Saturday, 15 August 2009

On My Mind: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I’d like to share with you a few things that I’ve come across lately that have either caused some sort of reaction (albeit good, bad or ugly) that don’t necessarily warrant their own post but accumulated together well, I dare say may provide one great post and minutes of enjoyment.

To start off with the Ugly (best to end on a good note):

Dumb-bell Cutlery: oh you read correctly! I read about this first, in this week’s Grazia and then again (yup twice in 1 week!) through the Daily Mail. Would anyone honestly buy these? Can we not find the time anymore to exercise? You know play outside or join a club/gym that we need to burn calories while inhaling them?

Orange Cauliflower: Okay so this has been around for a while but I’ve never actually SEEN one until recently. And they are ugly and unnatural. Why must we genetically modify nature to benefit our own needs? Oh right we’re lazy (see point #1). Ha!

The Bad:

Warm Cotton By Clean: a Perfume that ‘captures the feeling of a fluffy, warm towel just pulled from the dryer’ not quite what I was after in fragrance, but um, thanks anyway.

Okay, so that’s all the bad (not a very extensive list, I know) but now onto the good:

Jimmy Choo – H&M Collection: Jimmy Choo will be designing not only handbags and shoes for H&M but women’s clothing too. The range will hit stores November 14. Get your elbows out girls!

The Pill – coauthored by Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope, this book describe the truths behind the pill and it’s side effects. I think it’s good because it brings awareness and guidance for anyone using or thinking of using the pill.

The Selby – a great website by artist Todd Selby showcasing ‘photographs, paintings and videos of interesting people and their creative space’ which I think is ubber cool!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Yummy Fluffy Pancakes


A couple weeks ago I was craving pancakes. Badly. I wanted them smothered with butter and layered w/ fresh fruit (definitely strawberries, bananas and luckily blueberries too) and maple syrup. Oh dear, even just writing this I’m overcome with an urge of wanting a fresh batch…need to compose myself. I’ve tried many recipes in the past but this one (taken from Allrecipes.com) is one of the best. That being said I thought I’d share my good find with all you lucky readers. Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions:
  1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pour in the milk, egg and melted butter and mix until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Serves 8 (or 3 really hungry ppl as the case was for me!) N.B. I use butter to fry the pancakes and ladle to pour/scoop the batter.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Angry Annie: Customer Service Conversation Obligated?

It might just be because I’m not feeling my best but why are we made to feel like we need to be social during a customer service transaction such as a haircut or beauty treatment (bikini waxing – awkward!)? It’s one thing if you’ve built up a personal relationship w/ a particular individual who you see regularly (ie. personal trainer) but it’s quite different if you’re not bothered who performs the service. Last night I chopped off (some of) my lovely locks and couldn’t find it in me to make small talk. I usually do, don’t get me wrong but last night I just didn’t have the strength to do so….and for good reason, my throat is killing me. But why is it that I felt guilt for not WANTING to talk. Even though I was paying for a service, I felt like I should try to strike up a conversation. The longer I didn’t talk the more awkward I felt. My neighbor (50+ woman) didn’t find it difficult chatting to her (gay) stylist when, let’s be honest here, would they be chatting to one another under different circumstances? It was like watching long lost best mates being reunited. I could only assume my stylist would have likely swapped clients if given the chance. Am I wrong in feeling this way? I feel like I’ve missed the memo that says we must talk to anyone performing a service. What do you think? Am I just being an angry Annie or what?

Friday, 24 July 2009

Lille, France


North of Paris to a city called Lille is where I ventured to last month. As I sat on the Eurostar on the Friday night thoughts of red wine, baguettes and cheese filled my head. I hadn’t been to France in over a year and never as north as Lille… I was excited. Excited for the adventure and a chance to practice my (poor) French.

Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium. This close proximity plays an intricate part of the culture and spoken dialect in Lille, finding more similarities with its neighbours than the south of France which made for an interesting experience. For starters my French skills (if you can call them that) were completely useless. I spoke English instead which made everyone’s life easier. Secondly not only is the wine really nice but the beer is fantastic, try the local selections of Ch’ti. And thirdly the mussels were delicious (so I’ve heard, I don’t like them myself!). Okay so there are only a few things…

One attraction that should not be missed and was one of my personal favorites is…Known to the locals as ‘La Piscine’ this museum of art and industry is housed in a former municipal swimming pool designed by Lille architect Albert Baert. It’s only a short metro ride away to neighbouring city Roubaix. Don’t let the exterior put you off, as inside is an exquisite example of art deco showcasing the permanent collections in the old cloakrooms, shower cabinets and pool itself.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bikram Yoga

I’ve always wanted to try Bikram Yoga (aka Hot or Fire Yoga) but the tipping point was the introductory offer my local studio provided. Now that the price was right and my coworkers had been and loved it, I had no more excuses. I drank gallons of water in preparation (and several trips of to the loo) for my first class on Wednesday night, gathered my workout stuff and towels and headed into the 45 degree (Celsius) studio.

Classes are guided by specific dialogue, as a beginner you’re advised to stay at the back of the room so you can follow the more experienced students, as the teacher doesn’t demonstrate the poses. It includes 26 postures and two breathing exercises lasting roughly 90 minutes.

First impressions – it’s freakin’ hot!! My breathing became difficult and you’re advised to not drink water for the first 20 minutes to help your body acclimatize to the weather, I found it quite difficult! Request of ‘ignore the sweat’ came across the microphone w/ me murmuring: ‘it’s stinging my eyeballs pls lord let me use the towel’; especially when doing the Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana pose (thanks Wikipedia for your help on that one!). Brikram Yoga is definitely a challenge yet the poses aren’t difficult, the difficulty lies in maneuvering them in the heat. Every session is a different experience as your body is different every time. As much I loved complaining about the heat and the sweat one thing was for certain: I felt good. Really good. My posture was improving and muscles I didn’t even I know had were hurting – in a good way! I’d highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already.

We're Back!

Hi all, we’re back!! Sorry for the short hiccup….what can we say? It’s SUMMER TIME and we’ve been enjoying ourselves. Plus aren’t we all just a little bit busier in the warmer months – what with all the cottage and city breaks, holidays and weddings planned. Hopefully you haven’t missed us too much.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Sexual Paradox?



I haven't even finished this book yet BUT I am STILL recommending it. Weird eh? Well maybe I am just uber interested in this subject, and perhaps you will be too. Women are smarter than men? Not true, but we are less extreme in our IQ ranges and abilities. The majority of women stay within a range of intelligence, while men are at extremes: genius or idiot. So what? Right? Well, this book goes onto explain how women, who are more prevalent at university and excel more at school than men, don't necessarily get the best jobs or certainly don't get paid as well as our male counterparts. Men are much more likely to have dyslexia, ADD and other learning disabilities, but in the end, they seem to overcome their shortfalls and find successful careers. Why? If women have such a head start/advantage, why do we manage to fall behind or to not become as successful or wealthy? Technically there are more female graduates of medical school and law school nowadays. Women are also more advanced in the languages, with superior writing and reading skills vs men throughout life. Do we not have what it takes to get to the finish line? Do we choose careers that aren't as money centric or as challenging?




Your guess is as good as mine..I am not done the book yet. Regardless of the answer, this book is well worth the read to find out more about yourself and the possible gender gap.

