Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Flavors Featuring Almond Breeze Vanilla Coconut Almondmilk

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk

While Summer is rapidly coming to an end (my children start school this week!!!!!!), I'm not quite ready to let go. See, here in New York our Winters can be really brutal. Lo and behold, the Farmer's Almanac has called for a really harsh Winter this year, so my death grip on Summer has gotten a bit tighter. Fall is definitely my favorite season, but I know what comes shortly thereafter so.... In my life, I have been trying to extend some Summer flavors into the rapidly approaching Fall so that I can hold as much of Summer with me as possible. One of my favorite ways to do this is with Almond Breeze Vanilla Almond Coconut Milk Unsweetened.

I really love how much variety I can find with the Almond Breeze Almondmilks. From hint of honey, to the original, and now vanilla and coconut! What's great about Almond Breeze Almondmilk is that it really caters to individuals who have certain sensitivities. It is dairy-free, soy-free, lactose-free, cholesterol-free and gluten-free. Even for those without dietary restrictions, the Almond Breeze Vanilla Almond Coconut Milk Unsweetened is all-natural, contains 50% more calcium than milk, and is only 45 calories per serving. It makes it such a healthy alternative. It's also a wonderful option for those who follow a vegan diet.

.I grew up drinking cows milk so sometimes the unsweetened varieties of Almondmilk take a little getting used to for me. I tend to use them in my smoothies which are naturally sweet from the fruit, or in my cereal, although, on a particularly hot day, I did enjoy a glass of the Almond Breeze Vanilla Almond Coconut Milk Unsweetened with a slice of apple pie. I really love the subtle hint of coconut that it brings to the drink. It's perfect for Summertime, and I found out one morning when I ran out of my traditional coffee creamer, that this too makes a fine and tasty replacement. I admire all of the benefits that it brings to the table, and even though I (or my family) do not have to follow any particular dietary restrictions, I am glad that I introduced this variety of milk to my children while they were still young. They especially love the Vanilla and Chocolate Almondmilks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ending Summer on a High Note With Blue Diamond Almonds

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

Since becoming a Blue Diamond Tastemaker, I have come to the realization that Blue Diamond has truly outdone themselves with the fun and innovative ways they have changed the face of almonds. Don't get me wrong, I will eat plain almonds all day long. I just like the way they taste naturally, but the different flavor varieties that they offer are simply irresistible! I'll take my almonds any way.... sweet, savory, plain, flavorful. I recently had the opportunity to try 2 varieties of Blue Diamond Almonds: Oven Roasted Blueberry Almonds and Salted Caramel Almonds.

As you can see, my family could not contain themselves and busted into the Blueberry ones before I even had a chance to snag a picture of them perfectly sealed. Oh well, life happens. Needless to say, the kids like them, and I'm super OK with that because not only do they have 5 grams of protein per serving and taste delicious, but it also provides a healthy dose of some very important vitamins and minerals. For example, they provide 30% daily value of vitamin E, 3 grams of Fiber, and a measly 25 milligrams of sodium. I'm happy when the kids choose these over sugar filled, unhealthy alternatives. I find the blueberry taste to be sweet and refreshing, and the perfect pair for a Summer day. Plus, they're PURPLE! 

The Salted Caramel Almonds are absolutely a sweet treat. When I first tasted them, I knew they would be the perfect pair with ice cream. They are perfectly crunchy, yet sweet like caramel with a touch of salt. It really feels like you are indulging in something fattening/unhealthy, so you feel guilty until you read the label. There are only 3 grams of sugar per serving! AND... they provide 20% of your daily value of Magnesium. I have no idea how true this is, and I am not a medical professional, but I have read a lot lately about the importance of Magnesium, and how almost everyone is very low in it. What a great and tasty way to boost those levels! Plus, as I mentioned before, it goes undeniably perfect with vanilla ice cream, if you have a sweet tooth like me. I suppose you could put it in yogurt if you are feeling a little healthier than myself, and Greek yogurt if you are feeling uber-healthy.

My goal is to eventually try every almond variety that Blue Diamond has to offer. Next up on my list is the Wasabi and Soy Almonds. I have heard all good things, so I need to try them for myself. My favorite to date are the Sriracha Almonds. Do you have a favorite Blue Diamond Almond flavor? If so, let me know in the comments!

These Oven Roasted Blueberry and Salted Caramel Blue Diamonds Almonds wrapped up our Summer deliciously, therefore, I give them 10 stars:

If you want to explore all of the flavor options, you can do so right on their website, and then even find where you can buy them at your nearest retail location! Check it out HERE.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tubby Time For the Littles!

