Monday, November 28, 2011

Precise Portions' Dinnerware For Healthy Meals

Eating healthy just got simpler.  Recently the USDA replaced the old food pyramid with a new MyPlate icon.  Most of us should be eating smaller amounts of food, as well as, making healthier choices.  Precise Portions, a new line of porcelain dinnerware takes the guesswork out of figuring out what and how much food to put on your plate.  It's not that we can't enjoy an occasional treat; but we should be eating more fruits and vegetables, a portion of starch or whole grains, proteins and dairy most of the time.  Designed by a dietician, the dinnerware follows the new USDA guidelines.  It shows you what a portion is [usually the size of a clinched fist], and reminds you what a balanced diet looks like.

It's easier to be a mindful eater when the information is right there on your dinner plate staring you in the face.  A shocking percentage of children and adults in the US are not just overweight ... but are obese.  This set makes a great gift for families trying to instill healthy habits.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving From THE SAVVY SHOPPER

video
The Secret Sisters singing a song written by Hank Williams. They can sing anything ... and do. Click here.
Thanksgiving.  What a lovely holiday, centered around family, great food, (music in our house) and perhaps a little reflection and tradition.

According to historians, Native Americans and early colonists [in Jamestown and New England] were accustomed to holding days of prayer and celebrations, thanking God for blessings, such as safe travel, victory in battles or a successful harvest.  In the New World thanksgiving services were quite common.

Well folks, here we are again, observing a tradition, which lives on into the 21st century.  So as you take a moment to gather around and remember your blessings, enjoy the day!  As one of my buddies said, "Get out the pajama jeans!"  You're sure to need the stretch.
Plate
According to my readings, Native Americans ate a diet of maize, beans and squash.  One of their thanksgiving dishes consisted of a large pumpkin stuffed with buffalo or deer stew.  It was baked in an oven, then cut in wedges and served.  Doesn't it sound delicious?   


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot Sales ... And Great Gifts At Williams-Sonoma

Calphalon Nonstick Covered Fry $39.95-$49.95
Vinturi Wine Aerator $39.95
Williams-Sonoma is, hands down, my favorite store for kitchenwares and home furnishings.  I love the specialty foods too.  Since the goods are expensive, I must be careful not to empty my wallet shopping there.  [If only I had Ivanka Trump's budget, I could have the entire line ... and join the wine club.  Dream on here.  Hand-picked wines make a sure-to-please gift for someone special.]

The company was started in 1956 by Chuck Williams, who appreciated the restaurant quality of French cookware and wanted to introduce it to Americans.  Williams bought a hardware store in Northern California.  He restocked the hardware with imported French cookware.  Now there are over 260 retail stores across the USA and Canada.

The pots, pans and utensils are high end.  Buy one of the store's prime culinary tools, and you'll never have to replace it.  Watch for sales to get value and great gifts for under $50.  For the holidays, I love giving and getting gifts (and gift certificates) from Williams-Sonoma.  Just saying for um ... no particular reason.Flirt-male

Everyone needs one non-stick skillet to fry eggs.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday begin early. Now is a good time to find some deals.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are You Ready Boots?

Victoria's Secret Collection 
(The marks are the alphabet on a scanned page.)
Autumn is boot season.  Tall or short, high or low, zip-up or lace-up, there's a fashion, fit and function to flatter every foot and pair of legs.  Boots can complete an outfit, while protecting you from the elements.  Whether you are angling for a polished look, or trying to keep old man winter at bay, there's a choice and length of boot to help you look your fabulous best.  My picks are very often low heels and working boots.  I walk for miles on concrete, so my boots have to withstand the punishment of city streets, as well as, be kind to my feet.  I don't want to develop bunions or hammer toes, but won't sacrifice on style.  With choice galore, there's no reason we can't be chic and comfortable, simultaneously.  And REAlly, boots are made for walking ... so why settle for less.  When your feet are happy, you are happy.

Retailers offering lots of boot style and value include:

1. Victoria's Secret Catalog - Ultra posh, ultra cute!
2. Uggs - Warm, durable, casual style.
3. Endless - A large inventory and discounts.
4. Macy's - Best department store selection, a range of price points.
5. Overstock - Super quality and quantity; up to 70% off and $2.99 shipping.
6. Merrell - Orthopedic soles with smart casual style. 
7. Lands' End - Exceptional snow boots (and winter outerwear).
8. Zappos - Free shipping both ways, great customer service, and they stock every boot imaginable.

Now get your game boots on and start walkin'.  For Nancy Sinatra's 1966 hit song click here.  It features some sizzling hot, umm ... uhh, boots.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Doctor's Orders: Is It Time For A Checkup?

