Sunday, January 19, 2014

THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS - children's EBOOK review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I had the opportunity to review a children's ebook by Suzy Lieberman.




A brief background of this author: Suzy currently resides in the USA, but she is a native of Germany and former resident of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Islands of the Bahamas and Switzerland. Well versed in languages and education, she launched Happy Language Kids Publications in 2010 as an interactive language learning program for children. She created a sea character who is a starfish named Hugo. Her stories tell of his adventures in not only exploring the underwater worlds, but also of his discovery of various modes of feelings, lessons of character, ecological alertness and life skills.

The ebook from her series that I was sent for review is called, "The Secret to Happiness." This is something we as humans all long to know and be able to achieve in our lives. Lieberman's series of books have a central focus and theme: building healthy and successful relationships with peers and to educating children about their feelings, their attitudes, their choices and the consequences that follow.

Hugo is a starfish who has a big heart desiring to help others but often his feelings get in the way and sometimes he gets confused about what choices are the best for him. He desires to help others but just like humans sometimes do, he does not always make to best decision right away. Sometimes he needs to learn from his mistakes before finally doing the right thing.

Storyline and themes found in this ebook:

He starts out the story bored, and a little sad. So he finds a friend/acquaintance known as the "Magic Mantra" who is deemed wise and who he asks for advice. His friend suggests he searches right where he is. Well Hugo takes it a bit literally and is thinking that happiness is a tangible object that he must search for. So he searches under various plants, rocks, or sea life, thinking it was something misplaced and able to be found. He begins to get frustrated and even angry (the picture in the ebook shows him with angry eyebrows, teeth clenched and fist clenched in air---I was a little surprised at his quick anger in this children's book).



His friend then suggests he take a nap and so Hugo naps. When he awakes he still feels angry and sad. He longs for happiness that last for a whole day. He decides to take on a fun activity, so he goes fishing above water. Tired out from the long day of fishing, he goes to bed tired but very happy. The next day he wakes up sad and wonders why his happiness was short lived. He asks Magic Mantra what would make him happy for a whole month, to which he suggests Hugo spend time with a good friend. So Hugo does just that and for the time being seems very happy and satisfied.

Unfortunately happiness is fleeting and he is bored again, looking for something to gratify his need for happiness. He longs to be happy for a whole year, and at the advice of his "wise" friend, he goes in search of fortune and treasure, finds it and buys lots of tangible gifts and possessions for himself.

As I read this, I begin to wonder the wiseness of his friend Magic Mantra, but also wonder if perhaps Mantra is trying to teach Hugo a lesson and have him learn from his mistakes. Mantra then tells Hugo that things we are used to having all the time loose their luster and appeal. We then begin to not appreciate what we have. We become greedy and rely on tangible things to brings us happiness. But in reality, these bursts of happiness/pleasure/satisfaction are only temporary.

Hugo desired for lasting happiness and finally learns that loving and sharing with others is what truly brings complete satisfaction in life. He learns empathy, the feeling that you understand and share another person's emotions that they are feeling and that you desire to care about their needs. His heart grows even more and he is able to share his love and heart with others. Later in the story Hugo is able to help a friend in need and this help strengthens him in many ways. He feels renewed and his happiness grows. He feels accomplishment and realizes that is is more important to share and care instead of trying to feed his desire and wants.

I read this story twice and it has a good message. It teaches the reader that happiness comes from loving and caring for others. Those who already know this "secret" to happiness are reminded of this and will hopefully have a renewed interest and renewed desire to share their time and love with others. This is a simple story that will be a good life lesson for young readers. The theme is simple, but often we as adults have difficultly grasping this at times. We all need to devote our lives to loving others first, before ourselves.


For more information on this series and the author, please visit:

http://www.mystarfish.org/hugos-books

This book is available on Amazon.com in ebook form as well as hardcover.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.






Friday, January 17, 2014

La Beaute Pure Organic Vitamin C Serum: A Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I am currently trying a new skincare serum by La Beaute Pure. It is a serum packed with Vitamin C and other skin loving natural ingredients. Here are my thoughts on this product.

I try to eat healthy and drink plenty of fresh water. I am currently pregnant with my second child and so am no stranger to taking prenatals and other vitamins daily. I try to eat a well balanced diet filled with fruits and veggies that my body needs to flourish and age a little more gracefully. :) Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemons, as well as the sweet and delicious kiwi fruit, contain a huge content of Vitamin C. Some other sources of Vitamin C come from broccoli, strawberries (my favorite!), cantaloupe (not my favorite at all--lol!), baked potatoes and tomatoes.

