Beauty Rhi-view: Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

Winter and my hair don't get along. At all. The air here in Montana is dry all year round but winter air is the worst (and for us, it's been 'winter' for about 6 weeks now). Harsh winds leave your hair snarly and stripped when you're outside and subzero temperatures mean a running furnace so your hair gets static-buildup inside. To combat the horror that is having super fine but thick hair I started shampooing only every other day many winters ago. The trouble with skipping a shampoo though is that my scalp is working overtime to keep itself from drying out and goes bonkers on the oil production. By mid-day on a shampoo day my hair is a flat, shiny, and stringy mess at the roots... but is still fly-away and dry everywhere else.

Last year I bought my first can of dry shampoo in hopes of finding a solution to the second day horror. The big problem... it had a horrible smell that lingered not only on my hair but in my bathroom. My husband isn't one to comment on that sort of thing and even he said something. Not one to be wasteful I have continued to use it, but I've been unimpressed with the results and the stench just ruined any chance I'd buy it again.

Just a week before the #VioletVoxbox came out I had been researching more dry shampoo products in hopes of finding a new brand that had good reviews and no smell. Talk about serendipitous when I cracked open my Violet Voxbox and found Not Your Mother's Clean Freak—the one I had decided to try next right there in the box!

And I ♥ it! Not only is it unscented, the finish is a very light matte so it doesn't give my hair that funny dusty looking halo my other brand had. It's ridiculously easy to use and not only sops up the greasies, it provides a nice lift at the roots too.

Earlier this week one of our children had a holiday concert at school and I was stuck with second-day hair so I decided to snap a few quick pics to show you guys my 5 minute quick fix using Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo.

Step 1. Spray Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo generously throughout roots, focusing on your greasiest areas (mine is my part) and specifically the crown. Do NOT brush or comb yet!!!

Step 2. Whip it all up into a clip at the top of your head and find something to do for about 3-4 minutes. In this case I touched up my day makeup and put on some eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipgloss really quick.

Step 3. Flip your head upside down, un-clip it, then brush out your hair, holding your head upside down while you do so for extra volume.

Step 5. Flip your head back up and, if needed, comb your roots a bit more. Style more if desired.

I forgot to take a before photo but as you can see by the finished result... you'd never know I hadn't washed my hair in about 30 hours. Not only are the greasies tamed, my roots have added volume (my hair lays FLAT when it's this close to a regular shampoo) and most importantly, it didn't make my hair drier at the ends after I brushed it out. The secret is to make sure you're focusing on the roots since your scalp oils are the heart of why you're probably using dry shampoo.

I will definitely be making the permaswitch to Clean Freak and recommend it for my fellow fine haired ladies suffering from the unpleasant combination of dry hair and a greasy scalp. Now I might have to look into other products from Not Your Mother's because I'm also in the market for a new hairspray brand. ☺

Note: I received this product through Influenster's Voxbox program which provides members with free products in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions shared here are my own and not influenced by the freeness of the product. If you'd like to know more about how Influenster works please visit their website.


Fashion Rhi-flection: Dr. Scholl's for Her High Heel Insoles

It's no secret that at my height, I tower over most guys. But the one I tower over the worst is the one I married. He's half a foot shorter than I am. We're okay with it, but getting stared at whenever we go out and I wear heels gets really old. Which means I rarely wear them and when I do, my feet usually pay for it by hurting something fierce.

Last summer when he was part of a wedding party for one of our closest friends I decided I'd get some cute heels to wear with my dress that were the color the wedding party were wearing since I figured we'd have a few pictures together. But OMG they hurt so much just walking around at home to break them in.

So I bought my first pair of Dr. Scholl's for Her High Heel Inserts to make them comfortable. (Aren't my shoes so cute? You can barely tell the inserts are there!). Not only did they make them bearable, they weren't obvious in my extra pair of heels that are super strappy and open toed.

Alas, our daughter got very sick the day before the wedding and I didn't get to attend it but I've since enjoyed my heels in comfort without sacrificing style

When Influenster sent out the Sunkissed Voxbox I was super happy because I had just bought a new pair of wedges for summer on sale and one wearing was enough to make me want to shove them in the closet.

See? Practically invisible!

I wish I could say with honesty that I've spent a night out dancing in them or shopped 'til I dropped with my feet comfortable but we haven't had a lot of opportunity this summer. I can only say that I'm uncool and wore them to the movies and around the house a bit. Here's hoping I get more use of this pair next summer. I think they're a pretty classic style... what do you think?

If you ever wear heels I can't recommend these inserts enough! They've become a wardrobe staple for ALL of my high heeled shoes.

Note: I received this product through Influenster's Voxbox program which provides members with free products in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions shared here are my own and not influenced by the freeness of the product. If you'd like to know more about how Influenster works please visit their website.


