Coconut Oil

The Coconut tree is called the “Tree of Life” because all the parts of the entire tree–from top to bottom–are used to sustain human life.Inside the shell lies the meat and coconut water, so it must be the most useful tree in the world.  It’s definitely the most resilient. Coconut trees are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world where even in conditions with very little nourishment they flourish, growing taller than most of the plants around it.  Which brings me to…

Oil around the world, women for centuries have incorporated natural oils such as coconut into their skincare routine. While it won’t make you grow taller it will make your skin feel wonderful, which at least will help elevate your mood. And that’s a tall order in itself.

After having tested numerous beauty products myself,  I decided to go back to making and selling a few of my own.  Even in a competitive market.  Four of these oils make up the base to my deluxe facial oil (to which I then add other essential oils). Since essential oils are highly concentrated, a carrier oil (I refer to it as a base) is needed for dilution, efficacy and ease of application.

For full disclusure, I’m going to give a bit of background on each of what I put in there starting with Coconut Oil in its fractionated form.

Photo taken from artnaturals

Coconut Oil for Face:

Fractionated coconut oil (or virgin coconut oil) in this form is distilled down to its fattiest acids. The distilling process makes fractionated coconut the perfect addition to your beauty routine.  Coconut oil in all its forms is excellent for skin but when mixing with other oils (including essential oils) the fractionated form is best.

Fractionated coconut oil is tasteless, odorless, and usually more expensive than regular coconut oil. It is produced through hydrolysis and steam distillation. It’s important to note that no added products or chemicals are incorporated into the mixture during this time, so fractionated coconut oil remains a natural product. Significantly, it includes medium-chain triglycerides. Therefore, it has a protracted shelf existence.

Coconut oil itself is chemically composed of two types of fatty acids: long-chain fatty acids and medium-chain fatty acids. With fractionated coconut oil, the two key fatty acids are separated, leaving you mostly with the medium-chain fatty acids.

Regular coconut oil only becomes liquid under high temperatures (78 degrees F) and has a greasy feel. Because of this unique difference, fractionated coconut oil is best used for therapeutic purposes. Regular coconut oil, on the other hand, is solid at cool or room temperature, but liquid when heated. Because it has such a high concentration of saturated fat, fractionated coconut oil is much more stable than regular coconut oil.

What does it do? It helps smooth skin and works as an antioxidant. It also binds other ingredients together, and can work as a preservative of sorts to make the active ingredients in skincare last longer as a more natural alternative to other synthetic chemicals found in many topical skin products.

In case you’re wondering about my background in all of this…

I don’t have one.  KiddingI’ve always taken an interest in skincare and over time have sampled many, many products.  Other than through sheer trial and error, as a side interest I trained and graduated from George Brown College – School of Makeup and Esthetics when I lived in Toronto. Even though I’ve never worked as an esthetician I have (had in some cases) gained some knowledge.  I made beautiful face and body products from scratch. I’ve never had fillers or botox or anything other than regular facials. That’s not to say I could not use some work (ha!) it’s just that I’ve not done so. At least so far. Never say never.

I’ll continue to go through my list of ingredients with some background about them..because if you’re interested in purchasing something you should know what’s in them beforehand.

Remember it’s better to create something and be criticized than to create nothing and criticize others.” – Ricky Gervais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biodynamic

Maybe it’s because I’m a wine lover

or maybe it’s because I’m going back to the Okanagan this week, but I wanted to check on the meaning behind some of the organic wine farming terminology.  And I thought you might want to know too.

We’re all familiar with organic and how farming without pesticides is much healthier for everyone, with a very meaningful benefit to the environment.

Biodiversity plays a key role in organic farming and we’re hearing the word “Biodynamic” a lot…but what is it?

For our friends at Summerhill/Pyramid winery in Kelowna, these organic + biodynamic practices have been standard and an integral part of wine making since it was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986.

There’s always a riesling for everything! But hey; I’m not even a huge reisling fan and this is my favourite. Not too sweet with just the right balance. An off-dry experience of lemon-lime, peach and green apple.

Shared from their newsletter:

Biodynamic Farming Considered the grandfather to organics, was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1924. This concept encouraged a more holistic approach to agriculture, prioritizing sustainable soil health and encouraging biodiversity. By balancing the interrelationship of soil, plants, and animals, we create a closed system where nothing is wasted. Summerhill was certified by Demeter International in 2012 and remains British Columbia’s only certified biodynamic vineyard.

