Vegan Living 101: Personal Transformation

After deciding to do pieces on vegan living, my mother and I embarked on a weight loss journey. It is The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomory. So far, it has proved to be quite reasonable. I’m on day eight (of 28), and have lost about two or three pounds. Where I see it the most is around my chin and midsection. The most important factor is that I’m not required to forgo my quest for personal veganism. This diet is suitable for most people searching for optimal health. It’s broken into three phases per week and done for a total of four weeks. We are to eat five times a day: 3 meals & 2 snacks.

On Phase 1, we are supposed to load up on healthy, wholesome carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, barley, quinoa, brown rice and sprouted grains. Included in that is a lot of fruit. And, throughout the entire process, there is a focus on unlimited vegetables. Protein is included in two of the meals, and as a veg*n, I have to rely on lentils & legumes. These are the easiest two days for me, as I love me some grains and lentils.

Phase 2 is somewhat difficult for me, as it is protein heavy. The author (who has a BA in Animal Science & is a trained nutritionist) wants people to avoid soy for 28 days. She makes an exception for vegans on these two days, because she knows that a lot of natural vegan protein is somewhat fibre/carbohydrate dense. We are allowed edamame, tempeh, and tofu. I hate tofu, so that’s a no go. Frankly, tempeh isn’t my favorite. And edamame? That gets boring very quick. I have a couple vegan protein powders that are similar to the ones the author sells on her website. The ones I’ve found are half the price, so that helps. These two consecutive days are difficult because eating vegetables all day long can get a bit tedious. Also, drinking a protein shake that’s made with water instead of the unsweetened almond milk I usually use is not as delightful.

Phase 3 has a focus on healthy fats, such as olive & coconut oils, raw nuts & seeds, and nut butters. Again, this isn’t difficult for me. I love cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut milk, hummus… The list is endless. There is less of a focus on protein & carbohydrates, however, we start the day with a grain, have a couple pieces of fruit throughout the day, and can have an optional grain in the evening. But, frankly, I am usually pretty satisfied by the end of the day. I’d happily have a huge salad with some lentils or kidney beans topped with olive oil & lemon juice.

But, I have three more weeks, and I am doing this for the good of my body. I hope that this can train me to eat in a much more mindful and wholesome way. The logic makes sense, and a lot of what I am reading is stuff I have heard before from nutritionists and fitness buffs. It’s the practice that is the hardest. And, our bodies usually need at least four weeks to truly start to adjust to changes we make.

I do hope that in 20 days, I’ll be able to have half a cup of the So Delicious Simply Strawberry Coconut Milk ice cream waiting patiently for me in the freezer & be happy with that half cup. I hope that my body adjusts to this change and I don’t have to be so regimented, while not worrying if I’ll put on all the weight I’ve dropped.

After I complete the 28 days, I might do one more. After that, I plan on eating mindfully for 4-6 weeks, then doing a week of this, just to keep my body in check. She likens this process to cross training. This allows us to get our bodies out of a rut and get our organs working a bit better than they were. [Just a side note, I feel that this diet really should be called an internal reset, or spring cleaning for one’s health.]

Ms. Pomeroy does suggest we continue with the diet until we reach our goal weight (clothing shift, for me). After we attain our goal(s), we then maintain our metabolism & results be treating every day as it is Phase 3, but passing all allowed foods in each meal and snack. So, I could easily start the day with oatmeal & cinnamon, then have an apple & a protein shake made with almond milk as a snack. For lunch, I could have a salad filled with all the veggies & legumes I love, and for another snack I could have cucumber & cashews or some fruit. I could end my day with a wholesome meal, and feel full & happy. On days that I exercise, I’ll allow myself a tasty treat, such as my favorite ice cream. And, if I go out to eat with friends, I’ll do a Phase 2 day the next day. No one is perfect and maintaining health takes work.

I have been a fairly poor eater the last few years, not eating regularly and consistently skipping breakfast. And, I had a major relationship with Coke Zero. I still get cravings for it, but I’m happy without it. My main thing is running. I hate running with food in my stomach. This might force me to run early in the day. I’ll have an apple & almond butter half an hour before I run, then eat some oatmeal after I’m finished. This is definitely something that I feel will get my metabolism on the right track.

