Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover For The iPad

A mini for an ipad mini
First of all, if you are thinking of buying an ipad, consider the ipad mini. It will cost up to $200 less than its larger model siblings. I have played with all three tablets, the ipad air, ipad 2 and the ipad mini, and to my surprise, I prefer the mini. When you look at the mini's 7.87 inch screen, it doesn't seem that much smaller than the bigger 9.4 and 9.5 inch screens. Unless you have a specific need for the extra 1.7 inches, why not save your money?

What's more, the mini is the most compact and travel-friendly of the three. Weighing under a pound, it fits conveniently into a purse, or the inside pocket of a trench coat. Nice to take on trips!
keyboard cover fastened to an ipad mini
Once you have an ipad, you need some type of a case. There are many choices.

I like Logitech's multi-tasking Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. The aluminum cover fastens to one side of the ipad with a magnet, protecting the screen when your ipad is idle. Just 8mm thick, the cover is slender and perfectly matches your ipad mini. Together, they are still lightweight, ultra thin and attractive. (Don't worry: If you have a larger ipad, Logitech makes its keyboard cover for all sizes.)

The sturdy case's built-in wireless Bluetooth keyboard is super simple to set up by following a few prompts. The keys, though not quite standard, are a good workable size too ... even for larger fingers.
keyboard cover in its viewing stand mode
The keyboard cover converts into a very practical viewing stand, so you don't always have to hold your ipad when in use. You can secure it in the stand to watch videos, or prop it up in the stand while you lie on your couch to monitor your email and do web research.

However, the keyboard cover doesn't protect the back of the ipad, so you will probably want to buy an inexpensive sleeve (available for under $15 bucks) just in case you drop it.

Once you make the investment, THE SAVVY SHOPPER says ... use your devices until they hiccup, cough and die, or you'll go broke!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Four-Cube Organzier With Storage Bins

Once upon a time while living at home with my parents, I wore a 14k gold watch they gave me for Christmas. We lived in a house with beautiful wood furniture and fancy china. Expensive figurines decorated the shelves of a large, walnut cabinet.  

Judging by what we buy today, times change. Life is less formal and simpler in many ways. I'm a different kind of consumer than my mother was, and I bet you are too.

Instead of fine china for 12, I bought sturdy place settings for 8 from Pottery Barn (when PB sold dishes in the 1990s). I remember selecting dishes I could use for everyday, as well as, a dinner party. I didn't want to buy 2 sets of dishes for different purposes. One set does it all, and no guest has ever batted an eye.
Nice enough, right? Goes upright or lateral.

Now I buy Timex watches ... and organizer cubes from Walmart. As long as the cube is strong enough to serve its purpose and looks decent, I don't care if it is made of inexpensive pressed wood. Paying hundreds of dollars to store one's stuff makes no sense to me. When I think about it ... perhaps I could get rid of all the stuff that hides behind other stuff in a closet. Tell me why we hold on to things we rarely use, since it seems like too much trouble to get up on a ladder to rearrange stuff in order to get to other stuff? 

As I get older, I'm becoming something of an under buyer. I think more about the world as a whole and my carbon footprint in it, and I can live with less. I only want stuff I actually use.

Don't get me wrong. I want to live well, have fashionable clothes and own everything I need to live a comfortable and purposeful life. But I don't mind wearing garments I like over again. I don't need to replace a computer or car the year a newer version comes out, and I don't want tons of extras (clothes, shoes, appliances, bedding, bath towels) I never use. Ideally, belongings shouldn't sit around idly ... collecting dust. 

The stuff we buy should make our lives better, easier or more fun. Don't bring anything into your home without a clear function.

Space is valuable. Clutter looks bad. Be sure you won't mind losing your empty space to any merchandise that will occupy it.

Moreover, know when to pay top dollar, or not. When a similar item is ten times more expensive, ask yourself -- if you will get ten times more value or enjoyment out of it. When the answer is "yes," splurge. If "no," save.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day From THE SAVVY SHOPPER

Photo: Karen Morris
Celebrating Valentine's Day with images from around the web: What would an elegant dinner be without a tasty bottle of red wine? And ... what would Valentine's Day be without lots of hearts, flowers or petals, candles, desserts and the passion of bright red? So lovely!

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens (recipe here)

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens (recipe here)
Flickering hearts. Photo: familyholiday.net
Enjoy-- Amore-- xox.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Zyllion's Shiatsu Massage Pillow, A Review

Periodically I have lower back pain. Sciatica. Usually it goes away in a few days, but recently the twinge lingered. After several weeks of stiffness, I decided to buy a massage pillow. 

Why just a pillow? Well ... to be honest, I am too cheap, plus didn't want to make room in my New York City apartment for a massage chair. (I value my space!) I've tried the chairs at the Sharper Image shops, and they are fantastic! I hoped that good things ... um similar results, could come in small packages.

So I bought Zyllion's Shiatsu Massage Pillow With Heat ... and it works! Here are the pros:
  • It has a 6 cm compact body.

  • Indeed (as promoted) 4 deep kneading Shiatsu balls do "relax, relieve and soothe aching muscles" and nerves. 
  • The heat definitely helps. It feels great!
  • The nodes rotate in both directions, alternating, much like the knuckles of a real human being.
  • The device is programmed not to overheat, and it shuts off after 20 minutes for safety. You can also push a button to turn the heat off.
  • You can use the slim cushion on your lower back, upper back, neck, stomach, calves, and thighs.
The one con: A longer cord -- another foot, or so -- would be useful to reach further. Sometimes I accidentally unplug the pillow while on my couch. Why be chintzy with too short of a cord when you make a good product? What would an extra foot cost the company?

The portable cushion has a strap to wrap around a chair, but I haven't used it. 

The manufacturer claims the device can be used in the home, office or car. Included is an adaptor to plug into a car dashboard, and the packaging shows an image of a little stick person reaching for a steering wheel. What ... seriously!?! 

Who wants to be on the road with drivers who are having a massage! Lord God, No! Some people won't stop a moment for directions much less pull over for 20 minutes to treat a spasm! So please fellow motorists, for the safety of all of us, keep your full attention on driving and use your Shiatsu massage pillows at home.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Peter Pilotto For Target

Target's latest collaborator is one of London's most coveted fashion brands. Peter Pilotto -- headed by designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos -- is known for its innovative, colorful prints. Called classic and modern, the clothing is attractive, complex and energetic. There's a great interplay of funky flowers with graphics in the patterns, which is very warm and playful. It's a bit like looking through a kaleidoscope.

The 70-piece collection, priced from $14.99 to $79.99, includes dresses, swimwear, trousers, crop tops, tote bags and sunglasses.

The vivid line is available at Target, beginning February 9th and for the first time, internationally, through net-a-porter.com.
I love these well-thought-out and fun collections (despite some controversy).  They make luxury designs affordable to most everyone. For $40 or less, you can get a lovely vibrant dress (Some are more expensive. Wait for the sales.) 

Don't be tempted to overbuy, though ... and stay away from cheap, disposable fabric. If you select wisely, the apparel from Target's partnerships with top designers will last for many seasons. My Liberty of London black, cotton dress (purchased in 2009) is still going strong.  With Peter Pilotto in tow, perhaps it's the perfect time to add a new piece to my wardrobe. How about you?
Purple foral print, $69.99
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Five "Better For You" Candies

The power of a sweet tooth is strong. Everybody craves candy sometimes, but according to recent studies, sugar is really bad for the human body. Some scientific research links sugar to cancer and heart disease

Yet if we try to eliminate all candy from our diets, most of us will fail. Extreme diets that make us feel deprived rarely succeed. The trick is to eat sugar in moderation. Sweets should be a special treat. So figure out what candies satisfy your hankering for sugar and eat them mindfully ... as a planned treat, limiting yourself to one serving.

Here are 5 candies that are better for you (or less bad, however you want to look at it) to consider:

1. Cry Baby Tears - This is the mother of extra sour candy, thus, the name. There are 5 intense flavors in a box. Cry Babies are one of my favorites, but they are not for everyone. 12 tears have 50 calories.

2. Sweetarts - If you love sour candy, but Cry Babies make you pucker up, try Sweetarts. They are tangy-tarty good. 10 pieces are 60 calories.

2. Premium Dark Chocolate - Eat chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. One ounce is heart-healthy because it contains antioxidants.

3. Atomic FireBalls - Have a hot cinnamon flavor. They are hard as a rock, so you can only eat one ball over a length of time by sucking on it as it dissolves slowly in your mouth. That one 20 calorie ball is packed with flavor.

4. Crystallized Ginger - Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. Just a few pieces, at 18 calories each, satisfy a yen with heat and intense flavor.

5. Candy Corn (and pumpkins) - are made from sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, fondant and marshmallows. Candy corn has zero fat and 8 calories a piece. It is a good choice because of how sweet it is. A little goes a long way. Candy pumpkins are double in size and calories.

Except for the chocolate, which has roughly 210 calories, the other candy listed is 60 calories or less per serving. Each is low in fat (except the chocolate), but high in flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth. Savor your treat!

Here is a fun website where you can find nostalgic candy by the decade. Do you have a favorite candy to recommend?

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

A 12 Inch Deep Skillet Has Many Uses

Circulon 12'' deep skillet
Let's play a game: If you could only buy one cooking pan, what type and size would it be?

My answer is in the title. Here's why. A 12 inch deep skillet (also known as a frying pan) is so versatile. I use it for just about everything. It's great for making omelets, stir frying vegetables, browning meat and sauteing sauces. 

A chef would probably raise an eyebrow, but I often cook spaghetti, or homemade soups in mine. It may not be proper, but the size and depth are perfect for one pan meals. Lots of ingredients fit in the skillet, and it is easy to stir the food around, or not -- when a meal just needs to simmer. There is enough room for two large portions of pasta to swim and not stick together. After cooking, I can serve dishes straight from the pan. Call me lazy, but it works. (Yes, I can hear you!)

If your skillet is oven-safe, you can even pop it into your stove to bake a meatloaf, casserole, salmon or cornbread.

Usually you end up not using many of the pans that come in a set. 

So if you only have space or a budget for one good pan, a 12 inch deep skillet is your best choice. [If you find an 11 inch pan, that works too, and is easier to store in smaller kitchens.] Whether you fry an egg, or whisk a hollandaise sauce, it's a real multi-tasker.

Later on you can add a 10 inch skillet (cast iron is useful; up to 10 inches is liftable) and a 6 inch skillet (to brown garlic), as well as, a 2 or 3 quart saucepan.

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