Vacations with my family are the absolute best, y'all. I mean, vacations in general never really disappoint, do they? I'm so excited that I'll be heading out west - to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon - to hang out with the gang, explore the great outdoors and visit some vineyards. Feel free to follow along on the instagram feed, @hippieteaparty, or to check back here on July 8th when I'm back in business. In the meantime, though, have an amazing Fourth of July weekend. I hope it's as fun-filled for you as it's going to be for me!

PS. Above pic was from a trip to Jackson Hole with the fam, a few years back. Can't wait to share all the amazing pictures sure to come out of this trip. 


The Rabbit Food Diaries: 4, 3, 2, 1

It's the final countdown (*cue epic music*).

The Rabbit Food Diaries has flown by so fast, y'all. To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure that I'm ready for it to end in just FOUR DAYS. I know it's not some long, arduous journey through the wilderness (i.e., Cheryl Strayed in Wild) or a three-tiered life makeover in foreign countries (i.e., Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love), but it still feels like this has been a massive shift for me. Everyone I talk to now is marvelously supportive, although it was definitely hard for me to find my footing at first. And truthfully, I can't tell whether or not it's because I had to begin this whole thing by weeding people out of my life who were being judgmental, or because now the people I surround myself with are just used to me repeatedly saying, "Sorry, I can't eat that" (I say it a lot).

At the very least, all this has gotten infinitely easier to talk about more openly. When I started this little adventure, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to share it. A friend encouraged me, and so I figured, what could it hurt to share this semi-weird thing that I'm doing with a bunch of strangers on the interwebs? Surely they've seen weirder. And there's certainly got to be someone out there who's going through a transition in their life like me. If anything, it could only help us come together and garner more support for each other. Maybe I'll make some new friends, or maybe I'll learn more about myself by writing as I go. And I'm so incredibly happy and grateful that I did decide to share with y'all.

Now, some out there have been e-mailing, asking me questions about everything, and I wanted to address the FAQs properly. I'm going to have to do another version of TRFD again in the fall season (repeat offender, this time a bit shorter but more intense), so it's not something that will be leaving the HTP sphere anytime soon. I'm just taking a bit of a hiatus now that the 140 days will soon be over - July 1, I'm looking at you - to regain my sanity a bit before diving back in. With that in mind, onto the FAQs!

1. Do you feel a difference in your body?
Yes, 100%. I feel cleaner, clearer, and stronger. A lot of that I also attribute to now doing yoga at least once a day, but the difference in food intake is a major, major factor that cannot and should not be overlooked. Any time you eliminate things from your diet, you're going to feel it - whether or not that's like me going for broke with plant-based foods, or if you "forget" to eat veggies for a few days in a row (admit it, you know you've been there at some point). Either way, that difference always rears it's head. Your body screams for one thing or the other, and you try to feed it accordingly. Mine just is a bit speedier with the messages now. For the first month or so, I felt... well, the only word to describe it was "sober." Then I slowly started realizing how different foods energized me, or made me sluggish, or cleared up my skin. It'll be even more interesting coming out of this and experimenting with adding foods back into my diet and watching how they effect me now. Obviously, I'll keep you posted.

2. Have you lost any weight?
I get this question a lot, and it's a little unsettling when I do. I hate to be that girl, but I really, truly, don't weigh myself very often. I really try quite hard not to pay attention to those numbers. It's more important to me to feel good than to be a certain digit on a scale. But! I've been doing so much yoga, and that's built up my muscle mass for sure. So, while I might have lost a touch of weight, I also think that I gained some, too. In general, though, my goal here was NOT to lose weight. I'm 5'0" and a tiny person to begin with - and when I first told a few of my friends that I was going to be doing TRFD, each one of them said the same thing: "You're going to lose so much weight! You'll look like a waif." That's the opposite of what I wanted! So, while I'm eating foods that are plant-based and might indeed be healthier, weight was never a part of TRFD. I don't really make portion control a thing with my new foods, so a lot of the time I'm scarfing down a kale salad with creamy cashew dressing, and before I know it, my plate is completely clean and I'm licking the remnants off the dish. True. Frickin'. Story. I eat more food now than I ever did before.

