Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Halloween Caramel Sauce

So it’s getting near that time of year. Whether its Halloween sweet cravings or the colder weather…all of us are reaching for more and more snacks these days. I am never one for replacing chips with carrots or celery….However, there are healthier ways to treat your sweet tooth without feeling guilty later. Here is a quick and yummy recipe that makes you feel a little less guilty about the pound of caramel sauce you just ate.
Feel free to add cookie crumbs or chocolate bar bits to curb your cravings:
• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (room temperature )
• caramel sauce
• 1/2 (11 ounce) package toffee pieces
• 4-5 green apples, cut into slices
1. Spread cream cheese on platter.
2. On top of cream cheese spread caramel dipping sauce.
3. Sprinkle toffee bits on top of caramel sauce.
4. Serve with green apple slices.

And that's ONLY 3 Weight Watchers Points....just in case you're counting (PHEW!)

Religulous on a New Earth

Rarely do I combine two wonderful reviews in one article. However, my views on life and the future of our world were changed for the better this past week because of the movie RELIGULOUS and an insightful book called: A NEW EARTH.

Relgulous is a new documentary in theaters starring comedian BILL MAHER. Educational and also hilarious, this movie opens your eyes to what you might have already known: we DON’T have the answers to everything or anything for that matter. Yeah, no kidding! We don’t know anything. However, this movie also asks, if we don’t know everything about the past, our future or religion for that matter, then why do we pretend to know? I could go on and on about why this movie is profound and informative in so many ways. I chose to comment on the most central message of this movie: WE SHOULDN’T PRETEND TO KNOW WHAT TOOK PLACE IN THE PAST, AS THIS ONLY SERVES TO ENCOURAGE IGNORANCE…the results of such ignorance (as illustrated in this movie) are wars, political upsets and overall everyday conflicts as humans try to coexist in a world where our past (or our supposed beliefs of the past) serve to divide us more and more.

A NEW EARTH is a book written a couple years ago by Eckhart Tolle. Eckhart seeks to explain the reason behind most human behavior and why evil can exist in a world full of good intentions. This book has nothing and everything to do with the central message in RELIGULOUS. According to Eckhart, we believe and think what we do to reinforce our ego. It is human nature to feed our hungry ego thereby saying and doing things to make us feel better about …yes…you guessed it….ourselves! Through becoming more aware of our constant need to make ourselves feel good, we become more open minded and able to work with others.

If we DON’T know all the answers and we will never know…then why pretend? Pretending that we are being watched over by a GOD and that we were created and chosen by a higher being helps us sleep at night. It gives us (false) reasons and excuses for our actions. Above all, it reinforces our EGO, our need to feel superior and better. The majority of problems in our world stem from our need to say one religion or view is BETTER than the other…we are better than you…we know more than you. But are we better? Do we know more than others? Or as Eckhart reasons, is this just an act of the EGO? Is it fair to say Religion and similar beliefs were created to reinforce the evil inside of us? Perhaps if we became more AWARE of others viewpoints and our own need to be the best (or have the best ideas about creation) then maybe we would be able to see the good in others or their ideas and actually ACCOMPLISH something.

Oh and by the way…go see RELIGULOUS and read A NEW EARTH …if anything your eyes will be opened to how much you really don’t know or have been pretending to…scary!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Shopping Ban: Do we Need It?

On the train back to London last Sunday I read an article in the Observer Magazine (my favourite supplement) by Samantha Weinberg. She had decided to give up shopping for a whole year, purchasing items only when strictly necessary. This got me thinking. You see I had just spent the weekend visiting a good friend in York consisting of shopping, eating out, gossiping and drinking wine. To be honest I was pretty proud of my purchases, I had bought a couple of books I had my eye on for a while at charity shops, a pair of new jeans for more than half the original price, a lovely new turtleneck, that fits me in all the right places and a fantastic leather bracelet (for my inner Goth-side). So why did I care so much about this article? I didn’t feel bad about my purchases. It’s true some people over indulge…but I hadn’t. I rarely spend money on unnecessary things, not so much for the environment (as was the case that sparked Weinberg’s quest) but rather I like saving (I’m a prude like that). Plus the things I do buy I really like and only replace when it’s essential. In fact, with basic things like t-shirts & sneakers I get a little attached to my old ones and it’s hard to let go…worn in shoes are so comfy. So what was it?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reason is society’s need to overindulge! That’s right, you heard me correctly. Why we do we need these ‘quests’ in the first place? Like most things in life – food, drinking, exercising, TANNING (!) people over indulge to the point that we need to give ourselves goals in order to refrain from doing something we already know we shouldn’t. We’ve had it easy for a while, the economy has been good. Very good. But now, everything is changing and people are starting to realize that we can’t continue the way we have been in the past. I’m no preacher, god I reward myself when something great happens in my life (or even if something bad happens, to cheer me up) but I’m not greedy. Point: take it easy because not all of us can end up like the Shopaholic.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Social Blunders