Taken from Summerhill/Pyramid website

At the core of biodynamic farming is living in harmony with nature, harvesting soulful, beautiful food and returning nutrient back to the earth.

Biodiversity plays a key role in organic farming.  Since we don’t use any synthetics in our vineyards, we must encourage nature to fill ecological niches and maintain balance.  By allowing flowering plants to grow between the rows, we provide a home for beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises.  The natural flora also help to improve our soil life and water retention, important elements to growing quality grapes! 

Anthony Gismondi on wine gave this 90 points. He has this to say: Muscat is not for everyone, but it can be alluring when it’s as right as this one. Fragrant and floral from jasmine to orange blossoms, this wine brings it all to the table. I tried it and totally agree.

Our home vineyard is 17 hectares where natural springs emerge on the property, and join with creeks to create a beautiful wetland nature sanctuary that supports a variety of species.

Summerhill is committed to producing 100% organic wine.  Our Kelowna vineyard entered the certification program in 1988, and has received Demeter Biodynamic certification in 2012. In addition, our winemaking is also certified organic, allowing us to display the Canadian certified organic logo on our bottles, ensuring you can expect a high level of quality and purity.

Sidenote from Girl who would be King: might I add that their wine tastes better and doesn’t give you a headache (unless of course you really over indulge but that’s not what I’m talking about).  That’s not to say that I drink “only organic”  (although it is my preference to do so), however there is unfortunately not enough “all organic” wineries so I do try other wines and like many of them.  My only hope is that all wineries follow suit and go the Summerhill route to a healthier way of living/drinking.

Cheers to a good week ahead!

 

The power of Film

It’s that time of year again. The time where movie theaters start to fill up as Fall approaches.  And of course; the film festivals start up.  Toronto International Film Festival (better known as TIFF) is on now until the 18th followed by the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF for short) which begins on September 29th

Film is a powerful tool for so many reasons.  There’s times I don’t want to think and only want to laugh, however; the three highlighted here help to get a message across with a not so gentle reminder of what good and bad we humans are capable of.  This is the true power of film. Comedy and Tragedy, like life itself. Previews of what’s to come…

If you liked My Octopus Teacher…

Blueback

Blueback: photo + description taken from TIFF website

A story about an intimate mother–daughter relationship, forged by the women’s keen desire to protect the inhabitants of the pristine blue oceans on the Australian coast where they live.

With images of beautiful blue vistas demanding to be seen on the big screen, Robert Connolly (Balibo, TIFF ’09; Paper Planes, TIFF ’14) returns to the Festival with a story about a young woman’s connection to the ocean and an inherited mission of environmental advocacy.

A teenager named Abby and her mom maintains a bond with a groper fish (In Australia, “groper” is used instead of “grouper” ) affectionately named Blueback, who becomes a reminder of all the wonders the ocean has to offer and a path to healing a rift between Abby and her mother.

Sidenote from Girl who would be King: as a former scuba diver where at 19, my very first dive was in the Bahamas with a team from National Geographic no less,  I personally came into contact with Grouper fish among sea turtles and many other remarkable sea creatures.  I visited Cayman Islands too where turtle stew is considered the national dish. This trailer pulled on my heartstrings.  

Grouper and snapper are still the mainstays in the Bahamas, however, with the former being the “Rolls Royce of fish” according to Ben Simmons, owner and operator of Harbour Island’s Ocean View Club.

Bones of Crows

Bones of Crows: photo + description taken from VIFF website.

An epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears that spans generations, Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples as well as a stirring story of resilience and resistance.

752 Is Not A Number

752 is Not a Number: photo + description taken from TIFF website.

On January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 went down as it was leaving Iranian air space. All 176 people on board were killed, many of them Iranian Canadians. For weeks Iranian authorities vociferously denied responsibility, but foreign governments and agencies were certain the plane was shot down by Iranian military, a fact Iran’s government eventually admitted. There were no answers as to why the plane was fired on or even why it was allowed to take off, since hostilities had broken out in the region in preceding days.

This tragedy is the subject of the documentary. The focus is one man’s dogged fight for the truth. Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist in Newmarket, Ontario, lost his wife and his young daughter in the incident. Determined not to let the Iranian government exploit their memories, Hamed took a harrowing journey to Iran to claim the remains, then embarked on a quest for justice for all the victims in this atrocity.

Happy Film Going (and some not so happy film going) but we all learn something and become more mindful in the process.

Have a great weekend (a long weekend in most provinces in Canada due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II).  RIP our longest reigning monarch.

