beauty biz – Supersize me!

Some things are just better bigger – this is one of them.  Product Review:

I’m in bliss…literallyBODY butter Being a huge fan of  luxurious body butters and body lotions by bliss you can imagine my delight at finding a super sized version in vanilla and bergamot –  two of my favourite scents.

Already familiar with their original lemon sage (which gained a huge following as it was the #1 body cream for over a decade and used to be available only at Bliss spa locations) this was a delightful purchase from Nordstrom’s.  It’s completely moisturizing with a very familiar & pleasant fragrance(this aromatic moisture mix has amber, lemon, bergamot, myrrh and musk, putting the ‘thrilla’ back in vanilla) which means it can be used in place of a light fragrance.  Made without parabens.  I found that mixing this with a little bit of lavender lotion creates a signature scent.

Available in Canada at:

Price: $51.00 for 14 oz.

beauty board on Pinterest

Have you tried them?





style now – into Africa  

Trending Now or you could say “finally” as it only takes a matter of time for what has

Bustier - Emilio Pucci S/S 2014
Bustier – Emilio Pucci S/S 2014

been in fashion somewhere in the world for centuries to make its way over to this hemisphere.

Masai Handiwork
Masai Handiwork

On this side of the globe Masai and other African fabrics are having a fashion moment, but maybe it will last longer than a Paris or New York Minute

More Emilio Pucci S/S
Emilio Pucci Spring/Summer 2014

Last week I posted about wearing beads and shells in “going global” but this is different. Summer weather always brings out a certain amount of shell and beaded belongings but mostly in shoes and other accessories.  I bought a t-shirt with a shelled collar that was not the norm a few years ago. But now the Spring/Summer runways were featuring traditional “Masai” fashion incorporated into daily wear like dresses, skirts, jackets and even a bustier as seen at on the Emilio Pucci S/S runway (photo above).  And why not?   Not only is it fun and colorful, but it has a rich history behind it. So along with fringe, art prints and florals, the shows featured Masai embellished beading for all kinds of  clothing along with other African prints.

I bought so many pairs of these leather/beaded sandals in Tanzania.
I bought several pairs of these leather/beaded sandals in Tanzania – all one of a kind.

Some History:  The Masai have been creating bead jewelry for a long time, well before their first contact with Europeans. Beadwork has been an important part of Masai culture for many years. The women set aside time every day to meet and work on beaded jewelry which includes colorful necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. It is considered the duty of every Masai women to learn the jewelry making craft. All the tribes beadwork is made by the women but is worn by both women and men. The jewelry they create is not only beautiful but also has important cultural significance. The beadwork an individual wears will signify their age and social status. Generally individuals of high social standing will wear more colorful and intricate jewelry. Beads also serve as an important source of income for the Masai. Tourist visiting the Masai regions in Kenya and northern Tanzania will find many beautiful pieces for sale that make great gifts for both women and men.

A beaded clutch
A beaded clutch

masai6These are a few examples of how beading was incorporated into the shows.  Keep in mind these are obviously over the top.  I can’t see anyone in my city dressing this way unless they put beading on fleece.  I would carry the clutch bag, wear a wide beaded belt, sandals and some beading here and there on clothing but certainly not all together and not masai1 (3)to excess.  masai4masai3

Louis Vuitton's take on the traditional Masai blanket.
Louis Vuitton‘s take on the traditional Masai blanket.

What would you wear?

simply satisfying – DIY Infused Sea Salts & Spices

my own blend - sel de provence
my own blend – sel de provence

Salts, Herbs & Spice make everything                            Nice.                                                       There’s nothing confusing about infusing. These do-it-yourself finishing salts are not only great to have on hand for everyday meals but they also make an excellent hostess gift.  Find a nice little container to put them in (as shown), tie a bow or ribbon & voila!  They’re not fussy and you can tweak them to your liking.


For instance, I dry fresh lavender flowers, grind them (in a coffee grinder used specifically for purposes other than grinding coffee) and then put them into a container (I keep several clean empty ones on hand for this purpose ) with either course Himalayan pink salt or kosher salt for a nice flavor to add to pork roasts or potatoes.  Add rosemary, thyme & oregano leaves for Sel-de-Provence.

