Monday, October 31, 2011

All About Bedroom Makeovers

Rebecca Webster and Dvira Ovadia from CityTV's Downright Domestic lifestyle show provided us with an impressive 30-minute bedroom makeover at the International Home Show. They went through the following ten steps:
  1. Wardrobe--A portable closet is a good solution for anyone who needs extra storage for clothing. It can be easily assembled and placed in a dorm room, cottage or master bedroom.
  2. Rug--Use an accent rug to warm up the room. Do not be afraid to put these rugs on top of wall-to-wall carpeting.
  3. Storage--Place a storage trunk or bench at the foot of the bed. Toss in extra pillows and clothes.
  4. Headboard--Upholster or create your own headboard. Think outside the box, especially in a child's room. At the show, Dvira and Rebecca drew in a headboard on a blackboard behind the bed. Two Euro pillows can also act as a headboard and anchor your bed.
  5. Bedding--This is a quick way to update any bedroom. Dvira highly recommends bedding-in-a-bag, which is inexpensive and comes with a pre-determined colour scheme. At the show, she used mauve bed sheets to pop up the neutral tone of the duvet cover. She added lots of pillows in pop colours. She advised: no more than two pop colours.
  6. Baskets--Scatter baskets and bins throughout the room. Toss in books, toys, and other knickknacks. 
  7. Chair--Dvira transformed a Parson chair using a slip cover. These covers come in all sizes and covers and help renew old furniture pieces.
  8. Accessories--These help personalize your space and make it feel fresh and innovative. Dvira suggested that we pair these items and position them throughout the room. Remember to add flowers. Check out Home Sense for ideas.
  9. Art--Do not neglect the walls. When the walls are bare, the room is not finished. Use original art or prints. If you have a large wall, pair up the prints. Make sure that the frames match.
  10. Lighting--Extra lamps will highlight the design. Dvira added a set of lamp shades on the night tables.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Triple Treat

I spent a jam-packed afternoon at the International Centre in Mississauga. Over 500 exhibitors showcased their products and services for three consumer shows: The International Home Show, the Interior Decorating Show, and the Better Living Boomer Show. I visited many of the booths and found myself contemplating a number of purchases--everything from delicious, low-fat apple straws to high-end patio furniture.I bought the apple straws and took pictures of the patio furniture.

I also found time to listen to a couple of entertaining and informative presentations: 10 Steps to a Bedroom Makeover and Wellness Care not Sick Care for Baby Boomers.

In the spring, I will make a point of going earlier in the day. I also discovered that Re-Admission slips are available at the cashiers. This slip allows you to re-enter the show on another day, free of charge.

Sixty-seven inches across--enough stretching room for me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Still Alice

I accepted an invitation to another book club. Yesterday evening, I enjoyed meeting with the six other ladies in the Green Room at the Bookshelf Cafe.

While it had been a while since I read Still Alice, the storyline stayed with me. 

Alice Howland, a Harvard professor of linguistics, is having trouble remembering words and where she left certain items. At first, she dismisses these lapses, but she cannot ignore the situation when she forgets how to get home after her jog one fateful morning. She makes an appointment with a neurologist, who diagnoses her with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.

The book chronicles Alice's demise and her family's reaction as they struggle toward acceptance. While a few of the other book club members disapproved of  her husband's behaviour and some of his decisions, I could understand his rationale. John Howland knew his limitations and realized he couldn't handle the rapid progression of Alice's illness. That is typical of most families facing this frightening diagnosis and the aftermath. Each family member will react and respond differently. Not everyone can assume the role of primary caregiver.

I was inspired by Lisa Genova's story. After graduating with a Ph.D in neuroscience, her eighty-five-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. As Genova visited with her grandmother, she became fascinated with the progression of the illness. She wondered what it would be like when parts of the brain stopped functioning. She decided to meet people with Alzheimer's in the early stages, people who could still describe what it was like to have dementia. Their stories helped Lisa Genova create this compelling novel.

I highly recommend this book. All of us have been or will be impacted, in some way, by Alzheimer's Disease.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eternal on the Water

Last evening, a few of us met at the East Side branch of the Guelph Public Library to talk about Joseph Monninger's book, Eternal on the Water.

We all enjoyed reading this book which is similar to The Notebook by Nicholas Spark and one of my favourite movies, Love Story.

