December 30

Revealing Your Radiant Self With Maple Holistics!

A free bottle of Tea Tree Special Formula Shampoo was mailed to me by Maple Holistics. In exchange for the shampoo, I agreed to review the product. The review below is my honest opinion of the shampoo and its ingredients & I have received no other compensation. 


I’m always so excited when I hear from companies that ask me to review their vegan products. But…I’m often hesitant at the same time. I have always had very sensitive skin and since switching to a plant based diet 10 years ago my skin reacts to something it finds disagreeable with lightening speed! Thankfully, in this case, Maple Holistics sent me a bottle of their Tea Tree Special Formula Shampoo. Shampoo?! I can do shampoo!

I admit that I don’t know what all of those very long, chemistry class sounding ingredients always mean. And I am always skeptical when companies use words like “natural”. It is a buzz word that has been overused by companies and advertisers for years. In fact, especially when it comes to food & beauty products, if the label says “natural” in all likelihood…there is nothing natural about it! So with the help of the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, I went though each ingredient one by one. If you have never visited EWG’s website, they pull together published scientific data and rate the ingredients from 1 to 10 based on how safe the product is to a consumer. It is a wonderful tool to use to supplement the incomplete data provided by many companies and our own government. I use EWG’s resources often as a helpful educational tool to ensure I make the healthiest choices I can. It was a bit tedious and I had to pull out my handy reading glasses but I entered each ingredient one by one and was very happy with the results. The first ingredient was water so that one was easy enough for me to figure out but of the remaining ingredients, all but one was rated a 1. Based on EWG’s scoring methodology, that is an A+. The one ingredient that didn’t fair so well – Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) scored a 4 and has been well documented as a contact allergen that can lead to head & scalp dermatitis. I have used the shampoo now for several weeks and have not noticed any issues. So I guess one positive thing about me doing the review is that even with my incredibly sensitive system, I had no negative reaction to this ingredient!

Though the shampoo is listed as safe for color treated hair, I made a quick call to my stylist Ann first. I color my hair red and even in the best of times the color will sometimes fade. The last thing I wanted to do was to wash out what I had just paid to add in! She was confident with the ingredients so I commenced to washing!

What I enjoyed most immediately about the tea tee shampoo was the aroma. The combination of the tea tree, lavender and rosemary oils create an aromatherapy experience. It is an interesting combination of soothing & energizing. I love it! While standing in the shower, I have found myself sniffing the shampoo even when I am not washing my hair that day. Okay, I admit it…I’m sniffing it now too! The essential oils I mentioned work together so beautifully. And after my concerns about my color treated hair, I found that the color is actually more vibrant after I use the shampoo. That was a very nice surprise. My husband Steve doesn’t always have the healthiest scalp and since tea tree oil is known for promoting healthy scalps I asked him to use the product too. It was very therapeutic on both of our scalps and I noticed that it helped clear up the seasonal flakiness that he sometimes experiences. Though I have some concerns with the possible allergen effect of CAPB, I am very happy with the product and enjoyed using it!


Maple Holistic is an online store founded in 2001 that offers natural and organic beauty products for consumers like us who demand clean, toxin-free products. The products are made in the USA; are cruelty free; sulfate free and safe for color! Many of the products, including the Tea Tree shampoo, are also vegan. From Bath & Body to Skin & Hair Care to Personal Care and even healthy nuts, seeds & berries, you can find effective products made with high quality ingredients on their site.

Through January 31, 2018 they are offering to send you a free sample of one of their products! Totally Free! You can choose from 1 of 16 different products that include beard oil, massage oil, several different shampoos or conditioners, pet shampoo, a lubricant, body oil, witch hazel toner, an essential oil and more. All they ask of you is to provide them with genuine and honest feedback of the product you chose. That’s it! You order it, they send it, you use it and then you tell the world what you thought! Follow this LINK to order your favorite free product. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

December 21

Wood & Rowan Beauty Collective – They Nailed It!


Vegan choices include tenoverten, Julep & Lakur by Londontown!

If you are new to veganism or are at the stage of your journey that you are curious to learn more, you may not know that “going vegan” is not just a diet but is a philosophy to live by. Sure, eating delicious vegan doughnuts from Vegan Donut Gelato or schmearing Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese on your bagel are two really good benefits to being vegan. But living a vegan lifestyle is choosing a life of compassion – the food we eat, the clothes & shoes we purchase, the cosmetics we wear and the entertainment we support. It doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. It starts with what we eat and then grows organically as we embrace our new lives. Over the last 10 years, I have methodically made the changes that were important to me. From trading leather shoes & handbags for vegan options; to visiting animal sanctuaries instead of zoos or circuses; to finding cosmetics that were gentle to my sensitive skin while never being tested on bunny rabbits. It feels good to know the products I use every day cause no harm. But until recently, one of my favorite treats to myself – pedicures – still weighed heavily on my conscience. Most of the polishes, moisturizers & scrubs available to me were full of toxins, tested on animals & not vegan. The foot soaking tubs used by some salons are often full of organisms that can enter through your skin and cause infections. According to the EPA, something as innocuous as a bug bite on your foot or shaving your legs the night before your pedi can give that bacteria a way to enter your blood stream. And don’t even get me started about all the biofilm that forms in the tubes & screens of those relaxing whirlpools. It is almost impossible to clean out and will cause nasty infections! After years of dealing with this, something miraculous happened in 2016. Rebecca Rowan-Connors opened up Wood & Rowan – the first all natural beauty collective in downtown Napa.

