June 2, 2014

Changing my views about FOOD

Taking baby steps toward a healthier life is something that's been on my radar for years now. It's something I continually strive to be better at, and as long as I'm making steps in the right direction I can feel pretty positive about it. This journey for me first started when I felt the desire to eliminate toxins from our home by choosing greener cleaning methods, which led to greener body care practices, and beauty practices, and finally eating practices have come to the forefront for me. All of these things just naturally lead into the next, and it's been a fairly easy progression once the ball was rolling. I'm lucky to have a husband who not only fosters my passion for these things, but shares it too! The 'food changes' in our life have been the biggest 'go green' collaboration between us yet- and it's so much fun to have a partner on this journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

While Jake and I still eat meat, it's become much less of the focus of our meals now- and I can honestly say we've never felt better. I have more energy than before, and I truly think foods taste better to me now that I'm eating healthier options. I've noticed when I'm shopping at the grocery store now, I spend a majority of my time in the produce department, and can skip nearly all of the 'middle aisles' before I head over to the dairy & meat sections. The huge selection of Farmers Markets here in Portland has given us an incredible advantage and more control over our diet than ever before.

Some of these changes have come about naturally, while others have been spurred on by me educating myself further. I consider myself a life-long learner and hope you do too. I've done lots of reading, vegan/vegetarian cookbook surfing, and documentary watching- all of which have opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility. I wanted to share some of my favorite documentary resources, and get feedback on your thoughts too.

The documentaries that I've watched have all been from Netflix, so if you've got an account you'll be able to watch these too. If not, sign up for the 30 day free trial and tune in! Many of them are available to watch instantly, one or two are DVD only- I checked these out at our local library.

Super Size Me- A Morgan Spurlock documentary where he eats McDonald's for 30 days and tracks the negative (and deadly!) effects this diet has on his health. Ummm. Yuck!

Fat Sick & Nearly Dead - this was the first 'life changing' documentary that spurred a real change in our lifestyle, including our still on-going juicing habit  This documentary spurred our 'healthy eating' kick for sure.

Forks over Knives - another fascinating flick. Forks Over Knives looks at the claim that most of the degenerative diseases that afflict us these days can be controlled or reversed by removing processed and animal-based foods from our diet. Some of the testimonials in this film are incredible!

Hungry for Change- this one is the most scientific of the documentaries I've listed. I got lost in some of the nitty gritty details, but found the information to be valuable still.

Vegucated- This is a great one for those of you 'on the fence' about some of these topics. Three meat-eaters in NY are challenged to go vegan for 6 weeks. The changes in their bodies, mentality, and over all approach to feeding their bodies is really incredible. I loved this one- it really demonstrates the power that our bodies have to heal when given the right 'fuel' and it's also proof that our tastes change based on what we're putting into our bodies.


Have you personally watched any of these documentaries? Did you enjoy them? Did you hate them? Did you learn something?? 

I would love to know your thoughts on this- as I work through my own thoughts and continue to make changes I'm sure I'll have lots more to share!

May 22, 2014

Melanopeel Skin Clarity System & Derma Roller Review

I was recently asked to review MelanoPeel Clarity Skincare system, a brand I'd never heard of before. But after a bit of online snooping about what they are and how they worked I couldn't wait to sign up! I've never had terrible skin luckily, even as a teen, but that doesn't mean that there aren't ways my skin could improve. I've noticed some changes in my skin since moving to Portland and being in this new environment (+ getting older) and I was excited to see if this skin clarity system could help me achieve better looking skin. 

After a personal skincare consultation where I answered several questions (via email) it was suggested I use the Acne Clear Complexion Starter Kit which is a 4 piece kit containing: 

The Melanopeel skin clarity system is:
  • antibacterial
  • anti-oxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • sebostatic
  • promotion of collagen & elastin formation
  • promotion of favorable bio-electrical balance within skin
I also was sent:
Let me just say, the skincare kit is amazing! It's literally as simple as 1-2-3 (and sometimes 4) It's recommended to use the cleanser and toner once each day- so I use the Melanopeel system in the morning. I love the silver bag that it came in (below) we traveled the first two weekends I was using this kit, and it was simple to just throw the entire bag in my suitcase. 

