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







Words – help to fill in the blanks

card1 (2)Of some cards that I likecard3 (2)


  I  quote others only in order to better express myself.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Writer of the French RenaissanceGarance Doré
thankyou1Many Thanks,

Health MATTERS – use your common SENSES

 To Outsmart STRESS

Stress is here to stay so we need every tool we have to help our bodies deal with it.

The latest research uncovers some surprising new ways to see, sniff, hear, taste and touch your way to better sleep, reduced blood pressure, even lower stress – all backed by real science.

Here’s a sense-by-sense guide.


essential oils

essential oils

Aromatherapy aficionados have long touted Lavender’s relaxation benefits.  It now has company in the feel-good department.  A study published in Stress and Health reveals people who regularly breathe in peppermint essential oils are even less stressed (with lower cortisone levels) than those who use lavender.  And don’t forget the uplifting scent of citrus.  Japanese researchers discovered that inhaling the smell of lemon is an instant mood booster.


Ever found yourself at the bottom of a tub of Haagan-Dazs after an intense day?  People eat chocolate and candy during times of stress.  But if you’re going to indulge, do it mindfully.  Of course there are foods that can help you to manage stress without the extra calories.  Try combining complex carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains), lean protein (beans, chicken, fish, eggs) and healthy fats (olive oil, grape-seed-oil, avocado, seeds and nuts) for snacks and meals to balance out blood sugar and stabilize energy levels.  A new study from University College London, in the U.K. showed that a daily dose of black tea reduces stress hormones.


Brain imaging shows certain music stimulates areas of the brain responsible for emotions.  A U.K. sound therapist has used this information to develop the most relaxing music ever recorded (it even slowed listeners’ heart rates).  Research at the University of Montreal stressed people out by making them do math in front of an audience.  Then they were sent to a silent room while others got to listen to Enya.  Only the music listeners didn’t experience a spike in cortisol levels.


Picasso and Plant

Picasso and Plant

20140409_155610 - CopyEnvironmental surroundings can definitely make a big difference to our stress levels.  A lot of clutter in your home or office can represent chaos.  But it’s not just about tidying up your room -hang a nice picture or paint the walls in your favourite color.  Even looking at something as small as a potted plant can help lower stress.  A study found out that workers became more productive, had lower blood pressure and felt more focused with a little flora.  Another study tracked stress levels in London city workers before and after they went to an art gallery.  After soaking up some Matisse and Picasso, the workers returned to their jobs and reported feeling less frazzled.  Tests confirmed their cortisol levels dropped.


yes, I'm due for another

yes, I’m due for another of these.

There’s a good reason so many of us book time at the spa when our stress levels max out.  The touch of massage has definite relaxation benefits. It also helps when we take a break and make time for ourselves as we tend to carry stress in our neck, shoulder and upper back. Even soothing textures can help – the feel of something soft on our skin (like a plush scarf) can have a calming effect.


How do you relieve STRESS?

Credit – Laura Bickle for Chatelaine


Personally….it’s always nice to receive a handwritten note/card/letter

Manners never go out of style.
  How many know this proper etiquette?thankyou2

card3Where have all my empty cards disappeared?  I used to keep a pile of them on hand but must have used the very last one and now have to replenish.  I didn’t go out specifically looking for the last batch – just came across some very pretty cards which I have used for a multitude of purposes. However I always end up staring at the empty space to which I’m supposed to write something clever and nothing innovative comes to mind.  It’s a bit of a struggle at first but something always manages to get written even if it’s something very simple and unadorned.  Some people just have an effortless gift with words. The main thing is to do it.  This coming from one who, for the first time in several years, did not send out even one single handwritten Christmas Card and still feel guilty about it.  More and more people are sending e-cards for holidays so maybe this is becoming more acceptable. Still, to all those (mostly out of towners) who did not receive a Christmas card from me this time, please do not take it personally.  This never happens for birthdays or other special occasions.card1

That said, are manners becoming obsolete?

As in fashion, writing is an art. In fact, etiquette expert Emily Post even suggested that, “the letter you write…is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste, and character.” For thank you notes, this may be especially true. A handwritten thank you is eminently tasteful; it demonstrates certain gratitude and anyone who has ever received one knows how much appreciation the gesture fosters.

Etiquette requires you to send a thank-you note in the following situations:

  Wedding gifts

  Bridal shower and baby shower gifts

  Holiday, birthday, Bar/Bat mitzvah, graduation, and housewarming gifts

  Sympathy letters, flowers, mass cards, or donations made in the deceased’s name

Thank-you notes are not necessarily required but are a nice gesture in the following situations:

  When a host has treated you to a cocktail party, dinner, or concert

  After a job interview

  Anytime you feel particularly indebted to someone

A thank-you note is exclusively about expressing your gratitude, so don’t worry if your note seems short and simple. The only hard and fast rule is that it be sincere — even if you cannot stomach the present, you can express gratitude for the gesture, at the very least.card2

Remember that an imperfect letter that comes with heartfelt sentiment is better than a perfect note that was never written.

A little “thank you” that you will say to someone for a “little favour” shown to you is a key to unlock the doors that hide unseen “greater favours”. Learn to say “thank you” and why not?” ― Israelmore Ayivor

  Cards by Garance Doré.
thankyou3 T
o order


Beauty biz – Under Cover

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY – another beauty product review

cle1Clé de Peau Beauté – a perennial favorite of makeup artists, models, celebrities and non celebs.

Creamy and light reflecting, this legendary cover-up is “sly like a fox and strong like an ox,” says L.A. Matthew VanLeeuwen, who works with Salma Hayek and Minka Kelly.

The balm like texture diffuses both undereye circles and blemishes but won’t leave tacky traces of its hard work.

Amada uses Ivory.  Neiman Marcus

Amada uses Ivory. Neiman Marcus

USD $70   CDN $105

Too pricey?  That depends, as it will last you at least one year and it doesn’t settle into fine lines.  I’ve had mine now for almost two years, but it still goes on nice & creamy so I don’t feel the need to trade it in for a new one just yet. If you warm the concealer a bit between your fingers it tends to blend easier.  Also, I only use it on the inner corners of my eyes.  There is good reason why this one is a cult favorite.  I haven’t come across a better one yet. You’ll just have to go to the makeup counter and decide for yourself if the price is worth it.  In Canada you can find it at Holt Renfrew.

*Available in four shades: Ivory, Ocher, Beige and Honey

 cle3InStyle Magazine named it “the best” concealer” for 2013 as well as Allure Magazine Hall of Fame award.

What’s Your Favorite Cover Up?