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Archive for Health and wellness

“Winter is coming.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Remember last winter? We experienced record breaking snowfalls and far too many days of below freezing temperatures. Last year I invested heavily in some winter clothing pieces I’ve never owned before. (These are the types of items I’d take “up north” if I was on a winter getaway ). This year when I do my fall changeover to winter I’ll be bringing out the following:

Parka. My nice red Quartz Nature 80% down/20% feather made in Canada parka. It has beautiful raccoon trim on the hood and fleece inside the collar and pockets. Its washable but waterproof, warm, with a two way zipper – in short – perfection! I found it at SAIL in Burlington.

Snow pants! Yes, I feel a little bit like a child wearing these but on the coldest days I’m so glad to have them. They look great with my parka and are the best thing to wear when shoveling snow. I even wear them hiking and in the car when its feeling minus 35 with the windchill.

Long johns. Yes, I feel a little bit like a grandpa wearing these but they are essential under pants and jeans if you have to be outside. I found some that sit around the hip at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. I pair those with some waffle weave long sleeved v-neck T’s as my first layer and then get dressed!

Bamboo tights. My usual look in winter is a dress with tights and over-the-knee boots. Last winter changed all that. I was forced to buy some heavier tights made from bamboo which actually breathe. When nylon tights won’t keep you warm, reach for the bamboo.

Wool socks. My favourite brands are SmartWool and DarnTough (made in Vermont). These are high wool content, sized and geared to specific activities. The socks are much warmer than basic cotton/polyester ones and come in various thicknesses and colourful patterns. Under winter boots I prefer the slightly thicker ones.

Leg Warmers. No, I’m not going for the Flashdance revival look, but my gorgeous colour blocked leg warmers from preloved have kept me warm inside and out and on my way to and from the gym.

Cashmere accessories. Everyone loves a cashmere sweater, but gloves, scarves and lounge pants are equally luxurious. I found some beautiful red cashmere gloves on closeout last February at Winners. I loved my Hudson’s Bay Olympic mitts, but they were made from acrylic and not warm enough for frigid weather. Hello cashmere.

Wool sweaters. Its harder than ever to find 100% wool. Wool is more often being mixed with polyester, nylon, acrylic or some other man made fibre. As much as possible I’m wearing all wool or wool rich knits. They breathe better, keep heat in and pill less than synthetics.

Burts Bees for lips. Slightly tinted, slightly scented and easy to apply without a mirror. Keeps me from licking my lips and getting more chapped. I keep a few tubes stashed around.

Here’s hoping I do not need all of these deep winter items again this year … I’m not much of a snow bunny. I prefer sun and beaches. But they are all coming out of my winter bin, within ready reach should Old Man Winter unleash his blast.

  “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
― Carl Reiner

 

 

Beauty Sleep

Are you getting enough rest? Is sleep a priority in your life? Do you consider sufficient sleep to be a primary beauty ingredient?

Ahh sleep … or asleep? –  many of us do not get the required seven to eight hours of recommended shut-eye per night. We may try to get to bed at a decent time during the week, but often blow the schedule by staying up late on weekends and sleeping in. Our bodies require the same amount of sleep per day, so catching up or being sleep-deprived should be avoided.

We all know we look our best when we are well rested. Our skin is plumper, rosier and softer. Our HGH (human growth hormones) have been doing their repair jobs while we slept. If you have slept well there is little need for elaborate makeup in the morning. Certainly the euphemistic term for having had some work done is “she looks well rested!”. If you’ve been burning the midnight oil, everything seems to suffer. Your hair is limp or unruly, wrinkles or lines more prounced, skin dull. (That’s when dry shampoo, tinted moistuizers and cream blush come in handy!). Continuous sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, memory problems, inattention, accidents, impaired judgement and more.

How do we ensure a good night’s sleep?

