Category Archives: aromatherapy

Review: Soft Focus Mask by Wildcare

It’s no surprise by now that I love a good facial product. When Wildcare announced they were introducing a new face mask made from pineapple extract, coconut milk, and pearl powder, I just had to try it! With each purchase of this new release, they were offering a sample of their Wild Melon facial oil, a little potion created from watermelon seed, black currant seed, ylang ylang, and other intoxicating scents – a perfect follow up to lock in the benefits of the face mask. One of the things I love about the face mask is that it contains only FOUR natural ingredients!

The Soft Focus face mask has a fragrance to it that takes you back to bright summer days, lounging by the pool, freshly-squeezed juice in hand. It’s a nice little pick-me-up for a grey, rainy day but also a splendid way to refresh on a hot, sunny afternoon.

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Pearl powder has been used in China for thousands of years as both a dietary and beauty treatment. One of its benefits is that it can prevent the development of melanin, which is what causes freckles and dark patches due to sun exposure and aging. This is particularly helpful to me, as my Eastern European heritage has left me developing some hyper-pigmentation on my face as I age, and while I don’t hate it – it’s a symbol of who I am -, it’s nice to have a product that will help prevent it from getting out of control. I’m also a Leo-a fire sign, and a July baby, so summertime is one of my favorite seasons. This means spending as much time outdoors as possible, especially at the beach, and while I take precautions to protect my skin, one can never do enough. The pearl powder in this mask will help reverse any sun damage from those afternoons at the JCC and Hilton Head! It’s also extremely beneficial in preventative practices now, as I’m constantly out in the sun, tending to my gardens.

Combine this with pineapple extract, organic coconut milk powder (an added plus: it’s dairy-free!), and white kaolin clay, and you’ve got a face mask that will leave your skin feeling porcelain smooth.

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herbal tea, vintage peignoir, a weighty book, & a face mask = perfect evening!

As for the Wild Melon oil: I’ve added that to my morning routine, in between washing my face and smoothing on lotion. There’s always a bit of apprehension when applying an oil – will it leave my face looking greasy? But this one is quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving your face lustrous and soft.

I love that Wildcare is based on the therapeutic qualities of indigenous plants in the PNW, and a dedication to herbalism. That’s just another of the many things I love the most about the Pacific Northwest – everyone out there is so encouraging of their community, and creating & sustaining a beautiful environment. Being able to support brands like this is the best feeling – and now their Golden Hour body oil and Lemon Light hydrosol are next on my list of goodies to try!

 

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Self Care

A lover of natural, herbal, & holistic remedies, I stumbled upon PDX apothecary, Duck Feather Herbs, a couple of months ago, and have had my eye on their Lavender lip balm, Sleeping Beauty tea, and an array of herbal tinctures ever since. Just after the new year, they hosted a giveaway with fellow herbalists, Tumbleweed Apothecary & Monarch Apothecary, offering a dreamy assortment of health and beauty goods. With a package full of soaking salts, perfume, incense, facial products and more, how could I resist entering?! I was fortunate enough to be chosen as their winner and I couldn’t be more enamored with all of their products. Even their packaging was perfect in its rustic simplicity!

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The Love Manifest perfume from Monarch Apothecary is altogether divine – a consummate marriage of various rose petal essences, rose geranium, bergamot, and ginger lily essential oils, & topped with their own farm harvested roses, it’s a delightfully feminine and romantic bouquet. After a hot bath with their Turmeric & Calendula Soaking Salts, enhanced by the air of Lavender & Sage incense cones, roll on some love-filled perfume and be prepared for an amorous evening!

Keeping my face dewy and lips soft is super easy thanks to Tumbleweed Apothecary’s oil-based facial serum, Stunner. With thirteen different oils, including rose hips, argan, frankincense, & jojoba (“you’ll love it – it has jojoba.” s/o to my theatre “sister,” Lauren!), I apply it after cleansing my face and before adding their ‘Spellbound’ Face Cream. Topping my lips with some Lavender & Mint ‘Peck’ lip balm, my skin is supple & kissable.

I stay busy between my full-time job at a local tv station, part time job at an art gallery, helping run a volunteer-based community art gallery, traveling, & my own artistic endeavors – painting, writing, baking, acting, & photography – so I’m always looking for new ways to relax and unwind. Sleep has never come easier with a cup of Good Belly Tea combined with some Have a Good Rest Tincture, care of Duck Feather Herbs. Adding a couple of drops of this chamomile, catnip, lavender, & bergamot mint tincture to an already quieting cup of mint & lemon balm herbal tea is a foolproof way to end a satiated day.

