October 2018

My Skin’s Road To Redemption Is Paved In Serum

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Author Profile: 40-something mom of two; Life’s Abundance marketing manager; part-time farmer; full-time penny pincher; a little more crunchy than country.

My dearest friend from college, Kristan, has spent much of our friendship lovingly prodding me to take care of my appearance — via makeup tips, wardrobe audits, encouragement toward adopting a basic skin care routine, etc. Much the way I view my floors — “With a good scrubbing, that tile will really shine!” — she’s long been adamant that a little TLC could do wonders for my complexion.

Alas. Clean floors and counters bring me joy, but for most of my adulthood, I just haven’t found it within myself to invest time and money into my own appearance. Then I turned 40, and a close look at my reflection led to an unsettling series of revelations. I have perpetually dry skin despite my high-humidity environment, irritating monthly breakouts, patchy redness on my cheeks and fine lines around my eyes (OMG).

I realized Kristan had been right all along — skin care was worth my attention. The proof was staring back at me in the mirror.

Now, in fairness to myself, it’s not like I’d neglected my skin completely. For years I’d bounced around between organic or natural daily moisturizers. I’m a label-reader, so though I never loved any of these products (and they clearly weren’t working for me given the state of my complexion), I stuck with my lotion strategy. After all, these were nontoxic — that’s worth something, right?

For a while, I was generally OK with this half-truth. But when my 30s ended, it was time to get real. With those lines around my eyes, smiling suddenly felt like a high-stakes game. Because my skin felt so parched and brittle, I was certain any expression of emotion would be permanently etched into my face. I needed to make a change.

So, I took a deep breath and plunged into the murky and expensive world of serums. Being new to this level of skin care (and a little bitter about having to undertake this journey in the first place), I didn’t know what I was looking for, which made the shopping process unpleasant and tedious. Researching these potential cures-in-a-bottle — vetting their ingredients, reading their claims and poring over online reviews — was about as much fun as listening to Uncle Jim drone on about his wine collection during family dinners. And no matter how much money I spent, I got mixed results. Sometimes these products left me feeling greasy; other times they had no effect at all. Regardless, I used every last drop because I’d spent my family’s money on this higher-priced product. Always I cursed my inability to get the skin I wanted.

Countless disappointments later, I thought I had three options — live with new wrinkles, shell out big bucks for not-so-nontoxic treatments, or train myself not to smile.

But then, my employer developed a skin-care line, and I decided to give serums one more try.

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Life’s Abundance doesn’t mess around with iffy ingredients, and we pride ourselves on selling products that deliver on their promises. And guys, this product delivers. I introduced Life’s Abundance Serum into my routine without changing anything else. After a week of once-daily use, the redness on my cheeks was completely gone! I have small pores to begin with, hence the dry skin, but they’ve tightened up and smoothed out even more. I feel like my skin looks flawless! Plus, I am delighted to report — NO monthly breakouts! I’ve now found a balance using the serum two to three times a week, and the Life’s Abundance Facial Moisturizer on the other days. And, shout out to all the other label-readers out there: This formula is 100% botanical. Read it and leap!

Bottom line: If my complexion was smooth, plump and even-toned when I was 20, I didn’t appreciate it. But, I sure do now.

Arin-Roos
Arin Roos, Marketing Director

World’s Creepiest Cat Legends

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If we asked you to name something spooky about cats, you’d probably mention a black cat crossing your path leading to misfortune. But a bit of bad luck pales in comparison to some of the terrifying myths of times past.

Cats are undeniably enigmatic. There’s just something about those haunting eyes, their silent, furtive movements and a wail that reminds some of babies crying. Whatever the cause, that air of mystery has lead humans over the course of human history to entertain a whole host of seriously scary - or even downright strange - beliefs involving felines. Honestly, it would be easy to fill a book’s worth of information of this topic, but we’ve culled that down to a manageable list of five. After reading these decidedly spooky superstitions, you’ll feel like the scaredy cat. But don’t worry, your sweet kitty will be there to comfort you.

Sith Cats

A fairy creature from both Celtic and Scottish mythology, Sith Cats were large black cats with splash of white fur on its chest. While Sith Cats were believed to be spectral in nature, they were inspired by actual creatures known as Kellas cats, a hybrid between wildcats and domestic cats only found in Scotland. They were believed to have nefarious purposes, including a desire to consume souls immediately after death. Every year on Samhain (which we now celebrate as Halloween), houses where an offering of a saucer of milk was left outside would be blessed by the being, while those that did not would suffer a curse. Fun Fact: The Scots believed the Cat Sith was actually a witch that had the ability to transform into a cat, but that the witch was limited to only nine transformations in a lifetime. Scholars believe this is the origin of the belief that cats enjoy nine lives!

The Matagot

First conceived in the oral traditions of southern France, the Matagot (also referred to as Mandagot) is a mischievous spirit. While it was capable of shapeshifting into a number of animals (such as a rat, a fox, a dog and even a cow), its preferred form was that of a black cat. Matagots were considered evil in nature, but they could be trapped whereupon it would take a largely beneficial role for its captor. The legend states that if you lured one from its hiding spot with a serving of fresh, meaty chicken and then scooped it up and walked straight home without looking behind you, it would become a source of dependable good fortune. There were a couple of catches, as there always are with magical beings. First, before every meal, you would have to feed the first mouthful of your food and the first sip of your drink to the Matagot. If you managed to stick to that routine, each morning you would find a gold coin. Second, you would have to release the creature from this servitude well prior to your death. Otherwise, your last days on earth would assuredly be agonizingly painful.

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The Bakeneko of Nabeshima (aka, Vampire Cat)

The origin of this terrifying legend is from 16th century Japan. One of the more frightening creatures, this cat not only sought to devour humans, but immediately afterwards would assume their victim’s exact likeness, whereupon they would attempt to deceive other humans, thus continuing a vicious cycle. Aside from their shapeshifting abilities, they were believed to wear strange hats for dancing, perfectly imitate human speech, have the ability to place hexes on people (especially those who were known for their cruelty to cats), possession, and even a penchant for hiding in mountainous locales where they would tame and train wolves to assist them in attacking weary travelers far from home.

The Wampus Cat

Believed to originate among the Cherokee people, the mythical Wampus Cat is a common staple of Appalachian folklore. A shapeshifter, its most common manifestation was as a large, wild cat, but it could also take the shape of a beautiful woman. It was considered a ferocious creature, capable of driving even the bravest of warriors to the brink of insanity. J.K. Rowling’s fans may recognize this magical being as a source for the hair that Garrick Ollivander used in the creation of certain magic wands. Fun Fact: the word “catawampus,” which means “out of alignment” but also “fierce and destructive,” arises from this myth.

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The Black Cat of KillaKee

Like all of our the supernatural kitties, this Irish creature's origins began centuries ago. However, sightings have continued into modern times, which makes this arguably the most frightening. Like the tall tales that are common in the area, this one is attached to a particular great house. But we can assure you, nothing like this ever happened on Downton Abbey. Located in Dublin, the Killakee House was rumored to be haunted by a spectacularly creepy cat. Though technically it stalked the grounds, unlike other big cat sightings in the UK, the main difference is that this cat is supernatural.

In 1968, a young couple bought the Killakee House and began much needed renovations. Within days, workers started hearing strange noises and sensing things that quite frankly were decidedly spooky. Things came to a head when the workers were shocked by the sudden appearance of a towering black cat with eyes that "glowed like a demon." Just as the renovators started freaking out, the specter vanished. Afterwards, the new owners listened politely to the story, but didn't put much stock in the tale. And then ... the creature appeared to each of the new owners in turn. The giant apparition appeared in every corner of the house, despite locked doors and windows, stalking the couple with its penetrating stare and toothy snarls. The newlyweds sought help from the Catholic Church, whereupon an exorcism was performed on the estate. For a few months, everything was quiet, and the two believed their nightmare was finally over. Sometime later, however, a group of actors visiting the estate held a séance, whereupon the devilish creature returned, bringing with it two frightening ghosts dressed in nuns' garb. And thus, the nightmare continues.

5 Spooky Canine Superstitions

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We’re all familiar with the long and storied association between cats and mythology. It makes sense: they are mysterious creatures, well suited to legends and lore. But what about dogs? As man’s best friend, they fall into a bit more of a predictable and familiar category. Or do they?

As much time as we spend with dogs, it makes sense that superstitions would crop up over time. While some are specific to a certain time or place, others are more universal. Where did these myths come from, and why? Read on to learn about five of the most unusual ideas and legends surrounding our canine companions!

1. A Howling Dog Brings Death

Origin: This is one of the most common dog superstitions, and can be found in multiple cultures. In Greek mythology, the howling of a dog was thought to signal that the Wind God had summoned death to a nearby home. In Norse mythology, dogs howl at the approach of Freyja, the Goddess of Death. Why? Because her chariot is pulled by two giant cats (think about it). In Welsh lore, the king of Annwn would patrol the land riding supernatural hounds that only other dogs could see. The howling was their way of acknowledging the presence of these spooky beasts as they raced by.

Facts: Dogs howl as a form of communication. Sometimes it's for attention, other times it's an expression of anxiety, and sometimes it’s just a loud way of saying, “HELLOOOOOO." As a form of communication, it’s very effective! As a former coonhound owner, I can attest to the fact that baying carries over long distances. Remember, dogs are pack animals, much like their relatives, wolves, whose howl can be heard for many miles!

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2. Dogs Can See Ghosts

Origin: If you’ve lived with a dog, you’ve probably had this hair-raising experience ... it’s pitch black outside. You’re home alone. In the eerie silence, your dog suddenly starts to stare at a wall (or worse, a door with no window) and starts to growl, hackles raised. Are they seeing the supernatural?

Facts: Dogs do perceive the world differently than we do, but that’s hardly proof of the supernatural. From dog whistles that pick up high frequencies we cannot register to a sense of smell 10,000 more sensitive than our own, dogs enjoy a heightened experience of their environment beyond our capabilities.

Out in the world, many people report dogs appearing agitated in the moments before earthquakes or other natural disasters. It is theorized dogs can pick up on sensitive vibrations we miss. People have taken advantage of these sensitivities to train dogs in everything from seizure alerts to cancer detection, proving that in almost every sense, dogs out-perceive the world compared to you and me. So what is your dog growling at in the dead of night? Let’s tell ourselves something comforting so we can fall asleep tonight.

3. If You Step in Dog Poo, Do it Properly

Origin: This one is specific to France, land of croissants, the Louvre, and lots and lots of dog poop. According to local lore, stepping in dog piles with your left foot is good luck, while stepping in it with your right? Woe be unto you!

Fact: More than anything, this legend reflects that as a “scoop your poop” culture, France has a long way to go. A recent survey noted that while 1.85 million dog waste bags were sold in the UK in 2015, France sold a mere 3,600. That’s one fifth of one percent as many bags being sold, people. Until 2007, dog poop wasn’t even mentioned in French law at all. Mon dieu!

I think no matter where you live we can all agree on one thing. Stepping in a warm pile of dog waste never feels lucky, regardless of the foot.

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4. Seeing Three White Dogs Together Signals Good Luck

Origin: An English myth contends that seeing three white dogs standing together is a sign of good fortune, particularly financial luck. An alternate version states the same good luck will come to you if you spot a Dalmatian (pun intended!) on the way to a business meeting.

Fact: No one is quite sure where this came from. Maybe because these dogs were rare, it was more of a unique find to see them wandering the streets! Just as possible is the simple associations people make between white being a symbol of good luck and black a symbol of bad luck, an unfortunate fallacy that results in many wonderful black cats and dogs having a more difficult time getting adopted. As someone who adopted both a beautiful black Labrador and a sweet and wonderful black cat, I’m convinced they bring nothing but great fortune.

5. No Dogs Allowed On Board Ships

Origin: Historically, nautical legend is filled with a wide variety of superstitions about who and what can come on board. It makes sense. Sailing is by nature a dangerous occupation, so every time something terrible would happen, it’s only natural to look for some external cause. Better to blame the flowers or bananas you brought on board than the terrible weather you had no control over. But why dogs? That, unfortunately, remains a mystery. You’d think those long, lonely days out on the open seas could only be improved with a happy companion. Maybe it was the fleas they brought as stowaways?

Fact: Times have changed. Dogs are now considered faithful companions to many seafaring people. You can even get your dog his or her own lifejacket if you’re planning to bring him aboard. If you want any further proof about how much our views have evolved over time, consider this: cats on board ships used to be considered good luck, probably due to their ability to control the rodent population. Can you imagine taking today's average house cat out on the high seas? Yikes!