Good Health is priceless, and preventive medicine pays.  It's always easier to nip a medical problem in the bud, than to treat a chronic disease.  If detected early, skin cancer can be removed in a doctor's office, and breast cancer treated as outpatient surgery.  Sometimes a doctor's advice about diet and exercise can even stop a patient from developing an illness, which would then require medicine or surgery to treat.  In our 20s we may feel invincible, but hopefully, we know better as we mature.  A trusted doctor is important to have, and regular checkups can help you maintain optimal heath.  Below is a cheat sheet for the checkups you need and at what age to begin (i.e. add a new exam): 

Your 20s
Men and Women:
1. Internist or family doctor – Go once a  year for a general checkup: Your doctor draws your blood (so you may have to fast) and takes urine and stool samples to check your general health and screen for an assortment of diseases.  My doctor checks my reflexes, breathing, heart, blood pressure and a host of other things.  He has me follow beams of light with my eyes.  Looks in my mouth and ears.  We discuss diet and exercise.  He gives annual flu and booster shots, such as tetanus, as needed.  He checks to see if patients have immunities to childhood diseases like mumps, measles and rubella and will vaccinate, if necessary.  He examines my glands and makes sure everything looks normal.
2. Dentist – Go every 6 months.  Cleans and does an oral exam.  Checks for oral cancers and fills cavities if you have any.
3. Dermatologist – Go once a year if you have a family history of skin cancer, or immediately if you see suspicious moles, or have a lesion that won't heal.
4. Women: Gynecologist Go once a year.  Screens for breast, cervical and ovarian cancers.  If you have multiple or a new sex partner, you should also be screened for STDs.

Your 30s, add
Men and Women:
5. A cholesterol screening – This is usually done during your yearly visit with your internist.  When the doctor draws your blood, s/he will send it off to the lab to be tested.  It's why you fast before you go.
6. In your late 30s or early 40s – Doctors may begin doing stress tests/echocardiograms on your heart, if you have a family history of heart disease.

Your 40s, add
6. Women: A mammogram – Early detection saves lives.  Women should talk to their doctor, but I think we've come a long way in curing breast cancer because of the ability to detect and treat it at an early stage.  Beginning at 40, a mammogram once a year seems sensible to me.  [Some doctors say you can wait until age 50; I wouldn't.]
7. Women: After 45, ask about a bone density scan – Especially if you are small-framed, or carry a low weight.
8. Men: A rectal exam and PSA blood test to check for prostrate cancer.
9. Men: A screening for testicular cancer [routine, done during your yearly physical, but the 40s is a time to be vigilant; don't skip exams]
10. Men and Woman: An eye exam with an ophthalmologist – At least every two years to check for glaucoma.

Your 50s, add
11. Men and Women: A colonoscopy – Every 5 years.  Polyps are removed during the examination, including ones that can develop into colon cancer if left untreated.

Your 60s and beyond, add
12. Men and Women: Visits with your primary care doctor to monitor any medications you take and problems that creep up.  As we age, cataracts can steal vision, but treatment from an eye doctor can save it.

Fortunately, I have fabulous doctors, who are knowledgeable, compassionate and good listeners.  They are thorough without being alarmists.  With regular checkups and by following doctor's orders, I hope to stay healthy for a very long time.  Care to join me?  If you know it, do you do it?

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Simple Way To Apply Your Own Makeup


Gwyneth Paltrow gets the credit for today's post.  On her blog, GOOP, she has her London makeup artist, Emma Lovell, show us how to apply makeup.  To be sure, it's excellent advice, but too many steps for me.  And it's unlikely most woman will buy all the recommended products.  So I reduced the steps and added my own spin from tips makeup artists have shared with me over the years.  Admittedly, it's still a case of do what I say and not as I do since, I rarely use foundation, mascara, or an eyelash curler.  And, people may be thinking that I should use all of them.  If you are thinking it, be nice!  Below are my Emma Lovell-inspired tips on how to do your own makeup ... along with recommendations for products to save a few bucks.

Always lovely, Lauren Graham
For daytime:
1. Start with a clean face and neck. You can use witch hazel.
2. Moisturize your face, neck, and lips.  During the day, use a moisturizer with sunscreen like Olay Complete and any lip balm.
3. If you use foundation, match the color to your neck. Pour the foundation into the palm of your hand.  Dab a bit at a time to your forehead, nose, cheeks and chin; gently rub it in.  The Body Shop makes fabulous foundation.
4. Next apply concealer under your eyes.  Applying concealer with a brush works best. I like Max Factor Pan-Stik.
5. Curl your naked eyelashes, then apply mascara a little at a time.  Maybelline or L'Oreal are unbeatable.
6. Fill in your eyebrows. Use a tint slightly lighter than your natural color. Eyebrows define the whole face.  Sephora makes inexpensive brow pencils, with attached bristles for blending.
7. Next apply blush: For staying power double up: Use a cream blush and go over it with powder blush.  Try NARS or The Body Shop.
8. On lips, apply a quality gloss like L'Oreal Colour Juice with a hint of color.
9. Set your makeup by dusting loose powder all over your face.  The makeup will last longer. None better than The Body Shop's or Origins'.
For nighttime:
1) Add an eyeliner to emphasize your eyes. Buy cheap: Any brand.
2) Blend eyeshadow on your lids.  To stay fresh longer, confine eyeshadows to the lids alone.  I like Chanel and sister company, Bonjour, or Laura Mercier.
3) At night, you can apply additional shimmers to your eyelids and even cheeks, if you wish.  Inexpensive brands are fine.
4) Wear lipstick under lip gloss at night. For lipstick slurge: Bobby Brown, or Chanel.  You can also use it as cheek color in a pinch.  (And save: When you don't mind reapplying.)

