Tuesday, October 25, 2016

**Info Probe** Oh,Ghee, Butter and Grass-fed Things for Food and for.. Hair???

Ghee, let's talk

If you have ever tried to clean up your nutritional habits, you've had to start reading food labels more carefully than you might have before.

Prior to going "Keto", I've never tried very hard to change my eating habits. I did try eating more vegetables (via juicing) and getting more water into my daily diet, and I have done the low-calorie thing. The most involved I've been with food labels is reading the calorie counts. 

Since I have begun eating "ketogenically", I have become really interested in food labels. Bigger than that, I am interested in the truth  of those labels. The basic idea behind a keto diet is eating low-carb. high-fat, and clean. The low-carb/high-fat part doesn't faze me, but that "clean" part? That's going to be kind of tricky.

One of the first habits I gained when I started the Keto diet was to drink "Bullet Proof Coffee" (or BPC). My BPC is coffee blended with butter and coconut oil and whole/heavy cream. It has replaced my coffee with flavored creamers. It has replaced sodas and juices. Just about the only thing I drink these days is tea with cream, BPC or Pellegrino sparkling water or flat water. No more Almond Joy Creamer or apple-orange juice blends for me. 

When I learned about BPC, I was kind of grossed out. I tried it (using sweet cream butter and coconut oil and some half and half) and was really grossed out. I had forgotten to blend the concoction - which makes ALL the difference. Then I learned that I should be using butter from grass-fed cows. I'd never before paid attention to the type of butter I was using, other than whether or not it was salted or unsalted. Who knew?

Once I got the hang of drinking butter in my coffee (and started seeing results with my weight and energy levels), I started paying more attention to the butter I was using. This is the brand of butter that I started out using in my coffee- and still use for some of my food needs. It's the one that is most readily available at our local stores (including Walmart and Costco):

I've found one other brand that is labeled as being from grass-fed cows.

As far as using butter in coffee, I guess I should point out a couple of "Why's":
  • Q - Why use butter at all (in coffee)? A - It's a great substitute for the morning "breaking of the night fast" (breakfast), and it satisfies hunger.
  • Q - Why use grass-fed butter? A - In theory, it's healthier to eat butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows. In theory. I'll be getting to more in that in a moment.
  •  Also, adding butter and coconut oil gives Keto eaters some of their desired daily fat macronutrients.
In theory, butter from the milk of grass-fed cows is supposed to be higher in antioxidants that are heart healthy. I say "in theory" because this is only true if you are getting actual grass-fed butter. Labeling is a problem with any products here in the U.S. and as a consumer, I'm learning that I have to look at food labels very closely. The information I see may not always be as straightforward as it should be. This is what the term "grass-fed" generally means (according to USDA standards):
meat obtained from cows that were raised, after weaning, on a diet of grass (and other forage, like clover) situated in pasture and, when fresh grass is unavailable, hay.
The standards were established in 2007 but wasn't used by all beef producers anyway. In January 2016, the USDA stopped using the definition since they can't do the all the on-site inspections needed to verify the standard is being met. There are other options for how the grass fed standards will be determined. (Believe it or not, I first heard of the whole issue via a Cracked Magazine article. This is why I file Cracked in my "News You Can Use" file...)

It's not enough that I have to worry about the truth and lies in labeling, but also about whether or not a food is GMO- and pesticide-free, right? The USDA has standards for that also, by the way. It's almost as if we as consumers need to take a crash course in standards and practices of the food industry before we head to the grocery store!

Now that I am a few months into the ketogenic diet, I am adjusting foods and ingredients to suit my budget and preferences. One major change I've made is to start using ghee instead of my other butter. Purity Farms is the first brand I found locally. (You can see a photo further below.)

I had multiple reasons for even trying ghee. One was that Kerry Gold has "improved" their butter and the improvements possibly involve changes that I would find unhealthy. I'm still checking that claim out and I have a small reserve of the "old" Kerry Gold butter on hand for now. The other reason I wanted to at least try using ghee was that I'd heard it was a bit denser in certain nutrients. Here's how ghee compares to butter:

Source: Dr Axe
I'm looking at the higher nutrient contents in particular. It's a bonus that the smoke point is higher for ghee, which means it's easier to cook with.

