New here? Get more useful information by subscribing for free to the RSS feed
Archive for Product Review
September 12th, 2014
With winter almost knocking on our door I can’t help but think about how all the windows and doors in my home will soon be sealed tightly to keep the cool air out and the warm air in. Along with the cool temps and sealed up homes comes a big concern: indoor air pollution.
We generally think of air pollution as an outdoor problem, but our indoor air can be polluted too. Indoor air pollution can come from many different sources including tobacco products, oil, gas, coal and wood, building materials, couches, carpets, cleaning products and more.
How you can improve your indoor air quality: BreatheSmart FIT50
If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air quality, try adding a few indoor house plants.
Another easy way to remove contaminants from the air is to use an air purifier. I’ve tried several air purifiers over the years and have never found one that made much of a difference- until now.
I was sent a BreatheSmart FIT50 made by the Alen Corporation for review. When the box showed up I was a bit surprised by the size of the unit (it’s W16.75″ x H22.25″ x D10″), but once it was out of the box its sleek look won me over.
The BreatheSmart FIT50 HEPA Air Purifier just launched over the summer and I’m pretty impressed with what it has to offer.
- Covers up to 800 sq. ft. on high
- Is extremely quite when running
- Has 4 fan speeds and an timer that can be set
- A filter change indicator light-no more trying to remember when you need to change the filter!
- A HEPA filter that captures dust, allergens and other pollutants
This air purifier has two features that really make it stand out from other air purifiers I’ve tried out. One of my favorite features is the ability to change the look of the front panel-there are several color designer panels to choose from.
Our entire family agreed that the coolest feature is the colored light around the power button.
There are three different light colors and each has a meaning:
- Blue: Low quantity of airborne particles detected
- Yellow: Moderate quantity of airborne particles detected
- Red: Significant quantity of airborne particles detected
When we first began using the air purifier the light was consistently red. I tried moving the unit around to different rooms in the house and all came up red!
After using the BreatheSmart FIT50 for a few weeks I’ve noticed a big difference in the air quality. The light has switched from red to yellow. Phew! This time of year my fall allergies kick in big time and I’m not sneezing as much as in past years.
Bottom Line on the BreatheSmart FIT50 Air Purifier
Overall I really like this air purifier. It’s a bit larger than units I’ve used in the past, but it’s extremely quiet when running. The air quality in the house seems to have improved-there is less sneezing and the indicator light changed color, indicating less airborne particles. The true test is yet to come once our house is closed up for winter. The air purifier is on the pricier side, coming in at $499.00.
Do you use an air purifier?
Disclosure: I did receive an Alen BreatheSmart Fit50 for review. I was neither paid for your review, nor am I employed by Alen Corporation. All opinions are my own.
May 29th, 2014
I just finished watching the movie Fed Up with my 13 year old.
It was eye-opening on many levels. As the credits were rolling I sat on the couch next to my son feeling angry, upset and fed up. But I also felt grateful that I was able to watch this incredible documentary with my son.
Take a peek at the preview:
Thanks to Fed Up there have been fantastic discussions in our home about the food we eat, obesity and the complexities of sugar. We now read food labels together at the market, scanning for forms of hidden sugar.
In a nutshell this film shows us how everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.
The movie, produced by Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and Regina Scully, sets out to change the way we eat forever.
If we don’t change something soon then we are left with the fact that over 90% of all Americans will be overweight or obese in two decades. One in three kids are expected to have diabetes by mid-century. This is the first generation of children that are expected to lead shorter lives than their parents.
In 2010 flip cameras were sent out to a group of 6 kids so they could record candidly their struggles with obesity and food. The film follows these children and documents their uphill battle with the “diet and exercise” model for losing weight.
This is a heartbreaking tale of how easy it is for kids to become addicted to the wrong kind of foods at an early age.
If you thought you understood sugar before, Fed Up has new information that will forever change the way we think about sugar and food in general.
- 80% of the 600,00 items sold in grocery stores have added sugar.
- From 1977 to 2000 it’s estimated that Americans have doubled their intake of sugar.
- A typical 20 ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar from High Fructose Corn Syrup.
- In a recent study, 43 cocaine addicted laboratory rats were given the choice of cocaine or sugar water over a 15 day period. 40 out of 43 chose sugar.
- Low fat products AREN’T necessarily a healthier option and DON’T have less sugar.
- A calorie isn’t a calorie. For example a calorie from a candy bar is very different from a calorie in a piece of fruit or a vegetable.
- Sugar is sugar. It can be disguised in may ways on a food label, but it’s all sugar. Sugar is hiding everywhere: cane sugar, beet sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose. There are over 50 names for sugar.
- Right now food labels list the amount of sugar in products in grams. This is basically useless since it’s very hard for us to visualize in grams. We need to fight to switch the measurement to teaspoons.
- In 1980 there were no cases of Type 2 Diabetes diagnosed (ages 8-19). In 2010 57,638 (ages 8-19) cases were diagnosed. Low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist increase your chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes.
- Since 1995 the government has paid over 8 billion dollars in subsidies for corn based sweeteners including High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Crystalline Fructose which are added to our foods and beverages. Between 1970 and 1990 the consumption of HFCS increased by 1000%.
Our food system is a disaster and it isn’t going to fix itself. The problems we face are real and serious and we need to do something NOW. There’s no question that we all need to work together to save our kids. To save ourselves.
I’m angry. I’m Fed Up.
Go and see the movie, start cooking more home cooked meals, and join forces to help stop this epidemic.
The Fed Up Challenge
On May 12, the #FedUpMovie team went sugar free for 10 days. They used this action as a first step in fighting the biggest public health crisis of our time. It’s not too late to take the pledge. Want to join in and go sugar free for 10 days? Check it out HERE.
If you’ve seen the movie I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Need more convincing to see this flick? Check out Mindful Momma’s Top Ten Reasons to See the Movie ‘Fed Up’ and Mommy Niri’s interview with Katie Couric, Laurie David, Stephanie Soechtig and Dr. Mark Hyman.
May 19th, 2014
Softcup and I are friends again.
A while back I introduced you to the reusable Softcup. Let me be clear-we were never not friends, but I took a break.
What is Softcup? Bye bye tampons and pads
Never heard of a menstrual cup? Softcup is a flexible cup, worn internally around your cervix (do you know where your cervix is?), that collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. It replaces the need for tampons and pads if used properly.
There are two Softcup options:
- Disposable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and is then discarded, and
- Reusable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and reused throughout one menstrual cycle.
I tried SoftCup a few times over the past few years and actually liked it.
But then I became lazy and went back to my trusty organic tampons.
Well, I’m back again Softcup and this time I think I’m here to stay.
Time to “green” your period
Fifty to 70 percent of American women use tampons. A typical woman can use anywhere between 8,000 and 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. The number varies quite a bit since every woman is unique and her cycle is different. The average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene related products in a lifetime. Then there’s the plastic wrapper around the tampon box, tampon or pads and the paper or plastic packaging around every box and individual tampon or pad. I haven’t even mentioned the cardboard or plastic applicator. So much waste.
The process to make each and every tampon and pad also involves a lot of waste. The cotton alone is resource intensive as the farming of cotton requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer.
My Softcup experience
When I was asked to try out Softcup again I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive. My box of organic tampons was working just fine and I wasn’t sure I wanted to change it up again. But then I thought about all that waste……
Picking up right where I left off I still have a bit of a Softcup learning curve to work through. I’ve been using Softcup for the past month and I’m still not perfect at placement (I’m at best awkward), but I’m certainly more comfortable. It’s not easy, but I know from past experience that practice will payoff.
One of my favorite Softcup features is that you can wear it for up to 12 hours during any activity. I’m pretty active and there are times when I’m out and about for hours at a time. Finding a spot to change a tampon is always challenging. Here are a few more reasons to steer clear of conventional tampons:
- Conventional tampons are chlorine-bleached and made with synthetic fibers.
- Conventional tampons may contain residues of dioxin, as well as chemicals to aid in absorbency. Think about where you are placing those toxins.
- One of the biggest risks is tampon-induced Toxic-Shock Syndrome (TSS) which is a rare, and potentially fatal, disease. These risks arise from the synthetic fibers that make tampons and the chemicals used to bleach them.
