Slider by IWEBIX

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) – Easy Cooking Gadget for The Kitchen

I enjoy reading all the food blogs, especially Citymama who shares her yummy recipes and  Stephanie Odea who blogs about crock pot cooking. Recently we signed for organic fruit and vegetable delivery and started getting the kids involved with cooking. Luckily I love organizing the list and shopping while my husband likes leading my boys in family cooking sessions. One of my 9 year old twin boys has also declared he wants to be a cook when he grows up!

 

This morning my husband and 9 year old son made a crock pot lasagna that is slowly cooking away (making the house smell great) and waiting for it’s last coat of cheese.  When I posted a picture on Facebook of my 9 year old son preparing the lasagna this morning, one of my friends asked for the recipe. Because we used a really old slow cooker recipe book, I decided to find one online that is similar to the recipe we used. Stephanie O’Dea of “A Year Of Slow Cooking” has a recipe for super easy crock post lasagna that we will try next time. We like to cook vegetarian lasagna to mix in non-meat meals into our dinner schedule, using all types of vegetables including eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini and more.

 

Slow Cookers ( or Crock Pots as many call them) is a great cooking gadget that provides a simple way to get a hot meal on the table for busy families. The main benefit of a slow cooker/crock pot is the ability to throw in all the ingredients and then have it cook on it’s own without monitoring it. Some crock pots have features such as removable inserts, handles for carrying to pot lucks, timer to set a specific time to cook and a setting that turns the dish to warm after it is finished cooking.

 

My new slow cooker challenge will be to find one we can brown meat in – which will enable our famous Brisket recipe to be prepared fully in the crock pot instead of using a saute pan first to brown. During my research for a new slow cooker that browns meat in the same container,  I found information on Breville Slow Cooker with EasySeal that has a removable non-stick coated cast aluminum stove top insert. But I did not see any timer features (other then the low, high and auto) which I like to use to set to a specific time to cook.

 

Does anyone have any slow cooker recipes to share? Or does anyone have a recommendation for a slow cooker that also browns meat?

 

Gift Time =Time to Upgrade Tech: TV’s

Spending all year writing about technology leaves me little time to focus on my own household tech. My preference is to have home technology that is not only low maintenance but also high quality. Looking around the house, I realized that the fully functional 12 year-old family TV no longer remotely qualified as “top of the line”. Not to mention the glares my tween son’s friends gave me when they came over and realized we have a (shriek and face plant) TV with “tubes” in it.

 

 

 

So this holiday season I joined the world of high definition and purchased a new HDTV. Because our 12 year old TV Sony TV lasted so long and offered us a great viewing experience – I wanted to purchase another Sony television. At the local Sony Style store I reviewed the different models and received great information from the sales team. I also talked to friends of the family who are Home Electronic Concierges (Intuitive Environments). They sent me an article from PC Mag on how to buy an HDTV. If I were not a technology writer, I would have hired them because to help save money and time. But being a tech geek – I wanted to have the full experience of uprgading the TV on my own. I also checked CNET for reviews and Decide.com to get an idea of what price I should looking for.

 

The hard work paid off a week later when the TV I wanted went on sale so I bought it: 40″ Sony Bravia EX720 Edge LED backlit LCD HDTV (that includes 3D and is Wi-Fi ready). Other then a high quality HDTV, I was also looking for 3D capabilities (for future use), energy saving features, LED backlit for brightness and Wi-Fi ready to stream from the Internet (which the TV had).

I was extra excited to learn that instead of all the cables the old TV required…

 


I just needed one HDI cable from the TV to connect to my cable service box. Connecting to the Internet can be via Wi-Fi (because the TV is Wi-Fi ready) or direct cable.

 

 

Best of all – after we connected our new HDTV, one of the first shows we watched was a Discover Channel show with breath taking images of ancient ruins in Egypt and Europe. My twin 8 year olds are history buffs. After watching the show I realized upgrading to HDTV (and watching a show on a high definition channel) gives the viewer a feeling of actually “being there”.

 

Painful ( but worthwhile): months of reviewing different TV options to find what I wanted and waiting for the right price.

 

Priceless: Finding the right TV for the right price, realizing it was easy to install and then having a Sunday night trip to Ancient Egypt and Europe from my sofa sitting next to my kids.

 

Extra Benefit: Even thought it was not my top concern, it is really nice to have a TV that is cool with the tweens. Best yet – a new TV was the perfect holiday (birthday or any day) gift.

 

Next up: Hooking our new TV up to a Sony Playstation I am reviewing and looking into sound systems. I am also searching around to buy my 8 year old twins a new desktop. Luckily our household has the latest tablets, smartphones and family laptops. But there is nothing that can take the place of a great TV.

 

Fun at the Sony Photo Fun Mom Event And Using The Cyber-Shot WX9

 When I received the invite from Kimberley Clayton Blaine (TheGoToMom) and Sony Electronics to attend a day of photography and pampering I was excited to enjoy the event and see my fellow bloggers. But my tech obsessed side was looking forward to checking out the new Sony Cyber-Shot WX9. The Sony Photo Fun Mom Event inspiried me to get out of my “work at home” sweats off and get my fashion on. Or – at least – attempt to.

