Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Make Your Picnic or Brunch Sparkle

Make Your Picnic or Brunch Sparkle - If you're in the process of preparing a magnificent spring brunch for a family get-together or a even a picnic under a tree, every edible detail has probably been thought out to perfection.
That is, every detail except the beverage.
A perfect gathering cannot have an ordinary drink. Tea and soda simply will not do. So, why not try one of the most versatile wines you can drink with a wide variety of foods? A sparkling wine will do the trick.
Sparkling wine's crisp, clean texture allows it to pair with a surprisingly wide range of foods. Try it with quiche lorraine, pizza, seafood, brie, artichoke and cheese dip and even spicy Asian foods. It's also great with fresh berries and fruit desserts.
Oftentimes people do not realize the only difference between sparkling wine and champagne is simply where the grapes are grown and produced. Champagne is made from grapes from the Champagne region of France, while sparkling wines are grown and produced outside the region.
The best Champagne and sparkling wines are made by methode champenoise, which requires a second fermentation inside the bottle. This secondary fermentation produces the delicate bubbles in the bottle, making the wine sparkle.
So, what can a person do to make their picnic or brunch even more extraordinary? Try these simple and creative sparkling wine cocktails by Domaine Ste. Michelle, a sparkling wine from the state of Washington, made in the traditional methode champenoise style.
French kiss. Chill a narrow tube glass. Drop in a sugar cube, and coat with a splash of Chambord. Fill with Domaine Ste. Michelle, and add a slice of lemon for garnish.
Sparkling cosmo. Combine Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut and cranberry juice in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.
Brutini. A martini glass is the perfect shape for this. Start with Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, and add a splash of Melon Liqueur. Give it a squeeze of fresh orange, and garnish with a slice of fresh strawberry.
Sparkle punch. If you are having a larger party, try the Sparkle Punch. Combine one-half cup pineapple juice, half a cup of lemon juice, one-third cup Triple Sec, one cup brandy and one-third cup Grenadine, and mix well. Then add one 750 ml bottle of white wine and two 750 ml bottles of your favorite Domaine Ste. Michelle sparkling wine.
For more information and tips on sparkling wine, visit

Roses at the Rose Parade Treated to Filtered Water

Roses at the Rose Parade Treated to Filtered Water - It's a stunning display of natural beauty that takes place annually to celebrate the paradise that is California -; the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

It's internationally televised New Year's Day Rose Parade celebration features more than 40 magnificent floats decorated with thousands of roses, plants, fruits, vegetables and exotic flowers.

Jacob Maarse Florist in Pasadena, Calif., the preferred florist of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, provides many of the roses that grace the floats in the Rose Parade -; an event that garners the attention of more than 150 million viewers worldwide. And since roses, like every other living organism, need clean water to thrive, the florists at Jacob Maarse Florist decided to research the best water for their roses.

They tested cut flowers in three types of water including: LifeSource water, city tap water and tap water with floral preservatives. When asked about the test, Hank Maarse, president of Jacob Maarse Florist said, "We've been testing the LifeSource water system in our Pasadena floral shop since March 2006, and we found that cut flowers keep their vibrant color better and last three to four days longer when kept in the fresh, filtered water."

Additionally, Phoenix Decorating Company, a float builder for the Rose Parade since 1956, has LifeSource water systems installed in float decorating facilities, flower tents and flower-prep areas. The filtered water keeps the flowers used in the decorating process, and those in vials of water on the floats, fresh and vibrant. Chris Lofthouse, president of Phoenix Decorating said, "Their water makes flowers not only grow better, but also helps them last longer."

Why does filtered water make such a difference? Water free of chlorine and chloramines gives flowers the boost they need to better withstand the sun and heat they endure during the two-day event. From their original unveiling during the parade to the special up-close viewings that follow the parade, the flowers remain softer and retain more moisture, just like our own skin, when treated to chlorine-free water.

For more information about tap-based, water filtration, visit

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Student Cultivates Peace Around The World

Student Cultivates Peace Around The World - An international art contest celebrating children's visions of peace capped off its 20th year by recognizing a teenager from Malaysia as the grand prize winner.

The grand prize winner of this year's Lions International Peace Poster Contest is Ming Yang Soong, a 13-year-old boy from Bidor, Malaysia. His poster, selected from 350,000 entries from 81 countries, portrays the theme "Peace Around the World." As the grand prize winner, Soong receives a trip to New York City for a special award ceremony during Lions Day with the United Nations.

"All nations must work together to keep this world peaceful," Soong said. "If there is peace in the world, we can progress and live in harmony. I hope that all countries on this planet will support peace."

During the past two decades more than four million children, ages 11 to 13, have artistically shared their visions for peace through the Lions International Peace Poster Contest. Lions Clubs sponsor the contest in schools and organized youth programs. The contest provides an outlet for children and adults to discuss the meaning of world peace while visually portraying their feelings. Now entering its 21st year, the contest has been held in more than 100 countries.

