Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Epilator

So I've taken some time to try this out several times. Since I use the Panasonic ES-WD51 I get about 40 minutes per charge (it takes an hour to charge) and I can tell when it's getting low.  Once it turns itself off you can get about another minute or two out of it if you just need to hit a quick touch up on your ankle or knee.  Mine also has the ability to be used dry or wet and had more than one head: epilator, shaver, and bikini trimmer, which is like a mini epilator head.

The first time I used the bikini trimmer head because I was afraid it'd hurt something fierce.  With that head on it had less surface area and in the 40 minute charge I was only able to do one leg.  That being said I think I'd have cried if I tried the normal head first and had all 48 ready and available to pull out hairs.  Turns out you have more hair than you'd think, or at least I do thanks to little blonde hairs I generally don't see. I used this head both dry and wet and it seemed wet was best.  Dry hurt and that was to be expected, but by adding a little soap to the head and getting my leg wet it went a lot smoother. In the bath also worked well with the bikini trimmer head and that's where I tried it where it was meant and had almost no pain, score!  I shaved my second leg and he couldn't tell which was which so I had him pick the smoothest leg, it was the epilator one.

In about a week I tried again and moved on to the actual epilator head and well I was in for a shock.  It hurt more than the first time when I had less tweezers exposed, but again the soap and wet leg eased the pain. I was able to get both legs done in 40 minutes and I noticed that the second time on the same leg hurt less than the first time on the leg I had shaved last time.  So, it does get better with use, you just have to hang in there. And I should mention that when I shave I have to shave every morning, which isn't easy with a one year old who wants to get in the shower too.

It was about a week and a half before I needed to use it again and this time I ventured into trying it dry. It was kind of amazing, I had the initial jump the first time and then it was fine.  When I don't start at my ankle or knee itself it hurts less and by the time I get to the sensitive areas I've adjusted nicely. Since I like to take "navy showers" to keep our water bill down, to avoid a puddle on the floor as the curtain gets pulled open nonstop by little hands, and to conserve water.  If you take a full on soaking bath it will give you even less pain, but your tub will look like it needs to be cleaned, so be prepared to rinse it out after.

I'm now at about two weeks every time I use it and it's great!  It really doesn't hurt me anymore, and I honestly feel like half of the pain I felt in the start was just sheer fear.  I was so afraid it'd hurt I made it worse than it was.  I can use my epilator completely dry with no issues and I did an arm without flinching once.  I can even use it and be done before my charge runs out, which means I'm spending about an hour a month using it....not really that bad when I'd have to shave every day otherwise at about 2.5 hours a month.

There is one catch!  That bikini trimmer head, that is really the only head you should use in that area.  I tried with the normal epilator head and well it wasn't exactly fun, it's fine for larger surface areas but not smaller, sensitive regions.  That head is included for a reason! Also...the under arms (arm pits), I tried once with the normal head on and about screamed, so for now that is the one area I still shave but maybe I'll try to slowly work at that.  It may be better with the smaller head, but I can't report on that yet, all I can say is that may be the most sensitive place to use this and I do not recommend it until you are very used to it.

Suggestion: Do it, it get's easier with each use.  If you don't have an epilator yet the one I use is great, but if you go with a different one make sure it has a smaller head like the bikini trimmer head I have if you plan to use it anywhere other than legs and arms. Also, be sure you know if it's a wet/dry or just dry.  I recommend starting with a wet/dry until you are used to it.  During winter being able to have my legs wet and use soap helped keep my legs a little more moisturized.  Last thing, if you have sensitive skin (I do), get CeraVe Cream. I can use it right after I use my epilator any have no issues.  I can't use any lotions that have scents in them or my skin freaks out.  So, go get one and give it a month or two, you won't regret it!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blog Changes

Alright,  it's been a couple weeks since my last post and I apologize.  I've been looking back over my blog and trying to redesign it and stream line it a bit.  Everyone is here for different reasons and I wanted to make it easier for people to find exactly what they want. I also wanted to clean up some old posts and delete some old series I was working on and dropped.  No more quotes of the day, no more photo of the week, and no more one paragraph reviews of an article or video I read with a link to it.  I've grown up a lot since I started my blog and I wanted it to grow with me.  Don't worry the nerdy stories of stupid things I do are still on here and I'm sure there will be more since that is how all of this got started, but my life is very different.  So check out the new layout!  It won't really look different in mobile, but it will be easier to search for certain posts!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Recipe and Review: Homemade Laundry Soap

I made some laundry soap a couple weeks ago and did a couple loads of laundry with it to check it out. Luckily for me it ended up awesome! The clothes smell good, they are clean, there isn't any residue left on them from using a non-liquid soap, and my over-active sensitive skin did not react. Since I now have enough laundry soap to last us several years I packed some up for a friend who wanted to try it out.  Apparently in her super pregnant glory she posted to facebook about how great it smelt, which resulted in requests for the recipe. Posting it online is a lot easier than me texting it to everyone!

