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Archive for February, 2009

Partisan Ties? Obama’s Ottawa Visit

[ 0 ] February 20, 2009

It seems people are anxious to read the tea leaves wondering how Obama will fare over the next four-to-eight years and whether U.S/Canada relations will improve under the new administration.  Canadians are also nervous about their own (minority) government which is likely headed for yet another election.

The media coverage of Obama’s first presidential visit to Canada was at times, amusing, especially when tv journalists asked pressing questions like ‘Why didn’t Obama call the Prime Minister by his first name?’ or ‘I am told President Obama is enjoying a beaver tail at the local market’ (that’s a fried pastry, btw).

All that overanalizing and giddy reporting encouraged me to look for my own useless clues:  I settled on their ties.

President Obama and PM Harper in Ottawa Feb.19, 2009 (photo: PMO)

President Obama and PM Harper in Ottawa Feb.19, 2009 (photo: PMO)

Throughout the U.S. election, then-senator Barack Obama appeared to make symbolic overtures to conservative voters by wearing Republican red ties.  Michelle Obama even wore a bright red dress on election night (although that dress was not tv friendly).  Now, it seems Obama has gone back to blue.  He proudly dons his party’s colors while riding a wave of optimism during the honeymoon phase of his administration.

Analyzing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tie is, like the man, a bit more complicated.  In Canada, party colors are reversed with the Conservatives owning blue.  I couldn’t help but wonder what was behind Harper’s choice of red tie with a few diagonal blue stripes.  Was he taking a page out of Obama’s election handbook employing the age-old strategy of befriend thy enemy by wearing their (Liberal) party colors?  Perhaps that little splash of blue on his tie was Harper’s way of assuaging Conservative fears that he is acquiescing to too many Liberal demands?

I can’t wait for the next presidential visit.  Hopefully President Obama will bring the First Lady giving us even more opportunities to overanalize.

Curb Your Cravings With Steel Cut Oats: Recipe

[ 0 ] February 19, 2009

Maintaining a reasonable weight can be a challenge especially when bombarded with “news” about what NOT to eat.  How about taking a different approach – adding foods to our diet that help cut down on cravings and binge eating?  Steel cut oatmeal is, in my opinion, a superfood.  It is a whole-grain breakfast cereal that is incredibly nutritious and tasty if you add some key ingredients (see my recipe at the end of the article).

Oats – Steel Cut Organic – 4/24 Oz Oats – Steel Cut: GR

Oats - Steel Cut Organic - 4/24 Oz Oats - Steel Cut: GR

Steel cut oats are quite filling and will likely reduce or eliminate mid-morning cravings for naughty foods like store-bought muffins and cookies.  These oats act like an internal body cleanser sweeping through the body like a sponge, cleansing and regulating your digestive system.  You can increase the nutritional benefits by adding milk and ground almonds.  Canadian maple syrup and a touch of pure vanilla extract will take this to another level.

Steel Cut Oats – Breakfast Cereal

1 cup steel cut oats

3 1/4 cups water

1 cup milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup ground raw almonds

Maple syrup or other sweetener, for serving

Rinse the oats in a mesh strainer to wash away any residue.  Soak them in water for at least a 1/2 hour.  This will dramatically cut down on cooking time.

Add the water/oats mixture to a saucepan.  Bring to a boil on maximum heat then reduce it to medium.  Add milk.  After 15 minutes, give it a stir and add salt, vanilla and ground almonds.  If you like the consistency, remove from heat and serve.  This will continue to thicken so if the consistency is already thick you might want to add more milk.  Don’t add water as it will separate at this point.  Serve this with maple syrup or your favorite sweetener and enjoy.

*You can eat this through the week too.  Just refrigerate leftovers and reheat with some more liquid – milk!  It’ll taste even better since the flavours will have completely marinated.  Remember to drink a lot of water throughout the morning.  That will help the oats do their thing!

Punk Rocks Again Thanks to Marc Jacobs

[ 0 ] February 18, 2009

All eyes were on “Master Marc” and the man, clad in a black kilt and combat boots did not disappoint.  His Fall 2009 collection is fab-u-lous… a bit of something for everyone so long as you are not a wallflower.

A tanned, toned Marc Jacobs debuts his Fall 2009 collection during NY Fashion week.

A tanned, toned Marc Jacobs debuts his Fall 2009 collection during NY Fashion week.

I have to admit I was not too impressed by NY Fashion Week until this show.  Jacobs’ ode to the era of 1980s punk rock is right on time. Check out these shoulder pads below.

Sharp shoulder alert: Wear safety goggles when passing by.

Sharp shoulder alert: Wear safety goggles when passing by.

The collection rocks.  My personal favorites include: an aerodynamic gold bustier – remember that show “The V”…

Bold, striking bustier

Bold, striking bustier

The collection seemed to have a bit of everything: fun and spontaneity courtesy of neon-colored coats and sensuality too – sexy, suede thigh-high boots.

