Attn: Giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Tampons and menstrual pads are the go-to products for most women. They are what you see sold in traditional stores and what you see advertised in TV commercials and magazine ads. They are far from the only options women have though. Hopefully by now you have also heard of some of the alternatives…cloth pads, natural tampons (sponges), and of course menstrual cups.
Let’s start off by saying that this product was not my first rodeo with menstrual cups. I have been using them for years. I have tried several different brands and have been happy with all them. Last month though was my first time using the Sckoon cup brand. Before that I used to purchase their cloth diapers and baby clothes…though that was some time ago.
A menstrual cup does what a tampon or pad does but rather than absorb the flow it collects it. It IS a cup. If you are not squeamish about inserting a tampon then you should not be squeamish about inserting a cup. It is basically the exact same thing. The only difference is that you pull a tampon out with a string and toss it in the toilet. With a cup you pull it out, empty it into the toilet, and then wash it for re-use. I guess it is slightly more complicated then a pad or tampon but once you get the hang of it, it is no big deal.
I like menstrual cups more than I ever liked tampons. For whatever reason I could always feel tampons, even though they say you shouldn’t. With a cup…I truly cannot feel it. Tampon applicators are also really slippery, which meant many times I had problems with insertion and had to use toilet paper to kind of dry it off and try again. With one brand of menstrual cup I have had some launch failures for the same reason, slippery-ness. With the Sckoon cup there are neato grooves on the bottom (of their otherwise silky smooth and comfortable cup) that give you something to grip and hence no issues with that. See them below…
While on the subject of how it compares to other cups let me also use this same photo to show you how it has that little stem sticking out of the bottom of the cup. The other brands have that too but instead of a solid stem that tapers off they have a little hollow tube. That tube collects menstrual flow and has to be washed out…this is not an issue with the Sckoon. This may seem like a small detail but I really like it.
I also love that the Sckoon cups come in COLORS!!! My other cup is clear and it has started to look dingy over time. I am not willing to use anything harsher than soap and water to clean it because I want it to last. These colored cups solve that issue because they will stay pretty and not get discolored. I have blue obviously but they also come in other colors.
As with other cups it comes in two sizes. Size 1 is for people who have never given birth vaginally. Size 2 is for those of us who have given birth vaginally. It is made from FDA approved soft medical-grade silicon, so it’s safe, reusable, environmentally friendly.
If you need a crash course in how to use a menstrual cup it is really very easy… Take the cup in hand and fold it using your fingers. Insert pushing up and backwards (towards your back). Your vaginal muscles will grip it and keep it in place and it will open once it is up there too. When you are ready to take it out simply bear down a little bit and the bottom part will come out. Grip it and pull it out carefully so you don’t spill. Dump the contents, wash it with soap and water, and re-insert.
The only time when this becomes a bit tricky is when you are using a public bathroom. I simply dump it out and reinsert it and then remember to wash it as soon as I get home. I also use toilet paper from the bathroom stall to clean my hands off so I don’t leave a public bathroom stall with blood all over them. No need to freak anyone out. I don’t imagine that it is any harder than inserting a tampon in a public place.
After using it through two menstrual cycles I will be reaching for my Sckoon cup before my “other” cup now. It gets an A++ in my book!
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The company is generously allowing me to giveaway one of their cups! I have a size 2 cup in blue. Just like the one in my photos. To enter to win in fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a free menstrual cup to facilitate this review and it was done in affiliation with the Green Moms Media.
Many people who start gardening in the city do so for a very good reason. They want good food. They want the crispiest, juiciest, cucumbers they can get their hands on and the ripest and most flavorful tomatoes. They want foods grown locally, on a small scale, and without chemical fertilizers or herbicides. They want farm fresh, even though they don’t live on a farm. Is this unreasonable or just plain smart?
Most of our food comes from farms in rural areas and it is shipped across great distances to stores nationwide. Many people see no reason to take issue with this but increasingly others do see problems with this food system. Is it healthy? Will it feed the whole world? No actually. This food system has serious issues. It is wasteful, unsustainable, and unhealthy. To grow foods in the mass quantities needed to feed huge populations all over the country lots of space, energy, and chemicals must be used and abused. Throughout the country people still go hungry. Unhealthy processed foods become cheaper and more readily available and thus health problems abound, especially in urban areas. Urban residents become less likely to know how to cook healthy meals with fresh ingredients. They are more likely to know how to cook boxed mac and cheese.
So what needs to change? City dwellers need to learn that food is intimately connected to health, environment, economy, and community. The single best way to do this is to start growing food in the city. When we grow food in the city we establish local sources for healthy food, a local food economy, and a community that works for it own interests and the planet’s and not against them. Our cities need some nourishment…they need some gardens!
The facts are that more people are moving into cities…not rural areas. The United Nations has predicted that by 2030, two-thirds of us will be living in cities AND we will need 60% more food. The answer is not to transport more food or increase the scale of factory farms and huge agribusiness monocrops. We need to start growing food in those cities. How do we do that?
On a large scale, as a community we need to support:
Rooftop gardens on city buildings and parking structures
Aquaponics and hydroponics businesses and operations
Restaurants who use local foods
Community cooking classes
Wind and solar energy
Anaerobic digestion facilities
Legislation that supports local gardening
Legislation that supports the keeping of farm animals
Legislation that enables us to turn abandoned spaces into green spaces
Programs to provide a work force and skills training for those green spaces (unemployed, homeless, etc)
Legislation to provide tax incentives for businesses and residents who garden
On a smaller and more personal scale we need to:
Garden in containers, on balconies, and window sills
Use front and backyard spaces for gardening and growing food
Install solar panels if we can
Grow food using vertical food systems
Grow food using small scale aquaponics and hydroponics systems
Grow flowers and other non-food vegetation for wildlife and pollinators
Raise animals for food (like chickens or rabbits)
Whether we are in the burbs or in the city we NEED to grow food. We also need to teach our children to do the same. We need to think globally and act locally….changing our cityscapes one home and garden space at a time. The concrete jungle has got to go…our cities need to go green pronto and the first step is to own up to your own part in the equation and then help others do the same. Let’s turn our cities into places so leafy and green they resemble jungles okay? Let’s plant the seeds of a greener future.
I actually hate carpet. It is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty stuff…dirt, dust, mold, allergens, etc. We live in a rental though so we are kind of stuck with what we have. To help keep our home clean and healthy we have some rules about carpet care such as removing shoes when we enter the home, vacuuming often, and reporting or cleaning up spills immediately. We also clean the carpet thoroughly every couple of months. We use a carpet cleaner that you can buy at any home improvement or big box store and we make the cleaning soap ourselves so that we can avoid toxic chemicals.
Here are two easy to make carpet cleaner recipes that are natural and safe for the family…
Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe
6 qts HOT HOT water
4 teaspoons Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
25-30 drops of essential oil (peppermint, lavender, or tea tree)
30-50 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
1-2 scoops Oxyclean (optional)
This will clean carpets and make them smell wonderful too!
SoapNuts Carpet Cleaner
Simmer a cup of soap nuts in about 4 cups of water, mash the nuts by hand to release the saponins. Drain the liquid using a cheese cloth and pour the liquid concentrate into a glass mason jar. Put a few tablespoons inside your carpet cleaner and voila!
When you think of gelatin you probably think of jello in all its crazy colors and think…tasty but not very good for me. Or maybe you think of Julia Child’s famous aspic recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking…mmmm meat flavored jello. Yeah, no thanks.
So it may surprise you to know that gelatin has health benefits that you should not overlook. Bone broth is all the rage right? Well gelatin should be too. In fact it is found in homemade bone broths, in small amounts. We just need more of it. What is gelatin? It is derived from collagen obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of animals. It may sound kind of gross but it packs a punch.
Some of the major health benefits derived from eating gelatin are as follows:
Metabolism & Weight Loss: Gelatin contains arginine and Glycine and they both help support the body’s metabolism. They help us to build muscle (which means we are burning more calories) and they help us convert glucose to energy rather than fat. By eating gelatin you can make gains within a strength training program (and get stronger) and also lose weight if that is your goal.
Joint Conditions: Gelatin is a product which might be able to help people suffering from stiff or sore joints, especially before the condition worsens. Since it has a lot of amino acids it acts as an important component in the prevention of degenerating cartilage. If your parents or grandparents suffered from joint pain or arthritis than you need to take preventative measures.
Skin Health: Beauty products that have collagen in them are in high demand. Collagen helps to plump our skin up, make it more firm, and make it look and feel more youthful. These products are largely useless though because collagen is too large to be absorbed by the skin. We can however get benefits from dietary collagen…aka gelatin. Many people report that their skin looks and feels more youthful and healthy immediately after introducing more high quality gelatin into their diet. It is also supposed to help with loose skin and wrinkles.
Strong Hair & Nails: Keratin is the key structural component of our hair and nails. Gelatin is also a source of this important protein and it can vastly improve the appearance of your hair and nails as well as improve their strength. In short, gelatin is a powerful beauty tool.
Digestion: Gelatin can help with digestion by giving the foods we consume a smooth passage through our digestive tract.
Cellulite: Of course this cannot be proven but gelatin is gaining traction as a way to combat cellulite nonetheless. It makes sense because collagen helps to plump and firm our skin. If it can help with wrinkles than why not those unsightly skin dimples?
So now that you know why you need gelatin how do you get more of it the diet…short of aspic and jello? Easy. Try adding high quality gelatin to:
Warm cereals – oatmeal, cream of wheat
Soups and stews
I recommend Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin. It is much higher quality than the cheapy stuff you find at most local grocery stores. You want gelatin from pastured cows not from factory farmed, sickly animals.
To your health!
