Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review of Koru Naturals' Emu Oil and Lanolin Cream

I know what you're thinking: Emu Oil, right? I was thinking that, too, but when you see what this oil did for my daughter's out-of-control hair, you'll become a believer! Emu Oil is one of Koru Naturals' amazing products. I got to review both it and the New Zealand Pure and Simple Lanolin Cream.

Koru Naturals Review

Koru Naturals is a New Zealand based company that uses all-natural ingredients and does not test on animals. Its products include ingredients such as tea tree, manuka, and rose hip oils, lanolin, and manuka honey. Specifically, the Emu Oil contains...wait for it...100% Grade A Emu Oil. Apparently, that means vitamins, minerals, and Omega fatty acids 3 and 6. I have to be honest: I am not a huge ingredients watcher. I am, however, a big fan of results. My daughter Therese has *very* dry and frizzy hair. Her hair is naturally curly and, apart from flat ironing it, neither she nor I has much idea of what to do with it. This first picture is what her hair looks like the day after she washes it. It has been brushed with a hair brush.

Obviously, it's a tad...big! She would never wear it out in public like this. Into a ponytail it would go! That always makes me kind of sad, because who doesn't want curly hair (I know - the people who have it!)? 

I put a few drops of Emu Oil into the palms of my hands and smoothed it over one side of Therese's hair. In this picture, you can see that she looks skeptical that anything could tame her frizz, but there is clearly a big difference!

Finally - she is happy! There is obviously a difference between the side of her hair that has received a very light treatment of the Emu Oil and the side that hasn't. The side with the Emu Oil has no frizz and the curls are defined and pretty. The other side has frizzies sticking up everywhere and is still big and out of control. Therese is happy!

I wish I had a time stamp on my camera so that you could see the elapsed time between all of these pictures. It is truly about 45 seconds from first to last. To say that I am thrilled with this product is an understatement. We have tried so many different things in Therese's hair from drugstore products to very expensive salon products, and I have *never* seen a result like this. I think her hair looks beautiful. It took so little product to get this result, too. And compared to our regular oil, the Emu Oil is so reasonable - only $9.85 for a 2 oz. bottle. My only complaint about the oil is the smell. It is definitely off-putting. Having said that, I am far more interested in the result, and I *will* be buying this product when we run out!

We also received and reviewed Koru Naturals' New Zealand Lanolin Cream. This product is another big winner and (spoiler alert) another one I will be repurchasing. In fact, my husband has told me to purchase two more (I have already promised mine to my father). 

Koru Naturals Review

The Lanolin Cream is stellar for dry skin. Now, I thought I had dry skin, but when my father was over visiting, I remembered that *he* has massively dry skin. His hands are like sandpaper. I had him try the Lanolin Cream and he loved it. I told him at that point that he could have the jar when I was done reviewing it (and, honestly, I regretted it the moment I said it because I really like it!). I fully expected him to say no - he had enough stuff and was trying to divest himself of things and not acquire more. My dad is a minimalist. The fact that he immediately said he'd take it is the biggest endorsement this product could get - seriously. The fact that when I told my husband what I had done he told me to immediately order two more jars - one for the house and one for his office - is another great endorsement. 

What makes the Lanolin Cream great is its simplicity. There are no harsh ingredients and no harsh fragrances (it does have a pleasant mild one). It is exactly what you need for dry skin and cuticles. It doesn't burn or further irritate. Why I love it so much is that it absorbs immediately and it doesn't disturb my knitting. I am not afraid to knit (even with silk lace yarn) almost right after using it. My hands and cuticles get very dry and they snag my delicate lace yarns. The Lanolin Cream stops that right away and unlike any other hand cream (apart from those specifically designed to go with knitting that cost the world), it doesn't transfer to the yarn. That makes it my Holy Grail hand cream. Again, like the Emu Oil, the price is right - only $8.95 for a 100 gm jar! If you need a family size or want to use it for diaper rash, they do sell larger jars.

I am so happy to have found Koru Naturals through the Crew! There are so many products that I want to try. First up on my wish list is the Alpine Silk Gold Propolis and Lanolin Replenishing Cream. Because shipping is free over $35, I have to spend at least that, right? They have masks and scrubs, as well as skin and lip balms. The Crew was lucky enough to be able to review several more Koru Naturals products, so be sure to read all of the reviews by clicking the banner below!

Koru Naturals Review
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St. Valentine

I so meant to post this earlier in the month, but I figure as long as its February, it counts. This one goes out to all the atheists who love to celebrate Valentine's Day...

All credit goes to the guy at Catholic Memes - he's a genius. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review of Heirloom Audio Productions' In Freedom's Cause

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

If you read my blog at all, you know that I am seriously addicted to all things spoken audio: audiobooks, podcasts, old time radio shows - you name it: if it is spoken audio, I'm all over it. Imagine my delight, then, when two of my favorite spoken audio genres (audiobook and radio drama) married in Heirloom Audio Productions' In Freedom's Cause Single Package production of G.A. Henty's classic book.

You have probably heard of G.A. Henty's books, even if you don't quite realize it. Show me one homeschool curriculum that *doesn't* have The Cat of Babastes on (in) it, and I'll point out to you that the curriculum is likely not classical, Charlotte Mason, relating to Egypt (obviously), or very good (sorry - was that judgmental?). Simply put, G.A. Henty tells a great story! His books are historically accurate (N.B., as a Catholic, I have problems with some of his books as they relate to interpretations of the Reformation, but the vast majority of his books, well, don't), easy to read (while presenting kids with a great vocabulary), and always exciting. Know what's even more exciting, though? Hearing the books brought to life with a full-cast audio!

Before getting into how awesome this product is, let me first tell you everything you get in this unique package (all of which is included in the $29.97 + s/h price)!
1. The 2-CD set of the audio drama + instant access MP3 download

2. The complete eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter (more on this in a minute)

3. A printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (that would be the 23rd Psalm in the Latin Vulgate. If you have not read this psalm in anything other than the KJV, you might be surprised at how different and majestic it is when translated faithfully from the Latin. I love that this printable poster is included in the download package. But, then, as a Catholic and as a lover of Latin, any time I see the Vulgate referenced I get a thrill of pleasure.).

4. The MP3 download of the soundtrack to the audio. The music for the audio drama was composed by the Emmy-winning composer John Campbell, who also composed the score for The Chronicles of Narnia! Having the soundtrack is a huge value-add for the set!

My review continues below, but first, watch the trailer - I dare you not to buy this audio drama after watching it! I was blessed enough to receive it for review, but watching the trailer makes me want to go and buy it! I am telling you - this is such an exciting way to share books with children! Your kids are going to love it. Just listening to the trailer as I write the review, my kids are asking when we can listen to it again.


There are as many different ways to enjoy In Freedom's Cause as there are homeschool (and all) families. Obviously, you can just listen to and love it. It's a great story. You can also incorporate it into your study of Scotland, England, this particular time in history, or William Wallace. If you want to use it in a more directed way, the included study guide is a great way to do so. 

Structured like many study guides, each section of the guide covers between 4-10 minutes of audio and includes three sections: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are 37 such sections altogether. The study guide also includes a brief section on the history of Scotland in order to bring parents up to speed, just in case you may not know what brought William Wallace to his present views. Finally, it concludes with three brief Bible studies. 

The study guide is *gorgeous*. I include one small screenshot here so that you can see what I am talking about. Like all other things associated with this product, the study guide is a work of art. It looks like it is printed on aged paper, and it includes maps and sumptuous artwork. My kids and I loved looking through it the second we got it. The study guide demands that you delve into it, unlike so many study guides that repel students (simply by virtue of the fact that they look like so much work). The only downside to the gorgeous study guide is that it is just too much color to print. Still, one doesn't have to print it to use it. It is just as easy to write the answers to the questions on your own paper, or to answer them orally.

All four of my kids loved In Freedom's Cause as much as I did. First of all, it is very hard to resist a Scottish accent, and the accents in this drama are completely authentic (didn't you watch the trailer!?). Second, the music is awesome. It sweeps you away. The production value of the CD is so amazing that if you close your eyes, you would be convinced that there is a movie on a screen in front of you...but then you open your eyes and you're glad there's not, because what your own imagination can conjure is likely much better!

The first time we listened to the CD, we did so piecemeal in the car. It wasn't ideal, and it wasn't the kids preference. That didn't diminish their love for the story, though. In a couple of weeks we have a road trip, however, and they are really looking forward to being able to listen again straight through. So am I!

A Note to Catholic Families

One thing that often seems to get overlooked about William Wallace is his Catholicism. Yes, Henty talks about Wallace as a Christian, but any Christian in 13th/14th century Scotland (or anywhere!) was a Catholic. Wallace was educated by Augustinians and Benedictines and spoke Latin, the language of the Church. Events in his life caused him to fall away from his faith for a time, but he died reciting the penitential psalms (the study guide *does* point this out in its introduction about Wallace - something I really appreciated!) - something we as Catholics still do when we go to Confession. There are many different ways to expand your study of William Wallace and his Catholic faith by using this book and study as a jumping off point. For example, there is a movement among some Scottish Catholics to have William Wallace canonized. This would be a great opportunity to discuss with your children the canonization process - what is required and whether Wallace's life meets those qualifications. Also, because the package includes the 23rd psalm in the Vulgate translation, it's a great opportunity to discuss different translations of the Bible, including the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles (vis-a-vis what Protestants typically refer to as the Apocrypha). 

If you're already in love with In Freedom's Cause, you'll welcome the news that Heirloom Productions is working on two new productions! The first one, With Lee in Virginia, is coming around Memorial Day!

To find In Freedom's Cause on social media, be sure to check out all of the following places:


In Freedom's Cause Review

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

High-End Lipstick Birthday Haul

I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, and then proceeded to have an almost constant migraine. I guess I won't be outgrowing those any time soon. On the positive side, my most generous husband indulged my love of lipstick by treating me to these lovelies for my birthday. I have to say that Nars Audacious lipsticks are the BEST lipsticks I have ever used. Pigment forever. Gorgeous colors. Packaging that is beyond description. For Christmas, Henry gave me Anita - a beautiful antique rose (according to Nars' website). He has watched me panic as I have used it so much that I am already into the "Nars" embossing on the bullet. That is undoubtedly why he escorted me to the Nars section of Sephora on my birthday. How lucky am I? In any case, I was agonizing between Jane and Brigitte when he grabbed both and headed for the register. Again, how lucky am I? (Images are from Nars' website)

Depending on your monitor, I realize that they might look the same, but on my NC15 skin, they are completely different. Did I mention the magnetic caps? These lipsticks are awesome.

But that's not all...Marc Jacobs just released a new line of lipsticks called Le Marc Lip Cremes. Oh. My. Gosh. I don't like them *quite* as much as Nars, but it is darn close. I also ended up with this beauty.

Image Credit:

Infamous is a gorgeous deep rose shade. One swipe will seriously last for *hours*. Again, super luxurious magnetic case.

I know some people will think that these gifts are a complete waste of money, but all I can say is that some women like jewelry - I like makeup. I'm lucky enough to have a husband who understands that! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

And This Was Me in Austin This Weekend... the debate tournament at which Therese qualified for regionals in Impromptu (go, Therese!!). I was sick. And Tired. So, this:

Credit: Debate Memes/Facebook