I've driven by the equestrian center near my house for seven years now. And during the last four years I began to notice the white horse that stood by himself in the small turnout, on the west side of a small barn. I wondered about him. I wondered what his story was. For years! And then I decided to ask. To make a move.

I've had horses in my life since I was very young. I learned to ride on my grandparents' dairy farm in Illinois at about five years old. Horses were the main focus of my life when I lived in California. I taught them to jump and barrel race. Like many young girls, I was obsessed with them. These "mutt" horses were not barrel racers or jumpers, but I pretended they were, and thankfully they played along. I rode in horse shows and in the grand entry of the local rodeo. I rode them in never-ending fields of grass and along creeks. I braided flowers into their manes. They were my best friends. But a sudden move to Colorado meant losing those dear animals. I was lost without them. Horses came and went throughout my years in high school and college. I taught riding at a camp in southern New Mexico and rode the ranch horses in Santa Fe.

But after college I started a career and then a family, and those needs came first, so there wasn't room for horses in my life. I rode my friend's horses from time to time, but it just wasn't enough. I needed them. I missed them terribly. And then came two bouts of cancer and all the trauma that ensued. The after-effects of the surgeries and the resulting emotional garbage left me reeling. And in the meantime I kept driving by that horse.

Finally, just two months ago, I sent an email to the equestrian center telling them my story—all of it—and asked if I could come visit the white horse. Just hang out and chat over carrots. To my delight, the owner of the center replied a few days later and asked me to meet her at the barn. We talked that day for nearly two hours. She "got" me and understood my needs. And I learned that she is also a chaplain at a local hospital. She encouraged me to come by the center and visit, and that's where I have been for the past two months. 

And this past Saturday another opportunity came out of the universe. The barn manager texted me and asked if I'd like to take on some feeding/turnout shifts at the barn. Her text ended with: "and it's a paid job." PAID? That's just icing on the cake! Of course I said yes, without even thinking of my time needs for physical therapies, and Plus, and my life in general. Just....YES!

So, I've taken on three rotating shifts that entail leading approximately 25 horses to their stalls in the evenings, feeding, blanketing and /or unblanketing, memorizing which horse is which and which halter (hanging on the fences) belong to which. My body, still sore from the after-effects of the surgeries and therapies, is now lifting bales of hay, and twisting and turning, and leading very large animals over ice and snow and mud. My fingers are in beet pulp, my boots trash my truck, and my clothes smell like horse, and that's all OK with me. Each shift takes about three hours of non-stop work and about six miles of walking. It takes an eye for detail: are all the gates locked, is the water frozen, are the horses acting ok, are the right lights on. It also takes me a few minutes longer than it probably should. I take time to talk to each one. I pat each and every one. I say goodnight when I close their stalls. We talk.

The beauty of all this is twofold for me. First, I took a chance. I reached out. I went out of my comfort zone to work my body again. Despite still having rough days, I got out of my usual environment. I am mixing things up.

Second, during those three-hour shifts I never think about anything else except hay and grain and halters and horses. There is no room for thoughts of cancer or lymphedema or sadness or trauma. It takes me away.

I was struggling with a blanket on a sweet bay named Bubba this week, and he stood there patiently. I had already put his hay in his stall—and he was hungry—yet he just stood there, in the turnout, and waited for me to get my act together with his blanket. And then, as I got the last buckle secured, and as I apologized to him profusely, he turned his head towards me, closed his eyes, and nuzzled me in the chest. 

And that, dear friends, is worth every ache and pain. It's worth every bad day, every daily struggle, every doubt.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Becky and Tiffany at Carlisle Equestrian Center for their welcome and their support...and to Bubba, and Lenny, and Gus, and Phoenix, and Cimm, and Scarlett, and Kat, and Dazee, and Molly, etc., etc. You guys all rock my world.






Polly + Ann

In theory we should have been sisters. From the time we met in 4th grade, until we were geographically separated in 9th grade in the wake of my mother's divorce, we were inseparable. We wore each other's clothes. We both adored animals — all animals. We wore our hair the same, and oh how I wanted my light brown/blonde locks to be red like hers. We liked the same boys. We were both cheerleaders. I was student body president in 8th grade, she was my vice president. She reminded me of a sunflower. She was a bright light. She was sunny. She was a goofball. Her smile took over the entire room. She was passionate. She was kind. In short, she was my best friend.

