Monday, May 31, 2010

Word of the Week: Remember

"I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did." ~Benjamin Harrison

"The story of America's quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots." ~Randy Vader

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic." ~John A. Logan

"We who are left how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?"
~Wilfred Wilson Gibson

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." ~Joseph Campbell

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Weekend Sale

Now through Monday, take $5 off any order of $25 or more. No coupon necessary...just shop at GCDSpa.com.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Word of the Week is...um...

Yesterday I went to the local garden center and picked up a carload of seedlings, pots, peat moss, seeds and seed potatoes, —everything I needed to get my gardens and planters going. My parents had given me a generous gift certificate and when I got home and looked at my receipt, I realized that most of their contribution had in fact been spent on...umm...well, manure.

As I opened the bags and dumped out the rich, dark brown composted manure into my garden, I thought about the thank you card I'd send them for the gift. "Thanks for the sh*t," I joked to myself, would be on the cover in flowery script. And inside the card, much as I was doing with the fertilizer, I'd lay it on thick. I tried lots of versions, but the one that kept coming back to me was: "Because there's nothing better than sh*t to make the flowers grow."

This was all meant as a joke (and probably I've been spending too much time with my 10-year-old son if I think this is funny) but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is true outside the garden, too. Even if you're someone who deletes the expletives (and I admit, I am not always that person), there simply isn't a better word to describe some of life's complications and difficulties. Life is not always roses. Sometimes, lots of times, it's stinky and messy. And I'm increasingly sure that we don't get the roses without the stinky messy part.

I was watching Tavis Smiley recently as he interviewed author Bruce Feiler. You may remember Feiler from his book and PBS miniseries Walking the Bible. A few years ago this "walking man" was diagnosed with cancer in his leg; he underwent surgery and spent a year recovering. As he negotiated the world on crutches, contemplating not only whether he would walk again but whether he'd survive to see his twin daughters grow up, he decided he'd choose a "council of dads" who could convey to his daughters the different parts of himself if he wasn't there to do it. The advice each man provided to Feiler's daughters, along with what his whole family learned from the experience, is chronicled in his book The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me (affiliate link). At one point in the interview, Feiler says, "The experience of contemplating death every day meant it didn't actually weigh heavily on my shoulders. It's actually kind of like an engine at your back." It pushed him to make strong connections with these men from all parts of his life, to think about what he wanted to leave behind, and to build a community of friends which has changed his life. Everything that grew out of this fertile ground would not have been possible without the sh*t that came first.

If you are familiar with Craig Ferguson, the actor/comedian/late night talk show host, you may know that he won a Peabody Award last year for his interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This particular show and interview ran again recently; if you didn't get a chance to see it, I highly recommend watching on YouTube. (Many of the other versions of this have been disabled, so I apologize if this link isn't working.) Ferguson asks Archbishop Tutu about his work and several times he refers to Tutu's ability to remain positive and initiate reconciliation in situations that seem hopeless. Archbishop Tutu refers time and again to the resilience of people, the inherent good of people, how even in squalor people are able to laugh and smile, to help one another. He relates the story of a woman injured by a hand grenade blast. She survived the attack only to spend months in ICU, and further time helpless and dependent on her children for her most basic needs. Even Archbishop Tutu seemed awed when he shared this woman's description of her condition: "It has enriched my life." A situation that seemed to be complete...well, you know...turned into an "enriching" experience.

I know it's crass, but the phrase "sh*t happens" is used so often because when it happens, it's the first word we say. Getting cancer, being injured by a hand grenade—who would argue that this is some pretty serious sh*t? And yet in both of these examples, the individuals who lived through those experiences felt their lives were somehow richer. What's more, in both situations the blossoming of these lives has inspired others. Feiler's book is being used as a bridge to help others build their own families and communities, to make memories with them while they can. Archbishop Tutu is motivated to continue his work partly by remembering the magnanimity of those he works for, including this "victim" and her family.

So frequently you hear someone griping about their misfortune (I've done it myself!). It's funny how a series of happy things makes us feel entitled, like things are always going to be good. We don't see the true value of the inevitable sh*t: that living through it makes us stronger, more confident, more able and willing to take on challenges, more capable of helping others with our actions and our example. We forget that its real job is to show us what we're made of, to provide that fertile ground from which our true selves can blossom. In fact, we really should be saying "Thank you for the sh*t." Because there's nothing better than sh*t to make the flowers grow.

