Sunday, December 21, 2014

Take your Kindle on the road with you with a Mobile Wifi HotSpot

Last month, a group of bloggers got together at the Techlicious & TravelingMom Holiday Roadshow to share some technology and traveling tips.  We had a wonderful lunch and I walked away with a Kindle Fire HD and an AT&T Unite for GoPhone  by NetGear Wi-Fi mobile hotspot. While each of them is pretty cool in their own, they're like the Wonder Twins - combined they're pretty powerful.

The Kindle Fire HD 7" is a pretty nice starter tablet. It's got a beautiful screen and a fast responsive processor. Battery life is pretty nice, lasting a day off use, making it great for trips. Mashable rates the Kindle Fire (albeit a larger size) a good one to get this holiday season.  This is my first table and I'm excited to leverage the larger than a phone form factor.

I'm truly interested in using it like a tablet, leveraging the larger screen for taking notes, looking at pictures in beautiful HD, and reading recipes while cooking. It's great for those things that work on your phone, but work better on a larger screen. This post was even drafted on my Kindle.

There are plenty of apps available through Amazon's App Store. Many software makers even keep the Kindle version up to date with their Android versions!  Skype works nicely with the front facing camera to keep me connected, though I don't travel as much as I used to.  I miss Instagram and the Google apps, though older versions can be sideloaded.

But what the Kindle excels at is connecting you to Amazon library of movies, books, music and their store. With a Amazon Prime Account it's so easy to quickly find and start watching a movie. And they can even be downloaded to watch when you don't have Wi-Fi, like on an airplane (don't be that guy with the $1,171 Wi-Fi bill).

Coupled with a AT&T Unite for GoPhone  by NetGear Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, using AT&T's fast 4G LTE (where available) network, you can connect your Wi-Gi only Kindle (or up to 10 other devices) to the internet.

This is great when traveling on a road-trip or, in my case, when the public Wi-Fi at the pool
just doesn't cut it.  You can have your own trusted network anywhere you are and not have to worry about anybody snooping your connection or if there will be Wi-Fi where you're going.  You don't have to type long emails on your little phone keyboard, you can fire up your laptop and use the full size keyboard from anywhere!

And because its through GoPhone, you don't have to sign up for a new subscription. You buy the device from AT&T or other retailers and then add a pre-paid plan. I've been using the $25 for 1.5GB of data in a month and that's been getting me through the multi-day swim meets that end the short course swimming season.

The new Kindle also comes with a 2 year anything goes warranty, when coupled with a Nerf-like case make this the kind of device you can share with your kids. It's got multiple user accounts so you can share it with your family and everybody keeps their own place in their books. With the Free Time Unlimited, kids are provided kid appropriate books, games and videos and the parent has control of how long they can play games and how much reading must they do before hand.

Note: I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive some cool swag, including the Kindle and the Mobile Hotspot and a really awesome lunch. All the content is my own honest opinion.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bourbon and Clove Cider Cocktail [Recipe]

Over the years, I've developed a taste for whisky.  I've figured out where my tastes lie in Scotch (The McCallan from the Scottish Highlands) but I've also had to more closely manage my budget.  There has been a re-birth of whiskey in the United States and I've begun to explore different bourbons.  Some of them are quite good and a great price point too.

This fall, I was at a social gathering sponsored by Farmstr, a local Seattle start up connecting farmers and consumers. You can buy a flat of brussels sprouts or an organic, free-range chicken directly from the farmer and pick it up at a convenient Seattle location.

At this gathering of food bloggers, there was a delightful cider punch. It wasn't cloyingly sweet and there was a delicate hint of cloves and you could feel the warmth of the alcohol trailing on your throat. It was a very nice, subtle way to enjoy the flavors of fall and winter.

I asked the chef for the recipe (cider, bourbon and homemade clove bitters) but didn't get the ratios. And on top of that, I'm not quite cool enough to have clove bitters nor have I gotten into making bitters, but my browser search history was full of "how to make bitters" searches.

While it doesn't seem too hard to make bitters, I decided to experiment and see if I could make a similar libation with ingredients around the house.

I started by infusing some apple cider with cloves and reduced it a bit, because I was side tracked by a family card game.  Then, I tried adding some bourbon until I found a nice balance of sweetness. While I made it as a drink for one, this could easily be served as a punch as it was at the Farmstr party.

So, I've noticed something else about drinking bourbon. I don't drink very much, maybe one alcoholic drink a week, but everytime I've had a bourbon drink with a particular brand of bourbon, I just cannot sleep. Its almost like when you have a strong coffee too late in the day and it keeps you awake. I've not noticed this with all bourbon brands and never with any other alcohol. Does this happen to anyone else?

Bourbon and Clove Cider Cocktail

  • Apple Cider, 1 cup  (I used filtered because that was all my son could find when he was on the grocery run)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • Bourbon

  1. Infuse the cider with the cloves. Break the cloves in half and add to the cider in a pot on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for approximately 10 minutes or reduced to about 3/4 cup. More reducing will bring out the sweetness of the apples and the cloves.
  2. Filter the infused cider and cool. Or do it in the opposite order. Store it in a closed container in the fridge, maybe a mason jar for some extra hipster points.
  3. When you're ready for a drink, pour 3 shots of clove infused cider and 1 shot of bourbon in an old fashioned glass and enjoy.  I didn't add ice because the cider was cool from the fridge and I prefer my dark alcohol drinks neat.