B well read – well written

Did you know that handwriting is becoming extinct?write1

write2That’s kind of a no-brainer with typing & texting being the norm.  But apparently only handwriting primes the brain to respond to letters in a more literate way than typing or texting will.  Evidence suggests that writing with a keyboard doesn’t engage your brain the way writing with pen and paper does; it’s more detached and abstract.  That’s really bad news for me cause I’m left handed & writing is not only slow going but it’s also really messy.

So if you’re wondering where in the world I’m getting my information, it’s condensed from a recent article written (by hand no less) by Joanne Chen taken from the health section of “Martha Stewart Living.”  As it turns out there’s more to life than just food, fashion & decorating.  Read on (my comments in brackets)…

We’re in a rush to digitize everything, as if fast and efficient are always positive things,” says Anne Mangen, a postdoctoral fellow at Oslo and Akershus University, in Norway, who has written (I’m wondering by hand?) extensively on handwriting and the brain.  “It’s worrisome that there’s not enough awareness as to how movement can affect the mind” – whether it’s wielding a pen or thumbing through papers.  Electronic devices swallow up every last opportunity for us to write with pen and paper, from to-do list apps (I want you to know I write all my to-do lists by hand) to calendars.  Today, small children often know how to swipe a screen before they learn how to color (what a shame).  Which leads one to wonder how the demise of handwriting will affect the way they, we, and future generations think, communicate, and remember:  Will our brains ever be the same?

Michelle Dresbold
Michelle Dresbold

As easy as it is to mindlessly doodle your name, a lot actually happens in our brains as we write.  A 2012 study at Indiana University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare two groups of preschoolers – one having learned letters and symbols by typing, the other by handwriting.  The scans showed that the brains of the kids in the typing group didn’t distinguish between letters and shapes, but the brains of those in the handwriting group did.  In short, children who learn letters by printing may have an easier time learning to read.

Clinicians have long suggested that writing by hand – notes, diaries, lists – is helpful to those with memory loss.  In fact, when elderly subjects experiencing mind cognitive impairment took up Chinese calligraphy for eight weeks, their brain function improved, while those who didn’t got worse, according to a 2011 Clinical Interventions in Aging paper by Chinese researchers.

In short, when we write, we’re not only memorizing the letters on the paper but also the process and the experience of shaping them.  Handwriting involves more movement than typing.  What’s more, while word processing produces uniform letters on a screen that scrolls endlessly (and is way more legible than my handwriting), handwriting entails finite space and allows for variation in letter and word size and position.

As a result, you remember information not just because you’ve recorded the words, but also because once you have, you can envision where they’ve landed on the page and how big or small the text is.  Handwriting is a visual special activity which might explain why you remember appointments better when you pen them on a calendar that when you type them into a smartphone.

Handwriting, more than typing, requires us to engage in activities that promote creativity – like slowing down and reflecting which are worthwhile whether you’re mapping out a thank-you note, a novel, or a sales presentation.  Additionally, handwriting permits expression beyond a straight line, much like doodling, which, according to Sunni Brown, author of the forthcoming book, The Doodle Revolution (Penguin Portfolio), can “turn on” the neurological networks responsible for imagination and discovery. Not to mention it’s a great form of personalized self-expression, considering how distinctive (or elaborate, or architectural, or sloppy) our scrawls can be.

The author says “there’s something satisfying about the sight of so many words, the feel of paper thinned a bit from all that ink – and the realization that something so old-school can still be fast and efficient.  And I bet I remember most of what I wrote.”

On a further note:

Graphologists, who study and analyze handwriting say it’s because every stroke reveals a writer’s personality, mood, dislikes, and intent.  Here are some hidden meanings in written words:

What does your Handwriting Say About You?

this is me
this is me –  well it sounds good in writing!

Sentences that slope UP signal optimism; those that tilt down, depression, says Michelle Dresbold, author of Sex, Lies, and Handwriting (Free Press).

BIG characters suggest outgoingness, says Marc Seifer, author of “The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis” (Career Press).  Curvaceous ones reveal a sensual personality.

