My Favorite YouTube Channels

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I don’t have cable and don’t watch a lot of Hulu or movies (and when I do, it’s almost always in the evenings with my husband for an hour or so).  This means I get most of my “TV entertainment” from YouTube – which showcases a ton of quality content makers!  I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me channels.  What follows is a list of some of my favorite channels right now, by category.  I’d love to hear suggestions for your favorite channels!

 

Home (Design, Organization, Cleaning)

  1. AtHomeWithNikki – She has such a lovely personality and exceptional design taste.
  2. Do It on a Dime – If you like budget friendly home decor/organizing ideas, she is great.
  3. Molly Sims – I love Molly’s videos; topics range from home, kids, recipes, decor, and more
  4. VasseurBeauty – This girl is so likeable and has fantastic home hack/cleaning/DIY videos!
  5. Clean My Space – A recent find – I always love a good video with cleaning tips

Budget & Finances

  1. Sugar Mamma – Canna is smart, savvy, and fun to watch – lots of financial information
  2. Rachel Cruze – A mom who really knows what budgeting and financial freedom is all about

Natural & Inspirational Lifestyle

  1. Alli Cherry – This Cali girl hits on various topics, natural living being very prominent
  2. Christine Kobzeff – It’s beautiful to look at life through Christine’s eyes
  3. HolisticHabits – Although she sporadically uploads, her videos are all great
  4. Infinite Waters (Diving Deep) – Self-improvement from a West Coast vegan psychologist
  5. Kendra Atkins – Another lovable Cali girl.  Uploads are primarily beauty and baby related
  6. Laura’s Natural Life – A holistic nutritionist who also loves green beauty
  7. Shannon Sullivan – Well-rounded content on health, beauty, cooking, wellness, and more

Vegan Food & Recipes

  1. HealthyGroceryGirl – Registered Dietician with lots of healthy recipes and some miscellany
  2. Hot For Food – “drool worthy” vegan recipes
  3. SweetPotatoSoul – Unique and delicious vegan recipes are Jenné’s primary content

Beauty

  1. Caroline Hirons – International facialist and beauty lover who knows her stuff.
  2. Jenna Catherine – Natural beauty lover from Canada: tutorials, reviews, and more
  3. Kathleen Lights – By far the most loveable mainstream YouTube beauty guru
  4. L’amour et la Musique – Her words: “Beauty rituals as energy work.” Thoughtful.
  5. Lisa Eldridge – International makeup artist.  The REAL thing.  Amazing.
  6. MakeupTIA – Beauty lover with the best video and [occasional] vlog editing
  7. Sophie Uliano – One of the originals of green beauty and wellness.  Love her.
  8. ttsandra – I could listen to Sandra talk about makeup for hours.

ASMR

  1. Gentle Whispering ASMR – I love ASMR deeply.  Maria is classic!
  2. WhispersRed ASMR – Excellent quality, well thought out ASMR
  3. After A Fashion ASMR – Extended length ASMR with a great soft voice

Current Daily Makeup – MOTD

I typically wear makeup about 5 or 6 days a week – workdays M-F and usually one weekend day.  Lately I’ve been using the same products when I do quick makeup in the morning.

After skincare:

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil Free Moisturizer – I love the consistency of this. It is moisturizing but not greasy or heavy, contains 20% non-nano zinc oxide as the physical sunscreen, smells slightly citrusy, and retails for $29 for 2 ozs – one of the more affordable non-toxic face sunscreens on the market.
Fitglow Vita-Active Foundation in VF1 – I use two pumps and using my finger, dot it all over my face.  I then use a face buffing brush to work it into my skin.  I use a damp beauty sponge afterwords to blur any brush lines
Fitglow Beauty Eye Bright/Kat Von D Lock-It ConcealerW3LL People Bio Correct Concealer – I am trying to use up my Fitglow Eye Bright and the Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer – both are OK.  I can’t personally use the Eye Bright by itself – I always have to layer another concealer on top of it.  The Kat Von D concealer is good but a bit drying and somewhat difficult to blend.  I have a sample of the W3LL People Bio Active Concealer and really like it but my dark circles peek out after 3 or 4 hours of wear.  Next, I might try the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer…
Tarte Smooth Operator Pressed Setting Powder – under eyes to set concealer, around sides of nose

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz  – I use Taupe, and it’s the only brow product I’ve been able to find that is a close match to my eyebrows without having red tones.  The tip is precise enough to fill in my brows where I need it the most.  I like this better than the ABH Brow Definer because it gives more control of exactly where I need the product to be.

