Wednesday, December 30

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There are a few choice words that come to mind when I think of Star Wars, but beyond the popular "saga", or "epic", resides one that could potentially be hidden in plain sight: Generations. The tale of Star Wars has became one that has paralleled each generation of its audience; it began with humble potential, grew in scope, developed flaws, and has now matured into an experience greater than the sum of its past. Each generation of characters encounters similar obstacles, and along their individual paths, there are themes that we see come about in different ways, and the same can be said with Episode VII.

Seeing a title that conveys more than one meaning is always nice. Save for an unfortunate attempt at an explanation in Episode I, the Force has always carried a certain mystique in the Star Wars Universe. The light side aligns with philosophies we Earthlings might refer to as Zen, which integrates minimalism as its fundamental lifestyle; it is attained and flourishes when tranquility encompasses one's being. When one is consumed by fear, the dark side falls in a maelstrom, and is difficult to escape. Every decision made is rooted in either love or fear, and the truth of these two polar-opposite motivators is the foundation of the Force. It was refreshing to see that understanding being so commonly referenced in this episode.

Diversity is something we see everyday in Nature, and is the vehicle by which species adapt and survive, so to see it represented in films is only natural, also. In the past, representation of different people and their cultures was challenged, to say the least. With films like Star Wars that portray the endless possibilities of forms in which life may exist, the inclusion of diversity in the human form should be all too easy. Likewise, the capabilities and judgements of characters of different origins is also a topic that should need no discussion, as it happens everyday and in ways that are good or bad. Effective casting is always very intentional, and garners immediate impressions. The characters of Episode VII were performed admirably.

During Episodes I, II, and III, there was a distinct atmosphere of distrust in the audience to understand what was happening, and as such there was a perceived requirement to verbally explain the emotions and intentions of the characters. This penchant for "hand holding" effectively destroyed any potential subtlety that would have given those films a true sense of life and allowed a real connection with the audience. However, to the relief of this Star Wars appreciator, that was exactly what was restored. An impressive amount of time was dedicated to the lost art of silent, emotive conveyance: To acting. In fact, some of the most potent moments in the film were when not a single word was uttered. As for the rest of the film, elements and impressions of the world were made clear through appropriate use of conversational dialogue. Our third-person perspective on any conversation allows us limited insight into what is understood between the observed parties, and so again, the situation is made clear through events or is inferred through context. This important technique was revived in Episode VII; only when appropriate were the foreign languages of droids and biological species given on-screen translations. The humor in this film was also a considerable improvement that gained from the aforementioned benefits. While there did exist some comic relief, it was only that, instead of the juvenile, distracting spectacle that mired the earliest chapters of the saga.

Humans have developed a taste for technology, and that drives them to improve the power of their tools constantly. In many ways, that increase in power can be found to be either good or bad. Like the Force, there must exist balance to avoid suffering. This is a truth that has yet to be fully realized in our world, which is somewhat ironic, as that same technological power is the tool used to tell stories of that very meaning. Regarding what can be done with that technology now, this film boasted the most seamless integration of CG elements with live action to date. Beyond that, the true visual beauty of this film was born of another revived and all-but-lost art: Practical special effects. The over-reliance on CGI in the early chapters of the Star Wars films actively detracted from not only the story, but gave the movies a sterile atmosphere. This time around, the return to practical effects, sets, and miniatures, coupled with the newfound abilities of computers to help digital artists generate seamless imagery have all converged into a film that should stand the test of time better than its predecessors. The IMAX 3D experience was immersive, and visual elements used to create the illusion of depth were executed wonderfully.

As the credits concluded, my mind and Claudia's both echoed with what took place before us on the silver screen. Our following discussions flowed and dove deep into the significance of all presented to us. The lack of vision in finding nothing more than excitement and adventure in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an unfortunate point of view, because as with the best of the chapters that preceded it, this film offers far more for those who choose to find it. Should one choose to purchase a ticket for this installment, when they quiet their mind, they will feel the full force of all that was intended.

