FINALLY, a safe dish soap that actually works!!

I have a VERY, VERY exciting announcement to make, one I’ve been waiting to make for quite some time–no, I didn’t have my baby yet Poofy Organics has perfected a dish soap!!!!! They had sent me a trial version a few months ago & it just wasn’t perfect. I can do without bubbles/lather in just about anything, but for some reason can’t do without them for dishes. Kristina played around with the recipe, sent me a sample last week, and it’s FABULOUS!!! A safe, effective dish soap is one of the most FAQ I get on this page, and I’ve been very frustrated with the options, even the safest ones have ingredients of concern. The ingredients in this are fabulous, and it works SO well.
The 1st time I tried it was with a tiny sink of dishes, just to see how it worked. I did the dishes, went outside for an hour or more, and came back & there were still bubbles in the sink! Then I let the dishes build up to the point where I had 2 sinks full and put it to the test again, the bubbles lasted through the whole load, and it was a pretty greasy load too! Last night hubby did dishes & without me asking for feedback he said “Wow, this stuff gets them squeaky clean”, and it really, really did. The dishes were so clean, no leftover grease or grime that I’ve experienced with some of the more eco-friendly brands I’ve tried. I cannot recommend this highly enough, and hope many of you are as excited as I am.
Ingredients: Ingredients: Purified Water, Saponified Organic Oils of Coconut, Olive & Jojoba, Decyl Polyglucose ( EWG rating of 0!), Organic Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Xanthan Gum (EWG rating of 0), Organic Aloe Vera, Organic Essential oils of Lemon & Rosemary, rosemary extract. Price=$10.00/16 oz. bottle. Many brands say just use a tiny amount, but I always find myself squirting quite a bit in for desired effect, but you honestly just need a little squirt of this stuff. AND, it has a wonderful, clean, fresh scent!
 The Xanthan gum and Decyl Polyglucose are from non-gmo corn and the glycerine is USDA organic from soy.
Fb thread with comments & questions:

Review of Josiah’s Oils products


Review of Josiah’s Oils products, based in Lancaster Pennsylvania —As all of us have different expectations, of course results will vary. These are my experiences with these products, and I don’t expect any product to satisfy 100% of the people who try it.

A little background on this business  “Our products are hand-made for our family & yours! My company is named after my son. Josiah is a precious little boy who happens to have Down syndrome.  Josiah abounds with unconditional love!  Essential oils and green-living have benefited Josiah so much that one of our goals is to educate families about our journey into holistic health. So if you have questions: ask away! A portion of our profits will assist children with special needs (a common theme I’ve seen among many of the small, WAH family ventures I’ve done reviews for is they share a spirit of donating back to organizations of importance to them!). Another tidbit I thought several of you may appreciate is that the entrepreneur behind Josiah’s Oils is a homeschooling Mama of 5!! There are so many reasons that supporting small businesses is great, knowing your money is going to help support a WAHM making great, safe, effective products is definitely one of them!

Preservatives are one of my biggest ingredients of concern in any product. I even avoid using & recommending Sodium Benzoate, a preservative many consider mild & have no hesitation putting on their skin. I will always, always use an alternative that doesn’t include a preservative if one exists, and thankfully they do exist in just about every category imaginable. How does Josiah’s Oils avoid the use of preservatives? I love reading statement such as the following: “We make every product to-order – just for you nothing is sitting on a shelf aging! That way we can promise that your lotion is FREE of un-natural preservatives! Take care of your body – start with your skin!” All products contain numerous organic ingredients.  I also love notes such as this: “Don’t see what you need?  We will be happy to whip up a custom blend JUST FOR YOU!  Just e-mail us!”

I was sent 3 products to sample: a travel-size Insect Away & Hand Sanitizer, and a full-size tube of Sun Stick. A couple of things I really love about Josiah’s Oils website is you’ll find several links to Research Pages and Safety Sheets which share important information regarding the use of an ingredient (effectiveness of Essential Oils), or why it’s important to avoid other ingredients (DEET, Triclosan, etc.). I also love that there are highly concentrated refills available for many of the products such as the hand sanitizer, insect spray and more. Add 10-12 drops of these concentrated oils per ounce of water in a spray bottle & you have a whole new batch! This is both an eco-friendly, and budget-friendly solution that I love to see businesses offer!

Hand sanitizer: Prices vary from $5.65 for 2 oz. travel size- $12.50 for the 6 oz. X-large, with one option in-between. The travel-size is perfect for the purse or diaper bag, and while I always prefer washing my hands to using a sanitizer it’s great to have a safe, effective product on hand for those times when a sink & soap are not nearby. It sprays a very nice fine mist, smells of cinnamon & clove with a hint of lemon are what stand out to me. The website includes an extensive list of ideas for using this sanitizer other than your hands (high chairs, shopping carts, etc). Sanitizer ingredients: “Our Powerful Essential Oils Mold/Virus/Bacteria Killing Blend: Purified, distilled water, Aloe, Organic  Cinnamon [leaf & bark], Rosemary, Lemon & Clove oils.   A tidbit I found informative & interesting: “Also, essential oils do not kill the “good” bacteria we need in our bodies.”

Insect away: Price varies from $4.50 for the travel-size to $12.60 for the X-Large, with a size in-between. AND, this product is on sale: 10% off on their website through the month of June. Ingredients:  ALL-Natural Insect Away Oil made from our tried-and-true Essential Oils Blend recipe including organic peppermint, lemongrass, cedar wood, citronella, eucalyptus & rose geranium!  We live on the banks of a river & have a variety of pesky insects. The gnats have been among the worst offenders thus far, and the mosquitos have just started to show themselves in the evening hours. The 1st time we used this I sprayed my toddler down, sent him out with dada & told him to report back in a few minutes. They came in and Dada said, he got bit immediately and I asked where & he said on his cheek, which was the only place I didn’t put it! I rubbed some on my hands & applied it to his face & sprayed his neck & sent them back out & he had no more new bites! It has also been effective against the gnats, which are more of an annoyance than anything! It produces a very nice, fine mist. Cedarwood & eucalyptus are the scents that stand out the most to me.   Sun Stick- SPF 30. $14.99/ 4 oz. solid tube. Also available in 2 sizes is a Sunny Day Lotion (SPF 30) and pocket-sized (lip balm size) tubes of the Sun Stick which come in a pack of 3 (great to keep in purse or diaper bag). Ingredients: Active: Zinc Oxide (22%, non-nanoparticle – SPF 30) Inactive: Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, Grape Seed &  Olive Oil, Vitamin E & Beeswax. I like that the Sun Stick comes in a deodorant tube, as it makes for easy application. The 1st thing that surprised me about this product is although it is white like all sunscreens, it goes on completely clear. It has a slightly similar scent to the Insect Away, I can’t really pinpoint anything in particular, but it has a pleasant smell.  I have used this on my toddler several times on his ears, neck & face and once on his arms, back & chest, and not during the time of day when the sun is most intense as it’s his nap time, but I can say he didn’t turn the slightest shade of pink. He actually enjoyed me applying this to him, it seemed like it felt good especially going on his arms, he said “mama do more” vs. attempting to rub in a traditional more liquidy sunscreen that you squirt from a tube, which always is a slight struggle I’m sure many of you can related to. It rubs on very easily like a deodorant, and is not all that greasy, it’s quite convenient! From the website: “How does our NON-Nano particle Zinc work without these harmful chemicals? Our Zinc Oxide works as a physical block – it sits on the skin’s surface; it is NOT absorbed into the skin. In this case, light is either absorbed into sunblock material or reflected away from the skin, similar to a mirror or aluminum foil….Zinc Oxide should be reapplied often at regular intervals to provide continued protection if you’re spending time out in the sun – being especially cautious around the sea or pool and between 10 and 2 pm when the sun is the most intense.”

