Updating Our Rec Room Decor with Pop Chart Lab

Last summer my husband and I bought our very first home!  Luckily for us it has a basement rec room which gives us a lot of extra space.  I wouldn’t call it “updated”, but certainly works great for what we use it for, and it has gotten a lot of use already.  We used it for Thanksgiving dinner and were able to fit 13 people, which would have been a pretty tight squeeze in our dining room.  We also had a Christmas potluck breakfast there for almost as many people.  But it gets the most use when my husband hosts weekly  “game nights” with his guy friends.  He loves hosting and with everyone’s lives being so busy, it is nice to be able to connect almost every week.

pop chart labs, poser, man cave

I always have the distinct urge to stick all the extra framed photos and art that won’t fit upstairs on the walls of the rec room.  However, my husband has vetoed that plan, and it makes sense that he should get the first pick since he and his friends use the room the most.  When I came across the posters from Pop Chart Lab, I knew I’d hit the jackpot.  There was bound to be something he would love.  They make graphic chart prints on a huge variety of topics, from beer to Beatles songs.  It is hard to describe the look of their charts, so I urge to to have a look yourself.  They also put some of their prints on houseware items (like coasters and cheese platters).  I think they combine art and information in a really unique way!

pop chart labs, poser, man cave

The majority of them would be an awesome addition to a “man cave” or rec room.  It was a tough choice, and I had my man make the final decision.  He decided on The Giant-Size Omnibus of Super Powers.  It looks great and has been a great conversation starter, too!

pop chart labs, poser, man cave

pop chart labs, poser, man cave

Pop Chart Lab has so many other great posters.  I love the look of this one, called the Nebula of NES Games.  To tell you the truth, I know nothing about Nintendo games, but it just looks awesome!

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They also have  prints that would fit in any room of the house. Various Varieties of Fruits would look great in a kitchen, and An Arrangement of Peonies would be nice in a bedroom.

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Here are a few more photos of the details in the rec room (aka the man cave).

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Book from a friend; whiskey from my husband’s grandfather’s collection

 

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Steins from my husband’s father

 

**I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here:  http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints-comics/products/the-giant-size-omnibus-of-superpowers **

Have You Heard of Fractionated Coconut Oil?

coconut oil

Even though I’ve been using coconut oil for beauty and cooking for many years, I had never heard of this type of coconut oil before I got the chance to try out the La Lune fractionated coconut oil.

So what is it, and how is it different from the regular coconut oil you might see elsewhere?  Basically, it’s coconut oil without any additives, smell, taste, or color.  Because it is refined, it is easier to wash out of clothes and linens.  Some of the fatty acids have been removed, so it has a longer shelf life than regular coconut oil does and it won’t go rancid.  La Lune naturals website describes it like this:

“Fractionated coconut oil is a fraction of the coconut oil from which almost all the long chain triglycerides are removed, thus leaving mainly the medium-chain triglycerides and making it an absolutely saturated oil…In addition, fractionating raises the comparative concentration of Capric acid and Caprylic acid, thus giving it more of antioxidant and disinfecting effect.”

fractionated coconut oil, la lune

So what can you use it for? It is the perfect carrier oil for essential oils, so it is great for massage therapy.  When I tried out my Avo Essentials Lavender Essential Oil I put it in regular coconut oil as a carrier.  This fractionated coconut oil actually might have been better to use if I’d had it then because it is non-greasy (won’t clog pores!) and would have let the essential oil’s scent shine more instead of mixing it with a coconut scent.

If you check out the pdf e-book from the La Lune website you can see tons of recipes on what to use it for.  I learned it can be used in a recipe to cure stretch marks or to make body scrubs.  It can be used as shaving cream, to remove eye makeup, as a hair mask and hair growth treatment.  You can also use it on your baby to cure cradle cap and baby acne.

The La Lune website doesn’t mention anything about ingesting it, but after a little research I found it can be used for culinary purposes.  Most people prefer using regular coconut oil in cooking though- because it is unrefined, it still has lauric acid, which has an extra antibacterial effect.  Regular coconut oil is also more readily available and generally a little less expensive, so that’s why it is more common for cooking while fractionated coconut oil is more common for cosmetics.  The main downsides to using this fractionated coconut oil are that it might be more expensive (depending on the brand) and you don’t get that extra power of the lauric acid.

I know some people who are very sensitive to the smell of coconut.  They can’t use regular coconut oil in cooking or on their skin because it reminds them of the taste of coconuts.  I think this fractionated coconut oil would be prefect for people who dislike coconut but still want to get all the benefits of coconut oil.  With so many uses, if you get it you’re bound to think of at least a few ways to use it!  I personally liked it for massage- next I’m going to try it as a hair mask!