Send a Free Softcup to a Friend: Help a Sister Out Campaign
If you’re interested in trying out your own Softcup I have good news! On Tuesday May 20th at 1pm EST, Softcup will be hosting a Sampler event which will run until Tuesday June 3rd at 1 pm EST or until supplies run out.
During this time 15,000 free Softcup samples will be sent out!
Anytime between May 20th at 1 pm EST and June 3rd at 1 pm EST click HERE to Help a Sister Out by sending a free sample of a reusable Softcup (provided supplies don’t run out)!
Have you tried Softcup or a reusable menstrual cup? Tell me about it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have been hired by The Sampler App to write this post. This is a “sponsored post.” Softcup sent me a sample of Softcup and compensated me via a cash payment for this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers and only share my honest opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
photo credit: Lieven SOETE via photopin cc
May 12th, 2014
It’s hard to miss a 2014 Kia Soul on the road. Their bright colors and interesting shape make them a standout.
This green (Alien II is the color name) Kia Soul was dropped off in my driveway last Monday. After a quick tutorial the keys were handed over. Having already enjoyed a week with a Kia Optima Hybrid I was ready to test out this Kia Soul for the week.
In the spring our afternoons are generally spent in the car getting from one field to another. At first glance the Kia Soul appeared too small to work for our family. With three boys, and a lot of equipment for soccer, baseball, and karate we need space for our “stuff”. The true test would be whether this car could handle carpools, equipment and a lot of boys.
Overall the Kia Soul was a pleasant surprise in many ways. I was hoping to find a few green attributes, but unfortunately there weren’t many.
I will say that the car grew on me and when the 7 days were up I was sad to see it go.
The Interior of the Kia Soul is Bigger than it Looks
The car is technically a 5 seater, but squeezing 3 in the back isn’t very comfortable. The middle seat is built for a very small person. If you have three small children who don’t require car seats it could be doable. The drivers seat was incredibly comfortable with plenty of leg room for all sizes.
I was most surprised by the amount of cargo space in the rear of the Kia Soul. My groceries fit comfortably inside with all the seats upright.
More Interior Features of Kia Soul
Remote Keyless Entry
Remote Keyless Entry with the Folding Key allowed me to open and lock the car by simply pushing a button on the door handle-provided the key was in a pocket or bag close by. This was one of my favorite features.
My kids got a kick out of the sound of the horn. It was an old-fashioned honk that we ended up using a lot while we were driving around.
The dash was very intuitive. The GPS system worked well and was used quite a bit during the week. The turn signal sound was very quite and I couldn’t find a way to adjust it. There were many times when I had the turn signal on and then realized minutes later that it was still on, well after the turn.
Almost everything was power operated, including the seat adjustments, power windows and locks. This made it a breeze to adjust the seat position from driver to driver. The seats included heating and cooling systems, which was helpful as the weather went from warm to hot.
Another favorite interior feature was the double pane sun roof that covered almost the full length of the car. It was so nice to allow sunlight and daylight in while I was driving.
The steering wheel in the Kia Soul contained buttons to control the radio volume and change channels without taking your hands off the wheel. There were also buttons to adjust your cruise control settings. There’s nothing like a heated steering wheel on a cold morning!
Active Eco System and Fuel Economy
While in theory the Active Eco System in the Kia Soul sounded great (proactively controls parts of the engine, transmission, and air conditioning system to realize optimal fuel economy) the car didn’t get great fuel economy while I was driving it. For a relatively small car I was expecting more than 23,3 MPG.
Exterior of the Kia Soul
The bright green color didn’t do it for me. It was a bit too bright. I found that people either loved or hated the color when they saw it…and they were quick to let me know! The shape of the car is unique and certainly makes it standout. The color did come in handy when I was looking for my car-it was easy to spot.
I loved the Power-Folding mirrors that automatically folded in every time I turned the car off. There was also a manual control for tight parking situations.
Kia Soul Value
The MSRP of the Kia Soul including options is $26,195. This car qualifies as a bit more than a commuter car. It’s a perfect car for a college student or someone without a large family who wants a very comfortable ride.
Overall Impression of the Kia Soul
The Kia Soul isn’t a practical everyday car for our large family, but it could easily work as a second family car. Overall the car was surprisingly large inside and comfortable. Unfortunately there weren’t many green features aside from the color.
