Category: Product Reviews-100% unsolicited

OK, here goes. I have been away for quite a while (a newborn, now 11mths, will do that), but decided to jump on the coconut water bandwagon. .. and what a lovely jump it was!

I have bought and tried 3 different brands–Taste Nirvana, Vita Coco, and Zico.

Let me start with Vita Coco. I read about this company online after seeing the CEO/Founder in an hour long special on Bloomberg News. So, I dug a little more. … I love his story, the company seemed like a great investment and worth the try. Even if he sells his product in WalMart across America. So, was it worth the hype? For me, NO. I find this brand has a bitter taste to it, for lack of better descriptive. Great for cooking muffins and the like, but not my favorite for drinking. Perhaps best for washing your hair, as Brazilians do. I don’t know if its the coconuts he uses, or what, but not impressed… at all.

The second brand, Zico, has much the same flavour as Vita CoCo… I’ll drink it because I bought it, but again, for my tastebuds, best used in cooking and washing your hair.

The 3rd brand I’ve tried is Taste Nirvana. Let me tell you, the name says it all… mmmm-mmm–good. It has a light sweet flavour, very refreshing, and comes in pulp-free, pulp inclusive, and aloe inclusive (aloe, I know!). I’ve tried all three of this line. I do like the pulpiness, actually, but it wouldn’t be everyone’s favourite, I’m sure. The aloe gel, it’s different. I didn’t mind it much–and aloe is good for you inside and out–but the gel chunks may be a bit hard to swallow for some. Some may not like the chunkiness of it, but I certainly didn’t mind. This company, btw, uses young coconuts from Thailand, fair trade, eco-friendly farming practices. So I like the company’s mantra, as well, for their products.

When going organic, it’s great to just try different things. All of these brands are also in similar price ranges. Zico and Vita CoCo come in tetra paks, but Taste Nirvana comes in glass jars. Maybe that’s also why I like it… it’s like reading a book vs iPad touch… nothing says a good book like the feel of the paper back, dog-earing pages, making notes in the margins. … Drinking Taste Nirvana is just that… a good old-fashioned reading.. in a bottle.


This was a gift to us, so I know I shouldn’t complain, but it wasn’t gifted with me in mind, but rather my husband. 

First of all, this stroller couldn’t possibly have been designed by a woman.  If it was, it wasn’t tested for pushing a toddler with one hand while holding an infant in the other. … if it was, it would have failed miserably.  This 3-wheeled stroller is NOT meant for a light stroll with one-hand control.. at all.  I thought maybe it was just me-I’ve never had a 3-wheeled stroller before, so maybe it was just me needing to get used to the way it moves. … Now I’m convinced it just isn’t meant for my lifestyle.  This is NOT the stroller you need for the occassional walk around the mall, or a walk along the greenspace trails.  This stroller is meant for a jogger… which isn’t me.

My 2nd beef with this stroller is the toddler/infant set up.  I have never seen such an awkward set-up in my life!!  According to the manufacturer, you are supposed to lay the infant flat under the toddler seat.  Now, if you see this stroller, and actually try this set up… you’ll see how dastardly awkward it is.  The only way you’re getting that infant in this position is to lay him/her in the seat, then attach the 2nd seat on top of it…  even then, there is mere inches (like 3-4 max) between the infant and the 2nd seat situated above.   If you have a baby like mine who hates to sleep on his back, this is so not going to work for you.  I was terrified the whole time I tried this set-up that my toddler was going to somehow squish my baby’s tummy.. that’s how close the 2nd seat is to this awkward infant/toddler set up.  So, I do what you’re not supposed to do with infants…  stick him in the back while the toddler sits in the main section.

Which brings me to my 3rd beef with this stroller:  The double set up.  This stroller is not meant for the average/shorter person with little arms.  I’m 5-7, and I find this set up terribly hard on my back when walking with this stroller, because the handle isn’t long enough to accommodate my arm-length (and I have long gangly arms).   Yes, the handle adjusts to a higher position, which helps, but you are still walking very awkwardly with the double set up… you have to lean into the stroller, not walk with a proper straight back posture.  Maybe if you’re above average height, you can comfortably walk around with this stroller around the park and mall.   

