Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baby Monitors: We have come a long way!!

I was running into the Apple store yesterday to look at a few things I needed for my iPhone and iPad and had Gadget Envy for something I don’t really have any use for anymore; the Smart Baby Monitor.

As a mother of 2, I wish I had this available back then. Being as dependent as I am now on both my iPhone and my iPad, I am certain this little gadget would have come in handy and made life easier.

Clear image, wide-agle, night-mode with infrared camera for dim conditions, digital soud to hear your baby clearly, as well as alerts for temperature, moisture, sound and motion so you can do what you need to keep baby sleeping longer. 

Other features include the ability to talk to your baby remotely, play a lullaby, and changing night lights.

The monitor can connect via WI-FI hotspot wherever your are connected to your iphone, ipod or ipad. You also have options with Ethernet, and always via Bluetooth. For all those techy Moms out there, this gadget at $299 although a bit pricey will probably afford you plenty of rewards and comforts.

Gandget Envy aside, this product is So Perf!

Would you use this baby monitor?

Rossana G-A 

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maintaining your beauty tools and products.

I admit, I've been on a cleaning binge. I just cleaned my hair tools and drawers, and I moved on to makeup brushes, and beauty product drawers. I have had my fair share of skin issues, and I can't stress enough the importance of keeping your brushes clean. Once a month should be enough.

It is so easy and quick, and you can do so with shampoo. Why shampoo? Because it maintains the brush hairs better than hand soap. You could splurge on a brush cleaning liquid, but I've done so and I don't see a difference under than how thin my wallet gets.

Use just enough water to cover the tips of your tools, and poor a bit of shampoo on top of each tool, one at a time to make sure it gets enough.  Stir it up a bit to see some suds.

Pull out one tool at a time and gently work the shampoo in. Wash them off slowly till the water runs clear. Repeat the shampoo process again if you don't get clear running water the first time.    

This is my blush brush. See the blush color dripping down. The brush even looked a bit pink before washing it and in the end it goes back to the natural brush color.

Repeat this process with every brush. Below is my powder brush. It's clean now.

 Eyebrow and eyelash defining brush. A good scrub by running your thumb through to let the shampoo sink in, run it through the water and you should be set.

I also cleaned my brush bag. Pat them down with a towel, and let them air dry. If in a hurry, you can dry the brushes faser by using your hair dryer on low.

I use a Translucent Hobby Case I purchased at The Container Store®.  in 2009 as my beauty caddy. It fits a ton.

Manicure and pedicure tools, polishes, hair products, etcs. It all fit very well and very organized.

For my taller and/or larger beauty products like hair spray, or products of more every day use, I went with two tall drawers. They are Like-it® Modular Drawers, the Tall Narrow variety, but I find the whole series very useful and may end up getting more for other things in the kitchen and bathroom.

I use the top drawer for my make-up remover, face lotion, deodorant, and daily make-up at the front, and the rest of my tall products in the back.

I use the bottom drawer to keep my hair rollers and electric hair tools (curling irons, flat iron, hair dryer. Perfect fit for all. Or should I say, So Perf!?!

What do you use to keep your beauty products organized?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Venti Latte at home

Always the coffee lover, I was interested last year in finding out how much I was spending on coffee. I would drop by Starbucks almost every day and order a venti latte and drive off merrily to work. I didn't do it every day simply because I knew it was an added expense, and yet the coffee smell drew me in more often than not. Don't get me wrong, I drank coffee absolutely every morning, but regular old fashioned drip coffee from my coffee maker at home was not the same somehow.

So I did the rough math. I estimated that if I was to buy a venti latte every day as a most desperately desired, at about $4.00 a serving (20 ounces of dark rosted heaved with warm frothy milk), I was spending $1,460 a year. And those numbers are averaged to account for price differences by location, as well as tax differences. Also, that was just for my consumption when dear hubby was just as bad an offender if not worse.

Then I though of all the waste of those paper cups and cardboard heat sleeves. OK, so you can take your mug a refill it, but how many people actually do that?

I took another stab at math, and I estimated a latte, the same size, made at home would cost me about $1.00. This is accounting for a $3.19 gallon of milk (that's for me in the Bay Area), at 16 cups each, which would be roughly $0.20 a cup. Then a pound of my favorite coffee at $12.95 each, with 45 servings is about $0.29 a serving. Double both up since ventis need 2 shots of espresso and 2 cups of milk. I didn't go as far as estimating electricity, but the numbers seamed compelling enough for me.

I researched espresso machines, and was shocked to find machines in the thousands. Not for me though. So I went to the other extreme and bought one with nice reviews for less than $50. It made pretty good espresso, but it clogged up a few times, and then it broke down all together in less than 2 weeks. Lesson learned!! 

I researched further and found one for just under $150 with tons of good reviews. The Breville Cafe Modena Espresso Machine has been making wonderfully robusts coffee for me for almost a year now and I have no complaints complaints. 

Estimating 365 servings a year x $1.00 for the venti sized latte + $150 for the machine, I have already saved about $945 for the first year and just for my coffee and not hubby's. Not bad at all.

I did make a few additional expenses along the way.

I had a coffee mug before, but apparently it was a size Grande (16 oz) and I was already used to that extra little bit. So I bought the one you see in the first picture on this post for about $16 a year ago at my local Starbucks.

I also bought the items you see below

A coffee canister for $20, an espresso glass carafe for another $12, a metal milk frothing jug for $15, and the Braun Coffee Grinder you see here was a gift from several years back, but I found it again on Amazon for $69 in case you are interested. 

So, all and all I think the small additional expenses gave me a So Perf! feeling of accomplishment, being green, and saving green, while still getting my coffee fix every single day.

Are you thinking of spending some cash to save some cash on your coffee fix?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Maintaining your hair accessories.

Having 2 girls in one household makes for lots of hair tools and accessories. Hair clips, hair bands, pins, scrunchies, ribbons, hairbrushes, round brushes, combs, etc. Getting your hair done every day can become more work than it should be if you don't take care of all of them, and stay organized.

Here are some of the things I do and use to keep everything nice, clean, organized, and us our the door on-time every morning:

I use two clear Iris® tint stacking drawers to help keep things separated and organized. I got them in 2009 at The Container Store®. The have them in different sizes .

The top one is for my daughter and all her colorful things, including her hair brushes and combs. It is usually best to avoid sharing hair tools and accessories.

The bottom one is for my things.

The drawers look a bit empty right know because I took out most of the brushes and combs for a bit of maintenance. First, I took off the hair still stuck on the brushes and combs, aiding myself with another brush for the bulk of it and then a fine comb for the tiny ones left behind. I try to do this every day after using them, but sometimes I run out of time and end up doing it another day. Still, you want to clean off hairs as often as possible, and definitely before washing them. 

You can wash your combs and brushes in hot or warm water with a bit of your own shampoo. It would be best to do this once a month, but who am I kidding? I do this once every 4-6 months. You can through them all in, let them suds up a bit, and then go in for a good scrubbing.

I usually use my thickest brush to clean the rest, then clean that one with one of the smaller brushes.

I am always surprised by what ends up at the bottom of my washing bin. Yuk!

Then, shake them off, brush off excess water on top of a bath towel, and leave them to air dry.

After a few hours, they are SoPerf, and I feel I'm ready to start my week fresh.

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I do love me some Pizza!!!!

Pizza is a favorite food all over the country, but few places have such great dough and sauce to make the toppings' flavors pop even more. I have three pizza places than span the with of the USA. Where I first fell in love with thin crust pizza was in my alma matter's neighborhood. The name, Ardovino's Pizza.  Originally opened in 1961 as a gourmet and italian food mart, it later expanded to include a pizzeria and delicatessen. For over half a century it has had a spectacular tasting variety of pizzas. If you are ever in El Paso, TX, make sure you drop in.

When I moved to Houston, TX, I searched far an wide for a pizza that could at least rise close to the level I had become accustomed to with Ardovino's. Tried many, got disappointed plenty, and after a few recommendations I let go of my skepticism happily when I tied the pizza at Star Pizza. Making the best pizza pies from a funky old house in Montrose/Upper Kirby since 1976, they offer both deep dish and thin crust, or as they call them "Chicago style" and "New York style".

Now in the Bay Area, my quest resumed. I had to find it, and find it I did. Patxi's Chicago Pizza (pronounced pah'-cheese) operated by partners Francisco "Patxi" Azpiroz and William Freeman, opened in the Bay Area in 2004 and has opened several location since. Their thin crust is probably too thin for me, but their regular pizza is not so thick as most others. This is my place to go when I get a pizza craving, and I'm never disappointed.   

Tonight, my son clamored for it when I got home from work, and who was I to deny him that? This is a picture of our very own, large pie. So delicious!

OK, so I wanted it too, because it is just So Perf!

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.