Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Short Story

Hello everyone, 

I would just like to thank my family, friends and all of you supporters (On Facebook, Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr) for your encouragement in this project. 

Joe and I have struggled in writing a post that would encompass our story and I honestly feel like the shortest version is the way to go.  Joe and I are inspired by off the grid living, a healthy non GMO lifestyle and preserving the environment.  The off the grid living for a year was to test how comfortable people could be without all the inference from the outside world although sadly we never really got this project off the ground.

The land we were going to use on a farm didn’t work out and the experience there to put it mildly was traumatic.  In the process of living there we lost the wonderful custom made tent for this project. 
Although we never got to complete this project and I’m sorry if we let anyone down, we hope the idea at least inspires others to try the same. 

Thank you again for all the kind words of encouragement. 

-Nicole Cruz 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Clif Bar Review

I would first like to acknowledge Clif Bar and their support and generosity in our project.  When Joe and I first approached the idea of accepting donations, we wanted to make sure we only asked companies with our same ideals about education, community, the environment and conservation.  Clif Bar was one company I knew I wanted to ask but never really believed would sponsor us. They are such a well-known and respected business that it was hard to imagine them taking a chance on us. 

That being said, Joe and I will dive into our opinion on various products including Clif bars, gel shots and blocks. 

Clif Bars:

The first bar I tried was the Carrot Cake.  It tastes as it sounds and if you like the taste of carrot cake you'll like the taste of this bar.  The only thing missing is the icing. 

When examining the appearance, it looks like your standard Clif Bar formula but with little pops of orange carrot pieces. 

The shelf life of the bars is a plus as well, because even today (a year later) some of the products we received have still yet to expire. 

The second bar I tried was a bar was just about to be released, called Gary’s Panforte.  To be brutally honest I dislike this Clif bar and would not be purchasing it in the future.  The reason is the balance of spices is unpleasant.  I’m pretty sure it’s the clove that I taste that strikes the nail in the coffin.  It’s highly pungent in every other bite.  I might enjoy the favor if it had been blended better but the way it is now, just tastes like a bite size chunks of clove and nothing else.  The few bites with pistachio were my favorite. If there were more pistachios throughout, I’d be a very happy lady. 

The appearance of this bar is much darker than the standard.  The look is a deep brown with chunks of hazelnuts and pistachios shining through. 

Clif Shot Blocks:

I choose to start with the Citrus and after I tried them it took me a few days to decide if I liked them or not.  They look like they would have the consistency of a gummy bear but the texture is a bit softer like a gusher without the center containing liquid. 

I remember when using this product in between breaks of moving lumber up and down a hill on the farm, they seemed to give me the burst of energy they advertise.

I decided I liked the Citrus Shot Blocks although Joe wasn’t into the consistency or fan of the citrus. 

The second I tried was Chocolate (I believe) they were actually so new they didn't even have a label on them yet just an expiration date.  

Clif is currently selling Chocolate Cherry on their site but I don't believe we received that version.  I’m not sure if it’s in the process of being put onto the market or was a rejected product but it was not as chocolaty as I would have liked.  I think the mixture of chocolate and gummy constancy was a bit strange.  I would buy the Citrus over the Chocolate

Joe yet again didn't like the consistency.  I don’t think the Clif Shot Blocks are something he'd be using in the future. 

Stay tuned for my part two of my Clif product reviews featuring Kit’s Organic and Shot Gel. 

Written by: Nicole Cruz  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Freeplay Review

The first product I tried was the Sherpa LED Torch.  The flashlight is compact and surprisingly light weight.  Since the tent project never went into full swing, see Joe's blog entry on Facebook for more details, I used the flashlight while camping.  

One of the most beneficial and charming aspects about the Sherpa, is the rechargeable battery through wind up crank.  One minute of winding is equivalent to twenty minutes of light.  I hate buying batteries, I feel they are a waste and environmental impact is too great.  With being able to recharge the battery through little effort, I feel more environmentally conscious.  

While stumbling around in the dark to go to the bathroom, the Sherpa provided enough light to guide the way.  Although it is not as bright as disposable battery flashlights, the light was sufficient for seeing and navigating.  

During one late night around the fire, the Sherpa accidently fell in and the bottom got singed by the flames.  Although this happened I'm happy to say the flashlight is still holding up.  The crank function is still useable and well as providing equal light as before the incent.  Although I don't recommend dropping your flashlight into the fire, I'm glad the structure of flashlight can hold up being dropped and handled in real life situations.  

If you buy the Sherpa, I think you'll be happy you did.  The price is the equivalent to most other name brands such as Stanley, Coleman, and Cyclops, although the Sherpa is signatically more compact. In my opinion there is nothing worse than a clunky flashlight while camping.  

Don't forget to check out more Freeplay products at freeplayenergy.com.

Written by Nicole Cruz 

LEAP Organics Lip Balm Review

What I initially loved about the product before I even tried it, was the packaging.  Since I studied Graphic Design in college I can just gush and gush about how much I love the overall look.  The funky and original drawings of animals and what I assume is a handwritten font.  It’s fantastic! 

