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Thursday, September 27, 2018

**REVIEW** Curls & Naturals Texturizer Hair Softener (Biocare Labs)

It's been a minute since I've blogged. I've had a rough couple of weeks, healthwise, but I am back with a review of a product I really needed after being sick and run-down. Trust me. My hair was wrecked. Nappy, dry, and just totally neglected. So the first thing I did when I felt halfway human again was to take care of these tresses.

Wearing my hair "natural" really works well in the humid summer weather. Once the weather starts getting cooler and dryer, though, my hair starts acting all kinds of crazy. That's when I cheat and use a little bit of texturizer to add some softness and manageability. In the past, I've mainly used African Pride or Softsheen texturizing products. This time, I used a product I stumbled across online.




That is a product from Biocare Labs but you would have to look hard and for small print to see that on the box. As a matter of fact, over on Amazon, you will see the products just listed as Curls and Naturals - even if you search for Biocare Labs. 

I found the product completely by accident. I needed a "change-up" from my usual hair products and Biocare came up in a search. The products on their site are very affordable. The real test is in the results. This texturizer is the first of 3 full-size products and 3 samples. I will be reviewing them all in separate posts.

Like I said, I had totally let my hair go for over 2 weeks. I decided to do this texturizer and a dye job the minute I could get out of bed. And so I did. I managed to snap a quick photo of what the naps looked like (gray and all) pre-treatments:


Told you it as rough.

The main worry I have about texturizers is that they are close to being relaxers. I do NOT want my hair relaxed. Or, at least, I don't want it over-relaxed. I want it relaxed like I am after 2 drinks and not how I am after 3 drinks.

I love my natural hair but it's got management issues. A good texturizer will soften and tame my curls. This texturizer is perfect. My hair came out much softer and I didn't lose any of my curls. It loosened the curls so that they don't tangle together (which causes breakage when I comb or style it). Unlike most other products, it didn't leave my hair hard or "crunchy".

The only downside to the product would be that the 5oz jar is too small for most people. Not for me. my hair in the longest spots is about 4.5 inches, but a lot of it is at 4 inches or less. I only ever texturize the roots and out to the first inch or so of my hair so I ended up with half a jar leftover.

Because this is a pre-mixed formula, I will be able to seal and save the leftover for later use. And, I do mean I sealed the leftovers using my food sealing machine. (I am telling you now, you need to get a food sealer, for real!)

Right after I finished rinsing all the texturizer out of my hair, I could tell that this particular product wasn't as drying. Usually, I have to immediately do a 5-minute conditioning just so that my hair doesn't have that stiff "processed" feeling. Of course, I still did a deep conditioning anyway. Once my hair dried completely, I could really tell that this was a good product.

Will I buy this again? Definitely. The jar is small, but the 5-dollar price is awesome for 5 ounces. To sum up the Pros:

  • Product is no-mix and not as messy
  • Comes with gloves 
  • Comes with a conditioning neutralizing shampoo
  • 5 ounces is enough for short hair and more than enough for root touch-ups
  • Has mild "processor" smell that fades fast
  • Ships from BioLabs very quickly
  • Samples come with purchase when ordered from BioLabs site
  • You can track your shipment easily
The downsides are just minor:
  • Doesn't come with Prime shipping on Amazon
  • Shipping cost on Amazon is per product, which is expensive
  • Shipping from Biocare Labs is based on weight, shipping & state and can be pricey
  • The model photos in the instruction packet is wearing bone-straight hair. This might be confusing if you only want to texturize. 
Like I said, I have no major complaints and will be using Biocare Labs again. The samples they sent were of a good size and good enough that I'd like to try the full sizes. I will do reviews when I get full-sized products.


By the way, I used Nice and Easy, this time in the shade of Soft Black. I like it.



Peace
--Free

Saturday, September 08, 2018

**REVIEW** French Market & Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee

In the last post, I talked about chicory (and its benefits) and bulletproof coffee. In this post, I want to review 2 brands of chicory coffees.

First up, is this French Market brand from Walmart:


This is a great price($4.98/12oz can) but it's not to be found in all stores (like my local Walmart) so I have to order it from the online site. Amazon has it at a slightly higher price.

