Monday, November 7, 2011

Melaleuca, Day One

My Melaleuca Value Pack arrived today. Kind of funny how excited I was to get that box full of cleaning products. I opened it with the help of my two-year-old, who immediately wanted the food items; the crackers and the Access Chocolate Caramel Kruncher Bars. Then he tried (unsuccessfully) to open some vitamins, and successfully opened the Renew Lotion, which he spread onto his face and legs, but didn't rub in.

I used the Platinum Bar soap in the shower. I was going to use the shampoo and conditioner but it was safety sealed and I couldn't open it with wet hands. I should have checked before I got into the shower! ;)

I used the Renew Lotion on my son's bumpy legs after his shower, and it appeared very soothing, although the ingredients in the product didn't wow me, especially the petroleum it contained.

After our family shower, I mixed up the Sol-u-mel cleaner (I've heard good things about this cleaner!), the stain lifter, and the tub and shower cleaner. These products came in small, concentrated bottles and need to be mixed with water. (Points for that!) I sprayed the sol-u-mel on the inside of a couple of our cupboards, and as I did this, I realized that this particular product will probably be useful in helping to combat our mold problem. Seven months ago we moved into a house that's on the shore of Lake Erie, and the moist air equals mold on just about every surface.

Next I tackled one of my son's shirts with the stain lifter. His adorable white shirt has been worn twice, on days when he drank berry smoothies, ate blueberries, played with chalk, etc... We'll see how that washes up.

Finally, I sprayed the tub and tile cleaner in the wet shower. I'm not going to rinse it off right away, I wanted to see how it worked if I didn't rinse, kind of like that easy after-shower spray.

Oh, and I took a pack of vitamins, and I tried the lip balm, the melagel (for a scrape on my finger), and the tea tree oil (to add to my homemade deodorant).

My first reaction to my experience is that the ingredients in the products aren't that much different from mainstream products, and the prices are not great. Furthermore, in order to reach my required 35 points, I will have to spend between 50 and 75 dollars per month. We don't spend anywhere near that each month on cleaning products. I have found natural, competitively-priced, effective products and have been using them for years, so I'm going to be comparing those products to Melaleuca's products to see how they match up. Despite my pessimism, I'm still REALLY hoping that I can find enough products to maintain my membership. And if I do maintain my membership, I will certainly share my concern about how typical their products are.

Tomorrow I hope to go into more detail about specific products. I will also be sharing the tub cleaner and sol-u-mel with my secretary, who has severe breathing problems and who ends up on predisone every time she cleans her tub because of the fumes in her current cleaning products.

I'm still excited about the possibilities, even though I'm a little disappointed in the ingredients so far.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My new experiment

Recently I decided to take the plunge and try Melaleuca products. I had heard of the company a few years ago when a friend brought it to my attention, but I looked into it and didn't go with it for two reasons:
1) There is a requirement that customers purchase 35 "points" every month, which I estimate is about $50. I don't spend anywhere near that on cleaning products every month and thought that it seemed like a pretty big requirement. (If you forget to place an order one month or if you don't meet the 35 point requirement, you have a "backup order" on reserve that they automatically send out. The idea of that, frankly, scares me a little, being *obligated* to make those purchases every month.)
2) I couldn't find out definitively if the products were tested on animals. Nothing explicitly stated that their products were *not* tested on animals, which can usually be taken to mean that products, at some point in the manufacturing process, *are* tested on animals. (Many Bath and Body Works products, for example, say "This finished product not tested on animals," which means that the ingredients *were* tested on animals. Nice try, BBW, but I know how to read labels.) When I emailed Melaleuca to ask if their products are tested on animals, their reply suggested that I call their customer service number, something that I really didn't have the time or the inclination to do. (I very, very rarely take or make personal calls at work, and had little time to do so at home.)

So I'm going to tell the next part of the story (about how I came to hear about Melaleuca a second time) in bullet points because I think it will be efficient and fun:

--April/May 2010--Chris, Gabe, and I went to Orlando.
--While Chris was riding something at Disney's Magic Kingdom, I was sitting in the shade with Gabe on a sweltering 90+ degree day.
--A lovely woman sat down next to me and we had a conversation that made me feel like I'd known her for years. It was kind of creepy, actually, because I had some things on my mind that were causing me a lot of stress, and out of the blue, she asked me about the exact thing I had been thinking about. To this day, I still can't quite believe that not only did we meet (out of the literally THOUSANDS of people there!), but that she felt compelled to bring up such a potentially volatile subject with me!
--We exchanged contact info, became Facebook friends, and have kept in touch since.
--Late this past summer she contacted me and invited me to a webinar about healthy living, with the possibility of a business opportunity.
--The webinar talked about how most cleaning products people use are toxic, and then they introduced Melaleuca, explaining that they're natural, effective, competitively priced, convenient, etc...

