Baby, I’m Giving You Up

Do you know what’s great? Food.

I’m not really picky about it. Candy is my biggest weakness, followed swiftly by baking. Then comes the other usual suspects; pizza, anything you could serve for brunch, and all forms of caffeine.

So when I have to choose between food and my vanity, believe me, I’m torn. Because I’ve just found out that dairy is triggering the eczema that’s plagued me since I was a teenager.

ice cream
Hello, beautiful.

Do you know what dairy is in? Everything delicious.

How’s it going, pretty?

And do you know how difficult it is to switch from lattes to long blacks when you’re trying to finish a book? (Great success there by the way, but more on that later.)

I miss you, my lovely.

The worst part is that dropping dairy has worked. So now I have to stick with it. Although I’ve gotta say, my skin in general is glowing. So if vanity wins, at least it wins big time.

Have you given anything up lately? Also, does anyone have good recommendations for dairy-free treats?

How To Be A Skinny Mini With No Friends

Happy New Year! This is typically when people think about goals for the year ahead, and I’ll admit I fall into that trap. But I like to set the bar low for any resolutions. Really low, so I’m almost guaranteed to feel smug by December.

So, none of this losing weight, or becoming neat and tidy. I would fail. This year I’m aiming to have matching underwear more often. Cross your fingers for me, I have a terrible track record at this!

The goal to lose weight must still be a favourite though, as all of the lifestyle sites I read are currently full of tips and tricks to lose weight without trying. Which is fine, but this one nearly made me choke on my coffee. Can you imagine trying to hold a conversation with someone doing these “hard to notice” movements?!


“So anyway, Claire, then I told my boss-”

*fingers tapping on the table*

“Sorry, am I annoying you? We don’t have to talk about work.”

“No, it’s fine, please continue.”

“OK… So I told my boss-”

*eye roll*

“Seriously, what have I done?”


I’ll stick with the gym, I think.

The Not-So-Sweet Life


Every now and then I’ll be persuaded to go on a health kick. The guilty culprit this time is my husband. He’s given up sugar and caffeine, like some sort of sadist. Who does that?! They have to be the top two best things in life!

Now, while you can pry my coffee out of my cold, dead hands, I do have a problem with my sweet tooth. I’ve been a sugar fiend since I was a kid. Probably one of the few way to ensure good behaviour from me when I was younger was to bribe me with candy. Actually, that’s still one of the few ways to ensure good behaviour from me.

So, fine, I’m also trying to reduce sugar. No cheating allowed – my beloved diet coke is also gone! The first two days were a bit tricky, but now I’m finding I’m coping with the help of a lot of sweet fruity herbal teas. Surely that alone means I’m a bit healthier?

Have you gone on a health kick lately? Or even given up sugar? If you have any tips for sustaining it, help a girl out!

P.S. Am I the only one that now has this tune on repeat in my head? It’s also the song we played when my husband and I were cutting the cake on our wedding day. Still get mushy when I hear it.

Oil Pulling: Would You?

Thank you everyone for your flu remedies! I’m feeling so much better now, although I’ve probably had enough lemon and honey drinks to last me a lifetime. I even lost my voice for a couple of days – the husband was quite amused at my attempts to keep chatting by using hand gestures and hand-written signs.

While making full use of my returned voice, I was talking to a friend about oil pulling. I mentioned I do it most mornings. You just swill some oil, in my case coconut, around your mouth for about 20 minutes. I combine mine with a shower, killing two birds with one stone.

Mmm, goopy
Mmm, goopy

The benefits I’ve noticed are whiter teeth, cleaner mouth in general, and fresher breath. Some people think it helps with things like eczema and acne as well, just by reducing the amount of bacteria generally in your body. I have no idea if that’s true, but hey, it probably won’t hurt.

My friend thought this sounded disgusting. Words may have been mentioned, including but not limited to, “silly hippie”. To be fair, it did take getting used to. Coconut oil is solid when you first get a teaspoonful, then melts thanks to your body temperature. Holding oily liquid in your mouth for 20 minutes certainly feels a little odd at first. Olive oil would probably be too far for me, purely because of taste.

