PRODUCT LOVE: MY NEW FAVORITE HEALTHY CANDLE

There are a few things that I can’t live without in my home, the first is plants, the second is candles! I have candles in every room and I’m always looking for the perfect combo of fragrance, non-toxic ingredients and long burn time, a trifecta that’s safe for humans and my furry babies, that smells great but doesn’t overdo it. In essence, a healthy candle. Sounds impossible, right?

Enter Locale58. A new candle company based in San Franciso. Co-founder (and super fierce chick) L. T,. reached out and asked if I’d like to try out one of her new candles and write about it. Ummm, yes, please! I was so excited to learn about Locale58’s new line of candles inspired by the West Coast that are made right here in California.

According to the site, the candles are hand poured by two friends (B + L) whose roots run “California deep”. The candles are made from 100% soy wax and come in scents that they feel truly represent different locations in California. L + B’s mission is to share their favorite West Coast spots with people worldwide. Pretty freakin’ awesome IMO!

THE CANDLE

I was sent a “San Francisco” candle that came in a super sweet cotton drawstring bag and I could smell it before I even took it out. The scent is deep and masculine, which I love, and is described as “clean and defined,” which it truly is!

The scent profile for the California candle is: 

High Notes: Cedar

Mid Notes: Tonka Bean (which I’d never heard of, read about it’s awesome smell profile here). 

Low Notes: Amber

I’ve burned the candle several times and it just keeps going, filling my large living room with warmth and a super inviting scent, perfect for Fall and cozy nights in.

ince I don’t always get to speak directly to the creators of products that I love I decided to do a little Q+A with Lexie to get the full scoop!

ME: I’m really getting into essential oils and their amazing benefits, are you using any essential oils in your candles? I’d love to hear more about what’s going into them–without giving away all of your secrets!

L: We are using a blend of fragrance oils, the equation to our candles is wax and a secret fragrance oil.. oh and some love too! 🙂

ME: What is it about the city of San Francisco that evoked these scents (cedar, tonka bean and amber) for you? 

L: When we started working on SF, we picture it would be burning in a San Francisco high-rise in a really industrial penthouse with lots of leather furniture, really cold air, crisp & clean. Primarily in a man’s flat. Hence, the masculine scent. 

ME: Why did you choose soy?

L: Soy Wax is a cleaner burning wax that emits no toxins, carcinogens and pollutants which help reduce risk of allergies. Soy wax also burns at a slower rate than traditional paraffin wax so you get to enjoy your candle 30-50% longer.

I can’t wait to try out the Newport Beach and Los Angeles scents next!

CREATING A TEA EXPERIENCE WITH THE EXPERTS AT FAR LEAVES TEA

When I think of making and drinking tea I get warm + fuzzy feelings from my childhood. Memories of my mom making herbal tea before bed, having a conversation with my Grandma over a cup of green tea, and growing up in the mountains, I enjoyed countless cups of hot tea after a long day in the snow. As I’ve grown up (and required more caffeine) I’ve developed a true love of coffee as well, but have realized that too much coffee is not good for me. The high caffeine makes me anxious and twitchy, and as my passion for health and wellness grows so does my love of tea and its many benefits. 

Although I still love a good cup of coffee, especially iced when the weather warms, I’ve really re-started my exploration of tea, and have Amy and the Far Leaves Tea team to thank! Tea time is sacred time. “Traditionally called “Cha Dao”, or the Dao of Tea, it is the harmony of tea, water, utensils, preparation, environment and conversation to create the perfect moment–a moment that can last for hours.”(2) Far Leaves  places a strong emphasis on this process and by taking part in a few tea tastings and watching them put their heart and soul into the tea process. So basically, I’ve been doing it all wrong, tea is a lot more than tea bag in tea cup! I am so excited to to take my tea drinking to the next level and dive in head first!

