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Cruelty-Free Gift Guide

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Hello! How has your holiday season been going so far? Per usual, the days are flying by quicker than ever. (Which is terrifying, but also supposedly normal?) Yet another reason why it's been so long since there's been a new LunaVida post. But I'm back with a 100% vegan and cruelty-free gift guide! (If you'd like to see past gift guides for even more ideas, you can check those out here.)

I wanted to post this with a bit of a disclaimer though. You may have noticed over the past few years that, while I've never been one to not re-wear the same articles of clothing (for literally years and years), this blog has really transformed over the years. That's because I really don't want to contribute to unnecessary consumerism. Our planet just can't handle our ongoing wastefulness. It simply can't. That being said, you know what would be better than any of these presents listed here? Donating to a cause that is close to your loved one's heart. Cooking a plant-based holiday meal for a neighbor in need. Spending our most valuable resource (our time) to volunteer at an animal shelter or picking up litter. Isn't that what the holiday season should be about anyway? Not Dudley Dursley-level numbers of toys that kids will break in a few hours or yet another gray sweater. (Don't get me wrong. I love a good grey sweater on Black Friday sale too, but once I learned about the environmental impact fast fashion is having on our planet, I can't in good conscious keep buying whenever a whim strikes or simply because something is a good deal.)

Trust me. I enjoy stuff as much as the next person. And I still have a long way to go in lessening my unnecessary waste and fast fashion. (Truly ethical brands are so expensive! 😓 But really, if you know of a good one that someone on a nonprofit salary can afford, please share.). But over the past couple of years, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to resist the rampant consumerism that is alive and well in our society—especially when December hits each year. If we're going to be making those holiday purchases though, let's collectively agree to at least do so as mindfully as possible, yeah? That's why today's gift guide has vegan, cruelty-free, and affordable ideas for all sorts of people in your life! (And please know that this is not me shaming anyone! I am just as guilty as the next person and can do so much better. And hey, if you have been needing something, hell yes take advantage of all the sales going on this time of year! Save that hard-earned money, honey. But many of us can certainly be more cognizant of our "spending just to spend" habits.)

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Stocking stuffers

Handheld plant milk frother
I admit that I bought this with no real need for it, other than that I was trying to cut back on our weekend morning trips to the coffee shop down the street from our house. That being said, Matt and I LOVE ours. And yes, best of all, it has drastically reduced the number of coffee shop oat milk lattes we buy. We make our weekend AM cups of coffee at home so much more now!

Reusable K-Cups
I am SO bummed that K-Cups are still even a thing. They are so heartbreakingly wasteful. We do have a Keurig, but we've never bought K-Cups. Instead, we buy bulk size coffee grounds of our favorite flavors and use these reusable coffee pods instead. It literally takes under 10 seconds to fill them up, so it's still super convenient and quick like a Keurig's purpose is supposed to be!

Pacifica products
There are so many to choose from, but you can't go wrong with this 100% vegan and cruelty-free brand! They're a go-to for me for allllllll types of beauty products. These sheet masks or this skincare set would be fun (and actually desirable) for White Elephant.

Tarte Cosmetics Collection
The mascara included in this set is by far the best I've ever used! It's so good that it's the only kind the I use. My mom and sisters are hooked too! I also love the other Tarte makeup I've used, so this seems like a solid option.

Herb garden
This is such a cute idea for anyone who may not have outdoor space but wishes they could grow their own food. Plus, who doesn't love beautiful greenery in their home?

Enough said.

Gifts under $30—and that make donations on your behalf!

Dog tee - 20% of profits are donated to animal shelters! 
I personally have this shirt (seen here and here) so I can vouch that it'd make an amazing present for the animal lover in your life.  (I also have this Extra Dog Mom sweatshirt and this Home With My Cat t-shirt from the same shop. Highly recommend those too!)

100% Human tank - $5 from each product in this collection sold goes to the American Civil Liberties Union.
This brand is known for its transparency. They partner with only the best factories and ensure employees are paid a fair wage and work reasonable hours in a safe environment.

Socks - For each clothing item purchased, a "specially-designed donation clothing item of the same kind is donated to someone in need." 
My mom told me about this company. She loves their no show socks. They are pretty pricey and, let's be honest, not everyone wants socks for a gift... but I love how they give back and had to include them!

Ethically responsible subscription box - They partner with orgs that empower disadvantaged communities and create jobs.
My sister got me this for Christmas last year and then again for my 30th birthday. It's that good! The value is insane—and even better, they source only the highest quality, cruelty-free, and socially responsible brands! I've literally loved every item I've received in those boxes and found new brands I want to support.

