Friday, October 18, 2019

Super HOT Halloween candy deal at Smith's

This week Smith's is having a great sale on Halloween candy.

It gets better.

Today and tomorrow only (10/18-10/19) they have a digital coupon where ALL of their Halloween candy and Halloween home is 50% OFF SALE prices.

That is HOT!

It gets better.  If you like the movies.

Some of the bags of candy are specially marked that if you buy two bags, you get a free Fandango movie ticket.

That is HOT HOT HOT!

I think it would be a smart move to head on over to your nearest Smith's ASAP. ;)  And then to the movies.  Wohoo!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Good Shea Butter; 3 Things that You Need to Know Right Now

What should shea butter look like?  What should shea butter smell like?  Does shea butter go bad or expire?  Does shea butter clog pores?  What is grade A shea butter?  Which brand of shea butter is best?

Any of these questions swirling around in your head right now?  Don't worry, I had the same questions about 2 years ago and I'm here to clear the air a bit.

#1:  There is a lot of misinformation circulating about shea butter.  From blog posts to reporters, and even from the shea manufacturers, exporters, importers, and retail sellers themselves, there is a lot of hearsay about shea butter.  So try to make sure that what you learn is backed up with some proof.

#2:  High quality fresh shea butter is going to look like this:
  • Light ivory beige color
  • Soft, fondant (play dough) consistency
  • Rancid-free smell (a little nutty, sweet, earthy, maybe a little smokey)
#3:  Good shea is going to have laboratory analysis to back it up.  Different organizations will rank superior quality shea butter as Grade A or Grade 1.  TO BE GRADE A (or Grade 1) IT MUST BE TESTED and comply with requirements.  Just because it is tested, does not mean that it is high grade.  You need to know how to read that report.  Here are the two readings to which I pay the most attention:
  • Free Fatty Acids (must be less than 3%)
  • Unsaponifiable Matter (can be from 1 to 19%, with 1 being the least desirable...the very highest I have found has had 9%)
NOTE:  Grading of shea butter is very different than Certified Organic or Fair Trade.  A shea butter can be Grade A/1 and not be Certified Organic or Fair Trade.  Likewise, just because a shea butter is Certified Organic and Fair Trade, that does not mean that it is a superior grade butter.

NOTE:  Lots of people will say that the color of shea butter can be any color from ivory to greenish to gray.  That is true but high quality shea butter is not going to be brown, green, or gray...shea butters with those colors are going to have bad peroxide laboratory readings.  This means that the shea kernels were roasted too long.  And a yellow-ish butter is an indication that it was produced with rotten kernels.  (The only exception to the rotten kernels thing is yellow shea butter that has been dyed with herbs or roots and this will be very BRIGHT.)  One more indication of shea being made from rotten kernels is a low melting point (lower than 35.0 C).


What is cold pressed shea butter?  Shea butter that has been processed with a screw expeller press after the kernels have been roasted.

What does shea butter do for your skin?  Feeds, moisturizes, and protects

Is it okay to put shea butter on your face? Yes!

Can shea butter go bad? YES!  Usually shea butters are good for 1-4 years, depending on their quality.  Air, water, sunlight can all contribute to shea butter going bad BEFORE its expiration date.  Store your shea in a cool, dark place in a sealed container.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sans Pareil Nilotica Shea Butter Review

UPDATE:  Lab results are in and most of the values look great.  Free Fatty Acids are borderline at 3.5% and unsaponifiable matter is not even measured.  My view is that if you are set on getting shea nilotica that you can purchase from San Pareil or Viva Naturals (I used to not recommend Viva but they do have a fresh batch in and so it might not be rancid like the batch I initially got).  If you are okay with West African shea butter, then I suggest you go with one of my recommended brands since West African shea butter is not as pricey as East African (Nilotica) shea butter.

UPDATE:  I don't know what the laboratory analysis is for this brand of shea butter, so I am unsure as to whether or not it is truly superior quality.  All of its physical properties indicate that it is high quality, but lab results are important.

Okay, let's start off with a brand of rare shea butter that is well-sourced, put together, transparent, and currently well-priced--Sans Pareil Shea Butter.