First I use the cleanser (sometimes with the facial cloth, sometimes not). I love it because it feels exfoliating and my face always feels truly clean afterwards. I'd equate it to a baking soda scrub- really gentle, but you can feel it scrubbing, and it feels good! It's a pretty seafoam green color too. Clarity cleanser contains Green Tea, brightening Vitamin C, Pomegranate, and refreshing fruit antioxidants.

Then I use the toner. The toner  is one that you can really feel working, it doesn't sting but makes my face feel warm. According to their website the Clarity Toner:
  • Brightens skin
  • Fades discolorations
  • Helps improve melasma
  • Evens out skin-tone
  • Clears acne with it's antibacterial mandelic acid
  • Treats razor bumps / Ingrown hairs
  • Controls oily skin
  • Dissolves black & whiteheads
  • Refines pores
I'm not going to argue with any of that! 

Next is the acne gel- to be used as a spot treatment. The acne gel smells mildly of peppermint and is (wow!) actually really effective. Super happy with the results I've seen so far for a few trouble spots in the dreaded T-zone. Ignore my creepy eyes below- instead- look at my glowing skin!! :) The acne gel contains botanical oil inhibitors, and a proprietary blend of salicylic acid and antibacterial botanical phytosterol sebostatic ingredients.

As a last step I use the skin lightening and clarifying day serum. I love how hydrating this is, and it's so light on the skin. After this has had a chance to soak in, I apply a product containing SPF protection because this system does not contain any. This makes my skin feel just incredible- I absolutely love love love it!

So then, step #4 from above is using the dermal roller. I'm not going to lie, I was sorta scared about this part. I mean they don't call it a microneedle roller and have you expect there are no needles involved right? There are LOTS of little needles involved, but each is thinner than an eyelash. The Melanopeel roller comes in it's own sterilized bag (huge plus!) that you have to rip open a la hospital style- this is a Class 1 medical device. It also has a hard case for storing the roller in between uses- I love this because it's portable AND I'm not scared I'm going to poke myself picking it up :) 

I used the Melanopeel skincare system (cleanser, toner, acne gel + lightening serum) for 3 1/2 weeks before using the dermal roller at all because I wanted to give it a true test of effectiveness... ok-ok I admit it, and because I was a little intimated by the microneedle roller. But then I watched about 15 minutes of youtube video on the dermal roller, realized it was really no big deal, and got to it. It really was no big deal- promise!  Also, now I'm obsessed :) 

The reason a micro needle roller works is because it actually lightly damages your skin. This forces your skin to go into a 'recovery mode' of sorts- producing elastin and collagen. These firm your facial skin, and also work to rid your skin of imperfections like: acne scars, sun spots, reducing scars, reducing fine lines & wrinkles. I could use a little help in each of these departments :) 

After skin needling, I learned it was essential to let my skin rest for 30 seconds. Since I wanted to take an immediate after photo that wasn't a problem. But then I finished things off with a nourishing dose of the dermal recovery serum which is able to penetrate deeper because of the micro wounds created by the dermal roller. My face felt incredible at this point. The Dermal Recovery Serum is a thicker serum that I use each time I'm done micro needling, but also sometimes at the end of the skin clarity system as well. The Dermal Recover Serum is 100% ultra-pure certified organic Argan Oil. It helps to restore your skin with a nutritionally rich blend of essential omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, vitamin E, vitamin F, and potent anti-oxidants.

After about 10 minutes, redness started setting in on my cheeks and a bit of my forehead, but it didn't hurt or anything. My face was red in a few places for several hours later, and I had three tiny spots that bled (less than a mosquito bite) which is all normal.

The next morning though? Everything was back to normal, and my skin looked firm, plump, and glowing! I loved it so much I was ready to do it again the next day, however, dermal rolling is something you should limit to once a week. So that's what I intend to do. I'm excited to see some of the long term results of the dermal roller and plan to update you on any progress/changes that I experience with its use.

It's also worth noting- handsome hubby was out of town the weekend I tried this out. I picked him up from the airport the following day (after dermal rolling) and while we were out for lunch he mentioned that my skin was looking great- NOT even joking. He's the best- and it made me love MelanoPeel products just a wee bit more haha!