 

Bioéthique

Ahhh the luxury of a good facial. What woman doesn’t love that afterglow?

I just found my new go-to in an invitingly clean and calming place.

Taken from the outside – which made me want to go inside. Photo: d. king

I just experienced a super deluxe facial with aesthetician Deborah at Bioéthique Spa in Vancouver.  Not to mention a long overdue one as well.  So it was tiiiiiime!  Relaxing, pampering, the massage followed by seaweed mask was amazing and I was treated to a shoulder and arm massage too.  Divine!  I highly recommend this place.

Bioéthique is ranked one of the top ten spas in BC.  I did the 60 minute facial with an extra partial *microdermabrasion and LED treatment to help strengthen elastin and smooth skin. When I left my skin looked and felt radiant.  I loved the delicious vegan chocolate too.

Bonus: it’s dog friendly too.   Photo: d. king

Their products are made with the highest quality ingredients which nurture and repair the skin for true skin rejuvenation.  Using a high concentration of active properties and selected botanical ingredients, they help penetrate the skin for a multitude of purposes – depending on your skin type.  They help to visibly firm, tone and restore a gorgeous complexion.

Photo: d, king

Bioéthique‘s exquisite skin care line is entirely vegan, 100% natural, minimum 98% certified organic and contains no synthetic chemicals or GMO’s.   Embraced by both men and women, the high concentration and active properties of each selected botanical ingredient penetrates deeply into the skin – visibly restoring a gorgeous glow.

Photo: d. king

How often is too often?  I guess it depends on your skin and of course, your budget.  There are women who come in weekly but for most it’s every few months or at least seasonal.  I think for me it will be seasonal, especially from now on.

*Microdermabrasion treatments use a minimally abrasive instrument to gently sand your skin, removing the thicker, uneven outer layer, and has many benefits. This type of skin rejuvenation is used to treat light scarring, discoloration, sun damage and stretch marks.  The effects of the treatment typically last for about one month. The length of time results will last varies depending on age and how well you respond to the treatment.

Photo taken from website
Photo taken from website

To book:

Virchew signalling – can dogs go vegan?

But first…

Photo: d. king

Let me preface this by asking – did you know that one of the oldest living dogs was a border collie named Bramble who was vegan and lived to be 25?

There’s a book “Bramble; The dog who wanted to live forever” that documents the care regime, diet and the people who looked after her. The book also demonstrates how to circumvent the pet food industry which in many cases contributes to greenhouse gasses and animal abuse via intensive farming.

I know I’ve been appalled at some of the ingredients I’ve noticed on many pet food packages, many of which are on the shelves for sale at your veterinarian. Kudos to anyone trying to improve the industry…but that’s not to say that I would jump in and rapidly change my dog’s diet, which I believe is pretty healthy as is.  As with almost everything else, you must do the research yourself.

Photo: d. king

Here’s what I found: Dogs can thrive without meat, but only if they are fed a properly balanced vegetarian diet. As is true with people who prefer vegetarian diets, protein or vitamin deficiency can occur in dogs who eat strictly vegetarian diets if they are not properly supplemented.

I also found: dogs are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and plant products. While it is theoretically possible, the British Veterinary Association does not recommend giving a dog a vegetarian or a vegan diet as it is much easier to get the balance of essential nutrients wrong than to get it right. Feb 1, 2022

Vegan diets are healthier and safer for dogs than conventional meat-based diets, according to the largest study to date, as long as they are nutritionally complete. The diet and health of more than 2,500 dogs were followed over a year using surveys completed by their owners. Apr 13, 2022

KEY WORDS: NUTRITIANALLY COMPLETE

Photo: d. king

Meet Laura Simonson. She’s a local entrepreneur and the founder of “Virchew,” a complete plant-based nutritionally balanced food (along with treats) for dogs.  Based in Vancouver, BC, Virchew is powered by trail-blazing veterinary nutrition programs – with a dogged focus on skin, digestive and preventative solutions. 

FAR FROM YOUR TYPICAL DOG FOOD.

Unlike most dog foods, Virchew is not a kibble.  Meals are a convenient dry blend that is jam-packed with clean, green proteins, essential fats (omegas and DHA), complex carbs, healthful fiber, essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and nutrients. You simply dish it up to your dog’s bowl, stir it up with warm water and serve it up! Complete ingredients are on the website.  They also deliver and ship to your door.

