Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tasty Free From Treats at the Supermarket

Tesco Lifestyle Fair Vegan

In recent months, I have been more excited by launches in the Free From food market rather than skincare. Some of the products which I buy from independent stores have launched into the major supermarkets, for instance, Pudology in Tesco and Rebel Kitchen in Waitrose.

I have been loving the Tesco Lifestyle Fair and my most recent purchases are pictured above. Earth Balance Cheddar (Vegan) popcorn is a bit of a life changer as mainstream popcorn (aside from salty) often contains milk. I freaking love the PB Pops (peanut butter popcorn), dangerous stuff, you can't stop shoveling these into your mouth once the packet is opened. Udi's is hit or miss when it comes to dairy and egg free products, their focus is gluten free. I'm sorry to say the cereal bars are a big let down for me. They break apart in your hand and are not a satisfying texture in my mouth. I was hoping for something similar to a Harvest Cheweee. The Amisa mayonnaise is, how should I word this, interesting? The consistency is reminiscent of the real deal but I'm not too sure about the taste. It's not horrid just different to what I am used to. I normally buy Tiger Tiger Garlic May-O from Sainsbury's.

Free From Food available at Tesco
Several Enjoy Life Rice Milk Crunch chocolate bars have found their way into my trolley each week. I don't think it would ever replace my Humdinger buttons but certainly makes a nice change. I think it has a good "milky" flavour which can be hard to find as often dairy free chocolate fails to satisfy my taste buds. 

Curiosity got the better of me with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Mocha and Cappuccino drinks. I am not a coffee drinker and until recently would not let it pass my lips but for some strange reason I'll happily drink Vivesoy Cappuccino. Sadly, I did not like either Blue Diamond Iced Coffee. I found them watery and I couldn't handle the after taste. In comparison, I find Vivesoy creamy and the coffee taste is subtle. Another fail on my taste buds are Oko Bay coconut water ice lolly. Weirdest flavour I have ever tasted and in the future I will stick to Smooze. Meridian bars also fell short for me and I haven't repurchased.

I am still sitting on the fence when it comes to Co Yo (now available at Tesco) and The Coconut Collaborative (Waitrose). I am not sure they are suited to my taste buds after many years of eating Alpro yoghurts. I enjoy a couple of spoonfuls but then feel they are too rich for my stomach.

It's a huge step in my eyes to find all these products in supermarkets. The problem is now I face a huge sense of guilt for not shopping at my independent organic store. The difference is I am not making a 34 mile round trip car journey.

Have any of you tried the products I have mentioned? Whilst we are on the topic of free from food, check out my guest post for Bodhi Luxe featuring my favourite luxury treats (click here).

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Disclaimer - The Coconut Collaborative yoghurts were sent to me, everything else featured here was bought by me. No affiliated links.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Green People Sun Lotion SPF 25 (scent free)

Green People Sun Lotion SPF 25 (scent free)

I am often asked for sunscreen recommendations but it’s a difficult one for me because I react to natural and "chemical" based brands. I face an uphill battle every summer because the one brand that does not irritate my skin is full of ingredients I advocate avoiding. I face a moral dilemma between the need to protect against sun damage and the desire to rid myself of manmade toxic ingredients. In the past I used Lavera, last year I trialled Badger but for my trip to Lisbon I took with me Green People Sun Lotion SPF 25 which is scent free (50ml is a travel size). 

Green People are a reliable brand for anyone with sensitivities or if you wish to cut out certain ingredients. This sun lotion is free from parabens, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), lanolin, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, phthalates, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals and colourants (vegetarian approved but not suitable for vegans as contains beeswax). It offers natural broad-spectrum UVA & UVB protection. 

I have found over the years that formulations of natural sunscreen are improving. In the past, I found some were very heavy and definitely caused me heat rash. I trialled Green People on my d├ęcolletage because it’s the one area of my body which instantly react to products and always catches the sun (the joy of having ample lady lumps!). I was comfortable with the formulation; it didn’t feel sticky or heavy. I was able to rub into my skin quickly and I did not notice a whiteness which is often associated with natural sunscreen. That being said Mr Sugarpuffish used on his face a couple of times and I noticed he was looking a bit grey! He had not shave whilst we were on holiday and the sun lotion was not disappearing into his skin in quite the same way it had done for mine. 

Overall, I think Green People Sun Lotion is a good product in comparison to other I have tried. I would consider purchasing for my next holiday but I think Mr Sugarpuffish would need to use a different sun lotion. Unfortunately, I think mineral sunscreen and hairy men are not always compatible.

