Thursday, April 30, 2020

Olay's Because Of You Gift Set

Sometimes beauty companies offer their skin care lines at a "special price" in the form of a beauty gift set. At times it's a bargain for a brand you long to try. The Olay "Because of You" Gift Set retails for $159. Olay is offering 5 products for $98.99 here. As a Savvy Shopper looking for the best deal, should you buy it? 

Surprisingly my answer is no, or probably not ... unless you simply want a lovely gift set to make someone you know happy who would benefit from the introduction to good skincare. And ... you don't wish to put a gift set together yourself. However, for value you can get the Olay beauty items for lower price points at Walmart, Target and drugstores (which tend to sell them for less ... before adding their own promotions). Always compare prices to make sure you aren't paying more for beauty products on a retailer's own website. Too often Olay's skin care lotions, creams and treatments are higher when purchased directly on the Olay website.

A 2nd reason not to buy Olay's Because Of You Gift Set is: You are paying for multiple products you may not want or use. So always exaime what's in a retailer's collection: In the above gift set, there are 2 face creams, but do you need both? Probably not as they do much the same things -- moisturize the skin on your face -- with one of them targeted to fight aging. So if you happen to be younger and winkle-free, you should buy the red jar (Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, Fragrance Free1.7 oz); and as you age you can switch to the purple formula (Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer​, 1.7 oz) to help treat those developing lines and wrinkles.🙁←me. 

What's more, many people can use one cream for their face and under their eyes. Therefore only if your under eye skin is sensitive, do you need to spend another $25 for a separate eye cream.

The other 2 products in the kit are bonuses. The Olay Shine Control Sun SPF 35, 1.3 oz offers excellect sun protection to prevent aging, but I would think about buying it solo on sale to try it; and the Overnight Brightening Gel Mask, 1.7 oz is great for pampering and brightening the skin if you, in fact, need it.

So the verdict is: The set contains top-notch skincare; nonetheless you get a better deal by buying only the products you need elsewhere for less than $100. While you're not being ripped off, the 5  jars of products (at $20 each) is not must of a reduction. It's not a steal!

Sorry Olay ... know that I still love you!

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Monday, April 27, 2020

Glitter Shoes For A Pick Me Up

Bottega Veneta Almond Leather Glitter Pumps here. You know what makes these shoes look chic instead of nerdy? The glitter!!
If you read my blog regularly you may notice that I like glitter and shinny things. On a dark background, such as black or navy blue, rhinstones (or the more costly crystals if you can afford them) pop to jazz up, not only your shoes, but your entire outfit. I have 2 pairs of high heels accented with rhinestones that I often wear paired with a little black dress to attend galas. Dressy, fun and timeless!

So today let's do a quick roundup of glitter shoes in various shoe styles:

Miu Miu Crystal Heel Patent Pump (Returns in November)

Although the style changes slightly from year to year, top shoe designer Miu Miu launches their crystal heels every November (just in time for Christmas and New Year's parties, and it's become one of my holiday rituals to go into their flagship store on West 57th Street to admire them, but I can't bring myself to pay the 4-figures dollar amount for a pair. These are the shoes that would be in my wardrobe if I weren't too cheap to buy them! 
Skechers Double Up Eye Candy here
Now we will travel to the land of affordablilty ...  these equally pleasing  and casual shoes are more likely to be in my closet. You can buy them with a portion of one paycheck, or save up for a pair. Smart with pizazz.
Andy & Zoe Muffin Rhinestone Sneakers here in 6 colors here.
Shimmer smeakers in your favorite color to run weekend errands.
ASOS Design Fairgame Sandles here.
Dearm Pairs Ballet flats on Ebay here.
As you can see from fancy to casual, glitter can cover the whole shoe, or accent it with the choice of many colors to match your tastes and attire. 

Do you like things that glitter and shine?

