Monday, November 13, 2017

Love You and Why Self Care is So Hard

I use the hashtag “love you” a lot.  I wonder often if people mistake what I am actually saying.  It is not a statement, but rather a command.  I am calling you to action. 
But do you head the call?  If you are like most people, no.  Why is that?  Sure, sure, sure you spout all the well intended quotes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” but let’s be honest, do you follow through?  And who pours from a cup anyway?!
No you don’t.  You intend to right? Why is it so hard?  Well lets flip that over and take a good old look-see.  You have lots of demands.  Could be work, kids, family, spouse, friends, cleaning, cooking, life!  How does one fit in the time for themselves?  Fair enough argument.  Time is limited.  You can only do so much in a day.  However, let me punt back that argument.  Why is any of that more important than you? Especially cleaning!  I mean seriously Betty, put the feather duster down!
So the time argument doesn’t really hold up.  So maybe you say, “I mean too, but my day gets away from me and I run out of time.”  Okay legit.  But why did you put self care at the end of the day and not the beginning?  If you really are committed to self care, do it first.  Start your day off right! Right?
“I can’t do it in the morning, I don’t have time.  Mornings are too hectic!”   Ehhh –hem.  Alarm clocks have been around since 1787 (I know right?!) set your clock 20 minutes early and do something for yourself.
But… but.  Yep.  I thought so.  So I have knocked holes in all your arguments, but that doesn’t really help answer why it is so hard.  The reality is, I don’t know.  But what I do know, is that it is pretty critical.  We run and we run and we do and we do and collapse at the end of the day and sometimes we love our lives but often we just don’t.  We don’t hate it.  But we sure don’t love it. And that is not fair on so many levels.
What if you had 10 minutes every day.  Every single day that fed you?  Sure would you still run and run, but at least you could think when your head is spinning and you can’t think straight…”in just 2 hours I can…”  And self care can look totally different to different people.  For me it would be a long hot bath, yoga or meditation.  For someone else it would be a walk in the woods.  For my husband it is a run.    Self care can be anything that makes you feel joy.  And feeling joy… isn’t that the point of all of this? Really?
What if even you didn’t put yourself at the top of the list but you at least got on the list? Just.Got.On.The. Damn.List.  Radical.  I know. It feels all kinds of itchy right?  But… but.  Yeah. I know, but I don’t know why. 
But what I would tell you is that you should be your own best friend or your own mother.  If you have a child imagine your child, if you don’t, imagine the person you love the very very most in this world. 
This person is overwhelmed to the brink of tears.  You see them stressed and frustrated. You see how hard they are working to take care of all their obligations.  You worry for them.  It all seems a bit too much.  Then they say, “You know I am going to….”  You think, “Thank God! They really should do something for themselves!  They need a break.”  And then later they say, “Never mind, I don’t have time.” What would you say to them?  I want you to imagine sitting face to face, knee to knee with that person holding their hands looking them dead in the eye.  What would you say?

I know what I would say.  I would say, “Oh my sweet angle.  Stop.  Stop right now.  None of this matters!  I know it feels like the world will fall apart if you don’t get your homework (or whatever) done.  But lets imagine the worst case scenario.  The worst case scenario is you don’t do it.  What happens then?  Does the world end?  Do I love you any less? Does daddy?  Do your friends love you less? No.  So if the world does not end and no one loves you any less, can that thing that has you are so stressed about really be worth more than YOU? “

So figure out what you would say.  Then write that shit DOWN.  And every time you try to opt out of self care pull it out and look at it.   When you do, imagine the person that loves you most in the world is saying it to you, knee to knee, holding your hand, looking your right in the eye.  And by god…LISTEN. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Time for Lavender

All About Lavender
Lavandula Officinalis, or Lavender for most folks, has been used for over 2000 years.  We know that Egyptians  used it in their mummification processes and urns of its remains were found in pyramids.  It was used by the Greeks as a perfume and began to be used medicinally. It has been used to treat headaches, burns, minor cuts to various skin ailments.  It is also used as an insect repellant. 

Lavender uses steam distillation of the Lavender flower heads to derive the essential oil.  The essential oil is a thin consistency and is dark yellow to a greenish yellow.  It is a Middle Note, that is floral with a woody undertone.

