with less than glowing enthusiasm. Children will love this story about an ambitious little kid with big dreams. AMBITION'S NOT AN AWFUL WORD will have you and your kids howling. The illustrations by Adam Watkins are fabulous. And, the glossary is unforgettably funny. It is a gift to all the parents who have struggled to stay awake while reading a bedtime story to the kids. Ambition is one of the most important traits you can encourage in a child. It is the beginning of everything they will accomplish in life. This very humorous story will make it clear how important it is to encourage children to explore their futures. What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey have in common? They were all normal kids with big ambitions. While their level of success is not guaranteed in life, it is virtually impossible without loads of encouragement. AMBITION'S NOT AN AWFUL WORD should be required reading, not just for every child, but for every parent, boss, teacher, and mentor of any stripe. If the parents of Bill or Steve had insisted on an accounting degree or dental school, I would be writing this synopsis on a typewriter. ZACKZAGEOUS - An overwhelming desire to learn, to excel, and to achieve. It takes root during childhood. It is nourished by a parent, teacher, or mentor as well as exposure to the book, AMBITION'S NOT AN AWFUL WORD. Dream it! Believe it! Work hard for it! Achieve it!

I agree the illustrations are excellent, and ambition is definitely something we want to encourage in our children and ourselves. 

The glossary is probably the best part of the book! For example, the definition of "forgotten lore" is "All of the history, knowledge, and beliefs that are no longer remembered. There is a lot of forgotten lore on high school and college campuses."

This book is printed in the US, but unfortunately there is no information on the book jacket or website about green paper or printing processes.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Kids | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 5, 2013

Body Sense: A Higher Standard of in Personal Care with Brittanie's Thyme

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Body Sense makes shopping for natural personal care products very easy. Every product on the website receives low scores from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

Many companies sell products they describe as "natural" or "organic". Some of them are even certified "natural" or "organic" by independent entities. But what do these words really mean? Unfortunately, they are sometimes used too loosely and can be misleading. After all, arsenic and lead are "natural"! At worst, these words can be inadequate proxies for the safety of you and your family. Body Sense sells only products rated by an American non profit organization as having the lowest-hazard potential, on a three-level scale. You will never find a product rated "moderate hazard" or "severe hazard" on our website.

Consumers should know about the possible implications of their daily choices. The importance of a simple decision like which moisturizer to use is magnified when you consider how often you are exposed to the chemicals that may be in it. Do you use moisturizer every day? While a link between cancer and proven carcinogens and other chemicals that are found in many widely available personal care products has not been established, Body Sense believes that consumers shouldn't be forced to take that risk. We believe that given the choice, prudent, informed consumers will opt for a superior product with less chemical risk.

We address this problem by providing a convenient, one-stop shop for all of your personal care needs, and those of your family.


Body Sense sent us a travel set of organic products with a note saying they do not sell the set, but they sell full sizes of the products. When I poked around the website, I could not find them. Hmm, that is a bit odd.

The products in the travel set are from Brittanie's Thyme . None of these products are on the Body Sense site, but I did find the Brittanie's Thyme Mindful Beauty Organic Balancing Toner on Amazon.

All of Brittanie's Thyme products are USDA certified organic, with the exception of our French Green Clay Facial Mask with Organic White Tea, even our bug spray. Our products are also gluten-free by FDA standards.

We produce luxury facial care, cold/sinus relief, and outdoor products while maintaining reasonable prices so you and your family can afford to integrate organic personal care into your lives. Our USDA certification gives you the assurance that Brittanie's Thyme will never "green wash" its products.

Our commitment to Organic Integrity led our being one of the Top Ten Nominees of Green America's "People's Choice Award 2010". We continually strive to source the most environmentally responsible options from ingredients to our PLA labels, our use of renewable energy through our local electricity provider, recycling and composting throughout our manufacturing facility and more.


I do really like how all of the products sold through Body Sense lists the EWG hazard score with the product description. That makes it much easier than going back and forth between whatever site you are ordering from and EWG.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Beauty | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 4, 2013

The Neat Glass: The best way to experience whiskey!

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Do you like to drink whiskey, but the alcohol sometimes gives you a little nose burn? The NEAT Whiskey Glass's unique shape enhances the experience of enjoying your favorite spirits.  Plus it makes you want to swirl like a sophisticated drinker!

Here's a game-changer in the way the heady aromas of fine spirits are enjoyed. Whether you or those on your gift list enjoy Whiskey, Rum, or Tequila, the NEAT glass will dramatically enhance the experience. "The Shape of Flavor" is more than a slogan for this scientifically designed glass. How does it work? The bowl shape enhances evaporation and swirling; the neck shape concentrates aromas, and the rim shape dissipates alcohol away from the nose. When nosing spirits, it's the harsh ethanol aromas that overpower the delicate, fragrant smells of the liquid - the patented shape of the NEAT glass reroutes the ethanol away from the nose, leaving only the sublime enjoyment the distillers had in mind in the first place. An extra bonus with the absence of "alcohol smell" is that many people find they do not need to add that pinch of water to their whiskey to enhance and soften the flavor. The NEAT glass is made in the United States of 100% lead-free Crystalyn(TM) .

