Sometimes You Just Gotta

Life Butter is a thoroughly London-based channel, and don't get us wrong - we do love it here....most of the time.  But there are some times when you just have to get away to get some perspective.  Fresh air, more green & a slower pace - these are all things that help you feel better.  There's an argument to be made that travel (well vacation travel anyway) is just as centring as meditation.  How can you be anywhere but in the moment when you've left behind the daily grind to check out somewhere new?  We recently had relatives in town, and, emboldened by the additional set of hands to help with LB's smallest team member, decided to brave the car journey down to Cornwall.

The ride wasn't that long by American standards (7ish hours door to door?), and within moments of setting foot on the sandy beach, we felt it had been worth the journey.

Not that it was particularly warm.  

But the sun was shining, the air fresh and we'd found that organic wine was available on the Sainsbury's delivery, so all seemed spectacularly well.  In the latest Episode of Life Butter Radio we get well into organic, natural & bio-dynamic tipple as well as some fun, gut-friendly non-alcoholic drinks.  Feeling inspired, we also brought some kefir granules and made our own kefir!  Which was great, because we had a lot of fish & chips (almost once a day, I would reckon)...and the resident sweet tooth got well into the cream teas.

Not for me, but I was into the retro plate

Not for me, but I was into the retro plate

Of course, true to what we've been learning about food over the course of our look at that over on the radio show, we found that, despite the fact that we were eating & drinking loads of things that would normally feature on the "never" list at home (e.g. bread, sugar, fried everything), we felt amazing the entire time we were away.  No one even seemed bothered by allergies, despite all the incredible flowers in bloom.  Convinces me that it might not be just the pollen that sets us off this time of year in London.

The best part by far, however, was the incredible coastline, littered with old mines, ancient ruins (druids, anyone?) and early Christian chapels.  Maybe it was the glorious carpet of wildflowers, maybe it was the sun, or maybe it was the wine, but the local superstitions about the existence of fairies and such seemed faintly plausible.  There are just so many places for magical creatures to hide!

I've always loved areas with a real sense of identity, and Cornwall is one of those places where, if you tap into it, you can really feel the history all around you.  Not to sound all woo-woo, but the energy of these ancient holy sites in particular....well, it's palpable.  We were speaking to a friend who's just gotten into reiki (coming up sometime soon on LBR!), and she said that the reason why we feel more at ease, and perhaps better attuned to our true selves near the water is because water is a conduit for energy.  That's also the reason why the rhythms of the moon matter, because they affect the tide.  That might be too much for you to swallow, but next time you're at the beach, notice if you feel calmer, or a greater sense of certainty.

Cornwall has always been a favourite holiday destination, but thanks to the latest two seasons of Poldark, it's become even more popular.  You don't have to be there during shooting season to see Aidan Turner's face...I think he's become the unofficial mascot of this county!

See?  Multiple reasons to come down and enjoy something easy on the eyes.


So You Say You Want A Revolution

The V&A's Retrospective On The Counter-Culture & What it Has to Say About Our Neo-Hippy Now

It's not exactly breaking news to say that many of us are drawing parallels between the Days of Revolution: Recent Past (i.e. the '60s/'70s) and now; everywhere you look in fashion, music and popular culture, we are going all braless and protest-y.  And quite understandably; on both sides of the political spectrum in the West, there is a swell of dissatisfaction, confusion and anger at the "establishment", whatever that means to you.  Wherever you look, there are references to the historic protests around the civil rights movement, equal rights movement and peace demonstrations, and the slogans of that era are being reinterpreted & repurposed to give voice to current frustrations.

Of course this was the era that also brought us that brand of Californian, holistic wellness that we are seeking to understand here at Life Butter, and so I thought it would be interesting to check out the Victoria & Albert's retrospective You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 to see if it held any insights into the incredible growth of the wellness industry, currently valued at $3.72 TRILLION globally.  I've also been a long-term fan of '70s style...particularly that look that involves not cutting or brushing your hair.  😜 So off I went.