1. Have a bed time – even as an adult. Figure out when you need to get up. Go back eight hours. Bedtime!

2. Have a bedtime routine – face, teeth, jammies, book, sex

3. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy – ditch the clutter, dirty laundry and flatscreen

4. Make sure it smells nice – candles, incense, flowers

5. Regulate the temperature and light – cool & dark is preferrable with  layered bedding

6. Invest in good sheets – high thread count cotton or bamboo

7. Your refuge from the world – leave others, work and our worries at the door

8. Exercise during the day – save the sleeping pills for rare occasions

9. Have a good bed – get the bed mattress, foundation and frame you can afford

10. Keep a pen & paper beside the bed – jot down any last minute worries that pop up so you can let them go safely

11. Close your eyes – you can’t force sleep, but you can try to attract it

12. Zzzzz

 

 

 

 

 

Help! I’m sick of my winter clothes!

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a reader in the Ottawa, ON area.

Dear RealStyle:

Help! I’ve been wearing the same things since November and I’m sick of my winter clothes.

Can you suggest some updates for spring using my winter wardrobe?

~Heather F. Still Inside, Cold,  Kanata

Dear Heather aka SICK:

I share your pain! Speaking  for all Canadian women this year – we are sick of our winter clothes. And with today’s weather i.e. Freak Late Winter Snowstorm, even more so! Try these updates for spring without sacrificing warmth.

1. Coloured tights – Use these to break up a dark coloured outfit. Joe Fresh always has colourful tights in stock, or try some in bamboo or cotton.

2. Scarf – Tie a brightly coloured scarf around your neck or shoulders for instant relief from winter.

3. Shoes or booties – If the weather still has you wearing your winter boots to work, please take them off when you get there! Swap them for suede or leather pumps in a vivid colour, sweet ballet flats or open toed booties with coloured tights (see #1).

4. Sunglasses – Add instant allure and glamour with a pair of oversized sunnies. Tortoise shell is seasonless or go Gwen Stefani bold with red frames. Pretend you’re driving the Capri coast instead of the 400 series highways.

5. Brights/pastels you already own - Shop your closet for a pastel coloured sweater or a bright silk shirt. Use it as starting point for your outfit. Echo the colour with a bag or clutch in a similar tone.

6. Spring mani – Rescue your winter hands and embrace the Brazil Collection by OPI. Toucan If YouTry, I Just Can’t Cope-acabana, and Red Hot Rio are some vibrant nail colours that will lift your spirits.

7. A coral lip – From drugstore cheap to designer priced – there are lip pencils that work like crayons in all shades of pink, orange and coral. Get colouring!

8. Blue or pink eye liner – If you like to experiment with makeup – try an eyeliner in a pastel colour. Give your makeup a lift with a new pencil in a bold hue.

9. New undies – Never forget that what’s under your clothes can affect how you feel. Splurge on a matching bra and panties in colourful lace. You can still feel “springy” under your winter woolies!

10. Plan a spa day – If you like to DIY, plan an hour at home for a facial mask, bath and foot scrub. Or visit your favourite spa for a body scrub and polish away that winter skin.

Spring (or the Vernal Equinox) arrives March 20 at 12:57 pm EDT – a mere eight days from now! Meanwhile, stay warm.

~Fashionably yours,

Ann @RealStyle.ca

p.s.  Heather receives an OPI nail polish of her choice from RealStyle for her question.

Post or send me your fashion questions!

 

 

 

 

Secretly wondering if you should be on “Hoarders” ?

Hoarding shows on television have  become quite popular and have helped raise public awareness of Organizing as a profession. These programs show the worst case scenario of what can happen when you lose control of your possessions. Sadly, in real life, many people who have a problem with hoarding have experienced a trauma or life-changing event. Perhaps being organized wasn’t second nature to them, but they managed to get along in life okay. After a trauma or life-changing event this becomes much harder and/or impossible. When children are involved it becomes even more serious.

Please get professional help if you find yourself in this situation.

If you think you might be a hoarder there are quizzes you can try and a clutter scale to help you recognize where you are. Once a room or item can no longer be used for its intended purpose you know you’re getting into trouble. For example, you can no longer find a place to sit in the living room, so you sit on your bed. Or, the dining room table is piled so high with papers you eat standing over the sink. Or, you have duplicated your possessions because you can not find the originals.

