Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Do We Need Sunless Tanners?

Is one shade more attractive?
Admittedly, I have tried sunless tanners in summers past, but now I just think why bother. Do we really look better tanned, much less fake tanned? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the idea of beauty changes with the times.

I was told that before the 1950s, people took measures not to tan. To stay pale, they used hats, shawls and parasols. If you were tan, it was a sign that you had to work out in the fields and were not of the leisure class.

As city life replaced farms and people acquired office jobs, getting a tan meant you could afford to travel ... taking your family on a nice sunny vacation. So thereafter, a tan meant you had the money to enjoy leisure time.

Now we know the golden glow of a tan is actually skin damage. In producing a tan, the skin is trying to shield itself from the sun's ultraviolet light (i.e. radiation). Far from being healthy, years of tanning in the sun can lead to skin cancer, not to mention wrinkles, age spots and sagging skin.

So you might think, well that's reason enough to turn to sunless tanners. And yes, it's better than baking in the sun, but now that we know how unwise tanning is, why is a tan still a standard of beauty?

Lately I don't think it is. Plus, the fewer chemicals I have to slather on my body, the better. If I don't need a sunless tanner, I'm not using it. Time and money saved! Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all? Is it ... me??? Well baby, I was born this way.

Are you a fan of self tanners?
These cartoon sunbathers are setting a bad example. :)

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kate Middleton's Tangle Angel Brush

The Duchess of Cambridge, a/k/a, Kate Middleton gets lots of love from THE SAVVY SHOPPER. Ever wonder what tools her hairstylist uses to create her sleek and shinny locks of hair? When you live in a castle and have access to London's best, there are bound to be a few products and tools (not to mention hands) involved. 

One tool is an affordable hair brush designed by her hairstylist, Richard Ward, called the Shine Angel. In fact, there are a series of Tangle Angel brushes: the Shine Angel, Tangle Angel and Cherub Angel.

The brush's purpose is to detangle the hair, either wet or dry without damaging the strands. The Tangle Angel brushes are perfect for Kate's "Chelsea" style of hair blowouts. The brush's bristles are real, flat and infused with (anti-bacterial and) anti-static properties to tame and smooth flyaways for a silky finish. The brush is suitable for all hair textures; and the Tangle Angel Cherub brush is small enough to tot inside a purse, or gym bag. So you never have to be without one.

Here's a video to show you how to get the signature shine, movement and bounce of Kate's Chelsea blow dry. Ooh, I'll take the brush and a stylist, please!

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Monday, July 18, 2016

My Homemade Coleslaw

After you become accustomed to nutritious, unprocessed food, old unhealthy standbys no longer cut it, a fact that struck me again at a recent cookout. One bite of sugary Coleslaw swimming in a river of mayonnaise drove the point home.

On the other hand, my homemade Coleslaw is healthy, crunchy and easy-breezy to make. Keep some in your refrigerator to eat as a snack too. I take a lazy shortcut by buying a bag (cost: 99 cents) of already shredded Coleslaw from the supermaket, rather than shredding a head of cabbage:

Homemade Coleslaw 


14 ounces (or 16 ounces if you can still get it) bag of shredded Coleslaw
1 carrot, shredded (or sliced thin)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of cider vinegar (or your favorite vinegar: balsamic, red wine, rice, etc.)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a dash of sesame sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt (or use a seasoned salt)
12 turns of the pepper mill (= 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
a sprinkle of ground dried celery
1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
a sprinkle of rosemary
a sprinkle of parsley


Combine all the ingredients together in a big bowl. Mix thoroughly. Eat immediately and refrigerate the rest for later.

Extra tips: 

1) Turn the Coleslaw into a light summer meal by cooking 1-2 dried cups of quinoa (which is a complete protein grain) in bouillon and water on a stove top until tender. Once done, mix the quinoa and Coleslaw together. Likewise, you could add leftover chicken to turn a salad into a light meal without the fuss. 

2) To make a classic creamy Coleslaw, add 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise; or sour cream; or blue cheese salad dressing. (Low fat mayonnaise works, but know that non-fat  mayonnaise is tasteless.)  On a picnic, store the creamy ingredient in a small container and mix it in the slaw right before serving.

Bon appétit!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DIY White Fluffy Shaving Cream

I'm on an essential oils kick! Making your own beauty and grooming products has a myriad of benefits. You: 1) know exactly what goes into them; 2) use the best ingredients cheaply; 3) can customize the products to the likes and special needs of the recipient; 4) develop a sense of self sufficiency; 5) learn how easy it is to make your own; and 6) can avoid putting harmful chemicals on your face and body.

Many men shave every morning, so here is a grooming product just for them. But hey, a woman can borrow it to shave her legs if she makes it for him! Look how simple it is to make a rich, fluffy, shaving cream:

White Fluffy Shaving Cream


2/3 cup Shea butter
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons olive oil (or any carrier oil: grapeseed, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil. All are terrific. Olive oil is cheaper.)
More photo and razor info:  link here
These top ingredients are all you really need, but the following ingredients improve the cream.
1 tablespoon baking soda (Refines the texture.)
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E (It preserves the shaving cream.)
20 drops of a favorite smelling essential oil, or a combination of essential oils. (For scent and skin conditioning benefits.) Examples: Clary sage and citronella; lavender and peppermint; eucalyptus and geranium.


1) Spoon the Shea butter and coconut oil into a mixing bowl and microwave for 20 seconds at a time until they melt. In the summer, you probably won't have to heat the coconut oil. If already melted, just pour it in after nuking the Shea butter. (I don't heat an ingredient unless it needs melting to preserve the nutrients.)

2) Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and whisk.

3) Whisk, whisk, whisk by hand, or beat with an electric mixer.

4) With whisking, the air and emollients will come together to form a white, fluffy shaving cream. After you get a creamy consistency, scoop the shaving cream into a clean, pretty jar with a tight lid.

Great for sensitive skin, and makes a lovely gift!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

A Simple Natural Bug Repellent

THE SAVVY SHOPPER says buy a few essential oils to keep around the house. These plant compounds kill germs, stop inflammation, nurture the skin, or do a job without the side effects of harmful chemicals. When using them to make natural home remedies, you get a lot of bang for the buck.

Here's an easy 2 ingredient formula to repel mosquitoes that's as effective as the drugstore kind. Try it to keep away ticks and chiggers too. 

If you're visiting a country with mosquitoes that carry disease, check with an expert on what to use. Normally, I wouldn't use DEEP, but I would if without it, I could catch malaria, or the West Nile virus.

Natural Bug Repellent


Select 1 ounce of a light carrier oil. Measure it into a bottle. Examples of carrier oils include:

Avocado oil

Sweet almond oil
Jojoba oil
Grapeseed oil

A light Carrier oil will absorb into your skin without feeling greasy. Coconut oil and olive oil are also carrier oils, but are heavy and slippery for this purpose -- both easily absorb into the skin right after a shower.

Next add 10 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil. According to the Center for Disease Control, lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as DEEP, with a caveat: It has to be reapplied every few hours. 

You can also mix lemon eucalyptus with other essential oils like citronella, cedarwood, lemongrass, geranium and peppermint, if you wish. Lemon eucalyptus is the only oil that has the science behind its bug repellent claims, yet adding other essential oils won't hurt it's effectiveness. Never rub essential oils on your skin solo. Without a carrier oil, witch hazel or water, they are too concentrated and can irritate the skin.

Clean smelling essential oils include:

Lemon Eucalyptus * tested and proven to work.
Rose Geranium


Close the bottle and shake the carrier oil and essential oil(s) together. Voila` 

If you wish to put your natural bug repellent into a spray bottle, add some witch hazel; water; or vodka to the mixture, so it sprays out easily. It's best to make fresh batches of natural bug repellent as needed. There's no reason to store more than you need, since it can be made in minutes.

