beauty – fashion for the face

Pretty upscale packaging right?H&M

Who would believe that clothes giant H&M is launching a beauty and makeup line, which will hit some 900 stores worldwide this fall.  H&M is branding the new products — in sleek, gold-tinted packaging — as “fashion for the face.” The 700-item line will include makeup, hair care and skin care products, with prices ranging from $2.99 to $24.99.

“This is an opportunity to be inventive, creative and have fun with fashion and colors,” H&M Beauty’s concept designer Sara Wallander said in a statement.

A premium line and sustainable products certified by Ecocert will also be available, as will seasonal products.

There will be dedicated store areas for customers to try out different products, and the new line will also be available online.

When the Swedish brand came to America in 2000, opening its first store in Manhattan, it brought fast-fashion into the spotlight. H&M has mixed high- and low-fashion by featuring collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and more recently, Alexander Wang, among other designers. Balmain Is H&M’s Latest Designer Collaborator.

It might require taking a break from Sephora to check it out.

Source: News Wire Services

Style: wearable art

For the LOVE of SCARVESamodeda2Being a scarf person, I love all kinds of scarves in all kinds of fabrics (especially silk) from long enough to wear as a halter to short enough to just tie around your neck. They complete an outfit, help to keep you fashionably warm in the winter or light enough to wear decoratively instead of a necklace for any season. amodeda3What you see here are one-of-a-kind creations from, the brainchild of Elizabeth Schnitzker.  Elizabeth is from Argentina and has lived in Mexico. amoseda4I met Elizabeth at a recent function where not only did she stand out because of her gorgeous blond hair, but the scarf she was wearing caught my eye. Of course it would because it was different. I decided to ask her a few questions for the blog:

How did you get the name for your company and what made you decide to get into this business?

ES: Amoseda means Loving Silk. I fell in love with it 23 years ago when I was living in Germany. I love the feel, the interaction with the dye and paint, the totally involved process it is for me to finish one piece. It takes a lot of hours and love to have that special one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art completed. I love to see people finding the right one that suits their needs or the gift that will be given to that special loved one. Go figure, it can be mailed in an envelope! That was my key point for selling out last year at Christmas time.

That’s fantastic. Tell me more about your creations?

ES: This is an affordable luxury line, for customers who understand the craftsmanship of a one-of-a-kind design done on natural fibres shawls and scarves. Dyed, painted or both, the products used are European paints, local dyes and Indian Indigo of the highest quality to ensure the designs resist time, sun, washes, traveling and a lot of wear and tear from somebody who loves the piece and takes it from day to night, from casual to dress up and city to country to beach and the moon.
These scarves are conversation pieces, and something that transforms any given outfit.
Versatility, comfort, quality, are some of the words that describe Amoseda products.
My customers honour their uniqueness and that’s why chose to have a different accessory piece that makes them stand out in a stylish way.

Do you do custom orders?

ES: Custom-orders are available upon request for clients that desire a particular palette of colour mix, design, size or need it for a special occasion and would like that to be reflected on the scarf. Bridesmaids shawls are one of the examples.

Do you ever do repeats?

ES: I can repeat motives, but they will never look exactly the same, as the designs are not printed, they are individually painted and I don’t use anything other than my brushes and inspiration to develop them.

So the customer is really getting something unique. Do you plan on expanding the line?

ES: Currently I am developing a line for men in organic cotton, bamboo, silk and cashmere that will be dyed with natural Indigo, on top of the dyed and painted on silk.
Ties are being tested. Looking forward to see my line expand into formal wear as well.

Are they made entirely of silk and where do you import from?

ES: 100% Silk and silk blends as well as cashmere and cashmere blends are directly imported from Germany, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Thailand as well as China. Customers will find pashminas, thai silk, noil silk, habotai, silk velvet, linen and silk blends as well as silk cashmere and pure cashmere.

But you design them here in Vancouver?

ES: The designs are entirely done in Canada, and shipped internationally.

How about cleaning? I once had someone spill red wine on a beautiful beige pashmina which luckily was able to be drycleaned.

ES: I love Mother Nature as well and that’s why all the shawls are hand washable. No need to dry clean!




