Thursday, January 30, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day To You

Give us some of your candy little bear.😍
Perhaps it's the vivid red color, or falling in mid-February with not much else to compete with it that's appealing, but getting yourself a little treat for Valentine’s Day seems like a great idea, no?

If you work and save up your money, why not be good to yourself once in a while? If I don't crave chocolate on any other day, I will succumb to temptation on Valentine's Day. And when I receive gifts nowadays, they often aren't exactly what I'd pick for myself, so why not get a little something for myself that is precisely what I want? See how easy it is to justify buying yourself a gift? xoxo

A large department store should help us find the right something. The following selection is available at Macy's, both in-store and online:
An assortment of chocolate covered Oreos, or a box of  Godiva chocolates that you can share with family and friends.

Fine jewelry to match your budget and tastes ... something you've wanted for a long time! Pearls are always lovely and affordable!

There is no shortage of cute hearts whether it is fine, or Kate Spade fashion jewelry. A Macy's sale makes them budget friendly, and any of the choices can be worn beyond Valentine's Day.

Lancome Monsieur Big Eyeshadow Palette, or Borghese 3-Piece If Lips Could Thrill Gloss Gift Set, if you are a makeup maven.

I tend to be very practical when buying things for myself, even a splurge, yet I don't enjoy it any less! Sometimes we need a new pair of flats for our wardrobe, or a warm cashmere wrap that endures, or Ugg slides to keep our feet warm around the house. A useful article to fill a need brings much joy!

These last 2 items: a Kate Spade New York Watch and Deny Designs Wonder Forest Kiss Lips Coffee Mug are super adorable! Fun to wear, or use every day of the week. Daily mood lifers, it's unlikely you'll get tired of either!

Don't hesitate this Valentine's Day to get a little something for yourself!

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Monday, January 27, 2020

The Beauty of Essential Oils

Photo: Essentialoilsworkshop101
Lots of beauty and wellness products with expensive price tags contain essential oils. But you can buy pure essential oils for less and make your own remedies! Improve your well being or looks, cheaply and naturally, by adding a few drops to products you already use! According to Energy Times (and backed up by WebMD + other sources), here are 5+ essential oils with 5 ways to use them:

1) Evening Primrose oil - Add a few drops to your shampoo to thicken your hair ... or for a richer potion, add 3 drops to whipped egg whites to make a hair mask. Also adding drops of lavender oil conditions your hair and scalp. Why it works: Evening Primrose is rich in omega 9 and fatty acids, which nourishes follicles to stimulate hair growth. Lavender has over 100 constituentsClick WebMD here for a list of essential oils to benefit hair.

Photo: naturalingredientsusa
2) Tea Tree oil - Add a couple of drops to your shampoo to treat dandruff. Why it works: Tea Tree oil contains terpinen-4-ol, a powerful anti-inflammatory and dandruff fighter.

3) Eucalyptus oil and 4) Rose Oil - Add a few drops of each to your face cleanser to soothe and prevent wrinkles. Why they work: Eucalptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties that slows down aging, and rose oil improves the texture of skin. Rose oil can also be added to skin moisturizers. {Since the age of 14, I've used Noxema skin cream to clean my face. It turns out Noxema contains eucalyptus oil and camphor, 2 anti-inflammatories.}

5) Lavender oil - Mix 2 - 3 drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil (such as almond, olive, grapeseed, or jojoba) and apply to your temples or behind your ears to promote sleep. Or put drops of lavender oil on a handkerchief to slip inside your pillowcase to sleep more soundly. Why it works: The aroma sends a message to your brain and central nervous system that it's time for rest and sleep. (Other essential oils with similar slumber inducing powers include: 6) Sandalwood, 7) Bergamot, 8) Frankincense and 9) Chamomile. On the other hand 10) Rosemary oil has the opposite effect - its aroma will stimulate and wake you up if mixed with water and sprayed in the air. A follow up in the morning!)
Photo: indiamart
Sometimes people think natural remedies can do no harm. False! Like everything else, you must use them correctly. WebMD has several dos and don'ts to consider. As helpful as essential oils are, they are too concentrated to rub directly onto your skin without carrier oils. Adding drops to shampoo, face cleanser, lotion or cream dilutes their potency. Know: stronger isn't better. The right amount is all it takes to do a job. Also if you take prescription medicine, always check with your doctor before trying natural treatments, so he/she can flag potential drug interactions.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

T. J. Maxx Beauty Haul

T. J. Maxx, where I find top-notch beauty brands for less, spoils me. Pricey designer names arrive at the retailer greatly reduced! Steals letting you experiment and take a risk. The following 5 items are bargains and happy discoveries, ones I will buy again:

1. Clarins Joli Rouge - (AboveCreamy moisturizing long-wearing lipstick in a sheer satin finish. I have it in soft berry - balm-like with subtle yet lasting color - Reduced to $6.
2. Azure Hemp & Retinol Moisturizing Nourishing Sleep Mask - From Korea, a country with an ultra advanced beauty market. This night cream is formulated from 100% organic hemp seed oil, retinol, hyaluronic acid, collagen, cucumber fruit extract, vitamin B3, Shea butter oil and vitamin B5, the usual suspects in anti-aging skin creams, such as Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Facial Moisturizer, selling for $25 - $30 a jar. At $5.99, Azure's anti-aging moisturizing cream is a must buy!
3. SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Purifying & Hydrating In-Shower Styler - With green coconut, white tea and lemon balm, it's an in-shower styler that infuses essential nutrients to my locks for the perfect wash and go style. As it happens I like to add a little extra conditioner to my hair during the winter months and with this one, perhaps I can forgo heat since it's created to give your hair body and texture without blow drying. Plus, it's made to treat oily roots and dry ends alike, thereby adding extra conditioning without a greasy look. Reduced to $3.
4. and 5. SheaMoisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Nourish & Silken Shampoo and Conditioner - The entire line of SheaMoisture products in every formula is brilliant. Peace Rose is a scent I love! This is a no brainer ... come home with me at $5.99 each. 

Extra hair tips: According to Energy Times here's how to winterize your hair: 1) Rub coconut oil into your hair and leave it wrapped in a towel for an hour; 2) Sleep on a satin pillowcase to stop breakage; 3) Message your scalp to increase blood flow; 4) Eat a healthy diet; and 5) Only wash your hair twice a week (not possible for straight hair like mine, but for curly!).
5. Laura Geller Iconic Baked Sculpting Lipstick - Creamy and moisturizing lipstick with lasting color. T. J. Maxx introduced me to this beauty brand as I had not before come across Laura Geller. The texture, the consistency of the makeup (lipstick, cover stick, power) is fantastic! Lovely weighty packaging containing a generous amount of product to boot! Cost: $3.99.💖

I go to T. J. Maxx about once a week. These beauty items were bought on multiple, yet recent trips. (I tend to be an under buyer ... always good to be.🙂) The stock is ever changing, useful and cheap, compared to department stores and boutiques. If you don't need an item yesterday, it eventually shows up on the retailer's shelves. Time and money well spent!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

A Difference In Style: Classic, High fashion And Trendy

1, 2 or 3 ... Guess Scarlett's style?
Clearly there are style differences between classic, high fashion and trendy. You know it when you see it, but how do you define them?

In a nutshell ... and using photos from the same event, the Golden Globes 2020, let's explore a few differences between the 3 styles. Think of the following as your cheat sheet:

Go here to see the photo credits from CNN Style of the Golden Globe dresses used as examples.

1. Classic style is timeless. Simple, elegant, understated, abiding. The look has a lasting quality that never dates, or goes out of style. A dress you could wear in 1950 or 2020.

2. High fashion style is custom-made-and fitted. Traditionally high fashion, or haute couture is expensive. One of a kind garments hand stitched using the finest fabrics. Nowadays they are the dresses you often see on a runway, or television awards' show. They are meant to be noticed or to surprise, yet often you can't wear the dresses anywhere else as they are impractical, and as a society, we've become very practical. Frequently the fun just doesn't transfer off the runway.


Go here for photo credits and to see all the Golden Globe after party dresses.
3. Trendy style is what's popular today, the latest fad, what collectively everybody is wearing for a duration of time. The up-to-the-minute mode can range from style [mini or maxi dresses, skinny jeans] and quirkiness [underwear as outerwear, or short pants] to fabric [faux fur, velvet, lycra], and color [4054 classic blue in 2020], or patterns [like Royal Stuart, Prince of Wales, and Houndstooth plaids].


At times the styles can overlap ... and how fabulous when they do! You can be on trend and still classic, or classic with a touch of high fashion. Personally I strive for it!! Take some lessons from the runway and make a style your own. Isn't fashion a blast!

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Buy Used Books

While it's impossible to eliminate all waste we can be kinder to Mother Nature by being mindful; recycling; and embracing minimalism. Let's consider some eco-friendly ways to buy and read books.

As much as possible I try to borrow books from the library. But sometimes libraries comb their shelves of out-of-print history books, so I buy 2nd hand books and have ordered a few e-books (for recent publications) to read on my iPad. Absolutely I understand how thumbing through the pages of a book is favored, yet equally great is taking your ebooks with you anywhere to read. So consider buying a few ebooks.

Buying 2nd hand books saves trees! And, the books I received are in very good condition, often in like-new condition, costing only a few bucks compared to the $25 - $30 for new books.