A sexy, wearable look for Fall 2009

A sexy, wearable look for Fall 2009

This collection makes me want to go through my old record collection (yes, records).  Doesn’t the model (in black and white) resemble Siouxsie (sans the Banshees) or Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders?

Punk meets glamour.

Punk meets glamour.

If you’re ready to make a statement, this collection is for you.  It’s Judy Jetson-meets-Pat Benatar…punk rock pretties.  The perfect prototype to battle the mood of economic doom and gloom, no?

Top 12 Fruits & Vegetables To Eat Organic

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009

Most people would attest to the merits of eating food not sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals but often it is the wallet which decides whether you ‘go organic’.  In fact, eating organic is still considered by some to be a luxury and not a necessity.  As people hunker down and prepare for the economic storm headed our way, frivolous spending is likely being curtailed including $4 lattes from Starbucks (no surprise it reported poor quarterly results).  In this tough economic climate, promoting the benefits of organic fruits and vegetables may prove to be a tougher sell, too.

Apples and peaches score highest on the pesticide scale.

Apples and peaches score highest on the pesticide scale.

For those who can still afford to buy only organic foods, good for you.  If however, you are forced to compromise then check out the list below.  It states the top 12 fruits and vegetables to eat organic since they score high on the pesticide scale.  For a complete list of organic produce to eat and more importantly, which foods to avoid (due to high levels of pesticides) please visit for more information.

Top 12 Fruits & Vegetables to Eat Organic

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet Bell Peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Lettuce

9. Imported Grapes

10. Pears

11. Spinach

12. Potatoes

How to Wow Your Valentine – On A Budget

[ 0 ] February 11, 2009

So Valentine’s ‘weekend’ is fast approaching.  That’s great news if you are planning to spend extra time with your beloved.  Not so great if you routinely use the excuse ‘I didn’t have enough time to plan something special’.  With so many retailers promoting this as a weekend extravaganza the pressure is on to get it right.  Before you fret about having to spend a lot of cash, though, realize that it is possible to have a romantic, sexy time – on a budget.

Breakfast/brunch in bed:

The one who likes or rather, knows how to cook (assuming one of you does) prepares a rich, hearty breakfast for two.  This is an opportunity to show off your culinary skills as long as your partner plays the role of ‘sous chef’ and/or helps clean up afterward.  Make a classic breakfast that fills your honey’s heart and tummy.  My personal favorite: Whole grain pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, blueberries and apples sauteed in butter and syrup; savory, sauteed potatoes; organic eggs and great coffee (freshly ground) or loose leaf tea brewed to perfection.


Break away for a few hours (absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?) and call your other valentines – no, not your secret lover but your mother, sister and in-laws.  You’ll score major points.  Squeeze in a vigorous workout too.  It will prepare you for later…


Treat your Valentine to a great dinner especially if you were ‘served’ breakfast earlier.  Hopefully you already made reservations at your favorite restaurant.  Don’t rule out take-out though.  It could be incredibly romantic especially if you set out the candles and fine china.  You also won’t have to travel too far to get the late-night activities underway…

The True Love gift set from LUSH contains sexy bath and massage products ($42.95 Cdn).

True Love gift set from LUSH contains sexy bath and massage products ($42.95 Cdn).

A wonderful way to set the mood is a romantic bath for two and a sensual massage.  It’s cost-effective and incredibly sexy.  My love affair with LUSH Cosmetics continues as they roll out great gift products like the limited-edition True Love set.

It contains their best-selling products including the Sex Bomb.  Three-is-not-a-crowd when you drop this bomb into the tub and watch the water turn pink, infusing the room with the scent of sensual jasmine.

Then it’s time to flex those fingers and massage one another with the heart-shaped, chocolate and honey-centered Soft Coeur Massage Bar.  Massage is the best way to relax your muscles and get you in the mood.  Best of all, you don’t have to pay the masseuse (not with money anyway :-)

The ultimate hangover cure:  LUSH's Hello Sailor gift (12.95 Cdn).

The ultimate hangover cure: LUSH's Hello Sailor gift ($12.95 Cdn).

Oh, and if you happen to wake up the next morning with a (well-earned) hangover LUSH has the remedy for that too – the Hello Sailor gift set.  It includes two shower sensations:  A sea salt shower scrub called Rub, Rub, Rub and the ultimate hangover cure, a peppermint and fennel-scented Too Drunk Emotibomb.  This is quite the product from LUSH.  Just place it in the shower, turn on the water and stand there – or sit if you don’t have the energy!  It will re-energize your senses and get you ready for round two… or three!

It is possible to spoil your Valentine this weekend and you can do it on a budget.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours…

LUSH Skin’s Shangri La Moisturizer: Review

[ 0 ] February 5, 2009

Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer from LUSH is simply spectacular.  Before coming across this product, I often wondered how stars like Halle Berry or Jennifer Lopez got that glowing, dewy look.  Over the years, I searched (unsuccessfully) for a cream that would give that glow without clogging pores or turning my face into an oil slick.  My search is officially over.

Skin's Shangri La from LUSH gives that lovely, dewy look.

