Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Party Dresses

Glitzy Angel - TFNC Florence Metallic dress
It's the season to add pazzazz to your wardrobe. A little silver here, a bit of gold there, and accents of glitter. Let's have fun on THE SAVVY SHOPPER by picking a few party dresses, shall we? I'll be your wardrobe stylist by putting together several possibilies -- Christmas red and green, classic black, lace and bronze metalic. It is time for us to simmer and sparkle!
Rickety Rack - Glitter Empress dress
Lulus - Star Dust Gold Sequin Bodycon dress
Dress the Population -  Hayden Lace Fit & Flare dress
Dress the Population - Grace Sequin Lace dress
Dress the Population - Mearcella dress
Adrianna Papell Pleated Jersey Sheath dress

Dress the Population - Avie dress
Topshop - Hanky Hem Lace Midi Dress

Do you have a favorite holiday dress style? Tell us about it. Can you see yourself in one of these?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Jarware Wide-Mouth Mason Jar Citrus Juicer

Not everything useful is high-tech, nor costs a million bucks. Sometimes a simple, cheap tool improves your life 100%. This citrus juicer sells for $3.99. I have a metal citric juicer that costs alot more, but using one hand to squeeze a lemon half with it is tough. 

Twirling the lemon (or lime) halves over the ridges of this gadget is much easier for me, and I get more juice out.

Furthermore, I especially love how this little gizmo fits right over a wide-mouth Mason jar! The rim (minus the medal lid) secures it in place. The lemon (or lime) juice goes straight into the jar. After removing the rim and juicer, I can pour cold water, sweetener and ice directly into the same jar to drink a refreshing one-and-a-half pint of lemonade. It is a one-jar clean-up!

Love the small footprint of the juicer when storing it away also. This little pointy juicer is genius engineering!

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Two Faced La Creme Lipstick: Unicorn Tears

Unicorn Tears is one of the 10 new colors.

Two Faced has 10 new shades of their La Creme lipstick. The formula is a combination of creamy color and intense hydration. All 10 hues, ranging from naughty nude to candy apple red, are pretty and wearable.
Photo: New Beauty. A swatch of Unicorn Tears
I am wild about the shimmering Unicorn Tears color (above) for holiday parties, although I could also make a case for Wham!, an iridescent raspberry and Sugar Daddy, which is a lovely nude rose. 

Somehow the 10 new shades have a wow factor, as well as, an understated and classic look. As you can see from the color drenched Unicorn Tears in the images above, they flatter both fair and dark complexions.

A tube of Two Faced La Creme Lipstick makes a coveted stocking stuffer, or anytime gift. 

Do you like to pick out a shade for someone, or play it safe with a gift card?💋

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Monday, November 28, 2016

10 Best Mascaras

Photo: New Beauty
Introducing a friend or sister to new beauty products is lots of fun, and mascara makes a fabulous stocking stuffer. Whether a woman wears it everyday or not, most of us keep a tube of mascara in our makeup bag.

Some beauty products require spending big bucks to get better ingredients because top ingredients matter, but mascara isn't one of them. Regardless of whether you save or splurge, all formula's of mascara do basically the same thing. There are some very fine brands of drugstore mascara available.

A great mascara lengthens and volumizes your lashes without clumping or flaking off, and you shouldn't end up with raccoon eyes at the end of the day. Sometimes a great  mascara has an innovative brush that makes separating, lengthening, or curling the eyelashes easier. One brush might be designed to give you natural, yet defined lashes, while another is designed to create drama.

Here is a list of 10 Best Loved MascarasThey have different price points, but get high ratings from hundreds of customers. Did your favorite make the list?:

1) Avon Big and False Lash Volume; 2) Covergirl The Super Sizer; 3) Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill

4) L'Oreal Telescopic; 5) Lancome Definicils; 6) LeVolume de Chanel Waterproof; 7) Marc Jacobs O!Mega Lash Volumizing

8) Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Waterproof; 9) Nars Audacious; 10) Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof

What's in my makeup bag, you ask? Answer: Lancome Definicils. Chanel is the one, I wish I weren't too cheap to buy, and Maybelline is the one I will switch to in the future, as the drugstore brands have really stepped up the quality!

What's your favorite mascara?

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Friday, November 25, 2016

How To Make Gravy From Roux

My usual method for making gravy is to add cornstarch to the pan drippings for roast chicken, beef or turkey, but I didn't thicken the gravy with cornstarch on Thanksgiving Day.

Instead, I used flour to make a roux, which turned into the perfect gravy consistency. Cornstarch thickens gravy, but sometimes when over cooked, the gravy thins out again. I didn't want to take any chances of serving runny gravy on Thanksgiving. As it turns out, my gravy was such an unexpected hit that making gravy from roux will become my new regular way of gravy making.

What an unplanned pleasure for me! I tried something new, and it paid off. The day before Thanksgiving, I had a vague idea of using flour to thicken gravy, but I didn't know how to make roux. I knew flour tasted raw unless cooked a certain way, which is the sole reason I have always used cornstarch to make gravy. 

I'm so glad I took a risk! Furthermore, I considered buying a couple of jars of ready-made gravy as a backup, but decided against it. Succeed, or fail, the desire was homemade gravy all the way.

A dinner guest asked me to post my winning recipe on THE SAVVY SHOPPER ... and to tell you the truth, if I ever want to make the gravy again, I'll have to return here myself. So now my lovely readers, you understand why these recipes are published on the blog.
Before we start, know that I use bouillon cubes, but certainly chicken, or beef stock can be substituted.

Homemade Gravy
Photo of roux: The Creekside Cook


2-3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons of flour
2 large bouillon cubes (I used Maggi chicken flavor.)
32 ounces water (or substitute 32 ounces of beef or chicken stock. I dissolve the bouillon cubes in the water ahead of time and let stand.)
1 teaspoon dried garlic
1 teaspoon dried onion powder
12 turns of the black pepper mill (= 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper)
salt to taste (if using stock. No salt needed if using bouillon cubes)
1/2 teaspoon dried celery
About 1/3 teaspoon dried sage (I omit sage if making a beef gravy.)


1) Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter into a large skillet.

2) Whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour, and cook over a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Keep whisking as the butter bubbles and simmers.

3) Next add the liquids to the roux: If you have pan drippings, scrape and use the juices. With enough juices from the roast, there is no need to add water. Use the meat juices as your liquid. If you don't have enough pan drippings, round out the liquid with water to get 32 ounces of liquid. (You can use wine as part of your liquid, if you wish).

4) Season to taste. Add the black pepper, dried garlic, onion powder, celery and sage.

5) Simmer and stir until the mixture thickens into gravy.

Leftover gravy using my recipe freezes well for several months, as opposed to, a gravy made with cream. (A cream, or milk gravy separates if reheated). Bon Appettè!

I really enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving this year. First of all, I would not have discovered this delicious new way (to me) of making gravy had dinner not been at my place. It takes having company over for many of us to apply ourselves. Thank you, Thanksgiving company, for your tasty contributions, not to mention your wonderful ... well, um, company! Until next time ...

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Happy Thanksgiving To All

This year I'm hosting Thanksgiving for a small gathering, so instead of a Thanksgiving turkey I'm serving a Thanksgiving roast chicken with all the trimmings, including homemade gravy and buttermilk biscuits. I can't wait to dig in!

We are having butternut squash, potatoes, green beans, brussel spouts, carrots and homemade cranberry sauce. I will throw in mushrooms and peas as garnishes. Most likely no one will eat the fresh fruit, namely apples, oranges, tangerines, plums, strawberries and blueberries sitting in the refrigerator because ....

A dinner guest is bringing pie! When asked for suggestions, I said pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan pies are favorites, but what comes through the door will be a surprise!

On this Thanksgiving Day, let us honor our Native American brothers and sisters, whose forefathers shared in the first Thanksgiving. They might be the only Americans, who should have built a wall to keep out immigrants! For 523 years they have been driven off their lands time and again and disrespected. It's time to stop taking what they have ... left. Today they are fighting to save their ancestral burial grounds, as well as, for something even more basic ... clean water! If you are looking to give to worthy causes this holiday season, help them fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline: here with a donation. It's the right thing to do! How can we love our own children and not care about someone else's children!! We owe a debt to the Indigenous People of America, who did not, in fact, build a wall to keep us out.

Oh, I have a feeling it will be a tough Thanksgiving for some families. Perhaps it is best to forget about national politics for the one day and remember our many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving all!旅

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Monday, November 21, 2016

In My Jewelry Box

Invaluable, the London auction ehouse, inspired me to tell the story of a few pieces of my jewelry -- how the pieces came into my life; what they mean to me; and do I wear, or keep them locked away as keepsakes. I will focus on some ladylike pearls I have. They are as lovely as diamonds, yet more budget-friendly.

I acquired a love of jewelry from my father. We sometimes stopped to peer at display windows of jewelry while out and about. It wasn't the dollar amount that caused us to Ooo and Ahh. My father (and I) loved the aesthetics of the jewelry. With an eye for design and an appreciation for beauty, my dad simply liked the way in which gold and gemstones sparkle and shine. I like the durability of a fine piece of jewelry also. To be sure, no one in our family is overly materialistic, but to mark special occasions, my dad might buy my mom or me a nice piece of jewelry (for a pivotal birthday, or an accomplishment, etc.). Mom had to marry the man to get a nice ring; I didn't have to do much of anything!

When I was 14 years old my dad bought me a 14k gold pearl ring. There was no special occasion. He saw it, thought it was pretty and just wanted me to have it. And because it was a gift from my father, the ring is very valuable to me. In fact, it's irreplaceable. Honestly, I wouldn't take thousands of dollars to part with it, even though such a sum is many times over its monetary value. Perhaps with the ring, my dad taught me ... I deserve to be spoiled just for being me, a lesson of unconditional love. 

Many years later ...

I bought this second pearl ring from Macy's department store during one of the retailer's big blowout sales. By this time, I had decided I favor white gold. The ring was a working girl's splurge, but a practical working girl, who at times needs some bling for dressing up. 