Product photographer: Andres Velez Posadas –  Logo and website: Pablo M. Margain

Something Sweet – Homemade Candy Bars

From savoury to sweetI’ve been making so much savoury the last while that it was time for a sweet treat – and I mean SWEET! This is the first time I’ve made chocolate bars from scratch.  Cakes, cookies, fudge, truffles, different types of chocolate bark and even brownies is what I’m used to, but never bars.  Just never attempted to try them before. Why now? Why not!barsThis recipe happens in 3 stages. The end result tastes like a deliciously rich fudge brownie with a caramel-like consistency in the middle.  Read through the whole ingredient list and instructions before diving in. If you want to attempt this (or any candy making) I really recommend that you buy a *candy thermometer or better still, a laser thermometer for this recipe.









  1. Line a 9×13” baking sheet with some parchment paper, leave a little bit spilling off the sides.

    speading it out

    spreading it out

  2. Melt chocolate and butter together and cool.
  3. Add eggs then remaining ingredients to the melted chocolate.
  4. Spread in your lined 9×13″ sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350′. DO NOT OVERCOOK.





  1. Mix ingredients together and then cook to “softball stage” over medium/low heat (softball stage means a candy thermometer reaches 240F ).second
  2. Spread over your baked layer.




  1. Melt together and spread carefully on top of powdered sugar mix.
  2. Cool in refrigerator for several hours until top chocolate layer is hard.
  3. Cut into small bars and store in refrigerator.

    I cut them into brownie-style squares

    I cut them into brownie-style squares and put unsweetened coconut on top – stage three.

  • Stage One was easy enough. The key with this first step is NOT to overcook the layer. So if you have an oven that runs hot, bring the baking time down by 1-2 minutes.
  • Stage Two – The softball stage is bit of a pain. *I didn’t have a candy thermometer and at the time I decided to make this, all the ingredients were in place except for the handy thermometer. Being the practical person that I am, I ended up using a meat thermometer instead – was too impatient to go out & buy a proper one on the spot. So I used one I have for roasts and it only goes up to 200F so I let it go up all the way to the very end past 200 (I figured this to be about 220) and left if for an additional 2 minutes.  Luckily for me it worked out fine but I wouldn’t normally recommend doing this.
  • Stage Three was no fuss.  You can find some fancy wrappers at a kitchen store or use plain parchment to wrap them.  They freeze well.
  • Stage Foureat and enjoy.  They’re sweet but not sickly sweet.  You may want to eat more than one but try to use control. I’m trying.


This is the food website of  Elettra Wiedemann, the daughter of Isabella Rossellini.


There are still a few tickets available for the DOWNTOWN FOOD & AGAVE SAFARI on Thursday May 28th – 7pm.

Join us to experience delicious food and drink pairings as we visit some of Vancouver’s top restaurants and watering holes. We start at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, and then we’ll board a trolley to culinary nirvana – exploring gastronomic delights at every stop -­ all exquisitely paired with tequila and mezcal to sip alongside the chefs’ creations! Stops at: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, Coast, Lift Bar & Grill, and Left Bank, before heading to Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar to end the night with…more culinary goodness paired with agave spirits!  Tickets: $95  Order tickets at :

Art – the price of good ART

Overheard at Christie’s auction house in New York City last week – “Will you give me 160, 160 million?” Even if I had the money I would not be so sure, but how nice to even be able to be in the running. Worth it, not Worth it – What is the value of good art?picasso-women-of-algiers_garance-dore-770x513Last week a Picasso painting broke the world record as the most expensive artwork to sell at auction when it went for a mere $179.4 million. While the final sale price was actually $160 million, a 12 per cent buyer’s premium was added to the astonishing total.
Definitely not pocket change.

The painting “Woman of Algiers” (Version O) beat out the previous title holder which was Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” in 2013. It made me wonder about what kind of price you can put on art and also who is buying these paintings? I believe that the identity of the buyer is not yet known.

While I admire the work of both of these major artists and love the paintings I somehow can’t get over the prices. Even so, I wouldn’t mind having a substantial painting gracing a wall in my home.

The Picasso oil painting is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O.
This is an absolutely blockbuster picture – it’s one of the most exciting pictures that we’ve seen on the market for 10 years,” said Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of the Fine Art Fund Group.

