12 Product Finds & Reviews for January

by Gena on January 18, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 4.11.24 PM A while (like, two months) ago, I mentioned that I’d soon be sharing a monthly round up of 12 finds–products, beverages, foods, or even recipes–that have caught my attention lately. I was at first thinking of combining it with weekend reading, but since that series is pretty jam packed as it is, I’ve opted to do a monthly roundup on its own. Here’s my first, for January, featuring vegan goodies and products I’ve been introduced to in the last couple of months.

Most of these products were shared with me by their companies and makers, but the opinions I share are my own, and they’re honest.

Dastony nut butter

1. Dastony nut butters.

Recommended to me by Rebecca, these nut butters are 100% raw, stone ground, prepared in small batches, chemical free, and vegan. They’re made with a variety of nuts and seeds, including:

The folks at Dastony kindly offered me a sampling of their favorites: sprouted almond butter, coconut butter, sesame seed butter, pumpkin butter, and cashew butter. Not surprisingly, given how they’re prepared, the butters taste very pure: no salt, no sugar, no fuss. The bitterness of the nuts is sometimes slightly detectable (I could taste it in the pumpkin seed butter), and to some extent I missed the distinctive flavor of nut butters that have been either roasted or lightly salted. That said, I enjoyed tasting subtle differences between each of the nuts. Of the bunch, I liked the raw cashew and sesame butter best: their consistency was almost buttery, and the flavors were distinct, yet understated. The coconut butter is also pure heaven, though of course it’s hard for coconut butter to be anything but.

Dastony nut butters can be found via RawGuru. The main downside of the product is that they are quite expensive ($15.86 for 16 ounces of almond butter, and $59.95 for a four pack). What you’re paying for is very rarefied taste and the assurance that the nut butters are organic and raw, but I’m not honestly sure I would purchase these regularly on my own because of the price point, especially since it’s possible to make raw almond butter at home–albeit with less elegant results. That said, these nut butters were very different from what I’m used to, and I was grateful to have tried them.

ellovi

2. Ellovi Body Butter.

Speaking of butters, a different kind of butter: body butter from Ellovi. Kelly Winterhalter, the co-founder of Ellovi, reached out and offered me a sample of her luscious, simple body butter. I’d seen this on VeganCuts and been interested, so I was excited to test it out for myself. It’s an intensely hydrating body moisturizer made from macadamia nut, coconut, marula nut, hemp seed, and shea. There are no synthetic ingredients, preservatives, parabens, or other secret ingredients, and it is of course 100% vegan and cruelty free.

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If you’re accustomed to conventional lotions, this may feel a bit rich and thick at first, but I love it. So pure, so simple. It’s like using coconut oil for moisture, but without the potential messiness! It’s fragrance free, with a very slight hint of coconut. You can check out Ellovi products on the company website ($26.00; free shipping) or you can check them out on VeganCuts. Once again, I’m not sure how often I’d invest in the lotion, since it’s primarily reminiscent of coconut oil (which can be had a bit more cheaply). But I did really like the texture, and the scent isn’t quite so strong as using coconut oil straight from the jar (in which case one sometimes smells like a coconut for the next few hours).

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3. Chickpea snacks from The Good Bean.

I first tasted these delicious, crispy toasted chickpeas via my VeganCuts snack box. I fell in love with them, so I was delighted when the company reached out and sent me an array of their flavors. The Good Bean launched in September 2010 with a line of first-to-market all natural chickpea snacks in four flavors. They’re gluten-free, nut-free, high protein, high fiber, and low fat, and they’re a perfect alternative to chips, pretzels, and other, less nutritious snack options.

I got to sample seven flavors: Thai coconut lemongrass, mesquite, chocolate (!!), cracked pepper, smoky chili & lime, sweet cinnamon, and sea salt. Not at all surprisingly, the chocolate and sea salt were my favorites, but the coconut lemongrass and sweet cinnamon came in second–both are delicious. The snacks are super duper crunchy, equally good tossed into salads or eaten on their own. You can find nutrition information and ingredients here, and shop for the snacks here (6 bags for $25.00; free shipping over $35.00). Two thumbs up.

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4. Winter teas from Traditional Medicinals.

I’ve been obsessed with “throat coat” this winter — I even included it in my holiday gift guide! It’s a sweet, soothing blend of marshmallow and licorice. The folks at Traditional Medicinals also sent me Echinacea Plus (mint, citrus and echinacea) and Gypsy Cold Care (Elder, yarrow and peppermint). I like all of the flavors, though Throat Coat is still my favorite. I’ve liked this brand of tea for as long as I can remember, and it was a treat to get a cold weather sampler pack from them.

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5. Sjaak’s Organic Vegan Chocolates.

