Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Summer Of Stripes

Prada - One dress in 2 lengths: maxi and knee
Summer is my favorite time of the year despite some hot and humid days. We can enjoy long hours of daylight dressed in comfortable natural fabrics like cotton and linen. The lack of layers is reason enough to love summer.

What's more, summer style often features vivid colors and lighthearted stripes! A mild sunny season is ideal for people watching and style gazing! Next time you're out-and-about town, enjoy the show!

Meanwhile here are a number of fashionable ways to wear  summer stripes:

From retailers 1) Haultlook.com - knit pencil skirt; 2) Calvin Kline - crew neck, fitted, tee dress sold at Walmart; 3) Loft - strappy sun dress; 4) Miting - the shift dress;

5) Old Navy - crew neck, fitted, tee dress in classic red or navy; 6) John Lewis - fit and flare dress with blots of yellow and black; 7) Dapper James - ruffled Nellie top with umbrella designs; 8) Diane Von Furstenberg - stretch knit vertical stripped dress;
Old Navy - canvas peep-toe  D'Orsay flats

Do you see any favorites?

In our summer trilogy of patterns, we looked at: 1) gingham and 2) stripes. There's one more pattern to cover: 3)______? Can you guess it?

The next blog is all about cake ... then the answer next Tuesday will end our summer fashion trilogy.πŸ˜ŠπŸ’‹πŸ‘—

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Gingham Ideas

Dapper James - Mary Beth cotton sundress

According to fashion magazines, we will see lots of gingham over the summer. Indeed, the pattern has been popular since bombshell Bridget Bardot got married in 1959 wearing a pink gingham dress. It never truly disappeared. Gingham is a lightweight cotton fabric that comes in checked white and a bolder color.
Here are some stylish and comfortable ways to wear gingham:

From retailers: 1) Free People - swing dress; 2) Forever 21- jumper dress; 3) Madewell - bell sleeve shirt

4) Ellen Tracy - lace and gingham dress; 5) Draper James - cloister top; 6) ASOS - smock dress;

7) J Crew - cigarette pants; 8) Topshop - embroidered gingham shirt; 9) Madewell - 3 '' shorts;
and Dapper James - the garden party skirt (a floral and gingham pattern).

To celebrate the summer solstice😎 in the Western Hemisphere, THE SAVVY SHOPPER will feature not just gingham, but a trilogy of playful summer patterns to wear. Two others are just as fresh, crisp and full of fun. Can you guess what the other 2 are? Well stay tuned -- numeral 2 is our next blog!
A final (Getty) photo: The Duchess of Cambridge in shurbert gingham by British brand, Epinone.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day: A Story

Photo: The Sun
I started first grade late, missing a quarter of the school year. Mom had taken me with her on a visit to Germany and wasn't as punctuational as she should've been in returning to the USA. Dad was not happy. He registered me in absentia, so I could begin school as soon as I came home.

One of the first things I noticed in attending classes was this ... students who did well received gold and silver stars on their perfect and near perfect classwork, which hung prominently in Mrs. George's classroom. But since I entered school 2 months after everybody else, I played catch up for much of the year, rarely getting those metallic stars on my papers.

Although lagging behind for months, I managed to catch up enough by year's end to be promoted to 2nd grade. Here's how this story fits into Father's Day. I remember coveting those gold and silver stars that I seldom received on my schoolwork, but have no memory of ever complaining or talking about it. But somehow my Dad knew. 

He picked me up on the last day of first grade. The next day began 3 months of summer vacation. When we got home, Dad handed me a surprise: 2 little boxes, the 1st box containing 50 gold stars, and the 2nd box having 50 silver stars, exactly like the ones I spend the year seeing attached to the perfect and near perfect papers belonging to the "smart" kids at school.

All summer long I drew pictures, colored pages in coloring books and wrote words on writing paper; and when finished, I delighted in affixing gold and silver stars all over my own papers!😊 Despite having to take matters into my own hands, it was very rewarding. 

Now how did my Dad know to get me those stars? Lucky me, he was the smart one.

