Posted Feb 12, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
In this day and age, it seems everyone is becoming an oenophile. There’s social pressure to know everything about wine—the various types, the best regions for certain wine, how to pair wine with food, and more. Thankfully, Food & Wine magazine (available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services) can educate you on the latest tips, trends, and techniques in wine.
Food & Wine’s newly redesigned layout, which debuted in the February 2014 issue, makes the magazine easier to navigate and enjoy. The fresh design is filled with even more wine stories, recommendations, and expert interviews and contributions. Here are highlights of the magazine’s newest wine features that you can use to impress friends at the next dinner party.
It’s easy to find advice on how to select good wine, but what about how to spot bad wine? In Food & Wine’s new section, “Bottle Service,” wine experts answer frequently asked questions. This month, they detail how to avoid bad wine. Apparently, you shouldn’t be quick to judge when wine tastes bad. It’s possible it may have been damaged by a tainted or faulty cork, or the bottle may have been improperly stored in a hot place. You can avoid this by buying bottles aged before release or finding great screw cap wines. If you’re storing the wine, make sure it’s in a place that stays at 55 degrees (i.e. not on the kitchen counter). Then there’s the price. According to experts, if you find a $15 bottle from expensive regions, such as Burgundy or Napa, it will probably taste like $15.
In this issue’s “Wine Talk”—Food & Wine’s new interview column—the magazine converses with New York sommelier Patrick Cappiello, who shares how to find the best values on a restaurant wine list. Cappiello says restaurants generally mark up bottles to twice the retail price, so keep that in mind when perusing the list. To figure out the markup, you can use wine-searcher.com to find the retail price on almost any wine. He also recommends becoming familiar with regions known for great values. Currently, Cappiello’s pick for value regions include the Loire Valley, the northern Rhône, and Sicily.
Eager to learn more about all things wine plus get delicious recipes for the perfect food pairings? Subscribe to Food & Wine magazine through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services.
Posted Feb 5, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
Google is one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, so it’s no surprise that its latest undertaking involves seeking out and financially backing promising startups. Google Ventures, Google’s venture capital company, equips entrepreneurships with the money, marketing and advertising support, business intelligence, and anything else they need to thrive. The January 13, 2014, issue of Fortune magazine—available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services—explains how Google Ventures is transforming the business world.
One of the most unexpected features of Google Ventures is the diversity of its investments outside the search and tech world. It strives to help build companies that offer groundbreaking solutions in education, transportation, medicine, finance, energy, and robotics. According to the magazine, “Google sees an opportunity to bring disruptive innovation to create a different future” in these and other industries.
In the clean energy industry, Google backs the smart thermostat and smoke alarm company Nest. There’s the transportation service Uber, which connects riders and drivers via apps. Ventures has several medical startups in its portfolio including SynapDx, which is working on an early detection test for autism, and OneMedical, which offers personalized medical care. Its education startups include NoRedInk, an interactive tool for teachers to help students outside of school hours, and Panorama Education, a data analytics company supporting school systems.
Ventures invests $300 million annually in these companies, but its contributions include more than dollars. It also provides design, recruiting, and engineering services, as well as business development workshops. Thus far, Google Ventures has supported more than 220 businesses, and more than 20 of these have gone public or been sold—not the norm for tech companies that become investors of startups. Google attributes its success to the way Ventures was set up—as a company completely independent from Google. Another contributing factor to its success is that many Ventures partners and some employees are entrepreneurs who created their own successful businesses. Ventures has even sold some of its investments to Google competitors.
For more of the latest business and investment news, subscribe to Fortune magazine with EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services.
Posted Jan 31, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
Recently, a few well-known cruise lines have made headlines, and it’s not because of their endless buffets. Thankfully, these isolated incidents are not common. Cruise lines are seizing this as an opportunity to prove cruising is still a safe, fun way to travel—especially for families with kids. The February 2014 issue of Parents magazine (available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services) highlights six different family-friendly cruise lines.
