October 31, 2011
If you are signed up for our Daily Retreat & Renew Tips, you saw our message on Saturday, courtesy of our guest blogger, Kristen Howerton, about how to be ethically responsible this evening by not handing out candy that can be traced to child labor or trafficking.
In case you missed it, the low-down is here . . . but in a nutshell a BBC documentary revealed that child labor and even child trafficking is rampant in chocolate production, and that chocolate from most mainstream candy companies can be traced back to farms employing (and even buying) children to work in dangerous conditions.
For Kristen’s family, the response to learning this has been to limit our chocolate purchases to fair-trade chocolate, which is a system that ensures that workers are paid and treated fairly.
The first step? Avoid Hershey’s and buy Newman’s Own Organics Peanut Butter Cups, for example. Check this out for more suggestions on the good, the bad and the scary for this year’s Trick or Treating.
October 28, 2011
We love spas, but we LOVE DIY, all-natural beauty remedies.
Last night we tried one aimed at using the astringent properties of some essential oils to zap any pimples forming on our faces.
The ingredients tingled on my face and I could feel it working to clear my skin. When I rinsed it, my skin looked clear as day. And it was baby soft too!
Here’s what you do:
1. Grind 1 cup rolled oats, one half cup almonds (or 1 tbsp of almond oil), 1 tsp of lavender oil and 1 tsp of dried peppermint (or peppermint oil) into a fine powder.
2. Then add in one cup of mineral clay – we used Redmond Clay, which is extracted from mineral-rich volcanic ash in Utah – and 1/2 cup honey. Fun fact: For many generations, Native Americans carried a ball of this mineral-rich clay with them in their packs. They dissolved the clay in water and ingested it with meals. Clay, a product of Mother Earth, was a natural medicine used for fighting many stomach ailments, dysentery and food poisoning. In this case, the clay draws out toxins and impurities on the surface of the skin while the honey cleanses and moisturizes.
3. This makes the substance difficult to mix together, and it will be clumpy. If you want, regrind everything together in a food processor. Put it in a sealed container. When you’re ready to use it, take out a tsp and mix with warm water into a paste. Moisturize into your face and neck. You can rinse it right away as a cleanser, or wait 10 minutes and let it sit as a mask. That’s what I did. You’ll love it!
Redmond Clay and essential oils are key ingredients to a miracle, all natural facial scrub.
October 27, 2011
Alright, alright. We know that we’ve been hyping up fitness this week, but with good reason!
As the fall and winter creep in, the tendency for our bodies to slowly become stagnant becomes greater. We’re less likely to get outside, probably less motivated, and possibly even snacking more without realizing it. For those who travel constantly, it’s even more difficult to stay fit, especially when you don’t have access to a gym. We found the FitKit for indoor exercise that doesn’t require a lot of equipment.
The bright blue or pink pack is compact for packing in a suitcase and has all of the necessities for cardio and resistance training, believe it or not: jump rope, pedometer, resistance tubes and bands, stability attachment and a reflective arm band. You can take this kit with you and exercise outside or in your hotel room. There’s no excuses! There’s even instructions on how to most efficiently and effectively use these simple, compact tools.
The FitKit retails for about $30 on the Web site.
The FitKit makes it easy for you to exercise at home or on the road.
October 26, 2011
Our dogs need just as much exercise and relaxation time as we do, so next time you go outdoors for your daily dose of fitness, take Fido along!
Not only does regular exercise keep your dog’s heart healthy and from becoming overweight, it rids them of nervous, anxious energy that causes them to chew on furniture and misbehave.
The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, even says you can train your dog to use a treadmill! Check out his advice here.
The way I exercise with my dog is to leash him and let him run alongside my bike when I cycle. It took some training to keep him from running in front of the wheel, but now he loves it! About 15 minutes of that and he is worn out. I do this in the morning and night. When he gets tired, I’ll drop him back at the house and continue on my usual schedule. As a result, my beagle, which is prone to weight gain, has never needed a diet.
You’ll feel good about giving your dog a workout, and so will he or she!
Exercising with your dog helps keep him or her from misbehaving and from becoming overweight
October 25, 2011
Have you ever been in a slump while trying to diet and exercise? You feel overwhelmed by what you need to do to get fit? So do we! It can be a constant battle to get in the groove.
But recently we found a product called Fitbit that made our recent diet and exercise trials fun! Here’s why: the Fitbit is a little clip that you attach to an armband or your clothing. The Fitbit stores how much activity you are doing – how many steps you’ve taken, distance traveled, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and even how well you sleep! You sign up for an account on their Website and when the Fitbit is attached via USB to your computer, the data syncs. You can type in the foods you eat to see their estimated calories.
After a week of using this, we became obsessed with hitting our goals once we could see them on the screen. I was sure not to go over my calorie count and wanted to try to move around as much as possible. Once we could see what we were actually doing in a holistic way, it became a game of how to top ourselves on goals each day. You won’t realize how sedentary you actually are during the day until you start working with Fitbit. You can even log glucose and blood pressure levels!
