October 2010

With fall in the works, many of us are experiencing a degree of dryness to our skin and might be in the market for a new moisturizing lotion.  I sat down with a good friend of mine, Danielle Meyers, who has been a cosmetic chemist for two years to ask her the basics on moisturizing lotions with my focus on ingredients. Life Made Simple is happy to share with you Danielle’s knowledge on what makes a basic skin lotion and how a consumer might pick the right one for their personal need.

1. What is skin moisturizer made of?

Simply put, a lotion is an emulsion of oil/fatty molecules with water.

2. What are the consumers looking for when purchasing lotion and how do you satisfy their needs?

Consumers are looking for a moisturizing product that provides a great skin feel, easy spread-ability, and of course long lasting moisture retention in the skin.  The extra consumer benefits are varied, depending on age and consumer type, i.e. anti-wrinkle/anti-aging, or acne fighting creams.

When formulating recipes for lotions, we want to provide a desired skin aesthetic while keeping with the overall concept of the lotion, whether it is for sensitive/dry skin, aging skin, or acne prone skin.  The concentration of the oils and actives are what deliver these desired benefits in a given lotion formula.

3. Why are preservatives in lotion? Are they harmful to us?

Preservatives are required in formulations due to the water content and overall in-use habits with the product. The preservative aids in reducing microbiological growth as well as inhibiting oxidation reactions to occur in the lotion, which leads to spoilage, color change, or other unwanted reactions within the formulation. For creams or moisturizers that come in a jar, and that you dip your fingers into daily, there has to be a preservative that can kill the natural flora existing on your hands that can lead or bacterial colony growth in the moisturizer.

Preservatives are regulated for safety at very specific use levels (very low percentages in the formula) such that they should not be harmful in the formula.  If you look on the back of any lotion, the preservative will most likely be listed last, or next to last because the list of ingredients (LOI) is formatted in decreasing order of concentration.

4. What is the difference between ‘organic’ and ‘natural?

‘Organic’ and ‘natural’ are claims that vary company to company.  Currently, the ‘organic certified’ label is more associated with food products, and thereby regulated by the FDA.  For personal care products, the individual raw materials will be defined as natural by the company, based on the source of the product (obtained through synthesis or occurring in nature).  Overall, it is better to be more familiarized with the ingredients in the formula, as opposed to anything that a company claims as containing ‘all natural moisturizers’ or as ‘organic.’

5. Danielle, anything else you would like to add in helping us choose the right moisturizer for the fall?

As a consumer, you need to find what is important to you in your purchase intent.  I would say that all lotions/moisturizers contain the essential ingredients to impart moisture to your skin, the main differences between them are more to do with ‘extras’ in the formula (Vitamin E, Collagen, extracts etc) and whether or not you intend to purchase a lotion with only organic ingredients.  I would just say be more aware about what ingredients are in your products in order to be a more educated consumer.

By: Evie Pesheva

There are sayings that state: “Money can’t buy love,” “Real love has no price tag,” and “Love doesn’t cost a thing,” but how much money do we spend when going on dates with our significant others?  Too many people’s standard dates require money and consist of going to the movies and out to dinner (unless, of course, you won movie tickets or a free dinner).

At Life Made Simple we propose the question; why not spend time doing something cheap and simple the next time you are on a date?  It’s not as dull as it sounds, it can actually be quite exciting. Not only will you save money, but we are encouraging you to use your creativity and have a date that strays from the norm.

“Dates definitely don’t have to cost very much,” says Deandre, 23, who has been on countless dates in his 3-year relationship.  “There was a time I took my girlfriend to the lakefront.  We walked and talked for a while, and the only money I spent was on a drink from a lemonade stand that we passed along the way.”  He explained that many times on cheap dates, by doing simple things, you can concentrate more on one another.  “You can focus more on the person rather than other things such as the service you are receiving or budgeting the money you currently have.”

I decided to get a woman’s perspective on cheaper dates as well.  Jessica, 24, who has been in a relationship for 5-years says that she loves finding new things to do on dates to spice things up.  “It’s getting colder and ice skating can be a great cheap date.  At the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink at Millennium Park, skating is free and you only pay for rentals, so if you bring your own ice skates  you wouldn’t have to pay anything.”  She also says that ice skating can be a great way to “break the ice” (no pun intended) because the humor in falling can lighten the mood.