The color and smell are wonderful and a little bit of this goes a long way. I had to remember that for a couple of reasons. For one thing, even without adding anything, this chicory coffee does have calories (10 for every 2 tablespoons). That is because of the chicory. Also, the chicory has a laxative effect. The first time I used the coffee, I made it strong thinking it would be like regular coffee It's much richer and just a little bit goes a long, long way. When I brew this coffee now, I use 1 full tablespoon for every 1.5 cups of water and I get a very strong brew.

By the way, when I opened the can and saw the coffee grounds, I was reminded of the roasted chicory root I used to buy in Anchorage.





I was disappointed by the Monterey Bay Spice Company chicory root I recently tried:





To be honest, I have not yet tried this one but when I do, I will do a review.

Let me mention something I found interesting about French Market Coffee. The brand is from Reily Foods Company but the name "French Market" does make one think of Cafe Du Monde - which is the more famous chicory coffee brand. Keep that in mind.

Reily Foods covers several brand products you might recognize. This includes the Luzianne Tea which I see in stores all the time.

As for the Cafe Du Monde:




Notice that, like the French Market brand, Cafe Du Monde also has a non-chicory French roast. The French Roast cans look quite a bit alike - both in purple cans and all. Interesting. Of course, taste is the main thing, so let's talk Cafe Du Monde.

These pics compare the look of the grind from both brands:



When I brewed the Cafe Du Monde, I used the same 1 tablespoon to 1.5 cups of water recipe. The taste?

Both coffees are rich and 'deep' with flavor, but I have to say that the Cafe Du Monde is a bit smoother and richer in taste. I can find the 15oz can for $10.79 on Amazon ($12.99 on Walmart).

While there is a slight difference between the two brands, it's not enough to make me buy one over the other due to a slight price variation. There are some things that make a difference for online purchase:
  •  Walmart.com and Amazon have both brands.
  • On Amazon, I could currently only find French Market as a Prime Pantry purchase. I don't liek Pantry purchases because you have to fill a 'cart' to qualify. The Cafe Du Monde was available with non-Prime but free shipping for 1 can; a 2-can purchase was Prime. Now that I know I like the coffee, I would use that option.
  • On Walmart, the shipping was very unstable this time. In spite of the 2-day shipping on my order, I ended up waiting until Sept 5th (Wed.) for things I ordered on Aug 31st (Fri). Even allowing for the weekend, that was 3 additional days. I found out that they hadn't even shipped my order right away. Also, Walmart's online system of tracking orders does not always reflect the correct information. My Aug 31st order was shown on their page as "expected to arrive" Sept 1st. Unless they are using drones, no one is that fast yet.
  • My local Hy-Vee has the French Market chicory coffee and they deliver. That means I can add that brand to my usual monthly grocery order since Hy-Vee is where I get my perishable items.
So, yeah, you have to kind of shop around to find a good chicory coffee. If you are lucky enough to have a local health food store (I have to check mine), you might be able to just get some decent chicory root.


Peace
--Free







Thursday, September 06, 2018

Coffee, Chicory, and Bulletproof Recipe

Unless you are into Intermittent Fasting, Keto, Paleo, or any eating regimen included Bulletproof Coffee, you might want to skip this post. But if you are curious about chicory, you might want to hang around.

First, let talk Bullet Proof Coffee:

I am curious what any of the rest of you think of using MCT oil in your coffee? I've posted about my experience with it, but I don't know if everyone feels it makes a difference in their diet.  The kind I am using is great but... that price tag is a little scary.

For now, I am still using the MCT (because I have some left) in my BPC and I have gotten back into using chicory also. I don't know that I will be re-purchasing the oil again anytime soon.

This is my recipe for Morning B.P. Coffee:
  • 3 tablespoons dark roast coffee (had to order Yuban it online, but it's worth it) brewed with 2.5 cups of water (because I like my coffee strong). Recently, I'm adding chicory but I'll get to that later.
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. I keep a small amount in a sealed container on the counter so that it's softened for use.
  • 1 Tablespoon of MCT oil
  • About 2.5 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
  • Either 2 packets of Monkfruit Golden or 1.5 tablespoons of Monkfruit Classic White
  • Sometimes, I use a couple tablespoons of coconut milk or coconut cream.
After I add everything to the coffee, I hit it with the stick blender until it's a little frothy. I happen to have an excellent thermos-type mug that keeps my coffee hot for hours. Thanks to my niece for sending such a useful Mother's Day gift.
It's a "Kanteen" and
you can get one with other wraps

I usually go through 2 mugs of my coffee in a  day. If I'm sick from my meds, I will even do 3 because the ingredients make up for the food I don't eat those couple of days. It's a really filling, satisfying drink. Adding the coconut milk or cream is perfect when I need something extra in my stomach.

