lifestyle

The Best of 2016 Awards! Non-Toxic Beauty & Lifestyle Products

THE BEST OF 2016 AWARDS ARE HERE! I've got natural beauty, skin care, hair care, body care and lifestyle products that I loved during 2016 to share with you. And some new awards, too! Grab a snack, because this is a long one!  Without further ado, the awards! Be sure to check out the full length video below for details on each product. 

Beauty

The BEST...

Liquid Foundation: Gressa Serum Minimalist Foundation. See my review or the other liquid foundations that I enjoyed this year. 

Cream Foundation: Honest Beauty Cream Foundation. See my comparison of all the cream foundations that I enjoyed this year. 

Translucent Setting Powder: W3LL People Bio-Brightener Powder

Tinted Setting Powder / Powder Foundation: Zuzu Luxe Pressed Powder Foundation 

Full Coverage Concealer: W3LL People Bio-Correct Concealer

Lightweight Concealer: Nu Evolution Camouflage Cream

Primer: Hynt Beauty Skin Prep Primer 

Blush: Honest Beauty Cream Blush Truly Exciting 

Contour & Highlight Combo: RMS Contour Bronze and RMS Living Luminizer. Check out my review of these here

Brow Pencil: Honest Beauty Brow Pencil 

Brow Wax: Eco Brow

Eyeliner Pencil: Honest Beauty Brow Filler

Mascara: Lily Lolo Mascara 

Eyeshadow Palette: Honest Beauty Eyeshadow Trio 

Single Pressed Shadows: Root Pretty Eyeshadows 

Lipstick: Nudus Lipsticks. See swatches here

New Beauty Brand (to me): Nu Evolution Cosmetics

Beauty Box Subscription: Teri Miyahira Beauty 

New Beauty Launch: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Line 

New Way To Transition To Clean Beauty: Clean Beauty Academy 

SKINCARE


THE BEST...

Cleanser: Aleavia Cleanser 

Lip Balm: Henne Organics Lip Balm Tube 

Facial Oil: Ko & Humble Passion Fruit Seed Oil 

Facial Serum: Kypris Antioxidant Dew 

Treatment: Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive 

BODY & HAIR CARE

The Best...

Bug Repellent: Badger Anti-Bug Balm Stick 

Deodorant (Baking Soda Free): Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Grapefruit Deodorant 

Deodorant (Baking Soda): Green Tidings Lavender Deodorant 

Body Lotion: Flourish Honey Blossom Lotion 

Hair Styling Product: Josh Rosebrook LIFT. See my full hair care routine here

LIFESTYLE

THE BEST...

Collagen Product: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides 

Protein Powder: Vital Proteins Cocoa Coconut Protein Powder 

Protein Bar: Rx Bars

ShopLNL: Detox & Chill Tank Top and The Drinks Market Bag

Fitness: barre3 Online Subscription 

Apparel: yogaoutlet.com 
 

Looking for a specific section? Check the timestamps below for sections. 


Face 1:12-4:18
Cheeks 4:19-6:13
Brows / Eyes: 6:14-9:52
Lips 9:53-10:35
Best Brand, Best Box, Best Beauty Launch: 10:36-12:29
Skin Care 12:30-15:12
Body Care 15:13-16:14
Hair 16:15-16:28
Lifestyle 16:29-20:30

Or check out my favorites from 2015. 

I have Chronic Illness…and I’m Thriving. Here are my 5 Tips.

I spent years feeling awful before being diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease & Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. I had migraines for nearly a decade (going on 15 years now), severe fatigue and more. Feeling so sick for so long took a serious toll on my psyche. 

 

My thought life was a war zone and looked a little something like this:  

 

"Why me?"

 "What if I never feel better?"

 "My body hates me"

"I'll never feel normal."

 "I'm miserable."

 "I feel like I'm going to pass out."

"There is no way I can make it through the work day again."

 "I hate always being in severe pain."

 

If you are one of the nearly 50% of Americans who suffer from a chronic health problem, I'm guessing you can relate. Maybe you've even experienced similar thoughts. 

 

If you're reading this you have gotten the diagnosis, you've read every book and internet article on your condition, you've changed your diet, and you most likely have a big old binder full of treatment protocols, lab results and other things.  

You've learned who to share your struggles with, and who not to. You've learned the difference between tolerable misery and intolerable agony. You take your pills, supplements, get adequate rest...but something's missing. You're surviving, but you want to thrive. 

 

I know, because I've been there, too. 

 

I’ve suffered from Chronic Migraines, Chemical Sensitivities, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Lyme Disease, and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (often referred to as Mold Illness or Environmental Illness) for years. When I was at my sickest, I turned to the internet for support.

 

It was the internet that brought me my first glimmer of hope in the form of women like Kris Carr and Jess Ainscough. These women had horrible diseases, but were living their lives to the fullest, within their boundaries. Inspired by these women, I began the upward battle of learning to thrive.

 

It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I realized I was enjoying my life again. I still have bad days, of course, and can find myself thinking negative thoughts, but I have learned some valuable tips along the way. 

 

Listen to your body

Learn yourself inside and out so that when your body tells you to rest- do it! When it's telling you to get the hell out of that moldy boutique - you need to run, don't go try on that dress you're eyeing. When it's tell you it's uncomfortable, but in your heart you know it's your emotions or fear holding you back and not your illness - push through it. Listen so that you know when it's time to worry and when it's time to suck it up. 

 

SHARE...OR DON'T

Figure out what and how much you want to share about your illness...and with whom. I'm sure you've told someone about your illness who was less than supportive, perhaps even disbelieving. Hone in on your support system. It's perfectly fine if your support system is online. I have made truly beautiful, supportive, real friendships via Instagram and Youtube! 

 

HOBBIES

Get back into activities that you used to enjoy. Or find new ones! Don't let your illness be all consuming. I know it's really easy to give in to this, but don't do it. Buy some flowers, try a new recipe or daydream about a vacation. Write down a list of 10 things that make you happy. Keep it where you can remind yourself of those things when the going is rough. 

 

MOVE

If you are well enough to move your body, do it. Even if it's just stretching. Exercise stimulates your lymphatic system, a key component of your immune system, and also releases endorphins. Endorphins are not overrated! Exercise might even relieve some pain, too. 

 

THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS

Pay attention to your self talk. What do you tell yourself? If it's more often than not something that goes like "why me" or "my body sucks" or "I can't do this", it's time for a self-talk revamp.

I didn't realize just how negative my self talk was until my acupuncturist recommended that I spend 10 minutes a day meditating with the mantra of "my body is healing". After a few days of this, whenever I noticed my negative thought pattern, I would interrupt the thoughts with that mantra. Sometimes I get really specific and think "I feel grounded" when I'm feeling off-balance, which is a common symptom for me. Another favorite mantra is "I am worthy of vibrant health". 

I know this sounds a little woo-woo to some of you, but I promise if you give it a whirl for a few weeks you will notice a difference. It wasn't until I made this change in my thought patterns that I started noticing physical improvements, as well! 

While chronic illness isn't always a walk in the park, it can be a catalyst to positive change. There's no better time to be true to yourself. You deserve to thrive, not just survive! 

 

 

 

The Green Gift Guide for Everyone On Your List

For the beauty addict...

1. Henne Organics Lip Collection. This lip balm and exfoliation set is sublime. The Henne Organics lip balm in the pot stole my heart last winter (and saved my lips!), but to see them come out with the same balm in a tube is pure magic. The set includes the cult classic balm in a pot, a tube and also their new Rose Diamonds lip exfoliator. Each of these items is also available for purchase separately, and the tube is gender neutral enough you could even get away with gifting is as a stocking stuff for your man. 

