Trader Joe’s Beauty Products; Better for Your Health?

      A couple of years ago I came to realize that most soaps, lotions, and other beauty products sold in stores today contain a lot of worrisome ingredients. Seeing lists of common ingredients and what the chemicals in them can do to your health made me want to look for safer alternatives. Since Trader Joe’s sells a lot of affordable, natural products, I wanted to take a closer look at the ingredients in their soaps and lotions. In this post I will review some of these products, list their ingredients, and highlight those that might be of concern. There may also be other harmful ingredients that are not familiar to me, but at least I will show you some of the big ones.  There are few regulations regarding what can be added to personal care products, so I have learned to check ingredient lists, even on “all natural” or organic products, which can sometimes be far from natural or safe! Pure Haven Essentials (former Ava Anderson Non Toxic) has a convenient list of chemicals to avoid that I also have seen listed on multiple other reputable websites.  I used to have a link to their list, but after they changed their website I can no longer find it. However, here’s the same list written down by another blogger, for you check out.   Need more information? Some links to helpful articles and websites: This article from Huffington Post explains the concern really well and includes several excellent links to more information, studies etc. And here’s another great article […] Read more »

20 Favorite ALDI Products List, Quality for Less

      When an ALDI discount grocery store opened up in our area, I decided to compare some prices and check out various products. I came up with a Top 20 list of my favorites products, plus a couple other lists that I hope others will find helpful as well. In general, from what I’ve found, ALDI’s groceries are much lower in price than foods from our “regular” supermarket, and cheaper by far if compared to smaller grocery stores. Other stores can sometimes have sales that are better than ALDI’s regular prices, especially if you combine with coupons, but then again, ALDI actually run weekly sales as well, and these prices are outstanding! I think some of ALDI’s products are not only inexpensive, but downright better than their counterparts from other stores! If you happen to have a Trader Joe’s near you (known for products with healthier ingredients), check out this post on reviews of, and ingredients in their beauty products! The ingredients are looked at in light of chemicals to avoid, and how safe these products seem to be compared to those from regular super markets.  ALDI and Trader Joe’s have different owners but from the same family. One thing to be aware of is that ALDI is a smaller grocery store; some of their products are available only at certain times, so if a product is all of a sudden no longer available, you may very well find […] Read more »

Making a Tracing Light Box in Seconds, Using Flashlight

DIY Tracing Light Box, Using Flash Light

Seeing my son being tempted to put a sheet of paper onto a flat-screen computer monitor to trace a picture, I felt inspired to make him a tracing light box instead. I explained to him that the monitor surface would scratch if he used it to trace, and tracing is what he wanted to do. Remembering a pin on Pinterest, I decided to make a light box by using what we already had on hand, and I came up with this simple solution: A tracing box made from a clear bin and a flashlight! In a matter of seconds I simply put a flashlight standing inside a clear plastic container, and the light shining through made the picture visible through the sheet of paper placed on top. When looking at my bins, I found that most of them had edges or ridges on the bottom that would make tracing difficult. But I also found that using the sides of a medium sized plastic container worked perfectly! Instead of tracking down a light bulb on a cord to make one like the pin on pinterest suggested, I just stuck a flashlight inside. A shorter flashlight that spreads the light out more evenly across the box would probably have improved the light box, but using what we had took seconds and worked quite well. My son did move the flashlight around a little bit to better light up the areas he was […] Read more »

Front Loading Washing Machines, Pros & Cons

    Growing up in Norway, front loading washing machines were extremely common. In fact, to my knowledge, they were the only machines available in our area at the time, and I believe them to be the norm in several other European countries even today. These front loaders would usually take an hour or more to complete a cycle, and the water was heated by electricity. You could heat the water as high as 90 degrees C (194 F), which is 10 degrees C away from boiling (212 F). When I moved to the United States, I was surprised to find that not only could the water not be heated as high, but the cycles were typically done in a half hour. For me, that just doesn’t cut it for certain loads, like bedding or underwear. When my husband and I moved to a new house and had to purchase a new washer, we decided to get a front loader. The reasons behind this decision was past experience, and information we found through research. The pros we found with front loaders, were: Front loaders often have the option of much longer cycles than top loaders, which can help significantly in getting a load clean. They clean better as a result of the position and design of the drum. The drum sits in a vertical position rather than horizontal, so clothing spins and drops down into the water as they reach […] Read more »

Dinner Menu Planning to Reduce Stress in Busy Households

  Dinnertime can be a stressful time of day in an active household. To try to run this busy time more smoothly, I have found that a planned menu is very helpful. I first tried a similar system a few years ago, and failed, but the adjustments I have made since then have been very helpful for our family. The way I tackled it the first time did not work, and here’s why: I created a large menu plan that would repeat once we reached the end of it. We would then start over from the beginning instead of going through the effort of making a new menu. I created a menu that extended over 7 weeks, to give us variety. It turned out that 7 weeks was not enough time between certain dishes, and we got really tired of dishes that we used to enjoy. We have found that we can eat some meals quite often without ever going tired of them, while others are only enjoyed if served infrequently. Another problem was that over the course of several months, our daily schedule changed too much to work with the current menu. I also found that the amount of leftovers changed as our young kids grew and ate larger portions. All in all, too many adjustments needed to be made, and it became too complicated to continue. The new menu plan that works for me! What does work for […] Read more »

