April 29, 2013

Mother's Day with Broken Shed Vodka: Made in New Zealand from spring water

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Broken Shed Vodka is a premium vodka with a great story:

Broken Shed Vodka (www.brokenshed.com) is a premium whey vodka based in Wanaka, a small lake town in the mountains of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Broken Shed vodka has been four-times distilled to meet the highest quality standards and is gluten-free, naturally smooth and additive-free. "Creamy" is the first word that comes to mind when trying this highly-regarded spirit. The award-winning vodka was founded in 2009, launched in 2010 in New Zealand, and then launched in the U.S. in June 2012. Broken Shed has just proudly announced results from the prestigious Ultimate Spirits Challenge, where the vodka received a score of 90, and was named "Excellent, Highly Recommended." Started in a 'broken' down old shed on Lake Wanaka, the (slightly) renovated Shed is now used for tasting events and offices.

And here's a lovely recipe:

Broken Sunrise cocktail:

2 parts Broken Shed Vodka
1 part orange juice
1 part cranberry juice
1 part soda water
Stir over ice in a tall glass.


It is suggested that Broken Shed Vodka would make a sweet Mother's Day gift, and the above cocktail would be a wonderful way to be greeted by my family. My family does drive me to drink (Ha!). Actually, I think it is homework that drives me to find relaxation in an adult beverage.

All kidding aside, this vodka is pure, made with no additives or sugars. The spirits are distilled from whey.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 25, 2013

Really Natural Cookbooks: RawEssence: 165 Delicious Recipes for Raw Living

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In the past year, I have shifted towards eating more raw food. During the day time, all I eat is raw. Dinner is the only mean I typically eat that is cooked.

Raw food doesn't have to simply mean you are munching on carrots and apples. There are many delicious recipes you can make! RawEssence: 165 Delicious Recipes for Raw Living by David Cote and Mathieu Gallant is sure to inspire you to eat healthier.

This new raw food cookbook is part of the growing movement that advocates a cuisine that is eco-friendly, meets nutritional needs and is immensely satisfying and delicious.

These outstanding recipes were originally created for Crudessence, the authors' restaurant and catering service, which is based on respect for living things and global well-being, which in turn promotes a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Rich in nutrients and enzymes, the recipes are recognized for their ability to revitalize and alkalinize the body.

The recipes are relaxed and flexible, making this an ideal cookbook for those who are just beginning to embrace the raw-food lifestyle. Because it also features an emphasis on attractive food presentation, experienced cooks will find it equally satisfying.

Sections include:


  • Living Raw Foods Worldwide

  • Techniques and Utensils

  • Basic Recipes

  • Juices and Smoothies

  • Soups

  • Salads

  • Pâtés

  • Fermentation

  • Dehydration

  • Appetizers

  • Main Dishes

  • Desserts.


In full color throughout, dozens of color photographs provide inspiration for meals suited for every occasion. In addition to the recipes, there's a plethora of information about the benefits of living foods, ingredient properties and all manner of advice for a natural and healthy lifestyle.

Some of the recipes I can't wait to try are the pecan dill terrine, island lime pie, dark desire cake, and riccota roulade! Yum, these recipes will inspire me to eat more raw food at dinner time too.

Raw desserts are my favorite!

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 23, 2013

Really Natural Cookbook: The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook

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Eating gluten-free is a trend and a medical necessity. For some, gluten-free eating is medically indicated by Celiacs Disease. For others, it simply makes them feel better.

The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook: 125 Delicious Recipes from Amaranth to Quinoa to Wild Rice by Judith Finlayson is full of a wide variety of recipes from different cultures and includes beautiful photographs.

Consuming whole grains offers not only a wide variety of health benefits, but they can be incredibly delicious. We also know that more and more people are looking for gluten-free alternatives. It is a huge market, and that's where this book fits in perfectly, with great recipes featuring amaranth, buckwheat, corn, job's tears, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff and wild rice.

Its color pages throughout feature a wealth of health information on these grains. There is a culinary profile for each, with buying and storing information, cooking methods and recommendations, and detailed nutritional analyses for each individual grain as well as for the recipes. The color photographs for each grain provide easy identification.

