8.19.2011

new blog!

The switch has officially been made, please join me on my new blog - daniella marie

Thanks!

8.10.2011

update...

Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of posts over here on Inspiration for Wellbeing. I have a list of possible post ideas that i've been meaning to get to, but i'm in the midst of possibly joining my two blogs together to cover a more lifestyle approach, including all the stuff you see here on IFW. It's something i've been thinking about for a little while now, so i'll update you all when that happens.

Thanks everyone!

*In the meantime, a few of you have asked if i've been trying more natural beauty products... i've been using Alima mineral makeup lately and it's amazing! Worth checking out.

5.18.2011

going natural :: cleanser & cream...


Over the past little while i've tried out two different brands of facial cleanser and cream. I figured since these products are applied directly to the face, it'd be a good place to start next.

The first few products I tried were by Burt Bee's. Since Burt Bee's is so readily available everywhere (pharmacies, grocery stores, online), I thought it'd be good to try out first, while I was researching other products. I picked up the "Radiance Healthy Glow Kit", which contains travel sizes of their cleanser and lotion, including night cream, eye cream, and a shimmery lip balm. The cleanser is labelled 99% natural and the face lotion, 98.2%. I'm not exactly sure what non-natural ingredients make up those small percentages, but I am impressed that Burt's Bees chose to include that info on the label at all. I could see many companies just "rounding up" to 100%. The cleanser is sweet smelling, with little "jojoba beads and a fruit acid complex that help encourage normal skin cell turnover." It doesn't lather much, since it's without the chemical sodium laureth sulfate, but I really liked it. My skin didn't have that tight and dry feeling after using, and I felt like it did a good job of taking off my makeup.

What I did not like unfortunately, was the the face lotion. It almost felt dry, in a greasy, but tacky sort of way. It didn't feel great on my hands either after applying and I found myself having to wash my hands after. This could just be how it works with my particular skin, but with the body lotion being sooo wonderful, I was a little disappointed.

After doing some research, I decided to try out Pangea Organics' "Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange" cleanser for all skin types, and the "Nigerian Ginger, Sweet Lavender & Thyme" cream for normal to combination skin types. Pangea's products are pricier than Burt's Bees at $28 and $36, but I definitely like them a whole lot better. The cleanser didn't leave my skin feeling dry or tight either, and I found it really soothed any red areas on my skin. I have fair skin, so I tend to get a little red sometimes, for who knows what reason, lol. I like it a lot so far though! It has a sweet smell, mixed with the floral scent of lavender.

The facial cream is also really nice. It has a bit of a strong medicinal scent when first applied, but nothing that really bothers me all that much. I'm thinking of trying the dry skin version next time though, as it's supposed to be more moisturizing, compared to the slight "matte" feel that the normal to combination kind leaves.

All in all, i'm really liking the soothing qualities of Pangea's products. Another great thing about the company is that they operate out of a wind powered 10,000 sq. foot factory and are said to be the largest organic products factory in the country. Their products are also available through Sephora, making them easy to find and purchase (although I purchased through their official website).

Let me know if you find any other cleansers or face creams that you like! I will still be on the lookout for new products, but sticking to Pangea for now! Next time i'll be reviewing two scrubs, one homemade (for real!) and the other by Pangea.

5.07.2011

you need this book...


Lately, i've been doing more and more research on natural products. I've talked with quite a few people about it, co-workers and friends, and the consensus seems to be that everyone is concerned about the products they use, but no one has a lot of information or resources. Enter the book, "There's Lead In Your Lipstick" by Gillian Deacon. This book is a life-saver - literally! Upon recommendation from a reader (thanks dagmara!) I ran out get this book and haven't been able to put it down since. It has all the information you need. Gillian goes over each type of product we use in our daily life, with information about all the toxins often in those products, as well as her recommendations to replace those items with a natural version. I now know where to get natural products for practically everything! She also includes tons recipes to make your own version of say facewash, scrub, lotion, perfume, masks, make-up remover... the list goes on! If you're interested in switching over all your products to natural ones, this book is an invaluable resource. I've been recommending it to everyone! And what's also pretty great about it? Gillian is a Canadian writer, so her recommendations are sold in Canada or available to order online. No disappointment over "We don't ship outside of the U.S." Gillian also has this handy wallet tip sheet you can print out and take with you're when your shopping.

I've ordered new face wash and lotion recently, which i'll review here just after a week of using the products. I'm also waiting for a new French Lilac perfume and bodywash to arrive. That one might be hard as I love ChloƩ perfume. I'll be looking into makeup next, as I just realized my pressed powder has talc as the first and most prominent ingredient (insert horrified look on face here - i've been using it for 6 years!)... so stay tuned!

4.27.2011

farmaesthetics :: field to face...








