Travel/Lifestyle – Tree messages vs e-messages

In today’s age where everyone has either the latest Android or iPhone who has time to leave a handwritten message?  Texting is where it’s at!  History reveals itself…message5To go back in time…well just a little, to the romanticism of the handwritten note.  There is a centuries old Acacia tree (knows as the Thorn Tree) in the heart of Nairobi where travelers have been leaving messages pinned to its branches over the years to date.  The messages reveal personalities that will enthrall you with their heartfelt charm, humor and occasional romance.message4 It is found at the legendary bistro style pavement café of yesteryear called the “Thorn Tree Café” at the Sarova Stanley hotel.  It is a Nairobi landmark known as the country’s first luxury hotel, a place many people stay before heading out to safari including yours truly.  The message board is situated in the centre of the restaurant.

The Stanley (now the Sarova Stanley) played host to a long line of living legends including Ernest Hemingway.  It was in a Stanley hotel room during 1933/34 he stayed recuperating from an illness following a hunting trip to Kilimanjaro and thought up themes and wrote some of his famous short stories and books, several of which mentioned the Sarova Stanley. message3These books, which were to make him a household name across the world, included The Green Hills of Africa (1935); The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936); and The Happy Ending, retitled The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

The Stanley has also been, at various times, the base for classic Hollywood film idols such as Stewart Granger, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Gregory Peck. Not to mention notable entertainers like Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, who at the time was married to Ava Gardner. This shows its rich heritage and epitomizes affluence that appeals the elite class and celebrities who are searching for top hotels in Nairobi.

In recent times the hotel has hosted modern stars like Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Wild at heart), Michael Caine, Sidney Poitier (To Sir with Love), Barbra Streisand and James Bond himself, the ageless Sean Connerymessage2message1

From time immemorial the café has been the perfect meeting place for friends and offers a remarkable dining experience in the central business district. It has a deli counter, serves pizzas from a wood-fired oven, fresh juices, beers, the widest range of coffees and a varied menu which includes popular continental and nouvelle dishes.

‘Tree mail’ endures despite email and the Thorn Tree Café flourishes as the crossroads of Africa.

Side Note: For some reason I’ve followed Ernest Hemingway’s travels without really meaning to – at least I didn’t plan it that way.  He had a fascinating life and really knew how to live (maybe too much so) so from Havana to Key West to Nairobi I found myself visiting his famous hangouts. Which makes me wonder – can you be considered someone’s stalker if that person is no longer alive?

Health MATTERS: how to ADD YEARS to your life

eating2With aging, scientists have always seemed to study things that decline, but how about those lucky individuals who seem to stay vital well into their 80s and beyond?  Here’s some of their latest research advice & six ways how you can add years to your life.

#1 is no surpise – STOP EATING SO MUCH

exception for holidays

exception for holidays…please.

This is something I personally have a hard time adhering to.  But…young1

In Okinawa, Japan—home to some of the world’s oldest people—centenarians stop eating when they’re 80 percent full, says The Blue Zones author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity all over the planet.

They’re onto something: Scientists at St. Louis University found that, while both exercising and eating less led to weight loss in the study’s volunteers, cutting calories also lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows metabolism. The researchers believe that lower T3 levels may also slow the aging process.


This might be easier and more fun to follow.  And who doesn’t want to live longer? This does not apply to the ones who don’t enjoy it.  Just skip to #4. Women who enjoy sex live longer says Mehmet Oz, MD, professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian–Columbia University and co-author of YOU: Being Beautiful. In fact, doubling your amount of satisfying sex can add up to three years to your life, he says. “Sex gives you the Zen moment you can’t find throughout the day otherwise.”

And you know what they say….more Zen, more Men! (No, I just made that up).

#3 – USE YOUR BRAINeating4

Dr. Geula, who has studied 80-year-olds who perform at the same level as people in their 50s on neuro­psychological tests, has found that the superaged have fewer brain tangles—deposits of protein linked to Alzheimer’s—suggesting that their brains have some sort of protection that normal brains don’t. While scientists puzzle this out, there’s a lot you can do to keep your own synapses firing. Learn Italian, take up the cello—even driving a new route to work can wake up sleepy brain cells.

Darn, I’ve been learning the wrong language! I’m in trouble because I don’t even drive to work.  Hope walking counts for something because you can walk so many different routes.


