Pretty Picks: Drugstore (Natural) Beauty

Pretty Picks: Glow Natural
 There are some topics that just simply don’t get old, and somehow drugstore beauty products make that cut. I’m kind of obsessed at looking at simple priced beauty products that never let a girl down.  So, yesterday I decided to pull together some of my own favorite natural drugstore-priced products. I’ve been seeing a lot of them popping up by fellow bloggers out there, but mostly there are no natural products that get mentioned.  Maybe they’re just looked over?  I always try to get the word out about how easy it is to switch to really good, natural, skincare. Especially when you’re on a budget, it’s still a really easy switch! These are the products that I absolutely adore and always find myself purchasing as complete ‘must-haves’ time and time again, so I hope you enjoy! (p.s…the Kiss My Face peaches and cream moisturizer is an all-over moisturizer (body & face) and it works absolute miracles- I’m a cult follower of this product– no lie.)

I’d like to know, what are some of your favorite drugstore-priced natural products that you’ve come across? I’d love to hear what you guys have found as your ‘must-haves’! xo.

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Spreading The Love: Advice On Finding A Meaningful Career

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{The following is an interview I did with the help of the lovely team over at Vitamin Angels via 20Something that I wanted to share with you guys xo- please feel free to find my writing over there and share in 20Something’s journey!}

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about what a ‘career’ truly means.  We’re prompted pretty much from the time we can take our first steps to then begin our search for ‘what we want to be.’  I suppose I have probably sounded off close to twenty-three absurdly different paths of what I want to make of my life since I was seven years old.  And then, when you finally get to your 20s- some, big, overwhelming truth hits you for the first time.  It’s like that one day everything becomes somewhat silent and a little…dim.  I think it’s the Universe who decides at some random given moment, “Hey, today I’m going to let that kid know the truth about what it means to truly have that career they’ve been going on about”, a somewhat evil laughter brimming, “And they’ll never be the same.”

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You know what I’m talking about, the sudden day you realize that amazing ‘career path’ you have chosen– has simply become a rut, with no real destination- or journey for that matter.  So, what’s next?  I think for a while we run from it, getting odd jobs here and there, maybe even recklessly touring the country in a mini van and surviving off of food trucks planted about.  After the initial shock that hits, many of us realize the only way to truly get ahead is realizing it’s okay to say everything isn’t absolutely perfect.  Perfection isn’t what life is about.  You then begin looking for answers, and advice, and both eventually finds us along our way.  I suppose that’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to get in touch with Vitamin Angels.  I wanted an answer.  An answer that could apparently only come from an amazing Non-Governmental Organization, that helps women and children around the world, and the very definition of being ameaningful career. Our generation is looking ahead to a lot of pressing issues- which got me to thinking- isn’t our real job to begin helping out through our careers?

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Recent Vitamin Angels trip to Haiti, 1 in 4 Haitian children under 5 are Vitamin A deficient 

 That’s when I was put in touch with Megan MacKay (i.e. the defining women of what is stated above), the Event Manager of the NGO, Vitamin Angels.  In a nutshell Megan is a beautiful, strong-willed, 30something, women, rockin’ out a seriously wonderful career- and having a great time balancing it all with her husband, five horses, two dogs, and her beloved cat.  I was told she was one of the most inspirational people found within their offices, and was hopelessly in love with her job.  All I could think was, can this please be me one day?  It was pretty evident when I began speaking with her that her co-workers were, indeed, very right.  She adored her job and knew she had found a career that held meaning- and a purpose.  When I first contacted her, she asked if she could get in touch with me after her (life-changing) trip to Malawi.  Do I even need to add you could also tell she had fulfilled the, ‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up Award’– by far.  And who can blame her?  Vitamin Angels is one of the biggest NGOs helping the child mortality rate go down worldwide through providing simple vitamins and nutrients that saves lives- everyday.  I asked her a few questions about our generation according to her, what she thinks our generation is doing better, how she found her dream job, and what it’s like knowing you’re helping create a brighter future through your career:

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Megan MacKay on her recent trip to Malawi with Vitamin Angels

Q:  What do you honestly think of the future of Generation Y? Joel Stein of Time magazine just did a pretty nasty article on us this year, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation”, where we were called things like ‘lazy’, ‘narcissistic’, and ‘money hungry’. Nice, right?  For me, I’ve always wanted to think we were hard-working, knew our self-worth, and more worried about the greater good than some extra cash. What do you think?