What a simple, great idea! I am not a big whiskey, rum, or tequila drinker, so I can't really comment on how well this product does as it promises. I like my organic wine, but maybe with such a cool glass, I might diversify my beverage drinking.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Kitchen | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

March 1, 2013

Chic and Versatile Ju-Ju-Be Earth Leather Be Fabulous Diaper Bag

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Are you looking for a chic and versatile diaper bag this is also animal-friendly? The Ju-Ju-Be Be Fabulous Earth Leather Diaper Bag has every feature you want in a diaper bag. The "earth-friendly" leather give this bag more of the feel of a fashionable bag than a diaper bag, yet it has all the features you would want in a bag for carrying around the essentials for a little one.

- Front mommy pocket holds keys (stretch key fob) and sunglasses (cleans lenses too!) with plenty of room for more!
- Quick reach pocket for cell phone.
- 2 exterior insulated bottle pockets ... with Thinsulate by 3M. Keep it warm? Keep it cold? Sure!
- Unique main zipper closure system makes for easy access.
- Picture pocket to keep photos handy when bragging to friends.
- Detachable and adjustable messenger strap has removable memory foam shoulder pad & can be shortened to tote strap length.
- Optional shoulder straps ... so versatile!
- Inside organization includes 4 gusseted pockets, 3 zippered pockets & lots of wide open space!
- Back pocket works great for diapers and wipes organization.
- Structured bottom with luggage feet.
- AgION Antimicrobial Linings ... kills germs, mold, mildew, fungus, bacteria, and other bad stuff.
- Metal Hardware ... we don't trust any of the cheap plastic stuff.
- Light-Colored Linings ... you can actually see what's inside; it's not just a big black hole in there.
- Machine Washable ... air dry.
- Earth Leather ... an environmentally friendly alternative to animal leather. Luxurious, durable and machine washable!

I could not find any information on the Ju-Ju-Be website or the product tags about the earth leather. Most fake leathers are made of vinyl, which is not eco-friendly or good for your health, and this does not feel like vinyl. I would hope it is made from recycled plastic, but there is no information to support this hope. I also have concerns about anti-microbial linings.  I am not too thrilled about the Teflon fabric protector either. 

Although the features of this bag are really nice, it is extremely expensive at $225!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Baby | Product review

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 28, 2013

Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and other Health Professionals

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From yoga to the power of prayer, Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and other Health Professionals by Kathy Gruver, PHD, LMT explores the connections between body and mind.

If you are a bodyworker or health professional interested in adding mind/body therapies to your practice and your life, this is your book. Learn about the stress response, placebo effect and fundamentals of mind/body communication. You will understand the specific ways these methods can enhance the healing of your clients and learn multitudes of modalities you can add to help more people, increase your income and experience the new paradigm of the mind/body connection.

Gruver "boils down to basics" many techniques that are current, like Emotional Freedom Technique and Rebirthing. Even though this book is designed for body workers, there is a lot you can learn about therapies involved in body mind connections.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Health | Product review | Really Natural Books

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

February 27, 2013

Reduce Cell Phone Radiation with the Bodywell Chip

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It's inevitable. We spend a lot of time on our cell phones. Although these gadgets may make our lives easier, there is concern about the radiation they give off affecting our health.

BodyWell Chip Scientifically Proven to Reduce Negative Effects from Exposure to Cellphone Radiation is especially important to have on your phone if your child uses it. It is a simple chip that adheres to the back of your phone.

THE BODYWELL CHIP IS DESIGNED FOR CELLPHONE USERS OF ALL AGES AND USAGE STYLES: All-Natural: Bodywell is imprinted with all-natural frequencies that counter cell phone radiation. Durable: The Bodywell chip sticks directly to your phone and is designed to last the lifespan of your mobile phone. MobileTek: The Bodywell chip is powered by the proprietary MobileTek technology, which is scientifically proven to reduce exposure to cellphone radiation. Intelligent: Whether your cellphone has full signal or is using max power to find one, your Bodywell chip will provide the appropriate frequency to reduce radiation absorption. The Bodywell chip is scientifically-proven to reduce our constant exposure to cellphone radiation. With the little black chip in place, a blend of frequencies is created that counters cellphone SAR radiation without affecting cell service. This is similar to the effect of noise-canceling headphones, which greatly reduce noise with a form of counter-noise, rendering the disruptive sound neutral.

The Bodywell Chip reduces 77% of radiation.  This is a great, simple idea to offer you protection while still allowing you to enjoy your smartphone. 

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Health | Product review | technology

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

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