Source:  Uganda
Processing Method: Cold-pressed
Ethics: Fair-trade & Sustainable
Butter Aesthetics:  Cream Colored & Smooth
Performance:  Highly Absorbable & Light Outer Protective Layer
Brand Aesthetics:  Transparent, Traceable, and Top-Notch
Buy at: Sans Pareil Naturals Website or Amazon

Sans Pareil Shea butter is from Uganda.  Ugandan shea butter, or East African shea butter, or Nilotica shea butter, is from the species Vitellaria Nilotica.  Nilotica shea butter has more oleic content than western shea butter from the species Vitellaria Paradoxa.  This means it is smoother and melts faster.

Regarding their processing methods, San Pareil reports:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Best Shea Butter: The Ultimate Shea Butter Review

good brand of shea butter
A sampling of the shea butter I have tried
Before reading my micro reviews on shea butter brands, please consider the following:
  1. Shea butter quality varies from batch to batch.  Region, rainfall, and processing methods are all significant quality factors.
  2. Brands of shea butter can switch their supplier and this effects quality.  For example, Naissance (wonderful company) recently switched suppliers and unfortunately, the new batch does not have good Free Fatty Acid results but their previous supplier's batch had phenomenal lab results.
  3. Fresh high quality shea butter should look, feel, and smell a certain way.  It should be light ivory beige, have a fondant-like texture, and smell slightly earthy, nutty, sweet, or smokey.
  4. Laboratory analysis is the only way to confirm that a batch is high quality with solid levels of unsaponifiable matter. 
Just because I recommend a certain brand right now, the next batch of shea butter that they get in might not be up to quality standards.  And vice versa! ;)  That being said, a brand that values high quality shea butter AND understands how it should be processed AND understand the value of laboratory testing SHOULD ensure that all the shea butter they distribute is truly high quality.  I'm still searching for such a brand.  ;)  If you have found one, please comment!

Now for the mini reviews!  Once again, this review only pertains to the batch that I ordered.  I recommend you do your own research on the brand's current batch of inventory before ordering.

Review KEY:
Smile = Recommended
Frown = NOT recommended
$! = Pricey  
Stikethrough = No longer in production
FFA = Free Fatty Acids
Unsaps = Unsaponifiable Matter

Brands I have tried:
Ancient Health Remedies ☹ Excessive FFA 7.12% WWW supplier
Anjou Naturals
Beuna Skin ☹$!  Unresponsive company.
Bulk Naturals Etsy --waiting on lab analysis--
Dr. Ferrin's ☹ Company unresponsive & WWW seems to be supplier.
Green Leaf Naturals ☹ No lab testing available
Karitex 😊☹ My first batch was great with smooth, light nutty sweet scent.  BUT the second batch was smelling rancid and plasticy.  I transferred it to a new container and let it sit, then melted it and cooled it in the freezer.  It helped the smell.  This batch was also too soft/oily for me.  Super sad beause is is fair trade, certified organic, with excelly labs.  FFA 2.5-3.5% and Unsaps 7-10% YEAH!  Can also buy bulk on their website.
Kate Blanc Cosmetics Borderline FFA 3.46%.  Unsaps not measured.
Naissance:  A favorite brand of mine BUT their new supplier's unrefined butter has FFA 6.45%.  However, the clay refined butter labs are great with unsaps at 5%.  Company is fair trade.
Nubian Heritage ☹ Very rancid.
PURE by Rachelle Parker ☹ Company won't provide analysis.
Rise N Shine ☹ FFA too high 4.48%
Sans Pareil Naturals 😊 Very fresh batch of Shea Nilotica. Borderline FFA 3.5%
SheaTerra Organics $! --waiting on analysis--
Slice of Nature (East Shea Oil)
Smell Good 😊 So far the only company with satisfactory lab analysis that has low levels of FFA and Peroxide, with moderate levels of unsaponifiable matter 4.06%. Most economically priced and claim to be fair trade.
Superior Shea: 😊$! Fresh 2018 batch with Unsaps 5.63% and low FFA 0.96% with strong smell.  Fair trade for sure.  But shipping makes it $22/lb which is steep.
Viva Naturals ☹ Jar was nearing exp and rancid. However, since then they have bought a new batch of shea nilotica and I am considering a purchase.  It would be identical to Sans Pareil Naturals because Guru Nanak is the manufacturer.
Zavebe ☹ Awfully rancid.