If you've got further questions on any of the products from MelanoPeel products, they have an extensive Q/A section that will explain the answer to many questions you may have. MelanoPeel has their own youtube channel full of great info and demonstrations as well! Their facebook, pinterest, & twitter pages have some great testimonials and info as well. Even reality tv celebrity Cynthia Bailey (Real Housewives of Atlanta) loves MelanoPeel products, here she is tweeting about it!

Now you  know I'm dying to know...have any of you ever tried micro needling?? How about MelanoPeel products?? 

I was sent the products listed above for review purposes and an honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review or provide positive feedback in any way- all thoughts and opinions are exclusively my own based of my personal experience with this skin care system. 

Because I know there are further improvements to come with my skin as I keep using this system and microneedling regularly, I thought I'll pop back in a few months for a side by side shot with some good time in between them. I have a few less than perfect spots I've been keeping my eye on and can't wait to see some further results! 

April 30, 2014

Tropical Traditions Raw Canadian Honey (Review & Giveaway!)

This is the first product other than their amazing coconut oil, that I've tried from Tropical Traditions. I gotta say though, they're two for two in the Jenkins house- this honey is awesome. I can't ever go back to the 'honey bear' kind from the store after this. Consider me a honey snob ;)

This honey is unlike any honey you're getting at the grocery store. Instead of being liquid, and at least somewhat pour-able this is some solid honey! If used in cooking, you'll need to soften it with heat first, but we've had no issue incorporating this into any recipe we've tried (and we don't have a microwave!)

My favorite way to use it though? To sweeten my tea. I scoop out a clump and put it in the bottom of my mug before I add the tea bag, a squeeze of lemon, and hot water. A quick stir later and I'm sipping away while I work.

You may notice on the jar up there that it mentions 'raw', 'wild', and 'unprocessed'. Things we're probably not used to seeing in association with our honey- so allow me to explain and share a few details:

"Tropical Traditions Organic Raw Honey has not been subjected to the heat of processing, only warmed enough to flow (same temperatures the honey would see inside the hive). It contains live yeast and enzymes, because it has not been processed. It also contains pollen because it has not been filtered-merely screened. Tropical Traditions sources its honey from hives in the wild frontier areas of Canada. These regions are a rich source of wild vegetation that produce some of the finest honey in the world." -from Tropical Traditions
I'll be the first to admit this isn't the only 'raw honey' out there- there are many. But I firmly believe in the Tropical Traditions company, and instill a lot of trust and value in their products. They are extremely up front about the sourcing of their materials, and have wonderful customer service. Even though this is my first experience with raw honey, I would buy no other. If you still don't believe me, check out the testimonials page and see what others are saying about it! In my humble opinion Tropical Traditions is the best place to get Virgin Coconut Oil AND organic raw honey now. 

I've also used this honey to create a simple two-ingredient face mask, and I have a recipe coming up next month where we plan to use the honey as a basis for a new cocktail- excited!! Perhaps some rigorous cocktail recipe testing is in order this weekend ;)

So now that I've sung the praises of this honey, and told you my favorite ways to use it...who want's to win some for themselves??? Thanks to the generosity of Tropical Traditions, I have one jar to give away to a very lucky reader!

Giveaway details:
THE PRIZE: One (1) 17.6 oz jar of Tropical Traditions Organic Canadian Raw Honey.  
MANDATORY ENTRY: Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Newsletter via email here (we will be verifying that the winner IS subscribed to this list before announcing & giving away the prize)
BONUS ENTRIES: (You MUST leave a separate comment for EACH bonus entry you wish to obtain- the comments will be sorted through Random.org for a winner, the more comments you have the more entries you've obtained! I will be DELETING comments that do not include the correct or appropriate information so they do not throw off the final count)
1. “Like’ JustAWhimsicalWorld on facebook (come back and leave a separate comment that you do-)
2. ‘Like’ Tropical Traditions on facebook (come back here and leave a comment that you did
3. Follow JustAWhimsicalWorld on twitter (then leave a comment here with your twitter handle)
4. Follow Tropical Traditions on twitter (and comment please & thank you!)
GIVEAWAY RUNS: April 30th 2014- May 14th 2014 at 10pm PST. 
PRIZE SHIPS: United States & Canada
RULES: Winner will be randomly selected using a random number generator (random.org) and will be announced in a blog post as well as on our facebook page. No purchase is necessary for entry.
If you're interested in ordering raw honey or coconut oil for yourself, please feel free to do so through this link. A portion of your purchase will support Just A Whimsical World at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting brands that make Just A Whimsical World possible :) If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. All opinions, as always, are exclusively my own and I only share products here that I think my readers would truly love. 

