Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review - Sue's Bracelet Helper

         Sue's Bracelet Helper is an awesome little invention created by owner Sue, who was looking to create a functional and fashionable aid for one of life's most frustrating and mundane tasks: putting bracelets on without someone's help. The inspiration behind her idea was found in the back of a magazine -- an ordinary "bracelet helper" that she purchased for her mother, who due to Parkinson's, had trouble clasping her jewelry.

    Sue's Bracelet Helper is modern and innovative. Each helper is assembled with a long (and smooth) wooden stick, colored wire, a large clasp and one of an assortment of charms. You can choose from the following colors of wire to adorn your helper: rose red, peridot, kelly green, baby blue, navy blue, purple, lavender, or pretty pink. As for the charms, you have the following selection: kitty cat face, leaf, half moon, love, or rose. It is simple, but makes a great addition to any jewelry box or dresser. Sue's Bracelet Helper is also extremely easy to use! First, you secure the clasps of the helper around one end of your bracelet. Next, you grasp the wooden handle of the helper at a comfortable distance and bring the free end of the bracelet around to meet the end that is secured by the clasps. Holding the helper, you can use your free hand to clasp your bracelet. If this sounds confusing, it really isn't. I have included the how-to video below from Sue's website, as well as a "step-by-step" in pictures that I took while using my Bracelet Helper.

This product is great, because anyone could use one! It isn't limited to bracelets -- you could also use it to put on watches. I know that I sometimes give up on jewelry in the morning when I am running out the door to work because I have trouble getting it on. Now I won't have to worry! I know that if I have trouble, Sue's Bracelet Helper must be even more of a lifesaver for anyone with shaky/clumsy hands, or certain conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson's. My grandmother has arthritis, so I think that I am going to order one for her during the next holiday season.

I received a green Bracelet Helper with a half moon charm. I tried to put on one of my new and very irritating bracelets right away and had immediate success! The Bracelet Helper is comfortable, simplistic, and did everything it claimed it could do. You can see the step-by-step process below.

Sue's Bracelet Helper retails for just $10.99, with free shipping. You can order your very own bracelet here, on Sue's website. Another great thing about this product is that each purchase helps contribute to the fight against Parkinson's -- $1.00 from every sale is donated to the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego. If you are interested in connecting with Sue, she has several social media sites available. You can connect with her via Twitter or Facebook. She also has a Google+ account and a YouTube account.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Regarding posts/ Winner!

I just wanted to let everyone know that throughout the months of July and August, my posts/giveaways will be further spread out due to more intensive studying for the MCAT. This does not mean that I am cancelling my blog -- just that you will need to work with me for a little while. :) I still will gladly accept offers to review products, so long as there is some understanding about the time-frame. That being said, I have a winner to announce, of the ITO EN Prize Pack! The winner has been emailed and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Congrats!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review and Giveaway - ITO EN Green Tea

ITO EN (North America) Inc. is a company based out of New York that was founded in 2001. ITO EN started with the goal of widening the variety of green tea products offered in the United States. Now they not only offer green tea beverages, but loose tea and many other tea-related items. Their first main line, Teas'Tea, is perhaps the most well-known and boasts Natural, Safe, Healthy, Well-Designed, and Delicious tea. ITO EN has a huge commitment to excellence and to providing customers with the products necessary to make positive lifestyle changes. Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit, swears by ITO EN's Jasmine Green Tea. Here is what she had to say:

Like YogaFit, ITO EN is a leader in their category. ITO EN teas are natural, committed to health and top quality. I LOVE Ito En green tea because it is truly the only beverage that is anti aging, good for weight management and gives me just the right amount of energy to get through my busy life. I drink it every day,” explains Beth Shaw enthusiastically, "Nothing Gets Between Me and My Ito En Jasmine Green."