Disclaimer: The Kia Soul was loaned to me from a 3rd party. I was not compensated or asked to write a favorable review. All opinions are my very own.
April 15th, 2014
I’ve been wearing my favorite brown Earth Footwear boots for years. When I chose them I remember thinking they were the coolest boots ever (they are), and noticing that they were incredibly comfortable (they are). When I think of Earth Footwear I always think of comfort first. That must be why they’re marketing their new spring/summer 2014 line of shoes as “stylish and comfortable”.
Earth Footwear Fauna Platform Wedge
When I was asked to review the Fauna platform wedge from Earth Footwear I jumped. I was curious to see if years after purchasing my beloved Earth Footwear brown boots this brand could still pass my style and comfort test.
I chose the royal blue nubuck Faunas just to step outside my normal black and neutral color box. Truth be told, I was hoping that choosing a spring color would help spring actually arrive.
This photo doesn’t do these shoes justice. They are incredibly cute AND comfortable. Amazingly comfortable for a 2 1/2″ heel and a 1″ platform.
Although it appears that a button is holding the two straps in place, it’s actually Velcro! Ever since my kids were little and wore Velcro sneakers I’ve always wanted my own Velcro shoes. They’re so easy to adjust and take on and off.
If blue’s not your color, these shoes also come in beige and coral.
Over the years I’ve had several foot injuries from running and working out including plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Flat sandals with no support no longer work for my sensitive feet. I’ve become very selective about the shoes I wear. These shoes (and all Earth Footwear) have a cushioned footbed with a padded heal area to displace shock. There’s even reinforced arch support. After wearing them for a few hours on a warm day last week I had no foot pain. That’s the true test of a good shoe for me.
These shoes are priced at $115.00. The entire Spring/Summer 2014 Earth Collection starts at $85–with the majority of the collection under $100.
Which are your favorite Earth Footwear shoes? Check out the full collection HERE.
P.S. If you sign up for the Earth eNewsletter you’ll automatically be entered into a monthly shoe giveaway!
Disclosure: Thank you to Earth Footwear and the Mamavation team for providing me with pair of shoes for this review. I did not receive any compensation for this post and the opinions expressed are my very own.
April 14th, 2014
Putting toxic chemicals under your arms stinks! That’s why MightyNest, a long time sponsor of this site and an internet retailer of high quality and safe products for our homes and families, asked me to put the natural deodorant, Primal Pit Paste, to the test.
Find out why you should choose a natural deodorant, then take the pledge to join me. Your pits will thank you, AND you could win a Happy Pit Pack from MightyNest (valued at over $100.00)!
MightyNest, Your School and an Earth Day Challenge
Before we jump into why natural deodorants are so important I wanted to make sure you were familiar with the MightyNest for Schools program. If your school does any fundraising (wrapping paper, chocolate, magazines-sound familiar?) you’ll want to hear about this. MightyNest started an easy to use fundraising tool for schools. MightyNest for Schools is an internet shopping fundraiser. It’s simple- parents shop at their convenience for healthy everyday items and 15% of their purchase goes back to the school.
With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, MightyNest is helping parents and schools through their Earth Day Challenge to pledge to make healthy changes that benefit their family and the planet. Until April 28th, we can all earn impact points by pledging to make simple changes (like making the switch to natural deodorant in the pledge below!). The school earning the most points will win a $1000 grand prize and other top schools will share $3000 in additional prizing.
My Week With Natural Deodorant: Primal Pit Paste
We are a culture obsessed with smelling pretty. Take a stroll down the deodorant aisle at any supermarket and the options are endless.
Did you know that it only takes 26 seconds for a body care product to enter our bloodstream? Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants could not only contain controversial aluminum, their ingredient list is long and filled with other suspicious chemicals that I don’t want on or in my body. That is reason enough for me to stop using conventional deodorants. Fortunately there are safer alternatives…….
Thanks to MightyNest I was sent a few samples of the natural deodorant from Primal Pit Paste to try out for a week.
Before using it I checked out the ingredient list: organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic arrowroot powder, aluminum free baking soda, essential oils. Almost good enough to eat!
My workouts happen on most days so I was excited to really put Primal Pit Paste to the test this week. From spinning to running-I was incredibly active. The thyme and lemongrass scent wasn’t overpowering, and did it’s job. The deodorant was so easy to apply. The full sized version comes in a stick and it rolls right on under your arm pits.