My 4th beef with this stroller: the storage. … Or should I say, lack thereof.  You can barely fit a diaper bag in the storage pocket, with just the single seat set up.  If you want the double set up, forget the storage, you’ll need that for the little one’s feet…and blanket.   My 8yr old Eddie Bauer is looking more and more enticing, regardless of whether the dog chewed the seat buckle when she was a puppy, it still functions, it has lots of storage space for a trip to the mall… it’s just not suave anymore. … *LOL* … and who knew a stroller could be suave?

My 5th beef with this stroller: the folding/unfolding …  the first time you fold it down, you have to wriggle the front wheel to make it fold flat. Forget folding it with the double seat–it just doesn’t work regardless of how closely you follow the manufacturer instructions. .. there’s no way the double seat folds under the single seat when you fold it down, so I take the double seat off and fold it with just the single seat. … the Unfolding is a real treat.  Not even my husband could get the button to depress the first time around.  We had to use a hammer and soft end of a screw driver to get the button to depress the first time. … and this button, by the way, is so NOT handy!…  On my Eddie Bauer, the button to fold/unfold the stroller is built into the handle so you can literally fold/unfold with one hand…   with the Phil and Ted’s?  There is no one-handed folding/unfolding of the stroller. … you have to take the stroller out, find the button, hope to God it depresses easily for you… Then you have to jerk the stroller up to lock it into place. …

This is just a poorly designed stroller.   Don’t get me wrong, with all the downfalls of this, I do like the stroller in general… but whomever designed this should be fired, or at least get input from people who actually use the strollers BEFORE putting it on the market.  And make sure the person testing it, tests it in ALL infant/toddler positions prior to marketing this product. … It would make life so much easier when it’s designed with the average person in mind, not just the 6ft tall model mom who jogs twice a day…

Ok, maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t video-editing software be as simple and user-friendly as photo-editing software? 

I’ve been trying all afternoon/evening to download video clips, grab some frames for a photo book, and create a DVD or few. … sounds easy, right? Shouldn’t take more than 3-4hrs?  UGH!  What a bloody process!

First of all, I have the Canon HG-10.. Not the video cam i wanted, but at the time, it was the staff purchase discount that got my husband’s eye… (can we say you get what you pay for?)  It is supposed to be a good camera, no?  First of all, here’s what I don’t like about it… as i take a quick side-step for a moment..  It’s got horrible, horrible night video recording capabilities… I thought when we first got this, we could video the kids trick or treating for the first time in the neighborhood we had just moved to… this was a few yrs ago… oh no, that wasn’t happening… the video feed is very slow in night movies…  so what was the point of this video cam again??  …   Secondly, until you actually read the manual, we didn’t know you needed a SEPARATE mini-card to actually record still-photos.  Dumb, no?  I mean, if you advertise your product to have still-photo capabilities, maybe you should make sure the sales staff let you know that you need the extra card–it’s extra commission $$$ for them if they get you to buy this photo card anyways.  …  so not only was i terribly disappointed in the night shooting… I am terribly disappointed in the lack of product knowledge at the time for this video cam…  the whole special staff purchase price shouldn’t be your only factor for picking a video cam… but try telling that to the persimonius (sp?)  husband…

Now, back to the video editing software. … I’m thinking you can just connect this baby to the computer via USB cable and download the files. … shouldn’t it be that simple??  OH, but no it’s not.. Microsoft Windows Media Player doesn’t recognize the video format (MTS ) that Canon is using for their product…  I’m not a huge micrsoft fan to begin with, so there’s another reason to diss them. …   

So Roxio Creator… they have a decent quick photo-editing program that I use from time to time when I don’t feel like going into the detail of Corel …   But their video-editing???   A bit less than so-so. .. My video feeds had serious delays when you “playback” the MTS files.. ((at least this program accepts MTS files))… terribly annoying when you need to see the video in real-time to catch the frame you want to grab for a still photo.  The import time is terribly slow–it took  something like 90mins to download 44 video clips that ranged in time from 30sec to 15/20mins. . Yes, i get that it’s a lot of MB of space that needs to be transferred, but it shouldn’t take THAT long to do it. 

