Hammocks, Enneagrams and A Contemplative Practice: Lessons From Big Sur

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Another year, another journey to Esalen in Big Sur. If you know me well, then you’ve probably heard me wax poetic about the power of this place. If you’re looking for something, you will likely find it here.

Many people raise an eyebrow or question my need to take this annual solo trip. But it’s just that: a need. Maybe it’s the introvert in me but mostly, it’s the only way that I know how to reconnect with myself. For a few days out of the year, I embark on a solo journey. And for those few days, I take a step outside of my titles (mom, wife, employee, daughter, friend etc) and spend some time getting to know myself. I am not saying that these roles are burdens, they’re quite the opposite and provide me with great love and joy. But in order to be all of these things, I need time to slow down, connect with my purpose and go deeper. My experience has led me to find that solo travel spits me out on the other end with a greater sense of clarity, strength and gratitude.

The trip this year was particularly profound. As usual, I never really know what I’m getting myself into. I think I have intentions set for the journey, and, in usual form, I’m always amazed at the real lessons learned. I signed up for a weeklong workshop titled “The Inner Spiritual Dimensions of Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese Medicine” taught by David Crow. What does that mean? Good question. Most of us weren’t quite sure but embarked on the journey anyway. Through the basics of Eastern Medicine, we explored the underlying spiritual foundations that not only teach us how to cultivate a holistic mind-body relationship but also a purposeful relationship with our environment. Each lecture was fully explored through a contemplative, mindfulness meditation practice to truly connect the lesson to the inner experience. Mostly, the workshop was an incredible compliment to what Esalen provides, and that’s a beautiful, welcoming space to learn, grow and connect. I took just as much away from the workshop as I did from the people I met, the conversations I got wrapped up in and the awe-inspiring connection to nature. Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m reflecting on what I took away from the experience and the lessons learned:

  1. Disconnect and Go Outside

Look up from your phone, forget the menial psychodramas of the day and go play outside. Nature is our greatest intuitive teacher. The easiest way to connect to a sense of prana (life force) is to simply experience the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. Here, it’s easy to feel the interconnectedness of everything and our relationship to the 5 elements.

  1. Be Open To People

You never now who might have an affect on your life. There are influential lessons to be learned from other’s experiences and stories. Real conversation and deep connections help us feel a greater sense of love, empathy and compassion. This is important to cultivate to feel a greater sense of inner belonging but also a better sense of community. Every person is equal.

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  1. Spend Time In A Garden

Our food systems are struggling. Yes, there’s the evil that is Monsanto, but there’s also global warming which is having an apocalyptic affect on our environment and agriculture. Gardens remind us of the life giving energy of food and the gaseous exchange that we share with plants. We feed the plants and they feed us. Grow your food and then eat that delicious organic food and you’ll see how much better you feel.

  1. Laying In Hammocks, Napping Outside and Soaking In Hot Springs are God-Giving Experiences

Can you think of a better way to recharge? I can’t.

  1. A Contemplative Mindfulness Meditation Practice Can and Will Change Your Life

Exploring your inner experience through a meditation practice increases memory, sense of self, empathy, decreases stress and changes the brain chemically. A contemplative practice also increases the mind-body connection. Most people are disembodied. This is not just about being active and working out. It’s about developing an awareness of what your body and mind truly need to operative effectively through diet, physical activity and sleep to function in peak performance.

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  1. Read Books, Keep Learning and Stop Consuming Crap Media

It’s not too late to make changes. I was deep in conversation about our education system and how insane it is to think that a decision I made when I was 18 should determine the rest of my life. I’m referring to my college major. Now that I’m 32, I struggle with feelings of greater purpose vs. responsibility. I dove in a bit to what I’d like to do and was met with a very simple answer: “Well then, you should do that”. Of course, I rolled my eyes, pushed back and said how it’s not that easy. Now looking back, I can see it’s all my own internal resistance. There are many ways to learn and to indulge interests. Always think about what you feed your mind, who you engage with and how distracting most media can be. Focus, learn and changes are possible.

  1. The Wisdom of The Enneagram

This is a personality test (and quick too). Take it. Learn something about yourself and the people in your life.

