Holiday cheer, Hollywood-style

If the stress of season is getting to you, try what I do darlings: curl up with a DVD. Never underestimate the feel-good factor of a fabulous holiday movie. A well-chosen one really can lift your spirits. You may think the airwaves are chock-a-block full of holiday specials. They are. So if Charlie Brown, The Simpsons, and Lifetime movies warm your heart — by all means have at it. What I am suggesting, however, is building your own library of old and new classics to get you through the season in style.

One of my husband’s holiday favourites is the Frank Capra classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. If you haven’t seen it, darlings, you don’t know what you are missing. This bittersweet story has been remade, but the new versions can’t come close to the original’s charm. It is a timeless story of goodness and giving. A quirky angel shows a compassionate but frustrated man how great he was, and how different the world would have been without him. 
Jimmy Stewart plays small-town boy George Bailey. He dreams of making his fortune around the world, but he is forced to sacrifice his ambitions to stay home and help his family and his town. He marries Mary Hatch, his high school sweetheart, played by the lovely Donna Reed. Events bring George to the brink of despair one cold Christmas Eve, but he is saved by Angel Second Class Clarence Odbody.
This black-and-white tale is grittier than most Christmas movies made today. George Bailey’s life was wonderful, but he had a miserable slog realizing it. Indeed, George goes through an earthly hell before the bells ring and the angel earns his wings. Maybe that’s why the film flopped at the box office when it was released in 1946. It found its true and loyal audience in the 1970s, when the ownership rights to the movie lapsed, and local TV stations broadcast it over and over because it cost them so little. The film was rediscovered as a classic because its characters and issues are timeless and unforgettable. It is at times hilarious and heartbreaking, an emotional roller coaster that would remind even a non-believer of the true message of Christmas. In many ways this shameless tearjerker has never been more powerful or relevant.
Ome of many quirky scenes from  Love ActuallyMy must-see holiday movie isn’t that old. Love Actually was made in 2003 by director Richard Curtis. He also made the now-classic romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral. Love Actually has that same wonderful quirky feeling and the same wry writing.  I fell madly in love with it the first time I saw it. I love the soundtrack and the song, All I Want for Christmas is You. It gives me a chill. It’s romantic and fun. This movie makes me laugh, cry, and feel exactly the way I think Christmas should feel – warm and delicious. It is the perfect movie for an unabashed romantic.
The cast is fabulous with Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson. It’s a compilation of stories that intersect the month before Christmas in London. The stories all involve love, loss, and renewal. It is an enchanting film for a magical season, made with uncommon grace and humour.
A friend recently longed for a quiet afternoon with A House Without a Christmas Tree. This movie stars Jason Robards. Set in 1946, a young girl in Nebraska longs for a Christmas tree. The tree and holiday celebration are things her bitter widowed father won’t give her. My friend decorates fabulously for the holidays. She finds a way to bring joy to the most mundane situations. I can see why this is among her favourites.
I also have a fondness for Nancy Meyer’sHoliday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Nancy Meyer makes smart chick flicks. She also made the wise and wry, It’s Complicated. In Holiday, Cameron and Kate are two heartbroken women who trade places. The English editor Kate comes to sunny L.A. to escape her romantic disillusionment. High-powered Hollywood star Cameron lands in the icy cold Cotswold’s after a broken romance. It is a delightful and well-written romantic comedy that’s all the more magical for the holiday setting.
Another favourite, The Diary of Bridget Jones, is not strictly a holiday movie, but it ends with a grand holiday finale. Renee Zellweger stars in this thinly-disguised modern take on a Jane Austen tale. Bridget struggles with her work, weight, and (self) worth. Then she has to choose between an honourable man and a romantic scallywag. It’s also lovely to watch Hugh Grant and Colin Firth co-star.
I also never miss the old musical Holiday Inn when it is on. I love the picture-perfect New England inn, snowy sleigh rides, and old show tunes. Corny?  You bet, and I love it.  After all, I like all the hoopla, holly, and silver bells of the holidays.
This is my list darlings. It is missing many classics that you may enjoy. My list is heavy on romance; for that I make no apologies. You may enjoy: A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, or Scrooged. I know someone who likes to watch The Walton’s Christmas Special, because that is what her family did. If you start to look into it, you may be astounded by the number of holiday movies available. I was.
The holidays shouldn’t be spectator sport — heaven forbid! But sometimes it’s good to curl up, relax, and enjoy a little holiday cheer, Hollywood-style.

