Sunday, January 15, 2017

Are You Prepared For An Emergency?

Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio, Weather Radio, LED Flashlight and Smart Phone Charger
I walk a fine line between being prepared versus being paranoid in dealing with possible emergencies. Ever since the Northeast blackout of 2003, I keep a pitcher of water in my refrigerator, a small flashlight and a transistor radio in a drawer. Now I'm diligent about having a supply of tealight candles and batteries also. Luckily, I had all of these items to use during the blackout. (The radio was a Christmas gift ... when received I thought, will I ever use this? The tealights were leftover from a party. It's not that I prepared for a blackout, I was just lucky.) 

My Mom, who as a child lived through a war and its aftermath, once scolded me by saying that she could survive the chaos of war and hard times, but I would not!" Unfortunately, at the time I was a teenage, who shot back, "Oh, you can survive a war, but can you live in peace?"


Perhaps I was disrespectful (yes ... yes I was!), but when you think about it, we are both right. Primarily, we should enjoy life and not live every day expecting the worst; and yet, we are wise to prepare for a few events that inevitably go wrong: a car breaking down, a heavy snowfall, or a power outage.


At another time my Dad scolded me for wearing flimsy shoes when driving a car in winter. He said, "If your car breaks down, you'll freeze to death because you couldn't walk in the snow to get help." He continued,"At least, keep a pair of boots and a blanket in your car." In addition to noticing how adults liked to jump on my case (for no reason, I sensed) the lessons stuck.


Lately I'm tempted to buy the all-in-one Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio, Weather Radio, LED Flashlight, and Smart Phone Charger manufactured by Brolar. For under $30, it's compact and offers enough power and survival tools to make it a smart buy. I'm not convinced yet, I need one in New York City. I do think it's one of the best available for the price, and is perfect to keep in a car.

Photo: FlickerBox
In Manhattan, we lost power for 2 long days during the August, 2003 blackout. The elevators were out. Without electricity, water pumped up to the floors in a tall building stops running after an hour. We soon couldn't flush our toilets. Neighborhood businesses closed, including banks. 

Our area was one of the last grids to have power restored. I showered at a friend's apartment who had electricity restored before me, and I attended a Broadway show to escape the heat, as well as, to use the bathroom! No tall glasses of water, or ice tea for me during that time.

I learned two important lessons during the emergency. Always have money at home in case the banks can't open; and if there's a power outage in a high-rise, always fill up your bathtub and sinks with tap water. You can then transfer water to your toilet to flush it. Well, live and learn!


Here's a comprehensive list of supplies to have for emergencies, according to the CDC. You decide how much of an alarmist to be.


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

4 Affordable Beauty Products To Try Now


A new year to discover new beauty products for less. Here are 4 cosmetics as good as their designer counterparts to try. You and your wallet will love each and every one!💄

1) Milani Rose Powder Blush (see above photo) A blush with rich pigments for under $10. It flatters your complexion with radiant, soft, natural color and a pearl finish. A choice of shades to complement pink and olive skin tones.🌹
2) Osmosis Water Color High Intensity Eyeshadow is sheer loose powder designed for layering. You decide how soft or intense your smoky eyes will be. This eyeshadow has pigments meant to last. 
3. Rimmel London WonderLash Volume Color Mascara delivers semi-permanent color to your lashes. Even on days you don't wear makeup, your lashes will appear darker and defined. Customers love the gradated brush shape (like a Christmas tree) for a perfect root-to-tip application.
4) Mac's Ruby Woos is a red lipstick that complements every skin tone, hair color and eye color. Due to the shade's universality, Ruby Woos has a big cult following. Look smashing for those nights out on the town! In stores, it sells for $17. If you wish to spend even less, two doppelgängers are Sonia Kashuk - in Satin Luxe Lip Color 16 (sells at Target) and Wet N Wild MagaLast Lip Color in Stoplight Red (sells at Walmart).💋

Is it time to update the contents in your makeup bag? Priced between $10 - $17 dollars, these 4 beauty items are cheap, chic and boutique-caliber!


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cinnamon Raisin Nut Swirl Bread

Photo: Belgoods.com
Usually when I make homemade bread I'm forced to make 2 loaves at once, which is more bread then I care to eat. Yes, I know I could freeze one, but often I'd rather make one fresh loaf, enjoy eating it, then go on to some other food. So I've got this tasty bread recipe down to a single loaf, and I add all the things I like: cinnamon, raisins and nuts. The cinnamon swirl filling makes it extra cinnamon delish! (You can skip the cinnamon swirl filling if you wish, but really why would you?!) Also, I prefer a sweet bread that is sweet enough without being too sugary, therefore I don't put much sugar in the dough itself; rather I add a swirl of cinnamon brown sugar. Finally, the raisins add moisture, so the loaf will stay fresh longer.

