Breezy Readers

Celebs & Hollywood


Catch up on the Latest Buzz from Hollywood

Facts & Trivia


We've got Questions, and the answers to everything you didn't need to know!



We take a look at the most popular movies in the theater and at home.



Turn heads in your own home  with stories on decorating, cleaning tips, antiques and more. 



Open your mind and be guided by the stars for both the serious, and not so serious minds.



Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.

Celebs & Hollywood



By Dana Jackson

Q: Why are Heidi Klum and Mel B not going to serve as judges on "America's Got Talent" anymore? Is NBC just rotating hosts temporarily like "The Voice" did, or are my favorites replaced for good? -- M.J.

A: Yes, it's true that Klum and Mel B won't be judges for "AGT" next season, but NBC hasn't clarified whether they're closing the studio doors to them indefinitely. Perhaps Klum and Mel B asked for a break, but either way, taking their place at the table with the remaining judges, Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel, will be Gabrielle Union ("L.A.'s Finest") and Julianne Hough ("Dancing With the Stars").

NBC also is swapping out the role of host, with Terry Crews taking over from Tyra Banks. The former NFL player turned actor ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine") was a natural as host of the recent "America's Got Talent: The Champions" edition.

There have actually been several rotations of judges and presenters since "AGT" debuted in 2006. In its first season, Regis Philbin made the introductions while David Hasselhoff, Brandy Norwood and Piers Morgan were the trio of judges. None other than Jerry Springer took over for Philbin in seasons two and three, and then Nick Cannon was the presenter for the longest stint. Singer Brandy and Sharon Osbourne came before Klum and Howard Stern before Cowell.


Q: I've heard that Kim Kardashian suffers from a skin condition, but to me her skin always looks clear. Is it just airbrushing? -- W.P.

A: Kim Kardashian West recently posted photos on Instagram of herself without makeup and also of her bare legs, which were covered with red, scaly patches. She explained that it was her psoriasis flaring up and that her mother, Kris, had the same autoimmune condition.

Kardashian West praised the effects of phototherapy, or light therapy, in alleviating some of it, but that she was still frustrated it hadn't completely disappeared. She's also tried various topical treatments, but mentioned that she might have to begin an oral medication if it doesn't clear up soon.

According to an article by Good Housekeeping magazine, there are several celebrities who have talked publicly about their psoriasis over the years, including singers Cyndi Lauper and Art Garfunkel, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and fashion model Cara Delevingne. 


Q: Is the original "Law & Order" still making new episodes? Also, whatever happened to the actress who played prosecutor Claire Kincaid? -- R.T.

A: The original "Law & Order" premiered in 1990 and spent 20 years on the air before ending its run in 2010. The spinoff "Law & Order: SVU" is in its 20th year as well, having debuted in 1999.

Jill Hennessy played young assistant D.A. Claire Kincaid for three years before her character died in a motor vehicle crash. Hennessy then went on to star in "Crossing Jordan," which ran for six seasons on NBC. Her next project is another crime drama, "City on a Hill," which is set in Boston and also will star Kevin Bacon. It airs on Showtime starting this June. 

Send me your questions at


By Tony Rizzo

HOLLYWOOD -- Angelina Jolie is not afraid of "Those Who Wish Me Dead," because she's just signed for the chase thriller, which takes place during a wildfire in Montana. She's currently shooting the fantasy drama "Come Away," based on the classic novels "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan." Neither she nor co-star David Oyelowo play Alice or Peter Pan. The story is about siblings trying to help their parents overcome the death of their eldest son. Angelina has completed "Maleficent 2" (the original "Maleficent" took in $758 million), but the sequel won't be released until May 2020 because of the special effects needed to complete the film.


"Saturday Night Live's" Pete Davidson may have ended his relationship with singer Ariana Grande, but the spotlight it put on him supercharged his film career. He's second billed after Jon Cryer in the comedy "Big Time Adolescence," which screened last month at Sundance, and he appears in "What Men Want," with Taraji P. Henson (which opened Feb 8). Now Judd Apatow has announced he's building a comedy around Pete, due in June 2020. The last film Apatow built was a "Trainwreck" for Amy Schumer, grossing $140 million.

Ryan Reynolds is following his $770 million superhero hit "Deadpool 2" with the comedy "Shotgun Wedding," about a destination wedding that gets hijacked by criminals, and with the Netflix action film "Six Underground," with Ben Hardy and Dave Franco, out later this year.

Jake Gyllenhaal is hoping his just released "Velvet Buzzsaw," with Rene Russo and Toni Collette, does better than his last film, "The Sisters Brothers" ($38 million cost/only a $10.3 million gross). But a sure thing will be "Spider-Man: Far From Home," with Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya and Cobie Smulders (out July 5). "Spider-Man: Homecoming" grossed $880 million in 2017.


