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Smells Like a Beach

5 Jun

I can’t believe it’s June already. And like you, I can’t believe that though it’s technically summer, it’s still raining. Accuweather predicts that in the next 15 days, 11 will have some form of precipitation. *sigh* There goes half of June. With that said, as a seasoned Vancouverite, I just shrug my shoulders, make sure I’m properly layered for the day and pack an umbrella.

But don’t despair! Summer will come soon – it has to eventually. All I’m doing is mentally and physically preparing for it because when it hits, I will want to enjoy every moment of it. How I’m physically prepping for summer? Getting highlights, a layered cut for those easygoing waves, putting on a touch of bronzer everyday and starting the self-tan process. How I’m mentally preparing for summer? By smelling it.

As I get older, it’s less important for me to smell good than it is for the fragrance to conjure up a mood,  invoke a feeling, rekindle a memory or transport me somewhere other than here. I wear Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil on those cold rainy days because it adds a warmth to the dampness, prefer Carriere by Gendarme for those morning meetings and dab on Comme des Garcons Kyoto as it reminds me of my grandfather. But I’m digressing… again.

During the summer, I don’t let Coppertone do the talking, I get my fragrance to. Here are my picks for summer, or for now if you want to sniff, close your eyes and dream of sunny days to come.

Estee Lauder Azuree from Tom Ford Collection (fragrance and body oil) – when this launched in 2006, the perfume forums went crazy, it instantaneously sold out, there were waiting lists at all the department stores, eBay was selling at ridiculous prices and I stocked up like a mad woman. Why? It wasn’t because it was by the sexy Tom Ford, or because it was in stylish retro turquoise/gold packaging, or that it was limited edition… it was because it smelled like “white sand beaches, azure waters and sultry afternoons that go on forever.” It didn’t smell like the beaches of Miami or Mexico, but of beautiful, tanned people without a care in the world sunning in St. Tropez or the Cote d’Azur. It’s my staple fragrance for summer because the fragrance is sophisticated and subtle enough for work, and layered with the body oil it’s sexy enough for play. In 2008 it was reincarnated as Bronze Goddess (without Tom Ford), which it still remains today, but was reformulated with less Tahitian gardenia and more coconut.

Beach by Bobbi Brown – this is a more sophisticated beach scent that’s more Atlantic East Coast than West Coast or anything tropical. Think sea and salty – the Hamptons or Nights in Rodanthe.

At the Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume is Bobbi Brown’s Beach + (more) Coppertone.

Miami Glow by Jennifer Lopez – I would never admit  that I own a JLo fragrance, but I have a soft spot for this one. It’s perfect for those really hot days/nights when you’re drinking sangria on the patio at Havanas with your girlfriends, smokin’ a cuban or flirting with a hot boy toy. It’s exactly what the name implies: Miami = coconut + suntan lotion + fruity drink with a cocktail umbrella. Wear it anytime or anywhere else, and you’d be deemed a social and olfactory menace. Yes, it’s that offensive. Sadly, it’s been discontinued but you can still find a few bottles at Shoppers Drug Mart and other drugstores.


If you’re interested in reading more about scents and places, you’d like this article by Chandler Burr. He has also written about the conceptualization and development of Hermes Jardin sur le Nil for the New Yorker, and recently published the ‘must have’ list of salty/beachy/ocean scents for summer. If you want to get away, Elle magazine has a great perfume guide for travelling around the world without leaving your desk.

Why the only newspaper I will ever read…

10 May

is the New York Times, moreover, the MASSIVE Sunday Edition that will seriously take a whole Sunday to read. The other news media outlet I read to catch up on mundane local news is 24 Hours because it’s no fuss, compact, and free.

I love the New York Times, as well as New York Magazine. Not because it’s about New York (oh it’s so much more than that), but because it is SO well written, so intelligent and so interesting. If I could take 5 items with me to a deserted island, it would be moisturizer w/sunscreen, designer sunglasses, lipbalm w/spf, laptop w/internet connection and a subscription to the Sunday Edition.  Ok, so I kinda cheated by combining things.

So I ventured out early last Sunday to buy it. As of 10am, 2 places were sold out. When finally I got my grubby little hands on the 2.25″ thick paper, I was appalled to hand over $10.00 CDN. With a sigh I realized that I would have to treasure this moment because I will never buy this in print again, and vowed to read EVERY last word from ads to fine print.

As of today, I’m still reading it.

