Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oh Dear Drea --- Living Simply and Vegan in South Florida

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite bloggers ever.  Her name is Andrea Duclos, but goes by Drea.  She resides in South Florida with her absolutely adorable family whilst living a simple life filled with color, flair, fun and lots of delicious vegan cooking.  She recently published a beautiful plant-based cookbook appropriately titled, "The Plantiful Table", which you can find by clicking here.   As a vegan myself and someone who also has a tiny little family in South Florida, I thought... hmmmm.... who better to ask vegan diet questions to than Drea?  Enjoy the interview and be sure to pop in and visit her blog "Oh Dear Drea."  You are absolutely sure to love it! Especially her house tour! And.... her recipes!
Hi Drea! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family's diet  
Well, my daughter and I are plant-based, while my husband eats just about everything except salmon. With the exception of eggs from our backyard chickens, my daughter and I are vegan. I guess some people are calling that “veggan” these days. We’re not calling it that ;) We don’t have a problem with our mixed diets so much— we all have the same values when it comes to food— quality is important. I’d rather see someone consciously eating food— all types of food— even meat, than scarfing down fast-food and sodas. At home we eat mostly vegetables and some grains, and way too many avocados. 

For a busy family, what would be a couple of easy meals that could be prepped with 4 ingredients or less in no more than a half hour? 
When I’m in a pinch on time— we usually stick to soups or acted veggies with grains. If you count spices though, we’d be way over our 4 ingredient minimum. My daughter loves “green soup” which is just a few veggies and broccoli blended together. Or a kale pesto pasta, super easy. Veggies and millet is our go to lately— something like the “15 minute couscous” recipe in my cookbook, except with millet, since I’m gluten free now.  And rice and beans— simple but filling. 

What easy peasy meal could you recommend for children who are being introduced into a plant-based diet, but who also happen to be super picky eaters?

Really, any of the pasta dishes in my cookbook. They’re all super easy to make (only one is time consuming) and loved by most kids. 

What staples should be in every vegan's pantry? 
For us, we always like to have a few grain options and loads of spices. You can take those things + lots of veggies and make a really stand out meal. 
Tell us a bit about the new cookbook, The Plantiful Table. 

Honestly, I think the cookbook is a pretty useful tool for non vegans. It’s not filled with super “weird vegan ingredients”— it’s all pretty straightforward for people to use severance in a while or every single day! I’m just hoping to add more plants and healthy food to peoples lives especially kiddos! :) 

Thanks for the interview Drea! Cannot wait to try some of those recipes. Yum!

** Please note: All photographs featured in this post are the property of Oh Dear Drea (Andrea Duclos) **

Monday, June 27, 2016

Go Paperless

In this day and age of the Internet, why in the world are people still doing business with paper?  It completely boggles my mind when we have a ton of junk mail delivered into our mailbox several times a week.  Sometimes, every single day.  And where does it directly go to?  The recycling bin.  I never even entertain it.  At all.  How about you?  Also, bills.  Why do people still request to have actual statements sent to their mailbox?  Don't we know what our bills are and when they're due? We can then just log online and pay them, right?
Well, these may seem like simple things to some of you, but it isn't second nature to most people.  In fact, most of us who lived pre-Internet times ( I know... seems like cave times), got used to receiving a bill in the mail, writing out our little check, putting a stamp on it and mailing it back with just enough time for it to be processed by the due date.  I know.  I was definitely one of those people.  But, I found such freedom in opting out of receiving any physical bills reminders.  I do everything paperless now and it's great!  How do I manage to remember what's due, when?  I have a bills book.  It's just a little notebook I purchased on sale in which I write my monthly bills, amounts and due dates, every month.  I then check them off as I pay them online.  Easy peasy.  No writing checks.  No buying stamps.  No sending them in the mail and having my bills create any kind of carbon footprint.  It's all done quickly, efficiently and eco-friendly.  Plain and simple.  