  1. Gratitude

I came home to a family that I love with a greater sense of connection and purpose. A full heart, a feeling of wonder and a smirk of possibility….this is what it’s all about.

Now the big question remains: How to integrate these lessons back into  daily life? Through dedicated practice, commitment and actually listening to my intuition. Another question also popped up: How do we teach our children to find purpose at a young age so they grow up connected to their sense of self and committed to a life of meaning? This is something I plan to explore much further. It’s my greatest wish that my son grows up with a healthy sense of compassion, connection to the environment and wants to live a life of social purpose. No one at the end of their life ever regrets not having made more money or acquiring more things. The quality of your relationships, your experience, traveling, connecting to nature, compassion, these are what’s important.

xo, Sam

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Burgertime at Super Burger.

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I’ve been going through a sort of burger dry spell of late, but thank goodness for the other burger lovers out there! A friend of mine came to the rescue a few weeks ago with a beyond delicious recommendation, and I think I am back on the burger track :) Super Burger in Altadena is one of my favorite kinds of burger establishments. The burger’s got lots of cheese, a huge side of crinkle cut fries and is served  from an altogether unassuming shack. Normally shack burgers have pretty thin patties, so I always opt for the double, but I  shamefully didn’t finish it this time around. Those patties were thick! Next time I promise to come hungrier. And I highly suggest you go, now. xo Cait

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Cannonball Baby Shower!

cannonball1If there is one thing that our group of friends loves to do, and does ever so well, is throw a party. And I don’t mean your typical chips and red drink cup kinda party. This crew goes ALL out. And I love us for it.  I think that the past 5 years of wedding seasons and babies being born somehow turned us into legitimate party planners. I also think we no longer even know how to throw a ‘regular’ party. I kid you not, for this year’s 4th of July party, my family’s contribution was an actual fruit sculpture. Sometimes I feel like, hey, maybe I don’t have to go 500% on this. And then I laugh, and think, well yea, you don’t have to, but don’t you kinda waaaant to? So anyway, I bring you this past weekend’s baby shower, for the Canavan’s and their incoming Cannonball!

There was a dual-level theme going on here… cannonballs, but with a sort of old school rock n roll feel. Because obviously that’s a thing, right? And you can’t just have one theme. That would be too easy.19490234838_4799b45785_zThe real thing that tied it together was a set of customized “printables” purchased on Etsy from Squawk Box Studio.  They are responsible for all of the print design you see here. (We did the printing, cutting, putting together part.) As always, I can’t say enough good things about Etsy . If you don’t know already, I’d be surprised, but it is the absolute first place to go when you need anything personalized. It’s a great platform that connects real working artists  and craftsman with the everyday person looking to make their Pinterest dreams come true, and it’s my favorite place to shop.19671151502_484c1353e4_z19490269090_a8ef230e90_zWe counted cannonballs, we played the ‘Dont Say Baby’ game, we wrote well wishes on newborn diapers and of course we had flash tats. Party Goddess Mia is to thank for getting together most of the decorations and finding the amazing animal print slap bracelets (!!!) but more importantly, for the genius introduction of temporary tattoos to our party throwing guidebook. That was a a serious crowd pleaser. I was actually sad to see mine wash off 2 days later.19055666824_5c588aa933_z19652043186_7bf67ec1c2_z19682750491_1a1385fcd4_z19678257275_e1650a10f3_zPersonalized decorate-able onesies anyone? Yea, we got that. Family Industries you da best.19055665944_e6d6f7bff8_zAnd yes, we DID label the snacks and salads. The tags were too cute not to use. So hey, maybe you thought that was a pasta salad, but now you totally know it is a pasta salad, and you are dazzled with cuteness.19682743321_b687806e73_z…AND THEN THERE WERE CUPCAKES! I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to cake, and this time was no different. The cannonball theme was too fun not to just run wild with.19057328173_2aee863b84_z19055676214_8ea119d418_z19057325093_c291282547_z19055674944_3b5c0e1565_z

AND GIFTS! (You know you want that wine and cheese t shirt in your size….)19057307043_574389dbf4_z

Everyone went home with a clipping of a Jade plant from the Hopkey family’s backyard. It was the perfect gift to end a special day spent celebrating our growing LA family. xo Cait19490236318_18a352345a_z

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Beauty Recipe: Gentle Face Wash

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We’re big believers in NOT using soap to wash your face. Instead, we opt for an oil based face wash to remove the gook and grime of the day. Like removes like: oil removes oil. And if you’re prone to dry skin like me, you’ll find that soap-based cleansers dry out your skin. Or, if you have oily skin, you’ll be interested to learn that soap strips your face of natural oils, causing your skin to produce more oil.

