Category: Alternative Health + Lifestyle

Three beauty/lifestyle subscription boxes I recently tried // Art of Organics, Boxwalla, & Craftly

march 7, 2017 | by: mercedes | filed under: skincare, alternative health + lifestyle

You know Beauty Heroes is my #oneandonly. I love Beauty Heroes not just for the thoughtful curation but the energy behind the brand/service has just always felt a cut above the rest to me. That said, I’m also aware that the beauty subscription market is VAST and has exploded in recent years (remember when Birchbox was super novel? yeah I miss those days too).

Recently I had three different subscription boxes happen into my life at the same time. I intended to do a video but lack of time and other videos I’d rather make instead have relegated this box trifecta flash review to a blog post. One of these I purchased myself, the other two were sent to me as PR.

1 – Art of Organics February Box featuring de Mamiel and Henné Organics

Art of Organics is, in my opinion, probably the closest thing I’ve seen that approximates Beauty Heroes. It’s $39 per month, you get at least one full size eco-beauty product (sometimes more than one, from what I can tell), there’s no minimum subscription plan, you have until the last day of the month to cancel your membership for the next month, and you get 15% off your purchase in their online shop. I’ve known about this box since they started, and honestly they didn’t seem to come out super strong out the gate. Their business model was confusing (I remember there being different “options” to subscribe to, like a “detox box” or a “glow box” or things like that), and the customer service was adequate but not exceptional. It seems like they’ve since remedied some of those issues, and appears to be a good option for those interested in getting to try more luxe eco beauty products at a lower price.

I decided to give the February box a go since I love face mists and it was de Mamiel. It’s a brand I’ve been curious about, and first time subscribers get 10% off, so the box was $34. Overall I’m really happy with the two products in the box, the de Mamiel Dewy Facial Mist and the Henné Organics Rose Diamonds lip scrub. I enjoy the face mist most as a setting spray/during the day refresh, rather than toning step, for whatever reason, though I am using it as part of my skincare routine also. The scent is very earthy and full of complex rose, and it lingers nicely (the scent). I still *slightly* prefer the Amly mist, but this one is beautiful too and I’m happy I went for it. The lip scrub leaves the lips beautifully exfoliated and moisturized, and I look forward to using it. This is a lot for me because I roll my eyes at lip scrubs usually. So, rave!

I was debating whether or not to see what another month of Art of Organics would bring – and decided to give it at least one more month. I might do two more months and then do a 3-month Art of Organics cumulative review or something? On video.

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2 – Boxwalla Secret Garden Beauty Box (this particular box isn’t available, I’m not sure if it was one of the subscription beauty boxes or a one-time beauty box…kind of confused actually)

My YouTube friend Trish (ScentHive Trish) makes regular Boxwalla box reviews on YouTube, and she passed my name along to their team. They graciously offered to send me one of their eco-beauty boxes to try out. From one of the co-founders Lavanya (who is super lovely! lots of positive vibes from her):

“We launched our store last October : https://www.theboxwalla.com and our main goal is to showcase the best artists and artisans across multiple categories (Green BeautyInternational FilmBook and Artisanal Food) using a bimonthly subscription model.