2. Juice Beauty Phyto Lip Trio. As long as we're talking about lips, let's add some color! When I saw this holiday gift set on Juice Beauty's website, I literally screamed. I may have purchased it as a gift...but I ended up keeping it for myself. 

3. RMS Living Luminizer. This coveted cream highlight has graced the skin of Victoria's Secret models and looks amazing on everyone. It's the perfect glow from within. 

4. Antonym Noisette Eyeshadow Quad. This luxurious eyeshadow palette is perfect for an every day look and also has a gorgeous gold shade for a more dramatic evening look. The packaging is swoon-worthy and the ingredients are fantastic. 

5. Furless Cosmetic Brushes. Every beauty addict can use a few more brushes. Furless' brushes are cruelty free and high performance. Grab a set or just one. 

For the wonder woman, the mom, the selfless servant - anyone who needs pampering!

1. 100% Pure Body Scrub. This is the most luxurious body scrub on the planet! Coconut is my go-to flavor. 

2. Flourish Honey Blossom + Marshmallow Root Body Lotion. This lotion not only comes in a frosted glass bottle, but smells like actual heaven. 

3. Treat Collection Nail Polish. Who doesn't love a manicure? These Nail Polishes are free of common nasties and have a huge shade range. 

4. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive. This treatment is the ultimate, it's my number one. Nothing makes my skin look as fresh or radiant! 

5. Acure Dry Body Oil Spray. This body oil is not only affordable, but it isn't greasy and feels amazing on the skin. It comes in three scents - Citrus Ginger, Coconut and Rose. 

For the homebody...

1. Woodlot Candle. Most women love candles, but sadly most candles are full of toxins. Woodlot candles are free of synthetic fragrance and are made with a clean burning wick and coconut wax. It's the cleanest candle out there with the chicest packaging. 

2. Thao Tea. Thao tea's are organic, loose-leaf and full of fun flavors! You cannot go wrong with the Guava Ginger White Tea. 

3. Graymarket Design Toiletry Bag.  These toiletry bags are ethically produced, come in fun patterns, and are large enough to accommodate any green beauty addict's makeup collection for travel. 

4. ShopLNL DRINKS Market Bag.  My favorite reusable tote bag is perfect for grocery shopping, the farmer's market or even a book bag. It's sturdy, fits all the things and makes your love of green juice super clear. A note on shipping, all orders must be placed by Dec. 8th to ensure delivery before Christmas. 

5. Essential Oil Diffuser. Every homebody needs at least one essential oil diffuser, why not give the gift of a cute one? 

For the wellness junkie...

1. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides or Collagen Whey Protein. These collagen and whey protein products are unbeatable. They are made with organic, grass-fed collagen and whey and have a ton of protein. The peptides stir effortlessly into any food or liquid without changing the taste or texture. The protein power contains both whey and collagen, tastes amazing and uses whey concentrate, not isolate which is far easier to digest. 

2. barre3 online subscription. barre3 is the ultimate for me when it comes to fitness. I've never enjoyed a program so much, felt so empowered or seen physical changes in my body like I have with barre3. In person classes are available across the country, but I particularly love the online subscription - it's so convenient and all the instructors make the workouts fun! 

3. Propolis Diffuser. These are the newest health inventions on my radar. I don't own one yet, but it is definitely on my list. These machines diffuse propolis (a compound created by bees) into the air, which cleans the air much like an air purifier. While they do not absorb chemicals like a carbon filter would, the propolis compounds have been known to eliminate mold, bacteria, viruses and more. 

4. Vitamix Blender. The ultimate for green smoothie making! 

5. S'well Water Bottle. Because who doesn't want the fanciest water bottle ever made? 

1. Mountain Rose Herbs Essential Oils.  Everyone can use an essential oil or two. For someone new to oils, stick with something that everyone enjoys like lemon and include a little card with ways to use it. My favorite oil is Frankincense and most people wouldn't buy it for themselves. Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite place to buy oils because they're high quality, organic and affordable. Check! 

2. Zoe Organics Breathe Balm. This stick balm is great for colds and congestion. It's technically formulated for kiddos, but there's no reason adults can't use it, too. 

3. Rx Bars. These are my absolute favorite protein bars. They have very few ingredients and are high quality. Nothing artificial and no filler ingredients, plus...so many flavors! I love the Maple Sea salt.

4. Justin's Peanut Butter Cups. Because, chocolate. 

5. Hurraw! Lip Balm. These lip balms come in a ton of flavors and are great for both men and women. 

How Flowers Can Shift Your Emotions

Did you know that you might be drawn to a particular flower for a specific reason? 

Flowers are not only beautiful to look at, which of course releases happy and calming feelings, but they can impact our energy and emotions, too! 

The elixir from a particular flower can be ingested and can impact mental and emotional states. 

Katie Hess, author + flower alchemist, has written a gorgeous, transformative book, translating the wisdom and magic of flowers. Each flower has its own special message and teaching, and in Flowerrevolution, you'll discover: 

  • What your favorite flowers say about you
  • How the language of flowers can help you better understand yourself and your loved ones
  • Methods (ancient and modern) for tapping into each flower's unique quality.

In collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg, the stunning photos and interactive exercises in Flowerrevolution invite us into the vast and beauty world of flowers, where natural isn't just a pretty picture of sublime scent, but a pathway to a fuller experience of life

 

Right now, as a gift for you, she's offering up the first two chapters as a sneak peek, plus gorgeous digital flower wallpapers so you can experience their visual healing powers on your phone or desktop. 

Get the free chapters & floral wallpapers here. 

I was offered the chance to try one of the new Lotus Wei single flower essences in celebration of the book launch. I was shown a list of flowers and asked to choose the top few that resonated with me. Imagine my surprise when I was sent my top choice and the description matched exactly how I was feeling at that time!

 

NECTARINE BLOSSOM
Activate: Sweetness
Message: You’re among friends.


The Nectarine is so loveable, with its beautiful craggy limbs, gorgeous flowers and sweet juicy fruits. The blossoms have a delicate quality similar to cherry blossoms, but the flowers are larger and hardier. If you’re attracted to the Nectarine Blossom, you may be experiencing low- level annoyance, or feel that the energy in your environment is inflammatory, aggressive, or uncomfortable. Nectarine Blossom flower elixir magnifies tolerance, affection and thoughtfulness, enhancing the desire to be of service and perform random acts of kindness. It softens our character and brings out our good intentions and makes us feel like we are among friends.

The first thing I noticed about the nectarine blossom flower elixir is that is smells like heaven! It also has a slightly sweet taste that was very pleasant to drink. 

The flower elixirs are meant to be consumed five times per day. This may sound a little daunting, but it's not at all considering how yummy it is! You can either drop the elixir directly into your mouth, or mix it with water. 

I have used flower elixirs before and know that they work on a very gentle level, so I didn't expect to notice results so quickly! After just a few days of using my elixir regularly, I felt lighter, less annoyed and more excited to reach out to friends and make social plans. 

Want to learn more about the new flower essences and Katie's book launch? Be sure to check out the other blogs in the flower blog ring! 

To visit the next blog in the blog circle, click here. 

Things I've Been Loving Lately - Podcast, Luxury Beauty & My New Shop

It's been a little while since I did a round of favorite things, so here we go. 

PODCASTS:

Raise Your Hand, Say Yes with Tiffany Han Podcast                                                                        The Lady Gang Podcast
Green Gurl & Doc Podcast. Check out the episode I guest starred in here. 
On Air With Ella Podcast

BOOKS:

Let It Out, A Journey Through Journaling Journal Prompt Book

BEAUTY


Teri Miyahira Beauty Brushes
MUN Skin Care Travel Set, See my review here. 
Nudus Lipsticks, See my review here. 