We have all been there, some of us, more often than we would like to admit; foot- in- mouth disease. Ever heard of it? Well it’s this very phenomenon that inspired this article. Why do we say the worst things at the worst times? What were we thinking? More importantly, how do we recover? I didn’t realize there was so much information about this topic on the internet. I guess I am not the only one who seems to commit social blunders or be a victim of one. Should I start a support group?

I wish I could come up with a guide to overcome/apologize for social blunders. However, I don’t have any idea of where to start. So I decided to write about what ALWAYS makes me feel better: other people’s mistakes

You think getting drunk on the weekend and calling your friend’s “white trash” was bad…here are some situations that might make you feel better:

Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch:
In 2005, Tom Cruise became the object of public ridicule after he jumped atop a couch on the Oprah Winfrey Show to profess his love for his now-wife, Katie Holmes. In 2006, Paramount Pictures ended its 14-year relationship with the star, and many blame the split on Cruise's very public relationship, embracing of Scientology and condemnation of psychiatry.

Ashlee Simpson's SNL appearance:
Ashlee Simpson was scheduled to perform two songs on Saturday Night Live in 2004. She performed one without incident, but when the wrong track started for her second song, viewers heard Simpson's voice before she raised her microphone to her mouth -- revealing she had been lip synching. Simpson's camp cited acid reflux as the reason for her lip synching, but the event still dogs her reputation.

And some not so memorable quotes:

'Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff' - Mariah Carey

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life," - Brooke Shields (during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign)

"I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them" George Bush

"I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman"
– Arnold Shwarzenneger

'So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?' – Christina Aguilera

Wow! I hope that made you feel a little less self conscious about your blunders than before. If not, here is a youtube video that shows a selection of mistakes by none other than George Bush..happy viewing

Friday, 17 October 2008

Put me in your Suitcase: Copenhagen

The story goes that the largest island in Denmark, Zealand; was created when the godess Gefjun and her 4 strong oxen were plowing land in Sweden (given to them by the King Gylfi) that the earth was loosened by the deep and wide plows then thrown out into the sea, thus creating the lake Lögr in Sweden and the island which homes the happiest city in the world: Copenhagen. This past weekend I wanted to find out why this city was given the prestigious title.

To get oriented I always like to take a walking tour however in this case I’d definitely recommend taking a boat ride down the canal, it’s about an hour long and they leave every half hour from Nyhavn giving you the best views of the city and surrounding islands. Also, using a bike is a great way to cover a lot of land in a short time. Bike lanes are clearly marked on all roads and there are lovely paths which hug the canal leading to the Little Mermaid (which is in fact little!). They can be rented from the information center near the central train station (leaving no excuses).

Food always makes me happy, so how did Danish food measure up? You ask, well not to shabby. Danish pastries are heavenly, if you’re lucky enough to get them right out of the oven (like myself) they would melt in your mouth…mmmmm! The traditional Danish lunch is smørrebrød which is an open-faced sandwich of usually fish or warm deli meats, on rye bread. I had a yummy smoked salmon one at café Sorgenfri. If you start to feel a little peckish in between meals there are plenty of hot dog stands around worth trying. A hole is punctured in the bun (length-wise) then filled with your choice of condiments completing the treat is the long skinny ‘dog’ which is then placed inside leaving a bit hanging out for show.

Copenhagen gains points for their vast array of attractions from Tivoli Gardens a huge amusement park with an impressive garden, hotel and grand restaurant. Built in 1843 it is the oldest amusement park which is still intact. To the handful of castles scattered all over the city. I ventured to the Rosenborg Castle, once a summer home for the royal family and boasting the crown jewels and memorabilia from past generations of the monarchy. Don’t forget about the art galleries and museums, most of which are free or have specific days which allow free access. Oh and the Carlsberg Brewery.