Fans of "Saved by the Bell" are more than responsible for making the 30-year-old show's teen hangout, "Saved by the Max," a huge hit. The malt shop opened in Hollywood last June and was supposed to close in six months and move to another city, but instead, plans now are afoot to transform a section of the diner into the Malibu Beach Club (run by Leah Remini's character on the show) for fans' additional enjoyment. It will feature a variety of inspired cocktails and several new food items by the diner's executive chef, Brian Fisher. There is a catch though ... getting a reservation for dinner is nearly impossible because of the long wait list of dedicated "Saved by the Bell" fanatics. It's rumored that some of the show's stars -- Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley and Leah Remini -- have been known to drop in unannounced ... those preppies never had any reservations!

Facts & Trivia



By Fifi Rodriguez


1. MEDICAL: What is the condition that carries the official name "diaphoresis"?

2. MOVIES: Who played the president in the film "The American President" (1995)?

3. HISTORY: What was the nickname of the Haitian president Francois Duvalier, who died in 1971?

4. U.S. PRESIDENTS: How many future presidents of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence?

5. TELEVISION: Who was the nemesis of Detective Steve McGarrett in the original "Hawaii 5-O" TV drama?

6. SCIENCE: What is the name of the ocean current that warms the eastern seaboard of North America?

7. LITERATURE: What was the name of the bank in the "Harry Potter" book series?

8. ANATOMY: Where is the pinna in the human body?

9. U.S. STATES: Which state is nicknamed the "Cornhusker State"?

10. GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: What is the common commercial name of the drug called diazepam?


1. Sweating

2. Michael Douglas

3. Papa Doc

4. Two: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

5. Wo Fat

6. The Gulf Stream

7. Gringotts Wizarding Bank

8. The outer ear, which is made of cartilage

9. Nebraska

10. Valium


by Wilson Casey


1. Is the book of Pharisee in the Old or New Testament or neither?

2. In Matthew 21, to what type of tree did Jesus say, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever"? Cedar, Oak, Apple, Fig

3. From 2 Corinthians 6, what did Paul warn Christians about being "yoked" with? Debt, Unbelievers, Shame, Abundance

4. In biblical times, what was a tambourine or small hand drum called?

Timbrel, Cornet, Tartu, Cymbal

5. How many days and nights was Jonah in the belly of the great fish? 2, 3, 5, 8 

6. Who was the father of Michal? David, Titus, Saul, Stephen


ANSWERS: 1) Neither; 2) Fig; 3) Unbelievers; 4) Timbrel; 5) 3; 6) Saul

Comments? More Trivia? Visit


By Mick Harper


1. Who wrote and released the No. 1 hit "Fallin' in Love"?

2. Who originally released "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely"?

3. Which Beatle wrote and recorded "Teardrops"?

4. Who released the rock song "Pretending" in 1989?

5. Name the song that contains this lyric: "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."


1. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, in 1975. In 2010 rapper Drake was sued for copyright infringement for sampling the song without permission in his "Best I Ever Had." Apparently, Drake has been sued a number of times for borrowing lyrics or, in one case, an artist's voice.

2. Ronnie Dyson, in 1973. His recording peaked at No. 60. The Main Ingredient followed with a cover version in 1974 that charted in the top 10.

3. George Harrison in 1981 on his "Somewhere in England" album. The record company initially rejected the album, insisting that four songs be rewritten due to lack of commercial potential.

4. Eric Clapton.

5. "Joy to the World," by Three Dog Night in 1971. Composer Hoyt Axton had his melody first and needed lyrics, any lyrics, to let his producer hear the music. He sang the first line as "Jeremiah was a prophet." That was ditched because no one liked it. With "bullfrog," the song went to No. 1.


by Samantha Weaver


* It was French-German physician, philosopher and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer who made the following sage observation: "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."

* You might be surprised to learn that famed lover and heartbreaker Casanova eventually became a librarian.

* In parts of Illinois, it was once illegal to put a cake in a cookie jar.

* If you've ever yelled out a warning in panic -- "Stop!," "Run!," "Don't!" -- you've used a monepic sentence; that is, one that is complete with just a single word. Of course, at the time you probably weren't concerned about the grammatical nature of your utterance.

* If you're like the hypothetical average person, your mouth will create 10,000 gallons of saliva over the course of your lifetime.

* It's been reported that the country's first pizza parlor was in New York City -- naturally. It opened in 1885, but barely got by. In 1895, it was sold for a mere $200 -- small change even in those times. 

* The bearded vulture is the only known animal whose diet is made up almost exclusively of bone. 

* It's a well-worn trope that men refuse to stop and ask for directions when they're lost. That point of view might seem to be supported by the results of a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association, which found that just 34 percent of male drivers admit to stopping to ask for directions. However, the same survey found that only 37 percent of women did the same.


