Monday, January 16, 2017

BYOU Magazine - The Long and Short of the tween magazine - A Review

(I was given a pdf. copy of this magazine to review and will receive a subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.)

I can honestly say that I have been looking for a magazine that would be appropriate for my young teen daughter. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I was approached to review just that, a tween magazine. It's called BYOU.  In other words: Be You.

https://www.byoumagazine.com/

The Upshot: 

I liked the magazine overall (with a few reservations) and was glad to have the opportunity to talk with my daughter about things that are very specific to our family and very specific to her.  There are so many good things to say about this magazine.  It's a magazine that helps a girl with her self esteem, helps her celebrate who she is exactly the way God made her (my words underlined) while at the same time, encouraging her to be better, to grow and mature.

The Longer Version: 

There is a caveat with this review.  Any of you who know me IRL will not be surprised what is about to come next.  The magazine has of course, a non-Christian world view. It doesn't claim to be anything else. In fact, I would assume that they would be proud to proclaim to be very worldly.  So, I didn't expect anything different.
I mention it bc I strive to make sure that my children are surrounded with things that support our Christian worldview.  Having said that, there are some things that do not have a Christian worldview that we do allow in our family. But one must be vigilant for their children's sake. Every family must make those choices for themselves.  Perhaps this review will give you the opportunity to decide if this magazine falls into line with the things you are allowing for your children.


Kudos:
*Themes: accepting and honoring your body and not comparing yourself  (whether you body, your talents or material things) with others.
* Unique tips to relieve stress and to develop good sleeping habits.
*Suggestions like drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.  Great advice that back up what I am always reminding my kids everyday:  DRINK YOUR WATER, KID!
*Child/teen celebrity blurbs that give advice and encouraged readers to be unique, not worry about what others think of you and making good food choices.
 *The magazine was not a flimsy 11 or 16 pages like many magazines geared toward kids.  It had a total of 48 pages.  To me, that's pretty good for a kids magazine, even if it is bimonthly.
*I appreciated the featured articles of Ella Anderson (actress) and Rachel Parent (teen activist) that have taken it upon themselves to make a difference through making healthy beauty products and getting the word out about GMO'd food, respectively.  Pretty cool.
* The approach to using essential oils and regular grocery store food (ACV, coconut oil, baking soda and sea salt, to name a few) as cures for common ailments and body treatments. There were even recipes, so readers can try them out for themselves. Very cool.

My favorite part?  The pages that featured readers and their advice, their favorite things and what they feel makes them unique.  Sometimes they even spoke about their own struggles, so that other readers can relate to them.  And the readers were a diverse group of kids.

What I didn't like so much:
*A lot of talk of self love, being a "goddess" and intuition. Now, I believe in woman's intuition, to an extent, but this particular issue had some buzz words (seemingly harmless) that can lead one further into the New Age movement. I like to think of my daughter as a princess, but a "goddess?"  Well, that takes things to a higher level. Though the word is used casually and not literally, there is a danger in often being exposed to that kind of thinking: we begin to believe it.
The quiz, "How Intuitive Are You?" and "Developing Your Intuition" was very zen-like as was the Mandala coloring page, though of course no idols were featured  (A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe.
 You can read more about that by clicking here.)

My advice: be very, very careful.

*It also struck me that the magazine had a theme of kind of praising the creation (the person we were made to be) as the ultimate object to be praised. It also advocated being your own authority.  Now, girls do need to set boundaries, know who they are and would like to become, be aware of  their own limitations and overcoming them if necessary. However, children need a firm foundation of beliefs and values.  Those don't just come naturally.  If you aren't guiding your children in beliefs and values, the world is definitely doing that for you.  That is a scary and dangerous proposition.We cannot successfully be our own authority, especially in spiritual matters and it just made me wonder how future magazines would handle this important issue.

