A Brunch with Nature, Paris & Miami's Bloggers.

You know those moments when your home drinking an organic Pinot Noir going over your work emails and suddenly you see an e-invite and can’t help it but smile? Well, as a lifestyle blogger I tend to receive a few of those every week and, even though you would think I would attend every single one just for the fun of it, I try to follow a guideline I created when I started WTS. You see…a little more than a year ago, I made myself the promise of never promoting a brand or company I don’t believe in or don’t see fit with the WTS conscious concept. And attached to that promise, comes a long research I perform before I RSVP to events or say yes to working with certain brands. I applied that same process to The Creative’s Loft’ e-invite. Let’s start by stating that it was the cutest and most well designed invitation in the history of invitations…like EVER! Secondly, if you live in Miami, you’ve probably already heard of Adrienne and her company The Creative’s Loft but… in case you haven’t…she designs and organizes unique, beautiful, vivid and breathtaking events in Miami through which she’s able to transport all guests to an Avatar world full of life! Every corner. Every detail. Every flower. Every napkin. So of course, when I got the invite I immediately jumped out of my chair, and even higher when I found out the event was meant to bring Miami’s top bloggers together for a morning of mimosas, croissants and beauty. The theme: Paris! The beauty brand they wanted to introduce to us: Nuxe. Now…I’m going to be straight honest and admit I had never heard of Nuxe even though it’s one of France’s best selling beauty brands. For that reason, and before I could yell YES to the invite, I decided to go to my dear friend Google for some help. There are two things I always ask Google when researching a beauty brand: 1) does it test on animals? (most beauty and cleaning brands test their products on animals) 2) is it natural? (whatever you put on your skin goes directly into your bloodstream).  And to my surprise, Nuxe is not only natural and cruelty-free but its brand name is the combination of “Nature” and “Luxury”!  Two things I try to inspire through WTS! That right there said it all. At least that’s what I thought until I found myself sitting at the Gale Hotel’s rooftop surrounded by Miami’s bloggers listening to Nuxe’s brand representatives tell us how their best selling product-  The Huile Prodigieuse Body Oil- is made from 6 plant-based oils and can be used on our skin, hair and nails.  And there I thought the word “Nuxe” had made me smile as big as possible. Little did I know this Parisian Beauty brunch would give my cheeks some exercise! Honestly guys. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling throughout the 3-hour event! From the colorful flower stand next to a green bike at the rooftop’s entrance, to the mimosas we were welcomed with, to the inspiring women all together choosing to bond with each other rather than seeing one another as competition, to these natural and cruelty-free beauty oils, lotions and anti-aging products. Wow! Wow! Wow! To more planet-loving and inspiring events like this. Please!!! Xx

Ps: I also received a goodie bag with 6 Nuxe products!! Can’t wait to share the details with you on instagram and snapchat!

Ps2: In case you are wondering, I wore boho floral pants that give back to kids in Africa and artisans in Indonesia by MettaLovingKindness, and a vegan leather clutch by Stella McCartney.

Not your ordinary Holiday gift inspiration!

It's that time of the year again guys!!! Lights everywhere, people singing, stores getting crowded, and money "mysteriously" flying out of our wallets like free birds. And don't even get me started on the post-Holiday remorse we get once the credit card bill hits home! But what if we could give all that shopping a meaning other than showing affection towards our loved ones? What if we could help our planet with every dollar? And no, I don't mean making a donation on someone else's behalf (even though I love that type of gift, most people don't appreciate it!). This type of giving involves your loved ones getting their awesome gifts while your Benjamin Franklins make a difference in our planet. Yeap! All that is very much possible! I’ve been doing it for 2 years now, not only for the Holidays but every day, by looking for and shopping eco-friendly and charity-loving brands. To save you guys the hours of research, here are some of the gifts I have in mind this year. I hope you like them as much as I do! <3

 

Sunnies: ever thought about buying cool shades that give eye-care to people in need? Well, these are it! For women and men. TOMS is revolutionizing they way we shop completely!

Bags: Let’s be honest ladies…we can never have enough bags in our closet. Something that makes me truly happy though, is receiving a vegan and eco-friendly bag that looks like actual leather but is made from recycled plastic bottles and other cruelty-free materials. Here are some great options. For women and men (briefcases).

Scarves: Now this brand has me completely head over heels! Scarves that are not only fashionable but are blessed with 4 knots in each corner representing Love, Adventure, Happiness and Mystery AND also give back big time! For each one you purchase, the owner (Matt) designs a blessed blankie for homeless children and doggie beds for homeless dogs.

Winter Booties: This topic is HUGE!!! I’m sure you’ve all heard of UGGS but did you know there’s an overload of cruelty behind them? Even though they are made from wool and companies have painted and sold us this peaceful and beautiful picture of men and sheep hugging while they are being shed, reality is…THAT IS NOT THE CASE! Sheep get tortured and suffer tremendously with some of them bleeding to death because of the brusque treatment. Click here to read more. Fortunately, Pammies have come to the rescue! These incredibly soft and comfy booties are made from recycled polyester, TV screens and other vegan and eco-friendly materials!!

Cruelty-free & Natural Makeup: In case you babes didn’t know, most beauty products are not only toxic but also tested on animals in horrendous ways. Therefore, I’m always looking for natural and kinder alternatives and Tarte fits this concept completely. Most of my makeup is by Tarte. Plus, their packaging designs are flawless!

Clothing with a heart: This brand does not only have fabulous day-to-day essentials with cool designs but they are all fairtrade and provide school uniforms to girls in Nepal for each clothing piece sold! This tee is by far my fave! It helps victims of Nepal’s earthquake too.

Eco Yoga mats: For all yoga and planet-lovers, this is a must! JadeYoga produces yoga mats entirely made from renewable tree rubber with amazing colors AND plant a tree for every mat purchased!

Eco Skateboard: Now this is what I like to call “flying through the streets without leaving a trace”! These skateboards are made from ocean waste (recycled fishing net), vegetable oil and more.

Diamonds: Who doesn’t like jewelry? Specially when it’s the type of design that involves ethical diamonds and charities that educate and empower women! Unleashed diamonds is reshaping the diamond industry BIG time! (PS: Santa.. I want this necklace please!!! ;) )

Reclaimed Wood Clock that plants trees: This entire store has incredible products made from recycled materials and plants trees for each one bought.

Eco coffee mug: I have this one at home and LOVE it! It is made from bamboo and keeps the temperature of your tea or coffee hot for hours!!

Make it yourself: In my opinion, there’s nothing that shows more dedication and love than a gift that is actually made by the person who gives it to you. I saw this little baby and thought it was a cute and delicate gift idea or even home décor. All you need is a mason jar, gold paint, and a plant.

 

 

 

Graduated as a Raw Vegan Chef!!

I owed you guys this post! …My last week at Matthew Kenney Culinary in Venice, California. It took me so long to write it because that week I was honestly focused on studying for the written final and on preparing a 3-course raw vegan menu for the second part of the final!! My mind was solely thinking about that menu but turns out I did great! I aced both finals but more importantly, I had the BEST time of my life! Besides learning how to make eye-seductive and delicious recipes that are kind to our planet and humanity, I also got to meet the most incredible and inspiring souls during those 4 weeks. So, if you’re planning on taking this course, be prepared to have a blast creating healthy food-art while laughing at every joke your classmates or the Chefs throw at you. And, to make my last week even more memorable, Nov 19th not only marked Finals day but also my 28th birthday!!! Yeap! It’s that time of the year again. J Right after we finished presenting our dishes to the Chefs and our loved ones (you get to take your friends and family with you), I got surprised with a delicious Chlorella cake topped with chocolate and ice cream. All vegan, organic and made at the MK’s restaurant! No words to describe how good it was. All I can say is, some of us almost licked the plate clean!!

OK, now back to MCK. These are the recipes we made and the menu I prepared for my final. Each of us needed to write a 3-course menu but only execute and present 2 of those dishes. I made a spinach-carrot cream with avocados topped with a truffle oil foam and smoked paprika for the appetizer, and raw vegan Arroz con Leche topped with white chocolate for dessert. Thoughts? <3

PS: I'm officially a Raw Vegan Chef! How about that for my 28th birthday?!!

PS2: Don’t forget you guys can still sign up for MKC’s classes in LA, Miami, Thailand, Maine or even online! They have one every month! Use code “waterthruskin” for a 15% discount. Email admissions@matthewkenneycuisine.com

Raw vegan food....Is it the third week already?!

