Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creations By Cara Sue: Memory Quilts and Pillowcases

Cara Sue turned a passion for sewing into a thriving business. She started making memory quilts out of old t-shirts and cherished pieces of clothing for friends and neighbors, who wanted to remember life's special events, or loved ones forever. Before she knew it, word grew.

Many of us have a collection of t-shirts from schools attended, races run, sports teams, or cities visited. Creations by Cara Sue turns them into something quite practical and meaningful, a memory quilt that will last for years to come.

Depending on customer choices and the t-shirts provided, the quilts take on many colors and styles ... from traditional to modern. They make very thoughtful birthday, anniversary and graduation gifts, not to mention, Christmas. Each is a customized keepsake that tells a story.

Cara Sue also makes personalized pillowcases with photographs, or artwork. You can see other examples of her work on her Facebook page here. Very affordable, her quilts and pillowcases look even lovelier in the flesh.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Dr. Frank Lipman's Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

On Sunday night I made a modified version of Dr. Frank Lipman's Blueberry Avocado Smoothie. I often have blueberries and an avocado. When they are on the verge of being too ripe, I can throw them into a blender to make this healthy and delicious drink. 

As Dr. Lipman, the integrative health and medical doctor, says,Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytochemicals, ” and “avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids," which are heart healthy. The vitamin B-6 and folic acid in avocados also supports the heart,” according to Dr. Lipman.

Since I like the taste of and don't have a problem digesting milk, I substituted a cup of skim milk in place of the coconut water, which I rarely buy. Likewise, if you ever find greens powder in my cupboard, you have entered the wrong apartment by mistake. I had frozen spinach on hand, so threw about 2 ounces of it into the mix to replace the greens powder I never stock. (Once I sampled prepared greens powder at a neighborhood health food store. Frankly, it had an awful taste like consuming liquefied grass or hay. I think my frozen (or fresh) spinach makes a more delicious smoothie!
Dr. Frank Lipman's Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

1 cup frozen blueberries
¼ avocado
1 cup coconut water (As mentioned I will usually substitute skim milk.)
juice of ½ lime
1 serving vanilla whey protein powder or non-dairy protein powder
1 serving greens powder (optional)
sweeten to taste with raw honey or stevia or xylitol (not xylitol! Many people can't digest that one.) 
4 ice cubes (Because my blueberries and spinach were frozen, I didn't need the ice. Eyeball it.)
My addition: a dash of ginger, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg and black pepper for a kick of favor, if you like. (I liked!)

Throw all ingredients into an electric blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy.

This is a refreshing smoothie for the dog days of August, when you don't feel like turning on a stove, yet still need nutrition and energy to sustain you. It's a high protein, slurpy drink, with anti-oxidants and fiber to satisfy your hunger. It tastes great ... bottoms up!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

End Of Summer Skin Care

As much as I try to protect my fair skin from the sun, it gets exposed to plenty of golden rays by virtue of being outdoors. Unless you are in the habit of hiding in the house, it's probably true of your epidermis too. 

So come fall, many of us have more freckles and brown spots, as well as, dryer skin in general.

As much as possible, I try to (1) prevent and (2) undo some of the wear and tear of summer with a few over-the-counter skin products in my arsenal, including:

1. Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Advanced Face Serum - It moisturizes and has anti-inflammatory properties. When temperatures are boiling outside, the serum calms and soothes the skin. Pricey, yes ... but, worth the splurge. I buy a bottle every year to use, starting in July until the bottle is empty.

2. Herbal Authority Double C (Vitamin C Serum) - I dab a few drops under my sunscreen and makeup each morning. Many skin care experts claim that a good vitamin C serum helps to shield your skin from sun damage, helps your skin produce new collegen, as well as, brightens frickles and brown spots caused by sun exposure. That's all good!

3. Olay Professional PROx Deep Wrinkle Treatment - I use it a few nights per week to encourage "youthful" cell turnover. Hey, can't hurt!

4. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum - On nights I don't use item #3, I alternate with Olay's Rigenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum. It contains concentrated amino-peptities to hydrate and brighten the skin and encourage cell turnover. Ditto, can't hurt!

5. Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15  - Nooo I don't work for Olay, but I do use many of the products in their excellent skin care line. They are budget friendly and readily available at a corner drugstore. So why pay more, when these affordable, good-quality-products work? I use Olay Complete on a clean face every morning before applying makeup. In summers I also use it as a non-sticky body sunscreen. I love one-stop-shopping personal care products! If I can get one multi-tasking product to do several jobs, I'm in!!

Just a final word about sunscreen overall. Skin doctors are mostly in agreement that the benefits of using a sunscreen far outweigh any side effects. So until the scientisfic evidence suggests otherwise, I apply it to exposed skin all year around. I sometimes leave my legs bare for 15-20 minutes a few times per week in order to get the recommended vitamin D doctors now say is vital to good health. Apparently, we are doing such a great job in wearing sunscreen, that many people have become vitamin D deficient. Oh, boy, it's always something!

Also if you read my blog  you already know ... in the best possible world, I adore organic products. I am very mindful of unnecessary chemicals when selecting food and personal care items. Nonetheless, everything in life is a balance: Costs verses science verses known benefits verses possible risks verses practicality. 

Knowledge is always influx. One can never fall asleep at the wheel. Aim to make the best choices within your budget based on the latest scientisfic data we have now. Save your money unless a claim is supported by a credible source. Filter scientific information with what your grandmother did for her skin. That's the best we can do. As Maya Angelou said, when we know better, we will do better. For sure!!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back To Uniqlo For Fashion And A Steal

I reviewed Uniqlo, the innovative Japanese clothing store for men, women and children several years ago. They are the place to go for inexpensive and ultra practical basics. I love my airism sleeveless tops in many colors. All year around I wear them as camisoles under my dresses, plus pair them with shorts and leggings.

Now Uniqlo has put the same technology into some of their dresses. I am wearing this flared feminine silhouette above for the late summer and early fall. For $29, I received a stylish, easy dress to wear. Called a flared bra dress, it has a built-in bra, is fully-lined and mostly cotton. All I need to add in order to leave the house are comfortable shoes and perhaps a cotton sweater as we move into September.

My only gripe can be applied to many retailers these days. When I walk into a department store lately, I wonder why there are so many racks of black, navy blue and muted colors. Is color passe? I didn't get the memo. It's not that I don't like these colors, but I don't want a closet full of only black dresses. I don't attend that many funerals. Where are the rest of the colors? Why aren't more designers creating collections in beautiful living colors?

Despite following the sans vibrate color trend, I definitely recommend browsing Uniqlo for bargains several times a year. So often, you find a useful steal  ... sold cheaper than you could buy the fabric and tools to make the garment yourself.

Your Fall Wardrobe: Shop For Value
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Save On Summer Essentials 
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

An Unexpected Stay At Lenox Hill Hospital

On Wednesday evening, I decided to see Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell perform at Lincoln Center Outdoors. Rodney was once part of Emmylou's Hot Band. The two have sang together for about 40 years. Finally here was my chance to hear them LIVE.

But the night didn't go as planned. Instead I was hit by a speeding bicycle as I crossed Central Park and ended up in Lenox Hill Hospital for several days.

Over the years, I've traveled that same path many times to get to the west side and was so stunned to be struck by a bicyclist. The road beyond the intersection was clear when I stepped off the curb. Out of nowhere came 2 or more bikers, peddling with all their might. They caught up with me fast and furiously, and I sensed the cyclist approaching me had no intention of slowing down. At that point there was nothing I could do.

After being hit, I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. It's amazing how a bike collision can injure a person. I received a nasty gash in the back of my head (the back of my head because I nearly made it across the road. Lord knows, I tried my very best to clear those high flying cyclists!) In the emergency room a doctor put some staples in my scalp. This next part sounds bad, but I am told by my neurosurgeon that I am very lucky ... considering. I have a concussion, some bleeding in the brain, a few head fractures and a broken arm, with some bruises on limbs and my hip, where I was knocked to the pavement. 

As it turns out, Lenox Hill Hospital has the best neosurgical team in New York City, and the doctors are taking excellent care of me. I was in intensive care for the first night. After three days, the hospital sent me home and told me to take it easy for a couple of weeks. Not hard to do as I am sleeping a lot.

Skilled doctors and nurses are so vital. The medical team took ex-rays and cat scans and told me they will watch me closely and believe that after some swelling goes down, I shouldn't have any lingering symptoms. My emergency room doctor will take the staples out of my head in about 10 days, and the neurosurgeon will take another cat scan next week to monitor my progress.

As mentioned, the 30-something-year-old-woman-cyclist who stuck me was very cold. I will never forget the icy, determined look in her eyes as she screamed, "Watch out! Watch out! Watch out! over and over again. She had plenty of time to slow down, or stop and didn't. I have driven a car for many years and know she is clearly in the wrong. There was no way I could have moved any faster. She should be forbidden to peddle a bike in New York City before she kills someone! If she plans to join your family by ... say ... marrying a brother, be sure to run away. Such a chilling, angry sense of entitlement will likely rear its ugly head again one day.

After I was injured, three Good Samaritans, 2 women and a man, helped me and called the ambulance. The man was a medical doctor, who told me that because my head received a hard blow, I had to go to the hospital to be examined thoroughly. It is foolish to simply go home after a head trauma, which someone might do, without knowing the danger. I heard the Good Samaritans explain exactly where we were in the park so the ambulance could find us, and the kind women helped stabilize me and tried to make me more comfortable. I will forever be grateful for the kindness of these three strangers.

I have a few kind friends and co-workers too. Thanks, Rhonda and Carl for getting me home from Lenox Hill Hospital and helping me get my medicine, as well as, Sarah for worrying about me and Clorinda for your basket of goodies. I didn't even know I was hungry and thirsty until Clorinda brought me treats and diet Ginger Ale from Fairway. Her visit lifted my spirits.

The world is a cold, unpredictable ... as well as, a lovely place. Accidents bring out the best and the worst in people. At such times, we become aware that, indeed, it does take a village. Random acts happen, and despite our best intentions, life can take a different direction.

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