The theme is a familiar one: a woman dies too young and leaves behind a devastated soul mate. As the main characters, Mary Fury and Jonathon Cobb fall in love, they approach life with a sense of adventure. Their travels take them from the rugged wilderness of Maine to the exotic islands of Indonesia, Yellowstone National Park and Muir Woods.

While the first half of the book moves slowly, the pace picks up towards the end. The last chapter is a tear-jerker.

A great read...we're hoping someone will buy the film rights.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beating the Cold and Flu Season

Yesterday evening, I enjoyed the short but informative presentation delivered by naturopath Krista Vetter at the Westminster Branch of the Guelph Public Library.

She provided us with many easy-to-implement strategies for surviving the coming cold and flu season. While I had heard some of the suggestions before, I found the following tips and statistics very interesting:
  • Try the following stressbuster: Practice deep abdominal breathing for at least five minutes, two to three times daily.
  • Studies have shown that the time between 12 midnight and 5 a.m. is critical for effective, regenerative sleep.
  • A study published in Pediatrics found that children who took a specific strain of probiotics for six months had 72% less fevers, 62% less coughs, 58% less rhinorrhea, and 48% less duration of acquired illness. They also required 84% less antibiotics and were absent from group childcare settings 27% less than children who had not taken the probiotics.
  • When asked about specific probiotics, Krista recommended the SISU brand name, available at Zehrs and health food stores.
  • Zinc, vitamins A and C, thymus and mushroom extracts are all beneficial for boosting the immune system.
  • Krista highly recommends astralagus, an adaptagen, which helps the body adapt to internal and external stress. It can be taken on a long-term basis throughout the fall and winter to help prevent viral and bacterial illness.
  • She recommends the herbs, Echninachea, Goldenseal, Berberine and Oregano, to help combat acute illness on a short-term basis.
  • When asked about the flu shot, she commented that its risks are higher than its benefits. She reiterated that she is more interested in helping people build up their immune systems.
When you catch a cold...
  • Avoid dairy and citrus products. Both increase mucous production in the body.
  • Take a hot bath while drinking hot herbal tea to help sweat it out.
  • Take three drops of oil of oregano three times a day.
  • A neti pot and saline drops can help to decrease congestion.
  • Take megadoses of Vitamin C.
 Like other naturopaths, she highly recommends the Warming Sock Treatment. She calls it the magic sock treatment and uses it with babies and young children.Put a pair of cotton socks under cold water until soaking wet, ring out and climb onto bed, put socks on feet and cover with an extra pair of wools socks. Do not get out of bed until socks are dry in the morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Yoga

I signed up for Sunday evenings with yogini Erik Hay.

I enjoy the 90-minute classes and leave feeling calm and centered.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Revisiting Jeremy Tracey

Last evening, I drove to the Grand River branch of the Kitchener Public Library to hear Jeremy Tracey speak on Creating Change.

He based his very entertaining and interactive presentation on the five logic levels associated with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming):

Level 1--Environment

Does your environment support the changes you want to make in your life? There was some discussion about friends, co-workers and family members who may not be too supportive. Jeremy shared one of his own experiences while working in Alberta. At that time, he was taking personal growth and development courses in the evening. During the day, he attempted to share his new knowledge about improving his lifestyle. While his co-workers were not receptive, his boss took him aside and commented: "It is very difficult to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys."

Level 2--Action

Do your actions support your goal? Your actions express your priorities. If these actions are not congruent with your values, there needs to be a shift. Any negative comments about high achievers will block you from moving forward.

Level 3--Skills and Abilities

Do you have the necessary skills and abilities needed to move forward with your goals? If not, obtain these skills by hiring a coach, taking a course or reading an appropriate book.

Level 4--Beliefs

Do you believe in your goals? Jeremy referred to Robin Sharma, the author of The Leader Who Had No Title, who said, "Your beliefs are nothing more than thoughts you've repeated over and over again until they become self-fulfilling truths." Jeremy urged us to squash ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) by writing down the polar opposite and repeating it to ourselves. For example, "I don't have the time" could become "I have plenty of time to complete all my tasks." Great quote--"Let positive affirmations bathe your brain."

Level 5--Identity

What is your identity? Does it help or hinder the changes you want to make? This level is the most powerful one and can impact all preceding levels. According to Jeremy, it may be necessary to shift your identity before you can move forward.

