Thursday, June 21, 2018

Keeping Your Dog Off Your Funiture

Photo of Dude by Rebecca Winters Keegan - Dude began life by having to stay off the bed.
If you're thinking about getting a family dog and wonder if there are products to keep him off your furniture ... yes, they exist. But. My advice is to forget about it! Your dog likes resting on your couch and sleeping in your bed as much as you do. Perhaps, more! If you can't share, forget about having a family pet. 

Save yourself and your animal the stress, the grief and ultimately, the futility of training him to stay off the couch, or sleeping on top of an unoccupied bed. He's too smart for that! He'll just wait until you leave home and jump up on them anyway.

Training him to stay off the bed is an utter waste of your and your pet's time. Years ago our family dog was not allowed on a brand new couch, but at 7 am, when the alarm clock sounded, the next sound we heard were his feet hitting the living room floor ... that is unless he was sleeping at the foot of our bed. I mean, what are you going to do, lie awake all night? Trust me: After potty training, better to accept the arrangement. Your butt is tired. His butt is tired. At the end of the day, your dog will win this one!
Teach him manners. Give him chew toys and enough exercise, so he isn't bored and naughty in the house. Bath him once a week to get rid of those doggy smells. Brush him if he sheds. Vacuuming helps. Buying the right color and type of furniture helps too. Your big furball is worth it!

Think of it this way, dogs and cats are like family. Treat them as such. They are meant to be indoors and treated like members of the household.

Good training with flexibility, including sharing a couch, is a win-win. Your dog is happy, and you get snuggles, cuddles and love!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Gemstone Chrome Diopside

Le Vian designed for Macy's
Ever hear of Chrome diopside? Me either ... until recently. It's a beautiful deep forest green color that rivals an emerald. The color comes from traces of the element chromium. Before a large mineable deposit of the gem was discovered in Siberia in 1988, the supply was far too limited to be brought to market. Chrome diopside forms at the entry of diamond mines. Before the discovery, mainly jewelry collectors owned it. Unlike many other stones, such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds, the color of chrome diopside is natural without the standard (and acceptable) industry practice of heat treatment to make the stores transparent. The deep green color, along with its clarity give the stone its value.
Photo: Ebay - Russian Diopside Sterling Silver Necklace

Why would you buy chrome diopside in lieu of emeralds if drawn to the rich green hue? Because they are as beautiful as emeralds and cheaper since the demand is not yet as high. Some jewelers expect the price for chrome diopside to rise as soon as the public becomes more aware of them. One jewelry expert said, "and as soon as they are renamed!"🙂
Photo: Overstock - Miadora Chrome Diopside with diamonds
Chrome diopsides (a 5.5-6.5 on Moh's scale of hardness) will scratch easier than diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds, as they are softer. For that reason, a neckless is a more practical setting for the stones, than pieces that take a beating, such as a ring or bracelet. Like pearls (a 3-4 on Moh's scale), these green sparklers are delicate and need to be treated with care.

Nonetheless, if looking for natural, untreated green gems, now is the time to consider chrome diopsides while they are less expensive than emeralds.
Photo: Wikepedia

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day Sunday

Photo: Bigstock
Well, here we are ... another Father's Day to remember a man who is dearly missed!

A real family man, I recall his calm, steady presence. He made every situation better by being a part of it. Always had our backs, while giving us the freedom to figure out things for ourselves. He provided plenty of guidance and boundaries, but didn't sweat the small stuff.

Dad's favorite saying was, "Learn from other people's mistakes. Life is too short to make them all yourself."

Photo: Compassion

When I was a teenager still living at home, I passed a widow to see my sedulous Dad petering around in the backyard ... fully engaged in figuring out creative ways of whipping into manicured shape the grass; our magnolia tree; and the tomato and green pepper plants he set out. Sometimes he planted cucumber, curled parsley (in a flower pot) and several rows of chives also.

Just a little garden: A small rectangle section of the yard was roped off with cotton string and long poles inserted into the ground to support the growing steams of the vegetables. Dad then cut pieces of aluminum foil, hanging them on the twine. The Sun's reflection on the sheets of foil was his trick in scaring hungry, forager birds away from his tomatoes and green peppers. He claimed it blinded them.🌞 Certainly, my Dad was in his element in our backyard.

My Father occupied a similar role in our family. He was a solid, knowing, protective force, making us feel safe just by being there.

