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Curvy Expo, Mississauga May 14th, 2016 Discount tickets and Giveaways

Ever look through a magazine, love the look, but feel like, fashion does not cater to the majority of women who hunt for pieces in size 12  and up? Instead of accepting this long standing disassociation between fashion’s offerings and its unlimited market potential, Curvy Expo being held in Mississauga, Ontario, will take the mystery out of fuller figure shopping by hosting curvy-body conscious retailers, all under one roof.

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Meghan Bradley, a top 10 plus size Canadian model, spokesperson, and “fashion for all” advocate is the illustrious director. She is the brainchild behind Curvy Expo happening on May 14th, 2016, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, at the International Centre, Entrance 4, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga. Her television appearances and interviews to promote this pride in being “the best you at any size” has stirred the media  and proud women to join in this movement towards a healthier, more positive outlook on one’s appearance and importance in society. A professional, fun, fashion forward image is what we all crave. We all want to project our best self, to reflect how good we feel on the inside.

To save money on your entrance fee ticket, go to Eventbrite.ca and find Curvy Expo. When you buy your ticket, type in ADDITC and receive $4.00 off the $27.00 ticket price at the door. There are some ticket giveaways and contests as well which you can follow on the facebook page aptly named, Curvy Expo.

For years, I have had the good fortune to be a plus size model myself and worked many times with Meghan who is a wonderful, enthusiastic, beauty whose success hinges on the fact that she radiates positivity and enjoys empowering women in every project she touches. My spellcheck reveals that positivity is not a word, but that is the only way I can truly describe her, other than someone who is down to earth, real, and a visionary when it comes to this brilliant idea of Curvy Expo. It is my privilege to be a part of this wonderful, evolving movement, so, come say hello to me and sign up for great giveaways at the Curvy Expo booth!

I have long craved fashion shows where you can actually buy what you just saw shown on the runway. The runway shows being held at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are a great way to see many looks on body types that reflect our own. I have modeled in individual stores where appetizers and drinks were served, and customers were invited to a runway show and shopped immediately afterwards which is a wonderful, intimate, personalized shopping experience. But Curvy Expo is a fast track, short cut to all the fashion Meghan could muster under one roof, and believe me, an even more efficient way to shop.

Be sure to check out Dare Magazine https://issuu.com/daremagazinecanada/docs/dare_spring2016 which Meghan contributes to regularly and will be part of Curvy Expo. The articles and fashion shoots are very inspiring!

Retailers benefit because I personally love to mix and match from different stores, different designers, different price points, to make the look my own. As far as retailers are concerned, I believe this type of shopping experience where we all get together and celebrate our curves and discover ways to combine jewelry, makeup, undergarments, casual, formal, and every day pieces to express our relevance and presence in society is filling a much needed gap in the market.

Liis Windischmann, will also offer her expertise as a fellow plus size model and body love fan of every type of woman at 1:30pm. She too, is an inspiration and successful blogger with unique challenges that never get her down, they only push her to be even more amazing on her blog, Liis on Life. I am equally proud to have modeled with Meghan and Liis in catalogues, magazines and the runways for many of the retailers featured at Curvy Expo. You can say, it will be a bit of a reunion of a plus size movement we have moved with, became passionate about, and want to empower other women to follow suit.

I have had the privilege of modelling for several of the forward thinking retailers that will have clothes available to purchase at Curvy Expo, right on the spot. Pennington’s has been a great account over the years, always treating the customers to fashion shows, and hiring plus size models such as myself for major campaigns, posters, ads and changing with the times to embrace different styles. Two other major players I have modeled for are Addition-Elle and ToniPlus.

I remember a campaign I did where Pennington’s hired me for the whole day, which was a big deal in the plus size booking world at the time, and I had baked banana bread for the shoot. When they passed out menus to order lunch for everyone, I was amazed. It was a pleasure to work with the whole team. No shoot can be successful without a great hair and makeup artist, a fashion stylist, a vision for the shoot, an assistant photographer, great lighting, creative directors and a great rapport between model and photographer.

I loved what the makeup and hair artist, Paul Venoit, had created, when I looked in the mirror. I loved the tailored suits and casual jeans. The enthusiasm and the support from the team helped boost my confidence and ability to perform on camera. I felt like an actress, with a role, to show how the clothes made me feel, convey an air of friendly confidence, I felt empowered and I wanted to make the shoot worth the client’s while. When the posters came out in the store windows, they were larger than life, almost the entire height of the store window! The look was soft, romantic, with a muted, almost Monet background.

MXM, which I love, one of many of the fashion lines you can find in Pennington’s, used to be considered the younger, edgier line of clothing, but many of us enjoy the edgy style, regardless of age. Thank you Pennington’s for having shopping carts which more retailers should provide so we can sling our coat and purse and pile a few things in, rather than getting frustrated trying to carry everything around the store. Now there are so many more celebrities coming up with their own lines of clothing under major Canadian retailers which I am really impressed with! Check out Melissa McCarthy’s line now at Pennington’s.

Addition-Elle will always hold a special place on my first modelling composite card and in my heart. I traveled to Montreal, a fashion mecca in itself, for several shoots for this plus size retail pioneer. It was probably the first time ever, that a plus size model was featured in a campaign with a male model. What a concept! A handsome french male model was handpicked for the shoot, and our pictures were published in newspapers, ensemble! Formidable, avant guarde, and ahead of its time.

