Fashion by the Decade

May 15, 2017  
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Family Room volunteer Mary Hart modeled an Eileen Fisher fashion from local boutique Expressions at the Spring Blooms! Fashion Show and Dinner, a benefit for VNA’s Janet S. Munt Family Room that was held on Thursday, April 6.

Family Room volunteer Mary Hart modeled an Eileen Fisher fashion from local boutique Expressions at the Spring Blooms! Fashion Show and Dinner, a benefit for VNA’s Janet S. Munt Family Room that was held on Thursday, April 6.

Local comedian Autumn Spencer fills the role of emcee.

Local comedian Autumn Spencer fills the role of emcee.

What goes around comes around…and when it comes to fashion trends this year, the wheel seems to just go round faster and faster. Fashion designers have long borrowed from the past, but this year, there is something from every decade.  Read more

The Fashion Year in Review

January 3, 2017  
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   Fashion meets high tech function. Find jeans that fit with smart leggings outfitted with sensors that send your measurements to an app via Bluetooth.

Fashion meets high tech function. Find jeans that fit with smart leggings outfitted with sensors that send your measurements to an app via Bluetooth.


By Sharon Mosley

Ring in the new but retire the old? Not so fast! Hang onto those pompom beanies. Here are some of the best fashion trends of 2016 that promise to still be around for the year ahead.

–The year of virtual fashion. High tech met functional fashion this past year to get us all really connected to our clothes. Think computer chips in your sneakers that track all your moves, to smart leggings that take your measurements for jeans to body-scanning clothing tags that give you suggestions on how to style your outfits. Expect to see more and more tech-friendly fashion in 2017 like a denim jacket from Levi’s and Google that will add new meaning to just swipe and go.

–The year of the boot. Yes, boots have been around for years, but in 2016, boots had an incredible year, becoming classic staples for the whole family. From ankle boots to platform midi boots to thigh-highs, boots will kick-start the New Year. Try a fur-trimmed pair to really warm things up.

–The year of velvet. Velvet was one of the big stars of 2016 for both men and women. Colorful pants, dresses, tunics and jackets added a chic touch to festive wardrobes. From shining metallic to inky blues, look for velvet to slink right into the New Year at a party near you.

–The year of embellishment. It was all about embroidery this year…on denim jeans and jackets, handbags and boots. Whether it was DIY patchwork or handstitched designer-inspired art, it was the extra details that gave clothes and accessories a unique touch. Minimalists need not apply. More was more.

–The year of supersizing. Fashion designers went into overdrive this past year, creating roomy, oversized jackets, tops and sweaters. These slightly slouchy looks are the perfect way to ease into the chilly months of the New Year. So get cozy while you can. But remember, swimsuit season is not far away.

–The year of flower power. Not since the ’60s have we had so much fun with florals. Wearing them head to toe and mixing them all together in a riot of colors was one trend that continues to blossom into 2017. Take a chance and plant a few of these in your wardrobe in the spring season ahead.

–The year of “bath-leisure.” The track suit pant may have morphed into office attire thanks to the “ath-leisure” trend, but pajamas and bath robes hit the streets as well as the runways. “Onesies,” even hit the cover of a magazine for the holiday season courtesy of Oprah Winfrey. So if you’re tired of your yoga pants, just relax and celebrate the New Year in your jammies.

–The year of the cold shoulder. It had to be one of the “it” looks of the season. The top that bared the best of our erogenous zones was seen on the red carpet, at holiday parties and even on our First Lady, Michelle Obama, a style icon in her own right.  – CNS

–The year of the pantsuit. And speaking of political style savvy, Hillary Clinton proved that professional style is alive and well with her bold colorful pantsuits. So if flower power is not growing on you, take a chance with a stand-out pantsuit. You might get more votes than you ever dreamed.

