Interview | Laura’s Natural Life

Oh my gosh. Finals are over are I can breathe a little + resume to working on several things that fulfill my heart and passion. This semester was very rigorous and required a lot of studying, most of which was done online and watching videos for some courses. Through this (and perhaps slightly procrastination) I fell into the vortex of Youtube and while sifting through videos of pugs, planners, & seasonal-themes ones I found Laura’s Natural Life channel.

Laura creates daily video content on natural & non toxic beauty, health-based & nutrition advice and overall treat-yourself energy. She holds a Master’s of Science in Health & Nutrition Education, so she is educated and well versed as well as rigorously tries out any product she posts about, sharing only her honest thoughts.

While sifting through her various videos I came across an article she did on overcoming/living with Lyme Disease. From there I felt provoked to reach out to her for her story. I admire her cheerfulness, her radiant personality & thirst for wellness (in which she is educated in). Her videos are based on empowering, educating, & being honest with yourself. Through social media you don’t know someone’s own personal life, struggles & stories. For me, health & wellness had been a big issue until I began learning + listening to my body and making responsible choices, which is not to say wellness is about limiting or restricting – its about balance. & everyone is different.

I am so thankful to Laura for contributing her story & advice. I only wish I could have had this interview with her over peppermint hot cocoa & gingerbread cake.

Who are you + What do you do?

My name is Laura, but most people know me from Laura’s Natural Life. I am a YouTuber, but I just recently launched where I will also be creating written content. I have a Master’s Degree in Health & Nutrition Education and worked in the Holistic Healthcare Industry for three years gaining valuable experience. My mission is to educate women to listen to their bodies, wade through all the conflicting health information on the internet and feel confident to make the healthiest choices for themselves. I’m also a green beauty addict and love to share my new favorite products and looks with all of you!

How has Lyme affected your life & lead to creating your Youtube Channel, Laura’s Natural Life

Though I do have Lyme, I also suffer from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome – a lesser known condition often referred to as Mold Illness, so I have very poor detoxification pathways. When I was at my sickest, it was all I could do to go to work for about 5 hours, 4 days a week and then come home and rest for the remainder of the day. During this time, I began researching green beauty products and looking up reviews via YouTube. I had no idea that YouTube had more than cat videos at the time and instantly became enamored with this cross between blogging and actual reality TV. I just felt like it was something that I HAD to do. It took me another year or so to actually start my channel!

What are some of your lifestyle philosophies?

As I am extremely sensitive to chemicals and anything with fragrance, my house is a toxin free zone! I only buy the cleanest personal care products including laundry detergents, makeup, skincare, shower products, etc. I clean with vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and essential oils. I also highly value balance. Being chronically ill and having under functioning adrenals means that I get burnt out quite easily. I really make rest and relaxation a priority, as well as activities that I enjoy. Eating healthy is an absolute must. I believe that natural is always the best starting place.

 Optimal nutrition is a basic necessity that’s often overlooked. Off from that there’s homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, cranialsacral therapy, chiropractic care, naturopathic doctors, functional medicine practitioners and more. I certainly feel that Western Medicine has its place, but I prefer to be treated by a practitioner who believes that the whole body is connected and not just a specialist for one part. I believe that health is more than just physical. Health encompasses the emotions, the thoughts, and the spiritual well-being. When one element is out of whack, it always impacts the others.

Top 5 favorite foods & treats for beauty and wellness

Oh great question! In no particular order:

1. Parsley is a great, fresh herb to throw in smoothies. It makes everything taste fresh, makes your breath smell great and helps to support your liver, which aids in detoxification. When detoxification is aided, the skin typically clears.

2. Avocado. Essential Fatty Acids found in foods like avocado, nuts, seed oils and coconut oil are crucial for health. They are key in increasing immunity and ingesting them helps to improve the skin, as well.

3. Green Smoothies/Drinks because sometimes salads take a lot of chewing. They’re a super fast way to get a lot of nutrients and take no skill whatsoever to make.

4. Grapefruit, simply because I am obsessed with grapefruit. Lemons & Limes are a close second when enjoyed in water

5. Dark Chocolate because it releases endorphins and smile on a women is always beautiful

What can we expect in the future from Youtube?

I produce on average six videos each month – a new video every tuesday and two fridays each month. Each month you will find a monthly makeup tutorial, a roundup of my monthly favorites including beauty products, lifestyle products and books, and an episode of The Healthy Girl’s Guide. The other three videos are completely random and may include hauls, or green beauty reviews or my personal routines. The Healthy Girl’s Guide is a series in which I take a health topic and break down the basics for you – so far you can watch my videos on Detoxification and Immunity.

