Monday, February 27, 2012

Favorite Oscar Dresses 2012

1. Angelina Jolie is posing in a black, velvet Atelier Versace gown; 2. Natalie Portman's red poka-dot dress is vintage Dior Haute Couture; 3. Cameron Diaz has on a glittering, Gucci gown with Tiffany jewels; 4. Stacy Keibler is wearing a stunning, liquid gold, Marchesa dress and her for-now boyfriend, a debonair George Clooney; Penelope Cruz's smoked blue gown is a custom designed Armani Privé.

Overall, the attendees looked smashing at last night's Academy Awards, in my opinion.  I didn't see any big missteps.  Since actresses hire stylists today, we don't see many embarrishments.  I think celebrities had fun with this year's gowns, but still appeared glamorous.  While last year's dresses were classic and pretty, the trends this year were gowns with one shoulder and other asymmetrical pieces ... plus a few long sleeves.  As you can see, I didn't mind Angelina's leg, but most of the one-shoulder gowns didn't make my list.  Fashion is subjective. [I love that shimmering blue dress behind Penelope Cruz above too.]

So ... who wore your favorites? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Healthy Oscar Night Munches

This Sunday night millions of people will watch The Academy Awards.  It's usually a long night, so many of us will make several trips into the kitchen for snacks.

A snack is supposed to be a portion of food that's smaller than a meal, but it doesn't always work out that way, does it?  Ideally, snacks should be 200 calories or less.  Healthy snacks are a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates.  Snacks that are good for you will satisfy hunger, stabilize blood sugar and provide long lasting energy.  Nutritious snacks are also low in calories and high in fiber.

Here are several food items I will have on hand to sustain a very long, but hopefully, entertaining night with the Oscars:

1. A walnut (unsalted) and almond (roasted, salted) mix – I buy pound bags of each of the nuts and mix them. About 24 nuts is 150 calories, or one snack.
2. Fruit: apples, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, plums
3. Cheddar cheese and whole grain saltine crackers
4. Swiss cheese and whole grain pumpernickel bread
5. Peanut butter – A dollop on apples, bananas, carrots or celery.
6. Yogurt: Coconut-pineapple, cheesecake and pomegranate flavors. Top with dark chocolate shavings.
7. Hummus
8. Spicy Popcorn – Make your popcorn anyway you like.  I use a Hot Air Popper.  Then sprinkle with a bit of olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt and cayenne pepper.  Toss.  It's awesome! 
9. Spinach Dip –  See below.
10. Red and sparkling rosé wine – Cheers!

Spinach Dip

16 ounces 1% cottage cheese
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise (Don't use fat-free. It's awful!!!)
1 small onion
1 stick celery, include the leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
A dash of onion powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Seasoned salt to taste, begin with ½ teaspoon

Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until creamy.  (Instead of celery, you can use a sweet turnip, or watercress, or red bell pepper to get a crunch with a different flavor.)  Pour into a serving bowl.  Use the dip for vegetables, whole grain crackers and crusty breads.

Watching the Academy Awards with family and friends is fun, but the show will undoubtedly run on ... and on ... and on.  So while you stay up to the very end, satisfy your cravings and boredom with these healthy snacks, so you will still fit into your own dresses and trousers in the morning.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chanel's L.A. To Paris Makeup Palette

Thank goodness, I'm not an emotional buyer.  Because ... I see something from Chanel I want.  But if I got everything I liked, I'd be broke.  Plus I'd live in a cluttered home.  Thinking about the most horrifying show on television, Hoarders, will keep me in line!

That said, when you really do need a product, you should invest in quality.  And when it comes to makeup where rich pigments matter, Chanel is the gold standard.  Makeup that contains good pigments will stay on you face all day, so you won't have to touch up as often.

Chanel created an all-in-one makeup palette.  It has everything a woman needs in one lightweight compact.  Called “L.A. – Paris,” the plum harmony kit consists of 2 lip glosses, 1 sheer-wine-red lip color, 2 cream concealers, cream blush, and 3 powder eyeshadows.  With individual applicators, the universal colors flatter most skin tones.