“Yes there are one or two [Picassos] that could even smash that record but it has a huge wall presence, it’s a big show-off picture.”

“For anybody that wants to have a major Picasso, this is it – and $179m in 10 years’ time will probably look inexpensive,” said Hoffman.

I don’t know, it seems pretty exorbitant to me right now. Imagine? Never say never but that probably leaves me out of the running for ever owning a major player painting.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

contemplating…what makes a good ENTREPRENEUR

On Thursday evening I was at the Vancouver Club with a room full of budding young entrepreneurs yeah, I know what was I doing there? to hear Vikram Vij give an empowering and heartfelt talk about his success story and what it took to get him where he is today.

Vikram & Rosa

with Vikram & my friend Rosa

From growing up in India, to training in Austria to finally making a home in Vancouver with three successful restaurants, a food truck, a cookbook, curry products sold in many stores across Canada and drumroll….having been one of the judges on Dragon’s Den – it’s been a humble and intriguing journey.

The people in the room were from the Pacific Club which is a group that connects and inspires Vancouver’s young professionals. There were some very interesting people. One of them was my friend Paul Davidescu who has a startup venture called Tangoo (the pocket concierge app for organizing the perfect outing to help bring people together in social and network gatherings). Tangoo was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, was given an offer which they turned down and after that Paul approached Vikram who then decided to help finance the company which is turning out to be a success story in it’s own right. Vikram said he invested in the person, not just the idea.  He was sold on Paul’s enthusiasm and belief in the enterprise.  It’s not just a money making venture for him.

The Tangoo Team

The Tangoo Team

Paul Davidescu - photo: Globe & Mail

Paul Davidescu – photo: Globe & Mail

It was refreshing to hear him speak because Vikram believes that it’s about building relationships. It should not occur to you to make business a means to only make money. Put your love, passion and desire into your business – if you don’t create the most flavourful dish and put effort into everything that goes into it, it’s like dating a beautiful woman but there’s no chemistry.  All the ingredients have to be balanced.

Rosa & me

Rosa (Paul’s mom) is my confidante, running buddy & of late, Spanish Instructor extraordinaire.

He believes in working together. You always need somebody next to you in order to become successful – a partner, friend, someone who understands where you’re coming from and believes in you. Very important!

When someone tells him his food is terrible (like that ever happens) – he likens it to hurting as much as someone telling you that you have an ugly child.  It is taken to heart.

His food philosophy is similar to that of living in an Indian village – buy local. He prefers to buy produce, fruit and wine where they are grown. We are so lucky here in British Columbia. We have an ocean that produces sustainable seafood, produce and wines from the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley. We need to know that what we have here is incredible. He used the spices that come from India together with local fare to create an interesting mix which turns out to be a pleasing combination.

His advice:
Learn from the best mentors.  Don’t think you know it all. Always be a student and a sponge – learn from people. No one is above another. You can learn something from everyone.  Pierre Elliott Trudeau once came into his restaurant and waited in line like everyone else. An example is if he could wait so could everyone else. If you have nothing to talk about for 30 to 45 minutes chilling & hanging out at the back of the restaurant what are you doing out eating with this person anyway?

Travel the world, go to different parts to experience the local cuisine and music. When you sit together, eat together and you enjoy each others company you can talk about anything. Guns and Politics will never help to solve the problems of the world. Music & Cuisine bring people together.  On another musical note, RIP “King of the Blues” BB  – I’m so lucky to have heard you and your beautiful Lucille live on stage at the CNE in Toronto many years ago.

Vij's Original


New for Vikram: Rangoli (next to Vij’s) – is a brand new concept restaurant. Instead of expanding Vij’s which would have been simpler he created something different.  He always chooses to create fresh ideas & new concepts. My Shanti in South Surrey is also totally different from the other two. Vij’s Railway Express is a take on Indian street food – excellent examples of Indian Fare that’s a bit of a stretch from the “all too familiar” dishes like Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka.

vij1He prefers to push the limits with a desire to change things.