On the other hand, so normal! It’s just that, pairing a plus size female model with a male model had never been done before, not to my knowledge anyway. I was nervous, and wanted to do my very best to represent plus size customers, that were having fun, looking good, and living life to their fullest. There was a romantic air about the photos, shot along an ornate staircase, in a theatre, and one shot, from a very high ladder, offering a bird’s eye view of the two of us. The architecture of Montreal’s buildings in the background really gave the pictures a European flare.

My work with Addition-Elle was dreamy, exciting, forward thinking and creative. I will tell you a little secret, the best part of these shoots is getting your hair and  makeup done. Once these artists reinvent you, the confidence just oozes out and boosts your ability to express a sense of fashion satisfaction that is hard to describe. You walk taller, no matter what your height, and there is something in the way that you move in front of the camera which translates into a very special feeling you get while wearing fabulous outfits.

ToniPlus was also an incredible experience where I had the chance to meet visionary Toni herself and also to work with triple threat makeup, hair and photographic artist Korby Banner. ToniPlus has always offered its customers a sophisticated, classic, tailored silhouette. The day shoot gave me some of the best editorial shots I ever showcased in my portfolio. I had just changed my hair to a bob, and my booker at the time failed to convey the message to refresh my highlights. Korby came to the rescue with his chocolate mouse and creative stylings. I felt like a million dollars after he had finished my makeup and hair.

The movie star lighting, the carefully chosen clothes were elegant and with Korby’s guidance my mood  was transformed to one of mystery. Korby said he picked me because of the way I moved during the audition, and I am so grateful for that. I certainly felt wonderful during the shoot, and the pictures turned out very artistic. I remember Liis buying a full length, chic, tailored black coat from ToniPlus for a meeting she had with executives in New York for a pilot show to mentor young modelling hopefuls learning the craft of runway. These pieces stand the test of time, so artfully tailored.

Although I have proudly worked as a plus size model in the Toronto area, Chicago and New York, I certainly am interested in each new collection and fresh new take Canada has to offer as a leader in the plus size fashion market.  I have had the benefit of shopping curvy in Europe, where some countries acknowledge the existence of women size 14 and up, while others are in the dark ages, unwilling to cater to a segment of the population which is more than just niche. Having asked women all over the world deserving of fashion selection in their size, I learned that some have adjusting sewing patterns to make the clothes themselves. Model or not, every woman can look their best by feeling their best, no matter what their size. I know very well that clothes that are a reflection of my personal taste and fit well can give me such a motivational boost and inspire me to enjoy every day.

I am a big fan of all sizes getting a variety of fashion to create a look that is unique. The only way to do this, is for plus size fashion to reflect a variety of designer duds, interesting and ethnic accessories and modern yet comfortable shoes. Kudos to Canada, ever the salad bowl, offering up the  freedom to choose from an ever widening selection of fashion for the majority. I am also excited to discover the newest and latest of retailers to see what interesting pieces I can add to my wardrobe. I am so grateful for these retail pioneers identifying a still not completely tapped market and catering to curvy women like myself. For more information, visit http://www.curvyexpo.com and check out their show guide for a list of sponsors, show times, special guests, and mingle with fashion bloggers and plus size models. Note to all the lovely ladies out there, you do not have to be a plus size model to accomplish the “look” of a model. Don’t let anything stop you from applying any tips and tricks of the trade right after the show.

Shop all in one spot for clothes and accessories and get makeup tips from Cityline guest makeup expert Tracy Peart slotting in at 10:30am, so come early! Two fashion shows at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are not to be missed. Lynn Spence celebrity stylist,  and enthusiastic commentator will share the latest in fashion trends. Movers and shakers in the fashion industry can pay close attention to the buying power, the desire for great style and the beautiful women that will attend and shop with their mothers, daughters, sisters and friends at this history making event. Now let’s celebrate our curvy womanhood! YAAY!DSC02317

 

 

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Fashion Stalking in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Fashion Stalking in Amsterdam's Airport, all images captured by Paula Erskine

Now, before you say, “she’s gone too far,” you must admit, it all makes for entertaining fashion stalking in Amsterdam’s Airport. all images captured by Paula Erskine

Me watching them watching buskers on the street.

Me, watching them, watching buskers on the street.

Berget Lewis, free concert in the park. A great oppournity to fashion stalk. Love that Rihanna hair, Berget.

Berget Lewis, free concert in the park. Work that jumpsuit! Love that Rihanna hair, Berget.

Spectators at Berget's concert in Vondelpark.

Spectators at Berget’s concert in Vondelpark. You go girl!

Gwen Stefani might approve all this stripe fashion.

Gwen Stefani might approve all this stripe fashion.

Fasjoon meets function.

Fashion meets function. So inspiring.

Waiting for a decadent eggs benedict at a popular cafe on the canal, and noting the naturally fashionable Dutch style.

Waiting for a decadent eggs benedict at a popular cafe on the canal, and noting the naturally fashionable Dutch style.

Casual and boating the canals, Amsterdam.

Casual style and boating the canals, Amsterdam.

Downtown Amsterdam, orange pants and messenger bag.

Downtown Amsterdam, orange pants and messenger bag.

On the train to the airport, Amsterdam

On the train to the airport, Amsterdam. Anything goes.