Beauty Rhi-flection: Sinful Colors Sinful Shine Nail Polish

Finally had some free time and a ride so I could pop into Walgreens and check out the other SinfulShine polishes. Naturally, the one I really wanted—All The Rage—was sold out. I did decide there were more of them I liked than I had thought based on the card that came in my Voxbox.

Rebel is a brown shade that reminds me of sand when it's wet, Picante is a bit of an orangey-red, Rendezvous is a gorgeous minty-blue-green, and Mardi Gras is a pretty soft coral color. At only $2.99 that's a pretty good deal and some really trendy colors, especially if you love blues.

I had received Devious in my Sunkissed Voxbox and while I love the tomato red hue it keeps staining my nails even through a basecoat. :( I can't seem to figure out how to stop it. If you don't mind the staining it is a great red shade for you red lovers! If you're not into scarlet manis I think it's an even better pedi shade, especially for fair skinned girls like me.

Note: I received this product through Influenster's Voxbox program which provides members with free products in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions shared here are my own and not influenced by the freeness of the product. If you'd like to know more about how Influenster works please visit their website.


Beauty Rhi-flection: Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics

  • Soft, stretchy material that looks beautiful on the wrist or in the hair!

  • From America’s #1 elastics brand, Goody® Ouchless®

  • Unique knot style hair ties are perfect for personalizing or dressing up your look.

  • Who out there would have a panic session if they were caught without a hair tie? I know I do. I'm in dire need of a haircut right now and so it's been braids, buns, and ponytails for months now. Gotta keep this mop in control ya know?

    I've been a Goody fan since I can remember. I just love their Ouchless Elastics so when I saw the new Ribbon Elastics in the store I almost bought them. But they only had them in the variety I received in the Sunkissed Voxbox and I'm just not a big pink and purple fan. At about $4 for 5 they're a pretty good buy over the really pricey ones I've seen in salons though.

    I like them most because they don't leave creases in my hair while still having pretty good hold. Even if they get wet... like in my pool day braids at right. Great for casual everyday uses but easily dressed up for those high ponies that are really popular right now.

    I recently found out I needed a photo for promotional purposes for my business so I panicked. My hair is just too insane lately and I haven't had the extra cash to get my hair cut by the only person I'll let touch it. Since I'd just got my #SunVoxBox and had the Ouchless Ribbon Elastics to play with I figured I'd attempt a sleek high pony.

    I learned how to do it from a magazine and couldn't believe how easy it is! 

    Separate the top section of hair and pull the rest into a high pony. Divide the top section into two parts and curl each at the roots to give it lift. Spritz on hairspray and then wrap it around the other pony, keeping it high. Curl the ends and voila... a very grown-up ponytail.

    See how nice my photo ready hair turned out? Pretty huh?

    Unlike every other elastic I've used in this style these didn't give that pulling sensation that results in a headache as the day goes by. I also love that they're comfortable on your wrist too. I usually have some kind of hair tie on mine if I'm not wearing my hair up because I have so much hair. You've just gotta be able to get it out of the way quick sometimes.

    How cute are these mixed in with some of my favorite bracelets?

    I really hope they start getting some more colors and maybe some cute prints out in stores. I was trying to think what I'd most want and I definitely want neons! I've been getting into neons again this summer, the bright hues just pop with my dark hair and they're cheerful. I'd love leopard or ombre ones too. If you could find colors or prints you'd like in Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics what ones would you want?

    Note: I received this product through Influenster's Voxbox program which provides members with free products in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions shared here are my own and not influenced by the freeness of the product. If you'd like to know more about how Influenster works please visit their website.


    Being RhiAlistic: Making healthy life changes... a manifesto, of sorts...

    I'm not sure where to really start writing this post.

    You see... I was the skinny girl. Growing up I recall always being the tallest kid in class and getting teased with nicknames like 'bean pole'. I didn't mind it so much. Maybe it was because my mom frequently talked about being harassed for her buck teeth and the physically abusive elementary school teacher she'd had. Or perhaps it was seeing the physical and mental scars my stepdad had from years of bullying for his gigantic glasses and lanky frame. Compared to their situations, getting my feelings hurt for a physical state I had no control over didn't seem right.

    It really didn't bother me a lot to be teased for it. The part that bothered me was how hyper-aware the actions of others made me feel about my body. My 'fat friends'—because somehow I was always friends with 'the fat girl'—would say things like 'oh you're so skinny' with longing in their voices. I felt guilty that through some genetic lottery I had a body type that was envied and coveted. Worse yet was the fact that I was asthmatic, slow, and very clumsy. I could eat whatever I wanted in copious amounts and never show a shred of evidence for it.

