Thursday, May 27, 2010

Style Your Shoes In Comfort

I'm not giving up my Dr. Scholl's insoles.  They're less than $2.00 a pair and give casual and closed toe shoes the extra cushion I sometimes need.  But occasionally a full insole makes my shoe too snug in the toe box, or can't be worn in sandals without showing.  Well for these times I have another solution -- Foot Petals.  I recommend two of the brand's foot accessories, when a Dr. Scholl's counterpart doesn't work: the Killer Kushionz, a thin nearly full insole that easily slides into high heels and the Tip Toes, or ball-of-foot cushions, which stop your feet from sliding forward.  Both have sticky tabs with adhesive backings and are invisible worn in open toe shoes.  I'm using the Killer Kushionz in 3-inch stilettos and the Tip Toes in flats to absorb shock and provide a little extra support.  They're more expensive than Dr. Scholl's products,  so you might forgo the pricy combination kits and buy just the shoe pads needed to resolve your foot discomfort.  However, they are pretty,  and your shoes will be stylish inside and out. Sold online and at Ricky's-Drug-and-Beauty stores in New York City. Average cost: $3.00 - $12.95 a piece.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Bags For Every Budget

A great bag is timeless.  Ideally, it's both stylish and functional.  The right bag stays with you, holds your essentials and pulls together an outfit.  To be honest, I own fewer purses than any woman I know.  I admire women who match all their outfits with a slew of fabulous fashion statement bags, but my tendency is to use a favorite bag for just about everything until it falls apart.  I hate changing bags because I always leave something out that I need.  So when I do buy a new one, I have a tall order to fill.  My bag needs to be well made, durable, versatile, flattering and classic.  I look for the perfect size with lots of pockets to hold things.  I also like a sleek, slender and attractive shape.

Purses can be expensive.  So whether you're an under buyer like me -- looking for that one great, multi-purpose bag, or need some new arm candy for a swanky event you're attending, check out these cool sites.  You'll find a myriad of designers, a wide selection of styles and some amazing deals for under $100:

1) Nicole Lee – For fun unique bags with funky details.  Very fashion forward.  Click on “sample sale” for unbelievable reductions.
2) HSN – Choices galore on this site.  Look at the “sale” and “clearance” sections.
3) My Big Buddha – All vegan bags. A tremendous variety of styles, sizes and colors.  Reasonably priced.
4) – A large inventory of designer and quality merchandize at warehouse prices.  Terrific customer care too.  Low $2.99 shipping per order.
5) – They're not just for shoes anymore.  Renown for top customer service.  Free shipping both ways.

Browse and pick your bag at a price you want to spend.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When Is Organic Necessary?

A report issued by the President's Cancer Panel endorses eating fruits and vegetables without pesticides to reduce your risks of cancer and other diseases.  A group of scientists and policy makers came up with two lists, a “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15,” which will help consumers figure out when to buy organic.  The produce on the Dirty Dozen list tested positive for as many as 67 different chemicals, while the Clean 15 had little or no pesticides.  These lists were assembled using data from the US Department of Agriculture on the amount of chemicals that remained on non-organic fruits and vegetables after washing them.  This research is disheartening to say the least.  Many Americans can't afford to buy organic, and we shouldn't be afraid to eat an apple, or strawberries sold at the supermarket. Surely we can do better.  Hopefully, the report is sounding an alarm to change the way we farm and harvest produce in our country.  Meanwhile if you want to be safe, buy “certified organic” from The Dirty Dozen list.  Also in my family, we stick to eating fruits and vegetables that are in season. Another option is to buy local.

The Dirty Dozen: Buy Organic
domestic blueberries
sweet bell peppers
spinach, kale and collard greens
imported grapes

The Clean 15: No Need to Buy Organic
sweet corn
sweet peas
kiwi fruit
sweet potatoes
sweet onions

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eat Healthy One Step At A Time

In the last year I made several changes in what I buy at the supermarket.  I  eliminated processed foods and have changed the way I think about food preparation.  The idea is to make healthy choices without feeling deprived.  Sometimes you need light snacks and no fuss fare when you don't have a lot of time to cook.  And realistically, you need a few treats too.  Still, being aware -- coupled with small changes, make a difference in what you eat (and spend).  I stopped buying three grocery items this year.

I gave up soda and switched to drinking ice tea.  If I find myself at an outdoor function on a hot August night, I'll probably drink a can of Dr. Pepper to quench a thirst, but I no longer keep sodas in my refrigerator at home.  And I don't miss them.

Also, I  stopped buying bags of frozen french fries, one of my favorite cheat foods.  [Nachos may be my first love, and potato chips are not far behind.]  Instead, I cut up fresh white or sweet potatoes, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake them golden brown in the oven.  It still only takes 30 minutes.  And eating a handful of nuts usually satisfies a potato chip craving.