Here is a video from the Event:

Sony Photo Fun Mom Event from Kimberley Blaine on Vimeo.

 

The event gathered a fun group of bloggers together to enjoy San Diego, experience the Cybershot WX9 and get headshots from celebrity photographer Brian Smith.  Brian Smith’s project/book is called “Art and Soul” that has a goal to raise visibility and funding for the arts/art education.

 

While all the event pictures from the day were taken with our Sony Cybershot WX9 cameras, I wanted to also try out some of the special features. The WX-9 has 16.2 megapixels, easy to use HD option, 5x optical zoom, 3.0″ screen, Full HD 1080/60i video and “Exmor R” CMOS sensors and my favorite settings: 3D Sweep Panorama and soft skin setting.

Starting off the Sony Photo Fun Mom Event was a during the first night dinner at Anthology.

Jeannette Kaplun took this picture of (left to right) Heidi Leder, Michele McGraw, Rebecca Levy, Sheila Dowd and Glennia Campbell.  I was excited to see local San Diego bloggers Beth Avant, La Jolla Mom, Bizzie Mommy and Susan Kay Wyatt  from LA.

Glennia enjoyed using the “Sony Cybershot WX9′s Gourmet setting to take photos of food in low light with brilliant effect“. I found the WX9 not only easy to use out of the box, but the settings enable you to take fabulous pictures on the go (with a camera that fits in your back pocket if needed!). Here are a few pictures I took using the Sweep Panarama setting that allowed me to sweep the camera and capture more in one picture. The resulting picture can take a normal picture to the next level with more detail and perspective.

 

In the picture above, Jennifer Martin and the Sony Photo Fun Mom crew giving us a demo of the Sony Cybershot WX9.

 

The beautiful San Diego skyline at dinner.

 

The sweep panaromic picture above is one I took of downtown San Diego from our event the next day at the Hard Rock Hotel. This inspiried me to bring the Cybershot WX-9 on my family vacation and use the Sweep Panorama setting to capture all 10 cousins on bikes riding on a beach boardwalk. Capturing special moments like that are priceless, and now I can do it in one picture instead of many.
We also had a chance to look at accessories such as the Sony Partyshot (hands free photos) and digital photo frames.

 

It was great to see representatives from the Sony social media team including Sukhjit Ghag (picture between Kim and I).

 

Kimberley Clayton Blaine was also a great resource for learning even more about the Cybershot WX9. She showed me the Soft Skin setting – which is now one of my favorite settings.

 

Above is a picture of Kimberley Blaine and Jeannette Kaplun I took using the “soft skin” setting that highlights skin in just the right way. We all decided that we don’t want any more pictures taken of our face unless the soft skin setting was used.

 

This picture is of Sarah Auerswald and Kimberley Clayton Blaine – also using the soft skin setting on the Cybershot WX-9.

 

Jeanutte Kaplun and Heather from the Rookie Moms were the models for a shot Brian Smith helped us frame. He told us to look for unique landmarks to help frame a picture – and this sculpture did the trick.

 

We all had fun trying the different camera features.

 

Here I am with the fabulous  Liz Gumbinner, one of the founders (with Kristen Chase) of my favorite shopping sites Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. I am thrilled to be part of the Cool Mom Tech team, so I tried to find a good pose for a picture. I think Liz nailed it – but my pose needed work. Luckily we had Brian Smith Photo to help me and the other moms out with headshots.

 

Brian Smith used the Sony DSLR-A900 for our headshot pictures.

 

Kimberley Clayton Blaine and Britt Michaelian are getting their fashion on for their headshots:

 

The beautiful Sheila Dowd of the Clever Girls Collective had her celebrity pose on.

 

I tried my best to go from Geek to Model Chic (something that does not come naturally for me). Luckily Brian Smith and his wife Fazia (who is a fantastic stylist) helped me find a style and some poses that worked to create my new headshots.

 

Thanks to event host Kimberley Clayton Blaine, Sony and Brian Smith Photo for making this mama feel like a celebrity for a day.

 

I not only have celebrity headshots, but I also learned how to  make my friends look like a celebrity using the features on the Cybershot WX9!

 

Disclosure: Travel expenses to attend the Sony Photo Fun Mom event were covered by Sony. We were given a Cyber-Shot WX9 to capture our memories (and we enjoyed it!). This is not a paid post. As always, my words are my own.

 

First of April – My Favorite Things

Today is April 1st and here are my favorite links of the day:

Think Geek finally has a tee shirt about the computer overlords, edible gummy iPhone case, Angry Birds Pork Rinds and De-3D glasses. I know Cool Mom Tech agreed with the good finds at Think Geek.

Cool Mom Tech also covered Smart Starterz – learning language in the Womb (darn, why didn’t I do that?).

@JeffElder found a data dock that is also a toaster!

Finally – Google Motion (motion controlled email) is in beta and ready to goooo (as in jump around instead of typing).

And best yet, now my kids can pretend to wait in line at the Apple Store with the Playmobile Apple Store:

Happy April 1st!