Week 5 – Jan 28 – Feb 3, 2013 Changing Thoughts From Scarcity to Abundance

small__482085832I have too much stuff…not in a crazy hoarder way, but in small ways, like having four dust pans, and more mugs than will fit in the mug cupboard. For this week’s bettering yourself exercise, I am working on losing the fear of not having enough, and focusing on the belief that everything I need is readily available, so I can eliminate the clutter habit.

In an article written by Martha Beck titled: “When and How to Say “Enough!”, she says our thoughts about stuff dictate how much we accumulate. She describes the “just in time” business philosophy developed by Toyota Motor Company. They bought only enough supplies to keep the lines running and were efficient, unlike most companies who used the “just in case” model; accumulating stockpiles of supplies, leading to dysfunction and excess.

This week, I will apply the “just in time” business model to my household, and change my thoughts on clutter to get the lines running more proficiently at home, and I will let you know how it went next week.

photo credit: splorp via photopin cc

Week 4 Review – Jan 21 – 27, 2013 Finding Ways to Look Younger Than My Age

medium_6358224757My first step in tackling this week’s bettering yourself challenge was to buy a digital scale.  When I stepped onto it. Whoaah!  I need to lose another twenty pounds in addition to the twenty I thought I had to lose. But, what surprised me is I lost a half a pound a day, so four pounds this week!  I will continue to record my weight and eat healthy foods for the next 48 weeks to reach (or hopefully exceed) my goal of losing twenty pounds.

A bonus for me, is my husband joined me in trying to lose weight, and it’s great to have his support. My dog Rocko also hopped on the bandwagon to help me lose weight by taking me on extended walks to get more exercise.

Studies have shown that if you can change your behavior for three weeks, you increase your chances of making a permanent change in your behavior. I ate more lean protein and fruits and vegetables. Blueberries had more anti-oxidants than over 100 foods tested, so I ate ½ cup of blueberries every morning at breakfast, and I substituted pineapple and cantaloupe for desserts.

According to the Healthalicious website, oysters are an antedote to aging skin as they are high in zinc, which repairs damaged skin. Avacados and olive oil inject good oils into your skin, and watermelon and cucumbers hydrate the skin.  With the exception of oysters, I enjoyed all of these foods this week, and my skin felt softer.

Celebrity anti-aging tips:

One celebrity secret is to apply lip balm at night before bed to keep your lips moist. I tried this trick and it works. Norah Ephron said: “wear scarves” as the first skin to show age is on the neck. I love scarves, and wore them every day this week.  

Michelle Pfeifer, 54, says:  “Reduce stress, communicate with the people around you, and get a good sleep and exercise (keep moving). Try and keep your life happy and it will show in your smile, which makes you look younger if you smile.” I followed her advice and got to bed earlier, and it had the added benefit of lightening the dark circles under my eyes, which made me smile.

Make Peace with The Aging Process:

And lastly, Louise Hay, a lady who is 84 years young, has some sage wisdom: “I acknowledge the down side to aging…but you have to make peace with the aging process: “There’s no use making myself miserable about things I cannot change. We’re all going to age. I’ve just made a decision to take care of myself and love myself no matter what”.  Well Said!

/>photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/gwilmore/6358224757/”>gwilmore</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Seeing Oprah in Vancouver – Thurs Jan 24th, 2013


Ann and her sister with Faux-prah at Oprah in Vancouver Photo courtesy of Virgin Radio Vancouver

Ann and her sister with Faux-prah at Oprah in Vancouver
Photo courtesy of Virgin Radio Vancouver

You don’t usually find a pair of $700.00 French country nightstands at a garage sale, but Oprah Winfrey’s garage sale isn’t your usual garage sale. She is selling off many of her former favorite things in Santa Barbara this weekend, to fund a college education for girls at a school she set up in South Africa.

When Oprah came to Vancouver last January, she spoke to us in the audience about the underprivledged girls, many of whom had lost one or both parents, and many of whom were staying at Oprah’s house with her until they went off to college in the United States. Here is a re-post of my blog about the day I saw Oprah in Vancouver last January.

My sister and I were fortunate to count ourselves among the 16,000 fans at Rogers Arena in Vancouver last night, who gave Oprah Winfrey a standing ovation, to thank her for being an inspiration in our lives for the past 25 years.

She started the evening’s show by asking the audience: “Why are You Here?”

