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Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

The crisp air and clear blue skies were enough to lure me outside to enjoy the fall weather. This past weekend my husband and I paid visits to two of our favorite local produce haunts. Struble Ranch has just opened for the season with a bumper crop of mandarins and is located on one of the prettiest pieces of property around. Otow’s Orchard grows a multitude of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but right now is selling fresh persimmons, hoshigaki (their famous dried persimmons), and winter squash. Wherever you live, please support your local growers.

#1 – Mandarin Oranges
According to Peggy Trowbridge Fillippone of About.com:
“Mandarin oranges” is a term that applies to an entire group of citrus fruits. This group, botanically classified as Citrus reticulata, includes such varieties as Satsuma, Clementine, Dancy, Honey, Pixie, and tangerines in general. Most are sweeter than their other citrus cousins (yet there are some tart varieties), have a bright orange skin that is easy to peel, and inner segments that are easily separated. There are seeded and seedless varieties.

Depending on the variety, mandarin oranges are in season from November through June in the Northern hemisphere, with peak season being December and January.

Select fruits that are unblemished and heavy for their size. Avoid those with cuts, soft spots, or mold. Bright color is not necessarily an indication of quality as some are dyed and some naturally have green patches even when fully ripe.

They may be stored in a cool, dark spot for a few days, but ideally should be refrigerated to extend shelf life up to two weeks.

#2 – Identifying Drinking Glasses
My kids are coming home for the Thanksgiving holidays, so the rubber bands are coming out of the kitchen drawer. Years ago I figured out a system to prevent my kids from reaching for new glasses every time they were thirsty. I purchased wide, colorful rubber bands and wrote my children’s names on the rubber bands. As soon as he/she took a glass out of the cabinet, his/her rubber band was slipped onto the glass immediately. This little trick continues to save me a lot of needless dishwashing!

#3 – Wearing Red This Holiday?
Here’s a tip straight from stylists Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, “We love red with silver as opposed to red and gold. The latter combo can look a little too much like a Christmas ornament. An alternative to metallic accessories would be another bright color; accents of violet or light blue look spectacular with a red dress . . . !”

#4 – Consider This
If a man has a talent and cannot use it, he has failed. If he has a talent and uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he has a talent and learns somehow to use the whole of it, he has gloriously succeeded, and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know. Thomas Wolfe

#5 – Random Act of Kindness
Each of us must do our part to make the world a better place, so how about carrying out a little random act of kindness this weekend? It could be as simple as giving someone a complement. Here’s something I’ve done before: I’ve wrapped up cookies in cellophane, tied them with a ribbon, included a brief note of thanks and stuck them in my mailbox for my letter carrier to pick up.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and have a great weekend!

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#1 – Shop for Less
Shopping in Asian markets is an experience for me. It’s amazing how much cheaper fruits, vegetables, bulk spices, and even meats are in these stores, not to mention the variety of goods available. For example, the Asian market I frequent sells medium-sized frozen prawns by the scoopful for $3.99 a pound everyday! One aisle I am always drawn to houses the home goods. Pots, dish drainers, colanders, cleavers, and more can be had for very reasonable prices. I’ve stocked a few college apartment kitchens with items found here. Dishware can be purchased by the piece, so any size set can easily be put together. Colorful Chinese and Japanese bowls of all sizes and designs appeal to thrifty, yet stylish shoppers.

#2 – Keep It or Toss It
If you need to know how long to safely keep meat, vegetables, and fruit or what the shelf life of herbs and spices are, visit this website. Type in the item in question and search. It also has answers to food safety questions such as, “Are eggs still safe after the expiration date?” Go to www.stilltasty.com.

#3 – Pumpkin Pie Spice
If during this holiday baking season you realize you forgot to buy pumpkin pie spice at the store, don’t worry. Just mix together 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg and you’re ready to bake! Combine the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Store in an airtight container.

#4 – Style Tip for Men
Ladies, help your man out by helping him select the right accessories. Here’s a lesson in belt selection. Belts worn with his jeans should not be the same ones he wears with his suits and obviously belts worn with his suits should not be worn with his jeans. Jean belts should be made of a more casual looking leather or of fabric. Suit belts should be made from more refined and polished leather.

#5 – A Quote from Albert Schweitzer
Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid.

My hope is that someone out there in the infinite internet universe is reading and enjoying my blog! Have a good weekend!