According to the magazine, four in five Americans have never cruised, so Parents helps families decide whether cruising is a good idea for them. Cruising is recommended for families with toddlers and tweens and for large groups that include extended family members. It is not recommended for pregnant mothers, families with a newborn, or kids who aren’t potty trained.
Saving money is important to most families, so Parents suggests three ways to stay on budget: travel in September and October instead of the peak winter and spring seasons; watch cruise prices—contact the cruise line if the cost of your trip drops between the time you book it and the final payment due date; and be mindful of extra costs for beverages. Once you heed this advice, get ready to choose the right cruise line for your family!
Carnival Cruise Lines is great for parents who want time to themselves. It offers the widest range of camp and babysitting programs with activities such as arts, crafts, climbing mazes, and scavenger hunts. One Carnival ship boasts the biggest water park at sea. For parents, there are adults-only pool areas and nightlife. Carnival even has a Carnival Live Concert Series with performances by popular musicians.
For families who love Mickey Mouse but want a more low-key experience than the Disney parks, there’s Disney Cruise Line. Disney characters appear in evening shows and meet and greet their fans often during the day. Every Disney ship has two large themed children’s areas with art supplies, games, and more. Ships also feature plenty of water activities for kids. Adults can have fun, too, with their own pool area and nightclubs, plus a spa and upscale restaurants.
If quality family time is what you need, MSC Cruises are the ticket. Children 11 and younger can sail free, and there are also significant discounts for families with older children. This line promotes family-oriented activities, but still offers separate options for kids and adults. Activities for kids include pool games, scavenger hunts, and cooking classes. Adults can participate in fitness classes and hang out at the adults-only pool, complete with tiki bar and lounge chairs.
Families traveling in large groups or with extended family members should try Norwegian Cruise Line. Norwegian is known for “freestyle” cruising, which means guests can dine on the ship when and where they choose without assigned seating. Many of the cabins connect to accommodate large groups. Kids can go to circus school, meet Nickelodeon characters, or visit the water park. For the adults, there are pools and fitness centers, a spa, bars, and Broadway-style entertainment.
Combine relaxation with education on Princess Cruises. This cruise line provides kids’ activities including art tours, cooking classes, talent shows, and more. The most unique experience, the Science on the Seas program, lets kids participate in cool projects such as chemistry experiments and dissections. Parents have an adults-only lounge area with lots of great options.
Families with children from toddler to tween will appreciate Royal Caribbean International’s knack for keeping kids of all ages entertained. Kids’ programs are split according to age, with activities such as dinosaur digs, talent shows, and sports tournaments.
Several ships offer the DreamWorks Experience. There are photo opportunities and special meals with DreamWorks characters, DreamWorks parades, and DreamWorks Animation movie showings. For parents, there are indoor/outdoor pool areas and hot tubs.
Thanks to Parents magazine, families of all sizes can make an educated decision about the cruise line that works best for them. For more from Parents magazine, subscribe through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services.
Posted Jan 22, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
After the holidays, cleaning up and starting afresh can be overwhelming. We acquire more stuff, but we usually have less space for it. Since the New Year is generally the time when we assess our life and surroundings and make improvements, it makes sense that home organization would be at the top of our lists. Yet, it can be difficult to know how to start.
It’s a good thing there are plenty of smart solutions in the January 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine—available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services. The magazine gave three readers expert advice for decluttering high-use areas in their homes, and the results are inspiring.
Organizer and blogger Jen Jones helped one Better Homes and Gardens reader get her entryway in shape with both open and closed storage. Jones took a simple Ikea cabinet and transformed it into a storage space the whole family can easily use. The upper half of the cabinet is for the parents: a charging station, two-tiered sorter for mail and documents, and a corkboard for keeping track of reminders and schedules. The lower half of the cabinet, reserved for the kids, includes hooks for backpacks and open bins for easy access storage. Next to the cabinet, Jones added a bench with storage inside where the family can keep shoes.
Professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc helped a Better Homes and Gardens reader handle her pantry. To keep baking staples and bulk food items fresh longer and to make it easier to see when it’s time to buy more, LeBlanc recommended using clear, airtight containers from Cuisinart. She advised storing the most-used items between eye and waist level and storing the least-used items on the top shelf. LeBlanc replaced fixed shelves with adjustable shelves and added hanging baskets. For heavier goods, she installed wooden crates underneath the bottom shelf.
Professional organizer Rachel Strisik lent her expertise to a Better Homes and Gardens reader in need of a closet cleanup. This reader found herself repeatedly wearing the same things rather than pilfering through the chaos. Strisik started by helping the reader winnow her wardrobe, getting rid of old clothing and shoes that was stained or didn’t fit. Shelf dividers were placed between purses and bags, and fabric bins were used to keep stacks of sweaters straight. Strisik even removed the closet doors, replacing them with curtains to make the full width of the closet easier to access. To keep shoes in place, she used a shoe organizer with cubbies for everyday footwear and stored special occasion shoes in clear plastic boxes on top.
For more creative methods and expert tips on organizing your living spaces, check out Better Homes and Gardens with a subscription through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services.
Posted Jan 15, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
You may have seen the theatrical trailers for the latest Spike Jonze movie, Her. The movie is a fictional account of a lonely man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a computer operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Jonze came up with the idea for his movie based on his own experience with an online chatbot. While the concept of love between a human and a computer seems unlikely, it may actually be a possibility in the future, according to an article in the January 2014 issue of Popular Science magazine (available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services).
Human-like computer software has been around since the 1960s when Joseph Weizenbaum and a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built Eliza, one of the first and most well-known Artificial Intelligence programs. Designed to mimic a talk therapist, Eliza falls short of the real thing because she lacks human emotions and empathy. She also isn’t very smart, which the free online version makes clear in its disclaimer.
Perhaps to make up for Eliza’s lack of brains, IBM developed Watson, a highly intelligent computer program. In 2011, Watson even competed against and beat two humans in Jeopardy! Watson can understand conversational language and pull from external and internal knowledge bases. According to the magazine, Watson works in health care, finance, and retail—he may be smart, but he still isn’t capable of love.
Just because a computer can’t love back doesn’t mean the human won’t become emotionally attached to it. Popular Science cites studies that prove some humans will share more personal information with a computer than with a human researcher. Maybe that’s because they think it can be trusted more than a human who has emotions, feelings, and free will.
Yet, aren’t these key components of relationships—expressing emotions, sharing feelings, and making decisions? Computers are helpful to humans in countless ways, but providing romantic companionship seems like a notion that belongs in a movie.
For more on the latest in the world of science and technology, subscribe to Popular Science magazine through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services!
Posted Jan 8, 2014
Written by Rossi Morris
Many of us have been faced with the pressure to multitask—at work, at home, in every aspect of life. The problem is that most of us are unable to complete anything for trying to do everything at once. Researchers have conducted various studies to prove whether or not it’s even possible to be a successful multitasker. Up to now, most experiments have revealed that the average person cannot complete more than one task at a time, but recent studies have indicated that there are those who are exceptions. The article “Meet the Supertaskers” in the February 2014 issue of Psychology Today magazine (available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services) explores the latest discoveries in multitasking and how we can all benefit.
Psychologist David Strayer is an attention expert whose experiments prove that multitasking is a myth—we think we’re multitasking when, really, we’re just switching back and forth between various tasks. This multitasking-in-disguise has a negative impact on attention, memory, and focus, ultimately slowing down productivity and increasing stress. In the past five years, however, Strayer has found evidence that 2.5 percent of people in his studies have the unique ability to multitask and even thrive when doing many tasks at once. Strayer calls this group “supertaskers” and says they channel attention, memory, and focus into managing tasks without making mistakes. Other attention experts agree that supertaskers’ cognitive control enables them to tune out distractions when taking on multiple tasks.