Wow guys. This Matthew Kenney Cuisine course is slowly coming to an end with a bittersweet taste. On one hand, I'm truly excited to graduate but on the other hand I'm not ready to let go of the amazing people I've met, our Chefs, or the kitchen where we made colorful magic happen. I'm honestly already meditating about taking Level 2 next year. How about you? Any of you interested in learning more about the healing power of raw vegan food or the infinite recipes that will change the way you view food? If so, I have some great news for you!!! If you reserve your spot for December or next year before the end of 2015, you can get 15% off your tuition with the code "WaterThruSkin". Just email admissions@matthewkenneycuisine.com with your information, the course you would like to take, and the discount code. You can take it at any of their locations (Miami, LA, Maine, Thailand!). Like Christmas in November! ;)

Now, back to cuisine this week we learned how to make raw vegan cheeses, water kefir, buckwheat granola, raw vegan chocolate, coconut yogurt, tiramisu, zucchini tartare and other yummy recipes! Let's start with the vegan cheeses. Who knew they could taste so good! We also learned how to create our own flavors by adding or replacing some ingredients from MKC's original cheese recipe. I made a shiitake & black pepper cheese and then a "brie" cheese topped with a raspberry & basil sauce. (If you decide to take the course, this is one of your exams. Cheese plating!)

Buckwheat granola. Even though this might sound common and simple, this granola is very different, starting with the buckwheat ingredient instead of oatmeal. Buckwheat has more protein and nutrients than oats. We also learned how to make coconut yogurt from scratch and I layered it with the granola, some raspberries, bananas, pomegranate and agave.

And one of my favorites: Zucchini Avocado Tartare. I don't know what it is about this recipe...maybe it's the colors and flavors, or the avocado or the fact that it's so easy to make, but I could honestly eat this every day! Avocado, Zucchini, lemon juice, olive oil and flowers. Simple yet refreshingly delicious!

Last but not least, we also visited the Farmers Market in Santa Monica as a class to get any extra ingredients we wanted for our cheese plate exam. The Farmers Market is a few blocks long and absolutely wonderful!! You'll get to see and taste exotic veggies, fruits and herbs you might have never seen or heard of before like Buddha's fingers or the light pink raspberries (combination of the orange and red ones). How about that!? <3

Stay tuned for the next post on Monday (and the final one since graduation is this Friday!!) about MKC.

To read about my Week 1 and 2 at MKC, click here.

To see some recipes, click here. I'll also be sharing some more in the next few days. xoxo

 

Second week of yummy green knowledge!

Last Friday marked the end of our second week at Matthew Kenney Culinary. We still have two more to go and the best recipes are yet to be covered: Raw vegan cheeses and chocolate!!! How about that?! For every soul outthere who uses "addiction to cheese and chocolate" as a reason not to go vegan, that excuse has reached its expiration date my friends. NO VALIDA anymore! Honestly guys... possibilities are endless! We can pretty much make any non-vegan recipe vegan and even raw vegan.

A few things you should know about MKC's Raw Vegan Cuisine courses:

-You don't have to be a raw vegan or vegan (there's probably only two or three vegan students out of the 12 of us in class), a food expert, or a Chef (I've never taken a cooking class in my life!) to take this course. You just have to have the right attitude and be serious about it since you'll be surrounded by people who are actually looking to become Chefs. You are expected to wear your Chef uniform at all times, have your hair tied up and nails clean (no polish), do dishes, clean your station and be present in class every day from 8-2. Yes! You are a student again and expected to show respect towards your teachers and classmates, and take exams almost every Friday. I know I know... I freaked out too but the minute we started going over the recipes and the MKC methodology I immediately knew I had made the right choice. 

Let's start with the MKC methodology: 

-A raw vegan cuisine course (no animal bi-products are used and no ingredient is heated over 115F to preserve enzymes and nutrients)

-Any leftovers of ingredients or recipes you don't want to take home go directly into the compost bin, which is later given to the school across the street to be used for their soil. 

-MKC works only with local farmers

-EVERYTHING is made from scratch (nothing processed, chemical or toxic)

-Colors are everything & you can create masterpieces on your plate (my favorite part!)

-Their restaurant "Plant Food & Wine" (below the MKC "lab" on Abbot Kinney) grows its own herbs and flowers.

And I could go on for hours but let's just leave it at Matthew Kenney Culinary had me at hello! 

Something else I've practiced a lot throughout the past two weeks is meditation/patience, discipline and "ahimsa". Three things I was not expecting to encounter while cooking. The whole discipline concept starts with me getting up every day around 5.30/6am. I haven't done that since I left the corporate world almost 8 months ago! To be honest, a part of me is loving it! I get to enjoy my morning coffee in LA's cold sunrise temperatures, walk Coco around Venice, practice yoga, make myself a Vanilla Chai vegan protein shake, and then head out to class, which is only an 8-minute walk from where I'm staying. Now, meditation and patience...two tricky words that are inseperable. I had my first encounter with patience the day we were told we would have to practice our knife skills (and exact cut measurements) on veggies and fruits for 60 minutes. Right there I knew it! Patience would be key. And the beautiful part about patience is that, once you've accepted and befriended it, meditation follows and takes over your body out of the blue. Specially in cuisine where you NEED to be fully present while cutting, cooking and plating. If you are not there- patiently- and you don't connect with the veggies, fruits, colors, and scents not only will you be missing an incredible experience but you won't be able achieve the results you are looking for. 

And lastly, "ahimsa". As most of you yogis might know, "ahimsa" means non-harm in Sanskrit. And believe it or not, is the name I've given my knife. I've realized that if I treat my knife  (above all its blade) with proper care, respect and love, it will show the same respect, love and care towards me. As crazy and funny as it may sound, I haven't cut myself a single time throughout the past two weeks. Let's hope this love affair grows strong! 

Now that I've covered all those points, here are some of the recipes I learned last week. :) 

xoxo

ps: To read more about Week 1 at MKC or to find out more about their courses, click here.


Between watches.... eco-friendly & spiritual.

You might be looking at these photos going all “what the hell?!” on me. Yes, two are beautiful wood watches that SHOWS TIME, while the other one is an arm-piece based on the whole concept of living in the moment and stealing time back! And YES, the three of them have become my everyday companions! You see, my life is a little more complicated than any 27 year old’s. My lifestyle is no black and white but it’s the lifestyle that is shaded with multi colors and sprinkled with glitter. Monday through Friday I'm usually running between meetings for the blog (except for now that I'm taking a raw vegan 4-week cooking course from 8-2) for which I need to know time. I need a watch that keeps me on schedule and either rushes me or gives me a second to relax and work on my Uyaji breath. That brings us to the “other me”. The “me” after meetings and during weekends. The “me” that became a yoga teacher, the “me” that is vegan, the “me” that has been involved in philanthropy since the age of 16 and shops brands that are sustainable and give back… the “me” that started this blog to make a difference. For that part of my lifestyle I need my NOW arm-piece. It’s my reminder that once I'm done with work, time ceases to exist. It’s all about the moment. My yoga practice. My family. My friends. My dog. This blog. Me! Time loses significance and Timebandit’s NOW arm-piece serves as a reminder for the moments I forget to be present and to just simple be… be there and be one with everything and everyone that surrounds me.

Now, less about me and more about these amazing products.

WeWood & Jord Wood Watches: Let’s cut to the chase. We’ve all seen products made out of wood in today’s market, right? I don’t know about you guys but I’ve always wondered how they could be called “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” if trees are being cut down to make these products. Well, these two brands had my answer.

JORD Watches: It focuses on sustainability, efficiency, and experiential living. A brand that designs and creates watches with a value that goes far beyond the ability to tell how much times has passed. This brand's watches are not only setting a new level for wood watches but are also all about making time count! To JORD, "moments are bigger than minutes and a watch should tell more than time." All designs are made from different sustainable wood parts and have enough elegance to be worn to meetings or on any casual day. The Dover Koa & Black is my favorite one and has become my weekday must! It came with a beautiful wood box too, which I'm using as my jewelry box. Click here to receive a $20 gift card to buy yourself a Jord Wood Watch. :)

WeeWood: This brand uses reclaimed wood that is more than 20 years old and is 100% recycled to make the most delicate, fashionable, sporty AND elegant watches and sunglasses out there. And, as if not cutting trees to make wood products was not beautiful enough, WeWood plants a tree for every product sold! WeWood is all about the design with a green heart for every personality. What can be better than that? 

