Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween From NYC ... Boo!

Greetings from a house on East 72nd Street
Dear Readers, how I wish you could be in Manhattan on Halloween. There are enough homes and businesses with fiendish displays to make roving the neighborhood a thriller! And, I'd like to share just a few more of the spooky sights with you.πŸŽƒ
A demon child; spider with 8 legs, 2 beady eyes and an attitude; plus fire-breathing dragon.

Here are 3 videos from a brownstone located at 41 East 72nd Street ... with 5 stories of fright! On Halloween night the homeowners (a former hedge fund founder and his wife), dress up in eerie costumes to invite the public in for a walkthrough to see their diabolical decorations up-close.πŸ‘€ They do so every year, and their festive spirit, generosity and efforts represent the best of New York City. If the family stumbles upon this blog ... a huge thanks from all your spine-chilled, delighted neighbors!πŸ‘»

 A closer look at the fire-breathing dragon.

An evil green goblin with his brain exposed.

Not every business or building can be as creepy-elaborate, but every sinister display adds to the bewitching ambiance of the Upper East Side, electrifying children and adults alive (um alike) ... and otherwise!πŸ‘Ί

I hope you can join us for the SPELL one year. Halloween is becoming like Christmas, but less serious and without the fuss of gift buying. All you need is an appetite for candy ... and a bit of heavy makeup.πŸ’€

When did you last eat a delicious caramel apple or candy corn? I like both on this ghostly holiday, but a little candy corn goes a long way! You?πŸ‘€πŸ‘„

A black door watched over by spirits and ravens.
There is something in human nature that is drawn to a scary theme. When I was 7 years old, I went with my 10-year-old (boy) neighbor to see a horror flick about a severed hand that crawled back to a dead man's town, relentlessly murdering people. (My mother let me go without checking to see what was playing! For all she knew we could have gone to see Deep Throat!!) 

The Hand attacked its first victim as the man was driving his automobile. After a struggle and nearly wrecking his fast-moving car, the victim was able to grab and fling The Hand out the car window. But it wasn't hurt. Later The Hand showed up, knocking at the front door of the victim's home! Unfortunately, when the prey opened the door, he saw nobody ... giving The Hand the opportunity to enter his house.😱 Hours later and undetected, The Hand crawled up on the back of the victim's couch chair, finally choking him to death!! The Handtraumatized me for decades afterward, yet it didn't stop me from seeing other horror shows in the future.πŸ•Έ️

Have fun tonight, dear vampires, Frankensteins, eyeballsπŸ‘€, and mummies. But you, Severed Hand, stay FAR away forever!

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gotham Gets Halloween Ready

So I took a stroll in my neighborhood today. All Hallows' Eve is a mere 5 days away, and Gotham is almost ready!
The Village has its annual parade, but as you can see, the Upper East Side is no slouch in the haunting, shrieking, undead department either.  
Rats, bats, ghouls, and skulls. What a scream! Will you wear a costume to keep the demons away?
A gargoyle dangles from its post while skeletons and severed heads wait to rise on Fright Night.
Spiders, lacerated faces, and mummies take their positions. Don't blink ... danger!!
New York Natives who have seen better days, take in the fresh air above a familiar row of tombstones.
An Old Enchantress, dressed in black, enjoys some leisure by sitting on the porch ahead of the big night.
Spirits hang around killing, um time before the howling begins.
Live-ins envisioning the knock of visitors at the front door.

Putting one's best face, hand, claw, eyeball, and fangs forward to greet all passersby.
Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Jewelry & Beautiful Things

Photo: Brilliant Earth. Won't you jump off the page onto my arm? 

In my 20s I thought I'd buy myself a sheared mink coat sometime in the future to celebrate a pivotal birthday: turning 40, turning 50. I wasn't sure when exactly, yet that was the plan. But after I bought a goose down coat and discovered how warm it was, I no longer wanted to spend such a sum on a mink coat. My wish evaporated. 