LIFESTYLE
ShopLNL Detox & Chill Tank
ShopLNL Drinks Market Bag

Buckaroo Organics Soapberry Suds - Organic Laundry Detergent Bundle Review

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Soap. Berries. 

 

Those are two different things, right? Not necessarily! 

Soapberries live on a tree in the Lychee family and happen to contain a natural surfectant called saponin in their husks. A surfactant is a compound that allows water to demolish dirt and grime - or typically what we'd refer to as a detergent or soap. 

 

While most detergents on the market use surfactants to make their products work well - most of them are derived from synthetic or toxic chemicals. 

Laundry products like detergents, fabric softener and dryer sheets are full of carcinogens in the form of synthetic fragrance, optical brighteners and cleaning solutions. Even worse, these chemicals are designed to stay in your clothes, they are sit on the skin and you breathe them in as you wear your freshly laundered garments. 

In case that doesn't persuade you to dump them, those chemicals also wind up back in our water systems and pollute our environment and wildlife. You can read more about that in this post. 

In that video, I  presented a few better laundry detergents, there was still a popular, ultra natural detergent that I had never tried. Until Now. 

 

Enter the Soapberries. 

 

Buckaroo Organics' Soapberry Suds Organic Laundry Detergent has the most simple, natural ingredients as seen here:

Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Percarbonate, Sapindus Murkorossi (organic soapberry), Sodium Bicarbonate

 

The formula is a powder detergent. I'd never used a powder detergent before and was skeptical of how well it would work. I was surprised when I pulled my clothes out of the washer and dryer that they were amazingly clean, didn't have any scent and there was nothing noticeably different about them compared to when I used another non-toxic liquid detergent. 

 

The soapberries are imported from the Himalayas and are USDA Certified Organic. The formula is gentle enough to use on delicates, but still remove dirt and grease really well. 

 

Buckaroo Organics Soapberry Suds not only cleans, but it naturally softens fabric (so you can ditch your chemical fabric softeners) and it won't pollute the water supply like toxic detergents do. The ingredients are so simple and hypoallergenic, so it won't bother sensitive skin or sniffers. 

 

To compliment the Soapberries Suds, Buckaroo Organics also has wool dryer balls. You already know how much I love me some wool dryer balls! 

 

Wool dryer balls are great to help dry your clothes faster and naturally soften them. If you like a gentle, non-toxic fragrance on your clothes, you can add a few drops of one of their organic essential oils to either the washing machine or directly on to the dryer balls. 

 

Pick up just the detergent, a starter kit, or a bundle on their website. Take 20% off your order using the code laura20 through November 8th. 

 

I am also giving away a laundry starter kit from Buckaroo Organics over on my instagram (@laurasnaturallife), be sure to enter over there if you are interested. 

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby - How I Practice Natural Birth Control

If only there was a magic pill that prevented pregnancy. 

I know what you're thinking, there already is - it's called birth control! But for those of us who refuse to put that poisonous pill in our bodies, we've longed for a natural alternative. 

I've never been on hormonal birth control, as you may remember from this post. So, the decision for me to try out the Fertility Awareness Method - a form natural birth control - seemed like a no brainer. I had nothing to lose and really everything to gain. Goodbye, condoms! Hello, extra enjoyable sex with my hubs. 

I've been following Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) to avoid pregnancy for seven cycles now and have been successful.  The first thing you need to know is that it's NOT the same as the rhythm method, which is not effective.

FAM is pretty effective - 99.6% to be exact. Even my very western minded OB/GYN agreed that it is effective when practiced correctly. 

Before practicing FAM, it never occurred to me to think about my fertility because I wasn't trying to get pregnant.  I didn't realize that knowing when I was fertile and when I wasn't was the key to a healthy, fulfilling sex life, without the risk of pregnancy and without ingesting hormones. 

Knowing when I'm fertile and when I'm not empowers me to know when it's safe to have unprotected sex without the risk of getting pregnant. Knowing the body's fertility signals teaches you how to have a baby, yes - but it also teaches you how to prevent making a baby. 

After sharing my post about the dangers of hormonal birth control, many of you asked how exactly to do the Fertility Awareness Method and what it involves. Let's be clear for a minute, though. This method is not for everyone. There is a decent amount of responsibility that comes along with it. 

So, here we go. 

The mission, should you choose to a accept it, is simple - you learn to interpret your body's signals as to whether you are fertile or you're not. There are really only about six days in each cycle when it is possible to get pregnant. Although, if using this method to avoid pregnancy, it's best to be cautious and give a little extra padding to either side of that 6 day fertile window. So, let's say there are 8 days when it's risky to have sex (if you don't want to get pregnant).

Assuming you have a standard 28 day cycle, what about the other 20 days? Free game, my friends! Assuming that you are in a monogamous, safe relationship with someone you are comfortable engaging in unprotected sex with, of course.

If you don't have a regular cycle, you can still use this method. In fact, it may be really helpful to do this and then bring your charts back to your medical professional to help get to the root cause of any hormonal issues. 

Basically, you decide when you are comfortable having unprotected sex (your non-fertile days) and when you need to use a barrier method (your fertile days). This method doesn't suddenly make you stop ovulating, or decrease your fertility like hormonal birth control, because the female body is designed to conceive a child.  If and when you are ready to get pregnant, this method will also teach you when you are the most fertile in order to conceive faster and easier. 

There are a few ways to go about the tracking and interpreting the fertility signals. 

1. Track Your Basal Body Temperatures.

Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature your body reaches at rest. You measure this when you first wake up - before getting out of bed or drinking a sip of water - using a Basal Body Thermometer (BBT).

A BBT is an extra sensitive thermometer that can detect the slightest changes in body temperature and goes to 2 decimal places. Instead of your typical thermometer which reads say 97.7, a BBT would read 97.72. The basic models will do and are usually about $10, although the Kindara WINK (which I just received three days ago) doesn't beep and syncs to the app, so that's nice.  

In short, you take your basal temp every morning and track it on paper or in an app. I use the Kindara app to track my fertility, but there a number out there that do the same thing. 

To put it really simply, your basal body temps will be lower the first half of your cycle from the first day of your period until ovulation. After ovulation your basal body temperature will jump a bit and remain higher for the rest of your cycle. This is the only real way to know when you have ovulated, but you won't know that you have ovulated until the event is over. 

Note: Some women do not like to track temps, as they can occasionally be unreliable. Factors like lack of sleep, drinking alcohol the night before and being sick may give a reading that would be abnormal for your pattern. 

2. Chart your cervical fluid / cervial mucus.

The two terms are interchangeable. Typically after your period, your cervix won't produce any fluid for a few days - you will feel dry and won't see any fluid. 

Over the course of the next several days, your cervix typically produces thinner and wetter fluid. 

To track how fertile the fluid is, you will need to feel it. Basically, when you go to the bathroom, you take a clean square of toilet paper and place it around your lady bits, and bear down a little like if you really had to pee.  Touch the fluid that is on the square of toilet paper to determine the texture. 

The cervical mucus will go from sticky -> creamy -> egg white -> watery and then taper back -> creamy -> sticky -> dry. In short, the wetter the mucus, the more fertile you are. Determining the type of cervical fluid you are experiencing is actually a little trickier than it sounds, especially because we are all different. I refer to this blog post to help me. 

Egg white cervical mucus is thought to be the most fertile type of mucus. You'll know that you are having egg white cervical mucus when the fluid looks like egg whites, but also stretches nearly two inches between your fingers without breaking.  