Timebandit’s Steal Time Back: These jewels! I never imagined I would find a product so simple yet with a powerful concept. Living in the moment is everything. If you are present, you feel and breathe and drink and taste every detail that is happening in front you. These arm-pieces serve as our daily reminder that sometimes we just have to let go and live! Live every second to the fullest without focusing on the fact that another second has passed us by. And, like all the brands I choose to write about, this one loves to give back too… in a big way! 50% of their profits goes to help children in need. So, what are you guys waiting for? Get your own “Time” machine, be present, and give back at the same time. I’m thinking of getting one for each of my family members and those I love, but shhh… it’s a surprise. Don’t tell anyone! ;) 

The Art of Raw Vegan Food

Hello from LA!!

As you guys might've already seen on my Instagram, I've relocated to LA to take my love towards animals and our earth to the next level by taking Matthew Kenney's Culinary 4-week raw vegan course. Week 1 is over and this has honestly been an eyeopening and wonderful experience already! Not only because I'm learning the powerful basics of a raw plant-based diet and the healing power of foods but also because throughout the past week I've discovered a side of me I didn't know existed. A creative side. After spending 5 years working in the Private Banking industry and 4 years studying International Business in college, I was taught to see (and was used to seeing) life in numbers. Everything was either black or white, even when it came to cooking. Until now! It's been only 7 days and I have learned to get out of my comfort zone and dare to play with ingredients and colors fearlessly. I've also discovered that plating is a big factor when it comes to serving food. Even if you're cooking and serving it for yourself. Believe it or not, besides food being our medicine (or slowest form of poison), the way we serve it can very much brighten up our day or sadden it. Since day 1 at MKC, we've learned to combine colorful raw ingredients like beets, carrots, cabbage, microgreens and beautiful flowers that have managed to open up my mind to a new blissful side of gastronomy. Not to mention the mouthwatering flavors of the recipes we've been preparing. I'm sharing a few pictures of the recipes I made during the past few days in the hopes that I get you a little excited about raw vegan food, but most of all, excited about getting out that comfort zone and trying new things. Specially, cooking consciously. For your health and the future of our planet. I'll also keep sharing more details of this course with you as the weeks go by but, in the meantime, you can find out more by visiting www.matthewkenneycuisine.com

PS: I've never EVER taken a cooking class and somehow managed to create the dishes below, so there's really no such excuse as "I could never do that". I'm literally starting from 0 here too and possibilities are endless. You just have to believe, let go and have fun! :)

*In case you guys don't know, raw cuisine is just like veganism- in the sense that no animal products of any kind are consumed- but goes a step further by not cooking anything above 118F to preserve the enzymes and nutrients of each ingredient. Like the name says it, everything is "Raw", unprocessed and made from scratch. 

   How we start every morning. Knife skills.&nbsp;Best part of it is that we juice every ingredient and enjoy fresh and organic veggie &amp; fruit juices every day! :)

 

How we start every morning. Knife skills. Best part of it is that we juice every ingredient and enjoy fresh and organic veggie & fruit juices every day! :)

   Raw vegan Zucchini Lasagna with Macadamia Ricotta,&nbsp;Red Pepper-Sundried Tomato Marinara, and Pistachio Pesto.&nbsp;

 

Raw vegan Zucchini Lasagna with Macadamia Ricotta, Red Pepper-Sundried Tomato Marinara, and Pistachio Pesto. 

   Veggie Hand Rolls with Spicy Mango Chutney.&nbsp;

 

Veggie Hand Rolls with Spicy Mango Chutney. 

   Red Beet Ravioli with Cashew Cheese, Pistachios &amp; Bell Pepper Puree.&nbsp;

 

Red Beet Ravioli with Cashew Cheese, Pistachios & Bell Pepper Puree. 

   Kale Cesar Salad with Sunflower Dressing &amp;&nbsp;Shiitake Anchovies.

 

Kale Cesar Salad with Sunflower Dressing & Shiitake Anchovies.

   Sushi roll with Jicama Rice, Shiitake Mushrooms &amp; Chipotle Mayo.&nbsp;

 

Sushi roll with Jicama Rice, Shiitake Mushrooms & Chipotle Mayo. 

Miami Vegan Restaurants that will blow your mind and palate!

This post is dedicated to all my Miami soulmates and to every tourist who comes to Miami and wishes to try something new. Something delicious. Something different. Something that will feel like an explosion of flavors on your palate. These two plantbased spots will leave you craving for more. 

1) Full Bloom Vegan Cuisine: Besides its perfect oceanfront location, Full Bloom offers a lunch and dinner menu delicately created to leave every vegan and non-vegan speechless! Seriously guys! I took my non-vegan best friend and photographer with me and she could not believe what she was tasting. From plantbased veggie burgers to zucchini spaghetti with pesto, to chocolate crepes! Full Bloom's menu will open your eyes and mind to a side of a plantbased diet you never imagined and will rapidly wash away the idea that vegans can't have it all. ;)

2) R+D Pop Up by Jugo Fresh: Like its name says it, this was a pop up that lasted only a few months but I had the pleasure of enjoying their mouthwatering dinner and brunch menu. Chef Paco and the Jugo Fresh team took ordinary recipes everyone loves to a whole new level by adding the plantbased and superfood touch to them. In case you guys haven't heard, Jugo Fresh has 9 locations in South Florida and is about to add juice stands at different Whole Foods locations too! Even though R+D Pop Up closed its doors to the public a few days ago, you can still visit Jugo Fresh's locations and submerge yourselves in delicious cold pressed juices, superfood smoothies and more. Plus, don't forget to try their new Moringa products: "The Truth" and "Milagrito". Moringa is a tree leaf with 2.5x more iron than spinach, 17x more calcium than milk, 0.75x more Vitamin C than oranges, 4x more protein than eggs, and 15x more potassium than bananas!!!

Au Naturel is always better: Natural gum, coconut oil deodorant & cosmetic bag that gives back!

As I promised you guys, Tuesday's of every week will be dedicated to talking about beauty & health products that are REALLY good for you while also being INCREDIBLY kind to our planet. Three of those products, and the ones I carry in my purse at all times, are "Simply Gum", "Agent Nateur" and Iniva's cosmetic bag. Now, you might be wondering what makes these products different from the commercial ones you see everywhere. Let's start with the most basic one and a daily need in every gum-lover's life. G U M. I bet you didn't know that the ordinary chewing gum you see on every grocery store shelve is filled with artificial and harmful ingredients just like the ones used to manufacture car tires, plastic bottles, white glue, and artificial sweeteners. Sadly, we as consumers are being kept in the dark about which ingredients companies use because the FDA allows gum brands to hide up to 80 synthetic ingredients in the catch-all term "gum base" on the label. How pathetic, confusing and frustrating is that? Specially when, according to research, about 56% of the US population consumes gum giving birth to an industry that generates over $4.3 billion in sales every year!! That also means that more than 178 million Americans are consuming toxic ingredients in their daily minty chewy candy without even knowing. Believe it or not, that includes me as well. I had no idea about this until I started doing more research and came across a fabulous, 100% natural, biodegradable and organic gum brand called: "Simply Gum". This work of genius comes in 6 different flavors- mint, coffee, maple, cinnamon (my fave), ginger, fennel licorice (my 2nd fave)- and is made from the following 6 ingredients: all natural chicle, organic dried cane juice, organic vegetable glycerin, organic sunflower lecithin, organic rice flour and natural flavors. Not to mention that their packaging design is made to perfection (clean, simple and natural!) and carries 15 yummy gum pieces with "post chew paper wraps" for whenever you are done chewing. (See pics below) How BRILLIANT is that? A definite must-have in your pocket or bag. The box of 6 is around $14. A lucky winner will get the chance to win one of the flavors in October's giveaway along with 4 other vegan and natural products. Stay tuned for details in October!

Next is Agent Nateur. The reason why this product made it to my MUST HAVE list is because it has taken me forever to find a 100% natural deodorant that is free of GMO's, parabens, sulfates, aluminum and petroleum while also having a delicious and captivating scent. The ingredients used in this wonderful creation are: coconut oil (nourishes skin and also acts as a bacteria killer), avocado butter, raw honey (NOT for vegans who avoid using honey bi-products), and lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. It smells delicious and comes in a clean, stylish, vogue-looking and beautiful packaging. And of course, this brand does not test on animals. :) (If you haven't heard of animal testing, click here to find out and always look for products labeled as "cruelty-free", "vegan" or "no animal testing".) The 1.7oz sells for $19 and a lucky winner will get the chance to win one in October's giveaway along with 4 other products. Stay tuned for details in October! 

