Branching Out To YouTube

I’ve decided to finally branch out and start a YouTube channel. As of February 4th, 2016, there are only two very raw and mildly embarrassing videos up on my channel. I will become better at shooting videos & editing, as well as creating content that people want to see. However, I would love to get subscribers and views. Please take a gander and hit that subscribe button if you’d like: Ellie @ YouTube.

So, here’s the deal. The more subscribers and views I get, the more content I will create. I’ll do anything from a ‘get ready with me’ video to weekly recap video to a ‘my favorite xyz’ video. I’m happy to take suggestions now, so I can formulate what I’ll be talking about and when the videos will go up. Incredibly ludicrous ideas probably won’t happen, so please be reasonable with your suggestions! Please, tell me what you’d like to see!

Thank you, loves!!

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Vegan Living 101: Beginning

For a good portion of my life, I’ve been a quasi- to full-blown vegetarian. Seafood was the first thing to go, and I can’t even remember the last time I ate anything from the sea. Chicken was the last to go. For 11 years, chicken was the only meat I consumed, and, while I only ate it once or twice a year, I felt guilty doing so. For the last seven years, I haven’t touched any kind of animal flesh. However, I do occasionally have a splash of milk in my coffee if I’m at brunch and don’t want to make a fuss. I’ll also have the occasional bit of cheese and I’m trying my hardest to breakup with milk chocolate.

Soon, I’ll be living by myself, like I did just over a decade ago. This will be perfect for me to fine tune my vegan cooking skills. The only person I’ll have to feed every day is myself, so I can have complete control over the food that is kept and the food that I eat.

For those of you who don’t understand what veganism is all about, the simplest way to describe it is: a choice to abstain from any animal product or byproduct in everyday life, including nutrition, clothes, household items, cosmetics, and personal hygiene products. (The link provided is the Vegan wikipedia entry, and I feel like it does a good job explaining concepts.)

This means that the diet a vegan eats is completely void of anything that falls under the animal classification, including their excretions. One thing that drives us crazy is when a veg*n (an umbrella term that is inclusive of all vegetarians & vegans) gets asked “but you still eat fish, right?” This is a question that we get asked constantly and often results in some fierce eye rolling or a gobsmacked laugh. Sometimes, we’ll be blunt and ask “were you asleep when your fifth grade teacher taught you about animal classification?” Other times, we’ll be kind and say, “thanks for asking, however fish are technically animals, so we abstain from eating fish,” while screaming on the inside.

Here is a list of things vegans get asked if they eat, but don’t:
1. Fish/Shellfish/etc.
2. Honey
3. Poultry (this one really baffles me)
4. Milk/Cheese/Eggs
5. Anything with gelatin in it (i.e. most gummy candy, anything that is a mass produced gel)

I live in a part of the States that considers itself progressive and liberal. It was a hotbed of counter-culture activity in the 60s & 70s. Even with the runoff from that, I find that people are really confused by the concept of veganism. When having a discussion about it, I have found it turns out that people are confused by even the concept of vegetarianism.

So, a series of blog posts is born! I’m going to share a few posts that cover a variety of topics regarding veganism. These posts will include (and aren’t limited to) pantry & fridge staples, vegan candy, vegan cookbooks, vegan cosmetics & beauty products, vegan fashion, misconceptions, personal meal plans for 1, 3, and 7 days, and my favorite recipes.

Please contact me with any questions or possible topics you would like me to cover. Also, please know that I am not a nutritionist, chef, or MD. The information I am giving is purely from my own research, discussion with other people who live a vegan lifestyle, conversations with nutritionists & doctors, and my opinion. I’ll will be citing the information that I give you & will clarify if something is an opinion. If you don’t like or agree with my opinion, I do ask that you remain respectful in your approach. Part of veganism is respect for fellow beings, human and non-human.

Happy trails!!

Current Faves

Nubian Heritage: Soaps & Deodorant
Maybe a year or two ago, I saw a newish brand of body care at the “holistic” pharmacy in town. I was looking for something to help exfoliate my feet. It was summer time and I’m wearing flip-flops. Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap seemed as though it was the best choice. And, boy, was it ever!? Lately, I’ve gotten back into using bar soaps instead of shower gels. I’m about to break open the Coconut & Papaya bar (a golden standard in my life). Earlier this year, I noticed that the brand came out with deodorant. As I love the smell of their Coconut & Papaya products, I got a C&P stick. I absolutely love it! Sure, it is just a deodorant, so my underarms still get moist. But, I smell good throughout the day, and the smell isn’t overwhelming. The other day, I bought a fresh stick, but in their African Black Soap variety. I’m going to test it out this week and see how the smell works.

Rocksbox
After browsing Beauty By Britanie, I noticed a little ad banner on her page. I’ve been trying to spruce up my jewelry game (hence the chloe+isabel gig). I was tempted to click on the ad, because who doesn’t want to try out new jewelry for a month? How Rocksbox works is that you sign up, take a style quiz, and, if you have time, browse some jewelry & add pieces to a wishlist. The quiz & wishlist both help their stylists choose what to send in each box. Once you get a box, you can keep the jewelry as long or as little as you want, send them all back or keep them all (you’ll have to pay for them if you want to keep them). If you purchase all the pieces, Rocksbox will just send you a new box of jewelry to try. I’ll be honest, this might be a dangerous new fave. I signed up on Wednesday (June 17th), received my first box on Saturday (June 19th), fell in love with the earrings that came in the box, purchased them for $17 instead of $35, and sent back the other two pieces. I’m hoping that by next Saturday, I’ll be getting my second box. YIKES! If you want to try it out for a month (for free) use the link!

Farm Sanctuary
This will be a forever favorite. If you don’t know about Gene Baur & Farm Sanctuary, you should. Even if you are an omnivore, Farm Sanctuary is a great organization for anyone with a shred of compassion and concern for the planet. With three locations (two in California, one in New York), Farm Sanctuary takes in injured, stranded, sick, and/or abused animals (primarily for the “farm” variety). At each sanctuary, these animals are given the chance to heal and live a happy, full life. As a vegetarian with a soft spot for farm animals, I fell in love with the organization a few years ago. I got the chance to meet Gene Baur, the founder of the organization. His humbleness and kind spirit, and the fact he has personally responded to emails I have sent him, made me even more of a fan. It helps when founders/CEOs are down to earth and live the essence and core of their organizations. If you get a chance, please read Gene’s books (Farm Sanctuary and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life). And, if you ever find yourself in Orland (CA), Los Angeles (CA), or Watkins Glen (NY), I highly suggest you take a tour of one of the Sanctuaries.

What’s In My Bag: College Edition

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a few months shy of an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies. I spend a lot of my week reading cases, writing briefs, and carting my life between home, work, and school. I have a tendency to live out of a backpack or large bag. Ever since I’ve needed to have my computer with me most days, life is a lot easier with a bag that’ll haul it around safely.

I’m currently using a Western Pack backpack, one that I’ve used for year. It’s got enough sections to make storing things easy and efficient. And, the part that is against my back is padded, which allows a bit of safety for my computer.

So, what do I have stowed in my bag?

The simplest items are my keyring and my wallet. It has a fob with a Shakespeare quote, my front door key, my car key, and a key for the lock I use at the gym. I recently downsized my keyring and am so happy I have done so! I’ve been reprimanded for not using a wallet, so I’ve forced myself to use one. Sure, I can see why it’s safer, but it still drives me crazy. Being the tomboy that I am, I usually like just carrying one card, my license, and a few dollars.

My parents were amazing and got me an iPad air for Christmas. I didn’t think I’d love it, but I do. This awesome device goes with me most places. I love having it accessible in case of waiting moments. I have a few books stored on it, a couple magazine subscriptions, and some Mr. Selfridge episodes. This makes travel time seem less tedious. Also, it’s great when I’m at the gym and opt to workout on the elliptical or bike instead of run.

Of course, my iPhone 5c is in there. Honestly, I miss the days of simple cell phones and wish I never made the smartphone leap. I do love the fact that smartphones are a lifestyle efficiency tool, and it’s great to have access to, what seems, the entire world at the tap of a finger. With that, I have a USB cord & USB wall adaptor. Usually, I have an external battery, but it is at home due to being charged earlier today.