Happy movie watching!
- Aaron -

Wednesday, December 16

How to Get the Most out of Your Toothpaste

Store the tube in a container after it's been cut open, so that it doesn't dry out.

A few years back, I started to cut open my toothpaste tubes after I was done with them just to see what was inside. Earthpaste is a little more expensive than other brands, and I wanted to make sure that I was using up every last bit of it that I could.

I was absolutely shocked to see how much was in the tube after I thought that I couldn't squeeze anymore out, and after all this time I was recycling it prematurely. There's usually so much toothpaste left in there that I can get 4-6 uses out of it. That's a lot!

So I highly recommend doing this yourself, because it's a great way to save money and be a little more eco friendly. One doesn't need to buy a fancy product to do this, because scissors are easier, and the only way to truly see if the tube is empty is by looking inside of it. I do this for all of my products in tubes now, and I'm sure that this little trick is making a big difference in the long run.

♡ Claudia

Tuesday, December 15

Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief Turmeric Ginger Tea

Here's a sample of this soothing, yummy tea!

This recipe is 6,000 years old, and was passed down to me by a dear friend and gourmet chef. I was having some wrist inflammation (brought on by my latest holiday food choices), and was in need of some quick relief. Of course the real cure would be to stop eating cooked treats, but if one is in need of a natural remedy to relieve current issues, then this potion is for you. It's easy to make, but the chopping does take some time. It can be made a week in advance, and the ratios are exact. Do not use this if you're taking blood thinners or are pregnant, because increased bleeding can occur.


~~Makes a single serving of tea~~
(All ingredients are preferably organic)
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of finely chopped turmeric
1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger
2 large pinches of fresh ground black tellicherry pepper
1 pinch of fresh ground ceylon cinnamon
---
Combine above ingredients and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and cover
Simmer for 12 minutes
Remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes
Strain before serving


Also, I highly recommend adding one tablespoon of any long chain fatty acid, like almond, hemp, or coconut milk. Coconut oil is the best option though. This will prevent your teeth from turning yellow, and it helps greatly with absorption. Lastly, add 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey to sweeten the brew if you desire.

Cheers, and here's to the healing power of plants.
~Claudia

Monday, December 14

My Westcott Basics 20" 5-in-1 Reflector

Westcott Basics 20" 5-in-1 Reflector - $19.90

This reflector is awesome! I've had it for awhile now, and I must say that it is a favorite of mine. I use it quite a bit for my photo shoots, and YouTube videos. It's sturdy, but light, and I wanted something tiny so that I could travel with it. Of course, it sure beats my illustration board that I was using before. Not only because it folds up into a much more convenient size, but because it has five options to work with. I absolutely love it, and it's a great tool for any photographer.

Cheers,
~Claudia

Friday, December 11

WillowPads Review

WillowPads Long Organic Feminine Pad in Natural - $12.95

Goodness, do I love my WillowPad! As funny as that may sound it is true, and I wish that I would have known about cloth feminine care products sooner.

When I started to change, and take care of myself properly, switching to a washable, organic cotton pad was a must. They're healthier for your skin, made of sustainable materials, eco friendly, and oh so luxuriously soft. I'm not kidding. My lady parts are extremely pleased, I've saved a ton of money not buying so many disposables, and there's no going back.

I only purchased one though, because I wanted to test it out for myself. I must say that after two happy years of using it, it's still just as soft and functional. Now, with the light natural color, staining is inevitable. If seeing this is a problem for you, then I recommend getting the black one. Personally, I like mine because the color matches my skin, it's not dyed, and I can actually see if I'm making a mess. That's helpful for two reasons: One, I don't like hand washing stains out of pretty little things (it's really no fun), and second, I can see how well I'm healing based on how much I bleed.

Since I've started using this pad, I've also improved my diet, and this has greatly helped reduce the number of days that I have to wear a pad. After all, woman are not suppose to bleed, and most raw-food woman don't have a "period". They're fertile, and perhaps spot, but bleeding is not normal despite conventional opinions. I've also heard that leaking can be a problem with these pads if heavy bleeding is an issue. This has never happened to me though, and I would encourage fixing the problem with a raw-food diet.

That's why I don't need to buy another one, because I know that my body is getting better and there won't be a need for more. Currently, I wear a cotton disposable pad on my first two days, and the WillowPad on my last day because it's the lightest. Sometimes I get lucky when laundry day falls on my cycle, because then I can wash it, wear it again, and life is good! 

So if you're like me, and don't want harsh, toxic materials against your beautiful skin all day long, then you must get one of these. I can't even imagine how much money I've saved already, and it's helped so much to keep plastic out of landfills. It's worth it.

Cheers and here's to happy, healthy living.
~Claudia

Thursday, December 10

A Woman's Moon Cycle: Never Bleed or Have Pain Again

Did you know that it's not normal for a woman to have pain, discomfort, cramps, bloating, PMS, irregular times, acne, or heavy bleeding when she menstruates? Yes, that's true, and when I first heard that I couldn't believe it either... Until it happened to me!

When I was younger I dreaded the day that I would get my first "period." Everyone told me how horrible it was, and that you had to use awful tampons and itchy plastic feminine care pads. It was just one more reason that I didn't want to grow up.

In the Western world, this time of the month is despised and hated by women. Nature plays a cruel joke on us, and men run for the hills because nobody wants to be around us when we get moody. What if I told you that it's not what nature intended, and it's a problem that we have create ourselves?

When women heal themselves they do not have any of these issues anymore, which slowly disappear one by one. It's as simple as going on a raw food diet. Fruits, berries, and melons always heal the quickest. It's more about what we stop doing, than what we do.

When the lining of the uterus is shed it is not suppose to be painful or bleed a lot. All we need to do is correct our lifestyle and these will all go away! Woman that eat raw food, sleep well, and manage their stress levels do not bleed very much. When there's nothing to clean, we don't experience these symptoms. Spotting occurs, but it's pretty common for a healthy, fertile lady to go years without any pain.

As for me, I rarely have any of these issues, with the exception of light bleeding. That is healing so fast though, especially when I started on high fruit. I only bleed for three days now instead of six, and my flow is so very light. They are always right on time, and so regular in fact that I can predict my start date to the day. Now, I do notice that if I don't stay completely vegan and high raw that I will have more bleeding, and the start date will be early. This is my body trying to clean out prematurely, because of what I've eaten. It really is that simple, and I'm excited for the day that I too will stop bleeding so much because there's nothing left to clean.

A few years back I learned that the Native American people believe that a woman's "Moon Cycle" is a sacred time. It's about reflection, relaxation, and a time to honor her beauty. That is so empowering, and this is why I now love my time of the month: It's restful and rejuvenating.

Love Claudia xx

Tuesday, December 8

Eden Botanicals Carrier and Essential Oil Review

Jojoba, Cedarwood, Tea Tree, White Rose, Pink Rose, and Spearmint

Last year I decided that it was time to go all organic with my essential oils. For me, it was vitally important that I knew how and where the oils were made, and after extensive research I chose Eden Botanicals. Aside from a lovely name, they had high-quality products that were bottled in glass, extensive product information, a wide variety to choose from, and stellar reviews. Customers weren't required to have a minimum purchase balance, and creating an account was not forced. Both of which were very important to me.

They arrived really quickly, every oil was packed safe and sound, and to my surprise all of the packaging was eco friendly! It was all brown paper (including the tape) and biodegradable packing peanuts. This is a big deal, and I was so happy about it.

One very important thing to note is that these bottles do not come with orifice (drop) reducers. I was pretty surprised by this, because most other brands come with those. One has to buy them separately, and I was out of luck because they didn't sell any for the 1/2-ounce bottles. My way around this was to use an eyedropper, and I also transferred the oil into bottles that I already owned with droppers on them. As to not waste a single drop of oil from the new bottles, after I transferred all that I could, I ran the empty bottles under the warm bath water as I filled the tub for a pre-planned soak. This way the oil was completely cleaned off, and it infused the bath with the last remnants of the bottle. This is actually how I end all of my bottles.

Another minor thing was that despite how careful I was to keep them clean and pristine, the labels started to smudge. I'm guessing that they might use natural inks, so that's fine, but they do look pretty worn now. This happened purely from me touching them, because I'm super cautious as to not drip any of my oil.

Aside from those tiny things, I'm extremely pleased with these oils, and I most definitely will continue buying from Eden Botanicals. I've used most of them up already, so they're well tested and loved. We've pampered ourselves with baths fit for royalty, created natural hair remedies, and made Aaron's new signature scent (only the best for my beloved of course). Overall, these are a must buy for anyone that is looking for great organic, eco-friendly oils from a company that clearly care about its customers and the Earth.

Cheers,
~Claudia

Monday, December 7

Look of the Month :: Winter 2015 :: December

"One of the best things to do sometimes is simply to be." - Fortune Cookie

I've been contemplating these words for over a year now. Finding them was important to me, and I've finally made it to a fork in the road. Which path do I choose? Or perhaps it's not as definite as that. All I know is that I have changed so much over the five years that I've been creating these digital makeup face charts.

It's been a great run, and I've been able to express myself in one of the only ways that I knew how: through the way that I looked. I, like most people, have been taught that you are what you look like. If you are having a bad day, wear black. Or if you want to be noticed, wear fancy things. Simple! There is validity to these believes, but after all, a belief is just a thought that we think over and over again until it sticks.

Our societies and cultures have different mass beliefs, and if one wants to thrive or survive then we must follow these unwritten rules. Countless times I've heard that one expresses self through creation, whether that is art, writing, science, fashion, or yes, even makeup.

Makeup, used for thousands of years by many different cultures, is a form of expression or survival. We're told that we look better with it, and even our friends and family comment on how nice we look when we use it. One study even found that waitresses wearing red lipstick got bigger tips. Talk about survival! Why is that though?  The reason is because higher contrasting features (especially in females), like the eyes and mouth, are more attractive when they stand out against our skin. These sexual cues trigger this response, and we thrive. Also, when we eat fruits and vegetables high in yellow-red carotenoid pigments we appear to have a golden glow from within. Yellow-based foundations sell best because they make us look more healthy. In nature this means that quality food is abundant, and all is well. This is true too for the pink in our lips; if we do not eat well, we loose our healthy pigments. This is noticeable in older people or people that eat a lot of animal products. They will normally have ruddy skin and brownish lips, because they're not eating foods that promote health.

So yes, applying a tiny bit of mascara to make the eyes pop and a dot of lipstick can go along way, especially for sick people. Makeup can be powerful. It hides our flaws and makes us appear more attractive. We all want to be loved, and most seek eternal youth as well. This is contrived through our society by unrealistic means, but the natural relevance is also a factor. If we seem healthy, we are loved by many and found to be beautiful. Most people need help regarding this, because many are struggling with sickness, low energy, and obesity. Therefore, buying a few things to mask the problem is the solution for most. Advertisements suggest that a pill, the right clothing, and a spot of makeup will do the trick. Covering up the problems will suffice, but alas, we will never feel good or satisfied. We wouldn't change anything about ourselves if we weren't told that it was wrong in the first place, so why not just get healthy?

This is what I did, and I can't begin to explain what it feels like: to not need the mask, to have compassion for self, to feel complete without a product. This is priceless, and for any of you out there that feel lost, I highly recommend implementing change right away. I had acne, puffy under eyes, dark circles, freckles, broken blood vessels, milia, and a dull complexion. All of these have greatly improved or completely healed because of my new lifestyle choices. Fruits and veggies, along with sleep, and self love go a long way.

Then why do we still feel that we are our best selves when we are seeking it from an external source? Or why do we feel that we have to look like others? My celebrity and character makeup recreations are some of my most popular. It's because of survival. They have something we want, whether that is attention, power, fame, success, or love. We channel our deepest desires though these outlets. Perhaps mimicking a look can bring about that same power and love. That's the furthest thing from the truth though. Everyone has to find their own individualism from within, and with that your own strength and power will manifest.

