Monday, March 30, 2015

Do you Chaga?

Today*, when I visited the Center (Farmers') Market of Alaska-grown products in our Sears Mall, I didn't intend to spend a penny. Actually, I was only at the mall to pick up a few grocery items from Carrs-Safeway... Yeah, well. Send me near a mall and watch what happens, right?

I'm glad I got detoured and took a look at what the vendors had to offer. I discovered something interesting. This:

These are both nectars made from the Chaga mushroom/fungus. Apparently, this is something that grows all over Alaska (and other places, of course) on birch trees. 

I've been in Alaska almost as long as I have been living. Why did I not know about this?

Chaga is something that many indigenous people use as part of their diet and natural medicinal needs. Native Alaska peoples are very aware of the Chaga mushroom and its benefits. Okay. I not only have lived here most of my life, some of my family is Native Alaskan.

Once again, why did I not know about the Chaga mushroom? Well, probably because I didn't pay attention to everything that this dear woman tried to teach me while she was still here on earth:

In her 60's, she would walk for miles like she was 15 years old!

That's Marie. She's the grandmother to some of my nieces and nephews. I should have listened to her That woman could go for walks from one end of town to the other, just because she could. She could outwalk a teenager! Anyway, Marie, I am paying attention. Finally.

So, about the Chaga mushroom, tea, nectar, etc. There are many benefits. Here are some links for more information:

I haven't looked through all this information myself, but I did get an overview of the benefits from a couple of the vendors at the Farmers Market. I didn't get any of the tea because I wanted to start with the nectar. The vendors explained that I can add the nectar to my tea, coffee and cereals. That's an easy way to get started with something I wanted to ease into using.

Since am fighting immune problems, I decided to invest in a jar of the nectar from the first place I stopped at. Then I ended up getting upset with myself for not checking a stall further down. Different shaped jar, but same amount (just around 5oz) of the nectar for half the price. What I realized a few days later is that the more expensive nectar was also much thicker in texture and had a richer taste. I suspect it had more Chaga than the cheaper brand...

Now, about this Ch-ch-chaga. (You knew I had to do it. And I'm silly from being sleep-deprived. Forgive me.) As with anything, we have to be careful to check with our doctors to make sure that something we ingest doesn't interact badly or interfere with any prescribed medicines or medical conditions. That said, I'm not thrilled with the last doctor I saw and I am looking for a new G.P., so I've gone ahead and used the nectar. I haven't had any negative reactions that I can tell and I've had a couple of labs done since then to check my blood and urine.

Before I get to the various pieces of info I did check out online, let me give you my take on the taste of the 2 nectars I purchased. 

The $10 nectar is plain and sweetened (I can`t remember with what, but here is their Facebook page, if you want to ask). It`s pretty yummy. When I taste-tested it on a spoon before I bought it, I expected it to taste like a flavored honey. At room temp, it looks just like honey but with heavier caramel color. It has the texture of honey. I was surprised that it tasted so much nicer than honey. To me, the taste was sweeter and richer. Like the difference between whole milk and cream. When the vendor was suggesting different ways to use it (in coffee and tea and on my oatmeal or cereal), I remember thinking that I could just keep licking it right off of a spoon. (And I have done this a couple of times since I got the nectar.)

The $5 nectar is with honey and ginger.  It has the same room-temp constency (maybe a little thinner than the other nectar) and it`s lighter in color. You can taste a hint of the ginger and lemon flavor, but they are not overwhelming. (I actually accidentally used it in my coffee and, surprisingly, it was fine.) I have also eaten this one right off a spoon. I`ll get to that whole "off the spoon thing" later.

When I commented before about the differences in pricing, I hadn`t had a chance to notice the nectars after they had been refrigerated. The more expensive nectar was thickened 5-fold. The less expensive one was about the same consistency it had been at room temp. It was a tiny bit thicker, but not nearly as much. I don`t know why this is, but I am going to do more research. I mean, is it because there is more Chaga in the $10 item? Or is it because the other item has ginger and lemon added? Curious, right? (By the way, my nephew - who is half Alaska native - told me that this is because there was more Chaga extract in the thicker nectar. Get what you pay for, yes?)