 ITO EN's Teas'Tea brand is a wonderful additional to any healthy lifestyle, offering unsweetened and slightly sweetened teas in a variety of flavors. These teas include all natural flavors, high levels of antioxidants, and real cane sugar/stevia. The two "Classic" flavors are Country Peach Black Tea and Crispy Apple Black Tea. Low Calorie options include: Mango Oolong Tea, Blueberry Green Tea, and Lemon Black Tea. The "Plus" teas are half-and-half varieties, and you can enjoy the following flavors: Green Tea with Lemonade, Green Tea with Green Apple, and Green Tea with Peach. Finally, for anyone that desires completely unsweetened tea, Teas'Tea has a lot to offer: Pure Green Tea, Jasmine Green Tea, Green White Tea, Lemongrass Green Tea, Rose Green Tea, Mint Green Tea, and Golden Oolong Tea.

Other brands under the ITO EN name are Oi Ocha and ITO EN Shot. Oi Ocha is a popular, Japanese green tea which is unsweetened, all-natural and lacking calories. It is loaded with natural Catechin antioxidants and vitamin C. ITO EN Shots come in Sencha, Fiber Sencha, and Oolong. On top of all of these beverages, ITO EN also has Loose Leaf Tea, Traditional Tea, Tea Bags, Teaware, and gift sets available for purchase. This is definitely your one one-stop-shop for anything tea related!

 I was generously offered one 16.9 fl oz bottle of (ITO EN) Teas'Tea Unsweetened Jasmine Green Tea and one 16.9 fl oz bottle of Teas'Tea Lightly Sweetened Blueberry Green Tea to review. Both the Jasmine Green Tea and the Blueberry Green Tea contain Catechins/EGCG, which are powerful antioxidants that promote heart health. They also have only 1/3 the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and contain theanine, which is an amino acid that might help by offering a sense of relaxation.

The Jasmine Green Tea contains only jasmine green tea, purified water, and ascorbic acid. It is authentically brewed to ensure a natural, healthy and great taste. It has no calories, and it has 100% (or more) of your daily dose of Vitamin C. It is available in a 2 liter size as well as the 16.9 oz bottle. This is the description as given by the ITO EN website:

"Infused with the scent of jasmine flowers by alternating several layers of the flower within the green tea leaves prior to brewing. It provides a refreshing taste and soothing fragrance."

My mom and I shared the Jasmine Green Tea, because she absolutely loves unsweetened tea, and never had tried Jasmine before. We both agree that the flavor is subtle and not overpowering. Instead, it's quite refreshing and thirst quenching. My mother said that she could see herself carrying around a bottle of the Jasmine Green Tea to inspire a more healthy choice, because it tastes so good that the fact that it is actually good for you is just an added bonus! I like the fact that it is calorie-free, but is more satisfying than a glass of water.

The Blueberry Green Tea contains Purified Water, Cane Sugar, Natural Flavor, Green Tea, Citric Acid, and Ascorbic Acid. It only has 40 calories per serving (and two servings per bottle) and 9g of sugar. The Blueberry Green Tea only has 10mg of both sodium and carbohydrates. It also contains over 100% of your daily dose of Vitamin C. Here is the description of the Blueberry Green as given on ITO EN's site:

"A delicious combination of green tea and all natural blueberry. Enjoy the clean, light taste of this savory low calorie tea."

I took the Blueberry Green Tea to work with me. I have to admit -- the combination made me a little skeptical, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the taste. Although I prefer sweetened beverages, sometimes the sugar can be overpowering and weigh down the natural flavors of the tea; this was not the case. It is not overly sweet, and the tinge of blueberry really adds to the flavor. I was surprised at how few calories the bottle contains, and happy to find out that there are no chemicals or fake sugar ingredients included. I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who is looking for something to curb their sweet tooth, while also being refreshing!

I am currently trying to conduct a healthier, more active lifestyle by changing some of the routines I have accumulated over the years. Since my parents drink a lot of Diet Pepsi, I started to find myself craving it...and now I am addicted. I tried to tell myself that it was somehow better for me than regular soda because it lacked the calories. However, the more I learn about the ingredients (especially Aspartame) I am consuming and their possible tie to cancer, the less I want to drink it. Unfortunately, I get headaches without the caffeine and my body is used to the sugar, however fake it is. I'll admit that I am not great about drinking water, either. Since January I have lost 15 pounds, so I am well on my way to making healthier food and exercise choices; but I know that Diet Pepsi negates weight loss, or at least makes it harder. This is all a big reason why I was excited to try ITO EN -- green tea is GREAT for weight management, the tea contains the caffeine that my body craves, and ITO EN offers the low-calorie, sweetened beverages that fit my taste and lifestyle. I hope that green tea might be the final transition from my bad college habits to my new, healthy life. I have been trying to go to the gym as often as possible, and slowly increase the amount of time that I run and the amount of weight that I put on the machines. I have been trying to take my dog out for more walks/runs, despite how crazy my schedule has been lately. I have also been cutting back on everything that I eat, but not denying myself bits of what I want. The best "diet", to me, is just moderation. Thanks ITO EN for giving me another option for this new path.