With all of this said, sometimes we like a little soap action in our lives. I find that when my skin transitions between seasons, it likes a little extra cleansing. Right now, I’m enjoying the Korean-style double cleanse method in the evening. I’ll start with an oil cleanser to remove all of my make-up and I’ll follow with this gentle face wash recipe. The beauty of this recipe (besides being so simple to make) is that it dilutes the soap so it doesn’t dry out the skin like a typical soap-based cleanser. If you love that squeaky clean feeling of a foaming wash and can’t quite wrap your head around an oil-based cleanser, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients
1/2 cup castile soap
1/2 cup rose hydrosol
1 tsp jojoba oil
10 drops geranium essential oil
8oz squeeze bottle or glass bottle with a pump top

Add all ingredients to your container of choice and shake before each use. How simple is that!

Happy crafting,
Sam

 

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Beauty Recipe: Deep Pore Cleansing Mask

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This clay mask recipe is the most important part of my Sunday skincare ritual. The mix of clay, cocoa and vitamin C not only deeply cleanses the pores but also brightens, tones and repairs the skin. Clay has healing properties but also acts like a magnet, drawing impurities from the pores. I like to use a mix of Rhassoul and Kaolin clay but think about your skin type when deciding which clay to work with (great selection of clays here).  Cocoa contains a higher level of antioxidants compared to green tea and aids in cell repair and increases blood circulation to improve the appearance of the skin. Vitamin C (or Camu Camu) fights wrinkles, brightens the skin and decreases damage from the sun when applied topically.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons Rhassoul Clay
1 tablespoon Kaolin Clay
1 tablespoon organic, raw Cocao Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vitamin C or Camu Camu Powder
8 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
6 drops Palmarosa Essential Oil
6 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the essential oils one drop at a time and mix thoroughly to remove clumps. Store in a glass jar of choice and store in the fridge . When you’re ready to treat your skin to some extra loving care, simply mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mask with enough water, honey, apple cider vinegar or hydrosol to make a smooth paste (generally equal parts liquid to dry ingredients). Smooth on a cleansed face and allow the mask to work it’s magic for 15 minutes. Remove with a wet washcloth and follow with a moisturizer.

Happy crafting!

xo
Sam

Beauty Recipes: Infusing Oil

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When it comes to DIY skincare, nothing is easier than infusing oil. The method is easy and the concept allows room for you’re own personal magic. We infuse oils for our scrubs, serums and my favorite…body oils. Working with locally-souced, organic flowers and herbs to create oil infusions treats various ailment and the possibilities for combinations and uses are endless.

There are various methods for infusing oils, but now that summer is here, we prefer the good ol’ fashioned sun-soaked method.

1. To start, select an organic, cold-pressed vegetable oil of choice. We like to use Sunflower oil (deeply nourishing and great for dry skin) or Grapeseed oil (great for sensitive skin and absorbs into the skin easily).

2. Next, gather a blend of dried flowers and herbs. You can also include a vanilla pod (cut into small pieces) for that  deliciously sweet scent. Have fun with this part! There are so many beneficial uses for herbs and flowers so do a little research or trust your intuition. We love to work with rose, lavender, chamomile, calendula, marshmallow root, vanilla and the list goes on…

3. Fill a glass mason jar with the herbs/flowers and pour the oil over until the the jar is filled. Take your time with this step and think about your intention for the oil as it pours over the herbs. This oil will become part of your beauty ritual so give it purpose (that’s what makes handmade products so personal). After the jar is filled, we like to add a few drops of flower essence to amplify the intention we’re working with. You can find some great flower essences through Lotus Wei and Delta Gardens.

