Saturday, December 20, 2014

Seven Rules For Holiday Dressing

Fearne cotton clutch purse; photo from
Recently Paul Fredrick, a company which makes a full line of men's business attire, but is best known for its affordable dress shirts, contacted me with a request. Could I share tips for sharp holiday dressing? My advice is very straightforward and applies to men and women equally.

1) Select classic pieces that never go out of style. Chanel's little black dress is as chic today as it was at the turn of the 20th century. A tailored man's suit with a cotton oxford shirt and silk tie is always dapper and current.

2) Stick with natural fabrics. Cashmere, lambswool, silk, cotton and linen are fashion-forward investments, because they wear well, lasting for decades.

3) Embrace your personal style. Wear what makes you feel like a million bucks, and you will not only pull it off, you'll sparkle and shine! 

4) Dress for comfort. Anything that is too tight, or ill-fitted, or hurts to don should not be in your closet. How can you party like it's 1999 if your clothes are trying to pinch, blister or trip you? If you can't walk in shoes, don't buy them. And, replace your mistakes; in the spirit of the season, take those to Goodwill!

5) No need to buy special holiday outfits unless you walk red capets. You might do it once in a while, but try to look your best all-year-a-round by sticking to well-crafted and well-fitted classics that you can wear time and again.

6) Add pizazz with accessories. Glitter with silver and gold jewelry, or cuff links. Drape a velvet or faux-fur stole/jacket on your shoulders. For women, rhinestone ballet flats or heels look festive. A shimmering clutch purse also works. Men can achieve the same effect with a fine watch.

7) Don't be afraid of playful accents: For men, a neck tie with a holiday motif, a polka-dot bow tie, or two-tone shoes complement an understated suit. A bright red tie and handkerchief make a dark suit pop. Colorful scarves do the same for a woman wearing neutrals.

When styling for holiday events, always be yourself ... but, be your best dressed, polished self. Have fun!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater ... Not!

ASOS Christmas Fair Isle Jumper
Many jokes are made about wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, but I understand why people do it ... to show their Yule time spirit. You don't think of a person who has on a Christmas sweater as taking himself too seriously. He (or she) must be a fun person, right? Not only is it practical on frosty days, a festive themed sweater is playful and screams, "Lets celebrate!" -- resulting in a new holiday tradition, the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

ASOS has a stylish selection of Christmas sweaters. They are affordable and a far cry from ugly. The textured Fair Isle design above -- available for him and her -- is adorable! In matching sweaters, a cheeky couple can sing a few bars of Ho, Hey ... "You belong with me. I belong with you. You're my ... sweetheat!" 

The Chunky Cardigan by ASOS has textured knitting, ribbed shawl collar, button placket, raglan sleeves and twin patch pockets.

An ASOS Christmas Cardigan has a soft acrylic knit with a v-neck, button front closure and patch pockets.

This ASOS Vintage Look Christmas Jumper is busy and chic, with a tree, presents, oraments, and bows.

As the North Pole knows, these Christmas sweaters from ASOS are fit for a fashionista.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ben Silver For Classic Style in Menswear

Clothing, shoes and accessories.
Within historic Charleston, South Carolina sits the self described "epitome of the elegant fine haberdasher that once could be found in the main streets of America, but now exits only on London's Seville Row." FittinglyBen Silver's 19th century flagship store is located at 149 King Street.

The shop is known for its tailored clothing, designed for "sophisticated tastes" and "understated style" ... combined with a touch of "boldness."  In other words, rich but never boring.

Although Ben Silver makes apparel for women also, it's the men's tailored suits, handmade silk ties and signature cuff links that catch the eye and make the heart flutter. The fabrics and craftsmanship that goes into the pieces are gorgeous!

If you decide to save up for one good, upscale suit, you can't go wrong with Ben Silver. Your suit will be expertly made of the finest material ... and last forever.
A set of suave cuff links, fine leather wallet or chic brown-and-tortoise eye frames make an excellent gift. Is there anyone on your Christmas list this year who was naughty or nice? 

'Tis the season to splurge on someone special with a gift he is sure to love.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

A Serving Of Indian Pudding

Hmm, how about adding nuts and dried cranberries?
Indian pudding is a dish I tasted for the very first time over the weekend when I tried making a batch. It's a New Englander comfort food, but I grew up elsewhere. Made with cornmeal, it derives from British hasty pudding, a wheat flour porridge cooked on a stove top. The American colonials lacked wheat, but had plenty of cornmeal, which they called Indian meal. So thus, hasty pudding became Indian pudding.

Here is the recipe:


3 cups milk
½ cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses (Didn't have it. I substituted a squirt of maple syrup.)
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
a sprinkle of nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins

Optional: A scoop of vanilla ice cream as a topping.