If you are interested in learning more about ITO EN and their wide variety of beverages (or finding out where you can purchase their products locally), you can always visit their website (or TeasTea.com also). They also have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account where you can connect with them and receive daily updates.

Can't wait to get your hands on some of these awesome products? ITO EN was generous enough to offer one of my readers a 500ml bottle of their [unsweetened] Teas' Tea Jasmine Green Tea and a bottle of their low calorie [slightly sweetened] Teas' Tea -- the same products that I reviewed above! As usual, the format for this giveaway will be Rafflecopter. All you have to do is fill out the form below with VALID entries; all entries will be verified upon completion of the giveaway, so please do not make false ones. Please make sure to fill out all of the extra information boxes clearly. This giveaway is open to the U.S, ages eighteen and up (or less with parental permission). The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond with their shipping information before another winner is chosen. I am not responsible for the shipment of the products, but I am happy to contact the company if a problem does arise with the winnings. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review - Aura Cacia Essential Oils


         Aura Cacia is an aromatherapy company that was founded in 1981 in Weaverville, California. Aura Cacia has several standards/policies that make it such a success including: the Source to Shelf Strategy, the pure-as-can-be ingredient standard, full ingredient disclosure, animal-friendly products, and environmental-friendly policies. Each of their essential oils are sourced from a single origin (they must travel to many countries in order to find sources), and they give 15 of sales back to the farmers and communities that help produce the oils. Aura Cacia provides ORGANIC essential oils, which are grown pesticide free and chemical free, on USDA certified land. Their oils are never diluted, and uphold a high standard in testing for purity. Aura Cacia is environmentally conscious in the fact that use recycled materials and minimal packaging whenever possible.

 Aura Cacia products

This company has a wide variety of aromatherapy products based on their organic, essential oils. They have massage creams/oils, skin care oils, body creams/butters, mists/sticks, bath salts, and body washes. Aura Cacia offers several baby-related products such as baby oil, a calming milk and oil bath, or a nursery diffuser. They also have foaming bath packets for children. There is something for every occasion, and for every mood; they have sales periodically, and close-out items to browse through. Aura Cacia suggests integrating essential oils into your yoga routine, to reap the benefits of calming your body, mind, and spirit. Each essential oil has a different effect on your yoga pose and your mindset.

 From Aura Cacia, I received three awesome products along with an informative guide book and a coupon: the Chill Pill Essential Solutions Mist, the Pep Talk Essential Solutions Mist, and Bergamot organic oil.

The Essential Solutions Mist collection includes Chill Pill, Cool Hottie, First Response, Panic Button, Pep Talk, and Pillow Potion. Each 2 oz mist is designed to create a specific mood -- whether it is for your room, or your body. To refill your spray, you can purchase the Aura Cacia Essential Solutions oil, and combine 30 drops with 2 ounces of water. These mists retail for just $7.99 in the Aura Cacia online store. The Chill Pill Essential Solutions Mist provides a sense of harmony. As the website states,

"Chill out with this blend of calming lavender, refreshing citrus and balancing patchouli to diffuse anger, quiet arguments and create harmony. Don't let road rage or conflict get the best of you – just chill..."


This product is not tested on animals, is verified for purity, and does not contain ANY synthetic ingredients. To use the Chill Pill Essentials Mist, you simply shake and spray the space around you. I really like the scent that this specific blend of oils makes. I have always thought of lavender as a particularly calming oil. I have been using this spray in the bedrooms of my home, because I think it helps me relax and fall asleep. Really, it could be used in any room -- I could see it being a nice air freshener in the bathroom as well. I would use it in my car in the future; especially if it can really help with my road rage! :) I love the scent and the fact that I can spray this around my animals without feeling as though I have to worry about the chemicals irritating them.