Thought for the Day: "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -- Jiddu Krishnamurti


The History Channel


* On March 6, 1475, Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, is born in Caprese. His most important early work was the Pieta (1498), a traditional type of devotional sculpture that showed the body of Christ in the lap of the Virgin Mary.

* On March 5, 1815, Franz Anton Mesmer, a German physician who pioneered the medical field of hypnotic therapy, dies in obscurity in Meersburg, Swabia (now Germany). His process of mesmerism, as it came to be known, produced hypnotic states that had an extraordinary influence on his patients' physical illnesses.

* On March 4, 1888, Knute Rockne is born in Voss, Norway. He would go on to become one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football, coaching Notre Dame during their golden era in the 1920s. Rockne won three national championships with the Fighting Irish.

* On March 10, 1945, 300 American bombers continue to drop almost 2,000 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo for a second day. The attack destroyed large portions of the Japanese capital and killed 100,000 civilians.

* On March 8, 1950, Volkswagen, maker of the Beetle automobile, expands its product offerings to include a microbus. The bus was a favorite mode of transportation for hippies in the U.S. during the 1960s and became an icon of the American counterculture movement.

* On March 7, 1972, in the biggest air battle in Southeast Asia in three years, U.S. jets battle five North Vietnamese MiGs and shoot one down 170 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone. 

* On March 9, 1985, the first-ever Adopt-a-Highway sign is erected in Texas. Highway 69 was adopted by the Tyler Civitan Club, which committed to picking up trash along a 2-mile stretch of the road. The program eventually spread across the U.S.


By Chris Richcreek


1. Which major-league team was the first to win championships in three different divisions?

2. In 1955, a rookie pitcher led each league in strikeouts for the season. Name either pitcher.

3. Name the last non-SEC team before Troy in 2017 to beat the Tigers in LSU's Tiger Stadium.

4. In 2018, Philadelphia's Markelle Fultz became the youngest player (19 years, 317 days) in NBA history to record a triple-double. Who had been the youngest?

5. Who was the first player in NHL history to have at least 50 assists in 10 consecutive seasons?

6. What was the last NASCAR race won by Dale Earnhardt?

7. How many times has tennis great Roger Federer finished a season in the top three of the ATP rankings?


1. Houston won division titles in the N.L. West, N.L. Central and A.L. West. 

2. Cleveland's Herb Score (245 strikeouts) and Sam Jones of the Chicago Cubs (198).

3. UAB, in 2000.

4. Lonzo Ball (20 years, 15 days) of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017.

5. St. Louis' Bernie Federko (1978-79 through 1987-88 seasons).

6. He won the Winston 500 at Talladega in 2000.

7. Fourteen.

Movies & TV



Best Original Song

Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson - SHALLOW

Performance by an actor in a leading role nominees:


Performance by an actor in a supporting role nominees:

Mahershala Ali in GREEN BOOK 

Performance by an actress in a leading role nominees:

Olivia Colman in THE FAVOURITE 

Performance by an actress in a supporting role nominees:


Best animated feature film of the year nominees:


Best motion picture of the year nominees:


Family: How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World (PG)

What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic adventure spanning their lives. Welcome to the most astonishing chapter of one of the most beloved animated franchises in film history: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. 

Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together—to the very ends of the Earth—to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.

Teens: Isn't It Romantic? (PG-13)

Natalie is a New York architect who works hard to get noticed at her job, but is more likely to deliver coffee and bagels than design the city's next skyscraper. Things go from bad to weird when she gets knocked unconscious during a subway mugging and magically wakes up to find herself in an alternate universe. Always cynical about love, Natalie's worst nightmare soon comes true when she suddenly discovers that she's playing the leading lady in a real-life romantic comedy. 

Adults: Greta (R)

Frances finds a handbag on the New York subway and promptly returns it to Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and classical music. Having recently lost her mother, young Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely and kindly widow who enjoys her company. But when Greta's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before things spirals out of control. 


By Amy Anderson


"A Star Is Born" (R) -- A successful musician in a downward spiral collides with a disheartened but not defeated raw talent. The love is real, but is it enough? Jack (Bradley Cooper) meets Aly (Lady Gaga) at a dive bar where she waits tables and sometimes performs, and after some conversation, he coaxes her onto his own stage, the big stage, where her stardom is ignited. As Aly rises, Jack descends into his addictions and dysfunctions. The love story between these two -- and the emotional performance from both actors -- will touch your heart. If it never won any of the many awards for which it's nominated, it would still stand as the timelessly crafted love story that it is.

"Robin Hood" (PG-13) -- Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) returns disillusioned from the Crusades with an Arab named John (Jamie Foxx) who trains him to elude capture while stealing the wealth of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), who is funding both sides of the Crusades in a power grab. You'll have to forgive me if I'm still mad about this one -- it had such great potential, but the arrow really missed the mark. It's indecisive about its tone (is this the Robin Hood legend or some weird updated reimagining?) and the powerhouse cast is underused, ill-used or abusive (Foxx confuses volume for an exotic accent).