And last but not least, Iniva's cosmetic bag. This store is located in Wynwood (Miami, FL) and is slowly changing the way Floridians and tourists view fashion. With a colorful and Africa-oriented store, Iniva promotes and sells products that are not only eye-catching, unique and fashionable but also support African artisans and help children go to school.


Vegan Protein & Beauty Essentials

Part of a cruelty-free and plantbased lifestyle is making sure we are getting the right amount of daily protein as well as buying and using products that will not harm our bodies. Something I didn't know until a year ago was that everything we put on our skin goes directly into our bloodstream. Thus, it doesn't matter if we're exercising everyday and eating lots of veggies and fruits if we're still using beauty and health products that have chemicals in them. Rule of thumb: if it's hard to pronounce, don't get it! Natural and organic products are 99% of the time made from fruits, veggies, herbs, grains and natural oils whose names we should be very familiar with since they are part of our diets! :) They key is to ALWAYS READ LABELS and keep an eye out for brands that LOVE to label products as "natural" and "organic" when they only have 1 or 2 natural and organic ingredients mixed with tons of harmful ones. For that reason, I've decided to dedicate this post to talking about two important brands in my vegan-yogi lifestyle: VEGA One Nutritional (Protein) Shakes, and Vitruvi Aromatherapy Oils. 

As a strictly plantbased eater who is always on the run, I have to make sure I feed my body with the right amount of nutrients. Since I also exercise (run and yoga) on a daily basis, research suggests I take 1-1.5g of protein per kg of body weight. VEGA One gives me that and much more! A scoop of it has 20g of kind and vegan protein with approximately 6 servings of greens (it's made from 3 cups of broccoli, kale, spirulina and chlorella), 50% of my daily vitamin and mineral intake (from fruits and veggies), 25% of my daily fiber intake (6g of soluble and insoluble fiber), 1.5g of Omegas (essential fatty acids from flaxseed and hemp (same amount as 2 servings of salmon except no fish got killed here!), antioxidants, 1 billion probiotics (same as 1 cup of yogurt) and no sugar added (only stevia). How about that?! Not to mention that their flavors are incredibly delicious! The ones I use on my morning smoothies are Chocolate or French Vanilla and add on fruits, almond milk, maca and more superfoods which you’ve seen me share on my morning snapchats. Vega One has honestly been a life-saver, guys. Just by adding one shake to my everyday diet gives me the relief and assurance I need of knowing I'm getting at least half of my daily protein intake and almost all (if not all) the nutritional supplements I need. After that, I can enjoy a delicious plantbased lunch and dinner without having to measure my quinoa, kale or spinach intake. You know what I mean! ;) 

Vitruvi Aromatherapy Oils are another product I want to cover today because yoga and natural medicine play a big role in my life. In short, Vitruvi is taking aromatherapy oils to a whole new level. From its products' clean and beautiful design to the natural ingredients they use which are sourced globally but blended by hand in Canada. It uses only high grade essential oils bottled in environmentally friendly packaging. As if that were not enough, Vitruvi is also 100% against animal testing and is dedicated to the preservation of culture and providing healthcare in developing countries. Now, let's talk about the 4 oils I've been using on a daily basis for the past few days. 

-Move: "A refreshing complex of oils blended to promote circulation". It is made from sweet almond oil, apricot oil, castor oil, bergamot, grapefruit, black pepper, peppermint and lime. On the days I'm on a run, I apply it on my wrists and collarbone before leaving the house and take deep breaths in of that refreshing scent. I repeat it as much as needed :) 

-Energize: As the name says it, it's meant to energize your senses with its perfect combination of lemon, pine and Egyptian Geranium. I use it every time I'm lacking energy or feeling a little down. I also use it prior to my yoga practice.

-Focus: For those days I need an extra boost to focus on the task at hand and be productive, I use "Focus". Its wonderful blend of Rosemary, Basil and Lemongrass promotes mental clarity, focus and relieves your mind from any fatigue you might be experiencing.

-Sleep: Last but not least, "Sleep". We all know how important a good rest is, specially for the ones who don't fall asleep easily like me. This oil is meant to slowly but surely act as a sedative by reducing stress and calming the mind. It is made from Chamomile, Lavender and Vetiver. I apply it on my wrists before calling it a night and breathe deeply.

I hope you babes find these products as useful, kind, healthy and beautiful as I do. Happy Hump Day!

xoxo

Must-see Movies That Will Change Your Life.

A question I get asked often is what movies/documentaries I recommend to people making the shift to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Movies that will inspire them to continue in that path or open their minds to topics they've never heard of before. I decided to cover this question today in honor of Racing Extinction's movie premier and because my eco-trip to Holbox, Mexico, and the experience I had of swimming with whale sharks in open waters was so mind-blowing and heart-stopping that I promised myself I would go beyond my ways (even further!) to spread the word about animal cruelty and what we can do to stop it. So, I've attached a video of that magnificent experience in Mexico. It's a must for every animal lover and adventure seeker. No need to swim with dolphins, seals and whales in captivity. That's for people who don't admire or treasure life and freedom. Go out there, breathe the salty air and swim in the wilderness. Admire it. Protect it. At least what's left of it. xx

In short, these are documentaries every person who cares a little about our planet should watch. And I know you guys do because... you...are...reading...this! That means you are already looking for kinder and more mindful ways of walking on this planet. Thank you for that. Honestly! <3

-"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian" by Paul McCartney and Peta. I've talked about this film dozens of times. It changed my life and made me go vegetarian and later vegan.

-"Cowspiracy": I wrote an entire story about this film on the blog a year ago when it came out. Click here to read it. In summary, this film makes you realize that being vegan is not only about your compassion towards animals but it’s also about sustainability. It’s about helping stop one of the most destructive industries facing our planet today: factory farming.

-"True Cost": A documentary that will completely change the way you view fashion and hopefully inspire you to shop more consciously. Choosing brands carefully. People's lives can be saved one fashion item at a time. 

-"Racing Extinction": It's on selected theaters NOW!!! Sept 18-Oct 1! Go watch it! I know I will. Spread the word. 

Why vegan?! Q&A with an expert and teacher: Lorena Mucke.

Ok. So…as you can see… it’s been a while since I last wrote an actual “blog” post. Most of the thoughts and stories I’ve written on the site have been related to my eco trips, cruelty-free fashion and vegan food but not so much on the little details that help us deal with our day to day life. Vegan or vegetarian life, that is! ;)  Thus, in order to catch up on not posting helpful things for a while, I decided to interview a person who- even though I haven’t gotten the chance to meet in person yet- has taught me plenty through her social media. She is a zoologist and humane educator with a graduate degree in Ecology and Sustainable Development, and runs the Ethical Choices Program in Atlanta, GA. This is a non-profit project that aims at empowering high-school and college students to make thoughtful and responsible lifestyle decisions. Every year she gives about 200 presentations reaching thousands of students and inspiring them to make lifestyle changes physically, spiritually, psychologically, socially and culturally. She’s been doing this for the past 10 years now. How admirable is that?! So yes, I’m incredibly happy and proud to share this interview I did with Lorena Mucke. I hope you guys enjoy it and find it as useful as I did. xoxo

WATERTHRUSKIN

Vegalicious Q&A with

Lorena Mucke

What inspired you to teach school/college kids and the world about the importance of a vegan diet?

It was the tremendous lack of awareness about the reality of the animal agriculture industry and their lack of compassion for animals, their lack of integrity toward consumers and their total disregard for the environment. 

I realized that teens are a group that is very vulnerable. They are trying to make sense of their surroundings, they want to belong, to be accepted and they actually want to change to world. Teens are very compassionate! Sadly, it’s society that teaches them to harden their hearts.

What are the reactions you get after your presentations?

Humane education is effective in planting seeds of compassion and mindfulness. Change usually happens gradually and as a humane educator I need to be mindful of this.  Pressuring people, judging people and criticizing them doesn’t work.

I encourage teens and teachers not to give up. I encourage them to believe in who they truly are and offer them tools that can help them make mindful choices and be agents of change. They learn they cannot be perfect, but they also learn that they can do their best to the best of their abilities considering their individual circumstances.

Many of these teens are not familiar at all with the term “vegan”, and are completely unaware of the inherent cruelty of the animal agriculture industry. By far, the great majority of these teens have no idea that it’s possible to live a healthy, joyful, normal life without eating animals. But they learn it’s possible. They learn that they can reduce massive cruelty, help restore the environment and be healthier. They are exposed to a reality they didn’t know it existed and they get to ask any question they want about animal agriculture and its relationship to health, the environment and our own humanity. These teens are treated with respect and their feelings are validated. They are not judged or criticized for their choices, but they are encouraged to develop their sense of compassion, justice, stewardship and integrity.

These last 10 years we’ve seen the transformation of many of these teens and their teachers. Many of these students and teachers have gone vegetarian or vegan, and in turn have influenced their families, friends and even their communities. 

I’d like to note that after giving thousands of presentations, and visiting dozens and dozens of schools (showing what people would view as graphic and controversial material) I’m invited back year after year. Only one school in these 10 years of activism has asked me not to come back. It think this shows that people want to know and are tired of being lied to. The need is great and the time is prime.

How long ago did you go vegan? And why?

Ten years ago, I went vegan after learning some of the most obscure and egregious cruelty of the egg and dairy industries, such as the grinding up of male chicks, the fact that cows are pregnant year after year, and that their babies are taken away from them causing tremendous grief to them and their mothers.

Did you first go vegetarian or vegan? Do you feel that going vegetarian first makes it easier to transition later on to a vegan diet?

Like many people, I went vegetarian first. I had enrolled as an Animal Science major at Texas A&M University and during my freshman year I came face to face to with the brutality of the animal agriculture industry. I witnessed animals being mutilated (dehorned, castrated, etc.) and also slaughtered. I realized then that I didn’t want to support such injustice and exploitation and went vegetarian. I also changed majors and graduated as a Zoologist.

I must say that that first year in college was one of the most disturbing times of my life, but nonetheless I’m deeply grateful for that time because it re-awakened my compassion and helped me align my innermost values with my food choices.

In my experience most people transition first to a vegetarian diet and then to a vegan. It seems that most of us first realize the obvious: animals don’t want to die and we don’t want them to die unnecessarily. Eggs and dairy seem harmless because it’s the general belief that cows and hens don’t need to die to produce eggs and milk. However, after people take meat off their plates, it’s easier to recognize that it’s just not the killing, but also the relentless exploitation that violates the human-animal bond, that violates our sense of justice and even our own humanity. Besides, dairy cows and egg-laying hens never retire. They also end up being killed very young. Going vegan is the ultimate, deepest embracing of our true nature of peace.

Do you miss meat or any other animal products?

Not at all! By choosing not to eat animals or their by-products, I’ve learned that there are so many delicious, healthy and convenient foods that I didn’t know they existed. I explored new cuisines (Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) that offer amazing vegan options. Also, I learned that I could continue eating most of the meals I was already used to eating simply by substituting the animal products for plant-based options, such as vegan cheeses, plant-based milks (soy, almond, coconut, etc.), veggie meats (hamburgers, hot-dogs, chicken, etc.).

I feel that since going vegan I truly have a love relationship with my food.

What was your favorite non-vegan recipe as a child? Have you been able to transform it into a vegan one?

Ñoquis! It’s an Italian dish made with little mashed potato-based dumplings and the sauce generally has chicken or beef. We now make the ñoquis with vegan mashed potatoes (we use soy milk instead of cow’s milk, vegan butter instead of regular butter and egg-replacer instead of eggs). We add the veggie chick’n strips to the sauce, or veggie sausages or veggie crumbles. Yum!!

And chocolate cake… I mean, who can live without chocolate cake??!! I make a killer chocolate cake that all my friends and relatives devour in minutes. Replacing animal products is easier than ever!

Did you feel a big difference (health wise and spiritually) once you went vegan?

Absolutely. I feel healthier than ever. Still, at 44 years of age, and after having 3 children, I still weigh the same as in college, jog regularly, have tons of energy, sleep great and rarely get sick.

Most importantly, embracing a vegan lifestyle has allowed me to align my values with my choices. I feel at peace knowing that I’m alleviating suffering in the world, and that I’m contributing to the healing, restoration and reconciliation on Earth. Going vegan has deepened my belief that we are all connected and that our choices matter. 

Have your blood tests shown any difference?

Yes! My total cholesterol level has dropped to a very healthy 152. My blood pressure is on the lower end, which is great according the cardiologists, and my glucose levels are always on the lower end of the normal range.

Considering that 1 in 3 Americans die of heart disease, 1 in 4 die of cancer, 1 in 3 children are expected to develop diabetes, and 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, I consider my vegan lifestyle a life-saver!

Can you tell us a little about the relationship between dairy (and other animal products) and cancer?

Abundant scientific evidence clearly indicates that dairy is one of the most powerful carcinogens humans regularly consume. Dairy product consumption increases levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream. IGF-1 is a potent stimulus for cancer cell growth. High IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer, especially.

We sometimes forget that cows are mammals and that therefore they produce milk for their babies, who grow at very rapid rates and have very different nutritional needs. Humans have no need for cow’s milk the same way we have no need for dog’s milk, or giraffe’s milk. Cow’s milk is very different from human breast milk, which is the only milk humans should consume aside from plant-based milks.

What other health diseases can be prevented with a vegan diet?

The most typical chronic diseases modern societies are plagued with can easily be prevented and reversed by a vegan diet. The rates of heart-disease (# 1 killer in the US), cancer (# 2 killer in the US), diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis would plummet if people embraced a balanced vegan diet.

Moreover, many studies have shown that people who adopt a vegan diet tend to see a reduction in anxiety levels and depression. In short, their mood improves and their relationships benefit from it.

What’s your thought on people who are vegans but still wear animal by-products?

I certainly applaud their choice of alleviating much suffering by choosing vegan foods. It’s definitely one of, if not the most, important step at the time of showing compassion due to the hundreds of billions of animals killed for food every year, including, of course, fish. But I also would like to encourage them to look at their other choices just the same way they look at their food choices. Sadly, much of the animal suffering is supported by wearing animal by-products. I think that’s the fundamental difference between embracing a vegan diet and embracing a vegan lifestyle.

What’s your thought on the leather and fur industry?

They leather and fur industries are completely unnecessary and very cruel. Animals are pretty much tortured for their skin. There are so many affordable, good-quality and beautiful garments made of faux fur and faux leather that really there’s no need at all to support such egregious cruelty.

How about palm oil?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the production of palm oil due to the tremendous environmental devastation it can cause on the habitats destroyed in order to grow these palm trees. Wild animals suffer the most from this.

There are ways to produce palm oil in a sustainable way and people need to do their homework. We live in the era of internet where research takes little time and effort. I encourage people to support those companies that buy their palm oil from sustainable palm tree forests. We cannot be perfect but we can do what we can to the best of our abilities.

What are your favorite cruelty-free make up brands?

I love Earth Science and Alba Botanica. Both are found pretty much everywhere and are affordable for those on a budget.  

Any advises on how to make everyday cruelty-free shopping easier and faster?

It’s easier than ever to buy cruelty-free products. Many sites provide useful lists, such as www.leapingbunny.org. I simply encourage people to ask their vegan friends for recommendations or go on-line. Most vegans are more than eager to share!

What’s your favorite clothing brand? Why?

There are many great vegan clothing brands but I truthfully don’t have a favorite one. I believe in encouraging companies to move toward cruelty-free and eco-friendly products by buying those products they carry even though other products they carry might not be cruelty-free or eco-friendly. I believe our message as consumers is very powerful. Much like going to a mainstream non-vegan restaurant and buying their vegan option. It’s this trend that pushes companies to shift their focus from animal products to vegan products.

Are your kids vegan too? Since when?

Yes! We have 3 amazing kids: Christopher who is 14, and Sydney and Leah who are 7 years-old. They have embraced a vegan lifestyle very naturally and lovingly.

Christopher was raised vegetarian and went vegan on his own at the age of 8, and the twins have been vegan since conception. J

Did you find it easy to teach your kids about compassionate values?

Very. Kids have an innate sense of compassion and justice that we only need to encourage. They love animals and don’t want to see them hurting or suffering. My kids view cows or chickens the same way they view dogs or cats. Being vegan is their true nature. 

What was the cutest and most memorable action your kids have taken towards animals?

Christopher has been at champion at leafletting with veg literature! After all, who’d refuse a booklet from a cute child? All my kids have participated at protests in behalf of animals, such as against keeping dolphins and whales in captivity.

However, I have to say there are two memorable instances that are very present in my memory. Christopher was about 10 years-old when he and I watched the documentary “Peaceable Kingdom”. Even though the documentary was age-appropriate and wasn’t very graphic, there were some scenes that showed factory farming practices. Christopher that night went to bed and told me that when he closed his eyes he could still hear the animals’ “voices” (he didn’t use the word sounds), which made me realize he saw an animal as someone, and not something. He then said everyone should watch that documentary, “especially grandma”, because then everyone would be vegan.

The second instance is when I was getting ready to go to a school to give presentations and our then 4 year-old twins asked me once again what I was going to teach the students. So I casually answered, “I’m going to teach them not to eat animals”. That instant they looked puzzled, they paused to think and asked: “You mean animals? Like the ones who walk? The ones with legs?” So I said, “Yes. Cows, pigs, chickens and fish. Most people still eat them.” Leah looked very surprised and asked: “So people eat “real” animals???!!!” Who eats “real” animals??!!” I answered: Many of our friends… your aunts and uncles, your grandpa and grandmothers, etc. It was then that they realized for the first time the sad reality in the world they lived. I guess that until then, their innocent and compassionate minds couldn’t phantom the idea that people could eat the flesh of the animals they loved so much.

From then on, when offered any food, people tell me they ask “Does this have animals in it?” Again, I realized that for them, animals are not commodities or products. An animal is someone, not something.

Do you believe a vegan diet and an eco-friendly mindset go hand in hand?

Absolutely. Some people’s passion is the environment and to others might be animals. But sooner or later, one realizes that both issues are deeply interconnected.

How does a vegan diet help heal our world?

The benefits of a vegan diet are truly innumerable. Veganism transcends every boundary and affects every aspect of our lives, and life on this planet. It affects our health, the animals raised for food, wild animals and their habitats, the air we breathe, the soil where food is grown and the water we drink, the workers who are also abused by the egg, dairy and meat industries, our attitudes toward others and even the way we think.

Veganism affects us in a positive way physiologically, culturally, psychologically, spiritually, culturally, environmentally and ethically.

When we embrace a compassionate diet, which is what a vegan diet is, we recognize that compassion has no limits. We embark on a journey of compassion and action, of enlightenment and alignment of our values with our choices; a journey that is beautiful at times and painful at others, but nonetheless always fulfilling, always rewarding and always healing. A vegan diet is what we eat when we want to make the world a better place.

What books would you recommend for vegans and those transitioning to a vegan diet?

There are so many out there! But a few of my favorite books are:

  • The Food Revolution - by John Robbins

  • Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows - by Dr. Melanie Joy

  • The World Peace Diet – by Dr. Will Tuttle

What documentaries?

We are so fortunate to have documentaries coming out every year! My recommendations:

  • Forks Over Knives

  • Vegucated

  • Cowpiracy

Any other thought or advice for our WTS readers?

Always strive to be kind. Kindness permeates everything if we allow ourselves to open our minds and hearts to our true nature. We thrive on a vegan diet. The world heals when we adopt a vegan diet. After all, we have a physiology of peace. 

Heartbreaking reality. Stop Yulin!

Today’s post is hard one. My hands are shaking and tears running through my face as I write this while I sit on my bed next to my furry best friend, Coco. Just the fact that she's next to me while I prepare this post about dog cruelty in China makes this even harder. I think she can understand my frustration because she just came closer to me and rested her head on my thigh. Looking at me with those adorable eyes. Eyes that reflect never-ending loyalty and infinite love. How can we humans be so cruel? What goes on in our brains that triggers things like this? Why can’t we feel pain other than our own? Why do we get pleasure from torturing creatures that can’t defend themselves? China, a country capable of achieving so much… The world’s largest trading nation! As a banker, I had always admired its impressive fast paced economy and all the wonders it has been able to produce in the past 10 years but slowly I've lost all respect. Specially today. Today I feel disgusted, sad and angry because of China's blindness towards what’s going on in its own lands. Within its own borders. By its own people.  And no, I’m not referring to labor exploitation, child labor or sexual trafficking. Today, I’m referring to new issues finally being exposed. From Times Magazine to Youtube. China: Your hands are marked with inhumanity. Your flags read suffering. And until you pass a law that prohibits these cruel practices, I hope all humans with a drop of compassion in their veins, think of you the same way. 

For everyone reading this, PLEASE PLEASE post this everywhere and sign the petition. I know it’s a hassle and we just “don’t have the time” to sign a 5 minute petition. But this instance, you WILL make the time because this instance is not about you. It’s about them! The thousands of stray and imprisoned dogs being tortured, killed and cooked for the Yulin Chinese festival starting June 21, 2015.

Please watch this video, read this article and sign the petition below. For everyone else looking to join our movement, please take a picture of yourself hugging your furry friend and hang a sign that says: “Where’s the LOVE?” on your dog’s neck and write “Stop Yulin 2015” on your palm. Let’s raise awareness babes!! #stopyulin2015

Love you guys.

V.

China's Dog Eating Festival: http://www.dogingtonpost.com/10000-dogs-tortured-annual-yulin-dog-eating-festival/

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/president-of-the-people-s-republic-of-china-stop-the-yulin-dog-meat-eating-festival

The 13-day trip that strengthened my soul.

This trip! God.. where do I begin? Last time I wrote a post on the blog was almost three weeks ago during a moment of heartbreak, doubts, and anxiety. A moment most sane people sleep on to avoid making any drastic decisions. But then again, we are not like most people are we? Each one of us is different. Some choose to play on the safe side and let sanity and stability be the rulers of their kingdom, and then there's those who embrace risks and adventures with open arms… The fearless free spirits and wild hearts that see change as an opportunity to grow. In the past few years I've had too many people in my life tell me what to do or not to do during moments of stress or pain, and for some reason I would always end up listening to them and doing as I was told. Almost every time I regretted listening until the day I grew the balls to believe in myself and in the power within me to know what's best for ME. Yes, I said balls. I don't think there's a word that describes what I've been going through better than "growing a pair"! I mean, in less than 60 days I did not only say goodbye to a 1.5 year relationship but I also left a $100K paying job to follow my passions, travel the world, write, take photos, start my own business, do good and simply be...happy! Not thinking too much about where the next paycheck would come from or what I would lose while chasing my dreams and happiness but focusing on everything I had to gain. I don't know about you guys but to me that took a gigantic pair!! But then of course, like anything new in life, changes can be a little overwhelming. Specially if they involve the important pillars we've been taught since kids to build full of strength and stability: Relationships and careers. So...on April 14, 2015, I found myself at home meditating on the major changes that were taking place in my life. Those thoughts and emotions- good and bad- started to take over my mind and body faster than a granny on the loose speeding through the highway!! Instead of panicking and letting fear take over me, I chose to challenge it by doing what I love most- traveling- but this time solo and completely unplanned. My goal? To clear my mind, meditate, lose fear of dark hotel rooms and lonely nights, forget about perfect calendars and itineraries, forgive, move on, and come back fresh…reenergized…renewed! I didn’t think twice and bought myself a ticket from Miami to Barcelona to visit my brother for a few days. From there, I thought about flying to Milan to visit a friend and… the week after that?? No idea!! I told myself I would figure it out once there and kept repeating these words to myself over and over again: “just flow. Everything will work out in its own perfect way and at its own perfect time. Let it.” I never imagined those words would become the mantra that would lead me to one of the best trips of my life!

Without planning or booking any hotels, I spent 5 days in Barcelona, 4 days in Milan, 3 days reviewing an eco vegetarian hotel in the mountains of Perugia (Umbria) and 1 day in Assisi. How did this all happen? No clue! I’m still trying to figure it out! Except for Barcelona and Milan- which I bought tickets for the night of my meditation and realization- all the other cities and the hotel I ended up visiting and reviewing came alive once I was already in Europe! The only thing I can come up with as a conclusion is that positive thoughts do in fact attract positive outcomes. And…energy is EVERYTHING!

I will share the pictures I took (some by random strangers, others on timer, many selfies, and tons of earthy panoramas.)and eco hotel review with you guys next week. I’m still going over everything. But in the meantime, here are a few lessons I learned throughout my 13-day unplanned trip. This might be extremely helpful to every wanderlust soul out there who whishes to travel the world but has been facing to many “ifs” and “buts”. Time to conquer them, babes! One life. An infinite world. No time for excuses! <3

1) It's ok to say we are not ok! As humans, we tend to worry too much about what others think and try to hide our feelings with a 24/7 smile even though inside we are breaking. It's ok to feel and let go. We are not perfect!

The ones who love you will be there for you. Even if they don’t understand you, your thoughts or decisions, they care about you. So stop being afraid of falling apart in front of them. Let go!

2) Traveling alone is the best medicine. For EVERYTHING! Most of us are afraid of being alone but you see, being alone does not mean we're lonely. Spending time with the "self" helps us meditate, understand ourselves, accept ourselves, change the things that need changing, and love every inch of our own existence. 

Dare to take that solo trip you’ve been thinking about for months now. It will help you grow in more ways you could ever imagine!

3) The best way of conquering our fears is by challenging them. This is for all my ladies. As women, we tend to be afraid of traveling by ourselves. We think we can't do it. The maps, the trains, the heavy suitcase, the unknown language, the weird guy who is staring at us intensely, the darkness of the hotel's room... Reality is, if we never try, we'll never know how capable we are and how fearless we can be! ( More explanation with details of my experience on #4)

4) Life is beautiful, energy is everything and positive thoughts do attract positive outcomes. I know you guys might've heard this about a million times already but every part of it is truth. Life is 1% what happens to you, and 99% how you react to it.

Like I mentioned a few sentences earlier, my trip had no schedules or itineraries. I was just flowing. Waking up early in the morning and googling “things to do in…” while sipping my coffee. Once I found the spot I wanted to visit, I would just walk to a bus/train/metro station, buy a ticket there and begin the journey. Yes, I got lost more times than I can count and came back with lots of bruises from carrying my heavy suitcase down the stairs of train stations but that was all part of it! That was what made this trip even more memorable and worth telling. I found myself in wonderful places and then others not so much but instead of seeing it as a bad thing I saw it as a lesson. Never losing the positive thinking, attitude and energy.

5) Nature heals. My God, I was in Milan (one of the most beautiful cities in the world) but I connected and found myself more at peace in Perugia and Assisi. Two places where mountains and trees take over and birds delight everyone with nonstop orchestras. It was there, in the middle of a forest, where I was able to let all my concerns and pain go and felt my soul smile again. It was up on a mountain while watching the sunset and feeling the cold breeze caress my cheeks that I was finally able to clear my mind. I was able to analyze my feelings and emotions. I was able to forgive myself and the loved ones that hurt me. I was able to let go. And above all, being up there by myself helped me realize (even more) that this world is wonderful and infinite and that nature is bigger and more powerful than us in every way imaginable.

For some odd life’s reason, I got to spend Earth Day there. In the middle of the forest of Umbria. So yes, nature heals!

Escape. Sometimes we just need it!

Flowing, breathing, playing with light and shadows, and just letting life...in and out. Trusting that everything happens for a reason and that change does in fact make us stronger and better.

The past two days have taken a complete toll on my life. It’s one of the many reasons why I didn't stop to say hello to you guys on IG or post anything on the blog. To be honest, I didn't know what to say. I still don't! I have so many thoughts and words going on in my mind right now that I thought it would be best to digest everything on my own and later share it with you in case someone out there might be going through the same situation. It's shocking how life, destiny, God or energy (whatever each of us likes to call it) unfolds either by sending you nothing at all or everything at once. And by that, I'm not referring to success like we see on all those social media quotes but to change itself. As most of you know, I quit my 9-5 about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been enjoying every second doing the things I love and working on what I feel most passionate about but that does not mean it has been easy. My days have no routine or fixed plans. Every day is totally different… every day is completely unknown. Giving up my private banking job meant giving up a piece of stability in my life. Most people don’t realize this, and neither did the person I was sharing my life with until recently. You see, I did not only give up a fixed salary but also a routine I was used to and a job I was good at and felt safe doing. Besides losing this financial and professional stability, I also found myself in the process of moving to a new house with the person I was madly, deeply and childishly in love with. So of course, the only stability I had during the past month was this relationship. This relationship was my rock throughout the year and half we were together, my shoulder to cry on during the tough moments, the arms that hugged me every night, and the lips that smiled with me whenever I was happy. But, as I mentioned a few sentences earlier, when change takes place it takes place all at freaking once! Out of the blue, life manages to throw a bucket of cold water on you by delaying your car at the valet for 20 minutes, placing you at the right moment at the right time and having reality hit you in the face. No, this is not one of those caught-in-action cheating episodes but the hard realization that we are two different people traveling two different paths. It is not about which path is good or bad, or which one of us is is right or wrong, but simply about not being the right match for each other. The person you are supposed to be with will only bring out the best in you. She or he will smile when you smile or cry when you cry or think twice before doing something that will hurt you. So, yeah… Here I am! Unemployed chasing my dreams, looking for new apartments by myself, and fresh out of a broken relationship with a heart shredded to pieces. Why do I choose to share this with you? Well, because I’ve learned something that might be useful. LIFE IS CHANGE! Constantly! But only for those who wish to get out of their comfort zones, follow their dreams, love and have their heart broken and dare to love again, and simply live fearlessly! I’ve learned that people will come in to your life to make it better and stay forever or leave and teach you a great lesson. Pain is a part of that too. It makes us stronger and it’s because of the existence of it that we are able to distinguish what love and happiness feel like. And of course, in moments like these we act as the humans we are and look to escape reality at least for a little bit. Take a trip somewhere nice. Somewhere far and new where you can sip a delicious cup of coffee while looking at new faces and writing down the story of your life. Sometimes we just need to escape to recharge, forget, and come back fresh and reconnected. It is for that reason that I’ve decided to take a little trip to Europe. :) I haven’t been there in over 10 years! What’s the plan you might ask? There’s no plan! I’m just flowing. Letting life take its course. The only thing I did was buy myself a ticket with miles to Barcelona, and another one from Barcelona to Milan and I’m even currently considering making a pitstop in Paris. I’m leaving tomorrow so next time you’ll hear from me will be from Spain, babes. I need this and I’m sure great things will come out of it for the blog and the new business I’m starting with a dear friend of mine. <3

Love you all and I truly hope you can find any words of wisdom out of my experience. Even the tiniest one!

xoxo

What if you fly?

As I promised all the free spirits that asked me, today's post will be dedicated to telling you guys how I went from being a private banker to starting this blog and leaving everything to follow my passions.

Where to begin? There's so much I want to tell you guys but I don't want to make this post so long that you read only half way through. Therefore, I will try to focus on the most important details and those that will hopefully inspire you to follow your dreams. Now, let’s get to the point! <3

I graduated from college in 2010 with a major in international business. To be honest, there hasn’t been one day since that I haven’t asked myself why I chose that major. I think the fact that I speak three languages (Spanish, English and German), love numbers and come from a family of business people had a lot to do with it. My senior year in college I felt completely lost. My family kept telling me to stick to my business major while in my free time I found myself wondering about photography, taking classes about Buddhism and Hinduism, doing arts & crafts and handmade jewelry, volunteering at dog shelters, acting in front of mirrors, and preaching about my humanitarian and vegetarian values (I became vegan later on). One semester before graduation, I realized I hadn't taken a single internship during my 3.5 years in school. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life I once again let the ones who love me guide me. Everyone kept saying "finance", which made me think they knew better so I interviewed at an international bank in Miami. After 3 meetings with the bank, I had my first paid internship and found myself working from 9-5 while taking 18 credits at school every night. My days started at 6 am and ended around midnight, which was usually the time I got home after school. Weekends I spent at home writing 30-50 page essays for most of my classes. Did I enjoy it? Hell no! But I knew I wanted to make something of myself and challenge the "beauty and no brains" judgment everyone had of me when I was a teenager. I’m not going to lie, that last semester was an ugly pain! I was not only exhausting myself physically and mentally but I was also dealing with a broken four-year relationship with the guy I thought I would marry. Talk about the freaking cherry on top! I guess my ambition was a little stronger than my exhaustion and heartbreak because I graduated with a 3.8 GPA, honors and a job offer at the bank. And that's how it all started... What I thought to be the American dream! The day after graduation I was officially a full time employee at the bank earning 50k, attending fancy client events and living in a nice apartment with an ocean view. My excitement lasted for 3 years until I realized I had never felt emptier and more confused. I knew I needed to take some time off from banking to clear my head and figure things out. Something I’ve always been passionate about is yoga so becoming a yoga teacher felt like the right thing to do. I quit my banking job (first one) and took a 45-day yoga teacher training. A few weeks after I finished my training, I was already giving privates but that was not enough to pay the “banker lifestyle” bills that were piling up and I found myself struggling every day. I had student loans to pay, rent, car, credit cards and tons of other bills on hold. Going to my family for financial support was not an option since I’ve been taking care of myself since college. My ego was also too big for that (not saying it with pride. That is a weakness I’ve been fighting with for years now). Sadly, my parents didn’t give me any moral support either because they didn’t approve my decision to leave banking in the first place. I felt completely alone and more lost than I’ve ever felt! And that’s how I got myself back into banking for the second time. I got offered a better position at another bank with almost double my old salary and, at that precise moment, I felt I had no other choice. I have to admit though, the first 5 months were amazing. I felt I was learning a lot, had a great team to work with, was traveling back and forth to NYC, and going to tons of tennis and basketball games with clients. “The job everyone wanted”, as my friends said over and over again, but I kept feeling like something was missing. I felt imprisoned. Glued to a seat for hours while I looked at the green trees and sky outside my office window. I was the only vegan, hippie, yogi, charity-loving, full of tattoos banker in the office, which made me feel more like I didn’t belong there. I kept telling myself there had to be more to life, never imagining that sentence would be my fuel to start this blog. I wanted to be so close to myself, to my emotions, to my goals and passions and to my wild heart that I decided to detach myself from the things I no longer needed… the things that didn’t make my soul happy. I sold all the items in my closet with designer names I could barely pronounce, moved from a one bedroom apt to a beautiful little studio on the beach, went fully vegan (after 4 years as a vegetarian, I finally chose a vegan diet and lifestyle about a little more than a year ago) and began to volunteer again at the charities close to my heart. Yes, I was still in banking but this time I wanted to make sure it never got to my head again! And even though I had gone from The Devil Wears Prada type of lifestyle to a simpler one, I was so joyful! I felt as if I had taken a huge rock out of my back and could finally breathe! Once I had achieved this, the blog came alive. Friends of mine told me I should put my life and daily choices in writing because it’s not very often that you find a free spirited, vegan, charity-lover, tattooed yogi in an industry full of stress and materialism such as banking. So I did. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote and with every key I pressed I felt closer to myself than ever! After 10 months of saving (something I didn’t do much the first time I left my 9-5) and dedicating my nights and weekends and every little free second I got off the banking world to the blog, I finally accepted that staying in banking would mean living someone else’s dream and that if I at least didn’t give my passions and life itself another try I would probably spend 5 more years looking out my office window wondering “what if”. There’s no greater enemy to one’s success and happiness than the “what if”. What if I had studied acting like I wanted when I was young? What if I take photography lessons? What if I quit banking again and travel the world? What if, what if, what if! Three weeks ago I waived that “what if” (and banking!) a final goodbye. I woke up one morning and realized I would rather fail 100 times pursuing what I love than succeed at something that is slowly vanishing my smile and taking my years away. There is so much I want to do in this life… From doing my best to leave my mark on this planet, to sipping my morning coffee stress-free under a tree, to taking acting lessons, to traveling and seeing every sunrise and sunset from every coast and taking mental and physical pictures of them! But none of this will ever be possible if I don't believe in it! If I don't visualize it! If I don't do something to make it happen! And the same applies to all of you guys! Nobody knows you better than you do so don’t waste your time living someone else’s dream. Follow your passions and give yourselves entirely to them because once you act in ways that make your heart smile, you’re surrounded by positive energy and this energy attracts amazing things and people to your life to point you in the right direction. Finding the path becomes so much easier when you are doing something you LOVE and above all something good for this world. So go out there fearlessly, take risks and LOVE! In the end, if you think about it, love is energy and energy is simply everything!

xoxo

Vale

“What if I fall?”

“Oh, my darling, but what if you fly?”

Help animals. One beauty product at a time.

This weekend I went to visit a 30 acre primate rehab center in Florida that got me inspired to write a blog post about this subject once again. Over the two hours I spent there I couldn't stop myself from laughing and smiling at all the little monkeys jumping around the trees (or on my head and shoulders once they saw I had nuts) FREE. This rehab center has rescued primates from circuses and people who just didn't know how to treat animals with a little humanity. Watching these 150 capuchin monkeys run in freedom made me appreciate even more my decision to go fully vegan and motivated me to write more about animal testing on the blog so I get to open as many eyes as possible. I've talked about this subject many times before but I wouldn't be surprised if it still left some of you in awe. It wasn't until a few years ago that I found out about this and couldn't believe my eyes either. But sadly, we live in a world where humans have gotten used to using and exploiting animals for our their own profit, success or pleasure. Animal testing is one of those horrible practices. Most beauty products test on animals to make sure the ingredients (chemicals, if you ask me!) they are using won't cause any harmful reactions on us, humans. Why do I say chemicals? Well, I'm no doctor or chemist but I've done my extensive research in the past 4 years I've stopped consuming or using products that hurt animals. Something that got to be pretty clear to me was that almost all beauty brands that use 100% natural and organic ingredients have NO NEED to test on animals. Why? Because most of their products are made from fruits, minerals, vegetables, and any oils made from fruits and vegetables. What does this mean? They don't hurt our bodies or add toxins to our system in any way. Therefore, they won't harm us. My point being, ALWAYS (for animals sake and your health) buy vegan and organic products to use on your skin. From make up to body lotions and shampoo. Avoid all ingredients that are hard to pronounce and stick to products that are PURELY made out of things like avocado, or beets, or coconut oil, or aloe vera or sunflower oil, or lavender, etc. 

Secondly, look for the BUNNY in all labels. What does this mean? It means that no monkey, or cat, or dog, or bunny was hurt in the making of that product. Thus, no brain or body was opened and injected with chemicals and no innocent animal was tortured and left to die. Click here to watch a 60 second video summarizing animal testing practices.

That being said, join me in the fight to end animal testing by supporting brands that are vegan and cruelty-free and have the cute little bunny logo on all of their products. Here are a few of my favorite products I just can’t live without. Products every girl should have in their cosmetic bag. It’s time to shop smart, kindly and natural, ladies! Xoxo PS: scroll down for pictures of the primate rehab center I visited this weekend.

For Lips

Tarte’s Amazonian Butter Lipstick- Angelic Nude. It’s infused with precious Amazonian butters that hydrate your lips while also coating them with a coral-nude color. Does not get more natural than this. And it comes in the most adorable eco-friendly packaging. (inside and out!) And what I love the most? The box is labeled with all things green and kind and beautiful! See the pictures.

Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie- Trail Blazer: I used it every day! Just pure nude glitter. It’s naturally derived from Shea, Avocado and Murumuru butters that help hydrate your lips.

For Cheeks

Tarte’s Blissful Cheek Stain.

This is like my prayer answered. Small roll one that you can use on your cheeks and lips to get that natural pink color. Plus…it smells delicious! I take it everywhere with me.

For eyes

Something I can’t live without is a good concealer. Tarte’s Waterproof Amazonian Clay Concealer is my newly found lover. Waterproof, silky, natural, and cruelty-free. It’s not sticky and does not create any line marks (those horrible wrinkle lines, you know). It leaves my eyes looking young, no dark circles, no puffiness.

Mascaras. I have a bipolar relationship with them. The waterproof ones act like plastic on my lashes and it takes me hours to get rid of every drop I put on. The non-waterproof ones… let’s just say I’m an emotional human being who crie during sad movies on dates. Yeap. It happened and I looked like a human-size raccoon! Lesson learned, new mascara, and I chose Josie Maran’s Agan Black Oil Mascara. No parabens, no sulfates. It curls and nourishes my lashes in a delicate way AND it’s cruelty-free! 

Tarte's "Brow Architect". An eyebrow liner, shaper and definer all in one! I’ve always believed in natural and beautifully shaped eyebrows and Tarte’s Brow Architect does the work. Incredibly easy to use and its pencil shape is thin and light enough to take it with you everywhere.

For body

And last but not least, SpaRitual’s Handprint Hand Salve lotion. I don’t know about you babes but it took a very long time for me to find the perfect hand lotion. One that is not greasy and leaves my hands moist for hours. This one was like love at first touch. Organic, vegan and cruelty-free.