You Are At The Archives for 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009 in , , , , , , , ,

Free Food - an Ode to Nourishment

Funny that the place I now visit
for donations of government cheese
and frozen blueberries
is also a place that provides
of an entirely different sort.
Like a trail of crumbs
through the forest
scratched knees
fingers bleeding

and each crumb I put on my tongue
dissolved quickly

only to lead me to the next.
But not now...

The first visits were humbling
on levels I had never reached before.
Tears of desperation gracing my cheeks
like pilgrims

wandering through the arid landscape

seeking and seeking -

A glance of kindness
and a safe place
to strip off the artifice
of the outside world
and just ask -

Ask for help.

Garments of pride and prejudice
fall off
like lettuce leaves past their prime
and mix in with the moldy vegetables

hamburger buns

kind, worn hands

and government paperwork.

Sign here - X
To receive service.

The hours spent waiting
amidst others also seeking

As if we are all on a subway train

that departs from an old church basement
between 9-11 AM
every Thursday.
Enter the underground
and have a seat
Your turn will come soon enough.
Look carefully at faces
in this lobby -
the antechamber on the way to who-knows-where,
but it must be better, right?

Eyes filled with misty, lost thoughts
quickened by deliveries of spoiled apples

and the scurry that ensues
snare a share.

Piles of men's shirts

boxes of shoes
they all spur the pace of the room
then return
to sit
and wait some more.

I become half-visible
when I enter
the doors of the station.
Anonymous and among the mounting ranks
of middle class Americans

for something more.

This Thursday morning journey
has a hidden gift
that goes beyond the groceries.
Watch travelers joke
and talk.
Stop and look
at the light falling on faces.

Try to see beyond the skin

to the internal clickings and clackings

of the tracks going by
the crumbs hitting tongues

just a little more softly.

The time I fill with open thoughts
exposed to something I never would have seen

except I needed this -

for whatever reason -
I needed this.
Needed the cans

the bags

the bundles
and the time.
A year-long journey on this side street

to seek

to see
beyond the temptation of food
to being truly fed
to sit and read "Trout Fishing In America" one more time
and laugh at stories of trout flashing in streams

caught cold from the water
For that was dinner in a different time -
a more self-sufficient time for all of us.

And now I sit
and instead of tears
I can giggle a little
as I wait for my bags

and know that my journey is nearly through.

At home the frozen berries, blue and sweet

taste strangely like gratitude
spreading their sugar on my tongue.

Thank You

Dear Friends,
For the last year my family has been receiving assistance from our local food pantry. The journey of the past year, including this particular experience, has been nothing short of transformative for me. I could not be more grateful not only for the assistance but for what I have seen and felt during this time in my life.

I think it is important to remember as food stamp enrollment is soaring and food pantries are having difficulty maintaining food supplies that this can happen to anyone. It isn't just the downtrodden, the homeless, the mentally ill... it can be any of us. There is no shame in wanting to provide for your family and there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed.

My family's food budget was hit drastically at the beginning of this year as we struggled to make our mortgage payment. For 6 months now we have been waiting on news of a mortgage adjustment that was promised through the Home Affordable program. That program has now been denounced by the New York Times as having helped perhaps only a few tens of thousands of the 650,000 applicants who have requested adjustments due to hardship. Our lender, Coldwell Banker, has offered nothing but empty promises. Our government should be ashamed. This program is an utter failure and I can only assume that so many other families like ours are holding on, paying what they can, and seeking other assistance to make it through.

Through the amazing grace of our local pantry system, the generosity of my neighbors, and some very creative side work we have forged ahead. I just wanted to write a bit to the world this holiday and remind those that can to please donate and do what you can. But for grace and good fortune in your own life you could be here too.

It was in high school choir, taught by Claude Westfall, that I learned one of the most important life lessons I could have ever received.

"We are only as good as our weakest member."

This is true not only for a choir but for American society and the world as a whole. It is time to lift each other up a bit, to offer a hand to someone struggling, to think a little less about self and a little more about all. There could be nothing more important at a time of year dedicated to sharing and giving. Sometimes all it takes is a smile, so if you have nothing else to give right now perhaps just give that.

A little Good Will goes a long way. I'm proof, and I hope to share a little of my own and pay it forward.

Friday, October 9, 2009 in , , , , , ,

Bringing midwestern natural beauty to NYC

I'm a city girl by nature. Now there's an oxymoron! But it is true. I love the beat of urban environments, but I also love my natural world. When I have a chance to merge those two interests it's even better.

I was all about the chance to visit New York City to speak to members of the media about my Blissoma skincare line - made from local Midwestern and
global botanicals! Nature, meet the big city....

It was a short trip but a busy one. I cruised like any NYC pedestrian, enjoying the efficiency of the subway and my own bipedal skills. I wandered the parks, popped in boutiques, and bought Indian food from a hole-in-the-wall on 3rd Ave.

The big event was on Tuesday ni
ght at Rouge Tomate, a trendy eco-restaurant in Midtown just a few blocks off of Central Park. It was a stylish soiree and editors from major national publications were in attendance to see 40 of the country's premiere eco-luxury brands and learn about their offerings for fall 2009. I represented some of the forward-thinking ideas we are generating in the heartland. St. Louis may be smaller, but we have some pretty hip stuff happening these days...

Editors from Brides, Zink, More Magazine and many blogs and newspapers stopped to learn about Blissoma. I saw eco fashion designers, eco art, and sampled sustainable cuisine. What a night!I had the pleasure of meeting Allyson Shapiro Zarin, daughter of Jill Zarin of "Real Housewives of New York City". She is the Co-President of Teens Turning Green and offered us the chance to participate in some of their pre-prom parties. Teens Turning Green is a safe and sustainable cosmetic line designed for Whole Foods Market and aimed at young women to replace many of the more synthetic options available through conventional retailers.

I also met Allison Parris, owner of the Allison Parris eco clothing line and she asked us to participate with her fashion shows backstage. Allison was wearing a gorgeous silk skirt from her own line. Their clothing is is smooth, sexy, and sophisticated. I'm looking forward to working with them.

The next day I dropped samples off at C.O. Bigelow, the 168 year old apothecary in New York's West Village. Their team was friendly and we are hoping to work with them in the future. They already carry lines like Hauschka, Pangea Organics, Tsi La perfumes, This Works, Weleda, and many more unique and niche brands. Hopefully you will want to be able to find Blissoma there as well.

It was a whirlwind trip. Just 2 1/2 days to take it all in! But you know I'll be back for more. For now I 've got to be here holding down the fort, making more skincare, and sharing with you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 in , , , , , , , ,

Whole, local harvest for your face and body

The Midwest has had a ridiculously mild summer. St. Louis is usually a sweaty, humid mess by the time June rolls around but this year we had week after week of mild, breezy weather. By late July I was really starting to think I was in the Twilight Zone. With temperatures only barely topping 80 degrees it was getting a little freaky.
Not that I'm not thankful for the break in the air conditioning bills, but the weather has effects on many things. One of those things is the growth of local crops. Because of the mild weather many crops didn't mature as fast as usual.

Summer is usually filled with fresh produce coming from all directions, but I definitely began to notice the squeeze when we began ca
lling around for Organic Cucumbers. Our main wholesale supplier was (and still seems to be) out for a month and a half. Not that there weren't any tasty organic cukes in the bigger natural grocery stores. But perhaps there wasn't enough supply to then filter some over to the little guys.

Once the shortage continued for weeks on end I started callin
g around to local growers. With the fact that St. Louis has a good, solid, cold winter there are many months where we can't buy local - there just isn't anything available. Plus many of our local farms are not Certified Organic as they don't want to mess with the paperwork. They may be growing cleanly but without the certification we can't buy from them and honestly support the claims on our labels.

After a few calls I was able to locate Biver Farms, a lovely certified organic farm in Edwardsville, IL just 20 min
utes from us. The first week I called in mid August there were still no slicing cucumbers available. So we waited on pins and needles.

Last week, hallelujah, the harvest is in! I picked up 100 pounds of fresh, beautiful, locally grown organic cucumbers from their booth at the Tower Grove Farmer's Market. The weather was heavenly again and the veggies were plentiful at all the booths - in fact I had trouble not walking home with bushels of other produce as well.

Now we are cle
aning, peeling, and slicing our local cukes to make them into the fresh infusion for our Tone Intense Hydration Tonique and juicing them for our Natural Deodorant sprays. And here are the pics to prove it. Gorgeous, green, and great for your skin! 

Not many companies are willing to go this kind of distance to offer true botanical benefit in their products. Most companies buy preprocessed ingredients from giant suppliers who load them down with preservatives, propylene glycol, carbomer, and dimethicone. Not Blissoma. 

We prefer to put in the bit of extra work to ensure that you aren't getting anything but clean, raw, nutritious plants in our products. Sure, it makes our supply chain work a bit trickier. Sure, I stand for hours on end slicing, peeling, and straining. But our integrity is worth it, and so is your skin.So, for all you Locavores it doesn't get any better than this. Get your Blissoma crisp off the vine, cause it is!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009 in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Making Amends with your Sun-Damaged skin

Frolic in the outdoors has its cost.  Day by day that sun builds up on any exposed skin, even if you aren't big on tanning.

For a relatively pale person and sunscreen junky I even have a little color on my arms and face from the hours I have spent out in the backyard. Some of this summer's activities for me have included stripping and refinishing my bathroom door and one of my 100+ year old windows. All the paint removal and sanding was done outdoors to prevent mess and contamination of the house. Some of those days out on the parking pad were hot, hot, hot and directly in the sun for the whole day! Despite use of sunscreen of 30 and higher I still have the telltale freckles and peachy color that are my body's version of a tan.

Though you may not be in situations of
extreme exposure like that sun damage can build up gradually just from walking to and from your car or other brief activities like that. Anything counts. Your skin doesn't play, and UV exposure is UV exposure no matter how you slice it.

If you value your skin (and it is your largest organ!) you should be taking pro-active measures to keep your skin in top condition. Over time that UV exposure will cause the elastin in your skin to degrade, causing loss of firmness and wrinkling. Discoloration and uneven pigmentation is another long term result of overexposure. The big C (cancer) can result as well.

On a trip to Colorado earlier this year several estheticians in the area advised me that the incidence of skin cancer is very high among residents in their area of the country due to the outdoor lifestyle and higher elevations. Thinner air and close proximity to the sun means increased exposure. 

Sunscreen is not the only way to help skin protect itself. Antioxidants play a key role in keeping skin healthy much as they do the same internally. In particular an extract from Pomegranate containing a fraction known as Punicalagins helps protect cells against UV damage and degradation. This extract was previously used internally, but now is available as an external application. The science-backed research proving it's ability to decrease UV induced cell death, reactive oxygen species, and collagenases that cause collagen deterioration is the reason Blissoma has chosen to include this extract in a new antioxidant sprayable lotion called Amend.

Amend is a super lightweight, intensive body treatment designed to prevent, soothe, and repair sun damage. It not only contains Pomegranate but a host of other antioxidant ingredients like organic Rooibos tea and Acai oil, plus soothing and reparative herbs like organic Linden flower, Heather flowers, and Comfrey. All these help build and repair collagen as well as minimizing long-term damage from daily or intense exposure. It can be applied before sunscreen because of it's non-greasy consistency. It has a fresh, delicious smell beloved by men, women, and children alike. Should you get a little pink it takes the sting right out and can be applied as often as desired while healing. And yes, it contains organic Aloe as well, so all the bases are covered.

The ingredients list is cleaner than most plain aloe gels. No green color, no carbomer, no TEA, and no synthetic preservatives. I'm pretty picky about what goes on my skin and yours.

There is no time like the present to start taking care of your skin. Just because it's August doesn't mean it is too late, lazybones! Get some Amend and feel the heal. When your arms are looking cute in 20 years you'll thank yourself for the bit of extra care you took now.

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