My Interview w/ The Bachelor

January 13, 2012 - Leave a Response

The tears have been flowing and we are finally getting to see what is making all the women cry.  The bachelor airs Monday nights on ABC and  I had a chance to talk to Ben Flajnik (pronounced Flannick) all about it.  While I couldn’t get out of him whether he’d found true love on the show…. I did find out he has one love here in Pittsburgh!  He can’t get enough of our iconic sandwich at Primani Brothers!

He told me, “I love Primanti brothers my old college roommate was from North Allegheny in Wexford and I used to go back there for college winters actually.”

Now, Ben is a winemaker in Sonoma, California. He told me his sister signed him up on the Bachelorette (he proposed and she turned him down if you remember that) but ABC asked him to be the next Bachelor….. after thinking about it for a while he finally decided to go for it. He told me, “When an opportunity has presented itself like this it’s sort of a once in a lifetime deal so you have to, you don’t have to, but you almost have to say yes.”

As for all of those commercials showing all of the broken-hearted sobbing … he’s seeing all of that for the first time. “It is surprising a lot of that stuff I don’t see so I watch with America and I start scratching my head like oh man I missed that one!” he said.

Ben is very laid back and told me he tried to stay out of all that drama.  But he also admitted to me that juggling all those women was not easy…. he even called them by the wrong name while on individual dates!  I hope the show producers decide to show us how that went over!


Advertisements

What To Do If You’re Sexually Assaulted

January 12, 2012 - Leave a Response

Take Action When Going Out:

  • Go out in groups and stay in public places.
  • Have a plan for leaving and getting home.  Bring extra money for a bus or cab.  Know who you can call for help or a ride.
  • Don’t drink from open containers or leave your drink unattended.  Be knowledgeable about drug facilitated sexual assault.
  • Don’t make sexual decisions while using drugs or alcohol, decisions are affected when using drugs or alcohol.
  • Tell someone about your plans.
  • Be honest about what you want and don’t want sexually.  Set limits and don’t worry about being polite or hurting someone’s feelings.
  • If someone is trying to force you to have sex, use the word “Rape”.  Most rapists don’t believe what they’re doing is rape.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, lie; “My friends will be right back”, “Someone is expecting me.”, “I’m sick.”, “Everyone saw us together.”
  • Don’t give out personal information to someone you just met.
  • Be aware of what is going on around you and the behaviors of others.

If you believe that you are the victim of sexual abuse:

  1. Get to a safe place.
  2. Try not to bathe, shower, eat, drink, brush your teeth or go to the bathroom before going to the emergency room. Valuable evidence remains on your body and clothes. Even if you have showered, brushed your teeth, etc., please seek medical care in the emergency department.
  3. Try not to change your clothes (if you already have, put your clothes in a clean paper bag and bring them with you to the emergency department). Bring a change of clothing if you can.
  4. Seek medical attention in the emergency department.
  5. If within Allegheny County, you can request that the hospital staff contact a PAAR medical advocate at 1-866-END-RAPE (1-866-363-7273). This is a free and confidential service. If not in Allegheny County, you can have a hospital staff person contact the nearest rape crisis center.
  6. If you are concerned about pregnancy, emergency contraception may be an available option. Talk to your health care provider.
  7. Please be aware that hospital staff will likely report your assault to the police. It is up to you if you would like to talk to the officer or not. If you decide to make a police report, the sooner you report the better.
  8. As a victim, you may be eligible for reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket expenses from the Pennsylvania Victims Compensation program. Contact PAAR for additional information.
  9. Please call us. No matter what you decide to do, you have done your very best. Contact PAAR at 1-866-END-RAPE (1-866-363-7273).
for more information.

Meet Miss Pennsylvania

January 11, 2012 - Leave a Response

This is Miss Pennsylvania Juliann Sheldon.  She’s getting ready for a big weekend with the Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas this Saturday night.  Juliann is a Plum resident and a junior at Point Park University. She’s obviously beautiful but I wanted you to know that she has a beautiful personality to match.  Juliann’s platform during her reign is mental health awareness…. and that’s why she helped kick things off at our annual NAMI walk in October.  She smiled and was so helpful (even when the cameras were off) despite the cold temperatures and pouring rain!