4. Label the jar and include the date. Set the jar on your window sill where it can soak in the sun. Let the oil infuse for 2 weeks and each day give the jar a gentle shake.

5. After 2 weeks, strain the oil using a nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer and store your oil in a glass jar of choice.

Happy crafting!

xo
Sam

Beauty Recipe: Lavender & Sea Salt Toner

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This is one of my absolute favorite toner recipes. It’s the magic potion that always seems to keep my complexion clear. Suitable for all skin types, this toner hydrates, soothes, refreshes and nourishes. The addition of sea salt really takes this recipe to the next level because it gently treats acne and clears the skin of blemishes.

Recipe:
3 oz Hydrosol or Distilled Water (I used Rose Hydrosol)
1 oz Witch Hazel
1 tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
1/2 tsp Glycerin
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
4 drops Green Tea Extract
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Combine the hydrosol, witch hazel, aloe, glycerin and sea salt in a glass pyrex or double boiler.

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Place the glass pyrex in a pot of water and warm over the stove. Gently heat the ingredients until the sea salt dissolves.

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Remove from heat and add the green tea extract and essential oils. Pour the recipe into a glass bottle with spray top.

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I like to use two 2 oz brown glass bottles. I’ll keep one for myself and I’ll give one to a friend. This recipe will keep for 6 months without refrigeration. To use, simply spray the toner on a face, neck and chest after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Enjoy!

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Beauty Recipe: Anandamide Face Mask

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Sun Potion. Where to begin? I have so much adoration for this line of transformational foods and I admire the mission, passion and love that oozes out of the hands and hearts behind the line. Sun Potion superfoods and tonic herbs are  plant-based powders, extracts and whole foods. Always certified organic or wildcrafted and processed without the use of chemical solvents or additives of any kind, these potent foods have a transglobal lineage of healing properties.

My morning begins with a glass of homemade nut milk (either cashew or sunflower) and 2 tablespoons of Anandamide. The proprietary blend features raw cacao, turmeric, reishi, rose petals, Himalayan salt, chlorella and many more nourishing ingredients. This blend activates and harmonize the nervous, digestive, & immune systems. Additionally, Anandamide may help treat stress-induced anxiety, promote higher thought process and act as a messenger molecule that plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory and fertility. Not only is this blend incredible for your body and spirit, it can also be used as a face mask. When combined with honey and milk, you have a super mask that exfoliates, promotes cell repair, rejuvenates and increases blood flow.

Recipe:
1 tbsp Anandamide
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Milk

Mix all ingredients together until a paste forms. Spread a thin layer over skin. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Beauty Recipe: Blossoming Face Oil

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I love Spring. Besides the fact that I’m a Taurus and my birthday falls within the season, the weather is perfect and there’s an overwhelming sense of possibility.  As the weather shifts, I like to change my skincare routine. During the winter months, I always find that my skin tends to be parched and I end up using The Peacock Apothecary’s night creme during the day for extra moisture. As the weather warms, I switch to a face oil which is lighter, absorbs into the skin quickly and acts as a great make up primer.

The recipe below was inspired by Spring and combines a nourishing blend of vegetable oils, therapeutic grade essential oils and a pink primrose flower elixir to create an incredibly fragrant, hydrating and healing treatment. Thanks to Lotus Wei, I’ve been on a beautiful journey with flower elixirs for the past 7 months. These incredible potions have been used for generations and you’re most likely familiar with Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Flower alchemy is simply another way of receiving the nourishing properties of plants. When you work with flower essences, you bring your body back in tune with a subtle electrical vibration. Each flower holds a different vibration reflective of it’s essence which is used to treat the root (not the symptom). I chose to include the pink primrose because it blooms in spring and grows prolifically. This flower has a wild spirit and can grow in challenging conditions. It’s a hard flower to contain because it spreads so rapidly. The pink primrose flower essence prepares us for “rapid growth” while magnifying a sense of fearlessness. The essence births new ideas, prepares us for next steps and helps us move from one stage to another. I’ve added the pink primrose to activate the face oil vibrationally and create an intentional ritual during each application. If you find another flower elixir that you resonate with, feel free to substitute.

Ingredients
5 tsp Apricot Kernal Oil
3 tsp Jojoba Oil
1 tsp Seabuckthorn Oil
8 drops Rose Essential Oil
5 drops Sandalwood Oil
2 drops Palmarosa
15 drops Pink Primrose Flower Elixir (contact Lotus Wei)

This recipe couldn’t be any easier to make. Simply mix all ingredients together and pour into a glass container of your choice. I prefer to use two 2oz brown glass bottles with dropper. I’ll keep one for myself and I’ll gift the second to a friend.

 

 

 

Home Apothecary: The Essentials

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Treating your skin to natural, handmade recipes is much easier than it may seem. If you can cook, you can whip up a good number of skincare products at home. Just like your pantry, you’ll need to stock up on a few essentials. Once you get going, you’ll build upon these base products as you start to experiment with new and natural ingredients. We’ve put together the following list of essentials, their potential uses and a few places that you can source from.

Vegetable Oils (Organic):
At all times, we keep a mix of about 15 different vegetable oils. For starters, we recommend Olive and Grapeseed for use in body products and Almond, Apricot Kernal and Jojoba to use for face products. These oils will serve as a base for about 75% of the products you’ll likely make including body oil, face oil, cleansing oil, lotions/creams, salves and hair masks.

Coconut Oil (Unrefined, Raw, Organic):
This super oil is incredibly moisturizing and highly emollient. We love the buttery consistency, especially when the oil is in its solid state at temperatures below 76 degrees. Coconut oil is a versatile ingredient that can be used for lip balms, scrubs, lotions, balms and even oil pulling. You can even use coconut oil to wash your face.

Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter:
You can start with one or the other but we love both. Cocoa butter is more solid than shea butter so we recommend purchasing the wafers for ease of use. If you’re looking for an ingredient with a milder scent, go for the shea butter since cocoa butter smelts like chocolate. Both add a thick consistency to body butters, balms and salves.

Beeswax (Unrefined, Unbleached):
We recommend purchasing beeswax pastilles to avoid the step of grating. Beeswax is used as a thickener to creams, lotions, salves, butters and balms.

Aloe Vera (Fresh Gel, 99% Pure):
Aloe is soothing and relieves skin irritations from burns, rashes and bites. Plus, aloe helps restore the skin’s natural pH balance. We like to use aloe in toners, masks and face cleansers.

Hydrosol (aka Flower Water):
Hydrosols are the natural by-product of the essential oil distillation process. These fragrant waters retain the compounds present in the plant used and provide a great alternative to distilled water. You can find lovely hyrdrosols made from lavender, rose, chamomile, calendula and more. We like to use these flower waters for toners, refreshing face spritzers and lotions.

Clay:
You can pick from many different varieties depending on the source of the clay and your skin-type. Clays are extremely mineral-rich and have great absorbent powers for clearing pores. Plus, clay masks are so easy to make and a great addition to your weekly skincare routine. We also use clays to make exfoliants and face cleansers.

Honey (Raw):
This sticky sweetener acts as a humectant which helps lock in moisture when used on your skin. We use honey for masks, lip balms, body butters and even cleansers.

Sugar (Organic, Cane):
Our absolute favorite exfoliant used for scrubs.

Essential Oils:
The soul of the plant, essential oils embody the plant’s aromatic hormones and chemical compounds that can regenerate the skin and emotionally impact our mind state. There are so many to choose from, each with their own essence and use. Getting to know each essential oil takes time but there are a few that are great starters including lavender, lemon, bergamot, tea tree, ylang ylang, rose and sandalwood. We use essential oils in almost all products we craft, plus, you can play with your oils to make lovely, natural perfumes.

Tools:
Pyrex
Double Boiler
Measuring Spoons
Hand Mixer
Spatula
Brown Glass Containers for Storage

Resources:
Mountain Rose (vegetable oils, waxes, butters, essential oils)
Rivendell Farm in Ojai (essential oils, hyrdrosols)
Agbanga Karite (shea butter)
Global Goods (coconut oil)

Happy Crafting!
xx
Sam