Put me in Your Suitcase...Munchen


Germany is a country known for its beer, sausages and pretzels. What better place to experience all three than in Munich. I was pleasantly surprised at how laidback a city Munich is. Though there may not be as many breathtaking sights at Vienna, or as much innovation as Berlin, Munich takes pride in being..well..itself. Whether you are having a beer with randoms in the famous crowded Hofbrauhaus, or watching young boys surf the small waves in Englischer Garten, one can't help but be roped into the Bavarian lifestyle. Two days is all you need to experience all this city has to offer...here are some highlights:


1. Englischer Garten - Bigger than Central Park and definitely more entertaining, Germans enjoy relaxing in this massive green space just north of the main tourist area. It is not unusual to see people kayaking, rafting or surfing the small waterways that cross this park. Also not out of place: nudity, in certain sextions..I mean..sections.


2. Hofbrauhaus - or really any brew house. Live it and Love it. Pretzels, Schnitzel and plenty of good beer. After one or two, the massive stein is almost unliftable :)


3. BMW Museum and Olympic Tower - located across the street from eachother, these two sights are not to be missed. Germans are known for beer and cars. The BMW Museum and BMW World do not disappoint. Neither do the views from Olympic tower. Spend a morning at both of these sights to get the real feel of German innovation.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Angry Annie...the workberry



Blackberrys, Crackberrys, heck, even IPhones are a bit much these days. They can be a lot of fun..with email, applications, ringtones. Nothing like a good old game of brick breaker when you are waiting around for a client or a phone call. The novelty wears off though when the Workberry comes to town.


I mean, do you really want to know what your colleagues are having for dinner? After a zillion BBMs from you...our work relationship has been exhausted beyond a casual friendship. I rather not know, what I already know. You answered my last BBM while on the toilet. I saw you go down the hall to the bathroom...well you get my drift.


Now that we are all hooked in..(you know..because you have to take the workberry with the fun of a typical blackberry)...how can we say no? When can we turn you off? If I stop answering my boss' messages after hours, I don't look as eager or dedicated as the colleague that did answer that 10pm email. When does it stop? I might as well be chained to my desk (aka my car, as a sales rep), these days with this workberry. Those two words shouldn't even be in the same sentence. Work=not fun, berry = yummy or good. Ok, clearly this anger is getting to me.


Obama has a blackberry...does he get to turn his off?


For all the time I spend on my workberry these days, I don't think I am getting anymore smart, productive or efficient. I could have spent the last week writing an etiquette book explaining rules on the workberry and when it is truly ok to POWER OFF.
picture courtesy of www.the20life.com

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Bare who?


I am not one for product promotion or marketing. That is more Jessica's speed. However, I cannot say enough about Bare Minerals makeup. I was bragging to Jessica about this line of products a couple weeks ago in Vienna. I thought I would take the time to give this makeup line a little bit of free marketing.


Who hates liquid foundation? clogged pores? uneven skin tone? The thought that some of your powder or foundation might rub off on your white blouse, or your boyfriend's shirt? Us ladies are always looking for a better way to cover our blemishes, dark circles or hangovers, without looking like we spent all morning doing it.


I heard about Bare Minerals makeup last winter when I was in Arizona. It was all over the TV and in Sephora, but I thought it was too good to be true. How can some mineralized powder stay on all day, make my face look flawless and still be good for my skin? Well surprisingly, it can. Now available at Shopper's Drug Mart (though, they can't keep it on the shelves), are starter kits that match your skin tone. I grabbed the Medium toned kit for $75, and I was not disappointed. Some foundation powders, brushes, and a how to dvd and book is all you need to get started. Once you read the instructions (DVD is only for those hardcore ppl), you will be ready to go and I promise you will NEVER look back.


I purchased the starter kit and it is all I have used for the past few months. I thought the $75 price tag was a bit high, but now, it is all I use (in replace of many different powders, foundations etc), I think its a pretty good deal. I also bought the amazing primer they have ($26). Once my starter kit runs low, I will probably just replenish my fav foundation powder.


Ok enough propaganda..check it out...hopefully you will love the products as much as I do..or at least you will love all the compliments on how great you look ..True story!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Put Me in Your Suitcase....Salzburg


Salzburg is as small as it is beautiful. If you venture to mid western Europe, it is not to be missed. With the backdrop of the Alps and many beautifully designed buildings, one cannot help but fall in love with this quietly quaint city. I spent a night in Salzburg in transit from Vienna to Munich in May. Basically the city can be turned upside down in a day. Navigating Salzburg's winding streets and many historical sights took my boyfriend and I only about 4-5 hours. It was intense, but we were on a tight schedule. Anymore than a day here and you best have a Sound of Music tour or Salt Mine tour (supposed to be amazing) planned. Here is what not to miss:


1. St Peter's Bakery - one of the oldest bakeries in Europe. Pay 2 euros for hot baked bread that is to die for.


2. Catacombs - on the side of the main mountain/hill there are catacombs that are hundreds of years old. Pay the 3 Euros to navigate the narrow steps for a unique perspective of Salzburg.


3. Salzach Bar - Enjoy a coffee or mixed drink on this floating boat bar on the Danube. If the weather is nice, sit outside at night and enjoy the sun setting over the Festung Hohensalzburg (Mountain).


4. Hohensalzburg Fortress - The oldest preserved castle in Europe sits atop of the mountain and overlooks the city. The castle tour is mediocre, but the furnicular ride up is worth the hundreds of photos you will take.
Let me know if you want more information or visit Wikipedia (the owners of the above picture and other valuables)


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Greek Salad


As the temperature rises my appetite decreases and I crave healthy, fresh foods/meals. Greek Salad is one of my favourite summer indulgences – it’s all of the above plus I love ALL the ingredients. I won’t keep you any longer….

Ingredients:
  • Handful of black Kalamata olives
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 cucumber peeled, diced into cubes
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded, diced
  • ½ red onion, sliced finely
  • 100ml/3fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g/5oz feta cheese, diced
  • 2 pieces of pitta bread, toasted and diced into cubes
  • 1 generous sprig of oregano (or 2 tbsp dried oregano)
  • pinch of salt & pepper
Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and toss.


Enjoy outside in sunshine!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Twitter…I LOVE her (?)!



So after reading my BFF’s post about Twitter being pointless (*gasp*) I decided to counterpost (rather than leave a comment) as I strongly believe in its benefits – both personally and professionally.

Where do I even begin? Let me give you an example of what I do in the mornings: press the snooze button (once or twice) before getting up, brush my teeth and take a shower. In between cleaning my ears, moisturizing, getting dressed, blow-drying my hair and applying make-up I check Twitter. It’s become part of my ‘routine’ if you will. Yes, I partially check it to see what my friends have been up to but I mostly check it for news and events happening that day. You see I don’t just follow friends or celebrities (for my gossip fix!), I follow News casts (@CNN, @CBCNews, @BBC, @NPR…and more are all present), industry based companies (I work in the movie industry so I follow industry giants - @Universal, @Paramount etc; entertainment news site – @aintitcool; platforms – @itunestrailers etc and different cinemas) and either projects or things I’m interested in (for example I enjoy cooking & food - @OliveMag, @innocentdrinks, @toptable). Twitter allows me to check in on all of the above (and more) in one quick and convenient location – all I need to do is log in.

Twitter, unlike Google works in ‘real time’ – for example, a few months ago I had a beauty appointment; while arriving to the salon there had been an accident and the road had been cornered off and I had to take a different route. In today’s day and age we want to know what happened and we want the info pronto. After my appointment I checked TwitterSearch to see if anyone posted about the incident and guess what? People had. I knew exactly what had happened in seconds and Twitter made it possible. Google wasn’t able to tell me b/c there wasn’t an archived story or article about it as it had just occurred.

Twitter in the purest form is meant to be used to update your followers on what you’re doing but it’s evolved into a sharing tool with people posting things they’re interested in (albeit books, movies, exhibits, clips, restaurants, quotes etc), recommendations and asking for advice – not sure what anti-aging cream you should you use? Just ask your followers. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll get a response.