The Pep Talk Essential Solutions Mist provides a sense of motivation and positive thinking. As the website states,

"Put some pep in your step with this blend of spicy cardamom, invigorating peppermint and energizing citrus to clear the cobwebs, inspire decision making and dissipate the doldrums. Perk up with Pep Talk!"


Like the other Essential Solutions Mists, Pep Talk is tested for purity isn't tested on animals, and has no synthetic ingredients. Of course, I have been using this spray in any room that I decide to study in -- for the aspect of motivation. The scent is definitely empowering and awakening! I thought it might be a little strong for my taste (sometimes certain blends of dominant oils can irritate me), but it was surprisingly refreshing. It definitely made me feel more alert, and I hope that it is affecting my study habits positively. You will definitely not be disappointed in the Essential Solutions Mist collection, even if you are simply looking for an air freshener with a twist! The impacts these mists have on your mood is an added benefit.

The organic Bergamot oil that I received came in a .25 fl oz container. Aura Cacia sells almost any oil that I can think of on their website. This particular oil retails for $12.99. Bergamot comes from the fruit peel of the plant, and its single source is Italy. As the website states,

"The fresh, fruity scent of this uncommon citrus fruit makes a refreshing room spray. Combine with water in a spritzer to help discourage mold and mildew and remove odor. (Substitute bergaptene-free bergamot for natural bergamot in any skin application.)"

Bergamot is supposed to have an uplifting benefit; it definitely delivers a nice, fruity scent. When it comes to yoga, Bergamot has a "mind benefit" of consciousness expanding, a "body benefit" of nourishment, and a "spirit benefit" of fulfillment. In the booklet that I received, Bergamot is suggested for enhancing creative visualization; all you need to do is take a whiff of it. For those of you who follow yoga, Bergamot is helpful for the third eye chakra -- suggested poses are half warrior, forward bends, and corpse. The third eye chakra is for "intuition, wisdom, and focusing on inner spiritual development". You can dilute one drop of Bergamot, vanilla, and lavender in 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil and dab on your forehead for clarity for the third eye.

I have always wanted to get into yoga, and I had no idea that essential oils could enhance the experience. I am excited to learn more about the different chakras and how I can use the oils. On Aura Cacia's website, there are also a variety of recipes, so you can learn about other ways to use essential oils -- you can search by oil or by what type of product you are looking for. Bergamot can be used in several recipes, to create concoctions such as massage oils, oily facial masks, bath blends, and room sprays. I want to try and create the Refreshing Eau de Cologne Mist. I love that Aura Cacia sells organic oils that are pure; I can tell that I received a high quality product, and I am not afraid to use it in my home, bath, or on my body.

All-in-all, I fully recommend this company! The products are top-notch, the blends have a great smell, and they have really fast shipping. The environmentally-conscious aspects of Aura Cacia are also a definite plus. I would purchase more oils from them.

If you're interested in learning more about Aura Cacia, or purchasing their products online, you can always visit their website here. While you are there, make sure to check out their great sales and coupons. If you sign up for their monthly e-newsletter, you will be notified about products and savings. Aura Cacia also has a Facebook fan page where you can connect with them, as well as a Google + account and a Twitter page. If you have an iPhone of an iPod Touch, you can look for the free Aura Cacia Aromatherapy App.

Also, Aura Cacia is currently holding a sweepstakes ("Om is Where the Heart Is") on Facebook which is active until June 20th. The daily prizes include daily essential oils, and the grand prize winner will receive free yoga for one year ($1,000 gift card), a Yoga Journal subscription, yoga accessories and Aura Cacia essential oils. Also, if you happen to know someone who owns a yoga studio, there is the option of nominating one. The yoga studio that receives the most votes will receive an Aura Cacia gift basket full of goodies! The contest is easy to enter, so you have nothing to lose.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review - Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar Pumpkin Sauce by Skillet

For those of you who don't remember, I did a brief overview of the Skillet company a few months back when I reviewed their awesome and unique Bacon Jam. Now, Skillet was generous enough to send me a sample of one of their pumpkin sauces to review. Below, I have quoted my previous review to provide you, again, with information about this company.

