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July Goals

July begins.  There is just so much stuff to do around here event wise.  June is busy, but then everything starts getting crammed into July and August, probably because graduation was last week and now kids are out of school.  If the rain stops tonight, we hope to get to a Zydeco concert at the lake tonight.

Anyway, these are the things I want to work on this month:

1.  Making some needed doctor appointments.  Time to catch up on all the appointments that I have been putting off, particularly the dentist.

2. Read more.  I have a pile of books on my Kindle, and a couple hardcover, that I need to read. I tend to play a game on my Kindle to put me to sleep, but I really need to quit that and read more.

3. Scope out a volunteer position.  Now that things are more settled around here, I need to find a place to volunteer. That was one of my 2015 yearly goals. 

4. Try some new vegetable dishes.  I am almost embarrassed posting food pictures with so much broccoli. I do use my spiralizer for zucchini and potatoes and need to use it more, among other recipes.

Okay, that sounds good enough.  My standing goal for eating for weight loss is still in place since March, so no need to list that.

June Wrap Up!

The last day of June!  I can’t believe 2015 is halfway over already. I actually heard the first katydids buzzing the other day, which seems kind of early. Especially since the weather has felt more like late spring than mid summer.

My goals for June were pretty simple. The best goal, which wasn’t really a goal, but it happened, was finally closing on the old house.  It has felt so great to have everything all done! Now being in Radiance Manor feels permanent. In fact, I finally roasted coffee for the first time since we moved in last fall, too  Now it feels like home :D

We got the new shed put up and that has been great.  Also not a goal, but it needed to be done.

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I also plodded along with this year’s weight loss.

Anyway, here were the actual goals I set out to do:

1. Trying new recipes. I made 2 new recipes this month. That was less than I had hoped to do, but at least it was something different.  I did the lemon ricotta pancakes and a vegetarian casserole.  Sometimes I forget that one recipe will be several days’ worth of meals, too, since there are just usually just 2 of us eating.

2. Finish my trunk. Not quite finished. It’s almost done.  The outside just needs the handles reattached.

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The inside still has a musty smell to it, even though the paper liner is gone and it is down to bare wood. The trunk is in the garage right now in the hopes to let it sit in the sun for a good UV ray bath, but with all the rainy weather lately I haven’t been able to do that. I can’t line the trunk until I get it smelling fresher.

3. Get away weekend. Finally! We went to Vermont for an overnight trip my birthday weekend and it was so good to get away. My first overnight trip in a year, can you believe it?  I need to take a staycation or something this summer as well. I have been working too hard.

4. Ride 47 miles for my 47th birthday. Yep, did that. It was a lot of riding. I am going to have to think about converting to kilometers instead of miles, though. :D

Not perfectly completed goals, but progress. June just felt like a good month overall.  I think most of that is due to the closing on the house, but whatever – I’ll take it!

Hill riding

Wet weather was looming for the weekend, but seemed like it would hold off until the afternoon, so John and I decided to bike to lunch for our Saturday ride.  We ended up going to Warrensburg, which is past Lake George and would be around a 30 mile trip total. 

 

The sun was peeking out in the morning, but it wasn’t all that hot out.  I was saying to John that some people view the beach as their nirvana, but this is the view I love to look at.

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We stopped in Lake George for a quick snack.

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It was really crowded. There were 2 different festivals going on, one a craft show and the other a food and wine festival.  The main street is terrible to bike on.  Not bike friendly at all.  In fact, the village isn’t bike friendly. There is a great path leading to the village, but once there not so good.

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As soon as we got out of town, we pretty much had the road to ourselves. We haven’t been to Warrensburg in a few years and had forgotten what a climb it was to get there from Lake George. Relentless climbing and climbing.  Tough, but a great workout!  This road had a really nice wide shoulder and since it skirts under the Thruway without having an entrance, it doesn’t get too busy.

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We took a little respite after it leveled off.  John was suspicious of me taking his picture for some reason :D

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There was a nice downhill ride into town and we were both pretty hungry by that time. It was a little over 15 miles to get there.  We stopped at Willows bistro.

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I had a great sandwich called the Blue Spruce panini, which had cheddar, blue cheese and thinly sliced apple.

