Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eco-friendly Contractors: What Can Happen

Review of NewSouth Windows
Friends, have you thought about buying energy efficient windows, doors or any other remodeling project to make your home more eco-friendly? They often are fabulous ways to save money and they can lessen your carbon footprint!

After I bought my new home, I hired NewSouth Window of Orlando to install 14 energy efficient windows and to convert my sliding glass door to energy star patio doors. I ended up having to hire a second company, Collis Roofing, to finish the project, but once it was done our energy bills dropped significantly. We keep the house at a chilly 74F all year long (in Florida) and our utility bills never exceed $200 for electric, water, and sewer combined! Sweet Jesus, it's lovely!

However, it's important to find the RIGHT contractor because finding the WRONG one can end in a lot of headaches. Trust me. I know.

My (Not So Pleasant) Story
I didn't originally want to write this story because it's so personal, but I feel like it needs to be told. In my wildest dreams I never thought anything like this would happen, but it did. The truth is that it can happen to anybody! You need to protect yourself! So, please read this and make sure you are never in the same situation I'm in!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Shampoo Bars: Are They a Better Alternative For Your Hair

Shampoo bars have been a hot topic on my blog since I posted my review of JR Liggett's Shampoo Bar a year ago. Since then, you guys have challenged me and pushed me with your emails, questions and comments (I LOVE IT!). I've learned a lot and I think it's time to revisit the subject!

Are Shampoo Bars Really 
the Best Shampoo for your Hair?
Many people have expressed to me that they are scared of switching to a shampoo bar and have a fear that it will mess up their hair. I don't blame them for their concern because switching your beauty routine is frightening! It took me months to build up the courage! If you're on the fence or just want to know a little more about how they work-- then let me explain!
Shampoo Bars: Are They a Better Alternative? #Beauty #Hair
Beauty and the Bees Shampoo Bars: Beer (light colored and cut into slivers) and Moroccan Mud (med brown)
What Are Shampoo Bars, Anyways?
Glad you asked. Shampoo bars are actually solid bars of soap that are made specifically for hair. In fact, they were commonly used before our traditional shampoo and conditions were invented (around the time of WWII).

Most people find benefits to switching to a shampoo bar such as increased volume, faster growing hair, reduced dandruff, shinier hair and less frizz.  If you have curly hair, most people say they that they have more defined curls with better control. Shampoo bars are good for all hair types and hair lengths. There are brands which are formulated for color treated hair.

Bad Hair DayThe majority of shampoo bars are all natural and DO NOT contain SLS/SLES (sodium laurel sulfate / sodium laureth sulfate) or other harmful chemicals, but always check the label to make sure! SLS/SLES can cause dry, itchy and irritated scalp. It can also dry out your hair, and contribute to hair loss, especially if you shampoo every day!

So what is SLS/SLES? It cleans the oils from your hair and it allows you to get that really great lather with traditional shampoos. Unfortunately most shampoo bars do not lather very well, but they also do not strip your hair of your natural oils like SLS does.

Because it's gentler, using a shampoo bar allows your hair to retain color and moisture while reducing the instances of dry scalp and especially oily scalp. Removing SLS/SLES from your hair care routine really allows your hair to rebalance and produce adequate amounts of oils.

They are FABULOUS if you travel, but not so great for company (eck!). They are also very cost effective because they last for months and only cost a fraction of what you'd spend in shampoo during that time!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Dip

One of my absolutely favorite things to make for entertaining is Spinach and Artichoke Dip, but what really can make it stand out is using roasted artichoke!
Spinach and artichoke dip
Roasted artichokes are amazingly delicious! I usually make a large batch so that I can serve a whole artichoke for dinner and then use the rest for the spinach and artichoke dip. 

