All-Natural Summer Skincare Routine


Finding a skincare routine that actually works is like scaling a mountain – so trying, but so rewarding when you reach the top.  My skin is very finicky and changes with the seasons, so I basically had to completely overhaul my skincare between winter and summer.  I finally have a combination of products that are working well for my skin.

(FYI, my skin is combination-normal right now.  It is not oily nor dry. I have not had any real breakouts in a couple of months.  The main issue I have been dealing with is some clogged pores.)

Morning Routine:

In the morning I start with Osmia Organics Luz Enzyme Facial Soap which I’ve only been using for about two weeks.  I absolutely love this soap – it lathers so well but doesn’t strip my skin at all.  I follow that with a few spritzes of Britannie’s Thyme Balancing Facial Toner, which feels cooling due to peppermint oil.  However, this toner is surprisingly gentle on my skin.  I love it for summer.

I follow with a few drops of oil, lately it has been either Skin Owl Beauty Drops in Geranium or Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil, both of which I really enjoy.  The scents of both are quite nice, too, though the MMT is a bit earthier.  These two oils are also very affordable as far as all-natural face oils go.  Finally, I usually add a pea sized amount of Acure Oil Control Facial Moisturizer and spread it over my face before I start on my sunscreen and makeup.


Night Routine:

Night is more intensive because not only do I need to remove my makeup, but I want to prepare my skin with high-quality products that will work during the night.  I have been using the Meow Meow Tweet Oil Cleanser to remove makeup.  I remove eye makeup first and then use it on the rest of my face with a hot muslin cloth. I don’t think I like this oil cleanser as a first step.  It doesn’t remove my eye makeup well enough.  I think after I use this up I will switch back to Indigo Wild Zum Facial Cleanser which does the job better for a great price.

Once makeup is removed, I take a konjac sponge with a half pump of Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser to gently cleanse my face.  I have really enjoyed this cleanser the past several weeks I’ve used it.  Again, I spritz some Britannie’s Thyme Balancing Facial Toner and a couple of drops of the same oil from the morning – either Skin Owl Beauty Drops in Geranium OR Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil. I warm up a tiny amount of Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Eye Balm between my fingers and massage around my eye area. I actually prefer this eye balm to other eye products I’ve tried because this one is so thick.  I actually love that aspect of it because my eyes are still moisturized in the morning.

After these products have had a couple of minutes to sink into my skin, I massage into my skin one pump of True Nature Botanicals Pacific Night Serum with Retinol (about 3-4 times a week). I love this product and don’t even want to think about it being empty. It is so gentle on my skin and doesn’t cause any irritation at all.



About twice a week I gently scrub my face with the Acure Brightening Facial Scrub.  And about once a week I have been using the Mahalo Pele Face Mask which so far, seems to be the best face mask I have ever used.  My skin always looks better the day after I use this mask.

Have you used any of these products?  What skincare products are you having success with this summer?

5 Things I Do To Make Grocery Trips Easier


I’m forever looking for ways to simplify and make things easier and less stressful. Simplifying grocery shopping is always something I’m tinkering with, and these are a few of the things I’ve learned to do to make my grocery trips less time consuming and more productive.

1.  I make a categorized shopping list.  I use a sheet of unlined paper and make columns for each section of the grocery store I will be buying from: Produce, Organics/All Natural, Grocery, Frozen. Adjust this for the sections you shop.  This makes it so much easier for me to scan my produce list and make sure I got everything I need from just that department.

2. I don’t have a budget.  I know that for many people a budget is key.  However, I am fortunate enough to be able to spend a little extra if I feel something is worth it.  For instance, if an item we use all the time (all-natural peanut butter, for instance) is on sale for only a few more days, then we stock up with several jars because we eat a lot of peanut butter.  Also, if we come across markdowns/clearance on items that we like or will use, we will grab those too, even if they aren’t on the list (toilet paper, vitamins, dishsoap, etc).  The bottom line is that, for us, it absolutely saves money in the long run.

3. I go on a bigger trip every other week, with a fresh produce trip every week.  In the past I went on a weekly grocery trip.  Over time, it just became a chore.  I would feel stressed about getting to the grocery and it was making me cranky.  We switched to going on a large trip every other week, which has simplified grocery shopping for us.  Now I only have a big trip roughly twice a month, and on off weeks, all we need to do is a super quick trip through produce to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. I plan on some snack foods or easy meals nights.  I could pretend that I make super healthy and fresh meals 7 nights a week, but it just doesn’t happen.  Ever.  With a full-time job and a little girl, it isn’t reality for me. It makes my life less stressful to accept that there will be a night or two where I just don’t have the time or energy to cook.  On those nights, I can put together something simple like frozen veggie burgers, peas, and apple slices and not worry about  the temptation to eat out.

5. I prefer to go shopping when I’m right in-between hunger and satiation.  If I’m super hungry, I’ll be much more tempted to grab everything in sight, because everything will look delicious.  On the other hand, if my stomach is really full, food looks much less appealing, which usually will result in my not picking up enough food items.  Balance is key for me.

What are your methods to make grocery shopping easier?

Products I’ve Used Up: Skincare & Makeup


Lots of products I used up during the last half of winter and spring.  Some products I loved, some I didn’t!

Flo + Theo Body Butter in Lemon Orchard – I loved this Petit Vour sample – the scent, the whipped texture, the way it hydrated my skin.  I would consider repurchasing if I ever run out of body lotion/oil/butters, which I never seem to do.

Balanced Guru Scrub Me – Another Petit Vour sample.  I enjoyed this very much the first time I used it, however, after a couple of weeks I opened it to use again, and it had dried out to the point where I couldn’t really use it, which was very disappointing.

One Love Organics Skin Savior – One of the products I used during the winter and early part of the spring to combat my very sensitive and dry skin.  Possibly will repurchase this fall, but there are some other cold weather skincare products I might try instead.

BWC Brown Eyeliner – Yet another Petit Vour sample, this one from last fall I believe.  I tried to like this, I tried not to waste it – but this eyeliner is terrible.  The color payoff is minimal and I had to really tug on my eye to get any to show up.  Not worth it, so I got rid of it.

Balanced Guru Fearless Spray – Another disappointment I just could not get myself to enjoy.  The smell, for me, was terrible.  It just smelled unpleasant.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub – A staple in my shower that I use a couple of times a week.  So nice and such a great price point.

Hurraw! Lip Balm in Orange – Possibly my favorite flavor from my favorite lip balm company. More here.

Stark Grapefruit Balm – A sample I received with an Integrity Botanicals order last winter, I used this on my winter skin and really enjoyed the consistency and scent.  I did not like it as a cleanser, however.

W3LL People Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara – Favorite mascara, ever. Excellent non-flaking formula, perfect wand, perfect consistency.  Enough said.

Mineral Fusion Oil Cleanser – Bought this on a whim and I basically forced myself to use it up – no other oil cleanser compares to the original formula of the ED4OLO Vitamin B Cleansing Oil.  Sadly, I heard that to obtain ECOCERT status, OLO had to take out one of the ingredients that made their cleansing oil so great.  Disappointing, but I do understand.

Laurel WPO Healing Balm – Another Integrity Botanicals Sample – I loved this balm so much, it was my favorite out of the face balms I used in the winter (OLO Skin Savior and Stark Grapefruit Balm being the other two).  I would definitely consider purchasing a full size this fall.

Coola Mineral Sunscreen Tint – My favorite summer sunscreen, which I recently posted about here.

Evan Healy Rose Geranium Hydrosoul – I love EH hydrosols – there are just excellent quality.  I don’t think you could go wrong with any of their hydrosols.  Expensive, but so nice.

Root Science Youth Serum – An excellent serum.  I would definitely repurchase.

Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Castile Soap – The granddaddy of all-natural multi-purpose products.  I primarily use this watered down to clean my kitchen and bathroom. Look here.

Alteya Organics Bulgarian Rose Water – Such a beautiful rose water.  I picked this up at Whole Foods and absolutely loved it to the last drop. I primarily use rose water to set my makeup or as a pick-me-up during the day.

Raw Skinceuticals Cream Blush – A Petit Vour sample that just didn’t make sense to me.  The color was a weird mauve-lavender and the texture was creamy but somehow still dry.  It didn’t blend easily, either.  No, thanks.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator – A cult status product that just didn’t wow me personally.  I got at least 10 uses out of the mini size, which was impressive.  However, I just never noticed a difference in my skin – it was not softer, clearer, or brighter after using.