Are you an avid reader? What are your favorite books/recommendations?

Yes, I was definitely that nerdy girl in middle school reading in the corner. Ok, I am still that girl.

Health Books:
Tox-Sick by Suzanne Somers is a MUST read for everyone, in my opinion.
Mold Warriors by Dr. Richie Shoemaker. If you feel like you have a mystery illness, or if you know you have mold concerns- read this book. You will find so much clarity and support.
Detoxify or Die by Dr. Sherry Rogers – THE handbook for detoxification

As for Leisure, I am a shameless Young Adult lover. Some of my favorites include:

The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty (an absolutely hilarious coming of age series, with my personal favorite fictional boy)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Swoon)
Everything by Robin Benway – Audrey, Wait! Is my favorite. Hilarious.
If you prefer heart-wrenching tales, check out Jessi Kirby’s books, especially Golden.

Now that we are entering the colder, dryer and perhaps in some parts humid weather, what can you recommend to keep our immune system and outer beauty safe & nourished?

I swear by Vitamin D3! Since I started taking this vitamin religiously, it has increased my immunity so much. There are studies out of Canada which imply that optimizing Vit. D levels may decrease risk of cancer by nearly 70%! I have a video on this here. Since it is fat-soluble, it is important to have your blood check periodically to make sure you aren’t accumulating too much over time.

Also, decreasing sugar intake is crucial. Here’s a video on how to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season! How to Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season // The Healthy Girl’s Guide

For those who are not in-the-know of natural Youtube bloggers, who are some of your favorites to follow & watch?

Oh man, there are so many lovely ladies out there! If you are looking for green beauty girls, I never miss a video from The Green Bunny, Aesthetika, ErikaSummers22, Teri Miyahira, and Holistic Habits. For health related topics, I love the old HealthTalksTV (no longer made), my friend Aviva Peltin, and Dr. Axe!

What are/is a charity/ies you support?

I support CareNet Pregnancy Center & our local Hospice Care. My husband and I have both had loved ones who have spent their last days in hospice and we couldn’t have asked for more caring people to entrust our loved ones too.

What makes you happy + How do you unwind?

My dog, Tedford!!! I swear, even if I’m in the worst mood that guy makes me laugh. He has an enormous personality. Takes after his mom! I also use a Far Infrared Sauna religiously and take detox baths. I watch a lot of Netflix and Youtube. I try to meditate and get in yoga sessions when I can, but if I’m being honest, I could be better with these. I’m only human!

What are 5 things we can do to bring wellness into our lives?

1. Detox! I have two videos on Detox to help you out:

Take Control of Your Health Through Detox / The Healthy Girl’s Guide

My Favorite Detox Methods/ The Healthy Girl’s Guide

2. Decrease caffeine and sugar intake.

3. Get adequate sleep – try to go to bed by 10:30 every night!

4. Cultivate Positive Mental Talk

5. Figure out your best balance

Dream Vision Board: What would your ideal day consist of?

Wake up when my body wants to, not from an alarm around 8am. Have a delicious breakfast including fruit, eggs, bacon and tea magically appear. Spend at least an hour applying makeup and playing with new products. I’m going to assume that on my ideal day, there is beautiful weather and I could go paddleboarding, or soak up the sun near the water. Play with my Dog. Cuddle with my husband. Eat phenomenal food that makes me feel great. Just enjoy the little things 🙂

Words you live by?

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life message and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” Rick Warren

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Honestly, I don’t know. My life has turned out so differently than I thought it would when I was 18, that I don’t always like to plan for the future and rather be surprised by the great things that happen! I hope that I continue to become healthier and can help others feel healthier as well. I hope to still be cuddling my dog and my husband every night. I hope that I can make amazing videos with a higher production value and take fabulous vacations.

Interview: Plant Based Traveler

If you have not heard of Plant Based Traveler, let me be the first to introduce you to Dana & Lou’s beautifully curated travel show on vegan – yes plant based, cuisine. I admire people who pursue their passions even if it seems like a wildcard, out of the ordinary. In fact I think those are the best stories to watch + unfold. The chance to explore the world while seeking out delicious good food, communicating with makers, chefs, and people of all walks of life seems like a dream come true. Of course this is the theme of many travel shows – you interact and learn about a culture through their cuisine and stories. 