    But the truth was, we didn't have junk food or sweets at home. My stepdad's idea of dessert was cold cereal—and not the yummy, sugary kinds either! I developed this really horrid habit when I'd visit my paternal grandparents and was allowed sweets... I hid the wrappers in the cushions of the sofa. Only recently have some of these weird food related quirks I developed begun to make sense to me. My relationship with food started off really emotionally. There was guilt associated with every bite.

    In my teens we were very poor. My stepdad was... I'm trying to put this in a fair term but I can't quite do it... he was a shitty provider. His personality made any job where he was forced to work with other people and not following his OCD needs didn't last long. He had big dreams but no follow-through. Because we had very little money for extras I don't remember ever having things like chips or cookies in our home. I have vivid recollections of having severe cravings where I would go into our kitchen and just ransack our cupboards looking for something... something that was never there. I'm pretty sure I was having nearly manic episodes over it because the memories of those panic filled searches are so strongly emotional.

    This was also during my parents' religious phase. I could expound on that for hours but for the sake of the post I'll refine it down to this—no tv, movies, music, very limited books/magazines allowed, very modest dress code, and I wasn't allowed to change with the other girls at school for gym class. I pretty much no longer had no awareness of my peers' bodies and the ideology that my body was a bad thing was stressed to me daily for those 6 years. I dare say such could not have happened at a worse time in a girl's life than during the teen years from 13-19.

    Even when I dressed modestly my stepfather frequently harangued me for the choices in dress I did make. Since the majority of my clothing (literally, about 95%) was handed-down from my mother or someone we knew, dug out of a trash can, bought second hand, or something I sewed for myself, I stuck with mostly black on black because it matched. Pants were never long enough because I've been just under 5' 10" since I was 14. I had very small breasts and not much in the way of hips. And if I was dressed in head-to-toe black he would rag about it. I was covered up in the modest attire demanded of me and yet it was never good enough. Never.

    When I was 17 a friend of mine commented that I looked like Kate Moss. At the time I didn't get it because I'd never really compared my body with anyone and our faces are nothing alike. But this was in the late 90's when heroin-chic was a thing. I'm pretty sure that's what body type I had but the truth is... I don't know because my parents' faith had such strong anti-body morals. I actually remember my stepdad—did I mention he was a preacher in their faith?—giving one of is lengthy lectures about how looking at your own body could cause you to be turned on by the same sex and cause homosexuality. So I stopped looking at my body* other than what it took to wash it.

    (*To clarify, not because I believed what he said, but because quite literally NOTHING I ever did was right. If I looked at my own naked body behind closed doors I was brainwashed into thinking he would know and I would get punished—and most punishments involved being beaten with his belt, even at the age of 17).

    Looking back I just drop my jaw at the bullshit I was being fed and that I kowtowed to out of fear. It's difficult to work through because of both the ridiculousness of thought processes that are still a bit ingrained in my subconscious and because, as a parent, I (sort of) understand that my parents were trying to protect me.

    But for all their hard work to 'protect' me what they really did was far more damaging than the majority of the things they were trying to protect me from. By the time I hit adulthood I had very little self esteem, was desperate to find a 'hero', and didn't know my body. I'm sure you can imagine the consequences those 3 particular issues have on a barely-an-adult young woman.

    Complicating matters was the fact that I was not allowed to attend sex education in school, had been taught that any and ALL forms of birth control were against God's will, and had seen a teenager (a girl from church in another congregation) shamed and treated like the worst of the worst for getting pregnant. Since I had been raised outside of their faith up until my teens I had a basic grasp of sex and had heard of condoms from kids at school, but I didn't know much. I didn't even know what an orgasm was until after having one for the first time and later reading about them in Cosmopolitan.

    My desperation to feel loved and find a rescuer culminated in the starting of the relationship that's now my marriage of almost 14 years. My accidental pregnancy and the shame, fear, and resulting grief over it still kind of haunt me. Terrified of telling my parents, even though I was 19 and living on my own, had me considering abortion. But my only option there was a 90 minute drive and a $400 procedure. Basically, about a month's worth of pay. It wasn't what I really wanted, just the fear of being shunned making me desperate for an out. After a friend who was struggling with infertility and my boyfriend's mom—now my MIL whom I adore—talked to me about it I finally felt like I could have my baby no matter where it lead me.

    It wasn't easy and there were times I thought I'd be doing it alone, but when I had my son in my arms that first time I finally understood just how amazing my body was. It had sheltered and fed that tiny little person with my dark hair and his daddy's crazy eyebrows. Giving life made me want to know my body, to finally look at it. But pregnancy had left my body in tatters.

    The truth is... I don't remember what my body looked like before that pregnancy and I'm still really mad about it. I wish I'd spent time in front of the mirror looking at it and getting to know it. Appreciated its youth and firmness. The boyish waist. The boobs that could go without a bra and look good. That perfect example of a bellybutton. Everything that I'd been taught to avoid and be afraid of.

