Health MATTERS: a few noteworthy facts

Here are six interesting research-backed food facts – some that might seem a bit shocking.  Something to talk about at your next cocktail party – it’s amazing to find out how much food and nutrition info. we don’t know.


Source: Purdue, Tafts

Source: Purdue, Tafts

Source: NY Times,  Journal of Pain.

Source: NY Times, Journal of Pain.

Source: Cinnabon, Coca-Cola

Source: Cinnabon, Coca-Cola

Source: Starbucks

Source: Starbucks

So watch out for this

So watch out for this.  I used to drink vodka & soda.

Some thoughts…

If I had to choose I would much rather put extra calories into a big gooey cinnamon bun than a soft drink.

Know your ingredients. Unless you look up the ingredients how in the world would you know that Starbucks was colouring their frappuccinos with ground up bugs? I used to drink those too.

Invest in a black light.

Your thoughts?


Feel-good Friday: Celebration

It’s beginning to look a lot like Hanukkah and Christmas!hannukah2

Colorful candles burning bright, each lit on eight very special nights.hannukah3

Some simple decorative displays such as these look lovely and festive!

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.20141208_085008


I hope your candles and tree lights burn bright and that you feel a warm glow and everything works out right.



Beauty biz: hidden beauty

Some things are just better covered uptheBalm_timeBalm_Concealer_7_5g_1370527094

“time Balm” concealer review.

A friend of mine in the know told me that this was “the best concealer ever” so I went on a hunt for it.  When I couldn’t find it at Sephora I stopped searching but as luck goes I recently came across it by accident in a local boutique.

My thoughts:

Texture – soft and creamy but it stays put and doesn’t cake.

Naturalness – It has absolutely no shine to draw attention to the area and looks natural.

Coverage – medium to full (you can build coverge but a little will go a long way).

Ingredients – Packed with beneficial ingredients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Soybean Oil, Panthenol, Linoleic Acid and Phospholipids.

Packaging – so-so but it is easily portable which makes it perfect for travel.  It comes with a little sponge but you don’t really need it – fingers are fine.  Maybe the sponge helps to make the product last longer.

*A lot of women use concealer to cover up dark under eye circles but I tend not to use it for this reason as I’m always worried it will bring more attention to the area.  I’ve read that this works well for under eyes but can’t vouch for it myself. Great for spot coverage and redness.

BONUS: the company makes a perfect face primer – on my wish list for next time.

Where to get:  In Vancouver – Wish List Boutique (2811 West Broadway) $20

Style: Coffee-Table BOOKS

The most STYLISH of courseComposite

Louis Vuitton Fashion Photography, a new Rizzoli tome by Charlotte Cotton and Martin Harrison, celebrates the house’s history with striking images from its archives, including the picture below, taken for Bazaar in 1959.

By Gleb Derujinsky  taken for Bazaar in 1959.

By Gleb Derujinsky

montecarlo1A cure-all for seasonal wanderlust, Pamela Fiori’s In the Spirit of Monte Carlo roams the Rock of Monaco….palmbeach2

while Harry Benson and Hilary Geary Ross’s Palm Beach People offers an insider’s look at a belowed getaway.


palmbeach1Bonus: From Louis Vuitton’s THE ART OF PACKING 

Packing Order: start by putting the heaviest items flat at the bottom of the suitcase.  Place your toiletries bag with its base against the side.

Shoes: put shoes in felt bags.  The empty space inside each shoe can be used for belts, accessories and socks.

Jacket/Pants/Shirt: to reduce creasing, interlace your jacket with pants and a skirt.  First, button the jacket and lay it face up and flat.  Fold pants in half and put on top.  Place the skirt, folded lengthwise, on top of the pants.  Then fold in the sleeves and the bottom of the jacket over the top.

Accessories: place on top of clothing to keep it from moving.

Evening: Additional space can be used for a dress, folded in half.