Malt Vinegar
Malt Vinegar – tastes better than it looks

This simple malt-vinegarsalt takes a few minutes of work to yield a summer’s worth of pub-fries type seasoning.  In addition to chips (or any kind of potato dish), you can use it on shellfish or fried fish.  Try it on popcorn too.  I like to thinly slice Yukon gold potatoes & bake them at 375 F until done with a bit of olive oil & this salt sprinkled over them – tastes like a day at the beach.

6 Tbsp. of course salt

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ cup malt vinegar

Stir all ingredients together until a loose paste forms.  Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet & spread into a thin layer. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered for a day or two.  The paste will dry into a hard, cohesive sheet.

Rake and mash sheet with a fork until it develops into the texture of course salt.  Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dry place up to 3 months (that is, if it lasts that long).

citrus saltCitrus Salt:

This will add a bright finish to curries, soups and stews – you can even sprinkle it on banana bread.

Preheat oven to 300 F.  In a  medium bowl, mix ½ cup of flaky sea salt with 1 Tbsp. of grapefruit zest, 2 tsp. orange zest, and 1 tsp. lemon zest, working zest into salt to eliminate clumps.  Add ½ tsp. ground fennel seed, and spread across a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until zest is dried out, about 15 minutes (it should crumble when pinched).  Let cool, then store in an airtight jar up to 2-3 months.  Makes ¾ cup.

Herbs de Provence

Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence

The flavor is amazing here.  Delicious sprinkled on salads, soups, fish, chicken, beef and pork.  Did I miss anything?

2 Tbsp. dried rosemary

1 Tbsp. fennel Seed

2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers

2 Tbsp. dried Italian Parsley

2 Tbsp. Dried Savory

2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme

2 Tbsp. Dried Basil

2 Tbsp. Dried Marjoram

Grind rosemary & fennel seed in a spice grinder (which could be a second coffee grinder); transfer to a mixing bowl.  Stir savory, thyme, basil, marjoram, lavender, parsley, oregano & tarragon with the rosemary mixture. Store in an air-tight container between uses.  Makes 1 cup.

Jam containers are great.
Small size jam jars are perfect for this.

Flower Pepper (okay, I had a lot of flowers last summer – here’s a way to make them last all year long).

Aromatic Flower Pepper
Aromatic Flower Pepper

Mix black peppercorns with dried rose petals and lavender (or other edible flowers like Calendula) for a colorful mix of flavor.  Use it with salads, eggs, fish, meat, chicken or pasta dishes – pretty much everything.

The added touch: for a more personalized feel you can create your own label to stick on the lid of any jar.  The receiver will remember who it came from and what exactly is inside.

Note:   Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hayfever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergies to ingesting any flowers at all.  Composite flowers consist of a family of plants with heads composed of many florets, including the aster; daisy; dandelion; goldenrod; marigold; lettuces; ragweed; sunflower; thistle; zinnia.

AVOID: some flowers in particular to be avoided (but not a complete list) are: azalea, crocus, daffodil, foxglove, oleander, rhododendron, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily of the valley, and wisteria.

Have you ever tried creating your own versions?

Food board on Pinterest


Art/Culture/Design – the Cutting Edge of Matisse

matisse7Things you might not know about one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century:


Initially trained as a lawyer, Matisse developed an interest in art only at age twenty-one.

Along with those of Pablo Picasso, his stylistic innovations fundamentally altered the course of modern art and affected the art of several generations of younger painters.

The Fall of Icarus, 1943
The Fall of Icarus, 1943

In the summer of 1904, while visiting his artist friend Paul Signac at Saint-Tropez, a small fishing village in Provence, Matisse discovered the bright light of southern France, which contributed to a change to a much brighter palette.

Matisse’s career can be divided into several periods that changed stylistically, but his underlying aim always remained the same: to discover “the essential character of things” and to produce an art “of balance, purity, and serenity,” as he himself put it in his “Notes of a Painter” in 1908.

The Dessert: Harmony in Red
The Dessert: Harmony in Red

In the autumn of 1917, Matisse traveled to Nice in the south of France, and eventually settled there for the rest of his life.  No wonder – it’s so nice in Nice.

In the late 1940’s, sufffering from ill health, Matisse retired his paintbrush.  A spirit as creative as his, however, was not to be restrained.