–The year of celebrating all shapes and sizes. It may be the best trend of all…when curvy supermodel Ashley Graham appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimwear issue in 2016, it was a super special moment. This plus-size model signaled a wave change in the fashion waters that hopefully will only gain more momentum in the year to come.


Fabulous Five for Fall

September 15, 2016  
Filed under Blogs

The statement blouse or jacket is a key item to buy for fall. (Photo courtesy of

The statement blouse or jacket is a key item to buy for fall. (Photo courtesy of

By Sharon Mosley

There are lots of ways to update our wardrobes and put a new spin on the old standbys. Here’s a quick list of the basic must-haves to get you started.

Start with something velvet. Velvet is making a huge comeback this fall, but refined in dressed up details and softened flowing silhouettes enriched with jewel-tone colors and embellishments. Read more

Spring Showstoppers

June 10, 2016  
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Make a statement this summer in sunglasses inspired by 1950s movie stars such as these from La Perla.

Make a statement this summer in sunglasses inspired by 1950s movie stars such as these from La Perla.

By Sharon Mosley

If you have to just pick one item this season to add to your wardrobe, make sure it is a real showstopper. “Every outfit needs one showbiz item,” says Alyson Walsh, fashion blogger and author of “Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous.”

Select a standout piece to perk things up…something that you’ll want to wear until it falls apart,” adds Walsh. “Think maximum impact, minimum effort.”

So what will play a starring role in this season’s fashion line-up? Here are 10 “showbiz” pieces to think about adding to your wardrobe this spring:

Power Prints. From abstract batiks to tropical florals, the bigger and bolder the prints are this spring and summer, the better. Wear prints from top to bottom for maximum effect in a romantic dress or combine two prints in a top and pants.

Maxi Dresses. These are long on style and make a major fashion statement, whether you wear them on the beach or to the office. In flowing knits and colorful prints, the maxi dress is the perfect transition statement piece for spring into summer, easy to add or take away layers for even more versatility.

Shiny Tops. A showbiz star for sure. The shimmery top or jacket is taking center stage this spring …from iridescent gauze tops to metallic leather jackets. Silver and black make a big combo for spring. Wear these pieces day and night. Don’t just save them for special occasions.

Wide Leg Pants. These have movie-star glamour appeal. In soft knits, these pants go with the flow of warmer days and nights. In cropped versions, they give every outfit a fresh spin on spring. For evening, there’s nothing more chic than a pair of long palazzo pants. Top them off with a breezy cropped bomber jacket.

Bare Shoulder Tops. Time to show off those sun-kissed shoulders. It’s easy with the new prairie-style peasant blouses reminiscent of the ‘70s. Team them with pleated skirts or wide-leg pants. Balance the fuller silhouette by wearing chunkier block-heeled sandals.

Arts and Craft Handbags. We all know how much a new handbag can instantly update wardrobe basics. This spring, you can put away the heavy black leather totes and get a little artsy. It’s all about embellishment — more is more in 3-D details from glistening mirror hardware to graphic decoupage designs. Choose unique prints and colors and make a real bohemian statement with your handbag.

Choker Necklaces. Put the turtlenecks away and pull out the jewelry box. The choker necklace has made a comeback in Victorian-inspired beads and jeweled collars — again, the bigger, the better. Show-stopping chokers are great complements for off-the-shoulder tops.

Shoulder-grazing Earrings. It’s no wonder that long sculptured earrings are dangling from the most stylish ears this spring. They’re also perfect accessories for bare shoulders. And if you really want to make a showbiz statement, try wearing only one standout earring.

Rainbow-colored Shoes. A pair of new shoes can transport you into a whole new realm of style… even over the rainbow. You’ll find the candy-colored rainbow striped shoes in everything from platforms to sneakers this spring.

