Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Diptyque Toiletries Are Exquisite

Despite the friendly staff and comfortable, clean setting, hotel life minus the vacation is idiotic. Nonetheless, there are several perks that come in small bottles:

Each morning the hotel dispenses mini Diptyque shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and lotion. Sourire jusqu'aux oreilles! Perhaps Diptyque is best known for its high end scented candles, which are pleasant and never overpowering. Just like its subtle aromatic candles, the French retailer's toiletries are exquisite. Let's take a closer look:

1) Shampooing Shampoo - The shampoo, as well as, conditioner and skin gel have notes of bergamot, green mandarins, peppermint and neroli. Each is very clean smelling and gentle. The shampoo thoroughly cleans all hair types.

2) Apres-Shampooing conditioner - The conditioner adds moisture and shine to every hair type. It tames without weighing tresses down.

3) Gel Lavant Shower Gel - A multi-tacker: In addition to fresh shower gel, I use it to hand wash a piece of clothing in a hotel sink. Gentler on my hands then Woolite or dish washing liquid: Add a squirt to hot water; soak the article until the water cools to lukewarm; rub a bit and raise. Hang overnight to dry. 

4) Lait Fris Fresh Lotion for the Body - I wanted to love this product too, but no. It smells musky and cheap like dollar store lotion; and instead of moisturizing my skin, it feels tight and dry. Pass!

Squeezing the luxurious products out of their bottles is not easy (requiring two hands), but worth the effort! Fabulous beauty finds!

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Meet Living Coral The Trendy Color For 2019

From the pages of magazines like Elle, a darling room in Living Coral.
Pantone, an authority of global color, has named Living Coral the hot new hue for 2019. Each year they make a prediction by studying fashion trends, new technologies and lifestyle areas, such as art, music, travel and the Internet.
Photo: CNN
Living Coral is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2019. While the shade may look more pink in nature, the company describes it as “an animated, life-affirming shade of orange, with golden undertones.”
Photo: Pantone
Expect to see this warm, nurturing color (in nature found in coral reefs) everywhere (in fashion, makeup and home decor). 
For fashionistas with deep pockets: Chanel's signiture Double Flap bags come in Living Coral this year. I saw it passing the shop. How à la mode, no!?

If your skin tone is fair like mine, you probably can't wear it too close to your face as it will wash you out. (The same applies to lime green.) However, you can accessorize it into your wardrobe with the addition of a scarf, or as an accent color in a top, trousers or layering piece. Lucky dark and golden skin tones can have mindless fun in Living Coral.
It's bright and cheery, but in my humble opinion, the shade still works as a calm neutral. I love it as a pop of color to the room, as a single wall above. What say you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Queen Victoria's 9 Children Over The Years

My collage of miniature paintings of Queen Victoria's 9 children from eldest to youngest: Victoria (Vicky), Albert Edward (Bertie), Alice, Alfred (Affie), Helena (Lenchen), Louise (Loosy), Queen Victoria holding Arthur, Leopold (Leo) and Beatrice (Baby). The miniatures of the children were gifts Prince Albert started giving to Queen Victoria.

Many of my readers know I am a history buff. At the moment I'm reading biographies on Queen Victoria's 9 children, one by one. As figures in history and personalities, I like them very much. Yes, they were privileged, but so are we by virtue of living in the 21st century. Overall, the Queen instilled benevolence in her royal children. Each offspring had a strong sense of duty and was devoted to living a life of greater purpose.
From The Royal Collection here

Would you like to see a few images of Queen Victoria's children over the years? If yes ... let's begin with a photograph that was taken for the purpose of connecting with the British public (i.e. her subjects):  

The family portrait was taken at Osbourne in May, 1857, shortly after the Queen's last child, Princess Beatrice, was born. It is followed by a bulletin of the family after a sad event.

The above collage shows Queen Victoria and her children mourning the death of their husband and father, Prince Albert, who died of what historians now think was Crohn's disease on December 14, 1861.

