Absorbed in Skin Care

I must admit, now that I am in my mid forties, I have dropped more than a few pennies into the fountain of youth. I am clearly obsessed with skin care.  Its certainly not a bad thing, in fact, its a healthy habit , however, I am a total skin care fanatic, and I am becoming concerned that It may be taking over my life. Let me explain…

Right now, I have 2-4 good quality facial scrubs, several serums, lots of night and day cream, and to top it off, vitamin capsules, and even an eye cream made with snail poop, Yes. snail poop. Do you think I have a problem? Hey, at least I acknowledge that I do. I’m not denying it.

I cant walk by the Shoppers Drug Mart beauty boutique without browsing through the new and exciting moisturizers. They claim to illuminate, exfoliate, brighten and tighten. They reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and all the nice packaging and advertising has me sucked right in. I  can be talked into  trying anything. Its crazy!  I am what you call a perfect sucker for beauty. Social Media will have a hay day with me in the future when they advance into tracking my purchases and sending me a tweet on a new product “just right for me”as soon as I enter the Sephora. I have bought very expensive skin care, and I have also made up my own home masks, and facials. I must admit, sometimes the simple things work the best.



Once a week I will give myself the ultimate spa facial. I wash my face, then I apply pure lemon juice. Its great for pore tightening. After that I put raw honey on my face and leave it for 20 minutes. Honey is a wonderful antibacterial and helps with sun damage as well. I will then apply jojoba oil on my face afterward and go to sleep. I wake up in the morning looking like a million bucks. That is if I haven’t been into the wine the night before.

I would like to share with you a few of my all time favorite skin care products.  These are my favorites  because I see immediate results. Here they are.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky Clean Scrub…use morning and night. This cleans your face to a truly squeaky clean shine, and unclogs pores. I have never had acne, but use this religiously.

body shop

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm…unbelievable  instant illumination! It has ginseng in it, and instantly wakes you up. You can apply over your makeup if you have to go out at night.



Kiehls Midnight Repair Oil …..this is truly luxurious and smells amazing. I put it on at night before bed and it works with your skin to repair cells. You look fabulous in the morning.



What are your favorites? Please advise! Believe me….if I haven’t tried them, I will. Its my dysfunctional  self absorbed hobby. I love every bit of it. Got to get ready for bed now. Night skin care regime. Sweet dreams all!



Be a Cool and Socially Responsible Host this Summer

It’s the end of July already and we are right into the heat of summer entertaining. Outdoor parties and backyard BBQ’s are happening in millions of homes and cottages all over Ontario.

We Canadians love our weekends to let loose relax and unwind and enjoy each other’s company over a few cold beers or summer cocktails. With so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming for you as a host to choose how much to buy, what to serve, and how to present it. It can be very stressful as an entertainer.

In my career, I hear this all the time so, it’s my job to present to you an easy no fuss guide to being the most successful and responsible host. I have lots of tips to share with you and a few surprise cocktails. Read on…

First thing is first. Stop stressing! Entertaining is all about a balance between hospitality and social responsibility. This requires a little detailed planning ahead of time.

Rule of thumb is simple. Choose a signature cocktail that you enjoy and make it into a pitcher drink so it’s easy to serve to people. Make this up ahead of time and pop in the freezer.

Buy a variety of different bears and put them in a chilled ice bucket or cooler for your guests to choose themselves.

Have a variety of non salty foods available for your guests. People tend to drink more when they eat salty food.  Stay with buns and meat as opposed to chips or salted nuts.

Social Responsibility

First thing is first, don’t drink too much yourself.

It’s also important to attend to the designated drivers. After all…they are the most important people. Much too often the host makes the mistake of leaving the designated driver out, and they have to drink water or pop. BORING!!!!

Offer a non-alcoholic drink that looks just as good as any alcoholic drink you are serving. For instance, if you are serving Caesars, have one available eliminating the alcohol. This way, they can have fun and feel like part of the party.

A simple non-alcoholic drink can be fruit juice mixed with a little sparkling mineral water or a dash of grenadine. Present it in a lovely martini glass and there is nothing better! Presentation is everything!

Make sure you have lots of room for your guests to stay the night. If not, have some subway tokens sitting at the front door for them.

Stop drinking at least a few hours before your party ends. Bring out juice and water and always have lots of food readily available.






Blend all ingredients into a blender and pour into a pitcher. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

Please visit www.deflatetheelephant.com  for lots of hosting tips and 0% cocktail ideas. Social responsibility is key to a fun and successful Canadian summer party!blockContain-cocktail-mouthwateringmimosa

You’ve Got A Friend In Me….Maybe…

How do you define friendship?

Is it a form of love? Common values? An enjoyment of each others company?

