About the Products and Stores Blog

This blog isn't about luxury products or finding the cheapest "deal" out there. It's about products that are green and sustainable without breaking the bank. It's about eliminating WASTE, protecting the ENVIRONMENT, and getting VALUE! I research and comparison shop on practically every purchase I make -- and now I'm sharing all my hard work with you. Hopefully, we'll save you a few minutes of your own time while helping you find some products you'll love!


The Lundberg crunchy chips we love
If you want a chip that isn't made from wheat (gluten), corn (GMO), or isn't chock full of chemically-sounding ingredients, try organic, non-GMO, whole grain, gluten free Lundberg chips. As part of the Sustainable Food Trade Association, this is a family-owned and operated business. So when you eat their products, you can feel good that you're supporting an eco-friendly organization committed to sustainability.

Of course, non of that matters if the chips don't taste good! Thankfully, that's not the case here: we LOVE them. They are made from a variety of whole grain, such as red rice, quinoa and brown rice, which makes them really crunchy. Add onto that the great selection of flavors including Cinnamon Sugar, Aged White Cheddar, and Sea Salt Rice Chips. Give them a try, we think you'll like them!

Posted in Food | View Post
Over 50 Artist Icon_Meet Susan Unterberg
This is the 2nd in my series of Over 50 Ladies of Inspiration. Susan Unterberg and her sister inherited a foundation from their father. So, for the last 22 years, she has paid out a total of $5.5 MILLION (yes millions!) to support under-recognized female artists over age 40.

Now you may ask, "is it really necessary to provide this kind of support to female artists?" The answer is a resounding YES. Take a look at this fact: It was announced in July 2018 that the National Gallery in London acquired artwork by Artemisia Gentileschi ... THE FIRST TIME THE WORK OF A FEMALE ARTIST AS BEEN ACQUIRED BY THE GALLERY IN 27 YEARS! That doesn't seem possible, does it? But it's true.

So the philanthropy of Unterberg is critical. One of the artists, recently, that received a grant from Unterberg - at a much needed time when she was unable to pay even her rent - was Amy Sherald. She received the grant right before it was announced that she was selected to paint Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery.

As an aside, on a recent trip to D.C., we were able to visit the National Portrait Gallery. As a teen, I had spent many weekends, staying with my grandmother who lived in Washington, and visiting the museums together. But the National Portrait Gallery was limited in its exhibits back then and we never even visited.

But going recently, I was blown away. The building is gorgeous and the exhibits vast and wonderful. The Presidential Hall was fascinating, not just seeing all the portraits, but they have included a vivid description of each President's terms, spelling out challenges and issues of the times. It makes you realize there is no such thing as "the good old days". Politics was always politics and issues, fights, and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs has always been a part of our history. 

So wrapping up, thank you to Susan Unterberg for supporting artists, like Amy Sherald and many others, helping to make it possible to give women a place in the National Portrait Gallery and beyond.

Posted in General Advice | View Post
Beans Wonderful Beans
If you're like me and you love beans - especially a nice, warm bowl of bean soup smiley - you'll love this article about HOW to cook beans. The recipes always say to soak them overnight, but I just don't plan ahead that way. Plus, the times I've cooked them without overnight soaking, they seemed fine.

So I was excited to see this article that tests out the myths of cooking beans.

Epicurious's Myth-Busting Guide to Cooking Beans

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Love Sherpani Crossbody Bags
I love these bags. I'm always looking for good travel bags: flat but expandable. Most of these bags are either eco-friendly, sustainable or recyclable. Love it!! You can buy them at Nordstrom or on the Sherpani website (they post some killer deals).
See Rebel Crossbody bag.