Then I remembered I had this Pinnacle Studio 12 program I could download onto the laptop. .. it’s a more professional – style video editing program. … Cool, right?  Download time is faster… takes MTS files… you can add music.. grab frames for still-photos.. all the bells and whistles.. EXCEPT it has one “little” problem…The files don’t speak to each other.  Meaning?  I think some are speaking French while the others are speaking English. … Even though I made sure all the downloaded files and add-ons were on the same drive, I ran into problems 15mins into the use of this program.. and remembered why I hated it in the first place…  It freezes because for some bizarre reason, even after downloading the updates….  BUT I did get the chance to see that my dear darling persimonius husband decided to try recording still-photo mode when he needed to record in movie mode. …  UGH.. .makes my project a lot more difficult to sort out. …   you get the still photo, but the continuous voice feed.. grumble grumble grrr. …

So, three different video-editing programs, and three strikes… guess that means I’m out and the next batter is up to the plate.  Now  I have to find a good, proper, video-editing program that will take the stupid files Canon decided to format their video in. … AND do so in a user-friendly manner.   Will let you know when i find one that actually works like it should….

I mentioned in a prior post that I was going to try this organic sunscreen by Soleo Organics.  Well, I got this great little travel-sized tube complete with the key ring clip.  Great for clipping to your belt loop, purse strap, key ring, whatever.  So how did it go??

LOVE IT!!  A little goes a long way.  I put some on the boys in the morning before summer session, as they go outside quite often on the nicer days.  In the afternoon, I meant to reapply, but didn’t, and they were outside for a good 2hrs that afternoon.  NO BURN!  I’m so impressed.  If either of the two are going to burn, it’ll be my little blondie (the 2nd born).  He didn’t even get the slightest pinkness.   Which is awesome, since he just got over a burn from that weekend on his upper arms and slight on his front thighs.   AND, I put some on our #3 son, who is also fair-haired

The best part? I know that this is a good product.  It isn’t going to seep into my children’s skin and cause changes in their DNA (unlike the majority of sunscreens, and make up for that matter, with nano-sized zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide)… it doesn’t have Vitamin A or it’s derivatives–which actually do more damage to the skin once it is exposed to the sun… it doesn’t have toxic benezone (or whatever it’s called) or any of it’s chemical relatives that increase the risk of skin cancer.  .. Just plant oils and micronized zinc.   This is how it SHOULD be.  Especially if you aren’t a big eater of the antioxidant fruits. 

As for me?  I’m still testing the antioxidant theory.  So far, so good. …  I was out in the sun for an hour this afternoon mowing lawn; nothin’ to say but tan. …  So, I’m starting to think that this whole eat your antioxidant-rich foods theory is quite true.  Not that I don’t trust the Health Ranger–he’s got some amazing info on health issues–but I’m a skeptic by nature, as most of us are.   So YAY…Chalk one up for Mr Adams — he seems totally bang-on with high antixodant intake = natural sunscreen.

Now, I must admit, my normal due diligence in product label reading was slack the day I bought this aloe vera gel.  We were going away for the weekend, and i knew one of us would get burned to some degree.  I saw the whole 99% certified organic ingredients seal on the front, and thought–cool, something good for me.

Well, now this is why I emphasize READ THE INGREDIENTS ON THE LABEL.  I was looking out of curiosity at some of the ingredients on the label.  The ONLY certified organic ingredient? Aloe Vera.  The rest of the ingredients?  Let me list them for you: PEG 33, PEG 8, PEG 14, Acrylates C10-20 Alkyl Acrylate cross-polymer, Disodium EDTA,  Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, soduim hydroxide.  Now, this doesn’t sound all that organic, now does it?   What exactly do these other nasty chemicals mean??