When my mother told me we had to move from that little central California town, my world turned upside down. It hit me so deeply that I still feel the loss today — the loss of good friends, my animals, a great school, a wonderful life. But it was the separation from Polly that would be the worst.

Her wonderful family, knowing how much we meant to each other, and understanding how devastated I was by the impending move, offered to let me live with them for half of my freshman year. Her father was my 9th grade math teacher. And her mother treated me as one of her own. Her amazing brothers and sisters took me under their collective wings. Polly and I tried to not talk about me leaving but it hung over us like a heavy, gray fog. We lived every minute to the fullest though. We went to every football game, every party, every event. We would oftentimes stay up half the night talking about what would become of us. Because we were, quite simply, one.

The fateful day arrived. I don't remember much about it now. Too painful to keep that memory alive, but I do remember the tears and her mom trying to pry us apart. And then life happened.

I moved to Colorado. I was unhappy. Polly came out to see me once, but it was difficult in those days to get together. We wrote incessantly. But life went on, life became more complicated, and we began to lose touch. We grew up, we had children. Each of us had our ups and downs in our separate lives, and our communication dwindled down to nothing. My heart hurt when I thought about her and my life there. The pain of leaving was too much for me sometimes.

We were so much alike, so tuned in, so connected on every level. And then we even got the same disease. In 2003, just a few months after my first cancer diagnosis, I learned that Polly had died from breast cancer. My world fell apart again. She and I fought the same disease at the same time and we never even knew it. But somehow I always knew she was out there. I knew that we could, in theory, pick up the phone and be connected again and go on as if I had never left. I knew I could get on a plane and go see her. But now she was gone.

I have connected with her family through FaceBook and learned that her beautiful daughter was recently married. I see Polly in spirit, in those wedding photos posted online. I see her wide smile and beauty reflected in her daughter. It brought the loss back to me, all over again, but it also prompted me to honor her here.

She'd be proud of me and PLUS. She'd be happy that I made something good out of something terrible. Through PLUS I honor Polly and all those we love who have been affected by cancer. Polly, you will always be with me. And the thoughts of you riding my horses and weaving dandelions into their bridles, playing with the guinea pigs and pretending they talked, bobbing for apples at our Halloween party, playing dodgeball and skinning our knees on the asphalt, practicing our cheers, and swinging like monkeys on the bars at recess, will always keep me afloat when times are tough.

Here's to you, my friend. I think of you all the time.


One is never really the same after something like this. To say that cancer affects every single aspect of one's life is an understatement. Did I emphasize EVERY SINGLE ASPECT? To have experienced it twice was miserable and sad, to put it lightly. Plus, the resulting lymphedema is a like a cancer party gift I got to take home with me. Lovely. Thanks.

But since all of this nonsense happened, something equally as powerful has also occurred, but on the positive side of the spectrum: the messages. Messages from the Universe is what I call them. Most are loud and clear and in my face. But some are subtle and lovely. Like this one.

I spent Thanksgiving week down on a barrier island off the coast of Texas. Our family has gone there for 22 years now. It is one of the rare places I can go where I don't do anything. I just sit and look at the water. One day on this past visit, I was sitting on the beach with my kids when my son pointed out a bird eating up little goodies off the sand. It was a female grackle. And she was missing a foot.

Now this is a common theme on our annual trek to the Gulf of Mexico to see birds missing feet and even entire legs; it's a rugged coastline. And every time I see one I feel terrible for it, and then suddenly that "missing" leg pops right out of those feathers onto the sand. My family gives me grief about this. But this one was really missing a foot. For real. Knowing what I was thinking, Nic said, "Well, she appears to be doing ok," as she hobbled along eating up little beach bugs. We watched her for a time until she eventually wandered away. Jordan then decided to go upstairs for snacks, and Nic and I sat in silence watching the waves.

