Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Can You Do For Earth Day?

Photo: Playbuzz
An old American spiritual tells us,"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands,'' and what an interconnected world it is. We, humans, are here to enjoy and take care of our planet. Today on Earth Day, is an excellent time to remember our responsibilities as stewards and ask ourselves can we do anything better to care for Mother Earth?

It turns out that "environmental plastic is a growing disaster." Most plastics are made from "non-renewable resources" of petroleum or natural gas, "extracted and processed by destroying fragile ecosystems." Think about it the next time you buy bottled water! And getting rid of plastic causes other problems. It isn't biodegradable, so plastic bags and bottles pervade landfills and our ocean. Producing and burning plastic pollutes everything on earth: air, land and water.
The concern is so great that New York City plans to ditch plastic grocery bags, bottles (sold in parks), drinking straws and plastic utensils. I use my plastic grocery bags as garbage bags and drinking straws to save my teeth from acids and stains, so the ban will be inconvenient, but a necessary one I'm willing to accept. "Every year 28-billion pounds of plastic ends up in our ocean," and it kills marine life. We can do better!

1) We can switch from plastic to paper straws and wooden utensils to cut down on waste. I need to look for reusable silicon straws to use (and wash) at home.

2) It is time to grab those reusable bags and bottles. Buy one of each today if you don't own them.

Mother Earth is so worth it. What other changes can we make?

3) Recycle electronics and batteries - BestBuy stores have drop off bins for each; Bed, Bath &Beyond accepts old batteries also.

4) Get creative and repurpose things you already own. YouTube tutorials can teach you how. You feel very clever doing so!

5) Enlighten yourself - Learn the ingredients, life cycles and eco-costs of everything you buy. 

Be a Savvy Shopper ... make a change today with Mother Earth in mind!


You may also enjoy:
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The Story Of Stuff: A Review
Happy Earth Day: Think Green
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cacao Hazelnut Butter

It's you, not me. We are breaking up.
Like many of you, I love the taste of Nutella, but according to nutritionists Nutella doesn't love us back. Unfortuntely, this delicious treat contains a host of bad ingredients -- sugar, harmful fats, chemicals and only a trace amount of chocolate or hazelnuts. There's almost nothing in Nutella that young children or adults should eat!

Instead let's make our own homemade Not Nutella Spread. Like all the recipes on THE SAVVY SHOPPER, it is easy-peasy with better ingredients:

Cacao Hazelnut Butter

Ingredients:

1 cup hazelnuts (combine with almonds, if you wish)
3 tablespoons cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 tablespoon of honey

Optional: Drops of skim milk (as a last step if the nut oils aren't enough for a creamy consistency.)

Directions:

1) Roast the nuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

2) Toss into a food processor and give it a whirl. Add the rest of your ingredients, and pulse again. 

3) At the end of the mixing process, you can add drops of skim milk to get a creamy consistency if it is needed. (Nutella uses palm oil and skim milk.)

Pour into a Mason jar and store in your pantry.

Why eat the supermarket shelf, unhealthy stuff when homemade is this simple? Speaking of baddd ... after staying faithful to the recipe at least once (for a guaranteed success!), you may decide to stray from the recipe by substituting different nuts or toasted high protein hemp seeds. Toss in a few dates (or figs) for sweetness. If you alter the recipe, like adding dates, do so one date at a time, so you arrive at a desirable and spreadable consistency and taste. 

When it comes to diet, let's be bad in a good way!


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

IKEA's Solvinden Lamps

My living room has no center overhead light so I have 3 floor lamps to light the room. The 4th corner could use a light too, but I have a slender 4 cube storage unit there. And, I don't want track lighting, nor the expense of installing it.
It looks like IKEA has come to the rescue. The retailer sells a selection of Solvinden lamps. Not only do you not need an electrician, you don't need outlets, so you can put them anywhere in a room. The lamps are 100% solar powered with solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. 
No cords, no plugs, no supply of batteries needed. Just smart, eco-friendly lamps! And wallet-friendly too, costing: $7 - $17, depending on size. Oh, the more light-in-a-room solution is here!


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Friday, April 13, 2018

Real German Potato Salad

Photo: Betty Crocker
I don't know which I prefer: American (made with eggs and mayonnaise), or German potato salad. My mother made mostly German and now that I'm an adult, I make mostly German potato salad too. (Shhh, don't tell her. I am not turning into my mother.)

German potato salad seems more ambition because of the clean up. It requires frying bacon and so you have a greasy skillet to wash and grease to dispose of. I cheat dealing with the mess by microwaving slices of bacon in between paper towels on a large plate. Then I trash the greasy paper towels and simply wash a not-too-greasy plate. The paper towels absorb 99% of the grease. I also microwave whole unpeeled potatoes instead of boiling and peeling them. Let the microwaved potatoes cool off a bit before you handle them. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

4 medium washed, unpeeled potatoes
6 slices (or more!) crispy bacon
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
About 3 tablespoons hot water
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
12 turns of the black pepper mill = 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon dried garlic 
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
A generous sprinkle of dried parsley

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of sugar -- We don't add sugar, but if the vinegar is too sour for your tastes, the sugar will balance it.

