Friday, April 29, 2016

Yoga Pants As Dress Pants

Sraight leg black dress yoga paints
Wow, have you noticed how versatile yoga pants are? Today's yoga pants while constructed of active stretch fabric, are figure-flattering stylish! You can find fashion-forward yoga pants that will take you from a day at the office to the gym to a night out on the town. Look professional at work, workout in comfort on a treadmill and meet friends for dinner afterwards ... all without changing your outfit.

For a modern woman, yoga pants are the new all-in-one dress, sports and casual ware. They are adaptable and machine washable! Dress yoga pants up or down with the right blouse, t-shirt and shoes. Yoga pants are also perfect for the spring, a season with windy, nippy days. They look polished paired with a cardigan, or blazer.

Yoga riding pants
Betabrand, an innovative San Fransisco clothing company that launched in 2005 (under its old name of Cordarounds), has an ultra chic selection of yoga pants, as well as, other cool clothing for men and women. Anyone can submit ideas for new pieces to Betabrand here. Their inventory includes dresses, pinstripe hoodies, travel pants, jackets and shoes. If your idea is selected, Betabrand partners with you to design, develop and manufacture the item into being. Crowfunding pays expenses. The retailer releases new innovative clothing non-stop. All the goods are made by seven contracted, outsourced, sew shops in the Bay Area. The clothes are sold online and at a brick and mortar store located in San Fransisco.

This spring put your best yoga-pants-covered-leg and foot forward ... in style and comfort!

Fine China Light Franklin shoes

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Overnight Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding

Photo: The Food Network
Chia Seeds are whole grains that are a complete protein. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, calcium, maganesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Refrigerated overnight, chia seed pudding makes a delicious, healthy breakfast. The preparation is as easy as making instant pudding:

Overnight Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding 


2 cups milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup cocoa powder (or flavor of choice; see below)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sweeten to taste (with honey, brown sugar, maple syrup or Stevia)

Optional: 1 teaspoon of instant coffee


Pour the ingredients into a Mason jar and shake until well blended, then chill (it gels) for at least five hours. Overnight is ideal.

Alternately, you can throw the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Divide into bowls to refrigerate overnight, if you wish. You can either blend the chia seeds (for a smooth consistency), or add the chia seeds after blending. I like the chewiness of the whole chia seeds. I use the Mason jar and shake method. (Less cleanup. Yes, I am that lazy!)

For variety, flavor with 1 teaspoon of vanilla; or 1/4 cup of blueberries, or mango (instead of chocolate) if you wish. 
Top as desired with nuts, coconut, or a little caramel. Almond milk and coconut milk can be substituted for regular milk also. However, cow's milk is higher in protein.

The next morning, grab a spoon and violà ... eat a nutritious, slurpy breakfast!

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince (June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016)

What a shock! Yesterday we lost a musical prodigy and visionary. Prince helped define the music of the 80s, bringing together several genres, including: funk, rock, blues, soul, psychedelia and pop. Single handily creating the Minneapolis sound, Prince Rogers Nelson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. As reported on Nightly News, Prince's 2007 Super Bowl appearance in the pouring rain is regarded as the best half-time performance in history. What could The Artist not do? Read this.

There will never be another Prince. People say it when it isn't true, but this time it is. He did everything well: sing, play, dance, write, produce, advance music forward. And, he was still at the top of his game a few days before he died. We usually accept that as an artist ages, his/her performance wanes. An artist can't stay in his prime forever, but Prince was still in his prime. If you watch him sing, he sounds as strong in 2016 as he did in 1984. Rumor says there is a stockpile of his music yet to be published. Remarkable how multi-talented he was, and now gone too soon. R.I.P. our beloved Prince.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It Pays To Give Old Things A New Life

After reading The Story Of Stuff, I too began to think about the entire life cycle of the things we buy. Can we reduce waste by recycling more of our stuff? Individual efforts make a collective difference in saving our environment. As a bonus, buying less and giving old things a new life can also save you big bucks! So when it makes sense, why not do it? 

Here are a few items I reuse or repurpose, which may sound cheap, as well as, brilliant!:

1) Reuse old (but still good) shoe insoles - Sometimes I luck into a pair of sneakers, all-weather mocs or ballet flats that have the perfect arch support. If I wear the outside shoes out, but the insoles are still good, I remove them (before throwing out the shoes). Later on, I slide the saved, old insoles into brand new shoes. I might also order a half-shoe-size-up so that I can slide one, or two pairs of the old insoles into my new shoes. I slip the old insoles under the new shoes' original (new) insoles. Often this works to absorb shock without making the toe bed too tight and results in turning uncomfortable shoes into very supportive walking shoes! With double (or triple) insoles, you get mighty fine cushion, bounce and shock absorption.