April 13, 2014

Open Sesame

Have you ever used the Sesame app? Jake and I use & love it for special occasions. We were first introduced through my mother in law- she's all tech savvy like that- and used to send us care packages through Sesame when Jake was in grad school.

Jake & I have since used it several times to send each other gifts when we were apart- and have always found it to be a wonderfully curated service. Several times we've done their 'snacky ones' and everything has always been tasty & fun.

Let me preface this all by saying that Sesame has no idea who I am. I am writing this review because this is a product that we truly use and love. I recently had an incredible experience with Sesame that only reaffirmed my convictions.

So Jake's in Saudi Arabia, and his sweet self decides to send me a gift via Sesame because sending anything to/from Saudi is damn near impossible.

On the day the box arrives I see it on the doorstep and recognize the blue box immediately. Yay! I didn't know who it was from, but sorta assumed Jake. As you can see, Scootie cannot wait to open this ;D

Open, Sesame. One of my favorite parts. Have I mentioned I love the little things?! 

The little gold 'Hello' card is always included, and contains the message from the sender as well as a QR code that you can scan with the Sesame app to send a thank you note to the sender and confirm you've received your gift. 

 This box is called 'The San Francisco Treat' and it contains a DIY Herb Terrarium Kit, VW notebook, and a chunky coffee soap. My hubby knows me so well :)

So I used the soap immediately and it was amazing. Several days later I went to put together my terrarium and was saddened to realize that although it had been packed incredibly well, that the glass had completely shattered in transit. 

I was pretty sad. I looked up their policies online and saw that you can return a box if things are unused. Already used soap-whoops. I figured I'd email them anyway and see what happened. I included a photo of the shattered glass terrarium.

Color me surprised when customer service got back to me quickly and graciously. After a few questions, they'd tracked down and confirmed Jake's order and sent me an entirely new box. Way more than I expected. I would have been happy with a new terrarium, and honestly wasn't expecting anything. Getting two of those luxurious soaps made my week so much better!

So if you're ever in need of a great gift for a loved one- check out Sesame. They've got some lovely, thoughtful gifts at tons of different price points- as low as $10! You can follow them on facebook or twitter for occasional deals & specials.

April 10, 2014

DIY Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Here's me, still on the beauty kick- and lovin' it. This time I wanted to make a nourishing hair mask with supplies I had in the pantry. So I popped onto pinterest and started browsing recipes. Coconut and olive oil quickly became top contenders, and because you know my affinity to coconut oil already (AND it smells delicious) I was basically sold. Plus, two ingredient hair mask- couldn't be simpler!  

Add equal parts coconut oil and olive oil to a small dish. *If I had a microwave, this is the part where I would have melted the coconut oil just a tiny bit, but I don't-so I didn't- classic case of 'do as I say, not as I do' :)*

Here's my 'before' hair. I crack up at my face in this photo ;) 

No DIY coconut oil venture is complete in the Jenkins household without everyone's favorite trusty coconut oil lovin' assistant Bear! 

If you used a microwave yours won't have the chunks like mine does below. Then again, you probably don't have a 55 lb hairy coconut oil gobbling machine at your feet ready to catch any chunks that go falling- so you know- enter at your own risk. (I'm only using a glove so that I can attempt to still take photos without greasing up my phone!)

So I gathered my hair on top in a bun and poured my coconut oil hair mask on little by little, using the gloves to work into the roots, ends, and everywhere in between. It was actually not messy at all, and even though mine had some chunks, they pretty much melted. It was smelling really good at this point! 

