Meredith Tested: Ursa Major Skincare

Let’s get this out Of the way now: yes, this skincare is So. Major. (Anyone else hear Victoria Beckham’s voice saying “Sewwww majahhhh” in their head?)

victoria beckham so major

I geniunely like everything I’ve tried in their line. My husband liked everything, too. Reviews of each product we tried below. Spoiler alert: the first thing I’ll repurchase will be the Face Balm.

ursa major skincare review

Face Wash: The scent is woodsy but not overpowering. It’s refreshing and ever so slightly tingly. I used it a couple of ways. 1) Massaging into wet skin with my hands, steamed and washed off with a hot towel, 2) Massaged into skin with a damp and soft Konjac sponge, rinsed off with warm water, 3) In the shower, massaged into wet skin and rinsed off with warm water. All worked well but I liked the shower best. I think this wash does especially well if your face is steamy from the shower. Face feels clean but not tight. I needed to use a moisturizer after but my husband liked the tone & texture of his skin after using this wash and nothing else.

Face Wipes: This was my husband’s favorite product. He said it’s because they feel great and there’s really nothing else out there like it – individually packaged make them easy to toss in a bag and they aren’t “girly.” These are the ultimate fresh-feeling wipe. After the gym or on a hot day, swiping one of these wipes across your face and neck can make you feel like a whole new person. Not the best at removing makeup but that’s not really their point so I’m okay with that.

Face Balm: This was the surprise MVP of the group for me. At first I was disappointed that the texture wasn’t thick, creamy or balm-like. It’s definitely a serum texture. Also, it’s really realllly lightweight and is ever so slightly tacky before it dries. It dries matte and leaves my skin feeling smooth and hydrated. I’m used to slathering my face with oils and heavier creams so this was an adjustment but I just loved the results. I’ll still use oils and heavier creams at night (or sometimes mixed with this product) but this is just perfect to put on under makeup on a hot Summer morning.

Shave Cream: This is another favorite. Sure, guys will love using this non toxic, non-irritating, luxurious cream on their face but I used it too and loved it. Close shave and smooth legs. Another summer essential! Sign me up.

Can’t commit? Grab a sampler pack for $5 or try one of their travel-sized products.

Green, Clean Home Part Three: AMAZING Sink and Tub Cleaner

eco friendly cleaning, green cleaning, diy home supplies, non toxic kitchen cleaning

Welcome to part three! Sink and tub basins can get pretty gross, and they can seem hard to fully clean, even with toxic cleansers. I feel like I’ve probably tried everything from toxic cleaners to expensive natural sprays from the health food store but this little recipe and a little elbow grease is my go-so solution for sinks and tubs. And you don’t have to leave the room because it smells so chemical-laden like some store-bought “magic” sprays or solutions.

Step 1 >>> Lightly sprinkle baking soda everywhere. Baking soda is abrasive, which is why it is helpful and effective to clean tub and sink surfaces. A word of caution: use it sparingly so you don’t inadvertently scratch the surface of your sink or tub.

easy natural sink tub cleaner baking soda

Step 2 >>> Spray on your magical cleaning mix (Find the recipe in Green Clean Home Part Two).

green clean home series,

Step 3 >>> Walk away and let it sink in (har har har) for at least 30 minutes. The white vinegar in the spray will react with the baking soda and bubble up a bit.

Step 4 >>> Lightly buff the surface with a microfiber cloth or gentle scrubber sponge.

Step 5 >>> Rinse thoroughly with water, and enjoy your sparkling tub and/or sink!

Let me know if you try this at home and how it works for you!

Green, Clean Home: Part Two (Magic Cleaning Spray)

eco friendly cleaning, green cleaning, diy home supplies, non toxic kitchen cleaning

This recipe is based on lots you can find on the internet or passed down from grandparents. Many people swear by just one or two of the ingredients in this spray. I find that this mix is the most effective for the most messes in my home from scuffs on the walls to messy kitchen and bathroom counter tops to spot-treating floors.

In an effort to cut down on plastic in my home, and because I think it somehow helps the efficacy of the spray mixture, I use glass spray bottles. You can buy them on Amazon (I use these), or you can reuse (well-rinsed) glass Apple Cider Vinegar bottles and either buy spray tops or reuse tops from other spray bottles. If you reuse a spray top from another product, you must clean and rinse it very thoroughly. If you don’t, there may be unintended reactions between the old product and this mixture. Some chemicals don’t play nice!

non toxic all purpose DIY spray cleaner

I eyeball this recipe now, but here are the basic ratios that work for me:

1 cup distilled (boiled) water, still warm but not scalding
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon (one small squirt) dish soap
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
Optional: 10-20 drops of lemon, orange or tangerine essential oil

Swirl the water and vinegar together. Then add the dish soap, swirl to combine. Add the hydrogen peroxide and voilá, you have an effective natural all-purpose cleaning spray! Safe to use around children and pets.

Let me know if you use this recipe at home and how it works for you!


Green, Clean Home: Part One (Kitchen Sponge)

eco friendly cleaning, green cleaning, diy home supplies, non toxic kitchen cleaning

Welcome to PART ONE of my “Green, Clean Home” series!

Eco-friendly, safe and healthy cleaning starts with the humble yet useful … sponge. Why douse your whole kitchen with a spray with lots of extra unnecessary ingredients like fragrance when you can handle most messes with just water and a sponge? Why grab half a roll of paper towels when you can sop up more liquid with a sponge?

I bet you didn’t think someone could have a favorite kitchen sponge. Well, this sponge is pretty darn great. This sponge fits all the criteria I look for in anything I bring into my home – it’s nice-looking, works really well, is environmentally friendly, and is well made. Booyah. (Do people still say booyah? I hope so, it’s so wonderfully expressive.)

Meet the Pura Naturals Household Sponge with Scrubber.

Made from plant-based, renewable resources in the USA. Muuuuuusic to my ears. Not so much music to the ears (uh, ears?) of the messes in my kitchen.

Tackles grease and food mess in pots and pans, on my stove, on my counter, on my cabinets. The scrubber side works well but isn’t going to mess with your finishes. The soft side is super-super-duper (that’s the scientific term) absorbent. I love the fact that Pura Naturals guarantees their sponges will stay fresh even with heavy use without requiring santization. I’m a habitual sanitizer of sponges – in the microwave, in the dishwasher, or by pouring boiling water on them. I think it was a habit neuroses passed along to me by my dear Mom. While I still might splash some hot water on this sponge occasionally – it has been holding up really well but doesn’t hold on to gross odors.

Check them out on Grommet or look for them in your local stores. I have my eye on the ‘regular’ Household Sponge next, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to live without the scrubber now that it’s in my life.

The Pura Naturals sponges I like best aren’t infused with soap but they also make a bunch of sponges that are already filled with all-natural soap flakes. Perfect for camping!

The nice people at Pura Naturals sent me some sponges to test out in my home but this post is 100% my opinion. If you need proof that I use this sponge daily, we can set up a video conference ;)

Where Have I Been?

It’s been pretty quiet on, but here are some other places I’ve been on the world wide web recently… (click through the images to go to the posts!)

how to work from home with a baby, working from home with kids, wahm

perfectly filtered bvt moms blog meredith bay tyack

I have lots of posts planned for Meredith Tested this Spring including green beauty reviews, skincare reviews, eco-friendly home tips, food and cooking tips as well as starting to post more Vermont-based reviews of products, restaurants, etc. I hope you’ll stay tuned!

xo, Meredith

Meredith Tested: Favorite USA-Made Baby Items

ususa made baby

Time flies when you have a newborn to care for (and stare at, and play with, and snuggle!) We tried to stay minimal in terms of baby items but there’s no doubt about it: babies use a lot of stuff! Now that I have a few months under my belt I’m sharing a few of my current favorite baby items, all made in America.

    1. California Baby 8.5oz Super Sensitive Shampoo & Bodywash
      This brand is beloved by many parents (and us!) because of the natural ingredients as well as the fact that the line is widely available in stores and online.
    2. CJ’s BUTTer Spritz
      There is a lot of buzz about this brand on cloth diaper websites and forums but I didn’t try it until recently. It really is the best – helps with diaper area rash and is easy to apply (and not get all over your hands) since it’s a spray. The ingredients are simple and healthy for baby. Grab the unscented version if you are avoiding added fragrance.
    3. Cloth Diapering
      There are so many USA-made cloth diapers and diaper accessories from small makers and work-at-home-moms to larger companies. I’ve only scratched the surface of available brands, but my absolute favorites so far are: Thirsties (I used the duo wrap size 1 with a prefold when my daughter was a newborn), BumGenius (I mainly use BG 4.0 pocket diapers) and TinyTush (I like the Elite 2.0 pocket diapers) for diapers and Geffen Baby (check out this handy chart to figure out which ones you need) for absorbent inserts.
    4. Solly Baby Wrap Ox Blood
      This is a great “entry level” wrap that’s lightweight, easy to use and oh so comfy for you and your baby. I use it almost every day and wore her for the first time when she was 3 days old. Similar to the ever-popular Moby Wrap, this one is lighter, easier to transport and made in America by an adorable family. The brand has tutorials on their site but I found this tutorial with a stretchy wrap to be more helpful. Once you get into the “world” of babywearing, there are tons of other brands of structured carriers and wraps that are USA-made or responsibly manufactured. I’m just dipping my toe into this world, but I’ve got my eye on a woven wrap from the Poe Wovens company.
    5. Ultimate SwaddleThe “Happiest Baby on the Block” calming technique has worked well for our daughter so we use swaddle blankets every day. While my husband prefers the Halo wrap with velcro, I like a “double swaddle” with two of these blankets to make sure our little Houdini doesn’t pull out her arms and startle herself awake. Just make sure you focus the tight-ness on their arms and not their little hips as there’s mixed information out there about too-tight swaddles contributing to hip dysplasia.
    6. Logan and Lenora wet bags
      Every parent needs at least one wet bag – a bag that’s totally 100% water- (and smell-) proof for dirty clothing, diapers, etc. I have at least one in my diaper bag at all times. I love Logan and Lenora’s sophisticated prints and the quality/materials is wonderful.
    7. Madeline’s Box pacifier clip
      slide_1_alt.jpgThese clips are an adorable and more elegant solution to pacifiers, teethers or other toys your abe likes to chew on constantly falling out of their mouth and on the floor. While I have other clips, I now exclusively use Madeline’s Box clips because they are the perfect length, the clip stays put and they look great.
  1. Liberty Bottleworks bottle with straw top
    Okay, this isn’t for the baby but it will definitely benefit him/her! Breastfeeding mamas need to drink a LOT and having a bottle of water by my side all day long is the only way to stay properly hydrated. I like having a straw versus a glass because I’m less likely to spill. Liberty Bottleworks has two sizes (24oz and 32 oz) and lots of great designs. They are made in America of recycled aluminum, are high quality to last a long time, and I can slip the 24-ounce bottle into the side of my diaper bag on the go. I bought mine on Amazon and locally in Burlington, Vermont at Outdoor Gear Exchange.