UPDATE (8/30/13)- SHAMPOO Just in time for the1st buying club order! Shampoo is one of my most frequently asked questions, so I’m so happy to have another safe, effective solution to offer you. I have only used this shampoo a couple of times, as it is a brand new offering by Josiah’s Oils, but I have no hesitations recommending it. It produces a decent lather, not a super lather, but it definitely does lather. I only wash my hair once or twice a week, so it’s a bit greasy when I do wash it. I find with most shampoos the lather/bubbles kind of die once they get in my hair, so I have a hard time telling if it’s the shampoo or my hair/water type. I didn’t follow up with my normal spray-in detangler to see how it felt without it, and I really didn’t need it. The apple cider vinegar is a natural conditioner. I also love that it has sea salt in it. My hair has never felt as healthy as it does after a swim in the ocean, which helps strip any build-up you might have. It smells great, and my hair doesn’t feel oily or greasy when dry. Ingredients: Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside*(from NON-GMO corn starch), Sea Salt, Organic Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Rosemary & Orange Essential Oils*. 8 oz. $9.00 or 16 oz. $14.99, both which are great prices!

The website is full of products for all sorts of conditions and ailments. It’s quite an extensive list with absolutely no ingredients of concern which is something we all know is not easy to find. Other products include: foaming hand wash, bed bug spray, lice OFF spray, dry skin, eczema, itchy skin remedies, too much sun lotion, healing salve, UNpetroleum (Earth) jelly, whipped & infused body butters, organic veggie wash, nail fungus relief, lip balms, congestion fighters, healing deodorants, green clean your home, headache relief, poison ivy relief, zit zappers, soaps, foaming baby bath, happy baby Bum paste, Boo Boo stick, vapor rub, lotions, sleepy time relaxation blend, sore muscle relief, yeast relief, several essential oil custom blends and gift sets (and I’m sure I probably left a few things out!).   All packaging is USA made, most of their ingredients are local except for Shea as it comes from Africa.

Josiah’s Oils is offering a 10% off coupon for all new customers: ECOFRIENDLYFIRSTTIME10


Fb page:

Sunscreen SPF – Is It Just a Numbers Game?


Written by Jolene

Recommendations  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people use an SPF of 30 when going out into the sun for extended periods of time. For children or people with very sensitive skin, it is also recommended that on top of applying sunscreen often, you should also be using a physical barrier between you and the sun such at hats, sunglasses, shirts, etc. For how often you should reapply sunscreen you should refer to the instructions of the specific sunscreen you are using, but generally every 2-3 hours, after excessive sweating, or after swimming/towel drying. Since SPF is not a linear progression, meaning that 30 SPF does not offer double the protection that SPF15 does, when you start getting into higher SPF’s they are not worth the excessive cost that ‘promises’ you better protection. (See chart below) SPF Effectiveness When you look at a sunscreen’s SPF it is referring to the amount of protection you are going to receive from the sun’s UVB rays. The UVB rays are what causes people’s skin to burn (and suntan). Below is a simple guide to how effective each lower SPF category is in terms of blocking the sun’s UVB rays: · SPF 15, blocks 94% of the sun’s rays · SPF 30, blocks 97% of the sun’s rays · SPF 45, blocks 98% of the sun’s rays *Keep in mind that there is no sunscreen that blocks 100% of the sun’s rays. (Carpenter, Los Angeles Times)

Paying More for More “Relief” While it is not a substantial raise in cost for SPF 30 versus SPF 110 (yes that’s right Neutrogena makes an SPF 110!) it is something to consider when you are buying natural sunscreen without harmful chemicals versus one with cancer causing ingredients. Many people feel it is hard to shell out extra bucks for a natural sunscreen such as Badger Balm when it only has SPF’s of 30 and 34, when they can pay the same price if not less, for an SPF of 70-110. Be rest assured that since you only need the recommended amount of 30 SPF in order to protect yourself from UVB rays, do yourself the favor and spend the extra bucks knowing that you are not causing other problems to your family’s health. Even though Water Babies offers an SPF of 70 (and market to, well, babies/children) their ingredients are too disturbing to even think about using. Their rating is at a 7. This is because there is a moderate hazard of cancer (how ironic), and high hazards of allergies, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruptions, as well as high hazards of developmental and reproductive toxicities. Not something I would put on my baby, child, a pregnant mother, or anyone else for that matter. Water Babies are not the only brand that receives a high rating from the EWG for their dangerous ingredients used. The long list includes Neutrogena, Coppertone, Banana Boat, amongst many others, several who claim to be ‘natural’ and ‘safe’.

A Side Note on UVB vs. UVA Because UVB rating (SPF) is simply not enough to look at anymore for proper cancer prevention, the FDA has revised their labeling as of recent (2011). Companies are now not allowed to solely put the SPF number, put waterproof, sunblock, prevent wrinkles, prevent cancer, or promise complete protection from the sun. They also must warn you if the SPF is under 15, and will recommend other sun protection methods to help protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. For a look at how the FDA has changed their labels please follow the link below. It shows an example of the 2011 Final Ruling on Labeling for the front and the back. Spring 2013 marks when companies are all supposed to have the new labeling on any sunscreens coming out for consumer purchase. The only exceptions will be sunscreens that were produced before the deadline and still happen to be on shelving.

SO, WHAT DO WE RECOMMEND: BADGER: They offer several to choose from. The one I’ve used is the Baby Cream: $15.99 for 2.9 oz tube, SPF 30. Active Sunscreen Ingredient: Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 18.75%. Other Sunscreen Ingredients: *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), CO2 Extracts of *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Organic Seabuckthorn), and *Calenduls Officinalis (Organic Calendula), *Anthemis Nobilis (Organic Chamomile) Essential Oil, and Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic.  Badger is available in many more food co-ops, pharmacies & stores, so for those of you who don’t like to order online this may something you like about this option. For those that like to use Amazon, here’s a link to the baby version, they offer many options!

POOFY ORGANICS: $16 for a 3.4oz tube, SPF 30, also available in stick form. Very similar to Badger, but the only complaint I’ve ever heard about Badger is it’s too thick & hard to rub in. Poofy’s is thinner & easier to apply. Ingredients: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, NON-NANO Zinc Oxide. It is also available in stick form You can purchase it through my affiliate link (became an affiliate 6/15/14, after recommending the products daily for a year+), I even offer 10% off your 1st order via a rebate after the order is placed (since I can’t create my own coupon code).

Adding, Josiah’s Oils, Just Skin Food, Blue Egg Farmstore, Goddess Garden & Babo to the list, I will add a post for each as soon as I have time! **While these seem expensive, I had one tube of Badger last me all summer last year. Of course, covering up as much as possible is always the best sunscreen! My kids wear rashguard suits & hats, so they’re covered to their elbows & knees. That’s a lot less sunscreen to rub on vs if my girl was in a bikini…

Also, you may want to read this thought provoking article:

Fiddlebump’s Apothecary


Review of Fiddlebump’s Apothecary, located in Creswell, OR. As all of us have different skin/hair/water/expectations, of course results will vary. These are my experiences with these products, and I don’t expect any product to satisfy 100% of the people who try it…

This post was updated with: shampoo, hair detangler, foaming face wash, strawberry toner, bug repellent and bug bite salve on 6/17. You’ll find the most recent updates below the company background info.   I always like to start out my reviews by giving you some background on the company, or in this case, the full-time working mama making these products in her “spare” time. Holly Slawter, founder and operator of Fiddlebump’s Apothecary, strives to inform people of the harmful ingredients in every day products that have been linked to cancer, Alzheimers and numerous other diseases. She believes we must all be informed so that we may live healthier lives for ourselves, our children & our future. Information from her website about her products, and her mission:

Fiddlebump’s Apothecary Promise: Fiddlebump’s Apothecary products are 100% Natural and Handcrafted. Holly makes every, single product herself. NO Parabens, NO Petroleum, NO Preservatives, NO Soy, NO Nut Oils, NO Wheat.

