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Month: August 2019

It’s That Time Again

It’s that time again! Peak Hurricane Season has arrived in the Caribbean and that means most of the charter boats have sailed south to Grenada for an end of season break. Peter is now the Service Manager for MultiTech VI in St Thomas. They specialize in warranty and repairs for some of the big name catamarans – Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, Nautitech and Gemini – which means there’s tons of work during the charter season.

While the work has slowed down at home, MultiTech is busier than ever in the Ft Lauderdale and Annapolis locations. They’ve asked him to help out in Annapolis for about a month. Because he’ll be gone for so long (and because i’d rather not be alone on our boat in the middle of hurricane season) Brig and I are taking a little vacation to stay with Peter in the states.

We were all set with plane tickets but his company needed Peter to come up a week earlier instead so he got our hurricane lines set and prepped as much as he could to store the boat for a few months before taking off without us. I spent the last week finishing up the remaining bit of cleaning and storage prep before shutting everything off and locking up our home. I packed us up and loaded everything (including Brig) into a dock cart and headed off to the car. We got a ride to the airport, took two plane rides and now we’re all settled in our new spot for the next month!! I seriously think Brig has been on over 30 flights in his two short years. This was the first time he actually had his own paid seat though! What a relief that was…

I’ve never been to this part of the country before so it’s a nice change of pace. It’s actually been just as hot as it is back home – not what I expected at all this far North. Hopefully we will have a chance to explore soon. Unfortunately Brig is already sick. Maybe from the plane ride, or maybe the airport. It’s just a cold but it breaks my heart to see him not feel good. I’m sure in a few days he will be back to his normal wild boy self.

Peter works out of Pier 7 Marina in Edgewater and we are staying up in the historical part of Annapolis. Where’s all my Annapolis friends? Do you live nearby? Do you have any recommendations of fun things to do here with a 2 year old? Please send me a message and let me know!

After some time in Annapolis, Peter gets to take his vacation at the end of September. If all goes well and there isn’t any hurricane trouble back home we plan to fly out to the West Coast to visit family in Washington State and California. We also hope to pick up our Tahoe that’s parked at my dad’s house and either drive it to Florida (or put it on a truck) and then have it shipped down to St Thomas. It’s in great condition and is super reliable – something that’s hard to come by in the islands. Then, Peter has to fly to the Lagoon Factory in Bordeaux France for a training course at the end of October. Brig and I will not be going on that one – way too expensive for us, especially when Brig has to have his own seat on the plane now. I’m not sure what we will do yet while Peter is in France but we’ll figure it out eventually. We hope to be back home to our boat by the 1st of November just in time for high season in the charter business to kick off again!

Stay tuned to our Instagram and Facebook pages for more frequent updates and photos 💙


Why I’m In Love With Branch Basics

You guys!!! I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING this plant and mineral based cleaner concentrate from Branch Basics!! I’ve been wanting to find natural ingredient replacements for all the nasty chemicals we have in our boat/home and I finally found one that is totally safe and still totally effective!

What Is It?

The Branch Basics Concentrate is eco-friendly, biodegradable, plant and mineral based, fragrance-free, non-gmo, gluten free, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, nut free, tree nut free, essential oil free, alcohol free, free of synthetic preservatives, not tested on animals, not harmful to people or pets, made in the USA, gentle enough for sensitive skin and babies, non-MLM, affordable, and totally effective!

I bought the travel kit and starter kit from Branch Basics which both have endless uses. Hand washing, dish washing, all-purpose surface cleaner, glass and windows, bathrooms, laundry, (cloth diaper laundry too!), stains, face wash, body wash, baby wash, pet wash, and on and on. The website also has a complete user guide with recommended uses and an awesome FAQ. I’m thoroughly impressed with how well it actually cleans, and how little concentrate you actually need. There’s a mild natural smell but hardly noticeable and definitely not lingering. I actually clean more now and didn’t realize how much I was subconsciously avoiding cleaning because I didn’t like breathing in the other stuff, coating it where my kid eats, or getting all kinds of chemicals on my skin. And let’s be honest, it sucks wearing big rubber gloves.

Why Does This Matter To Me?