Here are nine important ‘tea experience best practices’ that I’ve learned in my explorations as a tea newbie:

  1. Invest in the right pot: Not all pots are created equal and finding the right one for you can require some testing and research. In terms of size, buying a larger or smaller pot will depend on how much tea you’re drinking during the day and whether or not you like to make tea for large groups of friends. Tea pots are made from several different materials as well; from cast iron to clay to glass and each has it’s own pros and cons. Far Leaves recommends glass tea pots as they allow the drinker to see the color of the tea they’re drinking and for pourability (see #3). My husband bought me a gorgeous cast iron pot for Christmas (see photo) and I absolutely love the aesthetic of it it, plus it keeps my tea warm for a long time!
  2. Water quality matters: I’m always preaching the importance of good, clean water and that rule still applies when it comes to making a perfect pot of tea. Start your brew with fresh, filtered water to really bring out the truest flavor in the leaves and avoid adding minerals and chlorine.
  3. Don’t pour poorly: See what I did there? Pouring method is really important and lends to the overall experience of tea drinking. During my tastings with the Far Leaves team I learned how to properly pour from a glass teapot with a large handle; hold the pot up high and gently rotate your wrist to to create an even pour, allowing the air and water mix for a lovely smell and perfect pour into your cup. According to Far Leaves, to properly pour tea “Pay attention not to drip, distribute the tea equally to all those who are present and pour tea for yourself last.”
  4. Reuse! Don’t waste your leaves: Tea leaves vs. tea bags allow you to re-brew the same leaves 2-3 times so remember to save leaves after the first steep and simply add them back in when you’re ready for round two!
  5. Ditch the bag: Although using a tea bag may be an easy method, it’s not the best way to drink tea. Tea bags break down tea leaves, resulting in less well-rounded flavors and are often left in the cup too long resulting in over steeping and bitterness.
  6. Temperature matters: Different teas require different water temperature to create the ideal brew. Through trial and error you’ll find the right temps for your favorite teas but here’s a quick guide to start you out:
  • White + Green Teas: 170-185°F
  • Oolong Tea: 180-190°F
  • Black + Herbal Teas: Full boil 208-212 °F

       7. Use a Timer: According to a British study, only 16% of tea drinkers steep their tea for the correct amount of time, and the British know their tea! While tea steeping is largely a matter of preference, be sure to do some research for your preferred tea type.

8.  Know the origin: Knowing where your tea leaves come from and whether or not they are organic is extremely important, but can be tricky to prove. If pesticides are used on tea leaves they’re generally not rinsed before drying, washing the pesticides right into your cup, yuck! Far Leaves places a strong emphasis on the sourcing and farming practices of their teas, and have trusted sources in China and Japan dedicated to keeping the taste and quality of the tea while skipping  the use of pesticides.

9.  Slow Down and Enjoy: This is the most important part of any tea ceremony and where the real benefits lie! Taking time              out of your day to spend with friends or family over a pot of tea is extremely important. We never make take the time to                  slow down and relax and the process of brewing, pouring and enjoying tea is the perfect opportunity to do so!

My Favorite flavors: Herbal (PM)- Lemongrass Medley | Green (AM)- Lavender White | Black (AM or afternoon)- Rose Grey

Read more about the insane health benefits of tea here, and if you’re in Berkeley, check out the Far Leaves tea room and share your favorite teas in the comments

**Far Leaves provided me with samples but as always my opinions are my own.

Resources:

  1. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/milk-first-then-tea#.wlNWmexMd
  2. http://www.traditionalstudies.org/the-art-of-chinese-tea/

WHY ROSE IS ALL THE RAGE AND 6 FRESH PRODUCTS TO TRY

In case you haven’t noticed, rose is so hot right now, Pantone even named Rose quartz this year’s color of the year. While I don’t really care for pink or ever wear it due to my bright red hair color, I will admit that my bathroom counter is getting extremely crowded with rose oil beauty products. Rose has been used in beauty products for hundreds of years, dating back to the Greek and Romans who used rose petals in their baths, cosmetics, medicines and herbal remedies, but we’re really only just beginning to see the benefits of this super flower.

I’ve been using rose oil products on my skin for several months now and I’ve noticed a huge difference! I have acne prone skin and the antibacterial properties in rose help to keep bacteria at bay while also toning and moisturizing my skin all day and improving my skin tone. Rose is also known to help protect and repair skin from sun damage which I could definitely use after my years of tanning bed use. 

Here are some of my favorite natural rose products right now:

  1. Osmia Organics Rose Clay Facial Soap: With hydrating pink clay plus rose and geranium oils this soap creates an amazing lather, lasts forever and will leave your skin hydrated and smelling great!
  2. Acure Moroccan Argan Oil- Rose: This stuff has some serious super powers. I’ve tried a lot of oils and my skin reacts best to Argan, it’s the right mix of moisture and helps improve skin’s tone and texture, I’m obsessed. This one is awesome because it utilizes the healing and soothing powers of three potent botanicals: rose, lemongrass and geranium. Boom!
  3. Dr. Bronner’s Rose Soap: If you haven’t tried Dr. Bronner’s soaps you’re missing out. This Castile soap basically does it all, (and the bottle will tmi you all about it!) it’s super moisturizing and gentle enough for your face and body. The rose will tone skin while Castile soap is super moisturizing. The smell is really deep and nice to wake up to in the morning and lingers in the shower.
  4. Inflora Botanica Rosewater Mist: You can tell if you’re getting a really quality rose product because of the scent and deep amber color and this rosewater is the real deal. I happened to find this product while wandering around a little local holiday fair in Oakland and although I wasn’t in the market for skin products I’m so glad the sweet lady I spoke to convinced me to try it out.  I bought both the oil and mist and they work really well together because the mist helps the oil absorb into the skin. This product comes from Turkey where the roses are hand-picked and distilled in copper and the product is 100% organic. Added bonus: it’s also really inexpensive!
  5. Nectar Vital Rose Drop by Osmia Organics: I got this product in my first Beauty Heroes box and am loving this little super hero. It’s the second Osmia product on here because their stuff just rules, it’s so well formulated and really works. Adding a few drops of this oil makes your moisturizer or serum more powerful so a little bit goes a long way! The combo of rose and sandalwood in here is so lovely as well!
  6. doTERRA Rose Essential Oil: doTERRA oils are my fave and the rose is so lovely, everyone needs it in their oil arsenal! Rose oil has so many uses, you can add it to your favorite base oil like coconut, avocado, sesame, argan or whatever else you’re in to. As with the other products listed here the rose oil helps to balance moisture levels, even skin tone and heal imperfections and diffusing the oil can even promote feelings of vitality and energy in the am. Yes, please!

Do you use any rose products? What’s your favorite?

FIERCE LIST: V-DAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Last year I shared my Valentine’s gift guide from Cabo San Lucas Mexico, where I was warm and loving some quality time with my hubby! This year feels completely different, but also very special, I’m writing this from my amazing home in the Oakland hills, feeling a lot of love for life. I fallen in love with some new products this year and also have some old faves coming back in to my life. Check out the list below for the perfect gift for yourself or the special person in your life!

  1. Far Leaves Tea Gift Set ($80)The perfect gift for the tea lover (or tea novice) in your life. Far Leaves emphasis the art of tea and after one tasting with them I was hooked on their high quality and super flavorful teas. This amazing glass pot truly takes your tea game to the next level and the gift set is wrapped in a hand stitched tea towel, so dang cute! The Jasmine green tea is beyond potent so it’s a great option for those looking to avoid coffee but need that caffeine fix.
  2. Aritzia Faux Fur Vest ($50): Real fur is an obvious no-no in my book, who wants to wear cruelty on their body? Gross! That’s why I love this Aritzia faux fur vest. I bought it when the sale started after Christmas and now it’s even more discounted. This kind of reminds me of my raver days with the big hood but it’s (thankfully) much classier, sits at the perfect length and is the most beautiful color.
  3. W3ll People Gift Set ($75)I discovered this makeup line about a year ago and I’ll never look back. WP foundations and lip glosses come in lots of tones and last all day! They’re now selling the line in Target stores too, YES!!
  4. Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap ($24)This amazing Colorado created soap came in to my life about four months ago and I absolutely love it! As I’ve mentioned before I’m done treating my skin like crap with chemicals and other toxic ingredients and now I’m all about simplicity. This soap combines Black Australian Clay and Dead Sea Mud that tones, cleanses and nourishes skin without over drying. The bar is tiny so it’s easy to travel with but lasts forever! This company is going to make big waves!
  5. Marisa Mason Summer land Earrings ($115)Because I love summer and gold, these are clearly a must have. These can be dressed up or dressed down and will make a boring outfit pop!
  6. Matt & Nat Central Bordeaux Wallet ($70): I’ve loved Matt & Nat since my days of working in retail. The company has been around for a long time and the quality and design of their products has continued to grow year over year. Every bag and wallet is 100% vegan and the company is serious about ethics and sustainability. No animal products are used in their designs, instead, they use recycled nylon, cork and rubber.