How can you opt out of unsolicited junk mail?  Click here for links on where to get your name off of these mailing lists.  I guarantee your mind will feel so much more at ease when checking the mailbox.  Your anxiety levels will decrease and you will feel happier.  No, it doesn't take the bills away.  True.  But, it puts them on your terms.  When you are ready, you open up your little notebook and get them paid on the same day every month (For example, I do payday as my bills day).  You then put your little notebook away and get it out of sight.  Why keep the paper flow of stress and anxiety coming, at will?  Make the change.  Go paperless.  


Friday, June 24, 2016

A Zero-Waste Life

Imagine fitting all of your family's trash,  for the year, into this glass jar.  That is exactly what Zero-Waste movement proponent, Bea Johnson managed to do years ago.  Today, their trash jar has gotten even smaller. Yes. Smaller.  When I first saw a video on YouTube about this lifestyle, I thought... "There is no way.  How in the world?"  But, of course... as with any challenge, I was immediately intrigued.  One of the main reasons that I am vegan is for environmental purposes.  So, the fact that adopting a zero-waste lifestyle would be beneficial to the environment was quite interesting to me.  Of course, I began to read and read and read.  When I get obsessed with a topic, there ain't no stopping me.  I read everything about it and learn it inside and out.  Now, at this point, I'm still doing my research.  But, I wanted to share this movement with you and see if you'd consider it? Would you?  I bought the following Kindle book (because... hello... let's save some trees people!) and I am hooked! It's by Bea Johnson herself and it is titled, Zero Waste Home.  

From what I've read so far, here are some easy tips shared by Bea herself and by a ton of Zero Wasters around the Internet.  Read on... could you do it or are you already doing some of these?

  • Refuse to bring home plastic bags.  Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.  I take about 6 bags with me and they fit a lot more than the plastic ones do anyway.  So... less trips to the car when unloading! Winning!
  • Stop buying water bottles or disposable plastic bottles in general.  Replace with a reusable bottle.  I only drink water. So, this is the bottle I use... click here.  We also keep a Brita pitcher in our fridge. 
  • Aim for buying items in bulk rather than packaged.  We eat a lot of rice.  So, instead of buying packaged rice, I bought in bulk at my local Whole Foods and put it into a cotton bag.  When I brought it home, I poured it into a sealed glass jar. Voila! Rice for days, it looks pretty in our pantry AND it's no packaging to the landfill! Triple winning! Yessssss!
  • Buy second hand FIRST and only buy new when you don't have a choice.  I highly recommend this for things like toys.  Kids get so bored of their toys in such a short amount of time that it feels like such a waste.  Buy consignment and it will be more cost effective and environmentally friendly!
  • If you're a lady... (men close your eyes or skip this section), opt for using a menstrual cup instead of disposable tampons and pads.  It's much more hygienic, cleaner AND doesn't produce a ton of disgusting waste.  The Lily Cup is awesome.  Click here to check it out!
  • Don't throw out those pasta sauce jars! Clean them up and store them for your next grocery trip.  They're terrific for storing food items; using as glassware; storing leftovers or even as toothbrush holders!
  • No more plastic toothbrushes... please.  Opt for bamboo or the Preserve brand.  My daughter uses a bamboo brush.  I currently use a Preserve toothbrush and razor.  However, I plan to switch over to bamboo and a double edge safety razor.  
  • Make it yourself! I'm a HUGE fan of hummus.  A bit too much of a fan.  But, hummus is pricey! Plus, all those plastic containers it comes in.  So, I decided to look at the ingredients and thought... "I could make this myself!" And that's exactly what I did.  SO easy and healthy.  
  • Learn composting!  Don't throw away food waste.  According to "In 2013, we disposed more than 35 million tons of food waste. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change."That's unreal and completely preventable.  Will you take this journey with me?  I don't know about becoming "Bea Johnson" level zero-waste, but I will definitely work on reducing the waste we produce in our household. 
I hope you've been inspired and have learned something new! Have a wonderful and simple weekend.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Design Your Simple Life