For our family, the Bible is our ultimate Authority, not ourselves.  This magazine does not support that very important conviction. Obviously, this is not shocking as this is not a Christian publication; just something to be aware of when reading.  It did give me a chance to talk to my daughter on her level with the things that she is interested in.  It wasn't just Mom "lecturing" her again.  It gave us an avenue to start some very good discussions on why we believe what we believe and some things to be careful about as we filter what we take in from the world through our Christian worldview.

The article "How to have a Clear Mind" had good advice, but the title sure threw me for a loop.  Those are words often chosen to open oneself to the spirit world.  If you have rolled your eyes at that statement, you may have swallowed this thinking yourself; we certainly have been conditioned for at least four decades to accept this as normal and okay.  As Christians we are to fill our mind with the things of Christ, not empty our minds.  The article, thankfully, actually contained advice like being prepared, making new friends, enjoying the outdoors and cleaning your room.  All of that is great.  But like I said, the wording in the title is setting up kids for New Age methodology and ideology.  It has made me think twice about how much of the magazine I will allow my daughter to read.  We probably will read some of each issue together so that we can talk about what to watch out for, what is good about the advice, my own opinions and what the Bible has to say about what we have read.  Some of it will be set aside as not appropriate for our family.

As parents, we need to be vigilant for our children. I probably don't need to remind you of that, but I am anyway:  BE VIGILANT!

So, there you have it: the long and the short version of my take on the magazine BYOU.  I do hope you will check it out for yourself and make your own decision as to whether or not this magazine is right for your family.

Stay tuned because next time I will give you my daughter's take on the magazine. Hope you come back for that.

Counting it all joy,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Is Jessie Steele Really Bringing "Happy Home?" - A Review

(I was given the apron and cocktail napkins in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.)


Well, the holidays are here. And with that in mind, I wanted to share with you a fun company with some pretty beautiful products. Introducing . . . .


The Jessie Steele company is looking
to raise awareness for the nostalgia
that holiday meals bring to family lives.

They proudly grow their company guided by
The values that their company was founded on:
Celebration
Femininity
Style
Happiness


The company sells aprons (including salon aprons and aprons for men), oven mitts, towels and other kitchen textiles, bags that range from tote bags to cosmetic bags, and accessories like headbands and shower caps. You can even shop by print, if you are looking to match colors or themes like cherries, nautical or vintage prints. As a side note, the clearance items are very economical. The aprons range in price from $11.99 (a clearance price) to 39.99. The cocktail napkins range from $5.99 (a clearance price) to $14.99.


I was happy to agree to participate in their offer to try out two of their products: cocktail napkins and a gorgeous little apron. This is The Affectionate One modeling the Cream and Black Polka Dot Josephine Apron. It retails at $30.99. She is just under five foot, so it's a little long. But it's still cute on her. I guess the ruffle is actually supposed to fit up higher upon the hips. Which would nicely accentuate nearly any figure.


You may notice the adorable bow, in the above photo, and the monogram on the pocket there in the picture on the left. It's so fun that Jessie Steele thinks of these touches. The bow even detaches by a small safety pin inside the pocket for when it comes time to wash the apron.

 I did find some things that made an unfortunate impression, however. There are a couple places where the stitching is sloppy (where the neck straps are sewn to the top of the apron) and the other of those places the stitching of the hem actually pulls the material above it into the hem.


I also wished pieces of the ruffled bottom, a sophosticated scalloped cut, had been more carefully planned as to meet the polka dots on the other pieces. It is a small detail, but for the price of these aprons, it would be worth the few extra minutes and material it would take. Here are a couple of photos to show what I mean. Perhaps there was a conscious decision to not match up the polka dots in an effort to add to the ruffled look. I am certainly willing to believe that to be the case.

In spite of these details, I loved the apron so much that I intend to give it as a gift, but in order to give a proper review, I needed to wash it to see how it came out. Wash it I did. And it came out just as one would expect from a 100% cotton garment. I did not catch my son before he threw it into the dryer with the other clothes in the load. It's supposed to be lined dried. Either way, it would need to be ironed. I know that because I did wash and line dry the cocktail napkins and they came out just as wrinkled as the apron when it came out of the apron. I personally am not in the habit of ironing aprons and napkins. Okay, let's be honest. I'm not into ironing -- At All. Just keeping it real.