But it’s not about news. News is pretty much already old once it’s printed – it’s the opinions and the articles that don’t go stale. I’d buy it just for NYT Magazine and the Style mag- those are going on the coffee table.

Take this A-HA! moment I had while reading this interview with Charlaine Harris, author of True Blood:

Why do you think vampires are omnipresent in popular culture?
People are really interested in the concept of eternal youth in this plastic-surgery culture. Vampires never die.


Now that was worth my $10.

And I haven’t even started on the infamous crossword yet. If you like the NYT sunday crossword, you’ll like Wordplay, a movie that focuses on the man most associated with crossword puzzles, New York Times puzzle editor and NPR puzzle-master Will Shortz.

So my years of suffering have been justified!

27 Apr

Seasonal Allergies, Foods, and Itchy Mouths

About 20 percent of the population suffers from the itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and sinus congestion that accompany seasonal allergies. Of those people, 25 percent also suffer from oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Symptoms include uncomfortable itchiness, tingling, or swelling in the mouth, lips, or throat when consuming certain fruits, vegetables, or nuts. The proteins in the pollens the person is allergic to are so similar to the proteins in certain types of foods, and this similarity creates the OAS reaction. Kind of creates a different meaning to “cross pollination.” The body recognizes those food proteins as an allergen, and as soon as the person eats the offending food, it triggers their sensitive immune system to release chemicals that cause cells in the mouth and throat to swell. These reactions, called cross reactions, are usually mild and last for 10 to 30 minutes. Only fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts can cause OAS reactions. Eating canned, cooked, dried, or frozen versions of those same foods usually cause no reaction. Also, just so you know, OAS is different than a nut allergy. In order for a person to have OAS, they must have an allergy to pollen.

Are you curious to know which foods are connected to which allergens? Then read more.

Note: Cross reactions may occur with some or all of the foods listed in the right-hand column.

Type of Allergy Foods That May Cause Cross Reactions
Birch Tree pollen Almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, lychee fruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmon, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, wheat, zucchini, walnuts
Grass pollen Celery, watermelon, oranges, peaches, tomatoes
Ragweed pollen Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew), gourd family (cucumber, zucchini and squash), chamomile, echinacea, sunflower seeds, zucchini
Alder pollen Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
Mugwort pollen Celery, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers

Just because you have an allergy to one of the pollens listed above, does not mean you’ll automatically have a reaction to the foods listed to the right. If you’ve been noticing swelling, itching, or tingling in your mouth or throat, it’s best to get tested by an allergist.


Revolution Health

oral-allergy-chart in pdf

Is it still safe for me to eat this?

6 Apr

Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide to food, beverages etc.  @ Still Tasty

How to Get a Bikini Body

12 Nov

From Vancouver celebrity fitness trainer, Anna Wong.

The Fast Track to a Hot Bikini Body

Summer is finally here! Are you ready to bare those arms and legs with confidence, even fit into a bikini for the beach? This is the time of year when everybody wants to look and feel good but some of us may not be quite ready. Don’t you wish there were ways to help you get into shape fast? When Hollywood actress and MAXIM cover girl Emmanuelle Vaugier flies into Vancouver to do a project, we often have very little time to whip her into the tip top shape required for her film roles and photo shoots. Sometimes we have as much as a week, or even as a little as 24 hours, to do our magic. To make the most of our time, I’ve used a combination of techniques that have proven to be effective and have given us the results that we want fast. Listed below are proven techniques that will put you on the fast track to achieving the hot bikini body that you’ve always wanted NOW!


Drink Up!

Water is a natural diuretic. To avoid being bloated, drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Water regulates the body and flushes out toxins, salts and stored water. Not drinking enough water makes your body retain whatever moisture it gets. A great way to drink water is to add lemon. One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon with water is that it serves as a great weight loss remedy.

Eat Little and Eat Often!

Small frequent meals 3-4 hours throughout the day helps to fuel the body regularly and keep you from overeating. A good way to ensure that you’re eating just enough and not more is to eat only until you are 80 percent full.

Cut Out The Sugar

Digesting sugar throws your body’s blood sugar levels off balance, leaving you craving for more. This reaction also increases your appetite. Avoid it altogether! Sugar comes in many forms from sweet things to starches including things like: juice, ice cream, soda pop, muffins, rice, and even potatoes! Aspartame is also a type to avoid. Although aspartame is lower in calories than sugar, it still spikes your insulin levels. Instead, try the natural herb stevia. Stevia is sweet but it doesn’t disturb your blood sugar levels like sugar or aspartame does.

