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Songza and the Mini Boom box!! Sounds a little like a fairy tale and it very well could be if you are a music fanatic like me.


Songza is a music app and website available for most wireless devices and the website can be used on any computer platform. It is essentially a music playlist library that can be accessed at any time and from anywhere if you happen to have your smartphone or Ipad with you.



Songza boasts that their playlists are made by music experts and there is quite a good selection to choose from. You can do advanced searches and come up with some interesting choices. If you are not up for searching then just use the Songza “concierge”. Sounds pretty fancy but it really is just a pre-set of playlist according to time of day, activity, mood etc… If one them suits what you are looking for then you will be quickly streaming music in no time.

Here are a few examples of how I have used Songza to get my music fix:

1) Had friends over with kids and pulled out a dance mix for the kids to go crazy.

2) Used a classic rock playlist for an outdoor BBQ

3 )Looking for ambiance music for a dinner party…look no further.

4) Used the acoustic guitar playlist to find new songs to learn on my guitar.


The Songza App is available for all Android and Apple devices or you can visit the website at http://songza.com


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The Mini Boom Box

Being the music fanatic that I am, the thought of having access to my music at all times is very pleasing to me. 



The Mini Boom Box from Logitech is the perfect companion to go along with the Songza App.

I had been looking for a product that would allow me to listen to my music anywhere and anytime I wanted without the constraints of moving speakers or using power cables.
After doing some online research, I finally found exactly what I was looking for. The Logitech mini Boom Box is a great product with sound quality that amazes despite it's tiny size.


When I ordered it online i was shocked to see the size of the box when it showed up in the mail.
This minuscule piece of technology literally fits in the palm of your hand.


This Bluetooth enabled device is simple to set up with any Smart Phone or tablet and can also be connected to any computer using the USB cable.

The set up literally takes seconds and once fully charged you get over 4 hours of wireless music
from your favorite device.


The Mini Boom box is so small you can put it in your pocket and take it with you whether you are
camping or just having a BBQ in your backyard.


Here’s a review i found on Youtube to give you an idea of the sound quality.


This item is also available at Amazon.ca for about 100$

 
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Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan gum, calcium disodium EDTA. Mmmm... sounds delicious doesn' t it!! These are some of the fine ingredients that you will find in most store bought salad dressings.

Essentially these are preservatives and it is these types of products that if consumed over a lifetime can eventually lead to various forms of cancer and pretty much kill you. Are you scared yet?? well you should be. Honestly these are harmful ingredients that you wouldn't want to feed to your children.....ever.

If you think about it, it's quite ironic that you would go through the trouble of preparing a salad and then douse it with artificial ingredients. 

The problem is that we all seem pressed for time so the store bought alternative is just too easy. Everyone likes easy. I think in general, most people just don't know how to make a basic salad dressing. That's where I come in. Once you figure out the basics you will probably be much more likely to make your own dressings with all natural ingredients. 

I'm going to give you two basic salad dressings to build on and once you get these down, the sky is the limit. Simply start with these basics and then add whatever ingredients that you desire. Honey, shallots, fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire, herbs etc... 

The one basic rule you need to follow is the ratio of oil to vinegar. It should be a ratio of three parts oil to one part vinegar. remember this basic rule and you'll be fine.



garlic and oil
The classic French Vinaigrette

1/2 cup of balsamic modene Vinegar
1 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp of grainy dijon mustard.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic and mustard while slowly adding the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a little dried basil or oregano....or even both!!!

Store the vinaigrette in a sealed container and it will last in the fridge for about a week.

Done!

lemon and oil
Lemon and Olive oil Vinaigrette

Grated zest of one lemon
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 small clove of garlic
1 tbsp of dried or fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Add a little honey if you want to balance out the acidity of the lemon.


Leave a comment if you have your own unique dressing that you would like to share. i'd love to hear from you.

 
Jolie Holland

I know...I know...way too long between posts. What can you do? Life sometimes gets in the way of a good thing. So this post goes out to Patricia who is traveling somewhere in Thailand.