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

I tend to be a pretty laid back, non-picky person about most things in my life. That being said, I am very particular about what products I will use on my children. My daughter has battled with eczema since she was an infant, so using gentle yet effective products are absolutely essential. Its my personal preference, but I really like to use organic body washes, shampoos and conditioners on my kids because I feel they are safer. I don't judge anyone for using conventional brands because I've done that in the past, and also because it's much more cost effective. I love that there are some new brands that are creating more affordable products for our families that use safer ingredients. One such brand is Gaia Organics, and I'm excited to say that we are currently using their All Natural Baby Shampoo and Body Wash.

The Gaia Organics Baby Shampoo and Body Wash comes in a relaxing Lavender scent which is perfect for your little ones nighttime routine. I think I saw it in a commercial, which stated that babies who have bedtime routines that include lavender scented products are more likely to experience a better nights sleep. Both of my kids are good sleepers at the ripe ages of 3 and 10, but I don't think a mother ever forgets what sleep deprivation feels like. Lavender is known for it's calming properties, so it certainly can't hurt! What is impressive is the short list of ingredients on the back of the bottle. What you WON'T find in the bottle are all of the nasty ingredients that you don't want touching your children's sensitive, new skin, including: sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, preservaties or additives.

We've had a great experience using Gaia Organics Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. First of all, the scent is very faint and of natural lavender, so even if you or your child are bothered by scent, I really don't think this would be an issue. I love that the product uses natural and organic ingredients, and is made right here in the good old U.S. of A. The bottle could use a little change, and mainly because the formula is very watery. I wish this has a pump top versus a pop open and pour top because it can become difficult to dispense the product, or dispense the right amount of the product. Speaking of which, figuring out how much you need to use can have a bit of a learning curve. I cannot complain that the product itself is watery because many natural products are, and many do not lather either. I found that this did lather, but I needed to use more product than I would have lie to get that result. I really wish this came in a larger size because I feel that we will run through this quickly. Nonetheless, the product does clean my littlest lady, while leaving her skin soft and supple. I still have to use conditioner in her hair because it is super long, but this works well to clean her hair too. I'm definitely most drawn to the ingredients used in this product above all else though.

I recommend the Gaia Organics Bay Shampoo and Body Wash with 8 stars:

If you are interested in this shampoo and body wash, or know someone who may be, you can purchase it from Amazon for $10.49.

Lotion that Heals

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

I know we still have some Summer left, and I am far from wishing it away, but I also know that the cooler weather is right around the corner, and I need to prep my skin for it. I despise dry skin. I especially hate when my hands are dry. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. I like to keep lotion out around the house to ensure myself, and any guests, don't ever have to deal with the nuisance of dry skin. I recently tried out a very innovative lotion that has quickly made it the answer to my dry skin needs. It is called Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion.

Adamia was born out of the desire to heal hurting skin, and a tree. The Macadamia tree holds the macadamia nut, which holds one heck of an oil: Macadamia oil. What's so unique about Macadamia oil? The fact that it's oil is very similar to the oil our own skin produces, makes it incredibly easy to penetrate our skin and get to work. Adamia has created their own exclusive blend of Macadamia oil that is rich in Omega-7 (called Promega-7) which boosts moisturization while also healing irritated, broken skin. Their formula promises to deliver exceptional absorption, while being fragrance-free, paraben-free, gluten free, cruelty free, petroleum free, soy free, non-greasy, non-allergenic, non GMO, vegan and clinically proven to improve distressed skin. This works really well with older individuals as their skin becomes thin and easy to tear. It comes in a generously sized 16.9 fl. oz. bottle with an easy to use pump top dispenser.

I really love this Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion. It leaves my skin feeling like silk. There is no exaggeration that this is very quick to absorb, which I love because there is nothing like a lotion that you have to rub and rub and rub and rub and rub and rub in. Many natural lotions use coconut oil and shea butter in their ingredients which can leave your skin feeling a little greasy until it completely absorbs, but this does not. While I normally love lotions that are scented, I am so obsessed with this formula that it doesn't bother me one bit that it has no fragrance. I use this so much that I keep it out on my front table so everyone has access to it. I know this will come in handy during the Winter months when I wash my hands every 5 seconds and the skin around my knuckles gets so dry it cracks and peels. While I mainly use this on my hands, it is intended for full body use, although they caution not to get it in your eye area. I mean, our eyes don't need lotion anyway, so I'm good with that.

