Lifestyle: Living Little

minimalism.  What is it you really need in life to feel comfortable?

I’ve come to appreciate that what you really need to enjoy a comfy home environment is something very simple. Other than a solid roof over your head it comes down to a few basics…a comfortable bed, hot running water and elements that work. You can fill up your living space with all the extras you like, but if you don’t have the necessary comforts (if you’re not camping in a tent, that is) you won’t feel protected and secure. After that you can add in life’s little luxuries…smart TV, laptop, blow dryer, throw pillows, designer bags, etc.

I know this because it has become my living situation in Palm Springs for the past three months. I’ve downgraded but am happier for it.  And it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only a small weight mind you.  And a weight I put there myself.  Because I wasn’t completely happy with staying in hotels (subject always to availability not to mention prices that go waaay up depending on what’s going on around town & on  weekends) and renting places (which by the way have become harder and harder to find not to mention the astronomical damage deposit fee you must leave although if you don’t wreck the place you’ll get back).  At first my husband and I ended up renting a townhouse with a lot more space but a lot less soul than what we now call part/time home.

view from the front at dusk

at sunrise

Last year when visiting Palm Springs and by an extremely pleasant turn of events (bumping into someone I know from Vancouver at a music venue who told me about this place) I discovered a small RV park very centrally located within a short walking distance to town center. With a clubhouse/pool/sauna/games room, etc. and a hiking mountain right behind the park and shops/restaurants closeby.  Bonus: tons of hummingbirds. Out of curiosity I phoned to see if any spots were available for a short stay to camp in the Eurovan this time around (in between vacating the condo rental & hotel).  They did not have anything available, however a park model RV came up for sale in a location I liked within the park so let’s just jump ahead here…I bought it.  It’s super comfy, everything works and the dogs especially love it.  You make the space your own. Each is different, some are very nice, others not.  I found that people customize to their personal liking .

patio

My husband had to fly back to Vancouver for appointments.  On a Westjet flight back to PS he sat next to an interesting woman with a female dog sitting on her lap.  It was the woman’s first visit to Palm Springs staying at her cousin’s gorgeous condo.  We ended up going for a dog walk and she came back to our pad.  She loved it and said if another came up for sale she wanted to buy it as a more affordable and perfect alternative to renting or buying a condo.  (Bonus: no property tax issues and withholding tax at time of sale.)

instead of a white picket fence, a white lattice fence which I put together myself

Apparently nothing had come up for sale in a long time and the park is usually booked up a year in advance. But to her good luck karma, a couple only two spots away from us decided they wanted to sell their lovely upgraded park model and travel elsewhere for a change.  All to say…we have a new neighbour! And Jack has a nice new little girlfriend.  Funny how things work out.

The outer surroundings where we’re located are something else – anything but minimal to counterbalance the lack of….more space.  The space is situated with a pleasant mountain view and privacy hedges (in between neighbours) and palm trees.  It has all the comforts of home.  I call it my pad-à-terre. I’ve found a very good nail place, hairdresser, tailor, dog groomer, fix-it phone guy, coffee shop and convenience store within short walking distance. You know, the other necessities of life!

outer surroundings

our daily River Walk – only a few short blocks away

The trailer itself is 350 sq. ft. of uncluttered liveable indoor space perfect for two (and a guest on occasion – there’s a pull-out sofabed) and another 400 sq. ft. of outdoor living space which is what I love the most. There are people who live here year round and others (travelers/snowbirds) who keep an RV here full time (because they like their assigned spot and want to secure the space) but only come a few months a year and the others rent space when available for days/weeks/months at a time. Park fees include garbage pick-up, electricity, cable, internet but not gas so we pay for propane. Otherwise, it is fully serviced.

another little outdoor lounge area

This one is going to be kept here year round, whether we come for one month or six.  It’s pretty simple living at it’s best. I have a bike to get around and the river walk a few blocks away to run & walk the dogs.  But I must say that if the weather wasn’t cooperative I’m not sure I could do this full-time.  Let’s just say that sunshine is a requirement for happiness!  All that Vitamin D is healthy for a person!

As it turns out I’ve discovered more about myself.  I like the simplicity of living light and having less stuff.  So maybe as the saying goes “less is more” hence the tiny houses movement right now. This is living large by comparison. Call it country chic, shabby chic or whatever…I find it to be  an excellent alternative to buying an expensive condo in the sun. It’s hassle free and in the worst case scenario if something happens I can…walk away.

It’s a bonus when the dogs match the outdoor carpet

Photos: d. king

Feel-good Friday:  SPRING  has SPRUNG 

Oh, Spring! I want to go out and feel you and get inspiration. My old things seem dead. I want fresh contacts, more vital searching. – Emily Carr

The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.” – Emily Dickinson

The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently. Gary Zukav (best selling author, “Seat of the Soul”).