Brands that I've looked into (this is mostly for my own records):
Afrikinky Shea Butter: Waiting on labs. GSA member. Company unresponsive.
Alaffia: They don't test every batch, and their lab averages for FFA are btwn 1.07-8.56% and Unsaponifiable Fraction averages are 2.21 – 4.18%.
Anthony's Goods: Completely unresponsive
Baraka: Canadian company with really good lab readings.  Just wish unsaponifiables were higher than 2.06%
Better Shea Butter:  They only do cosmetic testing, which doesn't show unsaps.
Bramble Berry: Cold-pressed Refined Unsaponifiables 6% No returns.
Bulk Apothecary: Unsaps not measured on unrefined but refined Unsaps are 5.8 and FFA 0.20%
Coastal Scents: Doesn't do testing.
Daolus: Unresponsive, Nigerian, GSA member, waiting on labs.
Essential Depot: FFA too high 7.2!
FairTale Ghana: $! Very fair trade. Awesome labs but unsaps not measured.
From Nature with Love: Refined but consider the Unsaps 6.6% and FFA 0.010%.
Good Earth Spa: FFA 5.45% too high!
Green Factory: Waiting on labs.
Key West: Does not test their shea.
Mary Tylor Naturals: Labs really good. Unsaps possibly above 4% but not sure about the latest batch.
Liberty Natural Products: Good unsaponifiable matter levels 6-9% but current stock is pretty old although they regularly monitor their expiration dates.  I will most likely be ordering from them in the future.  Search "shea butter" and click on special yellow for the highest Unsaps.
Lotion Crafter: FFA too high 7.2%, unsaps not measured.
Naturise Good lab readings except low unsaponifiable Matter 1.4
Rustic Escentuals: High FFA 6.06% Unsaps not even measured
Shea Butter Source:  Canadian company that seems awesome but I have no labs. Have to buy a big box.
SheaGrowers:  Good labs, but unsaps not measured.
Sky Organics: Company unwilling to share lab results.
Soap Expressions Candlewic: Sold by gallon. Refined. Unsaps 5.8.
Village Shea Butter: Waiting on labs.
Yellow Brick Road: Company unresponsive with results.
Zaturals: FFA too high 5.04%.  Unsaps not measured.

If you are a company wanting to send me shea butter for review, please contact me using the form to the right.  I do have high standards and will require a copy of your (or your supplier's) lab results, also called Certificate of Analysis.  You can't sell shea butter as Grade A or Grade 1 without proof to back it up.

Why I love shea butter:
Shea butter has transformed my skin.  It's not that shea butter makes my skin's that it makes my skin feel so healthy that I just don't enjoy the feel of makeup on my skin.  Which is really really odd for this make-up loving guru to say...because, hello, makeup is so fun!  But the bluntness in me cannot deny the change shea butter has made in my life.  I love good shea butter from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Best Stovetop Cleaners

Stovetop Cleaner Test 1:
Purpose: Test different cleaning methods on the stove top.
Method: I divided bottom left burner into four sections.  I timed myself for one minute cleaning with four different cleaners.
Cleaners to be tested: Shaklee Scour Off, rubbing alcohol, E-cloth Stove & Range, and Magic Eraser.
Cleaning with Shaklee Scour Off, rubbing alcohol, E-cloth, Magic Eraser
Results:  Magic Eraser was the clear winner.  It thoroughly cleaned it's section within a minute. Second place was Shaklee Scour Off. In third place was the E-cloth stove and range cloth. The clear loser was rubbing alcohol.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Teaching Letters and Sounds

FRUGAL FRIDAY POST:  How I teach letters and sounds for FREE!

Over the years, I have tried to teach the letters and sounds to my kids.  Some years I have been more motivated than others.  Well, I think I have finally found a great way that works for me.

Not only is it free, it is simple.  As a mom of seven, free and simple are what I need! ;)  I use all three methods together and find them effective.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cheapest places to buy Beef Bones for making Bone Broth

Have you jumped on the bone-broth-bandwagon yet?  If so, you might be wondering where in the world you go to buy beef bones for making bone broth because buying a good quality pre-made gelatinous bone broth is pricey.  Well, beef bones can be pricey too, with an average price between $5-$7/lb.

Here are my top two choices for where to buy inexpensive beef bones: