Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I tried Acti-Labs Diamond Lustre Tooth Cream

My friend is an Acti-Labs Ambassador and reached out to me asking if I would try/write a blog post about my experience with their Diamond Lustre Tooth Cream.  I love helping friends out so I’m happy to do so.

I had not heard of Acti-Labs so I googled them.  They are a UK based company who manufactures their products in France and utilizes direct sales distribution networks.  Their mission is to provide high quality beauty and health products using medical grade plant and marine additives for an affordable price.  They pride themselves on caring for the environment by keeping a low carbon footprint and using extensive recycling efforts at their facilities.  Additionally, they do not test on animals nor use ingredients that are tested on animals.

I received the tooth cream in the mail.  First off, I love the purple and silver packaging.  Gives a very lux feel to the product.  Appears to be a high end, expensive product but it’s only….wait for it…$4.50!  The tooth cream, which is a 5.29 oz tube, is available in floride and floride free which is another bonus.

I immediately tried it out.  The tooth cream has a light feel and foams a bit more than conventional toothpaste.  Nice mint taste.  The directions say preferrably brush after every meal or at least twice a day.  My usual routine is twice a day so I’ll stick to that.

Soooo….here comes my apprehensive part…photos of my teeth.  First, it’s awkward taking pictures of teeth.  Second, I regret not listening to my orthodontist and keeping up with my retainer after braces.  Anyhoo, here goes…

First day after using the tooth cream…my lower teeth are more stained than my upper teeth and I would love to balance that out.  I love coffee and chocolate and wine…all the heavy hitters to our pearly whites.

Teeth Day 1
Oh gosh…I sincerely hope that picture doesn’t appear as big as it feels.

Ok…Day 2…there is definitely some difference.  In just one day!!!

Sooooo….I’m not wild about taking teeth selfies.  As such I waited a week to take another picture.

Oh my golly!!!  What a difference!!

I will continue to update this post weekly to show more progress.

To check out more Acti-Labs products, please visit Acti-Labs website.


Today I watched a solar eclipse

Today was the historic solar eclipse.  Not since 1918 has the path of totality covered the US from the Pacific to the Atlantic and not since 1776 has the path of totality made landfall exclusively within the United States.  And before that it was 1257!

So, yeah…pretty epic stuff.

This morning I pondered the eclipse and decided to partake in the excitement.  I chose to make an eclipse viewing box, half for the frugality…the other half for the fun of it.

Because of the historic event, everyday tasks felt special.  Like this morning, I had the oil change done on my vehicle…so I called it the Eclipse Oil Change.  Afterward, I got my hair cut, which was the Eclipse Haircut.  This evening I had an Eclipse Beer…you get the picture. lol


I stopped in at Walmart, you guessed it, to do the Eclipse Grocery Shopping.  I needed a cereal box…and almond milk.  How can you eat Eclipse Cereal without milk?!  I haven’t eaten cereal in ages but picked my old time favorite, Cap’n Crunch.

At home I referred to a YouTube video on how to make an eclipse viewing box.  Gathered the supplies, along with a bowl of cereal, and began construction.


Putting the box together was an easy project.  Just alittle craft magic and a few minutes and viola! An Eclipse Viewing Box was born!


Now, I’ll give you a few tips.  First, have scissors out when opening the cereal bag.  These bags have gotten seriously ridiculous!  This is as far as I managed with my own human strength.  img_4193

Secondly, to close the box I tried a glue stick.  Didn’t work.  I tried super glue.  Didn’t work.  So I resorted to packing tape.

Now, the wait.  In my area the prime viewing time was 2:45 pm with 90% coverage.  I sat back, watched media coverage of the eclipse across the country and chowed down on some cereal.  It was grrrrreat!

Outside I set up my viewing area.  In researching thrifty ways to view the eclipse I read about the bucket trick and the windshield trick.  Supposedly you could watch the eclipse from the reflection of a full bucket of water.  You could also watch the eclipse on the reflection of a windshield.  As the prime time approached I tried both of these methods and let me tell you…you sure could do either one, if you want your eyes burned out.  I don’t suggest them.


I reverted back to my trusty eclipse viewing box which worked great.


In my area we had partly cloudy skies.  A few times the clouds passed and blocked the show but ultimately enough was viewable.  img_4222The viewing box allows you to see the moon cover the sun.  I would have loved to have watched more of the moon as it encroach onto the sun, before coverage began.  As such, for the April 2024 eclipse I will purchase some Eclipse Glasses.

Not sure if I suffered a sugar crash from the cereal or all the excitement of the event waned but after coming into the house from the eclipse, I was exhausted.  So an Eclipse Nap was in order!

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Today I realized it’s been 2 years

Hello you awesome peeps!

I cannot believe it’s been 2 years since I have posted.  While I love writing and sharing my (hopefully amusing) posts, life certainly took over.  But that was then and this is now and I’m ready to just look and move forward 🙂

Over the last week I’ve been getting signs that maybe I should restart this blog.  First, I’ve gained like 5 likes on my blog Facebook page.  5!  That’s a 25% increase!   Flash to Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech.

Additionally, when I started this blog I signed up for a free weekly statistics report just to get to know my readers.  I’ve been getting the emails weekly but rarely look at them.  Well, I happened to open one this morning and found my humble little blog has been viewed 300+ times this week alone!

Page stats

So…in the awesome words of Si from Duck Dynasty:



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Today I made Lemon Zip juice

I’m in love with Whole Foods Lemon Zip juice.  It’s lemony, spicy, energizing, spicy and refreshing…and you guessed it, spicy!!

But as with most love affairs, bumps in the road inevitably arise.  They lie to you.  Or exs pop up out of nowhere. Or you discover they are the unprepared, indecisive, customizing, fast food orderer.  They spend 4 minutes reading the menu then 5 minutes ordering stuff but then 3 minutes changing their minds.  Then on top of it all, asking for all kinds of add ons.

Unpreppared, indecisive, customizing guy:  “Yeah, I’ll have a double cheeseburger, no tomato, 3 and 1/2 extra meat patties, 1 ring of onion, swiss cheese but only the slices without the holes, extra special sauce and bun toasted for 45 seconds.  And add 2 buffalo wings on the sandwich. Get me the drumstick looking wings, not the little piece of meat between 2 bones wing things.  No wait,…instead of hamburger patties, make that chicken patties but only the crispy chicken patties, extra tomatoes, no pickles, 4 rings of onions, pepper jack cheese but not the slices with the green peppers, no red peppered cheese, and 2 squirts of deli mustard but make sure the mustard is on the sandwich and not just on the wrapper and then put 2 hamburger patties on top.  Actually, change that to a salad with…”

So Whole Foods and I have found some bumps in our road in Loveville.  First, a trip to Whole Foods (WF) for me is a 40 minute drive, on a good traffic day.  Second, uh…*cough* the price could choke an artichoke.  $6.99 per 16 oz!!!  Now, as I have juiced before, I understand juicing requires ALOT of produce.  So, maybe this could be a fair price and just a perception issue: a large price on a small bottle.  Lastly, time…juice begins to lose it’s nutritional value as soon as it leaves the juicer spout.  From what I understand, after 24-48 hours that nutritious juice has just become empty calories, likening a candy bar.  If I want to incorporate this juice into my life, I would be making that trek every day.  Say I could stretch my excitement to every other day…that’s still a trip 3-4 times a week.  That $6.99 bottle of juice just shot up to $15 roughly.

Surly I could make this on my own.  I mean, WF clearly states the ingredients right on the bottle.  How hard could it be?!  But I’m still a pretty novice juicer and when I prepared to shop for the ingredients I had no idea how much of each I would need.

Hmmm…wonder if someone has already cracked this code?  On to Yahoo!  A quick search found this blog post and sure enough someone has!

I gathered the ingredients.  Peeling the lemon seemed to be the most time consuming part of the task.  I just chopped each end off the lemon, then cut a slit along the side from end to end, then peeled the lemon whole.  Easy breezy lemon not so squeezey (gotta save that juice for the Lemon Zip!).


And the rest of the line up: 2 lbs of grapes, 2 oz of ginger and 1 big jalapeno.  I couldn’t find green grapes at the store so red grapes will have to do.


Let the Juicing begin!!  First up, ginger!


The next, Mr. Jalapeno!  He didn’t mix well with the ginger…the jalapeno juice just laid on top of the ginger juice.


On to the lemons…


Then the grapes.


Oooo…looks like a Tequilla Sunrise!!


I poured into a pitcher and stirred the juice up.  And poured a small sampling glass for moi!


Verdict: Not quite WF Lemon Zip but good/drinkable.  The jalapeno lacks a bit of kick and the gentle sweetness seems to be missing.  I juiced another jalapeno and knob of ginger and added them to the mixture.  They certainly helped but I still need to experiment.

I believe the recipe will differ depending on the type of juicing machine you use.  I have an Omega VRT, a vertical central auger juicer (slow juicer).  Maybe a masticating juicer would produce better results using the recipe.  I also question the quality of my ingredients.  Maybe Walmart produce rests lower on the quality scale than WF.  Nevertheless, a good start and a good supply of juice to last me…a day.

For price comparison:

Lemons: $2
Jalapeno: $.30
Ginger: $1
Grapes: $6
Water: $.50
Total: $9.80 for approximately 70 oz

I would classify this recipes as a strong first date with a second date option.  A budding romance 🙂


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Today I cut a cantaloupe

Is it just me or when you type cantaloupe in your head you say can-ta-loo-pe to make sure you don’t forget the u?

Just me?  Ok…

So, I’ve cut cantaloupe before.  I usually slice it long ways, cut in to long stripes, then trim off all the rind.

But cantaloupes are slippery and I always end up cutting off too much of the precious melon.  Surly there had to be a better way.

And surly there is.  I searched on YouTube and found this video on how to cut cantaloupe more efficiently.

I had it all wrong from the beginning.  First, cut the melon right smack dab in the middle.


Then spoon out the seeds.

Is it just me or when you scoop out the seeds you think “brainzzzz”?

Just me? Ok…

Then you have a beautiful hollowed out cantaloupe.


Is it just me or does that look like a heart?

Just me?  Ok…

Next up, turn the cantaloupe over and beginning removing the rind.


I love this method as I could make sure to keep more of the melon on the melon!


Once you’ve made your way around and removed the stem end, you cut the melon into slices.


Is it just me or does that look like a beanie?

Just me?
Hmm…I’m starting to wonder about you…

And viola!  In 10 minutes my ziplock bag was full of cantaloupe.


I’m on Day 3 of Raw Week in the My Clean Eating Challenge.  When I eat raw I pretty much graze all day long.  A banana here, a peach there, a carrot cake…

Just kidding!  No carrot cake…just testing if you’re still following along.

Therefore, Cantaloope!!  It’s what’s for dinner!!  And snack!!  And second snack!!  And dessert!!  And fourth meal!!  Yum!!

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Today I made raw alfredo

I’m on Day 2 of Raw Week of My Clean Eating Challenge.  Yesterday I ate watermelon for supper.


Today I needed to take it up an notch.

I found this raw alfredo recipe.  5 minute prep time…5 minute “cook” time…5 servings!!  Fast put together…fast procressing…and extras for tomorrow.  Sounds like my kind of recipe!

You have to understand, Day 2 of raw can be baaaaadddddd.  Headaches, body aches, nausea, low energy, brain fog, etc.  Total fun stuff!  And that’s just the stuff from the belly button up!  Today, I feel like I’m operating in slow motion and as the evening progresses my zip has zapped out.

On to this supper before I pass out…

In my research several recipes stated to soak the nuts.  Why should nuts float around in a pool before using?  Good question!  And you can find the answer here…(I’m just too tired to explain!)

So I soaked the cashews…but they didn’t get the full 6 hour “day at the beach” experience.  They had more of a skinny dip adventure.  About an hour.


Now for the super complicated preparations: throw everything in the blender.


That’s going to turn into an alfredo sauce?  That the sauce author states she prefers over the real thing?!  I’m skeptical…


Blending…still not impressed.

Meanwhile, I prep the “noodles”.  Zucchini run through a handy dandy spiralizer.


Phew…no boiling water…no stiff, hard noodles…that couldn’t have been any easier!  But I’ve never used this instrument before and didn’t quite expect this funny odd looking “noodle” from the center of the gadget.  No one tells you about that!


Back to the sauce…


Woah!!  When did that happen?!  That…that…that looks like alfredo sauce!!

And a wee little pinky dip reveals it TASTES like alfredo!!  Woah!!  How’d that happen?!


Now here’s the real deal though.  That poor lady who wrote the recipe must not have had alfredo for a long, long, long time.  Fresh from the blender, while the concoction was a bit warm, yes it could pass for an alfredo sauce.  As it cooled however, the cashew sweetness took over the flavor.  I ended up dumping a tablespoon or twelve of garlic powder into my bowl to cut the sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, this sauce was surprisingly delicious…Just don’t have your taste buds ready for Olive Garden alfredo.

When I try this recipe again (which I will…it’s worthy), I’d experiment with some combination of cashews and walnuts.  I’m thinking walnuts would add the body to the sauce but eliminate so much sweetness.  I’ll also amp up the garlic…because one cannot have too much garlic.

My tummy is full.  My day is done.  Time to recharge to rock Day 3!!

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Today I attended a Colbie Caillat concert

I recieved a pair of tickets to tonight’s concert for Colbie Caillat as a gift.  My mom happened to have won them from a radio station and then in turn unloaded them on me.


I’ll confess…I cannot declare myself a Caillat fan.  Sure, I know her music and thanks to my freakish lyric loving brain, I can sing her pop songs pretty much through.  Her music though, runs a bit girlie for my taste.  Girlie music has it’s place: new love in which Mr. Wonderful walks on water, broken hearts – the tearful phase (opt for some Linkin Park for the rage phase) and last but never least, bad hair days..the kind where Medusa looks like a Pantene model.

Still yet, even a less than thrilling concert trumps my typical Friday nights: a double date with my couch and Netflix.  And free happens to be my favorite price.

Lesson of the night: Never rely on the concert time reported on a performer’s Facebook page.  The event said 7 pm straight from CC’s page.  I ran quite the marathon between getting off work, running errands, taking care of my pups and household things and freshening up myself to avoid the “mistaken for Medusa” look.  I scarfed down a bean burrito while en route thinking it was my only fast supper option.  When I arrived, the parking garage looked oddly empty which prompted me to finally consult the ticket only to discover I arrived 1.5 hours before the opening act. Doh!

Since I had some time on my hands my imagination kicked in and offered up an idea.  While this may not have been my dream concert, surly it’s someones. And maybe that someone will land on this post and wish they could have been in my lucky ducky shoes.  So, in my best effort I’ll recreate the concert.

Kate Voegele opened the concert.


She sung:

World Stopped Spinning
Just Watch Me
It’s Only Life
Manhattan From the Sky
No Sleep (couldn’t find this song)
Keep Hollywood (couldn’t find this song)
Kindly Unspoken

After a quick reworking of the stage, Colbie Caillat came out…


And played:

Falling for You
I Do
Begin Again
Make it Rain
If You Love Me Let Me Go
Favorite Song
Hold On
I Never Told You
Never Gonna Let You Down
Brighter Than The Sun

(More after the pictures)


I loved being in the absolute center of the stage.  Call me Sheldon but all felt right with the universe in that spot 🙂

But who stays seated the WHOLE concert?! For me, concerts are about being IN the music.  The music plays loud to envelop you…the bass drills through your core…the lights, the energy, the whole scene draws you into the music to the point your body has to respond…suddenly work, family, stress, cares, they all fall away…the “you” falls away…

The singer begins belting out a song, a song he wrote in 5 minutes while traveling on a tour bus or over a drink at a bar… but the sum of those words somehow describe exactly what you’ve been holding in your heart, describes to a T what you’re experiencing.  How did he DO that?!

Music magic baby!!

Not only does your body respond but now the singer has just put words to your soul.  You surrender…you’re now the music.  The guy next to you who sloshed his beer on you or the fact that your bubble (personal space) resembles more of a pancake…that junk no longer matters!! During this 2-3 hour bracket of life we are the best of buds…we all are the same…because we all are the music.

THAT’s a concert going experience!!  Well, at least in my humble opinion.

And seats have their place.  I love movies and broadway shows/operas.  I couldn’t imagine standing through Phantom or Sweeney Todd.  Seat please, extra cushy!!

Tonight, the crowd read more subdued.  The music, more subdued.  The music experience was more toe tapping than bootie shaking.  The guy next to me didn’t slosh his beer or squash my bubble.  His head kept bobbing as he could barely stay awake.  Safe to say, he was NOT the music…The chick behind me who kept screaming “I LOVE YOU COLBIE!!”…Now she WAS the music 🙂

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Today I made brown sugar

Happy Star Wars Day!!


In celebration, I decided to make Wookie Cookies.  I’ve had this Star Wars cookbook since 1998.  I attended the 20th Anniversary of Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian in DC and purchased it as a souvenir.


Surprisingly I’ve never made the infamous Wookie Cookies.

I prepped all the ingredients only to discover my brown sugar had all dried up.  It also stubbornly wouldn’t budge from the container.


Does it look like terrain that an Imperial Walker would traverse?!

I thought my half prepped cookie dough would find its doom in the trash can BUT I did a quick Yahoo search and found I could just make my own.

Brown Sugar recipe
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses


Mix together and there you have it…fresh brown sugar!


In my excitement for saving the universe…err, the cookie dough I forgot to take a picture of the blended sugar.  But the picture above provides and example of what it looked like.

By the time I put everything together the clock read 10 pm and suddenly the force was no longer with me.

So the Wookie Cookies will be contined tomorrow…today is Part 6…tomorrow will be Part 1.

Happy May the 4th be with you!

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Today I cleaned the Keurig

Today our area got a taste of spring…bright, sunny day in the 70s.

What’s the best way to spend a freebie spring day?!  Spring Cleaning!!

And to fuel this spring cleaning, I need coffee!

I brewed up my energy in a cup and as I took the first sip, I thought about it….I’ve owned this machine for a year now, but have never cleaned it…Well, there ya go!  My first spring cleaning project!

But how do you clean this contraption?!  Do you dismantle the whole machine to it’s innards?

First stop, youtube!  Surly someone else has tackled this before.  Sure enough, Cusinart actually provides a video on exactly how to do it.

Come to find out you clean the Keurig just like you would have an archaic coffee machine…just run vinegar through it.

I followed the instructions:

  1. Empty water reservoir
  2. Remove filter
  3. Refill reservoir with white vinegar
  4. Place a large mug under spout
  5. Run vinegar through the machine using the 12 oz cup size and Hot Water option.  Discard mug contents* and repeat process until the message “Add Water” appears (6 run throughs).
  6. Now, let the machine sit with the remaining vinegar for 4 hours
  7. At 4 hours and 1 minute, empty water reservoir, rinse well and refill with water
  8. Place the large mug under spout
  9. Run water through the machine using the 12 oz cup size and Hot Water option.  Discard mug contents and repeat process until the message “Add Water” appears (6 run throughs).

Now…here are my variations to the instructions..

Step 0…Scrub the outside of the machine.  No sense in cleaning the inside of the machine before cleaning the outside of the machine.

At step 5, I did NOT discard the heated vinegar.  Heated vinegar makes for THE best cleaner!  Why would you just pour it down the sink?!  Wasted gold I tell ya…wasted gold.

