Cornucopia Institute’s new toothpaste guide is out!


And just when I think I can’t be any more proud to be an independent Poofy Organics Guide, I AM! Poofy made their top 5 picks. I’m not surprised as it is one of the only USDA certified organic toothpastes on the market, but some other very popular options like Jack N Jill didn’t make the top slot. I thoroughly agree with the report ranking brands like Seventh Generation & Honest Co very poorly. I’m also extremely proud that the Cornucopia Institute is based in my state of WI, they’re an incredible advocacy & watchdog group for the organic industry!

Behind the Dazzling Smile:  Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste, describes how the quality of “natural” toothpastes varies significantly between brands and how these personal oral care products commonly include nonessential ingredients that may be harmful.”


And to shop via my Poofy Organics link: when you purchase using my link your order will ship straight from Poofy to you, and I earn a bit of affiliate income which helps me keep doing what I’m doing. With 500+ products, many of them certified organic, ALL made with the safest ingredients available, by hand in small batches, ethically & with love, you will find all you need for your body & home & then some. I offer 10% off your 1st order via a rebate, just place the order using my link then send me an email to let me know if you want the 10% rebate (towards product total) sent via check or PayPal & it’ll be done!

2 paste options:

AND one of my favorite products: USDA certified organic mouth wash!

And from those links you can just keep on browsing & shopping! Let me know if you have any questions:


**Clay-based toothpaste is not without controversy. I use it for myself & my kids, but would like you to read this to make the best, informed decision for your family:


IF you are not comfortable with the clay, I created my own homemade recipe which receives ammmmmazing reviews, you can read the details here:

Very thorough & disappointing Berkey test results

Before you read the very lengthy & thorough report below, I wanted to share one of several emails I’ve received since 1st sharing our independent (TRULY independent) Berkey test results:

“I just want to thank you for posting your Berkey results/dealings in detail for concerned consumers to read. I’ve been researching this very suspicious company for days now, and you are practically the *only* site to share honest lab test results, instead of a generic and baseless “tastes so good! Berkey must WORK!”

I thought you might like to know that most of the sites that claim to test Berkey are nothing more than shills/Berkey affiliates–the most dishonest being Mark Adams of He claims to run an “independent, third-party laboratory” ( that tested Berkey and other filters. Which of course, can’t be true because he’s an affiliate, and sells Berkey himself. His bogus test results also show a 100% reduction in certain elements. (Which any real scientist will tell you is impossible.)

After tracking down complaints from other consumers, I discovered that the company refuses to annually test their filtration devices, lies about their NSF certification (they’re not listed at, won’t ship to California because of their zero-lead laws, and in at least two claims:



their filters actually tested positive for coliform bacteria.

I feel this is an important issue that deserves more attention, because Berkey is conning thousands of concerned people and parents into believing that they’re drinking safe water–and at a premium. (It’s my opinion that a $300+ water filter should actually work.) And I thank you again for being the only one I could find willing to share their own honest story.

All the Best (And then Some)”



Important note from Catherine, the consumer who is sharing the following with us:

No group sponsored this testing. It was all coordinated and paid for by myself (Catherine).


Also, I delayed sharing these results for a very long time, in hopes that Berkey could correct it or at least to give them a chance to resolve this issue with a refund. However, I am now sharing it since many people are interested in my testing results, process, and extremely poor customer service experience.


Timeline of interactions with Berkey

3/5 Ordered a Berkey Royal plus a stand and 2 fluoride filters (and 2 shower filters). $454.06

3/9 Our Berkey dealer from the group buy notified us that the Royal was on backorder so we needed to upgrade (or downgrade) so we upgraded to an Imperial. $22

3/22 Picked up Berkey system

3/23 Dropped off sample from my tap water and Berkey filtered water to compare fluoride levels. $30

3/24 Received results and fluoride was only reduced 77%, not the 95-99.9% they advertise

3/25 I talked to Daniel from Berkey customer service and he told me to get a pool PH test from Walmart and red food coloring. He told me if the PH is under 6 that it won’t work as efficiently. He said the red food coloring test will show if the black filters are working since they assist with fluoride filtration, not all of it is the fluoride filter. He offered to refund it if we can’t resolve the issue.

3/27 Ordered PH test strips from Amazon since that seemed like it would be more reliable than the pool kit at Target. $10.40

3/28 Bought red food dye from Kroger and realized 1 filter and 3 white plugs were defective. $3


3/29 PH test strips arrived


Ozarka is the left test strip, looks like 5. My tap water are the other 3 test strips. Not a great match but seems closest go 7.