"Overlord" (R) -- A team of paratroopers is sent in ahead of the D-Day invasion to take out a German radio tower that is located within a garrisoned church. With the help of local resident Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) they discover that inside hides a Nazi lab, where the experiments are off the deep end. The soldiers, including fresh meat trooper Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and veteran leader Ford (Wyatt Russell), must fight for their lives against the hypernatural and decide which target to go after: the radio tower or the rabid science experiments. Director Julius Avery does a commendable job, seamlessly blending war story and outright horror -- it's G.I. Joe meets B-movie bloodfest, with plenty of action for both genres scattered consistently throughout.

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" (R) -- Melissa McCarthy plays biographer Lee Israel in a biographical dramedy based on Israel's own accounts. When her latest book flops, Israel begins to liquidate her personal possessions -- including a personal letter from Katharine Hepburn -- to make a buck. She finds out that personal effects with more revealing scripts drive up the price, and decides she's not above zhuzhing up a letter or two (or many) from deceased personalities in order to get paid. Her escapades, escalating to include her dealer friend Jack (Richard E. Grant), and eventual unmasking are as entertaining and interesting as the tidbits Israel added to her wares.


"Miracle Workers" Season 1

"American Chopper" Season 8

"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

"Lonesome Dove" Miniseries



1. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (PG) animated

2. What Men Want (R) Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Ledlow

3. Cold Pursuit (R) Liam Neeson, Laura Dern

4. The Upside (PG-13) Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston

5. Glass (PG-13) James McAvoy, Bruce Willis

6. The Prodigy (R) Taylor Schilling, Brittany Allen

7. Green Book (PG-13) Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali

8. Aquaman (PG-13) Jason Momoa, Amber Heard

9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PG) animated

10. Miss Bala (PG-13) Gina Rodriguez, Thomas Dekker




BY Terry and Kim Kovel

Namesake Furniture


Famous politicians, generous donors, entertainment and sports stars, and military heroes are honored by having their names on statues, buildings, bridges, streets, parks and even rooms. But famous furniture designers and architects are more often given lasting fame when a chair, desk or style is given their name. Some names used today are hundreds of years old. There is the American Hitchcock chair, a painted wooden chair with a curved top, carved back slats and legs that are continuations of the back's uprights. It was named for Lambert Hitchcock (1795-1852). Even older is Chippendale furniture, named for Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779), an English cabinetmaker who published a book that pictured his designs. Some collectors of early photographs buy daguerreotypes without knowing they are named for Louis Daguerre (1787-1851), who, in about 1839, invented the first photographic pictures.

A 20th-century reproduction of a Carlton House desk sold recently at a Cowan auction for $660. The original desk looked like a table with a horseshoe-shaped top section made to fit on top of the table. It was ordered by the Prince of Wales in about 1783 and designed by George Hepplewhite. The desk, named for a favored palace, was a gift for a member of the Prince's entourage living at Carlton House, a London palace that was demolished in 1825 after the Prince became King George IV. The building was replaced with Carlton House terrace. An early 19th-century Carlton House desk sells today for $6,000 to $10,000.


Q: I looked at many Hall teapots online and have been unable to find a teapot like mine. It's an Airflow, black with a gold spout, and what looks like a gold Chinese design. The number is 0450S, and it says it's 8-cup. Is this a knockoff? 

A: From 1938 through 1941, the Hall China Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, produced whimsical teapots in unique shapes that are sought after by collectors today. The Airflow teapot was one of these. It was first released in 1940, and its round shape and swooping handle hint of the beginning of Atomic Age design. The Airflow, like other Hall teapots, was made in many colors and sold either plain or decorated. Some, like yours, had Hall's Standard Gold trim. In 1984, Hall reintroduced the Airflow and some other teapots. The reproduction teapots have the company's post-1969 square mark. Your 8-cup Airflow teapot looks like it is from the 1940s. It is worth about $40.



Pitcher, New Martinsville, Heart in Sand, water, gilt spout, 8 inches, $10.

Hood ornament, Ford, flying quail, 3 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches, $240.

Arita jar, lid, blue, scholars, immortals, landscape, reclining figure finial, white, Japan, 8 1/2 inches, $380.

WWI poster, Join, Army Air Service, bald eagle, mid-air strike, orange, c. 1917, 26 3/4 x 20 inches, $1,110.


TIP: Never clean an iron cooking utensil with soap. Wipe it with paper towels, wash it in hot water with a plastic bristle brush, and dry well.

