Make-Up Musts

You guys, let’s get real here: The stuff make-up is made of these days is straight up scary. Crazy synthetic chemicals, bug parts, animal byproducts, plastics, carcinogens, petroleum- no thank you. I’d rather face the world the way I was born than slather myself in those harmful things! Thankfully, there are many companies doing a great job making eco-friendly, healthy, sustainable cosmetics for us to enjoy. Today, I want to share my own collection with you. Hopefully you’ll get some good ideas of what is out there!

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Facial wash– I recently started doing oil and water cleansing, which has done wonders for my skin. Admittedly, I don’t really struggle with acne, and because I have used natural products for a long time, I don’t deal with too much skin irritation either. Usually I just wash my face with warm water, and massage in coconut oil while I’m in the shower, which gently pulls out impurities, moisturizer, and kills bacteria. Is type of cleansing can be adapted based on your skin type, too- different oil blends, different frequencies, etc. Here is a great article on oil cleansing.

FoundationPhysicians Formula Organics Tinted Moisturizer. I love this stuff because it’s very light, completely natural, and contains a healthy amount of SPF which is ESSENTIAL for your face. It comes in several shades and blends easily because of it’s lightweight, lotion like formula.

EyeshadowsNature Girlz. These are actually hand-me-downs from my mother, who didn’t care for the cream base. I, on the other hand, prefer to use my fingers to do my eye makeup, so I love these little pots! Made with natural dyes and a nourishing cream base, I love how these blend together. Best of all, they are really inexpensive!

MascaraLush Eyes Right. I absolutely love this stuff. Made with the least amount of preservatives on the market, it’s pretty pigment comes from a wheatgrass base that is actually nourishing for your lashes! Though the bottle is not the traditional shape, it contains much more mascara than the normal tube you’ve been buying. A bit on the pricey side, but worth it for the quality of product. It will last forever!

Lips– I have several favorites here. For Chapstick, I am loving my new Aubrey Organics Peppermint and Tea Tree stick, which is especially healing for the winter time. For lipstick, I frequently use Lush’s A Million Kisses, a gorgeous ruby red that has the same scent my toothpaste and is made with all natural pigments. Favorite gloss has to go to Mentha Organics, though I confess that there is probably a more natural, responsible option out there (Mentha is sold at Bath and Body Works, which doesn’t have the greatest rap for being socially responsible).

I have to admit that I am still searching for a good liquid eyeliner alternative, though I have high hopes for Lush’s emotional brilliance line when I get the money! For now, I am using Elf, which is cheap cheap cheap and probably a terribly irresponsible purchase, but hey, I have to be honest with you. I also am using Elf bronzer, until I can get home to make my own!

Over the winter, I am excited to be off the road and start crafting my own homemade cosmetics. What kinds of things would you like to be able to make yourself? May I can take the guesswork out of it for you!

Until then,
Karli

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Chia Seeds

You guys. My life has been revolutionized. Chia seeds, people!

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Yes, like in a chia pet. Who knew that those little beauties packed so much incredible nutrition? Not me, that’s for sure. Not only are they amazing for you, but they are incredibly versatile. Eat them raw, sprinkle them on salads or cereal, make them into a drink, use them in baking, throw them in a smoothie.

The best thing about using chia in your diet is that it will take on any flavor you give it. I sometimes just drink them in water, and it doesn’t taste like anything! Similar to flaxseed, they form a fun gelatinous substance when mixed with water, which can be used to make puddings or even as an egg substitute.

The health benefits of chia seeds are bountiful:

Increased energy levels
Increased endurance levels
Helps with weight loss
Normalized blood sugar levels
Cleanses the colon
Gets rid of toxins
Prolongs hydration
Reduce inflammation
Helps tone muscles
Helps to lower the blood pressure
Improves mental performance
Improves night rest and mood
Lowers the risk of heart diseases
Improves overall health
Lowers cholesterol
Absorbs extra acid, helping to get rid of acid reflux
Helps thyroid conditions
Helps IBS
High in omega-3s
High in fiber and protein
Helps celiac disease

Here’s my favorite way to enjoy them. Experiment! Your body will thank you.

Easy fruity chia tea

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3tablespoons fruit juice (any)
One bag green tea
Water to fill your mug

In a small glass, mix chia seeds and fruit juice. Let stand for about 15 minutes, until seeds form a gel suspension. Be sure to stir every so often at the beginning to prevent clumping. Stirring is important!

