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PostHeaderIcon Skin Care Essentials from a Pro

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Summer fun in chlorinated swimming pools and hanging out in the sun can harm your skin. But there are ways to keep it looking and feeling great. We sat down with  Hanan Tayeb-Doe, a holistic esthetician who works at Essential Body Works in Danville to get some tips on skin care. She has been in the business for 7 years and was trained at Paris Beauty College in Concord. She told us what keeps her clients looking fresh and radiant and advised us on five things you can do to keep your skin glowing all year round.

Daily regiment. The most important things a woman can do on a daily basis are:
Wash her face in the morning and at night with a natural cleanser appropriate for her skin type. Moisturize with mineral sun protection in the morning and use a night oil or moisturizer (without sun block) at night. Also, eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

Treat the whole body.  In Hanan’s care,  women won’t have a bunch of creams and oils rubbed on their skin and then be sent on their way. She talks with clients about nutrition, stress management, skin care tricks to do at home and tips for different skin types. If a woman has a skin problem, Hanan works to get to the root of the problem. She also concentrates on movements, facial massage for lifting the circulation and pressure points to alleviate stress and boost the immune system. She also changes treatments each time a client comes in. Skin care is like exercise, if you don’t do something different, you won’t get the results you want, she says.

Drink water. Hanan says that the amount of water a woman should drink everyday varies. She suggests that if people are making a conscious effort to drink more water and then they hit a point where they are just forcing it down, it's time to put the water bottle away for the day. If you drink coffee then keep in mind that for every cup you drink, you should drink two 8oz. glasses of water to rehydrate after the caffeine.

Skin care evolution. “From the beginning I have been researching ingredients and how they really affect our skin and I truly believe natural is better,’’ she says. Products should be free of parabens and sulfates, and filled with vitamins and herbs. At the supermarket and drug store, products can claim they are "all natural," but customers should always read the labels. Just because it says “all natural" doesn't mean it is.

Go see Hanan. “I just want people to look and feel as beautiful as they are on the inside. Also, I always make it easy for people to get a hold of me. I have clients call me or email me for advice on skin care, If I've heard of a product and what I think of it or just a skin issue and advice on what to do about it,'' she says. Skin By Hanan is located in Essential Body Works at 790 San Ramon Valley Blvd. in Suite 100 in Danville. She can be reached at 925-519-0358 or emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . --KB


Last Updated (Thursday, 25 August 2011 00:06)


PostHeaderIcon Want to Get Slim? Buy the Book, Get Discounts

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Do you struggle with your weight? Are you the mom who gained weight after having kids and is finding it hard to take it off? Or, the one who looks at super-slim women and wonders “are they naturally thin or very controlled about their diet and exercise routines?”

Ever since college, I have struggled with my weight. I was obsessed with new fad diets such as calorie restriction, low-fat, low-carb, cabbage soup, Acai berry, the Zone, South Beach, and the Grapefruit, Lemonade, and Special K diets! I have fallen off the wagon and eaten pizza (many slices at one sitting) and ice cream. Whole tubs of it. Entire packages of pasta.

And my personal weakness, Thai food. Lots of it.

A couple years into marriage, I experienced such hunger pangs during pregnancy that I ate on the hour, round the clock. After all, this was the proverbial time of life that one could simply eat and not be judged—a great excuse to enjoy food! Well, by the time my second child was born, I was the heaviest I'd ever been, but hey, I was a mom, right?

Nonetheless, I vowed to watch what I ate—that is, until the next hunger pang came along, and I didn't exactly feel like giving up the bagels and pasta! I thought about joining a gym, but already had an exercise bike at home, so why spend the money? So I got on it. But somehow, because I was “exercising,” I also allowed myself to eat more. So when the nice lady next door came over with some holiday treats, I had three pieces. Uh-oh... The next day, I hesitantly stepped on the scale. I knew then that I had a problem, a serious problem that wasn't getting better, but in fact was getting worse. Not only was I obsessed with losing weight and dieting, but I was failing, and gaining weight. This scared me!

I wanted to lose weight, but was constantly hungry. To put it bluntly, my body wasn't budging. My mother would say, "You have two young children, give yourself a break. That's how mommies look!" But I wasn’t sure that was the case entirely, as I
would see other moms back to their skinny selves. I would wonder to myself if they were naturally thin, or if they were actually disciplined about their diet and exercise routines. Casually, I asked a few women how they did it.

