Thursday, 31 January 2013

Grievances and Great Art

Small rant time: 

I cannot possibly be the only person in the blogging world who is tired of seeing posts about Alt Design Summit. I live in SLC, and I still don't care about these recaps. If you're going to post on the same topic as everyone else who attended, at least make your content original and informative to your readers (I didn't go to Alt myself, but I'm pretty sure that those themes would've been prevalent in the conference--so it's ironic to me that all these bloggers are posting on the same. exact. shit.). If I have to read one more sentence about the 'importance of a media kit' with no information on why it is important or what to include, I may scream.*

End rant.

On a MUCH more positive note, my super-cool brother alerted me to the presence of an awesome artist whose work I had never seen before (something that's difficult to achieve in our Pinterest-crazy world-which I admittedly contribute to). I'm pleased to introduce the work of Ed Fairburn for your viewing pleasure:

Amazing, right?

There are MANY more wonderful works where these came from, so please visit his website for more eye candy!

*A notable exception to the above Alt rant is Bailey from Peppermint Bliss, who addressed some interesting topics in her critique/recap of the event. So yay Bailey!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Winter's White

Recently I came across this amazing photo (original source from Flickr):

It evokes the quiet melancholy only possible after a winter storm....and made me want to create an art to outfit post from it. Here's how I'd wear Winter's White:

Winter's White

I couldn't decide between the two ivory sweaters, mostly because I'd love to cuddle up in them both. How would you wear this photo?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Birthday treats :)

Welp, I hit the quarter century mark this week, and not going to lie, it was a pretty lame birthday. It appears that the older you get and the further away from friends and family you live, the milder/sort of depressing your bday gets.

My sweetie and I went out to a very nice dinner at a yummy SLC tapas-style restaurant called Meditrina, which was fun, but other than that my birthday was just another day. I'm one of those people who gets really excited about all birthdays, but especially my own, so having such a mild celebration (to be very #firstworldproblems on you) kind of put me in a slump this week. I think I have cabin fever or something--it's been so grey, gloomy, and cold for so long!

Anyway, to help myself break free of my self-imposed negativity I'm engaging in two types of self-therapy. One, my friend and I are sending daily blessings to each other--acknowledgements of the gifts in our life, with a special focus on turning negatives into positives. For example: work has been stressful, but I need to acknowledge the blessing that I even HAVE a job, much less one that I normally really enjoy. Another blessing is that, although I'm feeling frumpy lately due to an eye inflammation that makes me wear my glasses rather than contacts, at least I have access to appropriate eye care and can afford said glasses.

Therapy number two is good old retail therapy. I gifted myself a couple of birthday treats, as seen below:

Birthday Treats!

I know, I know, shit's getting wild and crazy up in herrrrr--deodorant for a birthday gift! But hear me out--yesterday I went to a kalari class, which is a really amazing version of martial arts that incorporates a lot of yoga movements, and I noticed that my Bubble and Bee deo just isn't cutting it. So I went on the search for an all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant.

I've been eyeing the Etsy store Rainwater Botanicals for some time now and finally decided to pull the trigger on a couple products. After messaging the very sweet owner Sara, who gave me some advice as to which of her products may work well for my skin type, I purchased her Intensive Repair Cream for Face and Body as well as her deodorant (in lavender and sage, not spice as pictured). Both products have really great reviews on her site as well as the interwebs, so I'm excited to give them a whirl.

Another store that I've had pleasant experience with is Marble and Milkweed. I gifted her facial set to my best friend after a recent breakup, and my friend looooved the products! Briar, the lovely store owner, even set up a custom listing for me so I could try a sample size of her cleansing nectar before getting the full size. Briar sells other beautiful skincare products and her photography is so lovely I want to buy out the store! I also purchased the sampler pack of 4 of her teas--I can't wait to try the Fleurs + Cacao (pictured)!!

I apologize if this is a bit of a downer of a post, but I believe in keeping it real, and it didn't seem right to post a cheerful birthday post when I'm not really feeling that way lately. Hopefully I snap out of this funk soon--I'm sure these lovely treats will help me get back to my normal cheerful self :) Reviews will be posted once I've had a chance to try everything out, as well as a roundup of the lovely gifts I received from loved ones!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Andalou Naturals Get Started Brightening Kit review

This review has been a long time in the works, since there are so many products included in it! For Christmas, a good friend of mine, knowing my penchant for natural skincare products, generously gifted me with the Andalou Naturals Get Started Brightening Kit.

The company's CEO and President have a history of working with Alba and Avalon Organics, two brands I also want to try out, and I was so excited to try out the Andalou line! They are verified gluten-free for all their products, plus use organic and/or fair trade ingredients where possible. The line seems to be pretty affordable, at least in the realm of green beauty, with no individual product costing more than $24.95.

The Andalou Naturals Get Started Brightening Kit comes with their Meyer Lemon Creamy Cleanser, the Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask, the Clementine + C Illuminating Toner, the Probiotic + C Renewal Cream, and their Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream. I've used the last several weeks to get acquainted with the products, so here are my thoughts!

The Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask, which retails full size for $14.95 for 1.7 fl oz, looks like pumpkin puree and has a pumpkin pie spicy smell to it (surprise, surprise). Upon application my skin tingled a bit and felt cool, but not in an unpleasant way. After 10 minutes, I washed it off and my face felt baby's butt smooth (gross analogy) and not at all dry. Since I first used this mid-day, I experimented with not adding any moisturizer on top after the mask, and my skin stayed feeling hydrated and smooth all day.

Warning, however: I used my Acure Organics gel cleanser that night, and my skin got really, really dry. I actually take it as a good sign that the mask is doing its job clearing away the yucky skin, but it seemed to leave the newly exposed skin a little more vulnerable. Long story short--when using this mask, do it at night and just add your night cream after, rather than mid-day and needing to wash your skin again at night. I loved this mask but you've got to be careful--it's probably too strong for those with really sensitive skin. I ended up buying a full size of the mask, which unfortunately comes in a jar rather than a squeeze tube like the sample (I prefer tubes as they're more hygenic--no dipping dirty fingers into the same jar), but I've enjoyed the product regardless.

The Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream ($24.95/1.7 fl oz) surprised me with how light it was--the texture was almost a serum, not at all the thick, rich consistency that I associate with night creams. It spread nicely and felt nourishing on my skin immediately--the initial impression I got was that it felt like Tata Harper's Resurfacing Face Mask. It was a faint, pleasant scent, almost like honey mixed with rose. My skin slurped it up immediately with no greasy after-effect. However, given it's winter in the desert right now, I didn't get enough moisturization from this night cream alone, so I switched back to my Badger Damascus Rose Beauty Balm. I plan to retry in the summer, as I think it will be the perfect weight at that time and I really did like the product.

The Probiotic + C Renewal Cream ($24.95/1.7 fl oz) has the same consistency as the night cream--serum-like rather than a traditional facial cream. It too spreads well and absorbs nicely into the skin, and my skin felt nicely moisturized immediately. It has a lovely citrusy scent too, which fades quickly after application. For winter, it's not quite enough for all-day moisturizing, but I imagine that it would be perfect for the summer, so I plan to retry it then. Right now I just use it under my regular winter moisturizer, which works well.

As far as benefits of the cream other than the light moisturization, I can say that I'm always skeptical of products that claim to be 'brightening'--what does that even mean? How do you measure 'brightness'?! BUT I take back that skepticism for this product. Although not an overnight miracle worker, I kept using this cream for several weeks, and one day I looked in the mirror and thought, 'Huh. My face looks different.' I couldn't put a finger on it until the next day when I was again applying the cream under my moisturizer, when I realized: my face really IS brighter! No, it's not measurable, but I definitely notice that my skin looks less sallow and wintery-sad (I know you know what I mean ;) and instead has a vibrancy to it that is subtle but distinctly different than pre-renewal cream. So, because I like how nicely this product applies plus the slow but effective changes it's worked in my skin, I plan to purchase a full size of this product.

