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So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen...


Dearest Readers,

This post has been a long time coming. While we have enjoyed contributing to this community of like-minds for almost five years and will always appreciate all of your support, the time has come to turn the page and begin a new chapter.

On March 27, 2008 we published our very first blog post after spending a total of $25 to get our site up and running.  As two sisters with a mutual love of all things natural we decided to create a space to easily share our favorite products with our friends and family. We had no idea if anyone would ever read our posts other than us. It began as just a fun hobby for two sisters who lived on opposite sides of the country. We were thrilled when our readership grew from 5 to 500 to 5000 and on and on. We are still amazed at what it became.

This year has been full of changes, difficulties, breakthroughs, challenges and triumphs. We will be forever grateful to the blogosphere for the freedom to write what we wanted and to all of you for continuing to read whatever was on our mind. We are flattered that many of you considered us experts but you should know that we are just two women who happen to like the more natural things in life who crave information and honesty and who wanted to create something that didn't exist. We always aimed to keep it real and hope you found that here.

An important lesson we have learned over the years in building an online community is that it is especially important to be conscious of being present. In other words, be where you are. It's very easy to escape into an online world. Don't miss the opportunity to live in the here and now. Don't forget what truly matters. For us, this proved to be difficult while spending so many hours online as it can be for many others. This year has been full of lessons and one that rang loud and clear is that it is essential to disconnect from devices and re-connect with people and nature in an analog way.  


We wish to extend a very warm thank you to all the companies who sent us products to put to the test, to the retailers who sponsored us and/or sought our opinion on what they should carry in their stores and to our readers who continue to return here and value our perspective.

Erin remains very busy raising three adorable littles while starting her own, all-natural (obviously) candle company. You can keep up with her on Instagram @poppyjanecandleco and at her website www.poppyjanecandleco.com. 

Stancie is taking on the challenging task of renovating a 1930s house into the home of her dreams. You can keep tabs on her favorite products, home ideas, healthy recipes, wellness tips and more over on Pinterest.

As we begin a new year we look forward to fresh starts, new adventures, renewed perspectives and wish you the same. Have a wonderful and meaningful 2013!

xo,

S+E




Photo credit: Fig+Sage. 
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Soapbox: Stanford Study Claims Organic Food No More Nutritious, But Is It Healthier?





Stanford's recent study meta-analysis conclusions reminds me of a national news story I watched a few years ago that shared "shocking" lab results concluding that organic produce has no less bacteria on it than conventionally grown produce. Hold up. Really?! This is news?  I spoke to the television. The camera panned to an organic potato just plucked from the ground with a lot of dirt on it.  Cue dismal background music.  The stone-faced reporter looked right into the camera and said, as if revealing catastrophic information never heard before: "our independent lab results found organic produce contains the same amount of bacteria as conventionally grown produce".  Cue gasps, raised eyebrows and hands over mouths?  Nope. Cue the crickets. Turns out this assertion was also made in the recent Stanford study.  Why go to all the trouble to do a study of the obvious?  These types of studies do prove something - that although more organic is being purchased than ever before, many still don't understand what "organic" means. 


Are we eating organic because we think it's more nutritious or are we eating it because it is h-e-a-l-t-h-i-e-r? There is a difference. 

I don't know about you but I eat organic because of what it isn't, more so than what it is.  I don't prefer my nutrition with a side of pesticide, a dollop of fungicide and a sprinkle of GMO. I'll just have my nutrition plain, please. 


What about the correlation between pesticide, antibiotic and genetically-modified organism consumption, including Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, and health?  That wasn't part of this study which is where Stanford researchers missed the mark.

If you've ever driven between Illinois and Missouri you know much of the drive is cornfields, cornfields and more cornfields.  It seems like corn is in everything these days and they've got to grow it somewhere.  As I drove through the fields on my way to Missouri a couple months ago I noticed a huge corn operation with big perfect barns, massive new tractors, huge white silos, shiny conveyor belts that went on forever and perfectly green stalks as far as the eye could see.  My gawking was interrupted by small bright yellow planes overhead that were flying really low and then high, dipping down and back up again, back and forth.  At first I thought it was an air show because it seemed like they were doing tricks until I saw huge clouds being released from the bottom of the planes when they would dip way down close to the corn. Six planes were methodically releasing pesticides on almost fully grown stalks and everything else below.  I immediately turned off my A/C, closed the vents and pushed on the gas.  I cringed thinking about the people and animals who lived in this area, worried about the air they breathe and the water they drink.  Do they eat that corn or do they know better?  I wondered if more people would wander to the organic section of their market if they saw this for themselves.  I wondered if the pilots ate this corn or if they quietly bought organic for their families.  I was already a believer in organic but witnessing this firsthand had a definite impact.  Does Stanford expect us to believe that spraying our food with conventional pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers is healthy for bodies, healthy for farmers, healthy for animals, healthy for water, healthy for soil and healthy for air?   




We don't need a study to dictate what is healthy in this instance, we need common sense.  What I would like to see Stanford spend their time and money on is a study of people who live in agricultural areas who are consistently sprayed and the percentage of illnesses compared to those who do not live in such areas.  Now that would be newsworthy. 



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Review :: La Bella Figura Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil + Decouverte Eye Repair Serum




Of course my eyes and ears are drawn towards that which is fig but that has no bearing on whether I'll like it or not. I'd never heard of this particular oil so my interest was definitely piqued. From the moment I used it I knew it was special.  Organic fig seed oil could very well be the new 'it' oil, or at least it should be.  The aroma, feel and results of La Bella Figura's Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil all surpassed my experience with the ever popular argan oil, although more costly.  Perhaps it's because it has a much higher Vitamin E content than argan.  My skin is noticeably smoother and seemed to tone it out and really provides great hydration. There is a noticeable moisture barrier that fuses itself to and in the skin upon application.  My skin seemed to have evened out in terms of tone and color and if my eyes aren't fooling me, wrinkles seem to have smoothed out as well.

