Clean Living: Old Factory Hand Poured Candles

Clean Living Old Factory Candles

I love candles but it is difficult for me to go out and buy scented candles because so many of them are too strong or the synthetic fragrances used to scent them will trigger a migraine. The only candle I really buy that doesn’t make me sick is Macintosh Apple from the Yankee Candle shop.  So, I was really excited when Rachel from The Old Factory contacted me and asked me to review their soy based candles made with essential oils and cotton paper wicks.

FullSizeRender2Soy candles burn more cleanly than paraffin candles so they off-gas less. Further, fragrance contains phthalates which has over twenty years of research showing that they mess with hormone levels and reproductive health.  Scary!  Essential oils don’t contain phthalates.  Further, some poorly crafted candles or candles produced in other countries and imported here have been shown to use lead in their wicks.  There is NO safe level for lead contamination.

I told Rachel I would be happy to review the candles they sent me and leave a fair review of the product. In the mean time I went to Amazon to view all the candles they sold and check out the price.  Old Factory candles come in three packs in a wide range of scents.  I was also surprised to see that they had a number of “male” inspired scents as well as the traditional floral, holiday, and fruit ones that women are so fond of.

A three pack of candles from Amazon costs $30.99 but they are currently on sale for $25.  The good news is that they qualify for free shipping if you spend $35 through Amazon, so add on a new book or some other item to avoid S&H.

FullSizeRender3I requested the Spa Gift Package with comes with Cucumber, Green Tea and Lemongrass. When the candles came I will say that I was a little surprised by their size.  Each candle is two ounces in size.  I think in my mind I was expecting them to be larger, something similar in size to an Airwick or Glade candle.  Still, there was no denying the quality of them.

First off, the glass jars are very cute and well made. Once my candles are all used up I have every intention of keeping the jars and repurposing them.  Each candle smelled exactly as labeled.  I think my favorite one was the Green Tea.  I burned a different candle in my room each night until I tried all three and I was very happy with the aroma in the room.  The entire room was scented pretty quickly.  The lemongrass is naturally a stronger smell so I recommend using that one in a larger room.  It did over-power my bedroom after a while.  Each candle is guaranteed to burn for 20 hours. FullSizeRender4

Another plus to the candles are that they are made 100% in the USA so if you believe in buying local or supporting small businesses this is a great company to support.

Because the packaging is so cute I can honestly see myself purchasing some of these to use as hostess gifts in the coming holiday season. I know I will be giving a cute, fun, and safe gift to friends and loved ones.

To check them out for yourself click on the pictures or click the link right here:  Old Factory Candles at Amazon

**Full Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post.  I will not make a commission from any clicks from my website.  My only compensation was a single three pack of candles to try for review.  My opinions written here are honest and genuine. 

Wake Up with The Busy Mom Guru

Wake Up with the Busy Mom Guru

Anyone who knows me knows I haven’t left the house without make up since the age of 13.  Seriously, except for my immediate family and my children, no one knows what I look like without make-up.  NO ONE!

For years people have complimented my skin.  I’m not entirely sure why because truthfully it is pasty white and never tans.  I admit except for some brow lines I am relatively wrinkle free, but that is more from my limited sun exposure due to burning and never having smoked.  I can’t lie, I do come from some good genes.  Grandma Stretanski never aged.  From 45 till the day she died at 81 the woman looked exactly the same and I am pretty sure the only products she ever used were Dove bar soap, Jergen’s Lotion and a tube of Cover Girl Lipstick.  Grandma Casey was a similar story, until severe illness finally robbed her of her flawless skin.

Good genes aside, I can honestly say that now that I am 40 it requires a little more work to keep my skin looking nice.  Gone are the days when I could ignore my face and skip washing off my make-up for a week at a time.  My skin routine is firmly established and never skipped these days.

So, what do I look like without make-up.  I am going to show you.  Warning, it ain’t pretty.  This is possibly the scariest thing I have ever done.  So, here goes.  This is me make-up free, in my pajamas, bed head and all.


Okay, so now you know.  I wasn’t kidding about that plain pasty white skin.  But luckily for me they sell beauty in a bottle.  I am very serious about getting as many toxins as possible out of my beauty routine.  In the last couple of years I have done a lot of research on parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphates, and other toxic chemicals in the products we use daily.  While I wish I could say everything I use is totally safe and organic the truth is sometimes you have to chose function over organic.