She says we all have a calling, and our job is to figure out what that calling is.  To figure out our calling, she says we have to look at the common thread that runs through our lives.  What have you done for yourself and others that makes a difference?  She says we must use our purpose in life to help ourselves first, and then to serve others, as the ultimate purpose of life is to serve others.

– Getting Paid:

Oprah says we must answer our calling, to realize our potential and to help others, even if we don’t get paid for it.  But, if we CAN get paid to do our calling, that’s even better.

– How Do You Know When To Act?:

Listen to the whispers in your head, as they are telling you what you should do.  If you ignore this inner voice, it will become like pebbles hitting your head, and if you continue to ignore it, it will eventually become a tsunami. Your thoughts create what you become, and you are responsible for your thoughts and your own life, so don’t wait for others to make things happen for you.

– How To Paint The Canvas That is Your Life:

She says your thoughts are creating who you want to become.  To become what you believe you must work hard, to prepare yourself to grab opportunities when they arise.  Oprah believes there is no such thing as luck – everything happens for a reason.  You create your life with your thoughts, actions, and intentions.

Oprah entertained the crowd for two hours by taking them on a guided photo, video and speaking tour of her life, which was sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful, and mostly inspirational.  She described how she discovered her life’s calling – “talking to crowds”, as a child, by speaking to the congregation in her church.

She said she always saw her calling as being a “teacher”. But her classrooms, are not your usual classrooms. In Vancouver, her “classroom” held 16,000 of us students.

For Oprah’s garage sale info: http://www.kaminskiauctions.com/

Salad in a Jar

Packing a lunch can save a lot of money over stopping at restaurants

An easy, healthy, environmentally friendly alternative to a bagged lunch


Salad in a Jar  (as seen on The Food Network).


Recipe For Salad in a Jar

Gather your favorite vegetables, and chop them up.  I chose carrots, cucumbers, red pepper, onions, and lettuce.  Drain the lettuce in a strainer.

First, pour salad dressing into the jar, then stack your vegetables on top of the dressing.  I put carrots in first, as they wouldn’t get soggy in the dressing. After chopping the onions, I rubbed my hands with my stainless steel soap bar (shown on the cutting board) to remove the smell of onions from my hands.  Next, I stuffed approximately 2 cups of lettuce into the large mason jar.


Sealing The Mason Jar

Then, put the round lid on top of the jar and press down hard with your thumb in the center to get a good seal. Tighten the metal ring around the top.

The salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.  You can eat the salad right out of the jar with a fork.  The salads are great for picnics too, as you can snap the lid back on if bees try to get in the jar.


Week 4 – Jan 21 – 27, 2013 – Ways to Look Younger Than My Age

small__5112483103For this week’s bettering yourself program I will continue to  work on losing weight each week by eating more fruits, vegetables and protein, stop buying cookies and chips, and exercise more.  Also, I will  research how the celebrities manage to look younger than they are, and see what fits my lifestyle and budget.  Next week I will let you know how it went.



Week 4 Review – Jan 21 – 27, 2013 Having Positive Thoughts about Aging

This week, as I meditated on my thoughts about aging each day, what I learned surprised me.  By watching my thoughts, I discovered that my thoughts are already youthful, and I feel at least 20 years younger than my biological age inside and am excited to continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge and experience.

It was my thoughts about my PHYSICAL APPEARANCE that weren’t so good. Like most of us, I am influenced by seeing magazines at the check-out with celebrities who are my age or older (Christie Brinkley is 58), but look much younger than they are.  I know their photos are airbrushed and photo shopped, and they have a large budget and staff for beauty treatments, but there must be some secrets or lifestyle choices that play a part too.

While aging is normal and unavoidable, and I must accept it, my physical appearance looks much older than I feel.  In our society, we automatically judge each other by our physical packaging; we have no other choice if we have never met the person before, so physical appearance is important.

When I looked in the mirror, Isaw what I could change – I can lose 20 pounds this year.  With 48 weeks to go, that is less than half a pound a week, which I can do by eating healthier and exercising more.

I noticed my clothes are dowdy, so I bought a new outfit at a great sale price this week.  I also noticed that my grey streaked long hair was being pulled into a pony tail, which made me look old, so I got an updated hairstyle.

I stumbled upon a really great hair stylist named Kalandra (what a pretty name!) at Aru Salon in White Rock who cut and styled my hair, and discussed coloring my hair to cover the grey and add highlights to create more body.