Amazing organizations who I'm sure would love a donation from you :D

The Humane League
Yes, it may seem that I'm being biased because this is the group I work for. BUT it was my favorite organization long before I was ever employed by them! THL fights to make largescale change for billions for animals on factory farms across the globe every day. I know firsthand that your gift goes on to help great work be done :)

A Well-Fed World
You know what doesn't make any sense? Using meat, which uses a disturbing amount of resources, to feed those experiencing hunger. You may be like "WTF are you saying? Why?" Well, for example, more than half of the grain in the United States and nearly 40% of the entire world's grain is being fed to livestock, rather than being eaten directly by people. That is A LOT of wasted food. How about, instead, we cut out the middle part and feed healthier, more sustainable, and less cruelty-centric plants to humans? This NGO lets you donate a meal, similarly to another very famous org that has you purchase a live animal to feed a family; however, rather than killing an innocent creature, you feed an impoverished child healthier and more sustainable plant-based options!

Planned Parenthood
Because access to affordable healthcare FOR ALL matters. Plain and simple.

Everytown For Gun Safety
This group is helping to bring commonsense gun reform to the United States. There are 100 gun-related deaths every single day in America. That is unacceptable. We can do better. Everytown is working to make a safer world a reality by fighting gun violence.

American Civil Liberties Union
This human rights organization's mission is to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Groups in your local community
Your own neighborhood may need your help! Whether it's spending time with the elderly, meals on wheels, socializing cats at your local shelter, doing a river cleanup, helping to build a barn at a nearby farm animal sanctuary, or any of the other thousands of things that need our aid, you can do so much to help the causes your loved one's care about without ever having to spend a penny.
*During this time of year, a lot of these orgs probably have donors who are matching gifts, so your donations can be doubled—even tripled in some cases!*

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It's odd (and kinda hard) for me to create gift guides. That's probably because I'm just not a big "gift person" personally. It's my very last love language (Matt's too, actually), so I'm both not great at giving or receiving gifts. This is not a great trait, I know, but presents just don't cross my mind often. I'd rather someone spend their money on an issue that's dear to them or help someone they know who's actually in need rather than give me something that I don't need. I know that sounds kinda bratty, but we live in a 750 square foot home—I simply don't have the space for anything extra! (Ha, just kidding.)

Oh, one more relevant thing that came to mind for this time of year! My sister recently told me about ThredUp's Clean Out Kit. They send you a bag, you put the clothes you want to donate in it, ship it back for free, and they either sell (and give you money or you can donate it) the clothes OR responsibly recycle them for you. Isn't that amazing?! And since I imagine a lot of us will be purging our closets in the coming weeks, you can sign up right here for a free kit to be mailed to you!

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Happy holidays!

PS: Yesterday was LunaVida's seventh anniversary, which is insane! Thanks for sticking around all these years and through all the changes 🤗

PPS: And yes, I am aware how long it's been since I wrote a post on LunaVida. I apologize. I was not joking about how busy life has become in my 30s. So I'll try to be back here again as soon as I can! And as always, for more timely updates, follow along on Instagram @alliegee319 :)

Fall is coming... | Jacket + Tank + Ripped Jeans + Slides

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

WOW. It has been a biiiit since the last LunaVida post. So, so sorry! This summer, things have just been quite possibly the busiest of my life. From starting off the season with a weekend in Vegas, to traveling to the east coast for a work retreat, to our trip to Europe for our friends' wedding, and then coming home to settle back into normal life. All the while, we've been doing the standard working, trying to be the best pet parents possible, attempting to ensure the house doesn't become a hazard zone, and trying to maintain somewhat of a social life. (I honestly don't know how people with children do it all. I'll be able to never comprehend it.) And in between all that, somehow the months have just flown by at an unprecedented speed. 

Don't get me wrong, though — this has been an amazing summer that I'm very grateful for, but damn, has that extra busyness meant things like LunaVida have fallen to the wayside. I definitely want to share more about our first international trip as vegans, so I will try to get a post up about that as soon as I can! (Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to write about. We spent time in Dublin, Barcelona, Santorini, and Paris.) Anyway, thank you for your patience with me — and for more timely updates, be sure to follow along on IG @alliegee319 😊 

Olive green military jacket (also seen here, here, and here): Old Navy
[similar — on sale!]

Navy blue and white striped tank with tie detail: J.Crew Factory — currently on sale!

Levi's 721 high rise distressed skinny jeans (also here): Shopbop

Brown flat slide sandals (also here): Target

Gold aviator sunglasses (also seen here and here): Old Navy

Gold "A" initial necklace: J.Crew Factory – currently 71% off!

Gold bracelets (also seen here, here, and here): J.Crew and c/o Blue Sunflowers

I also feel a deep need to share that in between all the recent hectic times, Matt and I squeezed in a trip to one of our favorite places in San Diego County, Farm Animal Refuge, last week. Why do I have to share this? Well, you'll see exactly why when you click here to see photos of the litter of weeks old piglets they rescued recently 😍  Enjoy.

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How has your summer been? Did it fly by for you too? Are you ready for all that glorious fall promises to bring about or clinging desperately to these long, sunny days?