3. Do you think you'll go back to eating the same way that you did before TRFD?
No - but not for the reasons that you might think. I still miss fried chicken. I still crave cheese. I want to stick my face into a warm, fluffy pita bread and smother everything in butter prior to eating it. You can take the girl out of the south, but you sure as heck can't make the girl stop wanting grits and biscuits as a side to every meal. But, as I learned more about the food industry and about nutrition in general, and as I learned more about the way that livestock is treated, and the links between food and various diseases, there are some things that I won't be able to un-learn, if you catch my drift. I'm actually a bit petrified of introducing certain ingredients back into my diet, and I might hold off on them completely for a while (*ahem* dairy, sorry my love). I also think that this has helped me to learn the balance of food and life - when to eat, how to eat, and what to eat. This is something I more or less took for granted before TRFD, and I was remarkably imbalanced because of it. Now that I was forced to get a better handle, it's become clear that food is essential for life, but can also help combat aches, pains, colds, mood swings, and anything else that my hormones and / or life throws at me. Food is your friend - I honestly think with the right nutrition, it's even better than medication in a variety of circumstances. I recognize that's sort of a controversial thing to say, but... an apple a day, y'all. (FYI - not a doctor. Go to a doctor if you are bleeding or have something serious going on. Don't just eat an apple. Ya know... just as a final note to that thought.)

There you go! If you have any other questions for me, please feel free to send them along to hippieteaparty@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you, and I love answering your e-mails. TGIF, y'all!


Love Letter: Korres Black Pine Firming, Lifting & Antiwrinkle Serum

Okay, so I know I've been overdoing it a bit with the beauty love lately, but I have been on a serious kick. Humor me.

Between figuring out my diet (to an extent) and discovering new beauty products that are cult-worthy, I've been just diving in head freakin' first. Because of that newly adopted  mentality, I recently tried a retinol cream... and it totally made my face freak out. I mean, I'm taking about severe adult acne in spots that I didn't even know could break out. After I stayed inside all weekend tending to my wounds and scouring the web, I identified the problem (thanks, internet forums - it was a rando ingredient in the cream that gave me and many others problems). You know what that means - cue Molly spending hours looking over all my other products to make sure I was treating my skin right. In the great beauty purge of 2015, I ended up chucking an old serum that I wasn't crazy about, and found myself fresh on the market for a new one. With that, I headed to the most important part of any beauty website: the reviews. And that's how I found out about KORRES' Black Pine Firming, Lifting & Antiwrinkle Serum.

Yes, it's $74. Let's go ahead and get that out of the way first. In any serum's defense, I will always be the first one to beg you to remember that serums last a long, long time. Their formulas include highly concentrated special ingredients, so while they're more expensive for sure, you only need to use a teeny tiny bit of them to have an impact. Over time, you're using less so it lasts longer, and you end up spending the same amount if you would be buying two or three of other products.

I'd already tried quite a few KORRES products, and quickly fell in love last year with their Wild Rose Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial (goodness gracious, try it, I promise you will not be disappointed). So when I read the countless reviews and found out that KORRES' Black Pine line has been wildly successful with beauty addicts everywhere, I knew I had to give it a go. Usually, I allow serums two or three weeks to show me any kind of beginning results - since they work at a deeper level than moisturizers, I figure that would be enough to see a visible difference, if any were going to happen. And KORRES' serum has a 40% higher potency measurement for their active ingredients, so I was secretly kind of hoping that it wouldn't take weeks to see results, but rather (maybe just maybe) days?

With the first touch to my face, it had already impressed me. The serum sank right into the surface of the skin quickly and smoothly, with no sticky residue. It's not too thick and it's not too thin - lightweight enough to wear during the daytime under a moisturizer as well as at night under my trusty night mask. And I am obsessed with the scent of it, with a soft smell of wood and hints of vanilla that relaxes and soothes as I massage it into my skin. It's downright heavenly. And oh, my goodness, y'all. I'll be damned if I don't tell you that I felt a difference in my skin almost immediately. It felt tighter, but not in a dry way. It's was more like how your skin feels after leaving a facial: clean, uplifted, and lightened.