So, you could just avoid the days when it feels wetter down there, right? Well, keep in mind sperm can live in your lady bits for up to 5 days, especially when there is fertile fluid present. That's why it's important to keep a buffer around your fertile days. Especially since you won't know that you've ovulated until after it has happen. You also won't know if you've ovulated unless you track your basal body temps as well as cervical fluid. 

3. Choose one or do both. 

Some people only track basal body temps and some people only track cervical fluid. I only tracked cervical fluid for 7 cycles before tracking temps in addition to cervical fluid.

 You will have the best success with this method if you track both. Whatever you choose, consistency is key. Make sure to track your temps and/or cervical fluid every day. 

4. Track The Position Of  Your Cervix

Yeah, that's right. Did you know that your cervix actually moves during your cycle? When you are more fertile your cervix is higher and softer. When you're less fertile your cervix is positioned lower and it is harder to the touch. 

This is an extra step that some women use and some do not. I personally don't. 

5. Ditch The Interpreting and Invest In Tech.

If interpreting your fertility signs is overwhelming, you can ditch the interpreting all together and invest in fertility tech. Fertility monitors like the Lady-Comp or the Daysy are basically BBTs with built in technology that use an algorithm to predict your fertile and non-fertile days. 

Each morning after taking your temperature, the monitor will give you either a green, yellow or red light. Green means GO - you're not fertile. Yellow means be cautious or hey, risk it if you want. Red means you're super fertile and avoid having unprotected sex. You can also use this if you decide that you do want to get pregnant. The difference here is that you would want to make sure that you're doing the baby dance on the red light days. 

Each of these devices will take about three months to get to know your body so they can predict your fertile days with accuracy (99.3%!), so for the first several weeks you will get a lot of yellow lights. 

I do not have either of these devices and I consider buying them about every other month. They aren't cheap and I feel like I've been doing just fine without them, so I keep holding off. 

6. Learn to interpret

Considering I am not a medical doctor or a fertility expert, and have only been practicing the method for seven months - let's take a look at some additional resources. 

One is the e-course Debunking Ovulation. This was my first step into learning about the Fertility Awareness Method. I actually took this course because many of you asked me to to do video about birth control and I remembered Dr. Nat Kringoudis had made an e-course about this very topic.  I took the course and loved it so much I decided to try it for myself. 

This course is inexpensive, is only about an hour long and teaches you the easiest way to tell when you are fertile and when you're not. It also will only cover tracking your cervical mucus in the most simplistic way. It talks about what your period should look like, what a healthy cycle looks like and how ovulation is more than just about making babies. 

The text book that just about every woman who practices FAM has read - and all women with a uterus really should read- is called Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  This book is big and it isn't a light read. It covers everything - I mean everything about fertility. You will get in depth information about how to track your temps, your cervical fluid and why you're having trouble getting pregnant if you're doing everything right. 

Lastly, the Kindara Blog has several helpful articles. This one about the facts and reasons why FAM is so great is awesome. They also have articles showing example charts so that you know what you should be looking for as you interpret your own. There is a community feature within the app, too. If you have any questions on your chart, members of the community are more than happy to help you out. 

What do you think of natural birth control? The best discussions happen in our Create Your Green, Gorgeous Life Facebook Group - so don't forget to join in over there. 

Well-Scent Essential Oils Review

 

Well-Scent is one of my favorite brands of essential oils. Why? They are organic, wild-crafted and are often recommend by physicians for complex illnesses like Lyme Disease. Their blends are really unique and some are extremely targeted. You won't find anything quite like these unique blends elsewhere! 

 

In addition to having blends for physical ailments like Lyme Disease, pain, sinus congestion and detoxification they also have blends specifically for emotional support and a line of skin care and holistic dental care. 

 

I have four of their blends to share with you. I am proud to be an ambassador for Well-Scent. Some of these oils I purchased on my own and some were sent to me as PR samples. I love each one of them and highly recommend them.

 

Relieve. This blend is formulated for pain, arthritis and inflammation. It's a blend of Wintergreen, Thyme, Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Marjoram, Laurel, Clove and Jojoba oils. 

 

This blend can be used topically for really any type of pain of inflammation. I use it for headaches and migraines. I've only had to use it a few times, but each time I've used it I get nearly instant relief. Much more so than with only using peppermint oil. It smells predominately of wintergreen with a little extra sweetness. 

 

Balance.  This blend is a heavy hitter! It is formulated for Lyme disease, immune support, lymphatic support, can combat bio-films and support many internal organs. It is anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic. 

 

This blend can be used to help support any chronic or acute illness to boost immunity. It can also be used topically for skin rashes. I use this one topically when I'm having a rough day with vertigo, although I know many people who use this daily to combat chronic illness. 

 

It is a blend of Myrhh, Blod Orange, Cedarwood, Rosemary, Oregano, Frankincense, Vetiver and Jojoba Oil. It smells a bit woodsy, but not too strong and not offensive. 

 

Rejuvenate. This blend is one of my favorites! It supports liver detoxification and digestion. it is a blend of Fennel, Geranium, Carrot Seed Oil, Rosemary, Roman Chamomile, Blue Tansy, Helichrysum and Jojoba Oil. 

 

The scent of this blend is really hard to describe. I'd say I mainly detect an herbal, blue tansy vibe. 

 

This blend can be used to aid in liver detoxification and also digestion. It is really great to use before a colonic or sauna to increase the benefits of those detox methods. The reason I love this one is when I apply it topically over my liver I swear I can feel my liver wake up and start working better! It's like a double shot espresso to detox. 

 

Release. This blend is for circulation, lymphatics and detox. It is a blend of Laurel, Cypress, Eucalyptus and Rosemary. 

 

This one is great for deep lymphatic detoxification and sinus support. It can be used to help support lymphatic detox with chronic conditions like Lyme Disease and Mold Illness or even for acute illnesses like colds. I often use this in a detox bath or directly over lymph nodes. It smells a mostly like cypress and eucalyptus to me. 

Lifestyle Loves - barre3, athleta, graymarket design

Believe it or not, I occasionally fall in love with healthy lifestyle products that are not beauty related! I have found a lot of amazing things this summer that I just have to share with you. 

1. First up is my bracelet from Calypte Collection. It's a beautiful wrap bracelet in my favorite colors. I also really adore the brand and the founder - so much so that I have a Girl You Gotta Know with her. 

2. This toiletry bag from Graymarket Design is so big (and cute) that it perfectly fits all my makeup and beauty products for travel. You guys all know I don't travel light either. 

3. It's no secret that I am obsessed with Athleta for fitness apparel. The chaturanga leggings are life changing. They recently had a sale and I snagged this sports bra and one of their unstinkable tank tops. Yes, I thoroughly tested the that claim. It really is unstinkable. 

4. I felt the need to treat myself to these new fitness clothes because I have been killing it with working out lately. Why? Because I've finally found a fitness program that works for me, makes me feel empowered and is FUN. It's barre3. While I have taken a few in person studio classes, I mainly do the online workouts from their online membership subscription. After three weeks, I had already lost a few inches! 

5. Air travel seems to give me sinus issues lately, and I swear by Release by Well-Scent. It's also fantastic for lymphatic detoxification as well. 

6. Because a healthy life is nothing without delicious food, I have two amazing food finds for you. The first is a new favorite summer iced tea from Rishi and the second is the best lemon cookies in the world (they're also gluten and dairy free). 

Girl You Gotta Know: Alexis of Curio Press

Before you hear from Alexis, I just have to tell you the fun story of how we met.

The time - last summer. The place - on a blog post discussion thread from The Small Things Blog. NO JOKE. 

We discovered we were both attending Create + Cultivate in Chicago and we were both going solo. Actually, it was my first time going really anywhere solo!

