Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season's Greetings!

Whatever you celebrate, Wade, Princess and I wish you the very best for the New Year!

These are the belated cards we sent out, including some of our engagement pictures, wedding pictures, pictures from our honeymoon, and pictures of Princess!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the third day of Christmas ...

And today, we'll see this:

Then we head home in the early evening. To get ready for Christmas! :)

Of course, my in-laws and our neighbours looked after our house, and my parents looked after the dog. I wouldn't dare post that we'll be away while we're away without having someone to look after the house.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On the first day of Christmas ...

Our Christmas gifts to each other is a trip within our province.

We leave today. In fact, we should be on the road right now.

Today, we'll be here:

(Princess will stay at my parents, where she'll be spoiled with at least 1 walk, often 2 walks, every day. Also, my parents-in-law are practically neighbours, which works out wonderfully. Plus we know our neighbours very well. Still, I'm not posting anything on social media because I have heard horror stories.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Musings on Life

Ever notice how different coloured ju jubes have different flavours? Yet they all have the same ingredients - mostly 4 or 5 types sugar.

And ever notice how most people like the red best?

So why is it so hard to get all-red packages of ju jubes or jelly beans?

I'm thinking about this as I'm finishing off the green ju jubes from a package of red-and-green Christmas ju jubes. I did a "blind" taste test (not really blind, but I didn't look at which one I was putting in my mouth) and that's how I confirmed the red and green candies taste different. While I feel better that it's not all in my head (which I was half-suspecting), I don't feel any better as now all I'm left with are the green ju jubes.

(Also, I think jelly beans are the same.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Cookies!

Tomorrow, I have "my kids" over to bake and decorate cookies. I sometimes refer to them as "my kids" or as "my nieces & nephews", but they are not blood relatives. This group has recently expanded from Ryan & Kylan (sons of Wade's best man) and Lily & Chloe (daughters of groomsman Chris) to include 1-year-old Kiara (Ryan & Kylan's baby sister) and 2-year-old Charlie (son of another groomsman Dave). This is the third time I've had this party. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

Here are pictures from last year:

As an aside, Happy 1st Birthday, Kiara! :) (Here's Kiara just under 1 year ago at last year's cookie day.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

And RIP to Pat Burns

Famed NHL coach Pat Burns, coach of my beloved Leafs, as well as the Habs, Bruins (all "Original Six" hockey teams), and finally won hockey's coveted Stanley Cup (the trophy of the NHL, and sports' largest trophy) as coach to the Devils, was buried today. This fact was commented on at his funeral today, where it was joked that this devout man could only win the Cup when coaching the "devils".

Like so many, Pat Burns died of cancer. He was eulogized as a devoted, family man. I only knew him as the yelling coach who was often pacing behind the bench:
(Source: The Associated Press)
Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen

One of Canada's many comedians, Leslie Nielsen was known (arguably) best for his role in The Naked Gun series. I quite enjoyed him in Men With Brooms, one of my favourite movies.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas is one month away

... And I got my first Christmas card yesterday.

It was in the mail, addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Hanna" in neat handwriting with no return address. I was perplexed. I opened it up ... and found it was from my parents! (My mom has very neat writing, with a couple distinctive letters (like K, B, T). Since none of these distinctive letters were in our name or address, I didn't recognize it right away! Silly me!

(I have hyphenated my name, but I go by my maiden name, which my parents thought was a very smart career move. However, they know I have no problem with being a Hanna socially. And given the context, I don't mind going by "Mrs.", although my mom knows I far prefer going by "Ms.")

Monday, November 22, 2010

Airport Screening continued

As a follow-up, apparently the pat-downs are quite ... thorough. Men are gettig "cupped"! Women with a prosthetesis (due to breast cancer, they have one shaped bra cup) must disrobe to prove it is actually a prosthesis! So ... it does sound more invasive.

My most recent "pat down" was in Timmins. I didn't set off the scanner, but I was selected for a random pat down. While my "chest" was "patted", it was respectful - above and below. Not bad, not invasive.

My dad always gets pat downs because he always sets off the scanner. He has a fake hip, and even if he were to travel with a doctor's note saying that (which he did at first but quickly gave up), they can't trust a doctor's note. So he gets the wand then a very thorough hip pat down. He leaves himself extra time (above the minimum recommendations) to ensure he makes his flight. He doesn't enjoy it, but he accepts it as a way of life.

Of course, we've all been behind the a-hole who flips out because his belt set off the scanner and now he's getting a pat down, and he's going to yell about how it's so ridiculous. I like being behind him, because it means I'm going to get ushered through by security very quickly while they deal with him!

But it'd be a different scenario if I was asked to disrobe to prove I had had a breast removed due to cancer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is the pat-down check to get on a plane reasonable?