So often we let life lead us, instead of the other way around.  Truth is, we really do have a lot more say in it than we give ourselves credit for.  Envision the life you want.  Then work on it daily.  One day, you'll look back and say, "Oh yea.  I dreamt about this.  Now, I'm here.  This is my life!"  It really is that simple.  Designing a simple life is oftentimes about shifting priorities.  Take a good look at where you spend most of your time.  Whatever your answer, that is your number #1 priority.  Is that accurate?  If we spend most of our time at work, then that is our number #1 priority.  It may not be what we want, but it is what it is.  So, how do we begin to redesign our lives? One step at a time.  One decision at a time.  
If faith and family is our number #1 priority then how can we shift things around to spend more time in these two areas?  Now granted, dropping everything and moving into the woods a la Thoreau style is not a feasible alternative for most of us.  But, saying no to one more commitment is.  Leaving the office an hour earlier than our usual overtime is.  Getting up in the morning an hour early to have some time with God or in meditation... is.  Life is what we make it.  The beauty of living a simple life is that it really doesn't require much.  If anything, it requires less.... much less.  Less stuff, less expense, less stress.  Learn to say no today to what doesn't add value and begin to invest your precious time in the things that do.  That is the absolute cornerstone or living simply.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Minimalist's Guide to Skincare

Years ago I stumbled upon an adorable, minimalist skin care, clothing and home boutique shop located in Tampa, FL called Arjuna.  My favorite part of visiting this amazing little shop was meeting its owner, Jennifer.  We immediately began chatting it up and realized we held a lot of the same beliefs and interests.  Today we've both taken on different journeys and Jen can be found running her own beauty studio in beautiful Miami Beach. Her aesthetic is quintessential minimalism, as seen through her Instagram feed.  But, her background and expertise in skincare is what drew me to interview her on behalf of all of you, the readers.  Read, learn, apply, enjoy. 

If you could give us some background information about yourself, your business and what led you to it.

I’ve had an interest in skincare and wellness ever since I can remember, massaging my mom when she was pregnant with my brother, always snooping around in my grandmother's cosmetics, I stopped eating most meats when I was 12, although nobody else in my family is vegetarian & one of my first jobs was at a local health food store, which I loved & still shop in on my trips home. I am very fortunate that I always knew my calling.

I became a licensed esthetician and massage therapist after high school and from there, bounced around throughout the spa and wellness industry while continuing my education to receive my bachelor's in Holistic Medicine. Fast forward to now & I’ve combined all of my education and skills to create Minimal Beauty, which was born from my love of skincare, wellness and the power of human touch.

I perform facials in a spa­like setting but my works goes much deeper than that. I bridge the gap for my clients and help them transition to a truly natural and results driven skin care routine. I’m detoxing their entire skincare routines, including diet and supplement aspects while re­educating them on the importance of simplicity and less being more when it comes to skincare and wellness. The conventional beauty industry of today is purely a marketing industry and I know this because I’ve worked on both sides of the industry. It is full of greenwashing, (creating packaging to look natural when it is not) and the industry swears up and down you need this, that and the third to be beautiful and that could not be further from the truth. I have seen, touched, listened and learned about so many skin problems over the years, the toll this takes on self­esteem and I can honestly say that many skin problems stem from using too many unnecessary and unhealthy products on our skin and the distorted views on beauty that the industry has created.

If one was to choose only one thing to do for our skin, what would your #1 recommendation?

Is 2 #1 recommendations ok? Always cleansing & going to bed with clean skin & definitely protecting your skin daily with a non­chemical sunblock, which would be formulas including zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

Can you walk us through a minimalistic and simple skin care routine for our mornings and evenings?

Absolutely. Cleanse, tone, serum or moisturizer, morning & night, adding your SPF during the day and gentle exfoliation & masquing 2­3 times per week.

The key to a minimalistic skincare routine is finding the correct products for your skin type that you & your skin love. This keeps you from searching for new products, creating product over­load in your bathroom and constantly wasting money on products that don't work, leading to frustration and skin irritations. I do also educate my clients on daytime products vs. nighttime products. Morning routines are to gently wake the skin to prepare and protect it from the outside elements and night­time is to cleanse and treat the skin with your power products such as exfoliators, masques, and specialty products, as our skin is repairing and rebuilding as we sleep. It is not called beauty sleep for no reason.

Where could one buy skin care products that are plant ­based and cruelty free?

Well of course I have a small curated collection on my website that I use in my treatments and for my clients home care prescriptions at and some of my other favorite sites include,, & Trust plays a huge factor in where I shop and recommend to others. These companies philosophies, products and ethics go hand in hand with my own beliefs on skin and self­care and they all offer beautifully created collections of some of the most luxurious, cleanest products on the market today.

Any other recommendations for our skin care regimen? For instance... are facials really necessary? If so, how often would you recommend them? Etc…

Of course I always recommend drinking an adequate amount of water & eating clean for optimal skin health. Fish oil & turmeric are my favorite internal skin recommendations. Fish oils provide hydration from the inside out, as well as anti­inflammatory properties, which also why I recommend the very well known anti­inflammatory turmeric.
Inflammation is a major root cause of many skin conditions, from acne to skin sensitivities and even wrinkles.

I know that facials are a necessity for optimal skin health and I see the difference they create in people's skin. Each treatment I perform is always tailored to your skin needs the day of your visit. Seasons change, diets change, stress levels fluctuate, we travel, etc so whatever you skin needs that day is what I provide.

My treatments are extremely relaxing, detailed oriented and each manipulation and movement I perform serves a purpose. We hold so much tension in our faces, especially in our jaws and between the eyes. This creates energy and blood stagnation which can lead to lackluster and dull complexions. I recently started opening each of my facials by oil cleansing, which starts detoxing and drawing impurities from the skin, in combination with gua­sha massage, an ancient asian inspired technique that uses a tool made from the jade stone to open and activate the energy meridians throughout the face. This releases tension, blood and is extremely relaxing, which really opens up and stimulates the skin so the entire process of the facial is received on a more awakened level. From there, I customize the products needed for a deep pore cleansing and each treatment always includes a lot of upper body and facial massage. This area is huge for our lymphatic system, especially for women, as it is important for breast health to keep our lymph circulating and detoxing throughout our upper bodies. Massage not only feels wonderful but it is extremely lifting, anti­aging, anti­congesting and the perfect way to relax. Gentle extractions are always included in each treatment as well.

Our skin cells turnover on a 28 day cycle so every 4­6 weeks is ideal but I always respect how often clients are able to come in for treatments and have also created packages to help clients with all of their needs if that is a better route for them. Peels, micro­needling and more advanced treatments, bookings are much closer together, some as close to 2 weeks, as we are usually focusing on alleviating some type of scarring, acne, wrinkles etc. and once results are achieved, we stay on the 4­6 week plan. For my super minimal clients, I do recommend coming in for each season change, it is the perfect time to treat your skin to a detoxifying facial and to re­evaluate your home care routines for any upcoming weather
changes. I’m all for preventive care!

All science and product knowledge aside, the power of human touch is such a gift and if you look at the history of ancient beauty, women used to spend all day together at the hammam and it is how we bonded. I enjoy every moment of working on my clients, I am always humbled knowing that their hour with me may be the only hour of relaxation they have had all week or month. As women, we are nurturers and it is important to let go and let someone do the same for us, which always creates that glow from the inside out.

Also, what is your view on make up for women?  What should we be doing without for the health of our skin?

I love the editorial and creative aspect of dramatic make­up in magazines & photography but I’m definitely a natural beauty fan for everyday looks. My goal is always to help my clients achieve skin they love, which then calls for very little, if any, skin make­up, as they are no longer trying to hide or conceal their skin.

I don't think we need to go without when it comes to make­up but of course, I am an advocate for clean make­up just as much as I am skincare products. Luckily there are some gorgeous make­up lines on the market today created without harsh chemicals, tars, dyes, etc that I am in love with & highly recommend such as RMS cosmetics, ILIA Beauty & W3ll People.

Thank you for answering our questions Jen! We sincerely appreciate all of your advice.  If you are interested in learning more about how to book a session with Jen or you just want to check out her awesome website, please visit Minimal Beauty or click here for more.