At first, I scoffed at the research they boast on the site and in the packaging - that 100% of people saw "firmer, smoother skin" after 8 weeks. But after that first use, I was an instant convert. Now that it's been a bit longer (about 3 to 4 weeks now), my skin is brighter, softer, and fuller. Listen, I am by no means saying I needed Botox or anything, but my skin looks like I've gone back in time by at least 5 years. The secret is in the uber-powerful black pine polyphenols (now patented by KORRES), which help the skin to maintain elasticity, fight free radicals, resist wrinkles, prevent sagging, and boost firmness. Even better? It's vegan-friendly and never tested on animals.

The conclusion is that this serum has absolutely changed my beauty routine for the better. I will be first in line to buy another bottle as soon as this one runs out.


Little Things: Father's Day Edition

I have no memories of either of my grandfathers. My grandmothers are both still around (and kickin'!), but both of my grandfathers died before I ever had a chance to get to know them. And today, on Father's Day, I was ruminating about this a bit. My parents were both posting pictures of their fathers on Facebook - of men who I hear stories about, but never knew - who had a strong impact on their lives, as most fathers do. And I started to dwell on what they would think of me if they were still around. Whenever I get into a mind-rut like this, diggin' a little bit too deep and considering hypotheticals or what-ifs, I know I need to take some time to distract myself and get out of my head.

Now, my father is still very much a part of my life, just for the record. He and my mother are still in Florida, where I grew up, and they're both quite active people. He runs marathons and does volunteer work and is in an improv group (yes, you read that right). He was a colossal part of my growing up in a stable home, with a normal-ish childhood that created a close-knit family who tolerates each other enough juuust enough (kidding, mostly) to go on ridiculously awesome vacations together, including one in the next two weeks to Crater Lake, Oregon. And I believe that if he knew that I was feeling down about the lack of grandfathers in my life, that he would tell me to do something that makes me happy.

His mother (my paternal grandmother) is an artist. She also lives is Florida, doesn't own a computer, and has a raggedy little dog named Teddy. She's a character for sure, but the thing that I love most about her is that she paints regularly - beautiful, incredible paintings that are impressionist and picturesque, of flowers and nature and river scenes and more. Every time we go to visit her house, her back patio is littered (neatly, like an artist would have things strewn about in an elegant sort of way) with paintbrushes, brush cleaners, oils and canvases and other aesthetic things. And, without fail, there's always at least one new painting that's sitting in the corner somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.

I love my dad SO much, and I wish that I would've gotten a chance to better know both of my grandfathers before they passed away. But more than anything, I'm grateful that I also am blessed to have such amazing women in my life, who have been able to create their own stories outside of the men they loved who aren't here anymore. Parents are so inherently important in teaching us the ways of the world, and I think my dad would be (and most likely will be, when he reads this) pleased to know that even though I might not have known his dad, that I still feel a connection with his mom whenever I sit down to paint. Which, just so happens to be today.

Happy Father's Day, y'all! Tell your dad you love him. And tell your mom and your grandparents, too, for good measure.


My Recipe Book: Portobello Basil Pizza (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I know that there are going to be some of you out there who've already read the recipe title for the day and thought to yourself, "No freakin' way." But please, keep an open mind! There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who LOVE pizza and the ones who just simply like pizza (I refuse to even acknowledge anyone who says they don't like pizza). Now I'm not a pizza addict or anything - I enjoy pizza just as much as the next person. The crunchy crust, the smooth rich tomato sauce, the ridiculous piles of any kind of topping a girl like me could ever want. And pizza is the ultimate food for bringing people together, both now and forever. Case in point: pizza parties. Can you remember a pizza party where you didn't have fun? I didn't think so.

Ever since starting TRFD, I have been very open about admitting the fact that I actively miss both cheese and bread. It's not something that I will ever try to hide - there would be nights prior to TRFD that I was so tired and defeated from work that I would stop at the Papa John's on the way home and not even bat an eyelash at ordering both a small cheese pizza (extra cheese, extra garlic butter sauce, duh) in addition to a cheesy bread. All of it was for me, and I have very few regrets about those nights. I was told by employees there on more than one occasion as I exited the establishment, "Have fun at the party tonight!" I will, thank you. Party of one. Well, two, maybe, if you count Shep.

So, one fateful night, when I walked by Papa John's and had a massive (I'm talking HUGE) craving for cheesy bread, I knew I needed to find a solution in my kitchen ASAP. There had to be some way I could enjoy a pizza without dairy and without gluten. And there is! Courtesy of Bob's Red Mill, as always. Because how else are you supposed to survive on a gluten-free plan without Bob? I'm really not sure, to be honest with you. He's a miracle worker and a gift. There's a pre-made gluten free pizza mix that I've used multiple times before, but this pizza was a big winner with my dinner guests... AKA just me.

Portobello Basil Pizza (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
This recipe adapted from vegan blogger Keepin' It Kind. So, so good, y'all. She's got other incredible pizza recipes, too, so check out her site!

- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Artichoke Tapenade (I prefer Meditalia, but you can also make your own)
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Black Olive Tapenade (same, Meditalia makes an amazing one)
- 1 Cup of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds (or more, if you're into it)
- 1 Portobello Mushroom Cap
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
- Sliced Tomatoes
- 1 Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
- 2 to 3 Cloves of Garlic, Sliced
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons of Pine Nuts (optional)

For the Pizza Dough:
- 1 Package of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix (including yeast packet)
- 1 - 1/2 Cups of Warm Water
- 1 Teaspoon of Coconut Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Flaxseed Meal
- 6 Tablespoons of Water
- 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F, and then grease one or two pans with cooking spray (I usually use this one).
2. In bowl, combine warm water, coconut sugar, and contents of yeast packet. Let it stand for a few minutes. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine flaxseed meal and remaining water. Let is stand for a few minutes.
4. In a larger bowl or standing mixer with dough arm, combine the dry pizza mix with the yeast mixture and the flaxseed meal mixture, adding in the olive oil. Mix for a minute or two on medium speed, or until fully combined.
5. In the same large bowl, go ahead and split the dough into two halves, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 30 minutes or so.
6. Place the dough onto the greased pan, using very (very) wet hands to spread out the dough across the pan. You'll need to re-wet your hands frequently to keep the dough from becoming too sticky. (Note: You can either do both balls of dough now on seperate trays, or you can cook one now and save the other. I like to save one for later by wrapping it in a ball in saran wrap and placing that into a Ziploc bag - it keeps in the fridge for a few days. When I want it, I just unwrap and follow the instructions below!)
7. Bake the dough without toppings for 8 to 10 minutes.
8. While the dough is baking, combine the artichoke and black olive tapenades in a small bowl. Set aside.
9. Coat the Portobello mushroom caps in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
10. Using a nonstick or castiron pan that has a lid, cook the mushrooms gill-side up on medium-high heat, covered, for about 5 minutes (I usually leave the juice from the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in there with them). Then flip the mushrooms and cook, still covered, on the other side for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and slice the shroom, then set aside.
11. Remove the pizza dough from the oven and brush the crush with a bit of olive oil (optional). Then, top with the combined artichoke and black olive tapenades as your "sauce."
12. Top with the sliced tomatoes, while basil leaves, sliced Portobello mushroom cap, and sliced garlic. Cover all of that goodness with the Daiya mozzarella style shreds.
13. Bake at 425 degrees F for another 15 to 20 minutes, more if you like your crust crunchy and lovely. I toss the pine nuts on top of it when there's about 5 minutes left until the pizza's ready, so the nuts are slightly roasted, but not burnt (optional, obviously).
14. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes - super important. I burnt my mouth SO BADLY the first time I made this (#thestruggleisreal). Then slice, sit down, eat, enjoy!

The best thing about pizzas is that you can customize them any way you want. Don't like mushrooms? Put somethin' else on there and stop complaining. Don't like the tapenade idea? Use a traditional sauce, then! Either way, you'll be on your way to a pizza party in no time.

Let us know if you use this recipe! Tag us on social medias, anywhere the @hippieteaparty handle is recognized (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). Or, shoot us an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com - we want pictures!