They'd tell me different things such as, "Just walk" or "Yeah, I just breast-fed, and I snapped right back!" Or it might be, "Well, I've always been thin, and I only gained 20 pounds when I was pregnant" or "If I want to lose a little weight, I just watch my carb intake for a few days and weight just falls off." I even went so far as to jokingly ask my super skinny, ribs-sticking-out, seven-year-old, gymnastics-loving daughter what her secrets were. She took my query quite seriously, and made a list that is displayed prominently on our refrigerator.

It says, "How to Get Skinny, by Lara"

1.    Don’t eat a lot of junk food.

2.    Walk up and down the stairs lots of times.

3.    Do exercise bike every day.

4.    Run or walk or jog places.

5.  Do grown-up gymnastics.

Very wise—diet and exercise! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?! No matter what answers I got and from whom, I knew in my heart that there was more to it than that. I was indeed missing some important pieces to the puzzle.

All those skinny women out there... it couldn't all be just genetics. I thought to myself, “Well, why not go ahead and just ask these women for their insider secrets, and not just a little piece of advice they could pass off while waiting for the kids after school.” I would ask a LOT of women a LOT of questions. I would find out the real deal. I desperately wanted to be thin again! I even had a cartoon drawn of myself at my ideal weight. Having someone sketch you thin is a lot easier than diet and exercise—LOL!  But I wondered how exactly to lose weight, and keep it off, for good.

So, in typical investigative fashion, I went about gathering the myriad profiles contained in this book in order to uncover, and ultimately divulge, the secrets of the sexy and slim. I wanted to know precisely what people ate, how much, when, were they always thin, and if not, what they did about it. Did they drink a lot of water, use supplementation? What were their fitness routines, and did they include weight training? What attitudes and philosophies did they embody? And anything and everything else I could think of, I would ask them.

I wanted to find out if their skinniness was a force of nature, luck of the draw, or a matter of discipline at work! I set out to uncover some answers and to offer inspiration to those in need of a strategy. Inside this book, you will find many insider secrets to shedding those unwanted pounds once and for all, so that you can be healthy, feel fabulous, and get back into your favorite jeans again! Candidly sharing their personal stories, these 101 contributors range from women who were born with the coveted thin gene to those who struggled to learn exactly what it takes to maintain their slim figures. Is She Naturally Thin or Disciplined? shows that it is possible to look and feel great, no matter what your age, size, or body type.-- SS

Last Updated (Wednesday, 20 July 2011 23:32)


PostHeaderIcon 18,000-Mile Trip Shines Light on Kids' Health

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At a time when Army mess hall menus are being modified for better nutrition, toy treats are being taken out of fast food Happy Meals, and school lunch programs are under scrutiny for providing adequate nutrients versus calories, a new and worthy independent study is in the mix.

Bay Area natural chef and nutritionist, Patty James has just completed an 18,000-mile, cross-country Kid’s Health Tour, visiting 41 states over an 8-month period this year.  The founder of Shine the Light on Kids, a California nonprofit, she went on the road to get insight into kids' eating habits and what they think it means to be healthy.

Funded with her own savings, she embarked upon the quest to bring children’s nutritional needs into the spotlight and ultimately develop solutions through educational programs.

Traveling in her personal RV, equipped with an efficiency kitchen, video camera and computer, James was alone for most of her trip. 

 “It was a personal journey and something I had to do alone,” she said.  She passed the time listening to music and Spanish learning tapes. Her two dogs were faithful companions throughout the trip. 

As she traveled, she met and interviewed kids from all socioeconomic strata, gathering a broad sampling about eating and health habits in all regions of the United States.  Differences in their personal values were found to be slight, with a universal need to feel loved, secure and be given attention.  They also have a need for good, healthy food. Through a 25-question, 10-minute casual chat with each child, ages 6 to 18, she gathered data to be complied for analysis by Dr. Susan Herring at Sonoma State University.

All questions were age-sensitive, in simple terms--- eliciting answers to how each child feels about what foods are healthy, foods that can give you quick energy, effect mood, thinking and school work. She also asked them about if they cook, grow a garden, eat at a table with others or understand how to read package labels.  Many of the children said they know about the nutritional content labels on pre-packaged foods.

On the survey, healthy eating habits were certainly not the majority, with responses about eating vegetables ranging from "none at all" to "very few: and fast food breakfasts not uncommon.  Snacks, sodas and junk food ranked high as priorities for quick energy and taste preference. 

