Friday Finds: April 11, 2014

Friday Finds from the Meredith Tested blogHappy Friday! Oops, it’s Monday. Guess I forgot to schedule. Whoops. I’ll forgive myself & hopefully you will, too ;)

How’s the weather where you are? Some people think weather talk is mundane but given the power a sunny, slightly warm Spring day can have, I’m not below this “small talk.” Seriously – a walk around the block on a nice day can completely change one’s outlook on life, amiright? Here’s hoping you have lots of those kind of days in your future.

  • I love round-ups of cool content (hence my Friday Finds), so I loved this ‘BlogStalk’ post by Pemberly Jones.
  • EcoCult reviews three subscription boxes: VeganCuts, Hatchery, NatureBox. Do you subscribe to any of these? I currently subscribe to Goodebox (reviews forthcoming on the blog!)
  • Three words: Plantain Chip Nachos. Mmmm.
  • Have you heard of The Skimm? I just signed up and so far, I like it! It’s a daily email with a generous portion of humor that keeps you quickly up to date on the news. Aimed at US readers but I’m sure others would get value from it as well.
  • I have been away, it’s true, but I’m coming back with lots of great, informative and fun posts soon!

xo,
Meredith

Friday Finds: March 14, 2014

Friday Finds from the Meredith Tested blogHappy Friday from Chicago! I’ve left the snow of Burlington, Vermont for the snow of Chicago. :)

Enjoy these tidbits I’ve found interesting this week:

Book Review: “It Starts With Food”

Here are the basics: It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig outlines why some foods make some people sick in various ways – inflammation, stomach/gut issues, skin problems, etc. Then they offer a solution: an elimination diet called Whole30 where you eat meat, fruit, veggies and healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olives). No sugar (or alcohol), grains of any kind, legumes (including peanuts), soy and dairy. (Note: There is a variation for vegetarians.)

In some ways, I feel like there’s nothing I can say about this book and the corresponding diet – Whole30 – that hasn’t been said by thousands of other people online, on other blogs, and on Amazon.

However, there is one thing I’ll say about this book that not a lot of people talk about. This kind of life-change needs internal motivation, not cajoling from the outside. I have to say, I inadvertently bullied my husband into reading this book and doing the diet and his heart wasn’t in it. A year later, though, he embarked on a Whole30 on his own and had a great experience.

You are you, the only you you’ll ever be. Listen to yourself and your body.

Read through everything in the book at your own pace.

Here’s my (abbreviated) story with ISWF. I had this book for months (MONTHS) before I cracked it open. And then I opened it with low expectations, leafing listlessly and cautiously. This stage lasted several days if not weeks. I wouldn’t say I even truly read anything I was basically skimming around, being a weirdo.

Then one time I opened the book during a commercial break of some random prime time TV show and I started to get inspired. Suddenly I was ripping through the pages like Cher Horowitz rips through her closet on an important school day. (I’m a firm believer that one can never have too many Clueless references.) I jumped on the website and downloaded all the awesome free materials that go along with undertaking a Whole 30.

After that I actually started reading. Really reading and absorbing what I read. I did what the authors recommend and I skipped a lot of the science-y stuff (I went back and read through a lot of it later, though) and went straight for the Whole 30 chapters.

Then I signed up for the daily emails (highly, highly recommend doing this. It made such a difference for my experience.)

And then I started the Whole 30 two days later. Boom! After months of tip toeing around the book and the concept I just jumped right in really quickly.

That’s the secret: No one can convince you to read this book and do the 30 day elimination diet. No amount of “I feel amahhhhzing! Omg!” posts on Facebook or Instagram will convince you. You have to do the research, explore, absorb, walk around, peek in, and come around on your own.

Preach, guuurlllll.

Because, in the end: It really is all about YOU. This is not about being self-centered or selfish. You’re doing a science experiment of one. You’re not listening to your mom, your best friend, your science teacher, your Weight Watchers buddy, or even that dietitian on TV. You’re listening to your own body. 30 days eliminating foods that typically cause issues and then a few more days of re-introduction of each food group. And you’re done – armed with a complete nutrition plan customized to you. Cuz you’re special. 

This lifestyle change is not easy (…I lost count of how many friends and family members whined because I couldn’t drink/eat what they wanted me to. Just politely say no thank you to that cocktail and cupcake) but in just 30 days you will know more about yourself and your body. I never once felt deprived or hungry. I did most definitely have mood swings and cravings, especially the first week or so, but my goodness it is worth it to persevere. That’s another reason to wait until you’re feeling motivated to start, whether it’s because you’re just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, or because you have stomach aches all the time and want to know what’s causing it, if you’re only half-in from the start, you’ll only do it halfway. You have to jump in with both feet! Just jump. Trust me, the water is warm. And delicious. (Um, what? Meredith, you’re an odd duck.)

Questions? Drop me an email or post in the comments!

Made in America Makeup Bags

I am on the hunt for a new cosmetics bag to organize my non-toxic beauty products. Who knew there were so many fun, functional, American-made choices?

Help me choose, vote for your favorite below!

  1. Lipsticks Boxy Bag Small (waterproof lining)This lipstick print bag for $24 is just so…happy! Fun on the outside, practical on the inside with a waterproof lining. Made in PA by Etsy seller handmadephilosophy.
  2. Soft-leather-dopp-kit So gorgeous. $179. Designed and produced entirely in Los Angeles by Stephen Kenn. Via Kauffman Mercantile. Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 10.42.12 AM
  3. Made in America by Cinda B, this train-case style bag for $63 could definitely hold all of my goodies! Also lined for easy wipe-downs. Mineral makeup can be messy, folks.
  4. Or what about this set of zippered pouches from Brooklyn’s own Baggu? Plus, these lovelies are on sale for $12!
    xoxo makeup bag
  5. This $29 graphic makeup pouch is Made in the USA by Alexandra Ferguson. It looks small enough to toss in a gym bag or tote but big enough to hold all my essentials. Also comes in “OMG” “LUXE” “LOVE” and “HOT.”

