January 24, 2015

Jump Rope for Heart! artwork for Grandma Sharon

Penny had a very busy day today, but she took a midday break to play with a friend and make puppets from recycled paper bags. In honor of Penny's latest Jump Rope for Heart! donor, grandma Sharon, Penny dedicates this cute puppet:


This week, Penny and I will explore how the heart works and talk about different exercises to keep her healthy and strong. After a day like today, during which she really gave her all at gymnastics, I think she's starting to understand what the heart does.

The more Penny helps to raise, the more the American Heart Association will be able to help children afflicted with heart conditions. If you haven't already, please consider a small donation through Penny's fundraising page!

For each donation of $10 or more, Penny and I will create a piece of art and post it on this blog.

January 23, 2015

Jump Rope For Heart! paintings by Penny

Penny received her two Jump Rope for Heart! donations yesterday.  Tonight, we're posting two paintings in appreciation. Penny wanted me to tell you she thinks it's cool that people are helping her reach her goal of $100 in donations. The more she helps to raise, the more the American Heart Association will be able to help children afflicted with heart conditions. If you haven't already, please consider a small donation through Penny's fundraising page.

Using gold metallic paint on corrugated paper

Using purple acrylic on yellow paper

3 hearts for grandma's donation

6 hearts for an anonymous donation

January 22, 2015

Penny's raising money for heart health!

This year, Penny is participating in her school's Jump Rope for Heart! From now through February, she will learn about how the heart works, how to take care of her heart, ways to stay active, and will celebrate fitness and jumping rope.

Please help Penny raise money for heart health by making a donation to the American Heart Association through her Jump Rope for Heart! fundraising site: http://jumphoops2015mwa.kintera.org

For each donation over $10 she receives through her fundraising site, Penny and mommy (me) will create a special piece of art in honor of the donor to post it on this blog. Please consider a small gift to help Penny see that she can do something to help children with heart conditions. She promises to "jump a lot" this month and believes that staying active (i.e. running around, going to the playground, and doing gymnastics) is really important for kids and grownups.

Just for a little encouragement, Penny has a message for you:


October 31, 2014

Dr. Song Rosehip Oil

I received a complementary bottle of Dr Song Organic Rosehip Oil to try in exchange for a product review. Truly, I've used rosehip oil very little, while reviewing another product several months ago. Oils are mostly my husband's territory as he uses them during and after shaving, so I let him try this one out.

I've come to the conclusion I really don't have a need for rosehip oil, but I'm not going to ding a product just because I don't see much personal value in it.


What I noticed was that Dr Song oil doesn't smell bad (I've tried some stinky rosehip oils), it's definitely moisturizing, and my skin doesn't react badly, so no irritation, which is nice. If you're looking specifically for rosehip, of the few I've tried, Dr. Song would be my preference based on my skin after using it and the smell.

This oil is really potent. Basically, a tiny amount goes a long way. I had a hard time not applying too much because even a drop for me is more than plenty. If your skin is quite dry, you might find this really moisturizing and great soothing legs after shaving.

So, overall, it's a good oil. I may not use it, but my husband probably will and if you're looking for a good rose hip oil, this one seems well produced without the stink.

I received a bottle of Dr Song Organic Rosehip Oil for free in exchange for a review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

October 13, 2014

Vitamin C serum review

I've been trying a lot of vitamin C serums lately. This one was offered to me by Morea Naturals to try out for free in exchange for a product review. I immediately noticed it's a larger amount of serum than I get from comparably priced serums and it's in a totally opaque bottle, which I honestly don't often find. The serum itself is a bit thicker than the ones I've tried in dropper bottles and it feels like I don't need nearly as much to get the same benefits. Therefore, I get more product and I use less of it. That's enough to convince me to buy it when I run out.


The opaque bottle that Morea Naturals uses makes me happy because skincare ingredients can break down when exposed to light and the pump style makes me more confident that I'm not getting bacteria in the bottle every time I use it, which is kind of how I feel when I use a dropper style product.

It honestly can take a while to see any real benefits from using a vitamin C serum, so I'm not going to make up a story about my skin looking 10 years younger after just one week. What I will say is that my skin hasn't had any bad reactions, the quality of the serum seems high (thicker, with beneficial ingredients), the packaging is better than what I'm used to, and overall, I feel like I'm being good to my skin using a vitamin C serum. I just want to stay looking like I'm 5 years younger than I actually am for as long as I can and I feel like I can do that using this serum every night.

Here I am, makeup free and my skin looks pretty smooth and moisturized:


I've also enjoyed how moisturized my skin feels after using Morea Naturals serum. Maybe it's the green tea or the hyaluronic acid, but I do seem to have less dry skin since trying this product.

Disclaimer: I received a bottle to try for for free from Morea Naturals in exchange for an honest review.

October 9, 2014

Leather Nova cleaner, conditioner, restorer products

I was given the opportunity to try a set of Leather Nova products to try recently. While we don't have a lot of leather products, what we do have is in pretty terrible shape, so I was pretty eager to try out something that might help clean and restore a few things in my house.

