Honest Dishwasher Pods: An Honest Assessment

Referral links included. Sign up for Honest.com today and you will receive your own referral link! 

Welcome to another Honest Assessment post! I’ve been getting great feedback from folks that these posts are really helping them to know what to buy, what to avoid, and exactly how to build their bundles when shopping with The Honest Company. Since helping people maximize in some way (time, money, whatever!) I’m just going to keep trucking along!

And if you are feeling lost and have no idea what The Honest Company is or why you should care (or that you can get a bunch of stuff FREE!) then you need to start here, friend!

Honest Dishwasher Pods

honest dishwasher pods

Based on my terrible experience with the Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel, I really didn’t expect to like the Honest Dishwasher Pods. In fact, I have heard from a few different people that the dishwasher pods left a residue on their dishes.

Since I’m trying really hard to offer the most comprehensive review of Honest.com products as possible (here’s where you can find my complete list of Honest Company reviews), I decided to order a bag, though I was almost sure they wouldn’t work.

Well, joke’s on me, friends. I LOVE them! Now I will tell you that they don’t work as well as Cascade Platinum, but for an eco-friendly dish detergent, they work pretty much the best I’ve yet to see. I’ve purchased 2 more packs since getting my original bag; that should give you some insight into my feels about the product! I didn’t have any residue, and I threw out (donated) my leftover Honest Dish Gel after trying these. I think the bottom line is this: I can only speak for how my dishwasher works in my city with my water. No doubt people in different places and with different machines will have different experiences. But if you want my advice, try the dishwasher pods before you try the auto gel!

 How to Purchase Honest Dishwasher Pods

The retail price for this product is $10.95. Since every product in an essentials bundle is $7.20, this is a GREAT item to add to your bundle! Need a bundle refresher? The Honest Company offers a bundle of select products of your choice (5 items) for a set price of $35.95. It is a subscription service (boo!) BUT they are SUPER flexible, and will let you put a hold on your bundle, switch the date around, wait for 3 months if you want. Basically, it is the most flexible subscription service I have ever seen. And of course, you can cancel anytime. And you can switch out the products you want from bundle to bundle. You just want to make sure that the products you buy retail for at least $7.20 or else you are actually not saving money at all, but are over-paying!

Bundles also come with the ability to add 3 more items at  25% discount. You could add dishwasher pods as a +3 item, and then you would pay $8.21 for that item. That’s better than retail, but I prefer to save those 3 extra spots for items that were already less than $7.20 so that I can get them for a really good deal (bar soap, for example).

So who else out there has tried and loved the dishwasher pods? Anyone dislike them? I personally know a few people in both camps!

Something VERY Warm for Your Wish Lists: Heat Holders Gloves

Thanks to Heat Holders for providing review products. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 

I know many parts of the country had a brief return to winter this week. While temps here in Chattanooga didn’t plunge to “polar vortex” levels, we did get in the 30s and that meant that the heavy coats, scarves and gloves had to come back out.

My husband rides his bike to work, and on cold days, his gloves are an absolute must. I recently received the newest product from  Heat Holders (remember them? That make those AMAZINGLY warm socks!) and I assumed that he wouldn’t be able to actually try them out until the fall.

NOPE! He has worn them almost the entire week, here in the middle of April, in Tennessee. Global weirding, indeed!

heat holders gloves

But here’s the good news: because he got to try them out, I can tell you all about how they work. Tim has made this statement about them, “These might be my favorite gloves of all time.” And y’all, he’s not one for hyperbole. He said that they fit snugly, but comfortably, and they keep him very warm, even while picking up speed and encountering more wind on his bicycle.

If you are curious about how these work, check out this 1 minute video. It focuses on the socks, but as someone who owns both the socks and the gloves, I can tell you that they look very similar in their makeup, so the same process is being used.