Enjoy the great outdoors without pesky bug bites!

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Reupholster Or Buy A New Couch?

Because I live in a small Manhattan apartment, my couch gets plenty of wear. I spend lots of time sitting on it, and the minute a guest walks through the door, s/he sits on it too. I love my 15 year old couch and still get compliments on it. But the sofa has gotten soft in spots, and a spring is poking me in the back. The time has come to make a change.

First thought: Reupholster the old couch. Overall, it's in good condition. All it needs is fresh stuffing. But as it turns out, reupholstering a couch isn't cheap. The cost can run $600 and up. What a shame! Modern society throws out a lot of stuff because the cost of refurbishing is too steep. Not good!

And so, I bought a brand new convertible couch (see images). The new couch has several awesome characteristics: It is 3 inches longer than my old sofa, but more compact in width. It looks like a sofa, but behaves like a futon. Like a futon, it uses less space in its sleep position than my old couch with a pull out mattress. By the way, those pull out mattresses are rarely as comfortable as the new futon style flat back; and the new couch has a click/clack mechanism to easily convert the back into its sleep position. The old couch required brute force to pull the mattress out! 
Another great feature is storage under the new couch, which is big enough to hold plenty of stuff, though I don't plan on filling it up. I put a sheet set, quilt, feather pillow and a light cotton throw in the storage compartment. How convenient!

The fabric of the new couch is a cozy cotton, as well as, a pretty, textured design. The color is an airy neutral light brown. As you can see, the new sofa has dark wood trim on the arms and bottom. For anyone tempted to buy the couch, I have to mention that the back is unfinished, which visitors won't notice in my apartment due to placement. I would drape a quilt down the back if the couch sat in the center of the room. A bare back is shortsighted, IMO. How costly is it to put the same textured material in the back?

I'm still adjusting to the firmness of the new couch. Customers will either love or hate the firmness. There is some cushion, but you don't sink into it. Personally, I prefer a firm sofa over a soft one, since several years of butt traffic tends to soften a couch.

The new convertible couch requires a few simple steps of assemblage (Oh no, there are no  instructions!). I figured out how to attach the legs. The arms gave me more pause; and as it turns out, the screws (bolts) to secure the arms are too short by about 1.5 inches. So the furniture store is sending (please rush!) longer screws. At least I can sit on the couch while waiting for the correct bolts to arrive in order to afix the arms. 

I have never assembled a couch in my life, so if I can do it, anyone can. It seems to be common these days for new furniture to need some assembling. (Full service neighborhood stores are a thing of the past.) Watching a how-to video on YouTube certainly helps those of us with limited skills. You can learn most anything on YouTube!

Hopefully, the new couch will last as long as the old one, and I enjoy it as much. We sometimes cling to the familiar (I mean, some people are cloning their pets), but more often then not, change is good!

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day

Photo: The Daily News
The 4th of July is a holiday we usually spend close to home. Perhaps we get together with friends, but often we don't travel out of state to celebrate it. Most American towns have fireworks, so we don't need to go very far to watch the festivities.
Photo: Flag and banner
I like the patriotism and optimism of the day. When you think about the 13 colonies breaking away from the British Empire and setting up a democracy 240 years ago, it was a radical move and a great experiment based on the ideas of The Enlightenment.
Photo: 4k Wallpaper
Few nations around the then world thought the experiment in government would last all these years later. Our Founding Fathers had to be revolutionaries and optimistic to think that a government by the people (a republic) would ever work. What a radical idea.

Fortunately, our Founding Fathers were also worldly and highly educated and not simply dreamers. They did form a more perfect union, certainly not perfect, but more perfect then what existed at the time.
Photo: Brit+Co - A rice krispy treat with food coloring.
Happy Birthday, America! Let's get into the spirit everyone!

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