The Snail
The Snail

Until his death in 1954, the trailblazing colorist snipped and tore gouache-coated paper into graphic shapes that he assembled into vibrant compositions.

Debuting at London’s Tate Modern this spring, the exhibition “Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs” features some 120 of these works, from figurative pieces – botanical tableaux, nudes – to playful abstracts such as The Snail (shown), a nine-foot square 1953 masterpiece that is as striking today as ever.matisse5 - CopyApril 17 – September 7;





My Art board on Pinterest

Souces: & Architectural Digest

Words – laughing with Chelsea Handler

chelsea1 (2)Here are some okay lots of my favorite quotes from Comedian Chelsea Handler.

Disclaimer: If you’re not okay with politically incorrect maybe end it right here.  I just saw her perform live in Seattle and while I don’t enjoy crudeness in general, when it comes from her it just seems so natural and acceptable and the lines become blurred between right and wrong. 

It’s been my experience that people who make proclamations about themselves are usually the opposite of what they claim to be. If someone is truly a loyal friend, then they wouldn’t need to broadcast it; eventually, people will figure it out. I have a lot of good friends and not one of them has ever introduced themselves by saying, “I’m a very good friend.— Chelsea Handler

I went to Africa because I wanted to know where rappers come from.” –  Chelsea Handler, “Uganda be Kidding me.”

I don’t like the word ‘alcoholic‘. I like to think of myself as an advanced drinker.” ― Chelsea HandlerMy Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands

I went out with a guy who once told me I didn’t need to drink to make myself more fun to be around. I told him, I’m drinking so that you’re more fun to be around.”
― Chelsea HandlerAre You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Then a homeless man with a dog approached us and put his hand out. This happens to be something that I have a real problem with: homeless people with pets who approach you for food when they have a perfectly delicious dog standing right there?”

I would rather sit next to a transgender person and discuss why every single one I’ve met smells like a bar in the daytime than listen to people tell my why I want to have children and that I just don’t know it yet. I do know, because I’m me and my feelings are the ones in my head. I don’t want to have kids, and it’s not a device to get attention or have conversations about it. I simply find children incredibly immature and, more often than not, dumb.”

Are you there vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. Please get me out of jail and I promise I will never drink again. Drink and drive. I will never drink and drive again. I may even start my own group fashioned after MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but I’ll call it AWLTDASH, Alcoholics Who Like to Drink and Stay Home.”

Obviously, if I was serious about having a relationship with some one long-term, the last people I would introduce him to would be my family.”

My mother told me that life isn’t always about pleasing yourself and that sometimes you have to do things for the sole benefit of another human being. I completely agreed with her, but reminded her that that was what blow jobs were for.”

“You know you’re a hot mess when the only person buying you drinks all night is yourself.”

“My relationship with my father had been on the proverbial fritz since the time I was fifteen and called the police to report him for child molesting. He had never molested me, but I wanted to have a party that weekend and needed him out of the house.”

I rolled over and picked up Us Weekly magazine off the floor. The cover had a picture of Angelina, Brad, and their little Eskimo son, Maddox. I sat staring at the photo, wondering why this little boy looks so pissed off in every picture.At first I thought he was just pissed about his Mohawk, but then I realized he’s probably furious. Maddox must have thought he hit the jackpot when some A-list celebrity rescued him from third-world Cambodia, only to discover that she was going to shuffle him back and forth to EVERY other third-world country in the universe. He’s probably like, ‘When the fuck are we gonna get to Malibu, bitch?”

Our relationship finally ended when he took to waking me up in the wee hours o the morning when he would go surfing. He thought it might be fun to have me come watch. “Fun for who?” I wanted to ask. i had never asked him to come to Happy Hour and watch me drink.

“Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important, laugh at yourself.” ― Chelsea HandlerLies That Chelsea Handler Told Me


Health MATTERS –  on the benefits of LAUGHTER 

Talking about natural medicine….

Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.


Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.health2

Laughter is good for your HEALTH:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use

What’s not to laugh about?





Personally – laughter will save you $$$ in therapy bills  

 You’ve heard the saying….laughter is the best medicine.

 When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. I hear that it can also 20140418_163701stengthen your immune system – even if temporarily.