    It's not that I hate what my pregnancies and age have done to my flesh. It's that I never allowed myself to know and appreciate it while it was still new. Kind of like people who immediately pour salt on something before they've tasted it. Or smashing an empty piƱata. Okay... and maybe I just really hate that I never got to wear a bikini or a crop top or take some silly selfies in my undies and favorite flannel to give to my hubby for his birthday. I can still do those things, it's just not the same. I'm not perfect and I'm fighting with my body image just as much as any woman.

    After our son it took me almost 2 years to drop down to within 5lbs of my pre-baby weight. But we were overseas and it was just me and the baby for weeks at a time. I walked everywhere and worked out when he napped. In spite of my hideous stretchmarks I did wear a bikini top with shorts a couple times. But I spent both those occasions paranoid that people were judging me about them. Which put me back into the body avoidance mindset again.

    Eventually we came home to the states and went through a really bad time. The details aren't important but how I dealt with them is. I was very depressed and felt trapped and helpless... alone. Desperate and angry, I began having thoughts of self-harming. But I already had ugly stretchmarks so I didn't want to add on ugly scars and instead of becoming a cutter I turned to anorexia. (A lot of people misunderstand all anorexia as being weight related but it's actually about control for both those who do it for weight and those who do it as self harm like I did). For about 18 months I subsisted on toast and herbal tea. Occasionally when my MIL would be over groceries to help us get by I'd binge on the junk food because of the sugar high.

    At my skinniest I dropped down to 111 lbs, maybe even smaller. It wasn't until I saw photos of myself that I realized how bad it had gotten. So I began confronting the problems we were having and began to eat again. Things got better. But when I tried to talk to my mother about it she said, "you can't be anorexic because you don't think you're fat". While I definitely didn't think I was fat, I was most definitely anorexic. The problem is, there aren't—or at least, there weren't 10 years ago when I was going through this—support groups for people like me. Anorexia recovery groups focus on people seeking to be skinny (the truth is they often do it for the same reasons I was... to control something in their out-of-control life) and self-harm groups are focused on cutters and burners. Which left me on my own.

    But I had made up my mind that I was no longer going to hurt myself over something I could not control. Instead I was going to go out and grab hold of my happiness, with or without my husband. It was a life changing epiphany. Waiting around for him to make me happy and trying to make him happy wasn't working. We had to do it individually and when we were both happy in our separate selves our relationship improved.

    The thing about happiness though, is that it will always be fleeting. I like to think of happiness like water. It's ever fluid and changeable. When we bring it into our bodies we use it and it passes through. Then we have to get some more. Happiness is a cycle.

    I also feel like happiness is easier to appreciate and you will be more motivated to keep seeking it when you've been to the darkest valleys of sadness or anger.

    My time as an anorexic left me with a heart murmur, a seizure disorder... and a mission.

    Sometimes I get the urge to take up self harming behaviors again. I just have to remind myself that what I really want is control and real control is about taking those urges and telling them to go away.

    Ten years and another pregnancy and child-birth later I'm still struggling with body image though.

    My last pregnancy was a doozy. All day morning sickness, grief over a death in the family, a neck injury from a car accident, gestational diabetes, heartburn from hell, exhaustion, and putting on 60lbs made the pregnancy hell. Going medication free for the delivery was my goal and it was a hard one to reach, especially when my daughter's shoulders got stuck. I remember hearing someone letting out this horrid primal screaming and the nurse reminding me not to yell, just to breath. Whoopsie! My baby girl was bruised and ugly but healthy.

    With my son I didn't have the same worries I'm having now. There are just not the same stigmas about male bodies as there are for females. Our culture constantly inundates us with messages about how our bodies are flawed and need fixing, that unless you fit a specific mold you're not good enough, and that you have to present yourself as a harlot but not actually be one... and if you do act the harlot and get assaulted... it's YOUR fault.

    The issues I've had and those I have now in relation to my body are ones I don't want my daughter to go through. She's already a skinny little thing but super healthy and yet, will she have people around her making her feel bad for her size whether intentionally or unintentionally? Will she misunderstand my insecurities and think she shouldn't love her body? Is our current cultural attitude toward female sexuality going to hyper sexualize her, give her confidence, or teach her that girls (and women) should not be sexual beings?

    I wish I knew the answer. All I can do is hope that by setting an example of healthful habits for physical AND emotional well-being she can find a role model in me. The hard part is doing it. But maybe that's an essential key in it too... messing up and showing her how to get back on the horse and try again. That it's okay to not get it right all the time as long as you're still trying.

    It's funny because this post started out with me wanting to sit down and talk about the difference between wanting to be skinny and wanting to be healthy. But it had a mind of it's own and has gone in many directions. Maybe because that topic is just the tip of an iceberg.

    I recently made the decision that I was going to make some life changes specifically focused on my body. I've spent the past few months frowning every time I see my body. I kind of blamed it on not being able to go to Curves any more because I honestly loved it. But the truth is that with things like this you have to find an alternative and make it happen. So I've been making some goals and trying to keep them or work toward them.

    Five days a week I'm going to spend an hour being active. Right now that consists of attempting to get an hour of cardio in playing Dance Central 3. I've had a few days it was too difficult to get the whole hour because of interruptions but the point is to not quit because of a few bad workouts. A bad one is better than none at all. I'm also trying to eat breakfast and if possible, a big one consisting of healthy foods. I'm also trying to get in lots of water AND paying attention to my hunger. Am I hungry or just bored? Instead of eating half a box of cookies why don't I have just 3 and a cup of tea?

    None of these are easy overnight changes but I'm inspired and want to inspire others. I feel very lonely in these goals. I don't have a support system of local friends or family really. And as much as I love my husband it can be very difficult trying to be active and get healthy when someone sits next to you filling up on junk and saying they don't have time to be active. Are any of you out there guilty of the 'I don't have time to work out' excuse? If you are, don't feel called out... I was for a long time too.

    But I really want to improve my physical well-being and that means that instead of making excuses, I'm making time. Something had to go so that I could fit in 5 hours of fitness a week.

    It's something to put into perspective like this:

    There are 168 hours in a week. If you get 8 hours of sleep a night you're already investing 56 hours into your health. Rest is really important! If you work a full time job that's another 40-60 hours you can't workout. That leaves about another 52 hours to fit in your workouts. Is it starting to look possible yet?

    Less time fiddling around on Facebook or playing games on my iPad... and bam! I found my 5 hours a week.

    My biggest hurdle to being active is not liking people watching me while I do it. I feel like anyone who can see me working out is judging my form or laughing at how silly I look. When I was considering joining a fitness club I had these visions of fit bodied men and women turning their noses up at me and finding my clumsiness annoying.

    But when I attended Curves you know what I liked? I liked that there were women of ALL ages, sizes and shapes working out together. There was an elderly lady who I always admired for her commitment to keep taking care of her body even if she couldn't do more than walk in place and a few machines. A pair of morbidly obese women would come in sometimes and never stay for the whole 30 minutes but the fact was... they were there. They were trying. Are you seeing the theme?

    I loved that there was no judging. Only encouraging words passed as we greeted one another or someone improved their results. Instead of feeling like the other ladies were looking down their noses at me, I felt like they were as encouraged by my presence as I was by theirs.

    Unable to afford a membership to a gym anymore I was feeling discouraged at home. My husband bought a $1500 treadmill a few years ago that I begged him not to waste the money on. Told him I'd divorce him if he didn't use it. So he kept saying ('cause he only used it for a couple of months before getting bored) I should use it. But running hurts my knees and I worry our daughter will get hurt if I use it when she's around. So right now I'm just doing my DC3 fitness challenges—how cool is it that they post a new playlist and challenge every Thursday?—and looking for some videos I can do at home with her under toe.

    What is your challenge? Maybe you have more than one. Maybe you're like me and have a hard time resisting food as comfort or companion. Maybe you hate water or the idea of eating broccoli instead of mac n' cheese is revolting. Choosing to make healthy changes in your life is like deciding to quit smoking (thank gawd I've never been a smoker). You have to want it bad enough to make it happen. Just like quitting smoking you also need to find out what is going to work best for you and not what works for someone else.

    For my husband he finally gave it up for good after years of quitting and starting again after a while when someone he was acquainted with died of illnesses caused by smoking. It finally hit home how bad it was and he started to avoid the biggest problem he had with restarting... 'coffee breaks' at work. Instead of going outside with the smokers he started reading during his breaks.

    Maybe you need to find your motivation and your alternatives just like that...

    Making goals to workout and eat right can be much the same. When your friends always want to go out and get burgers and beers when you're trying to eat more veggies and lean meats it can be alienating. Do you find new friends or just stop going out? Do you find yourself mindlessly snacking during TV time with your spouse? Is it because you're hungry or bored?

    Start paying attention to your challenges and find ways to work around them. Find a workout buddy. Make non-food related rewards for meeting goals. Make one big goal and several small ones to help you feel accomplished as you go.