My splurge has a happy ending. Since buying the ring, the price of jewelry has tripled, while the quality of Macy's jewelry has gone down ... I'm sorry to report; and the store knows it. It was once the place to go to pick up beautiful, yet affordable rings, earrings, and bracelets. I hope Macy's savvy buyers find a way to bring their old quality and value back. 
I miss it in their jewelry department!

Which brings us around to the pearl necklace at the top of the blog. About seven years ago, I thought it was high time to own a string of pearls, not fake ones, but a real pearl necklace. Some jewelry wearers might consider it matronly and old fashion. I don't! A pearl necklace is a classic that matches perfectly with another old standby, the little black dress.

Here I am at a Manhattan shindig (standing on the right) illustrating the point. I've gotten tons of wear out of that necklace! It seems like neither a string of pearls, nor the little black dress will soon go out of style. Both look sharp on everybody!

Finally, to answer the last question posed: My three jewels are to be pulled out and worn every chance I get. None are wildly expensive, though I'd hate to lose any of them. 
Lock them away for what? In general, I think all material things, including jewelry, should be used and enjoyed!

Invaluable has a jewelry "box" of its own. Their jewels are a bit pricier than my pearls, but browsing is fun and free. And ... we can dream.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chocolate No Bake Cookies Are Quick

Photo: The Food Network
Called preacher cookies in Appalachia, rumor has it: When a family saw a preacher on horseback at the base of a mountain riding towards their house, they could make and cool these cookies by the time he climbed up the front pouch to arrive at their door.

Chocolate No Bakes were the first cookies I made by myself as a child. Although we lived far from Appalachia, it seems like every mom in my neighborhood made them. In grade school our cafeteria ladies (who were moms) served them to us for lunch sometimes. Not every child ate her green beans (I won't mention any names ... um, Norma Oliver, nor the reason I ate two portions of green beans on Wednesdays), but I don't remember a sixth grader who wouldn't eat his/her No Bake cookie. They travel well, so are a favorite cookie to make for a picnic or holiday. When you crave something rich and sweet, these cookies really hit the spot.

Chocolate No Bake Cookies


2 cups sugar
1 stick butter (= 4 ounces)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick oats (I have also used 5 minute Old Fashion oats. It works too.)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like to use crunchy.)


1) Pour the sugar, butter, cocoa powder and milk into a saucepan on a stove top over the flame. Stir with a wooden spoon.

2) Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Keep stirring.

3) Lower the flame (as low as it goes). Stir in the vanilla, salt and oatmeal until smooth and uniform.

4) Finally, stir in the peanut butter. Remove from the heat.

5) Using a tablespoon, scoop and drop the cookie batter onto waxed paper. The batter is very hot, so be careful not to drop any on your skin. If the mixture cools before you get it all out of the sauce pan, return it to a burner for another minute, and it will come out clean.

6) Let cool for 20 minutes. The No Bake cookies harden like a candy.

Store in a cookie tin, or Tupperware. Usually a batch disappears lickety quick!

Although not true, the recipe seems so wholesome! Over the years I tried to reduce the butter, or sugar, however it changes the texture of the cookie, so now I just follow the original recipe. Eat them as a once in a while treat. How many of you grew up making these cookies?

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

The French Braider

Photos: Pinterest

Ever dream of French braiding your hair, but don't know how to do it? Here's a cheap tool to make the braiding easier. Notice: I didn't say easy, but easier. The French braider is made of plastic and sponge. It comes with instructions guiding you to cross over four sections of hair A, B, C, and D in the correct order to create the braid.
French braiding your own hair isn't as simple as doing someone else's hair. Doing your own hair is hard period. The tool can't grow you two additional eyes in the back of your head, which would be ideal to see what you're doing. But, like most anything else, you get better with practice. 

For under $2 the French braider is recommended as a helpful tool. Know that Bed, Bath and Beyond sells a more expensive Conair French braider for $4.99.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Flower By Drew Barrymore

Photo: Flower by Drew Barrymore
For years I've admired Drew Barrymore. Not only is she a lovely, spirited human being, the woman acts, produces, supports worthy causes and creates a budget-friendly line of makeup that rivals the luxe brands. Called Flower, her stellar cosmetics sell at Walmart. Flower keeps quality high and costs low by not advertising; instead the company puts its profits back into its formulas and packaging.
Flower's kohl eyeliners are at the top of most beauty editors' lists. Use them to create a smoky eye with one easy stroke!

Also topping the lists of beauty editors are Flower's eyeshadow quads, blush/bronzer duos and foundation stick. The lipstick receives high praise. Whether you go natural or bold, you get luxury texture and pigments at drugstore prices.

Moreover, the brand offers a full array of other beauty items and tools for less that includes mascara, fragrance, nail polish, makeup bags and brushes.
Rarely these days do customers have to spend big bucks in upscale department stores to get upscale makeup. Hold onto your money! As Drew's cute company slogan says,  "Be em-flower-ed!"

Here's what I'd like to know: How did a Hollywood kid develop the heart and sensibility to create a smart line of makeup for the masses? Thank you, Ms Barrymore!
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