Category: General Wellness (page 2 of 7)

Sunscreen Review


Yes, that’s right. It’s officially summer, and that means lots of time outside. And time outside means we need to protect our skin. It is so important to make sure you pick a sunscreen that doesn’t contain all that extra junk and those nasty chemicals

Before I became “crunchy”, this was never on my radar. Even when I started having awful skin reactions. The summer I was pregnant with Little Miss T, our family went to the beach. I applied sunscreen as usual, and was fine…until a day later. I noticed little red, itchy bumps started appearing on my hands, then up my arm and soon almost most of my upper body was covered. And I. was. miserable. 

It went away after about 3 weeks. But not before I went and had a biopsy done at the dermatologist. That came back with no answers as to what caused it. We just chalked it up to one of those weird pregnancy symptoms that some people deal with. 

Later on that same summer, the boys and I visited my parents at their home down the mountain. It’s always sweltering there in the summer, so sunscreen is a must. 

After a few days the tiny bumps came back! I couldn’t believe it, and got so angry and annoyed at the constant itch, that I could not stop the tears from flowing. Then a lightbulb went off. The last time I experienced this was when I used sunscreen. And not the same sunscreen, mind you. But definitely one that you could buy at any old convenience store, Target, or Walmart. 

I started researching and came across the Environmental Working Groups list of safe sunscreen. They also have a list on unsafe sunscreen, by the way…in case you care to take a peek. Just a heads up…I guarantee you have at least one of the unsafe ones in your cabinet as we speak. I did. 

Living in a small town, it was nearly impossible to find some of these safe options.

So Amazon to the rescue! 

I found and purchased the Blue Lizard brand for the kids and myself. (Mountain Man is still set in his ways on his preferred sunscreen, but I’m working on that). I applied it to the kids and (hesitantly) to myself. I was, for good reason, a bit gun shy on the sunscreen front. 

The results? 

LOVE! It didn’t leave a white chalky residue, and soaked into the skin so well. The best part? I have never had an issue since! Well, except one day, when I was in a hurry to get the kids out of the house and to the park on a beautiful day. In my haste, I couldn’t find the new stuff, and grabbed our old sunscreen that I had forgotten to throw away. I thought to myself. One day won’t hurt. I’ll toss it when we get home. 


I broke out again. But that was the last time. I threw all the old junk away and have never looked back. 

Now, I still use the Blue Lizard for the kids, but I have since branched out to try another brand for myself. I was feeling risky. Plus I have a sweet friend who swears by it, and I trust her brand, so I gave it a shot. 


It’s the BeautyCounter sunscreen. And I’m in love. A little bit truly goes a long way, and it also soaked into my skin well, without leaving a weird white layer caked on. Plus, it didn’t leave any greasy residue either. Win-win. 

Now, before I continue, I will give you a disclaimer here. I am in no way affiliated with BeautyCounter, other than I love their products. That’s literally where the train stops my friend. I do not earn any commissions or kick backs from mentioning this brand. If you have never tried their products, I can put you in touch with my amazing friend. She is a rep for BeautyCounter, and is passionate about what she does, and she can help you out! 

And guess what…this sunscreen is also on the approved list from the EWG! Score! 

So what makes this brand so incredible? The first thing I ever learned about them, was their “Never List”. This is the list they came up with on chemicals that will never make an appearance in any of their products. Period. 

So before you grab for your same-ol’ sunscreen, I beg you to just look at the ingredients. See if they made the safe list. If not, I hope you will consider checking out a safer option. Stay safe, friends…and enjoy your summer, chemical-free!! 

Here’s a super helpful read: 8 Little Known Facts About Sunscreens


Benefits of Cooking in Cast Iron

When I first met Mountain Man, I was such a “girly – girl”.

I wore heels of some sort just about every day, never walked out of the house without having my makeup done, and drove a cute little white chevy sedan with a pretty pink vanity plate that said “Princess”. (insert major eye roll)…

I look back at that girl and she is such a far cry from who I am now, it’s almost comical. But for some reason, Mountain Man still chose to marry me. After almost 10 years of wedded bliss, he’s pretty proud of the fact that he has sufficiently “mountainized” me. I now only own one pair of dressy heels (which I haven’t worn in over 5 years), my makeup is almost never done (unless it’s a church day or date night), and I drive a massive SUV with ginormous tires (that Mountain Man is pretty dern proud of). Oh, and I just said “dern”. 