Mission: Fiddlebump’s Apothecary offers safe, 100% Natural, toxin-free alternatives to a variety of every day products at more affordable prices than other popular “natural” companies. Quality begins with our pure botanical ingredients. We use only the finest wild-crafted, natural or organic herbs and herbal extracts, distilled pure essential oils and cold-pressed, exotic organic fruit oils and butters in our products. We choose to let our ingredients lists speak for themselves.  We pay special attention to the details; every one of our products are lovingly made “from scratch” and entirely by hand in small batches, enabling us to maintain our high standard of purity. Real people make our products, not machines! We also want to promote a “greener” lifestyle and do our part to save the Earth! All products are packaged containers that are reusable or at the very least recyclable.

Inspiration: Fiddlebump’s Apothecary was inspired by many wonderful people in owner, Holly Slawter’s life who have battled cancer & Alzheimer’s. She is also inspired by those who strive to live as natural of a life possible.

History: Holly was giving the nickname “Fiddlebump” by her Granddaddy when she was a little girl, he said she was “as little as a bump on a fiddle” With her grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s, one of the key inspirations for her business, the name “Fiddlebump” seemed very fitting for her company. Holly was born & raised in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. She now resides in Oregon with her wonderful husband and two incredible children. In addition to her beloved Granddaddy, her Grandma also now battles Alzheimer’s. Both her husband and mother in law are cancer survivors and she has lost other family members to cancer and heart disease. As Holly had her own children, she began to realize the impact that chemical & synthetic ingredients could have on our health. She wants to prevent chemical and toxin exposure for her family and yours. Holly donates 10% of all Sales are to the Alzeheimer’s Association!

Shampoo: $10.00/ 8 oz. plastic bottle with foaming pump. Ingredients ~ Saponified Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Essential Oil blend ( Rosemary, Orange, Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Tea Tree). Due to the pump it comes out as foam into your hand, but does not produce a lather in your hair (or at least it didn’t in mine). I am OK with no lather, as I used the “No Poo” method for several months & know that lather does not equal clean. But for those that want/need a shampoo that lathers, this may not be for you. I will tell you though that my hair feels amazingly clean and healthy after using this shampoo. I do have healthy, shoulder-length hair to begin with, but I am truly impressed with how thick & healthy it feels after washing with this shampoo. 2 squirts is plenty for my hair, but as I said it’s pretty short (was ready for a change after having very long hair for 10+ years). I rub it in my hands 1st and mainly concentrate on rubbing it into my scalp well & then work it out towards the ends. I have followed up with the hair detangler which I’ll discuss next, but also have not followed up with any type of conditioner and found my hair to feel excellent even without the use of conditioner. I use it once-twice/week, as I’ve been doing for many months with both the No Poo method & other shampoo I’ve sampled, my hair does not get greasy in-between washes, and really feels great. Of course, as climates, water types, your expectations vary, you may find yourself washing your hair more or less. I highly recommend this product if you’re looking for a very, very safe shampoo and OK with the fact that it doesn’t lather. In order to produce the lather, Holly would have to add an ingredient such as Decyl Polyglucose, for example, and I can appreciate the fact that she is keeping it very basic, yet it is an incredibly effective product.

Hair Detangler. $7.00/8 oz. plastic bottle with spray top. Ingredients ~ Lavender Hydrosol, Aloe Vera Juice, Essential Oils (Lavender, Orange, Rose Geranium). I have really come to like using a spray-in/leave-in conditioner. It’s one less thing to do while in the shower, as those of us with young children know the days of long showers are over. I towel dry my hair for 5 minutes or so, spray it with the detangler & comb out. As I mentioned above I don’t use the conditioner every, single time (static season is over so that helps), but I do most times I wash. It does a great job in my hair. It makes it easier to comb out & does not leave my hair feeling the least bit greasy or weighed down. My hair dries feeling soft, healthy & very full-bodied. It produces a nice fine mist out of the bottle that distributes evenly in your hair, so a little bit goes a long way. A bottle will last a very long time & I feel the priced is very reasonable!

Foaming Face Wash- $9.00/ 2 oz. bottle. Ingredients ~ Saponified Oils of Unrefined Hemp Seed, Organic coconut Oil, Unrefined Shea Butter, Essential Oils of Lavender & Tea Tree. I really love this product! Previously I had been using just Witchazel to clean my face nightly, but am enjoying the addition of this foaming face wash. It comes in a small plastic bottle with a foaming pump on it. I had never used products with foaming pumps much until recently, but I’m now in love with them. The bottle recommends 2 pumps, I have found 1 pump to be sufficient for my face. So while it seems like a small bottle, when you’re using 1 pump vs. pouring a bunch into your hand, a bottle lasts a really, really long time which makes it both eco- and budget-friendly. Holly has also told me that refills for products such as this are in the works, so you can keep the pump bottle & order a more generic, larger sized bottle to refill it with. Strawberry Leaf Toner: $6.00/ 4 oz. bottle. Product description: “Perfect to aid in balancing the ph of all skin types. Strawberry leaves contains a high level of Vitamin C & Natural Salicylic Acid, Apple Cider Vinegar helps to rebalance the ph of your skin & Rose Water for its soothing, moisturizing and calming abilities”. Ingredients ~ Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with mother, Rose Hyrdosol, Aloe Vera Juice, Distilled Water, Organic Strawberry Leaves. This makes a great follow-up after washing your face. I have seen strawberry leaf used in other natural toners before & know it’s touted for its skin care properties. I honestly can’t say what it’s really doing for my skin, I don’t have a before & after shot, etc. about all I can say is it is a product with several beneficial skin care ingredients and I recommend it for those of you who like to use toners. Holly sent me her Skin Food which is a moisturizer (comes in formulas for sensitive, problem and mature skin) in the 1st batch of products to review & I absolutely love it still. The combo of the wash, toner, Skin Food is just fabulous, and I highly recommend it to anyone in search of a great facial care routine. You can read my review of that product below.

Bug Repellent- $10.00/ 8 oz. plastic bottle with spray top. Also comes in stick form. Product description: “This product contains Neem Oil which has been shown to be as effective as DEET! Safe for babies, children, adults, pets and even your plants!” Ingredients : Lavender Hydrosol, Distilled Water, Neem Oil, Essential Oil blend (peppermint, catnip, eucalyptus, Virginia Cedarwood). Spray top produces a nice fine mist that distributes it evenly over skin, and it has a very pleasant smell. The 1st thing I tried it on was gnats which have been very pesky this season here in WI. I was sitting outside & they were swarming all over & I went to grab this spray, sat back down & waited for them to start swarming again & sprayed liberally- they stayed away! Next test was on a day when I noticed a bunch of black flies gathered on a pile of something decomposing in our yard (we live in the country and have a black lab who like to bring surpasses home). I grabbed the spray, sprayed the unknown lump down, and the flies would not touch it afterwards, this impressed hubby too! The mosquitos have just started to be an issue as we’ve had a very cool spring thus far, but I live on the banks of a river and when they do hatch, we have a serious problem. Over the weekend I was pulling weeds in my flower bed in the evening hours & they came on suddenly & started landing on my arms. I went and got the spray, sprayed most of my body liberally and went back at it and although I could hear them buzzing around me, I pulled weeds for about 15 min. (all I can handle @ 38 weeks pregnant) and came back in with no bites. Compared to other natural bug repellents I’ve used & am aware of, I feel the price is very reasonable for this product!