A: I think it really depends on the individual. I know a lot of people in my generation that act like the “Me, Me, Me” type, but I also know plenty that really do care and even if they don’t have the funds to contribute to charities they recycle, compost, conserve, and more to try and make a difference (donating time, etc). I do feel that more people from my generation care about the environment, social issues, and trying to find ways to make a bigger impact on the world. I also believe that our generation has a stronger outcry for more organic and sustainable items than that of older generations.

Q: Okay, so for a little inspiration; What’s something that has changed your life, so far, with working at Vitamin Angels– and what is something that keeps ‘positive vibes’ flowing throughout your day?

A: I just got back from a life-altering trip to Malawi with our team that you’ll hear about, which was an incredible experience. That’s definitely changed my life greatly.  And I like to think of balance;  I strive to try and be the best person that I think I can be in life, love, and work. I have so many dreams it could only take a book to write them all down, but I am hopeful that I will be remembered for trying to make a difference and leading by example.

Q:  I think the book idea sounds brilliant. We’re all for it!  So, let’s be honest, in our 20s there is a lot of freaking out involved when it comes to our career choices.  I have to ask you this; Before you began working for VAs, did you ever feel “trapped” in a job that felt like it wasn’t going in the direction you thought it would? Even if you were making good money? If so, what gave?

A: I think just about everyone starting out in their 20’s after college has that feeling of being trapped in a completely meaningless job. As you attempt to work your way up the ladder, you think to yourself, it might get better. I certainly had that feeling of wanting something bigger, better, and doing something that actually had meaning behind it. I think my breaking point was just last year; I was making great money, working my tail off, but not really happy with myself- or who I was becoming.  I knew I had to make a change in my life so I started looking for something different.

Q: So, in that case, how did you find that change? Did you find Vitamin Angels– or did they find you?

A: I actually found the Vitamin Angel’s opening on Craigslist, when I read the ad I honestly thought, “Is this for real? Because if it is, I am the perfect fit!” Ironic how it all works out.

Q: So obviously you were right- it was the perfect fit. Was it always a dream of your’s to work for an NGO, or was it the ‘light of Craigslist’ that sparked that, “Aha!”, lightbulb? I think being in our 20s we feel this pressure to ‘have it all figured out’, so it’s nice to hear feedback from someone who has been there…

A: I have worked for some very large Fortune 500 corporations in my earlier career stages, which have provided so much to me in earnings, learning, and having some pretty amazing mentors. After graduating college, I have to be honest, my dream was to be an extremely successful Marketing Director (or something to that level), and I certainly wasn’t thinking about working for an NGO at that point of my life. After 10 years in the corporate world my ‘aha’ moment was actually at an Event Planner conference where an NGO called “Clean the World” did a presentation. There was a moment in a video from Haiti where they were giving the children soap, and the tears just started welling up in my eyes– all that crossed my mind was, “I wish I could do MORE, I wish I was doing something that made a difference.” A couple of months later I saw the Vitamin Angels ad in Craigslist for the Event Manager position and I just knew that it was the perfect fit for me. I could do something I love, and do it for an organization I truly believe in.

Q: Ah, I love it! I’m such a sap for ‘full-circle’ life happenings.  Tells us more about being Vitamin Angel’s Event Manager– I feel like it’s one of those jobs ‘that keeps rolling’, so to say. You get to have a great time, making sure everyone has a great time, having a great time creating the difference you guys make around the world.  Whew, that’s a pretty awesome job description if you ask me.  What’s a typical day in your shoes?

