Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stylin' In Crocs


Crocs Mammoth Lined Flats
Crocs rock! Recently I began wearing their Mammoth velvet lined ballet flats to walk on New York City's pavement. They are cute and supportive while running errands on concrete. Wow! Usually, you only get such comfort in a well constructed, full grain leather shoe.

However, Crocs really knows what it's doing with footwear. A molded Croslite™ material lets your feet breathe, giving you cushioned, lightweight bounce. My high arches have structure, and my toes have enough room in the toe bed.

Crocs Super Molded Iridescent Flat

The bottom soles are skid resistant, and the inside soft lining is anti-bacterial, so I wear them without socks. Not all of the styles have the velvety lining, but they are all designed and treated to wear sockless.

The Mammoth classic rounded toe, ballet flat weighs a mere 4 ounces. That's how lightweight all of the Croc styles are. Ounces not pounds.


Never a Crocs shoe fan until now, I found my pair at TJ Maxx for half price, $14.99, but even at full price, they are a good deal. Perfect to wear in the rain too.

Crocs Huarache Sandal Wedge

Today I am featuring the pinks, a fun color ... because summer isn't over until we say it's over! Long known for their comfort, now Crocs are stylin'!! Click here for men or women to explore other charming styles.
Crocs Kadee


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crystal Body Deordorant Stick, A Review

Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my desire to find a natural, or better yet, organic underarm deodorant to replace the commercial ones I normally use.

Puritan's Pride sells one, Crystal Body Deodorant Stick. So I tested it during a week of 90 degree days to verify its effectiveness. Call me either brave or crazy, but here's the verdict: It works!

Upon using it, the deodorant stick feels unlike Secret or Degree. It's not as moist, which isn't a negative, just different. I feel dry, not clammy or wet. 

The Crystal Deodorant Stick isn't perfumey, it's odorless. But more importantly, so am I. No b.o. during periods of activity and running around in the boiling heat. I asked everyone around me to be on the alert to tell me what I need to know, and believe me, they would say something, thankfully. Not a negative either ... because who would not want to know?

So, a natural deodorant stick with no harmful chemicals works! The active ingredient is potassium alum (i.e. a natural mineral salt) which creates a protective barrier against odor-causing bacteria.

I also love that it's a rock stick. It isn't a cream that must be smeared on, nor a liquid that takes a minute to dry. The directions say to wet the crystal, but I don't even do that. I keep it within reach of stepping out of the shower and apply it to damp armpits, making using it as convenient as the commercial anti-perspirants. 

By the way, the Crystal Stick is sold to prevent odor, not to stop perspiration, but it seems to do both. So it's a keeper! (This review is up on Puritan's Pride's website too, along with my 5 star rating as a helpful guide for other consumers.)

Finally, it doesn't stain your clothes, nor leave a white residue. Men and Women can use the original formula, though there is a Crystal Stick especially for men. The 4.25 ounce size lasts a long, long time.

Someone had to test the natural deodorant in the summer heat. You're welcome!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reformation Boutique


"When I see thousands of the same dress on a rack -- it doesn't matter how beautiful it is -- I don't want it," says Yael Afalo, the founder of Reformation, a clothing store that caters to urban It girls. With boutiques in Manhattan and LA, celebrity clients include Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and Rihanna.

Truthfully, I don't share Ms. Afalo's sentiment. If an outfit is well-made and cute, I don't care if the whole world is wearing it, but then again, I wore a school uniform in my formative years. Sooo, such things don't faze me.

Reformation became famous for its one-of-a-kind party dresses. Later on, the shop added short dresses, jumpsuits, tops and trousers -- all of it, very wearable, chic and environmentally sustainable. The company only uses eco-friendly fabrics and practices.

If you are the type of woman who likes to turn heads, Reformation has the inventory for you. The retailer specializes in long, slim dresses with flowing material. Also, vintage pieces are remade into gorgeous modern ensembles.

The brand is exclusive because clothing is made in limited quantities, only 40 pieces per style, according to the founder (as reported by The New York Times). A large design team has a quick turnaround -- small batches of new styles come out every 2-5 weeks; and garments sell out likedly-split-fast.

The cheaper end dresses range from $78 - $98, while the party dresses run from $160 - $350.

The Lower East Side shop is fabulous fun to visit. The sales associates, while friendly and helpful, leave you alone to browse. It's a must stop on your Manhattan to-do list. There is also free worldwide shipping if ordering online.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Maangchi's Homemade Kimchi



Forgive me if I brag a little. This city gal just made kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage, which is the national dish of Korea. Korean food was new to me when I moved to New York City, but I took to it like a duck to water. The variety of tastes and textures make it one of my favorite cuisines. The food often includes all 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Many dishes are fermented. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! If you find yourself in Manhattan, the Korean restaurants are on the side streets that surround Macy's Department store at Herald Square.

Consider that approximately 7 pounds of bacteria (100 trillion) live in your intestines, helping you to digest your food. According to medical studies, fermented food is super healthy for us, providing our digestive tracts with good bacteria and offsetting bad bacteria, so we should eat fermented food regularly. Kimchi is a delicious way to do it!

