Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Savvy Shopper Will Take A Short Break

I'm doing something I haven't done since I began THE SAVVY SHOPPER over five years ago. Step away from blogging and social media ... for one week, or more. I imagine it will be hard to do. So I'm declaring it publically. No sneaking back on here to write or post anything!

As much as I adore everything the web offers, I'm glad I was out of school before it came into common use because the internet eats up lots of time! Before it, I read more books. I had lenghty phone conversations with friends, and it seems like I had more patience. (Patience for stories that take longer than 30 seconds!)

Just like we did ... not so long ago, I'm going to spend an entire week talking face-to-face with immediate/imminent people ... family, friends, the guy at the supermarket, the mailman and anyone ... when there's a reason.

Don't get me wrong, I'd never want to go back in time, permanently, but it's important not to lose what we had before the internet came along. Time to think and reflect and to live in the present. Time to pause and time to tinker.

While unplugged, I may read a big fat book also. Any suggestions?

Have fun while I'm away. See you soon.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Songs Of Yesteryear

Black Velvet 

Think back in time to a hot August night, when one song seemed to dominate the airwaves. Every time you turned on the radio, the song played in heavy rotation. Whether you went to a shopping mall, ate dinner at a restaurant or met friends at a favorite watering hole, you heard the song. It played so much, the song triggers your memories of the day and how you spent the summer. Perhaps you grew up with classic rock radio, so the song could be from any decade. Or, the song you heard time and again could be off a CD or cassette that a relative or friend played endlessly in the car while on a road trip with you as their hostage ... um passenger. 

Here are a few flashbacks to get the discussion going. (Songs not uploaded, have links; just click to play them.)

1. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor - will always remind me of being let loose in Washington, DC and exploring all that DC, Georgetown and the surrounding area have to offer: art, music, history and amazing food with adventurous, fun-loving partners-in-crime. It was my first trip to Washington, DC. Not that I'm a lush now, but I didn't drink then. 

"Tiger! tiger! buring bright ... In the forest of the night, ...When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee?"

2. Black Velvet (top video) - Alannah Myles - a gorgeous, bluesy tune from a Canadian singer-songwriter with a smokin' voice. Reminds me of weekends spent in Manhattan's East Village over a hot, muggy summer. By the way, Ms. Myles captures the appeal of a hot Southern night, as well as, the slow Southern style to a "t."

3. The Final Countdown - Europe - Bender put the song on a list of "Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever," and I agree. Eurotrash, perhaps? Plus, over the top fun! Another summer with friends checking out the downtown club scene.

4. Superstition - Stevie Wonder - M-o-t-o-w-n, enough said. Last summer (2013) Stevie performed it in Central Park. Envision a dark night, the park lights, a cool breeze ... and families dancing to the beat on the Great Lawn.

5. Magic Man - Heart - I heard Ann and Nancy Wilson sing this for the first time on FM radio in my parents' living room (where I spent many hours over a summer break). And, I took note: Girls sounding heavy metal! They were captivating. Decades later, they were asked to perform Stairway To Heaven for Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors (2012). Imagine the pressure to sing such a signiture song! Ann's voice has gotten deeper (as has Robert Plant's), but with her power cords, Jason Bonham's drums, a capable guitarist and two backing choirs, she pulls it off to great excitement! And if you listen very hard, Ann hits all the notes.

6. Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles - Bless classic rock radio where 80s songs never die.
7. The Weight - The Band - My Dad introduced me to The Band, a blend of rock, country and blues. I wonder what summer memories the song held for him? In this Martin Scorsese directed rendition, the Staple Family interject gospel and soul.

8. Space Oddity - David Bowie - My cousin was obsessed with David Bowie (because um ... boys); consequently, I heard this song a lot over a summer. To this day, my Coz is a huge Bowie fan. So I believe his children also know it, note-for-note.

9. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr. - Remember the movie and later its sequel? The song was popular all summer long. The films are still delightful to watch:

Bill Murray : "I didn't choose anything! ... Did you! ... Did you!"
Harold Ramis: "LOOOK! ... R-a-y, what did you do?"
Dan Aykroyd: "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."


10. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson - I worked at MTV for awhile, and at every big company party I attended, you could always count on two things: 1) hearing this song and; 2) being served all the sushi you could eat. The song also reminds me of those summer breaks spent listening to FM radio in my parents' living room.

11. Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye (featuring Kimbra) - An indie pop ballad that's been going strong for several summers. The mega hit continues to play on the radio, in stores and at parties.
12. Counting Stars - One Republic - Catchy tune from the band's 2013 album. I'm hearing it plenty this summer. I love when a man sings a few high notes. [The best example of a true falsetto is A-Hah's classic, Take On MeA listener waits for that high note. By the way, isn't A-Hah a chiseled-cheekbone-blessed band?]