Meanwhile, heat up water and make yourself a cup of green tea. Leave a bit of room in the cup when you fill it! Once the chia juice mixture has set, stir it into your tea until evenly distributed. Drink immediately, and keep stirring to prevent chia from settling!

The combinations are endless. Different teas, different juices. Try it out!

Solid Toothpaste?

One of the last things that I converted to “natural” branding was toothpaste. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m using all of these natural shampoos, lotions, soaps, but then I’m using conventional toothpaste? Is there even an option?”. For a while, there really weren’t any great options that were readily available to the public. Now, however, a trip to the nearest grocery store will often present you with a plethora of “natural” toothpaste options. Tom’s, Trader Joe’s, even Burt’s Bees are all producing their own lines of natural toothpaste in all the usual flavors. Add in the fluoride or no fluoride debate and picking a toothpaste can get a little overwhelming! Today, however, I want to introduce you to one product that is revolutionizing the toothpaste industry: the Toothy Tab.

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Lush products, having worked for the company and used their products for quite some time now. I have to admit, though- I was skeptical about these guys. Toothy Tabs are the world’s first solid toothpaste- comprised of baking soda, essential oils, and flavors, the tabs foam up as you chew them, giving you a great lather to brush your teeth with. I actually find that I can bite a tab in half and it’s plenty for me- and they last twice as long.

The abrasive nature of the baking soda makes this a safe and natural way to whiten teeth but remain gentle enough for sensitive smiles. The absence of water allows these tabs to be made preservative free, so you can be sure that you aren’t ingesting anything funky when you’re trying to get clean. Even better, Toothy Tabs come in a tiny, compostable box that allows for virtually no waste!

The best part of Toothy Tabs is the impressive and creative litany of flavors:

Sparkle- vanilla, lemon, and grapefruit
Chou Chou I Love You- rose and lemon
Dirty-spearmint and neroli
Atomic- coffee, cinnamon, and clove
Breath of God- sandalwood, vanilla, fennel
Ultrablast- mint and wasabi
Aquatic- earl grey, lime, and jasmine

While some of these may be too adventurous for your taste-literally!-Dirty is a great mint flavor that will please anyone (I can personally attest to this). While wasabi flavored toothpaste scares me to death, I am currently using rose and lemon flavored Chou Chou and it is incredible! I love the taste. I have also read testimonies of pregnant women who would get sick from minty toothpaste but tried these alternative flavors and were able to curb the morning sickness. Of course, any Lush store will be happy to give you a sample so you don’t buy one you hate. I want to try Sparkle next!

Sending fresh breath and pretty smiles your way,
Karli

Blog Feature: WithBritt

Today I want to introduce you to my new friend, Brittney. Britt is married to Bill of Bread of Stone (easily my new favorite band that Willet is touring with for the next few months) and she just radiates the light of Jesus and an evident love of life. She also is one of the best hair braiders I have ever met! I was very excited when she told me that she wrote a food and hair-do blog, and even more pumped when I started reading it!

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WithBritt features tons of yummy healthy recipes, many of which centered around Britt’s passion for raw food- and not just boring raw food, but amazing, decadent, gourmet raw food- like cakes, gelatos, smoothies, and even entire raw entrees. Yes, I did say raw CAKES! Her recipes are so inspiring, I cannot wait to get home and try them. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I have!

Here is a fun and easy recipe from her site– enjoy!

BRITT’S RAW CHOCOLATE GELATO

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RAW Chocolate GELATO?! What?! Just let the thought sink in for just a moment!

Okay! So, it’s true! You can enjoy creamy, luscious, sweetness of the Italian goodness and still be electrifying your pores, immune system, and skin! I have been playing around with this recipe for many months now and I think I have finally nailed down the perfect combination that would tickle even an Italian’s tongue!

Ingredients
-3 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen
-6 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
-1/4 cup cacao powder
-1/4 cup hazelnuts (if desired)

Instructions
-Place the frozen bananas and agave nectar in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. This may take a while, so be patient! I usually use my spatula to help break up the bananas apart after a few minutes of processing! When the bananas have turned creamy, add the cacao and continue mixing! If you are nutty, like myself, go ahead and add in the hazelnuts (or your favorite nut) and mix until the nuts are as small or big as you like!

-Enjoy immediately! The gelato is at it’s best creaminess when it is freshly blended but you can also pour into a container and it will last for weeks for you to enjoy! But if your family is like mine, this RAW Chocolate Gelato does not last very long!! Which is the best form of a compliment!!!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Have any blogs you follow religiously? Leave them in the comments! Have a great day!