Drop the Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are extra calories that your body does not need. It also increases your appetite and weight as well as age you. If you want a body fit for the gym, you need a person fit for the gym. Alcohol can leave you unmotivated, distracted, and lethargic. Avoid ALL alcohol!

Eat Your Fruits Wisely

Fruits are better eaten alone and on an empty stomach. When trying to achieve a lean look, limit yourself to 1/2 cup of fruit per serving, allowing 1-2 servings per day. The best choices are fruits with less sugar content like apple, pears, strawberries and blueberries. Avoid grapes, dried fruits and juice. Another note, be sure to eat your fruits and not drink them. Drinking juice, whether it be carrot or beet juice, does provide nutrients to the body, however, it gives you more calories and sugar than if you eat your fruit whole.

Eat Your Vegetables

Choose to eat a variety of fresh vegetables raw or lightly cooked. Vegetables that are canned, frozen or over-cooked are robbed of its vitamins and minerals, flavor and texture. Salads, stir fries or steamed or grilled vegetables are healthy low-fat choices. To avoid extra calories and fat, hold back on adding heavy sauces or using high-fat cooking methods such as frying to prepare your vegetables.

Pick Complex Carbohydrates

Stay away from refined carbohydrates like white-flour products, breads, donuts, chips, crackers, pastries, pizza, pasta, biscuits, muffins, etc. They are highly processed and have been stripped of most of their vitamin and mineral content. They also add inches to the waistline. Instead, choose organic varieties of unrefined complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas and millet.

Choose Lean Protein Sources

Avoid red meats, pork, ham, lamb, and processed meats like cold cuts, pepperoni and sausages. These are all high in calories and fat. Instead, choose lean meats like fish, poultry and eggs. Be sure to eat organic, free-range, grass fed, hormone-and antibiotic-free proteins. Examples of good protein sources for vegetarians are almonds and seeds. Nuts and seeds can be high in calories and fat. As a general guideline, have no more than 12 almonds or 2 tablespoon of seeds per serving.

Don’t Eat Late

Calories from late night meals don’t get the chance to be burned away and are, instead, stored as fat. Remember to think of your meals as fuel for your daily activities. Your body requires very little fuel to dream, breathe, and sleep. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid eating after 8pm.

Avoid the Bloat

Know your body and its reaction to foods. By avoiding the foods that you may have an allergy or sensitivity to, you can avoid the chance being bloated. Examples of the most common food allergens are wheat, dairy, gluten and soy.

Choose Good Fats

Fat is an important contributor to good health. However, saturated fat is bad for health as it is a major cause of weight gain and is also proven to clog arteries and cause heart disease and stroke. Avoid saturated fats like hydrogenated fats or trans-fats such as lard, palm oil, margarine, biscuits, pies and pastries. Unsaturated fat is a healthier alternative to saturated fat and can be found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackeral and vegetable oils such as sesame, sunflower and olive.

Stay Away From Fast Foods

Fast foods are cheap and easy for a reason; they are made from unhealthy, low-quality ingredients that are high in calories and fat. While they may seem quick and convenient, consider how much energy you’ll need to use up on a cardio machine to burn it all completely. Fast food doesn’t seem so quick or convenient anymore, does it? If you want to get in shape fast, stay away from foods like burgers, hot dogs, burritos, and buttered popcorn.

Limit Your Salt Intake

Adding more salt in your eating can cause water retention. Avoid high sodium foods like frozen entrees, canned soups, chips and fast foods. Many people use salt because they need more flavor. A better way to achieve flavor is to use ingredients like lemon, a variety of fresh and natural herbs, garlic, ginger and onions.

Don’t Eat Fried or Overcooked Foods

Foods that are fried and overcooked have lost their nutrient value and are high in saturated fats. Examples of fried foods are fish and chips, fried chicken, chicken wings and spring rolls.

Mix Cardio and Weights Into One Session

Cardio training helps to burn calories and rid the flab while weight training helps to firm your muscles and increase your metabolism. For best results, mix the both into your training session. To achieve long lean muscles, work with lighter weights and higher reps. (Example: 1-3 sets of 12-25 reps with 30-60 sec rest between sets) Rather than sitting in between your sets, fit in 30-60 second bouts of jogging, jumping, hopping, doing steps or skipping rope in between each set of weight-training exercise. By also challenging your heart and lungs throughout your workout, you will increase your physical effort and burn a ton of calories.