It’s only as good as you make it. Follow people/companies you’re interested in and you’ll reap the benefits.

Kennedy – I took forward to debating this topic (and many others) in Vienna this weekend ;)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Twitter...I barely knew her

What's the deal with Twitter anyway? I mean..where does it fit in? What is its real purpose? I joined Twitter about a month ago, like many people out there. I watched patiently as Ashton Kutcher battled Larry King for the most followers..and won (no surprise there). My question is..so what?

People drop off Twitter as fast as they join. I guess most people realize there isn't a huge point to it. Besides the fun of updating your friends about your life in 140 characters, what else is there to it? Its no wonder people drop out..I have gotten pretty bored myself updating my followers on what I am doing. Is anyone even caring? reading?

At least with Facebook, there is a point. Not only can you update people, you can add friends, create events, share photos and creep to see what your crush is up to this weekend. I have yet to see any real merit in Twitter...even the name is dumb.

What are you up to? Not Twittering...I welcome any reasons to continue

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

You Lost Him at Hello


Wow..what a great book. Do I normally say that? Well anyway, a friend lent me this book the other day and it hasn't disappointed. Its a bit of a quick and fun read..not too heavy on the brain power, but very enjoyable. I can't tell you how many times I have laughed out loud or nodded my head in agreement. As you can tell by the title, this book is all about mistakes women make when dating mean. It is not feminist, nor negative. It is uplifting and insightful. The author applies her sales techniques to everyday life and dating. Some of her advice is pretty basic and not that revolutionary. However, having a sales background myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous stories of how she and her friends have ruined their chances with love by making the same mistakes rookie sales reps make:

1. Don't use all your bullets at once/the beginning - Most successful sales people have product features/deals that close the deal..you don't want to give all your assets away at once..if you know what I mean.

2. Know and love your product - Men and customers alike can sense a lack of confidence or knowledge from a mile away...so make sure you know yourself and love yourself..otherwise how can he?

3. Your best five - Five what? Five OUTFITS! This tip is awesome...wear the same 5 killer outfits in rotation when you go out. That way you can save time, know that you look good and have the confidence and comfort to pull it all off. What are the chances anyone will notice you are repeating outfits? Ok..maybe your girlfriends...until they copy your genius idea.

Just a taste...pick up the book to find out more..its great for a plane ride..until you laugh out loud :)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Budapest on a Budget


I know it’s hard to think about going on holiday when all you hear about is the doom and gloom (and swine flu….) but rest assured this is one city break that is doable on any budget and I’m going to show you how…but first let’s get acquainted with our city of choice: Budapest, Hungary.

Hungry is part of the EU but does not have the Euro (€€) the currency is Forint (HUF) and it’s relatively low compared to the GBP or CND (bonus!). The city is mainly divided into 2 sections: Buda & Pest with the river Danube dividing them. The Buda side is the hilly west side whereas the Pest side is more flat and where most of the nightlife and restaurants are located. The city has roughly 118 natural or specially drilled hot springs beneath it and as a result there many baths and pools around the city. Have I caught your interest? That’s what I thought. So how does one travel here on the cheap? If you’re in Europe easyJet fly daily into Budapest from most major cities and our NA friends why not include a stopover here on the way to Austria or Germany – it’s a quick train ride away.


Things to do on the cheap:


Sleep:
We stayed at Suite Hostel and got the deluxe private room which ended up being a whole apartment to ourselves – it was perfect! Plus the hostel has entertainment in the evening (ie. BBQ on the Terrence, Boat cruise etc…) and b/c the employees are all travelers themselves they know what you’re looking for: free internet, breakfast & friendly service (to name a few).


Eat:
We bought our lunch at the Great Market Hall where it’s a great place to try the local cuisine. Another good place is the ‘For Sale Pub’ located across the street from the Great Market Hall & beside the Burger King (don’t ask, BK is everywhere in Budapest). Also, if it’s sunny Liszt Ferenc street is lined with restaurants and good way to top up your tan.


Getting Around:
Budapest can easily be explored on foot but if you must…the metro, bus and tram all use a similar ticket – unfortunately you need a new one for each time you switch and tickets are only valid for 30 minutes. It’s a little cheaper to buy a pack of 10 tickets and sell any unused ones back to your hostel/hotel. Metro Line 1 is the oldest underground line in mainland Europe and has been recognized by UNESCO.

See: I love walking tours, I’ve said this before on Provoke, but the main reason I do is b/c they give you a good grasp of the city – almost like the Coles Notes to a city. There’s a tip-based tour running at 10:30 & 2:00 starting from Vörösmarty Square in front of Garbeaud Café

Views: The best view of the city is from the Citadel, it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk up but the views are well worth it.

Baths: I know this what you’ve been waiting for – I saved the best for last (gotta keep our readers on their toes!). The two major baths are Gellert & Szechenyi Baths. At the latter if you leave within 2 hours of entering you get a small refund. I went to Szechenyi Baths and was spoiled for choice with over 20 pools ranging from 18-78 degrees you’re sure to find your perfect temperature. Or for those wanting to workout, there’s also an outdoor pool for lane swim.

Start planning your trip today. You won’t be disappointed – promise!

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Newest Trend?



Seriously? Really? Did I just see that?


Okay, maybe I am overreacting a little. But when did clipping your nails in public become kosher? First, it started in New York City. I saw about 5 people over the course of the weekend clipping their nails nonchalantly as they walked down the street, rode the subway or drove their car. I couldn't believe it. Then I thought, well maybe this is just something isolated to the Big Apple.


Unfortunately not. Random sightings of nail clippers (aka ppl who clip their nails in public) have been showing up in Montreal, Toronto, London, etc. Is this something that I have never noticed before? Or did I miss the memo that made this personal hygiene routine okay in public? Are we soo busy now that we multi-task walking with clipping our nails? I don't know about you, but thats where I draw the line. What's next? Really?

The Easy Silence

I consider myself to be a people magnet. Ok, maybe not in the charismatic, look I am so wonderful sense. More in the, I love to be around people sense. When I got a job in sales, I was very worried about spending all that time alone. Alone in the car all day, with just the radio to keep me sane. Two years into the job, I realize, it hasn't been that bad. Spending the past two years mostly with myself during the working day, has taught me a lot about..well..me.

Which begs the question? Can you spend too much time alone? There is nothing wrong with being comfortable with yourself and enjoying your own company. Experts say, you should live alone at least once before you get married or settle down. If you don't know yourself, then how can you get to know anyone else around you? Makes sense right. Well, see...I already knew myself and I will even go as far to say, loved myself. So...where does that leave me? Is it really that healthy to be alone. When all your hear all day are your own thoughts..and your own voice...is that really normal? Most of my colleagues have become quite analytical and almost bitter as they overthink everything all day long. I find the more time I spend with myself, the more appealing being a hermit can be. Doing what you want all day long with no one around, can be appealing in a way..dont you think?

Lately, I have been passing the time with podcasts and audiobooks, so at least I am not a victim of my own mind. The scariest thing is...the more time you spend alone..the harder it is to separate what you think and what may have actually occured.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Beer and Meat in Germany - Frankfurt



Most of the people I asked hadn’t been to Frankfurt; in fact no one I asked had been. It’s sadly overlooked when it comes to German cities, how can it compete with its main stars: Berlin & Munich? Surprisingly as I found out, it can!

Frankfurt’s skyline is impressive; it’s hard to hide its financial ties – it’s home to the European Central Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. As wikitravel put it ‘ [it’s] a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students, and granola drop-outs coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well maintained old buildings’. I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture, food, people and sights. Below are some things that shouldn’t be missed.

