Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year & A New Me

Happy New Year!

Ok, so here is goes  - this is the year I get back into shape and become the healthier me that I know I am.  Sounds cliche, right?  I know it does.  It is a fact that most people give up on their New Years resolutions by May.  

Uh Oh.  I seriously have my work cut out for me.

Up to my pregnancy 4 years ago, I was in pretty good shape.  I rollerbladed, walked, worked with weights, and was a solid 132 lbs on my 5'3" body.  

Then the water weight hit, bad food choices occurred, and I gained 50 lbs with my pregnancy. Good grief!  What happened, I thought?

I expected to easily drop 20 lbs of baby weight after I gave birth, and that by breastfeeding - the rest would just fall off naturally.  I lost 29 pounds within 9 months and just stalled.  Completely and utterly stalled.

At that point I was working 3 days a week and exhausted from housework, that exercise was last "to-do" on my list.  I wanted to lose it, but after my daughter was in bed - all I wanted to was relax with a movie or favorite book.

Fast forward to today.  When I see pictures of myself, I know that just a little work will pay off huge.  I love Dr. Mehmet Oz, and whenever I am able, I watch his informative show.  I recently discovered that Dr. Oz, along with Dr. Michael Roizen penned a series of YOU books:
  • YOU The Owner's Manual
  • YOU On a Diet
  • YOU Losing Weight
There a few more, but I have chosen to begin with the YOU The Owner's Manual to kick-off my gift to myself - a fit, shapely, and healthy self.  Not only is this a gift to myself, but also to my family.  I want to be a healthy Mom for my daughter and hopefully have a couple more children to add to our family.  I want to 70 yrs old, but feel like 40!

I have undertook the Dr.Oz Transformation Nation Challenge.  I am going to incorporate a healthy lifestyle for my family, and in the process, become an example of better eating for my children. 

Although I do make heathly eating choices, here are my downfalls - Diet Coke, Ted's Hot Dogs (a local favorite in Buffalo, NY) & picking at my daughter's snacks while on the go. 

I recently had my bloodwork done in November 2011 and everything is normal.  Here are some of my numbers:

  • Total cholesterol = 190
  • HDL cholesterol = 61
  • LDL cholesterol = 127
  • Triglycerides = 56
  • Glucose = 89
  • CRP = 0.6
  • Hemoglobin A1C = 5.3
Not too shabby, but my weight is 152!  I need to get this down and feel myself again.  I look at pictures and know that I can look much better.  Plus, my main motivation is to be as healthy as I can be by making smart choices about what comes into my body.  Of course, I am not going to "diet", it is proven that diets do not work long term.  I do not on depriving myself of foods I love, but having better portion control, and enjoying it.  I already love vegetables, so filling up my plate with the right foods won't be too hard. 

So, here I go!  A healthier, better informed, and fitter me for 2012!  Stay tuned for multiple weekly updates! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fa La La Lalaloopsy

I first saw these adorable faced Lalaloopsy dolls a year ago when my then two and half year daughter was watching her favorite show, Max and Ruby, on Nickelodeon.  

I forgot all about the doll until a trip to the toy section at Target.  My little one ran as fast as she could trying to spit out the word - Lalalalalaloooooopsy.  The doll looked fun  - cutesy name, fashionable outfit, and each had a little toy pet.  

I didn't realize how heavy the Lalaloopsy doll was until I picked up the box.  Whoa!  The head is like a paperweight.  The legs are like jelly and do not seem in proportion, weight wise, to the rest of the doll.

The age range on the box says 4 to 104, but my little one wanted on so bad, that Santa Claus left it for her under the Christmas tree last year.  She was so excited and her beaming face made me feel we made the right choice buying this for her.

Then we opened the box.

As soon as the doll was out, she gave it a BIG hug and clunked herself on the forehead.  She cried. Then she tried to get the doll the sit.  It kept falling over.  She cried more.  

The little pet it comes with a hard plastic.  What?!  What fun is that?  

If you are looking for a cuddly doll for your daughter, this is NOT it.  If she sleeps with it, she will either roll over a stiff doll or get poked in the eye by the long, unbendable arms.  My daughter is now a year older and does not play with it at all.  It has been banished to her doll bed - and it stays there - all. the. time.

And trying to get clothes on and off it is a challenge.  I had a difficult time doing it, so a little kid is going to have even a harder time and get frustrated.

Fast forward to this October.

We were at Target again and my little one noticed the Lalaloopsy mini dolls.  Essentially these are tiny versions of the doll that come with a teeny tiny pet (the size of a fingernail) and a cardboard box that serves as a mini house.

So, we bought one.  I thought she could also use the mini doll in her Fisher Price Grand Dollhouse, but this little doll is just as frustrating as the larger version.  Even though the legs are bendable, it doesn't sit.  My daughter looked at me and said, "I don't know how to play with this."  She threw it across the table and began to cry.  She was frustrated, again, by this Lalaloopsy doll.  

I think these dolls are the cutest little things, but the weight of the original Lalaloopsy is mind boggling.  It is too heavy for kid and they are not bendable like a Barbie doll.  If you want a doll that just lies around, this is it.   

No more Lalaloopsy dolls in our house.  Never ever. 

If you want a soft, cuddly doll for your daughter go for the Pottery Barn Kids dolls - Chloe, Sophia, Anna.  They are super soft, they have bendable legs and arms, a ton on accessories and are just a much better alternative to a 3 pound doll.  In my opinion, the Lalaloopsy would be a bigger hit if they were a actual rag doll - soft and plush.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Make Your iPhone Merry..

Who knew finding a stylish and functional iPhone 4 cover/case could be so hard.  Most that I have tried were either a flimsy silicone, a plain cover that was easy to put on, but difficult to remove, or just tacky designs.

The Apple store has a wide variety of iPhone 4 covers with my favorites coming from the Kate Spade collection.  They are, for the most part, all a clean design with nice colors, but the price is $39.95.  Not that I wouldn't pay that for good protection for a pretty pricey phone, but I wanted to find something more reasonable, that was protective and suitable for us stylish and modern mom's.

While at the J.Crew outlet a quick drive from my home, I noticed their Very Merry gifts neatly displayed in throughout the built-in shelves.  Cute and festive belts, necklaces, socks, earrings, magnetic wallets, makeup bags AND iPhone 4 cases.  


I never knew the J.Crew company produced iPhone 4 covers, too! 

I quickly reached into the glass bins and grabbed a few to try on my phone.  It snapped on like a glove and came off with not too much effort.  It was the best fitting cover I have found yet.  And the colors and designs were fabulous!  I decided on a black one with white polka dots for only $12.00! (They were on sale last weekend for 30% off - talk about a GREAT deal)

As I was perusing the J.Crew site for style ideas and great deals, I noticed more iPhone 4 covers on their website - equally cute and relatively inexpensive.  Here they are…

The navy is hands down my favorite!  I love the simple, yet modern, design and go with anything color.  The vibrant red is simple but easy find in your purse, and the metallic gold in just holiday festive - but this would be a little too blingy for everyday use.  More designs and colors can be found here.

Not only are these covers a very nice fit, here are some key features:
  • resists slipping on surfaces.  
  • can be charged with cover on
  • fits nicely and plays smoothly on the Bose speaker without taking the cover off (and charges, too!)
  • cover is relatively easy to snap off 

Dress up your iPhone 4 to fit your personality in a stylish way and grab one of these covers for only $25 from J.Crew.  Buy it as a gift to yourself or surprise someone by stuffing it in their Christmas stocking.

Please note that these covers/cases fit only the iPhone 4/4S designs.

Merry shopping!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Find Your Face

There comes a time in every girl's life when she makes the leap to so-called 'big girl' makeup. You know, the expensive stuff you find in department stores such as, Macy's and Lord & Taylor.

I was lucky that at the age of 15 or 16 my mother introduced me to the wonders of Clinique.  It was not so much for the makeup, but for the skincare products to wash and moisturize with.

Growing up in the 1950's and 1960's as a teenager, my mom wore what every other girl at the sock hop was wearing - CoverGirl - and she loved it.  My mom's makeup always looked fresh and neat, that is, until she had three kids and her skin began to change.  More and more, she noticed sensitivities appear in the form of itchiness and blotchiness.  It was embarrassing for her because she always took great pride in her skin and makeup.  Her primary physician recommended a visit to a dermatologist and that changed everything.  The dermatologist told  her that it was the newer artificial ingredients in over-the-counter drugstore bought makeup that was causing her discomfort.  She recommended she try Clinique, a makeup formulated to be 100% allergy free, and see if her skin issues could resolve.

Within a few days, my mom visited the counter at a local department store and started on her regimen that is widely known as the Clinique 3-Step  - cleanse, clarify and moisturize.  After a couple weeks, my mom fell in love with Clinique and began to love her skin again.  Not only did she use the the skincare line, but she also switched to the Clinique makeup.  

So, when I was teenager and started to experiment with makeup, my mom asked me if I would like to try Clinique - and that she would buy the products I needed.  She explained that it would be worth it to start now and keep my skin looking young and bright without wasting gobs of cash on drugstore products I knew nothing about.

Fast forward 20 years and I am still using Clinique.  I have never used anything else on my skin, except for a weak moment when I tried a sample Philosophy cleanser in a gift bag and broke out on my cheeks - awful, I tell you.  I use the skincare and the makeup - right down the line.  The best part is Bonus time - when you spend a certain $$ amount and receive a free bag of Clinique goodies.  This is a great way to test new products and maybe discover something delightful.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to environmental allergies like me, try Clinique.  The products are dermatologist made and tested and are 100% allergy free.  The line is formulated for 4 distinct skin types - Very Dry, Dry, Dry-Combination, and Oily.  Visit a Clinique counter and have them 'type' you skin.  I recommend you go bare-faced to get the most accurate information.  My biggest recommendation though is to find a Clinique specialist who has a 'look' similar to what you are trying to achieve - not only makeup, but overall style.  Most Clinique specialist's have been good, but a few I found are just plain fabulous.  Stick with whom you feel most comfortable and who listens to your needs and desires.   

Take the leap and switch to the Clinique line.  Try and see if you love it.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.  

*My favorite newer product is the Even Better Skin Toning Corrector that I use every night after my 3-Step to help diminish sun spots and uneven skin tone.  Holy cowzers, this product is amazing!  My skin is brighter, smoother and even after 3 weeks of  using it religiously.  I am one happy girl!

Less is always more when it comes to makeup.  (Except for that fancy night out in a fabulous dress for dinner and dancing!)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Look Spiffy. Kid's Holiday Dresses Have Appeared!

I learned the year that my daughter was born that you have get your children's Christmas attire early.  And I am talking early as in October or early November.  Most stores I have visited at The Galleria Mall in Buffalo are already stocked with clothes for all those Christmas and Holiday parties.

I found some really classy and preppy holiday dresses at Crewcuts, Old Navy, Gap, and JCPenney, depending on your spending level.

Step back from the appliqué  sweater dress and feast your eyes on these show stoppers.

Crewcuts by JCrew

Old Navy



Don't think you have to stick to the usual red dresses.  Navy blue, silver, green and black are all enchanting and refreshing.  The JCPenney dress is traditional red with black, but with the striped skirt and polka top, it is both modern and preppy.  Pair it will simple ballet flats and hair, and viola, simply stunning.  I love this JCPenney holiday dress for the 1950's style and look, too.  If you have not guessed, this is one we bought for Christmas 2011.

The rest of these dresses are very festive holiday party wear.  Because each is a little embellished in its own right, there is no need to over accessorize.  Keep the focus on the dress by pairing with simple velvet flats and a simple barrette or headband.  If you absolutely need that touch of red, add a touch of red at the shoes, hair or tights.  Don't go all red, just one item with a little flair will add holiday cheer.

Rule of thumb - if a dress is neutral, add one item of color for pizazz,  if the dress is colorful, keep accessories neutral ( i.e., black, white, gray). 

Gymboree has their dresses out too, and are mostly the traditional plaid in various colors.  Target, which usually at least one winner in the classy and preppy category, has not released their holiday dress line yet.  Target is a great option for an inexpensive dress with high style.  