I’ve added some Elderberry Syrup to my wish list from Duck Feather Herbs, as well as some tinted lip balm called ‘Smooch’ and the ‘Siren’ facial steam from Tumbleweed Apothecary, and a tin of Cacao, Rose, & Rooibos (decaf!) Chai & Herkimer diamond gemstone essence from Monarch Apothecary. My ever-growing Etsy cart is taunting my bank account!

While I’ve linked to each apothecary’s individual shops, they’ve all got Instagram accounts that are equally as tantalizing as their products. Take a peek for yourself at @DuckFeatherHerbs@tumbleweed_apothecary, & @monarchapothecary!

 

 

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I hope everyone’s holidays were wonderful! It was a VERY busy month in the lands of television and the arts – numerous gallery openings, luncheons, parties, & parades – I was definitely ready for a much needed break!

I ended up taking the afternoon off of work the Monday following Christmas in order to go to Jeju, the Korean bathhouse, and to get my hair done by my friend & stylist extraordinaire, Rami, of Ludlow Blunt in NYC.

Jeju was, for lack of a better word, amazing. While savoring a bowl of deliciously spicy ramen, I texted my boyfriend that we were just going to have to have a long-distance relationship; I was never leaving the spa.

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spicy ramen & kimchi!

Upon entering the bathhouse, one goes into the segregated locker rooms and undresses, either staying nude to go to the wet area or putting on the traditional Korean spa clothes in order to sit in the communal saunas. Attached to the locker rooms are the steam & cedar saunas, the massage, body shampoo, and hip bath areas, and the cold, medium, and hot tubs. I considered being brave and stepped into the cold bath first – quickly regretted that and went off to find much warmer temperatures. Few things are as liberating as being completely naked with a bunch of other strangers. Having posed nude for painting classes, I was already accustomed to it, but this was much more enjoyable (sorry, Tom!). Within the wet area, the steam jade sauna was by far my favorite part. A little hard to breathe at first, but once the steam started relaxing my ever-stiff and aching joints (hello, neuropathic pain & Gaucher disease), I was able to really inhale the aromatics and sweat it out. After realizing I was probably going to faint if I didn’t eat something, I threw on the regulations shirt and shorts and headed off for the common area.

As mentioned above, the ramen was straight up epic, and the side of kimchi didn’t hurt, either! And not only that, it was dirt cheap -$6! One of the best parts about the common area and restaurant was that the floor is heated. I am always, always freezing, so this was literally a warm welcome. After satiating my appetite, it was off to check out each sauna. The jade, charcoal, and baked clay saunas were slightly smaller and not quite as hot, though they each came with their own benefits – helping to increase metabolism & circulation, relieve arthritis pain, eliminate toxins and build up resistance to disease, and flush out impurities & release dead skin cells.

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charcoal sauna

I then moved on to the larger, more intense kiln saunas: Rock & Salt, Gold & Silver, & Jewels. The Rock and Salt room, full of pure crystal rock salt, is  utilized to relieve stress and tension, the Gold and Silver room is supposed to help with nerve stability, and the Jewel room emits calmness and healing powers. I definitely felt some release in the Rock & Salt room, and the Jewel room helped me cleanse both my mind and body.  They were all so relaxing that it was hard to decide in which one to spend the most time!

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Rock & Salt room

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sweating out the toxins in the Gold & Silver room

Unfortunately, I hadn’t brought a bathing suit in order to take advantage of the heated, saltwater Jade swimming pool, but that didn’t stop me from dipping in a toe. I’ll be hitting it up next time, for sure! I also peeked into the Ice room -had to try it all, you know? That was definitely NOT for me. After a brief appearance there, I ducked back into the Jewel room to warm up again!

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how beautiful is that pool?!

Being on a deadline to meet Rami, I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have liked there, though those few hours were definitely magical. Next visit, I plan to stay overnight (it’s $25 for 24 hours -WHAT!), nap in the sleeping rooms, add on some extras, and really just let go. One of my best friends is flying into Atlanta next week and will be visiting Jeju while there – I am Jade green with envy!

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stone starburst

 

Detoxing and purifying at Jeju helped wash out the last bits of 2015 (I even washed out my hair color by having Rami dye it blonde!) and prepare me mentally, emotionally, and physically for 2016. So far, it’s been looking pretty damn good (even with Mercury Retrograde!) Happy New Year, friends! xo!

