Friday, October 2, 2009

I've Moved

Dear Friends,

I've had one particular problem with this BlogSpot and that was readers inability to easily post a comment. For that primary reason, I have moved AnuEssentials to the WordPress blog location. You can continue to keep in touch with me via

I hope to see you there!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Birkie Girl

As the summer closes, my days of free-toes are drawing to an end. One of the things I look forward to when the weather turns warm is busting out my many pairs of Birkenstock sandals. If you know anything about me, you know that I'm a happy feet kind of gal. And with my Birkenstocks on, my toes are free, my arch is supported and I’m as happy as can be, at least my feet are.

I started wearing Birkies about 15 years ago. At the time I was still doing hair and standing on my feet for hours everyday. It was a no-brainer to realize that I really needed something that could support not only my feet, but also my entire body. The external design of the Birkenstock shoe has come a long way since those days. Today they come in an array of colors, textures, finishes, and styles. I’ve seen Birkenstocks that were designed by Heidi Klum (you know the fashion model married to Seal) that were nearly $400.00. After all, her homeland is where the Birkenstock Company was founded. They were fancy with rhinestones and all, but still…

I graduated from Fashion Industries H.S. with the esteemed title of Best Dressed in my senior year book. Who’d have thunk it that I’d grow up to be a Birkenstock wearing kind of gal? I remember a new friend of my a few years ago referred to me as a “Granola”. And when I balked at this description, she informed me that since I wore Birkenstocks nearly everyday of the summer, I could not refute her claim. Oh well, life changes doesn’t it?

I have a collection of Birkie sandals, but it’s funny, because they’re all the same style called Gizeh, just in different colors and finishes. I have Giza’s that are silver, bronze, gold, black, red patent leather, sea form green, blue with painted flowers, pink with rhinestone studded buckles, pewter, and orange. The pewter ones I’ve had for over twelve years. This year I decided that no matter what, I could not, would not purchase another pair of Birkenstocks. After all, how many pairs of Birkenstocks are enough? Considering one can have their Birkies re-corked and the soul replaced over and over again, two pairs are the most anyone ever needs at one time. But some people aren’t aware of this. In fact most young people have never even stepped foot in a shoe repair store and haven’t a clue the purpose of one.

Case in point, I know a guys who is a multi- millionaire and he seemingly only owns one pair of Birkenstocks. They are so old, and run down that the cork is literally non-existent, to the point that his Birkies look like they could grow mushrooms. They’re gross. But I believe he must have purchased them back in the 60's or something and he’s fine with that.

Where am I going with all of this, well actually I just wanted to pay homage to a shoe that offers me so much comfort and doesn’t receive the kind of play from media it ought to. You never see Birkenstock featured on the runways, or in your fashion magazines or on the red carpet (except when Whoopie’s around). Now Whoopi’s a Birkenstock wearing kind-of-girl who make no apologies for her fashion choices. She wears her Birkies proud and I’m right there with her on that! These days you might see a fashionista with Birkies on, like the time I ran into Jacquette at the coop with her silver ones on. Shocking. But as the summer closes and my feet have to go back inside of closed in shoes it’s really an adjustment.

I must admit though, I did purchase some Crocks this summer to wear indoors. Since I don't wear outdoors shoes in my home, I needed some supportive shoes for around the home. This is especially necessary when I standing on my feet for hours cooking up butters and the like.

How about you, do you choose fashion over comfort? I don't blame you if you do. I would if I could, but I can't so I don't...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Prius and me

When the economic crisis start getting really fierce in the last quarter of 2008, was around the same time the lease was ending on my Infiniti FX a.k.a luxury gas-guzzler. Don’t get me wrong; I sincerely enjoyed driving that car. Still, I felt guilty for riding around in a car that required so much gasoline. At the height of the gas increases I was spending over $70 to fill up my gas tank, every 7-14 days. The Infiniti is esthetically cutting edge, luxuriously designed and technologically efficient. But the Prius features many of the same technological designs as the Infiniti, like back up camera, smart key, and GPS. All the more reason to go with a gas saver because driving the Infiniti made me feel in my own way, I was contributing to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…

It was now a definite, my next car would have to be a hybrid. My friends who owned Prius’s were all in love with their cars. People really raved about it. But when I saw the movie “Who Killed The Electric Car”, I wanted my electric car. I felt I had been cheated out of something very special that could have help save the environment. It was astounding to see how blatantly corrupt the car companies and the gasoline companies are. It’s clear they’re in bed together, which is why electric cars were taken off the road and destroyed.