Last Sunday six people came over for Easter dinner.  This tiny group included a good friend I’ve known for 25 years who is nearly finished going through chemo, and a beautiful young woman who was experiencing some physical pain from a recent operation & lengthy in-and-out of the hospital stay.  One of the greatest compliments someone can say is “I’m in pain but I laughed so much I forgot all about it” (the complete opposite of “I laughed so hard it hurt”)…which made me question can laughter act as therapy?  It can.

Of course you’d have to be non-stop funny to forget about pain all together but bursts of laughter here and there can really help.  The credit for all this laughter belongs to my chemo going friend.  She’s BIG, she’s BOLD & you BETTER WATCH OUT!  I think she’ll recover very well.  With her attitude and a few killer wigs – she won’t let anything or anyone stand in her way.  Some people are just entertaining by nature.

I think this holds true for smiling (the beginning of laughter) and even faking happiness (which includes smiling) at trying times in your life.  Even laughing at yourself is therapeutic in a funny kind of way. So when you encounter all those brooding mopey faced people on the streets just give them a big smile (because you can’t really laugh at a stranger) and watch what happens.

 Here are a some of my favourite quotes on the subject:

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. – Mark Twain

Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one. – Oscar Wilde

A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. – Hugh Sidey

You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it. – Bill Cosby

A smile is very disarming


beauty biz – PURE Hyaluronic Acid is worth it’s weight in water 

It all goes back to the womb. Have you ever met a baby with bad skin?

Babies are born with a high level of


hyaluronic acid, which keeps their dewy skin plump and smooth. Unfortunately, the amount of hyaluronic acid in skin diminishes with age, most significantly after age 40.

First off, don’t let the word “acid” fool you. Hyaluronic acid isn’t harsh or skin-stripping at all. In fact, it’s the exact opposite – a powerful humectant (aka moisture-binding ingredient) that keeps skin plump and hydrated which in turn means younger looking skin.

First off, let’s not mislead anyone here – disappointingly there is no “fountain of youth” magic skin cream or lotion fix that is available on the market despite various claims. The idea of remaining ageless has appealed to mankind since the dawn of time, but most of us realize this is a pipe dream. However, maintaining a youthful complexion and improving the appearance of our skin is not beyond our reach. In fact, one of the best kept secrets for naturally ageless skin is using hyaluronic acid (also known as sodium hyaluronate) serum.


Don’t get too excited but Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is known for its ability to bind up to 1000 times its weight in water.  Imagine that? When applied to your skin, hyaluronic acid serum actually helps the cells in your skin absorb and retain moisture. This helps to give you that supple glow that’s been missing.  Unlike collagen, Hyaluronic Acid is able to penetrate the skin’s upper layers to improve and benefit the skin when applied topically. HA is a major component of skin, where it benefits tissue repair and protection. When applied in an HA cream or serum, hyaluronic acid forms an air permeable layer and penetrates into the dermis, thus boosting the elasticity and hydration of the skin. The protective barrier on the skin locks in moisture, thus giving it a more youthful appearance.
As you age, the body’s HA production naturally decreases, leaving the skin dry and that’s where wrinkles start to form. Replenishing the body’s natural HA allows skin to retain moisture and provides volume, form and lift.

PRODUCT REVIEW: I received a new (to me) HA serum called “episilk” to try out and this is what the company has to say about it:

Episilk™ PHA Serum is an intensely hydrating serum that rejuvenates skin from the inside out. It improves the tone and appearance of skin by enhancing the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Its light, non-oily texture soothes skin leaving it fresh and soft while smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. PHA Serum renews your skin’s suppleness and elasticity.

The Episilk Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains just two ingredients (de-ionized water and HA), which means that the acid isn’t subject to degradation from other ingredients and also allows a higher concentration of active ingredient for your money.  Approx. price $59.95

How to use it: Apply twice a day to wet face or put a small amount on the back or side of your hand, and mix with an equal amount of water. This serum is very concentrated and adding a very small amount of water will help activate it for best results.

What I have to say:

Who am I to argue with all the beneficial research, claims and hype surrounding HA, and with only two powerful ingredients it can’t get much better.  The fact that I received this product gratis doesn’t mean that I have to report back that I like it but after having tried it for only a few days (so far) my skin feels great and looks more hydrated.  It feels similar to a previous one I tried (MyChelle Hydrating Serum, Ultra Hyaluronic) that had many more ingredients – not necessarily a bad thing but for this you want the purest form available.  The company also has other types of serums.