Costa Rica’s Wild Beaches, Pura Vida, Liberia

Costa Rica indeed has it's version of a whitish sand beach, Playa Coco

Costa Rica’s Remote Beaches, Playa Coco
Photos and article by Paula Erskine
In the case of Costa Rica, pictures speak volumes of the remote or lightly populated nooky beaches. Although renting a car for just one day can be more expensive than longer periods of time, the roads are well signed and beaches easy to get to. Word to the wise and the wordpressians…do not speed and take note of the changing speed limits in Costa Rica. The police will gladly ticket you and are on the lookout for unlawful drivers. We split our truck rental 6 ways and if you have a credit card that covers car insurance on rentals, that will save you from taking insurance from the rental company. Even though we only had a day to spend at Play Flamingo and Playa Coco each, those few hours away from a hotel atmosphere felt like a week in relaxing chill land. Play coco is a place I would definatly return to. It had one main restaurant on the beach where we watched the sunset and listened to their local two piece band. There was also a small resort midway across the street with a pool, but 99% of them were at hotel pool. Which left the beach for just a few of us. As day turn to dusk, people filtered into the reggae bar to enjoy and marvel at this wild, and fairly undisturbed beach and it’s glorious sunset.

Costa Rica's sunset melts into the ocean at Playa Coco.

Costa Rica’s sunset melts into the ocean at Playa Coco.

All photos by Paula Erskine Loco Coco at Play Coco served up delicious food right down to it's coconut ice scream! on the beach dream.

All photos by Paula Erskine
Loco Coco at Play Coco served up delicious food right down to it’s coconut ice scream! on the beach dream.

The food was very innovative, adventurous and delicious at Loco Coco Restaurant in Playa Coco. Some of the best appetizers and meals I have ever had in Costa Rica. They had a two piece band that filled the background to the spectacular Costa Rican sunset. Great tables on the beach, which for some reason, has a whiter cast than other more volcanic brown beaches. Then again, I have never met a beach in Costa Rica I did not like.

The food was very innovative, adventurous and delicious at Loco Coco Restaurant in Playa Coco. Some of the best appetizers and meals I have ever had in Costa Rica. They had a two piece band that filled the background to the spectacular Costa Rican sunset. Great tables on the beach, which for some reason, has a whiter cast than other more volcanic brown beaches. Then again, I have never met a beach in Costa Rica I did not like.

Backlit by the Costa Rican Sunset, Playa Coco

Backlit by the Costa Rican Sunset, Playa Coco. Striped Navy and cream cotton maxi dress from BH department stores, England

Don't let the small waves fool you, they are tall enough to knock you over and spin you around. Be careful on all beaches, the currents are strong. Most of us chose to stay at knee or waist level and battle the waves, and refresh ourselves from the heat of the sun. Lots of fun, laughter and unexpected wave slaps. Just to keep us all in check. Playa Flamingo

Don’t let the small waves fool you, they are tall enough to knock you over and spin you around. Be careful on all beaches, the currents are strong. Most of us chose to stay at knee or waist level and battle the waves, and refresh ourselves from the heat of the sun. Lots of fun, laughter and unexpected wave slaps. Just to keep us all in check. Playa Flamingo

Why Costa Rica is One of My Favourite Places Costa Rica is the destination to rent a car and visit the many simple, unspoiled, nooky beaches all along the coast. It takes just a few hours away from a hotel to feel refreshed, energized, peaceful and gain the feeling that you alone have discovered these beaches with a handful of locals and very few outsiders. Playa Flamingo is very simple, feels very local and was not without it's own quirks. The beach sand had a thin film of water that was an incredible mirror to our own images and the sky. It is so great to be unplugged in paradise. Forget what you know about white sand beaches. Despite the volcanic brown sands, Costa Rica's beaches can really make you feel you have entered another world. The monkeys slept lazily in the trees above, the restaurant owner showcases his parrot pair, and the ocean's breaking waves can really throw you around, so be cautious with the current and stay close to the shore. I would say a picture says a thousand words in the case of Costa Rica, several pictures, a rented car, two wonderful beaches in two days, and keeping the great company of people who are not satisfied with cookie cutter vacations. Costa Rica is still wild, still unspoiled, and unpredictable. Go Wild and carefree, in Costa Rica.

Why Costa Rica is One of My Favourite Places
Costa Rica is the destination to rent a car and visit the many simple, unspoiled, nooky beaches all along the coast. It takes just a few hours away from a hotel to feel refreshed, energized, peaceful and gain the feeling that you alone have discovered these beaches with a handful of locals and very few outsiders. Playa Flamingo is very simple, feels very local and was not without it’s own quirks. The beach sand had a thin film of water that was an incredible mirror to our own images and the sky. It is so great to be unplugged in paradise. Forget what you know about white sand beaches. Despite the volcanic brown sands, Costa Rica’s beaches can really make you feel you have entered another world. The monkeys slept lazily in the trees above, the restaurant owner showcases his parrot pair, and the ocean’s breaking waves can really throw you around, so be cautious with the current and stay close to the shore. I would say a picture says a thousand words in the case of Costa Rica, several pictures, a rented car, two wonderful beaches in two days, and keeping the great company of people who are not satisfied with cookie cutter vacations. Costa Rica is still wild, still unspoiled, and unpredictable. Go Wild and carefree, in Costa Rica.