Bug Bite Salve–$10/ 2 oz. glass jar, which may seem like a small amount, but you need just a tiny dab per bite, I think a jar should last an entire season.  Product description: “aids in relieving symptoms and discomfort associated with bug bites and stings. This blend of plant ingredients aids in reducing inflammation, swelling, redness and itching. Neem Oil has been used for ages to aid in drawing poison out of bug bites. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Neem Oil, Unrefined Hemp Seed Oil, Calendula, Parsley, Witch Hazel Bark, Beeswax, Vitamin E, Essential Oils of Lavender, Tea Tree & Eucalyptus. I used this on my toddler a few times & noticed the redness did go away, but I was unsure if he experienced any relief. As I was laying him down for his nap a couple days ago he was itching various bites he had which were preventing him from falling asleep and he said “Mama, bug balm”. I went and got it, applied it to his bites and he quit itching them, and fell asleep within minutes! My other experience using it thus far was a few nights ago when he ended up with several bites while indoors, somehow without Hubby or I noticing any bugs indoors, and the salve definitely helped take the itch out of most of them, but he had one or 2 in particular that really bothered him & he continued to itch after applying the salve. So, I can’t say it worked 100% of the time for all bites, but I don’t know that any product would do so. My hubby has had horse fly bites on a couple of occasions, which really leave quite the bite. The 1st time I noticed him rubbing a huge, red lump and ran to grab the Bug Salve and applied it immediately. I waited a couple minutes and asked him if it felt better & indeed he said it didn’t bother him whatsoever anymore, and the redness was gone. A couple days later he came in from outside & retrieved the Bug Salve, brought it to me and asked him to apply it to another horse fly bite on his back, same results- stinging & redness disappeared almost immediately.

Tiny Heiny Cream- $10.00/ 2 oz. glass jar. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Beeswax, Calendula, Essential Oils of Tea Tree, Lavender & Orange. This was sent to have on hand for the arrival of my new babe, who should be gracing us with his/her presence any day. I was very fortunate that my 1st child has had 2 diaper rashes in 2 years, and we made it through his entire 1st year without any rash whatsoever. Of course that may not be the case this time around, and I’m happy to have this product on hand should I need it, and not have to wait a week for something to come in the mail. I will update this item if/when I use it, but just wanted to make you aware that it exists and is completely cloth diaper safe.

Previous reviews (posted April 1):

Here are the wonderful  products sent to me: Belly Butter, Sensitive Skin Food, Lip Balm, Boo Boo Balm, and Healing Salve. She offers a great selection, and one thing I really like is that she posts the price right up front alongside the photo & description of the item. It can be discouraging to browse through items on a website, and then see in the very fine print at the bottom of the description that the item is out of the budget. Here are the categories of offerings, with selections in each category: baby, deodorant, hair care, skin care, spa, cleaning, first aid, pet and soap. I have no concern over a single ingredient Holly is using in her line (I wish I could say that for more lines)!

1st I have to rave about the Belly Butter. If you are currently pregnant, or know someone who is, order some of this immediately—you won’t regret it! I had been using Shea Butter on my growing belly, which is a very nourishing butter in and of itself (just starting my 3rd trimester now), and didn’t feel I was missing anything by using a non-scented product. But I have to tell you, this rose geranium scented Belly Butter is one of the most delightful smelling products I’ve ever used! I’ve never looked forward to buttering up my belly so much. With the Shea butter I would do it here & there, maybe every couple of days when I would look at the jar and remember. Now, I can’t wait to apply it several times a day, and my skin is thanking me for it. I apply it before bed and honestly lay there inhaling & saying “ahhhhhh” in my head (don’t want to wake my son), it’s a delightful, relaxing smell. It’s a firm butter, and at 1st I wasn’t having the best of luck getting it to melt to my touch to apply it so I dumped it upside down & gave it a tap & it came out nicely, like a bar of soap, and I rub it on that way, and it applies wonderfully. I look forward to using it every time, and it has a great non-greasy feel. I wake up in the morning and my belly feels very soft. I have been using this 2-3 times/day for about 2 weeks, and have barely put a dent in the bar, I have no doubt it will last the rest of my pregnancy. I love it so much I coat my hands in it too, and breathe in that wonderful smell!  Info from the website: “Fiddlebump’s Belly Butter is specially formulated to help prevent and or reduce stretch marks. This unique blend of butters, vitamins and oils relieves itching associated with stretching skin and promotes healthy skin elasticity. This is a firm butter; it will melt with contact to the skin.” Ingredients: Ingredients ~ Organic Cocoa Butter, Unrefined Shea Butter, Unrefined Mango Butter, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E, Rose Geranium Essential Oil. $15 for 4 oz.

I have been using coconut oil as a facial moisturizer this winter, and Shea butter for extra-dry problem skin. However, many feel coconut oil is too greasy/oily, and some feel it clogs their pores, so I am delighted to have had this sent to me as a sample, and even more delighted to tell you that I feel it’s a great product for those looking for a healthy moisturizer. The calendula adds a wonderful, subtle flowery/herbal scent that I absolutely love! As I said, I didn’t think I was missing using scented products by using plain oils/butters as is, but sampling these wonderful smelling products has made me realize that I did miss having a bit of scent in my products! It does feel oily/greasy while going on, but most all lotion will. After a couple minutes it absorbs into your skin, and I truly love the way my skin feels afterward. It comes in several formulas in addition to the sensitive blend sent to me: mature formula, problem formula, manly, and eczema/psoriasis. From the website: “Each skin food is specially formulated to nourish every skin deficiency.  Skin food provides nourishment for your skin and each formula has a special extra function of its own. Skin Food is a blend of plant butters, plant oils vitamins & Essential Oils.  When combined, these ingredients help protect skin from sun damage, heal dry cracked skin, improve skin elasticity, promote collagen production, reduce scarring, soothes sunburn, helps prevent peeling, and soothes minor skin irritations.  These blends have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Calendula, Beeswax. Comes in a glass jar– $10 for 2 oz. (2 oz. doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve been using it mainly on my face without hardly putting a dent in the jar, I expect the jar to last several months)/

Lipbalm normally doesn’t get me that excited. I’ve been using plain Shea butter for the last couple of months, and had sampled a few local creations prior to that which I just didn’t love-they were too greasy/oily. But, this lip balm has a perfect consistency, with a wonderful, subtle coconut smell. The info from the website describes it perfectly- I will be keeping this in stock in my house for sure! “Heal and prevent dry, chapped lips with the gentle ingredients in this heavy, non-waxy lip balm ideal for even sensitive skin. It leaves lips feeling soft without encouraging dependency. Plant butters join beeswax to seal in moisture and protect while providing a silky shine.” Available in Mint, Cherry & Coconut. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Beeswax, and one of the following (Peppermint Essential Oil, Organic Coconut or Organic Cherry Oil). $3.00/tube.

I was also sent 2 products that I’m grateful to have as part of my 1st aid kit, although I hope not to need them of course: Boo Boo Balm, and Healing Salve. It is great to be prepared for the inevitable day that my toddler (or I) take a spill and need one of these products. From the website: “Fiddlebump’s Boo Boo Balm is a great go to for all of your first aid needs. This gentle & natural balm treats everyday boo boos and doesn’t sting. Use for cuts, abrasions, bug bites, dry skin, burns and more…… With anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties minor cuts and scrapes will heal quickly.  The high percentage of unrefined Shea butter in this balm helps to prevent scarring. Children really like this balm because they can do it themselves!  This is a favorite among children and moms alike!!  Packaged in a convenient, easy to take on the go roll up container. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Beeswax, Essential Oils of Tea Tree, Orange & Lavender. $4.00 for a cute little deodorant-type container (which I’ll save and reuse for deodorant for a gift/for sale when I’m done with it).

The Healing Salve: Fiddlebump’s Apothecary Healing Salve is very effective in speeding up the healing process of minor cuts, burns, sores, scrapes, bites, hemorrhoids and just about every first aid need you can imagine. This salve is a super multi-tasker. Shea Butter helps improve skin elasticity & aids in reducing scars, this essential oil blend provides anti-bacterial, anti-fungal & anti- inflammatory properties. Ingredients ~ Unrefined Shea Butter, Unrefined Hemp Seed Oil, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Calendula, Beeswax, Wildcrafted Balm of Gilead, Wildcrafted Blue Violet Leaf, Essential Oils (Lavender, Tea Tree, Orange) $5.00 for a 1 oz. container.

Holly makes many great items for your 1st aid kit/problem skin: bug bite salve, respiratory balm, joint balm, jewelweed salve, hair & scalp food, skin food, muscle balm and unpetroleum jelly. Also, a few cleaning products which look great: furniture polish, glass cleaner and lavender all-purpose cleaner. I also love that her Website has a DIY recipe tab which includes numerous spa & around the house cleanser recipes.