4/1 I called Berkey and spoke to Tiffany and she said they would replace the defective black carbon filter and the white plugs. I just needed to email them proof of purchase. She also said water should be between 5-7 PH for optimum fluoride filtering but I challenged her on that because their website says this. She said their test results say 5-7, so I asked why their FAQ is different and she said it needs to be updated.


4/1 Requested proof of purchase from my dealer.

4/4 Received receipt from my dealer.

4/4 Emailed Daniel from Berkey

Hi Daniel,

I spoke with Tiffany Friday and she said to email you my proof of purchase to get the black carbon filters and white plugs replaced, which failed the red food dye test. These are brand new, I only filled it once before the test. (My PH is 7, by the way.)

Please let me know if you need anything else and advise when the replacements will arrive.

My address is: XXX

Best Regards,

4/5 They emailed me return instructions for the defective parts however they wanted me to pay return shipping. I objected since I had contacted them within 10 days of receiving my product and had been talking to them/ troubleshooting, so they agreed it was an error and they provided a return label.

4/12 Received the replacement parts and re-did the red food dye test and it passed.

4/13 Dropped off the 2nd Berkey sample to re-test the fluoride. $15

4/18 Received the results and it was only a 80% fluoride reduction, hardly any improvement from the original test.

4/19 Email to Daniel:

Hi Daniel,

I received the fluoride test results and the results aren’t much better after replacing the defective black carbon filter and the plugs. I am getting an 80% fluoride reduction.

Based on this, I am considering returning it but wanted to reach out to see if there is any additional trouble shooting to do first.

Thank you,

4/19 Daniel’s response:

Did the test mention the PH level of your water? The reason I ask is because at lower PH levels, the fluoride filters do not work as effectively. Follow this link for an explanation.


If the test did not mention what your PH level is, then a standard pool test kit can tell you what it is.


Thank you,


4/19 My second email to Daniel

Hi Daniel,

Yes, I did this before you sent the replacement carbon filter. The pool test showed PH = 7 so based on the article it is not too low.

Please advise.


4/20 Another email to Daniel (still no response)

Hi Daniel,

I wanted to follow-up to see what you suggest. Is there any test to determine if the fluoride filter is defective? Since one black carbon filter was defective, it makes me wonder about the fluoride filters.


4/20 Daniel’s reply

Once your PH reaches 7 is when it will start experiencing diminishing results for the fluoride filters. The only way to test the effectiveness of a fluoride filter is via a water test.


Thank you,


4/20 My reply to Daniel


Okay and since I did the fluoride test and the fluoride filter is not filtering at your claimed/ advertised level, can you send me replacements so we can see if that’s any better?


4/22 Another reply to Daniel (still no response)

Hi Daniel,

I wanted to check back with you. Since 1 carbon filter was damaged in shipping or defective from production, couldn’t one of both of the fluoride filters be damaged/ defective too??


4/25 Daniel’s reply

It is highly unlikely that the fluoride filters are damaged, merely that they are experiencing diminished effectiveness due to your PH balance. Due to this, replacing the product is not advisable as it would not fix the problem, since the issue is with the PH balance of the water.


Thank you,


4/25 My reply to Daniel


Can you tell me why it’s highly unlikely? I don’t understand why the black carbon filter could be defective but not the fluoride filter?


4/26 Daniel’s reply

It is possible, however it is more likely that the issue is caused by the PH level rather than the filter actually failing.


5/4 Dropped off a tap water sample to test my PH. $15

5/4 My reply to Daniel


To confirm my pH level, I dropped off a sample today to the local health department since that will be more accurate than the home DIY color match test that I got. I will update you once the results come back.

Also, please review these videos, based on feedback I’ve gotten from other Berkey owners, the fluoride filter that is going at constant stream doesn’t seem right. They said it should be filtering, which takes some time. The carbon filters seem to be at an even speed.

Please advise.

5/6 Daniel’s reply

It is not abnormal for filters to flow at different rates, as it can vary greatly depending on the specific composition of the media within both the Black Berkey Elements and the Fluoride Filters.


Thank you,

5/6 My reply to Daniel

Hi Daniel,


That’s interesting.


I’d like to return my Berkey and filters. I got the result back and my tap water PH is 7.82. When I purchased it, that was within the range according to your site (6-8), but now you’ve changed it to 5-7 for some reason. This seems strange (especially since my health department says 6.5-8.5 is normal so you have a very narrow range for what your filters work for, 6-6.5 PH).


Please let me know the process.