Everyday Minerals All Over Shimmer – for days when I want a subtle glow, I use a light dusting over my entire face
Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer – this is perfect for fair skin, and is more of a neutral toned bronzer that isn’t too orange and isn’t gray, either.

Jane Iredale PurePressed Blush in Cotton Candy – a pretty neutral rose shade with incredibly subtle shimmer
Anastasia Beverly Hills Renaissance Eye Palette  I can do neutral or smoky and anything in between with this palette.  For a very simple everyday eye look, I use Tempura all over, and Buon Fresco blended up to my crease, with Cypress Umber on my lash line.  There is some fall out, but the shades are gorgeous and blend very easily

Modern Minerals Moonstone Highlighter – So beautiful, so creamy and easy to apply
W3LL People Expressionist Mascara – an old favorite
Kosas Rosewater Lipstick – a beautiful everyday light-medium rose color with subtle mauve undertones, fantastic formula and wear time

What are some of your no-fail, go-to everyday makeup products?

My Frustrations: The Green Marketplace

You know the expression, “opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one.”

Well, here are a few of my gripes with the market known interchangeably as non-toxic/green/all-natural beauty.

I say this with love and respect for all those who strive to bring ethical, eco, non-toxic skin and beauty products to consumers. I will always buy and support non-toxic, ethical brands!  But I still get cranky about a few things.  Namely:

 

  • How many times have I struggled, staring at a screen, trying to decide what color or shade would work best on my skin tone?  I’d hate to know the exact amount of time I’ve spent on doing just that. Selecting the right shade of a product is a bit of a gamble at best, and downright frustrating and time consuming at worst.  Unless you are blessed to live in a major city that has a green beauty store, you’re like me and have to rely solely on reviews and internet pictures…or, if you’re super lucky, samples. [And of the websites that DO sell samples, they aren’t all that cheap.  Usually one sample is around $3-5 and many charge shipping in addition. Recently I wanted a sample of a product.  The sample was about $6 and the shipping was more than that.  I chose not to buy the sample.]

 

  • If you buy a product online and the color doesn’t match, your skin has a reaction, or you just hate the performance, 9 times out of 10, you’ve just lost your hard-earned money. It’s happened to me multiple times, and all I can do is toss it or pass it along to a family member who *might* use it. Yes, some companies accept returns, but most don’t and even when they do, it’s a hassle.

 

  • Desire for pure ingredients versus the higher the price tag. What to do when the price of a product exceeds what you can reasonably spend, but the alternative products are not “clean” enough?  There is no compromise sometimes.  A few times I’ve had to decide between the more expensive clean product and the less expensive dirtier product.

 

  • Off the top of my head, I can think of two or three beauty bloggers that I trust what they say.  Like, really trust.  The rest of the beauty bloggers I take with a grain of salt, or sometimes with a very suspicious eye.  Right now, there are a couple of green beauty bloggers I’m this close to writing off because they seem so insincere.  There are quite a few green beauty bloggers that receive lots of PR packages (i.e. free products!) and the reviews are almost always glowing.  It must be a double edged sword for some of these bloggers. Most people feel driven to say gracious, complementary things about gifts.  Think about Christmas time when friends and family give you items you aren’t thrilled with – you wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying something negative, right?  I’m sure beauty bloggers feel torn, too.  Sure, most of them will include a disclaimer that says something about “all opinions are my own” and so forth…but, really?  I’d bet money that if they were all 100% completely honest, free PR products at least sometimes skew their reviews, even if it was done unconsciously.  [No, I don’t receive any PR.  No, I’m not jealous.  Even if I were given PR products, I’d be seriously upfront about my honesty, at the risk of losing that PR relationship.  But…that’s ME.]

 

  • There has been a major push towards “self care” in the women’s beauty space. While a lovely and beautiful sentiment, part of its mantra seems to say, “buy this expensive green product because you’re worth it.” But for women/families on a budget, you really have to think long and hard and make decisions on what to spend money.  Yes, I actually do believe in self-care whole-heartedly and I know that self-care doesn’t always mean you need to buy a product.  Self-care can be as simple as taking a walk or a hot bath or doing yoga.  But let’s be real – a lot of self-care harkens back to using products.

