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15 The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices by Lior Lev Sercarz | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 20th, 2017 No comments

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15 The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices by Lior Lev Sercarz

15 The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices by Lior Lev Sercarz | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** This book is available from the LA Public Library in print and ebook format

There comes a time in every cook’s life when you start to move beyond simply following recipes and begin to experiment more and more within those recipes. After that, more advanced cooks will reach for the next level — the graduate level, if you will. It is books like The Spice Companion that become part of your graduate food studies. Instead of dealing in the generalities of a specific cuisine or specific dishes, you go into the details of specific ingredients in your food. You dive deeper into more and more detailed levels of knowledge, so that, at the end, you emerge with a deeper understanding of how those ingredients come together in a recipe. With this deep knowledge, you can begin to create our own unique recipes.

The Spice Companion begins with some extensive and excellent information on the author’s personal spice philosophy, the history and origin of various spices, and how to source, blend and store spices. At its heart, though, The Spice Companion is an amazing reference book for spices of all types. A few random flips through the largest part of the book turned up spices I knew — like cinnamon and cloves — spices I had heard of but never used — like za’atar and wasabi — and spices entirely unknown to me — like Urda chiles and Sansho.

The detailed spice sections are amazing in their depth and include a photo and/or drawing of each spice, a description of its flavor and aroma, it’s geographic origin, its harvest season, which parts of the plant are used — like leaves, stems, seed pods, etc –, and an extensive About section that provides even more information about typical uses and dishes that can be made with the spice.

The author then uses a graphical icon-based system to show which dishes might use this spice, other spices that can be paired with it, recipes for spice blends with this ingredient and finally, a recipe that uses this spice blend. Wow! It is almost overwhelming.

There is so much information to be found within the pages of The Spice Companion. I can foresee reading in a random fashion, jumping from one spice to another, but also then revisiting it later for a full cover-to-cover read to deeply enhance my spice, blends and overall food knowledge. This is a book that should find a place alongside your regular collection of cookbooks to offer more specific information on spices while also giving your great ideas on how recipes might be “dressed up” or enhanced by the use of alternative spices

This is a book that should find a place alongside your regular collection of cookbooks to offer more specific information on spices while also giving your great ideas on how recipes might be “dressed up” or enhanced by the use of alternative spices. It is the equivalent of a writer having a great dictionary or encyclopedia at hand when they work. There are times when you simply NEED to look something up and The Spice Companion would be a great place to turn.

Categories: Books, Cooking, Food, Gift Guide Tags:

14 Garden Arbor | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 19th, 2017 No comments

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14 Garden Arbor

From Douglas…

We have been meaning to get a trellis for the Lady Bank’s Rose in the front garden for a long time, but it wasn’t growing very fast and we concentrated on other, more important tasks. That all changed this Winter and Spring, though. With the large amount of rain we had — along with the removal of a short fence that was blocking the sun — the rose added a lot of vigorous growth and bloomed quite nicely, even for a relatively small plant. You can see from the photos that it was big enough to cover most of the side of the trellis after we trimmed and tied the main stake to the newly built arbor. 

We need to do a bit more staking to prevent any blow down during our windy days and you can see an ugly remaining fence post that we need to cut off as best we can. it is set in cement and littered with nails so I need to find a clear path through so I can use the hand saw to cut it down as low as possible.

Looking out the window after cleaning up from out work, Rosanne said “It looks like it has always been there” and indeed it does. it blends in well, while also adding a nice decorative touch.

If you are looking for an arbor for your garden, this “Athens” model is all vinyl and no maintenance, something I had to have when I went looking.

Assembly was easy and required nothing more than a power screwdriver to drive the self-tapping screws. I look forward to it being here for many years to come.


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

13 Electric Kettles | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 18th, 2017 No comments

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13 Electric Kettles

From Douglas…

My wife gave up coffee several years ago. She started using an old stovetop kettle we had and then we had a coffee maker with a hot water dispenser, but after visiting the UK last August, I was reminded again how useful and convenient an electric tea kettle is for morning beverages and several other reasons. Once we returned, I was finally able to convince her to pick one up at the local discount store and I am glad we did. Along with heating water for tea, the kettle is great for jump starting pasta water and other cooking and also for cleaning around the house. I especially love that it has an automatic shut-off, which guarantees we never boil a kettle dry again. 