I have recently fallen down a giant rabbit hole on the hunt for cleaning and personal care stuff that is biodegradable and safe around anyone – pregnant, breastfeeding, infants, kids, pets, etc and I’ve done a TON of research. If you know me personally, you know I leave no stone unturned and I don’t stop researching until I’m totally confident in what I’ve found. (Remember the Insurance post, cloth diaper post and dog food post I wrote?) It all started with trying to find a totally safe baby wash for Brig. Of course, this just created more and more questions that I wanted answers to along the way.

I’ve read more labels than anyone should ever have to in one lifetime and I’ve found that the most commonly used ingredients are either harmful or possibly harmful to us in one way or another. The hardest part was finding natural plant based products that do NOT have essential oils or a ton of herbal extracts in them. EOs and herbal extracts are totally fine (and often very helpful) for some people but there are SO many of them that should not be used around kids, pets, or during breastfeeding or pregnancy, or those with sensitive skin – even stuff that is labeled as unscented or fragrance-free sometimes still has EOs in it. If I’m going to switch to using natural plant based products I want to feel confident in the total safety of every single ingredient and I just don’t feel good about blindly jumping on the bandwagon of using essential oils and herbal extracts without knowing the potential (albeit, rare) side effects too. Branch Basics does have less than 1% of German Chamomile flower extract (not an essential oil) in the diluted products but i’m totally okay with that specific herbal extract and at that dilution.

“The Concentrate is human safe, not irritating to the eyes, skin, or lungs. All ingredients are rated 1 on EWG, and there are no harmful preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, or any type of alcohol. Even the extremely chemically sensitive and immune compromised are able to use Branch Basics with complete confidence.” -That’s just a snippet from their website. I also discovered they are certified on the MadeSafe.org website which is incredibly reassuring, as well as rated in the Best categories on several Mamavation product investigations.

So What Are THe Ingredients?  

Purified Water

Coco Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser)

Chamomilla Recutita (German Chamomile) Flower Extract

Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier),

Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda),

Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant)

I always recommend doing your own homework and research. I’ve done mine and feel totally confident that these ingredients are safe to use around pretty much anyone. There is of course a very small chance of someone being allergic to something in this product but the chances are SO small, and the benefits outweigh the risks (IMHO) when you are looking at all the known hazards of conventional cleaning products that most of us have lived our entire lives using. The chances of any of these ingredients being an irritant for anyone is so much smaller than it is for most of the ingredients in commercial products available at your local stores.

The surfactants in this concentrate are “Alkyl-Polyglucosides”. There are some studies which show these ingredients may be emergent allergens with a rare chance of producing contact dermatitis (skin irritation or rash). However, they are plant derived and are pretty much the most gentle option for most people. Another example of a possible allergen is Chamomile. While incredibly gentle and typically soothing, you may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction to chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, asters, marigolds or chrysanthemums. But again, the ingredient here is only a flower extract (less potent than an essential oil) and is used in dilutions of less than 1%.

Why isn’t there a preservative? I asked the same question which is answered in the Branch Basics FAQ. There are tons of other helpful answers there that also helped me understand why this stuff is so safe and so versatile.

Why Not Use Castile Soaps?

Another reason I like Branch Basics so much is because it’s not a castile based soap. Real soap is a wonderful natural toxin-free product that many people love (especially for its zero-waste packaging aspects) but it tends to leave a residue (especially in hard water) and needs an acidic rinse like vinegar to come clean. Who has time for that? Vinegar can also be harsh on your lungs if you use it all the time, for all your cleaning needs. It can help as a tough degreaser but it really doesn’t “clean” very well at all if you look into the actual chemistry of it versus a surfactant. Yep, I jumped down that rabbit hole too. I still keep a bottle of plain white distilled vinegar in my cabinet though. Castile based soap can also be very drying on skin if it’s made without retained glycerin (a natural humectant), and most soaps won’t specify this either. In climates with low humidity, glycerin can ironically draw natural moisture out of our skin, causing the opposite desired effect. The Branch Basics Concentrate doesn’t contain saponified oils or glycerin.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are several packages available where you can buy a full starter kit that includes all the spray bottles – with or without the laundry booster, travel size bottles, extra empty full size bottles, or just the concentrate. Any way you slice it, the price for all of it is shockingly cheap compared to store bought products. Even though the concentrate sounds expensive at $49, the 33 oz. of Concentrate makes:

  • 3 All-Purpose bottles (24 oz.) at $2.90 each
  • 3 Bathroom bottles (24 oz.) at $5.80 each
  • 3 Streak-Free bottles (24 oz.) at $0.20 each
  • 3 Foaming Wash bottles (10 oz.) at $2.90 each
  • 64 laundry loads at $0.24 per load
What’s The Catch?