Here are a few more cheap date ideas:

1.    Take bicycles or roller blades, pack a lunch and choose an easy trail ride or wander through some country roads.  Stop often when you find something interesting to look at or just rest and talk.

2.    Make a trip to the grocery store and pick up some creative pizza ingredients.  Take your groceries home and assemble your masterpiece pizza together.  Choose a CD of music from your youth, light candles and enjoy.

3.    Check with your local parks and recreation centers for the schedule of performances in the parks.  Prepare a picnic supper, enjoy the concert, then go for a quiet stroll after the show.

For more cheap date ideas check out this article from selfgrowth.com.

There is also a book entitled Cheap Dates: Fun, Creative, and Romantic Dates That Won’t Break Your Budget by Steven C. Smith.  This book is a great reference guide for memorable dates, and perfect for rekindling an old flame or igniting a new romance without breaking your pockets.  Smith says: “While many people believe that dating on a budget is a bore, nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, even if you do not have to keep a close watch on finances, there are many fun and affordable dates waiting to be experienced.”

So simple and cheap dates aren’t a bad thing and can actually be very enjoyable.  Always appreciate little moments and experiences with someone over the materialistic things you are given, these are the things that you can never get back.

Artwork needs inspiration, so does life. Since life itself is art, it is so difficult to separate the two. How much do you appreciate the art of your life?

This time, Life Made Simple meets a young artist named Kasia Houlihan. She is still an art student and currently working on her MFA at UIC major in VISUAL ART/PHOTOGRAGHY. However, some of her work is published, such as her video named “An Hour and A Day” (2009). Her recent solo exhibition “Kasia Houlihan: July” was in Reception Gallery, Chicago (2010). She is both talented and hardworking that is why she has the potential to become so successful. Most of her works are on her personal website, which is http://cargocollective.com/kasiahoulihan. If you like her work, go there and support.

Kasia Houlihan(Installation at Reception Gallery Project Space, Chicago, IL, July 2010)

Well let’s see together the big bang of ART and LIFE!

1. When did you become interested in ARTS and why? Any special reason?

I’ ve been drawing since I can remember. I would doodle any and everywhere—napkins,
diner place mats, little notebooks. I would leave scraps of paper lying all around the
house. I took painting and drawing classes in the back of a framing shop in middle
school. But it wasn’ t really until high school, when I attended a summer program at
the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that I began to realize how much I truly loved
making art. After eight hours of class each day, surrounded by people who were so
passionate about making work, all I wanted was more.

2. What encouraged you to choose VISUAL ART/PHOTOGRAPHY as your
graduate education?

After going to a liberal arts school for undergrad (I attended the University of Chicago)
and receiving a bachelor’ s in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, I wanted to
pursue an MFA degree so that I could focus on learning to express my ideas visually. To
have a community of ambitious peers and faculty is invaluable as well.

Kasia Houlihan   That time when series, 2008-09

3. What is always the source of your inspiration?

People with a passion, any passion, are so inspiring to me. Seeing that spark in their eyes
when they talk about what they love always gets me excited about making work.

4. You have a very nice personal website, from which I know your work/s cover
many fields of art performance, including PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO,
DRAWINGS, AUDIO, POLAROIDS. Which one do you think you are really good

I would say that I’ m most confident in my photo and video work at this point, simply
since I’ ve been focusing on them for the past three or so years. Photography will always
be magical for me—the medium that draws with light. But I just recently completed a
drawing project on paper that reminded me just how much I love to draw for hours on
end, and I even showed an installation piece at my midterm critique, so who knows what
I’ ll be making in a couple of weeks!

Kasia Houlihan   202 Monitor series, 2009-2010

5. You bring up a point in your statement that impressed me a lot, which is “Hours
dissolving into shadows, seconds into flashes, the images spy through doorways
and stare out windows in an effort to slow down”. In my observation, your work is
mainly on that topic. Could you say more about your thoughts on it?

I love that photography lets you stare, that it slows down the world that’ s rushing by so
that you can get a better—or different—look. Most of my work is pretty quiet, giving
people the time and space to look and listen.

6. How do you value your own work?

I would hope that viewers of my work feel something—anything—when they look at or
hear it. I would consider a piece successful if it turns into an experience, one that gets
people aware of their own bodies.

