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 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.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why I Love Raw Milk

Why I Love Raw Milk:
  1. The taste is superior. I was never a milk drinker until I came upon raw milk. It tastes clean, crisp, and a little sweet. It is really creamy, and I like that I can skim the cream off of the top if I wanted to.
  2. In New York State, if you want to buy raw milk you have to purchase it directly from the farm it comes from. This means that I can see the conditions of the farm, and I can meet the cows that give me my milk, if I so desired. I know that the cows are living happy, healthy lives. They aren't living on top of each other in a factory farm, and therefore I am not inadvertently consuming antibiotics because the cows don't need a daily dose to make sure they don't get sick. 
  3. I get to support my local farmers, by getting my milk directly from them. My farm store also sells beef, veal, chicken, eggs, yogurt, and the best cheese I have ever had. These farmers are passionate about what they do, and it really shows in the quality of the food they produce.
  4. It has a plethora of vitamins and minerals, naturally. These vitamins and minerals are killed when the milk is pasteurized. Raw milk also has an enzyme in it that aids your body in digestion, so those who are lactose intolerant can usually drink raw milk. There are people out there who say that the only beings that should be drinking milk are baby cows, but I politely disagree when it comes to raw milk. In its natural state, it is a perfect, healthy food.
This is just a short list of the many reasons why I love raw milk. Personally, I like to know where my food comes from. I like to feed my body with foods that are as close to it's natural state as possible. I believe that when you process milk, you are breaking down the things that make it a perfect food. If you can get raw milk where you are, I think you should give it a try, even if it's only to support your local farmers.

Natural Joy Beauty Giveaway!!!

I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite online stores, and give you an opportunity to try some natural products out for yourself!

Natural Joy Beauty does the research for you, and when you buy from them, you know you are buying something of quality, and most importantly ALL NATURAL.The products they carry have:

  • NO Phenoxyethanol (a.k.a. Optiphen)
  • NO Parabens, Germall or Germaben
  • NO Japanese Honeysuckle (preservative form)
  • NO FD&C Colorants or Synthetic Fragrance
  • NO Toulene, Formaldehyde or Phthalates
  • NO Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone or Diazolidinyl Urea
  • NO Talc, Nano-Particles or Aluminum
  • NO Bismuth Oxychloride, Titanium Dioxide (loose form)
  • NO Petroleum, Mineral Oil or Paraffin
  • NO Triclosan or Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates
  • NO Animal Testing 
What I really love about Natural Joy Beauty is that they offer samples for really cheap. This, to me, is what sets them apart from other online natural beauty retailers, and really, most any retailer. I'm not going to lie, switching to a more natural life (when it comes to beauty and personal care products) isn't always cheap, and you don't want it to be. It's really nice to be able to sample products before you commit to a full size. I cannot tell you how many natural deodorants I bought before finding one that worked with my body chemistry. Natural Joy Beauty actually saved me from smelling like Jasmine and Taco's when I found their site, and ordered a sample of Salubritas Pina Colada Deodorant Balm!

Because I love this company so much, if I get 100 fans on Facebook before March 1st, 2012, I will give away a $25 gift certificate to Natural Joy Beauty. I am also able to give away one of my favorite products! Here is what you need to do:

February 29, 2012 is the deadline for all entries. If I get 100 fans, I will announce a winner for the $25 gift certificate, and a winner for my favorite product (to be announced), worth $10. If you win either prize, you will have one week to claim it. If the prize is not claimed by March 8, 2012, I will pick a new winner.

If you do the extra credit to gain entries, you must leave a comment below telling me what you did, so that I can keep track. If you share my page with your friends, be sure to let them know that they must tag you in the wall post, or the extra entries for you will not count.

Good luck! And while you're at it, make sure that you go over to Natural Joy Beauty, like their page, and show some love from me!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Personally, I never get a flu shot. First of all, I don't like needles. Secondly, it seems that most people get sick after getting the flu shot, and this is because while your body is making antibodies so that you don't get the dreaded flu later in the season, your immune system is lowered which makes you susceptible to other illnesses. And last but not least, I really don't trust a vaccine that is marketed and handed out on the cheap at your local big box store.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't get one. If you work with the public, are older, have a weakened immune system, or have children, you should do what is best for you and your family. And even if you do get a flu shot, these tips can help you when your immune system is lowered while your body is busy making those anti-bodies.

