Monday, October 29, 2012

A Sweet And Haunting Halloween Harmony

Candy corn is probably the most traditional of all Halloween candy ... dating back to the 1880s.  Created by George Renninger in Philadelphia, PA, it was originally mixed and molded by hand.  It was shaped to mimic real kernels of corn, while its tri-color design was revolutionary in 19th century, rural America.  People flocked to buy candy corn, and here we are 130 years later.  Today the Goelitz Confectionery Company is the longest producer of this abiding Halloween treat.

The basic ingredients of candy corn remain the same: sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, marshmallow, honey and food coloring.    And as far as spooky treats go, it's not a bad choice.  A single serving, consisting of 22 pieces, has about 150 calories and 0 grams of fat.  But, it's very sweet, so a little goes a long way.  Just remember to brush you teeth soon after eating.
Moreover, what would Halloween be without a lovely, but haunting little ditty?  Down In The Willow Garden is a traditional Appalachian murder ballad.  Historians believe the song comes from various Irish folk songs. Sometimes called Rose Connolly, a version of the song was noted as early as 1811 by the Irish folk music collector, Edward Bunting.  

The rendition featured here is by the Everly Brothers from their gorgeous 1958 album. Every song on that album is a gem.  It's time for the Kennedy Center Honors to recognize the Everly Brothers, while they are still alive and well.  The duo was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, The Country Music Hall Of Fame, as well as, received coveted awards for their songwriting talents.  They also have a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a star on Hollywood Boulevard.  Hello.  Swe-et Car-o-line, it's high time!  An eerie ballad in ¾ time ... click the arrow to listen and follow along with the lyrics, if you wish: 
Jack o Lantern
Down in the Willow garden
Where me and my love did meet
As we sat a-courtin'
My love fell off to sleep
I had a bottle of Burgundy wine
My love she did not know
So I poisoned that dear little girl
On the banks below

I drew a sabre through her
It was a bloody knife
I threw her in the river
Which was a dreadful sign
My father often told me
That money would set me free
If I would murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connolly
My father sits at his cabin door
GhostWiping his tear-dimmed eyes
For his only son soon shall walk
To yonder scaffold high
My race is run, beneath the sun
The scaffold now waits for me
For I did murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connelly 

Enjoy a safe, frightening and Happy Halloween!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Add Red Oxblood To Your Closet ... Sounds Spooky!

Dress-Topshop, Pumps-Ann Taylor, Bag-ASOS-Nail Polish-Essie
Oh, but contraire!  Neutral colors are an indispensable part of a wardrobe.  You need a few dresses, skirts or leather basics, such as shoes and purses, in solid understated hues to stretch your trousseau. (Yesss, I'm teasing you with a fancy word, but you get my drift.) A few subdued, main-or-accent pieces will mix and complement other bright and flashy articles to form totally new outfits.

Perhaps it's my skin coloring, but I don't care much for beige.  What you see in my closet is black, navy blue and grey.

And now straight from the fashion runway comes a trendy color to join them.  Oxblood.  Darker than burgundy, oxblood is classic and bold, yet still appears understated and flatters nearly every skin tone.  Neither boring, nor overpowering, an oxblood blazer, or pair of heels look rich and warm.

This brownish-red color is ultra versatile.  Pair it with glitter or earth tones.  Also, red oxblood adds sophistication to busy patterns such as stripes, geometric designs and florals.

In a nutshell, oxblood is posh and down-to-earth ... bewitching and accessible.  You will not find a more perfect yin and yang color for your fall or winter wardrobe.  It is showing up as nail polish and lipstick too.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Eco-Wise Wool Blankets For A Long Winter's Nap

There is no stopping Old Man Winter.  Like it or not, he's coming.  Having soft, warm blankets, so the whole family can swaddle and snuggle, is a cold weather necessity.  This year Lands' End is teaming up with Pendleton Mills, the celebrated Northwest weaver, to offer quality and comfort for much less than you will pay anywhere else.

At Lands' End, the many choices include cotton, fleece and wool blankets, goose down, or hypoallergenic comforters and Chenille throws.  Like their high-end coats and jackets, the blankets are temperature rated.  Select the perfect blanket -- warm, warmer and warmest -- to suit your needs.

Pendleton has designed blankets for 140 years.  The family-owned business is strongly committed to weaving wool with methods that are environmentally friendly.  Their blankets are 100% virgin wool and machine washable.  Created to last, they retain their softness and color for years to come.  Lots of colors and stripes too! 

In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of the bedding, or bath towels and rugs at Lands' End. Discover plush and durable home essentials at very reasonable prices.  Extra tip: Check LE's website periodically for promotions to save 30% - $40% and receive free shipping.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Healthy Lentil And Quinoa Soup, Or Is It Stew?

Over the weekend, I got out my crock pot and made a thick, vegetarain lentil and quinoa soup.  Though meatless, this dish packs a powerful nutritional punch.  Lentils are an excellent source of protein, iron, phosphorus, copper, folate, manganese and dietary fiber.  And if that's not enough, quinoa contains all 8 amino acids, making it a complete protein all by itself.  Carrots give you plenty of vitamin A [beta-carotene].  The tomato sauce provides vitamin C.  Mushrooms have a bit of protein, vitamins B6, C, D and minerals, including zinc, folate, potassium, manganese and selenium.  This delicious, one-pot meal is so simple to prepare.  Here's how:

Lentil-Quinoa Soup

16 oz (equals 2 cups or one bag) lentils
8 oz mushrooms, thickly sliced [I used white cap mushrooms.]
4 large carrots, sliced
4 celery sticks, sliced (include the leaves)
1 large onion, diced
1 8 oz can no salt tomato sauce
14 cups water
4 large [double] bouillon cubes (or 8 small-single cubes)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
12 turns of the black pepper mill
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of paprika
dash of parsley
dash of celery powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon rosemary
8 oz (equals 1 cup) quinoa

1. Throw all the ingredients, except the quinoa, into a 6 quart slow cooker (or large pot on top of the stove).
2. Cover and bring to a boil.
3. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.
4. Add the quinoa, and simmer for another half hour.