My Irish Tea Cup Reader Mom

My mom Kathleen, left, with her sister Sally, one of her six sisters.

My mom Kathleen, left, with her sister Sally, one of her six sisters, in their house  -Londonderry,  1940’s.



Those with Celtic blood – The Irish, Scottish and Welsh, are said to have more “fey”, or “gift of the sight”, than most. Reading the leaves in “cupan tae” ( Gaelic for cup of tea), was perfected in Ireland, a culture steeped in fairies and gypsies.

Mom may have obtained her gift for tea leaf reading by osmosis from the gypsy soothsayers and “seers of the otherworld” that rolled down her street in their caravans in Londonderry  when she was a child.

Tea leaf and wine sediment readings, called “tasseography”, date back to ancient civilizations in China and Greece.  In Ireland, tea first became available to the wealthy class in the early 1800’s, until a cheaper version became available to the masses in the late 1800’s and it caught on like bog fire.



Lots of milk was added to the strong, cheap, loose leaf tea, and it was left brewing on the stove all day, until you could stand a spoon up in it, according to Arbor Teas website.  Or as my Irish mom Kathleen said: “you could tar the road with it”.

Forever the prankster, Mom’s leaf reading journey began when she was in her 20’s, while working as a button-holer sewing shirts for British soldiers in Ireland during WWII.  One day she told a co-worker that she could read tea cups.  It must have been a fun escape at tea time from the repetitive piece work on the shirt factory floor.

The next day, mom received a gift from the girl, because “the parcel” she saw in the girl’s cup was waiting for her when she got home as mom predicted.



Given the copious amounts of tea the Irish consume, Mom would have had a few cups to read.  On The examiner.com website it says:  “there is no country in the entire world that drinks as much tea per capita as Ireland. On average, Irish citizens drink four cups of tea a day and some drink six or more. It is not uncommon for a pot of tea to be left brewing on the stove all day. An afternoon tea break is socially mandatory whether at meetings, or a convention.”

When asked how she could read the cups Mom said: “I make up lies and people believe me”.  But giving free readings with accurate predictions sealed her fate.  She soon became the reluctant tea leaf reader for the family of eleven that she grew up in, and others that she knew in the area where her ancestors had lived for centuries.

Mom did less tea cup reading after she moved to Canada in the 1950’s, but she always did it when we visited my Aunt Bernie’s house in Vancouver after mass in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  My aunt (her sister) in her Irish lilt, would ask: “Kay, will you read me cup?”  Mom would gaze away, waiting to be persuaded: “oh come on Kay” she would say.  This served to heighten the aura of her special powers. Then her grey blue eyes would soften, as she would grant her sister’s wish.



Us kids had no computers or Ipods to occupy us back then, so all the little ears of her kids, and nieces and nephews in the house would hear their conversation, and gather around the kitchen table like snakes being lured into a box by Saint Patrick, to witness the mysterious custom from that magical land far, far, away that the sisters spent so many hours reminiscing about.

It was fun for us kids to bust up tea bags in the pot, guzzle down the cups of tea, and swirl around the last drops in the cups to spread the leaves,

then sit and wait patiently, cups in hand.  When she held my cup, the jokester would say: ” it’s Annie, the Tea Granny”.


As Mom’s delicate hand snatched each of our cups, she turned them towards us, and revealed the shape of a new coat in the tea leaves for the cold weather, or the shape of a bus, which meant you were going on a “wee trip”. We visualized the pictures through her eyes.

When my hubby and I visited our lovely relatives in Ireland in the 1980’s, they gave us cups of tea along with large plates of fish and chips, or a full meal.  It was high tea, a social gathering, even at 10pm.  We knew no thirst or hunger on the hospitable Isle.

Mom passed away a few years ago, and I cherish the memory of the fading art of reading the leaves, and the special “tae” times we shared.


Shelley Fralic’s Favorite Things – Oprah coming to Vancouver


In honor of Oprah coming to Vancouver next week, Shelley Fralic, columnist with “The Vancouver Sun” newspaper wrote a column today Sat. Jan 19th, asking readers to send in a list of their favorite things.

Shelley is one of Ann’s muses as I have admired her writing for years, and would be happy with half of her writing talent.

Oprah is one of Ann’s inspirational people because of her amazing story of self-realization and because she uses her wealth and power to benefit so many people on earth.

