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the bees knees

You may recall back in May I switched up my face cleansing regime (I know! dangerous) from Vichy to Burt's Bees Radiance Daily Cleanser. Just so you know I couldn't be happier with my choice. It's been several months and I'm still digging it. My skin is clearer than ever, more radiant, and never greasy. If you have combination/sensitive skin I highly recommend this product. We'll see how my skin fairs over the winter, but I think this one is a winner (and cheaper!).

Happy cleansing!

September 08, 2010 — Alanna Banks

disaster fatigue?

I have a big case of disaster fatigue! For the past few months I have been glued to CNN to hear the latest from AC360 on the oil spill, but now I've given up (meh!). I feel bad about it but really what can I do? (definitely can't watch another moment of the gushing oil!). I was so pleased to see Adria Vasil's column addressing this issue in last week's NOW. She gives tips on how to deal with the oil spill and ways we can help even when we're feeling helpless.

Here are a few of her reccos:

  • Adopt your own pelican or heron through the International Bird Rescue Centre
  • Organize a creative fundraiser to raise money for organizations involved with the clean up efforts
  • Donate items on the wish list of wildlife organizations like Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and the National Wildlife Federation

Do whatever you want but don't feel bad about tuning out. God help us!

July 14, 2010 — Alanna Banks

4 pumps = 1 load

On my eternal quest for "green" products I'm giving method Laundry Detergent a spin (ha!). Apparently you can find it at Shopper's but we had to buy it online. I must say my first impression was slightly negative considering it arrived at our house in a huge box filled with that nasty styrofoam popcorn packing stuff (really?).

Anyway, I haven't tried it out but here's what sold us:

  • just a few tiny squirts delivers BIG cleaning power (amazingly concentrated)
  • biodegradable, 95% plant-based formula, 70% less detergent, water and plastic per load (except when you order it online and it arrives in a huge box)
  • hypo-allergenic
  • smells great (it better!)

Now off to do some laundry.

July 08, 2010 — Alanna Banks

green beaver

I was at Your Good Health today and the Green Beaver Company had a sales rep stationed giving out info and free samples (love free stuff!). I've never heard of the company but of course took him up on the offer.

Green Beaver Company is Canadian (I like it!), make their personal care products with certified organic ingredients (tell me more!) and they don't use chemicals (sold!). They've got everything from edible toothpaste (yum!) and eye makeup removers to shampoos/conditioners and exfoliators.

I'm going to test the samples including eye makeup remover, grapefruit aloe facial cleanser, cranberry body wash and apple mint conditioner (sounds like a fruit cocktail!) and let you know what I think.

Stay tuned! In the meantime check out their site.

June 17, 2010 — Alanna Banks

rainy day biking?

We've all heard of the fantastic bike culture in countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany and bike enthusiasts here in Toronto (my hubs included) wish we had their well-deveolped infrastructure  but alas we don't (we probably never will...oops did I just say that?).

This video is bike rush hour on a rainy day in the Netherlands. I sat in awe watching. Only the hardcores here ride on rainy days like the one we had today.

Doesn't it make you want to hop on your bike and go somewhere?

June 09, 2010 — Alanna Banks

that's hot

Is this what your office and house turns into during the hot summer months? (I know you're all nodding yes!) We bellyache all winter about how cold it is and then once the heat arrives we crank the AC so that we're freezing our backsides off.

When we bought our house a few years ago the AC was a "nice to have" but I can count on one hand the number of times we've used it in three years (maybe 5?). I didn't have AC growing up and we just coped with the hot summer nights so as a result I've never been a huge advocate of flash freezing my home (don't get me started about the workplace).  So as you can imagine I was pleasantly surprised today when I read Dave McGinn's interview with Stan Cox, author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (And Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) in the Globe and Mail. He discusses why we're so used to AC and how it's effecting the environment and our health.

Here are some of my own personal stay cool tips:

  • Install a ceiling fan in your bedroom (amazing!)
  • Keep your blinds closed in the rooms that get the most sunlight (this keeps those rooms cool during the day)
  • Open all your windows¬† (it creates a cross breeze)
  • Have a cool shower before tucking into bed
  • Take the duvet and heavy blankets off your bed (just sleep with a sheet)

I hope this has inspired you to try to quit your AC addiction. Your bank account will thank me.

June 04, 2010 — Alanna Banks

for the boys

As you know, I just got home from a weekend away when I returned I noticed my hubs had done some shopping (I can smell new skincare products from a mile away) little royal blue tubes were staring at me as I entered our bathroom.

The new additions are Jack Black Beard Lube Conditioning Shave and Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser. This line of mens skincare is fragrance free, dye free, is not tested on animals (ya!) and is designed specifically for guys.

The facial cleanser (yep I used it) smells like aloe and sage (basically nature) and doesn't dry out the skin and apparently the shaving cream gives a tingle and a little bit goes a long way (can't wait to try it out on my legs).

If your boy is due for some new products I recommend.

May 11, 2010 — Alanna Banks

home sweet home

This post is a salute to all you new homeowners out there (yes you know who you are!).

NOW columnist Adria  Vasil's Ecoholic Home should be on every homeowners bookshelf. It's jammed pack (382 pages!) with money-saving tips, a sustainable home checklist, reviews of "green" cleaners, resource guides (and the list goes on!). But, what I like best are the DIY cleaners.

Here is one of my faves, a DIY window cleaner (Windex is evil!)

Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle and get window washing:

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of natural dish soap (see list below)
  • 2 cups water

My hubs tried it out a couple of weekends ago and the windows are sparkling.

Here are two natural dish soaps Vasil recommends:

Bio-Vert Dishwashing Liquid

Nature Clean All Purpose Cleaning Lotion

May 03, 2010 — Alanna Banks

chew with your mouth closed

When a new gum comes on the market I snap it up (I love gum!). Glee Gum is not new (I know) but I've always wanted to give it a try and today I did. I was all set to give it a horrible review (tastes like spearmint Thrills and looses it's flavour in 30 seconds) but after doing some research for this post I kinda fell in love with their brand.

The company that makes Glee Gum (Verve Inc.) is an independent, family-owned business dedicated to linking world communities and creating responsible (social and environmental) products and activities. In addition to their amazing work they have an education program (Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit) that teaches little ones about the world around them.

Go buy some Glee Gum even if it does taste like your chewing flavoured paper. It's all natural after all, made with sustainable harvested rainforest chicle.

April 29, 2010 — Alanna Banks

not just for cookies

If you're like me and hate spending big money on beauty products you'll be happy to hear that your new exfoliator is living in your pantry.

Baking Soda makes a great weekly facial exfoliator and this is how I use it:

  1. Wash your face with your regular cleanser (don't dry it)
  2. Sprinkle a few teaspoons of baking soda on your hand
  3. Add a bit of water so it turns into a paste
  4. Gently rub it all over your face for 15-30 seconds
  5. Rinse and moisturize

I don't recommend using it more than once a week because it can mess with your skin's pH levels and dry it out.

Keep your baking soda in a cute container with a tiny spoon by the sink and no one will know the difference.

P.S. Since it is Earth Day (yawn!) I guess this is also a green addition to your beauty regime!

April 22, 2010 — Alanna Banks