Old drawers turned into toy boxes. How clever!

Along with the saved, old insoles of trashed shoes, I buy Dr. Scholls' insoles. They cushion when there is no extra room in a shoe, as well as, are thin enough to triple up inside shoes for extra cushioning. For example: I turned my LL Bean All Weather Mocs into a super supportive walking shoe (by ordering a size 8 1/2 -- up from my usual size 8) and inserting a Dr. Scholls' insole along with a Nike's sneaker insole underneath the All Weather Moc's leather insole. Now I can walk all over the city in them as if they were sneakers!

2) Repurpose aluminum foil - Instead of buying Brillo pads, simply crumble up a piece of washed, previously used aluminum foil to scrub your pots and pans. It removes food particles, and you have one less product to buy. Naturally, you can tear off a new piece, but if you use aluminum foil to bake a dish or wrap food, wash and reuse it to scrub a pan before throwing it out.

3) Recycle paper/ plastic bags - As mentioned in a previous blog, I have a wire recycler as my kitchen trash can. All the plastic supermarket bags are reused as garbage bags. Paper bags also become garbage bags, as well as, wrapping paper for packages mailed at the post office. Aim to save a tree and use less plastic whenever possible, but reusing them helps too!

4) After making a batch of Kombucha tea, I reuse the paper towels that cover the tops of the brew to spot clean my floor, or to dust. Why not? They aren't dirty.

5) Next I plan to repurpose two empty Kleenex boxes to organize and give my plastic grocery bags and clean, gently used paper towels a home.

6) Repurpose an ugly old file cabinet, or other furniture - I enjoy the show Knock It Off, which is always breathing new life into unsightly old furniture, or metal file cabinets by staining or painting them. The show saves homeowners $1000s for the cost of a can of paint.

7) If I buy beauty products that come in small containers, I wash and save a few for traveling. I have a slender cosmetic bag filled with these empty miniatures. Why buy special containers for trips instead of recycling these perfectly good containers? Let's fill one less landfill by washing and reusing what we have. 

Earth Day arrives on April 22nd! Think about all the things you buy. Each of us can lessen our carbon footprint for Mother Earth by reducing, recyling and reusing. Do you give your things a second life? Feel free to share your genius ideas under comments.
Photo: earth911 - A hanger dish rack

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Let's Plan A Wine Party

Photo: Testing Room Wine Potomac
If you don't have the time to put together a full dinner party, try hosting a simple wine party.

According to experts at Walmart, serve 1/2 bottle of wine per person. As an example, for 10 people set out 3 bottles of red (such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignan, Pinot Noir, Gamay) and 2 bottles of white (like Chardonnay, Champagne, Riesling, Moscato). Rosé is made from white wine grapes.

It is suggested that the red be chilled for 15 minutes and the white for one hour. A confession: I like my red wine chilled and tend to keep it in the refrigerator, but for guests I chill it the proper way. If I'm at your party, you may see me slip an ice cube into my glass of red wine.

When I buy wine, I always ask the wine seller to help me select red wines low on tannin. Tannin comes from the skins, seeds and stems of red grapes. Although it gives red wine its health benefits, tannin can taste dry and astringent without a nice juicy steak to balance the sharpness. If guests sip wine without heavy food, a red wine low in tannins is often more palatable.

I like to set out a cheese platter to nosh as people drink the wine, and I often serve a pot of homemade hot soup also. (What can I say, I'd rather eat then drink.) With soup, guests can grab a mug and spoon to serve themselves.

Walmart says, serve light food (like mild cheese, fruit, nuts) with white wine and

rich food (such as robust cheese, ham, sausage) with red. Although Brie is a mild cheese and extra sharp cheddar is robust, they both taste sensational paired with either red or white wine, in my opinion. So there is no need to split hairs, delicious nibbles will always be a hit!

Hosting a wine party is a classy idea without the stress of a full dinner. Most of the work is done in advance, letting you spend time catching up with your guests.

My take away tip from Walmart is the amount of alcohol to serve. One-half bottle per person is a good rule of thumb. That's 2 glasses for each guest. I might add two extra bottles of wine per ten people. Because: What if someone went over his drinking allotment?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dry Shampoo Is Strange

Photo: BeautyNewsIndia - There's plenty of dry shampoo on the market!
A product you never see recommended on THE SAVVY SHOPPER is dry shampoo. That's because I don't understand it.