My friend Darcey Garda joined us for this picture. She works with NAMI which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It’s a great group helping those who suffer from various mental health issues and helping their families cope.  One in four people will need some type of help this year for a mental issue ranging from temporary depression to bipolar to OCD to schizophrenia.  So if you need help, don’t be embarrassed because a lot of others are going through something similar. Click here to get to NAMI’s website to get more information on help available.

Break a leg, Juliann!!!!  You’ve already made us proud!!!

Our Mayor “Tebowing”

January 10, 2012 - Leave a Response

It was a painful moment. A painful pay-up on a bet with Denver.  I was there when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was forced to put on a Tim Tebow jersey and kneel down just as Tebow does. Our ABC affiliate in Denver called me and asked for a copy of this photo just to show Bronco fans that we made good on the deal.

So there it is, Denver. Debt paid.  We’re good sports in Pittsburgh and we’re counting on being on the other end of this bet next season!

(** Side note: There is A LOT  of geese poop along the Clemente Memorial Park on the North Shore and you really need to watch where you stand or kneel while there!)

 

 

Gourmet Getaway at 7 Springs

January 9, 2012 - Leave a Response

I had a wonderful time at Seven Springs’ Gourmet Getaway again this year.  We had a great time with great food and learned so much! Here I am with Baker Cathy Baronie who is the supervisor at Gingerbread Dreams.  It smells heavenly!   Over the next few weeks I’m going to post some of the recipes from the chefs.

Cathy and Chef Brie Rock worked together to demonstrate several delightful cupcakes …(including a Maple Bacon one!) I’ll post Cathy’s cupcake recipe soon but I wanted to start with Chef Jay Seghi from Point Brugge which is one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh.  It’s in the charming Point Breeze neighborhood and is known for its mussels.  At first the restaurant only planned to offer them on Saturday nights but patrons demanded them all the time and now you can find them on the menu whenever you go.  There are various ways you can order them at the restaurant but this Thai Red Curry recipe is one of the most popular.

Chef Seghi says if you’re going to prepare this try and buy Prince Edward Island mussels if possible because they tend to be sweeter and slightly meatier. First you need to clean the mussels in a clean sink under cold running water. Discard any open mussels that do not close when tapped or squeezed. Next,  pull any little hairs that stick out from the crack in the shell and scrub the mussels lightly with your hands or a vegetable brush if the are excessivel dirty.  This can be done a few hours or even a day ahead of time and the mussels can be stored in the refrigerator covered with a damp towel.  Now for the good part…. Here is his magical Mussels sauce!

THAI RED CURRY MUSSELS

Curry sauce:

1 1/2 Tbsp ginger root, peeled and minced 2 1/2 – 3 Tbsp red curry paste

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 Tbsp shallots, chopped fine

1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

1 lime, juiced

1. Sweat ginger and shallots in vegetable oil until shallots are translucent

2. Add curry paste and powder, stir over medium-low heat for 2 minutes

3. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved

4. Add fish sauce and bring to a simmer

5. Label, and store in refrigerator. Yield about 3-4 cups

*curry paste – find at Asian specialty stores (Seghi uses Mae Ploy brand)

*coconut milk – find at Asian specialty stores (Seghi uses Chaokoh brand)

MUSSELS:

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 lb mussels, about 18-24, cleaned

1/2-3/4 cup curry sauce

2 Tbsp minced shallots

3/4 cup dry white wine

Crusty French or Italian bread, for mopping up the sauce

Few springs cilantro and basil for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook mussels, garlic and shallots in a small amount of vegetable oil, stirring fequently, until garlic and shallots are aromatic and the first few mussels begin to open.

2. Add wine, bring to a boil, cover and steam 5-7 minutes or until mussels are open and the meat has pulled away from the sides of the shell and is firm to the touch.

3. Add curry sauce; bring to a boil and cook just until the sauce begins to thicken but remains brothy (just thick enough to begin to coat the shells.)  Add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.

4. Toss with cilantro and basil if desired, and serve with crusty bread for mopping up the flavorful sauce.

Or if you want to enjoy them without having to do all of this yourself just Click here to check out the Point Brugge menu!

 

Lebanese-Style Pizza

January 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

        Meet our Associate Director Emile Khoury. He is one of the talented guys behind the scenes every morning. Not only is he a wonderful coworker and friend ….. he also spoils Kelly and me with a special dish.  It’s called Manoush which is sort of a Lebanese-style pizza. Kelly and I are now addicted to it and we hide the treats so we don’t have to share 🙂

Emile agreed to share with me his family recipe which includes homemade dough (but you can also easily cheat with the pre-made stuff).     Enjoy!

 

 

Manoush (a personal Lebanese style pizza)

Ingredients
* 6 cups of flour
* 1 tbsp of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/3 tsp of Mahlab (optional)
* 2 tbsp of yeast
* 2 cups of water
* 3/4 cup of milk
* zaatar ( oregano, thyme , sumac , sesame seeds, salt) mixed with olive oil until it become like paste

Directions

1. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, Mahlab and yeast) then add water and milk.
2. Kneed the dough very well leave it slightly sticky. If it is too sticky add about 1 tbsp of flour at a time and kneed .
3. Cover and let it rest after 1 hour the dough should double the size now pushit down and kneed again for a little bit.
4. Now divide the dough into 8 small round dough and dust them with flour ( you can cover with a plastic bag and let it rest for another 30 minutes but if you are in a hurry you can skip this step).
5. Bring out the rolling pin and on a clean dry surface sprinkle flour and start rolling the dough one by one into a round mini pizza size. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin just sprinkle more flour over it.
6. Place 2 pieces of the dough side by side in a baking tray and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven at 400 degree.
7. Spread the Zaatar/olive oil paste on top of the dough (you can put as much as you want, I like extra Zaatar on it) then bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, check the bottom of it if it is golden brown that means it is ready .

Tip #1: It is great with tea.

Tip #2: Do not bother Kelly or Michelle while they’re eating it. 🙂

Facelift in Your Fridge

January 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

A dermatologist says everyday foods you probably have in your kitchen right now will have a noticeable impact on your skin in just three days. He’s calling it a facelift in the fridge.

Dr Nicolas Perricone

I interviewed Dr. Nicholas Perricone about his research, and he agreed to give viewers a look at his three-day diet.

“It essentially works by reducing inflammation that we really can’t see. It’s on the cellular level. But when that inflammation comes down, what results is the skin becomes absolutely radiant, pores get tighter and there’s increased tone on the skin,” Perricone says. “It’s very noticeable — something that you can photograph, or if you walk in a room, people will say, ‘Have you been on vacation?’ or ‘What have you done?’ It’s that different, and it only takes three days.”

Salmon is a big part of his meal plan.

“Salmon, of course, contains essential fatty acids which are natural anti-inflammatories, and the skin needs essential fats to look its best. In addition, it’s high in protein,” Perricone says. “It also contains an anti-oxidant called astaxanthin, and astaxanthin is an amazing anti-oxidant because it not only reduces inflammation but it also gives us appearance of radiance, and does it very quickly, so salmon’s the key here.”

Perricone says this can help slow down the skin’s aging process and even reverse existing damage. He says it can also lead to better overall health and longer life.

Perricone can be reached on Twitter @DrPerricone for direct questions from you.

Here’s his diet… if you try it let me know how it works for you!

Breakfast 
3 egg white omelet cooked in olive oil (with mushrooms and avocado)
2-inch wedge of cantaloupe
Handful of almonds (raw or dry roasted, no salt)
12 oz of spring water (must drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water each day)
Cup of green tea

Lunch 
4 oz grilled salmon
2 cups watercress salad with a couple of sliced strawberries
Salad dressing: 1 tablespoon olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
2-inch wedge of cantaloupe with 1/4 cup of berries
12 oz of spring water
Cup of green tea

Dinner 
6 oz grilled salmon
2 cups watercress salad w/ sliced strawberries
Salad dressing: 1 tablespoon olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
1/2 cup steamed vegetables (broccoli, asparagus or spinach — dressed with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil)
2-inch wedge of cantaloupe with 1/4 cup of berries
12 oz spring water

Click here for Dr Perricone’s website to check out his skin care line and books with more skin care tips.

Shift Work Could Increase Diabetes Risk

January 3, 2012 - Leave a Response

The hours you work could put you more at risk for diabetes. I recently did some interviews about a new study that shows working rotating shifts puts  people at a much higher risk for developing the disease.

The new study from Harvard shows a strong link between working a swing shift and developing type II diabetes, especially if you’re a woman. (Click here to watch my video) The in-depth study looked at the health of 240,000 women over a 20-year period. The study found that those who worked odd and irregular hours for long periods of time were at a 60 percent greater risk for developing diabetes.

Jeri Lynn Tagg told me that she loves her work at a hospital, but she hasn’t always loved the hours. When Tagg heard about the diabetes risk study results, she said she wasn’t surprised She developed diabetes during her pregnancy. “I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. And then, after I had Adam, it went away for four-and-a-half or five years. Then it came back,” Tagg said.

When it came back, Tagg said she finally requested not to work the rotating overnight shifts. “You just felt so terrible,” Tagg said.

Dr Kamala Rajupet

Dr Kamala Rajupet

“What they saw was in nurses who were doing at three, three-night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening shifts. They were at a higher risk for developing type II diabetes”, said Dr. Kamala Rajupet of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Forbes Regional Hospital.

The study was headed by Dr. Frank Hu, of Harvard. Hu’s group found that after just a decade of shift work, the risk of developing diabetes for women is 40 percent greater. After 20 years or more, that risk skyrocketed to 60 percent.

Now, researchers are looking for a more precise reason for that jump. Doctors speculate stress on the body from three things; poor eating habits, disrupting the body’s circadian rhythm sleep cycle and not getting enough sleep, may be to blame.

For those who have to work swing shifts, doctors say there are preventative measures workers can take. “I think the key is to try to be as disciplined as possible in terms of a healthy lifestyle in spite of the change in the shifts,” Rajupet said. “You have to be very strict on what you do, when you eat, what you eat (at) what times. It’s very, very important.”

The Secret Energy Boost

January 2, 2012 - Leave a Response

Getting back in the swing of things after these last couple of weeks is tough!  Not only am I  exhausted from all the shopping and baking and decorating and traveling ….. now I have to find  the energy to get my homes back in order, get back to work (and my 2:30AM alarm clock!)  and get my two beautiful children focusing on school again.    UGH!!

Here’s some helpful tips from Panthro Fitness on how to get your energy back.  Launched by fitness expert Reggie Dulaney in 2008, he and his team are helping Western Pennsylvania get healthy.  Reggie agreed to share with me some motivation and the one thing you can do to get that energy back: sweat.  Thanks Reggie!

 

 A few weeks ago, when the holiday season was under way, you were feeling energized and pepped up, looking forward to all the festivities and celebrations. But now, as you begin the countdown to 2012, all that vim and vigor might have given way to sluggishness and exhaustion.

Does this sound like you? If so, you are not alone. The period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is always hectic. We overschedule and overextend ourselves, so it’s no wonder that we may feel totally wiped out by the time January rolls in.  To make matters worse, we often eat badly and don’t exercise as regularly as we should, all of which can lead to that “weak and weary” feeling.

If you are like most people, you probably overindulged in heavy fats and refined sugars, which is a typical fare at holiday parties. It takes a great deal of energy to digest a large and heavy meal. It’s no secret that eating this kind of food and not getting enough healthy nutrients will sap your energy.

Not only that, but when you are tired, your immune system is weakened and more receptive to all kinds of ailments, such as cold and flu viruses, and even depression. When you feel like this, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise, but that’s exactly what you should be doing – no matter how “worn out” you are.

There is plenty of evidence indicating that physical activity is one of the best remedies to combat the after-holiday crash. One study, conducted a few years ago by the researchers at Georgia University, has revealed that even low-intensity workouts can reduce fatigue by 65 percent and boost energy levels up to 20 percent.

To pack the most fatigue-busting benefits into your workout choose vigorous and brisk activities that will make your heart work harder than it does when you are inactive.

While you work out, your heartbeat increases and more oxygen-rich blood flows through the brain and as a result, you feel more energetic and invigorated. It’s really quite simple.