I have learned a bit from digging around online and talking to a person I trust.
The person I spoke  with (I will call her "May") is a Native Alaskan who respects her heritage and has been practicing the use of natural resources from the land. She told me that her people have been using Chaga since forever. They appreciate the antioxidant powers and healing aspects of the Chaga Mushroom. It still amazes me that this nectar was made using a mushroom that I have grown up seeing yet never paid mind to. I have family members who are natives of this land and this is the one thing none of them ever brought up. I realize now that I probably was just not paying attention.
May explained that the Chaga she uses grows on the sides of Birch trees. She said that they are odd-looking and easy to recognize (hard to mistake, as with some other fungi, berries and plants). 

She described them as looking a little like they have a beard. This is when they are ready for picking. And, weirdly, the mushrooms are hard like wood when they are picked and stored. When you hear "mushroom", you`re probably thinking soft and spongy. (When I saw one of the mushrooms displayed by a vendor, I did think it was just a strange-looking piece of wood. That`s what it looked and felt like. If I had been more coherent, I would have noticed that the item was one of the mushrooms the nectar had been made from.)

I forget the rest of what May told me, but she did advise that I could pick my own Chaga Mushrooms and make my own teas. (I will be talking with her later so I can take notes and update this post.) I also am going to speak with a good friend who will probably be able to help me with making nectar from the mushroom.

From searching around online, I have learned that Chaga is not any kind of a mystery to any culture who does pay attention to nature and its benefits to health and wellness. Note some of the info in the links I provided earlier.

I have learned that you can ingest Chaga as a tea or a powder (to add to food and drink); you can add the nectar to almost anything that you want to sweeten. Now that I know I like it in general, I'm going to give the tea a try. By the way, I saw the Chaga items flavored in many ways: root beer, lemon, ginger, peppermint, etc. (I will stick with my lemon-ginger and the plain sweetened flavor for now.)

What I can tell you now that I have been using this for a couple of months, this stuff did increase my energy. I was having one of the roughest weeks of my life and was just ragged out with fatigue. Coffee only works until you get all jittery and sick of it. The nectar was something that I could eat right off a spoon or add to some tart juice (think Cranberry) and it gave me energy that felt more like a second wind than a caffeine hurricane. It didn't give me the shakes, irrita-bitchies or make my heart raise. I just felt like I could get through the next few hours. Of course, I had to crash at some point, but I really appreciated the little boost when I needed it.

NOTE: I first started this post way back in, I think, October. I had to update some of it so forgive me if the post is disjointed. Also, I have since gotten some of the tea in a concentrated form. I add a couple teaspoons of it to my green teas, coffee, or I just make a hot Chaga tea and add some of the nectar to sweeten it. Right after Mike's passing, I wasn't eating for several days at a time and I think drinking the green tea and Chaga kept me from just dropping on my face.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

**REVIEW** MeasuPro Blood Pressure Monitor

Couldn't wait to do the review for this, but I have to tell you up front: This post is just for people who have to be serious about monitoring their blood pressure. 

Unfortunately, I am one of those people. Due to my genetic history, my illness and, partly, my previous lifestyle habits, I have crazy blood pressure. At one point I had readings with numbers that looked like they were indicating the amount of people who are irritated by Kanye West. (Just kidding, K.W. Don't sue me.) Thanks to good docs and some lifestyle changes, I am more often running numbers in the range of almost-usually-normal. Unless I spend too much time around certain people!

All joking aside, I did have systolic readings in the high 200's. Seriously. Almost dead seriously.

The best thing about my getting this nasty sarcoidosis (other than living through it) is that it forced me to get medical care. Part of my care includes being treated for my blood pressure issues. My part of that care is to regularly monitor my BP in between doctor appointments. This is a machine that's going to make that a lot easier:

Official name: BPM-20A Digital Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor and Heart Rate Monitor by MeasuPro.

Big name for a seriously good monitor. Here's some of what it features:
  1. Provides accurate measurements of your blood pressure and pulse rate.
  2. Records for 2 separate users.
  3. Has a bright LCD display with separate touch buttons for each individual user. 
  4. Records up to 120 blood pressure readings (60 readings per user) with date and time memory recall. 
  5. Graphical readings are classified in five different levels.
  6. Displays are color coded to represent the reading's level of hypertension. 
  7. It also calculates and averages your blood pressure based on the last 3 readings and detects irregular heartbeats and any arrhythmias.
  8. Arm cuff fits upper arm circumference of 23-32 cm. 
As soon as I unboxed this, I was impressed by how solid and sturdy it is. It's not uncomfortable heavy, but it doesn't slide all around when you sit it on a surface to use it. Also, the cuff is made so well - good fabric and design. For anyone who uses a digital BP monitor, you know how annoying it can be to have the hose disconnect, right? Well, this one attaches securely in a twist-lock fashion.