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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Australian Anzac Biscuits

Photo: BakePlaySmile
Anzac biscuits (or cookies) are baked in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 (today) -- ANZAC Day -- to remember the 2 counties' joint Gallipoli landings during World War I. These were the biscuits the wivies of the troops baked and sent over to them. My blogging friend, Patricia of the Red Cardinal made me aware of them, and hopefully she will check my ingredients for authenticity (and correct them if needed):

Anzac Biscuits


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar (some recipes use regular white sugar)
1 cup quick cooking oats (or you could substitute old fashion -- 5-minute oats.)
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, soften
2 tablespoons golden syrup (In the USA, you'll have to make your own golden syrup, just click for how to make it.)

Optional: Not really authentic, but if you wish to press a few crushed walnuts into some of the cookies do!


1) Stir together the flour, baking soda and sugar.

2) Add the oats and coconut.

3) Next the wet ingredients: Toss in the soften butter and golden syrup. If the batter is dry add a few drops of hot water.

4) Use a tablespoon to dip out the batter and drop the cookies on a cookie sheet. You can flatten them with the spoon.

5) Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 - 20 minutes.

Happy ANZAC Day to Partrica and all my readers on the Southern hemisphere! Mmm, these Anzac cookies are keepers.

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pandemic Sheltering In Place Fashion

Uniqlo for crew-neck t-shirts here. Pair with a cardigan on cold days.
According to The Talk, an afternoon TV show, many people who are Sheltering in Place are not bothering to change out of their pajamas or sweats into regular clothes since they can't go to work. Not true of me. I rise to shower, wash my hair and get dressed each and every morning ... later than usual but still! Being clean and tidy (wearing clean coordinated clothes) lifts my spirits! I couldn't deal with feeling sloppy and dirty on top of riding out a pandemic! But since I have nowhere to go, I don't have to fuss much with my wardrobe and can wear the same things over, which I do. Who's here to see it? I bet my neighbors aren't taking notes if we happen to pass (spaced properly apart) in the lobby.

Perhaps it would be entertaining to see my pandemic uniform. Everything featured I'm wearing as I write the blog.
Aeries - cotton with a touch of spandex lightweight Chill leggings here.
I stick to casual, comfortable and easy to maintain attire. Sometimes I get wild and crazy by changing the color of my t-shirts! One day I'm Lady pink, the next day Bonnie blue bell and the day after Fire Engine Red Deb. Woo-hoo! June Cleaver had her pearls, but I live in sleek ballet flats! Whoopee!
Merrell Nubuck Inde Ballet flats - discontinued - but I hope Merrell brings back another ballet flat, as they have more support than many other brands. These are my indoor shoes. They don't have enough support on concrete, which leads to the next image. :) No link since it's discontinued - there are a few on Ebay.
Furthermore since rarely leaving home, I sometimes hand wash the leggings or t-shirts in Woolite, or dishwashing soap and hang them up in the bathroom to dry before bed. The less I have to go down to our common laundry room, the better. Being at home constantly, this bit of handwashing gives a gal a small sense of accomplishment. What is there to dooo next? Let me at it!
NAZAROO Shoe Insoles Arch Support Inserts are excellent to keep my high arches happy in my Merrel ballet flats. With them I should be able to turn them into outdoor shoes this summer. We'll see.
To be safe I wear two sets of shoes, one for inside and another for outdoors. I also spray the soles of my outdoor shoes with 3% hydrogen peroxide at the door to kill any possible virus, and sometimes the soles of my indoor shoes because I walk down the hallway in them to put trash in the dumpster. 

Once in a while to make myself happy, I put on a bracelet in my apartment. But I stopped wearing makeup and jewelry to go outside to buy groceries. I mean, why wear anything under a face mask? It would only get the mask dirty. And rings on fingers when you're forever worrying about Coronavirus and washing your hands? I think not!
Merrell Dassie - my outdoor to the supermarket shoes here.
To be honest, if we weren't all in the same boat, I couldn't bear staying home for so many weeks. Yet I can get through this challancing time knowing how EVERYONE all over the globe must do the same to fight this disease. Indeed, we are all in this together ... and some of us are very lucky to be sheltering in a comfortable home. It turns out the things we need are quite simple!

