Thursday, May 30, 2013

90 Degree Days Ahead


It seems like every spring has a week in which temperatures rise making the season feel more like summer. Here on the East Coast, the next three days are going to hit the 90s. Are you ready for them? I love summer, so I won't mind too much. I can always remove layers of clothing and/or sip a tall, slurpy, icy drink to cool myself off.

Here are a few things to be grateful for when the thermometer registers HOT:

1. The great outdoors - Relishing public parks, backyard barbecues and center-of-town window shopping. Being outside is fun ... period. Whether you're enjoying the leafy green or walking on a city pavement, there are lots of sights to take in.

2. Music mixes - Make a CD of all you favorite pop songs, or if you're lucky enough to have an eclectic radio station in your area, be sure to drive your car with the radio cranked up (loud for you in your car, though not at a volume to annoy a neighborhood). You never get too old for it! 

3. Swimming - at local pools or beaches - It's great exercise without traumatizing your joints, as well as, a fabulous way to spend time with friends catching up on news. Plus, the fashion is fun and easy, from swimsuits and cover-ups to wrap dresses and sandals.  Don't forget the sun protection, including sunglasses!

4. Biking - Many cities have Citi Bike sharing programs, where you can go to a convenient station, rent a bike to ride for several hours and then return the bike at another convenient station. New York City established a station at 59th Street and 5th Avenue, an entrance to Central Park, making a ride in the park inviting for locals and tourists alike. Cost: $10 and up. You can't beat it!

5. Reading, relaxing and eating - I don't know about you, but I seem to do plenty of these "activities" when the days are long and the weather agreeable. I'm looking for some good summer reads now. Goodreads may have some ideas.

6. Soaring temperatures are a reminder to plan your travels. The chance to take a summer vacation is right around the corner. Enjoy!
Emoji
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Bormioli Rocco Frigoverre Jugs with Hermetic Lids ... Brilliant

Come inside my refrigerator. 
See the glass beverage jugs above? I love them! Let me explain why.

I use a gallon of milk each week and always, always run out on a weekend. Fetching milk is a chore I can do without. Why it feels so vexing, I don't know exactly ... perhaps because it's so repetitive, and I don't like standing in lines to buy it. Plus, far too often I have to leave a cozy Sunday night roost to go out into the rain, cold or heat to shlep it home. 

So I decided to replace a task I don't like with one I don't mind. Now I order two big boxes of dry powdered milk from Walmart's online store. My order ships directly to my home free-of-charge. I mix a half gallon of milk at a time to keep in my refigerator. Price-wise, buying powdered milk is cheaper. I get an extra gallon of milk per box, which adds up to lots of savings over a year's time. I also discovered that the texture of baked goods and homemake yogurt is actually better using powdered milk. In my opinion, powdered milk tastes good as a beverage if you drink it cold. Glass keeps milk colder than plastic.

So that brings me back to the glass jugs. I need them to store cold ready-to-drink milk. I thought about using Mason jars before finding them. They are Frigoverre 1.2-liter glass pitchers made by Bormioli Rocco, an Italian manufacturer. I bought 4 pitchers. They are pretty! I feel like a farm girl taking a glass jug out of my refrigerator, pouring milk into coffee, or a recipe.

The handle is strong. The spout makes pouring a breeze, and the container is sleek and compact taking up only a small area of space in the refrigerator. The jugs fit in the shelves of the door, but I store them in the top center of the refrigerator so the milk is ice cold.
The jugs are a heavy duty glass and will not absorb the favors, odors or color of any foods stored inside. They also have innovative hermetic lids. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of how to lock and unlock the lids, they seal air tight with ease.  You can shake the jugs without spilling any liquid.

I may use one or two of the jugs for iced tea this summer. Perhaps Italians serve red wine in them.

Easy to wash and reuse, they are the perfect refrigerator pitchers and should last a long time provided nobody drops one. Likewise, I will avoid pouring boiling water into them because glass is tricky and will crack with heat ... and then, I will definitely cry. The jugs come is 3 sizes: 0.5L, 1.2L and 2L.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Personalize Your Home With Prints On Canvas

Prints on canvas by Splendiz Arts
The slogan says, "Turn your memories into masterpieces." Indeed ... surrounding yourself with images of family and friends on gallery quality canvas is a brilliant idea! You can have just about anything you fancy printed on a canvas: a wedding photo, fine art, the Eiffel Tower, pets, pumpkins or diamonds ... whatever brings you happiness, reflects your personality and makes your house a home.
Photo by Magnipic
With online retailers like Easy Canvas Prints, you upload a favorite picture, then select options for your canvas, such as size and wrap thickness. The company prints and stretches your image; and your canvas arrives, with a semi-gloss finish, ready to hang. You can elect to frame it, but it looks great unframed.

There are also competitors to google and compare.

Having pictures printed on canvas is often less expensive than having them framed. Work with a website you can call for help. Customer service will walk you through the process of creating your canvas.