As with any other food product, consumers will want the best quality item. I found a list of things to look for in ghee. I bolded the things that matter most to me personally. The list and notes are from the same source I just linked:

  • Grass Fed (Buying ghee that is made from cows that were fed on grass rather than fed on grain (as most North American dairy producers do) is more in line with how cows in India are raised. The consensus is that cows that are fed grass produce milk that has more flavors and is more nutrient rich than cows that are fed grain. Some ghee producers don’t even don’t collect milk from the cows during the summer months when the grass is dry and isn’t as nutritious for the cows.)
  • Organic (If you are eating ghee for its health benefits it is well worth considering buying organic. Many of the most popular brands are organic.)
  • Cultured Ghee (Regular ghee does not use cultured cream and thus retains some of the casein:  Tin star is cultured and Pure Indian also offers cultured ghee. Cultured ghee has a more buttery taste. Many people prefer the taste and aroma of cultured foods. It is also made in such a way that has absolutely no casein or lactose (lab tested).)
  • Certified Casein- and Lactose-Free (Many ghee products claim to be casein and lactose free, although this does mean that there can still be trace amounts of casein and lactose. If you think that may be problematic to you Pure Indian Food Ghee does do lab tests to ensure that their ghee can be certified free of lactose and casein.)
  • Made in Small Batches (Another big selling point for many of the most popular ghee brands is that they are made in small batches. This helps with quality control, as well as keeping connected to traditional way of making ghee and to the Ayurveda way.)
  • Traditional or Ayurveda techniques being used (Many people believe that in order to make the most healthful and healing ghee, there are many things that need to go into the setting that it is made. It need to be made in a peaceful and positive environment, It is best to make Ghee on the waxing fortnights of the moon as the milk and butter are energized at this time.)
  • Price (If you want ghee that is grass fed and organic, be prepared to pay quite a lot per ounce. Since many of the most popular ghee products aren’t mass produced the cost does end up in the price tag.)
  • Shelf Life (Generally the shelf life of an opened jar is 3 months without refrigeration, and one year in the fridge.)
  • Jar Size (You can buy ghee in a number of different jar sizes. Remember when you are ordering just buy what you will finish in about three months. Ghee can be stored longer, but three months is when it tastes the freshest.)

Ghee is a traditional item in certain Asian cultures and, as you can see, it ties into the heritage and religions of the peoples. Since I am using the product strictly for health benefits, I am less concerned with some of the above-mentioned aspects. I listed all the things mentioned out of respect for the culture and heritage of the peoples who have given us the product.

Without ordering online, my access to ghee here in Alaska is pretty limited. I did find two brands to compare. Actually, I found three brands, but the third was out of my price range.

I will give the Pros and Cons of the two brands I did try.

First up, is Purity Farms. I found it for $8.09 at a local specialty market.


  • The label was very informative!
  • Smells great 
  • Has a great flavor right off the spoon and in my coffee
  • It meets a lot of the criteria I listed as preferable
  • The price was affordable for my budget ($8.09 for 7.5oz so apprx $1.08 per ounce)
  • The outer plastic wrapper obscures the product.
  • The product itself is of a hard consistency. Very hard.

This is the Deep brand

  • The consistency is what I expected & wanted
  • The product was visible around the label
  • The flavor was great in my coffee
  • The price was better than the Purity Farms brand ($9.99 for 16oz bottle or apprx $0.62 per ounce)
  • The label is not informative past basic nutrition info
  • I had to find info online and it was still incomplete
  • Also, not lactose-free...

The Deep brand is my favorite as far as the texture but, oddly, I like the flavor of the Purity Farms brand best. It's a close call between the two as far as flavor, but I could swear that the P.F. brand is more pronounced and slightly sweeter. I do have another cold, though, so I will hold judgment until I can tell for sure.

The issue of texture reminds me of my preference in coconut oils where there is a big difference between the refined and unrefined versions - regardless of any brand I've tried. I prefer the unrefined coconut oils because of the texture. It's softer and melts easily with natural body heat. With the ghee, I'm using it (mostly) in hot coffee so that isn't too big of a deal. Just personal whims.
Lactose-intolerant people would probably feel more comfortable using the Purity Farms ghee.The label is very clear about the exclusion of casein and lactose. The Deep brand's website wasn't much help because it kept rejecting the UPC code for the product. What a pain in the butt that I need to input that code just to get more product info! Lame, lame, lame. So, I emailed the company.

So, no, the Deep brand wouldn't work well for someone trying to avoid the lactose. The GMO issue is iffy. (I still like it and since it's a brand I can find locally, I will use it until I finish it and order another brand online. Dangit.)

Neither brand gives enough information on their labels, by the way. I think that, for some people, their choice will come down to flavors and textures.

Now, let's talk hair...?

I'm not sure how anyone else might feel about using ghee and/or butter and coconut oil in their cofee. I do know that lots of people use coconut oil for their hair and skin. Guess what? Ghee and butter are used by some people for that same thing.
Here in my town, ghee is considered "ethnic" and is usually located with the Indian foods in stores. I find it a bit delightful that the Indian and Ethiopian cultures met up to create food and beauty uses for something as common as butter.
I was actually just searching for information about ghee when I first saw articles talking about how Ethiopians use butter to style and treat their hair. When I looked further into the subject, I learned Niter kibbeh - a seasoned clarified butter that Ethiopians cook with. (You guys know that I will be looking for some of that to use in my cooking!) What I wanted to know about though was using butter for the hair.
The first piece of info I found was by an Ethiopian hair stylist talking about the Kibeh (or Kibae) treatment for hair. This apparently entails applying an "Ethiopian hair butter cream" whip to the hair then doing a 20-30 steam treatment. 
Since I really couldn't find any type of "hair butter cream" anywhere else, I'm not sure if all of them are made the same way. Here is a purchasing link for the one just mentioned. (Please note that I am not being compensated in any way for sharing that link. I had not even heard of the salon until writing this post.)  There are recipes all over for making your own homemade ghee and clarifed butter. I'm lazy and will continue buying mine for now! Here is one recipe.
There are also other ways to use ghee for hair and skin beauty:
  • This article lists several uses & mentions mixtures that can be made by adding milks and other products. (I did try this on my skin. It's does seem richer and more moisturizing than the thinner coconut oil.I used mine after a warm showerd. The smell was stronger and a bit off-putting while I had my torso, neck and face slathered. Instead of rinsing, I used a warm towel dotted with a couple of drops of food grade orange oil to wipe away the excess. Have to say that my skin felt marvelous! The orange oil took away the butter smell.
  • More uses listed here. That ghee can be used for eczema is interesting to me. With my poor immune system, I've been dealing with small patches of eczema on my feet. I'm going to check with my dermatologist about using the ghee & I will let you guys know the results.)
  • One of the most interesting links I found was one discussing using an Ayurvedic remedy called Shata dhauta ghrita used for soothing burns, scars and other bothersome skin irritations. The recipe is simple: ghee and water, but it requires some mixing procedures. (I also noticed that there is a suggestion for a particular brand of ghee.)
  • Since I mentioned using ghee for the hair, I thought it would be nice to see how that worked for others. One blogger likes the results she got. Another user listed the pros and cons of her experience.
Since I was already using ghee and coconut oil in my coffee, I decided to make things easier for myself. I took an empty jar and mixed some ghee with coconut oil and turmeric powder. You guys might remember my talking a long while back about adding a touch of turmeric to my coffee. It's a habit I have kept up while drinking BPC. Now that I am using the butter on my skin and hair, I will need another empty jar to mix coconut oil and ghee.

If any of you are using ghee for your skin and hair, please share your recipes.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

**REVIEW** Mink Lashes

There is something very sexy about nice lashes. Actually, I think the first thing most people notice about someone's face is their smile and/or their eyes. I recently got to see how adding more lashes can oomph up someone's look. These are the lashes I'm talking about:

These are lashes from Tricky Hair Extensions. The glam is serious with these because, get this, they are made of 100% mink fur. Yes, mink. I felt sparkly and dressed up just saying that!

I used my niece Gabrielle as a model for a couple of reasons. One: she is beautiful bare-faced (and I wanted Before photos of her eyes). Two: the girl has beautiful eyes and can really rock some makeup.  (Also, she has that youthful, glow-y skin.)

Since Gabby had almost no complaints about the lashes - just that she had to work a bit to comb them into her desired shape once they were on - I will just let the photos speak for the product.

#1 - Gabby's bare lashes. As you can see, I wasn't lying about the pretty shape of my niece's eyes. Where I am a lipstick person, Gabby likes to dress up her eyes and she will match her eyeshadow to whatever outfit she is wearing. This is a big reason that I wanted her as my model!

#2 - She said that getting them on wasn't difficult. She did have to trim the outer edge to fit her lid length. She said that she had to separate some of the lashes because they tangled a bit. Don't forget, these lashes are really lush and full.

 #3 As you can see,  the chick has some pretty eyes (and eyebrows). She wanted to show a contrast of lash on/lash off...

 #4 - She noted that curling the lashes defined the shape better for her upturned oval eye shape. The lashes are not difficult to work with for anyone who has ever worn other lashes. 

#5 - The finished look up close. The lashes are very lush!

#6 - All finished with the rest of her eye makeup. IMO, Gabby's eyes look very defined and great even though she went lighter on her eye makeup.

#7 - She wanted to show how nice the lashes look in full on sunlight. I think she's working the glam well.

Notice that these lashes are lush and sexy but not too much for day wear. They give Gabby's eyes a nice bit of pop and she can still look professional at work - and she does have a professional and semi-conservative career.

Thanks to Gabby for being my model. She likes the lashes a lot and loves the extra dress up for her eyes. Thanks to Tricky Hair for letting us try these lashes. In addition to 3D mink lashes, Tricky Hair sells clip-in hair extensions. Visit their site and take a look around.


Disclosure: I received one or more of the products at a discount or no charge in exchange for doing a fair and honest review.

Friday, October 14, 2016

ChiroDoc Coccyx Cushion

Because I spend so much time in my chair writing (too much time, actually), I was glad to try out this seat cushion when it was offered:

That is the ChiroDoc Coccyx Seat Cushion. This is what mine looked like when I unboxed it:

I have tried two other cushions before. One worked so well, I gave it to my sister to use in her wheelchair seat. The other cushion was a disappointment. In spite of the price which, at $32 and change is average for something decent, the quality was low. I think that cushion lasted a full week before it had to be fluffed every couple of hours. It was never really very comfortable after the initial 24-hour testing period anyway. That one went to the garbage.