My Recipe Book: Chickpea Salad (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I love the sticky heat; more than anything, it reminds me of home. Not just your regular, run-of-the-mill hot summer day, but the kind of heat that's wet - when humidity hangs in the air like a thick blanket that you can only escape by jumping into the ocean or turning on a rickety old ceiling fan. I know other people can't stand this kind of weather, but I'm from Florida, y'all, and I love the way it brings color to my face, makes my hair go just a little bit crazy, and coats my skin with a slightly romantic dewy texture (other people might "sweat," but I grew up in this - so I don't sweat, I glisten, obviously).

The other thing that this weather makes me crave is picnics in the park. Picture this: bright green grass underneath a big tree with friendly wide leaves casting shadows onto the ground below. A freshly spread blanket with a cooler resting quietly on a corner, a feast of all the best summer foods just waiting to be consumed. Good company, great friends, and easy conversation in the sunshine. Also, maybe an open container or two (not that I'm advocating that or anything...). Now doesn't that sound ideal?

My favorite food to eat at a summer picnic used to be chicken salad on a toasted sesame seed bagel with lettuce. If that sounds specific - it is. I used to live on the Upper East Side and every chance I had, I would go by a place called "Hot & Crusty" (don't judge it on it's name). Those of you who live in New York may know it, because it is a chain here, and those of you who don't - look it up now. They have the best bagels in the city, I'm fully convinced - and I've lived here for almost a decade. They not only have your typical cream cheese, though, they also have a crazy array of salads. And the chicken salad... well, it was addicting. On the weekends, I would get the sandwich neatly wrapped into some wax paper, stroll over to Cedar Hill, and just sit in the grass, reading and eating, happy as can be.

Now that I can't have chicken salad, or bagels for that matter (thanks for that, TRFD), I've been looking for something to fill the void this summer. And that's exactly what I've found with this Chickpea Salad from Minimalist Baker. I usually have two healthy scoops of it on some toasted rice and / or almond bread with mixed greens and tomato, but it's so delicious that you can serve it all on it's own, too. In a nutshell? Definitely picnic-worthy.

Chickpea Salad (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted, VERY minimally, from one of my top all-time favorite blogs to follow, Minimalist Baker - seriously, they are something else. Go check all their drool-worthy food pics and other recipes out.

- 1 Can of Chickpeas (15 oz approximately, rinse and drained)
- 1/3 Cup of Roasted and Salted Sunflower Seeds
- 3 Tablespoons of Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon of Garlic (roasted and / or chopped)
- 1/4 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup
- 1/3 Cup of Cucumber (chopped)
- 1/4 Cup of Red Onion (chopped)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Dill (finely chopped)
- A Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt and Pepper (optional)

1. Rinse and drain can of chickpeas, and place into medium-sized bowl. Mash the chickpeas with a fork until it's about half mashed and half intact. Keep going if you're into a more mashed kinda salad.
2. In the same bowl, combine the chickpeas with the sunflower seeds, tahini, garlic, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, chipped cucumber, chopped red onion, and chopped dill. Mix well! Top with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and / or pepper to taste.
3. That's really it! Put it on top of your favorite toast for a lovely little sandwich, eat it with crackers, or just spoon it straight up into your mouth. This one is great to make-ahead for lunches at the office (or at the park!), and can be refrigerated for a few days. 

What are some of your favorite summer foods? Any other good picnic-worthy recipes that I should try? Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Happy summer, y'all!


My Recipe Book: Cacao Doughnuts with Coconut Butter (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Another ridiculous - but delicious - holiday is upon us! Today is National Donut (ahem, or Doughnut) Day, and so I wanted to share another doughnut recipe that I've crafted up here in the HTP kitch (here's the first one if you missed it).

This recipe is for all the hippies out there that are die-hard chocoholics. And in conjunction with the final month of TRFD, this version is, of course, gluten-free and vegan. I've actually talked to a few different friends about recipes like these now, because everyone has been asking how I've fulfilled my sweet tooth's needs over the past few months. The answer is surprisingly simple: substitutions. It's taken a bit of getting used to, but I think I've finally mastered the art of decoding recipes into being gluten-free, vegan, and more in-line with a "healthy" and / or plant-based diet. Now, obviously these are doughnuts here, y'all, so I wouldn't advise eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyday for the rest of your life, even though they're good enough to do just that. No, please don't. But, I will say that they are pretty damn delicious as a tasty treat for all my sisters out there who can't necessarily run to the nearest Krispy Kreme for a treat.

Now, I like for my doughnuts to be a cake consistency over a flakier, pastry texture - I've always felt that way, even before TRFD started. I also like all things that are centered around a chocolate flavor, especially when it comes with some sort of coconut as a topping. That being said, these doughnuts are ideal for anyone else that has a similar mindset. They're sweet; they have a lovely, thick consistency with cacao chips throughout; and they're just darling with a little bit of hearty coconut butter on top. Today, on National Donut Day, I make (and ear) these in honor of all the hippies out there who thought they could no longer have doughnuts, for fear they weren't in line with their lifestyle / diet / whatever. These are for you! You can have your doughnut and eat it, too - I promise.

Cacao Doughnuts with Coconut Butter (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted from this incredible creation from Strength & Sunshine.  

As with the first doughnut recipe, you will need a doughnut tin for this recipe. Friendly reminder!

- 2 Large Very Ripe Bananas (mine came out of my freezer and were defrosted)
- 1/2 Cup of Tapioca Starch
- 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar
- 2 (or more) Tablespoons of Coconut Flour
- 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
- 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
- 4 Tablespoons of Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 Tablespoons of Cacao Powder
- 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
- 4 Tablespoons of Cacao Chips
- Coconut Butter (to frost the doughnuts with, optional)

1. Grease your doughnut tin and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a standing mixer, mash up the bananas (peeled and chopped) until they are a smooth consistency.
3. Into the same bowl in the mixer, add the tapioca starch, coconut sugar, coconut flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, unsweetened almond milk, cacao powder and ground cinnamon. Mix well for 3 to 5 minutes, or until smooth.
4. Fold in the cacao chips until fully incorporated.
5. Spoon the mixture into your greased doughnut tin and make as even as possible. Mine easily filled up all six slots!
6. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top of the doughnuts give resistance when knocked on by a spoon.
7. Remove and let cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes.
8. Top with coconut butter and a sprinkling of cacao powder or ground cinnamon.
9. Serve warm! My favorite. Or, you can hide them away and keep them in a container - they store well for about five days.

As always, if you make any of the recipes you see here, please let us know - add a comment, e-mail us (hippieteaparty@gmail.com) or tag us on any form of social media you please. Eat happy, y'all!


Meow Moment: National Hug Your Cat Day

We interrupt normal blog programming to announce that today is National Hug Your Cat Day. So stop what you're doing, and go hug your cat. Like, right now. Or someone else's cat. Just show some general feline appreciation, y'all.

Shep and I thank you for your time.


Little Things: Moon Juice Beauty Dust

Sometimes I can get a little over-the-top-hippie. Wearing caftans and longing for fabulous floral crowns are one thing, but now that I'm on a plant-based diet and do crazy amounts of yoga, my interests are getting a bit deeper into the bohemian void. One of those things that I'm seriously investigating? Herbal holistic remedies. And no, I'm not talking about anything illegal here (or legal, in some states), I'm talking about being super in-tune with the way whatever you're putting into your body interacts with your wellness and health. Someone else who's into that? Amanda Chantal Bacon, the owner and creator of Moon Juice, a company that boasts 100% organic and natural snacks and juices, as well as what they call "Moon Dusts."

The Beauty Dust, specifically, is one of their best sellers, and has blended together super-potent herbs in powder form based on an ancient medicinal formula from Chinese herbal traditions. It claims to calm nerves, to firm tissue, to increase collagen and silica production, and to hydrate and fortify skin at a cellular level. The results? Shinier hair (yes, please), stronger nails (yes, again) and a downright glowing, radiant complexion (what every woman secretly wants, duh, yes). The ingredients include goji, pearl, rehmannia, and schisandra, ensuring that the dust is full of antioxidants, enzymes, and amino acids. For someone like me who is admittedly a little beauty-crazy lately, this could be the missing link in my routine - an internal base of beauty, while serums, oils, lotions, balms, masks, and creams are the icing on the cake. You have to take care of yourself from the inside-out, right? Why wouldn't you apply that same practice to your beauty routine? I'm calling it, y'all: beauty drinks are the next big thing. 