Allow me to show you the photos I took of the cocktail napkins before and after washing and line drying.



Completely adorable, right? I love the colors. The gold dots do tend to stick together when taken out of the package, but I didn't mind that one bit. Once they were washed, this didn't happen again. Even the band around the napkins is cute with a flower and scalloped edges.




The stitching on the napkins were of the same quality on each corner of each napkin as the stitches on the apron. I am assuming it is difficult to hem corners since all four corners of all four napkins had the same look.

I still intend to give the apron as a gift. But the cocktail napkins, I just cannot part with. I love them too much. I know 'tis better to give than receive, especially in this season, but I am definitely keeping the napkins and proudly giving the apron -- right after I iron it, of course. ;)

Give yourself a treat and check out their site. The patterns of the material are beautiful. My favorite is the Watermelon Stripe Viola Apron. But the apron I was sent, is a very, very close second.


Counting it all joy,



Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Real Skinny on Skinny&Co -- a reveiw you don't wanna miss.

(Once again, I received Skinny&Co products to review. Thanks Skinny&Co! All opinions are my own.)


Here it is, dear reader, the long awaited Skinny&Co review that I teased you with at the beginning of the month. As soon as I was certain I would be able to participate in the campaign, I gave you a photo teaser and revealed that I would be posting a review. I was excited enough, that I didn't even wait to get the products in the mail before I started talking about it.


Then came the unboxing. I loved diving into the box -- was like Christmas! I decided that I would give the products a couple of weeks of testing before I wrote up my thoughts.


And then life happened.


I injured my back and sciatic nerve and was laid up for nearly a week and a half. Hurumph! How dare life throw me a curve and thwart my plans for sharing these products with you! Well, I am up and at 'em once again, though considerably slower now as I recover. This, however, did not keep me from using the products and thinking about the review.


Well, wait no longer. It's time.


I will give you the upshot right away: I have mixed feelings about this particular collection of products: some I love and some I really, really do not love. This took me completely by surprise. At the unboxing, I was ready to fall in love with each of the five products.

There are many great things about Skinny&Co. Here are a few:

Skinny & Co. coconut oil and coconut oil products are 100% natural:

● Cold Processed: cold-processed oil, not just cold pressed. They use a patent-pending Nutralock System and never heat the oil above 97 degrees. It's the only 100% raw, alkaline coconut oil on the planet. Other coconut oils are acidic, but Skinny & Co.’s alkaline oil registers between 7.3 and 7.8 pH.

● Five Ingredients or Fewer: all of their beauty products have five ingredients or less, are non-toxic and edible. *Why would you ever put something on your skin if you wouldn't put it in your body?

● 100% Raw, Alkaline: cold-processed from wild-harvested coconuts using a patent-pending Nutralock System. Never heated. Pure.

● From Tree to Table: no chemicals. No fillers. No Preservatives. Skinny coconuts are pesticide free and handpicked from the jungles of Vietnam.

● Health Benefits: Skinny only uses the highest quality ingredients to handcraft products that benefit your entire body. Non-toxic and edible.


Edible! That's how you know you are getting a great product. Would you eat your shampoo? Not a chance. Would you take a bite out of the bar of soap sitting on your shower shelf? Uh,uh. Not me. Not even close. But you can with Skinny&Co products.

Let's go through each product, one-by-one. Here is a reminder of what they looked like:



The straight coconut oil (top, left) is great. Tastes like pure, unadulterated coconut oil because it is. It does not have that smoky, nutty smell or taste that we have been snookered into thinking is pure coconut oil. It smells a little sweet to me. Dont' like the taste or smell of coconut oil? Don't worry, the smell and taste is light -- a teaspoon of this to fry a mess of veggies and you will never know it's there. It doesn't taste like you've shoved a stick of butter in your mouth, like other coconut oils I have tried. Don't get me wrong, I like my butter, but I don't eat it by itself. With Skinny&Co you can. And I have. If I could only buy one product from Skinny&Co, this would be in the running.