The chair that I use when writing is old. I'm kind of attached to it though. I feel like I need to finish the two projects I'm working on before I can get rid of it. Besides, chairs are not cheap. My current chair still functions in every way - it can be raised and lowered and the back can be adjusted - it's just no longer very nice to my butt. If I don't use some kind of padding, I can just about feel the metal supports leaving marks on my tail. I've been using some of those cheap decorative pillows made for outdoor furniture. This new cushion came in on the 5th and I just about hurt myself ripping the box open.

Before I go on, let me tell you what the product page for this item told  me to expect:

  • That it's designed to fit the shape of the butt
  • That it relieves lower back pain
  • That it will improve posture
  • That it never goes flat,
  • and can be used anywhere (ex: for traveling)
  • That the covering is hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
Okay. That's their take. Here's mine:

I can tell you that it does fit my butt. It's shaped the way most seat cushions are - to fit human contours. I can't attest to the back pain relief because I don't have that problem. I also don't think it does anything for my posture. That would take my cooperation. When I am sitting and writing, I usually slouch back with one leg propped up on something. (Do not judge me.) 

For this post, I wanted to test how well the cushion would hold up under a lot of use. For three days, I clocked my time spent sitting to write. Thursday through Saturday, I put a total of 15.5 hours in at the computer. Friday was my longest time (6.5 hours) and I have to tell you, my behind felt better than it usually does after long writing sessions.

Without something padding this old chair seat, my butt usually starts getting numb after two or three hours. Some kind of cushioning only  helps a bit. Sitting on this cushion was nice. I still needed to get up and move around every couple of hours, but I think that's only natural. It was the comfort I got while  sitting that made such a difference. I will have to come back and update down the road but, so far, this memory foam does seem to bounce back nicely.

So, yeah, I can give a thumbs up to the comfort factor. As far as how well this cushion would travel, it's not at all heavy (just over 1 pound), but it will take up some room in your carry-on. The measurements: 17.7 x 13.7 x 2.8 inches. That's not huge and I suppose, you could fold the cushion, but I travel with as little hand-baggage as possible.

The covering is removable in case you're like me and will want to launder it. I don't plan on sharing my cushion with anyone but this little dirt goblin here:

I don't know about all 4-year-olds, but DJ is truly a bundle of energy and dirt. He's like a dirt magnet and, of course, he likes to invade Auntie's bedroom and, of course, he usually goes straight to the tiny corner I use as a writing area. Of course.

Probably, I will be washing the cushion at least once every few weeks. 

Like I said, if I need to, I will come back and update this post but, as of now, I will rate this cushion as 5 out of 5 stars.


DISCLOSURE: I received the item(s) either at a discount or no cost in exchange for sharing my opinion.

Friday, October 07, 2016

**REVIEW** Cartoon Piggy Bank ATM

This is the "Cartoon Piggy Bank" sold on Amazon by Jhua.

It's cute, right? I wouldn't call it a "piggy bank" though. The shape is all wrong, and the image isn't even of a pig... 

I think I see a panda....


Okay, so it's not a traditional "piggy bank", but it is a neat little bank. It is, in my opinion, suitable for kids and adults. The packaging labels the bank as being for "Ages 3+" but the features are nice for anyone:
  • It's set up like a little ATM
  • Works with a password
  • Takes both bills and coins
  • Voice prompts user when entering password correctly or incorrectly
  • Lights flash when entering passwords (red for incorrect & green for correct)
  • Beeping reminders when door left open
  • Comes with preset password (can be changed by user)
The unit is plastic and not very heavy (when empty) but it is sturdy.  

I think that kids (okay, and adults) will like using this just because of the ATM-like features. The password might deter snooping siblings and little visitors.


One of the corners screws was missing on the unit I got. Not a huge deal because the other 3 screws are nice and tight, but... I'm sure that if I contact the Seller, they will be happy to send me a replacement, but that's a lot of hassle since I see no reason to ever be removing that entire backplate.

This comes with decent instructions but I did get a little annoyed because of a misprint. What is the most important thing when buying something like this for a kid? Batteries, right? Well, at first glance, the back of the box shows the battery compartment and labels the 3 battery slots with "AAA". The note to the side of this illustration indicates "AA" batteries. By the way, the correct answer is... "AA" size batteries.

You're going to need AA batteries, folks

Other than the problem of thinking I already the correct batteries on hand (and having to run out and get the right ones), I really like this little bank. I plan to give it to my nephew for either his December birthday or Christmas.

