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Free Thought Fridays: Animals in the Circus

Source – Monkey Training for a Circus by Chinese photographer Yongzhi Chu. This picture shows a monkey being trained for circus in Suzhou, Anhui Province. The town is considered the home of the Chinese circus with more than 300 troupes

Sometimes I think I should’ve become a vet or maybe in my past life I worked with animals. Seems like a funny thing to say but I don’t know how else to explain my deep and abiding love and respect for animals. These days the animals of the world need every advocate they can get. We’re pushing too many of them to the brink of extinction with the outdated ways of thinking that remain alive today. Animals in the circus is one example of outmoded thinking that has remained. This is not a life I would wish on anyone, much less an animal that belongs in the wild. There are still circuses in the USA and Europe that use animals. Elephants, tigers, lions, bears, chimps, and horses are often “disciplined” in order to be trained. This means being tied up all hours of the day except when “performing” as well as being beaten or whipped until they comply due to exhaustion. When animals in the circus travel they are forced to endure cramped conditions without adequate food, water, or space to move. They are chained up in large trailers and expected to endure transportation without complaint. The photo above clearly shows how terrified this monkey is of being whipped by the man towering above him. It makes me cry to see this picture and to think of all the animals abused in the circus. It just breaks my heart to see any animal mistreated. It’s especially galling when you think of how their wild cousins are allowed to roam freely without the threat of whips and chains. Sure, life in the wild has its risks. Elephants are poached, lions and tigers are shot dead by trophy hunters. But at least they have the chance to live wild and are allowed to exhibit their natural instincts and behaviours. What really bugs me is that some people still think it’s amusing or “entertaining” to see animals perform tricks. If they really knew how the animals were being treated would they feel the same? Food for thought: if you wouldn’t like being chained up, whipped until you do a “trick”, or caged in a box without food or water for hours, what makes you think a wild animal would like it?

Source – How elephants were transported in the 1930’s

Further reading:

Animals Used for Entertainment – PETA

11 Facts About Circus Animal Abuse – Do Something.org

Circus Cruelty – ASPCA

Enjoy the Circus? The Animals Don’t – PAWS



Product Review: 100% Pure Vanilla Bean Nourishing Body Cream


Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Aloe Juice)*, Organic Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Rose Hydrosol)*, Theobroma Cacao Seed (Cocoa) Butter, Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado Butter), Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) Seed Oil, Organic Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Ribes Nigrum (Blackcurrant) Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Vanilla Planifolia Fruit (Vanilla Absolute) Extract, Corylus Avellana Seed (Hazelnut) Oil, Extracts of Organic Coffee Kona (Green Coffee)*, Organic Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Fruit*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Organic Rubus Idaeus Fruit (Raspberry)*, Rubus Fruticosus Fruit (Blackberry) and Organic Camelia Sinensis Leaf (White Tea)*, Citric Adid, Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Extract of Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf, Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf , Thymus Vulgaris Flower/Leaf (Thyme), Hydrastis Canadersis (Goldenseal), Ethyl Alcohol (Grain Alcohol), Extracts of Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Berry) Fruit, Resveratrol, Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf*, Garcinia Mangosteen (Mangosteen) Peel, Lycium Barbarum (Goji Berry) Fruit, Aristotelia Chilensis (Maqui Berry), Sambucus Canadensis (Elderberry) and Vitis Vinifera (Muscadine Grape) Skin * Certified Organic

Previously I had only tried a small sample from Glam Goes Green. When I was Christmas shopping I went to Husk and bought the full sized tube of body cream. I have to say, this stuff is the bomb! It smells like the world’s most yummiest, mouth watering vanilla cupcake. I’m not usually a fan of vanilla and neither is hubby. But we both agree this stuff smells amazing. Okay, besides the lovely scent it’s a really good body cream. It’s a nice thick white cream and I could use oodles of this really quickly because it feels so luxurious. Instead, I like to spread it on damp skin just after my shower and amazingly, it still moisturizes really well if sparingly used. My skin absorbs this body cream like a sponge and I don’t get sticky or oily, unlike using pure coconut oil as a moisturizer. I would definitely repurchase this in the future. My only small complaint would be the tube it comes in. When you get towards the end of the tube it gets really hard to squeeze all the lotion out.

Cost: $21.00 CAD, 236 ml / 8.0 oz
Available at: Glam Goes Green, 100% Pure, Husk
Rating: 5/5



DIY: Balancing Facial Oil

I’ve been on a real DIY streak lately. I guess it’s because at this point in my life I’m finding that simple is better. My most recent DIY venture is making my own balancing facial oil specifically for my acne prone sensitive skin. I took a look at Osmia Organic’s ingredients list for their spot treatment for some guidance and came up with this facial oil that suits my skin’s needs perfectly. I just made this facial oil on the fly so keep in mind you may need to adjust ingredients according to your own skin type. Jojoba oil and avocado oil are both oils with stellar hydrating properties. As for the essential oils, they all have some very interesting therapeutic and aromatherapy properties that I could talk about all day long. Tea tree is antimicrobial and antifungal, as well as being effective for stimulating the immune system. Cypress is astringent, antiseptic, and works well to soothe and calm the nerves. Thyme is cleansing, purifying and aids memory and concentration. Rosemary is also astringent and great for clearing the mind and improving mental awareness.


¼ cup jojoba oil
¼ cup avocado oil
2 drops tea tree essential oil
2 drops cypress essential oil
2 drops thyme essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine the oils and essential oils in a glass bottle and store in a cool, dry place for up to a month. Essential oils are very potent. If you have very sensitive skin you should probably start with just one drop of each oil (or even cut down the number of essential oils you use) and do a patch test to see if you develop a reaction. I put my oils in a glass bottle with pump top for easy dispensing.

Below is a picture of what the oils actually look like after being combined. I like to use this oil on my face after removing make up and then spritzing with toner. If I need more hydration after that, I will add a layer of moisturizer once my skin has absorbed the oil. If I have blemishes I spot treat them with a DIY blemish treatment where needed.

There you have it, my first DIY facial oil that I made without following a recipe! It’s been working wonders for my skin so far. My skin has been very balanced and hydrated lately. When I do get blemishes, they are small and disappear quickly without my having to do too much to them.

Have you ever tried making your own facial oil?


Spotlight on: Liisa Allen, founder of Silkka Garden Apothecary

Note: Logo images are from the Silkka Garden Apothecary website.

I first learned of Silkka Garden Apothecary browsing the web for Canadian-made skincare. As my dear blog readers know, I love Canadian-made skincare and I’m always looking to try new brands to promote them. There are so many amazing Canadian businesses out there that the average Canadian consumer knows nothing about! Then I saw She’s So Eco’s post about her current skincare routine, mentioning Silkka. That confirmed it for me, I had to learn more! Now we get to go behind the scenes to discover the brand’s process and learn more about founder/crafter Liisa Allen’s journey. Read on for the interview and read yesterday’s reviews on the lovely products Liisa was so kind to send to me. I think you’ll agree that both Liisa and Silkka Garden Apothecary are fascinating!


   Was it natural transition for you to go from being a journalist/freelance writer to a crafter of skincare?

   Yes, I think it was. I have always had an insatiable curiosity, wanting to understand how things work, how things are made. (“Why?” may have been my favourite question as a child.) Research has always been one of the most interesting aspects of writing for me, and coupled with my love for DIY, I’m not at all surprised that I fell in love with crafting skincare. My interest in it arose when I was pregnant with my first child, and once I started to scratch the surface of personal care labels, I felt compelled to dig a bit deeper to understand not only the ingredients being added to products but why. It made me realize that, as consumers, we’d started to expect certain characteristics in a product, and these were all very superficial things (how a product glides, or how quickly it’s absorbed by the skin, for example). It saddened me to realize we’d all been led to believe we needed these qualities in a product, when in truth we need so much less to nourish our skin. Ultimately, it’s simplicity we should be looking for in a product.

   How did you start your education in natural skincare?

   Reading practically anything I could get my hands on about skincare, anatomy, plants and essential oils. Once I started experimenting with different formulas, and realized I could satisfy my skin’s needs with very few ingredients, I was completely charmed by the idea of crafting my own skincare from then on. Of course, the best way to learn your craft is to get your hands dirty, and that applies to any skill or hobby. You can read books about writing or playing an instrument or taking photographs, but if you don’t actually practice it’s all for naught. While I credit education (I’m currently studying for my aromatherapy certification) for providing me with more in-depth knowledge, nothing has truly provided the understanding of how ingredients interact better than working with them.

   What one ingredient or product would you never, ever use today and why?

   There are many, but if I have to choose it would be “fragrance.” There are many undisclosed chemicals that comprise synthetic fragrances, like phthalates (a class of chemicals linked to hormone disruption) and neurotoxins (chemicals toxic to the brain) and besides that, they smell so unnatural.

House 020

   Besides the products you create, what do you use in your daily routine?

   Make-up, if I’m going out (which really just means to the grocery store), but it’s a pretty basic routine consisting of concealer, blush, eyeliner, mascara and lip balm. On a typical day I use Sukin Organics shampoo and conditioner, Green Beaver fluoride-free toothpaste, whatever deodorant I’ve concocted last, and raw honey to wash my face with.