Food – if you know me you know how much I love food and German food doesn’t disappoint- Frankfurters, sourkaurt & bread is the traditional dish and one that shouldn’t be missed. I was craving these the second day (and then veggies when I got home! Man they do love their meat). The city is filled with restaurants but one street in particular ‘Fressgass’ is lined with amazing ones.

Drink – Applewine (or Apfelwein) is fantastic, similar to cider but better. Also, Weissbier (white beer) is delicious and my male companions (and myself) drank it like it was going out of style. The area of Sachsenhausen is a great place to drink in the evening as the streets are lined with bars…the party lasts until the wee hours of the morning.

Old Square – Römerberg as it’s called was sadly destroyed during WWII but has been rebuilt since and is a good example of the old architecture. It also houses the town hall (Romer).

Skyline – get a view of city from 200 meters above land from the Main Tower – it cost around €5 and may be over before you know it; but the views are well worth it. I can only imagine how cool it’ll look on a clear day (it rained the whole time and was a bit foggy when we went).

Shopping – Not that I advocate shopping on holiday but you have to check out ‘Zeilgalerie’ a cool futuristic mall, ‘Blade Runner’ style. It also has an observation deck that offers great views of the city (but not as great as the Main Tower).

Time to start planning your trip…

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Miracle Fruit


Has anyone heard of the lastest food fab that has NYC & Lodnon abuzz; Miracle Fruit or more correctly – Synsepalum Dulcificum? Say What? you ask. ‘Think Willy Wonka meets Mother Nature’ says Vogue Mag. The berry, the size of coffee beans, come from west Africa and sends tastebuds into a confusion. How so? Well, apparently if taken before sour foods (such as lemon or limes) it makes them taste sugary (continuing with our example here – into lemonade). For all the technical details of how it’s actually possible (but oh so boring to explain) read here.

Think of all the possibilities (both sliming & experimental) you could have with this – my mind is racing with excitement! And I’m assuming that since it’s a fruit they’ll count for 1 of your 5 a day (if you’ve eaten enough) – I don’t think you’ll be getting any better news on a Thursday morning. Do you?

Now time to go find some...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Recipes Jo Mama Never Told You About..


Ok so its not quite summer..but its never too early for Sangria..at least in my opinion. Especially if you have a bottle of wine laying around that you aren't sure what to do with. Ok..who am I kidding? No one has that problem..but maybe you are looking for something else to drink instead of just straight wine. Here is an awesome recipe from Wine About for a White Sangria using a bottle of white wine..you wont be disappointed. Just remember, even though it tastes different, the killer hangover is always the same.


WHAT TO USE:

1 Bottle of white wine (Riesling, Albarino, Chablis, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)
2/3 cup white sugar
3 oranges (sliced) or may substitute 1 cup of orange juice)
1 lemon (sliced)
1 lime (sliced)
1/2 liter of ginger ale or club soda (ginger ale for those with a sweeter tooth!)


WHAT TO DO:

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the orange,lemon and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving.
If you'd like to serve right away, use chilled white wine and serve over lots of ice.
Addition ideas: sliced strawberries, peaches, handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, a shot or two of gin, brandy or rum, a cup of citrus-flavored soda pop.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Complainer's Corner

First there was the letter I sent to Air Transat over a completely ruined vacation last December. Okay, maybe not completely ruined..but def not a 5 star. After writing customer service and then taking my valid complaints directly to the CEO, I received $200 in vouchers for my trouble. Thanks…but really…why am I going to fly/travel with you again after so many mistakes that you are only NOW admitting to? Moreover, I will have to spend at least $600 to spend the $200 in vouchers to go anywhere.

Lets see if Sunwing is any better than AirTransat. My boyfriend had a whole slew of issues with them on his last trip to Vegas. I know, I am at the slight risk of sounding very high maintenance. Anyway, what’s a good girlfriend to do? Well…I wrote his complaint letter (a great one…even better than the Air Transat letter). It was a good mixture of mean and funny…we will see what happens. Maybe we will get another $200 voucher from Sunwing…do you think we can sell them on Ebay…what makes companies think we would use a voucher and open ourselves up to yet another horrible experience? I know, I know..its a tax write off thing a ma bob..I will keep you posted

While on the subject…or rant. I must fit a little bit here regarding American Express. I have a platinum Aeroplan card with them. I have never defaulted on any credit card payments and have an amazing credit rating. I just paid off full balance less than two weeks ago. I had about $3500 on the card as of this morning. I have been racking up mad biz expenses and my company has been slow on the reimbursement side. Anyway, I got a call this morning to tell me I must pay off my $3500 balance today or my card will decline. Thanks…you know for telling me this before I am in the middle of Manhattan tomorrow with no form of payment. Apparently although there is no limit to this credit card (which I knew) and as long as you are making your monthly payments (which I was/am), there shouldn’t be a problem right? But there was and there is…its called AGEISM. What is a 26 year old doing with a $3500 balance every two weeks…she must not be able to pay that off right? We better call her before her spending gets out of hand…really? Really? Of course we wont assume that she has a job that requires her to charge a lot of travel expenses each week? After years of complete irresponsibility and greed…you are coming after me for $$? Ain’t that rich? (pot..hello…its kettle)

Monday, 13 April 2009

Put Me In Your Suitcase...NYC Baby!!



Remind me again why I have never been to the Big Apple? It’s only a quick one hour flight from Toronto and one could easily spend a week there and never be bored. I crammed a week’s worth of shopping, eating and sightseeing into 3 days this past weekend…wow!. They say you either love or hate NYC…I don’t know how anyone could hate a city busting with entertainment and sights. Sure there are a lot of people AND a lot of dirt everywhere..but where else can you buy a knock off designer purse, eat amazing street meat/foods and enjoy the peace and quiet of greenery in a city with millions of people. For all of New York’s problems and issues, one only needs to spend a day doing the few things listed below to get a bite of the apple.
1. Roosevelt Island City Tram – a four minute ($2) ride on a tram line from 59th street to Roosevelt Island via the Queensboro bridge tramway. Not for those scared of heights, this ride is well worth the time and money as it offers amazing panoramic views of Manhattan. Roosevelt Island also is great for a quiet stroll and view of the Manhattan skyline.
2. Top of the Rock – forget the Empire State Building. The Rockefeller building offers breathtaking views of the city as well as a picturesque glance of the Chrysler building and the Empire State building. For only $20, one can take a ride to the observation deck and experience the cold breeze as they overlook the city below…best $20 I have spent in a LONG TIME.
3. St Paul’s Chapel – NYC is full of beautiful churches – Trinity, St Patricks, etc. However, due to its proximity to the World Trade Center, St Paul’s Chapel has a unique history as being one of the places that held and treated victims of 9/11. One cannot walk around this church and look at the artifacts and tributes to the heroes and the fallen without feeling chills down their spine. This place captures the feeling of a day when so many strangers came together to lift the city back up onto its feet again.
4. Century 21, Loehmans etc – Manhattan is nothing without its vibrant shopping life. Personally, I refuse to fork over the $$ required to buy anything on Fifth Avenue. However, I do recommend visiting these two stores for similar duds at lower prices. Just be prepared for a lot of shoving and aggressiveness as many women cannot contain themselves at the thought of a building with 4 floors of deals…watch out!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Chocolate & Easter


Easter break is upon us and there are a few things I’m looking forward to. For starters it’s a long weekend; 2 days off mean 2 x 4-day work weeks (hurray!) and hopefully I can recharge my batteries. Not to mention the extra time to hang out with family & friends (albeit through Skype for some of us. Me!) and CHOCOLATE!!! I’ve already got my eye on few eggs at the grocery store. And isn’t that the problem, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to chocolate PLUS they all go on sale Monday…what's a girl to do?

