how I navigate the January blues.

After a few weeks of excitement, joy, celebrations and consuming my entire body weight in chocolatey goodness, it’s back to real life for many of us. The decorations have been taken down and my house looks quite dull and bare, I feel sick and lethargic after eating so much and I’ve already managed to overwhelm myself with my ever growing to-do list. On a day like today, where it has been chilly and wet all day, it’s difficult not to sink into a wallowing state of mind.

It’s not a new thing, really – I go through the same cycle at the start of every year, but each time I have found ways to cope a little better.

I create a list of things to look forward to. I love planning things that make me happy, and I have spent some time this morning writing down all the things that I can look forward to over the next year. I have it saved into my phone and whenever I am feeling down it will serve as a reminder that there are lots of positive experiences waiting for me in the future.

I try and do at least the minimum. I often get extremely excited about an idea, throw myself into it wholeheartedly, quickly burn out and lose motivation. So, instead of looking at the big picture I have given myself a set of small tasks and have put them into a daily and weekly timetable in my Bullet Journal. Each task is small and easily achievable, based upon the fact that they take no time and effort at all. I adopt the idea that if I can at least do the minimum, the sense of achievement will encourage me to build it up slowly over a period of time rather than overwhelming myself.

I tidy up and de-clutter. Tyson and I had a huge sort out the other day while putting away the holiday decorations and it made me feel much better. There’s more space, it feels more organized and I can breathe again.

I always try and do something good for someone else. Whether it is making a donation to my favourite charity, sending someone a card or inviting a friend over for coffee. I am determined to make this month, and indeed the rest of the year nicer for those around me.

I create a set of playlists. Music has always been the driving force behind my life, and there isn’t a single day that goes by in which I don’t listen to my favourite tracks. Some carefully crafted playlists to reflect different moods will certainly cheer me up when things are tough.

I allow myself time each day just for me, even if it’s just half-an-hour before going to bed. Whether it is simply reading a book or taking a hot bubble bath, I try and reward myself a small amount of time to relax and recover from the day. Adopting a Hygge lifestyle has worked wonders.

I attempt to get more sleep. Of course, those who have children (or those, like myself who have spent the last three evenings binge watching Netflix) will rarely get amount of shut-eye they will need, but it’s a well-known fact that a restful sleep will lighten the mood. Go to bed half-an-hour earlier than usual. Don’t get sidetracked by checking your phone or tablet – read a few pages of a book or just concentrate on relaxing the muscles and breathing deeply.

I organize myself and do things that will make each day a little less stressful – prepare meals in bulk and freeze them so they can be reheated later, pack lunches the night before, make a note of friends and family who have birthdays over the month, write, address and stamp cards in advance… It’s the little things that will allow more time for yourself in the long run.

I make small changes in my diet. A balanced diet will result in more energy, and this is something that I am working on at the minute. It’s more of a case of moderation than cutting things out completely.

I spend time with my favourite people. This may look different this year unfortunately but it is something I usually do post holidays as a time to catch up and reset. It’s small opportunities to spend some quality time with people who will lift you up.

And most importantly, I repeatedly remind myself that this is the start of a brand new year, with endless possibilities. The idea that I can achieve anything always makes me feel better!

What about you guys? Are you experiencing the January blues? What are you doing to get yourself out of it?

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10 Benefits of face-steaming and how to do it at home.

One of my favourite birthday presents this year was a facial steamer. After a few weeks of using it, I found myself wondering how I was able to live 31 years previously without one.

What does steaming do for your skin?

It’s cleansing. Steam opens up your pores and helps to loosen any buildup of dirt for a deeper cleanse. Opening up your pores also softens blackheads, making them easier to remove.

It promotes circulation. The combination of warm steam and an increase in perspiration dilates your blood vessels and increases circulation. This boost of blood flow nourishes your skin and delivers oxygen, resulting in a natural, healthy glow.

It releases acne-causing bacteria and cells. Opening up your pores allows the release of dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities that clog the pores and contribute to acne.

It releases trapped sebum. This naturally occurring oil is produced by your sebaceous glands to lubricate your skin and hair. When sebum gets trapped beneath your skin’s surface, it essentially creates a breeding ground for bacteria and causes acne and blackheads. (ewww!)

It’s hydrating. Steam hydrates the skin by helping to increase oil production, naturally moisturizing the face.

It helps your skin better absorb skin care products. Steam increases your skin’s permeability, allowing it to better absorb topicals. This means you get more bang for your buck from skin care products applied after a steam!!

It promotes collagen and elastin. The increased blood flow experienced during a steam facial promotes collagen and elastin production which translates into firmer, younger-looking skin.

It’s soothing. The feeling of warm steam on your face is incredibly relaxing. Add some soothing scents using herbs or essential oils for aromatherapy to take your steam sesh to a whole new level!

