Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why I Say No, Thank You to Wal*Mart

My house has been in my family for four generations. It was built in 1850, so it has seen its share of amazing things... If only these walls could talk! It had its start as a boarding house for the Factory workers, until my Great Grandparents came over here from Italy, bought the property, and started a restaurant and bar (we won't discuss their indiscretions during prohibition...)

Generoso and Rose Siano were the first generation of small business owners in my family. They had a few children; you may know Ralph Siano who owned a sausage stand across the way from the beer tent that was a fixture at the Saratoga County Fair for over 80 years. My grandmother was Florence Martino. She was the second small business owner in Ballston Spa in my family line. She owned a Candy Store out of her home. My dad, Jimmy Martino, was the third generation-- he had a hair salon on Front Street for over 20 years!!!

I have dreamed about working for myself and owning a small business in Ballston Spa my entire life. If you look at my family history, it's kind of my destiny. So, maybe my reasoning for not wanting Wal*Mart is selfish, I want to be a small business owner in Ballston Spa some day. I have been doing a lot of research about what happens when Wal*Mart moves into small towns like ours. I think that everyone should do their own research and come to their own conclusions, so I won't divulge, but I will direct you to a documentary on YouTube called The High Cost of Low Prices that is a good starting point. It's also available on Netflix.

The biggest argument for Wal*Mart is that we need a grocery store in Ballston Spa. The argument that has been made is that both Hannaford and Price Chopper both said "No" to building here. I don't know if you have driven through the Town of Ballston lately, but there seems to be a lot of farms there. Wouldn't it be a better resource for both the farmers, and the people who live here, to build an indoor, year round, farmers market on the property? Wouldn't it be wise to work together to solve the issues that our town faces, in a way that is sustainable for future generations, and that keeps profits in the local economy instead of in a billionaires pocket? Because when is the last time a Wal*Mart has built a playground, or a pool for a village?

Why do I say No, Thank You to Wal*Mart? Because I want smart growth in Ballston Spa. I want to see local families succeed, I want our local economy to grow. I am not afraid of change, in fact, I encourage all of the changes that Ballston Spa has made as long as I have been alive. It's become a hub of creativity, of music, good food, hard work, friendship, and working together.

90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal*Mart store. Wal*Mart is not a rarity, it's not an unattainable place from Ballston Spa. It's even on the bus line... Do we really want one to be right on top of us? 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Vibram FiveFingers

I have been wearing these shoes for about two months, thanks to the mild winter that we've been experiencing here in Upstate New York. I absolutely love these shoes...

I know... They are pretty funky looking...

I could wear these shoes day and night. Wearing them is exactly like being barefoot, and I have noticed that since wearing them, my posture is better, and I no longer have pain in my hip. My legs feel stronger, I feel more balanced... Everything I love about being barefoot is embodied in these shoes.

I am the kind of girl that would go barefoot all summer long if it wasn't frowned upon in polite society. There are quite a few styles you can choose from depending on what your needs are. I chose these because I thought they would be great for when I go kayaking.

Vibram FiveFingers are great for those who:
  • Do yoga
  • Run
  • Hike
  • Travel
  • Love water sports
Before I got these shoes, I was wearing a pair of Merrell hiking boots exclusively, except for when I was dressing up. They also have Vibram soles, which I believe are of the highest quality. I have had my hiking boots for about four years, and they still look brand new. I feel like I can attest to the quality of Vibram soles, because of how long my hiking boots have lasted me.

There are many different styles to choose from, based upon what you want to use them for. I know that they look funny... I get stopped at least once a day from someone with questions about them! Sometimes, all I can say is "Yeah, they look funny... But they are amazing! Just like being barefoot!"

If you are a stickler to being barefoot, and are sick of people telling you that you need to put on shoes, then these are perfect for you! I also want to note that it took a few days before the shoes molded to my feet. It is also recommended that you work your way up to wearing these shoes a full day, if you are not used to being barefoot. You are using different muscles than you normally use, but it will be worth the wait!

I bought my shoes on sale (for 50% off!) from Eastern Mountain Sports. You can order them directly from this website:


The shoes have unique sizing, so I would prefer trying them on at a store, or getting sized before buying them online. I hope you try them and love them as much as I do, even if they are funny looking. :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

How To: Make your own deodorant

There are plenty of recipes that you can use to make your own deodorant, but this is the one that I normally use, and it works for me. You may need to try a few different recipes until you find the one that works for your body's chemistry.

1/4 cup of arrowroot powder or corn starch
1/4 cup baking soda
6-8 tablespoons of coconut oil
10-20 drops of whatever essential oil you like, more or less depending.


Mix the arrowroot and baking soda together. Add softened coconut oil, and mix the two together until you like the consistency. Some people like their deodorant harder, so that you can apply it like a regular stick deodorant. I prefer mine a little softer, more like a paste that I apply with my fingers. After you mix everything together, add your essential oils. I used lavender and sweet orange for this batch, but you can use anything that you like! I have made it with lavender and tea tree before, as well.

After you get it mixed together, add it to your container. You can use an old deodorant dispenser if you prefer to use your home made deodorant like a stick deodorant, I used an old body butter container for mine.

Some people are sensitive to baking soda, so you may have to add less then recommended. It really is all about trial and error when it comes to making deodorant, again this is the one that I have found works for me.

Also, coconut oil will melt! If you find that your bathroom is on the warm side, you may have to keep your deodorant in the fridge, or add more arrowroot and baking soda to it to compensate.

If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments or on my facebook page!

Peace and love.

This is what mine looks like before I smoosh it into my containers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Favorite Products: Organic Excellence Review

When I was attempting to use more natural products, I started with shampoo/conditioner. My favorite shampoo before going natural was Pantene Pro-V, so I decided to try their "Natural" line of products. One day in the shower, I read the ingredients... And I found that the only difference between their natural and regular line was the natural line had some aloe vera in it... I was green washed, and I was pissed off.

So, I did a little research and saw that some people were washing their hair with Baking Soda, and using Apple Cider Vinegar as a rinse. I did this for a long time... Probably 6 months... Before I received a sample of Organic Excellence's Wild Mint Shampoo and Conditioner, from my Eco-Emi box. I was in love, and I still am.

The Wild Mint shampoo doesn't have sodium laurel sulphate in it, so it doesn't lather like most shampoos. I know that people associate the lather with the shampoos effectiveness to clean hair, but this is absolutely not the case. I found that I can achieve this rich lather if I make sure that my hair is soaking wet before I apply it. I leave the shampoo in my hair for 2-3 minutes before rinsing it out.

I then use the Wild Mint Conditioner. This conditioner is seriously the best I have ever used. It is the most moisturizing product I have ever used, and my hair is the softest it has ever been in my whole life. I only use a dime sized amount, run it through my hair, and then rinse it out right away. You know how your hair feels while it still has conditioner in it, before your rinse it out? Your hair will keep that feeling even after your rinse... which takes a little getting used to. When I first started using it, I thought that the conditioner wasn't rinsing out of my hair and that it would be wicked greasy when I got out... But I can assure you, it won't be.

Wild Mint Styling Spray is like a natural equivalent to hair spray. It is alcohol free, so you will find that it doesn't dry out your hair. I rarely use this product, because I am a wash and go kind of girl, but the times that I have used it I was impressed at how well it held the style.

After using these products for a few months, I have noticed that my hair is the healthiest it has ever been. It is shiny, full of body, and static free (you have to try it to believe it... but I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been this winter to take off my hat and not have my hair stuck to my face!!!) My mom uses this product as well, and she has hair that is thinning. Her hair stylist told her that she has lots of new growth, which is amazing! I love my hair now, where before I never was pleased... It was always really dry and thin, and nothing I did would moisturize it or make it thicker. I really am so happy that I could share this product with one of my readers. 

Organic Excellence's Wild Mint Shampoo is $15.95 for a 16 ounce bottle. The ingredients are:
Purified Water, Olive Oil (and) Coconut Oil (and) Potassium Lactate, Vegetable Glycerin, Peppermint Oil*, Fennel Extract*, Hops Extract, Balm Mint Extract, Olive Leaf Extract*, Ginger Extract*, Mistletoe Extract*, Allantonin (Comfrey Root), Citric Acid, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Lemon Grass Oil*, Burdock Root Extract*, Sage Extract*, Rosemary Extract*, Grape Seed Extract*. *Certified Organic Herb
The conditioner is $15.95 for a 16 ounce bottle. The ingredients are: Purified Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Olive Oil, Spearmint Oil*, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Olive Leaf Extract*, Ginger Extract*, Chamomile Extract*, Comfrey Root Extract*, Rosemary Extract*, Grape Seed Extract*. *Certified Organic Herb
The styling spray is $14.95 for an 8 ounce bottle. The ingredients are: Purified Water, Guar Gum (Guar Bean), Vegetable Protein, Vegetable Glycerin, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Lavender Extract*, Rosemary Extract*, Peppermint Oil*, Grape Seed Extract*. *Certified Organic Herb
You can buy these products directly from Organic Excellence, but Natural Joy Beauty carries it as well. If you want to try this product, I recommend getting sample sizes from Natural Joy Beauty, just to make sure that you like the product before you shell out the cash for the full sizes. I assure you, though, it is worth every penny. If you purchase products from the salon, you are already paying this much or more... You might as well get a natural product that works better, right?


The Winners!!!

I am pleased to announce the winners of my first giveaway! The winner of the $25 gift certificate is:  

Naomi G. Baker!!!

And the winner of my favorite product(s) is:

Jona Favreau!!! 

This raffle was powered by Rafflecopter. 

Jona will be receiving a trial size Shampoo, Conditioner, and Styling Spray made by Organic Excellence. I will be doing a blog post shortly reviewing these products and why I think they are amazing :)

Congratulations to both! They will have until March 9, 2012 to send an email to ConsciousGrace@gmail.com with their home address.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Day of Lent

I want to write up a quick post about my first day of Lent, because I am off to such a good start!

Breakfast: Applesauce and black coffee.

Lunch:  salad I had brought from home, made with romaine, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and black bean/corn salsa. I also made a delicious balsamic vinaigrette last night to go with it. I seriously felt like a bar of gold the rest of my work day.

Dinner: Spinach and Scallion pancakes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cook book. They were absolutely delicious, and so easy to make! They were spicy and savory, and the corn meal in them reminded me of the corn fritters my mom used to make me. I was actually disappointed that I didn't think of adding corn into the recipe. I will definitely be making these again!

I am so wrapping these babies up in foil so that I can throw them in the toaster oven at work for lunch tomorrow.

Have a good night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, which translates to "Fat Tuesday". This "holiday" was originally started so that people could eat up all of the stuff you couldn't eat during Lent, and essentially just have one big party before we buckle down.

Lent, for those that don't know, is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. It is a time where people reflect and fast. Even if you aren't Catholic, or religious, I feel that this time of fasting and reflecting is important. Even as a person who struggles with faith, I will always have a spot in my life for this period of reflecting and rebirth.

It is because of Lent that I have decided to go Vegan. So, until Easter Sunday, I will be abstaining from eating meat and meat products, including dairy. On Easter Sunday, I hope that my spirit will be reborn which coincides with what the holiday is all about.

Here is where I am going to urge everyone, regardless of religion, to take the time to reflect about our lives, to try to change the things we can, and to consciously try to be better people, no matter what form. Then on Easter, we can celebrate our rebirth as better people, and hopefully we will learn more about ourselves.