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I need to recreate this at home. John had a spinach quiche.  It seemed strange to eat lunch and not be having a cupcake! :D

We checked the weather radar and decided we could walk around town a little bit before riding back.  Not too much going on here, but a few shops.

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ewww…..

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I did buy a couple things. Of course they have to be small to fit in the bike bag!

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Then we had to get back to climbing again. :)   That’s what happens when you head further into the Adirondacks, I guess…  After we got the first climb done, then we sailed down that big climb from on the way there.  Hit a top speed of 29.5 miles per hour!  That is fast (for us) and kinda scary.  No pictures of this section because we didn’t stop and I would never try to use the camera at those speeds.

Through Lake George and back on the path system. Yay!

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The marsh has a lot of water lilies on it now.  When I get my uber camera, I am going to bike here and sit with a telephoto lens and watch the wildlife.

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Home!

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This ride was certainly a workout with the hills. Even my calves were feeling it by the time we got home, which never happens.  We were glad to be able to get a good ride in before rain came, too – bonus!

Good news on those escaped prisoners as well. Both captured this weekend, one alive, one not. They were terribly dangerous men and thankfully that is over. Kudos to law enforcement for being able to find them in the Adirondacks!

What’s Blooming!

My favorite post of the week!  I love to peek out in the garden every day and see what is new. That’s the great thing about gardening. There is always something new and many times something unexpected!

On the annual front, the cosmos are filling out nicely.

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This week the cleome also started sending out side blooms and are getting fuller:

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I just love that color of snapdragon. Whenever you get a mix, you never know what color will come out.  Here is another nice color from the mix:

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Whenever you buy perennials, unless you are buying the big mature pots, many times you often have to wait a year for blooms. It normally takes a year for them to get their feet. Then a small show of blooms the next year and then the third year is when they really take off.  I am always happy to see blooms on a new perennial.

This is Agastache, also called hyssop or hummingbird mint.  This is one I will get more of in hopes of attracting hummingbirds to the yard. It sends out little tubular flowers that the hummingbirds and hummingbird moths love. This one is called Rasberry daquiri:

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Hopefully there will be some interest in this plant.

Around to the back – there is still a lot of work to do. I have this whole section that has become a dumping ground:

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That fence was what had been pulled up from the side of the house and left in a pile. I need to put it on Craigs list for free and get it out of here since we aren’t going to put it back up. I started a compost pile here for now and I also stuck some daylilies here just for fun – and they are blooming. We aren’t totally sure what will be happening here. It is on the left of the patio.

My roses are blooming now.  This is Enchanted Evening and I love the color:

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Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger; you may see a stranger across a crowded room..

Yes, I do sing that a lot. :D

The free rose I got from Jackson and Perkins is also blooming and getting big. I was worried it ended up in too much shade, but it is throwing out blooms.

Belindas dream

I also have some daylilies here. Just a clump. I removed most of them from this bed because I want to save it for my full sun plants. I actually thought I had only a clump of daffodils, but the lilies were mixed in there.

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I will move this clump in the fall.

I received some drumstick aliums last year from a fellow gardener and they will be blooming soon!

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I also wonder if anyone can help me identify these?  They are growing in the shade garden. It’s not Virginia creeper because it isn’t a vine. Each of these comes up as a separate plant.

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I have seen them on the bike path as well, so they are some sort of woodland thing. They don’t flower as far as I know.

Looks like biking might be a bust this weekend, but we are going to try to get out early in the morning tomorrow and get to the lake if the forecast holds off until the afternoon.

Food Round Up

Continuing to make slow progress on the weight loss front, which is good.  Here is the latest round of eats:

I made the ricotta pancakes again since I quite enjoyed them and that has been many breakfasts.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I think I got those out of my system for a while now. :)

I was also starting to get tired of chicken:

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I am back on the ground turkey bandwagon. For a long time, I just stopped eating it. Now I wanted a change from chicken – and gee, ground turkey is so far from that :roll:

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I almost always top my poultry with a wedge of laughing cow and hot sauce. It’s one of those ruts I just enjoy.