The exhibition was good fun; it was well-curated & had a great variety of materials to see & hear (sponsored by Sennheiser, you walked through with headphones taking you on an audio journey of the era, and a big-screen, 28-minute musical film on Woodstock at the end looked promising, though I didn't get to stay to watch as I had a 2-year old in tow).  Liberal economic politics, social change in the form of equalising rights and loosening strict moral codes, recreational drugs, The Beatles, The Stones & David Bowie (we are in London, after all), Mary Quant & Chelsea Girl style and Californian communes were all explored in vibrant relief.  But more than just another baby-boomer group hug on The Glory That Be Theirs (Which Will Never Be Matched), the exhibition also sought to draw parallels between then & now, though definitely with its own angle (excellent review on the slant here).

While the exhibition didn't explicitly examine any of the tenets of wellness per se, the spirit of revolution that categorised the Counter-Culture & called the young to divorce themselves from the "establishment" (remember: don't trust anyone over 30) is the same essence that is breathing life (and megabucks) into contemporary wellness.  The specifics matter less; whether your wellness jam is grass-fed beef and ghee or sprouted mushroom protein shakes and actual jam, a large part of the movement is against the "man" that is McDonalds.  Industrialised food, fast food, packaged anything is out: remember, don't trust your mother's cooking (if you grew up on the S.A.D. anyway!).  The young today are shockingly like The Beatles (who could be their (grand)parents), "we all want to change the world", we're just going to do it with our dollars.  According to a Neilsen, 73% of millennials are prepared to pay more for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change, while 80% of global customers agree that companies must play a role in addressing societal issues, according to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer (source).

Jam/jelly...Beyoncé is always relevant

Jam/jelly...Beyoncé is always relevant

So...what does that have to do with exercise, meditation, health eating...crystal healing & sleep?

Well, we all know that the baby boomers and the generation that WILL NOT GO AWAY; their story & legacy, and therefore much of this exhibition, didn't seem novel...until I got to the very end.

We will forever be your muses

We will forever be your muses

The exhibition concluded in a way that I didn't expect - showing the links between technology as an important tool of the Counter-Culture in creating anti-establishment, independent societies (think these Californian communes) and our use of technology today.  I might be alone, but I had never thought of the hoodie-wearing, Soylent drinking (someone please EXPLAIN THIS?!?!) Silicon Valley of today as a continuation of Californian hippiedom.  But if technology is the agent of revolution, and the agent of community (as it is so often said to be), it is also increasingly becoming the tool of commerce, with retailers not only encouraging e-commerce (duh), but using apps to track consumer movements, tailor specific discounts and nudge shoppers towards a purchase.  Here's the link to an interview Joseph Turow gave on his new book The Aisles Have Eyes; have a read or a listen if you want a forecast of all the new & sneaky ways retailers will use technology to separate you from your cash. 

So what does this all have to do with wellness? It's about the MONEY behind youth & revolution.  Because wellness is about revolution, right?  Or is it about luxury? Because feeling good is the new looking good, and every big brand is on board.

I don't have a problem with this; more money behind holistic health, beauty & wellness (hopefully) means that it becomes easier & cheaper to make healthy choices.  This too follows the trend of the 60s, when mass production decreased the price of all manner of "things", and so the generation of social change also became the generation of hedonism, consumerism and the credit card (according to a slightly pessimistic V&A).

But while I'm not completely anti-consumerism, I think it has an incredible ability to Dilute The Message (see this excellent mini-rant on this phenom in the fitness industry by ELLE UK Fitness Editor Bangs).  And if, as discussed in a previous post, wellness is really about community, then I really think we need to keep the message strong these days.

There was an image in the exhibition that really struck me; it was of Jean Shrimpton walking barefoot, barelegged & seemingly carefree down a wild Kings Road; Mary Quant's archetypal Chelsea Girl.  With the best will in the world towards all Chelsea Girls, that phrase connotes something a bit different today.

So I'll buy organic greens, I'll buy a gym pass...hell, I might even buy some palo santo..but I want to keep the end in mind.  Why am I doing all of this?  It's worth remembering.

Viva La Revolucion!


The Wild Food Trends of 2017

In the spirit of all things nourishing (which, in case you missed it, is our theme of 2017), we thought we would open the new year with an exploration of food - always a fun topic, and hopefully one of the most nourishing aspects of our lives.   It's bizarrely easy to forget sometimes, but that really is the point!  So we had a little look at what 2017 is projected to bring to our plates, and we were inspired to both laugh and wonder at everything the food industry is dreaming up.