What do you think? Do the best parts of life spring from the stuff we think we want to cast off and leave behind? What have you learned from the things you've lived through?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wedding Photography Tips with Trisha Millier

For several years now wedding photography has been among the top three priorities of those surveyed in The Knot's Real Weddings Survey, accounting for just under 10% of the average wedding's budget. That investment reflects the importance of wedding photos to most couples: your wedding pictures are the record of that special day, a way to capture those memories forever. Selecting a wedding photographer is pretty important! How do you choose the right one? Are there things you can do to ensure that your shots are perfect? What are some common mistakes to avoid?

I recently spoke with photographer Trisha Millier, who has spent a decade capturing images of special events. After all this time, she says, "it still feels fresh!" Trisha's obvious enthusiasm for photography started early; that interest led her to Rockport College's Photography Program, where she "fell in love with the beauty of Mid-Coast Maine." Trisha continued her education at The New York Institute of Photography, and today she photographs weddings from New England to Hawaii. Trisha graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about wedding photography, and has allowed me to share some of her images with you, too.

What are the most important things to consider before hiring a photographer?

With a little preparation selecting the right photographer for you can be the simplest part of your planning process.

First, decide what your style is. Do you want to be posed and photographed traditionally? Do you love the look of photojournalistic images? Breeze through magazines and find examples of what represents you. Photography is not one- size-fits-all.

Make the most of the internet. Browse photographer portfolios, visit wedding themed resources like The Knot or Wedding Wire where you can find customer reviews and image samples, and be sure to check for photographer listings with organizations such as Professional Photographers of America. This is also a good way to get a general idea of pricing in different areas.

Your research should allow you to narrow down your prospective list to a select group of photographers whose work you find appealing. Contact them! Email, call, or stop in. And donʼt be afraid to ask questions. How long has the photographer been in business? What is their training? Do they work with an assistant? What do you get for the price you pay? Do they offer any special promotions?

It is very important that you feel comfortable with him or her as they will be capturing one of the biggest days of your life!

Are there any specific challenges to working in Maine and New England?
The outdoors in New England provides for some absolutely stunning backdrops and some unpredictable weather! From September through the winter months I carry a “bridal survival pack”. Complete with funky colored umbrellas, tissues for runny noses, Visine for windblown teary-eyes, extra bobby-pins, and a windbreaker for shuffling between chilly locations, my kit has saved the day many a time.

You also work in Hawaii—do you have any destination wedding photography tips?
If not hiring a photographer local to your destination, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Ideally, select a photographer who is a frequent visitor to your destination or at the very least is familiar with it. Many professionals list the locations they work in on their web sites or on wedding vendor directories and forums. Your photographer should also be a seasoned business traveler. When contacting, ask how often they travel for work and what their process is for returning your images to you.

Your hotel, wedding reception venue, and your destinationʼs chamber of commerce are all good places to begin your search if going with a local photographer.

Look up your destination ahead of time. Since these aren't places youʼre likely to revisit soon after your wedding day, make the most of them! Compile a list of your “must capture” locations near your venue and talk to your photographer about incorporating them. If staying at a hotel the staff is a wonderful resource often eager to share the "low-down" on secret locations— especially on romantic islands.

Your site mentions your thoughts about being "eco-conscious" in your business—is this something clients are requesting, or was it a personal decision? How has that aspect of your business been received by clients?
My decision to be more eco-conscious was born from my love of nature and the desire to be a responsible business owner.

Working on-location has allowed me to witness firsthand the toll we take on our surroundings. While the part I play is on a small scale, I have managed to reduce waste, consume less energy, and offer products produced from recycled materials.

In the interim, being “Green” has indeed become fashionable, and thatʼs fine with me! The brides I work with donʼt necessarily contact me because I am a ʻgreen photographerʼ. When they find out that in some way they are supporting a larger movement by contracting my services, they know they can enjoy their images, guilt-free, and be proud of their choice.

