Beauty biz – icky beauty

What’s she talking about! What’s in a name?  Lots you may not care to question.  But nonetheless…icky1We’re generally willing to try anything and everything that promises to give us glowing skin, but lately our endeavors have been taking us to a place we could never have anticipated. These popular beauty products have the wackiest ingredients I have ever heard of.  But they apparently work wonders….should you care to try any or all of them.  Royal Jelly I can understand but should we really be working snail slime into our beauty routine?

Ingredient: Fish Watericky2

The name of this ingredient (Aquabeautine XL) is almost as bizarre as what it is: an enzyme that gets released in the water when salmon hatch. Bottled into this hand cream, it brightens, moisturizes and prevents hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and sagging skin.

Ingredient: Egg Whitesicky3

Women have been DIYing their own at-home egg masks for years because of the ingredient’s brightening power and high amount of protein. The food is the main ingredient in this daily cleanser that purifies even the most clogged pores.

Ingredient: Royal Jellyicky4

Get brighter, younger looking skin with this day cream infused with a highly nutritious “jelly” created by working bees for their queen to consume.

Ingredient: Snail Slimeicky5

Relieve dryness and soothe redness on even the most sensitive skin with this slime-infused gel mask. Reap the benefits without actually having to deal with a snail coming near your face. Phew.

Ingredient: Fish Eggsicky7

Thanks to the caviar in this ultra-moisturizing overnight mask, you wake up with softer, firmer and plumped skin. Rest easy knowing fish eggs are hard at work to diminish signs of wrinkles. Keep calm and snooze on.

Have you tried any of these?

style – Cape Town, any town.



We can all use a good cover up.cape11

There’s something chic about wearing a cape.  At this time of year it’s not a constant but for in between the wet and very cold weather for those “off days” you can certainly pull it off (or on).  cape1
I think it’s a must in a woman’s wardrobe.cape5
On the Autumn/Winter 2014 catwalk scene capes were coveted in a big way – check the Burberry (think trench and blanket style), Saint Laurent (tartan button-down) and Valentino (embroidered, shin-length) shows for a heads up on how to wear yours.cape3

Shown here are some of my favourite caped crusaders.cape6

And as a serious style maven, it’s no surprise that Sarah Jessica Parker got her hands on one of Burberry’s much sought after monogrammed capes. cape8cape4rl

SJP with her twin daughters wearing Burberry.

SJP (with her twin daughters) wears Burberry.

I’m imagining dlk


Food – more more more

Mole, mole mole…(mole-ay) is one of my favourite Mexican dishes not only because it is rich and flavourful but because one of the ingredients is chocolate.

Chicken breast marinated with purslane, cactus and sweet potato chips with black mole.

Chicken breast marinated with purslane, cactus and sweet potato chips with black mole.  El Restaurante Catedral.

These intricate sauces, made by toasting and grinding spices, seeds, and chiles, are truly the hallmark of the Oaxaca region and in fact was invented there. The wide variety of “mole” in Oaxaca is enough to satisfy the most demanding palates. The different types you won’t find anywhere else – they include black, red, yellow, green, “coloradito,” “chichilo,” and mole with almonds.

This is chicken wrapped in rice and red mole.

This is chicken wrapped in rice and red mole.

If you’re craving a burrito you’ll have to go elsewhere.



 If you’re a cheese lover you might miss certain varieties like sharp cheddar, creamy brie or blue but they have a cheese, known as “quesillo,” which whether alone, in quesadillas, or with snacks, is a Oaxacan specialty that you should certainly try.  Grasshoppers are another typical dish of Oaxaca.

Chapulines at the Benito Juárez Market  - goes well with honey.

Chapulines at the Benito Juárez Market – can be sweetened up with honey.