I was both very interested and very skeptical at the same time because:
--I'm extremely picky about the products I buy. I scrutinize labels and ingredients.
--It is important to me that products are not tested on animals and that all ingredients are natural. I'm opposed to artificial fragrances, colors, parabens, phosphates, etc...
--I need for products to be cost-effective. I will spend more money for products from companies that are environmentally conscious, but I currently use effective, green products that are not terribly expensive, and I need to make sure that Melaleuca isn't actually going to cost me more money for products that are neither more effective nor a better value.
--Furthermore, I don't use large amounts of any product. A bottle of this or a tube of that seems to last me twice as long as it would for a "normal" person, and it's not because I don't use it enough. For example, I use probably less than half of the amount of toothpaste than my husband uses, and my teeth are WAY cleaner. Using MORE doesn't make something work better.

Now I'm going to step up on my soapbox about ingredients in products by telling a little story about myself. I used to be an "at home" consultant for The Body Shop. I originally started buying the products because the company is totally against animal testing, but as a consultant, I got to know the products better, and I discovered that they were nowhere near as natural as they claimed. I was so disappointed and let down. I believed in the company, but I actually had customers who were more conscious consumers than I was (at the time) educate me on the ingredients of some of the products. I was highly embarrassed, both because I didn't know what the ingredients were, and because the "natural" products I was selling were not natural after all.

Melaleuca's tagline is "The Wellness Company," so I have high hopes that they will meet my needs and high expectations. I plan on using this arc of my blog to compare ingredients and prices of the products I try so I can, over the course of my 120 day money back guaranteed trial period, determine whether or not I should continue with my membership or request my money back. I would like for this blog to serve both as a record of my reasons for sticking with, or not sticking with, the company, and as a place people can learn more about the products and the company. Members also get referral bonuses when other customers sign up under them, so if this does end up being a good fit for me and if I choose to share membership information with other people, this will serve as a record of my journey with a company that lives up to their promises.

I feel like the tone of this post, and probably my attitude overall, is one of skepticism. That is true. A very large part of me doubts that the products are *that* natural and safe, and that they're *that* cost effective, and that they work *that* well. But I also have to say that I'm SUPER excited!!! I ordered the starter kit on Oct 31 and I feel kind of silly constantly checking the tracking to see when my huge box of cleaning supplies will arrive at our door. (I smirk when I make that statement, because I'm not known for neat-freakishness. My house is not sloppy in any way--overall it's tidy and clean--but certainly not spotless like some of my friends' houses seem to be!)

I'm looking forward to this journey, and I hope I can provide readers with honest, useful information!

Monday, September 5, 2011

vegan no-bake chocolate peanut butter protein bars

I'm looking for foods that I can easily eat at work. I'm thinking that some different kinds of "bars" would be good...kind of like granola bars, because they're so handy. I've made muffins in the past but I make them really moist and end up having to eat them with a fork. (They're probably also so crumbly because I use almost all oatmeal and very little flour.) I found a recipe for vegan no bake chocolate peanut butter protein bars that I thought I'd try at some point. I'm posting it here so I remember where it is!

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1504166

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Plans to make homemade laundry soap and natural fabric dye

When I started cloth diapering (almost two years ago!), I used Soap Nuts for all of our laundry. They work well, but occasionally some garments didn't come out as clean or fresh smelling as we'd like, so I went back to using unscented, dye-free Seventh Generation liquid detergent (which we already had in the house, but that I hadn't used in nearly two years). As the jug kept getting lighter and lighter, I started wondering what I'd do when I ran out. Would I go back to using Soap Nuts full-time? Would I go out and buy a new detergent? If the latter were the case, which one would I buy? Scented or unscented? Liquid or powder? And the big question--which would be the most environmentally friendly choice.

Around the time I started thinking about this, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook about how she had made her own laundry soap and that she HIGHLY recommended other people give it a try. I was really glad that she so passionately shared her experience because it really got me thinking about taking the plunge. What I didn't like, though, was that the recipe made FIVE GALLONS of liquid detergent. I'm sure I'd use it, but that amount just seemed like it would be cumbersome to deal with. I did some laundry today and realized that within a couple weeks, I'd have to buy more detergent if that's what I wanted to do, so I started looking for recipes, and they weren't hard to find at all! The one I liked best was one for powdered soap--a bar of grated soap (Fels Naptha, Ivory, Pure & Natural, or one other one, I think it's called Zote), one cup of washing soda, and one cup of borax--stir these three ingredients for several minutes, and use about a tablespoon of detergent per load.

