Sunday, April 29, 2012

Homemade Granola Is Better

Granola is a whole grain, crunchy treat I like, but rarely eat.  The reason: Many granola bars sold in supermarkets are packed with calories, but are not that wholesome.  And they seem very expensive considering the stingy size you get … 3 or 4 bites per bar.  Hey, are we birds, or humans who like to eat?  PLEase! Give us a serving, not a sample.  And let's keep ingredients healthy and simple.

So this morning I baked a big sheet of granola.  Easy-breezy recipe, and when it cooled, I broke it up, rustic style.  Voilà:

Coconut-Walnut Granola


3 cups Old Fashioned oats
1 cup coconut  
1 cup chopped walnuts (or peanuts, or pecans, or sliced almonds)
¼ cup flax seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup canola oil (or try peanut oil.)
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Optional: ½ cup dried raisins or cranberries; a dash of cinnamin


1. On a cookie sheet, combine the oats, coconut, nuts and flax seeds; toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
2. Put the brown sugar, honey and oil in a pot and simmer on the stovetop until it bubbles, about 8 minutes.
3. Turn off the flame and add the vanilla to the liquid mixture.
4. Next, combine the dry into the wet ingredients.
5. Fold in chocolate chips (or dried fruit if you wish).
6. Evenly spread the granola mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (Or just grease the pan with canola or olive oil. Use what you have.)
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
8. Allow to cool completely; remove from the cookie sheet, then cut or break it up into pieces.  I think the granola tastes better a day old, or more.

Note:  After you make granola a few times, try adding ½ cup peanut butter to the mix (step 3).  To make bars [as opposed to cereal] add 2 eggs and about 1/3 cup of water (step 4) to get the granola to stick together.

It's delicious for breakfast, or anytime with a cup of coffee or tea.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FarmHouse Fresh: Bath And Body With A Touch Of Whimsy

Shannon (left) and Ashlee (right) at a beauty show*
Lucky me!  At this year's International Spa and Beauty Conference, held in New York City over the weekend, I assisted with an exclusive bath and body line, made in Fresco, Texas, called Farmhouse Fresh.  And, I fell in love with their products – the clean ingredients, delicious fragrances and whimsical, reusable glass jars and jugs!  Plus, I spent two fabulous days with the nicest, hardest working Texan women [one by way of San Diego] you will ever meet.  Always straight-talkers, never once did anyone push a sale, or try to sway a customer to buy a moisturizer not right for her.

But when beauty products are top-notch, word gets out!

Launched over five years ago, and rapidly growing in popularity, the skin care line is sold at luxury spas across the country, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Red Mountain, the Ritz-Carltons and the Gaylord Resorts.  The fine grain skin scrubs, rich shea butters/massage creams and whole milk-chicory root bath soaks are 88% - 99% natural, as well as, paraben and sulfate free.   Customers, who include Oprah Winsfrey and Courtney Cox, rave about how good FHF's body products feel and smell.  

The Honey Heel Glaze (vitamin enriched to heal dry, cracked heels, elbows and cuticles), the Agave Nectar Ageless Oil (clients smooth it on skin after a bath and on the ends of their hair), and the Honeysuckle Blood Orange Custard (a double moisturizer of aloe and shea butter for dry skin) are a few of my personal favorites.  Fluffy Bunny Shea Butter Cream smells like mint julep, cream and a hint of lavender.  And, a sweet scented shea butter whip, appropriately named Whoopie Cream, is the company's number 1 best seller.

You get generous portions at reasonable prices; and the cute, clever packaging makes any of the offerings a great gift! 
* Not pictured are reps Natalie and Gillian.  Look for them at future shows.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Denim In Living Color

Colored denim isn't new.  I wore a pair of cardinal red and white striped jeans in the 7th grade.  But now they are designed for adults.  And nothing screams SPRING FEVER like lots of bright colors.  It's a happy trend.  Comfortable too.  And when a look becomes popular, you will find it at every price point.  Choose your favorite color, or something floral, or patterned.  Unlike in the past, there's no set style or jean length.  Wear what suits you, whether it's low or mid rise, ankle or capris, skinny or boot-cut.  People come in all shapes and sizes, and fashion should reflect it. There's a radiant hue for every body, budget ... and personality.  Get in on a fun fad with these retailers:
Citizens Of Humanity jeans
2. Citizens Of Humanity - Must shop for them in stores.
4. J brand
5. J.Crew
6. L.K. Bennett - a favorite of Kate Middleton♥ Here's a NYC location.
7. Old Navy - Lots of affordable style on sundresses, t-shirts, shorts, cotton sweaters and sports bras too. Sales galore.
9. Uniqlo - Brilliant prices, promotions, design, quality and a huge inventory for Men and Women on pants and other casual wear.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dry Cleaning Mindfully Saves Time, Money And Clothing

