Thursday, August 30, 2018

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

At the end of summer and during the dry winter months, skin takes a beating from the sun, wind and cold. It needs some tender loving care. Beauty editors are raving about Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, comparing it to 2 expensive luxe cousins, La Prairie Skin Cavier Luxe Sleep Mask and Valmont Moisturizing with a Mask. Yet Laneige costs much less ... $25 vs $350.

Laniege Water Sleeping Mask is good for all skin types, from oily to dry and sensitive. A gel, it has patented  (what it calls) "Sleep-Tox™" ingredients such as antioxidant-rich Hunza Apricot and Evening Primrose, plus "Moisture Wrap™" technology -- which are 6 moisture rich minerals formulated to calm, hydrate and rejuvenate the skin overnight.

Apply it as a last step over your face serums before bed. 

Customers and beauty editors alike give this skin care gel top marks for its moisturizing and rejuvenating properties. Not only does it add moisture back to the skin, it softens lines because dry skin looks old. A hydrated face looks and feels its best, appearing supple and younger.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

American Eagle & Aerie

Recently Aerie opened down the street from Bloomingdale's (at 716 Lexington Avenue on the corner of East 57th Street) adjoining its parent company, American Eagle. Once inside, you can walk from one store to the other. 

Have you had the experience of your basics wearing out, seemingly overnight? Well it happens to me, and I love Aerie's style, quality and prices on clothing we tend to buy in multiples. You won't break the bank by picking up a few essentials such as: t-shirts, cute tops, leggings, jeans, undies, hoodies, sweatshirts and causal dresses. Inventory also includes leather jackets, belts, fashion jewelry, sweat pants and sports shoes.
Dare I address this next topic? Nowadays Aerie offers undies which are much better and cheaper than the Victoria's Secret brand. There are many styles from sporty to slinky in the collection. The leggings, undies and t-shirts are ultra soft and adorable. Gosh, so are the dresses! The fabric of the summer garments are mostly cotton, some with a touch of spandex and can be machine washed and dried. For sports, there are compression and sweat-repellent leggings. The fabric of all the clothing is substantial in thickness, not thin like many competitors.
We probably spend more hours in basics than dress clothes in our day-to-day lives. So the next time you need a few replacements, be sure to consider American Eagle and Aerie, as they combine fashion, value and friendly customer service. A retailer who provides the bang for the buck ... along with attractive sales and rewards.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

A London Blue Topaz Is A Dazzling Gemstone

All Photos: Macy's
A London Blue Topaz has become one of the top selling gemstones in the jewelry business. That's because, it's a lovely, saturated deep blue stone, as durable as an emerald (rating an 8 on the Moh Scale of Hardness), yet not as pricey as other precious stones like diamonds, rubies, emerlds or sapphires.

In fact blue gemstones with good hardness and brilliance are rare in nature, which drives the price up. However topaz, a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine, is plentiful. Natural topaz is usually colorless (also called "white") or brown. A London Blue Topaz is created by treating a white topaz with radiation. The radiation changes the color centers in the crystal, affecting the way it absorbes light, and thus producing the deep blue color. A blue topaz can come in a range of shades from light to medium to dark, referenced in the industry as: "Sky Blue," "Swiss Blue" and "London Blue," with the latter being the most saturated and valuable.

Sooo what makes a London Blue Topaz so popular are 4 attributes: it’s brilliance, hardness, color and price.

The lovely blue stone caught my eye after I found myself brownsing at some very dark and pricey sapphires recently. That's when it hit me how gorgeous the London Blue Topaz pieces were in the neighboring showcases. Consider this: A top quality London Blue Topaz is much more affordable than a mid quality sapphire.

Moreover, it's a lasting precious stone in a dazzling shade of coveted blue. Beauty and durability for less, not only a feast for the eyes, but music to a Savvy Shoppers ears!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Philosophy Fragrance: The Pure Graces

To be honest fragrance is a beauty item I rarely buy. Skin care and makeup are more my scope. Perfume and eau de toilette, not so much. To me, it's an extra step to mess with ... and jeez don't I do enough already? I mean as a shower obsessed American, daily I lather up with SheaMoisture soap, shampoo and conditioner; use coconut oil, underarm deodorant, baby power; and apply makeup. As needed, I slather on skin serums, lotions and creams. How many more smells do I need? I'd like to leave my house!

That said, I do like the clean, fresh, subtle scents found in Philosophy's Pure and Amazing Grace eau de toilettes. I sometimes try them on at Ulta, or Sephora. Frangrances that smell good to others are personal preferences, and Philosophy has many scents. I like one of their clean, crisp sprays called, Pure Grace, as well as, the floral scent, Amazing Grace Ballet Rose.

Ulta, the beauty retailer, makes Philosophy's Grace scents more affordable with coupons and rewards, so it's a tempting place to browse and experiment. In deciding on a favorite, spray the samples on, then wait about 20 minutes to see how they will react with your unique body chemistry. 
For me, buying a fragrance is a once in a blue moon splurge. How about you? Do you wear fragrance daily? Many women must as there's such a proliferation of scents on the market, and companies spend millions of dollars on advertizing. What is your favorite scent?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tanzanite At Tiffany's

Photo: TazaniteJewelryDesign
Some people like to breakfast at Tiffany's. (Know the waiting list is long.) Recently I had a ball perusing Tiffany's fine jewelry collection, my research for THE SAVVY SHOPPER. The first floor of Tiffany's is set up with showcases of one beautiful, flawless stone set in trinkets after another. Under the glass and lights, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other fine gems are ultra translucent in all their glory. I like to tell a sales associate that he is selling the stones, I wish I could buy instead of the ring I'm wearing!😍 Unlike some high end retailers, Tiffany employees are very kind to smile when I say it. They are well aware that most of us who walk in their door are only lookers. And yet, I see high-rollers! Hellooo serious buyers, pleased to meet you!πŸ™‚

Let's talk about a jewel, which Tiffany & Co. named after the country where it was discovered: Tanzanite, a blue and violet stone, consisting of the mineral zoisite. Unlike my favorite, sapphiresπŸ’™(which usually require greater heat treatment for clarity), tanzanites tend to be more "eye clean." 

Just like diamonds, tanzanites are valued according to the four "c"s: color, cut, clarity and carat. The most desirable color is a vivid violet blue, which is what I saw at Tiffany's. Nothing but!
Photo: Macy's

The gemstone was discovered in 1967 by Manuel de Souza, a part-time gold miner, in the hills of Northern Tanzania, and thus far, it is the only place on earth where the rock is found. The government in Tanzania has taken steps to stop the smuggling of tanzanites out of the mining area of the country. A wall completely surrounding the mines was built by the country's army. With regulations in place, the price of tanzanites per carat which now is lower than diamonds and sapphires, is expected to climb in the future.

Tiffany & Co. takes great care to buy their stones from ethnically minded countries where business is carried out in a humane way, which is to be greatly admired. 

Tanzanite measures a 6.5 - 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. (Diamonds are a 10 while pearls rate a 4.) So as with all fine jewelry, caution must be taken not to scratch this brilliant stone.
Photo: Effy for Macy's
On my fun day at Tiffany's, I found tanzanites to be as stunning as sapphires. The upscale store is also a safe place to gaze at them, because all are priced well above my budget. Still it's eye-opening to behold top of the heap jewelry. Thank you, Tiffany & Co., I had a lovely time trying on your beautiful tanzanites!

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Honey Of A Cake

Photo: King Arthur flour
Today I'm making a Honey Cake, which traditionally is served without frosting. But, what is a cake sans frosting? A loaf of bread ... unfinished, right? So I will include a recipe for a buttermilk frosting. A Honey Cake is delicious dressed, or naked. You decide how you wish to eat it.

Honey Cake


1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup honey
4 large eggs
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and pull out 2 large mixing bowls and 2 cake pans (either 8'' or 9'' cake pans will do).

1) In one bowl shift together the dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.

2) In the 2nd bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the honey, eggs and butter.

3) Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

4) Next whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.

5) Line the almonds on the bottom of the greased cake pans, then pour the batter over the almonds in the pans.

6) Bake at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes, or until done in the center.

Buttermilk Frosting


About 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups powdered sugar


1) Mix all the ingredients together. I keep adding the powdered sugar until I get a thick yet spreadable frosting consistency. If needed, add few drops of buttermilk at a time to arrive at the right creaminess.

Optional Frosting flavors: (1) Add a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest for a citrus flavored icing. (2) Or 1 teaspoon of instant coffee for a mocha icing, if you like.