Kasia Houlihan   Stills from An hour and a day, 2008-09

7. How do you think about ARTWORK and LIFE INSPIRATION?

It’ s a cliché, but I make art because I have to. The challenge, the uncertainty, the energy
and effort that are all wrapped up in making work keeps me learning and re-learning, a
process I hope will never end.

8. Is there anything else you are working on that you’d like to mention here?

Lately, I’ ve been taking pictures of the moon. I love the fact that the moon doesn’ t emit
light that it only reflects it from another source. The moon’ s gravitational pull on the
earth is also particularly interesting to me, gravity being a “non-contact force”, that has an
effect on another body without physically touching it.


— Chenchen

We know that food affects how we feel, and eating the right foods can help us stay healthy. But did you know that certain foods can help fight off diseases? Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Life Made Simple will take a look at how nutrition and developing a healthy lifestyle, can help prevent and fight (once diagnosed) breast cancer.

Nearly 1 in 4 cancers diagnosed in U.S. women is breast cancer. Because most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have increased risk factors for the disease, there is plenty that can be done to improve chances of beating the odds.


Diet can be an important health strategy to fight off breast cancer.   Consuming a mostly fruit and plant based diet can contribute to a longer and healthier life. Intake of soy, also has been found to help reduce the risk of the disease’s recurrence specifically in Chinese women. According to a new study by Dr. Qingyuan Zhang of the Cancer Hospital of Harbin Medical University in Harbin China, soy intake in postmenopausal women, had a reduced risk of cancer recurrence. Women were given more than 42.3 milligrams of soy isoflavones a day. Zhang states that isoflavones are a class of phytochemicals – compounds found only in plants, and are a type of plant hormone that resembles human estrogen. By mimicking human estrogen at certain sites in the body, isoflavones provide many health benefits that help avoid disease.
(For premenopausal women, soy had no apparent effect on the risk of subsequent breast cancer).

Other Cancer Fighting Foods include:

Fiber Rich Foods:
A high – fiber and low fiber diet lessens the likelihood that cancer cells will multiply or spread by reducing the amount of estrogen circulating in the blood. High fiber foods also help keep your colon healthy and promote regularity.

Oatmeal (not instant)
Apples (with skin)
Figs (dried)

Immunity Boosting Foods:
These foods are rich in beta carotene that help boost your immune system.

Sweet Potatoes/Yams
Bell Peppers (Orange, yellow)

Vitamin C:
Fruits high in this vitamin such as grapefruits and oranges contain monoterpenes believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body.

Raw bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)
Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit)

Vitamin E:
Vitamin E helps regulate blood sugar

Brazil nuts
Brown Rice

Zinc is also an immunity booster and helps with the healing of wounds.

Cereals (whole grain)
Wheat Germ
In addition to fighting breast cancer with foods, there are other preventive steps that can be taken towards living a healthier lifestyle:

Awareness: Early detection of breast cancer is the best way to long term survival. Through regular mammograms and/or performing self-exams and getting regular screenings any abnormalities can be detected sooner, than later. The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 20 and 39 get mammograms at least every three years and women over 40 every year.

Exercise: Because obesity has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer (particularly after menopause), exercising helps maintain a healthy weight and can cut the risk of breast cancer. A recent study conducted by the CDC, found that women who gained 55 pounds or more after age 18 had almost a 50 percent greater risk of breast cancer compared with those who maintained their weight. The study suggests that regular physical activity, regardless of intensity may reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Diet: It is true that food affects how we feel. Using food as medicine can be a health strategy in preventing or fighting off the disease. A report published by FoodConsumer.org stated that a vegetable – rich diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer by almost 50 percent.

Currently there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there are preventive measures one can take. Reducing risk factors include getting regular mammograms, avoiding weight gain, engaging in physical activity, not smoking and being aware of medical guidelines for your age group, ethnicity, and family history. Through prevention, early detection, and quality of life, breast cancer can be prevented and survived.


I am so glad that I was involved in the 10-10-10 Chicago Marathon, not as a runner, but as a Documenter.  I am still excited when I think about it even today. I have to say that the 10-10-10 Chicago Marathon is a huge successful event. The idea  behind it is really simple – Let’s run and have a healthy life!

When the participants are running, they show great spirit towards life. I admire these runners for their courage and strong will. As actions speak louder than words, the runners told me that “life lies in the movement,”  and through their strong steps I witnessed this. I was proud to see that at our Chicago marathon we had runners from all over the world. They were carrying their own sign during the whole marathon to represent their hometowns. I was quite impressed by an old gentleman who held a small Eiffel Tower the whole run.