Skin's Shangri La from LUSH gives that lovely, dewy look.

In just a few days, Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer has become my favorite face cream relegating other products to the sidelines.  This cream seems perfect on all levels: price, performance and pleasant scent.

Price:  At $44.95 Cdn, I would consider this moisturizer to be reasonably-priced.  Yes, it is more expensive than a lot of drugstore brands but it is much, much cheaper than prestige products which make big promises but fail to deliver.

Performance:  Skin’s Shangri La contains a potent mix of antioxidants including fresh seaweed and wheatgrass water.  It also has cold-pressed almond and jojoba oils.  I have tried those oils in pure form – they did not work for me at all.  It seems they need to be ‘in bed’ with other ingredients like organic cocoa butter and evening primrose oil.  Great formulation.

Pleasant scent:  So not only is Skin’s Shangri La reasonably priced, loaded with antioxidants, and gives that much-sought-after dewy look, it also has a very pleasant scent – like soothing vanilla.  I don’t normally appreciate a vanilla scent in a face cream but this is a very mild fragrance.

In a span of a few days, I have already converted my mother and a friend to this product.  We all have different needs but this moisturizer delivers the goods.  Oily skin types who find this too rich may want to check out LUSH’s lightweight Gorgeous moisturizer (see my review).

One final note:  It would be great if Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer came in a pump bottle rather than a plastic tub but it is still worth it.  If potential contamination is a concern just use a tiny, plastic spatula.  All in all though, this is a wonderful product!

LUSH Skin’s Shangri La moisturizer.  Buy it here.

$44.95 for 45 grams

LUSH Gorgeous Moisturizer: Review

[ 0 ] February 5, 2009

LUSH could not have come up with a better name for this product.  Gorgeous moisturizer is just that – gorgeous.  It is smooth as silk with a breathtaking floral scent.  Now I’ll be honest:  At $84.95 a jar I really did not want to like this.  But I do.  A lot.  Unlike many prestige products that are priced high just for marketing purposes, this product really does deliver.

LUSH Gorgeous moisturizer: Expensive but wonderful.

LUSH Gorgeous moisturizer: Expensive but wonderful.

After taking a closer look at the ingredient list I understand why this is the most expensive product at LUSH. Gorgeous moisturizer contains a number of nutritious oils which are cold-pressed, the best way to extract essential vitamins and nutrients.  Also, the product is scented with neroli (orange blossom) oil and water.  Neroli is one of the most expensive oils on the market mainly because it takes a lot of those tiny, white flowers (picked by hand) to get just a drop of oil.

Throw in for good measure, the royal connection.  Neroli is named after an Italian princess from the Renaissance period.  It became her trademark after she scented her gloves with the precious flowers.  Centuries later, another royal – Princess Diana – would use this actual cream.

Back to Gorgeous:  It is a lightweight moisturizer more suited for combination, oily skin or during the summer.  For dry skin types who fall in love with this like I did (it is addictive) you will likely have to ‘top-up’ with another, heavier moisturizer.  If you want to stick with the LUSH brand I would suggest Skin’s Shangri La (please see my review for that cream too).  You may want to use Gorgeous sparingly.  The scent is glorious but it may be overpowering if you wear too much.  Plus, it is not cheap.  What’s that saying, ‘too much of a good thing’…?

Lush Gorgeous Moisturizer.  Buy It Here.

$84.95 for 45 grams

LUSH Dream Cream: Review

[ 0 ] February 4, 2009

Dream Cream by LUSH is absolutely divine.  I have been searching for a body lotion to soothe, soften and most importantly, moisturize my dry skin during the harsh Canadian winters.  This cream does that and much, much more.

LUSH Dream Cream is absolutely divine.

LUSH Dream Cream is absolutely divine.

Dream Cream is loaded with antioxidants such as vitamin e-rich olive oil, skin-softening oat milk and soothing rose water.  It also contains lavender and chamomile oils to help you relax after a hard day’s work and guarantee you a great night’s sleep.  Trust me, this is the only “sleep aid” you will need.  However, do not let the name fool you.  While this cream will ensure your head hits the pillow dreaming of sheep and all things ethereal it is also the perfect body moisturizer to start your day.  Slather this all over, especially after a shower while the skin is damp.  It has a soft, subtle fragrance obtained from botanical oils making it an ideal compliment to your “day scent” but you may be tempted to just shelve your other fragrance (especially if it is derived from synthetic ingredients) and make this lavender-and-rose potion your everyday scent.  Added bonus?  Like LUSH’s face moisturizer Skin’s Shangri La, Dream Cream leaves a beautiful sheen on your skin, a wonderful glow.

As for the price, $24.95 Cdn may seem a bit steep for a body moisturizer but as I discovered with other LUSH products a little goes a long way.  Dream Cream also contains a wide spectrum of skin goodies so that should be reason enough to treat your skin to this wonderful product.  Oh, and it is great for massages too, especially if you are on the receiving end!

LUSH Dream Cream Hand & Body Lotion.  Buy It Here.

$24.95 for 240 grams

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