Posted in Handbags | View Post
WeLoveDisney Makeup Bags and Brushes

My 30 year old daughter and I LOVE Disney. I've been through 3 pairs of Disney slip-on sneakers; she wears a Disney cardigan and carries a Disney Dooney Burke handbag. Twice we had annual passes, so we made once per month treks and spent from morning to night at Disneyland and California Adventure. Our favorite ride is Indian Jones, although we’re really hard pressed to narrow it down to just one. Our favorite food is the lobster nachos. For Sarah, that’s followed closely by corn dogs!
It’s hard to explain to Disney "newbies" how going to the parks is a great stress reliever in our very busy lives. Total escapism. We spent hours and hours with only happy thoughts, lots of snacking, people watching, laughing, and a new discovery or two EVERY time we went. At one point, since we had been so frequently, it crossed our minds that the day would come when we couldn’t find a new ride or attraction that he hadn’t already been on or seen. Not the case. There was ALWAYS something new!
Now that we’re not living in LA anymore, we can't wait until we get to go back!
But in the meantime … I love seeing all things Disney. And, so, when I saw this article in, of all places, Cosmopolitan, it quickly caught my eye. Spectrum Collections (read about the sisters that started the business) is launching an adorable line of makeup bags and brushes, featuring Ariel and Ursula. And who knew that even YOU can have your own treasure chest with Ariel’s “dinglehoppers”. “What is a dinglehopper?” you ask. In this case, they are elegantly designed oval makeup brushes, presented in their very own treasure chest! Another thing to love is the collection is vegan and cruelty free with 1% of the revenue going to PLASTIC BANK, a charity that works with local communities to clean up plastic in the oceans.
Now the BAD news … for now, the line is ONLY sold in the UK. Fingers crossed that they decide to cross the ocean. (It’s something that Ariel would do, right?) When they do, I’m snagging the makeup bags. Check out Spectrum’s website.

But wait! There’s also GOOD news for Disney fans …. we Americans may not be able to get the Spectrum Disney collection, but we CAN get L’Oreal Paris Disney makeup collection. At TARGET!!! The collection includes mascara, eye liner, lipstick and more!

To read more about both collections:
Spectrum Disney
L'Oreal Paris Disney

Posted in Beauty | View Post
Aromatherapy Diffuser
I love the idea of a diffuser as a gift because it's the kind of thing most people don't think of buying for themselves! So this year, I had one sent for Christmas to my aunt. As with most things, when I went to order, there were a lot of choices - none of which I knew anything about. A little research turned up this great article .... I wasn't looking at the actual product reviews in this article since I bought the diffuser from Vitamin Shoppe (in order to snag free shipping), but I did want to figure out which type of diffuser works "the best". Read this and you too can become a wiz on diffusers!  Here is the one I decided to go with: My Aunt's Aromatherapy Diffuser.

Posted in Home Fragrances | View Post
Pots and Pans
Since we use our pots and pans on nearly a daily basis - and sometimes multiple times a day - SAFETY is key. Who wants to eat their food along with a little bit of metal? Check out these articles on choosing safe, healthy cookware. Here's what it boils down to: glass, stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel and bamboo steamers.

For more details on this topic:
Healthy Cookware - Guide to Choosing the Safest, Healthiest Cookware
Ceramic Coated and Non-Stick Cookware are Toxic [There is controversy regarding the safety of ceramic coated. Our philosophy is when you have SO many other excellent alternatives, why take the chance? Our recommendation: don't risk your health!]

Art + Cook Carbon Steel Muffin Tins I actually found these at Nordstrom Rack and bought then on a whim. And I LOVE them ...easiest muffin tins I've ever used. I think I paid less than they are in Amazon, but they're still worth it if you can't find them elsewhere.

Also available: Art + Cook Carbon Steel Cookie Sheets

Posted in Kitchen Wares | View Post
DNA Testing
Thinking of doing a DNA test, now that you can get them through daily deal sites for so cheap? I was thinking about buying one, but then I came across this great article. Not only does the author discourage purchasing one of these, but there were numerous people who commented that they'd "found out the hard way" that these are essentially a waste of money. Read this.

Posted in Miscellaneous | View Post
Coffee Filters
While many of the coffee makers don't require filters (they use a "gold-tone filter"), you may still want to consider using filters. Read more about it in this CNET article, which explains that paper filters help strain out the micro-fines and oils, but are also much easier to clean up!

Posted in Kitchen Wares | View Post
Coffee Makers
The coffeemaker you purchase will somewhat depend on cost, so this Good Housekeeping Coffee Makers Review can help you find what is best for your taste and budget. But if you want to spend in the $50 - $100 range, we've narrowed it down to two favorites. These are good choices not only because both lines are reviewed and liked by Good Housekeeping (one in 2016 and the other in 2014), but they both got very high reviews on Amazon. As well, they are sold by top stores, such as Crate and Barrel. Lastly, BestProducts.com, another rating site, gives the Cuisinart DCC-3200 it's #1 thumbs up!

Cuisinart DCC-3200 Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker - Good Housekeeing reviewed a slightly different, but essentially the same model number. This particular model is the #1 top seller on Amazon!! Also, check out the BestProducts ratings, where this coffee maker is #1!

KRUPS EC3140 Savoy Programmable Digital Coffee Maker - The coffee maker is another fan favorite at Amazon. Also given 4 stars by Good Housekeeping.

Posted in Kitchen Wares | 2 Comment(s)