What are some of the mistakes people make with their wedding pictures, and how can they avoid them?
Weddings can be very expensive and a lot of the time couples try to save in some areas that are really where they should invest. Once the cake is cut, food is consumed, the flowers wilted, and the tuxedo and designer gown put away, you have your memories and, hopefully, beautifully captured images youʼll treasure for a lifetime. You should select a professional based largely on their portfolio and how you connect with them—not solely on your wallet. The reality is that while you may save a few hundred dollars by going the ʻcheapest routeʼ, you may be sacrificing service and image quality.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to look like the best version of yourself, not a stand-in. Donʼt over-do make-up! If itʼs caked on and looks unnatural, it will still look funny after editing. Practice your hair and make-up a few times before the big day and youʼll be picture perfect.

What are your tips for making the photography run more smoothly on the wedding day?
I am a fan of the “Designated Herder" myself—usually the Best Man or Maid of Honor who is in charge of rounding up family and the bridal party for formal photographs.

In an effort to move things along smoothly, I also meet with clients prior to their wedding day to discuss any artistic images they want captured or any special requests. This little bit of pre-wedding prep-work goes a long way when it comes to having things run effortlessly the day of.

Are you noticing any trends in wedding photography in recent years? Where do you see it going in the future?
Trash The Dress shoots have become increasingly popular, post-wedding. Where once the bride would dry-clean and store the gown away for future generations to behold, the modern bride makes full use of her couture creation by swimming in it, hiking in it, or even horseback riding in it – all for the camera. It makes for some stunning shots though itʼs not for everyone.

What sets you apart? What special skills or qualities do you bring to your work?
I have logged countless hours in a darkroom, developing film and learning the craft that distinguishes a professional from an enthusiast. There is no substitute for training. Even the best equipment will fall short in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use it or understand its limits.

And most importantly, I LOVE people and am passionate about what I do! The best part of my job is meeting individuals from all walks of life and getting to tell their story in images. Iʼm open to anything and I pride myself in being approachable and available to clients.

What is included in the photography packages you offer? Do you make digital copies available, or do people ask for them for the web?
With all my packages I include high resolution digital copies with no limit as to the number of images I take. Personal Use Rights are also standard on all my packages so that each couple may print any images they like.

With larger packages I include custom Thank You cards with envelopes, on-line proofing or printed proofs on several paper selections, album design and/or coffee-table style books, and enlargements as requested by the client.

What do you enjoy most about photographing weddings?
There is something so amazing about being privileged to share in a coupleʼs special stolen moments and then immortalizing them in images.

Thank you, Trisha! Please visit Trisha Millier's web site to see more of her stunning images, and check out her new Facebook page, too!


What do you think? Did you find this information helpful? Do you have any additional tips for choosing a wedding photographer? Any advice for the wedding planning couple? Please leave your comments below!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Win Tickets to Sex and the City Advance Screening!

I'm sure all of you SATC fans have been counting the days, so it's no surprise to you that Sex and the City 2 opens next week on May 27th. A few lucky gals (and pals) in Sacramento will get the chance to see an Advance Screening on Monday the 24th, and will also get to attend the exclusive Pre-Party at Tre Restaurant, courtesy of CBS Radio, Sacramento CA (1025 KSFM, THE MIX 96, 100.5 THE ZONE AND 105.1KNCI).

Pampered guests will nosh on hors d'oeuvres, sip cocktails (cosmopolitan, anyone?) and get the red carpet treatment, right down to the sexy gift bags for all those attending. Gift bags include items from Frederick's of Hollywood, The Body Shop, Godiva Chocolate, GS Hair, eyeslipsandface.com, and...wait for it...GCDSpa!!

We are so excited to be participating in the Advance Screening and Pre-Party, but geography prevents us from attending in person. Would you like to go in our place? We have two tickets to the Advance Screening and Pre-Party that we'd love to give to you and your guest. All you have to do to win is to leave a comment below telling us why you'd like to go. That's it! Submit extra entries by tweeting about it, or by sharing it on Facebook (one additional entry for each per day, please). Make sure you leave a comment for each of your entries.

We'll randomly select a winner on Friday, May 21 at noon EST 2 pm EST. We'll also choose two additional winners to receive samples of the NEW Sweetini Spa Pink Flirtini lip balm that we created especially for the SATC2 events! (These samples are open to anyone in the U.S., while the tickets are only for those who can actually attend this event on Monday, May 24th, in Sacramento, California! Please note in your comment whether you are able to attend!)

Spread the word and leave your comment to enter!

If you're in Sacramento and want more chances to win tickets for an amazing girls' night out, tune in to 100.5 The Zone starting at 3:30 on Friday; log in to your free eMix Rewards account at Mix 96 KMYX to enter; listen to the morning show on KSFM 1025; and listen to Freddie and Dan all week on KNCI-FM!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fear is the Word

I don't know about you, but I've gotten one too many terrifying emails lately. As if it wasn't bad enough to have to worry about pollutants in my water and contaminants in my food, now I'm getting emails asking, "Are Your Cosmetics Endangering Your Life?" I'm overwhelmed by the constant message of fear. It's exhausting, it's unproductive, and in my opinion, it's manipulative.

A couple times a week I get messages about some chemical or toxic ingredient with the message, "Is this deadly product in YOUR home?" I read the article to find out how I've been slowly poisoning myself in my shower or kitchen. The sender lets me know step by step how to eliminate this threat to my family's safety (and, more and more often lately, how to replace it with THEIR "safe" version of the same product). Disaster averted. But then there's another, and another, and it becomes so hard to keep up--and the risks seem so complicated and serious--that I start to worry if I'm making the right decision. Wouldn't it be easier if I let someone else make the decisions for me?

As I was chatting on Facebook recently, I realized I'm not the only one who is tempted to do this. More than once I've been referred to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and their Skin Deep database. "Are your products listed there?" I've been asked. "Let's check there to see what they have to say about this ingredient," I've been told. I wondered what would lead people to put their complete faith in one source of information to the exclusion of everything else? What kept coming up was fear.

Have you ever wondered if fear affects decision-making? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Berkeley concluded that fear causes people to be pessimistic about taking risks: "the more fear participants reported, the more likely they were to choose the sure thing... Essentially, fearful people avoided uncertainty." What could be more certain than a reference that says "yes" or "no" to product ingredients? A rating system that tells you what is safe and what is not removes all of the risk. The problem is that the information at Skin Deep is incomplete, sometimes incorrect, and often misleading.

The truth is, there is no one else who can make all of the right decisions for you. When we talk about product "safety" it is tempting to believe that there is one absolutely safe, risk-free product or answer, but that is simply not the case. When I was asked recently to confirm whether my moisturizing products contain wheat or gluten (they don't), I was reminded that products I consider "safe" might not be "safe" for someone with celiac. Products containing nut oils may not be safe for those with allergies, and anyone sensitive to an essential oil or fragrance oil might not consider products to be "safe" if they contained them. What is "safe" to me may not be safe to you; you know best what might harm you, and what to avoid to stay safe. No one else can make those decisions for you. No one can make them for me.

I have the same responsibility as a manufacturer. If I read a report that says a particular ingredient is unsafe, I must decide whether to replace it, what to replace it with, and how to reformulate without it. I must consider whether the product will continue to perform as customers expect. I have to assess the risks of new ingredients. And I have to present all of this as openly and clearly as I can so my customers can decide for themselves if they are comfortable with my decisions. As manufacturers and consumers we have to make these decisions all the time; fear has no place here. I promise you that I am not so desperate to get your business that I will make you afraid for your health or the well-being of your family. I understand that you may decide that my products are not appropriate for you or for your family, for reasons of your own. And I'm okay with that. There are many other companies that offer many other products that may be perfect for you. I'm okay with that, too.

As consumers we need as much information as possible to make decisions. As a manufacturer, I also rely on many experts and resources to help me make informed decisions. I want to encourage you to use the resources you're comfortable with, but also get second and third opinions from other sources. Here are just a few of the places that I return to for information about personal care products, ingredients, and safety.

Personal Care Truth - a new web site offering cosmetic safety information based on scientific research. Panel of experts with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Just launched today, but their experts put this at the top of my go-to list.

Essential Wholesale's Blog - manufacturer of natural and organic personal products bases provides unbiased, science-based information.