The year he died, my Mom wanted to keep up the backyard,
even setting out some tomato plants in early May. My Father made it look so easy, and although Mom worked hard doing everything she saw him do, she just didn't have the knack. Weeds escaped her; she didn't know how to trim next to a sidewalk; and she produced no tomatoes. One day I entered the backyard on a visit home. I was struck by my Mom's defeated face as she turned around to quietly say, "Grass, I hate it." Her sad tone was a painful reminder to both of us: The gardener was gone forever.😢💙

We would carry on as the living must ... yet in a different form.

In a myriad of ways, my Father was the right man for our family. We miss so many things about him, treasuring our memories and evoking how he was the best Dad ever!
Photo: The Indian Express

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Visit Victoria's Secret's Hidden Museum

Photo: Time Out/Victoria Secret Show
'Tis prime time in New York City for tourists, and I'm beginning to see the out-of-towners walking around sightseeing. Welcome all to the city that never sleeps!

I'll write a few blogs of fun things both natives and guests could miss unless someone tells you about them. 

All the fashionestas should walk up 5th Avenue beginning at about 47th Street to the Upper East Side to look at the display windows, as well as, enter the boutiques of interest, then walk back down Madison Avenue doing the same. Don't rush. Stop for coffee along the way at Ladurée (864 Madison Avenue) or Nespresso (935 Madison Avenue).
Photo: TimeOut 
Victoria's Secret, the flagship store (at 640 5th Avenue) has a secret! There's a lingerie museum hidden inside the shop. It's up on the 3rd floor. On display are the giant wings and sexy attire (including a $3 million bra) worn by the Angels for the yearly Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which is broadcast on television each December. The museum is a retrospective of fashion accompanied by video and music from the runway show and more. Free admission to the public, along with a souvenir runway poster. Unlike most museums, you stand right next to the exhibits. I popped in yesterday, and it's not to be missed. The staff is so lovely too! There's also a big sale occurring in the store on the the 1st and 2nd floors, making a stop an excellent time to pick up some lingerie, sleepwear or fragrances.
Photo: Sari Marissa G.
Victoria's Secret may be one of the more affordable shops on the block. Still a stroll up 5th Avenue and down Madison is a heavenly experience for true fashionistas who come to Manhattan!
Photo: Sari Marissa G. 
For visitors who want more structure, I recommend booking a Window's Wear Tour of 5th Avenue. The guides are knowledgeable, engaging and share insider tips. They will tell you about the Jeanne Toussaint necklace that has "a staring role in the Ocean 8" film and now sits in Cartier's front window. The 2-hour tour costs: $35.

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summer Skillet Cornbread

Photo: Serious Eats - Vicky Wasik
Food is a serious topic on THE SAVVY SHOPPER because as my Mama says, "We have to eat every day!" Hence, food is a huge part of everyone's budget, not to mention everyone's time and a source of entertainment and staying healthy. We all gotta eat! 

Tonight I made skillet cornbread. It is so moist and delicious, I will share the recipe so that I, too, can return here to make it again over the summer. Eat it with anything you like, soup, chili, fried chicken or pork chops. Southerners snack on cornbread washed down with a glass of buttermilk.

Summer Skillet Cornbread


1/2 can (1 cup) whole corn (including 1/2 the juice in the can)
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk ( I add a little bit more if the batter seems dry.)

Optional: spices
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 turns of the black pepper mill
a sprinkle of parsley
2 tablespoons of butter
Olive oil to coat the pan

Please note: Sugar does not belong in cornbread. 


1) In a mixing bowl, add the above ingredients in order and incorporate with a fork. (If I don't have company, I omit the butter in the batter. The other ingredients make the corn bread delicious without butter, and I generously coat the pan with extra virgin olive oil, so a bit of the fat food group gets absorbed from the pan.

2) Pour the batter into a well oiled, heated 10 inch skillet. After the pan is hot, I lower the heat, cover the skillet with a lid and let the cornbread cook on low until one side is brown (and the top solidifies from the steam). The cornbread rises in the hot pan. 

3) When the top is no longer runny, take a spachelor to flip the cornbread over to brown the 2nd side. (Alternatively, you can simply pour the cornbread batter into a baking dish to bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Skillet cooking is faster and ideal on a hot day when you don't wish to turn on the oven.)
To sisters Liz and Anita, thanks for the inspiration.
After the cornbread is golden brown on both sides, remove from the skillet and slice. Eat hot. Tonight I paired it with smoked Virgina ham, vegetables and a salad.

Feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to feed a crowd. If so, you probably need to bake it in the oven. More difficult to flip, plus you'd need the MOTHER of HUGE frying pans!

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Shoe That Grows

A few days again, we had fun Oooing and Ahhing over some of Diana, Princess of Wales' stunning sapphire jewelry. Now let's look on the flip side of life. But this too is an uplifting blog, for there exists a shoe company making a difference. If looking for a good cause, you can join them. People get inspired to help others in need around Christmas, during Lent, or anytime simply because they can. 

Do you know that 3 billion people live in poverty -- nearly half the world's population? Moreover, 1/3 of a billion people are extremely poor living on less than $1.25 a day. 

However for the millions of children who can't afford shoes, a non-profit has stepped up to help fill the basic need.

Not having shoes is an enormous hurdle. Not only do shoes save children from cuts and infections from wounds, they stop podoconioisis from getting into their bloodstreams through the soles of their feet, leading to serious health problems. Furthermore, many undeveloped countries do not let children attend school barefoot, so these children never learn to read or write.

And children fortunate enough to acquire a pair of shoes outgrow them leaving them to once again go barefoot, or wear shoes that no longer fit.

On a trip to Kenya, a young American man, named Kenton Lee, noticed this plight and decided to do something about it. He returned home with a vision. Although not an inventor or shoemaker, Lee perfected  a shoe that grows 5 sizes with a child and is made of durable materials -- a sturdy leather upper and compost rubber sole -- to last 5 years. The shoe adjusts and expands in 3 areas to fit a foot as it grows.

For $15 we can buy a pair of shoes for a penniless child. How often do we get to change a life significantly for such a small sum? 

If you wish to learn more, here is The Shoe that Grows' website. 

Have you ever thought about what life would be like without shoes? And what your life would be like without the benefit of going to school? Lastly, did you already know that many children in the world cannot afford something as essential as a pair of shoes?

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

For The Love Of Sapphires

From the Saudi Arabian set: sapphire and diamond necklace with earrings.
Diana, the Princess of Wales and I share something in common ... our mutual love of blue sapphires. Reportedly, Diana favored the gems because they matched her eyes, whereas, I adore all things blue and sparkly.

Sapphires (like rubies are corundums and the 2nd hardest stones after diamonds (which btw are crystalline forms of pure carbon). Whereas, tons of diamonds exist in the world, sapphires are rare (followed by rubies, then emeralds). 

It takes Mother Nature thousands of years to form the precious stones.

A sapphire's color is the single most important characteristic in determining its value. More vital than it's clarity, since unlike diamonds, there are few clean natural sapphires in nature. (The same is true of rubies.)

While sapphires are mined all over the world, the top quality ones come from (in best to next best order): 1) Kashmir, 2) Burma, 3) Ceylon/Sri Lanka and 4) Elsewhere (like Australia, Madagascar, Thailand and the USA among other places). It comes as no surprise that no new sapphires are mined in the most coveted areas like Kashmir or Ceylon making those sapphires rare, expensive and thus, unaffordable for the average person.

Moreover, sapphires (and other gems) need skillful hands to clean, cut, polish and craft them into fine jewelry. Ok, 
school's out for the summer!🎶🎵 And now the fun begins ...

Let's take a look at Diana, the Princess of Wales' exquisite sapphire jewelry collection. Alas, a love of blue sapphires is where Diana and my similarities of lifestyles end.🙂

Yet amazingly in life, when people can buy their own bling, other people fall all over themselves to give it to them for free! Upon her marriage, Diana received a suite of gorgeous blue sapphires, including a necklace, earrings (see 1st photo) and ring from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a man she had never met! The Princess of Wales already had her beautiful 12-carat sapphire and diamond starburst engagement ring, therefore she had the Saudi sapphire ring (of Burmese origin) turned into a comely double-purposed choker and headband (see middle photos). 

Diana's iconic 7 string pearl choker with a big center sapphire was refashioned from another gift. The sapphire at the center of the necklace started life as a brooch, an engagement gift from her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who has a few lovely sapphires of her own. 

Diana's sapphire and diamond drop earrings you see paired with her choker and headband (see middle images) were also favorites. 

Next a sapphire bracelet (in the above photo on the left), as well as, Diana's prior mentioned oval sapphire with diamond earrings are both part of that impressive Saudi Arabian wedding suite of jewelry.