Anyway, I do hope I find success. I am just glad that this has pushed me head on into changing my lifestyle to be vegan. My diet has been completely vegan for 8 days. I love the way I feel, and after I get through the next three weeks, I will start putting more focus on lifestyle changes.

Working Retail

How many of you enjoy going to the mall for a few hours to shop? A large number of people do. That’s one of the reasons why malls still exist.

The thing is, people often forget that the people working at the mall aren’t all young idiots. There is a growing contingent of well-educated Gen Xers and early Millennials who lost their jobs sometime between 2008-2010 and have had a hard time finding solid, full-time employment in their chosen career field since.

Working retail is heartbreaking, and sometimes very demeaning. Especially for those who have college degrees. As we live in a world in which we need do need money to feed, clothe, and protect ourselves, well-educated people will resort to menial retail jobs while looking for full-time work. Now, there are some people who make a career of working retail. And, the last ten years, I’ve worked retail. Seven years ago, I had the hope that I’d grow within the company I work for and the possibility of growth was dangled in front of me without actual promise. That’s why I buckled down and told myself to go back to school and do something productive with my life. I felt that the act of me going back to school was taken as a sign of defeat from managers at the company I work for.

“If you want to work at corporate, why did you make yourself less available by going back to school?” and “There is no time to develop you as you’re only here two days a week. Can you change that?” Both are questions that had a simple answer of “you have had seven years to develop me, which was a constant request on my part.” Truth of the matter is that this is an entire combination of me trying too hard and getting disheartened when my hard work never paid off, and management not spending the time to truly get to know my strengths and see my hard work.

Enough about me. Let me get to the real point. As I’ve said, those of us who work retail are not idiots. Sure, you’ll come across some less than stellar people whilst out shopping. However, the majority of us are wonderful, insightful, caring people. We don’t like being treated poorly, and no, some of us can’t just quit if we hate the way customers treat us. Many retail employees, like me, are there to pay some sort of bill, whether it be student loans, a second mortgage, car insurance, rent, or tuition, etc.

The things that customers put us through is enough to make any happy, stable person cry. We would love it if every single customer that we interact with, including the awesome ones, spend a year working at our store. In fact, I am in favor of giving all of the on floor employees a month-long paid vacation and have customers man the store while we are gone. Business probably would fail, I don’t doubt that. But, it would be a great experiment and valuable lesson for everyone who shops there.

The best way to describe how we are treated (or perceived):
each sales associate is a special hybrid of two-year old from a non-English speaking country and the CEO of the company.

We are spoken to as though we have never heard a human speak before, we are constantly told we are wrong (especially when we are right), and yet, are expected to have the right answer for everything (ie. what the customer wants to hear), know every little detail about how the company as a whole works, and have the authority to change any detail about our store that hundreds of customers don’t like.

We know how our company works in a broad sense, and as well as it pertains to our store. We are able to work with what our company has given us. And, we will do our best to go above and beyond for our customers. Our company has provided us with the tools to get you the product(s) you need within reason. But, we don’t have the executive decision to knock down the nine stores within our vicinity just to carry every single SKU that the company sells. We don’t have the executive decision to start selling brands that ceased to exist a decade ago. Our backroom does not consist of a factory or lab or series of offices that our headquarters are located in. If we all had any kind of executive decision-making or say, we wouldn’t be sales associates. It’s that damn simple. If that makes sense to a ten-year old, it should make sense to a university educated 35-year-old.

And, if I have to hear “I want something that is 100% natural, organic, and not manmade” and “I need something completely chemical free” once more, I might just scream. Most of the stuff you buy that isn’t food is not 100% natural, nor is it likely to be organic. It may have been processed & put together by a machine in a sterile. Does that process of synthetically making something count as not manmade? (Answer: no.) Oh, and a very minor fact you may have missed in fourth grade chemistry: everything you know to exist on this planet has some sort of chemical structure. So, asking for something without chemicals in it is physically impossible. Stop acting as though two hydrogens and an oxygen bonded together is going to kill you.

If you are going to be rude, fine. We’d rather you not be rude to us, as that’s just unnecessary. We don’t need to be treated like idiots. Our request is simple. Please, stop assuming that we get paid enough to make magic happen. And, a smile never hurts anyone. Neither does “please” and “thank you.”