When I tried the chapstick itself I was pleasantly surprised.  I started with the Shea Butter Lavender, which has clove and orange.  The smell of the Lavender is strong but I wouldn't say too overwhelming.  The feel is oily although I tend to like that aspect, I almost feel like I'm putting on a lipgloss and drawing attention to my lips.

The second chapstick I tried was the Shea Butter Lemongrass.  The scent of lemon was just as strong as when I tried the Lavender.  It kind of reminded me of having a flavored Lemonade chapstick on.  The overall experience brings back positive memories of my childhood when I used to pick chapsticks that tasted like sodas and candies. The Shea Butter Lemongrass chapstick also contains orange and lime although I didn't taste either while applying.


The third chapstick I tried was the Shea Butter Eucalyptus with mint and anise.  Unlike the other two chapsticks I don’t think the smell radiates as you open and apply.  It also gave me a tingling feeling on my lips while applying which is reminiscence of how I always feel when using Eucalyptus body wash.  I received the same “clean” tingling sensation on my lips. 

My favorite was the Eucalyptus because of the fun tingling sensation as well as the subtlety in scent.  Although I was lucky enough to receive all free samples of the products, I’m hooked and will definitely be wanting to purchase more of the Eucalyptus Lip Balm in the future. I think all three would be a great staple in a woman’s purse and would be a fantastic stocking stuffer. 

The price of the lip balms are $3.49 for one which is roughly the same price you’d pay for store bought lip balm.  I would recommend buying more than one product at a time because the shipping could cost more than the price of your one item. 

Fun facts about the lip balms I didn’t mention before are; LEAP organics uses all organic products and the lip balms have the USDA organic seal.  The website even says “Much of a company’s impact on the world comes from the ingredients it uses, so we’re big sticklers on the ingredients we use in our products.”

LEAP Organics also doesn’t test their products on animals; the tubes are made from 65% post consumer recycled materials, and the tubes can be recycled after you're finished using them.  They also donate 1% of their annual profits to go to global environmental non-profits.

LEAP Organics is definitely a company I would buy more of not only for their fantastic products but the overall company practices.  

Written by Nicole Cruz

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Subfloor Progress

Hello everyone, here is an updated picture of our subfloor. This picture was taken last week, but little progress has been made since then. Nicole and I didn’t realize we needed to purchase the OSB right away, so the
 project was delayed until one of us received a paycheck.

We have the $300 needed to purchase the plywood, but lack a way to transport it. There is a luggage rack on the RAV4, so I’m going to see about tying to that. The mid-sized suv won’t like all the weight, so I might need to make two trips. Like I said in the last video, “Transporting is very important”. Getting our materials to the build location has been one of the biggest challenges so far.

Later, I will compile many photos and give more detailed building instructions along with expenses. I hope to make significant progress over the weekend, but at the same time I’m “Expecting the unexpected”.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Composting Toilets for $36

   Composting toilets seemed scary to me. To me a composting toilet was on the same level as a Porto potty. There’s nothing worse than a full Porto Potty. They smell, are dark, dingy and swarming with flies.

   One day I arrived home from work and Joe surprised me with a composting toilet and to say the least I was not very excited. We have been using it for a month, and I have to admit it was a great investment.

   We started with a very basic composting toilet, it’s a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic toilet seat (see photo). It snaps on the bucket with no hardware needed. Every time you’re done with your business you cover the toilet paper and waste with peat moss. Joe and I keep a small bucket of peat moss with shovel next to the toilet (we cut up a one gallon orange juice bottle). After using this toilet for the past month I’ve noticed for the two of us we have to dump a full bucket every 3 days. Now our toilet is very basic and works until we invest in a permanent one for the tent. Composting toilets now days come in all sizes with special features: vent pipe, hand crank to mix compost in toilet, solar panels, fans, and compost starter mix. Biolet offers a great new line of toilets that look great. We plan on investing in their “ez-loo solar” priced around $1000. Sounds like a lot for a toilet, right? Well, compare that to digging a septic tank, running the plumbing, removing the waste, and the natural resources used to build and transport it. Most new composting toilets look like the standard ceramic toilet you’d see in a home. As for my female hygiene, I use a bag next to the toilet to dispose of trash.

  We’ve had many guests over to see out temporary home until the tent is up and no one has even noticed the toilet until I say something. The smell is masked excellently by the peat moss and I’m glad to say Joe and I have made another small step to reducing our impact. Pros of the $36 toilet: Inexpensive, portable, no need for water, no need for a septic system, and we are greatly reducing our foot print. Cons of the $36 toilet: low to the ground (putting the toilet in a second bucket solves this), needs to be kept in bucket for one week before composting, need a few extra buckets with lids if used on a daily basis, and it’s not very attractive. 

   Item breakdown and cost: Plastic toilet seat designed to fit five gallon bucket (Purchased at local military surplus store). $19
Large bag of peat moss (Purchased at local hardware store). $12 
Five gallon bucket with lid (Purchased at same local hardware store) $5
  Total: $36

 Written by: Nicole Cruz and Edited by: Joe Newsome