Despite the cold weather this week in many parts of the country, we all know that Spring is eventually going to win the battle, and we won’t be needing gloves again for a while. That’s why I want to strongly encourage you to put these gloves on your Amazon wish list so that you don’t forget about them! If you don’t have an Amazon wish list, tell me your secrets…how do you remember cool gift ideas for yourself and others? ;-) Whatever method you use for keeping track of cool ideas, definitely add Heat Holders. Here’s a link to the men’s gloves and to the women’s gloves. They are $24.20 on Amazon and I think that’s a fair price to pair for the last pair of gloves you will ever need. And here’s a tip for you: they are even less expensive on the Heat Holders website! I’m looking out for you, friends!
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The 10 Minute Organic Herb Garden (And What I Made With Those Herbs!)

This post brought to you by Organic Choice. All opinions are 100% mine.

Last month I wrote about scaling back on our gardening efforts, and going from an entire raised bed plot to just a small herb garden on our back porch. Well, one month later we definitely have that herb garden. And do you want to know a secret? It took 10 minutes to create. Seriously! 

 photo scottsorganicherbgarden_zpsf38320b4.jpg

With a little help from Organic Choice, and with some plants that were already growing, we planted this garden on Tim's lunch break and weren't rushed in the slightest! It was pretty awesome. Here are the steps if you want to recreate what we did. 

1. Get your supplies. Select a container that will hold the herbs you want to plant, the actual plants (if you are hardcore you can buy seeds. We are NOT hardcore, so we bought the plants. You will also want Scotts Organic Choice potting soil and plant food. These are perfect for edible gardening; you can find the at major retailers! 

2. Put a layer of potting soil along the bottom of your planter. 

3. Add your plants! 

4. Add more potting soil all around the plants until they are securely in place. 

5. Follow the instructions on the bag for the amount of plant food you will need. A little goes a long way! 

6. Give your new garden some water and some sun. You are finished! 

About 10 days after we started our garden, I decided to make a delicious meal using mint, basil and cilantro. 

 photo scottsorganicherbsfreshmint_zps8c09a1ac.jpg

I started things off with a delicious mojito. The plan was to serve it alongside our dinner, but let's be real: I drank that bad boy while I was cooking! :-) Click the link for the mojito recipe I used. 

 photo scottsorganicherbsmintmojito_zps658d37c3.jpg

Then I made a fresh fish dish that called for basil and cilantro. It was really easy, and the fresh herbs packed a BIG flavor punch. Wow…once you start cooking with fresh herbs, it's really hard to go back. Good thing I have a ready supply on my back porch, now! 

Tilapia with Fresh Herbs and Mango Salsa

 photo scottsorganicherbsfishdish_zps43e61e6e.jpg

This recipe can be found here. I just cooked the fish in a skillet instead of firing up the grill (in case you haven't noticed, I prefer to save time whenever possible!). 

If you'd love to give your meals a flavor boost but don't want to plant a major garden, you can definitely do something small like we did. Miracle-Gro Learn And Grow is a great site to get tips and learn about gardening on whatever scale interests you. I noticed their site even has information on how to grow herbs indoors, which I thought was pretty cool! 

What are you growing this year? Any favorite herbs that you absolutely MUST use fresh? For me, it's basil! 

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My Skin Condition and How I’m Changing It (DIY Sugar Scrub Tutorial)

I was diagnosed with Keratosis Pilaris at the age of 6. This is a very common skin condition that is also called “chicken skin” (and by the way, if anyone ever calls my epidermis “chicken skin” it will be ugly…what a horrible nickname for this condition!). I’m sure you know someone who has this, and perhaps you have it, too. It usually manifests on the arms and legs, and looks like really bumpy skin that is also quite blotchy.