(By the way, you may be wise NOT to stand very close to the vinegar steam during this process…steamed vinegar can be quite potent…NOT that I learned this the hard way or anything…NOT that I was scrubbing the counter behind the machine while the vinegar was brewing…NOT that I got such a large whiff my eyes instantly teared and I looked like I had watched Beaches twelve times…NOT that Bette Midler singing Wind Beneath My Wings played incessantly in my head all…day…long.  Yeah, no…not from experience…)

I reclaimed the “gold” in a bucket and used it to clean the fireplace brick that can be seen in the kitchen.  Well, this heated vinegar works so well, it stripped some of the paint from the fireplace ledge!!  Man, this heated vinegar makes Mr. Clean look like Wimpy from Popeye.

No worries…nothing a little wine can’t take care of…

Step 9…I did twice.  I’d rather not have vinegary-coffee. If once is good, twice has to be better!

Step 10…take whatever parts that can be removed and run through the dishwasher.

Now my keurig is all prepared for making tomorrow’s warm treat.  Tomorrow’s weather: Temps in the 30s with snow and freezing rain!!

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Today I bought kinder meat

Effective December 1, I’m vegetarian.

I’ve gone to the veggie side 🙂

I’ve flirted with vegetarianism before but it never seemed to stick.  I’ll admit, I like meat.  I’ll take a hot, juicy hamburger over broccoli any day.  ANY day.  But November 30 I finished watching Vegucated, while chowing down on Fiesta Chicken no less, and realized my morals didn’t align with my actions.

You see, I don’t think it’s wrong to eat meat.  I believe animals were put on this earth for our use.  And biologically, we were designed to be omnivores, to give us options for survival.  Meat offers us nutrition un-duplicatable by veggies.   And lastly, there is bacon.  Bacon…enough said.

As such, I cannot be a PETA supporting fanatic. Then again, who can these days?!

My issue is the meat industry.  The documentary touched on this topic in a very PG fashion, but any research shows it to be more along the lines of an underground, unrated horror film.  It’s one thing to raise an animal in it’s natural surroundings, to live out it’s life naturally, kill it in a respectful, humane way and then use it for consumption.  It’s another thing to thoroughly abuse the animal to the point that death is a welcomed end to the torture.

So, for me, I can no longer partake in the meat industry. BUT, I still live with and entertain those who chose to eat meat. I would never force my choice on them so I needed to find a more conscious source of meat that I could comfortably serve.

Ideally, I would love to find a local farm that I could visit to see the animals’ treatment for myself.

If we are talking about ideal… most ideally I would like the animals to live skipping around on rainbows and when they perish, they just topple over, their spirits hand you knives and forks and wave goodbye as they rise to heaven.  Totally ideal, right?!

I asked around to some of my paleo/nutrition conscious friends but no one knew of such a farm around my area.

The closest source that most closely met my close to heart requirements is a farm about 100 miles away. Good news: They deliver!!… in 100 lb increments. Bad news: I have a 20 lb max freezer. I probably will drive out there one day (and blog about it) to scope the farm out and see if it could be worth the investment of a deep freezer. In the mean time, I needed something more convenient.

I then thought of my beloved Whole Foods. Surely they have this animal welfare concerned meat thing solved. And surely they do!

I found they label their meat on a scale of 1-5 of animal welfare…5+ being the rainbow skipping treatment.  Visit their website using this link to learn more about their rating system.

In my Whole Foods (yes, I have taken possession of my local store), most of the variation in grading can be found in the beef.

All the chicken fell in the 2 category “Enriched Environment”. Suddenly I felt uncomfortable for it to be rated on the “lower end”. Of course, their treatment surely surpassed my typical Walmart inhumane chicken…still yet, I couldn’t buy it.

I opted for number 4 beef.
I expected grotesque, hugely inflated prices. Overall, sure the prices were higher than my normal military commissary/big box store prices, but nothing bank breaking. No pints of blood or promise of the rights to my first born required. Thank heaven!

Again, I’m not here to convince you to give up meat (although I hear, every time a person converts, a vegan earns their wings), I would kindly urge you to consider what you are supporting when you buy meat. Preferably, please practice compassionate consumerism…if not, please practice awareness in your consumerism.

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