MY travel/packing tips:

On a flight stay comfortable, warm (but cool) & stylish by wearing something like black leggings with a t-shirt and long thin sweater over top in a neutral color (black always looks chic) and carry a shawl that you can use as a blanket. Wear comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on/off.

I get a lot of mileage out of rolling casual wear like t-shirts, jeans and khaki’s (flight attendant tips).

Neutrals are great because you can mix ‘n match & not get too tired of your clothing.

Also, I try to double up on things as much as possible.  Like an evening shawl which fits into a small soft purse which can be used as an evening bag.  I always pack a light windproof shell and a *bathing suit cover up that can also be used as a nightgown. A *bathing suit can be squished anywhere there’s space to keep things from moving.

A straw hat that can be folded and still retain its shape.

More companies should make convenient *travel wear.

*I have a seamless long dress that has a completely different pattern on the inside so it can be worn inside or out - two dresses in one.  It can be worn out for evening or a thin t-shirt underneath dresses it down for daytime with flats.  I thought this was a brilliant idea for travelling but have never seen them again.  I have bought a long t-shirt that does the same thing – turn it inside out and it’s a different colour.

An additional soft folding bag (I love my Longchamp - it folds into 3 sizes and can be used as a carryon or stored in checked luggage and extended if need be to bring extra stuff back.  I have to report that on my last trip it was surprisingly kept to normal size.

A good size purse (if using leather, stiff is best as it retains its shape) to fit all the essentials…passport, wallet, phone, tablet, slippers, hand cream, snacks, some toiletries and other personal items.

*Also it’s a good idea to bring a change of underwear and toothbrush/toothpaste in your carry on…just in case your luggage gets lost in the shuffle.  Also plugs for phone/tablet.

 Please share any additional packing tips that you may have.





Food – Festive Fruitcake with a twist

Get into the holiday spirit with this delicious fruit cake recipe from chef Lynn Crawford as seen on the Marilyn Denis show.  fruitcakeI love fruit and I love cake – but not traditional fruitcake. This is a different take on the regular dried fruit variety which I’ve never grown accustomed to.  This version is much nicer.

Christmas Spice & Fruit Cake                                                                                    (makes 1 10″ cake)

14 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for pan

1 3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried pears, finely diced

1/2 cup dried apricots, finely diced

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup sundried cranberries

*1/4 cup of finely chopped candied ginger (optional, my choice)

1/4 cup of candied orange rind, finely chopped

1/4 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

3 large eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 10-by-2 inch round cake pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter parchment.  Set aside.

2. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 Tablespoons butter with 3/4 cup brown sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is combined and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan and swirl to cover bottom evenly.  Let cool completely. Sprinkle the dried fruit and walnut evenly onto the bottom of the pan.

3.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour.  Set aside.

4. Pour batter to the prepared pan and bake until done, about an hour.  Test with a cake inserter in the middle to make sure it is not still wet.  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan 20 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

Top with Vanilla Nutmeg Cream:

2 cups 35% cream

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix cream and sugar in a large bowl and whit until peaks form.  Fold in nutmeg and vanilla.

If you make it let me know how you like it.

Travel: the forgotten city of PETRA

PETRA might be thousands of years old but it was recently selected as one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World!   A well deserved honour.petrajordan1

If the above photograph looks familiar it’s because you’ve seen it before in the last scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  The “treasury” serves as a secret temple lost for hundreds of years. In the film’s climactic final scenes, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq (the narrow gorge passageway leading in) and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Making the trek to Petra infact feels like you could be in an Indiana Jones movie as the lead up is mysterious but once you’re there it is truly an amazing sight to behold.  Hidden deep in the mountains,  one has to be there in person to really witness it as the ancient place is impossible to capture in normal still photographs. Literally carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world.  The City was rediscovered by a young Swiss explorer by the name of Johan Ludwig Burckhardt  in 1812.