In a way, it is the value of allowing ourselves to want things, instead of falling prey to instant gratification. We make fewer purchasing mistakes if we take our time before pulling the trigger. By nature, I am an under buyer. It has served me well.

Photo: Blue Nile. I'm waiting ...

Here are some pretties I'm eying with the vague notion of treating myself on my next biggg birthday. I have long desired a tennis bracelet. Diamonds or sapphires? Depends on how much I can spend and the deal available at the time. Both stones are lovely!
As long as jewelry is real, well made and substantial enough (as I won't squint to see the stones!), they don't need to be Harry Winston quality because I don't intend to resale them. Years ago, I got some lovely pieces at Macy's.
Photo: Brilliant Earth. A shimmering ring is looking for a new home. πŸ’…
I would not be unhappy with a pretty sapphire and diamond ring. Do you see a pattern here? Diamonds, sapphires (or rubies), oh my! Although there's no need to go overboard, I think every woman deserves a few pieces of fine jewelry, something durable that sparkles and makes her happy. Very happy! Perhaps the equivalent for a man is a good watch.

Below are earrings I do have. They look fancy, but not so much that I can't wear them for every day. Bling should not stay in a box. They would look spectacular with a new tennis bracelet, wouldn't they? Fortunately, as an under buyer, I take my time and won't go broke! Tick, tock, tick, tock ... until a  pivotal birthday.

Photo: Macy's. Hello, beauties!
What is your favorite? Perhaps it is one of the four or something you already own or want to own.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Quest For Snacks And Busy-Day-Food Premieres

Chef Jamie Oliver changed the way I think about food, teaching me that preparing meals with real, unprocessed food need not take lots of time. As a result, I cook dinner nearly every night of the week. And Jamie is right: With planning, a main course with some sides only takes about 30 minutes to make ready to eat.

On the other hand, breakfast and lunch are often eaten on the run, but here Jamie Oliver has influenced me also to select better snacks and quick meals. Snacks that are low in sugar and empty calories, yet high in protein and a few nutrients. A high protein snack stops that galling hunger and sustains you until your next meal. 

Here are high protein/low sugar meal replacement snacks I grab:

1) Premier Protein Shakes (see above) -  Contain 30 grams of protein (about what you should get in a meal). Unlike many protein drinks, they don't taste chalky or artificial, likely due to milk as one of their ingredients. One shake fills me up and stabilizes my blood sugar for 4 - 5 hours. That's the clincher: It must kill the hunger when I cannot stop for lunch. At 160 calories, it is low in sugar and calories. For these, Walmart and Amazon offer the best prices.

2) Quest Bars - Some protein bars are inedible. Don't buy those! At 20 grams of protein, these taste good. They are gluten-free (should it matter) and have 14 grams of fiber to fill you up. The fiber is easy to digest. At about 180 calories per bar, some of the flavors are better then others. My favorites have little chunks of things in them: Double Chocolate Chunk; Cookies & Cream (Think Oreos); White Chocolate Raspberry; and Coconut Cashew. I eat one of these with a cup of coffee in the morning when I desire a sweet breakfast, but don't have time to make pancakes ... and shouldn't eat cookies or pastry! Also, when I'm not hungry, I can still manage to eat one so as not to skip breakfast. GNC runs a great promotion: Buy 5 Quest bars, get one free.

3) Premier Protein Bars - Not as tasty of the Quest Bars, but still good and satisfying. Having a rice crispy crunch, the Premier bars bump the protein back up to 30 grams at 280 calories per bar, which is still low. Again, turn to Walmart and Amazon for the lowest prices.

The 3 meal replacement items are high in protein but low in sugar and calories. The Premier Protein shakes and Quest bars are about $2 each, while the Premier Protein bars run about $1.25 each.

They are not the cheapest, but a good value for a high amount of protein and pleasant taste. Stock up at lower prices, so you can throw one in your purse, or gym bag.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The City Tote From Foley+Corinna

All bag photos: Bloomingdales
Since I must schlep on foot and subways everywhere around New York City, I buy nothing by crossbody bags. Moreover, I don't want to hurt my neck carrying them. So I'm very selective. I want my purse to look stylish, have enough inside pockets to organize things; be big enough to hold all my essentials, but at the end of the day, look slim and sleek. So we're back to being chic and stylish, aren't we?

Recently, I found the perfect bag! It's the signature City Tote from Foley+Corinna, which was designed with a smart "mix of sophistication, fun and function." For a tote, it is compact; roomy, yet looks and wears more like a purse.

The bag has strong, smooth double handles (to fit your shoulder); a detachable adjustable crossbody strap (which I like to use). The interior has a durable polyester lining; 2 smartphone pockets and a zip pocket. The outside of the bag is a foldover design with a 3rd wide zip pocket.

The Foley+Corinna Mid City Crossbody bag is available in vintage leather. However, I bought it in polyurethane, also called "liberated leatherTM." It costs a third less than geniune leather, but looks remarkable: substantial just like real leather. It is my 1st "liberated leatherTM" bag ever. (Can a person tell the difference between liberated leatherTM and animal hide leather, you may ask? Yes ... but only if she looks for it. It feels slightly different.) To the naked eye, it looks like an expensive bag! 

On Friday night, I went to the New York City Ballet, carrying my new tote. I went with it folded over. After the performance I stuffed my program booklet, a windbreaker and silk scarf neatly inside to return home. The night was too warm to wear them.

It is no surprise that this bag is designed by 2 women for women because they got it right! I love my new bag!!

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Echo Scarfs Are Nearly Hermès Perfect

Let's say a fashion-forward blogger (um, no one in particular) who imagined owning a Hermes scarf is smitten with them, but can't bring herself to spend $440-$800 for such a scarf. It's not like this lifestyle blogger is the Queen of England (who has Hermes' scarves in every color!), nor rubs elbows with the Queen of England's set.
One of the reasons a Hermes' scarf costs so much is because it is a status symbol much like a Rolex watch, or a Birkin bag. It suggests a customer is rich enough to afford the big ticket item. I mean, you could buy 15 Louis Vitton bags for the price of one Birkin; and a Louis Vitton bag isn't cheap either. The resale value of the status symbol items remain high since tons of people covet them. Previously owned Hermes' scarves run $250-$400 dollars.
Let's say, you don't care about the status symbol part of owning a Hermes' scarf, but love the 36'' by 36'' size, the thickness of the silk which is hand helmed, the design, and the craftmanship. Can a consumer get a spanking new Hermes-like scarf that is made by a company other than Hermes for less? The thrilling news is: YES ... indeed you can!
Look to Echo silk scarfs (also spelled scarves). Like a Hermes, they come in an assortment of lovely patterns and colors that will flatter your sweathers and coats. Echo Scarfs launched in 1923 as a family business. Today the company has expanded into a design group that makes not only upscale scarfs, but stylish hats, gloves, bags, sleepwear, beachwear and bedding. Their accessories are always evolving.

What a chic bargain Echo's big square silk scarves are! The silk is substantial! Echo scarfs remind me of Hermes: 100% soft, thick silk; with expertly helmed edges; pretty designs; yet at a fraction of the cost.

Unlike a status symbol scarf like Hermes, Echo Scarfs go on sale at times. I found a past season scarf with a price tag of $99 marked down to $16.99 at TJ Maxx. Well, Happy Birthday to me!!!

Personally, I'd rather buy several new Echo Scarfs (for example, all the scarfs featured on this blog) over one previously owned Hermes scarf! How about you?

I will always love you, Hermes ... but Echo loves me more!

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Aveda Wellness Beauty

Photo: Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort
For years I've loved Aveda's line of wellness skin and hair care, as well as, its cosmetics. The natural hues flatter a broad range of  complexions. The company was founded in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher on the principles of Ayurveda, the Hindu holistic system of medicine and surgery in India. Now owned by Estee Lauder, it is still in partnership with a Brazilian community collective of organic babassu for use in its soaps. Pure flower and plant essences go into all of Aveda's skin and hair elixirs and makeup. The company is super eco-friendly and cruelty free.