5/9 Daniel’s reply

It looks like your purchase was made through one of our authorized distributors, so you will need to contact your distributor to return your product, as the transaction was made through them.


Thank you,


5/10 Requested refund from our Berkey dealer. (She mentioned – I haven’t heard back from them yet, my original rep left, so all her accounts are being shared with the remaining 2 account reps and they are so swamped they said to me yesterday.)

5/31 Still no response from Berkey…

6//1 I sent this summary to my Berkey dealer in hopes that it will help progress this case.

6/2 My Berkey dealer sent the summary to them. They said they will review everything and be back in touch.

6/7 Still no response from Berkey… my dealer said “I have emailed AND called them again today, no one answered so I left another voice message. Part of the problem is I don’t have an account rep right now, my former rep left the company and no one is handling my account, like it seems like I am being ignored, and I am getting very impatient and irritated by there lack of response and the time it is taking them to get things figured out.”


So I emailed Daniel myself

It has been a month since I requested the refund of my Berkey system. I reached out to the distributor and provided very detailed information of our conversations/ troubleshooting/ testing. She said her account rep left the company and that she hasn’t heard back from you all despite her continued efforts.

Please let me know what is still needed for this return. This seems unacceptable and I am disappointed in the lack of customer service. When I talked to you the first time, just 3 days after getting my Berkey, you assured me a refund if we couldn’t resolve the issue. I don’t understand why you aren’t following through on that.

6/8 Daniel’s reply

It is my understanding that you wish to return the product. Since we are the manufacturer, and not the company which you purchased your product from, we cannot accept your return as it must be done through that company. As the manufacturer we cover manufacturing faults, but we cannot cover returns on orders not done directly through us.

If you have any questions, here is a link our returns/warranty policies.

6/8 My reply to Daniel

Right, you told me to go through the distributor and I did, a month ago. Why won’t you respond to her so we can all move forward?

6/8 Daniel’s reply

The return is processed entirely through the dealer, meaning they don’t need our permission or knowledge to process or not process your return. That being said, please notify me which dealer you are using and I may contact their temporary account manager so they can confer with them.

6/8 My dealer said she FINALLY was able to speak to her new rep. She sent him my summary and he will review it and get back to her about what type of refund they will offer. He said that theirs is a chance they’ll take a 20% restocking fee but with my documentation she is hopeful they will provide a full refund.

6/9 My dealer said that they are moving the claim to the claims department from her account rep.

6/14 My dealer received this email

Upon approval, the returns department will issue you full store credit on the items purchased except on the Berkey base (there will be a 20% restocking fee on this). Also, you or the customer will have to send back the entire system to our location before we apply this store credit.


Please call me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for choosing Berkey.

Warmest Regards,


… A store credit is definitely not what I want so she replied to them informing them that doesn’t help… This story will be updated once we finally resolve this.

6/15 My dealer received this email

I apologize for the mix up in the earlier email. The breakdown I gave you was an optimistic resolution to the return request. However, based on the return policy, your return request will be rejected.

NMCL does not allow for return based on buyers’ remorse. We do handle returns for incorrect, missing or damaged items. If a client decides the system does not work to their satisfaction this would be classified under buyers’ remorse. A return such as this is regrettable but it is the cost of doing business.




I would also point out that PF-2s are Fluoride Reduction filters. We do not make any claims that PF-2s remove all Fluoride. Please call me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for choosing Berkey.

Warmest Regards,



This is so strange that they deny making claims, check out their Facebook page. (They did scrub their website of any claims but other owners and dealers have said they have seen claims made too.)




I spent $365.21 on a Berkey system that I can’t use because it doesn’t filter fluoride sufficiently and it cost $73.40 (not including tolls and gas, 130 miles) for testing and troubleshooting. I would not have purchased this if their website had been correct and clear up front about the PH limitations. I’m frustrated by the false advertising (changing the optimum PH from 7 to 5, after I told them my results) and then their extreme lack of response for my refund request.



Now their website has been updated to show the new PH requirements.


The PF-2 test results say “Note that the material is most efficient between a PH of 5 and 7 with PH=5 preferred.” However PH 5 is acidic and I can’t imagine any tap water being that.


Also, their website mentions that initially their carbon filters help a bit with fluoride reduction, see here, which means that my results could have been a bit inflated and with continued use, the fluoride reduction could be even lower. That is why these test results show a 99.9% reduction in fluoride, without even using the fluoride filter.



My results




What should you do?

If you have Berkey filter results to share, email me at

If you haven’t tested yet, I’d suggest doing the red food dye test first to ensure you don’t have any defective or incorrect installed pieces to your system. This is also cheaper to do up front rather than having to repeat the fluoride testing.

If you are considering buying a Berkey system and are concerned about fluoride elimination, test your PH first, this should be ~$10 at your local health department. This will determine if you are within the recommended PH range by Berkey for optimal fluoride reduction results. If you are not within that range, the Berkey with fluoride filters will reduce fluoride but will likely not be 95-99.9%. If you are not within their suggested PH range, you may want to consider an RO system.

UPDATE 6/30/16: So I wanted to give an update that after submitting the Better Business Bureau claim,  Berkey had a change of heart (6.5 weeks after my request for a refund). They agreed to issue a store credit to my dealer who had a current buy going, which she started a while back. She was ready to be done with it so she closed it early and was able to issue me a refund back through PayPal. So I’m glad to finally have a refund, though I wish they had better customer service from the start.

the 2 original tests that also were disappointing:

Review of the “Good Duck”



(above photo taken from website)

I want to start out by saying: what I do will never get old. Every day new people join my group & bring new knowledge to the conversation. I knew of no made in USA rubber ducky to recommend in my “safe bath toys” album (which is very, very small: One day, “Good Ducks” came up when someone asked about safe bath toys. It’s amazing how something that is not a big deal to many, is a big deal to me. I get really, really excited when I find out about a company A: exclusively offering a made in USA option for this category where no other options exist and B: bringing back something that started here, went overseas and now is back. I was sent a “Good Duck”, it’s your typical-looking rubber ducky design. This is in contrast to their “CelebriDucks ” which are super cute & popular and modeled after celebrities. The Good Duck is $11.99

The benefits of this duck are:

100% made in America! PVC Free – Phthalate Free – BPA Free Medical and Food Grade Materials.

One of the safest rubber ducks for babies to teethe on

Completely sealed to keep out water so never any mold issues

Soft to the touch

Floats upright


Paint Free

Latex Free


So what ARE they made of:  “these ducks are age graded to 0 using FDA approved food and medical grade materials… could virtually eat them!…. Technically, it would be call a synthetic rubber…..or TPR….TPE…..using medical and food grade resins….nothing safer!… “

ABOUT THE COMPANY: With a desire to create some of the safest rubber ducks in the world, CelebriDucks has just released their new ground breaking Good Ducks, now some of their most popular products and one of the top baby shower gifts on the market. It is considered by many the only rubber duck that a baby should ever teethe on and all manufacturing, design, and 100% of the materials are made in the USA.  It is PVC Free, Phthalate Free, and BPA Free using the highest grade medical materials available and comes in a very cute gift box in yellow, pink, and blue. The link below has pictures of both the ducks and babies teething on them. Babies absolutely love them.

The rubber duck was actually an original American invention before the whole industry moved overseas. CelebriDucks is pleased to lead the migration of The Rubber Duck industry back home to The United States. At you can read more and view all of their limited edition Celebrity Rubber Ducks that were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly. They have sold millions of their products over the years and are now considered the top custom duck manufacturer in the world.

Craig Wolfe, CelebriDucks president remarked, “We consider The Good Duck our highest achievement as no other country has been able to do what we have done. The response to this product has been nothing less than amazing. Through listening to Mommy Bloggers we became convinced that there were no rubber ducks on the market which were safe enough for very young children to put in their mouths. None of the ducks were made from tested food grade and medical grade materials. Mothers complained that even the PVC free ducks had questionable materials which smelled like “chemicals,” had peeling paint, did not float upright, and were much too hard for babies. Parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on cribs, clothing, toys, etc. for their new born and are more than willing to spend a few dollars extra for a toy that their baby will have in their mouth day and night.” Mothers also complained that the natural latex ducks on the market caused allergies, degraded over time, took on water, and were often found to have black mold growing inside. Finally the moms did not trust the integrity of overseas manufacturing facilities.  Since the folks at CelebriDucks always listen to our Mothers, we created The Good Ducks to address all these concerns.”