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#1 – Spooky Cake My Way!
I have to say that biting into crunchy chocolate bits and creamy pockets of sweetness of the Oreo cookies hidden in this cake, was a spooktacular experience! Even though Maida Heatter’s (Spooky) Oreo Bundt Cake sounded good, I didn’t have all the ingredients for it and I was in a lazy mood. With my sincerest apologies to the great baker Ms. Heatter, I cheated and used a cake mix. Here’s what I did: Preheated oven to 325 degrees. Greased and floured my bundt pan. Took 18 whole Halloween Oreo cookies, broke them into quarters and set them aside. Followed the instructions on the package of Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Yellow cake mix and made the batter. Poured about two cups of plain batter into my bundt pan. Then into the remaining batter, I gently folded in the broken cookies and poured this mixture into the pan. Baked it for 40 minutes and then removed it from the oven to cool. After it cooled, I sprinkled it with a light dusting of powdered sugar and then followed that with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Couldn’t have been easier!

#2 – Reusing Jack
You’re not going to throw away your jack-o’-lantern after Halloween are you? Jack is more than a pretty face! Roast the seeds with your favorite spices and don’t forget that the flesh makes delicious soup or heavenly pies (providing your jack-o’-lantern is still fresh). There are plenty of online sites with recipes for all of the above. After that, the best way to dispose of your pumpkin is by composting. According to Raquel Fagin of Earth911.com, “Both the pumpkin, as well as its seeds, can be composted. In fact, pumpkin seeds themselves are a strong source of nutrients, including zinc, iron and phosphorus. Compost piles rely on a mix of nitrogen-rich greens (which will include pumpkin components) and browns (leaves, paper and other carbon-rich materials). So, Halloween is the perfect time to compost, because you’ll not only have leaves falling before winter, but your pumpkin to also add to the mix.” Or what about this – Give your local zoo a call and check to see if it accepts donations of pumpkins to feed to its animals as a seasonal treat. Give a zoo animal a “Big Jack!”

#3 – OMG – Leggings Are Back!
Here’s what Gill Hart of Suite101.com says, “The fall/winter 2009 trend for belting everything from baggy tops to dresses to cardigans means that leggings are the perfect accessory, no matter what a woman’s age.” He further states, “Metallic-look poly-blend leggings also make an ‘80s-style comeback, along with jeggings and treggings, a strange hybrid, a cross between jeans/trousers and leggings, for those who are not brave enough to go the hole hog”. Say it’s not true, because I thought leggings were hideous in their original incarnations! Maybe it’s just me.

#4 – Flower Vases To Go
When taking flowers to friends or dropping flowers off to a senior home, it’s always nice to have them already arranged in vases for immediate enjoyment. There’s no need to give up one of your own vases or to go out and buy new ones, just look around your pantry. I find that large jars and cans make fabulous vases. You do save empty mayonnaise and spaghetti sauce jars, don’t you? Cover the jar or can with fabric or wrapping paper or even cheesecloth, tie with a ribbon, fill with water, and add flowers. Some cans don’t even need to be covered. An empty can of Le Sueur Sweet Peas makes a cute little flower container all by itself. What to do with the peas? That’s another post!

#5 – A Bit of Mother Teresa Wisdom
It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.

Do something with great love this weekend.

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The winds and rain blew through midweek. It’s foggy outside right now, but still looking to be a beautiful weekend. Here’s this week’s edition of Friday’s Fresh Five.

# 1 – A Market Tip From Bob (my dad, a former supermarket owner)
Eggplants come in a variety of colors such as ivory, white, lavender, variegated lavender, dark purple, pale green, and even bright orange. It’s the end of the season for locally grown eggplants, but they’ll still be available year-round in the markets. Select eggplants that have smooth and shiny skins. Look for ones that are firm and heavy in weight with no wrinkles. Also, choose eggplants with an even color all the way to the stem. There should be no green. This reflects the maturity or ripeness of this vegetable.

#2 – A Quote from Mother Teresa
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

# 3 – A Good Deed
From now on, how about putting a few extra nonperishable items in your shopping cart each time you go grocery shopping? When you get home put these extra items into designated grocery bags. After you’ve filled a few bags, take them over to a local food bank or donate them to an organization collecting items for a food drive. In these sad economic times, there are more families than ever in need of this food.

# 4 – A Recycling Tip
Reuse those baby wipe pop-up-type containers (cylindrical with a hole at the top) to dispense skeins of yarn, balls of string, or spools of ribbon. The containers will prevent the yarn, string, or ribbon from becoming tangled. Wash the containers out first, especially if you are using ones that held household disinfectant wipes.

# 5 – A Style Tip
When putting together an outfit, many women have the notion that different patterns can’t be mixed. This is basically incorrect, depending on the exact patterns. Taking a fashion cue from men, who often wear pinstriped suits with checkered shirts and geometric patterned ties all in one outfit, women should feel they can mix it up, too. Style experts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London say, “It’s fine to mix patterns as long as they aren’t all competing for attention.” Their example is illustrated by a woman wearing a small print black polka-dot silk blouse, charcoal gray glen plaid trousers and a light-colored argyle sweater vest. Clearly only the boldest pattern can be in the driver’s seat and the others have to take a back seat!