** I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/b00u9hw5uc **

My First Yoga DVD: Vinyasa Prenatal Yoga

Yoga is my home.  When I’m on my mat, I feel as though no matter where I am, I am comfortable.  I love going to class at a studio and feeling that sense of community that comes with knowing that everyone is there to bring peace to their bodies and minds.

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The only issue I have is- actually making it to class!  When I moved from “out west” to “back east” almost two years ago, I noticed that the yoga classes here are much more expensive than what I am used to.  Also, getting motivated to put on your 4 layers of winter clothes, brush off the car, and take the extra time to make the drive to class in the elements can seem like more work than its worth.  I’ve never tried a yoga DVD before, but in light of all these obstacles I’ve been encountering getting to the studio, I thought now would be a great time to try out a guided practice in my own home.

Last weekend, I tried out my very first yoga DVD: Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Workout with Julie.  I know that vinyasa can be invigorating and challenging- pretty different from my usual slow, gentle practice.  However, my chiropractor pointed out to me that since flexibility comes easily to me, I need to work on strengthening in my muscles more.   I decided that challenging myself through this yoga DVD would be a good way to start gaining that strength.

Just as a disclaimer, I’m not pregnant at the moment.  But in anticipation of becoming pregnant whenever the universe decides it is time (I am ready, universe!), I booted up this DVD.  The DVD is 60 minutes long, and is broken down into an intro meditation, active poses, and relaxing restorative poses to close.

 

aPros:

  • I felt the modifications the instructor (Julie) gives are great for pregnancy.  It was interesting to me to see how she changed things up to keep the instruction safe for mama and baby.
  • The meditation in the beginning is a nice way for mamas to connect with their babies.
  • This yoga DVD works for any trimester, and can be used after the baby is born too.
  • I loved the restorative portion of the DVD, which was very relaxing.
  • Even though the entire yoga workout lasts 60 minutes, the time flies by while you’re doing it!
  • I thought it was pretty fun!

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • I wouldn’t recommend this yoga DVD for women who have never practiced yoga before or who have only had a few sessions in the studio.  Julie moves quickly and mentions the names of poses without going into tons of detail about how to align yourself correctly.  I have been practicing for many years, so for me the pace was fine, but I can see how others would want it slowed down a bit with more details.
  • I’m used to a big focus on breathing, and this DVD focuses more on connection with baby.  You’ll  have to remember to breathe deeply, inhaling and exhaling throughout all the poses.
  •  They don’t mention the props you might need until they’re already setting up for the pose.  I made do with one big towel (which I used as a bolster, block, and blanket, but you might need 2-3 blankets, 2 blocks, 1 strap, 1 bolster/cushion, and a chair (you’ll need more props the further along you are).  Julie does give ideas for what to use in place for these things if you don’t own them (ie. a dog leash in place of a strap).

In the end, I was glad I got this DVD and followed along from my living room.  I think it is a great idea for the winter, or other times when you can’t get to the studio.

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**I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here: http://www.amazon.com/prenatal-vinyasa-workout-julie-schoen/dp/b00lv40mpc/ **

My Konjac Sponge (Facial Sponge Review)


I’m always on the lookout for new natural and organic bath and beauty products, so the My Konjac Sponge Bamboo Charcoal Facial Sponge seemed worth a try to me.

I hadn’t heard of this type of facial sponge before.  The konjac sponge is actually made of a natural material and originated in Japan, where it has been used for 1000+ years.  It is made of the fibers of a type of potato/yam plant, which has vitamins and minerals in it too.  This konjac sponge is made of 100% vegan food grade plant materials and filtered water- so it is compostable!  I got the Bamboo Charcoal variety of the sponge, which is for removing acne and extra oils on the skin.  My Konjac also has 8 other varieties of the sponge, which can help with dry skin, sensitive skin, or can be used on the whole body or for babies…
my konjac sponge package

 

 

This brand of konjac sponge is nice because there are no preservatives, coloring,  or chemicals used in the process of creating them.  In fact, the sponge works so that you don’t even have to use any cleanser or other products with it (but if you do, use less than the regular amount because it will foam up!).

hanging konjac sponge

 