I started with a recipe online, which takes about 10 minutes to load on my phone from all the comments and things, and then went from there making some slight changes as desired.  Since all online soap recipes are similar it really stands to reason that someone else out there made the same changes I did, however my friends wanted to know exactly what I used so I'm posting it for them...and for me when I need more soap in 2018! We just don't do much laundry at the moment with me not working and all...so currently this would last us 4-5 years. This makes enough for approximately 310 loads of laundry.

Ingredients:
Downy Unstopables Shimmer 13.2 oz (or 19.5 if you want a lot of scent)*
Borax 76 oz**
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda 55 oz**
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda ( Either 2-2 lb boxes or 1-4 lb box)
Fels Naptha Soap (2-5.5 oz bars)
Oxiclean (I used 2-1.2 lb tubs, but you could use 2/3 or all of a 3 lb tub)
*You can use a different scent, that is what I used. Purex Crystals in 28 oz would work too, but our store doesn't carry it.
**If ordering from Amazon, Borax and the A&H Washing Soda come in a combo pack for less.

Steps:
  1. Grate the Fels Naptha into the bin.  
  2. Add in everything else and stir to mix.


STORE in a small storage bin, a 3+ gallon bucket, or smaller detergent bottles. I stored mine in the Oxiclean and Downy bins, and the extra in a small tote/bin in our basement (the extra would fit into a 2 gallon bucket just fine).  Just be sure you have a lid of whatever container you use.  The small oxiclean containers come with smaller scoops than the large bin, so I use that or the line on the lid of the downy bottle to measure out my soap.

USE PER LOAD:
1-2 tablespoons per load (1 tablespoon for small to regular loads, 2 for large loads...you know the ones where you hope there's room for water still).  Works in HE, top load and front load machines.

Recommendation: Try it out! It's awesome!

On Amazon the total cost was around: $60, we bought things in store so it was about  $31. Which over the course of 4 years is about $7 a year so even if I had bought it all on Amazon it'd be $14 a year for us, which is still really good. That's us though and like I said, we don't have a need for many loads of laundry right now. Figure out how many loads of laundry you do a week and do the following to determine how long it will last you:
310 / # of loads per week / 52
Divide the total you spent on ingredients and divide the number you got from above and that is how much it will cost per year (unless you got less than 1 above).  If you got less than one, you not only do way too much laundry, but you will need to adjust the equation...don't divide by 52 and that is how many weeks it will last.


Microwave Soap Method:
I did try the slice, microwave and then crumble method for the soap bars and it didn't work well.  My microwave still smells like soap weeks later, and I couldn't get it to crumble so I had to put it in the food processor to break it up. I had to scrub it and blend up food in it three times to get the smell out of the processor.
Recommendation: Don't do it!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dr. Bronners Review

Every shower I've taken I've washed my hair with Dr. Bronner's to give it a fair shot.  I used an apple cider vinegar rinse, did it with no rinse, lathered it up before putting it in, and poured it straight from the bottle into my hair.  My hair had insane volume, but sadly that volume looked like dry frizz and I felt like I should have dreadlocks.  It was also very tangled even after drying.  While the sticky feel goes a way a bit once it is dry, it does not leave completely.
 The vinegar rinse smelt horrid, which I knew would be the case. It did seem to strip some of the sticky feeling away, but it was still there but now with the smell of apple cider vinegar.  That's incredibly sexy, just let me tell you.  I only did the rinse a few times as I felt my hair seems drier than just Dr. Bronner's itself. This makes me a bit nervous to do a bar shampoo test now, since they also call for a vinegar rinse and I used their ratio to make it.
After several uses I will say it may work well for men, it may even work well for women with pixie cuts.  If you have long hair, it's a absolute no. In the end I rewashed my hair the other day with my normal shampoo and it still isn't back to "normal" yet. I feel like the volume came from my hair being stripped of all moisture and health.  While I love the stuff as soap (mind you not the Rose, that seems to leave the same feeling my hair had on your skin for a minute or so), but not as shampoo unless you are camping or it is an emergency.