If you’re like me and you usually have WAY too much leftover chocolate after Easter why not make a fondue out of it. Freeze the ones you’re not using and melt the rest!

Ingredients
  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 300ml carton double cream
  • Chopped fruit (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, orange, grapes) & marshmallows to dunk

Directions:
Put the chocolate & cream into a saucepan, then heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth

Don’t even think about the calories….you’re on holiday!

Happy Easter everyone xo

A Night with the Bears


If you don’t know much about Sprott Asset Management or Eric Sprott, you may have been living under a rock for the past 5-10 years. Then again, maybe living under a rock has kept you out of the declining stock market…hmmmm

Eric Sprott, Canada’s newest billionaire, is the CEO of SAM and a damn good financial adviser/investor if you ask me. Being a client of his company, I was invited to an event at the Elgin Theatre Tuesday night. The open bar and yummy hors d’oeuvres reeled the guests in. The entertaining and informative speakers are what kept a crowd of 1500 around for the question period.

The market is in chaos. People are looking for answers and to be honest, no one knows what the future holds. It was clear on Tuesday night that the economy is in a long cold winter that will probably last until 2020. Wow? And the experts say Canada hasn’t even begun to feel the squeeze.

The take home message was from Sprott himself “One day we will woe the day we decided to make paper things (i.e. money) instead of tangible goods” Just ask China.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Put Me In Your Closet - Joe Who?


If you don’t know what JOE I am referring to...then you may have been under a rock for the past few years. Loblaws is no longer home to just lettuce. Women can now find fashion a couple feet away from their groceries with the JOE FRESH clothing label at participating Loblaws Superstores. Joe Mimran used to be one of the chief people at Club Monaco. Since he has moved on from CM, he created a budget clothing line for women, men and children. The designs are colourful, fashionable and cost effective. OK, enough about the clothing. The real reason I bring this subject up is to let you know that JOE now has a makeup line. Everything from eyeliner to blush to nail clippers will be part of the new spring collection. I recently browsed on their website www.joe.ca to find out more. Prices range from $4 to $14 dollars …sounds good to me :)

Unfortunately, the makeup isn’t being sold at every JOE clothing retailer yet. HO Hum…what about online shopping JOE? Ever heard of it?

Put Me In Your.....Washroom

I’ll admit it. I’m a product whore. It’s true! I always get suckered into a good marketing campaign (you’d think I wouldn’t as my expertise is in Marketing but meh what can you do?). Reduces the signs of wrinkles in an hour…sure I’ll take 2 please. Promises to make your pout look more kiss-alicious, bring it on! I know, it’s horrible but I can’t help myself. Last weekend whilst visiting a friend in York we ended up in Boots (similar to Shoppers Drug Mart for all our Canadian readers) and an hour later we left with nearly half the store and lighter wallets! So how do you know what to believe and what to stay away from? Testimonials are always useful (especially from friends)….allow me to introduce some products that every girl should have in their washroom (if not their handbag!). Tried, test and true to their words, these products don’t have any gimmicks or tricks they perform as expected every time. Without further ado, here are some of my favourites and things I can’t live without (well I could but I really wouldn’t want to….unless I was backpacking or the like):

Bio-Oil – I’ve only just discovered this, but it hasn’t left my washroom since. It’s reduces the appearance of scares & uneven skin tones, prevents stretch marks (ie. during pregnancy, adolescence & weight loss) & aids with dehydrated, wrinkled or aged skin..in one word it’s: AMAZING! How can one product do all this you ask? Easy check out the ingredients they’re all natural and contains no water plus it contains PurCellin Oil which allows Bio-Oil to be non-greasy and absorb quickly.

EA’s 8 Hour Cream – This multi-tasking beauty balm protects & embellishes your skin. It was created in 1930 by Miss Arden herself so to say it’s tried the test of time is an understatement…it’s a legend! It’s great for flying and helps nourish your skin and protect it from dehydration it can also be used to highlight facial areas – great for eyes, cheeks and lips for that all natural look/glow

Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes – This amazing lip gloss comes in loads of subtle colours that give your lips that extra punch while nourishing and actually lasting. It’s great for both day & night looks.

BS Body Butter
– This rich, thick lovely smelling cream really works. Perfect for maintaining your suntan or for the winter months. I love the coconut flavour - is this the right word? Maybe scent would be better…either way I love this stuff.

What beauty product could you not live without?

Monday, 30 March 2009

Suzie Q,…Suzie who are you?

Who is Suzie? Suzie Orman that is. Or is it Susie? Who knows? Maybe Suze? I can’t keep track. All I know is, I would rather be locked in a cell with Oprah and her partner Gail, then listen to your financial advice. As some of you may know, Suze Orman is a regular guest on Oprah, CNN, etc who preaches to people about finances in these difficult times. I am pretty sure it was Suze who got most of these people into a sinkhole in the first place. Ms. Orman doesn’t really invest in the stock market, and has millions of dollars in book revenues in the bank. So who is she to tell me where to put my money? She is about as reliable as my 4 year old cousin and his game of ene mini miny mo.

I realize America and many other nations are in dire straits. We are begging for advice and for a way out of this mess. Where were all these financial advisers when things were good? Very few of these so called experts predicted the downturn. And now they want us to listen to them? They are profiting from this downturn just like Halliburton did from 9/11 and the Iraq war. If you really want to think about it..its appalling that authors and other experts are profiting from the average citizen who is just trying to find hope in a dismal situation.

My advice..trust yourself. In this world, you are alone. Use your common sense. If you have debt, pay it off. Take advantage of every opportunity to save. If you can risk a little, play the market. Your own research and numbers don’t lie. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Some of the greatest millionaires and billionaires were made out of the last depression. I don’t think any of them were listening to the likes of Suze Orman. They started small and green, just like us…

Friday, 27 March 2009

Angry Annie & The Rain


I’ve been living in the UK for over 2 years now (actually come to think of it, it’s almost 3 now! Wow time flies). London has a (bad) reputation for being one of the rainiest cities in the world – it sure feels like it most days! But a quick search on BBC weather would prove this theory to be incorrect. Don’t believe me? Let’s compare London vs Toronto. See I told you so. I couldn’t believe it either. As the UK is such a small island (in the Atlantic) the air is naturally more moist than larger country and cities found inland (ie. Toronto) My hair was really affected (and still is I guess) when I first moved here – it couldn’t be tamed, no straightener, comb/brush or hair product would relieve it of it’s frizz! Horrible, I didn’t even know you could have that many bad hair days in a year. I even had a friend come to visit who gave up after a few days – it’s that bad for people who have naturally wavy hair.

I’ve become a little wiser in my veteran years of living here and have come to terms with the different (b/c there are many) levels of rainfalls experienced by Britons all the time and how to deal with it. Let me explain:

Spitting
–consists of fast little drops that are very deceiving – it’s doesn’t warrant an umbrella (you just end up looking silly, but oh how you want to use it!) but if you’re not covered you’ll get wet. Quickly. It occurs mostly during fall and spring. Solution: Instead of an umbrella I wear a hat so my hair maintains it’s style and remains dry.

Normal
– consists of large drops falling at a normal pace. This is your typical (not very exciting) rainfall. Solution: Use your umbrella close to your head – it really sucks sharing an umbrella with someone. Am I the only one who thinks this? Even though I complain every time I share one with my bf we still continue to do so….

Heavy – consists of large drops falling fast. I try to avoid this as best I can as it’s usually windy here as well ; which results in the awkward inside out umbrella and me getting wet. Solution: hat & umbrella (and a lot of hairspray!). Trust me you’ll need both

Downpour
– Abundant drops, falling hard and fast. Oh this is my favourite (not!) you literally need to say inside until it clears…that is of course unless you prefer getting wet, then by all means. I’ve spend a many lunches waiting for the rain to stop so I could grab my lunch.