To figure out the most flattering colors to wear, I say, use the trial and error method.  You know pretty when you see it.  Visit a few makeup counters, and let the cosmetologists do your makeup.

In reading the advice from a professional makeup artist, I am reminded of the following: (1) Looking good starts with clean, healthy skin; (2) makeup is best applied, slowly, by layering it a little at a time and; (3) when you do a good job applying makeup, people don't think your makeup looks good.  They think YOU look good.  And that should always be our goal.

I have to give a shout out to an amazing California makeup artist, Lea WhiteFeather.  She is so talented!  Watch her YouTube channel to be mesmerized by her many star transformations.
Red lips
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Steaming Hot Cincinnati Chili

A four-way served at Skyline Chili
If you order chili in Cincinnati, Ohio be prepared to answer the following question: "Would you like a two-way, three-way, or five way?"  The inquiry refers to ingredients.  Intrigued?

As it turns out, Cincinnati is the chili capital of the world.  There are over 100 chili parlors in the greater metropolitan area, more than any other city in America.  And the chili in Cincinnati is unlike chili in other parts of the country.  Cincinnati chili is always served piping hot and spicy, but never, ever jalapeno pepper hot.  It's about blending spices and creating delicious, subtle flavors, not about setting your mouth on fire.

Cincinnati chili probably started in 1922 when Tom and John Kiradjieff, brothers of Macedonian origin, begin serving it over spaghetti at their hotdog stand.  Tom modified an ethnic stew to attract more customers.  Eventually, the brothers opened Empress Chili. [Their hotdog stand was next to the Empress Theater, a burlesque on Vine Street.]  Soon their chili was copied and tweaked by other restaurateurs, including immigrants from Greece, who began Skyline Chili, as well as, 4 brothers (the Daouds) from Jordan, who opened Gold Star Chili.

Somehow my father learned how to make Cincinnati chili and taught my European mother how to prepare one of her first American dishes.  On dates, they ate at a well-liked parlor called the Chili Bowl.  My Mom said when she first came to the States every business she walked into, like the Chili Bowl, had Elvis Presley singing on the radio.  Below is a winning recipe.

Cincinnati Chili

Ingredients:
1 pound ground sirloin
1 large onion
A sprinkle of seasoned salt
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 bell pepper, any color
1 stalk celery, with leaves
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking chocolate
2 teaspoons red chili powder, or to taste (Dark chili powder is milder.)
½ teaspoon black pepper, or 12 turns of the pepper mill
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 beef bouillon cubes
A pinch of parsley, cilantro, cloves and nutmeg
optional: 1 cinnamon stick, a sprinkle of liquid smoke and 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

Directions:
1.  Sprinkle the ground sirloin with seasoned salt and cook until golden brown in a pan.  Dice and sauté the onion in the pan.
2. Transfer to a large sauce pot, or a dutch oven.
3. Add the tomatoes, red kidney beans, bell pepper, celery, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chocolate and spices.
4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Extras:
Spaghetti
Shredded cheddar cheese
oyster crackers
peanut butter sandwiches (use extra fresh bread)
milk

Cook the spaghetti, separately, according to the package directions and set aside.

And now back to our intriguing question:  Ordering Cincinnati chili is based on ingredients. The number before the "way" determines which ingredients you are requesting.  Here's the lingo:
1) Bowl - chili in a bowl
2) Two-way - chili and spaghetti
3) Three-way - chili, spaghetti, cheddar cheese
4) Four-way - chili, spaghetti, cheddar cheese, diced onions
5) Five-way - chili, spaghetti, cheddar cheese, diced onions, beans

It is also customary to eat Cincinnati chili topped with saltine crackers and a mild hot sauce.  Oyster crackers are used because they are thicker and stay crisp.

A peanut butter sandwich (made with very fresh bread) and paired with an ice cold glass of milk is especially tasty served with a big bowl of Cincinnati chili.  It's comfort food at its best.

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