Wikipedia defines friendship as “A mutual affection between two or more people”

I believe that friendship is defined by our various emotional human needs which enable us to feel a bond or connection. The wide spectrum of what “true friendship” can perceived to be vastly different, from one individual to another.

If we take that friendship necessity and consider an on-line social media relationship with someone we have never physically met face to face, is that still considered friendship? Furthermore…is that type of friendship considered a valid one?

Of course, there is the risk of on-line predators or people who are not emotionally stable. Anyone can presume to be who they are not. On line dating is one example of a convoluted perception. The person can create the nicest and most amazing character persona on-line and are in actual fact the complete polar opposite. DANGER!!

People are using social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter may believe they have hundreds of “friends.” What percentage of those “so-called friends” are actually the real deal who truly care about them personally and have their best interests at heart? My guess is only a select few. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

Take Facebook for example. A social media site designed for “friends” who wish to create connections, share snippets and flashes of inspiration, support, personal news and lifestyles. Until the negative happens…and there is always a negative to every positive.

Someone who “likes” or “favors” tweets or posts can be a friend, although how many of them actually offer support and encouragement in that person’s life.

Then there is the Facebook friend who in news feed, unravels every detail of their private life, pouring their heart and soul out to anyone who will take the time to read and comment. They feel the need to spew all their issues out there. All that does is damage their reputation by creating judgement and character deprivation from all of their so-called best social media friends. Not good.

When we take a psychological approach to a select or specific group of people who spend most of their time chatting on-line or involved with various forms of social media, I wonder how many of them actually have a close connection with loyal, caring, or trusted friends. I bet most of them keep their physical relationships at arm’s length.

How far will someone go for a connection of friendship? For people uncomfortable in a real life social setting, this may be just what they need.

See the following link about a person who wants to have coffee with every single one of his Facebook friends. Interesting.

It’s fascinating to me, and I agree that people can find close common values and create bonds with others through social media sites and find significant value in that. I really have a hard time swallowing the idea that true friendship can come from something like social media alone.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what true friendship means to you



The Powerful Sense of Smell

I am going to tell you somewhat of an afterlife connection. I also would love to hear back from you to see if any of you may have had a similar experience.

I lived in Scotland until I was 8 years old. My Gran had a fascination with public washrooms or “toilets” as she would call them.  She was also an impeccably clean woman and dusted her house with pledge while she sipped on a wee cuppa tea. You can just imagine my feel good fond memory of her. A clean lemon and tea smelling house, and the fact she loved unique and classy toilets. Not just any toilets …but nice plush new ones. Shiny sinks, brass taps, and marble floors. In fact, years later when I moved to Canada, she would visit and everywhere we went she loved to visit and inspect the washrooms. I chalked it up to her funny personality. Never thought much more of it.

Well the years went by, and while I lived in Canada, she would send me lovely brown paper packages from the UK… wrapped up with string and all. They would contain some Marks and Spencer underwear and a few good Scottish sweeties. The best part was, when I opened the packages, I would get this overwhelming smell of tea and pledge. AHHH….was so wonderful and welcoming and brought me right back to my gran’s house in my mind. I felt so close to her, even if I was three and a half thousand miles away.

The years went on and she continued to send those packages at Christmas or a birthday, and each time I opened them I would get that lovely smell of my grans house.

Eventually she became ill, and the ovarian cancer had taken over her body. do.  It broke my heart.  She was staged into a hospice shortly afterwards . I was a young married new mother  living in  Canada, and didn’t have the money to go over there to see her. My father had been back and forth numerous times. My dad would tell me that she always looked up at the sky in the hospital and would say to him that she still had so much left in life that she wanted to do.  Unfortunately back then,  there was no  social media like facebook Skype, face time or even emails, so I had no way of communicating with her, other than a quick phone call.

The terrible day came one very early morning. My father phoned me and told me that my gran was gone. As you can imagine, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Overcome with emotion and grief, I got up, went downstairs and walked into my powder room only to smell this overwhelming scent of tea and pledge. It lasted maybe all of three seconds. I removed myself from the powder room and went right back in to find the scent gone.

I just remember thinking to myself and finding myself saying out loud..

”well, there is no better place to say goodbye Gran, than to come to me through my toilet”

It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It gave me closure to know she passed over to say goodbye.

Maybe it was my emotions that got the best of me, or maybe coincidence, or maybe not.

What do you think?

I would love to hear from anyone who may have had an experience like this.tea

The Difference Between Tasting and Drinking is Thinking.

I taste wine for a living. I am certain most of you who enjoy drinking wine are reading this and  thinking  “oh what a tough job”…and you know something….I dont blame you one bit!

The truth is, it is the farthest thing from glamorous, and not much fun at all. Granted, I do have a good job, and I am lucky to have the opportunity to taste over 100 plus wines every month. I am not ungrateful for my career, however, it is certainly very grueling and tedious, leaving me completely exhausted by the end of the tasting day.

“Yes, Gillian! Poor you!” as you continue to think while sipping on a lovely glass of silky, fruity Pinot Noir or a rich ripe juicy Malbec right now reading this.  I would like to mention that I too,  love a good glass of wine when I’m out with my friends or sitting down to a great food match.

However, when  we” taste” wine, by means of evaluating it,  we get much more out of the flavor profile when we are spitting it back out into a spittoon. “What a waste” you say.

Well, let me just say this….

I start evaluating a wine using the systematic approach to tasting, which I learned from my education from the www.wsetglobal.com.  It is a method of wine analysis used by professional wine tasters, writers, and global Masters of Wine.  See below for the steps I take to evaluate each and every wine.

Step 1. Look into the glass. Is the wine clean or unclean­­­­­? Are  particles floating in it? If its red wine,  I look at the colour. When a red wine is very young, it is usually purple. As it ages, it goes from a purple to ruby to garnet, and then almost lightens up to an iridescent orange opaque colour with long term aging. There, you can now evaluate a wine by not even taking a sip.

Step 2. This is where I use my most acute sense. The sense of smell. A scent can bring you right back to a childhood memory. It can tell us that we instantly like or dislike something or someone. I am not talking about body odour here, but the fact that the sense of smell is what attracts us to our lover, our children and our environment. When we like something, it intrigues us, and makes us happy…we want in…we want more. Wine can have a huge variety of different smells. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you are smelling in a wine is wrong. We all have different perceptions. There is no wrong answer. So all you wine snobs out there, not to insult your intelligence but …chill. It is fermented grape juice. Nothing serious about it.

Step 3. Taste. Our tongues can taste sweet at the tip,  (sugar) sour down the sides,  (acid) salty in the mid palate, (alcohol) and bitter in the back (tannin) What we are looking for here is textures, flavours and body. How does this taste on our tongue. is it balanced. Is everything in harmony.

Step 4. The Finish. This is  what we wine consultants refer to as the length. Here I make an educated evaluation on all of the above. To me, a fine wine, or a good quality wine should feel like an orchestra. Everything balanced and in harmony. If a wine has too much alcohol it becomes fat and flabby. If a wine is too acidic, it’s not balanced. I look for the proper balance of residual sweetness, weight and finish.

I hope I was able to enlighten you on the difference between tasting and drinking. When we drink we enjoy but we don’t necessarily think about what we are drinking too much. When we taste our brains are working on what we feel is quality to us.  Wine is the international language, and if we happen to be out with business clients, or strangers, and the conversation drags, you can always turn to wine conversation. Just make sure you are not spitting in the restaurant. There is certainly a  time and place for everything!

I would love to hear your thoughts and welcome you to share your own wine tasting experiences!

You can get more info on how to taste on the http://www.lcbo.com website under learn.






















The Healing Benefits of a Strangers Hug

The first time I had ever been exposed to the realm of social media was in 2002 when my son’s friend Jordan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. He was 12 years old and played on my son’s hockey team. I felt helpless. As a mother, I could not imagine what his parents were going through and it consumed me. My heart sank. Maybe it was because I could relate, having a child the same age. Maybe it was the fact that I witnessed this little goalie at hockey practice who could barely stand up in front of the net. Jordan wanted to play. Cancer or not, he was determined to be a brave and courageous warrior and nothing was going to stop him.

His mother could not cope. She started posting a journal with day to day updates on Jordan’s condition on www.caringbridge.org,  a website for people dealing with terminal illness. I logged on and began to read her heart wrenching posts. Unfortunately this did not end well. She took us through the last days of his life and reading her words brought me to tears. Through the months of postings I was amazed at the amount of friends, family and complete strangers in the community who would respond to her journal with such wonderful inspiring words of love, support and compassion. This woman was dealing with a parents worst nightmare, yet she was surrounded by a world of people who were right there beside her.

Since then, I have had other friends with family members dealing with cancer and terminal illness. When a family gets hit hard with a horrendous health shock like this, reaching out around you for a  physical support hug is just not enough.

Social media can have a profoundly positive impact on families dealing with a health crisis. They are vulnerable, desperate, weak and emotional. It becomes both therapeutic and comforting for them to post their thoughts and feelings out on user friendly personalized web sites such as www.mylifeline.org or www.gofundme.com.  They can draw from the support of friends and family and complete strangers who have gone through similar circumstances. It’s inspiring, motivational and it benefits everyone. This creates a whole lot of love and engagement for all who have been affected by a family illness.

Below is a photo of Jordan. His story can be read at www.moxam.org