So if post- holiday “blahs” make you listless a sweat session may be just what you need to recharge your batteries and rev up your engine for the New Year! 

Click here for more from Panthro Fittness. 

2012 Consumer Trends

January 1, 2012 - Leave a Response

I always love interviewing Dr Audrey Guskey from Duquesne University because she has always got the inside scoop on what’s hot and what’s not…. and I love her personality and outlook on life!   She is a consumer trends expert and just put together a list of the top 12 consumer trends we can expect in 2012. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact it’s already 2012!)

Dr. Audrey Guskey

Professor of Marketing / Duquesne University 

12 CONSUMER TRENDS IN 2012 

1.     CHEAP CHIC RETURNS    

It is cool to be cheap.  Bragging about bargains is fashionable. 

2.  THE F-FACTORS – FRIENDS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS.  

Consumers are FINDING new products & services

& getting FEEDBACK through social networks.

3.  TRADING IN    is the “new buying” for 2012

Consumers are unlocking the value of past purchases by selling through online platforms & mobile marketplaces.  

4.  EXPERIENTIALS.  Consumers are downsizing their stuff and piling on

the experiences.   They want to do, not have. 

5.  EVERYONE’S A VIP.  

Tailored services and perks aren’t just reserved for celebrities anymore.  Anyone can be treated like royalty and pay like a pauper. 

6.  VIRTUAL CONSUMERS

Consumers are shopping on automatic pilot.  With their busy lifestyles and hand held devices, they aren’t thinking a lot when it comes to buying.

7.  SCREENING FANS.  

Consumers will interface with everything through their screens.  Whether it’s a touch screen or tablet, our lives will become even more digital. 

8.  INSTANT VISUAL INFORMATION GRATIFICATION.   

Whether it is a QR code or a phone app, the Smartphone will allow consumers to point and know about people, places, and things.  Google Goggles is the neatest. 

9.  HELPING IS IN. 

People are reaching out to others through simple random acts of kindness. Consumers like to help brands they are passionate about. 

10.  LISTEN FOR THE WHITE SPACE. 

In music, white space is the quiet time.  We work hard and play hard, but sometimes we need time to just be.  Consumers will be searching for their own white space.

11.  GOD IS GOOD.          

In our busy, virtual world, we are realizing something is missing and we are turning back to religion for hope, comfort, and security.  Consumers will become less materialistic and more spiritual.

12.  PITTSBURGH ROCKS 

The BURG is SIZZLING.  Our demographics are older & traditional (& that’s good news!)  Our economy is strong and retail is thriving in our hometown.  Pittsburgh will continue to be a leader in business and economics.

Check out Dr. Guskey’s new show Consumer Sense by clicking here  or follow her on Twitter @DrAudreyGuskey.

          

3 Ways to Save on Prescription Drug Cost

December 31, 2011 - Leave a Response

No matter if you’re rich or poor or somewhere in between, you can get financial help paying for your medication!

1) Ask your doctor for a voucher. 

Drug companies give these vouchers to doctors to help you and all you have to do is ask.  It’s in an effort to compete against generic brands but because of that generic drugs do not qualify.

2) Ask your pharmacy for discount coupons. 

There’s a good chance your pharmacist has a stack of coupons which are also provided by drug companies to help you.

3) A website offers additional help.

Click here to get to a website called NeedyMeds to get additional ideas for help paying for your drugs.

To watch my full story click here.

This is a great time to talk about this because for many people it’s a tough time of year to pay the bills.  Credit cards bills are extra heavy with all those Christmas purchases and heating bills are higher than normal, too.  To get through, lots of people don’t fill their prescription medication because they can’t afford the co-pay.

Those three ways can drastically reduce or even eliminate co-pay costs, which may come as a relief for those struggling to make ends meet. Ashley Boynes-Schuck uses these programs and she shared her story with me in hopes of helping others.

“I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis in all of my joints since I was 10 years old, and I’m now 28,” Boynes-Schuck said.

At one point, Boynes-Schuck had to take 20 pills a day because her condition evolved into several other health problems. The extra problems evolved into drug costs that were so high she thought she had no choice but to stop filling her prescriptions.