In the above image Diana wore the Saudi bracelet with a 2nd one: The bracelet on the right, featuring 8 oval shaped sapphires and simmering diamonds, is thought to be a gift from Dodi Al Fayed.

Not only was The Princess of Wales a fashion icon, she had the crème de la crème of sapphires! It is impossible not to be in awe by what Mother Nature with man's artistry can do. Sooo ooh and ahh worthy! Do you have a favorite?

Another question to ponder: In Diana's day, a royal had to dress the part. Her wow factor brought attention to her charities. Likewise, today we have celebrities (without the expectation or crown) who champion the poor, while looking like they spend a million bucks on their couture gowns, jewelry and images.

Let's pretend it is you: Would you wrestle with having so much wealth knowing how poor over 50% of the world is? How do you reconcile the needs of many with the over-the-top materialism? It's complicated, isn't it?🤔

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

NARS Orgasm Dupes

Photo: Sephora
Recently I featured the iconic NARS Orgasm Collection, a peachy pink with gold shimmer shade. It's fresh and polished with the ability to make every skin tone glow. Looks especially lovely worn in the spring and summer. But NARS is an expensive brand, and sometimes we resist spending $60 bucks to buy it! So here are the very best matches, dare I say Fake NARS Orgasms, um ...  knockoffs, dead ringers ... dupes for less:
Photo: Temptalia
For NARS Orgasm Blush:

The Doppelgänger is: Milani in Dolce Pink.🎀

Best runner-ups include: 
  • Sleek in Rose Gold (Slightly more gold then NARS, yet it is an absolute favorite of makeup enthusiasts everywhere.)
  • Revlon in Tickled Pink (The shimmer finish has the gold illuminaton.)
  • Milani in Luminoso #05 (a tad duller in color than Dolce Pink. Build this one.)
  • Makeup Geek in Romance - rich color (One swat.)
  • the Balm in Hot Mama! - rich color (One swat.)

For NARS Orgasm After Glow Lip Gloss:

The Doppelgänger is: Burt's Bees Lip Gloss in Sunny Day.🎀

Best runners-up include: 

  • Revlon ColorBurst Lip Gloss in Peony
  • Milani Amore Shine Liquid Lip Color in Delight #01
  • Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Beige Rose #602 (It has a satin finish. The shade is hard to find now. I included it since it is such a close match, has rich color with staying power and, indeed, feels sensational! Check Ebay and Amazon periodically for it.
  • L'Oreal in Peachy Fuzz #417 (Less of a Doppelgänger then the others. The most peachy of the peachy-pink choices. But! It is a gorgeous color with pretty gold shimmer. Unique, natural and understated. Rich, moist formula too. Maybelline and L'Oreal give you the exact same high quality lipstick for under $7. Try each brand, and fell in love!
Honorable mention: The best NARS Orgasm Doppelgänger in a lip balm is: Eos Lip Balm in Coral Shimmer. Smooths your lips with a pop of Orgasm-like color.

All of the above NARS Orgasm Dupes are dirt cheap at Ulta, CVS, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Bed, Bath and Beyond, as well as, other drugstores. Consider this blog your best color/texture matches Bible of the hue. Keep your money in your pocket and a shade of Orgasm on your face!

What??? I. didn't. name. it.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

NARS Orgasm Collection: 3 New Products

NARS' popular Orgasm makeup for cheeks and lips is practically a label of its own within the NARS brand. The peachy-pink with gold shimmer hue is universally flattering on every skin tone. It creates an understated and polished finish. You look natural ... only better!

The 3 new products added to the Orgasm Collection are: (1) Repackaged Blush -- in 2 shades: Orgasm and Super Orgasm; (2) Afterglow Lip Balm and (3) Illuminating Loose Powder 

The new makeup items feel and look sensational. The colors last all day. I know, I put on samples from Sephora yesterday. 

That said, you really can't go wrong with any of the other cheek or lip products in the NARS Orgasm Collection including:
  • Last year's Orgasm Blush
  • The Orgasm and Super Orgasm Lip glosses - offer radiant color and sophisticated shine in an ultra-smooth, non-sticky formula.
  • The Orgasm Lipstick - a satin, creamy lipstick that provides rich, lasting color. 
  • The Orgasm Multiple is the original, multipurpose stick for the eyes, cheeks and lips. Adds dimension and highlights for a perfected, glowing complexion.
  • The Orgasm Liquid Blush - A silky, light fluid formula that imparts a natural-looking, second-skin finish. One drop gives cheeks a healthy-looking glow. 
  • The Orgasm Nail Polish in the iconic shade.
In a nutshell: A spectacular color from a spectacular brand!

