Friday, April 8, 2011

A Look at Yanni's "Truth of Touch"

I have rather eclectic taste in music. My listening choices range from jazz to hip hop to classic country. I'm as likely to listen to Jay-Z as I am to Ella.

So, when One2One Network offered me the chance to get a sneak peek at Yanni's new album, "Truth of Touch," I was definitely interested. I've never really listened to Yanni, and I was curious as to what it is that this new album has to offer.

The album is primarily contemporary instrumental. For those who aren't into that sort of sound, this album won't win you over. It's a decent album, but it isn't one that will make converts.

This is an album that seems best as background music. It is what to listen to when one is working or driving, but most of the pieces aren't for the foreground. One exception is "Can't Wait," which does have vocals; it is a sweet love song that would actually be good as a "first dance" at a wedding reception.

"O Luce Che Brilla Nell Obscurita" is another piece with vocals. Unfortunately, it feels a bit out-of-place on the album. It simply is too operatic in nature compared to some of the other pieces that feel more contemporary and--dare I say it?--youthful by comparison (not to knock opera, which I do somewhat enjoy).

Some of the pieces are great in telling a story solely through instrumental means. "Guilty Pleasure" and "Vertigo" are two that work well in that respect. Some of the other pieces may have actually benefited from some vocals. The long lag before the first vocal piece on this album may actually work against it, since not everyone has the patience for seven strictly instrumental pieces in a row.

Overall, though, this is a reasonably good album. I am glad that, in my capacity as a One2One Network member, I got a chance to review a free download of it. All opinions expressed are, of course, my own (as is true of all of my posts on this blog).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

StyleFind: What's the Bzz?

I've been a BzzAgent for a while and a clotheshorse for even longer. So, it was pretty much a given that I would be interested in StyleFind when I came across it in the BzzAgent Labs.

As I've mentioned before (see this and this article), I love this site. It is a fun and fresh site from the publishers of InStyle.

What are some of the deals that I'm hearting on the site?

1) Woman's short dress, Mark and James by Badgely Mischka. This cute little black dress has a pink belted waistline and is just $69 (originally $230).

2) Black Matte Belted Butterfly Dress, ABS by Allen Schwartz. Cute black matte jersey knit scoop neck dress. $79.99.

3)One Should Satin Dress, Carmen Marc Valvo. Sophisticated one-should satin dress. $966.

In addition to all of the great clothes, shoes, and accessories, there are also coupons and special deals for members of the site. This is all within an easy-to-use, aesthetically-pleasing format.

This is an appealing site. It is one that I now consider a favorite, and it is one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fashion.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Neil Gaiman's 'The Graveyard Book'

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman isn't new. In fact, it was first published in September, 2008.

I didn't just read the book recently, either. I read it at the beginning of last year after having come across it amongst the new books at a library.

Why, then, am I reviewing (actually, re-reviewing) this book? The answer is simple. I am certain that there are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and readers in general who have not yet read this charming book.

My mind turned to this book this morning as I lay in bed sick. The story is akin to comfort food. This is the literary equivalent of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mac 'n' cheese. At the same time, though, it is something wholly new--born in the mind of Neil Gaiman (who is probably best known for the strange and strangely charming Coraline).

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." Thus, begins Gaiman's tale of Nobody ("Bod") Owens--a little boy who's family is murdered by a mysterious knife-wielding man.

The toddler escapes such a fate, because he has wandered off from the house. He had slipped down the steps and out the open door. He finds his way to a nearby graveyard, and, there, he finds a new family. The residents of the graveyard adopt him, name him, give him the freedom of the graveyard, and raise him.

As I noted last year in a review that I'd posted on Gather, "Each chapter within the book is basically a short story in its own right. Woven together, they make for a delightful read as we follow 'Bod' through his childhood to young adulthood as he lives his life amongst the ghosts and others who are part of the graveyard landscape."

Although the book is considered a children's book, it really reaches far beyond that category. Like many a really good book, the story appeals to a wide age range and actually transcends the narrow categories that books tend to be put into.