A simple beach restaurant on Playa Flamingo with it's owners perched to entertain us from above. (A couple of small hotels there, but not necessarily open to public.) Very local and spanish speaking atmosphere throughout, very unpopulated, they way we like it.)

A simple beach restaurant on Playa Flamingo with it’s owners perched to entertain us from above. (A couple of small hotels there, but not necessarily open to public.) Very local and spanish speaking atmosphere throughout, very unpopulated, they way we like it.)

Fascinating to watch these monkeys, some of which woke up long enough to trek along with their young from tree to tree. Playa Flamingo

Fascinating to watch these monkeys, some of which woke up long enough to trek along with their young from tree to tree. Playa Flamingo

Half way through my plate, I can say Playa Flamingo's simplest beach restaurant was tasty, but likely store bought fillets prepared with local, buttery goodness and again, store fries. Then again, some people prefer their fish filleted. We donated some clothes to one of the servers, used clean washrooms, and enjoyed their beachfront location, their pet parrots and onlooking monkey natives in the trees above all of which were keeping us entertained. My sunglasses hiding behind the water bottle would soon be swallowed in a fight with the waves at Playa Coco weeks later. The moment I survived several tumbles in the surf is the moment I said goodbye to my, ahem, "designer," prescription glasses. Several gulps of salt water cured my pining their loss for more than the hour that I searched for them to wash back up onto the beach.

Half way through my plate, I can say Playa Flamingo’s simplest beach restaurant was good, but likely store bought fillets prepared with local, buttery goodness and again, store fries. But we donated some clothes to one of the servers, used clean washrooms, and enjoyed their beachfront location, their pet parrots and onlooking monkey natives in the trees above all of which were keeping us entertained. My sunglasses hiding behind the water bottle would soon be swallowed in a fight with the waves at Playa Coco weeks later. The moment I survived several tumbles in the surf is the moment I said goodbye to my, ahem, “designer,” prescription glasses. Several gulps of salt water cured my pining their loss for more than the hour that I searched for them to wash back up onto the beach.

Other than the 2 hotels, which was lightly populated, we gladly visited this lone restaurant and it's humourous, rest station.

Other than the 2 hotels, which was lightly populated, we gladly visited this lone restaurant and it’s humourous, rest station.

Nature's Art Museum, the road to Playa Flamingo.

Nature’s Art Museum, the road to Playa Flamingo.

Of course, buses take local currency the equivalent of an American dollar. However, many buses later (and about 2 hours in the blazing sun across the road from Liberia's airport, and a spanish speaking qualified person interpreting our urgency to reach the beach the same day we set out, had us pondering the taxi alternative. Two hours in the blazing heat, we started to negotiate with several taxi drivers. Negotiating from in front of the airport is not in the least advantageous to getting a good price. But eventually, we came up with a $40 ride for 4. Time was ticking, and later we found out that the bus was in a major accident and had blocked traffic for miles. On the way back from Playa Flamingo, we saw these spectacular flower bushes. After visiting the local grocery store, we negotiated for a ride home with a Tina Turner type taxi driver. We pretended we only wanted to go to a certain stop half way and take the bus back to the airport from there. But in the darkness, and winding roads, our spanish qualified brother figure managed to negotiate a $25 direct to hotel rate. Which made us realize what a bad deal we got on the way to Playa Flamingo. Buses may be cheap in Costa Rica, but out of many buses that passed us, each one said it's "right behind this one" in vain. So if it the bus never comes, and you don't get to visit this quirky beach, then you can't afford not to take a taxi. Well worth visiting. Be prepared with american dollars and local currency and know the exchange before you set out. The hotel at Playa Flamingo had already sent their deposits to the bank and could not exchange  any money for us so we could eat in the simple beach restaurant. Upon leaving the beach area, we found a grocery store and one of us got it on good authority that there was a bank machine quite a bit down the road. The cabbie gave him a ride, quite a walk, to be nice. Nothing worse than facing a bank machine dispenses millions in local currency and not knowing the exchange. Enough said.

Of course, buses take local currency the equivalent of an American dollar. However, many buses later (and about 2 hours in the blazing sun across the road from Liberia’s airport, and a spanish speaking qualified person interpreting our urgency to reach the beach the same day we set out, had us pondering the taxi alternative. Two hours in the blazing heat, we started to negotiate with several taxi drivers. Negotiating from in front of the airport is not in the least advantageous to getting a good price. But eventually, we came up with a $40 ride for 4. Time was ticking, and later we found out that the bus was in a major accident and had blocked traffic for miles. On the way back from Playa Flamingo, we saw these spectacular flower bushes. After visiting the local grocery store, we negotiated for a ride home with a Tina Turner type taxi driver. We pretended we only wanted to go to a certain stop half way and take the bus back to the airport from there. But in the darkness, and winding roads, our spanish qualified brother figure managed to negotiate a $25 direct to hotel rate. Which made us realize what a bad deal we got on the way to Playa Flamingo. Buses may be cheap in Costa Rica, but out of many buses that passed us, each one said it’s “right behind this one” in vain. So if it the bus never comes, and you don’t get to visit this quirky beach, then you can’t afford not to take a taxi. Well worth visiting. Be prepared with american dollars and local currency and know the exchange before you set out. The hotel at Playa Flamingo had already sent their deposits to the bank and could not exchange any money for us so we could eat in the simple beach restaurant. Upon leaving the beach area, we found a grocery store and one of us got it on good authority that there was a bank machine quite a bit down the road. The cabbie gave him a ride, quite a walk, to be nice. Nothing worse than facing a bank machine dispenses millions in local currency and not knowing the exchange. Enough said.