Who are the supertaskers among us? People with high-intensity jobs tend to be supertaskers. The magazine delves into the super-tasking skills of a Red Cross relief operation director, an ER nurse, and a live multi-camera TV director. Many top athletes, musicians, and other performers are also considered supertaskers based on their ability to excel under pressure. These individuals may be supertaskers in their professional lives, but when it comes to multitasking behind the scenes, most have hired help, as some people have been quick to point out in the latest controversy surrounding supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Bundchen posted a photo of herself being primped while feeding her baby with the hashtag “multitasking,” and many people took offense.
Where do supertaskers get this ability: Is it learned or natural? Research is being conducted to find genetic origins, and recent studies have shown that many of us can practice and learn skills that seem to come naturally to supertaskers, such as ignoring distractions and proficiently handling various spurts of information. A recent experiment proved that constant play of action video games can train a person to multitask through the exposure to a barrage of noises, visuals, and quick decisions. The average person can only track approximately four objects simultaneously while avid gamers can track approximately six objects. These studies on gamers prove that video games can reshape our brains and enhance our cognitive ability to multitask. However, many experts say that keeping gaming at a minimum is key to avoid addiction and counter-productivity. They say the best way to develop super-tasking skills is to practice single-tasking.
For more on the latest in psychology and what makes us tick, check out Psychology Today with a subscription through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services.
Posted Dec 18, 2013
Written by Rossi Morris
The New Yorker —available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services—is a weekly magazine known for its humorous cartoons, fiction, and poetry as well as reviews of food and drink, books, movies, theater, music, art, fashion, and more. It also features commentaries on national and international politics, culture, and events. Founded in 1925, The New Yorker initially focused on New York City’s social happenings, and since then, the magazine has broadened its scope to become the noteworthy publication it is today. This week, we’re highlighting some New York City exclusives in theater, music, and art—all in the December 9, 2013 issue of the magazine.
New York City is famous for its rich theater history of Broadway musicals and plays. A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a show. To many Hollywood actors and actresses, a role in a Broadway production is considered a career highpoint. The New Yorker pays tribute to several Hollywood film stars who are gracing the stage: Sarah Jessica Parker in “The Commons of Pensacola,” Billy Crudup in “No Man’s Land” and “Waiting for Godot,” and Ethan Hawke in “Macbeth.” Other notable productions the magazine mentions include “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical,” which chronicles the life and career of singer Carole King, and Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.”
In the world of auctions, antiques, and art, New York hosts the best of the best. Sotheby’s, which auctioned works by well-known artists Edward Hopper, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, and Norman Rockwell, recently made headlines for selling painter Rockwell’s famous work “Saying Grace” for $46 million. Christie’s sold an electric guitar formerly owned and played by Bob Dylan for nearly $1 million. This Fender Stratocaster marked the first time Dylan went electric on stage. Thankfully, New York offers fabulous museums for those of us whose budgets only permit the browsing of fine art. The New Yorker provides a “Museums Short List,” which includes exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In music, The New Yorker applauds the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Falstaff,” an operatic adaptation of Shakespeare. Falstaff is the last opera from composer Giuseppe Verdi, best known for his works “Aida” and “Otello.” Also acclaimed are the New York Philharmonic’s latest productions and Trinity Church Wall Street’s production of “Messiah.”
Let EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services put New York culture, lifestyle, and entertainment at your fingertips with a subscription to The New Yorker!
Posted Dec 12, 2013
Written by Rossi Morris
If you are from the South, you know what a jewel it is. We have a culture unlike any other, and our rich heritage keeps us grounded in our roots. Southern Living magazine, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, has captured the essence of the South since 1966. Every month, Southern Living—now available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services—celebrates the best of Southern cuisine, life, culture, landscape, and architecture with beautiful photos and unique features. The December issue is no exception. We’re highlighting its “Holiday Must List,” which includes “17 things every Southerner should see, make, taste, or do for the merriest season ever.”