One of our categories is green beauty and we are passionate about featuring the most effective and nourishing beauty products we have experienced along with the stories of the ingredient conscious artisans/formulators behind the products. We are ingredient-junkies and encourage our subscribers to learn more about the ingredients in the products we feature – why they work for their skin (and why they might not). The products we showcase are housed in a keepsake box crafted from tree-free handmade paper – a reminder that beautiful things can also be sustainable.”
The box I received featured two products from a brand I hadn’t heard of, H is for Love – their BARA Balm, and lip glacé; also included was the One Love Organics Love Springs Eternal Youth Preservation Serum. So far the stand out product for me has been the lip balm. It’s tinted but brings just a beautiful natural flush to the lips, I use it ALL the time. The texture is beautiful and it’s really nicely moisturizing. I’m a sucker for lip product in a pot (unlike most!). The face balm is nice but I’m just moving a bit away from balms as part of my regular skincare (I’m using more traditional moisturizers), so I’ve been using this as a hand balm and it’s nice. Not groundbreaking, but nice. It’s reminiscent of the original Mahalo balm. I’ve tried the OLO serum in the past and I remember really liking it. It has a strong neroli scent (in a good way) – so I haven’t decided if I’ll gift this to a friend, do a giveaway, or incorporate it into my own routine. Blogger conundrums : p
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3 – Craftly
Lastly, “Craftly is a bimonthly subscription box that features professionally well-crafted goods (home, grooming, accessories, and more) with a modern, minimalist style. We aim to feature small-to-medium batch brands. The company is founded by Cathy Diep and Adam Montoya.”
This box reached out to me and wanted to see if I wanted to receive a box to test. I said sure, after a quick peruse of their site yielded a modern unisex aesthetic I thought could be interesting. The price of the subscription box “starts at $29.95.”
Items included –
The Rich + Clean New Standard Face Wash, $6
Morihata Binchotan Charcoal Face Scrub Towel, $10.50
Plus Ultra Toothbrush, $6.99
David’s Premium Natural Toothpaste, $7.95
August Uncommon Tea, $4
I’ll be completely honest – this box was kind of a dud. I mean I love David’s toothpaste but it’s been in like EVERYONE’S subscription boxes so it’s just not terribly exciting. I can’t use regular toothbrushes or my gums bleed. I’ll probably try the tea, and I’ll probably tuck the face wash away for travel use but am guessing it’ll probably be too drying on me.
I guess receiving this box made me realize that in general, I don’t advocate boxes that are a lower price point (even though $29.95 isn’t even that low! just doesn’t seem like the value is there with this one), and include “a lot of little things.” This has been a Kimberly Clark (YouTuber) criticism in some of her anti-hauls – that subscription boxes are largely NOT a good use of your money. I think some of the newer models like Beauty Heroes and Art of Organics, where you pay a bit more but are getting a more luxury item at a discounted price CAN be worthy investments, at least for a period of time. So – I appreciate the offer from Craftly but alas don’t think I’d recommend the box based on my own personal preferences and the items I received. Or maybe I’m just really spoiled with Beauty Heroes?
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Some Recent L’amour Loves

march 16, 2016 | by: mercedes | filed under: alternative health + lifestyle, skincare, spirituality

I couldn’t wait for March Favorites, and wanted to share some of my recent obsessions – things I’ve just been quite taken with, and felt really inspired by.

1 | Suki Ultra-Protect Eye Balm – Night

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I was in need of a new nighttime eye cream, and after sampling the Tata Harper I just decided I didn’t feel like plunking down $90 right now for it. A good girlfriend of mine raves about this and I had sampled it prior, so decided to go for the much lower ~$37 price tag off Vitacost. Suki is an ultra-clean skincare range, and local to Massachusetts. Adoring this.

2 | doTerra Emotional Aromatherapy System

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So I don’t have this full set (YET), but a friend of mine recently sent me a handcrafted homemade body oil using the Motivate and Passion blends from this set and OHMYGOD LIFE = CHANGED. It’s truly the most amazing scent/body product I have ever used. Hands down. No contest. EVEN better than my beloved discontinued (sniff sniff) BijaBody serum. So if those two are any indication, the rest of them are bound to be equally magical – for topical application or diffusing. Plus as someone who is constantly reflecting on her emotional life and the challenges hypersensitive emotional states present – this has my name all over it.

3 | We Are Vibrational Beings Documentary (YouTube)

I’m not finished watching this, but I embarked on it when the medical intuitive I work with spoke about how his measurement of a person’s millivolts is derived from the explanation that begins in this video around the 11 minute mark. As someone who watched What The Bleep Do We Know many years and was like YES – this is along the same vein. Everything is energy. Time to get on board.

4 | WELL / AWARE Podcastwell_aware_podcast_album_art1400x1400

So a) I’m not typically a tremendous podcast listener (I barely have enough time for YouTube and if I’m walking/commuting/whatever I’ll listening to beats) but b) this will in fact be a March Favorites because a lovely viewer sent me a message through YouTube telling me she thought I’d be into this. I AM but since YouTube can be incredibly buggy and irritating, I haven’t been able to reply to her message and thank her! Anyway. Digression. I listened to two episodes of this on my way home from vacation (the interviews with Thyme Herbal and Saipua) and was like yaaassss this is my TRIBE. I want to get the host, Lindsay, to interview Beauty Heroes founder Jeannie Jarnot. I think it would be a perfect fit.