I learned how to make kimchi by watching a wonderful teacher, the Korean cook, Maangchi's YouTube videos. Not only is she a good teacher, she is funny! Maangchi shows us how to make kimchi three ways. I recommend watching all three videos to understand the process, then perhaps starting with the fastest way, her emergency kimchi.
Striving for an authentic batch, I ordered Korean red pepper flakes and fish sauce from Amazon. I also let my kimchi ferment for several days at room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator, unlike Maangchi who eats hers right away in the video. I know from watching her easy kimchi and traditional kimchi videos that letting it ferment for days makes sense. And if you wonder, flavoring the cabbage with fish sauce doesn't give it a heavy fishy taste. After fermentation, the dish marinates into a uniquely kimchi taste.

I'm surprised at how easy kimchi is to make. In a supermarket a tiny jar costs $6+. When making kimchi at home, you get a huge batch of spicy, pickled deliciousness with one head of cabbage.

Extra tips:

1. On my second try, I made a bigger batch of emergency kimchi, using a huge head of cabbage and adding: Daikon radish, a whole diced onion and a diced ripe pear (to the original recipe). I think Maangchi would approve.

2. I added 1/2 cup of dried anchovies to one of my jars, which gives the kimchi protein and calcium. It tastes fine, but eating it freaks me out a bit. Staring at the tiny silver fish, who stare back at me! Never again!! (Why do I have a bag of dried anchovies? Well ... on a visit to a Japanese grocery store, I got carried away [as many Japanese were buying them. Monkey see, monkey do. :)]  As it turns out, I don't like them in miso soup either. Some people pop dried anchovies into their mouths as a snack, but unlike a potato chip, they have tiny heads and tails, so honestly I don't know what to do with them. Perhaps this?) But, I digress.

3. When canning, pack the kimchi tightly into the jar:
(a) Press the air out, but leave a tiny space at the top. As it ferments, the kimchi releases gas and liquid, which runs down the jar if you fill it to the very top. 
(b) Also be sure to spoon a little juice on top to help with fermentation. In other words, a jar of packed kimchi should be dry-ish, yet mixed, then topped with the paste. And note, as the kimchi ferments it gets juicier.

4. One big head of cabbage makes three 32 ounce jars, plus one 24 ounce jar (total: 15 cups) of kimchi. As a beginner, you can use a jar to sample: Open and taste it until the kimchi is as sour as you like before refigerating the jars. You can pack it all into a single large container, if you wish. The 32 ounce glass jars are easy for me to store in my refrigerator.

Maangchi likes to eat kimchi with rice. Next I'll make her easy kimchi, then her kimchi and fried rice. She makes Korean cooking look easy. Bon Appetit! ... 잘 먹겠습니다

Update: She published a book of her recipes: Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Olive And Piper Glitter

Photo: The Talk
If you follow THE SAVVY SHOPPER, you know I like glitter: Diamonds, crystals and rhinestones, oh my! Yes, yes and yes!! Olive And Piper makes owning a bit of shimmer very affordable. The Lucy Crystal Collar above might be my favorite necklace in the collection.
The Crystal Line Earrings are very glamorous. A budget-friendly splurge that looks rich! I can see a bride selecting either piece to wear with her wedding gown. First of all they are lovely, and if she loses a stone or earring during the festivities, her special day is not spoiled.


Moreover, if you're looking for statement, or trendy jewelry, Olive And Piper designs that too. It's fashion jewelry that includes: necklaces, bracelets, watches, earrings and rings ... from delicate to chunky and everything in-between. Allow me to sum up the style in one word ... pretty!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Oven, Stove And Dishwasher

A British retailer, named Candy, sells an all-in-one oven, stove and dishwasher. I am drooling over it! How perfect for a London flat, or New York City apartment! Or any small urban kitchen. The dimensions are: 86.3 cm by 59.7 cm by 60.0 cm. 

Customers say it's more expensive than a regular dishwasher or stove, but you're paying for the space saving aspect of it. (Anytime there's only one manufacturer an item often costs more because there are no competitors, nor mass production to lower prices.) 

A buyer also makes some compromises in buying combo appliances. They serve their purpose, but may have some limitations compared to their stand-alone-siblings. Perhaps they are less powerful, but as long as they work reasonable well, a person who lives in a tiny space usually accepts the trade offs.

A final consideration: When you buy combo appliances and one function breaks down, you are left with a dilemma. If the dishwasher can't be repaired, do you keep the unit to use the oven-stove, or do you get rid of the unit because one part is useless? Since it isn't sold in the US, I don't have to decide. 

Nonetheless, if you really want a dishwasher, but don't have the space, this triple combination gadget is available in the UK.

Why not invent a kitchen sink-dishwasher unit? Stack 'em up!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

End Of Season Dress Sales

Nordstrom: Eliza J Illusion Yoke Lace Dress
I wear nothing but dresses all summer long. Dresses are easy and stylish, and they sure beat the heat. Plus, I can avoid those pesky wardrobe changes since a dress goes from work to play, effortlessly.

Unfortunately, this summer I had to retire a few favorite dresses. After years of wear, holes appeared under the arms of a Sarah Jessica Parker designed dress. A red-and-white shift dress had a rip that couldn't be repaired, and a few other dresses were wearing thin. 

So when the July dress sales began, I jumped on the opportunity to search for bargains. Why pay more when dresses are discounted up to 70% off?

Here are a few retailers who offer a wide selection of adorable summer dresses at budget friendly prices. Independently featured in previous posts, each is running deep dress discounts right now:
London Times

1) 6pm.com - This is Zappos' sister company, so expect the same excellent customer service. When merchandise arrives at 6PM, prices are already slashed. You will find famous dressmakers like Ralph Lauren, Vince Camuto and Kate Spade, as well as, a chic new find like London Times. The variety of 6PM's dress stock rivals a big city department store ... but costs much less!

2) Old Navy - You can buy a dress online and in-stores for 20 bucks or less. Look for ongoing promotions and rock bottom sales. I'm a huge Old Navy fan, despite knowing that their dresses are either hit or miss. At times the waist is too high or the length too short; but often the fit is perfect! O.N.'s online site offers free returns, making shopping risk free. When you strike gold at Old Navy, you can score a dress that is cute, comfortable and versatile. 

3) Uniqlo - The innovated Japanese design never ends! Soft, comfortable, machine-wash-and-tumble-dry dresses. A few with UV sun protection! Beautiful lines. Airism fabric keeps you dry when temperatures are boiling. Much of the inventory is under $30, which is a steal!

4) Nordstrom - You won't find cheap dresses here, so savvy shoppers wait for the end of season sales. If you need one or two elegant dresses for the occasional upscale shindig, this is the place to look.

5) Amazon -  Shopping before Amazon ... there is no going back! You have access to 100s of merchants miles away. Amazon is like fashion central, so your search for a stylish dress may start and end there. The website offers free returns on clothes. If you have a Discover card, you can pay for your Amazon purchases with you cash back bonus dollars!

Now is the time to shop for a new dress without breaking the bank.
Donna Moran V-Neck, Eyelet Dress


Monday, August 3, 2015

Skillet Chili Con Carne


Chili Con Carne is Spanish meaning chili with meat

On Sunday, I wondered what to do with two fresh jalapeño peppers and 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef? So I decided to make a quick one-skillet summer meal, with the thought of having leftovers to eat during the week. It was delicious!

Nothing tastes better than fresh, unprocessed, food spiced just right.

The recipe is also very forgiving. Use what you have in your kitchen. You can brown either ground beef, or cubes of lean, solid beef. You can use either a can of whole tomatoes (as I did); or a can of crushed tomatoes; or roasted, puréed, fresh tomatoes; or diced fresh tomatoes that are thrown into the skillet to cook after browning your meat, onions and jalapeño peppers. If you have a bell pepper of any color, or celery  -- add them to the skillet. If you don't have either, skip it. 

Here is my recipe:

Skillet Chili Con Carne

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or cubes of lean beef)
1 large onion, diced
jalapeño peppers, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced (I used red.)
2 stalks celery
Seasoning to taste -- I added:
1 tablespoon dried garlic (or fresh garlic)
a sprinkle of dried onion
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (or fresh cilantro if you have it)
a shake of dried celery
1 teaspoon oregano
a tiny sprinkle of cumin (I don't like a lot. It's a strong spice.)
1 bay leaf
1 large any flavor bouillon (or 2 small bouillons) -- If you don't have bouillon, add a teaspoon of salt. (Usually bouillon is salty.)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
fresh black pepper
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
1 15 ounce can of kidney beans

Optional shortcut: You can add an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, but it isn't necessary. Sometimes I add it to thicken the chili, but if you simmer the pot longer you will get nearly the same consistency. 

Directions:

1. Toss the ground beef (or beef cubes) into a 12'' skillet on a stove top over a medium heat. If using ground beef, break it up into pieces.
2. While browning the meat, add the diced onions, jalapeño peppers, bell pepper and celery. Let cook until done. (If using fresh garlic, dice and throw it into the pan late, so it doesn't burn.) Stir occasionally to brown evenly. I used lean meat, so after cooking my meat was dry. No draining was necessary. But pour out the fat, if necessary.
3. Next add the tomatoes, kidney beans and seasonings to the skillet.
4. Simmer on low heat for abut 30 minutes.

Serve the chili with a mixed green salad and rice if you wish. Sometimes I serve it with a pan of cornbread. To the basic recipe I chop 2 jalapeño peppers, a small onion and a handful of garlic cloves, plus add a cup of whole corn kernels. Throw the tasty extra ingredients into the batter.

Since I had fresh corn-on-the cob that was my starch. Here's a no-fuss method for preparing it:

1. Microwave the corn-on-the-cob inside its husk for 4 1/2 minutes. It will turn out tender and perfect!
2) After cooking, wait a beat to let the ear of corn cool slightly, before removing the husk and silk to eat. It slides right off.

A simple and balanced summer dinner. The leftover chili will taste amazing too. Bon appétit!



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