This recipe came from a blog post (http://www.diynatural.com/simple-easy-fast-effective-jabs-homemade-laundry-detergent/), and in the comments I read that you can use any castile soap. Dr. Brooner's bar soap was mentioned, and I know they have naturally scented soap, so I think I'm going to buy some when we're out shopping tomorrow. I prefer mildly scented things to completely unscented things, but if I have to choose between unscented and highly and/or artificially scented, I would go with the former. Strong artificial scents make me feel like I'm going to pass out, and I'm not being melodramatic.

In my quest for other natural homemade soap recipes, I came across this blog post:
http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2009/04/natural-homemade-laundry-detergent/. I actually can't wait to catch up on her other posts because it looks like a REALLY cute blog.

And I've been thinking of dyeing some fabric, but of course I want it to be as natural as possible, so I found this post: http://earthdivasblog.com/2010/07/13/how-to-dye-fabric-with-natural-dyes/. Another blog I'm going to have to try to catch up on.

Ooh, I love projects. I'm actually feeling a little depressed because I feel like I don't have time to finish anything. Heck, I barely have time to START anything! And on top of that, I'm back to work now. I know, I know...everyone else does it, so I shouldn't be complaining, but I feel like I spend all of my time making everyone else happy and I'm the last person on my list to be taken care of. And the thing is, I don't want to go out for girls nights and yoga all of the time...I want to STAY IN so I can sew, bake, make a frickin' candle, whatever. I need to get my hands dirty but one of them always seems to be holding a toddler. (Sorry, I'm feeling spread pretty thin lately, and today it was just getting to me, because on top of being spread thin, I'm utterly exhausted.)

A while ago I said that I was going to do some work that I didn't get to finish this past week when I was actually *at work*, but I've spent the last 45 minutes or so researching laundry detergents, reading articles, and writing this. Time to get to work, and maybe when I'm done I can continue my research.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Articles to bookmark

Since this page is, apparently, becoming my place to keep track of what I read, I thought I'd save two links here for future reference.

First, an article about "What the Bible Really Says About Routine Infant Circumcision". For those who argue that they believe in circumcision "for religious reasons," here is some food for thought about how you are NOT honoring God by agreeing to this procedure. (And for what it's worth, there's no medical benefit to it, either, and doing it "to look like Daddy" is ridiculous...I think that people are going to notice things like eye color and face shape, and not whether their penises match.) http://www.udonet.com/circumcision/christian.html

The second is an article from Psychology Today called, "Believing "children are resilient" may be a fantasy". People get so hung up on the fact that "they'll get through it" that they forget to nurture their children. Now, I DO believe that children will "get through it," but HOW they get through it helps shape who they are on the other side. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201106/believing-children-are-resilient-may-be-fantasy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shape; August 2011

I just realized something about my new goal to summarize magazine articles...it will help me keep track of where I am in the magazine!

P24--there's a half-marathon in RI where live bands play along the route. Similar events are being held in other cities. Sounds cool...too bad I don't run unless I'm being chased. (For the record, I would love to run, but my knees and feet just can't handle it.)

An article on page 32 mentions body confidence, and asks if a man thinks twice about taking off his shirt and showing his potbelly. Nope, I don't think they do think twice about showing off the potbelly...but sometimes I wish they would. Nothing wrong with putting in a little effort to look nice for your wife. Just sayin'...

The book "What I Wore" mentioned on page 40 looks good. I could use some fashion advice. I have no skill whatsoever in that area.

Breaking my habit of collecting too much stuff

I have a problem with keeping things around the house. I do this for a couple reasons...one is that I'm afraid that if I get rid of it, I'll need it. I'm surprised that after holding onto something for YEARS, I'll get rid of it and find out that I needed it within a few days of saying goodbye. It happens at home and at work. At work I'll hold onto a stack of papers from three years ago, decide it's safe to shred them because the students are entering their senior year of college...then one of them will call me asking about letters of recommendation or something like that. As much as I'd like to, there's obviously no way I can remember some of those smaller details about all of my students.

In order to tackle the problem at home, though, I've decided that I'm going to start with my magazines. I keep magazines around because they contain good articles or exercises or whatever. I know it will be time-consuming, but I think I'm going to work on summarizing articles, then after I've written my summary, the magazine can go to the recycling bin or to someone else who might want to read it. Obviously this is more for my reference than for your reading enjoyment, but if it does end up helping one person, it's worth it!