5 | Leah Totten’s “Work” Choreography

We’ll end with a fun one. In line with my many other eclectic interests, j’adore hip-hop choreography, or really any form of dance. The only two I regularly still follow via YouTube are Luam, and Leah Totten. Based out of Vancouver I believe, I love her style – everything feels very connected and looks effortless. Also let it be said I like the song, and like the cover even better because Rihanna’s voice is damn annoying in the original (you know?).

I hope you feel some inspiration from any/all of these finds <3

xoxo.

My Experience Working With A Medical Intuitive

march 6, 2016 | by: mercedes | filed under: alternative health + lifestyle, spirituality, videos

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I’ve been waiting patiently for about a month to sit down and film this video, to give the experience ample time to process and integrate into my life – even though immediately after my session with this intuitive I wanted to shout from the rooftops how much it resonated, how powerful I thought the experience was, and how significantly different I felt almost instantaneously.

In today’s video I’m sharing lots of detail about the experience. And even though this video is 22 minutes long, I still feel like there were things I wanted to cover and didn’t. I’ll probably do some follow-up videos in the future, to keep you apprised of my progress on all fronts – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Thank you to the Universe for guiding me towards this experience. It has been deeply profound, and I’m so grateful for it.

A Capsule Approach to Eco-Beauty: Holiday Gift Ideas, Lifestyle Edition

december 16, 2015 | by: mercedes | filed under: alternative health + lifestyle

The last of my capsule approach/eco-beauty gift guide posts, I thought I’d cover some lifestyle products for the holistically-minded/spiritually-inclined people who might be in your life. These would all make LOVELY gifts – in fact I happened to pick The Wild Unknown Tarot Guidebook at a recent Yankee Swap I was at and was ELATED! Clearly now I need the actual deck to match :)

1. Divination Deck: I’ve felt drawn to the tarot and other kinds of divination cards for the past two years or so. It’s one of those lifetime learning process occult arts, but I’ve found them to be a visually and energetically inspiring companion to other spiritual practices like meditation and bodywork. I currently own two decks – a traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck, and a deck of Soul Cards, which are different from the tarot in that they don’t have particular meanings attached to them and are meant to tap into non-verbal and subconscious feelings/emotions. I’d also recommend The Wild Unknown tarot deck and the Star Child or Moon Child tarot decks (and I want both of those in an INTENSE way). These are Soul Card examples (taken from my Instagram feed):

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2. Velvet Lotus Crystals: Crystals are another seemingly super new-age spiritual hippie thing, but when you experience having some beautiful crystals adorn your living space you’ll being to notice how they subtly (or maybe not so subtly) contribute to you feeling “good” when you’re in that space. This is because crystals have energetic properties that assist in all kinds of things, but essentially will help raise the vibrations of wherever you place them. I highly recommend The Velvet Lotus shop on Etsy as your first browse and foray into the world of high quality, energetically potent crystals. You can’t really go wrong, but if you’re buying for yourself just try and shut off your mind and go with what you feel most drawn to, i.e. let your intuition guide your selection. Here’s a sampling of mine, from left to right: champagne/smokey aura quartz, vera cruz amethyst, and madeira citrine:

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3.Kei Jewelry: Another way to incorporate crystals into your life is to wear them! And not as unrefined hippie jewelry (though totally nothing wrong with that, just not my thing) – but as chic, refined, and minimal pieces. One of my Youtube subscribers told me to check out Kei last year and it was such a fantastic recommendation – I regularly visit the site and SWOON over everything. This past year I purchased one of the druzy bar necklaces, and the raw turquoise cuff has been on my wishlist for ages. You wouldn’t go wrong with any of Kei’s designs, in my opinion.

