Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Fabulizer

When I packed up and moved into my college Freshman dorm room in the fall of 1999, I arrived armed with the essentials- a green original iMac, phone cards to call home, and a hugely padded black lace bra that my roommates immediately dubbed "The Fabulizer." I have, in my life, been blessed with many gifts (namely: naturally blond hair I don't have to color, a fairly sunny disposition, and a better-than-average ability to solve crossword puzzles), but I was not bestowed with what you might call "an ample bosom." Hence, The Fabulizer, which immediately added at least three cup sizes to anyone (to prove this, I once tacked it up on the flat wall, and, voila, "Wally Parton").  However,  while it was, well, fabulous, The Fabulizer had several blatant drawbacks. The black lace and thick straps hardly made for an inconspicuous combo, so it made it's presence known by showing though or sticking out of almost any outfit (luckily it was the late 90s and underwear-as-outerwear was in). To totally hide this monster of a bra, in fact, an outfit would have to be so modest as to be completely beside the point.  Also, because I didn't wear it at all times, it was unlikely I fooled anyone into thinking a rack like that had just sprouted overnight. Still, I managed to get quite a bit of wear out of that sucker over the course of the next four extremely educational and enriching years, until I finally outgrew it (emotionally, not physically, sadly).
In my adult life, which could frequently use a little fabulizing, I have often reminisced about the enhancing properties of that brassiere, and wished I had something with similar capabilities which would fit my lifestyle now. It seemed an impossible dream until, like a miracle, I found it: The Fabulizer 2.0.
The Plunge Multi-way Bra with Gel-Curve, $37.50 from Victoria's Secret is the Fabulizer for the new millennium (give or take 10 years). Seriously. I bought it in nude to wear under a dress to a wedding last September, and I have worn it almost every day since (sorry to disappoint you, People I Have Met Since September, but my cleavage isn't the real deal). This bra is actually comfortable, smooth enough to wear under anything without showing, and, unlike any other strapless bra I have ever owned, it stays up on it's own. And the patented Gel-Curve stuff looks and feels way more like real boob than the mattress foam that was stuffed into the original Fabulizer (not that I intend to test that by getting groped).
So, if you happen to be similarly mosquito-bitten, or just want to enhance your natural assets, I suggest you head to Vicky's and try this lovely thing on immediately. And if you spend more than $100 (by buying this bra in every color), get free shipping through July13 using the promo code: SHIPVS10. Fabulous.

Friday, June 25, 2010

That's Cold

 On mornings like we have been having in New York this week (namely hot, muggy, sticky ones, where taking my dog around the block at 8:30am makes me feel like I took a dip in a swimming pool filled with sweat), I wake up jonesing for iced coffee. And like any true addict, I am in a total fog and can think of little else until I get my fix. Nothing works quite as well to simultaneously cut the heat and break me out of my dazed lethargy as a chilled cuppa joe.

But here's where I go on my Jerry Seinfeld-style rant. Have you ever noticed that iced coffee costs more than hot coffee, but you get less of it? And if you try to savor it and make it last at all, the ice melts, and leaves it watery and unappetizing. What's up with that?

Recently, as I disappointedly poked my straw between cubes in order to slurp up the last remaining droplets of precious coffee, I had an epiphany the likes of which a person can only expect a few times in one's lifetime. And it was this: What if the ice cubes were made out of coffee?  I know- it sends chills up your spine, right? Your drink would never get watery, and when the ice melted, you would just have MORE iced coffee. (Note to Starbucks: I am available for a high-paying consulting job.) Simply make yourself a double batch of coffee, mix it up just how you like it (with the soy milk and the Splenda, and whatnot), and then pour half of it into an ice tray and freeze it for tomorrow.

Furthermore, this idea is applicable to other beverages as well! Imagine: Arnold Palmer cubes.  Or olive juice cubes that make your dirty martini dirtier as the night wears on. The possibilities are limitless.

Obviously, I've already had my coffee this morning. 

photo credit: www.thesunblog.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Try Dry

Hi gang. Yes, I'm still alive, and I'm sorry I've been sort of MIA these past two weeks. I've had a lot on my plate, and I've been a busy little bee, between hosting a wedding shower and bachelorette party last weekend, work projects, apartment projects, babysitting my niece, and helping out two friends with their upcoming nuptials. I've been so busy, in fact, that the blog isn't the only thing I've been neglecting. No, I haven't forgotten to feed my dog (or my husband), but I haven't been for a run since May, and I'll admit I've skipped a shower here and there as well. But don't worry, I have Spanx to hide the telltale extra jiggle in my thighs until I can find my way back to the gym.

And I recently also discovered a cheater way to "wash" my hair instantly. On those days when I'm running late somewhere I have to look presentable (which is pretty much everyday), and don't have time to wash and dry my hair, I simply spray in some of my new secret weapon, Klorane Dry Shampoo ($13 from Amazon.com). You just spray it lightly around your roots- a little goes a long way (peeps with dark hair should be especially conservative), rub your head with a towel, and then run a brush through your locks. I've got the whole process down to under a minute (which beats my notorious marathon showers).

It basically absorbs and hides the greasiness from your 'do, leaving it looking and smelling fresh and clean, and easy to style (although I usually don't have time for that, either).  It's a miracle in a can, but it does have limitations- what you do about those stubbly legs and fragrant armpits is up to you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recycled Paper

I am not a waster. I reuse plastic bags and asparagus rubber bands, I turn overripe bananas into banana bread, and I am a Hoover plate champion. Admittedly, the last two are more because of my voracious appetite, and not so much because I have such green ideals, but the net result is the same.
So, while I am having a particularly busy week, why not recycle my latest blog post from over at bonappetit.com? It's new to you.

So without further ado, I give you:

Urban BBQ: 6 Tips For Grilling Indoors


photo credit: Bon Appetit

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Breakfast For Dinner

There are people the world over who have real problems, I know, but one of the classic, quintessential housewife stresses is figuring out, night after night, what to cook for dinner. When the menfolk (or amazon warrior priestesses) come back from the battlefields of their cubicles, they deserve a meal fit for the conquering heroes that they are. And even though I work from home, right around this time of the afternoon each day, my mind starts to wander from my real work to my housework.  If, like me, you find yourself struggling to invent new ways to cook chicken or make the same kind of pasta three nights a week, maybe it's time to look elsewhere for inspiration. Like, somewhere earlier. Do you know what makes a good dinner? Breakfast. Think about it- if breakfast foods are delicious and nutritious enough for the most important meal of the day, they will most certainly do for what is arguably the second- or third-most important one. If you're feeling theme-y, feel free to put on your pjs and eat dinner in bed - I'm not gonna stop you.

Frittata: My sister-in-law's mom makes a frittata for my baby niece that is absolutely delicious, and inspired me to make my own at home. (Oh, come, on- she's just a little baby, she didn't need the whole frittata). Here's a great recipe.
Eggs and Toast: Poach the eggs in tomato sauce, and top with Parmesan cheese and suddenly a breakfast staple is a delicious dinner.
Bagels with Lox: You can pick this up at the bagel spot on your way home. It's basically just a salmon sandwich, when you think about it.
Waffles or Pancakes: If you've got a box of Bisquick, you've got dinner.
Omelets: So simple and so good. Any time of day. Julia shows you how here.
Sausage: I've recently discovered these incredible organic chicken sausages. I would eat them on a house. I would eat them with a mouse. I would eat them with a fox. I would eat them in a box.
Huevos Rancheros: Fry an egg, and serve it (to yourself, or your valiant knight), with warm flour tortillas, black beans, cheese, salsa and avocado. Heaven. Er, cielo.

And when all else fails... Cereal.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thirty Before Thirty

Well, today's my birthday, and now I'm 29. I'm pretty happy in my life, so I'm not really stressed out about aging (plus I recently found out that I am going to live to be 102, so that helps). But the thought of 30 closing in does make one take stock of one's life and one's goals. Recently, while perusing one of my favorite blogs, Making It Lovely, I came across a post the author, Nicole, wrote about thirty things she wanted to accomplish before she turns thirty this fall. It seemed like a worthwhile pursuit, and I decided to blatantly rip off the idea. Otherwise, without goals, I could end up happily wasting the last year of my twenties sitting on this couch with this laptop yammering away to you people (no offense- I love yammering to you). Kind of like New Year's resolutions, but more of them, and with an expiration date. But here's the thing- once I started coming up with things I wanted to do a few weeks ago, I started doing them already. So, I've already done a few of these (represented by the strikethroughs)- I'll keep updating, as I accomplish them. I hope you don't mind that I'm a such a goal-oriented person.  I'll keep you updated as I plow through these thangs. Here's to the last 365 days of my youth- may they be extremely productive!

1. Run a half marathon and a 10K (not every race has to be a marathon).
2. Swim from the island (in the lake where we go in the summer. This concludes the athletic portion of my goals).
3. Build out a roofdeck on my apartment.
4. Renovate my downstairs bathroom (ugh, so ugly).
5. Find a weekly yoga class I love (trust me, if I love it, it won't count as athletic).
6. Write, write, write.
7. Place a bet on a horse race and win. (unless you don't count winning $100 on a $5 bet at the Belmont Stakes last weekend, suckers!)
8. Read Ayn Rand, finally, and find out what people have been talking about.
9. Write thank-you notes every time someone does something nice for me.
10. Learn how to edit film.
11. Get better at HTML (better than terrible can't be that hard).
12. Teach my baby niece to say my name.
13. Figure out and master the best chocolate-chip cookie recipe.
14. Teach my dog to roll over. (I'm so proud. She'll do anything for food. Just like her mama).
15. Learn new ways to cook fish inside without stinking up the house.
16. Learn the Beyonce "Single Ladies" dance (yeah, I know I'm late to the table on this one, but I still love it).
17. Find a great self-tanner (if one exists) and use it, instead of crisping myself in the real sun all summer.
18. Install shutters in my living room (so I can walk from the kitchen to the bedroom in a towel without traumatizing the neighbors).
19. Do a 5-day juice fast.
20. Do a kidney and liver cleanse. (First, find out how to do a liver and kidney cleanse).
21. Bowl over a 180 (I think my previous record is 150).
22. Visit a new country with my husband.
23. Learn to sail (passably- I'm not trying to become an Admiral or anything).
24. Master my own signature punch recipe. I'm almost there...
25. Borrow my friend's Rosetta Stone Spanish tapes and complete the course.
26. Take a skiing lesson so I can keep up with JM on the bowls and double blacks without peeing my pants.
27. Get annual check-ups at the dermo, gyno, dentist, herbalist,voodoo priestess and my general practitioner to make sure I'm in top physical form (I mean, for me. I'm not trying to be Lance Armstrong or anything).
28. Talk my husband into going camping. Maybe climb something? (But just getting him to sleep in a tent would be an accomplishment in itself).
29. Find and buy a sun hat that actually looks good on me. I admit it's a long shot with this massive noggin.
30. Learn how to get "beach hair" without going to the beach. Or just go to the beach a lot. Either way, I'll be happy.

What are your goals for this year? Take it from me- even if you're only turning 25 (a baby!) it's never too early to figure out the stupid superficial things you want to accomplish!

photo credit: Martha Stewart

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pop Up Video

If you were somehow granted the power to listen to my thoughts, you would probably be disturbed by the amount of energy I spend analyzing other people's thoughts and actions. (You would also probably be amazed at the sheer amount of time I spend thinking about cheese, as well, but that's neither here nor there). It's like there's a mini Dr. Phil who lives inside my brain (sort of like in the classic Lily Tomlin-Steve Martin comedy All of Me, except I doubt I fall in love with Dr. Phil at the end. And this Dr. Phil loves cheese.)  Essentially, I am a burgeoning amateur pop psychologist. Which is why I am sort of obsessed with these very cool videos my husband found on YouTube.  They are made by a group called RSA who are obviously also really into pop psychology like me, but much smarter and way, way better at drawing.  I hope you enjoy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just Peachy

Well, I took a trip to the grocery store today and imagine my delight when I saw the first lovely looking peaches of the season! Don't get me wrong, there have been sad, greenish fuzzy rocks in stock for weeks that the store has been trying to pass off as peaches, but these were the first of the real deal. When you grow up in Southern California, like I did, you can't help but become a bit of a fruit connoisseur  connoisseuse snob. And I wait all winter for the triumphant return of my favorite summery stone fruits.

But for those not born into the orchard, sometimes it can be hard to tell when fruits, especially stone fruits, are ripe. That's where I come in. Here's are some easy guidelines for how to choose ripe and delicious peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums every time. So you will never again have to waste your money on stone fruits that taste more like, well, stones.

Look: Ripe peaches and nectarines should have a pretty pink and yellow surface (plums should be red and/or purple, and apricots should be, uh, apricot). There should be no green or brown spots anywhere.

Feel:Without pressing too hard and creating bruises, gently squeeze the fruit with your whole hand (not just pressing in your thumb).  The fruit should feel firm, but not hard, and should give just a little under light pressure. There should be no soft or liquidy spots anywhere.

Sniff:  Hold the fruit up to your nose and take a whiff. With all stone fruits, there should be a soft, distinct, fruity aroma. If you don't smell anything, it's a dud- put the fruit down and slowly back away from the produce section.

Follow these rules, and every produce shopping experience will be peachy keen.

Note: Upon reading this post, my husband asked "Wait, what are stone fruits?" I gasped, but then remembered that the poor boy grew up in the Northeast, where the winters are harsh, the soil is rocky and most of the produce is imported. So if you are similarly disadvantaged, stone fruits are all fruits that have pits- peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. And cherries, actually, which come from Michigan, the other place I grew up. So, yeah, I know me some stone fruit.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm Gonna Live Forever (9 Habits for A Long Life)

Not to sound like a total Pollyanna, but I really, truly love my life. So far, it has exceeded all of my expectations and hopes at almost every turn, and I had great expectations and high hopes.  Which is why I secretly want to live forever. Well, maybe not forever (because then you get into that depressing post-apocalyptic thing where it's just you and the cockroaches roaming the earth), but a very, very long time. I would like at least another 60 good years to mess around with, please.  And as a result of this secret, selfish wish, I have become somewhat of a closet expert about strategies and studies on life expectancy. "Hey, Lil" you might be thinking, "This post doesn't have anything to do with your 29th birthday coming up next week, does it?"  Um, no.  I'm just a life-expectancy hobbyist, and I like to share my interests with you, my dearest darling readers.

Okay, fine, maybe my upcoming birthday had a tiny bit to do with my preoccupation with evading mortality for as long as possible. But the good news is that, after thousands of studies, involving millions of people in every country of the world, it turns out that the habits and behaviors that result in longer lifespans are all pretty instinctual, obvious and attainable. If you have a few minutes you should do this free Life Expectancy Calculator (it's kind of fun, and I like it because it said I would live to 102, which even I think is a little optimistic- imagine all the blog posts!). Since it seems I've already got good habits anyway,  I'm happily well on my way to being one of those motorcycle-riding, skydiving nonogenarians (as long as I don't risk riding motorcycles or skydiving until then). Bring on the birthdays!

9 Healthy Habits to Help You Live Forever (Or A Really Long Time)

1. Don't Smoke.  This could not be more obvious, but since I still see tons of people puffing away at all hours of the day, I suppose it bears mentioning. Look, I'd be lying if I pretended that I have never enjoyed a smoke in my day- I know that pleasant tingly buzz, and I get why you like it.  But it makes your hair and clothes stink, takes 14 years off your life expectancy (I need those 14 years!), and gives you yellow teeth and wrinkles. And I can't have either of those things, if I am going to look as good as (now deceased) former World's Oldest Woman Yone Minagawa (above) on my own 114th birthday.

2. Keep Active. Do something physical every single day (this is one example where garbage men and construction workers have the leg up on the rest of us). If your job forces you to sit in a chair all day, make a concerted effort to take a brisk walk at lunch, or sign up for an evening tap dancing class. It only takes 30 minutes a day, and will add at least 3-4 years to your life. Bonus points if you spend at least 15 minutes outdoors- unfiltered sunlight provides vitamin D, which is essential for long life.

3. Eat Your Veggies (and Fruits). Eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (your morning OJ counts as a serving, and a salad for lunch could count as two) greatly increases your longevity. French fries don't count. Limit your red meat intake and try to eat more fish. Cut out the soda, artificial sweeteners and trans fats.

4. Take a Multivitamin. Make sure you are getting your daily recommended intake of vitamins C, D, and E especially.  It's so easy, and makes a huge difference. Why not?

5. Don't Drink Too Much. But a little is okay (and may even be good for you, if it's red wine).

6. Love And Be Loved. Studies show that people who have in-person interactions with family and close friends at least three times a week live significantly longer than those who don't. And if you're not a people-person, even having a pet who likes you adds years to your life.

 7. Have Fun. It seems laughter really is the best medicine- in fact, no other personality factor is more strongly correlated with life expectancy than sense of humor. Good thing, because I don't think I would want to live to 102 if I had to be somber the whole time.

8. Floss. It prevents gum and heart disease, and can add anywhere from 1.5 to 7 years to your life. Seriously. 

9. Everything in Moderation (Including Moderation). Anecdotal evidence shows that among the longest-living people, they all tend to share the philosophy of "live a little." So, keep your daily habits on the straight-and-narrow, but, every once in a while, give yourself permission to ignore the rules.  Eat a second piece of pie, spend a day lounging on the couch, or go to bed without flossing if it makes you feel good. Just remember to take the stairs and brush extra well the next day.

Totally do-able, right? Now I've gotta go figure out what I am going to write about until 2083...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

You Win! Mrs. Meyer's Giveaway Results!

 And now the moment we've all been waiting for: the announcement of the winners of this weekend's Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day cleaning products giveaway! Thank you all for your entries- Although I try to always look on the bright side of life, like the Monty Python fellas,  I think it's cathartic to complain every once in a while. Hopefully the winners of these products will have a little less to complain about in the future (at least they can't say "I never win anything" anymore. Even if all they've won is awesome free cleaning products). In case you are one of those people who is curious about how things work, or you just don't trust me, I selected the winners using a random number generator, not based on my own agreement or disagreement about the hideousness of the commenter's hated chore. I promise, unlike several entrants' bathtubs, these results aren't dirty.

So without further ado, here's who cleaned up:

2nd Prize, of a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's All-Purpose Cleaner in your choice of scent goes to  Entry #29, Karen who hates dusting.

1st Prize, of a smorgasbord of Mrs. Meyer's products, in your choice of scent, goes to entry #41, Kristin, who hates cleaning the kitchen floors. 

Hopefully these prizes will make cleaning house a little nicer.

Congratulations, peeps! Email me at lily@acharmedwife.com to claim your goodies, you lucky ducklings!