I’m 33 years old now, so it has been a part of my life for 27 years. And I can tell you already that little Layah is going to have it. Not sure yet about Darah. It’s very normal for me, and it doesn’t cause me too much grief. I mean, it is what it is. I can’t remember what it is like to have smooth skin on my arms and legs. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t REALLY like to have smooth skin again! So when I heard folks on a oils facebook group talking about how using essential oils is helping with Keratosis Pilaris, I was ALL OVER IT. Treating the condition with oils typically involves two steps: using an exfoliating scrub, followed by a moisturizing cream. I made both of these concoctions about 10 days ago.

My Results After 6 Uses

So I’ve used these products about 6 times now, and I will say this: visually, my skin doesn’t look any different. Still splotchy. Still bumpy in appearance. Again, I’ve only used this combo 6 times, so it is too early to determine what the final result is going to be. But was I hoping for a miracle? Of course I was. And so, it was a bummer not to be able to look at my arms and tell a difference.

BUT…my skin feels VERY different! I have been touching my arms so often over the last week, because I just can’t get over how smooth they feel. Do they feel like the arms of someone who DOESN’T have KP? No, at least not yet. But do they feel like the arms of someone who DOES have KP? No,  not anymore! They are in this in-between place. And I for one absolutely love it!!  And even if you don’t have KP, this is a great scrub for dry skin, too! 

DIY Sugar Scrub for Keratosis Pilaris

diy sugar scrub 5

So the first step is to exfoliate. And you need to exfoliate with the right stuff, friends! I’ve bought TONS of exfoliating over the years, and none have come anywhere close to working as well as this homemade version.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut oil (buy the good stuff…not the cheap version…it matters!)
  • 1 cup cane sugar (I chose cane sugar because it seems slightly less fine that regular white sugar)
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil

diy sugar scrub 1

I cut the recipe in half for my first attempt (just in case I didn’t like it…but I LOVED it, so go ahead and make the whole thing!). Use a medium sized glass bowl. DON’T use plastic, as essential oils will eat plastic! True story.

diy sugar scrub 2

Add the sugar, and then the coconut oil. Coconut oil is solid at room temp. I microwaved it for 8 seconds to soften it a bit. That’ll all you need for it to work with you…it melts very quickly. Do not fully melt your coconut oil before making this, ‘k?

diy sugar scrub  for keratosis pilaris

Now it’s time to add your lavender. Friends, I implore you, DO NOT purchase lavender from the health food store, or through a Groupon deal, or on Ebay. The FDA doesn’t regulate the production of essential oils, and so the quality varies HUGELY from brand to brand. I trust Young Living because of their rigorous oversight from seed to seal. They are not afraid to toss a batch of product at any point in the process if it fails their tests for maximum therapeutic benefit. Lavender has over 200 chemical constituents, and laboratories can mimic the top dozen or so, which can produce an identical scent, but the therapeutic benefits aren’t there. I added lavender not because it smells good (although, hey, bonus!) but because it is soothing. Your skin goes through quite an ordeal when it is being exfoliated, and the lavender is there to soothe. It is important to get the good stuff so that the impact you are seeking is there, and not just the scent.

Mix all of your ingredients together with a fork until well combined. Then transfer to a glass container. I picked mine up at Home Goods!

diy sugar scrub for keratosis pilaris

If you are thinking about trying this out for yourself, I’d be happy to order lavender for you using my wholesale member discount. A 15 ml bottle is $23.50 plus tax and shipping. A bottle of that size has about 300 drops in it, just to give you a sense for how long it will last you. Need other ideas about how to use lavender? It’s a favorite around here!

uses for lavender essential oils

And if this whole oils thing is all new to you, I’ve got some other great articles you can check out to learn more. I got into the whole thing as a skeptic, myself, so if you have your doubts about it, I TOTALLY relate!

Trying Essential Oils as a Skeptic

How to Get Started with Essential Oils

Natural Allergy Relief

Showcasing Essential Oils on Television!