When letters slant RIGHT, the writer is emotionally effusive; left, she’s emotionally withdrawn, according to Dresbold.

Dots above the i’s and crosses for t’s that run into the next letters signal impatience; if they run to the left, the writer is prone to procrastination, says Dreshold.



The Difference Between a Cook and a Chef

Where do Chefs Eat - probably at home - CopyAt le diner en Blanc we were fortunate enough to have Michael, our own private (well semi-private as it was for 16 people) chef.  Or was he a cook?  Everything was so impressively laid out & tasted so good that I automatically assumed he worked at a top Vancouver restaurant.  Well as it turns out he just happens to have a passion for cooking but doesn’t do it for a living.  So that in my opinion makes him a cook/chef.   So, what’s the difference?

To most people, a cook and a chef are the same thing. The two terms are used interchangeably to indicate someone working away in the kitchen, regardless of whether that individual is cutting vegetables or masterminding the entire menu.

First course - prawn in mango & avocado compote.
First course – prawn in mango & avocado compote.  At diner en Blanc – Vancouver Science World.  August 22, 2013.  Approx. 2,500 people.

For those who work in the culinary field, however, there is a big difference. Although there is no single professional organization that determines exactly who is a chef and who is a cook, most agree that the difference lies in education and experience. If you have a culinary degree and/or trained under a notable chef and have moved up the ranks, you are typically considered a chef. If you simply dabble in the kitchen at home or are just starting out at the bottom of the restaurant totem pole, you are almost always considered a cook.

What Makes a Cook a Cook?

Most people agree that a cook is lower-ranking than a chef, and that chefs themselves vary in rank. For example, an executive chef is the top of the line, while sous chefs, chefs de partie, and other professionals might have the right training, but are still working toward their top professional goals.

If you still aren’t sure exactly what it is that makes a chef a chef, consider these qualifications:

2nd course - butternut squash chipotle gazpacho with fresh basil garnish.
2nd course – butternut squash chipotle gazpacho with fresh basil garnish.
  • A two- or four-year culinary degree
  • Extensive training under a chef with the goal of gaining a culinary education equal to that of a degree (also known as a culinary apprenticeship)
  • Responsibilities that include a supervisory role
  • The ability to create and implement menus in a restaurant setting
  • Management roles in the kitchen
3rd course - poached figs & peaches with fois gras, beets and brioche.
3rd course – poached figs & peaches with fois gras, roasted beets and brioche.

A cook, on the other hand, can expect to:

  • Prepare food on a daily basis
  • Perform kitchen duties, as needed and directed
  • Clean and wash the kitchen
  • Use recipes and follow someone else’s menu plan
  • Still be at the learning level of his or her career

There are some culinary institutions (including the American Culinary Federation) that offer designations and titles based on testing, work experience, and education. Although many organizations and restaurants recognize these distinctions (and will boost your career accordingly), they aren’t required to be a chef or to be successful in your own culinary career.

4th course -  Dungeness Crab meat, Scallop, Ahi Tuna & vegetables. Visually & taste wise - excellent. *Course #5 was dessert - petit fours & jello shooters (some extras included).
4th course – Dungeness Crab meat, Scallop, Ahi Tuna & Vegetables. *Course #5 (not shown) was dessert – petit fours & jello shooters (I grabbed some extra shooters).

In most cases, the cook is below the chef in terms of prestige, pay, and career development. However, there are instances in which this isn’t true. Many home cooks or amateurs have skills and experience that surpass that of their chef counterparts; they simply may not make claim to the title.

Famous Cooks vs. Famous Chefs

In fact, many of the celebrity chefs we have come to know and love as a culture aren’t really chefs at all. Rachel Ray and Nigella Lawson are two of the biggest names in the culinary and Hollywood world, but both women profess that they aren’t trained chefs…and have never pretended to be anything other than cooks. Self-trained, self-motivated, and never having worked in a long-term chef capacity (such as overseeing a restaurant), they are just two examples of cooks who have hit it big.

beauty – the SKIN Commandments

Simply follow these 10 tenets and thou shalt possess healthy, smooth, glowing skin for life.