The Skinny &Co oil pulling oil is my least favorite. It is pictured bottom, far right n the photo above. I was the most disappointed with this product because I thought I would be the most delighted with this product at the unboxing. I love peppermint and the oil pulling product has peppermint oil infused. Smells good, but after I pulled with it, it left a funny, sharp after taste. I have oil pulled for nearly two years and can go 15 or 20 minutes. After 15 min of oil pulling, I wasn't sure I wanted to try it a second time. But I did and I only pulled for 5 minutes. Same, funky after taste. It is in fact, in the trash can as I write. I have chosen instead to pull with Skinny&Co straight coconut oil since and like that experience much, much better.


Whirling Dervish doing Mom a solid by posing with the Facial Oil.

The facial oil feels great as you smooth it on. It doesn't take long to absorb into the skin and I didn't have to wait to finish my regular make-up routine. I can even overlook the lavender smell. I detest lavender. I run from it. It makes me light-headed. But the facial oil absorbs quickly enough that the lavender smell doesn't last long. I have used it every day since. I love the way my face feels after I smooth it on. It's way better than any store bought moisturizer I have used. That is saying quite a bit since I tend to have the dry skin that comes with middle age. I also have parts of my face that are oily like a teenager's face. When I use Skinny&Co's facial oil, my skin feels like the dry spots and the oily spots have balanced out. Nice.

Next on the list is the sugar scrub (bottom, middle in the first photo). Smells good enough to eat. And I did, in fact, taste it. Tastes like gritty brown sugar. That may sound unpleasant, but it's not. Since I am not a fan of sugar scrubs in general, I would rather eat it than use it on my body. I just have never had much luck with any sugar scrubs feeling like they did much of anything. It feels like it would exfoliate well, but I couldn't truly feel a difference in my skin after using it. My shower smelled heavenly. Trying to clean my shower after using it, not so much. Perhaps, for those who find sugar scrubs worth using, the cleaning up afterward is not a big deal.


And now we come to the Body Butter.

The Affectionate One showing off the Body Butter.

You can see in the photo that after two weeks of showers, only half of the 2oz jar is gone. That is really saying something because I use the Body Butter liberally. Lavishly, even.  I love it, love it, love it.

The feel of the Butter is closer to a lotion than an oil because it's a whipped formula. Once smoothed on, it feels like you have used a cream, that is how soft it makes the skin feel. My knees and elbows have never felt better. It has a light, almond scent as you open the jar, which is fine, but I didn't notice that my skin smelled like the almond oil -- which is perfectly fine also. I'd rather have it that way personally.

My favorite of all five? It might be a toss up between the Body Butter and the straight Coconut Oil. The practical side of me would choose the Coconut Oil because it is the most versatile and I can use it as a body butter. But the part of me that wants to be pampered would choose the Body Butter in a heart beat. There is no getting around how luxurious it feels and how soft my skin is afterward. And I would definitely use it on my face also. Since I have found other coconut oils that I like to use in cooking and oil pulling, I think I would choose the Body Butter if I could only choose one. But who says we only have to choose one?! That's just crazy talk!

Want to know more about Skinny&Co? You can read about how they process their coconut oil, their philosophy, and other interesting FAQs by clicking here.

Thank you, Skinny&Co for allowing me to review your products. Look for my order in the near future. ;)

Counting it all joy,


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Skinny & Co Unboxing -- Join Me!

(Skinny&Co sent me these products to review.  I have been compensated in no other way.  All opinions are my own.)
Dear reader, this arrived at my doorstep just a short while ago:



(Woot! Woot!)


This is the official unboxing and my initial thoughts regarding the Skinny&Co products.

Let the fun begin.


First of all, let me say that I am a total sucker for minimalist packaging and advertising. Love It.  Probably because I so often feel pushed and pulled in many directions every day. Skinny&CO has nailed the calming, streamlined packaging. I opened the box and immediately felt like not only had I been given a gift, but a generous gift that breathed serenity.  Who couldn't use a bit more serenity in their lives?