However Plant Based Traveler expands their niche by being kinder to the environment through our palates and discovering plant-based cuisine throughout the world (literally) Through their The City Speaks mini-doc series they explore a city through vegan food while developing more long length episodes (the first episode will be linked at the post of this post). Follow Plant Based Traveler on Vimeo, Instagram, and Facebook

Who are you & What do you do?
Hello, I’m Dana, co-founder of Plant Based Traveler, a new online vegan travel show. I currently live in Berlin, Germany with my boyfriend, Lou, and together we travel the world, capturing as many plant-based stories as we can. Currently I am also taking German classes, running the occasional pop-up restaurant and spending as much time outdoors as possible!
How did Plant Based Traveler come to fruition?
Lou and I had always been really passionate about food and travel and when we couldn’t be exploring a new city we really enjoyed watching shows like Anthony Bourdain and The Mind of a Chef. However, once we went vegan those shows started to lose their luster. The food they were showing was no longer appealing to us and we thought maybe there were other people out there who were looking to see a new perspective on travel. Lou happened to working a production company in NYC and I had recently decided to quit my job and so like that we decided to start our own company.
Tell us you vegan/plant based story – what motivated you?
I actually found veganism when looking for a cleanse to do after quitting my job in New York. I was exhausted in every sense of the word and wanted something to kickstart a new healthy lifestyle. I stumbled upon Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and started a 30 day cleanse that had me abstaining from alcohol, gluten and all animal products. By the end of the month, I had spent so much time researching veganism that there was no turning back. Once I learned about atrocities happening on factory farms and the destruction that animal agriculture is doing to the planet, it seemed hard for me to just treat this like another fad diet.
What message do you wish to convey with your show?
We hope that “Plant Based Traveler” inspires people to not only question the way that they currently travel, but also change how they engage with the world every day of the week. We want to share stories from all over the world, so that people can see how easy it is to be vegan and break down the stereotypes of what a typical vegan looks like.
Besides your show, what projects are you working? Do you celebrate the seasons (i.e. eating seasonally)?
I am always in the kitchen. I try to post new food pictures on our Instagram account every day, which definitely helps me stay motivated in trying new things. I try to eat as seasonally as possible though I am a sucker when it comes to tropical fruit, especially mangos!
Do you have a morning routine?
My morning routine is quite simple, before anything I like to drink at least half a liter of water. Then I usually either make a quick smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal, and then bike to German class.
What do you do on your time off?
When the weather is nice, one of my favorite things to do in Berlin is to enjoy the green spaces. There are so many different parks in this city and one of my favorites is Tempelhof – an airport turned communal space that is perfect for biking, picnicking or flying a kite!
You’ve traveled extensively, what are some of you favorite places (this can be food/fashion/in general)
One of my favorite cities will always be Barcelona as it is where I studied abroad while in college and where Lou and I met. It was the first city I lived in outside of the United States and where I really caught the travel bug. I think it’s a great city for other people to visit too, as the architecture of the city is incredible with the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and all of Guadi’s other works. And then the food is fantastic – just google The Boqueria and you’ll be in awe!
Top 5 Necessities (can be culinary, clothing, makeup, etc.) for travel and/or health
1.     Stay hydrated! I always have a lot of water with me, and water-rich foods like grapes, cucumber, or orange slices.
2.     Pack many layers: the worst thing is getting to a place and realizing the weather has taken a turn for the unexpected and you are left wishing you had an extra sweater or a tank top.
3.     Download podcasts: In Europe, buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around, but they can be long! Just last weekend I took a bus to Warsaw, which was 9 hours! To make sure I don’t get bored I usually bring a book and load my phone with podcasts. I love The Moth Podcast, This American Life, and Invisibilia.
4.     Get a map: I find a paper map is the best tool in getting situated in a new city. 
5.     Power Converters/Chargers: All of my work is on the computer or on my phone, so I always double check that I have all the needed cords and cables that will keep me charged up!
What is one organization/foundation you support or is close to your heart?
As I have only been vegan for a year and after watching Cowspiracy the major environmental organizations are now out the window, so I find myself still in search of the foundation that aligns with all of my beliefs. Until I find the perfect one, all my support goes to the animal sanctuaries around the world. Their work is never ending and I really admire their dedication to giving dignity back to those who have lived their whole life imprisoned.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t really have a 5-year-plan at the moment, so hopefully I will be happy and healthy and doing work that keeps me inspired!
What are your ideal places to travel or, where would you like to travel?
There are so many places on my travel list right now! Since I’m living in Berlin, exploring Europe is top of the list – I would love to go to Vienna, Budapest, Lisbon, but then when it comes to exploring the world seeing more of South America is really important to me. Lou and I spent 3 months in Peru in 2014 filming the first episode of Plant Based Traveler and I would love to get to explore other parts of the continent.
Dream Vision Board: what would your ideal day consist of?
My ideal day would consist of time with friends and family with lots of sunshine, preferably on a beach somewhere. Oh and lots, and lots of fresh fruit!
One piece of advice:
Never stop looking for the life that will make you the happiest.