Sound advice from a pro – I think I’ll take that to heart.

check out the Tangoo App here:

Where to buy Vij’s 15 varieties of frozen curry products:

what MATTERS: the bond between HUMAN & DOG

Brad & Kira11011566_10152718400661852_8284452701846702819_n

Brad is my brother and Kira is my niece.  Even though she’s a dog, Kira is still my niece.  Dogs are family and family is everything.  I sadly just found out that Kira was diagnosed with untreatable cancer.  I thought I would share something that Brad posted about the relationship between the two.  Something  that only those who have dogs can relate to.  Sometimes our bonds with animals are stronger than our bonds with people.  I think it’s because our animals (dogs in particular) don’t ask anything of us other than love.  It’s totally unconditional and so amazing that I feel sorry for those who have not experienced it (especially if they don’t have children). Brad & Kira Here is what Brad wrote:

This is the year my baby girl is supposed to turn 13. Given the way I raised her, I fully expect her to live into her late teens. Regardless of how long I am lucky enough to have her in my world, it won’t be nearly long enough. Anyone who owns a pet can attest to that.

When I look at my girl lying in the grass, sprinting up a hill, or swimming in her favorite watering hole, immeasurable warmth overtakes me. Over the past year or so I’ve been filled with urgency to express my gratitude for what she’s brought to my life, in many little ways. Even though she may not know what I’m saying, I still tell her; I love her, as if she does. My ritual has been to visit her on her daybed every night, kiss her on the head and tell her she means the world to me. I then wish her; love, health, happiness and longevity.

When I’m in town, she accompanies me to my office every day and sits in the big bay window in front of my desk. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s startled me and made me nearly jump out of my chair. Whenever someone walks by, or when she sees the cat that loves to torment her, or for any other reason that makes sense to her, she’ll start to bark.

I’d be lying if I said a shrill bark, reverberating off the glass didn’t bother me. More times than I care to admit I was on a radio interview, or on a conference call, only to realize there was nothing I could do until the person walked out of range, or the cat finally got bored and left. As much as I love that 17 pound ball of fur, those were the times I didn’t like her very much.

Well, yesterday it happened again! I was working away in my office, and sure enough she started to bark because something got her attention. My reaction however, was quite different this time; as I just stopped what I was doing and watched her until she calmed down.

It was as if I didn’t want her to stop barking, as it made me realize how alive she was. Instead of getting angry with her, I just smiled and told her in a gentle voice that it was ok, and then I said; I love you. And then I cried, uncontrollably and harder than I could ever remember, for what seemed a long, long time. The last time I cried like that was over 20 years ago when my mother passed away. I honestly thought I’d forgotten how to cry, but I didn’t.

You see, just the other day I found out my little girl has cancer and it seems to have spread almost overnight. I was hiking with her a couple of weeks ago, went on a 7-day speaking tour, and when I returned home she was different.

Gone was the 10 minute routine when I walked through the door, the one that always made me feel like I was her entire world. Instead I was met with a bit of a whimper and a slight wag of her tail, which seemed to take all the effort in the world to raise. There was sadness behind those beautiful brown eyes, and she just stared at me as if to say; Daddy, there’s something wrong, why do I feel this way.

So you see, even in the things that trigger you or make you angry, you can find love if you look deep enough. So now I can’t wait to hear her bark, and every time it happens I will smile and fill my heart with gratitude for having her in my world for as long as she’s willing to stick around.

Please send love and light her way, as she truly is an incredible little soul, and I wish so deeply for her to feel well again.11020261_10153363222311424_8027077531756354233_nYou bet Brad!

Feel-good Friday: FLAMENCO frenzy!

Have you ever seen, or remember the last time you saw a live Flamenco performance?

Kino Cafe

Kino Cafe

Last week I thought it about time to take in a show or two with a visiting friend who is a Flamenco singer.  Soulful, joyful, powerful, angry, sad and beautiful all rolled into one dance…that is so alive.

East is East

East is East

Thought I had a little bit of a gypsy in me when about 15 years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to dance Flamenco.  It was mostly to do with the tiered flouncy dresses and shoes.  I mean how feminine and nice are they? But I also love Spanish guitar.  After about 3 months of clapping and stomping my feet I decided to give it up.  My feet were getting sore and besides, no male partner!  It really is a difficult dance that takes years to properly learn.  After that it was salsa, west coast swing and tango, which I still do.