Bonus Logic Level--Higher Purpose

What is the emotional payoff you will gain by reaching a particular goal? When you can find your "Why" you will find your "Way." Your higher purpose will drive you to make the necessary changes to get all the other levels in place.

Monday, October 17, 2011


My article, "Growing More Brain on a Budget," appears in today's edition of The Dollar Stretcher.

The Dollar Stretcher is a group of publications dedicated to helping readers save time and money.

Read the article.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sundays for Writers

This afternoon, I joined Cindy Carroll and a few other members of Guelph Write Now and Writers Ink at Lucie's Bakery in south Guelph.

We discussed our respective writing journeys and shared loglines, pitches and query letters for our upcoming books.

We also enjoyed the delicious coffee, tea, bagels and wraps.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ides of March

This movie is definitely George Clooney's baby. He is the director, producer and screenwriter. He also stars in the movie as Governor Mike Morris, one of the presidential candidates for the Democratic party. He is joined by Ryan Gosling who plays the part of Stephen Myers, the up-and-coming campaign press secretary.

The movie covers the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary. Idealistic Stephen Myers receives a crash course in dirty politics after accepting an invitation. Along the way, he also discovers a  personal secret that could jeopardize the entire campaign.

This political thriller is worth seeing. Watch the trailer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Special Author Evening

Yesterday evening, I enjoyed listening to three best-selling authors--Linwood Barclay, Maureen Jennings, Peter Robinson--read at the main branch of the Guelph Public Library.

I was impressed by their storytelling abilities and, of course, their exceptional talent. Barclay and Robinson spoke about their early experiences on book tours, regaling us with some of their more embarrassing moments. Barclay read from The Accident; Jennings read from Season of Darkness; and Robinson read from Before the Poison.

Later, the authors commented on the following statement:  

Women are flocking from romance fiction to crime fiction.

Barclay believes that crime novels are plot driven, which contributes to their success and popularity. Jennings believes that crime novels are popular because their authors like to tie up all the loose ends and achieve closure. According to Robinson, crime writers are the best storytellers and know how to spin out the suspense.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

All About Horror

Last evening, I attended the Inspiring Screams: Horror Writing workshop at the main branch of the Guelph Public Library.

Writer and teacher Erik Mortenson provided two hours chock full of advice about the horror genre. While this is not my genre, or even one I would consider, I welcomed many of his suggestions and will try to incorporate them into my writing.

Food for thought...
  • Fear inspires the most action. 
  • Write about what scares you the most.
  • Effective horror stories gets under people's skins.
  • The unknown makes us feel uncomfortable.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Magda and I went to our first Oktoberfest.

The weather co-operated and record crowds were out in downtown Kitchener.

Friday, October 7, 2011

More about Steve Jobs

Author Carmine Gallo appeared on tonight's 20/20 to talk about the seven secrets to Steve Jobs' success.
  1. Do what you love. Don't settle. According to Jobs, passion is everything.
  2. Put a dent into the universe. Have a clear and concise vision of what you want to accomplish. You should be able to express it in less than 140 characters.
  3. Say No to 1000 things. Focus and reduce the clutter in your life.
  4. Kick-start your brain. When you try something new or change your routine, you increase the number of connections in your brain.
  5. Sell dreams not products.
  6. Create insanely great experiences.
  7. Master the message.
Watch the trailer.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Farewell to Steve Jobs

    I was saddened by the news.

    One of the most innovative leaders of our time died yesterday. His legacy is a far-reaching one, inspiring young and old alike to follow their dreams.In addition to changing our lives with innovative products, he has also left us many memorable words. Many parts of his commencement address to the class of 2005 at Sanford University have been quoted throughout the years.

    My favourite quotes...
    • Stay hungry, stay foolish.
    • Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
    • You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
    • Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
    • Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It clears out the old to make way for the new.
    • You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
    • I want to put a ding in the universe.
    Listen to Steve Jobs.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Dinner with Writers Ink

    Seven of us gathered at Symposium Restaurant to discuss our respective writing journeys and enjoy the wonderful food.

    I am interested to hear about the challenges faced by writers at different stages of the process. Some members are writing their first short story while others are trying to find agents.

    The conversation is a lively one and I leave inspired to continue writing.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011


    My book review of The Lost Deaf Children and Other Stories appears in today's Waterloo Record and Guelph Mercury.

    Read the review.