Favorite Books of 2014…what are yours?




I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite books of the past year. It’s so hard to narrow them down because I have read a ton and I have enjoyed so many.

I had to look at my Goodreads list to find the highest rated then think back to what I enjoyed about each one.

In no particular order, here are my top picks. Some came out this year, some of them came out a while ago but I loved each one. 

I thank the authors for creating such amazing books that offered me some escape from my day to day world.

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning: This saga of a poor woman who rose to great wealth  will keep you captivated from beginning to end. I don’t want to give much away but think immigrant plus medicine plus reproductive rights.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand: What can I say? The story of Louis Zamperini is brilliantly researched and this man is a true hero. I am looking forward to the movie.

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes: At this point, Jojo Moyes can do no wrong. Her books are fun page turners and I loved this story of single mom Jess struggling to get her daughter to a competition that will win her daughter a scholarship.

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon: Another wonderful biography that hooked me from the beginning. I didn’t know much about Huguette Clark but now I am intrigued with her story. An heiress who spent her time in a sprawling mansion with only servants for company and later in a hospital for no apparent health reason, her family later battled for her fortune which she left the bulk of to her nurse.

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy: A true mystery, a page turner that I couldn’t put down! Picasso is only twelve when  her father is murdered and her mother is the primary suspect until two other women come forward, each claiming to also be married to the man…as the book unfolded, I couldn’t read it fast enough! I highly recommend this tightly written story!

North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person: This was a great memoir, told without bitterness or malice towards what can only be called a tough upbringing in the wilderness. Cea had an unbelievable childhood, growing up with a free spirited teen mom and grandparents who longed to escape civilization. A  must read!

Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease–What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito: When you are suffering through something its nice to know you aren’t alone and in this book, Jennifer Esposito details her battle with celiac disease.  Misdiagnosed for years and suffering in pain, it wasn’t until Jennifer was an adult that she finally received the correct diagnosis of having celiac, a disease where gluten cannot be digested and causes the body harm. Not only was this book illuminating about the disease but I found Jennifer’s journey very inspiring.

The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms: I really wanted a light, fun story that made me laugh and that’s exactly what this book delivered. I loved the plot, told from alternating points of view of two women with the same name who each think they won a dream house in Maine. I liked this book so much that I wrote the author a note telling her how much I enjoyed her novel.

I also really enjoyed:

All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones

Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

Belle Cora by Phillip Margulies

Throwback Thursday: Best Oils for Common Skin Concerns


 Stop! I hope you aren’t spending money on toxic products that won’t help or cure your skin troubles.  All that you need, nature can provide.  I am really into essential oils. These wonderful oils have so many healing properties. You can mix them together to suit your skin’s needs.

Below I have listed common skin care concerns and oils to help. I often order oils from VitaCost.com, iherb.com or Mountain Rose Herbs. These are reputable places that sell quality oils.

With most oils,  you need the addition of what’s called a carrier oil,   used to dilute a more potent essential oil. I love using Jojoba oil, I have a bottle from Desert Essence that works very well. I’ll link to Mountain Rose here, where they do an excellent job of explaining various qualities of oils.

Here’s my pick for top oils that cure common skin concerns including acne, wrinkles, balancing moisture, and eczema.  And don’t forget that some of these can be used to soften dry hair.


Olive oil

Anti-inflammatory and suitable for troubled and acne prone skin. Contains anti-microbial properties, full of antioxidants. Also very good for dry, frizzy hair.

Coconut Oil

Helps soften wrinkles, easily absorbed. Can be used all over to moisturize face and body. Helps with acne, dandruff, provides natural sun protection.

Geranium Oil

Is antibacterial, can tighten up  and firm saggy skin. Can be used to help treat acne, reduces bruising. Promotes cell health, rejuvenates skin.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Helps  balance moisture in skin, contains vitamins A and E. Its light consistency allows it to be readily absorbed by the skin. It can be used on dry scalp to add moisture.

Carrot Seed Oil 

Carrot seed oil is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, B, C and D. Aids in toning the skin, removes toxins from skin, good for dry skin. This oil can help with eczema and be used to moisturize hair. 


The case against dry shampoo


For the past couple of years now I’ve been trying hard to get my hair in better shape meaning less washing, less heat styling and more dry shampoo. I love a good dry shampoo to sop up any oil, refresh my hair and give it body. A dry shampoo will do all of these things however, I just stumbled upon the news that dry shampoo may not be as life-changing as I initially thought. 

Say it ain’t so!

The sad truth for a dry shampoo lover like myself is that the ingredients in dry shampoo will actually smother the hair follicle.  Josh Rosebrook explained this me recently and I had to change my point of view.

A buildup of product can potentially coat the scalp and create an environment where the scalp/follicle cannot breathe which might result in hair not being able to grow.