It’s a simple routine, obviously, but I prefer it that way. Over time I’ve found that having a lot of stuff, whether it’s clothes, beauty products or knickknacks, really weighs me down. I truly believe less is more, in all areas of life.

   What are your dreams or plans for where you would like to see Silkka go?

   In the immediate future I’m focused on growing the line, and including more products to accommodate a variety of skin types. The big dream includes planting and harvesting Silkka’s “Garden Apothecary” of healing herbs, offering a full range of products (for the entire family), and hiring a small staff to help in all areas of operations. Ultimately, I’d love to see Silkka products in stores across Canada, and with the growing awareness of and interest in natural products, I see this as a very real and attainable goal. I also think there’s still a bit of a niche to fill, in terms of affordability. From the beginning I pledged to make my products more affordable than most, and you’ll find almost all of Silkka’s current products are under $20. Whatever’s in store, I’m looking forward to the year ahead, connecting with customers new and old, hearing their feedback, and continuing to introduce new products to the line. I truly love what I do, and feel extremely fortunate that I get to do this every day!

My thanks to Liisa Allen not only for doing this interview and sending me the products (which I love) but for being a real sweetheart to deal with. You have a genuine warmth and sincerity that comes across in all the things you do and it has been a pleasure communicating with you. I’m sure others besides myself will fall in love with Silkka Garden Apothecary‘s products and with you!


Product Review: Silkka Garden Apothecary Blossom Hydration Mist and Grapefruit + Mint Cleansing Balm


Blossom Hydration Mist

Ingredients: Michelia champaca (Magnolia) floral water, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) floral water, Aloe barbadensis (Aloe) leaf juice and Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate.

This mist smells like a beautiful floral paradise. That makes sense once you look at the ingredients! Magnolia and chamomile floral waters make up the bulk of the ingredients. Aloe vera and chamomile assist with hydration as well as having soothing, cooling properties. I haven’t seen Magnolia used often in eco beauty but it does have an “ability to relax and rejuvenate the spirit.” The timing couldn’t be better for me to receive these products from the lovely and sweet Liisa Allen, founder and creator of Silkka Garden Apothecary’s products. It’s winter time and my skin has badly needed hydration this season. I’m usually one of those shiny, oily gals but this winter my skin really dried out, and started flaking and peeling. Not pretty! Thankfully the Blossom Hydration Mist and the Grapefruit + Mint Cleansing Balm did a one two punch on my dryness and knocked them out. The way I like to use this mist is to spray it on my face before putting on my primer and makeup for the day. It works so well at keeping my skin from getting too dried out. If I feel I need an extra boost of moisture throughout the day I bring out a tiny spray bottle I’ve transferred it into and spritz myself at work. I also spray it on my hair when I want to smell really pretty. Besides keeping my skin wonderfully hydrated, on days when I was fighting an allergic skin reaction it also helped calm my skin down. What can I say? This mist is pretty awesome. I would definitely repurchase this.

Cost: $15.00 CAD, 60 ml / 2 oz
Available at: Silkka Garden Apothecary
Rating: 5/5


Grapefruit + Mint Cleansing Balm

Ingredients: Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil, Camellia sinensis (seed) oil, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Mango (Mangifera indica) butter, non-GMO Glycine (soy butter) soja, Cera alba (beeswax) and essential oils of Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) and Mentha arvensis (Peppermint).

I haven’t had good experiences in the past with cleansing balms, so I wasn’t sure how my skin would react to this one. But I’m happy to report that my skin loved it! I also tested this balm on my body and it’s an overall great product to use. The balm is slightly grainy when you first take it out of the pot but melts easily onto the skin when warmed up by your body heat. It feels velvety and luxurious going on as a moisturizer. Plus it smells nice! The smell is lovely and subtle. I love multi-use products, especially when they are of good quality like this one. Not only do multi-use products save shelf space but also time and money. You don’t have to go out and buy two or three different things when this little baby can do it all. It worked really well for me as a cleanser, a body balm, and a moisturizing treatment mask. Without Silkka Garden Apothecary’s mist and this balm I would’ve had alligator skin this whole winter. I’m going to repurchase this as soon as I run out of it!

Cost: $ 17.00 CAD, 50 ml / 1.6 oz
Available at: Silkka Garden Apothecary
Rating: 5/5

My thanks to Liisa Allen of Silkka Garden Apothecary for the beautiful products. Stay tuned tomorrow for my interview with Liisa Allen!

Have you ever tried Silkka Garden Apothecary?


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