Movie Star Sunglasses. Sunglasses have long been a cool classic with jet-set appeal. You can’t go wrong with a pair of Aviators for instant style. But if you really want to give yourself the star treatment, check out the new collection of sunglasses at La Perla inspired by 1950s movie stars. Then channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and look at the world in a whole new way. — CNS 

BYOB Club Member in Good Standing — Getting Better Every Day

January 6, 2016  
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loaf of rye bread on a background of ripe rye field at sunsetBY MARY HUNT


For years, I’d had a love-hate relationship with baking bread. It’s a domestic skill I could never master, and that bothered me.

When I tried, four out of five loaves flopped. Then, in an act of mercy from the yeast gods, I’d turn out a specimen fit for judging at the Iowa State Fair. Eventually, the outrageous price of store-bought bread led me to a method and book with the same title: “The NEW Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.”

Sure. Like anyone in her right mind would believe that. Five minutes a day? If this book were touting some prepackaged mix or pricey piece of equipment, I wouldn’t be interested.

But in no time at all, the verdict was in. It’s true. Authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have taken the home-baking world by storm, having created a method that takes out all of the variables of baking yeast breads: the time, the hassle, the waiting and the worrying. And the book includes gluten-free recipes!

I stand before you a changed woman, and a consistent home baker of artisan bread. It’s the rustic, beautiful kind of bread you see in a European bakery. It’s the kind of bread that is made once a day, consumed by the family and then replaced the following day. Every day.

I am as busy as I ever was, and even I have five minutes a day to bake bread. While I had to put my daily baking efforts on the shelf, so to speak, during the many long months of our out-of-state transition and move, gluten-free recipes: I’m back! I’m quite possibly the most enthusiastic member of the BYOB movement (bake your own bread). I’m toying with the idea of making 2016 the year that we don’t buy bread at all — and still have bread every day of the year.

Here’s my routine:

On Saturday, I take about 10 minutes to make up the master recipe. The ingredients are simple: water, flour, yeast and salt. That’s it. I measure the ingredients and mix to combine them. Then, I dump the dough into my “dough-rising box” (a 40-cup plastic container with a lid), leave it on the counter for two hours and then move it to the refrigerator. It makes enough dough for eight one-pound loaves. The dough will last for two weeks in the fridge.

When I want to bake a loaf, I open the box, grab a wad of dough, dust it with a little flour, shape it and set it on a wooden pizza peel. There it sits for 40 minutes to an hour as the oven preheats and I do other things. I pop it into the oven on a baking stone and 30 minutes later, we have fresh, European bakery-style bread. Did I say no kneading?

Since I became a BYOB-er, I’ve used the master dough to make breadsticks, soft pretzels, pizza and dinner rolls.

Here’s the best part: A decent loaf of bread at my store is now closing in on $4 per loaf. A loaf of my homemade artisan bread costs forty cents, one-tenth the cost and 10 times better.

There’s something more that comes with baking bread. It’s soul-soothing. I love knowing that I have yeast in the freezer and flour in the pantry. It makes me feel self-reliant. I like that.




Help! My Aluminum Cookware is Pitted and Stained!

January 5, 2016  
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THURSDAY, January 5

Dear Mary: Please tell me why my aluminum pans and cookware have turned dark and become rough to the touch. I believe it may be from the dishwasher. Other than these marks and stains, my 60-year old pans (I got them at my bridal shower!) look the same as new ones I see in the stores today. Only the price has changed. What can I do to restore my pots and pans? Love your column. — Etta

Dear Etta: Let’s start with the “pitting” — corrosion that creates tiny holes in the metal. Undoubtedly, this is the result of having put these pans through the dishwasher. Aluminum should never be put into a dishwasher, but rather be washed by hand in mild dishwashing liquid.

Most dishwasher detergents are extremely alkaline and readily pit and discolor aluminum. Dishwasher detergents can also create a kind of grey film on the surface of aluminum, which can become difficult if not impossible to scrub off.

I am afraid there may be nothing you can do to remove the pits. However, there is a rather simple way to remove the dark, ugly discoloration that often appears in well-used aluminum cookware.

