Updated: Aug 10, 2020

If you're looking for a Canadian company that handcrafts natural and organic skincare in small batches and is also EWG verified, you have to add this brand to your list! With a boom in the green beauty and natural skincare industry over the last few years bringing an influx of choices on the market - some great, others not so much - it's easy to be caught up in the excitement of filling your shelves with new discoveries. But there is something about returning to an old favourite, be it a sweater, book or place, only to find it even better than before. That's how I feel about Cocoon Apothecary based out of Kitchener, Ontario. If you haven't heard of or tried this Canadian artisanal line, you're in for a treat. Read on to learn more about why this will become one of your favourites and for a special discount for my readers.


Cocoon Apothecary was one of the first clean skincare brands I tried at the beginning of my green beauty journey. Despite foraying into more "eco-luxury" (read: expensive) brands, Cocoon Apothecary is one I have returned to time and time again for quality I can rely on, and is easily comparable to the very best of natural skincare brands. Back in the day, I was using cult favourite Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream, but the heavily scented product felt heavy and irritated my sensitive skin. After looking closer to home for a Canadian maker of natural skincare, I found Cocoon Apothecary's simple but effective formulations which are suitable for sensitive skin, and further checked the boxes for being vegan, cruelty-free and having lovely eco-friendly packaging. The glowing reviews prompted me to try the Rosy Cheeks facial cream, Rose Dew facial Toner and Petal Purity Facial Milk Cleanser and Petal Purity Exfoliating Facial Cleanser. Right away I was impressed with the beautiful amber glass bottles they came in, the wonderfully subtle smells and how soothing the products felt on my skin. The ingredients speak for themselves: they are as pure as it gets.


Simplify self-care with a therapeutic skincare routine


Following a regular skincare regimen is a lovely way to get in some self-care, so why not make it as pampering an experience as possible? The wonderful and gentle smells of Lavender and Rose makes for a relaxing and luxurious experience. As a busy mom of 3, I understand how difficult it can be to find the time and to follow any skincare routine with regularity. What I love so much about these products is they are well-thought out to be a relaxing experience that you will really look forward to - from the luxurious feel of the glass bottles to the tranquility the Lavender, Rose and Orange Blossom oils and absolutes inspires.


Don't be daunted by the idea of a 3 step routine. You'll enjoy every moment of the experience (the cleanser smells like lavender fields!) and the whole process takes less than 5 minutes - which you deserve every minute of.


Here are my favourites for a simple and clean 3 step skincare regimen. Note: Cocoon Apothecary carries products for sensitive, dry and combination skin types. I have both sensitive and dry skin, and thus use the Petal Purity and Rosy Cheeks line. For further recommendations on products that are most appropriate for your skin type, you can contact Cocoon Apothecary directly or send me a message using my contact form.


Step One: Gently and effectively cleanse with Petal Purity


Take a deep breath and inhale the smells of lavender and geranium as you wash away the worries of the day. Petal Purity comes as a milk cleanser and an exfoliating cleanser. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you would either use one or the other, or a combination of both - saving the exfoliator for use 1-2 times a week. I like to use the milk cleanser daily because is gentle enough for my sensitive skin, but effective enough to remove dirt, makeup and leave my face feeling clean and smelling amazing. Petal Purity cleanser smells like lavender with a hint of geranium.


Ingredients: Purified water, sweet almond oil*, virgin coconut oil*, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid, vegetable glycerin, geranium essential oil*, lavender essential oil*, sodium anisate, sodium levulinate, sodium cetearyl sulfate, vitamin E, glyceryl caprylate.

*certified organic


If you have sensitive skin, you may shy away from the idea of exfoliating, but it is so important to exfoliate in order to remove dead skin cells and leave your skin glowing. The Petal Purity exfoliating cleanser is so gentle and will not irritate even sensitive skin. It removes dead skin cells and debris to keep skin smooth, toned and revitalized. The scrub contains smooth, biodegradable jojoba beads that won't irritate skin or pollute the oceans (such as plastic microbeads).


Ingredients: Purified water, sweet almond oil*, jojoba beads, virgin coconut oil*, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid, glycerin, geranium essential oil*, lavender essential oil*, sodium anisatesodium levulinate, sodium cetearyl sulfatetocopherol, glyceryl caprylate.

*certified organi


Step Two: Tone and Prep with Rose Dew Facial Toner



Once your face has been cleansed and/or exfoliated, gently mist your face with the Rose Dew Facial Toner. Organic rose hydrosol distilled from rose petals with cooling properties help refine pores and soothe redness and irritation. This toner contains hydrating properties that retain moisture on skin and is a great way to prep skin for moisturizing.


Benefits:

  • A gentle alcohol-free formula appropriate for sensitive skin

  • Tightens pores and hydrates skin preparing it for moisturizing

  • Soothes redness

Ingredients: Certified organic rose hydrosol.


So simple, gentle and 100% natural.


Rose hydrosol is the water that is created when essential oil is extracted from rose petals by steam distillation.  It is produced from the pink rose bush Rosa Damascena, a member of the rosaceae family indigenous to Europe and the Middle East.  Hydrates and draws moisture to skin while creating a cooling, revitalizing experience. Contains mild astringents to refine pores and calms dry skin with its soothing properties that include nourishing antioxidants. Rose hydrosol is clear and colourless with a sweet, honey, floral scent. 


Step Three: Moisturize and pamper those Rosy Cheeks



Last but certainly not least, my favourite step is applying the Rosy Cheeks moisturizing cream. This cream is just magical. It has a very subtle smell, is rich but non-greasy and absorbs quickly to a dewy but matte finish, leaving skin feeling absolutely nourished. The beauty of this cream is also that it can be used as either a day or a night cream.

As a woman in my 30s, this keeps my face so soft, supple and visibly more youthful.

Let's have a closer look at the ingredients.

  • Rosehip Oil – Pressed from the seeds of the rose bush, this oil is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that smooth wrinkles, firm skin, and improve the look of acne scars. 

  • Avocado Oil – Supports elasticity and softens the texture of skin.

  • Shea Butter – Creates a breathable barrier that retains moisture and protects the skin.

Ingredients: Purified water, rosehip oil*, avocado oil*, camellia (green tea) oil*, shea butter*, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid, glycerin, sodium anisate, sodium levulinate, rose absolute, sodium cetearyl sulfate, tocopherol, glyceryl caprylate


All of Cocoon Apothecary's products are EWG verified by scientists for the highest levels of purity and safety. You can read all the existing EWG reviews on their product line here.


My gift to you


Use my exclusive discount code: mamaserene15 for 15% off all products from Cocoon Apothecary when you shop on their website: Cocoon Apothecary Canada

and Cocoon Apothecary International.


Serenely,


Paula

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  • Paula Gray

I have shied away from MLMs for years and for various reasons. Namely, I've never been one to be blindly motivated by profits, pushing products people don’t really need or being led by sales scripts. It needs to align with my moral and spiritual values. Finding safe, natural remedies and being able to share what works with others is deeply fulfilling. DoTERRA provides health-conscious individuals with safe and natural alternatives for everything from sleep, anxiety, digestion, cleaning and immunity. They are essentials for your natural toolkit, and will help to reduce your toxic load, with few (if any) undesirable side effects when used as directed.

These drops of nature's purest gifts work to nurture mind, body and soul. But does this company hold up to closer scrutiny? I am deeply passionate about sharing what I’ve learned and experienced. Here are some transparent facts and why I wholeheartedly support this company.

But first, What are Essential Oils?

Naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Highly concentrated when distilled, for purity, potency and efficacy. Such unique properties make essential oils ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy – using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthy mind and body.

Unparalleled Purity & Potency


Because of the lack of regulation in regards to claims of essential oils purity (an estimated 95% are adulterated or reconstituted) doTERRA created and trademarked a testing process known as CPTG Quality Testing (Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® to meet this need and provide the purest quality oils possible.


DoTERRA begins the CPTG testing process shortly after distillation, when each oil is reviewed for its chemical composition. The doTERRA production facility carries out a second round of testing to ensure that the oils distilled and tested during the first round are the same ones that arrived at their facility. A third review of the chemistry of the oils is conducted as the oils are packaged into the bottles before they’re shipped out to consumers.

Each test confirms that their essential oils are free of contaminants and that no unexpected alterations occurred during production.

The CPTG quality testing process includes eight main steps to guarantee that every batch of doTERRA essential oil is pure, unadulterated, and safe for use.

Here are the tests doTERRA uses to ensure essential oil purity:

  1. Organoleptic testing

  2. Microbial testing

  3. Gas chromatography

  4. Mass spectrometry

  5. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)

  6. Chirality testing

  7. Isotopic analysis

  8. Heavy metal testing

In short:

- Every oil is rigorously tested for purity & potency

- Guaranteed to be free from fillers, artificial ingredients or harmful contaminants.

- Each batch is tested multiple times, and contains a batch number at the bottom which you can input online to look at lab results. No other essential oil company offers this level of transparency.


Co-Impact Sourcing

Instead of buying up large swatches of land and owning their own farms, doTERRA sources directly from where it grows natively and with exclusive dedicated small farmers with whom they form a close and trusting relationship. They are dedicated to sustainability and actually making a positive and lasting impact in the countries/communities where the oils are sourced.

doTERRA created the Co-Impact Sourcing® Initiative and the following 8 principles to ensure responsible practices in all their sourcing communities:

  1. Generating Jobs: Reduce poverty by creating and sustaining jobs

  2. Providing Fair, On-Time Payments: Offer consistent, fair payments to producers, including prepayments

  3. Building Supplier Capacity: Support farmers, producers, and distillers through training and financial support

  4. Sustaining Long-Term Partnerships: Provide multi-year contracts with growers and distillers based on solidarity and respect

  5. Ensuring Fair Labor Conditions: Create healthy and safe working environments, free from harassment and discrimination

  6. Promoting Cooperatives: Guarantee respect the right for all employees and producers to join and form co-operatives

  7. Furthering Environmental Stewardship: Promote energy efficient technologies, renewable energy, and waste minimization

  8. Facilitating Community Development: Support community development projects in sourcing communities such as schools, health clinics, training facilities, and clean water systems​

doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing strategy is also a deliberate approach to provide ethically responsible employment opportunities for those involved in the essential oil supply chain by creating and sustaining jobs in rural and underserved areas. doTERRA is committed to benefiting everyone involved: from the small-scale producers to the end-users – from the source, to you.