Now we’re talking – something I can follow! You’ve probably heard a lot about resveratrol, a compound in red wine and grape juice that seems to slow aging. One recent study found that resveratrol-fed mice had stronger bones and better motor coordination, and showed fewer “old age” problems like heart disease, inflammation, and cataracts. The jury is still out on whether resveratrol has the same effect on humans, but nutritionists say drinking red wine in moderation (and grape juice for those who can’t) does have heart-healthy benefits. The question is, what is moderation?? Pour me!


In one large study published in 2009, researchers who tracked 6,583 people for more than 30 years found that having significant belly fat in midlife can nearly triple your risk of dementia. No wonder so many people suffer from it.


They should have specified.  I tried eating my fern and got sick.

In his study of centenarians, Buettner found the longest-living people tend to eat less meat and more beans, soy, and nuts (but no ferns).  This is where it’s good to be a vegetarian.

AND no matter what your age there's no excuse for not being STYLISH!

AND no matter what your age there’s no excuse for not being STYLISH!





Feel-good Friday: Flowers

Imagine a world without Flowers?

Among all the wild animals we found this wild Lily in a pond in S. Africa

Among all the wild animals we found this wild Lily in a pond in S. Africa


20140814_123103“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” – John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in.

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Photos: d. king


beauty biz – BIOÉTHIQUE Provence

This appeals to my sense of ALL THINGS BEAUTY.


A space where everything is truly pure and simple.bio4

And white without being stark. It looks very FRENCH (which in itself is a bonus – as in French woman really look after their skin), and it has old world charm.
bio2oh, did I forget to say what it is? A certified Organic Boutique and Day Spa right here in Vancouver. A genuine oasis for health and relaxation.

One more thing….the two women who run it are super friendly, not snobby and they liked my dog.


Which is another PLUS factor.

Jaana (left) is a skin care specialist & Claudine (right) is the owner.

Jaana (left) is a skin care specialist & Claudine (right) is the owner.

looking out

looking out

looking in

looking in

Located at :3578 West 4th Ave., Vancouver, B.C.


Photos: D. King  (click to enlarge)

style – loafing around

 To LOVE or to LOATHE – that is the loafer

Really, how do you feel about loafers?

the totally CooL GIRL

the totally CooL GIRL – cat eye frames, leopard, birkin, loafers???

Gucci Horsebit

Gucci Horsebit Loafers – a CLASSIC!

There’s so many things you can say about them….sure, they’re comfortable, sure they’re practical,  they bring out your manly side (if you’re a woman) and your womanly side (if you’re a man – kidding!), your love of all things equestrian (even though you can’t remember the last time you were on a horse), and they look good with.…..with what? I’m referring to the original Gucci horsebit although there are plenty of other equally unattractive ones out there.gucci6

When I wore mine the other day a friend commented that it looked like something Martha Stewart might wear.  No offense Martha, but I would prefer to be compared to your cooking style more than your clothing style.  It’s not the same as saying “it’s something Kate Moss would wear” (even though Kate has been seen wearing them on occasion – I did the research).  Well guess what? They’re baaack in a big way…but slightly updated with different colours, patterns (including leopard) and a cool studded version (ohhh studs!).  Does that make them cooler?

he says "I love you even with your loafers"

he says “I love you even with your loafers”

So, what do you think?  Love them or Leave them? I’d like to know.






Fabulous Food – creamy Herb dressing

If you’re like me you put fresh herbs in everything from egg salad sandwiches to soups and pastas. Even pizza!creamyherbdressing2 It really does improve the taste and I love the ritual of cutting a few fresh stems from my herb garden. Well right now my herb garden is not looking so great except for the oregano and thyme (which is thriving since I re-potted them in a huge pot together – they seem to get along very well).  I’ve been looking for ways to preserve their freshness for as long as possible.  Nothing wrong with using dried but I love garnishing with fresh almost as much as cooking with them. So here’s an idea for preserving your soon-to-be-sad-looking herbs and a recipe for a simple dressing which you can use for everything from coleslaw & cucumber salad to potato salad or simple mixed greens.


Summer might be waning, but your money-saving herb garden can be harvested until the first frost. Preserve those wonderful green bits for winter with these tips.

At the household blog Tipnut, they’ve put together a rather exhaustive list of ways you can preserve the bounty of your summer garden. On top of more traditional methods like hanging herbs to air dry, they have some rather novel approaches to stashing them away for the winter. Want to preserve your more oily herbs as-is, instead of drying them out? Try this trick:

Chop herbs then sprinkle them into ice cube trays (measure into each cube the most common amount you use in cooking). Cover with water and freeze (can also cover with stock or olive oil). Pop them out once they’re frozen, package in freezer bags and store in the freezer (remove as much air as possible from the bags before freezing). When needed for cooking, just take out a cube and pop it in the dish that’s cooking (thawing first is optional–remember to account for the frozen liquid in your recipe). Tip: Try mixing your favorite blends of fresh herbs before freezing.

