Get sultry

Denise Richards captures golden girl lookThere is nothing like a little warm weather, or even a hint of spring, to make a woman feel dowdy in her winter look. What was chic and sexy just weeks ago can now feel old and tired. It’s time to get sultry with a few of the summer’s hottest beauty trends. It might be too soon to slip into a bikini or short shorts, but a few changes to your look can make you feel hot.

Start at the top

Darlings, start at the top to lighten up your look. Think beachy, even if you spend your summer in the city. If you are blonde, think lighter. Forget the “ombre” trend for light ends and dark roots. It is already on the way out and men hate it. If you are dark blonde, go for warm caramel highlights. Lighter blondes can add a hint of platinum.
Natural blondes and light brunettes can gradually lighten-up with John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Controlled Lighting Spray. It works gradually with heat. It only works on blonde or light brown hair, but it is a great option. L’Oreal Superior Preference Dream Blonde is my favourite at-home hair colour for blondes. It lightens and produces shiny salon “salon” colour every time.
Brunettes should shine
Brunettes should brighten too with dimensional rich-looking colour. Beware of highlights in red or blond that can look artificial and wash you out. Go instead for a rich look with natural subtle tones. Think about how Anne Hathaway or Eva Longoria‘s hair looks. Their highlights are always subtle and their look is rich. If you are looking for at-home colour, try one of new no ammonia colours, such as Clairol Perfect 10 or L’Oreal Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color. These products are great for brunettes, and have great shine and coverage. They work in only 10 minutes and smell fabulous.
 Red shades are hard to get right at home. If you are going attempt it at home, try L’Oreal Feria.
To keep colour from fading, Klorane from France has a wonderful range of shampoos, conditioners, and mousse to guard colour with natural botanicals. They smell fabulous and there is one for every shade.
A couple of our favourite must-have products for sexy-looking summer hair include David Babaii for Wildaid Bohemian Beach Spray, which adds volume or texture even in humid weather, and Sebastian Re-Shaper brushable humidity resistant strong hair spray – which is just that.
Braids, buns, and scarves
If you have long hair, learn to braid it. Braids are back in a big way for summer. You can wear them big and loose, or tight and sleek. I think a big braid on one side a la 60s is very appealing and a great way to fight humidity. The side part is very in this summer, and flattering to most faces. Wrap your braids in ribbons, or tie it with a scarf.
Decorate your hair. You can change your look from boho to preppy, to princess, simply by wearing a flower in your hair, adding a scarf, or a trying some ribbons. Experiment!
Tip: Really messy and teased runway hair looks best on the runway. In real life you can look like you are a slob who did not brush her hair. If you want to try this look, tease carefully to avoid damage and then control the messiness.
Another hot look this summer is the ballerina topknot. So channel your inner Natalie Portman and enjoy this easy, elegant do. Pull your hair up in high in a ponytail and tease it. If you hair is a bit too short, this is the perfect time to use a long ponytail hair extension. You can find one inexpensively at the beauty supply store or at Ulta. Then just wrap and pin the hair into a pretty swirled knot on top of your head. Be sure to pin it securely and use hair or bobby pins to match your hair colour. This is a pretty look for the beach or evening.
Bat your lashes
Anne Gravel loves lashesDarlings, this is the year of the lash. Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and other celebrities have been seen sporting almost doll-like lashes. If you want, you can get the look for up two weeks with Lash Dip. This process coats, lengthens, and curls your lashes to perfection. I have not tried it yet, but it is on my summer to-do list. It costs a few hundred dollars, but just think about waking up with no raccoon eyes and big beautiful lashes for a special vacation or occasion.
False lashes look sexy and beauty editors are always touting them. Aside from semi-permanent lash extensions, I can’t be bothered, and I don’t know many women who can. There is something unattractive about anything fake thing that can fall off. I love Latisse and really good mascara. If Latisse is not your thing, Rapid Lash, Lash Food, or L’Oreal Concentrated Lash Boosting Serum and good mascara can make the most of lashes. 
Anne Gravel and I are mascara fiends. We love Chanel Inimitable Mascara, L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara, Covergirl Lash Blast Volume and Fusion Formula. Beauties who like a natural look should consider a lash serum, such as Latisse, and then dye their lashes with Covergirl Lash Blast Lengthening.
Sparkle on her eyes
Bring sparkle to your eyes with shimmery shadow. Banish all thoughts of tacky frosted shadow and think of an ethereal wash of color for daytime. For night, picture a sprinkling of crushed gems across your lids.
Killer Intense eye shadow in a hot molton silverIFor day, dust a layer of neutral shimmer, such as Smashbox’s Shell over the lid, and add a warm brown liner and black mascara. Then turn up the volume at night with a smoky metallic eye. Editors are mad for Giorgio Armani’s new “Eyes to Kill Intense” shadows. These are pricey little pots of creamy, intensely beautiful dimensional shimmer. For a wash of pure glamour, we also like Smashbox, Make-up Forever, and M.A.C.; they all make a range of metallic shadows of varying intensities.
Line your eyes with colour
Coloured eye liner is a simpler, but equally-trendy way to make eyes pop. Just stroke a brightly-colored liner across the lid and extend slightly. For the office, keep it subtle. Pump-up the colour and exaggerate the line for evenings. Plums, greens, and turquoise look pretty and trendy. There is no reason to get spendy on pencils. Covergirl and L’Oreal H.I.P. eye liner pencils come in the trendiest shades and stay on.
Gloss your lips
They always watch your lips when you talk, so be sure to keep a gloss them. Wear red, coral, or a sexy glossy nude this summer, but whatever you do, keep it light and pretty. Stay away form anything too matte or gooey. If you wear a red, keep it light and bright, and in the heat. You can wear a hot bright coral or a soft gloss, such as Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine in “Boy”. It is named for Coco’s lover, Boy Capel.
Go for the gold
A gloss of gold is pretty and sexy in the summer, whether you are fair or bronzed. Celebrities everywhere are looking glossy and golden. Denise Richards, on a recent appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, looked fabulous and golden with combination of self tanner, spray tan, and shimmering body oil.
We love the look of Fake Bake, the celebrity’s favorite red carpet spray tan. We also loveVictoria’s SecretBeach Sexy Adjustable Self-Tan Lotion with Shimmer. It is easy to apply evenly because of the tint, and the shimmer is very pretty and sexy-looking.
Vanessa Paradis wearing Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine in “Boy”Shimmery powders and bronzer are fabulous but don’t overdo them or you’ll look "dirty". Accent the high points of the face: cheek bones, top of forehead, tip of the nose and chin, as well as the cleavage and legs. We like Victoria’s Secret’s Sun Dust Shimmer Body Powder because it is really light. 
Guerlain made the original Terracotta bronzing compact. It has fabulous texture and colour. They now make full range of luxurious bronzing powders and make-up to flatter all skin tones. Guerlain’s Terracotta Jambes De Gazelle Cooling Bronze Mist – about $60 — makes you look gloriously golden instantly.
We also like Sephora’s Illuminating Bronzing Oil metallic-flecked bronzing oil for $14.
Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Pressed Bronzer comes in shades to suit all colouring. It provides an instant glow as well as a long lasting tan-boost that builds to your desired level of bronze. This is a gorgeous bronze colour. It also has an exclusive infusion of vitamins, moisturizers, and antioxidants. This is a full line of bronzers and bronzy blushers. All are great value and look fabulous for less than $20.
So darlings, cast off your winter doldrums and get sultry!