Directions:

1) Cook your potatoes and bacon -- in a pot and pan, or my way in the microwave. (If you fry the bacon in a skillet, save a couple of tablespoons of the bacon fat to pour over the salad. It's bad, but sooo delicious!)

2) Slice the warm potatoes and toss into a bowl. Add the diced onion.

3) Pour in the vinegar, water, salt, pepper, garlic and celery seeds. Gently toss.

4) Crumble in the crispy bacon and sprinkle the parsley on top. Make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5) If needed, return to the microwave for a minute or so to eat it warm. 

If I don't feel like taking out lots of pots and pans, I will eat German Potato salad with a glass of wine as my dinner. Simply toss in a shredded carrot as an extra vegetable. Gute appetit!


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Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Summer Dresses At Old Navy

I have several Old Navy summer dresses in my wardrobe. They are fashionable, cool and comfortable like shorts, machine washable and relatively cheap. Most prices start at under $40 before Old Navy's unbeatable sales and promotions kick in for a final cost of $10 - $25. 

Here are a few cute offerings on ON's website to consider. New styles appear often:

I must report that the craftsmanship can be hit or miss at times. Occasionally, I've received a dress with the waistline too high that I sent back, but 95% of the time, the dress is lovely. With free shipping and returns, it is well worth the risk. Customer care at Old Navy is friendly and top-notch! 

Everyday summer dresses are not articles, I like to splurge on because it isn't practical or necessary. Better to have a carefree dress you don't have to worry about soiling. But that doesn't mean I don't want to look pretty or will accept a subpar dress!
With experience you learn which styles flatter you most making online shopping painless. The frocks hold up and can be worn for several years also, so you really get your money's worth. Nowadays it's easy to look polished for less. So budget-friendly, you can save a few bucks to hold onto for a rainy day or apply to big ticket essentials that never go on sale.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

LUSH Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day, a time to celebrate and show respect for our environment. One way we can take better care of our planet is to reduce our consumption of plastic. Much on it ends up in landfills.

LUSH, the retailer of "fresh homemade beauty" products, makes scent-sensational, herbal blends of solid shampoo bars and conditioner bars that are also environmentally friendly. The botanical  shampoos and conditioners come in the form of solid pucks. They remove the need for storing product in plastic bottles.

Compact and lathering up well, one small bar lasts for 3 - 4 months, or about 80 hair washings. Costing $10 - $12 per bar, it is the equivalent of a few 8 ounce bottles of liquid shampoo, so you might even save a few bucks. Another advantage, they are easy to take on trips.

Lush offers a variety of different formula's of shampoo and conditioner bars to add shine, volume, calm an itchy scalp, stimulate new hair growth, or just clean and smell amazing. You choose your treatment according to hair type and decide if you want to buy the silver tins for an additional $3.95 to house your shampoo and conditioner bars. At times the tins are given away with the purchase of the soaps. Look for it to happen on Earth Day!

Watch how a LUSH shampoo bar is made.
Jason And The Argon Oil Shampoo Bar and Jungle Hair Conditioner Bar


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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The World's Healthiest Cuisines

Photo of Lebanese cuisin: Wall Street Journal
According to Natural Awakenings, a publication I picked up at my local health food store, 5 countries can tell us plenty about good healthy eating. I will sum up the article for you. The nationalities are:

1) Traditional Japanese🍴

Their philosophy: Food is medicine (or "Ishoku-dogen").

Practice: Eat simple; foods in season; in small portions. Stop eating when your stomach feels 80% full.

Things to eat/drink: Green tea, fermented soy; and mushrooms (shiitake and maitake); dried seaweed; sushi and rice.

2) South Indian 🍴

Their philosophy: Plants are our friends.

Practice: Eat small highly flavored, colorful, plant-based food; dry fry or toast whole spices then add them to a dish. (Spices boost health and flavor).

Things to eat/drink: Rice; vegetable/legume curry; split peas with potatoes and turmeric; coconut; dried chilis and spices.

3) Fresh Italian🍴

Their philosophy: From garden to table is best.

Practice: Grow your own food; serve it simple with extra virgin olive oil. (EVO fights Alzheimer's.)

Things to eat/drink: Fresh seasonal vegetables; basil; fresh tomato sauce; red pepper flakes, pasta and vegetables drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

4) Lebanese🍴

Their philosophy: Like the Japanese, food is medicine.

Practice: "Maza," which means many shared dishes of great variety; mainly plant-based.

Things to eat/drink: Cabbage, summer squash, or grape leaves stuffed with vegetarian fillings, cooked in garlic or tomato broth. Lentil and rice; Bulgar pilaf with caramelized onions; cherries and walnut salad. Lemon, sumac and pomegranate molasses; pickled vegetables.

5) Vietnamese🍴

Their philosophy: Borrowed from the French: Eat less and eat together.

Practice: Steam or slow simmer food. Serve fresh salad greens with cooked food.

Things to eat/drink: Fresh herbs; leafy greens; raw green papaya (called "paw paw"); seafood; rice and condiments. (Raw and green papaya contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, which promotes healing and good digestion.)

πŸπŸŒΆπŸ΄πŸ…
The proof is in the 5 international cuisines, healthy can be mouthwatering delicious!


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Monday, April 2, 2018

Would You Buy A CouchBed?

Let's say you live in a small apartment in a big city. Space is always a premium. Would you buy a multi-purpose couch/bed? Not all are equal or comfortable. And ... do you pay big bucks or less for reasonably good quality?
Usually, I side with paying more for better quality, but nowadays there are couches and beds (of decent quality) on the market which might only last for 10+ years, but also cost less, so it's a fair trade off. You pay one-third less, but can replace the piece 3 times as often.

In my own home I embrace minimalism, but still desire quality, comfort, function and good design. I love this CouchBed as a living room couch in a small apartment. As a living room couch, it could accommodate an overnight guest or go into a kid's room in homes with several bedrooms. It is constructed to be used as a primary couch/bed as there's back support to lounge, sit or sleep on it daily and nightly.

Comes in several neutral colors and could be placed on a platform if desired. There are two sizes: twin and queen. Cost: $299 - $399.

I like it! Is it adult enough? What do you think?



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Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter Wishes From THE SAVVY SHOPPER

Here's hoping you enjoy time with family and friends over a festive meal. Hours of catching up. Much laughter. A little reflection. Some sweets. And, a bit of rest and relaxation. 

On the holiest day of the Christan calender, thankfully, it remains a low-key holiday. No gifts to exchange and no commercialization. A quiet, yet meaningful holiday of eternal hope.
  
Easter celebrates perseverance over adversity, which is something all human beings have in common. Whether or not your faith celebrates Easter Sunday, let's all plan to enjoy the day ... and eat a piece of chocolate in solidarity! Happy spring, a joyous Passover to readers who celebrate and ...


Happy Easter Everyone!🌷



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Monday, March 26, 2018

German Empress Victoria: A Book Review And More

After marriage at age 17, Queen Victoria insisted her daughter maintain her Englishness, which  made  her an easy target  for her adversaries in Germany. Since Bismarck could not criticize the Crown Prince directly, he planted unflattering and untrue newspaper stories about his "English" wife. As 2nd in line of a conservative dynasty, Fritz was powerless to dismiss Bismarck, who feared the progessive Crown Prince's ascendancy.
As some of you know, I'm reading bios on the children of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Recently I finished one on her eldest child: Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, who was born on November 21, 1840, 9 months after her parents' wedding. Soon styled "The Princess Royal," historians consider, Vicky the brightest and most precocious of Queen Victoria's 9 children. Starting as a toddler, she received many of her school lessons from her brilliant father, Prince Albert, who also doted on her. The child spoke fluent French at 18 months of age.

Vicky fell in love with the husband her parents selected for her, the liberal, university educated Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, and it was hoped their union would bring a liberal, democratic Germany and England close together.


Victoria with Wilhelm (II) and Charlotte

The bio, Uncommon Woman, is thoroughly researched. Its author, Hannah Pakula, knows the era's, as well as, the Prussian Court's complicated history and intrigues; and she uses primary sources, as opposed to, relying on what others have said, to write it, which is a strength. Since Prussia's ultra conservative politician, Bismarck, methodically plotted to rob Vicky and her liberal-minded husband, Fritz of their rightful places in history (and his Realpolitik diplomacy made the world ripe for WWI) I understand why the author needs to include the German Chancellor as part of the storytelling, but sometimes Crown Princess Victoria gets lost in the book because of it.
Vicky is holding Sigismund.

Relationships you the reader, want to know more about in a Vicky bio get abridged: Prince Albert's love for his eldest daughter; her happy marriage to Fritz; her sometimes challenging relationships with her 3 oldest children: Wilhelm (1859), Charlotte (1860) and Henry (1862); her easier relationships with her 3 youngest daughters: Victoria (1866), Sophia (1870) and Margaret (1872); and the devastating deaths of her two sons: Sigismund (1864) and Waldemar (1868), are all reported, yet are surprisingly not that intimate, lacking the details. Sometimes Vicky's more personal affairs are mentioned in a paragraph, while entire chapters on Bismarck and the diplomacy of foreign countries (France, Russia, and England) go on for several chapters in full details. 

Victoria, an excellent rider, here with Wilhelm, 1861
Also I know from other books, Crown Princess Victoria saw her siblings over the years, but the visits and sibling relationships are barely mentioned in this book. And too, her remarkable intelligence, talents, kindness and perseverance are touched upon, but again leave a reader wanting.
Wilhelm visiting his grandma'ma in 1864.
Still Uncommon Woman is a must-read, because it's probably the best, most comprehensive and scholarly book on Empress Victoria to-date.
6 of Fritz and Vicky's 8 children: Waldemar, Sophie, Charlotte, Victoria, Wilhelm and Henry. Margrarite was still to be born.

Sadly, after 30 years as heir, Frederick III came to the German throne terminally ill, dying of throat cancer (in 1888) after ruling for only 99 days. Bless him, he devoted himself to signing as many bills as he could prudently push through in his 3 months as Emperor, yet the dream of a democratic Germany was not to be. What might have been had his wait been shorter and his reign longer?


As a Dowager Empress, Vicky had little influence, and her relationship with her more autocratic and conservative son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was polite, yet strained and guarded, thanks again in part to Bismarck (along with Bismarch's diabolical son) who worked for years to turn young Wilhelm's loyalty away from his parents. Kaiser Wilhelm II both loved and resented his mother. Although certainly not the villian and war monger that history makes him out to be, according to this book, at times he was a thoughtless son.

Sophia, Victoria, Wilhelm II, Empress Victoria, Charolette, Henry and Margarite
Empress Victoria retreated to Kornberg im Taunus and built a castle, called Friedrichshof, after her beloved husband. There she lived with her 3 youngest daughters (shortly thereafter arranging their marriages), staying in close contact with liberal thinkers and devoting herself to painting.
I wrestle with whether or not to call Emperor and Empress Frederick III a tragic couple. They didn't get to rule long enough to fulfill Prince Albert's great hope of establishing a politically progressive and constitutional Germany, which was, indeed, tragic and with consequences. But since they had a happy marriage and lived an interesting, enlightened life as Crown Prince and Crown Princess, I stop short of it.
Fritz is not given the credit he deserves in turning the Germanies into one unified Germany (due to Bismarck's evil manipulation of the press). Nonetheless, husband and wife were soul mates; both intellectuals and accomplished; and they lived with a sense of great purpose. 

[Christina Croft, the author of several books on Queen Victoria's family, thinks Victoria, the Princess Royal, would have made a great British Queen, and I agree. A pity the era did not give Queen Victoria's gifted firstborn child the chance.]
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1887: In the carriage are Queen Victoria with daughter Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia. Sitting opposite are Princess Beatrice and Prince Alfred.
Twelve years after her husband, German Empress Victoria died at age 60 on August 5, 1901 of breast cancer. For history, she left behind a lifetime of insightful correspondence with her mother, Queen Victoria. (Her brother, Edward VII on a visit to his dying sister, arranged via his private secretary to smuggle the letters out of Germany into England. The royal family was afraid the new Kaiser Wilhelm II might destroy them.)  

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Empress Victoria's descendants became kings and queens of Spain, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia and of course, Germany.

At age 14, Victoria, the Princess Royal designed and hand-painted this fan for her mother, Queen Victoria's birthday.  Click the image to see the amazing details.


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Queen Victoria's Family Pictures
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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Charlotte Tilbury Makeup: One Woman, Ten Looks

1) The Ingenue

Charlotte Tilbury is a makeup brand on the same level as Chanel. The colors and textures are beautiful. Since the retailer is English in origin (not French), it's a few bucks cheaper then Chanel, but still a luxury brand and a splurge for the shopper on a budget. The Limited Edition Face Palettes are a smart entry into the Charlotte Tilbury line. Although not cheap at $75, the palettes are ample-sized, the hues are ultra flattering, and it contains a variety of face products to create a complete look.

The company website is a wealth of helpful information and great fun to explore. In addition to discovering and shopping for new looks and listening to catchy music, you can watch how-to videos featuring professional makeup artists who show you the steps in creating the different looks. Click each image below to enlarge:
2) The Golden Goddess                                       3) The Uptown Girl

4) The Sophisticate                                            5) The Dulce Vita
6) The Bombshell                                                     7) The Vintage Vamp
 
8) Glamour Muse                                                 9) The Rebel
10) The Rock Chick

Which looks are you willing to try? And which ones do you think you could pull off? 

Perhaps because of my pale complexion and fondness for light lip colors, I really like the Rock Chick, the Uptown Girl and the Sophisticate. If stepping out of my comfort zone, I could try the Vintage Vamp look -- love the sultry eyes and red burgundy lips of that one! Now you ...


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