 

  • Some companies will proudly tell you that yes, their products are very expensive because they are luxury, high quality, all-natural products – and I get that, but it alienates people, too.  Why can’t one company have high-end and more affordable products as well?  The short answer is, they could – they chose not to (for various reasons, I’m sure). Everyone is entitled to do their own thing, and I respect that, but it’s disappointing when lovely brands are leaving out an entire population of more budget-conscious women and men.

 

I have been using non-toxic green beauty products for at least 10 years.  That doesn’t mean I went 100% non-toxic 10 years ago, but that’s when I started transitioning.  I wouldn’t go back to the mainstream dirty beauty items of my teens for anything – I’d rather go bare faced than use toxic makeup and skincare.  So, yes, we’re all sisters-in-arms in this green beauty space.  This is all said with love and respect, but it’s also healthy and natural to vent about the things that could be improved upon.

Baby #2: First Trimester Musings

Photograph from the book “Yoga: The Essential Positions” by Jacqueline May Lysycia

I received one of the biggest shocks of my life last autumn.  At an ob/gyn appointment for cyst pain, the doctor said she wanted to do a routine pregnancy test.  However, I really, really, really didn’t expect the doctor to come up to me 10 minutes later with a funny look on her face…and then tell me I was pregnant.

It has been several years since I had my one and only child, my daughter.  It truly feels like starting all over in many ways.  However, I’m older than the first time around, and hopefully more prepared this time.

The whole spectrum of emotions has hit me at different moments over the past several weeks.  I’ve felt shock, disbelief, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, excited, happy, and blessed.  Sometimes I feel several different emotions in one day.

As with my first pregnancy, my true prayer is to have a healthy child.  Here are some changes I’ve experienced as well as the things that have been the most useful and comforting to me thus far.  Now I am nicely into my second trimester, but I’m dealing with a second round of morning sickness, which stopped around 12 or 13 weeks and then came back about 2 weeks after that.

Symptoms & Body Changes

  • Nausea/Morning Sickness accompanied with dizziness and body aches
  • Discharge a.k.a. leukorrhea
  • Mild to moderate fatigue
  • Ovarian cyst pain around weeks 2-6
  • Tender breasts
  • Tender stomach
  • Beginning of a belly bump
  • Mild breakouts on my face, almost exclusively around my mouth and chin area
  • Bizarre dreams
  • Restless sleep
  • Very frequent urination

 

New Habits I’ve Adopted

  • Daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid/folate – pretty standard
  • Kegals – to strengthen the muscles in preparation for childbirth
  • Daily stretches and squats – again, to strengthen my muscles and be as fit as possible for childbirth
  • Walks – as applicable when the weather allows
  • Meditation/Relaxation practices, light yoga as allowed (when I’m not sick) – As an aside, this isn’t really a new habit – but I added it to this list and I think it is essential that when you’re pregnant and growing a baby, you try to have as calm and peaceful a demeanor as possible for YOUR set of circumstances.  I have many stress triggers in my life, but I constantly bring myself back to a state of relaxation and meditative peacefulness for my sake and my baby’s sake.

 

A Few Pregnancy Favorites So Far

  • Peppermint tea – for morning sickness/nausea
  • Pregnancy tea – soothing and mild, suitable for when I’m nauseous
  • ASMR – for relaxation when I have morning sickness or anxiety
  • What To Expect When Expecting book & app – for weekly summary of how baby is developing
  • Meow Meow Tweet Spot Treatment – for hormonal breakouts
  • Motherhood Maternity & Old Navy Maternity – for comfy, affordable clothes;  I’ve also purchased a few maternity clothes from consignment stores
  • Sea Bands – for nausea…I couldn’t say how well they worked, but I have them
  • Sour hard candies – for nausea…again, not sure how much they helped, but they were cheaper than Preggy Pops and essentially the same thing
  • Hot cocoa in lieu of coffee – heat almond milk and then whisk in cocoa and stevia.  Voila.

What are/were your favorites during pregnancy?  I’d love to hear about what you love(d) in the comments!

Vitacost Order #3

A post where I share what I recently purchased on vitacost.com and why!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Essence Whitening Plus Toothpaste – This toothpaste was nice, but the downside for me was the cool mint flavor was almost overpowering.  It’s easily one of the strongest mint toothpastes I’ve tried.  For that reason, I can’t bring myself to repurchase, although we did use up all of this tube.

 

 

Dr Tungs Smart Floss® Natural Cardamom

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss – A frequent repurchase, this is the only floss I’ve used for about two years.  It just gets my teeth cleaner than any other floss I’ve tried.