What are you wearing at home during this pandemic?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sheltering At Home Essentials

Photo: Napa Valley Register
In the New Year I aimed to turnover a new leaf: In lieu of stocking up on supplies, I vowed to buy one, plus one of common essentials like food, beauty and personal care items, or household cleaners. My reason was: Hey, I live 3 blocks from supermarkets and closer to drugstores, why should I continue to stock up as if I can't get to a store?

Well that was before COVID-19 hit us, and I'm definitely re-assessing the wisdom of that new course of action! My old habit will not change anytime soon!

For 2 months the following much needed items have been sold out everywhere ... and seemingly they don't get restocked. Thankfully having a small stash at home has saved my butt!:
Photo: Austin Cronicle

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol - I have 2.5 - 32 oz bottles
  • 3% hydrogen periode - 1 - 16 oz bottle
  • Clorex bleach - 1 - gallon bottle, 1 - quart bottle
  • toilet paper - 1 - pack of 12 mega rolls (=48 small rolls) + 3 - individual mega rolls from the old pack
  • 1 - 32 oz liquid soap and about 12 - bars of soap
  • about 6 - mini hand sanatizers to carry in my purse
Fortunately food has been easier to get. The supermarkets are sometimes out of stock of what you go for ... but you can make sustitutions and not starve. Moreover, what helped me before our pandemic started is: 1) knowing exacly what I like and need; 2) buying the biggest package available; and 3) usually restocking before I completely run out. So I had the following in my cupboard but sometimes see an empty grocery shelf now:
  • 64 oz bag of dry powered milk + part of the old bag
  • 5 lbs of unbeached all-purpose flour
  • half of a 5 lb bag of whole wheat flour
  • 4 lbs of sugar
  • eggs - 2 dozen - I know it sounds crazy but I often buy 2 dozen when they are $1.99 each, which I did right before the pandemic. In the refrigerator, they never go bad on me. Good for puddings, cakes, bread, egg drop soup, tuna salad, french toast and snacks. They get eaten! Now they rose to $5 a dozen, which I will dislike paying while being grateful to get them!
  • 4 - 16 oz boxes of whole wheat saltine crackers
  • 5 lbs total of extra sharp cheddar cheese (my favorite snack! I tend to buy on sale and let them age longer. Little did I know, it also sets you up good to ride out a pandemic!)
  • 5 cans of solid white tuna
    Photo: Duluth News Tribute
  • 2 cans of Alaska wild salmon (I should've bought 5 cans!)
  • 5 cans of sardines (because I don't rush to eat them!)
  • pasta - different shapes - long spaghetti, bow tie, rigatoni
  • Oatmeal - big Quaker (1 minute cooking) cylinder + a small cylinder (5 minute cooking)
  • other whole grains - Quinoa + rice
  • cans of tomaotoes + sauce
  • cans of kidney beans (for chili)
  •  2 - 16 oz bags of dried pinto beans + split peas
  • 1 - 3lb bag of cornmeal (I don't eat cornbread enough to buy a 5 lb bag.)
  • 2 L bottle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 - lb packages of butter
  • 4 - 13 oz Chock Full o' 'Nuts Coffee
  • wine and Champagne (delish with the cheddar and crackers)
  • dark chocolate + Kraft caramels + SweatTarts
As I'm sure you will agree, Sheltering at Home has been nooo picnic, but at least I have the basics to get me through it! See you, my lovelies, during ... and on the other side!