I'm usually drawn to a combination of oils for my skin but this certified solitary oil is awesome. No idea why it's called barbary fig seed oil since it doesn't come from fig fruit. Perhaps it's because the thought of cactus and face in the same sentence doesn't sound very appealing. Since this is a single origin oil, you aren't getting anything but the pure unadulterated oil, and as such, no other ingredients are in the mix to mask or enhance it's scent. I've never really smelled anything else like it so it's difficult to explain or compare its aroma. Pure (non-deodorized) argan oil has a very distinct nutty aroma and this doesn't smell like that at all.  What comes to mind without editing my thoughts is that it's a combination of burnt sugar and an old-school pink eraser.  Is that weird?  I don't think it's a bad or displeasing scent, just different. My sniffer has been highly sensitive these days so perhaps you will smell something entirely different.

Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil comes from the seed of the cactus plant and is golden in color
>To learn more about Barbary Fig Seed Oil, click here. <

Ingredients: 100% Pure Cold Pressed Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil - ECOCERT Certified


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Eco Travel :: Tamarindo, Costa Rica ~ Saying No To Fear, Yes To Adventure





Amazing things happen when you combine rejuvenation and adventure.  When tranquility and adrenaline collide, worries seem to suspend.  When you leave behind digital communication you begin to comprehend that your body and mind seem to be better off without the constant influx.  It's amazing what you hear when you get rid of the noise.  You learn it's okay to stop checking a device every five minutes seconds and adore that you are a difficult to get a hold of.  You appreciate that you are  telling time by where the sun is and how your stomach feels. You stand taller and breathe more deeply. You go from smiling without showing teeth to smiling with teeth.  At least, that's how Costa Rica was for me.   


Day 1: Tamarindo, Costa Rica 



The entire day was spent traveling.  I met my good friend of 21 years in Houston during a layover before we flew into Liberia, Costa Rica together. 


The three hour flight went by very quickly as we were busy chatting up a storm.

By the time we got through customs and converted dollars to colones, baggage claim was deserted. Our driver was there to meet us as soon as we got our bags. He was very nice and helpful.

 


We had an hour long bus ride from the airport to Hotel Capitan Suizo, a hotel that prides itself on it's sustainability efforts. It was strange driving in the dark not being able to see where we were or where we were going. I silently hoped this Gift of Happiness thing wasn't an elaborate scam and that we weren't going to be kidnapped. I pushed fear aside.

 

We arrived to Tamarindo and saw restaurants, bars and hotels lit up and then the roads turned to dirt and our path was dark and bumpy as we drove through what looked to be the downtown area. Our tour bus pulled up to our hotel around 11:30 p.m. local time, which was very quite, dimly lit and seemed to be located off the beaten path. The lobby was completely open-air, it had a roof but the sides were open and we noticed a wonderful aroma wafting through the thick air.  We were checked in promptly and escorted to our room by a hotel security guard (since it was after hours) where we unloaded all of our things, sprayed bug spray on ourselves, the bed legs and sides of the mattresses and got ready for bed. Yes, I was a little paranoid about the potential insect situation. Don't worry, I used the natural stuff




When we woke the next morning we were anxious to see where we were and what our view was from our window.


We pulled back the curtain to our terrace to discover this amazing view.  I had to wipe the lens of the camera because it fogged up as soon as we stepped outside due to the humidity.



Our terrace was filled with the lovely scent of jasmine.  We took our sweet time getting dressed and strolled over to the hotel restaurant for a buffet breakfast that overlooked both the ocean and pool.



The restaurant was open air and there was a rather large cat curled up on one of the seats and a bird perched on top of chair visiting with hotel guests begging for food.  My chair faced the pool and my friend's faced the ocean.


We filled our plates and cups, sat down and took in the sights and sounds of tropical paradise.  We both had mirrored compulsion to check our phones for emails and texts whenever we'd sit down to eat - at least for the first couple days, but since we had no service they were left in our room. We weighed the pros and cons of going ahead with or cancelling the scheduled surf lessons that afternoon or just using the time to shop in town and explore. My friend was leaning towards shopping and I leaned towards saying yes to surfing because it was something I was practicing on this trip - saying yes. And I didn't think we should pass up the chance to surf in Costa Rica, even if the thought of it really freaked me out.  I decided to be more brave than normal and say "yes!" to things I normally wouldn't.


We stopped at the Concierge desk after breakfast to ask the best way to get to town.  While there we met the cutest little capuccin monkey, JoJo, who lived at the hotel.   


There were also baby howler monkeys right behind us at eye level that were just playing in the trees. 


The "Monkey Mama" at the hotel (as I called her) told us Jojo was very friendly and told us to hold out our arm to him to he could jump on. 


JoJo hopped on my friend first and quickly sat on her bag and before we knew it he had reached his little hand inside, grabbed her lip gloss and ran up a bookshelf and onto the roof with it before he started sucking on the end of it while looking at us with a "haha, you can't get me up here" look.

 

I was nervous at first not knowing what a monkey would do, but he was lighter than my cat and so funny and cute.  He reminded me of a little kid; toddler perhaps  Lots of energy, very silly and a little mischievous.


After playing with him for awhile we headed back to our room before strolling into town via the beach in front of our hotel.  JoJo wanted to come with us which of course we loved. 




We walked from the beach in front of our hotel to the town of Tamarindo.  We wanted to check out the shops and find some lunch before our scheduled surf lesson that afternoon.

 

We found a restaurant on the beach for lunch. I ordered tacos but it was more like a thin burrito.


View from our table.


Our beach walk back from town to hotel.

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