An American traveller was selected for body scanning on the new scanner. He opted for the pat down, but was upset when told the employee's hand would go up his thighs until it reached his torso.

I understand radiation safety. In my opinion, the technology of the new body scanners looks like it should be safe. But I am cautious of the safety of new technologies. If given the option between the scanner and the pat down, I would probably select the pat down. In fact, I have been patted down when flying through airports before the scanners arrived, and more recently in an airport that didn't have the scanner. It was respectful, clearly just checking my body for items. She wanted to check around my bra, and even that was done in a respectful manner.

While I have no problem with the pat downs I have experienced, I might be a little more cautious in the case of this man's patdown:

The U.S. TSA is saying they think John Tyner went to the airport to cause problems. Mr Tyner says he videotaped "just in case" there were problems. While I find it odd that Mr Tyner's instinct was to videotape the event, I also find the pat down procedures odd.

What are your thoughts? Is this new security procedure too far?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Last year, I posted this, including the verse of Canada's most famous poem, and including pictures I took in Flanders Fields, Vimy Ridge, and Juno Beach.

But given we are currently in a conflict zone, Remembrance Day services have hit "closer to home" in the past decade.

In Canada, all fallen soldiers arrived in our air force base in Trenton, then go to a morgue in Toronto, before being released for burial. The stretch of highway between Trenton and Toronto has officially been named the Highway of Heroes.

Canadians gather over every bridge and along the highway for every repatriation ceremony.

Every single fallen solider is sent home in this manner. Every single one. Whether a 19-year-old private or a 40-year-old sergeant. They are all greeted by Canadians, who line up hours before the drive to get a good spot. Whether it's -30C (-22F) + the windchill ... or it's +30C (86F) plus the humidity ...

I recommend you watch the first minute of this 7 minute video.

To see how American broadcaster NBC describes this phenomenon, you can view it here:

To see how our Canadian musicians address this subject:

The video is nice, but the lyrics are truly touching.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Up close and personal with some skaters!

When I arrived Friday evening, I saw these two being interviewed:

Local DJ Candace Drover interviewed Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers. They both talked about how interviews are new to them, and they are both still nervous. Rudi said he thought Paige does a better job because he still says "um" too much in his interviews. I thought he sounded fine. They were a sweet couple. (At least, I think that's who it was. Google them and let me know if you think I'm right.)

When I arrived Saturday, this is what I saw:

Canada's Sweethearts! I wasn't about to wait for the nearly hour to meet them, but I was able to see them up (fairly) close: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Olympics champions in ice dance. They were originally supposed to complete, but she's currently recuperating from another injury. They still showed up and said hi to everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings has ended ...

Daylight savings time (DST) has ended, or as the British call it "Summer time", and the days are now much shorter here. I was driving home from my parents' this afternoon around 5:30pm, and it was quite dark. There was just a little bit of sunset remaining over the horizon.

To many Americans (particularly those who are significantly south), you may not realize how short and long our northern days vary through the seasons. In the summer, where I live (in southern Canada), we lose the last remnants of daylight just after 9:15 on the longest days. In the winter, we'll lose the last remnants of daylight by 5pm on the shortest days, which are about 6 weeks away. I was shocked by how much shorter and longer the days are just 150 km north of here. I lived in Arnprior for 1 year, and the sun set around 4pm in the winter, but lingered until 10pm in the summer. [In the northern communities, the summer sees 24-hour sunlight in the summer and 24-hour darkness in the winter.]

I lived in southern England for 4 months for the first 4 months of 2005, and was amazed at how much more northern this much more temperate climate is. It was dark shortly after 3pm, but instead of the subzero temperatures we experience in Canada, southern England didn't often dip much below freezing! Lucky them, getting the Gulf Stream (or North Atlantic Current) to warm them up!

Driving home, on the one hand I was depressed by the shortening days, but on the other hand, I was excited when I thought about the upcoming holiday season. I love December! So I might as well look forward to December for now ... because the short days aren't so pleasant in January and early February when there aren't the holidays to add a little sparkle and joy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Skate Canada: Friday afternoon

My mom and I arrived around 11am on Friday for the first two events. We had tickets to the ladies' short program and the pair's short program, starting at 11:30. The venue that hosted the competition, the K-Rock Centre doesn't have parking, so we went to the parking lots that usually have event parking.

The big signs said "Event Parking at 6:30". Otherwise, you have to go "feed the meter" every 2 hours.

Yeah, great planning.

We drove a couple blocks away and paid in a parking lot with all-day parking. We arrived just in time to get coffee, about 11:20. And proceeded to wait 10 minutes because they didn't have coffee ready.

Yeah, great planning.

We grabbed our coffee and sat down just as the first figure skater started. It was 11:30 in the morning, and the ladies were wearing the glittery dresses we usually see on tv at night. These sequins looked out of place in the morning. The crowd, I later found, was also just not into yet.

Still, it was a lovely afternoon. My mom and I spent the afternoon discussing and criticizing every move, sequence, spin and jump, judging if the music matched the program, if the skater matched the music, and our overall thoughts.

I wish I could move like these figure skaters:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en from the Great Pumpkin!

... Or at least the really cute Pumpkin.

She didn't like wearing the "hat" (in the 2nd picture) ... but she liked using it as a chew toy and a pillow!

Photos from Skate Canada to resume tomorrow ... Happy Hallowe'en! :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My week-end:

Here's what I'm doing this week-end:

I have all-event tickets to Skate Canada, being held in my , one of figure skating's Grand Prix events. If you watch on TV, maybe you'll see me! I'm in the 9th row of section 105. Where is that? Well ... I'm off to the right of the judges' stand. But occasionally, I think you can see me when they're doing certain angles on the jumps. I was trying to find video on-line to show you where I am, but no luck - not clearly, anyway. I have seen a flash that I'm a part of, but you can't tell I'm me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chile Miners Being Rescued!

As I type, I just watched the 30th miner "board" his capsule for rescue. The first arrived at the surface late last night (just after midnight in their time zone, just before midnight where I am). All day, updates from the rescue have come through. All the news (so far) has been good - no hitches or glitches, no one has become stuck in the tunnel, no panic attacks, and everyone is arriving faster than they'd hoped.

I get so excited with every rescue. Have you watched it? It's great!

Everyone has arrived healthier than expected, which is a huge testament to the work of healthcare professionals in preparing the miners.

In the interest of their health, all men briefly meet a limited number of pre-chosen family members, then are sent to a medical centre, and after being checked, flown to a hospital for 48 hours. How thorough!

Source: CBC

As I write this post, the 30th miner was hugging his wife.

Some of the men re-evaluated their priorities. One proposed to his girl-friend and another expressed a desire to marry his girl-friend. One is up to greet his "heavily pregnant" wife (BBC's words, not mine).

Interestingly, one miner asked both his wife and mistress to be the selected family members. From what the media is reporting, his wife did not know he had a mistress. She decided not to show up. Fortunately, this has been mentioned as a "sidebar" to most reports, letting the glory of the entire rescue take precendence. The most "thorough" story I found is here.

As I finish this post, the capsule is just arriving at the bottom of the mine in order to board the 31st miner.

I am so happy that this workplace incident is having a happy ending!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Lesson in ... Confusion

I am incredibly unimpressed with Bristol Palin. She seems like a nice girl, but she seems ignorant. Of course, given her age, naïvété isn't a surprise, but she's beyong naïve.

First, she's on "Dancing with the Stars" as a "teen activist". Her "activism", as far as I can tell, is speaking at expensive looking dinners about how abstinence is the way to go. (Wikipedia says she makes $15,000 to $30,000 per speaking appearance.) When I was 20, I'd have considered discussing the merits of abstinence for a well-paying public speaking gig!

I wonder what's the matter with teaching teens about safer sex, methods of contraception and methods to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI)? You can also teach abstinence as a moral and ethical decision.

I've never heard anyone say they decided to have sex because they were taught about the dangers of STIs and the difficulties of pregnancy and babies as a teenager.

And while she's preaching abstinence, she rips off Mark Ballas's shirt on DWTS. Huh?

Monday, October 11, 2010

I am thankful for ...

... My husband, my dog, my friends, my parents, my parents-in-law, my brothers, my brother-in-law. I am thankful my friends Jane and Matt have a healthy baby girl. I am thankful my friends Corry and Ryan have a little girl who is recovering from an awful respiratory infection. I am thankful for my grandparents. I am thankful for my best friends, Jocelyn, Crystal, Emily, and all my other friends. I am thankful for all my family. Even the nutty ones like my Aunt Janis.

I am thankful my mom is doing well in her long battle with cancer.

I am thankful my mother-in-law's heart attack (3 weeks ago) was minor and left no damage.

I am thankful for living in the "country", where we get to appreciate watching wild turkeys on an almost daily occurrence in the fall.
(Did you know that wild turkeys fly up trees to "sleep" at night? We just saw them do that this fall!)

Disclaimer: no turkeys were harmed in the making of my Thanksgiving dinner. I ate tofurkey! :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wade & his love of '80s hair bands

Wade is going to another '80s hair metal concert this week-end. This time it's Great White, who did a couple songs I know. I go to concerts when I know the band and really appreciate the music, but I don't go when it's a band I only kinda know. So Wade, his buddies "Seabrooke", "Dinger" and Ryan are going to stay in a posh motel called the Luau or something like that, to see Great White.

Seabrooke in particular is very excited about these concerts. His favourite band is Ratt so those four went to see them at the same venue earlier this year.

It's funny when these guys go to these concerts - Seabrooke and Dinger post constant updates on facebook. (Wade doesn't have a cell phone or a facebook account.) I know what they did, with pretty much hourly updates, if I just hang out and read facebook. I usually read a couple updates!

Seabrooke is so excited, he created this "video":

Municipal Elections

Across Ontario, we may municipal elections at the end of the month.

Reading through the local paper, one particular candidate of the region north of me had a name that sounds familiar:

Seriously? All I can think of is:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home Early

As I mentioned, I came home early. The reality is I got sick. I caught it from a coworker. Grr.

We were in far Northern Ontario as part of a clean-up operation. There are a number of cold war era satellite stations to guard us from the Russians all over our country. They used some chemicals that were thought to be okay then, but are now known to be bad. There were PCBs predominantly - in the transformer oils, in the capacitor fluids, and even in paint. There was also lead and mercury in the paint, asbestos in the insulation, and other things. We're there to oversee the environmental, health & safety of the clean-up, basically.

Currently, we're doing baseline monitoring. To determine the current levels of dust, PCBs, and other things, before work even starts. It was my coworker, a Ministry official, and some local First Nations: a housekeeper, a "monitor" (who reports our activities to the local First Nations group and looks out for the health & safety of the First Nations employees), the custodian (for lack of a better word - he kept the generator running and maintained a supply of firewood for our woodstove), and a bear monitor. Yes, we must employ a bear monitor. The First Nations employees lived in a barracks next door to us. My coworker, the Ministry official, and I lived in a 3 bedroom cabin without running water. At least there was an outhouse. And an oven.

It was ... interesting. Really! We didn't know what to expect, so I anticipated a mould-filled cabin with no outhouse. The cabin was clean. The outhouse was clean. The only downside is that it took 5 days for the Ministry official to figure out how to connect the fridge. He assumed it wasn't working, but once he read the manual (on day 5), he realized he just had to flip some switch to get it to work. In the meantime, we could NOT store our food outside, so we had it in coolers. Some of it went bad, but we also had lots of dehydrated foods (Side Kicks) and canned foods (soups), too.

In case you didn't know, putting food outside would attract bears. And these aren't just any bears - they're polar bears.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Back in May, I won this pitcher from Rachel. I have taken pictures of it in use, but I can't find my camera right now. I'll post them another day when I find it and I post on a couple of our patio parties.

Here are the claims: This 1-quart super-durable pitcher won't scratch, and is dishwasher safe. Because of how its made, it will keep its contents either warmer or cooler longer than any other pitchers - which makes it great for my favorite drink, margaritas!! This is such a cute pitcher, it would be great for display even when you're not using it.

I ordered the pitcher in the blue. It only took around 2 weeks to arrive, which surprised me since it was being shipped to me in Canada. That's a fast delivery!

The pitcher is super cute! I was a little skeptical - how can a PITCHER keep your drinks extra cool and extra warm?

In the summer, I tried it out with cold drinks several times. I have to say, it works like a charm. I've used it to keep white wine chilled for longer, to serve lemonade, punch, and even plain ol' water. I found that it kept the drinks cooler than my other pitchers. I have 2 other pitchers, and there were a couple occasions where I had enough people over that I had different drinks in three pitchers at onceThere was one big downside to this pitcher. It only held 1 quart (which is about 1.5 L or 6 cups). Not enough when you have guests over!

In late August, I also decided to test out its ability to keep warm drinks warm. I brewed hot tea using the pitcher as a tea pot. Seriously. I did in mostly on a whim to test out the claim! And, I was surprised - it actually worked. It kept the tea pretty warm - almost as warm as a proper tea pot. Seriously!

So, if anyone needs a pitcher, seriously consider this pitcher from CSN. If you're going to use it to serve many people, consider getting two. :)

Who doesn't love a contest?

Who doesn't love a contest? :)

Oh, I'm back from my 3 1/2 weeks away for work after 1 1/2 weeks. I'll post on that another time, as well as my thoughts on Northern Ontario and Polar Bear Provincial Park (no, I didn't see any polar bears).

But back to the contest.

My friend, Jane, who blogs about the two things nearest and dearest things, her son Noah who left this world far too soon, and her daughter Charlotte, who's almost 11 months old. I've known Jane since we were in grade 7 or 8, but I really got to know her in high school. Jane is a lovely woman who married her high school sweetheart. In honour of her 50th follower, she is having a fun contest from Small Bird Studio.

Go visit either of Jane's blogs (the contest is here) and have a look at her contest! :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I'll be wishing for ...

In honour of my impending absence to an area not on the map (literally), I will post on things I know I will wish I have!

Crisp sheets and a soft duvet:

A luxurious bath:

(I wish I had this bath tub!)

A nice place to curl up and read:

Seeing these images, I'm also realizing just how serene an off-white decor can be!

Tell me: what comfort items would you pack if you were me?

Long underwear?

I've been swamped at work. Just so stressed. I work for a consulting company, and about a month ago we won our largest contract so far. It's $5 million over 2.5 years. Well, we're only operational for certain months - October and November this year, and six months next year and the year after. I'm getting part of the occupational aspect under way, and I'll be there for the first 3 weeks. At first, I won't have internet access. When internet is hooked up, it'll only be in our office. I'll be living a facility between a dorm and camp - something like 4 beds to a room, but we won't have total occupancy. Also, I'll be the only girl for a while, then there will be 2 girls, and just before I leave, 3 girls. I'm not looking forward to losing internet. I'm not sure what to think of aspects of it. The site is remote - so remote that the nearest town isn't on google maps or mapquest! The catering facility may not cater to vegetarianism. I am not vegetarian, but for the purposes of this camp, I'm ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I eat seafood and fish, but they won't be serving those options. Just beef and pork, with occasional chicken.

I go up next Tuesday or Wednesday - details are still being sorted out. If I can get my act together between now and then, in addition to shopping for work clothes (coveralls and heavy duty jeans and long underwear and wool socks) and finding all my PPE (yay hard hats) and packing for 3 1/2 weeks, including camping for 1 week, I might try to do some posting ahead of time.

But I won't make promises!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My week

My as-of-yet unpublished resolution is to post three times a week, ideally Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. I was okay with this resolution last week, but I failed this week. Monday was Labour Day, so I figured I'd just post on Tuesday instead.

Then Tuesday, on my way home from work, I decided to test my car's off-roading abilities.

Not really. Really, I saw a deer, swerved, and ended in a swamp. The road to my house goes through a swamp, and there's no shoulder. If you get close to the edge, the edge can give way. (Safe, right? I guess that's a risk that is taken when a road is built through a swamp.) We haven't even been in this house 11 months, and I'm the third car to end up in the swamp. Were the others, like me, just close to the edge? Were they inebriated? Was it due to bad weather? I don't know what caused the other 2 cars to end up in the swamp. But one of the many passers-by (who knows Wade) informed me his brother did the same thing, with the same result, a couple years ago.

I don't really remember what happened. All of a sudden, I was shocked by mud splashed on the windshield, and I realize my car was 2-1/2 feet deep in mud. My air bag didn't deploy, which I suspect was beccause I wasn't going that fast - maybe 60 km/h (~35 mph) when I went off - and the mud slowed me gradually to stop. At some point before I realized what was happening, I had a sensation that the car was about to roll sideways, but then I bumped a tree and I was righted. The tree caused some damage to the bumper & fender.

About 2 minutes after it happened, a lovely couple named Troy & Amanda stopped and helped me. They helped me to climb out through the windows because I was so deep in the mud. This couple was on their way to take their daughter to riding lessons, but they insisted on waiting with me until my husband arrived. I was so confused, and Amanda assured me it was normal. She was in an accident a couple years ago, and she doesn't remember it. She thinks that the emotional trauma makes it hard to rememeber the accident. I think that makes sense.

In fact, every passerby stopped to offer their help. As disoriented as I was, it was very heart-warming.

Wade, his dad & brother showed up with a big truck, but they quickly realized we'd need a tow truck. Surprisingly, the car is undamaged. I had a safety inspection yesterday, and it's fine! I had to get 2 tires - 1 tire was damaged, but it/s not usually advisable to get 1 new tire. Luckily, these tires were getting worn and I was going to have to replace them in the next 6 months. If you can call that lucky. I have to get the fender and bumper fixed. I have one estimate ($1700) and I'm going to get a second from a company my dad swears by - both for price and quality. After I get it fixed, I have to get it cleaned. It smells like swamp! I'm undecided if I'll claim it through insurance - I'll call my agent (who's a family friend) and ask if it's worth it to claim it (and have my rates go up) or just pay it myself and keep my relatively low rates.

I'm okay. I've had some back aches. Some have been bad, but most are bearable. My cheek bone was tender, which makes me wonder if I bumped my cheek on the steering wheel. I really don't remember.

And I've been sick all week. I had a minor cold last week, but now it's miserable. My mom says that a physical trauma weakens your immune system, and an emotional trauma weakens your immune system, and I had both a physical and emotional trauma. I'm still shook up, although I am doing much better. But I have a horrible sinusitis.

I know I'm lucky. So lucky.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another skin care myth

I thought this was neat. You know "age spots", aka "liver spots"? Your mom might have them. Or maybe you do? No biggie ... but they're not actually age spots. They're sun exposure spots.

Again, from Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop says:

Brown, freckle-like skin discolorations are not a result of age; they are the result of years of unprotected sun exposure (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2007, pages 195 -202; Dermatology Nursing, October 2004, pages 401 -413; and Age and Ageing, March 2006, pages 110 -115). You can demonstrate this yourself: just compare the skin on the parts of your body that haven't seen the sun (like your backside or the inner part of your arm) with skin on the parts of your body that see the sun on a regular basis. I'll bet that the parts of your body that don't the see sun will have minimal to no skin discolorations. And keep in mind that the bad rays of the sun also come through windows!

The number of skin-care products claiming they can make skin whiter or lighter more often than not contain no ingredient that can have any significant, or even a minor, impact on melanin production (melanin is the brown pigment in skin). (One of the products that can lighten skin is hydroquinone.) In addition, even when the product does contain an ingredient that can have an effect, it usually contains such a small amount that it won't help at all. Basically, there is no comparison between the effects (or non-effects) of using one of these products and using a sunscreen plus a product containing hydroquinone. (Sources: Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, May-June 2008, pages 107 -113; Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, April 2008, pages 20 -24; Experimental Dermatology, August 2005, pages 601 -608; Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, December 2005, pages 2368 -2373; International Journal of Dermatology, August 2004, pages 604 -607; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, July -August 2004, pages 377 -381; Facial and Plastic Surgery, February 2004, pages 3 -9; Dermatologic Surgery, March 2004, pages 385 -388; and Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, March 2005, pages 272 -276).

I found this interesting - I thought age spots were caused by age. Who knew?

P.S. I promised this for Friday, but I forgot to post it. It's been in my drafts for a few days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


As the promised follow-up to my post on Monday, which was a much overdue follow-up to my gardening post back in May, here's what some of my garden looks like now.

I have about half the marigolds I had when I killed them (as I mentioned on Monday) by using a "safe for flower beds" weed treatment. As you can see, some of them are full and some are kinda puny and sad. This is about half the marigolds prior to using the "safe" treatment, and they were ALL full and wonderfulin July. So imagine double the marigolds with more fullness, and you'll have an idea of how great the marigolds were doing:

Where some of the marigolds were completely dead, I put these late season chrysanthemums:

I liked the lavender so much that I bought two more! The bottom lavender (the smallest) looks droopy because I accidentally over-watered it last night. I'll leave it alone the next few days, so that should help.

I also got another rosemary - and they're both doing well. Behind the rosemary, you can see the pepper mint. I've already cut LOTS off the mint - it's thriving!

I added some flowers in June, which I have not posted pictures of - some hanging plants (begonias and petunias), two hibiscus plants, two English (David Austin) roses and more peonies. My petunias) (not planted until later in June, which I haven't posted about) and hydrangeas (originally posted) look pretty sad - we've had a heat wave the past week, so may things that were blooming are wilting. I'll post them next week once we've had a little bit of rain.

Oh and for the cuteness factor, here's a picture of Princess I took tonight:

She's saying "oh hi, do you want to play? I love to play! And get belly rubs. Belly rubs are great!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

6 Myths and Facts about Acne and Skincare

My super amazing "blog twin" Carly posted a great article on adult acne. I suggest you read it here.

Carly and I are both in our late 20s, both got married in June 2009, and have (in my opinion) very similar personalities and opinions. In spite of the fact we've never met! We've heard it all. (Or at least I have!) We're supposed to be over acne by now. Acne's caused by poor eating. Just wash your wash more often. Use more expensive products. Get facials regualarly.

Hmm ...

When it comes to skin care, I defer to Paula Begoun. She's the
Cosmetics Cop. I discovered one of her books about 6 years ago when I got Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me. This book talks about common ingredients in skin care and make-up, what works, what to avoid, and then proceeds to review every. single. product. on the market at the time of printing of the book. She reviews Dove, Olay, Revlon, St. Ives, Perricone MD, Boots, Clinique, Neutrogena, Lancome, Occitane, Quo, brands I've never heard of and brands I can't afford. On her website, she posts just some of the reviews, but basically everything is reviewed in her book.

I love her website and I subscribe to her free emails. Yes, she sells her own products, which she admits can appear as a conflict of interest. But she also reviews other products, citing peer-reviewed scientific literature for the basis of the reviews. (We science, university types start to drool and get excited when we hear "peer-reviewed".) She has pages devoted to topics (like
acne and sun exposure) where she talks about that concern, how to treat it, and good products (from the drug store!) to use.

In response to Carly's post on acne, I wrote two very long comments. I thought I'd add more here. This is taken (without permission - sorry Ms. Begoun) from Paula Begoun's website.

6 Myths about Acne

Myth #1: You should choose skin-care products based on your age.

Fact: Many products on the market claim to be designed for a specific age group, especially for "mature" women; mature usually refers to women over 50. Before you buy into any of these arbitrary age divisions, ask yourself why the over-50 group is always lumped together? According to this logic, someone who is 45 shouldn't be using the same products as someone who is 50 (only 5 years older), but someone who is 80 should be using the same products as someone who is 50? To clear up the confusion what you need to know is that skin has different needs based on skin type, not based on age. Your skin-care routine depends on how dry, sun-damaged, oily, sensitive, thin, blemished, or normal your skin is, all of which have nothing to do with age. Then there are the issues of skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, allergies, and other skin disorders, which again, have nothing to do with age. What everyone needs to do is protect the outer barrier of their skin in exactly the same way: avoid unnecessary direct sun exposure (sun protection!), don't smoke, don't irritate your skin, and do use state-of-the-art skin-care products loaded with antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients (Sources: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2007, pages 409-410; and Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology, April 2007, pages 343-357).

Myth #2: Products labeled as "hypoallergenic" are better for sensitive skin. And “Dermatologist tested” means it’s safe.

Fact: "Hypoallergenic" is little more than a nonsense word. It is nothing more than an advertising contrivance in the world of cosmetics meant to imply that a product is unlikely or less likely to cause allergic reactions and therefore is better for sensitive or problem skin. (Sources:; and Ostomy and Wound Management, March 2003, pages 20 -21).

Fact: You absolutely should not rely on the "dermatologist tested" claim any more than you should rely on the appearance of a doctor's name on a product's label to indicate you are getting a superior (or "medical-grade") formulation.

Myth #3: Women outgrow acne; you're not supposed to break out once you reach your 20s and beyond!

Fact: If only that were true, my skin-care struggles in life would have been very different. In fact, women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and even 50s can have acne just like teenagers, and the treatment principles remain the same. Not everyone who has acne as a teenager will grow out of it, and even if you had clear skin as a teenager, there's no guarantee that you won't get acne later in life, perhaps during menopause. You can blame this often-maddening inconsistency on hormones! What is true is that men can outgrow acne, because after puberty men's hormone levels level out, while women's hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lifetime, which is why many women experience breakouts around their menstrual cycle (Sources: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2004, pages 129-138; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, May 2006, pages 281-290; International Journal of Dermatology, November 2007, pages 1188-1191).

Myth #4: Acne is caused by eating the wrong foods.

Fact: This is both true and false. The traditional foods thought to cause acne, such as chocolate and greasy foods, have no effect on acne, and there is no research indicating otherwise. However, there is the potential that individual dietary allergic reactions can trigger acne, such as eating foods that contain iodine, like shellfish, although there is an ongoing controversy about that. A bit more conclusive is new research showing that milk, especially skim milk, can increase the risk of acne. The same may be true for a diet high in carbohydrates; a high glycemic load can increase breakouts, while a low glycemic load can reduce their occurrence. Experimenting for a few months to see which of these food groups either hurt or help your skin is worth the effort (Sources: Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, June 2008, pages 718-726; Dermatologic Therapy, March-April 2008, pages 86-95; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2008, pages 787-793; and Dermatology Online Journal, May 30, 2006).

Myth #5: If you clean your face better you can clear up your acne.

Over-cleaning your face can actually make matters worse. Acne is caused primarily by hormonal fluctuations that affect the oil gland, creating an environment where acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) can flourish. Don't confuse scrubbing or "deep cleaning" with helping acne, because it absolutely doesn't. Over-cleansing your face triggers inflammation that actually makes acne worse. What really helps breakouts is using a gentle cleanser so you don't damage your skin's outer barrier or create inflammation (both of which hinder your skin's ability to heal and fight bacteria) and using gentle exfoliation. An effective exfoliating product that contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid can make all the difference in reducing acne (Sources: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology Venereology, May 2008, pages 629 -631; Expert Opinion in Pharmacotherapy, April 2008, pages 955-971; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2007, pages 59-65; Cutis, July 2006, Supplemental, pages 34-40; and Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2006, pages 296-302).

Myth #6: Stress causes acne

Generally, it is believed that stress can trigger acne, but no one is exactly sure how that works, and there is conflicting research. While it never hurts to reduce angst and worry in your life, stress as a causative factor for acne is hard to pinpoint. Plus, the way to treat acne doesn't change because of the stressors in your life (Sources: European Journal of Dermatology, July-August, pages 412-415; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2004, pages 129-138; Archives of Dermatologic Research, July 2008, pages 311-316; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, May 2006, pages 281-290).

On Friday, I will post what I use as well as discuss some of Paula Begoun's most highly recommended products. Just for fun.

Oh, and I don't use Paula Begoun's products. Over the border shipping from the U.S. is a hastle. But that's okay because she reviews other products. Typically, I try to choose products that get her "happy face" along with a "check mark", indicating the product is the best you can get.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How does my garden grow? Ant and Mosquito Repelling Plants

Apparently, I'm having better luck uploading photos ... if I have patience. I started to post about my garden in May, but I didn't finish. (Click here to see what I posted back in May).

Here are some more pictures from my garden back in late-May:
Lavender, a wonderful smelling plant that is a natural mosquito repellant:

I bought more lavender, so I'll show you pictures of all my lavender!

Rosemary, another wonderfully smelling mosquito repellant:

I also bought more rosemary. I put it in the top of a candle lantern candle holder, and the smell of the semi-burning rosemary appears to help repel mosquitoes.

Irises (in front), marigolds, silver leafy thing, more marigolds, and geraniums (in the back):

Mint (pepper mint, to be exact), a natural mosquito repellant and yummy herb:

On Wednesday, I'll post my garden now.

Marigolds are supposed to repel ants. It's hard to confirm they're working, but they aren't hurting and I enjoy them. We had an ant problem in the spring, but we used an exterminator to get rid of them (they were that bad). Then I planted marigolds, and they haven't come back inside. That could be due to the exterminator or the marigolds or both. The exterminator said that nature is the source of their ant poison - chrysanthemums, in particular, but there are many plants in nature that repel or even kill ants. He said it was smart to plant the marigolds to try whatever natural methods to repel the ants. (We also dug up these massive cedar bushes out front that attract ants.)

Geraniums are supposed to repel mosquitoes. We have a ton of mosquitoes at dusk, so I don't know if a few geranium plants will make a difference. I enjoy the geraniums, so I think they're worth it. We've also planted a bat house to try to attract a bat to the area. More on that another time.

The silver leafy thingy is supposed to attract butterflies (and thus repel mosquitoes). We have a ton of milkweed on the back of our property, and so we have a ton of the endangered monarch butterflies floating around our property, including on the silver leafy thing. We have little monarchs and big monarchs, monarchs of all sizes all over, including on the silver leafy thing and just floating by!

My marigolds were thriving. I was weeding them every day, and found a weed spray that is "safe in flower beds". You can guess where this is going - only about half of the marigolds lived, and some of them are still dying. I'll post a picture of the marigolds I have left so you can get an idea of how they might have been thriving! Half my geraniums died, too, and one of the silvery leaf things doesn't look so good. I pulled up the dead marigolds and moved them all to the right side of the bed (they were distributed on both the right and left side before). On the left side, I've recently planted fall chrysanthemums to fill out the flower bed. It was making me really sad when I saw the empty areas where thriving marigolds had been, so having the mums there is nice.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art ... and everyday life and images that become your own art

There are three things on my mind lately. The first is decorating. We are still in the process of decorating our home. I have eclective tastes and often love so many "looks" that I find it hard to pinpoint what I like best. I enjoy watching my tastes develop (if that doesn't sound too conceited) as I decide what I truly want to showcase in my own home.

The second is fashion. I've gained some weight in the past few months (and no, I'm not pregnant - just eating poorly!) and many of my pants are very tight (though not all). Sigh. I am torn between buying a bunch of new clothing in the meantime or throwing myself (back) into exercise. It's not that I don't exercise, it's that recently I have been doing less aerobics and cardio, but doing more yoga and pilates.

The third thing is the impending end of summer. I enjoy the fall, the rich colours, the warm sweaters and the crisp nights. But I love the summer.

In honour of all three things on my mind, here are some highlights stolen from some of my favourite blogs:

Alternative Wife, where Dawn gives me a dose of fashion and art:

(Sources: Photo on the left and Photo on the right)

Cyd at The Sweetest Occasion, who loves stationery, paper products (and cotton and bamboo alternatives) and, of course, event planning, always has gorgeous images from birthday parties, bridal showers, and stationery shows:

(Sources: on the left or top and on the right or bottom) (depending on your browser)

Last, but not least, Rachel is the Girl Learning Along the Way, whose posts are filled with a mix of realistic and fantasy decorating advice:

Source: on the left and on the right)