She posted a comment asking me If I knew the chords to the Palmyra song from Jolie Holland. I searched for this song a few years ago and couldn't find any information online so I did the next best thing and contacted Jolie herself on Facebook. Click here to find out how that went.

So hopefully this will get you on the right track to playing this song. Don't forget you'll need a capo on the fourth fret to get that authentic Jolie Holland sound to this song.

Enjoy!


Palmyra by Jolie Holland

Capo 5th fret

F Only a few old  Em petals left
  On the F rose that touched your hand Em
F My little heart is a Em graveyard
It's a F no man's land C

F You could tell I didn't care C
 F  You kept pushing until I did C
F Woke up in a pit of  C despair on your bed Am
G And I wondered how I could do without you
How absurd, how F absurd
How absurd C

Put my lipstick back on
Look myself in the eye
I'm heading out in the cold hard world
And I'm getting very good at saying my goodbyes
My goodbyes, my goodbyes, my goodbyes

Can you read the inscription
It seems to once have said
"He better take me with him, when he goes I”m good as dead"

Put some roses on the stones
Look your friends in the eye
If nothing else we've got that old second line
And I'll dance at your funeral if you dance at mine
You dance at mine, you dance at mine
You dance at mine, you dance at mine

They took it all and I don't care
Already said my farewell
Sweet Palmyra and that old Ninth Ward
Have to hit that long road that passes straight through hell
Straight through hell, straight through hell

I wish you well
Sweet Palmyra
I wish you well
Sweet Palmyra
I wish you well
Sweet Palmyra




 
music search

My quest for new music started when I was just a kid. I have always been obsessed with finding something unique and different to listen to. I always loved the classics like the Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin but I wanted to be the first to be listening to the next greatest thing or just listening to amazing artists that no one had ever heard of before.
 
In my teenage years I would buy music magazines and read band reviews in local papers hoping to find that obscure new artist that would give me my fix for new music. This was a great strategy but it also cost me a lot of money in albums and tapes that only had those one hit wonders.

The internet began to solve all those problems but I would still spend countless hours downloading music and listening to literally hundreds of songs before discovering that diamond in the rough. Finding new music has always been extremely time consuming. Sometimes the search is part of the fun but wouldn't it be nice to spend less time searching and more time actually enjoying the music.

The advent of streaming music has solved many of these problems. I have through the years narrowed it down to a science and I'm going to share a few of my music finding techniques here.

One important factor is that you need to know what you are looking for??

If you are looking for new artists you need a starting point. What I like to do is begin with an artist or band that I really like and begin searching for similar artists. A great website to use in this situation is The last FM or 
http://www.last.fm/ . This is a UK based website that is an incredible resource for music. What I usually do is type in a Google search as follows. In this example I will use the band City and Color. I would type "bands like City and Color + last FM". The result of this search will give you a page from this website with about 10-20 artist that are similar to City and Color. They even rate the level of similarity. 

Click on this link to see the results of the search 

The site gives you a description of the artist and the choice of listening to some of their releases. If you are more of a visual person there are some cool sites that will show you artists and their similarities.


tune glue
TuneGlue is straightforward and easy to use.

 Put  in the name of a musical artist you like in the search bar and you’ll have a whole web of musical artists that are in one way or another, similar to the band  you started with.





music-map
Another alternative to TuneGlue is Music-Map. Music-Map reveals all the similar artists in their database, with the most similar musicians closest to  the original search term.
 
 


music roamer
Music  Roamer is also a  great alternative that gives you  pictures of the artists and also the ability to  listen to songs  directly from the site. 

If all you want  to do is listen to streaming music from almost any artist you can think of then I would highly recommend
GrooveShark. This is one  of my favourite sites and I no longer download music since discovering this  amazing  resource.

Have fun with your music search adventures!


 

If you are enjoying this site please subscribe to the blog here




 
Hudson Bay
Hello everyone. I've been on a little hiatus from contributing to the site but now it's time to get back on track and back to the basics.
When creating a blog or a website it's easy to get caught up in the technical aspect of it all but the golden rule is always try to add good content.