Learn more about Tea with these books 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out
!
† These books are available at the LA Public Library
 

12 Show Your Work by Auston Leon | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 17th, 2017 No comments

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12 Show Your Work by Auston Leon

 Do It 2017! #: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered [Book]

My reading copy of this book came from the Los Angeles Public Library in eBook format

Reading Show Your Work was like listening to my own frequent talks on career topics. Much is exactly the same message I have preached to people for years. That is, the only way to get your work noticed is to share it as widely as possible. Music must be heard. Art must be seen. Writing must be read. Otherwise, it is a wasted effort. Share, Share, Share One message I share deeply with the author is the utmost importance of sharing your work via blogs and social media. As the author puts it, “It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” If your work can’t be discovered, stumbled upon, ran into, seen in passing, found in a Google Search, etc, you are severely limiting the exposure and discovery of your work. I don’t frequently use the word “MUST”, but I will on this occasion. You MUST make your creativity discoverable, through social media or other methods, or it simply doesn’t exist. Of course, you can ignore this if you are only creating for yourself, but most who create want their work to be seen, to be cherished, to be sold, to be understood, to be an important impact on the world. Don’t let your work languish. As the Bible says, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.”

While your at it, check out Kleon’s other book, Steal Like An Artist (see my previous blog post on this book). I think you’ll find it enjoyable and greatly useful, too. What do you have to share? What should you be showing off to your friends, family and the world? 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

11 Nintendo Switch | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 16th, 2017 No comments

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11 Nintendo Switch

 

This is the latest gaming console from Nintendo. If you have people who eat, sleep and drink Mario and Zelda in your household, this is next gaming console for you — and it’s portable, too. Games currently available for the Switch include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey.

11 Nintendo Switch | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Introducing Nintendo Switch, the new home video game system from Nintendo. In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system can be taken on the go so players can enjoy a full home console experience anytime, anywhere. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system, with unprecedented new play styles brought to life by the two new Joy-Con controllers.

PLAY ANYWHERE

Home Gaming System

At home the main unit rests in the Nintendo Switch dock, which connects the system to the TV and lets you play with family and friends in the comfort of your living room.

On-the-Go

Lift Nintendo Switch from the dock and instantly transition to handheld mode for on-the-go gaming. By sharing Joy-Con, players can go head-to-head while away from home. You can also enjoy the same great games in tabletop mode by using the included stand to prop the system up.

New Play Styles

Remove the detachable Joy-Con from either side of Nintendo Switch for more play styles:

One player can use a Joy-Con in each hand
Two players can each take one
Multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options (additional Joy-Con sold separately)

Slip a set of Joy-Con into a Joy-Con grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Bring together up to 8 Nintendo Switch systems for local face-to-face multiplayer.

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Categories: Electronics, Fun, Gaming, Gift Guide, Products Tags:

10 Do the Work by Steven Pressfield | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 15th, 2017 No comments

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10 Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

I have read — and re-read — and would highly recommend you do the same. In fact, I am thinking that I will make it (and Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art) required reading before I will work with any client. Both books have helped me tremendously in my life and work. We all have to start somewhere on our creative adventures and Pressfield’s books are like an experienced guide that can help to lead us through the creative forest. Revisiting them on a regular basis reenergizes me to face the fight that all creatives feel.

Of course, creativity isn’t just the domain of some specialized class of people. We are all creative in unique ways and we all experience the haunting voice of resistance, as Pressfield names the monster that frightens all of us away from big, transformative changes in our lives. Pressfield reminds us of the nature of this beast and gives us the tools we need to defeat it — again and again.

In my work, I meet so many people who don’t realize their own potential. They drastically underestimate their power to change their lives and change the world. They face the resistance dragon and allow it to eat them nearly every time instead of emerging, triumphant, like St. George. It is often my goal to give them the tools — the horse, the lance, the sword — to help them slay the dragon of resistance just as I have to fight against it everyday. Sometimes I can bring them along with me — at other times, not, but I will never stop trying.

So, to repeat my unasked for advice — get these books, read them and then start on your own creative adventure. You can overcome resistance and create something new, something unique and something great!

The War of Art is also available from Amazon and your local public library. Add it to your creative toolbox today!

 

Do the workWar of art

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

09 Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 14th, 2017 No comments

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While I was intrigued by the Amazon Echo, I couldn’t really make a case for buying one. That said, when a friend offered me their Echo Dot, which they didn’t want, I quickly jumped for it. I had been wanting to play around with the technology and see what it could do.