Speaking of beer, Charlie’s Bar is a great hidden treasure tucked away from the high street where you can relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing. The owner refused Carlsberg’s demand to stock their specific beers that it sought the best from the rest the world. Now a vast of wonderful ales and lagers from the around the world are provided on tap.

With friendly smiles and warm welcomes everywhere we went it’s hard to criticize the city’s title. Along with great food, yummy beer and a vast amount of things to do I can see why they were given it in the first place (well, that and the fact that the government pays YOU to go to university…just maybe that helped!).

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ear Candling

Ever get the feeling that you have pressure built up in your ears? Have you ever felt like people around you can see the wax in your ears even if you Q-tipped yourself all morning? You are not alone. Being an open organ, your ear is susceptible to all kinds of bacteria and wax buildup that a Q-tip will never reach. Think about it, there is just a thin layer or hair (cilia) protecting your ear from the outside world. Is your ear getting itchy just thinking about it? Mine is.

I have heard of ear candling before however I was never brave enough to try it. My aunt swears by this old ritual wherein a lit candle is used to draw out the residue/wax in your ears. There are various techniques that vary in safety depending on what is lit (the candle or the wick) and where the candle is placed. The procedure costs about $25 for 45 minutes (you switch ears halfway through). Your ears are drained of everything and anything that has called it home for years. Apparently, this procedure feels amazing and leaves one astonished at what came out of their ears. Candling experts claim it cures everything from wax buildup to sinusitis and vertigo.

I went to a local spa to find out more about ear candling. I was told it is a very safe procedure that is even performed on babies. I was reluctant to book an appointment after doing some research and reading the following articles here and here.

Do the cons outweigh the pros? I guess I will have to read more and make an informed decision. I do know one thing. Ever since I have heard about this procedure, my ears have been aching to try it out. Hopefully I didn’t pass the urge onto you. Until next time…

Friday, 10 October 2008

Productive Suzie

Sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day, everyday could make anyone a little unenthusiastic. With the world happening out ‘there’ while we’re stuck in ‘here’ it’s no wonder we reflect on what we could be, if we only applied ourselves…a little more. Dreams of traveling the world, hobnobbing with celebrities and eating the finest delicacy sweep into our mind. Why can’t we have that life? Of course you can. So why then are most of us dreamers instead of doers? Why can’t we find the motivation to break the routine chain of office life and live the way we want? The answer is pretty easy because we’re scared. It’s not a bad thing to be comfortable (I’m one to talk) in our routine. Some people don’t like change but for those of us who just need a little push I’d like to introduce a great movie that I’ve recently (if 4 months ago counts as recent) seen and a witty novel (again read this a year or more ago) that might just do the trick.

Man on Wire:
This is an inspirational documentary about French tightrope walker Philippe Petit and his daring high-wire routine across the newly built World Trade Center twin towers in 1974. I was lucky enough to attend one of the first screenings in London followed by a Q&A with Philippe and the director. After the viewing I felt like I could conquer anything. When my boyfriend and I returned home, my boyfriend who had been neglecting the gym and feeling guilty about it for a week decided that right then and there he was going to change that…he went for a run, a long one.

Then We Came to an End
Fine this book might not motivate you to drastically change your life, but its witty collective narrative presented in the ‘we’ format simulates the boredom that’s often present in the workforce. And ponders the question: Is there life after the ‘office’? You can read an excerpt here. After reading this book I actually started to enjoy my office life and paid more attention to the idiosyncrasies that made ours different.

What helps motivate you?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Spanx giving?

Ok, more like Spanxforgiving. But who cares right? You only have one day (well not if you count Christmas or Halloween) to indulge and pay the price later. Here is a great recipe for Sweet Potato pie courtesy of All Recipes. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and aren’t nearly as bad for you as say...Aunt Abel’s apple pie with 5 cups of sugar. Either way give it a try, you won’t be disappointed:

• 1 (24 ounce) package Simply Potatoes® Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
• 1/3 cup Better'n Eggs
• 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
• 1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
• 1 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crust (from 15 ounce package)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl whisk or stir together all ingredients except pie crust; mix until well blended.
2. Unroll pie crust; press into 9-inch pie pan. Crimp edges as desired. Pour sweet potato mixture into pie crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean, covering crust with foil if it browns too quickly. Cool completely. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Greatest Gift of All…The Gift of Gratitude

We are so busy. Aren’t we? We rarely take the time to step back and think about where we are, what we want and more importantly, what got us here? Being female, we are prone to self-criticism, doubts and other negative thoughts. When something goes wrong, we are the first ones to get disappointed, frustrated and pessimistic. How many of us sit back and really think about how awesome our lives are? When we are in a slump, we rarely remember the great things that surround us everyday. At the risk of sounding more and more like Oprah, I encourage you to think about the things you should be grateful for.