A: Vitamin Angels has several large events throughout the year. Mainly for fundraising, donor recognition, and to increase awareness– a day in the life with me is all about multitasking. I manage extensive budgets, track expenses, work closely with management on all levels, both at VA, with our board members, and with our partners to make sure the event is a success. I am constantly thinking about event design and marketing to make the events memorable and unique. I develop strategies to make sure our goals are being met, reach out to partners to help secure registrations and sponsorships, answer attendee and sponsor questions/concerns, develop reports to track progress, site research and then work with the vendors regarding the event logistics (food, promotional items, activities, etc.)

The best part of my day, though, is definitely the amazing friendships made and the camaraderie in the office. From the awesome VA rap that was done at our Christmas party this year (kudos to my creative co-workers!), to the amazing birthday celebrations (and as the office staff grows, so do the parties, wink wink), and our fun brainstorming atmosphere (we have had some pretty wild ideas) each day- there is just this joyful aura around here- and it’s such an honor to be a part of such a cohesive team of individuals.

Q: Seems like a pretty wonderful place to create, inspire, and have an open space of exchange. That’s lovely. I must ask this because of the area of work you guys deal with everyday; We walk around places all the time and see loads of vitamins swarming the aisles and don’t actively think much of it- from grocery stores, health stores, pharmacies, etc.  What is it like now, seeing this, when you know so many women and children die everyday from such a simple deficiencies? Has it changed you at all?

A: I am so proud of everything that we are doing with Vitamin Angels– and have seen firsthand the affect that it is having globally– that I honestly haven’t focused on the negativity (death) that much. I suppose I find myself more engaged and thoughtful on how can we reach more people- ‘How do we get the word out so that everyone has heard of Vitamin Angels?’- those sort of thoughts cross my mind a lot nowadays. It is also amazing to me that .25 cents can save one child’s life. Vitamin Angels has changed me by actually being proud of what I do and who I work for. I know that at the end of the day creating memorable events, equals out to creating mass awareness about our cause.

Q: Obviously we’re on the same page; Creating a meaningful and positive impact on others in our lives is one of the only true ways to live life to the fullest. You certainly do this in your line of work– do you feel like your job is a sort of ‘complete success’ in a way? Especially when so many of us know we get caught up in merely working to support a lifestyle we want?

A: I absolutely feel that my job is a gift. I am so grateful for being able to work with such great people that truly believe in what we are doing, in an industry that is truly proud to work with us, and is so supportive. If you feel you want a job that is more meaningful, simple and actively seek it out– eventually you will find your calling. It may not fall out of the sky immediately, but you’ll get there.

Q: So how has your life changed knowing you are working for a greater good? 

A: My life has certainly changed for the better. What has truly inspired me while working at VA are the certainly the incredibly dedicated and intelligent people I work with, but also having the opportunity to see the Vitamin A distribution in Malawi, Africa. The impact was profound and is currently driving me to find ways to bring the feeling from the trip to those that might not be able to go to a remote distribution, but will find a way to come to our events and make a difference.

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Photograph of Malawi mother and son, as she builds her own home, brick-by-brick

 Q: Was there one particular moment while distributing Vitamin A, in Malawi, that touched you/inspired you– being a women and playing such a key-role in a huge NGO?

A: While in Malawi, the last village we visited, there was a young mother, 23 years old with two children and she was building her own home…brick by brick (literally – she was making the bricks one by one in the mud). Her love for her children and her need to provide for them, although she has nothing, was so overwhelming. Standing in a pile of mud (that she was using to create each brick) she takes her son, rinses off his legs and hands, gives him a big hug and sends him over to play with the other children. A mother’s love for her child reaches across the globe and all that crossed my mind after seeing this was how can I help VA more? What can I do to bring these stories to life for those that aren’t able to be in Malawi with me? It has inspired me to push myself even harder with life and work but it also reminded me to take time to enjoy being with those that I love.

