Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Fright Night

It's All Hallows Eve, and the natives are growing restless with anticipation!
The path is lit, and a welcoming committee waits patiently for your arrival. Walk this way for the festive treats! πŸ•·
Preparations are underway. Just one more spider, bat whiskers, eye of a newt, and toe of frog for our delicious, bubbling brew. Look closely, all eyes πŸ‘€ are upon you, our special guests! πŸ’€
What is spooking Midnight, the black cat? Oh, nothing undeadpeculiarwailing, or unnatural to worry about. πŸ‘» Have a frightful and Happy Halloween!

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

E.L.F Lipsticks Have A Hidden Feature


Look closely at the tubes of the E.L.F Moisterizing Lipstick in the image above. Did you know that the color markers at the bottom of the lipstick tubes are removable? I sure didn't! just sent me an email that says those bottoms aren't just "color identifiers." Actually, they are detachable pots of (matching color) lip balm! Well, knock me over with a feather ... that is cool!

Three other brands have the same hidden feature: L.A. Girl, Makeup Revolution and Sania Kashuk Satin Luxe Lip Colors.

How did we not know this? Hidden in plain sight!!! Twitter is blowing up over the discovery of this little bonus, and now the secret is out!
Photo: makeupfuLipsticks with hidden pots of matching color gloss

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stir-Fry Spicy Tofu With Broccoli And Red Pepper

Photo courtesy of : Serious Eats
I'm a carnivore, but in practice only eat meat about twice a week. I don't feel my best if I go too long without a meat (and potatoes) dinner. Since I drink milk daily, I should be getting a complete set of amino acids even on meatless days; and because I eat balanced and healthy meals, regardless of whether they are meat or meatless, I can't account for my need for some meat. I just know I feel better with meat in my diet.

But folks, it's getting harder not to think of the sweet, gentle cows when preparing a beef roast. Sometimes I think because of this hightened awareness, one day I'll only be able to eat chicken ... until I watch this. Ok ... so one day I'll only be able to eat fish. Wrong again, look how Frank (the fish) likes to kiss his friend, Daisy (the dog). I mean, wth? How do we eat fish, after seeing Frank?

So, while I still eat meat, I eat less of it. But there are other reasons also. It's better for the environment. It takes a smaller carbon footprint and less water to grow vegetables than livestock. Polution is reduced too. Meatless meals are budget friendly; and studies show eating less red meat is better for you.

Therefore, eating more meatless meals is worth considering. Here's a dinner that uses tofu (soy) as the protein, which I'm preparing for dinner. Serves 2 hungry people, or 4 average eaters for under $5:

Stir-Fry Spicy Tofu With Broccoli And Red Pepper

16 ounces frozen broccoli florets (or fresh broccoli)
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
14-16 ounce package extra-firm water packed tofu (or leftovers like chicken or beef.)
1/4 cup of orange juice (optional)
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a dash of sesame oil
2 tablespoons Sriracha, or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: Lately I simplify this dish by using the vegetables and a protein as listed above. But next season them with my homemade Hoisin sauce right in the Wok. Simmer until the vegetables tenderize. Pour over brown rice or quinoa.

1) Toss orange juice (if adding), brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, (or other hot sauce) in a Wok.

2) Add the broccoli, red pepper, carrots, celery and onion in the Wok and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. 

3) Cute the tofu into large squares and toss in after the vegetables. 

4) As the dish cooks, I cover the pan with a lid part of the time, sometimes removing the lip to stir-fry. The lid helps the vegetables get tender without drying out. You want crunchy, as opposed to, raw vegetables. You also don't want overcooked vegetables. Done with a crunch is the goal.

5) Add the chopped garlic and ginger and stir-fry for another minute or so. 

6) If you use frozen vegetable you have exactly enough sauce for the dish. If using fresh raw vegetable, you might need to add a up to 1/4 cup of water at the start to get some sauce. Start with less as the vegetables will also release water. 

If you have too much liquid, you can add 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken the sauce, being careful not to overcook the vegetables. I do everything I can to get the liquid right and not have to add more cooking time to fix having too much liquid, but, hey, so what if you do? You'll get it right the 2nd time making it.

Serve over white, or brown rice, or quinoa. Garnish with peanuts or sesame seeds.

This is a tasty vegetarian meal. However, I have also added grilled, hot Italian turkey sausage to this dish, which is filling and delicious. Hopefully, I won't find any cute Tom, the turkey, videos.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Soap & Glory The Perfect Ten Eyeshadow Palette

Nowadays most of the big cosmetic companies offer a large eyeshadow palette, including the Soap & Glory line. Called The Perfect Ten Eyeshadow Palette (a limited edition that's back this year), it's created to be a collection of ten of the "most wearable colors ever assembled," suitable for every day of the week.

Reviewers love the colors and the quality of the pigments in this palette. The collection contains both matte and frosted shadow. Guess who did the fieldwork for THE SAVVY SHOPPER? Ta-da ... our eyeshadow maven friend, Angie Smith, who bought the palette at Ulta for $20. She loves all ten shades! Angie says, the colors are "so pretty, blendable and have no fallout." They won't "crumble on your checks."

When I ask Angie, how they compare to our favorite Maybelline The Nudes palettes (there are three; $10 each), she reports that the Soap & Glory shadow has more moisture and prefers its colors. Considering how flattering and gorgeous The Nudes are, that's quite an endorsement!

I think a makeup palette makes a fabulous gift ... as well as, a great buy for yourself. Fun and useful, they are handy to take on trips. With more companies making big eyeshadow palettes, prices have really dropped recently. No longer do you need to empty your wallet to buy rich pigments. So here's another eyeshadow palette that performs for less!
Candy for grown women.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Poetry In Fashion

Last week THE SAVVY SHOPPER featured a retailer who offers cute, trendy clothing to stretch a wardrobe. I want to follow-up with a London company, Poetry, a designer of investment pieces.

Investment pieces may cost more, but they last season after season and can be used to mix and match to create outfits. While basic and less flashy, usually the craftsmanship and fabric are of a higher quality. A smart practice is to stock your closet with mainly investment and some trendy pieces. Not all articles of clothing need to last forever, but things you return to time and again like a trench coat; leather jacket; wool sweater; or warm scarf should be well-made and durable. Since you wear an intestment piece for decades, it will pay for itself. And, it's better for the environment to hang on to things. Unfortunately, we've become a throw-away society; and according to sociologists, constantly buying new stuff doesn't even make us happy!

Poetry, which is a family run business, designs a collection of dresses, skirts, trousers, sweaters and accessories, using unique blends of natural fabrics, such as alpaca, linen and cashmere. Cotton, silk and virgin wool ... be still, my heart! I love natural fibers. The pieces are stylish, soft and timeless. Owning fewer, but finer, more perfect and practical pieces is always savvy shopping!

Moreover, what I like about Poetry can be summed up in one word, "value" -- its attention to detail at a reasonable price, which is much less than its competitors. It may take us several paychecks to save up for a pair of knee high leather boots; a brushed cotton and wool (with buttons, 3/4 length sleeves and a dropped waist) dress; or a long checkered, blended wool and silk scarf, but it's doable.

Poetry is all about designing fashionable and versatile pieces that are meant to last!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Most Daily Vitamins Are Worthless

Photo: The Washington Post
According to the latest medical research, most of the daily vitamins we take are useless; and certain common vitamin supplements are, in fact, harmful. That is surprising! I don't know about you, but I have taken a multivitamin since early childhood ... even by dropper before I could swallow pills. If there's no real benefit, that's a ton of money down the drain!

Business Insider wrote an article on vitamins -- listing ones to take, as well as, ones to skip, based on what science tells us to do. Let me sum up the recommendations for you:

Vitamins to take:

1) Vitamin D - It keeps our bones strong by helping us absorb calcium, but it's hard to get all our requirements from food alone. In the summer, we get vitamin D from being out in the sun. In the winter, not so much. The people who took Vitamin D supplements in a large 2011 medical study lived longer then those who didn't.

2) Zinc - It's the only supplement proven to shorten colds. The mineral seems to interfere with the reproduction of cold viruses.

3) Folic acid - Take folic acid if you are pregnant, or if you might get pregnant. Studies show it reduces birth defects of the fetus' brain, spine and spinal cord.

Vitamins to skip:

1) Multivitamins - You get everything you need in a balanced diet. Consuming an excess of vitamins like A, Bs and C can harm you. In the 2011 study, women who took multivitamins over a long period of time died sooner than the women who didn't take multivitamins! So at the very least, multivitamins didn't keep the study group healthy.

2) Antioxidants - Get your antioxidants from berries.πŸ“πŸ’ (Technically, a cherry is a drupe, due to the pit.) When taken in excess as supplements, vitamins A, C and E have been linked to an increase of certain cancers, especially among male smokers.