Overall, I give the Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion 10 stars:

If you're interested in such a soothing, healing, fast-acting lotion, I would definitely recommend the Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion which can be purchased on Amazon for $18 - a totally reasonable price for the size of the bottle! You can follow the brand on Facebook, or check out their website to keep up with them too!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Acne Fighting on Cloud 9

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

I have a skincare regimen that fluctuates often because I always have so much stuff I need to try out for review purposes. I'm not complaining either! I have found some of my absolute favorite products throughout my experimentation. Nonetheless, I always try to review products that are relevant to my skin type and my skin concerns. This also tends to change with season. During the cooler months I load up on hyaluronic serums and moisturizing creams, and during the warmer months I use lightweight moisture, vitamin c serums and lots and lots of SPF. One thing I am always combating is acne. No matter the season it is there, and I am fighting the never ending battle of getting it to go away for good. I recently tried Cloud 9 Blemish Control Moisturizer, and it's really helped me with my persistent cystic acne flare ups.

Cloud 9 Blemish Control Moisturizer was created to provide a natural alternative to harsher chemical treatments for acne. They claim that their product can help to clear breakouts, balance oily skin, moisturize, soothe irritated skin and dissolve hard sebum bumps. They use 2 natural ingredients that help to achieve these results through inhibiting hormonal triggers, destroying acne-causing bacteria, halting excess oil and sebum and refueling Vitamin F deficiency. The Cloud 9 Blemish Control Moisturizer comes in a convenient pump-top bottle, and in two sizes: 1 fl. oz or 1.6 fl. oz. Their patent pending ingredients read as follows: purified water, passiflora incanata, carthamus tinctorius, camelina sativa, butyrospermum parkii, citrullus vulgaris oils, sucrose stearate (from sugar), epilobium angustifolium extract, elaeis guineensis mesocarp oil, glycerin, essential oil blend, copaifera officinalis resin, carapa guaianensis seed oil, euterpe oleracea pulp. lonicera japonica, lonicera caprifolium extracts, phyllanthus emblica fruit extract, hyaluronic acid, tetrahydro curcuminoids, ferulic acid, dipotassium glycyrrhizinate (from licorice root), camellia sinensis (green tea)extract, xanthan gum, guar gum, maltodexrin. 

I've tried it all, so I can attest to how harsh some treatments are. Using other treatments would cause my skin to become very dry and peel or flake. Because this is not a "system" like some other acne products, I did not expect it to irritate my skin, and it didn't! I use this twice per day after washing up and applying toner and serum. What's convenient is that this works as a 3-in-1: cream, spot treatment and moisturizer. I use one pump (about the amount pictured above), and that is enough to cover my face. The Cloud 9 Blemish Control Moisturizer is quick to absorb, non-greasy and non-comedogenic. The scent is a bit strange, and I can't quite put my finger (or my nose) on what it smells like - It's like fresh cut grass and something else. It doesn't linger though so it is entirely tolerable. I will say that my cystic acne has been less severe since starting this, and I'm so thankful for that because it is very, very painful. My only other complaint is the high price tag for the amount of product. Luckily, a little really does go a long way.

Overall, I give Cloud 9 Blemish Control Moisturizer 8 stars:

If you are interested in a light-weight moisturizer that works hard to combat your acne naturally, you can purchase this on Amazon for $20.99.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Minty Showers with Oleavine

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

What do you look for in a body wash? A few years ago, I would have been happy with anything that lathered up nicely and smelled good. Nowadays, you'll be most likely to find me reading labels and researching what I am willing to spend my money on before I buy it. The ingredients in our everyday products are pretty despicable, and I am sick of supporting companies that choose to use them in their products. The bottom line is, it isn't safe, and if I can avoid it, I will. Luckily, there are several long-sanding businesses and new businesses rising who have come to this same conclusion, and they make products intended to help and heal instead of harm. One such company and product is Oleavine All Natural Therapeutic Soap.

Oleavine is a company that was developed with a mission to provide effective products created with natural ingredients. The All Natural Therapeutic Soap is a foot and body wash meant to revitalize your senses while having the natural strength of tea tree oil to wash away any trace of fungus, bacteria, body odor and dry, itchy skin. This wash claims to combat even some more serious skin conditions includng: athlete's foot, ring worm, jock itch, acne, nail fungus and yeast. The ingredient list on this baby is super duper long, but not because it contains ingredients that are man-made in a lab. Instead, it is chock full of essential oils that are useful in cleaning, deodorizing and treating common skin concerns. On top of that, this product uses only natural and organic ingredients, has zero synthetic fragrance, is free of preservatives, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, sulfates, chemical detergents, gluten, and is cruelty-free too! The Oleavine All Natural Therapeutic Soap comes in a 12 fluid ounce sized bottle, is a thin yellowish liquid cleanser and comes in 3 scents (Mint, Lavender and Soothng Menthol Mint).