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Best Drugstore Anti-Aging Retinols

Let's do a roundup of the 5 best non-perscription anti-aging skin care products on the market. With Ulta and Sephora temporarly closed head to the aisles of your local drugstore. These are the brands recommended by doctors and beauty experts alike time and again. The 1st 4 choices are the best value. The last one is pricey -- perhaps to be saved up for -- yet has very powerful retinols, so I'm putting it on your radar. When T. J. Maxx reopens after the pandemic, you may find it there.

1) Neutrogena tops the list of countless dermatologists and beauty editors as the best anti-aging drugstore retinol available. You can't beat the price for a quality retinol. If starting with one product, I'd go for the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, the 4th in the image above. If you like it, add it's night cream (the 1st item) to layer on top of the serum. Containing a retinol complex, glucose and hyaluronic acid, the serum brightens your complexion and attacks stubborn lines and deep wrinkles by promoting skin turnover and the production of new collagen.
2) Revitalift Triple Power Concentrated Serum - If you only buy one anti-aging beauty product, it should always be serum, which has tiny molecules to penentrate deeper layers of skin. Add a moisturerizer on top of serum if your skin feels dry. L'Oreal is another solid beauty brand with great retinol power.

3) Olay Retinol 24 - Like all the brands featured here, Olay sells serum, moisturizer and eye serum. You only need the eye serum if your delicate skin under your eyes is so senitive it can't tolerate the regular serum or moisturizer. If you can use the same serum and cream for you face and eye area, save your money! No need to buy extra. Olay has an arsenal of retinols, B3 and peptides to treat fine lines and wrinkles.
4) RoC is another reliable brand making drugstore anti-aging skin potions containing retinol with antioxidants and peptides -- ingredients backed by science known to work. Start with RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Facial Serum and add what you wish. Personally I buy face serum and a moisturizer as essentials. I use other brands of products with sunscreen, but some customers prefer to buy all their products from the same retailer. It's a safe way of knowing one items ingredents won't cancel out another.
5) SkinCeutical Retinol 1.0 - Too strong for beginners, this retinol is for vetrans who have used retinols for a while. A night cream that treats the appearance of fine lines, winkles and discoloration, retinol 1.0 is the maximum strength. Its main ingredients include: Ceramidesshea butterherbal extractsretinolessential oilsalpha hydroxy acidsantioxidantsdimethicone.

So you have choice galore of retinol beauty products sold at the drugstore. Great quality without a perscription for less. Also different skin types have different needs. I will attach some links below to help you figure out what you want your skin products to address. Feel free to explore the beauty posts on the blog for even more information.

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Turn Your Soap Dishes Upside Down Hack

I have 3 soap dishes on the counter of my kitchen sink to keep it clean. They hold a bar of soup, a sponge and a cleaning brush. But as it turns out the soap dishes don't keep the sink top clean as I expected. The bottoms of the soap dishes leave a difficult to clean residue where they rest. What a surprise! I get tied of scrubbing the gummy (soap?) scum. Not to mention, water ends up in the dish, itself, which then softens and dissolves the bar of soap.

 An ingenious hack occurred to me which stops both undesired occurrences. Simply turn the soap dishes upside down. You may have to buy a soap dish that when used upside down doesn't let the soap slide off, but a good flat one, with a rough surface is perfect! Two annoying problems solved. A wet sponge also dries better.

Have you eliminated a job? Do you have a clever household or kitchen hack to share?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My New Hat Is Unreal

My new hat which I'll be happy to burn.
During our pandemic it took the directives of the Surgeon General of the United States, the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City to get me to wear a face mask. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, our leading expert of Infectious Diseases, tells us time and again, our first line of defense is to: 1) Stay home; 2) Wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds every time we touch anything on the other side of our front doors; and 3) Don't touch your face while out at the supermarket, or drugstore to pick up necessities. When I must go out, it's my new mantra: "Don't touch your face, don't touch your face!" 
Photo: smartair
A surgical mask or homemade cotton mask doesn't protect you 100% from the tiny coronavirus, but it does offer enough protection to warrent wearing one. The reason is this: If an infected person coughs or sneezes without knowing s/he is sick, the germs stay in his/her mask. So my mask protects you from me, and your mask protects me from you.
As long as there is a shortage, leave for hospital workers. 
The special medical N95 mask which hospital workers must wear for their protection offers protection from tiny airborne viruses. Because of a shortage of these masks and the need for hospital workers to work closely with coronavirus patients, the public is asked not to buy them. Instead we should be practicing social distancing -- staying 6 feet apart.