Homemade Tear-Free Eye Makeup remover; Easy, Save Big Money

I have tried several brands of eye make-up removers. Some brands were cheap, and some expensive. They all had one thing in common: if I got some of it in my eye, which is inevitable when removing make-up from eyes, it wasn’t pleasant. Some of them down-right stung, which seems odd when you consider what they were made for; the eyes! Using plain water doesn’t work, of course, and soap stings as well. There is a solution to the problem, however, and the solution is not to go to the department store to purchase the most expensive bottle you can find. It is simply to make it yourself, using a product readily available at any grocery store, or may already be in your bathroom if you have a young child: Baby shampoo, or baby wash! (Amazon carries them as well, such as the one in this link.) Baby shampoo is made to be tear-free, and though not 100% neutral when in the eyes, at least it’s more gentle on eyes than anything else I’ve ever tried. It also works great for removing sticky mascara or other eye make-up. I have made my own for years now, and saved a lot of money. When I first heard about it, I jumped to the idea! It was brilliant! And I simply re-use my old Mary Kay eye make-up remover bottle, though any bottle will be fine. Air plane cosmetic bottles can often […] Read more »

Save Money on Easy Homemade Baby Wipes! Versatile Recipe

    Babies are cute and cuddly, so very sweet! They do, however, need a good clean-up now and again, and baby wipes can come in very handy. Purchasing ready-made baby wipes can really add to the price of having a baby, so when had my first baby and heard about making homemade baby wipes, I jumped right to the idea. I tried them, and never looked back. I was sold! It is now several years ago since the youngest of my three kids was in diapers, but I decided to make a batch again to show you how, then donated them to a friend who has a little one. Baby wipes can be used by the whole family, whether you have a child in diapers or not, for freshening up or keep in the car for a quick clean-up when out and about. Some benefits to making your own, is of course the money you save, for starters; your highest cost will be the paper towel roll, which will (depending on the size and brand) give you 200-300 wipes per big roll. The ingredients you add cost very little. I will explain in a little bit. First, I would like to point out that with this recipe, you can pick and choose which ingredients you want to use, so that you can adapt the recipe to fit your individual baby’s needs. Some infants are very sensitive to fragrances, and […] Read more »

Saving Money by Making Your Own Liquid Foam Soap Refill

    Foam soap dispensers are fun to use, but refills can be pricey; especially if you consider how cheap it is to make your own refills. That’s right, not only can you refill the inexpensive plastic bottles from Dial, Soft Soap, and other brands, but you can quickly and easily make your own and save a lot of money. In addition, you can color the refill to match your decor, if you so choose! It doesn’t take a crafty, creative, domestic person to do it. It is easier than making pancake batter from a box! First off, I’ll explain what the advantage is to using foam rather than regular liquid hand soap: When you use foam, you use much less soap to get the same job done. Regular dispensers usually give you more soap per pump than you really need, while the foam uses diluted soap to give you fun foam to wash with. This is especially nice for families with young kids, as little hands need very little soap, yet a regular dispenser gives much more than needed, even for adult hands. Using foam saves you money right from the get-go, then in addition, you can save more money by making it yourself. It is also fun to use, also an advantage when you try to instill in kids that they need to wash after bathroom visits. When making my own foam soap refill, I start by purchasing […] Read more »

List writer? Save it to help you in future planning

Lists. I love them, I need them, I write them. For everything. Whether it be for errands, to-do at home, list of questions for the doctor, things to bring when going to the beach; you name it. Often times I write out a list right then and there before a given task, just like many other people do as well. Other times I simply print out a list that I have saved from a previous time. These print-outs have been such a great help, a real stress reducer as I just follow the directions and don’t have to do so much planning and thinking. I will touch on two of these types of lists in this post. List 1 Vacation time Before you go on vacation, there’s lots to do, lots to remember. While busily packing and preparing for one of our trips, trying desperately not to forget anything, I simply decided that this amount of work and stress was not worth repeating over and over every time we go on vacation. Why re-invent the wheel? I had already written down everything I believed we needed for our trip, and in addition I also had a list going of things we needed to do before we left, such as: empty the trash, clean out refrigerator to get rid of perishable foods, make arrangements for mail and our cat etc. For packing, there’s the usual; clothing and toiletries,  in addition to […] Read more »

Prevent Washer Build-Up; Alternatives to Softeners

There were times in the past when I felt tempted to stop strangers on the street to ask them what type of fabric softener they used. They’d walk past me, and their clothing smelled so fresh and clean! I would have loved to know what the scent was so I could go get a bottle of it for myself. That’s until I found out that a lot of people experience gunk and buildup in their washing machines due to fabric softeners, which over time can cause problems such as mold and smell. I have had a smelly machine in the past, and there was nothing I could do to get rid of it; the smell could sometimes go away for a couple of weeks if I used products to eliminate smell, but it would always return. Instead of my laundry room smelling nicely of clean clothing, detergents and softeners, it smelled dirty. And the smell came from the machine, there was no doubt about it. When I got my new machine, there was no smell, and as I found out about the possibility of softeners being a culprit, I decided I wouldn’t chance it. I had to find an alternative method to softening my clothes. Downy! Oh, how much I loved the scent on my clothing when using Downy laundry softener!  Before I knew anything about buildup and smell, I used it regularly, until we had a repair-man over for […] Read more »