2) Spread the buttermilk frosting on top and sides of the cake.

Without a doubt, a Honey Cake is a treat, but with some good ingredients: almonds (protein), whole wheat (a whole grain) and eggs (protein, vitamin E). Enjoy a slice!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

BH Cosmetics Makeup Brush Set

Good makeup brushes are a beauty essential. Quality ones can be costly, but they are vital tools in applying makeup evenly and flawlessly.

BH Cosmetics offers a fabulous mid priced 11-piece set worth considering. The set is a pretty rose gold metal material. Sold by various retailers, I first spotted the set at Urban Outfitters for $23. Sometimes a single brush costs more!

The 11 piece set includes:

1) Powder brush

2) Flat buffer brush
3) Foundation brush
4) Pointed crease brush
5) Blending brush
6) Angled blending brush
7) Round smudge brush
8) Flat concealer brush
9) Oval shadow brush
10) Brow/liner brush
11) Lip brush

The synthetic bristles feel soft-to-the-touch and can be dipped into liquids, creams or powder. They blend makeup without shedding. A cute matching rose gold vinyl case is included.

This is a good basic brush set. You can apply a full face by multi-tasking the brushes. Makeup mavens will know what is missing. It does not contain a blush brush, highlighter brush or contour brush. Yet at this affordable price, you could buy the additions you need for your individual beauty routine.

Less glossy, but the same quality bristles at a lower price (about $13), the 10-piece BH Cosmetics Sculpt and Blend Brush Set is a great deal too. The set includes all the basics, i.e. the main brushes used by many women who favor an Ivory Girl, natural look.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Who To Buy From ... On A Budget

If I decide not to pay an arm and a leg for a thing, but desire one that performs, here is my numero uno shopping rule:

Only buy goods from retailers whose expertise is in the area of the goods being sold.

Examples include: 
  • Buy hair products, such as blow dryers and flat irons from companies like Conair or Revlon, who specialize in hair products. Conair or Revlon will offer a superb hair dryer for about $25 if you don't wish to fork over $100+ for a Chi brand; because that's what Conair and Revlon do, make hair gadgets. They are in the business and know what they're doing! And because they are established in the hair industry, they have a reputation to uphold.
  • Buy your mattress from Beautyrest for $800 when you don't wish to pay $2,000+ for a much more expensive Sterns and Foster mattress. Beautyrest (established in 1931) makes an excellent mattress despite its lower ticket price.
  • Buy a Hoover vacuum cleaner (selling since the 1930s) when you can't afford a Miele (a used Miele vacuum is $700; new ones are $1,400+). In the year 1990, I bought a Hoover vacuum cleaner at Woolworth's (the famous, now defunct variety store) for $60, which is still running strong today. In furnishing my apartment, I had to buy so many things, I was happy to find my Hoover for less. It is a brand well known for making vacuums. I think I'm getting my money's worth!😍
  • I never buy shoes from retailers whose primary business is not shoes. I trust Merrell and Sorel for proper arch and heel support over Calvin Klein or Kenneth Cole. In footwear, I need more than style! I get the best shoes for my feet cheaper than what these chic, yet unskilled high fashion designers charge. Shoes aren't either seller's main focus.
  • If you don't have $400 - $700 to invest in a William-Sonoma blender, you can get a durable and powerful Oysterizer blender, a prime maker of blenders. About $24, it has 10+ speeds to do everything from mixing, blending and crushing ice. Mine lasts for decades. 
  • If NARS or Charlotte Tilbury luxe cosmetics are too costly, you will find beautiful colors and uncompromising quality from the likes of Maybelline (began in 1915), L'Oreal (started in 1909) and Revlon (launched in 1932), all brands with 80+ years of beauty experience, yet sold at your local drugstore. You can bet your budget, they get it right!
When on a budget, I stick with the tried and true -- businesses who have made a certain thing forever.

Established industry pros don't operate like flushes in a pan. I notice they tend to offer stellar quality items at affordable price points. You can forgo a few bells and whistles without sacrificing overall product expertise. All the essentials that make the goods worth buying tend to be there. Every purchase need not be top of the line, but articles should serve their purpose and last. Expect a brand whose name is synonymous with a specific product to deliver. Quite often for less! When having to budget, you are rarely disappointed. 
Photo: 123RF

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