Of course, I have my iPod with me. On lunch breaks, at the gym, walking places, doing chores; these are all times I love listening to music or podcasts. I feel engaged when I’m listening to good music or a funny podcast. I also love informative podcasts, too. Having my iPod accessible gives me the chance to feel engaged in the world, even when it is just me.

Depending on the quarter, I can be on campus anywhere from 7 hours to 11 hours per day. I’m not a huge fan of school cafeteria food, especially as I am a vegetarian. My options are limited and usually to dodgy looking salads and french fries. So, I like to keep some sort of small, nutritionally dense snack on hand. I’m addicted to salty cashews. Today, I’ve got a small bag of cashews waiting to be eaten when that 4.45pm slump hits.

Stemming from a few years of school in England, I’ve always been in the habit of using a pencil case. I still like to switch mine up every year or so and do have a couple going at all times. Right now, I have an illustrated one with cat faces on it. (Yes, I’m a proud cat lady.) In it, there are a plethora of ball point pens, mechanical pencils, a couple sharpies, and some paper clips. And, I have a mini leatherman in there, too. It’s come in handy quite a few times.

I keep forgetting that I have two fragrance rollerballs in my backpack, and am always happily surprised when I see them. The ones I have are Bobbi Brown’s Beach fragrance and LaVanila’s Vanilla Summer fragrance. As you might be able to gather, I like warmer fragrances. I always love any fragrance that has vanilla, coconut, pineapple, and even notes of Coppertone Water Babies SPF in it. Bobbi Brown’s Beach reminds me of being a child and being slathered in Water Babies.

Of course, I have two spiral bound notebooks. I always have something ready to take notes in while at school. I’m old school and learn better if I actually write lecture notes down. Typing has never proved an efficient way for me to truly retain information. At home, I do have a stack of partially used spiral notebooks and I definitely need to organize them. So, the notebooks I have in my bag are leftovers from last quarter, and I am determined to use them up. I have promised myself I won’t buy any more until I’ve used up the ones I have.

Speaking of spiral bound notebooks, I have my journal in my backpack. I’ve been working on this journal for five years and have a bad habit of going through phases of writing almost everyday to months of not writing, hence the fact I’ve been using the same one for five years. I like to keep it with me at all times, though. I’m not a fan of snooping eyes. I’m open with plenty of things, but my journal is for things I need to release without sharing with anyone else.

I do have a book in my backpack that has nothing to do with school. It is a book that I keep wanting to check out every time I go to the local library. Who knows if I’ll get around to reading it before it’s due, but I have it with me in case I am compelled to. It is Locas by Yxta Maya Murray. This book takes a look at Mexican women involved in gang life in East Los Angeles. First and foremost, I am actively trying to learn Spanish & am interested in working with immigrants from Latin America. So, this is one of many books that should be included in my learning process. I always love reading stories told from the female perspective, and as this is a life I am not familiar with, I hope this will be an enlightening read.

Lastly, I have five empty Lush Fresh Face Mask pots. They have been sitting on my desk for awhile, just waiting to be returned in exchange for a new mask. If we are let out of class early enough tonight, I am going to try and go get one. I want to try their Cupcake mask, but fear that I won’t use it very often, as I’ll only use it across my nose & cheeks. I might stick with Oatifix, as I know I like it and it’s easy to use.

What’s in your bag? Do you have three separate bags you constantly use? Soon, I’ll be doing a What’s in My Gym Bag post & What’s In My Purse post. Be on the lookout!

Beautiful Smile


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I’m going to be completely honest right now. I am routinely forgetful about brushing my teeth twice a day. I know, gross, right? Luckily, I’m not prone to horrific breath due to the fact I keep well hydrated, I’ve sworn off cigarettes, and I don’t eat meat. Also, I am partial to mint, green, and white tea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I go a week without brushing. But, I’ve grown out of my obsessive need to brush three times a day.

I’m currently in the process of getting rid of any dental care products with fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate. This switch is fun, although a bit challenging. Finding “alternative” products that taste good and work has been interesting.