Indie Business Blog
- particularly helpful is the legislative advocacy section, which provides information about the impact that cosmetics regulation and legislation have on the small business owner, and the effect this will have on the marketplace.

Green Skin Care - the dish on eco-beauty, The Grapeseed Company's blog provides ways to go green in everyday life, including your beauty routine. Recipes, tips.

Robert Tisserand - recognized aromatherapy expert, fantastic blog with information about essential oils and aromatherapy

The Southern Accent - Cactus & Ivy's blog, manufacturer of natural, cruelty-free and vegan products shares information about ingredients, legislation, and green living.

Sagescript Institute & Colorado Aromatics - Cindy Jones, PhD is a biochemist, molecular biologist and herbalist. Her scientific point of view is fascinating and invaluable.

Cosmeticsinfo.org - The Personal Care Products Council's resource for ingredient information, details about how cosmetics and ingredients are tested and regulated.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act - the rules we live by.

There are so many other great resources online. I'd love it if you'd share your favorites below so we can all learn from them.

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." ~Marie Curie

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sautéed Zucchini Wraps

I'm a little bit obsessed with zucchini. A few summers ago I grew a bumper crop and had to come up with a million ways to eat it. This became my favorite: grated, mixed with chopped garlic, maybe a bit of chopped onion, some basil and oregano, and sautéed in olive oil until tender. Then spread the resulting mixture on pizza or garlic bread, or add it to rice, or eat it with a spoon...see how crazy I am about this?

Last week I needed to make a quick dinner and happened to have a couple tiny zucchinis in my fridge. I prepared one of them as above, grated with some garlic, and while it was cooking I put a whole wheat tortilla on my griddle, added a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and a sprinkle of oregano, and let the cheese melt. When the zucchini was tender, I spread some of it over half of the tortilla, folded the other half over, and crisped both sides. (One zucchini is enough for two tortillas...I was good and I even shared!) I served it with pizza sauce, but pasta sauce or cheese sauce or some other favorite would be great, too. Or no sauce at all. It was like a health food "hot pocket." Delish!

Do you like zucchini? What's your favorite way to eat it?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Blog Post at Indie Business Blog

I was honored to have a guest post at the Indie Business Blog yesterday! The post is called "7 Business Success Tips From My Kids' Favorite Cartoon Characters." I welcome you to check it out--and leave a comment about what you've learned from your favorite cartoon characters!

This was really exciting for me because I am a regular reader of Donna Maria's blog. If you are looking for social media tips, information about how to juggle work and home responsibilities, small business advice, or even encouragement for starting an exercise program, you must take a look at her blog!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mom's the Word

For a couple of years now I've found it difficult to pick out a Mother's Day card. It's not that I disagree with the sentiments; I nod along as I read them in the store. But they just don't get the whole story.

For example, I recently realized that I was eating the heels. No, I don't mean Jimmy Choos, I'm talking about those slices of bread at each end of the loaf. Most people skip right by those pieces to get to the choicer slices; growing up, it seemed like my mom was the one who ate them. I had a sense of satisfaction a few weeks ago when I realized that I was choosing those slices, myself. It made me feel like maybe I picked up on some of her selflessness after all; somehow I learned to save the choicest pieces for other people. There's no Mother's Day card that talks about eating the heels.

There's also no Mother's Day card that talks about being tough. When my parents were in a car accident in 1998, my mom suffered a broken neck and was in a halo for a month. Through her time in intensive care, multiple surgeries, and weeks of physical therapy, I found myself encouraging her with familiar words: "It's a good thing you're tough." I can't count the number of times she handled my skinned knees or hurt feelings with those words. I didn't always feel tough, but she said it because she knew I could be, that someday I'd need to be. Sometimes when we feel weak, we need someone to believe that we're strong so we can believe it, too. My mom always did that for me.

What moms believe--and what they say--can be so powerful! I was a fearful kid who grew up to be an anxious adult. It's just how I'm wired; I worry about the littlest things, and it's made me more hesitant to try new things. My accomplishments were made possible by my mom's words. If your mother tells you that you can do anything, you eventually start to believe it. It's something I try to do with my own kids now, to see their potential (even if they don't) and remind them of their possibilities.

I couldn't find a card that said thank you for being so tough, selfless, and encouraging--and for helping me to be that kind of parent and person, too. That's the kind of card I needed for the kind of mom I have. Maybe I'll have better luck next year?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Feedback Friday is Wild!!

And now, for something completely different...

I couldn't decide what fragrance to do this week for Feedback Friday, so I'm letting you choose. It's a Wild Card kinda Friday!

The product: 2-ounce purse size hand cream in tottle bottle.
The fragrance: you name it. Choose from our complete list of fragrances. We've even included a few surprises here that were limited editions or special orders that never made it into our standard fragrance list.
The label: will not look anything like this one pictured here. I promise.

What IS Feedback Friday? It's our way of sharing a fragrance or flavor you might not have tried before by offering a f.r.e.e. sample that you can add to your next order. (We pay for product, you pay for shipping...so technically you can add it to the cart without an order, but the shipping will still apply. Make sense?)

It's also a place for you to share your opinions if you've already tried a product, or come back and share once you've received a sample. Our past Feedback Fridays have been Sweetini Spa, Apricot Freesia, Green Clover and Aloe, Lilac, and Lemon Blueberry. We also offered samples of our new facial moisturizer (still a few left if anyone is interested...?).

Is there a fragrance you've been dying to try? Here's your chance. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm going to stretch out the time between Feedback Fridays, so this will be available for at least three weeks. Please let me know what you think! What's your favorite fragrance? Which one do you want to try next?

AND...please let me know if you think these Feedback Fridays are valuable. Is there a better way to let you share comments about products? (You know, you can also post reviews on Facebook.) A better way to try them? Any ideas are welcome!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fitness is the Word

I've been on a serious (for me) fitness kick lately. I have gone through times when I was really fit, and other times...not so much. My problem is that most of the things I love to do are quiet, sitting-still-things: reading, writing, designing things, making stuff. And when you get too focused on those things, it's easy to lose track of time and realize you've been sitting for a whole day. Which is not good if you want to be fit.

So anyway, my last fitness kick involved walking, but this time I got more serious. I decided I would feel better and get fit faster by running and riding my bike, in addition to the Pilates mat exercises I was doing for stretching and core work. So I've been alternating running and biking and following up with stretches.

This photo shows the latest brilliant (snicker) idea: my husband installed a pull-up bar in the living room doorway. I have no upper body strength at all, so I encouraged him to install this. My deal with myself was that I was going to do at least one pull-up every time I went into the living room. For the first week I avoided the living room like the plague. I couldn't even pull myself up at all, I had to give a little hop to get my chin over the bar. Then I couldn't do more than one pull-up. Today I did five.

It's the same with the running: at first I couldn't run all the way around one lap (approximately a mile). I know, that may seem pathetic, but I had to stop and walk part of the way. Last week I was able to run the whole way without stopping (and without my lungs burning, which is pretty major for me), and today I finished one lap and felt so good about it that I just kept going. I really felt like I could have gone on and on. With biking I went from two miles to four, and have just upped it again to six.

What I love about exercising is how fitness creeps up on me. When I start it is painful. And I mean Painful: my lungs are on fire, my legs feel like jelly, my abs and arms and joints and muscles just ache constantly. If I keep doing it, not only does it hurt less, it actually starts feeling good. It gets easier. I feel stronger. Suddenly things that seemed impossible (holy cats, run 2 miles???) are do-able. I'll be running the two mile route by the end of this week. Maybe even tomorrow. That means I will run six or 8 miles this week, and I will bike 18 to 24 miles. And maybe it doesn't seem like much, but by June, I will be able to do 10 pull-ups. That's the goal. Baby steps!

What I love even more about getting fit is that the "I can do anything" powerful feeling you get from exercising then translates into other areas. Other things that seemed impossible are just minor bumps. I'm planning to get fit and stay fit this time, and not have to relearn this lesson over and over again!

How about you? Is fitness important to you? What do you do to stay fit? Please share your thoughts below!

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs." ~Joan Welsh

"It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor." ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I Love PRIIA Cosmetics!

I have to admit that I haven't always been a big makeup person. I learned early on that even if I liked playing with makeup, my skin didn't enjoy it; I often ended up with redness or a rash, and that itchy, burning feeling kept me away from makeup for years. Even when I was in high school and college, I mostly wore lipstick and no other makeup.

Unfortunately, in high school and college I also didn't wear my sunscreen consistently. I'd try to tan, and more than once ended up with angry burns. As I approach 40 I'm a walking cautionary tale: age spots and freckles, along with fine lines, have started to appear. I realized that even if my skin didn't like makeup before, I NEEDED it to even my skin tone and minimize the appearance of those spots and freckles. Enter mineral makeup.

I heard only good things about mineral makeup: doesn't feel like a mask, doesn't irritate sensitive skin, looks natural. I was sold! But my early purchases were disappointing. I still found it uncomfortable and kind of itchy to wear. Until I tried PRIIA Cosmetics.

Last year I was fortunate enough to talk with Kelley Maddison, the creator of PRIIA Cosmetics, and share some of her great advice about bridal makeup and skin care. I know Kelley from Twitter, and we both belong to the Indie Beauty Network. Kelley launched PRIIA Cosmetics last year, and around that time I started using her products. I don't recommend products lightly, but I decided that after a whole year of using a variety of PRIIA cosmetics, I was qualified to offer my opinions. I'm delighted to tell you that PRIIA is, quite simply, the best.

The first wonderful thing you learn about PRIIA Cosmetics is that you can buy sample sizes. Finding a match for my foundation was simple and didn't break the bank, and I've since been able to purchase eye shadows and lip colors in small sizes just to try them out. (There are so many to choose from, you'll find it impossible to select just one!)

The next thing I loved about PRIIA Cosmetics was that the foundation really DIDN'T feel like a mask, it DIDN'T itch, and in fact, I couldn't tell I was wearing makeup at all! This is the promise of other mineral makeup brands, but PRIIA really delivers. When I read Kelley's story, I realized that perhaps I, too, had been sensitive to the Bismuth Oxychloride in other mineral makeup brands. PRIIA Cosmetics are free of Bismuth Oxychloride. (They also contain no carmine, dyes, parabens, or talc.)

So what do PRIIA Cosmetics contain? Pure crushed mineral pigments. Kaolin clay. Rice Powder. Silk Powder. Pearl powder. Jojoba oil. This sounding good yet? You can read more about PRIIA's ingredients here.

If you haven't heard enough good things yet, here are a few more:
• The Fruit Smoothie Facial Exfoliating Serum is a seriously simple, gentle way to exfoliate. It has made my skin feel softer and removed the "dull" appearance.
• The eye shadows are gluten-free and vegan. And did I mention the colors? Thirty satin shadow colors, 14 matte...it's insane. And probably I'm cheating, but I've even used the Wilted Petal as a "blush" color. It's fabulous.
• I'm picky about lip products. There, I said it. I make lip balm all day and when I wear lipstick I want it to have that same moisturizing feeling. PRIIA's Pucker Upz Lip Infusions™ really do. Really. They feel creamy and smooth, have amazing colors (I've tried four—In the Buff is the bomb), and they don't have synthetics, preservatives, FD&C dyes, lakes, or carmine. And the best part: they have an awesome flavor/fragrance. This is one of my pet peeves about lip products. I have thrown out lipstick after a single use because it tastes or smells funny. Pucker Upz have the subtle flavor/fragrance of tangerine. So on top of everything else, they're yummy, too. What's not to love?

I could go on all day, but I can't wrap this up without telling you about the latest amazing product I tried. If you have blemishes or dark circles under your eyes (HELLO! Over here!) you must order this product. PRIIA's Creamy Mineral Under Eye Concealer is amazing. I saw customers raving about this product on Twitter and Facebook and had to try it myself. Wow, is it good. I've never gotten this kind of coverage before with any other product. And as with everything else PRIIA, it's gentle and soothing. Did I mention it was gluten-free and vegan, too? Yep.

I can't say enough good things about this company. I've tossed my other makeup—PRIIA is all I use now. Don't hesitate to try PRIIA Cosmetics! Kelley is super nice and will answer any questions you may have about her products. (I have to add that these are all my own opinions, I purchased the products, and I wasn't paid to post this review!)

Have you tried PRIIA Cosmetics? What are your favorite products?

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