It blends well with: Cedarwood Atlas, Chamomile Roman, Grapefruit, Patchouli, Rose Geranium , Vetiver, and Ylang Ylang

Precautions:  Do not use if you are pregnant.  Always dilute before using on skin. 

In my experience with Lavender is one is all in or all out.  I have never met someone that sits the fence with lavender.  It is among my favorite essential oils to work with.  While it is said to be excellent for eczema and chapped skin, I am leery of it for those uses.  While it promotes sebum production which should aid handily in with those issues, if you have sensitive skin, like I do, I could serve to irritate more than benefit.  I would caution to start with a very small amount (1-2) drops in 2 oz of carrier oil or butter and see how it works.  If you notice no irritation you might increase to 4 drops.  I would not recommend ever putting directly on your skin and be extra careful with the skin on the face. 

My favorite use for Lavender is baths before bed.  Seriously for me, this equates to the best night sleep ever.  Depending on the state of my skin it use it to scent salts (mix of Himalayan and Epsom or to make a bath oil, and shhhh don’t tell anyone, sometimes both! 

So here are two recipes for you to enjoy.  If you make them comment with changes you suggest or how you liked them (or how well you slept!!). You can also tell me if you are a Tempranillo fan or prefer another elixir J

Bath Salts

2 cups total salt.   If you only use one  type of salt make it Epsom.  Epsom salt is a great source of magnesium and has a whole slew of benefits (I see another blog post coming!) .  Other salts have their own good properties but as a standalone none beat Epsom in my opinion.

1 cup baking soda.  This is optional but if you have it or even have a little add it in.  Baking soda  helps regulate the PH of skin and it gives the water a sumptuous silky feel.  It is totally indulgent.

4-5 drops of Lavender (or  mix of lavender and another e.o.  My favorite oils to mix with lavender are cedarwood and grapefruit.  I highly recommend cedarwood  if you want a calming grounding feeling.  Grapefruit has lavender take on a peppery aroma.  It is strangely calming and invigorating if that can be accomplished!  

Mix well and pour the entire contents in a warm bath.  Soak for as long and you stand.  I find a big old glass of wine and a decent book round out this heavenly experience.  If you are not a drinker try some chamomile tea. 

Bath Oil

¼ cup of any good carrier oil.  Olive oil is always an easy go to and an excellent choice.  If you want something more hydrating and have access to avocado oil, try that.  
 4-5 drops of lavender oil or any blend (see above)  mix well. 

I recommend adding this to your bath after you are already in it.  Many people have asked me how bath oil is beneficial other than it smells nice.  I say, “Great question!”  The reality is basic chemistry lets us know oil and water do not mix,  So how can this help hydrate skin (which is the real reason we use bath oil. The scent is really just for pleasure).  While you are sitting in your bath contemplating the meaning of life or how you lived so long without knowing the joy of a good Tempranillo, your skins pores are opening and your skin is getting nice and soft.  When you have finally had enough sitting still or perhaps have exhausted that glass of Tempranillo, you stand to get out of the bath (be careful!)  and all that lovely oil adheres to your skin as your body rises from underneath the water to out of the water.  It is made ideal by having these hydrating oils on your skin at the exact moment you skin is most ready to accept moister.  So prior to drying off, rub it in and then towel off. 

I really would recommend both the salts and oil if you can manage it.  If you do, though, only add essential oils to one, not both.    

Finally let me say this, in remaining consistent to our brand and brand philosophy of Love You let me address the real nuts and bolts of using essential oils or taking a luxurious bath.  Use of any essential oil has its benefits.  I mean they are yummy things.  But the bigger benefit comes from, I believe, taking the time for you.  It is a bold intention.  You put the love and time into making the oil or salts or both.  You give yourself the time to sit and read or contemplate quietly.  This is HUGE.   That is the biggest healing power of any of this.  The lavender oil and salts are bonus.  The time you take for yourself is primary.  Enjoy . Every. Last. Second.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eczema and 7 Things You Can Do To Prevent or Help a Flair Up

Lets start by clarifying not all eczema is created equal.  Not even close.  Most of the remedies I suggest are targeted to mild to moderate flair ups.  No matter the type though, eczema stinks.  There are natural and effective ways, however, to treat and relieve eczema. It took me years to figure out something that worked to help with my son’s eczema.  I have put together a cheat sheet I hope will help you and save you some of the time and frustration we dealt with.
 What is Eczema and What Causes It?
Eczema is a chronic skin condition in which the skin becomes itchy, reddened, cracked and dry. It can be caused by an allergy or external irritant however, often the cause is unknown.

