Do you have “happy habits”?

Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and City was fabulous --but some of her habits were less appealing! Everyone talks about how hard it is to break bad habits. Millions of people struggle with it every day. From smoking to compulsive eating, habitually-destructive behavior has a well-deserved bad reputation. But have you ever thought about “happy habits”? 

As hard as it is to break a habit, it is sometimes even harder to find the time and energy to get into new happy habits. Some experts say they only way to change behavior successfully is to replace undesirable behavior or habits with new and better ones. This has worked for me.
I have made exercise a part of my life even though I am not naturally athletic, and sports bores me to death. But once I found a fitness center I enjoyed attending and exercise I enjoyed doing, the habit took hold.
I limit my socializing to a few nights a week so I can have more creative energy. I want to have time to work and rest, and not be swept away by my love for the “La DolceDolce Vita.” Life is still very sweet with plenty of time for fun, but no longer do hours slip away with those friends who always want to play when I have other things to do.
Believe me, it hasn’t always been easy, and it still isn’t. We all get into ruts. Things get away from us. Bad habits can form from fatigue, lack of time, depression, and even proximity. I know; all these things have happened to me. The trick is to think about our habits every once in while and sort them out, friend from foe.
The worst habit I dropped over the years was smoking. I never smoked regularly, but when I did I smoked a lot. I adored smoking. I wish I could say I came to my senses or that I suddenly felt awful, but I didn’t. It felt just fabulous. I just loved to smoke with a drink. It was all so Sex and the City.
Then one day, a wonderful doctor rained on my martini. He explained in the nicest way that smoking might not kill me at all, but could give me a stroke. He told me I wouldn’t like that at all, and he suggested I quit. It was so sensible, I had to listen. In addition, I had gained a few pounds.
So, I just did it. Quit, cold turkey. It really wasn’t hard at all. I was terrified of gaining weight, but what a wonderful time it became to get rid of a few other bad habits. I started to walk almost every day. I went back to eating my usual healthy protein and vegetable diet, which had fallen by the wayside. And it all worked out very well.
I have never smoked again. And I actually lost more weight than I had planned; it’s not a bad thing.
This wasn’t drastic. I didn’t lose 50 pounds. I didn’t through go a total lifestyle change. But I did make a few adjustments that improved my life. I did all of this for almost three months and told no one. It was fabulous.
When I moved to Atlanta, a city where walking is not a way of life and I lost my precious Toronto gym, I had to start over. It wasn’t easy. But, I am happy to say, I’m back at it and in the gym five days week. The changes in my body happen more slowly now then they did 10 years ago. That cab be frustrating, but the “happy habit” is back in place.
There was a great sense of freedom to privately adjusting my lifestyle, relationships, attitudes, and habits. After all, I knew the changes I was making were not negotiable. I wanted more time to walk, think, work, and be. I still wanted a social life with great dinners, wine, and fun. But I also chose to spend less time with those who had negative attitudes, habits, and were not “life-enhancing.” I was, and always am, seeking an optimal balance. It brought me even closer to loved ones. I even made cherished new friends.
It was harder to make time for myself to exercise. I had to learn to say no to old friends with bad habits, and that was harder than quitting smoking. I just had to decide to take that time for me. After all, I wouldn’t question the time I spent brushing my teeth or getting my hair cut; it was just that simple.
 Studies show that happiness is largely predetermined by attitude. I think a lot of life and happiness may be the result of simple habits. Learning to walk more, eat better, finding exercise you love, and even making your bed every day can change your life. Maybe we can even make being happy a habit. Darlings, we have so little control over most things, but we can choose our friends and our habits.

Look younger and prettier instantly!

Susmta PatelWith a season of holiday parties fast approaching most of us can use a few tricks to look younger, thinner, or prettier. Celebrity makeup artist Susmta Patel has tricks that help anyone look up to 10 years younger in an instant.  

Susmta has consulted for some of the beauty industry’s most prestigious brands, such as Shiseido, Lancôme, Versace, Christian Dior, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Laura Mercier and Clinique. At the famed Completely Bare Salons in Manhattan and Scarsdale, clients revered Susmta for her prowess in full body waxing, permanent hair removal, and eyebrow threading. Susmta was also the key makeup artist on the set of the Bollywood film Sama, and has judged the Miss India worldwide beauty pageants. 
Here are Susmta’s tips:
Lighten up
Tinted moisturizers with luminescent particles or lightweight liquid foundations are best for lined skin. Unlike pressed powder, which settles into wrinkles and makes the skin look even older, a light-reflective liquid formula creates the illusion of a glowing complexion.
Blur the edges
As we age, perfectly-drawn eyeliner starts looking more dour than dramatic. Rimming your lids with an eye pencil will define the eyes and seem to plump lashes, but always smudge the line a bit afterward for a more flattering, soft-focus effect. And while a lip liner is a great tool for shaping the mouth, use the liner to fill in the whole lip so there isn’t a hard edge.
Go light on lip color
Dark colors can look harsh and accentuate age spots and other imperfections. A lip gloss — not too shiny — looks much fresher.
Don’t be afraid of shimmer
Formulas have evolved so much in recent years that they’re not at all sparkly. They just have a very subtle, softening effect. According to Susmta, a dusting of shimmer shadow over the lids refracts light and brightens the eyes.
Stick to creamy blushes and shadows
Older skin usually means dry skin, so creamy blushes and shadows are your best bet.   Also, powder blushes and shadows tend to settle into your fine lines and wrinkles, while creamier products "plump" up your skin.
Don’t go skinny on the eyebrows
Don’t start going crazy when tweezing your brows; the higher the arch doesn’t mean more years are taken away. Once you hit your 30s, you’ll want to be careful not to over-pluck your eyebrows since they are less apt to grow back if you excessively pluck.

What to wear to a holiday brunch

Eileen Fisher a festive cardiA pretty festive sweater paired with good jeans, well-cut trousers, or a soft wool skirt can be just the thing to wear to a casual holiday gathering such as a brunch or afternoon open house.  

But if you think the only way to look festive is to don a gaudy holiday novelty sweater, forget it. No one looks chic, appealing, or pretty in those flashy Santa or reindeer numbers.
Instead opt for a bit of sparkle. A pretty sequin-trimmed cardi like this one from Eileen Fisher ($278) or pullover like A casual sparkle from Marc Jacobsthis one from Marc by Marc Jacobs ($365) always looks fabulous. If you really feel festive, you can splash out and sparkle like an ornament in all gold or silver. We loved this loose gold top from DKNYC at Nordstrom ($99).
Pretty gold glitz from DKNYCThink of these tops as an investment. Care for them properly and you can wear them for years. The Eileen Fisher Cardi also comes in plus sizes.

Banish stubborn age or sun spots safely!

 We have tried lightening products galore and we have a found a few good ones. But our testers who have stubborn age and sun spots told us that elure works better and faster than any other line we have seen – and we have seen them all.

Too many skin brightening and lightening cream regimes promise too much and deliver too little. Some may fade spots just a little. Some creams containing hydroquinone can even make hyperpigmentation worse, or in rare cases, even turn skin blue!
The new elure Advanced Skin Lightening program is a three-part system designed to safely erase hyperpigmentation, also called sun spots or age spots. And serious clinical trials show it works on all types of skin in 28 days!
The night cream and lotion are price to sell for $150 each, and the cleanser sells for $35. Costly laser treatments may or may not work, depending on the cause of the pigmentation and the operator’s skill. And prescription creams that contain high doses of hydroquinone can have serious side effects.
There are three products in the régime: Advanced Lightening Lotion, Advanced Lightening Night Cream, and Advanced Facial Wash.
elure contains lignin peroxidase, a naturally-occurring enzyme derived from a tree fungus that actually breaks down melanin, the substance in skin that causes spots and discoloration. It has been proven safe in clinical testing and does not appear to cause irritation, skin thinning, or other undesirable side-effects. I tried the line on my very sensitive and dry skin, and found it pleasant to use. I experienced no burning or dying.

A better skin polish

Women often ask me the secret of soft, smooth skin. They are surprised when I tell them it’s the regular use of masks and scrubs. It’s amazing what a wonderful glow you can get from the right skin care regime. A little extra at-home pampering a few times a week can make huge difference. 

Renowned skin care expert Dr. Zein Obagi agrees: “Many women think they need surgical procedures or injections to get perfect skin. But they can effectively delay and reverse the signs of aging with topical solutions.”

I recently tried his new ZO Skin Health Offects Exfoliating Polish. It instantly became one of my new favourites. The skin polish smells divine and contains non-irritating round magnesium crystals. I loved the tingly feeling and how smooth my skin felt.

I also tried ZO Skin Health Olluminate Intense Eye Repair. The light formula contains retinol to help build collagen and discourage creases, as well as vitamins to fight damage by free radicals. It also contains the light-reflective particles mica and titanium dioxide to disguise imperfections and make eyes look brighter. It’s a lovely, light eye cream that helps disguise dark circles and address fine line and puffiness.

The chic blue and sliver packaging looks fabulous on my bathroom counter and that makes me smile too.


Hair that holds up through a cha-cha!

We love White Sands hair products. So does Kimi Messina, the Dancing with the Stars hair stylist who picked White Sands Infinity Finishing Spray as the show’s favourite. 

According to the Emmy Award-winning stylist, “this spray not only gives you the best hold when you’re using hot tools, it also protects against heat damage. It protects against UV damage, and where I really think it shines is how well it brings out the shine in your hair!"
We love also the shine, and that White Sands Infinity Finishing Spray leaves your hair brushable. $21.

Cutie pies

Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory and Adorable Recipes by Dani Cone capitalizes on the appeal of small, dainty pies. The book has several recipes for different types of crusts, assorted sweet and savory fillings, and clever variations for making small sweet treats in jars, on sticks, in muffin tins, and in small pie tins. The result is – as the title says — adorable. 

There are easy pies that call for crumb crusts that will appeal to beginning bakers, and clever ideas for single-serving savories that can be used for appetizers, cocktails, or luncheons by more experienced hostesses. This book would be great gift for any enthusiastic hostess or baker.

Linda McCartney’s recipes

Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Home Cooking: 308 Quick, Easy, and Economical Vegetarian Dishes is full of family recipes, illustrated with lovely full-colour photos. There are also homey notes from the late author and wife of Beatle Paul McCartney that make this newly-republished volume very personal and special. 

Linda McCartney shares tips as well as the knowledge and enthusiasm she gained as a homemaker, feeding her family and friends. It is neither a vegetarian screed, nor does it demand veganism. The meals include dairy and eggs, are easy to make, and will appeal to most families.
Linda McCartney published this book in 1990. Eight years later she died following a long battle with breast cancer. Her introduction to the book is upbeat, but poignant. She says she and her family had an epiphany when they looked at the leg of lamb on their plates, and realized it was from the same animal they had seen “gamboling” in a field. So, she wrote the book to encourage people who want to cook without using meat. She also wanted to hand down her recipes to her family. “I’m a real peasant cook,” she wrote, “… I spend a lot of time in our kitchen. I find it the cosiest, friendliest place in the house.”
This beautifully-illustrated book would make a great holiday gift for any beginning or committed vegetarian cook.