Sign me up, baby!
After the small flurry of packing peanuts immediately gracing the floor, because I could not even take a moment to dispose of them before grabbing the products, this is what I found.  I love that the products were double boxed in heavy duty cardboard. This is a company that has given thorough attention to detail even in shipping.  Impressive.



 These are the cards that sat atop the products.  You can see that Skinny&Co is determined to be clear and concise about which of their products provide which specific benefits.


All of the cards are double sided, but for the sake of brevity, I have only included one side of each card.  You will notice that several of the products have benefits that overlap each other.  This tells me that I can get more bang for my buck with each product. A company that caters to my frugal nature and my desire to be pampered -- hello!

Five jars, two ounces apiece, of  this loveliness.  Now, don't let the two ounce weight fool you.  A little bit of coconut oil goes a long way.  The jars themselves are glass with metal lids and have a nice heft to them: reminding you that this is no fly-by-night, cater to the lowest common denominator kind of product.  In other words: this is NOT the Wal-Mart of coconut oils!  Rather it's a top of the line product system that is serious about providing quality.  Let's take a closer look, shall we?





You will notice that in this photo, the coconut oil is white (apart from the sugar scrub which is a lovely, earthy brown).  If you are familiar with coconut oil, you will know that at a slightly cooler temperature, it may appear cloudy, though it's not truly cloudy.  It's just the nature of the oil and it certainly does not affect the performance of the product.  At slightly warmer temps, purity of the product is evident by the fact that it is completely liquefied. Though slightly more of a challenge to use, again, the performance of the product is not diminished in any way.  An inferior coconut oil, even when liquefied, will sometimes have chunks or small pill-like bits floating.  Annoying.  When this happens, it takes actual rubbing to press out the bits so your skin is able to absorb the oil.  Not so with Skinny&Co.  Just dip your fingers in and smooth it on. Easy-Peasy.

The first jar in the top row is straight coconut oil that can be used however you wish.  In my opinion, it's the most versatile of all the products.  You can moisturize face and body; you can consume it to boost your metabolism and energy and the enhance your mental clarity.  You can oil pull with it and use it in your every day cooking and baking.  You can even smooth it on before your shower to help give you the closest shave possible.

Right next to that is the Facial Oil.  Skinny&Co has added lavender, roman chamomile and other essential oils to this formula.  This is to moisturize your face and neck, remove make up and calm any areas of your skin that tend to get a little cranky.  C'mon, you know you have those cranky spots, just like I do. And if you don't, just wait, you will.  This Facial Oil will help with that.

The bottom row on the left is the Body Butter.  It is a whipped formula that includes organic almond oil.  And it smells great.  The difference in this particular jar is the whipped consistency that feels like a clarified cream when applied.  Nothing heavy or clogging in this Body Butter!

In the middle of the bottom row is the Sugar Scrub. It's like you opened a jar of your favorite sweet pastry.  Like you walked into a gourmet bakery.  Like you want to lick it right out of the jar.  It's tempting, believe me.  And, you could do just that since all of Skinny&Co products are edible.

The last product is the Coconut Oil Pulling.  Oil Pulling is the act of swishing the coconut oil in your mouth and between your teeth.  It is used to freshen your breath, whiten your teeth and improve your oral heath.  Did you know that many, many diseases start in the mouth?  Why not prevent as many as you can by swishing a bit of 100% raw, alkaline coconut oil? It is infused with refreshing peppermint. If you've spent any time here on my blog, you wouldn't have gotten far without reading about my love of peppermint.  I look forward to  using it.

So, there you have it: my initial analysis from just the unboxing.  It won't be long before I will share with you how these products actually worked for me.  I have extensive experience when it comes to coconut oil because I have tried so many different brands. I look forward to sharing my findings with you.

Counting it all joy,


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Coming Soon . . .


COMING SOON . . .


I am excited to try a new product and then share with you my thoughts. I think it may change the way you see an everyday staple in your pantry. Here's a big ol' hint:



Stay tuned for my review of Skinny&Co!

Counting it all joy,