Two outstanding websites to get used books from are: Discoverybooks and Thriftybooks. I've ordered hardbacks and paperbacks from each place, and you can't go wrong! I hope after I let the cat out of the bag, there will still be good books left for me to buy!🙂

The money raised by Discoverybooks and Thriftybooks goes to support good causes. Another advantage is you can often find hard-to-get out-of-print books on both websites. Moreover, when you must declutter your home, you've only spent a few dollars on the books you are ready to donate to other readers.

Another great place to buy used books, of course, is on Amazon, as the mega retailer also offers used books from various sellers, including far-away libraries (who are combing their shelves.) And speaking of libraries, my local branch accepts book donations, as well as, sells old books. So be sure to check with your branch libaries.

Buying used books is a win, win and THE SAVVY SHOPPER thing to do! Please add any other substainable ways to read books under comments.📚

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Fancy Shaped Diamonds

As a young girl I never dreamed of, nor planned my wedding as some women claim they did, but I always liked jewelry and when asked by schoolmates what kind of ring I'd want, without hesitation answered: a big one, Tiffany setting! That would be at least a 2 carat round diamond. At least!😍 

Well, here I am years later, and it is still my favorite setting. Perhaps it was because I saw my mother's round 1 carat setting ... only I wanted a huge rock. When dreaming, there is nothing wrong with magnifying a desire. Be true to yourself in your dreams! And go from there. Know what you want, then adjust to what you can have. (Hey I've coined a new saying and will add it on top: Be a dreamer, then a realist!😁)
Diamond shapes: round, Asscher, cushion, emerald, heart, marquise, oval, pear, princess and radiant
As it turns out, round diamonds have the most sparkle of all the shapes. Little did I know, the shape of a diamond effects price. Round diamonds are the most expensive due to popularity, higher manufacturing costs and their lovely brilliance, according to Blue Nile, as well as, other jewelers. In order to achieve the fire and brilliance of a round shaped diamond, a large portion of the rough stone must be cut away. A round shape loses the most "rough" of any of the possible shapes, and it takes more time and skill to cut a perfect round diamond, thus adding to the expense.
All other diamonds are called fancy shaped diamonds. They include Asscher, cushion, emerald, heart, marquise, oval, pear, princess and radiant. A cutter can study a rough diamond to determine what is the best shape, manipulating the "rough" to better accommodate a fancy shape. On the other hand, a round shape is the most perfectly symmetrical, requiring more precision and skill to create it.

While round diamonds are 25% higher in price for the same quality of stones, fancy shaped diamonds are not cheap either. They, too, are beautiful, brilliant and popular engagement rings with customers. And consider this ... if you desire the brilliance of a round diamond for less, a cushion shaped diamond comes close with a lower price tag. So you can afford a bigger diamond by being a bit flexible with shape, color and clarity. Moreover, marquise and heart shaped diamonds are gorgeously different! Do you agree? And, do you have a favorite diamond shape?
The brilliance and fire of diamonds.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Chicken Fried Dishes Using My Breadcrumbs

Chicken Fried Steak at Cracker Barrel
It's not that I don't enjoy cooking or eating, but we must do it every day! The rigmarole of buying food; putting it away; cooking; and the cleanup is time consuming. If we didn't have to eat, we'd save a heap of time each week. How would you spend it? 

Furthermore, I get tired of my own cooking! That's why I try and post new recipes on THE SAVVY SHOPPER. Like you, I can return here, myself, to see how to make them again.😁

My latest dinners are pan fried Chicken Breasts Thin Sliced and Chicken Fried Steak -- fast, delicious and easy to make, therefore worth sharing! (I won't lie, sometimes what the supermarket puts on sale inspires my week of dinners. To switch up your diet, it's as good of a system of meal planning as any other.😄🤣)

Before we start, let's make the "breadcrumbs" --

Debra's Breadcrumbs


1.5 cups of uncooked oatmeal
spices to taste. I use: Zataratin's Creole Seasoning; dried garlic, oregano, turns of the black pepper mill, parsley, rosemary, thyme, a dash of the nutmeg.


Pulse together in a food processor.

Dump into a shallow dish to coat your meats. Feel free to use real breadcrumbs if you buy them. I don't because I'm lazy. I don't want another food item to restock, and that's the reason I started making my own ''breadcrumbs" with uncooked oatmeal, and hey, it works! (If you are one step lazier than me, you can simply season all-purpose flour as meat coating. Still edible, it works too.)