When compiling song lists, you inevitably leave off so many possibilities ... like huge hits from the catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and rock and roll greats. Each could comprise a solo list. Lynyrd Skynard's Freebird is another candidate.

But now it's your turn: What are your songs of summer?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Door-To-Door Salesmen ... Nearly All Men

Photo: Tim Bradley (Getty Images)
When I was a child about ten years old, or younger (not so much later on) we had vendors who came to the house to sell their goods. We got to know our egg mana farmer with grey hair and glasses, who owned land outside the city limits. He sold us eggs for several years, and if he came at the right time, sometimes had a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch with us. Sadly, he died in a farm accident. His tractor flipped over as he plowed his fields, crushing him. I was a sensitive city child, so the news haunted me. Still does!

Another hard working farmer, who's name I never knew, didn't actually go door-to-door, he walked the neighborhood, shouting, "Strawberries, strawberries, strawberry man!"

Joe was our potato chip man. Mentally slow, he was friendly, a gentle soul with lovely manners. When we answered our front door even on the hottest day, he was dressed in a suit and tie and said, "Hello, Mrs. (or Mr.) Turner, it's the potato chip man." We offered him cold drinks in the summer. Joe lived in a men's rooming house and supplemented a modest retirement check (of some kind?) by visiting our block once a week ... always on foot, carrying shopping bags full of potato chips. When I think about him, it's with great admiration.

We also had a Fuller Brush manwho went door-to-door, selling household cleaning products, as well as, the tools needed to get rid of grime. And just like in so many American communities, we had an Avon lady. Mrs. McBay.

There are baby pictures of my cousins and I ... because one afternoon my Aunt Ursula, while at home minding us, got a knock on the door from a door-to-door family photographer. He spent the next hour, or so in her living room setting up lights and snapping pictures of us, together and separately. (We were 18 mos, 3 1/2 years and 5 years old.) Wow, can you imagine! It was a more innocent era.

All these people were so darn nice, you didn't have the heart to turn them away, so we tried to help them out by buying their goods and services when we could.

What a blessing to live in such a safe world back in the day. Fortunately, these small-time entrepreneurs were, indeed, nice people, most with families to support, who were just trying to make an honest living. Ordinary, dignified, hard workers from bygone days. The neighborhood was kind to them, and they were kind to the neighborhood.

Times change. You don't have to be a sociologist to know nobody could be a door-to-door sales person in the same way today. With good reason, we don't trust people we barely know, and often they don't become part of the milieu of a neighborhood. Too often good will doesn't run both ways. But once upon a time in my old neighborhood, it did.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Smokeless LotusGrill For Healthy Grilling

Many people enjoy an outdoor summer barbecue, but are worried about the cancer risks of eating hydrocarbons, which are chemicals that form on meat (beef, pork, chicken, as well as, on fish) when it is grilled over an open flame. As fat from the meat drips into the open fire, it forms hydrocarbons (PAHs for short). PAHs then rise with the fire to engulf and stick on the surface of the meat.

The portable LotusGrill is designed to fix the problem of chemicals forming and then returning to the meat as it cooks. 

Here's how: The LotusGrill confines charcoal to a covered inside chamber. Grease drips into an inner bowl, but avoids the charcoal, thereby no flames are produced. The result is healthy grilled meat minus the cancer causing hydrocarbons.

At $250, it's pricy, but a no-brainer if you are in the habit of barbecuing. Healthy grilled meat every time. It is better to pay the piper than the Grim Reaper.

Personally, I eat side salads, a variety of fruits and vegetables and many meatless meals. I make a real effort to plan nutrious meatless dinners. However, I haven't been able to give up meat entirely. Nothing satisfies my hearty appetite like a big juicy steak, sirlon burger or pork chops. With potatoes they are stick-to-your-ribs delicious!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Trendy Body Chains ... And An Everly Brothers Tribute

Oh, look what's trending now. Just as I'm wearing less jewelry, models and A-listers are sporting more. According to TotalBeauty.com, body chains are being spotted on high fashion runways, plus celebs are sunbathing decked out in chains on the world's most exclusive beaches. Really?

I like the look, sort of, but probably won't follow it, because I don't want to get all tangled up in hardware. Common sense points to the possibility that dressing could get complicated. There's a reason I don't commit crimes. With chains criss-crossing my torso, I might feel like a prisoner.

My favorite (of the above examples) is the chain dangling off the heels. Hmm, I wonder if it makes an annoying sound as you walk? There's a reason jails put heavy metal on an inmate's feet when he leaves his cell. I'd rather not announce I'm walking across the floor. But who knows, maybe that's one of the effects a chain fashionista desires?: "Here I come world!"

A dazzling look for the rich and famous, but how practical for main street? Are you the type of gal or guy who will try a body chain? If so, what do you like about the trend?

Meanwhile ... enjoy a catchy tune about chains from our favorite duo. 

Some exciting news: A special tribute concert for the Everly Brothers will take place on October 25th at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. According to the Associated Press, the list of performers are being finalized, and Don Everly will come out of retirement to make an appearance. (Thank you, Angie for the article!!!)

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Shredded Brussels Sprout Becames Shredded Cabbage Salad

Photo: What's Gabby Cooking
Summers are for light, easy fare. Doesn't this shredded brussels sprout salad look mouthwatering? I love avocados and different textures in a dish. The recipe was created by "What's Gabby Cooking." It came to me via Facebook. However, I have simplified a step by substituting a 14 oz bag of classic coleslaw for the shredded brussels sprout. Frankly, I wouldn't have the patience to shred little heads of brussels sprout. Tedious! Cabbage and brussels sprout are in the same family and have the same crunch and health benefits (namely vitamin C and fiber). A bag of shredded cabbage is inexpensive, and there's some vitamin A from shredded carrots.

Here's my tweaked-lazy-chef recipe:

For the salad

14 oz bag coleslaw
½ cup dried cranberries
1 ripe avocado, cubed
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

For The Lemon Vinaigrette dressing


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Dump the salad ingredients into a big serving bowl.
2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle on the salad. Toss and eat!

Know that I substitute cider vinegar in place of lemon juice often. I can also see adding a can of beans, or cubed soy, or chicken for more protein, depending on the rest of your dinner. Leftovers become a healthy snack you keep in the refrigerator. 

Finally, here's a link to watch Gabby making her salad her way. All versions, delish! (Books on salad here.)

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gorgeous Sunglasses At Old Navy

Often I'm pleasantly surprised by the cute clothes and accessories available at Old Navy. This summer I'm wearing three of Old Navy's adorable, cotton dresses. Each is machine washable and $15 on sale. Look for a promotion. They run frequently.

Another find is a soft cotton scarf, which I like to fold up to carry in a purse, then pull it out to use as a shawl in order to protect my bare arms and shoulders from the damaging heat of the sun, or Arctic cold of an air conditioner. I paid $9 for my pretty textured-and-smooth scarf, then walked across the street to see a similar Eileen Fisher scarf selling for $138. There wasn't a significant, deal-breaker-difference in quality. The comparison was a real eye-opener. Perhaps, that's when I became an Old Navy fan.

In addition to the summer dresses, I bought active wear yoga pants, leggings and just this weekend, a gorgeous pair of sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. The price points are always fabulously cheap. Using a 20% store wide discount, I paid about $12. What a steal! They are light-weight, sturdy, an excellent fit and ultra stylish. Already, I've gotten compliments!

At Saks Fifth Avenue, I tried on a pair of Chanel sunglasses. The cost? A cool $550. I didn't buy 'em, but let me tell you, I looked gooood in those shades! These Old Navy sunglasses remind me of the Chanel style. (They also remind me of Tom Ford's current sunglasses.) Unlike the scarves comparison, the Old Navy sunglasses don't quite measure up to Chanel, but they are durable and look expensive. The O.N. store selection is huge. 

Everyone is different. Personally, when I think of where to splurge, it isn't going to be on sunglasses. A sharp kitchen knife, bed pillows, comfortable shoes, an education ... yes, yes, yes and yes. Travel ... maybe. Sunglasses, no. However, never buy a pair without sun protection for your eyes.

For the price, you can splurge by buying a few pairs from Old Navy. If you break or leave them in a restaurant, it will hurt less. Plus, you can change your sunglasses like you change shoes and outfits. It's well worth a trip and a browse.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Commemorating The 4th Of July

After five years along the Hudson, Macy's fireworks are returning to the East River this year. Manhattan's east siders will be happy to have the view. The fireworks do, indeed, illuminate the sky and reflect off the water just like in this photo.

How extra nice when the 4th of July falls on a Friday, making it a festive and relaxing 3-day holiday.

A slice of ice cream cake is especially appetizing on a hot summer night. (Recipe here, though why not just use quarts of ice cream?)

Truthfully, I favor dramas, however my favorite musical of all time is about the birth of our nation. Also, I rarely view plays or films over and over. There are too many new ones to see, but I can watch this one every year. Below is a favorite scene from the movie. I enjoy the humor, the four actors who play John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock; and I love the moving freeze-frame ending of the film, where the Founding Fathers dissolve into history. A real painting of the scene hangs in the U.S. Capitol. As a congressional intern, I often walked over to look at it. (Not the exact, but a similar painting.)
Enjoy Independence Day. Let freedom ring, not just here in America ... but all over the world. What a privilege (and responsibility), it is to live in a free, democratic society. For one thing, I can say anything I want on here and with the tap of a key publish it.

Long live the USA!🗽

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