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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

 

 

 

 

 

Born in the USA

It was introduced “with great fanfare” in 1936 at the Pittsburg China and Glass Show in five colours and was an immediate hit!  After 37 years of production it was retired in 1972. In 1986 it was resurrected by Bloomingdale’s and made tougher, lead free and better than ever. Chances are your mother or grandmother collected it. It is still a top choice among brides today and a leading brand in casual dinnerware. What am I referring to? Why, FIESTA, of course!

Manufactured as always by the Homer Laughlin China Company of West Virginia, this American company has produced over one half billion pieces of dinnerware since its inception 78 years ago during the Great Depression. As the leading producer of restaurant china,  Homer Laughlin uses the same ceramic glazes and durable materials for their domestic housewares as they do for the restaurant trade. In fact, the dishes are guaranteed chip-proof for five years and have proven to be reliably durable for families. You will see them in diners and restaurants or in the movies. Currently available in 16 colours, the sets of dishes are designed to be mixed and matched. And that is where the fun is! Some people like to collect one place setting of each colour for a rainbow effect. Others like to mix 3 or 4  or more colours. It is enjoyable to combine different colours according to holiday, occasion or mood.

Finally it was time for me to purchase some new dishes. The last complete set of dishes I had was from Eaton’s and they’ve been gone now for fifteen years! After some online research I ordered eight sets of Fiesta from Macy’s. Macy’s was featuring a buy one, get one free sale, with an additional 15%off. Even with duty, taxes & shipping I was pleased with the price. The eight sets arrived (only one plate broken) and I’m having a blast combining the dishes with each other and with my linens.

I chose scarlet, marigold and cobalt (the three primary colours) as my base colours. I’m collecting additional pieces in colours that coordinate with these. So far I have pieces in white, flamingo, periwinkle and sea mist. Vintage Fiesta can also be mixed with modern pieces as the sizes are consistent. Homer Laughlin has pledged to introduce one new colour each year and to retire colours. Flamingo is currently being retired and poppy is the newest addition.

When I invited my mother to see my new dishes, she laughed when she saw them! During her engagement, she collected Fiesta from the local grocery store. If you spent a certain amount on groceries you earned a stamp. Collect enough stamps and you could  trade it for dinnerware. My parents used it during the early years of their marriage.  I don’t  I probably ate off them as a baby, but don’t have a memory of them. Thanks to my friend Cindy for giving me my first FIESTA  pieces – two vintage sea mist bread and butter plates.

By the way, Lemongrass is the colour of the month!

Author’s note: Thanks to the Homer Laughlin China Company official website and Bruce Springsteen.

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott – Book Review

by Jennifer L. Scott

Yes, another book review! The long winter was good for getting my reading up to date. Interestingly, I chose another book that reinforced what I learned from Overdressed. In Lessons from Madame Chic Jennifer Scott shares in this very readable book twenty secrets she learned while in Paris studying abroad from her native California. Jennifer covers insight she gleaned about various aspects of living while spending time with several Parisian families. She also shows how she incorporates these ideas into her life today as a young mother.

Ms. Scott wryly observes some of the differences between the French and American lifestyles – the French walk, Americans drive. The French take their meals a table, Americans eat in front of the TV. The French live in apartments without elevators, Americans work out at the gym, etc. But one of the author’s biggest surprises was that the French as a rule have very small wardrobes and no qualms about “outfit repeating”. Jennifer lugged suitcases stuffed with clothes to last her six months only to find out that a tiny free standing wardrobe was provided to store them in. Her host family (Monsieur, Madame and adult son Chic) had only a skeletal amount of clothing (roughly 12 pieces each) that they washed and wore over and over again. Their clothing all worked well together – all tops colour-coordinated with all bottoms so there was much versatility from few items. The capsule wardrobe of a dozen pieces changed with the seasons and did not include clothing for specific wear only. For instance – formal wear, exercise clothes, undergarments, layering pieces and accessories did not count toward the 12 pieces. The items were of high quality so stood up to repeated washings and wearings.

 

Sample Capsule Wardrobe
courtesy of Lucky Magazine

What nicely tied these two books together for me was that both authors encouraged the reader to buy (or make) fewer clothes but to choose items of higher quality. This makes good sense economically and practically and is greener for the planet, easier on the self (fewer choices to make) and more enjoyable (who doesn’t like higher quality?)

I’m a CCW (constant closet weeder) and found that I already subscribed to a capsule wardrobe. I have hanging in my closet (or ideally on a rolling rack) only items that I will be choosing my daily outfit from. I don’t  like to to see clothes that are  the wrong size, out of season or that no longer express my identity. On my last visit to Anthropologie I was pleased to see multiple copies of Ms. Scott’s book stacked high amongst their clothing. In fact, I’m planning to add this book to my own library. Jennifer has lots of other good lessons on how to live mindfully.

Keeping me busy now is planning my capsule wardrobe for Spring from my existing clothes. I’ve got a great denim jacket, some camo/flower skinny jeans with ankle zippers, tops in nautical stripes, a few items in a blushy pink and some new black moto boots. I can’t wait to put it all together! I think Jennifer and Madame Chic would approve.

 

 

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!

 

 

Mirror Mirror!

Everyone remembers those famous lines from Brothers Grimm’s Snow White “Mirror, Mirror on the wall – Who’s the fairest one of all?” Snow White’s stepmother, The Queen liked looking at herself in the mirror (mainly for confirmation – I think she was insecure!). Narcissus was another character from Greek mythology who liked his own reflection so much that he wasted away. Decorators love them! They capture light, visually expand spaces and reflect beauty. A huge, heavy framed mirror leaning against the wall is a classic and beautiful way to enhance your home’s surroundings. Ah – the mirror – who can resist them?

Courtesy of mirrorlot.com

Who can avoid them? Many of you, it seems! I consider myself fortunate that people trust me to come into their homes. I see their possessions, lives and values all around me. For that reason, most of what I see is confidential. But a common thread among the homes I’ve been in no matter what degree of organizing they need – is a lack of mirrors. I discussed this with a client and she said very insightfully, that people living without a full length mirror are not living in their bodies. It follows that an organized home (i.e. organic) should contain several mirrors at varying heights. Feng shui consultants can advise you on mirror placement in home or business for best results.

Organized closet dressing room with mirror.
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

 

MIRROR LOCATIONS 

1. Front hall – near the door – to check your hair, teeth and makeup. Smile as you go!

2. Bathroom – this room is usually small. A mirror can make it feel bigger and brighter. Mirror as much as you dare. A lit mirror with magnifier is a nice additional touch for facial closeups and shaving.

3. Bedroom or dressing room – two at least! A mirror to check your top half (accessories and hair) and VERY IMPORTANT – a full length mirror. 

4. Front hall (again!) – a full length mirror.

5. Other exit doors/additional bathrooms – a mirror please.

6. Garden – some people enjoy the addition of a mirror to a garden or patio area.

7. Anywhere – a starburst or sunburst mirror is always classic.

8. Over the mantle – antique or vintage – bevelled is nice.

9. In your purse – for a salad check after lunch.

10. Your car, locker, desk or workspace – another good place to stash a small mirror for checkups.

Why two full length mirrors? The first is so you can check your outfit as you get dressed. Its much easier to see if your top goes with your bottom if you can see the whole picture. The second one in the hall where you leave is so you can check your coat and footwear with your outfit.

Personally, I have a very hard time leaving the house if I can’t check my full reflection. I need to know there’s  no toilet paper, that my slip isn’t showing and that those pants don’t make my butt look big!

Please take care hanging your mirrors. Make sure you anchor them to the wall and use strong enough nails and wire. Enjoy the reflection!

 

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!

Lifetime Warranties

Price Pfister Kitchen Faucet

I googled Lifetime Warranties as I began this blog.  There are a number of companies who provide lifetime warranties for their products, some of the more famous being Tupperware and Tilley. As it turns out, lifetime generally means the lifetime of the product, not the human being’s lifetime who bought the product. Shucks! I’m not sure how long a bathroom tap is supposed to live, or a bath tub tap & shower assembly or a kitchen spray faucet but clearly 7 and 14 years old is not too long! Here’s my story …

My recent  move has left me challenged for hot water in both kitchen and bathroom. Three visits from various plumbers and heating technicians have produced hot water to the sources – but the taps and shower head were failing to deliver it properly. Result: scalding or freezing in the shower, and low flow of cold water only in the kitchen.

Frustrated and not wanting to spend more money on the problem –  I turned to the huge folder I keep of product information and warranties. I found the warranties & parts lists for the taps and shower assembly and the manufacturer’s customer service phone number easily. Or you can take a picture of your fixture with your cell phone and match it to ones online. Google Images also has countless photos of practically everything and I found my bathroom taps and their name easily. (My son showed me these things – cool!)

A couple of quick toll free calls to the Price Pfister Customer Service representatives have resulted in shipments of brand new replacement parts for 3 various taps in the house. The parts that were sent are of higher quality than the original parts and consequently I now have plenty of hot water in the kitchen and a sprayer that is free from mineral deposits. Yay! The bathroom shower assembly is also producing plenty of nice, hot water (but NOT scalding).

Last  night UPS delivered (for free) the last pieces I need to fix a leaking bathroom faucet. We’ve even managed to replace these parts ourselves, without the need for a plumber. Pfice Pfister, I’m impressed! Thank you for standing by your Lifetime Warranty. In an age when so many things are disposable, thank you for allowing me to repair my fixtures, rather than replace them.

Everything is working as good as new! I’ve now moved on to the dishwasher although after fourteen years of service to a family of four I’m not expecting too much! And the stove is a Viking original from Eaton’s … Stay tuned!

 

 

 

For Mother’s Day

The author as a toddler with her mother

If you are among the fortunate majority, you probably grew up with your mother. Or maybe a female relative was like a mother to you. Lucky you! My deepest sympathies for those who did not know their mothers or had them for too short of a time.

She is often our primary caregiver and role model. A person you may wish to be like … or someone you may not wish to be like. Or both! A person who shaped our lives, our beliefs, our faith – almost everything about us. Our mothers!

My Mom was a stay-at-home mother and I always remember her freshening up before my Dad got home from work. She changed her dress, washed her face, put on lipstick. A nice idea!

She made our clothes, and matching ones for our Barbies. She made our meals (Shake ‘n’ Bake, anyone?) and taught me how to bake. Mom taught me how to sew, knit, write thank you letters and do laundry. She wouldn’t let me wear jeans or pierce my ears. She made me take piano lessons and practise daily. She bought me round toe brown oxfords because they were good for my feet. She also bought me these amazing pearlized leather pumps for my wedding day thirty years ago …

My mother – My Friend, Globetrotter, Social Butterfly and Shopper Extraordinaire! Maddeningly self sufficient with energy to spare and in excellent health! I want to be you when I grow up!

Twenty nine years ago I became a mother and its a role I always wanted. I am fortunate to have both a son and a daughter and even though they are adults now, its true what my mom always said – You never stop being a mother! Its one of the strongest bonds between human beings and vital for our survival. It will be interesting to hear what my children think I taught them someday, but truly I probably learned as much from them! Thank you Mike and Shannon for letting me be your Mom!

Contrary to my own popular belief, Mother’s Day was not started by Hallmark Cards – its roots trace back to ancient Greek times. Mothering Sunday has been celebrated in the UK since the 1600′s. It does not need to be a huge commercial celebration. Most of my friends who are moms appreciate time with their grown children – and moms with little ones underfoot generally appreciate some time with themselves! However you celebrate it – enjoy your Mom, your kids and your day!

Happy Mother’s Day! And thanks Mom!