 Alexis reached out to me via email and suggested we meet up before the welcome party and go together. Seriously, that's the kind of amazing human she is! 

You are going to love her and her beautiful products. Now, on to the interview. 

1. Tell me a little about yourself, what you do and where we can find you.

My name is Alexis Austin and I am the shop owner and main force behind the online stationery paperie, Curio Press. 

I've been both an entrepreneur and designer / crafter since I was little. I think it started when I was 8 and I decided to paint rocks and sell them door-to-door - and people bought them!! My interests have evolved a bit since then and I've followed a not-so-straight path through my education starting with Architecture and ending up in Graphic Communications. During grad school I got this crazy idea to start a stationery business on my own, and voila - Curio Press was born! It was the perfect way for me to bring my designs into others' lives while still pursuing a career that brought me joy.

Curio Press offers beautiful and unique, personalized stationery sets, notepads, mugs and pencils that make great gifts or a special treat for yourself. All the design, printing, cutting packaging, etc, is done in my studio. The business has grown over the past 3 years, but it is still just myself and my husband—he does the packaging and shipping and I would be lost without him!

Since launching Curio Press in early 2013, both the business and my family have seen a lot of changes. We moved several times and have added a very active little girl to the mix. We currently live in Saint Louis, Missouri and are absolutely loving it. 

Our main selling platform has always been Etsy but about 8 months ago we also joined Handmade at Amazon – which has been a much needed new sales channel. Our standalone website will also be ready very soon - I am doing that myself as well and there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

2. How did you know you wanted to pursue a creative career, and specifically paper products?

There is no simple answer to this. I had wanted to be an Architect since I was 9 years old and I took a very straight path to becoming one - right up until my 3rd year of undergrad when I realized that the design and printing portion of my building projects was the part I was most passionate about. So, I started a Graphic Communications minor and ended up in Grad school for printing. I knew I wanted to work in the graphic design and printing industry, but really had no idea where I wanted to end up. All I had ever wanted was to become an Architect and this huge shift threw all my life plans and aspirations out the window. 

My online business actually started during a very rough time in my life. During grad school, I was suffering from chronic, crippling pain that the doctors couldn’t figure out. It was preventing me from doing my school work so I took a quarter off from school. During that time, we didn’t have the income from my campus job (and I got stir crazy being at home) and so I decided to start a home business. I knew I needed something I could do at my own pace – sitting or laying down whenever I needed to – and that it would have to be from home. Suddenly, Etsy was on my radar and I just jumped in.

I’m the kind of person who, when I get an idea that I am obsessed with, I dive right into the deep end and figure out how to swim later. Curio Press wasn’t my first Etsy shop. I started a furniture shop about a year prior to Curio Press that sold reupholstered chairs. It was going great, but was just too much work for each piece and was a very physical job, so I decided to close it.

About the same time, I was diagnosed with very severe Endometriosis, which had spread to my intestines and bladder. After 2 surgeries I was feeling significantly better, was able to resume classes, and got a job in a local print shop. About a month later I decided to take all my printing and design skills and launch a stationery shop. I mean, paper and design were what I was passionate about- why didn’t I think of that sooner?!


3. Our lives are all on the internet these days and many girls without previous interest or desire to design are getting the itch to do so. What are your tips for aspiring DIY designers? 

The climate of Etsy and online selling has changed a lot in the past couple years. When I started doing stationery, there were only a handful of designers on Etsy doing the same thing. Now there seems to be a new shop opening every day. My best advice is to know your market and target it - and these days niche is a good thing. I’d also recommend not selling yourself short. I did that a lot when I started- I would charge way too little for way too much of my time and resources and it almost burned me out.


4. Tell me about your morning routine. Is there anything you make sure to do every day to have the best start?

Coffee - then more coffee!! I have a bit of a problem!

My husband and I are both fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with our daughter, Emma and we evenly split the childcare each day. He takes her in the morning until nap, then I take her till bedtime. So my mornings are dedicated to working on the business, whether that is doing the actual production run or just sending emails and working on development. I really do start with coffee, then I always sit down and write out all my goals for the day - split into work for the morning and life for the evening. I try to be realistic about what I can do too - one of my biggest weaknesses in the past has always been expecting way more of myself and my limited time than is reasonable. It sets the tone for the day and if I am able to accomplish everything then I can take a break that night before bed.


5.  What are some ways you practice wellness in your busy routine? 

As I mentioned, my husband and I split our childcare, so I have Emma in the afternoons. I used to spend that whole time feeling bad about all the work for the shop that I could be doing rather than really appreciating the time I had with her. But I noticed it was happening and about 8 months ago I made a mental shift - now when I am with Emma, I all all there. No work. And that has trickled into the rest of my life too. There is a distinct separation between work and life time that is really hard to achieve when your work is at home with you 24/7. 

As for physical wellness, I still had a lot of baby weight to lose when we move to Missouri, so I hired a personal trainer to keep me on track. I’ve also set aside time for cooking each day and have started on a low carb diet, which has done wonders for my residual heath issues. We eat mostly organic and only home cooked meals now!


6. You've lived so many places! What is your favorite city? 

It’s true! I have lived in 7 states - Wisconsin, New Mexico, California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and now Missouri. Each one represents a different chapter of my life. I have a couple favorites, but I think they may hold a different experience for me now. I loved the small coastal town of San Luis Obispo, CA, but that was my college self who loved the beaches and the nightlife. Albuquerque is a close second - the dry heat and gorgeous sunsets on the mountain while lounging in the pool make that my mental happy place when I need one. And now Missouri has turned out to be an amazing place to have a kid. There are way more family oriented (and free!!) things to do with kids here thanin any of the places I have lived before. So right now, Saint Louis is pretty great, but in 5 years who knows!?

7. What's an adventure you'd love to take?

Our dream is to go to France with our daughter. I’ve traveled to France and throughout Europe, but my husband has only been to Mexico. We have friends in France we would love to spend time with and just become fully immersed in the culture. I’ve actually asked them if they thought my business would survive there (as if I could get my printer across the Atlantic!) and they said no, that they didn’t think stationery was so popular there. But who knows! A great thing about working for yourself is that it is ever evolving and you are very mobile. I have no idea what will come next and so that is an adventure in itself. 

8. What makes you feel super healthy?

Being low carb!! I think it is a bit controversial as a diet, but I have never felt better in my life than I have in the past 2 month since starting low carb. It has forced me to eat very clean and cut out all the processed junk I had been eating. I used to always gave myself a pass - blaming the business and being too busy -  even though I knew it was unhealthy. And better still, my whole family is benefitting from my life change because they are getting healthy home cooked meals everyday.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received?

I have no idea where I heard it or if I made it up, but the thing I think to myself constantly is “You’ll never be ready. Do it anyway.” There have been so many times where I told myself I wasn’t ready, or if I just do this one thing, then I will be ready to move forward.  And I would just put off whatever it was that I was afraid of. Having a baby is one of those things - I definitely didn’t feel ready, but she is here and I can’t fathom my life without her. Same goes for launching my line of pencils or making friends in the new places we have lived. The conditions don’t have to be perfect, just put yourself out there and do it! You will thank yourself later.

You can find Alexis & Curio Press on Etsy and on Instagram

 

Scary Facts About The Birth Control Pill

Did you know that the birth control pill is the most prescribed medication in the world? 

I am at an age where many of my friends are trying to conceive and are therefore going off of their birth control. Many are met with some unexpected challenges. I am so glad that my mom convinced me not to go on The Pill when I was younger.

