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  So now I will with full abandon be flaunting my acquisitions from all these exotic locales which in the past seemed outdated once home.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.



Art/Culture/Comedy – Anime & Chelsea in Seattle

chelsea1The “UGANDA be kidding me” tour.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a girly overnight adventure.  On Friday three of us drove chealsea2from Vancouver to Seattle to see comedian Chelsea Handler perform live at her sold-out show at the Paramount Theatre.  My sister surprised me on my birthday with tickets (she purchased them online while vacationing in Hawaii) to see her.  Chelsea couldn’t have chosen a busier weekend (being Good Friday) but luckily for us, it was relatively smooth sailing driving. Our first stop was to take in the Spring rainbow burst of colours at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival – a truly amazing row-upon-row sight to behold for flower lovers.

You know the best thing about these little adventures is not knowing exactly what’s going to happen. Were we aware that there was also an Anime convention going on at the same time?  A dead giveaway: all the people, young and old (but mostly young) dressed up in what appeared to be very unusual Halloween costumes.  chelsea3The word anime – pronounced “ah-knee-may” — is an abbreviation of the word animation WHICH ORIGINATED IN JAPAN & IS hugely POPULAR. It has a distinct look-and-feel to not just the artwork but the storytelling, the themes, and the concepts. It’s become an international phenomenon over the last 40 years, attracting millions of fans and being translated into many languages. A whole generation of viewers in the West have grown up with it and are now passing it on to their own children. Therefore, the reason for all the crazy characters we witnessed carousing the streets of Seattle. It’s unlike any of the cartoons we’re used to and the differences are many.  It was lots of fun to see.

Then there was Chelsea – our main reason for being in Seattle.  The show opened with comedian Ian Karmel who is also a writer for “Chelsea Lately” and a regular on her panel who performed about a 45 minute stand-up.  It was during this time that I broke out my flask of Van Gogh Chocolate Vodka hidden inside my purse.

Chelsea & Sis

Chelsea (right) & Sis

Then Chelsea came on stage to talk about her hilarious escapades including an African safari trip with her sister & some friends.  We purchased her book which they were selling in the lobby (in the moment) and at the end of the show she graciously signed the inside cover for us while we chatted about our mutual sister trip to Africa.  To our surprise the usually cynical comedian seemed interested to find out where we traveled in Africa and was very engaging. Yes, we had something in common.

The very next day just before heading back we went shopping. After all, what would a trip to Seattle be like without any shopping?

The tulip  festival in Lyndon, WA is a breathtaking sight to behold.

The tulip festival in Lyndon, WA is a breathtaking sight to behold.

Have you seen Chelsea lately?




Health MATTERS – Is it a cold or flu?

flu3Springtime is a time you really don’t want to get sick – but let’s face it, no one wants to get sick any time of the year.  You feel a tickle in your throat, then a headache coming on, start to sniffle or sneeze, and suddenly you feel really tired. You know you’re coming down with something – but is it a cold, or do you have the flu?

With both conditions your symptoms can include a sore throat, runny nose, headache, body aches, chills, fatigue and nausea.  The main difference is that with the flu, you’ll have a temperature above 37.8C (a normal temperature is about 37C but can fluctuate from 36.1 to 37.2 depending on the time of day and physical activity). 

Flu symptoms tend to come on suddenly, are more severe and are at their worst for the first three or four days; after that, it can take up to two weeks before you feel better.   A cold can linger anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, although one week is typical.

Viruses are the culprits behind both of these illnesses. Did you know that there are more than 200 viruses that can cause cold-like symptons?  In contrast, there are just two influenza viruses –  A and B, which continually mutate, requiring the flu vaccine to be updated each year in order to protect against the latest strains.

Cold viruses are infectious up to two days before symptoms appear and remain infectious until they’re gone. Influenza, however, is infectious one day before it appears and remains so for up to six days after symptoms develop.

The possibility of science finding a cure for the common cold “just a catch-all phrase for the many different viruses that circulate” is unlikely.  Researchers at MIT are working on a drug that kills cells that are infected by all types of viruses, including rhinoviruses (the most common for colds) and influenza, but it will be at least 10 years before it can even be tested on humans.

So, unless you have a pre-existing condition that requires medical attention, “once you get sick with a cold or the flu, you just have to get through it,” says pharmacist Valerie Kalyn, owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Calgary.  Your best bet is to avoid getting sick in the first place. How easy is this?

 flu1A prevention strategy:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time, says Marianne Trevorrow, a naturopathic doctor in Victoria and a director at the British Columbia Naturopathic Association.  If soap and water aren’t available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is the next best thing.  Supplementing with vitamin D may also help since a recent study found that people with low levels of D are the most likely to catch colds and flu. Get proper sleep, try to improve your stress levels (easier said than done), the old drink lots of fluids & chicken soup rule seems to hold true and if you must, take an over the counter remedy.