All the PEG groups are cancer-causing agents with 1,4 dioxane.  Disodium EDTA is a toxic chemical that is used in products to get the product to penetrate the skin.  Phenoyxethanol (as in 2-phenoxyethanol) is a chemical that comes with the warning harmful if swallowed and may cause reproductive  defects.  Sodium hydroxide?  LYE, the same lye you use to clean the drains.  The other two chemicals I haven’t found too much bad on…but still, Glycol in general is a 1,4 dioxane laced additive, so Im guessing that caprylyl glycol can’t be all that good for you.  As for Acrylates?  Not sure on that one either… I only found it as a non-harmful ingredient with EWGs site… but i still wouldn’t trust a chemical I can’t find a lot of info on, other than it is contained in all kinds of different products. 

So, Lily of the Desert, you organic scammer you, I just wasted i don’t know how much on this product only to find that it has cancer-causing agents in it… not so organic, now is it?  Again, this goes back to the old “buyer beware” saying.  So many companies are jumping on the “organic” and “natural” market, it’s hard to find a product that is what it says it is…  My bad for not looking for the USDA cert organic seal.  This seal guarantees that there are no cancer-causing agents in the product.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love this product…but it has it’s limitations. 

Orange TKO was created by a retired Canadian Environmental Lawyer who was looking to find an alternative to today’s conventional cleaners.  Something that is truly an all-purpose cleaner, but concentrated so you can dilute only the amount you need, therefore, very little goes to waste.  So he did his research and created Orange TKO, which has orange peel and a natural chemical called, limonene, I believe it is, which is found in citrusy type fruits such as lemons.  And because it’s biodegradable and totally easy on the earth, you can wash your car with it and not feel guilty that it’s going into the fish habitat drain.

So, this brings me to my review.  Now, I was a skeptic, but open-minded about such an all-purpose product and how well it will actually clean.  Let me tell ya, this stuff does wonders on your car, and especially the brake dust on the rims.  My main purpose, though, was to find a truly remarkable stain-remover for my laundry.  Let’s face it, washing clothes 2,3,4x to get out the same stupid stain is terribly frustrating, and this stain has already been sprayed with stuff like spray n wash, baby oxy clean, shout, and I don’t remember how many other brands.  What is this stain?  It’s just from using liquid soap in the laundry-and yes, i do mix the liquid soap into the water prior to putting in my clothes. …   and various grease/baby formula stains on the rest of the clothes in the house… and all that dirt/grass stains from having a house full of boys.  =)  

So, back to my laundering. … I was anxious to try this for laundry stains… and I admit I am extremely disappointed.  I used Orange TKO in 2 different concentrations–a light mix as well as a heavy mix.  Neither worked on these basic stains.  I was still having to re-wash those shirts that have formula spilled on them, and the shirts with grease spots (not mechanic type grease, more like potato chip grease), and the shirts with liquid soap stains that you actually have to use stain remover to remove (how dumb, no?).  A terribly inefficient way to do laundry, for sure.  Nothin’ makes a mom more frustrated than having to wash, rewash, and rewash clothes that she needs to wear for the week.  GR…

So what would I use Orange TKO for?  It lists a ton of great uses on its website as well as its product label.  However, definitely most useful for grease.. .. I’ve seen the brilliance of my rims after an Orange TKO bath… better than new… and so I would recommend this for any mechanic to clean off the spark plugs, clean off the brake pads, whatever else needs to be degreased.  This stuff is so NOT hazardous, it’s great!  AND it will leave your shop smelling citrusy clean =)  

As for around the house?  Although I do love the citrus smell of Orange TKO, it can be a bit overpowering even in weak dilutions.   If you hate the smell of oranges, you definitely would not like this product.  I haven’t used it for cleaning floors, windows, mirrors, or anything like that so I can’t honestly tell you how effective it is in those respects.  I’ll  have to just try it and save that for an update later.

Oooh the stuff you would find in a can of formula….and most, if not all, chemically created.  This is why it is sooo important that a mom breast-feed her child–or just pump it if you would rather bottle feed (I mixed–a bit of breastmilk fresh, some pumped for storage when I felt like going out for the day).