DIY Shower Disks for Congestion

Brand New Reproductive Aid to Use at Home! The Stork

This post brought to you by The Motherhood and The Stork. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 

I am SOOOOO excited to be sharing this information about a product I wish to goodness had been out just a handful of years ago when Tim and I were having a bit of trouble getting pregnant. Turns out, we were alone in that struggle: the 2013 statistic is that 1 in 6 couples have trouble conceiving (a HUGE jump from 1970, when that number was 1 in 20). After taking part in a conference call with the founder and learning more about the device, I have decided that I need to spread the word! If you are currently watching the calendar march on and not getting a positive pregnancy sign, this might really help!

Why is Getting Pregnant a Challenge?

negative pregnancy test

photo credit: Selbe B via photopin cc

Was anyone else out there totally shocked to not get pregnant right away once they started trying? It took us 7 months before we had a successful pregnancy (we experienced one very early miscarriage during that timespan, as well). What we didn’t realize until we didn’t get pregnant right away was just how tricky it can be! We were in our late 20s, and the statistic for people around that age is that they have a 20% chance of conceiving every month, when trying. And that is for perfectly healthy couples with no additional barriers such as a low sperm count, PCOS, or imbalanced vaginal pH. For folks trying to get pregnant in their 30s, their statistical odds go down even more.

But if you approach your doctor before trying on your own for a solid year, the odds are good that you will just be told to “sit tight” and wait. There are really very few options available for those who are initially struggling with conception. Once treatment options do become available, they are slow, invasive and costly. One round of IVF runs between $12,400 and $20,000!

The Stork

The Stork is an at-home fertility aid unlike anything that has ever been available outside of a doctor’s office. It is a conception system to assist with insemination. You use it to collect semen into a cervical cap, and then deliver the cap to the outside of the cervix. It is used at home following intercourse, which makes it feel much less sterile than similar procedures that have been offered in doctors’ offices. You can get a clear understanding of how it works by watching the video below. Just a head’s up, while the video is totally clinical in nature and not something that would make me blush, it might make me uncomfortable to watch in a public setting (like work) or with little ones around.

Let’s Talk Cost

Honestly, I was really blown away when I heard the cost of The Stork. Let’s compare this with other fertility aid options.

Approach

Cost/Attempt*

The Stork®

$210.00/cycle

IUI

$1,000-$5,000/cycle

IVF

$12,400-$20,000/cycle

The Stork comes with the ability to use it 3 times during 1 cycle. Or if you are absolutely certain about when you are ovulating, you could use that one kit just once a month for 3 months. I would have purchased this in a heartbeat if it had been available a few years ago!

How to Buy The Stork

The Stork is currently a prescription only product, but they are working on the final details with the FDA to become available over the counter. They expect to be available without a prescription later this summer at CVS and Amazon! For now, though, you simply need to request a prescription from your doctor, and then submit that prescription via The Stork website. The device will be mailed to your home in discreet packaging so that the mailman and the neighbors don’t know your business! ;-)

Stay up to date with the latest Stork news by following them on Facebook and Twitter.  That’s a great way to be the first to hear about when they become available over the counter!

Allergies, Oil Love, and That Time I Was On TV

What are you up to today, lovelies?

Me? Oh just sitting with  my oldest while she watches Sleeping Beauty (thank you, Netflix!), working on marinading some pork chops for dinner tonight, unpacking my props from earlier today when I was on television.

You know, normal stuff.

:-)

So yeah, I totally went on TV today to profess my love for Young Living Essential Oils, especially as a great resource for allergy relief! Check me out; you know you want to know what my voice sounds like, anyway!

WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather

 

Allergies are no joke around here, you guys, but my family is breathing easy!

If you want more information about essential oils, I’ve got you covered!

How to Get Started with Essential Oils

Trying Essential Oils as a Skeptic

Natural Allergy Relief

DIY Shower Disks for Congestion

Taking the Kids to Orlando: Must-See New Attractions

So thrilled to be partnering with Eileen from TakingtheKids.com, today. Eileen is an “Orlando with kids” expert! I’ve been taking copious notes, as we are planning our first vacation there this fall! Leave a comment if you’ve ever visited these sites, or if you are currently planning a trip to the Orlando area! 