Heroes: Big Box Retail Stores

This is actually a pretty difficult Hero for me to pinpoint. For as many bad things there are about Walmart, it is an unfortunate reality that many big box chain stores commit many of the same fallacies, just on a smaller or less public scale. Knowing this, I keep thinking back to a previous post I wrote, in which I asserted that sometimes it is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate an unjust one. With that in mind, I will officially crown the Hero of retail stores: the local thrift store.

It may not be as glamorous or exciting as a trip to Target (that is what you were hoping for, correct?) but your local thrift store can provide you with many of the things you might go to a place like Walmart to get- clothes, shoes, electronics, decor, furniture, toys, and accessories. The beauty of thrifting is that the prices will likely be much better than Walmart, and not a dime of your purchase is going to an evil box store or a manufacturer making bad ethical decisions or employing children or destroying the environment. In fact, in most cases, proceeds from thrift stores benefit certain nonprofit or go towards beneficial programs within the business, such as Goodwill’s job training programs or, locally, the Westminster Rescue Mission rehabilitation program.

Admittedly, it takes more time and even a certain amount of practice to find the things that you need at a thrift store, but thankfully trends recycle and it’s easy to find something special these days! I completely believe that it’s worth the bit of extra effort to avoid supporting companies and industries that tear down the Kingdom that we are to be building with our money.

Do you have a favorite local alternative store you like to patronize? What other categories do we need a Hero and a Zero for?

Zeroes: Big Box Retail Stores

For my second installment of “Heroes and Zeroes”, I wanted to tackle a bigger issue- a subject that really effects how we purchase- and that is “big box” retail stores. There’s a good chance you went to one today, or at least this week. You might do all of your regular shopping at one, maybe even for groceries! Well, my friends, that is a lot of kingdom money being spent, and we’ve got to make sure that we are spending it wisely. This post might turn your shopping life upside down- I hope it does. The Zero of the retail store industry undoubtedly goes to: Walmart.

Despite all of the readily available information on Walmart’s downfalls, it shocks me how many people (especially believers) still patronize them for convenience’s sake or simply out of habit. The following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons to never set foot in a Walmart again:

-Forced overtime or forced open availability has led to worker strikes in several parts of the country. There has also been documentation of child labor laws being broken.
Lunch and rest breaks are frequently revoked.

-Full time wages that fall below the poverty line are normal for a career Walmart employee. Average yearly salary for a full time employee has been, at times, almost $1000 under the poverty line. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is quoted as saying “I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We’re going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment.”

-Gender discrimination, both in the hiring process and within the workplace, had been proven in several lawsuits, including Duke vs. Walmart Inc.

-Several cases of illegal or undocumented workers have come up within Walmart, who has denied knowledge but then been proven as lying by tapped phone conversations.

-Strict anti-union rules make it exceedingly difficult for Walmart employees to stand up for themselves or band together against injustices within their workplace.

-Very poor or nonexistent healthcare coverage is standard for Walmart employees. Only about 54% of employees are insured, while comparable box stores insure as many as 98% of their employees. It is argued that Walmart employees don’t get paid enough to even be able to afford their health insurance.

– Salary caps are often enforced on veteran employees, and salaries are even cut at times based on sales within the store, often cutting what small benefits are offered in the process.

-The presence of a Walmart can kill local businesses, some of which were previously in operation for years. The ability to get everything in one place for a very cheap price is very convenient, but comes at the cost of smaller businesses seeing dramatic loss in customer frequency and often having to close shop for lack of profit. This inevitably results in job loss in the community, no matter how many (low paying) jobs Walmart created within its walls.

-Walmart’s continuous quest for low prices forces manufacturers to comply with their wishes, often creating poor working situations within those companies as well. there are reports of major companies, such as Kraft Foods, having to close down factories in order to cut costs to keep their priced as low as Walmart demanded, resulting in major job loss for Kraft employees.

-Sourcing ethics. Much of what is sold in Walmart is manufactured
overseas in subpar working conditions, often at the expense of child labor and good quality. Reports of sweat shop and prison labor are widely publicized, and the store has even sold jewelry lines contaminated with dangerous chemicals in the past. In addition, such overseas shipping creates pollution that could easily be avoided if local sourced were in use.

If you would like to see a succinct documentary on the toll Walmart takes on local communities, pull up your Netflix and find The High Cost of Low Price. It’s worth the watch, especially if you regularly (or ever) patronize Walmart.