Once my hair was saturated, and my bowl empty I just wrapped my hair in an old towel and let it soak in for about 45 minutes. Then I showered- shampooing and conditioning as usual.

And then because the dog still doesn't think he's had enough coconut oil- let him lick out the dish. Make sure he shares with his brother some too. 

My hair felt great for days afterwards! This is something I'd love to do weekly, but it's probably more realistic that it'll happen monthly. I think this is something men/women and children can all enjoy- it's not particularly 'girly' and does leave your hair feeling great and healthy.

Have you ever made a hair mask treatment at home? Have you had one done professionally in the salon? Would you ever put coconut and olive oils onto your hair? 

April 6, 2014

Homemade Carpet Freshener

If' I've said it once, I've said it a million times. I really love a simple little project like this, 15 minutes or less, checking them off the 'to-do' list feels oh-so satisfactory!

This quick & simple project was something I whipped up this weekend to help deodorize our carpet before I vacuum. The supplies are simple: a mason jar (or other) w/lid, baking soda, lavender essential oil, labeling tools. In my case, the chalkboard labels and markers were in my craft stash, the baking soda in my pantry, and the lavender oil in my Young Living Oils kit. Lavender is an essential in our house! The chalkboard labels were $3.99 and the chalkboard markers $11.99 fro Hobby Lobby when I purchased them over a year ago- but I know you know to never buy anything at Hobby Lobby without that sacred 40% off coupon ;) (They let you use it from your phone now too!)

 So I feel almost silly typing out a tutorial for this. I filled the jar partway with baking soda. Added 3 drops of lavender oil, and topped it with an equal amount of baking soda. Three more drops of lavender- add the cap- and shake, shake, shake!

I made mine right on the carpet, because I obviously didn't care if I spilled a bit. I also saved punching the holes in the cap for the end so I didn't make a HUGE mess while getting my shake on. 

I'll also plan to use this carpet refreshing mixture to freshen up our mattress several times a year as well. When we've already got the sheets off for washing, I'll just sprinkle some on\ & let it sit for at least an hour, and vacuum away before putting sheets back on. 

Next time I might try this recipe using lemon essential oil next time- it's my favorite- I cannot get enough. 

Have you been making any homemade cleaning products lately? Do you love essential oils like I do? We have a diffuser now- it's been revolutionary- and I plan to share more on that before too long! 

March 30, 2014

Two Ingredient-All Natural Face Scrub

Simple, natural, organic beauty & skincare is what I'm all about these days. Working on establishing an awesome skincare routine is a huge goal of mine this year- and what better time to focus on that then now, while my hubby is away? I've been experimenting with some new products, and trying some things at home (like bodybrushing!!). One thing I do know when it comes to skin care products is- the fewer ingredients the better. I find these natural homemade treatments are gentle yet effective, and there is no greater feeling than knowing exactly what you're putting on your skin and body.

My journey toward a greener beauty routine has been going on consistently since my college days. Starting with a transition to organic makeup, a greener shower routine, to switching to organic moisturizers, and incorporating body brushing into my skincare routine. It's a baby-steps sort of process.

(Image Source)

You guys know that I drink a lot of orange infused water. I don't like to use the ends of the orange soaked in the water though-so I find other ways to use them. Often, I'll shove an end down the garbage disposal as it's a great cleaner and smells wonderful!

Other times, I'll smear some honey on it, and take it to the shower with me. The warmth of the shower melts the honey just slightly and then I begin. Scrubbing the orange and honey against my face, inhaling the citrus scent. Both honey and citrus have some great skin-saving properties. The acids in the oranges are so great for exfoliation!

  • Antibacterial-great for acne treatment/prevention
  • Anti-aging- full of antioxidants, honey slows down signs of aging
  • Boost- moisturizing & soothing, gives your skin a glow
  • Clarifying- opens up pores, making them easier to cleanse
  • Naturally occurring vitamin C- boosts collagen production in skin
  • Wrinkle fighting- for maximum effect, get doses of Vitamin C both internally & externally
  • Improves circulation
  • Lightens skin (dark patches, scar tissue)
Are you a fan of DIY skincare remedies? Do you have a favorite scrub or mask recipe? I'd love for you to share! 
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