DevilThis exclusive palette is ideal for travel since it's the only makeup you'll need to pack.  Now ... be still my heart and go away temptation.  Cost: $85.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Aren't you glad you have a partner in life who watches your back?  Valentine's Day is just another day to let him/her know you care.  Everyone likes a few surprises, to feel appreciated and to know their mate enjoys spending time with them.  Here are a few of my favorite surprises.  And certainly, I'm not alone in liking them!

White and dark chocolates

Sparkle: diamonds and crystals and rhinestones
A nice dinner 
(Douse mine with gravy♥)

A heartfelt note

The right gift is thoughtful, but one you can afford.  Your goal is to make someone happy.  Enjoy the gift of a loved one's company.  If you are single, spend the day with your friends.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Click the first link below to know how the day became celebrated.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Goodness Of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is delicious.  Eeconomical, filling and nutritious, peanut butter is a good source of protein, resveratrol [a substance studies suggest may extend the life of cells], vitamin B3, vitamin E, magnesium, folate and fiber.

Once you develop a taste for pure peanut butter, made with only one ingredient, namely roasted peanuts, it's very addicting.  Many health food stores have peanut butter makers, and just like George Washington Carver, you can grind your own.

Peanut better is scrumptious combined with so many foods, from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich washed down with a cold glass of milk to a ripe banana with a dollop of peanut butter on each and every bite.  Peanut butter is a perfect snack, whether you eat it, as is, off the spoon, or spread on a saltine cracker.  

And of course, you can cook and bake with it.  I like to make a simple peanut sauce to pour over noodles.  Here is my recipe for one large or two regular servings:

Prepare 5 ounces of spaghetti according to the box directions and transfer to a bowl. Under cook it by a minute, and save the salted pasta water.

For the peanut sauce:
1) Pour ½ cup of the salted pasta water into a 10 inch skillet on a stove top, and bring to a boil.
2) While simmering add about 1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter, and stir until smooth.  Update: As Barry (below) reminded me, fresh or dried ginger gives the sauce a nice kick, so sprinkle to taste.
3) Next add 1 tablespoon vinegar to the hot mixture.
4) Season with soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and parsley to taste.  I eyeball the seasonings.  Sometimes I also add sesame oil and a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce.
5) If the peanut sauce gets dry, add a bit more of the pasta water, but just a little at a time.  You don't want a runny consistency.  
6) When the sauce has thicken, it is done; turn off the heat.  Throw the pasta back in the pan to coat with sauce, then return the noodles to the bowl.  
7) Optional: Top with shredded lettuce, carrots and scallions for crunch.

Voilà, you are ready eat!
Baking with peanut butter is quick and easy too.  My Reese's cup-inspired cookie bars are always a big hit.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
12 ounces chocolate

1. Mix the peanut butter, eggs and sugar together and spread on a cookie sheet.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown 25 - 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and lay the chocolate on top.  I slide the tray back into a warm oven with the heat turned off.  Allow the chocolate to melt, then spread.

Monday, February 6, 2012

TotalBeauty: 3 Lipsticks That Flatter Every Woman

Savvy Shoppers strive to make smart decisions.  The goal is to live well while spending less, as well as, avoiding mistakes.  Do you buy lipsticks that are all wrong for the undertones in your skin?  It's disappointing when a new color doesn't work for your complexion.

After consulting celebrity makeup artists, then testing their recommendations on women of varying skin tones, TotalBeauty came up with three no-fail lipstick shades, which flatter everyone, regardless of a woman's (cool or warm) undertones, or her (fair, medium or dark) coloring.

The three universal lipsticks are:
1. Light pink: Prestige Lipstick in Passion, $6.50.

Red lipsSo you can reduce and save. Get rid of all those other lipsticks you never wear, and spruce up your look with just three, mistake proof, hues.  Now ... that's savvy shopping at it's core.