"The Skillet Street Food company was founded in 2007 by Chef Josh Henderson in Seattle, WA. It was originally based out of Airstream trailers (hence, the "street food" part of the company name) that traveled through Seattle, offering unique lunch-time cuisine. These street-traveling trailers still exist today, but the company has expanded greatly; it now offers a restaurant in the heart of Seattle, an online store, products in many stores across the country, as well as catering for a wide range of events (weddings, business meetings, etc).

What I love about this company is the creativity that seems to be placed in every dish or spread. I was drawn to the unique, flavorful products that they offer. Skillet Street Food is American-based, with a chef-inspired addition of special flavors and seasoning. You can tell that Skillet is committed to providing excellent food, with the care and time that goes into each of their products.
For those of you who do not live in Washington and do not have the pleasure of eating at one of the Skillet Airstream trailers or in the diner (like myself), there are a few great products available for a reasonable price online. They offer Skillet Pumpkin Sauce in three varieties: thai coconut, chipotle, and apple vinegar brown sugar, and the Skillet Bacon Spread in fennel and black pepper and original. One 10.5 oz jar of Skillet spread retails for $8.00 in the online store. They also offer a series of variety packs of all flavors, which range in price from $22.50 - $47.50. Once you have one of the spreads, there are many appetizing recipes available if you were looking for something new to cook for your next party or event!"

The Skillet Pumpkin Sauce is an innovative condiment that can be used with practically any dish. Skillet has described the sauce as "ketchup" with a twist. On top of the mixture of unique flavors, you also get the added nutritional benefits of pumpkin, which include a host of vitamins and minerals.

Of the three Pumpkin Sauces that Skillet has available, I chose to review the Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar Pumpkin Sauce (though it was hard to choose, with the Chipotle and Thai Coconut flavors). If you can't see it in the picture, this Pumpkin sauce has the following ingredients: Pumpkin, brown sugar, tomato, red wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt, Worchestershire, onion powder, pectin, black pepper, and a combination of spices. It also includes anchovies and soy products. I thought that this Pumpkin Sauce would be the most versatile of the three. It has a very strong, vinegary smell, but it is not necessary unpleasant. The texture is very close to that of ketchup, so it makes a great spread or condiment. 

I tried it by itself first, so that I could get the full experience. I do NOT like anchovies (didn't realize it had them when I requested this flavor as a sample), but I didn't taste anything of the sort. The Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar Pumpkin Sauce is packed with flavor -- you would think that all of the strong ingredients would not compliment each other, but they do! You get the "zing" of the vinegar, the texture of the pumpkin, and the off-set of the brown sugar. This is a safe spread/condiment for all food lovers; it isn't overly spicy. After the initial taste test, I tried the pumpkin sauce on a cheeseburger, to see how it matched up to ketchup. It made my cheeseburger have a more.."restaurant-style" feel. I definitely prefer the flavors to my traditional ketchup or mustard. I think the Apple Vinegar Pumpkin Sauce would taste even better on a turkey burger! I can't wait to try it with butternut squash ravioli as Skillet has suggested. 

Here is what Skillet has to say about their Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar Pumpkin Sauce:

The brown sugar and vinegar flavor does a number on your head and your mouth. At first taste, you want to say “it tastes like a yummy ketchup.” But then you get the spicy pumpkin flavor and all you can say is “wow!” Try it on a grilled Turkey-and-Gruyere Panini or add some cream and vegetable stock to make a fabulous sauce for butternut squash ravioli.
 I really enjoyed the Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar Pumpkin Sauce, and would recommend it above the Bacon Jam. The flavors were more rich, and the pumpkin sauce can have such a variety of uses! A little goes a long way. I think that this would make a great gift, or could really bring life to a summer barbeque or picnic.

If you have additional inquiries about the Skillet Bacon Spread, you may email the company directly at eat@skilletstreetfood.com, or you always visit their website to learn more. Skillet also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account that you can connect with them on.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.