You will notice in my disclosure that I got this item at no cost in order to do a review. That's really good because as I write this post the Amazon price is $26.88. That's a little bit steep for something I would get a three-year-old, but I'd get it for someone 6+. DJ will be getting this review sample when he is five. He's a really smart 5 though!

How'd it work?

Watch as I demonstrate the bank. (You should be able to view the video as soon as it's finished uploading!)

To sum up, this is a good gift item and the features are really nice - they are even something of a learning tool for young ones. Just be aware that you will need to get your own "AA" batteries - not "AAA" - before you can use it. This bank is pretty useless without batteries.

You can find the item here on Amazon. 


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the items mentioned at a discount or no cost in exchange for doing a fair and unbiased review. Because of changes n their policy, I can no longer review these Amazon items on Amazon, but that's where they can be purchased.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Open Letter to Amazon About the Policy Change

Dear Amazon:

For a big and influential company, you sure didn't use your smarts this time. About 10 minutes after I received a morning delivery of Amazon items to review, I saw the online news about the policy change on product reviews.

My first thought was how to deal with the stuff I have yet to review. My next thought was this:

                         Amazon Policy Change = Good Idea. Great Idea.
                         Implementation of the Change = Lazy & loophole-laden

No doubt about it, there are some cheating, lying and totally untrustworthy reviewers out there. I'm just hurt that you, Amazon, choose to paint me with the same brush as those cheats. I'm also a little suspicious of your motives now that I know you plan to use only your system (Vine) of choosing reviewers. And that is in spite of the fact that I think I meet the criteria of being chosen to participate in Vine.

A policy change was needed, but one better and smarter. You, Amazon, surely have the money for that. With this policy you've chosen, you are only penalizing the honest sellers and reviewers and opening a wider door for the cheats.

Do you think that cheating sellers won't find a way around this new system of yours? 

Do you think cheating reviewers won't work with those cheating sellers?

Since I'm not one of the cheats, I probably will be part of the group that loses out. Yes, I like getting free and discounted stuff. Of course, I do. Almost anyone does. That doesn't mean that will steal or lie or cheat to get it. Doing product reviews was the one HONEST way I found to get free stuff that I like.

If you look at my reviewing record, Amazon, you might notice that one of my reviews (a freebie) was the reason a product was taken off sale. You might also notice that I go back and do updates. Often. If I like a product at first, but then have problems with it, I make sure to let other community members know about it.  Same goes for products I down-rated at first, then later liked 

As a member of a site for reviewers, I've even questioned the behavior of some sellers. The site moderators always handled the problem. This is another reason, by the way, that I think you might consider working with some of there outside sites. Keep things honest, but not keep things to yourself. I'm just saying.

You do get the final word though. You are the boss. Fine. I'm sure that other companies - like Walmart - or sites - like Overstock - will pick up the slack you leave. Or, like I mentioned before, cheating people will find a way around your new policy.

It's such a shame that you didn't put more thought into your policy changes. I wish you had. Then again, I also wish you would take a look at your crazy Prime membership pricing. 

I hope that you sort this policy out so that it will be fair to fair people and punishing to dishonest people. In the meantime, I will be awaiting an invitation to Vine.


Friday, September 30, 2016

***RANT*** Dunning-Kruger Effect (in daily life)

I was reading a Salon article about this thing called the Dunning-Kruger Effect and almost shouted right out loud, "Oh, my damn!!!" because a lightbulb went on. The article was about Trump, but my thoughts immediately flashed to people I personally know.

Let me give you the nutshell definition so that you can also do the shout-and-thought-flash thing:
a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.(Wikipedia)
Did you shout out and thought-flash?

Self-absorbed and oblivious...: This was such an epiphany for me. I've struggled for years to accurately label certain combinations of behaviors. This nailed it.

You know people afflicted with the D-K E. Sure you do. Or, rather, you've been afflicted with people with the effect. (You know what I mean.) Let's do a rundown of people you might know who...:

  • Think that they absolutely must be the center of attention always. 
  • Express everything bigger than need be. If they talk, they talk loud. Step on their toe or bump into them, they shriek. 
  • Never treat others the way they expect to be treated. For them the Golden Rule is only used to measure their own importance. Their time is more important than yours. Their need for peace and quiet is more important than yours. When they are tired, the whole world must stop and bow down while they rest up. Your time? Meh. You're tired? Well, buck up and quit being such a wimp. You need a little downtime to think, breathe or recoup? ~eyeroll~
  • They want what they want what they want, damned be the consequences or fallout.
  • When they do for you, it comes with a list of unspoken conditions longer than a lease agreement for a credit card. When you do for them, it should be because a) They are so loveable (plus, you owe them), b) They just did something for you (so you owe them). or b) They will make sure to get credit for it in some way (back pats and sympathy are the two favorites).
  • They can be quite loveable - with a lot of patience on your part.
  • Everything they do is for manipulation, sympathy, credit, or show.