Of the 8 features I listed, the ones I like best are -

  • #4 because I'm forever losing those little BP record-keeping cards the doctors have me use
  • #6 because, for some reason, I pay more attention to the colors than I do the numbers, and
  • #8 because, well, that's just freaking awesome and it's not something my math-stupid brain would do on its own.

I've decided that, since no one else in the house monitors their BP, I'll use the 2nd-user function for when my meds change or something. Of course, I'll still also record as User 1 to keep the averaging functions straight.

Like I said, this is a monitor for someone who needs to be serious about tracking their BP. Because of all the actually useful features, it's a much better buy than other monitors I've gone through in the past couple of years. One of those other machines was so annoying that, during a prednisone rage, I threw it against the wall when the air hose kept pulling loose. (I'm not proud of that, but I'm honest!) The dang thing was so lightweight that it didn't even damage the wall... 

I forgot to mention that this came with batteries.

There is a spot on the back to connect a DC plug, though the machine didn't come with one. No problem. One of the old machines I'm discarding has one I can use since the plugs are standard.

Basically, this is the best monitor I've used. A lot of times when I review a product, I'll like it a lot with no plans to purchase in the near future. This is one time that I can say that I'll always want to use this particular product. I notice that the brand also has a wrist monitor BP reader. That might be interesting for people who can't use their arm for a reading. My sister, Mike, has a fistula and that would have been a better choice for her. Bottom line though, this brand has truly impressed me with the quality of the monitor they let me review.

As for the price, I've paid the same (or more) for other monitors and they didn't have all the features and weren't anywhere near the quality of this one. So, it's worth every penny of the non-Prime price, but if you do have Amazon Prime, it's a must-have.

Once again, the link to the product is here and it comes with a 2-year manufacturer's warranty. 


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

**REVIEW** Invivo Fractionated Coconut Oil

This is another fractionated coconut oil (FCO) that I got to try out. I love trying various brands of the same kind of product, just so I can compare them. I've lost count, but I think this is the fourth FCO I've used.

pretty plastic bottle
By now, you all know what I like about FCOs: that there's no fragrance, don't have to worry about staining clothing, and that it makes a great carrier for other essential oils. FCOs are so multi-use in skincare and beauty routines - not to mention that some people love what it does for their hair.

mfg/shelf dates
Basically, when picking an FCO, the only thing to worry about is quality and price. Of course, like with anything, you can expect to "get what you pay for", and there have been some poor quality oils out there. However, FCOs are not generally expensive anyway. This particular brand does have the qualities of a good oil: it's clear and pure of additives. By the way, InvivoEssential website offers a 100% money-back guarantee. (And, of course, via Amazon, customers get a standard warranty with anything unless otherwise noted.)

So then, the last thing I came down to with this one is the price. With my Amazon Prime membership, I would still be paying almost 3 times the price of a comparable oil (also with the Prime price).

Bottom line, this is a good quality oil, but there are other FCOs out there more in my personal price range.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

**REVIEW** Wonderpiel Konjac Sponge

The Konjac sponge is one of the trends in skincare. I've tried more than a couple and, while I like the idea, I was concerned that the quality can vary so greatly. Some of the sponges are great, and some of them are basically garbage. That's what happens with a type of product that gets trendy real fast: too many of that item come out with a lot of speed and a loss of quality.

The WONDERPIEL Konjac sponge is one of the best. The main thing that makes it stand out is that it's so pliable and soft. I tried one other sponge that was much to dry and rough-feeling for my preferences. Another plus to this one is the size, which is perfect for face care and fits well into my hand.  Also nice is the string that's attached so you can hang the sponge closeby in the shower. By the way, this sponge is infused with activated bamboo charcoal.

Dry sponge
 This product description says that the sponge is best for sensitive skin. I think that's true (because this one is so soft), but you still have to be careful not to use it too vigorously. The first time I used this one, I probably didn't realize how deep it cleans (again because of the softness). I kept going over the same spots on my face - especially my chin and nose. It wasn't until I finished and was rinsing my skin that I realized I'd rubbed some spots to the point that they were a little raw and sensitive. I have learned that I only need to rub the sponge over my face a couple of times (and with very little pressure) and still get the smoothing and cleansing benefits.

My elbows love the sponge. I notice that my elbows will get dry and scaly if I don't tend to them. My left elbow is the worst because I tend to rest it on the arms of chairs while I write with my right hand. When I finally thought to use the sponge on my elbows, I realized that it gets rid of the roughness without being really abrasive - if I don't over use the sponge.

Now on to the one thing that bothered me about this particular sponge: because it's softer than other sponges, it does tend to wear around the edges where I grasp it most. I had some little pieces of it start to break off after a while. Still, I'd rather deal with that and get the benefits of something that is gentle and works than to use those other skimpy, rough sponges that I've found.

Wet sponge. Ready to use.
All the pros of that sponge outweigh that one tiny drawback. Plus, the cost really makes it worth replacing (or getting a couple at a time). The price when I received mine was $10. And that's with a 100% money-back guarantee. Win. Win.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, March 27, 2015

**REVIEW** North

This is probably my favorite of all the argan oils I've tried. I mean, it's my top favorite. I can't say much more than I did when I reviewed it on Amazon, so I'll cheat and (mostly) repeat:

Notice the "all-purpose" use

Not all Argan oils are created equal. Most of them do the job of moisturizing and relieving problems with dry skin, hair and nails but, I have tried so many different brands, that I am learning which ones seem to do the job best. This 100% Pure Virgin Argan Oil by NorthCoast Products is one of the best so far.

Like with most oils, this one claims to be free of additives (fragrance, color, chemicals, etc.), but because of how good it treated my skin, I believe the claims for this one.

And not tested on animals

My test is to apply the oil to the driest part of my skin. Usually, this is my hands. When I dabbed this brand on to the back of my hand, I could feel the moisture going to work as soon as I began massaging in the oil.The best thing though is how the oil absorbs completely so that I have the moisture without the greasy residue sitting on top of my skin. It moisturizes like a really good lotion without the mess of an oil.

I also tried this oil on my feet (my real problem area). When I applied it initially, the results were good, but not as much as for my hands. Since I have extremely dry feet (it's actually embarrassing how dry they can get so fast), I decided to do a soak in warm water and exfoliate them with a rough washcloth before I tested the oil again. This time - great results. Just like with my hands, I got a lot of moisture without the stickiness and mess. (And, yes, I have done the same test with the other brands. This one is still my favorite so far.)

A lot of Argan oils (the ones that do an adequate job) are not ones that I would want to use on my face. Maybe the ultimate reason I chose this as my current favorite is that I am able to use it on my face (even around my eyes) and get such good results. Some other oils tended to be too heavy (or, at least, they didn't absorb well enough) for that. I had to let this one "rest" for just a minute or so before I could apply makeup. It's really nice for night time use when I want to use a bit more around my eyes, on my forehead and on my neck.

The biggest factor in how well this particular brand of Argan oil works seems to be how well it absorbs. I'm assuming that it's because of quality. Now, it is on the pricier side - especially for the 4-oz size. I've almost used mine up because I do like it so much and use it more than the other ones that I have. That's probably a Pro and Con, depending on how you look at it.

By the way, they offer a 90-day Money Back Guarantee. Check out the North Coast Products website to look into getting discounts by joining their mailing list.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

**RECIPE** Oven Crispy Pork Chops

This is for Tiana, who I was blessed to meet this morning. She really brightened up my morning. We discussed food and the different ways we are trying to get healthy. I tried to tell her about my recipe for pork chops done in the oven with a corn chip crust (to replace our grease-fried skillet chops), but here is the recipe from memory.

Ingredients, Equipment & Instructions:

  • Pork chops (any kind, but the thinner cuts are best)
  • corn or tortilla chips
  • (opt) seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic, etc)
  • (opt) liquid smoke
  • about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil for each chop
  • Baking sheet, foil (optional), large enough pan to oil-dip the chops, and a plastic bag (or just a large area) for crushing and working with the chips.
  1. Line the baking sheet with foil and a spray of cooking oil (or with a rub of olive oil)
  2. Take your thawed chops and rinse lightly. Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. In your coating pan, pour the olive oil in & set aside.
  4. Crush your chips (in the plastic bag or on on a flat surface). You can use a rolling pin or a canned good.
  5. Lightly dip the chops in the oil on each side. (If you need to, you can rub the chops together to share the oil coating. Just need enough oil to hold the seasoning you are going to add...
  6. Add the seasoning. (If your chips are seasoned or salted, adjust additional seasonings as needed.)
  7. Coat the chops with the chips. 
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes each side, checking every 10 minutes or so.
This comes out with a nice crunch and there's no heavy "bad" fats used. I like to serve mine with a spinach and avocado salad with a vinegar and honey dressing. 