When I tried it, I couldn’t believe how soft it is!  I tried to capture it in a picture but found there is no way to do that- it always looks like a pumice stone in the photos.  But it is far from it!  I have never felt a sponge that is so soft.  Though it felt delicate, it stood up to multiple washings (the package says to replace it every 3 months).  It is good at exfoliating, but it is very gentle so I think it’d be perfect for anyone with sensitive skin.  It left my skin feeling clean and smooth, and quick and easy to use before bedtime.  I would love to try the large size to use on my whole body!  So far I’m loving it- I will have to see after a few weeks if I notice any improvements in my skin!

konjac sponge closeup bw

 

**I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B1M0XCG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1**

Tea Giveaway: Relaxing “Tea Gift Set”

I’ll admit it:  I’m a tea addict.  There are not many types of teas that I dislike, but I love so many that I could not possibly list them all here!  Black, green, rooibos, herbal, white…I love them all! I especially like trying out new teas.  So in appreciation of tea lovers everywhere, I’m bringing you a chance to enter to win this awesome relaxing tea gift set.  This tea giveaway has a few of my favorite teas and tea accessories for you to try.

Tea Gift Set Giveaway

The person who wins this tea giveaway will receive all the following items…

  • 1 Black and White Tea Wallet:
    • The tea wallet is the most popular handmade item from the Two Bees Creations shop on Etsy.  It holds your favorite tea bags so they won’t get crunched in the bottom of your purse or bookbag. It comes pre-loaded with 4 assorted teas for you to try.
  • 1 Strawberry Tea Infuser:
    • This cute loose leaf tea holder works well with the rooibos included in this giveaway, since it is for coarse-grained teas.  I love its bright colors!
  • Celestial Seasonings Fruit Tea Sampler Box:
    • This box has 5 of their most popular herbal teas so you can decide on which you like best.  I love this brand because it is easy to find in most stores when you need a quick tea fix.  They also have a great variety.
  • 2 Mini-Tins of Richmond Tea:
    • Each of these adorable UK-themed mini-tins has loose leaf black tea from England.  Great if you love a classic vibe in a tea.
  • 1 oz Rainbow Rooibos:
    • This package of tea is from my favorite local tea shop in my area, TeaLeafs in Williamsville, NY.  If you ever visit the Western New York area, I suggest stopping by their store.  Luckily for you, if you aren’t planning a trip here soon you can buy from them online as well!

Check out the images below to see all the goodies you could win in this tea giveaway. Good luck!

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Tea Giveaway Strawberry Infuser

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Review: Dead Sea Mud Mask


I was happy when I got a chance to try the Dead Sea Mud Mask because I love natural products. This mud mask is a detoxifying and rejuvenating mask.  It’s only ingredients are dead sea mud and grapeseed oil, so it is truly natural and pure.

When I opened it up, it lived up to its name! It looks like pure, cool mud. The smell is luckily not unpleasant like mud- it smelled earthy, but it didn’t have a smell at all while putting it on.  I thought it looked a little bit like chocolate mousse…

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Review: Natural Hot Chocolate K-Cups from Black Bear Market

Have you ever tried hot chocolate k-cups?  When I bought my Keurig brewer, it came with some regular and dark hot chocolate k-cups.  They were sickeningly sweet!  My family just couldn’t drink them.  On looking at their ingredients, I saw they were full of chemical additives and artificial colors and flavors.  When I found out that Black Bear Market’s hot chocolate was all-natural, I had to try it out myself.

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To give you some background info, Black Bear Market is a family owned and run business.  You’re supporting an American small business when you order from them…

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Food & Fun in Toronto

One of my favorite places to visit is Toronto, Ontario.  I’m lucky that its only about two hours away, because it is an awesome multi-cultural city!  My husband and I went there recently, mainly to see the Medieval Times Tournament.  We stayed overnight in a condo right in the middle of the downtown area that we found on Air B&B.  If you haven’t heard of Air B&B, it is a great website that connects travelers with people who are looking to rent out all or part of their homes.  Usually people rent out the homes they live in, but this time we found someone who rents out a condo he owns but doesn’t live in.  We got a great deal and parking was included (if you’ve ever driven in a big city you know how much parking can end up adding to your budget!).  Each person has a profile on airbnb.com and has reviews of the times they’ve stayed or hosted- here is mine!

This was a pretty quick trip for us.  We got on the highway at 10am and arrived just in time to have lunch, so we headed straight to Kensington Market.  It’s not a market like you’d usually think of one- it is a neighborhood with lots of unique shops and places to eat.  We always go to the same place in Toronto to get tacos al pastor- this type of taco is hard to find in regular Mexican restaurants!  However, I’ve been wanting to go to this grilled cheese place too (aptly named The Grilled Cheese).  I had the great idea to split a grilled cheese, walk around Kensington Market, and then to get tacos for part two of lunch.  When we make foods for ourselves at home, we try to keep it organic and healthy…but on vacation we go all out!