I have found a wonderful way of dealing with oblivious or distracting D-K E people. I use it all the time, especially in the "quiet" rooms of the library or when I am trying to write:

*planet explodes*  Me: *takes out one earbud*  Me: "What?":
True story

You should be ashamed. You're no longer a journalist or good Anchorman. Just sheep cow cowing  the political Powers. Douchebags!!!: Don't get me wrong, all of us who know these types of people do truly love them. But it is exhausting. There is always a constant feeling of guilt and self-doubt in relatioships with D-K E people. Always.

Donald Trump is not a completely bad person. He's not stupid and as he likes to point out when some of his negative behavior is questioned: maybe he's just being smart. I guess it is smart to manipulate things and people to always get what you want. I just wonder if it's satisfying...


Disclaimer: This is a non-political post. I spend as little time as I can thinking about Trump or his antics. Less stress.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What's Sparkling in YOUR Water?

Water. It's the one thing that my Keto diet recommends that I was having trouble with. (Well, that and giving up my Almond Joy creamer!). Don't get me wrong, I am drinking more water than I used to, but unless I get the kind I like, it's a challenge. If you're having the same problem, take a look at some tips I've had suggested to me:
  • Adding lemon (or lime) juice to the H2O. Lemon is supposed to be good for the body anyway so, adding some to the water makes me feel like I'm doing doubly good.
  • Getting the water as cold as possible works for some folks. I'll explain to you about my temp preference in a moment.
  • Drinking the water at room temperature works better for some people.
  • Drinking through a straw. I've heard some of my friends say that they can do triple the amount of daily water just by using a straw. It's something to do with getting more per gulp.
  • Adding low-cal or no-cal "water enhancers". I went through a kick of bingeing on the Target and Walmart brands of those tiny squeeze bottles of flavorings. Watermelon-Strawberry was my first and favorite. I got burned out though and only use them every now again. The best thing about them (or at least this is true for the Market Pantry brand) is that they don't have any of that icky aftertaste of no-cal stuff. Oh, and they are no-carb** also. Score!
  • Training your taste buds to like water. That might mean cutting back in the juices and other sugary sippings.
  • Choosing bubbly water. And that's what I really want to talk about.
There are all kinds of fizzy waters. Fizzy, bubbly, sparkling - whatever you want to call them. I generally shop Walmart, Target, Costco and Sam's for the bulk of my groceries. The common bubbly waters I see are Perrier (so chi-chi!), Pellegrino, La Croix, and this newer one (to me anyway) called Voss. Oh, and don't forget the club sodas and seltzers. 

Just a quick note about the differences between the seltzers and clubs and mineral waters. It seems to have to do with what gives the drink its bubbles or fizziness. Clubs and seltzers get the carbonation from carbon dioxide. Mineral waters are bubbly from naturally occurring carbonation.

For me, the winner is....
Just looking at the pic makes me crave!

Now, you wouldn't think that there'd be enough difference to influence preferences. Wrong! I, for one, am extremely picky about my bubbly water. I am just so-so about Perrier, but I looooove San Pellegrino water. Not the flavored kinds (too many carbs and there's something about the taste), but the plain old mineral water. I am seriously addicted to the stuff and have been for years. Thank God I have a Costco membership. I can get a 12 pack of the 25.3oz glass (love the glass, by the way) bottles for just about $20. The case wouldn't last more than a couple of weeks if I had a bigger budget, but I manage to make the purchase last most of the month.

The reason I prefer Pellegrino does not come down to just taste. Pelligrino has n advantage over some other "bubblies" such as, say, Perrier. Here's what another blogger notes:
Perrier is, in fact, certified by the French government as a natural mineral water, which means that it has a stable composition of ‘healthy properties’.  San Pellegrino, however, not only contains minerals, but can actually claim to have some naturally occurring bubbles (although they are indeed enhanced substantially by the addition of carbon dioxide).
Since I learn a lot of information about my keto diet from people with more actual experience, I was pleased when I saw what I found on Bulletproof regarding sulfates in San Pellegrino.

I wanted to do a comparison of nutrition labels. Naturally, I went straight to the sources - the sites of San Pell and Perrier. I can tell you another thing I prefer: the less annoying and easier loading site of San Pell. (Did you notice I'm on familiar terms with "San Pell"? Hahaha) Neither site makes it easy to find nuts and bolts info - such as detailed nutrition labels. Mostly, they are all fancied up, showing off how elegant their products are. The freaking websites have more sparkle than the waters!

Let me stop and shout out a message to these brands:
Not everyone drinking your water does so as a class statement. Some of us are just "regular" folk (aka: not rich, famous, jet-setting, or trying to impress anyone else). We like your water and would like it even if it didn't 'pair well' with certain foods. So please get over yourselves. Maybe you could make separate websites for us 'common' folk. 
Okay, rant over.