End vote: Dr. Bronner's is great as soap, but not as shampoo! Don't do it!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Recipe: Clean Vegan Hazelnut Spread and Clean Chocolate Spread

This is overdue, I apologize! It's been a crazy couple of weeks over here.  Anyway, I could not find a recipe I liked for my nutella.  They all had butter or margarine or milk or were just way too complicated for me, so I took a shot in the dark and was really happy.  If you just want a chocolate spread for chocolate ice cream skip to option 1 or 2 (depending on which you'd like to use).

Ingredients:






  • 1.5-2 cups hazelnuts (only if you want nutella)
  • 1 cup bakers sugar (bakers sugar is just a finely granulated sugar, toss regular sugar in a food processor and you could get the same thing)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cocoa powder (1/3 if no nuts, 1/2 if using nuts)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil (can be olive, peanut, canola, vegetable, coconut)







  • If using option two: an additional tbsp of oil






  • If using option two: 1/3 soy or coconut milk

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F


    Preparing the nuts: (If you want chocolate spread without nuts skip this part)
    1. Place the hazelnuts on a bakers sheet/jelly roll pan and bake for 12 minutes to toast them.
      • You can turn them over halfway through or just watch for them to brown and the skin to start to bubble or come away from the nut and not turn them over.
    2. Remove from oven and place in tupperware lid or a bag that can seal.  Shake to remove most of the skin.  If you want to remove all of the skin, you will be here a long time.  You just need to get most of it off. It is easiest if you shake it and then remove the nuts that are clean and shake again.
    3. Let cool and put into the food processor. I recommend you process the nuts now, but it's not required.
    4. Pick which option you want to use below to finish.
    Option 1: Preparing the chocolate
    1. In a small sauce pan, heat the chocolate, sugar, salt and coconut oil (if using a liquid oil add half to pot and half to food processor) on the stove over low heat.  Stir constantly.
    2. Once it is in a liquid state and no longer granulated remove from heat and pour into the food processor.
    3. Add vanilla and dash of salt.
    4. Blend until smooth! You may need to stop the process at times to scrap everything back into the mix, I have a large processor so I had to, smaller ones may not have this issue.
    5. Place in air tight container and store in cool dark place (i.e. cupboard)
    Option 2: Preparing the chocolate 
    1. Place chocolate, sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla into the food processor.
    2. Blend until smooth! You may need to stop the process at times to scrap everything back into the mix, I have a large processor so I had to, smaller ones may not have this issue.
    3. If after 2-3 minutes of processing (actual processing time, not including time to stop and scrap sides) it still seems grainy to you you can do one of the following and process for another minute.
      • Hazelnut Spread: Add another tbsp of oil
      • Chocolate Spread: Add 1/4-1/3 cup soy or coconut milk (chocolate soy works well)
    4. Place in air tight container and store in fridge for up to a month
    Your spread should be darker than store bought nutella, especially if you just made chocolate spread.  It may be closer to the color of JIF's hazelnut spread depending on if you used nuts and how many.  The first option will give you a really smooth finish and will take less time in the food processor, but more time overall.  The second option will take longer in the food processor, but less time over all. So far I'm on week two and mine is still fine.  Once I run out I will make some more, take a photo (oops, I forgot and started using it in ice cream right away) and will set some aside in a separate jar to get a solid "best by" date.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Moving on with my eco-friendly life

    Well, I had said before I would need to look for more eco-friendly bathroom products.  I have started to take "Navy Showers," which I find I actually like a lot.  It's faster and since Abby can climb I'm supposed to bring her into the bathroom with me when I shower unless it's her nap time.  And let's be honest, the kid loves bath time and with her room being adjacent the sound of the shower would wake her up.  So she comes with now and the quick showers limit the amount of water on the floor from her flinging the curtain open like it's a game.  I do need a better curtain...but that's a different problem because I refuse to buy a hemp curtain. On we go!