Ways to Boost your Immune System Naturally:
  1. Eat foods that are known to help your body. These foods include:
    1. High Quality Proteins (both plant and animal based)
    2. Healthy Fats (Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil...) 
    3. Yogurt with Live Cultures. 
    4. Fresh fruits and Vegetables!!!
  2.  Exercise for 30 minutes a few times a week. Light exercise makes your white blood cells more active and healthy.
  3. Reduce the stress in your life. Stress definitely weakens your immune system... I recommend doing some deep breathing exercising, or yoga, even drinking a cup of tea can make you less stressed out. There are also herbs you can take, like kava kava, passion fruit, Valerian root, that are all good at relieving stress naturally. 
  4. Get enough sleep. Reducing stress and getting enough sleep go hand in hand. You need to make sure that you are getting the amount of sleep that makes you feel good, because resting allows you to produce more white blood cells that fight off the nasties!
  5. Avoid Toxins. Toxins are everywhere, in the food we eat (from pesticides), to the air we breathe. It's so important to avoid the toxins you can control, like eating organically grown foods, and using natural products. 
  6. Treat infections right away. Echinecea and garlic are both helpful in treating infection. I would only go on an antibiotic if treating your infection naturally with herbs is unsuccessful. We have all heard the dangers of these super bugs that are resistant to antibiotics, because they are over used... So try to treat infections first naturally, and if it doesn't get better in a few days, then definitely go to your doctor and get something stronger. 
A Few Readily Available Herbs that Boost Your Immune System:
  1. Ginseng Root is awesome for preventing upper respiratory infections, so if you find you are prone to them, I would add Ginseng into your daily vitamins and supplements. If you do get one, it is recommended that you stop taking Ginseng until you are better.
  2. Echinacea is a wonder herb when it comes to preventing colds and making you feel better if you are already sick. There are many ways to take Echinacea, but it should be taken frequently at the first sign of illness, and then you should continue to take it frequently until you feel better. Echinacea stimulates your bodies infection fighting cells, and it increases production of other immunity cells. Echinacea comes in many different forms. There is a liquid extract, capsules, it even comes in tea. I find that the capsules work best for me, because I can just take around 600-800 MG every two hours until I feel better, and I don't have to worry about preparing a ton of tea or measuring out the extract. 
  3. Elderberries are these dark blue/black berries that are known for their ability to take over viruses and make them beg for mercy. Elderberry extract or syrup is the way to go, if you take it for prevention you can take 1/2-1 teaspoon twice a day. If you are sick, take 1-2 teaspoons up to four times a day. If you have an elderberry tree, you can make the syrup yourself pretty easily.
  4. Garlic is an awesome healer, and it has been known as such for thousands of years. Garlic was used before the discovery of penicillin. The enzyme (alliin) is sulfur based, and it has antimicrobial properties. The enzyme comes out when garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed, but cooking destroys it. When I think I am getting an ear infection, I let garlic steep in some olive oil for a while, strain the garlic out, and then drop 8-10 drops in my ear. It offers relief right away and keeps me out of the doctors office. It's excellent for infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and dysentery. You can buy garlic supplements now, and a typical dose is 600-900mg a day if powdered, and 10mg if it is in garlic oil. A medium sized clove of garlic will also do the trick, but remember cooking it kills the active enzyme, so if you are going to add it into food, do it at the end, after you have finished cooking your meal.
There is tons of research about boosting your immune system naturally, and this post just briefly sweeps the surface. A majority of the time, heeding these steps will keep you healthy, and get you better faster. If you find that your illness is lingering, or if you are getting worse, go see your doctor!!!

Here are some more websites that offer advice on this topic:

If you have any other advice to add, or if you have any questions or anything please ask in the comments below, or on my Facebook page and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Living Consciously

    Being conscious, by definition, means to have an awareness of one's own environment, and one's own existence, sensations, thoughts. This blog will be a culmination of the things I discover, and my journey to live a simpler life. If someone else benefits from this, no matter how big or small, I will feel pretty accomplished.

    Here are some things you can expect from this blog:

    1. Reviews from a whole range of products, from books to beauty, apps and software, new technologies and old ones. 
    2. Recipes from beauty to cleaning products, and most importantly food.
    3. Growing a garden, and preserving food.
    4. Keeping an herb garden, for culinary and medicinal purposes.
    5. Tutorials/How To's.
    6. Random musings.
    7. My journey as I adopt whole, natural, good for you foods while not depriving myself from any cravings... And making my favorite foods healthier.
    Above is just a starting point. I'm sure as I get the hang of this blog, it will evolve and grow just as we all evolve and grow as time goes on. The constant in all of this randomness is I will always make conscious decisions to be a better person, to create a better existence for myself, those around me, and the future. 

    I also want this blog to be interactive, so if you have any questions, or requests, let me know and I will do my best to please. Thanks for taking the time to read!