Monday, September 30, 2013

Losing Weight: I Want To Zip Up My Jeans

Photo: Scott Snyde
I am trying to lose 15 pounds. Why? I can't fit into my jeans. It is HARRRD and excruciatingly slow going, but I am ever so slowwwly losing about a pound a week.

Here is how I'm doing it.

Eat a protein (like a Nature Valley chewy protein bar) and a 16 oz cup of coffee with milk. 

Photo: Dreamtime
Eat a low-cal, high-protein smoothie: Consists of a scoop of Whey protein powder (either chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry), one cup skim milk, and 4 ice cubes. Mix the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Once you acquire a taste, it's rich and creamy like a milkshake. At 68 grams of protein, it keeps you going until dinner. (Select a brand without heavy medals.) Sometimes I throw frozen spinach, blueberries or strawberries into the smoothie for variety.

Eat low-fat, regular food, a balanced meal: a protein, starch and two vegetables, plus drink milk. I might also have fruit and/or a side salad with vinaigrette dressing.

I had to eliminate snacks, except for one: Eat a small late night snack - either flavored soy chips, a serving of nuts or thin slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese on saltine crakers. I could eat the whole freaking block of cheese, but don't let myself!

Free food/beverages: Diet Arizona Tea and/or afternoon coffee or tea with milk: I get tired of just water, but drink plenty of it because often we mistake thirst for hunger. If you eat enough protein, you should last from one meal until the next. I might eat stalks of celery for crunch, or a few stawberries or blueberries in between meals if I buy them.

Just a few years ago, the weight would have dropped off quickly on such a diet. Not anymore.

And of course, if I attend a party and eat a piece of cake, or drink a single glass of wine ... sometimes you have to be a good sport, I can gain two pounds in an evening that took a week to take off. That's why I say I am losing a pound a week. One pound less a week is what is sticking. Arghhh, it shouldn't be so rediculously HARRRD!

From my experience of losing seven pounds, so far, I find:

1. You lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume in a day. PeriodIt doesn't matter when you eat most of your calories, morning, noon or night, or if you eat or skip breakfast. What matters is calories in, calories out. 
2. To lose, figure out when you get hungry and plan your meals accordingly. I don't do well eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. There's no evidence it matters. So figure out what works for you. I like to eat breakfast like a pauper, lunch like a prince and dinner like a king, and I can't seem to give up my nightly (after 9 pm) snack. For some reason, food tastes AMAZING late at night! So I must work with my appetite, and so do you. (For me, 3 bigger meals and a snack works. Six small meals a day would not. Once I take a bite of food, I turn into a gobbling Pac-Man!)
Photo: Today Gourmet Foods
3. Let yourself get hungry, but not too hungry. Eat when you are hungry (not bored, stressed or guttonous), and eat nutritious foods (mix it up: protein, whole grains and a variety of vegetables - colors and textures) so you feel satisfied. 

When all is said and done, you need the resolve to drop the pounds. Kate Moss got a lot of flack for saying it, but she is absolutely right. You must have her mindset: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I don't believe she meant that people should starve, or be bone thin. That is sick, not attractive. She meant, it takes discipline to maintain a desired weight, and it does. People who claim otherwise are lying.

There is no one standard of beauty. Whether you have been slender or large your whole life, we are all the same. Dropping a pound is challenging for everybody regardless of size. It is HARRRD!

This post is part of a conversation Patricia and I had on her blog, The Red Cardinal. Later she plans to write about her recent weight loss, and I look forward to hearing about her success.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Impromptu Red Wine Sangria

Photo: A Kozy Kitchen
I've been trying to solve a problem for two days. In the scheme of life, it's not much of a problem. L.A's Second Glass Wine Riot gave me three full bottles of opened Spanish red wine after an event they hosted here in Manhattan on Saturday, in which I participated. Very thoughtful ... bless 'em! The problem ... even with the help of other people, I can't drink 3 bottles of already opened wine before they go bad ... and get much of anything else done.