If all else fails, check out these insanely cute (and funny) cards.

LEARN ABOUT VOOLUU: BRAND NEW AND SUPER FRESH!

’m really excited to announce that I’ve joined the team at Vooluu as a brand ambassador! This is kind of a strange new world for me because I’ve literally said no to selling a million products. You name it, I’ve been hit up to sell it. Honestly though, the fact the people even consider me a health and wellness ‘influencer’ is seriously flattering and I’m certainly not complaining! However, I am extremely wary of multi-level marketing, I really appreciate everyone that reads my words here and I only want to advise you to buy things that I seriously know and love and trust and love.

Here’s the story…

Vooluu reached out to me after finding my blog and I did some research and spoke with the founder and was honestly blown away by the commitment of this team; not only in their ability to find me in a sea of bloggers, (what?) but also in the extreme integrity they have around product sourcing, development and goals. This team is legit! They have communicated clearly, picked an amazing group of ambassadors including athletes, health coaches, bloggers and influencers, and have really given us all of the resources that we could possibly need to really understand the product and talk about it.

Vooluu is focused on two key products (with more coming soon!):

1. All in One Green Protein Shake:

  • Superfood nourishment featuring plant & sea based proteins
  • Immune-boosting mycelium blend
  • Live probiotics & enzymes
  • Free of dairy, added sugar, soy, gluten and GMO ingredients
  • Provides a completely balanced amino acid profile
  • 100% organic
  • Get your daily dosage of greens, micronutrients and proteins — all in one shake!

2. 100% Organic Dark Chocolate Crunch Bars: 

Chocolate is a necessary part of life, if you don’t agree, you should stop following my blog.

High Fiber • High Protein • Complex Carbohydrates • Calcium, Manganese • Zinc • Iron • B vitamins • Phosphorus, Antioxidants • Omega 3 & 6 • Vitamin E • Trace Minerals • All 9 Essential Amino Acids • Tryptophan • Copper • High Folate Choline

Essential Ingredients:

  • Chia Seeds: Originally from South America, chia seeds are packed with superior nutrition. Unlike flax seeds, they’re absorbable by your body in whole form.
  • Hemp Seeds: A high protein seed with all essential amino acids.
  • Buckwheat Groats: Even though it looks like a grain, buckwheat is a fruit seed that is related to the rhubarb plant, making it a great alternative to wheat.

Even better? I’ll also be writing on Vooluus blog about superfoods, healthy lifestyle and I recently wrote about not sacrificing flavor and nutritional density which is unfortunately often the case with protein powders and green drinks. I also wrote about the amazing benefits of medicinal mushroomswhich made me want to go mushroom hunting!

I can’t recommend these products enough, when I drink the green powder in the morning I feel amazing all day long and the chocolate is such a nice (and healthy) treat! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!

GET TO KNOW SPIRE PLUS UNIQUE TOOLS FOR HAPPINESS SEEKERS

There are a lot of tracking devices on the market and it can be really tough to decide which is right for you! The one thing that I’ve felt is missing from most wearables was the mindfulness component, who cares about counting steps if you’re still mentally distracted and anxious, if you’re not feeling completely amazing body and mind? Today, I’m so excited to announce that I’m working with Spire to create useful content for their readers. Spire is such a fantastic tool for keeping your cool, not helps its wearer improve both physical and mental health. There are some great articles on their blog and below is my first article on some creative and slightly unconventional ways to work more happiness in to your life.

Cool, Calm, Collected: Unique Tools for Happiness Seekers

PERFECT MOTHER’S DAY GIFT: HEALTHY SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

Mother’s Day is almost here and I’m always the most last minute shopper! I LOVE the Moms in my life and want to spoil them so this year I checked out a bunch of healthy subscription boxes that are so cool and full of amazing goodies! These make amazing gifts because they keep on giving for months and the receiver will get to try out tons of fun stuff that they may not usually buy for themselves. Also, if you’re trying to get your Mom on the healthy bandwagon this could be a very sneaky way to ease them in. I think my personal favorite on the list is Raw Spice Bar which I’m testing out in the next couple of weeks and can’t wait to write about. Stay tuned and check the list and let me know which are your favorites cause let’s be honest, I haven’t picked one yet! Click here for the full list!

FRESH: SKIN CLEANSE BOOK LOVE PLUS A BRIEF LIFE UPDATE

This week a few of my favorite lady bloggers have been getting real and honest on the heavy stuff that is going on for them in their lives. It almost feels like something has been in the air lately and everyone is going through some intense stuff, or probably more accurately, they’re going through life. My friend Shannon talked about the realness of marriage (of which I can certainly relate), my friend Julia about her isolation having moved away from friends and family and my favorite DJ Tasha Blank was talking about a block in her creative energy. This is an interesting week to read these three topics as I’m feeling each of them so strongly myself. As a creative person I often get really stuck in my head and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in my life. This week has been so intense mentally and emotionally, I’ve been waiting for big news and it’s had me anxious and unable to concentrate. I’ve been writing a lot for my freelance clients but it’s taking me forever to get anything done.  The good news is I’m very happy to have accepted a job offer and I’m finally done dealing with the nightmare that is job hunting. This round has been a huge learning experience and very different than the East Coast mentality of get it done, I’ve had some trials and tribulations, but I’m SO excited about my new job, and I can’t wait to get back in the swing of things, meeting new people and not working at home 100%! Hooray!!

Switching gears, but actually kind of related because self care and taking care of yourself is ever present, today I want to talk about an awesome new book that is a must read for anyone who cares about their skin; Adina G’s Skin Cleanse. Adina is also an Integrative Nutrition grad and the brains behind SW Basics, a line of skin care crafted for those that are tired of chemically enhanced products and want to get back to well, the basics.

I’ve suffered with acne and skin issues basically all my life. In middle school my cystic acne got so bad I went on my first round of Accutane (aka teenage poison), which did treat the symptoms of my acne, but not the root.  I did a little search for this post and found out that Accutane was taken off market in 2009 (thank goodness) but you can still get generic versions. I also found that it was originally marketed as a chemotherapy drug, WOW, what?! Seriously scary stuff.  I link a lot of my anxiety issues today to this drug and I STRONGLY urge everyone, especially parents, to be wary and avoid at all costs. Since then, I’ve tried literally everything for my skin. Going to dermatologists that pushed every cream, pill and smelly cleanser on me that they possibly could. There are periods of my life that I refuse to look at pictures of myself, bad skin is scarring, literally.

It wasn’t until I learned a ton about food and diet and started to change the way I care for my skin and my body in general that I noticed results. I wish I could find the recipe again for the first DIY skincare recipe that I tried, total #GAMECHANGER! The facewash was castor oil based and involved a ton of oils that I had never heard of before and the ingredients also confused me, I mean, wasn’t oil bad for acne prone skin? That’s what doctors had been telling me for years: ‘Avoid oil and oily foods (lol) or you’ll break out’. They were on the right track but didn’t realize it wasn’t the oil on the pizza, it was the highly processed ingredients and hormones and sugar and chemicals within that and every other food I was eating on a daily basis. When I started using these ‘new to me’ oils like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba and argan I started noticing a lot of differences in my skin and I realized that I didn’t need to kill everything on my face to get clear skin, Adina actually mentions that we need good bacteria on our face to eat the bad, which is not unlike the bacteria in our gut. My skin was also in need of hydration and less cleansing, rubbing and product overload. So basically, I can relate to everything in Adina’s book and it’s inspiring to me! I’m so glad she’s sharing some of her secrets with the World!

What I love about this book is that it goes through a lot of our misconceptions around skin care, walks us through a skin cleanse aka a product free period aimed at getting our skin back to a neutral state, and then brings in some really new thinking about how to use real ingredients to revive our used and abused skin. Everything goes back to diet. Just like with other health issues,  Grigore says, ‘if you have a recurring skin problem, it’s most definitely the result of something going on internally’ and further, “when you are eating foods that are depleted of vitamins and minerals , you aren’t getting vitamins and minerals, sounds basic, but it’s a connection a lot of us have not really made yet.’ And that’s true, it takes a long time to make this discovery for ourselves and then we get it and it’s like a serious lightbulb aha moment. I love watching family and friends have these moments, it’s so inspiring!

My favorite part of this book is definitely the recipes! Adina is sharing some amazing secrets that I’m sure took a long time to develop and I bet she had to put a lot of random foods on her face to figure out, thanks girl, you’re FIERCE! I tried this amazing Dessert Mask and loved it! I did take a pic of myself with the mask on but I hopefully you can understand based on the ingredients why I’m not posting that.

DESSERT MASK RECIPE (Via SkinCleanse):

Ingredients: 

4 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (I added this in because I love it Adina mentioned it being great for skin in another recipe)

Directions:

Mix cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl, then stir in olive oil to create a paste. Apply with fingers and leave on for as long as you’d like (I did 40 minutes). The sea salt may start to sting over time as it works its magic (mine didn’t). Rinse carefully–this mask will stain a washcloth (yes, it sure will). Makes one to two uses and can sit out on your counter for a few days.

Result: Really smooth and bright skin. I felt that I needed a little extra moisturizing after, but my skin felt really happy and cleansed.

You can buy Skin Cleanse here and my one word of warning is to definitely buy the actual book, not the kindle version, in some ways this is part cookbook and journal and you’ll want to highlight and take notes. Now I need to buy the actual book myself.

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below and if you have a favorite ‘natural’ product please share as well!

PRODUCT LOVE: GIVESCENT

It’s hump day and therefore a perfect day for a product review! I’m so excited to share GIVESCENT today! It’s no secret that I love essential oils and smelling pretty so I’ve been on a journey in the last few years to find a smell that a) lasts b) smells good c) isn’t full of nasty crap like every other perfume out there. I’ve mentioned a couple of my favorites in past posts, but today I’m talking about a new find from super woman duo, Elena B and  Alexandra L P in NYC. The scents were conceived during Brower’s time in Italy, and her desire to capture and recreate the experience, the pace, and especially the lovely smells. Through some tinkering in their kitchen GIVESCENT was born. As a travel lover, I think this product is genius because all of the places I’ve visited leave a strong scent memory with me and I would LOVE to recreate each one, especially my honeymoon in Bali, don’t get me started.

To add to the #fierce factor of these scents, each purchase supports women’s organizations like Every Mother Counts and Women for Women International.

Let’s talk first about how the order arrives in a super cute hand stamped little reusable bag (great for traveling with jewelry btw), and some info about the product. Very simple, but elegant, featuring Browers signature bright whites ( she’s the reason I own a pair of white yoga pants but I can’t wear them because of the 100% chance of spilling immediately).

The signature scent is described as “a captivating blend of sun-ripened citrus and spicy vanilla inspired by the first sultry summer days in Italy.” Ummm, yes please!

GIVESCENT is free of alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and sulfates and Cruelty free. Ah-mazing!

I’ve been wearing the scent for about a week straight and I can honestly say it’s magical. It wears much more like a perfume than the other oils I’ve tried, in fact, I’ve found less is more with this one which is nice because even the tester will last forever!

My only wish is that the next scent be Asia inspired. Ladies, I’d like to put in a request for that!

Look for other reviews coming soon including Nourish Snacks and Adina G’s new book: Skin Cleanse!

What are your favorite non-nasty perfumes? Let me know in the comments!

*disclaimer- GIVESCENT provided me with this product to sample and write about, but of course these opinions are my own.