Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkins ...and Sun Protection

I spent some time with my sister and her boyfriend last weekend at a cute little farm in North Scottsdale.  They had a petting zoo with a pumpkin patch, not fields of pumpkins like we're used to, but it was still fun and festive for sure. Cute sister pics. I need to have a Fall day with my other sis now, we're thinking of painting on pumpkins and decorating. What have you been up to to welcome the new season? 

I can't sign off without mentioning something these photos symbolize for me. A couple years ago we went to the pumpkin patch with my mom and she was wearing this same hat.
I want to carry on something from her into mine and my sisters lives today. It also might apply to you too. I've been getting much better at my sun protection! I have been wearing sun protection gear; the hat pictured here is from Coolibar, really great wear that contains spf to help block you from harmful UV rays. I'm also wearing my daily sunscreen, 50 spf on my face by Kiss My Face, and a generic sports sunscreen on the rest of me. I have mentioned it before, but it's really important to be sun conscious especially for those of us who have skin cancer in our family history. You still get your vitamin D if you wear sunscreen, and all you really need is ten minutes a day of sun exposed skin, which could be a spot on the back of your neck that you missed for example, or your toes, or in between your fingers.. ever think of what is still exposed even after you apply sunscreen? Or if you apply sunscreen, it takes 10-15 minutes anyways before it will actually be protecting you. If you are a daily sunscreen wearer like me, it might behoove you to check out your sunscreen's ingredients, and research what is best for you. I am at high risk for skin cancer, so I also visit my dermatologist every six months to follow up on moles, freckles, etc. If you haven't gotten your spots documented please do! 

A big thing I learned from my dermatologist is in regards to pregnancy and hormones, so this applies to most of my friends right now so read this!!! Your moles react like crazy to your hormones during and after pregnancy. Get your moles checked before you even plan on getting pregnant, once during, and after you have the baby. This is huge for me to mention because as most of you know, my mom had skin cancer and ended up passing away in her early fifties from it, but there was a history intrinsically linked to hormones. Her moles reacted to pregnancy hormones in her early thirties. She had a mole removed that was cancerous, and later on because of menopausal hormones, and other factors such as stress; cancer came back in a huge and dark way. During times of hormonal changes please, please, please, CHECK YOUR MOLES. Don't be lazy about it. Go get your skin checked out, and find out if you might be more susceptible to skin cancer according to the Fitzpatrick Scale. Also be sun smart. If you don't like sunscreen: wear darker colored clothes; use a dark umbrella, even better one with spf; use baby car shades; wear lots of hats; and an odd last thing to throw at you, eat organic dark leafy greens, and one raw carrot a day (not baby carrots or cooked) especially if you are needing to be outside more. 

So I love you all, and hope today's rant is an encouragement to be better at your skin care protection. I don't mean to scare anyone, I just know that prevention is much easier to tackle than cancer is to tackle. My mom loved life and didn't want to give up the things she loved, which was mostly outdoor activities. She was an avid hiker, walker, and beach lover. Anytime she was off work she always made time for the outdoors. I had many years with her and observed these things in regards to sun protection: she would apply a minimum spf (15-30) sunscreen if she planned on being outside for an hour or more; she would only wear hats if we were outside for more than a couple hours; she always sought the shade, no matter what. In the reverse, I know things she did before mid-thirties, she tanned like crazy, which beautiful lady in the 80s didn't? When she was a little older, I think she wore a daily spf in her foundation like 15 spf, but not over her whole body, and not really a high enough spf when she did wear it. Internally, I know she also struggled with some dark things. 

Trying to absorb this I know she would want me and my sisters to live a long healthy life (so trying to the best of our abilities, within common grace of course!). So let me break it down (if you have any tips, please comment below!!) It's sunscreen everyday for me if I face the sun at all. It's wearing hats anytime I'm on a walk or hike. It's wearing sun protective clothes. Even if I'm in the shade, I have to double check that I'm wearing adequate sunscreen. Besides the stuff we can do on the outside, keep an eye on your stress levels! Stress linked with hormones is a deadly combination. My mom's oncologist pegged this as the main cause of her reoccurring cancer. Even though she did the following things I'm about to mention, I saw into her heart, and knew she carried heavy burdens. I don't know what to say about it in retrospect because we are all human and I'm not saying she didn't do the following, but I guess it gives it more importance to us today now, that it is serious to let your worries go. So seek peace, seek God and his grace, exercise, talk with friends about problems, don't bottle it up inside, do creative things, dance, do art, sing along with music. Remember to smile. It's a weird thing to practice, but it really does help to lift the spirit. Who knows what and if anything could've changed for my mom's external/internal circumstances to make it different, but trying to proceed with grace is all I want to do, in the here and now. 

Again I love you all and wish you the best in facing this weird and yet beautiful life. We're in it together, and that's what helps me to be grateful everyday, with joy in my heart. So thank you!:)

Cheers to a great October!

Important links for research purposes: 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Skincare with Love. Natural and SOKO Inspired!

Skincare with Love, or also known as "What's in my bag?" or ...bathroom cabinet really. I had so much fun with posting about my Green Tea and Rice Water Toner that I wanted to post about my full skincare lineup. So I set up a cute little photo session of all of the products I use, and I really surprised myself! I couldn't believe I use all of this on my skin! I guess I really have adapted to the Soko beauty regimen after all. Layering upon layering. Increase the glow, decrease the wrinkles (although inevitable of course I know!); but we can age with grace right? So let me first say, if you have any questions at all I would love to talk skincare, it's just so fun, so please leave a comment below and I'll get back to you! Now, on to the lineup! I'm going to list this in order of how I use it on my face / skin daily and weekly.

#1 Honey. Pictured above it's the little glass jar with a white lid on the bottom right. I use this as a moisturizing cleanser once a day. You can also leave on your skin for a few minutes as a nice mask. I use natural, local, dark, honey. I alternate between this and the combo of oil cleanser/ foam cleanser.

#2 Rice Water Oil Cleanser, by Face Shop via Soko Glam. Pictured above it's on the right side of the photo with a black pump and pinkish bottle. If on the alternate side of the day from honey, I use the oil cleanser on dry skin. Rub it in, add a little water until it slightly foams, rinse off. 

#3 Aloe Foaming Cleanser, by Skinfood via Soko Glam. Pictured above it's on the right side of the photo, it's the green bottle. I use this following the oil cleanser, or by itself after a workout. 

#4 Black Sugar Mask, by Skinfood via Soko Glam. Pictured above it's hard to see. In the basket, only the white rim of the lid is showing. It's great for exfoliating and doubles as a mask to increase cell turn-over. I exfoliate everyday but each day, do it differently. This Black Sugar Mask is my most intense scrub. I use it only twice a week. The other days I use a less abrasive scrub that is mostly product with a little soft grain to it. My last way of exfoliating is plain yogurt. The yogurt is great for sensitive skin types and really leaves your skin fresh. It works by using lactic acid, so it's doing the work for you rather than a physical scrub. 

#5 Green Tea and Rice Water Toner. Pictured above it's in the middle with a white lid and milky transparent bottle. I use this after getting out of the shower or after cleansing my face. Spritz on for pH leveling before adding moisturizers.

#6 Jojoba Oil, by Desert Essence. Or use Rose Hip Seed Oil. Great oils for sensitive yet acne prone skin. Apply sparingly, patting into skin. 

#7 Face mask or face mask serum. Pictured above is hard to see in the back of the basket. Either apply a face mask at this point, or a silky serum. I use a professional grade facial mask by Satin Smooth Ultimate, and then save the serum in the packs in a glass lidded jar. Apply to face by patting in if using the serum.

#8 1000 Roses Serum, by Andalou Naturals. Pictured above in the front left, in a cute little pink bottle with dropper. I love this stuff! Drop a little into your hand, pat into your skin.

#9 Almond-Aloe Moisturizer, by Earth Science. Pictured above in the front left in a white bottle with orange. I use as a daily moisturizer or alternate with coconut oil. Dab in to skin.

#10 Coconut oil, not pictured above. I use as a moisturizer when I want to be 100% natural, like by using the honey, jojoba oil, and the coconut oil. I do this at night sometimes when my skin has a little acne and needs to breathe. Avoid eyes. I follow up with tea tree oil on these nights. (To use coconut oil as a makeup remover read my notes under "Cotton Balls" below for tips and tricks.)

#11 Apricot Intensive Night Cream, by Earth Science. I use this before bed only. Just dab on a little amount over face.

#12 Tea Tree Oil, by NOW Essential Oils. I use when I have any acne. At night before bed just dab on minimally to spots. Don't overdo it. Wash hands after using because it stings your eyes.

#13 Alaffia Coconut Body Lotion. Daily body moisturizer.

#14 Not pictured above, Kiss My Face, Face Factor 50 spf Sunscreen. Use daily before heading out into the world. I am at high risk for skin cancer so I'm one of those who has to wear it daily. The Soko Glam guidelines also recommend it daily too, to prevent sun damage and wrinkles. So I'm in good company. I researched sunscreen like crazy to make sure I can still get my vitamin D even if I wear sunscreen, and yes you still do! Also, make sure to buy as natural of a sunscreen as you can so your body doesn't have to constantly be processing icky chemicals. 