I made a vegetarian mexican bean and rice casserole so that John and I could eat the same meal (we cook our own most times unless sharing a dish since he doesn’t eat meat). With spiralized zucchini.

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I eat a lot of eggs as well, but hardly ever for breakfast.  This is a mix of lean sausage with my egg. I don’t even try to make it pretty LOL!

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This was a really good snack. I sauteed a banana in cooking spray with some cinnamon and topped with 1 tablespoon of cashew butter. 

nanner and cashew butter

 

Some of the treats the past couple of weeks would be Wednesday and Sunday bagels,  weekend cupcake (okay, I will show it again)

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Friday night beer:

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I am a big fan of the dark beers. Several local breweries have popped up, so we have decided to check them out for something different.

Also a kid size frozen yogurt with peanut butter sauce.

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Looking at this picture –  it looks so much like a cafeteria scoop of mashed potato and gravy!

Not pictured are the lattes and a bunch of fruit that I eat as snacks.  I am not one of those people who has to have a dessert or chocolate every day. I am just as happy with a bowl of blueberries – or that banana/nut butter combo or my latte.  Now down 8.5 pounds. I will take it.

Tuesday things.

I finished a little project. I bought those 2 chairs when we had that get away in Vermont – one I had designs on for the garden.

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I had no interest in recaning the seat, so I had no problem paying $2 for this chair :D  I picked up some paint for the outdoors:

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The color is lilac. It kind of looks more blue in the pictures for some reason. Anyway after a few coats of paint, I rummaged around in my pot collection and found the perfect one to fit in the seat hole. That was a score! Then I headed to the nursery and picked up some sale annuals – one spike and 3 wave petunias and now I have a cute chair!

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I have moved it around a few times. I kind of want it closer to the house than the back bed, but it should be in the sun.

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I love when projects turn out and when they are low budget  :mrgreen: 

I tried another recipe for a Tex-Mex rice and bean casserole.  I used light sour cream, though, as I never use fat free.

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This was good and we usually have most of the ingredients on hand, so it’s nice to whip something up quick.

I have my very first ever foxglove bloom! This plant is courtesy of Debby and it has a baby bloom.

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I couldn’t wait until Friday to show it.  We have been getting a lot of rain followed by sun, so things are popping out in the garden all over the place.  It has been really humid, though.  I was soaked after a 50-minute  ride today:

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I am just not a fan of the humidity. I don’t like the extreme dry of winter or really humid days.  I am like the princess and the pea. All this humidity is supposed to bring in severe weather tonight.

At least the house stays nice and cool downstairs. Cement and brick walls do a good job regulating temps.  Pixie is loving the house.

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See how much she loves the purple suede chair? We keep one of those lint brushes in the table by the chair because of her hair. It’s going to be great when I finish the other chair to be the same…from the project pile that never seems to get smaller.

A shed and 49 miles!

We have shed!  Once John got the base built (2 xs and plywood), it was time to assemble the shed. It really didn’t take that long, surprisingly. It’s a Rubbermaid shed made of vinyl and snaps together, and then several hundred screws. :roll:  We put the walls up Friday evening:

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Then finished it Saturday morning.

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This went together surprisingly fast. It doesn’t look level in the picture, but the ground slopes, so it actually is level :D  We had to dig out around the base to level it.

Now we are starting to fill it with stuff! We are going to put in some shelving and pegboard for hanging as well.

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Happy, happy!  Then comes the reward of riding for a cupcake!  We left right after lunch.  The plan was to go our old River road route to Saratoga..  John said he thought it would be just a little bit longer than where  we leave from now (20 miles). Mistake 1 was not checking that for sure…

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This is a beautiful road for scenery. The temps were in the mid to upper 70s, which was nice, but the winds were brutal on the way down. Head wind all the way.  I felt a little tired right from the get go. Ever have those days where you start exercising and just know right away it isn’t going to be your best?

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Farm country.  We stopped at the very top after a climbing for a snack.  This is where we realized it was going to be a longer ride than expected. Where we would normally be  mile wise at this point was quite a bit farther.

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No choice but to keep going!

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We took another stretch break here, which was around mile 19.