You can find them everywhere – even the top hotels and restaurants (so be aware the Spanish name is “Chapulines” otherwise you might think you’re getting some exotic sounding beef because when it’s covered in mole you can’t really tell).  These delicious (so they say) fried insects are eaten in tacos, and the tradition says that whoever eats grasshoppers, will return to Oaxaca.  Oh, oh…I didn’t know about this before now.  Where are the little buggers when you need them?  I don’t remember the last time I saw a grasshopper here in Vancouver – I think they all mistakenly moved to Mexico for the warmer weather.

After that a taste of something sweet.  The "best" coconut flan with dulce de leche & soaked in mexcal.

After that a taste of something sweet. The “best” coconut flan with dulce de leche & soaked in mexcal. Topped with pecans.  Zandunga.

Other typical dishes from Oaxaca are “Tamales” stuffed with “mole,” poblano chili strips, or beans, and wrapped in banana leaves. “Tlayudas” (tla-u-da) are another appetizer that you can find almost anywhere.  I shared one in a market which was topped with delicious Mexican chorizo (a cut above – with less grease or fat), avocado, tomato, beans & cheese and it tasted great on a crunchy tostada. Other traditional dishes are the beef called “tasajo,” jerky, and “chiles rellenos” or stuffed chile.

Fantastic Chilean salmon at "El Quinque" - a great little restaurant.

Fantastic Chilean salmon at “El Quinque” – a great little restaurant.

In short, everything we ordered tasted superb and the care of presentation was impressive.  Of course getting a tumbler of mexcal before your meal ensures everything will taste good.

A starter of gazpacho at "Les Danzantes" for the pre-fixe lunch.  Excellent!

A starter of gazpacho at “Les Danzantes” for the pre-fixe lunch. Excellent!

But honestly, I have nothing but rave reviews for the culinary skills of Oaxaca.  Squash blossom flower sauce anyone? During ten days my friend Judy introduced me to some of the finest places to eat so if you plan to go just let me know and I’ll be happy to recommend a few places to drink spots.

chili chocolate brownie

chili chocolate brownie

Next week I will post an authentic red mole recipe but I’ll forewarn you that it is time consuming and maybe 1% of you will actually make it.  It is however less expensive than travelling all the way to Oaxaca.

Photos: d. king  (click to enlarge)


Travel/Culture: – Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico has always been good to me.

Church and Plaza Santo Domingo

Church and Plaza Santo Domingo

I’ve visited a variety of places from bustling and busy Tijuana to what used to be known as the sleepy fishing village of Barra de Navidad to the resort towns of Cancun & Playa del Carmen. I worked at one of the Club Meds in Mexico years ago. Never had a bad time or gotten sick.

A restaurant in al centro

A restaurant in al centro

Last week I returned from spending ten days in what is considered to be “the most diverse” state in all of Mexico.  Ten days in vibrant Oaxaca (pronounced wah-hah-ka) is definitely not enough time, but it is just enough time to know that I want to go back.  It was wonderful.

A typical stroll

A typical stroll into town

A friend was house sitting another friends spectacular house high up on a hill with a 180 degree view and invited me to stay.  At the time she told me about it I was considering going to Las Vegas to run a half marathon along the strip at night while listening to rock bands (for something different) but I made the wiser choice.

Many, many of these arches

Many, many of these arches (arquitos)

Before I came to Oaxaca (a UNESCO world heritage site) I thought I knew everything a lot about Mexico.  I was expecting to hear mariachis everywhere and get a plate of chips & salsa delivered to our table as soon as we sat down at any restaurant.  Not so…although you can.  Instead we listened to a combination of Cuban, Jazz, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Classical and a 12-piece brass orchestra visiting from Belgium which took place in the dazzling Macedonio Alcala theatre – all gratis.  Every night there is something different to take in and lots of puppetry, fireworks and dancing.

Monte Albán, built by the Zapotecs, is one of the country's most important ruins.

Monte Albán, built by the Zapotecs, is one of the country’s most important ruins.

