Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL Giveaway Extravaganza!

I'm so thrilled to be participating in this massive giveaway to celebrate the upcoming release of Kara Taylor's PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL! Kara is a fabulously talented author and a great friend/crit partner/fellow GoT fan/altogether awesome person. If you haven't added her book to your TBR list, do it HERE. It's an amazing read! Details of the giveaway, which includes a signed copy of Mindee Arnett's THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR, below.




About the Book

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate, Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.




About the Author

Kara Taylor wrote PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL in her first semester of graduate school, in between pulling all nighters and listening to her dad say writing isn't a real job. Now, she lives on Long Island and writes full time. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media.


About the Giveaway

  • First Prize winner will receive a signed ARC of Prep School Confidential, a signed copy of The Nightmare Affair, a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and a PSC Swag Pack

 • 3-Runner’s up will receive 3 PSC swag packs

• Open US/Canada only

• Runs May 29 to June 11

• No purchase necessary to enter

• Be sure to read the terms and conditions on the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 23, 2013

JOJOBA OIL: WHY THE HYPE?

So my foray into the A-Z blogging challenge didn't go too well, but I did have a couple posts ready to go that I didn't put up. So here's the first one about jojoba oil.


JOJOBA OIL: WHY THE HYPE?

Jojoba oil is an ingredient that can be found in an array of beauty products such as shampoos, conditioners and face moisturizers. It is derived from the seed of the jojoba plant, a shrub native to California, Arizona and Mexico. But, interestingly, jojoba oil is not an oil. It is actually a liquid wax ester that closely resembles sebum (the natural oils produced by the human body). And because it is so similar to the oils in our skin, the vast majority of people can use jojoba oil without ever breaking out. But, you know, never skip the patch test!

In my opinion, the best jojoba oils are those that are 100% pure. Read the labels before you buy to make sure there aren’t any funky synthetic ingredients added to the mix! My favorite is the 100% pure jojoba oil from The Jojoba Company. I love that they don’t test on animals and their oil is free from detergents, parabens, sulphates and other chemicals. And look! How cute is the bottle?



 
You might be wondering why someone would choose to use jojoba oil. After all, although I mentioned that it isn’t really an oil, the thought of putting liquid wax on your body, face and scalp does sound kind of scary. Well, here’s the exciting part about jojoba. For those who might have oily skin due to an overproduction of sebum (think – oily forehead, oily hair etc), jojoba is touted with the ability to trick the body’s sebaceous glands into not producing as much oil! Hooray!

But wait.

Now, although I’m saying that’s a good thing, it still might seem a little confusing because there’s the logic of: Hey, I’m still putting this golden liquid on my face, how the heck is that supposed to combat oil? But the strange thing is that sebum and jojoba work in harmony. Jojoba cleans out sebum and is absorbed beautifully into the skin, rather than sitting on top of your skin and clogging it up as sebum does. (FYI, sebum contains triglycerides and jojoba does not). Jojoba also has antibacterial properties and is awesome for restoring the natural balance to your skin.

So there you have it.

Pretty neat, huh?

Friday, April 5, 2013

A-Z Challenge ~ EXFOLIATING USING A DRY BODY BRUSH (Letter E)

I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ve decided I’ll be blogging about natural health and beauty because it’s something I’m really interested in and something I haven’t written about before on this blog. Please remember that I’m not a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner. What I blog about is entirely my own opinion.


EXFOLIATING USING A DRY BODY BRUSH

I’ll be honest. I hadn’t heard about exfoliation using a dry body brush until I read an article featuring Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr. Since she was such an advocate, I decided to do some research and see what the benefits were. Turns out there are many. If you’d like to know what they are, read on!

The purpose of the dry body brush is to exfoliate dead skin cells, smooth wrinkles and imperfections, assist with ingrown hairs, rebuild collagen and improve blood circulation. It has also been known to assist in lymphatic drainage.

The best kind of body brush to use is a plant bristle brush. They are great for exfoliating your skin without damaging it due to harsh scratching. If you wet the body brush, you will not get the same benefits because the bristles stick together and soften, so it is important that the brush is always stored in a dry environment. Additionally, body brushing should only be performed on dry skin.

There are many methods for dry body brushing. You can Google them if you are interested in a particular type (e.g. lymphatic drainage). I usually brush in an upward motion (e.g. ankle to knee) and keep the pressure firm, but not painful. The skin will usually pinken, but the color disappears swiftly after having a shower.

Dry body brushing definitely isn’t for everyone. I must admit that the bristles feel strange on your skin to begin with. After you get used to them, and if body brushing is performed regularly, your skin texture definitely improves. Just remember not to body brush over sunburns or broken skin!

Until tomorrow xx

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A-Z Challenge ~ VITAMIN D (Letter D)

I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ve decided I’ll be blogging about natural health and beauty because it’s something I’m really interested in and something I haven’t written about before on this blog. Please remember that I’m not a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner. What I blog about is entirely my own opinion.