My top two dresses for the upcoming Christmas season of 2011 are:
  1. JCPenney's striped bottom with polka top in a modern twist of red and black.  Pair it with black ballet flats.  This is dress that will have her twirling all day and night! 
  2. Crewcuts by J.Crew.  The navy satin with rhinestone neckline is just stunning.  Pair it with black or silver ballet flats.  Simple and elegant. 
I know it is only October and our thinking is on Halloween costumes, not Christmas dresses, but these dresses go fast and furious.  Choose and purchase your holiday wear early and not only will you have the dress you want, but you won't be running around in the super busy holiday season.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Best Family Christmas Movies

I love the Christmas Season like no other. I especially love sitting down with a warm blanket, a peppermint mocha coffee, and a good snowy day or night to watch a festive holiday movie.  

My favorite Christmas/Holiday movies have one or all of the following qualities:
  • Distinct Christmas ambiance.
  • Feel good drama.
  • Humor
  • Fabulous acting
I start watching holiday movies when the weather starts to change and the days are cloudy and dreary.  Actually, that is my favorite type of day -the drearier and stormier the better!  

What movies have the most holiday cheer?

Here is my list (in no particular order)

Home Alone (1990)

I could watch Home Alone over and over and not get bored.  Macaulay Culkin was the cutest, sweetest little thing, and funny!  Who knew?  What a treasure he was.  This is great for family movie night (along with a delish pizza) during the holiday madness.  This will be a classic for many, many years to come.

Home Alone 2

Well, you should have seen this one coming.  I loved the first Home Alone and loved the second that was based in New York City.  Home Alone 2 has made NYC a future Christmas season destination for my family.  The Plaza Hotel, Central Park, Rockefeller Center and the famous Christmas Tree, I could go on.  I have been to NYC plenty of times, but not during the holiday season.  Macaulay Culkin was again wonderful in this sequel.  Great, great family 

The Santa Clause series

It seems the first movie of a sequel is always the best, and that holds true for this Tim Allen holiday classic.  The original The Santa Clause, with a young Charlie, is a little child's dream - that their dad is Santa!  The Santa Clause 2 finds Santa in need of a "Mrs. Claus" to stay Santa, and The Santa Clause 3 enters Martin Short as Jack Frost, who wants to be the new Santa.  This series is funny, yet loving, warm and magical - another family friendly Christmas show.

The Christmas List (1997)

This made for T.V. movie on ABC Family stars Mimi Rogers as Melody Parris in this sweet show about a retail perfume saleswoman who gets everything she wants after making a Christmas list and dropping it off in Santa's mailbox.  This is not available DVD, and is not aired as often as it was in the past during the 25 Days of Christmas, but it can be found here through independent sellers that copy the movie, with commercial editing.  I bought a copy and the quality is fantastic.  I watch it often, and can watch it ten times over. Don't miss this gem during the holiday season!

The Polar Express

This is a family favorite in our house come the holiday season.  The storyline, the ambiance, the music - all make this a wonderful, imaginative trip for both children and adults.  The bell still rings at our home!

Samantha: An American Girl Holiday

Having a daughter endears you to this American Girl Holiday featuring AnnaSophia Robb as Samantha, a girl who befriends a less privileged girl, Nellie, to forge a lifelong friendship and sisterhood.  Our whole family loves this feel-good drama based in 1904 America.  I realize the boys may not be thrilled to watch this, but its lessons are solid.  Give it a try.

A Christmas Story

It just would not be Christmas without watching little Ralphie!  If you don't own the movie, don't worry, you can always catch the 24 movie marathon on TBS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Miracle on 34th Street

I like both the original black and white movie, and the remade version.  The message of believing in Santa Claus is still the same, so watch both and decide which one you enjoy more.    There is just something special about the old black and white that draws me every time.

It's A Wonderful Life

Another classic during the holiday season.  It is a long movie, so grab a toasty blanket and make some appetizers to enjoy while watching this movie.  Don't forget the tissues…..

Blizzard (2003)

This enchanting holiday movie focuses on the friendship of Katie and one of Santa's reindeer, Blizzard.  This is another gem of a movie for kids that teaches them lessons in trust, overcoming obstacles, and best of all, the gift of true friendship.  Again, bring the tissues for the happy tears!  

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Discover the laughs, holiday cheer and romance in this age old holiday film starring Barbara Stanwyck.  Life jet seemed less complicated and family oriented during this time.  I wish we could go back and live this way.


Those movies listed above are my all-time favorites.  Every year I enjoy these along with the new movies that appear every year (movie theater and made for TV) - always looking for a new one to add to my favorite column.

Without saying, these Christmas shows are also holiday season must see's:
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman (My personal favorite.  I still cry when he melts.)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Jack Frost
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • The Little Drummer Boy
The days are getting shorter, the days are cooler and the snow is coming.  Once Halloween is over, holiday movies are fair game in our home.  Grab the blanket, dim the lights, make a delicious warm dip and enjoy the coziness of the holiday season with the best Christmas movies ever made.

Hello to start of the holiday season!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pan Am Might Be Another Winner for ABC

I was not happy at all when ABC announced early in the summer that Brothers and Sisters  was being cancelled. 

I cried.

Well, no, I didn't.  I am just being dramatic.  Sigh.

I loved Sally Field as the matriarch, and especially Matthew Rhys as Kevin Walker.  I laughed out loud and so hard at times - and I mean rolling on the floor laughing.  I would even be at work the next day and burst out in a huge grin thinking of one liners from the show. 

Oh, how I miss you Brothers and Sisters.  

Thank goodness for reruns on Netflix.  I get to watch it 24/7.  Well, again, not really.  But it is there if I want to.  It is like a TV security blanket.  

I wanted to be a Walker.  Just like everyone of you out there that loved the show.  I just wanted to sit in Nora's fabulous kitchen and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut.  Oh, and I loved the pantry.  The pantry of secrets...

I was sad to not have a show to look forward to on a Sunday night.  I heard about Pan Am, but I didn't want to like it because it replaced my favorite drama.  I thought, damn you Pam Am.  

The summer passed and my grief has lessened.

On the front page of the TV Topics was a picture of the new ABC drama, Pan Am.  I liked the picture and read the article about this new show - its characters, its plot, and its history.

I liked what I read and liked even more what I saw when, YES, I tuned in at 10:00pm ET to see the pilot espisode.  

I love the 1950's and 1960's.  I love the music, the clothes, the easygoing way of life.  This drama intrigues me and almost made me feel as I stepped back into that time in history.  I enjoyed the retro feel of this show and the ladylike qualities of the flight attendants.  Why can't us women go back to a time when a woman dressed like a lady and carried herself in a classy and elegant manner?  

The look of the show is what initially drew me, but already the first episode had enough drama to want me coming back next week.  My favorite line was - "Keep this picture my son drew and put it on your fridge.  Let it be a reminder to you to not sleep with another women's husband."  Ouch.  

I still miss you Brothers and Sisters,  but I am thrilled to have a new drama to look forward to in a week.  Time will tell if Pan Am has the same hold of Brothers and Sisters....

See you next week Pan Am.  You may be my new guilty Sunday night - the kids are in bed - TV pleasure!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dance Bags For Your Little Ballerina

My little girl started her first year of dancing school this past week.  It was a class full of twenty 3 & 4 year olds that were learning to 'reach for the sky on your tippy tippy toes' in their cute ballet shoes.

A few weeks ago when we went to the Bailey Slipper Shop to get her black leotard, tights and ballet and tap shoes, the sales associate also suggested that I get her a cute little dance bag to carry her shoes and clothes back and forth from home to dance class.  

Great idea, I thought.

So, we went to the dance bag section and stood there staring at all the bedazzled and tacky dance bags.  Leopard print? No thanks.  Fake bedazzled jewels?  Nope.  Shiny, quilted material with half dressed cats on them?  No way.

I did a few dance bag searches that came up with a handful of very nice dance bags - but they were geared toward the serious dancer a handful of fingers older then my daughter.

As I was admiring the Crewcuts by J.Crew girls winter accessories for 2011/2012 and scrolling through the page, I came across the cutest bags for young girls.  A lightbulb in my head went off, flashing...DANCE SCHOOL BAGS!, DANCE SCHOOL BAGS!

How cute is this?  A little ballerina with a hot pink tulle tutu!  We got this one for $10!  And I mean ONLY $10 because J.Crew offers FREE SHIPPING on Crewcut orders.

The Crewcuts ballerina bag is perfect to not only fit both pairs of shoes, but also her leg warmers and yoga pants.  Yay, Yay!

I must admit that my first choice, you know - if money was never an issue, would be this cute, cute, cute ruffle backpack...

It is $59, but I will stalk J.Crew until it goes on sale.  If you are willing to shell out this much for a beautiful bag, then go for it.  How stylish would your lovely girl look?  Just leave a few left for us 'sale' folks, pretty please!

I am glad I stumbled on these girly Crewcuts bags/carryalls.  Of course, these can be used for school, sleepovers, etc., but they are also the perfect dance bag for a little girl's dancing gear.

Seriously cute.  Seriously functional.  Seriously stylish. 

Visit Crewcuts at to see these great alternatives to the mundane and predictable dance bags that are hanging at your local dance shop.  Don't do it!  Go girly and preppy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thumbs Up!! The Crewcuts 2011 Long Powder Puffer.

Finally, my official Crewcuts by J.Crew Puffer Jacket review...

Within the last week I received a huge J.Crew box with my daughter's long anticipated Girls Crewcuts Long Powder Puffer Jacket!  Yip Yip Yippee! If you have read any of my previous posts, you know my crazy obsession with this dandy little puffer jacket.

Initially, I wanted to get her the Cobblestone color, but she loves blue and begged for the Navy Blue powder puffer.  Last year she wore a Gap Warmest long parka in a champagne color, and although it was very nice, it got dirtier and dirtier as each day passed.  I was washing it at least once a week.  Sigh.  So, we ordered the Navy Blue at my daughter's request and my first impression was - WOW!

I was so excited to open the box, and when I did I was pleasantly surprised.  From the picture online the blue seemed a bit 'too blue' for me.  Meaning, I thought it would be a brighter navy, not the awesome navy it truly is.  As I ripped open the plastic packaging, I was thrilled that the navy is dark - a cross between navy blue and black.  It is stunning!  Here is my little darling wearing her winter gear for Winter 2011/2012:

Crewcuts 2011 Girls Long Powder Puffer in Navy Blue
The Crewcuts Girls Long Powder Puffer is worth every penny spent.  The style has a very girly look with the grosgrain sash that slides through 2 loops to form a bow or just a knotted sash.  This makes the jacket classy and sweet.  I already have visions of changing up the sash with different colors for a stylish twist. Also of note is two subtle pin-tucks in the the chest area for even more feminine definition, and two side pockets. 

This jacket is a soft, yet thick, down filled puffer.  Even though it is a puffer, the jacket is not too poofy -  it has just the right amount of down to still give it a somewhat streamlined effect.   My daughter is 3.5 yrs. old and 41 inches, so, we went with the girls size 4-5, according to the J.Crew sizing guidelines.  Overall, the jacket fits very well, with plenty of room for growing.  J.Crew has the right idea by allowing a little more extra room at each size, for 2-3 to 14.

Here are the important points:

  • Length - falls to the right above the knee.  This is my favorite length for the very cold, blustery, snowy weather.  The tush stays warm and the upper legs are toasty, too.  I don't know about you, but I have no tolerance for cold air zipping up my back on a frigid day.  Yay for the long puffer jacket!
  • Sleeve length - Not too long and not too short.  Perfect!  They even have a snow barrier layer on the inside of the sleeves.  No snow or cold air is getting though this adorable monster of a jacket!
  • Hood - the hood is attached and is plain, no fur.  Thank goodness because I think the fur is becoming dated and too busy.  The hood fits on the head well, but their are no strings.  It fell off fast, but we wear hats instead anyway - so this wasn't a big deal for us.  
  • Inside - the main body is covered in a very warm fleece - and I mean seriously warm.  Being in a cold weather area, this is probably the main selling point for most parents.  Combine the thick fleece lining with the goose down and this is easily a jacket that can withstand temperatures well below freezing.  Also on the inside is a small area with This Belongs To... for personalizing with your child's name.  Many jackets I see have pockets on the inside for a cell phone, iPod, etc. for the older kids, but this one does not.  Please note that in case this is an important feature for you.
  • Closure  - the jacket contains both a zipper and a snap overlay.  This is a double barrier to keep the body warm when that wind is whipping.  The zipper has a matching grosgrain loop attached for easy grabbing and the snap are heavy duty.  The snaps actually go all the way up to the chin for neck warmth - so scarf needed here!  My daughter was able to snap a couple herself, but they are a bit tricky for the preschooler age.  But, then again, I don't have the expectation that a child this age has mastered this skill.  That is what Mom and Dad are for, right?
The warmth of this Crewcuts Powder Puffer Jacket is exceptional.  I put my arm through the sleeve and within a minute or so, my arm was noticeably warmer. My daughter wore it for 10 minutes and said to felt soft and 'roasty toasty'.   I am beyond happy with the Crewcuts Long Powder Puffer and would recommend this for any girl living in a very cold winter climate.  J.Crew has taken the warmth of this jacket seriously, and the classy style is a major added bonus.  By far, this is the most sweet, stylish and preppy puffer jacket for girls on the market right now.  This powder puffer is going to be our running around town jacket for the winter season.  J.Crew has one happy, happy customer in the eastern Great Lakes!

Bring on the lake effect snow and blizzard conditions - we are really ready now!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thumbs Down! J.Crew Tissue Tee.

The roller coaster weather in the Fall, especially is the Northeast, can have you wearing shorts and a cute tee one day, skinny jeans and a trench coat the next. And, who doesn't love a well fitted trench?

Well, I have the same feeling when it comes to long sleeve tees this time of year.  I like mine to be figure flattering and fitted, not unshapely and slouchy.  For the past few years I have bought the picture perfect tissue tee from J.Crew.  I love the way it looks in the J.Crew catalog and online - just looking at this beautifully fitted tee makes me want to order more online...    

But, I won't.  Every year I get sucked into buying this perfect looking tissue tee in fabulous rich jewel tones and wear-with-everything neutrals.  

The fabric is thin and lightweight, hence the name - tissue tee.  Surprisingly, I find it warm when layered under a cardigan or another tee.  The arm length and torso length are a bit on the longer side, but I like that in a tee - it makes the layering look modern and fresh.

Now the bad news, and it is B.A.D.  Because this tee has no lycra, it looses its shape quickly and in an ugly way.  The first 20 minutes or so are glorious - until you start moving around and the stretching begins.  The waist area balloons out, and the sleeves from the elbow down resemble parachute pants from the 'stylish' 1980's.  Let's all take a moment of silence as we remember those good 'ol days.  (wink, wink)  

Another thing I have noticed is that small holes appear in the fabric after a few washes.  I wash the tissue tee according to the J.Crew care label, so I find this unacceptable from such a quality retailer.  

I understand that this J.Crew tissue tee is primarily a layering piece, but who wants an overstretched under layer that is sprouting little holes wherever it gets a little tugged or pulled.  Not me!  And to wear it alone, all I can say is...yikes.

This year I have vowed to myself to not get sucked into the beautiful looking picture on by remembering my unsightly figure in this tee. Sigh.

J.Crew should really consider adding a little lycra so this tissue tee hugged the body more closely.  The theory of a lightweight tissue tee is great, but the reality is a boxy, overstretched layering piece.  If J.Crew tweaked the make of this a little, it could easily be a little hot number for us stylish women.  Oh, and while you are at it J.Crew, the v-neck tissue tee's are not made for anyone that is larger than an A bra cup size.  It is hard to dress classy and professional when you are "Little Miss I See All Your Cleavage".  Throw us a bone, lovely J.Crew designers.   

Friday, September 9, 2011

MacGourmet - Ooh La La!