The 9 siblings as children:

In order of their births: Victoria, the Princess Royal, 1840; Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, 1841; Princess Alice, 1843; Prince Alfred, 1844; Princess Helena, 1846; Princess Louise, 1848; Prince Arthur, 1850; Prince Leopold, 1853; and Princess Beatrice, 1857.

And later as adults:

Victoria, the Princess Royal became the Crown Princess of Prussia and later German Empress after marrying Crown Prince Frederick; Edward VII of Great Britain reigned from 1901 - 1910. He married Princess Alexandra (Alix) of Denmark; Alice became the Grand Duchess of Hesse and of the Rhine after marrying Prince Louis of Hesse; Alfred became the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as, Duke of Saxe-Colburg-Gotha by inheriting his father's duchy from his (legitimate) childless uncle, Duke Ernst II, who was Prince Albert's older brother. Prince Alfred married Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, Tzar Alexander II's only surviving daughter. Helena took on the title Princess of Schleswig-Holstein after her marriage to Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Louise became the eventual Duchess of Argyll after marrying aristocrat (and commoner) John Campbell, the Marquis of Lorne and 9th Duke of Argyll; Arthur became the Duke of Connaught and Stratearn. He married Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia; Leopold became the Duke of Albany, as well as, married Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pymount; and youngest child, Beatrice, became a Princess of Battenberg after marrying Prince Henry of Battenberg.
Another collage of Queen Victoria's adult children from Facebook, which I favor since the person who put it together took time to find flattering photos of them around the same age. Not always easy!
Soon after Queen Victoria's and Prince Albert's children married into many of the ruling houses of Europe, they had children (i.e. princes and princesses) of their own. Here's a bonus photo of all Queen Victoria's grandchildren, once again listed from eldest to youngest, in order of their births:

Wilhelm of Prussia (called Willy and William in the family, later Kaiser Wilhelm II), Charlotte of Prussia (at times called Charley), Henry of Prussia, Victoria of Hesse and of the Rhine (the UK's Prince Phillip's grandmother), Albert Victor of Wales, (called Eddy), Sigismund of Prussia, Elisabeth of Hesse (called Ella), George (later Britain's King George V), Victoria of Prussia, (called Moretta in the family), Irene of Hesse, Louise of Wales, Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein (called Christie), Waldemar of Prussia (called Waldie), Victoria of Wales (called Toria), Ernest of Hesse (called Ernie), Albert of Schleswig-Holstein (called Abbie), Maud of Wales (later became the Queen Consort of Norway), Sophie of Prussia (called Sossy, later became the Queen Consort of Greece), Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (called Thora), Frederick (called Frittie of Hesse), Margaret of Prussia (called Mossy), Alix of Hesse (later became the Empress Alexandra of Russia), Marie-Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, Marie of Hesse (called May), Alfred of Edinburgh and Saxe-Colberg-Gortha (called Young Affie), Marie of Edinburgh and S-C-G (called Missy and later became the Queen Consort of Romania), Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and S-C-G (called Ducky, later became the Grand Duchess of Hesse, then after her 2nd marriage a Grand Duchess of Russia), Alexandra of Edinburgh and S-C-G (called Sandra), Margaret of Connaught (called Daisy, later became the Crown Princess of Sweden), Young Arthur of Connaught, Alice of Albany, Beatrice of Edinburgh and S-C-G (called Baby Bee), Charles Edward of Albany (called Charley, then Karl in German in the wake of inheriting the S-C-G duchy from his Uncle Alfred (after Young Alfred, an only son, died tragically), Patricia of Connaught (called Patsy), Alexander of Battenberg (called Drino and after 1917 Lord Mountbatten by edict of George V), Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (called Ena, who became the Queen Consort of Spain), Leopold of Battenberg (called Lord Mountbatten after 1917 by edict of George V) and Maurice of Battenberg.
Affie, Helena and Alice
I hope you have enjoyed going back in history with me to the era of Queen Victoria. Feel free to search the blog (the "Search Box" is upper left and the "Blog Archive" is on the right) for more on Queen Victoria and her family. I've linked 4 of (several) blogs below. Many people cite Princess Louise as a favorite, so here's her link

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hotel Survival Goodies

Hotels can't compete with a home and are not much fun sans the vacation. Plus hotel meals and snacks are expensive!