If none of this makes any sense, I have an idea. Consider yourself. Imagine spending eight hours a day having someone expect you to give them everything you own, then expect you to give them more. Imagine them never asking politely or showing the slightest shred of gratitude. Imagine being asked to explain something you understand immensely and have studied for years, then be told that everything you have said is wrong. Imagine people yelling at you for absolutely no reason. Imagine people stealing money from you. Imagine going home with swollen ankles, having to do housework of your own and caring for your own family. Imagine having to do that multiple times a week.

Working retail is not thrilling. We work hard for very little money. And, while we have plenty of fantastic customers, not a day goes by without having to deal with unpleasant people. We’ve cried because of customers. We’ve felt threatened because of customers. We’ve had to leave halfway through our shifts because of exceptionally unreasonable customers.

Be kind. Be patient. Be mindful. Be aware. And, please, for the love of all things good in this world, know that you are sharing this planet with other human beings. So, stay classy and treat others exactly how you expect others to treat you.

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.

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.

Fresh Start

Happy New Year readers!!

As I was taking a peek at my stats, it looks as though there are a very few random (or not so?) people in the world taking a peek at this blog. Many thanks go out to you! Thank you for taking the time to browse through some of my posts. I’m not sure if they were appealing at all. The fact that you took time means gallons!

As it is the start of a new year, I am feeling renewed and excited for new journeys I’ll be on over the next twelve months. I will be completing a Paralegal AA sometime between June & August. I will be running a half marathon for the second time in my life. I’ll be apartment hunting, and possibly even making a move out of California.

I’ve got plenty on my plate. Enough to keep me busy and fulfilled. So, this month, expect a few posts about wellness: skincare, exercise (gear, workouts, playlists), recipes, and other uplifting topics. I might not get to them all, but I will get one or two posts up a week.

I wish you all a fantastic 2015! May you find joy and happiness!

We All Need A Little Support

As we are nearing Hanukkah, Christmas, and a new year, the art of giving is upon us. You can’t forget the fun parties you will be attending, as well. So why not dress yourself up in some pretty jewelry? How about your girlfriends, wives, sisters, mothers, and any other amazing, fantastic person that enjoys a fantastic cocktail ring or statement necklace?

A few weeks ago, I became a chloe+isabel merchandiser. I’m finally starting to figure out my way around the company and business, enjoying the beautiful pieces I’ve started myself off with. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this jewelry as much as I do, seeing that I don’t exude femininity.

It’s been a few years since I’ve lavished myself in jewelry. I went from having about nine or ten piercings in my ears a few years ago to not wearing any earrings at all. It’d be a big deal if I got a ring or a dainty necklace on. Now that I am working as a merchandiser, I’m finally embracing my femininity again! Almost every day, I’ve got on a ring & earrings or earrings & a necklace or a necklace & a ring. When I do put on some jewelry, I feel special. Everyone should! Woman, man, child, adult. Jewelry helps us feel like we are making a statement about ourselves. It helps tell our story.

My dear readers, I am asking, oh so gratefully, for you to check out my online boutique. If you are compelled to purchase an item (or a few), I really appreciate it! Buy yourself something you are drawn to. Get a gift for someone you want to see smile. Go with love!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. And, if you do take a peek at the boutique (and even purchase something), I am forever grateful! By supporting me through my chloe+isabel boutique, you are supporting this blog and many posts to come!

Sweatin’ My Way To Happiness

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll keep mentioning it: I ran my first half marathon 13 months ago. This past year has been somewhat overwhelming and I’m sad that I didn’t participate in another run. The plan was to do the same one again. Due to school, the loss of my beloved Pushkin, and that wave of depression that took over for a few months, I put aside my overall health.

The idea of running an entire 13.1 miles (i.e.. only slowing down to drink some water, no walking whatsoever, etc.) has been lingering in the back of my mind. I’ve decided that because I love the idea of getting out of the Bay Area, I will use the Portland R&R half marathon on mid-May as an amazing excuse to get out of town. This trip will be a completely positive one.

I have six months to train for this half marathon. Six solid months of getting to the gym, hitting hiking trails, eating well, and taking honest care of my body. Setting this goal for myself is exactly what I need. There is no “I must drop 50lbs and/or four dress sizes,” just a simple goal of exercising, eating well, and being mentally prepared to run for 13.1 miles.

A week ago, I started back at my gym, spending at least 45 minutes on the treadmill. As I haven’t really run much this past year, I’m starting slow and easy, walking between 3.6-3.8 miles per hour and varying the incline. The regular cardio will help my muscles and heart ease into the action of running. I am also very mindful to do strength training as well. Having strong muscles, a strong heart, and strong lungs will make training a breeze.

My plan for the next one and a half/two months is to stick to 45-65 minutes on the treadmill, varying the speed and incline, easing the running into it. By January, I hope to do two or three consistent 2-5 mile runs per week. Also, by then, I hope to have a good strength training program down, doing it once or twice a week.

Nutrition is a huge deal. Much like exercise, what I eat will instantaneously determine how I feel, as well as determining how an entire day, week, or month will turn out. I am back to being more mindful what I am putting into my body. The way I see it, I should put into my body what I expect it to put out. The more colorful, tasty, enticing, enriching the food, the more stable energy I will have. My body will be able to rebuild itself more appropriately with the proper fuel. And, there is no point in hopping on a treadmill for two or three hours a week if I’m not going to eat the right food. I have to remind myself that the worse I eat, the longer I have to exercise. And that time spent chugging away at tedious exercise could be spent at a dance class or on a bike ride or outside hiking with friends.

Come May, I hope to be a positively different person. I am not going to put any pressure on myself to “succeed” at this half marathon. If I run the entire way, AMAZING! If I get to a point where I have to walk a mile, that’s still great. As long as I cross that finish line, I’m happy. It is the journey I am taking right now that is the most important. It is all about the happiness and positive shift I am creating within myself.

Dear readers, what are some healthy things you like? It could be a healthy dish, a form of exercise, an event you like to attend. Please share!

Sunday Skin Favourites: Wallet Friendly Masks!

As you know, in my last post, I raved about GlamGlow’s Thirstymud Mask. I’m still obsessed, even though the mothball scent is starting to occur. Surely that means it’s starting to turn. Right? Whatever the case, I think it is pretty awesome, despite the smell change. When I wrote the post about Thirstymud, I was so tired that I couldn’t focus on writing much more. I did want to talk about all of my favorite masks and promised myself that I would write a post about them.

First, I should clarify what kind of skin I have: dry, sun damaged, mildly sensitive, with blackhead issues on my nose. Also, I do get the very occasional hormonal breakout (so annoying as my skin is dry). In an effort to take care of my skin, the products I like to use are generally in the hydrating, calming, soothing, brightening, and occasional exfoliation realm. Therefore, the products I use frequently and love are not suitable for everyone.

The masks I have been obsessed with lately are:

  1. Lush Cosmetics Oatifix ($6.95)
  2. Lush Cosmetics Catastrophe Cosmetics ($6.95)
  3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (ranges from $3.99-$5.99)

For those of you who don’t know, Lush Cosmetics makes masks completely preservative free, called Fresh Face Masks. Every week, each store is shipped small batches of these masks and they are kept in a small refrigerator. Those of us who are obsessed with these masks know the day of shipment, so that’s when you’ll find us at or local Lush. I generally shop at the two South Bay locations: Valley Fair & Oakridge malls. Their delivery day is Thursday. For a long time, I really wanted to try them, but I always seemed to go to Lush on a Wednesday. Of course, no fresh face masks left! Finally, I went in one Thursday & decided to purchase a mask. The first one I purchased was Catastrophe Cosmetic, then a week later, I bought Oatifix. Ever since, I’ve been totally in love. Another fun fact about Lush is their recycling program. Pretty much all of their packaging is recyclable. So, if you bring in 5 clean, empty pots (make sure it has a recycle marker on it), you can get a Fresh Face Mask for free! I was able to get a new pot of Oatifix on Thursday, which allowed me to splurge on a Catastrophe Cosmetic & some leave in hair treatment.

Oatifix is a blend of oatmeal, bananas, kaolin, ground almonds, illipe butter, and some essential oils & other ingredients. I have a feeling I can make a duplicate of this at home & get pretty much the same results. At $6.95, I don’t mind buying a tub of it every few weeks. The main purpose of this mask is to hydrate & calm the skin, so it is ideal for normal to dry skin, especially anyone with a sunburn! Two consecutive Sundays, I managed to burn my face. Oooops! This helped, at least, soothe the skin and add a bit of hydration to the raw skin I had left of my face.

Catastrophe Cosmetic is another great mask for soothing irritated, angry skin. Its main ingredients are calamine powder, irish moss, and blueberries. We know how wonderful calamine is for bug bites, poison oak & ivy, and other topical rashes. Irish moss is a great hydrating and calming agent. Blueberries are little antioxidant powerhouses. Another great ingredient is Blue Chamomile, which is commonly used topically for irritated, sensitive skin. Between this & Oatifix, my skin has been able to heal itself, even just superficially. (I am well aware of the deep damage the sunburn has done to my skin & there is not a lot of repair that can be done.) This mask is great for all skin types, from super dry to insanely oily. It does have some kaolin in there, which helps draw out impurities without stripping the skin.

All Lush Fresh Face Masks are left on the skin approximately 5-10 minutes. You can leave them on longer, but I find that 10 minutes does the job. Enough time to make a cup of tea and get my bed ready for cozy time.

Finally, let’s talk about Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. If you live anywhere in the US, you must have seen this at some point in your life. Most of us have been in a CVS, Longs, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, etc. We’ve grabbed toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion, soap, shower gel, or any other hygiene necessities at some point in our lives. Therefore, by default, we have seen the ultimate drugstore staple: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. And, quite a few of us have used it in the past, currently use it, and/or call it a staple. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me break it down. It is a simple clay mask that is targeted for clarifying the skin, whether it be acne, blackheads, or plain old oily skin. It has the added benefit of being minty fresh. As I mentioned before, I have dry skin. So, why would someone like me use a mask like this? Because, people with dry skin get breakouts and blackheads too! Also, clay isn’t bad for dry skin. It can be very healing on any skin. I use this frequently on my nose and leave it on overnight. Once a week I’ll use it all over & simply rinse it off once it is dry. This also serves as a great pimple fighter when I get hormonal breakouts.

There are other amazing masks that are cost effective. But, these three are my favorites & the ones I use most regularly. Freeman, as many people know, make some great inexpensive masks. Anyone born in the 70s & 80s are surely Freeman savvy. Also, I do use some expensive ones as well, but not as frequently, and have mentioned the two I love before: GlamGlow Thirstymud & Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I hope this can inspire some of you to try Lush & their Fresh Face Masks. They have quite a few options for many different concerns. They also have vegan options!! Both masks I mentioned are vegan, which is a huge bonus for me. And, Lush is very much anti-animal cruelty, so you are supporting a positive, supportive, worldly company by purchasing from them.

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! Stay hydrated & protected! And, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your winter!

Take Time

Day three of my self imposed challenge! I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t log in today. I started thinking about social media and our need to be virtually connected all the time. The idea that Facebook plays a huge role in many lives across the US is quite daunting.

I’ve decided that after this “blog every day for a month” challenge is over, I’d like to try getting on to Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress only once a week for a month and using more traditional sources for communication and obtaining pressing news. Six out of the seven days, I plan on reading a newspaper, watching the news on TV (a fond memory I have of first moving to California: listening to KTVU/FOX 2 10 o’clock news from my bedroom), calling and texting my friends, and listening to NPR/KQED. I’ll be honest, I might not stick to that, but I am going to try. I’d love to get back to basics and enjoy my 30’s like my parents did. They survived very well and with immense joy without social media, computers, the internet, and smart phones. They did really well with land line phones, basic TV, newspapers, radios, and a great community of friends. I feel that I will be able to cultivate more honest relationships if I am able to distance myself from the virtual networks I am completely immersed in.

How do you feel about Social Media and Social Networking? How often do you find yourself checking Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.? Would you happily take a week vacation without internet access, a computer, or a cell phone?

Gratitude Is Glorious

Happy Treat Yourself Thursday!

Oh Rainn Wilson, thank you for creating SoulPancake.

Everyone, in this new year, please take lead here and have a little grace and gratitude in your life. A simple thank you with a smile goes a very long way. We all enjoy a little appreciation once in awhile. Thank the cashier who rang you up for your cup of coffee, then thank the barista who made it. Thank your body for keeping you alive for one more day. Thank your family members who show you love and support.

We often forget to take two seconds to express gratitude, but our brains our wired to feel happier when we say thank you (not to mention being thanked).

Who do you appreciate the most? Why?
Comment below… Then tell that person how much you appreciate them!