#15 Alba Hawaiian Sunscreen 45 spf. Apply daily to skin exposed to sun. Reinforce sun protection by using a hat, umbrella, and/or clothes that contain sun protection. If the sunscreen you've applied seems a little greasy, simply apply a baby powder (or cornstarch) with a makeup brush, around your hair line and back of neck, or wherever you feel you need it. Avoid cheeks and main part of face because it will dry you out way too much!

Other products pictured above:
Cotton balls. Dab cotton ball (not soaked) in coconut oil and use as a make up remover. The coconut oil will linger in your eyes and on your eyelashes so immediately after removing makeup, rinse your eye area with plenty of water. Another trick is to hold water cupped in your hands to your closed eyes and let sit for a 30 seconds to a minute. Completely dry off with a clean, dry towel and if any coconut oil is still close to your eye, use a dry cotton swab around your inner eye lid and outer eyelid. Proceed with skincare regimen by starting at top of list above.

Clean facial towels. Don't reuse facial towels. Use a clean, dry one every time. And remember to only pat not rub.

Dry Brush. I dry brush before bathing once a day. Gently use the dry brush in circular motions. Feet to legs to belly. Then fingers to hands to arms to back and chest. Then finish in a counter clockwise motion over your belly. 

Hair clip. I clip up my hair after shampooing and conditioning in the shower so the products don't rest on my back and neck. This helps decrease acne in those areas. After getting out of the shower, I brush my hair and again clip it up to dry for 30 minutes rather than using a blow dryer. I live in Phoenix though, so my hair dries really quick here!

Body buff. Pictured right under the dry brush in the photo, it's white. I lather this up to exfoliate my entire skin in the shower twice or three times a week, especially after a work out.

So hopefully that helps to have a visual representation of what I've been talking about with layering all of these products. If you want to know more about my overall health philosophies, I wrote up an informational page on Braumeister's Wife. Read it here: Health. Best wishes to you and your beautiful skin!
Love, Rachel

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More POP Pilates Recommended Workouts!

I'm still keeping up with POP Pilates. Really if you haven't given this a try yet, you really should at least try the beginner's workout (the top video). I love the short and effective videos, so if I have more time I can even do two or three at a time. The second video is great because it has a lot of different moves that appeal to the ballerina in me. Hope you like them, and happy staying fit!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ink Drawing


Friday, September 5, 2014

Green Tea and Rice Water Facial Toner plus New Routine

 Today I wanted to share about a new facial toner I've created. First, a little bit of story to help fill in the gaps. I have been ritually following natural skin care for a couple years now and have loved my new face (well essentially just the smooth, bright, and glowing skin!). Recently, we moved to the Phoenix area and if you are familiar with this city, you know how awful the water is here straight from the tap. I don't have the extra funds right now to install a filtering system for my shower head or sink, so my skin has been getting loads of chemicals and lovely things caused by it. Billy and I were breaking out a little bit since the move, so I went to my favorite beauty experts and found some new ways to help combat the problem. As we all know, your skin gets used to things easily so it's good to switch it up every year or so anyways.

My research began with Soko Glam. I love Soko Glam. I had written a post awhile ago on the Rice Water Cleanser which was my first experience with this blog and beauty company. I researched a little bit about the curator's beauty rituals and asked Billy if he wanted to do the challenge with me. It's a bit more intense than what we are used to, but I wanted to see clean pores, and glowing skin! So Billy agreed to join me and it has been a lot of fun!

Here is a basic rundown of our new routine. I have adjusted it for my needs and the products I have on hand. Over time I would like to include using an essence and more face masks! For fuller instructions please visit: Charlotte Cho's Blog

1st Double Cleanse. Oil based cleanser first, followed up by a foaming type cleanser.

2nd Scrub. I use a black sugar scrub. Use it on problem areas only 3 - 4 times a week, depending on your need and sensitivity. On the off days do your facial massage.

3rd Toner. Here is where my new Green Tea and Rice Water Toner comes in. Spritz all over face. Dab in. Wait for 45 seconds before applying next step.

4th Lighter / Milky Serum. Rose hip seed serum. Dab in. Wait for 45 seconds before applying next step.

5th Facial Oil. Jojoba OR Rose Hip Seed oil. Dab in. Wait for 45 seconds before applying next step.

6th Heavier Serum. I use a collagen serum with Rose Water essence. Wait for 45 seconds before applying next step.