If you have a consistent stable of recipes, the ice cube trick would be a great way to preserve fresh herbs and oil for easy use.

And now for the low calorie, low-fat RECIPE – Creamy always sounds more fattening right?

creamyherbdressing1Creamy Herbed Dressing

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise (try avocado or southwest)
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried minced onion or chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon or dill (or use both)
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt or celery salt or 1/4 teaspoon of each
  • White pepper to tastecreamyherbdressing3
  1. Preparation: Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, honey, onion or chives, tarragon (or dill) and onion salt (and/or celery salt) in a bowl until well blended. Season with white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
  2. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the dressing for up to 5 days. Stir before using.
  3. Nutritional per Tbsp: 16 measely calories & 1 G FAT

 Tell me how you LOVE IT (a switch over from reliable olive oil, balsamic & lemon juice!)

If you were wondering: black pepper is unripe fruit (green), picked and sun dried til it turns black. White pepper is the fully ripe seed stripped of its outer husk.

Furthermore….white pepper has a little milder flavor than black pepper but in some things it shouldn’t matter. Some recipes will specifically call for white pepper but I routinely substitute black pepper for white in my recipes. Keep this in mind… if you are making a cream soup or a lighter colored soup, usually the recipe calls for white pepper so it doesn’t look like you have dirt floating around in your soup. You can’t see the white pepper like you see the black pepper. But as long as you don’t mind the color… the taste is usually just the same.


Lifestyle/Décor: Ideas  

On my recent outings I came across these recyclable home decorating designs.  IN the Home or Studio:

Post-IT Notes LAMP

Post-IT Notes LAMP

They might not be to everyone’s taste, but we all agree that they’re conversation starters and attention-grabbing to say the least.

Cycling Junkies

Cycling Junkies

What to do with your finished paint tubes.

What to do with your finished paint tubes.

Let me know what you think?

Inform Interiors Vancouver –

Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art - 2121 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver.

Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art – 2121 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver.

NEW: ART EXHIBIT at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian ART:

Mr. Gordon  A. Smith o.c. curated this exhibition to show his appreciation of this exciting group of local artists (most were in attendance at the opening) and arts educators.  He believes the artists featured  here deserve great attention and praise for their artistic endeavors and contribution to arts education in British Columbia.  WORK IS ART speaks to Mr. Smith’s expansive definition of the term art itself – everything can be seen as ART.  It is the drive, passion, and quality of work that creates art.  Not simply putting paint to canvas, but how your chosen practice is undertaken and conceptualized.  The 11 artists featured in this exhibition have described what Mr. Smith’s mentorship has meant to their lives and artisic careers. Their individual stories paint a vivid picture of what Gordon means to the Gallery, to our community, to countless students, and to the development of art in Canada.

SEEN on the Street:  

outdoor book dispensary from wood wine crates.

Help yourself: outdoor book dispensary made out of  wood wine crates.

Words….straight from the Llamas mouth!

No, silly. Llamas can’t talk but if they could they’d say “We want to go back to Peru and walk the Inca Trail because it’s so much nicer than being kept in this pen with funny people staring and wanting to touch us.”

At the PNE

At the PNE                                                                                               D. King

Llamas are special.  Here are a few things you may not know about them:

Q: What’s more amazing than a talking llama? A: A spelling bee!

Q: What do you call a very fast llama? A: a Llamagini

Q: What’s llama’s favourite film? A: Llamadeus

Q: Who is the llama spiritual leader? A: The Dalai Llama

Q: What do you get if you stand between two llamas? A: llamanated

They can be creative

They can be creative

They like to enjoy a good night out (until things go bad):

A man and his pet llama walk into a bar. It’s about 5pm, but they’re ready for a good night of drinking. They start off slowly, watching TV, drinking beer, eating peanuts. As the night goes on they move to mixed drinks, and then shooters, one after the other. Finally, the bartender says: “Last call.” So, the man says, “One more for me… and one more for my llama.” The bartender sets them up and they shoot them back. Suddenly, the llama falls over dead. The man throws some money on the bar, puts on his coat and starts to leave. The bartender, yells: “Hey buddy, you can’t just leave that lyin’ there.” To which the man replies: “That’s not a lion, that’s a llama.”

Okay…..that’s enough (but must say I do love llamas).

