Self Care: 5 Tips to Let Nature Help with the Heavy Lifting

I spend a disproportionate amount of my life documenting and citing the link between nature and stress reduction. When I say nature, I mean the kind that you find outdoors. It could be in a healing garden designed specifically for reducing stress in the body, or an idyllic trail full of sunshine and fresh air.

Research has shown that you don’t even have to make it outdoors to experience stress relief from nature– in one study, viewing pictures of outdoor landscapes alone showed significant stress reduction in cardiac patients.

That said, I think far too many of us experience obstacles to accessing the healing effects of nature, from neighborhood inequities in green space to time off from the types of jobs that violate our personal boundaries, and I most especially want to talk about how difficult it can be to get in the habit of visiting the outdoors and reveling in nature’s gifts. Because findings ways to experience nature isn’t natural for everyone. It can take work and I want to share how I developed a relationship with the outdoors with others who may find it difficult.

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Review: SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

I talked A LOT about hyraluronic acid in 2016; it’s a skincare ingredient that really works with my skin type and my somewhat harsh topical routine. I first realized its benefits when using the Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream. Cerave AM and PM moisturizers, which also contain hyraluronic acid, were also great finds.

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Self Care: Finding Quiet, Thinking Clearer with Colored Noise


Do you use noise to sleep through the night undisturbed? I recently read an article about people utilizing noisy fans to keep themselves asleep. I have such a fan myself, one that produces an impressive hum that blocks out other sounds. It is especially good at masking erratic sounds, like rumbling cars and barking dogs. I also have a noise machine with sixteen different audio settings that range from white noise to nature soundscapes. Having lived in quiet houses deep in the country, as well as in urban lofts nestled between light rail stations, I don’t know what I would do without access to white noise.

And while the effects of white noise seem to be understudied, white noise certainly isn’t underutilized. Despite being a nearly lifelong user of white noise myself, I was recently shocked to learn about other colored noise– opening my eyes, and ears, to the realization that I also use brown, purple, blue and even grey noise to keep myself asleep or calm or simply to clear my mind.

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Brightening up, Looking to Spring 2017

Spring is not quite here– but it’s close! California is getting an amazing amount of gorgeous, wonderful rain this winter, which has brought plenty of gray skies with it. A clear, blue day has become something of an anomaly and I find myself gravitating to bright, spring-toned colors to cope.

My 2017 cobalt-blue Sugar Paper Planner is probably most indicative of my current color leanings. However, I’ve also picked up lipsticks from Burt’s Bees in Tulip Tide, Blush Basin and Lily Lake that are both easy to wear and nourishing on the lips.

My current favorite nail polish is Essie’s Angora Cardi and it’s worn well with minimal chipping for the last seven days. I’m almost certain that I’ll being using it again through the end of the month.

My last spring inspiration is Fragonard’s Pebble Soap. It’s so incredibly fragrant that the scent fills an entire room for days and days. It’s also moisturizing and creamy, and lifts my mood whenever I use it.

So, until spring arrives– I’ll find ways to make do. Hope your winter is going well and if you have any tips for brightening moods, be sure to leave a comment.


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Easy Granola Recipe with Cacao nibs, coconut oil, flaxseed and dried cherries

This is currently my favorite granola recipe!* I add it to smoothie bowls, milk or plain yogurt, or even just munch on it by itself for a snack.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp vanilla syrup (optional)
2 1/2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tbsp cinnamon (ceylon, if possible)
1 tsp salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 F. In one mixing bowl, combine oats, almonds and cacao nibs. In another mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla syrup, flaxseed meal and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry oats and nuts, and then toss until evenly coated.

On a cookie sheet, spread the granola evenly (I use parchment paper over the cookie sheet to keep the granola from sticking to the sheet but it isn’t necessary). Sprinkle cinnamon over the granola.

Place the granola into the oven for 1.25 hours, stirring every 15 minutes to make sure it toasts evenly, then remove. Once it cools, put it in an airtight storage container and then add the cherries and chocolate chips. After fitting the lid on the storage container, you can shake it to mix the cherries and chocolate chips into the granola. This mix should be good for up to two weeks depending on your climate.

*I use Alton Brown’s wet/dry ratio as well as baking time and temperature from his recipe on the Food Network website.

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