I am used to the smell of tea tree oil, so the scent of this wash was not off-putting to me. People who are not used to using natural products are going to initially think this smells too strong, and disgusting. It actually smells more like mint than anything else (mostly because I have the mint scented one), but when you are used to toxin-laden artificial fragrances, you need to get used to natural scents. For example, I originally found things like witch hazel and tea tree oil to smell awful, but after using them for long enough, I actually think they smell good. What's nice about the intense mint scent is how it makes the bathroom smell so clean and fresh after using it. Plus, it literally makes your skin tingle, so it's a quick pick-me-up, or wake-up call in the morning - it definitely gets your senses working! The wash itself is a thinner liquid, but it does lather up. I would caution that less is more here. This is another mistake you make when going from conventional body washes to natural and organic body washes. Natural products tend to be more concentrated, so using your usual amount is unnecessary. When I use this body wash, I find that my skin is left feeling invigorated, clean and soothed. I get no tight, dry feeling afterward, but I must say that avoiding sensitive areas while using this may be a good idea. I will spare you the details, but I know from personal experience. My only issue with this wash is that it is a tad pricey for the cost.

Overall, I give Oleavine All Natural Therapeutic Soap 8 stars:

If you are looking for a multi-purpose body wash, you can buy this one on Amazon where it is currently $16.75. You can find out more about their products on their website and Facebook.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What Do Showers and Blueberries Have in Common?

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

One of the most important step of skin care is exfoliation. Disgustingly enough, our skin cells die quite often, and exfoliating is what keeps your skin looking gorgeous despite that. In order to keep your skin looking bright, fresh and youthful, you ave to slough away the gunky build-up that makes it entirely dull and boring. So what makes a good body exfoliant? It truly depends on your skin type and the results you are looking for, but for the most part, an exfoliant should contain some kind of abrasive ingredient to do the exfoliating, and then other ingredients that collaborate to deliver your desired results. I recently tried Jaowying Blueberry Body Scrub, and it's really a great gentle Summertime body scrub.

Jaowying uses a unique blend of ingredients to make their blueberry scrub high in anti-aging and nourishing properties. First up is Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3. Niacinamide is known for its ability to improve the elasticity of the skin while also toning and reversing discoloration. Next is Vaccinium Corymbosum Fruit Extract which comes from blueberries! This is very high in antioxidants and has been proven to boost anti-aging capabilities. Hence the reason it's good to eat our blueberries, and scrub with them too! This scrub also contains Vitamin E which has been celebrated for its ability to heal, but when applied topically (versus taken orally), it also has the ability to combat fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. And lastly, Juglans Regia Shell Powder, or in simpler terms, walnut shell powder. Aside from assisting skin's elasticity, it also increases circulation, which means all of the oxygen in your blood gets brought to the skin, giving it a natural appearance and glow. Their formula is a creamy texture with tiny scrubbies throughout.

When it comes to exfoliation, for my skin, the more abrasive, the better. I mean, I don't want to wash up with shards of glass, but I need it to plow through the dead skin cells to reveal what's hiding underneath. I feel like I have really fast cell turnover or something. Like, I could totally exfoliate every single day and it would not irritate my skin whatsoever. That being said, it's typically recommended to do it twice a week. I have been using this a couple of times per week to keep my skin looking Summer fresh and it seriously does make a difference in the texture of my skin immediately after using it. It reminds me a bit of an in-shower lotion almost, because it leaves this silky layer of smooth behind. It smells really good too! As far as being a scrub, this is a gentle scrub for sure. It won't leave your skin irritated or sensitive, but will leave your skin feeling softer than before. The jar of Blueberry Body Scrub is 5 fl oz so it will not last forever. I found that I had to use quite a bit per use, and I even kept it to just my legs. I could foresee this lasting about a month or a month and a half depending on how sparingly you use it. I also think it would be convenient in a squeeze bottle. Normally I don't think of a scrub that way, but as I said, this one is very much like an in-shower body lotion, and I feel it would serve well in a tube versus a jar.

Overall, I really like the Jaowying Blueberry Body Scrub and I recommend it with 8 stars:

If you are in the market for a luxuriously gentle body scrub, you can purchase this on Amazon for $15.