It helps with sinus congestion. Steam can help relieve sinus congestion and headaches that often accompany it. Again, by adding certain essential oils to your steam, you can boost the effects.

It’s affordable and accessible. You don’t need to dish out big bucks for a steam facial at a spa to enjoy the benefits; it can be done at home using items you already have.

There are different techniques.

There are a few ways you can enjoy this versatile skin treatment at home. It can really be as simple and free or as luxe and costly as you — and your wallet — choose.

Here’s a step-by-step description for each technique.

To steam over a bowl or sink of hot water.

  1. Grab a big fluffy towel and choose your spot. Comfort is key, so if you’re doing this over a sink you’ll want to use a chair or stool that offers the right height. Otherwise, a bowl on a table is your best bet.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face (you may want to use a headband for this) and cleanse using a gentle exfoliating cleanser. Don’t forget to cleanse your neck, too!
  3. Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil in a kettle or pot, depending on the size of the sink or bowl.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Carefully pour into the sink or bowl. If you’re using essential oils, this is the time to add a few drops to the water.
  5. Have a seat, drape your towel over your head and the pot, and hold your face 6 inches above the water.
  6. Raise or lower your head for more or less heat and lift a corner of the towel to cool off if needed.
  7. Steam your face for 5 to 10 minutes.

To steam with warm towels.

  1. Get a hand towel and turn on the hot water tap. When hot, fill your sink or bowl with enough hot water to soak your towel.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face (you may want to use a headband for this) and cleanse your face and neck using a gentle exfoliating cleanser.
  3. Soak your towel in the hot water and wring it out so that the towel is damp.
  4. Lean back in a comfy chair or lie down. Place the towel on your face, holding each corner up so they meet in the center of your forehead.
  5. Adjust the towel so that it covers your entire face, including the eyes, leaving just your nose peeking through. Relax for 5 minutes.

To steam with a home facial steamer. – my new obsession!

  1. Read your facial steamer’s instructions, filling it up as directed. Place it on a table near an outlet so you can plug it in. It could take a few seconds or a minute to begin emitting steam.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face and wash your face using a gentle exfoliating cleanser.
  3. Have a seat, get comfortable, and set your face inside the cone attachment, staying 5 to 10 inches away as it says to do in your steamer’s instruction booklet.
  4. Steam for 2 or 3 minutes at a time with a 1-minute break in between to see how your skin is handling the steam.

Facial steamers offer a more powerful steam than the other methods.

How to choose your base.

At the end of the day, the base you choose for steaming your face won’t make the steaming any less beneficial, but some bases may offer even more perks.

It comes down to personal preference and budget:

  1. Tap water. Tap water is accessible and free, however be careful with this method when using a home facial steamer. Hard still water can damage your machine overtime. Plus, the water you use and the bacteria in it, it going right into your wide open pores.
  2. Distilled or spring water. These would be your best choices, I personally use distilled water in my home facial steamer. You could also use distilled or spring water, though there’s no evidence to suggest that one is actually better than the other for steaming.
  3. Tea. Beauty teas offer health benefits that are good for you from the inside out, like antioxidants. They’re also supposed to help your body release toxins. Research has found that green tea and others that contain polyphenols have protective and anti-aging benefits when applied topically.

So, could or should you use herbal tea as your base for steaming? Absolutely!

How hot, how long, and how often?

A steam burn is actually much more damaging than a burn from boiling water, so you need to be especially careful when steaming your face.

To lower your risk of burns, avoid putting your face too close to the steam. Increase the distance as needed for you to be comfortable. Water should be warm, not hot, if you’re using the towel method.

If you are using a home facial steamer, I recommend steam your face once or twice a week for the best results. Limit each steam session to around 10 minutes to avoid irritating your skin. It is not a bad idea to set a timer for 5 minutes and re-evaluate after that for the first few times.


  • Hydrate. Drinking water before exposing yourself to heat of any kind is a good idea, so drink some water before you begin.
  • Cleanse. Wash your face using a gentle cleanser with an exfoliator so your skin is ready to reap all the rewards of steaming.

During the steam.

  • Keep your eyes closed. You’ll be more comfortable, you won’t risk irritating your eyes, and you can allow your eyelids to enjoy the benefits of the steam.
  • Keep your face 6 to 10 inches away. You don’t want to get too close to the bowl or sink and risk getting burned. Listen to your skin and do what feels comfortable.
  • Follow directions if using a facial steamer. Read the instruction booklet and use your facial steamer as directed.

Immediately after.

  • Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Your skin will be extra sensitive, so you don’t want to irritate it by rubbing with a towel.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or serum. The effects of your moisturizer or serum will be enhanced after a steam, so use something that nourishes. If you’re after younger looking skin, this is a great time to use an anti-aging cream.
  • Massage your face. What better way to end a relaxing face steam than with a gentle face massage? Use your fingers to gently massage your forehead, cheeks, and neck using upward strokes. Unless you have oily or sensitive skin, you can use a bit of facial oil to enhance your massage.

Possible side effects and risks.

Steam can cause serious burns, so keeping a safe distance from the source of the steam is a must. If you’re steaming your face using the damp towel method, make sure the towel is warm — not hot.

If you have rosacea, you might want to skip facial steaming. The heat dilates blood vessels, which contribute to redness.

Though steaming can hydrate the skin, people with very dry skin and eczema should use extra caution. Limit steam sessions to just a couple of minutes to avoid irritation.

To all my early holiday shoppers… this makes a great gift!

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tales from the other side of the bar.

I was chatting with a girlfriend the other week and we were reminiscing on our old lives as servers and bartenders trying to make a living. It has been nearly 8 years since I left that world but occasionally it’s fun to take that trip down memory lane. Of all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, one of my favourites was working behind the bar in different bars and nightclubs. Of course, any job that involves dealing with the public (particularly when alcohol is involved) is always challenging, but despite it being a physically and mentally exhausting, I absolutely loved it. I loved the staff, the interaction with the customers, the music, the atmosphere, the DJ’s – on a good night it was almost like being paid for a night out with my favourite people!

After a few years I found that the same characters appeared in every establishment:

  • The permanently drunk and often borderline abusive regulars who assumed that their regularity commanded special treatment over everyone else.
  • The ones looking for a fight.
  • The snobs who looked down on the staff because they were in a service sector.
  • The business wannabes who were trying to impress their boss and potential clients by buying expensive rounds whilst loudly guffawing at a poor joke that their colleagues were making.
  • The coin tappers.
  • The ‘hey! I was next’ impatient boys in their early 20’s.
  • The underage who nervously avoided eye contact while attempting to order a triple vodka and cran (which is technically illegal to serve).
  • The people who became incensed when they were refused service despite the fact that they could barely stand up by themselves.
  • The men who would try and chat up the female staff in an attempt to get served quicker.
  • The women who would try and chat up both the male and female staff in an attempt to get served quicker.

It was a truly glamorous job at times.

Eight years since I last stood behind a bar, there are still a few characters that are still memorable.

Miller Man: This guy turned up every Friday night with a different beautiful woman on his arm. He ordered two bottles of Miller, then spent the rest of the evening feeling his date up in the corner. I came to the conclusion that he possessed one of three things: an incredibly charming personality, massive wallet (highly unlikely considering that he only ever bought two bottles of beer each night) or a massive… ahem… mini Miller Man hiding down below.

Hot Chocolate Man: He was short and stumpy and always ordered a hot chocolate without marshmallows. We didn’t serve marshmallows and I repeatedly told him so but he continued to order the same thing every time he came in. I came to find out he also happened to be one of the biggest drug dealers in the area.

The Angry Men: A couple of men, who were incensed at being removed, decided to steal a car from outside and smashed it through the front doors of the nightclub. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the club went into lockdown and we were all moved into the middle of the dance floor in the main room. I only worked there for 3 weeks before deciding Downtown Toronto was a little too much for me.

Mr Tits-Pervert: This man seemed to think that my boobs were trained in pouring pints. It wasn’t uncommon for men to order their drinks while staring at my chest, but this guy made it more than obvious. In fact, he never looked anywhere else during the entire process. He was more than capable of making eye contact with his friends, just not with the female bar staff. Creep.

The Eternal Cryer: She would arrive each weekend night looking beautifully made up. She would be smiling and laughing with her friends and obviously had the intention of a good night out. However, every time I saw this woman at the end of the night she was crying – her make-up had run down her face and she was snotting on the shoulder of one of her friends. Clearly she couldn’t handle her alcohol – it made me wonder why she bothered to put make-up on in the first place.

The Urinator: One guy at the end of the night seemed to take ages when ordering his drink. I found out later that his delay was caused by the fact that he was busy urinating down the front of the bar and couldn’t multitask by talking at the same time. Stay classy my friend.

Miss No-Knickers: This woman was beautiful and her regular outfit of choice was always a neon Lycra mini-skirt, a bra and a pair of shoes. That was it. I admired her confidence. However, let’s just say that when she bent over it was obvious that underwear had not been taken into consideration when planning her night. She liked to bend over a lot. Funny, but most of the male security guards didn’t seem to mind.

I love my current life, but I sometimes miss the carefree nature of those days, especially now in this covid world where nights like these seem to far away.

I like to think that somewhere, the little Hot Chocolate Man got his marshamallows…

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