Recently I came across an article in Whole Living about Farmaesthetics, a business started by Brenda Brock that boasts fine herbal skincare from the farm. Using local ingredients and inspiration from her Grandmother's recipes, she began by making skin ointments for friends and family and quickly moved to sales on a roadside stand. Now with a store in Newport, Rhode Island, Farmaesthetics has over 67 products, ranging from herbal cleansers to sweet milk exfoliate, remedy oils to complexion tonics... all 100% natural. Think lavender, camomile, rosehip, aloe, corn meal, beeswax, grapeseed, plant oils and more! If Rhode Island wasn't so far away i'd be in my car right now headed for their shop!

I also love that Brenda still writes all her labels by hand and then has a printer scan them for the packaging. On deciding whether or not new packaging has the appropriate vintage feel, she sets it next to a radio from the 1930's, and if it's a good match, she knows it'll fit in perfectly with the rest. How great is that?

Somehow I have to get my hands on some of these products, anyone live in Newport? lol...

Photos & article: Scans by myself from Whole Living April 2011, photographer Frederic Lagrange, writer Olessa Pindak

4.20.2011

going natural :: body lotion...


I decided to start the switch over to natural products with something easy - body lotion. There's a lot of options out there for body lotions, both natural and not-so-natural. Before I was using a certain "baby lotion" only to learn it has ingredients like strong skin irritants, possible carcinogens, parabens, BHT, synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar sources and all kinds of other toxins... and it's considered baby lotion. Sigh... isn't that crazy? The whole reason I bought it was because I thought it would be gentle and now I feel quite mislead.

So, i've been wanting to try out Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion for a while now. It's been getting great reviews in a few different magazines and it's 99% natural. I love it so far. It has a light honey scent that stays with you all day (very light, not perfumy or anything), and it really is moisturizing! It has all kinds of great ingredients like shea butter, coconut, grapeseed and olive oil, honey, vitamin E and much more. It's $12.99 (CAD) for 170g (70g bottle shown here), which may seem a lot to some people I imagine, but I just really think it's worth it for a better product. Sure I paid less than 5 bucks for the other lotion, but what exactly was I paying for? A bunch of synthetic ingredients? No thanks. I'm sticking to Burt's Bees on this one!

Photo: Burt's Bees, edited by myself

4.18.2011

an "ah-ha" moment...





Hi everyone! Sorry for not keeping up with posting here on IFW. As you can probably tell from my lack of posts, i've also been lacking with leading a healthier lifestyle. I got very busy it seems with who knows what really, and as a result (at least I think so) I ended up getting sick last week. What can I say? Sometimes you fall off that healthy path, only to start freshly inspired again when all else fails. I definitely got thinking about some things though...

Last week I learned a colleague has taken up a position at Burt's Bees (congrats to her!) and it got me thinking about their products again. I'm a big fan of their lip balms, especially the one with peppermint. I also got into a conversation with another colleague about Arbonne cosmetics, which lead to a discussion about beauty products in general.

Yesterday I counted that I use about 30 beauty products on any given day. This includes things like cleanser, toner, moisturizer, eye-cream, toothpaste, deodorant, pressed powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara, lip balm, lip gloss, perfume, lotion, hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, etc., etc., etc. It adds up quick (I encourage you to count your own). The thing is, except for my Burt's Bees lip balm, not one of these products are natural. Not one. They all have some form of chemical, petroleum, word-i-can't-even-begin-to-pronounce ingredient in them. All these products are said to be safe to use because the toxic ingredients in them are in small enough amounts to not harm an individual (according to the people who approve these products for us), but remember my count? I use a combination of around 30 of the these products every day, some twice, with a morning and night routine. I've been using these things my whole life. Of course, I wasn't using all the cosmetic-type products when I was younger, but those Lipsmackers I applied practically 30 times a day in elementary school aren't looking so great right now.

Is this at all concerning to anyone? Because if you pair this thought with all the processed food, non-organic, pesticide-laden produce we've been eating, plus the overall polluted state of the world right now, it seems a little concerning to me. It's sort of a really obvious, "that's why we have so many health issues" kind of moment.

I'm not about to ditch all my beauty products at once. That would be ridiculous, and frankly, i'm not about to head out into the world without my morning beauty routine. But, I am definitely going to start switching over. Little by little, and as each of my current products run out, i'm going to try and replace them with something as close to natural as I can possibly find. The world of finding actual real, natural, products is a little overwhelming and confusing at times though. I did a little research already, and some will be a lot harder to find than others, but when I do find a product I like i'm going to share it here. Burt's Bees is already looking promising with a lotion i'll post about soon.

So what do you think? Does this topic have you debating your favourite lip gloss? Or could you not care less, as long as the product works for you? I'm interested to see what others think...