Hope you enjoy it, Tiana!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

**REVIEW** Indian Healing (Bentonite) Clay

This Indian Healing (bentonite) Clay product by Majestic Pure is to detoxify and cleanse the pores. I've heard about clays for this purpose and there are supposed to be many benefits to using bentonite in face and body care. This brand of clay is supposed to be more detoxifying. (NOTE: This clay is not labeled for internal use/ingestion!)

(My jar was damaged in transit. I'm sorry that I didn't get a photo of the clay itself, but I notice that this blogger did in her review of this same product. I hope she doesn't mind my linking to her page. I love her blog's name!)

 I never understood exactly what bentonite clay was so I had to do a little checking. Wikipedia describes it as an "absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite". Of course I didn't look up all those words, but I get the gist of the description. What I didn't realize is that there are different types of bentonite - each type depending on their dominant element.  I think that your chosen clay type would depend on what your skin type is. This particular clay that I reviewed has is a sodium bentonite. From glancing at characteristics of the 3 types of the clay, I gather that sodium bentonite expands when wet; calcium bentonite absorbs fats and oils; and potash (potassium bentonite) is potassium rich.

Like I said, I had heard of clay being used for skin care. I remember that, years ago, my mother mentioned that "bathing" in clay was good for the skin. Of course, my mother also used to eat clay dirt so...

Anyway, getting back to this particular clay, I did use it as both a facial mask and as a body treatment. I mixed water to make a paste for the facial and, for my body, I did more of a scrub. I was too impatient to clean up the mess I'd make by doing a whole-body mask.

As a facial treatment, it worked well. The mask didn't get rock hard and uncomfortable the way most drying/drawing masks tend to do. Rinsing it off wasn't too tedious either and I got the extra benefit of some exfoliation in the process. When I used it in the bathe as a sort of scrub (mostly just using a wet washcloth to run the clay over my torso, elbows and knees), I didn't get as much benefit as from the facial. I probably should have stood in the shower first and done a more thorough scrubbing. Sitting in a bath, the clay just made a muddy mess to sit in.

As you can see from the photo on Dreadfully Divine's page, this clay is super, super fine-grained. One of the things that would have made it easier to use/dispense would have been a handy scoop. I also had a bit of frustration in trying to get the right balance of water and clay to make my mask. So maybe I should say that a measuring scoop would have helped. I eventually stumbled upon a good consistency for a facial mask, but I didn't keep track of the measurements so I'll have to go through the same thing next time.

My preferred way to use this is to make a little paste in the palm of my hand and then use it as an exfoliating cleanser. One reason for this is that it's easier to get a usable consistency with this method. Also, I don't always want to do a mask treatment - waiting for it to set and dry, then rinsing.

The clay did make my face feel good. I plan to do the next body treatment as a oil-and-clay scrub, and this time I'll use the shower method.

Like I mentioned, the drawback is that, with such a fine grained clay, there's potential for a mess. On the upside, the customer service team is responsive. The jar I received arrived with a cracked lid. Some of the clay was silting out into the mailing container. Someone got back to me immediately and offered to replace my jar. I haven't heard back from them yet, but I am waiting.

If you are unhappy with the product for any reason, contact the Seller within 60 days for a 100% guaranteed refund.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

**App REVIEW** Got Questions?

During church the last few Sundays, I noticed how many people use their Bible apps on tablets and phones instead of traditional Bibles. I am one of the app people. I always come home and make notes in my traditional Bible, but my phone is so much easier to use during church services.

This past Sunday, after a really detailed study of the part of the Book of Daniel that relates to the 70 weeks of the end times, I added some topics to my Flipboard app. "Apologetics" is one of my favorite topics and, through an article on Flipboard, I learned about the Got Questions? app.

Got Questions is one of those sites I generally refer to when I, well, have questions. I was surprised that I had never heard of their Android app before now. I was even more surprised to see how good the app is. I never thought that an app could live up to the best of the site, but it does. Because my phone is with me more than my laptop is, I actually prefer the app for regular use.