Watch the first episode which is in Cusco, Peru (Lima is also on the way, which is also where my mother hails from) and the City Speaks New York trailer that capturing how diverse but uniquely beautiful New York is. All episodes here

Interview – Claire Ragozzino // Vidya Cleanse

Claire is such a beautiful soul. I came across her blog several months ago reading it to the very end – falling in love with her prose, plant based recipes and self. She is the typeof being I wish I could spend a day (or week) with in my life, full of vitality, earth and movement. Claire’s journey to creating her Vidya cleanse + courses stemmed from healing her own health which is something I admire, and she’s done a pretty amazing job. I am so thankful she took the time to answer some questions. For more on Claire check out her blog | instagram | pinterest

Interivew – Claire Ragozzino // Vidya Cleanse
Who are you + what do you do
My name is Claire Ragozzino, I’m a holistic nutrition educator and yoga instructor.

How did you get involved with holistic/organic living?
In my early teens, I suffered from chronic digestive problems.  I wasn’t raised with the healthy eating lifestyle I’ve adopted now, in fact, hamburger helper and fast food was a pretty standard part of my childhood diet.  But by 15, I was tired of feeling terrible all the time, and somehow the universe delivered to me my very first raw food book. Completely intrigued, I spent an entire summer experimenting with raw cuisine and reading every alternative medicine book I could get my hands on. Then an older friend just back from India and Bali introduced me to cleansing. I got a juicer for my 16th birthday, and from there I guess you can say the rest is history! Over the years of learning, I built my lifestyle around this passion for sharing what I love and what has brought me healing along my journey. 
Tell us a bit about the e-courses you offer
I believe our health is not static, and that our bodies are closely connected to the natural cycles of the earth. With this in mind, I wanted to create an online program that used holistic cleansing as an intentional tool for reconnecting people with their personal health needs.  Cleansing with intention is a powerful medicine, and when you can do a purposeful, seasonal cleanse you can cultivate a deeper connection with your intuitive health knowledge.  Vidya actually means clarity, knowledge and inner wisdom. So the Vidya Seasonal Detox eCourse is a platform for knowledge sharing, providing you tools to inspire sustainable change in your diet and lifestyle, and find your own inner wisdom.  I guide you through the journey with step-by-step cleanse plans, seasonal recipes, shopping lists, meal planners, meditation and journaling exercises and intention crafting worksheets – so get you clear on where you’re at each season and how to find your health truth. The next global cleanse kicks off June 21st with the summer solstice!

What projects are you working on? + How will you celebrate Spring season?
I just launched the first video in my quarterly “Vidya Seasonal Kitchen” series. I’m working with my favorite local video production team, Choate House, to create short instructional cooking films based on recipes that inspire connection with the seasons and our health. Eating seasonally is a way to naturally cleanse your body and connect in with the fluid cycles of the earth and our evolving health needs. My intention is to show that seasonal cleansing can be simple, nourishing and satisfying to the mind, body and spirit. Keeping in line with the seasons, our next Kitchen Series video will be released summer solstice week.
But without getting too ahead of myself, I’m savoring the arrival of Spring by spending more time outdoors hiking and rock climbing, and enjoying all the amazing fresh salads and juices I’ve been missing over winter.  I’m also gearing up to do my own seasonal cleanse, and really looking forward to this time of reflection and renewal.
Do you have a morning routine?
I like to wake up slowly, spending my time in bed visualizing my day and reflecting on what I’m feeling with a short journaling practice before I get up.  Then, I get to my Ayurvedic morning rituals of self-care, Dinacharya, starting with oil pulling, tongue scraping and dry skin brushing before I shower.  After I’m clean and covered in a copious amount of coconut oil, I’ll head to the kitchen and make an alkalizing drink of warm water with lime and aloe vera juice.  I’ll usually sip this while I check emails (guilty!), then make some herbal tea and get over to my mat. I have a small yoga room in my home where I do my personal practice, which can vary daily from just 15 minutes of yoga therapy and pranayama (breath work), to a juicy 2-hour asana sessions with friends.  Since my schedule frequently fluctuates, keeping an open mind and fluidity to my morning yoga practice is important to me.
How do you spend your free time?
Rock climbing! I am completely hooked on climbing and take any free time I have to disconnect from technology and get outdoors.  Climbing is a total meditation, so when I’m not practicing yoga on the mat, I’m doing so on the wall. It’s so special because you get to experience this beautiful one-pointed concentration as you move with intention and balance.

