Friday Reading Check-In


What have you been reading this week? Despite running a bit behind on my reading schedule thanks to watching The Voice, I still managed to spend lots of quality time reading. I need to get back to revamping a novel I wrote but in the meantime, I’m finding inspiration in books that other people wrote. Namely these!

I read Lena Dunham’s memoir last  weekend, it was quick and funny. In a nutshell, it’s her private (not anymore) musings and things that happened to her while growing up.  I thought it was entertaining and I did laugh out loud a few times.

Here’s what else I’ve been reading:

The Lodger by Louisa Treger

Just finished this last night. Its a very quick read, not a large book, but very well written. I never knew much about the writer H.G. Wells or his affair with Dorothy Richardson.The Lodger explores their relationship and Dorothy’s growth from a dental secretary to a writer in her own right. This was a brilliant first novel and I look forward to more from Louisa Treger.

Goodreads synopsis: Dorothy exists just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist’s surgery and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie as he is known to friends.

Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signalling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy is not convinced her friend is happy with this arrangement.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—striking unconventional Veronica Leslie-Jones, determined to live life on her own terms—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of the militant suffragette movement, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.



Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult’s novels and this one didn’t let me down. I learned a lot about elephants in this particular book and now find them fascinating although some of the research included in the book was pretty dense.

I tore through this novel, wanting to know how everything came together in the end.  I really liked the character of downtrodden Serenity Jones, a former celebrity psychic.

Goodreads synopsis: For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.


Last but  not least, I am currently reading  The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell YOU by Mike Dooley.

I am only in the beginning chapters so I don’t have a lot to say about this book but so far I find it both uplifting and comforting.  To be honest, the idea of dying freaks me out and its something I worry about a lot. So I was certainly looking forward to reading this and gaining insight.

Goodreads synopsis:

“I know this may come as a shock, and you know I’m not fond of using stale one-liners, but—‘reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’ I’m as alive now as I was on the day we met, except, maybe, more so.”

If the dead could speak, don’t you wonder what they would say to those of us they’ve left behind? What would they tell us to soothe our sorrow for their loss, calm our fears of what happens when we die, and fire us up to live the best possible lives we can right now?
In pages filled with wisdom, humor, and, yes, joy, New York Times best-selling author Mike Dooley explores our most pressing and profound questions about the afterlife—and this life—from the fresh perspective of those who have made the transition to the next phase. Among the revelations and insights they share:

• We were ready; you are not.

• There’s no such thing as a devil or hell.

• We’re sorry for any pain we may have caused.

• Your pets are just as crazy, brilliant, and loving here as they were there.

• Nothing we say can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.

You’ll learn that our loved ones are not lost to us; that our time on earth is both a school and an adventure; that, all appearances to the contrary, life truly is fair; and that we have it in us to reshape our own fortunes, starting today.

Of course I have to mention my own novel, available on Kindle right now! 





Throwback Thursday: How to shop for natural beauty products at Target


Seems like I am always in Target. I just point my little car in that direction and suddenly the bulls eye has me under its spell.

When I was not working solely with non toxic, ecofriendly, green, clean products, my favorite thing to do was stroll around the beauty and hair aisles. When I eliminated all the toxic personal care items, this left me with the produce aisle to walk around as there is not much that’s natural at Target- unfortunately.

With limited selections at Sephora, where does that leave us besides shopping online? Which I do enjoy, but sometimes I want to buy a lipstick or eyeliner while I’m out. And where do I go but Target and the drugstore!

In many of the products I researched, the worst and most toxic rating is for Fragrance- the majority of companies add this to their products. According to Skin Deep, Fragrance can cause: ” Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology (wildlife toxicity).

About FRAGRANCE: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”

Here’s what I found at Target that is natural.

Yes To…Carrots, Blueberries, Grapefruit etc. 

Oh I how want this brand to be completely natural and chemical free. Its not. I have enjoyed using these products in the past and some of them are rated clean and safe but others are not.

The danger in the products include fragrance which can cause irritation and allergies, Vitamin A Acetate which can cause Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity. There’s also something called Vitamin A Palmitate which has similar warnings as the Acetate. And the list goes on. I always check out Skin Deep for hazard ratings and Yes To…products pose  a moderate hazard. Better than some other products but if you are looking for really clean beauty products, there are better options. Go here for the Skin Deep report on this brand


Burt’s Bees

I like Burt’s Bees! I love their lip shimmers and various products that I have used over the years. There’s a pretty big Burt’s Bees display at my local Super Target as well as the health food store/market I visit.  Too bad they do use fragrance,  Vitamin A Acetate & Palmitate, as well as something called Coumarin which is used to mask a scent.  There are many other chemicals used in Burt’s Bees, some more hazardous than others and you can go here and see for yourself.  I love their lip glosses which score a low 2, but there is fragrance in about 82 products so use caution.  My feeling is that this brand may be more natural than many but there are even more natural brands out there…just not at Target.


Boots No. 7

I’ve tried this brand and reviewed them before.  Their makeup such as mascara, eye liners, certain foundations, brow liner, cheek color is  not hazardous and is low on the hazard scale. Yay!  Its a good choice if you are in the need of makeup and you happen to be at Target although certain foundations are more toxic than others. As we get into the skincare is when things get a little tricky because the more dangerous chemicals are present. Primers, cleansers and  items get more toxic. Ahhhh Boots! You offer some great non toxic products than add fragrance and parabens and ruin it. My advice to you is look throughSkin Deep to see specific products and make a list of the non toxic ones, shop accordingly.