 

Digging out (in some cases literally) from clutter can take hours, weeks and sometimes months before the desired outcome is reached. Besides, it didn’t get that way overnight. Burnout is high, decision making can be emotional and progress slow. If you have someone helping you it will be much easier and quicker. There are multiple health risks when one lives in a hoarding situation, safety being  just one of them.  Hire a Professional Organizer who has had experience with hoarding.  Don’t worry, they have seen this before and that is why they are in business.

Please don’t get discouraged.

It is darkest before the dawn, and coldest too. If you and your Organizer are working well together, you are going to get results and you will feel better. You’ll find things you forgot you had, often money and gift cards! Your sleep will be more refreshing, you will have more time in the day and performance will increase at work when you are organized and clutter free at home.

Progress not Perfection

No, you are never going to be as organized as your Professional Organizer. And he or she know that! What you are both striving  for is improvement and progress in the right direction – not perfection. Your Organizer will do what is right for you in your situation. Every individual is unique and solutions are custom.

Happy Organizing!

 

 

 

 

Getting organized for the holidays

Holiday season is just beginning, but the sooner you start, the easier it will be! I’m a firm believer in breaking big tasks down into smaller pieces. You can use these 12 strategies at Christmas to make it a little easier for yourself.

  1. Mark all family member’s social events on your paper or electronic calendar.
  2. Make note of the events you that require you to bring food. Plan your grocery shopping and baking in advance.
  3. Plan your wardrobe choices around your social events and try on outfits in advance.
  4. Make a list of all the people you need to shop for. As you get ideas, fill in the list. Then you will never be at the mall wondering what to get. Its much easier when you know what you’re after.
  5. Buy Christmas stamps now at the post office before they run out.
  6. If you didn’t get them on sale last year, try to purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper and napkins on sale. You can always tuck them away for next  year.
  7. Schedule beauty and hair appointments if you didn’t already do so in September!
  8. Keep your regular schedule of gym and exercise. Its a great stress reliever.
  9. Volunteer, donate or help others – that’s what this season is about!
  10. Delegate – ask family members to help with decorating, card writing, cookie baking and enjoy some time together.
  11. Indulge in moderation – you deserve to enjoy yourself too.
  12. Revel in imperfection – sometimes the burnt turkey, mismatched slippers and forgotten presents are the best part!

Its early, but let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas!

 

 

Big Bamboo!

Why Big? This miracle grass is sustainable, regrows without replanting and is the fastest growing woody plant on earth. It can be grown without pesticides and herbicides, so its organic. It is strong, durable, soft and smooth. It both dyes and drapes well. It can be eaten (bamboo shoots), drank (beer, tea, wine) and used to make furniture and flooring. You can use bamboo to make toilet tissue, coffee filters and even biofuel. It has insulating properties, so will keep you cool in summer, warm in winter. The two Pandas at the Toronto Zoo eat bamboo as the mainstay of their diet, going through approximately 10-15 kilos daily of the 50 that is offered to them. The bamboo incidentally, is air shipped by Fed Ex in a refrigerated container from Memphis, Tennessee!

( Pandas love bamboo and eat large amounts daily

So what’s new, Bamboo? Its BREATHABLE! This may be more of interest to my female readers who experience sweaty nights, but bamboo sleepwear is becoming more popular and easier to find. Nationwide one of the first retailers I knew of to carry bamboo sleepwear was Soma (in the Chico’s family of stores).  I recently bought some beautiful soft mint green bamboo pyjamas at Ecomystic  (136 James Street South) in Hamilton made by Yala.  The store has a nice selection of bamboo and organic cotton items. I slept very restfully and the pj’s breathed nicely!  I’ve also purchased bamboo footless tights, a bra top and V-neck T shirts (that are great for working out) made by C’est Moi at Dakota Mae in Westdale.  There are lots of other items in the C’est Moi collection. The bra top came in very handy when I need to get an MRI (your own clothing can be worn as long as there is no metal in it). Of course, now that there are bamboo pyjamas and clothing, sheets can’t be far behind! Yes, I’ve seen a few sets on my travels and I’m eager to try them.

In Asian countries bamboo grows easily and it has been used to make houses, bridges, hats and musical instruments for centuries. Bamboo’s long life makes it a Chinese symbol of longevity; in India it is a symbol of friendship while in Vietnam “bamboo is my brother” – according to a proverb. Around the globe certain varieties of bamboo are being planted in North America.  Maybe someday you’ll be bathing in a bamboo bathtub, pedalling a bamboo bicycle or buying your grandchildren a bamboo skateboard. Meanwhile, enjoy all the things this new/old plant has been providing to earthlings for thousands of years.

Banish the Bed Head!

I consider myself fairly lucky that my hair is quite straight. It doesn’t respond too much to humidity and it generally behaves. This is when I take good care of it, blow it dry and touch it up with a straightener. If I let it dry naturally, or it gets wet between shampoos, it has a life of its own and gets “wings” and “horns”. Especially when I’m sleeping. You can picture it – that’s why they call it “Bed Head”.

Wake up with un-lined skin when you sleep on satin pillowcases

I found something that helps greatly with bed head and has the added bonus of making your face look better too! OK, maybe not your face, but the skin on your face! Its satin sheets! By satin – I mean silk, silk charmeuse, cotton sateen or good old fashioned satin microfibre (i.e. polyester,  but its not my fave). Turns out these slightly slippery fibres when used as pillowcase material keep your hair smooth, your hairstyle in place and help prevent creases in the skin while sleeping. If we spend up to one third of our lives sleeping, we may as well sleep on sheets and pillowcases that don’t mark our skin or ruffle our hair. Apparently legend has it that Hugh Hefner likes satin sheets, but maybe for another reason we won’t get into here …

If you’re like me you already have a few nice sets of sheets and don’t really want to buy silk sheets – they can be expensive and warm as they don’t breathe as well as cotton. The solution is to buy or make just pillowcases that coordinate with your existing sheets.  You don’t have to display your silk pillowcases on the front of the bed, you can tuck them in behind the pillow shams.

I purchased silk charmeuse pillowcases in a soft gold neutral colour that go with almost anything  at Bed, Bath and Beyond in Oakville (my new favourite store). They are actually the ones “as advertised on TV”. The sales clerk there led me to numerous options, unlike some major department stores where you may get a blank stare when you ask for satin pillowcases. I find my hair looks better when I get up than it did when I went to bed!

I’d love to know if you try satin pillowcases – drop me a note or comment. Did it keep your hair smooth? Your face unlined? Another good option for unwrinkled skin upon awakening is to sleep on your back (but not if you snore). Then you’d be disturbing your partner…  Bonne Nuit!

Summer do’s and don’ts for Men

Men, this column is for you! Summer arrives on Friday and although the season is short, it can be filled with fashion challenges. You may have a vacation to pack for, a wedding or Stag & Doe to attend, BBQ’s with friends, a romantic date with your girl … and you still need to look fresh for work when its 35C degrees in the shade. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

DO’s

1. Bust out the summer clothes – lighter colours and fabrics will keep you cooler and help your skin breathe. Look for linen, cotton, hemp, bamboo or a combination of these fibres. Avoid polyester blends – they tend to keep the heat in. If your office dress code calls for suiting – there are nice options available in lightweight wool. Complete your look with a crisp white shirt or some nautical stripes and a skinnier tie. Seersucker and pinstripes are timeless classics. The Bay has many great options for men and some excellent sales.

2. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen - hats are cool! And they keep you cool! And protect your precious head from sunburn. Sunglasses protect your eyes and prevent squint wrinkles. The right frames for your face can make you instantly cooler. Use plenty of sunscreen and re-apply after swimming or two hours sun exposure. If you do not like to use sunscreen (some do not like the chemicals they contain), wear long sleeves and pants and seek shade. A sunburn is dangerous and never attractive.

3. Cover the tats. Pretty or not, most tattoos do not have a place at work.  Wear long sleeves – your co-workers will think you are such a fashion piece!

DONT’s

1. Wear the same thing over and over – have  some fun with your clothes.  Summer colours are brighter, styles are somewhat more relaxed. Swap your winter “uniform” for something  that says summer. Capris and shorts are OK. Lose the socks. And never wear socks with sandals.