What does Vitamin C do? Well, vitamin C is key to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin firmness and strength. When we get older, the production of collagen begins to slow down and cell structures start losing their strength. Skin starts to become less elastic and sadly wrinkles set in. Vitamin C also helps your skin repair itself. Skin will become rough and dry if it is not treated with care and given proper nutrients. It increases elastin formation which thickens, protect and heal skin cells. The thickening effect helps to retain moisture, increases skin circulation and plumps up the skin surface. When we are young, we have the most elastin and collagen in our skin. I am now at the age of thirty one and although I do not have any wrinkles or age spots of any kind, I still want to protect my skin and prevent it from dry patches and dull appearance. I have never smoked in my life, which is an added help to protecting my skin and preventing premature aging. Smoking cigarettes lowers the absorption of Vitamin C, those who smoke have a higher risk of Vitamin C deficiency. Smoking damages skin over time. Vitamin C is vital to sun protection. It aids in protecting our skin from free radicals which we develop due to excess exposure to the sun and environmental pollutants. Vitamin C contains antioxidants and they protect the skin from ultraviolet rays.

Now, onto my review of the Vitamin C serum from La Beaute Pure. I ordered this to try and it arrived promptly and well padded. The bottle is glass which I prefer, and came with a dropper to screw on. I currently have a simple skincare routine, as I have lessened the amount of products I use. I have adapted my skin, hair care, and healthcare to a more natural approach. I have been completely free of sodium laurel/sodium laureth sulfates (and all other forms of it) for a year now. I have removed it completely from my shampoos (and other haircare) as well as all soaps and facial cleansers. I mainly wash my face with the oil cleansing method at night and then for my morning showers, I use a natural oil based soap that is free of chemicals and sulfates. I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my skin. I have less oil production and less breakouts. I was so happy to find out that this product is sulfate free and not tested on animals. They use dandelion extract which acts as a skin toner that cleanses and improves the overall health of skin. The serum contains vegan hyaluronic acid base to plump skin cells, and prevents or slows the effects of aging.

Another fantastic healing agent is aloe, this was something I could definitely notice while applying the serum. It was light and almost cooling, without any sticky or tacky film. An ingredient I had not heard of, but that it contains, is gotu kola extract which is said to help in healing of burns, wounds & stretch marks. When I looked it up, I found that it is used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Gotu kola also is said to increase collagen production, which as I have mentioned previously, is necessary for skin and elasticity. Other ingredients listed in this serum are from the horsetail plant, which may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (yet another good thing to have in skincare.) Geranium assists in sebum production for a balance of dry & oily skin. I was happy to see the use of plant based ingredients. No parabens, chemicals, preservatives, formaldehyde, phthalates, Triclosan, GMO, added fragrance or colors are in this wonderful serum.

As mentioned previously, I try to use organic and or natural products as much as possible. I can tell the company believes in using only the highest quality of ingredients. The directions say to use the serum on the face in the mornings for protection all day. Vitamin C will be absorbed for up to 72 hours. I would start with freshly cleansed skin, and used 1-2 drops on each side of my face, 2 drops on my neck and chin, and 2 drops on my forehead. Let it dry completely before adding moisturizer. The directions say that it can be used with AHA. I also use it at night: After washing with an oil cleansing method, I follow with my Nutrisonic (similar but cheaper than Clarisonic) brush (on gentlest setting and speed) with a botanical cleanser (for cleansing and a slight microdermabrasion). Lastly after my face has been rinsed and pat to dry, I follow with the Vitamin C serum in the amounts and areas mentioned above. Vitamin C Serum will start to be absorbed by the skin almost immediately, protecting the skin from further environmental damage.

I was very pleased with this serum. It is housed in a dark glass bottle (always important for the bottle to be dark to preserve the contents and ingredients from sun and light). I liked how there was no strong fragrance (it smells plain, almost like aloe vera). I also was happy that it did not leave my fingers or hands sticky. Since I always apply my makeup after my skincare routine, I liked how I did not need to get up from my vanity to wash off my hands. I have tested this serum for a week, and will continue using this twice a day till it runs out. I may consider purchasing again when needed. It is a fantastic product that I highly recommend.

You can check out this fantastic serum on Amazon. La Beauté Pure Vitamin C Serum
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Skillet Meals from Kroger and BzzAgent




I had the opportunity to review for free, Kroger Skillet Meals courtesy of bzzagent, these are my thoughts of the meal. My family (husband, almost 3 year old daughter) and I cooked Kroger Skillet Meals in the beef stir fry. It had snow peas, water chestnuts, carrots, and green beans and broccoli. It was easy to cook, and ready in about 10 minutes. The beef was decent quality, much better than I was expecting. Sadly there was only 2 water chestnut slices in the entire bag, a little odd. I also was confused at having both snow peas and green beans, the textures and color of the two similar veggies seemed a bit of a bore. We made the garlic bread, but it was really salty and heavily buttery garlic flavor, so we barely ate any. The salad was nice and fresh (even had high quality real bacon), however the included dressing packet was only enough for one person, so we added some of our own dressing. The salad was enough for 2 people, my husband and I. Improvements that could be made to the garlic bread would be to have the buttery garlic in a separate packet to add on the bread as desired, more dressing in the salad bag, and more water chestnuts with one or the other of the long green veggies. It was nice to be able to test these out through bzzagent.