    Shampoo
    I used to use Aveda or American Crew (I love the mint tingle), but neither is that eco friendly and are a 4-5 on the safety scale. My current bottle of shampoo is Garnier Fructis was bought in a hurry with a coupon for about $2-3 (25 oz); it is not super eco-friendly and is still a 4-5 on the safety scale. We use Dr Bronner's for soap and have for as long as I can recall, so I thought I'd try that.  It works for him, but it made my hair feel like I put dry wax in it and was beyond sticky, which prompted me to rewash with my shampoo.  I've researched it more and apparently I can do a apple cider vinegar or lemon rinse after
    After sorting through article after article I gave up and went to SkinDeep and found some safe options with small ingredient lists.  All of these so far are in the $25 for 8-10 oz range so that isn't too fun, but I am . I continued on and found lots of bar shampoos on the list.  I was skeptical at first, but after reading up on it they are very eco friendly, have safe and natural ingredients, last a lot longer than liquid shampoo, and they can be used with a vinegar rinse if you have long hair.  I think I'll be one of the girlie-girls and add natural essential oils to my rinse.   I'll make a rinse and try Dr Bronner's again and maybe a bar shampoo like Chagrin Valley or Soap for Goodness Sake! Or maybe I'll attempt to make my own some day.  So more to come on this!

    Shaving
    This here may be a choice I regret or love!  I don't think there will be any middle ground on this one. I'm Italian so my hair grows back fast and it drives me nuts.  I don't want to start waxing my legs because that isn't very eco-friendly and it also costs too much.  Laser would be great, but that is out of the question unless I start playing and win the lottery.  I stumbled across epilators in my search for eco shaving options and went with one from Panasonic.  Turns out it will likely hurt at first but my body will adjust, like with waxing.  There are no more blades, unless I use that attachment (which I just might at first for under arms and anywhere I'm just not ready for yet), and it recharges in an hour and can be used wet or dry.  I managed to snag mine on a lightening deal thing and spent about $40 instead of $100! It arrives tomorrow...I'll let you know how it goes.

    Feminine Products
    So, I gave in and ordered a Diva Cup online.  For those who don't know what that is, it's a washable and reusable cup that is used in place of tampons. Supposedly there are no leaks and it hold enough that you can put it in first thing in the morning and then switch it out at night (or remove, clean/rinse, replace). It wasn't hard to figure out which of the two sizes I needed, and since I use applicator-less products now it's supposedly an easy transition.  This baby comes in on Friday, but it'll be a while before I can give any real feedback on it.  Just like with the epilator I'll give it more than one try before I say it's out. I will say I am a tad bit nervous to try this.  What happens if it doesn't work and I'm running around somewhere, or worse yet just running. It's going to be a change, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

    Products we still aren't giving up
    And just to kind of toss out a reminder on what we won't give up, in case you are new to the blog or just didn't want to read that long list before, here are some items we won't be giving up.  Toilet paper, tooth paste, deodorant (we may switch to one of these or something else better for us though), baby wipes (but I will use reusable ones for just wet changes and we will switch to an eco-brand), and my makeup (I will cut back and look for better eco options)!

    In other news...
    We have decided to start cashing in on all those digital copies that came with our blu ray movies and sell all the physical movies themselves.  Since we use Amazon Prime for everything already, I'm loading them all onto there and we are starting to get rid of some of our clutter.  We will keep our fancy box sets and things that can be displayed nicely, but for the most part we are trying to downsize/rightsize our lives in hopes of building a new and smaller house some day.  Goodbye Disney Movie Club, it's been fun!  Actually it's been expensive and I own multiple copies of movies thanks to an error on your part that sent me three months of movies at once.  Super fun! The digital copies are less money anyway and half of these movies are still sealed.  Since we don't watch tv or movies too much anymore, it's just three drawers of movies I can use to store things like my hand weights, kettle bells, bands, yoga foam blocks and other small workout items that Abby current tries to eat or play with.


    *For anyone wondering, no I am not paid by any companies to try out, review, or link to their items.  I provide links in case you are interested in them yourself, or just so you know what I am talking about.  If you do follow a link to amazon and buy that item I get a tiny credit that after 10 years or so might add up to an Amazon gift card. Mostly the links the are so you can look at the products yourself. I'm merely trying out things I've come across online on my own, and not with any company asking me to.

    Weighing In!

    This morning I did my weigh in and was happy to see that I was officially in the pre-baby weight zone at 140.1 lbs!  I also wanted to check my BMI, but it's been so long since I've had to use my height I thought I'd check that too.  Turns out I've been shorting myself some inches!  I'm officially 5'3" without shoes and ironically I believe that is what was on my first drivers license but my current one says 5'2" on it..  So, with my correct height I plugged it all in and for the first time in a long while I've had my BMI spit back as 24.8, which means I'm no longer classified as overweight! Eating clean has had a nice impact on my weight and I've shed the last of the pre-baby weight.  So I'm basically where I was before I started working out before the baby, so now I can start to work out again soon knowing it's not just baby weight coming off giving me inflated results. SO, WOO HOO! FINALLY NOT OVERWEIGHT!