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit


By Donna Erickson

A Boost of Sunny Fun for a Wintry Day


The length of daylight is starting to feel a wee bit longer, kites are flying here and there, but cloudy and cold, stormy day weather forecasts are a reminder that spring isn't quite in our grasp. 

Here are some sunshine-themed ideas to boost your mood during remaining wintry, and sometimes gloomy days.

Breakfast Sunny-side Up

On a large sheet of white paper, draw suns and happy faces all over the surface with a yellow marker or crayon. Use it for a place mat at breakfast. Fry eggs sunny-side up and serve in the middle of slices of toast. On a separate plate, enjoy the sunny taste of cut-out sections of a juicy grapefruit. Or, make tasty tropical smoothies in seconds with a combination of frozen mango and pineapple chunks, and fresh banana. 

Make a Sunshine Greeting

Your preschooler's handprints are the rays of the sun in this poster greeting to share with a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

In the center of a large sheet of heavy white construction paper, glue a round, 6-inch diameter piece of yellow paper for the sun (a small salad plate makes a handy pattern). 

Squeeze some bright yellow acrylic paint on a paper plate and dilute with a few drops of water. Stir. 

Place your child's hand (palm down) in the paint and guide the painted hand to the white paper. With the palm near the center circle and fingers and thumb going outward to represent the rays of the sun, press lightly to create a handprint. Continue making six more handprints equidistant from each other around the "sun." Let dry.

Add details for a face on the sun with a dark marker, if you wish.

For a kind greeting, print "You Are My Sunshine!" or "I hope you have a Sunny Day!" on the bottom, along with your child's name. 

Happy Flowers

Use acrylic paints or paint pens to draw a sun on the outside of an empty, clear jar with the label removed. Let dry. Fill it with fresh, yellow daffodils, daisies or tulips from your market and tie a ribbon around the rim. Give it to your neighbors to make their day sunny, too.

Follow the Sun

At bedtime, check the weather online or in the newspaper to find out what time the sun will rise tomorrow. 


Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."


Strawberry Sodas


This tasty treat is ready in just 10 minutes.

1 1/2 cups milk

1 package (10 ounces) frozen sliced strawberries, partially thawed

1 pint strawberry ice cream

1 (16-ounce) club soda or strawberry soft drink, chilled

1. In a covered blender container at high speed, blend milk and strawberries 15 seconds; pour into five 12-ounce glasses.

2. Add a scoop of strawberry ice cream to each; slowly add soda or soft drink to fill almost to the top. Serves 5.

* Each serving: About 203 calories, 7g total fat (5g saturated), 26mg cholesterol, 77mg sodium, 32g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 4g protein.

For thousands of triple-tested recipes, visit our Web site at

Easy Plum Crumble


The kids can get hands-on with this cinnamon-scented dessert recipe. Let them blend the crumble topping with their fingers until the mixture reaches the right consistency.

2 1/2 pounds plums, each pitted and cut into 8 wedges

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

1. Heat oven to 400 F. In a shallow 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish, toss plums with lemon juice. In a cup, mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar; toss with plums until evenly coated.

2. In a medium bowl, mix remaining 1/3 cup sugar with oats, flour and cinnamon. With fingertips, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle oat topping over plum mixture.

3. Bake crumble 25 to 30 minutes or until plums are tender and topping is lightly browned. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes to serve warm, or cool completely to serve later. Reheat if desired. Makes 6 servings.

* Each serving: About 340 calories, 10g total fat (5g saturated), 22mg cholesterol, 95mg sodium, 63g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 4g protein.

For thousands of triple-tested recipes, visit our Web site at


By JoAnn Derson


* Corral kids' books in a traveling library by repurposing an old wagon. All you need to do is store the books spine side up for easy selection. This also makes it a snap to move it to just the right place to encourage reading, whether it's the garden path or a blanket fort. If you don't have a wagon to repurpose, installing some caster wheels on the bottom of a crate works, too.

* Replace mascara frequently. But if you need to freshen a tube of dry mascara, just add a few drops of contact solution to the brush and bottle. 

* "Use mismatched socks as wiper blade covers when you are expecting inclement weather. It will keep your wipers from freezing to your windshield, and if they get all yucky, you can just pitch them." -- N.G. in Ohio

* Make doctor's appointments on or near a major holiday every year. That way you don't end up forgetting when your last annual exam or dental cleaning was.

* If you seriously need to remove a color polish from your nails, but ran out of remover, try this trick: Paint the nail generously with clear polish, then use a dry cotton ball to swipe it off. Repeat as needed.


* "This tip is for gardeners who live in areas that don't often freeze. I'm safe most of the year, but when temperatures do dip, I cover my vulnerable plants. In addition to the freeze cloth, I also add a string of twinkle lights, which can add a surprisingly margin of heat. And they look pretty as well." -- M.M. in Georgia

Send your tips to Now Here's a Tip, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.


By Angela Shelf Medearis

February Is National Sweet Potato Month


Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite tubers, and what better time to celebrate them than National Sweet Potato Awareness Month. I must admit, though, I didn't become a real fan until I found out all of the health benefits and the delicious ways to use this colorful tuber. The sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports good vision, the immune system and bone growth. It's also a good source of vitamin B-6, magnesium and vitamin C. And it's great for the complexion. High in fiber and low in fat and calories, this root vegetable is a healthful alternative to snack foods when prepared without added butter, sugar or salt.

Unlike other potatoes, sweet potatoes like long, hot growing seasons. This might explain why it is the state vegetable of North Carolina. 

There is a difference between sweet potatoes grown in northern states and those grown in Louisiana. Sweet potatoes produced in the north are mostly "firm" and tend to be drier, more mealy and yellow in flesh. Folks in Louisiana enjoy the second type, "soft," which is higher in natural sugar. Louisiana sweet potatoes are moister and have a bright orange flesh color. Most often, it is the "soft" type that's referred to as a yam. 

Sweet potatoes are stored in temperature and humidity-controlled warehouses that extend their shelf life for the entire year. So, the "season" for fresh yams is 12 months. Canned yams also are available year-round.

Here's some great information about the health benefits of sweet potatoes and how to select, store and prepare them:

* Orange, leafy green, and red fruits and veggies such sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene/vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover (replacing old cells with new ones) so your skin's surface is smooth.

* The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranks the sweet potato at 184 in nutritional value, more than 100 points ahead of the baked Idaho potato, spinach or broccoli.

* Sweet potatoes provide twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and more than one-third of the daily requirements of vitamin C.

* Sweet potatoes are an important source of beta-carotene, vitamin B-6, iron, potassium and fiber. Sweet potatoes that are a pretty, bright orange color are richest in beta-carotene.

* Studies have consistently shown that a high intake of beta carotene-rich vegetables and fruits, like sweet potatoes, can significantly reduce the risks for certain types of cancer.

* Sweet potatoes contain virtually no fat or sodium.

* When selecting fresh sweet potatoes, choose those that are smooth, plump, dry and clean. 

* Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated unless cooked. Store at 55 to 65 degrees F.

* Always use a stainless-steel knife when cutting a sweet potato. A carbon blade will cause them to darken.

* One cup of canned sweet potatoes equals one medium-sized, cooked fresh sweet potato.

* When using canned yams, add them at the end of the recipe because they are already pre-cooked.

This recipe for Vietnamese Sweet Potato and Pork Soup showcases the flavors of the sweet potato in a spicy, coconut milk broth.


1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound ground pork

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

1 (3-inch) piece lemongrass or zest of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, if desired, chopped

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1 quart chicken stock

1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, basil or jalapeno pepper slices

1. In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork, onion, 2 tablespoons basil, lemongrass or lemon zest, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, cumin, cardamom, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until pork is browned and onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the sweet potatoes, chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover, remove lemongrass (if used) and stir in the soy sauce. Garnish with remaining cilantro, basil and jalapeno, if desired. Serves 4.


Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.


By Healthy Exchanges

Sensational Chicken Soup


There is nothing more comforting than a great bowl of soup on a cold winter's night. 

2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth

1/4 cup water

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 scant cup uncooked noodles

1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) diced cooked chicken breast

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a large saucepan, combine chicken broth, water, carrots and celery. Bring mixture to a boil.

2. Stir in uncooked noodles, chicken, parsley flakes and black pepper. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables and noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Serves 4.

TIP: If you don't have leftovers, purchase a chunk of cooked chicken breast from your local deli.

* Each serving equals: 179 calories, 3g fat, 23g protein, 15g carbs, 498mg sodium, 34mg calcium, 2g fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Meat, 1 Vegetable, 1 Starch; Carb Choices: 1.




ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Your efforts in behalf of a colleague do not go unnoticed, let alone unappreciated. Meanwhile, arrange to spend more time investigating that troubling fact you recently uncovered.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) Devoting a lot of time to a current career move means having less time for those in your private life. But once you explain the circumstances, they should understand and be supportive.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Organizing your many duties in order of importance should help you get through them pretty quickly. Additional information puts that still-to-be-made decision in a new light.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) Lingering bad feelings over a recent misunderstanding should fade as reconciliation efforts continue. Meanwhile, vacation plans might need to be revised because of new developments.

LEO (July 23 to August 22) Love dominates the Lion's heart this week, with Cupid shooting arrows at single Leos and Leonas looking for romance. Partnered pairs also enjoy strengthened relationships.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) "Getting to Know You" should be the single Virgo's theme song as you and that special person discover more about one another. That workplace situation needs looking into.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) You might be upset at having your objectivity questioned in the handling of a dispute. But it would be wise to re-examine your feelings to make sure you're being fair with both sides.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) A family dispute creates mixed feelings about how you hope it will be ultimately resolved. Best advice: Stay out of it and let the involved parties work it through by themselves.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) Making an effort to smooth over even the smallest obstacles now will go a long way to assuring that things run smoothly once you're set to move on with your plans.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) A challenge to your authority can be upsetting, but your longtime supporters want you to defend your position so you can win over even your most adamant detractors.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) Being unable to get involved in a friend's problem calls for an honest approach. Provide explanations, not excuses. Another friend might be able to offer support for your decision.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20) You find yourself swimming in circles, looking for some way to get back on a straight course. But things get easier once you're able to refocus your energies.

BORN THIS WEEK: You're known for your charm and your wisdom, and there's no one who wouldn't want you to be part of his or her life.

Fizbit McManus' Not-So Serious Premonitions (Good Luck/Bad Luck)

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) 

Good Luck: You’ll win the Lottery!

Bad Luck: It’ll be $1 on a $5 Scratch Off

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) 

Good Luck: You’ll find a great new restaurant in the city that has open reservations at dinner

Bad Luck: The only flavor you’ll remember from their house special is food poisoning. 

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) 

Good Luck: You’ll finally get that big internship with the prestigious company in town. 

Bad Luck: Your internship is unpaid, and your office is in the former building six counties away. 

CANCER (June 21 to July 22) 

Good Luck: You are caller number 11 and win an all expenses paid vacation to a lakeside villa

Bad Luck: It’s in Gary, Indiana and your travel options are all in January. 

LEO (July 23 to August 22) 

Good Luck: You see a penny and pick it up.

Bad Luck: Penny is a 6’4” competitive weight lifter from Estonia who has relationship issues.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) 

Good Luck: You find the perfect pair of jeans that show off your curvy features in just the right way.

Bad Luck: They’re from the senior living department

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) 

Good Luck: You find a wallet with $100 in it, and you return it to it’s owner

Bad Luck: The owner is the town mobster who said there used to be $500 in it. 

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) 

Good Luck: You get your weekly allowance paid in full on the weekend!

Bad Luck: Your parents pay it to you as the collection plate reaches your row at church.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) 

Good Luck: The school is closed for a snow day on a Wednesday!

Bad Luck: Wednesday was the day of your big science field trip to the amusement park.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) 

Good Luck: You trip and don’t spill your coffee all over the floor

Bad Luck: You do however drop your phone and it shatters all over the floor

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) 

Good Luck: You run into your celebrity crush at your favorite restaurant

Bad Luck: They’re six inches shorter than you and only look good on screen

PISCES (February 19 to March 20)

Good Luck: After months in advance you have the perfect date night planned with a babysitter and everything

Bad Luck: You get a call from the babysitter immediately after you place your order to come get your children who are now vomiting up the rainbow sparkle slime from “activity time”.




By Sam Mazzotta

Overweight Cat Needs Portion Control


DEAR PAW'S CORNER: The veterinarian said my cat "Frederick" is 15 pounds overweight. He's always been a big cat; is the vet right? -- David J., via email

DEAR DAVID: Vets are pretty good at figuring this stuff out, so yes, Frederick probably needs to lose the weight. Believe me, you'll be doing a good thing for your cat -- not only extending his life, but improving the overall quality of his life.

Obesity in pets has increased steadily over the past decade or so. In 2018, pet insurer Nationwide said nearly 20 percent of the claims filed were for obesity-related diseases in dogs and cats. Things like arthritis, diabetes, liver disease and heart failure. And those claims have risen 24 percent over the past eight years.

The best way to help Frederick lose weight is to control his eating. You'll need to know how many calories per day he should eat, based on his current weight. Indoor cats need about 20 calories per day for each pound that they weigh. So, if Frederick weighs, say, 25 pounds, he needs about 500 calories per day to stay the same weight. 

To LOSE weight, he needs to eat less -- about 50 calories less to start, so about 450 calories per day. (That way he won't be absolutely starving.) Check the calories per serving on the back of the cat food you feed him and adjust the amount accordingly.

You can find more tips on helping cats lose weight from All Feline Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska (

You'll be giving Frederick the best gift he could receive: a healthier life.

Send your questions or pet care tips to


By Keith Roach, M.D.

No Caffeine After 50?


DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently heard that after age 50 you should not take in any caffeine. I do enjoy a cup of regular coffee with breakfast. Is this dangerous? -- Anon.

ANSWER: The majority of people over 50 continue to drink and enjoy caffeine in coffee, tea and other drinks. At reasonable doses it is very safe, and previous studies showing links to cancers have been pretty thoroughly discredited. I am all in favor of maximizing enjoyment of life in ways that aren't harmful, and a cup of coffee in the morning is not harmful and is a big source of enjoyment to many.