Images – paperblog.com

1) Thou Shalt Always Use Sunscreen (yes, even in winter).

Of all the skin sins, going out unprotected is the worst. UV rays cause 90 percent of wrinkles, sun spots and other signs of aging. And although face lotions with sunscreen ward off burning UVB rays, not all fully shield you from UVA, the deeply penetrating light that ages skin. What to look for: If your skin is sensitive, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are natural minerals with stellar UVA coverage; otherwise, you may want the longer-lasting protection of chemical-based SPF with UVA-blocking avobenzone or octocrylene.

2) Honor the Change of Seasons

Just as you swap sweaters for sundresses come summer, pull a switcheroo for skin care twice a year. What your complexion craves in warm weather (less oil! ample sunscreen!) is different from the TLC it requires in cooler temps.

A few months from now, dry winter air will rob moisture from your skin, says Marsha Gordon, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City for St. Ives. Stick with your daytime SPF-laced lotion, but also apply a rich cream or oil at night to keep skin soft & supple.

3) Leave no Skin Unbuffed

Your skin regenerates every 28 days on average, but this process slows down—even as early as your mid-20s,” says David Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. Exfoliating removes dead cells lying on skin’s surface, revealing prettier skin.  For face Use a finely ground scrub or a chemical exfoliant (alpha hydroxy, lactic or glycolic acid) up to three times a week after cleansing, Dr. Bank suggests.

For body The skin here is thicker than that on your face & neck —which means it can handle more intense scrubbing. Smooth skin every other day with a salt- or sugar-based body polish; they’re grainy enough to soften your roughest parts.

4) Love Thy Skin in the A.M. & P.M.

Your anti-aging plan should be a twice-a-day habit, like brushing your teeth. A consistent routine gives you healthier, younger-looking skin not only now but in 10, 20, even 30 years, says Jeffrey Dover, M.D., coauthor of The Youth Equation (Wiley).  In the morning, use peptides, which lessen lines and improve texture (and won’t make skin sun-sensitive). Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum (approx. $25) is an inexpensive & apparently effective choice.

At night, reach for an over-the-counter retinol or prescription retinoid treatment to stimulate new collagen production and cell turnover and to lighten brown spots.

5) Give thy Body its Daily Moisturizer

The skin on your body has far fewer oil glands than your face (100 per ½-inch square versus 900), making it prone to flakes. Never miss a chance to hydrate.

A fast dry-skin fix Reach for a lotion with a gentle, low-dose chemical exfoliant such as lactic acid.  Your long-term supple-skin plan Apply lotion to damp skin (to seal in water), wait for it to be absorbed, then top it off with a second layer. Body hydrators contain ingredients like jojoba oil and shea butter as well as sealants that coat skin, “so two back-to-back applications trap even more moisture into skin,” Dr. Bank says.

6) Covet thy Covers

“When you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol,” says Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, M.D., a dermatologist in Miami. And excess cortisol has been linked to acne, as well as sensitive and dry skin. Follow these easy sleep-better tips tonight for more beautiful skin tomorrow—and beyond.

Your nightly TV lineup may keep you from tucking in the requisite seven to eight hours of shut-eye, resulting in a sleep debt, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia report. Set your DVR and try to watch late-airing shows early the next evening instead.

Cut back on caffeine. Research shows that even one cup of joe disturbs nighttime sleep in some people, leaving them more tired and reaching for more caffeine, creating a cycle of sleepiness—and coffee addiction!

7) Never (ever!) Pop or Touch Pimples.

“Your hands can transfer more breakout-inducing bacteria to the area,” Dr. Blyumin-Karasik says. “And most people squeeze too hard, causing trauma to skin.” Both of which mean your pip-squeak pimple may turn into a huge, inflamed cyst. Zap zits safely.

Got a lone blemish? Reduce redness with an OTC anti-inflammatory cortisone cream twice a day; banish bacteria with benzoyl peroxide nightly, says Diane Berson, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

8) Treat the Body as thou Would thy Face

Unless you bundle up in a turtleneck and gloves year-round, the same damaging UV rays that shine on your face will hit your neck, chest and hands. “Yet most women act as if there’s a stop sign at their jaw,” says Dr. Dover, who advises rubbing skin treatments all the way down to your cleavage, then wiping the excess on your hands, too.