Reflecting on the beautious Playa Flamingo beach... Seeing the sky mirrored across the glassy sand was magic.

Reflecting on the beautious Playa Flamingo beach… Seeing the sky mirrored across the glassy sand was magic.

all photos Paula Erskine Nothing better than a live sunset.

all photos Paula Erskine
Nothing better than a live sunset.

Cruise Deals and Cheaper Flight Tips from Flight Attendants

Flight Attendant Style, by Paula Erskine

Flight Attendants Know The Best Deals, photo and article by Paula Erskine


No one will give more of an honest answer than flight attendants when it comes to getting a great travel deal. After polling several of my colleagues,
here are the top tips:

1. If you are a Canadian looking for a deal, know that Americans do not travel on their Thanksgiving weekend, it is a big family holiday, and they like staying home and getting together. Canadians can take advantage as we celebrate Thanksgiving on a different weekend than our Southern neighbors. All you’ll have to do is make your way down to Florida, and flights at that time may be cheap as well out of major airports such as Toronto or even consider cross border flights from Buffalo or Niagara. Americans can likely save on Canadian Thanksgiving holidays, however, in the U.S. it seems to be a much bigger deal and much bigger population that is not travelling around. Maybe some Americans will reconsider travel on these dates, hopefully not too many…Shhhh…let’s keep it our Canadian secret.

2. Are you ok with basic cruising like a pool, but very unusual ports of call? Why not try booking yourself on a cargo ship? Cargo ships have a skeleton staff,can provide the same food they feed their staff, and usually a pool. This is no frills, and if you are not bothered about a particular time frame and can go away sometimes for up to 3-6 months or less. A colleague of mine knows of a couple who bonded with the crew over several months, the husband brought books to read and the wife, her knitting. She ended up knitting sweaters for the crew, and they were treated like family. Remember, if you want to make friends, you have to be someone you’d like to hang out with. The advantage is, ports of call you would never normally see on your average cruise. Plus from what I remember, it was about $6,000 but for about 6 months, now that is cheap living!

3. If you are a flight attendant friend, you can try booking through Dargal which services airline staff and their friends. Usually the flight attendant must accompany you on your vacation, but in very few instances, a deal can be extended to friends. It always depends on the flexibility of the patron and the season. If you are leaving during March break, your price will reflect a high demand. This year, due to a particularly harsh winter, there are very few airline/cruise deals, as everyone is desperate for a sunny escape. In fact, some airlines are adding destinations and multiple flights to their usual sunny destinations just to satisfy the demand.Keep an eye out in the newspapers and online for deals. A travel agent can keep a close watch for you so you don’t have to stress about it. Never give up, but be flexible.But don’t call if your not a flight attendant, identification is required to be faxed and/or letter of employment. You can likely view some of their deals online without a problem. Two years ago, I tried to get a cruise deal for my dad, and due to the single supplement requirement, found that booking a resort was cheaper than booking a cruise, and that was through Expedia.

4. Get yourself an email just for coupons and registrations. Now register for the major cruise lines. You agree to receive their updates and newsletters, and when that deal gets sent out, you will be ready to pounce on it! Disney is a great one to register for. After awhile, you will notice which times of year they start dropping prices. Also, when cruises are not sold out, they will start emailing out the deals. Start a few months early to get an idea of the prices and inclusions. Some cruises do not include airfare, but have no fear, especially if you live near the border of Canada and U.S. I have it on good authority, that when Torontos airports or Hamilton do not provide a compatible flight, Niagara and Buffalo in the U.S. can fill in the deficit. Spirit Airlines, operating out of Niagara Falls airport (if you blink, you might miss it) is a no frills carrier with red-eye hours to Florida. Very unusual flight times in the middle of the night, but you will be relieved at the price. The catch is that although tickets can be as low as $50, you are only allowed one backpack each and you will be charged handsomely for cargo. It is highly recommended that you register for Spirit. This will cost about $9, but it will bring down your cargo fees to dirt cheap. So my colleague paid $50 pp plus $200 for cargo for a family of four to Florida. And cashed in on a deal she got registering for Disney cruises. She shoved as much as she could of the heavy items (ie. shoes) into the backpacks they each carried on board the flight. Parking usually is much cheaper in the U.S. or you can bus it. Perx is also worth registering yourself for great deals and selloffs.

5. Holland America usually hauls in the 50 plus crowd, which is great for some. Several of my colleagues have highly recommended Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, their premium line which offers top notch service, lots of class, and reflects the quality of the crowd. Unfortunately, Carnival and it’s sister Princess have gone downhill in terms of service and quality, and the crowd is a bit more party, and alot more casual. We call this the spring breaker crowd. If you don’t mind that, there might be a deal in there somewhere. This comes from friends that prefer the other types of cruises.

What’s Your Cure For Jet Lag?

Photo of Paula Erskine, Photo credit John Vanderschilden

Photo of Paula Erskine, Catwalk to Runway creator, by John Vanderschilden.