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4. doTerra Petal Diffuser: As you can tell, I’m very, VERY into my living space – or really any space I’m in. But I have most control over what my living space feels like, so I do everything I can to keep energy moving and vibrations high. I burn candles every evening (these also raise vibrations, and I stick to either 100% pure beeswax candles, or candles scented with essential oils), and on the weekends I usually diffuse essential oils. I purchased a doTerra petal diffuser this past year and have been extremely happy with it. My friend Adine also passed along samples of many of doTerra’s essential oils blends which I’ve been experimenting with. While doTerra products are on the pricier side, you can definitely find less expensive diffusers on Amazon, though I do think you get what you pay for. I’m still very new to the world of essential oils but their power and potential fascinates me.

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5. Alexis Smart Flower Remedies: Finally, I’ll end with an internal approach to working towards balance – flower remedies! The power of plants is awe-inducing, and I’ve been a long-time dabbler in homeopathic remedies like Bach’s essences which are readily available at Whole Foods. Think of Alexis Smart Flower Remedies as boutique Bach’s Rescue Remedy/flower remedies. If you visit her site be prepared to want like EVERYTHING. Something about the blends she makes is just special, at least to me. Over the past few years I’ve tried Soul Purpose and In Love, and there are so many others I’d like to try. I think these would make BEAUTIFUL gifts, if you know the person you’re shopping for well and what they might be struggling with. Again, to select a remedy you’re just supposed to shut off your mind and let your intuition guide you. You could also gift anyone pretty much anything from the Lotus Wei range and I’m sure they wouldn’t be disappointed. I haven’t tried their flower remedies, but I have tried all their serums and mists at one point or another – Infinite Love is my favorite, with Joy Juice a close second.

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What did I do before Vitacost?

december 2, 2015 | by: mercedes | filed under: alternative health + lifestyle, nourish, fitness

If you aren’t already initiated, Vitacost is an AMAZING warehouse-y kind of site that has insane inventory across tons of different categories (beauty products, household products, food, et cetera) and carries tons of great brands at very low prices. I’ve been shopping regularly on the site for at least a couple of years now, and I make 1-2 orders a month (free shipping after $49 and your order comes within like two days). They often run amazing deals on top of their already low prices, and there are often coupons floating for 10-20% off, yadda yadda yadda. Basically it’s like the online equivalent of couponing for me. Oh, AND you can add Ebates onto your order too, which is another 4% – 8% cash back! [shameless plug, if you’d like to sign up for Ebates or Vitacost through my “affiliate links”, you can here and here ! :) ]

So I just got a smallish order in the mail last week, and no other online shopping orders in sight so not enough to do a Mercedes Shops on YouTube – so I thought I’d just give you a quick peek on here:IMG_1140

I stocked up on the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerators because they were on sale ($17.99 a box, they’re usually $27.99!). I mix one of these packets into a blender bottle of water after I lift and it feels replenishing and hydrating. I’ve been forgoing the Vega Pre-Workout supplement in lieu of just having a single espresso shot prior to working out – cheaper, and just as effective.

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I just finished up burning the Aloha Bay Money (red/root chakra) energy candle and needed another around so I went back to the Aloha Bay Love (orange/sacral chakra) energy candle. It’s burning right now as I type this, and j’adore.

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I avoid regular gum because of the artificial flavors and fake sweeteners but I do like having Spry around for when I need a refresh. It’s sweetened with Xylitol, and while it’s probably not perfect, I think it’s a hell of a lot better than Trident.

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Then I needed some Ceylon cinnamon (apparently if you frequently consume cinnamon, ceylon is better than what many of us would consider “regular” cinnamon which is another variety and can apparently be somewhat toxic? I read this somewhere years ago and it stuck. Ceylon also reminds me more of Mexican cinnamon so it makes me feel nostalgic and I enjoy) and maple syrup. The organic versions on Vitacost were significantly cheaper than at my Whole Foods, so when that’s the case I’ll buy things like this on Vitacost. I have the Vitacost app on my phone, so yes I often compare prices while at the grocery store…like a suburban stay-at-home mom.

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And then I just stocked up on my favorite Macrobar flavor (Sesame + Date) and the two flavors of the Nothin’ But snack bars I hadn’t yet tried (Peanut Butter Banana Chunk and Lemon Ginger).

Already getting my cart ready for my next order!

My Top 5 Healthy Lifestyle Product Recommendations

Happy Sunday bellas! I just uploaded a video where I talk about the 5 products I would currently recommend to someone interested in a greener/cleaner/less toxic/more natural lifestyle. Hope you check it out!

In lieu of an empties video –

I present, an empties post! I’m still trying to get my shiz together to make and edit youtube videos, but it’s complicated and time consuming when you’re first learning! I had been accumulating these empties since….December, probably. And I wanted to share my reviews. Plus there is something so satisfying about using up a product. Product junkies, I know you get it.

L’amour et la musique’s EMPTIES #1:

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LaVanilla Vanilla Passion Fruit Deodorant

I’ve been using LaVanilla for years, it’s my natural deodorant of choice. I think they’ve discontinued a bunch of the scents though, which makes me sad. I just bought two more, and hopefully Sephora will continue to stock?

John Masters Organics Deep Scalp Follicle Treatment and Volumizer 2 fl oz.

I picked this up after reading My Lucite Dream’s review. I’m already on my second bottle, though I think it’s starting to lose its effectiveness? With this first bottle I noticed my scalp not only feeling healthier, but all of my hair felt softer and more manageable. I might stick my current bottle under the sink and come back to it in a few months.

Acure Organics Marula Oil

After I turned my man onto argan oil as a facial moisturizer, we started going through these Acure bottles awwwwful quick. I decided to try the marula instead, since I’d been reading about it. I think I still personally prefer argan, but my other half felt you needed less of the marula to get the same amount of cover/moisture. He also thinks the argan smells like a barn, so there you go.

 Weleda Skin Food

So everyone raaaaves so much about this product, and frankly I was not that into it! Too greasy, honestly. The only time I would use it was before bed. The scent was nice – herbaly – but I’m not sure I’d repurchase this anytime soon.

Lash Food Eyelash Conditioner (from Goodebox)

LOVED this, and it definitely made a difference! I used it consistently for a little under two months, until the tube ran out, and my lashes were definitely longer and more filled out. When I would build up my mascara, I got a bunch of lash compliments. I haven’t purchased a full size, but might consider it. Yet even though this is natural and not Latisse territory, stuff like this kind of freaks me out…I don’t know why? I guess because it’s so close to your eyeball?

 Honeybee Gardens Vanilla Pie Lip Balm

I didn’t finish this, I just wanted to throw it out. I bought is years ago, and was blah on it. I’m not much of a chapstick in a tube girl – currently I’m using Waxlene almost exclusively to moisturize my lips and love it.

Lotus Wei Infinite Love and Inner Peace Mists (from Goodebox)

I was so happy to see these in a past Goodebox! I haven’t purchase Lotus Wei in awhile, but in the past have gone through full size bottles of the Infinite Love mist, and went through the pack of all the mists they sell in the smaller size like this. Love love love, and think they are powerful and beautiful.

Love Springs Eternal Serum Sample (from EcoDivaBeauty)

Um, obsessed? The full size of this is on my current wishlist. It smells like neroli, and is the MOST moisturizing serum I’ve ever tried – it’s almost like a light facial oil. This little sample lasted me a good while, and I used it morning and night. My skin felt plump and hydrated. Waaaaant.

Kahina Eye Serum Sample (from Spirit Beauty Lounge)

This sample also lasted forrrreeeeevvvverrrrr I guess because you need such a small amount. Honestly I didn’t love it, I’m smitten with my Arcona eye dew for the mornings, and want something thicker for evening. I have gone through a full pot of Kahina’s eye CREAM, and I did quite like that.

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Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby Mild Pure Castile Soap 8 fl oz.

A standard staple in my home, I rotate between all the Bronner’s scents but always have some of the unscented one around, for washing makeup brushes and the like. Forever repurchase. Xavier (not his real name, but I hate saying boyfriend/the boy/my man…ick and I don’t think he’s keen on me using his real name – Xavier Boss is his alter ego/DJ name when we spin together, so I’ll go with that) likes to recite the bottle propaganda in the shower in a very theatrical way, and tell me I’m a communist.

Aura Cacia Avocado Oil 4 fl oz.

I rotate between a bunch of different oils – avocado, jojoba, almond, macadamia mostly – for beauty multitaskers. Taking off eye makeup/oil cleansing, oiling my hair, body moisturizing before lotion (yes, I’m that dry in the winter), and so on. Avocado oil is on the thicker side compared to the others, but if it’s on sale at my mecca aka WHOLE FOODS, I’ll buy it.