9)      Get thee to a Gym

Aside from keeping you healthy, energized and slim, working out has specific benefits for your complexion.  It increases circulation. When skin is supplied with enough blood, oxygen and nutrients, it’s able to bring its A-game and look smooth and healthy all the time. Wounds healed about 29 days faster among older adults who exercised than among those who were sedentary, research from The Ohio State University at Columbus finds.

It calms you (and skin) down. Exercise is a proven mood booster. Working up a sweat helps your body better regulate stress hormones linked to anxiety and depression, as well as acne, sensitivity and dryness. Incorporate a quick bout of cardio into your weekly workout routine to get happy—a 20-minute sweat session can improve mood for up to 12 hours, according to researchers at the University of Vermont in Burlington—and keep skin looking fresh, too.

10)      Eat thy Fruits, Vegetables and Fish

New research suggests a healthy diet may fend off your skin’s top enemies. Phytochemicals and antioxidants (in leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) and fatty acids from fish such as salmon allow your body to fight sun-induced damage. Low-glycemic foods (with fewer sugars) may prevent collagen breakdown by reducing cell inflammation and subsequent destruction of skin’s support structure.


Taken from Self.com 


On the RUNway…Trending NOW!

Last week we covered wardrobe staples that are worth splurging on – things that will always be on trend.  Then we have new Trends for this FALL.  Well, not really new (as in nothing ever is) but things you’ll be seeing more and more of this Fall.  This was taken from the Huffington Post.

1. Capes

A model walks the runway at the Valentino Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week on March 5, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway at the Valentino Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week . (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images).

It’s difficult not to, but don’t fear capes – how can you, they’ve sustained themselves through the Victorian era, the 1940s, 1960s, and now, 2010s? They’re also versatile: as proven by Valentino’s winter white offering (which is beaded and calf-length) and Jill Stuart’s RTW classic black piece (which she paired with trousers and oxfords), a cape can carry you through the season and various events. Merely treat it as you would a coat, and remember that if your grandmother could do it when she was young, so can you — just like *Lily Allen (see lyrics below) and Kate Hudson did in 2010.

A model walks the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion at Park Avenue Armory in New York City. (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)
A model walks the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion at Park Avenue Armory in New York City. (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week).

2. Academically-Inspired

Back-to-school is synonymous with fall (obviously), but this time around, we grown-ups aren’t being left out. Case in point: collections by the likes of Tory Burch, who saw crisp button-ups layered underneath cardigans and worn with tweed pants. Meanwhile, the king of collegiate, Tommy Hilfiger, showcased a collection chalk-full of argyle suits, knit sweaters, and even a book print dress (though for the record, it’s tragically next-to-impossible to find online).

3. Over-The-Thigh Boots

Beyonce performs on stage during 'The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour' at the Barclays Center in New York. Beyonce wears a blue dress and boots by Pucci and hosiery by Capezio. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment).
Beyonce performs on stage during ‘The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour’ at the Barclays Center in New York. Beyonce wears a blue dress and boots by Pucci and hosiery by Capezio. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment).

It’s been more than a few years since thigh-high boots re-introduced themselves, and this season is just another testament to their staying power. (Which makes sense – winter is cold, you guys, it’s okay to cover up.) On the celeb front, Heidi Klum recently donned a suede style in the spirit of Emilio Pucci’s collection, while Miley Cyrus has made headlines in hers. Though breathe easy, flat aficionados: you can wear a smaller heel or even a flat style if you’d rather not risk tumbling to your death like some of us would.

A model walks during the Temperley London’s RTW collection.
A model walks during the Temperley London’s RTW collection.