Flags of both the state of Illinois and The United States were flying down the entire street. If you looked out of your window and saw hundreds of thousands of people running by, would you feel inspired? In fact, some of the runners are first time participants in the Marathon and I’m sure that they one day saw people running in a marathon and got inspired to join one themselves. Mr. Jeff  Drozen, who finished his run in about four hours said, “I am very proud of myself. I have been training for six months or so. I feel a real accomplishment that I finished; now I never have to do another marathon again. And for other runners, I recommend you do at least one marathon in your life.”

However, some runners are quite experienced. Mr. William Clinton, who is from England, just finished his fourth marathon here in Chicago. He has participated in three marathons held in London, New York and Berlin. His goal this time around in 10-10-10 was to finish in 3:15:59 minutes in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He was excited to tell me that he finished in 3:15:29, but he said he still needed to push himself. Referring to the Boston Marathon next year, Mr. William smiled and said that “It will be my fifth marathon and then I’ll retire!”

Not only did the runners’ spirits encourage me, but their support and volunteer groups showed me their power and love. A volunteer physician told me that his duty was basically to take care of the runners who got hurt. Working at the aid station, he said is fun and inspiring. He said he is happy to do his best to help the runners. A 65-year old man, James Cramer, stated that it was his third time volunteering for the marathon. He said that he runs regularly and knows  how much runners needed volunteers; this is his way to contribute to a great cause. Volunteers deserve our respect and applause because working at marathons is not easy. LMS gives a special thanks to all the volunteers at the 10-10-10 Chicago Marathon!  You really did a great job and helped a lot!

I have to say, marathons are challenging games and for all marathon runners having family there to support is esscentaial. You would see the supporting members everywhere runners reached. They held big posters with inspirational words , yelling “Go Mom Go!” or “You can make it!” An older gentleman who was supporting his niece named Jen stood in the sun for hours. He told me that although his niece had run by, he would still be here for all “Jens” and said good luck to all the runners.

With all the people present at the 10-10-10 marathon I can say that from all the people I spoke to I have many more stories to tell.  I can’t write all these stories down but I am happy to say that I recorded a great amount of people’s stories with my camera.  I’m happy to once again share my vision of the 10-10-10 Chicago Marathon here at LMS with you.

Now I would like to leave you with this final word; Life is simple; Life is beautiful; let’s open our eyes to see, to feel, to find the simple pleasures of life.


Image from: Shelborne.com

Many days we are working so hard and all we crave is some time to ourselves to relax.  Relaxing is something that you do, it doesn’t just happen.    Many of those times, we don’t have the money or time to spend  at the spa.  Why not create a spa in your own home?  Here are some steps to creating a simple spa day.

1.       Body. Fill a tub with hot water.  Add bubble bath or aromatherapy bath salts – those with a lavender scent are said to help with stress relief.  Slip down into your relaxing warm water and soak until you feel relaxed.

2.       Face. Start with facial steaming.  Heat up water in a large bowl in the microwave.  Drape a towel over your head and let your skin absorb the steam for five minutes.  This will open up your pores and allow for deep cleansing by steaming out dirt, as well as hydrating your skin.

Next, create a facial mask.  Mix bananas with freshly squeezed orange juice and a drizzle of olive oil.  Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse off.  Make sure to use facial moisturizer after the treatment.

3.       Hair. Try a leave in deep conditioner.  After shampooing in the shower, put conditioner in your hair and comb through so that your hair is completely covered.  Put all of your hair into a plastic shower cap.  Put a damp towel in the microwave for around two minutes, so that it is warm.  Place the damp towel over the plastic wrap and sit for 20 minutes.  Wash and style your hair.

You now have the directions to create your very own full body spa day at home.  Relax and Enjoy!