When we are born into this world, so naked and pure, we have all we need. Then we are clothed and told that our beautiful bodies are shameful, sinful, ugly, distracting, and inappropriate. Even if the words were not that blunt and harsh, the underlying messages still resonated. We were never enough.

Then, we have "self expression", something that humans have been doing for centuries. Why is it that we consider the purchases that we make to be self expression? Or what about the way that we alter our bodies through piercing, scarification, binding, or tattoos? I once read that these things are a manifestation of child abuse and an outward reflection of self hatred, not self love. People are basically saying to everyone around them that they had a difficult upbringing. What about tribal cultures then? Truly, these issues are ancient, because no child would change their body in a way that wasn't beloved or accepted by their people. Again, your natural body isn't good enough, stretch your lip out so that we, the people, can see that you're valuable, mature, or worthy. The same is true with a car, career, or yes, even makeup. Are you worthy? Are you better?

I too have experienced this, and as a smart young lady I wanted to thrive. Self expression is as vital to living as breathing, but we don't have to do it through the things that we wear, purchase, or create. It is all found within, if only we dare to find true self. Body language, actions, emotions, words, and facial expressions are truly adequate forms of expression.

Companies wouldn't have us think that though, because they need to sell products. Perhaps like the waitress wearing red lipstick, we need to make larger tips to buy things that we don't need to impress people we don't like. I promise you that the people that love you unconditionally will stick around. Every other relationship will, and should, fall away.

The cost of this consumerism has dire consequences. Isn't it just a bit of fun with makeup though? Sure, to most, it is. What about the chemicals in the products that cause all sorts of harm? What about the animal testing? If you're so daring, I encourage you to research this. The pictures will stay with you. We are emphatic towards unnecessary suffering for a reason. Death is natural and a part of life, neither of which describe these acts. Then, we have the plastic and packaging waste that pollute the environment. Most of which does not end up in a recycling bin. Reduce, reuse, then lastly recycle. Again, this is all senseless consumption based on needs that can be mended internally. For me personally, I'm going to replace almost all of my products and try to stick with natural, cruelty-free options.

I stand at that fork in the road: choose to continue consuming, destroying, and submitting or choose to find true wholeness within. To undo a lifetime of beliefs is quite the challenge, and I will do the best that I can. Perhaps instead of choosing one direction, I'll be somewhere in the middle for awhile. Growth takes time, I understand this, and I hope to find peace sooner than later. I leave you with this: true love, joy, and abundance can be found without purchasing anything. It is free, if you only desire to obtain it.

It's been fun these past five years creating makeup looks, but it's time to move on to new things. I might create a few more stand-alone looks in the future with the products that I'm using up. I don't like wasting things, and perhaps this will help me let go slowly.

The next time you put on makeup, ask yourself, "Why?" Truly, why are you putting on that makeup? It is always best to be completely honest with oneself. And yes, without further ado, the last face chart for the "Look of the Month" series is below. Have a beautiful winter, spend time in nature, love unconditionally, be kind, and enjoy your time here on this Earth. 

The current look is:
D E C E M B E R  2 0 1 5


Color inspiration:
Ice blue, reflecting pond, ivory, white, and pewter

Current motivation for the look:
White magic, inner strength, and nurturing


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 5

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 5

M A R C H  2 0 1 5

A P R I L  2 0 1 5

M A Y  2 0 1 5

J U N E  2 0 1 5

J U L Y  2 0 1 5

A U G U S T  2 0 1 5
  
S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 5

O C T O B E R  2 0 1 5

N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 5

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Friday, December 4

The Queen's Song



The Universe works in mysterious ways.... Painted in Photoshop in 33 hours.

"The Queen's Song" - Painting Steps
Level: Advanced



Content, editing, and compositing by Claudia Sutton.
Music composed by Wiley Camper.

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