Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Clean and Green

Brad and I have slowly transferred over to natural shampoo, conditioner, and body wash as we have run out of our old brands.  The brand that we switched to in all three is Nature's Gate.  I had heard good things about this brand from a coworker, so I already had it in mind.  When we went to the store, we found that it was also the most reasonably priced (out of natural products).  The Nature's Gate company's mission is "to combine the power of natural ingredients with innovation and science to create affordable, safe, sustainable, performance and value driven products. [They] are committed to using pure, sustainably harvested herbs, fruits and essential oils, without animal-derived ingredients, to enhance the overall health and wellbeing of our customers and our planet."  I was also happy to find out that they have partnered with WaterAid to support families in Asia and Africa to get long-term access to safe, clean water.

We purchased them at Superstore and have been using Nature's Gate Biotin Shampoo, Herbal Daily Conditioning, and Aloe Vera Body Wash everyday since.  I love all of it.  They are easily better than any typical drugstore brand's products.  The shampoo is designed specifically for weak, fragile hair, which I have, and it seems to have helped.  I was very nervous to try a new conditioner because I find that most really weigh down my hair.  This stuff is amazing.  I have never had softer hair in my life than I do now, and I use it everyday without any build up or weight.  The body wash is incredibly moisturizing and smells marvelous.  Aside from the exceptional performance of these products, I also feel great about putting them on my body and having it wash down the drain instead of worried or guilty as I do with generic products.

Once again, this is a company with great products and great people.  I am happy to be supporting them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day, oh and Easter too!

Since it is Easter weekend and today is Earth Day, I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about consumerism and consumption.  Dun dun dunnnn.

A big part of "going green" is paying attention to how much I consume and reducing it.  This includes power, fuel, waste, and "things" too.  In 2006 it was reported that Americans spend an average $1.9 billion on Easter candy every year (and I am sure we are comparable to that in Canada too).  I can only imagine that it has gone up since then.  In the long run, I really don't think that all that candy is what is going to make children and other loved ones happy.  Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, has discovered that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationship.  I interpret this to mean that the better relationship we have and the more time we spend with friends and family, the happier we are.  His research has also shown that experiences make us happier than stuff.  Probably because experiences are often shared with others, while things usually aren't.  I 'm not saying that there is anything wrong with buying presents or candy in particular at Easter time.  I just think it's a good idea to pay more attention to how much is reasonable and necessary.

Fun Fact:

"According to a global survey, three out of four of the happiest people groups in the world are not rich consumers.  Using a scale where 7 marks the maximum of happiness, Forbes magazine's richest Americans came in second (5.8), tied with the Pennsylvania Amish.  Close behind them (5.7) were the Masai of East Africa, a tribe without electricity or running water who live in huts made of dung.  Happiest of all - ahead of America's richest - were the Inuits of Greenland (5.9).  All this research suggests that a climate of warm, cohesive community and its attendant values are more important than material comfort or other external factors in producing happiness."
Everything Must Change by Brian D McLaren

This year Brad and I plan to focus on experiences and relationships with the people around us, spending Easter with people at church and family gatherings with both sides of our family.  (Of course this is a little easier for us since we have no children, but we hope to carry these values along when we do as well.)  This will both help the planet by reducing unnecessary consumption and ensuing waste and, according to Dr Gilbert, also increase our own happiness.  Oh, and in celebration of Earth Day we hope to see Disney Nature's African Cats (check out the trailer here).  If you see it during opening week (April 22-28), Disney will make a donation in your honour to help Save the Savannah.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Brad and I want to expand our food horizons, and we thought one fun way would be to try some of the unusual fruits you see in the grocery store.  Our first experimental fruit is a star fruit.  Star fruits are a good source of vitamin C and fibre, low fat and only 30 calories per fruit, naturally sodium and cholesterol free, and full of antioxidants.

The star fruit. We found out after that this is a little over ripe.  You don't want yours to be at all brown.

You have to cut the corners off first because they are very tough.  The rest of the skin stays.

Sliced and ready to eat.

They were pretty good.  Brad and I split the whole fruit half and half, and we both found that to be too much.  The flavour is not something we were used to, and I think it takes some getting accustomed to.  I think it would be great with a fruit dip or in a fruit salad.  It was definitely something interesting to spice up the usual apples and bananas.


I found this website today, Simple Steps, thought it was cool, and thus I wanted to share it will all of you.  There is an interactive household savings calculator that shows you mostly simple changes you can make in your house and calculates how much money you will save based on your information.  Check it out!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hit Pain Where It Hurts

It has been on my mind many times to write about this fantastic product I bought at Saje.  I have a had it for months now, but I think it's just more proof that it really works since I'm still raving about it.  It's called Pain Release.  There are a few different forms it comes in (mist, roll on, etc), but the bath, body, and massage oil was the most economical.  It is an all natural, powerfully effective pain reliever for muscles and joints.  Combined with essential oils and other natural elements, the key ingredient is camphor which is absorbed through the skin and acts as an anesthetic.

I have used this product mostly as a topical treatment, and it absorbs in nicely without feeling oily or sticky afterwards.  I rub it on sore muscles after a work out, on my neck when it aches from tension, on my joints when I get flare ups of tendonitis, and most recently on knee pain that I don't even know the cause of.  Another use that I found was to put a couple tablespoons in the bath.  Those awful aches and pains from fevers and the flu are relieved after soaking in a hot tub with this oil.

Saje's Pain Release is what I grab first when I am in pain, and I find it relieves my discomfort quickly and effectively.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When You Want to Go Au Naturale

Whew, it's been a while.  Good to be back though!  Today I'm going to tell a little story about a recent natural breakthrough I experienced.

Throughout my adolescent years, I suffered from moderately severe acne and rosacea.  I tried everything out there from the cheaper drugstore cleansers to the expensive ProActiv regimen to prescription pills with no success.  When it continued into adulthood, the problem became even more embarassing.

Eventually I settled with the slight improvement I could get using a natural bar soap someone had given me along with OXY's Acne Vanishing Treatment lotion.  The downside to this was that the lotion contained 5% benzoyl peroxide.  It only works short term, and this was not a chemical I really wanted to be putting on my face and into my system twice a day for the rest of my life.

You may remember I mentioned in one of my first posts that early in the year I had run out of my natural bar soap, and it was not available in any stores.  I had made facial cleansers and tried others from the stores, but nothing seemed to work as well.  On my hunt for a new facial cleanser, I came across The Soap Work's bar soaps in Nature's Fare Market.  The Soap Works is a Canadian company that makes pure, natural, biodegradable specialty soaps.  There was a large selection, and I opted for the one that contained tea tree oil, having heard that it was good for break outs.  The other thing I liked about this soap was that there was no packaging, just one bar code sticker.  What a simple way to save resources.  After using it, I still loved it!  This soap worked even better than the previous one, though I did continue to use the OXY lotion.

Recently I got quite sick and stopped using the lotion during that time.  I did continue to wash my face with the bar soap though, and to my amazement I did not break out!  I am so happy to say that I am phasing out the harsh chemical-filled lotion to use the natural, healthy bar soap alone.

I was so thrilled with my results that I decided to email The Soap Works to tell them of my success.  The next day I recieved the following email in response:

Dear Grace:
Thank you for your email. This is great news! Your email helps to confirm of our belief that sometimes all it takes is the right type of soap to treat or alleviate a skin condition. We will share your comments with everyone at Soap Works. It helps to keep us motivated to know that we are making something that makes peoples' day a little better.
Would it be all right to add your email to the testimonials section on our web site?
Best regards,

It was so great getting a real, personal response to my email.  Great products and great people!  I know for certain that this is a company I want to support.  I encourage you to check them out as well.