But hey, I like whiter teeth, and am not willing to go to the dentist for it! So the oil stays.

How about you, would you give oil pulling a whirl? Or are you joining my friend in shaking your head at the silly things some hippies will do?

Attack Of The Peak Flu Season

Approach with caution

While everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying the heat of summer, here in New Zealand, we’ve hit mid-winter. While I wrote before about the benefits of staying home to write next to a glorious wood fire, there is a downside. Everyone is sick right now, including me.

I am usually a pretty brave, soldier on, kind of sick person. Not this time! It hit at the end of last week, with such force that I crawled into bed and stayed there for two days. The husband was at first amused, then happy to join me over the weekend, all cuddled up while he read a book and I kept sleeping. Ladies, if you find a man who likes to snuggle, put a ring on it!

I’m almost better now, but ironically, I sound worse than ever. My voice has completely disappeared. I’m far too much of a chatter box to let this stop me, so I’m just squeaking and creaking all over the place while people try to keep a straight face.

So, writing’s been on the back burner for a couple of days, but don’t worry, straight back into it tomorrow. Gotta get that second book ready to go so you guys aren’t left hanging too long after I release the first!

Have you been sick lately? And please, any home remedies, share them with me!

What makes a great kiss?


Happy International Kissing Day! Yes, you read that right, and no, I’m not making this up. It really is a thing, apparently designed to make us remember the joys of kissing for kissing’s sake. Personally I’m well aware of how awesome that is, but I suppose it never hurts to get the reminder in there.

It got me thinking about what makes a really good make out session. I think partly it’s chemistry: you either want to jump someone’s bones, or you don’t. No matter how technically attractive a person might be, if you don’t have chemistry, it’s just not going to be a great kiss.

I’m not entirely sure what chemistry really boils down to, but part of it has to be a connection with a person. I like to joke that I’m sapiosexual, which means you’re aroused by someone who’s intelligent. But in all seriousness, if we can’t have a good conversation, I’m not interested!

There’s another criteria that I do think needs to be put out there: hygiene. Funky breath is gross at the best of times, but if you want to swap spit with me, you’re going to need at least average maintenance. It’s basic manners.

Beyond that, kissing is pure fun. It’s apparently linked to stress relief, which I can believe, because after a stressful day I love to pull my husband aside and make out with him in the kitchen! It also works out your facial muscles which makes you look younger. Bonuses all round.

What do you think makes a great kiss? Did you realise we had a day dedicated to this?

Love thyself. And cats.


This drifted across my twitter feed this morning, and made me laugh far louder than is decent. There’s no life lesson that can’t be improved with cats.

On a more serious note, body angst is something that so many people deal with every day. We might think of ourselves as a series of interchanging parts, where this bit should be bigger, that bit should be smaller, and then everything will be ok. Except, we’re not cars. We’re people, with bodies that are capable of so much more than fitting into somebody else’s mould.

One of the first pieces of (unsolicited) advice I received when I first started writing romance is that you should always be positive about the woman’s body. You can be as idealistic with her suitor as you want, rippling muscles, the whole bit. It is, after all, a fantasy escape for many readers. But for the woman you shouldn’t be afraid to put in “flaws”, as long as you talk about them positively.

I was slightly confused by this advice. Not because I disagreed with it, but more that the person (a respected editor who know the industry well) felt it was necessary to mention. Shouldn’t we always talk about the women in our books positively? Have a range of gorgeous people, who spark desire in others? Particularly in romance, where bodies will be talked about, sometimes in great detail?

I live a lot of my life according to the principle that the personal is political. I make choices every day knowing that it could impact someone else’s choices, and trying to leave the world slightly better than how I found it. So I suppose while this idea of body positivity wasn’t new to me, perhaps it would be to others. Perhaps while I hadn’t even considered it to be an issue, maybe others wouldn’t have considered it to be a problem.

Anyway, I love the cat advice. Make like a cat today, and love your cute behind no matter what shape it is. And maybe find someone who’ll make you purr.