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Interview | Chris and Kacey Photo + Videography

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Earlier this year, Matt and I were fortunate enough to do a photo and video shoot with the adorable and supremely talented married duo of Chris and Kacey Photo. Back in spring, Kacey and Chris met Matt and me in Bird Rock, where they spent the next couple of hours shooting photos and footage of us trying not to fall on the rocks and trying to look cute wading in the water along the coast.

Now, not only was it really fun hanging out with both of them for the afternoon, but I also feel the need to preface the rest of this post with the fact that Matt and I are not naturals in front of the camera; however, Kacey and Chris made us feel completely comfortable from the minute we met them, and they gave great direction the entire time. So much so, that, a few weeks later when we got the finished products back, we were both honestly blown away (because Matt and I automatically assumed that since we are so unnatural in front of a camera that we had ruined the shoot with painfully awkward faces and poses 📸).

Therefore, I wanted to share this power couple with you all too, in case you are in need of their services in the future! So please continue to scroll down to see a handful of the pictures (JK. I shared, like, 14,000 – and this was me narrowing it down 😅 but they're just so talented!!), some interview questions Kacey was kind enough to answer, and a sneak peek at the video Chris put together!

Tell us a bit about the two of you!

We've been together for almost 8 years, and married for almost 2, have 3 dogs and a cat (all rescues), bought our first house together before we got married, and have to sweep our floors twice a day because of all the pet hair. Chris works full-time as a Respiratory Therapist. He reads about 3 books a month, is a Sci-fi nerd, a movie buff, an over-thinker, and claims he hasn't had a good night's sleep in 10 years. I [Kacey] work for Planned Parenthood. I'm ride-or-die for Handmaid's Tale, usually order off the kid's menu, love horror movies (it's in my blood, my great-grandpa was Boris Karloff), and haven't met a dog I didn't want to pet. I could actually cry just thinking about how much I love dogs. We love so many of the same things, so we're not complete opposites but, personality-wise, we definitely balance each other out.

What first piqued your interest in photography/videography?

We've always loved documenting our date nights and adventures and sitting back and looking through memories, but the bulk of our "portfolio" was that and dog photos. Then, we spent 3 hours driving out to the sand dunes for our newlywed photo session with our wedding photographer (Sarah Linda Photography) and were so inspired by her story of how far she'd come and how she just took a chance on something she loved. We've both always had jobs out of necessity and the idea of working for ourselves never seemed attainable. You sit on your lunch break at work scrolling through and seeing these influencers and small business owners on Instagram and think "Damn, that's rad they do that for a living!" but you rarely know their backstory or how they got to where they are. So when you have this incredible photographer hanging out with you, telling you how she got started, that entrepreneur fantasy becomes more tangible for you, so we decided to give it a shot.

When did you start taking pictures/video?

Chris bought his first DSLR, a Canon Rebel, our first year dating to take to all the places we'd go to on dates. We didn't start taking it seriously, sitting down and reading and learning about our cameras, until after we got married.

How did you start your business?

We started by doing free photo sessions for all of our friends and family for practice and to build up our portfolio. Then one day we started getting inquiries from strangers or friends-of-friends who wanted to actually book us and pay us and we were very humbly stoked. We both still have our full-time jobs, so, for now, we're just booking around our work schedules and trying to gain more clients and exposure. Social media is a huge platform for small businesses but keeping up with all of our accounts is definitely a lot of work.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Just getting to tell peoples' stories with our photography and videos. Every couple is unique and we like getting to know them while we follow them around with cameras in their faces. Some people are timider having their photo taken, which we totally get, but no matter how awkward they may act or feel during the session, we're always able to catch real moments and those are always our favorite. 

What do you do for fun other than photography?

Working full time and starting your own business takes up your free time, but we try to get the most out of what we get. We love taking the dogs to Huntington Dog Beach, going for hikes, seeing Incubus every year they tour, and driving out to Palm Springs for the day. But we're both introverted homebodies so sometimes we just look forward to our "lazy days" of just staying home, hanging out with all the babies, watching movies we've already seen a hundred times, or bingeing a new TV show. 

What is your dream location to shoot?

Good one! We're hopefully headed to the sand dunes in the next couple of months and we're super excited for that. We'd love to shoot in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon too. Anything with ominous or major backdrops for sure. We'd love to travel to exotic locations in the future but for now, there are so many killer places within a day's drive that we want to tackle first. 

If you're searching for photographers and/or videographers, I can't recommend Chris and Kacey enough! The photos and footage speak for themselves. Their talent is undeniable. But on top of all that, I mean it when I say that the two of them are a blast to hang out with!

Be sure to follow along with them on social media! You can find them on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest.

To see the video in its entirety, click here.

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PS: Matt and I are back from Europe, and I will be sharing more about that trip soon! In the meantime, check out some shots from our travels over on Instagram @alliegee319!

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