Now, this is the golden variety of the monk fruit sweetener that I have fallen in love with:




I guess it's supposed to mimic brown sugar the way the white variety mimics table sugar. It does have a somewhat richer flavor but it's not anything like actual brown sugar. I love me some brown sugar in my coffee, but this will have to do for now.

There are benefits to black coffee that you can look up online. Chicory root also has benefits you might not have heard of - and I am not saying that these are proven benefits, but just things I have heard of from others including my family that chicory might have an effect on:
  • Lowering blood sugar
  • As a laxative (my mother told me about this years ago)
  • To help increase or decrease appetite.
  • To help lower blood pressure
  • As a caffeine-free substitute for coffee
When I was young, my mother made chicory root tea to help ease my constipation but I didn't like the taste to drink enough of the tea. As an adult, I can say that, if I ingest enough chicory, I get mild laxative benefits. (By the way, I have heard of chicory root being used as a sweetener.)

I used to get chicory from the health food bulk bins at Carrs Safeway in Anchorage and loved the smell and taste when added to coffee. I ran out of the last of my very old supply and ordered this from Amazon. I was not pleased. The product smelled and tasted rank and stale.

There are quite a few coffees that have chicory added- or even java substitutes that made solely of chicory. I prefer just adding chicory to my own choice of coffees. Thanks to social media photos I have taken and captioned with a mention of chicory, I have been offered a couple of chicory coffees to try.

This is French Market Chicory Coffee. It is very reasonably priced. This one is about $5 for a 12-ounce can at Walmart (but is not available at my local Walmart so it has to be ordered from their online store). I will be doing a full review later, but this is what the coffee looks like:


 I expected the chicory to have that nice, dark color (along with the scent of coffee, but this is what I got:



As you can see, the color is not very deep. The smell is very stale and unpleasant. There was zero coffee-scent to it. I will not be using the brand again. The brand I used in Anchorage was as dark as the French Market coffee.





So, obviously, there are some things to consider when choosing a chicory:
  • It should be organic and fresh (read lots of reviews)
  • Origin should be USA (because I think there are flavor variations by country of origin)
  • Use a seller who offers a freshness or other satisfaction guarantee

Anyway, I would love to hear about anyone else using BPC and/or chicory. Do you have a special recipe and do you feel that it helps you in any way? Also, if you know of a good brand of chicory root (fresh and affordable), do let me know.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, September 01, 2018

**REVIEW** SMOK Veneno 225W TC Starter Kit (& Breazy.com)

WARNING: This post has to do with vaping. If you are under age, please know that I do NOT encourage smoking or vaping for minors and this post is not intended for you.  I don't encourage nicotine use of any kind for anyone. This post has to do with my personal experience as I attempt to stop using nicotine.


This is going to be a sort of double review. First, I will talk about the SMOK Veneno vape device I got (and why) from Breazy. After that, I will discuss Breazy. Let's go.

I chose a SMOK Veneno Starter Kit.


$39.99 for the Starter Kit

One thing I can say is that the device is boxed nicely and the presentation is impressive for $40. My nephew was surprised at the cost because he has seen the same kinds of set ups for as much as $70.


The kit came with everything except batteries and juice:




This is the actual device.






The display is awesome,
shows puffs, power, and voltage setting

I wanted a more muted color but everything was sold out but this Purple/Red combo and it's now sold out. The other colors that are shown and might be available at some time are Red/Gold, Black/Red, Silver/Black, Black/Yellow, Blue/Red, and Rainbow.  My choice would have been the Silver/Black, but I wish there were solid colors available. The one I got isn't horrendous, but it seems a little juvenile in my opinion. It's not really a big deal because I onlyh use this at home. I use the JUUL when I'm out and about.

I like the display on this one for several reasons.





What I like most about the display is that it allows me to set a limit on my use.




I am, after all, using this device to cut down on and quit nicotine.

The device itself fits in my small-ish hands.