I was able to find labels on Wikipedia, so here is a side-by-side:

My beloved San Pell has more magnesium, sodium, calcium, and lots more sulfates . And... hold up the horse-drawn carriage! San Pell has lithium???? Hot dang. No wonder my nerves are a bit more b.s.-proof after a couple bottles of the sparkly! (By the way, like many people, I kept mixing up sulfates and sulfites.)

I have no idea what "strontium" is so let me go look that one up. Apparently, like anything, this supplement has benefits and cautions listed, so do your homework. What I found most interesting is the possible use of strontium to treat osteoporosis. Hmm.

Taste is my primary reason for preferring San Pellegrino. Perrier tastes like it's trying too hard. I get a slight Alka Seltzer-y taste from it. I like putting a bottle of San Pell in the freezer to get super chilly, then I use one of my metal straws to sip it up. Love it. With Perrier (which I have several 16.9oz bottles of thanks to a friend who picked them up for me when she saw a sale), I have to add a little bit of lemon or (and my docs might freak) a few grains of salt. Someone suggested that I add a couple teaspoons of apple or orange juice but... I'm a keto chick now.

I haven't tried many other waters, but I hear people talking all the time about the different brands. There are so many. I have tried La Croix and it's not bad - although a little more seltzer-y than I like. It's what I get on sale when I can't afford San Pell. Schwepps is not bad in a pinch.

If you want more info about the different brands and varieties of waters, check the site 10 Best Water. That's the name. Seriously. Or try BevNet (for info on all things beverage). I'd love to find out about some more affordable waters. I will budget for my San Pell, but I'm going to start looking for coupons!

The main thing that I've learned over the past few years is how important it is to get enough water. Since I've been doing keto, I've cut my beverages down to water and coffee (minus the sugary creamers). I do feel better and I know that between the water and the fats that I'm getting more of has done incredible things for my hair and skin. My hair is growing (and getting thickness back) and the eczema on my feet is almost gone. Even my perfumes smell better and last longer. I think that has to do with the fats I'm eating so much of!

So, drink your water. Find one that you like and read the label, then research the label. And chug, chug, chug! If you notice, the first thing most weight loss programs suggest is to drink lots of water. Not just because it's filling but also because it just so good for you. So, drink up!


** Some very strict keto folk will argue that the substitute sweeteners in the no-cal water enhancers are a no-no. I'm middle of the road on the subject. I no longer go overboard with them like I used to, but they are really nice for certain occasions. Beats drinking a soda when you are out somewhere having a meal.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

**ALERT** Keto Summit 2016 (Hurry!)

You've heard me raving about the keto diet. It's low carb/high fat eating to lose weight. If you want to learn more about it, go over and sign up for the Keto Summit. 

You can sign up for free but if you want extra access features, there are paid options. I'm doing the freebie! Here is the link to sign up for a ticket to be sent to your email:

The 2016 summit runs from September 25 - October 5th and it's an online event. I see that folks can sign up as affiliates so you might want to check that out.

Carrie knows best!:

In case you are wondering, I am not getting paid or compensated for this shout out. I just want to share the word about the keto diet. I'm happy with the way I am not eating. I am losing the weight slower than some people but I don't care. The way I am now eating is so satisfying (and cheap), filling (and cheap), and easy to live by (and cheap) that I can't even think of it as being on a diet.

Ya, what he said!:

Some people I know have been asking about how to get started on this keto regimen.  I'm still learning the basics myself. I just know that I feel better and look better since I've started lowering the carbs and adding healthy fats to my nutrition. So this summit might be the best way to start accumulating information. Also, I will be adding links to more information in upcoming posts.

Someone in a Facebook group told me about the summit and I was glad. I'd never heard of such a thing before. For a diet? Wow. Okay. So I am just was curious as anyone else about the event. I will recap afterwards, depending on how things go.


**REVIEW** Skoother Skin Smoother

First off, let me say that the name is silly. I lost the box for mine and needed to find an image to use for this post. I Googled foot "Smoother" and "Soother" to no avail. Finally, I found a photo on Amazon only by looking up general foot care items. Brands need to be original, I get it, but stop with the cuteness when naming stuff!

Rant over.

This is what I'm talking about:

It's the Skoother Skin Smoother. (Okay, the name is sort of cool, I guess.)

I have to say that I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $6. I can't remember what the original price was, but mine was marked down because the packaging was torn and beat up. The item itself was not used so I was happy to get the bargain.

This is a really nice treatment for the foot, but I still struggle to understand who would use it on any other part of their body. The best thing about this is the mesh filing diskette. It's sort of like PedEgg with more precision.

There are two different mesh screens: one for rougher skin (think calluses), and one with a finer meshing which is supposed to be for more delicate skin. I'll say this one more time, I don't know who would use even the fine mesh on their "delicate" skin. The mesh is finer, but it's still a metal mesh file. Hear me? Metal. Mesh.