Mad for mangosteen

I went mad for mangosteens when I first visited Thailand years ago. These little, delicious and exotic, purple-skinned fruit have, a sweet white juicy pulp. They taste a bit like bubble gum, but better. Some people describe them as a cross between berries and citrus, with a hint of vanilla. 

Recently, I discovered Xango Juice, a mangosteen beverage that uses the whole fruit, rind and all. It seems the rind is full of concentrated xanthones, plant flavaniods, and phytonutrients.  
Preliminary research shows xanthones have a beneficial effect on C-reactive protein, which when elevated can indicate serious health conditions.
However, certified nutritionist Cathy Wong warned “the excitement about mangosteen beverages may be premature.”  In an article in, she added, “there are no clinical trials showing that oral mangosteen extracts have any benefit in humans. What happens in a test tube may not occur when mangosteen is taken orally.” 

She goes on to say that “although the "super fruit" properties are often attributed to the xanthone content, some of the mangosteen’s medicinal properties may be attributed to compounds called tannins in the rind. Tannins have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent properties, and are used for such conditions as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and skin conditions. Tannins are ubiquitous in the plant world and are found in common, less expensive foods such as black tea, green tea, cranberries.”

The makers of Xango say that the mango has a greater concentration of catechin flavaniods than green tee and claim the flavaniods in mangosteens help to neutralize free radicals, support cell integrity and promote intestinal health. They recommend   consuming three ounces daily.
Mangosteens are a delicious healthful fruit full of anti-oxidants, flavanoids, and phytonutrients. Xango is a pleasant-tasting juice beverage that contains concentrated mangosteen juice, but also many other less-exotic and costly fruit juices. There’s nothing unhealthy in Xango, but it is a very expensive blended juice concentrate at $25 to $30 a bottle. Try it if it appeals to you, but continue to eat a variety of fresh anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of freshly-brewed green and white tea.

A professional skincare bargain!

According to Olay, their Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, designed by a team of dermatologists is as effective as systems that sell for up to $200. As a professional beauty editor, I would agree. The Olay system is designed to cleanse six times better than plain soap and water. The waterproof brush has two speeds and soft skin-pampering bristles. It is used with an exfoliating cleanser, so it will clean skin and allow it to absorb better products.