Back to what is, and that is that the hybrid is the next best thing to riding a bike on going on foot. By the end of 2008 the dealership was calling me on a regular basis, wanting to know did I still want to purchase. Mind you, months earlier when I went in to put my name on the waiting list I was number 35 on the list. What had changed? Well first, there was the economic melt down of Wall Street and the economy and in addition to that, gas prices had plummeted. I zoomed to the top of the list of those waiting to get a Prius and therefore I was in the position to negotiate, which I took full advantage of.

When I picked my car up, I was in for a pleasant surprise; the dealer had filled the gas tank. So the first time I had to fill my car up, three weeks later, I gave the attendant my debit card and when the pump registered the grand total of $12.00, I was blown over. Twelve dollars?! “Hey I can pay that with cash straight from my wallet”! This was going to be nice. Half a year later and I am still enjoying my Prius. I gas up one and a half times a month. The car is able to fit in smaller parking spaces and it doesn’t use much gas. Though have you noticed? prices are steadily creeping up. I went from paying an average of $15.00 to fill up to now it’s over $28.00. Still it’s a far cry from the $70.00 madness of filling up the Infiniti.

I would recommend a Prius to anyone. It’s a great car and I have become a true believer and adorning fan like most Prius owners. Maybe one of these days I’ll be living a life where I can travel primarily by bicycle. In the meantime, I love my Prius.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Half Way There

A number of months ago I wrote a blog post commiserating about my seemingly overnight weight gain. I was determined to combat this weight gain as it crept steadily up from one week to the next. At one point it got to be a bit hilarious, as I would step on the scale only to see that yes, I had indeed gained another pound. Is Candid Camera in the house? I had never been over 145 and now I was nearing 160 with no slow down in sight. What the heck???

My friend Mireille suggested that I visit her doctor, Homeopath Dr. Salzarulo. Well that began a journey and an exploration that I hadn’t expected. What doctor Salzarulo’s plan for me made me realize, was that I had moved so far away from my original “clean” diet that it was no wonder that things were changing for the worse. I asked him, “Is it normal to gain weight in mid-life, during peri-menopause stage in life"? His answer was that if gaining weight during this stage in life were universal, then he could say yes. But in many places in the world this mid-life weight gain does not occur. He informed me that it was a matter of the body being very much out of balance, full of toxins and adjusting in the way that it could.

So here is some of what I had to eliminate from my diet, wheat (which many people are allergic to due to over consumption and like corn it’s in most processed food), sugar, including all alcohol, fruit juices, dried fruit, cheese, shell-fish and anything with cow’s milk. Thank goodness I can still have goat’s milk (its composition is closer to human milk) because I love yogurt as a quickie breakfast fix. Most processed (white, bleached food) bread, gluten, and corn and potatoes (that included my favorite, potato chips) and soy, believe it or not. I hadn’t realized how much cheese I had started consuming or sugar for that matter, a glass of wine here a glass of wine there… It all adds up!

What is allowed on this anti-inflammatory diet are most fruits, vegetables (except nightshades) whole grains (except the ones that are glutenous), fish and free range or organic meats.

I recently checked in with Dr. Salzarulo and since March, I have made many adjustments to my diet. I’ll tell you straight, it hasn’t been easy to refrain from all of the above each and everyday but I gave it the ole Girl Scout try. I have lost eleven pounds and I have about that much more to go to reach my target. My cloths are fitting me much better now and I feel better. I was shocked at how the pain of my monthly cycles decreased considerably.

Now he wants me to take it to the next level, which means cleansing in a myriad number of ways. First thing is green juice every day, half my weight in ounces of water consumed daily, body brushing before bathing, three baths a week to sweat and release toxins, of course exercise and if I could fit it in, jumping on a trampoline twenty minutes a day to help cleanse the lymph system. Whew! And that’s not all of it.

What is amazing to me is how we, resist what’s best for us on subtle levels. Like one of his requirements is that you write down everything you eat each day. I hated that! After two weeks of that, it became old, real fast. Enough already. But his theory is that it makes you present to what you’re consuming.