About 15 minutes later I happened to look to my left and there was THE SAME BIRD sitting on the back of Jordan's empty chair, holding on with her one little remaining foot. Now this got Nic's attention. She sat for a few minutes and watched us. I couldn't believe she was so close. And then she flew away.

Several hours later, we abandoned our beach chairs and headed upstairs. I took a shower, poured a glass of sangria and wandered out to the balcony and plopped down into a chair overlooking the Gulf. It was then that I noticed a movement to my right. Sitting with her little legs (and one foot) tucked underneath her was my bird! She stood, ruffled her feathers a bit, and sat back down. How did she find me on the 12th floor, out of 200 units, next to a similar building with the same number of condos? How could this be? My mind immediately set out to discount this little miracle: "It just can't be the same bird." But it was. And as a matter of fact, I had never, in all of my 22 years down there, seen a bird sitting on one of the balcony railings, especially not 12 floors up.

She sat and looked at me for quite some time as I pondered what this meant. And then, feeling terrible for her again, I snuck into the kitchen, tore up a tortilla (not that you are supposed to feed wild birds...oops), and put them into a pile near her. She stood, calmly, jumped on her good—and only foot—over to the scraps and gobbled them up. She then looked me straight in the eye and flew away. Whyyyyy do these things happen to me?

Skip ahead now to earlier this week, to an appointment with my therapist who helps me deal with the cancer aftermath. I relayed the story to her, punctuated several times with "What could this possibly mean?"

"Well, I'll tell you what it means," she said. "That bird was you. That bird came to you to show you and tell you that you may be hobbled and injured—both emotionally and physically—from this cancer fallout, but you can still fly. And fly you have."

I realized right then and there, that on a wing and a prayer I will work through the physical pain and recovery, and the emotional crap that makes me just want to roll up into a little ball most days. I will.

And therein lies the message of this post (if you are looking for messages, as I always seem to be). Despite what happens to you, you still have wings to fly. It may not be easy. It may be a long, terrible and grueling recovery, a tough and sad road indeed...but your spirit can still fly.

I simply have to believe it. I believe in the power of my little bird.



What does the pink ribbon on a product mean? Typically it means that the company is donating a percentage of the funds from that product to "breast cancer awareness." (Whatever that means to them.) But that is not always the case. And certainly, just because a product has a pink ribbon DOES NOT mean it is non-toxic or chemical free. In fact, many of the mainstream skin care products adorned with pink ribbons this month are anything but. Don't be fooled by the pink ribbon. Be aware of what you are putting on your skin.

Read labels!

We urge you to support only companies that sell clean, non-toxic products that are free from chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Look closely at the labels on the skin care products from the big, well-known companies sporting pink ribbons and hues to see if they really stand by their claim to "care about cancer" and support breast cancer awareness. You can tell by simply reading the list of ingredients. Look for parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl and propyl), phthalates, DMDM hydantoin and polyethylene glycol (PEG) for starters. These are all chemicals linked to cancer.

Bring on the prevention!

We are all aware of breast cancer. It is PREVENTION that we need. It is never too late to start to make a change towards breast cancer prevention. Make the change now. Get educated. Ask questions. Read labels. Eat well. Exercise. Relax. Live.


During October everything from hammers, to soup cans, to fried chicken buckets will take on a pink hue to raise awareness for breast cancer. But when 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease, is awareness what we really need? We need breast cancer prevention awareness. And the shift from awareness to life-saving prevention starts with you.

Do you realize?

There are many well-known companies that claim to care about cancer during this pink-washing month, yet they continue to produce or sell products that contain chemicals linked to cancer. This hypocritical stance makes their pink-ribboned products a moot point.

The time for change is now

Don't wait until you or someone you love is affected by the disease before making a change towards breast cancer PREVENTION awareness. The time for change is now. Get educated. Read the labels on your skin care products. Eat well. Exercise. Relax. Live.