How To Make A Face Mask - Some people put a small coffee filter in the folds of the cloth. Layers catch more germs. You can also tuck the 2 final outer ends (one inside the other.) The video only lays one outer end on top the other.

A few stores in my neighborhood won't let customers inside without a mask. And considering New York is the epicenter for people who have tested positive, nowadays I wear one. I also ordered a hat with a clear protective shield (see abovefrom here. I don't love the idea of wearing either, but if nothing else, they make it more difficult to touch your face.
If people are to return to work it seems 3 things must happen: 1) Universal testing for Coronavirus; 2) Universal testing for the virus' antibodies (you have the antibodies if you've had the disease. Some people don't even realize they've had the disease as serious as it is for others); and 3) Increase the production of those hard to get N95 masks. Many jobs require closer contact than standing 6 feet apart. 

The world's nightmare will truly end after a vaccine becomes available so that coronavirus becomes preventable like the flu ... perhaps 18 months to 2 years away.

Update: Governor Cuomo made wearing face coverings in New York manditory starting Friday, April 17th when you enter places like supermarkets where social distancing is not possible. The purpose is the stop the spreading of Coronavirus. People in Asian countries have been wearing masks as necessary, and the practice works. We don't have to like it (yuck!), we just have to do it to stop the virus.

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Hello Easter 2020

Photo uploaded by my Canadian friend, Michael Henry
This year's Easter of staying home and social distancing is tough isn't it? Fortunately it is the first serious disease for many of us that has stopped us in our tracks, a gobal pandemic with no viccine to protect us (it's at least 18 months away). Unlike earlier generations, we aren't used to enduring fear, suffering, and uncertainty over a long haul. And yet, we know we'll get through this trying time, don't we? Of course, we do. 
"Tomb, thou shall not hold Him longer; 
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right;
Faith and Hope triumphant say
Christ will rise on Easter Day."
~ An Easter Carol by Phillips Brooks (who wrote "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

Wash those prayering hands often.😊

Stay vigilant and well, my lovelies. Happy Easter Everyone!🌷

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Toss The Tube: 3 Toothpaste Tablets

The idea of personal care products creating less waste in one space saving container with good clean ingredients is an excellent one. Enter solid toothpaste in tablet form!
Wait for a flourite to be added.
1) Bite Toothpaste Bits offers zero waste and non-toxic ingredients in a toothpaste pill. Dispite approving of the aims, I worry about the lack of  flouride in an otherwise innovative brand. As far as I know, dentists still recommond using flouride to prevent cavities for children and adults alike. And frankly, I only use flouride toothpaste. For this reason,  I direct you to: 
#1 for flouride and price
2) Dent Tabs - Not only does it have the beneficial flouride, on Amazon it is half the price of Bite with ingredients to whiten tooth and fight cavities.
3) Dr. Tiblet Mouthwash Tablet - is a hybrid mouthwash/solid toothpaste. It has flouride but unfortunately comes in a plastic (not a reusuable glass) bottle, and you get fewer tablets for the price. My 2nd choice because of its flouride.
Photo: Getty
Solid toothpaste is ideal for travelers, eco-friendly folks, and anyone seeking the space saving convenience of carrying a few pills rather than a full tube of toothpaste. Free up storage space. Bite into a tablet, add water and a brush to clean your teeth either at home or while away from home if you wish.
Photo: parentmap
Now my lovely readers, you, too, are in the know! For bottless shampoos and conditioners to accompany your tubeless toothpaste go here.

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