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Swirl Bread

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour (I also use all whole wheat flour. The loaf is whole grain, not as light as using white flour, but still fluffy.)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast acting dried yeast
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins (Raisin lovers can go up to 1 cup.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans work.)
1 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk; or 1 3/4 cup water with 8 tablespoons dry powder milk)
2 eggs

About 1 cup of extra flour for folding over the dough on a cutting board. (You end up using 4 cups of flour to make 1 loaf.)

Directions:

1) In a mixing bowl whisk, or use the handle of a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients together.

2) Mix in the wet ingredients. Add the ingredients in the above recipe in order if you wish. Incorporate well with the whisk, or handle of the wooden spoon. Form into a ball. I moisten the top with a little water.

3) Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel, or plastic wrap, and let it rise overnight in a warm place. I place the dough inside of my oven. The pilot light keeps it warm.

4) The next morning after the dough has doubled, slide it out of the bowl onto a floured cutting board. No need to knead much (the overnight rising kneads the dough). Simply fold it over a few times. {I pour a teaspoon of olive oil on my hands so the dough won't stick as I work it. I also think olive oil (or butter!) locks in the moisture of the bread after it is baked.} Flatten the dough out to prepare to add the swirl filling --

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Filling

Ingredients and directions: 

Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
(Substitute white sugar if you wish. The nutrition and calories are the same as brown sugar.)

5) With the dough flatten out, sprinkle and spread the cinnamon sugar evenly on top, then grabbing an edge, roll the dough up into a loaf, and pop it into a greased loaf pan. Cover again with a towel.
6) Let it proof for a 2nd time in a warm place for about 1 hour.

7) Next bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 - 40 minutes until it forms a golden crust and an inserted tester produces a crumb.

8) When the bread is done, remove it from the oven; wait 10 minutes; remove from the pan; let it cool a bit (if you can!) before slicing.

The bread is delicious on day one, as well as, toasted days later. To eat fresh bread, slice and store it in the freezer, not the refrigerator (which dries it out). Remove a slice at a time to pop into a toaster.

Baking bread from scratch is easy. Enjoy!

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Pretty Dress I Did Not Buy ... Sigh

Oscar de la Renta - Floral Print Seamed Dress, Periwinkle

Like many people I can be a bit of a fashionista attracted to beautiful things. Fortunately, I don't tend to be an emotional buyer, but generally stick to my budget and am good at separating my ''needs'' and ''wants.'' An emotional buyer can easily go broke or live in a house of clutter. Not wanting to fill a closet with beautiful but impractical things keeps me from making impulse buys.

When I saw the above Oscar de la Renta fit and flare dress, I loved it instantly! It is made of silk and cotton, and I love the cute floral print, as well as, the color blue. A lovely, flattering, ladylike dress. And classic, no worry of it going out of style anytime soon.

So why did I let the dress go? Well, it costs around $2,400. (Later it went on sale, but not drastically.) I couldn't justify buying such a pricey, although exquisitely tailored dress. It's not as if I sing and dance in front of thousands of people with my band mates, nor walk across a stage collecting my awards. Moreover, I never get followed by paparazzi with bulbs flashing in my face. Often I shlep to shindigs aboard a subway.

So nope, I have nowhere special enough to wear this beautiful Oscar de la Renta dress. I have pretty, less expensive dresses to wear to all the events I attend. And despite missing out on this periwinkle beauty, I was right not to buy it. I still love the dress, but it will have to live here on the blog. Am I hearing some Ooos and Ahhs from my readers? Or is it only me?

Consider the questions: Are you an over-buyer or under-buyer? Do you shop with your heart or your head?


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sephora Collection: Cream Lip Stain

Recently I visited Sephora to find a long lasting lip color. My mission: Find lip color that stays on to reduce the need to reapply lipstick as often as I do. I'm tired of it fading! Luckily, a rich pigmented, full coverage lip color exists under the Sephora Collection line, which means get excellent quality for less moola. 

There are 40 colors in the collection, including an assortment of nudes, berries, pinks, reds and what I call Katy Perry bold hues. I bought a nude called pink tea, #40. It goes on wet and smooth and changes from a creamy texture into a silky, long lasting lip stain. Some shades are mattes, others are satin finishes. They are infused with avocado oil and don't dry out your lips like some lip stains do. The product I applied is comfortable and not sticky; and indeed, it does last for hours. 

For the best coverage, I like to apply the Sephora Lip Stain in the morning and touch it up later in the day with Maybelline Baby Lips (tinted lip balm) or even lipstick, but if I don't, I still have color on my lips when using only the cream stain, and thus accomplish my goal of less fuss.

So if you're looking for richly pigmented colors that last for hours, I recommend the Sephora Collection: Cream Lip Stain. It works as it claims, plus the many shades are beautiful! $14 each.


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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year From THE SAVVY SHOPPER

Photo: Abstract Wallpaper
I'm hoping 2017 is kinder to us than was 2016. On the dark side, we survived a nasty, polarizing election, as well as, the deaths of so many beloved luminaries in such quick succession that at times it seemed like fake news, another characteristic of 2016. Sad events are hard to shake off while still fresh.

On the bright side, The New Year begins here in the USA with President Barack Obama still holding office for all of 20 days. Personally, I will miss his intelligent, measured, informed and steady leadership.
The Obama Christmas card
Moreover, there has never been a classier First Lady than Michelle Obama. We should thank the Obamas for their dignity, focus on meaningful progress, and for inspiring us with their attitude towards their critics: "When they go low, we go high." We will do well to embrace their grace and positive example as our guide in tackling change and trepidations in 2017.

Furthermore, Malia and Sasha are turning into beautiful young women. I will miss this warm, down-to-earth family!  

Soon ... onto the next phase of their lives. As I understand it, when President Obama leaves office, he wants to mentor the next generation of leaders in the Democratic party, as it strives to rebuild. So we will have his leadership in another vital capacity.  

Taking another lesson from the Obamas: Change sometimes requires a call to action. Is something not what you want it to be? Get involved. Make things better!

To the readers of THE SAVVY SHOPPER, you are awesome! Thank you for the honor of your time. I love getting your emails and comments, plus cherish a few friendships developed with my fellow bloggers. Sharing our thoughts, interests and knowledge with one another is what makes blogging worthwhile. I love hearing from you and am grateful you stop by for a read. 

Warm, good wishes to all my lovely peeps all over the globe for a ...



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Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Christmas Once Again

St. Peter's Square, The Vatican, Rome Italy
Can you imagine attending midnight mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve? Who must you know to get tickets ... His Holiness, the Pope? (I'd love to come, P. Francis, if you're reading this!)🎄

It has been a difficult year for our little ole world ... embroiled in war, terrorism, the rise of (blind?) nationalism and all kinds of other undesirable "isms" around the globe. There are deep fears and insecurity effecting how people vote these days. Some folks are worried about the rise of isolationism and tyranny similar to that of the 1930s. Countries are turning to conservative leaders and dicey ideologies out of worry, and I hope we don't pay a heavy price for such leanings with our future. Democracy needs to prevail; and at the end of the day, truth and compassion must win out.

After a turbulent 2016, we probably need a little Christmas more than ever!

Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
If you visit New York City, you can stop at the Met to see the 17th century Christmas tree and Nativity figures above. The huge, centuries old exhibit goes up every (late) November!

A "Christmas plant" in the corner of my Manhattan apartment.
Meanwhile, at home I put up some of my decorations. Just like Egyptian hieroglyphics, my "Christmas pothos" only requires vertical space. It is green, festive, and guests seem to appreciate it.

My apartment-size crèche on top of my entertainment center.

Least we forget, Christmas celebrates a humble, holy child who brought hope, peace, joy and a new beginning to the faithful in an uncertain world.



I borrowed this soothing hymn from my friend, Patricia of The Red Cardinal, who sings it in choir. It is a beautiful rendering and so apropos for our holiday season.

Merry Christmas Peace to Everyone all over the world!



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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Coconut Macaroons ... Delish

Photo: Food Network
The time has come to eat bake Christmas cookies. Do you make the same cookies every year like we do? Coconut macaroons are always on our list. We keep them pure and simple. It's the texture of the coconut and taste of vanilla that makes this cookie delicious. When perfectly baked, they look exactly like the photo above: Slightly crispy on the outside, yet soft, chewy and completely done on the inside. Here is our family recipe:

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
16 ounces sweet, shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a tiny spash of lemon juice
a tiny splash of rum

Directions:

1) Mix all the ingredients and beat until uniform. (If your batter is a little wet, you can add a spoonful of flour. We don't normally, but if your egg whites are from extra large eggs, you can add a little flour.)
2) Scoop up the batter with a spoon and drop onto a cookie sheet. Shape more like a ball (as opposed to flat) so that you end with a chewy center.
3) Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.
4) Remove from the oven and let cool. 

We like our coconut macaroons plain, but you can dip yours in melted chocolate (with paraffin wax) if you wish.