Your blog is a compliation of delicious plant-based recipes and health tips because you are a nutritional health educator, how do you help your clients online/in person and heal others this way? 
I work with clients in three ways: one-on-one with private wellness consultations and food coaching sessions both in-person and online, in large group guided cleanses through my seasonal ecourses, and through workshops and retreats (I’ll be leading a fabulous retreat in Costa Rica in June, all beautiful souls should join me for a week of spirited detox in the jungle!). My teachings meld together my background in yoga, raw food nutrition and Ayurvedic principles. But my true goal is to empower people to think, feel and act intuitively when it comes to their health.
You are absolutely stunning and have a visually beautiful life, what are some beauty tips + favorite places to shop?
Thank you! I try to keep my beauty routine as natural as I can. Sticking to the mantra “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!”, I use mostly edible organic skincare products that I make or buy. In the warmer months, cooling coconut oil is my go-to lotion pre- and post-shower. In the cooler months, warming sesame oil nourishes and grounds me. I use magnesium oil for my hair, and let it air dry…but I think that part is mostly out of laziness to blow dry it! Epsom salt baths with essential oils are a pretty regular part of my weekly rituals. But above all of these habits, I’ve committed to practicing these rituals with self-love and appreciation for my body.

Favorite books/online reading material
My reading material consists of a mixture of yoga/Ayurveda/herbalism texts, cookbooks, food blogs, and quarterly journals, like Lucky Peach or Kinfolk. These are some of the books + blogs I’ve been loving lately:
·      “Woman’s Power to Heal” by Maya Tiwari
·      “Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy” by Mukunda Stiles
·      “Planetary Herbology” by Michael Tierra
·      “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison
·      Food + Lifestyle Blogs – The First Mess, Green Kitchen Stories, My New Roots, Earth Sprout, Free + Native, Justina Blakeny…are a few of my favs.
Top 5 Necessities (can be culinary,clothing, makeup, etc) for health
1. Banyan Botanicals Triphala Tablets (digestion is everything right?!)
2. Kuumba Made Sage Coconut Oil (on-the-go natural skincare)
3. Lulu’s Raw Chocolate Love Truffles (one of my favorite raw chocolate companies)
4. Rifle Paper Co. Journals (daily journaling is so essential in my life)
5. Heritage Store Rosewater Spray (for energy clearing + grounding)
For those who want live cleaner what are some tips?
Start by shopping one day a week at your local farmer’s market. Take your fresh new ingredients and research a few ways you can prepare them.  Making even just one home-cooked meal with a few fresh, local ingredients can make a big difference in your diet habits by establishing a meaningful connection with your food source and engaging in the process of preparing your nourishment with loving intention. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Barefoot on the beach with a babe on my hip, a few books under my belt, and surrounded by friends who inspire a healthier, happier world.
Who + What inspires you?
I’m so inspired by entrepreneurial women who live their dream proud and loud, and share it with others to inspire passion and positive change in others lives. I’m also really intrigued by people who live off the grid, who don’t live by social norms and spend their lives closely connected with their surroundings – both nature and the people in their lives.  It’s an interesting balance isn’t it? Finding a way to live authentically and share your truth is a true test I believe!
You live where + recommend these places for travel
I fancy myself a bit of a gypsy, but somehow I ended up in the Midwest – great old Oklahoma City! This place has some interesting creative energy and I’m grateful for my little home here now, but I need to travel frequently to stay alive and inspired. Here’s where I would pack a bag and hop a flight to any day:
·      Tulum, Mexico
·      Joshua Tree, California
·      Burlington, Vermont  
·      Mysore, India
·      Essaouira, Morocco

Dream Vision Board : what would your ideal day consist of?
In my perfect dream world, time would be infinite and unimportant.  Life would be centered around long meals with friends, soul-connecting conversations, and uncharted adventures.  My home in the jungle near the ocean (think Tulum), would play home to my gypsy traveling friends – their board paid in time spent caring for the garden.  Whatever we couldn’t grow ourselves, I could find by taking a trip to the farmer’s market and filling up my bike basket with fresh, local harvest. There would always be music, laughter and late-night conversation by the fire. We could sleep in hammocks under the stars, and awake to the sunrise by the ocean.  Barefoot, sun-kissed, and open-hearted, we’d greet each day.
One piece of advice

Above all else, practice self-love and compassion…the rest will follow!

