Reviews

To be honest, I’m not much for wearing jewelry, but I do have pierced ears, and occasionally will wear earrings.  Last weekend I went to a benefit banquet for youth in our area, and one of the raffle prizes was a pair of earrings.  Besides not being very fashionable, I am also not very lucky usually at these types of events.  Well, I won!  A really cute pair of earrings made by Spent Rounds.

The earrings are made from recycled fired ammunition, in Georgia by a married couple,  Andy and Tonya Thompson.  Their pieces are creative, and well made.  They carry a variety of pieces, from napkin rings to cuff links.  Spent Rounds

The picture above shows the earrings I received, which are listed on the webpage at MSRP: $29.99.    The earrings are comfortable to wear.  I have worn them for hours at a time, and after a few minutes, forgot they were there.  Very lightweight and comfortable. Nickel free for those of you who may be sensitive.   I love they are handmade, from recycled materials.   I can see some of the items on their webpage making great gifts.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Its April, its Maine, and we still have many feet of snow on the ground.  Unfortunately, that does not mean that the ticks are gone, and the mosquitoes won’t be back.  Last week a friend found a tick walking on her dogs head.

Last fall, I received some samples of Badger Balm Bug Repellents, and Sun Screen products.  Disclaimer – I have used Badger Balm products in the past, but not bug repellent or sun screen items.

Badger Balm is a New Hampshire based company, that makes and sells all natural, certified organic products, including lip balms, body care and pain relief salves for the whole family, along with those mentioned earlier.

Since the products arrived in the fall, I only used them a couple times, so held off writing until now.  I’m hoping the information will help you prepare for warmer weather, and everything that goes along with it.

First, the bug repellents:

The bug repellents are made from all natural ingredients, smell pleasant and are not greasy or heavy.  I love that I can apply them, and even if I get wet, they stay effective.  I tend to use them while hiking, so getting wet usually consists of either getting caught in the rain, splashing myself with water to cool off, or something similar.  I would expect that after swimming, or being immersed in water, you’d want to reapply.   I live in an area known for lots of mosquitoes, black flies and tics.  I am very impressed with how well it works with mosquitoes, and will be finding out soon how well these products work with black flies and/or tics.  I love that the ingredients are safe, and how thoroughly tested they are.  Badger Balm has some of the most honest advertising I’ve seen.  Including information about the length of effectiveness for each product.   Here is some information directly from their website for their bug repellent:

USDA Certified Organic – All Natural Mosquito Repellent

  • Certified Organic and 100% natural DEET-free bug repellent.
  • Independently lab tested to repel mosquitoes and stable flies.
  • Smells great and works great!
  • Great for use by the whole family.
  • All Badger balms are certified organic and petrolatum-free.

Good for the Skin. Bad for the Bug. ® Certified organic and all natural DEET-free bug and mosquito repellent uses organic and all-natural citronella, cedar, and lemongrass, essential oils used for centuries to naturally repel biting insects. Our tried and true formulation has a base of organic extra virgin olive and castor oil to soothe and soften skin. Smells great and works great; you won’t find DEET, petrolatum, or any other chemicals.

A laboratory trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of Badger’s Anti-Bug Balm formula as a mosquito and stable fly repellent. The test results concluded, “Badger Anti-Bug Balm was highly effective in controlling mosquitoes and stables flies for up to one and a half hours post treatment, in terms of 95% repellency. Efficacy remained high up to three and a half hours against mosquitoes and three hours against stable flies.”
Badger’s Anti-Bug Spray and Anti-Bug Sunscreen were both laboratory-tested to determine the efficacy of these products as mosquito repellents. Test results concluded, “The Anti-Bug Spray provided a narrow range of 3 to 4 hours of protection, with an average of 3.4 hours. The Anti-Bug Sunscreen allowed a wider range of 3.5 to 5.5 hours of protection, with an average of 4.1 hours.”

Badger Balm is made in the United States, a Certified B Corporation, and does not test on animals.  The best part is, their products work, are safe to use and have a pleasant aroma, and they are a company that strives to do things the right way.

Please check back as I will update once I have had a bit more use.  I will also be providing a review of their sunscreen products, once we see the sun again.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summer has always meant sun, water and being outdoors.  For some people, the sun brings with it some not so wonderful side effects – like sunburns.  For everyone, too much sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.   I don’t burn easily, but I’ve become more careful about using sunscreen.  Not only to help keep my risk level down, but I try to find sunscreen with moisturizers.  I really don’t like looking like a dried up alligator.

