Saturday, November 28, 2015

Carine Roitfeld For Uniqlo

The Women Carine Silk Stole available at Uniqlo is a fabulous changing-weather accessory. Normally, $29, I bought the black with white polka dots color on promotion for $19, which is a steal for premium natural silk. A super cute and classic design. 

But note: Unqlo's description is a little misleading as the square of silk is a scarf, not a stole. So it's smaller than a stole. Still the scarf is a good deal for a quality product, and if you know it's a scarf before ordering, you won't be disappointed upon unfolding it.

Designed by Carine Roitfeld (Paris' fashion icon), the scarf feels smooth, sleek and substantial. Not only can you tie it around your neck, it is big enough to fold in half to cover your head to protect yourself on a nippy, breezy evening. You will look Audrey Hepburn esque!

Wearing a silk scarf is ideal during the spring and fall seasons before it's cold enough to pull out wool hats and scarves. Sometimes you need something to keep warm, but would be too warm in a winter scarf. Silk is just right. Somehow, it's both warm and light.

If you want to treat yourself to something stylish and practical, le voilà!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoughts Before Thanksgiving

Photo: A. Hickman Design Interior
Especially this year, I'm thankful to live in a peaceful country that values freedom and human life over ideology. I don't understand the type of hate and fanaticism our world must worry about now. I am truly shocked by what a group of indoctrinated thugs are doing to even their own people, their neighbors: raping and enslaving innocent girls, beheading young men who shave their beards, or refuse to join them in their brutality and destroying their own civilization.

I am aware, but I do not live in fear, and I am thankful to not have to live in fear. We should strive for the same tolerance, freedom and security for all people of all nationalities, of all religions all over the world.

EmojiI sympathize with the people of Paris ... mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who won't be coming home. Long live France!
Restoring peace will be a long and complicated process. I am grateful to have leaders who are much smarter then I am to tackle the job.

President Obama is criticized for his calm demeanor, but I am thankful for his intelligent, measured approach. He does not get the credit he deserves for his leadership. And the affordable health care act, which Obama spearheaded is working, domestically, according to published reports. It's a start in the right direction.
This year I am thankful for good doctors. Since being hit by a speeding bicyclist in Central Park, I've visited a team of specialists like no other year before. I'm grateful for the excellent care I've received.

As always I'm forever thankful for family and friends.

And I'm grateful for YOU, awesome readers and fellow bloggers. Thanks for stopping by ... this year in greater numbers! Let me know if there are any subjects you wish to know more about.
Let's count our many blessings! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Introducing The Hair Bungee
Unlike ordinary hair elastics that are shaped like a ring, a hair bungee is a single piece of silicone with hooks on both ends. Hook one end of the cord into your hair, wrap around the ponytail as snug as you like, then fasten with the other hook.

This new hair tie, designed by a hairstylist in Australia to meet the professional demands of high fashion, has taken runway shows around the world by storm. 

A hair bungee is perfect for creating smooth ponytails, polished up-dos and "controlling thick, curly or unruly hair,'' says the manufacturer. The cord is easy to put in and remove. With tension, the silicone material locks the hair in place. The tie will not slip out, and it will not pull or tug the hair.

The first hair bungees were made in three colors for blond, brown and black hair. Now they also come in bright rainbow colors.

A ponytail that stays pulled up all day, plus wrapping and unwrapping hair without damaging it is fantastic. Let the hair bungee hook you!
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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Oatmeal Muffins For Breakfast

Photo: Popsugar Australia
Recently, as I pulled a box of Krasdale oats out of my cupboard, a recipe for oatmeal muffins on its label caught my eye. Hmm ... easy and whole grainy, so I made a batch for breakfast. I like to reduce the fat and sugar if I can get away with it without sacrificing texture and favor. Still they are sweet enough.

Oatmeal Muffins


1 1/3 cups Old Fashion Oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup chopped nuts (whatever you have.)
3 tablespoons olive oil

Optional: 1/3 cup of raisins and/ or a handful of coconut flakes; a tablespoon of flax seeds. At another time, you can add 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, if you like.


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cup cake holders. (I have a muffin pan that makes big muffins, so I get 6 big muffins.)

2. In a mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda/baking powder, salt, cinnamon and olive oil.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and buttermilk.

4. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and stir just until moistened. Don't over mix.