“ I see a generation comprised of all ages, inclusive of men and women, awakening to the extraordinary qualities hidden within. The power to accomplish remarkable feats and live an exceptional life is not defined by an individual’s family, education, or occupation; it’s a disposition of the heart.  Unless it’s suppressed, there is an innate desire to rise above the norm. I encourage you to step into the unknown, embrace the divine  empowerment, and live your  extraordinary life.”
John Bevere Author of Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant to Live



Image from: thefortuneinstitute.com



10/13/10. This is the date that 33 miners were rescued from a mine in Chile, South America. This also has to be one of the greatest news stories ever reported. After being trapped for 69 days, the whole world watched as the miners were successfully rescued – one by one. With so much of the daily news inundated with reports of violence, tragedies and gossip, it was refreshing, and beautiful to witness this amazing rescue, where all miners made it out alive. This story showcases something marvelous about the human spirit – view these pictures and see if they touch yours…

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(Image credits: AP Photo and Reuters)

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I have been the city of Chicago for nearly two months now. As an exchange student, I still feel fresh at UIC and feel that UIC could give me different surprises every day. I really enjoy my life studying here at UIC. The environment also makes me feel good. When fall comes to Chicago, the scenery at the  University changes. I was surprised one day coming to the campus to see the scenery. Leaves turn red or yellow, but some still stay green. When wind comes, leaves fall down like raining leaves. What a nice day! Looking at students walking by, sitting on the grass, reading in the sunshine, this is what I want for college life. I realize that Life IS Made Simple and beautiful just walking on the campus! I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve taken. I hope you enjoy walking on the campus and happily starting a new day.


Living simply has a lot to do with eliminating the unnecessary things in our lives, especially those that aren’t so good for us.  Although many of us enjoy eating meat, a lot of the poultry and livestock we consume, aren’t necessarily what we think they are.

When I visited the Philippines, I noticed that the chickens over there could FLY.  These are not the chickens that so many of us are used to consuming in the United States. Here, many companies and producers fatten chickens with hormones solely for human consumption; therefore, our chickens don’t fly because they are beyond unhealthy.

Knowing this information, I was curious to know how difficult it would be eliminating this food from my life.  I have always had the conception that not eating meat was complicated and only possible if you have  time for it.  I decided to interview someone who adopts the vegetarian lifestyle. Meet Nikki Rivers.  Nikki has been a vegetarian since she was in eighth grade, she is now 24. She explains how being a vegetarian is beneficial, and really not as hard as everyone may think.  Take a read…

When did you become a vegetarian?  Why?
I became a vegetarian in 8th grade because my friend kept bombarding me with PETA pictures.  I’ve always been an animal lover and those pictures sent me over the edge.

What are some changes you’ve noticed in your body being a vegetarian?
In the beginning, I didn’t eat very healthy at all – I ate a lot of cereal and desserts to fill up the void left by not eating meat.  However, once I began investigating in healthier alternatives, I noticed that I had more energy and I didn’t feel as “heavy” after I ate a meal.

What is the best thing about being a vegetarian?
For me, the best thing about being a vegetarian is that I know I am contributing to improving animal welfare, if only in a very small way.

How would you explain a vegetarian diet?  Is it always so hard to find food when you’re busy?
My·diet depends on my schedule.  When I have free time, I can play around with food items like quinoa and tempeh and make fairly elaborate meals that require as much time as preparing meals with meat.  However, when I’m busy, my diet is much simpler – soup, a boca burger, or salad.

A lot of people have the perception that a vegetarian lifestyle is complicated and hard to keep up, what is your take on that?
In order to be a vegetarian, you have to be committed to the reason you became a vegetarian.  I know a lot of people who have given up after a week or a month because it was “too hard.”  But, you have to be patient.  It’s not bad at all once you get used to it.

What is a simple vegetarian dinner you can share with us?

The easiest meal in the world is vegetables and rice.  Just cook some rice, unthaw some frozen veggies, add some seasoning, mix everything together and you have yourself a meal.

Would you recommend others to try vegetarianism?
I think that Americans eat way too much meat – to their own detriment and to the detriment of animals.  I would highly recommend everyone try being a vegetarian, if only to know that they can survive without huge portions of meat at every meal.  It doesn’t have to be permanent, but I think you can learn a lot about yourself and your ability to maintain self-control.  However, everyone has different reasons for becoming a vegetarian and in order to remain a vegetarian, you really have to be committed.

Anything to add?
When I decided to become a vegetarian, I still loved meat.  I still dream about the times that I used to have fried chicken and ribs.  However, I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years now and, despite those urges, I’m happy with my decision.  I feel healthier – especially after hearing about all the hormones and antibiotics pumped into animals.  And, I feel good knowing that I’m not contributing to the horrible treatment of animals that occurs in factory farms.

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