You’d probably guess that that girl so long ago, also never had much experience in the kitchen, much less cooking with a cast iron skillet. And you’d be correct in your assumption. Never. Not once had I ever used, much less SEEN anyone actually use a cast iron skillet in real life. Enter Mountain Man…

We’d use them occasionally (him more than me), mainly for simple things like grilled cheese sandwiches.

But then after I became pregnant with J-Man, I tested very low in iron. So they gave me iron supplements. Yuck. Those things made me so sick. Then my midwife suggested I try cooking my food in a cast iron skillet. I thought she was crazy, but was willing to give anything a shot, so I wouldn’t have to take those nasty supplements any more. 

Imagine this skeptics surprise, when I went back in a month later and had another test done, and my iron levels were perfect! 

Ever since then, I’ve been an avid user, and proponent for cooking with cast iron. And now, I’ve decided to share with you all just a few of the benefits of using cast iron over the other stuff.

# 1 – Naturally Non-Stick

True story. A well seasoned cast iron pan is naturally non-stick! We recently (hesitantly) attempted scrambled eggs in one of our cast iron pans, and the result was incredible…virtually no clean up!

Did you know that many of those non-stick pans you can buy commercially, contain very dangerous carcinogenic chemicals, called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)? When you cook your food in one of those pans, not only is this chemical being released into your food (especially if your pan is scratched), but it’s also releasing those toxic fumes into your home! Thanks, but no thanks. If that’s not reason enough to at least give cast iron a chance, then I don’t know what is. 

# 2 – Naturally helps boost Iron Levels

Like I mentioned above, my iron levels, during my first pregnancy were so low, that my midwife suggested I cook in cast iron. This is not an “old wives tale”…it truly works, and I have the medical records to prove it!

Now, please don’t think that ALL you have to do it cook in your pan, to get your daily dose of iron. It simply helps boost those levels. I will still always recommend increasing the amount of iron-rich foods you eat, and cook in the pan. The greater acidity of the food, and the longer you cook it in your cast iron, the more iron is transferred

# 3 – Easy to Clean

This was one thing about cast iron, that eluded me for so long. Some people will use water to rinse it off (while it’s still hot) after each use, but we rarely use water to clean ours. 

Most often than not, Mountain Man and I will just scrape out any food bits left over after cooking, and wipe down with a cloth towel. Sometimes we will add a little oil over heat to remove any stubborn parts. Easy Peasy.

 # 4 – Affordable

Ok, so this one is most likely a personal opinion. But hear me out. 

If you buy a brand spankin’ new cast iron piece of cookware, you will most likely pay a pretty penny. However, I have several cast iron skillets, and have never bought one that was new. We are always on the lookout for a nice piece of cast iron, whenever we go to a estate sale, garage/yard sale, or even a thrift store. You never know what you will find, and often times, the ones you find are going to be very well seasoned, in excellent condition, and cost considerably less than any pan you can buy new. BUT if you do decide to buy a brand new one, keep calm and remember #5…

# 5 – Long Lasting

This is one thing I love about our cast iron. Their long lasting-ness (is that a word? It is now…) is proven. Every single cast iron skillet we own has been either given to us from someone whose grandmother used it, or we’ve found them at estate sales. Ours are at least 50 years old, if not older. They are durable, and history has shown that. Over the years, think about how often you’ve had to replace your modern cookware. More often that you realize, I’m sure. And if you haven’t had to replace them, I urge you to take a look at them…a really close look. I bet you will see that they are worn and probably need to be trashed. Especially if it’s a non-stick modern pan (see #1 above). Here’s a great article on how reliable these amazing pans are.

# 6 – Versatile

I’ll be the first to admit, that I had no clue at how very versatile these pans were. You can cook anything in them! Eggs, bacon, steaks, burgers, cornbread, frittatas, pizza, pan cookies (this is on my to-make list …literally the list goes on!

If you are ever in a pinch and have no idea how to cook a specific item in your skillet, Google can be your best friend. Seriously. I’m not too good to Google or YouTube a “how-to” video or tutorial. And there’s a wealth of information out there, in regards to cast iron!

These are just a few, and I’m sure there are a million other reasons why you should at least give it a try. If this high-heeled-city-girl-turned-chaco-wearing-mountain-mama can do it, so can you!

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