Featuring mouthwatering recipes for breakfast through dessert, Finlayson ensures that good taste and a gluten-free lifestyle go together beautifully, from soups, salads and sides to pancakes, puddings and so much more.

This book is proof positive that good taste, excellent nutrition and gluten-free options are not mutually exclusive.


I can't wait to try the Cranberry Pecan Millet Salad and Mushroom Ragout. Many of these recipes include meat, but it looks like it can easily be omitted leaving a delicious recipe for vegetarians like me.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 18, 2013

100% Natural Snacks: Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites

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I love pistachios, but honestly, sometimes I am too lazy to work for them.  It's hard work cracking open the shells. They are fun to eat, and the shells do keep one from gorging. 

 Now there is a unique way to eat pistachios in a yummy chewy bite:

Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites come in little packages. Each bite is about 70 calories (but don't worry, it doesn't take just one bite to eat one!).

With three main ingredients, Pistachio Chewy Bites provide healthy snack lovers the amazing benefits of pistachios, cranberries and agave nectar in a delicious and nutritious bite-size bar. Pistachio Chewy Bites are heart-healthy, 100% all natural, gluten and dairy free, low in sodium, GMO free, vegan and a great on-the-go protein snack. They also have no cholesterol, zero trans-fat and are a good source of dietary fiber.

The above quote is a bit misleading, as there are more than just three simple ingredients. In addition, there is brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, cranberry flavor and sea salt. The dried cranberries also contain sugar and sunflower oil

When I first opened the package, I thought that they were overly packaged. Once I ate one, I see why each bite needs to be in its own plastic package, as it tended to stick to the wrapping and fall apart as I ate it. It was delicious, but I would prefer this natural snack was made with organic pistachios.

Pistachios are one of the three nuts identified as ones you should eat only organically-grown. LiveStrong explains:
Pistachios

Non-organic pistachios may be treated with phosmet, a Class II pesticide. Studies at Cornell University indicate chronic toxicity in rats from long term, small doses of phosmet. A two-year mouse study showed increased liver tumors and carcinoma, and the pesticide is considered a category C carcinogen. Safe, organic pistachios are not exposed to phosmet or any other synthetic chemicals.


Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 17, 2013

Eco Fashion: Perfect Spring Knitwear by Krimson Klover

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I have a new favorite sweater! It's the Penelope sweater from the fun new spring knitwear collection by Krimson Klover.
Description:

A chic designer sweater with open stitch detail. A breezy way to transition comfortably into spring.

Yarn: 90% Cotton 10% Rayon


I love the open knitwear, which lets your skin peak through or whatever fun colored shirt you wear underneath it if layering during cooler temps. The sweater was a little heavier than I expected, but not in a bad way. I was also pleasantly surprised by the shape! The picture doesn't do the fit justice, as the sides are a little longer chicly covering up the curves I like to slim. I love this sweater and can't wait to wear it all the time!

In case you are not familiar with brand, Krimson Klover is a Colorado based brand that features unique fashions that are both beautiful and practical.

Adventurous women express their femininity with our playful and vivacious luxury fiber sweaters and clothing. We are all about enjoying an active and full life, thus create knitwear that makes the Krimson Klover woman feel, and look good in all her daily pursuits. Fun, yet elegant patterns, bright colors and impeccable quality are at the core of this innovative collection.

We take our commitment to environmental and social responsibility very seriously by using Merino and Pima cotton yarns from sources that respect their animals, employees and Mother Earth. Finally, a women's designer line of fashion and sport sweaters, skirts, dresses, hats, socks, tights and scarves designed especially for your sensibilities.


This is such a lovely brand!

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 15, 2013

Waxelene: All Natural, Organic Alternative to Petroleum Jelly

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Waxelene is a natural, organic alternative to petroleum jelly (no petroleum!). I've always wondered how people can disconnect the word petroleum in petroleum jelly. Who wants to put the same stuff that coats oil rigs on their skin?  I haven't used the stuff since I was a tween making my own lip gloss. Thankfully, there is an alternative.

Waxelene:


  • Use For anything you would use petroleum jelly for and more!

  • Non-petroleum based, all natural, eco friendly, biodegradable, no GMOs

  • Skin moisturizing, protection, and lubrication - lips, feet - anywhere!