In July, Apple rolled out their Lion OS X update and with it I discovered many features for my MacBook Pro that I didn't know existed.  One was the recipe software for Mac OS X - MacGourmet!

Being a woman that loves to cook and bake, I wanted a find a home for all my recipes, plus the ones I want to save & try from sites such as Betty  I discovered MacGourmet in the App Store and after reading some reviews and visiting the website, I decided to give the free MacGourmet demo a try.

Before I tell you how fascinated I am with this recipe saver, let me give you a quick screenshot of what my own online recipe box looks like.

It is basically iTunes for you recipes!  The format is simple, classy and easily readable.  My color scheme is pinks, but there are bunch of available colors to choose from to make it your own.  I especially love how they use different shades of the color schemes to highlight certain portion of the recipe page.  All your recipes sit in the second column with a picture and can be scrolled back and forth. 

The recipe importer on MacGourmet is, by far, the easiest one have I used.  It has at least 50 different cooking and baking websites that it imports directly from, i.e.. Betty Crocker, Kraft, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, The Food Network, Rachael Ray - just to name a few.  All these websites import quickly and completely to MacGourmet with one click.  And the pictures are excellent - sharp and clear.  Each recipe can have one main picture, then additional pictures to show preparation.  You may think that little picture in the right hand corner looks small, but if you click on it once, it comes center-stage and becomes much larger.  It is fantastic!

The actual recipe when imported is very well organized and easily readable.  I really enjoy how they number each step and not combine all the steps into one messy paragraph.  The Notes section of the recipe is very helpful.  I like to add little tips to myself and also what to what to serve it with - a green salad, egg noodles, rice, etc.  I can also add private notes that are for me only, meaning, if I was to print the recipe for someone else, while my notes would appear, my private notes would not.  Primarily, I use these private notes to remind myself who liked what recipe.

The overall layout is similar to iTunes with a main recipe section that is similar to your music library.  It holds all your recipes.  And although you can add the recipe to different recipe folders (like playlists), the main copy sits in the recipe library.  To delete it from another section does not delete the main recipe - you would have to delete it in the main recipe library to delete it altogether.  

Another fantastic feature is the ability to use many, many categories when filing the recipe.  All I have to do is type in Halloween, and all my recipes that fall under that category appear.  No more fishing through hundreds of recipes.  This makes organizing and finding your recipes a flash.  

On the many occasions when I need to scale down a recipe or double or triple it, the scaling feature allows me do this correctly and accurately.  And, it doesn't change the integrity of the original recipe either.  After you are done using the scaling method, just reset, and the scaling recipe disappears. Simple. 

While I have mastered the recipe section, I am still getting used to taking advantage of the many other fabulous features in the application.  I love using the wine notes to remind myself of the favorite wines we use for family holidays, birthday's, or get togethers.  Not only can you add your own notes, but the wineries notes, and label photo as well.  Classy and sassy!

There are a few plug-ins with MacGourmet that are useful, but cost an additional $9.  These are the Weekly Meal Planner, Cookbook maker, and Nutritional info.  I purchased the Weekly Planner and it is simple, but does what it says.  You can plan all your meals throughout the day for the entire week then print it out to hang on the fridge along with a handy shopping list.  Note:  If you purchase MacGourmet Deluxe (like I should have in the first place - duh.) all the plug-ins previously mentioned come in the package.  This is the better deal.    

Starting on September 6, 2011, and running thru September 11, 2011, MacGourmet can be purchased for $10 by using the Coupon Code: SEVENYEARS.  Try the free demo first, then purchase if you enjoy it. I know you will.  

Also, if you miss out on this generous offer and you have a competitor's recipe software on your Mac (such as YummySoup! - I had this), email the developer, Michael Dupuis, and he will give you a nice discount of $10 off of MacGourmet!  

I am smitten with MacGourmet's recipe software for Mac.  I feel soooo organized. Cooking & baking is enjoyable with Macgourmet's user friendly interface.  Functionality with design and style are big sellers for me, and MacGourmet has it all...and then some.

Try MacGourmet and get Cooking!!  

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