Right now, I’m loving Jason Sea Fresh toothpaste. Not super minty, but it cleans my teeth very well. And, a plus is that it has blue green algae and calcium carbonate to help protect the natural enamel. I’ve only had one cavity in my life, and it was a baby tooth. My adult teeth are cavity free (I’m the only person in my family who has cavity free teeth!), so I’ll do anything to keep my teeth that way. he toothpaste also has parsley, which is a common bad breath neutralizer. I keep some of Lush Cosmetics’ Toothy Tabs in my school & work bag, in case I end up eating something garlic or onion laden. My favorite ones are Chou Chou and Dirty. These are handy to have when you are on the go and especially if you are traveling. They are dry, so they can come on a plane with you. Who wants to be left stranded without a way to brush your teeth? The toothbrush I currently use is by Preserve. They are a great brand that has a wonderful recycling program. I hate throwing away toothbrushes, yet can’t quite get on board with an electronic brush.

As far as mouthwash goes, I used Crest for awhile. Again, in an attempt to clean up my oral hygiene, I’ve switched over to something considered more “natural”: The Natural Dentist Healthy Balance Rinse. I’m obsessed with this. It’s Peppermint Sage and tastes so fresh! Peppermint is just a great breath freshener and sage is a very mild antiseptic/astringent agent. (Here’s some basic research on sage.) This rinse also has Xylitol, a sugar alcohol sweetener that has been studied to help prevent tooth decay. Instead of being a “regular” sugar that bacteria likes to feed on, xylitol is non-fermentable, therefore essentially starving the bacteria and allowing for less decay and, perhaps, even a slight remineralization of the enamel. Sorry, bio-chem lesson is done! I promise! Another quick and easy mouth rinse I use is a DIY one. I’ll get an ounce of water and put in a few drops of some essential oils. The best to use are peppermint, lemon, and tea tree. The peppermint for freshness, the lemon for sweetness and antibacterial properties, and tea tree for antimicrobial/antibacterial properties. In a pinch, it gets to job done!

For the last week, I’ve been fighting off a cold. This inspired me to update my oral health routine, as our mouths can be pretty gross. And, as I mentioned, I’m not one to brush twice a day. Again, gross, I’m sorry! I was introduced to a supplement called hyperbiotics PRO-Dental.* This is a mint flavored chewable supplement that puts healthy, good bacteria at the source of bad breath, canker sores, gingivitis, and possible ear/nose/throat infections. Now, I know a cold is a virus, so probiotics can’t decrease the time of a cold. But, allowing my mouth to fight off bad bacteria and replenish it with good bacteria, I’m protecting my mouth in some manner. The recommended dosage for maintenance is to chew one pill once or twice a day after brushing/rinsing. The idea is to replenish your mouth with the good bacteria will there is a minute amount of bad bacteria in it. They have a intense repair suggestion, which I’m currently doing. They suggest you chew 2-3 tablets once or twice a day. I usually remember just to chew three tablets once a day, which is much better than nothing! It’s only been a week, so it’s too soon to tell how effective this new routine really is. One thing I have noticed is that my breath has been a lot fresher, which is unusual for me when I have a cold. I definitely suggest this to anyone who does have oral health concerns or is prone to ear/sinus/throat infections. For purchase, their site (available above) directs you to Amazon.

In another post, I’m going to talk about lip care. I’d like to share it here, but there is so much to say. For your enjoyment and my sanity, it’s best if I call it a night and write the post later this week.

Happy trails everyone! Hope you all are having a wonderful February. Remember to smile and laugh and enjoy life!

 

*This is a sponsored post powered by BrandBacker. I received the supplements free of charge to try. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Neither BrandBacker nor hyperbiotics told me what to say or how to write this post. My opinions are my own, and I will never discuss a product if I don’t believe it has merit.

Simple Night Skincare

For two decades, I’ve routinely taken care of my skin in the evening. I remember starting off with the basic Clinique system as an 11 or 12 year old, then moving on to Prescriptives. I loved the Prescriptives system I was using, and felt really special when my mother took me to the Army-Navy on the Bromley High Street when I was 12 or 13 to get it. By the time I was in high school, I soon switched to a hodgepodge of skincare products, still making sure my face was clean and hydrated in the evening.