The thing that I love the most about Craig, and all other made in USA manufacturing devotees I’ve met over the years, is their determination and pride at being able to make their dream into a reality! I love that a dream can still become reality, with enough hard work & determination! The Mom that told me about these duckies for the 1st time (then several others chimed in that they also had a ducky from this company) let me know that her daughter loves her ducky so much, that she takes it everywhere she goes, even sleeping with it. So the Mama was going to be placing an order for another ducky which would be devoted to the bath tub only. Craig also shared the same story with me, he was very happy & proud to know that his target audience was enjoying his product. He, and all others, take a big risk in bringing their product into production. My kiddos are definitely enjoying their duck. They take a bath every other night generally, and ducky has been a part of that bath since it arrived.  From Craig: “in terms of risks….you know I could spend all the money necessary, but what if my end user did not like our product….the babies!  What if they did not like the look or feel of our product…it’s not like we could do market research to ask them, eh.  That’s why it has been so amazing to see the response from the actual babies who LOVE them…..makes it all so worthwhile!!!!” I couldn’t help but chuckle at his sign off: may the bath be with you!


I hope you’ll support this made in USA ducky for your kiddos bath time fun. If they’re older & past the rubber ducky stage of their life, they’d made an excellent gift!!






Origin: FINALLY, a made in USA stainless steel baby spoon!


(above photo taken from Origin website)

Review of a stainless steel baby spoon,  mostly made in Waukesha, WI (with components made in MN)!! As most of you know, finding anything stainless steel AND made, not just designed, in the USA is very, very tough. It’s one area that I will compromise my made in USA mission as I do feel stainless is a great option when glass (my 1st choice) isn’t an option AND the vendor conducts 3rd party testing to make sure the stainless is the real deal (free of heavy metals). So of course I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to pass along the great news that there finally is a made in USA option for this one category at least! Most of us take the 1st utensils our babe’s will eat from very seriously! I was sent this to review before it’s even available to purchase, but that date is coming up very soon:

About this spoon: “BPS, BPA, phthalates…it seems like every month there’s something else to avoid. How do you know what you’re using is safe? The fact is that when it comes to food contact, some materials are just better than others. Plastic and silicone may be fine when new, but after normal washing and use, dishwasher heat cycles and scratches, are they still hygienic? Is the material breaking down and becoming part of the meal?  Is today’s “safe” plastic tomorrow’s material to avoid? The Origin Baby Spoon is made of food-grade, 316 (18/10) stainless steel. This material is time tested and universally recognized as safe for food contact and preparation.  It’s not just BPA free, its everything free – and it won’t add little bits of plastic to your baby’s meal or emerge from the dishwasher looking strange.”


(above photo taken from Origin website)

There is some great info in this link as to why the spoon was designed as it was:

No, this spoon is not cheap at $33, but I assure you, they did not randomly choose that amount. That is the cost of bringing a stainless steel spoon made in the USA to market, and that is why you don’t see many such offerings. I know may not be able to swallow that price tag, but I do know that many of you can, and will, to show your support with your purchase of this product. We vote with our dollars, and if enough people can vote to show support for products like this, we will see more of them. 1st baby spoons turn into an heirloom item for many families. Will a plastic spoon be handed down from generation to generation? No. But this one surely can, and will be!

I will remind y’all when this has officially launched in the coming weeks, and hope this company meets great success so they can bring more products to the market!!

Just B: Made in USA Board Book Review


Here’s the message I received from Melody, the Mama behind the book: “Thank you for providing a website dedicated to safe products for children made in the USA.  When my son was born I was very disappointed that almost all of the board books we purchased were manufactured and printed in China.  Thankfully one day while playing with my son, I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment and was inspired to write a board book and have it manufactured and printed in the USA.” That’s one thing I love about the people who bring a made in USA product into a reality. They had an ‘ah-ha’ moment one day, and they made that moment into a reality, for the benefit of all of us who hold similar values!

You can see the pdf of the covers here: cover

About the book: “Just B was created with those short attention spans in mind. The illustrations are bright, simple, and each page displays one object a baby may recognize on a daily basis, all that begin with the letter “B”. It’s a perfect first book to add to your baby’s library. Just B is printed in the United States by Pint Size Productions in Sanborn, New York. Every product complies with the CPSIA and ASTM safety testing requirements to ensure everything is safe in those adorable little hands.”

I agree, it is a perfect book for the youngest kiddos who are just beginning to be able to identify the world around them. It has very bright, bold pages with familiar objects for most babe’s. My 3 year old really enjoys being able to name objects, she really likes this book a lot! And of course, I absolutely love knowing that hard work & determination led to it being printed in NY, not China.

About Melody: “One day while playing with different consonants with my 6 month old son, I noticed many items he interacted with the first few months of life began with the letter “B”. I believed “B” was a great consonant to work with because it was easy for many babies to pronounce. It was then that I thought a great first book for babies would be one with illustrations of all the “B” items. Since then, one of my son’s favorite things to say is “Bah Bah Bah”. Enjoy and have fun making connections in the never ending learning process with your little ones. I am a mom to my amazing son, Garrison; wife to my wonderful husband, Rick; an avid yogi and planet earth lover. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and am presently writing my second children’s book inspired by my family and love of nature.”