So far, for me, the Echo Dot has been used for listening to music from Pandora.com, providing weather and commute traffic info for my wife and sun each morning, game playing with Jeopardy, Lie Swatter, Sing Quiz and Screen Test Movie Quote Quiz and it also interferes with the Etekcity switches and Hook I mentioned earlier in the Gift Guide. I have been very happy with my Dot and, knowing what I know now, I probably would spend my own money to get one — perhaps to expand Alexa into other parts of the home.

The new Echo Plus looks neat due to its added capabilities as a smart home hub for many available systems.

09 Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot

Echo plusEchoEcho dot

You can save a few dollars if you want to buy a couple of Echo units or by buying factory refurbished units.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

08 The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 13th, 2017 No comments

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08 The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden by Johanna Silver (Author), Marion Brenner (Photographer)

If you truly want to know and understand a garden, you need to walk the garden with the owner, the creator, the designer or the head gardener. They can show and tell you small things that you might not notice on your own or explain grand themes and plans which are only subtly visible in the garden but underpin everything. Books like The Bold Dry Garden are the next best thing to walking the paths with the owners and hearing the stories of how the garden was created, how this plant or the other was acquired, the grand successes and dismal failures. You get a sense for all these in The Bold Dry Garden. The author and photographer seek to make the garden accessible to anyone no matter where they might be in the world. Even though I only live 5-6 hours drive from the Ruth Bancroft Garden I had not heard of it and, of course, have never visited. This book has changed that th0ugh. Now I am intimately familiar with creator Ruth Bancroft’s history, the evolving garden design and even particular specimen plants included in the garden.

The Bold Dry Garden begins with “Meet Ruth”. This recounts Ruth’s early history from her childhood to the point where, at age 63, after most of the surrounding farmland had been sold off for subdivisions, she started to build the garden. From this start in 1971, the garden grew and changed until it became part of the Garden Conservancy in 1991. This addition helped to preserve and maintain the gardens for generations to come. The bulk of The Bold Dry Garden is the section entitled “Signature Plants of the Dry Garden.” Here you find detailed accounts and photos of many of the plants in the garden including agaves and aloes, echeveria and sempervivum, euphorbium and crassula. This is a veritable encyclopedia for succulents lovers and an excellent reference book, as well as one to simply read from cover to cover as if you were walking through the garden itself. The descriptions and photographs can give you both interesting ideas and detailed information for seeing how these plants might fit into your own garden.

Now that I have read The Bold Dry Garden, I plan on visiting the next time I am in Northern California. In fact, I will probably go out of my way to visit, even if I am just passing through. A garden like The Ruth Bancroft Garden is always a treat to visit and my appetite has been whet with this amazing, written and photographed, introduction.


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† This book is available at the LA Public LIbrary

07 Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch and Hook Automation Hub | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 12th, 2017 No comments

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07 Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch and Hook Automation Hubhook-hub

I added these RF remote-control switches to our house a few months ago and been very happy with my choice. They install easily, work well even between rooms with many walls separating them and helped me clean up a lot of clutter that had sort of grown organically in the family room. We had several light switches that were connected, replaced, moved, and hard to access, but these outlets provide a handy remote interface to everything now. You can even connect these outlets to your network and use your phone or Amazon Echo to control them, if you add a wifi-to-rf bridge to the network. That might just be the next step for me.

In fact, using the Hook device below, I can now control any of these outlets via my voice through my Echo Dot, via my iPhone using the Hook app, programmatically via IFTTT or programs I have written myself. Very cool and very useful — Douglas

Etekcity switchesHook hub

 

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

06 The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien  | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 11th, 2017 No comments

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06 The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien

After visiting the Weta Workshop in New Zealand last August, and inspecting all their artifacts, props and tools used to make the epic movies, I realized that it was time — now 21 years after the first movie — to re-read the novels once again. My well-worn paperbacks still sit on my shelf. Some were first purchased as a textbook for a high school English class. After reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I immediately purchased the other two volumes and devoured them. After that, I usually re-read them once a year or so, until the films brought the stories to life on-screen. Here is a lovely hardbound, one volume editions that you can curl up with on long Winter nights and revel in the joy of reading and the wonders of an amazing story. — Douglas

06 The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien  | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 201706 The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien  | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Categories: Books, Gift Guide, Movie Tags:
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