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Q: So, my last question is pretty loaded; If you could say something to generations before you on behalf of Generation Y, what do you think you would say about us?

A: It’s as simple as, watch and learn…

If you would like to learn more, get involved, or donate to Vitamin Angels, please visit their website, donations may be taken here!

A special thanks from 20Something to Vitamin Angels and Megan MacKay for our interview! You guys Rock!

{all images in the interview are courtesy of Vitamin Angel’s}

Saturday Mornings: Food & Fashion.

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{raga animal print sweater}

Many moments I’ve found myself in lately have been ‘catastrophically awesome’. I believe this is going to be a new term with a serious phase in front of it. What exactly do I mean? Well, it means that is pretty much the feeling that goes hand-in-hand with your 20s. I’ve found myself here and there, worried about things we simply shouldn’t worry about, because they will happen one way or another. However, trying to keep little spaces in my day where I’m doing tiny things to try and cohesively mend whatever is bothering me has seemed to help a lot. Like taking a few moments to flip through a magazine, or devote time to particular projects I’m working on, looking through recipes I’d like to try out, start a new DIY project, etc. Last week, I even re-purposed a book solely for the purpose of ‘writing to the Universe.’ Why yes, my loves, it does sound a bit crazy. However, I highly recommend trying it out. Mostly because after I’ve been doing it I feel like things have been smoothing themselves out all in the presence of good vibes and karma. Who knows? Maybe the Universe is indeed listening to us if we just say what we’re thinking, and direct it its’ way. I’ve really been on this Eat, Pray, Love (like with this article I just finished, Eat, Pray, Love Intentionally) kick lately. But hey, if things end up being ‘catastrophically awesome’…I’ll take it. 

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In other realms of life, you can see, above, this Saturday has been consistent with Blackberry Muffin Cakes, coffee, and unintentional matching of Nordstrom Anniversary finds. Food & fashion, true loves. The link to my (on sale) sweater is above, and it’s the softest most amazing sweater to perhaps ever grace the earth. I love it. Plus the print was too wonderful not to dream of wearing it everyday, even in the middle of summer. Bless me. Anyhow, this morning I grabbed some of summer’s prettiest Blackberries from the farmer’s market and decided to whip up mini blackberry cakes…which ended up being mostly blueberry/half blackberry. But whatever. The Blackberries were prettier and stole the show. I included my gluten-free recipe to them, below. I have a real love affair with blueberry muffins, so I wanted the classic to be the base, but with added blackberries for a pretty summer dessert that incorporated the best of both worlds. I like the idea of mini cakes mostly because it feels a little more dangerous than regular muffins- yet these are pretty much guilt-free. Feel free to play with this recipe as much as you like, as always. Hope you’re having a lovely, calm, de-stressed, Saturday. xoxo.

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mini blackberry cakes

ingredients

1 3/4 cup of brown rice flour 

1 cup of naturally sweetened vanilla almond milk

2 eggs 

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup of grapeseed oil (I eyed it, so tread lightly with the oil)

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar 

1 tbsp. agave syrup 

1 cup blueberries (mine were frozen, I’m a cheat)

1/2 cup farmer’s market blackberries

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix brown rice flour, almond milk, eggs, and grapeseed oil. After broken down, add all sugar- agave and coconut palm, and your baking powder. Next, carefully fold in your berries so they stay whole and do not break apart in your batter. Pour into your pan (I used my tart pan for the ‘cake’ vibe.) Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite Nordstrom anniversary sweater, of course. 

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Lazy Strawberry Scone Cake

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This is, indeed, the easiest, laziest, cake you’ll ever make. Mostly because it’s so versatile and only requires about three ingredients, but mainly because it does involve a box. Now, I’m usually not too keen on anything boxed, I like to make everything the ole’ fashion way…from scratch. However, if it’s the best box possible, I’ll take it. It can be gluten free, vegan, purple-polka dotted, and it would undoubtedly work in this recipe.

 So without further adieu, you’ll need:

 1 box of whatever delicious scone mix you desire. (options: Wholesome Chow has a great vegan, gluten-free mix, or Alex Jamison’s homemade scone recipe could add some prep time, but would pay off)

 1 1/2 cups farmer’s market strawberries (you can also mix around the fruit, peaches would be delightful)

 Coconut oil, about 3 tbsp.

 1 cup Almond Milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

Follow the scone recipe as directed (the oven prep time might be a bit different depending on different mix use, if so, follow their directions). Pour scone batter in coconut-oil greased glassware. On top of the first layer of your batter, add your strawberries. Then, with remaining batter, simply pour over the strawberries (hell, get crazy, if you think you may want more strawberries before you cover them with your batter, throw some more in). Pop it in the over for around 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. Serve warm (my pick), or at room-temperature.

*note: you may have more or less bake time, because you want to the strawberries to cook down and become almost, jam-like. So keep an eye on it, once you see a bit more of a ‘melted’ strawberry middle and a bit of browning on the top, it’s done.

 It’s kind of crazy how pretty and Southern cobbler-ish, it turns out to be, being so…lazy. It’s perfect for a cozy get-together dessert, and best right out of the oven. You could have it in your fridge ready to go, and pop it in the oven just before dinner or whenever, and voila! Call me a cheat, but being a ‘southern belle’, and such, best believe it’ll be ‘homemade’ that night. xoxo.

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Memorial Weekend: BK; Rain; Beach; Books; Sun; Love; And Other Ponders.

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So I’ve been real MIA for the past few days as some of you may have seen, I didn’t even find the time to post for Monday Morning Madness, but I do hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day (as well as weekend)- with lots of good food, friends, and summer-ish entertainment. I ended up spending my Memorial Day weekend in my old home quarters in Brooklyn, NY. It was a needed trip to say the least, but definitely had its’ up and downs weather-wise and other ponders. Anyhow, I was all about doing some awesome posts while I was up because nothing inspires me quite like being in back in NY from the people to the places- but I found that Iphone’s and blogging is quite a mix…aka, posting is real(lll) difficult. So I decided to just live in the moment, take some time to breathe in the city, feel my youth, and catch up with everyone when I returned home to NC. Hope you loves are doing wonderful! Feeling a little of the Vitamin D from this weekend? 🙂 Well I’m sure I’ll be here all week, writing away about anything and everything- from my trip to a little surprise I have in store with a pretty interesting interview (hopefully). Until then, here’s just a couple photos from my Memorial Day weekend/today that kind of made it worthwhile/inspired me. From reading, to taking in some scenery on the beach yesterday, themin’ random matching outfits from one of my best friends-whose basically the boy version of me kinda’ (twins?), to rainy days in NYC (that resembled something of winter at times), peach laced-trim fedora hats that I kinda’ fell in love with AFTER I bought it, and plenty of laughter to even out even the most absurd weather. Oh, and of course mermaid-inspired nail polish with lovely blue skies and a pool to match. Light, fresh, things that this time of year brings bounty of (most of the times, that is, ahem). Anyhow, I’m sure there’s more to come since my Iphone camera and I have become madly in love with one another.

{Pure and Pink Worthy Randoms: Forever 21 Fedora, Sally Hansen polish in ‘S-teal A Base’, Beach Worthy Book ‘Beautiful Ruins’ by Jess Walters, New Josie Maran Summer Lip Shade in ‘Berry Bliss’ (I wore it basically this whole post, ‘obsessed’ is an understatement) p.s…we ate from Bliss Cafe in Williamsburg in the shot below-it’s a cozy little nook for lunch if you’re in the area and want something on the healthier side. It’s the little things. xoxo}

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