This adorable box of vegan chocolates was a holiday gift to me from Valerie. Though I enjoy abundant amounts of dark chocolate on the reg, I haven’t seen too many vegan chocolates that replicate the experience of a good, old fashioned box of chocolates, with all of their various and surprising fillings. I was excited about this one, especially since my mom, whom I was on my way home to spend Christmas with, loves chocolate but simply can’t get into the 70% stuff.

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As it turns out, I forgot the chocolates here in DC, so I sadly didn’t have a chance to enjoy them with my mother over the holiday. But I’ve saved them, and will be bringing them to her on my next trip back. They look fantastic, and the flavors are great (amandine, macadamia caramel, coconut caramel, soft chocolate caramel, and more). I love the idea of a vegan chocolate set that has a traditional feel. And the aesthetics are lovely:

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I have no doubt that they’ll taste every bit as good as they look. Box assortments can be purchased through the Sjaak website. Many box sets, including the Christmas box (which is now discontinued for the season, but will return next year) are only $9.95.

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6. The Glasstic Water Bottle.

When the folks at Glasstic reached out and offered me one of their shatterproof glass water bottles, I was originally hesitant; my experience with glass bottles has been that they’re impossibly heavy. While this bottle is heavier than the Camelbak I usually carry around, it’s also pretty, and really well designed. I love the lock feature on the lid (as someone who has had many accidents with bottles spilling into backpacks and purses, I need it).

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I also like that the flip lid folds down to help stabilize the bottle when it’s lying on a surface.

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Glasstic has a glass inner layer and a BPA-free plastic outer layer (hence the shatterproof quality). It doesn’t hold as much water as my Nalgene or my Camelbak, but I do like the design and use it often when I’m home (I’m not sure it would be the most portable option). It retails for $19.99, and more info can be found on the Glasstic site.

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7. WildWay Granola.

I was offered the chance to taste and review some apple spice granola from WildWay, a company that hand crafts raw, vegan granolas in small batches. The signature product is gluten & grain free, raw, vegan, and sweetener-free. The ingredients are dates, apples, walnuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. Simple, and very tasty.

While I enjoyed the granola very much, I have to confess that it tasted more like a crumbled Larabar or snack bar than a granola (probably because it doesn’t have that characteristic toasted, crunchy texture). And since I make a lot of granola, both raw and cooked, at home, I’d likely not purchase this product regularly (it retails for $10.00 on the WildWay site). But I did enjoy the flavor very much, and I appreciate the company’s passion and honest mission.

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8. Freshly Ground Ceylon Cinnamon Powder from Flavor of the Earth.

I was offered a taste of this cinnamon when the Flavor of the Earth company noted how often cinnamon appears in my recipes, and reached out accordingly! Cinnamon is indeed one of my favorite spices, in recipes both savory and sweet, so of course I was excited to try a new brand.

Flavor of the Earth imports Ceylon Cinnamon in small batches from Sri Lanka.  It has an amazing flavor and aroma (richer than what I’m used to). It’s sold exclusively via Amazon and features trace amounts of Manganese, Fiber, Calcium and Iron.  It’s also salt free and no chemicals, pesticides, fertilizer, additives or preservatives are used in growing or harvesting it. I’ve been using it and loving it in smoothies, hot cereal, soups, and more. You can check it out here (I tried a smaller size, but it retails right now at $28.21 for a pound).

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9. Terrasoul Organics Raw Cacao Powder.

Terrasoul cacao was an Amazon find of my own. I ordered it because it happened to be the best deal that day, but I’m glad I did, because I now love it. It’s as rich and intense as any cacao powder I’ve tried, and at $12.49 for 16 ounces, it seemed to be a good deal; a small amount goes a long way. I used it in my holiday cacao mix:

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Sadly, Terrasoul cacao is currently out of stock on Amazon and on the company website, but I did want to put the brand on readers’ radars, because I think it’s cool. They apparantly make other superfoods, which I haven’t tried, but I’m curious now. You can check out the company website here or the Amazon selection here.

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10. The Daily Good from Aloha.

The Daily Good is a new greens powder from the brand Aloha. It is contains spinach, spirulina, wild blueberries and coconut water, as well as peas, enoki mushrooms, lemon, and a little ginger. It’s getting quite a bit of attention, and the brand has a panel of wellness experts and integrative MDs as endorsers. It retails at $75.00 for a 30-pack, and you can order a free trial online if you’re curious.

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I have to admit that green juice powders aren’t really my thing. The powders I’d prefer to invest in are usually protein powders or smoothie infusions, especially since I don’t really struggle to get greens into my diet through food. As far as green juice powders go, The Daily Good tastes very mellow (not too spirulina-ish, though I do wish the lemon and ginger were more detectable, and that it were a tad sweeter), and the product is clearly crafted with good quality in mind. The marketing and packaging are very smart. The cost is significant, but of course, if you look at it like a green juice replacement, $2.50 per juice is quite a bit less than purchasing a store bought juice.