Here is how I use my oatmeal breadcrumbs:

Pan Fried Chicken Breast, Thin Sliced


3 - 4 thin chicken slices per person
spicy brown mustard
extra virgin olive oil
Photo of Chicken breast: Food Network


1) Brush your frying pan with a coating of olive oil and a couple pads of butter. The butter is for flavor. Only a coating of oil is needed to "fry" food. I usually turn the heat on low while I prepare the chicken, then turn the heat up to let it get hot before dropping the breaded chicken slices into the pan.

2) Rub the mustard on both sides of the thin raw chicken slices; dip both sides in the breadcrumbs and lay them in a hot frying pan to brown.

3) I reduce the heat to medium, put a lid on the chicken and cook it for 3 - 5 minutes on both sides. When the chicken turns from pink to white, it's done. (While you could bake this dish in the oven, I don't since the chicken cooks in minutes on a stove top.) 


Ground beef was also on sale at my supermarket leading to the 2nd recipe:

Chicken Fried Steak (Using Ground Beef)
Photo of chicken fried steak: Taste of Home


For the "steak" --
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
a dash of Creole seasoning (or just salt and pepper, your choice)
1 scrambled egg
My breadcrumbs

For the gravy --
2 - 3 tablespoons of pan drippings and all the brown ground beef bits 
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 small beef or chicken bouillon
12 turns of the black pepper mill
a dash of dried celery
a dash of dried garlic

Directions for the "steak:"

1) Combine the ground beef with Worcestershire sauce and season to taste. Form into patties.

2) Triple dip into the egg and my breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess each time before dipping again -- this will make it stick and not drop off creating bare spots while frying.

3) Lay in a hot pan brushed with olive oil. You don't need to deep fry the "steaks," just use enough olive oil to coat the pan.

4) I cover my pan with a lid and let it cook on medium heat, flipping the patties over when the first side is golden brown. Repeat on the side  side.

Directions to make the gravy:

1) Cook 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour, whisking it into the pan drippings and ground beef bits. Cook for a couple of minutes and continue stirring.

Image result for pepper"2) Add the milk and seasonings and stir the mixture until it thickens. 

Often tenderized cubed beef is used to make chicken fried steak, but lean ground beef is easy to buy, make and works. Convenience rules!

The origin of chicken fried steak is sometimes attributed to the Texas town of Lamesa, brought over by German immigrants who modified the recipe from wiener schnitzel. Although interchangeable in many restaurants with country fried steak, traditional chicken fried steak is crispy and served with a milk peppery gravy, while traditional country fried steak soaks in a pan of brown gravy and onions. Regionally, this isn't always followed. Country fried steak is sometimes also served with a milk peppery gravy. The dishes have a slight variation [i.e., more crispy with milk gravy vs. soaked in brown gravy with onions ... but often a milk gravy too] using nearly the same ingredients. Enjoy your fast, stick-to-your ribs and yet still healthy dinner!
Country fried steak at Cracker Barrel

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

T-Fal Ingenio Induction Pan Set

In the world, there are Beyounce and Jay-Z, and then there are the rest of us.
Luckily I have a good amount of storage space in my kitchen, but can we ever have enough? Even in a small apartment, I need the same amount of stuff, namely cooking tools as other home cooks to make dinner.

Here are the pots and pans I'd like to own! They are pricey, yes, but they are designed to save space by nestling into one another. Plus, the handles are detachable; and they are multi-taskers. You can (1) cook and bake in them; (2) put them on the table to serve your food; and then after the meal (3) cover and store your leftovers in the refrigerator. Nice!

If I were starting out, I'd buy them. The handles of my pots and pans are spacehogs! As it is, I'm too DARN cheap to spend the nearly $200 to re-buy pots and pans when I have decent cookware. On the other hand, should you need a new set: The T-fal 13 piece set with lids and handles is available in a non-stick coating (and in the UK) stainless steel. 

The cookware sizes are: 
    1 x 16 cm Saucepan 
    1 x 20 cm Saucepan 
    1 x 22 cm Frying pan 
    1 x 28 cm Frying pan
    1 x 24 cm Saute pan 1 x 26 cm Wok 
    1 x 16 cm Glass lid 
    1 x 20 cm Glass lid 
    1 x 26 cm Glass lid 
    1 x 16 cm Plastic lid 
    1 x 20 cm Plastic lid 
    2 x Bakelite handles

    IMHO, the sizes in the set are all you really need to prepare meals. Movever, you save a few bucks, but mostly space, by not having to buy separate serving dishes, or refrigerator storage containers.

    If saving space is not your main issue, I highly recommend you buy the pots and pans you need, separately, from T. J. Maxx (as opposed to buying sets) -- where you will find professional quality cookware cheap! 
    Make sure the handles of the pots an pans you select do not take up much space. As a young home cook, I didn't consider the space required by certain types of handles. Why don't all manufacturers design their cookware with compact handles? Just look at the T-Fal brand to see what is possible!

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