“If I knew there was something out there to help me get them at a more affordable price then I totally would have taken advantage of that,” .” Boynes-Schuck said. “But at the time, I didn’t know.” She eventually learned there are several programs in place to help with the cost of medicine and there are no financial restrictions.

“I understand that these medications are expensive, and it’s important to save money any way you can,” said Dr. Fotios Koumpouras, medical director of The Lupus Center of Excellence at West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Koumpouras said patients should first ask their doctors about a voucher. Drug companies provide the vouchers to doctors to give their patients for certain brand-name drugs.

The two restrictions for vouchers are that generic drugs are not included and patients on Medicare cannot use them. But the vouchers help bring the co-pay cost down, no matter how much money you make. The next step is to ask the pharmacy about a discount card program. This is also offered by drug companies to help with the co-pay cost and make drugs more competitive with the generic ones.

Finally, go to NeedyMeds.org where you can find help.

“The trend of these has grown rapidly over the last year or two and offers a competitive edge to the medications that might be cheaper otherwise,” Koumpouras said.

While the vouchers aren’t available for all drugs on the market, about half of all name brand prescription drugs are included, so it’s worth checking out no matter what your income level!

Mom’s Meatball Recipe

December 29, 2011 - Leave a Response

My mother loves to spoil us all year long….. but when the weather turns cold … she knows there’s nothing better than filling her cozy kitchen with an aroma sure to warm my soul.

Since she’s doing all the work and I’m just enjoying the fire ……I thought I’d share with you some of her magic!   Bon Appetit!

Mom’s Meatballs – A Rockfire Recipe

1 lb ground beef

1/2 lb sausage

2 large eggs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup romano cheese

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1-2 Tablespoon minced garlic

1-2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup water

Mix all and form into golfball-sized meatballs.  We decided to bake some of them at 375 for 35 minutes to make sub sandwiches for lunch.. DELICIOUS!…  and the rest went in the crockpot to serve with spaghetti and garlic bread.

Truth in Advertising

December 29, 2011 - Leave a Response

Have you heard about the huge crackdown on advertisers? The United States is following Britain’s lead and starting to ban companies from digitally manipulating photos in order to sell products. It’s all part of truth in advertising. 

The UK banned a Lancome ad featuring Julia Roberts for excessive photoshopping.  We’ve all seen the beautiful smile of Julia Roberts often and it was easy to see that she was photoshopped into something that looked more like a mannequin. While her skin is flawless …. it also appears as if it could melt if the room temperature reached 80 degrees. 

Now the US is cracking down as well.  The National Advertising Division banned a Covergirl ad with 22 year old Taylor Swift.  Apparently, the company was asked about enhancing the lashes in post production while trying to sell NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara. Technically the NAD didn’t ban the ad ….. it never got that far. Once the agency started asking questions Covergirl pulled it.  NAD asked about the accuracy of the photo and asked Covergirl to substantiate claims that it created “2X more volume” and is “20% lighter than competing brands.” When those questions came in, the ad disappeared. 

 Maybelline also came under fire for a similar photoshop issue in which the company allegedly misled consumers by using photoshop to remove Christy Turlington’s dark circles while trying to sell an anti-aging product called “Eraser”.

As a woman on TV I know how much pressure there can be about hair and makeup and clothes. As a mother to a beautiful 11 year old I don’t want enhanced photos to make her lose one ounce of self esteem!

This might be just the beginning and may lead to more advertising bans which include those that slim down women in order to sell products. Just imagine how that will change our view in the grocery store check out line!

What do you think about the ban? Let me know: mwright@hearst.com or to join the conversation on Facebook click here or for Twitter click here

25 Great Phone Apps

December 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Lots of us unwrapped some sort of iCollection last week. Whether an iphone, and ipad or an ipod I thought now would be a great time to look at some of the most useful and interesting apps.  Plus, my mother is shopping around for her first smart phone and keeps asking what all it can do for her.  So I decided to make a list.  Some of these I have used for a while and others I’m just downloading. But here’s a personal list of 25 apps I love in no particular order. 