I grew up going barefoot – not that my mother approved, but I never wore shoes unless I had to.  Even as an adult, I don’t wear shoes in the house, and rarely in the yard – that is what the hose is for, right?    I still prefer going barefoot, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.   A few weeks ago, Chaco sent me a pair of sandals to review, and I decided to see if they were a good solution to my desire to not wear shoes during the summer, but still be able to walk anywhere, and go anyplace that didn’t allow bare feet.

What I received:

Z/CLOUD X

DETAILS From: http://www.chacos.com/

“Want your Classic Sandals with pillow-top comfort? Introducing our travel-ready Z/Cloud series, featuring our same custom adjustable double-strap system, performance ChacoGrip™ rubber outsole, and a top layer of ultra-soft PU for instant-cushion underfoot. Every pair of Z/Cloud X comes standard with our podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT™ PU footbed for all-day comfort and support.”

UPPER:

  • Double-strapped polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a customized fit
  • Adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers
  • Injection-molded ladder lock buckle

MIDSOLE:

  • Women’s specific LUVSEAT™ PU midsole
  • Antimicrobial application for odor control
  • Vegan-friendly construction

OUTSOLE:

  • Non-marking ChacoGrip™ rubber compound
  • 3mm lug depth

My Findings:

I’ve worn these sandals for 14 days straight.  I slide them on at 5 a.m. when I get up to take my dogs outside.  They stay on until I go to bed most days.  The first few days I did put on low hikers while working in the garden, thinking I’d keep my feet a bit cleaner – ha! It is easier to wear the sandals, and rinse my feet off than to deal with the dirt that gets inside the hikers.  I like that the Chaco Z/Cloud X are a bit stylish looking – so when I put on a casual skirt, or capris, they still look good.

I’ve done some light hiking with them, and they work out very well.  No slipping on rocks, or leaves.  I’ve worn them to the lake, and its so nice to not be walking on burning hot sand, and be able to walk in and out of the water easily.  The lakes have very rocky bottoms, at least in the shallower parts, and these sandals keep my feet from suffering.

The footbed may be my favorite part – it has a built up instep, which hits the perfect spot on my foot.  It keeps my foot comfortable, and since I am a bit flat footed, it helps support my foot better than most of my shoes.  The bottom of the shoe is not very flexible, which in turn takes some getting used to, but I ended up liking it.  If feels more ‘structured’ and less ‘floppy’, so there is no slipping around on my foot.  The bottom tread provides good traction, even on wet rocks or pavement.

The strapping on the top is easily adjustable, and even when snugged up, the straps never rub uncomfortably against my skin.   I really love these sandals more than I thought I would.  I may never give up going barefoot, but these really are a good alternative.  My feet even stay cleaner…

This picture was taken after we got back from a hike.  Charlie decided to rest near my sandals so he’d know if I went anywhere.

IMG_1973

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you are active outside, and you are a woman, you probably can relate to the following…

What do you wear to be comfortable while being active?    Its hot outside, probably humid too.  A lightweight shirt is good – but what about underneath?  Nothing underneath?  Lucky you!  I’m sure I’m not alone in saying – that is NOT going to happen for me.  I need some support, and I need it to be comfortable.  A regular bra is ‘ok’ if its not too hot out, not too humid, and I’m not doing anything TOO active.  A tough hike? Paddling? Working in the garden?   Yep, I need support, and to be as cool as possible.  I would really like to look decent also.  I’m past the point of cute, but would like to look put together enough that if I ran into someone I wouldn’t feel awkward.  In the old days, a ratty old t-shirt might do, but now there are choices.  What works for you?   Definitely comfort first for me…

Enter Swoob… A new company in Utah, that makes active women’s clothing.  I received three items to review – the Valley Tank Delaine, the Swoob Logo Racer Tank and the Piranha Sports Bra.   I’ll start with the Valley Tank.

The Delaine is a fitted tank, “made with an eco-friendly recycled polyester blend against a breathable power mesh to help keep things cool”.   Just feeling the fabric, I would not have guessed it was a polyester, at least not the ‘old’ type.  This feels almost like a swim knit to me.  It works great while kayaking, and its ability to fight off UV rays really makes it just about perfect.

From the website:

  • Moisture management to absorb and evaporate sweat to keep you comfortable
  • Blocks and absorbs UV-Rays to protect and keep skin healthy
  • Made from recycled poly moss blend weighted at 230 grams
  • No smell, non-irritating fabric
  • Ideal for layering and styling with active wardrobe
  • See-through modest coverage for classy edge

I have to say, I agree with all these claims so far.  I find that perspiration evaporates very quickly, the fabric is non-irritating, and so far, I haven’t noticed any odor from the fabric.  It is fairly modest – with enough coverage  to wear alone while hiking or kayaking.  I personally would probably throw on the Swoob tank over it if stopping at a store after wearing it outdoors, but that is my personal preference.  The Piranha Sports Bra fits under it, making a very good combination of coverage, and support.