And too, being separated from all one's stuff is tremendously disorienting. Jeepers! Many of the things a displaced person needs to carry on with life are missing and not at one's disposal. 

Below are 3 things to help make hotel life easier thereby turning disorder (um, chaos) into order: 

1) Plastic Storage Bags With Sliders (see the above image ) - Truly the most vital item on the list! I find the sandwich size bags the most useful in separating and organizing toiletries; snacks; plastic utensils; and computer/phone device cords. In addition, I have two large Plastic Bags With Sliders for big items like my night shirt, which I slip inside the bag before putting away in a closet; and for dirty clothes. Bags with the slider-close work better then zip lock bags without sliders (because there are no tracks to line up). Moreover, see-through plastic bags keep me from going batty guessing what's inside of each one. I don't have to open transparent bags to see contains. What's more, I like to move them aside so the hotel maids have an easier time cleaning.
2) Targus Back Pack - This happens to be my backpack, but any backpack with lots of organizing pockets and compartments will do. You can carry devices, notes, receipts and essentials you normally leave at home, but can't do without while you are homeless. And ... hands free, heck yeah!
Snacks and plastic utensils in a Slide-Close sandwich bag.
3) Pure Protein Bars, Cliff Bars and Nick's Turkey Sticks - Easy and inexpensive snacks that won't spoil without refrigeration. In order listed, the snacks have {P.P.B.} 20 grams; {C.B.} 10-11 grams (depending on flavor) and {N.T.S.} 10 grams of protein each. As you can see, I store them inside their own duffel-style bag to keep them organized and easy to grab.

The hotel, which isn't cheap, provides water upon demand, but unfortunately no complimentary coffee.😱 Many hotels have a station for complimentary coffee and tea. If only this one did! It would let guests drink a cup: 1) without room service; 2) going out to fetch it before showering; or 3) waiting until we leave for work to find it. Me. Need. Morning. Coffee. First-thing. After. Waking! A relatively cheap perk for a nice hotel (with a most helpful, friendly staff!). Still I'm grateful to be here during a challenging time. 

Update: A 2nd front desk employee (the 1st didn't know; it isn't advertized) said coffee is offered in the lobby from 5:30 am - 8:30 am. Good news, but why not keep it filled and up until the afternoon? I went down at 8:15 am to pour the last cup out of a single urn.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

There's No Place Like Home

Well readers, the thing I feared most happened. The upstairs tenant burned her apartment down with her frequent smoking after midnight. THE SAVVY SHOPPER is no place for negativity, but I happen to mention my great worry here. I've been trying to get board members and management to address the problem since the tenant moved in. No one did, and now the entire building is affected. The fire totalled her apartment; damaged the hallways of her floor and ours, as well as, other areas of the building. A resident on the 17th floor said heavy black smoke clouded up her hallway. Tenants on the floor where the fire began couldn't get out of their apartments due to flames and stepped out on their balconies thinking they were going to die. It was so hot in the hallway, the locks on front doors of adjacent apartments had to be smashed open by firemen to ensure everyone got out. Soot is everywhere. 

The entire building has major water damage; the worry of mold; walls needing replacing; the loss of cooking gas and use of our laundromat (possibly for one year). All 3 elevators stopped running, so they require repairs. The sprinkler system and smoke detectors in the hallways did not go off, slapping the building with violations from the City. It turns out the main door to enter our building was deemed by the fire department to be too heavy, yet another violation.

Word is the tenant used a hookah; and many bottles of liquor were removed from her apartment. I had to go to YouTube to learn what a hookah is. According to this video ''a typical hookah smoking session involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke of a single cigarette." Certainly, it is a fire hazard and has no place in a family dwelling, much less when smoked at ridiculous hours during times working people are asleep and venerable. So the fact the fire occurred about midnight is no surprise.

Other tenants say the fire starter's hallway always reeked of smoke, and the smell was very intense in my apartment for years (consistently after midnight; 3 am; 5 am; 6 am), the reason I desired mediation. When I spoke to one board member to get help, I was told to buy "covers" for my electric sockets. When I see this board member, should I say I'm sorry I did not buy those suggested "shields?"

Eighteen fire trucks arrived, and the Red Cross knocked on my door to check on me. Like waterfalls, water streamed down my walls in 4 areas all night long. At one point the super came to our floor, and I poked my head out in a panic because the water came down faster than it could be mopped up, flooding the floors. His puzzling response: "Debra, water doesn't run up walls ... I'm not cleaning it up for you," -- not the issue, by the way, it was pouring down too fast to be mopped up. 
Plus, I've never asked him to do anything beyond changing a rubber washer to stop a leaky faucet, which I ask of our handyman. Both always come up together. (A neighbor remarked, "The two are joined at the hip.") If not the super, who do you tell? In the past when a tenant on 15 flooded floors of our building, the handyman came around with a water vacuum. Not this time.

Meanwhile I'm displaced while my home is being treated by the fire restoration company. My dear readers, I thought I should tell you why it could be a while before I am back to regular blogging.

Thankfully, nobody died in the fire. Clearly, smoking, not to mention with a hookah in a high-rise, is insane!

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Sabra Hummus Is The Best

In recent years I stopped buying not only processed food (usually found in the middle aisles of the supermarket) but many pre-made (and packaged) foods. Usually I make my own yogurt, soups, breakfast cereal and bars and microwave popcorn. I have learned to make cakes and pie crust from stratch too. What's more, Kombucha and gourmet olives (I add vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, hot pepper flakes and spices to a Mason jar with cans of black olives that I often buy 3 cans for $5 at the supermarket) are the latest food items I make and flavor myself. That way you and I control the salt, sugar and quality of ingredients. We also pay less, but get more!

Nonethess, the one food item I continue to buy already made is hummus. My favorite is the Sabra Supremely Spicy Hummus -- too hot for some palates. No worries there are other less spicy choices also.

How do I decide between homemade and already-made? When I can't make something cheaper or better than the manufacturer, I buy it. Sesame seed paste is an expenisve ingredient in hummus. I can't find it for less. By comparison ready-made hummus, at $5 for 17 ounces, is cheap! Time is money. Buying it also gets me out of the kitchen.

On the other hand, gourmet olives and Kombucha are expensive; while cans of black olives, as well as, black and green tea (used to make kombucha) are cheap and the steps are few!

What ready made food(s) do you like to buy?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Photo: NBC: Times Square Countdown to the New Year
Happy New Year 2019!🎉 Tonight millions of people are gathered in Times Square to watch the Ball Drop undetered by a heavy rainstorm! And that is really saying something as no umbrellas are allowed.
Photo: Lighting Science
The first Ball Drop occurred in 1907, which makes 2019 the 112th time it kicks off The New Year. Today's Times Square ball is LED lighting, and it stays up all year around so visitors can see the ball whenever they come to Times Square.
People standing shoulder to shoulder in a downpour.
Personally, I stay away from the Ball Drop on New Year's Eve, not because of the crowd (it's thrilling!); but nowadays for safety, too many of the cross streets close and you must 
arrive at 3 pm - 4 pm in order to get a spot, which means hours standing in Times Square! And, there are no bathrooms! So like many of you, I like to watch the excitment on screen elsewhere (with snacks, water and champaign)!
Photo: NBC: Another angle of the countdown in Times Square
In 2001, I went to a Broadway play and out to dinner -- about 9 blocks away from the Ball Drop -- close enough on New Year's Eve! I like the vibes of being near Time Square, if not in the thick of it.🙂 And, I also enjoy staying home, a cozy place to be: After toasting The New Year, traveling from the couch to bed so late at night is an easy commute. Isn't it?
Life is a continuum! Whatever 2018 lacked, let's strive to fill the _____ void this year. May you continue to grow and improve. Get smarter. Get busy. Get involved! Stay positive. 2019 is the year to think outside and expand your box. Here's to the future!!🎈 
Happy New Year People!

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