Considering I am not a Medical Doctor, I have relied on the books and articles produced by medical doctors and other holistic medical practitioners who are experts in this field. I have been doing research on The Pill, fertility and natural birth control methods for a few months now and my favorite resources come from Dr. Nat Kringoudis, and Australian fertility expert and Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Most of the facts below come from her articles and videos. You can find about her thoughts on The Pill here. She has a fantastic e-course on understanding fertility so that you can use this knowledge to avoid pregnancy or to make a baby here

So why don't I take The Pill? Well, my original reason was because I did not want to take a daily medication, especially one that would contribute to Candida Overgrowth. Being prone to Candida, at the time, I asked my medical and holistic doctors their opinion regarding if The Pill could contribute to Candida. The consensus was that it could. 

But, let's look beyond my early 20's reasoning and take a look at the scary facts I've uncovered:

1. Many women are prescribed The Pill to "counteract" hormonal issues and women's health conditions like hormonal migraines, hormonal acne, PCOS and PMS. It doesn't heal these conditions, it only acts as a band-aid, as is the case with many pharmaceutical drugs.  I've seen many women ask about natural ways to help with PCOS, and while I am not a doctor who could recommend treatment for you, I do have one idea you might like. Dr. Nat Kringoudis also has an E-Course called Debunking PCOS. After taking her Debunking Ovulation course, I almost went on to the PCOS course because it looked so good and I don't even suffer from PCOS!

2. In fact, The Pill can contribute to hormone imbalance which can cause things like hormonal acne, PMS,  breast tenderness and even lead to breast cancer down the road.

3. The scariest fact is that there is research which appears to show that The Pill can lead to infertility. In order for a women to get pregnant, there must be fertile cervical mucus. The Pill appears to degenerate the part of the cervix that secretes fertile cervical mucus. You can read more about this here. 

4. The Pill robs the body of essential nutrients. It depletes the body of all nutrients, but it really likes to eat up B Vitamins, Zinc, Selenium and Folate. It can take up to six months for a woman to replenish these nutrient stores after she goes off of The Pill.  If you've ever gone off of The Pill and wondered why your period took so long to come back, this is why. It can take sometimes up to six months for a woman's period to return. 

5. Another scary scenario The Pill creates is when a woman gets pregnant while taking The Pill or shortly after going off of it. Since her body has been robbed of essential nutrients needed for energy, immunity and basic body functions, her baby is developing in a nutrient robbed womb. This can lead to a difficult pregnancy, fussy baby and an extra frazzled new mother. 

6. Lastly, let's not forget about the common side effects of taking hormonal birth control like weight gain, bloating, depression, low sex drive, mood swings. No thank you!  

So, what are the alternatives? One popular choice is non-hormonal birth control like the copper IUD. However, I am not comfortable with this going inside of my body. It isn't without downsides. 

My personal method of choice is to follow the Fertility Awareness Method, which you can learn about in this book or by taking Dr. Kringoudis' course I mentioned above. It is similar to Natural Family Planning, but like it's cooler, sexier cousin. Way sexier. 

Of course, using a barrier method is always a wise option, especially if you are not in a monogamous relationship or are not OK in the event you do get pregnant.

Fertility Awareness is so easy these days with all the new apps to help you track your fertility (I use Kindara) and tools like The Lady Comp. I actually just spoke about this method with my gynecologist (who isn't a holistic practitioner) and she said that she thinks this method works really well.

However, I don't think this is a method I could've followed well when I was young. There is a greater degree of responsibility that comes with tracking your cervical mucus and/or morning temps and interpreting how fertile you might be. I know I couldn't have done this effectively at the age of 21, had I been using it alone as contraception as I do now. 

If you are going off of The Pill, or have recently gone off, I would highly consider some natural interventions to help balance your hormones faster. If you have a little bit of money to spend, I would recommend seeing a practitioner who specializes in Functional Medicine or a Naturopath. These doctors can test your hormone and nutrient levels and prescribe the proper supplements for your body. If you do not have the funds for this, I also really love acupuncture. Acupuncture can be a fabulous, faster treatment to help regulate hormones and alleviate any negative sensations while coming off of The Pill. 

Interested in learning more about women's health? Be sure to check out my post, The Healthy Girl's Guide To A Healthy Period. 

Healthy Summer Snacks to Fill Your Cooler

I don't know about you, but I love to enjoy the summer weather. Summers in Wisconsin are very short, but they are glorious.  I don't live near a beach, but I am lucky to live near several lakes. For my family, summer = boating. 

But you can't go boating (or to the pool or beach) without SNACKS! 

Here are my tips:

1. Start with veggies. Veggies are always refreshing on a hot day. 

2. Add a little something to nibble on. Nuts are great!

3. And maybe something sweet. Pamela's Lemon Shortbread Cookies are my current favorite. Yum, yum.

4. Don't forget to hydrate! My Hydro-Flask is a must-have for a day in the sun. This water bottle keeps my drinks cold for an unbelievable amount of hours. 

Girl You Gotta Know: Katelyn of Ryn's Roost

1. Tell me a little about yourself, what you do and where we can find you.

I'm always either just settling into one town or moving to a new one. My husband and I move often and are in the process of moving again; we have no idea where our next adventure awaits. I'm currently a full time mom taking care of my baby girl, easily the best job I've ever had. You can typically find me breast feeding in a comfortable spot on my couch, writing my next blog post, or outside strolling my daughter. Life has a funny way of always keeping me on my toes, and had you asked me this same question a year ago, I would have had a very different answer--before Ryn, I was a hairstylist and makeup artist working in a fast-paced salon. Obviously a lot can change in a year! My mom and I started Ryn's Roost, named after my daughter Ryn, as way of sharing our passion. She's an Esthetician and makeup artist. She's also really knowledgeable in health and wellness. I also started a youtube channel to share ways to cut and color your hair at home and apply makeup. {Laura's note - also be sure to check out her Instagram!}

2. You quit a job working in a toxic environment when you found out you were pregnant. Can you tell us more about that experience? The environment, the motivation and finally how you came to this difficult choice. If you had to make the decision again, would you? 

I loved my job, the energy, my clients, being creative, and the thrill of not knowing what I would be doing next. Keratin straightening was probably my biggest motivating factor to leave. It made me feel physically ill. My chest would burn; I would feel faint and nauseated. I refused to give keratin treatments to my clients, but my coworkers performed them often, and as soon as the process began, the entire salon would fill with smoke and I would start reacting. It's not like I was the only one, either. Clients would cough and complain of the smell, and I've actually witnessed a woman pass out while having it done. She had no health issues and refuses to get one again. Keratin straightening (Brazilian blowouts) should be banned. It's a horrible chemical with a scary level of formaldehyde and other toxic ingredients and carcinogens, but people seem to dismiss this for their vanity. 

I knew that type of workplace wasn't healthy, but there weren't any salons in my area that used safer products. When I found out I was pregnant, I decided I couldn't let an innocent, unborn child develop in this toxic environment -- I immediately called my manager and told her to cancel my clients and that I wouldn't be returning. It wasn't an easy decision for me, but I don't regret my choice and would 100% do it the same way, except maybe stop working sooner. The more I read the more I know I made the right decision. 

3. What are the worst hair care mistakes you see women make?

Getting a cut and color based off of a picture or what they see on someone else. You have to take your face shape and coloring, hair texture the amount of time you're willing to spend on your hair everyday into consideration. Unfortunately not every cut, color or style looks good on everyone. A good stylist should always help guide their client

 

4. Tell me about your morning routine. Is there anything you make sure to do everything to have the best start?

I start my morning with a warm cup of lemon ginger water. It's refreshing and it makes me feel good. I typically follow that with a big bowl of oatmeal. There is nothing worse than eating a meal for breakfast that makes you feel terrible the rest of the day. That used to be me: French toast, pancakes, or a sugary latte, and I didn't understand why I was so lethargic and crummy feeling. 