Turns out, Santa’s reindeer only report for duty in the North Pole at Christmastime. The other 364 days are spent in the South at Strickland Place Farm in White House, Tennessee. This year, you can see them at the beautiful grounds of Cheekwood in Nashville. For a different breed of fun, visit Atlanta and ride Priscilla the Pink Pig. Priscilla—a pink, swine-shaped train that takes shoppers through a winter wonderland at Macy’s Lenox Square—has been a Southern tradition since 1953. While you’re in Atlanta, stop by Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park. It has five football fields of man-made snow where you can go tubing, build a snowman, try your hand at snowball shooting, and more.
Not able to travel this season? Bring Southern charm into your home with quintessential Southern décor, crafts, and traditions. When choosing a Christmas tree, pick a Fraser fir, which is native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, from southwest Virginia, through western North Carolina, and into eastern Tennessee. Maybe you prefer an artificial arbor. Southern Living found three nontraditional varieties that require a wide open space: a whiskey barrel tree, a crab pot tree, and a singing Christmas tree.
As any Southerner knows, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a bountiful feast. This season, add Southern flair to your holiday menus with dishes from below the Mason-Dixon line. Native to South Carolina is the lowcountry oyster roast, when oysters are grilled on an open fire and eaten fresh off the flames or on top of a saltine cracker with cocktail sauce. If you’re passing through Charleston, try roasted oysters at Bowens Island Restaurant. You only have to go as far south as Mississippi to find good tamales. Mexican migrant workers introduced them to the state in the early 1900s, and since then, tamales have become a holiday mainstay. Make your own or visit Scott’s Hot Tamales in Greenville, Mississippi. In New Orleans, the holidays are just one more excuse to enjoy fantastic Creole and Cajun food. Christmas Eve marks the Réveillon, a traditional Creole feast served after midnight Mass. If you’ll be in New Orleans during the holidays, check out the Réveillon menu at Arnaud’s.
Bring the Southern lifestyle and traditions into your home every month with a subscription to Southern Living magazine through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services!
Posted Dec 4, 2013
Written by Rossi Morris
Whether it’s a family get-together, a gift swap with girlfriends, or a couples cocktail party, you may be planning a holiday gathering of some kind this season. If so, don’t sweat it. December’s Food Network magazine—available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services—has you covered with hundreds of recipes for holiday food and drinks, plus an assortment of gift selections and decoration ideas. To give you a jump start on your party planning, we’ve organized some this issue’s festive features into three fun holiday party ideas.
Organize a cookie swap with Food Network magazine’s 28 delectable holiday cookie recipes that are sure to please everyone. A few weeks prior to the party, invite 10-15 guests, and ask them to bring six dozen cookies from their favorite holiday cookie recipe. In your invitations, send a few recipes for inspiration, like these three recipes from this issue: chocolate sugar cookies, peanut butter brownie bites, and eggnog cutouts. To ensure each guest brings a different recipe, request email copies of their recipes. Once you have everyone’s recipe, print out enough for all guests to have a copy of each one. Make sure each guest brings a serving utensil and platter for their cookies, and then display the cookies on a large table with each cookie recipe stacked in front of the corresponding cookies. As a party favor, provide everyone with a holiday to-go container. Don’t forget to serve drinks—milk, cider, hot tea, and eggnog go best with cookies!
Throw a Christmas cocktail party—Food Network magazine has all the essentials you’ll need. Keep it simple by choosing cocktails that have the same base ingredient. In this issue, sparkling wine is the base for 10 cocktail recipes, with cheerful names such as Pear Tree, Ball Drop, and White Christmas. Put a spin on the traditional by setting up cocktail-making stations: provide the barware, ingredients, and recipes for three to five cocktails and let your guests create their own drinks. For the food menu, the magazine makes some delicious modifications to a couple of crowd favorites: shrimp cocktail and pigs in blankets. There are several sauce suggestions for the shrimp including chipotle, soy-ginger, mustard cream, champagne-shallot vinaigrette, and salsa verde. Guests may not recognize Pigs in Blankets with recipes like Reuben Pigs in Blankets, Mini Chorizo Corn Dogs, French Toast Pigs in Blankets, Pizza Pigs in Blankets, and Biscuit-Wrapped Fried Chicken.
