Beauty and Health

Life Made Simple not only supports simple living, but also well-being.  Active Trans follows our motto “Live simply, Live happily” quite accuratelly.  They not only strive to make transportation simple, promote health and an eco-friendly environment as well.

Mission Statement of the Active Transportation Alliance
The mission of Active Transportation Alliance is to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. We advocate for transportation that encourages and promotes safety, physical activity, health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship and resource conservation.

I found out about this organization last year when the former Director of Communications for Active Trans, Margo O’Hara, was a guest speaker for my Environmental Communications class.  She spoke about the work that Active Trans does and how beneficial it is to the community, especially to Chicago.

Margo spoke about her favorite part of the job, “My job was to communicate and in some ways “sell” our mission through the media. Selling this idea was easy: biking, walking and transit have so many benefits and it is kind of tough to argue against it. It was exciting to be part of the movement right as it reached a tipping point. The rate at which people are moving toward biking, walking and transit is on a sharp incline. That has been exciting to be part of.”

Commuting to work in Chicago can be a big hassle and this may add to the fact that it has become one of the most stressful cities in the United States.  By working on making transportation easier and safer, Active Trans is not only creating a better commute, but contributing to the well-being of those living in the city.

Johnathan Poblano, an intern for the organization, only rode his bike for transportation.  He also believes that riding your bike is much better than driving.  “Since we live in the city, it’s a lot faster and you can get through traffic quicker. I can take my bike and get somewhere quicker than my friend who drives. It’s better for the environment and for you.”

Active Trans holds many events that the community can participate in to support their work and meet others who value a healthy transportation: Bike the Drive, Bike to Work Week, Boulevard Lakefront Tour, and Chicagoland Car-free Day, just to name a few.

“My favorite event was Bike to Work Week. That week in June we get to know the everyday bicycle commuter. It can be surprisingly hard to meet those folks, so it was always fun to meet more people that “get it” and are out there doing the work we advocate for.” Says Margo.

Life Made Simple encourages you to try out a simpler way to travel.  Instead of going through the annoyance and stress of morning traffic, try biking. If your job is too far to bike to, try biking to the nearest train station.  Not only can you beat the traffic, but you can relax, enjoy your surroundings and use it as a means of exercise.

Active Transportation Alliance

9 W. Hubbard St. Ste. 402 Chicago, IL. 60642


Active Trans also offers jobs and internships.  If you would like to get involved or just find out more information, you can visit

Want to find out how you can shop for a cause and help change lives? The Enterprising Kitchen is one way you can help women and their families gain financial independence. The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK) is a  non-profit organization, based in Chicago that started in 1996. The program is aimed to help low-income, poverty stricken women and their families achieve economic independence by providing them with jobs and important life skills training. Women strive towards self sufficiency by producing and selling a line of spa products such as soaps, lotions and body oils.

I first learned about TEK as I was shopping in a popular retail store in my neighborhood. During a special shopping event, TEK were showcasing their products for the holiday season. I had walked by the table several times as I thought, ‘this is just another company trying to make a profit.’ Little did I know, this company was one that actually sought to put profits back into others who needed it! I walked up to the table as the scents of jasmine and rose from the soaps and body creams aroused my senses. I was greeted by Jade Stewart, the Executive Director of TEK who informed me that all the products were hand made by women who have either been living below the poverty line, victims of domestic violence, previously incarcerated or just down on their luck in life. She went on to inform me that all proceeds, are used to benefit job training for the women.

The Enterprising Kitchen was started by Ms. Joan Pikas who originally launched the company from home in her kitchen – hence the name “The Enterprising Kitchen”. Each product is hand made under the TEK’s brand name, Choices from The Enterprising Kitchen. One very interesting thing I also learned was that  each product is hand signed by the woman who made it. Seeing the names on the products made me realize that simply purchasing a bar of soap or a bottle of lotion could change a woman’s life. The gift packages were beautifulIy and organically wrapped with different sets including lotions, soaps, bath salts and oils. I bought two bars of rose scented soaps, and along with the mission statement on the translucent packaging, were the words “Packaged with pride by: Bisrat”. I thought this was such a sentimental notion and added a more personal feel to purchasing these spa products. I really felt I made a purposeful purchase. Jade informed me that TEK also offers custom orders where packaging can be creatively personalized with your company name and logo.

More than 600 women have been interviewed for the TEK program and of these women, 397 has received job training and support. The average wage for the women is $9 per hour. The program works as a stepping stone towards possible permanent work. TEK works with employment agencies with helping women of the program  get on the job training and graduate moving into positions at various skill levels within job fields such as health care, social services, manufacturing and transportation companies.

The Enterprising Kitchen offers several ways to get involved. The Charitable Fundraising Program where specialized gifts can be made for school, religious and/or nonprofit fundraising purposes; hiring graduates at your company after they complete a six-month transitional jobs training program; The Referral Program where a graduate can be referred for possible employment; and Product Development Program where if you have a creative eye for design, you can assist with launching new products.

Since we are in the season of giving, you can give the gift that gives back. Whether its shopping for gifts for loved ones for the holiday’s, a wedding or corporate giving, shopping with The Enterprising Kitchen is a sure way you’ll be helping others as you buy.