4. ‘60s Mod

The best kind of fashion lives forever, and adding to 2013’s eclectic nature is the season’s mod influence, which infuses capes, thigh-high boots (good news, us: it all ties in!) with bright colours (like Lisa Perry’s loud dresses) and Twiggy-inspired mini-dresses (as found in Temperley London’s RTW collection). But in addition to flipping through old fashion magazines and scrolling through Tumblr, you can also look to someone like Alexa Chung who’s been embracing the vintage vibe for many moons now.

5. Pleated Skirts

A model walks the runway at the Calvin Klein Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during New York Fashion Week.. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway at the Calvin Klein Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during New York Fashion Week.. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images).

The vintage throwback continues with pleated skirts which borrow from the ‘70s and early ‘80s with their high waists and pleats. Calvin Klein infused this look with the season’s leather trend (which we’ll get to imminently), while Celine did the same. However, earlier this year, Diana Argon showcased Marc Jacobs S/S take on the trend, opting for a floral pattern and ‘50s style which there’s still plenty of room left for as we ease into autumn.

A model walks the runway at the BCBGMAXAZRIA Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on February 7, 2013 in New York, United States. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway at the BCBG MAXAZRIA Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during New York Fashion Week. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images).

6. Hats

Finally, fashion and function merge in the season we need them to the most. Tommy Hilfiger featured beanies in droves in his F/W collection, while BCBG Max Azria did the same, thus finally offering a reprieve from hatless-ness in freezing temperatures. (Yes, we’re concerned about the cold. We’re adults – this is how it works.) Meanwhile, styles like fedoras, bowler hats, and this also found places within the Fall 2013 landscape, thus making “hats” and all that the word embodies a go-to autumn trend.

7. Menswear Fabrics

Model Erin Wasson walks the runway during Chanel show as part of Paris Fashion Week Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2013-2014 at Grand Palais on July 2, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michel Dufour/WireImage)
Model Erin Wasson walks the runway during Chanel show as part of Paris Fashion Week Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2013-2014 at Grand Palais on July 2, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michel Dufour/WireImage)

When we say academic, you say tweed (“academic!” – “tweed!” – “academic” – “tweed!”), so with an influx of collegiate-inspired styles, we probably all expected to see menswear fabrics and patterns in droves, as is the true autumn way. Chanel dressed up the fabric in their Haute Couture collection through skirts and suits, while Alice + Olivia ran with argyle and plaid. Not that any of this is new: in 2010, Claudia Schiffer kept on-point with an argyle V-neck, making us wish we’d kept our vests from high school.

8. Emerald Green

Actress Sofia Vergara attends 2013 CFDA FASHION AWARDS underwritten by Swarovski at Lincoln Center on June 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for Swarovski).
Actress Sofia Vergara attends 2013 CFDA FASHION AWARDS underwritten by Swarovski at Lincoln Center on June 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for Swarovski).

Declared the “it” colour of 2013 back in January, emerald green clearly stuck around for its F/W hurrah, appearing in collections by Phillip Lim, Pantone, and Carolina Herrera. This, of course, is after Emily Blunt wore it in 2012, and Sofia Vergara rocked the colour in June – thus ensuring that incorporating an emerald top, accessory, or a dress still gets a green light (eh?) this fall.

9. Oversized Coats

A model walks the runway at the Michael Kors Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show during New York Fashion Week. (Photo by Catwalking/Getty Images).

Where the rest of autumn sees fitted pieces, outwear remains at large. Following in the footsteps of capes are oversized jackets, which pay homage to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. (Think of Kevin McAllister’s mom in the original “Home Alone.”) Designers like Michael Kors used the look to capitalize on the menswear trend, while Mulberry kept their pink jacket relatively fitted – much like Kate Bosworth’s boyfriend jacket from a couple seasons back which she paired with leather pants.

A model walks the runway during the Mulberry Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2013-2014 show as part of the London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013/14.  (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images).

10. Leather (Not Just Accessories)

We all have leather gloves, leather footwear, and a leather coat (which you can pick up for next-to-nothing at thrift stores if a new model is too pricey), but what about leather … everything else? In the spirit of Ross Geller, designers have clung to the fabric in droves, with everyone from Chanel (see: the aforementioned leather skirt) to Vionnet (loose-fitting leather pants) to Mulberry capitalizing on the leather look. You can do the same: even a leather-embellished t-shirt makes a good wardrobe staple, and again, a thrifted leather car coat from the 1970s will keep you on-budget and autumn-ready.