While this tale is probably unlike any you've ever read before, it manages to be very familiar at the same time. This is a coming-of-age tale, a ghost tale, a mystery, and more all at the same time. It draws upon familiar themes such as familial love and the importance of community and puts them into a somewhat different setting (a graveyard). In the end, even with the threads of darkness that are part of the tale (starting with the brutal murders of three people), this is a comforting place to be.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning with Fellowes

Although many Northerners are still staring at mountains of snow, it isn't too early to start thinking about Spring cleaning. Many of us do it each year. It is a good way to shake off the winter and embrace the new season. It is a way to get rid of the old, unwanted and unneeded things and declutter our homes and our lives.

Part of the process of getting rid of unwanted things is, of course, clearing out old documents. While doing that, two piles should be created. One should be devoted to items you wish to save, while the other should be the "shred" pile.

One of the perks of being involved with One2One Network is being invited to participate in various projects. The most recent one is taking a look at the Fellowes P-12C Cross-Cut Shredder.

Shredding documents can be an important step in guarding against identity theft. Having a shredder helps to destroy confidential information into unidentifiable pieces.

I have been considering investing in a shredder, so I was especially interested in taking a look at the Fellowes P-12C Cross-Cut Shredder.

While I haven't purchased the shredder yet, there is a high likelihood that I will. I like the 12-sheet capacity, the fact that the basket holds four gallons (enough for our needs here), and that it has a slim profile that should fit easily under the desk. I also like the fact that it can shred paper, staples, credit cards, and paper clips. In terms of safety, it has patented SafeSense technology that stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening.

The shredder is moderately priced. At $84.99 (Target's price), it isn't exactly a steal; it isn't the most expensive shredder out there though, either.

Overall, the shredder looks good. It looks like it would make a great addition to a home office, and it would be a good tool in safeguarding confidential information.

While this blog post was written as part of a project for One2One and Fellowes, all opinions expressed within it are my own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SniqueAway: A New Way to Sneak Away

As a BzzAgent, I've had the opportunity to try different things. The latest is membership at the invitation-only travel site SniqueAway.

The site describes itself as "your accomplice for stunning escapes." SniqueAway is "a brand-new private sale travel experience" that offers its members "top brands and A-List accommodations at surprisingly affordable prices. There is no cost to join SniqueAway, but an invitation is required." The site says that limiting membership helps them to bring members "exclusive rates on the world's top hotels."

SniqueAway says that it counts on its members to tempt friends to indulge. Members get rewarded, too. For every invited friend who books an escape with the site, the member who extended the invitation gets a $25 credit.

Based on what I've seen on the site so far, there are definitely some good deals on some very tempting locales. For example, the site currently offers a good deal on Wedmore Place, which is a "country hotel at Williamsburg Winery."

Deals change on a regular basis. Each sale lasts up to seven days or until the offer sells out.

Unfortunately, such an escape won't be happening for a while here. However, this is definitely a site that I intend to use once finances and time allows. The site offers good deals on some fantastic escapes, and I intend to enjoy some of these one of these days (and tell my readers about it, of course).

For now, though, I can extend the invitation to the site to others so that they may sneak away using SniqueAway. Membership is free, and the getaways are fantastic. The site really is a great way to plan to sneak away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Alexia Roasted Red Potatoes with Italian Inspired Vegetables

Ever since I discovered products by Alexia Foods several years ago, the company has been one that I have trusted to produce good-tasting foods. When I saw that not only does the company have a Facebook page but was also giving away $1 off coupons to fans of its page, I, of course, became a fan.

The coupon was for any Alexia product, and I decided to try one of the products that I hadn't had before. The Roasted Red Potatoes with Italian Inspired Vegetables looked good, so I chose it. With the coupon, it was around $2 at WalMart (a store at which I rarely shop, but I happened to be there with someone else).

The product was easy to prepare. Simply thaw the oil packet in warm water; heat the oil in a skillet, and add the veggie mix. The package instructed that the mix should be cooked 8-10 minutes, but it did take a bit longer. It was still quick to prepare, though.

The package is supposed to contain three servings, but two servings would be a more realistic measure when being served to adults. That is especially so if this is being used as a main dish (as I did).

Overall, the mix had a good flavor. The basil oil worked well with it. I did, however, add a little bit of salt to my serving, but my boyfriend thought that the dish didn't need any more salt.

I would definitely recommend this and Alexia Foods' other products. I have yet to meet a product by the company that I haven't liked.