Lavender Nights

In the past few years, I’ve grown fonder of cooler temperatures. While I still love to bask in the hot, sultry summers, I’ve been finding a sort of symmetry in embracing crisp winters.

I love feeling the brisk air on my face, the bundling up in coats and scarves, and most of all, the coziness that the winter brings. Because my sweet Matt hails from Canada and his immediate family lives in Detroit, I’ve learned the special art of couch and blanket sitting. It involves a lot of staying in, the perfect ratio of blankets to person, and usually a hot beverage, preferably with a little something “extra” added to warm you even more.

These days, the weather has been perfect for cozying up on the sofa and re-watching episodes of Twin Peaks, like we have been doing. It’s also been inspiring me to bake more, as the sweet scents wafting from the kitchen just add to those magical holiday feelings. This week, I decided to try my hand at shortbread, a cookie that I had actually never made before.

I slightly adapted a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romano, THE ladies when it comes to vegan baking, and hot damn! They’re so good! I chose to make lavender shortbread, as I have a bunch of organic lavender that’s been begging to be used. Lavender can be a tricky flower to bake with, simply because so many people are adversed to the taste. (Or think they are!) What is so great about this recipe is that you can really taste all the layers of flavoring, as well as the textures. The floral, slightly anise-y flavor of the lavender hits your palate first, but then fades away to the familiar sugary vanilla that we all know and love. Combined with a crunchy, then chewy texture that eventually melts in your mouth, you wind up with a childhood favorite that has evolved to an elegant adult. Pair it with a glass of rich chocolate almond milk (hey, I didn’t say you had to ACT like an adult!), and you’re good to go.

And with that, bring on the cold weather, a comfy couch,  and a plate of warm cookies! I’m ready for ya!

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Wolf’s Apothecary

If you’re a regular reader of blogs, then you’re in no doubt familiar with Jen McCabe’s swoon-worthy site, Honey Kennedy. If you’re not, hop on over and let her take you on a tour of Portland’s best right now!

We’re planning on a PDX visit in the near future, and my list of places to see & shops to patronize keeps getting longer and longer, thanks to her blog. Luckily, I haven’t had to wait too long to try some of the fine products out of that dreamy city, thanks to the incredible “Giveaway” section on the Honey Kennedy blog! She hosts giveaways nearly daily with all sorts of makers and shakers, and the gifts are pretty epic- even if you don’t win the big prize, the person or store she’s collaborating with offers a discount, so everyone can enjoy. My most recent win nabbed me a $50 gift card for myself to Portland apothecary, Wolf’s Apothecary, as well as two more $50 gift cards to share with family & friends. Naturally, I chose my sweet mom and darling Matt! The homemade, all-natural products at Wolf’s Apothecary are just plain wonderful, and it was so hard trying to narrow down what to try first! I ended up ordering Rapunzel’s Hair Oil, the Dandelion Milk bath powder, and a tube of Lip Salve-Ation. Rapunzel’s Hair Oil is an intoxicating elixir that one uses to tame & bring luster to ones locks, and its scent alone is luxurious. I can’t help but massage a few drops into my long mane at night since the aromatics are so relaxing!

There are few things I love more than taking a long, piping hot bath, and they’re made even better with sweet smelling, skin softening products. The combination of dandelion root, lemongrass, and lemon verbena was so on point that the wafting steam lured my kitten to sit at the edge of the bath and dip in his tail- it’s even fluffier than before!

A self-professed lip balm addict & junkie, I will try any and all chapsticks. The Lip Salve-Ation has in it infused oils from apricot kernal, sweet almond, and coconut, amongst others. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t have to reapply this lip balm every fifteen minutes-a fairly normal activity for my dry lips, thanks to nearly twenty years of lip balm obsession. Another aspect I liked about this balm was that it’s pretty unisex. A lot of lip balms come across fairly feminine, both in packaging and scent, but this is one that I would feel confident giving to both my boyfriend or best female friend. Stocking stuffers, anyone?

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I’m also a sucker for good packaging, and look at how simply perfect this is! The hoarder in me will reuse these bags for storing my tea-making herbs, and the bottles give my powder room all the fancy feels!

One of the best aspects of sharing these products is promoting small businesses. Having worked for and currently employed by a small business, as well as being an artist, I know first hand the labor and love that goes into creating something you hope will be enjoyed by others. Black Friday is coming up, but it’s important to remember the people who stay up all day and night to bring you a little something special you just can’t buy at big box stores, on Small Business Saturday.

Happy Shopping!