I hope you’ll agree that supporting small businesses dedicated to keeping production of their product here in the USA is worth your vote with a purchase. This would be a great gift for a new Mom if you kiddos are past this stage of life. Thank you!

It’s available on Amazon for $7.95:

And here’s her Fb page, where her most recent post was giving a shout out to me after she found my site!



Homemade Betty Product Review

Homemade Betty Product Review by page co-admin Jolene Marty

I was given the opportunity to review two products from Homemade Betty, a new small business that makes great products with fabulous ingredients! I was able to sample their Ink Slinger Balm – Tattoo Balm, and their Super Green Face Mask.

First, the company is owned by a really nice lady named Rebecca and she hand makes organic, vegan & fair trade skin care products. When asked about her process she has this to say:

“I started with making a body butter for my son who developed eczema. After perfecting the process, I asked, what else can I replace that we have? I started making everything that we used in our household! Everything that I sell has been tested on me & my family! I also try to make little impact on my carbon footprint as much as possible. I only make products when they are ordered, I only use glass jars that can be recycled or up-cycled. I also reuse all the packing noodles that are shipped to me to use for my customers. I try to make a full circle as much as possible. I am currently in the process of getting my bunny certificate and getting my EWG cert. I have also started the process to getting my USDA organic cert. but I see that happening in a year or two. Ninety-nine percent of my ingredients coming in are certified organic from either the USDA or Oregon Tilth. Plus, my products don’t have more than 5-6 ingredients in them.”

As you can see this is a wonderful company, that offers full transparency on their products, and are made to order. I really admire their goals of not only producing organic, vegan, and fair trade products, but also in trying to leave as small of a footprint as possible.

Now I know you are curious how much I liked the goodies I was sent, so on to the good stuff!



The Super Green Face Mask came in a 4oz mason jar with a little wooden spoon attached so I could easily scoop the green powder into my hands. Of course it is made with safe and simple ingredients (Organic Bentonite Calcium rich clay & Organic Matcha Sweet Green Tea Powder) that also work well together. The powder was very easy to mix and apply. It also did not over dry my face, like most masks do. A little goes a long way with this powder so the 4 oz mason jar will last you a nice long time. I have used this a handful of times already and each time, it helped the smoothness of my face as well as the tone. It also helped to clear up some blemishes that were being stubborn in addition to some redness that was being very stubborn on my pale face. If you already have dry skin, or combination skin, this is your perfect match!


Ok guys let’s talk about Ink Slinger Balm for a minute. I chose to review this one because I myself, as well as a lot of our readers, have tattoos. Mine tend to fade pretty quickly and when I try to ‘freshen’ them up a bit with lotions or creams, it is usually very, very temporary and then the older ones go back to looking really faded. I was truly impressed with this for tattoo care because it really did freshen up my ink and for much longer than anything I had tried before. I am applying in the morning and night and see a huge difference in my newest as well as my oldest one from over a decade ago. As a surprise test, since they also advertise that you can use it on freshly healing tattoos, I gave some to my father who happened to stop by my house with a fresh tattoo only a few days after I received my box of goodies from Homemade Betty! I scooped him some in a new mason jar and sent him on his way with the instructions of: use this instead of that junk they tell you to use from the tattoo shop! And he did! He told me this from using it, “I really liked using the cream you gave me. It soothed it and felt much nicer on my skin that what I was using. It also healed perfectly.” He told me next time he plans on getting a tattoo he will let me know so I can order some more!

There is one other use that I want to talk about for Ink Slinger Balm. Many of you know that my oldest, who is 10, suffers from a LOT of allergies and some pretty bad eczema. Lately the backs of his knees have been getting out of control. They itch, and sting, and hurt like crazy. The stuff we had been using we had just ran out of, and I thought that because the Ink Slinger Balm had some seriously amazing ingredients (Organic Raw Shea Butter, Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil, & Organic Baobab Oil) I decided why not give it a go on his legs. I applied the balm to the backs of his legs for three nights in a row and as you can see…it’s a little miracle worker. By the 5th night of applying it, there was no trace of his eczema at all. He was so happy to not be suffering, he has now requested this be his go to. He has been having horribly chapped lips as well. So of course we had him use it on his lips and they are so much better.

As you can tell it’s not JUST for tattoos. It is this mama’s little miracle worker and I rarely find a product I am so incredibly in love with but, this one for sure makes it to the top!