Another GREAT tidbit about these products: ALL packaging is MADE in the USA!!

I can’t thank Holly enough for sharing these wonderful products with me! I agree with her assertion that they are quite reasonably priced compared to numerous other products on the “natural” market. If you’re new to natural products made with organic ingredients and unrefined oils/butters, you may glance at the prices and feel they’re expensive. True, they’re more expensive than ‘conventional’ products, but what you have to take into consideration is that most ‘conventional’ products have water as their first ingredient, and then they therefore need a preservative which is one of my main ingredients of concern in any line, no matter how safe they claim the preservative to be. So, while the sticker price may be cheaper, you’re paying for water, and I don’t know anyone who likes to do that. These products are pure, highly concentrated, and preservative-free as they contain no water. A little dab will truly suffice for your needs, which helps the products last much longer than the products you may be used to, while eliminating excess packaging materials from our landfills/recycling centers. I will definitely be placing orders with Fiddlebump’s in the future, as well as gifting every pregnant mama I know with some of her awesome Belly Butter. Please go take a look at the wonderful products made by this hard-working mama, there truly is something for everyone: Website: FB: Her products are available in select locations in Oregon, Michigan, and Virgina:

Earthpaste Review


Review of Earthpaste made by Redmond Trading Company- based in Utah: As all of us have different expectations, of course results will vary. These are my experiences with these products, and I don’t expect any product to satisfy 100% of the people who try it, but I can tell you that numerous people have tried this toothpaste & found it to be a wonderful, safe product for their families.

Read the back of an Earthpaste tube & you’ll immediately realize you’re dealing with a paste unlike any other: “Earthpaste is safe to eat. Rinse or swallow at your discretion- either would be fine” vs “call poison control center if more than a pea-sized amount is ingested”!!! In fact, the Redmond clay, the main ingredient in Earthpaste, is ingested by many for its medicinal properties. There are few reviews I’ve been more excited to share with this page—why? Because I was on the search for the perfect toothpaste for my family (and one I feel comfortable recommending to the page) for quite some time, and finally found it! Every “natural”, fluoride-free toothpaste I’ve looked at has ingredients that I don’t like, especially for my 2 year old who is still learning how to brush his teeth. Popular brands like Tom’s (owned by Colgate), Jason, and the host of others contain ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, carrageenan, and a host of others are additives. I kept feeling that there had to be a great, safe toothpaste made in the USA (Jack N Jill is often recommended, but made in Australia). Earthpaste is everything I’ve been looking for in toothpaste & more. Earthpaste is not certified organic, which is an important characteristic for me & many of you. However, it is so highly natural, as it’s made of Redmond Clay & Real Salt which are harvested from deposits deep within the earth, plus Non-GMO xylitol and essential oils (which are all Wildcrafted), that the lack of a “certified organic” label doesn’t bother me in this instance!

Unique facts about Earthpaste: *It is free of fluoride. *It does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is a foaming agent. It can take a bit to get used to a non-foaming toothpaste for adults who are used to such products, but children do not have these expectations so will not know what they are missing! *It does not contain Titanium Dioxide to whiten it. Thus the toothpaste is brown, as its main ingredient is bentonite clay. *It also does not contain glycerin, an ingredient which coats your teeth & prevents them from absorbing beneficial minerals. *It does not contain Carrageenan.

Here’s a list of the ingredients Earthpaste does include, with their purpose (from their website): ~~Purified Water to hydrate the clay into a creamy paste.  ~~Food Grade Redmond Clay®, a polishing cleanser with antibacterial properties that has been used for centuries to promote digestive health. ~~Xylitol, a natural sweetener that has been shown to promote healthy teeth. ** Also very important to note is they use only non-GMO xylitol from birch and/or corn. ~~ Redmond Real Salt® to enhance the flavor and lend antibacterial properties associated with sea salt. ~~Tea Tree Oil, a natural, essential oil, commonly used to promote healthy skin, supports oral health with excellent anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. ~~Menthol, found in peppermint and wintergreen Earthpaste, leaves your breath fresh and mouth feeling clean. ~~Essential Oils-Wildcrafted These special oils are used for flavoring & a wide variety of other health benefits listed below. ~Peppermint will make your breath smell fresh, and it’s widely used to promote stress relief and support digestion. ~Wintergreen lends a sweet, minty flavor and has been used to promote dental health. ~Cinnamon brings a familiar, spicy flavor along with its reputation as an antioxidant used to promote healthy immune function. The Lemon Twist is their most recent release and contains lemon essential oil, lemon verbana essential oil, tangerine essential oil & lime essential oil.

So, which flavor is my favorite? I was sent a tube of each flavor, and before sampling any of the flavors my guess was that I’d love the cinnamon the most. In general I’m not a fan of lemon or peppermint flavors in most things. My expectations were completely backwards. While they all have pleasant flavors, the Lemon Twist & Peppermint turned out to be my favorite. The Lemon Twist is perfect for children as it’s not minty, or spicy as my toddler calls it. It has a fresh, pleasant taste with not the slightest burn. While it’s geared towards kids, it’s neck & neck with the Peppermint as my favorite. The Cinnamon & Wintergreen both are very good too, and if they were the only 2 to choose from I’d use them happily. I’d say the Wintergreen is a little less minty & a little sweeter than the Peppermint, and the Cinnamon has a mild cinnamon flavor. Of course, everyone has their own favorite. I’ve heard from several who don’t like the cinnamon, and others who claim the cinnamon as their favorite. There’s only one way to find out which will be your favorite, but from my opinion, they are all GREAT!!  A tube of Earthpaste runs $7.99/4 0z. tube directly from Redmond. They have generously created a coupon just for this page, offering 15% off through September 7 using the code EcoSummer15 (case sensitive), which you can use on their site:  It is also available online through sites such as Vitacost, Amazon  & others.

How long does a tube last our family of 3? I’d say about a month. This includes the fact that my 27 month old always manages to sneak a squirt into his mouth. He’s gotten much better with me constantly reminding him to brush, not eat it. But he really loves the stuff. I let him choose his color, he almost always goes for the yellow (lemon), but sometimes the blue (peppermint), and being a toddler he insists on putting it on the brush himself. He tries to be sneaky and while squirting some on his brush always does a quick sneak (not so sneaky) to squirt some in his mouth. And he often puts too much on his brush. But the fabulous thing is that I have absolutely no worries about him eating it, and know it’s actually beneficial to his digestion. I can’t imagine going through this training stage using a traditional toothpaste such as Colgate, etc. Maybe he wouldn’t like it as much as Earthpaste and be so inclined to eat it, but I have a feeling he probably would. The peace of mind that comes with using this toothpaste is worth every cent. I also use more than a pea-sized amount. I put a solid line covering my toothbrush, wet it well, and brush away. Given all this, a tube still lasts at least a month.

GREAT news for the international fans of the page who often comment that they wish the products I’m reviewing were available to them. Earthpaste is available abroad!!!!! — Australia – Earthpaste only. –Canada– this company sells only Earthpaste. They are FANTASTIC to work with, a small husband and wife home based business. – Earthpaste only — Internationally everywhere — UK – a fantastic company that is buying direct from Redmond shipping to the UK – Most Redmond products can be found through them. – They also carry most of our Redmond line, Redmond Clay, Real Salt and Earthpaste.   I love this toothpaste so much, and was so frustrated with the options on the shelves at my local food co-op (Tom’s, Jason, Auromere)  where I do 90% of my shopping, that I talked the co-op management into allowing me to open a wholesale account with Redmond. We now proudly have Earthpaste on the shelves, along with a few other great products from Redmond. We are a tiny co-op, but I look forward to getting as many of their products on our shelves as possible over time! I know it is becoming more available in stores such as Whole Foods, etc. and we get asked often if it’s available locally. At this time Redmond does not have a store locator database. My advice if you can’t find it locally is to request it, and get friends & family to request it also. Most stores are responsive to such requests!