The thing is, for me, what makes green juice worth the cost as an occasional treat (and what makes juicing at home worth it) is the freshness and sweetness and taste. Of course one drinks green juice with nutrients in mind, but it’s also a pleasant and flavorful experience. I just don’t get that pleasure from a powdered brand, no matter how much I appreciate the effort to pack greens into a convenient, portable size. And I’m not persuaded by the claims that the drink is “detoxifying.”

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I do think that a product like this serves a good purpose for travel, and I’d certainly consider it if I were to be traveling for a long stretch of time. But for everyday use, I’m probably not the target consumer.

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11. Lover Raw Chocolate.

I was recently gifted with a tin of chocolate hearts from the folks at Lover raw chocolate, a UK brand that has recently relocated to the LA area. The chocolates are gluten free, vegan, raw, low glycemic, and contain a hint of maca. The maca is subtle enough that I didn’t detect it (not a bad thing, as I find some maca chocolate to be very overwhelming). They’re sweet, but not too sweet, and overall I really loved them (and still do — I’ve got a couple left, which I’m saving carefully!).

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Gift tins can be purchased on the Lover Raw Chocolate website; each contains ten chocolate hearts, and retails for $15.00.

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12. Nouri Bars.

I mentioned Nouri bars already, in my holiday gift guide, but I think they deserve another shout out. Nouri was founded by Jared and Veneka, DC locals with a passion for healthy, simple, plant based food and a strong sense of social justice. The bars are organic, raw, vegan, and crafted only with nuts and dried fruit. Though they’re made locally in the DC area, for each bar you purchase, the folks at Nouri supply a wholesome meal to a child in school in a third world country (so they’re sort of like the Toms of snack bars). They do so by working with local food growers and farmers.

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In particular, Nouri works with Stepping Stones International (SSI) in Botswana, to provide meals to 100 orphan school children, with a goal of reaching 1 million children by 2014. SSI is the first program of its kind in Botswana that uses a holistic approach by nurturing the mental, physical and emotional well-being of youth and create opportunities for them to become self-sufficient. Together with Stepping Stones International, they have provided over 20,000 meals to schoolchildren who are hungry for knowledge.

The bars come in three flavors: apple cinnamon spice, peanut butter and wild cherry, and chocolate and creamy cashew. Can you guess which my favorite was? The chocolate, obvi! But I really loved the combination of cherry and peanut butter, too. The bars are similar in texture and nutritional profile to other raw fruit/nut bars, but I love that the folks at Nouri combine the bars with a mission to benefit kids around the world. They are of course more expensive than a typical snack bar ($36.00 for 12, $3.00 per bar), but when you purchase these bars you consider them a donation as well as a snack. More can be learned about Nouri through their website. Right now, they’re mostly in and around the DC area, but hopefully they’ll be expanding soon, and you can also order online.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these little product snapshots. Have any other readers tried and enjoyed (or not enjoyed) these same brands? I’d be curious to hear your impressions. I hope that you’re all enjoying a great weekend so far, and I’ll be back tomorrow with weekend reading.

xo

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea @ Vibrant Wellness Journal January 18, 2014 at 3:31 pm

What a great list! I keep seeing Terrasoul on Instagram and really want to try their stuff too. But those nut butters- new to me! Can’t wait to try. And I for one would love to see lists like this more often; I know it’s a lot of work to compile these but it’s super interesting, and since Hawaii is a bit behind the curve on these things, it’s nice to see what’s happening in the world of vegan foods! xo, Andrea

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm

So happy you like the post, Andrea — it’ll be a regular feature for sure! I’m getting positive responses.

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Emily January 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

just thought i should let you know that some of the dastony nut butters are on sale at abes market! and there’s free shipping if you spend $50. here’s a link: https://www.abesmarket.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=5&order=relevance&dir=desc&q=dastony&search-button=

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Great tip! Thanks Emily.

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Emma January 18, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Way to make a girl jealous ;)
These companies need to make their way across the Atlantic to us here in the UK!
That Ellovi body butter sounds glorious and those Sjaak’s chocolates look incredible.

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Mrs G January 19, 2014 at 6:00 am

You can make the body butter yourself for a fraction of the price. I make mine and I love it.

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Mrs. G, I’d love to see your recipe, if it’s easy to share in comments!

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Mrs G January 20, 2014 at 4:33 am

http://www.rawmazing.com/homemade-body-butter-recipe/

I started with this recipe, but there are many more using different oils. You can even make bronzing body butter
I would recommend to halve the recipe, so in case you don’t like it, you have not wasted too much. And I think that it’s always better to make DIY cosmetics in small batches. There is no water in the recipe, so it should last for a few months but I would hate to make a big batch and discover that it has gone bad. Obviously, all the equipment must be very clean, and you must really pay attention that water must never come into contact with your ingredients.
Last but not least: unrefined shea butter has its own characteristic smell. Not everybody likes it.