Pretty pain-free feet

 Do you fe t scream with pain?A well-known photographer once told me you can tell if a woman’s feet hurt by looking at her picture. He said women with sore feet get a pinched look on their faces when they smile. I think he is right. I saw so many women barefoot at the end of the night — their pricey sandals in their hands — because their feet hurt. I wonder why they didn’t have a good foot doctor.


I love high heels and I hardly ever have foot pain. I swear it is because I take good care of my feet, and never tolerate shoes that hurt. Life is too short for painful feet.
Dr. Robert Klein is a podiatric physician and foot surgeon, with 16 years of experience. He answered all our questions and told us how to have beautiful, pain-free feet and nails. He even shares a few trade secrets!
Dr. Klein practices in the Orthopedic and Podiatry Department of the Collom & Carney Clinic in Texarkana, Texas. He has previously served as an attending physician treating hard to heal wounds of the foot at a specialty Wound Care and HyperbaricCenter
Dr. Robert KleinSo if you want to shop till you drop, dance all night long, and have feet you can show off without embarrassment in yoga class – don’t miss a word of this valuable interview!
DD: What causes nail fungus?  How can you get rid of it quickly?
Dr. R: As the name implies, nail fungus results from a fungal infection, typically from a group of fungi called dermatophytes. Occasionally yeast can also cause an infection.

A nail fungus may start out as a yellow, white, or discolored area on your toenail. As the fungal infection spreads it can cause thickening of the nail, discoloration of the nail, fungal debris can accumulate under the nail causing the nail to not adhere to the underlying nail bed. Pain can develop.

Nail fungus is fairly common and can be picked up in communal areas such as pools, gyms, locker rooms, even nail salons. Nail fungus is common on the toenails because of the warm, moist, and dark environment of our shoes and socks – the perfect environment for fungi to thrive.

There are a variety of treatment options available ranging from topical to oral therapy. Unfortunately, nails grow slowly, and depending on the severity of the infection, complete resolution may take some time — upwards of four to six months.

Oral medications such as Lamisil and Sporanoxare are sometimes used for fungal nail infections. Oral medications may cause some side effects. Careful review of the medications the patient is on is important, as there are some potential drug-to-drug interactions, and monitoring of blood work is recommended.

Other safer options include topical medications. I routinely recommend Miranel, an over-the-counter topical antifungal combining an active anti-fungal such as Miconazole along with homeopathic remedies. Occasionally, surgery is recommended for either temporary or permanent removal of the nail.

Treating nail fungus with laser therapy is also an option. This type of therapy is very costly and may not be available everywhere, nor covered by your health insurance.

DD: What is the best way to avoid cracked heels? Is there an effective way to treat them?
Dr.R: Avoiding cracked heels can be difficult. Cracked heels are common in the winter when it’s cold and dry. Secrets and tips that I share with my patients to avoid cracking of the heels includes exfoliating your heels regularly. I recommend using a pumice stone or callus file regularly while bathing.

In addition, applying a lotion that exfoliates the skin can help prevent cracking and fissuring of the skin. In my practice, I recommend AmLactin Foot Therapy Cream. It contains lactic acid alpha-hydroxy moisturizers that exfoliate and hydrate the skin. Lastly, I’ll have the patient apply the AmLactin Cream at night time, and have them wear a thin pair of white cotton socks to aid with penetration.

DD:  Are exercise to keep the feet supple, such as those done in yoga, or Yamuna foot rollers good for your feet?
Dr. R: Yes, I think exercises to keep your feet supple, as those done in yoga, can help. Yoga can certainly improve the flexibility of your feet, strengthen the core muscle of your feet, as well as the muscle and tendons that insert into your feet.

(The makers of) Yamuna foot rollers claim to promote flexibility and increase circulation. I have no first-hand experience with the Yamuna rollers, but in reviewing their website, their claims that it increases flexibility seem quite plausible.

DD: What are the best types of socks to wear with boots or for exercise?
Dr. R: For exercising I recommend choosing a sock made from synthetic materials, such as polyester, coolmax, or acrylic. The reason I like these materials is that it wicks away moisture from the skin thus preventing blisters.

For boots, especially during winter time, I recommend wool blends. The wool will keep the skin warm. I don’t recommend cotton socks, as they retain moisture and don’t wick the moisture away from the skin.

