Saturday, November 22, 2014

Can You Make A Healthy Pizza?

Everybody loves pizza. But not many health nuts consider pizza to be in their list of top ten healthy food choices. Most pizzas are made with bleached white flour which has very little if any fiber content.

The pizza sauce has a considerable amount of sugar in it and the cheese and meat toppings like pepperoni and sausage are loaded with sodium and saturated fat.

So the question in this article is whether or not you can make a healthy pizza. First of all, you can start by making your crust with whole wheat flour, sea salt and olive or coconut oil. If you like crispy, thin, cracker like crust, that's all you need for the crust. If you like a bit thicker crust, you can add a pkg. of dry yeast.

For the sauce, use organic, sugar-free pizza sauce with lots of yummy oregano and other spices. Substitute the regular cheese for low-fat fresh mozzarella and try using bell peppers, onions, black olives, mushrooms and tomatoes for a yummy veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or sausage. If you just can't live without pepperoni, you might want to try using low-fat turkey pepperoni.

It's hard to live without pizza in this world. Many people grew up with Friday night being pizza and movie night in their families. However, it's not a kindness to encourage traditions that include a diet that contributes to a host of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes by eating way too much fat and too much sugar. But by trying some of these simple substitutions, your family can enjoy the scrumptious taste of pizza without the guilt.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Great History Thesis: Writing a History Thesis That Makes History



In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner wrote a history thesis entitled the Frontier Thesis.  In this essay, he argued that American History with all of its features of government and social growth were directly affected by the American Frontier experience.   He presented his thesis at the World Colombian Expo in Chicago that same year.

 Although a bit controversial, his thesis became famous worldwide.  In addition, it had a huge impact on the society of intellectuals who were concerned about American progress. They felt that the decision to close the frontier that was made by the US Census a few years previously would have a negative effect on the progress of the American people. 

The goal of every history thesis writer is to have a far-reaching effect on the present understanding of generally accepted ideas and beliefs.  The idea is to make an impact on the present thinking of all those who read the thesis and to change what has up to that point been considered accurate knowledge.   

This is what Mr. Turner accomplished with his thesis and with a little help writing a history thesis, anyone can reach these same goals.  This can be an intimidating task and usually counts for a major percentage of the grade required to obtain a graduate degree. The project of writing a history thesis will require a great deal of research and fact-checking.

The first step in preparing a history thesis is to choose a historical topic. It’s a good idea when constructing a history thesis to be specific in your topic choice. Generalities will not pique the interest of the professor assigned to read the thesis. For example, there are many subjects in history; like religious history, art history and economic history. 

But when writing a good history thesis, being specific means choosing precisely which religion, what type of art or what era of the economy to write about. Make sure you choose a topic that you are passionate about or this assignment will quickly become a dreaded chore.

After choosing your history thesis topic, think of a question that needs to be answered regarding this topic and particularly one that has never been asked or answered before. Research the question and then jot down a thesis outline to present to your instructor for approval. If it is well researched, he/she is not likely to reject your idea. 

He doesn’t have to agree with your conclusions, but he won’t be able to deny that it is worthy of presenting. After approval, jot down in one sentence, the main idea of the thesis. This is your thesis statement and a required part of the thesis. It may change slightly after you complete the thesis, but the main idea should stay the same.

A good history thesis will take several months to complete considering all of the research, fact-checking and organizing that will be necessary. When it comes time to type, include an Introduction, Background Information, Research Statement, Description, Conclusion and References. 

The entire thesis could end up being anywhere from 100 to 270 pages in length, but more important than length is achieving the goal of crafting a history thesis that makes history.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Successful Finance Thesis: Writing a Finance Thesis that’s Worth its Weight in Gold



Handling people’s money is pretty serious business. Most people are hesitant about trusting anyone with their financial business if they don’t appear to be qualified. In addition, state and federal agencies often regulate and require individuals to have at least some type of degree in finance along with additional licensing in order to be considered for a position where the handling of people’s personal finances are involved.  

For example, jobs in the fields of corporate finance, money management, financial planning and financial analysis along with jobs in the field of insurance all require degrees in finance. And, in order to achieve a degree in finance, it is a requirement that a finance thesis be completed. In fact, it surmises a major portion of the grade for the entire subject.