Homemade Betty makes a plethora of great products with simple and nourishing ingredients. She is easy to get a hold of for questions and has a passion for making remarkable skin care products. She even offers bamboo toothbrushes in addition to her sunscreen, toothpaste, men’s care line, body butters, and a ton more! Be sure to go take a peek at her website and then go like and follow her on her social media!

Twitter: @HomemadeB

Bannor Toys: Inspired Toys for Inspired Kids Review

It’s been a couple of years since I 1st did a review of Bannor Toys: Inspired Toys for Inspired Kids from my neighbors to the East in Iowa. At that time they had a pretty small, basic line, they were just getting started & sent me a couple of cars to review which you can read about below. Recently Stacy Bannor reached out to me to see if I’d like to update my review which of course I was thrilled to take her up on. She gave me a very generous gift certificate so I could pick out my own goodies which is always fun! They have added a LOT in the last couple of years, you can find these categories: rattles, plush gift sets, wooden toys, teethers, puzzles, matching games, learning tiles, blocks & Easter toys. I just love the assortment & of course that they’re wooden, battery-free, leaving your child to use their imagination to no end!

Since it was just a couple weeks before my Son’s 5th Birthday as well as Easter I headed for their Easter category 1st. I picked out 4 personalized bunny wands for my kiddos as well as my niece & nephew. They’re adorable & my kiddos needed some wands to go with their superhero capes they love to chase each other around in. The Easter matching toy is a fun game for my 3 year old, it has several different Eastery designs to match up. To make it more challenging you can flip them upside down to make it into a memory game.

PUZZLES are one of my absolute all-time favorite toys. We have a variety of them & I was so happy to pick up a few more to add to our collection. I love that these are 2-sided, so you get 2 puzzles in 1! We have the fairy tale as well as the monkey & lion, for $14 ea, I think these are steals!  Thankfully there’s a tile included to show you what they’re supposed to look like, as I was struggling myself, since they’re 2-sided they really aren’t easy, which is great for your kiddo who is a bit older. They’re fun, challenging, entertaining, all you want in a toy! I got the alphabet learning tiles which are perfect for my year old working on learning her alphabet. Each tile has the letter in upper & lower case one one side, and the flip has a photo of an object beginning with that letter, these are $28. I got the sight words matching game for my Son as well as my Niece. I’m working on reading skills with my 5 year old, these are great- $26. Half of the round tiles have photos, the other half words so you work to match them up. We have a basket full of our cloth bags from Bannor Toys with these puzzles & matching games inside, and we grab one, sit down & work on them together.


Single tile next to & above puzzles shows what’s on the flip side. I couldn’t find the Easter matching game when I took the above photo, of course just as soon as I packed the above up, I found the Easter matching tiles, they are below:


I’ve followed Bannor Toys Facebook page for a couple of years now, and have witnessed both their family & their business grow. Especially at Holiday time, a crazy time of year for all retailers, you really get an impression of what it’s like to be a small, truly family-run business. You’ll see pics of their kiddos at work with them, playing in a play area of the shop while Mom and/or Dad sand down or cut some toys. You’ll see posts from midnight by Stacy, after her kiddos are in bed & she’s working on filling orders. There’s something very special to me about knowing where & whom my dollars are going to support. I work hard for my money, and I know they do too so I feel great about purchasing from them, and recommending them to you!

Here are some facts from their website:

Where are your Toys Made? 

All of our wooden toys are 100% made here in the United States.  Our workshop is in our hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.  All of our lumber is sourced from Iowa and the Midwest.  The few parts that we do not make ourselves such as wood rings are made by a company in Texas, Illinois, South Dakota, and Maine.


Are your Toys Really Organic?

Yes, our wood is natural, we do not stain it.  We use Maple, Cherry, and Walnut woods and their natural colors.  Our finish is an organic beeswax and flaxseed oil mixture that is all natural and nontoxic so it is the perfect finish for baby’s mouth.  The oil brings out the color and the beeswax provides durability.  Our glue and paint are organic as well made from a company in the United States.  They are 100% safe, lead free, no VOC’s, and non-toxic. Our teethers are left “naked”, there is no finish on them.


What about Shipping Costs? 

Shipping is based on the weight of your order, for both domestic and international orders. For a domestic order, fill your cart up with as many toys as you want, your shipping will never go above $6.99 (excludes the purchase of large/oversized items like the toy boxs).  There is free US shipping on orders of $75 or more.  Shipping outside of the US is charged at cost, we know shipping is expensive overseas, we try hard to keep it low and will refund you if there is an overage of more than $2 for international shipping.  We have international shipping set up to Canada, Australia, and the UK.  If you are anywhere else please email us so we can set up a custom listing with the correct shipping.