Photos: Scans by myself, Whole Living Aug 2010 by Johnny Miller

3.04.2011

lululemon...


Hello, hello... hope everyone has had a great couple of weeks! I've been throughly enjoying yoga lately. I'm going twice a week now and the teacher is awesome. This class is a bit more fast-paced, "power" yoga I guess you could say, but I really feel like i'm making good progress. It's so refreshing, and I consistently can't wait for the next class. I love it!

This weekend i'm to Lululemon for a special shopping trip. Lululemon is a Vancouver-started yoga, running, and dancewear company that also doubles it's space as a yoga studio. They have great yoga wear, so i'm off to find a nice tank, and pair of black pants. Hope I find something cute! The above image is their manifesto, which you can download as a PDF to print off yourself... some great thoughts and advice in there, don't you think? (Tip: If you load the PDF into Illustrator, you can change the colour to whatever you want.)

Have a nice weekend!

Photo: Artwork by Lululemon

2.17.2011

steel-cut oats :: genius idea...




Oatmeal is one of those breakfasts (or snack) that is perfect for filling you up to tide you over until the next meal, at least I find that's the case for me... plus, you can top it with so many different combinations of nuts, berries, natural sweeteners, etc., that the options are limitless!

I've always been meaning to try steel-cut oats though, as opposed to quick-cooking oats. The nutritional difference between the two seems to be pretty debatable between different publications and research online so I won't really go into it, but with steel-cut oats being less processed and chopped up, that just makes sense to me as the better option of two good things.

The problem is though, that they take too long to make first-thing on a busy weekday morning, (as least for me). So when I saw this idea over on Naturally Nina, to make them overnight in a slow cooker, I couldn't help but think, genius! Ready to go as soon as you get up, add your toppings, and breakfast is served. Great idea, right?

Photos & Recipe via Naturally Nina

2.15.2011

tried & true...



Along with trying to stay healthy, there's been an awful lot of sickness going around lately. I found these steps for a simple steam last week, which is a really great at-home remedy for a stuffy nose and sinuses, hopefully making you feel a bit better!

Simply add a drop or two of peppermint oil to steaming water in a bowl, and hold your face overtop, with a tea towel draped over your head to trap the steam in. (I would start with your face back a bit and move forward just to test how warm it feels on your skin). You could always try different oils too, when you're not sick, like lavender for a relaxing end to the evening...

For full instructions, visit Reading My Tea Leaves.

awaiting spring...



Hello everyone... it's been a little while here in IFW but it's been pretty busy in general lately! After completing the Whole Living 28-Day Challenge i've continued with my yoga (2-3 classes a week now) and my ballet class (part of the Challenge to start something new). I am loving both classes, and really finding myself looking forward to them each week. So nice to get out of the computer chair and stretch over lunch, and it's been so much fun re-learning all the ballet steps I knew as a child. I've been surprising myself with my own balance lately too, so it's nice to see i'm getting better at it.

I can't wait for warmer weather though, the cozy feelings of Christmas time are starting to feel a little tiring now, and i'm craving that Spring-time feeling along with more activity. At least the sun is out these days to brighten things up. For now, there's nothing like a warm cup of tea on a chilly day...

Photos: Elena {pretty light} here & here.

1.23.2011

a healthy refrigerator...



Heading into Week 4 now of the Whole Living challenge, which feels like the time to adopt these healthy eating and exercising routines for life, not just for the last week. It's been going great, with the occasional latte (first one since December!) and a sweet treat (just two this past week)... which is pretty good as far as i'm concerned. I've noticed exercise really improves things, and i've taken up ballet class on Wednesday, which has been great for exercise but also just to try out something new. I used to take ballet when I was younger, but quit just before getting into pointe. So it feels pretty good to be re-learning the basics again!

When i'm looking to create certain goals for myself, I love getting all "officially" organized, clearing the clutter and making lists. So when I found this article about a healthy fridge makeover in an old issue of Body & Soul magazine, I knew it'd be perfect to organize my fridge for healthy eating habits here on out.

Here's some of their tips for a fridge that "fosters healthy eating":

Top shelf: This area is where you should keep items that are good for snacking such as washed & dried cut up vegetables, chunks of fruit like pineapple and melon, berries, or hard-boiled eggs. These items should be consumed within 3 days and replenished along the way.

Second shelf: A great spot for grab-and-go items such a yogurt, hummus, nut butters, and nuts.

Middle drawer: This is the ideal space for leftover cooked meats, like slices of chicken or turkey (instead of salt & nitrate filled deli-meats), cubes of cheese for snacks, and cheese like feta or parmesan for sprinkling on other foods.

Left bottom shelf: A place for healthy liquids, like pitchers of water with lemon or cucumbers, organic milk, or all-natural juices you can top up with sparkling water.