As a believer, I feel that I cannot spend a dollar of money meant to built the Kingdom in a place that is committing such atrocities as those listed above. It certainly is less convenient to have to make a few stops rather than one, but I have no regrets whatsoever!

Stop by tomorrow for our Hero alternative for retail stores!

Thoughts on Global vs. Local Trade

I have an inner dilemma that I have been battling for a while now: the question of whether to support global economies or focus on local economies. Brands like American Apparel have brought “made in the USA” to the forefront of our shopping brains, particularly in a season when sweatshops and child labor run rampant in most parts of the world. But shouldn’t we try to provide for our brothers and sisters overseas if we can, too?

This debate reached a head for me when I discovered that a shirt that my organization sells is manufactured in Haiti. My initial reaction was negative- we have been active in Haiti and have seen the conditions of work there, and the thought of promoting those environments sickened me. When I raised my concern, however, I was gently reminded that the company that we work with was committed to high ethical standards and that, because the shirts were made in Haiti, we were providing jobs and income to those people that we love, and helping their economy in perhaps the only way we could from a distance. My mind was eased.

My thoughts are further compounded when it comes to food- while I love eating with the seasons, purchasing local foods, and building relationships with farmers and craftsmen, I also really appreciate many foods that don’t grow locally and items that are manufactured in other parts of the company, or even the world. Things like coffee, chocolate, spices, and tea are cultivated well in certain parts of the world that I just don’t live in. As a responsible consumer, do I forgo these things, therefore saving carbon emissions due to shipping and dedicate myself to eating what my local community has to offer, or do I support these global markets, while perhaps putting the global economy on the back burner?

I don’t know what the answer is, but here are a few things that I am confident in:

-If you can buy something local, do it. Especially when it comes to food. Local farmers and culinary artisans depend on their local economy because, for the most part, they can’t export. Plus, you are getting a better quality food that you can be confident in- less preservatives, easier to check on gardening and farming operations, and good relationships with the people you are buying from.

-Fair trade is a beautiful thing. If you can’t get something locally, fair trade is a great way to ensure that your purchase from the global economy is something that you can be confident is building up global individuals and not causing any injustice along the way. There are many fair trade stores popping up now, such as the 10,000 Villages network, that make fair trade shopping feel like a breeze.

-Sweat shops are terrible. If you can’t guarantee that an item you are buying was made without blood on someone’s hands, you just shouldn’t buy it- at least not with a clear conscience. At times, this requires research not only into a store, but also a specific brand- but it is well worth it to know that you are using your money responsibly, and not to cause injustice.

-If there isn’t a good alternative, try making your own. This is especially helpful when it come to things that are really hard to research, such as cleaning products or cosmetics. There are so many ingredients in these items that its hard to say with confidence if a product is manufactured and sourced responsibly. However, there are countless way to replicate these items at home, where you can source the items yourself and be confident n the products you are using.

-Support your friends. Why buy a grocery store card made in who-knows-where when you have a friend that makes them for a living? Why buy a headband at Target when your friend is upcycling pieces and selling them on Etsy? Maybe you have friends that are photographers, or event planners, coffee roasters, stuffed animal makers, or jewelry designers. Show them love, and be loved in return.

-It is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate a unjust one for lack of a better option. Thrift stores provide a way to purchase (many times with proceeds to a good cause) without giving any money back to the manufacturers. This can be a great place to find things that are difficult to source well, such as shoes, dressy clothes, or furniture.

While I wish that the answers were more cut and dry, I recognize that these thoughts are just part of the journey in being a Christlike consumer, and I certainly have not arrived at full understanding yet. We have to educate ourselves in order to use our money well- each dollar is a tool we are given to build the Kingdom, and we must take that seriously.

Film Review: The Business of Being Born

I think that, if I take an honest look into what sparked my interest in natural health, I can point to Matt and I’s decision to use The Fertility Awareness Method as a means of “birth control” when we first got married. I was fascinated with how I could be in tune with my body and how capable we can become with the right knowledge. This led into an interest in natural childbirth, which led me to….The Business of Being Born.

Now a cult favorite among crunchy moms everywhere, this documentary by Ricki Lake and friends was revolutionary in educating women on the healthcare industry’s claims on pregnant women and the options available to them should they choose to look. Many women (as Ricki did with her first pregnancy) go through their pregnancy assuming that induction, c-section, episiotomies, epidurals, and not eating during birth are completely necessary and unavoidable- but this documentary will show even the most skeptical woman that it simply isn’t true.