VITAMIN D

Word of warning… this post could be rambling. I’m a huge advocate of Vitamin D for myself but, as always, the views expressed in these posts are wholly my own opinion. And, you know, I’m a weirdo. :)

Rewind to 2006. I got a blood test done for employment purposes. I hadn’t had a blood test in… well, I couldn’t remember ever getting a blood test done before that. I figured everything would be fine. And it was. Except that I was told that I had very low Vitamin D.

The doctor didn’t seem too concerned about my low Vitamin D levels. She just said that I should go out in the sun more often. The big challenge is, of course, that living in Australia, we are constantly bombarded with PSAs about skin cancer and wearing hats, sunscreen and other protective gear whenever we are outside. In fact, as a teacher, I teach this to my students all the time. It is even considered sensible to wear hats and sunscreen in the middle of winter. Now I’m not saying that is the wrong message to be giving – because it’s not, skin cancer is a VERY real and dangerous thing – but it does mean that lots of sunsmart people are finding themselves deficient in the sunshine vitamin. And I’ll be honest. I didn’t think much of being deficient in Vitamin D back in 2006. I had always been taught to be vigilant about other things, such as calcium, iron, cholesterol levels, sugar etc. Never Vitamin D. I didn’t even know why my body needed it.

But here’s the thing.

Turns out that Vitamin D is *crazy* important.

It used to be thought that Vitamin D was only important for preventing childhood diseases like rickets. However, it is now thought to offer a whole host of benefits, including: boosting the immune system, preventing multiple sclerosis, assisting brain function later in life, preventing cancers, heart disease and early death (amongst other things). The current RDA is 400iU per day. However, it is believed that this number will be re-evaluated in the upcoming years and the RDA will be raised. And if you’re going to supplement, the best type to take is Vitamin D3. D2 is not absorbed as well into the body and, as a result, it may not raise your levels. It is also prudent to note that, if you do go out in the sun a lot and your D levels are still low, there could be an underlying reason why your body is not absorbing the vitamin, e.g. Celiac.

My D levels are now in the optimal range and I have noticed two great side effects from it. 1) My eyelashes have grown a lot longer and 2) The skin on my face doesn’t get dry anymore. Weird, huh? I can only attribute it to upping my Vitamin D.

Until tomorrow xx

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A-Z Challenge ~ COSMETICS: IS IT WORTH USING ORGANIC? (Letter C)

I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ve decided I’ll be blogging about natural health and beauty because it’s something I’m really interested in and something I haven’t written about before on this blog. Please remember that I’m not a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner. What I blog about is entirely my own opinion.


COSMETICS: IS IT WORTH USING ORGANIC?

After reading an insightful article about the harmful ingredients in cosmetics by I QUIT SUGAR author Sarah Wilson (LINK), it got me thinking about all the gunk that I slather on my skin on a daily basis. It’s actually quite jaw-dropping. I didn’t think that I used an excess of products. I mean, I don’t use primer, hair mousse, mascara, lipstick, make-up remover or heavy perfume. Yet the products that I do use… that face wash, that concealer, that SPF30 daily tinted moisturiser, that eyeliner, that nail polish, that bronzer… all those products still contain a cocktail of chemicals that are just plain bad for your body. When you consider how the skin absorbs these ingredients so readily, it’s any wonder that some experts believe it would be safer to eat some of these products than wear them, due to the enzymes in our guts that can break down the chemicals.

So, what’s the solution?

In my opinion, it’s impossible to avoid all the chemicals in your cosmetics. Added to that, you don’t want to waste all your moolah by throwing everything out and buying a whole new cupboard full of organic products. (Sidenote: I’ve found that you need to read the labels very carefully. Often the labels of “organic” and “natural” do not mean that the product *is* certified organic and natural.) What I’ve discovered that works for me is to replace products that I use, one-by-one. I started using organic in 2012. I’m still replacing products now, but it hasn’t felt like a taxing, overwhelming exercise because I’ve replaced slowly.

Here are some of the products that I used to use and the products that I’ve swapped them out with:

BODY WASH
BEFORE: Johnson and Johnson’s 24 hour moisturising cream wash
NOW: Billy Goat soap hand and body wash

FACE WASH
BEFORE: Cetaphil (contains: sodium laurel sulphate, propylene glycol and three parabens – methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben)
NOW: Moogoo Milk Wash

DEODORANT
BEFORE: Dove (contains: aluminium) *See THIS POST for more on aluminium in deodorant.
NOW: Sanctum

SHAMPOO
BEFORE: Pantene (contains: petrochemicals amongst other nasties)
NOW: Moogoo Milk Shampoo

Just a final thought.

Using organic products is not for everyone, it’s totally a personal choice. Having used non-organics for many years, there’s no way I can tell people to stop using them without sounding like a complete loon.

