I checked out http://www.GreatAmericanSeafoodCookOff.com and this year they’re once again holding a contest for the people’s choice, 2008 Great American Sea Food cook off. What does it take to be a winner? First they need to use either one of the 2 mystery ingredients – Southwest Airline Peanuts or select brews from Michelob Brewing Co. The dishes must also be healthy and easy to prepare.
This year, the final 5 participants are Colorado Striped Bass Panzanella, Pan Roasted Glazed Rockfish with Peas and Carrots, Mississippi Redfish Courtboullion with Seafood Dirty Rice, Texas Gulf Shrimp and Louisiana Shrimp and Andouille Cassoulet. These dishes are represented by Chef Paul Anders, Chef Tatari Campbell from Maryland, Chef John Currence, Chef Mark Holley and Chef Brian Landry.
Everyone who is legal resident of the US are invited to join and cast their votes for a chance to win a free trip to New Orleans. The deadline for casting the votes is until October 31,2008 and the grand winner would be announced on sometime mid November of this year.
As a Filipino foodie, I love rice dishes. This particular dish resembles a lot like traditional Filipino meals. It makes use of shrimp, redfish, crabmeat and vegetables, sauteed and simmered in tomato soup. I love shrimp, fish, crabmeat and okra!
Why dirty rice? Rice is sauteed in bacon, garlic, fish, shrimp, chicken liver and butter. Then simmered in fish stock and beer. I haven’t tried using beer in cooking. I’m also not a big fan of liver, so I think I’m gonna skip on that one. This dish really seems easy to cook and I wouldn’t mind trying it myself. Hmmm… maybe one of these days.
2. Scarves and muffs. Scarves are so cool because they come in bright colors and designs that bring life to a drab weather. Wrap it around your neck for that extra warmth and instant chic.
3. Boot it up. Boots are so sexy and they can make even the simplest outfit look elegant and classy. If you’re into skirts or skinny jeans, you can go with a pair of knee-length boots or go with sexy boots over a nice dress and a long jacket.
4. Skinny jeans. Skinny jeans are “in” this season. Pair it up with an oversized blouse, layered top, bolero or jacket. They’re perfect for rainy days because you won’t have to worry about stepping on it or catching mud on its edges. If your body type is heavy, choose jeans that are not too narrow on the bottom.
5. Don’t forget the umbrella. Just because you have to bring an umbrella doesn’t mean you’ll be ruining your look. Go for black or brown so you don’t have to worry about what outfit you’re wearing. Or be bold and bring a colored umbrella to add a splash of hue. It’s best to stay dry under the rain than to get soaked under the drizzles.
6. Put on the tights. Tights are perfect for rainy days or cold weathers. Match it with a dress or a skirt that’s just above the knees for the cute and sassy look. You can also match it with mary-janes for that cool school-girl preppy look.
7. Bag it. Oversized bags are great for cool weathers because you can just stuff everything inside and still be fashionable at the same time.
8. It’s all in the jacket. Blazers and jackets will carry your entire look so choose them well. Invest on a jacket with a great cut and made out of a high-quality material. Choose a fabric that hugs your body well, keeps you warm but is light at the same time. It’s great to invest on basic colors like black, brown and beige to match any outfit, but jackets with prints can also be wonderful additions to your wardrobe.
9. Play it with color. Cold weather and rainy season can bring you down. Remember, SAD or Seasonable Affective Disorder? Fight the blues by wearing happy colors that brighten up the mood like orange, pink, blue, red, blue, green and yellow.
10. Top it with a hat, beret or bonnet. Hats, berets and bonnets are not just chic and stylish, they also protect your head from the winds and the cold.
1. Necklace. The right necklace can make a plain blouse look chic and in style. Long wooden bead necklaces in bright colors can make a drab outfit look special. While a pearl necklace can turn a simple all-black dress into a classic.