“I love kids,” James said, adding that she was immediately comfortable with them and a trusting rapport developed naturally.  On video, they appear at ease, candid and honest, no stage fright or reluctance to share their stories. And, seeing her in action during the interviews, it is obvious that her super-charged energy and cheery personality met with the kids’ approval.  

As a first step in developing an innovative set of teaching programs to address the nutritional needs of school-age children everywhere, James is utilizing the candid responses of the youth. 

She cites the greatest risk to health in modern times as diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions, even with children.  On the list of questions is one asking if the child understands what diabetes is and if he or she is living a lifestyle to prevent it.  Many children said they had heard of it.

 The ultimate goal of her project is directed toward children living healthier, happier and more productive lives, with the motto “Educate-Empower-Change."  James is enthusiastic and optimistic that “It’s never too late” to raise awareness and redirect kids onto the right path to a well-balanced lifestyle.  Suggestions offered include:  encourage children to be part of the process of properly preparing fresh food at home; allow them healthy choices; set an example as a model parent; eat together as a family, setting aside this uninterrupted, quiet time to bond with them and discuss the events of the day.

Her philosophy is simple:  “Eating well is not only possible in the busy life you lead, it is essential to living a balanced life.  Through the process and pleasure of cooking we recognize the connection of all beings to each other.  Food is more nurturing to body and spirit when we are part of the process.”

As the founder of the first Certified Organic cooking School and Nutritional Center in the country, James advises “Healthy Kitchens=Healthy Lives.” As a vital health educator and nutrition coach, she shares her positive ideals on her Internet health blog.  

With a specialty in Holistic Nutrition, James collaborated with Dr. Elson Haas as co-author of the book “More Vegetables, Please!  Over 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes for Eating Healthy Foods Each and Everyday”.  A guest on local daytime TV show, View From the Bay,  she demonstrated how to provide added fresh vegetables to an intriguing Garden Cake.

Having completed the first step of data collection, James is moving forward in writing the program modules, based on kids input, to include:  Foundation:  How the body works.  Body/Mind:  Working together.  Earth/Health:  Environmental influences.  Fitness:  Exercise and bone strength.  Culinary:  How food works in the body.
 Pilot programs will follow to implement the goals and mission of Shine the Light on Kids.  At this point, funding is a real need, with no grants or subsides contributing to this project.

For more information and a link to the video interviews, go to: www.shinethelightonkids.com or www.pattyjames.com --KRB


Karen R. Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and San Ramon resident. She writes regularly for www.allnewsnoblues.com and can be reached through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Monday, 21 March 2011 23:20)


PostHeaderIcon A Thrill Ride at Pro Recording Studio

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Recording in a professional music studio was like jumping on a freight train for the first time and careening into the night.
A late-blooming songwriter, I'd recorded my songs at home on my computer, and at local radio stations (KUSF, KALX, Pirate Cat Radio and KALW) during solo live broadcasts. I'd started calling live radio “the cheapskate's recording studio,” since they record their shows and either post the results online or give artists a CD-R after the broadcast. Tracking at a professional studio with a band was an entirely different animal, though, and more fun than hopping onto a rolling boxcar.

Here is the group I jammed with, from left, Mike Glendinning  on electric guitar, John Ingham  on drums, Celu Hamer-Stone, doing backing vocal, me,  Steve Taylor-Ramírez  on acoustic guitar and vocals and  Mike Eckstein on bass.

 Like riding the rails, our recent three-and-a-half-hour session at Skyline Studios in Oakland was a free ride, thanks to owner/engineer Bryan Matheson's need to give his San Francisco State audio-engineering students a band to practice on, using state-of-the-art mics, pre-amps and ProTools software, with instruments isolated for maximum sonic integrity.
I'd learned of Matheson's need for bands by visiting the Facebook page of a friend who plays jazz piano, composes and runs a music school in Berkeley.

I told Matheson I usually play solo. He said, “Get a band together and I'll hook you up.” I called a few friends: Eckstein, a Berklee College of Music grad who plays electric bass and DJs at KALX; Hamer-Stone, a singer and music booker at Chester's Cafe in Berkeley; and “grunge-jazz” composer MGlendinning. Each is a talented singer-songwriter in their own right.