If you ask me, having a dog in the house is good luck no matter what. According to my own personal legends and lore, dogs bring good health, happiness, and reduced stress to all they come across. That's a story I could tell again and again!

Have you ever heard a dog-related superstition? Share it in the comments section below!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Pumpkin Spice Protein Truffles

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Nothing says Halloween is just around the corner like the arrival of pumpkin season. Sadly, many of us never really enjoy the fruits of this versatile squash varietal. Amazingly, you can easily bake or boil your own pumpkin purée using the innards of your decorative jack o’ lanterns!

This October, instead of stocking up brightly colored, high-fructose-corn-syrup concoctions that can cause repeated sugar crashes that leave you feeling like an empty gourd, why not try an entirely new fall delicacy using pumpkin purée? We promise, there’s nothing terrifying - or tricky - about these tasty treats.

Sure to delight, nourish and leave you with a big, toothy grin on your face, this no-fuss, no-bake recipe will help banish the hobgoblins of low-blood sugar and in-between-meal cravings. And the perfectly balanced blend of spices will instantly transport you to fall memories of years past.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cup oats
½ cup pumpkin purée
¼ cup coconut palm sugar
2 Tbsp. Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Unsweetened desiccated coconut or cinnamon to coat

DIRECTIONS

1. In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse oats until a fine powder is achieved.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oat powder with remaining dry ingredients.
3. Fold in wet ingredients until evenly combined. The batter should be firm with just enough moisture to allow the coconut coating to stick (next step).
4. Use hands or a 1-inch scoop to make small dough balls. Roll balls until outside is smooth, coating in chopped coconut, cinnamon or topping of choice.
5. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week … even though they’ll never last that long because they’re just too darn delicious!

This recipe yields approximately two dozen 1-inch bites. Enjoy!

Junk Drawer Confessions

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Since my early 20s, I’ve been obsessed with skin care products. This means that over the course of 40-some years, I’ve brought home a heck of a lot of serums, moisturizers and, especially, cleansers. And you know where most of them end up? Not on my face.

They also don’t land in the trash because I hate the thought that I chose wrong — again — and wasted my money — again. So, I’ve got piles of half-empty failed products jamming up my bathroom drawer. Truth be told, I could probably pay for a new car with all the money I’ve spent over the years in my efforts to look and feel better.

It’s a vicious and annoying cycle that I think I’ve finally broken.

I’m a sucker for promises — that’s how this all started. Health and wellness are very important to me, as are looking and feeling better, so I have been eager to believe. Over and over again I’ll buy something because it seems great at first glance, but then it quickly stops working. Or I’ll read the ingredients more closely at home and realize that it’s packed with a bunch of scary chemicals that I don’t recognize or understand and should have more carefully researched before buying. Either way, it ends up in the drawer.

If it’s packed with chemicals, I then make a trip (a well-worn path by now) to the health food store, where I carefully read the ingredients and choose my next purchase. For a moment, I’ll feel really good about myself and hope springs eternal. But then it doesn’t work. Once again, the junk drawer receives another half-empty bottle. Same with all the new skin care companies online — the words sound good, but nothing has been effective. Yet, I’m the one with the guilt!

Finding skin care products that do what they say they should do while trying to avoid chemicals is a maddening process.

If you are even vaguely familiar with this vicious circle than you will understand why we at Life’s Abundance decided to develop a skin care line with organic ingredients that are formulated to actually work.

Skin Care 2

My favorite product in this new line is the Facial Cleanser. I have oily skin, so I've always used foams and gels. What I didn’t know was that these kinds of cleansers stripped my skin of its natural oils, making my skin go into oil-production mode.

When I first tested our cleanser, I noticed how light and creamy it is. It took off all my makeup, and after rinsing, my face felt super clean but smooth and soft. For the first time ever, my skin had noticeably less oil. And week after week, it stayed that way! I loved it so much that I kept returning to our warehouse for samples.

My bottle of Life’s Abundance is sitting proudly on my bathroom sink. And you know what? Now that I’ve finally found a product that works, I think it’s time to empty out that blasted drawer.

Linda Logue
VP of Marketing