Also trending NOW:

THE FEAR” from Lily Allen‘s It’s Not Me, It’s You” Album

I want to be rich and I want lots of money

I don’t care about clever, I don’t care about funny

I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds

I heard people die while they’re trying to find them

And I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless

Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.

I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror

I’m on the right track, yeah I’m on to a winner.

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore

And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore

And when do you think it will all become clear?

Cause I’m being taken over by The Fear

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers

It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other

But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic

And that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic

And I am a weapon of massive consumption

And it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function

Forget about guns and forget ammunition

Cause I’m killing them all on my own little mission

Now I’m not a saint but I’m not a sinner

Now everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner

Link to her YouTube: http://vimeo.com/5782708 



simply satisfying – grilled eggplant salad

Roasted_Eggplant_with_Tomatoes_and_Feta_Grilled Eggplant (or aubergine as it is called in France) with Tomatoes, Basil & Feta.

This is a delicious side dish or a satisfying vegetarian main course. Serves 4

These strange, beautiful, glossy purple vegetables are truly unique.  An eggplant’s taste is particularly hard to pinpoint, other than a satisfyingly sweet bitterness. Its texture is like a chameleon and can range from gooey to spongy to slippery. But it is one vegetable that has so much potential so if you work with it properly you’ll learn to love it.

1 large eggplant, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch thick pieces.

Course salt

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces), halved

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn

1. Generously season eggplant slices with salt.  Place vertically in a colander, overlapping them.  Let stand 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. (*Eggplants contain a lot of moisture, which can ruin any dish. The trick to not having a bad eggplant dish is to prep eggplants in advance, by sweating and draining its extra water content.)

2. Preheat grill to medium high.  Liberally brush cut sides of eggplant with oil.  Grill, turning once, until tender, about 4 minutes a side. Or if you prefer you can roast the eggplant.

Mix tomatoes, pine nuts, feta, red pepper flakes and oil.  Season with salt.  Spoon over eggplant and top with torn basil leaves.

*Every Italian grandma knows that you must remove excess water from an eggplant – they contain a lot of extra moisture. Doing so not only   dramatically reduces unwanted wateriness in a dish,  but it also enhances the true essence of the taste.  By sweating out the additional moisture, you also remove some of that extra bitterness taste. This leaves the eggplant tasting more sweet and pure.

Health Benefits: In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplants contain important phytonutrients, rich in phenolic antioxidant compounds.

As a side with salmon & thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes with malt vinegar salt.
As a side with salmon & thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes with malt vinegar sea salt.

Do you have a favourite eggplant dish?

Seen on the Grocery Shelf

MimosaReady made MIMOSA

Nothing says fancy brunch like a Mimosa…

A great breakfast accompaniment for a lazy weekend, especially in the summer, or in winter if you need a pick me up. Or for when you run out of orange juice. Open & serve in a champagne flute. Great taste – no waste.  One serving per can.  Comes four to a box.

Always nice to share.

Not available in Canada – except maybe Quebec where they’re more civilized.

A classic mimosa recipe calls for equal parts sparkling wine to orange juice. Use a dry sparkling wine, not sweet.

When you’re making a mimosa, always add the sparkling wine first, then top with orange juice. This way, the cocktail mixes together on its own and won’t make a sticky mess at the top of the glass. You don’t need to stir as this will cause the wine to become flat.

LIFE Quotes

 life1Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” – Paulo Coelho

Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchilllife2

“The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

life3“No matter what the situation, remind yourself “I have a choice.” – Deepak Chopra

Taken from a store window
Taken from a store window

B well – with positive thoughts

When Health is absent…

Wisdom cannot reveal itself

Art cannot become manifest

Strength cannot be exerted

Wealth is useless and

Reason is powerless.

– Herophiles, 300 B.C.

positive1The following is condensed from a chapter in “Walking with the Wise” for health & vitality by Alejandra Armas.

