Archive of ‘Natural Living & Beauty’ category

Pick Your Own Berries Season

What to wear berry pickingSummer isn’t complete until I’ve gone blueberry picking at least once. Maybe it’s because I grew up near a pick-your-own berry farm, or more likely because there’s no other food in the world I like quite as much as blueberries. There’s also just something so rewarding about being involved in procuring the berries you eat and seeing the land where it’s grown.

The season varies every year for blueberry picking, because the crops are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. I’ve been picking in the Pacific Northwest as early as June and in Wisconsin as late as August. Some years there hasn’t been a crop at all, which is disappointing to say the least!

The general rule for the Midwest is early summer strawberries, mid summer blueberries and late summer raspberries. So not to worry if you’ve missed strawberries and blueberries where you live, there might still be raspberries on the horizon.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of faithful berry picking.

what to wear berry pickingWhat to wear berry picking

When choosing what to wear berry picking, consider clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. Blue and black clothes for blueberry picking work out well. Pants or shorts are ideal because picking berries can require crouching and sitting on the ground.

A hat to keep the bugs and sun off your face. Need hat inspiration? Here are three of my  favorites, at different price points:

What to bring:

Bug spray.

A cooler with a tray and/or container to transport your berries home in.

Cash, as some berry farms don’t take credit cards.

A small child or two. Berry picking is a fun activity for little ones, so give the kids in your life a chance to learn about farming, food production and nature if you can!

What to leave at home:

Your pets! Most farms don’t allow dogs.

Picking baskets and buckets. The farm will supply these, though you can bring your own if you prefer.

What to know:

Call ahead! Most berry farms are small family operations that will close if they get picked out or if there’s inclement weather. Before you drive way out into the country, confirm that the farm will be open when you get there.

Not all farms are pesticide free, so do your research ahead of time if you prefer organic produce.

what to wear berry pickingWhere to pick:

Find farms near you at

What berries are in season near you?

Bee Safe Gardening: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now

Bee safeToday we’re talking about something dear to me: bees! Our bee populations are in trouble, but you can use these bee safe gardening practices this summer to start standing up for bees.

Plant More Flowers, Less Grass

Bees are starving on our turf grass lawns that provide no nutrition for them in the form of flowers. Even worse, for years over half of store-bought plants and flowers have been grown with bee-killing chemicals called neonicotinoides. If you maintain your own lawn, stop using sprays and chemical mixes that contain these insecticides right now. For what to avoid, start with this list from While you’re there, download a free poster like this one:

Bee Safe Gardening

Next, consider using a bee-friendly lawn seed mix that includes clover for them to snack on. Bonus–it’s also less maintenance than a pure turf grass yard. Did you know that once all lawns contained white clover? As standards for pure green lawns grew, the clover was eliminated–along with an important food source for bees.

If you don’t have your own lawn, consider talking to your Home Owner’s Association about the importance of helping our bee populations survive.

Buy the Right Potted Flowers

When you buy potted flowers, ask: were they grown using neonicotinoides? (These are sometimes called neonics for short.) Sometimes, the sellers will have NO idea what you’re talking about. I won’t buy anything there. However, awareness has been growing tremendously and many gardeners are conscientious about creating a bee safe yard. When I shopped at Lowe’s recently, the nursery staff was well aware of the issue and assured shoppers that as of this year they are 100% neonic-free.

bee safe garden

Advertise Your Bee Safe Gardening Practices

You can get a little “Bee Safe Yard” sign that announces your commitment to the health and safety of the planet. Get your sign for a small donation at Humming for Bees.

Pure green turf isn’t better! A bee safe yard is the most beautiful yard of all. Together, we can change our standards of yard beauty–bee safe gardening is the best solution for bees, and for us.

April Natural Product Reviews

I get the opportunity to review a great variety of natural beauty, skincare and sustainable household products, and I love sharing my favorites. Here are highlights of the many I sampled in April.

natural product reviews makeMake Cosmetics

Make Beauty sent me some doll-sized samples that were so adorable I put them next to the rose for scale. Love that they are made in NYC, Paraben free and cruelty free. The brand is offering readers 20% off til 5/31 with code MAKEYOURSELF. Every purchase supports the We See Beauty Foundation. Also featured on my Instagram.

natural product reviews sojosSojo’s Dog Treats

I guess April was the month for teeny tiny samples, because these dog treats are SO tiny. Really simple ingredients make these a good filler-free treat for pets. Made in the U.S.A too!  Perfect for tiny pets like my 15-lb terrier mix Perry, but if you have a larger canine you’ll want to look for something a bit more substantial.

Natural product reviewsEco-Friendly Bath Products

These are samples that I was gifted at the Minnesota Blogger Bash Lowertown Pop Preview. Two MN-based companies are making natural, Eco-friendly bath products that smell delicious. The first is Moisturizing & Exfoliating Solid Lotion Scrub by Bodylish (cute name!) that’s made with real cardamom spices. The shea butter feels a little oily, so just be prepared for that. I love the packaging and I would enjoy trying more of their products! The second is the all-natural ingredient shampoo/shower/shave soap bar from Storm Sister Spatique. I shampooed my hair with it and didn’t love the results (to be fair I’ve never loved a shampoo bar), so I’ll stick with using it as soap. All packaging is 100% compostable and recyclable! Either one of these would make a great gift for anyone who appreciates locally crafted goods.

Thanks for reading my natural product reviews this month!

Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum

Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum ReviewValentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum Review

Do you love roses? This serum is made of pressed rose petals. Literally. It has a strong scent of roses, but it’s 100% natural fragrance from all the rose petals that went into the serum.

I received a bottle of the serum in exchange for my Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum review and I was so excited to share my honest opinion with you. Let’s take a look at the attributes.

-Cruelty Free, Alcohol Free, Paraben Free

-Contains great natural ingredients including Evening Primrose Oil, Lavender Extract, Aloe Vera, Rosehip Seed Oil, and Gotu Kola. All these ingredients are what sold me on trying this product. There are the usual preservative ingredients Ethylhexyl Glycerin and Phenoxyethanol, which aren’t natural but are used in many, many natural products. They score low on Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which is why I’m okay with using products that contain them. To check your cosmetic ingredients for safety, I highly recommend bookmarking the site!

It’s moisturizing and nourishing to dry skin, but not at all oily. It goes on evenly and I look forward to using it again and again. Since it’s a serum, it’s meant to be used along with a moisturizer and eye cream. So it adds an extra step to your beauty routine, which is the only drawback for me. But since it’s like putting your face into a bunch of roses, it’s a fun extra step to add. When I use serums such as this one, it seems to help my moisturizer go on more smoothly and my skin feels more hydrated overall.

If you want to try it yourself, Valentia is offering Pink Paperdoll readers 20% off with exclusive code PPRDOL20, which is good through April 2016.

4 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Pet Owner

eco friendly pet

Taking steps to be more environmentally conscious is probably something you think about in your life. But what about your pet? Have you thought about the impact your pet is making on the environment too? There are a few simple ways to be an Eco-friendly pet owner. Get ready to go green with your pet!

eco friendly pet

Eco-Friendly Cat Litter

Clay litter is the least Eco-friendly of all the litter options. It doesn’t decompose and is often sourced from destructive strip mines. Luckily there are plenty of environmentally friendly cat litter options available. After being disappointed in the corn and wheat options available, I finally found an Eco-friendly option that I’ll continue to buy. The Blue Buffalo Co. Naturally Fresh is made from crushed walnut shells. provided me with litter samples to review, and this was by far my favorite.

Pros – Environmentally friendly, it clumps, and has great odor control. Virtually dust-free.

Con – The clumps break apart easily while scooping and it makes a bit of a mess. Other litters are simpler to scoop, but the pros outweigh the cons for me and I’ll continue to get this one.

If you have a favorite litter, let me know in the comments.

Ditch Plastic Poop Bags

Or at least re-use old plastic bags for cleaning up after the pup. I try to minimize my use of plastic bags, but the ones I do have I collect and use for dog walks. I’ve also heard you can use paper bags but I’d rather not do that when we’re on a long walk! The Environmental Protection Agency advises flushing as the best way to get rid of dog waste. You can also compost dog waste in soil that isn’t going to be used for growing food. I don’t do either of those things – for now I’m happy to use plastic bags that aren’t bought new. We all need to start somewhere.

Buy High Quality Pet Food

I pay a lot of attention to what I eat and how and where it’s grown. What about what our pets eat? Support responsible pet food companies that aren’t contributing to pollution, treat animals humanely and don’t use animal byproducts. This usually means paying more, but your pet is getting a better product. Raw and grain free diet options are usually good places to start.

Benefits of grain free pet food

Support Animal Rescues

Lastly, the best way to be an Eco-friendly pet person is to support the work of animal shelters and get your pets from them!

What are some ways you try to be Eco-friendly in your daily life?

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