Happy Father's Day to all Fathers ... and thanks!

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cottege Cheese Cheesecake, Lowfat and Creamy

Photo: shugarysweets
Two unopened pints of cottage cheese hid in my refrigerator for a month. Naughty, naughty! Sometimes you don't crave undoctored cottage cheese, so I turned them into a creamy cheesecake. While slightly less tasty than a full fat cheesecake made with cream cheese, it holds its own in the delicious department! Unlike the rich, full fat variety, I don't feel nauseous, after eating a huge slice. Because it's high in protein -- consisting of cottage cheese, eggs and milk -- I'm serving it for breakfast on the weekend with a fresh pot of coffee. 

What's that you say? Oatmeal? Ha! I prefer my breakfast. Here's the recipe:

Cottage Cheese Cheesecake

Ingredients for the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, ground
1/4 cup real butter
olive oil to brush your pan (and add to the crust as needed.)
Optional: 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds if you have them.

Directions for the crust:

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and spread on the bottom of an olive oiled 9 inch cake pan. (I use a 10 inch cast iron skillet.)

Ingredients for the cake:
Now we must decide on a topping.

4 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 pints (4 cups) cottage cheese (I use 4% milk fat at 120 calories per cup.)
Optional: You can add a bit of lemon zest if you have a lemon to zest.

Directions for the cake:

You must use a blender for this recipe to produce a creamy cheesecake. It will turn lumpy cottage cheese into a smooth consistency. 

1) Put the first 3 ingredients into the blender and blend. Pause and add the sugar, salt, some of the milk and flour. Blend until done. Eyeball the milk and use up to 3/4 of a cup as needed.

2) Pour your cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.

3) Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, or until the center is done.

4) Remove from the oven and cool. After 20 minutes, take a knife and loosen from the side of the baking pan (or skillet), then let cool completely.

For a topping, you can open a can of cherries and call it a day, if you wish. I made an easy 5 minute lemon curd for mine --

Ingredients for the lemon curd topping:

2 large eggs
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
Eyeball a careful splash of milk
Optional: 3 tablespoons of butter (I omitted butter: Flavor vs calories, you decide for yourself.)

Directions for the topping: 

1) In a saucepan, whisk the eggs into the lemon juice. Turn on the heat until it simmers; and keep whisking.

2) Add the sugar (and butter if you use it). Continue whisking.

3) Turn off the heat, and let cool a bit before adding the corn starch. Pour a splash of milk into a cup and dissolve the cornstarch into it. Corn starch will thicken the milk. Make sure it dissolves completely before pouring it into the mixture.

4) Turn the heat back on, and whisk until it thickens; then pour the lemon curd over the baked cheesecake.

I won't lie: Rich, full fat, artery-clogging cheesecake can't be beat. But, what a creamy, healthy alternative. The only bad ingredient is the sugar, which is difficult to reduce without ruining the flavor. So think of this as a dessert ... and a treat.

The cheesecake is good chilled in the refrigerator. Plus it freezes well and thaws in 20-30 seconds in a microwave.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Buckingham Palace China

Buckingham Palace Queen Victoria tea cup and saucer
You can buy fine china (and other items) inspired by none other than the Queen of England. That's right, get your next teacup from Buckingham palace. Ohh, I'm a lady, I am!πŸ‘ΈπŸ»
The Royal Collection sells by piece, and you can buy as much of a china set as your bank account allows. Furthermore, here's something I did not know until recently: Teacups and coffee cups are not one and the same, but have different shapes. Naturally, the Buckingham Palace collection offers both.
Buckingham Palace Chelsea porcelain coffee cup and saucer
A teacup (the top cup) is lower and wider. It lets very hot water, which tea experts tell us is key in making a good cup of tea, cool quickly. 

A coffee cup (our 2nd image) is narrow and high because coffee is usually brewed at a lower temperature than tea and doesn't need to cool off as fast to drink. Although I have a college degree (with a 3.85/4.0 GPA, not too shabby), I did not know this! Ohh!?! In my home, guests have been drinking coffee out of teacups for years. Oops!! Or are they coffee cups? Frankly, I think they are both ... like being unisex.😱😊
Debbie's dish set:  Are you a teacup?
But now if I wish to add the proper cups to my housewares, I know where I can order some lovely china fit for a queen. Are we not all Anglophiles?πŸ’‚
Buckingham Palace coat of arms 6 cup tea pot

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Are Makeup Clubs Worth The Money?

Subscribing to a makeup club usually costs between $10 - $15 per month, depending on the club, which adds up to $110 - $150 a year. A few clubs charge more. Popular makeup clubs include Birchbox, ipsy makeup bags and Beauty Army. Most clubs let customers cancel a membership at anytime, without penalty.

Upon joining, a subscriber is asked to select her makeup preferences. This includes: 1) Types of products: mascara, eyeshadow or lipstick, etc; 2) Colors: reds, pinks, plums, browns, or nudes; and 3) Looks: bold, glam or natural, etc. However, customers find that the boxes contain essentially the same products, regardless of what they select.

So is subscribing to a makeup club worth the money? Yes, if it brings you happiness. But no, if you are looking for value.

Here are the reasons why:

1) You have the ability to try skin care, or cosmetics for free simply by going into the Sephora, or Ulta shops. Plus, beauty companies give away plenty of free samples. It is better to experiment on someone else's dime before you spend money on products you may not like.

2) You will not use much of the club makeup, which comes automatically to your home because you didn't select it. If you go into a store, you can buy only the makeup that you like, not the mascaras, foundations or red lipsticks you don't.

3) Some of the products are sample size, not full size. You shouldn't have to pay for samples that companies traditionally offer for free.

4) Subscribers say after a few months, the products get redundant. 

5) Moreover, we acquire less, if we make concious decisions to walk into a store to buy things. To avoid clutter, waste or extra expense, we should develop the habit of getting only the things we need. You are handing over your control to a club.

The only time I would buy a subscription to a makeup club is as a gift for someone who can't afford makeup; or who is too busy to procure it. What a treat for such a person to receive a monthly gift of new products. The rest of us can always walk into a store to shop with purpose.

What do you think?

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Fake A Warm Glow With A Bronzer

We know how bad the sun is for our skin. It causes premature aging and skin cancer. A tan is the skin's attempt to protect itself from the sun's damaging rays. I don't know about you, but I wear sunscreen and walk in the shade, as well as, cover myself up in cotton clothing and a visor if I'm in the sun for more than a few minutes.

So what is a pale face to do to look healthy and sun kissed? Fake it, of course with a quality brozner. 

Contour your face like a celebrity: Brush bronzer on the temples, chin and under the cheek bone to create shadows at the edges.

A bronzer can also give your face a tan-like-glow. It is what I call sun kissed, and it is the main purpose of a bronzer. Bronzer adds warmth to a porcelain face. There is sometimes shimmer in the color which acts as a highlighter.

Maybelline just launched a FaceStudio Master Bronze Kit, which I am eager to try. Drugstores and Bed, Bath and Beyond don't have it yet; but it is listed on Amazon and Ulta. Since Maybelline's blush palettes, eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks and other cosmetics are top-notch (i.e., as good as luxe brands), I expect to love the new Master Bronze Kit too. As opposed to a flat-bronze-appearance, this is formulated to give the face a multi-dimensional bronze glow.
Photo by Angie Smith
Meanwhile THE  SAVVY SHOPPER'S  makeup friend, Angie Smith recommends L'Oreal Glam Bronze Face & Body Bronzer. A limited edition item, it is available in the summer months. Customers at Amazon give it 5 star ratings, one calling the cosmetic the "best bronzer" she "has ever used." So grab it while it's out. Sharp product alert, Ang! Thanks for testing and giving this spectacular drugstore bronzer your seal of approval!