 

 

Garden of Life Organic Kids Probiotics – Another product I’ve purchased over and over.  My daughter doesn’t love the chalky consistency, but she will take it every morning out of routine.  I actually take this as my probiotic as well.  The quality is very good and I like for us both to take a daily probiotic.

 

 

Source of Life Animal Parade Multi-Vitamin Gummies – I’m constantly trying to find a high quality gummy vitamin my daughter actually likes.  She greatly dislikes chalky chewables so I try to find decent gummy vitamins.  These are a pass.  We are still using them up, but she doesn’t like them.  I have to agree – they have a strong “medicine” type of smell and taste about the same.  I won’t repurchase.

 

Now Ultra B-12 Liquid – A solid B-12 supplement that is good to always have around.  My husband, who eats some meat, even likes taking this in the morning for an extra boost.

 

Natracare Baby Wipes – I always keep baby wipes in the car for sticky faces and hands.  This particular brand has some oils added into the wipes, so they are less drying than some other brands.

 

Honest Company Conditioning Detangler – Another staple in our house.  This is easily my favorite natural leave-in conditioning spray I’ve tried, and that includes some high-end leave-in conditioners.  The vanilla orange scent is light and fresh and it moisturizes my hair and my daughter’s without weighing it down or looking greasy.

 

Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner – Maybe this is a product that is easy to DIY, but it’s convenient to add it to my Vitacost cart when I run out.  It’s what I use for cleaning countertops and tables because it works and it doesn’t leave a film or streaky residue.

 

Vitacost Organic Microwave Popcorn – I’m not a huge fan of the microwave popcorn bags, but I pick up these every so often for convenience.  My daughter and I share one occasionally when we watch a movie.  This brand in particular seems to burn quite easily before all the kernels have popped, so I have to be very vigilant when I put it in the microwave or I get burnt popcorn.

What are your favorite items to buy on Vitacost?

 

Thoughts on 3 High-End Makeup Primers

I’ve tried 3 luxury makeup primers over the past couple of months. Here are my thoughts and experiences:

 

Becca Backlight Priming Filterhere

The ingredients I couldn’t get over: fragrance (a very vague ingredient term used to hide many other ingredients, so you don’t really ever know what the “fragrance” is made of) and sodium hydroxide. I loved the texture so much, so this was really difficult to return. The look was subtle but noticeable, it played well with skincare and makeup, and I looked a bit glowy throughout the day. I would potentially purchase this again with two provisos: one, if I couldn’t find a better natural replacement, and two, just to use in the winter when my skin needs extra moisture.  The color is a pale champagne.  The finish is a glowy satin. The packaging is a gorgeous glass bottle with an excellent pump.

Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primerhere

This smelled better and had better ingredients than Becca, but the texture was very thin which I truly did not care for. It seemed to make less of a difference under makeup than Becca. I loved the ingredients, but felt very indifferent to the actual product.  The color is a shimmy pearl.  The finish is a faint pearly sheen satin. The packaging is very beautiful with silver cap and frosted glass jar with a great pump.

 

Vapour Organic Beauty Stratus Soft Focus Primerhere

Picking this up a great price was truly motivating, but also a gamble. Although I got it at a great price, unlike the other two primers I tried, I couldn’t return it if I wasn’t happy with it. This is the massive downside to purchasing an item you’ve never tried from the internet .  The color is a pale shimmery pink.  The texture is not as creamy and whipped as the Becca, but definitely richer than the Juice Beauty.  The finish gives a matte satin finish to my skin but it isn’t drying at all.  It almost feels like it has silicone in it, but it doesn’t.  It has the faintest of pale pink shimmery undertones, but don’t let that scare you because it doesn’t really show up on the skin that way.  When I remember, I use this one everyday under my makeup. The packaging is the least chic of the three, and plastic.  The pump is lacking because it dispenses different amounts of product with each pump, which is quite irksome. I’m wondering how the pump will work when the bottle is nearing empty.  Bottom line of truth: the product itself is very pretty and adds an extra layer of moisturizing product to give a good base for makeup.  Do I notice a truly profound difference in the way my makeup looks?  No, and for that reason it’s not an essential product for me.  However, it is really nice and I would recommend it the most out of these three for texture, efficacy, and quality of ingredients.

What makeup primer do you use and love?

Graze Snack Box Subscription: A Review

Like most families, we snack around here.  Ideally, snacks are convenient, tasty, moderately healthy, and free of bad ingredients (hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial food dyes, to name just a few).

