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.







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.  

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: 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