7th Light Lotion. Daily lotion. Dab in. Wait for 45 seconds before applying next step.

8th Sunscreen / Night Lotion. Apply either depending on the time of day. Sunscreen in the AM use a SPF 50+ with natural ingredients, avoid harsh chemicals if you can. Night lotion in the PM right before bed. Use a natural ingredient based lotion, or coconut oil.

Other Notes: Check out Face Mask Sheets. Choose from a myriad of choices such as: Cleansing, Moisturizing, Antioxidants, etc. Apply face masks after cleansing, skip the scrub, proceed to next steps. These are amazing and help you to completely relax!

Now for the Green Tea and Rice Water Toner Recipe! I have been concocting my own facial products for the last two years. This one is my favorite by far that I have created. I hope you like it too. The reason I decided to make it was because I wanted to re-introduce green tea into my facial routine, but still keep my regular rice water in play. So I thought why not combine the two? This mix has great potential for changing your skin's dullness into glowing radiance.

The green tea is full of antioxidants to shield your skin from harsh environmental pollutants. The green tea will also help to balance the good and bad bacteria that is on your skin (helping with redness and acne), as well as helping maintain a proper pH level (to help your skin stay moisturized after you apply lotion).

The rice water is a lovely, lovely thing. I used it straight on my skin for a long time and the results were a smoother facial texture, smaller pores, an even complexion (because rice water lightens skin and redness), assists with proper pH level. The protein in the rice water will help to restore your skin making it smoother to the touch as well as visually smoother. Click here for Rice Water Toner Recipe

Green Tea Rice Water Facial Toner
1 cup distilled water
2 tbsp dried loose green tea leaves, organic
1/4 cup dried jasmine rice, preferably organic

Place the green tea leaves and rice in the distilled water. Stir well. Let sit over the span of an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Strain mixture into sterile, lidded container, or spritzer. I set a funnel into the opening of the spritzer, then set the strainer inside of the funnel. I then carefully poured the infused water through. 

Keep the toner in the fridge because there are no preservatives. Rice will begin to ferment within a day and gets quite stinky if not refrigerated! In the fridge, it will last for 3 - 5 weeks.

To use, spritz on face, and gently dab into skin. Let air dry, do not rinse. Proceed to next step in facial care routine.

NOTE: This recipe is NOT for consumption, for external use only.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moving On

I once lived in a musty, turn of the century, little brick apartment down town Prescott. Up to that point I had always dreamed of living somewhere like that. A place that was antiquated in the best possible ways, with quirks that would take getting used to. I used to dream of a brick building with my own business underneath, particularly selling records, coffee, and having shows. I guess it was a very similar dream for many of my friends at the time. This apartment came to me when I was least seeking it out. I was only concerned about finding any affordable place, anything where we could have our own home, yet be able to pay for everything too without feeling too crunched for money. When I was younger thinking about the place, money was never a concern; it's funny how things change so.

The day we moved in, it was raining incredibly more than it had been all week, go figure. Our stuff got drenched, the boxes smelt like wet cats, we were soaked to the bone, the truck we borrowed from my dad got a little banged up... I've noticed in life though, and I had thought of it before this particularly rough day thankfully, that when the start up is rocky, the outcome shines. So even though our move-in day appeared to be lousy and our hearts were heavy (we had dealt with the rain like champs, but the truck damage did us in) I was excited for what was to come in the next year. I knew the studio would be perfect for us. It presented new challenges such as limiting our stuff, really cutting down on extra things we didn't need, living together as if we only had a bedroom to share and no places of respite, entertaining guests who would have the new experience of sleeping on their hosts floor right next to them in bed (awkward? more just hilarious). It was a good time of re-thinking what was important to us. I came out of it loving change, whereas before I dreaded change.

Leaving our apartment a year later, I felt like our time there was really fulfilling. I didn't want to continue living there, I was eager to see what else was in our future. My heart was in our studio, and all of the times spent there were perfect times; but I knew that growth started to happen where we weren't fitting in that small space anymore. I was growing out of it in my heart. It wasn't an accumulation of things, it was an accumulation of heart. I wanted to see a new city, and eventually start seeing places around the world, and I knew I couldn't do that if I had remained where I was.

Now I'm here in a new house and it's suiting me just fine. Circumstances surrounding the physical are still not really too concrete for me and I want them to be, but I'm happy I challenged myself to embrace change. I want to find a rhythm here and feel like its home, but when that moment comes, it will inevitably be time to move on to something else completely new again.

Oh the cycles of life, where we desire, grow, learn, and move on once again ...