Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Design Your Own Shoes

Have you ever had a certain shoe style in mind, but after a day of shopping came home empty handed? Shopping for new shoes without finding what you're looking for is frustrating, right? 

Well as it turns out, there are online shoe companies who are set up to let you design your own shoes. Craft your perfect shoes part by part. You pick the material, color, toe, heel and embellishments. You end up with shoes that are uniquely yours ... well almost.

I can see a bride going this route for bridesmaids who are different heights, or have different tastes. You can create shoes with elements that are uniform yet individual, so that each member of your wedding party can wear their shoes after your wedding; or you may have a special occasion and need a very specific style and color of shoe that you can't find in stores. So to own it, you will have to design it yourself.

Prices range from $150 to about $300, depending on the details you choose. It isn't dirt cheap, but still affordable for what is essentially customized shoes.

Retailers include:
Milk And Honey - Fashion shoes
Shoes of Prey - Fashion shoes
The Shoe Design Studio - Fashion shoes
iShoes by iTailor - Men's shoes
NikeiD - Sports shoes
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Is It One Space, Not Two?

Photo: The Unpaid Marketer
THE SAVVY SHOPPER needs to break a bad habit. Starting right now! Look at past posts. Most of the time, I use two spaces after a period to separate sentences. That was correct at one time, but with the arrival of computers and more fonts than we know what to do with, it no longer is. And to tell you the truth, I've been struggling with the question for a while. This morning I decided to check several sources for correctness. All say one space only. If you'd like an explanation, go here.

It takes repetition to replace an old habit with a new one. But starting today, I'm on it! Want to play a game? Going forward, let's see how many times I slip-up.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Essential Oils Are A Household ... wait for it ... Essential

Photo by Plantlife Natural Body Care
It's still green week ... and the beginning of Spring!  So let's talk a bit more about botanicals.

An essential oil is a concentrated liquid containing aromatic compounds from a plant.  It is often extracted by steam distillation.  Different parts of the plants, the flowers, bark or leaves are used in the different oils.  Steam heats the plant, breaking it down into components.  The oil is separated from the water and filtered to produce an essential oil.  

It takes many pounds of plant matter to get one pound of any given essential oil.  An essential oil may not be cheap, but a little goes a long way.  You only need a few drops at a time.  A 2-ounce bottle will last a few years and not lose its potency.

Essential oils have several uses.  They are used in aromatheraphy (in massage or baths) to promote natural healing and well being.  Their molecules are tiny, so they are easily absorbed into the skin as ingredients in lotions to heal, moisterize and norish.

Essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral and anitfugal properties.  You can use them to make homemake cleaning solutions, or add a few drops to your shampoo as a remedy for oily hair.

Because essential oils are concentrated, most varieties should not be used undiluted on your skin. They need a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or almond oil.  Add a few drops to your favorite massage oils, or body lotions and butters.  Despite their beneficial properties, never use undiluted essential oils on babies, children or pets.  Their skins are sensitive.

To see if a brand is pure, put a drop on a piece of paper.  It should dry and disappear.  If the drop leaves a residue, the essential oil isn't pure, but is diluted with another ingredient.

Here are five Essential Oils I like to use at home:

1. Tea Tree Oil - You can safely apply undiluted tea tree oil to skin abrasions and zits.  Add a few drops to your shampoo, or wipe down sweaty exercise mats and germy household surfaces with a mixture of 20 drops of tea tree oil to one cup of water.
2. Peppermint Oil - I add several drops to shampoo and bath oil.  It tingles the skin.
3. Rosemary Oil - It's invigorating.  Also can be added to shampoo or cleaning preprations.
4. Lavender Oil -  One of my favorite aromas, so I put it in lotions and hand creams.  I find it both refreshing and calming.
5. Geranium Oil - Very sweet smelling around the house.  You can make disinfectant sprays with any of these essential oils by adding 20 drops to one cup of water.

These are the ones I buy.  There are tons of other essential oils.  Never injest them, but learn what they do and experiment.

Do you have a favorite essential oil?
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Vegan Beauty Products To Try

Photo by Dermstore
Vegan products are popular with consumers who are concerned about staying healthy, animal curelty and protecting the environment.  Made with pure, wholesome ingredients that are not tested on animals, they are very often organic, as well as, biodegradable and come in minimal, recyclable packaging, according to veganpresence.com.  Being more mindful of the products we buy is a good thing.  Finding products that are good for the planet and the people who live on it is common sense, right?

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, THE SAVVY SHOPPER is highlighting three vegan, all-in-one products.  As more shoppers lean towards vegan and eco-friendly goods, the production for them will go up, making them cheaper to buy.  Another way to lessen your carbon footprint is to look for products that do double, or even quintuple duty.  The following are beauty products with several benefits that yours truly is eager to try:

1. Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup Foundation - Lightweight coverage with built-in skincare ingredients.  It's a face powder, concealer, sunscreen and moisterizer all-in-one. Smooths away fine lines, plumps, lifts and firms the skin's appearance.  Bring it on, sister!  Costs: $27.