  • Protection from chafing, friction, and wind burn - jogging, biking, volleyball, etc.

  • Tons of other creative household and cosmetic uses


Waxelene - The Petroleum Jelly Alternative. Made of Organic Soybean Oil, Natural Beeswax, Organic Rosemary Oil, and Natural Vitamin E. That's it, no petroleum products or artificial ingredients.

Waxelene is not just a replacement for petroleum-based products, it is a major improvement because it is noticeably more effective. Waxelene's ingredients, vitamin E oil, beeswax, organic rosemary oil, and organic soy oil, are delicately balanced to synergistically care for your skin.These all-natural ingredients are combined using a patent pending aeration formula to create this amazing texture that won't clog pores. Knowing that it is made in the USA with sustainable ingredients makes consumers feel good about using it every day from their head to their toes.


I love the way Waxelene smells! It feels great on my garden rough hands!

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 12, 2013

Neutrogena Goes Natural! Acne Scrub, Cleanser, and Spot Treatment

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It's always with some trepidation that I approach reviews of companies that are mainstream but now offer a "natural" line. Are they truly offering natural products because they believe natural is better, or is it a marketing term or move to gain some of the natural market? I like to assume the former, but then I wonder why such a brand would not convert all of their products to natural ingredients.

I used Neutrogena products a lot as a teenager suffering from pimples. The company now offers a natural line of acne solution products. We were sent three items:


  1. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Scrub

  2. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Cream Cleanser

  3. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Spot Treatment

  • Salicylic acid acne treatment

  • Fortified with an acne fighting bionutrient for clear, healthy-looking skin

  • Clinically proven acne medicine treats and helps prevent breakouts

  • No harsh chemical sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, dyes or pthalates

  • Dye-free

I cannot attest to their effectiveness for treating acne, as I no longer suffer as I did when I was younger.

Although these products are not specifically evaluated by the Environmental Working Group, similar products in the line have a relatively low hazard score of three.

I have to say I am pleasantly surprised that Neutrogena makes it easy to find out exactly how much of these products are natural. It states on the label that the ingredients are 93% naturally derived. Such disclosure is unusual from a mainstream company like Neutrogena, and I am impressed.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 11, 2013

Made in the USA: Liberty Bottleworks Aluminum Water Bottle with Knitted Insulate

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I love Liberty Bottleworks because they are made in the USA; however, I prefer stainless steel to aluminum for my reusable water bottles. That being said, Liberty's unique click design and the fact they are MADE IN THE USA is quite awesome!  It's amazing they sell for the same price or a little less than comparable Chinese made stainless steel bottles.

We were sent a Liberty Straight Up Water Bottle

  • American Made
  • BPA Free
  • 100% Recycled & Recyclable
  • Simple 1/4 Turn Cap makes drinking easy. No more turning and turning.
  • Durable, Flexible, Food-Grade Pure Shield Liner is completely non-leaching and non-porous
Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 8.30.56 AM.png We were also sent a Liberty Bottle Works Freaker knitted insulating cover:
Liberty Bottleworks has "lost their freakin' minds" with the launch of a unique line of one-size-fits-all bottle insulators designed by Liberty and manufactured by Freaker USA. The company is celebrating the product launch with a limited time offer of a free Freaker with any bottle purchase (Buy one, get one. Buy 10, get 10) from www.libertybottles.com with the coupon code "freakin".
I like these soft, machine washable insulating covers way better than silicone ones commonly used with glass water bottles. I also love how they stretch to fit any size bottle.
 

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 10, 2013

SLS-Free: Roux Maison 100% Natural Essential Oil Essential Laundry Detergent

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I feel very strongly that the laundry detergent we use should be natural, as well as effective. Common laundry detergents, like Tide, have a negative effect on aquatic life in lakes and rivers.  Many of the harsh cleaning ingredients they contain, like sodium-lauryl sulfate, are skin irritants, as well. Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly, natural laundry products available.

We were sent a very small sample of Roux Maison Essential Sweet Tea Liquid High Efficiency Laundry Detergent:


  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Free

  • Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) Free

  • Formaldehyde Free

  • Pthalate Free

  • 1,4 Dioxane Free

  • Paraben Free

  • Phosphate Free

  • Readily Biodegradable

  • Optical Brightener Free

  • Neutral pH

  • Not A Marine Pollutant

  • No Harmful Chemical Residue

  • No Animal Testing

  • Vegan

  • No Genetically Modified (GMO) Ingredients

  • Safe for Sensitive Skin

  • Ingredients Classified as Non-Hazardous

  • Low Sudsing

  • Safe for Septic Tanks


What more could you ask for in a natural laundry detergent?

Unfortunately, we were only sent enough Roux Maison Essential Sweet Tea Liquid High Efficiency Laundry Detergent for two loads. I was not able to test it on the toughest, muddy work clothes. I do love the sweet tea scent!

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 9, 2013

You can Beat Lung Cancer Using Alternative/Integrative Interventions

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 You Can Beat Lung Cancer: Using Alternative/Integrative Interventions explores holistic and alternative treatments, including nutritional aspects, for lung cancer.  Thankfully, I do not have lung cancer; I have one acquaintance that is a survivor. I remember visiting him in the hospital after part of his lung was removed.  

I have not tried the methods in this book; however, author Carl O. Helvie is a 38-year lung cancer survivor. In general, they are good healthy living tips in addition to cancer specific treatments.

Review
If you are ever diagnosed with advanced cancer, the odds are very good that your oncologist will tell you that unless you immediately consent to chemotherapy you are going to die. This is a lie! I know, I have been treating conventional chemotherapy failures for years. Other than for leukemia or lymphoma, conventional chemotherapy is almost always a death sentence. There are so many more effective ways to treat advanced cancer, and Dr. Carl Helvie's book, You Can Beat Lung Cancer: Using Alternative/Integrative Interventions, describes some of the most effective. In addition, his book is packed with references and information sources that will help anyone fighting cancer learn more about how to go about it successfully. --Frank Shallenberger, MD, HMD, ABAAM, Medical Director, The Nevada Center of Alternative Medicine, Editor: Real Cures Newsletter and Author

From the Author
This book was a joy to write because it discusses my experience with lung cancer 38 years ago when contemporary medicine gave me 6 months to live and I beat the odds of lung cancer and also the odds of 3 chronic illnesses and 5 prescribed medications (average for a 75 year old). And I used all natural holistic interventions so there were no side effects. Now at age 80 I am in excellent health and lead an active life, I want the same for others and realize it is so easy for those who are willing to live a healthy holistic lifestyle involving physical, mental, spiritual, relationships. environmental, and political components. Most of my other books have been textbooks for nursing and health students but this book and my last one are for the general public.

As Helvie writes, the major cause of lung cancer is smoking, but there are other risk factors as well, such as exposure to asbestos and arsenic. One causal relationship I was not aware of until skimming this book is that a diet low in fruits and vegetables is also a factor. In fact, consumption of green leafy vegetables protects against lung cancer even amongst smokers, according to Helvie.

I think this book is important for anyone diagnosed with lung cancer to read and discuss with their medical and alternative providers.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 8, 2013

Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears and the Valentines Collection

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Before I begin, let me be clear there is nothing eco-friendly about this product; however, they are sweet stories. Any product sent to me, I feel obligated to review.

Scholastic Storybook Treasures is a series of DVDs that are well done featuring great children's literature. Children can read along while the stories are narrated by famous people, such as James Earl Jones. They typically feature five stories and are recommended for children ages four to eight.

We were sent the following DVDs:
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears and more African Folk Tales

WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE'S EARS (Written by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, narrated by James Earl Jones) A tall tale sets off a chain of mishaps through the jungle grapevine from Mosquito to Iguana to Python to Owl.

HOT HIPPO (Written by Bruce Hobson, illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway) Hippo promises not to eat Ngai's little fishes in exchange for being allowed to live in the cool water instead of on dry land.

NOT SO FAST SONGOLOLO (Written and illustrated by Niki Daly) In this warm and tender story, Malusi, a South African boy, spends a delightful day shopping in the city with his grandmother, Gogo.

THE VILLAGE OF ROUND AND SQUARE HOUSES (Written and illustrated by Ann Grifalconi) A young girl from the West African village of Tos movingly tells how the men came to live in square houses and the women in round ones.

WHO'S IN RABBIT'S HOUSE? (Written by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, narrated by James Earl Jones) Adapted from a Masai folktale, a rabbit can't get into her house because a creature is hiding inside.

DVD Features: 5 stories plus read along

Supports: Cooperation, Friendship, Problem Solving


The Valentines Collection Featuring One Zillion Valentines
ONE ZILLION VALENTINES (Written and illustrated by Frank Modell) Two enterprising friends, Milton and Marvin, prove that valentines are for everyone.

A LETTER TO AMY (Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats) The wind spoils Peter's attempt to mail a special invitation to his special friend Amy.

GOGGLES! (Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, narrated by Geoffrey Holder) Peter and his friend Archie call upon faithful dog Willie to outsmart a gang of tough bullies who want Peter's goggles.

WILFRID GORDON McDONALD PARTRIDGE (By Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas, narrated by Mem Fox) In this gentle, moving story about caring and sharing, a small boy helps a friend remember her past by sharing his own special items.

WILL I HAVE A FRIEND (Written by Miriam Cohen, illustrated by Lillian Hoban, narrated by David de Vries) On the first day of school Jim worries that he won't make any friends. Will he meet anyone who feels the same way?

DVD Features: 5 stories plus read along

Supports: Friendship; Sharing; New Experiences


Of course, it is always best to read to your child, but these DVDs are better than many movies and kids' shows, in my opinion. At least there is the option to read along, bringing some print awareness to the experience, and they feature great children's literature. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale has always been one of my favorites.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 5, 2013

DIY Home Preservation: The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

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Depending on where you live, strawberry season may be in full swing or a month or two away. Although I prefer fresh fruit, preservation is a great way to keep fruit through the winter. We were sent two recipes from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

Rachel Saunders's The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook is the definitive jam and marmalade cookbook of the 21st century. In addition to offering more than 100 original jam, jelly, and marmalade recipes, master jam artisan Rachel Saunders shares all of her technical preserving knowledge, as well as her unique jam maker's perspective on fruit.
Rachel combines nostalgia with a modern, sustainable approach to creating fresh and vividly flavored preserves. The recipes are divided into chapters based on the seasons, and each chapter is organized by month and type of fruit. Sample recipes include Strawberry-Marsala Jam with Rosemary, Italian Lemon Marmalade, and Early Girl Tomato Jam.

More than 100 stunning photographs by Sara Remington illustrate each part of the preserving process--from the different stages of cooking to testing for doneness to the final canning stage. Each recipe includes an approximate yield and a suggested shelf life, in addition to details on recommended equipment, including Rachel's beloved copper jam pot. The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook gives all measurements by weight rather than volume, making it the most exact and reliable American jam book on the market. More than 20 recipe variations are provided, along with detailed information about common and rare fruits, hybrid varieties, and flavor combinations. Nothing is left to chance or overlooked; Rachel explains every aspect of jam and marmalade making in step-by-step detail. The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook is a one-of-a-kind, must-have resource for home and professional cooks alike.


The recipes we were sent were the Brandied Red Cherry Preserve, White Guava & Meyer Lemon Marmalade, and Italian Prune and Cardamom Conserve. All the recipes look easy to follow; however, I would like to see the whole cookbook to see if there are more standard recipes. I do really like how the book is arranged by season, so you know exactly when to be making what with local ingredients.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 4, 2013

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Baking Mixes by Purely Elizabeth

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When my father was first diagnosed as a Celiac, I remember shopping for speciality items in order to bake gluten-free. Now, Purely Elizabeth makes it easier with gluten-free whole grain baking mixes containing many organic ingredients.

We were sent the following products to try:


Purely Elizabeth is also concerned with the planet!

As a member of One Percent for The Planet, we donate 1% of sales to non-profit organizations striving to help the health of our planet and future generations. This has included organizations such as Slow Food USA, Wellness in Schools, and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. One Percent for The Planet is a group of businesses committed to donating 1% of yearly sales to environmental causes. In 2012, we have decided to not only donate our 1% to the Climate Ride, but also participate in Climate Ride California, a 320 mile bike over a 5-day period raising thousands of dollars for environmental non-profits.