The Clementine + C Illuminating Toner ($12.95/6 fl oz)...well guys, I'm probably not the best person to review this, as I've only ever used one other toner in my life (Honeybee Gardens'), and I personally haven't ever seen a benefit really from using toners. So while Andalou's was nice--it smelled better and felt more moisturizing and less abrasive than HG's--I can't say that it's a product that I'll go out an buy, nor is it one that made a big difference in my skin. For those who are more toner-savvy than I, you might give this a whirl, as it did feel nice on the skin. Oh, and it smells light and citrusy, not heavy or like witch hazel--win!

Unfortunately, the final product in the kit, the Meyer Lemon Creamy Cleanser ($12.96/6 fl oz) contains jojoba, so I wasn't able to test out that product. Whah-whaaaah.

Overall Thoughts: I was very pleasantly surprised by the Andalou Naturals Get Started Brightening Kit. My favorite items were the renewal cream and the facial mask, with the night cream a strong contender for a great summertime night cream. For someone who's never tried this line before, I highly recommend this kit!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2 Reviews from the Wide World of Etsy

Hello all, back again with a couple of reviews of products I bought off the mesmerizing, strange world that is

First up, Barefoot Apothecary. I bought the Healing Cayenne & Ginger Penetrating Rub as a present for my boyfriend. He's a skier and always has muscle pains after a long day skiing, so I thought I'd give this a whirl.
Photo credit; The Barefoot Apothecary

The rub comes in a decent-sized tin, smaller than I was thinking but honestly a little goes a long way. I was expecting this rub to be a lot like IcyHot, where sometimes I can't handle just how hot it gets. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this product. It's solid in the jar, but quickly absorbs into the skin with a nice warming sensation. I got a backrub out of the deal (gifts that are really for yourself are the best ;) and I really enjoyed it. 

The product is a light yellowy tan color (a lot like the moisture stick photo pictured below actually), and while I can't say that it really improved any aches or pains long-term, it feels so nice while you're rubbing it in that I don't even care. I actually got two more for presents for skiing friends of mine. It's a nice little product that I look forward to enjoying for a while!

The other product up for review is the Magic Moisture Stick by the Pure Apothecary. I actually haven't used this myself as I gave it to my mom, but she really liked it. She has perpetually cracked, dry heels in the winter, and all the reviews on the product were really positive so I gave it to her to try out.

Photo credit: The Pure Apothecary

The stick is heftier than the picture makes it seem with a nice amount of product in the tube. You just slide it over your heels at night and wake up to nice, moisturized skin. My mom said it has made a big difference for her, and she's tried EVERYTHING to help with her heels. If dry skin in the winter isn't your jam, this may help out :)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Super duper easy healthy recipes!

Since many people, like me, are undoubtedly trying to fulfill new year's resolutions of eating healthier, yet are likely still stuck in old lazy habits, I thought I'd share some of my yummiest, easiest healthy recipes. And honestly, if I can make them, ANYONE can--I am by no means a good cook, or someone who has the patience to go through tons and tons of steps. So these recipes all have my endorsement as being simple to make with a huge flavor payoff. Enjoy!

Apple Quinoa Walnut Muffins: These are great breakfast muffins! Not very sweet at all, which I personally like early in the morning, but you could jazz them up with butter and/or by adding in dried fruits to your preference.

I actually made my own recipe by combining this recipe and this recipe. Follow the Nutritionist in the Kitch recipe, except instead of 3 tablespoons applesauce and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, use 2 T applesauce and 2 T apple butter...yummy!

Photo credit: Nutritionist in the Kitch

Honey Coconut Bran Muffins: Another great breakfast muffin option, these are much sweeter due to the 1/2 cup of honey! Yummy yummy! Although the recipe calls for 1 1/2 C wheat flour, I substituted 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds for an added omega 3 boost :) I also used other dried fruits instead of out-of-season blueberries.

Photo credit: Skinny Taste

Pesto, Basil, Mozz Grilled Sandwich: This jacked-up version of a traditional grilled cheese is DA BOMB. I use this recipe for the pesto, then follow this recipe for the rest (although it's pretty self-explanatory). So easy, so delicious. The pesto recipe is great for other things too, like this yummy pasta dish (use 2 cloves of garlic and less lemon than listed, though).

Photo credit: An Edible Symphony

Avocado Spinach Egg Salad: Even though I don't typically like eating foods with avocado the day after (the brown-ness grosses me out), I didn't have that problem with this recipe--had it for lunch for a week straight!

Photo credit: We Are Not Martha

Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs: Ok, so I saved my absolute favorite three for last. This recipe is perfect exactly as it is. The chipotle gives it a spicy tang that's nicely tempered by the honey--SO GOOD.

Photo Credit: Tracey's Culinary Adventures

Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette: I just made this the other day, and it's the perfect lunchtime meal. The recipe is packed with goodness to keep you full until you leave work, but definitely doesn't leave you feeling stuffed and sluggish. Next time I make it I'll tweak the vinaigrette recipe a little--I found it to be too much dressing for the amount of salad--and I may cut down on the amount of lemon as the listed recipe is a little tart for me. I didn't top it with shrimp, either, so that may have helped. Otherwise, I can't wait to try this again!

Photo credit: Iowa Girl Eats

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili: Oh my good lord. This chili recipe is perfection. Carnivores, don't fear--you won't even miss the meat because it's so savory and filling! We added corn to ours, which I thought was a nice touch.

Photo credit: Milk Free Mom

Diabetes Dessert: Ok so given my self-proclaimed recipe name (real one can be found here), it should come as no surprise to anyone that this is not at ALL healthy. But it is SUPER simple to make and SO SO fantastic, I bring it to parties all the time. Give it a whirl to treat yourself for making such healthy meals all week--just try to limit yourself to one piece ;)

Photo credit: House 344

Any easy, scrumptious recipes you all can share? I'm always looking to add to my pile of go-to's!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Designer Spotlight: Lucy Fenton

In the age of Pinterest, blogs, and online magazines, I have found myself a bit disenchanted with interior design, because by the time I see a beautiful home once I feel like I've seen it a thousand times--both because I have (self-imposed, through reading too many design resources) and because it seems like there's nothing new under the sun.

However. I recently read this great article, which linked to this great article, on the blog Mix and Chic. Jesse of Mix and Chic featured the work of Lucy Fenton, and I literally gasped out loud and scrolled forward and back several times so I didn't miss anything.

You may be familiar with Ms. Fenton's work through her feature in the June 2011 issue of Adore Home magazine (the living room she designed, below, even made it onto my "For when I design my dream home" board!).

I love it now, I loved it then, and I can't believe how much of this designer's fantastic work I'd never seen before! So, for your own viewing pleasure, please drink in the goods below:

This article from Desire to Inspire describes her work as "A must see gallery if you love colour with a touch of ethnic aesthetic, vintage with midcentury re-invented and the unexpected, always the unexpected". Um yes? That's basically me in a nutshell. LOVE

For many, many more images of her beautiful work, please see this article, this article, and Ms. Fenton's own website.

For an interesting interview with Lucy Fenton, please read what she had to say over at Design Files.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Favorite Green Beauty Products of 2012

Throughout the trial-and-error process that is the transition to green beauty, I've found a few products that I fell in love with and would recommend to anyone starting out on the green beauty pathway. Some of them I still use every day, some (like RMS's Lip2Cheek and the Soapwalla deodorant) I had to sadly give up when I figured out my jojoba oil allergy, but they are all effective, cost-friendly, and pretty readily available. 

Here goes:

Green Beauty Favorites of 2012

1. Burnout Sunscreen: See my review of this product here.
2. Badger Damascus Rose Beauty Balm: My review here.
3. Skin Apotheke Ubtan Scrub: My review here. Also playing a crucial role in one of my 2013 resolutions.
4. RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Smile: I didn't get to enjoy this for long, as I found out I was allergic to it, but I love the texture, wearability, and pigmentation of this cream blush. The color is universally flattering and has great staying power! I thought it was a bit dry for my lips but loved it for my cheeks.
5. Acure Organics Shampoo: my brief thoughts here.
6. Soapwalla Deodorant: Although I'm not a fan of jar deodorants--I hate getting both hands dirty putting on my deodorant--I must say that this deodorant works. Made me itchy due to the jojoba allergy, but if not for that I'd still probably be using it.
7. Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar: my brief thoughts here.
8. Oh Sudz Blemish Cover Up: My review here