An old-school FIX for the Common Cold : even though over-the-counter decongestants and cough medicines help to relieve symptoms, they won’t speed recovery.

in raw form

in raw form

elderberry syrup

elderberry syrup

New-School REMEDY: Elderberry Extract.  The purplish extract has been shown to be effective against ten strains of influenza virus, likely by increasing the production on chemical messengers that stimulate the immune system.  When adults were given elderberry syrup or a placebo within the first 48  hours of feeling flu symptoms, those who took the elderberry (one tablespoon of the antivaral syrup four times a day) felt better on average four days sooner.  Bonus: it tastes a little like blueberry candy.


 BE Healthy & Feel Good!

Personally…it’s not too difficult letting go of some things

Like shoes, clothes, accessories, etc.

Right now I want to talk about space.  I don’t mean outer space (that was another post) but things that take up valuable space in our closets.  Okay, my closet specifically but I can bet I’m not alone.  I just did my annual Spring wardrobe cleanup and found the following:

This went into the "what was I thinking" pile.  Too big even with all the inserts -n but it was the last pair.

This went into the “what was I thinking” pile. Too big even with all the inserts – but it was the last pair.  I tried.  My sister loves them.

Several pairs of shoes that I have not worn in years and a couple pairs I wore only once (maybe twice).  A few necklaces, belts, earrings and a certain bracelet I wanted to wear all winter long.  It was stashed away very neatly in a box under another box holding a pair of very lovely seasonal shoes – but I didn’t wear them because I couldn’t remember where I put them.  I’m much more organized now but it really made me think…..about all the stuff we store.  That doesn’t mean something else won’t replace what will soon be given away, it just means more thought will go into the next purchase (which won’t be for a while – at least a week).

Too pointy - never worn

Too pointy – never worn. Kitten heals can be iffy.

So, can we stop and think for a moment about how many shoes we women (and come on, some men too) own compared to how many of them we actually wear? By that I’m referring to every single pair in our closet.  How many times have we bought a pair

once worn - now in sisters closet.

once worn – now in sisters closet.

of shoes/ boots/sandals/flipflops (have I left anything out?) only to discover they don’t fit as properly as we thought (or hoped they would), don’t really go with anything we have, or just feel plain

Steve Madden (remember Wolf of Wall Street?) but they're cute Mary Janes.  Haven't decided.

Steve Madden ?(remember Wolf of Wall Street?) but they’re cute Mary Janes. Haven’t decided.

uncomfortable when we got home? Then they sit in our closet taking up space.  You can see from the photos some of the ones that didn’t make it back into my closet.  I must remember that I live in Vancouver and walk everywhere, but I grew up in Montreal with fashion at my fingertips and it never left, even after having moved out West.

Uncomfortable yes, but so chic.  Keepers!

Uncomfortable yes, but so chic. Keepers!

These are Gucci - they look remarkably similar

These are Gucci – they look remarkably similar

While I’m on the subject, another thing I’m letting go of (when the current subscriptions run out) is my obsession with magazines.  I recently discovered flipboard (app for cellphones) but right now my U.S. mailbox (which I failed to visit for a few months) was overflowing and I really don’t like the idea of lots of paper lying around – taking up more space. magazines

Oh, before I forget, my phone has two accessories that a friend brought back from China.  It’s the latest craze in Japan too.  They dress up my cell phone (kind of like a scarf

Samsung with dangly cat & tassles - cute, no?

Samsung with dangly cat & tassles – so unnecessarily cute .


does for a purse). It just makes it a bit more difficult to take a photo – know what I’m talking about?

Have you seen them?




beauty biz: concealer review – priced high & low

concealer1Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Versus L’Oreal True Match Color Concealer


Two cover-up pencils – Two prices – Too alike?

Not that I’m trying to hide anything except for every little flaw on my face…but last week I posted about my favourite (the best) under eye concealer and now I want to mention two incredible cover sticks for general use.  You know those little spots here and there on my our faces that need to be dealt with.  Not every freckle (because we shouldn’t make everything disappear – it’s who we are) but a zit or red spot or little discoloration we want to be gone.

The Similarities:

Both are creamy and blendable.  Anything that comes in pencil/stick form is usually more convenient, I find. The ease of keeping a pencil for touch-ups is much better than having to pull out a pot concealer and brush.  The shades in each that match my skintone produces almost exactly the same results.