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The latest round of med tests have come back clean. So there you have it: 3 years/3 months/23 days. At what point do you stop counting? Never. At what point does it become easier? Not sure. Maybe the fact that there were two diagnoses, not just one, makes things more difficult. Therapies are on-going, as are the terrible after-effects of the surgeries and treatments. Some days feel like I’m starting at square one. The next day I feel pretty good. The recovery is long and certainly not easy. What’s easy is letting it get to me, and getting stuck in the low spots. But then…

But then I get an email from someone telling me how happy they are that they found Plus / modern natural skin care (never in a million years did I ever think I’d start a natural skin care company!), or I escape while paddle boarding in the hot summer sun, or I sit on the beach in south Texas and do nothing but watch the waves, or I dance with my daughter in H&M (don’t ask), or my crazy spotted cattle dog does something to make me laugh out loud. Simple things like that. And then I feel good.

3 years/3 months/23 days, and despite the tremendous challenges I still face, every single one of those days has made me grateful and thankful that I am still here to blog about it, and am able to enjoy those simple things. One day at a time baby, that’s my strategy. Just one day at a time.  

news + updates, luxury, lifestyle


Greatest advice you’ve ever received:

Be patient. Be positive. Be persistent.

Favorite PLUS product:

Now I can’t live without all of them…but ok, if I have to choose one: the lip. 

Adventure you are dying to take: 

An all-day—not just a couple of hours—but an all-day Orca trip off the coast of Washington—in a very small boat—with marine biologists telling me all about what we see. (With a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch.)

Time your alarm goes off: 

My “cattle dog alarm" goes off at 5 am! But that doesn’t mean I get up then!

Favorite room in your house: 

My sunny living room with my big over-sized chair. No one sits in it but me. (Well, me and the aforementioned cattle dog.)

Truth or dare: 

Don’t ever dare me…I’m crazier than I look.

Inspired by: 

Anyone affected by a life-threatening disease who manages to keep going.

Super-power you’d want for a day

Teleportation! What I’d give...

Favorite sound: 

Waves, hands down.

First three things you do when you wake up:

1. Tell dog he is crazy for waking me up at 5am

2. Check the weather on my phone (just go with it, it’s what I do)

3. Drink my coconut almond milk/vita powder protein shake with a dozen crazy, all-natural supplements. EVERY DAY.

Vice you’ll never give up: 

Non-skinny (fatty) chais! Hey, life is short.

Your hero: 

May be controversial to some, but Lance Armstrong, still. He is THE reason I got out of bed during my first cancer diagnosis. (Well, he and my family.) It was a pretty grim time. One of those cases of “until you go through it, you can’t understand.” But his cancer recovery got me through the rough days.

Cause closest to your heart: 

Any cause dealing with the rescue and betterment of animals. 

Career you sometimes think you should have pursued: 

Marine biologist! I’m actually getting ready to take a marine science and conservation course online through Duke University. I am an ocean girl, for sure.


natural skincare, luxury, lifestyle



Love our classic body hydrate? We’ve kicked it up with the new Body Hydrate / Black, our same Classic formula with extra bio-actives.

featuring Coconut Endosperm / Calendula.

Coconut endosperm is rich in proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth factors. Coconut endosperm is the perfect cell food as it plays a pivotal role in supporting tissue growth.

Calendula is a plant extract used for centuries in skin care. It deeply moisturizes dry and damaged skin and possesses anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can calm sunburns and other mild skin irritations. It promotes fast healing and skin regeneration.



PEGs are found in a variety of skincare products. Their role is to soften the skin as an emollient; to act as an emulsifier, which helps water-based and oil-based ingredients mix properly; and as a vehicle that helps the rest of the ingredients reach deeper into the skin. PEGs are also carcinogenic petroleum products which, in fact, actually disrupt the natural moisture balance of your skin. So, in addition to being bad in and of themselves, the penetration ability of PEGs also allow the other toxic ingredients in your products to reach deeper into your skin. Plus, PEG often come with their own toxic impurities. Want this stuff on and in your body?




Mineral oil, found in many skincare products, is another petroleum derivative that actually coats the skin and keeps it from breathing. The skin’s absorption and excretion functions are also slowed, as is the skin’s natural cellular development. Instead of being good for your skin, it causes premature aging instead. So, why use it? Unfortunately, many baby skincare products contain mineral oil.

Read your labels and look for mineral oil. Toss the bad stuff!  Go clean!

natural skincare, lifestyle

Misleading Mondays: Oxybenzone is found in most sunscreens on the market

The primary function of oxybenzone is to absorb UV light, research has shown that it is also absorbed by the skin and stays in our bodies for an amount of time that is unknown. You will find it in most nail polishes, hair sprays and cosmetics.  It's used as a photostabilizer."According to the EWG, oxybenzone is found in 80% of chemical sunscreens. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected oxybenzone in more than 96% of the US population, with higher concentrations found during the summer months." Chances you have used a sunscreen with this ingredient in you life is very high. But now you know the truth. Please read your label, make it a habit and share the love. #MisleadingMonday 

toxic sunscreen

luxury, lifestyle

Non-Toxic Tuesday: Dulse

Dulse seaweed is chock-full of proteins, minerals, vitamins and lipids that are easily absorbed into the skin. As a result, dulse works to rebalance, nourish, detoxify, purify and oxygenate the skin’s natural texture and tone. Dulse is an excellent source of amino acids, as well as Vitamins A, C, B1, B12, D, E, K & P. It actually forces toxins from stagnant cells.



Everyday Carry: Nic Leggett

We're continuing our theme of exploring what our favorite people use and carry with them on a daily basis - and now we're turning our attention to our co-founder and design director Nic Leggett. He's going on an epic trip to Europe in September and we asked what he and his partner are planning on carrying with them - let's check it out:

1. Harvester Backpack, Kika NY - "This bag is the ultimate traveling companion; so my pockets! Plus, we love the choice of wearing it like a backpack or carrying it like a briefcase."

2. Plus Lip Hydrate / Black - "I don't leave my house without it, so I'll be sure to pack a few pots just in case I give a couple away along the journey."

3. Wallpaper* city guide, Paris - "Such a handy little addition to an itinerary. All of the best spots in Paris, and a perfect way to figure out how to fill an hour or an afternoon. (Also check out the companion app!)"

4. Notebook, Robert Geller for Public-Supply - "I'm a graphic design nerd, so I design our itineraries and print them on label paper to stick in this notebook, along with ticket stubs and receipts from the best meals. So much more fun than an app. Plus, 25% of the proceeds benefit the Joe's Blackbook Foundation, which provides scholarships to design students."

5. Mitsubishi Uni-Pin Pen 01 / 0.28mm - "I'm also a pen freak. These are the only pens I'll use anymore - besides a good ol' five-cent rollerball. Doesn't bleed, and the point stays sharp forever."

6. 3.1 Phillip Lim for Linda Farrow 6 sunglasses - "A bit of a splurge, but you can't go to Paris without a pair of perfect sunglasses."

7. Pierre Hardy cube print passport cover - "Super-helpful, as I lose everything. Besides my giant new passport, it holds folded-up train tickets, metro cards and important bits of paper."

8. Apple EarPods - "I've lost three pairs already, but they're my favorite!"

9. Lepow U-Stone portable battery pack - "Completely essential, as map searches and app downloads drain that phone fast. This one can charge an iPhone 5 seven times!"

10. Equateur 85% dark chocolate bar, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse - "A little bit of heaven, from my favorite chocolatier in Paris. It helps stretch that morning baguette a little further, I've found."


Everyday Carry: Ann Alexander Leggett

We're starting a new blog series about our favorite people and what they like, love, and carry with them. We're starting off with our founder, Ann Alexander Leggett - she carries her Kate Spade bag everywhere. What's in it? Let's find out:

1. "The bag itself: splurged on this Kate Spade Hawthorne Lane Ryan bag as a three-year, cancer-free anniversary gift for myself. Love it!"

2. "My Ray Ban Wayfarers. I got these handed down to me about 5 years ago and I will be so bummed if I sit on them or lose them!" 

3. "“American Ghost" by Hannah Nordhaus.  I write history-based ghost books and I love Santa Fe so this one got me hooked from page one."

4. "Plus Classic Lip Hydrate. Of course it’s in my bag. I have one in just about every room of my house. Can’t. Live. Without."