5.  What are some ways you practice wellness in your busy routine? 

I practice wellness through the way that I eat. I'm not on any diet, and I don't restrict myself. I eat everything: fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, but I try to make healthy decisions for the majority of my meals. Whenever I make a less healthy choice, I don't beat myself up. I let myself enjoy it. I'm also lucky to have a husband who loves to cook, he spoils me with delicious meals.

I'm also trying to practice meditation by calming my mind and enjoying the quiet moments. I'm an over-thinker, so this has been difficult for me. I started meditating while I was pregnant, and I got through labor without an epidural by meditating and listening to calming music, so I guess it's working for me.

6. What's an adventure you'd love to take?

I've always wanted to go on a safari in Africa. I love animals, and I'd love to watch them in their natural habitat. 

7. What makes you feel super healthy?

I feel super healthy when I eat well. This doesn't mean juicing everyday (although that does make me feel great), but I'm talking about a healthy balanced diet. I also drink a LOT of water. Especially now that I'm nursing, but I've always loved water. It sounds strange but that's what we grew up drinking, so I hope to instill that in my daughter as well. 

8. What's the best advice you've ever received?

I actually just started reading a book called Mindful Motherhood, and it's given me a whole new perspective on being mindful. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment without additional stories or emotions running through your head, having fewer judgments or anxiety-provoking thoughts, and controlling your outlook on any given situation. Really being present in every moment is harder than it seems, and it's something I'm working on.

9. Is there any advice you can give another woman who may be struggling with the decision to leave a toxic environment in order to save her health?

I would tell her that no amount of money in the world can bring back your health. Spending your day in a toxic work environment isn't worth the possible risk of anything happening to you. We all have a voice and purchasing power, and we can use our voices to enact change. I hope to one day see unnecessary toxic chemicals banned. 

I would also tell her that you don't have to live in a non-glam world to eliminate harmful ingredients! There are so many great alternatives to more commonly used products. That's why I started a blog, to show everyone that you can be mindful of your health without giving up high-performing luxury beauty products. 

Are You Using These Toxic Laundry Products? What To Use Instead.

We've been programmed to associate a strong "clean" laundry scent with cleanliness. Let's dig intro the dirty truth about laundry. 

Laundry products like detergents, fabric softener and dryer sheets are full of carcinogens in the form of synthetic fragrance, optical brighteners and cleaning solutions.  Even worse, these chemicals are designed to stay in your clothes so they are sitting on your skin and you're breathing them in as you wear your freshly laundered garments. In case that doesn't persuade you to dump them, those chemicals also wind up back in our water systems and pollute our environment and wildlife. 

Luckily, Better For You laundry products are not expensive or hard to find! The EWG has a database full of healthier cleaning products that you can consult here. 

In lieu of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, try dryer balls! These babies are so cool. They are literally balls made out of wool that help to speed your drying time (and save energy!) and naturally soften your clothes. 

If you find that you're missing a scent in your laundry, feel free to add a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil to your dryer balls.I usually go for lemon or lime, but lavender is another popular option.  Keep in mind that clean doesn't need to smell like anything! 

Why You Should Use Natural Fragrances..And Ditch Synthetics

Synthetic Fragrance is my personal favorite (by favorite I mean most despised) bad guy ingredient. The scary truth? The US doesn't require that companies disclose the ingredients used to create a fragrance and just lets them get away with putting "fragrance" on the ingredient label. 

Fragrance is a catch-all term that can simply mean a big cocktail of toxic chemicals combined to create a single scent. The scariest part is many of those chemicals have never been tested for safety. Fragrance is known to cause allergies, skin and eye irritation, migraines, dizziness and trigger severe reactions in those that are chemically sensitive.

The good news is that I have a couple of fantastic natural fragrance options for you. In this video, I was lucky to team up with the creator of the natural perfume company Call Of The Vialed who shed some very interesting light on the dirty secrets behind synthetic fragrance and animal testing. Call of the Vialed perfumes are free of any synthetic ingredients and actually disclose far more on their ingredient labels than many other natural perfume company including several components of the essential oils and absolutes that are used in the blends, rather than just saying "essential oil blend" or "C02 Absolutes". I really admire their willingness for full transparency. 

None of these blends suit your fancy? I also recommend Lotus Wei and QET Botanicals perfume blends. To learn more about fragrance and other dirty cosmetic ingredients sign up for my free Clean Beauty Mini-Course down below or check out my full course Clean Beauty Academy. 

My Holistic Dental Routine

I have to admit, I don't think about my teeth very much. At least until it's time to go to the dentist! So when I mentioned I had a few fun new dental products awhile back, I was shocked at how many of you wanted to learn more.

When it comes to toothpastes, the two ingredients I avoid are Fluoride and SLS. Right now I'm using a toothpaste from Tom's. I'm also crazy about the Well- Scent products! Well-Scent is a physical supported holistic apothecary. They have the most unique blends of essential oils and their dental line just doesn't compare to anything I've ever seen. I like their Just For Grins Dental Blend used as a mouthwash, but also sometimes I use it as toothpaste. If you're looking for a natural whitening product, take a peek at their Sparkle powder. 

5 Healthy Everyday Essentials

A girl's got to have her healthy essentials...amiright? It was so hard to narrow down my healthy everyday essentials to just five. I tried to keep these items on the affordable and accessible side for you, but will do a separate post on bigger ticket items.

1. Vitamix. Ok, I know that I said I was keeping these affordable. This is the exception. There are more affordable blenders that work very, very well. However, I don't think there's a comparison to the Vitamix when it comes to liquifying veggies or making nice cream. I need my green smoothies in the morning.

2. Glass Pyrex with cut veggies. Placing bowls of cut veggies at eye level in the refrigerator makes me so much more apt to eat them through the day. Also, they're ready to go in the mornings to throw in my smoothie and also in my lunch bag.

3. Earthing Mat. This is a new addition to my life, but I've noticed a huge difference when I use this when working on the computer for extended periods of time. I don't get as frustrated or stressed out and feel really calm. 

4. Chlorine Shower Filter. Your hair and skin will be thrilled if you add this to your shower! Also, no one wants to breathe in or absorb chlorine unnecessarily in the shower. 

5. Windows. Look, it's something you already own! Unless you live in a dungeon. Open those windows everyday for a fresh air infusion. 

Girl You Gotta Know - Carol of Calypte

I'm so excited to kick off my new series, Girl You Gotta Know! Each month, I hope to introduce you to a new girl who is making waves, being awesome and that I want you to get to know better. 

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Our first Girl You Gotta Know is Carol Thompson of Calypte Collection. Although born and raised in a concrete jungle, Carol Thompson has always had a deep connection with nature. After moving to the redwood curtain for her degree she became a wildlife biologist and now resides in southern California. By day she is happily immersed in the beautiful colors of nature, from the gorgeous hues of blooming flowers to the iridescent colors of hummingbird feathers. Carol’s designs are inspired by nature’s vibrant mix of colors and raw organic shapes. Today, she is dishing on Calytpe Collection, a healthy lifestyle and how she juggles a full time job with her jewelry design business. 

Name: Carol Thompson

Age: 34

Profession: Wildlife Biologist/ Creative Visionary Owner/Designer of Calypte Collection Jewelry. 

Q. If you could recommend one thing that anyone could do in the morning to start the day right, what would it be? 

A. That would be to eat a green smoothie for breakfast. We often don’t get as much greens, i.e. nutrition, into our diets as we think we do, I have seen personal improvement in my health since I started including green smoothies into my morning routine. Now I feel off when I start my morning without one!!