Kale.  Bee pollen.  Acai,  Goji berries.  Moringa powder.  You might think that you have modern day superfoods nailed, but I would invite you to THINK AGAIN.  So get ready, because the hotlist of 2017's hot foods (N.B. very few of them are actually hot) is in, and they are as wild as they are wild.

It's more than greens in his juice

It's more than greens in his juice

Remember when life was simple and you just had to fit some dark leafy greens to be a supercharged food hero(ine)?  The power is still with plants, but not necessarily your garden-variety.  Not in their raw, virgin & untouched state, anyway.

Enter the ferments, the vinegars, the cultured substances and the just plain substances -- weed & 'shrooms are making a comeback, alongside, well, germs (for real, many of 2017's hot foods are basically carriers for bacteria).

I'll have what he's having! (I think)

I'll have what he's having! (I think)

Bacteria, Baby

First up, we have vegetable yogurts - a way to get both one of your 5-a-day (which turns out should actually be more like 7 or 8), plus some of those healthy gut bacteria that we should all be cultivating and caring for, now that we know that our immune system is really housed in the gut.  And of course you should always save a little for a face mask - seriously, yogurt works wonders topically for the skin.  Not sure if there are any added benefits in say carrot yogurt, but it does show how versatile and interesting vegetables can really be!

Kimchi and sauerkraut have been hot for a while, and don't expect them to go anywhere.  As the benefits of cultured vegetables (think pickles and ferments) continue to be studied and understood, these foods will increasingly become part of our daily routine.  The purported benefits are a stronger immune system, better digestion and, in the words of Amanda Chantal Bacon, "happy glowy face." She has also said that incorporating cultured vegetables into your diet can help kick your sugar habit.  (check out this presentation for details).  We've been incorporating more kimchi into our diets, and you know what...there may just be something to this!

Glow like Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon with the help of fermented veg.

Lavender's Blue

Everyone is always talking about eating the rainbow, and colour is as nice a theme as any for a hot food trend.  So with that in mind, we will apparently be eating more purple food in 2017...think less Koolaid (is this still around?  Anyone?) and more purple cauliflower, purple asparagus, purple potatoes, purple broccoli and even purple corn.  In line with this trend, beetroot will remain a mainstay, and be employed in the ever-advancing ranks of inventive meat substitutes.  This burger is straight out of Silicon Valley and backed by Bill Gates himself. It apparently bleeds beet juice, and it photographs like the real deal.  I'm intrigued!  

Hydrate like Beyoncé

And speaking of celebrity-funded food experiments, the watermelon juices we've been seeing in grocery stores are predicted to rise in popularity; apparently Beyoncé is an investor.


And then of course you have the mushrooms - these guys already infiltrated our supplement cupboards in 2016 in the form of powders to be added to smoothies, teas, coffees or steamed milks.  Think astralagus, reishi, maitake and shitake, lion's mane, chaga and a slew of other adaptogenic herbs with names that sound straight out of Lord of the Rings.  It truly seems that this is the year of the mushroom; we will be invited to experiment with different combinations depending on our mood, our energy and our needs.  Now we are of two minds with this.  On the one hand, the movement towards inviting people to really tune into their bodies, assess how they feel and act accordingly is empowering and fun.  On the other hand, hawking ground up mushroom powders at not exactly bargain-basement prices smacks a bit of snake oil merchandizing.  Particularly when the blends bear names like "Sex Dust".  And yet....

We personally tried some of Moon Juice's combinations (available in the UK here) while back in the US at the end of last year, and while we were initially sceptical (to say the least), we were surprised to notice a real different in our energy levels and skin clarity.  And this was over the holidays, when healthy habits weren't quite the priority they normally are!  Looking into this a bit more, we've come to understand that at least some of these mushrooms and herbs are routinely employed in Chinese medicine, and have been for years.  So needless to say, we will definitely be boarding the mushroom train in 2017, and look forward to sharing more as we learn.  We have something very special in mind for Life Butter Radio in particular!

Whether any hallucinogenic mushroom varieties will ride the current '70s revival back into popular culture remains to be seen!