I walked by her shop a few weeks ago and got hooked by the colourful posters and ambience so went inside to check it out and ask a few questions. I left with some love bowl samples.  I like the idea behind the name and believe she’s concocted a healthy plant based formula, however I’m continuing to feed Layla a combo of meat + veggies as this is a new concept for us. We’ll continue with her regular routine. I always add several drops of a cellular formula called “rejeneril” (see link below) to her kibble in the morning. In the evening I mix either cooked ground turkey, chicken or wild salmon with mixed veggies (carrots, peas, green beans, a little squash or sweet potato) and rice. I add a tsp of coconut or ultra fish oil to the mix.  She never gets bored.  I also give her a bit of plain yogurt, but not everyday.

Let’s consider Laura’s story…taken from her website profile page:

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

One day in 1989, Laura went to a natural health bookstore in Saskatoon, SK. It was a highly unusual store for its time and so was a book she happened upon. The self-published book title eluded to “vegetarian dogs.” (The word ‘vegan’ was not yet mainstream).  Since she was a bona fide natural health foodie, competitive bodybuilder, athlete, passionate animal lover, and considering vegetarianism herself, Laura was intrigued and the idea stuck.”

Fast forward to 2001, now a vegetarian and after several years as a top-selling realtor and sales manager, Laura pursued one of her first entrepreneurial business ideas: to open the first health & fitness studio of its kind, supported by personal growth programs, and vegetarian catering. Laura created the programs and personally provided the catering each week. It was during that same year she found her dream dog, Shanti, a border collie.

“She had already planned Shanti’s vegetarian diet, and after consulting a veterinarian friend, she decided on a home-cooked diet combined with a veterinary, vegetarian formula. Shanti quickly became the studio’s living mascot as she delighted clients and friends alike with her boundless energy.”

Photo: d. king

“In 2008, through a fortuitous event, Laura met Gord Espeseth, an entrepreneur, innovator, and businessman who was also a vegetarian. With a background as a farmer, bush pilot, social worker, international food broker, owner of a food production company, and inventor of TRAK Kayaks (National Geographic dubbed TRAK the world’s ultimate kayak), Gord was the perfect match to play a support role for Laura’s next BIG idea: a vegetarian food company with a social venture foundation.” 

One day in December 2009, while assisting a friend with a food demo at a West Vancouver Whole Foods store, Laura took a break to walk down the dog food aisle. As she scanned the shelves and saw the absence of a vegetarian or vegan option, it was at that moment that the inspiration lightbulb went off! She knew what needed to be done and quickly linked this new idea all the way back to that moment in the book store in Saskatchewan and that glimpse of the vegetarian dog book.”

From that day forward, the idea was complete and Virchew was born.

https://www.virchew.com/aboutvirchew

So…food for thought – would you consider feeding your dog a completely plant based formula?

Veggie Dogs anyone?

DURGA Interiors – heavenly scents

On a mission to find my signature scent (or perfume) someone said I should check out this exotic shop on 4th Ave in Vancouver called Durga Interiors.

Photo: d. king    3466 West 4th Ave.

It was here among vintage furniture and devotional Hindu art that I discovered on a wall at the very back of the shop, a treasure trove of rare, unusual and organic Ayurvedic Essential Oils & Extracts hard to find outside the Indian Subcontinent.

Photo: d. king

It was here that I tested at least thirty oils on a toothpick, as they’re so concentrated that you need only to dip the tip of a toothpick to find out if you like it or not. Of course it got too overwhelming so I left the shop without purchasing a thing. But not for long.  One scent I could not ignore.  How to describe it? It had a slightly floral aroma but the earthy tropical undertones with a hint of spice toned it down a little.  It was beautiful but different so I went back a few days later to test only the one called “white lotus” (apparently rare) and when I walked into another boutique close-by, the girl who owns the shop said she loved the scent.  So back to Durga I went and bought it.  Seemed pricey for a tiny, tiny bottle but I realize that their oils (ones meant to be used as perfume) last all day – sometimes until the next day when only applying a tiny tiny bit.

Photo: d. king

So of course I had to research the meaning behind the white lotus flower.  It is known to symbolize Bodhi (being awakened), and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world. Well; what do you know? I am pure perfection! Ha.  Well maybe more like someone who feels difficult to defeat.  Yeah; that’s more like it. I love the word “resilient.” I am feeling resilient like the divine plant itself – one that grows in the murkiest of muddy marshes but blossoms everyday with the pre-morning sun.  Love it!  The Buddha is known to sit on its iconic petals.

Durga, (Sanskrit: “the Inaccessible”) in Hinduism, a principal form of the Goddess, also known as Devi and Shakti. The word Durga (दुर्गा) literally means “impassable”, “invincible, unassailable”. It is related to the word Durg (दुर्ग) which means “fortress, something difficult to defeat or pass”.

No wonder I loved the vibe inside this unusual place.

Photo: d. king

Of course the end result is that other people can wear this very same scent… although it  smells differently on each of us because of our unique bodily chemistry.

If you live in Vancouver or visiting and want to test out something more particular than what you’d find elsewhere then this is the place.

Taken from their website: At Durga, we are all about providing you with inspiration, not only in the form of contemporary and antique Indian styles, colours and innovative designs, but also through soothing traditional music, healing fragrance and a soulful ambiance. All our items come with a brief description, age and provenance so you can walk away with as much knowledge as you can about the pieces in your hands. Visit us today and prepare to be transported to another time!

 

Suddenly September

Adios August; you were wonderful. Welcome  September.

basically how I’ve felt all summer (ok; almost all the time!)

Notice a psychological shift that happens after the end of August? Even though technically summer doesn’t end until September 21st it certainly starts to feel different. Like summer is basically over. Kids back to school, the days are shorter and cooler.  We can still have many great sunny days in September but we’re gearing up for fall. And we adapt.  Fall is a great season.  New beginnings.  Speaking of new beginnings…

I’ve decided to start September off by launching a new product…or rather, perfecting an old one. Soon to be on my shop page.  I’ve formulated a luxuriously hydrating facial oil. It’s concentrated like a serum to be applied at night before bed but light enough to use for day before applying sunscreen.

Some of my friends know that I’ve been sourcing and buying exotic essential oils for many years now.  I used to sell my homemade products including an excellent makeup remover and a wonderful eye balm on another website. When I finally ran out of product I decided to take a break and compare mine to other similar skincare including cult favourites – vintner’s daughter (expensive but good) & olio lusso (acquired by Estée Lauder from founder/stylist Linda Rodin in 2014).

Even though the market is saturated more than before, I believe that mine works as good or better than others I’ve tried. Maybe a bit of a presumptuous claim, however I’ve comprised what I believe to be the best skin serving superstars – good for all skin types. Check out The Delightful Dozen:

sneak peek

The Basics:

Coconut Oil in its unfractionated form is rich in hydrating properties that helps to soothe and soften your skin.

Argan Oil is loaded with ingredients that are considered the best for maintaining skin’s health. Rich in vitamins A and E, omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, argan oil is especially effective in firming skin and improving elasticity, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles and increasing hydration. I’m told Argan oil is now the rarest vegetable oil out there because of the scarcity of Argan trees. This one was brought back for me direct from the Atlas mountains in Morocco.

Jojoba Oil is nourishing, hydrating and soothing.

Sweet Almond Oil has fatty acids and vitamins A + E to help skin retain moisture and heal irritated skin. *Note: Do not use almond oil if allergic to nuts. Please specify if you are allergic. I’ll be happy to make one without.

The Essentials:

Frankincense Oil strengthens, tightens and improves skin tone.  If you were to go back in time to Ancient Israel or Asia, many people would consider Frankincense to be more precious than gold. Today, Frankincense essential oil is still worth its weight in gold in a number of applications.

Evening primrose oil has emollient properties, meaning it helps soften and smooth the skin, improving the skin’s overall texture. It also helps lock in moisture to minimize water loss.

Rosehip Seed Oil helps to brighten and exfoliate.

Carrot Seed Oil has antibacterial, antifungal & anti-inflammatory properties.

Sea Buckthorn is excellent for reducing acne breakouts, because it signals the oil glands to stop creating excess amounts of sebum. Also helps to reduce inflammation in the skin.

Jasmine acts as an effective antibacterial, soothing dry skin and eczema. Not to mention that heavenly scent.

Baobob is luxurious and nutrient rich. High in linoleic acid, a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, baobab oil may help reduce skin redness and irritation.  

Ginseng has firming properties and helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition I’ll be making a facial spray in an orange blossom water base with essential oils of eucalyptus which is purifying (good for reducing redness) and sweet orange which is refreshing.  Enzymes in orange are cleansing. The spray can be used anytime but best to spritz over face before applying a few drops of the oil. Skin requires access to water and oil, so underlying moisture is required.

Moving along through upcoming posts I’ll tell you where the oils come from and how they’re extracted. Almost all have been used by many cultures around the world for centuries.

Until then enjoy the sunny days of September.