The basic purpose of presenting a valuable finance thesis is the idea that the student is addressing and possibly solving a problem in finance that has not been addressed or fixed prior to this point in financial history. When you consider the impact of these statements, you can see how important that writing a good finance thesis will be to your future success in the finance world.   

It’s important to be specific when choosing a topic for your finance thesis. Just like there are many types of history thesis, like religious history and art history; there are also many categories of finance. Choose a topic that is likely to have a significant impact on the way others have previously viewed financial systems.  


The present situation in the world economy puts a great deal of stress on financial experts to come up with solutions that are practical, feasible and enlightening. With this thought in mind, it should not be hard to find finance topics that are of great interest to readers when constructing a finance thesis. For help with writing a finance thesis, a great deal of research will be involved to discover the history of finance with the many problems that the finance world has seen. 

Proposing a solution will be the biggest challenge, but at the same time, that will be of the greatest interest to the professor that will examine your thesis and distribute the grade for it. The overall content of a good finance thesis will include the following items: a cover page, a table of contents or a thesis outline, an introduction, methodology pages, your data and analysis descriptions, the results of this discussion, a conclusion and a bibliography page.


In addition, a good thesis statement will be required. This is basically one sentence that describes the overall content of the finance thesis. Although there are similarities, writing a good finance thesis is different from writing an MBA thesis. The MBA thesis covers all business topics including finance, whereas, the finance thesis targets specifically financial subjects. 

It’s also important that the theories presented in the finance thesis be practical and applicable, basically, that they will work in the real world. Unlike a dissertation that can survive on nothing but theory, a thesis must prove its worth. It must be worth its weight in gold.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Antibiotics Kill Bacterial Infections - Trading A UTI Infection For A Yeast Infection

Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin
Urinary tract infections can be extremely uncomfortable. If its a bladder infection, usually the discomfort comes from a feeling of urgency to urinate. But then, its distressing when there doesn't seem to be very much, if any urine coming out. But at the end of trying to release some urine comes the awful feeling of pressure known as a bladder spasm. If the infection is bad, then there might even be some tiny spots of blood in the tissue when wiping.

If its a kidney infection, then there is usually a burning pain when urinating along with fever and chills. This is much more serious and demands an immediate visit to the doctor. If a serious kidney infection is left unchecked, the kidneys can start to fail and this can lead to a dangerous blood toxicity and even death. Usually if caught early, a kidney infection can be well treated with antibiotics with no further complications -at least in the kidneys.

There are two different ways that the kidneys can become infected. Bacteria from outside the body travels inside the urethra and into the bladder and up the ureter to the kidney that causes an infection. The other way is from an already present infection in one of the nearby organs in the body that spreads to the kidney. In the first way, bacteria can bypass the bladder and spread directly to the kidney or bacteria can infect the bladder and then by the neglect of this infection spread up the ureter to the kidney.

By this time a person can become very sick and likely needs to visit their doctor for a round of antibiotics. Taking all of the prescribed antibiotics will usually kill the bacteria and infection and heal the sick urinary tract. The problem arises when the antibiotic works a little too well. Antibiotics can kill the good bacteria that keep in check the Candida fungus that normally lives in the vaginal tract. When that happens this causes an overgrowth in Candida fungus which translates into a yeast infection.

There are several medications on the market that kill fungus, over the counter and prescribed. Monistat is one such medicine. Coconut oil is a home remedy that can help with yeast infections. Not only is this natural oil naturally soothing to the burning and itching that's typical of yeast infections, coconut oil has built-in antifungal properties that help kill yeast. Virgin coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid. This nutrient provides a boost to the immune system, thereby helping to fight yeast infections.

It has also been recommended by doctors to eat two servings a day of yogurt during and after taking antibiotics to prevent a yeast infection. This is because yogurt is rich in live cultures that kill fungi. These live cultures are basically good bacteria. It has also been recommended that you avoid drinking beer and eating too much sugar while taking antibiotics. Beer is made with yeast and yeast feeds on sugar.

You can prevent a bladder infection by keeping the area around the entrance of the urethra clean and free of bacteria as much as possible. Always empty the bladder after sexual activity and wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. Try not to wear tight fitting clothing and wear cotton underwear. They absorb moisture better than their silk counterparts. Another word of advice is to skip the douch. Douching removes healthy bacteria that naturally lines the vagina preventing infection.

Drinking lots of clean, spring water and drinking cranberry juice is an excellent preventative measure for kidney and bladder infections. Cranberry juice is a natural antiseptic and urinary tract cleanser. Lemon juice is another great urinary tract cleanser. Lemon juice cleans and flushes out the tiny glomerular fibers in the nephron section of the kidney. This can help keep the kidneys healthy and working well so they keep doing their job of filtering and cleaning the blood in your body.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Which Is The Best Healthcare Discount Card? Because 40,000,000 People Can't Afford Health Insurance

Its seems that we are hearing a lot lately about how the economy is recovering. That's great news. But why is health insurance still so expensive? Even the Obamacare coverage is still out of reach for so many people. A typical monthly payment for many families is between $500 and $700. And deductibles can be a staggering $5000. So is your traditional health insurance really paying anything for you at all? $500 a month translates to $6000 a year, with a $5000 deductible.

That further translates to spending possibly over $11,000 before your insurance company starts paying anything for you. Unless you're pretty sick, who really spends more than $11,000 a year on healthcare?And that's just one year. In five years, you've given the insurance company $30,000 and they don't have to pay for anything until you've spent $25,000 on medical bills.

Is there a better way to take care of your family's healthcare needs without having to spend a fortune on health insurance? Maybe. Millions of people are taking the Healthcare Discount Card route. The idea is that instead of having to pay enormous monthly premiums for health insurance when you get sick, why not pay a small monthly payment to a Discount Card company that allows you to receive benefits from medical providers a lot cheaper. Healthcare Discount Cards are not insurance.

The companies that offer healthcare discount cards have negotiated with medical providers to offer their services to people a lot cheaper, sometimes even between 50% and 80% cheaper. What you should know is that insurance companies do the same thing with providers, but they don't pass the results of that savings on to  you -they get the discount.

In actuality, providers like doctors and hospitals are accustomed to only receiving about half of what they bill for services anyway. Most major medical insurance companies have contracted with hospitals and doctors to only pay between 30% and 50% of the original amount billed. So in essence, insurance companies are carrying a "discount card" in their "pockets". And apparently, they are making enough money off of you to stay in business while you are struggling to pay their premiums.

So when you are insured with an insurance company, you pay them a huge monthly payment so they can pay only half of your doctor bill and then the medical providers right off the rest. Even Medicare and Medicaid has contracted with most providers to pay only about half of what has been billed for the services you received. The only people that actually pay full price for medical services is the self-pay person with no discount card.  Does this make sense to you?

Healthcare Discount Cards are basically a means of making self-insurance affordable. Instead of giving the insurance companies the discount, providers have agreed to give it to you, the self-payer. And since you are not paying huge monthly premiums to insurance companies, you can afford better to pay medical bills as you go, especially when they are highly discounted.

Wouldn't it be nice if providers just simply charged 50% less to everyone for services they provide? Absolutely, but that's not likely to ever happen, because as long as there are self-payers out there that feel forced to pay astronomical amounts for services they receive, doctors and hospitals will keep charging huge amounts. So how do you choose a good Healthcare Discount Card?

They are literally hundreds of them out there. You need to be careful and cautious when choosing a healthcare discount card, because there are some fraudulent ones out there. A reputable healthcare discount card will always plainly state in clear sight that is it not insurance. Look for a company that has been in business for many years. Check the Better Business Bureau for a company's rating. Ask lots of questions before purchasing a healthcare discount card. Remember that you get what you pay for. Some are very cheap or even free, but the discount savings may only be 10%.

Ask your sales person to explain clearly what all the benefits of the card are. It's also a good idea to get on that company's website and check their list of providers to see how many local medical providers there are on that list. You don't want a healthcare discount card that no one locally accepts. Ask about hidden fees. It's typical for healthcare discount card companies to charge a monthly fee for the use of their card as well as an annual membership fee.