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We were planning the trip down to be around 21 miles or so, but when we were here, we knew it was another 7 miles to go! I was starting to get cranky with the wind and an unexpected extra 40 minutes to the ride down.

Finally!  28 miles later and we got to Saratoga.  Good thing it wasn’t a super hot day. That was the saving grace on not bonking. We both ran out of water. I had coconut water as well, but I had frozen it the night before and it was still rock solid LOL! 

I was sooooo ready for my cuppie.  This is a vanilla sundae cupcake. With a chocolate fudge filling.

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Plus the biggest iced coffee they had, which I sucked down :D

The good thing was that headwind on the way down meant a great tailwind on the way home!  We went home our usual way. With the tailwind, it was like dropping an instant 10 pounds!

Not many pictures on the way home. It was later in the day and we just booked our way home.  Stopping around mile 38 for some now thawed refreshment:

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I was feeling a lot happier with cupcake energy and a tail wind

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Boom:

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I was almost tempted to ride around for another half mile, but we were pretty tired by this point.    Longest ride of the year to date!  I am at about mile 830 on the year now.

Ride stats:

Total miles: 49.4

Saddle time:  3 hours 42 minutes

Average speed: 13.2 mph

Top speed:  25.4 mph

Calories burned: 1730

That was quite the ride! Note to self: Always double check the mileage for a new route :D It’s amazing how much easier the ride home was. Wind makes such a difference.

 

What’s Blooming!

I have blooms this week. Yay!  But first, work on our shed.  We really need a shed for all the outdoor stuff. Our garage is too small for anything more than the car and our bikes (and it is a tight squeeze for that). So, we need storage space outside for garden and maintenance stuff. Right now the lawnmower sits on the covered stoop outside the back door!  We decided after we sold the house that we would buy a shed. We got a 7 x 7 foot shed at Lowe’s and had it delivered. Now we need to assemble it. Eeek!

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It’s going to go over on the right side by the fence.

Here is the disaster area in the back:

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We also have a lot of brush from cutting everything down.  We put a lot out at the curb during the city pickup, but there wasn’t enough room for all of it, so we will be using it in our firepit as it  dries out.

I started moving the extra mulch to the back. I wasn’t going to mulch this bed while I am still working on it, but the weeds are driving me insane! I can’t keep up with it.  It looks better, actually.

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My 100-pound rose bush made it through the move and a really tough winter:

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This makes me really happy.

The lupine have established themselves and are growing. I don’t think they will bloom this year, though. I love the look of the leaves.

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My annuals in front are really starting to grow now:

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The cleome are getting taller. This will get bushier with more time.

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I like these flowers. I never really had the room to grow them. Now I have all the room :D

cleome

More snapdragons.

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It’s funny that these can flop over in heavy rain and then they just start growing up from the ground. I staked this one back up after it was on the ground for a couple days and you can see the funny curve in it :D

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Now for my new purchase. With one of my gift cards, I got a David Austin English rose.  They are shrub roses that are blends of old fashioned roses and newer varieties. I pretty much only grow shrub roses or floribundas. I don’t want to mess with hybrid teas because they often require spraying and such and are too fussy for me.  Anyway, this is Fair Bianca:

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I wish you could smell it, too. So fragrant!

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I am over the moon about this. I now have 4 rose bushes and 2 climbing roses. Eeeeee!

Slowly, but surely.  Lori’s garden grows ;)

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Other new plants added recently:  Beebalm, Russian Sage, bleeding heart and I sprinkled marigold and teddy bear sunflower seeds, which have sprouted finally.

Saturday is for riding. I think it will be the only good day of the weekend. Happy Father’s Day!

Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

So, I managed to try a new recipe, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes!  

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

There are a lot of recipes online for this, and all are basically a variant of below (like this one).

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour   
  • 1 tsp baking soda   (I made an oops and used baking powder, so I guess either will work)
  • 1/2 tsp  salt   
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk   
  •   2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated   
  • 2 Tbsp sugar   
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest, or increase to taste  
  • 1 Tbsp of lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese   

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites into soft peaks.  I got to use my fancy copper bowl that my in-laws gave me for Christmas to do my egg whites!

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In another large bowl, mix together the buttermilk, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and ricotta cheese.  Stir in the flour mixture until moistened.