Good health is not only the lack of disease and pain, but a complete state of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.  Living in a world as fast, busy, polluted and stress-filled as ours, it may seem difficult to achieve and maintain health and inner peace.  However, it is possible!

Let’s start with our thoughts.  Everything that humankind has achieved was first a thought in someone’s mind.  Our thoughts and emotions shape all areas of our lives, mainly our health and well being.  We are repeatedly using our thoughts unfavorably, compromising our health as a result of it.

Using constructive affirmations is a very powerful tool that will help us in shaping our health.  Continuous positive thoughts become new “programs,” which will create positive outcomes, becoming a fountain of well being.

As opposed to thinking “I am sick,” it is better to say the same in a more constructive way:  “I am in the process of getting better.”  Not a lie, but a powerful creative, proactive affirmation!  Think and affirm “I AM HEALTHY!”  Why?  Because by doing so you are actually identifying with the real YOU.  Since you are not only your body, emotions or thoughts and, since you are a powerful being using these vehicles, by saying “I AM HEALTHY” you are indeed identifying with that powerful being – with the soul, with the universe.  By saying “I AM SICK” you are identifying instead with that which Is not true – for the soul is never sick.

Think about how many times in one day you say things like “I can’t do it,” “I won’t get better,” “I feel terrible,” or “I won’t make it.”  You are giving your power away!  You are actually helping the process of getting sicker and feeling worse!  If you don’t believe it, ponder on this:  are you feeling any better?  No?  Then change the content of the technique you are using!  Because as a matter of fact, you are already using a powerful technique: affirmations!  Same technique, same power, just different content.  Give it a try – IT WILL WORK!!

Energy is like muscles.  It has to be built.  You must persevere and persist with your affirmations.  No need to become fanatical, write down each affirmation 2000 times or surround yourself with post-it notes.  Just keep a simple yet consistent pace.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not.  JUST REPEAT IT!  Even if mechanical, you are creating an energy.  The more you say it, the more effective it’ll be, and by the law of cause and effect, the more you’ll attract it, therefore, the more you’ll start believing it!  Regardless of our inability to see the air, it is there!  Whether you believe it or not, the law of gravity exists…if you throw something, by the law of gravity, it will fall.  Period.  In the same way, you don’t have to believe this: just try it.  “You become what you think.”  It is a law!positive2And the world needs our positive thoughts now, more than ever!

Le Diner en Blanc

What a unique + outrageous evening I had last night – a sister date in a sea of white and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.


I attended Vancouver’s second “Diner en Blanc” courtesy of my sister Lisa. Have you heard of it? This event  first started 25 years ago in Paris and has now become a global phenomenon.  A big part of the event is always its secret location up until a few hours before having to make your way there.  This year many people guessed the Science World location ahead of time.

blog7This exclusive sold out evening drew 2,500 people, double the size of the first Vancouver one held last year near the Olympic cauldron at Jack Poole Place.  What a coincidence that Black Sabbath happened to be playing at Rogers Arena on the same night.  Which left many black clad fans on their way to the concert wondering what the hell was going on and why everyone was dressed up all in white – a strict dress code requirement. Not only that, but participants were required to bring their own picnic baskets, folding tables, chairs, dinnerware and even food unless you arranged to have it catered. You had to make arrangements to order wine & champagne ahead of time too.

We were very lucky to have an excellent chef cater a five course meal for our table of about sixteen people.

Melissa, Jen, Lisa, Debbie
Melissa, Jen, Lisa, Debbie

We enjoyed live music of  upbeat, mostly french songs too and danced a bit.

Hey there's another Lisa - the running group leader.
Hey there’s another Lisa – lulu run group  leader, looking lovely as ever.

Now there are many other en blanc dinners held in various cities around the world.

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., was shut down when a flash mob took over the elegant shopping street for the Los Angeles version of Diner en Blanc on August 22nd. Participants included François Pasquier, 69, who held the first Diner en Blanc 25 years ago in the Bois de Boulogne.

Adrien & Ange
Adrien & Angela

“Such a chic pique-nique,” Pasquier said of the Beverly Hills version.