After downloading, I was given a choice of updating the content (of questions) and this update feature is on the menu for refreshing as needed. The app is in a great format of categorized questions with a Search option. Also, users can "Favorite" questions that then show up on a menu for quick re-reads.

Of several reviews I read before downloading, the only negative ones had nothing to do with the design and function of the app (there were a few users who had problems with content and theology). In my experience, the app runs very, very smoothly on the Samsung Note4 (Android version 4.4.4) and quickly. In my opinion, there are no problems with the theology or content I've seen yet, and I have sense enough to check every and anything to do with that against the Bible.

BEST part? Got Questions is FREE and the app is also available via iTunes and Windows 

My top use for this app - other than my own study purposes and general curiosity - is to find a starting point for discussions among my friends and family when certain topics come up. When I just want to read up on something, I can check the Random Article feature. Even for someone not of faith, this would be a good app to have for getting a general handle on questions about what Christians believe.

Great app, great resource, and just handy, handy, handy.

If you know of similar (and good) apps, feel free to share with me.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Doing Yourself Healthy Natural Hacks, Solutions & Substitutes

It was nice browsing through information I found on other sites when I did the Do Yourself Beautiful post. So nice that I kept browsing through last night's insomnia. I thought I would pass along some things I found to address problems with dry skin and hair, wrinkles, dealing with other common healthy and beauty problems - in the most natural ways possible. (NOTE: when I speak of "natural" hair, I mean the hair african-american, bi-racial or other people who have naturally kinky-curly hair.) Here we go:

Treating your skin

For dry or damaged or "special needs" hair
(I think I'm going to compare all the lists & pick the foods that show up more than twice. Because, apparently, everyone has an opinion!)

Some Random finds
Well, that ought to keep us all busy for a while, right? BTW, I'm not kidding about the Matcha powder. I just applied to try a few different brands, but I will probably start by picking some up locally. When I get a chance to try it out, I will do reviews for you guys. So stay tuned, and do let me know if you try any of the listed hacks and recipes. I want to know what you think.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Do Yourself Beautiful (Naturally)

So many things to do with some of the products I get a chance to review. A friend of mine came to visit today and we were sharing and exchanging beauty products. She fell in love with the organic coconut oil I shared with her. She was telling me about a sugar & coconut oil skin treatment she's been wanting to try. All that talk of beauty products and recipes got me to thinking about putting together this post.

There are a lot of yummy-sounding recipes for and ways to use Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Lemon Oil and some others ingredients. Here are some of the ones I've run across that I really like the sound of:

Coconut Oil

Argan Oil

Lemon Essential Oil & Lemons

Other Essential Oils

Good stuff, right? 

I will do more posts on using some of the other products I have either reviewed or just run across in my daily life. 

By the way, many thanks to all these sources for some good and useful info! If any of you have more DIY stuff that you like or have heard about, please share with the rest of us.


**TrueSol Moroccan Argan Oil

Argan oil is one of the richest and most versatile of all the oils I use. I love it. I really like when one is good quality. This one is of great quality and feels marvelous on my skin:

This is 100% pure Moroccan Argan Oil by True Sol Nutrition.

I have used this on my skin, nails, feet, and hair. I judge the quality of it based on the fact that I can just straight apply it to my face and hands and get instant relief from dryness - without an overly oily residue. (Although, I do lightly blot my face when I'm going to be applying makeup afterwards.) When I use it on my feet and hands, I get almost zero residue. Guess that tells you about the state of my feet and hands...

Paraben free

This is one of the 2 oils I used as a carrier while using the tea tree oil I am also beginning to love. The Argan oil is rich enough to protect my skin from the straight tea tree for spot treatments while the odor-free factor allows me to use it with my fragrant essential oils.

Once again, to go over the general benefits of Argan oil:
  • Moisturizing for dry (and even acne prone skin)
  • As a makeup remover and skin cleanser (rub in and wipe off with a towelette)
  • Improving skin elasticity (which could help with stretch marks)
  • Soothe chapped lips, and
  • mix with tea tree to make a lip treatment, or
  • mix with an exfoliant to make a lip scrub
  • Mix with an exfoliant to make a face/body scrub
  • Help soothe razor burns
  • Treat dry scalp and hairline
  • Use on nails and cuticles
  • A hot-oil treatment for hair (and for the skin - especially good on feet!)
  • Tame your flyaway hair
  • Add shine to hair
  • Use as a leave-in hair conditioner
  • Fade sunspots on the skin (I've heard it can possibly heal sun-damaged skin)
  • For dry facial skin, you can add a bit to your cosmetics
  • The oil is high in anti-oxidants
And the list goes on and on and on.

This brand is really good. The one drawback for some might be that the price is higher than for other brands. I counter that with the fact that this oil is of a really good quality (and that makes a big difference). I used this on my face and was happy that it didn't clog my pores or leave a nasty residue. I wouldn't be as picky for an oil that I was going to slather on my feet or knees, but when it comes to my face, I prefer quality over quantity. The other thing that I noticed was that the website listed on the bottle is no longer working. By ordering through Amazon, customers will be protected with the standard Amazon return policy.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Where Are You? A Child's Book About Loss

**UPDATE** I found out that it was my dearest and best ever friend, Barb, that sent this for DJ. That's the kind of friend she is: the best. Ever.

I owe some sweet person a very sincere Thank You.

Along with all of the adults in our family, we have out little one (DJ) who is also dealing with the loss of his "Auntie Mike".  I just checked our mail and found this beautiful surprise - addressed to DJ in my care:

This book is a sweet and thoughtful creation by the author, Laura Olivieri (illustrated by Kristin Elder) that captures everything that a child must think when someone they love is suddenly no longer there.

Until I find out who sent this for DJ, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to... whoever you are. God bless you.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

**REVIEW** Pure Body Naturals Fractionated Coconut Oil

No, this isn't the first time I have reviewed a fractionated coconut oil, but I like doing reviews of similar products by different brands. Fractionated coconut oil is kind of a big thing right now because, I think, it's a very versatile product and comes in large enough sizes to last a while. This is why it's important to pick a fractionated oil that lives up to a certain standard. I have a few things that I want in this product: that it's fresh, that it's pure, and that the price is good. This one passed the test.

This is a 100% Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil by Pure Body Naturals.

Let's look at the whole 100% and "pure" thing. When I first discovered how much I like fractionated coconut oil, I kept an eye out for some whenever I was shopping around town. I won't mention names of the store, but I found some on the shelf at a local place. I can't remember what the exact price was, but it was about half the cost of this one for an 8-ounce bottle. The product was mostly hidden by the label but, when I got it home and tried it, I could tell that I had an inferior oil. For one thing, the oil was really cloudy - which made me doubt the purity. All the other good oils I've used have been crystal clear. It was the odor that let me know I couldn't trust the product. There was a slight "off" smell to it.

This oil by Pure Body is right up there with some of the best, but it is rather pricey. However, if you catch it when it's (or have Amazon Prime), it's the best in my opinion. There is no second-guessing the purity claim.

Of course, this one can be used as a carrier oil and in all the other ways that fractionated oils are being used for. I did try this one in a couple other ways and one of my favorite uses is as a hot oil wrap for my hands and feet. Just slather on the oil, wrap your hands and feet in some cling film, then wrap them in a warm (or even hot) wet towel and relax. This really works nice when you are a few days past a manicure or are getting ready to step out in some sandals. (And thank goodness it's just about time for sandals!)

I was recently gifted with a manicure and the promise of another one. I'm the kind of person who straightens up the hotel room before the maid comes. Before my next manicure, I'll do a hot oil treatment prior to the appointment. The oil is really good on dry cuticles.

The most popular way to use fractionated oil is as a carrier for other products. I am going to experiment with using this with my tea tree oil and my homemade fragrance mixes with Sweet Orange and Myrrh. I use the Myrrh on my hair and scalp, so I need a good carrier oil that won't interrupt with the scent.

The other important thing when buying any product is, of course, whether the brand stands behind the quality. Pure Body Naturals has a "no quibble" guarantee in place. I also like that they list their contact address on their site. Nice. I have used several Pure Body Natural products and they have always been quick to respond to questions, and they have responsive customer service people.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

**FAMILY** This is (just some of) My Big, Beautiful, Crazy Family

As the song says, "The Storm Is Over Now", as far as the worst part of my grief. A lot of people might not understand what a blow it was for us to lose Mike, but I have such a big and crazy and beautiful family that I decided to steal and share some of our photos. Now you know.

This is just a tiny teeny bit of the photos I am sorting through (ahem, stealing) to put together a family slideshow later. It's going to be a loooong job... You can tell that we are strong on serving our country, loving our kids, and putting up with each other through thick and thin. #Blessed