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Gooey cheese & bacon deliciousness
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Sandwich from The Grilled Cheese
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Tacos Al Pastor
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Those are pineapple bits in there!
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Churro for Dessert

While on our walk, we went by the most amazing murals that were done by a neighboring school in Toronto…

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Bella Organics Vanilla Mint Deodorant Creme GIVEAWAY

Enter the giveaway up here; read the review for this product below!  One winner will receive the larger 2 oz size of the Vanilla Mint Deodorant.

giveaway, bella organics, natural deodorant creme

Bella Organics Vanilla Mint Deodorant Creme Giveaway!

I am always looking for a more natural deodorant, but it is tough to find one that really works.  So I was pretty stoked when  Bella Organics Vanilla Mint Deodorant Creme arrived in my mailbox.  When I opened up the package there was a nice insert that gave me the lowdown on switching to natural deodorant from my regular old antiperspirant.  I was happy they included the insert because I learned a lot!

According to Bella Organics, if you switch to a natural deodorant it can take 4-15 days for your body to detox.  During this time it might seem like the new stuff is not working, but it’s just because your old anti-antiperspirant worked by prohibiting natural sweat gland function.  The non-natural kind blocks up your pores and shrinks them too, using aluminum, which new research has shown to be linked to diseases like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.  Just think about all the toxins that are trying to get out when we sweat!  I’d certainly want that stuff to leave my body the way it was designed to and not get blocked inside.  When you think about it, our bodies really know what they’re doing before we get in the way with chemicals.  Be that as it may- I still don’t want to be smelly!  So that’s where this deodorant comes in.

giveaway, bella organics, vanilla mint, deodorant creme, sample size

In order to speed up the detox process, Bella Organics suggests you exfoliate your underarms and use a gentle soap on them in the shower.  They also suggest wearing natural fibers so your underarms can breathe, and eating a healthy diet that is low in processed foods.

Armed (hah!) with all this information, I’m starting up a new plan to detox from my big-brand-name antiperspirant to this natural creme one.  I’m thinking now is the time to detox, while it is still chilly out and I’m not sweating a ton.

My thoughts on Bella Organics Vanilla Mint Deodorant so far?  I really like the consistency (it’s cream, so you put it on the same way you would any kind of lotion).  The smell is really nice- not too perfumey and not too sweet.  It seems like the right scent for a deodorant, and they do have other scents you can sample in the .25 oz size.  I really like the ingredients, which are all natural.  No synthetic ingredients or chemically-made scents at all.  In terms of the smell control: so far, so good!  I’ll be watching to see how it goes when the detox period ends!

giveaways, bella organics deodorant cream

Bella Organics was nice enough to give me a full size Vanilla Mint Deodorant Creme to give away to one of my readers!  See the entry form at the top of this page to enter the giveaway (giveaway open for entries March 30-April 20, 2015). Good luck!

**I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here**

See this giveaway promoted here: Sweepstakes at Sweepstakes-Search.com

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Review: Avo Essentials Pure Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is one of the most widely used essential oils, and for good reason.  The sweet scent is universally pleasing, and it also has tons of therapeutic uses.  I was excited when I got a chance to try out Avo Essentials Pure Lavender Oil.  Did you know lavender has been used for over 2,500 years?  In ancient times, it was used for skin purification, as a disinfectant, a deodorant, a perfume, and even as a protective amulet against the black death.  Its history led to many modern uses: promoting relaxation, relieving anxiety, and helping with insomnia (among many others!).

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When I got this bottle, I used 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil and 10 drops of lavender oil to make a massage oil (see it in the orange bowl below?).  I was the one giving the massage, and it almost put me to sleep!  It was very relaxing, and I liked the smell of it mixed with the coconut.  If you want more of the pure lavender smell to come through, I suggest using a more neutral oil like safflower oil.

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What I liked about this product in particular:

  • The size of this bottle is extra big, which means you get more from your money.  I’ve never heard of essential oils going bad, so you will be able to use this bottle up eventually depending on how often you use it.
  • It comes with a glass dropper for precise measurements and a regular lid for storage.
  • The oil is very high quality and pure.  Its vegan, non-synthetic, and very potent (so never apply it directly- always dilute it!).
  • The lavender used to make this oil is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, so you can feel confident using it if you use mostly organic products like I do.

Next, I’m going to put a dropperful of this oil in my bath before bedtime and relax with a cup of tea!

**I received this product in exchange for writing an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.  For more reviews or to buy, see the product here.**