Relax!

You can’t see it all in Orlando — no matter how hard you try — especially because there’s always going to be something new. That includes places to stay. In late March, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens with moderately priced family suites and rooms in an elaborately retro-themed hotel while in August, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney Resort will open its doors for those seeking a luxe experience.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s new at the Orlando parks this year:

legoland-florida-duplo-valley

  • DUPLO Valley at LEGOLAND Florida brings LEGO’s DUPLO characters to life with an entire new farmed-themed area designed for kids ages 2-5 with miniature tractor rides, water play and a place to build with DUPLO bricks. The central feature will be a DUPLO Train that toddlers can board on their own (or with parents.) LEGOLAND Florida also recently unveiled The World of Chima.

uor-diagon-alley-vert

  • Universal Orlando is expanding The Wizarding World of Harry Potter by building a Hogwarts Express train to the London Harry Potter fans know from the books and movies. London’s Diagon Alley will be located within Universal Studios Florida, adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure where the Wizarding World, complete with Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, exists. Younger kids will love the new 3-D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride where you can join Gru, his daughters and the minions on a new adventure.

WDW-toddler-characters-fantasyland

  • Walt Disney World Resort is set to finish the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history –the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster at the New Fantasyland. The Coaster will tell the story of Snow White with mine cars that rock back and forth, animated figures and music from the movie. At Magic Kingdom, a new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade featuring characters and music from classic movies including Peter Pan, Cinderella and more recent ones like Brave and Frozen.

seaworld-penguin_King_vert (1)

  • SeaWorld Orlando celebrates its 50th anniversary with A Sea of Surprises, such as animal ambassadors going through the park offering special encounters, Surprise Squads giving away free souvenirs, and spontaneous pop-up entertainment around the park.

May is an especially good time to visit Orlando; great weather, travel deals and fewer crowds so you can see more for less. The hardest part is deciding where to go first — your tried and true favorites or the new attractions?

Eileen is the author of the syndicated column Taking the Kids and the “Kid’s Guide to Orlando,” part of the Kid’s Guide Series from Globe Pequot Press. 

Tiny Prints: EVERYTHING is 20% off!

Affiliate links included. I only promote what rocks! 

Heads up, everyone! Tiny Prints, makers of SOOOOO many cute things (invitations, announcements, thank you cards, address labels, just to name a few) is having a very unusual sale right now: EVERYTHING* is 20% off. I can’t think of the last time that they put EVERYTHING on sale! Use code APR20SW at checkout. There is no minimum purchase, and you can put together as random of an assortment of goodies as you want…it’s all on sale! But hurry, it ends at 11:59 pm (PT) tonight!

eggs_aplenty-easter_party_invitations-magnolia_press-charcoal-gray

*Just 4 exceptions to the “everything” being on sale rule: gift certificates, calendars, photo books and Erin Condren weekly planners are excluded. But that’s it!

 

Bathroom Recycling, Donating Via App, Twitter Parties, and Coupons! Healthy Essentials

This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.
photo credit: kingdesmond1337 via photopin cc
Tim and I have gotten pretty good at recycling. We purchased a large recycling bin (the same size as our city-issued garbage bin, but in a different color) and that has given us an opportunity to find more things to recycle, because now we have a large bin for storage (our recycling is only picked up twice a month, so the small bins we were issued weren’t cutting it). I’m totally in the zone about recycling stuff as I sort through mail and as I use up stuff in the kitchen.
But I tend to be a bit more forgetful about products in the bathroom. I’m not sure if it is because it is upstairs, and away from where I usually deal with recycling, or if it is because the bottles are smaller, and so my mind rationalizes that recycling those things isn’t really “worth it.” Worth what? The effort to walk down the flight of stairs you go up and down 100 times a day, already? Girl, puh-leeze.
HealthyEssentials.com, one of my favorite websites for finding REALLY good coupons for bath, beauty and personal care products, has some great tips for recycling in the bathroom that I recently checked out. I learned there that only 1 in 5 people consistently recycle bathroom items.
I’m going to stop being one of those 4 people. Will you join me? If enough people make the change, we can reverse the statistic, so that only 1 out of 5 DON’T recycle bathroom products. That would save thousands of TONS of plastic from landfills, people!
I appreciate the thoughtfulness that Johnson & Johnson is putting into how it makes their products, and the fact that sustainability is a key peace of their product design. They are really being great role models, in my opinion!