You want to fill the stained aluminum pot with a highly acidic solution: For each quart of water you need add 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, white vinegar OR lemon juice. Any one of these items will create a highly acidic solution, which will reduce discoloration due to oxidation. If you have other aluminum items like flatware that has become discolored, you can add these pieces to the pot.

If you need to clean the outside of a pot as well as the inside, try submerging it in a larger pot (doesn’t have to be aluminum, as the acid solution will not harm stainless steel or other types of pots) that you have filled with this acidic solution.

Set the pot on the stovetop and bring the solution to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the burner off when the aluminum brightens, allowing the pot and its contents to cool. Pour the solution down the drain.

If any discoloration remains, gently scrub the pot with a scrubber sponge. Avoid using steel wool, which is too abrasive and could cause future problems on aluminum.

Another option: Use a gentle aluminum cleaner meant for cookware instead of the boiling method above. Our friends at Bar Keeper’s Friend have introduced a fabulous cleanser and polisher, Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser & Polish that does a great job cleaning up all kinds of cookware including aluminum. You might give this a try on the pitting. Provided the damage is not severe, you may be able to rub out the pitting enough to bring your venerable and well-loved cookware back to it’s bright and shiny appearance.

Dear Mary: I am totally baffled as to how to remove spots/stains from khaki colored items. It seems that no matter what I use, even plain water, I am left with a noticeably discolored area that is worse than the spot itself. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should deal with this situation? Thanks so much for all the advice you offer; you make being a cheapskate fun. — Kris

Dear Kris: I don’t know what you have tried to remove these stains, however, I am the world’s biggest fan of Soilove, (as in “soil love”) an inexpensive laundry stain remover I’ve been using for so many years I’m embarrassed to admit. I have never encountered the kind of problem you describe on colors or khaki items. Could it be that you are scrubbing some of the color away as you try to remove that stain?

I can still get a 16-ounce bottle of Soilove for $.99 at 99 Cents Only stores (located in only a few states), from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer (the owners have become dear friends of mine over the years and have set up a direct purchase option for my Everyday Cheapskate family). Soilove is a truly remarkable and cheap product!  Here’s the info to order direct:

Option 1: Three 16-oz. bottles Soilove: $9.95 including shipping and handling, delivered within continental U.S.

Option 2: Twelve 16-oz. bottles Soilove: $15 plus actual UPS shipping charge.

My second line of defense, because not even Soilove can remove every stain (for sure it will not remove yellow mustard), I rely on Lestoil, (as in “less toil”) which can be hard to find, but still available if you know where to look.

Dear Mary: Thank you for the great column on layaway. I remember that from when I was in college many years ago. While I used layaway and paid for the items in full, I have the vague recollection that by the time I picked them up, the bloom was off the rose. God Bless you for all you do! — Sarah

Dear Sarah: You may have just come up with another reason layaway is a good option: It nips impulsive shopping in the bud. With layaway you have time to rethink that purchase. With credit card shopping, by the time you get around to regretting the purchase, the deed has been done and the debt incurred. Thank you for being such a fun and loyal reader!

For more info on the products mentioned above please visit

Would you like more information? Log on to, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



A New Addition to the Customer Service Hall of Fame

January 4, 2016  
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January 4, 2016

The way a company deals with its customers after the sale is as important as what happens to get that sale in the first place. I am quick to criticize companies who give poor customer service — and have done so right here. And when a company gives excellent customer service, I believe they should get equal billing.

Last March, I stopped by Babies R Us to purchase a gift card for a very special baby shower. Our second grandson would be due in only a few weeks; I was in a frenzy, packing and preparing for our big move to Colorado. Our son and daughter-in-law had created a registry at Babies R Us. I knew they would appreciate a gift card to get exactly what they needed, when they needed it, and I would appreciate saving a little time by not having to figure out exactly what that might be.