According to a research, the average kitchen wastes approximately $1000 in food per year. Roughly 40% of all food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage. Think of how many hungry people could be fed if we cleaned up our act and actually used what we purchased and thus only purchased what we actually needed. Our budgets would be immediately helped by making a few changes and wasting less food. I know personally I cringe at the idea of throwing away $1000 a year. I can think of many ways I would rather spend that money.
Food waste also impacts the planet because we are wasting resources to grow food that we allow to rot and then eventually throw away. Just think about all the energy used to grow crops and the taxation of the soil. Throwing food away is highly wasteful and hurtful to our planet.
Here are a few very simple ways that you can avoid unnecessary waste in the kitchen…
Don’t buy food without plan: Probably the biggest mistake we can make when grocery shopping is buy food without a meal plan of some sort. We need to know when we buy something how and when it will be used. Sometimes we buy things on impulse and think will figure out later what to do with it. Perhaps those tomatoes look ultra appetizing or asparagus is in season, so you buy. Then they end up sitting in the frig or on your counter to rot because you had no clear idea what you would do with them. It is essential to make plans before buying so that everything is used per your plan and does not get wasted. 20-30 minutes spent planning a menu and ingredients list will save you money and it will reduce waste.
If meal planning is not your thing. Outsource!! I like eMeals. They even have a paleo meal plan.
Buy Foods At the Right Time: This is part of the menu plan. If you buy a bunch of avocados because they are on sale then taco night needs to be within 2-3 nights of purchase, not a week later. Coordinate your menu plan with what is on sale, what is in season, and what is available at your local farmer’s market and then use them up within that week.
Buy Less Food: Some people like to buy in bulk and/or buy most of their of food at once. Others like to make several shopping trips a week and buy a little bit at a time. The latter method will be more advantageous if food waste is a problem for you. Lots of groceries means you have to be very good at prioritizing and planning so that nothing goes to waste. If that is you then congrats…if not change your shopping habits and pick up groceries a couple times a week rather a couple times a month.
Organize the Kitchen: A big food waste culprit is a disorganized and cluttered kitchen. If your frig is stuffed to capacity and your pantry is overflowing how do you even know what you have in there??!? Once a month do a pantry overhaul. Once a week do a frig clean-out. This keeps your inventory fresh in your mind and it allows you to see what you need to use up. Make a list of the stuff you need to use pretty quickly and build your menu plan around that.
Store Foods Appropriately: If you buy apples by the bushel then you need to know how to store them so that they last. Wrapping the best apples in newspaper and keeping them in baskets or a boxes in a cold place for instance. Potatoes and onions are usually kept in well ventilated wicker baskets. I like these.
Also some fruits and veggies emit high levels of ethylene gas and can cause your other produce to go bad more quickly so make sure to keep them separate. Don’t keep your peaches and apples anywhere near the greens and celery. Do a bit of research on the foods you buy and find out how to store them properly.
Use Up Leftovers: Some families have a night set aside to enjoy leftovers so that they can use up the food in their frig/freezer before it goes bad. This may mean that your meal includes a mish mash of different foods but you aren’t allowing good food to go to waste. Just call it buffet night!
I also like to pack leftovers in school and work lunches and usually design our dinner menu plan around meals that will work well as lunches the next day.
Freeze Food Before It Spoils: If the food in your frig or on your countertops is looking pretty sad make sure to freeze it before it goes bad. Bananas that are browning can be peeled and frozen for fruit smoothies or for baking. Apples that are starting to go bad get turned into crockpot applesauce, which is then frozen. Greens that are not looking terribly fresh get frozen for green smoothies or for homemade vegetable stock. Small bits of meat get frozen for use in frittatas. Small bits of veggies can be frozen and used later in stir fry or casserole.
Buy Dried Foods: If you have a problem using up mushrooms before they go bad then make a switch to dried mushrooms. I love using dried mushrooms and wood ears in soups. Yum! They last a long time in the pantry and you don’t have to worry about using them up fast. Fruit is another thing you can buy dehydrated or dehydrate yourself (to use up seasonal fruit stores). It can then be used in smoothies, baked goods, snacking. etc. If your kids let bananas go to waste but they love dried banana chips, think about making a switch.
Don’t Toss It – Compost It: If the food is too far gone make sure to compost it and turn it into black gold for your garden and your houseplants. If you don’t garden, compost it anyway…I am sure that many folks would love to take the compost off your hands when it is ready.
Consider the Packaging: Waste in the kitchen isn’t just about food. What about all of the packaging waste that ends up in the landfill?? To mitigate this buy food without packaging whenever possible…its usually healthier food anyway. Buy fresh broccoli rather than frozen, buy ingredients to make bread rather than buy it in bags. Choose packaging that can be recycled before any that cannot be recycled. Bring your own glass jars and shop the bulk bins for grains, beans, cereal, etc. Be intentional when it comes to what you purchase.
You can also go a step beyond…
Be a Freegan: Freegans look for free food (usually in grocery store dumpsters) that has been discarded. The food is usually still perfectly good but it is thrown out on freshness dates that are very conservative. If you want to explore this option read my post on Freeganism or watch the movie Dive. It’s a great film!