Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DIY Rich Soothing Hand Cream

Homemade hand cream is easy to make, so easy that I'm making two different formulas -- the first one to keep my hands moist and beautiful,and another for my mother's arthritic hands. What's that you say? Yes, I can hear you! My hands are too beautiful!! As are yours, and they deserve to be pampered. 

Rich Soothing Hand Cream (to treat dry hands)


3 tablespoons shea butter (If you have beeswax or cocoa butter, you may substitute either for the shea butter. All will thicken the hand cream. Alternately, if you want lotion, stop at 2 tablespoons. By the way, you can use this as body salve also.)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup of pure water
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons sweet almond oil
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E
14 drops of peppermint essential oil (You can substitute lavender, or rosemary, or your favorite essential oil. I like how peppermint essential oil soothes and tingles.)


1) Scoop the shea butter, coconut oil and water into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 20 seconds at a time until the shea butter and coconut oil melts. Whisk together.
2) Next whisk in the olive oil, sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil. (Note: You can substitute another organic oil, such as argon, jojoba oil or marula oil. They are interchangeable oils in making hand cream. Almond oil is more expensive, so I combine it with the cheaper, yet equally beneficial olive and grapeseed oils.)
3) Add the vitamin E and peppermint oil to the mixture. (Vitamin E gives your emollient a longer shelve life.) Continue to whisk briskly until the mixture turns into a cream. Alternately, you can use an electric mixer if you wish. I just mix by hand.
5) Scoop your hand cream into clean empty containers. 

Extra tip: If you can find the right all-in-one jar with a tight lid, you can eliminate the bowl and transfer. Nuke and mix or shake in the same jar, then screw on the lid!


Rich Soothing Hand Cream (to treat arthritis)


3 tablespoons shea butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon tincture of arnica alcohol
3 tablespoons cayenne powder

I keep tincture of arnica alcohol in my medicine cabinet to treat bruises. (If you only have arnica gel, substitute it.)


1) Nuke the shea butter and coconut oil in a microwave save dish for 20 seconds at a time until it melts.
2) Mix in the arnica and cayenne powder.
3) Whisk briskly until it turns into a cream.
4) Scoop the cream into clean empty containers.

Fortunately, I had all of the ingredients (except for the shea butter) on hand. You can buy them cheap from these retailers: I ordered my shea butter and organic coconut oil from Puritan's Pride; bought the almond and grapeseed oils at TJ Maxx; and got the arnica and vitamin E at the local drugstore. When I run out of peppermint oil, I'll check Puritan's Pride and TJ Maxx. So feel free to shop around to find the best price, but read labels to make sure all the ingredients are 100% what-they-say-they-are and nothing else. Peppermint oil should be 100% peppermint oil, coconut oil 100% coconut oil, and sweet almond oil 100% sweet almond oil, etc. Luckily, TJ Maxx carries a wide selection of quality essential oils! The retailer has quite a beauty section for less moola.

A bit of chemistry and voilà ... your own personal nourishing hand cream! You may never return to store bought again.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Nasty Gal For Edgy Clothes

I'm astonished I have waited until now to feature Nasty Gal, as I've upload its new styles on our Facebook page many times! If you're looking for chic affordable clothing, shoes or accessories, take a look at their website.

Nobody does cute, hip, edgy, fast fashion better. The offerings are eclectic. Nasty Gal has both vintage and ultra trendy clothing. Personally, I stay away from the super short dresses and breasts-revealing-necklines. (Having attended Catholic schools, a certain modesty stays with you forever :). To be sure, there are lots of other eye-catching styles in addition to the more risqué numbers, so women of all ages can find a cute, inexpensive piece for their wardrobe.

I especially love the Jeffrey Campbell designed shoes and boots, one pair is more adorable then the next! ... they are very affordable. It's always fun to see what is on sale, and I also recommend clicking the "Nasty Galaxy" section for fashion ideas and professional tips. Tuesdays seem to be the day of the week when new inventory hits the e-market.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Higher Tea For Your Health

Photos: Higher Tea
Over the course of the blog, I've written about the many health benefits of drinking tea. As my readers know, I had to give up sodas and supermarket bottled teas because they were eating my enamel, causing my teeth to become too sensitive. A cup of tea prepared from dried tea leaves at home is far less acidic and most likely retains more of its healthy, antioxidant polyphenols.

Serious tea drinkers will want to know where they can buy quality tea leaves. Higher Tea is one such tea merchant, founded by New Zealand Naturopath, Sophie Howard. The company's aim is to provide consumers "with healthy and pure tea," so that tea drinkers can brew a perfect cup of tea. To achieve its mission, the family-run company explores the world to find tea from every corner of the planet. Whether you drink popular English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, or want to try an exotic blend like Dragon Well Tea, or Coconut Pu-erh Tea, Higher Tea offers world class dried tea. 

I'm sampling three teas that Higher Tea selected for me:

1) Green Gunpowder Tea - A classic style of green tea from the Zhejian province of China. Caffeine free

2) Detox Tea - A senna and caffeine free blend to boost metabolism and balance the digestive system. This tea is a nice surprise. Tasty and gentle, it doesn't mess with your digestive tract in any unpleasant way like some other brands do, thankfully.

3) Weight Loss Tea - A blend to improve digestion and ease bloating and detoxifying. Also caffeine free. Although I don't tend to worry about the caffeine in tea -- it's less than coffee; without a doubt, I don't have to avoid drinking these three naturally caffeine free teas late at night.

All of the tea is 100% certified organic and blended in small batches. Refreshing and delicious, I especially like how each blend of tea lists its ingredients, as well as, how to measure and brew a perfect cup of tea. So often you don't know exactly how many minutes to seep a cup of tea for the best taste. The packaging gives you the correct brewing time for each tea. 
Higher Tea's website, too, has a wealth of tea information. The blog section tells you more about specific tea blends, plus gives wellness tips, such as how to sleep better, or reduce life stress.

The one bit of information that I believe customers will want to see added online is the weight of tea they are ordering. The packages I received were 3 ounces each. Online, customers can order quantity: 
1, 2, 3, etc. of tea, but I don't see the weight listed. Noneless, the quality of Higher Tea is top-notch and healthy. It makes a great hostess gift!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lovely Natural Nails


When I was in my early 20s, I polished my nails twice a week in my (then) signature shade, Revlon's All That Jazz. The color was a dark, plum red with shimmer. No one ever saw me without polished nails because well ... I always took the time to polish them. Now that I'm no longer in my early 20s, I don't have the time or inclination for the upkeep.

All That Jazz - my old signature color
My new signature color is Nicka's Sea Shell, a more forgiving off-white color with shimmer. (See the image below, it's the left, bottom bottle.) Chips are less noticeable in lighter shades, so nails can be polished once a week. But you know what? Most of the time, I don't polish my nails, period.

My newest fetish is groomed, short, all natural nails. I don't even buff them unless I get an ink stain on a fingerenail.

Healthy, natural nails are beautiful just the way they are. When you ponder it, your 10 fingernails and 10 toenails are a marvel. A natural wonder. How does Mother Nature grow a lovely nail? The hard part of the nail is made out of Keratin protein. Layers of dead, compacted cells cause your nails to be strong, yet flexible. 

So why do we spend years covering them up with nail polish? Why is red, pink, blue, purple, black or white considered more attractive then the color of flesh? Could it be what it represents? A person of leisure, who has the time and money to color her nails? I don't know the answer. Do you?

Lately I mainly polish my nails in the summer. And I am fine with that. 

There are many things we don't know in our early 20s ...

When I was one-and twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
       But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
       But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
       No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
       I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
       Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
       And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
       And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.
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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day crept up on me this year. (I thought it was next week.) Forget about sending flowers to my mother. She thinks flowers are a big waste of money and gets cross if you go that route. Weird, right? (Send her flowers to me!) So to make a long story short, I made her this free printable card, which she will like ... and that's all I care about!

In my pressed-for-time desperation, I discovered a website I believe is a cut above some others. It has a nice selection of pretty designs, and I especially like how the option [to print 2-sided (back and front)] produces a normal size greeting card. 

I used sturdy paper stock, plus a second sheet of regular weight printer paper (8.5 inch wide by 11 inch tall letter-size). After printing my design twice (on both sheets), I folded each sheet in half, then glued the ligher weight sheet inside the sturdy sheet of paper just to make a fancy card. With two layers of paper, the card has the weight to stand up. 
This is the inside of the card. You can make edits. I changed the color to blue, but didn't add a wordy message. I wrote a message by hand. You can also leave the inside page blank if you like.

Trust me, I'm far from crafty, so if I can make a lovely card, anybody can. Printed on good paper, the card looks mightly fine! I also mailed the card in a fancy, good paper stock envelope.

What a great find for occasional personalized greeting cards! Mix it up with store bought ones.

Happy Mother's Day to Mothers everywhere, and to my mom, Glücklicher Tag des Mamma! 

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

FOX'S Designer Off-Price Clothes

When you think about shopping for designer goods, your first thought might be to head downtown to New York's Soho, but uptown girls have a boutique for style in their own neighborhood. FOX'S is a family run retailer whose philosophy is to make "every woman look and feel special.'' 

Started nearly 30 years ago, there are now several outlets in six states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Florida and Georgia), which can be found on their website here. A four-story store, located at 1501 Third Avenue (on the corner of East 85th Street), offers designer clothes, accessories and shoes at off-prices, meaning it's not dirt cheap, but a savvy shopper can "catch the thrill of a great buy." FOX'S doesn't offer fast fashion, but chic upscale articles. The inventory includes coats, jackets, scarves, gloves, dresses, trousers, tops, purses, fashion jewelry, sunglasses and shoes. The buyers look for unique items that can be offered at a reasonable price. While some things are very affordable, you may have to save up for investment pieces that you will wear for years. If you let yourself, you can easily find something pretty to buy every time you enter the store.

FOX'S offers a total shopping experience. There are always upcoming events that customers attend for the new stock, discounts and refreshments. Knowledgeable sales associates are friendly and helpful. The customer service is unbeatable! Sharon is FOX'S stylish coats and outerwear specialist. She has years of retail experience and knows a bit about everything. Fashionestas can enjoy perusing without any pressure to buy. When in New York City, it's worth making your way uptown to visit. Warning: You are unlikely to leave empty handed!
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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 windy, nippy days of spring. Paired with a cardigan, or blazer, they look polished.

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, office jeans (that you can find here), dress sweat 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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