So much activity goes on in the town centre amidst local artisans selling their wares, craft shops and street markets.  All the cuisine we had was unbelievably top-notch.  I heard this to be true but had to find out for myself.  The only thing I did not sample were the worms and grasshoppers that are considered delicacies there (I’ll leave that for the locals and was not so brave even to try the crunchy ones).  I might need a whole bottle of Mexcal before doing so.

The inspiring rock formations  of a petrified waterfall at Hierve el Aqua.

The inspiring rock formations of a petrified waterfall at Hierve el Aqua.

Here is what else I found besides an amazingly wide variety of food – stunning architecture, rich cultural traditions, important ruins, a great little *Spanish language school where you can sit outside in a garden setting for your lessons, a soft temperate climate (which allows you to sit outside) and Oaxaca’s specialty spirit, mezcal,

I'm not sure I can do this

I’m not sure I can do this

There are many little tasting spots called "mezcalarita's" around town

Many little tasting spots  (mezcalerilas) around town

which is made from dozens of types of agave (unlike tequila, which is made exclusively from blue agave).  Another thing is that you don’t want to have too much of that.  Don’t ask me how I know that…somebody told me. I think it can make you hallucinate.

So I don’t know everything about Mexico but I’m willing to learn.  This is a place I’d like to further explore with a side trip to Huatulco. Not to mention brush up on my Español .  Hasta la próxima vez!


Have you been?



Photos: d. king (double click to enlarge)

*SchoolOaxaca Spanish Magic

Link to my Oaxaca board for more photos on PINTEREST (which I will keep adding to):



Words….trying not to get lost in translation

This is written on the wall of a shop in Oaxaca, Mexico. 20141107_105844

Translation (more or less):

when you love what you are

there is nothing that is unconquerable or unreachable

when you really love yourself

(here is where it gets a little lost) live only in the light of your own laughter

and travel only by the way of joy and happiness

Look up.…look way up!   and… “Don’t Lose the NOW20141107_220753

This one is a photo taken of a famous poem written by Jorge Luis Borges that filled the whole ceiling of a quaint little wine bar/restaurant in historic Oaxaca where my friends and I listened to live Cuban music.  Borges, an Argentine poet, short-story writer, essayist and translator was a key figure in Spanish language literature.  His work embraces the “character of unreality in all literature.”  This is a beautiful writing and will make you think about your life:20141107_220753 - Copy


If I could live again my life,
In the next – I’ll try,
– to make more mistakes,
I won’t try to be so perfect,
I’ll be more relaxed,
I’ll be more full – than I am now,
In fact, I’ll take fewer things seriously,
I’ll be less hygenic,
I’ll take more risks,
I’ll take more trips,
I’ll watch more sunsets,
I’ll climb more mountains,
I’ll swim more rivers,
I’ll go to more places – I’ve never been,
I’ll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I’ll have more real problems – and less imaginary
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Of course that I had moments of joy – but,
if I could go back I’ll try to have only good moments,

If you don’t know – thats what life is made of,
Don’t lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again – I will travel light,
If I could live again – I’ll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I’ll ride more carts,
I’ll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live – but now I am 85,
– and I know that I am dying …

Jorge Louis Borges

Health MATTERS: PET THERAPY – breeding optimism

IMPROVE your animal’s outlook by grasping how it sees the worldpet2Nevermind that people have enough trouble keeping optimistic but now we have to attend to the mood swings of our pets too?

This is a rather intriguing article written by animal behavioural scientist Rebecca Ledger (special to the Vancouver Sun). It is  condensed from the original (which was much longer) but this will give you a general idea & you can find the complete article link below.

pet1How can you tell if your pet sees the world through rose-tinted glasses?

Owners of pessimistic cats and dogs will be familiar with the behavioural problems that plague these cynical pets.  These animals are more likely to perceive strangers as threatening even if their intentions are good.  They are more likely to feel insecure when left alone, as opposed to relishing the peace and quiet and taking the opportunity to nap.  And, any new situation or object may be viewed skeptically, rather than engaging their curiosity and inciting joy.  While a ‘normal’ dog is likely to anticipate a good outcome during these situations, pessimists expect the worst.