Ameriplan is one healthcare discount card that has an A+ rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and has been in business for 23 years. It has been featured on 60 minutes and ABC news' Good Morning America as a reputable company. The most expensive plan they have costs only $99 a month for the entire household and covers medical, dental, vision, prescriptions, chiropractic, wellness, legal services, identity theft protection and an auto club plan. It also offers huge discounts on restaurants, theaters, hotels, travel, shopping and other entertainment, business/technology and it has in its network over 400,000 providers nationwide.

The legal services part has over 20,000 participating lawyers. The auto plan has over 16,000 participating auto repair stations. There is an annual $40 membership fee, but the best part of this plan is what they call the AmeriDoc service. This is where you can call a doctor over the phone anytime, even in the middle of the night and get a consultation or a diagnosis and he will even call you in a prescription if you need one. There is no need to spend hours waiting in a doctor's office for a routine type of illness.

Ameriplan's hospital advocacy program lets you use any hospital of your choice and when you receive your bill, an advocate will negotiate with that hospital for up to an 80% reduction in your bill and will even negotiate payment arrangements for the remainder of what you owe. In many cases, this is a significantly higher savings than what a major medical plan would have to offer you.

Since this is not insurance, there is no waiting period. Benefits begin immediately. Ameriplan reports that individuals have called their company while they were sitting in a dentist chair and signed up to save on that very visit to the dentist. Many customers have claimed that the card literally paid for itself every month in the savings they received from things that they normally have to purchase every day.

ProVantage is another healthcare discount card, but this card offers only group benefits to employees. They offer similar services such as medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, prescriptions and entertainment discounts. You can only sign up for this discount card through your employer, so you can ask him/her if he/she offers a group healthcare discount card such as ProVantage. The monthly fee for each employee is $29.95 per month. Employers have the option of paying for part or all the monthly charge for these healthcare discount cards. This gives employers something to offer potential employees instead of the very high cost of offering insurance benefits.

If you can afford health insurance premiums and the out of pocket costs such as copays and deductibles, then this is the best way to go. However, if you're like most people who are struggling in an apparently recovering economy, you might consider the option of purchasing a healthcare discount card as a way to protect your family's health.

Ameriplan Healthcare Discount Card

If you are an insurance agent that sells group health insurance benefits and would like to offer ProVantage Healthcare Discount Card benefits to the businesses you already service, please visit this website:

ProVantage Benefits

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Essential Oils - Nature's Healers?

Is it possible that something as simple as the oil that is pressed out of a living plant can offer a complete healing from some of the worst physical ailments? It's possible.

According to millions of essential oil users, the oil from the pretty purple lavender flower aids in stress relief and insomnia. The oil from the basil leaf has been known to relieve sore muscles and improve breathing.

Oils from the cassia plant promote healthy digestion and improve immune system function. Supposedly, the clary sage leaf produces oils that help alleviate menstrual symptoms and balance hormone levels. The lovely white blossoms of the geranium flower produce oils that claim to clear skin, lessen anxiety and strengthen the liver.

But what about the science of all of this? According to nih.gov's website, Medline Plus, lavender oil is possibly effective for hair loss and developing research suggests using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia. That same website also states that some research suggests that adding 3 milliliters of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces small improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone.

Additionally, nih.gov reports that some research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache from spreading. That sounds a lot like what millions of essential oil users are claiming.

What about basil oil? According to Dr. Madhukar Patil's (Ph.D. Chemistry Professor for the Institute of Science in Bombay, India for 30 years) website Organic Facts, "The health benefits of basil essential oil include its ability to treat nausea, motion sickness, indigestion, constipation, respiratory problems, and diabetes."

Another trusted scientific website, WebMD states that basil oil contains many chemicals and that it has been used for stomach problems, head colds and to improve circulation and kidney function. It even comments that basil has been used to fight warts. If it helps head colds, that would certainly improve breathing function.

With regard to cassia oil, nih.gov's website Medline Plus states that some studies suggested that cassia cinnamon oil might be effective for controlling type 2 diabetes. And WebMD reports that some research has found that a particular type of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon oil, may lower blood sugar in people with type II diabetes. Are diabetes and digestion connected? Makes sense.

As far the geranium flower oil, WebMD states that "some studies have shown that applying botanical oils such as geranium oil can reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia". This type of pain is a complication of shingles, an extremely painful condition resulting from having had the chicken pox as a child.

WebMD only attributes the improvement of digestive disorders and kidney disease to the consumption of clary sage oil, but says nothing about its ability to regulate hormones or alleviate menstrual symptoms. So the jury may still be out on that one as far as concrete medical evidence. But there seems to be enough people testifying to the health benefits of essential oils that it might be worth taking a look at.

Essential Oils - Get A Closer Look

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Exercise Keep You From Getting Sick? Enterovirus & Ebola Protection? Maybe...

The CDC has confirmed 628 infections in 44 states in the US from Enterovirus D68 and one death. It was a 4-year old child (Eli Waller) in Hamliton, New Jersey that died from the infection on September 25th.

Recently, the Florida Department of Health confirmed it's first case of Enterovirus D68 in the state. A 10-year old girl in Polk County was treated at Tampa General Hospital for 6 days back in September and then released. To date, there are 5 reported cases of Ebola now in the US.

With scary viruses running around out there like the Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, it makes you wish you could do something to protect yourself from sickness or create in yourself an immunity to these viruses. But we all get sick from time to time and so it feels like there is no way to prevent it. However, Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom comments in her book that there might be a way to prevent sicknesses or at least prevent their frequency.

She states that vigorous exercise greatly increases circulation in your body. This in turn creates an increase in white blood cells throughout your body. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system that fight off infectious disease and foreign invaders. With more white blood cells running around in your blood stream, the more likely they are to catch and destroy viruses and other germs that make you sick.

The US National Library of Medicine seems to agree with Dr. Northrup. It states on it's website (nlm.nih.gov), "Exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses."

Another theory revolving around exercise and sickness prevention is that exercise calms the mind and relieves stress. Prolonged or chronic stress is an enemy to the immune system, but the relieving of stress may give your immune system a boost. Here's why: When your body is under stress, your adrenal glands release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol to help you react to the stressful situation at hand. It's the fight or flight reaction.

While this is happening in your body, your brain tells other systems like the immune system and the digestive system among others to temporarily stop working so that your brain can concentrate on "fighting or flighting". Once the perceived "danger" has passed, body systems begin to return to normal. However, under a chronic stress situation, your body continues to suppress these systems. That's why your immune system doesn't function at optimum and you seem to get sick more often.

On a side note, your digestive system has trouble metabolizing your food efficiently during these chronic stress situations  as well and you may gain weight. Most people are familiar with the fact that excess cortisol (the stress hormone) causes extra belly fat. Extra weight can tax the body too, causing an impaired immune system. Exercise helps to burn off these stress hormones, relaxing the brain and boosting the immune system.

Symptoms for Enterovirus D68 are much like that of a cold except that fever might be higher, breathing can become labored, chest pain may be present and stools might be significantly softer. It is more common for children to become infected with Enterovirus D68 and possibly adults with asthma or compromised immune systems. The CDC highly urges everyone to wash their hands with soap and water frequently to help prevent the spread of this disease. It was noted that typical hand sanitizer is not affective in destroying the virus.

Exercising for 20 minutes a day can greatly increase blood circulation, heart health and apparently improve your immune system too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Historic Brennan's In New Orlean's French Quarter To Open Again Soon

Back in 2010, I was asked to write a fictional restaurant review based solely on internet research. I chose Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans. This restaurant is the deep subject of one family's rich heritage since 1946 and it's loaded with unique local history as well. However, in June of 2013 the restaurant closed due to some family related issues, but new owner Ralph Brennan promises via this website (http://www.brennansneworleans.com/) that the restaurant will be reopening soon. Here is the original review that I wrote back in 2010.



Brennan’s Restaurant – Delights Fit for Royalty

A recent business trip to New Orleans with a colleague gave us the perfect opportunity to check out Bourbon Street and some of the famous restaurants in this romantic neighborhood deep in the French Quarter. We chose Brennan’s Restaurant for its unique history and incredible reputation for delicious Creole provender. The restaurant resides in the Old Absinthe House that used to be the oldest saloon in America and secret stomping ground for the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. It now houses 12 elegant French/Creole style dining rooms and five impressive private banquet rooms.

As we entered the establishment, we passed a courtyard that was lush with exotic plants and the soft fragrance of magnolia blossoms. While waiting to be seated, we viewed the alluring scenery of Creole sketches. In a few moments, we were guided to an upstairs dining room and to a table on the balcony overlooking the courtyard. Anticipation turned to excitement as the Cajun style atmosphere and the aroma of freshly prepared French cuisine stimulated our senses.

I chose the Creole Onion Soup for an appetizer that portrayed a soft but luscious flavor and my colleague chose the New Orleans Turtle Soup. For my main entrée, I had difficulty deciding between Trout Pecan and Brennan’s Blackened Redfish. Both sounded absolutely wonderful and I finally went with the Trout Pecan for its especially savory description of fresh trout filets sautéed and topped with roasted pecans and pecan butter, served with glazed carrots. I wasn’t disappointed and I found myself fighting the urge to order another plate. My colleague ordered the Blackened Redfish and expressed that the incredible combination of grilling to perfection and choice seasonings made this dish unforgettable. Our waiter suggested a bottle of Sonoma Chardonnay to complement our meal and we readily accepted.

After relaxing for a few moments, our waiter returned to suggest the famous Bananas Foster to finish the meal with a sweet touch. We decided to split one and the presentation of this dessert qualified for live entertainment. The dessert comes to your table as bananas and banana liqueur, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. The plate is then flamed with rum while you watch and topped off with vanilla ice cream. The combination of bananas, the rich sauce and cool creamy topping is to die for.

We left the restaurant with a sense of utter and complete satisfaction and reflected on the feeling that we had been spoiled and pampered like French royalty. Now, where is our limo driver?...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review - How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Ms. Penny is a master storyteller that brings vivid characters to life in this mystery novel in her Chief Inspector Gamanche series. In this tale, she has the amazingly remarkable ability to weave more than one story together at once. The book has 416 pages and 42 chapters. It is published by Minotaur Books.

Inspector Gamanche is called by a friend to the village of Three Pines to help find a missing person. Meanwhile trouble brews in the Surete Police force and Inspector Gamanche must foil a catastrophic plot to save lives.

Ms. Penny's character development is cleverly crafted. HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, while deeply suspenseful, is profoundly psychologically thrilling. She delves into the mind of addiction, natures of good and evil, and the loyalties between families and between partnerships.

The only drawback is the excessive use of curse words. Particularly the "F" word which I did not realize was the "F" word until near the end of the book because it was written in French. After repeated use of it, I finally looked it up. Despite that fact, Ms. Penny held me captive until the end and compelled me for more from Inspector Gamanche and the village of Three Pines. - Book Review submitted by Traci Cocchi

Inspector Gamanche series:
STILL LIFE
A FATAL GRACE / DEAD COLD
THE CRUELEST MONTH
A RULE AGAINST MURDER / THE MURDER STONE
THE BRUTAL TELLING
BURY YOUR DEAD
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN debuted at #1 on the New York Times and made bestseller lists internationally. It is now out in paperback.

Amazon.com named HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN to their BEST OF 2013 list

Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year

Barnes and Noble - Best Fiction of 2013

Goodreads - Best Mystery-Thriller Books 2013

Nominated for the Gold Dagger, the highest crime writing award in Britain.

Nominated for the Edgar, the highest crime writing award in North America

Nominated for an Agatha and a Macavity Award

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN was named one of the top 5 fiction books of the year by the Washington Post

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What's For Supper? Menu Plans & Meal Ideas

How many times have you cringed when you heard that question? Maybe at that moment, a short list of entrees that you continually rotate throughout the week or month crosses your mind while creativity screams at you for something original, something delicious, even more important something easy to make. Night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year, the people you cook for demand that you prepare something good, yet different like it can roll off your fingertips with ease.

You search endlessly through cookbooks, online sources and amongst family and friends for new menu ideas only to find that your newly discovered recipe has several ingredients that you've never heard of or certainly don't keep in your kitchen on a regular basis. So then, it's a trip to the store to find this rare ingredient that ends up being expensive and now you've compromised the family budget, once again. Isn't there an easier way? Can't somebody come up with a few or even better, twenty meal ideas that are fresh and original, easy and won't kill the family budget?

Heck, you may not even care if they're original or not. You just want someone to tell you what to make each day, how to make it, have it be easy and have you're family love it and think you're a genius. Is that asking too much? Maybe not. There's a new book out called Menu Planner Meal Ideas by S. D. Lender. It's a twenty day, or four week dinner plan. Each week consists of dinners for Monday thru Friday. Each dinner includes an main entree, a side dish and a dessert suggestion.

The first week is called International Flare and features Mexican Monday, Italian Tuesday, Asian Wednesday, American Thursday and Greek Friday. Recipes are included for each entree and side dish. Most of the desserts suggestions are so simple that a recipe is not needed. Week two is called Southern Comfort and includes five down home southern dishes. Friday's Turkey and Dressing offers a way for the hard working parent who has no time to cook a way to present this meal by cheating the traditional time it would normally take to prepare this dish.

The third week is titled Super Southwest and offers a new and super easy take on some traditional southwestern meals. And last but not least, Week Four is called Tropical Fun with items like a quick to fix coconut shrimp, orange and lime chicken and a pineapple pork to name three of the five delicious meals included. Many people eat out on the weekends anyway, so there are no menu ideas for Saturday and Sunday. Imagine going thru four weeks of preparing meals and not having to make the same thing twice. It's genius!

At the end of the book, there is a grocery list that has everything that you will need to prepare the twenty meals. You may wish to buy some items like the fresh vegetables and dairy items week by week, but the frozen fruits and vegetables, baking items and canned goods can be bought at the beginning of the month and then you know you will have everything you need to come in from work, kick off your shoes, tie up your hair and start preparing supper. And when you hear those dreadful words (What's For Supper?), you can hand them the book and point to the page you're on. Problem solved. Life is great.

Menu Planner Menu Ideas by S D Lender

Saturday, August 30, 2014

So You Just Bought A New 3DS. Or Did You?

Apparently, a lot of folks are upset about the fact that Nintendo is coming out with a new handheld game device called the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. I say "coming out" because it hasn't even been released in Japan yet. That happens likely around the end of October, 2014. Europeans may get the system in the spring or summer of 2015 and if you live in the US...well, maybe sometime soon after that.

In August of 2012, Nintendo released a 3DS XL which boasted longer battery life and larger viewing screens that gave players a better 2D and 3D viewing experience.This version was the first revision of the original Nintendo 3DS handheld game device. For parents and gamers in general to upgrade to that device cost them about $199. This is no small investment when it comes to game entertainment.

But now, gamers are being told that they're "new" device will soon be outdated. The reason for this is that some of the much loved games like Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii will be released in the future for the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL but are not playable on the older versions of Nintendo DS handheld devices (DS released in the US in 2004, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, 2DS and 3DS XL). So if you want to play those hardcore gamer's games, you will have to upgrade...again.

The New 3DS boasts an even longer battery life and a faster CPU (Central Processing Unit) or the brains of the device. The device will house a new easier to use analog controller button for controlling the camera throughout the game called the C-Stick. This feature will likely remind users of the GameCube. The best feature of the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL will be the optimized 3D screen that allows much better 3 dimensional viewing. No more having to shift your angle to view the screen.

The New 3DS and New 3DS XL was designed with hardcore gamers in mind because games that are scheduled to be released for it have 65+ hours of core content. That's hardcore game playing. The game slot has also been moved to the front left side of the device and new colorful face buttons have been added. And since the new 3D screen automatically adjusts to the effects of brightness, this saves on and can extend battery life.

The New 3DS will also let you use your Amiibo figures. These are small, bright and colorful plastic game characters several inches in height that interact within the game when placed on the game pad. These figures improve the gamer's experience.  The New 3DS will be selling for around $154 and the New 3DS XL will be selling for about $173. Or you could save your money and wait for the next revision which will probably be coming out soon afterwards.