Also, to make memories depends on how distinctive and different it is. That’s what is remembered the most – doing that little bit of extra to make it more special so people will talk about it for a long



CrowdSo, would I do it again…..after having to lug our own or borrowed folding tables/chairs, tablecloths, napkins, place settings, dishes, glasses, candles, centrepieces, etc.  – Bien sûr!photo(21)

Talking with friend Manu
Talking with friend Manu


Lovely Lisa
Lovely Lisa


Beauty with Benefits – Cuticle Care 101

Well girls….our job is never done!HealthyNails-636

Last week I posted about the latest trends in nail polish because when most people think of nail care they think of nail polish, or fingernail problems like peeling, chipping, and cracking. But your cuticles also contribute to nail health and a neat appearance. Uncared-for cuticles are prone to hangnails and dryness, while badly cut or bitten cuticles put the skin around the fingers at a risk of infection.  My cuticles have always been troublesome until recently, now that I’ve found the perfect solution – see below for product reviews.

By following these cuticle-care guidelines, you can prevent cuticle disasters & help maximize your manicure’s good looks at the same time.


No matter how well you think you moisturize your hands, your cuticles are especially thirsty for hydration. They’re soaked and dried every time you wash your hands, they’re exposed to chemicals when you clean or work without gloves. If you’re not already rubbing a good quality moisturizer (see below) into your nails and fingertips every day, start doing it. If you do moisturize, and you still get hangnails or dryness, start to do it twice.

Never cut your cuticles

Your cuticles perform a valuable job: protecting the roots of your nails from invasion by harmful bacteria. If you cut them away, they won’t be able to do their job. Same if you cut them poorly. Instead, push the cuticles back with a non-metal tool, such as a rosewood stick. However, bear in mind…

Don’t Push Back Dry Cuticles. Cuticles are not only easier to nudge back when they’re moist, it’s also safer. Pushing on a wet, flexible cuticle is much less likely to lead to tears or other damage. Try pushing back your cuticles right after you get out of the shower, or soak your fingertips for a short time in a bowl of warm water.

Push Back Cuticles Like a Pro. There are three steps to the push-back: One, apply a cuticle remover (balm works better than an oil or cream – see below). Two, use an orange stick to gently push back your nice moist cuticles. Finally, move the orange stick in tiny circles at the base of the nail to remove any clinging dead skin that’s there. Repeat the last step as necessary.

Trim Hangnails Carefully. While it’s not a good idea to cut your cuticles, it’s fine to cut your hangnails. Just go about it with caution: again, you’re trying to avoid causing infection. Use a sharp cuticle nipper (I recommend Tweezerman) that you’ve cleaned with alcohol or peroxide beforehand, and apply antibacterial ointment to the cut areas immediately afterwards—especially if you slip up and draw blood (ouch!).

Choose Nail Care Products Wisely.  Acetone-based nail polish removers and polishes and treatments with formaldehyde, including formaldehyde resins, are just as bad for your cuticles as they are for your nails. Dump any nail polishes or nail treatment products made before the end of 2007, which are likely to contain formaldehyde, and look for removers that are labeled acetone-free. Both of these chemicals, in addition to being toxic, cause dryness and irritation of cuticle skin.

I love a nice cuticle oil like this from Island Girl - from Hawaii ABC shop.
This floral scented cuticle oil from Island Girl is best for finishing off your manicure with a swipe after polish. Available at ABC stores – Hawaii + Las Vegas.

It’s simple: healthy cuticles look better than unhealthy ones. And healthy cuticles help keep nails healthy too. My TOP picks:Eye Get Spoil

This 20% shea butter and cream from L'Occitane is great.
Don’t forget the hands.  This 20% shea butter  in a tube from L’Occitane is one of the best hand creams ever invented.

 The one in the blue jar is called BALMshell & it works best of all. Infused with healing essential oils my nails have never been  healthier, seriously!

It’s a NEW miracle 3 in 1 beauty balm that works equally well to help soften around the eyes + lips. Available only online at http://www.getspoilednow.com