    This post is getting a little long winded and if you've made it this far I commend you. I really have needed to write this and get it out there. I needed it for some reason I can't quite name yet. Maybe I just want to feel like I'm not alone as I work through decades of issues with food and body image. I'm just as flawed and damaged as ever... and sometimes the way I work through something is by writing about it. Now, if you read this far I would love to have you comment. Stroke my ego or tell me I'm an idiot or tell me your story. I'm going to get this posted and then go eat some lunch so I'll be ready to get my workout in before the hubs gets home from work. ;)


    Recipe: Mom's Spreadable Butter (& Mom's Spreadable Garlic Butter)

    Growing up there's one cookbook that everyone in the maternal side of my family had and most of them used, Laurel's Kitchen. My mother's copy is dog-eared and full of notecards and post-it's and a few years after I moved out on my own she found a battered but still usable copy on ebay that she sent to me. I've since found a paperback copy in a thrift shop that I picked up for 50¢ so I could have less clutter on my counter. It's one that I consider essential to the modern kitchen because it really is a great cookbook for anyone who enjoys good food, vegetarian, pescetarian, or otherwise. You can now get your own copy of The New Laurel's Kitchen on Kindle or as a paperback.

    Since becoming a vegetarian in the 70's—before I was born—my grandmother has always been an advocate for a healthy body and more eco-savvy living. She's had a pretty big impact on in my life in respect to mind + body + world attitudes. But here we are four decades later and the vegetarian umbrella has evolved considerably. While she still calls herself a vegetarian, the fact remains that Nana is what is now known as a pescetarian. So while visits to Nana's never included bacon or chicken soup we had salmon burgers and buckwheat pancakes with butter.

    When I was a teenager, my mom and I made double batches of Better Butter weekly. We were very much omnivores and any attempt at meat-free meals was met by serious drama from my step-dad, but even he enjoyed this one. It also became really popular with members of our church and I remember people asking how it was made many times. Now people ask me...

    But as much as I like the original recipe in concept, I don't particularly care for the oil choices in it: safflower, soy, or corn oil. Yuck.

    Mom always made hers with vegetable oil—I'm assuming that choice was because we were pretty poor and it's cheap—and I don't really care for it either. So I thought as I was recently whipping up a batch, that I'd share how I've adapted it. Since it's one that's been passed down through 3 generations of moms in my family I've dubbed it, Mom's Spreadable Butter.

    Mom's Spreadable Butter

    2 cups butter (4 sticks)
    2 cups oil*
    4 tablespoons non-fat dry milk
    4 tablespoons water


    1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin**
    1 teaspoon salt


    Review: Woolzies Dryer Balls

    Something I struggle with as I journey toward finding eco-friendly ways to change my lifestyle is finding effective solutions. Sometimes what's better for the Earth isn't always what works well. I have yet to find a dishwasher detergent that I like for this reason and I hate rewashing things because it's wasteful. But trying new products can be costly and equally wasteful when they don't get the job done.
    About a year and a half ago I think I saw a Woolzies review on someone's blog because I have had them on my Amazon wishlist for just under that amount of time. The trouble was I had yet to see anyone noting a similar situation to what we have here in Montana. Our climate is DRY. We're in our moistest time right now and it's barely changed the humidity. White vinegar in the rinse cycle really does a nice job of softening fabrics but just hasn't cut it for the static. Which means the dryer gets our clothes and linens dry... and shocking. It's downright painful doing laundry.
    When I saw Woolzies was looking for bloggers interested in trying and reviewing their dryer balls I was at a point where I was intentionally doing less wash just to avoid the static. Desperation had set in. I just wasn't sure—until I saw the chance to try them for review—it would be worth the investment. I am pleased to report that they have surpassed my expectations!
    But it's important that you know a little bit about our family's needs before I dive right in.
    1. Sensitive skin in every member of the household
    2. A desire to be gentle to our Earth
    3. Two long haired humans, one long haired dog, and two sheddy cats live here
    4. Affordability is a must for this single-income family
    5. Ease of use and time saving are essential qualities
    6. I use Biokleen Citrus Laundry Liquid and Oxiclean on occasion (Got a better option? Leave me a comment!)
    Woolzies retail for around $35 for a package of 6 dryer balls. It is suggested you use at least 6 per load so it seems like a huge investment at first. That was what initially held me back. I didn't want the hubs having ammo to bemoan my (at times) costly crusade to rid our home of unhealthy chemicals.

    As you can see, before use the balls are about the size of a navel orange or baseball. The packaging claims that these are noise free but let me tell you... unless you're using a specially insulated dryer that cuts noise you will hear them. With my basement laundry room door closed I can still hear them upstairs! The hubs is not a fan and complains about it, but most of the time it's only enough to be mildly annoying if you're trying to do something quiet. I imagine it'll have a lot to do with where your dryer is located and what features it has.

    Woolzies are intended to soften fabrics, reduce static and drying time, as well as fighting wrinkles. I've been using them for about 30 loads now and they have done all of those things. I was actually pretty surprised at the reduction of the drying time and have had to adjust my habits accordingly. Considering I very rarely use anything other than the low heat setting that's saying something.

    As far as wrinkle reduction goes... I haven't noticed a dramatic change but a big part of that is that loads are drying faster than I can get to them! It's insane. In a good way. ☺

    The static reduction is what I was really after and Woolzies delivers it well. The secret to it though, is that you need to periodically stuff them in a sock and run them through the washer (as noted in the FAQ). I got about 15 loads before I noticed a need to do that. One wash and they were fine again.

    It's worth noting that for the past few loads I've done I added white vinegar to the rinse cycle in the washer and then used my Woolzies in the dryer. It's a great combo. Everything has been so soft and I've noticed much less of my hair and the dog's hair clinging to everything.

    (The above half was written in early May, I wanted to give them another month to see if there were any changes I noticed worth noting. ☺)

    I'm really excited to finally be able to get this review finished up and finally share it with you guys!

    One of the key factors to my recommending Woolzies is that they do the job I need them to do without harming the Earth or my family.

    For years my husband suffered with miserable itchy skin until I started going with all fragrance and dye free products. But that only reduced it. Since moving to mostly fragrance and dye free eco-concious products it's only when winter dryness is really bad that he has trouble. On top of that, our daughter has highly reactive skin. Woolzies has given me a new tool in the fight for my family's health that I feel confident about. If you are trying to find a healthy, eco-safe fabric softener I cannot recommend them highly enough!

    After 2+ months of use and about 75 loads of washing I am a fan for life. I've even used them to fluff up and freshen a pair of down pillows on a strictly air cycle. I had a much longer run with static reduction before needing to throw them in with the wash (I noticed I get the very best results with this if I am adding vinegar to the rinse cycle). About 35 loads this time!

    They have started to pill a bit—I notice it more when they run with anything made of fleece like blankets—but it hasn't caused any issue with performance.

    I've been so impressed with them that I did the math and decided they're actually CHEAPER in the long run. If I do 1 load of laundry a day Woolzies will last me about 3 years. Doing the math on a cheap dryer sheet (the one I used for a long time) it would cost me $87 for 3 years! Plus the dryer time reduction which saves on energy and thus more money.

    So, when it's all boiled down... not only do Woolzies do a great job while being eco-friendly and great for those with sensitive skin, they SAVE ME MONEY! Could I ask for much more than that in a single product? No.

    The only thing I don't love about Woolzies is that they're not sourced or made in the USA, which would be even better but isn't a deal breaker.

    Think you'd like to try Woolzies? I've got to finalize the details on it but I'll be doing a Woolzies giveaway very soon, so stay tuned! (Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for more great reviews and awesome giveaways).

    Disclaimer: I was provided this product to test and review by it's distributor. All opinions here are my own and not influenced by the freeness of said product. ☺


    Unboxing: GIRLS NIGHT IN Cravebox

    There are few things in life that really give me a lot of pleasure. Even things that do, often come with stress... like writing up blog posts for example. Fun, but tempered with the stress factor of trying to make it informative, coherent, enjoyable, and oft times meeting a deadline (or being timely) it can be a little bit like... well... work.
    Since most of my friends don't live anywhere near me it's not easy to put together a girl's night, let alone a girl's night in. But I was so excited when Cravebox announced the GIRLS NIGHT IN Cravebox because I loved the categories of products, this was pretty much a box with my name written all over it. Then came the bad news... they weren't going to be able to ship them to certain states because of laws regarding alcohol. How ironic is it that children can go into bars in my state but I can't have wine shipped to my home within it? Maybe it's a good thing because I'd be allllll over getting certain hard to find wines and liquers shipped my way and have no money for Craveboxes. lol
    Then good news came. Cravebox heard the cries of those of us afflicted by the issues of our state's laws—mine is actually the weirdest of them all—and decided to let some of us have boxes MINUS the nakedwines.com giftcard. A bummer in that I would have given the giftcard to my mom in one of the okay states but still a cool move on their part.
    When my box showed up I was super excited. What better way to end a really exhausting week than with a box of goodies just for moi? As you can see it is backed with a cool variety of goodies.

    There at the top was this pamphlet from Ford's Warriors in Pink charity and tucked in is a seriously gorgeous scarf. I have always been fond of the designs they've put out but the truth is, I'm a horrible person. I don't support breast cancer. I know... you're freaking out wondering why I'd say such a controversial jerk-faced thing but after reading this article when it came out I realized that the feelings I already had about breast cancer getting so much attention weren't a crime. If you think I'm a horrible person for saying any of this please, please, please read the article!!!
    For me personally, I prefer to focus on other cancers and wish more charitable sponsorships would stop giving boobs all of the love and focus on our under appreciated ovaries! Kudos to Ford for caring though.