Moreover, Aveda employees are trained in science, botany, skin and hair care, along with innovative techniques to help customers select products suited for their individual needs. They attend the Avenda Institute (their school) before working in the shops. In stores they take the time to teach you about holistic skin and hair care and show you how to use their products.
It would be ideal to switch over to the entire Aveda beauty line. However, the costs for pure botanical ingredients based on wellness principles can really add up. So start slow and select carefully. When I can't afford a whole line, I might buy a face serum, or a very pretty, long lasting blush. You might value a frizz tamer for you hair. Worth the splurge considering the quality!

Compared to many other retailers of organic ingredients, Aveda is more affordable. Fortunately, Aveda also runs promotions, putting the beauty goods in the you-can-budget-for-it category, not the only-an-heiress category.

At $26, the limited edition hand relief® moisturizing cream with rosemary and peppermint (it smells clean and invigorationg!) keeps hands and cuticles smooth in a dry climate. In keeping with Aveda's mission, $4 of each purchase supports cruelty-free research through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation®So along with a splurge, consumers are supporting a good cause, which is money well spent!

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Emergency Kit For The Unexpected

Photo: Council member Ben Kallos's office
Last week I attended a Ready New York meeting in my neighborhood and received a NYC Emergency Management backpack with supplies as a gift for my attendance. Similar kits are sold on Amazon here

Although I'm far from an alarmist, as I've gotten older and experienced power outages, as well as, 9-11-01 and the threat of Hurricane Sandy, I see the value of owning an emergency kit. It should be light enough to carry on foot. Having a few basics until help arrives is worth the money. For this I wouldn't make my own kit. It needs to weigh as close to nothing as possible, plus contain the right emergency supplies. You can't buy the stuff separately for less.

Any go bag will do, but I prefer a backpack because you have all your supplies ready that you can grab, throw on your back and leave at a moment's notice. Without an emergency, you can just forget about it. However, don't borrow your go bag for other purposes, tempting as it might be.πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘—

My backpack came with a:

1) small first aide kit: bandages, anti-septic wipes, moist towelettes
2) lightweight flashlight with batteries
3) whistle
4) small battery operated radio with batteries
5) personal care items: soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb (because a woman has her priorities.πŸ‘Έ Who wants to run around for days with wild-looking hair?)
6) notebook and pen in a waterproof, zip-lock plastic bag
7) emergency poncho
8) emergency blanket - a wind and waterproof one
9) dust mask

I will need to add: bottles of water; food like protein bars and packages of nuts; copies of my personal documents, such as my birth certificate, any important papers; phone charger; important contact numbers written on paper, map of New York City and any medicine I want to take. 
Look what else is coming with me: skin care products in sample sizes. I think there's mouthwash in there too. My skin will not dry up like a prune while I'm displaced.
I'm packing aspirin and migraine medicine, because having a headache with no pain treatment just might be the straw to break the camel's back in a natural, or man-made disaster. I don't need it! Moreover, should I see someone who looks like s/he is having a heart attack (stress!), my aspirin might save a life!! I've got your back, stranger! That's what preparing for the unexpected is all about, right? Let's not lose our humanity in stressful circumstances.

I'd also suggest taking a book to read, or something to help pass time. Make sure you have money in small bills, as well as, your credit card, house and car keys. If you leave by car, I'd get a device to break a car window should you get stuck in your car and can't open the door. For about $5, every car should have one. After you free yourself, grab your emergency go bag and get out of there!

My meeting offered smart advice: Get ready for emergencies. Have a plan. Be prepared, then enjoy peace of mind. Thank you, New York City. Lesson learned.

Aside from pets and family, is there anything you would absolutely need to bring with you in an emergency?

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