Shelley notes that Oprah is famous for telling us her “favorite things” which can include luxurious items that our out of the price range of most of us. Shelley is asking for some of the best things in life which are free. Or as she says: “what will I miss when I die?”

Shelley’s list is in Saturday’s paper at www.vancouversun.com. I sent in my list to her, will you send her yours? Email it to: SFralic@vancouversun.com, with “Favorite Things” in the subject line, and they will publish the best ones.

Here’s Is My List:

– My dog Rocko asleep at my feet at night, a warm, peaceful, snuggly foot warmer full of love and loyalty.

– Opening my husband’s Christmas gifts – small elegant packages of scarves, perfume and bracelets I would never indulge myself with.

– Drinking my herbal tea recipe for what ails me, combining:
one bag of licorice root tea
one bag of spearmint tea
one bag of green tea.

– Eating a bowl of my labor intensive spaghetti. Its’ tomato sauce with sliced peppers, celery, onions, garlic, with a big dash of sinus-clearing curry powder.

– Hearing my three sons jamming in the basement – one on bass, one on guitar, and one on drums – music to my ears!

-Planting hanging baskets from starter plants in the spring, and nurturing them till they bloom and spill over the pots in trails of vibrant colors and shapes.

– Escaping the stifling heat of the house in August and laying suspended in my hammock in the back yard in the dying evening sun, with only me and the birds, and a gentle breeze to cool my skin.

– My fur lined winter boots to keep my feet warm and dry in the Canadian winter.

– Making all the green lights when I’m late.

– Looking at the twinkling stars and planets in the night sky after many days of rainfall when the air is spotlessly clear.

Photo credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/h_dwight_beers/3385236760/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/h_dwight_beers/3385236760/

Week 3 – Jan 14 – 20 – Having a Positive Attitude about Aging

This week I am working on having a POSITIVE ATTITUDE ABOUT AGING.  Since all of our habits begin with our thoughts, I am going to change my thoughts about aging, and focus on growing and learning and being excited about my future, not fearful.

One of my inspirational people, Louise Hay, is 86 years old, and is still inspiring people all over the world, making videos,  writing books, and maintaining an ageless quality about her.  Since people are living longer now,  Louise says 75 is the new middle age.  The way I see it, I am never going to be as young as I am now, so this week I am going to celebrate my continued youth with positive affirmations and meditations on good health, happiness and and holding onto my personal power and control as I age.

Next week I will give you the results of my mental attitude adjustment on aging and let you know how it went.

Photo credit: Every stock photo.

Review of “You and Your Future”, By: Georgia Nicols

You and Your Future book review

You and Your Future is witty and apt

I digested all 608 delicious pages of “You and Your Future, by Georgia Nicols this week, for my 52 weeks to optimizing yourself topic: “Read More Books”.  Each evening, as night became morning, my eyes closed, and then the book closed.

Every culture has an astrological system to explain our connection to the solar system. Astrology explains how the positions of the planets at our birth connects to our life, and how the planetary cycles predict future activity. Astrologists draw from ancient wisdom, or what skeptics call superstition, but we are fascinated with our connection to the universe, and that is why astrology remains extremely popular, and is so much fun.

This book is a good read whether you follow your horoscope or not. There’s nothing funnier than seeing all the foibles of my Aquariousness. With humor and pathos, Georgia makes you laugh at your own quirks and those of your family and friends.  Georgia’s gift is to help us understand ourselves and each other through the study of astrology.


Capturing the essence of each sign, Georgia shows how each sign interacts in various roles, going back to 1985, then forecasting ahead to 2025. It includes a treasury of quotes from famous people who are typical examples of their sign.  Even skeptics will recognize themselves in this book.

I found it touching the way Georgia tries to lighten the load of her readers like a good friend, giving tips on how to be happier in your own skin.  She hopes the book:“Can help you learn more about yourself, help you to better plan your future, and help you to get a better handle on your life.”

The book is organized in the same format for all twelve zodiac signs, and you can skip through easily for reference and refer back to it for years to come.

The position of the sun when we were born is our sign, and represents our personality. The moon represents our feelings, but our rising sign is the mask we present to the world, or our “game face”.  The book has a chart to calculate your rising sign.  Each sign has a ruling planet, and the sun and moon are known as “planets” in astrology.

Each sign also has an opposite sign in the zodiac, but they are like two ends of a plank that share the same energy.  The twelve signs are on six planks as follows, and to live better, we should be more like our opposite sign:

Aries…….Libra,   Taurus…..Scorpio,   Gemini…..Sagittarius, Cancer….Capricorn,
, Virgo…..Pisces

Eastern ohio wind chime.  I am new at photogrpahy, any criticism would be greatly appreciated!

Here are some goodies about your sign that are in the book:

Aries (Mar 21 – Apr 19) likes winning, being first, and is courageous, but can be hot tempered, and to be happier they will benefit from practicing patience.

Taurus (Apr 20-May 20) is ruled by Venus, the God of beauty and love, and likes the good things in life.  To be happier, and to avoid being defined by material things, which bring pleasure, they can perform acts that bring them true happiness, like helping a loved one.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) likes witty people and lively conversation, is a great communicator, but may be looking for their “twin”, to complete them, so have a “grass is always greener” outlook.  Happiness comes from practicing acceptance, gratitude and appreciation for what they are and have.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) is the nurturer of the zodiac and likes sailing and boats. Their sign is ruled by the moon, so they are moody, and tenacious, and to be happier they can learn to let go of hurts and painful experiences like things people say or do, and live in the present.

Leo (July 23 – Aug 22) is the limelight, and loves movies, compliments, and is generous and warm-hearted. Their pride can be an obstacle, so the way to be happier, is to realize that they are special, but so is everyone else

Virgo (Aug 23 – Sept 22) drives for perfection, like pets and a clean house and is altruistic. To be happier, they can become less self-critical by doing visualizations to increase their love for themselves and others.

Libra (Sept 23 – Oct 22) likes beauty, nice restaurants and nice clothes. They dislike arguments. To be happier, they can let go of relationships if they are making them give up their individuality and power.

Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21) likes Halloween, art and poetry, is accomplished and sexy. Their passionate intensity is their strength, but also their biggest problem.  Therefore, to be happier, they can stay in the present moment and not focus on the wrongs of the past or fear of the future.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 21) likes animals, travel, the outdoors, and is ruled by Jupiter (love), but they can hide from their own painful emotions and those of loved ones with their easy breezy attitude.  To be happier, it’s better to acknowledge that those painful feelings are real.

Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19) likes tradition, reading, painting, music and is the ruler of structure.  To be happier, and to gain more self-respect, they can focus on all the things they get accomplished in a day.

Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18) likes gadgets, planes and new inventions, rules astrology and buzzes with electricity, (my feet get shocks when I walk near power lines).  They want to make the world better, but can be rebellious. To be happier, they should ask why they sabotage their success – do they want success or not, does it limit their freedom, or do they fear it?

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 20) likes shoes, dancing, fantasy and make-believe, but likes to escape unpleasantness.  To be happier, they can use their ability to fantasize to bring good results to their life, and use their compassion to do something kind for someone else.

The book can be purchased at Chapters… $25 plus tax = or you can go on line and

buy it from amazon.ca  for $15.64 plus delivery  = $20


Photos: Every Stock Photo Website)



Blogging over Spilled Milk

My philosophy on life is the glass is always half full, or the bowl, in this case.

One morning, my 16 year old son slept through his alarm, setting off a chain of events in his wake.

He ate his bowl of cereal on the drive to school to avoid being late. When we arrived at the door of the school, he handed he bowl of leftover milk to me. End of story for him.

Most of the cereal was gone, but the bowl was still almost full to the top with milk. I knew then why I was buying 4 litres of milk a day.

I drove away, my van hurdling over the huge slanting speed bumps in the parking lot, and swaying from side to side like a ferryboat. I steadied the splashing bowl of milk in my lap, but my jeans felt like they had been soaked by freezing arctic waves.

I made a note  to myself: stop home and change before going to the store to buy more milk.

Something brushed my leg, and suddenly I saw my dog Rocko’s head in my lap, licking the bowl of milk.

I raised the bowl and regained control of the steering wheel with the other hand as I didn’t want to see the explosion that would occur if Rocko had drank the bowl of Raisin Bran soaked milk.

My son was unhappy that I was blogging about this. He said: “I’m never going to do that again, or you’ll blog about it”.

Yahoo! Thank God for blogs! I bought smaller bowls and no longer do the daily milk run, and he’s been waking up with his alarm.

Cereal bowl is always half full not half empty

Cereal bowl is always half full not half empty