My husband's had this big Ikea man-chair for 8 years and it's been through the ringer. We've moved several times, we have cats who scratch furniture, and we've never properly cleaned the leather. We also have a dining seat with leather chairs, and while the big issue there is the cat damage, they could use a good cleaning.

Leather Nova sent three products. I tried all three this week so I could see what each product does. The packaging of each is very similar, so when you're shopping online, make sure you are buying the one you want, whether it's leather cleaner, conditioner & cleaner, or conditioner & restorer.


I first used Leather Nova Leather Cleaner on the big chair. You can see in the next couple of images that we have taken terrible care of this chair. It was dull and scratched with unknown markings from animals and children.

Mystery marks on the arm of the chair
Dried out, worn seat of the chair
Leather Nova's cleaner is designed to work on leather, vinyl, and plastic furniture, clothing, purses, gloves, and saddles, and you can use it to clean the leather in your car too. You can use it to clean off dirt and oil and since it opens the pores of the leather, after using the cleaner, you are ready to treat your leather with Leather Nova's conditioning products.

I tried the Leather Conditioner & Restorer next. This step helps protect the leather after it's been cleaned, with water and rain repellant (great for jackets and purses). While the cleaner did a good job getting the grime out of my chair, it is the conditioner & restorer that helped the leather become more shiny, smooth, and soft.

Leather chair after using Leather Nova
While the cleaner did a good job getting the grime out of my chair, it is the conditioner & restorer that helped the leather become more shiny, smooth, and soft.
Chair arm after using Leather Nova
Leather Nova also makes a Conditioner & Cleaner, which had me confused because they sell just a cleaner as well and I'm not sure why I wouldn't want to just buy the one combination product or how exactly it differs from the Conditioner & Restorer (noting that the cleaner version also says it provides instant restoration).

I ended up trying the Conditioner & Cleaner on my dining room chairs and it did a pretty good job. I think they're too far gone with deep scratches and tears from Simba and Little Kitty though. 

I blame these cuties for my scratched up leather
Overall, I'm a fan of the Conditioner & Restorer and think I could find more uses for it than the other products. I also just don't like to have so many similar products around taking up space, but I think if I had more leather, I might feel differently.

One thing that did irk me a bit is the smell. Leather Nova's product description calls out a "rich, leather fragrance," but it reminded me more of the stainless steel cleaner my husband uses, or this shoe protecting spray we use on my daughter's sneakers. Not pleasant. It dissipated after a few days, thankfully.

What's nice is the big black chair looks way better, almost new. The small scratches are less visible and the scuff marks and mystery stains are completely gone. It's worth buying just for that.

Disclaimer: I received a set of products for free from Leather Nova. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

October 6, 2014

A review comparing the Roomba 581 to the new 870

iRobot provided a significant discount so I could purchase the Roomba 870 for review. The iRobot Roomba 870 is my 4th robot vacuum. The first two were also Roombas, the 530 and 581, and the more recent robot was a Neato XV21. Roomba 530 died a few days out of warranty, but iRobot awesomely sent me a 581, before they were even sold in the United States, as a replacement. The 581 has lasted more than 4 years with one replacement battery. Neato totally konked out after a year, but we aren't keen to replace him with another one.

Roomba 870 & 581
Basically, I feel like at this point, I know my robot vacuums, so here's what I think of the Roomba 870:

The 870 is much better than the 581 and the 530 before that. The beater bars are almost zero maintenance and the dust bin is way easier to empty. It's a sealed bin, so it picks up a lot more too.

Roomba 870 dust bin
What I'll call "Old Roomba" (581) got fine hairs and dirt particles but the bigger stuff would get pushed around and left in big piles when he transitioned between types of flooring, like wood to carpet or tile to wood. So a trail of stuff was being pushed around, kind of annoying and gross when I'd step in it with bare feet.

"New Roomba" (870) picks everything up and hasn't pushed anything around, ever. Of course, if I leave out a sock or drop fabric on the floor, it gets caught, but that's like all the robot vacuums, and like a traditional upright as well.

Easy-to-clean beater bar of Roomba 870
New Roomba really isn't any smarter than Old Roomba. It gets stuck under one of my couches and sometimes under my husband's recliner. It gets stuck in the bathroom when it happens to close the door while cleaning, so I have to wedge something under the door to keep it open.

Getting a room cleaned happens and it cleans well, but it takes longer than my Neato, which is more methodical about going about a room. Rooma seems more random.

video

I liked neato's methodical way of getting a room compared to random way roomba. super long battery life, so gets it all, just takes longer. Thanks to the extra long Roomba battery life, taking longer doesn't mean it has to stop to charge. The battery can handle my 1200+ square foot main level.

Typical emptying Roomba after cleaning my first floor
There is something I don't like about the 870, but it's not annoying enough to give it less than 5 stars. When the dust bin is full, the detector works great and puts a light on. But that's it. Roomba keeps going and there's no alert, no stopping, so unless I check on the robot, I have no way to know if it's still cleaning or just running around with a full bin. Full bin means nothing is being sucked up. For my first floor, the bin needs to be emptied once a cleaning cycle.