The texture of my hair is fine, and I have lots of it. I wonder if dry shampoo works better on another hair type? The idea of weighing down second day fine hair with dry shampoo sounds a little gross to me. Some beauty editors advise sprinkling talc powder or cornstarch on your scalp as a substitute for dry shampoo. I suppose talc powder, or cornstarch like dry shampoo, absorbs oil.

To me, it seems like these measures still leave you with dirty hair. If you have time to sprinkle and brush dry shampoo (talc power or cornstarch) into your oily hair, isn't it easier to just wash the hair as you shower each morning? I mean, the effort is about the same, no?

I found a blog describing the ins and outs of using dry shampoo here. In my research, I notice two things: 1) Dry shampoo is many times more expensive than shampoo and; 2) All the beauty brands offer it, which means it does sell. So people are users.

Perhaps somebody who likes the stuff will school me. Are you a fan of dry shampoo (or talc power or cornstarch)? Please mention what the texture of your hair is: fine, medium or coarse.Emoji

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Liberty London For Uniqlo

Get excited about a dream collaboration between Uniqlo and British brand Liberty. Uniqlo's clothing philosophy (simple made better) is fused with Liberty's 140 years of fabric history. The "LifeWear" dresses, skirts, t-shirts, button-down shirts and slippers for men, women and children are quality everyday basics designed in Liberty's vibrant, yet delicate and most popular floral patterns.
I adore the Liberty London Bra Dress. It comes in several floral designs and is super practical to beat the summer heat. As comfortable and lightweight as a t-shirt, but ultra stylish paired with sandals, ballet flats or heels.
How flattering are these Relaco shorts? Tasteful and powerful with Liberty's certified floral flare.
Other cute items include Liberty London Tote Bags. Not only posh, they are 100% cotton and strong to hold lots of stuff.

Liberty (the exclusive department store in London's West End) + Uniqlo (Japanese innovation for the masses) = upscale design that most everyone can afford!

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday Thoughts

Caravaggio: The Incredulity of St. Thomas
To get your fix of the festive Easter eggs, ducklings and bunnies I usually post on this holiday, go here. But this year, let's change it up a bit. There are many unsettling world events, including recent terrorism in France, Belgium and Turkey, as well as, the hateful rhetoric we hear from one presidential candidate in the United States. Worldly and personally, life always has challenges. So why is Easter celebrated?

Christianity recognizes that good and evil exist in the world. Traditional Christianity teaches that humanity has a basic flaw, called sin (which is to "miss the mark"). It says, when we choose sin over good, it shatters our relationship with God and one another. Christians believe God sent his only son to overcome sin, and in doing so, humanity was restored to grace ("the free, unmerited favor of God," also "divine influences to inspire virtuous impulses").

In the end, believing requires a leap of faith. That's why I love Caravaggio's beautiful painting of Christ with St. Thomas. By nature, I'm more like St. Thomas, than I am like St. Peter or St. Paul, the two transcending leaders of the early Church. Definitely, I'm the person who'd ask to put my fingers in the wounds to believe. Then after, I might still have some doubts! The Christ in the Gospels and painting accepts it. If anything, Jesus is for transparency, "Come, touch. See for yourself."

Easter celebrates a belief that ultimately good will defeat evil and eternal life will replace death. It encourages us to have hope and human perseverance. 

And now, let's go on a blog pilgrimage! Join me in marveling at some of the most stunning stain glass in Christian churches around the world. Regrettably, I can only post a few:

Church of Notre-Dame au Sablon, Brussels, Belgium
Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims - windows by Marc Chagall
St Nicolaaskerk Church, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Happy Easter Everyone!
Easter EggFlower Basket Flowers 6   Flowers 51  Flowers 26  Easter Egg

Check out this jaw-dropping mosque also.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Extras That Make Home Life Easy

Although I live in a small New York City apartment, I have Outlet Surge Protector Power Strips throughout my living/bedroom and kitchen. Many people don't think to buy extra power strips for their electrical sockets. But after thinking about it, why must a homeowner unplug one appliance to use another? With extra power strips, you don't! Plus, no more crawling behind a couch, refrigerator or bed to plug in and unplug appliances. I recommend spending a few more dollars to get the Outlet Surge Protector Power Strips, as opposed to, a strip that doesn't safeguard your electronics. In the event of a power surge, you'll be thankful not to need a new computer, printer or television. As a precaution, don't overload a single power strip; instead buy more of them.
A television remote is another accessory to buy several of for your home. 

My longtime friend, Cara Sue, counted the four I have laying in strategic spots in my living room. She enjoyed teasing me by asking, "How lazy does a person have to be to have four TV remote controls in one room?"  

But au contraire, it's brilliant! You can reach for a remote control from any direction in my living room, whether 1) standing in front of the TV; 2) sitting on the couch, 3) using the computer at a table; or 4) reclining on the opposite side of the room. 

As I said to Cara Sue, "What good is a remote control, if you always have to get up to fetch it, hmm?'' It defeats the purpose of a remote control, no? (Note: I had to train myself not to carry my remotes off from their strategic spots for my system to work, but no one starts off perfect. Practice makes a system perfect. :)

For the 3 extras, I bought 3 identical universal remotes that are easy to program with a code to work with my television. They cost about $6 each, compared to the $50 the television manufacturer charges for its brand. You want to buy identical extra remote controls to keep life simple. If each remote is different (like a puzzle) you have to think too hard to find the buttons.
Another tool I stash in strategic places in my apartment are scissors. I have scissors in two spots in my kitchen for opening food packages, as well as, a pair on a living room shelf for opening mail and Fedex packages. Before I bought extra scissors, I spent too much time looking for them; and the scissors were never in the room where I needed them. A problem easily solved by buying several pairs.

In the end, buying multiples of inexpensive home accessories and tools can make life simple. Have you improved life by buying extras of an item?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eco-Friendly Garden And Pest Control Tips

I'm reading Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions To Everyday Problems by Bob Lubin and Joanne Bossolina-Lubin. It's a book of practical, inexpensive life hacks.

Recently Bob shared some of his eco-friendly garden and pest control tips on the The Living Well Network. (Timely, right? It's spring finally!) Taken directly from the show, here are some of his solutions:

Three Mosquito Repellents:

1) Put 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract in a small spray bottle and spray it on your exposed skin to keep mosquitoes away.
2) Plant basil on your outdoor patio.
3) Keep dryer sheets in your pockets.

Turn brown grass to green:

Sprinkle Epsom salts over the browning sections of your lawn, then water the lawn to soak it in. The magnesium in the Epsom salts will revive the grass in a few days.

Revive Roses:

Crush egg shells and mix with water. Spray the mixture on your roses and they will come back to life.

Revive Diseased Plants:

Crush a clove of garlic and mix with 2 cups of water. Spray on you sick plants. Bob says, you won't smell the garlic.

2 Ways to Kill Yard Weeds:

1) Sprinkle baking soda on the weeds.

2) Or spray vinegar on them; and don't worry, the spray of vinegar will kill the weeds, but not your grass or flowers.

To Fight Squirrels without harming them:

Mix 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, a dash of cayenne pepper, 2 capfuls of Murphy's Oil and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray on plants and anything else to keep squirrels away from it.

To Keep Pests Away From Your Garbage Cans:

Spray it with a mixture of 3/4 cup ammonia and 1 cup of water.

I'm impressed with how easy, cheap and chemical free (except for the ammonia) most of his solutions are. They make me wonder why we ever buy expensive solvents that contain toxic ingredients to do a job. I can't wait to kill weeds in my mother's yard!

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Friday, March 18, 2016

A Round Up Of Cute Evening Bags

Vince Camuto Gilda Minaudiere Evening Bag
Fancy evening purses are pretty, but you can't get much in them: a lipstick, a tissue, a small comb and perhaps a $20 (emergency) bill, if you're lucky. Still if you ever have an occasion to wear a ball gown, you probably own a few of them.
Vince Camuto Luv Minaudiere
Mine looks very much like this (above) black clutch. It has a gold chain making it possible to hang the purse off my shoulder, but I don't recommend doing so, because the sequins catch on the gown. I didn't anticipate this (a con) when the shimmer (a pro) tempted me to buy it.
Vince Camuto Aleni Minaudiere Evening Bag

Here's a a geometric, metallic evening bag for a modern woman. With such a smooth, glossy surface, there is nothing to catch on a ball gown. Is it your style?

Lath.Pin Sequins Beaded Peacock Evening Bag Wedding Bridal Party Pom

For the woman who loves nature, how about a peacock beaded bag to complement your gown? It comes in pink also.
 Blue Betsey Johnson Fluff Clutch
And speaking of pink, how about this ultra feminine rose pedal number from Betsey Johnson? But if you're not feeling the pink, it comes in two shades, black and white.

J. Furmani Crystal and Stone Hardcase Clutch

And just when you think a clutch can't get any shorter, guess what? It can! You may have to choose: Will you carry an ink pen, or your lip balm? Forget about sliding a compact of face powder in this purse. You'll need to dab the shine off your forehead using a tissue or a single piece of blotting paper.

Do you have a favorite type of evening bag? Tell us, can you get all your essentials in it?

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