Olay doesn’t say so, but with time, constant exfoliation also helps to stimulate collagen for firmer skin. I love this system. It is fabulous value at less than $30!
The Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System comes with a small tube of Olay Professional Pro-X Exfoliating Renewal Cleanser. This gentle micro-bead formula leaves skin soft, smooth, and clean feeling.



Hat are not just for weddings!

"Trim Fedora" from about $40 Channel your inner diva this summer and wear a hat! Get behind a brim and flirt! Try a wide brim picture hat when you are feeling romantic, or put on Hollywood’s new favourite, a fedora, and look dashing! Hats also help protect your skin from the ageing rays of the sun, so there’s another reason to get hatted.

San Deigo hats big brim from www.brasymthcom $44


A poignant must-read début novel

Amanda’s Hodgkin’s debut novel 22 Britannia Road is a searingly poignant love story about a small family trying to find a way back to love and normalcy after the hardships of war. Set in post-war Britain, the novel’s themes are compellingly contemporary in today’s war-torn world. The story is also one of maternal devotion.

As the novel opens, Silvana is headed to England to rejoin the husband she has not seen for six years. They were separated when he left to join the army as Germany invaded Poland during World War II. Silvana spent that time in hiding from the Nazis in the famed Arden forest with her young son, Aurek. After six years, she and the boy have barely survived. Aurek is a wild creature having been raised hiding in the forest like a small animal.
Her husband Janusz has fared better than Silvana, but he has also been scarred by the war and his harrowing escape to England. Happily but with trepidation, Janusz receives the wife he no longer knows and the child he had no time to know. Together, shaped by their horrific memories and in spite of them, they must rediscover love and forge a new life. Each of them must lay to rest secrets from their time apart and learn to live anew.
The story is told in series of flashbacks. Hodgkin’s style is subtle but intense. She knows how to get under your skin. I could not put the book down, and the
characters haunted me for days. This novel captures the horrors that become commonplace for “normal” people in times of war — and the struggle as they return to “normal” life as if nothing remarkable or horrific had happened.
Be sure not to miss this truly remarkable first novel.

Best blush bargain

Kim K with trendy pink cheekCelebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman have embraced the runway trend of rosy cheeks. It looks fresh and helps to show off your eyes. You can try this pretty trend for a song. 

Try e.l.f. cream blush in flirt for only $3. The colour is perfect for most skin tones.  You need just a touch. It blends effortlessly and stays fresh for hours.


Easy, elegant low-cal cod

Moist white fish, sundried tomatoes and crunchy pankoHow do you diet when you love to eat and you have a husband or family to feed?

What I do is get a lot of flavour out of a few calories. Here’s one of my favourite recipes. It is fast, easy, and tasty.
Defrost or use one fresh white fish fillet per person. Any type of fish will do. I like black Norwegian Cod. It has firm, tasty flesh and is not endangered. It is also low on the mercury list.
Place the fish (it may still be frozen) in a covered container just large enough to hold it. Add one clove of crushed garlic, ¼ cup of white wine, 1 tsp dried organeo, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Use any dry white wine, even vermouth. Shake together and marinate the fish for 10 minutes. The fish can defrost in the marinade, if that’s convenient.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 F/180C.
For the topping:
1½ tbsp. per person of drained sun-dried tomatoes. Drain well on kitchen towels.
Put in mini food processor or blender to grind into a coarse paste.   Add peeled crushed garlic clove and 2-3 large green pr black olives person ,optional if you dislike them omit them).
Reserve covered.
Drain the fish from the marinade, towel it dry, and season it with salt and pepper. Then place the fish in a shallow, oiled dish.
Top with the sun-dried tomato puree and one fresh leaf of basil (optional). Divide the puree evenly between the fillets.
Mix 1½ tbsp. Panko or Japanese bread crumbs, or plain bread crumbs per fillet, with ¼ tsp salt and paprika (use sweet, hot or smoked as you prefer) and mix.
Use this to top the puree-covered fillets. Top with bread crumbs with fresh ground pepper. Place in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked. Thinner fillets may take only 20 minutes; cod is a thick fillet.
Spicy and savory, the fish does not get overcooked and the topping is crunchy. It looks remarkably elegant for very little effort. It is also very low cal, coming in at about 260 calories per serving.

Unleash your inner diva!

Gracey HitchcockThis is the time to have fun with your look, to indulge in a bit of fantasy. So go for it; pin a flower in your hair, wear nautical stripes, or unleash whatever your inner diva dictates. Darlings, life is too short not to indulge your feminine side and enjoy the sweetness of your womanly caprice.  

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Gracey Hitchcock
Gracey Hitchcock
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