However, if you’d like to learn more, I’d recommend Jillian Michael’s fantastic book MASTER YOUR METABOLISM and SLOW DEATH BY RUBBER DUCK by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.

Until tomorrow xx

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A-Z Challenge ~ VITAMIN B12 (Letter B)

I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ve decided I’ll be blogging about natural health and beauty because it’s something I’m really interested in and something I haven’t written about before on this blog. Please remember that I’m not a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner. What I blog about is entirely my own opinion.


Recently someone close to me had been feeling more tired than usual. He was exhausted at work. Could hardly concentrate. Woke up after a full night’s sleep feeling just as fatigued as the night before. So he went to get his bloodwork done and found out that he was deficient in Vitamin B12.

And the first thing he said?

“I’ve heard of B12 but never really thought about it as being a major factor to my health.”

Neither had I.

So this post is about B12 deficiency and how it can affect you.

Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins. It works with folate to form red blood cells and keep your nerve tissue healthy. B12 is found in liver, caviar, oysters, mussels, lobster, lamb, cheese, eggs and fish. However, people with conditions such as pernicious anemia, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS, those with a poor diet, people on certain medications and those who are vegetarian/vegan can find themselves deficient.

Like my friend, one of the biggest symptoms of B12 deficiency is fatigue. Other symptoms include anemia, depression, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and weight loss.

If you suspect you have a deficiency, I’d strongly err against self-diagnosis! Talk to your GP about getting a blood test and go from there. I wouldn’t recommend taking supplements without having testing done because, although B12 is a low risk vitamin for toxicity, it could be a different vitamin that is causing your symptoms.

My friend is now taking B12 supplements and he’s slowly, but surely, feeling a lot better. He’ll get tested again in a few weeks to see if his B12 level has risen to the normal range. Bottom line: If something’s not quite right, get it checked out and it could be a (fairly) simple fix. Prolonged B12 deficiency leads to a whole host of nasties and a good level can potentially protect you against dementia, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer risk.

Until tomorrow xx

A-Z Challenge ~ ALUMINIUM IN DEODORANT: PROBLEM OR OVERREACTION? (Letter A)


So I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, which is both scary and exciting in equal measures. (I mean, I’ll be posting six days out of the week! Eek!) I’ve decided I’ll be blogging about natural health and beauty because it’s something I’m really interested in and something I haven’t written about before on this blog. Please remember that I’m not a qualified doctor or natural health practitioner. What I blog about is entirely my own opinion.


ALUMINIUM IN DEODORANT: PROBLEM OR OVERREACTION?

For years I’d heard wives tales about the dangers of wearing antiperspirant deodorant. Things like, “It gives you cancer” and “It changes your cells.” As a teenager, I had the mentality of whatevs, thinking that cancer and cells changing was just for old people and there was NO WAY supermarkets would be selling the public something that was bad for us. However, a lot has changed since the magical 90s-00s.

I guess the first thing to understand is why we need antiperspirants or deodorants. And it's not because we have over two million sweat glands on our bodies. Sweat, itself, is odorless. Rather, it’s the bacteria that lives on our skin when mixed with the sweat that causes the unpleasant smell.

So what do antiperspirant deodorants do?

For starters, deodorants and antiperspirants used to be two different products. Deodorants killed the bacteria (and, thus, the body odor) and antiperspirants tried to block the sweat from forming in the first place. Nowadays, most products are called “antiperspirant deodorants” because they kill bacteria and try to stop the sweat. A kind of two-in-one punch.

So what’s so bad about it?

Researchers have a problem with a few different chemicals in deodorants (petrochemicals like parabens, synthetic fragrances etc), but I’m going to focus on aluminium. Aluminium in the body has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. (LINK) It is believed that it moves into the lymphatic system through the delicate skin under our arms. And, as many people shave their armpits before applying deodorant, it is easier for the product to absorb into the skin. Now, it's important to note that the FDA approves products containing these chemicals. From what I can discern, the reason is because they do not believe there is sufficient evidence of harm to remove them from shelves. But, like with all medicines and beauty products, it is best to keep yourself informed in order to make your own decision.

I think one of the biggest issues for me when I learned about this was: Um, people still have to wear deodorant. Like most, I have had the experience of sharing a lift/cab/place in a queue etc with someone who is *not* wearing deodorant, when they really should have been.

But it’s not all bad news.

If you’re concerned about your antiperspirant or deodorant, you can always opt for a natural alternative. I was of the mind that natural deodorants would smell terrible, but these days there are some pretty great ones. I use Sanctum for Women. Really nice citrus smell and it lasts all day. If in doubt, just check the ingredients on the label of your antiperspirant deodorant to make your decision. Things to steer clear of would be: aluminium, zirconium, tetrachlorohydrex gly and parabens to name a few. And, most of all, do what you are comfortable with.

Until tomorrow! xx