What’s your Jet Lag Coping Strategy? Here we review different styles of dealing with short layovers from the newbie to the seasoned traveller. When I first started this flying business, I thought sleeping was over-rated. When am I ever going to shop here, tour here, explore here again? I had places to see and people to meet. Like the modelling, there are only so many years in your early twenties you can get away with not sleeping and showing up the next day all peppy, wide-eyed and refreshed. Jet lag strategies weigh in against layover length. Here is to pursuing happiness, sampling world cuisines and accomplishing short term goals beyond a hotel room.

Old-School: Pretend To Take Back the Circadium Clock

Staying awake after a night flight, dropping your bags in your room, start touring and go to bed at the local time of each country. Awake time ranging from 30-50 hours.

This is considered to be old-school practiced by seniors and the occasional eastern european in the flight biz. Hook yourself up to caffeine intravenously, wear a messenger bag so you don’t leave your belongings anywhere because even the seasoned flight attendants can suffer from serious delireum.

You will likely not be meeting any crew members for dinner. You might not care because you are so senior and you have been everywhere anyway and done everything. You’re that experienced and your air of confidence says you have such a satisfying home life that these layovers are just blips. Room service is your only friend. Yet, you are not lonely. Although you are getting away from it all by being away from home, you actually treasure this selfish act of aloneness. Still, you are a pro and accustomed to shopping while the veins in your legs pulse for help. Even though each night flight to Europe disrupts your circadium clock a few times per month, you still attempt to maintain some semblance of control by pushing your body beyond its limits. You not only seize the day you land in Europe, you pretend you didn’t skip a night of sleep by working it instead. But then, that’s how you appeared in this foreign land, so ultimately, you are fooling no one.

The Determined Keener

1 hour nap, shower and head for the shops in a haze.

Ok, I did a 2 hour nap twice in my life after being awake for 24-30 hours. but I can explain. The first time was my first layover ever in Rome. 35 hours awake was interrupted by a 2 hour nap that did not even put a dent into the level of exhaustion I had reached. With the support of 2 more determined keeners, we trudged our way to the Fontana di Trevi and picked up a gelato to soothe our pain. We mingled with a bicycle team before heading into the Vatican. We ended with a glorious Italian pasta dinner and dragged ourselves happily back to the hotel. 13 hours in Rome well spent.

Cut to Istanbul, Turkey this summer. I was experienced enough to know better. But with yet another 13 hour layover, there was no time to sleep for more than 2 hours. The Famous Turkish Bazaar was across the street and we felt like we were in slow motion. I bought jewellry from an Afghani vendor. His booth was 2ft by 2 ft. He showed me a picture of his baby and he thanked Allah that I had been sent to him. He offered me turkish tea, sweated profusely and adjusted necklaces. I bought a hot pink and gold tea set. My friends bought lots of things too, including spices with a few bugs in them for extra protein. ewwwww. We never made it to the Blue Mosque, our legs parked us for the evening at a typical turkish restaurant where the house specialty served in ceramic was set on fire then is smashed to reveal a delicious stew. Later we dragged our un-sorry selves back to the hotel for some long awaited R & R.

The Secret Sleepworkers

Catch some naps on the plane. Officially, this only works on a deadhead. A deadhead is a flight one takes in civilian clothing, assigned a seat, is a representative of the company and travelling to position for a working flight that day or the next day. Personally, I have never been able to sleep in the upright position. Traditional horseshoe neckpillows can’t seem to keep my neck in check. One time, while browsing through a skyshopper magazine, my friend found a triangular pillow that inflated so you could sling your body onto a stomach style position. Unfortunately, it would arrive in the mail long after my deadhead flight had come and gone. But if you can catch a few zzzzzz on a deadhead, you should be raring to semi-go if you don’t want to waste the day sleeping.

Liquid Oxygen Anyone?

They sell it in some duty free stores and it is sometimes available onboard your flight. Still on the fence about this one, and conducting an ongoing survey. A few years ago, they tried to bring oxygen bars to Toronto and the GTA. I tried it at some soiree and I actually felt refreshed. Casinos pump oxygen in to keep you awake, refreshed and gambling. The cockpit gets 100% oxygen pumped in, so a joke telling session in the cockpit between services can be refreshing on a whole other level.

Middle Ground Jetlagger

A Strong European espresso or latte, after a 3 hour nap. The alarm is pre-set for wake-up success. Reluctantly, I wake up because on a 24 hour layover, I don’t want to be spending the night watching BBC documentaries. Well actually, I do, but not before working a flight. The telly in the U.K. is soooo educational and enlightening sometimes. But I want to see daylight by 3pm. Shops close at 5pm. Marks and Spencer is the last stop with it’s marvelous grocery store as I stock up for the return flight. And I am missing some serious Indian food which is the late night food of choice all over the U.K. This is my kind of layover in a home away from home.

The Princess and the Sleep

A brisk walk after a generous nap, followed by a snack. This is ideal after an 11 hour Greece flight with obligatory layover. Some of this nap can be split with half the time poolside. Fortunately, Greeks eat dinner after 10 pm, and there is no shortage of night life from late night crepes at 3 am to all out night clubbing.

Slam Clicker

Keeping the first day abroad about securing shelter, and possibly a meal they’ve packed from home. Heck-bent on saving that per diem or recouping one’s right to do absolutely nothing. You only see these people on the plane during your shift. But I’ll tell you one thing. They are well rested and evasive about their goings on. Their story is boring at best. Why bother travelling at all. But then, this is just a blip for them. A blip of slam clicks. Can also be combined with a delsey diner.

Delsey Diner

The delsey diner brings food from home, which if used wisely, can save some money on meals out at least the first day arriving in Europe. I have brought many healthy “permitted” foods on flights and layovers and I encourage everyone to do the same. Sufferers of allergies can benefit from packing emergency food for their flights. Maximizing fruits and veggies while away from home base will boost your immune system when you’re running on empty.

When it comes to delsey dining, after more than a day,then you are not exactly getting fresh food and there is plenty of that at the local grocery stores. Don’t try to bring canned fish into Mexico, they won’t even let you bring a tuna pate. Sometimes veggies are taken away or overlooked. European countries are not so threatened by dried fruits, granola and tins of fish. The goal is to keep calm, and don’t get too attached to any of your emergency food items. Bags are often x-rayed and arguing is futile and foolish.

I knew a flight attendant who started her career during Portugal layovers cooking macaroni and cheese, canned food and hot dogs in her room’s kitchenette. I have seen her blossom into a more experimental eater with her favourites from every country. Who knew that the Nederlands was famous for their thick cut fries in a cone with gourmet mayonaise ranging from garlic to curry? Travelling can make you positively the biggest fan of world cuisine.

Delsey dining does not enrich your social life unless you picnic with a colleague in your room. Getting fresh salads from the local grocery and loading it up with grilled barbeque chicken, sundried tomatoes and stuffed olives and sharing stories with a friend is priceless. Flight schedules can fatefully throw you together for a blissful reunion abroad. Socializing on layover with crew or new friends builds and bonds friendships and the good times and laughter will keep you energized even at half-mast. Two of the best friends I have ever had I met in Belfast, Ireland watching bands play to packed houses in the late afternoon.

The Night Rider

Sleep all day after landing, go out all night. Repeat. Been there, done that. Not repeating. But no regrets either. There is nothing worse than the feeling of being sleep deprived for any reason before flying. You’ll do it a few times, and get cured fast. I watched an interview with a “sleep expert” on The Marylin Dennis Show who claimed that naps are not helpful and unnecessary in the course of a day’s activities. Marylin and I were quite surprised by his findings. He never interviewed a flight attendant. Long after a trip, there is nothing more refreshing than an afternoon nap.
And it doesn’t take one long to realize, that if you want to have optimal health and feel great all the time, quality of sleep is what we all talk about when we get together.

Get Cracking

Sleep with the curtains open during the day so I don’t sleep the whole day away. This does not work in Manchester, England. 7 days out of 7 I could not tell if it was dusk or dawn most of the time. Fortunately, there is so much to do there. You just have to trudge through the grey like they do. From museums, to shows to the country-side, that is one place I would never get bored.

This get your curtain cracking method also doesn’t work in Newcastle where luckily you can walk home from dancing in daylight at 3 am back to your hotel room. The night is elusive. So those blackout curtains have to solidly block out the Scottish brightness. Many studies have been shared that indicate darkness is what signals the body to go into recouperation mode.

Meditate to Refresh
Hands facing upward on your lap, meditation 5 or 10 minutes or day will clean the slate of any accumulated negativity within that may be weighing you down. The purist most transformative meditation I have ever tried that helps me balance myself is Sahaja Yoga Meditation. With a free Sahaja Yoga i-phone app or attend a free class or do the free online course http://www.freemeditation.com. Free classes are held world-wide in over 100 countries and it is a great way to evolve yourself, and ultimately mankind. It is like pressing the refresh button on your brain and making room for happiness. As someone who experiences jetlag monthly, it is a wonderful tool for life and happiness. And when given the chance, I visit classes in cities abroad.

What is your cure for Jet Lag?

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting in Japan

It took three flight attendants six days to reach Thailand. Inbetween getting bumped from flights left, right and centre, was Japan. We could have been there four days prior, as a much closer Asian pit stop towards Thailand, but nooooooo. Fatima warned us that Japan would blow our whole budget. We made that decision four days ago, NOT, to fly to Japan when we got stuck in Detroit, albeit, free breakfast at our airport hotel. And Los Angeles, where we we had to con our way through a drive-through at 2 in the morning, seeing as we were pedestrians from across the motel way.

And you know what? After being bumped off with our stand-by passes, once again, here we were, exactly where we didn’t want to be. On our way out of the Japan airport I spotted a small cue card and an old-fashioned hotline phone with a shuttle to the White, or maybe it was White-house airport hotel, and they picked us up. Airport identity in hand, we asked for the best price considering our “status.” They countered with, $99, 3 beds, one room. Well within our means, and robes included in our stay!

We never did see Japan beyond the robes, and this hotel because we were so busy trying to get to Thailand (shame on us for not going with the flow.) One thing I learned, was that nothing I planned on this trip was going to happen. Originally, I had planned to do the trip with my friend Audrey, who had left 7 days earlier. I wasted alot of time trying to figure out how I could catch up to her in Thailand. I was preoccupied and completely not into the trip I was in, because I didn’t think it was the trip I was “fated” to be on. It took weeks, maybe months, before I realized that where I was at each moment, was exactly where I was supposed to be.

That night, the whole room shook with an earthquake, which set us into different coping strategies. Carmi, calmly took the “earthquake emergency binder” from the desktop, and we scrambled for the door frame entrance. Then it was over. I called downstairs, and I received a polite confirmation.