The best part about the product is that it’s super easy to use. All you do is put it on your person and then when you’re near your computer, it syncs wirelessly! To charge it, you just plug it into the computer via USB. It costs about $100 and can be ordered from the company’s Web site.
The Fitbit makes tracking your fitness goals super easy.
October 24, 2011
I am what you call a mobile yogi.
As a travel, spa, business and food writer, it’s rare that I spend several consecutive nights in my own bed, but I still need to get my share of stretching, breathing and poses in. But of course, I do not have the space to carry around a yoga mat so I can properly secure myself in downward dog in my hotel rooms. That’s why when I found Yoga-Paws, I got incredibly excited!
Yoga-Paws are slip-resistant covers that go on your hands and feet. The company calls them the “yoga mat you wear.” But it’s perfect because they are super compact to fit in a suitcase, but also are made of yoga mat material that is free of chlorides, latex and PVC. The lining absorbs sweat instead of making the covers slip around on your hands. When you’re done, just hand wash them in the sink with cool water and soap.
Now wherever I go, I bring these little covers so that that I can do my yoga while on the road!
Yoga-Paws are compact covers for your hands and feet for traveling in lieu of a yoga mat
October 21, 2011
We recently discovered this amazing Web site called Susty Party [www.sustyparty.com]. Started by two young women in NYC, the site is chock full of materials that are not only recycled, but compostable! That includes bamboo plates and forks, biodegradable bowls, and more. They even offer recycling bins and free, downloadable signage to let guests at a party know the materials they are using are sustainable and to direct them where to put them afterwards! The best part is that the products are cheaper than most other sites and very affordable.
Take these 10″ biodegradable bagasse plates, which are made from the remains of sugarcane stalks after they’re crushed in sugar refineries to extract juice. This waste byproduct, officially known as bagasse (BUH – gas), is typically burned so these plates help reduce pollutants in the air AND eliminate waste. Bagasse plates will turn back into soil through composting in 6 to 7 weeks.
Biodegradeable, compostable plates from Susty Party
Then there are these adorable and attractive wooden-looking plates, manufactured in India by an innovative technique of steaming fallen leaves. VerTerra, an NYC-owned company, brought the technique to full-scale production for these very compostable and additive-free products. How fabulous are these?
Renewable plates made from steaming fallen leaves.
October 20, 2011
If you guys follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you might have seen that yesterday we were really pumped to discover that some JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotel spas will be donating 10 percent or more of proceeds from treatments during select hours until the end of November. The money goes to women’s wellness charities in their own communities. If you needed an excuse to get to the spa, then here you go!
“Our spas wanted to take part in the fight to keep women healthy so we are devoting October and November to helping ‘women’s wellness’ causes,” said Sharilyn Abbajay, vice president of global spas for Marriott International, in a press release.
Participating spas include: Camelback Inn – A JW Marriott Resort & Spa, JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, JW Mumbai, Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, Renaissance Inn at Bay Harbor, Renaissance Orlando at Seaworld, Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa, Marriott Hotel Manila, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island, Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa and Stamford Marriott.
Marriott is one of the largest operators of hotel spas in the world.
Now go get ‘em, girls! (and boys)
Marriott spas are donating 10 percent of proceeds during select hours to women's charities through November.
October 19, 2011
You know how much we at HL&S love our essential oils. Here’s one more – jojoba oil. So what is that anyway? Jojoba oil is is a botanical extract (it’s actually a wax) of the seed of the jojoba tree in Arizona, California and Mexico. This wax contains similar compounds to skin, so applying jojoba to the skin can trick the skin into thinking it is producing enough oil, thus balancing oil production. It’s also non-comedogenic.
That means it’s an awesome moisturizer! Buy the oil at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. If you’d like, you mix the jojoba with a couple drops of another favorite essential oil and splash it on your damp, clean face.
Voila! An expensive, all-natural solution to dry skin!
A jojoba seed
October 18, 2011
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Don’t let a bike intimidate you. It intimidated me at first – swerving through traffic and riding up hills on a regular basis didn’t really sound like fun – even though I knew it was a great way to get outside and feel the breeze, get my heart rate up, and bond with my husband and father (both cyclists). I also decided I wanted to lower my carbon footprint by taking the bike to the supermarket instead of my car, for example. And I’ve always loved to rent a bike as a way to see a new city or place. What I decided was that I needed a good, solid entry level bike to make cycling a part of my everyday routine. But I also didn’t want to spend $1000 on a starter bike.
So I found a great hybrid starter bike – the Schwinn Searcher – and it’s so pretty too! This bike is a hybrid, meaning you can ride it on the road and in light gravel without having to change tires. I’ve had it for about a week and it’s fantastic. I even got a speedometer, matching helmet and panniers to store goods in.
You can find this bike online or at many bike shops. It’s also pretty comfortable and is easy to adjust with a wide range of gears. The bike runs from $400 to $600. So go ahead, take a chance on cycling!
The Schwinn Searcher for Women