Update: The Maybelline Bronze Kit finally arrived at Bed, Bath & Beyond, so I bought it. It applies very smooth. Gives a natural sun kissed appearance. The 4 shade palette lets you custom blend your bronzer. At $10, I recommend it!

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Uniqlo + Princesse Tam-Tam = Beachwear

Uniqlo, the innovative Japanese "lifewear" retailer collaborates with Princesse Tam-Tam, the chic French womenswear line to create a darling beachwear collection that includes mix and match  bikinis, one-pieces, cover-ups, sun dresses, shorts and resort pareos. 
Additionally, Uniqlo offers several useful and stylish beach accessories, such as sunglasses, flip flops and straw bags. The devil is in the details ... and as usual at Uniqlo, customers get quality garments with lots of inventive bells and whistles for less. As always, the prices seem too good to be true considering it's for durable, not fast fashion.
With pleasing prints, stripes and solids, it's a beautiful collection, much of it 100% cotton that you could wear all summer long to the beach, pool or resort. The swimsuits contain a bit of shape flattering spandex.
The 100% cotton Women's PTT Pareo (above) can be styled as a dress or wraparound skirt. It also comes in red and the green floral print. All items in this elegant collection range between $9.90 - $29.90. Resort/beachwear at a steal!

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Do You Have A Design Challenge?

Edouard Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera - on display at the National Gallery of Art and in my living room.
Havenly, an online interior design company, invited me to tell the story behind a decorating piece I have in my home. I will depict not one, but a few things, as well as, talk about making the most of a small space.

As it is, I live in a modest Manhattan apartment compared to the 3-4 bedroom houses that people elsewhere tend to occupy. My #1 decorating rule is, there is to be no clutter, and so all the objects I bring into my space are full-sized, yet compact and multi-functional. Often I say, "I don't buy pretty. Everything must have a purpose." My couch and ottomans have storage for pillows and blankets. What's more, the top of a sturdy ottoman can be flipped over to use as a table.
I painted my walls an off-white (with a tint of warm yellow) and the trims a bright white for a pop of crispness. A bright white as a main color looks institutional and sterile, but not so with a yellow tinted white.

Since the walls are white, I bring color into the apartment with a huge Pottery Barn wool rug, colorful pillows, plus prints of museum paintings I like. The Manet 1873 painting (at the top) is one of them. As a congressional intern for the U.S. Senate, I walked over to the National Gallery of Art frequently to look at the original. I simply bought the museum poster and had it framed. Artwork on a wall is a smart decorating choice for a small space since it only requires vertical and not horizontal cubic feet. Select art, or personal themes that make you happy, as you will look at them everyday.
I have one article of whimsy in my apartment, James the Butler, but he, too, has a function. He holds a wine glass or cheese platter for guests who come into my home. Every city dweller needs a butler! Sometimes he holds my mail, gifts or other items I need to take with me to events. Always ready to serve, James is a treasure trove. He charms my guests and never complains!

Do you have an item in your home that is especially useful, has a history, or makes you smile?

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Boscov's Department Store Deals

As a child, when I needed new shoes for school, or a special occasion dress my parents loaded me into the car for a drive to an old time dry goods, department store. With many floors (at least 5 or 6), it was a wonderland of everything a shopper could possibly want or need. A customer has choice galore as he/she walks through floor after floor, each one stocked with luxuries and pretties.

What fond memories! Is it any surprise how I love an old fashion department store?

Boscov's is a traditional, well-stocked department store that has expertly adapted to online shopping. Immigrant Solomon Boscov started in sales in 1902. He opened his first brick and mortar store in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1911. Today the family-owned business has grown to 50 stores throughout the eastern United States and includes a thriving web business.

The merchandise ranges from apparel, shoes, handbags and accessories, watches and jewelry, home goods and beauty products, as well as, a 21st century add-on: webdeals. As expected, there is a wide selection for men, women and children, and like any worthy department store, there are always money saving deals to be had.

Even with the convenience of a click on a computer, the shopping experience feels like visiting a familiar department store. 

In a time honored practice, Boscov's offers selection and quality that can't be beat at super affordable prices.

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