Beauty Secrets: Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine

Everyone raves about introducing oils to their skin care routine, but have you ever tried sweet almond oil? It’s the best shortcut I’ve ever found for great skin, nails, and hair.


I have particularly sensitive skin. Not sensitive in terms of “ouch this thing kind of burns”, but more like “oh man, I used the wrong mascara and now all the skin on my eyelids has peeled off leaving only a disgusting scab behind”. It’s not very attractive. It’s so bad, I can’t even use the coconut oil everyone raves about, because it’s just too heavy and my skin revolts

Apart from avoiding stress, I’ve found a simple routine is the best thing I can do for my skin. Enter sweet almond oil.

Not only is this stuff ridiculously cheap and found in most supermarkets, it’s also an all-star in terms of delivering vitamins to nourish your skin and hair. It reduces inflammation, so not only will it not cause me to break out in hives, it will also settle any reactions I’m having if I’ve been a bit stressed out lately.

One of the most surprising features is the impact on whiteheads and blackheads. Even though I’m now reaching late twenties, my skin still thinks it’s a teenager. But if I put almond oil on daily, blackheads are cleared out before they even start. A large blind pimple on my neck didn’t respond to a face mask, but disappeared in 24 hours after I put almond oil on it. It truly is a miracle worker!

They only caveat is the amount of time the oil takes to settle into your skin. I’m talking several hours. The way I get around that is using a normal moisturiser with SPF during the day, then when I take off my makeup at night, smothering my face and neck with almond oil. If my hair’s a bit frazzled, I’ll also run some oil through the ends and plait it. Wash it out with shampoo in the morning, and it will be baby soft and well behaved!

Do you have any beauty all-stars? Share your tips, it’s only fair!

Sex as a gift, or sex as violence?

A thought that’s always uppermost in my mind when I’m writing is the genre. Romance. I’m writing a love story, and part of love (hopefully!) is steamy sex, where sparks fly, and all you can think about for days afterwards is that person.

Recently I’ve come across some things that have made me wonder if I’m alone in this view. Revenge porn. Porn in general. Some people seem to see sex as a weapon to use against other people.

A friend of mine recently had pictures of her published on a web site. They weren’t as bad as they could have been, but her job gives her a high profile, and word quickly got around about the pictures. She’s stood down from her job for a while, until it all blows over. These were snaps she took willingly, for a person she was with and trusted at that time. More fool her, huh?

I also made the mistake recently of viewing Hot Girls Wanted. This is a documentary about the amateur porn industry, and it’s unflinching in looking at how the women are treated. It includes abuse videos, which I was possibly naive in thinking wouldn’t be that common. They are.

How could someone possibly find these things sexually enjoyable? Viewing pictures without a person’s consent, knowing they were never meant for you? Viewing video of a pretty young girl being screamed at, beaten, and then made to perform sexually?

It’s always uppermost in my mind when I write, that I want the characters having sex to enjoy themselves. There may be all sorts of internal conflicts about whether they should want it, but they do. Those are always the scenes that are hottest to me. Where people want each other, get each other off, and then bask in the glow together afterwards.

Romance books are often called lady porn (my preferred term) or mummy porn. I don’t mind people seeing it as porn, despite the stigma attached to it. Although I’d like to think there’s a lot stronger story than your average porn video! I’d probably enjoy watching porn as well as reading it, if sex was shown as something beautiful and consensual. Sex is probably one of the easiest ways to flood our brains with happy chemicals and bond with another person. What a wonderful gift to be able to share.

There’s probably little we can do to stop certain people from treating sex as a weapon. All I think we can do is celebrate it in our own lives. Never give in to those who would want us to be ashamed of it, and our bodies. And always be as sure as we can be that those we share it with are trustworthy.

The struggle is real


Today started off with a tofu, banana and vanilla soy milk smoothie. I highly recommend it if you have a sweet tooth, it tastes like a vanilla milkshake.

But as the day has continued, good intentions are being buried below the desire for the chocolate cake a colleague baked… And if you’re anything like me, you know that doesn’t stop at one piece.

Then I saw this picture on Facebook, and just had to laugh! Quick, share you self-control tips with me, or all my good healthy intentions are going out the window!