Where Should I Start? 
There is no easy answer to this.  There are different things to consider.  Is the patients eczema sever or mild.  If it is mild using quality skin products might be all that is needed.  However, if it is a moderate to sever case it is really important to try and determine the cause.  You can see an allergist for testing and/or try an elimination diet at home to see if it is food allergy or sensitivity.
I am a big believer that we have more food sensitivities than we often think.  Eating foods that irritates our body causes inflammation within the body.  That inflammation can take a toll in many ways, one being eczema. The best products in the world will not help if you keep fueling the cause of the inflammation.
Here is a great article on elimination diets and what to do. Detox diets are another great option and I will write more on that later. 
7 Things to Avoid to Prevent or Help a Flair Up?

  1. Avoid prolonged periods in hot water
  2. Avoid, rubbing the skin after a shower/bath.  Instead pat dry
  3. Avoid harsh soaps and solvents.  Particularly ones with Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, Propylene glycol, and fragrance. (*Note it is hard to find cleaners free of these.  Sweet Cheeks makes a bath gel that is suitable but castile also works well)
  4. Avoid products containing mineral oil (*Note: mineral oil is used ubiquitously in the US.  Read the labels.)
  5. Avoid any products containing fragrance oil, even laundry detergent.
  6. Avoid tight clothes and synthetic fabrics,. Wear clothes that breath.
  7. Avoid know allergens if possible. If you have seasonal allergies try a Neti Pot

What About Home Remedies?
I would love nothing more than for you to purchase lots of our products!  However, I also know that there is no cure all for something like eczema.  Nothing thrills us more than the letters and e-mails we receive from customers telling us how well our product has worked and how thankful they are for it!
That said, I also understand wanting to test some basic remedies first.  The very first thing I would recommend is stop putting anything on your body that contains mineral oil.  It is a double whammy for eczema.  It blocks moisture from entering  the skin (which is what you want to happen with eczema) all the while that oily layer that sits on top, leaches moisture out of your skin.  There really is nothing worse for it.  From there I would try to get as gentle a soap as possible.  We even went to a 2 part baking soda to 1 part water mixture for a month.  Those two steps, for us…were world changers.  Give it about two weeks.  I would also recommend a quality moisturizer.  Yes, we make them, and there are many reasons I can tell you why ours are so good for eczema.  However,  in a pinch you can use olive oil or even better unrefined coconut oil to start with.  
What Sweet Cheeks products work best for Eczema?
First, our bath gel is great.  It is a castile base that has coconut oil and shea added to help counter the stripping effects soap has to skin.  However, if you don’t use our products please find a cleaner that does not contain the ingredients listed above in the “What Should I Avoid” section.
Second the body butter or solid moisturizer. I would recommend unscented, especially if you are having a bad flair up.  You can also do a combination of the solid after you shower and then keep a small tin of the butter to spot treat.
In another article I will be profiling some eczema treatment products so stay tuned. 
- See more at:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


We experienced huge growth in 2014 and have outgrown our space.  So we have launched an indiegogo campaign to help us revamp a new space.  Please consider checking it out, and sharing!  As alwasy...thank you for your support!!


Sweet Cheeks

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Are You Worthy of Your Wrinkles?

Not so long ago I had some pictures taken for the business.  The one we ended up using, was of a woman, about my age.  The photo we used was of her laughing, head thrown  back, eyes twinkling with joy, set against a bleak winter day.  It was fantastic. 

Before we settled on a picture the guy that took my photos came over one day and we were picking which photo to use.  Once settled upon, he then uses his Photoshop magic to change the lighting a bit, and create shadows that did not exist in the original photo.  It was really cool.  Then he took this app that looked like an eraser and starts to take her smile lines away. 

“Put those back!” I snapped. 

He stopped.  Likely a bit stunned.  And I simply said, “Leave them. I like them.” 

The reality is we chose a woman in her late 30’s early 40’s for a reason. However, I think he and I did not agree on the reason. 