Mix Upper and Lower Body Exercises

By alternating upper and lower body exercises or performing combination exercises that are movements of the upper and lower body all-in-one exercise (ex. biceps curl with squats), more muscles will be worked, your efforts would be increased and your calories burned would be higher.


To look slimmer and taller immediately, STRETCH! Stretching elongates the muscle and releases tension to give your body a lengthened look. Stretch your chest, sides, hip flexors, hamstrings and lower back. These areas are the most common areas of tightness for most people. Stretching the tight muscles in your body will balance your body for better posture which would keep you standing taller and naturally looking leaner. For a general guideline on stretching, stretch for 2-7 days per week. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds. Perform 1-3 sets for each muscle group. Stretch to the point of mild tension, not pain, and progress once the muscle relaxes. Breathe properly by inhaling and exhaling throughout your stretch.

Every month Anna Wong, personal fitness trainer to the stars, will be writing a column for Asiance Magazine. This column is dedicated to your questions and concerns in health and fitness. Your suggestions and requests are welcome. This column is for you so your feedback is important. To contact Anna, email her at

The “Grape diet” actually exists!

29 Oct

Well…. for detox…
Grapes constitute one of the main detoxifying foods, ideal to carry out cures where they are the only food eaten. It is important to carry out this cure when this fruit is in its biggest abundance, that is to say at the end of summer and until mid autumn. This diet can be carried out exclusively with grape in a quantity that can oscillate from 2 to 3 kilos a day or to combine it with other vegetables or fruits. We can decide to eat it during dinner, breakfast or in both meals at the same time. By practicing this diet it is possible to lose the superfluous weight, at the same time that our organism is purified.. Therefore this diet is not only recommended to obese people but to all those who need a special depurative diet: people affected by rheumatic illnesses such as gout or arthritis; people with kidney problems that need help to eliminate toxins or those with problems in the circulatory system: hypertension, arteriosclerosis or bad circulation in general. All of them will benefit from this treatment. The reason of all this has to be attributed fundamentally to its wealth in potassium (especially in raisins) that controls the balance of the liquids in the organism, and also to its low levels of sodium. ( In fresh grapes) . Equally the presence of vitamin B that intervenes in the metabolism of the fats and carbohydrates.

It is necessary to consider the grape an alkalizer, reason why it purifies the blood. Its consumption can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Numerous studies have been carried out to check in which way the presence of tannins and caffeic acid, besides constituting stupendous bactericides, could reduce the probabilities of acquiring this illness. The extract of grape seeds prevents the appearance of some cancers, as breast, prostate or colon cancers. The main component responsible for this property is a flavonoid that appears in the skin of black grapes or in black wine. This component is called resveratrol.

On the other hand, if we eat the whole grape, without discarding the skin, this help to clean our bowels, increasing the fecal matter and preventing constipation. In the same way, grapes have laxative properties.

For their wealth in sugars and carbohydrates, grapes constitute a source of natural energy for those that need to do an extra effort as sportsmen, students, children in time of growth or people with low sugar levels in their blood. This aspect is reinforced when we consume grape raisins, in which case its content in carbohydrates and calories is three times higher than when we eat them fresh.

The importance of the fermented grape or wine has been valued in the treatment of cholesterol. The presence in this drink of alcohol and phenols contributes to diminish cholesterol, to improve blood circulation and to prevent heart attacks. A moderate consumption of wine can favor circulation, but the consumption of red grape without peeling can also bring the same properties without being necessary to take any alcohol, which in a prolonged and abundant use is not good for our health.

Grapes, used externally, constitute a very interesting cosmetic help for the protection and embellishment of skin, since they are one of the best skin humidifiers, so that they hydrate and recover it from the effects of dryness. The pulp of this fruit extended on the face in mask form during 20 or 30 minutes is a good resource to eliminate wrinkles. The sap of the vine can be used to reduce the eyes inflammation.

The vinegar of white grapes can be used to remove the yellow stains of the fingernails (Clean the fingernails with a soft brush impregnated with vinegar)

This fruit, for its wealth in sugars, is not very appropriate for diabetics or those that present intestinal problems because it increases fermentation and flatulence.

Baking measurement conversions

23 Aug

More chinese.

21 Aug

ren2 shen1 shi4 yie4 = career

Proud to be…

9 Aug


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Radioactive granite risks

30 Jul

What?s Lurking in Your Countertop?

SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.

“He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

“My first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,” Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, “I had them ripped out that very day,” and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. “The health risk to me and my family was probably small,” Dr. Sugarman said, “but I felt it was an unnecessary risk.”

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