When my life took a turn for the worse a couple years ago, many friends were around to offer guidance, a shoulder to cry on, or their words of wisdom. Looking back, I can say that everyone was as helpful as they knew how to be. My friend Becky took another route. She had an idea of what I had been through and decided to pass onto me a gift that she had received during a similar time in her life: Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I know many of you have heard about this book or other types of books about gratitude on Oprah. They all seem to follow “the Secret” way of thinking. I don’t claim to endorse any of these books or their ideals. I can only speak of my personal experience with gratitude

The idea of writing in a journal the things that I was grateful for or appreciated everyday seemed cheesy. Moreover, it seemed like an insurmountable task. What the hell did I have to be thankful for? I was angry and alone. But therein lays the problem. I was so busy feeling miserable and pessimistic; I never took the time to experience gratitude. Something, some urge, forced me to pick up a pencil and write down even the smallest joys of each day. This became a ritual for a year and a half. (Unfortunately, Becky’s book only latest a year, so I began to write on lined paper). Some days I found the list easy to compose, other days, it was a struggle to think of anything that made my life happy. But I persisted.

My life soon became better and I started to be more optimistic about my future. I never thought writing in a book everyday and taking that extra time to reflect would have such an impact. I have recently started to feel the same way I did two years ago. I feel lost and alone with many problems that have no solutions. I have since realized that I haven’t taken the time to be grateful for those things around me. I just keep digging myself into a deeper hole of negativity when I think about all the challenges I am facing and the rut I am stuck in. So I have begun writing down everyday what I love about life. I will keep you posted on my progress…but something tells me I already know the outcome. When you are truly grateful for what you have, you have no room for negativity. You believe in yourself, your future and the gift of gratitude…a gift that keeps on giving. (want some wine with that cheese?)

Friday, 3 October 2008


In case you haven’t been to bluefly.com, I suggest you drop by. This site has awesome sales on apparel, handbags, accessories and even housewares. The best part of all, is that you can search by designer, colour, category etc. BCBG dresses for $40, Gucci sunglasses for $130...the list goes on and on. You are guaranteed to save 30-75% off regular prices for designer items. There is also a section called fly paper or fly tv where you can check out info on fashion and bluefly updates. You will not be disappointed!

Angry Annie: Walking, how hard could it be?

From the age of 2 we learn one of the most fundamental human instincts: walking. Why then, is it that most of my big city frustrations come from people who can’t walk properly? There are ‘silent’ rules or walking codes if you would, that I assumed (my fault I know) that everyone knew. I’m going to make it a little easier on everyone and just go over the basics so hopefully all of us (both slow and fast walkers, because we’re of a different bred) can coexist on the busy city sidewalks.

Eyes: It’s important to keep your head up and eyes looking ahead. I know some people are a little self-conscious but honestly no one is paying attention to you, they’ve got other things to worry about (harsh? maybe. True? definitely!) With your head up and eyes looking straight ahead (doesn’t need to be all the time, especially if you’re with others but for the majority of the time, yes please) you can easily see obstacles that could potentially be in your way – man on his blackberry, woman playing with her iPod…

Walk Right: Stay to the right of the sidewalk when walking. Think of it like you’re in a car, slow-pokes stay to the far right so the fast walkers can over take you. Please don’t swerve back and forth oblivious to the poor chap behind you trying to get by, it’s very annoying!

Stopping: Please for the love of god don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk! People are trying to get places, if you must stop just pull over (either side will do). This leads me to my next point….

Entering/Exiting a Shop: Why do people choose the doorway to stop and wait in? Do you want to get run over? No, I didn’t think so why stand there. The thing to is, go outside and wait for your significant other, bff, or whoever, on either side of the entrance, not in it.

A couple days ago a co-worker read an article aloud that went a little something like this: the average person spends 4 years walking behind slow people. 4 years? Man that’s a huge chunk of my life. Just think about what you’ve accomplished in the last 4 years…..Now, I don’t know the particular source and boy do I wish I had the actual article because that is living proof that we all need to step it up a notch and pay attention when we walk.

What are your pet peeves of sidewalk crowders?