Herbs, man

Herbs, man

Not Just for the High

Finally, we have the return of MJ, which has received a lot of attention from the wellness press over the last few months as more and more places in the United States legalize its use.  We've seen articles on how it can help everything from depression and anxiety to PMS/PMT and pregnancy, and an exploration of all the different ways you can partake.  And "weed chic" is apparently a thing in California.  We predict that the fascination with all things hemp will only continue; the ebbing stigma around cannabis in the United States invites inventive foodies and the wellness community alike to harness the power of this plant in new, inventive and potentially lucrative ways. The Business of Fashion suggests that the drug could be the luxury industry's next big opportunity, as we increasingly look to spend on experience over "stuff".  If Keeping Up with the Kardashians is any measure, I think they may be right.

Now if you're not uber wealthy, but you're curious, you love chocolate, and you are based in the US, you can dip your toe into this trend without going anywhere near bong waters: enter Sakara Life's hemp chocolates (formerly CBD chocolates).  These  feel-good, bite-size chocolates contain "hemp extract" (CBD oil - read a bit here), and have been marketed as a substitute for your nightly glass of wine.  We'll admit it, we gave these a try too last time we were Stateside - when, we should point out, the ingredient list read "CBD oil" rather than "hemp extract".  But we have confirmation that the formula is in fact the same and the label change is more of a marketing exercise. How how did they work out?  Well, we aren't sure that they had any special, relaxation-inducing powers, but they are organic, vegan, tasty and portioned in lovely, 11 -calorie-a-pop little nuggets of gorgeous CHOCOLATE, so what's not to like?  We thought that these had disappeared from the market since Christmas 2016, but we discovered that actually Sakara Life is selling them with Amazon!   So now you can add to basket and these can arrive with your latest reading, diaper haul or what have you.  No one needs to know, and given the wide distribution channel, it will be easier than ever to get your hands on these, wherever you are in the US.  

The New Almond Butter

We all love nut butter (well some people don't, but they are just WEIRD).  Sometimes though you want something just as satisfying but a bit less stodgy, a bit which case, have you tried seed butters?  They've been around for a while, but are predicted to multiply like bunnies in 2017.  New varieties are cropping up on supermarket shelves all the time, and if you are US-based and addicted to novelty, you could hop on the net to try Sakara Life's watermelon seed butter.  We have to admit to trying and loving this one over Christmas; it's pretty mild and would appeal to those who don't like a strong nutty taste.  

Protein Pasta

Finally, while I personally think bread and gluten are well up for a resurgence, the alternative pasta scene isn't going anywhere.  So you can keep your spiralizer or, if you crave a bit more substance, try pulse-pasta: think lentils and beans turned into your favourite shapes.  A little more satisfying than all the corn and rice varieties, and these variations have the bonus of some protein!

I'll be really interested to see how the restaurant scene continues to evolve in 2017 too.  Increasingly, fine dining seems so passé...I think diners still want and expect a bit of a scene, ambiance and occasionally some glamour, but are really more interested in the food - both the flavour and provenance.  We'll see what this ever-changing landscape serves up next - we can't wait!

So whether you are at home or dining out, get ready to go all Wild & Crazy with some veggies.  At least these superfoods won't stain your clothes quite as badly as your average green smoothie or juice, so you can dress in homage to the original Wild & Crazy guy and go all white!

You have to try the beetroot yoghurt!  We love you, Steve Martin!  Photo red Norman Seeff

You have to try the beetroot yoghurt!  We love you, Steve Martin!  Photo red Norman Seeff



The Verb of 2017 is Nourish

So as I wrote in my previous post, 2016 has been, for many of us, a year.  Many of us have been preoccupied with big picture issues, and in light of this, it seems wrong (not to mention a bit retro, but in the naff way) to talk about traditional "New Year's Resolutions".  And yet, maybe in part because we are so consumed by worry and anxiety, both about ourselves and the state of the world, we seem to be in a season of perpetual self-improvement.  So the idea of resolutions remains, I think, current and relevant.  I've seen a few different approaches to a modern take on resolution season.

At the start of 2015, Vogue suggested an "eat this, not that" approach to resolutions, subbing out some of our usual list items for more modern and perhaps more achievable counterparts.   This seemed a bit gimmicky, and I didn't really vibe with what they picked (I for one always prefer a black cab to Uber anyway).

ELLE UK called for 2017 to be The Year of Not Being Perfect - which I really like in theory, but their model/celeb references don't quite convince for me, because as much as Gigi Hadid stresses her imperfection and highlights her work ethic (both of which I applaud her for), it's hard for me to feel a sense of real camaraderie with a supermodel. I doubt I'm alone on this one. It's not her fault, but dems da facts, I'm afraid.

Gretchen suggests picking a theme word of the year.  This I like - I too am a fan of a framework, and an even bigger fan of simplicity.  One Word to Rule Them All has promise - not too much to think about, easy to check back in, and vague enough to give yourself lots of outs if you find that you're not really hitting your benchmarks throughout the year.  Not that you would be anyway - because there aren't any when you keep things this loose.

But I want to finesse this a little bit - keep the simplicity, but make this more of a call for action, which seems to match our #currentmood much better, being one of action.  And thus the verb of 2017 was conceived - mine is nourish.

Does vino nourish?  It's going to be part of my routine.

Does vino nourish?  It's going to be part of my routine.

What does the idea of "nourish" mean to you?  

When I think of how I have typically related to myself - whether it's my physical body, or my mental state, or my achievements, it is with anything but a nourishing state of mind.  I am often critical, exacting, ungenerous and occasionally downright mean; I know that I am not alone. This year, I want to spend time feeding myself.  I want to indulge in beautiful images, sounds, experiences, sensations and tastes.  I want to spend less time thinking about what the implications of my choices are, and more time observing and celebrating how they make me feel - both in the moment, and after I have thoroughly enjoyed them.  I want to open myself up to trying things that are new, stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I want to find more physical, spiritual emotional and mental experiences that feed me and those around me.  I want to end the year feeling, if not restored, closer to "full" than I feel now.  That is my aim.

So in kicking off my year of nourishment, I'll be spending some time on Life Butter Radio looking at one of the most important (and obvious) ways in which we nourish ourselves - through the foods that we eat and how we treat our body.  Looking forward to catching up with you on the podcast; I think it's going to be a fun season.


Bread will be making a come back in my house

Bread will be making a come back in my house


But don't kick 2016 while it's down


It's all over the internet because it's all over our brains: for one reason or another, many of us feel that 2016 let us down.  So while I think generally the idea of New Year's resolutions seems a bit passé in this time of perpetual self-improvement where September has been dubbed the new January, there is definitely a mood of out with the old and in with the DRAMATICALLY BETTER.  But what's the framework?  A list of 10 things you want to achieve that starts with Kayla abs seems silly and actually a bit shallow, given that most of us have our eyes and hearts focussed on much larger issues at the moment.  Beyond that, fitness seems to have finally shifted from that thing you get fanatical about this time of year or right before your beach holiday to something that is aspirational on the daily.  Ditto healthy eating - whatever type of beautiful bowl/smoothie/poached egg & avo concoction best best symbolises that for you & your wellness tribe.  

But this is not a post about snark, not at all.  This year wasn't all bad, and I actually think this next week or so is a great opportunity to sit back, put on your rose (gold)-tinted glasses (seriously, was there another colour in 2016?), and look back with curiosity, generosity and awe.  As anyone dabbling in modern day wellness knows, it's very Zeitgeist-y to mention a full moon or an errant planet as part of a discussion of Who We Are and Where We Are Going.  And there has been a particular focus on looking to the stars for guidance in processing and understanding the last 12-18 months (or maybe this is just what happens when you move from London to Los Angeles).

Now I'm not exactly an astro-babe myself, but there's a celestially-inspired discussion circulating around the close of 2016 that has piqued my curiosity, and ties in with my own view on the end of this crazy year.  That would be the resurgence of Mercury Retrograde, a time characterised by chaos, technical malfunctions, miscommunications and generally thwarted plans - at least according to those in the increasingly-popular astro-world (is it just me, or has the new-New Age suddenly become very mainstream?).  And this upheaval will last until January 8 of 2017 when Mercury changes course.  Seems rather doom and gloom, but here's what I like about this: firstly, there is the romanticism of observing the grandiosity of the cosmos and brooding over what its signs may mean to the individual lives of us earth-bound mortals.  What can I say, I'm not exactly a believer, but I think the merch is cute (if expensive - this one is for my next life as an heiress).