How I use it:

First I spritz on my own face spray (étoile – hydrating facial essence)that has EXOTIC FLORAL WATERS and THEN USE ONE PUMP OF THE SERUM. You can also use it on your Décolletage  (area on your upper chest that MANY WOMEN MISS). At night (especially in dry season) I always use a bit of FACE OIL over top of any serum.

Link for serum:

Link for exquisite face oil & spray:

 On PINTEREST: Beauty Products I can’t live without:





Global Style – just bead me up! 


 Well you never know what bracelets2the next “New Look” will be.


You can shell out for these or just take a vacation.
You can shell out for these or just take a vacation.

If you follow the latest fashion magazines, then beads and shells are IN right

Island Stylin!
           Island Stylin!

now folks. Archaeological records show that people made and used

beads as long as 5,000 years ago and I think shells have been around even longer. But sometimes it takes a while for the fashion gods to catch on.  But honestly, who has never come back from a tropical vacation without a little beading – if not in your hair, then at least on your arm.  Every summer I never fail to pull out all my shell and beaded jewelery – and there are tons.

shell4 Big shells from Hawaii on roped necklaces, beaded rasta bracelets from Jamaica, beaded sandals, belts and even a headband (I’ll have to check to find out if I can wear that now) from Brazil,

to show off my pedi
better to show off my pedi

and intricate beaded Masai jewelry from none other than Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This is what surpised me the most.  I’ve never seen anyone other than the exotic Masai tribe themselves (in Africa because they don’t travel) flaunting their Masia jewelery anywhere outside of Africa. While I’m on the subject, I just won’t believe it if their wedding neckpieces and headdresses  ever come in fashion here in North America!


Anyway, I’ve worn my Masai pieces (mostly bangles & a few chokers) on occasion because each piece takes hours upon hours of intricate  handiwork which I appreciate but never saw anyone else wearing.  And while almost no one has ever complimented me (except for Chelsea Handler – even more to my surprise) on my sophisticated assortment, I just saw a whole whack load of them in my favorite most up-to-date fashion magazine for a whole whack load more money than what I paid for mine.


Not only that, I came thisclose to giving away a great pair of beaded (hardly worn) sandals. Good thing I opened up that magazine!  So now I will with full abandon be flaunting my acquisitions from all these exotic locales which in the past seemed outdated once home.  This summer I’ll be pulling out all the stops in beaded and shell accessories.  I hope we have an exxxtra looong summer!

Do you see what I mean?
Do you see what I mean? 

How about you – are you planning to GO archaeoLOGICAL too?


Simply Satisfying: a taste of Spain – Chicken Marbella

ChickenMarbellaIt should really be called “Simply Spectacular.”

My friend Natalia turned me on to this recipe years ago, and it never fails to turn out delicious each time I make it.  While prunes and capers might seem like an odd combination, when cooked together with chicken they create a delectable sweet and sour, savory flavor. The overnight marination is essential to the moistness of the finished product: The chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare. 20140404_135007


The original recipe calls for 2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on.  Or, you can use an already cut-up chicken assortment of pieces like breast and thighs.

1 head of garlic, pureed

¼ cup dried oregano

Course salt and pepper to taste  ( I like to use kosher salt)

½ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra vigin olive oil

1 cup pitted prunes (I prefer to halve them)

½ cup pitted Spanish green olives

½ cup capers with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup white wine (if you can’t use wine, then use ½ cup of best quality chicken stock)

Fresh Italian parsley, chopped to taste

Combine Chicken with garlic, salt and pepper and all ingredients except brown sugar, wine and parsley.  Cover, and let marinate overnight to produce the best results.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Arrange chicken in a shallow baking pan in a single layer.  Sprinkle with white wine and brown sugar.

Bake for about an hour, or until juices from chicken run clear (and chicken is not pink).  Baste marinade every so often over chicken.


Tip: if the amount of oil and vinegar seems like too much – remember that amount is for about 5 lbs. so you can adjust it accordingly.  You might want to use the recipe “as is” because the juice is so flavourful and served over rice it works out perfectly.