Strawberry Coconut Smoothie

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I haven’t done a smoothie post in awhile, so I thought I’d share this one I made last night!

Delicious, ice cold smoothie with a sweet coconut flavor. Perfect for cooling off in the summer heat! I bought the organic coconut sugar and shredded coconut on Amazon for very good prices. My husband actually loved this one!

• 1 ripe banana (frozen or fresh)
• 1 cup frozen peaches
• 1 cup frozen strawberries
• 1/2 cup water (or coconut milk)
• 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
• 2 tsp organic coconut sugar

Blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

- SWL

“But Sunscreen is Carcinogenic!”

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We are approaching summer and I’m on my one-woman sunscreen crusade! I’ve officially moved to Key West and I have definitely seen plenty of red, sunburned tourists and leathery, aged skin of the locals to kick me into sunscreen overdrive. But if I had a dollar for every time someone said “sunscreen is carcinogenic”, I’d be rich! So I want to get some of the facts straight.

There are two different types of sunscreen: mineral and chemical. The former is compromised of two different minerals: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens, which are absorbed into the body and then potentially into the blood and to other organs, consists of avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate.

Avobenzone is in almost all sunscreens because it’s the best for filtering sunlight, however avobenzone may break down when exposed to sunlight alone, thus making it useless. That’s where octocrylene comes in to help stabilize it. The worst of the lot is oxybenzone. It’s in about 80% of all US sunscreens and can cause skin allergies and is an endocrine (hormone) disrupter which may affect the nervous system. Oxybenzone also creates free-radicals (which are harmful to our healthy cells) when exposed to the sun. A European study found traces of chemical sunscreens in a mother’s breast milk (Schlumpf 2008 & 2010)!

Mineral sunscreens, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are great for blocking UVA and UVB rays with minimal risks to your health. Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens are not usually absorbed into the body. They actually sit on the surface of the skin to block the sun’s harmful rays, hence why they are typically called physical sunscreens. The small, nano-sized particles of zinc and titanium (which make the product less white on the skin) may pose a small risk of penetrating the skin. However, you can look for non-nano or micronized zinc oxide to be completely safe.

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But please, let’s not forget that sun exposure itself is a PROVEN Class 1 Carcinogen. It is the worst thing for your skin. Over the last three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in America (SkinCancer.org).

So while the chemical sunscreens have questionable safety and may potentially cause harm, the sun has proven time and time again to CAUSE CANCER. The sun is carcinogenic. Chemical sunscreens? I don’t know if they cause cancer directly, but you certainly must scrutinize them when selecting sun protection for you and your family.

I only use mineral sunscreens. If it has chemical sunscreens in it, I pass. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to shop for sunscreen as almost every single sunscreen available in drugstores contains chemical filters, not to mention other questionable synthetic ingredients, animal testing, etc.

So for now, I leave you with this information. I have been doing some research on drugstore sunscreens and will be writing a post on my findings to help you navigate the crazy and confusing world of sun protection.

- SWL

It’s Moving Day!

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Moving day has finally arrived! We’ve known about this move for five months and yet I still feel like I’m just going on vacation. Maybe once all of our stuff is loaded on a truck it will feel real.

We don’t actually leave until Monday so we will be spending four days in an empty house with *gasp!* no Wi-Fi! I have plenty of books to read, thankfully!

While I’m in the process of moving, the blog is going on a temporary hiatus. I will still be posting to Twitter and Instagram, but just not on the blog. I promise lots of pictures once I get to the Florida Keys. Feel free to read through past blog posts in the mean time.

See you in about two weeks, lovelies!

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OOTN: Boho-Beachy Glam

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On Thursday, my old friends from the bank I used to work at threw me a going away party to celebrate my impending move to Key West.  It was so great to see my girlfriends and one even drove two hours to see me one last time (she lives in Georgia now)!  We went to my favorite Mexican restaurant where I ate far too may Tortilla chips and fresh guacamole.  But it was so much fun!

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For the occasion, I wore my new Victoria’s Secret Cold Shoulder Dress.  I’m in love with this dress and I have a feeling I’ll be living in this dress all summer.  It has a loose, but feminine fit.  It looks beachy/boho, but I glammed it up with heels and red lips.  It would work with a pretty summer sandal and is lovely for any summer occasion — from BBQs to beach parties.  The cut-out shoulders give it a sexy, yet playful and sweet look.  A woman who was leaving the restaurant actually stopped by our table to compliment my dress and asked where it was from!  I honestly can’t remember who the heels are by.  They are actually too big, but they were great with the dress!  The watch is by Coach and was a gift from my mom.  I wore a gold necklace with three small diamonds that was a gift from my husband and I skipped wearing earrings.

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I love red lips!  I wish I wore red lipstick more!  My signature red lip is Chanel Rouge Allure in Pirate.  It’s the perfect red for my skintone and hair color.  I also used Chanel Mat Lumiere foundation in Clair and a Victoria’s Secret bronzing powder dusted along my forehead, nose, cheeks, and neck.  NARS blush in Angelika and L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes.  For eyeshadow, I mixed bronze-y golden colors from an old eyeshadow palette (no clue where it came from).  No outfit is complete without perfume; I wore one of my favorites that I think is perfect for nights out: Chanel Coco Eau de Parfum.

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I rarely, rarely drink alcohol as I don’t like its affects on my skin, but that night was an exception as it was a celebration and I haven’t had a drop to drink since my husband’s work Christmas party where I had two glasses of wine and was totally hammered — oops!  I had some sort of Sangria wine and it was delicious!  Cheers!