His idea, was to erase the hands of time so that other women will look at her, realize her age and think on some level, “How does her skin look so good? Sweet Cheeks of course!” 

Aside from, as a women, being tired of being lied to with pictures, I don’t really think I knew what my idea was until that moment.  But there it was plain as day.  I love wrinkles.  I love the story they tell.  I love that every time this woman laughed too loud at a joke or cried too hard over a love not worth it, it was on her face.  I loved that the joy in the birth of her babies, was in the folds of her “worry lines.”  I love the way her smile lines highlighted her eyes and invited you to laugh with her.  Simply, she was stunning not despite her lines, but (in part at least) because of them.  Her lines are a map of where she has been.  I map of who she was and what it took to become who she is. They  a map that outlines the story of her life.

However, if I am honest…really honest, I don’t see my own lines that way.  I see every failure in them.  Every harsh word I spoke in anger.  Every extra cookie (not needed ), every pound lost and put on and lost again, and again and again.  I see, “you are not pretty”, “nor good enough”, “nor special.”   I see mostly, “you are not worthy.” Worthy of what?  You fill in the blank.

And I realized why I use “anti-aging” products.  It is not to get rid of the lines of my life.  No, not at all really.  It is simply to get my lines to tell a different story.   I use it somehow so that when you see my lines you will see in them, the time I picked up the spider and put him outside despite feeling like I would throw up from fear,  the time I wanted to yell at my husband because I felt sad/angry/scared, but found the strength to share how vulnerable I was feeling, the time I got it right…every time I managed to get it right.  I want you to see what a good friend I try be, and how much I love my family.  I want you to see despite being imperfect, how hard I try.  I want you to see my light and joy and inherent goodness.  I want you to see that I am worthy.  Worthy of what?  You fill in the blank.

And there it is.  Please, please evening primrose… make me worthy.

So we kept her wrinkles. Because it was honest, and honestly beautiful.  And she was worthy.  We are all worthy.

And the next time I looked in the mirror and felt the surge of disappointment in my lines.  I felt the shame of “not good enough.”  I looked a little deeper.  And I realized that my lines might very well tell the truth of my imperfection, but they also tell the truth of my moments of perfection. 

And the moments of my worthiness.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sweet Cheeks Popping Up in Orange in Carytown

Press Release:

Richmond, VA – January 27, 2014 – Sweet Cheeks All Natural Bath & Body, Richmond-based purveyors of all natural, bath and body products, will take over the second floor of Orange, a Carytown boutique, for their first-ever pop-up shop beginning Tuesday, January 28.  An open house is scheduled this Thursday, January 30 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. to celebrate and welcome guests with refreshments and the area’s only ‘bath bar’, where customers can create and customize their own bath salts and bath bombs. The pop up shop will run for three weeks, closing February 16.
Sweet Cheeks All Natural’s new store will carry a variety of bath and body products for men, women and children. The entire line is all natural, paraben free, and eco-friendly, with many of the ingredients sourced locally.
“We’re attempting to gauge the level of interest Richmonders have in a luxury bath and body shop. The pop up is fun, plus it gives us a front-seat opportunity to meet and educate consumers about the true meaning of all natural, eco-friendly, and green bath and body products and why they’re important,” says  Vanessa McCauley, owner of Sweet Cheeks All Natural.
McCauley was inspired by her children’s--and her own--sensitive skin issues. After trying numerous products and remedies, McCauley created Sweet Cheeks All Natural with the mission to create products that were not only safe for her family, but safe for the planet. 
About Sweet Cheeks All Natural
Vanessa McCauley began Sweet Cheeks All Natural after becoming frustrated with the lack of options for her son’s severe eczema. Setting out on a mission to find something to provide relief without a list of scary side effects, McCauley’s search was fruitless. That’s when she created what was needed—and was better—herself. Beginning with Baby Butter (a soothing moisturizing cream for babies), the line now includes a full-range of bath and body products and candles. 
Free of parabens, petroleums, and preservatives, Sweet Cheeks All Natural products are made from the finest plant-based oils and natural ingredients.  All Sweet Cheeks products are gentle to the body and to the earth, using earth friendly packaging and minimal secondary packaging. 

For more information about Sweet Cheeks All Natural, visit or through their online contact form at Find Sweet Cheeks All Natural on and