Baby formula is so not healthy, it’s not funny.  I’ll give you an example: Alsoy 2 infant formula.  Now, I hate using any other brand outside Baby Organics, but I cave as I don’t always feel like paying import fees, and I don’t get the the US often enough to avoid them.  So the first 5 ingredients in Alsoy 2??  1) corn maltodextrin — a refined carb that has a high glycemic index, it’s a sweetener;  2) soy protein isolate – toxic chemical hexane used to process the soy to make the soy protein.. not to mention that ove 90% of soy in the US is genetically engineered, again, bad for you.  (hexane will be explained shortly)   3) sucrose – refined Sugar    4) palm olein –a trans-fat alternative, also associated with hexane extraction process   5) soybean oil – again, hexane extraction process .  So what we have, based on the first 5 ingredients, is a whole lot of chemical crap spiked with sugar to make it taste good.  What really bothers me the most, is that this is for INFANTS????   You are giving your child a whole whack of chemicals laced with sweeteners to hide the badness, and some vitamins/minerals mixed in? ??   And people wonder why there is such a high incidence of children’s diabetes and obesity?  They are given nasty fake milk to supplement/replace healthy mother’s milk. …

So, my favorite formula is BABY’S ONLY ORGANIC brand.   Their formula is NOT made with hexane extraction processes; does not contain the hexane extracted “Life’s DHA” that most formulas contain; and comes in both milk, lactose-free, and soy versions…..and is organic.   A formula that is actually good for baby, well, of course nothing beats breast milk, but this would come a whole lot closer than Isomil, Enfamil, Similac, Nestle, etc. …   The only down side is that the formula in Baby’s Only Organic comes in cans half the size of the conventional shelf size.  BUT when you pay $10 and change / can… 2 cans / wk on average.. you’re still only paying $20US/week in formula. … Which is pretty good for a good quality organic brand. You can find this brand in organic food markets across the country, but not in every market.  You’ll have to search the website  to find the nearest location to you.  Also, they have amazing products for kids (vitamin shake type stuff, DHA, electrolytes, to name a few).  Again, you’ll have to check out their site to see all of their products, but they are primarily an infant formula company.

Now, if you’re into goats milk, which is definitely way better for you than cow’s milk, there is a company called Genesis Organics that sells goat-milk based formula. is their website.  I personallly haven’t checked them out–I didn’t realize they existed until I was doing some basic research for this blog.  However, definitely another alternative to cow’s milk formulas.   Especially considering that cow’s milk is laced with antibiotics and such, then all the good stuff is zapped out during homogenization and pasteurization..but that’s another blog =)  A great alternative as goat’s milk is remarkably similar to human breastmilk, without all the nastiness of cow’s milk.  So definitely worth checking in to!

So, next time you pick up that can of formula, you know the big-name brands, check the ingredients. . I bet it has sugar, or some form of sweetener in it.  I’ve even seen sucralose in infant formulas!  UGH!  Profit definitely takes precedence over human health on all spectrums.  

Products such as Pedialyte, and generic infant electrolytes, contain sucralose, aspertame, or both. … so poisoning your child who is already sick is a good thing??   Ei-yi-yi …  what a messed up world we live in, hey?

Men, I’m sorry, but we ladies HATE shaving.  That winter fur?  Our way of protesting having to shave every week (or more often if you razor) during the summer just to have beautiful tan legs….  This brings me to my favorite shaving product: Smooth Away.

Now I used to use the Veet cream, but it only works if you’ve been growing some insulation during the winter months.  It doesn’t work so well when you need to shave every 3-5days… and it smells awful, no matter how much fragrance they put into it.  I would use Veet, because I absolutely HATE razors, but would still find myself having to razor afterwards.  Talk about waste of money. 

Then I saw the commercials for Smooth Away.  I’m thinkin – there’s no way on earth that shaving can be painless and effective, both at the same time.  BUT, getting tired of razoring over my knee caps 5x and still seeing all those lovely stray hairs (not to mention the streak on the shin bone that  I know I razored over 3x), I decided it was time for some seriously new way of thinking.  What’s to lose?  $20?  I spend that on razor blades, alone, each month so why not. 