We were too fatigued from the earthquake to explore Japan, so we headed back to the airport the next day for a second chance at two flights that would draw us nearer on the Asian map. And then…we got bumped again, from both flights, and ended up, fully robed back at the same hotel.

After two nights in a Japanese Airport hotel, we finally scored a flight to Singapore. We spent the night in the airport and bought tried and true confirmed tickets to Bangkok, Thailand for the same eventual morning.

The truth is, we weren’t stuck anywhere. Everything that happened fell into place. Just not the place we drew in our limited brains. The trip was nothing I expected. The road to Thailand exceeded all my expectations. Maybe lowering my expectations is not the right mantra. Being more open to change and going with the flow would have been a better choice. But again, if anything had happened any differently, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am becoming now. In the words of my friend Alexis, sometimes you discover through interacting with others, “you’re not as easy going as you THINK you are.” Enough said.

Skywalker, Paula Skywalker-Croatia Must See Villages

Skywalking in Croatia-Vrbnik

At the base of the pier in Vrbnik, Croatia, is a heart-shaped cave opening with a secret beach which only stays sunny till mid-day, but is worth passing through the rocky archway. If you have a kayak, or flippers and a floatation board (and you feel confident in the water) you can venture from this beach into the water and around the right bend to another private beach which is harder to access and quite a bit further. My husband found many underwater artifacts there with his snorkel gear. He also got the bends diving too deep without a tank and surfacing too quickly. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Just off the pier is a small port where the water is quite a bit warmer than the coast. Vrbnik is located in the Bay of Kvarner and is less than 40 minutes from towns on the mainland, the closest being Selce on the border of Crikvenica. Vrbnik is one of my favourite go-to villages built on cliffs. They are famous for their home made “Zlatina” (pronounced with a soft “g,” “glatina,” meaning golden) wine, prosciutto, lamb stew (that graze on salt sprayed grasses), fried sardines and many typical Croatian dishes.

Region? Primorje, on the island of Krk. Krk, (follow the signs Otok Krk), also has the Rijeka airport on it, and the bridge to Krk island is near Rijeka. There is a small fee to cross the bridge. There are many tours offered by boat if you don’t drive that can be booked from Selce, Crikvenica and Novi that I have noted.

Wardrobe? This is a conservative town, so wear your beachwear on the beach. Put clothes on when strolling about town unless you want a Babushka shaking a stick at you in disapproval. I bought my maxi-dress in the store New Look which can be found downtown London, England or the suburbs. Maxi dresses are my favourite wardrobe item! It is a staple item for the summer and is always in my suitcase when travelling south. I keep it in my carry on bags in case my suitcase gets diverted so I have emergency clothing. New Look stores have a regular, tall and plus size section called “Inspire.” I always check them out when I am in their town for jeans and other offerings. A maxi dress with sleeves and long length will not offend when entering holy places of worship. Plus you can wear supportive undergarments without showing your bra strap, and it can double as a discreet “changing room” as you switch to dry clothes in some corner of the beach or boat. Yup, an inventive change-room maxi-dress. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

Modelling Bridal Wear for Curvy Women

This photo shoot was featured in Wedding Bells Magazine in 1992. I was living and working in Chicago for the summer when I was hired for this job in Toronto. The day before, I made the mistake of walking all day long (about 8 hours) in the sun along the lakeshore just enjoying the exercise and typical friendliness of Chicago residents. I got quite red all over which was a big mistake on my part. I took the train from Chicago to Toronto in time for the shoot. I arrived at the shoot but was quite red to which the makeup artist responded that it is almost impossible to disguise a burn (it was mostly my shoulders and chest). The makeup artist was also a brilliant hairstylist but his name escapes me. He did his best, and the sepia coloured film certainly helped disguise the burn, and perhaps create a dreamy mood.

When I saw the backdrop that had been setup for the shoot I was really inspired. It looked like a painted theatre backstage with an antique wood ladder, some large coils of rope, and some movie star lights in the background. The photographer was very in tune with me and established a rapport with me onset. I felt like a princess after the hair and makeup was done. Although this was considered to be an editorial shoot for Wedding Bells Magazine, it did not typically pay alot (about $250 for the day, less 20% agency commission, less the train fare from Chicago to Toronto). The trade off is beautiful photos for my portfolio that I did not have to pay a top makeup and hair artist, and top photographer to make me look as I did. The exposure to many more clients was great for me.

Several years later, I worked with a makeup artist, Paul Venoit, for Pennington’s who had known and worked with me for about 10 years by then. He was shocked to see these photos in my portfolio. He said, “That’s you?! I didn’t recognize you! Do you know how many women walked into my salon with this page torn out of the magazine saying, I want my hair just like this?” Here is Paul in Playa Del Carmen Mexico, where we were meant to meet again. After 18 years of bumping into each other, he definately recognized me that time. You can also find him on past episodes of “Look Like A Star.” They take an “ordinary” girl, and I use this term loosely, who resembles a celebrity and make her over for a red carpet photo shoot in studio. Proudly Canadian show, I must say. My bathing suit is from Marks And Spencer bought in England with a matching robe.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It's a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.

Celebrity Makeup Artist Paul Venoit and former Plus Size model Paula Erskine in Playa Del Carmen circa 2008. It’s a small world after all. This picture taken following our humble beginnings working for catalogues, magazines, and major clients together in Toronto, Canada.