Ricki advocates for home-birth, birth centers, midwives, doulas, birthing pools, and a strict absence of medication and intervention. During the documentary, you will witness all of these things, so be prepared, it can be graphic at times. She uncovers many truths about the standard birthing industry, uses strong statistics to back her claims, and even documents her own home-birth experience for viewers. In addition, she shares the story of a colleague who attempted home-birth but had to be moved to a hospitalized in the end- a refreshingly honest look at the birth process.

This past year, Ricki and friends released a four-part follow-up series that delves deeper into the natural childbirth realm, entitled More Business of Being Born. Each episode takes an aspect of natural childbirth and breaks it down into more detail- should the first documentary leave you with questions, keep watching! These women are excited about their research and it comes through in the quality of their work.

While I don’t think that home-birth is for everyone (I am not sure that it’s even for me when that time comes), I do think that it’s good to consider every option when closing what is best for you and your child, and to be fully informed. These documentaries are great for helping women (and even men- Matt watched it, too!) ask questions that they might not think to ask, and rethink things that we have taken for granted about the process of growing a family. The best part- all of these documentaries can be viewed instantly on Netflix! Enjoy!

Easy Health Tips: Best Eco, Health, and Social Responsibility Apps!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! We are headed to a show in West Virginia tonight, and then home for a few days. I intend to spend a great deal of time in my kitchen with friends in the next few nights, so get excited for some creative and healthy recipe reviews! Now, onto today’s fun…

The iPhone is a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine going without it anymore- it helps me keep up with my friends and family, track my diet and exercise, document my life in photographs, and find new recipes and fashions. That being said, the iPhone can be a powerful tool for the social, health, and Eco-conscious individual. I wanted to highlight some of the best apps in each category- hopefully you find something that appeals to you!

SOCIAL
Better World Shopper is one of my favorite tools- I reference them all the time while shopping. The app, especially is a great reference while shopping and allows you to quickly compare different brands on a scale of Eco-onsciousness, social responsibility, and other criteria. Browse their website for a full explanation of their ratings.

Free2Work is similar to BWS, but concentrates in social responsibility, articulately with child slavery and trafficking offenses. Created by the Not For Sale Campaign, it is self-described as the “modern day abolitionist movement”. A nice feature of this app is the barcode scanner- it will pull up that product directly and give you a full report.

GoodGuide allows you to search by products or brand, but also by different criteria- social, nutritional, environmental. Your can make your own favorites out of the 50,000+ products featured, and even make “products to avoid” lists!

ECO
IRecycle– shows you what items can be recycle, when, and where. includes recycling center maps based on your location, relevant articles, and infographics. More than 300 types of materials a reviewed. Easy to use and very visual.

Locavore– for the adventurer and local foodie at heart! Foraging tips and recipes for using local edible plants, CSAs, farmers markets, vegan and vegetarian filters, and seasons according to your location. Includes maps of local sellers, with directions! A gem of an app.

Green Book– This app doesn’t feature specific products or brands, but instead focuses on principles and how to make good green decisions, offering a plethora of eco-living tips and tricks.

Get There By Bike is an interactive bike map and directions application that helps you safely get from point A to point B by bicycle. Includes tools to mark traffic, dangerous intersections, bike parking, bike theft, record and share your own routes, and a timer.

HEALTH
Map My Run– I use this every time I run! This app uses GPS functions to tell you exactly how far you have run, shouts our your time on mile splits, and gives you an overall pace at the end of your run. You can even save runs and try for your personal best time, or search for others runs in the same area! Very useful. Especially when I think I have run five miles and actually only ran two. 😉

My Fitness Pal– I use this app almost every day, along with most people on our tour. While I personally think that calorie counting can be very dangerous (particularly for this who have struggled with eating disorders) it can be a powerful tool, particularly if you have trouble gauging portion sizing or how much to eat at one time. It allows you to input exercising, weight loss or maintenance goals, and create favorite meals. One of my most- used apps.

Hatha Yoga– while I have not personally used this app, it has received glowing reviews online as being both easy to follow and authentic to the practice of yoga. Allows for use f both preset and customized classes. Great for the yogi on the go!

BodyRock.tv -okay, these workouts are insanely good. If you want to kick your butt into shape, download this app and get started. Workouts are between 10-20 minutes, full body, cardio, killer. They have built up quite a following! They also have a full website.

Do y’all have any apps that you swear by? Anything you feel like is missing from the app world? Let’s make it happen!