5. "Zoya 'Livingston' nail color for nail touch ups. My red nails seem to have become my trademark. I use Zoya brand polish… it’s toxin-free!"

6. "I just have a thing about black Flair felt tips. There are about 6 floating around in my bag at all times."

7. "Plus Classic Hand Hydrate. I have the driest skin EVER. My own hand lotion never disappoints."

8. "An Ecojot notebook. Fine, I’ll admit I have a notebook problem. And these rock, especially because when you buy one, they give one to those in need."

9. "If I need to dress up a black t-shirt fast I turn to my trusty Anthropologie Patched Fete scarf."

10. "I always carry this—one of my all-time favorite pics of my kids—because they keep me going day to day."

news + updates

What's new? Everything.

This is such a big day. We're so proud to announce the launch of Plus 2.0. Here's what's new:


Plus / Black

This is the big deal - a whole new line. We've taken the formulas for our best-selling Classic line (which remains the same) and boosted them with carefully selected active ingredients. The packaging is beautiful too - all frosted glass and matte black labels. Available currently for pre-order, all Plus Black line products will ship August 1. They are custom-formulated (like our Classic products) and hand-crafted in small batches to ensure maximum bio-active content.

Skin Deep Ingredient Links

Every listed ingredient is now an active link to the EWG Skin Deep Database - which shows you the Skin Deep rating for every single thing we put into our products. We're here to help you read your labels - and help you understand exactly what's in all of our products. While you're there, use the EWG Skin Deep database to check out some of your other products.

New Labels

Everything has a new look! We wanted to make sure everything is clear, honest and transparent in labeling - just like our products and mission. 

Comprehensive Active Ingredient Database

Now every active is indexed in our Ingredient page - allowing you to explore why we love and use each ingredient. Just click on each and explore away.

Thank you so much for all of your support throughout our infancy as a company. We're getting ready to launch in many more retail outlets (possibly even Europe!) and we're also getting ready for the next Denver Flea in June. Stay tuned - big stuff ahead!


Ann + Nic

ENTREPRENEUR: Nic Leggett, Co-Founder OF Plus / Modern Natural Skin Care


Greatest advice you’ve ever received: Always ask - the worst they can say is "no."

Favorite Plus product: Lip hydrate, hands down.

Adventure you are dying to take: A week (or three) in Marrakech - shopping for rugs, lounging on the roof of a riad drinking mint tea, wandering out to the desert... Sounds like paradise.

When does your alarm off in the morning: Usually 6:00am, but I am not a morning person - so the snooze button is usually used a few times.

Favorite room in your house: Our bedroom. The walls and ceiling are inky black-blue and it's so incredibly cozy. At night we use a Muji essential oil diffuser to scent the whole room - it feels like staying at a very luxe hotel.

Truth or dare: Dare.

Inspired by: Le Corbusier / Tom Ford / Herzog & de Meuron / Rem Koolhaas / Miuccia Prada

Super-power you’d want for a day: Teleportation. How perfect to zip to Paris for a weekend!

Favorite sound: Thunderstorms. I actually have a white noise app that plays the sound of a thunderstorm in the Atlas Mountains while I fall asleep.

First three things you do when you wake up: 1. Kiss our French bulldog, Clementine - her head is usually on the pillow next to mine.2. Email triage. I'm trying to start my day with less stressful things but I'm so busy lately that it seems slightly impossible.3. Oil pull with coconut oil. (it's an Ayurvedic thing - opinions seem to be quite divided about efficacy - but my teeth have never been whiter!)

Vice you’ll never give up: Licorice allsorts, champagne, steak tartare.

Your hero: My grandfather, my mother, my father.

Cause closest to your heart: I have a big heart so I cannot choose just one: LGBTQ issues (equal rights / homeless youth) / Project Angel Heart (food delivery for people with life-threatening diseases) / LIVESTRONG / National Mill Dog Rescue + breed-specific rescue orgs.

Career you sometimes think you should have pursued: Is there such a thing as a cacti horticulturalist? I cannot stop collecting new varieties - and our house is getting a little full.