Visit Source to You


Female Empowerment


It’s no secret Emily Wright left Young Living because its founder Gary Young refused to pay her the same wage as her male co-workers, believing instead that women should be paid less than men. Wright (along with her co-worker David Stirling) went on to start doTERRA. Since then, the company that Emily has helped build has been passionately committed to empowering women around the world.


doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation

  • Supports anti-human/sex trafficking organizations

  • Provides feminine hygiene education and hygiene kits to communities in need,

  • Micro-credit lending programs lend start-up funds and offer trainings to hardworking people with creative business ideas.

The Bottom Line

DoTERRA is a company that leads with heart and spirit, holding high principals of ethical, environmental and social sustainability. They are not perfect but are striving and making great strides - and for that I fully support this company. And for the astonishing quality and accountability of their oils! When you connect with me about essential oils, I will share products that I truly cannot live without and hope will also impact your life in a positive and uplifting way.


Also, despite it being an MLM - the direct sales strategy works perfectly with doTERRA - because it is not just about selling products, but building relationships. You don't just buy an oil and never hear from me again - you have a dedicated guide, resource and support.


Are you ready to learn more? I would love to be your personal oil fairy.


Serenely,


Paula


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  • Paula Gray

Updated: Aug 25, 2020



You may have seen pictures of Waldorf playrooms full of beautiful handmade/natural toys (we have spent years creating one ourselves!). While natural open-ended toys and beeswax crayons are indeed a part of early years/kindergarten, it can be easy to get caught up in the trappings or feel discouraged as most of us do not have unlimited resources. The truth is, most of what‘s important to Waldorf education is immaterial.

Take it from someone who has accumulated enough material to run a Waldorf kindergarten classroom: you actually need very little. The less you buy, the better - as creativity and resourcefulness are celebrated by this philosophy. Here are some ways you can do Waldorf that cost little to nothing at all.



Tip #1: Embrace Simplicity

Establish a simple and consistent home rhythm (please read why here)

- Let your children engage in meaningful work with you.

- Bake bread together, make soup, let them wash and help prepare food.

- Give them a brush and dustpan to help tidy up around the house

- Plant and Harvest fresh herbs from the garden

- Make and enjoy Tea together

Cultivate Reverence by appreciating the little moments and bringing joy and purpose to the everyday.


Tip #2: Focus on Connection

Make storytelling part of your family culture - read and tell stories together

Sing to your children, sing and dance together.

- Create rituals around the sacred everyday as opportunities for your family to connect.

- Put the screens away and talk to each other.

- Eat together, sing a meal blessing song/verse.


Tip #3: Make it yourself

With some skill, time and patience - you can make many of your own Waldorf toys/materials.

Such as:

Play silks

Waldorf Dolls

Play Stands

DIY Peg dolls - buy unfinished pegs here

Felted/crochet figures and toys

Block Crayons

Tip #4: Spend lots of time outdoors

Going on nature walks and spending time in nature is a vital part of Waldorf Education. Observe and appreciate the changing seasons, identify and look for Flora and Fauna. Gather sticks, pinecones, stones, shells and other natural treasures to display on your nature/seasonal table


Tip #5: Source locally

Whether it’s skeins of wool, beeswax for candles or spelt flour for baking - sourcing your materials/supplies locally will be both cost-effective, have a lower environmental impact and be supporting local farms and businesses. Look online for local farms, apiaries etc. Your local farmer's market or health food store would be another good place to start.

Tip #6: Put together your own curriculum

There are many wonderful and pricey resources and Waldorf curriculum out there. But you do not really need a formal curriculum for early years/kindergarten. Family/home life IS the curriculum. For some free resources that provide information, insight and inspiration I recommend: https://www.waldorflibrary.org

The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly Story Library - https://www.tiptoes-lightly.net/story-gallery


Some books I recommend for stories, songs, crafts and seasonal celebrations:

For the grades, you can visit your library for books and resources using helpful and detailed curriculum outlines from Waldorf schools. I particularly like how comprehensive and thorough this one is (created by Waldorf School of Lexington)


Tip #7: Create Community

There are plenty of benefits to creating or joining a Waldorf inspired or holistic parenting community. You can share experiences, resources, support and also gather to celebrate seasonal festivals together. Search on Facebook for a group near you or create your own group to connect like-minded families together.


Whether you already have many resources at your disposal or not, I hope you will find these tips helpful. A beautiful playroom full of expensive toys is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, if a Waldorf education/lifestyle appeals to you and is the path you wish to pursue, then it is only a small part of the picture. It is more important to cultivate reverence, focus on the immaterial, create experiences and connection, develop self-sufficiency and resourcefulness - and you will teach an abundance of lessons and skills to your children along the way.


Serenely,


Paula

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