The store manager helped me with this purchase, which I recall specifically in that we had a nice chat about store managing stuff. Drawing from my best advice when purchasing anything that holds a promise, such as a deposit or tickets for something in the future, I paid for the $100 Gift Card with a credit card — on my way to the shower. I quickly signed the card and tucked the cute Baby Boy Gift Card inside.

Several weeks later, Wendy went back to the very same store to purchase baby items. At the check out the clerk regretfully told her that the card had no value on it. The clerk tried several times to input the card for payment, each time showing Wendy how it registered at $0.00. What?! The clerk mentioned that perhaps the value had been stolen, but offered no remedy.

It was weeks later that Wendy received a phone call from Babies R Us. We can only imagine that they connected the event with her registry to get her phone number. They explained that indeed that somehow between the moment that she activated the card and presented it for payment its value had been stolen. We’ve all heard about this happening, right? But this time, I’d already reimbursed her with cash and she no longer had the bad card. Thankfully, she’d given it back to me.

Now you’re probably way ahead of me. Yep, in the move and all, I totally misplaced that bad gift card. And could I find the original receipt? In your dreams. I wish I were more organized. But since I’d paid for it with a credit card, I had the transaction number. I had proof that I’d purchased it. Had I bought it with cash, I would have been out of luck without the original receipt.

With that transaction number, the Gift Card number and PIN (I did find it, whew!), I went online to Babies R Us. Using the live chat feature, I explained my plight. Wow! Such wonderful people work at this company. Within about 20 minutes, that kind chat person had the situation figured out, including how to fix it. In short order ,the company replaced the gift card in its full value with their kindest apologies. Impressive.

Babies R Us is the newest entry in the Everyday Cheapskate Customer Service Hall of Fame. I’m grateful and have a newly warmed place in my heart for the company. And an even warmer place for babies in general and our sweet Sam in particular.

Question: Who would you add to our Customer Service Hall of Fame?



Tips for Great Style

December 30, 2015  
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FASHION - smo112415adAPIf you find yourself standing in front of your mirror and thinking you really don’t have anything to wear to the party tonight, it’s time to upgrade the glam factor of your wardrobe. Take a cue from Jenny Levin one of the editors of ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’

Read more

Green Smoothies and Grateful Readers

December 30, 2015  
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kiwi juiceBY MARY HUNT

Some days I can’t believe how lucky I am. Not only do I get to communicate with this growing audience of readers, but many of you also reciprocate with lovely responses. Every single day I open my mailbox and out spills wonderful notes, letters — even an occasional multiple-page tome. Mostly, you send me questions, but now and then it’s just a wonderful thank you note. Always, I’m grateful for your feedback.

Dear Mary: I am marching in your army of green smoothie breakfasters! Is your recipe (see previous column, “Turns Out It IS Easy Being Green”) for one or two people? (Asked as she obligingly drinks the whole thing, which seems quite adequate!) — Christine

Dear Christine: You just made me laugh out loud envisioning you marching in your green uniform, smoothie in hand. It is a recipe for one single 16-ounce smoothie, and yes, it makes for a very adequate, healthy smoothie. You could easily divide this to make two smaller servings, but I do like your style. Happy to have you in the army, by the way.

Dear Mary: I just have to say Thank You! I recently purchased the Shark Navigator Life-Away Professional vacuum that you have written about — even though I have a good vacuum and am trying to minimize my possessions. Oh my! I have been vacuuming for a week straight and am still getting dirt out of my family room carpeting. What’s more, it even feels like new carpeting under our feet. Not to mention that this machine is also beautiful — white and silver! This is just indicative of the numerous ways your wisdom and insight has blessed my family and me. Hope I get to see you in person again sometime (I was in the audience when you spoke in Naperville, Ill., several years ago). — Nancy

Dear Nancy: Yours is the ninth message I’ve received just this week from readers who are also ecstatic over their Shark vacuums. I know the feeling — I get it every time I put my Sharky to work. I have moved from being embarrassed by what he gets out of the carpet to feeling kinda’ self-righteous, knowing that finally my carpeting is really clean. Now it’s easy to keep it that way. I try to stay on top of even the smallest spot so it doesn’t become a stain, using the spot treatment Spot Shot.