Both offer customized coverage from the tiniest of blemishes to larger areas of imperfections.  The tip of the crayons allow for precise application, while the side of the crayons can easily canvas a larger area of skin. At first I purchased the Urban Decay pencil and loved it, but then I switched for this new one from L’Oreal for half the price. Here are my thoughts:

The Differences:

Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil - tried this at Sephora and loved the creamy texture and smooth coverage. However, once I bought it, I went through it quickly and it made a mess in my non urban decay pencil sharpener. Why should we always have to buy a specific sharpener for a product – can’t a generic one do?  It does not sharpen smooth and breaks off certain pieces so you’ll never get the tip as precise as it first started out.  But the top goes back on much more securely than L’Oreal so you can take it with you everywhere.  Does it stay on for 24 hours as advertised? No, at least not for me. If you care about packaging then this one is nicer. Available in 8 natural shades. ($18 USD / $22 CDN).

L’Oreal True Match™ Super-Blendable Crayon Concealer – Their moto is “conceal it all – big to small.”  The innovative formula provides sheer to full coverage that blends easily and won’t look cakey. For a drugstore concealer, this is probably the best I’ve tried so far. It provided an almost perfect color match as the Urban Decay stick and of course the convenient chubby pencil is great.  The main drawback is that once you take the top off, it does not seem to go back on tight enough whereas there is never a problem with Urban Decay.  This is no big deal if you don’t mind keeping it at home but it might get messy if you travel with it.  Available in 6 natural shades.  $8.95

They’re both wonderful products however….

Based on this information, which one would you choose?


styleICON – Bringing Home the BIRKIN

birkin12Every fashion blogger is posting about Spring Style and every magazine is now showing it, but some things will remain in style all season long…like the Birkin.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson

For most of us unfortunately this luxury bag will remain inaccessible, but maybe that is part of the allure of having such an iconic bag.

It is not an “IT bag” it is “THE BAG.” Between the wait lists, the iconic namesake and its ladylike allure, the Birkin maintains as the bag to have.

The namesake: Jane Birkin  (born in 1946) is an English actress and singer who lives in France. Why is she carrying a basket? That must have been before Hermès   named it after her.

The namesake: Jane Birkin  (born in 1946) is an English actress and singer who lives in France. Why is she carrying a basket? That must have been before Hermès  named it after her.

Where did it originate?

As seen in Harper’s Bazaar  – Tracing the  Birkin Influence.




Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckam

One of fashions chicest designers, Victoria Beckam has remained loyal to the bag style.

The Stylist

Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe might possibly be credited with bringing the Birkin to modern heights.  She has an array of colorful bags.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

The Star Power

It hardly gets more glam than Jennifer Lopez.

The Next

Rita Ora

Rita Ora


Leading the heritage bag an edge with trainers and a backwards hat, singer-songwriter and actress, Rita Ora is a next generation Birkin lover.



The Devottee

Kim Kardashian can hardly be seen without the bag (surprise?) – she collects them in many colors.

The Original



Lady Gaga’s birkin comes super-studded for that avant-garde style the songstress is synomymous with.

The Weekender

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes

Ambrossia & Moss

Ambrosia & Moss

Katie Holmes garnered attention for her way over-

sized one version in bold red.

The Supers

The bag looks especially at home on the arms of Alessandra Ambrosia and Kate Moss

Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie

The Gym Bag

Nicole Richie carries hers even when she’s feeling sporty.

Street Style

A street style mainstay, the Birkin is the perfect finish for the expertly-styled.

on the streets

on the streets

Birkin Now

Birkin Now




A chic carryall for the new bitch on the block.  

Simply Satisfying: EASTER easy, but seems “gourmet” holiday ham

What are you making for Easter dinner?side2

If you’re on the hunt for something effortless and delicious then a ham is so easy to prepare and takes care of a main dish for many.  Leftovers are great – you can enjoy ham & swiss cheese sandwiches with grainy dijon for days.  In general I’m not really a ham lover (just a ham) but once a year I do enjoy this kind. Last year my main ingredients of cloves & maple syrup got rave reviews. Leave the Turkeys for Christmas & Thanksgiving and try one of these super simple recipes. For a change you can concentrate on some fancy sides. Serve with your favourites and don’t forget the chocolate.

Recipe #1


Serves 8

A good cut of meat for this recipe is the butt portion of a bone-in, *water-added ham.


  • 1 5-to 6-pound bone-in water-added ham, butt portion
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dried **apple chunks (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup golden brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

*In case you’re wondering, ‘water added’ means it has been wet cured. This is typical of most ham and bacon on the US market. Dry cured ham is more expensive, will be labeled as such, and may be so salty and dry that you will need to soak it at home before cooking. So unless you made special effort to find dry cured ham (or bacon) it is wet cured.

Tip:  **You can omit the dried apples altogether & just add a little extra apple cider instead or use a couple cut-up fresh apples.


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place ham in roasting pan and bake until thermometer inserted into thickest part of ham registers 150°F., about 15 minutes per pound. Cool ham completely. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring cider and apples to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil until liquid is reduced to scant 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Whisk sugar, vinegar and mustard in small bowl until blended. Add to cider mixture. Simmer sauce until reduced to 2 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut eight 1/2-inch-thick ham slices from bone. Overlap ham slices in glass baking dish. Spoon sauce over. Bake until ham is heated through and sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes. Transfer to platter and serve. Bon Appétit (from the magazine and in general).

