September 30, 2013

You Wanted to Know: "Is method pink grapefruit cleaner antibacterial?"

I'm keeping an eye on search terms that bring people to this blog, hoping I can answer some questions or share more detail about certain products. When I saw a question about one of my favorite brands, I had to tackle it first.

"Is Method pink grapefruit cleaner antibacterial?"

The answer is no. Method All-Purpose Cleaner is not antibacterial. To get the answer to this question, I reached out directly to Method. Their customer service team responded super fast, telling me that while the all-purpose cleaners are great for cleaning surfaces, they are not disinfectants. However, they do offer an antibacterial kitchen cleaner called ANTIBAC, which you can find on the product page of Method's website.

I really didn't know this and now realize I need to run to the store because I've been cleaning my counters with something that isn't actually antibacterial, except when I do a monthly deep clean.

If you want to know more, you can call Method at 1-866-9-METHOD or check them out on social media sites:

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September 27, 2013

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Mix Review: Absolutely delicious!

As I mentioned in my September pipeline post, I splurged on a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Mix after loving their Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. My local Hy-vee store stocks them next to the traditional baking mixes, so it's right there in my face - those amazing, mouthwatering photos of delicious baked goods.

It was super easy to bake these brownies. Like most mixes, you just add a couple of kitchen staples, mix, and pour in a brownie pan. I lined my pan with parchment paper to make cooling and cleanup easier. 

After baking for the recommended time, the brownies looked done. However, a knife test showed they were actually still underdone. I ended up giving them an extra five minutes. After letting the pan rest on a wire rack for 15 minutes, I lifted out the parchment paper and let the brownies cool completely on a cutting board. Cutting was a breeze, but at this point I noticed the brownies were fairly thin compared to when I bake Ghirardelli brownies in the same size pan.
Yummy brownie!
I liked how the end pieces weren't that much more cooked than the center. Every brownie tasted yummy. The flavor was rich without being too sweet. I ate four in five minutes! One day later, my family had devoured them all. So there you go... a winner.

I don't know that it's worth paying more for this mix than I do for Ghirardelli since I don't need a gluten free option, but if you are someone who needs to be, or chooses to be, gluten free, it's well worth checking out these brownies by Betty Crocker.

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September 26, 2013

Kashi Hummus Crisps Review: A healthy alternative with terrible texture

I've always enjoyed Kashi products, particularly their super healthy cereals and filling, yet nutritious frozen meals. So when BzzAgent sent me a bag of Kashi Hummus Crisps in Sea Salt & Olive Oil flavor, I thought "this could be a great alternative to all those Pringles I eat!"

Then I took a bite. I really tried to eat these crisps. I absolutely hated the texture and flavor of the first one, but I gave it another shot. I spit that one out in a napkin.

Woman making a grimacing face while trying to eat an unpleasant tasting chip
I'm not digging this snack
Since I know everyone has different tastes and my husband tends to like healthier chips and loves hummus, I asked him to try some without telling him how I felt. He said the first bite was really "off-putting" because the texture was weird, but he got past it and thought the flavor was appealing. He also noted they are way less greasy than regular potato chips. Overall, his feedback is, "they are okay."

My preschool age daughter wouldn't eat these chips, though I tried to encourage her to try at least one. She licked it and gave it back. I was bummed because she normally enjoys sea salt flavored chips and eats similarly textured snacks like Pirate Booty and whole grain crackers. If it was a flavor issue and not texture, we'd try the other varieties, Caramelized Onion and Sundried Tomato, Basil & Feta, before writing them off, but alas, they were just too unpleasant to try again.

If you're a big Kashi fan, it's probably still worth trying these crisps. I'd just say if you like traditional chips, these aren't a comparable alternative. But they are a healthier alternative!

Scanning the web for other opinions, I've found quite a few positive reviews.

Fit Bottomed Eats offers a glowing review of several flavors of Kashi Hummus Crisps. On Amazon, the caramelized onion flavor received a positive review. Sugar, Spice, & a Healthy Life also really enjoyed the Kashi Hummus Crisps.

Putting my own opinion aside, Kashi Hummus Crisps are a healthy snack rich in fiber, protein, and whole grains. Each serving offers at least 3g of fiber without high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. Bet you can't say that about the usual snack chip!

The crisps are available in three flavors: Caramelized Onion, Sundried Tomato Basil & Feta, and Sea Salt & Olive Oil.

If you are curious to learn more, you can visit Kashi on Facebook or check out the Kashi Hummus Crisps on the Kashi website.

September 24, 2013

Clairol Nice n' Easy Hair Color Review: 114A Lightest Golden Brown

I'm still on the hunt for the perfect hair color. When I was younger, I loved bold light and bright reds and experimented with pink, blue, black, and even blonde, which of course looked terrible. The closer I get to 40, the more I want to achieve a youthful but natural look. Sometimes, I think that means I should be two levels lighter than my natural color, which I've noticed is the typical response to aging and going grey. 

My mom pretty much decided to become a blonde and goes lighter and lighter each time I see her.  For 10 years, I've been trying to convince her to go with a deep, rich red or even more of a medium brown with subtle highlights, but she always comes home from the salon with the frosty blonde look.

After my most recent hair coloring experience, I think it's time I take my own advice. I'm not knocking the product. I'm just choosing colors poorly.

Last week, I tried Clairol Nice n' Easy 114A, Lightest Golden Brown. My thinking is that if I can't mask the golden reddish glow, maybe I should embrace it. While I'm at it, I'll take it all up a level and try to even out the dark ends. I applied it the reverse of my usual method, starting in the middle of the hair shaft, then the roots, then the ends and left it on for the suggested time.

The good news is though I do have "hot roots," they aren't too noticeable. My ends are definitely darker than the rest of the hair, but as my stylist mentioned, it looks like I was going for a certain look, so it's not bad. You can see in the before (left) and after (right) photos below, the color is brighter, lighter, and fairly even. It's light golden brown, like it should be.

The Good:
  1. There was enough product to thoroughly coat my super thick hair
  2. The color came out like I thought it should
  3. My hair feels really healthy even though I did not use the provided conditioning treatment
  4. I have a lot more shine than I had after I used the eSalon color
  5. It didn't stain my skin
The Not-So-Good:
  1. The odor is overpowering, like using a bleaching product
  2. My hair still stinks like hair color, even after a trip to the salon
  3. The color is very flat
  4. It's a really watery product, so applying it can get messy and drippy
If you are curious about what others have had to say about this brand, check out the following:
  • Customer reviews on Clairol's website 
  • Product reviews at Makeup Alley
  • Bernadette's Stuff I Got blog shows how she got nice shine and color but experienced a lot of fading after two weeks of daily shampooing. 
  • The Blushed Wombat blog talks about trying 114 Natural Light Ash (not the golden I used). It looks like it's a shade lighter than her previous color, which might be why the color wasn't as cool as she hoped, but overall the color looks pretty good. Overtime, it faded increasingly red.
I have no problem with the product. I'm just now seeing that I'm going the wrong direction with my color. After talking to my stylist over the weekend, she suggested a chocolate brown, targeting the roots and mid-shaft, ignoring the ends. Basically bring back the color and richness that I've lost going lighter. She suggested I could go red too, but if I go that way, I need to have her do it so she can mix more than one color so I can have an even result. My stylist, Kristan, at City Looks is awesome and if I had the money, I'd rush in and make an appointment. For now though, it's box color for me.

I'm going to give my hair some time between colorings to keep it healthy, so in 4-6 weeks, you'll be seeing another post from me. This time, I'll be embracing a dark chocolate brown. 

Suggest your favorite box colors and I'll pick one to try!

Related Posts:
eSalon Hair Color Review

September 20, 2013

The Honest Company Hand Soap: No refills, yet...

The other day, I was lamenting how I have a stash of empty Honest Hand Soap bottles that I just don't want to toss in the recycle bin. Every two months, I order another three bottles for our bathrooms, and each time I order, I wonder why I can't just buy a big bottle to use for refills. The reality is, I'm stocking up on these empty bottles, just in case. I was tired of just in case, so my husband encouraged me to contact The Honest Company to see if they have any plans to offer soap refills in the future.

Though we won't see refills immediately, the response I received from Allison sounded positive, like there's a chance we'll see a greener way to use Honest Hand Soap in the future.

Here's what they have to say:

Hi Samantha!

Thanks for reaching out, we love to hear feedback from our Honest community. That is an excellent suggestion, and one that we have indeed heard from others! We don't currently have refills, but I will be sure to pass your suggestions along to our product development team, as I do know that is something they are actively looking into. As a company we constantly strive to improve our services, and that means paying attention to what our members want to see next! Our team is working hard to bring a lot of new Honest goodies to life in the coming months, so I'm sure you'll find something to love. In the meantime, have a lovely day!

With Delight,

The Honest Company

I'll keep ordering my bundles with soap pumps, saving them for the day refills can be ordered. By then, I'll have enough to fill up and give out to the girls at my sister's college dorm.

Related Posts:
The Honest Company Shampoo & Body Wash Review
Honest Company Hand Soap Review

September 19, 2013

eSalon Color Depositing Shampoo

Honestly, I'm not sure that I'd call it a shampoo, but eSalon sent me a product to use in the shower to help offset the redness in my hair. You just put it in your hair, leave on for a couple of minutes, and continue to condition and style as usual. The only thing I could find online about it is a press release from Ballantines PR.

The experience of applying the product was kind of annoying, honestly. It's very watery, making it hard to get it in the hair without it also getting around the shower, on me, etc. I quickly rinsed the areas where the product landed, but noticed how quickly a stain set. If you don't rinse what hits your shower walls, you could be stuck using bathroom cleaner afterward.

The good news about staining is that means it was also essentially staining my hair. So yep, my hair came out less red. Unfortunately, it was noticeable uneven, with a lot more darkness near the ends of my hair. My guess is my difficulty applying it was obvious in the result.

The downside was that I went quite a bit darker. It's not so dark that I'd be upset, but my hair was a darker brown near the ends and still light reddish brown at the roots. After one more application, it was a bit more even, but not enough to try again. What I'm going for can't be done with a color depositing shampoo. I just need to recolor it.

This is not to discourage anyone from trying out eSalon products. I would definitely suggest the shampoo to anyone who has recently colored their hair and wants to maintain it (keep out the brassiness or increase red tones). I thought the color in my bottle of shampoo would be perfect for my sister, whose hair is a lot darker than mine. She'll appreciate the neutralizing aspect, which should keep her dark brown hair shiny, rich, and cool.

Related Posts:
eSalon Hair Color Review

September 18, 2013

The Pipeline!

I thought some of my readers may be curious about the products I'm currently reviewing. Since I don't post until I've had a chance to really try out a product, there is often a lag of at least a week to a month or more before I'll post anything. That doesn't mean I'm not busy behind the scenes with everything from beauty products, household cleaners, and toys too!

Active Reviews
Kashi Hummus Crisps
BzzAgent sent me a sample bag of the sea salt & olive oil variety and I've been letting my husband and daughter have a try. A review for this should be live by Friday.

Boots No7 Photo Fix Wrinkle Filler & Primer
I had a Target coupon for beauty products so went straight to the No7 section and picked up the Photo Fix Wrinkle Filler & Primer (that's a mouthful) to see if it helps with the little lines around my mouth and on my forehead. This is something I want to try for a few days before posting a review, just so I know how long it lasts, how it works with my makeup, and how much I need to use to see an effect. Most likely will post a review next week.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Mix
After having such success with Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, I had to try the brownie mix. I had an OMG moment when I saw the delicious looking image on the box (I'm a sucker for pretty pictures), so even though these mixes are expensive, I'm so baking these today. I guarantee there will be a review here fast because as long as they are good, they'll be gone in a day. If they're terrible, well... I hope they aren't!

Clairol Nice 'n Easy Hair Color
On a whim, I decided to embrace the golden-red tones in my hair rather than fighting them. So I picked up a box of Clairol Nice 'n Easy in Natural Lightest Golden Brown 114A. It was pretty easy to color over my hair and the result is subtle but brighter, more even, and not at all damaged. I'll post a review after I have a chance to assess fading.

My Wish List
More than anything, I really want to try Clairol Perfect Lights. When browsing Clairol's website, I came across a promotion for this home hair highlight kit, but at least for now, it's out of my budget at $65.98 with shipping. Definitely will be on my list though!

We have a wonderful, very active Basset Hound at home and are always looking for fun treats that will stimulate his mind as well as his make his tummy happy. Most treats disappear fast and he tends to find the Kong less appealing than I was hoping. We may try out the StarMark Everlasting Treat Ball to see if that helps keep him busy and less bored while I'm making dinner.

September 17, 2013

Luster Premium White Review: teeth whitening that really works!

Recently, BzzAgent sent me some Luster Premium White products to review. I love getting a chance to try products I wouldn't normally buy in the store. It's amazing how often there's something out there that seems to do exactly what it promises but I'm not familiar with the product. Thanks to BzzAgent, I'm hooked on Luster Premium White.

I really didn't believe my teeth could get noticeably whiter after using a toothpaste once or twice. My teeth are already pretty bright and white, but I have some yellow areas from when I was a kid and probably could use some help offsetting years of my soda habit. I figured I wouldn't be able to get my teeth any whiter without expensive bleaching.

I tried the Luster Now! toothpaste only twice before I had amazing results that kind of blew my mind. They look like I had them done at the dentist! I put on a reddish lipstick just to see if my eyes were playing tricks on me (warm reds tend to leave my teeth looking yellow) but ummm, wow! I'll probably alternate with a normal toothpaste, but Luster Now! will be a fixture in our house from now on.

My husband tried the toothpaste just once and had noticeable results as well. He's picky and he even noticed an amazing difference. 

Since BzzAgent sent me a kit with the Distinctly White Dual-Action Teeth Whitening System, I tried that as well. In just two days, you're supposed to see results pretty fast. I followed the directions, swishing with the provided mouthwash and then applying this gel to each of the visible teeth. Applying it is a bit tricky because it's clear and drippy, so trying to avoid my gums, keep my teeth dry while applying, and seeing if I've hit every visible area was not too easy. However, the results were worth the effort. My teeth stayed brighter and whiter for about a week!

This isn't a permanent whitening or bleaching system. It's definitely temporary. However, I experienced no side effects. My teeth and gums never felt sensitive. It's super quick and the results are very noticeable.

If you're curious about the whitening system, I made a quick video of the application process that's hosted through BzzAgent: