On Finding An Outlet Through Art

adult art

As a child, artistic expression was an inherent part of who I was, and I embraced it.  I nourished the creative being in me who desperately needed creative expression and catharsis.

Then, somewhere along the way (probably around the time I started working full-time and attending college full-time), I nearly abandoned the creative person I’d always been.  I’d enjoyed a childhood full of reading, writing, poetry, painting, scrapbooking, and had loved it.

With my 20’s behind me, I can see that I let college and having a baby take away all my attention from “frivolous things” such as artistic expressions.  Now I see that it was a mistake. Self-expression through art is powerful on many levels.  It can be purely for fun, or it can be vital to helping a person work through pain.  It can be a passion or a hobby.  But whatever it is, creative expression is a normal and (in my opinion) necessary part of being human.

In the past few years, I’ve had a renewed yearning for some way to express myself artistically.  First, about 6 years ago, I started designing patterns and hand-making play felt food for my daughter, and even sold my work to some friends.

I handmade Halloween costumes for her as well, like the year she was Rapunzel (that wig was a doozy…)

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Then a couple of years ago I started creating over-the-top cupcakes…like Neopolitan cupcakes – vanilla cake with chocolate chunks, filled with strawberry jam, topped with strawberry/vanilla buttercream and a chocolate heart….NeopolitanThen after three months, I decided that I’d had enough sugar and went on to my next creative outlet, and the next…

A few months ago, I started hunting for new ways to express myself.  These are my current creative outlets:

My blog – this blog is an artistic outlet, as it gives me the ability to talk about one of my biggest passions – living a life that is eco-friendly, holistic, natural, and simple.  I love sharing and hope to grow my blog into a great one.

Adult coloring books – I was browsing on Amazon one day last year and stumbled upon some really neat coloring books aimed at adults.  There are coloring books for all different interests, from fashion, to architecture, to mythology, and more.  This coloring book is one example.  The one I own is also from this company.

Mandalas – another coloring book I have is one that is called Tibetan Mandalas and is written by Tatjana Blau (pictured at the top of this post).  It’s a lovely coloring book with quotes on each mandala page.

Random hands-on activities – I’ve recently started pressing my mineral eyeshadows, and something about it is soothing and meditative.  I’ve really enjoyed doing something hands-on.  I plan on writing a post about my eyeshadows and pressing them in the near future.

Studying new interests – when something strikes my fancy, I will read about the subject for hours sometimes.

Finally, I also purchased a good quality art journal that I can doodle in whenever the mood strikes.  Sometimes mindlessly doodling and sketching can be quiet relaxing and fun.

What are your favorite forms of self-expression and artistic release?

Finding Clean & Natural Product Deals: Part 3 – Affordable Natural Brands

I really appreciate clean, natural, non-toxic brands that try to keep their products affordable.  Although luxury brands/products  might be fantastic ($125 face serum, I’m talking about you), I have a family, and my budget isn’t of “the sky’s the limit” variety. You know what I mean?

These are a few more affordable clean/natural brands I’ve personally used or heard a lot of great things about:

Makeup

100% Pure – I really like their lotions for spring/summer/fall, and currently use their eyebrow gel in Taupe. Some of their products are carried at Ulta stores.

Pacifica – I’ve used their mascara and lipstick (pretty good!) and they have some products available at Target.

Everyday Minerals – I used EM makeup almost exclusively for YEARS (until I had to switch to a cream based foundation).  They have great quality at very reasonable prices.  Adorable website, too!

Silk Naturals – I’ve been obsessed with their eyeshadows lately, though they have a full makeup line.  Their prices and selection of eyeshadow are AMAZING for clean beauty. I plan on doing a review of their eyeshadows soon…

Brija – A green beauty You-Tuber started this line and shares my name.  Her eyeshadows are so fun, although she has lots of makeup items for sale.

The All Natural Face – I’ve never personally purchased any of their products, but have heard their quality and prices are good.

Honeybee Gardens – Another line I have yet to try, but I’m interested in their eye and lip liners.

 

Nails

Zoya is the only brand of 5-free nail polish that I personally know of that is under $10 a bottle – I’m sure there may be others out there, but this is the only one I have tried. They are also carried at Ulta!  And they have a fantastic range of colors and finishes.

 

Skincare

Acure is my top pick for affordable (yet still fantastic quality) skincare.  Their products are top notch and won’t make your wallet cry.

 

Haircare –

Acure again here, as well as Desert Essence Organics (what I’m currently using), Juice Organics, and The Honest Company.  I’ll soon be doing a review of The Honest Company’s haircare, which are the only hair products I use on my daughter.

 

Home/Cleaning Products

The Honest Company again, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s, and Planet are all nice options for home and cleaning items.  I personally am smitten with The Honest Company’s products.  The packaging is adorable, the quality is great, and the prices pretty reasonable.

What are your favorite brands for clean, affordable, non-toxic products?

Finding Clean & Natural Product Deals: Part 2 – Online Stores

Shopping online for clean and natural products is a great way to access tons of brands as well as read reviews about products you haven’t tried.  I really rely on reading customer feedback for lots of products I’m interested in.  These are some of my favorite websites for getting good deals on clean, natural, and green beauty and home products – I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these are some of my go-to sites for green shopping, in no particular order:

Abe’s Market has a great selection and often offers discounts and coupons towards certain products or your total purchase.  Free US shipping starts at purchases $29+ right now, and that is fantastic.

Vitacost is a great resource for supplements, vitamins, health foods, as well as some bath and home products. Their free US shipping starts at $49+.  They often have sales on certain brands/products.

iherb is excellent for all-around great prices and fast shipping.  Their free US shipping starts at orders over $20 – amazing!  I usually buy my Hurraw! lip balms and a variety of other nutrition and beauty products from them.  I also get some cleaning supplies from them, like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.

The Honest Company is another favorite of mine for bath, body, and home/cleaning products.  For about a year I’ve been subscribing to their bundle system (5 products for $35.95, plus the option to add on 3 more products at a 25% discount), which works for me because I can choose how often I receive a package.  I also get free shipping if I order $50 worth of products, which I usually get.  I get a shipment every 2-3 months depending upon when I need to replace items, and haven’t been disappointed in any of their products.  Plus, they have gorgeous packaging and shipping boxes, if you’re into that sort of thing!

Pharmaca was a fantastic find for me.  That have so many awesome brands, really great sales (typically, they have a standing coupon code on their website, which excludes a few brands, but applies to most items).  I’ve bought everything from a Himalayan salt lamp to W3LL People mascara. Free shipping in the US starts at orders $35+.

Integrity Botanicals is an excellent website for beauty and bath products.  They have amazing customer service, periodic sales, and a sample program that lets you choose your own 3 samples with every purchase, which I absolutely love.  They offer free US shipping for orders $50+.

Last but not least – search around for coupon codes on specific products you are looking for!  I always hunt around on the internet to find the absolute best deals.  Sometimes you can get a $10 off code or 20% off for your first purchase or signing up to a mailing list – an easy way to save money.

What are your favorite websites for shopping clean, natural products?

 

Finding Clean & Natural Product Deals: Part 1 – Brick & Mortar Stores

I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must be to step into the world of non-toxic, clean products for the first time.  One of the major obstacles is “greenwashing”, which is when companies purport their products to be “natural” when they are not.

Another obstacle in switching to clean products is cost.  Clean products are often more expensive because they contain much higher quality ingredients.  This can be a hard pill to swallow – let’s say you’re used to spending $6 on conventional mascara and find that an all-natural alternative costs double or triple.  It’s about choosing quality ingredients that may cost a bit more, but are far better for your body and the planet.  Better quality generally will equal higher costs.  I for one am willing to pay a little more for quality.

It also takes time and patience to understand why certain chemicals are unsafe and toxic, and to understand which chemicals are safer.  Then once you figure that out, you have to actually start purchasing the safer products, but they can be expensive and difficult to find.

That doesn’t mean that clean, safe products have to be expensive and elitist.  On the contrary.  It is actually getting much, much easier to find clean products at reasonable prices.

Over the years, I’ve found stores, websites, and brands that are the most cost-effective.  This is not an exhaustive list – these are merely some of my personal suggestions for finding the best prices on clean products for beauty, health, and home.

Brick & Mortar

  • Whole Foods – I know a lot of people who humorously refer to Whole Foods as Whole Paycheck (I might be one of those people…), but they offer high quality products and their home and beauty section lets you test/sample a huge assortment of products…this is great because I love to sample products before I purchase. Their website also has a Quality Standards page, with links to lists of ingredients that they have banned in their products as well as info on their quality practices.  Definitely a worthy read if you are researching ingredients and want to learn more.
  • Ulta – Not a clean beauty store per se, but Ulta carries a few clean brands that I have used and enjoy.  Good brands I’ve seen at my local Ulta include 100% Pure, Zoya nail polish and Pacifica.
  • Sephora – Again, not necessarily seen as a clean beauty store, Sephora does offer some brands that have decent products.  Tarte and Josie Maran are two brands they carry that, while not necessarily the “cleanest” makeup brands out there, are still far better than many other conventional brands.  They also carry Bite Beauty, which have some amazing non-toxic lip products.
  • Target – Definitely helping clean brands break-through into the mainstream is Target.  They have begun to carry amazing non-toxic brands such as Acure and S.W. Basics, both phenomenal clean brands.  They also carry all-natural home and health products.
  • Small local health stores – Most cities have at least one health store.  The one I go to is small but carries health food, vitamins and supplements, pet food, makeup, essential oils, and more.  It’s a great resource for asking questions about what products to purchase for certain issues, or which homeopathic approaches are best for things like insect bites, colds, sinus conditions, etc.  Often they can be a bit more expensive than online stores, but not always.  Also, they offer in-person feedback/info on their products, which can prove to be invaluable.

What are your favorite brick & mortar stores for all-natural, clean products?