Let me tell you, I am completely impressed.  Not only does it actually work, and in roughly the same time it takes to use the creams, but talk about baby smooth legs. My legs, and I’ve been using Smooth Away for 3-4 mths, are baby bottom smooth.  This product does exactly as the commercial says–exfoliates the skin while painlessly shaving.  I have crazy skin.  I was always fighting ingrown hairs with the razor and cream.  Now?  It’s very rare I get ingrown hair on my legs.  This is an awesome product!  AND I only have to shave once a week. … seriously! … so that $20 investment has been a great buy for me, personally.

Now i’m not talking about being “juiced”, as my brother would say pertaining to the weight lifting circuit, but a fabulous way to get your vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — freshly processed juice.  No killing of the good stuff via pasteurization and homogenization.  Just pure, wholesome, organic goodness.

My juicer?  The ever-impressive and soooo user-friendly HUROM juicer.  This will set you back about $360US, but your kids will love it.   If you have kids who are terribly picky about fruit–this is perfect.  They choose their favorite fruits, combine them (or not), and with adult supervision, of course, they get to create their very own concoction of wholesome goodness.

I used to spend, easily, $30 a week on juice alone, nevermind the usual stock of fruits and veggies.  That adds up, and it’s really hard to find juice on the shelf that is actually good for you, as I believe all juices on the store shelves are pasteurized, killing all the stuff in the juice that is good for you.  Now?? I spend $50 a week on fresh fruit and vegetables… and let the juicer do the talking.  The juice you get from this juicer in particular is simply divine!  You will have a very hard time going back to store-bought, trust me on this one.    I have only been using the Hurom for 2mths, and that’s … roughly $240 saved on store-bought juice.  The juicer is darn near paid for in those savings alone. 

The great thing about my Hurom?  It is not only one of the top-rated juicers on the market, but it’s so safe to use and easy to clean.  Why is it rated so high?  Because it extracts the most nutrients from the fruit, and with minimal fruit necessary.  I’ll give you an example.  I buy 6-8  Texas grapefruit from a local market each week for my husband.  These make 6c of fresh grapefruit juice–a little more depending upon the size of the grapefruit.  Sometimes I mix in an orange for a little extra Vit C…. and keep the pitcher in the fridge for him for the week.   He takes some to work with him in the mornings to drink with his morning snack–muffin, banana, whatever he picks up along the way because I didn’t feel like baking in the morning. =) 

For myself and my 16mth old?  Strawberries, some frozen cranberries (thawed), sometimes a handful of raspberries or blackberries for that extra kick, and kiwi.  (Strawberries and kiwi, btw, are just loaded with nutrients on their own.  A serious juicing powerhouse together.)  Usually a 2lb clamshell, 1 kiwi, and the rest of the ingredients makes us 2-3c of juice (more like fruit smoothie) which lasts us 3 days or so, depending upon how much of it I drink during the week.  He absolutely loves the strawberry juice, and its so good for you, how can you say no?

My boys?  They mix and match fruit to suit their weekly flow of creativity.  Sometimes its pears, apples, blackberries… sometimes its strawberries and watermelon… sometimes its something crazy like a slice of lemon, cherries, and raspberries. …  but my rule is if they make it, they have to drink it whether they like it or not. .. And if they don’t like it, they’ll know what NOT to mix together next time.  So, for them it’s a really cool thing because they get to put in the fruit and watch as the juice and pulp get separated into their respective containers.. and help the pulp out if its thick.

Another great thing about having a really good quality juicer?  You can use the leftover pulp for making jams/jellies, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and ice cream sauce.  So depending upon the fruit you use, there will be little to no leftovers.  How great is that in a world where we are becoming so aware of the damage we’ve done as a race?

So, there you have it!   My total THUMBS UP recommendation for a high-quality juicer is the HUROM. … How did I get hooked on Hurom?  …  I researched on … I asked my tenant about the juicer she uses–which is, and I’m probably getting this wrong, the Green Star…something like that.  You can actually find a YouTube video by the RawFood World founders that compares these two high-end models.  The quality of juice is the same, but the Hurom is so much more user-friendly, and counter-top friendly.

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