Now that I’m in my 30’s and have spent the last ten years working in the beauty industry, the one thing that has remained constant is that same kind of nightly skincare ritual. The removal of makeup, cleansing my skin, and hydrating it is very refreshing and peaceful.

I don’t do too much skincare in the morning; I just rinse with water and put some moisturizer on. So, in the evening I stick to a few key products and add makeup remover if makeup was worn that day.

The first step, if I wear makeup, is to remove all traces of the makeup. I’ll start by removing my eye makeup with Aveda’s eye makeup remover. This one is great for me. I don’t like dual-phase removers, but I need to be able to remove waterproof makeup, and this does the trick! Next, I remove the rest of my makeup (foundation, blush, etc.). I switch between Ren’s Purity Cleansing Balm and Nude’s Cleansing Oil. Both are amazing for removing every last bit. They both are massaged onto dry skin for ~30 seconds, then emulsified with some warm water, then either rinsed off or removed with a muslin cloth or washcloth. I always remove with a cloth of some sort to ensure total removal of makeup.

Next, I cleanse my skin. Right now, I am in love with Origins’ Never A Dull Moment cleanser. In the last few years, I have been wary of foaming gel cleansers, as quite a few of them can be drying. But, this cleanser is amazing. Although it is suggested for combo & oily skin types (I have dry skin), this cleanser doesn’t dry me out. It has papaya extract in it, which helps dissolve some of the dry skin lurking, as well as decongests my pores. Even though my skin is dry, I still have blackheads that I’ve been struggling to minimize. Some nights, I use it with my Clarisonic Mia2 and either a deep pore cleansing head or a cashmere cleanse head. Other nights, I just use it by itself.

Next is some toning water. In a bottle I mix Lush Cosmetics’ Eau Roma and Tea Tree Toners, then spray the concoction directly on my face. The Tea Tree is for my pores and the Eau Roma is for my dryness. I pat it into my skin, then let any residual moisture to dry.

Now my skin is prepped for treatments and moisture. The serum I am using right now is Ren’s Radiance Perfecting Serum. It is designed for uneven skin tone, redness, and hyper pigmentation. As it is hydroquinone free, I have never expected it to get rid of my sun damage. But, I have noticed that it does really help with my redness and some scarring I have around my chin from a combination of not diluting pure tea tree enough and a later rash I got from a prolonged overheated environment I was exposed to. As my skin is on the dryer side, this serum sinks right in. If you are looking for a hydrating serum that evens everything out, this is a great choice.

For my eyes, I am using this wonderful treatment I just discovered a couple weeks ago. I’ve never been a fan of really heavy eye creams or treatments, so anything in a gel or serum consistency is ideal. For the last two weeks, I have been using Radha Beauty’s Intensive Youth Eye Gel. Because of the light consistency, I actually want to put this eye treatment on. I pump a little out on my ring fingers and warm it up, then I tap it around both eyes, including eyelids. A huge selling point for me is that this brand is cruelty free. Who doesn’t love cruelty free!? This eye gel is chock full of wonderful, nourishing ingredients, such as (vegan) hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. It is lovely how hydrating this gel actually is. With any skincare, I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect this eye gel to keep my eye area hydrated.*

Lastly, I pop some moisturizer on. I’ve been using Ren’s V-Cence Day Cream. Even though it says it is a day cream, it doesn’t have any SPF, so it works as a moisturizer for any time of day or night. This cream is for all skin types and is designed to keep the skin supple and even. Ren is known for using quality ingredients and not diluting its products with water. This cream is full of nourishing fruit & seed oils and butters that my dry skin appreciates. Because of the synergistic blend of ingredients, it never feels heavy on my skin and absorbs very quickly. Half a pump of this moisturizer is perfect for my entire face and neck. If I’m feeling particularly dry, I might add a little more.

This has been my routine for the past few months. I did run out of eye treatment and went without it for awhile, so it has been a pleasure to start using a treatment again. Especially as I am prone to smiling and laughing a lot. Any way to protect those laugh lines!!

 

*As per the FTC Guidelines, this sponsored post is powered by BrandBacker. I received the eye treatment as a free trial. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Please note that I will only ever accept products that are in line with my lifestyle and I will only discuss products I actually enjoy. Thank you!