Interview | Emily von Euw

Emily has a well known blog This Rawsome Vegan Life, which properly sums up the content. Beautiful, vibrant photography and her wonderful writing invites you in as if you already know her, as if she’s your next door neighbor ecstatic to share her kitchen alchemy with you. I adore people that have this quality to them, call it effervescent or contagious but it never fails to put a smile on my face. 

I don’t write much about my food allergies, but it has really become a constant in my life that prevents me from going out to eat without fear of contamination or getting ill. So I am very grateful for bloggers like Emily who provide us with ridiculously delicious recipes that are healthy, organic, and allergen friendly and plant based. I believe nature is the greatest tool for any artist and Emily’s creations are visual proof of this. She recently came out with a book that I can’t wait to get, as I am working on building up a recipe book collection 

While I completely believe that everyone should consume what heals + works for them, I firmly attest to that fact that everyone should definitely incorporate as much organic, plant based foods whenever possible. Please check out This Rawsome Vegan Life 

Who are you + what do you do
My parents gave me the name Emily von Euw. I have been on this planet for 20 years, inhabiting the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada – it’s a beautiful, vibrant place (though it doesn’t get as much sun as I would like). I am a participant in the universe, child of the stars, sister of the moths and mother of the trees. I am a brother to the wolves and father to the berries. I am organic and happy and sad and confused and nostalgic and present and curious and floating and cemented and bursting with ancient new life. Who knows where I came from.

I do a bit of everything: writing, reading, yoga, meditation, music, painting, dreaming, crying, laughing, university (history, philosophy, humanities, archaeology, geography, geology, psychology, etc.), kissing, running, sitting still… but I am most well-known for creating a blog called This Rawsome Vegan Life, wherein I make, photograph and share my own raw vegan recipes with the wonderful world and all the kind people in it. I have also just had my first book published called Rawsome Vegan Baking which focuses on raw vegan gluten-free desserts. People seem to like what I have to share, so I am eternally grateful that this will probably be able to be my “job”, although truly it’s simply my passion.

How did you get involved with holistic/organic living?
It is the logical place to end up, and I try my best to be a rational creature whenever I can. It’s the intelligent choice to lead a lifestyle that is cruelty-free, sustainable and healthy. I mean, we all like peace, right? We all want the planet to be in good condition for our children, yes? We all want to feel and look our best, correct? I’d answer affirmatively to all those questions and so that is why I follow a whole foods, organic, plant-based, mostly raw diet.  

Tell us a bit about the book you just released! Will there be a follow up?
Oh, yay! I am still so excited to talk about it. I was blessed enough that my publisher – a subsidiary of Macmillan – found me through my “popular” (hah) blog and asked me if I wanted to write a book with them. Of course I said yes! Whatta dream come true. Although a book was on my mind, it was a far-off goal and not necessarily a realistic one (in my mind). I wrote the book in four months, thankfully right when I was on summer break from university. There were then several months of post-writing work to be done, and it was finally published around the world a few weeks ago! It has already sold out of the first printing, and I cannot tell you how joyful this makes me. Not only because it means people are appreciating my work, but more so because it means people are grabbing on with a passion to vegan living! I am an optimist about the future and firmly believe the world is becoming more and more conscious as a species as time progresses.

I am writing my second book right now, and it is all about juices, smoothies and healthy snacks. I am very excited to share this one with the world because although if you look at my blog you will assume I eat only raw cookies and cake, the majority of my diet is juice and smoothies; so it shows more of the bulk of my daily food regime. Smoothies can save the planet.

What projects are you currently working on? + How will you celebrate Spring season?
I am working on new recipes (always), promoting my first book, writing my second book, attending school (final exams are coming up!), and trying to maintain a social life and a fresh, blooming romantic relationship. I am going to celebrate Spring by sharing some special recipes on my blog, soaking up as much sun and outdoor adventures as possible, eating banana ice cream, laughing with friends, and travelling around the continent.

Do you have a morning routine?
I am a Virgo, so I am ALL about routine and list-making. My morning routine is: wake up, think about the day and take a few deep breaths, drink filtered water, splash face and brush teeth, stretch, exercise, yoga, make a smoothie or juice and then wait until I am hungry again to gorge on organic fruits. I will then go to school, the farmers market or busy myself around the house depending on the day.