All this to say, I am headed in the direction I wanted to go in, but like with anything worth having it hasn’t been a breeze. But it has given me insight into things like discipline, perseverance, commitment, and rewards that can follow. I must admit, I am grateful for this experience as it has allowed me to see the course that I was on was not just something that was happening to me. Is that ever the case? I think not. Our choices determine our lives. I’m choosing to be at a weight that helps me feel in touch with my center. Let me know how you’re feeling.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A New York Treasure- 14th Street Farmer's Market

Despite the very strange weather that we’ve been having, the gardening season is officially here. A couple of weeks ago on Memorial Day weekend, my sister and I braved the Brooklyn Terminal market (and its pushy patrons) on a sunny and bright Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful that weekend. The kind of weather you expect in NY during the late spring. We were laser as we focused in on what we needed to fill our window boxes and planters.

We finally gathered all we needed and loaded up my little Prius with flats of flowers galore. You see, the terminal market is great for your basics and your fillers, petunia, impatients, marigolds, hibiscus, dahlias, evergreens etc. However, my plan had always been to get to the Union Square Market to scout the exotic and heirloom selections that they always have. But we've had so much rain, that I couldn't get to 14th Street until today. I admit it, I am a fair weather gardener and I make no bones about it.

Today the sun came out and so I finally made my way to that most hip happening in NY, Union Square a.k.a. the 14th Street Farmers Market. Being there is a festival for the senses, as all of your senses are engaged on a major level. I was so inspired that I pulled out my iPhone and started acting like I was a photojournalist. I noticed I wasn’t the only one that impressed. Other photographers there had “real” cameras and were taking it all in. It gave me one of those rare thoughts of “this is why New York is so great”.

Normally when I go to the Farmers Market, I try to get there early, around 8:00 or at the latest 9:00. Otherwise, be prepared to deal with the throngs of people. I arrived late today, around 11:00 so when I jokingly complained to the guy snatching up all the best roses, he politely said to me, “It's the early bird”… Still, I’m impressed with the photos I took because I managed to take these images without showing the hundreds of folks who were out there. When I say hundreds, I’m not exaggerating.

There all kinds of folks out there, like the preppie looking peeps who you imagined must have driven down from Connecticut or the Upper East Side, or the brother with two strand twist extensions (I would notice that) or the old guy who looked like he didn’t have a dime, but bought up all the best rose bushes, before I could even bat an eye. There were couples with babies in strollers, many dog owners with their pooches, and some folk who looked as though they lived right around the corner. I’ve heard that some of the best restaurants in NY, shop for their produce at the 14th Street Farmers Market, and it’s no wonder. Everything looks so fresh and vibrant. The colors don’t seem real; they’re so bright and amazing. But then again, who else but Mother Nature could create such color and abundance?

There were vendors selling everything from rare flowers and herbs, to exotic goat cheeses, organic wool, free range poultry, fresh fish, fresh bake breads, preserves, mushrooms and on and on. Then on the other side of the park are artist with their paintings and other hand made works, like Himalayan Crystal salt candle holders, vintage repros, hand painted tees etc. But one thing that stood out for me was an Obama tee shirt that had the look of “The Matrix” in the background with Obama in the foreground and a caption that read, “He’s the One”. New York, you don’t have to love it, but I must admit that some of what NY offers, will make even a “down on New York critic”, like myself appreciate NY, seeing it from perspective of the fabulous 14th Street Farmers Market.

Check it out!

14th Street Farmers Market

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jewelry Madness

My love affair with jewelry began innocently enough many years ago (when I was in my twenties) and then grew into a full-blown obsession. It got so bad that seven months ago I took what was supposed to be a year’s hiatus from purchasing jewelry. But recently, (seven months later) I fell off the wagon. I’ll tell you more on that topic later.

Over the years I have bought jewelry, out grown it, became bored with it and passed it on, only to acquire more baubles and beads. My taste in jewelry ranges from the subtle to the fierce and I enjoy the array of options. I just accept that on different days I have different vibes and I let my jewelry express the mood I’m in. I have jewelry that’s funky, artsy, romantic, and ethnic, inexpensive, expensive and so on. I can go from the ultra conservative to the wild and funky from one day to the next.

Most folks get dressed and decide which jewelry compliments the garment. I recently spoke with my jewelry mentor, (yes, I actually have a friend who influenced me many years ago with this madness) and she agreed with me that many times we decide which jewelry we will wear and then let that determine which garment blends with the jewelry. This bosom jewelry fiend also has a wide range in jewelry tastes, but loves to purchase her prize pieces at pawnshops. I could never get into the pawnshop vibe. When I’m in a pawnshop, I feel overwhelmed. They always seem to have so much stock.

So yes, I recently went back to purchasing jewelry. I didn’t quite make it through 12 whole months of abstaining, but seven months was a record for me. “What had happen was,” I went bonkers over jet black, crystal jewelry. It all started with a purchase of a lovely vintage, black, brocade dress from fashion stylist, Joan Van Hees at the Fort Greene flea market. Because of the draping neckline, Joan suggested that the dress was probably worn with a broach.

I was able to find a perfect broach after combing through dozens to choose from all around the market. I choose a jet, black, vintage crystal broach, because I wanted something that blended with the garment instead of contrasting. But the reflection from the black jet beads was just magical. I became fascinated by jet black crystals and then I found they can be purchased so cheaply on ebay. My goodness, help me! On ebay the jet black jewelry can be had for half of what it cost at the flea market. Who knew! And all this, after I swore I didn’t even like ebay!

Well enough is enough. I’ve done my regular and gone overboard. Purchasing jewelry is one clear way my obsessive-compulsive nature, rears its ugly head. I need help. If you can relate, please help a sister out. I need to get back up on that wagon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day Spa - Korean Style

As a birthday gift, my niece, Zauditu invited me to a day at a spa. Now normally, if you say spa I start drooling, but she said Korean Spa and immediately I had a whole different response, because I had heard these spas are like bathhouses. And personally, I don’t go in for “public bathing”. I start having all kinds of ideas about how sanitary can it be? But I decided that since she was so excited about the idea, I would just say yes. Amazing things happen when you say, “yes” in life and I’m definitely up for what’s amazing.

The services offered at King Spa Sauna, are apparently a system of self-care that is traditionally Korean, because you will see generations of Korean women together. You’ll see a grandmother, with her daughter and her daughter’s daughter. Everyone walks around naked, except there are some ladies that are in black underwear. I finally realized they were the practitioners.

We walked into a very large wet room that was covered from floor to ceiling with marble and tile and water everywhere. This one room had a row of shower stalls, a pool of really hot water, a pool with lukewarm water, a pool with cold water, a steam room and rows of seating with shower-heads where you could sit and bathe, wash your hair, brush your teeth etc. You go from one pool to the other alternately relaxing and invigorating your system, depending on the temperature of the water. The herbal steam room was divine; the scent in there was euphoric. Then there were the massage tables where you received wet services such an exfoliation and wet massage.

The exfoliation was incredible. The practitioners wear these mittens that are like “brillo gloves” and they begin rubbing each and every part of your body systematically with these mittens. I was astounded at the amount of black, rolled dead skin that came off of my body. It was like yuk, puke. You want to believe that ugly, gross stuff is coming from somewhere else, somebody else, but no, it belonged to you. Afterwards, your body is as smooth a silk.

Having had a lot of massages over the years, it didn’t seem these were professional masseuses. You get the feeling, they haven’t really been to an accredited massage school, but it still, it feels good and relaxing. The downside of that is that they use baby oil, (definitely not the best). Next time I will bring my own oil.

All is said and done and now it’s time to leave and tip your practitioner. But there’s a “recommended” tip. But in this case “recommended” means a mandatory amount. The amount is $25.00, which is pricy considering that’s double an 18% tip. Oh well, it makes me wonder (like I do in nail salons) if the practitioners are on payroll or if tips are their only source of income???

All in all, I would definitely go again. It's a very relaxing and wonderful way to bond with friends, family, or loved ones. Though I must warn you, that you’ll be wishing you had a personal driver to take you home, and you’ll want to head right home to take a nap. All that water submerging seems to bring your exhaustion to the surface. At least that’s how I felt. I was really out of it for the rest of the day. Maybe, next time, I’ll try it at night. There was a lot more to do that we didn’t get to (like the Amethyst room, mineral salt room, gold pyramid room) but check it out for yourself. BTW, we went to the one in Palisades Park. I've heard the one in Flushing Queens, Inspa World a.k.a. Spa Castle is far more fabulous. And if you’ve already been to one of these Korean spas, tell us your experience.

Thank you Z, for a tremendous experience and for spending time with your Auntie!