2. Mufflers. Mufflers or wrap-around scarves are indispensable especially on cold seasons. They not only protect you from the cold, they also add color and style to your outfit.
3. Scarf. Scarves are really cool investments. They’re multipurpose and great for any kind of weather. Wear a scarf around your neck to spice up a corporate attire. Wrap it around your waist over skinny jeans and a simple, fitted blouse, or use it as a chic headband to keep your hair in place.
You can also tie it around the handle of a plain, oversized bag and voila!~ a unique, elegant bag to go with your outfit.
4. Bag. Bags are not just accessories, they’re functional too. It’s a good idea to save up and invest on a high-quality bag than settle for cheaper ones. Designer bags will last you a lifetime. If you have a limited budget, go for black, brown, and white in at least two different sizes.
5. Earrings. Yes, you can go bare without any accessories but earrings are a must. Invest on good pieces because they’re valuable collections. You’ll want to make sure you have ones in both yellow and white gold, and in at least three different styles- dangling, stud, and hoops.
6. Bracelets. Aside from gold, silver and metal bracelets, there are also beaded, crystal, wood and ceramic bracelets. Even if you’re only wearing a simple shirt and jeans, a set of complementary bracelets can make you look stylish. Best of all, you can find lots of different bracelets in all kinds of designs that are so cheap yet fabulous.
7. Belts. Large belts that are worn high are so in today. They go well with oversized blouses over a pair of shorts or jeans or with long or short dresses. Belts come in different sizes, colors and designs that can create a new look from an old outfit.
8. Eyewear. Shades are so cool and they protect you from the hot sun’s glare. Choose a shape that complements your face and you’ll certainly look hot in your outfit.
9. Wristwatch. A watch is not just an accessory. It helps you keep up with your schedules on time. Take the fullest advantage out of it by using a watch that will not spoil your outfit. It’s best to have a sports watch and a formal watch so you can wear one to the office and the other for malling or jogging.
10. Shoes. A pair of shoes can make a huge difference in your overall look. Basic pieces that you should have are stilettos, open-toe sandals, loafers, sneakers and boots. You can start investing on the basic hues –black, beige, brown- and buy a few pairs in colors once in a while. Don’t forget to invest on high-quality shoes so they can last.
Don’t look at the lens. Are you using flash? Make sure your subject isn’t looking directly at the lens as this can cause red-eye on the picture. Have them face the camera without staring at the lens.
Check the settings of your digicam. Digital cameras are equipped with different functions that you can use to capture the best quality photos. Make sure that you read the manual on how to adjust the settings or get some advice from a professional. Some digicams have built-in Red eye solutions and night-mode functions that you should know how to use.
Give Yourself a Make-over. The great thing about digital photos is that you can easily fix-up red eyes, whiten teeth, or erase that pimple on your nose. You can do this using Photoshop’s eyedropper button, the smudge, and the healing brush in just a few easy strokes.
Check the resolution. What is a good resolution for your picture? It really depends on how big or small you plan to print your photos.
For wallet-sized pics, 640-480 pixels or less would do, but for bigger photos that you want to frame, you’ll want a much higher resolution. At least 1600 x 1200 pixels is needed for an 8”x10” picture frame.
Use digital photo frames. Digital photo frames are one of the hottest picks in the market today. Digital frames are ideal for storing your pictures and displaying them at the same time. The quality of the photos is preserved and you can even view them as a slide show.
Back-up copies. Don’t risk losing those precious moments just because your hard-disk failed. Make sure you have back-up copies of the photos you want to keep especially if you haven’t yet printed them.
Save your pics using the right extension. Jpeg or .jpg files are recommended for sending out your pics online but if you want to print them, it’s best to save it in TIFF format or .tiff for more clarity on the actual prints.
Organize. As you upload more photos to your computer, make it easier for you to find them by putting them in folders with appropriate labels. Rename your photos with recognizable file names instead of leaving them with just the numbers.
