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2013 HOLIDAY GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING! Click it Forward!

What better way to be in the spirit of the holiday season then to give gifts that give back!  So this year I’ve teamed up with five outstanding organizagions where you can do just that for as little as 25!! So on your mark get set. . .  click it forward!

KIVA: GIVA KIVA GIFT CARD and HELP CHANGE A LIFE
Kiva Gift Card_NEWwoman in store

Here’s one that truly speaks to passing it forward  and it’s so simple because you can do it all online. For the past eight years, Kiva, a non-profit organization, has been using the internet to connect people through micro-lending to help alleviate poverty in 70 countries around the world, including here in the U.S. Purchase a $25 Kiva gift card online for your family or friends and give them the opportunity to Make a Loan NOT A DONATION that can Change a Life. Your gift recipient will then choose whom they would like to lend to – from a banana farmer in South Africa to a seamstress in Detroit – there are thousands of borrowers. And, once that loan has been paid back, your gift recipient can choose to take the money back or re-loan that money to a new borrower, essentially doubling the power of your loan money! Simple, meaningful and fun! Truly the gift that can keep on giving!

PETSMART CHARITIES: PAW-FECT FOR THE PET LOVER

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I am a huge love of PetSmart Charities not only because I love pets but because it’s rated in the top 1% of charities by Charity Navigator:  receiving their highest 4-star rating for ten consecutive years! Best of all, just $25 will save a shelter pet’s life by giving them shelter space, food and crucial veterinary services. And ninety cents of every dollar goes directly to help pets in need, one of the highest percentages among all charities. Also, if you’re in a PetSmart store you might see these adorable Chance and Lucky dolls. 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these cute critters will also go to PetSmart Charities to help save homeless pets.

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND: ADOPT A TIGER…IT’S GRRREAT!

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Here’s a novel and critical gift idea for the holidays from World Wildlife Fund.  Make a donation to WWF at Donatewwf.org for a symbolic tiger adoption. Tigers need our help more than ever before.100 years ago, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers living in the wild. Now, there are less than 3,200. 97% of the population has been lost. Tigers have also lost more than 90% of the forests they call home. And your donation will be put to work helping reduce threats to majestic species like tigers, and other species in the wild like elephants, rhinos and polar bears threatened by poaching, habitat loss and climate change. And, you’ll get something too! For your donation, you’ll receive a thank-you gift of a cute tiger plush, photo, fact sheet and certificate that you can send to a friend or family member. World Wildlife Fund has an entire Gifts That Give Back catalog with more than 200 thank-you gifts to select from to share your commitment to conservation. For more than 50 years, their vision has been to build a better future in which people live in harmony with nature. WWF works around the world to reduce the most pressing environmental threats to wildlife, wild places and people.

MeeGenius:  WILL MAKE YOU A GENIUS…JOIN THE CLUB!

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one and wish it were around when my son was young! Check out MeeGenius, it is an incredible library of interactive books for children that works on computers at home, iPads, and iPhones!  I think of it like ITunes for literacy since the library includes over 700 classics, best sellers and MeeGenius-original children’s titles that are hand-picked by editors and educators.  Every single book is beautifully illustrated and includes optional “read to me” narration so kids can have a book read to them while each word is highlighted, promoting their own reading comprehension. And for the first time ever MeeGenius is launching their brand new Reading Club which parents, grandparents, whoever can give as a gift.  You get three months of unlimited access to their entire library for just $19.99 or a year for $59.99 – And, MeeGenius will donate 10% of all sales to PBS KIDS. A genius boredom buster idea too for holiday travel and chants of ‘are we there yet!”

Carpet One Floor & Home:   YOUR SUPPORT MAT-TERS

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This is the second year that the folks at  Carpet One Floor and Home asked me to partner with them to design a welcome mat  of which 25% of  the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  And, this year we took a ‘graphic’ twist on my signature cocktail…the dirty martini! A terrific holiday gift for the hostess with the mostess that not only looks good but giving one does so much go0d! The mat is a terrific holiday hostess gift  that looks good and does so much good!

Happy giving holidays all!

SOME FORGET ME NOT SPRING CLEANING MULTI-TASKERS

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Though it hasn’t been feeling very spring-like in the North, today is the first day of spring…YEAH! And, as part of my ongoing crusade to make housework less work so we have more free time, I’ve put together a few of my favorite spring cleaning store-bought multi-tasking products.  And,  I’ve partnered with  some companies to share their new twists on these staples which will help save us time, money and our manicure this spring cleaning season or any other day of the year!

 

ALLERGEN FIGHTER ‘n  AIR FRESHENER:  Spring cleaning usually means we focus on cleaning  windows, curtains and our bedding.  But we often overlook the areas that harbor dust and dust mites like on our bookshelves, plants and lampshades.  Introducing the latest and greatest my savior:

Swiffer 180 Duster with Gain:  It has fluffy fibers to help trap ‘n lock the dust instead of the old-fashioned feather duster which I feel just move dust from one place to another.  It can get in tight places like underneath furniture, nooks in your coffee table and corners of picture frames!  PLUS this new Swiffer freshens the room by leaving behind the joyful scent of Gain for all we Gainiacs!!!

 

GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:  For years, I’ve been soooo frustrated by the fact that I know there’s more spray left in my cleaning products but no matter what I do to access the remaining liquid I either spill it on a surface-wasting it or I just chuck it.  Well no more!  Thanks to the brilliant peeps at Clorox they’ve come to my (our rescue!) with SMART TUBE (R) TECHNOLOGY! It’s a built in tube that reaches all the way to the bottom of spray bottles, allowing you to spray every drop. It’s available on bottles of Clorox® Clean Up®, Tilex® and Formula 409® Cleaners.  Hmmm now if a wine maker could invent similar technology for that lil bit of wine left at the bottom of the bottle that would really be grape to the last drop!

 

NEVER HALF BAKED: NUMERO UNO MULTI-TASKER: If I was left alone on a deserted island the one thing I’d want with me is baking soda…It’s so useful for so many things around the house from cleaning, to fixing drains to stain removal to odor absorption and all else betwixt n between. And now Arm & Hammer has answered my dreams with a laundry product that has an incredibly strong cleaning power aptly enough named Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4X liquid laundry. It’s super concentrated so you need less to get more. It costs about 50% less than the leading detergent per load, so you have more money to get that manicure! And with the small bottle, it’s easier to carry around and pour!

 

LIGHTENING THE LOAD:  I love anything that saves me time as you know particularly when it’s a chore I abhor and do far too much of like laundry.  But alas having a teenage son this is my fate, which is why I love, love this LG Washer.   It will save your health, time and energy!  It has steam technology, with cleaning options like an allergen reduction cycle that will get rid of 95% of common household allergies. Great timing with those spring allergies in the air! The Turbowash technology will save up to 20 minutes per load, and you can fit an entire set of king size bedding, including the comforter, in a single load. And this model has earned ENERGY STAR “most Efficient” designation, meaning that this washer falls in the top 5% in its class! That’s lightening the load on all fronts!

 

A MANI-CURE’S TWO BEST FRIENDS: 

 1. HABIT BREAKER-MANICURE SAVER: Old habits are hard to break but this one my friends you should run don’t walk to do!!  Usually I pre-wash my dishes and during spring cleaning I wash those party plates, platters and glassware that lay in my cabinets collecting dust.  Forget that! New Cascade Platinum that is a manicure’s best friend since it requires NO PRE-WASHING.  Simply scrape off large food pieces and place those babies right into the dishwasher.  You can even leave them there for 24 hours and they’ll come out sparkling clean…my martini glass never shined so!  And, it’s another multi-tasker since it will help prevent filming on the walls of your dishwasher machine.

 

2. HABIT BREAKER-MANICURE SAVER: Betwixt the New Cascade ‘n this LG TrueStream technology dishwasher is so powerful that you practically eliminate pre-washing for all your dishwasher safe dishes, glassware, pots and pans will be a rarity in your life — OMG!!!  There is also a sanitary rinse option that rinses your dishes with 160 degree water, for an optimal clean. It is also Energy Star qualified and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year vs. hand-washing. With the EasyRack Plus adjustable rack system, it minimizes the frustration of fitting everything that you eat, drink, serve or cook on in there. And BTW if you really want to multi-task tightly wrap a salmon filet with a lil bit of butter, white wine, and mustard in piece of aluminum; run it full cycle with a dishwashing load and viola you’ve also got some Clean Cuisine!  Bubbly optional…as in champagne J

And, BTW here are a few tips on the best way to load your dishwasher to insure the best results!

      • Place forks and spoons facing up and knives down – this ensures that you get the most detergent interaction, but keeps things safe!
      • Glasses mugs, plastics and bowls go on the top rack at an angle to allow water to properly drain off.
      • Plates, bowls, cookware go on the bottom rack and must be spaced out to allow the water and detergent to clean everything.
      • Before starting your machine, run the sink in your kitchen until the water is hot.  This helps ensure the water that enters your

machine is at the optimal temperature.

 

TRIED ‘N TRUE ‘N SOMETHING BOU-QUET:  Though I wish I could put everything in my dishwasher certain items are a no no like my fine crystal.  That’s why I always use the classic uber grease-fighting Dawn Ultra which has 2x the grease-fighting ingredient vs the leading non-concentrated dish soap which means your suds last longer and you save money cause you use less. WIN WIN!  I also use it to wash my microwave plate which sports those coffee overheats and spills!  And, with spring in the air, it’s a no brainer for cleaning my vases and then filling them with a beautiful bouquet of flowers…Aahhh tra la tra la…spring is in the air!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK IT’S A HELLUVA TOWN THIS ‘N EVERY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!

New York, New York it’s a HELLUVA town! Just like Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin sung in the 1944 classic movie “On the town” …well actually they sang it was a ‘wonderful town’ since they had to ‘clean up’ the lyrics for the movie version…times sure have changed eh!

For those of you who’ve not seen this gem on TCM as I have since clearly I was not a glimmer in any one’s eye or plans for centuries to come 🙂 …it’s the story of 3 sailors on shore leave in New York City circa World War Two times. I’m reminded of it cause Wednesday marked the start of Fleet Week in NYC and I was lucky enough to see the parade of ships thanks to shooting a Better TV segment that morning (which by the way you can watch this Tuesday so check local listings for some summer backyard cleaning tips!).

But as serendipity would have it, following the shoot with Better’s host Audra Lowe, my always terrific bud both on and off the set, we went down to Battery Park and found a restaurant right on the Hudson at Wagner Park called Gigino’s where Doug and I planted ourselves with vino in hand to watch and toast the ships, sailors ‘n US Navy in general passing by.  It was truly an amazing sight seeing historic clippers and battleships complete with sailors lining the edges waving and appreciative folks like myself waving back, taking photos for keeping us safe….

Like many of my shore mates, it made me proud to be an American as did our taking a stroll afterwards

and seeing the soon to be completed Freedom Tower

WOW… No matter how much time has gone by since that tragic day: September 11, 2001 or  whether you are hundreds of yards away or simply hear the date it does and should evoke an incredibly array of emotions.  Wow, again…So as we start this unofficial summer kick-off and more importantly  Memorial Day Weekend honoring those whom have given their time, soul and life for our country, I repeat “New York, New York it’s a a helluva town” and wonderful too…. Spread the glove!

HI HO HI HO TO HABITAT FOR HUMANITY GLOVES ‘N I GO!

They say one pix is worth a thousand words. Well I have many pix to share with you which will speak volumes for four words in particular:  Community, Empowerment,  Women and Humanity.  And, together these words speak volumes on how Women coming together form an amazing and Empowering Community that truly (and literally) makes a difference building better lives for all Humanity…What can I say :“WE WOMEN ROCK”.

Ok, so why am I so personally jazzed?  See last weekend I had the honor of spending two amazing days hosting events in NYC and NJ/Paterson for Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Fifth Annual National Women Build Week.  It’s an initiative they’ve partnered on that takes place the week leading up to Mother’s Day.  The 411 is it challenges women to pick up a hammer and join fellow women at construction sites across the country to help build affordable homes alongside  the local family for whom the home is being built.  So here are some of my 1000 plus word pix-

PLEASE NOTE; Doug my trusty photographer aka Beau the Builder took many more pix which will be posted later in the week so if some of you terrif peeps who participated aren’t seen here you will be and deserve to be!

 Day One:  I was in Paterson ‘spreading the glove’ with hardhat, hammer and fellow jersey gals:

Just like a Chorus line!Go ladies…wall’s up!

Giving New Meaning to Hitting Nail on the Head!

Givin’ new meaning to hitting the nail on the head!

Joinin’ hammers w/BUILD GENERATION-gals 18-24! Love her red locks!

Day Two:  I was in NYC at the New York city Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Taft Houses Youth Chorus Center celebrating a ‘brush with kindness’ with paintbrush, shovel,  Lowe’s Heroes, local volunteers, 

And my new best BFF WNBA”S five time Olympian/gold medalist, Teresa Edwards… whom I challenged to a 1 on 1 match and beat gloves down…NOT!

My new BFF, wonder woman Teresa Edwards

OOPS! Accidental me 🙂

NYC fam partner Dimitrea Tokunbo, Hab-by volunteer, moi ‘n Teresa brushing it up!

Hi ho! Hi ho it’s off to dig i go!

She gave me one…backwards LOL!

That’s all for now…just want to say thank you thank you thank you to all my Habitat for Humanity Paterson, NYC and national buds for inviting me to host…gloves are packed and ready to go whenever you need me xo 

PS;  One mo’ thing that I’ll just tease here…at the NYC event I was blown away by the NYCHA Youth Chorus who gave an amazing and inspiring performance. 

Joyfull Noise from NYCHA Youth Choir that made us all smile:)

And, they ended it with my new fave song SMILE by Kirk Franklin…but that’s a blog for another day…But for today remember “you look so much better when you smile” 🙂 Spread the glove!

“ME TARZAN, YOU JANE” MEET WE HOUSEWIVES :)

As the legendary  comediene Phyllis Diller once said, “Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?” Brilliant words indeed.  And, it’s how i approach the level of attention I give to it which in part led me  to embracing and admitting that i am an accidental housewife vs. Martha Stewart or Suzie Home-maker. I’m all about doing just enough to keep my son from starvation; my home looking terrif with minimal upkeep; health inspectors away and lest we not overlook: my sanity and manicure in tact.   That’s why whenever I discover something that also saves me time, money and the environment it’s a tri-fecta and I’m all over it…

Which leads to a new carpet that my buds at Carpet One Floor & Home sent me to try out.  It’s called Tigressa…love the name-somehow conjures up images of ‘me Tarzan you Jane’ lying on the carpet getting wild…or in their case lyin on a Leopard skin:

Okay well maybe that’s a stretch , must be my imagination going wild with a mild case of heat stroke courtesy of the record-breaking warm weather here in the NorthEast!  So forgive my di-gressa from Tigressa 🙂  

Lots of companies send me products to try out, and having worked with Carpet One a few years back and their commitment to Breast Cancer Awareness, I was happy to oblige when Terri Daniels, their head public relations guru, all around terrif person and fellow Dirty Martini lover reached out to me.  That, and two other reasons:

1. I am a humongous slob and notorious/repeat red wine spiller…another reason for my ‘accidental’ moniker!  And, why God created my favorite carpet cleaning service Stanley Steemer whom i now have on speed dial!

2. I am thinking of refinishing my basement and want to be sure I put in carpet that looks good, is soft on my feetsies, durable, affordable and mega stain resistant for my many ‘accidental’ spills…( a reason i am thinking of drinking only clear libations …long live my ‘Tini LOL!)

And, dare I say Tigressa is the besta:

  • Looks terrif-love it’s black since it doesn’t show most any dirt or stain!
  • Soft on my feet and comfy to lie on solo or …
  • Passed the Accidental Spill Test: Though i didn’t do this accidentally, I did spill my fave dirty tini on the rug and to my delight it pooled up making it a housewifely dream to blot and quickly clean up.   That also means moisture won’t get trapped below and possibly cause mold to grow–major sanity saving plus!  

    Look mom! No gloves required...Love that! Back to 'tini time!

  • And, just in case that glass of red leaves a  mark, Tigress comes with  a Lifetime Stain Warrantee (20 years) which means they’ll replace it gratis…love that!
  • Oh one more thing too–it’s eco-friendly!
So my friends, if you’re in the market to do some Spring Freshening of your floors that is also terrif if you’ve got messy kiddies (duh! is their any any other kind) and pets,  visit a Carpet One store (www.carpetone.com/tigressa), take your shoes off, spill some water (or wine if you have your sippy to go cup but don’t tell ’em i told you to!) and see all the 1000 colors and textures Tigressa’s avail in…Not to mention it’s on sale now….BTW, imagining yourself as Tarzan ‘n Jane will be your call…of the wild. Meow!  Spread the glove!

CELEBRATING ST. PADDY’S DAY ‘N YOUR FAVE BREWS MANY USES

Top of the morn ‘n Happy St. Paddy’s Day!  

Lucky's St. Paddy's Tip!

Another stellar day here in New Jersey for a parade, bike ride, finding a four leaf clover, and indulging in some corned beef ‘n cabbage, shepard’s pie, and/or beer of any shade! So in the spirit of the day, I wanted to share some unusual ‘n money-saving uses for that ole pint of brewsky should you not trade it as “Lucky’ has or have any left over tomorrow!

1. Brass Pot Cleaner- Use an old soft cloth and rub some onto the pot.  Let sit ‘no have a brewsky if you like then return, rinse and buff with another soft clean cloth.

2. Wood Furniture Polisher-Actually this is perfect for any flat beer you have left from celebrating. Dampen a microfiber cloth and gently rub some on your wood furnture to bring back the luster.

3. Gold Cleaner-If you were lucky enough to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or have some dull looking gold jewelry just put it in a bowl with enough beer to cover it.  Let sit for a bit, rinse then polish with a dry micro-fiber cloth. 

4. Red Wine Stain Remover: If red wine is your drink of choice and ye miss your mouth, first sop up as much as you can with some paper towels then dab with a light colored beer.  Steam clean when finito and then switch to white 🙂

5. Skin Softener: Rub a dub dub not as in have someone pour it over your head but in chilling and taking a real bath in your tub.  The yeast and other ingredients in beer are terrific for softening, exfoliating and cleansing your skin.

6. Hair Lightener  & Conditioner – Simply soak your hair in beer and lay in the sun to both lighten and condition…think of the money you’ll save vs going to your hairstylist!

7. Stuff the Bugs Us Trap-With springtime upon us and for those who love to garden just put some in an empty jar and ‘plant’ the jar leaving the open rims at ground level.  Slugs ‘n snails love the smell so they’ll ‘drop in’ for a cocktail 🙂  BTW also works to get trap mice who will simply get drunk and then you can set them free outside.  Roaches too, but you’ll have to put a thin coat of Vaseline around the rim so they so they can’t escape.

Spread the glove!

KARIM RASHAD, BUBBLY IN PINK ‘N ENJOYING MORE W/LESS

Happy Over the Hump Wednesday!

Went to the launch party last night for uber hip and talented English/Egyptian designer Karim Rashid at one of the Bo Concept stores in NYC.   As an accidental New Jersey housewife, Karim and my world don’t meet often these days but when I was invited by my good bud and coincidentally their fab publicist Dolly Hiller I had to go.  For my fellow suburban moms, Karim is THE NAME in interior design, furniture, lighting and art with  permanent collections in 15 museums world wide including MoMA in NYC…So attending this soiree was a no brainer and a perfect excuse for a nite out!

Ok, so let’s begin with the man himself, Rashid…there he was standing around 6’4′ give or take an inch or two in a pink suit..yup pink…

Rashad loves pink cause he loves it’s energy, beauty and it’s positive sense/love of life.  And, how could I not immediately bond and love the work of a person who’s fave colors are the same as mine…pink and apple green!  Just wish i had know cause i would have worn my signature pink gloves and brought a pair for him!   

Rashad  loves pink so much he’s designed a loveseat for Veuve Clicquot Rose Champagne…

And, a limited edition chandelier cooler. My personal fave 

For any of my loved ones n fam reading this and wondering what to give me as a housewarming gift someday wonder no longer …BTW: Worry not, I’ll provide the bubbly and “D” studly handler for the cooler…LOL!

Now to last eve and his newest design tour de force “The Ottawa Collection”.  It celebrates his 30 years of design. Sleek, chic, affordable and oh so easy to maintain is the best way to describe this clearly urban collection that would have been perfect way back when I was a NYC working gal. Rashid described it to me as ‘sensual, calming and pleasurable without excess because at the end of the day less is more”  which is how i’m trying to live my life these days and what my whole “Living the Rid Life” (www.juliestips.com ) is all about. Here a few pix from the collection and you can learn and see mucho more by visiting his site http://www.karimrashid.com/ 

Jigsaw vases...how cool!

Love the rug! Won't show dirt!

After chatting with Rashim, the clock ticking and my free time running out,  I decided to enjoy the moment, feel the calm, the sensuality and pretend I was that NYC single working gal from days gone by.  So I kicked backed, put my feet up and enjoyed a glass of bubbly  because as RAshid said ‘at the end of the day less is more’ …Got that right! Spread the Glove!