Saturday, December 31, 2016

As the Year Ends

Wow.  The end of 2016 is upon us.  Sometimes I look back on this year and am just shocked by all that's happened.  There was definitely a lot of tragedy and sadness, even just in these past few days (Princess Leia, you'll always be one of my heroes!!).  And there was also a lot of divisiveness and cause for worry.  I'm just praying things end up working out in the end.  I look at the environmental news every day and wonder if we'll be able to save our planet before it's too late. Hopefully.  I'm at a place in my life where I'm making a lot of "big decisions" about "important things" (applications, graduation, etc.), and as I do so, I hope that I will get to play a role in helping others when. I "grow up."  That would be nice :). It's reassuring to think that we're all capable of making some sort of difference, no matter how small, for the better.

It will be okay.

Anyway, despite the sadnesses of 2016, some good things did happen.  Like the possible Ebola vaccine, for instance, or the movement of the Giant Panda from "endangered" to "vulnerable" (not that vulnerable is great, but it's a step in the right direction). So as 2016 comes to an end, hope for a happier future and focus on making more good news. Love and light and hugs to everyone!

<3 Frances

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

O Tannenbaum

German and British troops celebrating Christmas to

It's almost Christmas . . . how is that even possible?  I'll miss Christmastime when it's over.  But what's really sad is that there are a lot of awful things going on in the world right now even though the holidays are supposed to be a time of love and peace.  I always think of the "O Tannenbaum" story when times are hard like this.  It was 1914, and World War I had been a horrible reality for several long and bloody months, but Christmastime somehow brought with it a feeling of beneficence between soldiers on both sides of the trenches.  Their shared appreciation for the beauty and sentiment of the holiday season is equal parts touching and heartbreaking because, while it did bring a sort of peace to the battlefront, the peace was only temporary, and men who had once shared in carols and football games were soon forced to return to killing each other.  In the words of Pvt. Albert Moren:
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.” (from TIME)
I can only hope that maybe we'll be able to find peace this year for people all over the world and that the peace will last.  Every time I see footage from Aleppo or think of what just happened at one of Berlin's beautiful Christmas markets, I'm overcome with sadness and pain and an overwhelming longing for peace. Shouldn't we be able to learn from the past and see that love is the most important thing? 
<3 Frances  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Conscientious Holiday Hair and Skin Solutions

Midterms are over!  OVER.  Now comes the anxiety of anticipating grades.  At least the winter holidays are finally here, though.. There will be ample time to procrastinate and work on various long-term projects from home while listening to the same Christmas mixed tape over and over again.
But homework and writing endeavors aside, I'm excited to have some more beauty loves to share.  As I work on a major research project about animal exploitation and animal cruelty in industry, I'm increasingly devastated by the reality of animal testing in cosmetics.  I really do enjoy skincare and makeup because they're fun and make my skin happy, but I don't think that any of the products we use should require animals to suffer.  The idea of little bunnies and mice having chemicals squirted into their eyes is nightmarish and makes me cry, and one of the most upsetting things about it is that it's not necessary.  There are so many household and cosmetic products that don't have any of their ingredients tested on animals,.  They have safe, natural ingredients that are better for bunnies, the planet, and for us.  I think that companies that haven't transitioned to being cruelty-free can learn a lot from their bunny-friendly peers, and by supporting companies that support animals, we can help show the world that we really do care about where products come from and about how they're made. We have the power to make beauty that hurts bunnies "uncool" and make cruelty-free the norm.
With that in mind, here are some fun, effective, cruelty-free beauty ideas for holiday gifts this year:

Anything by SheaMoisture
SheaMoisture is organic, cruelty-free, and promotes fair trade efforts that benefit and empower women in Africa, and the story behind the brand is very moving and powerful.  One of the great things about SheaMoisture's shampoos and conditioners is that a little goes a long way, so you don't have to continuously restock ,but you can feel good when you purchase from them because you know you're supporting a company that's environmentally- and socially-conscientious. (What's funny is that I don't have curly hair, but I love their Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo. I think it might actually make my hair bouncier, like it's trying to become curly even though it's really very straight.)

Zum Bar Soap
I have a thing for fancy soap bars.  I think it's because they look almost like yummy raw food bars or something. Anyway, Zum Bar Soap is soap made of goat's milk, and it comes in a range of very yummy natural scents.   And every bar is a unique piece of art that feels and smells amazing.  At $6.25 per bar, they're a little bit expensive, but for holiday gifts, the splurge could be worth it.  I mean, there's a Grapefruit Zum Bar, a Dragon's Blood Zum Bar, a Peppermint-Almond Zum Bar, and even a Charcoal Zum Bar.  The one thing would be to check the ingredients. Some of them have yummy ingredients like almond and citrus, and if anyone on your holiday list has allergies, it'd be best to avoid getting anything allergenic.

SO MUCH SOAP. I had no idea you could buy this in bulk. 

Happy Holidays!
<3 Frances