I have seen concern raised on my page and others over the use of Xylitol. The research I’ve done has led me to feel it is a safe ingredient & I do not have concerns over its use. Here is some very detailed info on Xylitol, and why Earthpaste uses it: “As I’m sure you know Xylitol is one of those products that although most consider natural, others still have questions about it. That said, most agree that is a natural product because it is a sweetener that occurs naturally. It can be found in berries, fruit/vegetables and also occurs naturally in the human body. The average adult actually manufactures up to 15 grams of xylitol daily during normal metabolism. That said, to produce xylitol for use in baking etc it does go through quite a process which is probably where some of the natural concerns come from – as a side note wheat also goes through quite a process to become bread, and milk goes though quite a process to become cheese, but that’s a different story and a little different chemistry.

So why is xylitol in Earthpaste? Mostly because it is a natural sweetener that also has some unique properties that helps it to inhibit bacterial growth. I’ll save you the chemistry lesson, but in short, because xylitol is a 5 carbon sugar rather than a typical 6 carbon sugar, bacteria can’t digest it so they eat it thinking it is sugar and they starve. We considered other natural sweeteners like stevia and others but they just don’t have the properties of xylitol, have harsh flavors, and at the end of the day there are groups that have a lot of questions/concerns about those natural sweeteners too. Aside from all that, there are actually many other oral benefit properties that deal with plaque and tarter that make xylitol nice for a toothpaste (link below).

The next question you might ask is why do we want to use any sweetener at all rather than just essential oil? The main reason for that is so more people are willing to be open to trying it to make it possible to economically to produce it at all. Straight essential oils aren’t really taste friendly to most people moving from a conventional toothpaste – especially kids. The problem with having a sweetener in any product is that bacteria thrive on most sugars so if you don’t use the right sweetener you have to add additional preservatives – which we absolutely didn’t want to do. However, xylitol’s properties actually help us not have to do that and also helps more people make the transition away from a conventional toothpaste.

We are currently working on a sweetener free Earthpaste that we hope to introduce in a few months – maybe by this summer – for those don’t want any sweeteners. It is coming together very nicely. 🙂 In the meantime if you want to avoid xylitol or other sweeteners, you can just use a clay and salt mix (50/50), wet your toothbrush, dip it in the mix, and then put a drop of your favorite essential oil on it and brush away. I did that for a long time on my own before we finalized Earthpaste and it worked great.

Anyway, just like with many (most) natural products on the market today, there will always be a variety of opinions with regards to the advantages and disadvantages of xylitol and other “natural” sweeteners. There is always new information coming out, but it is hard to argue the fact that there are over 2,600 published clinical studies that prove the benefits of xylitol not to mention the fact that our own body produces xylitol and that it is all natural. That said, we can understand that many are undecided about xylitol and we are working on a sweetener free version of Earthpaste.

If you are interested in learning more, here is another summary on the other side of the xylitol story: and here is a summary of what xylitol is and is from those that like it: I know you can find plenty of those that don’t like and many more that do so I just wanted to include a couple you can consider and decide for yourself.” As you can tell, I’m very happy with this toothpaste. I love what it doesn’t include almost as much as I love what it does include. I’m very happy to recommend this product as often as I possibly can on my page & others when I see a question regarding the best toothpaste for children, and adults. Again, here is the coupon code to save 15% off your entire purchase through Redmond: 15% off through September 7 using the code EcoSummer15 (case sensitive). One last thing I’ll mention is that I’ve had a great experience with my interactions with Kimberly, my go-to at Redmond with any questions I have. I have also heard from many of you that you’ve had a great customer service experience with this company, which means a lot to me!

For more info please visit Redmond’s website & Facebook page:
Earthpaste Website:
Facebook page:

Redmond also makes the following wonderful products:
Real Salt, Season Salt, Bath Salt Review:
Redmond Clay Review:

Redmond Trading Company


Redmond Trading Company also is the maker of Earthpaste, which I felt deserved its own review, so please follow the link to information on that product: As all of us have different skin/hair/water/expectations, of course results will vary. These are my experiences with these products, and I don’t expect any product to satisfy 100% of the people who try it…

I was sent a 1st aid ointment, some Real Salt & organic season salt, and bath salt.

About the Redmond Clay used, from their website: “For thousands of years, people have used clay to prevent and treat physical ailments. Over time, the practice of using clay medicinally was forgotten by most cultures, but as the holistic health and organic food movements gain momentum, people have become more open to traditional remedies like Redmond Clay. Used externally for things like bites and burns and internally for a variety of ailments, Redmond Clay has become a staple in households across the world. Redmond Clay First Aid is a key component of your first-aid kit. In fact, for many people, Redmond Clay is their first-aid kit! Use Redmond Clay First Aid on burns, cuts, abrasions, insect bites, bruises, rashes, bee stings, blisters, poison oak, poison ivy, and dry, itchy skin.  $9.99/4 oz.

I suffer from a seasonal skin affliction where my hands shed like a snake- usually during the transition from fall to winter, or during the depths of winter. The two winters that I’ve been pregnant (this being one of them), the symptoms have been tame compared to some winters, but I’ve been dealing with this for years. No sooner had I said to my hubby that I thought I was going to get through this winter without it happening, then it started to happen on one hand. It starts as itchy/burny red bumps all over the palm of my hand, and then patches start peeling off & I end up with raw spots on my palm and finger tips. I can’t say I’ve tried everything, but I’ve tried numerous, numerous products- bag balm, crack cream, prescription hydrocortisone cream, hand salves by many companies, and in my recent more natural years, coconut oil, Shea butter, jojoba oil, the list goes on. Nothing really helps but time. I received my lovely sample package from Redmond & there was a 1st aid cream in there- I glanced at it and thought “cool, I’ll keep this on hand in case of a burn…” Then I looked down at my hand which was raw & peeling and thought “what the heck, I’ll try it”. I applied it 3-4 times that day, and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I woke up the next morning & new skin was growing! I seriously couldn’t believe it, and you have no idea how thrilled I am to have found something that works. Within a couple of days, my hand was completely healed up!! Other products that include this fabulous clay include: Clay powder, facial mud, mineral support & daily detox.

Real Salt and Season Salt– Redmond is also the proprietor of Real Salt. I had heard of this before & thought “what the heck is Real Salt”. It is unaltered, straight from the earth as it was deposited centuries ago. Both of these will be a staple in my house from now on! Product info from their website: “Real Salt means – well, real, authentic salt. A quick glance at the ingredients label on most salts might surprise you! Many salts contain anti-caking agents and even dextrose (sugar). Others have been heat processed and stripped of their natural trace minerals. Real Salt brand, on the other hand, is unrefined and full of natural minerals and flavor – the way salt was meant to be savored.” The season salt contains a delicious blend of Real Salt, organic onion, organic coriander, organic mustard, organic black pepper, organic paprika, organic celery seed, organic turmeric, organic parsley, and no MSG. ($4.92/4.75 oz.). This has been a wonderful accompaniment to every meat and veggie dish I’ve tried it on!  Lots of sizes to choose from in each category: coarse salt with grinding mill, refill pouches, kosher salt, powder salt, organic season salt, organic garlic salt, organic onion salt, and many bulk & gift box options available.

Bath Salt– Product info from their website: “In Redmond™ Bath Salt you will find an abundance of trace minerals that can help restore mineral-deficient bodies back to good health. Through osmosis, toxins are released from the body into the bath water, while trace minerals from the sea salt are absorbed through the skin. Redmond Bath Salt is a completely natural mineral sea salt that comes from a sea bed dating back thousands of years. Our bath salt is so natural you can eat it! Due to its abundance of natural trace minerals, Redmond Bath Salt provides many healing properties for the skin and body. Toxins are released from the body into the bath water through osmosis, while trace minerals from the sea salt are absorbed through the skin.”  $8.99/18 oz. I really can’t attest to any detox powers, but I can say that it makes for a lovely, relaxing bath in my claw foot bath tub (best $75 rummage sale score EVER!).

I love every, single product I was sent by this generous company, and will be a customer for life!

