Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Magical mystical POLYVORE tour

Polyvore gives me a creative outlet while at the same time I surf through outfit combinations, new products, great clothes, and just plain experiment.  Here I share a few of my latest creations.  The nice part about Polyvore is that it gives the product makers, prices, and links to websites where, if you're inclined you can buy anything shown.
Dreams of Autumn #COLOR

I let the creative juices flow when creating this whimsical tribute to fall and winter accessories.  I do adore the dress though (a Chanel piece that was scooped from Pinterest)!

strangeVISITORS by jeannette-marshall featuring fall centerpieces

Here are some of my favorite temptations to buy: 

285 CAD -

73 CAD -

85 CAD -

If that's not enough, I get ideas for makeup and nail polish finishes that appeal to my style sense.  Oh, and jewellery galore for the accessory mad mrs that I am:

16 CAD -

Nail polish
9.81 CAD -

Augustine Jewels stud earrings
170 CAD -

Bling Jewelry pearl earrings
44 CAD -

Turban headband
33 CAD -

Plaid shawl
17 CAD -

Strike me up for getting into the spirit of Halloween early.  After all, careful planning creates masterful looks.  We dress up at work for Halloween, even having a contest.  I guess this looks like I'm leaning towards being a witch (which is work friendly and business appropriate).

#Halloween style

Bright nail polish

17 CAD -

Urban decay eye shadow
25 CAD -

Vegan lipstick

12 CAD -


66 CAD -

I dream of a tropical vacation where the waters shimmer like blue topaz.  I can't right now, so I dip into Polyvore to take me away anyhow.


Zimmermann sleeveless top
635 CAD -

High-waisted shorts
51 CAD -

SwimSpot blue sandals
35 CAD -

Dolce Gabbana leather handbag
1,305 CAD -

White gold ring
3,220 CAD -

Amour stud earrings
265 CAD -

Ice sterling silver jewelry
195 CAD -

16 CAD -

Louis Vuitton travel bag
3,920 CAD -

Nail treatment
19 CAD -

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fall for entertainment

Saying your bored is something that I avoid at all costs.  Granted, now that our kids are all young adults, aged 21-26, they don't live at home any longer.  We no longer are woken up in the middle of the night because someone is sneaking their entourage into the basement.  Nor are they having big fights with boyfriends that startle us out of slumber into referee, or my hunkster husband, defensive Ninja mode.

There are many things one can do.  Heck, I have so many on my TO DO list it isn't worth having one any more because the only thing standing between me and that list is me.

Routines like housework are automatic and done on autopilot now.  It isn't like there is a collection of left overs in the fridge -- two of my daughters pet peeves of mine:  going for dinner with their beaus, bringing home a doggy bag, that they'll never eat, just so I eventually throw it out.

Being a parent and having a family, you are pushed into tidal waves of activities that you neither wanted nor asked for.  Yet that is par for the course.  Being an empty nester is an adjustment.

Thankfully, I'm an avid learner and knowledge junkie.  There never seems to be a loss for things to do when I'm on my days off or I have a window of time in the morning before my shift starts just after noon.

My biggest weakness is once I get started, I want to finish.  I don't like pulling everything out, taking inventory and laying the tools for the ready to only be able to barely get started and have to leave it.  It is a gravitational pull away from creative to responsible.

I love to blog.  To write.  It is therapy and it is giving back.  It is sharing things that I hope others will like or discussing matters that are bubbling at the surface of my mind.  I have a hard time stopping once I've begun.  There is attractive complimenting photos to source.  Facts to look up.  Sharing on social media so others may gravitate and read my hard worked musings to attract.

Then there are the many things that can distract me:  Finding the perfect photo from all the great ones accumulated since the last time I wrote.  Singling out the perfect quote that captures what the blog is all about in harmony with my mantra.  Updating the books that I have just read or am reading, so that others may consider reading one or all of them.

When I find a movie that suits family or female audience, I want to post it on here so that others may consider watching it.  

I goof around a lot on Polyvore, because it reaches my creative corner with style statements.  I can get lost on there for a while, just looking at the ensembles that others have put together.  Then that means rooting through my wardrobe to find that treasure piece that will work the ensemble around into a worthy look for that day.  (Yes, mounds of clothes is a weakness for a clothes horse, and finding a certain pair of shoes or purse is often a challenge).

Calgary skyline during fall
I love painting.  I find all kinds of things to paint and paint on.  It started as a quirk and now resides in my daily consciousness of putting paint to either a canvass or an item to transform it.  For my amusement, to appeal to my creativity, not for a critical eye or definition of worth.  The time it took to come up with either the idea or piece for transformation is priceless.

I can't always go shopping and buy things endlessly and by galore.  I have to be ruthless and responsible on purchases.  I avoid drugstores because they have beauty counters that scream and beckon me to explore.  I can't remember the last time I went to a mall, content to avoid parking nightmares.  Recognizing that I may have not the discipline to avoid pulling out my wallet and do a "purchase".  In my attempts to be more responsible and thrifty, I am that much more proud of a great find at a bargain.  Reworking clothes with accessories is a sign of a champion disciplinary new soul.

The least expensive entertainment for me is to write.  So here we are.  You can sit back and relax and read.  That is all that is asked of you.  If you feel inclined to click on anything recommended on the side banner, shows endorsement that you, too, may like it.  

After all, sharing is entertainment in itself.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Advocacy for education

Education is a right for every child in our hemisphere.  In my opinion, it evens the playing field.  We are often reminded by great achievements by those who climbed out of despair, poverty or abuse to rise out of the shambles.  Education has a way of doing that.  It is something that we perhaps take for granted.

I often volunteer to help kids in education.  For almost three years I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement, where one is armed with teaching aids, representing major companies in the community as a way of giving back.  The skills covered are economics, budgeting, finance, credit, applying for jobs, understanding expenses and so on.  As volunteers, we are also setting positive examples for kids aged 14 and 15.  

I have also volunteered to prepare and distribute lunches to kids in an elementary school with demographics that show much lower than average household finances.  This was under United Way, another great organization that helps the community thrive.

Recently, our organization, did a fundraiser within our department about a month ago under the charity Stephen's Backpacks  It was set up as a contest among about 10 teams of about 13 individuals on each.  Basically, we were given two backpacks and filled it up with supplies for students, given suggestions by breakdown by group of elementary, junior high and high school (as needs vary).  As our social prime, we also raised funds, some donated filled backpacks, others supplies and others money.  It was a worthwhile cause, helping kids in education.  It helped build team work.  Sprinkled with a little competitive spirit to make it charged.   

I grew up with advocacy for education.  My parents gave each of us the opportunity to go beyond high school to post secondary education.  I was the only one of four to take advantage of it.  It wasn't always easy.  Sure, my tuition, housing was covered while I had to become innovative to get food.  I ended up volunteering on the Yearbook Staff, then moved into the Student Union as its Secretary.  Part of the reward was monthly meetings and afterwards a paid dinner at the cafeteria.  I also was a Floor Senior in the Students' Residence.  There must have been a free meal in their somewhere.  Both allowed me to attend social events for free, and there must have been free food in there as well.  I worked part time for a while but the hours of 5pm to 2am didn't always compliment getting up for 8am classes.  

I am thrilled that my second youngest daughter is attending University.  Her father had tried to take her to the Armed Forces recruitment office to subsidize her education.  I advocated her to follow her passion and dreams.  Both her father and I contributed towards an education fund the moment all three of our children were born.  It certainly helps today.  My daughter says that she knows how lucky she is to be getting an education without the cloud of graduating with massive debt.  She took a gap year off, traveled a lot, played competitive soccer and partied some.  I was always nervous that she would get too used to money and put off going back to school.  

I surveyed lots of friends and associates on the matter.  Was a gap year wise?  Looking back, I can see why she did do it.  She is a January baby, very articulate early, starting preschool in French emersion at age 3.  It wasn't playschool it was PREschool.  Then, she was a year younger at graduation than most of her classmates.  I understand she needed a break before she buckled down and went to school.  She took the time to explore her interests and decided on Fine Arts.  That was after Marine Biology, Meteorology, etc.  

What kids have today in some of the schools is career planning early.  Taking quizzes and skills tests to cross reference attributes with career paths.  She was advised to be a stock broker, given the reason that she was in strong in math and had personal integrity and honesty.  Her dad would have done back flips since he had taken the Canadian Securities Course from interest and built knowledge for investing.

My stepdaughter was all set on going into nursing from the time I met her.  She started work as soon as she could and glided from that into a strong position with a strong organization that provides ongoing on the job training which is not the same as a post secondary education.  We can foresee her working her way up as she has already moved upwards a fair bit for someone her age.  

Our youngest has moved cities, expanded herself and spread her wings.  She is starting to say that she has started to settle on an education direction now.  Communications.  I hope she does.  At least I've learned that they have to make the decision themselves even if the expectation is deep rooted and money set aside.  

The best thing we did, was start from the get go with an education fund.  It allowed the opportunity to always be there to back up the encouragement.  Their father and I met at college but didn't graduate with student loans.  

In the long run.  Education is the distinguishing factor that can set anyone apart.  It takes sacrifice, discipline and intelligence to start and continue.  If our governments really wanted to avoid political positioning by playing with education, they would encourage parent or organization finance for post secondary education for all.  

I understand that many US citizens consider the government paying for things like education and health means gravitating towards a socialist state.  I'd say, put your paranoia aside, it doesn't have to mean you're on the brink of communism.  It simply means that you are investing in your future.  Your children.  Their education.  A better chance of survival and financial security than some of their parents.  Educated households, I would imagine, statistically have less abuse of drugs, alcohol or domestic violence.  

We can break the chain of disfunction by protecting all of our futures by investing in our children's education.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Politics: An open classroom

Are you like me -- tired of the nonstop theatrics by politicians from both sides of the border?  It is going to go on for a lot longer.  I am embarrassed for some of the candidates' blunders from either country.

As a Canadian, many of us pay attention to both sides of the border.  Sometimes, I have to admit that the US Republican Party volley for power is ten times more entertaining.  The stats support this.  CNN's airing of the debate hosted 20+ million American viewers while Canada's meagre 60,000 tuned into the Globe and Mail's debate.

Statistically, overall, those are not impressive numbers when you consider the population of America:  320 million compared to Canada:  36 million rounded up.  In either instance, the viewership was less than 10 percent.  With what is at stake:  economy, education, health, security - you'd think more would be tuned in.  Then again, thanks to the internet and social media, one can always catch up.  Even if it is skewed by those that are the loudest or tweet the most absurd.   

Does that mean that both countries citizens are apathetic?  Or, does it just mean that they're tired of hearing about Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau's theatrics?  I had a chuckle when I heard that someone tweeted that Canada needed a Prime Minister, not a rock star.  Granted, it appears obvious to me that Justin is appealing to the Millennials and The Donald is quite simply entertaining.  

It doesn't look great when we are merely being entertained when we should be considering who we should hand our futures to?

The nicest part, for me, on the cusp of two age distinctions, Generation X, 35-54 or 54+ Baby Boomers, was watching the debate with my 26 year-old son.  He represents the Millennials while my husband represent Generation X mostly.  We represent the smallest bubble of population, faced with security issues (both employment and terrorism) and financial woes (saving for retirement, paying for kids' education).

There were some major impressions that I got for Canada, and living in the oil-bust city of Calgary, is that our incumbent Prime Minister cannot be blamed for the oil recession in our midst.  We should be examining how the oil prices were driven lower before we start to point fingers.  It is a mistake that the other two debaters seem to be missing what is obvious to me.  I wonder if others think the same?  I'm undecided while wondering if I should support staying the course?  After all, the experts say that Harper's finesse comes from a background in economics.  That would seem to be a good enough reason to pay heed.  Personally, I'm not looking for handouts, I'm just looking for a brighter future.  That future looks like stability.  

On the other side of the border, I have an opinion because I'm aware that whatever happens there seems to impact us, whether we want to admit it or not.  Again, where I live is directly linked to the US because of our head office count cross-sectioned with Houston, Dallas, Texas.  A wise mentor long ago, when I was working for a US corporation, advised smartly, to anticipate what will happen in the future, you should keep an eye on the south, politics and Wall Street.  They have a habit of trickling over to us.  

The coolest part was having both my son and I agree on one thing:  Carly Fiorina was a stand out.  If I could vote right now, I'd be all in with her.  She stood steadfast, very poised, never waivered once.  She showed class and demonstrated tremendous leadership by staying on point, and understood her positions on many, if not all the issues, the others were jockeying position for.  

I'm not a feminist while I am a champion of strong examples for our young women to look up to.  I pulled from You Tube, the following example: 

Regardless of your political stance or views, tons can be gained from watching these debates.  You can decide what type of person you identify with, regardless of party or politics.   It is an open classroom for all to learn from.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nutrition counts with age

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”  ~Unknown

The oddest thing happened.  When I got home last night, my husband pointed out a HUGE box of overflowing fruits and vegetables, saying they were sitting on our doorstep.

My first reaction was it would be my wonderful, nutritious-oriented daughter because we had talked about having a bake or make day -- try making pies or I'd show her how I make my popular bruschetta from the tomatoes I grew in my very own garden!  She was not responsible, however, didn't hesitate to say she'd swing by to pick up some.

There were two bags of different apples, a big bag of oranges, about 7 zucchini, more apples, about 50 kiwi -- it was amazing!

My second conspirator I thought of was my best friend who had just returned from Victoria after dropping her son off to begin his first year of university.  After exchanged texts this morning, I discovered it wasn't her.

Hmmmm, the plot thickens.  Who is our guardian angel or fairy godmother?  

What was so fascinating about this was I had just said at work, after a colleague shared pieces of heavenly nectarine, that I had been craving fruit but with my crazy schedule, hadn't made it to the grocery store.  I had it on my TO DO list for today, my first day and only day off for a week.

I haven't really talked about the fact that I had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes a year and a half ago.  I keep it firmly in the closet, keeping it private.  Sadly, I took it hard and a sign that my youth and vitality may be failing and a sign of imperfection, almost embarrassment.

I worked with a dietician referred to by my doctor, who said that I already had the basics of a good diet that just needed tweaking.  Basically, like any good nutrition plan, you have to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables and scale down sugar (obviously) and surprisingly carbohydrates.  

Stress and lifestyle can also impact your health dramatically.  My job is shift work and it seems to have impacted my blood sugar levels.  Before, I would get up by 7am, have a yogurt with fruit or a muffin with my Metformin and then another pill with lunch of usually a sandwich full of veggies.

Unfortunately, my schedule is really off kilter.  I can work from 1pm to 9pm, then the next few days 10am to 6pm, followed by 12:30-8:30pm.  It doesn't lend itself to a diet routine.

I'm not stressed by any means.  My kids have all left home and are smoothly sailing into adulthood with one moved to Vancouver, employed, nice boyfriend and living with my brother, safe and sound.  My other is starting her second year of university, a little turbulent because she was working 3 jobs to help fund her love to travel.  My stepdaughter is into owning her own condo, engaged and to be married next summer.  I do worry about my son and his lifestyle, with alcohol as a companion, a bit more than I'd like.

Overall, life is pretty balanced.  I've doted on my garden with my best friend, Buddy by my side.  I've been decompressing with painting and self-expression by blogging.

BUT, the big BUT.  I can't fool the meter that tests my blood sugar.  It has been higher than normal for the past few weeks.  It stands out to me that it is my diet that is causing things to go amuck.  I realize that it takes discipline to have a routine on your eating, not just what you eat.  Surprising, but revealing.

I've known and been aware, that when you don't take the time to plan your menu or have the proper supply nearby, it is easy to lean on a greater amount of carbohydrates.  Those are an enemy of balance.  

It takes me an hour to get home, so it's peanut butter toast for dinner.  Not a whole lot of calories yet mostly carbs.

I still am going to go crazy wondering who dropped off this huge box of goodies?  Is there such a thing as a guardian angel?  Or is it my karma:  what I've been thinking and saying lately?

Regardless of its origins, it emphasizes how important one's routine AND nutritional balance is.  Not many of us have the wakeup call a diagnosis like Diabetes is to realize that we have to watch what we eat and take the extra effort on balance.  

My dietician emphasized that I have the misfortune of genetics against me.  My father had diabetes and so had my younger brother and older sister - so that compounded the likelihood.  As she pointed out, I was pretty good at recognizing and following a balanced diet.  Her best advice was to visualize my plate where the carbs are balanced by vegetables.  So it isn't like you are going without anything in particular, it is more about offsetting it with more vegetables.

It was like a wake up call, that when you hit 50, it is more than ever important.  What was further surprising, was that my older brother recently had been diagnosed.  Similar to us, he and his wife follow a pretty disciplined diet.  The curse of genetics fell on him too.  He doesn't know that I know, my mother told me so I would feel better.  

I hazard a guess that my brother took it the same way I did:  a stroke of misfortune that is taken with embarrassment.  Especially to those consciously watching what they eat, how much.  He plays hockey every week with guys half his age.  Heck, his wife makes his lunch every day because she knows he is a bit of a junk food junkie and if she didn't, he'd be going through a drive-thru every day.  

We're of a generation now where so many are baby boomers hitting their 60s.  I'm a fair ways off, yet the reminder hit me flat in the face.  If I want to continue to be the vibrant, energetic person I'm reputed to be, I will have to pull up my socks and put any excuses aside, forget the blame on genetics and just get to it.

I realized writing this that one very important matter is exercise:  with the shift work, it hasn't leant itself to my walks with my dog for exercise.  You know, what they keep saying balanced diet + exercise = health.

I may take care of my appearance, love fashion, proud of my newling garden skills, and emphasis on balance.  I have to admit that I've slid some and need to smarten up.  My life depends on it.

"The best doctor gives the least medicine."
~Benjamin Franklin

p.s. my neighbour, who was my next culprit on my list of thoughtful, caring people who would have possibly dropped the treasure trove of goodies off on my doorstep, just came by with her wonderful homemade apple jelly (positive karma again!) did not give us them.  The plot thickens.  She did say I could make kiwi jelly.  Time to get off to get some fresh basil to make some bruschetta.  I'll share the recipe later.  Good times, good eats, good friends.  Lucky me!

p.s.s. It turns out that the fruit came from my lovely daughter and fiance.  I had pondered with hubby, neighbour, other daughter (while I was going through process of elimination), after wracking my brain, considering my sister.  I did think of her and her fiance but strongly considered that they don't each much fruit.  Never striking me that they would have gotten the fruit from someone from work, and BECAUSE they don't eat fruit, they'd give it away.  It wasn't meant as a surprise.  They simply dropped it off on their way from work, meaning to text us or tell us next time. It was a wonderful, beautiful gesture cloaked in mystery, landing squarely on fits and giggles.  All good for the soul.