I’ve been having quite a bit of health issues lately and am constantly reading and researching my ailments. This book is amazing, I cannot speak high enough of it. Packed with loads of nutritional information in regard to the stomach and digestion, I’ve learned so much from reading Digestive Health with REAL Food by Aglaee Jacob MS RD

Do you have any of these?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) , Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Fructose malabsorption,
FODMAP intolerance, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Gallbladder issues, Abnormal intestinal permeability (leaky gut),
Gut dysbiosis (gut flora imbalance), Celiac disease, Non-celiac gluten, sensitivity.

This book break downs the digestive diseases (and so many other diseases which begin in the gut)  and their causes, foods that make the stomach better and/or worse. In order to get better, you have to fix the root cause of the problem, not just take medication and forget about it. Digestive Health With REAL Food takes you step-by-step in decreasing troublesome foods and walks you through an elimination diet, complete with recipes.

I didn’t think I was ever going to find a book that discussed both FODMAPS, Acid Reflux and Gluten Intolerance but this one does- and more. Recipes, charts and ideas help guide you through and leaves you armed with information. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!



I raved about The Rosie Project last year, I recommended this one to everyone I knew. And now author Graeme Simsion is back with his loveable characters, Rosie and Don in The Rosie Effect.

The socially awkward and extremely intelligent geneticist Don Tillman is married to the love of his life Rosie, and living in New York City where he works at Columbia University and Rosie is continuing her education.  Don is adapting to marriage and has learned to read Rosie’s “cues” and understand the ebb and flow of married life.  Don plans everything out with great care but all of his planning is thrown to the wind when he learns that Rosie is pregnant, a huge surprise to Don.

Don sets out to do what any good researcher would do- research all angles of impending fatherhood. Some of his antics get  him in trouble with the law, his logic over social manners get him in trouble with other people and most of all, Rosie gets the wrong message about Don’s feelings about becoming a father.

I enjoyed this witty book immensely! Don is a heartwarming character, someone so terribly misunderstood due to his socially inept way of dealing with others that you can’t help but feel sorry for, yet amused by, how he understands the confusing, complicated world around him.

If you read The Rosie Project, you will want to follow up with The Rosie Effect. And if you haven’t read The Rosie Project…you must! The follow up with this one, you are guaranteed an awesome reading experience!



I just finished Last Night At The Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert. All I needed to know was this: 1960’s, Chicago jazz, singer, mother and daughter. I didn’t need to read any further, I was already totally into it!

Naomi is the gorgeous, glamorous singer at the Blue Angel, living her whole life as if on stage with all attention on her. She’s constantly hosting a variety of love interests in the hotel she calls home despite the fact young Sophia is witnessing this behavior.

Sophia is her wise-beyond-her -years ten year old daughter who never comes first in her mother’s life, but that’s okay because living in the glow of Naomi is enough.  Family friend Jim has known Naomi for years and wants more than just a life of cleaning up Naomi’s messes. He is more of a parent to young Sophia than Naomi could ever be.

This is the story of Naomi and her daughter, told in each of their voices. As the story unfolds, we understand how Naomi grew to be the woman she is now. Despite her drinking and lack of attentiveness towards her daughter, she still manages to be a sympathetic character. There’s a whole host of colorful characters in this debut novel which keeps everything interesting. The author has a great writing style, it pulls you in and paints a vibrant picture of the 1960’s complete with the racial tension and the  Cold War.

I definitely look forward to Rebecca Rotert’s next novel!






I’d been intrigued with this brand, The Gnarly Whale, for quite a while. I found it one day while looking for vegan and cruelty free products and then I saw the brand featured in a magazine. I knew this was a brand I wanted to learn more about.

Here’s the scoop with the GW:

Despite living in the frozen tundra, avid beach bums Ashley and Nathan Griffith ensured that their love for the ocean always accented their most important life events. After being engaged on the Santa Monica Pier and tying the knot on the sands of Jamaica, it was no surprise that their drive for career freedom would collide with their yearning for more sand between their toes. Combine this with their hope for a greener Earth and The Gnarly Whale was born. Their goal is to provide minimal ingredient, vegan bath and beauty luxuries to men and women around the world while leaving the Earth a better place than when they found it.

This brand offers many body and hair care products in several scents- you get to choose your own scent or none at all which is a neat idea.

Here’s what I tested:

Beach Waves

A few spritzes of this hair product and my hair looked like I’d spent a little time on the beach- in a good way. Spray on wet or dry hair for waves galore. If you have curly hair, this spray will make it super curly. If you have wavy hair, it will intensify the waves. Straight hair will have a nice beachy, wind-blown look.

ingredients: water, mediterranean sea salt, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, and essential oils and/or fragrance.