Since we still needed a drummer, Hamer-Stone called on Ingham, a percussionist who plays harmonica for local favorites the Strange Angel Blues Band.

Next step: rehearsal. Since I'd played guitar for a church band for nearly two years, I'd had experience playing in a full band. When some years ago I started writing my own songs and tried to get a band together, though, the task became a daunting exercise I called “desperately chasing drummers and bass players around the block.”

The chase seemed unending and I probably heard every excuse in the playbook: “I'll be out of town;” “My bass amp is new and I don't want to get a scratch on it until I decide to keep it or return it,” “I'm getting married that day but could try to reschedule,” “Did you say Dec.1? … I wrote down Dec. 3,” “My wife is giving me that look … gotta go,” “My wife's boss's brother-in-law is getting married and we can't get out of it” are some.

To be fair to beleaguered sidemen, though, singer-songwriters are notorious for writing songs so complicated no one else can play them, not making basic chord charts available (as many of their own songs exist only in their own memories), changing tempo in the middle of songs (several times), not being able to draw an audience (even to free shows), and, subsequently, earning no money to pay band mates.

In those early days, I'd found myself in an odd situation: I could get booked at local clubs, but I couldn't get a band together. After six months, I decided to play solo -- just me and my acoustic guitar -- and soon started playing a lot of shows in Bay Area coffee houses, bars and nightclubs. I did that for five years.

When the “free studio time” offer popped up at Skyline Studios, I'd knocked around the music scene long enough to have made some good, and very talented, friends.
Although the students in the Skyline control room broke into applause after several of our tunes, recording in a real studio was almost nothing like playing a live show.

Matheson sent the five of us to three separate rooms: the backup singer to one room, me to a sound-proofed “vocal booth,” and the bassist, electric guitarist and drummer to a single “live room.” A forest of mics surrounded the drum kit. The student engineers connected the bass guitar directly to the recording console and isolated the guitarist's amp in a fourth room.

Each instrument's, and voice's, track was isolated so its volume and eq could be adjusted separately, and to make it easy to add effects (such as reverb, tremelo or wah) after the session.

During the hour-and-a-half spent recording, we communicated with one another through mics and headphones.

The session ended with six songs “in the can.” We'd experienced a thrill like no other. Even Matheson (who has to be jaded after 20-plus years of recording star acts such as Bobby McFerrin, Audrye Sessions, Maldroid, and others), said, “That was fun!”---STR

You can hear songs from the session at: http://www.reverbnation.com/stevetaylorramirez

Last Updated (Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:06)


PostHeaderIcon Spontaneous Smiley Vying for $10,000

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SpontaneousSmiley.com is an art project started by teacher Ruth Kaiser of the Tot Drop Preschools (http://www.totdrop.com). Thousands of people all over the world have submitted photos of smiley faces they've found in everyday objects--food, flowers, tree, appliances, you name it.

 For more than a year Spontaneous Smiley has donated $1 to Operation Smile for every smiley uploaded onto the website. Kaiser, several other smiley contributors (called Smiley Captains) and dentists have put in the money for each photo. So far, SpontaneousSmiley.com has funded 17 free surgeries for children with facial deformities.

Last year Rheem Elementary in Moraga hosted a Smile-a-Thon through SpontaneousSmiley.com. Like a Walk-a-Thon, but the students got pledges by the smile instead of by the mile. The students uploaded enough smileys to pay for 5 children to have surgeries. Now, Spontaneous Smiley has been nominated to win $10,000 for Operation Smile.

The winner is determined by online voting. Go to http://www.stayclassy.org/classy-awards?city_id=3  and scroll to nearly the bottom of the page to: "Most Successful Fundraiser" by individual or group. You'll see the Spontaneous Smiley logo and the name Ruth Kaiser. Click there and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click submit. They ask you to fill out an info page.  Please do, so your vote counts.  You can unsubscribe later.

What would winning $10,000 mean? Forty one more children who now struggle to speak, will talk with ease (and laugh, sing, whistle), 41 children who now struggle to eat, can have a world of new foods to taste and enjoy and 41 children who now hide, can proudly join their community (and finally go to school). Mothers and fathers whose hearts have been sad for a very long time will feel a gratitude for the generosity of Operation Smile, and you, that cannot be put into words. :-)

It only takes a minute, but it forever changes lives.--RK

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to learn more.

Last Updated (Saturday, 28 April 2012 02:36)

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