Friday, March 25, 2016

Are You Pining for a Great New Handbag?

Instead of a bag in a car, a car in a bag
Good Housekeeping and SheBuysCars have partnered on a giveaway of designer handbags.

When my oldest daughter graduated from college, my husband and I wanted to get her something special. I suggested her first ‘real’ pocketbook and he balked - what a terrible gift, he said.

Reader, she loved it. We gave her carte blanche to choose a bag and she even chose me as her shopping partner. It was a great day of mother / daughter bonding, and my husband got to share her joy when she came home with what she deemed the perfect designer bag.

The Toyota Camry looks great with a designer bag
Some parents mark milestone for their kids with a car, but Hallie didn’t even learn to drive till she was 19 (we live in New York City, and for much of her life didn’t even own a car) and when she graduated, she moved back to the city to work for a couple of years. A car would have been a ridiculous gift.

And I remember when I had my first job, a crummy, low-paying servitude publishing job, but my boyfriend (now husband) and I were couch surfing before it became a thing, so we had disposable income to blow on the more essential items, like travel and expensive handbags.

Good Housekeeping and SheBuysCars understand that pocketbooks and cars go, well, hand in hand. I mean, what woman doesn’t throw her car keys into her pocketbook, and then think about where to place said bag once she gets into the car?

The environmentally friendly Prius
The Toyota Camry is a great car for a style-conscious woman who doesn’t want to spend everything on her drive (maybe she wants to have a few bucks leftover for, say, a nice spring bag?). The car isn’t cheap; fully loaded, it’s in the mid-30s, but it offers a lot of luxury bang for the buck. It features soft leather seats, heated steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad so you don’t have to clutter up your car or handbag toting a power cord.

For the eco-conscious, the new Prius has many luxury touches too, along with upgraded technology and safety features - and you still get amazing mileage. So you don't have to feel guilty taking it to the mall, where you can shop for, you guessed it, a new handbag.

See these cars and more at the New York Auto Show, which runs from today through April 3. And be sure to enter SheBuysCars’ promotion with Good Housekeeping, giving away a handbag a day the entire time. Just take a picture of your handbag in your car (or a photo of with one you love at the car show and tweet or post on Instagram with the hashtag #GHDrives.

There is no purchase necessary, and you can only win one bag.

Oh, and as for my daughter? When she started grad school, we bought her the car.

Note: this is sponsored post. Opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Brown Rice vs Basmati: Which is Better?

Basmati rice from The Real Co
When I was younger, convenience foods reigned and instant rice was a hit. This packaged, precooked rice was tasty and pretty disgusting, but rice didn't really shine in dishes back then; on Long Island in the 1970s, ethnic food was frowned upon.

Then my mother started making brown rice, but this was also punishment food; she made it with no seasoning, no even salt, and no one I knew even liked rice. It was just there.

But no one denied the health benefits of brown rice, and as a vegetarian, I learned that brown rice plus a bean was a complete protein (thank you Diet for a Small Planet!).

I recently sampled The Real Co aged basmati rice and I wondered why this rice was white, not brown. Since The Real Co promotes the benefits of its single-origin, organic, non-GMO products, I wondered why it had white rice, but it turns out that the aging process, which enhancing the flavor and bouquet of fine basmati rice, is done after the grain is de-husked.

Beer is best with curry
Basmati rice is highly aromatic and the basmati rice, from Pakistan, cooks up light an fluffy - and in only 10 minutes.

I used the basmati rice to accompany a curry.

And for ardent brown rice fans, a brown rice from Argentina will soon debut, along with quinoa from India.

Let the grain wars begin.

Simple Spinach Curry

4 teaspoons canola oil
1-14 oz. package of firm tofu, cut into 2" cubes
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 onion, sliced thin in half-moons
1 red pepper cut into 1" thin strips
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely diced
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 pound baby spinach
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Cooked basmati rice

In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu and half of the salt. Cook for 6-8 minutes gently turning every 2 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer tofu to a separate plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining oil to the skillet pan. Add onions, garlic, red pepper, ginger and mustard seeds. Cook until onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Add spinach a handful at a time and cook until wilted through. In a small bowl mix together yogurt, curry, cumin and remaining salt. Temper yogurt by adding some of the spinach mixture until it is warmed through. Add yogurt to skillet. Add tofu; reduce heat to low and stir gently for 2 minutes.
Serve over warm basmati rice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do You Need Gorgeous Exercise Clothes?

Marika exercise outfit
Staying fit not only makes you healthy, it makes you look better. So beautiful exercise clothes can be just gilding the lily; if you already look good, ratty old clothes should be fine.


There is something empowering about pulling on a well designed workout ensemble, one that has been engineered specifically for exercise. And while I do feel those endorphin highs after a run, if I start out tugging on my shirt, or feel my running tights bagging at the knees, I get annoyed and then I have a terrible work out.

So I was pretty psyched to try out Marika's Jordan leggings. These black and gray leggings had mesh panels so my knees stayed cool. There is a little hidden pocket and the wicking material kept me dry.

I also got a wicking hoodie that coordinated nicely with the leggings and had those sleeves you could pull down over your hands. What was interesting about these was that when you pushed them up after your hands inevitably got hot, the sleeves didn't look weird. I have other running tops that pool around my wrists when I don't have them pulled over my hands.

Since I am training for my first marathon, these workout clothes were a great incentive to keep me on my work out program