As such, pessimistic dogs are more likely to become stressed and fight, flight or freeze when faced with an unpredictable situation.  They may bark, whine or howl when left at home alone, scratch doors and windows in an attempt to find their owners, growl and snap at strangers, lunge and bark at other dogs, and bolt and hide when they feel startled, overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Pessimism isn’t a diagnostic term that is used to label behavioural disorders in our pets, however it does provide a helpful way to think about their emotional issues.  Pessimism is related to anxiety, the emotional state that is experienced at times of worry, uncertainty and apprehension.  While most dogs will view a stranger as a friend they haven’t met yet, the pessimist is more likely to think stranger equals danger.

To varying degrees, pessimists can be turned into optimists by tapping into the underlying neurological factors that underlie these traits.

It is crucial to teach animals, through repeated, positive experiences, that situations they perceive as potentially treacherous are instead reliably safe.  This is the basis of modern veterinary behavioural medicine.

Appreciating how individuals perceive the world differently encourages us to be sympathetic to the decisions that our animals make in challenging situations.

While we may not agree with our pet’s assessment of a situation, it at least allows us to understand why our pets sometimes behave the way they do.

More on her blog:






Feel-Good Friday: cute cuppa coffee

in ice cream coloured cafetieres.bodum1

To celebrate 70 years of innovative kitchenware Bodum (the maker of the iconic French press) have re-launched some of their classic and our favourite items in fresh fun colours.  Makes you think of spring/summer but that’s just fine at this time of the year.20141119_083015

It makes the start to my day that much merrier.

Happy Anniversary Bodum!

A perfect cup of moka just days ago at Café Arábigo in Oaxaca, Mexico.

I had the perfect cup of moka just days ago at Café Arábigo in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Beauty: eyes, lips, cheeks – favourites

Every year Sephora puts out the ultimate beauty boxed gift sets (even if the gift is meant for ourselves) so we can sample the best of the best.



This year I was eyeing “gimme more lip” when I realized that I already have almost half the box in my beauty cabinet at home.  Which  means it’s a pretty useful and gorgeous set.sephoragivemesomelip

For your EYES ONLY

For your EYES ONLY

It’s kind of like the makeup version of the Japanese boxed lunch where you want to sample a little bit of everything because you are so hungry for it all.  

So, which one of these appeals to you the most?


The Crème de la Crème SHOPApt1Here is another very versatile shop I want to share with you.apt2

 I’m a BIG advocate of one-stop shopping Apt3apt5In this place you can not
only get something great to wear or carry….apt6but you can pick up some pretty nice herbal teas,apt9 a gift for a mom-to-be,apt4dishes for your dog, apt7a lavatory mist and a little something to read.

Or a HAT!

Or a HAT!

Not bad right?

1199 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver

Photos: d. king

Food: Wolfgang Puck’s Asparagus Soup

I hope you enjoy this *pheremone enhancing recipe with added Leeks and Herbsasparagussoup

For the past five years Wolfgang Puck, long-reigning king at the L.A. institution Spago, has been on a new path, working out with a trainer and revamping his menus to emphasize fresh produce and whole grains.  “I like to buy high-quality ingredients and simply enhance them rather than alter their flavor or color,” says Puck.  His new cookbook, Wolfgang Puck Makes it Healthy, offers all the details.  Asparagus creates an ultra-bright soup. Cooling it in an ice bath as soon as it’s blended, keeps the hue vivid and preserves the chlorophyll so that the dish will be healthier and taste even better according to Puck.


20141102_212656What to do with them:20141102_212735

*Link to last Tuesday’s post – Foods that affect Pheremones:

Asparagus was one of them.  Asparagus is high in Vitamin E, which is believed to stimulate sex hormones…enough said!

Photos: d. king (ha, ha…….not my usual style but I’m traveling).