So to impede the time of expiration, I turned them into a quick, delicious sangria. I'm making one batch at a time, and each batch should last a few days. Drinking sangria was not in the plan, but damn ... is it good, and so simple to make. I used nooo sugar. Here is my recipe:

My Impromptu Red Wine Sangria


one bottle good, red wine
1 lemon
4 ounces premium orange juice
Part of a 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks, with pinapple juice
Dash of organic Stevia extract

1. Pour the bottle of red wine into a glass pitcher
2. Roll the lemon on a cutting board, cut, squeeze the juice into the jug, then cut the lemon into sections and throw it into the jug.
3. Add the premium orange juice. If you have an orange, cut it into sections and throw it into the pitcher too. I didn't have one. (What? Am I a supermarket?)
4. Pour the pineapple juice from the can into the pitcher, and throw in several chunks of pineapple.
5. Sprinkle a tiny bit of Stevia into the mixture to sweeten.

Feel free to use whatever you have on hand. If you have a peach, strawberries or an apple, cut them up and add. If you don't have Stevia, use a little bit of sugar, or agave sweetner, or what you like. Making sangria isn't rocket science ... but, it is refreshing and a treat!

Chill with ice. Here are the jugs I am using to store what remains in the refrigerator.

Serve a glass of sangria with dinner, or crackers, cheeses and avocado dip. Cheers!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

3.1 Phillip Lim For Target

Phillip Lim is the latestest fashion designer to collaborate with Target® to bring out a full line of affordable menswear, womenswear and accessories. The items range from $19.99 (for a man's pocket tee) to $299.99 (for a man's leather jacket - wait for it to go on sale), and the goods are available at Target stores and online now for a limited time (meaning they will sell out fast!).

Lim says he strives to put "street elegance" into his clothing. I call his style casual smart since he is known for crossing dressy with casual in his collections. Most of his clothing can go from the office to a night out on the town. His collections are always practical, comfortable and chic, without the fuss.

It's worth a browse to spot a few trendy, budget friendly articles. Mixing and matching cheap and expensive pieces is how you can create your own style. I often do it, and end up getting compliments on my inexpensive pieces, which is fun. 

Many times the quality of the merchandise is surprisingly good. I picked up a Liberty of London For Target® cotton dress (lined and embroodered for $24 bucks), which still looks new after 3 years of wear. So don't be afraid to mix it up.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Dream Pumpkin Cake

Autumn begins on Sunday. Temperatures are dropping making it the perfect time to turn on the oven. A recipe that's traveling around the internet [see The Novice Chef] sounds delicious. As usual, I tweaked the ingredients to make the cake slightly healthier, but don't fool yourself! It's still a gooey, buttery dessert, not an all-you-can-eat leafy green vegetable. However, if you eat healthy most of the time, you can have a slice of cake, unless of course your doctor says otherwise.

Dream Pumpkin Cake

For the cake -


3 cups flour (I use half all purpose and half whole wheat.)
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cups sugar (I reduce it from 2 cups, eek!)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
A dash of cinnamon
1 15 oz can pumpkin
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup buttermilk (Add another ¼ cup, or so, if needed to get a not too dry or runny consistency. Eyeball it.)

Photo: The Novice Chef

1. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, one at a time and blend with an electric mixer until creamy.
3. Divide the batter evenly by pouring into 2 greased cake pans.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until done in the center.
5. Let cool for about 5 - 10 minutes in the freezer and remove from the pans. Don't let the cakes continue to bake in the hot pans. You want to keep them moist.

For the frosting -

12 oz (1 ½ packages) cream cheese, softened 
½ cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablesoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar 

1. In a bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until creamy.
2. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. 
3. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth. 
4. Frost the top, middle and sides of the cake.
5. Professional bakers will put the cake into the refrigerator to let the frosting set, then remove it to frost it again. So a second frosting is totally up to you.