How is Bannor Toys Eco-Friendly or Green? 

When we say we are eco-conscious we mean it.  Our number one raw material is wood.  We order our lumber from a company that provides FSC certified wood which means the wood is responsibly harvested and replanted.  We also have a zero waste policy with our wood.  We use every bit that we can for our toys and we use the small left over scraps to heat the workshop in the winter.  We even use the saw dust in our compost pile.  That’s right, we have a huge compost pile and a large family garden with rain barrels growing right outside the west side of the workshop.  In addition to using wood to heat the shop, we have fully insulated the shop to cut down on utilities and we also installed an insulated shop door this year as well.  We use energy efficient lighting and other systems in the shop where possible as well.  Besides the wood, we use environmentally friendly finishes, adhesives, and supplies as well.


Please follow this link to see some photos of them and read a great letter from each of them. Really, truly, your money is going family-to-family when you purchase from them:

I hope you’ll take a look at their website to view their lovely products, and there’s a tab to sign up for their newsletter where you’ll be the 1st to learn of new products, sales, etc. I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts on this great family making toys in the Midwest of our great country. When I started my mission to find made in USA products 4 years ago, this was exactly what I had in mind!

My original review from wow, May 3 2013, 3 years ago to the very day, I had no idea!!!


Bannor Toys is  one of the toy companies on my Made in the USA safe toy list. One thing I really like about doing reviews is it gives me an opportunity to learn more about the business and the products they make. Here’s a little bit about their family-owned & operated business located in my neighboring state of Iowa.

Bannor Toys is a small family-owned company that believes in education and development through quality, safe, and fun toys. Where do they get their wood: “All of our products are made in IowaAll of our wood is bought from two local lumber yards.  Both of the companies we buy from offer FSC certified domestic hardwoods (maple, walnut, oak, cherry, etc.)  We do buy a small amount of exotic wood (purple heart, yellow heart, etc.) for our “Woods of the World” building blocks and a few other toys.  We buy our exotic wood from the same two local companies that we buy the domestic wood from.  Most of our exotic wood is grown in forests in Central and South America.  We have been assured it is harvested and replanted responsibly. None of our products are made in China, me and my wife personally build every single item we sell here in Des Moines, Iowa.  None of our wood comes from China, and 95% of the toys we build use domestic woods grown and responsibly harvested in the U.S. All of our wood is hand-picked one board at a time to ensure quality and all of our finishes and paints are non-toxic and safe to be handled by children. Every product is inspected for safety. We believe that wooden toys are not only beautiful in any home; they also stimulate a child’s imagination. Their fabric rattle balls are handmade with a variety of fabrics including vintage chenile, broadcloth, flannel, minky and other textures that babies and kids love.

As with several other small family-run businesses I’ve done reviews for, these generous entrepreneurs donate a portion of every, single purchase to children’s charities such as Toys for Tots, and the Make a Wish Foundation! I love the spirit of giving back that I’ve encountered!

They sent me the 2 super cute cars that you can see in the attached photo, which arrived in a very cute fabric bag that can be used for storage or travel. My toddler (who recently turned 2) has had lots of fun pushing these cars around the house, and now that Spring has arrived, they’ve made it outside to the driveway with us. They are ffinished with Bannor Toys own beeswax and flaxseed oil finish, which is 100% organic and 100% non-toxic and it looks beautiful. You are able to choose between walnut, maple or cherry wood. These cars are very well-made & durable, and I have no doubt they’ll be around for many years for my next child to play with, and then to pass on to another family when we’re done with them! I absolutely love simple toys such as these that do exactly what this business has set out to do: help stimulate development through quality, safe, and fun toys.

They don’t have a huge line, but as I always state: quality over quantity is what’s important, and there surely is something for every babe/toddler! Categories of offerings include: Wooden Toys (several different stackers, a balancer, driving set, building & alphabet blocks ranging from $28-$45), Cars & Trucks (several makes & models ranging from $12-$38 for a set of 4), Baby Rattles (several great wooden ones, and several soft balls, ranging $10-$23 for a set of 2 balls), Block Sets with several great options (ranging $15-$45), Baby Gift Sets (love this category, great for your registry $24-$50) and Maple Teethers in many cute shapes & sizes ($12).

Please visit their website & FB pages for more info and to browse these quality, hand-crafted products yourself:



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