The problem is, when someone wants a snack, they often don’t want to have to think too hard about what to grab.  Often, we eat fresh fruit as a snack, but there are plenty of times we want something else.  Then there are times when we need a portable snack that can be thrown in a bag.

Ideally, I wanted to find snacks that the whole family would be willing to eat – not just me.  I tried Graze because I had a coupon code for a free 4-snack box.  I like the idea of individually portioned shelf-stable snacks that range from savory to sweet.  They aren’t organic, but they are completely non-GMO, and they do not use artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or hydrogenated oils.

You can customize what types of snacks you get in the preferences of your account – you can choose to have only vegan snacks, or gluten free, or dairy free, for example.  Also, there is the option of going through the snack list one-by-one and choosing whether you want to “trash” a snack, try a snack, like a snack, or love a snack. This helps customize snack boxes to fit your desires.  In short, you don’t actually get to hand pick the snacks you’ll be receiving, but you essentially narrow the field down to a list of items you are happy with receiving – so the actual box you receive it a bit of a surprise.

As far as frequency of boxes, you can choose to receive a box once a month, every two weeks, or every week.  I currently receive a snack box every two weeks.

I know boxes like Vegan Cuts are quite popular with a lot of people, and I’d like to try that snack box, too – but the month to month subscription is $22.95.  An 8-snack Graze box is $11.99.  So for now, I’m going to stick with Graze.

One complaint I have is that Graze sends a separate Nutritional Information sheet in the snack box for just the snacks included in that particular snack box.  That means that individual snacks don’t have nutritional info or ingredients listed on the packaging.  For me this is annoying, as I attempt to monitor my calories every day and would like to see the product info on the actual snack, not on a separate piece of paper.

The majority of snacks in the Graze menu contain nuts, seeds, crackers, beans, dried fruit, or some “healthy” sweets, like “flapjacks” aka granola bars, peanut butter dippers and oat & spelt cookies.  I like the variety of flavors and spices, as it helps to keep snacks interesting instead of eating smoked almonds or plain pretzels for the 1000th time.

Another very nice focus the company has is that each snack has some kind of nutritional benefit.  Snacks are either listed as 150 calories or less, high in protein, high in fiber, or high in vitamins and minerals – every snack has a positive nutritional aspect.  I really appreciate that.  Sometimes I really need protein, but other times I just want something to munch on that isn’t too high in calories.  The snack boxes give me a little of everything.  I also like that there are some sweet treats available that are healthier than typical grocery store kid snacks. My daughter likes sweet treats, and it’s nice to be able to give her a pre-portioned Graze snack that I can easily see is 120 calories and contains no bad ingredients.

Overall, this snack box is a really convenient addition to my family’s food options.  My daughter, husband, and I all enjoy the snacks which is saying a lot – we are all picky in our own ways and we’ve all had snacks we’ve enjoyed.  So far, not one of our snacks has been thrown away because it tasted bad.  Some items we’ve enjoyed more than others, but overall I’ve been very happy with the selections.   Even if we were to receive a snack that we didn’t like, it’s simple to mark that snack as “Trash” on my Graze profile and I will never receive it again.

Do you subscribe to any healthy snack boxes?  If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!

Comfort and Wisdom with a Side of Encouragement

shadeandlight

Comfort

A phrase I’ve used to comfort myself many, many times in my life: “This, too, shall pass.”

If there is one thing we can count on in life, it is that things are ALWAYS changing, evolving.  If you let it, that thought can be of great comfort.

The Serenity Prayer is an oldie but a goodie, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Look back in your past at all the pain, anxiety, fears, hurts, and struggles you have had.  And then know that not only have you survived it all, you are stronger, wiser, and even happier because of those struggles.

 

Wisdom

Think before you speak, especially during arguments.

Along the same lines, “Before you speak, ask yourself: ‘Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?'”

Be kind to others, because you never know what battles he or she is fighting.

Would your mother and/or father be proud of the things that you say and do when they are not around?

Our children and grandchildren will inherit this earth.  Let us leave it better than we found it so that they can lead happy lives.

The media unrelentingly exploits the negativity in the world.  There is still so much good and love and progress out there that we aren’t shown.  Believe that it is there, look for it in everyday life and you will see it.

 

Encouragement

Look at what you’ve got and make the best of it.  It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

If you want the world to change, you MUST start with yourself.  In other words, be the change you wish to see in the world.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind – C.S. Lewis