5. Fold in the chopped nuts and optional ingredient (chocolate chips or raisins or coconut flakes).

6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

7. I like to sprinkle an extra teaspoon of oats on each muffin top. Looks so wholesome!

8. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Extra tips: You can substitute regular milk for buttermilk, but then use 3 teaspoons baking powder. Baking soda only works as a leavening agent when used with buttermilk, chocolate, vinegar or lemon juice.

Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to one cup of regular milk and let it sit for 20 minutes to curdle, if you perfer buttermilk, but are out of it.

Oatmeal muffins will satisfy your pasty craving along with offering some health benefits. Serve with coffee, or tea and milk. A smear of peanut butter on your muffin is tasty too. Enjoy!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Sneaker Flat

Tory Burch Miles Metallic Perforated Sneaker
When I was a child my mom never wore sneakers. Like Mad Men's Betty Draper, she changed from house slippers into a little heel to begin her day. If she attended a fancy shindig, she slipped from one-inch heels into 2 1/2 inch heels.

Thank goodness those days are gone! We are more casual today, dressing for comfort. However, less formal doesn't have to mean less fashionable.

If you jog or play sports you'll still want to wear Nike's or Adias, especially made for the sport to prevent injuries, but for walking on pavement and running around town, there are a slew of posh sneaker flats on the market. 

They come in a variety of styles, colors and price points. Many are designed to cushion heels and provide arch support minus the chunky appearance of a traditional sneaker.

Recently I noticed that my mom had discovered the sneaker flat! Nonetheless, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Even without a heel, mom always looks polished. These days, there is never a reason to schlep around in ugly footwear ... or a high heel. Nonetheless, she still wears the smaller heel!
Kate Spade New York

Puma Saba Patent
Lands End Everyday Ballet

Salvatore Ferragamo Cap Toe

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Laundry Stain Removers

Photo: Andy Crawford/Getty Images
Truthfully, I don't want to purchase a zillion different products to do the laundry. Doing laundry should be simple not complicated. I stock an all purpose laundry detergent, bleach (for whites, though I use it sparsely) and Woolite (for hand washing delicates). Sometimes I also add a cup of white vinegar along with laundry detergent to the wash. I buy everything in big sizes, so I don't have to return to the store too soon to restock.

Furthermore, you can save time and money by making some of your own spot removers, as well as, fabric softener.

Quick Spot Remover: If you act fast, you can get most stains out of a shirt, like a spot of tomato sauce or cranberry juice with a dab of dish washing soap and water; or a splash of seltzer water. Get up from the table immediately and run to a sink before the stain has a chance to dry.

If you need to soak a garment overnight to remove a tough stain, such as wine, blood or grass that has already set in, I like this DIY solution --

Heavy duty stain remover:
Photo: PopSugar


1/4 cup of baking soda

1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup of hot water
(I sometimes add a bit of liquid soap to the mix for good measure.)


1) Mix together; 2) rub into the stain; 3) let set overnight; 4) laundry the next day.

Extra tip: Blood is a protein stain, so if you have meat tenderizer in your spice rack, sprinkle it on the stain to help remove it. Always use cold, not hot water on blood stains.

After reading that clothes get cleaner without fabric softener, I stopped using it. Reportedly, fabric softer builds up on clothing, then later dirt clings to it. However, for die hard fabric softener users, there's no need to buy it. Your hair conditioner does the job. Add 2-3 capfuls of any brand of hair conditioner to the raise cycle; or to a sock and throw into the dryer, as you would softener dryer sheets. 

Alternatively, regular or wool dryer balls will prevent static cling, as will a safety pin pinned to a sock or wash cloth. (BTW, synthetic fibers (polyester, rayon, acrylic) produce static cling, not natural fibers (cotton, linen, wool); therefore a fabric softener does nothing for a load of cottons.)

Here are several more household cleaners you can make yourself cheaply with greener ingredients you probably already have at home. Keep the process and products simple, so you're not always running to the store!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Pendleton Collection

Yikes, Christmas and Hanukkah are only seven weeks away! I don't know about you, but I'd rather get one quality gift, than lots of lesser or impractical ones. So in the coming weeks, I'll try to feature a few retailers to consider.

Pendleton, the celebrated Oregon weaver of fine wool blankets and classic American clothing, is offering some lovely gifts for him, her and the entire family. Operating since 1863, the textile manufacturer is known for its stellar craftsmanship and attention to details -- finishing "every blanket by hand, cutting them to size, sewing edges and carefully inspecting each one," says the website.
The apparel and home collection are not cheap, but affordable. The polar opposite of trendy, they are investment pieces. Whether a Beaumont shirt, signature coat, or eco-wise wool blanket, the goods will hold up to last a lifetime.
The selection of possible holiday gifts is immense -- everything from Pueblo Crossroads jewelry, brass-studded-wingtip-boots and frontier shirts to a Chevron mirror, patterned-handcrafted-rugs and virgin-wool-sofas-with pewter-nailhead-trims-and hardwood-legs.
There are even blanket inspired coats to keep Fido warm and happy, either at home or while traveling.

Cute stuff! If you can't afford the full price of a wool blanket or parka, a $20, etc. gift certificate is very thoughtful. Gifts of merit for all your family, friends or pets.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

10 Tastes Of Autumn

Photo by Bernadette Durham in The New York Times
Continuing on the subject of Autumn: Wow ... isn't the above photo, which recently appeared in the New York Times gorgeous? According to the paper, it was taken in Bedford, New York by Bernadette Durham. It makes me want to take a walk in the park.

Once Autumn arrives I can't get enough of certain foods. They scream HARVEST TIME ... THE FALL SEASON is upon us. Get your appetites ready for:

1) apples - My favorite apple variety is probably the tangy McIntosh. I also love a sour Granny Smith, or Empire, or Cortland ... there's no good reason not to mix it up!

2) butternut squash - So simple to cook too: Slit a few holes in the squash with a knife, then microwave until tender - about 8-10 minutes.

3) sweet potatoes - Either oven bake wrapped in foil (about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F), or microwave, rolled in a paper towel (about 8 minutes) until tender. At one time, I thought oven baked potatoes ruled, but I've gotten used to microwaved "baked" potatoes too.

4) pears - Softer than a crisp apple, but plump, sweet, juicy and scrumptious!

5) popcorn - A bowl of popcorn is so munchable!

6) peanut butter cookies - 3 ingredients: Mix 2 cups peanut butter; 2 eggs; 1 cup sugar in a bowl. Form the cookies, score the tops with a fork; bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. Easy!

7) cabbage - savory, boiled and eaten with white potatoes; or made into kimchi, the spicy, pickled, national dish of Korea; or prepared as cabbage-tofu soup. Voil
à! One head of cabbage, 3 ways to eat it.

8) soups: pea, bean, lentil, egg thread, vegetable beef or miso. Soups are warm and soothing after strong winds blow you to pieces.

9) cornbread - Several years ago, I bought a 10 inch cast iron skillet just to make pans of cornbread, but the skillet is versatile for most baking and stove top cooking. Meatloaf bakes golden brown in a cast iron skillet. Mmm, follow up with gravy.

10) real apple cider -- As an adult, I discovered alcoholic apple cider in a neighborhood British pub. Up until then, I only drank an apple-juice-like-apple-cider. I didn't know what I was missing. Real apple cider is very refreshing! 

Ten tastes that ... well, um ... taste amazing at this time of year! Simple, inexpensive and healthy too. What would you add to this list?

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Autumn Musings


Although I mourn the end of summer, there is much to appreciate about autumn. Falling leaves and crisp air. A chance to wear soft cashmere sweaters and chic leather boots. The taste for all things pumpkin, including pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte and pumpkin butter.

Autumn is the only time of the year I crave caramel apples. I prefer caramel apples rolled in peanuts. Not chocolate, that's overkill; and not pecans, coconut or walnuts -- if it ain't broken, why fix it? Indeed to each his own, but chopped peanuts are perfection on a caramel apple.

Like a rite of passage, autumn is also the only time of the year I eat candy corn. I don't know why, but in October and November super sweet candy corn is super delicious.

And lets consider the wisdom of the fall holidays: Holloween and Thanksgiving are primarily eating holidays. They are festive and fun, not overwhelming.

Life starts up again in the fall. Classes begin, movies come out, books are published, television shows premiere, and extracurricular activities resume. Committees start meeting. Choirs start practicing. Event directors start planning.

As we fall back, Daylight Saving Time gives us an extra hour of sleep. While I like extra Zzz, time that switches back and forth makes no sense in the 21st century. Someone please just pick a correct time, and leave it.
If  you (like me) ever long for warmer days, or find yourself walking around at 5:00 p.m. in darkness, you can always comfort yourself with a cup of pumpkin latte, or a bite of a caramel apple. BTW, I made my very first batch of pumpkin butter last week  ... see above ^ (with recipe here). Oh yes, grab a spoon and a biscuit because after summer, the oven gets turned back on. Welcome back fall.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween Everyone

Photo: BoulderWorldHalloween
Halloween is a spectacular holiday of imaginative decorations and fun costumes. Monsters, wild beasts, bats and black cats come out to play, while vampires, witches, ghosts, zombies and all forms of evil beings rise to walk the earth. But despite sharing space with the undead on Fright Night, no one gets hurt, or at least that's what they want us to believe! Look below: Several eager hosts are waiting for the night's trick-or-treaters to visit. Won't you come in?
Gates open and lights turn on to help you find your way.
The flickering orange and flying black welcoming committee will greet you!
Refreshments are brewing. Hope you like creepy, crawly things!
A helpful, bandaged guide will lead you in the right direction, "Follow me!"
Antidote, anyone?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Top Round London Broil Steak

Photo: Pinterest - London broil board
When you think of a desirable cut of beef, usually the most expensive cuts, tenderloin, fillet mignon, or porterhouse come to mind. They are from parts of the cow that don't get overworked and so have marveling, or fat that is clearly visible before cooking. The pockets of fat, or marveling, produces a tender piece of beef.

As mouthwatering as higher priced cuts are, I often prepare a cheaper piece of beef for an equally satisfying dinner. 

I'm very fond of Top Round "London Broil" steaks. Admittedly, this cut requires braising -- slow cooking in liquid -- to tenderize what is otherwise a tough piece of beef. However with braising, the meat falls apart when pierced with a fork; and it is a lean, delicious cut of beef. There is no fat to trim. Add potatoes, carrots and a green salad for a balanced, stick-to-your-ribs supper.

Here in the USA, supermarkets sell beef as London broil steaks, but the term really refers to a cooking method, and the packaging should also list the cut of beef: Top Round, Flank, Shoulder, Shank, etc.

Not only is a Top Round London broil steak easy to prepare and tasty to eat, it is easy to clean up! You can make it in a crock pot, but I usually simmer the meat in a covered skillet on a stove top for 3 hours. Here's my easy-breezy-one-skillet recipe:

Set aside a 12'' pan brushed with olive oil.

Top Round London Broil Steak


1 1/2 to 2 pounds top round steak (If thicker and heavier, technically, it's a roast, but as long as the meat is flat, you can use the skillet-on-a-stove-top method.) 
2 stalks of celery
3-4 carrots
1 small onion
3-4 garlic cloves

Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, dried garlic, onion powder, ground celery, a few turns of the nutmeg mill, dried oregano, Herbs de Provence, Worcestershire sauce (or a squirt of soy sauce and cider vinegar, sans WS)

Optional: potatoes


1) Take the steak (or steaks) out of the refrigerator and season both sides to taste with the dried spices. I use salt and dried spices as a rub, then let the meat rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
2) After resting, sear the meat on both sides in an oiled skillet.
3) Next scrap the bottom of the pan before adding 4 cups of water. Mix the meat scrapings in the water for flavor. Bring the water and meat to a boil, then lower the flame. Cover and simmer.
4) Dice the garlic cloves, onion and celery. Add to the pan, along with carrots and quartered potatoes, if you wish. Add the Worcestershire sauce and remaining spices to the skillet.
5) The potatoes and carrots will be tender after about 20 minutes. Remove and put aside while the meat continues to simmer. Alternately, you can put the potatoes in to cook the last half hour, or so. Either way works.
6) Keep simmering until the meat is tender. I turn the meat over about every hour. If your water evaporates, add another cup. You can test by poking the beef with a fork. It will fall apart when done.
7) When the meat, potatoes and carrots are tender, remove from the liquid. Place on a serving plate.
8) If you wish, add some corn starch (per the directions on the box) to thicken the gravy. Make sure you scrap the bottom of the pan to make the gravy. Taste and spice again if necessary.

Supermarkets often sell top round steaks at $2.99-$3.99 per pound on sale, which is a steal! 

Although it takes time to tenderize, there's no real labor involved. Leftovers make delicious beef sandwiches, or a 2nd meal during the week. Bon Appetit!

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