2. Salon Grafix Healthy Hair Nutrition Conditioning Cleanser Line - Sold as a new concept in hair care.  It's sulfate-free and lather-free.  Cleans and conditions without stripping hair of its natural oils.  Takes the place of 5 hair products: shampoo, daily conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and detangler.  Revitalizes damaged hair leaving it shiny and full of body. Costs: $8.
3. Medicine Mama's Sweet Bee Magic All In One Healing Cream - It's certified organic and contains healing bee properties like honey, bee pollen and royal jelly, plus olive oil to nourish, smoothe and protect the skin.  Treats cuts, dry and sensitive skin. Costs: $25. (But, you can find it for $16.98)

I am always on the lookout for products, containing top-notch, all natural ingredients that work, and I love double duty products.  One product -- with multi-benefits and several uses -- saves time, money and reduces clutter.

If you want to explore other vegan merchandise, go t0 VeganEssentials and VeganStore.

FlowersHappy Earth Day!Flowers with Butterfly

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Nutmeg Mill ... Nice!

William Bounds Nutmeg Mill, Chrome
My mom and aunt (her sister), add nutmeg to nearly every dish they prepare, including meats, vegetables, soups and desserts.  They have all the cooks in the family believing that nutmeg makes nearly every food taste better; and like medicine, nutmeg is very good for us.  We simply must sprinkle some into whatever we whip up.  Well ... I have been brainwashed, and mostly I comply!

Recently, I received a gift I did not even know I wanted -- a nutmeg mill.  Had I read the product reviews, I would have been reluctant to buy it.  Some of the reviewers are unhappy with it, but mine is fantastic.  It's easy to hold and turn and seems to have the right amount of tension.  The rotary blades are stainless steel.  They grind a fair amount of nutmeg quickly, and the shavings are not exactly a powder, but a fine texture.  My trick is the turn the handle in both directions to keep the shavings coming.

I love my new hand-cranked, kitchen gadget. Fresh shaved nutmeg is superior to already ground nutmeg.

The nutmeg mill comes with 4-5 whole nutmegs, which are conveniently stored inside a clear acrylic chamber.  I find that unscrewing the top to pop in a new nutmeg is simple and hassle-free.  Several reviewers say, the mill doesn't grind as well with old nutmegs.  So a tip is to always use fresh, hard nutmegs to have the ease and just-right-size shavings of nutmeg.  Plus using the mill, you will save your fingertips too! It's a handy, not to mention, attractive kitchen tool. $24-$30.

By the way, ever wonder what a nutmeg is?  It's a seed or kernel, not a bulb or nut.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rubbermaid Easy-Find-Lids Set(s) At Walmart

Plastic food containers have a way of disappearing or wearing out.  So I needed a new set. Although I would rather have glass, plastic is far more practical.  It takes up less room in a cupboard and won't break when dropped.  That's why I selected this rubbermaid set.

Walmart is offering a super deal.  2 sets: 56 pieces for $20.  Here is what you get:

Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids 24-Piece Plus 4 Food Storage Set x 2 =
  • (16) ½-cup containers with lids
  • (8) 1 ¼-cup containers with lids
  • (8) 2-cup containers with lids
  • (8) 3-cup containers with lids
  • (8) 5-cup containers with lids
  • (8) 7-cup containers with lids
Microwave, freezer and dishwsher safe, the containers are sturdy and cleverly designed.  Despite being BPA-free, I never microwave food in plastic.  But here's a useful feature, the lids snap to each other and also to the bottom of the containers, so you are less likely to lose them.

Another fantastic deal is, you can order merchandise online from Walmart and receive free shipping.  The online-retailer will ship an order that is under $45 to a Walmart store, or to your nearest Fed Ex Office for you to pick up.  And, if your order is $45 or more, you get it shipped free to your home.  You can order toilet paper, or paper towels to make up the difference and enjoy the convenience of home delivery.  Bargains, plus convenience, make shopping online worthwhile.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Forward In Style With Five Easy Pieces

Photo by Anita Martinz/Flickr
Spring is here again, and not a moment too soon.  Some mornings there's a chill in the air, but now the days are bright, sunny and getting longer.  Garden flowers are in full bloom, and it's time to think about a transitional wardrobe.  Here are Five Spring Essentials to add to your closet:

1. A City/Resort Ruffle Shaw from April Marin - Versitle and easy to take on trips to wear with dresses, trousers and skirts.  Occasionally, they go on sale for under $30.
2. Scarves from Old Navy - Keep chills away while making your outfits pop.  They are lightweight, inexpensive and shield you from a strong wind. $10-$15.
3. Big Shirts from LL Bean - They fall low at the hip, are made of plush corduroy; are a relaxed fit; and are great to layer.  Wear with dark leggings and skinny jeans to look polished.  Under $40 on promotion days.
4. T-shirts from Landsend - Made of durable, soft 100% cotton.  They are colorful and cozy to wear under your shawl, big shirts or sweaters.
5. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers from Zappos - Cute, comforable and casual smart.  Perfect when paired with jeans or shorts. $40-$50

You can't go wrong with these five easy pieces.  Simple to wash and fun to wear.

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