If you would like to get involved with The Enterprising Kitchen, please visit their upcoming open house on December 4, 2010 from 10am-5pm 4426 North Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60640 773-506-3880

Or visit them online at:

Are you looking to dedicate some time to regular exercises in your life? Does your work life, family commitments or cold weather make it difficult for you to get to the gym? One doesn’t have to go to the gym or spend a ton of  money on a gym membership to stay fit. You can incorporate simple exercises from the comfort of your own home and still get similar results and health benefits. Below are some simple exercises you can do right at home just by using your own body weight.


Cardiovascular Exercise

The most effective way to lose weight is regular cardiovascular exercise which helps to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels down. A simple and easy cardiovascular activity you already do at home is walking; just pick up the pace.  Aim to  walk around your house at the quickest pace that your body allows for about 30 to 45 minutes at least five days a week.  This brisk walk may be done while you tidy up rooms in your home.


Yes, push-ups!  A basic push-up is easy to do from home.  Doing push-ups strengthens and tones the chest, shoulders and arms.  Place your hands and knees on the floor.  Depending on your strength, push-ups can be done either with your knees on the floor or your toes on the floor.  With your body in a straight line, lower yourself down in one unit toward the floor.  When lowering your body go down only as far as you can while keeping your body straight. Do not drop your hips lower than the rest of your body! The whole body should reach the floor at the same time. When you push back, do not lock your elbows.  Do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.


Squats are great for toning the lower body.  To do this exercise, stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart.  Lower your body as if you were about to sit in a chair, but do not let your buttocks go lower than your knees.  Press your heels into the floor and go up and down with your buttocks reaching far back- do not lock your knees.  Again, we suggest doing this exercise in three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.


Lunges are great for toning the buttocks.  To do this exercise, put your right foot forward while the left foot goes back – both toes pointing forward. As you drop your back knee to the floor only go as low as you can without causing knee pain.  When you bend your knee forward make sure it does not extend past your toes.  To come back from the lunge, push off from the forward facing foot. Do eight to 12 repetitions on both sides.




To complete your exercise, end with basic sit-ups to strengthen the abs. To do a basic sit-up, lie on the floor with both knees bent and feet flat. For posture and not for support, lightly place your fingertips behind your head, do not clasp your fingertips together. As you lift your head and shoulders straight up press your back flat into the floor. Do not pull on your neck as you are lifting your upper body up. This exercise should be felt in your abdominal, not your neck or back.  For better results, do this every other day with eight to 12 repetitions.  If you want to try a variety of abdominal exercises go to Six Pack Now Abs Program.


With these five simple home exercises one can definitely get in a regular workout right from the comfort of their home.  It takes dedication to stay on an exercise regime but once you do it you will feel healthier and happier!  Always check with your doctor before trying any new exercise program. And as a friendly reminder, always stretch before and after your workout! As stretching will help you maintain muscle flexibility and is a great way to prevent injuries!

– Evie Pesheva

Read more: Simple Home Exercises |

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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!

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.

My mother has always been the type of woman to give me home remedies for both illness and beauty. She lived in the Philippines for 20 years before she moved to America. She said that my grandmother never took her to the doctor and used ingredients from the house for any illness or beauty treatments. I want to share some of my moms’ simple beauty remedies with you all. It is Friday after all, so why not take some time to pamper yourself using simple ingredients before a night out on the town?

Skin Beauty

First things first…Drink LOTS of WATER! The best beauty remedy for the skin is also the simplest: Water! I recommend 6-8 glasses a day. When I hydrate myself in this manner, my skin is at its best!

SIMPLE FACIAL SCRUB: Mix raw oatmeal with olive oil. Use this mixture to scrub your face with circular strokes to exfoliate the skin. After rinsing, your skin should feel soft and smooth!

Hair Beauty

SIMPLE HAIR CONDITIONING: Get two fresh sticks of Aloe Vera. After peeling off the outer green skin, rub the gel onyour scalp around your head. Leave it on for 10 minutes and it will condition your hair. Then, shampoo and condition your hair like normal.

These simple remedies have helped me feel and look beautiful. Hopefully, they can do the same for you. Have a great weekend!

Its kind of hard to believe that today is the first day of fall when the temperatures are high. But as we know winter is right around the corner. And we know how harsh cold and windy weather can be on our skin so it is crucial to try and protect it as it protects us!

Did you know that your skin is the biggest detoxification organ? The skin will show symptoms of toxins, clogging and other negative signs that are in the body screaming to get out. You can cleanse and keep your skin protected this winter with detoxification (removing toxins from the body), body scrubs (remove dead skin cells) and other simple techniques with items from the comfort of your home!

Simple Detox:
Lemon Juice (juice from a fresh squeezed lemon)

Because lemons help break down fat molecules because of its acidity and high pH, they are great detoxers and a good way to cleanse your digestive organs.

Simple Body Scrub:
Brown Sugar
Olive oil (or Vitamin E Oil)
Lemon Juice (Only a few squeezed drops)

This sweet body scrub makes for an excellent and inexpensive exfoliative to rub away all those dead skin cells. The brown sugar acts as the exfoliator while the oil and honey moisturizes. The honey also helps kill bacteria. It is also good for your face (Just be careful with using too much lemon juice on your face because of the acidity).

These simple, easy remedies are natural ways to detox your body that can leave you feeling refreshed and revived!

*Disclaimer: The statements made on our website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These remedies are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.