Comfy chairs with copper soaking basins

Located on the riverfront, Wood & Rowan offers a Nail Bar; revitalizing hand & foot masks, Make-up, Waxing and a Blow out Bar. The soak and scrub blends used for manis and pedis are custom, locally sourced, organic blends, handmade by Sumbody. The Invigorating, Detoxing and Relaxing blends are all made using ingredients like sea salt, French clay, essential oils & orange peel and are vegan-friendly. My favorite vegan polishes include the tenoverten which is free of eight of the most toxic ingredients found in most polishes. Lakur by Londontown is not only 9-free but is also made with a combination of essential oils & botanical extracts like Evening Primrose Oil, Chamomile Extract & Cucumber Extract to help improve dry & brittle nails. Frankly, it sounds good enough to eat! Julep is another favorite of mine. It is fast-drying; 5-free and includes Hexanal for strengthening & antioxidant green coffee extract. Again, this polish is making me hungry! When I let Rebecca know that I am a vegan, her team also ordered a special vegan moisturizer from Sumbody. My experience here is truly vegan from my finger tips to my toes!  The anti-microbial & anti-contamination copper basins used for foot soaking are wonderful. The basins make a beautiful visual statement and are portable. They are not only sanitized between each use but naturally stop the buildup of those icky microbes!

The Blow Out Bar

The Blow Out Bar uses Kevin.Murphy products and offer four signature styles. Kevin.Murphy is known to be at the forefront of hair care using micro cultivation, organic growing practices and ecologically sound wild harvesting techniques. I admit that as of yet I have not needed a blow out on my short, pixie haircut but the women I’ve seen use the services leave looking breathtaking! Many of the products Kevin.Murphy crafts are vegan but take this helpful list created by Arrowroot Journal with you to the Salon to confirm before you get your next blow out!

Rebecca’s awareness of toxic products goes back to when she lived in Shanghai. At the time, the regulations protecting consumers were very “loose”. There were days that sometimes spread into weeks and then months that her young child could not go outside to play. Rebecca was forced to purchase things including her child’s diapers on the black market because the brands readily available to her were laced with carcinogens! This experience really opened her eyes and led her to take an active role in educating herself about the ingredients that were in the products she and her family uses. When she finally settled in Napa, she found that she was forced to go to three different salons to prepare for a single event. She thought to herself, why not open a one stop shop with products that “a client can trust?” And that is exactly what she did. Designed to accommodate even the busiest person, you can get your nails, hair and make-up done and throw in an eyebrow wax for good measure all at Wood & Rowan. Truly the one-stop shop of self care!

Light, bright & airy atmosphere!

Thanks to Rebecca and her team we vegans can now enjoy a compassionate spa experience right here in downtown Napa. Isn’t it awesome feeling beautiful inside and out? Located on the Riverfront at 750 Main Street, the salon is open Tuesday through Saturday; closed on Sunday & Monday. Every Tuesday they offer a locals discount so that is when you will find me there! So when you are ready to be pampered, follow this LINK to set your appointment. Remember to mention that you are interested in the vegan experience & let them know you heard about them on my blog. I know you will enjoy the services as much as I do and as always…eat, drink & be vegan!

December 20

P and A Vegan Catering Serving Vegans In North Bay and Beyond!

All photos provided by P and A Vegan Catering

Paula Santurio is a vegan, animal rights activist that has literally put her money where her mouth is! For the last twenty years she has been a vocal advocate for animal rights – activism being a big part of her life. So when she retired two years ago it was a natural progression to take her love of cooking to the next level and start P and A Vegan Catering.

Paula grew up in New Jersey before heading out to California in 1980. When her daughter Alicia was around 12 years old, she decided that she wanted to be vegan. At the time, there was no internet, no google to find out how to raise a healthy vegan child. Paula had concerns about nutrition but that didn’t slow her down. And it wasn’t long before Paula and the rest of her family followed Alicia’s lead and all became vegan. The families’ love of animals has only grown over the years. In 2017,  Alicia founded the Bay Area chapter of Animal Save. A worldwide network of activists who bear witness to the animals that are en route to slaughterhouses. The Save Movement began in December 2010 with the inception of Toronto Pig Save. There are currently over 130 groups throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, Europe, Hong Kong and South America. This grassroots movement’s goals are to encourage people to embrace veganism, protect our planet and support farm sanctuaries. Offering a fair and just transition for workers as we shift to a plant-based economy is another important goal of Bay Area Animal Save. Her daughter Jennara moved to the vegan Capitol of Europe – Berlin, Germany – about 5 years ago with her husband Mark and is a vegan pastry chef. Needless to say, I can’t wait to meet them when I arrive in Berlin in August 2018!

All photos provided by P and A Vegan Catering

Growing up in an Italian household, Paula learned to make everything “from scratch” and has brought this philosophy to her vegan catering. She makes her own vegan sausage and cheese and though she is happy to make anything her customer requests her specialties include Italian, Mexican and Seitan stuffed roasts. According to Paula if it “helps animals” and saves them from animal agriculture, she will “take any request and make a delicious vegan meal.”

For the last two years, Paula’s catering service has been driven primarily by word of mouth. She recently started a Facebook page which has been a huge help in attracting customers like Direct Action Everywhere and Vegans of the Bay. Based out of Fairfield, Paula has catered events that range from vegan meal planning to small intimate dinner parties and even large events that feed over 300 hungry vegans. She has worked as far south as Santa Cruz and as far east as Grass Valley. If it means saving animals, P and A Vegan Catering is willing to journey just about anywhere in the Bay Area and beyond.

All photos provided by P and A Vegan Catering

What might you ask does Paula do for fun after being a tireless voice for animals? Well, she and her husband Alex (the A of P&A Catering) head to Vegas of course and they let the Chefs at the vegan-friendly Winn Resort do the cooking for them!

To set up your next intimate soirée or mega party for hundreds of your closest friends, contact Paula through her website or at 707.386.6448. This is the perfect opportunity to support all-vegan businesses like P and A Vegan Catering and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!!