Monday, December 21, 2015

Interview | Laura's Natural Life

Oh my gosh. Finals are over are I can breathe a little + resume to working on several things that fulfill my heart and passion. This semester was very rigorous and required a lot of studying, most of which was done online and watching videos for some courses. Through this (and perhaps slightly procrastination) I fell into the vortex of Youtube and while sifting through videos of pugs, planners, & seasonal-themes ones I found Laura's Natural Life channel.

Laura creates daily video content on natural & non toxic beauty, health-based & nutrition advice and overall treat-yourself energy. She holds a Master's of Science in Health & Nutrition Education, so she is educated and well versed as well as rigorously tries out any product she posts about, sharing only her honest thoughts.

While sifting through her various videos I came across an article she did on overcoming/living with Lyme Disease. From there I felt provoked to reach out to her for her story. I admire her cheerfulness, her radiant personality & thirst for wellness (in which she is educated in). Her videos are based on empowering, educating, & being honest with yourself. Through social media you don't know someone's own personal life, struggles & stories. For me, health & wellness had been a big issue until I began learning + listening to my body and making responsible choices, which is not to say wellness is about limiting or restricting - its about balance. & everyone is different.

I am so thankful to Laura for contributing her story & advice. I only wish I could have had this interview with her over peppermint hot cocoa & gingerbread cake.

Who are you + What do you do?

My name is Laura, but most people know me from Laura's Natural Life. I am a YouTuber, but I just recently launched where I will also be creating written content. I have a Master's Degree in Health & Nutrition Education and worked in the Holistic Healthcare Industry for three years gaining valuable experience. My mission is to educate women to listen to their bodies, wade through all the conflicting health information on the internet and feel confident to make the healthiest choices for themselves. I'm also a green beauty addict and love to share my new favorite products and looks with all of you!

How has Lyme affected your life & lead to creating your Youtube Channel, Laura’s Natural Life

Though I do have Lyme, I also suffer from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome - a lesser known condition often referred to as Mold Illness, so I have very poor detoxification pathways. When I was at my sickest, it was all I could do to go to work for about 5 hours, 4 days a week and then come home and rest for the remainder of the day. During this time, I began researching green beauty products and looking up reviews via YouTube. I had no idea that YouTube had more than cat videos at the time and instantly became enamored with this cross between blogging and actual reality TV. I just felt like it was something that I HAD to do. It took me another year or so to actually start my channel!

What are some of your lifestyle philosophies?

As I am extremely sensitive to chemicals and anything with fragrance, my house is a toxin free zone! I only buy the cleanest personal care products including laundry detergents, makeup, skincare, shower products, etc. I clean with vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and essential oils. I also highly value balance. Being chronically ill and having under functioning adrenals means that I get burnt out quite easily. I really make rest and relaxation a priority, as well as activities that I enjoy. Eating healthy is an absolute must. I believe that natural is always the best starting place.

 Optimal nutrition is a basic necessity that's often overlooked. Off from that there's homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, cranialsacral therapy, chiropractic care, naturopathic doctors, functional medicine practitioners and more. I certainly feel that Western Medicine has its place, but I prefer to be treated by a practitioner who believes that the whole body is connected and not just a specialist for one part. I believe that health is more than just physical. Health encompasses the emotions, the thoughts, and the spiritual well-being. When one element is out of whack, it always impacts the others.

Top 5 favorite foods & treats for beauty and wellness

Oh great question! In no particular order:

1. Parsley is a great, fresh herb to throw in smoothies. It makes everything taste fresh, makes your breath smell great and helps to support your liver, which aids in detoxification. When detoxification is aided, the skin typically clears.

2. Avocado. Essential Fatty Acids found in foods like avocado, nuts, seed oils and coconut oil are crucial for health. They are key in increasing immunity and ingesting them helps to improve the skin, as well.

3. Green Smoothies/Drinks because sometimes salads take a lot of chewing. They're a super fast way to get a lot of nutrients and take no skill whatsoever to make.

4. Grapefruit, simply because I am obsessed with grapefruit. Lemons & Limes are a close second when enjoyed in water

5. Dark Chocolate because it releases endorphins and smile on a women is always beautiful

What can we expect in the future from Youtube?

I produce on average six videos each month - a new video every tuesday and two fridays each month. Each month you will find a monthly makeup tutorial, a roundup of my monthly favorites including beauty products, lifestyle products and books, and an episode of The Healthy Girl's Guide. The other three videos are completely random and may include hauls, or green beauty reviews or my personal routines. The Healthy Girl's Guide is a series in which I take a health topic and break down the basics for you - so far you can watch my videos on Detoxification and Immunity.

Are you an avid reader? What are your favorite books/recommendations?

Yes, I was definitely that nerdy girl in middle school reading in the corner. Ok, I am still that girl.

Health Books:
Tox-Sick by Suzanne Somers is a MUST read for everyone, in my opinion.
Mold Warriors by Dr. Richie Shoemaker. If you feel like you have a mystery illness, or if you know you have mold concerns- read this book. You will find so much clarity and support.
Detoxify or Die by Dr. Sherry Rogers - THE handbook for detoxification

As for Leisure, I am a shameless Young Adult lover. Some of my favorites include:

The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty (an absolutely hilarious coming of age series, with my personal favorite fictional boy)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Swoon)
Everything by Robin Benway - Audrey, Wait! Is my favorite. Hilarious.
If you prefer heart-wrenching tales, check out Jessi Kirby's books, especially Golden.

Now that we are entering the colder, dryer and perhaps in some parts humid weather, what can you recommend to keep our immune system and outer beauty safe & nourished?

I swear by Vitamin D3! Since I started taking this vitamin religiously, it has increased my immunity so much. There are studies out of Canada which imply that optimizing Vit. D levels may decrease risk of cancer by nearly 70%! I have a video on this here. Since it is fat-soluble, it is important to have your blood check periodically to make sure you aren't accumulating too much over time.

Also, decreasing sugar intake is crucial. Here's a video on how to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season! How to Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season // The Healthy Girl's Guide

For those who are not in-the-know of natural Youtube bloggers, who are some of your favorites to follow & watch?

Oh man, there are so many lovely ladies out there! If you are looking for green beauty girls, I never miss a video from The Green Bunny, Aesthetika, ErikaSummers22, Teri Miyahira, and Holistic Habits. For health related topics, I love the old HealthTalksTV (no longer made), my friend Aviva Peltin, and Dr. Axe!

What are/is a charity/ies you support?

I support CareNet Pregnancy Center & our local Hospice Care. My husband and I have both had loved ones who have spent their last days in hospice and we couldn't have asked for more caring people to entrust our loved ones too.

What makes you happy + How do you unwind?

My dog, Tedford!!! I swear, even if I'm in the worst mood that guy makes me laugh. He has an enormous personality. Takes after his mom! I also use a Far Infrared Sauna religiously and take detox baths. I watch a lot of Netflix and Youtube. I try to meditate and get in yoga sessions when I can, but if I'm being honest, I could be better with these. I'm only human!

What are 5 things we can do to bring wellness into our lives?

1. Detox! I have two videos on Detox to help you out:

Take Control of Your Health Through Detox / The Healthy Girl's Guide

My Favorite Detox Methods/ The Healthy Girl's Guide

2. Decrease caffeine and sugar intake.

3. Get adequate sleep - try to go to bed by 10:30 every night!

4. Cultivate Positive Mental Talk

5. Figure out your best balance

Dream Vision Board: What would your ideal day consist of?

Wake up when my body wants to, not from an alarm around 8am. Have a delicious breakfast including fruit, eggs, bacon and tea magically appear. Spend at least an hour applying makeup and playing with new products. I'm going to assume that on my ideal day, there is beautiful weather and I could go paddleboarding, or soak up the sun near the water. Play with my Dog. Cuddle with my husband. Eat phenomenal food that makes me feel great. Just enjoy the little things :)

Words you live by?

"Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life message and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts." Rick Warren

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Honestly, I don't know. My life has turned out so differently than I thought it would when I was 18, that I don't always like to plan for the future and rather be surprised by the great things that happen! I hope that I continue to become healthier and can help others feel healthier as well. I hope to still be cuddling my dog and my husband every night. I hope that I can make amazing videos with a higher production value and take fabulous vacations.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ethical & Sustainable Beauty | Wellness | Pet Holiday Gift Guide

So this Holiday Gift Guide is a little late but better late than never right?! This year I wanted to feature products + shops that are of course natural but also sustainable, cruelty free and in particular no palm-oil use, or little to no use of it. 

The overproduction and unregulated use of palm oil has a led to deforestation + loss of habitat in  Indonesia, however as consumers we can support and shop from amazing brands that do not contribute or use palm and focus on environmentally friendly products! For some of these companies I wrote about why they go above and beyond to create lasting effective products and give back to communities.

But the holidays are meant to be fun, and I like to pick out beautiful Winter gift choices that are thoughtfully crafted and will make any recipient (or yourself...) happy!! All products featured here I have bought & used (with the exception of the True Balm which was sent by my partners at the Detox Market) therefore they have tested and used. Some of these would make great stocking stuffers or little handmade theme gift boxes (which is something I did this season!)

non-toxic, palm-free wellness christmas gifts

Pacifica is a wonderful company who is also committing to using no palm-oil in their product. Along with creating vegan & cruelty free beauty & lifestyle products they care about the environment using recyclable materials and incorporating zero-waste standards.

Pacifica Natural Soy Candle in Mexican Hot Chocolate | I remember going into a Whole Foods looking for candles and came across this one, it smells so decadent - exactly like a hot-cocoa with warming spices. I can't get enough, this is probably my favorite cold-weather candle its perfect for any candle-lover or foodies (because it smells so good!) / Pacifica Island Vanilla Natural Soap | Y'all I am a sucker for vanilla & this soap should have been named Tahitian Vanilla because thats what it smells like, its a beautiful amber color and also has jasmine, it is vegan & cruelty free *A Portion of proceeds from all Island Vanilla sales goes to the Ocean Futures Society, a nonprofit marine conservation organization.

Andalou Naturals is an amazing company who choose ingredients that are Non-GMO, Cruelty-Free, Gluten-Free, Certified Organic, Fair Trade, Vegetarian & Vegan. If they ever use a palm oil (which I haven't found in any of the products I own or on their site) it must be sustainably sourced. They use fruit-stem cells & work with many charities (read more here) including Vital Voices and SHE CAN.
If you know anyone who loves beauty & would like to introduce them to more natural based products (the skin is the largest organ, treat it well!) These cleansers are is a great start off and would also make a sweet stocking stuffer.

Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon Creamy Cleanser For Normal & Combination Skin. | This is a vegetarian (contains manuka honey) cleanser for those who have surface pigmentation, uneven tone, and dark spots caused by sun damage. Contains lemon, sea buckthorn & white tea. /
Andalou Naturals1000 Roses Cleansing Foam for Delicate & Dry Skin. | This is a magical product that utilizes fruit stem cells along with purely plant based ingredients to cleanse + soothe the skin. Contains hyaluronic acid & aloe vera.

non-toxic, palm-free beauty christmas gifts

Copper & Kraft Soy Candle in Pumpkin Chai & Sea Salt Caramel | These candles are made using natural soy wax, lead-free cotton wicks, phthalate free fragrance oils and no dyes. Y'all, no lie I spent most of autumn buying a lot of candles & wax tarts from this shop. These do not have any paraffin wax and if you know someone who likes the Bath & Body Work candles these are a natural alternative that smell amazing and come in a variety of scents. They now come in a variety of sizes!
Eco Tools Kabuki Retractable Brush | This is an amazing cruelty free brush that is so soft, free of parabens & phthalates. It comes with a pouch (I lost mine though!) and its extremely effective + good for travel!

HoneyBee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder in Luminous* | I love this powder, and its the first powder I have used (because the drugstore stuff I used as a preteen doesn't count) I use it with the eco tools and its not "powdery" which was my initial fear. It covers my light freckles. HoneyBee gardens is cruelty free, gluten free & fragrance free & vegan.

*This product contains a palm oil derivative & I have emailed HoneyBee Gardens on future palm use and I will update this when I know.

Purple Prairie BotanicaSunStick SPF 30 | A friend of mine, Sophie, had posted an article on how many sunscreens contains chemicals such as oxybenzone & parabens contribute to coral reef damage(read more here, here & here) So I began searching for sunblocks that do not contribute to this. This Purple Prairie SunStick SPF sunblock is vegetarian (contains beeswax) natural & moisturizing thanks to shea & cocoa butter,  it must be applied ever 2 hours but it doesnt leave any white residue & its safe for kids. The company maintains rigid standards for sunscreen allowed in the protected coral reef lagoons of Mexico.

True Organic of Sweden All You Need Is Me Lotion | I received this lotion a few months ago through the Detox Market and its been a life saver because L.A. has very, very dry weather and I have felt the circumstances of it through my skin. this vegetarian balm protects the skin against weather & wind, irritation, relieves minor sunburn, whitens and reduces age spots can be used anywhere topically.

bobby & bambi grain-free organic dog holiday treats

Oh Mimi, you got your Holiday gift a little earlier. for the puppies, I like the Bobby & Bambi  Holiday Shop. The cookies featuring the Gingerbread Man are on Amazon & I got the Holiday Biscuits which I also got are still up for grabs and feature the new apple + kale w/ mint biscuits. My dogs LOVE these treats. Especially Mimi, and their other pet goodies are wonderfully made with organic, human grade, grain free they are & vegetarian!

Though not featured...and not for pets!, another animal friendly company is Grounds & Hounds who make amazing coffee and donate proceeds to no-kill animal shelters & rescues.

Well there you have it! Do you use any of these products? I also have some gift items in my shop and a coupon for 10% with the code READER. I hope everyone has a great winter season no matter how you celebrate. Stay warm!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Don't just be good to others, be good to yourself too."

It took a few months in for Los Angeles to experience the cool weather we have been longing for, minus the rainfall. So Fall has been a living in warm layers, countless cups of coffee (with pumpkin syrup & coconut milk creamer), old films & fireplaces, wistful dreams and a autumnal motivation to pursue and chase your dreams.

I think theres a certain alchemy to dreams. Perhaps I have written about this before but I believe in pursuing and creating whatever we wish to create. Motivation (can) take effort, invest time in what you believe in and no when to walk away. The concept of failure seems like a ghastly or debilitating concept instead of letting it show us different lessons or perceptions. The road(s) we take can change along the way. To go about a different path or look back doesn't distort our growth, it can reveal more about what we genuinely want, or no longer need.

Anyways, the season of winter is almost near. Use more blankets, burn more natural candles, laugh over cups of warmed coffee, invest in more conversations, smile at strangers. Sometimes the world can be dark or uneasy but there is strength in kindness, power in living, & wisdom in education.

mimi & a tree grows in brooklyn

halloween roses