1. Put the ingredients, one by one, into a saucepan. Whisk thoroughly until smooth.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and slide it into a 325 degree F preheated oven.
4. Bake for 1 ½ - 3 hours. Baking for a longer period of time at a low heat turns the grainy porridge into a smooth pudding.

Eat the Indian pudding while warm, topped with the vanilla ice cream, if desired. The pudding, alone, is light and wholesome without too much sugar.

I can't say I dislike it; it's good. However, I like cornbread better, and cornbread takes less time to bake. But now ... like our forebears, I have eaten Indian pudding. It tastes more like hot cereal than dessert to this tyro.

You often perfer the foods and textures you are accostomed to eating. Perhaps a New Englander likes his Indian pudding as much as I like cornbread. Try it once.
This is James.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winterize Your Lips With Fresh Sugar Holiday Tints

Fresh Sugar Legends Lip Collection
In winter I like to replace lipstick with nourishing lip balms tinted with just a hint of color. Fresh has come out with two holiday lip collections that are hydrating and very flattering. So you can treat and color your lips simultaneously.

The Fresh Sugar Legends Lip Collection has seven shades in petal, tulip, rose, honey, cherry, passion and berry, while the Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio offers the cherry and berry hues, plus one untinted lip balm.

Each set is formulated without parabens, sulfates and phthalates, and they have SPF15 to guard against the sun's harmful rays.

Either moisterizing set with natual-looking, sheer lip shades makes a lovely stocking stuffer (which I mention for um, no particular reason.) The limited edition colors can be worn all year around. Available online and at Sephora.
Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio
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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Tarte Away Oui Go Palette

Usually, I don't buy myself a Christmas present, but oh my gosh, take a look at this amazing Tarte Away Oul Go Palette ... all wearable colors and for $48, a good buy. (Go to Sephora for the best price right now.) You get lots of rich Parisian pigments for the buck.

The special holiday collection includes:

1) 16-full size clay eye shadows in neutrals, nudes, browns and cream
2) 4-full size clay 12-hour blushes in sheer melon, coral, peach and rose
3) 3-lip glosses in raspberry, pink and plum
4) One 4-in-1 mascara
5) an elegant, portable blue compact case 

The 4 separate shadow-blush palettes ingeniously snap in-and-out of the blue compact, so you can slip it into your purse. All the makeup you need fits conveniently into a suitcase for trips too.

Ideally, the holidays are a time to think of others. They are not about buying gifts for yourself. So tell me, why does this palette exist? It has quality, value and cuteness. Did you notice the pearls on the quilt-pattern case? 

Oh, for heaven's sake, lead me not into tempation! I can find it all by myself.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Have A Happy Thanksgiving

Be Thankful (Author Unknown)

"Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Photo: Pop Sugar
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings."

Thank you, dear friends and readers for stopping by today. I am grateful for you! Keep a positve attitude thoughout life, count your blessings; and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Affordable Christmas Gift Ideas

New at The Body Shop.
The number one rule for selecting gifts is always give people things they can use.

I live in a small Manhattan apartment. One Christmas I recived a fake fireplace with a fake log from relatives who live in a big beautiful house in the suburbs. There was nothing special about it, nor do I recall ever wanting one. And, since it didn't function, out in the trash it went a short time later.

Why spend money on items with no purpose? How disappointing to unwrap! Better to give nothing at all. I don't know, perhaps my relations were regifting? ... or just made a mistake. Judging by their possessions, they seem to have the means and good tastes to select a nice gift. (By the way, they don't read the blog, but maybe they should. :)

A thoughtful holiday gift isn't always expensive; however it should be something you'd be happy to get. Here are ten ideas to consider:

1. The Body Shop Color Crush Nail Polish for her - Enriched with Community Free Trade marula oil and safe ingredients. Long lasting, bright nail color in over 24 shades. Plus, The Body Shop has attractive holiday skin care and grooming kits for men, women and the entire family.
2. Razor Kick Scooter - Perfect for kids of all ages. A sleek design and sturdy construction. I see at least one adult rider on the city streets each week, and it sure looks like a fun way to get around.
3. The Art of Shaving: The 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave - A unique blend of 100% essential oils for him. Great for sensitive skin. The kit includes pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after shave and a shaving brush. Travel and full sizes are available.

4. A BasTexWireless Case for a smart phone - The above Hard Knuckles Bumper model in metallic silver for an iPhone 5 sells for $4.99. There is a design and color to fit most every personality and cell phone.

5. A Craft Beer Brewing Kit - Everything a person needs to begin making beer at home. It's rewarding to learn a new hobby. A chance for the giftee to impress friends with delicious homemade beer. Who knows? You, the giver, might get invited to a beer tasting.

6. French Girl Organic - Lip Tints - A nourishing lip balm containing organic oils, butters and wax to keep lips moist and chap-free, in subtle earth tone tints. 
7. Pearl jewelry - From earrings, rings, bracelets or necklaces, there's a price point for every budget. A forever keepsake. You can't go wrong with pearls and silver or gold. Freshwater pearls are lovely just like their flawless siblings. Do your research before choosing. Macy's, a department store with knowledgeable buyers and a wide selection, is a good place to start.

8. Shea Moisture Soap - This whole product line of skin, body and hair care is the best kept secret in the beauty industry. Fabulously budget-friendly and available at Target, Walgreen and Bed, Bath And Beyond. Made with certified organic ingredients. The huge-sized soaps are excellent for pampering dry and sensitive skin. None better!

9. English Toffee - Chocolate, nuts and butter toffee, not to mention a mouthwatering crunch! Lots of sizes and brands are packaged in holiday boxes and tins. Makes a festive presentation.

10. A gift certificate - To a favorite store is always a thougthful present, in my opinion. 

Normally, adults get fewer gifts, so make yours count! What are your gift ideas?Emoji

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

How To Froth Milk Without A Frother

You don't need a fancy gadget to froth milk for a delicious cup of coffee (or cappuccino). The effort takes two minutes and is simple, so why bring another appliance into your kitchen?

To froth milk is to produce a mass of air bubbles by agitation. There are several ways to do so:

Method #1. Pour ½ cup of milk (per serving of coffee) into a jar; or use as much milk as you need as long as the jar is at least half empty. Secure the lid and shake the jar vigoriously for 30-60 seconds. Remove the lid and microwave it for 30-40 seconds. Voilà, warm froth! Pour the milk into hot coffee, and spoon the foam on top.

Method #2. Pour ½ cup of milk into a large mug and either microwave for 30-40 seconds, or pour into a saucepan and heat for several minutes on a stovetop until steaming. When it starts to produce steam, remove and use a whisk to stir vigoriously for 30-60 seconds. Add to coffee.

Lazy Girl (My) Method #3. Pour ½ cup of milk into a big mug to heat in a microwave for 30-40 seconds, or pour into a saucepan on a stovetop until it begins to steam. Remove and pour into a blender. Blend until frothy. Pour into your coffee.

Method #4. If you have a portion of milk left in a mostly empty milk jug, hold the lid on tightly with your thumb and shake the jug vigoriously for 30-60 seconds. Presto, you have froth. Pour it into a dish and microwave for 30-40 seconds before pouring into coffee. 

The reason you microwave the froth is to set the foam (i.e. air bubbles in liquid). It keeps the mixture from returning to milk.

I use skim milk. (That's what I normally stock. For guests I open a can of creamier condensed milk.) Milk with 1% or 2% fat works too. Use whatever you buy.

For cappuccino (the word means hood in Italian), brew a strong cup of coffee. Top with steamed (agitated) milk, ta-da ... froth.

No extra space, equipment or batteries needed. You're welcome!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Atoxelene Line Wand

There is a trendy beauty fluid celebrities use to erase wrinkles and promote youthful skin. Have you heard of it? And if so, can you pronounce it?! The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Call it Botox on a brush. Reportedly, many A-list stars keep an Atoxelene Line Wand within reach. 

Here's why: It hydrates the skin and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles with properties of hyaluronic acid and peptides. 

The Atoxelene Line Wand is applied under makeup and before red carpet events to take years off a face. The treatment works immediately, but since it is an intraceutical, the effects are also cumulative, according to Hollywood markup ... um makeup artists. The more you use it, the better your skin looks. Brush it on crow's feet, furrows, frown lines and laugh lines to soften and reduce their appearance. Moreover, its anti-aging ingredients (the peptides) encourage quicker cell turnover and the growth of collagen to keep new expression lines at bay. It's a splurge at $49. The equally popular Atoxelene daily serum costs $149.

For a similar, but cheaper treatment, try Watts Beauty Peptide - Hyaluronic Acid Concentrated Serum Complex with L-Arginine and Silk Amino Acids.

And just for fun, challenge yourself by pronouncing the names of each of these products three times without stammering!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Uniqlo's Cold Weather Steals

12 colors: red, light green, dark green, blue, winter white, navy, brown, light grey, dark grey, black, pink, and purple
A classic wool sweater is a wardrobe essential. It keeps you warm and toasty in a 6-month battle with Old Man Winter, as well as, completes an outfit. Whether worn with a dress, trousers or leggings, a soft woven sweater adds polish and looks oh, sooo casual smart!

Uniqlo has an assortment of cashmere and extra fine merino wool sweaters in many styles and colors at super low prices. Men, women and children can choose from cardigans, pullovers, crew necks or v necks.

While I love the plushness of cashmere (it sells for $99), I decided to buy two extra fine merino wool cardigans in red and navy at $39 each (with a $10 promotion coupon). The extra fine merino wool cardigan is slightly longer than the cashmere counterpart, and it is tony!  Light-weigh, well-make and comfortable, I plan to stay warm in style on frosty days. 

You really can't go wrong with any of the Uniqlo sweaters this season. There's also a wool-blend variety selling for under $25, plus the retailer is famous for running weekly sales. I highly recommend stocking up in a few colors at these unbeatable prices.

Down vests

Another winter must-have is Uniqlo's ultra light down vests. Just like their sweaters, the down vests add style and warmth to your wardrobe without the bulk. At $49.90, which is already a good price, it goes on sale sometimes, so you can wait if you want to get the best deal. I have one in navy blue. Perfect for traveling, the vest easily rolls up to fit into a stuffed suitcase. It weighs nothing!

Winter is wearing enough on a body without carrying around extra weight. And, who wants to look like the Michelin Man? Keeping warm without the bulk is a trademark of Uniqlo's innovative clothing.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Shiseido's Sparkling Party Palette

I love the efficiency of a well-thought-out makeup palette. At $50, it's not cheap, but you have all your makeup ducks sitting in a row -- a slim case which fits effortlessly into a small clutch purse. It contains all the brilliant colors and tools you need to freshen up as you spend a night out on the town. Besides, makeup palettes seem to last for a while, so at least you feel like you're getting your money's worth.

Shiseido is offering a limited edition holiday palette that helps you to enhance your natural beauty. The 6 shades complement each other. They can be mixed and matched to create several glamorous looks.

Going from left to right in the above image, here's what's inside: 1) crimson lip or check color; 2) a champagne (cream) eye base or highlighter; 3) and 4) brown and gold eye shadows; 5) dark blue (cream) eyeliner; and 6) coral blush.

Shiseido's Sparkling Party Palette makes an ideal gift. A practical, organized and easy-to-carry kit ... perhaps you'll want to keep it for yourself!


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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pure's Christmas Collection

Clothing made from all natural fiber like cashmere, silk, cotton or linen can be hard to find, but when you do buy them, they are worth it. The fabric feels soft on your skin and lasts for years. If you take proper care of articles made from pure cotton or wools, they actually improve with age and make whatever you pair them with look better.

One of my favorite apparel companies, who specialize in natural fiber, is Britain's Pure Collection. I love their comfortable, classic, luxe clothing. If I were an uber-buyer, I'd order everything in their catalogs. Their dresses, skirts and sweaters are gorgeous. Instead, I try to figure out what I really need and settle for a few pieces.

Their new Christmas collection (yes, it's out already!) features sequin and leather pencil skirts, plus jeweled silk blouses and cashmere cardigans. This holiday season, sparkle in natural fiber and comfort!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Greetings From The Savvy Shopper

A haunted house with flying bats, fog and a jack-o-lantern. Oh, come a little closer. Open the gate to enter. Inside the hosts are waiting for you!
Blue Oyster Cult's familiar song is our Halloween mood setter. The song has a catchy reoccurring guitar riff and a cowbell percussion. Click the arrow below to listen, and follow along to the lyrics, if you wish. Have a frighteningly good night! And remember ... the day after All Hallows' Eve is All Saints Day ... followed by all Soul's Day (November 1, 2). Booo.

Don't Fear The Reaper

All our times have come
Here but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain ... 
We can be like they are
Come on baby, don't fear the reaper
Baby take my hand, don't fear the reaper
We'll be able to fly, don't fear the reaper

Baby I'm your man, 

Valentine is done
Here but now they're gone, Romeo and Juliet
Are together in eternity.

Romeo and Juliet
Forty thousand men and women everyday, Like Romeo and Juliet
Forty thousand men and women everyday, Redefine happiness
Another forty thousand coming everyday, We can be like they are
Come on baby, don't fear the reaper
Baby take my hand, don't fear the reaper
We'll be able to fly, don't fear the reaper
Baby I'm your man, 

Love of two is one
Here but now they're gone
Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear she couldn't go on
Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew then disappeared
The curtains flew then he appeared, saying don't be afraid
Come on baby, and she had no fear
And she ran to him, then they started to fly
They looked backward and said goodbye, she had become like they are
She had taken his hand, she had become like they are
Come on baby, don't fear the reaper

Walk this way past the welcoming committee.
Happy Halloween!MSN Messenger emoticon Vampire bat

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