The guru's out there will say "write Epic posts" no matter what your niche is so now that I have most of the technical stuff sorted out it's time to write something EPIC!!! Epic seems to be th biggest trending word on twitter these days. If you are not on twitter then you are truly missing out on a very strange world.
 
Personally I find twitter to be quite overwhelming but I have also connected with some really cool people. It's incredible to think that someone living half a world away would be willing to help you out. In this case I like to say thank you to Stauroylla who lives in Cyprus for her support in passing on the good word on Spooning The Fork.

In the picture above, the little fork and spoon we're actually a gift fro one of my readers. What an amazing feeling it was to receive these Christmas ornaments during the holidays from Yolanda. It was very unexpected and so appreciated.

Part of the technical stuff I mentioned was the purchase of the domain name "Spooning The Fork". I am really happy to own the rights to this name now and i'm looking forward to see it grow and branch out into different directions. More specifically I'm hoping to start a section on acoustic guitars in the near future. Along with the new domain name I have also set up a new email address. Please use the contact me page to get in touch.

Damian Rice
Coming soon to The Music finder, I'll be posting some music from  Damian Rice. He is an artist that I admire greatly and i'm sure you will find him quite interesting. I know that many of us have been waiting over three years for him to release a new album. Maybe 2012 is the year??

In the Supper Anxiety section I'll be posting a new recipe that I adapted from a veal Marsala dish. it's one of those can't miss recipes. Stay tuned!!!!

On a completely different subject and maybe a little off topic, I recentlly watched the Sci-Fi movie Apollo 18. The movie itself was ordinary but what I really enjoyed is the link to the website they showed at the end. It`s worth taking a look at especially if you are somewhat of a conspiracy theorist or just a believer in UFO`s.

Here`s the link:
lunatruth.com 

If you like this have a look at these NASA anomalies.
 

 
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Have you ever asked yourself what makes people become fans of various artists? In most cases it’s the music and then the physical appearance of the musician(s). Sometimes it’s deeper than that.  You develop a connection by listening to their songs and reading their music. There is a sense that you can identify common themes in your life through the music and the experiences that they write about.

Beyond the obvious reasons to become a “fan” there are other more subtle details of a musician that will lure you and contribute to making you a fan of the person as much as the talent and the music they produce.

I always thought that the most fulfilling aspect of being a musician is to know that you have made a difference in someone’s life. That something you created has made an impact and brought some level of happiness to others. What an incredible feeling that must be.

Jolie Holland is the type of artist that exudes so many qualities that it’s difficult to not become a fan. Put aside all the natural talent and at the heart of it you will find a person that is truly passionate about what she does and her passion and dedication can be seen in the relationship she has with her many fans.

My first encounter with her music was about 10 years ago. Listening to a talk radio station, the host mentioned an interesting artist from Texas. He then played one of her tracks called “Old fashioned Morphine” from her Escondida release. The first thing you notice is the voice, beautiful rich and extremely mature. What seemed shocking to me after hearing the song is that at the time she was about 25 years old. I could not believe that someone so young could sound like that. If you ever believed in certain people having old souls then certainly Jolie was one of them.

After purchasing her first two albums and listening to them extensively I was hooked. Her music is a blend of so many styles ranging from blues and jazz to Americana and folk. Above everything else her voice stands out along with her passion for music. This is something that simply cannot be learned. An artist can have amazing talent but they will only truly shine when they are passionate about what they do. Jolie is all about passion and dedication to her art form and if you combine that with pure talent you have the complete package.


 I was lucky enough to see her live for the first time at the Salsa  Rosa in Montreal a few years ago. I showed up early for the show to get a good seat and while I was sitting at the bar, this young woman in a long skirt walked  in and was standing near the doorway.
 
It took me a few minutes to realize that it was her.   How many musicians do you know that will walk in the same way as the  audience and just hang out before the show?I’ve never seen that before. I’m still kicking myself for not going up to her and striking up a conversation but I  guess I was somewhat star struck. Not something that I was expecting  and I vowed to redeem myself after 
the show.