The beginning of any great look is a great foundation.  Here is my secret, True Match foundation and Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer and Brightener.


 I used to use really expensive items from top brands and spend a fortune, but you know what, these work better!  Honest.  A few dots of foundation are smoothed all over,


In the inner corners of my eyes, around my nostrils, and on any blemish I use the Age Rewind Concealer.  Then lightly tap with a finger until everything is smoothed out.


The Age Rewind Brightener is used under the outer eye area to open the area up and fake being awake.  I also use the applicator and run it down the center of my nose, then blend it all in.


Next comes cheeks and eyes.  I use dark brown L’Oreal Eyeliner and smudge it a bit.  At Sephora I found the most adorable compact from Tarte, an all natural mineral based make-up.  A little blush on the apples of my cheeks and light on the lid, dark in the outer corners, and white at the base of the brow.



Then I take a clean brush (I love my Eco Tools) and blend the three colors together until you get a seamless eye shadow.

After the shadow I have to deal with my eyebrows, or lack there of.  Usually I have really long bangs that hide them, which suits me fine, but a really bad hack job left me with ridiculously short bangs and suddenly my brows could be ignored no longer. Not only are they sparse, but they don’t match.  One has a lovely arch, the other goes straight across.  One gets plucked from the top to lower it, the other get plucked from the bottom to raise it.  Yeah, its a pain in the butt.  I really needed help.


Browzing from Benefit came to the rescue!

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This stuff is the bomb!  The little chiseled brush and the wax perfectly outlines your brow, and allows you to draw in some where there are none.  Then the blender brush and the pigment fill in and replace what nature forgot to give you!  It even comes with a super tiny set of tweezers to get rid of those out of place hairs.  Ta Dah!!


Finally to wrap this whole thing up is lashes and lips.  I have tried organic mascara.  Do yourself a favor and save your money.  They all flake and smear within hours.  Totally wasted my money.  But, I did find an amazing substitute for lipstick!  Lipstick is one of the most toxic products women use because we actually ingest it when we eat or lick our lips.

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I love Lancôme’s Definitions in Brown and Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Raisin.  Burt’s Bees is made from all natural plant based products and yet has awesome pigments.


My make-up is now finished but not my beauty routine.  Below are the products I use to keep my skin healthy using as few chemicals as possible.  First is cleansing.  I used to use Olay Cleansing Wipes but decided to go for an organic solution a while back.  Green People Cleanser and Make-up Remover and a package of Honest Baby Wipes work better than the Olay and are seriously chemical free!  To scrub off dead skin cells and keep skin glowing I love Alba Pineapple Enzyme Scrub.  After cleaning and sloughing, I apply the tiniest amount of Josie Maran Organic Argon Oil.  One of the big shockers for me when I turned forty was the return of teenage zits.  Seriously, now I have to fight wrinkles AND acne?  How is that fair?  Anyway, Argon Oil ended up being a real blessing.  Who knew it took an oil to fight an oil?


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147sThe last weapon in my arsenal is Roc Retinal.  No, this is not organic, but the truth is I refuse to grow old before my time and retinols plus sun screen really are the best thing out there for slowing down your skin’s aging.  So every morning this goes on before the make-up.  I apply it before I curl my hair so it has time to absorb.

I know what some of you might be thinking, good grief that is a lot of work, and when you break it down step by step like I just did, I admit, it does seem like a ton, but the truth is I get all of this done in about five or six minutes each morning.  The Browzing added an extra minute or two when I first started using it but like everything else I quickly figured it out and it just became one more step in the program.

If you use or like any of these products let me know how they work for you.  If you try some of these products from this post make sure to come back and let me know if you liked them.

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How I Got Rid of my Migraines

How I Got Rid of my Migraines

For years I have had to avoid perfumes because they triggered debilitating migraines.  I have had to actually send home students who came to school after playing in their parents perfume or even worse, after shave cologne.

I clearly remember my mother scrubbing and cleaning every square inch of the house when I was a kid.  She loved Spic & Span for cleaning the floors and Formula 409 for washing the walls.  Next would come out the Pledge furniture polish and she would make every wood finish in the house shine so that you could see your reflection on the surface.

Next came several loads of towels and linens all washed with bleach and then hung outside to dry.  By the end of her spring or fall cleaning she would sit back and breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy her sanitized home.  I, on the other hand, would be in my bed in a pitch black room in agony from a headache so strong it would make me nauseous.