Serve with coffee, tea or milk. 

You get some protein, fiber, vitamins A, B, E, D and calcium in this pumpkin cake, but probably not enough to offset the sugar, nor count as a healthy food. So it's a ring-in-the-fall special treat. Enjoy!

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Feast Your Eyes On Cobalt Blue

This year's New York Fashion Week featured lots of cobalt blue on the runways, one of my all time favorite colors. The deep and stable blue pigment is often used to make beautiful porcelain, jewlry and transparent glass, as well as, the most stunning ball gowns, or eye-popping everyday dresses, blazers and shoes.

It is described as this fall's hot new hue, but there's nothing trendy about it. Historically a popular color, it is soothing and grounding. Simply stated, cobalt blue is gorgeous and will never, ever go out of style. Personally, I find it somewhat intoxicating and could wear it every hour of everyday! 

So just for you, my awesome readers ... THE SAVVY SHOPPER's roundup of the many possibilities:
Awww, feast your eyes on even more cobalt blue with ... a runway sampling --

... everyday à la mode
... elegant home decor. (Click here and scroll down. It began life as a sherry bottle.)

... a dose of loveliness, Nine West's Ponte Bodice Dress
... MINE! I called it. What are you having? :)

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

The National Academy Museum And School

Photo: Artnet News
Perhaps one of Museum Mile's best kept secrets is The National Academy Museum and School. Located a block away from The Guggenheim on Fifth Avenue (at 5 East 89th Street), it occupies a mansion that was once the home of scuptor Anna and scholar Archer Huntington.

Founded in 1825, the National Academy is an organizaton, a school and a museum. It is a professional organization whose highly esteemed members included Frank Lloyd Wright and Winslow Homer and living members, Frank Stella and Jasper Johns. (The National Academy is the oldest artists' organization in the United States. Members are elected by their peers.) The school offers "studio instruction, master classes, critiques, workshops, lectures" and scholorships; and the museum has an acquisition of over 7,000 "works of American art from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries."

The building, itself, is a beautiful piece of architecture with fireplaces, marble floors and a spiral stairwell. Visitors can get a real sense of Edith Wharton's turn of the century New York. The mansion is fully renovated and intimate, with a charming interplay of old and new throughout.
Photo: NY Press
The National Academy is a place where the past meets the present. There are frequent special exhibits, where American art is examined and appreciated.  The museum focuses on the variety and vitality in American art. There is a blend of fine art from 19th century landscape painters to more modern and comtemporary abstract painters.

The National Academy strives to be a lively community of artists, architects, teachers, students ... and the public. So the next time you come to New York City, stroll up to the Upper East Side to check out their exhibits and permanent collection. You'll be glad you did!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Fall Trends

Photo: People Style Watch
By the time Labor Day arrives, you know summer is fading and fall is only a few weeks away. Here are five looks to take you from late summer into autumn:

1. Burgundy lips - It's also a universal color that flatters everyone, regardless of hair color or skin tone.

2. Skinny jeans and legging paints - Too comfortable and polished to ever go out of style.
3. Spiked shoes - They are edgy. Spikes add a "wow" factor to flats, boots and heels. After the summer passes, we'll have to get our socks out again.
4. Utility jackets - It's a great investment that can be layered as seasons change -- when a chilly wind is replaced by a drop in temperatures. Select a waterproof one that can be rolled up to fit into a suitcase.
5. Wrap chain bracelets - A little bling adds pizzazz to any outfit.
Rebecca's turtle - She has two, Morticia and Gomez.
This last picture was taken by Rebecca Keegan, someone I worked with in New York, who now lives in Los Angeles. What she wrote, sums up my attitude perfectly, " Summer is over when we say it's over." Alas ... the attitude is much easiler to maintain in sunny LA. I'm going to miss the taste of watermelon very soon.

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