BijaBody Daily Body Serum 10 fl oz.

I think I learned about BijaBody from Beauty by Britanie a few years ago….I was woo’ed by their use of honey and its beneficial properties for skin (I have very dry skin, on and off eczema outbreaks, et al). What can I say. I freaking love this stuff. The scent is amazing (floralish, but also sweet) and lingers, and I’m already on my second bottle. I’ve also tried the lotion, and body scrub.

Maya Facial Mist in Organic Acai 70ml

Spirit over at the Beauty Lounge really hyped these up for a time. I bought this one, and also have the full size of the “pure” one in my bathroom now. They are nice, but frankly a bit too expensive for what they are – to me. I used these as a throughout the day pick-me-up, or as a skin re-set post cleansing.

Pai Fragonia & Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream 1.7 fl oz.

Swooooon! I bought this back in September and had never paid so much for a hand cream, but I used it nearly every workday, and it lasted me almost 6 months! I’d definitely repurchase this. My co-workers would always say “that smells so nice!” when I’d be putting it on. To me it smells like…a baby. In that really comforting can’t describe way. That sounds weird, but a very lovely hand cream, sinks in immediately and is oh-so-moisturizing.

Andalou Naturals Lavender Thyme Body Lotion (from Goodebox)

Sorry Goodebox, dislike. Andalou Naturals is just not my brand, for some reason the scents do not jive with me. Lavender is too synonymous with “every hippe green body care product” and I don’t know – just not for me : /

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Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
I sang the coconut oil praises on here months ago. Love the stuff, keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.

BijaBody Daily Beauty Tea

Gaaaah, I LOVED this tea. It was magic, and I plan to repurchase. I can’t explain it without sounding a little….out there, but every time I drank it I had this very grounded sense of well-being and happiness. No joke. And boy, do I need that shit at work.

Big Dipper Wax Works Rejuvenation Sweet Orange + Clove Bud 35 Hour Candle

Oh, let me SING THE PRAISES of 100% beeswax candles. OBSESSED. I love that they also purify the air while creating lovely home ambiance, and I love bees! I really, really love beeswax candles and I’ve been a tremendous purveyor of Big Dipper Wax Works stuff from Whole Foods, and they go on sale pretty regularly. To be honest I didn’t LOVE this one – the scent wasn’t amazing.

Malin + Goetz Cannabis 15 Hour Candle

A lot of beauty bloggers/youtubers were talking about Malin + Goetz so I decided to try this, and Dark Rum. Compared to the natural candles I’m used to, these were a bit overpowering. The scents were quite masculine, which I enjoy. I’m glad I tried them, but wouldn’t buy the full size just because I’m not keen on unclean candles. Haha!

Malin + Goetz Dark Rum 15 Hour Candle

See above. This one was sweeter smelling than Cannabis. I was more hyped about Dark Rum, but ended up liking Cannabis better.

Big Dipper Wax Works 100% Beeswax 25 Hour Candle

A holiday gift from my sister, I think she was the one who actually turned me on to the brand years ago! Anyway, she knows what I like.

Big Dipper Wax Works Tea Lights

I always have a pack of these at home, always. I burn them in oil diffusers, or a little buddha tea light holder I have. #zenlife

Essence of Vali Uplift Mood Mist

I decided to try EoV after a No More Dirty Looks Friday sale. Those girls love them some EoV. I’m very into aromatherapy, and EoV looked like a quality, affordable line. I picked up the Uplift and Refresh (which I’m almost done with) Mood Mists, kind of as a cheaper fill in for the Lotus Wei’s I’d been burning through. I enjoyed them! I like the Refresh one more (it’s pepperminty), but this was also a welcome respite during the workday. It’s a citrus scent. I’d definitely explore EoV more, especially the perfume they make – which surprises me because I hate every single natural perfume I’ve tried. But I got a sample with my order, and it vaguely reminded me of Aveda smells, which I always used to love.

THAT’S IT. Whew, marathon. But it feels good to finally throw those things out which have been accumulating for….awhile. Until next time <3