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Then fold in the egg whites.

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You don’t want to stir this too much. Just incorporate the egg whites by folding the batter over and over.

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Now heat up a griddle or frying pan on medium heat (you could do this while stirring the batter).  You definitely want medium heat to cook these as if you do it higher, the outside will overcook while the middle will be raw.  It’s a dense batter.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and deposit 1/4 cup of batter into the pan after you have sprayed with cooking spray.

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These will bubble some, but not like regular pancakes do. Just lift the bottom and check for doneness. It took 2-3 minutes on each side for my cakes.  You should get pretty much exactly 12 pancakes out of this batch.

And serve topped however you would like:

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I topped mine with my favorite blueberry topping, which goes really well with lemon anything.

The verdict?  Very, very tasty!  They were definitely heavier than regular pancakes and have more of a velvety texture to them. Two pancakes are surprisingly filling.  These also make good leftovers. I just stored them in the fridge and popped them into the toaster oven to reheat.

Nutrition: Each serving of 2 pancakes (without any topping) has 214 calories, 36 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

Tips:

– If you don’t have buttermilk, just add about 1 tsp of lemon juice to 8 ounces of milk. 

– This recipe makes a fair number of dishes and time to cook all the batter. It’s great to do on a day off because the leftovers are easy to reheat.

– Don’t overwhip the egg whites and make stiff peaks or the batter will be too thick. You can thin it out with some more lemon juice or water.

Product Review: Block Island Organic Sunscreen

I was contacted by Block Island to see if I would do a review of their organic sunscreen product.  I am a firm believer in lots of sun protection, so I was happy to do this.

Block Island is a family-owned USA company that makes a line of organic skin care products from moisturizers to sunscreen. The sunscreen is made with natural mineral sunblockers.  According to their website, there are 2 different types of sunscreens:  Mineral and chemical. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays. A mineral sunscreen prevents the rays from reaching the skin by scattering them (like with zinc or titanium dioxide).  Both types of sunscreen protect against UVA and UVB rays.

You all know I am really pale, so I wear a lot of sunscreen when we go biking (and other times). While it would be ideal to go out with full sleeves and no skin showing for protection, that just isn’t practical in the summer. :D  I wear a high SPF because I will burn in about 10-15 minutes without protection at noon.  With that said, studies have shown that anything over 30 doesn’t give you exponentially better protection, so you are better off with a 30 and and reapplying several times.  I don’t have a preference as to mineral or chemical sunscreens, as long as they work.

Block Island Sunscreen

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The active mineral sunscreen protection in this product is Zinc.

The Block Island is a little thinner than other sunscreens that  I use:

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Here is after one swipe with my thumb:

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The thinness of this makes it easy to squirt too much out of the container, so be careful with that.

The sunscreen rubs in easily and is not greasy at all, which is a huge plus for me.  Even with the zinc, it doesn’t show on the skin, although after I was sweating a lot while riding, I noticed some white lines in the crook of my arms.

While this says there are no artificial fragrances, it does have a scent to it. One is the smell of the zinc – that sunscreen smell. The other is the very faint scent of eucalyptus.  There is eucalytpus oil in it and it gives just a hint of the menthol. I was sniffing my arm several times after applying each time (I am sure the people in Saratoga were wondering what I was doing) and could just catch a whiff of it.

So, how does it work?  No burns at all!  I applied before we left for Saratoga and then applied again before riding home. We spent a good 4 hours in the sun. Proof is that I missed about a 1 inch section on one thigh at the top of my bike shorts (probably because they rode up a little) and I have a small stripe of red there from sunburn. Nowhere else. I used this on my arms, legs, neck, throat, ears and face.  It did not cause any breakouts so far, either.

So, if you are looking for an organic mineral sunscreen, this will certainly do the job.

This 3.4 ounce bottle is normally $19.99, but there is a sale going on through Father’s Day where it is $15.99. Good timing on this review, I guess! This seems a little above average for organic suncare on the market.

Whatever you use, protect that skin!

Disclaimer:  Block Island sent me this sunscreen product free of charge to review. All opinions are mine, good and bad. I don’t receive any compensation if you purchase from them.