As we age, many drugs (I'll consider caffeine a "drug" for this purpose) are metabolized more slowly by the body, so some people may find that the same "dose" affects them more. This may occasionally cause a problem with sleeping for people who drink caffeine later in the day or at night, in which case the solution is to drink less or drink earlier.

Finally, age 50 seems pretty young, to me, to be concerned about changes in drug metabolism.


DEAR DR. ROACH: I think I may have herpes, but I'm not sure. What are the symptoms of the virus? When I go to the doctor, what do I say? When I was there last time, I was given a urine test for STDs, which was negative, but now I urinate a lot and have a bump on my penis. -- M.G.

ANSWER: When we are discussing herpes as a sexually transmitted disease, we usually refer to herpes simplex virus type 2. Even though other herpes viruses can be transmitted sexually, HSV-2 is the most prevalent, with approximately 50 million people in the U.S. infected. HSV-2 usually is asymptomatic, but in both men and women it can be associated with periodic outbreaks of blisters, classically filled with clear fluid and painful. During this time, the virus can be accurately identified by a laboratory. However, it is often not a classic appearance, and it's wise to consider the diagnosis of HSV for any genital lesion. The quality of the herpes blood test has improved in recent years, and it is a good way to make the diagnosis in someone who doesn't have a lesion at the time they see the doctor. 

Two other STDs -- gonorrhea and chlamydia -- can be diagnosed using a urine test, but not HSV. When you go to the doctor, ask for a blood test to rule out herpes definitively.

Urinating a lot is not a usual symptom for STDs, but painful or uncomfortable urination is.


DEAR DR. ROACH: We often are advised to get plenty of fruit in our diet. Is dried fruit (apricots, dates, figs, prunes) considered healthy? -- N.M.G.

ANSWER: Most dried fruit is healthy; however, there are two concerns: The first is that they have about the same amount of calories and sugar as whole fruit, and easily can be overeaten. The second is that you should beware of dried fruits with added sugars. Some dried fruits are preserved with sulfites. Sulfites, as I have mentioned, cause allergic symptoms in some people, but are tolerated by most.


Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to


By Matilda Charles

Finding the Right Nursing Home


When it's time to find a nursing home for an elderly parent or your spouse, the decision can be the hardest part of the process. But it's not the only tough part. Gathering information can make the task even more difficult.

One source is Medicare's nursing home comparisons (, then put nursing homes in the search box). Enter your ZIP code and you'll get an list of places within 25 miles. They'll each be rated with stars for health inspections, fire safety, staffing, quality of resident care and penalties. Make special note of this last category; it can reveal a lot. Penalties can include the past three years of fines and denial of payments if the nursing home failed to correct a citation for health or fire safety. In a serious situation, a manager or state monitor might be called in to oversee the facility.

Staffing is another big issue, especially if the nursing home doesn't have enough employees. Medicare keeps track of how many registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing aides and physical therapists are on staff, and how many hours per day are devoted to working with patients. RNs, for example, are in charge of the patient's overall care plan and supervise the other staff. Even having the right number of nursing aides per patient is critical to ensure that bathing, grooming, eating and more are managed for each patient.

What might be most crucial, however, is how you feel when you first walk through the door. Do you hear any staff members speaking in a rude tone to any of the patients? Would you be able to visit all day? Is it noisy?

Use the free online Medicare booklet about choosing a nursing home to understand your rights, learn who pays for what and how to get help, or call them at 1-800-633-4227.


by Freddy Groves

Fake Blood Pressure Readings, Again


A Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Virginia has been recording fake, incorrect blood pressure readings of veterans who came in for care. A 139/89 reading was routinely entered during blood pressure rechecks. Why that number? Because a higher number would have triggered follow-up care. Once again, it was the VA's Office of the Inspector General that caught the pattern. Eight weeks later, the OIG discovered that nothing had been done to correct the problem. They stepped in again and wrote five recommendations for improved care, and more than 800 veterans have been notified to return for blood pressure screenings.

It's not the first time this has happened. Last fall it was a VA clinic in Kentucky, and the blood pressure reading was 128/78. In that case the OIG discovered that by entering that particular reading, it would turn off the automatic note to physicians about whether or not the patient needed lab work, referrals or medication. It was a ploy to save work on the part of the medical staff. The OIG discovered, by calling veterans, that often no blood pressure reading had even been taken. What made it worse was that the fake readings triggered staff performance bonuses.

We need to step up and manage our health care. Take a pad and pen with you to appointments and take notes: your weight, any medications you're to take, the results of any lab work ... and your blood pressure reading. Keep these notes in a file. Compare them to previous appointment notes. If you see a pattern -- in this case, if your blood pressure is the same from visit to visit -- ask questions. Get a message to your doctor and let him know. 

High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and more. Take care of yourself.