Physicians Formula Organic Wear

I think this brand is your best bet for makeup. Most products pose little or no risk to your health. I like their mascara which is non-toxic and I’m always eyeballing their powder.  A few products are more toxic than others which is too bad since the Organic Wear label would indicate pure and natural (although I keep in mind the whole “greenwashing” thing) but the chemicals used collectively have this warning: Ecotoxicology, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation, Use restrictions.  Go here to read more.


Pacifica Beauty

Very recently I reviewed this brand and really liked everything I tried. I can put my stamp of approval on the eye shadows and body lotions, although they use Fragrance in many of their products. As you know by now fragrance can be very toxic for several reasons. The chemicals that make up a fragrance can be a composite of hundreds of toxic synthetics but as consumers, we just don’t know exactly what. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this brand, from what I know and have experienced, is a pretty good bet.  On Skin Deep, the products rate very low to moderate.


J. R. Watkins

Here’s another brand in the “natural” area. This company makes skincare, soaps and lotions plus cleaning spray.  The most offensive ingredient? Fragrance. And you will find it in 26 different products. You really want the lovely scent used in skincare, makeup, cleaning products etc to come from essential oils or distilled flowers, not from a cocktail of chemicals made in a lab.  This brand also uses something called Phenol which Skin Deep warns us can cause, “Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Use restrictions.” Read  more here.


Alba Botanica

I have a few things from this brand and I like them. I use a spray on sunscreen that I loved until I ran out and switched to Ava Anderson.  My Target  has a limited range of products from Alba Botanica.  They make lotions, bodywash,  shampoo and conditioner, lip gloss and much more. As you might have guessed by now fragrance is found in almost all products and now you know that fragrance can be toxic. There’s also Oxybenzone (used in sunscreens) which causes, “Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation, Use restrictions.”

There’s also something called Benzyl Salicylate which is pretty toxic and is something to absorb and mask fragrance. A few other ingredients are hazardous to our health and you can read them all here.


I am begging Target to please add truly natural brands. I can even help pick some products! There are some decent, non toxic, somewhat clean and natural products (besides the ones I mentioned, check out Dr. Bonner, Shea Moisture) available but there are four times as many toxic brands and chemical laden products on the shelves. Are people going to put the effort into finding the natural products? Will they take time to study labels and understand ingredients? I don’t think so, not generally speaking.  And will companies ever stop using the hazardous ingredients that can potentially cause a host of health issues?

I’d love to see Target expand their “natural” section to encompass organic makeup and skincare. Which brands would you like to see Target (insert your store of choice) carry?

Wellness Wednesday: Have a High Energy Day!


I saw this on Pinterest and wanted to share with my readers. There are some great tips here for energy throughout the day.

One of my favorite ways to wind down at the end of the day include a hot shower, lavender oil, an hour of reading and a dose of melatonin if I need help falling asleep.

Do you have any tips to share? Let me know! Leave a message or find me on Facebook…here!




lavido 028

I am very excited to introduce you to Lavido! This brand hails from Galilee and here’s what you need to know…

This brand is:

* sustainable, cruelty-free beauty practices and products.

* sourcing the best raw organic ingredients from around the world.

* raising the bar of natural brands, by dermatologist testing all our products and clinically testing many of our products.

I tested a few products, here’s what I thought about them!

Patchouli and Vanilla Intoxicating Body Wash

Wow, this body wash smells so good, it leaves me wishing for a perfume oil in the exact scent. The vanilla oil and distilled patchouli blend beautifully to create a luxurious scent. Yes, it does clean well and leaves your skin soft. Its a gentle product and a little goes a long way although I do admit to using way  more than I need to!

Tea Tree and Lavender Intimately Yours Wash

All I saw was Tea Tree and Lavender and I was excited! I didn’t realize this was for the ‘intimate parts’ of the body! Nevermind, I’ve been using this from head to toe! Tea tree and lavender are known to  be cleansing and purifying, the scent is invigorating and refreshing.

Pomegranate Seed, Rose Hip, and Citrus with Hyaluronic Acid Alert Eye Cream

Always searching for awesome eye creams, I was excited to try this one! It contains plant-based hyaluronic acid, cold-pressed avocado oil, organic Pomegranate Seed oil and Citrus Extracts. This gentle cream hydrates the skin around the eyes as well as firms up the area and brightens it.

I dab this around the eye area in the morning when I want a cream but nothing too heavy. I allow it to sink into the skin and apply my RMS UnCover Up so that I look alert and bright eyed, even when Im exhausted!

I really liked what I tried from Lavido, there are so many products that this brand offers,  you can go here to check everything out. 


Cricket Q-Zone Lightweight Dryer


A quiet blow dryer with loads of power? Is it possible? Yes, I am happy to report- its not only possibly but the Centrix Q Zone Quiet 1500 Watt Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Hair Dryer surpassed my expectations- which are very high.

I love checking out new heat styling tools for hair, I was excited to take this one for a test drive. My fine hair is prone to frizz and something that has helped me tame it is using a low heat setting on a well made hair dryer.

This one comes with a power booster, a straightening pick, concentrator and diffuser. Its easy to swap them out and use what you need for which ever hair style you’re going for.  There are also different heat settings and a cold shot button.

This blow dryer is light weight so you won’t have an arm cramp from holding it. The quiet hum of the motor won’t wake anyone up if you do your hair early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping.

I am so happy with this blow dryer and am anxious to see what else the brand has to offer! You can find out more by going to the Cricket Co. website here!






By Hello Dollface