The worst part about the rain here is that it seems to rain most days right around lunchtime like clockworks. It’s mad!


What are you solutions for fighting the rain?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Recipes Yo Mamma Never Told You About: Breakfast Smoothie


As the weather warms up, thoughts of ice-cream and other cool treats begin to enter my mind. Here is something to make on a Sunday morning (especially if you are extra tired/hungover). Guaranteed to not disappoint:

INGREDIENTS:
Yogurt Smoothie
  • 1 mango, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup plain Balkan yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey

Non-Dairy Smoothie
  • 3 whole banana
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 whole strawberries
  • 1 cup cranberry, juice
  • 1/2 cup orange, juice

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Fading Friendships

I am 26. I have about 12 close friends that I know very well and would do anything for. That doesn’t sound that bad..does it? Well it feels bad. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I can’t remember the last time I called any of them up randomly for no reason. I see them as much as time permits. I feel like they are involved in my life. Yet, I don’t really call them up out of nowhere on the phone. When I was younger, I had tons of friends that I would call/see on a regular basis. Am I just too busy? Or has technology replaced everyday friendship? Instead of calling/visiting most people, I facebook or text them until we have time to meet. It’s more convenient that way for sure. But is it healthy? No matter how much I message people, it still doesn’t replace the connection of a phone call or a visit. Weeks can go buy when I realize I haven’t really talked to any of my friends. Everyday living and work just takes up most of my time. It takes a real effort to call a friend or to drop by sometime. When is the last time you have done it? I am guilty…but not for long. After all, most times all I need is a really good friend.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Wee Fitter? Update

Just a quick update ladies: I first tried my Wii Fit on Dec 29, 2008. As of March 14, 2008, I have had Wii Fit for 75 days and have logged 48 hours of fitness. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use the game when I was away for business meetings, so I am a tad behind. I have lost 10 pounds since Dec 29/08. I have hit a bit of a standstill though. I haven’t lost a pound since mid February..but here’s hoping. Anything is better than sitting on the couch wishing I hadn’t skipped the gym this morning.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Taking Back Your Lunch Break


I don’t know about you but I spend a lot of time at my desk (especially when it’s cold out). You see our office doesn’t have a proper kitchen, it’s about the size of a closet, and doesn’t have seating (oh how I miss my old office with the nice big kitchen and company gatherings to gossip during lunch…..oh boo! Don't fret, I’ll be okay. I think). As someone who brings in her lunch to work there’s no escape for me. Going out for no reason can be dangerous - Regent Street with lots of lovely shops is just outside (right there!) and my wallet is bound to suffer. I’ve decided it’s time to claim back my lunch hour and do something productive – not for the company but for myself.

On nice days:
  • Nothing beats reading a novel/magazine in a nearby Park.
  • Explore your working area – find a route online or create your own at www.walkjogrun.com
  • Go for a run/rollerblade – I guess this only works if you have a shower at your office
On not so nice days (ie. the dreaded winter months)
  • Listen to university lectures – you can download loads of Podcasts from reputable universities across the world.
  • Plan a trip somewhere warmer
  • Join a gym – the options are endless. Loads of classes are usually scheduled during the lunch hour or take a friend and play squash/tennis.
  • Learn a new language – Rosetta Stone is a great tool to learn a new language as it combines written material with audio.
  • Write a blog!
What do you do during your lunch hour?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Building On Your Strengths


If you have had an annual review before, or work in a corporation, then you probably have been asked before about your strengths. What are you good at? Where are you going? What have you accomplished? How can you contribute to the organization?

Blah blah blah …right? Yes. Until now. Admit it; at least one part of you yearns to know what your assets are and what job is right for you. Enter Strengths Finder 2.0.
This website/book can help you identify your top 5 strengths and teach you to build on them. Clifton strategies (the book creator) don’t see the point in you developing your weaknesses. Why not pinpoint your strengths and develop them…that’s what you were put on this earth to do after all.

Go to amazon.ca and order the book: Strengths Finder 2.0 and use the one time access code in the back to do the 30 minute online test at www.strengthsfinder.com. You will learn about your strengths and be able to brag to your boss about your future in your company.

My top 5 were: Individualization, Futuristic, Input, Learner and Activator. What were yours?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Fragrance Consultation: Review


A few weeks ago I had a fragrance consultation at Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie in Harrods. I’m not the overindulging type but this, this was money well spent (not mine exactly. The consultation was given to me a xmas gift). After a little confusion as to where exactly it was on the 5th floor I found myself sitting at the most pleasant of tables in a quiet room, surrounded by pillows and fragrance bottles. Let the journey begin; I was keen to find my ‘signature’ scent. The consultation evaluates your perceptions and preferences based on a few specifically designed questions by Roja Dove himself. For those of you (like myself beforehand) who don’t know who Roja Dove is; he is ‘considered the world’s leading fragrance authority’ and is the sole ‘Professeur de parfums’; in short, I was in very good hands. After the quiz it was time to get cracking, clear your nose and get smelling. I was given fragrance samples (all branding/names were hidden from me so I couldn’t be bias) and had to eliminate them down to 2 – this was extremely hard! My expert was very quick to throw out the scents that didn’t make the cut but as he was controlling which ones I would get next I couldn’t risk the possibility of discarding a possible goodie. So I asked for a side panel for the ‘maybes’ this was embraced nicely and we were able to continue (phew!). When I finally narrowed it down to 2, it then took me a further 15 minutes to determine which one smelt better on me……

I found it and now I smell lovely! Not that I didn’t before mind you but this is something I never would have found on my own. The whole experience was very educational (as you learn about top notes and undertones), a bit glam and fun. I’d highly recommend going to a fragrance consultation if you’re bored with your current scent and you’re like me and get overwhelmed will all the possibilities or you’re looking for a change. For the amount of time and effort we spend on our wardrobe to reflect our personalities we should at least be wearing something that also compliments it through scent.


What? Did you expect me tell you what perfume I bought? Yah right, I’ll never tell – it’s mine! Ha ha.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Complainer's Corner

A friend of mine did her entire MBA project on Complaining. She had a point. After all, as I have said before, customer oriented companies are the way of the future. Our greedy ways have allowed us to demand multiple companies in single industries, thereby increasing competition. The economy is now in a downturn, and the companies that are hungry…hungry for customer satisfaction, will stay alive.

Transat Distribution, owner of Nolitours, Transat Holidays and Air Transat, is still learning this valuable lesson. I took my complaint (over a holiday in Mexico with half of the amenities promised, and power/water outages etc) to their customer service department. Like most companies that you complain to, I received a very simple standardized letter APOLOGIZING for my troubles. Sparing you all the details, I assure you, my experience in Mexico, was a bit more troubling and should receive more than a standard response. I asked to speak to their superior/manager and was never contacted again.

Most people don’t have the time to complain to a company about their dissatisfaction. Luckily, I do. I also had the time to Expresspost a nice letter to Transat’s CEO. I wasn’t hoping for much, just wanted to gauge Transat’s commitment to their customer base. I received a $200 voucher in the mail last week along with another apology letter. This was a nice attempt; however, I made it clear I wasn’t ever going to travel with them again. So why did they stick me with a $200 voucher…grrr. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I guess? Right?

My sense of entitlement tells me that THEY should be doing a lot more. Maybe I am just being greedy. Or maybe Transat hasn’t felt the economic crunch. Their final quarter of 2008 was a very profitable one. They might not be so lucky in 2009. A company that knows how important each and every client is: Sunwing. I should know, I am their newest customer.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Chocolate Challenge


Everyone loves a good challenge. I’m currently ‘trying’ to train for a half-marathon. Um no, no I haven’t signed up for it yet. But I will. I really want to. It’s just signing up is so. So final. And well….I’m a little scared. What if I can’t ACTUALLY run it? I get tired just running 3km on the treadmill. Maybe I should first do a 10km run. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll aim for something that’s achievable.

If you’re looking for someone who’s actually set herself a challenge – in the same vain as Morgan Spurlock in ‘Super Size Me’ or the Subway Diet – look no further than All That’s Pretty…. A good friend of mine has started the ‘Chocolate Challenge’. The task is simple: eat a different chocolate bar daily for a month and write about it. Among the bites she writes about the packaging, first impressions, smile factor and shares great fun facts. Now’s your chance to get her to try any chocolate bar you’ve been dying to try but just never got around to (is that even possible?) – hurry because she’s only doing it for a month.

In honour of this challenge I am now going to enjoy a Daim (similar to Score in Canada) ‘a crunchy butter almond bar covered in milk chocolate that originated in Sweden in 1953, produced by the Swedish company Marabou.’

What’s your favourite chocolate bar? Mine’s Oh Henry without a doubt – it’s the perfect mixture peanuts, chocolate and chewy caramel …. Oh I need to make a trip to the Canadian shop on my way home.

Have a great weekend folks

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

DIY Projects


This past weekend I worked on something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Do you ever get the urge to start projects (or as I like to call them ‘school’ projects, they remind of elementary school. In a good way!) but never get around to actually starting them? Well I did mine and couldn’t be more happy. You see I really enjoy cooking, nothing too complicated or hard (hence our recipe segment featuring easy BUT delicious ones) that my boyfriend ended up getting me a subscription to Olive Magazine…last year! The magazine itself is amazing, filled with loads of meal ideas, recipes and tips. But after nearly a year and half (and counting) I have a pile of magazines that I never touch. I needed to act. Fast. My good friend got me started (thanks for the bday gift Anne) and gave me a stationary recipe book. And I finally got to do it, I needed a relaxing day anyway as I’ve been go, go, go for nearly 3 weeks straight, that on Saturday I sat in front of the TV (in bed, at the kitchen counter…) and went through nearly half of them cutting out recipes that I’d actually use (this is the key, you want something in the end that’s actually useful). It’s by no means done but now I can easily maintain it. It felt great after and I used it right away…nothing beats the sense of accomplishment. If you’re like me and have recipes all over the place here are some tips:
  1. Buy either a binder, dividers and paper or a stationary recipe book
  2. Compile your favourite recipes and/or ones you’re definitely going to use
  3. Create segments – mine came with premade dividers (which was fine by me as they were perfect): Starters, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Baking, Desserts. I’d recommend a Drinks sections as well or dividing them up by main product.
  4. Try to fit as many as you can on one page without over lapping/crowding (to save space…)
  5. If you’re messy or want to preserve your ‘sheet’ of recipes it might be a good idea to place then in a plastic sheet.
  6. Use it once a week
Have you done a DIY project recently? Let us know about it.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Email = Coke addiction

How many times do you check your email daily? Some experts say we should check our email twice a day, once at 12 and once at 4. Are you kidding me? Clearly this “expert” never owned a Blackberry OR they didn’t slave away in front of a computer all day desperate for something new.

Seriously though? How many times? Too scared to admit it? Ok..I say I am at about 5 and worst of all I don’t even work NEAR a computer…isn’t that disgusting?

Is this any worse than a coke addiction or a porn fetish? Maybe not but it is definitely an addiction, so stop it. NOW!

Sorry but you aren’t THAT important and neither is the person who sent you that email...unless its Obama, don’t keep your president waiting.

Friday, 27 February 2009

£1 Charge for the Loo Pls


Did anyone read the Metro/news today? If you did, I’m sure you came across a disgusting article about Ryanair wanting to charge it’s passengers £1 to use the toilet. The airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary has been quoted saying that they’re trying to find ways to keep costs down so £1 will actually save you pennies in the long run. And that if the train stations can do it why couldn’t they?. I’m sorry but if I’m paying for a service –especially when I have no other option BUT to use their toilet- I don’t want to be worried about having a £1 coin. Flying in itself can be very uncomfortable for some and the added pressure and costs of this suggestion is utterly ridiculous! They already charge you for checking in luggage..which if you’re going for more than 5 days somewhere you ‘re likely to incur heavy penalty fees for this service.

‘According to the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates the aviation industry in the UK, Ryanair would not be breaking the law by introducing the charge.’ How is this possible? Restaurants are required to provide a toilet to their patrons and you’re not even ‘trapped’ there! But in an air tight, nowhere else to go aircraft you’re going to be required to pay to use the loo. It’s mind boggling. Really.

I know what I’m doing - I am boycotting Ryanair. There service is crap anyway, they’re always late (based on my personal experience), the seats are uncomfortable and one would think that during the current economic climate the focus would be on ‘service’ and improving the experience, not hindering it. Let’s not take this lying down. Who’s with me?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Viva Las Vegas


Having never been to Vegas, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I came well versed, having watched Ocean’s Eleven and Thirteen, as well as haven listened to Elvis’ song about the town. I think I was fully prepared??. I was there for a work meeting, so I can’t say my experience was quite as wild as it could have been. However, a couple days in Sin City, and I was ready to leave.

Some things you should know:

  • Flyers for hookers will be handed to you as you walk the Strip, pretend that you are totally offended and that the man next to you/with you is your significant other. It’s quite funny how apologetic the street vendors will be.
  • Try a $1 Margarita at Bill’s Saloon once. AND ONLY ONCE.
  • If you are into Cirque, the O show at the Bellagio is the best..every other show is just creepy…seriously.
  • PURE is the best nightclub; Moon is cool in the summer (retractable roof).
  • The Hofbrahaus is better in Munich..or at least that’s what I will soon find out.
  • Shopping is for the ultra rich, so window shopping is your best bet. The malls with regular stores are DEPRESSing.
  • Terminal 2 of the Vegas airport has a Burger King and Pizza Hut, that both close at 7pm (ugh!). PRAY that your flight doesn’t get delayed - mine did
  • Mandalay Bay has an awesome aquarium. Check it out….Bellagio fountains are a good photo-opp.
  • I stayed at the Wynn - not worth the cashola. Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace or even Luxor also have beds and you can visit the Wynn whenever you like.
  • For $100 you can shoot guns at THE GUN STORE (google it) its worth going
  • Bottle service trumps waiting in line anyday. The service/hospitality is worth it.
  • Jermaine Dupri likes getting is pic taken…his body guard, not soo much…teheh
  • James Carville is skinnier in person - is that possible?
  • Mix restaurant at Mandalay Bay is amazing…best meal you will ever have.
  • Prostitution is legal…you never know where they will show up. Your room? Don’t put it past them.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

JO Mamma kept this one a secret - Cilantro Relish


What is that green goo and What am I to do with it?

Enter Cilantro relish. After all, everything tastes better with a little Cilantro. Courtesy of Michael Smith, this recipe can be paired with anything you can imagine (nachos, quesadillas, steak…you name it).

Ingreditents:
  • Spicy Cilantro Relish
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 tsp of cumin seed
  • 1 x small green chili

Directions:
Place ingredients into a bowl and blend with a handheld blender or alternately puree in a food processor

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm now that tastes good

Monday, 16 February 2009

Canadian Fashion - where is the colour at?

My French teacher is from Morocco and has worked and traveled all over the world. She loves her life in Toronto and has even started to get used to the January snowfall. What she doesn’t understand is why Canadians choose to wear such depressing colours? When is the last time you saw someone wearing clothing that wasn’t Grey? Brown? Black? or Beige?