    My little rant aside, how beautiful is this scarf? It reminds me of saris, in fact... my mom has the two that belonged to my grandmother and they're this shade of pink and a blue very close to this! I've got a birthday thing to go to on Friday that I think I'm going to wear this to.

    The 'meh' item of the box was this bottle of grape flavored Fruit2O. My stance on artificial sweeteners (this one has sucralose) is well noted here at RhiAlistic and this bad boy was so sweet that one sip was too much. I tried... okay! I left it sitting on the coffee table to go swap laundry and the tot got hold of it though and she loved it. *snort* Figures... the 3-year-old would find uber sweet grape flavored water awesome. lol So against my better judgement I let her drink it.

    How many of you love comedies? Then you're probably already familiar with Fox's sitcoms, New Girl and The Mindy Project. Are they any good? 'Cause I have a confession... I don't like sitcoms. I make an exception for The Big Bang Theory (I'm a geek so this just stands to reason) when I'm in the mood for something funny which is usually when I'm dying of the flu. That whole 'laughter is the best medicine' thing or something.

    Anyway... the box had these gorgeous nail polishes and a jumbo file! How cool are those?

    In an ironic twist of fate I had just bought a bottle of Essie's Ballet Slippers four days earlier and these two are nearly a match. Methinks it's mani-pedi time... when I can find some time to not be using my hands for a dozen things.

    The oddity of the box is the Zaca organic recovery patch. I popped mine open to see if there was more info about it because of my seizure disorder making certain naturals unsafe. After reading the website info I'm in the clear so I'll be giving them a try at the aforementioned birthday bash I'm going to. Should be interesting to say the least. I've tried other anti-hangover products before and wasn't all that impressed. It's supposed to just make you feel great period... so we'll see how I feel on Saturday. ;)

    My favorite item in the box hands down is the Renewing Hand Cream from Tree Hut. It's not obvious in these unboxing pics but I spent the morning painting (as mentioned in another post). My hands were so dry and cracked from scrubbing all of the paint off and sore from gripping the rollers and brushes. One small squeeze of this cream had my hands feeling soft, hydrated, and soothed. It wasn't greasy and gross feeling and even though rose isn't a fragrance I typically gravitate to, the Moroccan Rose is insanely lovely. I also LOVE that this is made in the USA! My hands still feel good four days later and I haven't re-applied it since that initial test.
    As if the box wasn't already full of great stuff... there's still more!
    I fell in love with Hills Bros. Cappucino mixes about 5 years ago so you can imagine my excitement at seeing not just a box of it, but a coupon too! I've actually been trying to finish a box of the Double Mocha flavor over the past two months because I didn't care for it. I'm not a big vanilla fan in general so I rarely buy French Vanilla but it's a great flavor none-the-less. Don't like vanilla or mocha? There are lots more flavors! The store I shop at only carries a few (and the sugar-free and 'skinny' vanilla ones) and my favorite, English Toffee, is almost always sold out. Here's hoping when I get to the store I can find one!

    One of the things I like best about Hills Bros. Cappuncino's is that they're good hot but make amazing cold frappe style drinks! In fact, I usually only buy them in the summer because it's easy to whip up a batch fast. The original recipe to serve 'em cold had ice instead of ice cream... but I happened to have some ice cream handy so I blended some vanilla almond milk, ice cream, and the mix into this tasty treat... more like a thin milkshake but still delicious!

    My husband's ex (long-story but we're actually very friendly with each other) made "homemade Kahlua" and gave me some that I might slip into my next batch for a true GIRLS NIGHT IN treat. ;)

    Lastly, a Revitalizing Lip Palm in Fresh Plum from Neutrogena. A sheer lip tint with an SPF of 20 it's an unexpectedly lovely balm. I didn't think I could pull off the color but it's just sheer enough to flatter even my pale complexion, chances are if it worked for me it looks good on everyone. It lasted well through dinner and left my lips soft and happy. I have two makeup products I cannot live without—mascara and lip balms—and this will definitely be one I buy again.
    It says something about how much I enjoyed this box that I immediately went and ordered the instant box version of it to be sent to my mom. Since she's in a wine friendly state I thought it would be a great Mother's Day surprise that would give her a little treat and let her feel pampered. I can't wait to hear how the wine giftcard works out for her... maybe she'll be able to bring one of the bottles she gets with her when she visits me this summer. lol

    Overall, one of my favorite Craveboxes yet and that's without a $50 wine giftcard being in it!

    Would you like to get this box for yourself? Check out the Instant Boxes page on Cravebox, it's currently available for $16 and be sure and grab the Cooking Light FAST MEALS box too...  New to Cravebox? When you sign up tell them rhiviews referred you and I can earn Cravebucks too. :)


    The Rhialist (Rhianna Walker) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.