Body Spray

I’m a big fan of sandalwood and loved the scent of this. I used it on my body as well as a room spray. This unisex spray is ideal for after the shower. Nice alternative to perfume!

ingredients: distilled water, surfactant (a wetting agent for easier spreading), polysorbate 20 (emulsifying agent), dipropylene glycol (non-toxic solvent to dissolve fragrance), glycerin (natural humectant that draws in moisture), dmdm hydantoin (preservative), butylated hydroxy toluene (antioxidant that assists in dissolving the fragrance), and essential oils and/or fragrances.

Sudsy Shampoo

Ahhhhh I do love a nicely scented shampoo that smells good every time I turn my head! I tried the rose scent of this one, it smells feminine and floral but not too overpowering. My hair felt soft after I used and you only need a small amount to get a decent lather going.

ingredients: distilled water, triethanolamine lauryl sulfate (for lather), cocamide dea (coconut derived foaming & emulsifying agent), essential oils and/or fragrance, and grapefruit seed extract.

Coconut Milk Soap

I tried the scent of honeysuckle and loved it the smell of it! I’m such a sucker for honeysuckle fragrance. This soap offers a nice lather, is gentle and leaves behind just a whisper of a scent.

ingredients: coconut oil, *propylene glycol, palm oil, glycerin, coconut fruit juice, water, sorbitol, fragrance, iron oxide


I really liked The Gnarly Whale and appreciated the fact the products are vegan and cruelty free. My one wish is that this brand is able to find alternative ingredients to some of the chemicals they use!




*Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin conditioning agent. It has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis as well as contact urticaria in humans; these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2%. Find more out by going here.






I try not to snack too much but sometimes I get hungry in between meals, especially when I’m out running around. I have such a limited diet these days thanks to some health issues so I have to only eat nutritious foods that don’t have a lot of junk in them- not that I’ve ever been one to eat a candy bar or chips. But I do keep a bag of almonds with me or a Balance Bare Bar. And always some water!

I recently started eating the Balance Bare bars and I also give them to my kids to snack on.  Packing lunches is my least favorite thing about having kids back in school! They aren’t big on eating sandwiches and need something on the go and quick to eat. I don’t mind giving them a bar like these because they are gluten free, non GMO, and soy free.

Parenting and mom blogger Jenny Ingram  from Jenny on the Spot has some great back to school tips that I wanted to share:

  • Keep Smart Snacks within Reach. Back to school isn’t only exhausting for kids. Moms and dads get worn down too so smart snacking is important. Pack nutritious snacks to have in your purse for when you’re running errands or going from school to practice. Itzy Ritzy’s reusable snack bags are perfect for keeping your on-the-go snacks organized and always handy. Fill them with grapes, almonds, carrot sticks and Balance bare® bars for a nutritious snack sure to satisfy both busy moms and kids until dinner!


  • Pack bags within your bag. If you’re like me, you have a huge bag. It’s great for storing lots of things, but it can be a wasteland and hard to find anything if you’re not organized. I keep a mini bag that holds my chapstick, hand sanitizer and other items I regularly reach for in a brightly colored small bag that stands out. An Itzy Ritzy snack bag can even double as an organizational bag that’s stylish too!


  • Miniature First Aid Kits. It’s helpful to have some first-aid basics in your bag for everyday incidents that are bound to happen. My homemade first aid kit includes Band-Aid® brand bandages, Neosporin®, Kleenex® and wipes. Trust me on the wipes – they’re much more effective than napkins at cleaning up whatever messes my kids have.

I also keep these healthy snacks on hand for not only the kids, but me too!

1. Beef or turkey jerky (low sodium, no nitrates)

2. Mixed nuts/trail mix

3.  black bean quesadillas, a super simple snack that my teenagers can make themselves.

4. hummus and crackers, I love chia crackers which I just picked up from Costco.

5. Greek yogurt and berries, I steer clear of dairy but my kids can eat it. I like the thicker, more nutritious Greek yogurt rather than sugar filled yogurts.

6. chicken soup, I usually have some broth cooking (Bone broth is excellent for digestive health) and I keep rice noodles on hand. Add some noodles to the broth and you have an instant but more nutritious version of Top Ramen.

7. eggs, scrambled or hard boiled.

I always have lots of fruit and vegetables although neither of my children have ever come home craving some leafy greens! I try to  bake  and keep the sugar down. I use a lot of almond flour and have found great recipes from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain and Elana Amsterdam’s almond flour cookbook!