You know how to express the song when you’re carrying the pain of centuries with you. The Gypsy who knows how to do this gets it from his ancestors ahh, that explains things…These are real experiences which have accumulated within him…He suffers them; he lives them; he remembers all his own.

Pedro Peña/Gypsy Flamenco Singer & Guitaristflamenco1

To truly understand what flamenco is, you must know the cante (the song) very well. Flamenco is born in the cante, and if you take the experience of cante away from young people, they’re left with no roots. They’re left with empty musical forms, and when they build on them, they build without understanding the emotional substance that characterizes and differentiates the various forms.”

Manolo Sanlucar/Guitarrista

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive” – Hafiz.

beauty that makes scents: Frankincense

Only wise women use Frankincensefrank3

The word Frankincense comes from the word “franc encens” which means quality incense in old French.

Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia frereana) is a tree or shrub that produces a gum or resin that can be steam distilled into an essential oil with HUGE health benefits. Although frankincense trees can be grown anywhere, they are most popular in the middle east and the region of Oman is known for producing the best, highest quality oils today.

The Tree

The Tree

Frankincense has long been esteemed as being holy in the Middle East. Remember the old bible story about the three wise guys who came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? Once three of the most prized items in the world, two now mostly forgotten and overlooked.  Frankincense has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda medicine and for the first time is being taken seriously by medical science. Thanks to some scientists, Frankincense may again be worth its weight in gold.

Frankincense is known to have emotional and spiritual affects because of its high vibrational aroma which is why it is commonly used in prayer and meditation.  But aside from all that, basically I just love the scent.  It is one of the oils used in the “Divine Hydrating Facial Mist.”  It is believed that the oil will transmit messages to the limbic system of the brain which is known to influence the nervous system. A little bit of oil goes a long way. Frankincense oil is known to improve skin tone, heal cuts and grazes and infected skin. When combined with the other oils used and the floral waters (especially rose) it is extremely beneficial as a treatment for dry, mature or wrinkled skin. It also helps to lessen the appearance of scarring.

Most people have heard of this essential oil, many have tried it but sometimes it’s nice to know a little more about the overall benefits:frankincenseFrankincense has many uses.  Traditionally it was burned as incense, and also charred and ground into a powder to produce the heavy kohl eyeliner used by Egyptian women.

Now used in skin care products, it is known for its ability to prevent and reduce wrinkling.
To use the oil in meditation, add four drops to a vaporizer. As you inhale the oil, it helps to slow down and deepen the breath which in turn brings a sense of peace, restores balance and opens the mind, increasing awareness and spiritual understanding. It is also thought to help the release of past traumas, helping someone coping with grief to ‘let go’ and come to terms.
On a totally different note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAYBELLINE.  Going strong & still looking good at 100 years old!
 Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline!

Remember that slogan? To this day the company’s pink+green Great Lash Mascara is still a top seller.  The company has released a 100 year Milestone limited edition “commemoration collection” available in stores today. Prices range from $4.49 to $9.99.  So if you’re not born with it….go out and buy it.  Isn’t that what they want us to do?

STYLE in Film – with IRIS


IRIS Apfel

IRIS Apfel

I am so going to see this documentary!  I’m sure it will be rated right up there with other favourite arty ones I really enjoyed like Herb and Dorothy, Searching for Sugarman  and Valentino: The Last Emperor

With more than a dash of eccentricity and over 75 years in fashion and interior design, Iris Apfel is an inspiring life force well into her ninth decade.  She’s strong, quick-witted and always flamboyantly dressed.  Iris retains her enthusiasm for life in fashion, art and people.  What I admire about her is that she’s completely unique – true to herself with good values and work ethic.  Sadly there are not enough women like her.

Iris says:

About her style: “I like to improvise”

“Someone told me you’re not pretty, you’ll never be pretty but it doesn’t matter, you have something much better – you have STYLE!”  I couldn’t agree more.

“It’s better to be happy than well dressed”

“I feel lucky to be working.  If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.”

A woman is as old as she looks, but a man is never old until he stops looking

Watch the clip: and if you’re the least bit into style (of course you are, you’re reading this) then GO SEE IT!  I know I can’t wait to.images (1)

From the Director of Grey Gardens (I thought it was excellent) and Gimme Shelter – Albert Maysles

Two years ago I posted about Iris: