Monday, July 27, 2015

Uniqlo's Flare Sleeveless Dress ... And More


Uniqlo has styled the perfect summer dress. It's airy and feminine ... visually, a classic! Designing affordable, lightweight, yet substantial clothing is Uniqlo's trademark, and this dress is no exception. The material is a smooth, durable cotton blended with a touch of stretch. The dress is soft, comfortable and cool.

You can wear it to the office, as well as, out to dinner afterwards. The flare cut is ultra flattering. Sleeveless; gorgeous lines; and t-shirt-cozy -- the dress comes in 5 colors. I bought the pink stripped pattern and love the contrast of the overall pink with navy accents. So practical and casual-posh, I think I'll get another color. Cost: $29.90.

Whether traveling, going out at night, or blasted with air conditioning, you sometimes need an article to cover your shoulders. Uniqlo offers nearly weightless summer options. All are easy to tote, or roll up in a suitcase:

Slip on a 100% cotton sweater from the retailer's UV Collection. It blocks out 90% of the sun's harmful rays.

Or throw on one of Uniqlo's many types of hoodies. Some are cotton with stretch UV protection. Others are arism UV cut mash to keep you cool and dry in a warm climate. All the hoodies have innovative fabric and extra bells and whistles. High collars protect your neck, and thumb holes let you cover the backs of your hands.

I often carry one of Uniqlo's linen/cotton stoles to drape on my shoulders in the summer. I have a navy blue one to match several dress colors. It's so thin, I can fold it up to carry in my purse for when I get cold.

In fact I had to rebuy it. The first Uniqlo navy scarf I bought (it had a bit of silk in it) was lost in someone's closet at the end of a house party. Surprisingly, we couldn't find my book bag with it's contents of my scarf and a mini umbrella when it was time for me to go home. As I don't suspect the lovely hosts nor anyone at the party would have taken it, to this day the disappearance is a great mystery. Life!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Mizon All Over Makeup Stick

Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick
This hot all-in-one eyeliner has taken Korea by storm. Korean women use it to create what they call an aegyosal effect -- i.e. contouring the illusion of a bulge under their eyes. Why would they do this, you may ask? Because ... with age we lose fat under the eyes, and the area begins to look hallow. So Korean women use shading to restore the appearance of fat under the eyes in order to produce a fresher more youthful look. According to Peach & Lillya retailer who specializes in Asian cosmetics, "creating a plumper eye area under the lower lash line erases years" off your face.

The Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick has two ends: (1) a glittery champagne powder/shadow and (2) a taupe pencil/liner.

The (simmering pink) champagne powder can be used to highlight your entire face. Here is a how to video: Dot it about the inner corners of your eyes, brow bone, bridge of nose, Cupid's bow, center of lips and cheekbones, then blend into the skin with your fingers. 

Moreover, that's not all the stick does. The taupe pencil/liner can be used to define your brows, accentuate your cheekbones, or lift your nose (shade the sides of your nose, then blend). You can also use the liner to create a softer daytime smokey eye.

It's always fun to explore another country's idea of attractiveness, as well as, their innovative beauty products. The qwest of hanging on to a youthful appearance floats across boundaries!

Certainly, the Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick is a multi-tasker, which makes it ideal for travelers. Cost: $19.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

How Does Kate Middleton Wear Those High Heels?

Photo: Zimbo
Ever wonder how Kate Middleton walks so effortlessly in high heels? She made wearing a 3-inch heel while pushing Princess Charlotte up a concrete-and-grass path to the royal christening look easy. How are her feet not killing her?

According to Vanity Fair magazine, the Duchess wears leather Alice Bow insoles as her "secret weapon."

Without a doubt, our beloved Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, has access to the very best products. Alice Bow insoles are carefully made in London from fine Italian leather. They look and feel luxurious underfoot. The superior padding absorbs shock, lets feet breathe and has antibacterial properties.

The insoles fit any shoes to make walking in heels comfortable for hours on end. They are designed to be as thin as possible while providing ultra padding only where you need it -- in the case of high heels, that is under the ball of your foot and not under your toes.

There are actually two different designs of Alice Bow insoles: one especially crafted for heels and another especially made for flats. Each variety sells for £13.90, which is a bit of an investment. For those of us not living in the UK, we'll also have to pay a hefty shipping charge. So stock up if you find yourself visiting.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trying To Find A Natural Deodorant ... And Hair Conditioner

I'm not a hippy-dippy nature gal. Still, it's a smart idea to cut the number of chemicals we put on our bodies everyday by grooming with personal care products. Recently I began using organic soaps, shampoos and body lotions. Done!

Nonetheless, I have two mass produced holdouts: Commercial 1) hair conditioners and 2) underarm deodorants are hard to give up! Not only cheaper, they usually work better than their all natural counterparts.

It's hard to beat Pantene Beautiful Lengths, or Aussie 3-Minute Miracle conditioners for shine and taming hair. Although I like the organic hair conditioners I order from Puritan's Pride, I still use the commercial brands on days when looking my very best really matters.

Regarding underarm deodorants, recent medical studies link the aluminum compounds in most of the mass produced ones to cancer and Alzheimer's. I think that's alarming, don't you?

Any yet, I am slow to switch to the organic choices. Evidential (I mean judging by my actions), I am more afraid of odor than cancer! People who have b.o. seem to lose the ability to smell it. In public places everybody knows but the stinky people. I don't want to be one of them while everybody else tries not to breathe!

Other bloggers have ventured into territory I dare not go  ... yet. Kate Stoeffel of The Cut tested 11 Natural deodorants. Two of the deodorants, Soap Walla ($14) and Lavillin ($10) are recommended by several other beauty editors also. (They are two of the cheaper options.)

I guess I need to be brave and try them for myself ... eventually. On that day should my organic deodorant fail, please don't let me be the last to know.

Do you worry about harmful chemicals in your grooming products? And, have you found a better natural alternative that works?

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amazon Echo Is A Cool Tool

Amazon Echo would be a spurge, since it's more technology than I need right now. And yet, it's a super cool tool at an affordable price. Echo is like having Sari in a room, except Echo is handsfree and responds to the name, Alexa (or Amazon). Ask Alexa all kinds of questions, such as "How many tablespoons are in 3/4 of a cup?" It will answer, "There are 12 tablespoons to 3/4 of a cup."

Echo the gadget is connected to Alexa, a cloud based service, so it can access all sorts of information when you ask; and the cloud is always getting smarter. 

Alexa can pick up your voice from anywhere in a room even with background noise like water running in a kitchen, or a television playing in a living room. Echo fills the room with immersive sound. That means it blurs the line between the physical and digital worlds.

Alexa also responds to commands. It can create shopping lists, provide news, traffic and weather reports, turn on lights, keep your calendar, set timers and reminders, plus reorder items from your Amazon shopping history if you have an Amazon Prime account. (Yikes, spends your money!)

You can play music off the internet from sites like Pandora, iHeartRadio and more; or have Echo read you audiobooks. If you ask, Alexa will even tell you jokes.

It would be easy for a household to get addicted to the convenience of Echo. Like what we saw on the Jetsons, or Star Trek right? Wow, whether you ask questions or give commands, the technology is real and available today. Not very expensive either. Cost: $179.99 with free shipping.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Caribbean Queen, A Favorite Song Of Mine

I featured Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean on a guilty pleasure song list before, but today it stands alone as one of my favorite pop songs. More correctly, it's a R&B song, but because it was a hit on pop radio, climbing all the way to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 (1984), let's call it a pop song.

I just learned that in other parts of the world, the song had other titles: European Queen and African Queen. That doesn't seem right! But I guess it depends on what you get used to hearing.

As it happens, I can have a setback, or be under stress, and if this song comes on, it brightens my mood instantly. I can listen to it anytime of the year, but it especially reminds me of summer, and I never get tired of listening to it. Ever.

On my wish list: I'd love to see Dancing With The Star's Derek Hough choreograph a Latin dance to the song. Something needs to replace the 1984 official video. It's not good enough for such a stellar foot-tapping, feel-good song, in my humble opinion. (Billy Ocean was handsome, yes. The singer likes a classy background dancer, yes, but I don't get the marionette theme.)

Need a quick pick me up? If so, click play and let the song work its magic! 

And feel free to share your favorite songs under comments. If you think about it, these songs are 3-4 minutes of theraphy. They get our brain to secret endorphin.

Word is out that Senator Chuck Schumer of New York loves to hear the Weather Girls's It's Raining Men (which also made one of my guitly pleasure lists, so I understand you, Senator ... God Bless Mother Nature! 

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th Of July

The Declaration Of Independence by John Trumbull

Trubull's famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence is rather idealized. Not only was the document not signed on July 4th, our Founding Fathers didn't all sign it on the same day. But that doesn't bother me. 

Our Founding Fathers were revolutionaries, and the democratic principals which gave birth to the United States were revolutionary ... and idealized. Who could have predicted how long a democracy would last?

Does it mean that the founders got everything right? We know they did not. Our nation from it's inception, was and continues to be based on compromise. Revolutions are usually imperfect and messy. 

We live in a more perfect union. More perfect unions happen step by step. Later there was a need for the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

What didn't get worked out lead to the drafting of the documents named above, as well as, to the American Civil War ... the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th and 14th Amendments, and so it goes. Our democracy is always evolving. Changing with the times.

With success and prosperity come responsibilities. The world is getting smaller.

And yet when I look at history, I am impressed with how smart our Founding Fathers were. The signers comprised a group of highly intelligent, educated men. Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration Of Independence, was influenced by the principles of the Enlightenment, as well as, the writings of John Locke. We had the brilliant minds of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. I am thankful that such able statesmen got our nation off to a good start.

Happy Birthday America!
Photo: Total Beauty - Jin Soon nails
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moodmatcher Luxe Twist Sticks

Recently, I discovered the best long lasting lipstick on the market! Women have used Moodmatcher Luxe Twist Sticks for 30 years. So where have I been?

Don't let the initial odd hues fool you.  They go on one color, but instantly change according to your body's chemistry. You get customized color that is ideal for you. Each lipstick transforms into one-of-a-kind color that is perfectly suited for your complexion and mood.

The silky smooth formula has "12 hours of staying power" without bleeding. It is "smudge proof, sweat proof and kiss proof," according to the retailer. I can verify that the color lasts for hours, but haven't actually tested the 12 hour claim. After several hours, I usually dab additional lip gloss over the Moodmatcher color to freshen up.

With vitamin E and aloe vera as ingredients, lips do, indeed, feel hydrated. Although Moodmatcher colors like a lip stain, it works like a lip treatment, or stay-on chapstick.

There are 6 rich colors -- that react differently to each person's lips.

The yellow turns into a light pink.
The green becomes a bright rose.
The orange transforms into a pink-coral.
The blue and pink sparkle turn into darker pinks.
The red becomes a red/plum shade.

Fran Wilson is the genius who created the innovative Twist Sticks to deliver soft, matte lip coverage that can take you from the office to a night out on the town. At $2.99 each, they are a steal!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

A Classic 3 Layer Carrot Cake

Photo: theheritagecook - 8'' carrot cake
My usual carrot cake is this recipe. But today I'm turning carrot cake into a birthday cake by making a rich, but not altogether unhealthy recipe from Southern Living. A birthday cake must have layers, right? Yes, it must!

Carrot Cake - turned up a notch:


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Sometimes I use part whole wheat flour.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (= 1 stick)
1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup peeled and grated apple


1) Wisk together the first seven (dry) ingredients, uniformly.
2) Stir together the next five (wet) ingredients, one at a time, beating with an electric mixer if you wish.
3) Combine the wet and dry agredients together. Incorporate, but don't over beat.
4) Fold in the grated carrots, grated apple, flaked coconut and toasted pecans.
5) Pour the batter into, choose one: (a) 3-greased 8 inch; or (b) 2-greased 9 inch cake pans.
6) Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester (I use a metal potato nail; you can use a fork) comes out clean.
7) Remove the cakes from the oven, and let cool 10-15 minutes. Next remove from the pans and cool completely before frosting.



8oz cream cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 box powder sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla (I use more.)


1) Mix all the ingredients together. Start with the cream cheese and milk. Add as much of the powder sugar as needed to get the right rich, yet creamy consistency. 
2) If you use 9 inch cake pans, you can carefully slice the center of each baked cake after cooled to get 4 layers, if you wish. (So depending on how ambitious you are, you will need to frost 2, 3 or 4 layers of cake.) As usual, frost the top, layers and sides of the cake. Extra tip: Professional bakers frost a cake 2-3 times to make it look beautiful. Refigerate the cake to let the icing set before repeating.
3) Finish by sprinkling the top with additional toasted pecans.

Judging by the crumbs and a lick of the frosting, this is a delicious cake. Can't wait for everyone to taste it! 

Lots of candles to add. Yikes, we are getting soo old!Birthday cake
9 '' carrot cake

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

The first time I was exposed to a novel was when Mr. Frittier read one out loud to our seventh grade class as we followed along. Occasionally, he had us read pages in silence. Reading literature together as a group was a rich experience I thoroughly enjoyed in grade school. At age 12, it introduced us to mature and weighty themes, I would not have understood otherwise.

The novel was To Kill A Mockingbird. It is my favorite prose of all time. I don't know if this is because it was my first adult book, or because it is an American classic. Likewise, I love the 1962 film.

If you get the idea that we were mature beyond our years, think again.

Once while the class quietly read a passage, Mr. Frittier had to step outside the room. During his absence, Ronnie Mattingly, a class clown, began to goof off. When Mr. Frittier returned to see that nearly everyone had stopped reading text to watch Ronnie act up, he roared, "MR. MATTINGLY, SIT DOWN!" 

It caused our most obedient classmate, Norma Oliver, the only student in the room still absorbed in the book, to jump sky high in alarm and me, who happened to be looking in the direction of  both Ronnie Mattingly and Norma Oliver, to burst out laughing, then get the giggles while the rest of the class grew as still as a rock. Mr. Frittier must have seen Norma too because to his credit, he let me slide for giggling. He just resumed teaching, putting into context what we should have read.

On July 14, 2015 a followup novel by Harper Lee, which she says was written in the 1950s, before she wrote The Kill A Mockingbird, will be published. Called Go Set A Watchman, it features an adult Scout Finch, who returns home to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus and reflect on the events of her childhood.
The announcement of this second novel shocked the publishing world, and the book is sure to be a bestseller. Critics fear it won't live up to Mockingbird, but really, how does anyone follow a masterpiece? Certain sectors have accused the 89 year old author's handlers of tricking her into agreeing to the new book's release. 

The heck with naysayers, IMO. The novel exists; we're lucky it wasn't lost; and I'm happy it's coming out. Ms. Lee's first great narrative stands alone. Booksellers ... here I come!

Will you read Go Set A Watchman?

Update: Reader of the blog, Barry, found this article about the book's publication. Thanks Barry! Also, here is a Wall Strueet Journal article about Harper Lee's father, who is the inspiration for Atticus Finch.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Homemade Chicago Style Pizza

Have you ever had ingredients in your refrigerator you didn't fancy eating, and therefore, didn't know what to do with them? Me too!

I had some lean deli ham, fresh mozzarella, shredded cheddar, red bell peppers, a small amount of jalapeƱo pepper, yellow onion, as well as, a can of chuncky tomato sauce.  Sometimes, "the whole is other then the sum of its parts."  In this case, hot pizza was more appealing then a ham sandwich with raw crunches.

In my freezer was something I don't often buy, a can of Grands biscuits. Now I remember why I don't buy them. It's a lot of bread for breakfast. Mostly, I like making buttermilk biscuits from scratch, because you can make only what you will eat.  Once you open a can of biscuits, you have to eat all of them. So they became my pizza crust. (I usually use homemade bread dough for a homemade pizza, but it was a nice break, not to have to prepare ahead.)

I added spices: dried garlic powder, onion powder, green Italian seasoning, extra oregano, a tiny amount of crushed red pepper, a little bit of salt and black pepper too. The idea was to give the pizza a little kick without setting your month on fire.

Sounds like a little of work, doesn't it? But, it wasn't. It involves 10 minutes of preparation and 20 minutes of baking in a very hot oven. Trying to mimic brick oven pizza, I set my oven for 400 degree F.

My iphone doesn't do the finished pizza justice. (That's why this is a writing, not a photography blog.)  Poor lighting aside, the pizza was delicious: Good crust, hot, stringy cheese, seared meat, some veggies!

Try it sometime, using ingredients you like. Fresh basil and pepperoni make scrumptious ingredients also, but I didn't let what I didn't have on hand stop me!

Use a 10 inch cast iron skillet for Chicago style pizza, or a cookie sheet to spread the dough out for a thinner crust. Tasty with ice tea, or craft beer.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

About Dad (And Mom) On Father's Day

Photo by Sara Speert
If you watch Games of Thrones, you may be upset with Stannis Baratheon for burning alive his young daughter, Shireen, at the urging of Melisandre, the red priestess, in order to overcome adversity, claim a kingdom and fulfill what he saw as his destiny.

Shireen was a fan favorite, and it was evil to see him betray the innocent, but precocious daughter he clearly loved. Costing him everything, it is a testament to the complexity of the show that we feel a tinge of sympathy for the man later.

Fortunately, my father was not a Stannis, but a Jon Snow with a good heart. Rather then approve, then watch the horror, my father would have run into the flames to save me. Every child deserves that kind of father. One who watches your back, not your death out of a misguided hope for favor.

On the other hand, I can't picture my mother running into a fire. Too hot! Too risky!! Too crazy!!! (Really, I can't see her singeing her hair.) But. In the end, I would have lived, with her taking charge also. She has a finger on reality, so after the first spark, she would have made a big fuss: ordering all of the king's men to jump in to save me! And guess what? They would have obeyed.

Moreover, my parents wouldn't substitute a Pope's judgment for their own, much less that of a religious fanatic who burns people for the Lord of Light; so as a child, I had nothing to worry about. There was no banning of shorts or TV or independent thinking in our house. Many of us are lucky to have the parents who raised us. 

For Father's Day, I'll share a story that involves both of my parents. I was 27 years old, already living in Manhattan, but on vacation for a week visiting family.

I went down to City Hall to replace a social security card, taking my birth certificate as proof. It was years before 9/11 made such things more complicated. But on this day, surely, I must have appeared before the most bureaucratic, nit picky, procedure following clerk in the Western Hemisphere. She would not accept my birth certificate as proof that I was using my own name, was born on the date listed; and indeed, was a citizen of the USA. She asked for 2 additional pieces of I.D.
So returning home, I sat in the living room, relating the events to my father, telling him I would go back down to City Hall on another day with more forms of identify to get my social security card.

Surprise number 1: Dad got so angry that he began to plan OUR return trip back down to City Hall, so WE could prove that I had been born ... and was who I said I was ... and entitled to my social security card. 

Surprise number 2: Just then my mother passed through the room on her way to the kitchen ... overheard the details and suddenly she was hopping mad too. She piped in that SHE would accompany me back down to City Hall ALSO!

Then I heard my father say, "You'll have your mother AND your father. We'll BOTH go with you to confirm to the clerk that you were born!"

Well, this was snowballing! But how could I not be touched? At 27 years old, I was still somebody's baby. And, they were going to make sure I got what was rightfully mine. 

An hour later, mom and dad had calmed down. Thank goodness for the poor unsuspecting, yet very thorough clerk.

Before I left town, I returned to City Hall ... with a friend, not my parents; and on my second trip, picked up my social security card quickly and efficiently, not needing the extra I.D. on that day. All's well that ends well. 

Happy Father's Day all you dear fathers!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Best Oils For Skin, Hair And Nails

At one time I used baby oil after showering to protect my skin from dryness. Right after bathing is the best time to seal in moisture. What's more, one of the changes I made over the last year was to replace baby oil with nature's organic oils. 

But nature's organic oils are more costly per ounce, and if you shower every day as lots of us do, the expense can really add up! Plus in comparing the various types of organic oils, some are 2-5 times more expensive then others. Are they worth it? And, is one type better for your skin and another for your hair? 

I do think switching to an organic oil is worth the extra money for a product you slather on your skin everyday, but you don't have to use the most expensive, or the rarer, harder-to-produce ones to benefit.

A dub of the more common types of organic oil does the trick of moisturizing your skin, hair and nails. In general, I use a richer coconut oil in winter and argon oil or olive oil in the summer. But I don't sweat the difference too much and stick to lower price choices from reputable manufactures, since we need a lot of product over a year's time. 

Here are 5 fabulous organic oils to consider:

Argon Oil - Comes from the fruit of Moroccan argon trees. It has high levels of vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Reportedly, it reduces
inflammation also (which keeps skin looking young). Great for skin, hair and nails.

Coconut Oil - Has Vitamin E, protein and lots of fatty acids. One of the heavier oils, making it perfect for winter's brutal cold. Good for skin, hair and nails.

Jojaba Oil - Contains vitamins B and E, as well as, minerals like zinc and copper. It absorbs easily into the skin. Yes, I love it, but it's one of the more expensive natural oils, so I don't buy it as often as I'd like. Great for skin or hair especially if you have oily skin or scalp.

Olive Oil - An affordable all around fantastic moisturizing oil for skin, hair and nails. Has vitamin E, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and seems to be a barrier from the sun's harmful ultra-violet rays. As a teenager, I borrowed the extra virgin olive oil from my mother's kitchen to use as an after-bath-skin-oil, a practice that didn't last long. She didn't approve and hid the bottle from me. So you see, Mom, I was ahead of my time!

Rose Hip Seed Oil - Has Vitamins A and C, omega fatty acids and linoletic acid. Excellent for uneven skin tone, acne and aging skin. For the skin, it speeds up cell turnover and the production of collagen. One of the more expensive oils, but if you need it, pay the piper.

You can click the links below for previous posts pointing you to retailers (I personally use) who offer affordable prices for top-notch organic oils.

Here's a super DIY recipe for an all purpose moisturizing cream from Popsugar Beauty. I need to buy glycerin to make it!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sydney Evans Jewelry

14k rose gold ruby lips ring
Working with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and gold, Rosanne Karnes is the designer and creative force behind Sidney Evans, a fine jewelry line. She uses cultural symbols, spirituality and humor as her inspiration. The expertly crafted rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces have a hip, modern aesthetic.
Blue ring: 18K gold, diamonds and turquoise
I have two jewelry quirks. They are quirks because there is no right or wrong when it comes to buying jewelry, only personal preferences. My quirks are: 1) I only what fine jewelry (platinum, gold or silver); and 2) I never pay big bucks for costume jewelry and usually don't want it.

So I can appreciate a jeweler who uses real 14k-18k gold and precious gems to create her line. Major department stores like Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom carry her. That's a plus because sometimes department stores run jewelry sales.
Resurrecting this ring from my Halloween blog
Another revelation ... if I were a millionaire, I'd buy lots of Sydney Evans bling, starting with the rings featured in this post. Since buying fine jewelry requires budgeting, I tend to stick with a few classic, timeless pieces. But hey if I had a huge budget, I could venture out a little more. You know what I mean?
Gold and diamond single stud earring
I love the designer's earrings also, but too often they sell as a single stud ... and I have two ears! I think for the price customers should get two earrings. I'm too cheap to make two purchases, one for each ear!

Oh well, the designer and I can agree to disagree on what you should get for the money. I still love her work -- beauty; spirituality; and a touch of whimsy!

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Party Perfect Coconut Pecan Cake

Let's declare June the start of cake season! We have summer birthdays in my family, so that's what it becomes. Not to mention the need to bring desserts to gatherings and cookouts.

Here is a recipe that won a best in show prize for Virginia Price at the Laramie County Fair in Wyoming. The cake was featured on The Chew, as well as, A Taste Of Home. The sugary topping along with the pecans remind me of Southern desserts. It has a duo texture that is moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. For all of its deliciousness, the cake is surprisingly easy to make:

Cake ingredients:

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions for the cake:

1) In a large bowl, mix the first eight ingredients in order until moist, but don't over mix.
2) Stir in the coconut and pecans.
3) Spoon into a well greased brundt pan and bake at 350 degree F for 60-70 minutes, or until done in the center.
4) Let cool for about 10 minutes, and remove from the bundt pan. Transfer to a serving plate.

Ingredients for the syrup topping

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Confectionery sugar for dusting.

Directions for the Topping

1. In a sauce pan on the stove top combine the water, butter and sugar.
2. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.
3. Turn off the heat and add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract to the syrup.
4. Next pour the hot syrup over the warm cake.
5. Let cool and soak for 4 hours. It will form a crust. 

If you like, dust the cake with confectionery sugar, a little shredded coconut and ground pecans before serving.

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