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By Caroline Leavitt
PureCeuticals is one of my favorite companies. They make beautifiers that are natural, organic and are made in a cruelty-environment. Plus, they really and truly work! I tried their Exotic Natural Cherry Glycolic peel. I have really sensitive skin so I don’t usually use peels, plus, peels often sting my skin, which I don’t love. Still, the promises of a peel are too good to ignore. Peels can unclog your pores, eliminate fine lines, smooth texture, and brighten and even up your skin tone, and who doesn’t want that?

The PureCeuticals Peel felt good, and it actually enhanced the look and feel of my skin.  I was so happy with the results, I may have to change my mind permanently about peels!

Full list of ingredients:

Aqua (Purified Water), Vegetable Glycerine, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate (Sugar), Xanthan Gum (Cornstarch), Glycolic Acid (Sugar Cane), Lactic Acid (Plant), Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Salicylic Acid (Plant), Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate (Vegetable), Yeast Extract (Phyto-Hyaluronate) (Plant), Yeast Extract (Phyto-Collagen) (Plant), Algae Extract (Plant), Chondrus Crispus (Irish Moss) Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Vitis Vinefera (Grape Skin) Seed Extract, Vitis Vinefera (Grape Skin) Seed Powder, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Extract, Prunus Avium (Cherry) Fruit Pulp, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Fruit Pulp, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Organic Rosa Rubiginosa (Rosa Mosqueta) Seed Oil, Papain (Fruit), Bromelainc (Fruit), Mineral Mica, Lexgard Natural (100% vegetable derived preservative system)

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As you probably know now, I am a big fan of Acure Organics. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve tried and recently, I tested the new Argan Oil Bar Soaps and they are the perfect alternatives to a liquid soap or shower gel.

Like pure ingredients? Check out these from the Cinnamon Chai Latte soap:

saponified organic oils of safflower and/or sunflower, argan, and coconut (with retained glycerin); organic argan oil, essential oils of lavander, rosemary, patchouli, lemongrass, thyme, and clove bud; chlorophyll; organic cloves; organic rosemary extract, organic black tea, organic ginger, organic cinnamon

You cannot get much cleaner and greener than that!

Acure soaps are made without any of the  nasty chemicals we want to stay away from. Here’s what you won’t find: gluten, parebens, sulfates, not tested on animals and made without animal products.

I love the fragrance of these soaps which come in scents like Oatmeal + Apple Pie, Superfruit + Citrus, Mint Cookie + Omega 3, Pumpkin + Calendula. I couldn’t pick a favorite because they are all amazing. I especially like how gentle these soaps are, and how moisturizing to my skin.

If you want to learn more, please head to Acure Organics! 


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Empire Girls by by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan


Ivy and Rose Adams may be sisters, but they’re nothing alike. Rose, the eldest, is the responsible one, while Ivy is spirited and brazen. After the unexpected death of their father, the women are left to reconcile the estate, when they make a shocking discovery: not only has their father left them in financial ruin, but he has also bequeathed their beloved family house to a brother they never knew existed. With only a photograph to guide the way, Ivy and Rose embark to New York City, determined to find this mysterious man and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Once in New York, temptations abound at every turn, and soon the sisters are drawn into the glitzy underbelly of Manhattan, where they must overcome their differences and learn to trust each other if they’re going to survive in the big city and find their brother. Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, Empire Girls is a love letter to 1920’s New York, and a captivating story of the unspoken bond between sisters.

My thoughts:

I love a good slice of historical fiction! Especially during the 1920’s in New York. This was a fun book, its  not heavy or super taxing to read, its a lovely novel that kept me interested from beginning to end. I enjoyed the changes that each sister went through as they headed from their home in upstate New York, to the thrill and bustle of the big city.



The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag


Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My thoughts:

I was immediately captivated by this novel from page 1. Cora is a serious, scholarly, orderly woman who is narrow minded in her pursuits of scientific discovery. She is upholding her parents legacy and does’t have time for love or fun. Her grandmother Etta, knows that its time for Cora to change direction and fall in love, specifically with the man who Cora has been good friends with from childhood. He loves her but she is blind to his adoration.

Naturally, nothing is easy and as the book progresses, we learn about circumstances surrounding Cora’s parents death that open a Pandora’s Box. New characters are introduced which complicates Etta’s plan for her grand-daughter. I loved how characters were woven into the deepening plot which kept the story interesting.

When I read that fans of Sarah Addison Allen’s books would love this one, I knew it would be a great read- and it was!




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