  When the show ended I went over to a table she had set up to sell her CD’s and sign autographs and when my turn came the only thing to come out of  my  mouth was “thanks Jolie I love your music!!” Oh well, did I mention she was pretty?
 
There’s something to be said about  modesty and true appreciation for your fans. Jolie comes off as being very modest and she really knows how to interact with her fans. She just gets it.

  At  one point, being a musician myself I was trying to pick up one of her songs on guitar.  I had it down pretty good but there was one chord that just didn’t seem  right. I did a few searches online but couldn’t find the chords to this song  which was a new release off of her latest CD. The song was called Palmyra. I  gave up for while but then decided to search on Facebook to see if she had
created a fan page.

She did have a page so I posted a question on her wall not expecting to ever get any response from her. A few days later I was stunned  to see a response from her in my inbox. She actually apologized for not getting back sooner and sent me the chord pattern to her song. That’s what I mean when I say she gets it. 

Since then I have been  following her on Facebook and I can’t help but think how refreshing it is to
know a musician that is so grounded and shows a real appreciation towards her  fans. She is all about passion for music, hard work and modesty..... and she’s  also pretty in case I haven’t already mentioned it. ; )


Thank you Jolie for being you and for making me smile every time I listen to your music.
 
Keep reading below for more information on Jolie Holland.

(To listen to the song Palmyra please visit The Music Finder page.)


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_After a brief stint with Vancouver's Be Good Tanyas, that
  released Blue Horse (2001), Texas-born singer-songwriter and  multi-instrumentalist Jolie Holland, relocated to San Francisco in 1996. The demo Catalpa (Anti, 2003) introduced the vintage sound of her country-folk-blues-jazz ballads. Alley Flowers, All the Morning Birds and Demon Lover Improv were not so much personal intimate states of mind as tributes to an age long gone.



 Her obsession with the likes of Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Louis Armstrong was better focused on Escondida (Anti  2004), whose Goodbye California, Alley Flowers and Sascha also betray the  influence of the
Cowboy Junkies.


Springtime Can Kill You (Anti, 2006) confirmed Holland as a modern master of a traditional art that dates back to Woody Guthrie if not to  Appalachian folk music: ghostly storytelling within skeletal atmospheres (Crush  In the Ghetto, Stubborn Beast and Moonshiner). But only the jazzy Springtime Can Kill You and Mehitabel's Blues showed the cross-stylistic talent that the first album had heralded.


The Living and the Dead (2008) was even more "extremist" in its rediscovery of the white folk and country tradition. Sweet Loving Man is  straight out of Nashville, and the mariachi of Mexico City sounds positively old-fashioned in the age of world-music. 


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Holland toured extensively and collaborated on other artist's  recordings for the next couple of years. She also relocated to New Orleans. She and co-producer Shahzad Ismaily recorded her next effort, Pint of Blood both in New York and in her home studio and other intimate spaces.

 
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Sous-chef Zeus enjoying a nice fire during the Holidays.

Coming up next on Spooning The Fork i'll tell you why I am such a big  Jolie Holland fan.

 I'll also post a great authentic Italian appetizer called
papa di pomodoro. Seriously simple dish and likely to impress your dinner guests.

Stay Tuned!

 
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With all the preparation, the shopping, the cleaning , the cooking, the gift giving and receiving the I think I forgot to buy something feeling, Christmas comes and goes in a flash every year. How many of you survived Christmas. I believe the overwhelming majority will say that they survived through it.

There’s a feeling of relief for many when Christmas and Christmas Eve have passed. It’s the holiday hangover. Not the typical hangover from too much alcohol but the hangover of over consumption of everything. We live in a society that values consuming so much that we have lost focus on what Christmas is really all about. Why do we celebrate Christmas on Dec 25th?? Is this really the date on which Jesus Christ was born?

 Why do we put up a Christmas tree? What does it symbolize? Where does Santa Claus fit in to
 all of this? We seem to follow all these traditions without even knowing or understanding what any of it really means and yet we do it over and over again with ritualistic fervour. 