 When it comes to home decorating, the number one rule is to surround yourself with personal touches and the things you love. Ordering prints on canvas is an affordable way to turn cherished photographs into art, and they stay vivid and pristine for years to come.
Photos by Easy Canvas Prints
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Banana Pudding

Photo by M Kasahara
Banana pudding is one of my favorite Southern desserts, and I won't lie: The higher the milk fat used in the recipe, the richer and better tasting the pudding is. Cream makes a heavenly banana pudding, but in the interest of staying healthy and slender, I make a few concessions. I try to retrain my tastesbuds to like lighter versions of the most decadent sweets. Most of the time, here is how I eat banana pudding:

Banana Pudding



Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar (if you have it)
3 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cinnamon graham crackers (or the traditional Vanilla Wafers. I have also used ginger cookies)
3-4 ripe bananas

Directions: 

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. I use an electric hand mixer and beat it right in a large saucepan, so I have one less bowl to wash. (Yes, I am THAT lazy!)
2. Save the egg whites in a separate mixing bowl for later.
3. Add the flour, cornstarch, salt and milk to the saucepan and beat smooth.
4. Heat this mixture on the stovetop, stirring until it thickens into a custard. I use a wooden spoon.
5. Turn off the flame and add the vanilla. Let cool.
6. Next pour a little of the custard onto the bottom of a deep baking dish.
7. Layer with the graham crackers (or vanilla wafers), then top with slices of bananas.
8. Keep layering. Alternate: custard, graham crackers, banana slices.
9. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with about 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar into a meringue and spread it on top of the banana pudding.
10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Watch closely. When the meringue is slightly brown and the pudding is bubbling, remove from the oven. Eat warm or cold.

Even if you're a healthy eater, I can't see totally depriving yourself of treats. Graham crackers contain less sugar than vanilla wafers, but are equally delicious. You can also use 1% milk to make banana pudding, and it will be tasty. But for special ocassions, use whole milk and cream. As long as you eat fattening food the way your grandparents did -- a serving for dinner on Sundays -- you can indulge.

THE SAVVY SHOPPER features food as one of its topics because it's a central focus of our lives. We spend a huge amount of our disposable income (money after taxes) on food. Gathering, preparing and serving meals takes up lots of our time too. You can forgo buying a pair of shoes, but as my mother notes, "You have to eat every day!" So if you know how to cook, you can save a bundle, entertain on a budget and most of all, eat well. Bon appétit!

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Monday, May 13, 2013

How To Pick Sunglasses: Form To Function


Protecting your eyes is a top consideration:
Just like your skin, the lens and corneas of your eyes need protection from the sun's harmful rays. Wearing sunglasses helps reduce your risks of cataracts and vision damage.
1. Always choose sunglasses that block 99% - 100% of the sun's UVB and UVA light.
2. Sunglass lenses should offer UV 400 protection -- meaning they block up to 400 nanometers (measurements in wavelengths) of ultraviolet light.  
3. With sunglasses, bigger is better, and wraparound frames offer the best eye protection against damaging rays.

Select The Right Lens Hue:
The coating that blocks the sun's utltraviolet light is clear. Hence, darker lenses do not necessarily offer more protection than lighter lenses.  But lens hue will alter how you perceive color.
1. Grey tints block light without affecting contrast or distorting colors.
2. For automobile drivers, grey, green and brown lenses are better. You can still distinguish between the changes in traffic lights and not miss vital information registering on your dashboard.
3. For golfers, copper lenses will mute the blue sky and green grass against a white golfball.
4. For tennis players, blue and green tints will increase the contrast of a yellow tennis ball.
5. Other lens tints like violet, rose, yellow and orange are good for very specific sports and outdoor activities like shooting targets, but definitely bad for driving!!!
Polarized Lenses:
Polarized lenses do not block ultraviolet light; they reduce the glare produced when sunlight bounces off other surfaces, like water.
They help boaters, water skiers and snow skiers not be blinded by reflected light. But, they make the digital displays of cell phones and a car's dashboard harder to read.

Choosing Lens Material:
Consider your lifestyle. The most expensive isn't always necessary. 
1. Glass – Has excellent optical clarity and scratch-resistance, but is heavier and will shatter when dropped.
2. NXT polyurethane: Has excellent optical clarity, scratch and impact resistance; is flexible and lightweight, but is the most expensive.
3. Polycarbonate: Has good optical clarity; is impact resistant; lightweight and affordable, but is less scratch resistant than NXT polyurethane or glass.
4. Acrylic: is inexpensive and lightweight, but has less optical clarity or durability than glass, NXT polyurethane or polycarbonate.  Acrylic lenses are ideal for casual sunglass wear. If lost or broken, it's not a big deal since you pay less for them.

Consider Fashion:
Don't pretend otherwise, you know you want to look rock star cool and movie star glamorous in your shades, therefore:
Determine the shape of your face, then remember that opposites attract.
1. Rounded frames are great on a square face.
2. Square frames complement a round face.
3. Rectangular frames flatter a heart-shaped face.
4. Oval faces have more leeway (because the face is balanced). Nearly all shapes of sunglasses look good on an oval face, though square frames with rounded corners will complement ovals especially well.
5. Oversized glasses will balance an oblong face, making it look shorter.
6. Aviator glasses not only look good on all face shapes, they make faces look younger.
7. Always try on sunglasses standing in front of a full length mirror. Never trust the small mirror on a sunglass rack. You need to see how the frames look on your entire face or you will arrive home wondering, "What happened!?!" when, "I looked sooo good in the department store!" I won't name my source, but has this ever happened to you?

Here are a few examples of sunglasses matched to face shapes. Don't worry about remembering every point. When you try on an assortment of sunglasses, your eyes will inevitably tell you when you are wearing the perfect frames.

By the way, the studded Prada frames in the top photo are perfect for my oval face, but not my wallet. So Marshall's and TJ Maxx ... here I come.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Every year my Mother tells me not to buy her a gift because she doesn't need anything. It's a good thing I ignore her when she's wrong. She values a phone call and a thoughtful card, so I'm doing a round-up of images that would make lovely cards. A paper one is in the mail too. Happy Mother's Day, Mamma. xoxo.
This silhouette looks strikingly like my Mom. That's her nose, hair and earrings, and she has a dress with a similar collar. 
A sweet painting. Love the colors too.
I cannot believe my luck in finding this Superman logo. Read my account of a mother/daughter interaction. My Mom is still clueless!
You can find pretty images on the internet and use them in creative ways: 
1. Print on good paper, fold over and make your own cards. You may have to attach a blank sheet of paper inside to write on, if your paper isn't heavy enough.
2. Print an image (set on full page) and use to line the inside bottom of a box.
3. Print on full page and use as wrapping paper.

 To all mothers, enjoy your special day.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Probiotics To Balance Good And Bad Bacteria

"Need help in keeping your digestive system in sync," asks a TV ad? It's a valid question. If you travel, take antibiotics, are hormonal or stressed, you might. Apparently, as we age some of us will because everything slows down. Something else to look forward to ... yikes! 

Probiodics are single-cell organisms introduced into the body to support good bacteria. Already, you have bacteria living in your gut. These microorganisms help your intestines breakdown proteins and carbohydrates, moving them though your system. Ideally, you should get friendly bacteria from eating fermented food like yogurt. A balance of good and bad bacteria keeps both your digestive and immune systems healthy.

However if you feel discomfort, bloated and/or irregular ... and are not getting friendly bacteria from the food you eat, it might help to take a probiotic supplement with the following strains:

1. Lactobacillus Acidophilus - Found in the small intestines; helps digest milk.
2. Lactobacillus Salivarius - Found in the small and large intestines; reduces unfriendly bateria.
3. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus - Found in the small and large intestines; supports digestion.
4. Streptococcus Thermophilus - Breaks down food.
5. Bifidobacterium Bifidum - Fights unfriendly bacteria; helps make B vitamins. 

Another question arises: In choosing a supplement how many live probiotics do you need? As it turns out, a lot! Here's a guide:

10 billion - to maintain healthy digestion.
20 billion - to relieve bloating and discomfort.
30 billion -  to re-balance your intestines with friendly bacteria

I rarely stop to consider the microorganisms living in each of our digestive tracts. It's like composting when you think about it!

Indeed, probiotics are the latest health craze. Although a natural remedy (pro), they are expensive (con). So you might first try eating a balanced diet, including yogurt. Yogurt is only about 50 cents a serving and tasty. If that doesn't work, move on to probiotics, which will have a high concentration of good bacteria to put you back in balance.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Refreshing Bourbon Slush

Photo: Courtesy of The Kentucky Derby Museum
The Kentucky Derby has many traditions. Bourbon is a popular drink served at the races, as well as, at parties. Many people are familiar with a mint julep, but another treat is the refreshing Bourbon Slush. Usually, I would much rather eat my calories than drink them, but this icy cocktail is worth it! Here is how to make a batch:

Bourbon Slush

Ingedients:
6 cups water
3 cups very fine bourbon
12 oz. lemonade from concentrate
6 oz. orange juice from concentrate
1 cup sugar
2 cups strong tea (Use 2 cups water with 4 black tea bags.)

Top off with: Limon-lime carbonated soda – 7 Up or Fresca

Directions:
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 4 tea bags. Let steep for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Mix in the rest of the water and the other ingredients (except for the limon-lime soda).
3. Pour into a container and place in the freezer for 24 hours, stirring occasionally to produce a slush.
4. Scoop into Old Fashioned glasses.
5. Top with Fresca, or 7-Up soda - regular or diet works. This adds fizz and gets the slush to melt slightly, making the drink extra goood!

Take a batch of Bourbon Slush to all your summer parties. Freeze it in Tupperwear for portibility. When word gets out, you will feel the love. 

The Kentucky Derby is this coming Saturday. Post time: 6:30 pm. Enjoy!
Red rose
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