inspiration: nisolo

by darraugh collins in

Nisolo is a lifestyle brand based in Nashville, Tennessee and Trujillo, Peru, that is founded on the principles of quality, transparency, and impact. The founders discovered the rich shoemaking heritage and talent of the artisans in Peru. However, these artisans struggled to connect with entrepreneurs that would bring their goods to the global market. In 2011, Nisolo was born to do just that with their collection of shoes for women and men, along with jewelry and accessories. Even better, consumers know where their goods are sourced, along with the impact their purchase makes on the lives of those who make them. I'm in.

*images via Nisolo



healthy living: the benefits of collagen

by darraugh collins in

In my "Getting to the Root" series I told you about taking grass-fed collagen protein, but it's such a healthy addition to any lifestyle that I wanted to mention it again. You might have noticed the increased mention of consuming bone broths and the perhaps you've seen brands popping up that sell primarily bone broths - even restaurants are jumping on board.

As we age, our skin loses elasticity due to our bodies naturally declining production of collagen. You've probably heard about skincare products containing collagen that are to be used for anti-aging benefits, but I believe the best way to stay youthful inside and out is through diet and lifestyle. Consuming high quality foods such as grass-fed meats and fish, dark green vegetables, berries, garlic, and yes, collagen, are better than any skincare potion, plastic surgery, or botox.

I first started using the Great Lakes brand, but after doing some reading decided to switch to the Vital Proteins brand because I believe the overall quality is better and it is definitely from grass-fed beef. I use the collagen protein in my diet by adding it to smoothies, soups (if I haven't made homemade broth), making homemade gummy snacks, and mostly in my "turmeric tea". What this consists of is adding 1 teaspoon of collagen proteins to a mug, dampening with a bit of cold water, adding a generous teaspoon of my homemade turmeric paste (I shared the recipe link in this post), and then topping with boiling water. I give it a good stir and then consume this as my morning beverage. I'm not only getting the benefit of the healthy collagen, but also the benefit of the anti-inflammatory powerhouse, turmeric. Side note: any that contains turmeric can stain, so keep that in mind. Also, be sure to wipe your lips with a paper towel to get any yellow from the turmeric off.

I've found the best deal on Vital Proteins collagen through Thrive Market, which I talked about here. We really like this online grocery site and place an order through them at least once a month. There are two types of collagen from Vital Proteins and it can cause confusion as to which to order. Here's a quick YouTube video from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions about the differences, so you can decide which to order. I mainly buy the green top because I make the hot tea and the gummies right now - but will probably buy the blue soon to more regularly add to smoothies.

I truly believe my regular consumption of collagen since I fractured my ankle in December has contributed to my pain-free healing. Collagen is responsible for strong bones and joints, along with healthy skin, teeth, hair, and nails. In addition, we live in a world that seems to be stress-induced, which wreaks havoc on our bodies and we need additional support to keep us healthy. That's where the amino acids in collagen come in handy. With so many suffering from some form of leaky gut syndrome, collagen helps to heal and repair the digestive track so it's no longer "leaky". I mean, what's not to love about this stuff? I highly recommend it for everyone. And if you're a fan of Jennifer Aniston - someone I associate with health and vibrancy, check out this list of her 5 beauty-enhancing obsessions, here.

Have a great weekend!

*images via Vital Proteins

inspiration: dear survivor

by darraugh collins in

It was Christine Longoria's jewelry designs that caught my attention, but it's her story that keeps me coming back. Dear Survivor is the business she started to, in her words, right the wrongs she's seen. Currently, she donates 10% of every dollar to GenerateHope, an organization in California that works with trafficking survivors. To learn more, and to purchase her work, visit the website (link above).



inspiration: the bouqs

by darraugh collins

Gardenista posted about the best place to use for sending flowers for Mother's Day and one of the places they recommended was The Bouqs, a Venice, California-based floral industry disruptor. What makes them different is that they source flowers from eco-friendly farms that are cut the day you order them and delivered within 2-4 days - all at a reasonable price. Sounds good to me, so I bought my mom flowers for Mother's Day through them and they provided me with a tracking number to know when they arrive. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there...even moms to four-legged babies!



*image via The Bouqs

inspiration: a california bohemian-chic abode

by darraugh collins in

I've stated before how much I love Canadian shelter publication, House & Home. They always have inspiring spreads, and I love how they combine design with travel and great recipes. In the May 2016 issue, actor Walton Goggins opens up his family home and it's lovely. The house has Spanish influences in its bones and the couple has decorated it with a laid back Bohemian vibe that includes treasures picked up from travels around the world. I apologize for the terrible iPhone photos, but when I saw it I immediately knew I wanted to share it with you STAT! 

*images via House & Home May 2016

healthy living: b12

by darraugh collins

Back in 2011 I wrote a post on the importance of vitamin B12, which I urge you to read (here) because it contains so much good information about symptoms of B12 deficiency and reasons behind that deficiency you might not think about. That is exactly the reason I'm writing an additional post related to B12, because I wasn't seeing the connection to why my B12 levels were low despite eating a healthy diet rich in grass-fed meat, eggs, and seafood. Within the past week I've told you about the how common it is for people suffering with low thyroid function to also have low stomach acid, which has been at the root of my issues with properly absorbing the beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the food and supplements I've been taking.

I told you my B12 level when tested about a month ago (with a simple blood test) was 323. It should absolutely be over 500, and then ideally should be between 800 and 900, otherwise you are likely suffering from B12 deficiency. And this vitamin is so important to many functions in the body, particularly digestion - that a deficiency can lead to problems like depression, dementia, eye problems, and sleep problems - to name a few. So, you can see that B12 is vital to your first brain and your second brain - also known as your stomach.

Here's what I'm doing to improve my B12 level: I'm taking Betaine HCL with Pepsin (here) to increase stomach acid production, so I can properly absorb B12 from my food and supplementation. I'm also following a very clean diet, free of processed foods and refined sugars. I've also been supplementing with B12 sublingual lozenges (here).

Again, sources of B12 are grass-fed meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you will certainly need to supplement. Supplementation is best with B12 injections, oral sprays, and sublingual lozenges, as these seek to avoid your digestive system altogether - which is beneficial if you've got issues with low stomach acid.

healthy living: oil pulling

by darraugh collins in

A little over a year ago I started oil pulling with coconut oil. Oil pulling is the practice of taking a spoonful of oil (I prefer coconut, but you can use others. Make sure they're organic and non-GMO) and swishing it around in the mouth for 15-20 minutes before spitting it out (I use the kitchen trash since it's lined with a trash bag). You don't want to swallow any of the oil because it contains germs, bacteria, and toxins that you have just worked to rid from your mouth.

By looking into the mouth, you can tell a great deal about a person’s health.
— From Oil Pulling Therapy by Dr. Bruce Fife

I started doing some research when I first went to the dentist here in St. Louis after visiting the same dentist in Florida for 20 years. I always had good dental visits with pats on the back for everything looking good. Suddenly, I felt as though I had lots of issues...well, not a lot, but enough to think something was up. The dentist said I had some gum recession on a couple teeth and he thought I should do gum graft surgery to fix it before it becomes a real problem. Then, he said I had a small cavity in my very back tooth (I still have all my wisdom teeth). And the final thing relates to the mercury filling I have - yes, I think I've mentioned my desire to remove this due to the incredibly toxic mercury. I've even wondered if the mercury filling was the trigger for my thyroid issues. What they don't tell you when they put mercury in your mouth is that one: it's toxic, and two: it expands. This expansion causes the tooth to crack, for which you then need a crown. My tooth has small cracks on all four sides, but they weren't sure if it had penetrated all the way around the bottom.

I was floored. How could I suddenly have so many things wrong? So, I started looking into natural ways to heal gums and cavities. I had heard about the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, but I decided to become more familiar with his work...and also oil pulling. I'm a huge proponent of the benefits of coconut oil, so I picked up the book, Oil Pulling Therapy by Dr. Bruce Fife.

This is an informative and fascinating read on the origins of oil pulling and the experiences people have had by doing it - including the experiences of Dr. Fife. So, I began oil pulling right after reading this and have been doing it almost everyday since (except when I'm out of town). It might take some getting used to but put on your big boy pants. I find it fascinating that people won't hesitate to put red dye no. 40 or other toxic, unpronounceable ingredients in their body, but then ask them to swish around some completely natural coconut oil in their mouth and they're suddenly a big baby. Anyway, I've noticed my gums looking a nice bright pink color, and where it seemed my gums could bleed easily before with flossing - very rarely now. The dentist noticed my healthy gums and said there was no further recession. I will tell you, good luck finding a dentist that will support your efforts to naturally heal your mouth. Most of them will likely poo-poo the practice of oil pulling, so you have to be your own advocate and try it for yourself. It can absolutely NOT hurt you. I was going to a dentist who recently added the word holistic to their website address and yet they seemed less-than-thrilled when hearing about my oil pulling and working to remineralize my teeth and reverse decay. The hygienist even referred to it as "the healthy stuff" I was doing. Yeah, that along with the fake plants in the waiting room were my clues that these people didn't know the first thing about being holistic. So, again, do your research. There are plenty of people willing to pretend they're something they're not to get your money and be part of something they think is trendy. If can make for some frustrating experiences. Trust me, I've been there. But don't give up.

As for me, I'm pretty vigilant about oral health since I'm realizing that all disease does truly begin in the mouth. The mouth is a part of the digestive tract, and if it's healthy, your intestines will be healthy.

read: what your doctor might not tell you about...

by darraugh collins in


I think so many women (myself included) don't even want to hear the words premenopause, or god forbid, menopause. We most likely have horrible visions of what these life events involve, not to mention the obvious fact of getting older - which so many fear and associate with a life that must only be getting worse. I'm hear to say, "snap outtavit!!" (OK, who loves the movie Moonstruck as much as me?!).

Getting older doesn't have to be this horrible, rotten, awful thing. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. The phases of premenopause and menopause don't have to involve holding a fan under your armpit, severe mood swings, and weight issues. Seriously, if we take care of our bodies and understand what is happening within our bodies during each phase, we can considerably change our outcome. I have believed this for some time because of all the research I've done in search of answers to my own health issues, but I read a book that I believe is essential for women to read.


In fact, if you're a woman between the ages of 30 and 50 and choose to only read one non-fiction book this year, make it this one. It was written in 1999 - yes, 1999!! Oh, how I wish I had known about this book in 1999. I would've seriously altered my own health journey for the better. No joke. I would have saved myself years of suffering without answers - or incorrect answers. Dr. John Lee and Dr. Jesse Hanley are amazing. Dr. Lee coined the phrase estrogen dominance, which is what I've struggled with for so long. What I find most amazing is that much of the information in the book I've learned from my own research over the years, because I couldn't find any doctors to truly help me (they only wanted to put a band-aid on my symptoms), and for the last 17 years this amazing information hasn't yet crossed over into the mainstream because our system of educating doctors still encourages them to treat symptoms, not root causes. I also find it interesting that I'm NOT a doctor, and I've managed to find this information for myself, yet most doctors out there appear to be living under a rock. For example, I might have thought one way about an issue, but if something seemed off, or if I questioned whether it was right, I look into it to find answers. And if those answers show otherwise, I change my course. But these are educated people (doctors!) who must obviously see the enormous obesity problem, diabetes problem, autoimmune problem, cancer problem, thyroid problem...yet...YET...they STILL think the brand of medicine they're slinging around is working.

Anyway, I could scratch my head all day on that one. The important thing is that you don't have to buy that brand of medicine if you don't want to. And it starts with taking control of your own health by educating yourself about your body. Stop being so disinterested. Your body is the most important thing you own, and without it you are literally nothing (and that is a correct use of the word literally).

If you're over the age of 50, definitely read their other book, What Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About Menopause, because it's filled with even more need-to-know information to help you through menopause and beyond.

READ THIS BOOK. Have you taken fertility drugs? Does your doctor have you on some form of estrogen? What can progesterone replacement do for you? Why is it better to take progesterone in cream form? Find out...

inspiration: framing alternatives

by darraugh collins in

I've shared with you (here) about a photo site that I love called Social Print Studio, but I've found another called Parabo Press that is also good and offers some really neat options for displaying on your walls. One is great alternative for photos, posters, prints, or here's an idea I love - hanging a really cool piece of wallpaper or wrapping paper. They're called wood poster, take a peek:

You might recognize this photo from yesterday's post on Food52. They offer something similar (shown here) and it looks like a really neat piece of wallpaper or wrapping paper.

Another idea for casually hanging photos is using washi tape, or Parabo Press has their mylar tape: