Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Apple Watch 2015

Hand it over!
It is vital to keep up with technology even if you can't always afford to pay up.  

In a few weeks, Apple will launch their much anticipated Apple Watch. Starting at $350, I won't be buying one in the near future, but I'll definitely play with it on trips down to the Apple store.

Presently, I use a 2008 MacBook Pro, which could cough and die at any moment, so I am budgeting for the inevitable. Last year I bought an ipad mini to take on trips, so that is enough of a splurge for me right now.
All photos: Apple
Nevertheless, the availability of the new iwatch is super exciting! Not only can it tell time, it can pull up the weather; or maps; or your calender; or make phone calls; or send messages to the people in your network, as well as, keep track of your physical fitness. Perhaps, it's too much information, but the watch also lets you share your heartbeat with a second person, who can feel it on his iwatch! And, you'll be able to pay for coffee, groceries and other things with Apple Pay (an app) instead of pulling out a wallet.

 Oh yeah, the Apple Watch has apps! New technology makes navigating the apps on the watch's small face (i.e. screen) fast and fluid for the wearer. The device is somewhat intuitive. It detects motion when you raise your arm. The apps are designed to only require "lightweight interaction," letting you "make numble and precise adjustments." In sum, the watch and its apps are reported to be very user friendly.

The Apple Watch comes in a myriad of editions from 18k gold to aluminum and stainless steel. Some editions have metal bands, others have leather bands while still others have gel bands, and they come in a variety of band colors and fasteners.

The way we communicate with the world is changing once again. How futuristic to input, or call up important information; check email and connect with people on something as small as your watch! (Positively George Jetson-ish.) As Apple's Jony Ive, Senior VP of Design, says, their new watch is "technology designed to be worn and personal."

Why did I write about this new Apple watch? Now I want one! Don't you?

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lovely SAG Award Gowns 2015

Photos: Getty
The Screen Actor Guild Awards are taking place in Hollywood tonight. I took a glance at the red carpet arrivals and quickly selected three dresses I think are especially cute. Sophie Turner is wearing Osman, Julie Bowen has on Georges Hobeika and Camila Alves is wearing Donna Karan Atelier.

Do you have a favorite?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

German Rice Pudding

Photo by Juan Guaman - gopixpic.com
Brrr, it's cold outside.

As temperatures drop, I start to crave my Momma's comforting rice pudding. She makes it on a stove top, and it is relatively healthy. On cold hectic days, rice pudding makes a mighty fine, one pot dinner at my table! Here is my mother's recipe:

German Rice Pudding


4 cups milk (2% fat is creamy; whole milk and/or cream is creamier still! It will be thinner, but I sometimes use skim milk.)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste (If you can eat it with less sugar, more power to you!)
a sprinkle of sea salt
1 cup of white rice (Alternative: See directions for brown rice below.)
1 tablespoon vanilla, 0r scrape out a vanilla bean
sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg


1) Pour the milk, eggs and sugar into a large saucepan and beat thoroughly while the milk is cold. Add in the sea salt and dry white rice.

Directions for brown rice: It's a bit trickier. Although white rice makes a creamier pudding, I sometimes substitute brown rice to make the dish even healthier. Brown rice will be slightly chewy compared to white rice. I cook the brown rice according to the directions on the package first. (One cup of dry brown rice takes 30 minutes to cook, which is the amount I use.). After it's done, I pour in the cold milk, eggs and the rest of the ingredients, except for the vanilla, then proceed to step two below.  With brown rice at the end of the cooking time, I usually must add 2 tablespons of all-purpose flour to thicken it. Let it simmer another couple of minutes after adding the flour. With white rice, the starch from the rice alone thickens into a pudding.

2) Turn on the flame to bring the mixture to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Cook for about 14 minutes while stirring frequently with a spoon. (I lower the heat and put a lid on the pot, but watch it carefully. Every 3 minutes or so, I stir it with a whisk so the mixture doesn't stick or get lumpy.) Simmer and stir until the pudding thickens, and the rice is tender.

3) Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Extra tips: We like our rice pudding plain. It's about the vanilla! But you can add raisins, chopped nuts, dark chocolate shavings, or whatever you like. Some folks make the pudding without the eggs. But, my family likes the richness and extra protein that eggs give the pudding.

Serve German rice pudding warm along with your favorite fruit (peaches, pears, blueberries, strawberries) for balanced nutrition. Chill any leftover pudding in the refrigerator to eat the next day. It's tasty warm or cold.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Uniqlo's Heatteach Gear

Made with ultra fine fibers that have Camellia oil woven in for softness.
It is very cold in New York City right now. So I headed to Uniqlo to buy some Heattech long sleeve t-shirts for layering. The store is running a big blowout promotion on their entire Heattech line, therefore I picked up a lovely pair of knitted Heattech sapphire gloves too.

Uniqlo designs clothing, which lets men and women layer for warmth without bulking up. The pieces mix and match beautifully, creating a chic downtown vibe.

Their Heattech t-shirts are soft and static-free. The fabric generates and retains body heat, absorbs sweat and odor and keeps it's shape even after repeated washing.

They are perfect for layering whether you're on a ski slope, or running errands in a windy city where temperatures are plummeting. Great to take on trips!

Years ago, a good sale might have tempted me to overbuy. But not today! I purchased two Heattech t-shirts (at $9.90 each) and a single pair of Heattech gloves (at $7.90). Nowadays I tend to be an under buyer, and still wear less than 20% of what I own. How about you?

The Heattech t-shirt is a knitted-and-stretchy fabric. It runs small. So order a size up. 

There are several colors and neck styles. I bought crew necks in blue and purple to wear with black leggings and cardigans. I like adding a pop of color to neutrals.

The quality, style and prices are awesome!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Golden Globe Favorite Gowns 2015

The Golden Globes, the first of the major award shows, did not disappoint on glamour. Here are my two favorite dresses of the night. Dakota Johnson (left) is wearing a Chanel gown. Julianne Moore (right) has on a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci. (By the way, I would be astonished if JM didn't take home the Oscar in the best actress category in a few weeks.)

Coincidentally, both garments are silver. I love the simmer, the way the dresses drape their curves and fall to the ground. So very flattering.

Did you have a favorite?

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Jaclyn Smith's Anti-Aging Skin Care

Photo: Jaclyn Smith

Staying abreast of new skin care brands is smart. Not only is it good for your epidermis, it is good for your wallet.

Jaclyn Smith, with the help of medical researchers including her husband, Dr. Bradley Allen, developed her own high end products that she sells at K-Mart. Her skin care line, while not dirt cheap, is budget friendly. You will pay 3 to 4 times more for comparable products that are sold in luxe department stores. I love finding cheaper alternatives on good skin care. Since these products are used every day, the savings really add up!

What makes Jaclyn Smith's brand a contender is her serums and moisturizers contain lots of ani-aging properties. When shopping for remedies for your beauty routine be sure to look for four key anti-aging ingredients:

1) Antioxidants - Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, green tea.

2) Glycolic acid - a/k/a hydroxyacetic acid

3) Peptides

4) Retinols (over the counter) - or retinoids (prescription strength)  

Beauty experts agree that these four ingredients are top performers in slowing down the aging process by either preventing skin cell damage, speeding cell turnover or helping to rebuild collagen.

It's never too late to begin taking care of your skin. So the next time you are shopping at K-Mart, take a stroll down the personal care aisle to give the brand a browse. 

Finally, Jaclyn Smith's website gives useful tips on good skin care, as does THE SAVVY SHOPPER. Start with the links below, or enter "skin care" in the blog's search box.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Q&Q SmileSolar Watch

Photo: Inhibit.com
I go through a lot of watches, not because the watches stop ticking, but the bands wear out; and I find replacing a watch band to be inconvenient (where do you go to buy them?) and expensive, so I end up just buying a new watch. Therefore, I don't like to overspend (not a penny over 30 bucks) on a watch.

The next time this happens, I plan to buy a Q&Q SmileSolar watch. Batteries aren't cheap either, and the SmileSolar watch doesn't require a battery. It is powered by fluorescent light. Ten minutes of light charges the watch for 3.5 months, while 30 minutes will last for 11 months. Can't beat that!

Made by Citizen Japan, the watch comes in a variety of appealing face and band colors. Modern and stylish, right?

The timepiece is expertly crafted from eco-friendly materials, and the company donates a portion of the profits from the sale of each watch to Table For Two, an organization dedicated to providing meals for hungry children in Asia and Africa.

With glowing customer reviews, low maintenance and a fair price, meet my next new watch!

What color should I get?
Photo: vulcanpost.com

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Duck Dynasty, A Review

Recently I watched a few full episodes and clips of Duck Dynasty on YouTube. I have never, ever watched a reality television series (outside of the contest shows). I'm sure I would not care for most of the genre, but I find Duck Dynasty very entertaining. In short, the Robertson family is hugely likable, as portrayed.

The series features Phil and Miss Kay, their four adult sons, Alan, Jase, Willie and Jep, their daughters in-law, Lisa, Missy, Korie and Jessica, plus their grandchildren, employees and friends. Perhaps, the most popular family member is Phil's brother, Uncle Si, a Vietnam veteran, who is off-beat and crazy in a good-natured way. Uncle Si is quite the storyteller. He claims his "stories are 95% true." You gotta love him for it!

The show takes place in West Monroe, Louisiana. It revolves around a family-run business, Duck Commander, which makes a duck call for duck hunters. The Robertson men are avid hunters and known for their ZZ Top-like beards and their strong Christian values. (Oldest brother, Alan, is the exception. He shaves.)

But so far, these characteristics don't bother me as a viewer. As long as people are honest, transparent and tolerant, I can accept some differences.

Duck Dynasty seems less scripted and more positive than other reality TV shows are reported to be. There is no high drama, or negativity. Ribbing, yes, but no fighting between family members. How refreshing not to have a king-or-queen of mean in a series. Watching pettiness and bad behavior gets old fast!

Despite their redneck image, Phil and sons are actually college graduates, as are the daughters-in-law. And, they have other talents. Miss Kay cooks banquet-size meals. Jase's wife, Missy, has a lovely singing voice, and Willie and Korie's daughter, Sadie Robertson, with no prior dance experience, came in second place on Dancing With With Stars. Back in the day, grandpa Phil was recruited to play pro-football, however, he turned the chance down because duck hunting was his calling. That decision seems to have worked out.

I enjoy the humor and (dare I say) sincerity of the show. A critic might compare its realism to that of Ozzie And Harriet. Romanticised ... surely, but viewers are getting the essence of who the Robertsons are. 

The family sticks together, but are also altruistic and kind. They believe in giving back and helping a neighbor.

It's not featured on the show, but various family members have overcome adversity. None of them claims to be perfect. Phil was not always a model husband, and youngest son, Jep, had to find his way before he matured, but that's what fans like about the family. They are not saints, but come across as compassionate people trying to lead purposeful lives.

Although not a hunter, myself, I am OK with it on the show. In their environment, I understand why they do it. The Robertsons were money poor before Duck Commander made them wealthy, and they were brought up to kill what they eat. Even with money, it puts food on their table. Phil doesn't want his children and grandchildren to become as he puts it, yuppie boys and girls.

The Robertsons like to laugh at themselves, and television viewers like them for it. The show is fun, down home and charming. It's also a top rated series on the E-Network.

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