Q. What healthy snacks might we find on your desk or in your handbag? 

A. I typically have a handful of almonds, carrots and sliced apples with me everywhere I go. I don’t like to let my blood sugar get too low, so carrying snacks is the best way to keep things level!

Q. Tell us about your jewelry brand Calypte Collection, What does Calypte mean and how is it significant to your brand?

A. Calypte (Ka-lip-tay) is the scientific name of my favorite bird species, the vibrant, energetic hummingbird. Hummingbirds are filled with life, are incredibly gorgeous with all their colors and at the same time are graceful little birds. To me, they represent the feelings of renewed energy; beauty and calm felt when I’m out in nature. 

Q. Tell us about your three core values of your company and why they are important to you.

A. The three core values of Calypte are to: 

1. Always look for the beauty in life because it is all around. 

2. Remember that you are uniquely beautiful and full of life.

3. Embrace the peace, calm and serenity experienced when out in nature.  

These values are important to me because we all need to see ourselves in high regard and remember that we are part of a whole, connected not only to other people but also to the natural world around us. Nature brings so much peace comfort and joy to people and I believe it is important that everyone feels that connection. 

Q. Where do you find your jewelry design inspiration and what is your design process?

A. When I'm out doing fieldwork as a wildlife biologist I find a lot of inspiration from what is around me. I look at the vibrant colors from the birds, plants, butterfly’s and more. There are so many beautiful colors in perfect combinations; my designs embrace nature’s creative way of expressing beauty and charm. When you wear Calypte pieces I want to take you that place of vibrant life, energy and peaceful serenity felt when exploring nature. 

Q. If you weren’t a wildlife biologist, what would you be? 

A. That is a hard one because I have so many interests! I love yoga, photography, health, wellness and nutrition, cooking…I think I love being a biologist and jewelry designer/owner so in a perfect world I would have more time to do all of the things that I enjoy. 

Q. What are some new pieces you are working on and what are your plans for the coming future?

A. I’m working on a spring collection right now and you’re going to see a few new wrap bracelet designs, beaded bracelets and a move towards more sterling silver pieces to add to the collection as a whole. 

Q. Having a full-time job and your own business must be hard at times, how do you stay positive and motivated? 

A. Balancing my time for both is definitely difficult however, I have a quote hanging on my wall that reads “If you cant stop thinking about it, don't stop working towards it.” I love being a biologist and designing with nature as my inspiration and because I find so much satisfaction in both I know I have to keep going and share my passion with everyone. I also believe in supporting women in science and spreading the word is a great way to stay motivated. 

  Finish the sentence, Be the woman… that you know you can be and stay close to what keeps you feeling alive! 

You can follow Carol and her Calypte Collection on Instagram @CalypteCollection and visit her shop at CalypteCollection.com.

Latest Vitacost Purchases

I know you guys always like to see what I purchase from Vitacost. This time around I needed to refill a few supplements and restock some home and body products. I also picked up several new makeup items from FitGlow, Red Apple Lipstick and Elate. 

Make sure to watch via Youtube for the full product listing with links. What are your favorite items from Vitacost?  

Hidden Dangers in Your Home

You already know about the dangerous chemicals that you can bring in your home in the form of cleaners, air fresheners, candles and more. If not, you can learn about that here

BUT! Did you know that your house itself can be extremely harmful to your health? Most building materials contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), which wreak havoc on our insides as the materials "off-gas" these chemicals for up to a decade! VOC's can cause nose, throat, or lung irritation, and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. I know this first hand. My health has forever been changed (and not for the better) after moving into a home full of toxic, new construction. You can find out more about that here, if you are interested. 

 If you live in a newer home, or have remodeled, you are constantly breathing in these dangerous chemicals. There are healthier ways to remodel or to resolve the chemical off-gassing.  So, I'm here to help and give real life solutions that I used in my own home. 

Let's Break It Down. 

1. Carpet. It can take carpet up to 10 years to completely off-gas. Not only the carpet you step on, your babies crawl on (think how close their little faces are to those chemicals!), but also the carpet padding and the carpet adhesive are full of formaldyhyde, toluene, benzene, xylene and styrene. 

 

Solution: Replace the carpet with hard wood (do not let them varnish it inside your house), or tile, NOT pressed wood. Or consider trying the Safe Coat Carpet Sealing System if you cannot replace the flooring.  I have used the Safe Coat Carpet Sealing System before. It does work, but it isn't a dramatic improvement. However, if you do not have the option to replace carpet, this might be a great solution for you. 

 

2. DryWall. Drywall has its own problems. It has a very unique odor, and is often chemically treated to resist mold growth with harmful chemicals. It also off-gasses acetaldehyde and sulphurous gas. 

 

Solution: Seal any drywall with the Safe Coat Non-Toxic Sealants that is exposed - Especially in your basement. 

 

3. Pressed Wood. Those beautiful cabinets in your new apartment? Yep, those are pressed wood. Pressed wood is made by taking wood or other substances like cardboard to create a single sheet of a material that looks like wood but is held together with chemicals. It's like the home version of a McDonald's chicken nugget. Guess what, these also off-gas VOC's.  

 

Solution: Seal these babies. If these are your floors - you may also want to consider replacing them.  The beams that make up your basement ceiling are often made of pressed wood, as well. 

 

4. Sealants and Varnish. Your floors, the cabinets, the counter tops all have some sort of glue, seal or varnish holding them together or giving them the finish you see. 

 

Solution: Choose non-toxic, no VOC versions, if you have the option. Again, Safe Coat has a lot of these products. 

 

5. Paint. Some Paints Off Gas for 7 years! 

 

Solution: Paint over the paint with a new paint that will seal in those chemicals. I like Sherwin Wiliams No VOC Per Mar line. 

 

6. Air Ducts. If you've ever had your air ducts cleaned chances are you were given before and after pictures. They were totally gross, right? Dust, pollen and yes, even garbage can be housed in the ducts. Combine that with a mold ridden heating & cooling system- this can spell disaster. 

Before we move on from chemicals, it is important to consider purchasing one or more air purifiers that will help to remove the toxic gasses from your home. I like Austin, Foust Co.IQ Air, and Air Pura brands. 

 

7. Mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are biotoxins that molds produce. Biotxoins are dangerous toxins created by living things. Let me guess, you've assumed that since you can't see any mold in your home that you don't have any. Mold can be invisible. Also, simply "killing" the mold isn't good enough. Even dead mold can produce mycotoxins. 

 

You can help to prevent mold growth by always keeping your home's temperature and humidity controlled. Run your air in the summer and use a de-humidifier. Clean up any leaks IMMEDIATELY. Mold can grow in less than 24 hours on a damp surface.

Let in light! Open those windows! Mold loves a dark room. If you suspect you have a mold issue, hire a reputable air inspector and remediator. Mold must be removed very properly to ensure it is not spread throughout the rest of your home. If you have mold for sure and plan to move due to it, please read Mold Warriors to help you determine which items you own are safe to be cleaned and can be brought into a fresh environment without contaminating your new home with mycotixins. Those buggers will live on anything porous- they love paper products like books.

To learn more about mold and mold illness, click here. 

 For any building or remodeling needs, I suggest checking out Green Building Supply and The Green Design Center. Both of these companies have painstakingly combing through which products are hype and which are truly safe to use. They have an amazing selection of flooring and materials. They are both willing to give helpful guidance over the phone, too. 

This post is not sponsored by Safe Coat. Their unique, safe home products (especially formulated for the chemically sensitive person) have helped me immensely.  Best of luck on your healthy, home journey! Feel free to contact me at any time if this is something you are struggling with.