Last night my NARS Orgasm cheek and lip color looked so lovely, I didn't want to wash it off. But it was the right thing to do before bed. A pretty shade that doesn't look as good on bed linen.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lunya Restore Sleepwear

Lunya Restore sleepwear is not exactly fancy or cheap. But it is FDA tested to give you a better night's sleep. How so, you may ask? According to the company, the pajamas are made of celliant, a fabric that converts body heat into infrared energy. The infrared energy returns to recharge the body every night (just like your computer devices do when plugged into a proper source). The claim is, it increases your energy, helps you recover from your day of workouts and sleep comfortably and better. I don't know what science says, but millionaire athletes such as Tom Brady do wear celliant performance clothing to help their bodies recover from their sports.

As sleepwear goes, I like the minimalist, basic style. It is soft, smooth, cozy and modest enough to wear as a guest in someone else's home. And, I prefer the sleep dress, in a color (over neutrals). But for $68 to just under $180 ... ouch, I wish it costs less!

For the money, I'd be tempted to buy their washable silk pajamas ... but they don't claim to have any recharging properties. So nah, let's go with advanced technology. To be honest, I am slow to spend this chunk of change on pajamas. Tom Brady, probably not!

What do you think?🐑 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Lemon Elderflower Cake

Photo: AM-NY
Did your invitation to the wedding of Great Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get lost in the mail? Oh what a coincidence, mine too! Recently, I've looked for a tasty lemon cake recipe and as luck would have it, the Mountbatten-Winsors are serving a fancy lemon cake after the ceremony. For all my readers not attending the nuptials, nor the after parties, I've got your back. Have a slice of the royal wedding cake. Here is a recipe. (Theirs requries 500 eggs and 200 lemons!):

Photo: Huffington Post of elderflower blossoms
👑Ingredients for the cake

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (You can substitute milk if you wish.)
3 extra large eggs (Large works too.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup), plus the lemon zest
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial (Ederflower liqueur can be substituted.)

👑Ingredients for the elderflower syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup elderflower cordial

👑Ingredients for frosting

1-2 cups lemon curd (For homemade here.)
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial

🏰Directions for the cake:

1) With an electric mixer cream together the sugar and butter. 

2) Add the buttermilk, than the eggs, one at a time.

3) Next mix in the dry ingredients: flour, baking power, baking soda and salt.

5) Now toss in the flavors: lemon juice, lemon zest and elderflower cordial (or liqueur).

6) Pour into 2  buttered  9 inch cake pans and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes (until the center is done). Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile make the simple syrup flavored with elderflower --

🏰Directions for the Elderflower syrup:

1) Combine sugar and water in a saucepan on a stove top. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. 

2) Turn off the heat and add the elderflower cordial. Let cool.

Prepare the frosting:

🏰Directions for the Lemon Ederflower Frosting:

💂Option A) To a jar of lemon curd (or use homemade) add a tablespoon (eyeball a squirt) of elderflower cardial.

💒Option B) The royal cake is reported to have a butter cream frosting: Toss room temperature butter, confectionery sugar and drops of milk in a bowl. Mix in lemon zest and elderflower cordial.

Photo: Huffington Post of elderflower berries
How to finish and frost the cake:

1) Next refrigerate the cake layers for a few hours.

2) Remove the 2 layers of cake from the refrigerator and make 4 layers by slicing through the centers in half, if you wish. If too difficult, no worries, a 2 layer cake will be fine too.

3) Brush the tops of the 4 cake layers (or 2) with elderflower flavored simple syrup, then top with the lemon curd (or butter cream) frosting. The cake has a messy (in a good way) look: Let frosting run down the sides and double or triple frost, if you like.

4) Decorate the top with cake icing flowers. You can improvise by putting the frosting in a plastic sandwich bag, then cut a corner off of one end, so the frosting can be squeezed out to make flowers. Or buy ready-made sugar flowers at the grocery store, it's in the cake aisle. You can get creative with berries; or sprinkles as flowers; or real ediable flowers; or just lemon slices cut as hearts and flowers.

Enyoy with a cup of tea!

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