Another food item to go is canned soup.  When I don't plan ahead and use dried beans, I buy cans of pink, pinto or navy beans.  It's just like opening a can of soup, but without the thickeners and preservatives.  Simply add water, season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.  What could be easier?

Another lighting fast soup to prepare is healthy miso.  Buy miso paste in a tub at the supermarket, or health food store and microwave a tablespoon of it, adding water, seaweed and vegetables.  Delicious!

Once you get used to eating real food, it tastes much better, at least that's my experience.  And unprocessed food costs less.  Lately, I favor steel cut oats, quinoa and millet, so boxed cereals may be next on my hit list [except for Raisin Bran once in a while].  Have you given up a grocery item recently?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creamery Creek Goat Milk Soap, A Review

Recently I tried a brand new soap made from goat milk.  It was mild enough to test on my face. Bursting with freshness, the soap is super moisturizing and scented with essential oils.  Listing pure and all natural ingredients, it doesn't dry or irritate my skin, not even on my face.

The soap is made in small batches by the Shumway family on a farm in Lindon, Utah from their very own herd of Nigerian Dwarf Goats, a breed they have raised and studied for over 10 years.  According to their website, these miniature, not to mention adorable-looking, goats produce milk that is 4% - 9% higher in butterfat than other diary goats.  The richer butterfat makes a high quality and ultra creamy soap.  Goat milk is rich in amino acids and vitamin A, which nourishes the skin.  It contains caprylic acid, which gives it a low PH balance, more like the skin's natural PH balance.  The Shumways make soaps, leaving in the glycerin.  In commercial soaps, the glycerin is usually removed and used in more profitable products like makeup.

What makes this soap so gentle and moisturizing is its pure emulliants like goat milk, coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter. It has vitamins and triglycerides that clean the skin without robbing it of moisture.  At Creamery Creek, all soaps are made from fresh (not powdered) goat milk.  The Nigerian Dwarf Goats are milked daily at the farm.  And each bar of soap is poured, cut and molded by hand.

I sampled (and loved!) eight of the 40 plus, generous-sized soaps: Lavender Oatmeal, Coconut Lime Verbena, Tea Tree Oil, Honeysuckle Kiss, Blueberry Scrub, Dragons Blood, Peppermint, and Red Clover Tea. At $5 each, the bars are thick, dense and a substantial 6 oz – 7 oz.  Unlike commercial soaps, they don't leave a residue in my tub, or on my skin.  They leather up and last a long time.  Count on these soaps to live up to their claims. You won't find a better soap at any price..

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Protecting Your Skin

Want to start a movement?

The average adult has 20 square feet of skin. It's the body's largest organ. May is an ideal month to think about skin cancer prevention. Many hospitals have free skin cancer screenings to kick off skin cancer awareness. But if a hospital in your area doesn't offer the screenings, it's time to find a dermatologist, who will check your skin. In my opinion, preventative medicine is the single best investment you can make in life. Doctors can't explain why one person develops skin cancer and another doesn't, but they do know it's the most common form of cancer, and it's on the rise. In the United States, one in five people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in his or her lifetime, and melanoma is more life threatening than other types of skin cancer.

There are six steps you should take to protect yourself from skin cancer:
1. Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 am – 4 pm.
2. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and UVA/UVB protection, even on cloudy days.  And, use a generous amount -- a shot glass portion, about 2 tablespoons.  A family of four should go through a bottle of lotion every 3-4 days, according to skin doctors. It should be applied every 2 hours throughout a sunny day.
3. Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
4. Wear hats. I sometimes wear a visor on the hottest of days because it's cooler than a hat, but hats are better.
5. Avoid tanning beds like the plague. Never go near one.
6. Examine your skin every month after a shower. (I don't do this, but I should.)

Here's how to examine yourself:
1) Stand in front of a mirror, raise your arms and examine your body front and back, then the left and right sides.
2) Bend your elbows. Look at your forearms, the back of your upper arms and palms.
3) Next, look at the back of your legs and feet, your soles and in between your toes.
4) Use a mirror to examine the back of your neck and scalp.
5) Finally, check your private areas too.
Call your doctor, if you notice a suspicious mole or lesion.
Personally, I wish parasols would catch on in the 21st century.  When you think about it, isn't it a good idea?  A light dainty, or dark manly umbrella to cool and protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun.  Right?  Envision portable shade that lets a soothing breeze through.  I don't want to be a lone eccentric on this.  If just 20% of the population carried them, I would too.  C'mon people!  Let's start a movement, called the Parasol Public ... or perhaps, the Parasol Pedestrians.  It's the smart thing to do, and we'd look younger than the rest of the population.  Who's with me?