Organic Travel Size Toiletries

Did I mention that I’m heading to Europe next week for vacation? Ok, so I probably have mentioned it once or twice. Like when I told you about carry-on only travel, or my meticulous planning of post vacation meals, or like when I’m just so giddy I can’t contain myself.  Yeah well, to be clear, I’m not just bragging, I actually hope that I’m giving you some useful information that you can apply in your own day to day, even if you don’t travel. I always use trips to take the opportunity to test out new skin care products.

There’s something just so darn cute and non-committal about those little travel size packages. Besides, my skin always goes crazy when I’m traveling anyway, so I like to experiment with different products just to see how my travel weary skin will react. If a skin care line can make my travel skin look and feel great, then imagine what it will do on the reg. I’ve probably tested out hundreds of beauty lines using the travel size/ sample size method. You can totally get a feel for the product without having to purchase the larger, more expensive version. Here are a few of my favorites, and by favorites, I mean the ones that I actually bought the full version of after trying them out!

Pai Skin Care

Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser melts away make-up and impurities while nourishing skin with Omega 3 and Vitamins A, B & E. Together, the anti-inflammatory rich BioAffinity Tonic and Calming Day Cream instantly soothe reactive skin and provide the perfect level of hydration to keep skin comfortable and hydrated all day long. This kit even comes with an organic muslin cloth!

Laurel Whole Plant Organics

This travel set comes in a USA-made canvas zip bag that’s perfect for travel or gifting. For oily, problem, or combination skin. The set includes a facial cleanser, facial elixir, balancing serum, almond grain exfoliant, and citrus spice lip treatment.

Odacite

Odacite designed a kit specially for oily skin including 6 products enough for 10 days. All products are freshly made with certified organic ingredients. It includes a cleanser and 2 facial sponges, one mint toner, one day moisturizer, one night serum, one exfoliant, and one eye cream. This travel kit also comes in Mature/Dry skin and Combination skin versions.

Make-Ahead Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Before I jump right into the recipe, I have to tell you that these next several weeks are going to be pretty busy for me. If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know that I’m heading over to Rome and London next week. Yay! I’ve been writing lists and getting organized for the trip. I am seriously neurotic when it comes to packing luggage, and I am a total carry-on-only warrior. I’ve got my travel journal ready and all my TSA approved snacks and travel size organic toiletries. Anyway, since I’ve been planning everything right down to the smallest of details, I realized I’d forgotten one of the most important things to consider. After returning home from a long trip, the last thing you want to think about is grocery shopping and cooking. I needed to come up with a meal that I can take straight from the freezer and pop in the oven as soon as I set down my bags.

Because farmer’s markets and summer CSAs are in full swing, and because I have more summer squash than I know what to do with, I decided to make a Summer vegetable lasagna. Lasagna is one of my favorite meals, y’all, and this recipe is nothing short of amazing. The Béchamel sauce really makes every bite a cosmic experience. The best part is that you can make this ahead of time and then freeze portions for a quick, healthy, and oh so tasty meal when you return home from your own vacay. You must try this!!!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

For the vegetable filling:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
  • 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
  • 3 cups (24 oz./750 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 lb. (12 oz./375 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make the filling, in a 5-quart (5-l) Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bell peppers, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Clean the pot.

3. To make the béchamel sauce, in the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the sauce to a bowl. Spread the remaining sauce evenly on the bottom of the pot. In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

4. Cover the sauce in the pot with a single layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them if needed to fit. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture evenly on top, then one-third of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella. Repeat the layering 2 more times, starting with the noodles. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

***To freeze, cut it into individual portions. Wrap the portions in aluminum foil and when you’re ready to reheat, just pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375°F.

Source: Williams Sonoma

DIY Aloe Vera Face Masks for Summer

These DIY aloe vera face masks will revitalize your skin just in time for Summer!