NOTE! Also pictured above (just FYI) is CAP Beauty's Love Potion, aptly named The Captivator. They're a New York-based beauty and wellness shop that carries Moon Juice, which is a blessing since I wasn't about to fly all the way out to Cali for some dust. Well, I guess it depends on how good it turns out to be a month from now - give me 30 days and I'll circle back around to that.


Book Club: Rainy Day Reads

It's that magical time of year again - the rainiest part of the spring season. It's definitely been a misty few days here in New York City, y'all, alternating between thunderstorms and a steady, hazy mist that hangs down overhead in a heavy sky. The fact that it's been marginally cooler temperature-wise has been a point of contentment for some people that I've talked to, but honestly? The Floridian deep inside of me misses the 80 degree heat, and wishes it would just come back already (the weatherman says next week). I have to admit, though, these afternoon and nighttime storms - filled with big, soft raindrops, bright lightning and resounding thunder claps - they remind me of home, and make me ache for Florida. When it rains here, it's different. These storms cling to life for much longer, and the smell on the ground afterwards is just not the same. Both of the scents are nice in their own ways, but as you can probably guess, I'm partial to a more fresh-dirt-and-wet-grass kind of petrichor. The kind that always happens in Florida summer heat.

As it's been steadily raining for the past two or three days, I've been doing a lot more inside activities. I still walk to and from the subway to work in the drizzles, and I still sometimes take the long way home from the further subway station if it's not a total downpour. But as a rule, whenever it gets like this outside, there is one place that I'd much rather be than anywhere else: my reading spot. It's as if I'm trained by the weather: as soon as it starts to rain, my body yearns for my coziest chair, my softest blanket, and an old classic by one of my favorite authors. It's like Pavlov's dogs... if there was a way I could salivate for the epic pairing of thunderstorms and books, I probably would.

Books have always been a big part of my life, though. The first thing you should know is that my grandmother is (or was, rather, before she retired) a librarian. I get books every year at Christmas and at almost every birthday. It goes way back; I can still remember the first book I read successfully by myself, and books that my parents used to read to us as children - many of which are still fondly quoted at family gatherings. I still remember the joy books brought to me in my pre-teen and teenage years, and the emotions that came with them. I even remember the first time that I cried from the ending of a book: it was late at night (way past my bedtime) and I was sobbing so hard that my mother came in to find out what was wrong. My favorite, though, has always been the feeling that I get curling up with thunderstorms roaring in the background, good book in hand, and fat comfy couch underneath.

Since the weather hasn't really let up yet, I've been naturally drawn to reading a lot more (it's a compulsion, no joke). I've mainly been turning to books that are familiar classics, or are moody groupings of short stories and poems, which are perfect to read in the rain because they give you so many of the feels. Poems especially have been a front-runner for me lately, in the way that they ebb and flow and carry the reader through peaks and valleys with nothing but words on paper.

Without really needing or wanting to say much else, because I'm being verbose about my endless love of the written word (so sue me), here are a handful of my favorite rainy day reads. If you want, pair with a rainy day playlist. As you know by now, I'm much more of a classics girl - with books that I read over and over and over, turning the edges of pages raw (there's an occasional newbie that slips in, too). And these babies are some of my favorite repeats, especially for when the rain just doesn't seem to want to end anytime soon. 

Rainy Day Reads
1. The Tempest - William Shakespeare
2. The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
3. The Complete Stories and Poems - Edgar Allan Poe
4. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
5. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
6. Selected Poems -
7. The Lady and the Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier
8. The Picture of Dorian Gray -
9. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
10. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

What are your top choices for books to read when it's raining out? Leave a comment below or shoot me a quick e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com, and let's share the book club goodness.

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