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My girlfriend showed me her Prada sunglasses and I just had to try them on!  I didn’t think they were quite my style until I tried them on, but I’m kind of in love with them!  So very glam!  What do you think?  I think I still prefer my Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses (seen here at the very end of this blog post), but these Prada sunnies are fabulous!

- SWL

Warm Weather Makes Me Happy

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Warm weather makes me incredibly happy.  I spent most of my young adult life in Portland, OR, but my childhood was all spent in the South — born in Texas and lived in Missouri, Mississippi, AND Alabama all before I was nine years old.  My parents loved taking us to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico beaches growing up.  So many summers were spent running around Gulf Shores, AL.  My mom is a total beach bum; she could sit out in the sun and sand for hours upon hours, drinking iced tea, slathered in baby oil, and only leaving her towel on the white sand to cool off in the warm southern ocean.  But since I did most of my growing up in Portland (where I consider “home”), I got used to the clouds, the rain, the cold weather.

Since moving to South Carolina four years ago, I’ve become acclimated to the warm weather and I find myself “chilled” if the temperature is below 65 degrees.  The idea of suffering through a real winter like those in the Midwest and New England stops me cold.  But now that I’m going to be moving to Key West, FL in less than two weeks, the warm weather we’re having in SC only makes me more giddy and excited to be moving even further south — in fact, to the Southern Most Point in the Continental USA.

These lovely days in the 80s are just amazing.  I’m loving wearing dresses and shorts and cute sandals — yes, I’ve traded in my signature black skinny jeans for shorts and dresses.  And I can’t wait to get to Key West to trade in my shorts and dresses for bikinis and big sun hats.  Summer, here I come!

- SWL

SWL Does Latisse

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I have no eyeshadow and no mascara on in the above pictures.  Those are my naked eyelashes.

Shortly after I started esthetics school, I went to a fun open house at a medical spa down the road from the school.  I thought it would be a great networking opportunity and met a ton of really awesome people and spa vendors.  One of the vendors there was for Latisse.  I had been dying to try Latisse; I remember those commercials with Brooke Shields.  So while I was at the open house, I picked up a box of Latisse.  (You do need a prescription from a doctor for Latisse.  The medical spa has a doctor on staff and she prescribed it.)

As soon as I went home, I took a picture of the box and posted it on Instagram with promises of updating you guys on my results.  The next morning, I took my first “before” Latisse picture on November 8, 2013.  I started using Latisse each night.  I put a drop of the liquid on the little disposable brushes that come in the kit (you are supposed to use one brush for each eye, but I used one brush for both eye every night) and swiped it over my upper lash line several times for each eye.  You aren’t supposed to put it on your bottom lashes AT ALL.  The little medical insert also recommended using Latisse at night before bed and when you close your eyes to sleep, some of the Latisse does “catch” on your lower lashes, so they do grow a little bit as well.

What Latisse basically does is extends the growth cycle of your eye lashes.  All hair on your body follows three growth phases: Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen.  Anagen is the “active” growth phase where the hair is growing.  Latisse keeps your lashes in this growth state, instead of going into Catagen where the hair is detached from it’s blood supply and nourishment inside the follicle and then eventually moves into the Telogen phase where it either sits there dormant to rest or falls out of the follicle completely and the cycle begins again.

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I used Latisse every night for about two months, occasionally missing a night here or there.  After about six weeks (around Christmas), I noticed my lashes appeared fuller, like I just had more lashes.  This is likely because instead of shedding old lashes, they kept on growing.  It was around this time that yes, I did notice some eyelid discoloration.  In the “after” photo, you can see a purple-ish tint to my eyelids.  That’s not eyeshadow, it’s from Latisse and is one of the possible side effects.  Now, it really is not as noticeable as it appears in the picture.  And when I have on makeup and primer and eyeshadow, you would never know it’s there.  Once you discontinue use of Latisse, the eyelid discoloration does go away.  After about two months, I got lazy with Latisse and sometimes forgot to use it for several nights in a row.  After about four days without Latisse, the discoloration started to fade.  It truly is not that noticeable and I wear makeup almost every day anyway, so it’s not like anyone would be able to tell.

After four months of using Latisse, I definitely noticed longer lashes.  Along with the fullness, my eyelashes were ridiculous.  Now here I am, almost five months out from using Latisse (which I still use about three to four times a week) and my lashes are beyond amazing.  When I wear mascara, they practically touch my eyebrows.  It’s crazy!  So I don’t use it every night.  I don’t need it every night anymore.  To simply maintain my lush eyelashes, I use it a few times a week, usually three days in a row, with a break of three days in between for whatever reason.  Keep in mind, if you completely stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will eventually go back to normal – probably after about three to four months.  You can maintain your lashes like I do with only using it a few times per week.

I didn’t experience any other side effects aside from the eyelid skin discoloration, which has been worth it to have longer, lovelier lashes.  I didn’t have any change to the color of my eyes and there was no skin discoloration under my eyes.  Seriously, you need to follow the directions that come with the kit and listen to what your doctor tells you.  I applied mine only once per day, on my upper lash line, and only at night right before I went to sleep.

It’s been totally worth it and I’m just now nearing the end of my first little bottle of Latisse drops.  I plan to pick up another bottle so I can keep these gorgeous, full lashes.

- SWL

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