Juice goes in that little side slit

The reason I wanted this is that I am doing so well with the JUUL device that I haven't smoked a traditional cigarette in over two and a half weeks and I have not missed traditional tobacco at all. Not one little bit. As a matter of fact, I wish I had started vaping sooner. I am feeling better and I noticed how much easier I am breathing.

Since I have the JUUL, you might wonder why I bothered getting another vape device. The main reason is that with the JUUL, there are no zero-nicotine pods and my goal was always to become free of tobacco and nicotine. The tobacco is gone and that wasn't hard at all, but I want to wean myself off the nicotine. Also, I like the idea of more vapor. Not only does the JUUL not come with nic-free pods, but it also doesn't put out a lot of vapor. The Veneno does. Oddly, the vapor is more satisfying to me than the nicotine.

Anyway, I got some nic-free "juice" to go with the vaping device.


                          


I got the "Mad Peach" and it's nice but a little too flavorful for me. I should have gotten something a little plainer.  This is a 100ml bottle for $15 and I've been using it every day for about 10 days and there is barely any gone from the bottle. I can see having this bottle for months at this rate. That right there is definitely cheaper than traditional cigarettes. At about 5 dollars a pack, three packs of smokes would not last long, especially when I share them. I've shared the vape with my SIL. By the way, this juice is very smooth and there is no throat burn at all like with regular cigarettes.

Once I get finished with the JUUL pods, the nic-free juice is going to be my main game.  I'm kind of looking forward to it. By the way, I am still getting used to the language of vaping. There needs to be some kind of dictionary. The first new terms I learned had to do with the liquid (or "juice") and the different methods of vaping (mouth to lung vs mouth to throat). There's even a term for how different levels of nicotine feel ("throat hit" sounds vaguely sexual) and I'm glad I going to be weaning.

Now that I have used a different juice and a different device, I can tell that this one is much smoother than the JUUL. I still love the JUUL, but this one is so dang smooth and I love that it produces so much vapor. Maybe that is silly, but the vapor is my fave part.

Now, this is the part of the review where I will talk about Breazy.com...

I didn't exactly know where to go to get a vaping device so I scoured some YouTube videos and vaping forums before I chose Breazy. I can't say it's been the best experience.

The prices at the site are some of the best I saw. The problem I had was with order fulfillment and slow delivery. For 4 days after ordering, my items didn't make a move to shipping. Not only that but when I was placing my order, I used the chat option to ask a rep if by ordering a starter kit I was getting everything I needed to start vaping. They said that the only other thing I needed was some juice. So I got some juice and thought all was well. Then, when watching a video about the particular device I'd chosen, I heard mention of something about batteries. I went back to Breazy and asked about this and was told that I would need to order batteries separately. I should have realized this because there was mention of this somewhere on the product page. Still, I had mentioned to the previous rep that I was new to vaping when I asked about having everything I needed. I was a little peeved so I ordered the required batteries from Amazon. They came in 2 days as my Breazy order was still sitting unfulfilled. Grrr....

Now, understand that I am all motivated to stop cigarettes completely and get started vaping only. My JUUL is running on nicotine with no non-nic options. And I was possibly going to be going out of town soon and had no idea if the vape device would be delivered beforehand.

Finally, I mentioned this on a forum where I asked about potential other sites that were faster. Luckily a Breazy rep is on that forum and jumped in to see what he/she could do to expedite things. As soon as they got involved, my order shipped. That's great but what if I hadn't come across them on the forum?

Maybe my problems with order fulfillment was a glitch because so many other people claim to be very happy with the speed of receiving their orders. Thankfully, now that I have a device, I don't plan on shopping as much for juice online but if I do, I will give Breazy another try.

Finally, let me say that spending a one-time total of about $60 for a device, batteries, and juice is not far off what I would pay in Alaska for a carton of cigarettes. As for juice, I plan to buy cheap and local when I can and I've been told that I won't have to spend over $10 every few weeks at the rate that I vape. For now, I don't have to spend any more money because I have everything I need for at least the next couple of months. I'm off traditional cigarettes and I'm not going to have to worry about braving the extreme heat or cold of outdoors smoking. I count all this as one big "win".


Once again, I do NOT recommend vaping any more than I would recommend smoking. I do think this is a great way for smokers to wean off of nicotine.


Peace
--Free