The only thing I don’t love about Branch Basics is that it comes in plastic bottles. Half way down the rabbit hole I also decided I wanted to try to support a more eco-friendly lifestyle all together and look for Zero Waste options whenever possible. I know i’m just one person but the impact of non-biodegradable waste all over the world has long since spiraled out of control. It’s something that will be an even bigger problem for my kids and their kids in years to come. It doesn’t harm anyone by trying to live a Zero Waste lifestyle by minimizing our waste when we can, and it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal either. Every little but helps, so why not try.

Anyway, at least Branch Basics is on the train of reusable and refillable containers, which helps tremendously. You can buy their bottles that have conveniently marked fill lines or you can follow the recommended ratios and use your own bottles you already have at home, just buying their concentrate alone. Glass is great because it doesn’t leach chemicals into the contents like plastic potentially can, but the reality is that if glass isn’t recycled it actually lasts longer (maybe forever) than the 500-1000 years that plastic particles do. But that’s another story too. Branch Basics is currently working on making glass bottles available so I’m super excited for that. For now, I am just happy to have found something that is totally safe to use around my whole family. I will say that their current spray bottles and foaming wash bottle are extremely effective at giving you just the right amount with each spray or pump. I tried using a glass bottle with a pour spout that I already had in my home but it caused me to waste way more liquid than I actually needed. It’s always great to try to reuse things we already have but I’m super happy with the functionality of the bottles that BB provides. I’ve even purchased several more foaming wash bottles so I can have hand wash at each sink, just out of convenience.

Is There A Trial Size?

If you want to give Branch Basics a try I’ve got a $10 off coupon code you can use at checkout. It’s applied automatically if you use my referral link: http://branchbasics.refr.cc/wherethecoconutsgrow

It also gives me $10 off too, and I definitely plan on buying more, although it will be a long time before I run out of concentrate! I think you can use it for subsequent purchases too, not just one time – but i’m not positive about this. Let me know if you try it a second time!

(They currently don’t list US Virgin Islands as an option for shipping on their website at checkout but their customer service team rocks!! They quickly answered all the questions I had and manually placed my order over the phone so that I could get my order shipped to me in in St Thomas USVI. It arrived super fast and without any hiccups.)

For the cheapest way to try this stuff out, I recommend getting the $5 Trial kit which comes with a travel size 2 fl.oz. concentrate and a large All Purpose spray bottle. My coupon won’t work for the Trial Kit but it’s a great way to try it out if you don’t want to spend much, and you would just pay a couple bucks for shipping. What I did instead was I bought the $20 Travel Kit (-$10 from the referral code I used, equals a total of $10 plus shipping) and that way I was able to test out the Foaming Wash bottle too. It comes with the mini concentrate and a prefilled All Purpose and a prefilled Foaming Wash. Now I have a mini All Purpose and a mini Foaming Wash – both under TSA limits for carryon liquids and I can take them with me on my next plane ride!

I will point out that the prefilled All Purpose and Foaming Wash that I received had a slightly different formulation that also had soapberry in it. The company informed me that it was hard to source and expensive so they recently eliminated it with no significant effect on the product at all. I actually like the concentrate better without it. It was slightly drying feeling in my opinion. They might still have a few of these left but these prefilled bottles and older labels are almost phased out – they are still fulfilling orders with them because there’s nothing bad about the ingredient and it’s better than wasting product and plastic bottles and preprinted labels. Just something to be aware of (and not worry about) if you do order this kit.

If you do give it a try, I’d love to know what you think!


PS if you’re curious what other awesome things I found on my way down the rabbit hole, stay tuned!!!