Lotus Wei Inner Peace Energy Mist – Loved this, but not quite as much as their Infinite Love Energy Mist, which has the most amazing scent. These products truly have an immediate, positive affect on my mood and sense of well-being.

Christopher Drummond Duo Phase Hydrating Concealer (FYI – now Hynt Beauty) – My favorite concealer ever.  It doesn’t crease, lasts all day, and covers my dark circles and redness.  I won’t fix what isn’t broken, so I just keep repurchasing this one again and again.  This company recently became Hynt Beauty and this is the concealer now.  I hope it is exactly the same as the old formula!

 Are any of these products favorites of yours?  Are there any you have tried and were disappointed with?

Food, Fads, Diets, and Eating “Healthy”


You have your way.  I have my way.  As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.

-Friedrich Nietzsche


“Healthy diet” is such a relative phrase these days.  There is an endless parade of articles constantly contradicting one another on what constitutes a healthy diet.

Bananas are bad for you and full of sugar!  Bananas are healthy!

Stay away from carbs!  Your body needs carbs, eat some bread!

Eat raw!  Raw eating is not sustainable for most people!

Paleo is the best for your body!  Paleo is totally wrong!

On and on and ON.

I had a typical American diet until I was about 15 years old – full of meat, dairy, processed snacks, and soda.  In my mother’s defense, she did cook at home a lot and we definitely had vegetables and fruit, but my diet was not nearly as wholesome as it should have been.

My high school cafeteria was a processed food waste land – in the 90’s and 2000’s, at least where I grew up, there was practically no emphasis on eating healthy.  Students had the option of a lunch line full of fried foods, snack cakes, chips, and soda.  I felt enormous peer pressure to eat junk food like most of the other kids.  So often in high school, my typical “lunch” was a sugar bomb fruit drink and trans-fat fries.  Is it surprising that during this time I put on a lot of weight?

When I was about 16, I became a vegetarian.  My lifestyle choice was an anomaly to everyone around me and I knew nothing about what constituted a healthy vegetarian diet.  I only knew that I no longer wanted to consume meat products of any kind.  With little education and no other vegetarians to look up to for guidance, I was on my own.  I replaced meat with more dairy, bread, cereals, and whatever I could fill up on that wasn’t meat.  It didn’t help that my local grocery carried precious little in the way of “vegetarian meat replacements” – there was tofu and maybe one type of veggie burger.

After several years of eating what I now consider a shitty vegetarian diet, I incorporated more  foods such as whole grains, legumes, tempeh, edamame, and more.  It worked well for a while.  A long while.

Over the years I also learned more about what was clearly not good for my body and eliminated these ingredients from my diet almost completely.  Artificial sugars, added sugar, hydrogenated oils/trans fats, artificial colors, artificial flavor, etc.  My eating habits seemed to be working for me and my diet was getting healthier the older I got.

Then last year, I started having hormonal issues and developed multiple ovarian cysts on two separate occasions. One cyst was so severe that it culminated in surgery.  The terrible pain that I experienced made me desperate to keep it from ever happening again.  As I normally do, I looked for a holistic approach to healing my body.  I had an “A-ha!” moment when I remembered that soy is known to mimic estrogen in the body.  I had been consuming soy on a daily basis. The reality hit me hard and fast that one of the best things I could do for my body was to drastically cut back my soy consumption to almost none, which I did immediately.

I began supplementing myself with more dairy and beans, but I experienced terrible stomach pain and bloating almost daily.  This is when I started looking into a vegan diet and did some research. I made up my mind to transition to a vegan diet both for ethical and health reasons.

What I believe at this point in my life is that every person’s body is unique.  I may not be a trained medical doctor, nutritionist, or dietician, but I question how could one way of eating perfectly serve every single human on the planet?  That is why when I see articles about the healthiest way to eat or the best lifestyle diet, I read it with interest but not as the final word on health. Obviously most people accept the fact that whole fruits and vegetables are healthier than processed or fried foods, but there are so many complex food issues beyond the easy ones.  I have to use my own body and mind as a barometer for what diet feels right to me, and so do others.

If asked about my stance, I will always advocate a diet free of animal products, specifically and most importantly, meat.  But I have never and will never try to bully others into accepting my truth as their own.  Everyone has to walk their own path in life, including making decisions about the foods they choose to eat.