DD: Is it safe to wear fleece or sheepskin boots without socks?
Dr. R: The warmth of the fleece or sheepskin boot should be sufficient to keep the feet warm enough without socks. I would have no problems if someone wearing those types of boots (e.g. Ugg’s) did so without socks. 
 DD: Are you at risk from infection on a dry surface at a yoga class — or only on wet surface at the gym?
Dr. R: Fungus likes moist, dark, and damp environments. I think you’re more at risk of developing a fungal infection by using the public mats at a yoga studio. I’d recommend bringing your own mat, washing it regularly, and wearing a pair of flip flops when walking in the studio or locker room.

Wet surfaces at the gym also can cause a fungal foot infection. Once again, having a pair of flip flops that you wear in the locker room and shower should help prevent developing a fungal foot infection.

 DD: How should you cut your nails?
Dr. R: Cutting your toenails sounds like it would be simple and it can be with these simple suggestions:
1. Choose the proper toenail clipper. Do not share them with anyone, and cleanse the clipper with alcohol between use.

2. Trim the nail slowly, making 2-3 cuts across the nail vs in one big bite of the nail clipper.

3. Cut the nails straight across and exercise caution not to dig into the corners.

DD: are pedicures safe? What should one look for when choosing a place to have pedicure?
Dr. R: Pedicures are safe and can be quite enjoyable when care is taken to ensure your nail salon is creating a safe environment for you. Simple suggestions: The spa chairs should be cleaned and wiped down after each use. The foot spa tubs also should be cleaned out after use with a disinfectant. The filter systems of the tubs should be cleaned regularly. Instruments should be cleaned and autoclaved after each use. Some salons will provide individual instruments for their regular clients. If not, consider purchasing your own pedicure instruments. Make sure your nail tech washes their hands… Look at the overall cleanliness of the salon. If there is debris or dirt on the floor, the chairs are dirty, consider another salon.
DD: How damaging are tight and badly-fitting shoes?
Dr. R: Tight or badly-fitting shoes can be damaging to your feet. One of the more common complaints I see in my office from tight or badly-fitting shoes is Morton’s neuroma. It is basically an irritation of a nerve in your foot, often attributed to tight-fitting shoes.

Badly-fitting shoes can also exacerbate and/or irritate bunion deformities and hammertoes, as well as cause corns to develop on your toes.

Lastly, tight-fitting or badly-fitting shoes can be very problematic in diabetic patients, patients with poor circulation, or patients with impaired nerve function. Sores and ulcerations can develop.

DD: If high heels fit well and cause no pain, are they safe to wear?
Dr. R: My patients ask me this all the time. High heels can affect your feet in many ways. They can alter your posture. High heels put more pressure on your forefoot. Your body compensates whereby the upper part of your body leans back to maintain balance. High heels can cause your calf muscles to shorten because of the heel height. When switching back and forth from heels to flats, you can wind up irritating the heel cord and developing Achilles tendonitis.

The narrow toe-boxes of high heels can irritate or create a Morton’s neuroma, a painful nerve condition that frequently occurs between the third and fourth toes.
Narrow toe-boxes can irritate bunion deformities and hammertoes, as well as cause calluses and corns to develop.

High heels aren’t as stable as a flats; ankle injuries and sprains are possible.

With that said, with proper selection and moderation, heels can be safe to wear. But, probably not as an everyday shoe.

DD: Do flip flops damage feet?
Dr. R: With the exception of wearing flip flops at the beach, or in the gym, flip flops can be problematic. They provide little heel and arch support. Heel and arch pain can result. There’s not much to flip flops, and as a result your muscles and tendons really work hard to walk in flip flops. You’ve probably noticed that your toes wind up gripping and contracting more when wearing flip flops which can lead to toe pain. Running in flip flops can be very dangerous. If your catch the tip of the flip flop against the ground you could easily fall and cut/lacerate, or pull a layer of skin off, or even a toenail. Flip flops offer no protection from dropping an object on your foot, and from rocks and debris on the ground kicking up and injuring your feet.

From the constant pounding of your foot against the ground and little if any cushioning, you can quickly develop unsightly calluses and cracks on your heels when wearing flip flops.

For more on Dr. Robert Klein, check out


This holiday season you’ll want to shimmer and glimmer like the precious delight you are.

To gild your eyes with a golden shimmer, try the Eye Colour Sampler from Laura Mercier. It’s full of lovely and sparkly shadows for any occasion. This kit will make your eyes soft or intensely smoky. The colours will work for anyone, so it is a fabulous gift too. It’s $48.
Laura Mercier Eye Shadow SamplerIf you want sparkle but have spent all your gold on others, Flirt! Fowerific Limited Edition Eye Shadow Palette is a fabulous little palette at Kohl’s for less than $15. It will give you the sexy gilded look you want this season with three burnished metallics and one smoky shade. It is a great stocking stuffer too. We love this value for money line and need it to come to Canada. Until then, pick it up on cross-border shopping trips. This one is a keeper.
For a subtle glow, you can try a couple of pretty Katy Perry’s favourites: Cover Girl’s Queen Collection Hot Toffee (single) and MAC Honey Lust!MAC eye shadow in Honey Lust. Both are well-priced, Cover Girl single shadows are about $3 and MAC eye shadows are about $18.
Cover Girl Hot ToffeeFor fabulous long lashes try Covergirl Lashblast. Since using Latisse, I love the original yellow tube Lashblast Length. It coats my new long lashes with no flaking. But if you want length and instant volume, try Lashblast Fusion. Or, for evening, pump it up with Lashblast Luxe for all the oomph and a hint of glimmer, too. I wear this mascara to work out, and it stays put. We were talking about it after class. A young woman who also wears make-up that stay put throughout the thigh-busting hour workout wears it too.



Give green!

Nature’s Gate is a line of eco-friendly body products that gives back. They’re beautifully packaged and smell divine. Every package sold also helps WaterAid. WaterAid helps bring sustainable water to poor communities Asia and Africa.

Choose from Ginger Tea Body Care Holiday Gift set with BodyWash and Body Lotion for $9.99, or the Orchid Hand Care Holiday Gift Set with Liquid Soap and Hand Cream. Don’t be put off by the value-for-money pricing; the sets are lovely-looking with quality ingredient such as herbs, antioxidants, and absolutely no harmful additives. The eco-friendly packing looks fabulous – and I am packaging-sensitive. I want gorgeous. Doesn’t everyone, darlings? If you haven’t bought your teacher gifts or secret Santa stuff, get this. It’s perfect for hard-to-buy-for vegans! You can pick it up at health food stores in the U.S. and Canada!


Deck the halls!

For me, decking the halls always includes scenting the air. I love opening the door and being met with the welcoming scent of the holidays. I adore a rich mixture of spice, figs, pine, and warm candle wax. That is the atmosphere I create for my husband and me, and our guests to enjoy. It enhances the décor of lights, crystal, and freshly-cut pine. 

Jo Malone’s Pine and Eucalyptus scent is perfect for the holidays. It mingles with, but never overwhelms, fine food and wine. The candles elegantly add their light and scent on a sideboard or little table – a perfect accent. The Living Cologne is a perfect burst of scent to freshen the air after cooking, or to liven up a closet or entry-way. The candles and cologne make a very special and appreciated hostess gift, too.
At fine department stores in Canada and the U.S.

For him!

Alice Farnsworth has been trying out holiday gift ideas! Here’s something she found for the men in your life:

Ladies! We have something special for the men in your life.

Philips has launched, in time for Christmas, its most advanced premium shaver – SensoTouch 3D, the first ever line of wet and dry 3D electric shavers.
I had the perfect candidate testing this razor: my hard-sell son with a heavy, dark beard and very sensitive skin. He only uses a blade because electric razors have never worked for him. Let him tell you what he found.
"I’ve used this razor a few times. It’s great – much better than the ones I’ve tried in the past. It’s pretty high-tech. It tells you how much time you have on your charge and has a cleaning system that allows you to clean it while it’s charging. It does provide a pretty close shave.
"I think its greatest strength is that it does a good job around the contours of the face where electric razors generally do not work well. The razor heads are very flexible so they can get into very difficult spots. Also, you can use shaving cream if you want, although I don’t know why anyone would bother. I have sensitive skin and the razor did not really irritate my skin.
"Cleaning the heads after shaving is also very easy. All in all, it’s a great razor".
So, there you have it; a very objective opinion from a man who has always preferred the regular razor blade.
There are four models of Philips SensoTouch 3D shavers, ranging from $229.99 to $329.99. SensoTouch shavers are also available in 2D, ranging in price from $139.99 to $219.99.

Make it personal


Our Deb Williams reflects on the lost art of the letter, and explains why she misses Christmas cards:
It’s a crisp winter morning, and I’m standing by the bay window, looking out onto a fresh blanket of snow. It seems to hug even the most fragile branches. Today is a good day to spend a few quiet moments sending out my Christmas cards.

I believe my love for writing first sprouted in my early teens when I spent hours writing letters to pen pals and friends away at boarding school.

Humid summers in India were spent corresponding with cousins in England and aunts in Australia. Every time a letter arrived, I – for a moment — saw myself in their worlds. I read of the sticky, red earth of the Australian outback and the vicious geese at St. James Park in England. I would later discover both for myself.
In my late teens, my correspondence turned to love letters. They related messages of the heart that were simply too precious to be sent through an impersonal e-mail, and too discreet to be revealed over a crackling long-distance phone call.
Even after I got married, I left love notes around the house for my husband to find. Our courtship has been documented through cards, letters, and little notes. I believe a woman can never have too many of those. There are few things more precious than the arrival of a love letter, regardless of age or gender.
Sadly, I look around today and see that the world has changed. These days I dread bringing in the mail; it’s mostly bills or flyers. Where have all the letters gone?
One of my fondest memories of Christmas is sitting with my dad and stringing all the Christmas cards together. As the Yuletide season approached, wishes flowed in from all over the world. I had a stamp collection that was the envy of many of my friends. I realize now that these weren’t just cards; they were chronicles of people lives, their hopes and thoughts. Sending cards for a birthday or a holiday was a personal and intimate gesture. 
Now we live in a world of Facebook and instant messaging.  It is an impersonal space where it’s easier to settle for a generic broadcast than to labour over something personal and endearing. This is a space where there are no Christmas cards or love letters. We have forgotten how to build relationships, to grow together, and how to truly share our lives with each other. We live in a world where friendship has an expiration date and love is frivolous. It’s time to realise that life doesn’t have to be this way. 
With a gentle smile, I turn away from the window. Maybe, this holiday season we all will try a little harder, to make it a time for family, friends, and above all else – we will make time to spend together.





Fit for a princess

Now that ‘Waity Katie’ waits no longer for her prince, we will be kept informed of her preparations to be the latest royal bride, as she readies herself to marry William. We already know from the glossies that she has dieted her self stick-thin, in anticipation — or fear – of being constantly photographed. And you can bet she will perfect every aspect of her ‘look.’

If you would like to try a European regime but don’t have a million to splurge – Kate Middleton has her own fortune – here is a fabulous regime designed by Lierac Paris. They promise Kate’s “Royal Glow”. I tried their “royal glow regime,” and it really is impressive. It gives a lovely natural glow in record time. I really appreciate the way the peel and micro abrasion products are engineered to be effective, but not irritate my sensitive skin! I have had toss so many pricey peels that have left me red, irritated, and definitely not lovely and glowing. This works, but gently. Here is the regime and recommended products:
·        Use High Peel Concentrate to help gently peel away dead skin cells. The formula uses time-released Hydroxy-Acids that help to fight damage while leaving skin healthy, hydrated, and smooth.
·        Moisturize with Crème Mésolift Anti-Aging Radiance Cream. Rich in Vitamins A, C, E, B5, and B6, minerals, Hyaluronic Acid, and citrus AHAs, this product helps to boost the radiance of the complexion, energizing, smoothing, and toning the skin.
·        Exfoliate with Micro-Abrasion Exfoliating Smoothing Cream. Micro-Abrasion uses alumina crystals to exfoliate the skin deep-down, removing dead cell debris and aiding in cell turnover.
·        Treat your lips and the surrounding area with Cohérence Lèvres Age-Defense Lip Cream. This lip treatment is formulated with ASC III Collagen Accelerating Vectors that stimulate collagen production, filling in lines or wrinkles. This smells divine.
·        Eat, drink and be merry – but make sure to get enough sleep each night and stay hydrated throughout the day. At night, while we’re sleeping, our skin experiences the greatest degree of cell turnover, which helps to keep our complexions looking fresh. Make sure to listen when you’re told to get your "beauty sleep!" It is also important to drink lots of water throughout the day. When we drink water, we work to ward off any surface dehydration, which could leave the skin looking dull.