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Monday, December 19, 2016

LED Stud Earrings In 9 Illuminated Colors


People who love Christmas sometimes wear over-the-top Christmas sweaters, or Santa Claus (or Reindeer) motif pins that light up. Are you one of those people? If so, it's not a bad thing, and you are probably a spirited, fun person, who knows how to have a good time during the holiday season. If you can't be festive and over-the-top to celebrate Christmas, when the deck-the-halls can you?
In addition to the ugly Christmas sweater and Christmas themed chotskies, look what else is available: LED Stud Earrings that light up in an array of colors just like Christmas lights! Amazon, some Etsy shops and Ebay offer them, and they are an inexpensive novelty item. 
The glowing studs are constructed of stainless steel and come with two tiny batteries. Some are diamond shaped, while others are star shaped.

Are earring studs that glow in the dark for you? If so, what color would you get?


Ho! Ho! Ho! You're welcome, my merry peeps!
🎄


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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gifts For Him


Men's Tumbled-Leather L.L.Bean Boots, 10'' Shearling-Lined
For a myriad of reasons, men are harder to shop for than women. Our brains are wired differently, and women talk more about their wants or needs. Men not as much. Also, men's clothing is more precisely sized, making it difficult to get the fit of a pair pants, or shirt right. There's just more margin for error. When clueless about what kind of gift to buy for a man, I fallback on the usual suspects: books, liquid and gift cards. 

L.L. Bean is a retailer I also turn to for well-crafted gifts that last. If I don't know what to get a man (or woman), I get something I would love. Here are a few possibilities:

1) Ultralight 850 Down Jacket - I don't understand why, but even in the middle of winter when I'm layered from head to toe, a man will just wear a jacket. This high performance jacket is 850-fill down. It repeals water and is super durable. Spiffy too!




2) Men's Ragg Wool Hat and 3) Men's Ragg Wool Gloves - Each is mostly lambswool lined with soft polyester microfleece to insulate when wet.


4) Sweaters galore: Choose from lambswool; ragg wool; Shetland wool; cashmere; cotton-cashmere blend; double cotton and more. Styles include crew necks, v-necks and cardigans.


5) Men's Tumbled-Leather L.L.Bean Boots, 10'' Shearling-Lined - (top photo) L.L. Bean made their first iconic boots in 1912, and what a gorgeous boot it is! I'm super envious that the men's boot comes in black. It is only offered in brown for women. (Why ... oh, why only brown for the ladies?) Men also have a 2-tone color: Maple/Brown. It is a premium grain, soft leather boot with a broken-in feel that is water resistant. They are light, comfortable, and his feet stay dry after hours of wear. This is the holy grail of winter boots.


L.L. Bean has stylish, yet practical stuff for under $25 too. Buy a nice gift at every price point! Still scratching your head?: Gift card. What is your fallback gift for a man?


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Sunday, December 11, 2016

5 New Maybelline Products in 2017

Photos: Maybelline
As stated in older blogs (which you can find in the search box), Maybelline has truly stepped up the quality of its makeup in recent years. At drugstore prices, it now rivils the luxe brands. With rich pigments and winning formulas, Savvy Shoppers can save lots of moola without compromise. Plus, Maybelline's inventory keeps improving, as well as, expanding. Here are 5 new products launching in January 2017, some are already out at places like Walgreens, Target and Walmart:

1) There is a new Maybelline The 24K Nudes palette, which I saw stocked already at Bed, Bath and Beyond(Sending Angie Smith, reader and friend of THE SAVVY SHOPPER, an alert: Go to BB&B ASAP to pick one up! You will love it like the first 3 The Nudes!!) 

The 24K Nudes palette reminds me of THE NUDES (warm, natural colors) with a bit of shimmer (like the Rock Nudes palette). All 4 The Nudes palettes are natural hues, with the Rock Nudes leaning towards cool colors; whereas the others: The Nudes, The Blush Nudes and now the 24K Nudes leaning towards warmer colors.)
2) More matte lip colors are coming out. Look for Maybelline Matte Nude Lipstick, as well as, it's Vivid Matte Liquids.

3) Maybelline Dream Cushion - is a full coverage cushion foundation that offers a luminous finish.
4) Maybelline Face Studio Master Camo Color Correcting Kit - is a palette with 5 color correction concealers, plus a pearly highlighter. There are 3 versions of the kit to match different skin tones.
5) Maybelline The Colossal Big Shot - A new mascara with a new brush and collagen-mousse-like forumula to keep it from flaking and clumping as it volumizes lashes.

Other new Maybelline products launching include a Brow Highlighting Pencil, Face Hightlighter Liquid in a tube, pigmented Baby Lip Balm Crayons and a special edition eyeshadow that is now only available on Amazon.

Most of Maybelline's products cost from $5 - $10. Where else can you get non-better mascara for $6, or a makeup palette with rich pigments for an Alexander Hamilton!? Plus, drugstores and BB&B offer deals, taking more money off. Look polished for oodles less!

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