Sunday, October 20, 2013


For all those who know me, I cook by experimenting, not always using recipes.  I enjoy it but I am never sure if what I prepare will come out decently. Sometimes I need help.

Aside from all the cookbooks around, I have in my possession a wonderful book entitled, "Brillant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks" by David Joachim.

Not only does it contain over 900 recipes, but it has "5,000 ingenious kitchen hints, secrets, shortcuts and solutions."

This book is one of the few in my kitchen which is opened all the time.  So much better than searching Google for all the answers on different sites while greasy hands are all over your keyboard or screen.  All you need to know is in one book and who cares if the pages get a little dirty?

When you first open the book and look at the inside cover, the chart of Common Cooking Measures and Equivalents will be worth the price of the book. Then there is the Guide to Pan Sizes. This is followed by Common Temperatures and Conversions and Container Size Equivalents.

Turn to the back inside cover and find "Emergency Substitutions."  It reads, "if you're out of this...use this..."  You just might save yourself an extra trip to the supermarket.

The book structure is in alphabetical order. You don't even have to go to the index, just open to the letter of the subject you want to know about and there it is.

Do you want to learn how to extract pulp from fresh corn kernels, learn about mushrooms, how to choose oysters, how to butterfly a pork loin or how to cook "en papillote?"  Read this book and find out.

All you need to know under one hardcover book.  

The edition I have was published in 2001 and I have not found a newer version on Amazon so this must be it.

Check it out on and see if this book needs to be part of your kitchen. My kitchen can't live without it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Your Cell Phone's Share Plan...GB Gone Wild

I finally had to leave my old "pay for minutes" phone plan.  I put off making the change fearing that the new "Share" plan would cost me more. As of this writing, I am spending a little less each month.  At least for now.  The experiment is just beginning.

There are 4 phones on my plan.  It goes without saying that some of us on the plan use more GB than others, like me...I don't do much with my phone other than call, text and clear out emails.  

But for those out there who use their phones for everything, I thought that I would find out what uses the most GB and how to control your data usage. 

Each cell phone company refers to their new plans differently, but it all boils down to data usage now.  Calls and texts are unlimited. Texting seems to be fast, easy and the texts go through even if you don't have a great signal for a call. So I text a good deal.

Starting with emails, each time you receive an email you are using data, even if it is a minor amount.  Each time you open the email, you use additional data. And if the email has photos or attachments, more data is used.

Watching videos on You Tube for example definitely uses data.  Movies, for sure. Your phone as a GPS.  Checking FourSquare, Facebook or for searching the Web. The list is endless.

For those of you who never delete emails, the more you keep on the phone, the more data you use each time you turn on your phone.  Deleting emails from your computer is an easy way to get rid of them on your phone. Afterwards, you refresh your emails on your phone and they are gone.  Less data to be used.

To make better use of data, I started to "unsubscribe" to all those emails sent to me which I never opened anyway.  Do I really need to know everything about every company's sale, or the zillions of "coupon" discounts on every service known to mankind?

It takes some getting used to because on the old plans you paid for call minutes and may have had an unlimited data package, as I did. What I hope to accomplish is to keep with the 6GB plan, but if things don't go according to plan, I can upgrade to the next offered GB amount.  My cell phone company will send texts letting me know if I am getting close to reaching my 6GB max.  They warn me at 75% and then at 90%.  This way I can upgrade to the next amount in my billing period for less than I would pay if I went over my limit. 

Use less data and you might have some extra money for something else, like a new case for your phone.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wines By The "Tasting" Glass

How can you learn enough about wine to enjoy what you drink without feeling that you need to become a sommelier?

I say, "Go to wine tastings!"

My husband and I do this every other weekend (and even more often if the opportunity arises).

Some wine shops offer a simple tasting - just a few bottles poured by someone working in the store - while others have a wine distributor come with a larger variety of bottles to pour.  

Usually the person pouring the wine will give you a detailed account of each wine, and while you are tasting what they pour you can ask questions.  Any question at all, so you don't need to worry about being shy or embarrassed.  Not everyone knows about every wine.

Is it a full-bodied wine, does it have aromas of blackberry, what fruit am I tasting, does it have legs, when can you drink it, what grapes are in it, can it be put away for a few years, how is this vintage compared to last year, describe the area where the grapes were grown... are just a few questions you might ask. There are many others, and the more you ask and the answers you get will assist in your learning.

You may find that the price point of wines does not always reflect the quality of the wine.  And taste varies from person to person.  It is not always a given that my husband and I will agree on a wine.  Our method is that what we buy will most always be what we both enjoy, with a deviation every now and then.

Wine tastings are fun and very social.  You are tasting wines with other people and you can compare notes or just start a conversation about anything and before you know it, you are exchanging phone numbers.

The world of wine is enormous and there is never a shortage of wines to taste. We are still learning about grapes we never tasted or at least never tasted in combinations with other grapes.

You can call your local wine shop and ask about tastings.  Even the big box wine stores offer tastings.

So go to a wine tasting or two and see what you discover about wine.  You just may find yourself attending more and more.

I would recommend two of my favorite wine shops to start if you are in the Westchester area: and  You can also get on their mailing list for upcoming wine tastings and special offers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Just found out how to save some time.  A new app called "Aisle411" is now a touch away on your smartphone.

Sounds like a great idea, but for now the retailers are limited.  We need to get our favorite stores to sign up and begin to make our shopping experience easier as well as a little fun.

Here is what it can do:

1.  SHOPPING LIST-create, organize and share multiple shopping lists from your phone.

2.  SEARCH-quickly find the location for what you need inside stores.

3.  RECIPES-search over 130,000 recipes to add to your shopping list and cookbook.

4.  NAVIGATE-find the fastest route through your store in select markets.

Right now the only stores I shop in which use this app are Walgreens and Home Depot, where I spend too much time walking up and down aisles asking employees where everything is. Hopefully with this app I can get out of the store quickly and get home faster, giving my dogs less time to wreak havoc in the house.

Check it out:

  • Shopping List: Create, organize and share multiple shopping lists from your phone
  • Recipes: Search over 130,000 recipes to add to your shopping list and cookbook
  • Search: Quickly find the location for what you need inside stores
  • Navigate: Find the fastest route through your store inselect markets

Download the app for free!

Friday, July 26, 2013

When Your Home Needs An Exterminator, Who Do You Call?

Let's face it, insects are here to stay and their populations are growing.  Maybe it is due to climate change, or too much rain, or the heat. Who knows why, but until now, I had not seen so many insects hanging around my property, ever.

Years ago I thought it might make sense to contract with a pest control company so that I had a plan of attack as well as having someone to call when new issues arose.

Yes, I could have called one of the major companies around, but I knew that they were expensive and would try to sell me every kind of spraying service known to mankind.

What I did, and it is something I have never done before, was go through the Yellow Pages and look at ads.  I came across an ad with a photograph of the staff and just felt I had to call them.  Everyone looked so nice.  If you know me, you would know that this is not how I operate, but something made me make the call.

As it turns out, I have been using this company for at least 5 years and have been so pleased with the service I just had to write about them.

The company is called Regal Pest Management, Inc. and they handle residential as well as commercial properties in NY and NJ.  The owner will call to let me know that I am due a service, set a time for them to come and they arrive promptly.  They are very respectful of my home, even taking their shoes off when they walk in my door.

And what an education I receive from the technicians. Ed knows everything about every "pest" on the planet.  He will give me a history of whatever it is I ask about.  This week it was Cicada Killers! 

Check out their website:

Each insect has a reason for being and we do not want to eradicate the species, but sometimes we need to exert a little control.  Call Regal Pest Management, Inc. to help.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Walmart: Not the Place to Shop.

To be honest, I don't usually shop at Walmart, although not for any particular reason.

Last week I walked into the store after going to Costco because I needed some 60w old fashioned light bulbs.

The price point was listed on the shelf as $1.68 per package. The 60w bulbs were on more than one shelf, and under each one, the price read $1.68. That seemed reasonable to me and I was happy to find the bulbs and buy them. 

While waiting on line to pay, I noticed that many customers paid cash instead of using a credit card.  As my turn approached, the cashier said he is almost out of cash in his drawer and called for someone to get him more money.

That was when he rang up my light bulbs to the tune of $2.24 a package.  When I told him that the price was not correct, he deleted the amount and assumed I was going to leave without making the purchase.  Since there was this person at the cash register who was going to get him cash, I asked her if she could check the price on the bulbs.  

If I told you that I waited at least 15 minutes for an answer but no one returned, would you believe me? I had to leave because this store was not a place I wanted to spend more time.  I would rather wait on line at Home Depot, which was where I should have stopped in the first place.

So why would I not want to shop at this store again? First of all, $2.24 for a package of regular light bulbs is no bargain!  I can easily buy them for less.  When you walk into the store the lighting is so dull you feel as if you walked into a place where having to strain your eyesight was the norm and getting sleepy was the only mode they wanted you to be in to shop.  There was inventory missing from many shelves. Items were not on the shelves in a manner that made it easy to find, and finding help was difficult.  It looked like a store that was going out of business.

Maybe it was a fault of just this one store, but if you are next to Home Goods and Home Depot and up the road from Costco, why not try a little harder to make shopping at Walmart a better experience?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wedding Bliss

jaclyn + andrew (highlights) from 15 Minutes of Frame on Vimeo.

Once you view this video, you will see why I waited with baited breath for the final version!

Can you imagine seeing this short teaser of a video and not even realizing that anyone was there recording it all?  The staff of 15 Minutes of Frame were everywhere yet not in anyone's way.

A remarkable job was done by 15 Minutes of Frame.  You could tell that they treated this wedding as a very special occasion and not just one of the many jobs they have already done or will be doing.

The fact that the wedding and venue were already so beautiful was made even more so by the work of these very talented videographers.

Check out their website:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Free or Almost Free Books for Electronic Readers

One way that I have found books I would not have thought to look for is through  It is a free email newsletter that keeps you updated about deeply discounted and free digital books. does not sell the books, but does alert you by email to limited-time offers you can purchase from Amazon's Kindle store, Barnes & Noble's Nook store, Apple's iBookstore and others.  Many books are offered for promotional purposes by book publishers.

Since there are so many books out there, publishers are offering these deals to get their titles discovered and to spur interest in the book or author.

When you sign up at, you can select the categories of books you would like to see offered and you also designate your type of electronic book.   If a book seems interesting,  I then go to my Kindle and look up the book.  You then just download a copy.

All it takes is minutes and you have another book to read.

Many of the books I have read were free.  It is so much easier to take a chance on a book if you didn't pay for it.  But I have found that I went on to read other books by the same authors. So the teaser book you downloaded for free can lead you to then purchase others if you enjoyed what you had read.

Not a bad deal for you, the reader and also the author and publisher.

Check out and enjoy many more hours of reading.