This weekend I may be making a Mr. Potato Head costume for my 25-year-old son. What are your plans for the weekend?

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Hello everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for the positive feedback! If you like my blog you can subscribe to it by clicking on either “Posts” or “Comments” at the top right hand corner of my blog. A page will appear and there will be a section at the top asking you to subscribe to this feed using Google, My Yahoo, Bloglines, or Bookmarks. Select one of the programs and click on the subscribe button. I find Google or Yahoo both work well. New posts to my blog will show up on your Yahoo or Google home page automatically.

Something new to my blog every week will be my Friday’s Random Five post. Every Friday I am going to post five short random thoughts or ideas. David Letterman has his Top Ten List and Jay Leno has his Ten at Ten, so I figured I could do at least half of what they do! Hope this first installment of Friday’s Random Five gives you some food for thought.

#1 A Nice Thought:
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. -Thich Nhat Hanh-

#2 A Recycling Idea:
Straight from a Hints from Heloise column – recycle your empty tissue boxes by using them as trash containers in your cars. The cube size would be great if used in this capacity.

#3 An Idea from the Kitchen:
Peeling fresh ginger root is a breeze if you use the edge of a spoon and scrape the thin skin away. It’s the easiest way I’ve found to do it.

#4 A Fashion Tip:
This tip is for petite gals. Even though the oversized boyfriend look is really in vogue right now, keeping clothing proportions correct is essential for petites. Be careful not to wear your tops too long. Petites tops should not extend below the crotch. Remember this: The longer the top, the shorter the legs appear.

#5 A Kind Deed:
Take a bouquet of flowers over to a senior citizen’s care center and ask that it be given to a resident that needs some cheer.

That’s this week’s Friday’s Random Five. Have a great weekend!

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sc0014fe50Every woman has her Achilles’ heel, not just in the normal sense, but in terms of her body image. Renee Zellweger, in her movie role of Bridget Jones, provides a portrait of this insecurity as Bridget gets dressed under a blanket because she does not want her boyfriend to see her “wobbly bits.” Working in a women’s retail clothing store, where the target age is probably forty years on up, I’ve made some interesting observations. Not surprisingly, this one is the most common: Most women are not happy with at least one part of their body. Lamentations abound from the dressing rooms. On a daily basis I hear, “If I lost weight, this would look better” or “I like to cover my arms” or “I used to wear low necklines, but can’t now.” Women are so hard on themselves. How did we get this way? Yes, I say “we” because I am also guilty of this irrational self-criticism. How many times has my husband heard these words pitifully escape from my mouth as I come out of a dressing room, “Does this make my hips look big?”

Women aren’t born with these insecurities, so how did we develop these along with a streak of vanity? We can guess that societal pressures, plus promotions by the cosmetic, fashion, magazine, and diet industries, all play parts. Here’s a link to an article called Women and Body Image: Ten Disturbing Facts. The author’s first point clearly illustrates how the fashion industry plays a role in shaping our body image. She states, “The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.”

In addition, if we aren’t comfortable with our bodies, what messages are we sending to our children? Here’s an alarming statistic in the article: “One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.” Consider our daughters who played with Barbie Dolls and other shapely fashion dolls. Do are daughters also have body image issues as a result of seemingly innocent play? Point number nine in the above article states, “At 5′9” tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 which is considered severely underweight. Because of her ridiculous proportions (39” bust, 18” waist, 33” thighs and a size 3 shoes!), if she was a real woman, she wouldn’t be able to walk upright – she would have to walk on all fours. Note that the target market for Barbie Doll sales are girls ages 3 to 12.” Beauty and Body Image in the Media, another online article, also makes claims about Barbie, “Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.” This is not child’s play.

Where I work there are no mirrors in the individual dressing rooms and just a few in the dressing area. Although there are women who hate this lack of privacy, it’s a good thing. There is a lot to be said about the camaraderie and commiserating that transpires when women are together trying on clothes. I have witnessed complete strangers laugh and give advice to one another. There’s a positive energy in the air when women support women. I tell my customers who are critical of their bodies, that I can help them look their best just the way they look now. We can’t deal with how they used to look and we can’t wish away the ten pounds they’d like to lose. All we can control is the present. Sometimes when they start picking apart their bodies, I remind them that they are lucky to be healthy. I know it’s weird stuff for a sales associate to say, but I like to put things in perspective. Am I a top seller in the store? Not really, but I do have customers say they’ll see me next week for their therapy session or that I make them feel good. It’s all in a day’s work for me and I like myself better because of that.

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