Skoother Skin Smoother As Seen on TV Pedicure Rasp Foot File Callus with Micro Abrasion Silicon Screen
The file came with one mesh screen installed  (mine was with the rougher pad), a second callus screen and a screen for more delicate skin. I'm going to smirk every time I talk about that one...


  • This does work really, really well. I used the heavier mesh for my calluses. The finer mesh screen is perfect for my heels and the more delicate areas - of my FEET.
  • The filing is very gentle (but make sure you don't over-use without pausing to check your progress) and took very little elbow grease to use. LOL
  • I didn't end up with a lot of skin ash flying all over the place. That was a problem I had with the PedEgg and other "regular" foot files. It's really gross even if you do the filing over a dirty towel.
  • I like the shape. It's ergonomic and even someone with less hand strength could use the appliance.
  • You do need to clean the screens after almost every use. That's partly because they work so well as removing your dry dead skin! 
  • Removing the screen for cleaning is fairly easy, but you have to watch your fingers. I wish there was a cover for the screen when not in use. 
  • The holding area (a small depression under the mesh) could be a bit deeper. Depending on how bad your feet are, you need to empty the Skoother often. Like I said, it's not hard to remove the screen for cleaning and dumping out the holder, but it's not a joy either.
  • Back to a cover for when not in use, I'd like or something to store the gadget and the extra screens. I just kept the plastic shell of the packaging but that takes up a lot of space.
Those are pretty minor Cons though. The Pros definitely make up for any minor inconvenience. 

You've all heard plenty about my dry a** feet! I've used just about every kind of foot file known to Walmart. This is definitely the best in the category of small, affordable and easily available.

I neglected to take Before photos of my feet for this post. Actually, my feet are looking pretty good ever since I started using a special cream from my dermatologist (eczema issues). This foot smoother is great for my heels and the calluses I get on the outer part of my foot. 

Finally, I have to reiterate this: I don't think it would be a good idea to use anything this abrasive on anything other than the feet. That's just my opinion of course, but there you go.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

**REVIEW** Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

I've been tough on a lot of hair products in the past. Miss Jessie's and Shea Moisture are two of the brands that have disappointed me more than once. Both brands are very expensive for the average working class consumer so I think they should be held to a high standard. I've only found one Miss Jessie's product that I would rate as so-so (which is better than my usual Thumbs Down). Recently, I came across a Shea Moisture product that I actually like quite a lot.

That's the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie from the Shea Moisture label. It self-touts that it will moisturize and "curl define" thick, curly hair. I know I should be thrilled about all the things the product claims to be free of:

  • Sulfates
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Mineral Oil
  • Animal testing
Oh - and it's also color safe and carries the Allure seal. I should care about all that and I do, kind of. What I care most about though is whether or not the stuff works. That's the bottom line for me. After all, a lot of products make the same above claims, but if they don't work, none of it does me a bit of good.

So. Does this "smoothie" define curls and moisturize the hair? I have to admit that it did both for me. Also, the price works. I think I paid around $8 for the 6oz jar at Sally Beauty Supply. That's probably the cheapest Shea Moisture product I've ever seen.

Here are the other Pros:
  • The cream smells amazing. I'm not sure that I smell much of the coconut fragrance and I'm not sure I recall what hibiscus smells like, but the cream smells very fresh and slightly floral. It's not a heavy scent, but it's nice.
  • It doesn't take a lot of the product to moisturize my hair even after washing and drying (when it's at its driest), and it really does add definition to the curl pattern.
  • The cream also provides a bit of "stretch". This is important right after I have washed and dried my hair because that's when I get a lot of shrinkage.
  • I love that the cream is not "heavy" or oily.I can touch my hair without worrying about transferring residue to anything else I touch.
  • The moisturizing and defining effects generally last a few days. There's no need for me to twist or coil my hair to get the definition I like. I can literally do the sleep-and-go thing for up to three to three and a half days before I need to remoisturize.
I think my favorite thing is that, because of the lasting effects, I can get so much use out of this one jar. I'm glad for the affordable price and think it would still be a good bargain if I had to pay a couple more dollars.

Now is when I will go ahead and admit that I am pretty hooked on this stuff. It's all I've been using since I got this jar. 

I think I mentioned recently that, since I've changed my eating habits to keto, I've seen an improvement in the health and growth of my hair. Usually, when I get hair growth, I have problems keeping it styled well. My curl pattern gets crazy with any changes in length. This curl smoothie has been wonderful. I love being able to finger style my hair - instead of having to twist or coil it every few days. And the moisture! It's so nice to get some curl without the crunch!

(The photo is one I took for another post, but you get the idea.)

This one product has made me want to take a look at some other SheaMoisture items. Not the hair stuff because I think the smoothie is all I need for my hair. What I'm talking about is the line of makeup by SheaMoisture. I'd heard about them before but, because I was on an anti-SM groove, I refused to even think about trying something else from them. Now, maybe-maybe. If I do try the makeup, you'll hear all about it!


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