Having a clean environment, supportive relationships, sustainable exercise routine and a balanced work/personal life all intersect when we talk about health. As a company, we may not be able to make sure our customers get daily self- care but we can directly improve their lives by providing healthy food alternatives and doing our part to support the environment.

In addition to our current green practices, as our company evolves we strive to provide 100% green friendly packaging as well as source all ingredients from organic producers. In the meantime, all of our ingredients are either organic or natural- NON-GMO. We invest in only green friendly products in our office.

I love that these products contain superfoods like chia seeds.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 3, 2013

A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters, and Wildlife

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Never underestimate the power of literature to inspire someone to change their life. A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters, and Wildlife by Sydney Lea is such a book of tales that makes one realize where you live does matter. I have always espoused that happiness is not conditional to location, yet it certainly does provide a backdrop for adventures.

A North Country Life is the story of author Sydney Lea's powerful connection to his family, friends, and the northern outdoors. Loosely organized by the changing of seasons, different sections feature essays on such topics as childhood family fishing trips in the wilds of Maine, trophy fly-fishing the northern reaches of the Connecticut River, the opening day of turkey hunting season in Vermont, and getting lost in the deep woods while deer hunting. The essays are introspective and dramatic illustrations of the blending of the human and natural worlds; emotion is attached to both spheres and adds texture to the sketches. Readers of varied interests will be drawn to the sincerity of the author's voice.

A notable writer and poet, Lea's lyrical writing preserves a picture of people and places from the past with vivid scenes recalling former times and contrasting them with modern life. Thoughtful portraits of New England elders and the author's friends bring to life the outdoors as seen through many different eyes, inspiring readers to take a new look at the world around them. With the author's knack for descriptive language, this compelling read will strike a chord with anyone interested in the contemplative side of nature--which, in truth, is most of us.


Although I am not a hunter or fisherman, there is a lot I can connect to in this book. The love and connection to a river, the ominous observations of nature and how it is changing, building that first fire in the woodstove when the seasons change, etc.

This book is heavy on the hunting, but it is enjoyable even if you are not one to go bag your dinner.

Lea is Vermont's Poet Laureate.

I could not find any information about recycled paper or FSC-certification from the publisher.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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April 2, 2013

Barbara's Hand-Made Cookie Pies are not ALL Natural

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Who doesn't love getting a cookie pie in the mail? Well, I don't when I feel I have been mislead.

We were sent a Barbara's Hand-Made Cookie Pies Gourmet Oreo Creme Cookie Pie. The first clue this pie was not all natural was the word Oreo! These pies were promoted to us as all natural because they are "made with 100% natural butter cookie crust". Well is the crust all natural or is it just the butter? Clearly the toppings are not.

Our assortment wouldn't be complete without a version of OREO TM which reigns supreme as the best-selling cookie in the world. The OREO TM , tradition is carried forward with our Cookie Pie version. Appetizing sweet white crème sits atop a home-made butter cookie crust and is then garnished with genuine OREO TM pieces for an irresistible classic treat. Taste it and you'll know why OREO has a legacy all it's own. If you're looking for a gift, this variety can't miss. It truly is the best of the best and beloved by everyone. We use no added preservatives and only kitchen-fresh ingredients in our recipes. Each Cookie Pie is made fresh, then shipped to you. For maximum freshness and quality, they can stay at room temperature for approximately 7 days. If you don't plan on eating your cookies right away, we recommend refrigeration (for up to 14 days) or freezing them (for up to 3 months). Wholesome and pure ingredients go into each one of Barbara's Cookie Pies such as unbleached and unbromated flour, pure creamery butter (not oil), pure chocolate (not 'coatings'), whole eggs, pure vanilla extract (not artificial flavors,) premium preserves, fresh nuts and so on - overall the best quality ingredients we can find. As a small business, it can be challenging to obtain these products cost effectively, but after numerous kitchen tests and tastings, we taste the difference and hope you will too.
Amongst the scary ingredients are high fructose corn syrup and vanillin.
 

I was surprised that a serving is only 260 calories; that's the same as some granola or nut bars.

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Read More in: Food | Product review

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