For more information, please visit their website & FB pages:

Facebook page:

Simply Rustic Review


Simply Rustic Products– A day at the spa without leaving home!! As all of us have different skin/hair/water/expectations, of course results will vary. These are my experiences with these products, and I don’t expect any product to satisfy 100% of the people who try it…

Several months ago someone shared the Simply Rustic site with me so I headed over to check it out & immediately liked what I saw– the products, ingredients lists, and packaging are great. Then I discovered this company was Wisconsin-based (Rhinelander), and I fell in love (I live in SW Wisconsin). We connected through Facebook and …Amanda graciously sent me a sample package of her products. Maybe it’s just me, but as the mom of a now 20 month old, I have a hard time recalling the last time I pampered myself. So it is with great pleasure that I enjoyed several products sent to me by Amanda, from Simply Rustic. Also, being on a tight budget means I don’t usually splurge on products like these for myself, I don’t wear make-up, and just use coconut oil as a moisturizer usually. The point being, it was AMAZING to pamper myself a little bit, and I highly encourage every single one of you reading this to pamper yourself once a month, or in my case once a year even :)   Also, these products would make the perfect gift for a sister, mom, aunt, whoever in your life you need to buy a gift for but have no idea what to get them (they do offer spa/gift & travel-sized sample packs).

The samples came in small plastic tubs, but I LOVE that all her regular-sized products come to you in glass, as glass is so much better than plastic in every regard! I love the informational cards that come with every product, which include ingredient lists, and even an explanation of the benefits of some of the ingredients, as well as many ideas for usage. Here’s a review of the products she sent me, including ingredient lists, cost, and what I liked most about them.  From the website: Simply Rustic products are handmade fresh from scratch. Body Butters are whipped and concentrated so a little goes a long way. Water is not used in the products so synthetic preservatives are not needed (a fact I LOVE). I also love that she lists whether each ingredient is organic, fair trade, wild-crafted, and/or unrefined!!

Paradise Body Butter – Vegan $9.00 (other blends include: Cranberry, nut-free, nighty night, peaceful, pumpkin, raspberry, and more!) I love citrus scents, and the Paradise butter has a hint of lime which gives it a crisp, refreshing scent that I really, really like. I don’t need lotion during the humid summer months, but now as fall has come & winter approaches, my skin starts to dry out. The little tub she sent me has lasted a long time, and still has a ways to go, you truly need just a dab. It absorbs very quickly, and doesn’t leave you with a greasy feeling. Ingredients: Fair Trade, Organic Shea Butter Butyrospermum Parkii, Fair Trade, Unrefined, Wildcrafted Cocoa Butter Theobroma Cacao, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Cocos Nucifera, Organic 100% Pure Lime Essential Oil Citrus Aurantifolia, Vitamin E Oil Tocopherol

Face Food is a dry powder that comes in a 4oz 100% recycled glass bottle with a cork top- $10.00. Formulated for Oily/Combination, Dry and Normal Skin Types. Face Food gently exfoliates and removes toxins, bacteria, oil and all that other yucky stuff your skin accumulates during the day. Great for everyday use. I don’t wear make-up, and generally just wash my face with water, but of course I get the same accumulation as everyone else. It was really fun to make a mask out of this with yogurt, and let it sit on my face while I soaked in the tub with the Relax Body Scrub. I also tried this with Apple Cider Vinegar as a face wash (just make sure to stay clear of the eye area, as it burns) but it left my skin with a nice, tingly, fresh feeling.  Ingredients: Pink Kaolin Clay, Yogurt Powder, Organic Honey Powder, Organic Raspberry Fruit Powder, Organic Strawberry Fruit Powder, Organic Aloe Vera Powder Barbadensis, Vitamin C L-Ascorbic Acid. There is no soap, so this cleanser will not foam but it also won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. The 4oz when used as a cleanser is equal to 10oz of liquid facial cleanser.

Relax Body Scrub–$10.00. This product comes with a little wooden scoop, so I scooped a little into my hands and rubbed down my legs and arms with it while soaking in my new claw foot bathtub. I love that there are actual chunks of lavender flowers in this, which then are left to float around the tub. Also, the oils in this scrub left my skin wonderfully moisturized after getting out of the bath– my skin looked & felt great after getting out!  Ingredients: Dead Sea Salt, Grape Seed Oil Vitis Vinifera, Organic Lavender Buds, Fair Trade, Organic Shea Butter Butyrospermum Parkii, Castor Seed Oil Ricinus Communis, Lavender Essential Oil Lavandula Angustifolia, Vitamin E Oil Tocopherol.

“Mommmyyy!” Balm is a multi-purpose balm that is formulated for children and can be used on boo-boos and rubbed on chest for cold congestion- $6.00.Thankfully, we haven’t had a chest cold to try it out on, and although my toddler is very active, he hardly ever gets boo-boos. We did just return from a week in Florida though & we both came home with some bug bites that were itchy. The Mommy Balm definitely helped ease the itchiness of the bites I had. I will update this as I use it more, although I’m hoping to not have to use it for some of its intended purposes :)   I love that The Mommy Balm is in a nice cardboard push up tube. Ingredients:Grape Seed Oil Vitis Vinifera, Yellow Beeswax Cera Alba, Fair Trade, Unrefined, Wildcrafted Mango Butter Mangifera Indica, Vitamin E OilTocopherol, Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil Eucalyptus Globulus, Organic Lemon Essential Oil Citrus Limonum, Organic Oil of Oregano Origanum VulgareOrganic Eucalyptus Essential Oil is great for insect bites, blisters, skin irritations (scrapes), minor wounds (cuts) and helpful in relieving sinus pressure and congestion from colds. Organic Lemon Essential Oil has great anti-septic properties and has an uplifting aroma. Organic Oil of Oregano can be applied directly on the skin to help with skin itching and skin infections.

Please check out her website: and Facebook page:

Bannor Toys


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:



GlassDharma Straws


A couple months ago a mama shared a link to GlassDharma straw company on my wall, and I shared it with the page. The majority of the comments were thoughts such as “A glass straw, I’d never give that to my child” (due to breakage concerns). I was thrilled when the very nice people at GlassDharma agreed to send me a couple of straws to review, to see how they hold up to my toddler. At this time I’ve been using them for a little less than a month. I let my toddler handle them as he handles anything else. They have hit the ground a couple times. They get washed in the sink with the rest of the dishes, with no special care. There is a brush (sold separately), but I honestly haven’t needed it yet. I let them soak with all of my silverware, and flush hot water through them, and they come out wonderfully clean! I will update in the future, should they ever break!

These straws are made of Pyrex-quality glass (Borosilicate glass – the strongest commercially available). I don’t know how many of you use Pyrex in you daily life, but I have for many years now (also proudly made in the USA). Here’s a short story to demonstrate what Pyrex-quality consists of. One day I pulled out of my driveway and started driving down the road. In my rear view mirror I saw something go flying off the top of my car, at maybe 35 mph. I slammed on the brakes, backed up, and there was one of my Pyrex storage containers I had placed on top of my car and obviously forgotten about. It had skid marks on the bottom, but not even a chip out of it! I don’t recommend trying this, but just want to give you an idea of how tough this glass can be. Had it landed differently, it may have shattered. I just had a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup fall from high up on the shelf and literally explode all over the kitchen. It was ~13 years old, and has fallen unscathed before. SO, the stuff can break, of course. But, under normal use, the stuff can last a lifetime. I’m expecting the same from these straws. The company offers this guarantee: Hassle-Free Lifetime Guarantee Against Breakage If, for any reason*, your GlassDharma Drinking Straw should break, click the link below for instructions and a form to obtain your replacement. NOTE: Although we offer this unbelievable guarantee, we are NOT claiming that they are unbreakable. (Any more than your Pyrex coffee pot or pie plate would be.) Purposely “testing” GlassDharma straws is not advised and in some cases may result in the guarantee being voided.