How do you spend your free time?
As touched on above, I do a great many things that give me joy. I love listening to records, cuddling other animals (human and otherwise), dancing late into the night (or anytime, really), crying about the elegance of the universe, hugging trees, reading (currently getting through Kurt Vonnegut), writing down poetry and thoughts, creating art (usually as gifts for loved ones), making and eating ALL the food… mostly organic fruit, raw chocolate and kale, asking questions about the meanings of life/ death., walking around the surface of the earth and being conscious of my role in it… The list never ends.  

Your blog is a compilation of delicious plant-based recipes and health tips, what are some tips you can share for people to implement more fresh healthy meals in their life?
Get rid of all the junk food in your home. Replace it with healthful whole foods that don’t bring about any guilt, only happiness. Stock your fridge with fresh vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, homemade hummus and nut milk, coconut water, almond yogurt, nuts and seeds. Stock your cabinets with organic tea, dried fruit, cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut nectar, oats, beans, quinoa and whole grains. Experiment with raw vegan entrees, desserts, sauces and soups and buy some whole food cookbooks to try out in the kitchen. Visit your local farmers market and talk to the farmers there, asking questions. Hit up your local health food store and do the same. Buy local and organic when you can afford it. Buy an inexpensive blender and have a fruit smoothie every morning (blend a banana with some frozen berries, and orange and some almond milk). For an easy and delicious meal: steam some vegetables and serve with a cashew “cheese” sauce or spicy peanut sauce, and brown rice noodles… with a raw vegan dessert to finish. Wink wink. (Just google any of those things to find recipes.)

What are some beauty tips + favorite places to shop?
Here is my “beauty” regime (although my opinion is that my whole lifestyle is a beauty regime, you are what you eat! I also exercise regularly): I wash my face every morning with a mix of jojoba, avocado and castor oils. Google “oil cleansing method” for more info on this. This also acts as my moisturizer. I sometimes use baking soda as a facial scrub. I splash my face with rosewater often. I moisturize my body with coconut oil and sometimes shea or cacao butter, scented with lavender and vanilla. I clean my teeth with baking soda on a bamboo toothbrush and use sesame oil as a mouth wash. Google “oil pulling” for more on this. I clean my hair with baking soda (“shampoo”) and apple cider vinegar (“conditioner”). I don’t usually wear make-up but when I do, it is from Earth Lab, Arbonne, or Urban Decay. My fave body products are from Just the Goods and Ellovi. I love to shop at The Soap Dispensary here in Vancouver.

Favorite books/online reading material
The classic: Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Vonnegut, William Faulkner, J.D. Salinger, William Golding, Ayn Rand, Henry David Thoreau, Hermann Hesse, Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Gabriel Garcia Marquez… I love it all. When I am not in the mood to read deep, thought-provoking literature, I enjoy philosophy, non-fiction about nutrition, the nature of the universe and history.

Top 5 Necessities (can be culinary, clothing, makeup, etc.) for health
Coconut oil. 
My record player and collection. 
My current beau. 
My cat, Dante. – and sunshine! That was 6 or 7 but shhh.

For those who want live cleaner what are some tips?
Understand that you deserve it. Also look at my answer to the similar question above.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Living in Costa Rica or somewhere else sunny, in my tiny house on wheels with a pet pig and a human I love; along with an organic garden… and wi-fi so I can keep doing the blog. I cherish the simple life.

You live where + recommend these places for travel
I reside near Vancouver, BC, Canada and highly recommend you come hang out with me. I’ll give you hugs and raw vegan brownies. But also I LOVE Vancouver Island, especially Tofino and the gulf islands around Van Island. The majestic West Coast landscape holds a big piece of my heart in its dark, misty clutches. Most of Canada is pretty damn beautiful, and the lesser populated areas of the US are gorgeous as well. I haven’t been anywhere else, really. Although, I would love to travel much farther north, maybe to Alaska; and also much farther south… like Costa Rica.

Dream Vision Board: what would your ideal day consist of?
Sunny, warm weather. Hiking up a small mountain with my lover and animal companions to enjoy a fruit picnic on top. Hiking back down, having a bath together. Going to a farmers market, an art gallery or used book store. Reading poems and listening to records. Making love and dinner. Watching a documentary about ancient civilizations or a Kubrick movie. Going dancing. Rubbing myself down with coconut oil and meditating before slipping into a freshly made bed. Drifting off to sleep to enter my subconscious world. I think I’ll do all that this weekend.