It was great to hear from you and to recall that evening in Naperville. When I walked to the podium, I was shocked nearly to tears to see my college music professor, Wilbur David Ellsworth and his wife Jean, sitting front and center. I had not seen them since graduation day. Knowing that you were there as well makes that memory extra special.


Getting Debt-Free Plus the Best Machine to Clean Tile Floors

December 21, 2015  
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Old calculator showing a textBY MARY HUNT


Dear Mary: After reading your books and columns for several years, I am ecstatic to report that I am almost debt-free; my credit card debt is history! I can’t thank you enough for your encouraging words and sage counsel.

Now I need to know how to find a low-interest card — preferably a no annual fee type — to use mainly for online purchases, and which will be paid off monthly. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this and would appreciate any information you could provide. Thanks for everything! — Sherry

Dear Sherry: Congratulations on your amazing progress toward becoming debt-free. I am so very proud of you. This is an almost amazing accomplishment, so keep going and don’t ever give up. You’ll be there soon, and what a wonderful debt-free day that will be for you!

As for your question regarding a low-interest card, I would suggest that the interest rate not be your primary consideration. You will never carry a balance on it, so your primary consideration should be that is it has no annual fee. Second, it must have an excellent grace period of at least 21 days. Next it should be either a MasterCard or Visa and last you want to get the lowest interest rate you can.

Using a credit card as a tool, not a weapon with which to do yourself harm, will be a new way of life for you. Expect to face the temptation of allowing a balance to roll over. It will happen. However, I am confident that the hard work you have done and the financial maturity you have achieved will carry you through those moments of temptation, keeping you on the straight and narrow path to financial freedom!

I recommend that you go to This is a kind of directory of every credit card being offered, arranged by category. Plan to spend some time searching for the card that is right for you.

Dear Mary: Can you tell me which floor-cleaning machine you would recommend for tile? — Lou

Dear Lou: Now that I live in a house with some ceramic tile floors, I found myself wondering the same thing. But rather than only tile floor, I wanted to find the best inexpensive power machine to clean hardwood and laminate flooring, too.

About six months ago, following a good deal of research, I purchased the Shark Sonic Duo Carpet and Hard Floor Cleaner for about $115. I knew that it would do one more thing, but I wasn’t that interested in the carpet scrubbing option because as you may know, I am in love with my Hoover Steam Vac. But in an effort to give the machine a fair trial, I tested that feature as well. Honestly, I am thrilled with this little machine! It is truly remarkable. It is so really lightweight, and easily swivels under counters and around corners. And boy does it scrub! The manufacturer boasts 1,000 scrubs per minute.

My Shark Sonic Duo came with a remarkable supply of supplies: five different cleaning pads — one for each of the applications. All are very sturdy, and easy to wash and dry. And I got four different bottles of concentrated cleaners: Carpet cleaning, Pre-treater, Wood and Hard Floor Cleaning and Wood and Hard Floor Polish. All of these products are highly concentrated, with easy instructions for how to mix with water to fill the tank. After six months of active use, I haven’t come close to using up even half of these products. I will have no qualms about using our homemade hard floor cleaner in the refillable dispenser, and I promise to report back here.

So my response is that I would highly recommend Shark Sonic Duo machine for your tile needs — and all other types of flooring as well. However, if you prefer a single purpose machine to clean just your tile flooring, take a look at the Hoover TwinTank Steam Mop (about $70). Please understand that while I have not personally tested this machine, this steam mop gets many excellent reviews and that gives me confidence in suggesting it for your tile floors. I hope that helps — and no, I do not work for the Shark or the Hoover companies — to answer a question I do get from time to time.

To find more information and links to the products mentioned above please visit .


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