Are straws a necessity of life? Of course not. But, those of you with older children are probably aware the kids LOVE drinking through straws. Think of all the plastic straws many families will go through in a lifetime without thinking twice about it. I, and many of you, are on missions to rid our homes & lives of plastic to the greatest extent possible. This is one more great, reusable product that can help you achieve that goal. We drink smoothies at least every-other-day. I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed drinking through the glass straw. I give babe the short one, and I use the one with the slight bend towards your lips (see the photo). I don’t know why, but it just seems to go down extra smooth! Whenever we have smoothies, babe goes to the drawer for his straw.

Here’s what the company has to say about plastic straws: PLASTIC STRAWS are always in the top 10 of number of items collected during beach cleanups. Some folks ask “Why do we need a beverage delivery system, anyway?” Well, it’s true that up until about 100 years ago nobody had one, so they are not essential for the average person for survival, but here’s the catch: Would anybody seriously think that we could outlaw drinking straws? A large population shows no willingness to do without their straws, so as long as there are people that want to use a drinking straw, then we need to find materials and processes that do not impact our planet the way plastic straws currently do.

PRICE: You may be expecting these to be outrageously expensive. I’m happy to report that is not the case. I feel they are quite affordable, and I am on a tight budget as most of you are. There is a choice of diameters and lengths, and some are plain, and some a little fancier. They run from $7-$12. They also offer sets which’ll save you $5.

FOCUS: The GlassDharma philosophy is not to try to be all things to all people. Our focus is to do what we can do and what we do best. Single use plastics are not only one of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution, it is also one of the (relatively) easier issues to remedy – at least when it comes to stopping the pollution. Cleaning up what is already there is another topic for discussion. Our company’s focus is on drinking straws. The GlassDharma mission is to create world-wide awareness about single use plastics and how damaging plastic straws are to our environment. Glass Straws provide an alternative that eliminates the need for straws made from plastic.

Please check out their website for more information at: Straws proudly made in Fort Bragg, CA.

Many have asked about the Mason jar lid, it came from Re-Cap:


UPDATE 2/25/18, NEARLY 5 YEARS LATER!!! In our almost 5 years of using them now, pretty much DAILY, we’ve only broken one, and not under normal use. My Son’s friend was trying to hammer it into the ground like it was a stake (reason unknown), it broke. I did not request a free replacement 🙂 Seriously, do not let your fear of glass steer you away from these!

Way Out Wax Review

Way Out Wax

I was thrilled when a representative from Way Out Wax contacted me to offer some samples up for review. Why? Because it had been nearly 2 years since I burned a candle in my home. I remember my last candle well– I was a new mom, and had recently found the FB page Raising Natural Kids, where I read a post on the dangers of synthetic fragrances found in candles & air fresheners in general. I distinctly remember I had a candle burning at the time. I looked over at my fresh new baby sleeping on the couch, and snuffed out the candle. I threw most of them in the garbage (which I regretted a couple months ago when our power went out, the batteries in our flashlight were dead & I had to dig very hard for a candle). You can read below about the issue surrounding synthetic fragrances. I’ve learned to live without, and not miss, smelling up my home. But I have to say, it sure has been nice to enjoy a mild scented candle again with n0 concern for the health of my family or the environment. The Way Out Wax website has so much great information on it, I’m going to start by sharing what they have to say: (

  • Our waxes are 100% natural and biodegradable.
  • We use 100% soy wax in all of our container candles (cobalt glass, travel tins and colored votive glass)
  • Our soy wax is 100% pesticide free and GMO-free
  • Soybeans are a renewable resource, grown right here in the United States. Soy wax is a great way to support American farmers
  • Our scents come from 100% pure essential oils without any dyes or synthetic fragrance. Essential oils are obtained through highly labor-intensive processes which extract the vital essence of aromatic plants from the flowers, fruits, sap, seeds or skin of the plant, as well as the bark, leaves, roots, resins or wood of certain trees. These oils are often referred to as the “life force” of plants and contain unique and varied therapeutic properties.
  • What are synthetic fragrances? Synthetic Fragrance oils are primarily made from petrochemicals and attempt to duplicate the smell of a specific plant. By dismantling the unique chemical compound of an essential oil, chemists re-assemble a “Frankenstein” fragrance. A 1986 report by the National Academy of Sciences reports that 95 percent of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins and synthesizers capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
  • What aren’t they telling us? The FDA does not require fragrance manufacturers to disclose the ingredients of synthetic fragrances because these formulas are regarded as “proprietary.” Such “proprietary” ingredients commonly include numerous known carcinogens but are protected under the FDA’s “trade secret” law.
  • How harmful are these fragrances? Even after banning methylene chloride (a known carcinogen that also causes autoimmune disease) in 1989, an EPA study two years later listed the chemical as one of the 20 most common chemicals found in fragrance products. In a 2001 study, the EPA reported that synthetic fragrances were shown to cause “possible mutagenic and genotoxic effects.” Synthetic fragrances have also been shown to contain hormone disruptors which are linked to abnormal cell reproduction and may result in tumor growth. None of our products contain additives: At Way Out Wax, we’re convinced that pure essential oils, 100% biodegradable and natural waxes and unbleached cotton or hemp wicks are the only ingredients necessary for making a GREAT candle. In our minds, everything else that the candle industry uses classifies as an “additive.” The chemicals utilized by many candle companies and the “fragrance” industry are unhealthy to work with and unhealthy to burn.

So, here’s what I was sent:

I received a Sweet dreams candle in a colored glass votive (lavender, lemongrass & marjoram scented, 2 oz., $7.99 each, up to 24 hours burn time ), which has a wonderful, subtle, fresh scent. Also a 4 pack of lavender tea lights ($4.99/4 pack- up to 6 hr burn time/candle). None of the scents are very strong, they are wonderfully subtle. There is something about burning a candle that does lend a peaceful, tranquil feel to the house. Although I lived without them for nearly 2 years, it has been very wonderful to enjoy them once again. I will be ordering a few to keep around the house!!

There are so many candles to choose from- categories include: aromatherapy, unscented, tealights, true organics (100% certified organic essential oils), Vermont soy (7 unique blends created as a tribute to Vermont), clean air (air freshener spray), bug out, and gift baskets. You can choose your scent, and then choose your size/burn time. For example a 1” X 2” votive lists 15 hrs. of burn time, vs. a large round 3” X 6” which lists 65 hrs. of burn time, with many choices in between. You can choose from travel tins, cobalt blue glass jars, frosted tumblers, tea lights, votive, pillars, all the options you could possibly want in a candle!

How is burn time calculated? “Burn time is truly a moving target, as drafts, length of extended burning and other variable factors can greatly affect the outcome. This is why burn time is listed as “up to X hours”, i.e. “in a perfect scenario.” Burn time is generally calculated by burning a large number of candles for the recommended hours per session (a rule of thumb is one inch per hour diameter) and allowing the candles to cool completely before lighting again. Most of our candles’ burn times were calculated as an average of at least 40 or 50 different test burns, which are also conducted for testing a number of other characteristics (scent throw, wick selection, etc).”

I was also sent a Tropical Citrus Room Spray with the following ingredients: water, active ingredients are a proprietary blend of all natural plant extracts and botanical oils (4 oz/$6.99). My one & only concern is the proprietary nature, my page has come to know that I’m a huge advocate of full-disclosure. Of course, they cite the need to protect the product recipe from being stolen, which is what all companies who put proprietary blend on their labels cite. I have no reason not to trust this company, but really like to know exactly what is going into the products I’m using. I was sent the safety sheet as a pdf which I will gladly forward to anyone interested in taking a look. I saw no concerns other than don’t spray in eyes, common sense stuff. About the spray: This powerful mist electrostatically attaches to odor particles and neutralizes them, rather than just masking the unpleasant odor. Ideal for kitchen, bathroom locker room and cigarette smoke, Clean Air sprays are revolutionizing all-natural odor removal, while supporting better personal and environmental health. I normally use a homemade air freshener which consists of water & my favorite essential oils, which does just mask smells, not “eat” them, but I’ve been perfectly happy with that option.

Here’s a full Catalog:

Their website:

And FB page:

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