Friday Finds: March 7, 2014

Friday Finds from the Meredith Tested blogOne week into March! How are we feeling?

Enjoy the weekend, folks!

Hmm, I’m not sure I can pull off “folks.”

Meredith Tested: Natural, Aluminum-Free Deodorant

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(Note: I’ll update this post as I try more brands!)

Natural, aluminum-free deodorant round-up of reviews // MeredithTested.wordpress.com

For some reason, my Secret “Completely Clean” Outlast Antiperspirant has been pretty hard for me to give up. I love the fresh scent and protection I got whether I was working out, running for the bus or just running around my house/office getting life sorted out.

Natural deodorant seemed like an awful product best left to people who don’t care if they have body odor.

And then one day, something clicked. Why oh why would I want to put something under my arms that contains aluminum and other gross chemical compounds? Especially given that antiperspirants typically don’t wash off that easily, so we are basically layering the stuff over and over again. Another nasty ingredient to avoid? Triclosan. It’s a synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient and the EPA registers it as a pesticide. What?! Watch out – this ingredient might appear in aluminum-free deodorants that are trying to appear healthier. Sneaky sneaky. Grr.

List of brands and scents I’ve tried ranked with my thoughts below. (Note: I’ll update this list as I try new deodorants! Yeah, for realz. Because I love you guys.) Just remember to bring your chosen stick with you to re-apply if you’re particularly anxiety-ridden about your underarms during the day.Current favorite all-natural deodorant. Vermont Soap Sage Lime // MeredithTested.wordpress.com #green #nontoxic #deodorant

  1. Vermont Soap Works Sage Lime Organic Deodorant, $10 *Current Favorite*
     PROs: Smells amazing – like lime candy – and lasts all freakin’ day. CONs: Might be hard to find outside of VT. A little difficult to apply. Warm up the stick under your arm 1st and it will become softer and easier to get on.
  2. Tom’s of Maine Long-Lasting Fresh Apricot, $5 (I paid less at my local supermarket)
    PROs: Smells OH SO fruity and fresh. Works well most days. You can find it at many stores. CONs: Sometimes doesn’t last all day, depending on my workout, etc. I keep it in my gym bag to reapply.
  3. Desert Essence Tropical Breeze Deodorant, $6.25 (I paid less at my local natural food store)
    PROs: I just love the pineapple-sugar smell. CONs: It’s a little “wet” when applied so I like to let it dry with my shirt off. It only lasts at full-strength for 4+ hours, so I only wear it on days I know I won’t be very active (aka lazy Saturday.)
  4. Herban Cowboy Forest Deodorant, $8
    PROs: Points for an awesome brand name. Good texture for application + I like the light forest scent. CONs: It just doesn’t last, period.

Deodorants I do not recommend because they didn’t work for me at all, even after several applications: (1) Thai Crystal Deodorant Roll-on

For the men out there and the women who prefer really woodsy scents, my husband has also tried quite a few natural deodorants.  His favorites for their effectiveness and scent are: #1 Every Man Jack Cedarwood and #2 Tom’s of Maine Maine Woodspice. (Tom’s can cause underarm discomfort/itching for some guys.)

On my list to try next:
Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
Primal Pit Paste
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (h/t @thefoxymango)
…Have other recommendations? Share in the comments!

You can also make natural deodorant yourself if you’re the uber-crafty type. Try the recipe from Organic Beauty Talk or this one from YouTuber Holistic Habits.

Stop reading any further if you get grossed out… Seriously, stop. Just to make sure I wasn’t just experiencing the placebo effect, I went a day without any deodorant at all. It was a pretty typical day for me (type-type-type-type-eat good food-type-play-with-my-dogs-type-type) but I didn’t go to the gym. And at the end of the day (actually it was like 1 p.m.), I was stinky. Like, I couldn’t stand to be around myself stinky. So I guess I proved that these all-natural guys really do work, since without them I am a gross mess.

xo, Meredith

Best Hair & Makeup from the 2014 Academy Awards

I love watching the Oscars. Celebrating celebrities might seem silly, but I have always loved film and the glamorous feeling that comes with watching the show. After becoming obsessed with The Wizard of Oz at the age of 2.5, I made it my mission to watch every sumptuous musical from the 40s, 50s and 60s. One thing that always enchanted me (besides the incredible dancing and singing) was the hair and makeup of the leading ladies. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to emulate the looks popularized by Judy Garland, Ann Miller and Debbie Reynolds, the beauty looks from the red carpet this year are quite a bit more achievable and recreation-worthy.

My favorite looks from this year’s Academy Awards weren’t fussy but perfectly fit the occasion and the actress:

Jada Pinkett Smith makeup oscars academy awards 2014 // MeredithTested.wordpress.com #oscars

Jada Pinkett Smith. Source: http://www.bellasugar.com

Jennifer Garner, Oscars 2014, Academy Awards, Best Beauty and Hair, Best Makeup and Hairstyle

Jennifer Garner. Source: http://www.popsugar.com

best hair makeup oscars academy awards 2014 // MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Emma Watson. Source: http://www.glamour.com

Olivia Wilde Oscars Academy Awards 2014, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Beauty Looks // MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Olivia Wilde. Source: http://www.eonline.com

Julia Roberts Oscars Academy Awards 2014, Best Beauty Looks, Best Hair and Makeup

Julia Roberts. Source: http://www.bellasugar.com

Anne Hathaway Oscars 2014, Best Hair and Makeup, Academy Awards 2014 // MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Anne Hathaway. Source: http://www.allure.com