Host a food lover gift swap! Food Network features 100 epicurean-themed gifts from $7 to $150. In the invitations, give guests a spending limit, and let them know what type of swap it will be. One of the most popular is a white elephant swap, which entails all guests drawing a number, and, either opening the gift that corresponds with their number, or stealing a gift that has already been opened by someone else. If they steal a gift, the person who had a gift stolen can choose a new gift or steal from someone else. A gift cannot be stolen more than three times, and the game ends when all packages are open and everyone has a gift. If that sounds too competitive, try a holiday trivia exchange: have everyone bring a wrapped gift; place answers to holiday questions on the gifts; read the questions, and the person giving the right answer gets the package with the answer on it. Another great way to swap is with musical gifts: using one or two gifts at a time, play holiday music, and when it stops, the person holding the gift gets to open it. Whatever exchange method you choose, be sure to serve food. Make it easy on yourself with some of Food Network magazine’s 50 no-bake treats!
Let Food Network magazine help you prepare for every culinary occasion. Subscribe now with EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services!
Posted Nov 27, 2013
Written by Rossi Morris
Black Friday is looming, which means the 2013 holiday shopping season will soon be in full force. Fortunately, shoppers can save time, money, and trouble with Consumer Reports magazine—now available through EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services. The December 13 issue provides recommendations useful to even the most seasoned shoppers. Consumer Reports tested hundreds of electronics, chose its top 10 picks, and categorized the rest into the type of consumer each product best fits (e.g., “the geek,” “the photographer,” and the “entertainment buff”). Gadgets include everything from smart phones, tablets, and computers, to televisions, cameras, and speakers. We’re highlighting Consumer Reports’ list of the 10 best electronic gifts and advice on how to stay safe when shopping.
Two TVs made the list: The top HD TV is the Sony Bravia XBR-55X900A, with lifelike picture quality and front speakers that provide optimal sound; deemed “Best TV Yet” is the Samsung OLED, which is has the best of both LCD and plasma technology and a hefty price tag of $9,000! Consumer Reports picked two smart phones: the Apple iPhone 5s has a fingerprint reader built into the home button that increases the phone’s security; the LG G2 boasts a 5.2-inch display and is outfitted with a more ergonomic design—the power and volume buttons on the back. Two cameras were chosen: the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 made the list as the smallest, lightest camera with all the bells and whistles of a larger camera; the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V is the slim, speedy camera with built-in Wi-Fi. With one of the highest-resolution 7-inch displays available on a tablet and free, 24-hour, onscreen tech support, it’s no surprise the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX made the list for best tablet. Consumer Reports claims that the TDK Life on Record is the best portable speaker, with excellent sound quality and Bluetooth capability. The Sonos Playbar makes the list for its ability to stream audio from a home entertainment unit or online-based music services. The best device for streaming online video to a TV is the Google Chromecast, and it’s very affordable at $35.
When shopping in stores, dangers can be easier to spot, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be caught off guard. According to Consumer Reports’ research, mall parking lots are where the majority of crimes happen. Be sure to park in a well-lit spot, and lock your car and close all windows before leaving it in the lot. Also, never leave valuables out in the open. Even a GPS or phone charger can lure a curious person to break into your car looking for the device. Multiple shopping bags can be cumbersome. While it is convenient to put bags in your trunk and return to the mall, always assume you are being watched. If you decide to store your bags in the trunk, just move your car to another lot, if possible. When you are walking in the parking lot, make sure to be aware of your surroundings by scanning the area, and always walk with focus and purpose.
Be a smarter shopper by staying up-to-date with the latest recommendations from Consumer Reports. Every subscription includes an annual Consumer Reports Buying Guide, which features the best and worst ratings for over 1,800 brand-name appliances, electronics, automobiles, and more. Contact EBSCO Reception Room Subscription Services to start your subscription today!