Recipe #2


Tri-colour carrots look pretty & taste good

Tri-colour carrots look pretty & taste good

Makes 12-16 servings

Hams with a thick honey glaze can sometimes be too cloying. This recipe takes a more balanced approach that results in a light sweetness and a beautiful shine.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 1 (12-to 14-pounds) boneless or semiboneless fully cooked ham at room temperature 1 hour
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


Melt butter with thyme and let stand until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third.

Peel off and discard any rind or skin from ham, leaving 1/4 inch of fat on ham. Score fat on top of ham in a crosshatch pattern without cutting into meat. Put ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover ham with parchment paper, then cover roasting pan with foil. Bake 1 3/4 hours.

Meanwhile, boil vinegar in a small saucepan until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Remove from heat and whisk in honey, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme butter. Let honey glaze stand until ham has baked 1 3/4 hours.

Discard foil and parchment from ham. If there is no liquid in roasting pan, add 1 cup water (liquid will prevent glaze from burning in pan). Brush ham with half of honey glaze, then bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Brush with remaining glaze and bake until glaze is deep golden-brown and ham is heated through, about 30 minutes more. Gourmet Magazine.

okay; but as an appy?  This is the one time you get to dye for eggs.  Don't miss the opportunity.

okay; but as an appy? This is the one time you get to dye for eggs. Don’t miss the opportunity.







Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) Born January 19 in Aix-en-Provence, France

The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself – Paul Cézanne

Bathers at Rest

              Bathers at Rest

Cézanne  was best known for his incredibly varied painting style, which greatly influenced 20th century abstract art.  Both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” No small compliment.

In 1943, Pablo Picasso declared to photographer George Brassaï that artist Paul Cézanne was “my one and only master.

The seminal moment for Picasso was the Cézanne retrospective held at the Salon d’Automne one year after the artist’s death in 1906. Though he previously had been familiar with Cézanne, it was not until the retrospective that Picasso experienced the full impact of his artistic achievement. As he later put it: “Cézanne’s influence gradually flooded everything.”

Three Bathers, 1879-82 Oil on canvas 21 7/16 x 20 5/16 in. (55 x 52 cm) Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris

Three Bathers, 1879-82
Oil on canvas
21 7/16 x 20 5/16 in. (55 x 52 cm)
Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris

Cézanne early recognized the limitations of the Impressionists in their adherence to “honoring the eye” and reacted by constructing a new artistic vocabulary that synthesized reality and abstraction, the backbone of early Modernism. He also revitalized the classical concept of the nude. In 1899, Henri Matisse purchased Cézanne’s small painting called Three Bathers (1879-82) from Vollard; it remained with him for three decades as a teaching model.

Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The work’s significance lies in its demotion of the nude to an earthbound status that would eventually reach the peak of its final metamorphosis in Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).  A comparative study of Picasso and Cézanne is not new. Imagine how many Ph.D. theses had been devoted to the topic.

Still Life: Plate of Peaches, 1879-80. Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 73.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser 78.2514.4

Still Life: Plate of Peaches, 1879-80. Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 73.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, N.Y.

Cézanne set up his still lifes with great care. A testimony by an acquaintance describes his method of preparing a still life: “No sooner was the cloth draped on the table with innate taste than Cézanne set out the peaches in such a way as to make the complementary colors vibrate, grays next to reds, yellows to blues, leaning, tilting, balancing the fruit at the angles he wanted, sometimes pushing a onesous or two-sous piece [French coins] under them. You could see from the care he took how much it delighted his eye” (But when he began to paint, the picture might change in unusual ways. Cézanne seems to be painting from several different positions at once. He believed that the beauty of the whole painting was more important than anything else—even more important than the correctness of the rendering (Robert Burleigh, Paul Cézanne: A Painter’s Journey [New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2006], p. 18).

Inevitably, we see him as the point where modern art began: so the first room of thecezanne1 (2) Museum of Modern Art in New York, in its current hang, gives us a Gauguin and three Seurats on the left; outnumbering them, on the right and straight ahead, are half a dozen Cézannes. But, just as inevitably, in his own time they could see more clearly where he came from than where he would lead. So a friendly critic called him “a Greek of the Belle Époque”. Renoir said that his landscapes had the balance of Poussin, while the colours in his “Bathers” “seem to have been taken from ancient earthenware”. Cézanne, like all serious members of any artistic avant-garde, was constantly learning from previous masters, studying Rubens all his life. And while we might admire his daring fragmentations of vision, what the painter himself sought was “harmony”, which was nothing to do with “finish” or “style”.

Cézanne had his first one-man show in 1895, at the age of fifty-six.cezanne4