2. Let it all hang out - sorry guys, but we ladies don’t like gnarly, dry feet, excess hair of any kind or the shirtless! There is no crime in having a pedicure to prepare your feet for summer – yes, someone is prepared to offer this service. Get thee to a spa! If you are the hirsute type – the same said spa probably provides waxing. And really, we don’t want to see  you shirtless unless you are in reasonably good shape and we are all at the beach..

3. Wear Flip Flops – unless you are at the beach, in the backyard or on vacation. Its my personal pet peeve, but I don’t like men in flip flops. I think it looks sloppy and unprofessional. There are so many sexier summer options to flip flops – try deck shoes, canvas or leather non-athletic sneakers or some espadrilles.

If you need some advice with an outfit, or someone to help you shop, I’m available. Send me a photo and I’ll offer you some free on-the-spot advice. Text your message or photo to 289-244-8774. Have a fashionable summer!

 

A relaxed mind

Echo Jaipur bedding

A relaxed mind

A relaxed mind is a creative mind – who was it who said that? Was it Yogi Bhajan or just conventional teabag wisdom … well anyway s/he was right! This past month I did move – not exactly on a whim, but certainly on the fly …  to use a few idioms! Although I had been sporadically packing items not used on a daily basis, I was not ready to move only one week after making the final decision. I was still packing the morning of the move after the truck had been picked up! What was that I said about my mind again?

Right! Being relaxed. Moving involves a myriad of details – from changing utility bills, to letting friends and family know about your new contact info, new patterns to commute to work, adjustments to your new surroundings and so on. And that was only for a move within Hamilton for two adults!  Add to that some temperamental hot water resulting in freezing or scalding showers and no hot water in the kitchen. This too shall pass … However, relaxed I am not.

I’ve also been putting off the inevitable – that even though I’ve moved home and work this month and everything is still not settled and working perfectly, its time to get back to what I was doing before I moved. This includes my regular work, both social and real time networking, and blogging. I only began blogging in the past 6 months and I regularly tell anyone who is interested that this is one of my favourite parts of being a business owner. So I wondered why I’d been avoiding it. Throughout the move I’d been making mental notes to use in future blogs, such as what I did right and wrong during the move;  how most of us underestimate the physical toll of moving; that even if I’m not a “Senior” I can feel somewhat disoriented being in new surroundings and so on …

Its just today when I am too physically exhausted to do any more, its pouring rain and I’ve surfed the net shopping for new bedding for a few hours that my fingers and my thoughts have finally connected on the keyboard. No, I’m not doing nothing, I’m relaxing a bit and my brain now has enough space for some creative thoughts. Coming home from a vacation I’ve noticed the same thing … great ideas start coming forth unbidden.

Keep a notebook or two around so you can capture ideas when you relax … you never know where one will lead!

 

 

Argan Oil – the Fountain of Youth?

The Goats can’t be wrong!

People have been looking for it for centuries – that elixir or potion that can keep you looking and feeling young. Many today find their answers in cosmetic procedures and surgery. Some swear by Retin-A . Others maintain that exercise, diet and lifestyle can keep you younger.

As a Lucky magazine subscriber I read with interest a recent article by Beauty Director Jean Godfrey-June about the benefits of argan oil. Moroccan goats apparently climb trees to eat the precious argan fruit. (This in itself is a feat, as they have cloven hooves). Argan oil, which comes from this fruit has been used for years as an anti-aging all round beautifying moisturizer by people from Crete and Morocco.

In a personal test, I used about 5-7 drops of oil on my face as a moisturizer after cleansing. I did this twice a day for a week. After just one treatment, I immediately noticed an improvement in softness, plumpness and a slight healthier glow. My facialist also noticed a swift improvement, especially in my forehead area. And although the oil absorbs quickly, its benefits can still be felt on the skin for quite some time. It does not stain pillowcases and can be used on hair, nails and skin as well as on the face. I’ve tried Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil (from Sephora) and the Sheaterra Organics Moroccan Argan Oil, pictured above, available at Kabuki Spa & Skin Care Centre on Locke Street in Hamilton. For now, its my Fountain of Youth!