Oftentimes, dry shampoo will sit on the scalp for days at a time, extending that blow-out, yes, but also depositing chemicals onto your head via pores.  Common chemicals in dry shampoo include butune, propane, rice starch which may contain pesticide residue, and fragrance- just to name a few ingredients, often there are more and of those  many are chemicals with a level of toxicity I’d rather avoid.

Not to mention that dry shampoo doesn’t really clean the hair, it only masks dirt, oil and toxins which really doesn’t do hair any favors.

Josh tells me,  “Even if you are using a natural, non toxic dry shampoo, you aren’t helping your hair follicle stay strong and healthy, it may be less toxic which is better but it’s still not “healthy” for the follicle and hair shaft, because it masks the dirt and oil and the more we remove the dirt and excess oil the stronger the follicle.”

In comparison,  washing hair every day with a pure, super gentle shampoo and using an equally clean conditioner actually  helps hair thrive, stimulates the scalp, and leaves the follicle free to flourish.

I guess instead of using dry shampoo I will be wearing a hat! And when I do wash my hair (I do love a clean scalp and soft locks) I will use my Josh Rosebrook Deep Nourishing Shampoo and Deep Nourishing Conditioner -very pure and gentle. These products have been known to repair hair and help with growth which to me, is a win-win.




On my radar: Gorgeous Nail Polishes


Nail polishes are the one beauty product that can’t really be made one hundred percent natural. I was curious about the ingredients a while back and did a little investigation which you can read here. 

The best we can do is to find 5-free and 3-free polishes. Keep reading to check out my latest favorites!

Gabriel Cosmetics offers really great nail polishes among other natural cosmetics. I like the Brooke Anderson collection for the holidays which includes dramatic deep shades as well as glittery colors which can be mixed and matched.

Gabriel’s polishes are high quality and are “5 Free”.
Free of: Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP, Camphor & Phthalate. I like how easily these go on the nails with great color and smooth consistency, they are also shiny!

NAILS, INC. is another brand that caught my eye! This brand has teamed with such big names as Victoria Beckham and Alexa Chung to create gorgeous colors. This brand offers high quality, fast drying polishes that leave you looking like you just had a manicure.

The Gel Effect formula is what I love. This collection is the at-home answer to salon gel nails without the need for a UV light to dry!  There’s also a collection called Nail Kale which contains Kale extract.

Check out more NAILS, INC here!

I am also impressed with the bright, vibrant colors and great texture of Sheswai!  From the cool harvested wood top to the collection of colors available,  I am loving this brand which is 3-free. You only need one coat of this fabulous color to get a deep, rich, bright result!

Sheswai offers a bunch of beautiful shades, check it out! My favorites are the bright colors, so opaque and bold.



Are You Going to Eat That? Green and Clean Products



I am super excited to bring this brand to you- called Are You Going to Eat That?- these  green and clean products are a treat to the skin and  made with love! Read about the brand here.

I’ve been using these products for a few weeks now and have nothing but positive comments. I love the treat of slathering on the whipped shea butter or nut oil after a long day, the Cut Up spray helped me when a mysterious rash surfaced.

These products are also very affordable! Go ahead and treat yourself right now. Let’s take a closer look:

I’m totally into the Whipped Shea Butter- I love the buttery, thick texture and how velvet smooth skin feels after this is applied.  Pure ingredients and natural scents make this a treat. You choose which scent you’d like, each has benefits- for example:

Orange is noted for relieving stress, countering depressing, reducing inflammation, and increasing blood flow to the skin. Whipped Shea Butter with Peppermint can give relief to sore joint, aching feet, hands, and on top of that, it moisturizes your skin. 

 Ylang Ylang helps with relaxing after a long day. After a hot bath, massaging your body with this butter is calming and relaxing. It may also aid in reducing inflammed joints while Lavender helps relieve stress.

Shea Nut Oil with Ylang Ylang, The Shea oil contains vitamins A, E, and essential fatty acid triglycerides, its thick in consistency but I love how nourishing and hydrating this product is on my skin. I use it when I get out of a hot shower and it melts right into the skin leaving  behind the delicate scent of ylang ylang.

bonus! Shea Nut Oil helps to heal damaged skin, wounds, and rashes. Choose your scent or if you are  bothered by scent, there’s an unscented option.

I had a rash from something ( I dont know what) what was completely frustrating me. I started using the Cut Up spray hoping it would soothe my skin and give me some relief- it did! Not only does it work on razor burn, but works other skin irritations! Here’s the official 411:

“Cut Up is an effective alternative to alcohol-based products that barbers and others use following haircuts or shaving body parts. This product cleans the shaved area, adds healing properties without the burning sensation from alcohol. No dyes, no ambiguous terms like “fragrance.” Ingredients: Reverse-Osomosis water, Witch Hazel, Essential oil.”

I encourage you to check out this brand and stock up on some products. The moisturizing butters and oils are what you need this time of year and everything is so pure and lovely.



By Hello Dollface