Secondly, I also like the call to acknowledge greater forces at work in this world (even if I would pick a different focus ✝). Some astrologers describe Mercury Retrograde as an invitation to reflect, reminisce, study and learn from the past.  I am the original history nerd, after all (watch out for Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio...seriously, it's going to be a gem).  So I think in some ways, it's fitting that this astrologically-ordained time of reflection, consideration and tidying away corresponds with the end of 2016.  With that in mind, I plan on taking a leaf out of this blogger's book, and using this time before the new year to take stock of 2016 and acknowledge it for the period of power and transformation it was, leaving us stronger, more thoughtful and aware - ready to either take on or celebrate whatever comes next. 

So what does that mean for me?  Well, 2016 has been a pivotal year for me in a lot of ways...between a career change, coming to grips with motherhood and lots of travel (as always) there has been a lot of change.  If I could sum it up in word, I would pick LEARNING.  This has not always been an easy or pain-free process, but it has undoubtedly been transformational.  I've grown so much, and I now have the perspective to appreciate that.  So thanks 2016 for the lessons!

And when the clocks strikes 12 and the last of 2016 slips away, I'll be at home with my nearest and dearest and some fizz, and getting ready to demarcate the start of 2017 in a more traditional, goal-oriented way.  More on that soon!




Fun, Effective Sleepy Things

Everyone loves an excuse to indulge in a new set of pyjamas and other cozy essentials (especially this time of year), and so I thought it'd be fun to quickly catalogue some of my faves, as well as a thing or two that can help make bedtime a bit more fun.

Part of the appeal of sleep as a health and beauty aid is that it is free, simple and, if you are getting enough, enjoyable.  So as we learn more about why sleep matters and how much it can do for us (which is really incredible; if you haven't listened to our podcast that tells you a bit more about why, you can do so here or here), I hope we won't try to make this more complicated than it is.

The fact that so many of us ARE sleep-deprived, however, means that we really could be doing this better.  And it's easier to prioritise something that you think is fun and rewarding, or that you have invested in (see also, investing in cute workout clothes).

So with that mind, here are a few sleep-related toys and joys that actually work to help you on your way to dreamland, and make the whole winding-down to bed process more appealing than everything else that's clamouring for your attention.  Watch out for the best of PJs in our next post.

Sleep Aids & Tools


From Left to Right

  1. Natural Calm magnesium supplement- this is far & away my best sleep tool. Magnesium is a proven sleep aid, & this sugar-free supplement makes me drowsy quickly.  I take 1 large dose 40 minutes before I want to sleep and it WORKS.  LOVE it.

  2. The travel version - these sachets are great for the plane & help both sleep & digestion, which can be sluggish after flying.

  3. Epsom salts - magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, so pop a large handful into a warm bath & get ready to feel relaxed & sleepy.  Maybe not for every night, but you can also file this one under IT WORKS.

  4. The best face mask - essential when mornings start early (so not this time of year, but highly relevant in summer).  Also great for flying; this version does crowd the eyelid so there's no pressure.  Comfy & effective.


From Left to Right

  1. Pukka Night Time tea - a perennial favourite for a reason; it's not stimulating but is comforting.

  2. Sleepytime Extra - the American sleep tea.  I can't say I like this one as much, but some people swear by it!

  3. Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray - I received this as part of a new mom gift pack.  The idea is that the calming scent of lavender will send you to sleep.  It didn't always do that for me, but it definitely helped with new mom anxiety.

  4. Badger Balm Night Night Balm - I actually prefer a balm to a room spray because you can control the strength of the scent better.  This one is really nice and organic, and apparently ok for kids too!

and finally...


Soy Candles

This one comes in interesting scents and pretty packaging (there's a copper shade too).  Candlelight is soft and flattering; definitely gets you in the mood for bed!  Soy candles don't emit the same acrid smoke as paraffin candles and are more eco-friendly too.


My Alarm Clock

I love this so much guys.  It wakes you gently by slowly building a glow of sun-like light 30 minutes before your wake time.  If that doesn't rouse you, a gentle tone goes off.  A much better way to wake up than the iPhone.