 

The Piranha Sports Bra has that fit that makes me forget it’s not a regular bra.  I don’t often like sports bras, because being well endowed, I usually end up looking like I rolled up a towel and stuffed it in my shirt.  Sorry, but they just have never had that combination of fit, comfort and still a somewhat decent look.  The Piranha has changed that.  It is definitely comfortable, fits well and I think it looks good.  I can’t say I’d wear it under a clingy dress up outfit, but for outdoor wear, or under a t-shirt it is fine.  I normally wear  a C cup, but went with the XL, because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too tight.  The fit is perfect!  Maybe sizing up is the key to not feeling squished?    At first I thought the idea of pockets, front and center was a bit odd.  Turns out, I like it.  I know most people would put their phone in the pocket, as the picture demonstrates, but I found that putting a small packet of tissues there was even more convenient.  I have issues with my sinuses in the spring, due to all the pollen and changes in the weather.  Having tissues handy really is a huge plus.  The other two pockets can store a license/ID and another small item.  I like the cross straps in back – they are comfortable, and allow air to circulate a bit more than normal, or wide straps would.  Plus, I think they lend a bit of a feminine look to the bra.

From the Swoob site:

• Three interior pockets stow your smartphone, yoga membership pass, and energy gels without bouncing!

• Includes removable padded inserts for full coverage.

• Smaller cup sizes could use this for high-impact exercise and running, but larger cup sizes will find it more suitable for hiking, yoga, and rock climbing.

• Made of Supplex, a cottony-soft fabric that’s dries fast, resists shrinking, and won’t fade.

• 87% Polyester 13% Spandex.

• Crafted in the USA by a company that focuses on social responsibility and green manufacturing.

• All fabrics bluesign® approved.

Again, their claims are true, as far as I can tell so far.  The bra dries very quickly, provides adequate support (XL size) for hiking, kayaking, and general exercise.  The bra covers all of the breast area, and is high enough on the front and arm holes to keep everything in its place.  One thing I noticed, that at first glance didn’t think I’d like – was the wide back piece.  Turns out, that is one of my favorite parts.  It doesn’t roll, it doesn’t ride up, and its like the anchor that keeps everything in place.  I love being wrong in cases like this!

Now, this may seem silly, but my real favorite is the Swoob Logo Tank.  There have been times that I’ve come in, totally sweaty, dirty and hot and taken a shower, put on the tank and just felt so comfortable.  I have also thrown it on while just wearing the bra or fitted tank and had surprise company.  Its loose, flows nicely and is so soft to the touch.   You could almost forget you were wearing it.  I plan on taking it kayaking, and throwing it on after pulling off whatever wet piece of clothing I’m wearing.  There is enough coverage to wear it just over a sports bra, and it looks like it would be very comfortable after maybe getting a bit too much sun.

I’m impressed by Swoob already.  Their products are well constructed, with attention to detail.  I sew clothing for myself at times, and love how well constructed their products are.  The seams are even and all have a great finish.  Their customer service has been great (sizing information).

Check out Swoob.com, and see these and all their products.

 

I love camping and hiking, and I really love camping and hiking gear!  Doesn’t have to be big and expensive, or super lightweight.  I’m not like some who cut the handle off their toothbrush to save a portion of an ounce.  I like dependable, durable and well, cool gear.   If it is going to be convenient and useful in multiple situations, all the better.

Does anyone remember these:

I know a lot of people used them during prohibition for drinking bootleg alcohol, but they also were popular with hikers.  Back then, you could fill your cup in a stream or other water source and not worry too much about how clean the water was.  They were convenient because they were so easy to carry.  Well, just recently I received a Hydaway Bottle from hydawaybottle.com for review purposes.  Its the new and improved version.   The nicest things about the Hydaway, are that it can open up to two sizes, fold up to about an inch, and it doesn’t leak!

The Hydaway features an easy carry handle, watertight seal, flip-up straw (great for kids) and is FDA certified.  When open to the full 21 oz side, it fits in car cup holders and stands 6 inches tall.   When collapsed to the 12 oz,  4 inch height the base is larger and the cup is much more stable – I think it would be great on a boat.    Its safe to put the Hydaway in the top rack of your dishwasher, but do use to heat liquids in the microwave.

Sometimes, like in the case of the Hydaway Bottle, something ‘old’ can be made even better!

If you’d like to read other reviews of ‘old and new’ products: Like a Memory