Remember my dress?  I still love it.
A few years ago, I had a bad experience at the dry cleaners.  Two cotton, black velvet blazers came back ruined and tinted red.  On another trip to a different dry cleaner, a coat was returned without any of its buttons.  (What the ?!?!)  I've also had fancy buttons crack, as a dry cleaner cleaned a blouse and a stiff hat returned misshaped and limp.  About this time, news reports raised concerns about the safety of the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.  This lead me to take measures (as well as a few risks) in order to limit my need for dry cleaning.  Perhaps what I do will benefit you:

1. Stop buying clothes requiring dry cleaning in the first place.  Examine fabrics and read labels before the purchase.  Look for garments that can be washed and/or dried by you.
2. Wear tanks and camisoles under your dresses.  On sweaty days, you can wash the tank and spare your dress.
3. A source at a famous fashion house told me designers often label garments “Dry Clean Only” as a precaution even when articles can be washed.  By taking calculated risks, I have successfully washed silk, rayon, polyester and cotton dresses and blouses by hand, in cold water and Woolite.  If I fear the color will fade, I substitute Ivory dishwashing liquid.  It is especially mild.  I let the dress or top (1) soak for 3-5 minutes, (2) swish it around a bit (3) raise with cold water, and (4) gently extract the moisture without twisting it.  (5) Then depending on the fabric, I either lay or hang the article to dry, so it won't stretch out of shape.

So far, I have not ruined anything and have saved big bucks.  My dresses feel and smell clean too.  Minus harmful chemicals.  [4 dresses = $48 in savings]

What I still take to the cleaners:

1) Wool if it says: Dry Clean Only – Too risky.  Wool shrinks.
2) Business suits and blazers – But these days, designers offer options you can wash also.
3) Winter coats - Every other year, unless they truly get dirty.  Winter coats rarely touch our skin, or get food stains.  We clean our outerwear more out of habit than need.  Extra tip: The goose down coats at Lands' End are machine washable and can be thrown in a dryer.
4) Anything special like a prom or wedding dress, or tuxedo, obviously.
5) Despite my bad luck, I'd still take clothing with intricate designs, stitches, or fancy buttons to a trusted dry cleaner.  But I also buy these high maintenance items less often.
6) A much loved garment with a freakishly, tough stain also gets dropped off.  Then you have to pay the piper for his expertise to save it.

When it comes to a clean wardrobe, I like my new self-sufficiency.  Hand washing dresses is more convenient than taking them outside the home.  Life is about cutting down and balance.  Nowadays, I dry clean out of real necessity and not so much out of ignorance.  I also look for dry cleaners who use green solvents. 

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Celebrity Hair: How Much Do Stars Spend?

Cute and classy and smart: Jennifer Aniston
Celebrities are in the business of looking glamorous.  One bad haircut, and it gets posted all over the internet, never to be completely forgotten.  With that kind of pressure, it's always fun to read articles on what the stars pay to keep their tresses looking camera ready at all times.  So BeautyRiot did some digging, then crunched the numbers, on what 10 famous women pay when they visit their favorite hair salons.  Prepare yourself: It adds up to YIKES!  You probably use the same dollar amount to make a morgage or car payment.
Source: BeautyRiot
Kim Kardashian
Salon Goodform Salon, LA
Cost: $385
Services: $150 color, $150 cut, $85 blowout
Katy Perry
Salon: Rita Hazon, NY
Cost: $425
Services: $300 double processed color, $125 cut
Amy Adams
Salon: Sally Hershberger Salon, LA 
Cost: $500
Services: color, cut and style
Emma Watson
Salon: Cutler Soho, NY
Cost: $500
Services: up to $300 highlights, $200 cut
Kate Hudson
Salon: Neil George Salon, LA
Costs: $650
Services: full highlights, cut, blowout
Reese Witherspoon
Salon: Prive Salon, LA
Cost: $700
Services: $450 full highlights, $250 cut
Jennifer Lopez
Salon: Oribe Salon, LA
Cost: $750
Services: $350 full highlights, $400 cut
Jennifer Aniston
Salon: Chris McMillian Salon, LA
Cost: $920
Services: $320 color, $600 cut
Anne Hathaway
Salon: Ted Gibson Salon, LA
Cost: $950
Services: $950 color, cut, style
Salon: Independent, LA
Cost: $1,990 per week
Services: color, cut, style (6 days/week)

Wow, is there anyone in Hollywood, young or old, who doesn't dye his or her hair?  Anyone???