Because of the salt in the bouillon cubes, you can omit additional salt.  Using dried spices will intensify the flavor.  However, you can use fresh garlic and/or leave out the dried celery if you wish.  

Recently, I stopped buying canned soups.  Not only is homemade less expensive, it's just better in every way!   So hearty and easy to make.  Most soups, including lentil, freeze well.  I divide it up into 16 ounce containers.  One batch makes fast, convenient lunches and dinners later. 

When all the ingredients are tender and blended together, you are ready to eat.  If you like, make a leafy green salad, add slices of crusty bread, and pour your-grown-up-self a glass of red wine.  Bon Appetit!

Lentil soup is popular around the world with every country varying the spice of the same basic recipe.  Here are 5 winning alternatives to try: French lentil soup here, Becky's Italian lentil soup here, German lentil soup here, Indian lentil soup here and Japanese lentil soup here.
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who I Am: Pete Townshend

Look who's next on my reading list. 

Earlier this week I stood a few inches away from Pete Townshend, who was in town promoting his new book at Barnes and Noble.  Actually, I have Matthew, a long time fan, to thank for my being there.  It turned out to be a fun evening, and Pete had to be pleased to see hundreds of his die hard fans eager to meet him after so many years in the business.  Luckily, we got in.  Many fans didn't. [I have to give a shout out to new friends and fellow fans, Siobhan, Kevin and Kara!]

Now I'm looking forward to starting his book.  I know The Who's music.  Their hits are a part of the soundtrack of our lives, as well as, the theme songs of all the CSI television shows.  (CSI's creator is a big Who fan.)  But, I don't know all that much about Pete Townshend, up close and personal.  I know he is literate, a respected guitarist, the group's second vocalist and its principal songwriter.
Roger Daltrey (lead singer), Pete Townshend (guitarist), Keith Moon (drummer) and behind, John Entwistle (bassist)
However, I don't know much about his English family, musical influences, the dynamics of the band, nor have I heard all of The Who's Rock and Roll antidotes (other than, Pete was permanently banned from all Holiday Inns from coast to coast. Due to Keith Moon's craziness, hotels in New York City wouldn't let the band check-in. They had to lodge outside the city when they played here).  So his autobiography should be a riveting one.  I also like the fact that he waited until the age of 67 to publish it.  Writing about events with a bit of perspective and the wisdom that comes from living a full life makes an interesting read.

At the book signing, we were treated to songs played on his acoustic guitar, which at the end of the set, remained intact.  Pete said the first time he smashed his guitar on stage, it was an accident.  Now in his fifth decade of performing, Pete Townshend is looking and sounding spectacular.  And the man has a great sense of humor.  After signing so many books, I wonder how Pete's hand feels.  I imagine he won't be touching a guitar for several days. 

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Your Fall Wardrobe: Shop For Value

Photo by Goop
The arrival of fall presents a good time to take stock of your wardrobe.  Put away your summer shorts and dresses and throw away what is shabby and can't be worn next year.  Now decide if there's anything you lack to get you through the colder seasons.  Perhaps you need a new wool suit, a pair of leather boots, rubber galoshes … or some stylish basics: long sleeve t-shirts, jeans, or new undergarments.  Here are five retailers to help you with your task:

Hirshleifer – This 100 year old family run store is expensive, but they have absolutely beautiful things from Rag and Bone wool blazers and Alaia flannel skirts to Yigal Azrouel zip jersey dresses and Laurence Dacade short suede booties.  This is the place to look when you want to find a few, expertly tailored, classic pieces you will wear for years to come.  Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan.  She has a big budget.  You may settle for one practical, exquisite piece, and what's wrong with that?

Lands' End – Here quality meets unbeatable prices.  Shop for cashmere cardigans, snow boots, waterproof Squall jackets and goose down Chalet winter coats.  Plus, all of their goose down vests and coats can be machine washed and dried, which means no dry cleaning bills.

Uniqlo – They design sleek basics with Japanese technology.  Get premium cotton t-shirts, easy leggings, stretch jeans, feather-light jackets (that keep you warm), innovative Airism tops, undergarments and more.  So much more that I featured Uniqlo in an earlier post.  The Airism tops provide full support, as well as, wick perspiration away.  Perfect to wear for a workout, or under a dress.
FootSmart – A retailer offering comfortable shoes and boots with just right heels, as well as, hard to find sizes and widths, plus custom designed pain relieving tools to treat specific foot problems like hammer toes and plantar fascitis.

Target – It's where to go for sports bras and premium Champion active wear.  Sells for $10 - $17.  Why pay more, when you can get it for less?

With a bit of experience under my belt, I tend to be an under buyer.  But when I need something, I buy it. Always know your budget and stick to it.  Shop for value.  As you can see, value is available at every price point. Be open, resourceful and flexible to find it!
Photo by of Uniqlo's Airism tops, which also come with sleeves
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