I’m kind of a nerd… not the Star Trek/ Star Wars/ Lord of the Rings variety of nerd… more like the sacred geometry, Fibonacci sequence, Aristotelian kind of nerd. My particular brand of nerd will tell you how beautiful the Aloe Vera plant is, but will take that fact and turn it into a nerdy conversation about the Golden Ratio in nature and cosmic spirals. I won’t take you on that journey in this post, but I do want to share these aloe vera beauty recipes with you. Just remember, you heard it here first, the universe unfolds in a pattern that spirals toward these face masks. It’s science, you guys. Science.

b a n a n a + A l m o n d O i l + A l o e V e r a

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp aloe vera gel
  • 3 tsp almond oil
  • 1 small banana

directions

  • in a small bowl mash your banana
  • add aloe vera gel and stir until well combined
  • mix in almond oil
  • apply this mixture to your face in a thick layer and allow it to dry (about 15-20 minutes)
  • rinse with warm water

c u c u m b e r + r o s e w a t e r + a l o e v e r a

ingredients

  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 2 tbsp aloe vera gel

directions

  • in a blender, puree the cucumber
  • transfer pureed cucumber to a small bowl
  • add rose water and aloe vera
  • mix well
  • using a small circular motion, apply the mixture to your skin
Image: Kumaravel

s h e a b u t t e r + o l i v e o i l + a l o e v e r a

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp aloe vera gel
  • 2 tbsp shea butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

directions

  • in a small bowl, combine your aloe vera gel with olive oil
  • spoon in softened shea butter and mix until well blended
  • apply a generous layer of the mixture to your face
  • allow the mask to set for about 15 minutes
  • rinse your face with warm water
  • you may need to use a soft wash cloth to gently remove any excess mask

Design Inspiration: Southwest Modern

Southwest modern is the next swoon-worthy design style to inspire your next home makeover!

Think of it as the happy marriage of Scandi style and Bohemian style… plus a cactus… because, well, in this life, everybody needs a cactus. Scandinavian minimalism and Boho maximalism have been competing for our affection for some time now. While Scandinavian style favors simplicity and function, Bohemian style lends itself to a more eclectic, curated design approach. Southwest modern merges the two design styles in a way that makes everyone happy. Cozy, just like we saw in this Hygge centered Scandi design, without being too busy. Rustic, just like we saw in the relaxed Boho home of Julianne Hough, without being too shabby. Curated without looking too staged. Gender neutral. Oh, and did I mention the cactus?

The best part about Southwest modern is that you don’t have to overhaul your entire home to achieve the look. Playing with texture, Northwood Supply Co. (your new favorite Etsy shop), shows us how simple touches like wall art, a cool rug, and some throw pillows can transform your space. Kacy, the artist behind Northwood Supply Co. has an Instagram feed that you should totally be following. Don’t believe me? Check out these beautiful photos that are sure to spark your new design obsession!

Natural Tonic for Improved Mental Health

This brain-boosting tonic with adaptogenic herbs will aid in improving your overall mental health by balancing your neurotransmitters to keep you happy, stress-free, focused, and energized.

Mental Health Natural Tonic Ingredient Breakdown

Lemon

Citrus fruits are high in vitamins, and a healthy dose of vitamin C can fight infection, reduce kidney stones, relieve indigestion, decrease headache pain, and help detoxify the body.

Cucumber

Cucumbers help maintain water balance in the body.

Fresh Turmeric Root

Turmeric is known to improve mood and feelings of depression.

Fresh Ginger Root

Ginger fights inflammation and is great for healing and protecting the gut.

Beets

Beets support heart health and liver function by helping our bodies maintain healthy blood sugar levels. While the antioxidant power of beets improves nerve function.

Pears

Pears are a low-sugar fruit. They are excellent for anxiety as they soothe the nervous system with vitamin C, which triggers the production of norepinephrine and serotonin, the happy neurotransmitters. They are also a great source of potassium, an essential electrolyte for the proper function of nerves, muscles, joints, and the heart.

Adaptogens

During cold and flu season, the addition of adaptogens like goldenseal and elderberry extract have both been shown to support a health immune system and are available as herbal tinctures (liqud form) that you can easily add to your tonic just before drinking it. To help alleviate stress, add ashwagandha and astralagus, which are both adaptogens known for their calming effects on our bodies.

Mental Health Natural Tonic

Ingredients

  • One whole lemon with peel cut off
  • One whole cucumber with peel
  • One 2-inch root of ginger (if you’re not a fan of ginger, cut this amount in half)
  • Two 3- to 4-inch roots of turmeric
  • One whole pear
  • One yellow or red beet

adaptogens such as

  • extract of ashwagandha
  • extract of astragalus
  • extract of goldenseal
  • extract of elderberry

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a juicer, and add extracts of ashwaghandha and astragalus (for further adaptogenic support) or goldenseal and elderberry during flu season.
  2. Serve immediately.