Want to know more about expenses?  Take Jennifer Anison, who always looks spectacular with her glossy hair, flawless skin, toned body and perpetual tan.  But what does it cost to maintain?  According to BeautyRiot, it takes a lot of money to look like Jennifer Anison.  Here's their breakdown of what she spends each month to look that good:

Eyeshadow Lipstick 4 Hair Brush**************************************************************************
Hair: (cut, color, and products): $949.95 {As noted, Chris McMillan is her stylist.}
Skin care: (products and one facial): $891.95  {JA visits the Tracie Martyn Spa for Martyn's signature Red Carpet Facial, which is $450.}
Makeup: (products and artist's fee for one day): $4,402  {Angela Levin is JA's makeup artist}
Brows: $160  {JA visits Anastasia Soare to get her brows shaped.}
Spray tan: $90  {She goes to Ibiza Tanning Salon in West Hollywood.}
Fitness routine: $3,600  {Mandy Ingber is JA's yoga teacher. Aniston attends three, one-hour sessions per week, which are $300 an hour.}
Diet: $1,840  {She eats dietician Carrie Wiatt's pre-made meals.  Wiatt charges $300 for planning, and the meals are $685/week.}*

The monthly grand total comes to $11,933.90.  Without tips.  BeautyRiot estimated that Aniston's beauty routine rans about $141,037.97 per year.  Staggering ... yes, for the average person, but Jennifer Aniston works and can afford it, and it is fascinating!  The paparazzi are ruthless, so do you blame her?  What would you do?  Remember that she has to see Angelina Jolie's beautiful face plastered all over the tabloids everywhere she turns as well!  (That uber mama, globe trotting, do-gooder and a bad girl, siren too. Really, it's almost too much!)

Knowing what Jen spends on her hair alone makes me appreciate my hairdresser big time.  She is consistent, a percision haircutter ... and affordable.  No matter the length, or style, she gives me a perfect cut every time.  Plus, I have all her numbers, so short of leaving the country, she can never ditch me.  If you are looking, I'm happy to hook you up.  Because in-or-out of the public eye, we all want the same thing.  Good hair.

* A top editor who attends many Hollywood functions told me that just about every film star you can name smokes to keep his/her weight down.  I named a dozen actors/actresses, and the editor confirmed they were all smokers.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy Easter This Sunday

This is the Easter card (by Marian Heath) I sent to my Mom.  Look at those beady eyes and wedged feet. Darling, right? 
Easter is the oldest and most important festival on the Christian calendar, celebrating the belief that Jesus rose from the dead.  Christians believe that good can defeat evil, and eternal life will overcome death.  In a nutshell, humankind was liberated from sin and darkness and returned to grace.  (The word "sin" as used in the New Testament, is translated from the Classical Greek word, "ἁμαρτία."  It means "to miss the mark.")  

Like Passover, Easter is not a fixed holiday. It falls between March 22 and April 25 on the first Sunday after the first full moon, following the northern spring equinox. According to Bede, a Medieval sourcebook, the word "Easter" is Old English from German.  It stems from "Eastre," the name of a pagan spring and fertility goddess.  Rooted in Judaism, Easter marked the beginning of a new Church with new traditions.
Spring is an ideal season to celebrate Easter since in nature it's a time of new beginnings ...
... for plants and cute little creatures all around us.  

Easter critters remind me of the time I crossed Central Park to find a baby duck.  It was a scorching afternoon.  Three strangers and I took turns holding the duck like an infant while we called rescue places and tried to figure out what to do?!?  The temperature was so hot we feared the duck would dehydrate, so we tried to get him to float in a pond, but the second we put him in the water, he climbed out and ran back to us.  Finally, we located an organization, which found the little fellow a home.  That baby duck would have died in the blistering sun.  Better to celebrate Easter by bringing home the chocolate variety.  

Enjoy the new season.  Happy Easter!  And Happy Passover!
Easter EggFlower Basket  Flowers 19  Flowers 6  Flowers 51  Flowers 46 Flowers 23 Flowers 17  Flowers 26   Easter Egg

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