I had always planned to make a large painting of the early spring, when the first leaves are at the bottom of the trees, and they seem to float in space in a wonderful way. But the arrival of spring can’t be done in one picture. David Hockney

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”  – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Spring in the Desert brings more Spring in his Step

Sundog Jack – “the grass is always greener in Spring”

Fresh Photos: d. king

Beauty: feeling flush for Spring 

with something other than the multiple winning “best of beauty” orgasm

What’s New from NARS?

NARS Narsissist Unfiltered Cheek Palette

Time to branch out from our usual Orgasm to six new Nars blush shades that comes in two cheeky limited edition palettes. Try pinks for a natural just-got-back-from-SoulCycle flush (sans all that sweat), and peach shades to brighten sallow cheeks. Whether you want a dramatic glow or a no-makeup makeup vibe, the mix of matte and shimmery finishes lends the ideal flush for every occasion.

NARS NARSissist Unfiltered I Cheek Palette – Limited Edition

  • Watch Me– opalescent gold, sheen
  • Me First– apricot, sheen
  • Takeover– copper rose, sheen
  • Out There– deep russet, matte
  • Chic– rich raspberry, matte
  • Exhibit A– red, matte

NARS NARSissist Unfiltered II Cheek Palette – Limited Edition

  • Conquest– pastel peach, matte
  • Undefeated– pale pink, matte
  • Powder Play– vivid pink, matte
  • Hot Sand– peach champagne, sheen
  • Fame– pink amber, sheen
  • Candid– mauve raspberry, shimmer

One of the Best Spring Palettes according to Allure Magazine

$59 (narscosmetics.com) and Sephora

Are there any others you can recommend?

 

 

 

Spring Style: Festival Fashion

People come from all over to attend COACHELLA

On the grounds of Coachella

The 2017 Coachella lineup is out and it’s all happening in April on a large outdoor field in Indio with lots of sun, palm trees and great music. It’s a good enough excuse for a ROAD TRIP!

I saw this t-shirt at COD (College of the Desert) outdoor weekend market.

Divas from Lady Gaga to Lorde and groups like Little Dragon will perform while everyone else stays Insanely Stylish on the ground wearing itty bitty jeans, crochet, floral dresses and fringe.  My sister & her besties are going. Here are some photos from last year for ideas on how to keep cool in the heat. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Aimee Song in Chloe

A few familiar celebrity cliques always attend

ENJOY!

Drink: Matcha

I’m going green in more ways than one.

PHOTO: Bourbon and Honey

It’s that Spring cleaning time again.  I’m going to start with my body…by drinking more Matcha. As a matter of fact I just made myself a delicious matcha latte while sitting down to write this post.

With over 4,000 years of history that’s steeped in ancient Chinese and Japanese tradition, matcha is also an untapped beauty and health resource.  That’s why for all of its many beneficial factors I love to incorporate the powder into different facets of my diet.  I like the taste but don’t get me wrong I’m hoping it will make me more beautiful on the inside and help to keep me strong and healthy too (along with a slew of other ingestibles).

Here are A FEW REASONS why it’s so good according to the experts (and me)!

GLOWING SKIN: Matcha powdered green tea has 137 more antioxidants, or EGCGs, than regularly brewed green tea. These antioxidants help protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation. They can even get rid of harmful free radicals that your body’s been holding onto. Additionally, they boost your blood flow, which can help give you that oh-so-coveted rosy, natural glow in your cheeks.

HELPS KEEP YOU RELAXED AND ALERT AT THE SAME TIME: Matcha is rich in L-theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being within your brain’s functionality. While stress can induce beta waves (which lead to an excited and agitated state), L-theanine creates alpha waves (which lead to a state of relaxed alertness). And while L-theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than your regular ol’ black and green varieties.

PHOTO: Sweet Sensations

IT HELPS YOU REMEMBER THINGS: The L-theanine in matcha also improves your memory (read: helps you remember where you put your cell phone and car keys). It can help you learn and perform better without all the usual negative side effects of caffeine. In fact, studies show that those drinking green tea filled with L-theanine were also less susceptible to “distracting information” that might hinder their tasks (i.e. less susceptible to scrolling through Instagram during the work day).

IT HELPS BOOST YOUR METABOLISM AND BURN FAT: the chemical components in matcha basically make up an internal gym for your body. Drinking matcha can help you burn more calories, while studies show it can also help you burn up to 25% more fat. Combined with a healthy diet and exercise, matcha can kick your weight loss into high gear.

IT KEEPS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY: ECGCs help keep sickness-inducing microbodies and oxidative stress in check. Matcha is also great for the type of inflammation that occurs when you have allergies or a sinus infection. Swap out your coffee for matcha during cold and flu season to reap the holistic benefits of catechins and theanine.