Print them from a photo shop. If you want to print a couple of pictures, you can save more if you have them printed from your nearest printer service instead of printing them on your own.
Own a laptop? Here’s my top ten must-have laptop accessory picks:
USB Mouse. I personally put the USB mouse on top of my list because I’m not comfortable using the trackpad. If you use your laptop for work, a mouse is definitely a must-have for quicker and convenient navigation.
USB Hub. Laptops have limited USB slots so you may need a USB hub to plug & play all your devices- webcam, printer, scanner, etc.
External Hard Drive. Keep your important files safe at all times. Back up your files in an external hard drive and place it in a safe storage. Don’t pack your external hard drive with your laptop just in case either one gets lost.
Wi-fi Card. If your laptop doesn’t have wireless capabilities, enhance it by adding a Wi-fi Card. You’ll need it if you want to use your laptop in internet cafés to get online.
Headset. Don’t forget to bring your own headset to enjoy your laptop to the fullest wherever you are.
USB Flash Drive. A USB drive is indispensable when moving your files from a laptop to a desktop or when using someone else’s PC.
A Cat5 Ethernet Cable and a Telephone cable. Bringing your own cable is important when you’re always on the road. Don’t waste your time asking the hotel for cable provisions. With your own cables, you can get online from your hotel room at any time.
Port Replicator.A port replicator is where you can plug all your peripherals like your printer in your working station. It’s great for switching from one computer to another. If you want to connect it to your laptop, you can do so without hassle. When it’s time to disconnect it, just unplug from your laptop and you’re ready to go.
The Case. For your convenience and the safety of your gadgets, invest on a high-quality laptop case that’s easy to carry around.
Security Device. There are a couple of security devices you can choose from the market. Whichever you prefer, make sure it provides adequate protection against theft.
1. Charging everything to your credit card. You run the risk of paying additional charges (High Interest Rates and Penalty Fees) each time you charge to credit. Also, it’s more tempting to spend when you shop with a credit card.
2. Spending more than what you can afford. When you have cash, it’s too easy to find ways to spend it. Before buying anything, ask yourself, “do I really need this or do I just want it?”
3. Not following a monthly budget plan. If you’re really serious about making some changes in your finances, create a budget plan suitable to your situation.
4. Not saving money. Do you set aside a portion of your monthly income for emergencies? If not, it is most likely that you’ll be spending every cent of your earnings on other things without something for the rainy days. Aside from building up your savings account,you should have a separate personal fund easily within reach for emergencies.
5. Buying expensive gifts. When giving gifts, most of us have the tendency to spend lavishly. Realize that you don’t need to be extravagant just to make someone feel special. Be creative. There are a hundred ways to make someone feel happy and loved without spending a fortune.
6. Not cutting-back on costs. Some people overlook small savings. Ask yourself, do you try to cut back on your electricity bills? Is it possible for you to subscribe to a lower cable plan? Are you paying too much on your long distance calls? Do you always eat out? How much do you spend on your personal luxuries? Find practical ways to minimize your monthly expenses.
7. Spending too much on bargains. Just because an item’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Everyone is prone to buying on impulse when they see an item sold at a discount. But no matter how cheap you think it is, if it’s not in your plan to buy it then it’s not a necessity. Don’t buy it.
8. Not comparing prices. Shoppers have the tendency to grab the first offer. However, merchants sell the same items at different prices. If you don’t compare shops, chances are you might be buying something at a more expensive price. Don’t be on the rush. Shop around and compare.
9. Not asking for a better deal. Do you purchase without even negotiating? The retailer is most likely to give up the item at a lower price, if you only ask for it. Don’t be afraid to haggle. There’s really nothing to lose if you ask for a discount.
10. Not recognizing the problem. Some people may think that they’re effectively managing their finances. But taking an objective look at your spending habits and lifestyle can make a big difference. When you realize that there is a problem, be determined to make changes.
*What’s your worst budgeting habit?
What’s your personal tip on smart shopping?