Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The stars at night are big and bright
Dark December nights make for the best star viewing deep in the heart of Texas. I finally understood constellations in just one night, thanks to “The Night Sky,” a glow-in-the-dark guide you take outside to help you find the sparkle in the sky. Power it up with your flashlight, then head out to view Orion, Canis Major and Andromeda. I’ve had lots of overworked guides that have just confused me, but this one is simple and just right. I’ll be flipping it over in no time for the summer sky view. Waterford Pocket Guides open a new world of science, nature, travel and language.

“Firsts: Origins of Everyday Things That Changed the World”
By Wilson Casey
Instant coffee may have been around since 1771, but Nestle produced Coffee-Mate, the first nondairy instant creamer, in 1961. Have a cup while you ponder other tidbits from this conversation-starter of a book:
• Leonardo da Vinci described and sketched the first ideas for contact lenses in 1508.
• Ancient Egyptians used henna to darken gray hair, nails and lips.
• A Chinese treatment of gum disease in 2700 B.C.E. suggested rinsing the mouth with urine.

“Personal Finance for Dummies”
By Eric Tyson
Overdrawn from the holidays?
“This book has some great tips,” my test reader told me. “There’s tips throughout the book, which make it easy to read.”
Icons point out issues of concern. Here’s some quick tips:
Use your credit card only for convenience, not for carrying debt.
Don’t buy consumer items with credit — like cars, clothes, vacations — that lose value over time.
Invest at least 5 to 10 percent of your income for retirement.
Research before you buy, especially when it comes to investments.

Libations for a toast
This New Year’s, pair potatoes with Maine blueberries. You get Cold River Vodka in flavors your guests will remember. It’s got a cool 3-D bottle that you could transform into some sort of snow globe if you were crafty, like people tend to get after New Year’s parties. Please drink responsibly.
Sobieski Truth Serum is a festive-looking drink made with Poland’s No. 1 premium vodka and cranberry tea. Cytron and vanilla are the company’s two new flavors, made with Dankowski Rye with natural vanilla and citrus flavor, which I recently tried all by themselves. It was as refreshing as our recent snow. Sobieski makers are proud of a brand that’s authentic and affordable and I’d have never thought of this recipe using the “original” flavor:
Green Concept
Sobieski Vodka
Triple Sec (Marie Brizard)
Cucumber wheels
Fresh lime juice
Lemon-lime soda
Muddle cucumber slices with lime juice in an old-fashioned glass. Add ice, vodka, triple sec and top with soda.

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