We become slaves to these rituals without really knowing it. I find it fascinating how Christmas seems to be this mixture of Pagan rituals, Christian religious symbols and folklore. How did all of this come together to create our modern day Christmas?  Are we celebrating the Birth of Christ or the winter Solstice? Was Christmas created by the Romans to replace the pagan rituals and give the Christians their religious holiday?

Sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions I guess. What I love about Christmas is being with family, seeing good friends and spending time together. Oh and let’s not forget all the amazing food and wine. But still it lingers in the back of my mind.


 What are we really celebrating?  Where did it all come from? The more research you do the more questions arise. Have I peeked your curiosity?

If you want to keep your candy coated version of Christmas intact don’t click on any of the links in this post ; )

It would seem that the Egyptians and Romans we’re celebrating “Christmas” long before Jesus was born. Fascinating isn’t it?

Did you know that Santa Claus was Turkish and that his name comes from his Dutch nickname Santer Klass??

Definitely
food for thought!


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This week in the music finder I’ll be posting a song from a great Canadian Band called Hey Rosetta! Another great discovery thanks to Mitch Melnyk and Stephen Brunt.

 Click on The Music finder to listen to Epitaph.  Acoustic guitar fans will love this song for its simplicity and strong vocals.


As you start categorization the different wines you drink you will start noticing distinct patterns. I’ll be adding another great Portuguese wine to The cellar called Chamine. I seem to have a penchant for Portuguese Vinhos.

Send me your questions, comments or recommendations.

Thanks

Please click here to subscribe to the blog! 

 
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Working in IT can sometimes be such a thankless job. Last week was one of those chaotic times when I needed to do major upgrades to our online portal. I spent 7 straight hours staring at a screen....make that three screens!! Finally when everything was up and running the first email I get after three whole minutes of being back online...is....”I don’t like the new icons”???

Great!! Thanks for your support and encouragement. I guess in the IT world you know that you are doing a good job when you don’t hear from anyone. The no news is good news saying applies here.

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_On a different subject; a few weekends ago I decided to try and master the art of making a great mussels marinara dish in less than 30 minutes. So far, no luck! The two recipes I tried we’re good but not great.  It’s all about the sauce but a 10 minute sauce using canned tomatoes will taste exactly like a 10 minute sauce with canned tomatoes. I’m going to work on this one and come up with something that’s better and post it when I figure it out.

It surprises me to know that many people are intimidated by making mussels at home. It might have something to do with the fact that the mussels are “live”. You might not have known that you can’t cook dead mussels.  If they are dead you need to chuck them. I think the idea of cooking “live’ food might turn some people off. If would probably turn me off also if they weren’t so damn tasty.

Here’s the trick with mussels. If the shell is open before you cook them and it doesn’t close by tapping it on the counter, you throw it out. If you are not sure, you throw it out.  After cooking if the shell does not open. What do you do??? Yea...you got it....you chuck it. Mussels are not very expensive. You can get two pounds of PEI mussels for about 5$. So please don’t worry about throwing a few out. Its better t be safe than sorry. Trust me on that one.

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What is the Byssal thread?? The Byssal thread is what you call “the beard’ on a mussel. This is what it uses to attach itself on to rocks in the water. To remove it just use two fingers and give it a quick pull. It should come right out.



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_  This week in The Music Finder I invite you to listen to a great artist from Northampton Massachusetts. Chris Pureka’s voice reminds me a little of Melissa Etheridge with more of a folk rock feel to her music. I really recommend her driving North CD. You can pick it up on the My Music Store page.

This week’s recipe under Supper Anxiety is a Smoky Chicken Flatbread pizza. I consider myself a bit of a traditionalist so I never thought I would make any type of pizza with Chicken on it. Once I tried this at a restaurant I was hooked. Give it a try. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.


 

What a busy week in the IT world last week. Time to get back to the important things in life!! Food, Music and Wine! Stay tuned for a great Flatbread pizza recipe....some comments on Chris Pureka and what to do with your Mussels Byssal Threads!!!! Exciting stuff!!
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How many of you have ever tried making mussels at home? I'll give you some tips on what to look out for and how to make it a simple and delicious meal.


Stay tuned!