Health MATTERS: SLEEP – the Ultimate Anti-Depressant

Almost everyone at one time or another has felt that down-in-the-dumps, doom and gloom feeling.Good-Friend-l

It’s as if it appears out of nowhere at all, only it doesn’t! It turns out that our gotta go, 24/7 lifestyles are starting to get the better of us – at least where our moods are concerned.  Low moods or depression could be caused by inadequate sleep. Whether it’s that exam you’ve been dreading, the horrible date you can’t seem to get out of your mind or the insurmountable workload ahead of you, lack of consistent quality sleep will take its toll on your physical and emotional health. And it doesn’t take all that much sleep loss to get the dark clouds to show either.

It Doesn’t Take Much
Studies support the fact that even one or two nights of sleep disruption can cause significant changes to brain chemistry, which negatively affects our moods. If you’re someone who truly believes you only need 4 – 6 hours of sleep per night to get by because you happen to be one of those “go-getters,” think again, because all you may be getting is a case of the blues.In fact, one study from the University of Pennsylvania found that when subjects were allowed only 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a one-week period, they all described feelings of mental exhaustion, anger, sadness and excess stress during the day. All it took was a few days of a normal sleep cycle to get these subjects to smile again.  Unfortunately, less and less of us are getting enough quality sleep. It’s been estimated that we sleep 25% less than our ancestors did even though or body has remained relatively unchanged. While the average amount of shuteye of our great grandparents in 1900 was nine hours, most people currently check in at a paltry seven.

The amount of severely sleep deprived people seems to be exploding. Almost a third of all North Americans now sleep less than six hours per night. Pretty crazy stuff when you consider that the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, once admitted to only getting four to five hours of sleep each night. Alarmingly, the vast majority of our new sleep habits cropped up over the last 10 years or so. Our modern life is filled with text messages, energy shots, and brightly lit computer screens that keep us up well after our bodies are clamoring for a soft bed and comfy pillow.
Following are some important things about the relationship of sleep deprivation and depression that you must be well aware of:

  • Fact #1: Adequate sleep enhances a person’s well-being.
  • Fact #2: Anxiety from lack of sleep further causes agitation that could lead to chronic insomnia.
  • Fact #3: Difficulty sleeping is the first sign of depression.
  • Fact #4: Sleep restores chemical balances in the brain and body.

How Sleep-Debt Hurts
Scientists have always thought that the brain organizes and restores everything while we sleep (especially memories). This is why lack of sleep seems to disorganize our body functions and everything else in between.sleep2

Although sleep-researchers have proposed various theories about why lack of sleep makes us so moody, it wasn’t until quite recently that scientists pinpointed the exact reason. It turns out that our emotional wellbeing is to a large part regulated by healthy sleep patterns. For instance, research presented by the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, showed that people who experience a lack of quality sleep on a regular basis (called accumulating sleep debt) experience interference with the functional regulation of the amygdala – an area of the brain responsible for the processing of our memories and emotional reactions. This interference causes an overreaction of the amygdala, pushing it towards a negative emotional stimuli.

From Bad to Worse
The National Institutes of Health recently found that a battery of “cutting edge” sleeping pills only boost sleep time anywhere from 11 to 19 minutes. When it comes to side effects, prescription sleep aids make you act like you’ve just come from another planet. Many regular users report driving without remembering, sex that they can’t recall, and conversations that never registered in their minds. In other words, amnesia. A paid mouthpiece for drug companies, Gary S. Richardson, MD told the New York Times in chilling fashion, “If you forget how long you lay in bed tossing and turning, in some ways that’s just as good as sleeping.” Sorry Dr. Richardson, but wiping our memories a la Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not my idea of refreshing sleep. When evaluating natural sleep aids, you should look for a mechanism of action that is effective, yet safe. Any natural formula for sleep enhancement should work by:

  1. Boosting melatonin or tryptophan levels in the brain.
  2. Blocking the tryptophan-destroying enzyme IDO (indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase).
  3. Lowering high levels of circulating stress hormones.

sleapDon’t let unhealthy sleeping habits get the best of you and turn you into someone you’re not. Get to the bottom of your sleeping problems to keep your moods in check and instead of using side-effect riddled and habit-forming drugs, try introducing research-proven side-effect free nutrients like; melatonin, Ziziphus jujube, theanine and 5-HTP, before bed in order to experience the Ultimate Sleep.

Note: All of the nutrients (and more) mentioned above, can be found in the product Ultimate Sleep– available through:

Credit: Brad King (from the blog) –