My favorite scent was the orange creamsicle that happens to be earmarked for kids. It was bit challenging to apply the deodorant from the smaller, sample sized container since I had to use my finger. The stick was much easier. There’s also an unscented version and a lavender scent.
I’ve tried quite a few natural deodorants and I’m excited to add another one to my recommended list.
Take the Pledge and Enter to Win!
One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader is going to win a Happy Pit Kit valued at over $100 from the folks at MightyNest! The prize pack includes a sample pack of deodorants (in various scents), Lifefactory glass water bottle, Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil, a set of 3 Go Toob reusables travel tubes, Preserve razor and extra replacement cartridges, Planet Wise wet/dry cosmetics bag, and Dr. Bronner’s organic shave gel.
Now you know — there’s a natural deodorant that not only works, it’s also completely safe for your body. So, pledge to green your pits and you could win a Happy Pit Kit from MightyNest. You’ll also have a chance to help your school celebrate Earth Day and win up to $1000 in the MightyNest for Schools Earth Day Challenge!
Disclosure: Thanks to MightyNest for supplying me with samples of the natural deodorant to test. This post is brought to you by MightyNest. All opinions are my very own. For more information on sponsored posts, read here.
April 9th, 2014
Over the years I’ve been searching for safe and non-toxic cookware. Despite the ease and convenience of non-stick pots and pans such as Teflon, many health conscious people (including me!) are tossing their non-stick and replacing them with healthier options.
I’ve always been a stainless steel fan. Much of my cookware is stainless steel and I’ve recently added a few cast iron pieces to our kitchen.
When 360 Cookware asked me to test out a piece of their stainless steel cookware I was intrigued. They sent me a one quart saucepan for review.
What is 360 Cookware?
Their cookware is stainless steel (my favorite) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Here are a few other favorite features:
- The handle stays cool while you’re cooking.
- The pots and pans are oven safe up to 400 degrees.
- You can actually bake in a pan on your stove-top.
- No water or oil required for cooking.
- There are no harsh chemicals used in the finish of these pans and food rarely sticks.
360 Cookware’s claim to fame is their Vapor Technology that’s used when cooking food.
What is Vapor Technology?
Vapor Technology allows you to cook on low to medium heat without water or oil. The design and metal of the pans enables food to cook in its own natural juices.
Forming a vapor seal is key to vapor cooking. Once the domed lid is in place and steam is coming out the sides of the lid you then spin the lid. Once this happens the heat should be reduced to low and the Vapor Technology is active.
The design of the pan is interesting. Aesthetically it’s a very nice looking pot. The domed lid cradles perfectly on top of the pan and truly does hold in the moisture. The pans heats the food evenly, surrounding it 360 degrees with heat. Hence the name 360 Cookware. The concept is pretty simple-the pot essentially turns into a mini-oven on your stove top. 360 Cookware has tested the vapor technology against other cookware claims that it can result in energy use reduction of 200-600% while conserving natural resources.
My favorite feature: There is no grease or oil needed for cooking in these pans! I’m still finding this a hard concept to get used to.
I’ve been using my one quart saucepan for sauce, vegetables and other smaller side dishes. It’s really not big enough to cook chicken or other main courses for a family of 5.
Clean up of 360 Cookware
One night while multitasking I accidentally left steaming vegetables in the pan for too long. The pan was in pretty bad shape after this mishap. After a bit of elbow grease the pan looks as good as new. HERE are some of my tips for cleaning stainless steel pots and pans.
My Take on 360 Cookware
I really like this pot. It’s a nice stainless steel addition to our kitchen. It’s a bit wider than my All-Clad Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan, which I like. It’s easier to stir food and it cooks everything evenly.
I’m still not completely sold on the Vapor Technology. The lid does fit tighter than my other stainless steel pots and pans, however the jury is still out on whether 360 Cookware has this special edge over other brands.
This is a bit pricey for a one quart saucepan, but the quality is there. It’s priced the same as the All-Clad Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan. If you’re buying top of the line cookware this is a great brand to check out.
What stainless steel pots and pans are your favorite?
Disclosure: 360 Cookware sent me a one quart pot for review. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support in this way!