In addition to having some great information about recycling, the Healthy Essentials website also has some SWEET coupons up right now, including the following:
  • Save $1.00 on any JOHNSON’S® Baby Intense Moisture Cream
  • Save $1.00 on any LUBRIDERM® product (6oz or larger)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) CLEAN & CLEAR® product (excludes trial and travel sizes)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) NEUTROGENA® Sun product (exclude trial size)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) LISTERINE® SMART RINSE Anti-cavity Mouthwash, 500 ml
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) REACH® Total Care Floss, or REACH® Gentle Gum Care Floss, or REACH® Dentotape® or REACH® Access® Flosser
  • Save $2.00 on any (3) NEOSPORIN®, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive bandages or JOHNSON and JOHNSON RED CROSS® Brand products (excludes all trial and travel sizes, First Aid Kits, 10 ct Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, and On-the-Go First Aid Kits. Must buy (2) different brand products to qualify for this offer along with a third product)

Donate A Photo

donate a photo

You’ll also see on the website information about the Donate A Photo (DAP) app. For every photo shared through Donate A Photo, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to one of its non-profit partners, and you even get to choose which one! I’ve downloaded this app because it is such an easy way for me to help get some much needed funds into the hands of organizations doing great things. This month I’ll be focusing on donating to environmental causes. What would you donate to through your photos?

Twitter Party

Do you love to party on Twitter? Join me for a great one all about HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® this Thursday at 1pm EST. There are going to be 15 prize packs, each worth $50! You can find all the details  and RSVP here:http://twtvite.com/jnjearthday . And don’t forget to use the #Moms4JNJConsumer hashtag! See you there?

 

 

How to Remove Crayon from Painted Wood

Anyone else out there have a budding Picasso? Layah is quite smitten with crayons, and despite being told approximately 9.5 MILLION times to only color on paper, the child can’t seem to help herself. I’ve already shown you how to remove crayon from plastic, and today I’m going to show you how to remove cray from painted wood. Once again, this post is born from necessity. I had to find out for myself, so I thought I’d share my findings!

how to remove crayon from painted wood

So Layah painted on the wooden ledge of one of our downstairs windows. I noticed it probably 30 minutes after she did it. And then I let it sit there for about 2 weeks before I tried to remove it. I just wanted to let you know that I didn’t go after it the second it happened, so if you have older crayon stains, no worries!

The solution is really quite simple, and in my case, this took care of about 90% of the discoloration, which is good enough for me! :-) All you need is a baby wipe. I tried it with two different kinds, and both were effective, so if you don’t have kids in diapers at home, you can just pick up the cheap Target or Walmart brand on your next trip (I’ve used the Target ones to remove makeup in a pinch, FYI, and they work!).

how to remove crayon from painted wood

Like I said, I could still see a faint amount of green after I was finished, so perhaps in the future I will do additional research to see if I could try something else. But for now, this took care of enough of the problem to satisfy me, and it was really easy!

I’ve also read some folks online say that baby wipes will take crayon off of painted walls. Layah also painted on the wall right next to this ledge, and at least for me, the crayon on the painted wall didn’t budge AT ALL. So of course we’ll have to do a whole other post about that when I get around to figuring how to remove it! :-)

I hope this helps other parents of little artists in training, too!