One piece of advice
Do what works for you, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

Interview | Alyssa of Random Acts of Pastel

The beauty of technology is that you can come across genuinely wonderful people who inspire you regardless of how for away you might live. Through catbird I stumbled upon Aly’s sweet blog Random Acts of Pastel and reached out to her for an interview. What made her stand out to me were her dreamy California/Weetzie Bat personality, a desire to promote local & vegan/gluten free eateries as well as her seeing the world though rose-colored glasses outlook + style. Akin to a spoonful of sugar, everyone should have a pal like Alyssa in their lives. Enjoy!

+who are you/what do you do?
Hi! I’m Alyssa, also known as Random Acts of Pastel. I’m a writer, a blogger, a dog mom, a housewife at heart, and a (mostly) vegan. In the past I’ve written for WORN Fashion Journal, and I currently write for XO Vain and XO Jane, as well as of course!

+who/what inspires you
All the pastel princesses out there! Lana Del Rey in her National Anthem video as Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Katy Perry (circa Teenage Dream), Kirstin Dunst in Marie Antoinette… there are so many! I’m also really inspired by bigger picture things too, like peonies, ponies, Oscar Wilde poetry and the Rococo Movement. Above all though, I’d have to say mermaids, unicorns, and fairytales. 

+explain/introduce us a bit into your pastel lifestyle 
I suppose I live in a bit of a daydream? I’ve never really liked reality all that much, so as I grew up I sort of shaped my life into a special magical world that made me happy instead. In my world, pink is considered a neutral, and glitter is an everyday occurrence. Flowers bloom year-round, animals are friends, not food, love conquers all, and sugar is an important part of every balanced meal. I think people are either really drawn in to this sparkly, confetti filled lifestyle, or totally confused by it!

+what projects are you currently working on?
Well, I just started my own little Society6 shop which I’m super excited about! Making housewares is super fun, and Society 6 makes it really easy for artists and creative folks to make their throw pillow dreams a reality! Other than that, I’m shooting a sneak peak post for a new Toronto Pop up called Toujours x Fidele tomorrow, and I designed a special pink lemonade cocktail for their opening night too. I really love this project specifically because it supports local designers, brings together a unique community of makers, and the business plan is super eco friendly (minimal waste, using re-purposed materials or dead stock, etc.) 

+do you have a morning ritual?
Tea! I am a total tea addict, and my day cannot start unless I have a hot cup in front of me. I really love the way tea both energizes and relaxes me at the same time; it’s truly a miracle beverage. 

Oh, and when the weather warms up I plan on going for daily morning runs with my dog Honey, but for now it’s far too snowy!

+what do you do in your free time?
That depends on the season! This winter has been particularly brutal here in Toronto, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with tea, a good book (currently reading “The Diary of a Nose”), and my very sleepy and cuddly dog. Once it gets warmer though, I plan on spending most of my free time cycling around the city in search of tasty vegan treats, having picnics in the park with my partner, and working on my garden!

+ favorite blogs/shops online 
I love Fieldguided for her brilliantly curated life and local insights, Wish wish wish for her glamorous outfits and wonderful beauty tutorials, and Bicyclette for their fairytale-inspired online shop and lovely lookbooks. I’m also always excited to see what Vivetta and Sretsis are up to! 

+ 5 things that heal you
The ocean
A hot cup of Lavender tea
Mid-day cuddle breaks
Hot Yoga classes
Any music by The Head and The Heart
+top five beauty products/or brands
Everything from Too Faced
Deborah Lippman Glitter nail polishes 
MCMC fragrances (Kept is my current favourite)
Davines hair products
Ilia’s entire line, especially “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” illuminator. It gives your skin such a subtle shimmery sparkle!

+you live where / and recommend these places 
I currently live in Toronto, but I’m a west coast girl originally. If you’re in Toronto, make sure to check out Kitten and the Bear for tea and treats, La Cubana for Brunch, and Bicyclette for clothing! There are so many charming little spots in this city, you just have to know where to find them or it can be a bit overwhelming. 

+dream vision board what would your ideal day exist of?
Not too far off from my daily life now! I always wanted to be a writer, so getting up everyday and sitting at my cute desk to dream up new stories is pretty much perfect in my books! I suppose if I had to make changes, I’d have a small animal sanctuary, go horse riding every morning, live near the ocean, and grow all my own food in a massive garden. I think all of this will totally be possible when I’m ready to make a big move to the country, but for now, I’m happy with busy city life!

+one piece of advice
Never stop believing in magic

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