What usually makes people intimidated about artichokes is how to properly prepare them. But don't worry-- it's easy! I'll give you some step by step instruction as to how I prepare an artichoke for roasting.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How to Make Borax Free Laundry Detergent

Hear ye! Hear ye! I have heard the cry of the people!! No more BORAX!!
#DIY Borax Free Laundry Detergent #laundry #clean
I set off on a mission to find a good alternative to the original laundry detergent recipe using greener ingredients!! {superman pose} I did a bunch of research as to what can be substituted in place of borax and there were many, many, many suggestions. I ended up trying out a few different recipes, but settled on what I call…. {drum roll}

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Beauty and the Bees Oatmeal, Honey & Herb Scrub (or Mask)

Hello my huggable hippie friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend. I sure am! Why? Because I get to tell you about this great new product that I'm super excited about!

Beauty and the Bees Honey and Herb Polishing ScrubBeauty and the Bees is on a mission to truly understand sensitive skin (thank you!) by using high quality natural products like herbs, honey, and oils. They are still one of the few companies that still does things from scratch which is impressive and it makes me want to give them a big ole hug!

They also do not use artificial chemicals! You may have been hearing some talk about palm oil-- no fear! Beauty and the Bees is 100% non RSPO palm oil free! They also make a point to be 100% cruelty free and earth friendly as possible (they use glass or recycled paper-- no plastic!) which I really, really, really love.

I admit that I was really excited when I found Beauty and the Bees product line, and I kind of ordered one or two (or five) items to try out. Later, I contacted the company to ask a question about their shampoo bars and they offered to send me some extra gifts to tell you about!! YAY!! {jumps up and down in excitement} Expect more Beauty and the Bees posts soon! But today, I'm really happy to show off this great little product that I think you'll love!

Monday, March 3, 2014

No Noodles Manicotti with Spinach & Sun-dried Tomatoes

After I started making this simple Italian Salami Salad, I've been obsessed with it! As a result, we now have weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) Italian nights. However Italian food can be a little difficult when you're on a low-carb diet.

Oh, the dilemmas!!

So, Pinterest gave me the idea to make my standard manicotti recipe with eggplant instead of noodles. {Mind Blown}  Yeah, it sounds crazy but it's sooooo good!!! I promise-- you won't miss the noodles and it's a great way to cut down on carbs.

Even The Man likes Eggplant Manicotti so I think it's a win especially considering that I don't even use meat in this recipe! After all, he's a steak and potatoes kind of man, but what's even better is that he actually requests the Italian Salami Salad on a regular basis.

He. Wants. Lettuce. (aka "rabbit food). {passes out from shock}

Eggplant Manicotti

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy DIY Solution for Soft, Kissable Lips

I love winter, but my body revolts against it every year. My skin and hair gets dry, my evaporative dry eye acts up, and then my lips always get chapped. I can handle most things, but the chapped lips drive me absolutely crazy!

So now that winter is almost over, I found a simple no-brainer solution for perfectly kissable lips. Oh lala! And I think you're going to love this!

Chapped Lips Nightly Mask
  • Coconut Oil
  • Raw Honey
It's so simple! You just mix coconut oil and raw honey in a 50:50 mix and spread it on your chapped lips. If it's in a solid state-- that's fine because your body heat will make it melt as it just glides across your chops! {wink}

I suggest using this at night for maximum protection against chapped lips. You will want it to be a little thick because it's going to last all night. Plus, you'll undoubtably lick some of it off because it tastes so yummy! And, trust me, your man (or woman) won't mind it either. {wink wink}

You can make it as you need it or you can make a small batch and store it in a mason jar. It should stay good for quite some time, but be aware that the germs on your hands can transfer to the coconut oil and honey. Although the mix has antibacterial properties I still worry about bacterial growth so I never make more than a week's supply at a time (which is still a really small amount). If you want to make a larger batch, then you can use something (like a popsicle stick) to remove the ingredients instead of your fingers. 

Here's my chapped lips pictures:

Chapped Lips Solution BEFORE

And my after chapped lips picture:

DIY solution for chapped lips

You have to try this. It's totally Totes McGotes. 
 
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