Have you tried Green People Sun Lotion? Do you like it?

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Disclaimer - PR Sample, my own opinions, no affiliated links

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bloggers How To Defend Against Content Scrapers

example of content theft from sugarpuffish blog

The problem with blogging is no one gives you a handbook when you create your blog. Even after three years I am still learning the ropes. I wanted to share a problem I discovered and had not seen discussed in the community. I figured if I don't know then there is a good chance others are in the same boat.

Every now and again, I have a quick Google search for my blog and glance over how I am ranking on pages. Last week I noticed two URLs that were cause for concern (pictured above). My posts are appearing on another site, which in turn will draw traffic away from my blog. This makes for one very grumpy Sarah! I spent over an hour researching how I could get the site reported and in doing so uncovered the term "Scraped Content". People who "Scrape" content use automated software that takes blog content from your RSS feed and posts it to their site like it is a new post. 

There is not much you can do to prevent scraping but there are steps which could limit the damage it causes. These are tips I have collected from reading other articles.

I found this option tricky because the website that has taken my content provides no information. You can use Whois Lookup to find the domain registrar/web host and get in contact with them.

Report to Google
Firstly, submit a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice to Google (click here). By submitting this form you are letting Google know the breach of copyright and asking for the website to be removed. A DMCA notice is the official route but I also uncovered this form (click here) allowing you to report the scraper site. I understand this will not get content removed but allows Google to gather information and we can only hope that it aids prevention of scraping in the future.

RSS Feed
There are two options available when it comes to your RSS Feed, either shorten the post or add a footer (you can’t do both). In your Dashboard (pictured below) change “Allow Blog Feed" from FULL to SHORT then only the first 400 characters of your blog post are visible, making it less attractive to a content thief. It shouldn't put off regular readers because they can still click through to the post and read it in full. The alternative is to add a footer which includes a link to your blog and/or social media. Use this code <hr /> <a href="http://www.myblog.com">My Blog Name</a>

You can see from my screen shot I added a short copyright message. Remember your message will be visible to genuine readers of your RSS Feed so keep it polite. The idea behind adding the RSS footer is it will be seen on the scraper site so readers are aware content has been stolen.

Submit URL to Google
I stumbled across an article about submitting your post URL to Google as soon as you publish. This may help your post index quicker than the scraper website. It's all to do with the way Googlebots crawl the internet. This post explains how to submit your URL click here and this video from Google is also worth viewing click here.

Set up Google Authorship
I still haven't got my head around this one because it involves Google+ and linking it to your blog. There are plenty of tutorials out there. I understand that Authorship doesn't prevent theft but it helps build credibility and allows Google to identify your content as original.

Google Alerts
A number of sites suggest using Google Alerts (click here) to find copied content. The suggestion is to set up an alert using keywords or your blog title or a paragraph from your post. You then decide what types of website to search and how often you want a report. For those that publish to their blog regularly, I envisage that your inbox would soon be overflowing so you may not like this method in the long run.

Watermark Images
This is debatable whether it is worth your efforts. I'm not a fan of watermarking because photographs can easily be cropped and marks removed. However, I imagine when it comes to scraping it could be favourable if content is automatically stolen and not edited.

I hope this blog post has been helpful. We may not be able to stamp out scraping but at least use it to your advantage. If you have a blog on Wordpress it looks like you have some plug in options, I suggest researching as I'm only familiar with Blogger. Have you experienced content theft? How did you deal with it? 

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Monday, 21 July 2014

My Holy Grail Products (Video)

I had a request to film a video about my Holy Grail products/brands. I planned to do this eventually to coincide with my Natural Blogger Holy Grail Series (so far there are eight posts). I have a long list of products I repeat purchase and you may recognise them if you are reading my blog on a regular basis.

Here are the products mentioned in my video. I split them into catergories and linked my reviews.
  • Hair - Giovanni Flat Iron Styling Mist, Desert Essence Red Raspberry Conditioner, Odylique by Essential Care Gentle Herb Shampoo 
  • Face - *Odylique Superfruit Serum, Blue Labelle Cleansing Oil for Dry/Sensitive Skin
  • For Eczema - *Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream, Suvana Paw Paw & Honey Balm, Balmology Comfort Balm
  • Everyday - Fresh Therapies Nail Polish Remover, Dr Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap, Everyday Minerals Semi Matte foundation (colour Rosy Beige 3C)

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Disclaimer - products marked * are PR samples but I have every intention to repurchase when I use them up