As I got older this reaction to strong smells never went away.  All those lovely smelling soaps and beauty products, I can’t use them.  The only scented candle I can tolerate is Macintosh Apple from the Yankee Candle Store.  Everything else will make me horribly sick.

When my youngest was born he often broke out in rashes.  I learned to use only Free & Clear Type detergents on his soft skin, but even then he would still break out, just to lesser degrees.

Then, a few months ago my oldest son started to have migraines too!  That really was the last straw for me.  I started to do a lot of research on fragrances, chemicals, and what the heck was really in the cleaning products, toothpaste, laundry detergent and shampoo we were all using.

What I found out scared the hell out of me, and if you knew everything it would scare you too!  Suddenly I understood why 1 out of every 6 couples is experiencing infertility issues.  Suddenly I understood why ADHD seems to affect half of my class room every year.  Suddenly I understood why every single adult I know takes a medication for some condition or illness.

I have since made a lot of changes in our house.  All kinds of new products showed up, some from Costco, some from the drug store, and some from The Honest Company.  (I know there is a major dispute between The Honest Toddler and The Honest Company.  For the record I support the Honest Toddler in her copyright claim.  However, I can not deny my happiness with The Honest Company products that I have brought into my home.  I sincerely hope both sides can come to a happy conclusion.)

Below are the new products that we have been using for several months now and they are all performing very well.

In the Laundry Room


I love ECOS laundry detergent.  It is free of all toxic ingredients and scented only with essential oils (think aroma therapy).  It really does get our clothes clean with a tiny little amount.  I love that this item is sold in bulk size at Costco.  If you have read my previous posts you know we are Costco lovers here.  So I can do 210 loads of clothes for $12.99.  That is a great price.

If I am doing an extremely dirty load (grass stains and car oil) then I will toss in an Honest Oxy Boost.  Bye-bye stains.  I also buy the Honest Laundry 4 in 1 pods, but I mostly use those for going up north.  I toss a few pods in a sandwich bag and we are good to go.  I don’t have to worry about spills in the trunk.

In the Kitchen


I love the Honest Dish Soap.  It cleans the dishes and the Grapefruit Oil does not cause a migraine.  Apparently my brain can handle real smells, just not chemically concocted ones.  I have the Honest Hand Soap as well.  This one takes some getting used to.  I was using Method Foaming Hand Soap from Target and will probably switched back.  This is a low suds soap and even though I don’t mind it the kids and my husband are not a fan.

In the Bathroom


It will probably surprise you to learn that I use the exact same products my kids use for the most part.  (Casey uses Tom’s of Maine Strawberry Toothpaste, I use Peppermint)

When it comes to oral care I love Tom’s of Maine.  The toothpastes are flavored with real mint extract and nothing else.  No dyes or artificial chemicals.  The same is true for the mouth wash which is minty but with no burn.

The sunscreen I apply every day is Babyganics SPF50.  Yes, I use baby sunscreen and it works perfectly on my pasty white easily burning skin.  The stick version goes on nice and even on top of my makeup without wiping my makeup off.

I use Honest Shampoo & Body Wash and Honest Conditioner on my hair.  They do the job just fine and because they are so gentle they don’t strip my hair color away.  After a shower I add a few drops of Honest Body Oil to a little bit of Honest Face and Body Lotion and rub it all in.  It leaves your skin feeling soft and dewy but not slimy or sticky.

I used to use Olay Daily Facial Clothes but have since switched to Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleaning Clothes.  I can’t tell a difference.  I am make-up free when I am done.

Did you know women eat about 7 pounds of lipstick over the course of a lifetime?  Since I can’t give up lipstick I switched to Burt’s Bees 100% natural Lip Shimmers.  Great color and totally non-toxic.  Top it off with a little gloss and you are date night ready.

When it comes to Antiperspirant I had to make a compromise.  I tried Tom’s of Maine Aluminum Free version and after two hours I stunk.  I can’t walk around being smelly, it just isn’t going to happen.  So I switched to Tom’s of Maine Naturally Dry Unscented.  It is free of all toxins EXCEPT aluminum.  No more pit sweat and no more stinky.

I hope this review of these products motivates you to try some of them and remove a bunch of chemicals from your home and life.

Also, since we made the switch there has been no rashes on Casey and AJ has had only one migraine.

If you have discovered great products please share below.  I am really interested in what cosmetic brands you have found to be chemical free or organic yet actually work.
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