3) Vitamin C - Eat citrus fruit πŸŠπŸ‹ instead of taking vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C has not been proven to shorten a cold, plus it raises the risk of painful kidney stones.

4) Probiotics - We can get probiotics from yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented food at a fraction of the cost of probiotic pills. The science is lacking to support the benefit of taking a more expensive pill supplement.

5) Vitamin B3 - Better to get vitamin B3 by eating salmon, tuna and beets.🐟 The study subjects who took vitamin B3 pills developed infections, liver problems and internal bleeding.

6) Vitamin E - Get vitamin E from food like eggs πŸ³ and spinach. Vitamin E supplements increased the risk of prostate cancer in men.

The bottom line is, Mother Nature rules, and many of us may want to change our thinking. It is always better to get vitamins by eating food. Food gives your body all the vitamins it needs in the right form and amount. Supplements just don't cut it. Science can't prove the benefit of taking many of them, so most likely, we are spending lots of money for nothing. Arrghh!

At no time, have I ever gone vitamin supplement overboard, but for years have taken a (drugstore brand) multivitamin pill. Alas, I'm already doomed!πŸ™‚
Photo: Flickr/Michelle Dyer
Nonetheless, I do take the latest data seriously (before future studies change the advice again, bringing back the need to take multivitamins:). Certainly for now, I will be vigilant about taking a vitamin D supplement ... and zinc, if I'm trying to ward off a cold. What will you do my smart, savvy readers?

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lulus Is On Trend Fashion

Lulus opened 20 years ago (in 1996) as a mother/daughter owned clothing store. Today the venture has evolved into a leading online retailer of trendy clothing, shoes and accessories. From casual dresses to cocktail dresses, lace-up boots and black knit sneakers, the offerings are modern, feminine and sophisticated.
The dresses; separates; fashion jewelry; hats; and scarves are not investment pieces, but they are cute, hip and affordable. Everything we buy needn't be top-of-the-line. Mixing and matching different price points in a wardrobe is a time honored art. At you can easily find a real showstopper dress for under $45. Take for example the blue one above: Very classy and conservative up front, then turn around and bam!
Marked by eye-catching design: ''The devil is in the detail'' with (on the left) black mesh and gold sequins, forming a diamond pattern on a body fitting silhouette; or (on the right) metallic embellishes on midnight black crinkled, sheer fabric. And believe it, or not, the dresses can be hand washed in cold water!
I bought these stylish mushroom tortoise sunglasses for $8 bucks; and yet, the two-hued frames are strong and well-made!

Moreover, the Lulus website is fun to browse. There is ever changing inventory -- plus a blog section with beauty and fashion tips; celebrity interviews; and chances to win prizes, like $200. 
Quite often merchandise goes on sale. Free shipping is offered on orders over $50, with free returns. Your items arrive wrapped with care too, enclosed with a note that reads, "Thanks, Gorgeous!"

Lulus is chic, cheap and sweet! Here's fair warning: Looking leads to coveting ... which leads to ordering!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Making Pizza Dough

Photo: Alexandra Grablewski, Getty Images
With the loss of mom and pop stores, it's getting harder and harder to find a great slice of pizza in Manhattan. Sadly, the days of a real Italian pizza parlor on every block are gone. Nonetheless, nobody wants to eat mediocre pizza. So I began making my own pizza. It starts with a perfect dough.

For years I've made a good Chicago style pizza, but now I'm obsessed with trying to make a thinner crusted, brick oven, Italian style pizza. Lacking a brick oven, I can only try to come close. What I can do is get the ingredients right:

Here is an authentic pizza dough recipe for one 10 inch pie. For a family of 4, simply double the ingredients (and after it rises, split the dough in half) to bake two 10 inch pies. Yeap, half a pie each sounds about right to me.

Pizza Dough for one 10 inch pie


4 ounces lukewarm water (optional: I add about 3 tablespoons of dry powder milk too.)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast 
1 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra oil to brush on the baking dish)
2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds (I did this once. Loved itπŸ’–, so now include it in my recipe.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra flour for kneading the dough) Note: I use all-purpose flour, but professionals use bread flour. It's higher in protein. I don't stock it, so don't use it. All-purpose is just what the name says it is, "all-purpose." I use an egg and milk for the protein.
3/4 teaspoon salt


1) Combine the water, yeast, egg, (extras I list above, if you wish) and olive oil in a bowl. With a fork or the handle of a wooden spoon, add and incorporate the flour and salt until a ball forms. (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle a few extra drops of warm water on it. If the ball forms easily, don't do anything.)

2) I only work the dough until the flour is incorporated. (I don't touch it with my hands yet.)

3) Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and sit it inside your cold oven for 2 or more hours. The pilot light will keep it warm for rising.

4) After it has doubled in bulk, dump the blob of dough onto a floured surface and knead until it is elastic and no longer sticky. Sprinkle with flour as you fold it over and knead. (You can knead the dough inside the bowl if it's big enough, then have less to clean up.) Now is the time to divide the dough in half if you doubled the recipe and are making two pies.

5) Flatten, pull and toss the dough with your fingers and knuckles like a true Italian pizza maker. Feel free to shape your pizza round, or rectangle.
Photo: The New York Times
Place the pizza dough (with a little sprinkle of flour on the bottom) into an olive oiled cast iron skillet or a stainless steel baking sheet. (If you wish, place parchment paper, or a silicone non-stick mat into your baking dish. I don't: A brush of olive oil works for me.)

Add a thin layer of tomato sauce, and your favorite toppings, such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, banana peppers, JalapeΓ±o peppers, ham, pepperoni, sausage, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Also feel free to spice to taste with oregano, dried basil, red pepper flakes, or dried garlic.

Commercial pizza ovens get much hotter than a home oven. Whenever I attempt to duplicate the heat of a pizza parlor oven, the result is dry pizza, so I no longer try. For that reason, I don't turn my oven all the way up. Instead, I bake my pizza at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is done. Delish!

Extra tips: Whole wheat flour works with this recipe also. (Yes, I went through that phase. But whole wheat changes the texture of the pizza dough) Now I mostly use all-purpose flour to make pizza (as well as, buttermilk biscuits). In moderation, it won't kill us. Bon appetito!
Mmm, dinner is ready! What are you having?

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Trust Fund Beauty

Photo: Trust Fund Beauty from Tumblr
The average person puts a ton of personal care products on their body in a given day. Ever worry about their safety? Many people look for non-toxic beauty products that are effective. That is to say, cosmetics without harmful chemicals, that are 100% vegan and not tested on animals.

Trust Fund Beauty is an indy brand that fits the need by offering creamy "Lipgasm" lipsticks with sassy names in vivid colors, as well as, provocatively named nail polish that is organic and cruelty free. They cost a bit more, but you have the assurance that the ingredients are clean, yet the quality of the makeup is good.

Lipsticks are $22 each while the nail polish costs $15 each, not an outrageous price for an organic line. (And too, when products are not mass produced, they tend to be more expensive.) You may be able to afford one, or two (sans a family trust fund :), plus think the higher cost is worth paying for clean ingredients. Select from an array of appealing colors!

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Uniqlo Strikes Again

Uniqlo, which is founded on the Japanese values of "simplicity, quality and longevity" strikes again! I adore their new Blocktech long coat. It joins their Blocktech parka (which is available for men, women and children). The coat comes in 4 colors: white, green, navy and black.

Unbelievably lightweight (how do they do it?), the Blocktech coat is waterproof and windproof. The seams are treated with sealant to keep the rain and wind out. It has an A-line silhouette, with drawstrings at the waist. For this reason, I bought an extra-large in black, a versatile shade. Going two sizes up gives me the extra length that I like. The coat hits me right at the knee. (Two very stylish Australian shoppers assured me that the coat fit at the shoulders, and I was not being swallowed up by it.) On the other hand, by choosing to go two sizes up, I must roll up the sleeves (one turn up). But, turned up sleeves look stylish with this high performance, lightweight raincoat! I plan to layer the coat over wool sweaters, as well as, Uniqlo's Light Down Vests as temperatures drop. What an absolutely beautiful, high tech coat! Not bulky, not baggy -- so sleek when you put it on!!
Another winning item in Uniqlo's fall/winter collection is the 2-Way Knit Stole. Wear it as a wrap around your neck, or drape it around you shoulders as a cape or shawl. A fashionable button secures it in place. Available in 6 colors.
Also notable are the Blocktech Warm-Lined Slim Fit Pants. They are stylish, comfortable and super warm. They have a fleece lining, a layer of windproof film, a bit of stretch and a wool-like texture (for style). How can you go wrong? Everything you want in winter slacks! Multiple colors also.

Surely, I sound like a broken record, but I'm fully on board with Uniqlo's "Life Wear" philosophy. I love the clothing's modern elegance and thoughtful details at a price that most everyone can afford. Simple attire that makes life better -- nails it yet again!

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