I tried to defend my fellow citizens by explaining that we don’t really have shops that carry the bright oranges, yellows etc that are commonly seen in Africa and parts of Europe. She disagreed. From pink to purple to bright green, Canadian stores are full of bright coats, shoes and hats for the season. She was right. Zara and H&M, Forever 21 and Club Monaco, all have bright colours on display that the shopper cannot miss.

So why the drab clothing? I made the argument that professionally, Canadians may feel grey, black, white etc are more appropriate for the workplace. True, but then how do Europeans pull it off? Incorporating some colour into your wardrobe, doesn’t decrease your professionalism. A purple scarf or yellow gloves, doesn’t make you trashy. She is right. Why don’t we brighten up our lives by introducing some colour into our closets? After all, I am getting pretty tired of the slush and the clouds and the grey of the season. I could totally go for a pink coat right about now

Friday, 13 February 2009

Lipstick Effect


I was going to write an article today but then I was sent this and you know what? It’s pretty much what I wanted to say (but more elegantly of course). I find this to be very true. I take pleasure now, given the economic situation, in buying toiletries (and apparently I’m not alone). Gnawing over which body wash smells better for hours or contemplating which colour I should paint my nails this week. During trying times we need something to take our minds off the ‘doom & gloom’ - I personally blame the news; can’t we just talk about something else already? Please! Surely it’s not news if already know its happening.

What instant gratification has been making you happy?

Monday, 9 February 2009

Book Review: Outliers

Fan of Malcolm Gladwell? Then you may have already realized that Outliers has clearly reached its Tipping Point. Or maybe Malcolm Gladwell has. No offence Mr Gladwell. I do like your writing style. Your ability to be concise makes you truly an extraordinary author. I have been a fan from the start. Blink and The Tipping Point were well written observations of phenomenon that very few can put into words. Outliers, however, is a different story. I think some valid points are made in this book and there are some very interesting displays of trends (good hockey players being born in the beginning of the calendar year for example). As a society, we should spend a lot more time looking at relationships and correlations to further our understanding and development in areas such as education, science and politics. However, what Outliers lacks is a proper conclusion, a way to tie all of these trends/relationships together. This book allows the reader to comprehend why millionaires are millionaires and how many successful people were able to be in the right place at the right time. But hindsight is 20/20, and looking back is a lot easier than looking forward. It gives one hope that they may be the next outlier. False hope. As you will never really know who the outliers of 2008/2009 will be until another author is able to look back at your life and comment on your likelihood to stand out from the crowd. For all I know, maybe we are all outliers in some form or another.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Blind Love


Speaking of sharing, I can’t keep this to myself any longer – I've been listening to ‘Blind Pilot’, and they’re truly sublime; with heartfelt lyrics and catchy chords they’re reminiscence of ‘The Format’ and ‘Bright Eyes’. The duo consisting of Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowsk from Portland, Oregon; are college mates that wanted to take their love of music off-the-beaten path of the normal ‘touring band’ in the USA and decided to embark on a West Coast bike tour. A year later here we are.

One listen and I was sold – what are you waiting for? Check them out

Come to the UK guys will ya?

Sharing Is Caring: Story Telling Time

On my way to work this morning I saw a pigeon - don’t even get me started with these annoying winged-rats…let’s just say they’re not my favourite bird. And why is it that they actually act like Londoners? Like we should be moving around them – do they want to get hurt? Anyway where was I before I got sidetracked? Oh right, so on my way to work I saw a greedy pigeon hording the largest pile of breadcrumbs I’d ever seen (that is, outside a bakery of course). He was happily eating away while his mates were desperately searching for something to eat else where. This got me thinking. Why are WE so greedy? Why couldn’t that pigeon invite his friends to share in his ‘treasure’? There was definitely plenty to go around. Why is it so hard to share the good things in our lives? When we find a bargain (for example) we tend to keep it to ourselves and eager to gloat to anyone who asks instead of spreading the word so everyone can benefit. People would rather keep things for themselves than share even if they could never finish or use all of something. Why is that? I don’t have answers; I can say that if we all try a little bit harder to be kinder to each other there’d be less waste and happier people. As I always say sharing is caring. Let’s care about those around us.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Change Has Come...To America

Change has come to America. People are now interested again in politics. The first family is young, optimistic and hopeful. This change couldn’t happen at a better time as many Americans and citizens of the world have lost confidence in our neighbours, in our politicians and in our economy. We aren’t worrying about our next trip, or what size TV we are going to buy. We are worrying about our jobs and our future.

Despite the hard times, people are still somewhat optimistic as they put their faith and trust in a man who will lead them through the darkest days. This time, the president will get it right…right? We won’t be making jokes about Obama the way Bush was mocked for the past eight years. Or will we?

Here is a letter the Bush twins wrote to Obama’s daughters in the Wall Street Journal. When I read some excerpts of the letter, it gave me another look at the life of a presidential family. The Bush twins remind Obama’s daughters to not get lost in the man the public knows. To remember who their Dad really is. That’s weird, because I could have sworn America knew Mr. Bush really well. We saw him at his worse moments and his best. After eight years of press conferences, debates, elections and public appearances, we were pretty sure we knew who Mr. George Bush was. What we didn’t know, and will never know is what happened behind closed doors of the White House - the loneliness, the guilt, the apprehension and the regret. Feeling alone in a room full of people. Knowing that no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. Being ridiculed and judged in front of the whole world, including your closest friends and family. I applaud the Bush twins for having the courage to publicly defend their father and letting the Obama girls know they may one day have to do the same:

Monday, 2 February 2009

Ear Candling: Update

Ok so I got it done…just kidding; I chickened out. However, my Mom did go to a local salon to get the ear candling procedure done. Forty five minutes and fifty bones later….nothing. My Mom often experiences pressure in her right ear and was hoping to alleviate this pressure through ear candling.
For 45 minutes you lie on your side (on a bed/comfortable chair) and wait as a lit candle (placed close to your ear) burns. The idea behind this procedure is that the candle is supposed to loosen the wax buildup in your ear so it flows out into a cone. At the end of the procedure, a lot of wax had come out into the cone. However, whether it was my mom’s wax or the candle’s wax, one will never know. The procedure is safe and harmless, however, whether there is any real need for it, remains to be seen.
The ancient art of ear candling has been around for centuries and some people swear by it. A simple Q tip every day in the ear will not eliminate years of debris and wax buildup that our ears (being open organs) are prone to. Apparently the procedure needs to be done a couple months apart for a year, and then once a year from then on, to get the full benefit. At $50 a pop, I don’t think it’s likely to be apart of my Mom’s regimen.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Roommate Corner

Sorry I don’t have a roommate anymore - woohoo!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Recipes Jo Mamma Never Told You About


If you are anything like me, you are still recovering from all the holiday food cravings. Cutting back on sweets and salts in January is proving to be very difficult for this busy lady. I try to limit myself to a couple snacks a week to satisfy my cravings and reward all my good eating habits during the week. This recipe is great to satisfy salt/carb cravings without adding too many calories. And really; who isn’t a fan of chipotle mayo?

Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Mayo (taken from www.recipezaar.com)


Ingredients:
  • 2 sweet potatoes (for two people)
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 2 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Mix together seasoning. In a bowl combine 1 Tbsp oil and 2 tsp seasoning per sweet potato. Toss and place on greased baking pans. Making sure that potatoes are spread out in pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes turning every 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with chipotle mayonnaise to prepare mayonnaise combine mayonnaise,* chipotle pepper, 1 tbsp adobe sauce and 2 drops Tabasco sauce. (*I use Chipotle peppers in a can that are in the adobe sauce already, found usually in Mexican food aisles of the supermarket).
  4. Save remaining seasoning mixture in ziploc bag for later.