"Today the world is divided into pieces by hatred, terrorism and war," said Kajol Chetan Bid, a merit award winner from India. "Together we can make this world a better place to live in - a world full of love and peace."

Winners have come from all across the globe, many from areas where children do not know peace.

"Peace is a gift to live and to let others live it," said Feliccina Sioufi of Lebanon, a merit award winner.

Lions Clubs International President Mahendra Amarasuriya said, "Lions in many nations have embraced the Peace Poster Contest as a hands-on way to promote peace and to support the young people in their communities. It is another way Lions have accepted the challenge to change the world."

The 24 finalists' peace posters will be exhibited during the year at children's museums and various locations throughout the United States. Visit to view posters and send e-cards.

Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with nearly 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in 202 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions Clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired while making a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

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Speak Out About Cancer with Your Art

Speak Out About Cancer with Your Art - As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But for Anne Wilson of Morganton, N.C., a photograph that she took of her late daughter Katherine contains enough inspiration to tell a story with an infinite word count.

The photo moved family and friends so much that Wilson entered the picture into the 2006 "Lilly Oncology on Canvas" art competition -; and went on to win first place in the United States. The art competition, started in 2004 by Eli Lilly and Company, honors the journeys that many face when confronted with a cancer diagnosis.

"When we launched 'Oncology on Canvas,' we hoped to create a forum where those affected by cancer could express their hopes and fears," said Dr. Richard Gaynor, vice president of cancer research for Lilly.

First diagnosed with lung cancer at age 23, Katherine -; a non-smoker -; began a long road of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Five years later and after six recurrences, she succumbed to her disease. In Wilson's photograph, titled "This is Not a Dress Rehearsal," a smiling Katherine and her father playfully remove their hats to display their bald heads -; Katherine's from her cancer treatments and her father's a result of his sympathetic shaving.

"Katherine's cancer diagnosis changed our family in unexpected ways," said Wilson. "From the earliest days, Katherine proved that she would not let this disease negatively impact the rest of her life. The photograph shows how much she believed that -; even in those days after first learning about her diagnosis."

Throughout her battle with cancer, Wilson said that her daughter continued making the best of every moment -; traveling around the world with friends and family, speaking at a cancer center and even graduating from nursing school just a few months before her passing. After receiving her first-place award, Wilson accepted a $10,000 donation to the cancer charity of her choice, the hospital where her daughter was treated, the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The 2008 competition, which is open to all U.S. and Puerto Rico residents, is currently looking for entries in the form of oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, photography, pastels and mixed media. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2008.

For more information on how to enter the 2008 "Lilly Oncology on Canvas" competition and to receive a participant pack, call 800-734-4131 or visit

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Buying a New Home? Ask About its HVAC System

Buying a New Home? Ask About its HVAC System - Summer is peak buying time for the sale of both new and existing homes. However, when purchasing a home, prospective buyers often forget to ask about the home's heating and cooling (HVAC) system.

With heating and cooling costs accounting for nearly half of all home energy usage, it's important to do some research regarding a home's HVAC system before making an offer. Following are some tips that can help buyers of new and existing homes ensure that a home's heating and cooling system will perform efficiently.

- New home construction. Production home builders typically offer a few select brands of furnace and air conditioner systems. Ask the builder about the brand and model number that will be installed in your newly built home and its fuel efficiency.

It may be worth upgrading to a higher-efficiency system. A certified contractor can help you calculate the potential savings of a high-efficiency unit. For example, by selecting an Infinity 19 heat pump by Carrier, a homeowner can save up to 40 percent on annual heating and cooling costs.

Custom builders generally provide extensive flexibility when it comes to selecting a furnace or air conditioner. An especially popular trend is hybrid heat technology that allows the system to automatically choose the most efficient fuel source given certain conditions and alternate between fuel sources as conditions change. The Hybrid Heat Dual Fuel system by Carrier is so energy-efficient that the cost to heat is less than with any gas furnace.

- Existing homes. Don't rely on the home inspector to audit a home's HVAC system. A qualified contractor can inspect the home and identify areas that might not be energy-efficient. He or she also will be able to provide insight into the system's efficiency and whether you may want to consider negotiating a system upgrade in your purchase offer. For example, beginning in 2010, manufacturers will no longer be permitted to produce units that use R-22 (Freon) refrigerant; so, you should ask whether a system is Puron-refrigerant compatible.

Ask the seller for copies of utility bills to estimate what energy costs might be. And finally, check with local utility companies to find out if they offer any energy-savings programs.

These tips are brought to you by Carrier. For additional information on home heating and cooling systems visit and click on the "home" button.

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