Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cardhu Distillery Tour

A couple of weeks ago, one of the AWA ladies organized a tour of the Cardhu Distillery. We took a bus, had a VIP tasting experience, and then headed to Taste of Speyside for another whisky tasting and dinner!

Tea and Coffee first.
Vicki is smelling the barley

Tekara and Chris

Notice the little lion in the crack? He moves around at night and appears in a different spot the next day.

Me signing the guest book.
At the end of the tour, we tasted 5 types of whisky: white lightening, 12 yrs., 15 yrs., 18 yrs., and the special reserve.

Last tasting in the library.
Tekara being silly. No, she was not really drinking. :)

A little something for our tour guides.
And.... tada!! More highland cows!

 Taste of Speyside in Dufftown

Our whisky guide.
Below is a picture of the whisky we tasted and a whisky thief's best friend... the "dog". That metal tube is weighted at the bottom. A string/chain was tied to the loops at the top, and it could be lowered into a cask of whisky. Once filled and capped, it was easily slipped into the trousers of the owner...who then smuggled the near pint of whisky out of the distillery. The owner of Taste of Speyside told me that many of these were found in barrels due to their owner having to abandon the process when somebody was coming!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Natural/Organic Products for Your Skin and Hair - A Review

So, I've written in previous blogs (here1, here2, and here3) about my search for more natural face and hair products with fewer ingredients so that I can reduce the amount of chemicals I am using. I hope that I haven't been driving you crazy with the many posts about this, but it really is a trial and error process! Here is what I've learned so far:

Bionsen Deodorant

 I liked this product. It had a nice smell and worked! This is something to buy if you are looking for a deodorant that is paraben and aluminium free. A search on Google Scholar will provide you with several articles about the relationship between antiperspirant use and breast cancer development including research that reports a high rate of occurrence of breast cancer diagnosis in areas of the breast that come in contact with antiperspirants (Darbre, D. 2003,  McGrath, K.G. 2003, Darbre, D. 2005). Anyway, all in all, I like this product, but for simplicity, I would pass because it still has quite a few other chemicals in it.

 Argan Oil

I really like the argan oil. It smelled nice and one bottle lasted a year for me. I used it on my face before make-up, on my cuticles, and a drop or two on my hair sometimes when things were dry. One ingredient. I'd say that is pretty simple! It can also be used to remove waterproof mascara, which brings me to one of my complaints. If you use this, be careful that you don't put it under your eyes or your mascara will rub off on your skin. Also, I felt like I wasn't getting enough moisture from this (I have pretty dry skin), so in the end, I started applying it a second time during the day. Perhaps it would be better for those with oily/combination skin? I'd like to give Jojoba oil a try.
£13 at Holland and Barrett.

 dr. organic

I like the dr. organic line. It's good for people who don't want to try to make things themselves or are perhaps just trying to switch to simpler, more organic products. dr. organic offers a wide range of products for each of your beauty needs, and they strive to use all organic products with the fewest ingredients "possible." If they can't get an organic product, they state on their website that they ALWAYS use something that was sustainably sourced (Some photos and previous information from: www.drorganic.co.uk and www.hollandandbarrett.co.uk). With that said, here are some things I've tried:

I did not like this. I had to create some serious friction by rubbing my finger in it to make it soft enough to smooth onto my lips. In the end, it just got gross in that little container.

This was good, but not my favorite. It felt a bit too much like jelly and not so much smooth. £5.79 at Holland and Barrett.

I LOVE this body wash. It smells good and doesn't dry out my skin. One of my friends picked it up in the store and liked the smell so much that she kept opening it to smell it again! £5.39 at Holland and Barrett.

I just bought this today. I've used it once and it felt pretty good! It left my face feeling clean, but not dry. £6.39 at Holland and Barrett.

This was okay, but the tea tree oil gives it a pretty strong smell. It did it's job though. £5.49 at Holland and Barrett.

No-Poo Method

I have to say that this really works. I even tested being on it and going back to my expensive Aveda products to see if I'd notice a difference. My hair was smoother, shiny, and had less fly-aways using the no-poo method than the Aveda products. I'm sold. More information on my blog here.
From: http://becomingpeculiar.com/why-i-ditched-shampoo-and-how-you-can-too/

 Good Things

I've used some of their face-wash products and haven't been impressed so I won't list them. They smelled really good, but for me, break-outs were not controlled, and my face felt very dry after washing. However, their body butter is lovely. It smells good and feels good. What more could you want? Oh right...It's free from parabens, animal ingredients, mineral oils (which give a false sense of shine and softness), and sodium laurel sulfates.


Pure olive oil soap with only three ingredients! That's pretty simple, eh? 
I really liked this soap! It felt great on my skin and was a terrific moisturizer. Unfortunately, it left a bit of residue in my shower (easily cleaned though), and thus, it may have been responsible for clogging the drain. I need to buy it again to test this theory, or you can tell me! £1.15 at Holland and Barrett.


Darbre, P.D. 2003. Underarm cosmetics and breast cancer. Journal of Applied Toxicology Vol. 23 Issue 2. pp. 89-95.

Darbre, P.D. 2005. Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. Vol. 99 Issue 9. pp. 1912-1919.

McGrath, K.G. 2003. An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. December 2003, Vol. 12 Issue 6. pp 479-485.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last day in Rome - The Roman Forum and the Colosseum

Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

 Not sure what was going on, but we enjoyed it. Anybody know? This was March 17th, 2014.

 Cafe Oppio

Want a yummy lunch spot with marvelous views of the Colosseum? Go to Cafe Oppio. 
I hadn't had any breakfast so I got a pizza with hard boiled eggs on top. Yes, it was delicious!

 Just outside and across the street from Cafe Oppio, I think you will find the best elevated view and thus, perfect picture spot, of the Colosseum. The secret is out.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was actually named the Amphitheater and building began in AD 72. There used to be a GIANT statue called the Colossus Neronis, a 30 m bronze statue that the Emperor Nero had created, that was moved to a place outside the Amphitheater. Some people say that is the origin of the Amphitheater being called the Colosseum.

Can you see the yellow dots on our shirts in the pictures below? We found a tour with an English-speaking tour guide in front of the Colosseum. We asked this time if it was English only. The group was small and the tour guides were really good! I think we paid about 30-40 Euros each (sorry, I've slept since then), and it was worth it!


Can you tell that this was on St. Patrick's Day?

The Roman Forum

I didn't want to flood you with too many pictures of things you may not know, so here are just a few. This was also part of our tour.
From Left to Right - Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Temple of Romulus, and the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius.

See previous picture. :)

Steve in front of the Arch of Titus (AD 81)

Booing the hordes of students that where being herded like cattle through there. We didn't stay long. :(

 Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Rome

Good times at The Shamrock Pub.
 The next place we just happened across. We heard the music and went in.
For different cultures, I am giving "the deuce". It's like saying "What's up?" It is not, as in Scotland, flipping you off. :) Just to be clear. hehe

Steve kept snapping pictures nonstop so we just started making faces at him.. HAHA.