Right bottom two shelves: This is where you can keep items of what you're making for dinner, a place where fresh herbs are in sight, along with pre-made rice or whole-wheat pasta. Keep smaller portions of sauce or soup available too. Eggs should also be keep in this area, near the back since they require a cool temperature. Keep your meat or fish your using for the night in this area as well.

Bottom drawers: For fresh fruits and veggies of course! Just be sure to keep veggies in one drawer and fruit in the other.

The door: A place for condiments such as fruit preserves, marinades, sauces, homemade vinaigrette.

And the freezer: Stock up things you can use in the long-term like soup, sauce, veggies, fruit, meat, etc.

Photos: Body & Soul Nov 2009 by Raymond Hom, Article by Joanne Cheng

1.12.2011

pecan apple salad...


Doesn't this salad look absolutely delicious? Easy recipe too! This would be perfect for a quick lunch...

Ingredients (serves 4)

2-3 apples
100 g pecans
salad mix (such as radicchio, arugula and frisee)

And for the dressing...

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 orange, zest and juice
coarse salt & pepper

Slice the apples. Toast pecan quickly on a pan over medium heat until fragrant for a few minutes. Wash and dry the salad mix of your choice. Zest and juice washed orange. Mix dressing ingredients. Toss and dress the salad.

Can't wait to try this one out!

Photo & recipe: Found via Simply Seductive by Sparkling Ink

1.10.2011

week 2 + "um, what?"




Week 2 of the Whole Living Action Plan is officially here! This week is still about purifying but gradually adding back in foods like wheat, dairy, and soy. Still no sugar, processed foods, alcohol, or too much fruit juice, which frankly, I think i'm going to try and continue best I can as the year continues. It's been going well, with a lot of yummy meals made last week, which i'll share soon... along with more stretching and exercising, including core and arm toners, and working up from walking to jogging. I think the best part about this whole plan is that you don't hit the ground running. Gradually working up to jogging, and then running is such a great way to ease yourself into it all.

As I mentioned before when I first started taking yoga, I really wanted to work towards feeling less tense from sitting at my desk all day. I've been taking an hour-long yoga class on Wednesdays and doing the Whole Living yoga stretches each morning. Well today, as the afternoon slump hit, I decided it was time to get up and move around a bit, so I took a few minutes to do some stretches. When I reached down to try and touch my toes, I realized something... my legs are straight, and i'm touching the floor in front of my toes! Um, what? When did this happen? lol... I know it may sound a little silly to some people, but I have never been the "stretchy" type, so this was great for me! It really goes to show that with daily practice and gently easing your way into stretching, changes can take effect. I don't think i've ever been this excited for yoga class now!

Last week I also made some really great meals. From the Whole Living cookbook titled Power Foods, I made the Walnut-Crusted Chicken, with Roasted Root Vegetables, and on the weekend as a little treat for my boyfriend and I, I made the Walnut & Flaxseed Banana Bread. Cheating a little with the last item there, but I don't feel like i've de-railed myself at all. It was made with healthy ingredients, and now it's back to healthy meals! It's actually kind of nice to not be too hard on yourself if you eat a treat every once and a while (not every day though, lol). I highly recommended this cookbook if you're looking for some great recipes. Everything was so easy, I can't wait to try a few more out this week!

Photos: Scanned by myself - Wendell T. Webber, Kate Sears, and Johnny Miller for Power Foods.

1.06.2011

so far, so good...


So far the Whole Living 28-Day Challenge has been great! I've been making healthy meals, snacks, and drinking a lot of water with lemon. The yoga exercises in the morning are actually pretty refreshing in a way. They're not too strenuous or anything, so it's a nice way to get going in the morning. I missed walking yesterday night, but I had an hour yoga class across the street. Great, as always! I've also managed to stay away from sugary treats... free Scottish chocolate in the office, Starbucks mini vanilla scones... ahh! So yummy, but so, so bad with all that crazy sugar. I'm actually pretty proud of myself.

It's a nice change to be mindful of what you're eating, thinking, "what will this do for my body?". That chocolate biscuit may taste delicious with a cup of tea, but do I really need it? Will it help towards a happier and healthier wellbeing? No. I think it's as simple as getting over those kinds of temptations. I really want this to be my healthiest year yet, and while I may fall off the wagon here or there (expected, we're not perfect), I definitely want to stay mindful of what i'm eating and how much i've been moving and stretching.

I have to say though, how great is an early bedtime? I've been moving my bed time up a little earlier each night and it's really beneficial. I know when that first yawn rolls around, that it doesn't mean stay up a little later, it means get to bed asap! lol...

So, I think that's what i'm going to go do now! Have a great night everyone and hope the first new week of the year has treated you well... would love to hear how your resolutions are are going!