I made the trek crossing over from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt (where I was staying) to Eilat in Israel and then over to Petra, in Jordan.  The borders are actually fairly close to each other so it didn’t take as long as it seems – maybe 3 hours.  From Ammn in Jordon we took a bus ride for about two hours along nothing but sand tracks in the desert. Then the fun began; we rode on horseback until we reached the ancient red city carved in rock.  We left our horses there and entered through the very narrow gorge (the Siq, shown in photo above) with a breathtaking view of the building called the “Treasury”.

It is called the “rose red city” for a good  reason.  Temples, tombs and other buildings are all carved out of the red sandstone cliffs.  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.

At its peak the city of Petra was home to some 20,000 Nabataeans who, in the midst of the desert, built an ingenious system of waterways to provide their city with the precious liquid.

Since the early 1800s, when it was “rediscovered,” clues to daily life in this “lost city of stone” are being unearthed and today we are beginning to see once again what Petra looked like 2,000 years ago.

Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, Petra was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.

I feel incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to make this trek and witness in person the physical splendour of this ancient city.

Words…family traditions

All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way – Leo Tolstoygrinch

Most people assume that Christmas is hardest for children who’ve stopped believing in Santa Claus.  But I think the holidays are the most difficult for those who have experienced a recent loss, through death or divorce, particularly if this is the first or second holiday after their world has been torn under.

Many single mothers often feel uncomfortable at Christmas and unconsciously convey this discomfort to their children.  Perhaps one of the reasons single women and mothers experience difficulty during Christmastime is because, deep in their hearts, they think holiday traditions belong only to perfect Norman Rockwell families.

One of the most important aspects about family traditions – rituals that families continue to do year after year – is that traditions have symbols and families need symbols.  You decorate with the same ornaments, you bring out the old glass, wear a certain outfit , set the table in a certain way, things like that.  These are the unconscious moments of family ritual that become emotional security blankets to be tugged on in times of stress.  Cherished customs that are just as important for grownups as they are for children. Rituals bring comfort and joy.

We need to decorate the tree, light the menorah, make the valentines, dye the easter eggs, attend the Passover seder, etc. Our souls can never outgrow the yearning for luminous moments of wholeness.

So unpack those beloved holiday traditions.  Create new ones that express your authenticity, just as you create a new lifestyle.  Traditions are the guidelines driven deep into our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are the ones we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.

Source: Simple Abundance – a daybook of comfort and joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach


Health MATTERS – fun facts about fruits & vegetables

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are well known but here are some fun facts:kiwi3

kiwi2The only fruit that has its seeds on the outer skin is the strawberry.

The only vegetable that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any form other than fresh is lettuce.

Almonds are members of the peach family.

Tomatoes are a fruit.

Bananas, mangoes, peaches, and avocados are pollinated by bats.

Corn always has an even amount of ears.

A pineapple isn’t a single fruit – it’s a group of berries that have fused together.

Kiwi is neither a fruit nor a vegetable. kiwi1 It’s a flightless bird native to New Zealand.  New Zealanders also like to refer to themselves as “kiwis”, but they find it irritating when we refer to “kiwifruit” as just “kiwi”.


Feel-good Friday: wallflowers

wallflower1wallflower2A wall of poinsettias , a single white rose and a wall full of potted orchids to  brighten up a rainy day.

You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.

Potted *Poinsettias we always see around Christmas so it’s a bit unusual and refreshing to see a wild poinsettia tree in a warm climate.


You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food, and cars, but once you’re hooked on orchids, you’re finished. You never get off orchids…never. – Joe Kunisch (Commercial Orchid Grower: the first quote of a book called “orchid fever.”)

*Do you ever wonder how the poinsettia became recognized as the Christmas flower?

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettia’s and Christmas come together. 

It involves a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services.

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only offer this small present. As she walked through the chapel to the altar,  she began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena‘, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

The Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar.

Photos: d. king