** 1) Words with Friends ( $0.99) — I am addicted to Words With Friends.  I have several games running at the same time and I love it.  While I don’t admire Alec Baldwin for throwing a hissy fit on the airplane and eventually getting kicked off while holding up the flight for an hour…. I can relate to being on the verge of playing a perfect word and having to wait. Here is my highest word score. 🙂 I took a picture. I will admit that any victory I’ve had includes a lot .. and I mean a lot… of guessing. Right now there’s no penalty for trying a word that’s rejected. But I sure do try every option and sometimes it pays off. I still have no idea what evzone means LOL!  

** 2) Skype (free) — This is fabulous.  My brothers and I use this often when we’re working on projects together and the sound quality is tremendous.  Whether over the computer or on the phone it’s great. Also Skype users can video chat with each other on the phone over a 3G connection and not just over WiFi like other services.

** 3) Angry Birds ($0.99) — I am not addicted to this app as much as some of my friends…. but it’s a great time waster when you’re in the grocery store checkout line that’s taking forever.  You can fling the cartoon birds through the air to sort of knock down things in a war against egg-stealing pigs. 

** 4) Yelp (free)  — I’ve used this around Pittsburgh when the restaurant I was planning on has too long of a wait or happens to be closed.  It locates all of the nearby places to eat and organizes them by proximity, neighborhood, price, or what’s currently open.  You also get to check out customer reviews. (Urbanspoon is similar and also great!)

** 5) Alarm Clock Pro ($0.99) — I use this everyday to back up my regular alarm clock … just in case.  I have to wake up at 2:30 AM and the news won’t wait!  So whether I’m away or at home it’s a must.  It also allows you to adjust the brightness on the screen which I love and you can choose to wake up to a variety of sounds or music.

**6) Open Table  (free)– I’ve used this a few times and it works great if you’re rushing to make reservations on the go or if you’re in a meeting where you can’t make a call.  There are 15K participating restaurants.  You can also check out nearby open tables. 

** 7)  My Fitness Pal (free)  —  OK.. so the truth is my trainer, Camille Clarke, forced me download this and it’s great.  I just log in everything I eat and it provides the calorie count.  It helps me keep track of how I’m doing everyday and keeps me accountable! 

** 8) Epicurious (free) —  This is another new one for me.  I think I’m going to love it!  You can type in ingredients you already have at home and the app will do the rest by adding a couple of quick items to pick up at the store.  It helps you plan small meals or big ones and you can see reviews of the recipes by other users. It’s like a virtual cookbook. it’s free.

** 9) Pandora (free) —   I love this.  It’s not new but it’s still great.  You just type in a song or an artist and it makes a playlist just for you of songs that are similar.  I’ve been introduced to a lot of new artists by this app. 

** 10) Photoshop Express (free)  — This is another new one for me.  Since I’m taking so many photos on my phone, it just makes sense to have an easy app to make corrections right there rather than sending them to my computer first.  Looking forward to learning this one. Best of all it’s free. 

** 11) Facebook, Twitter, & Google+ (free)  —  All a necessity on here.  There’s really nothing else to say.

 **12)  Amazon Mobile (free) —  You already probably use the service to buy things. But what I like best about this is that when I’m out shopping I can use this app to scan the bar code or just take a photo of an item and then see if Amazon sells is cheaper. 

** 13) Mint Personal Finance (free)  — Another one that’s going to help me kick off 2012.  It’s a money manager app that helps track your income, spending and investments. I can set a budget and it will keep me on track.  It’s a free service which will also help keep my budget in line. 

** 14) WebMD (free) — This offers a medical diagnosis app.  You can input your symptoms and gets clues to what’s ailing  you or your children.  It also provides a listing of area healthcare professionals and pharmacies in the area. But the best part of this app is a first-aid guide with simple instructions on how to deal with an emergency.

** 15) Retro Camera (1.99) — I downloaded this when some of my friends kept posting the coolest retro-looking photos on their Facebook posts.  It offers a variety of looks to make your pictures look amazing and a lot more interesting! 

** 16) Textfree Unlimited (free) — This is a great option especially for kids that don’t have a cell phone.  With wifi they can text any regular cell phone or someone else who is on an ipod/ipad for free!  They can text their friends all they want without their parents having to worry about for a monthly charge for cell service and texts. (And trust me when I say teens do more texting than actual talking anway — very, very bizarre to me!) 

** 17) Text’n Drive (free) — I’m just downloading this and I’m expecting big things.  For anyone who has a terrible habit of texting and driving or checking texts while driving, this app provides a hands-free solution.  It will read your texts for you and you can respond by just talking.  

** 17) Around Me (free) — It’s a new one for me.   With great reviews, I’m just starting to check out this app. It pinpoints your exact location and lets you know about points of interest around you.  Restaurants, bars, ATMs, hospitals, supermarkets, theaters, and more. 

** 19) Sky Walk ($1.99)  — This is amazing.  A few years ago I interviewed the two men who live in Pittsburgh who developed a version of this for Google and the Android platform. (Click here to watch my story) Kevin Serafina and John Taylor showed me their amazing app called SkyMap. This version for the iPhone also enables you to point your phone in any direction and identify the stars. It is especially cool if you are looking up at the night sky and want to know what you’re seeing but it will also tell you what’s beyond the clouds or if you point it toward the floor you can know what constellation the other side of the world is admiring.

** 20) Shazam (free) — My wonderful coworkers Kelly Frey and Scott Stiller love to talk music. Obscure music.  During commercial breaks one of them sings a few lines from an 80’s song and the other has to guess the name and artist. After launching Shazam just hold it next to the speakers and the app can tell you the artist and song title. It’s too bad the app won’t work just by having a coworker sing a few bars ….. 

** 21) Dropbox (free) — This is a free service that lets you put all of your photos, docs and videos together. It makes it much easier to email several pictures at once. Plus you can access your Dropbox from anywhere allowing you to take everything with you on the go. 

** 22) Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro (free) — Another great meal planning app that even includes a filter for how much time the recipe requires. The reason it’s called “spinner” is that you can play “roulette” and let the app choose your menu for you. 

23) ** CamScanner ($4.99) — it turns your iPhone into a portable scanner.  It can turn any document, receipt, or note into a PDF file for safe keeping. 


** 24) Evernote (free) — Evernote for iPhone lets you create notes, snap photos, and record voice memos that you can then access any time from your iPhone, computer, or the web.

**25)  WTAE (free) — How could I do a list without including this great app!  We’ll bring you all the latest local news developments, weather and traffic that you can check anytime!

Thank you to everyone who suggested interesting new apps to try on my Facebook post. This list obviously includes things I’m familiar with but I’m looking forward to trying out some of your suggestions! Here are a few from you: Poynt,  Barcode Scanner, iTriage, Shopsavvy , App Killer, Flashlight, Shopkick, Flipboard, Hipsamatic, Cardmunch, Geo Qpon, Keeper, Team Viewer, Notshelf, Allegheny Traffic Cams, Vlingo, Pocket, Calorie Counter, Tape Measure, Steelers Insider, Office Jerk, Cozi, Free App Finder, Key Ring, Steelers Gameday Official App & Penguins Official App, Currents, My Pregnancy Today from Baby Center, Urban Spoon, Mapquest 4 Mobile.

 

Peppermint-White Chocolate Royale

December 26, 2011 - Leave a Response

I have a very distant relative who is a magazine publisher.  She’s so distant I’ve never met her but she and my mother shared a great grandmother or something like that. As distant as it is… I still enjoy our connection!

She does a great job with the bi-monthly magazine called Southern Lady.   I have two actual old fashioned hard copy magazine subscriptions that come in the mail.  One is to the amazing Pittsburgh Magazine. Love it!  The other is to Southern Lady. In the holiday edition of my subscription, I found this yummy recipe for a soul-warming drink that can double as a dessert. Perfect to help us all cope with the winter blues now that Christmas is over.  Enjoy!

Peppermint-White Chocolate Royale

(makes 6 to 8 servings)

3 cups half-and-half

3 cups milk

1/2 cup peppermint syrup

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 (4-ounce) bars white chocolate, chopped

Garnish: peppermint,whipped cream & white chocolate curls

In a large saucepan, combine half-and-half, milk, peppermint syrup, vanilla, and white chocolate melts.  Garnish with peppermint whipped cream and white chocolate curls.  To make the peppermint whipped cream just fold crushed peppermint candy into traditional whipped cream.