IT MAY SLOW DOWN THE AGEING PROCESS: Okinawa, Japan, is what scientists and nutritionists call a Blue Zone, otherwise known as a geographic area of the world where people live longer. Because one of the most common beverages among Okinawans is matcha, Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution ($16), attributed such long life spans to the daily consumption of the beverage and its cancer-fighting free radicals.

IT MAY HELP ALLEVIATE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: along with keeping you focused, relaxed, improving your immune system, and increasing your blood flow, matcha helps relieve depression and anxiety. The polyphenols found in matcha can heal you from the inside out, and therefore can make you feel happier and less stressed. Polyphenols are powerful plant-based antioxidants and micronutrients found in a lot of foods that typically bring you joy (like wine and chocolate).

The reasons listed are good enough for me to keep up this habit.  At the very least it’s nice and warming. But remember you will get the most benefits out of drinking pure matcha. But you have to be careful; you don’t want to be downing matcha lattes made with added sugar, so it’s best to either make it yourself so you know what’s in it or always ask. Just because something has “matcha” in it does not guarantee it is healthy.

Matcha la Vista baby!

Community: close neighbours

How important are neighbours?neighbours1

“Love thy neighbour” is a term that’s become almost clichéd over the years. In a time when neighbours, at least in North America, are people we rarely see (thanks to garage door openers and busy lives), or are thought of as nuisances with barking dogs guilty and noisy children, how can we possibly love our neighbours?

Well you know; you don’t have to actually love them, but it’s best if you genuinely like them.

But how close is too close?  I’m talking about people you might see on a day to day basis, sometimes only in passing.  How do you feel towards them? Them towards you? How important is it to maintain a good relationship with your neighbour? I guess it depends on how much you have in common, how close in proximity you are…but at the very least isn’t it in your best interest to be friendly?

I’ve always had good luck with my neighbours (next door, back door, upstairs + down).  In the sense that we seem to genuinely like each other to the point of naturally developing over time a genuine friendship. From the very first time I moved away from home to a place of my own, I’ve been lucky to have had great neighbours. Many have become lifelong friends. One even gave me the best gift of my life, her dog whom I fell in love with from the get-go.  She realized we’d be happier together than apart.

Unfortunately last year I lost one of my favourite ones, a woman I rented part of a house from shortly after moving to Vancouver from Montreal.  She became like a second mother and we shared a family like relationship over the years.  I remember she used to leave homemade food and baked goods outside my door and we used to celebrate holidays together.

Now I have a next door neighbor in Palm Springs who leaves homemade cookies and banana cake on my doorstep.   I certainly don’t think that I look like I need to be fed! However, when I think back to past and present neighbors, food is always involved.  One used to leave homemade pies, another pyrogies.  Just can’t seem to break the mold and that’s okay.  Sharing is a nice trait and food is a pleasant ice breaker that brings people together.  It means you have to confront the giver to say “thank you.”

I think it’s important to be on friendly terms at the very least. More often than not I’ve stayed in touch over the years with past/present neighbours and we get together from time to time.

Good neighbours can make or break your peaceful enjoyment. It’s just really nice when it turns out you legitimately want to spend time with them or be in their company even temporarily.  It makes for better neighbourhoods and people tend to look out for one another (neighbourhood watch or watch out!).  I had a neighbour from across the street call to tell me I left my door open one time when traveling and another called the police to report unusual activity.  Turns out the unusual activity was me just getting home from a trip.  It was nighttime and she didn’t recognize that it was me.  So they can be helpful. They also come in handy for watering your plants while away…if they don’t kill them instead by mistake of course not mentioning any names.

And it’s a bonus if they love your music!  How do you feel towards yours?

Feel-Lucky Friday

The half-Irish in me

Enjoying a local beer & a box of chocolate covered gummy bears (talk about luck; they now come in a convenient candy package) in a comfy reclining chair at the Pickford Theatre.

Bad St. Paddys Day Jokes:

“This is the one day of the year where green’s meaning shifts from saving the environment to polluting our major organs.”

“St. Patricks day is like Valentines day for those who love Jameson (whiskey) and bad decisions.”

“It’s also the one holiday where full-blown alcoholism could possibly go undetected.”

My favourite: “An Irish guy walks out of a bar….No; really, it can happen!”

Green Light Ahead.  I’m going for it!

Enjoy the day even if you’re not even part Irish!

New and nutritious: “pharmacy in a fruit”  

Cupuaçu

Have you heard of it?  

When I lived in Brazil I was introduced to an abundance of new (to me) super foods like Açaí, Guarana, Mangosteen & Acerola.  I was blending up these seeds and berries to make delicious smoothies long before they became known and popular in North America. As a matter of fact I never felt healthier than during the year I lived in Brazil. Now there’s a new fruit hitting the market.  It’s called Cupuaçu (pronounced koo-poo-ah-soo) and grows in the Amazon Rainforest drainage basin in northern parts of Brazil.

Some of the Benefits

Cupuacu contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 (niacin) fatty and amino acids, and at least nine antioxidants including vitamin A and C and minerals such as calcium, selenium and others.

Cupuacu’s primary health benefit is stimulating the immune system thus supporting the body’s ability to fight disease. Cupuacu has an energetic effect, but does not contain caffeine. It is one of the few cocoa relatives that does not.

Cupuacu’s benefits are synergistic. For example, the energy-boosting effect mentioned is a result of the fruit’s heightening of the immune system, lowering of blood pressure and the overall body-boosting effects of the fast-acting nutrients and vitamins from the fruit. Unlike most energy drinks or caffeine, though, there is no tired feeling afterwards.

Other synergistic effects include healthier skin and hair, lowered cholesterol levels and improved libido. In addition, many of the fruits nutrients are boosters for the gastro-intestinal system and the cardiovascular system.

Cupuaçu is wildly popular in Brazil as well as other parts of South America. For centuries, natives of the rainforest have used the fruit of the cupuaçu tree as a main source of food and it continues to be a delicacy in the more populated towns of South America.

Today, cupuaçu pulp is often used for making juice, ice cream, smoothies, mousse, jellies, chocolates called “cupualte” (the seeds used for producing this product have similar characteristics to chocolate, but contains nutritional value and is healthier.

The pulp of the fruit is frequently used in the cosmetic industry for shampoos, soaps, lotions and creams due to it being highly hydrating with its emollient power giving similar effects to your body as cocoa butter. I noticed it listed as one of the main ingredients in the jar of Suzanne Organics (by Suzanne Somers) body butter which by the way is amazing in itself.

Other common traditional uses for cupuaçu include:

  • To lower blood pressure
  • Healthy hair
  • To lower cholesterol levels
  • For Increasing libido
  • To improve brain functions
  • To boost gastro-intestinal (GI) systems
  • To stimulate skin rejuvenation
  • To achieve weight loss
  • For combating diabetes
  • To increase energy

The Amazon is so vast with its wealth of  flora and fauna that in time I’m sure we’ll be acquainted with many more amazing edibles to come.

Source: amafruits.com

 

We’re all ANIMALS

In Chinese Astrology I’m an Earth Dog.

Earth Dog Jia Jia on a hike –  March 9, 2017.  Image: d. king

Not a Pig; as formerly thought.  I had an expert look into it for me (because I’m born on the cusp it was confusing and if I put my actual birthdate it always came up “pig”) and since my boy Jia Jia was born in China, it makes perfect sense because the stars are aligned – we’re both extremely loyal and commited. We relate to each other perfectly! I always suspected I was a dog – after all, Jia Jia thinks I’m a perfect bitch!

The Dog comes in five types: metal, wood, food, fire & earth each with a specific personality description. Sharing Earth Dog similarities were Winston Churchill, Voltaire, Lady Godiva, Brigitte Bardot, Cher, Mother Teresa, Jacques Cousteau, Elvis Presley, George Gershwin, Judy Garland & Shirley Maclaine.  I must say, not a bad lineup.

But enough about me……

Predicting the future by observing the stars and planets was an ancient art long before Europeans discovered/invented the mathematics necessary to make these same predictions. However, the yearly Animal signs bear the much same relationship to Chinese Astrology as Sun Signs have to Western Astrology – a cursory overview, and over simplification. As with Western Sun Signs, the twelve Animals of the Chinese zodiac do represent archetypes useful to writers.

Find Your (or Your Character’s) Animal Sign

Style: pre-Fall preview

It’s not yet Spring let alone Summer, but since fashion is on its own calendar, the fashion folks are already calling out Pre-Fall 2017 collections. Is there really another reason for another season?

L-R:  Monse, Altuzarra, Givenchy

Pre-Fall is one of those fashion terms that doesn’t really make sense to the general public. Isn’t it kind of Spring/Summer…sort of? Pre-Fall collections arrive in stores in late Spring, and many are available through the end of the year.  As such, they tend to be full of the  wearable, versatile, seasonal clothes you live in, as opposed to runway looks.

Editors called out their favorite looks: the items they’d beg for because they need them right now, like the bold striped outfit from Monse; the dreamy, not-so-practical looks they’d like to borrow, like Altuzarra’s romantic head-to-toe floral; and the looks they’d like to steal because they feel totally new, like Givenchy’s monochromatic ruby pantsuit (with a huge agate pendant).  I wonder how many women can wear these outfits as effortlessly as these models?

FYI: I almost bought a pair of Red trousers today but it just didn’t feel… quite like me just yet.

I’m not into begging or stealing but I might consider borrowing.  How about you?

Image: Vogue