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Gena January 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thank you!

Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Aw, love! I should send you a care package :)

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hannah January 19, 2014 at 9:29 pm

I’m with Emma on this one, I once did an (expensive!) order from Vitacost and got the Dastony coconut and pumpkin seed butters. I LOVED them, they were sooo smooth and I like the slight savouriness of the pumpkinseed butter, especially spread on a nice sweet banana. I too wish I could try some of these other things! We should all do international penpals!
xx

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Jenni January 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I love that you’re doing this! As a major health junk nerd, new products always get me super excited. (Which is why I have no money.) I think out of everything, I really want to try that tin of chocolate hearts. I’ve actually grown to LOVE the taste of maca, and ever since I started eating raw chocolate, I haven’t wanted any other kind.

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Maybe, maybe one day I’ll become a maca person. I’m trying.

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Alex @ Kenzie Life January 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I love seeing different products like this! I particularly like the glass water bottle, but agree about them being too heavy, especially when you’re a student and have books and a laptop to carry around, but I also know that if I like a water bottle’s design, I’m far more likely to use it and stay hydrated! The body butter also looks awesome!

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Kari @ bite-sized thoughts January 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm

There are so many gorgeous products here! Those vegan chocolates and the nut butters look incredibly appealing :)

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:12 pm

The chocolates rock :-)

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Heather @ The Soulful Spoon January 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm

I always hearing what you enjoy Gena, thanks! I’ve been wondering about the Dastony nut butters, but can’t afford them. Luckily, I just bought some unpasteurized, raw, organic almonds from Sunfood for $12 a pound and made my own in my Blendtec in about 15 seconds, making it a bit more frugal. However, as an avid coconut butter LOVER, the Dastony brand is on my list to try. Though I suppose I need to go through the 3 jars of Artisana first:)

I love Traditional Medicine teas too. Their “Everyday Detox with Lemon” is one of my favorites. Thanks again for your thoughts and opinions!!:)

By the way, I just bought, raw organic, and wildcrafted cacao on Amazon for $12 by the Healthworks brand too, and I think it’s the best I ever had. It’s much fresher and less bitter tasting than other brands I’ve had so check it out if you get chance:) I’ll have to try the Terrasoul brand you recommended too:)

Have a great Sunday!

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I will have to check out Healthworks, Heather! Great tip.

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Kes January 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

I doubt whether I would known about many of these products especially the vegan chocolate without your list. Thank you.

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Great! That’s my goal with these posts :-)

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Heather January 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Great post and helpful information. I’ve been having trouble with peanuts lately and was looking for an alternative. The Good Bean looks tasty and I found that a local shop carries them here in my area of Ontario. Thanks.

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Cool! I loved all of the snacks, and recommend them for sure.

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Julie January 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

These are great finds Gena. Thanks for sharing.

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Aw, you’re welcome Julie. Enjoy.

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Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge) January 19, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for sharing! I always love hearing about new vegan finds. The glass water bottle looks interesting! I love the lock feature as I have spilled so many bottles into my purse. I think i’ve ruined 2 phones, 2 ipods and 1 camera! Whoops! I definitely need a lock top- love this!

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Gena January 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I’m a big fan! Worth checking Glasstic out for sure.

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lymieeatingcoconut January 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

All that chocolate looks so good!

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Gena January 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

You’d love it!

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Valerie January 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm

So glad you enjoyed the Sjaak’s – I love my 80% dark chocolate, but there is something about an old-fashioned box of chocolates with that milk chocolate feel (minus the dairy) that is really lovely too :)

I love the Good Bean. Also a big fan of a similar chickpea product from Biena, which I discovered while looking at Cibo Express in Chicago :)

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Gena January 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I do enjoy them, though saving them to share with my mom is proving to be rather challenging ;-)

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Ttrockwood January 21, 2014 at 1:32 am

I have loved the traditional medicinals throat coat for years! It is the best- it really is soothing when sick. But it tastes so good i just drink it all the time!

I also love the good bean chickpeas – my own roasted chickpeas never get the same crunch as theirs…..

The Aloha greens sound crazy expensive…..! I buy amazing grass (tangerine flavor) which is an organic greens supplement with a hint of orange flavor, great to bring with me traveling- its near impossible to find green juice in italy!

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Gena January 23, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I have actually never tried Amazing Grass. I have to check it out!

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Ttrockwood January 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm
wendy r. January 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Love the list and links – what a fun way to explore new products and hear from someone who has tried them before taking the proverbial leap. Thanks for including local goods as well!

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Gena January 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm

You’re so welcome! I love connecting with DC companies :)

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Amber Lee January 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Great list Gena! I am definitely doing some online shopping soon…

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